by Frank Schnittger
Tue Apr 30th, 2019 at 03:36:45 PM EST
An edited and truncated version of my letter to the Editor was published by the Irish Independent as it's featured and highlighted letter last Saturday, much to my surprise. It was an early draft of a very long letter which I feel I improved substantially (following Bernard's comment) in my subsequent letter to the Editor of the Spectator. I only discovered it on Monday.
Today The Irish Independent has published a riposte in which I am accused of lacking "balance" in my critique of the Spectator. In particular, I am accused of failing to mention "the importance of Jesus and his resurrection" in my critique. Little matter that I was writing specifically about The Spectator's apparent anti-Irish bias (as noted by the Irish Ambassador to the UK), and more specifically its demonisation of Leo Varadkar.
Today's featured Letter reads as follows:
I read what I felt was an unbalanced view of the special Easter edition of the 'Spectator' in the Irish Independent (Letters, April 27) by Frank Schnittger.
He fails to mention the Easter edition contains six pages devoted to the importance of Jesus and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The editorial has as its central theme the fact that "Christianity is dying and traditional belief is dismissed as embarrassing superstition by the secular states of the west".
There is a two-page article by a young British actor under the title of 'Way of the Cross'. The central theme as a byline to the heading is 'Without Christ we would not have western values'. Charles Moore in his weekly 'Spectator' notes devotes his full page to an evaluation of the four Gospels of the New Testament, summarising the powerful message as it "bridges the chasm between God and man" and explains divine love.
The commissioning editor Mary Wakefield has an article headed 'The true cross'. In it she describes the dying of a 93-year-old friend who was not very religious, but his final week in which he stuck to his resolve and sank from consciousness made her, although she was a Catholic, begin to understand Easter and the passion of Christ for the first time.
As far as the article by Liam Halligan, he was invited by the Irish Government in 2012 to join the Global Irish Network - a high-level advisory board of Irish nationals living outside the island of Ireland. Don't blame the 'Spectator' for his views, as the Irish Government appointed him aware of his journalistic views.
Cleggan, Co Galway
Clearly, I am guilty as charged.
For some unconscionable reason I did, indeed, fail to mention "the importance of Jesus and his resurrection on Easter Sunday" in my critique of the Spectator and it's attitude to Ireland, Leo Varadker and all things Brexit. My critique was indeed based on a small sample of 3 articles specifically on those themes, and I did not read or attempt a theological exegesis of their article on the four Gospels in this context.
Neither do I have a problem with the Irish Government appointing Liam Halligan to some "high level" board. I simply thought it was crazy of him to accuse Leo Varadkar of "politicising the Irish border issue" when that border has been, since day 1, extremely political in nature, and indeed cannot be otherwise, once it becomes an external border of the EU with a non-member state, post Brexit.
Hugh Duffy is, of course, more than welcome to find The Spectator and its content on other issues to be of inestimable value. I do not presume to be a judge of its theological correctness or proselytising efficacy. I do, however, have a question for him which I have found difficult to answer: The Spectator is generally seen as an extremely right wing organ of the extreme Brexiteer wing of the Tory party. Why is it that the proponents of pomp and privilege, British imperial nostalgia and anti-Irish and anti-EU sentiment, are deemed uniquely qualified to convey the Christian message?
Indeed why has Christianity today been hijacked by extreme right wing, authoritarian, misogynistic and homophobic elements? Would Christ today have been a no deal Brexiteer? Would he have spent his time ridiculing our government and its concerns for the peace process? Would he devote his time and energy to ripping up the Treaty of Rome, the basis for an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in Europe as a whole following a period horrendous evil and slaughter?
Methinks it is Hugh Duffy who reads the Spectator with one eye...