There Was a Rush Along the Fulham Road…

I spent the summer of 1973 doing two things: listening to the Watergate hearings while draughting for my family business, and listening to Jethro Tull’s new, controversial, “concept” album, A Passion Play. The combination of the two doubtless contributed to the malaise that overshadowed me as I started college (Watergate itself was something of a passion play.) It also undermined parental credibility: after years of my father asking me, “Have you seen a rabbit wearing glasses?” to get me to eat my carrots, at the centre of the album was the recitation, “The story of the hare who lost his spectacles.”

Three years later I got the chance to go abroad, so I went to the UK. Back in London after touring Britain, I was still suffering from having listened to too much Tull–way too much, as it turned out. One recurring line in Passion Play went as follows:


There was a rush along the Fulham Road
There was a hush in the passion play.

Now in London, the obvious question remained: where was the Fulham Road? And what did it look like? On Sunday, having been to Mass and having dined with the beggar, I went on out to the Fulham Broadway underground station and emerged to obtain an answer to these questions.

The first thing I found out was rather obvious: there wasn’t much of a rush. It was Sunday, and I was amazed again at how dead things went in the UK on the weekend. I did find an Odeon theatre playing a film I had heard about in the US but couldn’t see: The Message, a film about the life of Mohammed and the beginnings of Islam. Being both a history buff and realising that Islam was an important religion, I could not resist taking a look.

The Message has a long and complicated history. Directed by the Syrian Moustapha Akkad and starring Anthony Quinn, by Islamic custom the film could not directly portray Mohammed or his immediate family. He solved the problem by using the camera to look out at what (or who) Mohammed might be seeing at the moment. He retained a group of imams to make sure everything else was proper from an Islamic standpoint and began shooting the film in Morocco. Eventually ejected from that country, and the imams having resigned, he ended up shooting in Libya, where Muammar Qadafi lent him military support (probably the Libyan military’s finest hour.)

By the time the film was released in the US, extremist Muslims were sure that sacrilege had been done, so they threatened to blow up the theatre where it was supposed to open. But Muslim leadership in Britain had a better handle on the situation, so we were able to see it in London.

And “we” were quite a group. As the moviegoers filed into the theatre for the showing, that sudden realisation came over me: “I’m the only white guy in this place.” The rest of the viewers were obviously immigrants, probably mostly Pakistani. Once everything went dark and the film started, it was pretty interesting. So was the crowd; they cheered when the Muslims won a full battle or killed an infidel. I thought that they might get fired up to start “jihad” in the theatre and I would be their first victim. But they didn’t, the film ended peacefully, and the happy Muslims filed out.

It’s too bad that “Europeans” on both sides of the Atlantic didn’t–or couldn’t–avail themselves of a real education on Islam and the Middle East. Instead we careen between the politically correct platitudes of our elites and the unrealistic expectations of our idealists. Anyone familiar with Muslim history–even that shown in The Message–realises quickly that we are dealing with people who choose to meet their objectives in a different way than we are accustomed to.

But Islam wasn’t the only matter under consideration in those days. Modern life has many distractions; rock music was and is one of them. Some time before my trip to the Fulham Road, it became clear that, if I planned to be the person God created me to be, I would have to alter my focus. So I took my leave from the “minstrel in the gallery” and turned more surely to the One who had rolled the stone away and could lead me “from the dark into ever-day.”

Bob McDonnell: The Predictable Media Assault Begins

The left is so predictable about things like this.  From the Washington Post:

At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master’s thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as “detrimental” to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” He described as “illogical” a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.

I knew this was coming.  From this piece last November:

Bob McDonnell: He’s a great guy (he’s the only one of the group I’ve actually met,) but no Ivy Leaguer.  If the MSM finds out he went to Regent (his sister Maureen was advancement director there,) they will trash him, and the DC suburbs will abandon him faster than they did John McCain.

My piece concerned a new Republican field for the 2012 Presidential race.  But, with McDonnell running for governor, they couldn’t wait.

But now the interesting question: will the DC suburbs abandon him on this account?   And will it make enough of a difference if they do?  That abandonment looked like a given after Barack Obama swept them last November, but ten months is an eternity in American politics.

HT to the Washington Examiner for this.

Lessons From the Underground

Orignally posted 13 July 2005.

The recent bombings in London bring back a lot of memories of all the trips I have taken to this great city. London’s underground and rail transport system are always a source of fascination. One reason is that people spend a lot of time in the Tube and on the train; London is a large city and it’s simply the best way to get around.

Waiting for the Underground, a quieter moment. Except when on the surface in the outer reaches of the city, it’s generally a dark place, which makes photography difficult. Being there in an explosion must have been an especially terrifying experience.

My first trip there was in 1976, as a part of a general tour of the U.K. This took me up to Scotland. As I was taking the train from Edinburgh to Birmingham (heading to what was in every sense the high point of the trip at Hergest Ridge,) I was reading the Scottish Catholic newspaper I had picked up at Mass the day before. It had a letter to the editor from a reader from Lubbock, Texas, which caught my eye as I was living in Texas at the time. He noted that, at Westminster Cathedral in London, the church staff had taken to shooing the beggars away from the church door. The reader was shocked; so was I.

The following Sunday I went to Mass there, and the beggars were out as well. So I decided that it was time for a little social action. I went up to one and mentioned what I had learned. His response? “I’m hungry.” So he took me to a pizza place around the corner from the Cathedral.

The scene was almost comic. The Indian waitress had a hard time understanding either one of us; he was lacking teeth and I was an American, and after all the work she had put in learing “English” having to deal with someone from the Colonies was just too much. But the beggar was glad for the meal and I was glad to have some help finding a place to eat. I told the beggar that it wasn’t the Christian thing to do to run them off, and after lunch we parted company.

One of the things I had always liked about Roman Catholicism was that it was universal in its scope and thus the church home of rich and poor alike. Its emphasis on social justice was something that I had come to expect. Unfortunately this wasn’t the last time I found the Church’s commitment to social justice had lapsed. I believe that a church that makes a big deal out of social issues–and goes left wing as a consequence–better be prepared to back it up with more than words, and one of the reasons I left the church was over a situation where it didn’t do that.

Busy train stations and other transport related sites are a tempting target for people with an agenda, be they the IRA (as was the case in the 1970’s) or Islamic careerists today.

It has been nearly thirty years since I entertained a beggar in the shadow of Westminster Cathedral, in the midst of what was then a multiracial society (another eye opener of London.) But some things never change. Just before that trip, my downstairs neighbours were two guys who were students at Texas A&M (as was I.) One was a “cowboy” and the other a Pakistani student, an interesting combination to say the least. One evening the Pakistani proclaimed that he wanted to see Pakistan abandon the British legal system and adopt shar’ia (Islamic) law. It didn’t take long; three years later, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was executed, Pakistan did just that and the march to the present state of affairs went on. Although our media act like geese–waking up in a new world every morning–the truth is that the new day is more like Groundhog Day, only this time some of the groundhogs are getting nuclear weapons.