Tuesday 4 December 2012

Reasons to Be Cheerful IV

Yes, things were much better in the good old days. Weren't they?

1000 Paganism banned in Iceland. Ban lifted 1874, Asatru religion given legal recognition 1973

Trains are now much cleaner than they used to be and staff generally more patient and helpful. Ticket people always say please and thank you, bless them, and you can eat the food. (Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island, 1995)

We bought a flat in Primrose Hill because Camden was the only council who would lend money to unmarried couples. (Iain Sinclair)

Alcohol consumption has fallen by more than 15% since the licensing laws were relaxed in 2004. (Christopher Snowdon/‏@cjsnowdon)

It’s inconceivable now, but in 1962 I had to get my husband’s permission before I could open a bank account. (Philanthropist Stephanie Shirley)

1660 Cock throwing on Shrove Tuesday banned by the Puritans. Popularity waned, and it died out circa the 1840s. Goose pulling with live geese banned in the Netherlands 1920s (they use a dead one). Was popular in the States, but died out c. the 1870s.

1854 Oxford University Reform Act enables Jews to take degrees

1856 Cambridge University Reform Act abolished the religious test for graduation (subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England).

1869 and 1870 Acts were passed allowing atheists to give evidence in court without swearing Christian oaths

1882 Married Women's Property Act gave married women rights over their own property. Previously, although in the marriage service the man said “With all my worldly goods I thee endow”, all her property became his (unless it had been cleverly tied up beforehand).

1891 First black Catholic priest ordained in US.

1916 The presumed inferiority of women entered Church Law especially through the Decretum Gratiani (1140 AD), which became official Church law in 1234 AD, a vital part of the Corpus Iuris Canonici that was in force until 1916. (womenpriests.org) It stated that a wife is subject to her husband “by nature”, and that women are not created in the image of God.

1935 First woman visits Antarctica

1956 and 1968 Clean Air Acts

1959 Shortly after his election Pope John XXIII interrupted a Good Friday liturgy when one of the celebrants included the word “perfidis” in the prayer for the Jews. John had the prayer repeated with the word omitted. On 19 May 1959, Pope John XXIII ordered that the word "faithless" (Latin: perfidis) be removed from the prayer for the conversion of the Jews.

‏1962 Distinction between pros and amateurs abolished in England cricket

1962-65 Vatican II allows Catholics to go to non-Catholic weddings, funerals and services.

1966 Catholic Index of Prohibited Books abolished (Anne Rice said that as a Catholic she wasn’t allowed to read Camus and Sartre and longed to.)

1967 Catholic priests in Britain, previously forbidden to attend the theatre, heard this week that the ban is to be lifted. The decision was taken by the Bishops at their meeting last month in Liverpool As a result British priests will have no stricter rules than their colleagues in other countries, namely to abide by Canon Law 140, which forbids them attending any performance unbecoming of their station and liable to cause scandal. What this means is left to the priest's own discretion and presupposes mature judgment on his part. Previously, the clergy faced suspension from their clerical activities if they went to the theatre. As far back as 1803 Bishop John Milner, Apostolic Vicar for the Midland District. complained of this ruling because he said it was ambiguous. When the first Westminster Synod convened in 1852 it tried to soften the ruling a little by using the phrase "stage spectacles" to cover forbidden forms of entertainment. The law is thought to have been rarely. if ever, invoked, but it did exist on the books as a deterrent. Some priests have avoided getting into trouble by attending dress rehearsals instead of the actual performance. Pointing out how the law belonged to another age. when the theatre was always considered naughty at best and no fit place for a priest. Cardinal Heenan in an "ad clerum" to hi: priests says that it was made "before the advent of radio, television or even the cinema." (Catholic Herald)

Late 60s: Restaurants admit women wearing trousers

1971 Swiss women get the vote

1978 Mormon Church ends ban on black lay priests

1979 Homosexuality declassfied as an illness in Sweden.

1981 The IOC gets its first female member

1995 Duelling outlawed in Uruguay

At the beginning of 2007 UCAS (the universities central admission service) offered 45 different BSc degrees in quackery, at 16 universities. Now (2012) there are only 24 such degrees. Degrees in homeopathy, naturopathy and "nutritional therapy", reflexology and aromatherapy have vanished altogether from UCAS. (Edzard Ernst)

2008 311 years after the last man in Britain was hanged for blasphemy, the common-law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel are abolished in England and Wales

2012: The Augusta National golf club admits its first women members: Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore (first black member 1990). 

2012 First man graduates as a nanny

2003 In the UK, bestiality ceases to be punishable by life imprisonment

1998 Judicial corporal punishment abolished in Jamaica. But corporal punishment is still legal in schools, the home and the penal system.

Reasons to be less than cheerful:

1401 Henry IV passes a law condemning heretics to be burnt alive (repealed 1553, reintroduced by Henry VIII)

1576 The age of sexual consent for women was set in England. It was set at ten. (@TourGuideGirl)

1627 Death of the last aurochs in Poland's Jactorowka Forest

1723 An Act of Parliament makes it punishable by death to be “found in a forest while disguised”, among around 50 other offences. It was repealed in 1823.

1836 The Jewish community of Rome sent a petition to  Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community. He responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.” Rome's Ghetto was demolished in the 1880s. (simpletoremember.com)

1834, 1836, 1841, 1848, 1849, 1851, 1853, 1856, and 1857 Various measures to remove Jewish disabilities, as well as measures to alter the oath required of persons elected to Parliament, met the same end: passage in the Commons, defeat in the  Lords. (The Jews of Britain, 1656 to 2000, Todd M. Endelman)

1896 No women competed in the 1896 Olympics, as it was felt that their inclusion would be "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect." (@MrGeorgeClarke)

Homosexual sex is illegal in China.

Same-sex marriage, adultery and cohabitation are illegal in the state of Virginia.

In the UK one third of state-funded schools are faith based. (Wikipedia)

Six US states ban atheists from holding public office: Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas (It gets worse. )

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrew’s (established 1754) remains men-only.

Men who have never married are 10 percentage points more likely to fall from the middle class than married men. Women who have never married are 17.6 percentage points more likely to fall than married women. According to estimates from the Census Bureau, 18 percent of men ages 40 to 44 with less than four years of college have never married, up from 6 percent 25 years ago. Declines in marriage rates are taking place across all education levels, pointing to a increasing problem for people staying within the middle class. (Pew research)

More Reasons to be Cheerful here.

Yet More Reasons to Be Cheerful.
More Reasons to Be Cheerful... ish.
More Reasons to Be Cheerful here, here and here.

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