Dow-Curse Index

The Glasgow Herald has a piece on the Cursing Stone of Carlisle, a work of modern art that features a 1525 religious curse made by the Archbishop of Glasgow against families of raiders who lived on the Scottish-English border. The stone has been blamed for recent flooding in the town and an outbreak of foot-and-mouth, as well as job losses and defeat for the local football team. Christians have lobbied the local council to destroy it, and the Bishop of Carlisle has asked the present Archbishop of Glasgow to lift the curse, resulting in global media interest.

The Herald interviews Sandy Hobbs, University of Paisley psychologist:

Obviously (the stone) is important in that it’s a way of people focusing their belief, but the curse is supposed to be an old curse,” he says. “I don’t see how the object is supposed to be logically connected to [C16 Archbishop] Gavin Dunbar. It’s certainly the case that having something physical to latch on to is going to make it easier for people to believe in what I would think would be a superstition.”

Hobbs has spotted a further lapse in logic on the part of the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev Graham Dow, who has asked the Archbishop of Glasgow to visit Carlisle and lift the curse. “It struck me that some people have been talking in terms of belief in the possibility of an effective curse while considering themselves to be religious, but I’m not sure you can draw a line between a religious claim about a curse and calling something superstition,” he says. “It seems to me the only way a curse can work is if people know they are cursed and start acting accordingly, as a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s the only rational way to offer a justification for believing in a curse.”

But what the media appears to have forgotten is that this sort of thing is part of Graham Dow’s religious worldview. For Dow is the most high-ranking member of the Charismatic wing of the Church of England, with strong beliefs in the demonic. As Cumbria Online noted in 2003:

Bishop Dow has hit the headlines on several occasions this year after joining the row over homosexuality within the Church of England and after it was revealed he believes evil spirits can be introduced into the world through miscarriages, abortions, oral and anal sex.

In 1990 Bishop Dow, a close friend on [sic] the Prime Minister Tony Blair, wrote a booklet, Explaining Deliverance, in which his views on evil spirits were revealed. He said the spirits could also cause untreatable diseases.

He also wrote that people who repeatedly wear black or always purchase a black car may be possessed by evil spirits. He says clear signs of evil spirits at work are “sexual lust and deviant sexual practice”.

Dow was Blair’s university chaplain; he is also on the UK Support and Advisory Group for Ellel Grange, a training centre for Christians who want to battle the demonic (an organisation which has been accused of promoting false memories of Satanic abuse). I have heard stories that while he was Bishop of Willesden he was in the habit of performing impromptu exorcisms on teenagers up for confirmation.

(Thanks to Christianity Today for some of the links)

3 Responses

  1. Just found you. Very interesting, and tremendous research. You’ve got a new reader!

  2. […] one-time university chaplain to Tony Blair) believes in such an association; in 2003 Cumbia Online reported: Bishop Dow has hit the headlines on several occasions this year after joining the row over […]

  3. […] is a Charismatic, and he also associates homosexuality with the activity of […]

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