Cohere, god damn it

Doesn’t the BBC ever want to puke on itself? Seriously. Doesn’t its gorge ever rise until it can’t stand it any more and it has to shout rude words in a hoarse voice and pour beer over its head and kick the table over? Doesn’t it ever get sick of talking babyish cant?

Secondary schools run by faith groups are better than non-religious schools at building community relations, research in England suggests. A study funded by the Church of England found faith schools were rated higher than others by Ofsted inspectors on what is called “community cohesion”. The church says its schools take all faiths seriously and look for common ground while respecting difference.

What is called by whom ‘community cohesion’? And what’s it supposed to mean? Cohesion of communities, or cohesion between communities? The first makes sense but is a decidedly mixed blessing, the second is ludicrously oxymoronic. Maybe it’s supposed to mean both, without any thought about either one, but just a brainless pious hope that we can all have everything: cohesion and commmunity and tolerance and everybody loves everybody else. Let’s train people to think they all belong to a particular ‘community,’ for preference a religious excuse me I mean ‘faith’ community, but that’s not absolutely required unless of course the people are Muslims in which case it is absolutely required; then when we’ve done that let’s train them to aim at cohesion, without ever quite explaining what we mean by that; then let’s send them all to ‘faith’ schools; then let’s urge them to look for common ground while respecting difference. Let’s give them mixed messages! Let’s make no sense at all and then look around with an air of pleased expectancy at the peaceable kingdom we have created!

The Reverend Janina Ainsworth, chief education officer for the Church of England, says schools with a religious foundation have a particular role “in modelling how faith and belief can be explored and expressed in ways that bring communities together, rather than driving them apart. In Church of England schools that means taking all faith seriously and placing a high premium on dialogue, seeking the common ground as well as understanding and respecting difference.”

Yes take all ‘faith’ seriously because of course it is crucial to take seriously all brands of evidence-free belief, and at the same time do the impossible by squaring common ground with difference. That’s the advantage of people who take faith seriously of course – they don’t have to notice troublesome difficulties of that kind, they can just have ‘faith’ that the impossible can be done. They can talk woolly fluffy feel-good mush, and be pleased with themselves afterwards.

Not surprisingly, Keith Porteous Wood is the one person quoted in the article who makes any sense, by pointing out the obvious –

“The very existence of minority faith schools is a major impediment to cohesion, especially where members tend also to be from ethnic and cultural minorities. Such schools tend to be mono-religious, mono-ethnic and mono-cultural, quite often of children from communities that are already separate from mainstream society.”

Yes but if everyone just keeps saying faith and cohesion and community over and over and over again, it will all work out in the end, surely.

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