Sunday, May 01, 2011

Wonderful hymn trumps political correctness

It has long been my personal favourite. It is hard to believe that anybody with English blood in their veins would NOT respond to Blake's wonderful words and the perfectly matched setting by Parry.

The writer below is cautious about the origin of the hymn but it is in fact a hymn to a heresy of sorts: The British Israel heresy. The British Israelites believe that the British are descended from the ten "lost" tribes of Israel. British Israel sentiment was strong in the congregation of my old Presbyterian church when I was a member there in the 60s.

The theology is irrelevant to a great work of patriotic art, however. If you are not moved by the video below you have either no heart or no English blood in your veins -- JR

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land

Jerusalem, a hymn which has been banned, been an official anthem of the England football team and was once chosen by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown for Desert Island Discs, was hailed as one of the triumphs of today's royal wedding.

American actor Wendell Pierce, star of the Wire and Treme, tweeted in America on what a 'rousing version' had been performed at Westminster Abbey. Comedian Dara O'Briain hailed it as the wedding's 'best tune'. It was trending on twitter within minutes of the service ending. James Phelps, the actor who starred as Fred Weasley in Harry Potter, wrote: "I think 'Jerusalem' is such a great hymn, amazing & very moving."

The Prince of Wales was instrumental in helping Prince William and Kate Middleton choose the hymns for the service.

The hymn, which begins with the words "And did those feet in ancient time", was first composed by William Blake in 1804 as an introduction to one of his most famous poems Milton.

The words were later written to music in 1916 by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, an English composer.

The verses are thought to have been based on a legend that Jesus came to England as a young boy and visited the town of Glastonbury, Somerset, where he established a second Jerusalem.

Christians have subsequently interpreted the meaning of the hymn in different ways and some believe that the word "Jerusalem" could be a metaphor for heaven.

It has been suggested that the hymn refers to Jesus coming to England and creating heaven amidst the "dark satanic mills", the line at the end of the first verse, which has been interpreted as the industrial revolution.

In 1996 Gordon Brown made a memorable appearance on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in which he listed Jerusalem amongst his 10 favourite records.

In 2000 the hymn was made the official anthem of the England football team in the Euro 2000 tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands.

But it was banned from services at one of Britain's foremost churches three years ago

The verses were banned in 2008 from being sung by choirs or congregations at Southwark Cathedral because the words do not praise God and are too nationalistic, according to senior clergy.

The Dean of Southwark, the Very Rev Colin Slee, advised guests at a private memorial service that the hymn would not be sung because it was "not in the glory of God".

Jerusalem had been banned before by clergymen who do not believe Blake's poetry to be Christian.

In 2001 it was banned from the wedding of a couple in Manchester because the vicar deemed it to be too nationalistic and inappropriate to a marriage ceremony.


Have-a-go hero told he might be charged after tackling yob

British police bastardry again. The victim is always wrong

A groundsman who collared a vandal has received an apology from police after he was told he could be charged with assault by a 999 worker.

John Harvey bravely intervened after a gang of 12 yobs started vandalising a cricket club where he works in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and grabbed the main culprit.

The groundsman at Linden Park Cricket Club called police as he held the teenager telling cops he had caught the yob in the act and they should send an officer to arrest the teen.

But as the 47-year-old was desperately trying to keep hold of the teen as the other yobs - armed with sticks surrounded him - the police operator warned him he could be charged with assault.

Mr Harvey said: "I expected to be thoroughly supported by the police as a civilian and not rebuked. "I was expecting a response car immediately. I had restrained someone in the act of vandalism and she said 'I must warn you, you are leaving yourself open to an assault charge'." He added: "I told her 'You'd better be quick, there are 12 of them. I might be one of your statistics'.

"She was reading screen prompts and insisting I gave my name and address and I said 'With 12 kids in front of me?' "That sort of thing has to be put by the wayside. I could have been in the morgue by now."

Mr Harvey eventually hung up on the 999 operator and let the teen go as he was threatened by the other yobs - but put in a complaint to police about the attitude of the operator last week. And this week police apologised and said the 999 worker had been 'spoken to'.

Chief Inspector Simon Black apologised and said: "The call taker who spoke with Mr Harvey acted correctly in the advice she gave but has been advised she could have shown a little more empathy to Mr Harvey's situation."


'Indecent' lesbian kiss scenes on British TV face watershed crackdown

Lesbian kisses could be banned from television screens until late into the night under radical Government plans to stop children being exposed to ‘indecent’ images.

A review launched with the backing of David Cameron is expected to recommend that sexually suggestive scenes currently allowed before the 9pm watershed – such as the famous lesbian embrace on soap opera Brookside – should not be shown until later in the evening. A ban on explicit advertisements on high street billboards is also being considered.

The inquiry is being led by Mothers’ Union chief executive Reg Bailey. It was launched last year after the Prime Minister – himself the father of young children – warned that exposing youngsters to adult themes can ‘take away their innocence’.

Mr Bailey is likely to focus on a toughening-up of the watershed rules. A source close to the inquiry said: ‘It is hard to protect children in the internet and mobile-phone age but we have to do something.

‘For some parents, what has been considered acceptable in the past – such as that Brookside kiss – is not appropriate for children to see early in the evening.’

That scene in 1994 was the first-ever pre-watershed lesbian kiss. After a storm of protest from viewers, it was removed from Brookside’s weekend omnibus edition. However, Coronation Street and EastEnders have since featured similar scenes.

Sources also suggested that raunchy dance routines, such as those by pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna on last year’s X Factor final, could also fall foul of tougher watershed rules.

Currently, all programmes put out between 5.30am and 9pm must be suitable for children aged under 15. Sexual scenes are banned before the watershed unless there is a ‘serious educational purpose’. After 9pm, broadcasters are allowed to screen more adult themes.

Calls to beef up the laws, which were originally devised in the Sixties, are likely to be opposed by film-makers, who argue that the threshold is obsolete. And three years ago, MPs warned that the growth of TV channel websites, on which programmes can be seen at any time of day, had already made the 9pm limit unworkable.

Mr Bailey is also understood to be looking at a ban on sexually explicit advertisements in public places. The source added: ‘Some of those huge poster advertisements for bras and knickers leave precious little to the imagination and they are there for all our children to see. ‘It’s not unreasonable to want to take action against them.’

And Mr Bailey is examining a crackdown on internet pornography by enabling parents to ask web service providers to block obscene websites ‘at source’ rather than relying on parental controls.

The Department for Education, which is overseeing the review, said: ‘We look forward to receiving Reg Bailey’s recommendations.’


Must not enjoy hunting

Lou Hinger thought it sounded simple enough. Her bank had invited her to “express herself.” It was part of Capital One’s “Express Yourself” credit card campaign, whereby account holders upload a fun photo of themselves, or anything else they want, and it will appear on a personalized Capital One credit card.

Because Lou and her husband Frank of Hamburg, New Jersey, are avid hunters, she thought what better than to upload a photo of Frank, dressed in his hunting gear, posing with a beautiful buck he had taken last hunting season.

But when Capital One received the Hingers’s photo, well, apparently it wasn’t quite up to snuff. Lou received an email that said, in part:

“Sorry, we were unable to approve the image you submitted. We will not approve any images that contain the following: ‘Violence, hatred, or cruelty to humans or animals, profanity, obscenities or any type of death imagery.’”

If that sounds frightening, it was. Shocked and offended that her bank thought her, her husband and her children “violent and cruel” for participating in a time-honored and entirely lawful sport, she tried calling Capital One to get some clarification. What did that mean? What was so violent or obscene about her husband’s photo — a photo that is undoubtedly repeated in millions of homes across the country? The kind of photo that US presidents, generals and famous leaders from around the world have posed for? She got no answer.

The Hingers, like many Americans, hunt to feed their family. Especially when times are tight, thousands of Americans turn to hunting for sustenance. I should point out that thousands of homeless persons also depend on hunters for sustenance, through one of the many venison donation programs around the country.
Click here to find out more!

Despite the liberal media’s frequent portrayal of hunters, the Hingers are not vigilantes running around the woods with a shot gun for kicks, or to satiate a gnawing blood lust. They hunt lawfully and respectfully, both because it’s an American tradition and it puts meat in the freezer.

“We are livid,” Hinger told the NRA’s Hunters Rights blog, “as we are God-serving Americans who hunt to feed our family. In these economic times our family is fed by hunting, and it’s horrible to be associated with words like ‘hatred or violence.’”

When I spoke to Lou and Frank, they told me how much hunting meant to them, how serious they are about it, and how humanely they take their deer.

But for Capital One, the idea of deer hunting is apparently too violent for that company’s sensitive palate. You know Capital One, right? They have those commercials where wild-eyed vikings and barbarians run around with medieval weapons like spears and battle axes and catapults, throwing farm animals around and, well, joking about violence?

Now these commercials are obviously meant to be funny. And they are. Anyone who finds them offensive should probably stick to CSPAN and the Weather Channel, and get their sense of humor checked out.

But they are also, well, kind of violent. In one of the commercials a live human being is shot at from a catapult! In another a child sits on Santa’s lap with a battle axe! In another a horse is flung into the air!

If Capital One has issues with violence, their commercials violate their own standards. There is nothing violent about lawful hunting.

I talked to the NRA about this. J.R. Robbins is managing editor of, and he was not amused by Capital One’s implication that the Hingers’ past time was somehow inappropriate.

“Number one, they just called 14.9 million law-abiding American hunters violent or cruel,” said Robbins. “Number two, there are laws against cruelty to animals and hunting doesn’t violate them. And number three, hunting is a legal activity that funds most wildlife conservation, game management and research efforts in this country.”

Robbins also took issue with the way the bank handled the situation, saying, “Capital One’s reluctance to talk to the Hingers about this incident is just bad customer service and bad business.”

I also talked to Capital One spokesperson Pam Girardo this morning. She was familiar with the incident and had this to say:

“Capital One has a broad customer base with diverse interests and we are pleased to offer our cardholders the opportunity to personalize their card. We do in fact accept hunting images and have many cardholders with such imagery on their cards. In this case, the photo was too graphic. We invite this cardholder to either submit an alternate image or crop the current image.”

Capital One told the NRA that the photo in question was not the original photo the Hingers sent in, and that the original photo “showed blood.“ Robbins concedes that ”the image on our site was cropped to eliminate a slightly distracting portion of another deer hanging in the background.”

The point is this: I don’t care if there was a gut pile in the photo. Classifying hunters as violent and cruel is unacceptable. Furthermore, I’m not sure how Capital One thinks deer are hunted. With kittens? Pillow feathers? Marshmallows?

Unless they’re bionic deer, they bleed when they are shot. That’s the reality of hunting. Incidentally, fish bleed when they are caught, too. Again, there’s nothing violent — or criminal — about hunting or fishing.

Capital One is free to set whatever decency standards they wish. That’s their right. And it should be noted that the NRA, which also offers personalized credit cards, follows a similar standard, requesting that cardholders clean up any visible blood from their photos. But the NRA would never categorize 15 million Americans as violent or cruel or criminal in the process. That is the distinction.

Capital One owes their customers a clearer set of directions when submitting a photo for personalization. And more importantly, Capital One owes their customers a less offensive response than to characterize them as “violent” or “cruel.” In my opinion, Capital One owes the Hingers an apology for that statement.


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