Lockdown, discrimination, and fair play?

Another discussion about civil rights and lockdown: considering prejudice and fair play.

There seems to have been an absolute uproar regarding the possibility that the over seventies should be legally obliged to stay at home, while everyone else is allowed a greater degree of freedom, while there does not seem to be similar uproar about legally obliging everyone to stay at home.

I appreciate that part of this is down to practical issues, such as the notion that people would have to carry identity documents to prove that they were not over seventy, but still, I don’t think that explains the whole of it.  Why should we feel an immense sense of injustice when one group is singled out like that, and not more of a sense of injustice when exactly what we would complain is being done to them is being done to everyone?

This is something that can be noted in other situations as well, for instance, if an employer paid their one white staff member an unjustly low wage, as opposed to a situation where they exploit all their staff members equally.  However, in that situation,  I suspect the implied racism is argued to be more sinister than plain, universal greed.  The injustice when done to more people is greater as an injustice, but this is balanced off by the particular moral depravity of racism.  I am not sure if I am convinced that this actually stands to the extent to which we tend to take it, for it would seem to me that a respect for the humanity of some is more readily extended to the respect for the humanity of all, than respect for no-one’s humanity.

I can also see that a feeling that something which is the same for everyone is different from placing restrictions on one group of people.  For instance, I would tend to argue that if an ID is required for buying age restricted products, it would be fairer to require it from everyone, rather than merely from those who look in the eyes of that particular checkout assistant as if they are under 25.  That everyone should have to put up with this irritation and inconvenience for the sake of protecting children and teenagers seems fairer than to say that only people who look in a certain way should.

I do agree with that argument as far as that sort of situation goes.  However, the lockdown isn’t that sort of situation.  Some children still have access to education while others don’t – on the grounds of what their parents do.  Many people are still working, if hardly as usual.  Those who live alone are confined alone (I did not touch another person for more than three weeks in the early part of the lockdown – indeed, I was not in the same room with another person for a day short of three weeks – I was using Skype video, and it is no alternative); those who live with others are at least not completely deprived of human contact – but are potentially having to live in a close confinement with them in an extremely stressful situation.  I have a house and garden, and can easily exercise without coming into contact with anyone (not necessarily a positive); others can’t come in and out of their homes without using shared lifts or staircases.

I think “fair play” can be brought in when it is the same for everyone (that is, everyone pays the same and everyone has the same access to the advantage gained) but in neither direction is this the case.  There is both the issue of the fact that the lockdown is much severer for some groups than others, in a way that is practically unavoidable, and the fact that, as most people don’t seem to be at serious risk, their gains are much more limited (they won’t be significantly ill, though they would suffer if infrastructure broke down).  As in the case of a lot of others with similar health problems: there was 100% chance I would be made very seriously ill by lockdown.  I am not at risk from COVID-19, as far as anyone knows, though I would be from structural breakdown (having said, does severe lockdown not run the risk of causing such breakdown too?).  Could one suggest therefore, that the policy constitutes indirect discrimination?  I don’t have a clear opinion on that.  But it is interesting.

Anyway, perhaps it would be reasonable to say in this case: if it is wrong to tell the over-seventies that they have to be confined at home, while no-one else is, despite the fact that this policy is probably a very logical one from the economic/illness/protect the NHS point of view, it is presumably wrong to tell everyone who isn’t a keyworker that they have to be similarly confined.  This would actually lead to the conclusion that severe lockdown was never a legitimate policy in the first place.  Given that my other lines of thought have tended to lead me more to “it’s wrong for this length of time,” I am somewhat perplexed by this.

Whatever else can be said, however, I think that considering legitimacy of restriction of normally important freedom in the context of epidemics and other natural disasters is overdue.  Human rights declarations tend to focus on other types of situation.  If these considerations are taken seriously, they cannot be set aside because people might spread disease any more than they can be set aside because someone might start a riot.

Cherry Foster

What Happened?

When did the UK become the sort of democratic dictatorship wherein innocent people have to wait on government permission to leave the house to attend religious worship, to visit a friend, or to conduct ordinary business?  Or even just to walk the dog a second time on the same day?

The fuss that would usually be made if someone not accused of any crime was placed under house arrest, allowed to go out only for limited exercise and essentials, and forbidden any religious ministry, for six weeks or longer would, I hope, be enormous.  More so if young children or people with serious health problems were involved.

Yet we (many in the UK) have already been in this situation for more than five weeks.

It isn’t ethically defensible to continue this policy, regardless of the possible or probable consequences of doing otherwise.  Return to normal civil liberty is overdue.  Being asked to take ongoing precautions while exercising these liberties is completely different.

We are going to have to learn to function normally in the presence of this disease: the sooner we do so, the less other damage there will be to make that difficult.

And if anyone is planning an appropriate act of Civil Disobedience – say, gathering in numbers on the local beach and walking about at least six feet apart, all wearing masks and gloves – I really would like to know!

Cherry Foster

Disability Adjustments and Lockdown: a comparison and a question

Suspending freedom to function for the sake of others’ need is a much more complex question than people seem to be allowing.  Here I consider it in comparison with what people are prepared to do to accommodate disability needs – though there are other possible analogies to explore such as what is and isn’t allowed in the criminal justice system.

There is an act in British law requiring institutions such as universities to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students.

However, “reasonable” can be very widely interpreted, and at my first institution it was considered unreasonable to expect lecturers to give me their notes on white paper.

The issues in living accommodation were worse: I had known dyspraxia and CPTSD, the latter in particular being well known to cause serious noise sensitivity problems, and yet it was apparently quite unreasonable to either place me in a student house with housemates prepared to be quiet, or to restrict the freedom of the other students by asking them to turn their music down or use headphones, in order to prevent their fellow student and housemate becoming seriously ill.  Similar difficulties are present with noise sensitivity in wider society: I lived briefly with a girl who was normally ill for several weeks around 5th November due to issues with fireworks, and I have heard someone with autism say that they had been on the verge of suicide due to a neighbour insisting on playing a musical instrument repeatedly in the middle of the night – the authorities insisting that it wasn’t loud enough to be regarded as an issue.

Issues with what you can ask others to do or put up with in order to accommodate the needs of others are complex, and I would not advocate a simple answer.  If there is one thing that is necessary to truly include anyone with extra or unusual needs, it is the acceptance that other people are still allowed to have problems and difficulties and needs too.  Community really can’t function if one person’s needs become completely invisible and irrelevant as soon as someone else is perceived as having a greater need.  The balance between normal freedom to function and the way in which what one is doing or not doing adversely affects others has to be maintained.  It is one thing to require the strong to bear some of the burdens of the weak, but the strong do not have infinite strength, and can still be overloaded.  It’s possible to have real and acute needs which it is genuinely not reasonable to ask people to meet due to the cost to themselves: an extreme example of this being people who need organ donations not being able to require them from live donors.

However, if this is so when it comes to disability and illness and need in normal times, it applies to an epidemic too.

I think that I would suggest our lockdown response to the COVID-19 epidemic is rather inconsistent, when it comes to the limitations generally placed on the ordinary adjustments made for disabled people on a day to day basis.  This is not simple because there are all sorts of reasons for advocating lockdown other than the protection of people at high risk from the disease, and a lot of the problems with disability adjustments come from a lack of understanding, rather than an unwillingness to make effort, or have freedom to do certain leisure activities restricted in some way.  Moreover, I think most people would argue that my university was wrong and should have made the adjustments I am talking of.  And what is justly required and enforced by third parties, and what it may be good for someone to do for others voluntarily, are different things.

I think, though, despite the complexities, requiring that people at low risk from a disease suspend all their normal activities and accept house arrest* on the specific grounds that it is to protect a different group of people who are at high risk of serious illness is problematic, unless it is also reasonable to ask a similar level of sacrifice and adjustment for those who have health and disability needs in ordinary times.

Cherry Foster

 

 

*This is slightly complicated: I personally have developed severe depression as a result of the lockdown, but I am thinking here of the people for whom it is unpleasant but not actually a threat to life or serious illness.

Lock-Down and Mental Health Treatment

People with significant mental health issues are having their health sacrificed to the welfare of a different group of people, and they are unlikely to be given the help they need when the emergency is over.

Ultimately, with the exception of a few details relating to my Christian world view, I refuse to judge whether or not the UK government has been right to place its population under virtual house arrest (it is only legal to leave your home for a few very specific purposes like buying food) in response to Corvid-19.  I am glad I am not having to make the decisions.

However, as someone with long term depression and traumatic disorder problems, it cannot be avoided that I am being made seriously ill by the consequences to me of the restrictions.  And while this is slightly qualified by the fact that those of us for whom this is the case are still vulnerable to the collapse of infrastructure, as someone who is at very little risk from the disease itself, I am being made significantly ill by policies enacted primarily for the sake of the health and well-being of a different group of vulnerable people.

People often seem to underestimate depression – or rather, I think they confuse the minor forms with the severe, and assume that all depression is a matter of a bit of low mood which could do with a little bit of counselling and self-help.  It is quite right those things should be provided, but on the other hand, the fact that some people only need a bit of cream for their skin rash does not mean that all skin cancer is dismissed as a minor illness for which only minor measures are needed!

Given my tendencies, I have reached a point where I am desperately trying to process my emotions enough for the situation not to result in further traumatic disorder, but to keep them calm enough that the depression does not put me in hospital.  Though I’ve been out walking every day, I am concerned that I’m starting to develop a real (and potentially persistent) fear of going out, and I’m really struggling with my self-care, to the point that social services is having to step in to assist.  I am too fragile to communicate with people much, and this is particularly frustrating as it cuts me off from a lot of online things that would be helpful if I was well enough to access them.  And though I am doing my best, and hoping it may be possible to find ways of coping, the chances are that my health is only going to get worse the longer the restrictions continue.

The fact that it is like this for me may be a result of idiosyncrasies in brain structure that result from hypermobility disorder, though I am not sure how well established that suggestion is.  In any case, it is an illness like any other, not a matter of wilful weakness or simple ineptitude.  It can be responded to badly – in much the same way as a diabetic can choose to try to be careful with food or not – but it isn’t a choice or a failure merely to suffer from it.

At the present moment, I have excellent medical care (without which I would be much worse) in managing the immediate symptoms, from my GP, to whom I am extremely grateful.

However, there is a reasonable likelihood that I will develop long term problems – problems that do not ease with the easing of pressure – damage that will go on crippling and harming my life indefinitely, and this is not the province of a GP.  Even if I personally don’t develop long term issues, it is a reasonable assumption that there will be people who do.

What has been done has been done in an emergency situation, and as I say, I refuse to judge whether they are right or wrong to do it.  But the fact remains that there is a population of people whose health and wellbeing are being sacrificed primarily for the sake of the health and wellbeing of a different group of people.

When the emergency is over, will those who find that long-term damage has been done to their mental health by the precautions, receive prompt, automatic, adequate, expert care?  Or will there be no resources for them?  When they have suffered horribly in order that the health service may care for others with what is perceived to be a more urgent need, will they find, when that urgent need lessens, that they are the priority and that they will, without having to fight for it, receive the same care?  Will the health service then set up “field” mental health units and take on more staff to deal with the illnesses of trauma and depression and any others caused by what has been done by the government to deal with corvid-19?

From my previous experience, it is reasonable to project that the answer will be “no”.  We will probably be left to our ongoing suffering, perhaps with a little bit of very limited, non-expert counselling, and such as our GPs can do with medication.  Having been made ill by the precautions taken for others, we are likely to be abandoned to suffer from that illness.

Seriously, whatever else is right or wrong here, not regarding the serious mental health illnesses caused by precautions against the coronavirus as being due the same weight of medical assistance, is not right.

Cherry Foster

 

The Improbable Policy of Ebenezer Scrounge

On the difficulties of reducing all claims to property to “greater need”.

Bob Crouch shivered nervously as he waited for his boss. Ebenezer crashed in and slammed the door, tearing a hole in his ancient suit.

“Bother,” he said. Then he looked at Bob. “What is it? I’ve only got half an hour – then I need to go and join the trustees of the fisherman’s fund.”

Bob swallowed. “I’ve been with you now for twelve years,” he said.

“And very good work you do too,” said Ebenezer, who valued Bob, and never hesitated to praise him.

“And I feel that it is fair I ask you to increase my wages, which have not been increased in that time. I have a large family, as you know, and my son Tom is disabled.”

“Oh, come on, Bob,” Ebenezer said. “If I raise your wages, I’ll have to decrease the donation to the East African Famine Fund. At least your family are in no danger of starving. Their children have a greater need than yours.”

Bob had known he would probably get an answer of this type. He felt momentarily ashamed of himself, wondering what right he had to money that was preventing others starving. Then he wondered if Ebenezer thought he should give the money he, Bob, spent on food for his children to charity, until his children were in a greater state of malnutrition than any other children in the world. Probably not. Ebenezer did eat enough, if not a crumb more – and he never expected anything of others he didn’t do himself. Remembering his son’s unhappiness, his daughter’s probable illness, and his wife’s worried face, he pressed on.

“Yes, but that isn’t the point…” he began.

At that moment there was a knock on the door. “Oh bother,” said Ebenezer. “It’s the soldiers’ orphans’ missionary charity rep. I must see what he wants.”

Bob sighed, and went to his work. He’d known he was probably wasting his time. Even huddled in his coat, he felt cold. The allowance of coal was minimal. Ebenezer didn’t seem to suffer much from it, rushing about as he did, but Bob did. He was glad when it was time to go home. Not that home was much warmer.

His wife Martha met him at the door. All his children were in the tiny living room clustered around Tom, talking eagerly to him of their day at school. Martha could teach him herself, but never had there been a child less well suited to being taught at home rather than going to school. His half-wistful, half-angry eyes followed their neighbours’ daughter, born without legs, being whirled home from school in her wheelchair by a laughing crowd of brothers and friends. Bob had applied to the same charity for one for Tom, but Ebenezer being the chair of trustees, he had been told that as Tom could walk a few steps, they must save their grants for those who could not walk at all, who thereby had a greater need. Had Bob been earning a fair wage for his work, he could easily have purchased a wheelchair for his son himself, but as things stood, they could pay for little but food and shelter and essential clothing, and as Tom could not walk the mile to school and back, he could not go.

The children were cheerful enough most of the time with their rag dolls and hand-me-down clothes, but he knew his youngest daughter had wept all the last night at not being able to go to her friend’s birthday party for want of a gift and a dress. She was thin and pale, and coughed frequently. Bob and Martha both feared she was becoming seriously ill. Ebenezer would undoubtedly pay thousands for her to be treated, but probably not until it was too late.

“Did you get anywhere?” Martha asked him anxiously?

Bob shook his head, his worried eyes passing over his children.

“Oh, it isn’t fair,” she said passionately, “I wish you could find work other than for that old miser.”

“Oh come,” said Bob, who had a fair amount of affection and respect for his employer, “you know he means what he says. He probably lives on a poorer diet than us. And all to give the money to people who are in need.”

“If he wants to live like that himself,” said Martha, “then I respect, yes, admire it immensely. But he has no business imposing it on our children by refusing to pay you what you earn. That money isn’t his to give to other people.”

“Well, there’s nothing we can do except plod on,” said Bob. “There’s no-one else to work for here, and…”

There was a knock on the door, and one of the neighbours’ children poked their head around.

“Letter for you, Mr. Crouch. Got left with us by mistake this morning.”

Bob looked at the letter and slowly broke the seal. Martha looked up to see his face transformed.

“This is from an old schoolfriend of mine. He’s inherited an estate – not sure I quite get who from – and wants a manager, and he says the job’s mine if I want it. Twice the salary I’m earning now, and a cottage provided.”

“Oh wonderful,” cried all the children together.

“Yes,” said Bob, half to himself, as he tried to realise that their current problems, at least, were over. “I’ll never hear the words ‘greater need’ again.”

Crysanthemums photo credit Ramon F Velasquez no copyright source wikamedia commons
Photo Credit: Ramon F. Velasque; Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Cherry Foster

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Had to” – a linguistic conundrum?

I would suggest that it is worth being cautious about using language that suggests we don’t have a choice when we do

“We had to have an abortion because the baby had Sirenomelia”

“We had to get the train because the last bus had gone”

“We had to give a bribe because otherwise the customs people would have delayed us until our flight had gone”

I don’t see much problem with getting the train instead of the bus. But in every case it seems to me that we mean “we thought it was the sensible/right choice” rather than the “we had no choice” which the words imply, and I think that is cause for concern.

The first case is the one which drew my attention to this problem of language in the first place. I am pro-life in every situation – i.e. I don’t believe it is ever justified to try to end the life of an unborn, for a wide variety of different reasons, the simplest being that under no other circumstances does our normal understanding of human rights allow any attribute other than that of being a living human being to have an impact on someone’s moral status*. But I would distinguish between pro-choice and pro-abortion, the latter being more sinister as it tends to start reducing the positive freedom of the parents, as well as not considering the child.

Pro-choice suggests that the mother should make a more or less arbitrary decision, should act according to her preference whatever that is (I don’t agree with that type of practical reasoning, but it does follow logically from liberal anthropology). There would, in this case, be two cultural maps of how to act in all different types of circumstances, one of which involves having an abortion, and the other of which involves not doing so. “Had to” conveys a pro-abortion norm, because it is not acknowledging the possibility of the other way of acting. Choice is being eroded in this case by a way of thinking and speaking that suggests that choice does not really exist in a particular type of circumstance. “We thought it was the best thing to do,” however much I disagree, is at least a correct description of the decision.

“We had to get the train because the last bus had gone”. While in many ways inaccurate – in fact, you might be able to sit in a doorway all night, you might be able to find a hotel, you might be able to spend the night walking to the next town from which you could get a bus in the morning, this one doesn’t strike me as a particular problem. Getting the train from where you are is the logical option in the ordinary course of day-to-day necessity. This was more my control case than anything else. There isn’t, as far as I can see, any sort of moral issue inherently at stake in taking the train rather than the bus – no question of needing to think about the legitimacy of the action.

I had a long argument with various people about my third example, about “having to give a bribe”, which comes from one of my family doing work in a part of Africa, and people insisting that he “had to” give a bribe because that was how the country worked. I have in this case, no clear answer to the question of whether or not the action is moral or not. I can see why people would feel as foreigners that they shouldn’t challenge a system of that sort in a country where it was a long term tradition. I can also see the problems involved in not refusing. I feel, however, that citing “had to” and continuing “because of this consequence” is problematic.  In such circumstances there is always the choice to suffer the consequence, though it may not be the right thing to do in any particular case. Consider an escalation: “we had to murder three children because otherwise the customs people would have delayed us until our booked flight had gone.” I both think and hope that most people would refuse. Again, as with my first example, I think it is important not to erode the sense of “this is the right decision” with language that implies “I was deprived of the freedom to make a decision”.

So, I would suggest that we could do with being careful about the ways in which we use “have to”. Using it to refer to the need to change every day plans due to some unexpected happening is inaccurate, but probably unimportant. However, using it when some more serious choice is involved does matter, for in eroding our sense of choice, it makes it harder for us to see the thing in question as a real choice, choose rightly, and accept responsibility.

 

Cherry Foster

 

*What’s usually opposed to this “my body, my rights” does not seem to me to be any counter-argument because the child also has a physical body from the moment of conception.

Also, I don’t feel I should disapprove of abortion, however obliquely, without mentioning sources of support for people in the sort of situation where they can’t see another way forward, or who may need human assistance post-abortion. I’m not in a position to vouch for the practical quality of the help offered by any of the following, except that I met one of the Gospel of Life sisters (third link) at a conference and was favourably impressed.

https://standupgirl.com/girl-help/crisis-support/

https://lifecharity.org.uk/

https://gospeloflifesisters.wordpress.com/pregnant-we-can-help-you/

https://cardinalwinningprolifeinitiative.wordpress.com/about-us/howwecanhelp/

https://radiantlight.org.uk/crisis-pregnancy-support-etc/

The fourth link is also academically interesting from the point of view of what I’m saying about our understanding of “choice” in the case of abortion.

Against Idolatry; In Favour of Images

Holy House
The Holy House in the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Inside the arch, though not very clear, is a statue of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus on her knee; the painted images on the altarpiece are: The Annunciation (left), the visitation (right), and the Adoration of the Magi (centre). Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

 

I wonder if being accused of idolatry in some context or the other is a necessary rite of passage for an Anglo-Catholic? 

I do in fact believe idolatry to be completely and utterly wrong, contrary to God’s order and the dignity of our being.

However, I would define idolatry as worshiping a creature as if it were God, or otherwise behaving as if a creature was God, not as making an image (1) in itself, or venerating it in the course of worship (2), and I freely use images in my worship and join in with worship that uses images, not because I think idolatry is in any way justifiable, but because do not believe these practices to be idolatry.

I do not think making or using images is explicitly forbidden in scripture, as being in its inherent nature idolatry. (If I did think it was forbidden in scripture, I wouldn’t do it). Consider Moses and the brass serpent. God tells Moses to make the image. God tells the Israelites to look to it for healing (3). It is then, later, broken when people are (supposed to be?) actually worshiping it (4). So the making of an image and the using it to seek God’s healing is in scripture as a direct command of God. Images of the cherubim are put on the ark of the covenant (5), images of pomegranates around the high priest’s robe (6), images of oxen hold up the “molten sea” in the temple (7). In the Old Testament, it is forbidden to make images because no form was seen on the day that God spoke (8). In the New Testament, we have Christ as the visible image of the invisible God; i.e. now God has shown himself in a visible form (9); by the same logic, picturing this form would be legitimate. The issue of images in scripture isn’t simple. Certainly, what Scripture says about using images in worship cannot be reduced to a blank citing of the second commandment and Deuteronomy 4.

While this is a defence of having Christian images in itself, it is not a defence of using them in any particular way. If a ritual action is intended to convey worship of anything other than God, it is idolatry, even if the thing worshipped is completely innocent. But it is worth thinking widely about ritual actions in a variety of contexts before deciding that an action is intended to convey worship, or that it implies confusion between the image and the thing itself. Consider the Prince of Wales kneeling before his mother to make an oath, soldiers saluting their flag, an annoyed child burning their teacher in effigy, a boyfriend kissing a photo of his absent girlfriend. Is any of this rightly considered an act of worship? I would confidently answer “no”. None of it is worshiping the creature as if it was the creator.

I as confidently answer “no” of putting candles or flowers or sweets down before an image of a Saint for whom I have considerable and correct (our Lord bade us love one another) affection. I believe that the question in such cases rests in what is in people’s hearts and minds. I have every sympathy with anyone who says “I don’t think I should do this because I think it will lead me into idolatry”. If it is a temptation for anyone to confuse the image with the substance, then I think they are quite right not to venerate it, and quite right for other Christians to respect that.

In the case of the last three ritual actions I cited – the ones where an image or a symbol is involved – the soldiers saluting the flag, an annoyed child burning their teacher in effigy, a boyfriend kissing a photo of his absent girlfriend – there is extremely unlikely to be any confusion between the image and the person or thing represented by the image. The soldiers know the flag isn’t actually their nation or head of state. The child doesn’t actually think they are burning the teacher to death! We who scatter flowers before the Walsingham image of the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus know perfectly well that it is a representation – or at least, if I thought others didn’t also know that, I would not myself take part.

I am aware of the warnings and I keep a watch on my heart and mind to be careful that I am not slipping into anything illegitimate. However, I think in modern times non-ritual idolatry is more of a threat. We are far, far less likely to make an idolatry of images used in religious contexts – images we know are wood and paint representations – than of money, sex, luxury or success (10). In a world where we are bombarded with images of considerable emotional power, often for the sake merely of manipulation, there is a lot to be said for challenging this in its own language – by making and using images of what is good. This would not be a reason to make or use images in worship if it was forbidden – not at all – it is sensible to trust that if God says “don’t” it is for our good. However, as I don’t think it is forbidden, I also don’t think it is a matter of mere indifference, in that there can be very positive advantages to using images to communicate.

Overall, I think it is right that I should use images as aids to the devotion and seeking for grace which lead me towards God and away from sin. I wouldn’t challenge anyone else’s preference not to. I do not worship such images and would consider doing so very wrong – indeed, much of their assistance for me rests on my consciousness of their inadequacy.

Cherry Foster

 

  1. I use “image” throughout to mean a made representation intended to picture something other than it is, whether 3-dimensional or 2-dimensional. Idolatry in the sense of focusing conscious worship on an entity other than God does not require an actual image: one could, for instance, worship an unshaped stone, but as this post is intended as an explanation of the what/why of venerating images, this is not really important.
  2. C.f. 1994 Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church. (As an Anglican I respect this Catechism as a theological document rather than regarding it as having authority). This post was partly inspired by a (civilised and very interesting) conversation I had with a protester against the National Pilgrimage to Walsingham, and the leaflet by Richard Bennett I was handed on that occasion.  While I appreciate the difficulties of summarising, I think he tends to misrepresent somewhat in quoting those passages which disagree with his view, and not those which qualify them into something much closer to it. (For example, he quotes CCC para. 2131 and the beginning of 2132, in favour of the notion that the Roman Catholic Church believes in idolatry, and not the end of 2132 or 2113 which firmly refuse it). The Catechism 2110-2132 is generally relevant to what I’m saying, and uses many of the same arguments, though it was not my primary source for most of them.
  3. Numbers 21:4-9.
  4. 2 Kings 18:4.  Precisely what is going on in this passage or with these reforms puzzles me considerably, as does most of the theology of the books of Kings.
  5. Exodus 25:18-20
  6. Exodus 28:33-34
  7. 1 Kings 7:20. 1 Kings 7 also mentions other images among the decorations of the Temple.
  8. Deuteronomy 4:15-20
  9. Colossians 1:15
  10. C.f. Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5; in both cases it is specifically greed that is identified with idolatry.