Conquest of Paradise

Saturday, October 13, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.  The song Conquest of Paradise from the movie 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), which retold the story of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of a New World:

At two o’clock in the morning the land was discovered, at two leagues’ distance; they took in sail and remained under the square-sail lying to till day, which was Friday, when they found themselves near a small island, one of the Lucayos, called in the Indian language Guanahani. Presently they descried people, naked, and the Admiral landed in the boat, which was armed, along with Martin Alonzo Pinzon, and Vincent Yanez his brother, captain of the Nina. The Admiral bore the royal standard, and the two captains each a banner of the Green Cross, which all the ships had carried; this contained the initials of the names of the King and Queen each side of the cross, and a crown over each letter Arrived on shore, they saw trees very green many streams of water, and diverse sorts of fruits.

Continue reading...

Columbus, Catholicism and Courage

Monday, October 8, AD 2012

“This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky. “

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

This is one of those years in which the government decreed Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, does not fall on October 12, the date, under the Julian calendar, when Columbus discovered the New World.  Columbus Day is observed also in Spain as Dia de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional and as the charmingly unpc Dia de la Raza in most Latin American nations.

In this country Columbus Day used to be an uncomplicated celebration, especially for Italian Americans.  Now it has become controversial with Columbus blamed in some quarters for genocide against Indians and being the founder of the American slave trade.  As Dinesh D’Souza pointed out in this article in 1995 in First Things, the condemnation of Columbus today tells us far more about current political battles than it does about the historical record of Columbus.  From a modern standpoint there is indeed much to criticize Columbus for since, in most ways, he was a typical man of his time, as we are, in most ways, typical children of ours.  Among other views inimical to our time,  he saw nothing wrong about establishing colonies and bringing native peoples under the rule of European powers.  He had little respect for the religions of native people and wanted them to be Catholic, as, indeed, he wanted all the world to be Catholic.  (I see nothing wrong in this myself, but rest assured most of our contemporaries in this country would.)

Prior to ascending the pulpit to launch a jeremiad against someone of a prior time however, it might be useful to consider the criticisms that Columbus might have of our time.  The embrace of nihilistic atheism by so many in the West in our time would have appalled him. The easy availability of the most degrading types of pornography would have sickened him.  Our weapons of mass destruction he would have seen as a sign of the reign of the Anti-Christ.  Ecumenicalism he would have viewed as a turning away from the True Faith.  The celebration of abortion as a right would have seemed to him as the ultimate covenant with death.  The Sixties of the last century popularized the term generation gap, describing the difficulty that parents and their teenage offspring had in understanding each other.  Between our time and that of Columbus there is a generations’ chasm and the use of Columbus as a whipping boy in current political disputes only increases our problem of understanding him and his time.

Continue reading...

13 Responses to Columbus, Catholicism and Courage

  • Pingback: MONDAY AFTERNOON EDITION | Big Pulpit
  • Great poem & post.
    Holy Mary…..Paints…….Girl
    I love the names of the three ships and then a generation later Holy Mary paints a self-portrait on the tilma of a poor Indian living near Mexico City. Juan Diego has the image and the paints still to this day can not be identified. Our Lady, Christopher Columbus, Juan Diego. 8 million Indians convert to the Faith, while 3 million leave in the reformation. Thank God for Christopher Columbus.

  • what was the movie that was shown above please? I find that interesting. Also, I have been to Geneva many times and tis a very beautiful place 🙂 I love your article! Peace be upon you always!

  • Good Evening Don,

    I have not seen 1492 and my knowledge of Columbus’ voyages is woefully inadequate.

    Was he movie a fair representation and is it something an 11 and/or an 8 year old could see?

  • I really can’t say G-Veg as I have never seen the film. This clip is impressive, but not long enough to judge the film. The Columbus film from 1949 with Frederic March in the starring role would probably be a good one for an eight year old:

    It is out on DVD:

  • Thanks.

    We cut the kids off feom TV from Sunday afternoon until Friday afternoon. In the short weeks since school started, the positive results have been dramatic. Grades are up, pictures are drawn, Knex are built with, rough-housing abounds… I’m trying now to bring some cultural knowledge into their lives: Zane Grey, Robinson Crusoe, Peter Pan… On Friday or Saturday knights we’ve been throwing in some John Wayne, Young Frankenstein, and such… Movies with some historical or myth value might be helpful. I need to pick up a copy of the Christian classics too like The Greatest Story Ever Told and A Man For All Seasons.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    God Bless.

  • And by “knights” I mean “nights” of course.

  • Vasco da Gama, Columbus’ friendly rival and the eventual Admiral of India laboured to find a route behind the Muslims to India, by going the other way round the globe.Henry the Navigator launched the Iberians on a worldwide mission largely to circumvent and defeat the Muslims who had a stranglehold on the Levant, This makes those hard Catholics unpopular with various quarters, sometimes with good reason when they were greedy and cruel but more often due to plain jealousy, since there is only one Earth and the Catholics were the first off the mark.

  • Someone wrote that Columbus Day was instituted after “years of lobbying” to celebrate the contributions of immigrants, in general, and Catholics, in particular.

    From Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit:

    “HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY: Many in the West will demonstrate their fierce originality and intellectual independence today by condemning Christopher Columbus using the same shopworn cliches they used last year. For those of a different bent, I recommend Samuel Eliot Morison’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, which takes a somewhat different position.”

    Admiral Morison’s, Two Ocean War, is also excellent.

    Question for the day, “Why do they hate us?”

  • T Shaw.
    Rhetorical question?

    To hate any organization that respects obedience and finds true freedom within the yoke of obedience is my guess.

    It’s much easier to tear down than build up.

    Viva Christopher Columbus!
    God Bless America!
    Without God there is no America!
    Without God there is no true Freedom! Look around the world and believe your eyes!

  • Philip,

    Rhetorical: I think they hate truth and virtue. I saw this elsewhere today. They would deny us free will to impose on us their will.