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Milo Yiannopoulos burst into the mainstream on February 20, 2017 because of an attack from Big Media and the GOPe who want to permanently marginalise him.

What happened to him needs a post because recent news about him, described below, has even reached Spain’s El País!

For the past year, Milo has toured American university campuses promoting his own quirky brand of conservativism, involving a) support of Donald Trump, b) decrying social justice warriors and c) discussing his gayness. He also gives interviews, most recently for Bill Maher, and makes his own podcasts.

Milo, 32, was born in Kent — England. His father is Greek and his mother is British. His maternal grandmother is Jewish. That is an important detail which will be explained below.

He attended Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury. His childhood was troubled. His parents divorced when he was young and his mother remarried. Milo and his stepfather did not get along. He went to live with his grandmother.

N.B.: Portions of the rest of this post are unsuitable for children and impressionable adolescents.

Sexuality

Milo was molested during his adolescence. He says that a Catholic priest, known only as Father Michael, taught him certain aberrant sex acts. This determined his sexuality.

In one of the college campus videos I saw in 2016 — Rutgers — Milo said that he wanted to stay gay to shock his mother. He said that she found him in bed one morning with another young man.

In the same video, he went on to say that he considered being gay a reversible lifestyle. For him, it was a way to rebel.

He said he wants to get married — to a woman — and have children. However, for the moment, he was enjoying his black boyfriend too much.

Milo also railed against lesbians, which might be why the Left hate him so much.

Here’s the Rutgers talk from February 16, 2016:

Education and business acumen

I had not heard of Milo before the presidential primary in 2016.

However, he got his start in the UK. Although he did not graduate from either the University of Manchester or Wolfson College, Cambridge (a constituent college of the famous university), he had the nous to get a technology assignment with the Daily Telegraph in 2009. That led to his becoming a social commentator and interviews on BBC Breakfast, Sky News and the BBC’s Newsnight, where he discussed various subjects from Benedict XVI’s visit to the UK to gay marriage.

During this time, he co-founded an online tech magazine, The Kernel, which made its debut in 2011. It had its financial ups and downs. Daily Dot Media bought it in 2014.

That same year, Milo began investigating Gamergate. He intended to write a book about it. He received threatening items in the post during this time. The culmination came in 2015, when he attended a Gamergate meeting in Washington DC which received a bomb threat investigated by the FBI. Later that year, he appeared at a Society for Professional Journalists event which had to be evacuated for the same reason.

Milo aside, for a number of Millennials, Gamergate ended up being about the assault by the Left on their opponents. I do not know much of anything about Gamergate, but a number of gamers sought refuge on Reddit and are regular members of The_Donald. Gamergate had a role to play in the conservatism of American twenty-somethings.

In 2015, Milo became the technical editor for Breitbart in the US. He is now their senior editor.

Early in 2017

Milo is known for referring to Trump as ‘Daddy’. That said, he is highly articulate and expresses himself well, constructing logical arguments against the Left.

In November 2016, the Washington Post put him forward as a possible press secretary for the president-elect:

If he really wants to shake things up, Trump could install Yiannopoulos — the self-described “most fabulous supervillain on the internet” — as his press secretary.

Until recently, Milo also had a book scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster. That is how influential he has become. More on what happened to the book below.

Berkeley

His appearance at USC Berkeley was cancelled earlier this month by leftist rioters, who went on the rampage, assaulting Trump supporters standing in the queue at the university waiting to be let in for the talk and, among other things, going off campus to destroy an ATM stall at a nearby bank branch. Police stood by and did nothing.

On February 3, 2017 The Daily Caller reported (emphases mine):

The left-wing group that helped organize the violent shut down of the Milo Yiannopoulos event at the University of California, Berkeley on Wednesday is backed by a progressive charity that is in turn funded by George Soros, a major labor union and several large companies.

The Alliance for Global Justice, based in Tucson, is listed as an organizer and fiscal sponsor for Refuse Fascism, a communist group that encouraged left-wingers to shut down the Yiannopoulos event.

The call to arms succeeded. Yiannopoulos’ talk was cancelled after demonstrators lit fires, vandalized businesses, and assaulted Donald Trump and Yiannopoulos supporters

And on its Facebook page, the group asserted that the vandalism and arson were not “violence.” Instead, the group argued that Yiannopoulos and Trump perpetrate violence through the policies they support.

In an interview with Alex Jones, which I heard at the weekend, Milo expressed his astonishment at the melée. Speaking personally, he said that America represented the pinnacle of free speech. He was incredulous that unhinged protesters could get by with uncontrolled violence just because they disagreed with what he was going to say.

On February 8, Milo and Jones discussed a ‘Back to Berkeley’ event at which they would appear together:

Bill Maher interview

After the Berkeley talk was cancelled, Milo gave an interview to Bill Maher, who has a long-running left-of-centre political chat show on HBO. Milo, known for his rhetoric, impressed the leftists in the audience.

The show aired on Friday, February 17. I do not watch Maher, but The_Donald has more about the interview, wherein Milo criticised:

someone who panders to gays while taking money from Saudi Arabia? I’ll take Trump any f—–g day.

A panellist asked Milo if he was American. Milo replied in the negative and the panellist — a Democrat — told him to ‘f’ off.

Comments at The_Donald (same link), which judged audience reaction, were positive, such as this one:

In my opinion this interview wasn’t to actually debate or “redpill” people, the entire point of this interview was to show how Milo wasn’t some “alt right death squad neo-nazi”.

To that goal I think this interview went great and the people who thought he was a nazi or whatever now see how foolish these Berkeley people and commiefornians really are.

The Left’s outrage is ironic, given that Milo’s maternal grandmother is Jewish and his boyfriend is black.

Here are the videos:

CPAC invitation

The next day, February 18, The Hollywood Reporter featured an exclusive, ‘Milo Yiannopoulos Tapped as Keynote Speaker at Conservative Political Action Conference’.

Many were stunned to read the news:

The Washington gathering, known as CPAC, is the premier event for established conservatives. This year’s speakers include Vice President Mike Pence, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, as well as media personalities Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Mark Levin and actor Robert Davi.

None of the 60 or so confirmed speakers, though, will have more stage time than Yiannopoulos at this year’s event, which is set to run Feb. 22-25 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. The speeches will be broadcast live on C-SPAN.

Organizers of CPAC are set to officially announce on Saturday the addition of Yiannopoulos, whose Friday night appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher has been a hot topic among conservatives and liberals alike. On the show, he criticized HBO stars Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham and addressed his well-known problem with actress Leslie Jones.

Yiannopoulos told The Hollywood Reporter his CPAC presentation will focus on his “experiences in America battling feminists, Black Lives Matter, the media, professors and the entertainment industry.”

Really? Could it be? If so, how daring! A new and crucial chapter would begin for the GOP!!

Hopes were high among Trump supporters sceptical of the Republican status quo that the party might actually be broadening its horizons.

Milo, for all his faults, really did get a lot of younger people to question the Left and Big Media. He did bring in a share of the youthful Trump vote.

Spirits at The_Donald were understandably buoyant. Here are three representative comments:

Milo is no longer counter culture, Milo is mainstream. Great work Berkeley, you stopped him!

Lol well if anyone can be a red pill it’s this guy. Hopefully some people watching change their minds.

Milo is a SUPERSTAR

However, just hours later, Milo’s employer Breitbart posted ‘Leftist and Establishment Conservatives Freak Out over Milo CPAC Speech’, showing that a Twitter row had exploded.

GOPe supporters quickly voiced their disapproval. No surprise there.

National Review — always NeverTrump — tweeted the CPAC organiser Matt Schlapp:

Jonathan Cook, another member of the NeverTrump camp and the PR man for Conservatives for Environmental Reform, said:

NeverTrumpers strike back

On Sunday, February 19, Milo gave an interview to Breitbart News Daily on Sirius XM.

As usual, he spoke the unpalatable truth:

“You listeners will know I’m not prone to self-flattery, but it might strike you as strange that one gay guy from Britain has managed to accomplish more than thirty years of other conservatives on American college campuses,” proclaimed MILO. “It’s very depressing” …

I wonder where the rest of the conservative movement has been,” MILO continued. “I think the answer is: writing essays, investing in think tanks and magazines that nobody reads, [and] complaining about the problems rather than going and actually doing something about it.”

“Now I know some conservatives find my style a little abrasive and my message a little coarse, but they’re working, and they’re working in the same way that Donald Trump is,” he concluded. “He’s not refined… but he gets the job done, and I think I’m doing something of the same on college campuses. So [at CPAC I will point out] a few observations about where I think the conservative movement has perhaps been getting it slightly wrong and what I think you guys should focus on in the next ten years.”

Breitbart readers were, rightly, over the moon.

However, dark clouds loomed on the horizon. NeverTrumper Glenn Beck — a formerly informative person when on Fox News but much different afterwards on his site The Blaze — was deeply unhappy.

One of Beck’s journalists had a root around Milo’s extensive videos and posted ‘Video surfaces of Milo Yiannopoulos defending pedophilia, ACU board reportedly not consulted on CPAC invite’. The article excerpted interviews Milo gave in 2015 and 2016, concerning the aforementioned Father Michael who molested him — and paedophilia in general. The article concludes with a Blaze observation on CPAC and President Trump:

Last year’s keynote speaker was conservative radio host Glenn Beck, who many criticized in 2016 for being an outspoken critic of then-candidate Donald Trump. Beck didn’t support Trump because he didn’t think Trump was conservative enough.

Milo marginalised for now

Glenn Beck can pat himself on the back.

He succeeded in not only getting Milo off CPAC altogether but also managed to stymie his book contract with Simon & Schuster.

NeverTrumpers are cheering.

Before I describe what happened, I am of two minds about Milo. First, I applaud his common sense and the sterling work he did with young university-age voters. Secondly, it’s a shame he is so crude. Thirdly, I wish he weren’t gay and would just start a family.

Now back to the story. Here is a composite of messages (created by someone at The_Donald) about Milo’s downfall as seen from the NeverTrump perspective. The small print in the cream coloured box is the lead post to an exchange on 4chan/pol/ (strong language warning, although there is much truth in what people wrote).

The 4chan/pol/ post was created early in the morning of Monday, February 20. It began:

FYI the MSM has a huge … media onslaught that is set to go live Monday to scorch earth Milo and destroy him via the pedophile label …

The poster says that a) left-wing media people are angry Milo got air time on Bill Maher’s show; b) they are similarly angry Milo has a book deal with a major publishing house and c) they are trying to discredit Donald Trump and his adviser Breitbart‘s Steve Bannon.

Here is another salient point:

Expect a steady drumbeat of “Milo is a pedophile” and “Milo must be dropped from CPAC”. The latter is especially important, in terms of the divide and conquer long game the press is playing: the press wants a civil war with the McCain/Graham wing of the GOP and the Trump/Ryan wing so as to weaken the Republicans in 2018. The overall plan is to make the Republicans fear social shaming from the media and the left more than they do their actual constituents who love Trump, in hopes of regaining the House and enough Senate seats to pull off an impeachment of Trump.

Later that day, the left-wing Daily Beast had the whole story, beginning with this:

Milo Yiannopoulos, the conservative provocateur and face of the alt-right, has been disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference after a recording surfaced where he appeared to defend pedophilia. 

“Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference,” American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp said in a statement. 

“We realize that Mr. Yiannopoulous [sic] has responded on Facebook, but it is insufficient,” the statement continued.

This is Milo’s Facebook statement.

The Daily Beast article reports the outrage from Republicans involved in the event and lists more of Milo’s past sins:

Yiannopoulos rose to prominence as an editor at Breitbart where he used his Twitter account as a platform for harassment. He was inevitably suspended for remarks he made about actress Leslie Jones. Additionally, Yiannopoulos created a grant program for white students to attend college and, as The Daily Beast reported, initially pocketed $100,000 for himself.

Hours after the CPAC announcement appeared, Publishers Weekly reported that Simon & Schuster backed away from Milo’s book:

After enduring withering criticism since it was revealed in late December that it planned to publish a book by controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, Simon & Schuster said late Monday that it has canceled the book.

A brief statement released by the company read: “After careful consideration, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint have cancelled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos.”

While S&S has stayed behind its decision to publish the book for almost two months, the last straw may have come over the weekend when organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference disinvited Yiannopoulos after a video interview emerged of him appearing to condone pedophilia. Yiannopoulos denied that he condoned pedophilia and that the video had been edited. Nevertheless Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union which is organizing the meeting, issued a statement early on Monday saying they had canceled his appearance. S&S’s statement followed a few hours later.

Analysis

Vox Day, a Christian blogger who writes socio-political commentary under a pseudonym, analysed the Milo controversy in ‘Operation Destroy Milo’.

Vox Day is a youngish Trump supporter himself and sees that this isn’t so much about Milo as it is Trump, his advisers and the new alt-right journalists and commentators, who are every bit as talented as those on the Left:

In case you didn’t realize that the concerted effort to take down Milo was a designated media hit that is aimed to divide and conquer Republicans

They are particularly frightened of the Alt-Right, of course, because only the Alt-Right has the courage to actually attack them …

Keep that in mind if you feel inclined to wax indignant and turn your back in huffy righteousness on Milo, Gavin [McInnes], Steve, Laura [Ingraham], Ann [Coulter], or Anthony [Cumia]. Or, eventually, Mike Cernovich, Stefan Molyneux, and me. You are being played by the Left. You are, quite literally, serving their interests.

Some of Vox Day’s readers think that Milo is emblematic of a new counterculture, not dissimilar to the Beats of the 1950s (Kerouac, Kesey, Ginsberg) and the youth movement of the 1960s (Summer of Love, antiwar movement). Could be. We’ll see.

Conclusion

What happened to Milo is a perfect illustration of how the interests of the Left, including the media, and the GOPe — the NeverTrumpers — intersect. All are globalists.

Note what happened on February 14 with General Flynn — just under a week ago. This is salami-slicing to diminish support for Trump, bit by bit.

Even though Trump has never met Milo, the objective here is to get to Steve Bannon, the president’s closest adviser in many ways. Stay tuned.

UPDATE — Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Daily Mail published an article, ‘”Witch-hunt”: Milo quits Breitbart over paedophilia storm’.

Milo held a press conference today in New York, accusing media and political adversaries of conducting a ‘witch-hunt’ against him, however, he maintained he would not be silenced.

He again apologised for previous language he used that could have been construed wrongly. He reiterated that he does not approve of child abuse and stated again that he was a victim of it.

Milo also resigned from Breitbart.

He said he has an 01-B visa, which the Mail says, is granted to foreigners of ‘extraordinary ability’, therefore, he is likely to be able to continue to live and work in the United States.

The article states that Milo said that Steve Bannon made him ‘a star’.

However, the current editor-in-chief of Breitbart, Alex Marlow, told the media outfit’s radio show that Milo’s views on sexuality were:

‘indefensible’, ‘troubling’ and ‘upsetting’ — and ‘a total surprise’ to his employers.

Really? Everyone else knew for at least a year. Breitbart must have known something for longer.

Yet:

Breitbart, his employer, had however stood by him. At his press conference he said that he would not be deterred from carving out a career as a conservative and libertarian provocateur.

In the end, Milo left graciously:

In quitting Breitbart, he said he did not want to distract from the site’s work. In a statement, he said: ‘Breitbart news has stood by me when others caved.

They have allowed me to carry conservative and libertarian ideas to communities that would otherwise never have heard them.

‘They have been a significant factor in my success. I’m grateful for that freedom and for the friendships I forged there.

I would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues’ important reporting, so today I am resigning from Breitbart, effective immediately.

‘This decision is mine alone.’

He added: ‘When your friends have done right by you, you do right by them. For me, now, that means stepping aside so my colleagues at Breitbart can get back to the great work they do.’

We can be sure this is not the last we have heard from Milo Yiannopoulos.

On Monday, February 6, 2017, Queen Elizabeth II achieved what no other British monarch has: a Sapphire Jubilee.

The Queen acceded the throne 65 years ago, following the death of her father, King George VI.

Her Majesty celebrated the day privately at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. She attended Sunday service at St Peter and St Paul in West Newton, Norfolk, where she greeted well wishers and accepted bouquets of flowers afterwards.

Military salutes were given in London on Monday. The Telegraph has photos and reported:

Royal gun salutes were staged in London on Accession Day, as is the tradition, with a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at noon.

The Band of the Royal Artillery played a selection of celebratory music close to the firing position as 89 horses pulled six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns into position in the park.

A 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired at the Tower of London at 1pm.

The photo above was taken in 2014. Buckingham Palace re-released it for the Sapphire Jubilee.

Sky News explains:

The picture was taken by the photographer David Bailey in 2014 for the GREAT campaign, a publicity campaign to promote Britain around the world.

In the photograph The Queen is wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding present in 1947.

It was on the 6 February, 1952 that her father died while at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, who was 25, was in Kenya on a royal tour with her husband Prince Philip at the time.

Although no national celebrations are planned this year, the Royal Mint is issuing a set of commemorative coins. Royal Mail has released a £5 commemorative stamp in sapphire blue.

Two years ago, when the Queen became Britain’s longest-ever reigning monarch, she said that achieving that landmark was:

“not one to which I have ever aspired”.

She added: “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception.”

Those of us who treasure her give thanks and wish her well for many more years as our monarch.

As Her Majesty is approaching her 91st birthday this year, the Duke of Cambridge — Prince William — is taking on more official royal appearances on her behalf.

With regard to length of reign, Queen Victoria comes second in the list with 63 years. Then we go further back in history to George III, who ruled for 59 years, 96 days (1760-1820). James VI of Scotland served for 57 years, 246 days (1567-1625).

In fifth place — incredibly, given it that this was during the Middle Ages — is Henry III of England and Lord of Ireland, who reigned for 56 years and 29 days between 1216 and 1272.

click to return to image detailsYesterday’s post about Plough Monday looked at a post-Epiphany tradition revived in the Fens of Cambridgeshire.

Today’s post takes us to Cambridge, where a beloved institution celebrated its 140th anniversary in 2016: Heffers bookshop.

(Photo credit: Heritage Explorer, showing the children’s bookshop in the late 1960s.)

As most Cambridge University colleges are closed to the public, especially during term time, a visit to Heffers is often the closest people get to sharing a slice of the student academic experience. For book lovers and curious tourists, no visit to Cambridge is complete without a trip to Heffers.

The Michaelmas 2016 issue of CAM (Cambridge Alumni Magazine) had a fascinating feature on Heffers. The article, by William Ham Bevan, begins on page 20 of the PDF and continues through page 25. (Michaelmas is the feast of St Michael and All Angels, September 29. Cambridge maintains traditional term names that follow the Church year: Michaelmas, Lent and Easter.)

‘The bookshop known all over the world’

The bookshop is so much a part of town and university life, that author Julie E Bounford, also a tutor at the University of East Anglia, wrote a book about it called This Book Is About Heffers: The Bookshop That Is Known All Over The World. With the help of researcher Rob Webb:

The project is based in part on a fascinating personal collection of photographs, press cuttings and other ‘memorabilia’ of the firm’s activities gathered by the late Winifred Anstee (Julie’s great aunt). This covers staff outings, Heffers family occasions and other key events, dating back to 1913 …

Both Julie’s and Rob’s families have had a long association with Heffers. Julie’s great-grandfather, Frederick Anstee, worked for the company for forty-seven years (starting at the age of thirteen). On his death in 1944, E. W. Heffer wrote an obituary in The Bookseller trade journal. Her great aunt, Winifred Anstee, her grandmother, Lillian Saunders (nee Anstee) and her mother’s cousin, Bryan Anstee, also worked for the firm (as a secretary, shop assistant and printer, respectively).

Rob’s grandfather and father worked for the company during the 1910s and 1940s-70s, respectively. Rob also worked at Heffers during the 1970s.

Bounford, who grew up in Cambridge, has fond memories of the firm’s children’s bookshop, where she bought a paperback every week with her pocket money. Her website has an article about this time in her life, ‘Choosing books, living life’. This would have been around the time the photo at the top of this post was taken. Julie says (emphases mine):

Note the absence of the paraphernalia that you tend to get in children’s bookshops today.  Like children’s diaries, the bookshops were less cluttered in those days.  The focus was the booksChoosing was always a delight but never took long (it took more time to queue for our wares at Sainsbury’s meat and cheese counters afterwards) and I would be even more delighted if the need arose to use the oak library steps to reach a particular volume.

She included the announcement on the death of her great-grandfather, a loyal lifelong employee:

On his death in 1944, E. W. Heffer wrote in the trade journal,

‘We are grieved to announce the death suddenly, on Sunday June 18th, 1944, of Mr Frederick Anstee, of 27 Humberstone Road, Cambridge, aged 60 years.  Mr Anstee entered our employment as a boy, forty-seven years ago, and by most faithful, conscientious and capable service he rose to be head of our science department.  He was known, appreciated and respected by a great number of eminent scientists throughout the world.’   The Bookseller, 22nd June, 1944

Origins

In 2014, The Bookhunter on Safari (Bookhunter, for my purposes here) posted an article about Ernest William Heffer (1871-1948).

Today’s readers will be surprised to learn that his father William Heffer, born in 1844, was the son of an agricultural labourer. He married a housemaid, Mary Crick, who later became a cook for a local doctor. At the time of their wedding, Heffer was 18. Mary was 14.

By 1871 the couple had six (of an eventual total of nine) children to support and Heffer was employed as a humble groom.  There is some suggestion that he subsequently managed a public house, but it was apparently with the aid of a modest loan that he was enabled to set up in business as a stationer.

That would be unthinkable today.

Bounford told the CAM reporter that Heffer set up shop in 1876 (p. 24 of the PDF). Heffer started as a stationer, selling paper products and filing boxes to students and faculty. He sold his wares by walking to the colleges with bundles of merchandise. He was so well known that, when he died, the Vice-Chancellor [head] of Cambridge University attended his funeral.

When he started, Heffer’s workshop was at 104 Fitzroy Street. In 1899, he became a printer and publisher, with agreement from London publishers, to keep the cost of books affordable. He first printed Bibles and hymnals. They were such big sellers that he opened a bookshop in 1896 at 3-4 Petty Cury. He was also good at marketing the shop, using branded bookmarks and print advertising. The bookshop sold textbooks and became a regular destination for students.

Bookhunter tells us:

As the younger children grew up in the bookshop, surrounded by books, they naturally enough joined in.  By 1901 five of them were employed in the rapidly growing concern – Kate Adelaide Heffer (1867-1940), Ernest William Heffer (1871-1948), Lucy Mary Heffer (1873-1951), Frank Heffer (1876-1933) and Sidney Heffer (1878-1959).

It was as the oldest son engaged in the bookshop that Ernest William Heffer, the sixth child, became first a partner and eventually head of the firm.  On 7th September 1897 he married Louisa Marion Beak (1869-1939) at All Saints, Peckham.  His new wife was the daughter of the late and rather splendidly named Worthey Beak, a Berkshire farmer.  She had previously been working as a nurse at the Woolwich & Plumstead Cottage Hospital. Living first at 7 Mill Road and later at 24 Chesterton Road, Ernest William and his wife had three children of their own – Arthur Beak Heffer (1899-1931), Eleanor Mary Heffer (1903-1991) and Reuben George Heffer (1908-1995).

Reuben, a trained printer, took over the firm in 1948 and served as chairman between 1951 and 1975. Reuben’s son Nicholas became chairman in 1984.

Bookhunter says that by the end of the 1920s, Ernest William Heffer — the founder’s son — was selling notable second-hand books. He purchased important collections from private individuals. In 1933, he served as president of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. His wife died in 1939. He died a week before Christmas in 1948, aged 77. Although he left a comfortable fortune:

He was buried at the Ascension Parish Burial Ground in Cambridge (Plot: 1B1), his grave adorned by a simple wooden cross (Find A Grave Memorial# 34761969).

Heffers expanded during the 20th century. Their large stationery store was in Sidney Street, the Penguin paperback shop in Trumpington Street with the children’s bookshop in Trinity Street. I remember these various Heffers shops. Unfortunately, only the Trinity Street branch exists today. It houses everything for reasons which I will explain below.

Services to students

CAM detailed the story of how Heffers became such a local institution: marketing, branding and customer service.

In 1900, Heffers began issuing academic book catalogues to first year students at Cambridge University. Later, the firm printed branded diaries which it issued to undergraduates (p. 24).

Term time

At the beginning of term, Heffers cleared out the front of the main shop to stock it with textbooks. Staff were entirely at the beck and call of students; no publishers reps were allowed to call during that time (p. 24).

Students then and now became well acquainted with Heffers booksellers, particularly once they moved into specialist studies. Employees knew exactly what the student required and where it was located (p. 25).

Until credit cards became well established, Heffers offered credit themselves. A student had only to apply for an account. Payment was collected without fail. Anyone who owed the bookshop more than £20 found that Heffers sent his tutor a copy of the bill!

Extras

Heffers also printed calling cards for undergraduates (p. 25). By the 1930s, everyone had a set. Calling — visiting — cards with one’s name on them enabled someone to indicate they had stopped by to chat in the event no one was there. They were left at the door. By the 1950s, this old social custom was dying out and their production ceased.

Early in the 21st century, Heffers created a small café, which enabled students to relax with a book. With the consolidation of shops a few years later, however, the café disappeared, and children’s books replaced it.

Recent developments

Today, only the shop in Trinity Street exists. It houses everything from stationery to textbooks to paperbacks and children’s books.

In 1999, the Blackwell Group — booksellers based in Oxford but with branches around the country — bought Heffers, which still trades under the original name.

It is interesting to note that Benjamin Henry Blackwell (1849-1924) founded his company in Oxford in 1879, around the same time that Heffer established his. He and his parents were very religious and teetotal. They objected to the government collecting excise tax on alcohol. Like Heffer, Blackwell also served as president of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association.

It seems that Blackwell, still a family-run firm, looked beyond Oxford to make various acquisitions in the 1990s. It is difficult to know whether Heffers could have done likewise. Perhaps the appetite for expansion just wasn’t there.

In any event, Heffers is definitely worth a visit. Everything is well organised. Not a book is out of place. Service is exceptional. Staff are on hand to find that elusive volume for you and do it with ineffable courtesy.

Heffers is a true English experience not to be missed.

 

In parts of England, mainly to the east and the north, the first Monday after Twelfth Night is known as Plough Monday.

This is an ancient day which probably came to England from the Nordic countries’ invasions. Later, it was associated with the Church and by the 18th century purely with secular folk traditions. It is so called because it was when field workers returned to their labour after the Christmas holiday to till the soil. Back then, they celebrated twelve days of Christmas. Because of the cold weather, it was impractical to till the soil to ready it for sowing.

Origins and traditions

It is thought that the tradition of dancing for Plough Monday originated with the Northern Goths and Swedes when they were still pagans.

The man to document this was the last Catholic Archbishop of Sweden, Olaus Magnus (1490-1557), who fled to Italy and became a historian once the King of Sweden, Gustav Wasa, adopted Lutheranism as the country’s Christian denomination.

In Italy, Magnus became a cartographer and historical researcher. Among his works was History of the Northern Nations, printed in Rome in 1555. Pope Julius II granted a ten-year copyright which saw the 22-volume work translated into Italian, English, Dutch, French and German. (Ironically, it was not translated into Swedish until the 20th century.)

Elaborate dances to music

Hymns and Carols of Christmas gives a summary of what Magnus wrote about the Sword Dance and accompanying music which must have become a custom after the Nordic peoples invaded England in the Dark Ages. Later it would become part of Plough Monday festivities, as the Revd John Brand (1744-1806), an antiquarian and Anglican clergyman, documented (emphases mine):

He [Magnus] says that the Northern Goths and Swedes have a sport wherein they exercise their youth, consisting of a Dance with Swords in the following manner. First, with swords sheathed and erect in their hands, they dance in a triple round : then with their drawn swords held erect as before: afterwards, extending them from band to hand, they lay hold of each other’s hilts and points, and, while they are wheeling more moderately round and changing their order, throw themselves into the figure of a hexagon, which they call a rose: but, presently raising and drawing back their swords, they undo that figure, in order to form with them a four-square rose, that they may rebound over the head of each other. Lastly, they dance rapidly backwards, and, vehemently rattling the sides of their swords together, conclude their sport. Pipes, or songs (sometimes both), direct the measure, which, at first, is slow, but, increasing afterwards, becomes a very quick one towards the conclusion. (Citing Brand) Olaus Magnus adds of this dance that “It is scarcely to be understood, but by those that look on, how gamely and decent it is, when at one word, or one commanding, the whole armed multitude is directed to fall to fight: and clergymen may exercise themselves, and mingle themselves amongst others at this sport, because it is all guided by most wise reason.” (“See also Strutt’s Sports 8vo. p. 214.”)

Olaus Magnus calls this a kind of Gymnastic rite, in which the ignorant were successively instructed by those who were skilled in it: and thus it must have been preserved and handed down to us- “I have been” says Mr. Brand “a frequent spectator of this dance, which is now, or was very lately, performed with few or no alterations in Northumberland and the adjoining counties: one difference however is observable in our Northern sword dancers, that, when the Swords are formed into a figure, they lay them down upon the ground and dance round them.”

Disguises and begging for money

By the Middle Ages, Plough Monday was the time when boys with ploughs were to return to working in the fields. However, because the socioeconomic system of that era was so oppressive, the ploughboys disguised themselves and went to the houses of wealthy landowners instead to extort money. The ploughboys received no pay when they were not working, and the gulf between rich and poor was so great that it was one way they could redress the balance.

These itinerant workers — also known as Plough Jacks, Plough Bullocks or Plough Stots — blackened their faces so that the landowners would not recognise them. This tradition continued for centuries afterwards. PloughMonday.co.uk says:

In the Cambridgeshire Fens children would collect money, often before school, this was known as Ploughwitching.

The Church

By the 1400s, Plough Monday was dedicated to raising funds for local parishes — boundaries of which were determined by church location. The church collected money to help the parish, comprised of a village or two and surrounding land. Groups of skilled ploughmen formed plough guilds which had a plough light in the local church, possibly as a way of asking for God’s blessings on the fields, in the same way we light a candle or votive light for a special intention today. A portion of the funds collected on Plough Monday helped to keep these lit throughout the year. Some priests also blessed ploughs on this day.

By 1538, when the Reformation took hold in England, plough lights were forbidden and plough guilds were disbanded. Anyone who conducted a drive for money on Plough Monday was fined.

Depending on the political and monarchical climate, Plough Monday waxed or waned until the early to mid-1600s.

17th century and after

Once Plough Monday revived in full, its ecclesiastical character disappeared.

By then, landowners ensured all their workers were well fed and watered throughout the twelve days of Christmas.

More farmworkers participated and used the day for personal gain by collecting money, joining in revelry and ending with a feast. Wikipedia describes a typical festival:

The customs observed on Plough Monday varied by region, but a common feature to a lesser or greater extent was for a plough to be hauled from house to house in a procession, collecting money. They were often accompanied by musicians, an old woman or a boy dressed as an old woman, called the “Bessy”, and a man in the role of the “fool“. ‘Plough Pudding’ is a boiled suet pudding, containing meat and onions. It is from Norfolk and is eaten on Plough Monday.[2]

Householders who refused to give money often saw their doorsteps or gardens pulled up by the farmworkers with the plough.

The procession with the plough went like this, according to an old account:

Long ropes are attached to it, and thirty or forty men, stripped to their clean white shirts, but protected from the weather by waistecoats beneath, drag it along. Their arms and shoulders are decorated with gay-coloured ribbons, tied in large knots and bows, and their hats are smartened in the same way. They are usually accompanied by an old woman, or a boy dressed up to represent one; she is gaily bedizened, and called the Bessy. Sometimes the sport is assisted by a humorous countryman to represent a fool. He is covered with ribbons, and attired in skins, with a depending tail, and carries a box to collect money from the spectators. They are attended by music, and Morris-dancers when they can be got; but there is always a sportive dance with a few lasses in all their finery, and a superabundance of ribbons. When this merriment is well managed, it is very pleasing.

Although the day was one of revelry, farmworkers as well as farmhouse cooks and servants got up as early as they could to show willingness to work during the season ahead. According to the aforementioned account, a kitchen maid was given a cockerel for Shrovetide before Lent. However, Plough Monday determined whether she received it:

Then Plough Monday reminded them of their business, and on the morning of that day, the men and maids strove who should show their readiness to commence the labours of the years, by rising the earliest. If the plough-man could get his whip, his plough-staff, hatched, or any field implement, by the fireside, before the maid could get her kettle on, she lost her Shrove-tide cock to the men. Thus did our forefathers strive to allure youth to their duty, and provided them innocent mirth as well as labour. On Plough Monday night the farmer gave them a good supper and strong ale. In some places, where the ploughman went to work on Plough Monday, if, on his return at night, he came with his whip to the kitchen-hatch, and cried “Cock on the dunghill,” he gained a cock for Shrove Tuesday.

The Revd Francis Blomefield was, like the aforementioned John Brand, an Anglican clergyman and antiquarian. He lived between 1705 and 1752. He documented the histories of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

In his History of Norfolk, he described the Plough Monday processions in that county. Although they were secular in nature then, men still collected for the ancient plough light, requesting ‘money for light’. However, instead of collecting for the church — as had been done in the 15th century — they were collecting money to be spent at the local alehouse.

Blomefield also wrote of the mummer play — folk play with local amateur actors — typically performed on that day, ‘The arraigning and indicting of Sir John Barleycorn’. It was a humorous sketch featuring characters from all walks of life: some admired, some despised. In the end, Sir John Barleycorn was always acquitted, but as Blomefield concluded:

From this facetious little narrative may be learned the folly of excess, and the injustice of charging a cheering beverage, with the evil consequences of a man taking a cup more of it than will do him good.

Regional variations

Plough Monday festivities died out in many places from the 19th through to the 20th centuries. However, some towns are reviving these old traditions.

Project Britain has a fascinating summary with recent pictures of Plough Monday where it has been revived.

Yorkshire

An account from 1808, describing the custom in the North Riding of Yorkshire, says that any new tenant farmer received the labour of his neighbours as well as their ploughs on this day in order to prepare his land for sowing.

The account, written by Miss Hutton in her ‘Oakward Hall’, describes the great feast of homemade bread, dumplings, beef and Cheshire cheese at the end of the day.

Cambridgeshire

In an area of the Huntingdonshire Fens (fens are lowlands):

a straw bear was led through the streets on Plough Monday. It is speculated that this may have grown out of a pagan ritual or just maybe an extension of disguising oneself using straw, inspired by dancing bears that used to tour the fenland villages.

Plough Monday traditions died out here in the 1950s but were revived in 2009:

Five hundred children from Ramsey Junior School and 14 other primary schools had been learning about Molly Dancing and other Plough Monday customs as part of the Heritage Lottery funded project “Cambridgeshire Roots”. The children from eight local schools came together to parade through the town of Ramsey and to dance on the Abbey Green. This was recorded by BBC Countryfile.

This custom has gone from strength to strength and the children now sing their own song as they process through the streets as taught to them by two ladies who went “ploughwitching” in the area 1950’s. It was thought that Plough Monday customs had largely died out in the Cambridgeshire Fens in the 1930’s until Gordon Phillips and Nicky Stockman met Anne Edwards and her husband during a performance by the children of Benwick Primary School. Anne told us about the antics of her peers who grew up in Ramsey Heights and visited local houses, dressed up with blackened faces to sing and beg for money. More local people who remembered the custom came forward during the intergenerational project “Ploughwitches and Bears”.

These videos from 2016 give you a good idea of Plough Monday past and present with Molly (Morris) Dancers, a play, sooty faces and a straw bear:

Another Fenland town, Whittlesey, holds a Straw Bear Festival:

a direct descendant of the Plough Monday customs, and there are revivals with a variety of names, often performed by local morris dancers. Look out for Plough Jags, Stots, Witchers and Bullockers … and Old Glory (see Cutty Wren) also perform on Plough Monday.

In other areas, sometimes the Straw Bear was paraded through the streets in lieu of a decorated plough in the 19th century.

Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly are far away from the usual Plough Monday areas. They are in the Irish Sea, far off the coast of Cornwall. However, even there:

locals would cross-dress and then visit their neighbours to joke about local occurrences. There would be guise dancing (folk-etymologically rendered as “goose dancing” by either the authors or those whom they observed) and considerable drinking and revelry.[7]

—————————————————————————-

I look forward to comments from anyone who has seen or participated in a Plough Monday event.

Sources:

Plough Monday (Hymns and Carols of Christmas)

Olaus Magnus – History of the Nordic Peoples (Avrosys)

Plough Monday in England (PloughMonday.co.uk)

Plough Monday (Calendar Customs)

Plough Monday (Wikipedia)

Photos of Plough Monday in England (Project England)

Sorry to be late to the party with this item, but it was in our two-week Christmas issue of the Radio Times, Britain’s foremost television (and radio) guide.

In the 17-30 December 2016 issue, the back page interview was with Prime Minister Theresa May, also the MP for Maidenhead. She answered a variety of questions from reporter Michael Hodges. Excerpts and a summary follow.

On Christmas Day, she and her husband Philip go to church. Afterwards, they meet up with friends for a drink, then it’s off to an ecumenical lunch for the elderly, where May takes time to talk with her constituents.

The Mays return home where the Prime Minister roasts a goose for Christmas dinner. They haven’t had turkey for several years. Although others consider goose to be extremely fatty, May points out:

if you keep the fat, it makes wonderful roast potatoes for quite a long time thereafter.

Absolutely. We also have goose at Christmas, partly for that reason, and for the unctuous stock from the wings.

May, a practising Anglican, lent the Radio Times a photo of herself as a girl with her late father, the Revd Hubert Brasier. She told Michael Hodges what Christmas past was like:

Throughout my life I have been going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and church on Christmas Day morning. As a child I had to wait until my father had finished his services before I could open my presents.

It felt like a very long wait. Others I knew would be able to open their presents first thing in the morning.

I’m an only child and my mother played the organ. So I would sit alongside her while my father was taking the service.

The interview did not mention that May’s parents died within a year of each other. Her father died just as she completed her studies at Oxford and her mother several months later. It can’t have been easy for her, especially with no siblings for support:

When you first lose your parents, Christmas is hugely, hugely important. Now I enjoy Christmas with my husband Philip and we keep up the tradition of going to church. But, of course, it does remind me of my parents.

During her childhood, she watched only the BBC, until:

one day, my mother managed to jiggle the aerial and we got ITV and I saw Robin Hood. That music and Richard Greene as Robin Hood really grabbed me.

This is the iconic theme to which May refers:

May’s other television favourites included early series of The Avengers with Diana Rigg, then Joanna Lumley, although:

I have never had a female role model — I’ve always just got on with doing what I am doing.

As an adult, she watched the ‘very evocative’ Das Boot. These days, she enjoys Scandinavian dramas Borgen and The Bridge. Christmas Day favourites include Doctor Who and David Suchet as Poirot.

She doesn’t take recommendations for television viewing:

My advisers don’t tell me what to watch on the television — I watch what I want to watch.

May ended the interview by saying she had no idea a year ago that she would be Prime Minister today.

What follows is her four-minute New Year’s message. If her father was as eloquent a speaker as his daughter is, he must have been a splendid vicar. May speaks of the change that Brexit will bring this year but also of the unity of the four nations of the United Kingdom and the shared values and experiences that make us one people:

This is very similar to the first speech she gave as Prime Minister outside No. 10.

She and Donald Trump will get on well. Of that, I have no doubt.

A while back I criticised the increase in Big Media closing their sites to readers’ comments.

It’s censorship.

On September 14, Damian Thompson — who worked at The Telegraph for many years and has been at The Spectator for the last few — posted an article ‘Comment threads are closing, thankfully – but the underpants brigade have won’.

It’s one of the laziest pieces of journalism I have read this year. He gives no indication as to why he is saying that comments are closing. No what, where or when, either: standard journalistic questions every article should answer.

I learned about that in primary school English class.

Yes, every year our books included a series of journalism lessons with in-class assignments where we had to write a short news, features or sports story. We had to compose them the way they would appear in a newspaper. The teacher would come around to grade them and the best were read out in class.

Not only did we learn something useful; we also began reading newspapers more frequently.

But I digress.

Several years ago, Thompson, a practising Catholic, got into a Telegraph comments row with a group of Catholic traditionalists. One weekend in May, he deleted all their comments from one of his blog posts. I remember it well, because I saw it happen in real time. They soon turned to WordPress, where they have been maintaining their sites since 2009. Sorry, I cannot remember their names, but maybe one of them will come on here to comment!

Bearing that in mind, it’s interesting that Thompson writes this (emphases mine):

For five years I was editor of Telegraph Blogs. Every day, from the moment we switched on our computers, we had to live with the drone of the ‘underpants brigade’, as one colleague called them.

To the casual reader, these Y-front warriors were obvious fruitcakes. But they had a sharp eye for the fragility of the journalistic ego.

Yes, they certainly did, Damian. And you lacked the professionalism to buck up and allow them to voice their opinions.

After he deleted the Catholic traditionalists’ posts, I never read another article by Thompson again until this particular one.

But enough about Damian Thompson and his paltry journalism. What did the readers say in response?

First, he received over 1,480 comments. Well played, readers!

Secondly, one reader offered an eloquent defence of comments:

Since the Telegraph turned off comments, I’ve largely stopped reading it. Funnily enough, Damian, I used to comment on your rather excitable pieces in that paper. I’m mostly on the Guardian now, but I don’t click on articles which don’t allow comments for the same reason I won’t on the Telegraph: most of the articles present a very slanted view of the world, with claims which don’t stand up – and are not above trotting out downright lies

Comment threads aren’t welcomed by professional writers because they remove their privileged position: embarrassingly, they allow scrutiny of articles to be placed in situ. This doesn’t really affect careful writers who produce well-researched and analytical articles, at worst they’ll get a tide of childish bile from people unwilling to listen to their viewpoint; but for the many charlatans who’ve based their careers on spewing (previously unchallenged) polemic, there’s an almost inevitable payback below every trashy article they produce: comment after comment pulling apart their tawdry arguments. Consequently, comments are the best thing which has ever happened to news media.

Finally, another reader said that any media outlet that drops comments will lose readers:

Like many I stopped paying a sub to the Telegraph and now hardly visit even for the free articles. Other places will get the traffic of the excluded.

That’s definitely true. I, too, stopped reading The Telegraph after they dropped comments. I read a lot more Guardian articles now.

Someone else agreed:

Me too! I didn’t contribute much in the comment sections, but they were the main reason I used and subscribed to the DT. I no longer subscribe and it isn’t even in my Favourites folder any longer. I stopped visiting the site altogether.

it was the comments that entertained, not the articles!

Yes, I used to read the comments for useful responses and links rebutting or adding more to the articles.

Ironically, that’s exactly what happened with Damian Thompson’s article. A reader sent in a blog link discussing the Catholic Herald‘s suppression of comments.

The Catholic Herald article attempts to strike a regretful tone in announcing its new policy and ultimately sends readers to Facebook. What about readers who don’t want to be on Facebook yet would like to contribute?

we are a small team. Our three full-time editorial staff (including me) work round the clock with a little army of part-timers to produce an up-to-the-minute news site and a weekly magazine (we made the change in 2014, after 127 years as a broadsheet).

Inevitably, time is scarce. And that is why we’ve decided to close comments on our articles (in common with many other Catholic websites).

The decision has been a difficult one. Readers have, over the years, offered insightful, funny and heartfelt responses to our articles. But moderating comments is a time-consuming daily task. We believe that time could be better spent on offering readers more news and analysis.

This does not mean the end of dialogue with our readers. We know that this bond is vital. When major issues arise we will post items that allow for comments. Meanwhile, our Facebook page is always open for discussions.

The Catholic site discussing this new policy has this:

Shame. The Catholic Herald had done so well for so long. It is so sad that it has finally capitulated to various pressures at such a crucial time in the Church’s life.

Whatever financial rewards come their way, I’m sure it won’t be through their print edition since whenever I go into a Church there are always a good few copies to spare.

Certain people, however, will be happy about this decision. This decision is a slap in the face to their readership. I won’t be reading it anymore. What a self-defeating decision. Their writers – talented as some of them are – are not the main attraction of blogs. The main attraction of blogs is that others can contribute to the issue being dealt with. I would have thought that to those interested in gaining an audience in the Catholic world today that this was self-evident.

But you know, what do I know?

Pray for blogs, pray for bloggers and pray for journalists and the Catholic Press. I guess you could say we’re all up against it in one way or another.

Every person hungry for the truth, whether it be religious or secular, laments every occasion when yet another major media site closes comments.

Now imagine if The Spectator had closed comments on Damian Thompson’s article. Nearly everyone reading it would have wondered what he was talking about. He had no news at all to support his headline. We would have walked away none the wiser.

However, that one comment linking to the Catholic Herald policy adopted in August helped flesh out the matter.

That is, if that’s what Thompson was referring to.

David Cameron has once more thrown his toys out of the pram!

Summer recess is now over, Parliament is back in session and the former PR man — the self-styled ‘heir to Blair’ — cannot bear being on the back benches.

He announced yesterday — September 12 — that he will be standing down as MP for his beloved Witney constituency in Oxfordshire.

At least he gave us the referendum.

However, he’s still angry about the result: Brexit, baby, Brexit.

A commenter on the aforementioned link from The Spectator clearly explains Witney, Cameron and British society. This is so true (emphases mine):

That constituency is a definite Remain area. The people in the UK who voted Leave weren’t the upper-middle class, which is what Cameron is. That stratum of society are the ones who buy craft beer and shop at Waitrose. The ones who voted Leave were the aristocracy and the working class. Britain exists in them; the upper-middle and middle are too concerned with their status, being “cool” and their bank balances. As long as there is still an aristocracy and a working class, Britain will prevail. That is why Labour detests the aristocracy, and the working class, and seeks to annihilate them both through mass-immigration. Everybody (and I don’t mean individuals, I mean the groupings) outside those two classes is self-seeking and individualistic, with no real concern for Britain.

Readers who live in or near Witney are particularly welcome to comment.

Let’s look at the timeline. Cameron was re-elected as MP only in May 2015. Then he gave us the EU Referendum in June 2016. As soon as the results were made public he announced his resignation as Prime Minister!  Now, after summer break, he is unwilling to continue serving as MP to Witney because Brexit is sticking in his craw. Sad!

What a poor loser.

Not only is he standing down as MP, but he is doing it with ‘immediate effect’:

Spectator columnist James Forsyth surmises that Theresa May’s brand of conservatism is too much of a departure for Cameron:

… I think one of the things that makes it difficult for him to stay on is the extent to which Theresa May is moving away from Cameronism. It’s not just like Brexit is the only issue on which it would be difficult for Cameron to express a view – there are now a whole host of issues because Theresa May has tried to open up clear blue water between herself and Cameron’s government on quite a few things

Thank goodness for that.

However, Cameron’s resignation sets a bad example for the British public. The Spectator‘s editor Fraser Nelson — not someone with whom I agree a lot — rightly points out:

“Brits don’t quit,” he told us a few months ago: now he has quit, twice. After telling us several times that he’d stay, to fulfil a duty to parliament and his constituents.

Indeed. Such a lack of principle will ultimately reflect on him:

Cameron could have been known for so many achievements: record employment, schools revolution, lowering inequality, crime rates plunging, a majority won against the odds – how quickly all of that is forgotten, how quickly Cameron has been reduced to the bad guy whom Theresa May enjoys defining herself against. Blair’s behaviour after leaving No10 trashed the reputation of Blairism – and it seems the self-styled “heir to Blair” had one more tribute act left in him. Now there is pretty much no one to say that Cameron’s premiership wasn’t all bad. No one can be bothered to hang around and defend Cameron’s reputation. Not even Cameron.

Cameron has acted in a pathetic manner. He led the Conservatives for ten years and was Prime Minister for the last five. He could have gone down in history as a compassionate Conservative.

Soon — by his own actions — he will be forgotten. He brought it on himself.

On August 23, 2016, America’s NPR — National Public Radio — will no longer open its articles to readers’ comments.

In fact, all past comments will disappear. DCist tells us:

because they are run through Disqus, a third-party moderating system (that DCist also uses).

Reasons for censorship

On August 17, NPR’s Elizabeth Jensen explains that:

1/ The commenters do not represent NPR’s listeners —

In July, NPR.org recorded nearly 33 million unique users, and 491,000 comments. But those comments came from just 19,400 commenters, Montgomery said. That’s 0.06 percent of users who are commenting, a number that has stayed steady through 2016.

2/ A small number of NPR users generated most of the comments —

Just 4,300 users posted about 145 comments apiece, or 67 percent of all NPR.org comments for the two months. More than half of all comments in May, June and July combined came from a mere 2,600 users.

3/ Disqus is too expensive to run, because the more comments, the higher the cost —

The conclusion: NPR’s commenting system — which gets more expensive the more comments that are posted, and in some months has cost NPR twice what was budgeted — is serving a very, very small slice of its overall audience.

I am very pro-comment, because, without readers chiming in on various sites, I never would have found out about rented mules, about which I posted on August 16.

Going further into the NPR rationale, the management apparently did not like the nature of the comments they were receiving:

1/ The commenters do not represent the statistical NPR audience (another perspective) —

They overwhelmingly comment via the desktop (younger users tend to find NPR.org via mobile), and a Google estimate suggested that the commenters were 83 percent male, while overall NPR.org users were just 52 percent male …

2/ NPR received complaints —

When viewed purely from the perspective of whether the comments were fostering constructive conversations, the change should come as no surprise. The number of complaints to NPR about the current comment system has been growing—complaints that comments were censored by the outside moderators, and that commenters were behaving inappropriately and harassing other commenters.

Regulars’ objections

NPR has listeners and readers who, apparently, are sensitive creatures. NPR, therefore, must protect their feelings.

A male regular from Phoenix emailed NPR’s Jensen:

“Have you considered doing away with the comments sections, or tighter moderation?” he wrote. “The comments have devolved into the Punch-and-Judy-Fest of moronic, un-illuminating observations and petty insults I’ve seen on other pretty much every other Internet site that allows comments.” He added, “This is not in keeping with NPR’s take-a-step-back, take-a-deep-breath reporting,” and noted, “Now, thread hijacking and personal insults are becoming the stock in trade. Frequent posters use the forums to duke it out with one another.”

A lady from North Carolina:

wrote to implore: “Remove the comments section from your articles. The rude, hateful, racist, judgmental comments far outweigh those who may want to engage in some intelligent sideline conversation about the actual subject of the article. I am appalled at the amount of ‘free hate’ that is found on a website that represents honest and unbiased reporting such as NPR. What are you really gaining from all of these rabid comments other than proof that a sad slice of humanity that preys on the weak while spreading their hate?”

Censorious readers have two options: a) don’t read the comments or b) filter out trollish users.

NPR now recommends using Facebook for discussion on their articles and programmes.

Facebook. Something I and millions of others will never use and try to avoid visiting where possible.

Why the New York Times can have comments

Jensen explained why other media sites, such as The New York Times, can maintain readers’ comments:

… they use heavy in-house human moderation that costs far more than NPR currently spends on its outsourced system, according to NPR executives who are familiar with the numbers. The Times also opens only 10 percent of its articles for comments (but is working to increase that percentage), and keeps the comment threads open for just one week. NPR currently allows comments on all articles for two weeks.

I, too, operate a limited comments policy: my threads are open for two weeks and that’s it. Last year, an arrogant left-wing drive-by bluntly told me to open the comments on a really old post so that he could vent. I refused. My site, my rules.

When NPR sang a different tune

In 2008, with the Democrats and Obama in the ascendant, life at NPR was so very different. On September 28, Dick Meyer announced:

Starting now, it will be easier for you to talk to us, for us to talk to you and for you all to talk to each other. We are making it possible for anyone who registers with us to comment on a story and to create a profile page where many interesting things can happen. We are providing a forum for infinite conversations on NPR.org. Our hopes are high. We hope the conversations will be smart and generous of spirit. We hope the adventure is exciting, fun, helpful and informative. This is important for the NPR community.

That last phrase — “important for the NPR community” — is not phony baloney corporate rhetoric, I promise.

A few days later, on October 1, Andy Carvin enthused:

As you probably have seen by now, we rolled out several new community tools on the NPR Web site this week, including user profiles and discussion threads for all of our stories. The feedback so far has been very positive …

Fast forward to 2016 and the national dialogue has changed. NPR and their regulars find it upsetting. We don’t like it, so it can’t be said: censorship.

Other sites which have stopped comments

Of course, NPR is not the first nor the only Big Media site to censor readers’ views by stopping their input altogether. Others couldn’t take the reader heat, either.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog on The Atlantic

Although The Atlantic largely allows readers to comment on their articles, Ta-Nehisi Coates closed his blog entries to comments.

He had good intentions from the time he launched his blog in 2008. It was open to comments from the start. In 2010, he reiterated his comments policy to ensure civility.

DCist points out that, by and large, some of his readers’ responses were so good that they spawned careers at the magazine’s online site:

The current Washington bureau chief, Yoni Appelbaum, was discovered by his posts in the section …

In 2008, Appelbaum commented as Cynic. He was a PhD student at Brandeis University at the time. Longreads tells us:

he started commenting during the 2008 election run-up. His comments were unfailingly thorough, thoughtful and respectful, and Coates often flagged his contributions in follow-up posts.

Then, as Appelbaum recalls it, Coates contacted him “because he had deduced that I was a historian,” and he had some questions that related to his own historical work. They began to keep in touch outside the comment section, and in June 2010, Coates asked Appelbaum to turn a long comment he’d posted about Ulysses S. Grant into a standalone blog post. That one post was followed by a guest-blogging stint for Appelbaum—still identified only as “Cynic.” Not too long after that, Appelbaum was recruited right out of the comment section, and given a steady role—and a proper byline—as an online contributor to The Atlantic.

“In March 2011, my phone rang. And it was Bob Cohn of The Atlantic,” Appelbaum says. “That’s not a phone call you can really turn away. So I started contributing regularly then.”

Coates’ regular commenters were known at The Horde. He enjoyed what they had to say and even started special threads for them covering Mad Men, books and readers’ plights, such as the death of a pet dog.

By 2014, Coates’s moderator, Sandy Young, was torn about banning comment from those who opposed the blogger’s views. He told Longreads:

I don’t want to be that guy who tries to fix the Internet, but people I know and care about are going to see this and be insulted or hurt by it. What should I do? I have this power—should I use it or not?

That year, Coates cut back on his Atlantic blogging. When he did blog long pieces on black Americans’ concerns, he attracted extra-Horde comments. By the time Longreads interviewed him in February 2015, he said:

To be honest, I can’t say how long this will go on for.

In September 2015, he stopped comments on his blog. However, he did pay tribute to The Horde.

The Telegraph

Earlier this year — 2016 — the Telegraph stopped readers’ comments.

Private Eye had an article which said that the site’s advertisers were unnerved by the readers’ comments.

At that time, many comments concerned UKIP, migration to the Mediterranean, physical assaults on European women and the EU Referendum — all hot topics.

Since then, according to Private Eye, the Telegraph‘s online reader stats took a dive. The magazine has stopped writing about the Telegraph lately, so it is unclear what the current situation is.

However, vox pops are clearly worrying to online Big Media sites.

The Guardian‘s Stephen Pritchard issued this warning in March:

In January, I wrote about new efforts to keep the party polite online as comment numbers were ballooning up to 65,000 a day. Subjects such as race, immigration and Islam too often attracted toxic commentary, so henceforth they would only have comments open if a moderated, positive debate were deemed possible – one without racism, abuse of vulnerable subjects, author abuse or trolling …

My claim that we were living in an “age of rage” attracted this reaction: “Surely one of the engines for the ‘age of rage’ is the systematic suppression of any comprehensive debate on race, immigration and Islam and it is that or the responses to any questioning of current shibboleths that drives people to extreme points of view” …

The Telegraph is in the process of ending commentary on its site. That’s not being proposed here, but editors need to think harder about when it would be wise to switch off the ability to comment if a subject is likely to attract so much rage that a mature conversation becomes impossible. It devalues our journalism and offends our readers.

Conclusion

Right-of-centre comments are scaring Big Media big time.

Their online site managers are happy when everything is left-of-centre, but once the arguments move to the other side of the spectrum, they perceive a problem.

Expect more reader censorship in time. The excuse might be stated as money-related, as in NPR’s case, but the truth will be somewhat closer to the bone. They just cannot tolerate any opinions that aren’t leftist.

What a week for interesting news going all the way back to Abraham Lincoln!

Here’s a selection of what was in the media. Emphases mine below.

Prolonged childhood problematic

Charlotte Gill, a young woman writing for The Spectator, deplores games such as Pokémon Go and Candy Crush as well as games franchises, e.g. Nintendo. These products distract too much from real life which young adults should be embracing:

I genuinely believed that my generation would get over Pokémon – that there would be a collective ‘growing up’ – but I was wrong. Data shows that 49 percent of Pokémon Go users are 25 or over

Such games are viewed as ‘a bit of fun’ – a nice distraction from the world. After all, who thinks about Isis when they’re searching for Pokémon? But I can see a wider issue about Generation Y and its obsessions; a huge denial about being adults. Frankly, it’s all a bit sad.

The trouble with all these baby hobbies is that they distract twentysomethings from doing something good with their lives. And, I know, we all deserve to have downtime and can even turn passions, like gaming, into a career. But for many young people, these enterprises become hugely absorbing, and steal the best years of their lives. The irony is that they will not know that this is happening; franchises with cute, sweet animals come across as harmless and nostalgic.

As a generation, we need to grow up. The world is becoming a more frightening, competitive place all the time; it has never been more important for young people to buck up, get some skills, even set up their own businesses, instead of indulging in the toys and franchises we should have left behind years ago …

The strange thing about all of these pursuits is that young people take pride in them. They think it’s funny to be trivial. It’s ironic, they say. In reality, it seems ignorant. Girlfriends complain to me about men who won’t commit in relationships; it’s no wonder, given that they live in a society that wants to immortalise childhood

Such pastimes are bread and circuses on a small scale. We could be approaching Idiocracy sooner than we think.

London Tube: attempted murder – terrorism or state of mind?

In December 2015, Muhiddin Mire attempted to slit a man’s throat at Leytonstone Tube station in east London.

He was given a life sentence on Monday, August 1 and will have to serve a minimum of eight-and-a-half years.

Law enforcement, barristers and doctors disagreed as to whether the cause was extremism or his mental state. During the attack, he yelled:

This is for my Syrian brothers. I’m going to spill your blood.

Police said that, given some of the content on Mire’s phone, he could have been influenced by extremist propaganda. However, the court heard that he was also suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the attack. Was his state of mind exacerbated by the extremist material?

In any event, he will start his sentence at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire.

Over the past few weeks I have read several letters to the editor in the UK and in France from mental health workers on recent terrorist/extremist attacks. These people are asking for an investigation into any psychotropic medication that those carrying out the attacks might have taken in the weeks and months beforehand.

It is a legitimate question, one that needs further investigation, especially in light of the American lady who met with a tragic and terrible death in Russell Square the night of August 3. Although police are no longer considering terrorism as a motive:

The Met Police’s assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Mark Rowley, said the investigation was increasingly pointing to the attack being “triggered by mental health issues”.

A 19-year-old is in police custody. Originally from Somalia, he lived in Norway before moving to the UK. Police say he is a Norwegian national.

Sky’s report proves what my late mother often said about London — it is the crossroads of the world. It’s worth reading to see the variety of names and nationalities.

Saturday night scare in London’s Camden Town

On Saturday, July 30, an alert member of the public contacted the Metropolitan Police about a suspicious vehicle in Camden Town, London’s nexus for young adults and hipsters.

At 10:50 p.m. police evacuated several pubs and clubs. The Mirror was one of two (that I can see) news outlets to carry the story. Their story pointed out:

It was a major operation on one of London’s busiest high streets at its peak time.

The Met sent in one of their police robots to investigate the car. The London Evening Standard story has a photo.

Fortunately, the car presented no threat. Police allowed night spots to reopen around midnight.

Well done to the quick reaction of the member of the public and the police.

Burger chain, bogus papers and bugs

The UK has several trendy burger chains, one of which is Byron. Its founders sold the business to an investment firm, Hutton Collins, for £100m in 2013.

On July 27, news emerged that immigration officials carried out a raid on several branches. That was on July 4. A Spanish newspaper in London, El Iberico, reported the story before MSM did. Over the past week, leftists bombarded certain branches of Byron with bugs and protests.

The Home Office had contacted Byron to say officials would be going in to their premises on July 4. Byron management sent notifications out to staff that health and safety training was going to take place that morning. As such, staff attendance was mandatory. The restaurant chain refused to comment on whether the health and safety training was set up under false pretence.

The Guardian published Byron’s statement on the incident:

It said: “We can confirm that several of Byron’s London restaurants were visited by representatives of the Home Office. These visits resulted in the removal of members of staff who are suspected by the Home Office of not having the right to work in the UK, and of possessing fraudulent personal and right to work documentation that is in breach of immigration and employment regulation.”

A Home Office source told the newspaper that 35 people were arrested in connection with the raid. They had come from Brazil, Nepal, Egypt and Albania.

The Left went into overdrive online and on the ground.

On Friday, July 29, two central London branches of the chain had to close. Activists smuggled in bags of insects into the Holborn and Shaftesbury Avenue sites. The Guardian reported:

In a joint statement published on Facebook, London Black Revs and Malcolm X Movement said the direct action was in response to the chain’s “despicable actions in the past weeks having entrapped waiters, back of house staff and chefs in collaboration with UK Border Agency”.

“Many thousands of live cockroaches, locusts and crickets [have been released] into these restaurants. We apologise to customers and staff for any irritation, however, we had to act as forced deportations such as this and others are unacceptable, we must defend these people and their families from such dehumanised treatment,” the statement said.

Obviously, these people do not believe in borders. No doubt, there are any number of anarchists among them.

The activists invited Huck‘s Michael Segalov along for the occasion:

On Thursday evening my phone vibrated, a number I’d never seen before had sent me a text.

“Dear Journalist, this is a tip-off”, it read, “info: 8000 locust, 2000 crickets, 4000 cockroaches. See you tomorrow night.”

The bug barrage went as planned. Customers scarpered. Those who were there might have left in panic, without paying. The rest of the night was one of lost income and massive clean-up. The manager of one of the branches was, quite rightly, angry. Segalov wrote:

I get it, sort of. This was his place of work, which was now a shambles, it wasn’t his fault that the raids had happened (he probably didn’t even know they were planned) and now his team were going to spend the night chasing crickets and picking cockroaches out the red-onion relish.

Outside, a female passerby reminded him that staff and the manager were going to have to deal with the mess, no one else. That said, this woman and Segalov think it was still worthwhile.

Why? The people arrested had forged paperwork. They entered the country illegally.

A huge protest of no-borders lefties took place on Monday, August 1 outside the Holborn branch. The Evening Standard reported that the branch was closed after they heard 1,300 protesters might attend. Police were on the scene. The Standard reported:

Byron said in a statement: “In response to the recent Home Office investigation, we would like to reiterate the following.

“Byron was unaware that any of our workers were in possession of counterfeit documentation until the Home Office brought it to our attention. 

“We carry out rigorous ‘right to work’ checks, but sophisticated counterfeit documentation was used in order to pass these checks.

“We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office’s requests and processes throughout the course of their investigations: it is our legal obligation to do so. 

“We have also worked hard to ensure minimal impact on our customers while this operation was underway.”

Well stated.

Taking legitimate citizens’ jobs through forged papers is theft.

Jean-Claude Juncker’s little black book

The EU’s most disliked bureaucrat, Jean-Claude Juncker, told Belgium’s Le Soir that he has a little black book with all his enemies’ names in it.

The Guardian reported on the interview. Le Petit Maurice, as Juncker calls his notebook, serves as more of an aide-memoire than anything else. He thinks it is also a useful deterrent:

He would tell people attacking him: “Be careful. Little Maurice is waiting for you.”

On UKIP MEP Nigel Farage, Juncker:

claimed he respected the Ukip leader and found him “very funny” and erudite.

Yet, he said that he had not embraced Farage during the last European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg:

I whispered something in his ear that was not a compliment. The photos gave the impression that I embraced him.

Juncker has no plans to go anywhere. Juncker has no regard for European citizens. He wants an EU army to cope with the migration crisis, a perfect way to impose more control over us. He is upset that EU countries have not taken in more migrants and despises the reimposition of border controls in the Schengen Zone. I wrote at the end of May:

People like Jean-Claude Juncker are the reason why many Britons will vote for Brexit. Juncker and Co’s arrogance is unsurpassed.

In June, two days before the EU Referendum, I reminded readers of two of his most outrageous quotes:

On EU monetary policy

“I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious … I am for secret, dark debates”

On British calls for a referendum over Lisbon Treaty

“Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?”

Jean-Claude Juncker: another reason to be happy Brexit won.

The Khan controversy

For my readers who do not live in the United States, an attorney by the name of Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention last week in Philadelphia, flanked by his wife in traditional dress.

The Khans came to the US from Afghanistan via the United Arab Emirates, where their son, Humayun, was born. The family became American citizens once they were eligible.

Humayun became a captain in the US Army and was killed in 2004 in Iraq when he was investigating a car fitted with an explosive device. Americans can be grateful for his honourable and courageous service.

At the DNC, Khizr Khan sharply took issue with Donald Trump’s policy on restricting or temporarily banning Muslim immigration until Homeland Security figures out what is going on.

Trump politely responded in television news interviews by saying the Khans would have been vetted — current policy — and admitted, were he in the Oval Office. However, the polemic continued from Democrats and Republicans, including Khan and Trump.

On July 31, Trump tweeted:

I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!

Charles Hurt defended Trump’s position in a July 31 article for The Hill. Hillary supporters should note the following:

Stop for a moment and ask yourself how exactly the Clinton campaign arrived at the decision to trot out the Khan family in the middle of their highly-choreographed, exhaustively produced convention?

Were they just looking to give voice to the parents of a soldier? That would be a first. Did they want parents of anyone who had died abroad in the defense of their country? Gee, why not pick the parents of one of the fallen warriors who died defending the U.S. consulate in Benghazi? Oh, that’s right. They would have called Hillary Clinton a liar. Can’t have that.

No. Politicians like Hillary Clinton do not see people like Capt. Humayun Khan as a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice on a foreign battlefield in defense of his country

Politicians like Hillary Clinton see him only a demographic, a dispensable political pawn to be scooted around an electoral map, the way generals used to move armies across giant maps of the lands they were invading.

Here’s the kicker:

Perhaps a better testimony from Khizr Khan would have been for him to talk about how Hillary Clinton was in the U.S. Senate when she voted to invade Iraq. Years later, after that position became politically unpopular, she changed her mind and joined new political forces to vacate all the land across Iraq that so many great American patriots like Capt. Humayun Khan had died for.

It was her vote that sent Capt. Khan to his death. And then it was her decisions later to render that sacrifice worthless.

Of course, the media will run and run with this one, whilst continuing to deprecate Patricia Smith who spoke at the Republican National Convention about her son Sean who died during Benghazi. Mrs Smith is right in saying that Hillary Clinton must come out with the truth. Mrs Smith said she was not even allowed to talk to people at the State Department; they told her she was not ‘immediate family’!

Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his stepbrother

And finally, a fascinating letter from Abraham Lincoln to his stepbrother John Daniel Johnston appeared on Real Clear Life this week.

Lincoln’s stepbrother had asked him for $80 in 1850, the year the letter was written. $80 in today’s money is a sizeable $2,424.24!

Lincoln minced no words in refusing the request. He reminded Johnston this was not the first time he had given him money:

but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again. Now this can only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are not lazy, and still you are an idler … This habit of uselessly wasting time, is the whole difficulty; and it is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children, that you should break this habit. It is more important to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit before they are in it easier than they can get out after they are in.

A shorter version should be printed on billboards (hoardings, for my British readers) and posters. It should be displayed on public thoroughfares and in schools. We have way too much idleness today. Idleness brings trouble. Remember when our parents and grandparents used to say, ‘The devil makes work for idle hands’?

He went on to acknowledge Johnston’s kindness to him and proposed that, if Johnson worked over the next five months, Lincoln would match the sum of his earnings dollar for dollar.

Kindle owners can find a book of Lincoln’s letters on Amazon. Maybe that has a follow-up.

—————————————————————-

That’s all the news you might have missed over the past seven days.

Have a great weekend! May it be non-newsworthy except in the best possible way.

Monday’s postCharlesSimeon.jpg introduced the 18th and 19th century Anglican Charles Simeon.

Tuesday’s excerpted his commentary and advice on Matthew 7:6 — casting pearls before swine.

Today’s post provides more information about the ministry of this pioneer of Anglican ‘evangelicalism’, often criticised by his congregation and Cambridge University students, among whom he ministered.

In 1979, to mark the bicentenary of Simeon’s conversion at King’s College, Cambridge, the Revd Max Warren — formerly General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society and then a Residentiary Canon of Westminster Abbey — wrote a considered essay of this clergyman. Unfortunately, Warren died before he could read it to a group of Anglicans who were to draw conclusions about the lessons of Simeon’s ministry.

Warren’s great-grandfather knew Simeon. This ancestor wrote a memoir which included two letters Simeon had written to him. Warren’s great-grandmother, the man’s wife, kept a diary. She died in 1836, the same year Simeon left this mortal coil. Therefore, Simeon’s life and times no doubt touched him more personally than most.

The PDF of Warren’s paper is available here. A summary follows with page numbers cited.

We can learn much from the way Simeon ministered to people, not only in Cambridge but also around England.

Worldview

Charles Simeon’s worldview was shaped in part by the French Revolution. He was ordained by the time it took place between 1789 and 1795. He was concerned about possible similar threats to Britain, namely the establishment, including the established Church of England.

He was also a lifelong conservative in his thinking.

He would have been aware that, when he was converted in 1779, that 7,358 out of 11,194 Anglican parishes in England had no clergyman (p. 1).

The nature of conversion

For Simeon, conversion was connected with commitment.

He insisted that that commitment increase over time, particularly for himself but also for others.

He deeply believed that no one could truly be regemerated unless he were experiencing ‘brokenness of heart’ brought about by the profound realisation — ‘self-loathing and abhorrence’ — of one’s own wretched sinful nature.

Only then could the sorrowful — and repentant — convert begin to appreciate the work of sanctifying grace from the most holy God (p. 9).

Personal life

As I wrote on Monday, Simeon never married.

As he was ostracised for his enthusiastic, evangelical views and preaching, he was a lonely man for many years.

However, this solitude also made him more aware of what clergy faced when they were opposed. This is why he held ‘conversation parties’ with Cambridge students studying for ordination. He wanted them to know what and how to preach when. He also impressed upon these young men that the Bible was both an ‘establishing’ and a ‘converting’ book. Furthermore, they had to practise what they preached. They also had to understand that they were not doing the regenerative work upon their congregation, it was the Holy Spirit. (p. 5)

Even those who ended up not being ordained and who were assigned to far reaches of the British Empire benefited from Simeon’s advice on how to communicate with people. (p. 8)

Solitude also gave him the idea of including clergy wives in lectures for their husbands. (p. 6) The more they knew and understood their husbands’ work, the better they could discuss it with them and support them emotionally.

Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge

Simeon was the vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge for 54 years. That was his one and only assignment.

His outlook on ministry was to maintain a balance between being a pastor and an evangelist. He also held to Martin Luther’s dictum of knowing nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (p. 3)

Holy Trinity — then and now — was a congregation of students but also townspeople who will speak their minds about church. It was also — even in Warren’s time as its vicar — the largest in the Diocese of Ely. (p. 3)

In church

Holy Trinity might not have liked Simeon’s sermons and, when they weren’t angry with him, tune them out but they could not easily tune out the way he delivered the liturgy. He actually prayed — not read — the prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. This was new. Most clergy muttered the prayers.

Warren wrote that it was the actual praying of the liturgy which eventually won over his cantankerous and, sometimes violent, congregation. (p. 3)

Outside of church

Simeon also started informal groups, hosting them outside of church. He sometimes hired a room in another parish to accommodate them.

He did this so he could get to know his congregation and also so that they would not see him as being ‘ten feet above contradiction’.

He was also careful to assemble a group of 12 stewards who would manage the parish’s finances and assess the need for charity and relief.

He was a pioneer in involving laity. His Visiting Society volunteers paid visits on poorer townspeople, giving them spiritual instruction as well as food to eat.

He, too, was known for his visits to ill and dying parishoners.

He took the food donation idea further during the bread famine of 1788 and 1789, when he contributed a subscription so that bread could be fairly distributed to the poor in villages around Cambridge. He was known for making his rounds on horseback and stopping in at village bakeries. (p. 4)

Travel in England

Simeon made it his mission to travel to towns and cities around England to spread the Gospel.

If he was rejected by his own congregation, the rest of the country received him warmly. Remember that he had to get around by horse and carriage on long, bumpy rides. There was no railway network in place.

In 1798, he recorded that he gave 75 addresses between May 18 and August 19. He spoke to a total of 87,310 people.

The only other evangelist likely to have spoken to more on a tour was Dwight L Moody — 75 years later. (p. 11)

Overseas influence

Simeon was very concerned about the growth of the Anglican church in the Empire.

His missionary initiatives helped to expand the Church in India, New Zealand and Australia.

Conclusion

Charles Simeon was a man who bucked the trend in style and substance. Although discouraged and lonely, he pressed on with the Lord’s work. He encouraged seminarians and young clergymen to do so, too.

He pioneered the way for an evangelical strand in the Anglican Church. It still exists, but less so.

Perhaps it is time for Anglican clergy and seminaries to stop worrying about social justice and put more effort into winning souls for Christ and the life beyond.

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