Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog


with 5 comments

Every once in a while, I dedicate a post on this blog to deploring the continued cultural (and linguistic) illiteracy of a Canadian writer and academic named Shadia Drury.

I read her column in a magazine called Free Inquiry, which is one of the publications of the umbrella group called CFI–the same one whose CEO got himself a feminist problem with his remarks at the Women in Secularism 2 conference.

I went over there today to check to see if there were any more updates to that situation, because although I get their e-mail news updates, those updates did not notify me of the official statement I quoted on the blog some time earlier.

Then I bopped around a bit and reconfirmed my feeling that the secular movement and I have very different ideas about what constitute civil rights and civil liberties, and then I went looking around some more and found the Drury.

Most of the time when I get on to complain about this stuff, I’ve read the article in the print magazine, and it’s not available to link to.

This time,  it’s online where you can get it, right here:


I can say with some confidence that this is a typical piece, because Drury seems to write  nothing but typical pieces.  She seems to be making a career out of saying the same thing over and over and over again.

In this, she starts by getting the conversion of Constantine wrong and (as often) out of order, and goes on to a portrait of Greek religion that’s downright hysterical.

I’ve said before that I’m pretty sure this woman wrote a book about the work of Thomas Aquinas without being able to read Latin.  I’m can be firmer about this, because I know this woman is writing about Greek religion without being able to read Greek.

And somebody ought to give her a decent dictionary.  There’s nothing in this as bad as the time when she defined “oligarchy” as “rule by the rich” (plutocracy, Dr. Drury, plutocracy), but she managed to get in a couple of howlers nonetheless.  Pay careful attention to her (re)definition of “hubris.”

In the end, though, I get to the place I usually get to with Drury. 

I just don’t understand why the secular movement in the US continues to support her.

Yes, of course, she says what the secular movement wants to hear, but there are lots of writers out there who say what the secular movement wants to hear, and a lot of them are at least conscientious about knowing what they’re talking about.

Drury is a joke, and her scholarship has been roundly deplored and thoroughly debunked by numerous fellow scholars who are not religious and have no axe to grind with the secular movement.

Credibility matters in the end, and if Drury’s work was the first I ever came across on a secular website, I’d be justified in thinking that nothing the movement said was worth bothering with.

Written by janeh

June 23rd, 2013 at 9:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'Revisit'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Revisit'.

  1. Interesting. I counted 19 paragraphs, and not one without at least one demonstrable factual error. Some of them were the topic sentence. May one ask what university awarded her a doctorate, and in what field?

    There are only three reasons anyone would keep such a person as a columnist: either the editors are equally ignorant, they regard errors made “on their side” as inconsequential, or she has so many followers that the editors are willing to put up with the embarrassment. The first, of course, reflects badly on the education and intelligence of the editors, and the second on their morality.

    But I’m afraid the third explanation only lets the editors off the hook–more or less–by transferring the opprobrium to the readership. The people who read that column and nodded approvingly are either bone-ignorant of her subject–and they hardly need either Greek or Latin to get it right on this level–or they don’t care about facts so long as the author supports the “higher truth.”

    For myself, I think we had enough of that sort of thinking in the previous century to last us for a bit.


    23 Jun 13 at 11:02 am

  2. Me again. I checked. This person has a degree in “political science” making her exactly as well qualified to write on the history of religion as I am to practice medicine. Fortunately, she holds a “social justice” chair at her university, so no one will go to her hoping to become educated.

    The next time you hear a politician tell you that we need more college graduates, or see some agency rank colleges and universities according to the ratio of faculty to students, consider that awarding a PhD to someone lacking the most basic research skills and hiring her for a university faculty position improved both those metrics.

    As far as I’m concerned, she’s proof we need to measure progress some other way.


    23 Jun 13 at 1:14 pm

  3. Jane and Robert have more patience than I do. I only managed to read 1/3 of the essay. The author really lost me with the opening sentence (It is no exaggeration to say that the invention of monotheism has been the greatest misfortune of humanity.)

    I would have thought that Marxism was a much greater misfortune.

    And I agree with Robert’s comments about the editors.


    23 Jun 13 at 3:49 pm

  4. The hatred that intellectuals show toward the Catholic Church always strikes me as ironic. Don’t they remember the role of the Church in preserving literacy and law after the fall of Rome? And, if I remember correctly, the first universities started as advanced training for priests.


    23 Jun 13 at 8:10 pm

  5. Like JD, I was staggered by the first sentence. Anyone who could seriously write such crap doesn’t deserve to be read at all. But I did read the entire article and, while having forgotten, or never having known, any of the history, again I was staggered by the childishness of the writing. Unfortunately, this sort of thing is popular with the radical new atheists, including my otherwise much admired Christopher Hitchens. Dawkins, of course, is a raving fanatic, and I’ve found his anti-religion rantings completely unreadable.


    23 Jun 13 at 9:45 pm

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Bad Behavior has blocked 246 access attempts in the last 7 days.