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Britons Are Ignorant of Christianity And The Classics, Says Sister Wendy
Telegraph(UK) ^ | March 25, 2012

Posted on 03/25/2012 9:26:19 AM PDT by Steelfish

Britons Are Ignorant of Christianity And The Classics, Says Sister Wendy

Sister Wendy, the nun-turned-television-presenter, has warned that modern-day ignorance about Christianity and the Classics has left people unable to appreciate much of Western art.

She says she regrets the public's lack of understanding of the Gospel stories, and adds that as a consequence they cannot grasp the meaning of much of the canon of European painting.

Sister Wendy Beckett, who presented a popular series on art during the 1990s, says: "In the past everybody knew these stories, although they didn't necessarily live the spirit of them.

"Everybody used to know the Greek myths and most people had a smattering of Latin, now they don't."

She adds that the widespread lack of knowledge meant art historians were forced to fill in basic gaps, without which many paintings – such as those portraying the annunciation of Christ's birth to the young Mary, or Christ washing the disciples' feet on the eve of his execution – lose the central part of their meaning.

She points out that this phenomenon has coincided with a huge increase in the number of people attending art galleries, and says she fears that their experience is poorer because of their lack of religious understanding.

"This country has been built on the Christian faith – it's our heritage, whether people believe it or not. They have a right to know what happened and it does sadden me [that they don't]," she says. Sister Wendy speaks about the issue in an Arena television documentary, extracts of which were shown for the first time at the Oxford Literary Festival yesterday.

The BBC programme shows how she now uses the great religious paintings to retell the Gospel stories, in the hope of reacquainting her audience with their true meaning.

(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 03/25/2012 9:26:25 AM PDT by Steelfish
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To: Steelfish

She is most certainly correct.


2 posted on 03/25/2012 9:30:35 AM PDT by Mmogamer (I refudiate the lamestream media, leftists and their prevaricutions.)
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To: Steelfish

Speak it, Sista!


3 posted on 03/25/2012 9:35:46 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: Steelfish

Love Sister Wendy! Happily, the Brits still love great art and their museums are testiments to it. One of the problems is the distain in which Christianity is held by the upper middle classes in the art world of England. One of my buddies there is always bragging how his beautiful little church in his Oxfordshire village is always empty of parishioners! He thinks that’s a sign how enlightened people are! I think it’s depressing.


4 posted on 03/25/2012 9:41:36 AM PDT by miss marmelstein
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To: Steelfish

Americans too.


5 posted on 03/25/2012 9:42:07 AM PDT by pgkdan (Rick Santorum 2012. Conservative's last, best chance!)
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To: Steelfish
She says she regrets the public's lack of understanding of the Gospel stories, and adds that as a consequence they cannot grasp the meaning of much of the canon of European painting.

Sister Wendy Beckett, who presented a popular series on art during the 1990s, says: "In the past everybody knew these stories, although they didn't necessarily live the spirit of them.

"Everybody used to know the Greek myths and most people had a smattering of Latin, now they don't."

Even cartoons shown in movie theaters or later on network TV (see e.g. the Warner Bros. and Popeye cartoons from the 1940s-50s, plus Jay Ward's parody "Aesop & Son") had the content of the classics. It's a generational thing -- these cartoons were from 50+ years ago, and no one reads the classics anymore. They're not part of popular culture and are no longer being referenced, even in passing, in grammar school or high school.

One recent (popular culture) exception comes to mind: a retelling of the tale of Perseus, Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief (2010). It didn't do too well in theaters, according to the rating.

6 posted on 03/25/2012 9:44:27 AM PDT by thecodont
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To: Steelfish

Destruction of Western Civilization and destruction of Christianity...all part of the same global plot by the evil forces afoot the last 200 years or so. It is coming to a head in our lifetimes.


7 posted on 03/25/2012 9:49:16 AM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: Steelfish

Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology are enjoying some interest among elementary and middle school age kids. The Rick Riordan books (Percy Jackson, etc.) are steeped in the message that Western civilization matters, and that its roots are still around us today. Maybe these will catch on in Britain.


8 posted on 03/25/2012 9:59:33 AM PDT by married21 (As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.)
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To: Steelfish; zot; Interesting Times; SeraphimApprentice; Alamo-Girl

Thank you for posting this. And I state that Sister Wendy’s comment is correct for this country as well.


9 posted on 03/25/2012 10:21:57 AM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: thecodont

CS Lewis thought that myth was important.
“The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by “the veil of familiarity”. The child enjoys his cold meat (otherwise dull to him‚ by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story; you might say that only then is it the real meat. If you are tired of the real landscape, look at it in a mirror. By putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves. This book applies the treatment not only to bread or apple but to good and evil, to our endless perils, our anguish, and our joys. By dipping them in myth we see them more clearly. I do not think he could have done it in any other way.” Commenting on Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings


10 posted on 03/25/2012 10:23:52 AM PDT by kalee (The offenses we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we engrave in marble. J Huett 1658)
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To: Steelfish

And this is the reason why the UK is leading the charge for the death of the West.


11 posted on 03/25/2012 10:36:37 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: GreyFriar

Thanks for the ping!


12 posted on 03/25/2012 10:37:51 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: thecodont

One of our favorite cartoon shorts, “The Abominable Snow Bunny” is a total riff on Of Mice and Men.

Warner Brothers always included classical music and often classical tales.

She is right about the general knowledge of the Greek Myths and Gospel stories. They aren’t taught as much as they should be.


13 posted on 03/25/2012 10:41:20 AM PDT by PrincessB (Drill Baby Drill.)
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To: kalee

This kind of explanation needs to be taught as a preface to the old myths. In school I thought they were boring, and wondered why I should be learning a bunch of disproven tall tales. Only years later, as I read history on my own, and saw that not only did these myths shape the post-Classical worlds (right up to our own) but in some cases preceded the Greco-Roman era, did I begin to see their value.


14 posted on 03/25/2012 10:57:36 AM PDT by M1903A1 ("We shed all that is good and virtuous for that which is shoddy and sleazy... and call it progress")
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To: Steelfish

15 posted on 03/25/2012 11:05:39 AM PDT by Albion Wilde ("Real men are not threatened by strong women." -- Sarah Palin)
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To: kalee

Neat quote-thanks


16 posted on 03/25/2012 11:07:29 AM PDT by Steelfish (ui)
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To: Steelfish; All
She is correct on so many levels.

In America, no matter the educational vehicle, over the past several decades, so-called "progressive" censors have edited out words and ideas which have robbed the culture.

In 2008, Michael Ledeen, on another subject altogether, wrote of the degree to which Americans have been "dumbed down" on some basic ideas underlying our freedom:

Ledeen said, "Our educational system has long since banished religion from its texts, and an amazing number of Americans are intellectually unprepared for a discussion in which religion is the central organizing principle."

In the Pope's speech in Germany a few years ago, he observed:

"A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures."

Ledeen put his finger on a problem that stifles meaningful dialogue and debate in America. Censors [disguised as "protectors" (the Radical Left's ACLU, NEA, education bureaucracies, etc., etc.)] have imposed their limited understanding of liberty upon generations of school children.

From America's founding to the 1950's, ideas derived from religious literature were included in textbooks, through the poetry and prose used to teach children to read and to identify with their world and their country.

Suddenly, those ideas began to disappear from textbooks, until now, faceless, mindless copy editors sit in cubicles in the nation's textbook publishing companies, instructed by their supervisors to remove mere words that refer to family, to the Divine, and to any of the ancient ideas that have sustained intelligent discourse for centuries.

Now, it is the ACLU which accuses middle Americans of "censorship" if they object to books, films, etc., that offend their sensibilities and undermine the character training of their young. Sadly, many of those books and films are themselves products of the minds that have been robbed of exposure to wisdom literature in the nation's schools and universities.

17 posted on 03/25/2012 11:09:26 AM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: loveliberty2

Very well said. You nicely summed it up all. Thanks


18 posted on 03/25/2012 11:12:55 AM PDT by Steelfish (ui)
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To: Steelfish

Sister Wendy is correct once more. A vast portion of what we now refer to as Classical Art was commissioned by - primarily but not exclusively - the Catholic Church as a visual representation and spiritual metaphor for the Word.

I don’t think there’s been any systematic effort to “dumb down” people to the point they no longer understand the metaphors and analogies they see on canvas or in stone as some suggest. It’s more likely a result of the trend for earlier education specialization that focuses young people on learning specific tasks and career tracks, rather than giving them a thorough grounding in the classic disciplines of Latin, Mathematics, and Rhetoric as done when these were created.


19 posted on 03/25/2012 11:36:55 AM PDT by El Kabong1
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To: Steelfish

I learned of the depth of my ignorance and the inadequacy of my public school education when the U.S. Navy gave me an extended stay in Italy. I walked into the Cathedral of Monreale outside of Palermo and all the beautiful mosaics were like hieroglyphics. I’ve spent the last 25 years trying to make up for the 13 years wasted at the hands of the single payer education nightmare.


20 posted on 03/25/2012 11:57:37 AM PDT by ALPAPilot
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To: Steelfish

I learned of the depth of my ignorance and the inadequacy of my public school education when the U.S. Navy gave me an extended stay in Italy. I walked into the Cathedral of Monreale outside of Palermo and all the beautiful mosaics were like hieroglyphics. I’ve spent the last 25 years trying to make up for the 13 years wasted at the hands of the single payer education nightmare.


21 posted on 03/25/2012 11:57:48 AM PDT by ALPAPilot
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To: El Kabong1
"I don’t think there’s been any systematic effort to “dumb down” people . . "

There is a credible theory that socialist John Dewey and his educrat followers wanted an illiterate population that would be easier to control.

22 posted on 03/25/2012 12:02:36 PM PDT by Liberty Wins (Newt --named after Isaac Newton?)
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To: Liberty Wins

I’m not familiar with the theory you mention, but would be happy to read anything you could link about it.

Although it’s clear that a vast segment of our population is poorly educated and has limited skills in logic and rational argument, it is also demonstrably true that a far larger number of our fellow citizens have basic reading and numeracy skills than during Dewey’s time.

I think we’re witnessing a regression to the mean more than anything else.


23 posted on 03/25/2012 12:28:17 PM PDT by El Kabong1
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To: M1903A1; Steelfish

I recommend the CS Lewis book, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature, Lewis make a clear case for the timeless myth and fairy tale.

“By confining your child to blameless stories of child life in which nothing at all alarming ever happened, you would fail to banish the terrors, and would succeed in banishing all that can ennoble them or make them endurable. For in the fairy tales, side by side with the terrible figures, we find the immemorial comforters and protectors, the radiant ones; and the terrible figures are not merely terrible, but sublime. It would be nice if no little boy in bed, hearing or thinking he hears, a sound, were ever at all frightened. But if he is going to be frightened, I think it better that he should think of giants and dragons than merely of burglars. And I think St. George, or any bright champion in armour, is a better comfort than the idea of police.”
– “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”


24 posted on 03/25/2012 12:37:38 PM PDT by kalee (The offenses we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we engrave in marble. J Huett 1658)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Britain’s once-great army is disappearing into nothingness, led by cowardly, politically correct officers — with the military budget slashed to pay for socialized medicine.

Once Britannia ruled the waves. Now it can barely police Moslem neighborhoods in London.


25 posted on 03/25/2012 12:59:13 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: GreyFriar

Yes, I agree, Americans are being deprived of our history and culture and everything Christian.


26 posted on 03/25/2012 5:30:28 PM PDT by zot
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