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athgarvan

There is some infernal alloy in his metal.

Lord Jim is a novel by Joseph Conrad, 1900. An early and primary event is Jim's abandonment of a ship in distress on which he is serving as a mate. He is publicly censured for this action and the novel follows his later attempts at coming to terms with his past.

Reflecting on the ongoing saga in the Irish media about the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, and especially on the role played by Cardinal Seán Brady, I am reminded of the words of Marlow in Lord Jim when he is endeavouring  to assess Jim, and through Jim to assess himself; and ask, what would I have done in the same circumstances?

Marlow says, "I would have trusted the deck to that youngster on the strength of a single glance, and gone to sleep with both eyes – and, by Jove! it wouldn't have been safe. There are depths of horror in the thought. He looked as genuine as a new sovereign, but there was some infernal alloy in his metal."

Marlow is torn about this Jim character. He looks like a stand-up guy, but there is clearly some internal turmoil going on. Jim is not who Marlow thought he would be;  he's a bit hard for Marlow to figure out in general.

And so, for many, is Cardinal Seán Brady.

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