Monty Python was a hilarious and surreal take on many aspects of life. It was so ludicrous that most of us could laugh. But nowadays I find that some aspects of modern life which are apparently taken seriously, are more Pythoesque than Python.
Take this headline - 'Bible students are warned…you may find the crucifixion too upsetting!'
This was in The Daily Mail so I guess there are those who will immediately have their Mail armour on and immediately dismiss it out of hand. But I’m afraid the Mail article is only the tip of the iceberg. This is what is happening in Britain’s Universities today.
Theology students at Glasgow University studying the course - 'Creation to Apocalypse: Introduction to the Bible (Level 1)' are being given 'trigger warnings' that the scenes of the crucifixion may be upsetting. The University explains why: "We have an absolute duty of care to all of our students and where it is felt course material may cause potential upset or concern warnings may be given."
Who would have thunk it? Christianity mentions the Cross?! And the Cross is not nice?! God help the poor snowflakes if they ever get onto Jesus’s teaching about Hell! And they should certainly be kept away from the book of Revelation.
But what about other subjects? Could they not cause upset? We are also informed that veterinary students are given trigger warnings about working with dead animals, those studying 'contemporary society' are warned they will be discussing illness and violence, and those studying forensic science are given a "verbal warning… at the beginning of some lectures where sensitive images, involving blood patterns, crime scenes and bodies etc are in the presentation".
Who would have thought it? Vets might see dead animals, historians might hear about violence, and forensic scientists might come across images of dead bodies and blood (I hope the University warns them about watching Lewis and CSI!)?
Stirling University issues a trigger warning for those doing gender studies because students might encounter material 'which is triggering (ie. which can trigger a negative reaction'). I’m sure that is correct – there is much that is taught in gender studies which causes a negative reaction in me – not least that public money is wasted on teaching this nonsense.
What I find both disturbing and amusing in this, is that these are major universities, which pride themselves on being the elites and creating the leaders of tomorrow. These are the Universities and academics who boasted that they were the people who dealt in facts, unlike the ignorant, uneducated, unwashed masses who for example voted for Brexit.
They think that their students are so stupid and infantile that they won’t have worked out that Christianity has something to do with the cross, and that crucifixion is not pleasant. They think that students will not be able to cope with this so need Mummy University to protect them. Maybe they should provide comfort rooms, complete with colouring in books and padded walls with sweets and juice?
But maybe they have a point? After all many churches have so dumbed down Christianity that it has been reduced to a series of pious platitudes, moralistic soundbites and political cliches. The Disneyfied church would probably need trigger warnings if anyone ever dared to follow the New Testament church and teach 'Jesus Christ and him crucified'!
Many churches have so dumbed down Christianity that it has been reduced to a series of pious platitudes, moralistic soundbites and political cliches
Maybe the Scottish government will demand that trigger warnings be placed outside Catholic churches (all that imagery inside) – and less the Knoxian Calvinists get too gleeful at the thought, we will face trigger warnings too – all that teaching about sin and the judgement to come. Jesus would never do that, would he? (Matthew 25?)
In case you think I am joking I have direct experience of one University in Scotland where the Students Association have demanded that the Christian Union do a Health, Safety and Welfare assessment on their meetings. This is not about having adequate fire escapes. No, this is about ensuring that the teaching does not upset anyone and that suitable warnings are posted.
I’m not sure that I blame the students. It’s the academic elites who are either promoting, or acquiesing in this pathetic, weak, moralistic, mollycoddling.
The post-truth Ivory tower of modern academia is not the real world. The real world involves upset, suffering, hardship, struggles and facing our fears. The attempt to protect students from all semblance of reality at least has one effect. It makes them forget about the real things that should upset them. Like the fact that some University principles are paid over £300,000 per year of public money, while 'lesser' staff are losing their jobs and menial staff are paid relative pittances.
Maybe its about time we started having some reality checks at the top
Too many of our university, media, religious and political elites are engaged in a struggle against reality. And far too many who know it is nonsense are not prepared to fight back in case someone gets offended or hurt. I have taken part recently in a couple of media stories about the gender fluid philosophy about to be imposed on our children through TIE and the Scottish and Westminster governments. Everyone I have spoken to (apart from the tiny minority of Queer theory activists) agree that it’s gone too far and that primary school children should not be taught that they can choose their own gender – but most are too scared to say anything because they fear the social media hate mobs and even more that they could lose their jobs. So they keep quiet, cross their fingers and hope it will go away. It won’t.
The trouble with snowflakes is that they quickly melt and disappear. Maybe its about time we started having some reality checks at the top. Real life is messy. Real theology is messy. Real people are messy. We are messy. I am a mess. Maybe its about time we all came out of our academic/political/economic/entertainment/religious bubbles and started to face up to life in all its ugliness and beauty? And then perhaps we might see our need of Christ.