News Analysis

The best of the web: Talk Talk, Lenten realities and plagiarism

Mark Hollis (Getty)

A pop star who was ‘versed in Christ’

At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer paid tribute to Mark Hollis, the recently deceased singer of the pop group Talk Talk. After huge success, he started “creating music for the sake of beauty rather than for the sake of profit”.

The first track of the album Spirit of Eden begs “the Lord to rage against injustice. Over its nearly 20-minute length, the song moves from the sound of seascapes to an utterly cacophonous passion, finally resolving with a recognition that a man is inherently flawed and, thus, unable to perfect all things.”

Another song’s lyrics go: “Seven sacraments to song / Versed in Christ / Should strength desert me”. For the last 20 years of his life, Hollis produced little music and focused instead on fatherhood – a silence which only increased the mystery and appeal of his work.

Lent’s ugly and beautiful realities

Fr Ray Blake’s blog offered a series of posts on Lent and reality. “Lies are a way of fleeing the Cross,” Fr Blake wrote. Lent is a time to turn back towards the truth. Almsgiving should remind us that existence is fleeting and the wheel of fortune can quickly turn.

“Poverty can reveal the gracious prince as a vicious beggar, sickness can reveal the sweet and benign old man as a self-obsessed God-cursing beast.

“Remember Chrysostom: if we give from our excess we are doing nothing but returning what we have grabbed for ourselves; almsgiving is about giving from your necessities.”

Fr Blake quoted the late Fr John Edwards SJ: “You can tell where your heart is and what is important to you by looking at your bank statement.”

Fasting can also be chastening. “I asked a wise old monk why Recreation was reduced to just half an hour during Lent in his monastery,” Fr Blake recalled. The monk replied: “There are nice pious reasons about giving more time for prayer but the reality is it stops us from losing our temper and tearing out one another’s throats.”

The monk noted that “history is littered with monks who murdered their abbots during Lent”. Fasting “shows what is really in the soul when pretending is no more”.

As for prayer, it takes away our belief that we can save ourselves – “the ultimate blasphemy”. “Acknowledging our need for mercy because of our sinfulness is
fundamental prayer,
expressed so well in the Western posture for prayer: kneeling before God.”

When plagiarism passes unnoticed

Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today discussed the case of Fr Thomas Rosica, a Canadian priest who has been found to engage in “plagiarism involving everything from newspaper articles, blog posts and more”.

It all raises a difficult question, Bailey wrote. “How did Rosica last so long?” Normally plagiarists are found out pretty quickly. But it seems that “no one recognised the words, despite them often coming from adjacent authors. If they did, they either assumed they were remembering wrong or that it wasn’t a big deal.”

That may be the most disturbing thing of all, Bailey wrote.