HENRIETTA DUBB INTRODUCES HER DIARY

Henrietta Dubb’s Diary began with a quote from a review of R H Tawney, a collection of essays entitled, Christianity and the Social Revolution (London. Victor Gollancz & Co 1935). It can be found in The Attack and Other Essays, Spokesman, Nottingham 1981 (Original edition, 1953 George Allen and Unwin Ltd).

“I have excerpted quotes from pages 163-166:

The watershed between creeds which this striking book suggests is not the conventional one. Whatever Christians and Communists may say and do, Christianity and popular communism – though not its official variety – are alike in holding the now unfashionable view that principles really matter. Both have their absolutes. As far as principles are concerned, the division of the future will lie, perhaps, less between different forms of political and economic organisation than between different estimates of the value to be put on the muddled soul of Henry Dubb.

“There follows a footnote to my grandfather:

H.D.: the civilian equivalent of the P.B.I, or poor bloody infantry, ie the common, courageous, good-hearted, patient, proletarian fool, whose epic is contained in the well known lines, “We go to work to earn the cash to buy the bread to get the strength to go to work to earn the cash,” etc, and who is worth, except to his modest self, nine-tenths of the gentilities, notabilities, intellectual, cultural and ethical eminences put together. I seem to remember an occasion on which a telegram addressed to Henry Dubb, Labor Party Conference, was duly delivered at the correct sea-side resort. The statement that, on the chairman inviting the addressee to claim it, four-fifths of the comrades sprang to their feet, is, however an exaggeration.

“Tawney continues:

What the rules of Germany and Italy think of him we know; and I suspect that those of Japan think much the same. The Christian Church professes to regard him as a little lower than the angels, a child of God, and the heir of eternal life. But it has shown hitherto no unquenchable zeal to ensure that, in this vale of tears, he shall be treated as what, on its own doctrine, he is. … In the interminable case of Dubb v Superior Persons and Co whether Christians, Capitalists or Communists, I am an unrepentant Dubbite. So I am in the unfortunate position of being unable to applaud my friends for their vices, which – since their shining virtues will look after themselves – is what friends usually declare. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek. Pondering that and other indiscretions of a neglected classic, I find it impossible to believe, with some Christians, that the love of God, whom one has not seen, is compatible with advantages snatched from the brother one sees every day, or that what they describe as spiritual equality, a condition which they neither created nor – happily – can alter, has as its appropriate corollary economic, social and educational inequalities which, given the will, they can abolish out of hand … A Christianity which resigns the economic world to the devil appears to me, in short, not Christianity at all; Capitalism a juggernaut sacrificing human ends to the idolatry of material means; and a Socialism which puts Dubb on a chain and prevents him from teaching manners to his exalted governors, a Socialism – if such it can be called – which has more than half its battles still before it.

“I don’t pretend to understand all Tawney writes about my grand-father. In many ways Henry is still a mystery to me. I remember being told that just before he died – a matter of days after I was born – he said that he had always been in God’s care, and that as much as he longed for Heaven, he also wanted to see Our Heavenly Father’s new earth where righteousness and justice and truth and happiness flower in their fullest. Granpa, had a Christian funeral – his hopes have lain dormant in my consciousness all these years until I recently read Tawney’s comments noting the

… good sense, pertinacity, nerve and resolution of the loveable, pig-headed, exasperating Dubb.

“Tawney concluded his review in these terms. As I have said, I don’t follow all that Tawney writes about him. But I do warm to one thing he says. I put it here to complete the record:

Since I am not a fatalist, and regard confident predictions from past history as mostly sciolism, I have not yet despaired of Henry. I consider it not impossible that he may one day wake up; make an angry noise like a man, instead of bleating like a sheep; and in England, at any rate, in spite of scales weighted against him, use such rights as he possesses, which he is more sensible than some of his intellectual pastors in thinking worth having, to win economic freedom.

“Can I contribute to the economic freedom which Tawney said was within the grasp of Henry, if only he would wake up? I don’t know. Inspired by Henry Dubb’s example, I, his Australian grand-daughter, am going to try. That means accepting my vocation as a Christian citizen of this place. How else? I’m writing this diary to wake myself up and anyone else who is interested enough to read my scribbling may be encouraged to wonder why things have gone wrong and how we can begin to find a new way to exercise the stewardship God entrusts to all who live in this place.”

HD March 2003

Here is the link to Henrietta’s Post, “The frisbee, the sausage and the barbecue” her initial Nurturing Justice contribution to the NDIS rollout.

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