Prime Minister’s Easter message
From Dr Stephen Pacey
Sir — In her Easter message, Theresa May says that this country must stand up for religious freedom. That is obviously correct, but I confess that I have great difficulty in reconciling what she now says with decisions taken in her name, when she was Home Secretary, in relation to claims for asylum on the basis of religious persecution.
As a retired immigration judge, I well remember myriad refusals on the basis of officials’ cherrypicking answers from appellants, such as what colour the Bible is, how many books there are in the new Testament, and “explain the Trinity.” I suspect that the interviewer thought that the correct answer to the first question was black; as for the second question, a correct answer would challenge most practising Christians; and, in relation to the final question, appellants were required to answer a question that had troubled theologians for thousands of years.
I saw too many refusals based on a totally unrepresentative view of what appellants said, and I reluctantly came to the conclusion that, under the watch of the current Prime Minister, decision-makers knew full well that they had a target number of refusals, and that failure to meet that target would lead to “re-education”.
It is shameful that the actions of Theresa May, as Home Secretary, did not match her current sound-bite.
3 Dickinson Way
Nottinghamshire NG23 6FF
Attachment paradigm provides further psychological insights for Christians
From the Revd Dr Colin Critchley
Sir, — The Revd Dr Fraser Watts’s article on how the discipline of psychology can help to understand and develop our Christian faith (Faith, 18 April) rightly identifies the limited work undertaken on how we engage with the core elements of our faith, namely, the cross and resurrection.
As he advocates, psychology can be of great assistance in providing a framework for appreciating and interpreting both our individual and collective faith.
Over the past three decades, there has been significant use of one psychological model to engage with the Christian faith. The work is based on the emergence of a paradigm that seeks to understand inter-personal relationships. The attachment paradigm has emerged over the past 60 years, and its origins are found in a search to understand and manage the impact on young children of separation from carers. Within a few decades, this initial foray developed into a dynamic appraisal of life span relationships.
What emerged from this work is that children develop a sense of belonging, security, and identity which is based on close and deep attachment relationships with key people in their lives. These relationships, when working well, provide the developing child with two core psychological or emotional elements, a “safe haven” where safety and security can be found, and a “secure base” from which the child can explore the world with confidence.
It soon became apparent that the same psychological mechanisms operated in adult relationships. The twin pillars of a “safe haven” and a “secure base” emanating from a secure attachment relationship are the bedrock foundation of adult relationships. These twin pillars can readily be applied to our understanding of God as the ultimate and defining “safe haven” and “secure base” for Christians. The concepts are well expressed in hymnody: “Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee,” speaks of a “safe haven”; and “Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go,” speaks of the security to move out of the “safe haven” with confidence.
The insights from attachment theory are very much part of Dr Watts’s hope that a healthy psychological state and doctrinal maturation are entirely compatible and mutually beneficial. An understanding and sensitive use of insights from the attachment paradigm has much to offer the Christian faith in personnel selection together with organisational management and pastoral support for individuals and congregations.
53 Elwyn Drive, Halewood
Liverpool L26 0UX
Immoral CASD policy scapegoats submariners
From the Revd Hugh Lee
Sir, — The Revd Rosemary Durward (Comment, 18 April) is right to characterise nuclear submariners as scapegoats. They are the ones who are sent to wander the wilderness under the global oceans, carrying with them the sins of their nation, with scant choice over their own fate. They have done so for 50 years, enduring months incommunicado, even from their loved ones, who have thus shared their privations. Their sacrifice deserves to be recognised.
However much Westminster Abbey may claim that to be the primary purpose of the 3 May service, the barely hidden agenda of the Ministry of Defence in approaching the Abbey was surely to put down a marker for the continuation of the Trident policy. Ending it would, indeed, be cause for national celebration.
Former Polaris submarine commanders are lobbying so that their successors are saved from undergoing what they have endured. The privations of submariners are now increased by saving money on newer vessels on space for the crew to socialise, already causing personal problems.
The total expected cost of continuing the Constant At Sea Deterrent programme is £113 billion at today’s prices. The Dean of Westminster, after his valuable eight-year leadership of the Church of England’s educational work, must wish that overstretched school budgets could benefit from such funds.
The Levitical scapegoat was exiled with no choice; submarine commanders have no choice if commanded to fire. The Nuremberg trials established that following orders was no defence. The nuclear missiles are de-targeted: the target is decided in a safely remote digital command post, where hands are clean. He who dispatched the Levitical scapegoat was to wash his clothes and his hands as Pilate did. Nuclear submariners carry the sins of the nation; they are treated as disposable in the 21st century, as were the “Poor Bloody Infantry” 100 years ago.
64 Observatory Street
Oxford OX2 6EP
Safeguarding will never be immune from failure
From the Revd Neal Terry
Sir, — The Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills (Letters, 18 April) cites Joachim J. Savelsberg’s deeply cynical work on “the dark side” of organisations and Diane Vaughan’s more humanistic account of such failings.
Accepting these, I would want to ask, what, then, is it that is envisaged as the future monitor of C of E safeguarding which is devoid of organisational structure and human agency? If both of these analyses have value, they would apply equally to any future arrangement, however organised and however constituted. Victimhood is no more a qualification than a Master’s in Business to prevent future “normalisation of deviance”.
It is not an act of self-protection to continue in accepting responsibility, culpability, even; this cup cannot be taken away. The resurrected Christ bore his wounds, available for Thomas’s inspection, and Thomas chose to believe. There must needs be trust at some point for all to be welcomed and all to be loved, including bishops.
4 Sandpiper Place, Longbenton
Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 8PE
The sins of the flèche
From Mr Paul Velluet
Sir, — Your front-page photo and the reports by Adam Becket and Hattie Williams were distressing enough without Canon Nicholas Cranfield’s unhelpful comments (News, 18 April) on the work of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc — the architect of the extraordinarily beautiful flèche that until last week graced the roof-line of the cathedral and the Île de la Cité since c.1860.
The greater part of the works of repair and reinstatement carried out at Notre-Dame between 1844 and 1864 by le-Duc (as Inspector-General of Historical Monuments appointed by Prosper Mérimée) and his colleague Jean-Baptiste Lassus (until 1857) served to recover long-lost features of the medieval cathedral, such as the central flèche — removed owing to its poor condition between 1786 and 1792 — and the many external stone carvings vandalised as part of the less palatable excesses of the Revolution fifty years before.
I suspect that for Parisians and visitors to Paris alike, the loss of le-Duc’s 45-metre-high, oak-framed flèche will be as much a source of sadness as the loss of the early-to-mid-13th-century oak roof carpentry above the nave and choir — “La Forêt”, the mid-19th-century oak roof carpentry above the transepts, and significant sections of the late-12th-century stone vaulting above the nave.
Like George Gilbert Scott’s, Viollet-le-Duc’s approach to the repair and reinstatement of historic cathedrals and churches in the middle years of the 19th century may not align with today’s mainstream conservation values and principles, despite the unrivalled knowledge of medieval architecture which both possessed. Le-Duc’s work should not, however, be dismissed so glibly. It needs to be understood and appreciated with full regard to the cultural context in which he and his clients lived and worked.
Dr Cranfield’s comment about creating “a mock-medieval building for romantic tourists on the Hunchback trail” is patronising. It is to be hoped that the French Government, Le Centre des Monuments Nationaux, the Church, and other agencies will work together to secure the repair and reopening of the cathedral at the earliest opportunity, recognising and respecting the architectural and historic significance of all that has been lost or damaged in the fire, and incorporating the finest of both traditional and 21st-century techniques and materials.
Chartered Architect and member of L’Union Franco-Britannique des Architectes
9 Bridge Road, St Margarets
Twickenham TW1 1RE
From Maggie Butcher
Sir, — I agree with Prebendary Gillean Craig (Television, 18 April) that BBC4’s Looking for Rembrandt contained some “curious elements”; but they were not so curious as to have Toby Young as narrator or, indeed, publisher of a “strip-cartoon” life of the artist. The voiceover was by the distinguished British actor Toby Jones, and the Dutch artist Typex (Raymond Koot) is the author of the graphic novel Rembrandt, published in the UK by SelfMadeHero.
5b Compton Avenue
London N1 2XD