Let Us Now Praise Famous Men!

Taylor Swift has released a new music video  Taylor Swift Targets Famous Men

I couldn’t help being reminded of the hymns our school used to sing on Anzac Day, like the stirring composition by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.
The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning.
Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies:
Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent in their instructions:
Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing:
Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations;
All these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their times.
There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported.
And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born, and their children after them.
But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.
With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance,
and their children are within the covenant.
Their seed standeth fast, and their children for their sakes.
Their seed shall remain for ever, and their glory shall not be blotted out.
Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.
The people will tell of their wisdom, and the congregation will show forth their praise.

Don’t worry, I haven’t become a misogynist sympathizer!

Another place the Biblical reference “Let us now praise famous men” was used was in the title of the American classic of the same name by James Agee and Walker Evans. The title was meant ironically; the book was about sharecroppers in the American South in the Depression era. The men (and women) in the stories were “become as though they had never been born”. Their lives were miserable.

Why are Famous Men suddenly a Thing? Well I guess it’s because Harvey Weinstein has just been jailed, and not long since George Pell was jailed. It isn’t long since we found out about Neverland and Michael Jackson, another famous man.

Some men become notorious, rather than famous. Some remain merely famous, their crimes never seeing the light of day until they die. Some men are so revered, even in the post-Pell era in Australia, that no amount of exposure and demands for justice seem to shift their entrenched position among the elite. These men are often the recipients of knighthoods, or Orders of Australia now that knighthoods are outre.

My father, Bertram Thomas Tunley, was always rather scathing about men whom he said were actively seeking knighthoods, like his cousin Sir Tom Hiley. (Apologies to any living descendants of Tom Hiley). My Dad settled for an OBE, or Order of the British Empire, not bad for someone who began his career as a humble garage mechanic. He became a keen Rotarian, and if you asked him, would always know who else belonged to this brotherhood. He and one other man were the only members of the South Brisbane Rotary Club to be non-drinkers. The year before my world was turned upside down, his business was the target of a hostile takeover and he was retrenched. The following year, I was groomed and abused by a revered church figure, another famous man I guess. The lack of any kind of action by the Queensland Police, his friendship with the Queensland Governor, his Patronage of the Organ Society with interesting links to the Police Complaints Tribunal, are intriguing.

But by all means, let us now praise famous men!


















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