The area covered by the TCR is often referred to as part of the Bible Belt - as indeed, the paper’s content with emphasis on local church events, Focus on the Family and the Church Service Directory illustrate. The TCR sometimes reads like a church bulletin. Fair enough - reflective of some of the residents within it’s distribution.
But, doesn’t the paper go too far with a book reviewer, Jeffrey Hall, invariably inserting his religious views in the books he reports on with Bible quotes and what he considers as sins? This past week he reviewed the book Philomena, a book about the experiences that up to 30,000 young Irish girls and young women went through in Catholic run asylums and workhouses which still existed until 1996. The girls were sent to these places because they became pregnant out of wedlock, were the offspring of unmarried women, or for some petty offenses such as stealing.
But Mr. Hall said that the book gave him indigestion because part of it described the experiences of a boy who was a homosexual. Mr. Hall claims that homosexuality goes against the Word of God. Well, in his view.
But, why is his take on what is and what is not a sin relevant in a book review?
From my perspective, what should have given Mr. Hall indigestion were the egregious behaviors of all too many nuns against the girls and women in their charge. To say nothing about the fact that the Vatican countenanced the continuation of these asylums, (Mr. Hall called them Catholic convents) which in large measure were little more than workhouses and laundries where the young women were daily subject to long hours of grueling work with no pay. The laundries served hotels, the military and other establishments and the Catholic church collected the fees as it also did when many of the children put in their care were put up for adoption at healthy fees.
Mr. Hall gives lip service to the cruelty of many of the nuns toward the girls with a quote from the forward of the book: “These were different times. The system was a terrible one. But, many of the nuns themselves were kind and not all the girls in their care were treated cruelly.”
Well, that may be okay for the person who wrote the forward, but why should so many, or any of the girls have been treated cruelly in a church operated facility?
Instead of dealing with the “sins” of these church sponsored workhouses, Mr. Hall opted to talk about the so-called sin of a young gay boy.
Here are two quotes from two books I read in the last month:
“There is only one sin - to hurt another human being. All the rest is hogwash.”
Howard Fast in his book The Outsider
“Why do we need a group of people who we sneer at? What fundamental need in our pathetic souls does it fulfill?”
Tony Parsons in his book Man and Boy
S. Reid Warren, III