The end of the World

It is hard not to be cynical about the proposal to shut down the News of the World in the face of the baying of the crowd. Though there is some temptation to feel some sense of schadenfreude that the paper which has most tryed to whip up a lynch-mob mentatlity is hoist on its own petard, it still seems to me that it is merely an audacious business move that will see a new Sun on Sunday being produced. Thus, there will still be a Murdoch produced tabloid on Sundays but one which is produced at far lower cost than the News of the World as the people who have hitherto been producing that paper are sacrificied.

I saw that the Sun’s own sub-editors had gone out on strike in sympathy with their News of the World colleagues. Those sub editors are the ones who produce the actual headlines which grace the articles written by reporters. As such they are some of the most skilled wordsmiths in the business and a group of people I’ve always admired.

Talking of headlines, the BBC’s front news page caught my attention yesterday with the headline, “Threat of Virgin Strike is Lifted.” I have to admit a sense of great relief – the last thing that we want is Our Lady feeling she needs to be out on a picket line. (Though I wouldn’t put is past her – I rather fancy the odd demo might be right up her street – she does a good line in protest songs). As it turned out, the headline referred to a story about Virgin Atlantic.

Well, how was I to know?


  1. agatha says

    Mildly serious question that has never occurred to me before. Why does she still get called the Virgin Mary when Jesus had brothers she presumably had in the normal way?

    • Well, there are those who try to make the case that she remained “ever” Virgin and that the reference to Jesus’s brothers is an oblique and more general reference to the men of the extended family – cousins, uncles and so on. I think that’s rather silly myself.

      The Blessed Virgin Mary is simply one of the titles afforded her because of the persistent story of Christ’s birth. For myself, I think there is more interesting theological ground to be ploughed by thinking of her as exemplifying a virgin world waiting in longing and expectation for God to come. That kind of thing seems to me to be considerably more potent than birth-story tittle-tattle.

  2. Rosemary Hannah says

    When I was young I was sure the birth story was ‘just a myth’ – but then as I got deeper into history I got more experienced at evaluating stories. Not, you understand, ‘form-critical’ experienced, but historical experienced. What now strikes me with force is that two very different writers tell very different stories about the birth of Jesus with very different genealogies. However, despite the two birth stories coming from markedly different traditions, both bill Mary as a virgin. In any other context, I would find that more than convincing. So here, too, I let myself be convinced. As a sober historian, and cynic, I find it the most probably explanation. Not the only historically possible one, just the most generally convincing.

    Generally, I find historical thought more satisfying than the more circular arguments of form criticism. I am fairly sure I could use form criticism to disprove the fact that David Cameron is currently the PM.

  3. agatha says

    Thanks – I have no problem with the virgin birth, its been humanly possible for decades now so I reckon God could have arranged it easily enough a couple of thousand years ago.

  4. Rosemary Hannah says

    Well, actually it is NOT humanly possible – even with IVF. You cannot get a boy baby, humanly speaking, without a father. But then, humanly speaking, bodies do not resurrect, and walk and talk and eat…

  5. agatha says

    Rosemary, I think you are being a bit technical. Where I come from a virgin is someone who hasn’t had sex.

  6. Rosemary Hannah says

    The problem is that it is not the ‘having sex’ but the chromosomes in the baby. Or to put it another way – how did Jesus get his X? It is easy enough to get pregnant without ‘having sex’ but harder without ‘having sperm’. Despite that, the evidence is that two unrelated stories believe it was done. And two unrelated stories believe the babe was born in Bethlehem. Very interesting.

  7. Agatha says

    From God?

  8. Rosemary Hannah says

    Sperm from God? Not I think, stories ‘from God’ except in the general sense that all understanding is divine. No. Stories from history. And the biology? Truly beyond current understanding. But, here you have it – if one understands it ceases to be amazing and people say : ‘Now we understand, that is not a miracle and Jesus is not form God.’ And if we do not understand, people say: ‘We do not understand and so it cannot have happened, and Jesus is not from God.’

  9. Agatha says

    If I didn’t believe God could knock out a few sperm as and when required I would have Sunday mornings free.

Speak Your Mind