Eclipse News from England

You know about today’s eclipse, about which we wrote The End of the World Is Upon Us — Again. Well, the world didn’t end — at least we haven’t noticed if it did — but we have some follow-up news from London’s Daily Telegraph.

Their headline is Schoolchildren banned from watching eclipse on ‘relgious and cultural’ grounds. The newspaper has a comments feature, but you have to scroll way down to see it. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us:

Pupils at North Primary School in Southall were stopped from watching the solar eclipse directly and had to observe it on screens instead. Sometimes known as Little India, Southall is a diverse community in west London with a large Hindi population.

They weren’t allowed to watch the eclipse? Why? We’re told:

Although headteacher Ivor Johnstone would not comment on what the ‘religious and cultural’ reasons were, some Hindu scriptures say that an eclipse makes believers impure.

Ah, that explains it. It makes sense, too. One must avoid impurity. Let’s read on:

And fundamentalists believe that they need to bathe immediately after an eclipse and chant the name of God to overcome the forces of darkness.

That also makes sense. We continue:

However parents said children were disappointed by the decision, arguing that religious superstition had been allowed to overshadow science.

Unbelievers! Here’s more:

Phil Belman, whose seven year old daughter goes to the school, told The Evening Standard: “I am extremely upset about it. “My child went in having spent an hour preparing and making up her pinhole camera. This is an issue about scientific matters versus religious superstition. I am outraged – is it going to be Darwin next? We will be like mid America.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We hope it doesn’t get that bad. Moving along:

Mr Johnstone [the headteacher] said: “The school made this decision when we became aware of religious and cultural concerns associated with observing an eclipse directly. Although we are sorry for any disappointment, pupils were still able to watch the eclipse on screens in classrooms. However, the overcast conditions in West London today meant they would not have been able to see it live in any case.

That’s his excuse — the kids couldn’t have seen the eclipse anyway. Well, let’s look on the bright side — if an eclipse has such. With the clouds and the prohibition on viewing, the children were adequately protected from evil spirits. And that’s what’s important.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Eclipse News from England

  1. It’s probably best that the children were prevented from viewing the eclipse directly, since doing so without suitably protective optical filters can lead to damaged retinas — especially partial eclipses such as was the eclipse as it would have been seen in England.

  2. Waldteufel is right about looking directly at a solar eclipse. But apparently Mr. Belman’s daughter had made a pinhole camera, which you can safely use to project an image of the eclipse onto something like white cardboard. I’ve done that and it’s a perfectly safe way to view a solar eclipse. And people who think mythology eclipses science, of course, could stay indoors while the rest of the class had an educational experience!

  3. Jason Caulfield

    Slightly off topic, but having seen the eclipse this morning (the SW of England was surprisingly cloud free), just been watching Stargazing Live on the BBC for pictures of said eclipse. One topic was how to calculate the age of the universe, the brilliant Prof Brian Cox said all you need to know is the brightness of a star and its red-shift, and then proceeded to say “and it won’t be 6000 years”. I think he might be following your blog, oh worshipful SC.

  4. Wow. I just finished a week of planetary geology talks at a Houston conference. That contrasts sharply with the willful ignorance, stupidity, and wickedness of “cultural and religious” concerns. Here we are – Homo sapiens – exploring the awesome wonderfulness of the Universe around us, while at the same time the dumber half of our species oppresses children (& grown-ups) with Bronze Age woo-woo. Wow.

  5. London parent fumes, “I am outraged – is it going to be Darwin next? We will be like mid-America.”

    Gee, thanks, Ken Ham, for making my homeland the laughing stock of the English-speaking world.

    (In order to contribute to the delinquency and impurification of believers everywhere, I’m reverting to a previous avatar — a photo I took of the most recent partial eclipse visible from mid-America. Knowing that Ken Ham reads this blog, perhaps it will have the desired effect. Sheild your eyes, Kenny-Boy!)

  6. Mike Elzinga

    My father told me stories about his grandparents. As a young boy, he lived with them for a while after his mother died of tuberculosis.

    His grandparents had come from a farming community in the Netherlands and were extremely superstitious. During thunderstorms, they went through the house and turned every mirror toward the wall and put hand mirrors in drawers so that they wouldn’t attract lighting strikes.

    During the 1910 return of Halley’s Comet, they kept my father indoors for the entire time because they were afraid of curses by comets. My father wanted very much to see the comet, but didn’t get the chance at that time. He waited almost his entire life hoping to see the return in 1986, but the comet was too far south to be seen in the Northern Hemisphere. My father died in 1988.

  7. Dave Luckett

    We are part of the English-speaking world, and we’re laughing at Ken Ham, too, but the guffaws are guilty, because he comes from here. Well, from Ipswich, Queensland, a town that makes Dogpatch look like Periclean Athens, only with coalmines. And Ray Comfort comes from New Zealand. South Islander, naturally, but still…

    It’s true that creationism has about the same status here as hollow-earth theory, and somewhat less than Trotskyism – but still, we are guilty, and should be ashamed. The only excuse we have is that we discouraged them enough that they left.

    As for Head Teacher Ivor Johnstone, he’s teaching his pupils that demons are real and that ritual defilement is possible. Is that really what he wants to teach?