Page 7, 3rd May 2002

3rd May 2002
Page 7
Page 7, 3rd May 2002 — Struggle to the death

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Struggle to the death


lovers of fine writing when Charles Moore took the helm at the Telegraph. He had, of course, been the youngest ever editor of Spectator, the weekly that he, together with predecessor Alexander Chancellor, turned into the success that it is today.

Editing leaves scant time for writing, so it was a delight to see Mr Moore the other day on the op-ed page promoting his Debate on Freedom. Don't think I am sucking up, for the great man has offered me numerous jobs in the past. It is simply that it was not the right stage in my career to take on the responsibilities of Hygiene Officer in the Telegraph executive washroom.

I mention Mr Moore's timely Debate idea as preamble to a Scoop (!!!!). Murdoch's Times now includes a clever Guardianstyle "T2" tabloid section, which friends tell me now features a readers' "Debate" page – the written equivalent of those phone-ins where tragically unmedicated persons call in to air their bewildered "opinions".

The thing is, the cohorts are marshalling their forces – in deadly seriousness – to win the kerfuffle over creationism in schools. The business recalls the "monkey trial" at Dayton, Ten, in 1925, in which Scopes, a biology teacher, despite brilliant defence by Clarence Darrow, was fined $100 for teaching evolution.

Spool forward to the 21st century. And I can reveal that something calling itself the "British Humanist Society" is posting All Points Bulletins to every member, which include the dictacts: "The opposition is plainly getting organised...Please write [Debate address given]...emails of not more than 150 words." They go on: "We do need a lot of letters if they are to print a similar page biased in our direction." The battle lines are drawn.

A MR BARRY Hudd, pressman to Bishop Hollis, has the theme tune to Star Wars programmed in to his cellu lar telephone. Is he expecting an imminent Attack of the Clones (or whatever the ,new film is called)? Or does he just like Wagner-esque pomp? We should be told. Regrettably, I suspect we shall not be, even though the Bishop is responsible for Mission, Unity, Outreach, etc, etc.

SPEAKING OF things "out

there", the mind naturally turns to Oliver McTernan (at the time of writing still Fr McTernan, but probably not by the time you read this). Former Herald hack Jonathan Petre, lovely man, percipient writer and, as it happens, a friend of mine, describes Oliver's "departure" from the priesthood as "one of the most highprofile [departures] since that of Bruce Kent in 1987". Now, really, Jonathan: Bruce Kent was an influential political figure – boss of CND when that meant something – and a monsignor to boot. Good grief, man, McTernan wasn't even in the country, having absconded to Harvard to spread his wisdom. And his outstanding qualities, so far as I could tell, amounted to papladen drone-ologues at ten to eight on Thought for the Day, combined with tetchiness whenever disagreed with. I suppose 011ie's is what counts for a "high profile" in these degraded times.

ANOTHER FIRST in an occasional series: Couldn't Have Put It Better Myself Here is Andrew (A N) Wilson, the leading, former AngloCatholic, thinker, on the current US controversy. "One thing is for sure," writes A N in his Sun Tel column. "The campaigners against paedophilia in the Church are really campaigning, not solely against perverts, but against Catholic conservatism."

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