By Auberon Waugh
THE Church of Scotland's contribution to the new spirit of tolerance and charity between churches in its Church and Nation report seems to add up to an equivalent of our own decree Ne Temere, that its members who contract mixed marriages are hound to bring up their children in the Church of Scot
Unlike our decree of 1908, theirs is retro-active. Those who have already promised to bring up their children as Catholics are absolved from their promises "in view of their previous promises as members of the Church of Scotland."
I do not know what promises they make, or on what they base their claims to orthodoxy. Perhaps Christ came to earth with the sole purpose of founding the Church of Scotland, appointing St. Peter as its first Moderator and naming Edinburgh Rock as its temple.
But the rest of the report, recommending it he an offence punishable in law to teach that marriage is a permanent contract, ignores the important fact that in this respect the Anglican teaching is in no whit different from our own, and the Church of Scotland is the odd man out. (For many Anglicans who wish to be remarried in Church, it means the long. cold walk to St. Columba's in Pont Street, a Church of Scotland institution.)
The only lesson which Catholics and Anglicans can learn with profit from this document is to look before they leap into moves towards union. If mergers are to he regarded as gond things in themselves. we may as well start negotiations to unify with the Transport and General Workers' Union.
THE new Dutch govern ment, a Catholic-dominated coalition, is faced by a demand from Dutch writers that they should all be paid a salary of £600 a year by the State, regardless of whether they write anything or not.
That such a request should even be made shows how writers, particularly the less successful ones, now tend to regard themselves as semi-divine beings to whom society owes a debt, rather than as practitioners of a hazardous and not particulary respectable trade.
Yet skill at writing carries no greater social worth than skill at being a carpenter. No doubt a few writers have such an admirable moral purpose and skill as can be said to add up to a contribution to society, but it would be absurd, for that reason, to subsidise the whole profession, much of which has no purpose at all, or a bad one.
Although Holland is a small market — the Dutch government already subsidises literature to the tune of £54,000 a year — the same rules apply to writing as to any other industry or employment, that such parts of it as are uneconomic must employ their resources elsewhere. The picture of the lonely writer of genius, unrecognised in his lifetime, starving to death in a garret rather than turn his hand to useful labour is a familiar one, but I fear it hears little resemblance to the truth.
Johnson said: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." The rigours of the trade are such that, in normal circumstances, blockheads are starved out of it, to become English teachers or literary critics. The only certain thing which subsidisation would achieve would be to put an enormous mass of unreadable and unread material into print, thereby making it even more difficult for the few writers who might be able to stand on their merit to emerge.
MEMBERS of the League against Cruel Sports who propose to sit down in protest against hunting will get very little sympathy from me if they are run over by motor cars or have their faces licked by evil-smelling foxhounds. Although one cannot, in charity, hope that they will suffer either fate, it should be pointed out that the logical consequence of sitting down in places designed for moving traffic is to be run over. Until some enlightened Government builds special roads for demonstrators to sit on, their future will he plagued by uncertainty.
The discomforts of hunting have always kept me at home, and if others are put off by being unable to derive pleasure where there is a possibility that an animal is not enjoying itself, they are quite right to stay at home, too, but that is no reason for stopping other people from enjoying it, here can be no moral or humanitarian objection, and I should have thought that for animal lovers the displeasure of the fox was easily outweighed by the keen and obvious pleasure given to a large number of horses and hounds. Perhaps these people are motivated by a wish to torment their fellow human-beings, but in any case the new fashion for sitting down is a detestable one — for many people it seems their only method of self-expression, Diogenes, the Greek Cynic, who lived in a tub to demonstrate his cynicism. was rightly thought to be rather a ridiculous person. Why should we treat the new wave of philosophers with greater respect? A new cruel sport might be invented that of stalking down sedentary demonstrators, whether demonstrating in favour of Russian ascendancy, foxes or moral rearmament. They could he hunted with mice, frogs, grass-snakes or less subtly, with wolf-hounds.
Tax on Nuisances IF, as the deputy chairman
of ATV claims, the proposed tax on commercial television will bring about the end of Independent Television as we know it, very few people can regard it as anything but a blessing.
Greater use should be made of taxation to remedy social ills. I should like to propose a 10,000% tax on frozen peas sold during the summer, so that although a few people could still afford them Cotton, Clore, J. B. Priestley, Dr. Beeching—they would he regarded more as status symbols than as nourishment like fresh strawberries at Christmas.
Housewives of less exalted status and restaurateurs throughout the country would then he reduced to the degrading business of having to shell their own peas. When the outcry had subsided, perhaps a few people would find they preferred peas as God made them to the hard green plastic pellets which human ingenuity has devised.
Another tax I should like to see imposed is .a £500 licence to play transistor wirelesses out of doors. When people at cricket matches or in the Lake District were assaulted by the noise, they could at least comfort themselves that it was paying for a small part of a Centurion tank, six months Borstal for a modern youth or an extra bodyguard for President Nkrumah, whichever they regarded as most worthy.
AHABIT I have noticed as common to all the village churches in this "backward" part of France is for the priest himself to take round the collection plate while the congregation is singing the Creed.
This is not, as I feared, because no parishioner can be trusted with the plate, but because they have noticed that for some reason the collection is always twice or even three times as much when the parish priest is there to see what they put in.
l am sure the system could be adopted in England. One listens to a great many stirring and beautifully composed pleas for money from the pulpit and it is always an anti-climax when the plate is brought round by an apologetic parish worthy who has no interest in seeing the response to the sermon.