Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Oprobrium

“Back in the car, Lilijana broke the silence. “Are you going to say anything?”

“Kelvin says I’m a model citizen. He’ll have both of the charges dismissed.”

“Dismissed. You’re going to say you didn’t do it?”

“I didn’t try to crack onto Naydine.”

She stared. David was about to tell her to watch the road when she turned away and said, “But you thought about it, didn’t you?”


-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 19

I am indebted to Mary Shelley for introducing me to this word. I love it. It means public disgrace. Shelley used it to describe Victor Frankenstein’s plight but many real life public figures, people with huge profiles, like movie stars, sportstars and politicians have tumbled embarrassingly out of favour. Plummeted from the heights of adulation and respect into the mire of opobrium. Regular folk, like you and I, also crash and burn sometimes but we do it within the relative safety of obscurity. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has things they are not proud of, things which they hope will never come to anyone’s attention. Present or past actions which we hope will not have negative consequences despite their perilous and perhaps foolish nature. Sometimes we blindly stumble down the wide road which leads to destruction. Other times we choose it. The narrow path is much harder to find and much more difficult to continue along. Ironically choosing the right path can lead to public disgrace. I’m thinking about Jesus: his public trail and execution, despite his innocence.

As we stand behind the crash barrier and watch the carnage of another’s opobrium, we may be tempted to say “I told you so”, or to revel in their demise. We may take vicarious pleasure in their pain, or at the very least thank God that it was not us who suffered, that we are not like them. We may be like the Pharisee Jesus talked about, who entered the temple and thanked God that he was not like the tax collector who was there with him. We would do well to consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:12 “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands, take heed lest he fall.”
P.S. This post comes to you from a flash hotel in the heart of Sydney where we are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, and where we are being charged $14.95 for the privilege of using the hotel's wireless network...did I hear someone say "rip off"? Did I hear someone else say why are you on the computer when you are in a fancy hotel room with your wife?


  1. I was thinking that actually. (the part about writing while on your anniversary) but I understand. A to Z happened 17 years after you got married after all.
    Happy Anniversary.

    1. Thanks Melanie. For visiting, for commenting and for your good wishes.

  2. Happy Anniversary and yes, get off the computer and enjoy your time with your wife. (: And thank you for introducing me to the word opprobrium.

  3. Happy anniversary! That is some seriously expensive WiFi, and yes, get back to your wife.

    Opprobrium is an excellent word. While I don't actually remember it from FRANKENSTEIN—it's been a few years—I admire Mary Shelley greatly. She was one of the most intelligent, intriguing women of her time and no stranger to opprobrium herself.

    VR Barkowski

  4. We get hammered in Australia and have been overcharged for decades courtesy of a government established monopoly of telephony services. Anyway, thanks for your well wishes and I agree with you on Shelley.