Wednesday, December 01, 2010

London in the snow...

...looks glorious, and Trafalgar Square, with Nelson staring stonily down Whitehall, and the National Gallery grey and stately with whirling flurries of showflakes, was the stuff of tourist brochures. But students were gathering for another round of shouting, and in the adjoining streets were lines of policemen. They were friendly and cheery and when I expressed the hope that the rioters wouldn't become violent as happened last week, they were tolerant and British about it "They've got a right to make their protest, that's only fair. But there's no need for them to throw things and endanger lives."

Feels odd, in a way, discussing student grants when one is a mature student. When I left school, I was excited about becoming a journalist and although there were long discussions about university, I made the decision to go for a job on a newspaper, and an apprenticeship in what was to become a lifelong career, and have never regretted it. But I never felt that I had a "right" to go to university in a sense anyway - I always felt it was a priviledge, and one that those who took up the opportunity should regard as such. So I am rather ambivalent on hearing shouts and seeing banners that announce that attendance at university should be something that is regarded as a sort of fundamental thing, like a right to water or shelter or food.

This week, busy in the evenings with essays and reading (5th century, Council of Chalcedon. Christology. Gospel of St John. And more....) I am conscious of gratitude for the chance to do some studying late in life, via a Catholic institute which charges modest fees.

Another train of thought: studying some of the dramas in the Church's long history makes you ponder more recent events rather deeply. The Councils of the Church have a sense of continuity about them: you see the Second Vatican Council as having a greater importance than I had imagined, its documents a greater richness (I had always been encouraged to think of them as rather dull - as just "pastoral" and rather unimportant, but the reality is quite different). To become familiar with this sense of the consistency of things is to see how odd and out-on-a-limb the Lefebvrists have been...something which I imagine they are coming to see too.

1 comment:

Malcolm said...

Things change. It's now very difficult to leave school and start in a worthwhile career, with prospects. Now that 50% go to university, employers use that pretty much as an automatic filter. Of course a few people will be able to push past that, but only a few.

Most young people, even at good universities, don't have much real interest in any academic subject. They want certification rather than education. But they didn't set up the system whereby the certificates are held to have such value.