BY RICHARD LYNAS
Here, for what they are worth, are my views on the article about Father Dancer Dunn and the Dunn family in general, by the ‘Scottish correspondent’ who contributed the article about Dancer to Bishop Pat Buckley’s blog in the first place.
It is a long time since I read such a vicious attack on a person’s views and values and alleged behaviour via such a wide- ranging and, to me, deeply troubling effort at character assassination. Dear me! Yet another anonymous keyboard warrior, deeply committed to the TRUTH getting out there and supremely confident that he or she knows what the TRUTH is. Should have listened to the quote from Pontus Pilate all those years ago: What is truth? he asked. And, unsurprisingly, he did not wait for an answer!
However, a few words MY truth to start with. My name is Richard Lynas, Glasgow- born and bred and a long- retired secondary school head teacher, now 80 years of age. I am also an uncle through marriage of Father Stephen ‘Dancer’ Dunn, having been (and being
still) married for 55 years to one of Dancer’s aunts on his father’s side.
I have just become aware of the existence of this blog, know nothing of the blogger, Bishop Pat Buckley, other than the Ballymena phone number, and have never previously heard of Patricia McKeever of the Catholic Truth Society. And I know nothing of ‘the Scottish correspondent’ other than the impression I have gained from reading his/her article about Father Dancer Dunn, his wider family and his commitment to the Latin Mass.
Here are a few more of MY truths. Dancer’s grandfather on his mother’s worked in the licensed trade, surgically pulling pints for his many thirsty regulars. His grandpa on his father’s side was wee Dr Joe Dunn, 5 foot 3 and a half inches tall (his claim!) and a legendary GP who devoted the best part of 40 years of his life to the care of his patients in Bridgeton, one of the poorest practices in the UK and a practice which exemplified in many of his patients a wide range of the chronic ill health issues that so many of us now recognise as being the inevitable concomitant of grinding poverty. Neither of Dancer’s grandparents owned any of the businesses mentioned. Dr Joe left behind his family home to his children when he died and to me, his youngest son- in- law, he left behind an old Volkswagen Beetle, valued at £50 a couple of years later. I loved the man!
And I cherished my Beetle Banger.
Dancer Dunn’s dad, Dr John Dunn, took over the Bridgeton practice when wee Dr Joe died. Suffice to say, perhaps, that, years later, the local church adjacent to the Bridgeton medical practice, one of Glasgow’s biggest, churches, was packed out into the street with Dr John’s patients when he, at his special request, was allowed to invite his brother, Columban Father Gerry Dunn, to say a Latin Mass in honour of his 70th birthday, when that biblical age of three score and ten years came around.
Speaking of the Latin Mass, I do know that Father Stephen inherited from his dad and his uncle Gerry, their deeply traditional, not to say fundamentalist, views about the rights and wrongs, as they saw it, of the practice of the Catholic Faith in the modern world.. And he certainly inherited their readiness to express those views, without fear or favour, to those at the top end of the church’s hierarchy. In essence, they believed, rightly or wrongly, that the modern church was too liberal in its interpretation of the word of God, as expressed in the Gospels. And their deep commitment to the Latin Mass was but one example of their traditional line.
I freely confess that, although I agreed with, and still try to practise in my own personal, private and fairly quiet way most of the traditional values held by Stephen, his dad and his uncle Gerry, I often disagreed with their apparent belief that the best way to help others to see the Light was to ram those views down other people’s throats to such an extent that they soon took to hiding any time they saw any of them coming!
And yet, and yet….I could point you in the direction of many a person whose respect for Stephen’s grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings and extended members of the Dunn family – and, yes, occasionally Stephen himself- knew no bounds. Many of the extended Dunn family, some included in the names mentioned by ‘the Scottish correspondent’ were or are among some of most respected people in the Glasgow area, not least within medical and religious circles. For myself, as a mere in- law, many of them are among some of the most deeply caring people I have ever met in my life. At least one of them was the closest I have ever come to knowing a living saint.
Does that make Dancer a good guy? Of course, not. I am not sure if anyone has ever succeeded in persuading Dancer that the best evangelism starts with the evangelist respecting the dignity, rights and needs of the other person to have their current views respected as a first step in the evangelist gently directing the third party in a better direction. Dancer, like the ‘Scottish correspondent’, KNOWS where the truth lies-and that the sooner you learn that, the sooner you will be saved. Then again, perhaps the ‘Scottish correspondent’ is a match for Dancer, in that regard…
PS to Bishop Pat- Dancer was so called by his pals at school because he would dance from one foot to the other as he nervously awaited a swish or two of his teacher’s belt across his hands for some misdemeanour or other! Sadly, that did not work either!
Thank you for your excellent contribution.
It is clever, witty, and so well written.
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