Britain Education Theology

Snowflake Theologians Given Trigger Warning about the Crucifixion

Monty Python was a hilarious surreal take on many aspects of life.  It was so ludicrous that most of us could laugh.  But nowadays I find that some aspects of modern life which are apparently taken seriously, are more Pythoesque than Python.  Take this headline….

Bible students are warned…you may find the crucifixion too upsetting!

This was in The Daily Mail  so I guess there are those who will immediately have their Mail armour on and just immediately dismiss it out of hand.  But I’m afraid the Mail article is only the tip of the iceberg.  This is what is happening in Britain’s Universities today.

Theology students at Glasgow University studying the course  -‘Creation to Apocalypse: Introduction to the Bible (Level 1)’ are being given ‘trigger warnings’ that the scenes of the crucifixion may be upsetting.    The University explains why:

‘We have an absolute duty of care to all of our students and where it is felt course material may cause potential upset or concern warnings may be given.’

Who would have thunk it?   Christianity mentions the Cross?! And the Cross is not nice?! God help the poor wee snowflakes if they ever get on to Jesus’s teaching about Hell!  And they should certainly be kept away from the book of Revelation.

But what about other subjects?  Could they not cause upset?   The article goes on to helpfully inform us that veterinary students are given trigger warnings about working with dead animals, those studying ‘contemporary society’ ware warned they will be discussing illness and violence, and those studying forensic science are given a ‘verbal warning… at the beginning of some lectures where sensitive images, involving blood patterns, crime scenes and bodies etc are in the presentation’.   Who would have thought it?  Vets might see dead animals, historians might hear about violence, and forensic scientists might come across images of dead bodies and blood (I hope the University warns them about watching Lewis and CSI!)?  Stirling University issues a trigger warning for those doing gender studies because students might encounter material ‘which is triggering (ie. which can trigger a negative reaction’).    I’m sure that is correct – there is much that is taught in gender studies which causes a negative reaction in me – not least that public money is wasted on teaching this non-sense.

What I find both disturbing and amusing in this, is that these are major universities, which pride themselves on being the elites and creating the leaders of tomorrow.  These are the Universities and academics who boasted about themselves that they were the people who dealt in facts, unlike the ignorant, uneducated, unwashed masses who for example voted for Brexit.  But they think that their students are so dumbed down, stupid and infantile that they won’t have worked out that Christianity has something to do with the Cross, and that crucifixion is not pleasant.   That students will not be able to cope with this and so need Mummy University to protect them.  Maybe they should provide comfort rooms, complete with colouring in books and padded walls with sweets and juice?

Mind you maybe they have a point?  After all many churches seem to have so dumbed down Christianity that it has been reduced to a series of pious platitudes, moralistic soundbites and political cliches.  The Disneyfied church would probably need trigger warnings if anyone ever dared to follow the New Testament church and teach ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’!    Maybe the Scottish government will demand that trigger warnings be placed outside Catholic churches (all that imagery inside..) – and less the Knoxian Calvinists get too gleeful at the thought, we will face trigger warnings too – all that teaching about sin and the judgement to come.   Jesus would never do that!  (Matthew 25?).

In case you think I am joking I have direct experience of one University in Scotland where the Students Association have demanded that the Christian Union do a Health, Safety and Welfare assessment on their meetings.  This is not about having adequate fire escapes.  No, this is about ensuring that the teaching does not upset anyone and that suitable warnings are posted.

Again – I’m not sure that I blame the students.  Its the academic elites who are either promoting, or acquiesing in this pathetic, weak, moralistic, mollycoddling.

The post-truth Ivory tower of modern academia is not the real world.  The real world involves upset, suffering, hardship, struggles and facing our fears.  The attempt to protect students from all semblance of reality at least has one effect.  It makes them forget about the real things that should upset them.  Like the fact that the Principal of Glasgow University is paid over £300,000 per year of public money, whilst ‘lesser’ staff are losing their jobs and menial staff are paid relative pittances.

Let me return to Monty Python and blend together two of tomorrow’s stories.


Opps…sorry.  I hope you didn’t click on that before I issued the trigger warning….if you are worried about Transgender, or are called Stan, or are Roman, then I warn you that the above may upset you….

One line at the end just about says it all….

“Its symbolic of his struggle against reality”

Too many of our university, media, religious and political elites are engaged in a struggle against reality.  And far too many who know it is nonsense are not prepared to fight back in case someone gets offended or hurt.  I have taken part recently in a couple of media stories about the gender fluid philosophy about to be imposed on our children through TIE and the Scottish government.  Everyone I have spoken to (apart from the tiny minority of Queer theory activists) agrees that its gone too far and that primary school children should not be taught that they can choose their own gender – but most are too scared to say anything because they fear the social media hate mobs and even more that they could lose their jobs.  So they keep quiet, cross their fingers and hope it will go away.   It won’t.

The trouble with snowflakes is that they quickly melt and disappear.  Maybe its about time we started having some reality checks at the top?   Real life is messy.  Real theology is messy.  Real people are messy.  We are messy.   I am a mess.  Maybe its about time we all came out of our academic/political/economic/entertainment/religious bubbles and started to face up to life in all its ugliness and beauty?  Maybe then we would see our need for the truth and reality that is Christ and his Cross?

This article was republished on The Premier Blog







  1. I experienced something similar back in 1982 or 83 at a Lutheran seminary in Minnesota. We were constructing theology statements and the students in my study group objected to the idea of blood shed for the forgiveness of sins. They were uncomfortable with my Biblical declaration because blood sacrifice is so “pagan.”

  2. David, sometimes it is just the University management protecting against possible suing by students who are encouraged by ridiculous laws, and not the academics behaving badly! Its a bit like the notice at one Australian university warning against running in high heels!

    1. Not in this case…..who has ever sued a Uni in Britain for not issuing trigger warnings about Christianity involving the cross? Or vets having to deal with dead animals?! This is way beyond health and safety…

  3. It really does stagger belief doesn’t it. How these poor students are going to face reality one can’t think. I’m minded of a dinner table conversation some time ago. Our host was saying that, now retired [he’d made a lot of money in the City] that he was asked to give orientation training to graduate entrants coming into financial services. It was his task to break it to the youngsters that, compared to the ‘sheltered’ / ‘caring’ womb of school and uni, they were in for a shock. Nobody would care how they were feeling about this that or another, nor as to whether their views being valued. They were to perform – or else! It will be interesting to see to how this present generation of students will fare.

  4. The offence of the cross of Christ is Good News. But lapsed evangelicals would be pleased to iradicate the cross from any theological study.

    I’m not sure where this “absolute duty duty of care to our students” comes from, in law. I’d be interested to know, bearing in mind Scottish law differs from law in England and Wales. I suspect, however, it is a quotation from someone who doesn’t know the specifics. If so, it’s a sad indictment of the standards in a Russell Group Uni. Perhaps they should do some research into “absolute duty,” research being their excellence.

    Medical students should be warned that some people may bleed.

    This week, in the Times there was an article saying that BBC management, and other organisations, were being trained in how to manage staff who were describe as “millennials” with their sense of entitlement.

  5. Trigger warning – this post mentions upsetting things!

    When I started to train in medicine in 1967 – such a long time ago – medical students learned anatomy in the Michelangelo tradition. As eighteen year-olds we filed into a high-ceiling anatomy room with 12 tables, each carrying a shrouded figure. Ten to a table we gingerly lifted the shroud to reveal the pickled cadaver beneath. To faint at this point was regarded as a matter of deep shame and I am pleased to say that no one in my group did.

    During the next five terms we became intimately acquainted with our specimen, learning some anatomy on the way. This process hardened us to the reality of death and corpses.

    Another regular lesson was the lunch time post-mortem display when a pathologist would display the current PM specimens. It was all very grizzly and surprisingly colorful, but that was how we learned our pathology.

    Today’s medical students learn anatomy by studying 3-D computer simulations and their pathology from google. I wonder if they will be given trigger warnings before turning on their computers? It seems that my generation were required to be made of sterner stuff!

    Interestingly an article on gender fluidity in children which I posted on HospitalDr appeared on Facebook under a “trigger warning” alert – a good way of choking meaningful debate.

  6. As far as subjects such as medicine, veterinary med, forensics et cetera go, go figure. There will be graphic content. I do recall at university (not recent) those taking forensics saying graphic slides were interspersed with various cartoons (if memory serves, Garfield may have been involved).

    It wasn’t that the lecturer thought them a bunch of snowflakes, but that it was genuinely arduous stuff, there was plenty of it and they were expected to learn about it, not just survive the hour, thus a little respite was given between the atrocities.

    As for theology, perhaps it is perceived to be like in a law degree, where you will read about and discuss any number of horrible happenings but perhaps traditionally you won’t see the pictorial evidence or re-enactment – this is my perception anyway. Although when you can see a course syllabus with “Jesus and Cinema” in it, that may be another “go figure” moment! If this course is an introduction to the Bible, why is it looking at Jesus and cinema? I get using film as illustration, but surely the course is about the Bible itself, not what Hollywood does with it?

    What annoys me about these snowflake stories is that the small number of people who may be affected by some situations for a genuine good reason and don’t cause undue fuss about it, are lumped in with people who think nothing in the world should ever discomfit them and make plenty fuss about it.

    Real snowflakes are fighting back though:

  7. goodfeldt: It is heartenting to know that your learning stemmed from intimate acquaintance. I’d much rather have you poking about my dead body than someone who has known only virtual death and mouse movements.

    Jennifer. Yes, studying law differs greatly from being a practitioner, as does being office bound from court work. Studying criminal law didn’t train in how to deal with police officers ,or criminals, or judges. But the degree, in itself, does/did teach how to think, which may be part of the snowflake problem.

    Being a lawyer would be great if it weren’t for people….and their tears, grievances, greed, brokeness, lawlessness, having to tell them what they don’t want to hear, human nature in the raw, all part of general practice which has gone the way of the dodo. I can recall, when legal aid was quite widely available being told how long to spend on intitial divorce consultations, when whole lives and families were falling apart, procedure, reconciliation, the law, property, finances, children, injunctions – 20 minutes. Dealing with real life horror stories can either melt or harden the heart. The flame that hardens the egg, melts the butter. Many of us live in a cosseted world in the West.

    Thanks for the laugh, through the link. I’d forgotten about that satirical site.

    1. Thanks Geoff,

      After qualifying I trained initially as a surgeon and my intimate knowledge of anatomy was of great use. But the surgical training system at that time was grossly inadequate so I changed career to radiology and became a consultant in Coventry in 1989. My surgical and anatomical background helped me to develop the early days of “interventional” radiology which was image-guided procedures such as tumour biopsy and deep abscess drainages. The youngsters have taken the specialty on to amazing new heights, but I was there at the start and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

  8. Here is a link to a 15 min youtube talk on millenials and romp through an analysis of some of the root cause of the generation of snowflakes, and the use of technology. It is poignantly funny.

  9. David, I have been reading through your incredible blog entries after thoroughly enjoying your response to Meryl Streep’s “performance,” (which I immediately shared after reading). I cannot express the degree to which I respect your eloquently analytical approach to the issues discussed on this blog. Your responses to comments on your blog entries are a rare example of open-minded consideration grounded in a firm foundation in the ideals that drive your words. I share this because I want you to understand that it is with great respect that I bring this up, and I hope that you will consider that I read this entry not once, but three times, to ensure that I understood it.

    The points you made in this entry are precisely what needs to be said; an added observation on the subject is that modern liberalism has created a culture of victimization that compromises society’s ability to move forward due to its willing entanglement in so many unnecessary scandals, “social justice wars,” and the necessity of obscenely restrictive political correctness in every situation. It makes me sick that simple truth and common sense cannot be expressed for fear of persecution (or even prosecution).

    (I’m almost apologetic to say this)
    The use of the word “snowflake” when describing a human being takes away from the overall legitimacy of the entry. I know… that sounds silly and nitpicky. After all, this is a well developed opinion piece which covers way more than a single word, and I understand that.

    The issue that I’m having is that the word snowflake is used in a clearly derogatory context two out of the three times it appeared in your entry, one of which is included in the title. It’s not like you used a racial slur or anything of the sort, but that term has been used in that context very frequently lately as a method of mocking people (generally millenials) for their liberal beliefs. You won’t have to look very hard to find many people using that seemingly harmless term in extremely hateful and destructive ways; it’s quickly becoming the word of choice for truly intolerant people (I say truly intolerant because not everybody accused of being intolerant is so) to express their hatred, hiding behind the the guise of “harmless” vernacular. I’m not saying that you are one of these people,

    I refuse to accept the concept that any of us have the right “not to be offended,”
    I also believe that decent people, especially writers, have a responsibility to attempt to accomplish their goal without being offensive, if possible. These days, that’s hard to accomplish, and that’s the problem you address so well in this entry, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make every effort not to be purposely offense when we stand nothing to gain from it.

    I clicked on the entry, hoping that I wouldn’t find that you used your blog to mock a group of individuals (generally left-wing millenials) through name-calling simply for having an opposing view to your own. I was so relieved to find that you weren’t blatantly attacking this group, but I realized that if I considered that possibility, then it’s certain that some (or many) people also made that assumption. Now, if an individual made such an assumption, then it’s not your fault if he/ she chose not to read your entry.

    What if that individual would have read your entry and had a change of perspective had you not used a word that, frankly, openly mocks a group of individuals, likening them to weak, fragile, short-lived objects?

    I guess my point is: despite the clever tie-in that snowflakes “quickly melt and disappear,” I wish you had found a different word (of which there are so many) to express your point; in all honesty, it didn’t add to the truth in the entry, but it did take away from the power of words to reach anybody outside of a certain bubble.

    I very respectfully present my humble opinion, and I hope you take it at face value. Like you, I say what I mean- nothing more and nothing less.

    1. Thanks Mason – your comments are appreciated. The term ‘snowflake’ does not refer to millenials who have liberal beliefs….it is generally used to refer to a generation which puts feelings before facts and takes offence at anything with which they disagree. It is used of both right and left. It may be somewhat harsh but if its true then in reality it may be what the snowflakes need….and its very mild compared with Jesus’s ‘generation of vipers’! But I do appreciate what you said and take the caution on board…

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