8 thoughts on “Rev Dr Giles Fraser, St Mary’s Newington

  1. @AndyM

    I haven’t heard Giles’s offering (yet) but the phrase “Mind-forged manacles” is used in a poem by William Blake – it’s from his ‘Songs of experience’ and paints a grim view of life at the time for those at the bottom of the pile; in some of his other poems from ‘Innocence and Experience’ he criticises the role of organised religion in how individuals are treated.

    As I said, I haven’t hear Giles’s pearls of wisdom but I would be surprised if he were unaware of the context – if so perhaps he should team up with AAA and her amazing literary research 🙂

    AAA & Giles combo – what a though!!

    I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
    Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.
    And mark in every face I meet
    Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

    In every cry of every Man,
    In every Infants cry of fear,
    In every voice: in every ban,
    The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

    How the Chimney-sweepers cry
    Every blackning Church appalls,
    And the hapless Soldiers sigh
    Runs in blood down Palace walls

    But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
    How the youthful Harlots curse
    Blasts the new-born Infants tear
    And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse


  2. I am starting to get the impression that Giles sits in his house repeatedly stabbing himself in the palms whilst screaming “YOU WILL BELIEVE IN JESUS.”


  3. I have had a real problem with Fraser for as long as I can remember. His hectoring bullying aggression harks me back to the worst of the teachers I encountered in the late 60s grammar school I attended. The teachers with no real interest in what they were teaching, how they taught it and to who they were teaching. I use the word teaching there in its loosest sense. Now I had some really brilliant teachers who loved what they were doing and knew how to do it. But those at the other end of the capability spectrum relied upon sneering scorn and oft delivered threats of violence. My association between them and Fraser is indelible. And I don’t think it is wholly unjustifiable either. Those awful teachers disliked what they had to do to earn their daily bread but their real resentment, and I am sure of this, came from an inner self loathing that they had not or could not give it up and go to do something else. Giles suffers from the same self inflicted condition. I am convinced that he knows what he says is founded on confected myths twisted and spun over the centuries into fanastically grotesque dogma. He knows he should have moved on years ago but hung on until it was too late and had far too much invested to do so. Hence the bullying tone. He thinks he can convince people, and maybe even convince himself, if he bangs on long enough and hard enough.

    Here he is at his sneering bombastic worst …


  4. In the olden days, Giles Fraser used to be a voice of (relative) reason on TFTD – unsure, open-minded, attempting to persuade rather than lecture. Since his illnesses, from which I sincerely hope he has recovered, he has become a shadow of his former self. His arguments now are nothing but random non-sequiturs and flimsy links, all presented in a tone of voice that screams, “I am the only one who is right, you are nothing.” In my experience, the shoutier and less reasoned a theorist is, the worse their thesis turns out to be. And they know it, which is why they shout. It might be subconscious, but there is usually a core of self-disbelief in the angriest of arguments.

    That is all Giles Fraser has become now, on both TFTD and in the Guardian. This is a shame.

    Blake and Dick, explorers of the fringes of what it is to be human, present a world in which they deliberately blur the distinctions we habitually use. Their target is exactly this, our distinctions. It is very difficult to read them, or to watch Blade Runner and its sequel, and still be sure of our previous certainties. The Bible, on the other hand, is based on exactly the same certainties that are being undermined. In religion, human is human and everything else isn’t, by fiat. To marshal Dick in defence of a Christian view is to completely misunderstand his work. Blake is more mystical, but this is a consequence of the lack of technology. Where Dick uses androids, Blake uses demons and angels. Both see no benefit in the simplistic arguments of religion.

    Two more things, just because he has touched on my favourite genre. Blake is directly quoted in Blade Runner. When Batty enters Chew’s eye lab, he says:

    Fiery the Angels rose, and as they rose deep thunder roll’d
    Around their shores, indignant burning with the fires of Orc…

    Secondly, Channel 4 commissioned a series of films based on Philip K Dick’s stories last year, and it is truly brilliant. In particular, The Commuter with Timothy Spall is a masterpiece.


  5. Giles has it completely wrong. He couples his religion with the people he sees as visionaries, and presents them all together as the antidote to fake news. They aren’t: they are two sides of the same coin. The way to counter fake news is to try all the harder to understand what the evidence is really telling us, and what we are justified in believing as a result. Religion is no help in this; and nor are the likes of Blake, great poet and artist though he was.


  6. Thank you all for the engaging responses above. I was (a) baffled (‘brow beaten’?) by this morning’s ‘Thought,’ and couldn’t help thinking (b) what it could possibly mean to the Today programme listeners? Did Giles really help them all understand something topical in the news, shedding a few golden religious rays on the Babel that (for Giles, anyway) is modern life? I honestly can’t imagine it did. Only people such as those who post on this site would have taken the trouble to dissect and analyse this blustering diatribe. I suspect most everyone else turned off (mentally – not the radio).

    I wonder, if Giles had been broadcasting on a ‘faith’ radio station, or within a longer religious programme, whether he would maintain this hectoring style. I suspect he directs it mainly at us teflon heathens. He should take more care over his blood pressure.


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