The other day, for no particular reason, I came across a thesis, entitled Images of Salvation: a study in theology, poetry and rhetoric, written by Gregory Brian Smith. And the reason I found it is that it references my old webpage at Geocities. The reference is connected to a picture of Les Murray, the Australian poet, and makes it seem as though the picture is mine.
However, when you click on the link provided, you find that it no longer goes anywhere, probably because geocities was taken over by Yahoo, and the Athens/Forum address system has been abandoned in favour of this less complicated link. I've tried to download the thesis a couple of times, but on my home computer at least, it gets stuck before it's finished loading.
However, on my old homepage you can see the picture of Les Murray that Smith references. The photo appears to have come from Duffy and Snellgrove's website, where it's featured on the page that discusses Murray, and has recordings of him reading his work. Thus is repaired the link on Mr Smith's page.
Now, driving your RV (which I have discovered means 'recreational vehicle' and can apply to anything from a live-in bus to a skateboard) across to the Continent in a fashion that shows that the next bit has nothing to do with the first - no matter how hard I might try to pin them together - and head towards Turkey, where a gameshow called Penitents Compete (or Tovbekarlar Yarisiyor in Turkish) has a Muslim Imam, a Greek Orthodox priest, a Rabbi and a Buddhist monk attempting to convert atheists to one or other of their religions.
If it sounds like a joke, it ain't. The prize is a pilgrimage to the holy place of either Mecca, Jerusalem or Tibet, depending on which religion the contestant decides to convert to. The contestants pit their unbelief against the belief of the religious regulars, and the latter will attempt to convert at least one in ten of the contestants who appear.
Does it sound in the slightest bit crass? I'd say ultra-crass would cover it. "The makers of "Penitents Compete" are unrepentant and reject claims that the show, scheduled to begin broadcasting in September, will cheapen religion." No, of course it won't cheapen religion. (Religious people are perfectly capable of cheapening religion on their own, without any help from gameshow production companies.) All it cheapens - further - is the extraordinary world of television, which its (generally-credited) inventor, John Baird Logie (looking grumpy at left) is said to have thought would bring education to the masses. His son, Malcolm Baird, Malcolm Baird said in an interview that had his father known how TV would turn out in sixty years time, he would have dropped it and turned to other inventions.