Morality Of Media Misrepresentation In Investigative Reporting Free Essay

IntroductionThere is no denying the fact that investigative media strongly influence public perspectives on various matters. This is due to a number of reasons.First, investigative reporting provides information previously not in the public sphere.

This means that most people learned about the facts and events for the first time or the investigative report confirmed developing doubts or answered hanging questions. This is due to the nature of investigative reporting, as covert and pro-active journalism, since the focus is on dealings kept from public scrutiny (Forbes 1).Second, investigative reporting fosters the impression of evidence-based reporting since investigative reports support statements with circumstantial or prima facie facts (Forbes 4). An implication is that investigative reports influence the public because of the impression that the facts stated come from facts backed by evidence.

This finds support in the application of scientific processes in data collection since investigative reporters do not just present a scoop without factual evidence (Forbes 1).Third, investigative reporting carries the air of public trust by building public impression of the general role of the media in supporting the exercise of the public’s right to information and public welfare (Forbes 3). As such, investigative reports influence the public through the development of the value of facts as true, factual and reliable. Indirectly, these sources of value draw people to rely on investigative reports.

However, public debate emerged challenging these characteristics of investigative reporting covering the issues of bias, skepticism, media manipulation, privacy intrusion, and public impact. This issues calls for the renewal of the importance of commitment to the ethical rights and duties of media people involved in investigative reporting. (Kieran x) The paper considers the specific issue of media misrepresentation by looking at the forms or areas of media misrepresentation and discussing the morality of this issue in the context of investigative reporting to derive the conclusion that media misrepresentation is moral only when committed to serves public interest.Forms of Media Misrepresentation in Investigative ReportingA growing perspective is that media misrepresentation occurs more frequently in investigative reporting than most people realize.

Media misrepresentation happens in the political sphere especially during the campaign period, the legal sphere especially in sensational cases, economic sphere particularly in areas of public interest, socio-cultural and environmental spheres such as the reporting on the nature and extent of public risks.Investigative reporting thrived in democratic systems because of the freedom of information justified by public interest. Former president Clinton had to step down from office with a besmirched reputation after reports of his sexual affair with a White House staff leaked to the public. Reports not only mentioned the extra-marital affair but also contained the admission of Lewinsky of the affair together with a dress stained with Clinton’s semen.

No conclusive DNA test was made to match the connection between Lewinsky, the dress stained with semen, and Clinton but the report was enough to rock the presidency. Although Clinton denied these allegations, the public impact was so great to give the Republican Party the upper hand.            However, in the upcoming presidential elections, investigative reports are mounting as information upon information, mostly negative, killed the chances of most of the candidates to achieve their goal of representing the party. Quite a number of republican senators hoping to represent the party in the presidential elections have been discredit due to reports of solicitation of sex, some even involving minors, supported by prima facie evidence of credit card accounts, correspondence, witness testimonies, and even confessions.

Reports have influenced public opinion through votes in the primaries. Again, the public received most of these reports as facts but there could be media misrepresentation in these cases, especially since motives abound in dropping other party representatives to the presidential elections or likely strong opposition in the presidential race.In the legal sphere, investigative reporting details and simplifies legal aspects to relate the technical aspects of law with the common or day-to-day lives of people (Nobles and Schiff 223). Through this process media misrepresentation can occur.

In the case of Sally Clark, a solicitor convicted of killing her two children. Her defense was sudden infant death syndrome since autopsy has not identified an alternative and convincing cause of death. There was circumstantial evidence of her involvement because of the proximity of her relationship to the victims and the lack of other suspects especially because of the failure to identify the cause of death. A comparison of investigative reports on her case and the court records shows a difference in the interpretation and presentation of facts.

Reports of the media leaned towards the guilt of Clark by presenting all prima facie evidence linking her to the double murder. The climax was the conviction of Clark at the lower court followed by an unsuccessful appeal.However, lesser reports showed that she successfully reversed her conviction during a second appeal based on court records. (Nobles and Schiff 228-242) Reports of her conviction supported by circumstantial evidence lingered in the public mind and even if Sally Clarke received exoneration from the charges, her conviction would define public perspective.

In economics, media serves as source of information to influence consumer decision-making that in turn affect the economy in terms of the demand and supply mechanics. Often, government institutions and private advocates influence these decisions through the provision of information to the media (Baron 339-340). In the Paraguay, Peru, Nigeria and Philippines, media reports a looming food shortage supported by the decrease in the supply of stable food in the public markets, continues rise in prices, and talks of food importation and aid. Reports also portray panic buying with people queuing for food because of the looming food shortage.

However, the governments of these countries deny claims of impending food shortage since policy reforms and contingency plans are ongoing. Consumers in these countries report high inflation rates as the problem but not necessarily food shortage. These reports and the claims of governments and accounts of consumers have inconsistencies that could amount to media misrepresentation.In the socio-cultural sphere including health care, the media serves as cues for the public on matters of health such as the leading causes of death as a means of deciding on preventive measures.

However, a consideration of investigative reports and actual statistics on the leading of causes of death in the United States shows a disparity. Reports underrepresented deaths from tobacco-related diseases, cerebrovascular illnesses, and heart disease that are the leading causes of deaths in the United States while the media overrepresented drug use, motor vehicle accidents, and homicide by focusing reports on these causes of death. (Frost, Frank and Maibach 842-843).            The disparities between the reported causes of death that reach the public are misleading because these do not represent reality.

In the case of poverty and homelessness, there are also disparities between media reports and statistical information. During the 1980s and 1990s, reports showed that there around two to three million homeless people walking the streets at night but scientific research that only around two hundred to three hundred thousand people do not have homes. (Hewitt 431) This constitutes misrepresentation since it magnifies a risk to the public view. Even if poverty and homelessness are strong public concerns, the misrepresentation could have unwanted effects.

These shows in many areas, media misrepresentation could occur. Although the effect often leans towards the negative, this could have varying effects, both positive and negative, on individuals as well as institutions. Political figures can achieve positive or negative public ratings through media misrepresentation although the positive effect comes indirect since the demise of one political figure usually involves the rise of the popularity of another. At the least, the public learns about the character of candidates to support decision-making during the actual elections.

   Exaggerated reports on the causes of death and homelessness are misleading but these could also influence policymaking and reforms.Misrepresentation of court proceeding could cause conviction through the media but media coverage could also bring criminals to justice by uncovering evidence and witnesses that learn about the arrest and trial.Sensationalized reports on economic and social issues could cause panic and disturbance but these could also raise public awareness and action.This implies that media misrepresentation is not an absolute wrong because of a wide grey area on context-based mix of positive and negative effects.

Morality of Media Misrepresentation in Investigative ReportingMedia misrepresentation in investigative reporting becomes a moral issue because of the responsibility of the media to the public. Media constitutes a public service and a responsibility to ensure public good. However, the media also stands for truth and facts so that investigative reports carry the expectation that information and interpretations provided to the public are true, reliable and supported by circumstantial evidence, at the least, and prima facie evidence or evidence at the most. Achieving a balance of both comprise a complicated and difficult process.

However, decades of experience of investigative reports shows that the ultimate judge of whether a particular misrepresentation is right or wrong is its overall effect to the public. This means that media misrepresentation is unacceptable and wrong when it does not serve the public good or that the public benefit outweighs the adverse effects or costs. In this way, the media serves public service and beneficial outcomes support the truth and factuality of the reports.Media could misrepresent situations by understating or overstating reports (Campbell 206).

Both are not absolute rights or wrongs. Again, public benefit serves as the measure of the morality of media misrepresentation.On one hand, an understatement of public risks can prevent widespread panic that would worsen the likelihood of the risk from escalating. In the case of the leading causes of death, the focus on motor vehicle and homicide with lower incidence than deaths caused by heart diseases with greater incidence serves a public warning since accidents happen in an instant causing the deaths of many people.

While both are avoidable and preventable, deaths from vehicular accidents involves greater individual responsibility for public safety while heart disease leans more towards individual responsibility to oneself. Of course, arguments counter arguments can always say that car mishaps, car related deaths, and homicide add more to ratings that’s why media pick up on these causes of death more than the actual more frequent causes of deaths.On the other hand, the overstatement of issues and situations could also serve the public good. In the case of homelessness, reporting a greater number of homeless people, three hundred times more than the scientific studies, by sourcing data from advocate organizations could serve the public good.

Even in a developed country as the United States, poverty remains a significant problem expressed through higher incidence of property crimes and divisiveness through the segmentation of geographic areas according to income class and socio-economic status. However, poverty and homelessness receive little attention from Capitol Hill and other concerned agencies because of focus on other priorities such as military budget to support the war on terrorism. Exaggerating reports could pressure policy reforms and budget allocation addressing poverty and homelessness that effects on property crimes and divisiveness within the American society. In the area of politics, exaggerations leaning more towards apocalyptic and conspiratorial investigative reports have significantly contributed to the decline in public confidence towards the government institutions (Moy and Pfau xi).

This could decrease the effectiveness of public institutions in gaining public support for valid policies.Media misrepresentation expresses media bias and issues in the process of gathering information (Hewitt 431). Bias is not absolute right or wrong but it has implications on the media industry and the public with public good enabling the assessment of the morality of bias.On one hand, bias does not serve public interest.

Bias occurs in media organizations, because of its effect on the demand for news and competitiveness of news channels (Baron 2006). However, a public perception of biased news could cause lesser demand for news at least from a network perceived as biased relative to greater demand for unbiased reporting. Public perception of bias leads to lesser interest over information given by the media and since the media, serves as the most popular source of information people become uninformed or unaware.On the other hand, bias could also serve public interest.

Investigative reporting on corruption that targets a specific political figure is biased since it largely favors accountability to the public. However, reports could also serve public good by exposing misappropriation of public funds, immoral and illegal actions by government representatives, and other forms of corruption that the people deserve to know since the government is by the people and for the people.ConclusionMedia misrepresentation is in itself a risk because of the uncertainty in its ramifications especially on public perception and benefits because the thrust of investigating reporting is to cover substantiated news on matters outside of the public sphere. As such, the acceptability of media misrepresentation depends on the manner that the public takes the investigative report but reports that serve the public interest are likely to gain positive public acquiescence.

However, as a risk, this can be addressed by practicing public responsibility in order to justify the exaggeration or downplaying of information presented to the public. Thus, media misrepresentation as a moral issue goes beyond mere consideration of right and wrong and extends towards the issue of public safety and welfare since ensuring these forms part of the role of the media in a democratic society.    Works CitedBaron, David P. “Competing for the Public through the News Media.

” Journal of           Economics &            Management Strategy 14.2 (2005): 339–376.Baron, David P. “Persistent Media Madness.

” Journal of Public Economics 90.1-2          (2006): 1-36.Campbell, Vincent. “Science, Public Relations, and the Media: Problems of Knowledge and Interpretation.

” Public Relations: Critical Debates and Contemporary Practice. Eds. Jacquie L’Etang and Magda Pieczka. London: Routledge, 2006.

205-220.Forbes, Derek. A Watchdog’s Guide to Investigative Reporting: A Simple Introduction to        Principles and Practice in Investigative Reporting. Johannesburg: Konrad Adenauer        Stiftung Media Programme, 2005.

Frost, Karen, Erica Frank, and Edward Maibach. “Relative Risk in the News Media: A Quantification of Misrepresentation.” American Journal of Public Health 87.5 (1997): 842-845.

Hewitt, Christopher. “Estimating the Number of Homeless: Media Misrepresentation of an        Urban Problem.” Journal of Urban Affairs 18.4 (1996): 431-447.

Kieran, Matthew, ed. Media Ethics. London: Routledge, 1998.Moy, Partricia, and Mciahel Pfau.

The Media and Public Confidence in Public Institutions.        Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000.Nobles, Richard, and David Schiff. “A Story of Miscarriage: Law in the Media.” Journal           of Law            and Society 31.2 (2004): 221–224.    

Morality Of Organ Donation

Morality of Organ DonationDuring the last century, medical science has taken great developmental strides in terms of how to deal with diseases that formerly were a death sentence for any patient diagnosed with illnesses such as kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and even certain types of blindness.

  The advancement in the areas covered by these illnesses came about because of the scientific discovery that the human body, just like a car, can accept and use spare parts to replace those organs which have ceased to function. It is this discovery that makes organ donation a good thing. But is it a moral thing to do? Should donations be taken from the deceased or from people who are willing to sell their organs in exchange for cash? Is it moral to take organs from people who do it for money? What about accepting the organs of the dead?One of the issues that arise in the debate regarding organ donation is that of the treatment the donor patient or the deceased patient is getting while the organs are being harvested. Harvested.

It makes the person who is donating an organ sound like a farm crop that is ripe for the picking. We can take consolation in knowing that the patient is already clinically dead and that he or she feels no pain because of it. But the opponents of organ donation argue that it is an inhuman act because the body of the person in question must be kept alive using machines until the very last minute when the recipient is prepared to undergo the transplant procedure. How sure can the relative of the donor be that his relative was really dead at the time that his organs were harvested? Human organs go to the highest bidder on the black market.

An enticing idea for an ill intentioned surgeon and his staff.Before any harvesting can occur, the patient must first be declared to be brain dead. There have been disturbing reports that, there is a possibility that in the rush to take the organs of declared dead patients for the people on the mile long waiting list, the person is mistakenly declared dead. There have been accounts of the supposedly dead donor exhibiting signs of pain as the operational procedure to accomplish the harvesting is being done.

If you view organ donation in this light, one would definitely say that organ donation is morally wrong. It is tantamount to legalized murder. But then again, there are those who believe that harvesting organs from the dead in order to use in the living is acceptable based upon the reason that had the patient not died, the organ would still be a healthy functioning part of his system. So why not take the good parts and give it to people who can still use it? Viewing the organ in terms of car usage, one can say that, the organ still has a lot of ride left in it, so why not use it? If he can’t use the organ anymore, why can’t I? Why must the organ die with him when it can still be used by others?The relatives of those who agree to organ donation say that they take solace in knowing that their relative did not die in vain.

When a good functioning heart is donated to a child who was born with a bum heart, or the retina of the deceased is used to give sight to another person, it helps the family of the deceased accept the loss of their loved one. This is because the death of the person close to their hearts ceases to be a death in vain. His death is given reason. That of giving life to another.

This is an argument that makes organ donation a morally acceptable decision for most people. It is also a reason that most organ donor card carrying people tell their detractors. To them, death needs to have a purpose and a reason. If it means that they can extend the life of another, then so be it.

One of the most disturbing arguments against organ donation is that organ donation can be considered as another form of cannibalism. Cannibalism can be defined in this regard as the act of taking organs from one in order to use in another. The human body is now viewed as a source of spare parts rather than a person who once had a life and sense of self value.  But, is it really cannibalism to undertake a procedure that was meant to extend the life of another? When we harvest the organs for donation from a deceased patient, we do not do it because we want to feast on and ingest the body parts.

We do it because it can still serve a useful purpose in another person. What the detractors of organ donation have to remember is that Organ Donation is meant to help doctors accomplish their Hippocratic oath. That of saving and extending lives whenever it is humanly possible to do so. So far, the only life saving procedure that medical science has to offer the suffering and dying is an organ transplant.

Another problem most people have that makes them oppose organ donation is the fact that in the third world countries like the Philippines, the healthy have turned to organ donation as a way to stay alive. They sell their kidney and liver, and other body parts, except for the heart on the black market as a way to earn money. In this respect, organ donation is simply wrong. Body parts do not regenerate and therefore these people risk early deaths if they continue what they are doing.

But, if the healthy person is donating his kidney, liver, retina, etc. to his blood relative, then it becomes an acceptable and moral act.  I have heard of a son who, after his father was diagnosed with kidney failure, donated his kidney anonymously to his father because the hospital had his father at the bottom of the recipient list. His father died the next year.

Asked if he had regretted giving his father his kidney, the son said that he did not. How could he regret it when it gave his father an additional 9 months of life to spend with his family? When viewed in the context of cases such as the previous one I mentioned, organ donation becomes a seemingly acceptable moral obligation.The one thing that I believe everyone agrees upon when it comes to the morality of organ donation is that the act of donation should not have any financial remuneration for the family of the donors. Organs for sale, organs for bidding, simply leave a bad taste in the mouth.

It is socially, consciously, and morally wrong. We are all born with the same set of organs and it is expected to last throughout our lives. Now, except for the kidneys, that we are all born with 2 of, it is simply incomprehensible that one would be willing to part with his organ in order to stay financially afloat. That is like committing suicide in the slowest and most painful way.

Of course there are those who donate anonymously to people they do not even know as a form of repentance for their sins in life. These good Samaritans donate because they have a religious belief that God wants them to donate their organs to those who are in need. They believe that this is a way of spreading God’s love and work. To these people, organ donation is not a matter of morality but a question of salvation of the soul.

I know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself that these people must be mentally incapacitated to inflict such irreversible harm upon their own bodies. The only thing that we are sure of is that these people are looking for salvation in their lives and will do what they think will help them achieve that. I am not really sure if this is a morally acceptable argument in favor of organ donation but I have been raised to believe that each man has his own way of finding salvation and we are not to question how and why.

One can also view organ donation as a way to establish new friendships and bonds. There used to be a time when it was wrong to contact the family of the deceased organ donor. But these days, it is no longer frowned upon and is even encouraged at times in order to help the family of the deceased cope with the death of their loved one and in the same process, help the donor recipient get to know about who the donor was and the story behind the donation. It helps the recipient realize how special his situation is and that he should not take the organ donation process for granted.

Currently, there are about 82,000 Americans awaiting one form or the other of organ transplant. Of this number, a staggering 60% will die before even getting to the middle of the recipient list of the hospitals. All over the country, there is an organ recipient list numbering at least 53,000 in total with a new name being added to the list every 16 minutes. I believe it would be nice to know that there are people out there who carry a donor in the event of a life ending situation occurring for them.

These are the people who will continue to live on in the hearts of the people who survived because they were guided by the moral belief that organ donation is allabout giving some one else a chance to go on living with your help from the beyond.The morality of organ donation is something that will probably divide the medical community and families for decades to come. That is understandable because doctors swear to protect and extend lives, not wait for a patient to die and then think about recycling his healthy vital organs as if he were considering trash recycling methods. For families, there will always be those who will want to bury their loved one with all his body intact.

So that they can remember him as he was during life. There will also be those who will want to donate their organs or the organs of their family members because of the way they can think of their loved ones as still living, but in the body of another person already.There are good, acceptable moral aspects to organ donation. Questions regarding its moral acceptance will also continue to abound.

What everyone has to accept is that until science finds another way recreate the worn down body organs of people, maybe by the equally debatable and scandalous methods of DNA cloning, stem cell research, or other new fangled methods of saving lives, organ donation is the only viable option available to people who need what can be considered as new body parts at the soonest possible time. Until an acceptable alternative is discovered, I will advocate that organ donation is a good thing to do for our fellowman when necessary.                 Work Cited“An Argument Against Organ Donation” . Right Reason: The Weblog for Conservative Philosophers.

17 July 2006. 15 September 2007. <http://rightreason.ektopos.

com/archives/2006/07/an_argument_aga_1.html>.“An Automatic “Yes” to Organ Donation“. SAGA: Doing Things Properly.

2007. 12 September 2007. <http://www.saga.

co.uk/health/healthyliving/bodymatters/Organ-donation.asp>.“Health Talk: Organ Donation”.

Washingtonpost.com. 15 June 1999. 17 September 2007.

<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/health/healthtalk/organ061599.htm>.

“The Importance of Organ Donation” . Motion Picutre Editors Guild Newsletter. May/June 1998. 16 September 2007.

<http://www.editorsguild.com/v2/magazine/Newsletter/MayJun98/organ.html>.

“Would You Give Your Kidney To a Stranger?”. CNN.com . 5 June 2006.

13 September 2007. <http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/06/01/living.

donors/index.html>.“Whose Organs Are They Anyway?” . reason online.

26 June 2003. 14 September 2007. <http://www.reason.com/news/show/32591.html>. 

A Morbid Taste For Bones

A Morbid Taste for Bones is the first and many readers consider the best of Ellis Peters’ chronicles of Brother Cadfael, a Welsh monk during the Middle Ages.  There were a total of twenty books in this series and with the passing of Ellis Peters in 1995, many mourn her death, not just for the sake of her family, but in the knowledge that her faithful readers will never come to the end of Brother Cadfael’s journey.

Peters, who is of Welsh descent, writes her characters in that frame and includes authentic Welsh history within the context of her books. Brother Cadfael’s training as a Benedictine monk and a fighter in The Crusades is a testimony to Peter’s idea of writing a work of fiction but keeping the story in the framework or real historical events. It is an interesting combination that is not seen enough of in modern works of fiction. Peters skillfully weaves historical events into her fictional accounts.

The setting of the story is 12th Century England, a period of great turmoil. Added to the turmoil was the trouble still apparent in the social divisions between the largely Saxon population and their Norman rulers. The fall of the Saxon monarchy was only a hundred years previous and hostility still existed. The context of English oppression and The Crusades is very important in understanding the actions and motivations of Brother Cadfael and the Norman monks and the conflict that arises between the two main factions.

One of the most intriguing and sinister of the Cadfael books, A Morbid Taste for Bones is an example of what can begin with good intentions, but end in evil. While following the general idea of the novel various supporting characters, which was played out for more humor and shock impact in the book; but still it ranks up there with the best of Cadfael as a chilling mystery. “Brother Cadfael himself found nothing strange in his wide-ranging career, and had forgotten nothing and regretted nothing. He saw no contradiction in the delight he had taken in battle and adventure, and the keen pleasure he now found inquietude.

”In A Morbid Taste for Bones, Brother Cadfael is sent with his order of monks, from the Abbey where he currently resides into Wales in order to collect the bones of the abbey’s patron saint Winifred. In a historical context, the importance or relic within Catholic doctrine can not be underestimated. Along with taking part in pilgrimages to The Holy Land and during the early Middle Ages, taking part in The Crusades, the indulgence of visiting and praying to relics was seen as an effective way in cleansing one’s sins and decreasing one’s time in purgatory. Concerning the relics of Saint Winifred, one of the young monks claims that he has a vision declaring that Winifred wants her bones to be buried at The Abby.

Cadfael is chosen because he is the only monk who can speak Welsh. Cadfael is reluctant to do this and is uncomfortable with what he sees as the bullying of the Abby towards this small Welsh village with regard to their chief relic: the bones of Saint Winifred. It does not seem to occur to the Norman monks back in England that the locals in Wales may not be eager to give up the bones of their native saint.As soon as the monks arrive in the village where Saint Winifred is buried, conflict arises Despite Cadfael’s protests (“there is no glory in digging up a girl’s bones”) Abbot Rudolf’s agrees to send a group of monks into Wales to retrieve the bones of the saint.

‘In my church,’ said Huw humbly, ‘I have never heard that the saints desired honour for themselves, but rather to honour God rightly.” There is a challenge among the Welsh people and what seems to be excessive worship of their saint. Cadfael is expected to keep peace between the natives and Prior Robert. And so with Jerome, Robert, Columbanus and several other chosen monks, they travel over the boarder into unfamiliar and unfriendly territory.

Cadfael, the only native Welsh among them, is welcomed more warmly than his companions but the townspeople have no desire to give up their saint. In what serves as a rush to judgment, Prior Robert attempts to bribe the leader of this protest, Lord Rhysart, into allowing them to take Saint Winifred. But this only further enrages the man who thinks ill of those who would “buy a saint,” and he promises that the monks will leave by morning’s light or face peril at the hand of his sword to stop burning passions and tempers among both his own group and those of the Welsh people, Cadfael is horrified when the following morning Rhysart is found dead. The reader finds out that he was shot with an arrow through the heart.

The monks are forced to remain since the Welsh are certain one or more of them had a hand in it. But most of the blame is placed on an outcast who had a vendetta with Rhysart due to his love for the man’s daughter, Sinoed. With the boy on the run, and angry rivalries erupting all around him, Cadfael must attempt to piece together the truth and mark the true murderer before either the wrong felon is hanged, or one among his number goes too far. “He prayed as he breathed, forming no words and making no specific requests, only holding in his heart, like broken birds in cupped hands, all those people who were in stress or in grief because of this little saint, for if he suffered like this for their sake, how much more must she feel for them?”This is an interesting aspect of the book as it talks to a greater historical fact between England and their neighbors on their island.

The Norman Invasion had taken place a century before and the blending of Saxon and English culture helped to create a very powerful country; much more powerful than their neighbor to the North: Scotland, Ireland to the West and Wales, their immediate neighbor to the West. A degree of oppression would exist throughout the Middle Ages and into the Age of The Enlightenment and beyond as centuries of financial and physical oppression levied upon Wales upon England took hold. It is important to place this aspect of the book within historical content in order to fully appreciate this aspect of the story.It is not only the Welsh Christians that are challenged by the Normans but Brother Cadfael himself.

He is repeatedly challenged by the Norman monks who are “fathers” a title given to members of the church that can grant absolution and give pardons for sins. Cadfael is unable to rise to that level because of his past as a soldier and the fact that he killed other men cancels out his chances to become a “father.” But Peters points out a more important impediment within the make up of Brother Cadfael and seemingly, one that Peters feels herself: the fact that Brother Cadfael is of Welsh descent. This completely cancels out his chances of rising to the rank of “father.

”In the midst of the passions that arose from the transfer of the bones, a death occurs that will serve as an impediment to his order as a monk. “Brother Cadfael himself found nothing strange in his wide-ranging career, and had forgotten nothing and regretted nothing. He saw no contradiction in the delight he had taken in battle and adventure, and the keen pleasure he now found inquietude.”  In the end, Cadfael’s somber warning may come to fruition.

“Have a care with visionaries; they are not always biddable.”  From the murder, Cadfael will uncover hidden passions and secrets about himself which cannot help but seem foreign and serve as interior conflict within a man who is an ex-Crusader and one who is among one of the strictest orders in Christendom. Peters’ stories of Brother Cadfael and his fellow brothers of the cloth give one a rare view into the workings of the medieval mind and a curious and often turbulent time in the history of England. She writes her characters as human, sometimes all-too-human with quirks that even the holiest of monks can display, and an interesting view of the miracles and prayers to saints that were a central part of medieval worship.

One can appreciate that she writes with both respect and reverence for the historical church, while still offering glimpses of the common foibles of human men of God. She creates characters that often highlight the dangers of ecclesiastical pride, and targets the pitfalls of those who used the blind beliefs of the uneducated as a key to amassing their own personal influence and power.Her treatment of the Welsh passions and culture, so foreign to Cadfael’s fellow monks, showed a clear understanding of the wisdom of Welsh culture, and the reason the Welsh church avoided many of the faults of its English counterpart. Due to the fact that A Morbid Taste for Bones is what is referred to as a historical novel, understanding the role of The Catholic Church in Medieval English culture is essential.

Also, the role that the Norman Conquest within England and England’s treatment of her immediate neighbors during that time can be seen in the book as the motivation of the Abbey monks and their complete disregard for Welsh culture and tradition as they forcefully take the bones of Wales’s most honored saint.

Works Cited

  1. Peters, Ellis. A Morbid Taste for Bones. London: Mysterious Press, 1994.

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