Cultures in Isolation

Monday, October 3, AD 2016

An interesting look at the Ancient Egyptians, the Mayans and the Early Modern Japanese.  Not bad although the history is a bit weak at points, especially in regard to the contention that these civilizations were peaceful.  That would have come as a surprise to the subjects of the Egyptian Empire of the New Kingdom or to the Koreans fending off Japanese invasion in the late Sixteenth Century.  Japan, after the Meji Restoration in the 1860s, soon went on a path of rapid foreign expansion that ended only in 1945.  Only the Mayans really fit the argument being made in the video about the cultural advantages of isolationism and peace.  Cultural isolationism can also produce stagnant cultures like the Polynesians, the Eskimos and, actually, the Japanese of the Eighteenth Century.  However, I do enjoy cross-cultural looks at history, so I applaud the attempt if not the results.

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2 Responses to Cultures in Isolation

  • It’s hard to imagine a culture more isolated than the Polynesians on Hawaii and how quickly they converted to Christianity.

  • William P Walsh wrote, “It’s hard to imagine a culture more isolated than the Polynesians on Hawaii and how quickly they converted to Christianity.”

    French Polynesia remains one of the most peaceful societies on Earth, with a murder rate of 0.4 per 100,000 (One murder in 2009)

Christ and History

Friday, September 16, AD 2016

 

I’ll tell you what stands between us and the Greeks.  Two thousand years of human suffering stands between us! Christ on His Cross stands between us!

Michelangelo, Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

 

 

 

Popular historian Tom Holland, whose work I have admired, writes how his study of history led him back to Christianity:

 

By the time I came to read Edward Gibbon and the other great writers of the Enlightenment, I was more than ready to accept their interpretation of history: that the triumph of Christianity had ushered in an “age of superstition and credulity”, and that modernity was founded on the dusting down of long-forgotten classical values. My childhood instinct to think of the biblical God as the po-faced enemy of liberty and fun was rationalised. The defeat of paganism had ushered in the reign of Nobodaddy, and of all the crusaders, inquisitors and black-hatted puritans who had served as his acolytes. Colour and excitement had been drained from the world. “Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean,” Swinburne wrote, echoing the apocryphal lament of Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome. “The world has grown grey from thy breath.” Instinctively, I agreed.

So, perhaps it was no surprise that I should have continued to cherish classical antiquity as the period that most stirred and inspired me. When I came to write my first work of history, Rubicon, I chose a subject that had been particularly close to the hearts of the philosophes: the age of Cicero. The theme of my second, Persian Fire, was one that even in the 21st century was serving Hollywood, as it had served Montaigne and Byron, as an archetype of the triumph of liberty over despotism: the Persian invasions of Greece.

The years I spent writing these studies of the classical world – living intimately in the company of Leonidas and of Julius Caesar, of the hoplites who had died at Thermopylae and of the legionaries who had triumphed at Alesia – only confirmed me in my fascination: for Sparta and Rome, even when subjected to the minutest historical inquiry, did not cease to seem possessed of the qualities of an apex predator. They continued to stalk my imaginings as they had always done – like a tyrannosaur.

Yet giant carnivores, however wondrous, are by their nature terrifying. The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.

“Every sensible man,” Voltaire wrote, “every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.” Rather than acknowledge that his ethical principles might owe anything to Christianity, he preferred to derive them from a range of other sources – not just classical literature, but Chinese philosophy and his own powers of reason. Yet Voltaire, in his concern for the weak and oppressed, was marked more enduringly by the stamp of biblical ethics than he cared to admit. His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.

 

“We preach Christ crucified,” St Paul declared, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” He was right. Nothing could have run more counter to the most profoundly held assumptions of Paul’s contemporaries – Jews, or Greeks, or Romans. The notion that a god might have suffered torture and death on a cross was so shocking as to appear repulsive. Familiarity with the biblical narrative of the Crucifixion has dulled our sense of just how completely novel a deity Christ was. In the ancient world, it was the role of gods who laid claim to ruling the universe to uphold its order by inflicting punishment – not to suffer it themselves.

Today, even as belief in God fades across the West, the countries that were once collectively known as Christendom continue to bear the stamp of the two-millennia-old revolution that Christianity represents. It is the principal reason why, by and large, most of us who live in post-Christian societies still take for granted that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering. It is why we generally assume that every human life is of equal value. In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.

Go here to read the rest.  As faithful readers of this blog know, I love history.  The story of Man absolutely fascinates and enthralls me.  Stephen Vincent Benet put it well in The Devil and Daniel Webster:

 

And he wasn’t pleading for any one person any more, though his voice rang like an organ. He was telling the story and the failures and the endless journey of mankind. They got tricked and trapped and bamboozled, but it was a great journey. And no demon that was ever foaled could know the inwardness of it—it took a man to do that.

In that grand story, amidst the great parade of human events, divinity enters in with Christ.  His impact on history is beyond description.  Atheist H.G. Wells summed it up:

“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”

Some recent historians attempt to replace BC and AD with the ludicrous Before the Common Era, BCE, and Common Era, CE, attempting to ignore that the only reason we have a “Common Era” is because of Christ.  Christ is the dividing point of history, and only fools deny it.

 

 

 

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12 Responses to Christ and History

  • “And only fools deny it”. Ours is an age of fools.
    Entertainment, academia, education, media, government, industry……we are up to are necks in fools.
    Did I forget to mention the Vatican? There, too.

  • Wonderful post. I appreciate how you put together the visual and the text in your posts Donald. Most striking.

  • Yet history is a moving thing isn’t it- it comes so fast upon us. What is, shortly was.
    Think of the hope shown in your recent post from the Lutheran pastor.
    What if the devil did have the 20th century- we are in a new millennium and there are sparks among the stubble.
    The fires of Christianity are not extinguished.

    Wisdom 3:7 In the time of their judgment they shall shine and dart about as sparks through stubble

  • “His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.”
    In their Manifesto of the New Right, Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier explain the origins of Modernity in this way: “This movement has old roots. In most respects, it represents a secularization of ideas and perspectives borrowed from Christian metaphysics, which spread into secular life following a rejection of any transcendent dimension. Actually, one finds in Christianity the seeds of the great mutations that gave birth to the secular ideologies of the first post-revolutionary era.
    Individualism was already present in the notion of individual salvation and of an intimate and privileged relation between an individual and God that surpasses any relation on earth.
    Egalitarianism is rooted in the idea that redemption is equally available to all mankind, since all are endowed with an individual soul whose absolute value is shared by all humanity.
    Progressivism is born of the idea that history has an absolute beginning and a necessary end, and that it unfolds globally according to a divine plan.
    Finally, universalism is the natural expression of a religion that claims to manifest a revealed truth which, valid for all men, summons them to conversion.
    Modern political life itself is founded on secularized theological concepts.”
    There is more than a little truth in that assessment.

  • History is repeating itself as the world continues to fall back into paganism. Christianity perhaps reached it’s zenith sometime before Vatican II after which the Catholic Church embraced Modernism and Communism with devastating results of loss of faith and moral decline.

    Note good background information on this site: http://www.traditionalcatholicmass.com/home-m120.html

  • All of the Saints have paved the way, narrow and steep, to a people yet to be born. These future people have not been randomly born into this era, rather predestined to be available to follow where Saints have trod. Available doesn’t mean inevitable. Free will, grace and acceptance will define the difference between the two.

    You are present.

    Be prepared to be chosen by Him who inspired the pathfinders. Be prepared to walk the walk.

  • “BCE” = Before Christ Era; “CE” = Christ Era. Re: Voltaire: check out Voltaire the Revert-came back to the one true Church big time before he died. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

  • Anzlyne-kinda like glory shaking “out like shining from shook foil” – GM Hopkins

  • Certainly Christ is the only thing common to era.

  • 😉

    And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

  • Pingback: SUNDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit
  • You know my brother is an atheist (well, American atheists are usually agnostics) and I am a Cahtolic Christian. He and I both agreed with the dating system of ad, and, bc and the reason for this is historical reasons.

Elbow Room

Thursday, September 1, AD 2016

Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts takes a look at the old Schoolhouse Rock video Elbow Room:

 

We watched this with our youngest while back, and my older boys – having come in contact with modern educational standards – dropped their jaws.  We had it when they were little, but didn’t watch it that much.  When we watched it this time, they said wow, did you really learn that Westward expansion was a good thing?  When they were in school, this was compared to Lebensraum.  Manifest Destiny?  That’s like praising Mein Kampf.  Did we really think it was good?

Yeah, we did.  Not that we didn’t admit to the bad.  I remember learning about the Trail of Tears all the way back in the mid-70s.  And we weren’t the first to generation hear about it.  Same with slavery.  It isn’t as if Americans thought slavery was an awesome chapter in our history before Roots.  America has been wrestling with the more sordid episodes in its history pretty much from the beginning.  Heck, we even learned that Manifest Destiny wasn’t all that and a bag of chips.  What makes it different today is that there is nothing but sheer condemnation.   We were not a great nation with evil and injustice in its past, increasingly we are seen as an evil, racist nation with only the slightest hope of redeeming itself.

It would be better if we learned American history the way we learn about Islam.  Their high school World History book laid out the template.  Sure, the Islamic world launched invasions and conquests, indulged in a vibrant slave trade and even made multiple attempts at invading Europe.  But let’s not dwell on the negatives (which the textbook didn’t).  Those don’t define Islam.  Most of the lesson was on the nuts and bolts, or on the positives.  Which is good. If only we applied that standard to US history, imagine how youngsters might see things today.

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9 Responses to Elbow Room

  • That’s one thing that always strikes me about classic entertainment like Davey Crockett: that it was absolutely not what the modern world pretends it was. Bigotry was always (or more often than not) shown to be a bad thing, and American history was honored, but rarely sugarcoated. I find most of it was far more mature (in the true sense of showing an adult mindset) than much of what we get today.

    Of course, I imagine that’s why it gets mocked so much; can’t afford to let dangerous ideas into the minds of the masses, so teach them to regard the past with contempt.

  • It’s the leftist take-over of education. It’s not their faults that they’re brainwashed. They represent generations of American “students” that have been corrupted (“democratic” Athens forced Socrates to drink hemlock) with so-called “American Studies” classes that solely taught BS, PC (universal deceit) victim groups, BS, and 100% trashing of uber-evil America.
    .
    25 Aug 2016: Bookworm Room Blog: “Thanks to the media’s relentless shilling, combined with the Leftist takeover of education, we’ve got several generations of people who proudly acknowledge their ignorance, but still think they’re qualified to vote based upon what the media tells them to do. […] waking up to the fact that Hillary cannot become president — and that if she does, it’s because of media misinformation combined with low-information voters . . .
    […]
    “Over the weekend, no less than six terrible stories broke that would have crippled anyone else’s campaign.
    .
    “So, what was the media’s response to this tidal wave of incompetence and corruption?
    .
    “They focused on the Trump campaign’s internal mess, naturally. That’s what they always do.”
    .

    .

  • The 1941 movie with Walter Huston is marvelous, primarily for Huston (not to be confused with later John) portraying “Mr Scratch.” All flying eyebrows and teeth, like a Golden Age Jack Nicholson, taking a demonic glee in his work. Even when he seems to notice the audience, and looks you square in the eye, practically salivating over his next victim, it works. The weird smirking beauty is good, too. (“I’m not from anywhere.”)

  • Daniel Webster: This appears – mind you, I say appears – to be properly drawn. But you shan’t have this man. A man isn’t a piece of property. Mr. Stone is an American citizen… and an American citizen cannot be forced into the service of a foreign prince.
    Mr. Scratch: Foreign? Who calls me a foreigner?
    Daniel Webster: Well, I never heard of the de… I never heard of you claiming American citizenship.
    Mr. Scratch: And who has a better right? When the first wrong was done to the first Indian, I was there. When the first slaver put out for the Congo, I stood on the deck. Am I not still spoken of in every church in New England? It’s true the North claims me for a Southerner and the South for a Northerner, but I’m neither. Tell the truth, Mr. Webster – though I don’t like to boast of it – my name is older in the country than yours.
    Daniel Webster: Then I stand on the Constitution. I demand a trial for my client.
    Mr. Scratch: You mean a jury trial?
    Daniel Webster: I do! And if I can’t win this case with a jury you’ll have me, too. If two New Hampshire men aren’t a match for the devil, we better give the country back to the Indians.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbEXCZ9R_mY

  • I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but our claim on the whole continent always struck me as pretty weak. I get the traders and trappers pushing onward, and of course the missionaries, but the settlers? I don’t know. Maybe Schoolhouse Rock didn’t sell it to me in my youth. I was all in for the Preamble, and the Bill of course (although now he seems like unnecessary federal interference).

  • Well, up to the Mississippi sans Florida and Louisiana we got by treaty with Britain. The Louisiana Purchase is well known. Spain ceded the Floridas to us thanks to the military threat of Jackson and Adams’ diplomacy. Texas won its independence from Mexico and agreed to be annexed by us as a State. In regard to the Mexican War, there were precious few Mexicans in what is now the Continental US outside of New Mexico. If the US hadn’t taken the territories, I suspect Britain or Russia would have. The Gadsden Purchase from Mexico rounded out Arizona and New Mexico. What has always struck me is how little fighting it took to win such a vast land. Of course this ignores the Indians, my Cherokee ancestors among them, but they were sadly not going to hold on to this land regardless of what the US did or did not do.

  • I’ve always thought the settlers had the best claim, since many were simply poor people seeking a better life. That is, immigrants. Given our just concern for immigrants today, I assume that should also apply to immigrants of old. Even if they came from Europe or the eastern US.

  • Excellent point, Dave Griffey. Invasion and conquest are OK when committed by liberals’ most-favored victim groups – here illegals – but not for the 19th century European immigrants. The leftists can’t keep consistent their BS.
    .

  • Certain of the English colonies, Connectict and Virginia most noticeably, claimed territory to the Pacific Coast.
    Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware all squabbled with Pennsylvania.
    Florida was ceded by Madrid, but the US did pay Madrid ($5 million, I think). The US bought the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon. In the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo the US agreed to pay $15 million to Mexico. The Gadsden Purchase was subsequent. Alaska was bought from Russia. The Pacific Northwest was a result of a settlement with Great Britain. The U S annexed Hawaii (someone else certainly would have if not the US) and Puerto Rico was the spoils of war with Spain….which would not have happened if Madrid had sold Cuba to the US.
    Now, compare that to what Imperial and Soviet Russia has done to its neighbors….or Great Britain for that matter.

Holy Thursday, Saint Justin Martyr and History

Thursday, March 24, AD 2016

justinmartyr4

Now, Justin concludes, since Christianity is the historical and personal manifestation of the Logos in his totality, it follows that “whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of us Christians” (Second Apology of St Justin Martyr, 13: 4).

Pope Benedict XVI, March 21, 2007

 

 

On Holy Thursday we commemorate the first Mass, the first miracle of the Eucharist.  None of us having been there, how do we know it occurred?  Faith of course, but faith buttressed by the knowledge that our Faith is supported by historical facts.  We know when Christ lived.  At each Mass we remember that He suffered under Pontius Pilate which allows us to date the Crucifixion and the Last Supper to plus or minus a few years.  We know when Caiaphas was High Priest.  Judaea, the province in which Christ lived, was not some make-believe land but a province of the Roman Empire and we know much about it at the time of Christ.  Above all, we have the Gospels and the Epistles of Saint Paul, documents written while those who saw and heard Christ still lived.

This of course was only the start of the historical record of Catholicism, the Universal Church.  Each generation produced new writers who give us precious facts of the journey through history of the Faith of Christ.  One of the most important of the early writers about the Church is Saint Justin Martyr.

Justin Martyr was born in Flavia Neapolis, ancient Shechem,  modern day Nablus, in Judaea circa 100 AD.  He was brought up a pagan.  Having enough money to pursue the study of philosophy, he encountered the teachings of Christ, after a long and methodical search for the true philosophy, and became a convert.  Having found the true philosophy, he traveled around the Roman Empire, spreading it, garbed in his philosopher’s gown.  Eventually he settled in Rome.  He wrote eight treatises defending Christianity.  His best known work is his First Apology which he addressed to the Roman Emperor Antonius Pius, one of the best of the emperors, who reigned from 138-161 AD.  This Apology was a plea for the Emperor to stop persecuting the Christians.  In this Apology he gives us many details as to how Catholics worshiped in Rome during the middle of the Second Century.   His description of the Eucharist is a treasure for all Catholics as we attend Holy Thursday Mass today.

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One Response to Holy Thursday, Saint Justin Martyr and History

To Remain Forever a Child

Friday, February 26, AD 2016

quote-we-study-history-not-to-be-clever-in-another-time-but-to-be-wise-always-marcus-tullius-cicero-56-66-56

 

 

Hattip to Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts.  Patrick Deneen who teaches political theory at Notre Dame decries the ignorance of his pleasant students in a post entitled Res Idiotica:

 

My students are know-nothings.  They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent.  But their minds are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation.  They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten it origins and aims, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference about itself.

It’s difficult to gain admissions to the schools where I’ve taught – Princeton, Georgetown, and now Notre Dame.  Students at these institutions have done what has been demanded of them:  they are superb test-takers, they know exactly what is needed to get an A in every class (meaning that they rarely allow themselves to become passionate and invested in any one subject), they build superb resumes.   They are respectful and cordial to their elders, though with their peers (as snatches of passing conversation reveal), easygoing if crude.  They respect diversity (without having the slightest clue what diversity is) and they are experts in the arts of non-judgmentalism (at least publically).  They are the cream of their generation, the masters of the universe, a generation-in-waiting who will run America and the world.

But ask them some basic questions about the civilization they will be inheriting, and be prepared for averted eyes and somewhat panicked looks.  Who fought in the Peloponnesian war?  What was at stake at the Battle of Salamis?  Who taught Plato, and whom did Plato teach?  How did Socrates die?  Raise your hand if you have read both the Iliad and the Odyssey.  The Canterbury Tales?  Paradise Lost?  The Inferno

He contends that this pathetic ignorance among students who should be the most learned among their generation is no accident:

We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders.  What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, historyless free agents, and educational goals composed of contentless processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”  Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes “flexibility” (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).  In such a world, possessing a culture, a history, an inheritance, a commitment to a place and particular people, specific forms of gratitude and indebtedness (rather than a generalized and deracinated commitment to “social justice), a strong set of ethical and moral norms that assert definite limits to what one ought and ought not to do (aside from being “judgmental”) are hindrances and handicaps.  Regardless of major or course of study, the main object of modern education is to sand off remnants of any cultural or historical specificity and identity that might still stick to our students, to make them perfect company men and women for a modern polity and economy that penalizes deep commitments.   Efforts first to foster appreciation for “multi-culturalism” signaled a dedication to eviscerate any particular cultural inheritance, while the current fad of “diversity” signals thoroughgoing commitment to de-cultured and relentless homogenization.

Go here to read the rest.  Now such ignorance is appalling but why?  Cicero said it best:  “Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child.”   One of the chief goals of education should be to produce morally responsible men and women, not forever children, and hard won knowledge is usually an essential part of the process.  Deneen has a series of questions to underline the ignorance of his students:

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20 Responses to To Remain Forever a Child

  • We are in for a lot of trouble. Ignorance is not bliss; it is a tragedy.

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

  • “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

    Condemned to repeat its more harrowing aspects of it.

  • Marcus Tullius Cicero – my favorite statesman!
    .
    If I had my way, his writings would be mandatory reading in high school – in the original Latin.

  • I might add that the effect, if not the very purpose, of modern education, is to erase all ties between western civilization and its Judeo-Christian roots.
    The battle is always, as St Paul reminded us, with the powers and Principalities….

  • Think this is new? I graduated from high school in 1982 – a third of a century ago. I never read any of those works, not in high school or college, for which I was ill prepared both academically and financially.

    School systems teach tests now as a sign of “academic excellence”. Ha.
    Young people, thanks to their parents and their never ending infatuation with pop culture, have no knowledge of God, only of the half truths and lies taught as fact about Christianity.

  • Penguins Fan has a point. I graduated in 1976. Mine was the last Latin class. I was the last person to be taught Caesar, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Catullus, Tacitus and Aurelius in that school. The Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid – all things I had to read in high school (and I had to translate the last one) are unknown to today’s wide-eyed spoiled brat millennials. It’s depressing. I as a Catholic even know the Bible better than my Sola Scriptura Baptist friends. People nowadays – unless it is something directly related to their jobs or a hobby they do at home – are bone head ignorant. So if they don’t know Plato and Cicero, then how can we point to Aquinas’ arguments about God’s existence in Summa Theologica as they argue for materialistic scientism taught in today’s Academia? There is no common ground. They have no foundation. They do not know nor would they understand that our Republic is built on Greek philosophy, Roman law, and Judeo-Christian religious tradition. Zeno, Epicurus, Epictetus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Herodatus, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Cincinnatus, Scipio Africanus, Cato, Cicero, etc. are all names meaningless to these idiot children. And they are our future. God help us.

  • The problem is multi-generational, since Deneen isn’t saying anything that Bloom hadn’t already said. Barzun too, for that matter.

  • You don’t know where you are until you know where you’ve been.

  • Deneen is making a different argument than Bloom did. He’s citing the same symptoms but giving a different diagnosis. Bloom described cultural ignorance as more of a bug. Deneen describes it as a feature. It’s a provocative position, but I’m not sure that I agree with it. I think the answer is that awareness of our common culture and history is just a very low priority.

  • At Yorktown, Washington and our French allies forced Cornwallis to surrender his Army in 1781, ending, mostly, the combat portion of the American Revolution, although negotiating the peace would take until 1783. Understanding of the United States is impossible unless one comes to grips with the American Revolution and its aftermath.

    I know that one!
    “At Yorktown the British could not retreat
    Bottled up by Washington and the French fleet.
    Cornwallis surrendered and finally we had won! (The Winna! Hurray!)

    From the shot heard ’round the world
    To the end of the Revolution
    The continental rabble took the day
    And the father of our country
    Beat the British there at Yorktown
    And brought freedom to you and me and the U.S.A.!

    God bless America, let freedom ring!

    As you may guess, it was not from school history class.
    ****
    Lincoln had no third inaugural. (Without a substantial knowledge base, students are always prey to the trick question!)
    You had me wondering if it was a trick question, or if I was somehow messed up about what an inaugural address was. 😀
    Which actually wraps around to a big point– there isn’t much of a cost to not saying anything. But if you speak up, and get it wrong– or, worse yet, say something true that the teacher doesn’t like– there can be a very high cost.

  • Foxfier, I have always contended that The Shot Heard Round the World, from Schoolhouse Rock gives an excellent summary of the Revolutionary War. It manages to include the opening battles of the war, Washington as the central figure of the war, the role of the militia, the endurance of the Continentals, the battle of Trenton, Valley Forge, the frequent defeats of the Americans, American determination, the importance of diplomacy and foreign intervention, constant raiding and skirmishing and the decisive victory at Yorktown. I confess to always tearing up a bit at “The continental rabble took the day.”

  • That’s where Barzun’s House of Intellect comes into the mix Pinky. Culture is a low priority because the Culture cultivating and transmitting institutions treat their primary mission as secondary as the true primary mission becomes endowment building.

  • One cannot know why things are the way they are until one knows history. Bill Clinton, the first infatile President, was quoted, I believe, to think that nothing important happened before his birth.

    A whole lot of the problems we face today began or accelerated with him. Knuckleheaded young people fall for Bernie Sanders’ garbage. The MSM is in the tank for Shrillary the should Be Convict.

  • What’s in a name? Garbage by any other name would still stink the same. Perhaps the Democratic Party is due for a name change. Rather than strain their brain in search of a novel new name, I suggest one discarded and available. The Know Nothing Party is presently quite descriptive of their party.

  • Sadly, this is part of the explanation of the primaries in the United States this year.

  • Talk about ignorance? How about Catholics? Tell me what percentage know or understand Catholic history or Church teaching? It is the fault of the Church. How often have you heard a priest in his homily explain church teaching? Why do we believe Christ is most present in the Eucharist? Why is the Church against abortion and contraception? Why would Christ prefer we confess to a priest? Why pray to the saints? I could go on and on.

  • It’s difficult to gain admissions to the schools where I’ve taught – Princeton, Georgetown, and now Notre Dame. Students at these institutions have done what has been demanded of them: they are superb test-takers, they know exactly what is needed to get an A in every class (meaning that they rarely allow themselves to become passionate and invested in any one subject), they build superb resumes.

    Colleges and universities get the students they admit.
     
    Then there’s the example of a graduate of my region’s Jesuit high school, a kid from a Catholic family and a product of Catholic parochial schools, who upon meeting a classmate years after high school graduation was startled to discover that his classmate was now a Catholic priest then said, “I’m not Catholic any more. I’ve become a Christian.”

  • Think this is new? I graduated from high school in 1982 – a third of a century ago. I never read any of those works, not in high school or college…
    Penguin Fan

    I’m of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus’s vintage. I apologize that we used up all the books and didn’t leave any for you. I thought everyone on a high school college track was assigned some Chaucer, Wife of Bath at least. Maybe it became thought too bawdy for high school kids when that moralizing Southern Baptist from Jawjuh was elected National Sunday School Nanny president. I encountered US History in grade school, middle school, and high school; Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in high school; all that English history in high school; read the Iliad and Odysseyin translation in sixth grade (that was the first time I had a man for a teacher, he liked to teach those two stories and a smattering of ancient Greek history–Thermopylae!–with ’em) but missed the Aeneid because I was too chicken to attempt high school Latin. (Like millions of other kids looking for an easy way to meet a college foreign language requirement, I took Spanish instead, 5 years of it between middle school and high school but I can’t speak it and I’ve never been to a Spanish-speaking country–unless you count Texas and California. If only I’d been brave enough to have taken German, that turned out to be useful in my working years multiple times.)
     
    Then I went to university to study engineering. Six non-skill courses was the breadth requirement for Engineering majors. I took a philosophy class and petitioned to be graded pass/fail ’cause I was a gear-head dummy who din’ know nuthin’ ’bout literature an’ dem liberal arts things. When the class was over I was relieved to have earned a Pass grade. I had felt like an impostor who didn’t belong there. The professor asked me why I hadn’t taken the class for a letter grade. I explained and the professor told me too bad, my marks had earned an A.

  • Bravo to Micha Elyi. I wish I could have studied under a professor like you at college. There are two few of such people left anywhere.

  • Talk about ignorance? How about Catholics? Tell me what percentage know or understand Catholic history or Church teaching?
    *looks guiltily at her collection of half-finished Conspiracies and Catholicism posts* Working on it, takes a little while with the whole run and find out yourself stuff…..
    *****
    I’m of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus’s vintage. I apologize that we used up all the books and didn’t leave any for you. I thought everyone on a high school college track was assigned some Chaucer, Wife of Bath at least.
    It’s not that the books aren’t around, it’s that you can’t get a straight, simple, basic class about them. (Look at various “by the Bible” churches to see how horribly wrong just reading stuff yourself can go– and that assumes you don’t run into someone’s pet hobbyhorse dressed as objective scholarship.)
    It’s all deconstruction– which is fine if you already have the foundation, then you can build something up again, but when the only way you’re ever introduced to something is to have planks ripped out of it and thrown at your head, not so much.
    A lot of the time it’s like the American hating history classes– the training is designed by someone who, 60 years ago, got the very basic “I cannot tell a lie” level of history and has worked for their entire adult life to correct it.
    I can’t count the number of times that me, being the type of person I am, asked a teacher why we were hammering so hard on a specific point– and long story short, it’s correcting for a “lack” three generations back. It would be alright if the thing it was correcting had ever been offered to us…but it wasn’t.
    We spent more time on the thrice-cursed 60s than we did on all of Europe’s history pre-Bismark. (and we only learned about Bismark at all because the gym teacher had a big rant about how if he’d been in charge, Germany would control Europe; no idea how accurate it was, because we didn’t get any blessed information!)

Christ and History

Monday, December 28, AD 2015

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Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest, who normally writes on purely secular topics, has an interesting Christmas column up:

 

The Christian claim about the Virgin Birth is meant as a radical announcement that Christianity is different. Christianity is not another ‘how-to’ manual telling people how to act vis-à-vis the Creator. It’s not about what kinds of foods are holy and what kinds are impure. It’s not about how to wash your hands or which way you should face when you pray.

 

 

Christianity is much more than a group of people trying to fulfill the teaching of a revered founder; it is a community of people gathered around a world changing hero. Jesus came to save and not just to teach. He did not fulfill his mission by giving the Sermon on the Mount; he fulfilled it by dying on the cross and by rising from the dead.

 

 

More, Jesus could not have fulfilled this mission if he was simply a heroic man. The human race has many heroes and history is filled with the examples of people who gave their lives for others. You can to go the Normandy beaches and see row upon row of graves of people who gave their lives that others might live and be free. Jesus accomplished more through his death because he was more than just another human being; the gospel writers and the Christians who accept their testimony believe that Jesus was also the Son of God. It was God who died upon that cross, God who took the responsibility for human sin, God who drank the cup of human suffering to the bottom.

 

 

The story of the Virgin Birth isn’t there to set up the Sermon on the Mount as the Greatest Moral Lecture in the History of Mankind. It is there because it communicates the deepest, most important truth about Jesus: that he was a human being, but more than a human being as well. It is not an accidental detail or an embellishment; it is not an awkward defense against an embarrassing rumor. It is not the result of scientific ignorance about how babies are made; it is a statement about how this particular baby was different from all the rest.

 

 

That is the main theological point that Luke’s account makes. But he had another end in view, and this is also something to remember as we think Christmas through. The story of the Virgin Birth isn’t just a story about Jesus.  The gospels are also making a point about Mary and through her about women in general. Ancient Christian writers frequently referred to Mary as the Second Eve. The first Eve, as just about everyone knows even today, was Adam’s wife. According to the first book of the Bible (Genesis), she yielded to the temptation of the serpent in the Garden of Eden to disobey God and taste the forbidden fruit. Adam went on and tasted it for himself; ever since then men have been blaming women for all the trouble in the world. For millennia men have used the Biblical story and similar stories and folk tales to justify the second-class status to which women have been historically relegated in much of the world. (In some parts of the world, poorly behaved and uneducated young men call their vicious harassment of women “Eve-teasing.”)

 

 

The figure of the Virgin Mary marks a turning point. She is the Second Eve, the one who said ‘yes’ to God when he asked her to be the mother of his son. When God really needed help, the Bible teaches, he went to a woman, not to a man. And the woman said ‘yes,’ and out of her faith and obedience came the salvation of the world.

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One Response to Christ and History

  • Fr. Larry Richard rightly states that the Incarnation of Christ is the singular most important event in the universe since the Big Bang.

    Numerous societies before and after Christ has not been kind to women. Islam treats women as property. Hinduism had the nasty habit of burning the surviving widow on the pyre of her dead husband. I will omit any discussion of Judaism.

    Who else but Christianity exalts women? Certainly not modern feminism. Modern feminism seeks to demean the traditional role of women and demeans women who do not seek to act like men.

    It is a shame our “separated brethren” (dying Protestantism) often ignore the beginning of the Gospel of St. Luke, but the lamented Fr. Corapi once stated that you can’t expect Jesus to listen to you if you “diss his mother”.

    Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. This is a concept that the Patristic writers developed. The Ark of the Covenant was considered to be so holy that death struck anyone who touched it who was not of the tribe of Levi. How much more important Mary is that the Ark?

    The Church Christ founded went on to convert the Roman Empire, East and West. Even though the Western Empire collapsed, the Church Christ founded tamed and converted the barbarians and rebuilt Western culture. It beat back the Muslim invaders. It converted the Slavs. It evangelized two thirds of the Western Hemisphere and put an end to human sacrifice.

Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: Explaining the Unexplainable

Sunday, December 20, AD 2015

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The fourth and final part of our Advent look at Jesus as the greatest Black Swan event in human history.  Go here to read part one, here to read part two and here to read part three.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his 2007 book The Black Swan, took a look at the impact of events in history for which our prior experiences give us no inkling.  Taleb states three requirements for a Black Swan Event:

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

The all important question about Christ is the one He asked.  Who do you say that I am?  In trying to make sense of Christ and his ever present impact upon this world, that is the question that is ever addressed.

A popular answer among some atheists is that Christ never existed.  This has always been a minority position since the evidence for the historicity of Christ is so overwhelming, especially for a figure who lived in obscurity.  Written accounts by His followers were drafted within decades after His death.  Non-Christian accounts, notably Tacitus, mention Christ.  His followers in Rome are persecuted within thirty years after His death.  Attempts to get around all this involve large amounts of conspiracy theories, ignoring inconvenient facts and academic hand-waving.  Regarding Christ as a myth may satisfy a semi-educated atheist, but it simply is not an intellectually honest position.

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4 Responses to Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: Explaining the Unexplainable

  • The attempt to disentangle the “Jesus of history” from the “Christ of faith,” began almost exactly 200 years ago, with t he great revival of theology and, especially, of biblical criticism in the German universities of Tübingen and Halle after the Napoleonic Wars.

    Despite generations of minute and painstaking scholarship, the result has been an abject failure; it is simply not possible, with whatever ingenuity, to separate the Gospel narratives into strata, with an historical (presumably non-miraculous) core. The last and greatest attempt was that of Rudolf Bultmann, who frankly confessed that it was like peeling the layers of an onion; at the end of the process, nothing is left.

    What this research did establish is that we can be absolutely sure that text of the four canonical gospels, as we now have it in Nestle’s, Tischendorf’s and Westcott & Hort’s editions is free of corruptions and interpolations, apart from minor verbal changes or slips of the pen that do not affect the meaning of the narrative n the least. It is, for all practical purposes, Erasmus’s text of 1513.

    The related suggestion that Christianity is the invention of St Paul has fared no better. Patristic scholarship has confirmed a continuous tradition, from St Ignatius of Antioch (c 35 – c 110) and Polycarp (69-155), both of whom had “spoken with John and others who had seen the Lord,” to St Irenaeus (130-220), who well remembered Polycarp. Needless to say, there is no suggestion of two rival traditions, the Pauline and the Johannine in any of them (or anywhere else, for that matter). We can add Justin Martyr, born at Nablus in Palestine around 100 and who died at Rome in 165, who represents the traditions of the Churches of Palestine and Syria.

  • If Christ is the greatest Black Swan in history I wonder if we can say that Pope Francis is the greatest Black Sheep in history? Why so? Because Pope Francis represents Christ on earth while rejecting his teaching.

  • Two good comments above 🙂
    But, I don’t know if He can be categorized a “black swan” phenomenon. He doesn’t seem to fit.
    Christ was expected, the extremity of His impact only became more recognizable as time went on, and the efforts of people to explain Him away after about 1800 years are being seriously rolled back today

  • “Christ was expected”

    Not really. The Jews were expecting a different type of Messiah and the Romans certainly did not expect the Son of God to come as a Jew! Jesus defied expectations or analysis really, now just as much as then.

Chain of Memory

Wednesday, October 14, AD 2015

 

My wife and I were watching the movie The Way Ahead (1944), shown as Immortal Battalion in a truncated version in the US, last night, the story of the transformation of a grumbling group of British civilians into soldiers, and I was struck by this speech given by the platoon commander after his unit intentionally messed up on maneuvers:

 

“When this regiment was formed our country was doing pretty badly. Napoleon’s armies were just across the channel getting ready to invade us, we’d had defeat after defeat, and a great many people thought we were finished. We weren’t… But, not because we were lucky.

When the first battalion of this regiment marched it was against Napoleon… Talavera, eighteen hundred and nine, that was the first battle they made their own, and they marched 42 miles in 24 hours of a Spanish Summer, and every man jack of ’em carried a sixty pound pack. Talavera, look at your cap badges, you’ll see the name on it, and the other battles too… Barrosa, Sabugal… At Sabugal, together with four companies of riflemen, they defeated five times the number of Napoleon’s troops… Salamanca, Orthez, Waterloo, Alma, Sebastopol, Tel el-Kebir, Mons, Ypres, Somme… Those are battle honours!

You’re allowed to wear that badge with those names on it to show that you belong the the regiment that won them, and that when the time comes you’ll do as well as they did. Last year that badge was in France, this year, in Libya. It hasn’t been disgraced yet… Now you’re wearing it.

I know what went wrong today, it so happens that Captain Edwards doesn’t. You needn’t worry, I’m not going to tell him, he’s quite depressed enough as it is to think that it was his company that let the whole battalion down. But, I just want to tell you this… If you ever get near any real fighting… I don’t suppose you’ll ever be good enough, but, if you do… You’ll find that you’re looking to other men not to let you down. If you’re lucky, you’ll have soldiers like Captain Edwards and Sergeant  Fletcher to look to. If they’re lucky, they’ll be with another company!”

The actor delivering the speech was the late David Niven.  It is a brilliant evocation of history to remind members of a unit that they are part of a chain stretching through time and it is up to them not to dishonor by their actions those who came before in that chain.   As we make our way through this Vale of Tears it is something to remember since we all belong to such chains:  family, church, nation, fraternal organizations, bands of friends, etc.   Our actions do not impact only ourselves.

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2 Responses to Chain of Memory

  • One of the many reasons your blog is my first read every morning. Thank you Donald. I have a son at the Air Force Academy and, while there, he has heard much about his responsibility to those who have gone before. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard this. He was raised to understand he was part of something bigger than himself and he owed his best, at all times, to others who were counting on him.

  • Agreed. Great post Donald.
    Life chain was two weekends ago.
    Our chain of silent soldiers stretched form the west end of our town to the eastern side.
    As long as the battle for the unborn is still being fought, we have 56 million reasons to speak up and defeat the barbarians of liberal thought. Until they respect life, the sanctity of life, we will be present and accounted for.
    Thank you for the reminder that nothing is lost as long as we stay together and March forward with the banner of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, indeed, have mercy on us.

The Many Faces of Dalton Trumbo

Tuesday, August 18, AD 2015

Hollywood …



… and history:

Hollywood’s Trumbo appears to be something of a whitewash of Stalinist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Portrayed as a victim of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), a closer investigation of history reveals that he did his fair share of censoring and “blacklisting” himself — against anti-Communists within the industry.

  • Hollywood’s Missing Movies: Why American films have ignored life under communism, by Kenneth Lloyd Billingsly. Reason June 2000:

    if Comintern fantasies of a Soviet Hollywood were never realized, party functionaries nevertheless played a significant role: They were sometimes able to prevent the production of movies they opposed. The party had not only helped organize the Screen Writers Guild, it had organized the Story Analysts Guild as well. Story analysts judge scripts and film treatments early in the decision making process. A dismissive report often means that a studio will pass on a proposed production. The party was thus well positioned to quash scripts and treatments with anti-Soviet content, along with stories that portrayed business and religion in a favorable light. In The Worker, Dalton Trumbo openly bragged that the following works had not reached the screen: Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and The Yogi and the Commissar; Victor Kravchenko’s I Chose Freedom; and Bernard Clare by James T. Farrell, also author of Studs Lonigan and vilified by party enforcer Mike Gold as “a vicious, voluble Trotskyite.”

  • The Stalinist Ten–A True Story About Communists in the Movie Industry, by Allan H. Ryskind. [excerpt from the newly released book, Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler, by Allan H. Ryskind]:

    Trumbo is less well known for a script that never made it to the screen: An American Story, whose plot outline, in the words of film historian Bernard F. Dick, goes like this: North Korea finally decides “to put an end to the border warfare instigated by South Korea by embarking upon a war of independence in June 1950.” (In his papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Trumbo says he “dramatized” Kim Il-sung’s supposedly righteous war for a group of fellow Communist screenwriters, including at least two Hollywood Ten members.)

    Trumbo also seemed to think that Stalin needed a bit of a reputation upgrade. So one finds in his papers a proposed novel, apparently written in the 1950s, in which a wise old Russian defends Stalin’s murderous reign as necessary for the supposedly grand achievements of Soviet socialism.

    Those celebrating Trumbo today as a sort of saintly curmudgeon do not feel obligated to mention this aspect of his Red ideology, nor do they point to his writings during the Soviet-Nazi Pact, when he was excusing Hitler’s con- quests. “To the vanquished,” he airily dismissed the critics of Nazi brutality, “all conquerors are inhuman.” For good measure he demonized Hitler’s major enemy, Great Britain, insisting that England was not a democracy, because it had a king, and accused FDR of “treason” and “black treason” for attempting to assist the British in their life-and-death struggle against the despot in Berlin.

  • Hollywood Celebrates Another Stalinist, by Allan H. Ryskind. CNSNews.com 01/05/15:

    … The evidence of Trumbo’s Red activities is hardly secret. He came clean, sort of, to his biographer, Bruce Cook, a writer of the upcoming Trumbo screenplay. He told Cook in the 1970s that he joined the party in 1943 (some FBI informants think he joined in the 1930s), that some of his “very best friends” were Communists and that “I might as well have been a Communist 10 years earlier….” He also says, about joining the party: “But I’ve never regretted it. As a matter of fact, it’s possible to say I would have regretted not having done it….”

    He said he let his party membership lapse after his HUAC appearance, possibly finding it difficult to pay his party dues after he was blacklisted, but he never publicly turned his back on communism or Stalin. Indeed, in his private papers he admits that he “reaffiliated with the party in 1954,” apparently his passion for a Communist America burning brightly as ever. So, by the historical record and his own account, he was in tune with the Soviet Union for nearly a quarter of a century, when Stalin was in his prime killing years.

  • Will the new Trumbo movie rehash old myths?, by Ronald Radosh. National Review 11/02/13:

    [Trumbo] bragged how he had used his position to stop anti-Communist films from being made. Stalin, he said, was “one of the democratic leaders of the world,” so he used his position to stop Trotsky’s biography of the dictator from being filmed, and did the same with anti-Communist books by James T. Farrell, Victor Kravchenko, and Arthur Koestler, all of which he called “untrue” and “reactionary.” As he explained in 1954 to a fellow blacklisted writer, the Communist party had a “fine tradition . . . that whenever a book or play or film is produced which is harmful to the best interests of the working class, that work and its author should and must be attacked in the sharpest possible terms.”

    Two years later, when many Communists learned some of the truth about Stalin from the Khrushchev speech, Trumbo wrote a comrade that he was not surprised. He explained that he had read the books by Koestler, George Orwell, James Burnham, Eugene Lyons, and Isaac Don Levine, who all had exposed the truth about the Soviet Union. These, of course, were the very books he had made sure would never be turned into movies. Trumbo supported Stalin, all the while knowing that he was a monster.

  • Flipping Hollywood’s Blacklist Narrative, by Ron Capshaw. Library of Law and Liberty 01/25/15:

    … All in all, Ryskind’s work is a welcome addition to the anticommunist corrections to the blacklist legend. He has written a convincing and well-sourced follow up to the pioneering effort of the Radoshes. Moreover, he has refused to play the warped victim son of a writer who was much maligned in his time and may have been black-listed (Morrie never got another script accepted after 1945). Instead he has focused on disputing how Hollywood then and now has rehabiliated what in essence were Stalinists.

  • Exclusive Author Interview with Allan Ryskind, Author of “Hollywood Traitors”, by Christopher N. Malagisi.
  • Who was Dalton Trumbo, Screenwriter and Stalinist?, by Ron Capshaw. The American Spectator 01/06/15.

  • Dalton Got His Gun, by Stefan Kanfer. City Journal 02/27/15. “The lodestar of the Hollywood blacklist was all that his fans said he was—and less.” [Review of Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo, and Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters, Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler by Allan H. Ryskind].
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4 Responses to The Many Faces of Dalton Trumbo

  • Stalin will always have his defenders.

    As recently as 2006, Alain Badiou, the long-serving professor of philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, France’s leading teacher training college for university lecturers and high school principals, wrote in his Logiques des mondes that “Materialist dialectics assumes, without particular joy, that, till now, no political subject was able to arrive at the eternity of the truth it was deploying without moments of terror. Since, as Saint-Just asked: “What do those who want neither Virtue nor Terror want?” His answer is well-known: they want corruption – another name for the subject’s defeat.”

    The scourge of the French Socialist Party (the equivalent of the American Democratic Party), Badiou is tireless in insisting that “if you say A – equality, human rights and freedoms – you should not shirk from its consequences and gather the courage to say B – the terror needed to really defend and assert the A.”

    In 2014, at the age of 77, Badiou became president of The Global Center for Advanced Studies in Wyoming MI

  • Great post, Chris.
    ***
    The fact is that Hollywood is getting ready to beatify via cinema a man who was a vocal apologist for Hitler when it suited Stalin to ally himself to Hitler, who then, after the war, compared Winston Churchill to the Nazis for warning about Soviet expansionism.
    ***
    The irony. The man who stood virtually alone in defiantly battling the Nazis gets compared to the Nazis by a small, trifling man who actually propagandized on behalf of the Nazis and was an active apologist for their oppression of those whom they vanquished.
    ***
    And this small, trifling man who justified the worst deprivations of freedom by the worst monsters in history (in Stalin, Hitler, and Kim Il-Sung) is who Hollywood, unsurprisingly, has chosen to make a “hero”, “defender” of freedom, and “martyr” to “right-wing repression”.

  • Great. Hollywood, under the guise of celebrating freedom, will lionize a guy whose sympathies lay with a system built on anything but.
    .
    And the sheep will eat and they will be made glad.
    .
    “If you control the past, you control the present.” – George Orwell, 1984

Historical Truth and the Crusades

Sunday, April 12, AD 2015

 

Hatttip to John Hinderacker at  Powerline for the above video by Dr. Bill Warner in which he states a fact that is obvious from the historical record:  the Crusades were a tardy, and defensive, reaction to an ongoing Islamic Jihad that would continue against Christendom until the technological gap in the nineteenth century rendered Islamic states, for the moment, largely militarily impotent:

 

It has been a couple of months since Barack Obama suggested that the Crusades were somehow on a par with, or even a justification for, 21st-century Islamic terrorism. I objected to Obama’s casual slur at the link, saying, among other things:

There was nothing wrong, in principle, with the Crusades. They were an appropriate (if belated and badly managed) response to the conquest of the Holy Land by Islam. Did marauding 11th century armies inevitably commit outrages? They certainly did. In fact, that still happens today. But the most unfortunate thing about the Crusades is that they failed.

I have been hanging on to this video by Dr. Bill Warner of the Center for the Study of Political Islam for a while now, waiting for the Crusades to come back into the news. Which hasn’t happened. So here it is. Dr. Warner’s point, which he makes persuasively, is that the Crusades were a mere blip compared to the centuries-long, and nearly successful, assault on Christendom by Islamic armies bent on conquest.

It is frankly ludicrous for contemporary Muslims to whine about the Crusades.

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6 Responses to Historical Truth and the Crusades

  • Fantastic video. Thank you very much.
    Great Bil Warner

  • The enemies of God and man own the truth, which is that which advances the nightmarish agenda.

  • T. Shaw, truth comes from God. What advances the nightmarish agenda are lies.

    Sadly, Spain and Portugal, the two nations who freed themselves from 800 years of Islam, not 400 as stated in the video, have abandoned their Catholic past. By the 13th century the Moors had been occupying Granada but not much else of Spain.

    Before Vatican II the Church knew how to deal with Islam. After Vatican II, we are stuck with nonsense. Pelayo, Charles Martel, King Alfonso the Avenger, King San Fernando, Queen Isabel the Catholic and Servant of God, Don Juan of Austria and King John Sobieski knew how to deal with Islam. Turn the jihadists into a big red spot on the ground.

  • The really successful Crusades were the Northern or Baltic Crusades, beginning with the Wendish and Livonian Crusades in the 12th century and culminating in the Prussian and Lithuanian Crusades from the end of the 12th to the end of the 14th century.

    They were chiefly organised by the greatest of the military orders, the Brethren of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, commonly called the Teutonic Knights.

  • More amusing, until recently the same groups were claiming the Crusades showed what a great victory they’d had– after all, the Christians didn’t get all of their land back.

  • Pingback: Pastoral Sharings: "Third Sunday of Easter" | St. John

But Wasn’t the Church Invented in 1965?

Tuesday, November 18, AD 2014

Cardinal Newman History

 

 

Pat Archbold is on fire over at National Catholic Register:

But the common usage of ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ extends its use beyond as just an interpretive lens of the council. Today, it has become a crutch and a cudgel.  It is a crutch in that the hierarchy of the Church no longer feels obligated to clarity in its communications, but regularly unitizes and embraces ambiguity out of laziness or even possibly sometimes with more nefarious motives.  The bottom line is there is no understood obligation on the part of the magisterium to teach and communicate in the clearest and most unambiguous way possible.

Rather, too much communication in recent years has gone beyond mere ambiguity approaching clear contradiction, leaving it up to those few still concerned with continuity to develop a lens suitable to a proper catholic understanding.  If you have to squint, turn your head left 45 degrees, and stand on one foot to view a modern church communication as Catholic, well then you had better do it bub.  In this way, the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ is a rhetorical cudgel used to beat anyone who dares to notice any discontinuity. 

Why is it now our obligation to assume even the most contradictory utterances and writings are in conformity with immutable Catholic teaching but no longer their obligation to clearly demonstrate that continuity?

I know it may seem antediluvian to suggest this, but read Pascendi Dominici Gregis, or the encyclicals of Leo XII, read any of great encyclicals of the centuries prior to 1960, is any hermeneutic necessary to understand them?  Are copious context and a rose-colored lens necessary to view them in continuity with all that came before?  No, they are plainly and obviously Catholic with many references to Popes and documents before them to establish clearly in the mind of the reader that what is being taught has always and everywhere been taught. 

But is unfortunately rare today that modern Church teaching and communications refer or quote, in any meaningful way, Church documents prior to 1960.  It seems obvious to me that this is purposeful, as the clarity of those documents do not serve the resolute ambiguity now so desired.

The unconverted person looking in from the outside could be forgiven for assuming that a 2,000 yr. old Church that is afraid to quote itself beyond the last 50 years is either unworthy of belief or unworthy of its beliefs.

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12 Responses to But Wasn’t the Church Invented in 1965?

  • To suggest that, in the past, papal pronouncements were free of ambiguity, is fanciful.
    Consider the ink spilt over the condemnation of the famous Five Propositions of Jansenism in Cum Occasione, or of the propositions of Quesnel condemned in Unigenitus and which so divided the Church in France. In neither was a word of explanation offered.
    In Unigenitus, 101 quotations are taken from Quesnel’s works followed by these words, “Declared and condemned as false, captious, evil-sounding, offensive to pious ears, scandalous, pernicious, rash, injurious to the Church and her practice, insulting not only to the Church but also the secular powers, seditious, impious, blasphemous, suspected of heresy, and smacking of heresy itself, and, besides, favouring heretics and heresies, and also schisms, erroneous, close to heresy, many times condemned, and finally heretical, clearly renewing many heresies respectively and most especially those which are contained in the infamous propositions of Jansen, and indeed accepted in that sense in which these have been condemned.”
    It does not even say which epithets apply to which propositions, for each cannot apply to all (a proposition cannot be both “heretical” and “close to heresy”)
    No wonder Bl John Henry Newman wrote, “As to the condemnation of propositions all she tells us is, that the thesis condemned when taken as a whole, or, again, when viewed in its context, is heretical, or blasphemous, or impious, or whatever like epithet she affixes to it. We have only to trust her so far as to allow ourselves to be warned against the thesis, or the work containing it. Theologians employ themselves in determining what precisely it is that is condemned in that thesis or treatise; and doubtless in most cases they do so with success; but that determination is not de fide; all that is of faith is that there is in that thesis itself, which is noted, heresy or error, or other like peccant matter, as the case may be, such, that the censure is a peremptory command to theologians, preachers, students, and all other whom it concerns, to keep clear of it. But so light is this obligation, that instances frequently occur, when it is successfully maintained by some new writer, that the Pope’s act does not imply what it has seemed to imply, and questions which seemed to be closed, are after a course of years re-opened. In discussions such as these, there is a real exercise of private judgment and an allowable one; the act of faith, which cannot be superseded or trifled with, being, I repeat, the unreserved acceptance that the thesis in question is heretical, or the like, as the Pope or the Church has spoken of it.”
    That “questions which seemed to be closed, are after a course of years re-opened,” hardly suggest lucid draftsmanship.

  • In 1965, the Church was bereft of the Communion of Saints as “The Church”. Redefining the “Church” by jettisoning the souls of the Saints in heaven and the souls of the Suffering in purgatory gave the innovators of the “Church” the chance to redefine Jesus Christ as a Pied Piper who embraces all souls and approves of all of our sins, giving us no reason to repent and God no reason to redeem man.
    .
    Yes, the “church” was invented in 1965, not the Catholic Church of the Saints in heaven, the suffering in Purgatory and the militant on earth, but a “church” of imposing a stripped down heresy of ” because I say so.” absent the Holy Spirit.

  • I hadn’t decided whether to write about it yet, but I actually thought that was a pretty weak offering by Archibald.

    I would agree that there is a tendency to vague-speak in recent Church documents. However, as Michael Paterson-Seymour says, I think it’s delusional to hold that Church documents from before 1965 don’t require any interpretation — something rather careful interpretation — in order to have them come out reasonably. Things that occur to me right off the bat are:

    – Statements from various points in Church history on usury
    – Social encyclicals
    – The Syllabus of Errors (and several other statements from that era, particularly ones dealing with questions of political liberty)

    Also, while I haven’t gone through and done a citation count, I don’t buy the claim that modern Church documents don’t cite ones from before 1965. Certainly, from having to read through several recent social teaching documents and show that they can be interpreted sanely, I know those plentifully cite documents from the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, even moving into other topics I don’t really think that we’d find that John Paul II and Benedict XVI cite prior Church teaching measurably less than Pius XII or Pius X. We can’t really measure yet for Francis, since the only encyclical he has put out was a warmed over (and not entirely finished) Benedict XVI encyclical.

  • Darwin Catholic

    You might want to add to your list oneof the shortest and most debated papal pronouncements of all time, Alexander VII’s Constitution “Ad sacram beati Petri Sedem,” Oct. 16, 1656

    “We declare and define that these five propositions have been taken from the book of the aforementioned Cornelius Jansen, Bishop of Ypres, entitled Augustinus, and in the sense understood by that same Cornelius condemned.”

    How, asked many of the puzzled faithful, can we know “the sense of Jansen?” It did not help that the Five Propositions are not, word for word, in the Augustinus, but purport to be a summary of certain (unidentified) statements in it.
    “To know what the pope means, we have to know what Jansen means and no one will tell us that, or, rather, a lot of people will, but they all say different things.”

  • Regarding the situation in the U.S. (and the rest of the Anglosphere)

    Andrew Greeley (engaging on sociological topics but a wretched priest and perfectly terrible as a producer of topical commentary) issued a memoir in 1986. It’s worth reading for the lacunae in it (as well as its unintentionally revealing components). Willy nilly the Church had by 1955 recruited and ordained a corps of priests liberally studded with those suffering from occult resentments, occult anxieties, (and, more infrequently, occult sexual disorders). These men may not have hated their lives in 1960, but they were vulnerable to such feelings when certain sorts of feedback ceased to be given by their peers or by respected superiors or by parishioners (and certainly Greeley vulnerable and took to various substitutes for a priestly vocation). I think you can speculate that the dynamic of action and reaction which has obtained has left you with the ruins we are living in now. I doubt the citation count in soporific papal encyclicals has much to do with it.

  • It is one thing to state that spiritual things are very deep and take lots of working out in our lives & the church body as a whole. It is entirely another to deliberately muddle things up around the edges in order to get your way without having to man up and state your purpose clearly. God is not the author of confusion.

  • The radical priest, I had mentioned earlier, often described
    the pre-Vatican II Church as mean and intolerant, which
    arrogantly claimed to be the one true Church. He mentioned
    briefly the scandals of bad popes, the inquisition, the crusades,
    and the usual nonsense. I was surprised the progressive priest didn’t
    associate the pre-Vatican II Church with the Nazis, the Klan,
    skinheads, Joseph McCarthy, the Committee on Un-American
    Activities, the militias, the tea party or hate radio.

    The great modernizer recently declared the laity is equal to the clergy
    and that the clergy must submit to the modern theological
    insights of the laity, which will end any conversation of the
    pre-Vatican II Church’s teachings.

  • Barbara Gordon

    There is a very good example of perfectly legitimate ambiguity in the 1950 Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, defining the doctrine of the Assumption.

    There had long been a difference of opinion among theologians as to whether the BVM had died or whether, like Enoch and Elijah, she had been assumed alive into heaven.

    Pope Pius XII did not choose to address their particular question, contenting himself with defining, “expleto terrestris vitae cursu” (when the course of her earthly life ended), which can obviously be read either way.

    Another occurs in the Council of Trent’s treatment of the prohibited degrees of marriage contained in Leviticus (18: 6-17). “If any one says, that those degrees only of consanguinity and affinity, which are set down in Leviticus, can hinder matrimony from being contracted, and dissolve it when contracted; and that the Church cannot dispense in some of those degrees, or establish that others may hinder and dissolve it ; let him be anathema.” (Sess XXIV c 3) The Council did not specify which of the Levitical degrees were dispensable and which not, because the Council Fathers were not agreed. Once again, we have perfectly legitimate ambiguity.

    Popes and Councils are infallible, not inspired. They cannot err in their definitions, but there is no guarantee that they know the answer to ever question anyone can raise.

  • “There is a very good example of perfectly legitimate ambiguity in the 1950 Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, defining the doctrine of the Assumption.”

    There is no problem with legitimate debate. Whether or not Biblical marriage is between a man & a woman is not an area of legitimate debate. Period.

    “Another occurs in the Council of Trent’s treatment of the prohibited degrees of marriage contained in Leviticus (18: 6-17). ‘If any one says, that those degrees only of consanguinity and affinity, which are set down in Leviticus, can hinder matrimony from being contracted, and dissolve it when contracted; and that the Church cannot dispense in some of those degrees, or establish that others may hinder and dissolve it ; let him be anathema.’ Sess XXIV c 3) The Council did not specify which of the Levitical degrees were dispensable and which not, because the Council Fathers were not agreed. Once again, we have perfectly legitimate ambiguity.”

    It is not a part of legitimate debate process for the pope to, by the slight of hand as it were, publish paragraphs in a final report which were actually voted down and should have been removed. It is sheer cowardice & manipulation.

    “Popes and Councils are infallible, not inspired. They cannot err in their definitions, but there is no guarantee that they know the answer to ever question anyone can raise.”

    Very interesting statement, MPS.

  • Barbara Gordon
    “Popes and Councils are infallible, not inspired. They cannot err in their definitions, but there is no guarantee that they know the answer to ever question anyone can raise.”

    Very interesting statement, MPS.
    Consider the history of disputes over the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
    In 1483, Pope Sixtus IV (a Fransiscan, who personally believed the doctrine) forbad both the supporters and defenders of the doctrine to accuse each other of heresy since “”up to this time there has been no decision made by the Roman Church and the Apostolic See.”
    The Council of Trent tiptoed round the issue, declaring in its decree on original sin: “… it is not its intention to include in this decree … the blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Rather, the Constitutions of Sixtus [IV] of happy memory are to be observed.”
    In 1567, Pope St Pius V renewed this constitution and forbad public disputations on the subject, whilst allowing the Dominicans to do so privately amongst themselves (He was himself a Dominican)
    Neither pope saw fit to make a dogmatic pronouncement, which suggests they entertained at least a measure of doubt and it was not until 1854 that Pope Bl Pius IX solemnly defined the doctrine as an article of faith.
    Of course, we must believe that, on urgent and important questions affecting the life of the Church, Popes and Councils will be given sufficient light.

  • “Of course, we must believe that, on urgent and important questions affecting the life of the Church, Popes and Councils will be given sufficient light.”

    Indeed! I myself have often been given insights by the Holy Spirit re: things in life that I later found taught as a principle in scripture. If it works that way for me on relevant matters to my life, I am sure that it will work that way for others. Of course their us wisdom in balance. Relevant scripture that come to mind are:

    “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.”–2 Timothy 2:23 KJV.

    “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.–Proverbs 1:7a

    “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”–John 16: 13

  • Just a few more asides:

    We have a full time job doing what we know to do. 🙂

    As has been said by another–it is what I do know that bothers me–not what I don’t know! 😉

    And then there is that principle of following the light that we have in order to be given more light. If we reject the light we have, it would be quite presumptuous to expect God to give us more.

The Civil War In Historical Memory

Friday, October 10, AD 2014

Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. I believe that firmly. It defined us. The Revolution did what it did. Our involvement in European wars, beginning with the First World War, did what it did. But the Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things. And it is very necessary, if you are going to understand the American character in the twentieth century, to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the mid-nineteenth century. It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.

Shelby Foote

An episode of an excellent series on YouTube, the Civil War in Four Minutes, the above video takes a look at the differing interpretations of the War by Americans.  The Civil War is, of course, an immense event in American history, perhaps the immense event in American history.  Most Americans I think do not understand how huge it is, simply because we think we are familiar with it, and because we are still too close to it in time for us to gain the historical perspective to judge.  The many, many differing interepretations of it:  a glorious war for human liberty, a valiant defense of States’ Rights, the war against the rebellion, the second American revolution, a needless conflict, etc, often say more about the times when the interpretations are made, than they do the Civil War itself.  Almost my entire life I have been studying the conflict.  However, the scholarly necromancy that we perform in historical texts can, at best, only put before our eyes pale shadows of what the War was like for the men and women on both sides who lived the triumphs and tragedies of a conflict so vast as to perhaps dwarf all our other historical experiences as a people.  Sadly, perhaps this scene from the John Adams miniseries sums up the daunting, if not futile, task of presenting to succeeding generations the reality of an event as historically significant as the Civil War:

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End of Summer, Feed Is Working Again, and The French Revolution

Monday, September 1, AD 2014

It’s the unofficial end of Summer and it’s my annual gratuitous post of myself day.  The pic below was taken in mid-July, but I waited to fix the feed to The American Catholic in order celebrate the Summer.  Needless to say, it’s fixed and the Summer is almost over.

During the Summer I asked my fellow blogger Don for some book recommendations for the French Revolution.  Of the few he did mentioned, I picked up Simon Schama’s ‘Citizen’.  The reading is in-depth, interesting, and balanced.  I’m a bit over halfway finished of the 948 pages and am so far impressed.  Considering that we are in the post-Cold War era, I wanted to know a bit more on the French Revolution since their errors have already engulfed Europe and has almost metastasizing here in the United States.  The book is good and if there is any criticism of Simon Schama’s work it’s that he views Christianity, in particular the Catholic Church, through a materialistic lens.

My opinion on the subject is that the French Revolution is the confluence of anti-Christian ideas emanating from the so-called era of enlightenment.  These very same ideas unleashed the short-term devastation of the rape of nuns, the execution of priests, and the degradation of houses of worship.  The long-term affects have furthered the cause of eliminating God from all aspects of life blossoming further in the Communist Revolution in Russia and continued to bear the fruit of death in World Wars I & II.  From this compost grew what we now call modern liberalism & democratic socialism.

End of Summer Tito Edwards Simon Schama Citizens 500x625Happy Labor Day!

 

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36 Responses to End of Summer, Feed Is Working Again, and The French Revolution

  • The best histories of the French Revolution probably remains those of two Catholic historians, Hilaire Belloc and Lord Acton.
    Belloc brings out the central rôle of Carnot, the War Minister and effective head of the Committee of Public Safety and gives full credit to the “generation of genius,” Kléber, Moreau, Reynier, Marceau, and Ney commanding the army of Sambre et Meuse, Hoche, Desaix, and St. Cyr on the Rhine and, above all, Bonaparte and Masséna in the Appenine campaign.
    Acton rightly divined the underlying political motive. “The hatred of royalty was less than the hatred of aristocracy; privileges were more detested than tyranny; and the king perished because of the origin of his authority rather than because of its abuse. Monarchy unconnected with aristocracy became popular in France, even when most uncontrolled; whilst the attempt to reconstitute the throne, and to limit and fence it with its peers, broke down, because the old Teutonic elements on which it relied – hereditary nobility, primogeniture, and privilege — were no longer tolerated. The substance of the ideas of 1789 is not the limitation of the sovereign power, but the abrogation of intermediate powers.”
    The love of equality, the hatred of nobility and the tolerance of despotism naturally go together, for, If the central power is weak, the secondary powers will run riot and oppress The Empire was the consummation of the Revolution, not its reversal and Napoléon’s armies gave a code of laws and the principle of equal citizenship to a continent.

  • Thanks Michael!

    Those recommendations are going on my Reading List for next Summer, awesome!

  • Simon Schama’s ‘Citizens’ was published for the bicentenary of the French Revolution. It is regarded as the best work on the subject in the 20th century. The French hated it, calling it ‘Thatcherite history’. Its main thesis, that the violence of the Revolution was inherent, particularly upset them.

    In particular, Schama makes the point that pre-Revolutionary France was not an ossified feudal society but one that was obsessed with modernity. He also stresses that when the revolutionaries destroyed the Church they destroyed the social welfare system with drastic results in the 1790s.

    People tend to mythologize their revolutions. Englishmen did so regarding 1688; Americans still do over theirs (even though many of the mythologizers are well-educated) and the French are no exception.

  • Odd that Michael Peterson-Seymour (who sounds as if his ancestors fought at Waterloo) should be an unreconstructed Bonapartist. All the more so since one assumes that he is a Catholic.

  • I find a 948 page book to be daunting.

    I am eagerly awaiting the shortest book in history: subject what Obama did right.

  • I want to clarify that the criticism of Simon Schama’s book, Citizen, is my own. He refers to nuns and monks and unfulfilled citizens, it, not meeting any of their potential because they are cloistered. I am not sure if he was be sarcastic, which would be fine, or serious, which would explain my criticism.

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  • My complete recommendations to Tito:

    “In regard to the French Revolution a good starting point is Citizens by Simon Schama:

    http://www.amazon.com/Citizens-A-Chronicle-French-Revolution/dp/0679726101

    Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France still cannot be beat as an analysis of the early Revolution and is eerily prophetic. Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution is quite dated, and written in his usual odd style, but has valuable insights overlooked by many modern commenters.

    The late Henri Lefebvre, although a Marxist, did valuable work on both the French Revolution and Napoleon and I recommend his tomes. His style is dry as dust, but his research is impeccable.”

  • Um, what beach was that?

  • Tito Edwards: I expected you would look more like Padre Pio. You look happy.

  • Tamsin,

    An undisclosed location on the gulf coast of Florida.

    Mary De Voe,

    LOL. Very happy, my wife was there with me, but she had to take the picture. 🙂

  • My brother Mike lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Say “Hi” to him for me.

  • Thank you for fixing the feed!

  • Tito, I share your view of the French Revolution. It lives on in the Social Radicalism that permeates so much of our politics. Social Radicalism is a phenomenon that bears close scrutiny. It transcends the individual with a mindset all its own. If not scrutinized and moderated the mindset morphs into moral chaos. This can happen in slow creeping fashion or with the rapidity of revolution. The French Revolution is a signal example. It started with the whole nation seeking to justly address a financial crisis but rapidly resolved into open rebellion and uncontrollable rage. Carlyle describes it thus: “On a sudden, the Earth yawns asunder, and amid Tartarean smoke, and glare of fierce brightness, rises SANSCULOTTISM, many-headed, fire-breathing, and asks; What think ye of me?” Do I engage in hyperbole when I compare the presentable, well-clothed and well-intended modern social radical with the maddened mob of Paris? Yes but to make a point. I cross a Robespierre and risk the guillotine, the loss of my life. The modern well-dressed social-radical only asks that I risk my soul. Who does me less violence?

  • John Nolan wrote, “Odd that Michael Peterson-Seymour (who sounds as if his ancestors fought at Waterloo) should be an unreconstructed Bonapartist. All the more so since one assumes that he is a Catholic.”
    Another Catholic, G K Chesterton described the tragedy of England:
    “A war that we understood not came over the world and woke
    Americans, Frenchmen, Irish; but we knew not the things they spoke.
    They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people’s reign:
    And the squires, our masters, bade us fight; and scorned us never again.
    Weak if we be for ever, could none condemn us then;
    Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we were men.
    In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains,
    We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains,
    We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not
    The strange fierce face of the Frenchmen who knew for what they fought,
    And the man who seemed to be more than a man we strained against and broke;
    And we broke our own rights with him. And still we never spoke.”
    Hilaire Belloc, too, another Catholic, whose grandfather served in the armies of Napoléon, declared, “Those who ask how it was that a group of men sustaining all the weight of civil conflict within and of universal war without, yet made time enough in twenty years to frame the codes which govern modern Europe, to lay down the foundations of universal education, of a strictly impersonal scheme of administration, and even in detail to remodel the material face of society—in a word, to make modern Europe—must be content for their reply to learn that the Republican Energy had for its flame and excitant this vision: a sense almost physical of the equality of man.”

  • William P Walsh wrote, “It started with the whole nation seeking to justly address a financial crisis but rapidly resolved into open rebellion and uncontrollable rage.”
    Certainly, it did start with a bankrupt government, but here is the curiosity: this bankrupt nation found itself able to sustain twenty years of war against the whole of Europe and to raise and maintain an army to fight it. For most of that period it had 700,000 men in the field. As for “open rebellion,” it crushed it wherever it showed itself, in Brittany, in Lyons, in the Vendée. It takes something rather more than “uncontrollable rage” to do that.

  • “It takes something rather more than “uncontrollable rage” to do that.”

    1. Mass murder against opponents.
    2. Mass repudiation of the debts of the Old Regime.
    3. The military genius of Napoleon and some of the other generals and marshals that rose to the fore as a result of the Revolution.
    4. Total War-no longer was war the sport of kings but rather the preocupation of peoples.

  • Donald R McClarey

    “3. The military genius of Napoleon and some of the other generals and marshals”

    I would certainly agree with that. There is a sense in which Napoléon, Dumoriez (despite his later defection), Kellerman, Hoche and Kléber were the French Revolution – It is their legacy.

    “4. Total War-no longer was war the sport of kings but rather the preoccupation of peoples.”

    The levée en masse and all that it entailed was the achievement of Carnot, but we sometimes forget what an astonishing achievement it was. The army was increased from 645,000 in mid-1793 to 1,500,000 in September 1794. The unbroken succession of victories, from Fleurus in June 1794 to Marengo in June 1800 were all, in a sense, his. He was ably seconded by Lindet, in effect, minister of food, munitions and manufacture.

    The political will and administrative skills needed to raise, equip, train, discipline and provision armies on that scale was enormous and quite without precedent. Much of the credit must go to the Committee of Public Safety, which was, in effect, the War Cabinet and to the brilliant innovation of seconding the “Deputies on Mission” from the National Assembly, as political commissioners to the armies.

  • Michael points out my inattention to the economic situation in France. I admit to a lack of formal study of that dismal science. I have yet in mind the diabolical ingredient of revolution. The first revolution starts with Lucifer’s “Non Serviam” and every revolution carries that sentiment in its bloodstream. The laws of economics are swept away when everything can be stolen from rightful owners. The State can be most efficient when it can murder the opposition. “If God does not exist, all things are permitted”. The Social Radical who looks so benign in his well-tailored clothing can do great injustice with a pen-stroke. If the end justifies the employment of any means, we are living in a state of moral chaos. We are then lunatics pulling down our house upon us. But I sing to the choir, as I sort out my thoughts.

  • I can assure Tito that Schama when referring to cloistered religious is not giving us his own opinion, but that of the revolutionaries whose construct of what constitutes a ‘citizen’ is an important theme of the book.

    I am an admirer of Belloc but he was fundamentally wrong on two counts – all his life he believed a) that the French Revolution was a ‘good thing’ and b) Dreyfus was guilty.

  • John Nolan
    I think both Belloc (and Chesterton, too) wrote a great deal in reaction to the way the Revolution and Napoléon were portrayed in England.

    There is a print, which can still be seen in the bar parlours of some country inns, of the handshake of Wellington and Blucher after Waterloo. They must have been produced by the million

    http://tinyurl.com/m42zlof

    Chesterton summed up the whole business pretty well.

    “Our middle classes did well to adorn their parlours with the picture of the “Meeting of Wellington and Blucher.” They should have hung up a companion piece of Pilate and Herod shaking hands. Then, after that meeting amid the ashes of Hougomont, where they dreamed they had trodden out the embers of all democracy, the Prussians rode on before, doing after their kind. After them went that ironical aristocrat out of embittered Ireland, with what thoughts we know; and Blucher, with what thoughts we care not; and his soldiers entered Paris, and stole the sword of Joan of Arc.”

    To both Belloc and Chesterton, the fall of Paris to the Allies could only be compared to the sack of Rome by the Goths.

  • An interesting summary of an enormous matter,re. the French Revolution: “It started with the whole nation seeking to justly address a financial crisis but rapidly resolved into open rebellion and uncontrollable rage.” – William P. Walsh
    However, from whence came the bitterly murderous hatred of the Catholic Faith and its individual servants, only the abyss could cough up that demon.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Chesterton wrote ‘The Crimes of England’ in 1916. It’s a polemic, brilliant in parts, but it ain’t history. The author’s unreasoning ‘Teutonophobia’, his withering scorn for Pitt, Castlereagh and Peel (in contrast with his hero-worship of Charles James Fox) and his take on the French Revolution and Bonaparte simply parade his prejudices. Comparing the Allied occupation of Paris in 1814 with the sack of Rome by the Goths takes hyperbole to new heights, especially since French armies had looted and plundered their way across Europe for the previous twenty years. Historical method requires conclusions to be based on evidence. Both Belloc and Chesterton were counter-historical, if not positively anti-historical. They rightly challenged the consensus of the Whig historians, but what they put in its place was too intuitive and subjective. Since it did not rely on evidence it could be sometimes right, but more often wrong.

    Simon Schama’s book is revisionist, not least in that he uses the narrative approach which was unfashionable in 1989 (Orlando Figes does the same in his study of the Russian Revolution ‘A People’s Tragedy’). But both men are historians; Belloc and Chesterton, for all their brilliance, were not.

  • The errors of the french revolution came from somewhere!
    The protestant reformation shaped Europe and the world in ways we are still discerning. That “reformation” preceded the Enlightenment, which came to the “spirit” of revoltion of the 18 and 19 centuries everything from the very un- “reason”able reign of terror to marx to the culture kampf– and what follows in russia and mexico and china and on and on and on

  • John Nolan wrote, “Comparing the Allied occupation of Paris in 1814 with the sack of Rome by the Goths takes hyperbole to new heights…”
    Hardly. In both cases, the capital of civilisation fell to the barbarians from beyond the Rhine.
    Belloc’s evaluation of the Revolution is not all that different from the great French historian of the Revolution, Louis Blanc. Blanc, one recalls, during his exile in London (he had fought on the barricades during les journées de juin 1848), had access to Croker’s unrivalled collection of manuscripts and pamphlets.
    Acton summarises Blanc’s principle: ”He desires government to be so constituted that it may do everything for the people, not so restricted that it can do no injury to minorities. The masses have more to suffer from abuse of wealth than from abuse of power, and need protection by the State, not against it. Power, in the proper hands, acting for the whole, must not be restrained in the interest of a part.” That was also the view of the great Dominican, Lacordaire, “Between the weak and the strong, between the rich and the poor, between the master and the servant, it is freedom which oppresses and the law which sets free.”
    This was a principle Belloc and Chesterton would have heartily endorsed. It is the negation of Liberalism and its doctrine of laissez-faire.

  • “In both cases, the capital of civilisation fell to the barbarians from beyond the Rhine.”

    Please. Even as hyperbole that is over the circus top. The French Revolution was a complex historical event, but by the time Napoleon fell it had devolved into one of the first military dictatorships in modern times, one with delusions of grandeur. It was a very good thing for the peace of Europe that Napoleon fell in 1814 and that he was soundly thrashed in 1815 at Waterloo which brought an end to his “Golden Oldies” attempt at a Bonaparte revival.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “[B]y the time Napoleon fell it had devolved into one of the first military dictatorships in modern times.”
    That is to misunderstand the nature, both of the Republic and the Empire. Napoléon was no more a military dictator than Augustus or Charlemagne. As Chesterton said, “French democracy became more democratic, not less, when it turned all France into one constituency which elected one member.”
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Swinburn’s “Sea-Eagle of English feather”) understood:
    “And kings crept out again to feel the sun.
    The kings crept out — the peoples sat at home.
    And finding the long-invocated peace
    (A pall embroidered with worn images
    Of rights divine) too scant to cover doom
    Such as they suffered, cursed the corn that grew
    Rankly, to bitter bread, on Waterloo.”

    Those “carrion kings, unsheeted and unmasked,” described by Michelet, the great historian of the Revolution.

  • “That is to misunderstand the nature, both of the Republic and the Empire. Napoléon was no more a military dictator than Augustus or Charlemagne”

    Augustus was a military dictator, the last man standing of the ambitious warlords/politicians who murdered the dying Republic. Charlemagne was not a military dictator but the scion of a family that had been running the chief of the Frankish states for some time. Napoleon owed his position to his military brilliance and his willingness to use military force against civilian rule and nothing more.

    “French democracy became more democratic, not less, when it turned all France into one constituency which elected one member.”

    That quote always had my vote for the dumbest thing written by Chesterton.

  • M P-S, the ‘barbarians from beyond the Rhine’ produced Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, to name but a few. I’m sure those German citizens, living in their peaceful towns and villages, often in the shadow of old-established monasteries on which the local economy depended and which were soon to be destroyed, were overjoyed at the arrival of Revolutionary French armies with their portable guillotines. Germany in the eighteenth century was civilized in the real sense that the local ‘civitas’ enforced its own laws for the benefit of the citizens. It is telling that the incidence of capital punishment in the German states was far lower than in France or England.

    Michael, get off your hobby-horse and face facts. Bonaparte has a good record when it comes to establishing (or more correctly re-establishing, since the Revolution had destroyed much) institutions in France; but he also erected a police state. His hubristic lust for conquest led (as in the case of Hitler, with whom he has much in common) to eventual nemesis. And France only recovered its 1789 levels of foreign trade in the 1830s by which time Britain had far outstripped it.

  • “I can assure Tito that Schama when referring to cloistered religious is not giving us his own opinion, but that of the revolutionaries whose construct of what constitutes a ‘citizen’ is an important theme of the book.”
    .
    The sovereign personhood of the newly begotten human being (His body and his soul) constitutes the nation from the very first moment of existence. His absolute moral and legal innocence are the standard of Justice and the compelling interest of the state in its duty to deliver Justice and in protecting the newly begotten human being. Francisco Suarez says that: “Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights.”
    .
    The newly begotten human being who constitutes the state from the very first moment of his existence and through his sovereign personhood endowed by “their Creator” is the citizen. At birth the new citizen is given documents to prove his citizenship and a tax bill.
    .
    The French Revolution must have been dealing with the loss and denial of citizenship by the state as in “persona non grata”. Religious persons, priests and nuns, do not forfeit or surrender their God-given sovereign personhood and/or citizenship by answering their vocation. A higher calling, in fact, purifies their citizenship and brings “the Blessings of Liberty”.
    .
    It is nothing less than communism, oppression, for another individual or the state to tell a person who is a citizen that he is not a citizen without indictment for a capital offense, treason. It appears that being a religious person in France during the French Revolution was treason, the absolute reversal of the truth.
    .
    This same separation of citizenship and soul is happening here in America, where having a soul has become treason, treason in the land of atheism.

  • Donald R McCleary wrote, “’ French democracy became more democratic, not less, when it turned all France into one constituency which elected one member.’ – That quote always had my vote for the dumbest thing written by Chesterton.”

    And yet it was, in effect, endorsed by Walter Bagehot, a man politically poles apart from Chesterton. Writing of the nephew, that shrewd cynic observed, “The nature of a constitution, the action of an assembly, the play of parties, the unseen formation of a guiding opinion, are complex facts, difficult to know and easy to mistake. But the action of a single will, the fiat of a single mind, are easy ideas: anybody can make them out, and no one can ever forget them. When you put before the mass of mankind the question, ‘Will you be governed by a king, or will you be governed by a constitution?’ the inquiry comes out thus—’Will you be governed in a way you understand, or will you be governed in a way you do not understand?’ The issue was put to the French people; they were asked, ‘Will you be governed by Louis Napoleon, or will you be governed by an assembly?’ The French people said, ‘We will be governed by the one man we can imagine, and not by the many people we cannot imagine.'”

  • “The French people said, ‘We will be governed by the one man we can imagine, and not by the many people we cannot imagine.’”

    Preposterous. The plebiscite of 1851 was instituted only after wannabe Napoleon had instituted repression. It had as much validity as one of Stalin’s show trials in the thirties. Like his much greater uncle, wannabe Napoleon owed his imitation imperial title, eventually granted him officially through another plebiscite with an unimaginative 97% yes vote, to the bayonets he controlled rather than the ballots he manufactured in pretend plebiscites.

  • Donald R McClarey
    Louis Napoléon may not have been supported by a numerical majority of the nation, that’s as may be; but there is no doubt that he had the support of a determinant current of opinion—determinant in intensity and in weight, that is, as well as in numbers. That was true of his uncle also and it needed no plebiscite to establish this obvious truth.

  • “but there is no doubt that he had the support of a determinant current of opinion”

    Nope, like his uncle he had control of the military and crushed all opposition. Speculations about his “true” popularity among the people or the elite are meaningless when he made certain that his opposition had no voice.

  • Mary De Voe’s, “It is nothing less than communism, oppression, for another individual or the state to tell a person who is a citizen that he is not a citizen without indictment for a capital offense, treason. It appears that being a religious person in France during the French Revolution was treason, the absolute reversal of the truth. . This same separation of citizenship and soul is happening here in America, where having a soul has become treason, treason in the land of atheism.”, nails it.
    In America today, the newly begotten human being is no longer protected, the person who is religious, a veteran, a supporter of Constitutional rights is a potential domestic terrorist. Remember Andrew Cuomo’s saying that a supporter of the Second Amendment has no place in New York State. If he becomes President, that may apply to the whole country.

  • I started to watch Simon Schamas tv program about judiasm since i enjoyed his shows about England. I caught an episode in the middle and what amazed me was that the program seemed more of a rant against the injustices perpetrated upon the Jews by Christians than a true unbiased history of Judaism.
    I was a bit shocked but it may explain this “book is good and if there is any criticism of Simon Schama’s work it’s that he views Christianity, in particular the Catholic Church, through a materialistic lens “

The Past: Through A Contemporary Glass Darkly

Monday, July 28, AD 2014

 

When I was down in Springfield last week, go here to read about my family’s annual pilgrimage to the Lincoln sites this year, I purchased several books at The Prairie Archives.  That bookstore is a treasure trove for those interested in the Civil War and/or Lincoln.  Two of the books were written by James G. Randall, the first volume of his four volume study of Lincoln as President and his Constitutional Problems under Lincoln.  Randall, who died in 1953, was a history professor at my alma mater, the University of Illinois, for three decades.  The foremost Lincoln scholar of his day, his body of work on Lincoln demonstrates how historians are influenced by the contemporary history they live through, and how the march of history after they are dead can make their interpretations obsolete, at least until history shifts again.

The formative event in Randall’s life was World War I.  He viewed the immense carnage as a huge waste, a war fought over issues that were unimportant compared to the huge loss of life involved.  World War II confirmed his belief in the futility of war, as he interpreted that conflict as being brought on by fanatics, this time Fascists, who caused millions of deaths in a completely unnecessary conflict.

In regard to the Civil War, Randall saw it too as an unneccessary conflict brought on by fanatics, fire eating secessionists in the South and, especially, abolitionists in the North.  Randall viewed the abolitionists as earning most of the blame for bringing on the War, turning political differences over slavery to be settled by compromise, into a crusade that could only be resolved by rivers of blood.

Randall summed up his argument in a paper entitled The Blundering Generation delivered to the Mississippi Valley Historical Society on May 2, 1940 at a conference in Omaha, Nebraska.  Randall’s thesis was that the War largely came about over a controversy over slavery that was merely a phantom.  There was never a question that the Western territories were going to be free territories due to the greater numbers heading for the West from the North, and the unwillingness of slave holders in the South to risk their slaves in the West on land not suitable for large scale plantation crops such as cotton and where they would be without the legal protections afforded by slave states to slaves as a species of property.

Randall’s argument found considerable support during his lifetime, but now is rarely presented as a viewpoint held by contemporary historians.  Why?

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15 Responses to The Past: Through A Contemporary Glass Darkly

  • Both abolitionists and secessionists lacked the key insight into how the political struggle is a spectacle which, in order to be deciphered, has to be referred to the sphere of economics.
    Then all the arguments over slavery and the Tariff fall into place as a conflict between the landed interest on the one hand and the money interest (commercial/industrial) on the other.

    That, by the by, is why many of the abolitionists were willing to work for the end of slavery in the South but they were not willing to work to end discrimination in the North. This aligned perfectly, although, perhaps, unconsciously, with their economic interests and they rationalised their position accordingly.

  • “That, by the by, is why many of the abolitionists were willing to work for the end of slavery in the South but they were not willing to work to end discrimination in the North.”

    Actually most abolitionists were willing to work against discrimination in the North, there simply was never that many of them to do anything about it. As for the economic argument as an explanation of the Civil War, that is often made but it is hogwash. Tariffs were quite low in 1860 and large parts of the South, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky for example, were developing economically so that slavery was becoming relatively unimportant. If the War had been all about whether Scarlet could continue to sip mint juleps on the verandah at Tara, there would have been no secession and no War. Why slavery was the cause of the War, is because most white southerners feared what would happen after slavery was abolished with a huge number of black freedmen in the South. If it had been possible to both abolish slavery and then have the blacks magically transported to another land, I think slavery would have been abolished throughout the South within a few years. That is why the idea of colonizing free blacks in Africa enjoyed so much popularity in the decades leading up to the War long after it should have been clearly understood that the costs were prohibitive and that in any case few blacks wanted to go back to Africa.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “That, by the by, is why many of the abolitionists were willing to work for the end of slavery in the South but they were not willing to work to end discrimination in the North.”
    .
    Two notations are missing in your appraisal of the situation, the first being the Industrial Revolution. The North did not need slaves. The North had machines.
    .
    The second and most important of all is that the abolitionists recognized and acknowledged that the slaves were men, only of a different color of skin. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…”. In Dred Scott, the Supreme Court ruled that the slave, Dred Scott, was only two-third a sovereign person, which is plain stupid because “our Creator” endows sovereign personhood, not the Supreme Court. A Court who does not acknowledge whom God has created is not a court at all, but a bastion of hell.
    .
    The abolitionists of the North held that the slave was a man, created by God and they were in truth equal. Those individuals of the North who secretly or ignorantly held with the Court in Dred Scott were those who practiced discrimination…and condemned themselves in the process.
    .
    Thomas Aquinas defined the human person as “an individual substance of a rational nature.” The slaves was rational enough to recognize the freedom he was denied. The slave holder was rational enough to cobble, chain, beat and humiliate the slave. No beast of burden need apply.
    .
    Now, with Roe v. Wade we simply kill the unborn… and we sell his body parts for experimentation, food flavoring, DNA, medicine and cosmetics…read the labels everybody…they are those human beings of a rational nature who are not frozen for later consumption.

  • “If it had been possible to both abolish slavery and then have the blacks magically transported to another land, I think slavery would have been abolished throughout the South within a few years. That is why the idea of colonizing free blacks in Africa enjoyed so much popularity in the decades leading up to the War long after it should have been clearly understood that the costs were prohibitive and that in any case few blacks wanted to go back to Africa.”
    .
    Of course. It was the African slave trader who captured his neighbor and sold him for money to the white men in Britain, America and througout the Carribean. Judging by the position and power Obama’s father held, it is estimated that Obama’s father was a slave trader. Unsubstantiated.

  • Donald R McCleary wrote, “Tariffs were quite low in 1860”
    Yes they were; the Act of 1846 avoided sudden changes, but the trend was clear – free-trade, low duties, and economy in public expenditure. The Morrill Tariff Bill was set to reverse that.
    My point was that both slavery and the tariff were mere symptoms of the objective class conflict between the landed and the commercial interests in the country; the same conflict represented by Tories an Liberals in Britain and Légitimistes and Orléanistes in France.
    As for fears over the effects of emancipation, they already had before them the wholly peaacable results of abolition in Britain’s Caribbean colonies between 1834-1838 and in the French islands in 1848.

  • On a personal note, one of my maternal ancestors was an African slave. Col Jonathan Gale of Fullerswood, Parish of St Elizabeth, Jamaica (b. 10.03.1675/76, d 21.04.1727) on 18.05.1699, at Parish of Vere married Eleanor, a Slave (d 1725), who bore him 11 children
    Her 11th & youngest child – Francis Gale of Liguania, Jamaica married Susannah Hall of Hyde Hall, Trelawney (sole heiress of Hall’s Delight, the only silver mine in Jamaica)
    Her granddaughter – Susannah Hyde Gale (b 03.05.1749, d 20.04.1823) (m 20.05.1769) married Alan Hyde Gardner, 1st Lord Gardner (1806) (b 12.04.1742, d 01.01.1809) Admiral of the Blue
    A remarkable example of upward social mobility!
    Miss Susannah Gale had her portrait painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds
    http://tinyurl.com/lyfojqx
    It now hangs in the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia.
    My mother was a lineal descendant of a younger son of Susannah’s
    By a delightful quirk of colonial history, one of Eleanor’s descendants married the Earl of Onslow, who became Governor General of New Zealand 1889-1892 and their daughter married Lord Halifax and became Vicereine of India (1925-1931) I like to think Eleanor would have been amused.

  • “The Morrill Tariff Bill was set to reverse that.”

    Which would never have passed Congress but for Southerners leaving their seats in the Senate after secession. The South knew it had nothing to fear in regard to tariffs which is why although there was endless talk about slavery during the secession winter of 1860-61 there was virtually no talk about tariffs.

    “My point was that both slavery and the tariff were mere symptoms of the objective class conflict between the landed and the commercial interests in the country;”

    And you would be incorrect on that. Many wise Southerners lamented prior to the Civil War the negative impact of slavery on their economies as a whole. Slavery would not have resulted in war if only economic issues had been involved. The economic issues were manageable within the political frame work of the time, as the give and take on the tariff indicated. It was the race issue which caused the Civil War, with slavery being the prime symbol of that.

    “As for fears over the effects of emancipation, they already had before them the wholly peaacable results of abolition in Britain’s Caribbean colonies between 1834-1838 and in the French islands in 1848.”

    Yep, and Southerners would no doubt have said that they would have had no problem with emancipation either if they too had been talking about emancipating slaves in far away colonies that no one cared about. I rather doubt that emancipation would have passed without bloodshed if large sections of England and France had slave populations approaching fifty percent.

  • Michael and Donald – I remember reading something about this before. I’ve never heard it argued that the early/mid 20th century anti-war sentiment affected historians’ perspective. That’s really interesting. I have heard it argued that the mid/later 20th century saw a lot of Marxist influence among historians. I’m not accusing you of error, Michael, but I don’t think you’d find such a focus on class interests in more current analysis.

  • I do not agree that the American Civil War was fought to free slaves out of any sense of an enlightened appreciation for the innate dignity of the African slave.
    .
    I would agree, though, that freeing the slaves was an effective strategy by Pres. Lincoln, on behalf of northern industrialist interests, to undermine a southern agrarian landed aristocracy dependent on a free labor force to plant and pick cotton (etc.) which was the raw material they exported, for profit, to industrialists in England.
    .
    In turn, the U.S imported from England finished products which competed with the products of industrial northern states.
    .
    By freeing the slaves, President Lincoln effectively introduced a significant cost factor (paid labor) to an agrarian raw material (cotton) which then undermined the southern plantation owners ability to cheaply export that raw product to England. The cost of labor passed on to to the English industrialists necessarily raised the cost of the finished import which was then forced to compete with northern state products.
    .
    At or about the time of the Civil War (early to mid 1860s), waves of German and famine Irish immigrants were continuing to pour into the northern states thus making industrial labor in the northern states very cheap.
    .
    Irish immigrants were viewed as beasts by the Know Nothing protestant establishment in places like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Witness the drawing in 1871 (just after the Civil War) by Thomas Nast in “Vanity Fair” entitled “Bravo, Bravo” featuring Columbia grasping the throat of an Irishman whose contorted features, missing teeth, and “tail” was that of a brutish animal.
    .
    http://thomasnastcartoons.com/irish-catholic-cartoons/something-that-will-not-blow-over-29-july-1971/bravo-bravo-thomas-nast-cover-24-july-1871/
    .
    The Vanity Fair image of the downtrodden Irish immigrant (or African slave as the case may be) was an accurate reflection of the American “Know Nothing” northern establishment mindset. Is one to conclude that this group had previously (during the Civil War) developed a conscience regarding the integrity and dignity of African slaves or the German or Irish immigrants? Not likely.
    .
    Freeing the slaves disrupted southern society, increased the costs of cotton, diminished or eliminated the profits of the southern landed aristocracy export business, and made the cost of finished imported English products expensive. Since English finished products competed with the industrialized northern state products, freeing the slaves made good business sense to northern industrialists.
    .
    I would submit that the northern industrialists and the southern plantation owners were aligned with Thomas Nash in their collective disdain and conclusion that slaves and immigrants were little more than brutes.
    .
    I will defer to Lincoln’s personal integrity that he may have freed the slaves for more noble reasons than his industrialist constituents.
    .
    I agree with MPS’ pragmatic approach.

  • “I do not agree that the American Civil War was fought to free slaves out of any sense of an enlightened appreciation for the innate dignity of the African slave.”

    It was fought by the Confederacy to preserve slavery. We know this from the mouths of the leaders of the Confederacy who were quite clear on this point at the beginning of the War. The North fought to preserve the Union and Lincoln, in order to accomplish this, was able to destroy slavery that he had always hated
    .
    “I would agree, though, that freeing the slaves was an effective strategy by Pres. Lincoln, on behalf of northern industrialist interests, to undermine a southern agrarian landed aristocracy dependent on a free labor force to plant and pick cotton (etc.) which was the raw material they exported, for profit, to industrialists in England.”

    Northern industrial interests had nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, slavery served Northern industrial interests by providing huge supplies of cotton for Northern mills.
    .
    “In turn, the U.S imported from England finished products which competed with the products of industrial northern states.”

    There was little direct competition, since plantation owners bought goods where they could get them the cheapest, and in regard to most manufactured goods the North was cheaper.
    .
    “By freeing the slaves, President Lincoln effectively introduced a significant cost factor (paid labor) to an agrarian raw material (cotton) which then undermined the southern plantation owners ability to cheaply export that raw product to England. The cost of labor passed on to to the English industrialists necessarily raised the cost of the finished import which was then forced to compete with northern state products.”

    None of that is true. Southern plantation owners in most areas of the South kept all their slaves throughout most of the War. What stopped trade with England was the Union blockade, and, initially, the decision of the Confederate government to withhold cotton from Europe in 1861 in an attempt to force European intervention on behalf of the Confederacy. The cotton embargo was one of the more futile efforts undertaken by the Confederacy.
    .
    “At or about the time of the Civil War (early to mid 1860s), waves of German and famine Irish immigrants were continuing to pour into the northern states thus making industrial labor in the northern states very cheap.”

    Immigration declined slightly during the War and industrial wages increased.


    .
    “Irish immigrants were viewed as beasts by the Know Nothing protestant establishment in places like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Witness the drawing in 1871 (just after the Civil War) by Thomas Nast in “Vanity Fair” entitled “Bravo, Bravo” featuring Columbia grasping the throat of an Irishman whose contorted features, missing teeth, and “tail” was that of a brutish animal.”

    http://thomasnastcartoons.com/irish-catholic-cartoons/something-that-will-not-blow-over-29-july-1971/bravo-bravo-thomas-nast-cover-24-july-1871/

    Know-nothingism was finished as a political movement by the time of the Civil War. The courage of Catholic troops, and the valor of priests and sisters in tending the wounded, eliminated quite a bit of anti-Catholicism North and South. Thomas Nast, an anti-Catholic bigot, was a German immigrant and a fallen away Catholic.

    .
    “The Vanity Fair image of the downtrodden Irish immigrant (or African slave as the case may be) was an accurate reflection of the American “Know Nothing” northern establishment mindset. Is one to conclude that this group had previously (during the Civil War) developed a conscience regarding the integrity and dignity of African slaves or the German or Irish immigrants? Not likely.”

    Completely mistaken. You really do need to read more of the history of the period. Bigotry still existed after the War but conditions improved for the Irish during the War. The Germans were already a power in the land as signified by the number of German and German-American generals that served in the Union army during the War. Blacks would face terrible discrimination North and South, but slavery, which the Confederacy fought to preserve, was as dead as John C. Calhoun and that was a giant step forward not only for blacks but for all Americans.

    .

    “Freeing the slaves disrupted southern society, increased the costs of cotton, diminished or eliminated the profits of the southern landed aristocracy export business, and made the cost of finished imported English products expensive. Since English finished products competed with the industrialized northern state products, freeing the slaves made good business sense to northern industrialists.”

    Not really. The South was set back on its heels for a generation and Northern plants lost their main customers as a result. The industrialists would have fared better if the large plantation owners had kept their slaves.

    .
    “I would submit that the northern industrialists and the southern plantation owners were aligned with Thomas Nash in their collective disdain and conclusion that slaves and immigrants were little more than brutes.”

    Amazing how those northern industrialists that you demonize had to pay their free labor rising wages throughout the War and never attempted to enslave their workers. Prior to the Civil War in the South there were already attempts to introduce slaves into factories which I suspect would have given “a new birth” of slavery but for the Civil War.

    .
    “I will defer to Lincoln’s personal integrity that he may have freed the slaves for more noble reasons than his industrialist constituents.”

    Lincoln’s writings and speeches are filled with his condemnations of slavery, usually given in a state, Illinois, where a white abolitionist was murdered by a mob. As Lincoln noted, if slavery isn’t wrong, nothing is wrong.
    .

  • The South was led by men who profited from slavery. They seceded, set up a government, established a navy and an army and waged war to preserve slavery.

    Short of compromise, which wasn’t likely, war was inevitable. Grant and Sherman made sure the South would not think of waging war again for generations.

    Patton pointed out that the next war is a continuation of the previous one. Let’s face it. The German and Russian empires were bullies. They partitioned Poland. Russia ruled the Baltic people. Germany took Alsace-Lorraine. Ludendorff helped Lenin overthrow the Russian government.

    The current view held by some Trads is lamentation of the defeat of the Habsburgs. It doesn’t bother them that Poland was wiped off the map – part of their grudge against John Paul II excommunicating Williamson and kissing a Koran. Not me. The age of empire had passed. Germany never got the message.

  • It is commonly assumed that slave labour is cheaper than free labour, but that is not, necessarily, true.

    The slave-owner does not have to pay wages, but he does have to meet the costs of the slave’s subsistence, along with the depreciation of a terminable, hazardous and wasting asset.
    In a free market, the cost of any commodity tends to equal its costs of production and, in the case of labour, that cost is the labourer’s subsistence.

    Moreover, the productivity of free labour, incentivised by piece-rates and fear of the sack tends to be higher and free labour can be hired, when needed, and put on short-time or laid-off when it is not.

    In the West Indies, the costs of sugar production did not rise after emancipation; they actually fell.

  • .
    “‘I will defer to Lincoln’s personal integrity that he may have freed the slaves for more noble reasons than his industrialist constituents.’
    Lincoln’s writings and speeches are filled with his condemnations of slavery, usually given in a state, Illinois, where a white abolitionist was murdered by a mob. As Lincoln noted, if slavery isn’t wrong, nothing is wrong.”

    Lincoln’s primary focus was the saving of the Union. “Many historians have called this old conventional wisdom into question, arguing that Lincoln was not really motivated by commitment to end slavery. The proof, they claim, is his famous letter to Horace Greeley in which he wrote that ‘my paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery, If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.'”

    http://ashbrook.org/publications/oped-owens-04-guelzo/

  • Of course when Lincoln wrote to Greeley he already had drafted the Emancipation Proclamation and was merely awaiting a Union victory to announce it. Lincoln, ever the shrewd trial attorney, was already preparing his chief defense of the Proclamation, that is was undertaken solely as a war measure. If it were not undertaken as a war measure, he had no power to liberate the slaves.

  • Relative statements from Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural address:

      “On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.”
      “One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'”

    http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres32.html

    There is ample evidence in my mind that Abraham Lincoln feared that God’s purpose in allowing the Civil War was to end the evil of slavery.

    http://www.beliefnet.com/News/2003/02/The-Almighty-Has-His-Own-Purposes.aspx?p=1

70 Years Ago This Week

Monday, June 2, AD 2014

The video above was produced 7 years ago.  If D-Day were to occur today under the current administration I suspect that the coverage of most of the media would be in the nature of  “OBAMA STORMS ASHORE IN NORMANDY!” or “THE NAZIS ARE AFRAID OF OBAMA!”.  When the press isn’t in the tank however, their coverage of military matters normally is in accord with this sarcastic comment of General Robert E. Lee:

“We made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We appointed all our worst generals to command our armies, and all our best generals to edit the newspapers.”

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7 Responses to 70 Years Ago This Week

  • Great video — but they left out that Eisenhower had no “exit strategy”.

    No, we could not do D-day today. Gen. Patton would have been in fact fired for slapping a soldier. The press would never have cooperated in keeping all the secrets that needed to be kept. Most important, public support for the war would probably have melted away by 1943.

  • I am not so sure Thomas. Few people looking at America in the 1930s would have predicted that she could have performed so heroically and successfully as the nation did in World War II. Life and death challenges can bring forward unusual amounts of energy and determination in nations as well as individuals.

  • Among the many memorable actions of D-Day was the start of the battle of the Vercors plateau when in response to General de Gaulle’s broadcast signal of 5 June 1944, « le chamois des Alpes bondit » [The chamois of the Alps leaps forth] 4,000 maquisards occupied the mountainous area of Vassieux-en-Vercors in South-Eastern France – about as far away from the Normandy beaches as it is possible to get – and tied up some 11,000 German troops for over a month.
    Similar, smaller campaigns were waged all over the South and South West, in the hopes of deceiving the Germans into thinking the Normandy landings were a feint, with the real attack coming in the South.
    For at least one major component, the Spanish exiles, their armed struggle against Fascism had begun not on 18 June 1940 but on 17 July 1936. In the South-West, they eventually liberated 17 towns.

  • Omaha seems to me to be the American equivalent of the first day of the Battle of the Somme; a lot of factors, including luck, combining to create a near-catastrophe. The decision to decline the offer of AVREs (Hobart’s ‘funnies’) for no compelling reason; the inadequacy of the naval gunfire and air support (in contrast with what happened on the British and Canadian beaches); the launching of the DD tanks too far out from the shore; the inevitable failures of command and control. Like the Somme it was a bad start to an ultimately successful operation.

  • This is great: “We made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We appointed all our worst generals to command our armies, and all our best generals to edit the newspapers.”
    (Lee)
    Thanks for sharing your insights into history Donald. I hope lots of younger people are reading this blog and learning the people and events of history are Not old news, but really are still current, still powerful.

  • Don

    One defeat after another. Omaha beach, then Cherbourg, Falise, Paris and on and on. I just don’t understand why the Germans surrendered when they had up on the rope at the Elbe.

    I do not support military censorship of the press, but it has been my observation the quality of the coverage nose dives when the press gets there and takes over from the military journalists.

  • “If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world but I am sure we would be getting reports from hell before breakfast.”

    “I think I know what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers.”

    William T. Sherman

April 19, 1775: The Shot Heard Round the World

Saturday, April 19, AD 2014

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

“Sheriff Taylor” reminds us in the above video clip that it is not an iron rule of nature that History must be taught in such a fashion to ensure the destruction of whatever love of it may exist in students.

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2 Responses to April 19, 1775: The Shot Heard Round the World

Christ and History

Monday, March 31, AD 2014

 

 

You will find that a good many  Christian political writers think that Christianity began going wrong in  departing from the doctrine of its founder at a very early stage. Now this idea  must be used by us to encourage once again the conception of a “historical  Jesus” to be found by clearing away later “accretions and perversions,” and then  to be contrasted with the whole Christian tradition. In the last generation we  promoted the construction of such a “historical Jesus” on liberal and  humanitarian lines. We are now putting forward a new “historical Jesus” on  Marxian, catastrophic and revolutionary lines. The advantages of these  constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are manifold.  In the first place they all tend to direct man’s devotion to something which  does not exist. Because each “historical Jesus” is unhistorical, the documents  say what they say and they cannot be added to. Each new “historical Jesus” has  to be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another  point. And by that sort of guessing (brilliant is the adjective we teach  humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten shillings in ordinary  life, but which is enough to produce a crop of new Napoleons, new Shakespeares,  and new Swifts in every publisher’s autumn list. . . . The “historical Jesus,”  then, however dangerous he may seem to be to us at some particular point, is  always to be encouraged.

CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters

 

 

 

 

Bart Ehrman, the New Testament scholar who transitioned from teenage evangelical, to liberal Christian, to agnostic, desperately wants to remake Christ in his own faithless image and therefore is popular with atheists and agnostics.  He has a very old act, as the argument that he makes, that the Resurrection never happened and that Christ was but a man, has been made by anti-Christians since the Crucifixion.    He puts old wine into a shiny new wineskin.  He isn’t really very good at it,  as Stephen Colbert, of all people, demonstrated several years ago.  Go here to Creative Minority Report to view that.

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, turns his attention to Ehrman:

 

All sorts and conditions of men turn up at this site from time to time.  Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians regularly comment here, disagree with one another’s theology now and then but do it, for the most part, respectfully.

That’s because of most of you, not me.  You guys set the tone for this joint a long time ago.  But if I do see what I consider to be disrespect in the comments, which happens, I’ll quietly edit the comment or remove it entirely.  And if things get too intense in a comment thread, which sometimes happens, I won’t hesitate to shut that thread down.

I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing atheists comment here a lot more often than they do.  I’m not talking about some douchebag whose default position is, “Christians are brain-dead morons” or who claims to collapse on his or her fainting couch at the mere sight of a Bible verse, a Christian Cross or any other Christian image.

I refer to that rare breed of atheist who doesn’t believe there’s a God but is comfortable with the fact that some people disagree and who doesn’t feel the need to insult or belittle religious believers.  I can respect and even be friends with a person like that.

What I can’t and, indeed, refuse to respect are those atheists who still pretend to be Christians but who think that they’ve finally discovered What Actually Happened Two Thousand Years Ago And What It All Means.  Guys like Bart Ehrman, say:

Jesus was a lower-class preacher from Galilee, who, in good apocalyptic fashion, proclaimed that the end of history as he knew it was going to come to a crashing end, within his own generation. God was soon to intervene in the course of worldly affairs to overthrow the forces of evil and set up a utopian kingdom on earth. And he would be the king.

Insert “but” here.

It didn’t happen. Instead of being involved with the destruction of God’s enemies, Jesus was unceremoniously crushed by them: arrested, tried, humiliated, tortured, and publicly executed.

Which is why Jesus’ influence ended right then and there and is also why absolutely no one anywhere, with the exception of obscure Middle Eastern scholars, has any idea who Jesus of Nazareth was.  But for this bizarre reason, that’s not what actually happened.  Stop Bart if you’ve heard this one.

The followers of Jesus came to think he had been raised because some of them (probably not all of them) had visions of him afterwards. Both Christian and non-Christian historians can agree that it was visions of Jesus that made some of Jesus’ followers convinced that he was no longer dead. Christians would say that the disciples had these visions because Jesus really appeared to them. Non-Christians would say that (several of ) the disciples had hallucinations. Hallucinations happen all the time. Especially of deceased loved ones (your grandmother who turns up in your bedroom) and of significant religious figures (the Blessed Virgin Mary, who appears regularly in extraordinarily well-documented events). Jesus was both a lost loved one and an important religious leader. As bereaved, heartbroken, and guilt-ridden followers, the disciples were prime candidates for such visionary experiences.

Once the disciples claimed Jesus was alive again but was (obviously) no longer here with them, they came to think that he had been taken up to heaven (where else could he be?). In ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish thinking, a person exalted to the heavenly realm was divinized – himself made divine. That’s what the earliest Christians thought about Jesus. After that a set of evolutionary forces took over, in which the followers of Jesus began saying more and more exalted things about him – that he had been made the son of God at his resurrection; no, it was at his baptism; no, it was at his birth; no, it was before he came into the world; no – he had never been made the son of God, he had always been the Son of God; in fact, he had always been God; more than that, he had created the world; and yet more, he was an eternal being equal with God Almighty.

That Kierkegaard quote’s on the top of this page for a reason.  That an alleged “scholar” can seriously advance a view so fundamentally unscholarly, so absolutely unsupported by anything remotely resembling actual evidence, convinces me that a great deal of “Christian scholarship” is, as the Great Dane observed, as monumental an intellectual scam as the world has ever known.

Where to begin?  Say what you want about him but Mohammed’s followers thought he was a prophet of God.  No doubt, the Buddha’s disciples intensely revered him.  Yet none of the followers of these two men, or any other great religious leader in world history, for that matter, ever invented a resurrection from the dead for their particular “prophet” and made that “resurrection” the basis of their religion.

Only the Christians did.

It seems to me that if you and all your associates somehow convince yourselves that you’ve seen the risen Jesus when you haven’t, you are, at some point, going to come down from your mass hallucinations.  At which point, you can either admit to yourself that you were wrong or continue with the charade and maybe get yourselves executed at an early age for something that you know deep down is a lie.

And did any of you happen to notice who Ehrman leaves out here?  I’ll give you a few hints.  A devout Jew, he was not only not connected to the Apostles and Christ’s early believers in any way, he was, by his own admission, actively hostile to the new movement, imprisoning many of Christ’s followers and having others killed.

He received authorization to travel to Damascus in order to do more of this sort of thing.  On the way there, he claimed that he saw a vision of the risen Christ, a claim from which he refused to back down to the end of his days, and began to preach Christ and Him crucified almost immediately.  When they heard of it, the Apostles and most of the disciples initially and quite understandably didn’t trust him.

The man’s claim compelled him to plant Christian churches all over the eastern Mediterranean and to write letters to many of these churches, encouraging and/or upbraiding their members as the need arose.  And this man’s claim about what he saw on that road to Damascus ended up prematurely costing him his Earthly life.

I’m pretty sure that the guy had a short name.  Don’t hold me to this but I think that it began with a P.  It’s right on the tip of my tongue.

I don’t know about you, Ehrman, but I can’t make myself die for an illusion.

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13 Responses to Christ and History

  • It has frequently struck me that those engaged in the quest of the historical Jesus lack an elementary sense of chronology.

    In the cathedral at Lyons, one can see a list of the bishops of that see. The third is St Irenaeus. He was born in Izmir in Turkey in 130 and died in 202. In 200, in point of time, he stood to the Crucifixion, as we today stand to Keble’s famous Assize Sermon that marked the beginning of the Oxford Movement. Bl John Henry Newman was present when that sermon was preached and I, who am not yet seventy, spoke in the 1950s to two old people in Birmingham, who remembered Newman.

    There is a close parallel in the case of St Irenaeus. As a boy in Izmir (then known as Smyrna) he had seen and heard the local bishop, St Polycarp (69-155) Now, both Irenaeus and Polycarp himself have left an account of how Polycarp was present, when Polycarp’s bishop, St Ignatius of Antioch “talked with John and with others, who had seen the Lord.”

    Impressive as this is, it cannot have been unique; there must have been any number of people in the first half of the 2nd century who remembered the apostles. Justin Martyr (100-165) would have grown up among such people in Syria and Palestine. Again, many at the end of the century would have remembered those first hearers of the apostolic teaching, witnesses scattered all around the Mediterranean sea. Now, this was the age that received and accounted as canonical the four gospels and no others; yes, there was early doubt in the West about John, just as there was early doubt about Revelation in the East, but it was settled in this period.

    The surviving testimony of the faith of the Nicene Church is abundant and beyond serious question; the evidence from the previous century, which was one of persecution is sparse in comparison, but the testimony of St. Irenaeus, St. Hippolytus, St. Cyprian, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, St. Dionysius of Alexandria, and St. Methodius is all one way, in confirming a tradition from Ignatius to Nicea. Heretics, like Sabellius and Arius are individuals, representing no tradition (and contradicting each other) There is but one continuous tradition and it has no rivals.

    No less important, at this moment, Cardinal Barbarin sits in the chair of Irenaeus In Lyons, the last of an unbroken line of witnesses to the apostolic tradition “by saints proclaimed, by saints believed,” in that ancient and august see.

  • “It has frequently struck me that those engaged in the quest of the historical Jesus lack an elementary sense of chronology.”

    Exactly.

  • Ages ago in Analog I read a mock lecture by a future historian about a newly discovered cache of records of WW2. The story is obviously an apocryphal morality tale; the crimes describes are too horrendous to be believed; the very names show the power of religion (Church-hill), beauty (Rose-field) and industry (Man of steel) over a monster with a meaningless name.

    I only learnt about text criticism and its application to Scripture later and much of it strikes me as about the same level as the spoof in a SciFi pulp.

  • “Post-moderns” recognize that history is malleable and that truth is whatever people will believe.

  • “I only learnt about text criticism and its application to Scripture later and much of it strikes me as about the same level as the spoof in a SciFi pulp.”

    Indeed.

  • The Hypostatic Union, that Jesus is true God and true man is denied by the “historical Jesus”. Heresy is a half truth, the other half of which is used as a cudgel to oppress the Catholic church. If the “historical Jesus” is not God, none of us is saved.

  • “In ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish thinking, a person exalted to the heavenly realm was divinized – himself made divine.”

    Jewish? JEWISH? Enoch was considered divine? Elijah? The Messiah wasn’t even considered divine by the Jews. The idea that a person could be divinized was blasphemy. (Actually, it was blasphemy to the Greeks too. Go around claiming it and you’ll find a bird pecking out your liver for eternity.) (For that matter, the Romans would consider it blasphemy. The emperors typically claimed divine ancestry, as did the Pharaohs and the Emperors of Japan. No one claims to become a god who doesn’t claim to already be partly divine.) (But that’s off the point. A Jew would never, ever claim that his rabbi became divine.)

  • “The idea that a person could be divinized was blasphemy”

    Which is why the Jews sought to stone Jesus when He said before Abraham was, I AM. To the Jews the idea that a Man could be God would have been considered the very essence of blasphemy. To the Greeks the idea that a dead Jewish carpenter was a God would have been an absurdity. To the Romans the idea that a man crucified by a Roman Procurator as a rebel against Rome could be divine would have seemed utter treason. All of these reactions are quite common in anti-Christian tracts during the rise of Christianity in the ancient world.

  • Thomas Collins

    As Mgr Ronald Knox said, “I do not so much mind the Germans applying the same critical methods to St. Mark which they apply to Homer; but I do object to their applying the same uncritical methods to St. Mark which they apply to Homer. And here steps in a very pestilent psychological influence. The lecturer who combats Kirchhoff, or exposes Ferrero, can do so without any imputation of narrow- mindedness. He has, in this instance, clearly no axe to grind. But if he be a Christian, and a fortiori if he be a clergyman, he is afraid of the imputation of narrow- mindedness if he takes up the same attitude towards Harnack or Spitta. When Mr. Cornford writes about Thucydides, Oxford historians cheerfully dispose of him in half a lecture, but when he writes about Christianity, Oxford theologians see cause for much searching of hearts and wagging of heads. But is there any reason for this difference, except that we are all in such craven fear of being thought illiberal?”

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  • “The idea that a person could be divinized was blasphemy”
    .
    To be “divinized” according to Zeus or Jupiter, made-up gods as the Caesars were is not the same as to be called into sonship with the true God. The Jews carried the prophecies about the Son of God, the coming Messiah.

  • In ancient… Jewish thinking, a person exalted to the heavenly realm was divinized – himself made divine.
    –Bart Ehrman

    I entirely missed the divinization of Enoch and Elijah in the Hebrew Scriptures. Where did Bart Ehrman find that–is he also a Muslim who claims the Jews and Christians altered the Scriptures?