Felicity Huffman’s “academic politics”

French painter William Bouguereau’s “Dante and Virgil”. The painting depicts a short scene from Dante’s Inferno, set in the eighth circle of Hell, the circle for falsifiers and counterfeiters.

What is the purpose of education? What treasures are in its gift?

Why would a woman of multi-award winning American actress Felicity Huffman’s achievements and reputation risk all that she has attained to secure access to education’s treasury for her offspring through criminal rule breaking?

I note that the Desperate Housewives star gave both her daughters the middle-name Grace, which is apparently consistent with Huffman’s own wealthy Christian family upbringing.

And yet when one scratches beneath the surface one rapidly comes to the conclusion that there is a nagging poverty and sense of skepticism at the heart of Huffman’s narrative.

In the adulterous or otherwise illegitimate circumstances of her birth, her battle with both anorexia and bulimia, her on-and-off relationship with her similarly successful actor husband and other biographical and biological details one can detect a desperation that predicted her current, hopefully ultimately healing and therefore transient disgrace.

I certainly see scope for Huffman, her husband William H Macy and their two daughters to rise Phoenix-like from the rubble of their scandalous education escalator rule breaking.

As I hinted in a private message to a member of their stellar family recently, while they may now feel like they have descended to the fraudsters filled eighth circle of hell, as depicted in the medieval Italian poet Dante’s Inferno, it may be more accurate and probably much more helpful to see themselves as passing through a version of that thirteenth century Italian mystic’s concept of purgatory.

And just as Bahamian prime minister Dr Hubert Minnis is urging Bahamians grieving the deaths and devastation that hurricane Dorian inflicted on their country to be encouraged by the seeming invincibility of the red and white Elbow Cay Lighthouse that has remained standing on Great Abaco island, I am urging the Huffman-Macy collective to seek the hurricane resistant lighthouse in their particular circumstances.

Sincere felicitations Felicity (or ‘What’s in a name?’)

And in this regard I would urge the family to reflect on Huffman’s first name: Felicity.

According to The Free Dictionary, while the word “Felicity” typically denotes happiness, it also has a much deeper, philosophical sense, related to the performative appropriateness of speech.

The focus in this philosophical use of the word is on the appropriateness of a specific speech act.

So as The Free Dictionary explains the performative “I appoint you ambassador” can only possess or be impregnated or populated with felicity if uttered by one in whom the authority for such appointments is vested.

I am taking this philosophical sense of felicity further, in concert with the medieval mystic Dante, and the renaissance rationalist Rene Descartes simultaneously, however unlikely that may seem.

I am taking a more theological than philosophical view of the name Felicity, and in this particular instance imbuing it with both ancient and modern, religious and secular labels transcending, real politik significance.

For me, felicity is rooted ultimately in the sovereignty of God and the grace to which every family tossed on the rough seas of life can lay claim.

According to this faith regenerating rubric, which I present as a conscience based New Covenant phenomenon in my book The Bible: Beauty And Terror Reconciled and elaborate on more extensively in the next article in this series, the felicity of Felicity’s words is therefore not dependent solely on her intent.

This divine sovereignty focused understanding of the word felicity, which is consistent with the long accepted use of the word to mean “good fortune” does not exclude the possibility of human agency and responsibility.

It simply acknowledges that we cannot always measure and apportion it.

Just as we cannot always measure the fruit of education because intelligence is an extraordinarily complex phenomenon, whatever the consciously or unconsciously Aryan supremacist science supporting geneticist James Watson, or his detractors in the African supremacist science supporting community may say.

It seems that the citadel of cerebral supremacy, like the Kingdom of God, a Christian theological parallel, will ever suffer the violence of academic politics.

Like Huffman, those who rationalize violence in thought, word, or deed, like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, his University of the West Indies strategic ally Sir Hillary Beckles, the Brexit Party politician and Academy of Ideas founder Clare Fox, and most alarmingly, the current British prime minister and his conscious or unconscious counterpart facilitators in the United States, Israel, Palestine, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Venezuela, Barbados and elsewhere first violate themselves.

By this ethical scale of interpretation Huffman’s and the other education system perverting fraudsters’ behavior may be seen for what it is in its most naked state: a kind of self rape.

But as professor Mary Beard of the University of Cambridge, a maximal Mariologist, arguably, has demonstrated despite a similar testing, it remains in Huffman’s and her family’s capacity to turn this tragic scandal into a watershed winning life lesson, if not a cause célèbre.

To be continued…

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