Friday, 15 July 2011

Babies and Bathwater

What do Jamie Oliver, anything Harry Potter, Guns 'n' Roses pre 1992 and just maybe the Alpha Course have in common?


Let me tell you.

I judged them to be doggerel and therefore worthy to be written off without further ado. Either that or a fashionable fad, and I hate those at the best of times.

I have many failings, dear readers (believe it or not), and one of them is that if I take against something, taken against it remains - together with everything to do with it. I would sooner eat my own kidneys than read Harry Potter and until today, regarded dear Jamie Oliver as something of a willy. He did little or nothing to deserve that, but sadly for him I then judged anything even remotely Oliveresque to be below contempt. I know, I am horrid. I even know I do it, but seem unable to do anything about it. 

However, my weakness in this regard was brought into stark relief when the fragrant Mrs Acular elected to treat the La Famille l'Acule to a little food at 'Jamie's', his restaurant in Orxford. I have the man's recipe book at home and have fastidiously avoided opening it, so in the spirit of grudging gratitude accepted this kind yet unsolicited offer of free food. I am also blessed, incidentally, with an enlarged Curmudgeon Gland, so I pouted my way to the table with my kids, expecting to be assaulted with 'Pukka' and similar such mockney phraseology. Grrr. 

It was a stunning meal. The kids' food was a delight and they found themselves loving fennel (or Joan the Fennel, in their world) and wifey's sardines. I loved my pork chop rather a lot, and it was served by helpful staff and upon wooden boards and in other quirky ways. I sat and ate pondering what an unimaginable muppet I had been to have disregarded this fabulous, effective and simple cuisine. So Jamie - I apologise. I was wrong. You are the mutt's nuts, and so is the food you designed and that my family loved. 

I spent the afternoon reproaching myself for my needless prejudices. I am one of the nicest geezers you could meet, but for this tendency that I have to arrive at swift judgments every once in a while. That said, there have been times when that judgment was proved right several surly years later, but that is not the point.

At risk of tarring you with the same brush (Heaven forfend), I wonder how often we all do this. I can't be the only one to walk that path with things that we close out of our minds instantly and irretrievably. I will go further and state that I know it happens in churches, because I have seen it happen over many years. I know that in one case I have been the recipient. I think that in part it informs the chasm that exists between 'wings' of the church. One side thinks incense to be the fart of Beelzebub and the other that evangelisation is bordering on common assault. It happens, it is wrong, we all do it at times - but what to do about it? 

I pondered about the moment when I must have taken against Jamie Oliver, and what they moment was. I can't remember. There must have been something simple and silly years ago, but like so many things, we forget the minor cause only to be left with the major ill-effect. 


  1. So when are you starting your first Alpha course then?

  2. It's quite easy to take an unreasonable dislike to something. I actually detested Egg Custard as a child and would produce the sickie if even within half a mile of it. Wonder of wonders, when my spouse served it, not telling me what it was, I actually liked it.

    This seems to be the pattern for most of our lives. We form a prejudice against something, and find it very hard to change.

    The solution for me against many of my prejudices was maturity and engagement.

    An example being, having served for many years in the army, prevalence of homophobia was institutionalised through legislation, and we were formed by the 'perceived rightness' of the policy. Most of us said, we would never knowingly serve alongside someone who was gay. However, once the legislation was reversed, we were faced with the fact that such discrimination which had been legal, was not outlawed. We had to value and respect gay servicemen or women as we did our straight team members.

    Wonder of wonders! We actually found that our prejudice was unfounded, in fact, ludicrous. People we knew well, suddenly turned up at functions with their same-sex partners. Effectively, at last, being allowed to live their lives in truth and freedom, not in the closet. Engaging with them, just showed me in particular how blinkered and narrow minded I had been.

    From this I went on to train as an Equality and Diversity advisor, which opened my eyes to my own past behaviour and to how, we can either deliberately or unconsciously, we can by our words, actions or attitudes offend others.

    This was a Eureka moment and life changing. Sometime afterwards, I 'GOT' God. Another life changing moment. But it gave me a theological understanding of what I had already discovered. Treat others as you would be treated! It helped me also to see that God had been working in me, even if I had not appreciated it at the time.

    Now, I am always on the alert for silly or unreasonable prejudices in myself, but also in others. I know that we cannot force change upon others, but if by lifestyle, conduct and example, I am able to affect their views or conduct, then I am happy.

  3. Great Post, David, and yes, we all do it. Now I happen to be a Harry Potter fan (yes, I know, you'll stop reading my blog forthwith) but I have in the past taken against things and people in the way you describe and lived to repent of it. You're right, it can be the besetting sin of churchmanship and the church is damaged by it.

  4. Prejudice is, I think, a normal and natural facet of our (that is, the human race), way of life.
    Some are inherited, some are taught, some are entirely our own unreasoning response to anything alien or 'other' to our natural preferences.
    I freely admit to having many, some, i still think, not too unfairly biased, but one i will reluctantly admit to having to rethink, is my taste in music.
    Everything which smacked of 'pop' or 'noise with no meaning', was contemptuously dismissed all through my formative years, while at the same time, anything deemed 'classical' be it choral, symphonic, operatic or leider was obviously the real thing.
    It has taken the best part of my life to even begin to recognise merit in the everyday forms of music enjoyed by most of the population and even longer to recognise that there is a lot of so-called clasical music which barely deserves the word music, never mind classical.
    At last, I realise that anything well thought out, well written and performed is good of its kind.
    There are still whole chunks of music which do not appeal to me (Metallica, for instance) but at least I now know that it is just prejudice on my part and an unwillingness to admit to quality in anything not to my taste.
    Prejudiced, moi?

  5. Firstly, thanks for your reply the other day.

    Now I've just got to disagree with you! Just about everything GnR have done since 92 is carp, some of what they had to say pre 92 was questionable, but the music… It kicked out the stodgy carp of the 80's…

    The Alpha course, drink & brewery comes to mind for our 1 attempt. Potter never read, and Oliver, I love him, I feel he's got heart and wants to help and unlike many people much richer than him, he try's. The super rich in Britain appear to want to keep there money for themselves…

    Personally, with little knowledge, I've always dismmised Nickleback as 'corporate rock'. Soaps as carp for the dim (but I watch Casualty & Holby). Women bishops as hmm, but I love the young female vicar I've know for years, but on the other hand I struggle with our 2 older female priests.

    I know I'm wrong to dismiss anything without understanding it, but it's so easy to do, but I always try (mostly succesful) to accept others opinions and, like yourself, be willing to change.



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