Friday, August 17, 2007

The Devil never smokes

Paul Johnson, writing in the Spectator (11 August) said…..” Ronnie Knox, on coming into a strange room would sniff and say ‘ This room smells suspiciously of never having been smoked in.’ He thought a smokeless room might carry a curse. ‘the Devil lives in Hell but he never smokes.’ “ Writing in the same piece about his schooldays Paul Johnson says, " a priest told me ‘Tobacco is essential to a celibate priesthood."

Knox used to be a regular preacher here, now what would he make of the smoking regulations?


The Brighton Gardener said...

He might have said something along the lines of: In a society in which sin and vice is promoted so much, it is rather hypocritical to deny smokers the opportunity to indulge themselves in this pleasurable activity, especially when loads of people around them are getting blind drunk at the same time.

The Brighton Gardener said...

Talking of which, I saw Withnail and I yesterday. The characters were smoking in their local pub and I yearned for the olden days.

Ma Beck said...

I assume he didn't TRULY mean that smoking (a tool of oral gratification, among other things) isn't REALLY essential for the celibate life.
To my knowledge, none of the priests at my parish smoke.
To my knowledge, all of the priests at my parish are celibate.
The one who did smoke (interestingly, the one who didn't HAVE to be celibate, as he was a married Anglican priest before converting) long ago, is dying of cancer.
I'm an ex-smoker, by the way - the arch-enemy of the smoker. The smell of it on someone's clothes is enough to make me nauseous. But I don't care what you do in your own home, and I don't go to bars. And I certainly don't think holy places should have to post ridiculous signs all over them.
BUT I AM SOOOOO glad that Chicago is now smoke-free, restaurant-wise. It is nice to not come home from Sunday brunch reeking, smelling it in my baby's hair.

The Brighton Gardener said...

I can see the argument for "family" places to be smoke free. But since when did children spend all day in the pub breathing in smokers fumes? Before the ban came in here, I went to New York and shuddered at what was to come here. You have to admit that for those of us who are still addicted, to stand outside in the pouring rain because we smoke is a little uncharitable.

Matthew said...

Dear Mrs Beck:

Congratulations on quitting smoking. But would you please lighten up? This was surely meant to be humorous rather than dogmatic -- while making the valid point that sinless pleasures can help priests make the sacrifices necessary to their vocations.

As to smoking bans, they violate restaurant owners' private property rights. No one has the right to go to any particular restaurant or bar under conditions he dictates. If you don't like a smoky restaurant, you're free not to eat there. If enough people share your preferences, either the restaurant owner will change his policy (because of lost business) or a nonsmoking restaurant (or at least one with a nonsmoking section) will emerge to pick up the underserved customers. Meantime, why should anyone have the right to enforce his smoking or nonsmoking preferences on everyone else by law? This is nanny-statism.

Anonymous said...

i found him a bit 'boring' dare i say at least from Evelyn Waugh's biography!
i'm trying to stop 2 of my girls smoking!

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Well, as a lifelong bachelor,
I am celibate.
And I smoke. (I live alone, and there's no-one to tell me to stop it.)

But I really hadn't thought of smoking as essential for the celibate.

I think the Jesuit in Paul Johnson's story referred specifically to the celibate priesthood.

I was most interested to read Paul Johnson's opinion that "When men are smoking pipes peacefully, they are not likely to engage in violence or fornication".

Which seems to suggest that I'd better not give up smoking.
Not until I'm old and feeble, anyway.

I must say thanks to Ma Beck for :
"I don't care what you do in your own home."

In that case, I'll go and have a smoke.

Henry said...

There is a bravado about smoking which has become absurd and infantile now that it is established that it is a serious health risk. I have lost several friends and relatives to smoking related illness. Sorry, it is not clever. The only people who gain from smoking are the tobacco companies, as nicotine is an addiction which, once acquired, has to be satisfied in order to restore the sufferers to the same state they would normally have been in if they had never started.

I have been away while the new regulations have come in. Like many people, I have an adverse reaction to smoke, in particular, British cigarettes which are packed with chemicals which make the smoke acrid. I look forward to being able to go and have a drink in a pub without having a rasping throat and stinking clothes next morning.

For those who are happy to remain addicted, there is always Snus. If you want a tin let me know and I will bring one back for you.

Incidentally, I find it surprising that it is not a sin to knowingly cause harm to one's body.

Anonymous said...

There is something unsuitable about having to confess to a priest whose tobacco poisoned breath assails one through the grate, making one feel unwell. And there is something unsuitable about receiving Holy Communion on the tongue from a priest whose tobacco stained fingers make one want to draw back in disgust.

As for the chastity of the smoking clergy: smoking opens the door to other addictions. Enough said.

The Brighton Gardener said...

Having been in the confessional quite alot over the past year or two at St Mary Magdalen's, I am happy to tell you that the only scent in the air is that of God's mercy.

Ma Beck said...

Um, I'm the most lightened up person I know. I never implied that it was dogma; in fact, I seemed to have mentioned that he was speaking figuratively.

Why should I have to choose NOT TO EAT somewhere to avoid breathing stank smoke?
Smokers are infringing on MY RIGHT to breathe.
Tell you what - THEY can all go somewhere else and pollute the air.
It's a restaurant, NOT a hookah lounge.

nickbris said...

The nutters and malcontents have gained another victory.Everything we do in life is injurious to health in some way or other,if having a drink and a smoke in convivial company cannot be allowed why should these nutters be allowed to bludgeon our brains?

Philip Andrews said...

On this morning's BBC news, it appears now that cigarette smoke concealed the true stench of humanity (well, in pubs and clubs, anyway).

I think the Botafumeiro in Santiago Cathedral had a similar use, to mask the stench of virtue pervading from the unwashed pilgrims.

Moira said...

Speaking in the House of Lords some years ago an impassioned speaker said "Smokers will die!". Lord Bruce Gardyne remarked " I could not forbear to ask what will happen to the rest of us?"

Anonymous said...

Delighted to discover that Ronnie Knox preached at st Mary Magdalene. On my last visit to see my father, he told me that Mgr Knox had been a great friend of his - how I wish I had known earlier. They had at one time planned to write an opera together, Mgr Knox writing the words and my father the music but the hierarchy refused permission! My father, though not a Roman Catholic, spoke of him with great admiration.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fascinating, who was your father?

Fr Pancras Cluny said...

Is it true you're fond of the occasional cigarette, Father?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jusy occassionally, Father.