Catherine Pepinster, professional Catholic

And in the Big News today from a Faith Perspective, neighbours. The Big Book of Magic Stuff mentions neighbours, which just goes to show how very relevant Christianity is today.

The End.

6 thoughts on “Catherine Pepinster, professional Catholic

  1. The breathtaking arrogance. Homo sapiens had lived successfully in groups for hundreds of thousands of years before her book of fairy tales started giving not exactly disinterested advice on the matter. If mankind hadn’t been so successful beyond just surviving ,but in developing a culture with a written element, and migrating into the Middle East and beyond , neither Pepinster or her bible would exist.


  2. In Medieval times, if you saw someone with patches of discoloured skin, coughing and sneezing, you would avoid them. Like the plague, as it happens. This was a wise thing to do. We’ve lost this wisdom now. Such a shame that this wisdom, this life-skill that was so important to survival, now seems to have gone. We no longer run away from someone sneezing, shouting “Stay away, stay away!” I miss that.

    I mention this because it’s not a bad thing that some wisdom and life-skill has gone, because it represents the absence of the thing that these skills protected against. What was once a method of staying alive might now be a detriment, or at least an irrelevance. For a long time, knowing not to write something like this on the subject of Roman Catholicism was a tremendous life-hack, extending your life expectancy way beyond the end of the month that it would be otherwise. These days, this skill is less needed (I hope).

    So it might be with some of our interpersonal skills. When we lived in small tribes, or small villages, the people around us were the unchanging extent of our relationships. Getting on with them was a genuine benefit, because we literally had no choice. But for the last 100 years or so our choices of friends have increasingly become exactly that – a choice. We no longer have to be best mates with all six other kids in the village – we can choose our friends from the 300 or so in our school year. So our ability to find common ground with absolutely everyone is less important. We can simply walk away from, or ignore, the people we don’t like.

    All this is without social media, but social media takes it to new levels. It widens the pool from which we select our friends to a huge extent. And this brings new challenges, of course, but to argue that the interpersonal skills we needed in tribes are beneficial, even relevant, to modern society seems to me to be a huge piece of rose-tinted nostalgia.

    So it is with neighbours. I get on very well with one of my neighbours, and can avoid the other sufficiently that we don’t fall out. Many of my friends ignore pretty much all their neighbours, and they get on just fine. Their method of doing this is to give their chosen friends a call and invite them round, or go to their house, or to the pub. We absolutely do not need to get on with our neighbours in order to have a fulfilling social life.

    In modern terms, which I don’t understand, I see no reason why this shouldn’t be true for today’s children. Do they actually need the friendship groups we needed in order to be socially fulfilled? I’m not suggesting that they don’t, or that friendships like mine aren’t a good thing. But I am suggesting that the skills of bronze age tribespeople engaged in a life-or-death quest for resources might be considered anachronistic at best.


    1. And isnt it a tragedy that bronze aged tribalism still lives on in many guises. Paramount of which is the tribalism of religions, adherents of which demand special rights which are then inflicted upon everyone else often with violence or more insidiously by political leverage. Exclusion of the secular voice from TFTD is another example. There are countless others many of which are deadly serious.


  3. I agree with almost all of Steve’s analysis, but the Pepperminister’s assertion that in the good old days we all got on terribly well with all our neighbours is rose-tinted poppycock. There was just as much backbiting, rivalry and conflict as there is now, maybe more. As Steve says, we have a great deal more choice these days about who are friends should be; indeed, we are likely to choose our friends on the basis of shared interests or tastes, whereas we may well have little in common with our neighbours other than proximity.

    Actually, the Pepperminister nearly gave it away when she admitted that the Ten Commandments would have been needed to maintain cohesion among the Israelite tribes. There was no thought of extending the Commandments to cover members of rival tribes, who were fair game when it came to killing, committing adultery, lying or coveting. As the BBoMS amply demonstrates.


  4. Car ownership has made a difference when it comes to getting to know people who live nearby. I live in a fairly small village. I know the people who live next door on either side. The people that I know that live elsewhere in the village are those who have kids who were the same age as my daughter so that we chatted while waiting for the school bus. I run and cycle on the disused railway line so I have a nodding acquaintance with lots of dog walkers. These are all circumstances that are beyond my control, they are what they are, I can’t say that I spend any time fretting about them.


  5. That commandment against coveting is a very odd one. It seems to be directed solely at the menfolk; “thy neighbour’s wife” is second on the list, after his house (though, at the time, the Israelites were supposedly wandering in the desert) and before his manservant.

    Off-topic, but I’ve just found out about a new series of “Andy Hamilton sort of remembers”, of which the second talk is on the subject of religion:
    Worth a listen, especially if you’ve ever followed “Old Harry’s Game”.
    Available for the next 26 days on BBC Sounds.


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