Wednesday, 27 October 2021
Pro Vita Sua
Professor Michael Bentley is only doing his job, and no doubt he already purveys Newmanscepticism to specialist academics. But if that were enough for him, then he would not have written this article. Still, it is going to have to be enough for him.
There may also be a subgenre of Protestant fundamentalist material that attacked Saint John Henry Newman, but beyond that and Professor Bentley's existing readers, then books about him are bought almost exclusively by people who already prayed to him.
There is no other remotely modern British figure of any importance of whom that can be said, that pretty much the only people who even wanted to read about him already literally had a religious devotion to him, but that is way that it is with Newman.
And there are enough of us to keep the thriving Newman industry in rude health until the End of Days, even though, or perhaps because, it really only publishes the same book over and over again. We like that book. No one ever lost money on it, and no one ever will.
Since there would be no conceivable commercial market for anything more revisionist, then no one would ever publish it. Hence Professor Bentley's keenness on Manning. But while there is no shame in being Marlowe, or Salieri, or McCartney, it is not being Shakespeare, or Mozart, or Lennon.
Historians like Manning, because they could write critical books on him and anyone would buy them, meaning that anyone would publish them. But those buyers would be, and are, us Newmaniacs. We are happy to read about Manning in such terms, because he was an enemy of Newman's.
While Manning's role in the London Dock Strike merits attention, he is otherwise notable only in relation to Newman. All of Newman's once-mighty opponents are like that. Most are forgotten, and if it were not for having been the villain who prompted the composition of Apologia Pro Vita Sua, then even a figure as towering as Kingsley once was would now be remembered for nothing more than The Water-Babies.
At 73, Professor Bentley is a bit long in the tooth to want to make the move from distinguished academic to influencer of upper-middlebrow opinion. If that is indeed his intention, then he needs to stay away from Newman, because, quite simply, no one is ever going to want to know.
The scandalous allegation against me on 2nd March 2020 was recanted under oath at Durham Crown Court on 11th of that month, calling gravely into question my convictions the next day by exposing that key character witness as unreliable, a fact that was not mentioned in closing statements or in summation.
Unless, as is widely assumed, the real reason for them is the content of this book, then the sanctions imposed upon me in my absence on 2nd March 2020 are void. I had not received a written apology by 30th September 2021, nor was any such thing to be published in full in The Northern Cross.
Financially, I would then have settled for the reimbursement of my victim surcharges. One would not wish to have to sue the Church. But while I am not yet in a position to act on it, I must now declare my intention in principle to do so.
And if I were to be defeated at the next General Election, then I would seek to have that result overturned in the courts on grounds of undue spiritual influence by the Safeguarding Office of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, naming all relevant persons in the court papers. It has come to this.