Thursday, 24 October 2013

Relevant Interview

I received an email from an Eavesdropper saying that if I were a man writing for men, my shameless promotion of my book would have driven my readers away. This surely cannot be true, as the best way to sell books is for the author to turn up places and talk about it. Incidentally, I wonder how thin I could get if I consumed nothing but porridge, oranges, borscht, fish and coffee?

Since I live in an attic in an old house on the east coast of Scotland, I cannot easily turn up in the midst of large crowds of Catholics wearing a skirt suit and a winsome smile to talk about my novel and deny that it is autobiographical. I keep telling Hilary White that everyone will think Catriona is her, an idea that may please Hilary less when she reads the book. (N.B. I met Hilary years after the book was done.)

I wish I could go on TV more often. I do rather well on TV, not because I am pretty but because I am very animated and have supernaturally thick hair, so that people sitting in front of the TV yell to their loved ones, "Come and see how much hair this lady has!" Meanwhile, when I saw myself on the Michael Coren show, I noticed that my legs, ending in stiletto heels bought for the show, were in shot quite a lot of the time, and this was the Christian TV station. Maybe it was a coincidence.

Anyway, enough about me and TV. This post is about me and radio. I have another radio interview coming up. This one will be on MONDAY, 8:15 AM Central Time (9:15 Eastern Timee), on Relevant Radio. This time the interview will be 20 to 30 minutes long. I want to be more articulate this time, so I will write some interview questions for B.A. and make him interview me for twenty minutes. No more hemming and hawing if I am asked "Why would a person like you write a book like this?" At the time, I thought the Catholic interviewer was mad at me. Only after he mentioned he hadn't read the book did I realize he was just trying to get some basic information.

Perhaps it would have been easier if he had first asked, "Who are you?", although I was so nervous, I may have channeled Pope Francis and just blurted out "A sinner." I suppose a "person like me" is a cradle Catholic who grew up feeling rather uneasy with the world, for although my perception of my city was that it was "half Catholic"--roughly divided between Catholic school supporters and post-Protestant school supporters--I knew that the elites, from the Queen on down, were not Catholic.

I think my parents were wary of making me ghettoized, for they sent me to Brownies at the local Anglican church instead of to the Catholic Brownies at our parish church. But this meant my father had his Evelyn Waugh moment of putting his foot down against me participating in Brownie Church Parade. This led to some tension with Brown Owl or Tawny Owl (probably Tawny Owl) over this, which increased my sense that something was wrong with--not me and my family--but almost everyone else.

I couldn't understand, for example, why I saw so few of my soi-disant Catholic classmates in church. And I couldn't understand why Catholic priests treated Catholic teachings so seriously, and Catholic teachers didn't. And when I found out about the existence of ab*rti*n--whew! That was basically it for me ever winning the Order of Canada because Canada was floating on a river of baby blood, a mari usque ad mare, and as the eldest of five children, I could never, ever make peace with that. The whole scandal rather flies in the face of our insistence that we are are polite and peaceful people. And people call Victorian attitudes towards sexuality "hypocritical"! (!!!)

Islam, which has so many and varied schools of theology that it is actually silly to talk about Islam as if it were one, easily definable religion like Catholicism, does not always outlaw ab*rti*n, at least not in the early stages of pregnancy. And I honestly think this makes observant Muslims more at home in Canadian society than observant Roman Catholics.

Ab*rtion rights are the feminist sacrament, and they mean more to Canadian and American establishment feminists than anything else, including honour killing and forced marriages. As long as Muslims stay out of the pro-life movement, their religiosity is a-okay with (even admired by) the taste makers and the powers-that-be. It helps Muslims aren't usually white, for post-Christian and post-observant Jewish white feminists are petrified of seeming racist or colonialist. Saudi Arabia, I would point out, has no problem with colonization, for it has been sending and funding Wahhabist missionaries throughout the world, in many cases supplanting indigenous, more easy-going forms of Islam. And, incidentally, I learned this interesting fact at Boston College.

I was at BC after 9/11, and I flew in and out of Boston's Logan International Airport rather often. This meant I thought about 9/11 rather a lot, and I was so interested in religion-inspired violence that I alarmed at least one of my classmates. The Mohammed Cartoon Crisis broke out while I was there--that was good for a paper on freedom of speech (what is it for?) and one on whether violence was an appropriate response to blasphemy (works for Muslims!). And then, of course, I went to Germany, where I was when Canadian police stopped what would have been Toronto's 7/7 or 9/11, and where I missed being blown up by the Cologne bombers by two days and faulty mechanisms.

Well, that covers the Catholic and terrorist bits of my book. Probably, though, for the sake of the radio, I should just mention that I am a Catholic former theology student who found modern Germany fascinating and was most exceedingly cross when some Islamist foreign students set a bomb on a train leaving Cologne two days after I left Cologne. I wanted to write a novel set in Germany that addressed the moral weaknesses of the West and the threat of extremist, colonialist, religious terrorism. Just writing it was a slap both to people who don't want people to talk about such things and to a western literary establishment that preaches "freedom of speech" and then caves at once when scary people threaten it.

P.S. Poles often complain about Poland, but 76% of Poles between 15 and 24, i.e. the ones who don't remember Communism, are solidly pro-life. Our Lady of Częstochowa, by your intercession save Poland from the worst horrors of the West's sexual revolution. Módl się za nami!


Sunnysaffer said...

I too narrowly avoided a terrorist bomb attack when the beach side cafe in Cape Town where I had whiled away a pleasant Sunday afternoon was bombed later that evening. In my case the culprits were PAGAD, or People Against Gangsterism and Drugs, also a Muslim organisation. To this day I cannot understand how they thought using violence in other, more affluent areas to protest against crime in their area was justified, or would ever be effective. I wish I was a writer too. I am sure the process was cathartic.

Seraphic said...

I googled, and Abdus Salaam Ibrahim most definitely does not look how I expected him to look. I am guessing that he is not practising a form of Islam native to, uh, Cape Town.

Seraphic said...

By the way, Sunny, people in the UK and Canada are still very interesting in English-language writing from and about South Africa. To be a writer, all you have to do is write and not stop until you are done.

As a woman living in Cape Town you must definitely have something to say about life as a woman in Cape Town!

Nulli Secundus said...

Your eavesdropper's theory is contradicted by experiment. Most of the technical books I have used in the last two years I have purchased after having read their authors' blogs and seen their books being flogged on their site. I would not have otherwise.

I recommend staying the course.

2 cents.

Seraphic said...

Thank you, Nulli, always my champion! :-D

Woodbine said...

Observant Muslims more at home in Canadian society than observant Catholics? Respectfully, I can't agree with that. Unless the mark of an observant Catholic is to be so uncomfortable with the country's ab*rtion laws that you constantly feel uneasy when in public, I don't see how Catholics have it worse than Muslims in Canada, or the west in general. There are so many practices that clearly mark observant Muslims as different from the majority (extreme modesty, abstaining from alcohol, avoiding any physical contact between the sexes) that must have a huge effect on their daily lives. This on top of the linguistic and other cultural differences that many face as new immigrants. I don't see how their beliefs on early term ab*rtions would make them feel more at ease in society than Catholics, who in most visible ways blend right in.
I don't mean to be rude, but I really do think it's wrong to suggest that Catholics are so disadvantaged in Canadian/western society.

Fifi said...

Self-promotion is only wrong when women do it. When men do it it's called "advancing one's career." Definitely a double standard.

Seraphic said...

@ Woodbine. The average Muslim woman in Canada--well, Toronto--is invisible if she doesn't wear a hijab. (Ironically, a woman is less noticeable if she just wears a modest outfit--jeans and a hoodie--and no headcovering.) And many, many Muslim women do not practise "no physical contact between the sexes". It all depends on what particular form of Islam she practices, and how she interprets religious teachings on modesty, etc. It is not a rule of all-forms-of-Islam that women have to cover their heads and never shake hands with men. I could go on at great length about this, but I would bet the grocery money that a woman is safer wearing a hijab at U of T than a pro-life T-shirt.

Seraphic said...

Here's the little lady who made me look up Islamic attitudes towards abortion:

"In response to a series of controversies over abortion debates on Canadian campuses, the student government of York University in Toronto has tabled an outright ban on student clubs that are opposed to abortion.

Gilary Massa, vice-president external of the York Federation of Students, said student clubs will be free to discuss abortion in student space, as long as they do it "within a pro-choice realm," and that all clubs will be investigated to ensure compliance. (From National Post)"

To my surprise, when I googled her, it turns out she wears a hijab.

The president of York University is now a Muslim from Egypt, which I think shows a high level of inclusivity on the part of ol' York.

Woodbine said...

Seraphic, I do understand what you mean. For the big city liberal set, it is easier to show acceptance of minorities (often token minorities) than to promote or even be seen accepting the teachings of Christianity. And yes, at u of t it is probably a lot easier to be Muslim than to be a pro-life activist. But I don't think a hijab and a pro-life t-shirt are comparable! In a lot of Muslim communities, at least some of these observances are socially mandatory. There is nothing that Catholics are obligated to do that makes us instantly stand out on a city street.

Seraphic said...

Actually, there are, but we don't do them. We should all be weeping outside of the clinics, but we aren't. This sucks.

It really is optional for Muslim women to wear Saudi clothes. Anyone who wants to cover her head can technically just wear a headscarf, like the Queen when it's windy and raining. Muslim women I know in Toronto look and dress exactly like modest Catholic South Asian girls. The only across-the-board rule for Muslims is to dress modestly. But as we know, there is an amount of coercion going on here. If priests told women we should have to cover our heads in church again, we would scream like banshees. It's not because we're immodest. It's because we would question what this means and why. Same for Muslim women covering their heads.

Tess said...

Yay, I'm so glad you're going to be on Relevant Radio! I know almost everyone who works there through my insanely well-connected mom. I will plan to tune in and listen Monday morning! :)

Heather in Toronto said...

I remember a case a couple of years ago about an Alberta woman whose murder conviction for killing her newborn was overturned and she was given a suspended sentence on the lesser charge of infanticide.

I don't know the specific details of the case well enough to know whether there were factors like post-partum psychiatric instability that may indeed have diminished her criminal culpability. But what struck me was the judge's comments: it was something along the lines of it being such a similar circumstance to a late abortion, and a few days difference and she could have done it legally.

And I thought "well yes, that's true, it IS exactly like, but the implication is that this makes it not so bad, when in fact it's the other way around."

I was born a few weeks premature, and it's kind of chilling to consider that I in my incubator in the NICU was safer, legally speaking, than someone of the same gestational age still in their mother. The only difference was circumstance, but I was a legally recognized person with rights and they weren't.

My parish is just down the road from one of Toronto's main "women's health facilities" so we tend to play host to 40 Days for Life at least once a year. There are also some wonderful ladies who stand out there and pray at any time of year.

My best friend likes to play her trump card when "pro-choice" people discuss the subject around her. The hypotheticals about difficult situations generally stop when she says "Well I am the product of an unplanned teen pregnancy, and I'm glad to be alive."

Anonymous said...

My mother & I just finished your book- she said to tell you she met a 'Suzy' on a bus in London, and is disappointed to find she is a 'type' and not an anomaly, so thank you for writing about it. Also clear that you wrote it after being in Europe (not a 'has never left North America' novel at all).

We very much enjoyed the book! Do you have a link yet to your novel blog?

Seraphic said...

Oh, that Suzy! I've come across Suzy on buses in Edinburgh, too.

Well, Ignatius Press is going to set me up with my own blog, so then we shall see!