Too Woke for our Own Good?

Every time I read of the latest manifestation of ‘wokeness’, I am inclined to groan and pass on to something more interesting. It seems but a short step from ‘wokeness’ to ‘cancelling’, and both strike me as being absurd. Should we spend time even thinking about them?

If an American citizen wants to remove a portrait of the Queen from an M.C.R., I merely ask myself if she will achieve as much in her lifetime as Elizabeth II. If 150 dons decide that they will not teach anyone from Oriel unless the Fellows remove a statue of Rhodes, I simply lament the intellectual and moral cowardice, as I see it, of those who believe in silencing others rather than engaging in proper debate. In such cases, I might even go so far as to sing the merits of the Little Place in the Fens, although it certainly doesn’t have a faultless record.

What, however, I’m forced to acknowledge is the power of sign and symbol, and the ambiguity of many of those in current use. For example, ‘taking the knee’ as a protest against racism causes me no difficulty, even if some of those using it are doing so without any great depth of conviction (who can tell?). It is a beautiful gesture, taken from Byzantine court ritual and subsequently incorporated into Christian worship. If, however, it is used to identify with the political aims of the BLM movement, I find that much more troubling.

There is no need to multiply examples. When the G7 summit opens tomorrow, one of the challenges the leaders will face is the different way in which they express and interpret values and motivation. Let us pray they are not too woke for their own (and our) good but achieve something of substance for us all.

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14 thoughts on “Too Woke for our Own Good?”

  1. I think the woke movement is excellent, its long overdue that we looked at how we treat our brothers, especially those who differ in some way, be it colour, disability, intelligence, that’s what Jesus showed us. Also, the Queen has achieved a lot and been so fantastic and professional every day, even when a gun sounded whilst she was riding in an event she stayed balanced, poised, steady and she must have been terrified. But don’t let it blind us to the smaller, perhaps more difficult, everyday achievements the disabled child who learns to walk, the people with mental health issues who struggle to cope, the refugee escaping a war zone. I’d love to see more monuments to these people than just one person who has been enormously privileged all her life.

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    • I would rather we build monuments of the people we admire than tear down those of people we don’t.

      We are called to build not to steal, kill and destroy

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  2. As ever, Dame Catherine, you have sliced through the nonsense with sharpened steel. If you had not been called to the consecrated life and were instead the Mistress of Oriel I suspect that wokery and cancelling would have been confined to the shredder where it belongs.
    I’m reminded of the heated ‘discussion’ about the Gill stations in Westminster Cathedral. Vile behaviour but inspirational carving. There is no correct answer but it’s our choice to avoid or to see beyond their maker.
    As for the fens, there’s nothing like that icy wind over the dykes to focus the mind.

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  3. I am longing and praying for the time when ‘woke’ matures and is understood as a single focus, that of Bach’s ‘Sleepers Awake’ and the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Otherwise, it will mean ‘my truth’ and ‘my take on things’ and result in the same plaintive Babel as before. Admittedly, it is a big ask of such as the G7 summit, but this is the season of the Holy Spirit.
    Love and blessings always, dear Catherine, and thank you for your faithful perseverance.

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  4. I must live in a parallel universe! I have not been “woke”n!!

    I have had to look up the slang word infiltrating our language. How very appropriate that it has reached the ever open minded, curious and concerned monastery before me..

    Thank you for enlightening me again..

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  5. As always, thank you for your comments which are a great enrichment of whatever I’ve originally posted and reflect different points of view (which is what I always hope for). Part of our ‘new normal’ will tend to be generalised responses from me as a way of conserving energy. The point of my post — the need to pray for the G7 leaders — got a little lost, and I’m genuinely sorry that both here, on FB and on Twitter, those less familiar with the community and with my way of writing have read into my remarks a kind of criticism I did not intend. I should take to heart some of my own earlier posts! That said, I think we should remember that what we think of as privilege is not in itself sinful. Like every other gift, it is what we do with it that counts. So, let’s ponder another question, what do you and I do with ours?

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  6. So sorry to have read your tone wrong, I’m just really concerned that some people see the royals as just like the Kardashians only more posh, like some sort of guru or god, like everything they say or do is worthy of being studied by the rest of us. The real message the world needs to hear, as I understand it, is that we’re all loved and valued be we prince or pauper.
    I so love Jesus’ message of love to us all, but also thanks to you & the community for all the wonderful work you do bringing Jesus into our lives.

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  7. May He grant us more time with you, Sr Catherine. The only comment I would make about taking down HM’s portrait is that she is our Head of State. She is entitled to be seen and portrayed as such.

    Praying for your comfort and God’s mercy.

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  8. Dear Sister Catherine, l will be interested to see how the new GBNews channel interprets emerging news stories over the coming weeks with its anti-woke outlook on matters.
    If they are just going to take an overtly critical stance of those who dare to challenge discrimination, misogyny, oppression and exploitation of those less able to resist economic suppression, I will be disappointed but probably not surprised. If they were to ask themselves before passing judgement on developing stories, what would Jesus do, they might find they are closer to BBC or ITN reporting standards than they had anticipated.
    Only time will tell.
    May the good Lord bless and care for you and give you the strength to continue to give us the benefit of your inspired wisdom. Peace, love and joy be with you now and always.

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    • I do agree Bernard, I’m not particularly excited about the new news channel either. I find the best news is Channel 4 news because they actually challenge the politicians in a way that the BBC doesn’t and there are some really big things that do need bringing to people’s attention at the moment. Every time I see them challenging a politician I think of Jesus in the temple. Thinking what would Jesus do is a great question to ask ourselves when watching the news especially.

      Reply

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