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Strômateis for beginners

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William Crawley | 17:23 UK time, Monday, 26 June 2006

quilt.bmpOnly AKMA would even consider using strômateis in the title of a blog entry. For those unfamiliar with ancient Greek, strômateis

. . . transliterates a Greek word that serves as the equivalent for the Latin miscellanea. It’s the neuter plural form of the noun strômateus, “bedspread,” which in the plural form has the sense of “patchwork” (hence, an assortment of various matters, a thing of shreds and patches).

That's AKMA's explanation. AKMA, by the way, is Professor AKM Adam, a former teacher of mine. He taught me Greek, or tried to. I've borrowed the Greek word for "patchwork" from him for two reasons: (1) in the hope that he will add Will and Testament to his blogroll, and (2) because this entry is a bit of a patchwork quilt enabling me to reply to a handful of comments I've neglected to date:

John Wright isn't impressed by my question to the new chief executive of the Church Army. I'd asked Mark Russell if he was comfortable with the militaristic overtones in his organisation's name. John wonders if 'it has it become trendy to avoid any positive reference to the military'. I can understand why the term "army" once made sense for a Christian organisation founded in Victorian England; but it's fair to wonder if even Wilson Carlile would be in favour of a rebranding 125 years later. Silas has suggested a new name. He writes, "Hmmmm. Church Army? Presumably it's not armed. So, unarmed, yet uniformed, and rushing to save the world. Got it. How about Church Ambulance Service." Thanks Silas. By the way: you've no connection to Opus Dei, have you?

Thanks to Sean Flanaghan for your very moving recollections of the late Monsignor Denis Faul.

David Green wonders if Rowan Williams is capable of a decision. That's beyond my psychological expertise, but David's not the only one to ask that question.

Alan clearly expects my colleague Bert Tosh to be featured on a stamp sometime soon. I'm for that, but only if his pipe is included in the picture (or, at the very least, a pint of guinness).

Finally, a couple of people aren't happy that I included a link to a Wikipedia article in a previous entry. Ceejay says you shouldn't trust Wikipedia, since "it's a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." I think that's actually the point of Wikipedia, ceejay. In any case, last December, the journal Nature ran an article which reported on a study comparing science entries in Wikepedia with Britannica, and the difference, in terms of factual accuracy, wasn't great.

That said, I wouldn't believe everything you read in the burgeoning Wikipedia entry on Bert Tosh.


  • 1.
  • At 01:49 AM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Come on William


The protest is not about Wikipedia as you well know...
The protest is that Homophobia is being giving sinister definitions beyond normal "phobias", with some trying to push for recognition of it as a mental illness ie to close down legitimate discussion on the subject.
Had you used the normal dictionary definition of phobia that would have been reasonable; your selection of Wikipedia, a far more expansive definition, lends itself to your argument and was presumably why you chose it.
Perhaps Wikipedia contributors are more reliable on "Nature" science entries than etymology?
Anyway, I would like to see Sunday Sequence devote a morning to this section of the Wikipedia "Sexual Orientation" entry. I quote;

"Hani Miletski, a sexologist and author, argued in a "monumental"[3] and "pioneering"[4] reference work and analysis combined with fresh research, that zoosexuality should properly be understood as a sexual orientation,... Miletski concludes that all three criteria for a sexual orientation proposed by Francoeur (1991)–affectional orientation, sexual fantasy orientation, and erotic orientation–as well as reciprocity of emotion, are met by zoosexuals.[5]... Beetz... also citing Masters (1962) observations that other than in violent scenarios, animals have often appeared to thrive in relationships with humans.
Some individuals, such as Dr. Fred Berlin, have postulated that pedophilia can also qualify as a sexual orientation.[7][8]"

  • 2.
  • At 08:57 AM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • ceejay wrote:


I DID NOT write "you shouldn't believe anything on Wikipedia".

My comment was that you cannot trust a Wiki.

(A Wiki is essentially a website that users can modify as opposed one which presents pre-defined content.)

I think if you're going to blog, please quote others accurately...



ceejay I've corrected my lazy paraphrase of your original comment: you suggested that we should not trust Wikipedia, rather than not "believe anything" on Wikipedia. I'm happy to make that nuanced correction. Thanks for your comment.

  • 4.
  • At 12:09 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • David Green, Oxford wrote:

This is a comment in response to pb (comment 1):

You are displeased with the Wikipedia's entry on 'sexual orientation' because that article names researchers who argue that zoosexuality and paedophilia should be regarded as sexual orientations. The key researchers you mention are Hani Miletski and Fred Berlin. Some comments:

(1) Hani Miletski and Fred Berlin are distinguished and respected researchers in their field. Berlin is a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic, which treats people with sexual disorders. Miletski is a sex therapist in private practice in Bethesda, Maryland, with a doctorate from the University of San Francisco's Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. They are not crackpots; both have published a variety of important studies on the variegated nature of human sexuality. It is entirely appropriate that a survey article on Wikipedia, or elsewhere, should include reference to their work.

(2) You seem to think that regarding paedophilia and zoophilia as a sexual orientations is tantamount to validating those orientations as acceptable or natural. This is not the case. They are sexual disorders which should be treated, and no right-thinking person would argue otherwise. But they also, in the judgment of many specialists, meet widely accepted definitions of “sexual orientation”. Let's put it this way: human sexual orientations is a wide spectrum, and not all sexual orientations are healthy; some are disordered; some are even a danger to others (e.g., paedophilia), but they are all examples of sexual orientation. None of the researchers you mention are justifying or condoning the abuse of children – in fact, these researchers and clinicians are working at the coalface of our efforts to reduce child-abuse by treating those with child-focused sexual disorders. They would agree that, when a paedophile (i.e., someone with a child-focused sexual orientation) makes sexual contact with a child, that person should be arrested, prosecuted, criminalised, imprisoned and treated.

(3) A simple, final point. Can we please be grown-up when discussing grown-up themes and issues? Attempting to censor scholarship is hardly the way forward for our society's discussion about these matters.

  • 5.
  • At 12:18 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • Deirdre, Dublin wrote:

Will I enjoyed the Stromateis posting - very funny. Ceejay doesn't seem to have a sense of humour. It was a humourous posting Ceejay, loosen up!

I'm surprised at you, Will, for pandering to Ceejay's pomposity and pointless pedantry, though. I mean, really! Ceejay is wingeing (no offence Ceejay, but your comment reads like a winge) that Will misrepresents his view because Will used the word BELIEVE rather than the word TRUST! Ceejay says we shouldn't TRUST wikipedia - but he DIDN'T say we shoudlnt BELIEVE wikipedia. Hmmm! Whatever. Talk about taking yourself too seriously?

And another thing. You can tell that im a little but irritated by Ceejay at the moment. That's cos the aggressive way he makes points brings out irriation and aggression in others. Ceejay, any chance you can calm yourself a bit?

  • 6.
  • At 02:49 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • Alan wrote:

PS: Although the PS(USA) posting has says that there's 1 comment, no comment shows up on the post's page. Your blogging software's unwell!


  • 7.
  • At 04:04 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Mr David Green of Oxford...

The last time we debated (defining homophobia), you very sarcastically dismissed my assertion that these refs were on Wikipedia at all and then ran away without owning up.

So IF we are going to be adult here, you have a little closure to do!
However, my main point still stands unchallenged; Wikipedia does not qualify any of these "orientations" as you do.

Also, if you doubt this is a live issue, I can point to the website of one high profile gay rights leader (household name in UK) who is calling for a boy of 14 to legally have sex with men. And he has no problem with him having begun doing so at 12.

Finally Deirdre, there is a significant difference between dismissing everything on Wikipedia as rubbish and saying that it all must be treated with caution.

I find it quite dissapointing in these type of blogs when someone is making a serious point of substance, the politically correct brigade can then only resort to mild sarcastic humour as a response... and then run away (eg Mr Green).
Not very intellectual, honest or helpful to any parties in an serious discussion.
Ceejay's real point is that the term homophobia is being exaggerated to quash debate and NOBODY has responded to him on this!

Any takers or just mild (cowardly) abuse?


PS A joke for Deirdre - did anyone here lose a roll of fivers with an elastic band round them? Because I have just found the elastic band!


Gotta love the blogosphere.

  • 9.
  • At 07:39 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Dear Moderator - there appears to be a problem. The front page of this section says there are 8 comments but only 6 are showing.

I had problems with my computer so I hope that I do not stand accused of multiple blogging and if so, I'm sorry.

Your article on "Stromateis For Beginners" was interesting.

  • 11.
  • At 08:09 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • ceejay wrote:


Thanks for the rewording. The reason I said in my original posting to pb that Wikipedia is like a curate's egg is that I believe it is not ALL good but not ALL bad. This is why I was unhappy with you suggesting that I implied "you shouldn't believe ANYTHING on Wikipedia" (my emphasis). I use it as a resource in my own work but double check unfamiliar information .

Here's a few examples of others' concerns over Wikipedia.

The main criticisms of Wikipedia are that it is hugely unreliable; that the site is riddled with woeful inaccuracies and, more worryingly, misinformation. And it has to be said, there's a fair bit of evidence to back up that claim.

Can you trust Wikipedia?

Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems

Britannica lashes out at Wikipedia comparison study

Growing pains for Wikipedia



  • 12.
  • At 08:18 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • ceejay wrote:


Try this..

a) I don't TRUST the government.

b) I don't believe ANYTHING the government says.

Does a really equal b?



  • 13.
  • At 10:07 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • pb wrote:


ref others' concerns on Wikipedia...



  • 14.
  • At 10:17 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • Keiron, Antrim wrote:

PB, here's a thought for you. It could be that people don't want to engage with you because you have demonstrated in your previous coments that you are incapable of rational argument. Just look at how you have dismissed David Green's extremely thoughtful and reasoned comments. And for the record, you are incorrect: Green didn't deny that those refs were on Wikipedia, he denied that they were on the homophobia entry on wikipedia. Your refs relate to the sexual orientation entry.

Then there's your comments about the age of consent. I personally think the age of consent in the UK should be 16 for heterosexual and homosexual persons, but you are outraged that someone should suggest that the age of consent should be 14. Again, for the record, the age of consent is 14 in a number of European countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, and Italy. Spain's age of consent is 13. Northern Ireland and the Republic have the have the oldest ge of consent in the EU at 17.

  • 15.
  • At 10:44 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • pb wrote:


First of all I can assure you I have never been "outraged" on this blog, I'm quite relaxed here I assure you.

I'm not getting into debates about debates, David clearly misread my original comments on sexual orientation on Wikipedia and blamed me for his mistake, its all there.

And no I am not outraged that the age of consent could be 14, I am pointing out that legalisation of pedophilia is a genuine issue when a leading gay rights campaigner sees no problem with men having sex with 12 year old boys.
For the record, the boy said he actually began having sex with other boys when he was eight and our campaigner expressed no concern in his interview.
My only point is only to illustrate the fact that a large part of this entire debate is to remove ALL sexual constraints.
I will leave outrage and comment and implications in this instance to others.

  • 16.
  • At 11:08 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • ceejay wrote:


It is very easy to shout others down by making ad hominem remarks. It does not, however, lead to constructive discussion.

Would it be possible that we attack arguments rather than people?



(P.S. I'm off to ebay to try and bid on some humour I'm lacking)

  • 17.
  • At 11:12 PM on 27 Jun 2006,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Tiresome as it may be, for the record Keiron here is what was said on "Defining Homophobia";

I said to William: "There is quite a bit on homosexuality on this website [Wikipedia] on various links and I wonder how comfortable you are with all of it. Some "scholar" on there is seriously promoting the suggestion that pedophilia and bestiality are legitimate sexualities."

Mr Green said: "Those terms are not even mentioned in the homophobia entry you're angry about."

Then Keiron said my comments were "just ludicrous" and told me to "read a book". Nice.

(NB: I made it clear to David and Keiron I was referring to "various links" on Wikipedia on homosexuality. My statement about Wikipedia's portrayal of these as legitimate sexualities is 100per cent accurate Keiron;- there is no qualification regarding them on Wikipedia.)

Your comments in that section were, again, focussed on sarcasm and were consequently inaccurate, as demonstrated.

We're not really succeeding in having a conversation here are we? Is it because people have faced abuse on these issues before perhaps, if so, sorry.


  • 18.
  • At 12:16 AM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • Ambrose - St Andrews wrote:

I've been following this ridiculous debate within a debate about a link in an entry of Wikipedia for days now. PB, can you drop it? You've made your point, and those who take you point will have already signalled as much in comments. I have no interest in getting into a conversation with you about these comments - I come here to read the blog rather than your latest expression of disgust or self-defensiveness. But I've tried to evaluate the logic of your arguments, without much success, though that may be a failing in my education (the Oxford doctorate isn't what it was, I'm sure). So please, please, move on? I promise you I will make another comment in response to something you say on a different subject. Honest!

  • 19.
  • At 12:48 AM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • pb wrote:

PS Ambrose, a phd from Oxford I'm afraid gives you no authority whatsoever to classify my views as "expressions of disgust". They are at least just opinions, as are yours.

Is this blog only for people who agree with you?

Yet more personal abuse without any rational discussion...play the ball not the man...


  • 20.
  • At 12:59 AM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • ceejay wrote:


Sorry you feel this thread is ridiculous.

Perhaps I started it by asking William for HIS definition for homophobia - which he so far hasn't given.

As people have been interviewed by the police on the basis of alleged homophobic incidents (see my earlier posts), do you not think it wise for us to know what it means?

My previous post above with several links illustrates that Wikipedia has some limitations and should be used with caution. PB has expressed additinal concerns.

Unlike yours, my PhD was only from QUB but it did involve logic and I have been able to follow PBs arguments.



  • 21.
  • At 01:56 AM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Thanks Ceejay

Look guys, why don't we start again - this discussion has really been about the definition of homophobia and the implications of that for society, I think that is fair enough for us all, right?

Why don't we put forward our views on that and try not to make snide personal remarks about one another.

You might not believe it but I only come here to hear other people's points of view!

So Ambrose, maybe you could kick us off? I am honestly interested in what you have to say about this.


  • 22.
  • At 09:22 AM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • ceejay wrote:
  • 23.
  • At 09:48 AM on 28 Jun 2006,
  • pb wrote:

by the way Keiron
I agree that David put much thought and effort into his comments on bestiality and pedophilia studies and, on the face of it, I accept all he said.
But my main point from the beginning was to question the reliability of wikipedia, using these points, because it appears to validate these conditions as legitimate sexual orientations with no qualifications.
David says quotation is not validation but I contest that unqualified quotation is.


FYI so far I have been (wrongly) described on this blog as; Angry, outraged, ludicrous, disgusted, defensive and incapable of rational argument.
However I have no doubts contibutors are capable of much more intelligent discussion than that should they focus on the ball and not the man.

  • 24.
  • At 01:49 PM on 01 Jul 2006,
  • heather j ... wrote:

Had Bert Tosh got his stamp yet??

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