Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, December 31, AD 2015

Benedict-XV 

The cheapest and most childish of all the taunts of the Pacifists is, I think, the sneer at belligerents for appealing to the God of Battles. It is ludicrously illogical, for we obviously have no right to kill for victory save when we have a right to pray for it. If a war is not a holy war, it is an unholy one — a massacre.

                                                                                  G.K. Chesterton, October 23, 1915

(Rudyard Kipling was born one hundred and fifty years ago yesterday on December 30, 1865.  To observe the date I am reposting this post from 2011.  On all that I have written about Kipling, and that is now a considerable amount, this is my favorite piece. I would observe in passing that both Chesterton and CS Lewis, although they differed considerably from Kipling’s views on many topics, were both fans of him as a writer.)

The eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here and here.   Kipling wrote quite a few poems during his lifetime.  Some are world-famous, most are not, and some are today almost completely forgotten.   The Holy War (1917) is today one of Kipling’s most obscure poems, but caused something of a stir when he wrote it in Advent during 1917.

A tinker out of Bedford,
A vagrant oft in quod,
A private under Fairfax,
A minister of God–
Two hundred years and thirty
Ere Armageddon came
His single hand portrayed it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

He mapped, for those who follow,
The world in which we are–
 ‘This famous town of Mansoul’
That takes the Holy War
Her true and traitor people,
The gates along her wall,
From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
John Bunyan showed them all.

All enemy divisions,
Recruits of every class,
 And highly-screened positions
For flame or poison-gas,
The craft that we call modern,
The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had ’em typed and filed
In Sixteen Eighty-two

Likewise the Lords of Looseness
That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
 And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
Who crack beneath a strain–
John Bunyan met that helpful set
In Charles the Second’s reign.

Emmanuel’s vanguard dying
For right and not for rights,
My Lord Apollyon lying
 To the State-kept Stockholmites,
 The Pope, the swithering Neutrals,
The Kaiser and his Gott–
 Their roles, their goals, their naked souls–
He knew and drew the lot.

Now he hath left his quarters,
 In Bunhill Fields to lie.
The wisdom that he taught us
Is proven prophecy–
One watchword through our armies,
One answer from our lands–
 ‘No dealings with Diabolus
 As long as Mansoul stands.

_A pedlar from a hovel,
The lowest of the low,
The father of the Novel,
Salvation’s first Defoe,
Eight blinded generations
Ere Armageddon came,
He showed us how to meet it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

At one level the poem is a fairly straight-forward paean to John Bunyan, the English writer who penned Pilgrims’s Progress, which every school child used to read back in days when schools spent far more time on academics and far less time on political indoctrination and fake subjects like “Consumer Ed”.  He also wrote quite a few other books and pamphlets, perhaps the best known of which is The Holy War, which portrays a war for the City of Mansoul between the good defenders and the evil besiegers.  I need not spell out the allegorical meaning of the work when the city’s named is rendered as Man Soul.  Kipling had been a devotee of Bunyan since his childhood, and I suppose that part of his motivation in writing the poem was to pay back a literary debt.

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11 Responses to Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

  • I learned more history about WW I in this essay than I did in all my years of public schooling.

  • I too am a big fan of Kipling. An added benefit is that liberals’ heads explode when I mention his name.
    .
    Not all liberals, tho. My father (old soldier, Kipling man) was still with us and able to attend my son’s US Army commissioning ceremony at the lovely chapel in Fordham U. We were all pleasantly surprised when, after Father President gave the benediction, another Jesuit priest (apparently he does this every year) did a fine reading of Kipling’s “Recessional.”
    .

    Kipling’s short stories are valuable, as well.
    .

    .

  • It is hard to see how Great Britain could have seen WWI as anything other than a war that must be fought through to a just victory, a “holy war” perfectly valid against the Kaiser and his ruthless military leadership.

    Just for one point, it was the first use of senseless aerial bombing (both Zeppelin and early long-range bombers) against civilian population centers, needlessly killing hundreds and wounding hundreds more.

  • The irony is that Kipling did get his wish concerning German militarism, but only in 1945, and after Foch’s twenty year armistice.

  • (World War I) was the first use of senseless aerial bombing (both Zeppelin and early long-range bombers) against civilian population centers, needlessly killing hundreds and wounding hundreds more.
    Steve Phoenix

    Aerial bombing of civilian population centers was an easily anticipated response to Britain’s Starvation Blockade (yes, that’s what the British Government openly called it) barring all shipping, even from neutrals and even of food, to Germany. The other noteworthy response of Germany to Britain’s plan to starve civilians to death en masse was her submarine warfare against British shipping and other ships carrying war materiel to Britain. By the way, British practice was to mingle passenger ships within convoys of warships and armed merchant ships carrying war material to Britain. Think about that when the current heir to Wilson’s positions as Democrat party leader and US President complains about ISIS positioning its fighters among civilians.

    2016 is the 100th anniversary of Woodrow “He Kept Us Out Of War” Wilson’s re-election. Yes, the Democrat KKK-fanboy marched the USA right into war after his re-election. There were over 300,000 casualties of young American men, over 100,000 of which were deaths. (But to hear the feminist Mrs. Clinton tell it, women had it worse.)

  • Great article, just correct:
    In 1907 Pope BENEDiCT….

    By the way, yeah on Pope Pius XIi, but he was silent too many times and the Second War was clearer where was the evil.

    Best regards,
    Pedro

  • Thanks for catching that Pedro. I have made the correction. During World War II nobody was criticizing the Pope for silences. Everyone knew where he stood.

  • “yes, that’s what the British Government openly called it)”

    No, that is what the Kaiser’s government called it as part of their propaganda. Germany imported food from the Netherlands and Scandinavia throughout the War. Due to their victories against Russia, they had access to the grain producing regions of Poland and the Ukraine during the latter part of the War. German food rationing, and stealing food from conquered areas, kept starvation from happening in Germany, hysterical Teutonic propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding.

    ” marched the USA right into war after his re-election.”

    The Republicans were much more eager for War against the Central Powers than Wilson. His hand was forced by the Zimmerman telegram in which Germany promised Mexico parts of the US in exchange for Mexican support of Germany in any war between Germany and the US.

  • You are always welcome.
    Yes everyone knew and he even plotted to kill Hitler, but the own Pius xii recognized his silence in his speeches as Pope.
    I recommend the excellent book “The church of spies” . Riebling clarifies.
    Best regards,
    Pedro

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  • Yes, I agree that we should do something about our schools – voting comes to mind

Calling Flannery O’Connor

Monday, July 28, AD 2014

wise-blood-flannery-oconner-cd-cover-art

“I’m a member and preacher to that church where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way.”

Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

I have always been vastly amused by atheists who seek to ape Christian services.  These throw the substance out and keep the often banal trappings.  If I were an atheist I would sleep in on Sunday mornings, or work, or do something fun.  However, some atheists believe, if I may use that term, otherwise:

“The Sunday Assembly model is more like an Evangelical Christian church but without God. Music and clapping, active participation, short talks, humour and pop music.”

The service or the “show” (no-one is quite sure what to call it) fairly fizzes along, although there is a long moment’s silence, at which the congregation is invited to “turn down their inner volume knob” and, in a little dig at the idea that only God can bring meaning, “be grateful to this impersonal universe that you have a place, and people in it that love you”.

But mostly the emphasis is upbeat and life-affirming. At one point members of the congregation are literally dancing in the aisles as the band plays a cover of Jesus Jones’s Right Here, Right Now before speakers step up to “share” on a range of topics around the theme of “balance”.

One member talks about coping with depression; then a life-coach talks about the importance of self-knowledge that isn’t narcissism while a third – it being Mother’s Day – talks movingly about his mother’s battle with an abusive husband and his decision to respect, rather than to mock, her Christian faith.

It all ends with a quotation from Albert Einstein – “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving” – before coffee and doughnuts are served, followed by lunch at a local Southern Barbecue restaurant.

Soon the hall is filled with running children, suddenly released from the discipline of having to sit through the service, a joyous cacophony which also points to one unavoidable similarity between going to Sunday Assembly and going to church.

“The kids still moan about it,” admits Craig Mueller, a lapsed Catholic who has four children under 10 and comes to the service because he enjoys the sense of community. “I tell my nine-year-old son, it’s time to go to Sunday Assembly and he’s like ‘Argh, no, boring!’”

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7 Responses to Calling Flannery O’Connor

  • In Britain, Ethical Societies were very much in vogue in the 19th century and lingered on into the 20th.
    In his Autobiography, G K Chesterton paints a delightful portrait of one of them.
    “On one occasion I had been lecturing to an Ethical Society, when I happened to see on the wall a portrait of Priestley, the great Unitarian of a hundred years ago. I remarked that it was a very fine engraving; and one of the faithful, to whom I was speaking, replied that it had probably been hung there because the place was quite recently a Unitarian chapel; I think he said only a few years before. I was considerably intrigued, knowing that the old Unitarians were as dogmatic as Moslems on the one point of the One God, and that the ethical group were as undogmatic as any agnostics upon that particular dogma.” That is very interesting,” I said. “May I ask whether the whole of your society abandoned Theism all at once and in a body?”
    “Well, no,” he replied rather hazily, “I don’t fancy it was exactly like that. I rather think the fact was that our leaders wanted very much to have Dr. Stanton Coit as a preacher, and he wouldn’t come unless the thing was simply an Ethical Society.” … By this theory, God Almighty had been dropped out of the whole business, as a concession to Dr. Stanton Coit. “

    The Priestley of the story is, of course, the Yorkshire-born Joseph Priestley FRS, latterly of Northumberland, Penn, who first isolated Oxygen.
    Coit, a leader of the Ethical Movement, born in Ohio, settled in England. Intriguingly, his Ethical Church building in Bayswater, West London, a former Methodist chapel, was acquired in 1953 by the Archdiocese of Westminster and is now a Catholic church.

  • Before I read your closing paragraph, I was just going to say they could have saved themselves the trouble and just headed on down to the nearest Unitarian Universalist assembly.

    At my mother-in-law’s funeral at her UU “church” this past December, we were treated to a bunch of flowery poetry and “good vibes” and even multicultural references to other religious traditions. The only mention of God came when my wife got up to speak, and she mentioned the entire Trinity and the Blessed Mother for good measure.

    After the memorial service, my wife received many compliments on her remarks, including from one long-time UU congregant who said “It’s about time someone mentioned God in this church.”

  • I do like O’Connor’s remark about Holy Communion to a Baptist (or some such) friend, “well if He’s not in it, then to hell with it.” (or something like that)

  • “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” To keep your balance you must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” (Caesar belongs to God)
    .
    “…and people in it that love you.” I cannot belong to any community who dares to refer to me as a thing, a “that”, a non-person, a soulless beast of burden to the state and community…the underpinnings of slavery.

  • Some people will not accept the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Virgin Birth. Therefore, they cannot accept that Christ is true man and true God. The “God” referred to is God the Father, not the triune God and the Trinity, but God much like Allah.

  • Hilarious!
    But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And to lecture rooms is forced,
    Where his aunts, who are not married,
    Demand to be divorced.

    And in more modern parlance, these unmarried aunts demand every form of contraceptive be made available to them without co-pays.

  • I think what Chesterton is referring to is that these people demand to speak for us, all persons.
    .
    Every teacher in every school who denies our immortal, metaphysical human soul, using the intellect of his immortal, metaphysical human soul is a fake, a hypocrite and a liar.

Triumph of the King

Sunday, March 24, AD 2013

zechariah

(This is my regular post for Palm Sunday which I repost each year.  Have a happy and blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.)

“9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.”

Thus did the prophet Zechariah, writing half a millennium before, predict the entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  How many such glorious entrances into cities have there been over the ages?  Every civilization I am aware of has such ceremonies, either parades in peace time or entrances of conquest or liberation in war time.  The Romans turned this into an art form with their triumphs, with the reminder of the slave to the imperator of  fleeting human mortality: “Respice post te, hominem memento te”.

Few such triumphs have turned into utter disaster as quickly as that of Jesus:  Jerusalem at His feet on Sunday, and Christ dead on a Roman Cross before the sun had set on Friday.  Small wonder that no contemporary historian or chronicler at the time took note.  However some sort of official report probably was filed after the crucifixion.  Writing circa 116 AD, and relying heavily on official records for his history, in regard to the great fire at Rome under Emperor Nero Tacitus states:

“15.44.2. But, despite kindly influence, despite the leader’s generous handouts, despite appeasing the gods, the scandal did not subside, rather the blaze came to be believed to be an official act. So, in order to quash the rumour, Nero blamed it on, and applied the cruelest punishments to, those sinners, whom ordinary people call Christians, hating them for their shameful behaviour. 15.44.3. The originator of this name, Christ, was sentenced to torture by Procurator Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius, but although checked for a moment, the deadly cult erupted again, not just in Judaea, the source of its evil, but even in Rome, where all the sins and scandals of the world gather and are glorified.”

Tacitus, clearly hostile to the Christians, points his finger at one of the great mysteries of history.  In human terms the Jesus movement was nipped in the bud at its inception.  Yet in less than three centuries the Roman emperor bowed before the cross.  The triumph of Palm Sunday led only to disaster, and the humiliation and death of the cross led to triumph in eternity and here on Earth.

For we Catholics, and for all other Christians, no explanation of this paradoxical outcome is needed.  However there is much here to ponder for non-believers and non-Christians.  In purely human terms the followers of Christ had no chance to accomplish anything:  no powerful supporters, no homeland embracing their faith, cultures, both Jewish and Gentile, which were hostile to the preaching of the Gospels, other religions which were well-established, the list of disadvantages could go on at considerable length.  We take the victory of Christianity for granted because it happened.  We forget how very improbable such a victory was. Even more improbable is that what began on Palm Sunday, the triumph of Jesus, has continued till today in spite of all challenges that two thousand years of human folly could cast up.  How very peculiar in mortal terms!

Let us give the last word to the patron saint of paradox G. K. Chesterton:

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11 Responses to Triumph of the King

  • ” ..still plot how God shall die.”
    So true!
    Same kings. Same outcome.
    Viva Cristo Rey!

  • As I reflect on the situation of first century Christianity vis a vis the Roman Empire, I wonder if the main contender for allegience isn’t the individual as we’ve thought for the past few centuries, but the kings and realms of the earth. Daniel saw the empires of the world finally swallowed up in the Kingdom of God. St. John saw that, too.

  • Jon-
    Maybe both. In scripture man and nation are at times one in the same.
    The blood that soaked the arena made way for the conversion of an Empire.
    Is it possible today?
    I hope so.

  • Phillip, that’s right. God judges individuals and nations. We see him dealing with both levels throughout the scriptural story.

    As to your question, all promises of scripture find their conclusion in the life hereafter if not in this one. That too is true both at the individual and collective levels. It is true for each Chtristian’s life as well as for the nations or the world. Who is to say how much is attained before Christ’s return and how much will constitute the culmination of the kingdom at his coming? I often wonder that. But I have seen enough change at the level of individual lives to know that some things are realized even now.

  • Jon-
    Gods timing is mystery.
    The following site is worth speculation.
    Throughout history eucharistic miracles appear for individuals as well as nations.
    This one in Pope Francis’ backyard is somewhat recent as far as this type of miracle goes.
    http://www.loamagazine.org/nr/the_main_topic/eucharistic_miracle_in_buenos.html

    As for me, I see a miracle every Sunday.

    Enjoy.

  • Yes, God’s timing is a mystery. Well-put, phillip. I don’t doubt God could bring it all about now. I believe he can do anything that’s in keeping with his character. The question always is, does he want to, and if so, when will he do it. As far as the eucharistic thing goes, I’m really not big on the idea of articulating what happens there. I know it’s commemorative, and it also looks forward to Christ’s return. We do it collectively, and it seems there is something spiritual to it, that it’s a mystery to some extent. I don’t want to say it becomes the body and blood of Christ because I’m not sure that makes sense. I don’t doubt God could implement that if he wanted to, but I’m not sure that’s what his Word is sayin to us. And to be truthfully frank, I fear the devil may come at times to reorient us. I worry about apparitions and things of that sort. Garabandal, for instance, concerned me. I have concerns about these things.

  • Jon-
    I appreciate your caution to things supernatural.
    When Jesus was accused of “devil works” after some miraculous healing was accomplished He didn’t cease.
    Nor will He continue to today.
    The world is in great need of healing, and His Word and Spirit will achieve the harvest He wants.
    As baptized adopted brothers in Christ I wish you and your loved ones a joyous Eastertide.
    Blessings Jon.

  • Drivel. This does not hold true for people my age, born in the deep South at the end of the depression into once upper or upper-middle-class families who lost all their money. Because of this, neither of my parents attended college. Both were “college material”. esp. my mother, who was considered “brilliant” by all who knew her and worked with her.

    Also, both of my sons-in-law are from middle-class families, both are educated, and both have pick-ups. One would be considered upper-middle class. They are both Texans.

  • I can only assume EE that you did not mean to post this comment in regard to this post since it seems to be completely unrelated to your comment.

  • TX is number 14 (of 57 states, if you’re a liberal) in the latest US state rankings for “freedom.” ND and SD are 1 and 2.

    I have always beleived that Jesus would have driven a Ford F-150.

  • T-Shaw-
    Thats funny!

    EE –
    ????

    Donald-
    Yup.

Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

Monday, January 28, AD 2013

 

As a highly Pagan poet said to me: “The Reformation happened because people hadn’t the brains to understand Aquinas.” The Church is more immortally important than the State; but the State has its rights, for all that. This Christian duality had always been implicit, as in Christ’s distinction between God and Caesar, or the dogmatic distinction between the natures of Christ.
But St. Thomas has the glory of having seized this double thread as the clue to a thousand things; and thereby created the only creed in which the saints can be sane. It presents itself chiefly, perhaps, to the modern world as the only creed in which the poets can be sane. For there is nobody now to settle the Manichees; and all culture is infected with a faint unclean sense that Nature and all things behind us and below us are bad; that there is only praise to the highbrow in the height. St. Thomas exalted God without lowering Man; he exalted Man without lowering Nature. Therefore, he made a cosmos of common sense; terra viventium; a land of the living.
His philosophy, like his theology, is that of common sense.
He does not torture the brain with desperate attempts to explain existence by explaining it away. The first steps of his mind are the first steps of any honest mind; just as the first virtues of his creed could be those of any honest peasant.

G.K. Chesterton

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12 Responses to Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

  • It is worth recalling Etienne Gilson’s comments on Chesterton’s biography of St Thomas.

    “I consider it as being without possible comparison the best book ever written on St. Thomas. Nothing short of genius can account for such an achievement. Everybody will no doubt admit that it is a “clever” book, but the few readers who have spent twenty or thirty years in studying St. Thomas Aquinas, and who, perhaps, have themselves published two or three volumes on the subject, cannot fail to perceive that the so-called “wit” of Chesterton has put their scholarship to shame. He has guessed all that which they had tried to demonstrate, and he has said all that which they were more or less clumsily attempting to express in academic formulas. “

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  • I have started Etienne Gilson’s Elements of Christian Philosophy. I will admit that it has been on the shelf for awhile. Just couldn’t get past the first chapter. Then, as a lark, I read it out loud. Ah, what a difference. Maybe I’ll try the same with Mr. Chesterton’s treatment of the Angelic Doctor. It’s been sitting awhile, too.

    Wasn’t it Stacy Trasancos that sighed longing for a relationship with the Catholic religion that went beyond the bookshelf?

  • One philosophic error of Aquinas, contrary to Chesterton, seems to be that he exhalted man while lowering God. Or that he at least opened the back door to humanism.

  • Not at all. Aquinas believed that God gave us our intellects by which we could understand much about Him. However he also understood that the human mind could never hope to entirely fathom God and that what the mind cannot understand the human heart often can. Near the end of his life Thomas had a mystical experience and stopped writing. He explained it to one of his fellow Dominicans:

    “I adjure you by the living almighty God, and by the faith you have in our order, and by charity that you strictly promise me you will never reveal in my lifetime what I tell you. Everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.”

  • The critique I’ve come across is that Aquinas lacked a ‘high’ view of the Fall. He didn’t take into account the profound effect the Fall had on our intellect. This seems to have elevated nature on a par with grace to where nature would soon dethrone grace, i.e. the humanist ‘renaissance.’

  • Jon

    It is important to distinguish between St Thomas’s own teaching and that of some of his commentators, especially Suarez and his successors. They had talked of a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel. This “two-tier” account of nature and grace was based on this view that the addition of “grace” was something super-added to a human nature that was already complete and sufficient in itself and apart from any intrinsic human need.

    To rebut this misunderstanding of St Thomas was a central aim of the Nouvelle Théologie and united such such disparate thinkers as Blondel, Maréchal, the Dominicans, Chenu and Congar and the Jesuits, Lubac and Daniélou. Their central thesis was that the natural and the supernatural do not have utterly separate ends in and of themselves and that this is the teaching of St Thomas.

  • “The critique I’ve come across is that Aquinas lacked a ‘high’ view of the Fall.”

    “In this way the sin of the first parents is the cause of death and of all like defects in human nature. For the sin of the first parents removed original justice; through this not only were the lower powers of the soul held harmoniously under the control of reason but the whole body was subordinated to the soul without any defect…. Once, therefore, original justice was lost through the sin of the first parents, just as human nature was injured in soul by the disordering of the powers, so also it became corruptible by reason of the disturbance of the body’s order. (Summa Theologiae I-I1, 85, 5)”

    The Angelic Doctor used the imagery of wounds to liken the effect of original sin on human souls and human nature. I do not think that Aquinas viewed the Fall as anything but devastating when it came to its impact on Man.

  • There’s a line – it may in fact have been from Chesterton describing Thomists – that you learn more about them by reading their works than you learn about their subject. I don’t see how you could fault Aquinas for errors in emphasis without having a full picture of his thinking. Aquiring that picture would take at least a lifetime – but oh, what a life it would be.

  • My one problem with Chesterton’s book is that he set up Augustine and the Augustinians as the bad guys (or to put it better, the bearers of a less sane understanding). There may be truth in that. But I haven’t been able to reconcile it with the fact that the Dominicans were essentially an Augustinian order.

  • Chesterton didn’t like ambiguity or anything approaching a fideistic stance. So he would have held to that sentiment about Augustine. Chesterton liked that Aquinas affirmed the world and the mind and probably felt Augustine in some sense disparaged them both. But that was Chesterton–his personality and inclination.

  • St Augustine was a Platonist and, as Mgr Ronald Knox puts it, “The issue hangs on the question whether the Divine Fact is something given, or something to be inferred. Your Platonist, satisfied that he has formed his notion of God without the aid of syllogisms or analogies, will divorce reason from religion”

Christ and Saint Francis

Thursday, October 4, AD 2012

While the Vicar of Christ listened attentively to a parable told by Francis and its interpretation, he was quite amazed and recognised without a doubt that Christ had spoken in this man.  But he also confirmed a vision he had recently received from heaven, that, as the Divine Spirit indicated, would be fulfilled in this man.  He saw in a dream, as he recounted, the Lateran basilica almost ready to fall down.  A little poor man, small and scorned, was propping it up with his own back bent so that it would not fall.  “I’m sure,” he said, “he is the one who will hold up Christ’s Church by what he does and what he teaches.”  Because of this, filled with exceptional devotion, he bowed to the request in everything and always loved Christ’s servant with special love.  Then he granted what was asked and promised even more.  He approved the rule, gave them a mandate to preach penance, and had small tonsures given to all the lay brothers, who were accompanying the servant of God, so that they could freely preach the word of God.

                                                                                     Saint Bonaventure

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi.  Of all the saints, I have thought that Saint Francis attempted most closely to follow in the footsteps of Christ, and that is why he was granted that mysterious sign of love, the stigmata.  G.K. Chesterton tells us how the life of Saint Francis helped to illuminate aspects of the earthly life of His Master:

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4 Responses to Christ and Saint Francis

  • St. Francis, pray for us.

  • Thank you so much. Here is St Francis prayer honoring Mary.

    Hail Lady, Holy Queen, Holy Mary Theotokos,
    who are the Virgin made church ·
    and the one chosen by the Most Holy Father of Heaven,
    whom He consecrated with His Most Holy Beloved Son and with the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete;
    in whom there was and is all fullness of grace and every good.
    Hail His Palace; Hail His Tabernacle; Hail His Home.
    Hail His Vestment; Hail His Handmaid; Hail His Mother
    · and hail all you holy virtues, which through the grace and illumination of the Holy Spirit are infused into the hearts of the faithful, so that from those unfaithful you make them faithful to God.

    I add this today because she is our claimed protector and patron of our beautiful America.

  • Will toddle over to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and make a prayer visit.

    St. Francis, pray for us.

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The Game is Ever Afoot

Sunday, May 6, AD 2012

Time to refresh my creds as Chief Geek of the blog.  Season 2 of the series Sherlock is debuting in America on Mystery tonight on most PBS channels at 8:00 PM Central Time.  The series is a grand bringing of Sherlock Holmes into the present century.  It is wittily written, part send up of the original Holmes created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and part homage.  The improbably named Benedict Cumberbatch is superb in the title role, playing Holmes as a genius as a detective and a moron in dealing with all of humanity, but for Dr.  Watson.  Dr. Watson, Martin Freeman, is a British medical officer, fresh from traumatic injuries due to his service in Afghanistan (yes, the more things change, often the more they stay the same), who blogs about Holmes’ exploits as part of his therapy.  I highly endorse the series for anyone who likes to either think or laugh.

Sherlock Holmes is a prime example of a literary creation that completely escapes from his creator.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew tired of Holmes and attempted to kill him off, only relenting to bringing him back after his “death” at the Reichenbach Falls due to unceasing demands from Holmes’ devoted, if not crazed, fans.  Doyle tended to look down his nose at Holmes:  “If I had never touched Holmes, who has tended to obscure my higher work, my position in literature would at the present moment be a more commanding one,” he once wrote, which is a hoot since his other writings were the most forgettable drek imaginable.  Doyle wrote the last of his Sherlock Holmes stories in 1926 and died in 1930.  Since that time not a year has gone by without authors trying their hands at new Holmes stories, and placing Holmes in every setting imaginable including the distant future, outer space, fantasy realms, etc.

The continuing popularity of Holmes is something of a mystery, which is appropriate.  It is hard to attribute it to simply love of mystery stories, since most mystery sleuths are dead as soon as their creators shuffle off this vale of tears.    Perhaps it is because Holmes, through his powers of observation, can so simply and swiftly glean the truth.  What an all important ability to possess!  Alas the same could not be said for his creator, Sir Arthur.  He deserted Catholicism for spiritualism (seances and that sort of rubbish) which is akin to feasting on a rich mud pie and then developing a fondness for eating actual mud.  GK. Chesterton, who drew illustrations for an unpublished, during his lifetime, edition of the Holmes story, upon learning of Doyles’ conversion had this memorable quip:  It has long seemed to me that Sir Arthur’s mentality is much more that of Watson than it is of Holmes.

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26 Responses to The Game is Ever Afoot

  • Dr. Watson was wont to say when confronted with absolute evil: “Saints preserve us.” a short prayer I have taken for myself, but that prayer has been excised from every story since. This latest which I hope to view says: “God help us”, Thank God. The story with Jeremy Brett as you probably know, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used cocaine, was a teaching film for the use of the drug. Holmes opened his desk drawer, removed a syringe and proceeded to “expand his mind”, before his audience, to which I objected at the library. Doyle probably lost his Catholic Faith after he lost his mind. As the Intellectual Property of Doyle, Sherlock Holmes ought to have been presented as Doyle invented him. As an afterthought, Houdini never did show up at Doyle’s seances.

  • (Spoilers ahead in this comment)

    The first season of Sherlock was great. I’ve actually managed to see the three episodes of the second season (which I believe aired on the BBC in March). Although not as good as the first season, it was still very enjoyable. Sherlock’s version of Moriarty was somewhat annoying, however, and there is more of him in season 2.

    Be warned though: the first episode was a take on a “Scandal in Bohemia” and Irene Adler was a “dominatrix.” There was some nudity involved. It was a good episode despite the BBC’s lasciviousness, though I could see if people would have some objections to the episode.

  • I’ll tune in tonight to check it out as I didn’t see any of the first season. I guess I’m not exactly a purist as I adore the Jeremy Brett version, but I do also appreciate the Basil Rathbone one. The Hollywood movie was unwatchable ~ I ejected the disc from my player in the first 15 minutes.

    I just finished reading Murder in the Vatican and recommen it highly. It was almost like reading Doyle and was such a pleasure to stroll along with Holmes, Watson and Pope Leo!

  • I think part of the appeal of Holmes is that he’s strong, odd, explains how to find hidden knowledge, and is kinda scary if he’s not on your side.

  • I’m a big fan of the new Sherlock, although I’ve only seen the first movie– always annoyed me that the movies had him so inactive. (I know it’s partly a limitation of the old technology, and the sedentary detective thing has its charms, but eh.)

  • Basil Rathbone’s depiction – hands down. Understated, but constant mental activity and wit. Scenery, sounds, and characters beautiful.
    I loved the drapes in the Jeremy Brett version – he was good, but the focus was the modern psych taint which spoiled the detective story. Dr. Watson was OK. Just can’t remake perfection.
    Can’t even watch the later versions.

  • I believe you meant ROBERT Downey Jr.? 🙂

    Believe it or not, one of my favorite Holmeses was Nicholas Rowe in “Young Sherlock Holmes,” a 1985 flick that portrayed Holmes and Watson’s meeting as schoolboys and how they solved their first “case”. It was very much outside the Doyle canon and had an over the top plot involving a secret Egyptian cult with Temple of Doom-type rituals, but, I thought Rowe was kinda handsome, and the movie’s explanations for the origins of many of Holmes’ signature habits (like wearing the deerstalker cap) were sorta plausible. If you watch it and haven’t seen it before, be sure you keep watching ALL the way to the end of the credits!

  • I must be doing something wrong – maybe I’ve missed something – the sign of a mispent youth, perhaps? 😉
    I loved reading Conan-Doyle when I was young – Holmes’ impeccable penetrating logic used to fascinate me. However, that fascination has not persued me in my later life, nor the desire to be a movie buff; I view what I Think I will enjoy, and a modern day Holmes does not interest me.
    Can i still comment here? 😉

  • Don-
    I like Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock. If I can still be here, I’m sure you’re welcome!

    *random thought*
    Oh, dear… we’ve Sherlock, we’ve got Kipling, but nobody’s done Gilbert and Sullivan. I was recently informed that most folks go “who?”

    I may have to actually do some research and start sharing old Comedic Opera…..

  • “I believe you meant ROBERT Downey Jr.? ”
    Oops! Yes I did Elaine, although the concept of Holmes as a crazed talk show host certainly has possibilities.

  • “Can i still comment here? ”

    Of course Don, we have no heresy trials for those who do not enjoy Holmes! Yet. 🙂

  • foxfier.
    I’m sure Don McC posted some stuff on Gilbert and Sullivan some time back. In my boyhood days at Sacred Heart College we did the Savoy operas – I loved them then, and still do today. Their commentary on the society of the time is still valid today.

  • I watched the first episode last night, my first viewing of this series. It was pretty good, great acting of course. I’ll probably give it another try next week, but it didn’t grab me.

    I liked the portrayal of Sherlock even though he seemed much too young and like a boy instead of a man. I liked Watson but I didn’t like the portrayal of Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft. Much prefer the Mycroft in the Jeremy Brett version, his humor, intellect and warmth. I also didn’t appreciate the portrayal of The Woman as a dominatrix and the nudity scene. It was a clever use of our current techy world (blogging instead of writing, texting, etc.) but I much prefer being immersed in the times and social mores of the previous century!

  • “I also didn’t appreciate the portrayal of The Woman as a dominatrix and the nudity scene.”

    Neither did I. What passes for sophistication on the BBC is usually simple amoral vulgarity with elegant phrasing. Other than that I enjoyed the episode.

  • Kiwi Don-
    I’d say they’re still relevant because they’re more about human nature that strictly society… might be poe-tay-toe, poe-taw-toe, though.

    Musing about this last night (this morning, but meh) while taking care of the Duchess, and suddenly realized: Batman is Sherlock.
    Line of thought: Sherlock would be a Mary Sue if he were written wrong– even his “big” weakness of not caring about things that aren’t useful (like the number of planets) doesn’t really matter much, because right about what’s of use. He’s smart, comfortably well off, well known in his circles, master of disguise, strong, and although I can’t remember my mental image from just the books, the actors that play him are striking and attractive.
    Much like Superman. Except that he’s darker, more technology based, only superhuman in the sense that he’s honed, a detective….
    Batman came out in Detective comics.
    Dark, striking, disguises himself so well that those who know him won’t recognize him, amazingly honed at his chosen goal— wow.

  • Doyle didn’t promote cocaine! In his first book, cocaine was regarded as the latest high tech, unaddictive wonder drug, because that’s how the medical profession regarded it, and Watson’s uneasiness about it was a sign of his army surgeon days making him not in touch with the latest medical fashions. By the time he wrote his second book, Doyle knew that cocaine was deadly, because half his med school buddies died from experimenting with it. Thereafter, the stories and Watson were resolutely anti-drug, even though Holmes made various lame excuses; and Watson eventually got Holmes off cocaine.

  • I watch the show last night – I think I’ll pass. What I find irritating is the constant British need to bash Americans – the need to feel “superior” in every encounter. What is that all about? You hardly ever see it the other way around. Am I the only one who noticed this?

  • “What I find irritating is the constant British need to bash Americans – the need to feel “superior” in every encounter. What is that all about? You hardly ever see it the other way around. Am I the only one who noticed this?”

    Americans have been noticing that long before 1776. Benjamin Franklin February 27, 1767:
    ” But the Pride of this People cannot bear the Thoughts of it. Every Man in England seems to consider himself as a Piece of a Sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the Throne with the King, and talks of our Subjects in the Colonies.”

    http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/essays/disputes-with-america.htm

    When it comes to the BBC you have the traditional upper crust snottiness towards America combined with a fairly left wing view of the World.

  • Thank you, Maureen. I did not know that.
    When the movie began I thought James Bond. The nudity and Holmes’ and Dr. Watson’s focus on the mystery instead of succumbing to lust or distress and disorientation, simply letting the Dominatrix do her thing, and they theirs, was well done. There definitely was something for everybody, nudity, which was handled with some gentility, S&M, violence, even some intrigue and highjinx. Half way through, the number of the plane was 007. 007 was James Bond’s cipher. 007 is the license to kill. (In Ian Fleming’s James Bond films, ”M” his head master, was in the real life counterpart a double spy for the Soviets, which kind of ruined the stories for me.) Wasn’t Coventry where the British decoded Hitler and from where the British were able to send false messages to confound the Madman? The highjinx was captivating, especially the part where Sherlock unearths “The Woman’s” human warmth and affection for him by way of her open irises, and he, Holmes, repaying the compliment by saving her head, was WOW. Always one step ahead. Just like my mother. Dr. Watson’s part was too small and not engaging enough for me. Moriarity’s part was rather, shall I say, dumb, but how does one play an evildoer without being dumb? Perhaps next week? Thank you, Donald, for the cue.

  • Americans have been noticing that long before 1776. Benjamin Franklin February 27, 1767:
    ” But the Pride of this People cannot bear the Thoughts of it. Every Man in England seems to consider himself as a Piece of a Sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the Throne with the King, and talks of our Subjects in the Colonies.” That is why God wanted the Chosen People to have no king, the people were sovereigns unto themselves, but they insisted and God let them. Only in America are the people sovereign persons, sovereigns unto themselves. FREEDOM and the British maybe jealous. Pitifully these people think that they need somebody to lord it over to be somebody.

  • Excellent clip of the Pirates of Penzance, Don. 🙂 The stage setting is very good.

    Siobhan
    “What I find irritating is the constant British need to bash Americans – the need to feel “superior” in every encounter.”

    I wouldn’t worry too much about that – come down here and see how the Kiwis and Aussies bash eachother. Its a sort of “sibling rivalry”, if you will, and its mainly impersonal. Get to meet the people face to face and they’re, mostly, good people.
    When I was a lad, post war, we used to get many migrants from England (or Britain) coming “down to the colonies” to show the colonials how things were done. They copped a lot of stick – more so in Australia than here – but they soon got to know who was teaching who, and either settled in and became one of the “colonials”, or went back to the UK, complete with the big chip on shoulder.
    In my experience though, the vast majority were good people.

  • Don, my beloved great uncle Bill Barry who joined the Royal Army to teach the Limies how to fight, as he said, and served from 1939-45, whenever he would see me when I was a toddler would say, “There’s that dirty Yank!” To which I would respond, “There’s that dirty Newf!” Good natured ribbing among the components of the Anglosphere runs in my veins!

  • Just wanted to thank you. On the basis of this blog post, I went to netflix
    and watched the first season of Sherlock. Loved it.

  • One thing Sherlock Holmes said that makes sense: “I restored the balance in nature” as his reason for being. Every crime, sin, and evil disrupts the balance in nature and tears the fabric of society. Jesus Christ crucified restores the balance in nature.

Fra Angelico and Chesterton on Palm Sunday

Sunday, April 1, AD 2012

 

 

When fishes flew and forests walked

And figs grew upon thorn,

Some moment when the moon was blood

Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry

And ears like errant wings,

The devil’s walking parody

On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth, Of ancient crooked will;

Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,

I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;

One far fierce hour and sweet:

There was a shout about my ears,

And palms before my feet.

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10 Responses to Fra Angelico and Chesterton on Palm Sunday

  • Fra Angelico painted on his knees. There is a shadowy donkey in the background, no doubt, as every artist paints himself into his pictures. Jesus blesses the people, all people, for all time. We were all there, riding the shadowy donkey.

  • I just had my leftist, “social justice” and dearly beloved young nephew to dinner.

    My much-beloved young man has informed me that he is an agnostic who has paid for 2 abortions. I can not stop weepingl His grandparents, my dad and mom, were staunch Catholics who ahhored abortion. Oh,dear Lord, the seeds of our destruction are sown! Oh my Lord, this hurts!

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  • My prayers for you Donna. Why was he telling you this? Was it out of spite, or is he uneasy in his conscience? I assume he knew how you would react, so I am curious as to his motivation. Did his parents raise him without religion? Has this been a family sore point over the years between you and his parents?

    As for your nephew, I would suggest saying this prayer to Saint Monica each day:

    Dear St. Monica,
    troubled wife and mother,
    many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime.
    Yet, you never despaired or lost faith.
    With confidence, persistence, and profound faith,
    you prayed daily for the conversion
    of your beloved husband, Patricius,
    and your beloved son, Augustine;
    your prayers were answered.
    Grant me that same fortitude, patience,
    and trust in the Lord.
    Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
    that God may favorably hear my plea for

    (Mention your intention here.)

    and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things,
    through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
    in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
    one God, forever and ever.

    Amen.

  • Although not a Catholic, I did find the poem to be profound. As a member of the new Presbyterian Church prayer is important, believing as I do that God is looking over all of us, cares for us, and is there in times of need if only we are willing to share our needs with Him. God is there and will hear our prayers. We must trust in Him as he is the Almighty One.

  • Thank you for the prayer to St. Monica. While I knew the story, I never knew the prayer, but have a similar situation in my own family. Again, thank you.

  • Some, perhaps many, people, may be so taken by the beauty of Fra Angelico’s painting and of Chesterton’s poem that they don’t realize that the painting and poem are the introduction to a fine article “The Triumph of the Will”.

    I did not realize this at first because the two works can stand together as commentary with nothing added. I was also distracted by trying to remember if I’ve seen that painting at San Marco in Florence. Not being sure whether it was at San Marco or somewhere else, I left the site to do a search about the painting, and to read more of Chesterton’s poetry.

    When I returned to experience the poem and painting for a second time, I noticed the small letters spelling “Triumph of the King” on the bottom left of the page, clicked on them, and found the article. Mary De Voe and another reader have commented on the article itself so at least three of us have found it. Perhaps a clickable link saying “This Way to the Egress” or “Click me” is needed? Or perhaps I’m the only dolt who didn’t realize this page was an introduction to an article!

  • Thank you for the prayer, Donald. I apologize for mentioning something so personal in the comments section here. I was so distraught and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it – he told me in confidence and I don’t know if even his parents know.

    Donald,his mom and dad belong to a parish and regularly attend Mass and he was raised in the Faith. Without going into too much detail, I can tell you he has been a very troubled young man since his high school years, when he fell into a bad crowd and got into trouble with pot smoking and drinking. He is a very bright guy (much of our conversation was about our favorite books), but his grades were poor in high school and since then he has gone from one low paying job to another, never employing his intelligence. He is now in his mid-20’s and, from what I know, no longer uses drugs, but has had problems with depression. He seems to have no direction in his life.

    I don’t think he told me to hurt me. I’m inclined to think it was “uneasy conscience” (although he quickly told me that he doesn’t regret it at all, he protested a bit too much)

    The real kicker (which I reminded him of) was that he is adopted. Good thing for him his birth mother didn’t share his view on abortion.

  • Donna, you obviously hate the sin and love the sinner. That comes through. I’m sure your nephew picked up on it. You were a witness for the Faith in both word and deed, and that’s the best possible thing in that situation.

    As for his agnosticism, it could easily be a phase; probably every left-leaning, intelligent young adult goes through it. I know that I was a mess in my mid-20’s, directionless. Keep him in your prayers (I’ll try to remember to do the same) and don’t discount the seed planted in his youth. I’m glad someone brought up St. Augustine, another bright young man who by the grace of God finally got his life in order and became a beacon of truth.

  • “I apologize for mentioning something so personal in the comments section here. I was so distraught and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it – he told me in confidence and I don’t know if even his parents know.”

    Not at all Donna. I am glad that the blog could perform that service. An uneasy conscience can be the first step on a path to amending one’s life. It sounds like he is adrift in life, and when that happens it is all too easy for a person to quickly drift into evil. I assume that he now proclaims that he doubts God’s existence in order to avoid contemplating his sins. In some ways that is a healthier moral state than embracing God and also embracing one’s sins and assuming that one can have both. He is a young man and hopefully has a long journey in this life ahead of him. I trust that he will have many opportunities to turn to God and hopefully take advantage of one of them eventually. Your prayers will help in that process.

Triumph of the King

Sunday, April 1, AD 2012

zechariah

(This is my regular post for Palm Sunday which I repost each year.  Have a happy and blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.)

“9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.”

 

Thus did the prophet Zechariah, writing half a millennium before, predict the entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  How many such glorious entrances into cities have there been over the ages?  Every civilization I am aware of has such ceremonies, either parades in peace time or entrances of conquest or liberation in war time.  The Romans turned this into an art form with their triumphs, with the reminder of the slave to the imperator of  fleeting human mortality: “Respice post te, hominem memento te”.

Few such triumphs have turned into utter disaster as quickly as that of Jesus:  Jerusalem at His feet on Sunday, and Christ dead on a Roman Cross before the sun had set on Friday.  Small wonder that no contemporary historian or chronicler at the time took note.  However some sort of official report probably was filed after the crucifixion.  Writing circa 116 AD, and relying heavily on official records for his history, in regard to the great fire at Rome under Emperor Nero Tacitus states:

“15.44.2. But, despite kindly influence, despite the leader’s generous handouts, despite appeasing the gods, the scandal did not subside, rather the blaze came to be believed to be an official act. So, in order to quash the rumour, Nero blamed it on, and applied the cruelest punishments to, those sinners, whom ordinary people call Christians, hating them for their shameful behaviour. 15.44.3. The originator of this name, Christ, was sentenced to torture by Procurator Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius, but although checked for a moment, the deadly cult erupted again, not just in Judaea, the source of its evil, but even in Rome, where all the sins and scandals of the world gather and are glorified.”

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2 Responses to Triumph of the King

  • I never liked poetry, until now.

  • St. Luke 19

    “37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

    “38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

    “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

    “39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

    40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, November 9, AD 2011

 The cheapest and most childish of all the taunts of the Pacifists is, I think, the sneer at belligerents for appealing to the God of Battles. It is ludicrously illogical, for we obviously have no right to kill for victory save when we have a right to pray for it. If a war is not a holy war, it is an unholy one — a massacre.

                                                                                  G.K. Chesterton, October 23, 1915

The eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here and here.   Kipling wrote quite a few poems during his lifetime.  Some are world-famous, most are not, and some are today almost completely forgotten.  We are going to at one of the poems today in the final category, that is today one of Kipling’s most obscure ones, but caused something of a stir when he wrote it in Advent during 1917.  The Holy War:

 

A tinker out of Bedford,
A vagrant oft in quod,
A private under Fairfax,
A minister of God–
Two hundred years and thirty
Ere Armageddon came
His single hand portrayed it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

He mapped, for those who follow,
The world in which we are–
 ‘This famous town of Mansoul’
That takes the Holy War
Her true and traitor people,
The gates along her wall,
From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
John Bunyan showed them all.

All enemy divisions,
Recruits of every class,
 And highly-screened positions
For flame or poison-gas,
The craft that we call modern,
The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had ’em typed and filed
In Sixteen Eighty-two

Likewise the Lords of Looseness
That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
 And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
Who crack beneath a strain–
John Bunyan met that helpful set
In Charles the Second’s reign.

Emmanuel’s vanguard dying
For right and not for rights,
My Lord Apollyon lying
 To the State-kept Stockholmites,
 The Pope, the swithering Neutrals,
The Kaiser and his Gott–
 Their roles, their goals, their naked souls–
He knew and drew the lot.

Now he hath left his quarters,
 In Bunhill Fields to lie.
The wisdom that he taught us
Is proven prophecy–
One watchword through our armies,
One answer from our lands–
 ‘No dealings with Diabolus
 As long as Mansoul stands.

_A pedlar from a hovel,
The lowest of the low,
The father of the Novel,
Salvation’s first Defoe,
Eight blinded generations
Ere Armageddon came,
He showed us how to meet it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

At one level the poem is a fairly straight-forward paean to John Bunyan, the English writer who penned Pilgrims’s Progress, which every school child used to read back in days when schools spent far more time on academics and far less time on political indoctrination and fake subjects like “Consumer Ed”.  He also wrote quite a few other books and pamphlets, perhaps the best known of which is The Holy War, which portrays a war for the City of Mansoul between the good defenders and the evil besiegers.  I need not spell out the allegorical meaning of the work when the city’s named is rendered as Man Soul.  Kipling had been a devotee of Bunyan since his childhood, and I suppose that part of his motivation in writing the poem was to pay back a literary debt.

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10 Responses to Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

  • This is a very interesting interweaving of historical strands. Thanks.

  • As I recall, Kipling also versified harshly against America’s neutrality. Can’t quite pinpoint the poem, alas.

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  • An interesting poem, and a most useful, perceptive commentary.

    As for Benedict XV, in fact, Merry del Val was replaced as Secretary of State soon after Benedict’s election, and appointed secretary of the Holy Office. Benedict’s Secretary of State was Pietro Gasparri, the architect of the 1929 Lateran Treaty and the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

    I have always figured that Pius XII’s caution during WW II was partly the result of his experiences while serving as a papal diplomat under Benedict, and witnessing how Benedict’s much-maligned neutrality was ultimately vindicated.

  • Katherine you are correct! Perhaps Pope Benedict did have a grudge about the cardinal’s hat after all! I have made the necessary correction in the post.

  • Dale, Kipling wrote the following poem in regard to the American entry into the War. I have always regarded it as a dreadful piece of drek and one of the worst poems ever written by Kipling.

    Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
    THE CHOICE

    1917

    The American Spirit speaks:

    To the Judge of Right and Wrong
    With Whom fulfilment lies
    Our purpose and our power belong,
    Our faith and sacrifice.

    Let Freedom’s land rejoice!
    Our ancient bonds are riven;
    Once more to use the eternal choice
    Of Good or Ill is given.

    Not at a little cost,
    Hardly by prayer or tears,
    Shall we recover the road we lost
    In the drugged and doubting years.

    But, after the fires and the wrath,
    But, after searching and pain,
    His Mercy opens us a path
    To live with ourselves again.

    In the Gates of Death rejoice!
    We see and hold the good—
    Bear witness, Earth, we have made our choice
    For Freedom’s brotherhood!

    Then praise the Lord Most High
    Whose Strength hath saved us whole,
    Who bade us choose that the Flesh should die
    And not the living Soul!

    To the God in Man displayed—
    Where’er we see that Birth,
    Be love and understanding paid
    As never yet on earth!

    To the Spirit that moves in Man,
    On Whom all worlds depend,
    Be Glory since our world began
    And service to the end!

  • That’s the one! Yes, far from his best, but “the drugged and doubting years” is an excellent turn of phrase.

  • Agreed Dale. Even when writing a poor poem, Kipling included nuggets of gold!

  • Hmmm, based upon this I can see why Merry del Val was not kept as Secretary of State!

    “Reportedly Della Chiesa had been elected by one vote. According to the rules in force at the time, the ballot papers had a numbering on the reverse side, so that, if the election was decided by only one vote, it could be checked whether or not the elected person had voted for himself, in which case the election would be void. According to that account, Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, who had been Pius X’s Secretary of State, insisted that the ballots be checked to ensure that Della Chiesa had not voted for himself – he had not. When the cardinals offered their homage to the new pope, Benedict allegedly said to Merry del Val, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” To which the unabashed Merry del Val replied with the next verse of Psalm 118: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.””

Lepanto

Friday, October 7, AD 2011

White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

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5 Responses to Lepanto

3 Responses to Ave Maria

Triumph of the King

Sunday, April 17, AD 2011

 

zechariah

(This is my regular post for Palm Sunday which I repost each year.  Have a happy and blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.)

“9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.”

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2 Responses to Triumph of the King

God the Servant

Sunday, November 21, AD 2010

The feast of Christ the King is one of my favorite in the liturgical year.  It reminds me powerfully, through the confusion of daily life, that God reigns and rules.  However, there are myriad other ways of looking at God, and one of the more unusual, and powerful, is courtesy of the patron saint of paradox, G. K. Chesterton, in his The Ballad of  the White Horse.

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0 Responses to Why Aren't There More Worker Co-Ops?

  • The principles of neoclassical economics are a flashpoint in some Catholic circles, where the mainstream economist is derided for his “science” and unwavering belief that economic phenomena are defined by something akin to scientific laws. But what are we to make of this:

    An increasing percentage of Mondragon employees, for example, do not have an ownership stake in the company, but work for it much as they would for an ordinary business. But while this may be a solution for a particular co-operative business, it is not really a solution for the co-operative business model so much as a gradual abandonment of it.

    The Catholic criticism of mainstream economics is fair enough — get the anthropology in the correct order before positing homo economicus, we’re told. I sympathize, but if there’s an incentive against expansion because of share dilution even at Mondragon, how do we square this apparent inevitability with the insistence that politcal economy and economic institutions are not deterministic?

    (This is a bit off topic and might make a good topic for a separate post.)

  • I don’t know that it’s necessarily that far off-topic. My issue with most discussions of economic “justice” is that they inevitably drift over toward equality of outcome at the expense of equality of opportunity. That is precisely the issue, it seems to me, with Mondragon and other worker co-ops.

    SOmeone has to set a relative value for the stuff being co-op’d. Whoever does that will be required to make value judgments as to the relative worth if various inputs to the system, and then to relate those values to outcomes. If we’re all OK with me being paid less than Blackadder because I only input potatoes while he inputs truffles (does anyone not-French really eat those things?), then we’re good. But when Blackadder becomes richer than me because his inputs are more valuable than mine, many Catholic sociologists will cry foul and seek to level the playing field. THAT’S when we get into trouble.

    Concentration of wealth, or resources, or whatever, into the hands of less than the entire society is inevitable, unless we desire to take everyone to the lowest comoon denominator. And remember: when everyone is at a subsistence level…the poor will STILL be with us, except that none of us will be able to afford largesse to aid them!

  • “If employers and employees find, for the reasons given above, that worker co-ops are less preferable than other forms in many circumstances, there is nothing wrong with that.”

    I really hope the assumption here isn’t that anyone ever said there WAS something wrong with it.

  • Deacon Chip,

    ” But when Blackadder becomes richer than me because his inputs are more valuable than mine, many Catholic sociologists will cry foul and seek to level the playing field. THAT’S when we get into trouble.”

    I agree. And Catholic social teaching is clear – men have a right to make a profit from their labor, to enrich themselves. They also have a MORAL obligation to use their wealth charitably (which is NOT the same as saying that the state should force them to; unfortunately we live in a world in which people can ONLY imagine obligations coming from the state, since they no longer believe in God).

    “Concentration of wealth, or resources, or whatever, into the hands of less than the entire society is inevitable, unless we desire to take everyone to the lowest comoon denominator.”

    I completely agree. But “less than the entire society” is very broad. It could mean almost everyone, or it could mean almost no one. What Catholic social teaching makes clear is this: in so far as POSSIBLE (the exact words of Pius XI and a paraphrase of JP II), we should look for ways to make more people full participants in the economic process – through degrees of ownership and control of the means of production.

    This doesn’t mean “do it, even if it will ruin the company or the economy.” It means, “examine each situation to discover how far this general principle can be applied, if it all.” And even BA is forced to admit that in some sectors of the economy it DOES work.

    In any case, we also have to remember that the aim of CST is to prevent or mitigate class warfare. The Church has always recognized a polarizing tendency in what we call “capitalism” and has suggested Distributism as ONE way of addressing it.

    The other ways – labor unions, and state assistance, have mutated into corrupt bureaucratic enterprises. In fact I would argue that it is because of a false hope that men in all classes put in these institutions that the real solution, Distributism, was never really tried on a mass scale.

    Now that the bankruptcy of organized labor and welfare-statism is evident, I believe the already empirically demonstrated upward trend in employee ownership (which I pointed out in this post:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/06/25/worker-ownership-%E2%80%93-the-untold-stories/)

    will continue. Though some people make a career out of denying it, the dog-eat-dog individualism of the unfettered market does not and will not serve as the foundation of a stable or a just or a moral society. We are social beings, we are meant to live, to work, and to worship as a community (without negating our individual dignity or rights, of course).

    As a final thought, even Ronald Reagan supported employee ownership.

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  • Though some people make a career out of denying it, the dog-eat-dog individualism of the unfettered market does not and will not serve as the foundation of a stable or a just or a moral society.,-Joe Hargrave

    Dogs don’t eat dogs – despite the claims of those who make a career asserting it. However the 20th century experience with unfettered collectivism demonstrates that socialists do eat other socialists.

    I am pleased to see Blackadder’s article explaining that worker co-ops are rare not because they are wilfully suppressed by Secret Masters of Political Economy (SMOPEs) but because they are naturally selected against by people’s own individual choices. I am amused by advocates of distributism who use mass-produced computers and a ubiquitous Internet to stump for distributism without regard to the fact that such tools subsist in an economy where large capital formations are commonplace. As Blackadder put it, “worker co-ops tend to be disproportionately concentrated in labor intensive, capital light industries.” These haven’t been the commanding heights of a Western economy since the Industrial Revolution, maybe not even since the days medieval Benedictine monks built water wheels, windmills, and forges adjacent to their monasteries.

  • Micha,

    The extent to which you go to misrepresent arguments is well known, and unworthy of a response. I’ll pray for you.

The New Paganism: Climate Change

Wednesday, January 6, AD 2010

The Pagans are coming out of the woodwork, or more properly named, coming out of the ice sculpture.

What is turning into an annual event in Fairbanks, Alaska, a frozen ice sculpture of Al Gore, or what the locals call “Frozen Gore”, was unveiled.

Steve Dean sculpted the two-ton ice block in tribute to Al Gore and his ‘theories’ of man-made Global Warming.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports with my emphases and comments in this truncated article:

This year’s version includes special effects, thanks to a system that pipes the exhaust from a Ford F-350 out of Gore’s open mouth. Compeau [who funded the ice sculpture] will fire up the truck periodically this winter to create the “hot air” effect.

50 years [ago]. The average temperature for 2009 was 27.8 degrees in Fairbanks, about one degree warmer than normal, said Rick Thoman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Last winter, however, was unusually cold in Fairbanks. Temperatures in the winter months of 2008-09 were about 4 degrees below normal, according to National Weather Service figures.

The mocking tribute of Al Gore and the pseudoscience that he uses is cause for concern.  We need to start a movement to begin the separation of science and state in order to protect Americans from environmentalist fanatics such as Al Gore.

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73 Responses to The New Paganism: Climate Change

  • Al Gore is hardly a fanatic. Environmental fanatics attack whaling boats, live in trees for a few years. Gore wrote a book, won a prize, and has speaking gigs. No different from any other celebrity.

    I’ll grant you that celebrity is never a good engine to drive an issue, modern media outlets aside. But if you want to whine about paganism, look to the movement that has taken over every Sunday and holiday: professional sport.

  • Todd,

    Fanatics is defined as a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.

    I think that fits Mr. Gore well.

    Don’t you know that we should listen to celebrities on how to vote? 😉

  • One who elevates the spotted owl over the needs of families, for instance, the loss of 30,000 logging jobs, is a fanatic. It is madness.

  • If I can put my excessive reasonability hat on:

    – I’d say that it’s not political programs based on “science” that are a problem, but rather programs which are based on fundamental mistakes about human dignity. Eugenics treated people as only being worth the sum of their traits, and treated humanity as an improveable commodity. It violated basic human dignity when it forced “defective” people to be sterilized. None of this has anything to do with the “science” of eugenics (which turned out to be wrong as well) but rather with not respecting human dignity. Similarly, environmentalists suffer from a poor understanding of human dignity when they get into thinking of humanity as a “cancer on the planet” or see human lives as worth the same or less than animal lives, or seek to violate human life in order to reduce the effects of humanity on the planet.

    – There are some interesting ways in which environmentalism can fit into the same slot which paganism appealed to in the human mind, but I don’t think it’s right to simply equate environmentalism and paganism.

    – Gore is a bozo in part because he gets the actual science involved wrong — and one of the big problems with a lot of environmental advocacy is that it proposes changes which would have very little measureable impact on the scientific metrics involved, yet would involve a lot of negative impacts on society.

    – I’m not jazzed about the idea of a “separation of science and state”. To the extent that science is a way of knowing about the universe, one doesn’t want to rule it out of influencing political thinking any more than one wants to rule religion out of political thinking. However, it’s important to understand that science does not and cannot make moral or policy prescriptions. It can’t say “We must pass this law”. It’s only predictive, as in “If we make this change, this will be the result.” Anyone who claims that science says more than that is selling something.

  • DC

    You are right, environmentalism is not paganism, though both pagans and Christians can be environmentalists. As Pope Benedict himself has made clear, environmentalism is intricately connected to Catholicism and its pro-life message. If there are non-pro-life environmentalists encouraging evil, as there are, that must not be used to judge environmentalism itself– rather, it should be used as an example of where some environmentalists need to come to grips as to why one should be an environmentalist- reasons which include the whole of the Gospel of Life.

    ” “Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of ‘environmental refugees’, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement?” Pope Benedict XVI.

    Don’t call him pagan!

  • However, it’s important to understand that science does not and cannot make moral or policy prescriptions.

    Good points in your comments, though in the past eugenicists were able to pass the Racial Integrity Act.

    And I’m sure environmentalists will be pushing for radical legislation to tax and control American lives following the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

  • Tito

    Just because someone makes a statue does not mean they are pagans; are you going to say all the artists in the world, unless they are making icons and statues of the saints, are making idols?

  • “I think that fits Mr. Gore well.”

    Disagree. Mr Gore has his post-political career. He’s far from exuding the qualities of the extremists of the environmental movement.

    Now, Mr Gore may be far away from denizens of the anti-science or anti-AGW wings, and certainly extremists on their side. Distance doesn’t equate with extremism.

    I’ll back up much of DC’s comment. Eugenics is a horrific, anti0life pseudo-science. I don’t see any reasonable connection with the green movement. It might be that some greens advocate population control as part of an uninformed strategy. I don’t see eugenics gaining traction in either the mainstream green movement or in society at large.

    Steering human beings away from hydrocarbon fuel makes great sense politically, economically, and scientifically.

  • HK,

    Of course not.

    Art can be used as a beautiful expression of God.

    From Michelangelo to Bach, art has been an integral part of enhancing our spirituality and worship of God.

    But I’m sure you knew that already just as much as you know I was referring to much of the “science” that is used to control peoples lives in the climate change movement.

  • I don’t see eugenics gaining traction….”

    I don’t know – seems China’s one child policy got kudos at Copenhagen. That may not be eugenics per se, but it certainly seems like some traction in that direction.

  • I don’t think explicitly means what you think it does. Watch this:

    The Ten Commandments explicitly refer to Wensleydale Cheese – “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s [including his Wensleydale, Stilton, Cheddar, or other cheeses].

    mmmm, mmmm, delicious!

  • Why thank you for clarifying that Inigo Montoya.

    Signed,

    Vizzini

  • Did you kill his father 15 years ago?

    Words have meaning, at least they used to. What does “environmentalism” mean? It seems to be an ideology and that makes it incompatible with Catholicity. That doesn’t mean aspects of it cannot be integrated into a Catholic worldview but environmentalism and Catholicity cannot go hand and in hand.

    Conservation, which may be part of environmentalism, is not only compatible with our faith, I am fairly confident that it is the first commandment from God, He told Adam to tend His Garden. Adam was not permitted to destroy or worship the garden, but he had to take care of it for God as His steward. Of course, Adam screwed up, so some of us, his children, worship the garden and others want to destroy the garden. Some of us, are sons of the Most High, if sons than heirs and we are not only heirs to His promise, but we are also heirs of His garden, our planet, and we want to tend His garden, conserve it, enjoy it, populate it with large Catholic families, use it to benefit others and glorify God. I don’t think that can be considered environmentalism.

    EnvironMENTALism is a mental disorder just like other ISMs including Communism, Socialism, Democratism, Mammomism, Liberation Theolgism, American Idolism, and yes, the cult of Al Goreism too. Heretics should be burned at the stake, or we can simply stake them and let the Anthropogenic Global Warming burn them eventually. 😉

  • One particular phrase grabbed my attention: “the science says…”

    One of the first principles of science is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.

    It’s often repeated: “but the science says…”

    It seems as though some of the scientists in the AGW debate (see the recent Climategate episode) have gotten caught up in being fooled themselves.

  • Big Tex,

    “the science says…” is the equivalent to what liberal extremists accuse Christians of saying “the Bible says…” when defending their position.

    It has become their religion, ie, science or what I call scientism, to use in place of God.

    Sad.

  • “It has become their religion, ie, science or what I call scientism, to use in place of God.”

    Another example of taking one’s own subjective situation and interpreting others’ actions,words, etc., as if they thought the same way you did.

    Scientists approach their vocation dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, and if they’re lucky, wisdom. As in most all professions, some fail at both. Some even let science become their life, and these folks may be right, but they err in the social or political application of their “life.”

    I can appreciate that scientists and others trained in science would get frustrated at the intentional ignorance tossed their way in an attempt to form a logical dissent.

    What’s undeniable is that world temperatures have been on the rise due to natural cycles since the Renaissance. Trends toward warmer temperatures have ticked up at greater rates over the past century, more than would seem to be explained by the post-Little Ice Age trend. The attempt at rationalizing: “No, the weather isn’t getting warmer …” followed by “Okay, it’s getting warmer, but it’s not our fault …” followed by ” Okay, maybe we contributed some, but we can’t do anything about it …” has been all over conservative faces for the past decade or more.

    Even if climate change weren’t a worry, it would seem to make sense for the US to unilaterally cut its use of hydrocarbons for political reasons, if nothing else. Why would loyal Americans want to continue to use West Asian oil if we could develop alternatives at home? Why wouldn’t oil companies embrace the creativity and ingenuity of their homeland, if not their science staffs? If we’re talking about religion or quasi-religion here, let’s not let Big Oil and its followers off the hook.

  • When scientists cannot agree on the global warming trends, if there are any or even affected by man, then why do we have to listen to celebrities such as Al Gore who doesn’t even have a science degree?

    Especially with scientists heavily in opposition to the theory that man is the primary cause of global warming by 100:1, how can we take any of the science at face value at all?

    And I haven’t thrown in the fact of the huge climate controversy that came out of East Anglia university of doctored and made-up numbers. Europe has accepted that these figures are wrong, why hasn’t the liberal elite here in America?

    Because it is their religion.

  • Tito

    Which scientists and in which fields? Secondly, does the lack of agreement of scientists make for truth or that we can ignore the issue? After all, it’s a classical argument against Christianity: Christians can’t agree with themselves, so why be Christian?

  • Henry K.,

    Both you and I know the answer to your question.

    As Catholics we have the three pillars that hold up the Church: 1) Sacred Scripture, 2) Sacred Tradition, 3) the Magisterium.

    😉

  • “Just because someone makes a statue does not mean they are pagans”

    I wonder if that applies to soldiers who wear insignias, or regular American families that fly a flag on the fourth of July.

  • “When scientists cannot agree on the global warming trends …”

    This is just fantasy. Every climatologist knows the temperature trends are rising. All accept that the increase in temperature has accelerated over the past century or so. Has human industry the cause?

    100%? You’ll find some. 90%? 70%? Probably more like these numbers.

    This is like your attempted “expertise” on liberation theology. If you want to be taken seriously, bring a few climatologists to the discussion to raise the bar and challenge you. If you prefer to repeat political talking points and cocktail talk, then we mark another AC topic under the label “ignorance here,” and move on.

    And let’s be clear: there’s no problem with a person not educating her or himself on climate change. The problem is when such folks pretend to be serious commentators.

  • Todd,

    Now you’re just trashing me with no evidence.

    Keep up your malicious comments Mr. Pro-abortion ‘Catholic’ voter. (irony eh?)

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  • The Montreal Protocol was a good example of science working with government for the common good. CFC’s were destroying the ozone and most countries, including the US, took the advice of scientists and regulated it. I don’t think you will find many today who will dispute the fact that we would have been in big trouble if they had remained unregulated.

  • Tito,

    I think you are a serious commentator and I like your observations. My only concern is how big is your carbon footprint? Mine is huge but not as big as Al Gore’s.

    The assertion that Global Warming, Climate Change or whatever convenient moniker they are giving it this week is a religion is a very valid point that needs to be discussed more often.

    I tend to confuse most people because I don’t fit the stereotype of a ‘conservative’ so when a ‘liberal’ meets me for the first time they tend to let their guard down. After I play with their heads as if they were a drunken kitten I ease them into exposing the fallacy of their own argument (if you let a liberal talk long enough they will refute their own position and then deny it). Once the argument has been destroyed I acknowledge that they are actually a logical human being who is in severe self-denial. Then they lash out at me.

    When it comes to this particular topic their emotional reaction (it has to be emotional because if they tried to react reasonably they would have to acknowledge that they propose and invalid position) is to yell at me, “How can you not believe in Global Warming!*&^%?”

    If it isn’t a religion, why do they want me to believe in it? If it is a fact then belief is not needed. If belief is required then it is either a religion or a lie or a religion of lies.

  • Brian,

    The evidence is still out on CFC and the Ozone hole. It seems that was a cyclical thing and not caused by man.

    The more plausible analysis is that CFC were a convenient tool to bring about totalitarianism through environmental concerns. It didn’t work. So they moved on to something that is so prevalent and necessary for life to function, impossible to control and concerns everyone: CO2. By making warming as a result of carbon emissions the neo-paganism of environmentalism will place us all under the yoke of the spirit of this world.

    The conflict between environmental neo-paganism and the Catholic Church is inevitable. My money is on Christ’s Church.

  • What if some of us see idolatry in the stubborn refusal of some Americans to consider the possibility of global warming because it will require making changes, even modest sacrifices, to their consumerist lifestyle?

    You can see idolatry in any movement, which is why the charge doesn’t have any bearing on the truth or untruth of human induced climate change.

  • “The evidence is still out on CFC and the Ozone hole.”

    Really?
    Odd since we’ve been able to verify most of it in laboratories. Not to mention that the ozone has been recovering now that CFCs have been regulated. But I guess you have your sources.

  • Every climatologist knows the temperature trends are rising.

    Aye, 0.6 C over more than a century. Bug me about somthing else.

  • I don’t dispute that the temperature of parts of the globe are increasing. I just haven’t seen any evidence that points the finger at man as the cause. I have also seen no evidence to indicate that any of the life-threatening measures proposed by enviro-fascist fanatics will do anything to reduce the temperature increases.

    I agree with you about certain aspects of ‘materialism’; however, other aspects of good stewardship of the material given have provided a rise in the standard of material well-being of God’s children. The wealthy man of 150 years ago had a lower standard of material well-being than a ‘poor’ American today.

    Someone please tell me why the same people running around screaming about global warming are the same ones always bitching and shivering because it is cold?

  • I think that given:

    a) the undemocratic nature of the massive, world-changing political program that the warming alarmists wish to impose upon the entire planet,

    b) the unfortunate existence of bona fide scientists who are skeptical of the contribution of human activity to global warming

    c) the pretty clear evidence that human civilization has survived historical periods considerably warmer than anything we may be facing in the near future,

    d) the climategate scandal that revealed dishonest attempts to alter and/or hide findings that ran against the ‘consensus’,

    and most importantly,

    e) the anti-life, population control, eugenicist ideology of many of the major players in the secular environmental movement,

    that

    We have every right to be skeptical of this movement, to question and even resist its attempts to take control of the global economy through carbon taxes and other regulations, and to give the skeptical scientists and others a fair hearing.

    If our choice is between a possibility that human activity might cause a slight rise in temperature and sea levels on the one hand, and shutting down all debate, levying massive taxes, and handing over more sovereignty to an international body that is vehemently opposed to Catholic teachings on sexual morality – I’ll take my chances with the C02.

  • “I’ll take my chances with CO2”.

    Heretic. Blasphemer. Burn him. Wait. No. Hargrave is made of carbon – if we burn him we’ll be contributing to global warming. What do we do? Mother Gaia save us. 😉

  • Some Copenhagen attendees saw it for what it was, a tool for the UN to establish a Marxist one-world government. Since this is all clearly anti-human and anti-Catholic (you know those evil breeders) it must be of the spirit of this world.

    Additionally, it seems that someone, probably the guy that designed the planet in the first place, set it up so that CO2 is absorbed in a stable ratio. It seems that since 1850 nature (no not Mother Gaia, just plain old planet Earth) has absorbed the CO2 that has been created, even the increased amount since man industrialized.

    As we face the worst winter in 25 years and global temperatures plummet, store shelves go bare over fears of being snowed in and ski addicts are in a frenzy we should re-think this whole global warming thingy.

    Let’s all say it together, “CO2 is our friend, Ohmmmmmm!” Televise that on C-SPAN.

  • “Now you’re just trashing me with no evidence.”

    Trashing you? Hardly. I had the course in climatology thirty years ago. I read the scientific literature. There is no discussion among scientists on warming trends. They’re happening.

    You’re also incorrect on my being pro-abortion. Been pro-life all my life. Another example of drawing illogical conclusions.

    “As we face the worst winter in 25 years and global temperatures plummet …”

    Another example of the dictatorship of relativism. Clearly AK doesn’t live in the southern hemisphere these days.

  • A few decades ago the EPA would have hesitated in classifying CO2 as a hazardous gas. By the time they are fourteen most youngsters would have learnt that for plants, CO2 + water + sunlight = oxygen + plant substance, and that CO2 is a byproduct of the respiration of almost all living things. The EPA are confident that the rot in the education system is so widespread that they fear no ridicule from the populace, they being too dumb to care.

  • Ivan,

    I fear that you might be right.

  • Todd,

    157 dead in India due to . . . extremely cold weather.

    Didn’t it snow in Saudi Arabia last year?

    NWS stated that we set 1200 cold temp records across the US last week, including Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Imagine the shock of all the yenta snowbirds; they wake up and think they’re back in Noo Yawlk.

    And, no I don’t live in the Southern Hemisphere. . I hail from North America by choice and the South by the Grace of God.

  • Sadly, Ivan is probably right, education has been so dumbed down intentionally by the designers of the god-state that most people wouldn’t know how to formulate a question. We have become a nation of parrots. Squak, poly want a cracker, squak, global warming.

    Nevertheless, to keep the remnant of thinkers quiet they will soon shift back to global cooling and the parrots will run around fearing a new ice age and calling for global taxes and population reduction (I think they are aiming for 500,000,000 according to the Georgia Guidestones).

    Warming, cooling, heck, just go with Global Climate Change. Nov. 2008 was proof that undefined ‘change’ works best on the Idiocracy generation that was born when slick willy became president, oh the horror, the horror!

    BTW – Todd, where I come from, you know the ignorant South, do you know what we call climate change? Seasons, you know, Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn – crazy, huh?

  • Brian, some of us also see the AGW scam as an excuse to further widen the scope of government and its’ control over the proles (Al Gore, aka Elmer Gantry, and the Beautiful People can of course, buy themselves out of the restrictions they wish to place on ordinary people by purchasing carbon credits. That the sale of carbon credits happens to enrich Al Gore, is, I am sure, just a concidence.)

    The very idea that “the science is settled, so shut up” is in and of itself profoundly unscientific. So is “hiding the decline” and jiggering data to come up with the results you want.

    It’s all utter rubbish. And I believe the snake-oil salesmen who have been peddling it know that very well. They want more power over human beings, that’s all. Unfortunately, the well-meaning and creduous are taken in, but fewer and fewer with each passing day (she typed, as she listened to winter storm warning reports on the radio predicting 10-12 inches and a bad commute tommorrow morning.)

    Brian, you are so quick to suspect corporate wrong-doing (and there are certainly corporate wrong-doers). Why do you frequently seem to assume that those who wish to expand the power of the state are driven by warm and fuzzy altruism? History says otherwise.

  • Hargrave,

    Yes it is sad. CO2 may or may not be a greenhouse gas working its effects according the Arrhenuis theory. That does not bother me, what struck me was the alactrity and insousiance with which the EPA made its pronouncement. There surely was someone there thinking “Hang on a minute, I myself am breathing out carbon dioxide every few seconds. Let us put this to the public in a different way.” No, they were bold enough to expect no contradiction from the public. It encapsulates for me what the bureaucrats really think about the proles.

  • Donna,

    History certainly states otherwise. Usually, the misanthropes that perpetrate government and corporate wrong-doing are the same ilk. Not just cut from the same cloth – they are the same ilk.

    Look at the Goldman Sachs-NY Fed-Treasury Dept incest that has been going on since the meltdown, actually since 1910 – but that’s another story. What about Imelt from GE, who stands to make trillions when we are forced to use crappy ‘green’ technology.

    Corporatism is alive and well in America. Funny how they pit the right against the left because of the left’s love of government, and the left against the right for the right’s love of big business – the enemy is the same. AGW is the perfect tool for the Big Government/Big Business club to rule us little people. Fools.

  • Donna,

    I’m sorry that I or others gave the impression that the “science is settled”. That seems to be a very misleading way of putting things. It is my understanding that science is never “settled” as a legal dispute might be. The way we look at things is constantly expanding or being revised by new discoveries, new data, and the way that the peer review process exposes ideas up to the critique of others.
    While we can talk about a “theory of global warming”, to be accepted or rejected, the reality is that there myriads of separate theories that attempt to explain climate data from various fields. When we speak of a consensus, we are not saying that somehow the majority of scientists have said “yea” in some kind of informal vote, if that were even possible. Consensus means that there some basic correlation between many different and independent attempts to explain the data. Kind of like Newman’s cumulation of probabilities. Some explanations are stronger than others, but the bigger picture, the paradigm, remains strong.

    Speaking of Newman, think of religious belief. When I ask you the reason why you or another believe in Christian revelation, the answer, I suspect, cannot be reduced to one idea. There are many ideas or reasons for why we believe what we do. Some, perhaps, are stronger than others.

    Many so called climate skeptic scientists question certain theories involved with global warming, but do not necessarily doubt the consensus, which seems quite strong.

  • “A few decades ago the EPA would have hesitated in classifying CO2 as a hazardous gas. By the time they are fourteen most youngsters would have learnt that for plants, CO2 + water + sunlight = oxygen + plant substance, and that CO2 is a byproduct of the respiration of almost all living things.”

    I’m not impressed with this argument. Nitric oxide is a hazardous waste and yet is essential to life. So what. It’s context that’s important. CO2, like anything else I suppose, become hazardous in the wrong context.

  • “… do you know what we call climate change?”

    AK, you’ve made the basic error in high school earth science, confusing weather with climate. Back to ninth grade, my friend.

  • Todd,

    I’m just curious – have you ever changed anyone’s mind about anything?

  • I had the course in climatology thirty years ago. I read the scientific literature. There is no discussion among scientists on warming trends. They’re happening.

    You missed this one:

    Sagan, Carl, Owen B. Toon and James B. Pollack
    “Anthropogenic Albedo Changes and the Earth’s Climate” Science, New Series, Vol. 206, No. 4425 (Dec. 21, 1979), pp. 1363-1368

    The money quote is on page 1367, second column:

    “All changes except for urbanization produce an increase in the Earth’s albedo and a cooling of the planet.”

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  • “All changes except for urbanization produce an increase in the Earth’s albedo and a cooling of the planet.”

    If only we had listened to science back in the 70s!

    We could have prevented this global ice age we are in the midst of, and worldwide famine that caused billions of deaths!

    When will people learn to trust the “settled science”!?

    Seriously, there were mainstream scientists calling for the building of CO2 FACTORIES to head off a coming ice age! Imagine if we had done it! Why should we ever listen to these people?

  • Back in the 60s and 70s there were papers that predicted cooling and papers that predicted warming (far more of the latter). The science behind cooling was weaker and was discredited by other scientists even before those predictions could play out. That is not inconsistency, that is how science works.

  • The inconsistency is in the alarmism. If they had just made their predictions quietly, that would be one thing. But with these predictions always come hysterical calls for drastic action.

    That is why this science is suspect. Because, as you rightly say, science is constantly being revised and updated. Yet if the science today is predicting a dangerous trend, then in the minds of some people, it is dangerous to wait and see if further developments will disprove today’s theory – we must “act now”, we must scare the children with stories of cute cuddly animals dying because of disaster X.

    Our “science czar”, hardly some backwater nobody, and his colleagues were among those who predicted the cooling and called for massive increases in CO2 emissions. Now they call for the opposite. The problem is with their alarmism and their draconian politics.

  • Joe, thanks for the question. Happy to respond: yes; I once talked a friend out of having an abortion. Amazing, but true, and apologies to my stalker who prefers to bring up my voting record.

    Art, the Sagan-Pollack paper addressed albedo, not atmosphere. Albedo is the reflectivity of planetary surfaces and cloud cover. The money quote basically says that except for small slivers of pavement and some buildings, human beings have no effect on the Earth’s albedo. Farms pretty much equal forests. The key piece here is that Sagan was an astronomer, not a climatologist.

    Carbon dioxide is an odorless, colorless gas. It prevents heat reflected from the earth’s surface from radiating out into space.

    Also, it might be that the result of climate change would be an ice age. Climatologists agree that atmospheric temperature trends will not gradually cool or heat the planet. At some point there seems to be a feedback mechanism to restore a certain equilibrium. If Greenland ice were to melt, for example, not only would shorelines be inundated around the world, but the infusion of cool, low salinity water in the North Atlantic might be enough to send the Gulf Stream to African instead of Europe. Nice for Algeria, Libya, and Egypt who might get grasslands to replace desert. Not so good for Europeans who might be crunched under glaciers.

    Most scientists are not alarmists. The alarmists I see are those like the bloggers on this site.

    Once the people in the discussion can concede the temperature trend is warming, and that human industry is the most likely reason for the accelerated uptick, then people can sit down and start getting serious about solutions.

    People who insist there is no warming or that it’s not their fault and we can’t change it anyway: these people have no place at the discussion. The tide (not to mention rising ocean levels) is against them.

  • Art, the Sagan-Pollack paper addressed albedo, not atmosphere. Albedo is the reflectivity of planetary surfaces and cloud cover. The money quote basically says that except for small slivers of pavement and some buildings, human beings have no effect on the Earth’s albedo. Farms pretty much equal forests. The key piece here is that Sagan was an astronomer, not a climatologist.

    Thanks for your explanation. The thing is, I know what albedo is. I read that paper 14 years ago and inspected it again last night. Sagan et al. were concerned with a number of factors which effect the earth’s albedo, most saliently the expansion of deserts, which they did attribute to anthropogenic factors. Dr. Sagan was an astronomer. He was also relentlessly topical, and the advance of deserts and global cooling were the anxieties du jour. A few years later, it was nuclear winter.

  • Thanks, Art.

    One important thing is that we need to separate the science from public policy. Scientists can bring facts, and some “relentlessly topical” scientists may decide they can suggest or promote solutions. I would say that the public policy addressing climate change will need to be carefully discerned with significant input from outside the scientific community.

    And nuclear winter, yes. I’d say that was a more likely outcome than a new ice age or melting ice caps on a few days in the 20th century.

  • Todd,

    “Once the people in the discussion can concede the temperature trend is warming, and that human industry is the most likely reason for the accelerated uptick, then people can sit down and start getting serious about solutions.”

    I will do no such thing, until the well-presented arguments of skeptical scientists are clearly and plainly, in a manner a layman such as myself can understand, are debunked. I want to see a serious engagement, a serious debate. I do not want to have a “consensus” rammed down my throat.

    You can scoff at this all you like; I don’t trust the institutions that are bringing me the “consensus.” They are human beings, not data-producing androids, with motivations and agendas, with careers and egos to protect.

    The secular environmentalists behind this movement have a vicious anti-life agenda. They are pro-abortion, pro-sterilization, and are now tying it all in with reducing carbon emissions. I’ve seen articles quoting scientists claiming that having children is bad for the planet, and the Chinese government claiming that its one-child policy has resulted in lower carbon emissions than it would have had – significantly lower.

    I don’t care how clearly the scientists see things – when the stakes are as high as they are politically, you are absolutely, completely wrong to say:

    “People who insist there is no warming or that it’s not their fault and we can’t change it anyway: these people have no place at the discussion. The tide (not to mention rising ocean levels) is against them.”

    The tide is not against them. In light of the climategate scandal, revelations of outright deceptions in Al Gore’s film, and other blunders by the global warming crowd, the skeptics have actually gained ground.

    A sound theory has nothing to fear from debate. The argument that the “science is settled” means nothing to me. How could I possibly know that? There are these people who say it isn’t, and who make convincing arguments in their own right.

    So, I mean, you can try as hard as you like to make people here feel stupid for not slobbering all over the mainstream scientists shoes as we kiss and venerate them, but its going to take a little more than ridicule from you to make the grade.

    I’ll make this offer: show me a good website or paper or something that takes on the main arguments of the skeptics from the standpoint of the mainstream, and I will diligently and happily read it.

  • Todd,

    my stalker who prefers to bring up my voting record.

    Interesting that I am the author of this article that I am now a stalker of your voting record.

    I enjoy pointing out that you are only a “self-identified” Catholic that is a Pro-Abortionist that voted for the most Pro-Abortion president in the history of America.

    Your points are pretty much mute since you’ve compromised your faith for the Democratic Party platform.

  • Joe,

    If you look, you will find plenty of material out there that addresses the skeptics point by point, as there is plenty of material that attempts to cast doubt on the idea of global warming. The question is, and I think you yourself brought this up on another post – how do we come to trust our sources?

    For me, methodology as much as content (of which I have a necessarily limited grasp) makes me tend to trust the findings of the IPCC or National Academy of Sciences for example, over some group or person that sets out with the sole purpose of trying to debunk global warming (or promote it!).

    Right off the bat, I would distinguish between scientists who have discovered flaws in the current understanding of some aspect of global warming and those who actively seek to present the strongest case against global warming. There is a big difference here, but unfortunately the two groups are confused. Scientists bring their findings under the critical review of others and try to make sense of their findings with the accumulated knowledge of their field and even beyond. Unfortunately, those with an agenda to promote or disprove the idea of global warming take specific findings out of their original context – that dialogue with the broader scientific community with its respective disciplines. That is not science.

    The IPCC on the other hand is very conservative (not necessarily always correct, btw) with its use of data. If a specific claim is in an IPCC report, you can almost guarantee that it is not simply one stand alone observation supporting it. This , in my view, puts the burden of proof on the skeptics to refute the massive case for global warming across many fields point by point. To this date, I have not seen this. Rather, you tend to get a list of what I mentioned above – random pieces of data taken out of their original context.

    That is why I will not recommend a site that takes on the augments of skeptics one by one..but rather point to one that looks at the bigger picture of what’s going on out there: http://www.realclimate.org/

  • Brian,
    The linked site doesn’t seem overly helpful. Doesn’t seem to present overwhelming evidence against what skeptics raise. Only slightly more scientific than this site:

    http://www.climategate.com/

  • Tito, you may be a blogger, but you’re still a stalker. Your last post also reveals you to be an untruthful stalker. Feh. It’s your site. You can behave however you want to I suppose.

    Joe, as long as the discussion about climate change stays informal, you’re absolutely okay taking the position you take. I have no problem with it. If, however, you expect to be part of a serious debate, your own insistence on conspiracy theories will sideline you, not to mention your unwillingness to engage the topic broadly and seriously.

    The bloggers on this site have already conceded their willingness to tackle a disputed topic (example: liberation theology) but without the requisite knowledge and background. That’s okay too. Like LT, we know that we can expect a lack of curiosity and expertise when it comes to climate issues on this site.

    If you want to e-mail me with a specific request of literature I could suggest, I’m happy to find something suitable. Last word, gents: you’ve earned it.

  • “Last word, gents: you’ve earned it.”

    Promises, promises Todd. You would be much more effective as a commenter on this site if you would contribute something more than your trademark sneer and condescension which are always a poor substitute for reasoned argument.

  • “The linked site doesn’t seem overly helpful. Doesn’t seem to present overwhelming evidence against what skeptics raise.”

    Fair enough. I have found the site helpful to keep up to speed on what’s going on in climate science right now, but it certainly won’t answer everyone’s questions. I can’t resist one more recommendation – that presents the evolution of climate science bruises and all – without getting partisan: The Discovery of Global Warming (2003) by Spencer Weart.

  • Todd,

    You are so unbelievably smug.

    I expect to be a part of serious debate – for serious debate to exist – because the political stakes are unimaginably high.

    “Like LT, we know that we can expect a lack of curiosity and expertise when it comes to climate issues on this site.”

    I see. So in Todd’s world of Newspeak, a request for literature reflects a lack of curiosity. I asked MI for literature on LT, and I asked you for literature on “climate change” – but we’re not curious. Ok.

    Why do I have to email you? Just drop a title or a link. Is that hard?

    And I do not “insist” upon conspiracy theories – I accept their reasonability, their plausibility, because of the human propensity for evil and the historical record of proven conspiracies. In the case of global warming, we have already seen scientists con-spi-ir-ing to conceal data they didn’t like, block skeptics from the debate, and even express a hope that their critics didn’t know that there was a Freedom of Information Act.

    How can you look at all that and wave it away? At what point is it more crazy not to believe that something fishy is going on than to believe that there is?

  • Exactly Brian.

  • Very well …

    “Why do I have to email you? Just drop a title or a link. Is that hard?”

    That something might be hard is irrelevant. I don’t mind putting extra effort out there for a friend or colleague–if that person is serious. Why would I bother making suggestions on one topic when you’ve pretty much dismissed input on another?

    I’d recommend the Weart book. He has a web site, and apparently a revised 2nd edition of the 2003 book I read. It’s a good place to start.

    “You are so unbelievably smug.”

    Well, I do know what I’m talking about. I had a science background before I studied theology. I still keep up with serious science reading, including climatology. I think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to science, and I think I’m on safe ground in dismissing the so-called climategate.

    You think I’m smug? You’ll find very few serious scientists wasting their time even talking to doubters like yourselves. They would call me foolish for even wasting my time in the attempt.

    And to be serious, I can’t tell with some of you AC bloggers if you’re serious or not. You post on LT and you participate in very long threads. Same with climate. You say you’re willing to review information, but you treat a scientific discussion as if it were some kind of political event. Either global temperatures are warming faster than they should be or they’re not. Human beings contribute to all, some, or none of that. Once the determination is made that planetary climate change is a problem, the focus shifts to solutions. It seems pretty clear that the politicians are struggling with public policy solutions at this point, and scientists are back to monitoring conditions.

    Look, I’m not going to fill up your comboxes with the science of climatology. You want me to write up a “reasoned argument?” I’ll be happy to write a guest post for you.

    If you want to continue discussing with me; send an e-mail. It’s time to move on from this thread.

  • “You think I’m smug? You’ll find very few serious scientists wasting their time even talking to doubters like yourselves. They would call me foolish for even wasting my time in the attempt.”

    So we should all be grateful that you’ve decided to lower yourselves down into the pit and commune with us lesser beings?

    Yes, I think you’re smug. I think that I couldn’t imagine a better way to completely turn people off from a cause than to have you as its spokesman. And I think you are incredibly naive if you think science is immune to politics.

    You really, honestly think you are above having to explain yourself, that it is a “waste of time”, that we should all see that, because of your “science background” we should all just shut the hell up and accept what you have to say, and be grateful for the condescending insults that accompany it.

    Please, I beg you, do not waste another second on us. You haven’t moved anyone’s mind an inch, if anything, you’ve moved people in the opposite direction. You really are wasting your time.

  • As for this:

    “I don’t mind putting extra effort out there for a friend or colleague–if that person is serious. Why would I bother making suggestions on one topic when you’ve pretty much dismissed input on another?”

    When did I do that? I’ve never dismissed input on anything.

    And really, its “extra effort” to find me one thing to read? Two minutes of your precious time? Are you serious? Please, don’t bother. We’re done.

  • You think I’m smug? You’ll find very few serious scientists wasting their time even talking to doubters like yourselves. They would call me foolish for even wasting my time in the attempt.

    Among the doubters is Richard Lindzen of MIT. He is one of only about two dozen scholars in meteorology and climatology who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Realclimate? This Mann-Briffa-Jones outfit? You are surely kidding me.

  • Hahaha…Captain Todd strikes again…the guy who has a science background extending from embryology to climatology…

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Holy Mary, Mother of God

Friday, January 1, AD 2010

And he saw in a little picture,
Tiny and far away,
His mother sitting in Egbert’s hall,
And a book she showed him, very small,
Where a sapphire Mary sat in stall
With a golden Christ at play.

It was wrought in the monk’s slow manner,
From silver and sanguine shell,
Where the scenes are little and terrible,
Keyholes of heaven and hell.

In the river island of Athelney,
With the river running past,
In colours of such simple creed
All things sprang at him, sun and weed,
Till the grass grew to be grass indeed
And the tree was a tree at last.

Fearfully plain the flowers grew,
Like the child’s book to read,
Or like a friend’s face seen in a glass;
He looked; and there Our Lady was,
She stood and stroked the tall live grass
As a man strokes his steed.

Her face was like an open word
When brave men speak and choose,
The very colours of her coat
Were better than good news.

She spoke not, nor turned not,
Nor any sign she cast,
Only she stood up straight and free,
Between the flowers in Athelney,
And the river running past.

One dim ancestral jewel hung
On his ruined armour grey,
He rent and cast it at her feet:
Where, after centuries, with slow feet,
Men came from hall and school and street
And found it where it lay.

“Mother of God,” the wanderer said,
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.

“The gates of heaven are fearful gates
Worse than the gates of hell;
Not I would break the splendours barred
Or seek to know the thing they guard,
Which is too good to tell.

“But for this earth most pitiful,
This little land I know,
If that which is for ever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss,
Seeing the stranger go?

“When our last bow is broken, Queen,
And our last javelin cast,
Under some sad, green evening sky,
Holding a ruined cross on high,
Under warm westland grass to lie,
Shall we come home at last?”

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The Nativity

Friday, December 25, AD 2009

The thatch on the roof was as golden,
Though dusty the straw was and old,
The wind had a peal as of trumpets,
Though blowing and barren and cold,
The mother’s hair was a glory
Though loosened and torn,
For under the eaves in the gloaming
A child was born.

Have a myriad children been quickened,
Have a myriad children grown old,
Grown gross and unloved and embittered,
Grown cunning and savage and cold?
God abides in a terrible patience,
Unangered, unworn,
And again for the child that was squandered
A child is born.

What know we of aeons behind us,
Dim dynasties lost long ago,
Huge empires, like dreams unremembered,
Huge cities for ages laid low?
This at least—that with blight and with blessing,
With flower and with thorn,
Love was there, and his cry was among them,
“A child is born.”

Though the darkness be noisy with systems,
Dark fancies that fret and disprove,
Still the plumes stir around us, above us
The wings of the shadow of love:
Oh! Princes and priests, have ye seen it
Grow pale through your scorn;
Huge dawns sleep before us, deep changes,
A child is born.

And the rafters of toil still are gilded
With the dawn of the stars of the heart,
And the wise men draw near in the twilight,
Who are weary of learning and art,
And the face of the tyrant is darkened,
His spirit is torn,
For a new king is enthroned; yea, the sternest,
A child is born.

And the mother still joys for the whispered
First stir of unspeakable things,
Still feels that high moment unfurling
Red glory of Gabriel’s wings.
Still the babe of an hour is a master
Whom angels adorn,
Emmanuel, prophet, anointed,
A child is born.

And thou, that art still in thy cradle,
The sun being crown for thy brow,
Make answer, our flesh, make an answer,
Say, whence art thou come—who art thou?
Art thou come back on earth for our teaching
To train or to warn—?
Hush—how may we know?—knowing only
A child is born.

G. K. Chesterton

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