Divisions

Sunday, August 6, AD 2017

This event I believe occurred at the Fourth Moscow Conference in 1944:

 

In 1944, at a time when the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the struggle against Nazi Germany, it was important to convince Stalin that the Western democracies accepted him as an equal. “‘In the world of the future, for which our soldiers have shed their blood on countless fronts”, the British Prime Minister said in his bombastic style, “our three great democracies will demonstrate to all mankind that they, both in wartime and in peacetime, will remain true to the high principles of freedom, dignity, and happiness of the people. That’s why I attach such paramount importance to good neighbourly relations between a restored Poland and the Soviet Union. It was for the freedom and independence of Poland that Britain went into this war. The British feel a sense of moral responsibility to the Polish people, to their spiritual values. It’s also important that Poland is a Catholic country. We can’t allow internal developments there to complicate our relations with the Vatican…”

“How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?” Stalin asked, suddenly interrupting Churchill’s line of reasoning.

Valentin Berezhkov, Stalin’s interpreter, in his memoirs recounted this.

 

The response of Pius XII I have been unable to source as to time and place, but it has become immortal:  “You can tell my son Joseph that he will meet my divisions in heaven.”

The divisions that Stalin put so much faith in are as dead and buried now as he is, as is his Communist State that lasted merely one long life time.  Dictators come and go, Christ remains.

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One Response to Divisions

  • Back in 1989, I usually picked up a copy of the Reverend Moon’s Washington Times as I could not stomach the Compost. I saved an editorial cartoon portraying the Polish people erecting a statue of Milton Friedman, while nearby a Stalin statue lay on the ground in pieces. Next to the pieces was an old lady with a babushka who gave the statue pieces an unceremonious salute of “BAH”.

    The little old ladies who came to Mass every Sunday, or every day, and prayed the Rosary had more power than Stalin did in the end.

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Requiescat In Pace: Robert Hardy

Friday, August 4, AD 2017

As the war raged on I studied English at Oxford University, but my education was interrupted by my joining the RAF to train as a pilot. It was there that I got to meet Richard Burton – a navigator in the RAF – who would become so great a friend.

In 1949 I embarked on a career as an actor, and I was with Richard when I met Churchill for a second time in the early 1950s. We were appearing in Hamlet together at the Old Vic, with Richard as the Prince of Denmark. We knew Winston, who at this time was once again Prime Minister, was in the audience – he was unmissable sitting in the front row. 

After the performance we were in Richard’s dressing room when the mighty man burst in, cigar in hand, and, addressing Richard as if he was still in character, said, ‘Your Highness, I am in great need – do have you a lavatory?’

When he came out he complemented Richard on his ‘very forthright Hamlet’ before adding, ‘I’m astonished that such a man should wait so long to avenge his father!’ Needless to say, Richard and I dined out on that for weeks to come.

Robert Hardy

Sad news.  British actor Robert Hardy has died at 91.  Far too young for such a delightful man and talented actor.  At Oxford he studied English under CS Lewis and JRR Tokien, and he ever cherished that opportunity that fate handed him.  He became one of the foremost authorities on the English longbow.  (I have a book in my library that he wrote on the history of the longbow.)  He spoke and wrote in a most pellucid English, no doubt a tribute to his instruction from Lewis and Tolkien.  He of course is remembered for his acting.  To the younger generation he is Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic in the Harry Potter films.  Some may recall him as irascible, but good-hearted, veterinary Siegfried Farnon in the television series All Creatures Great and Small.  To me he will always be the definitive film Winston Churchill, a role that he played nine times. His longest portrayal was in the eight part miniseries The Wilderness Years, broadcast in the eighties, which may be found on You Tube.  Hail and farewell Mr. Hardy, may you have a joyous reunion with your two favorite professors in the world to come.

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2 Responses to Requiescat In Pace: Robert Hardy

  • He hosted a series called “Castle Ghosts”. I think they aired on TLC (that’s back when it was actually ‘The Learning Channel’). We watched those every Halloween. Plenty of atmosphere, Hardy did a brilliant job narrating, and it was filled with good old traditional chills and spooks to keep the kids shivering. His delivery was so believable you’d think he was a reporter investigating the latest car models for the upcoming year. He will be missed.

  • Loved his interpretation of Sigfried. The character was based on Afred Wight (aka “James Herriot’)’s partner, Donald Sinclair. Supposedly, the Wight character interpreted by Hardy was more predictable and tranquil than the original. (He wasn’t ‘irascible’, he was florid. The irascible characters were the farmers who were their clients).

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11 Responses to Dunkirk: A Review

  • This review is spot-on. My wife and I saw “Dunkirk” last night and were terribly disappointed, for all of the reasons cited in this excellent review. One other thing about the movie got my attention: never is the word “Germans” used, nor is Hitler ever referenced. Even, when a British flyer is captured, the “enemy” is blurred out so that you cannot see their uniforms. This was a waste of my time and money. Please don’t waste yours, as well.

  • Excellent review. I was disappointed as well. Due to the hype – and Nolan at the helm – I was expecting something much, much better. The sound mixing was atrocious. The tri-part chronology was a mistake. The lack of “characters” was problematic. Despite that I did like it, but I think that it was just above average. I saw it in the recommended IMAX format, but I can say that there is no need for it. In fact, I think this movie would be fine to watch at home. (On a side note: I didn’t like War for the Planet of the Apes too much, either. CGI in that one was *great*.)

  • I told my friends afterward that I appreciated the moral character evidenced in the old skipper and his teen aged son, and the wonderful spitfire pilot
    I was pleased to see the show. Probably my take was positively influenced by the 30 minutes of terrible previews just before the show, which were all about fantasy heroes, so I was glad to see the story of moral men who honorably and honestly dealt with this very real massive rescue call..
    The self control shown by the soldier in queue and their willingness most of the time to follow regular order is something that is so refreshing now.
    While this show required that you already know quite a bit about Dunkirk to get the most out of this abstraction. it still showcased good values and heroism. Though the period “feel” may not have been right for someone who has deeply studied both history and war, I think It can make a positive impact on many of today’s moviegoers.
    Just a drop of good in seas of bad from Hollywood, but I still encourage it because a drop of good is a drop of good. Young people who don’t know history but are fed on the typical violence and fantasy can be blessed by the knowledge that this strange, unselfish behavior was real.

    .

  • First of all, apparently Christopher Nolan had an actual ancestor involved in Dunkirk and had the dream of this movie for over 20 years.

    Second – screw it, I’ll buck the board and defend it. I’ve been curious what Don’s review would be since this is very much NOT a traditional war film. (I see he agreed with the reviewer Jeremy Jahns) I like how one reviewer put it: “One of the biggest moments in the war portrayed in the smallest way possible.” It’s very minimalist. To the point that if I was a teacher, I could probably make a fun class project with this film leading students to learn about the incident before showing them the movie.

    Now while I don’t know for sure and could be corrected, I think what Nolan is going for is a very immersive experience (he frequently does this on other films). It seems that he is not showing a traditional war film because he wants the audience to feel like they are at Dunkirk themselves. The sound design certainly does it (at times I could almost swear actual bullets were flying by) but I’d need to see it again to confirm it based upon his camera work and cinematography but off the top of my head I think a lot of shots in the film are from “witness angles” to make it really feel like you are there. It definitely seems like that’s his aim from the story structure given that he often tells the audience no more than any soldier might know. The old man in the boat doesn’t know how many others are going or how many can be saved, he just goes out across the channel to get everybody he can. The pilot doesn’t know how many are out there or if he can retreat, instead he has to make the choice to sacrifice himself in order to protect his countrymen (in my favorite moment of the movie).

    The movie definitely makes one feel like what the soldiers must have with the steady vice grip of the approaching Germans. Indeed I think Nolan keeps them off screen most of the time to give them a sense of a force of nature as dangerous and crushing as the ocean that claims so many.

    Like I said before, I wanted to see it just as a metaphorical middle finger to the haters of history out there and I don’t regret it. But it is a very different war movie and you should keep that in mind if you want to decide whether to go or not. I generally agree with Chris Stuckman here:

  • Thank you for the immensely helpful “heads up” on this film.

  • @ Charles Culbertson. I had heard the same thing, that the insignia showing the Nazi military had been blurred out.

    So, we can suppose this means the ideology of the directors is that there is no good nor evil. Everything is a mixture.

  • So, we can suppose this means the ideology of the directors is that there is no good nor evil. Everything is a mixture.

    . . . Yeah, if you’ve never SEEN the movie.

    Kind of like how someone can say that obviously since Sauron is never seen in the book that the ideology of Tolkien is that there is no good nor evil.

    Just… way to prove you’ve never examined the source and are pulling stupidity out of your hindquarter.

  • I enjoyed the movie, but recognized its flaws. It was not a grand, large scope war movie. It portrayed soldiers who were in fear of being overrun and were desperate to get out. The heroism was in those who ensured their escape. When I was in the military, I sometimes imagined myself in their shoes. They are scared, hungry, thirsty, and things weren’t going their way. They wanted desperately to escape their situation. I believe this is what the movie represents. In winter, 1988 when participating in war games IN Korea, my platoon was cut off by the opfor. I spent Easter that year in a fox hole hungry, alone, and worried. Had it been an actual war, I think it may have rivaled the experience of the soldiers at Dunkirk.
    Trying to find water in a garden hose. Trying to find any escape from the beach away from the Germans.
    Again, it was a flawed movie, but it has its value. Look not at the big picture, but at the individual, almost anonymous soldiers who were in fear of capture or death. Then look at the sacrifices of those who tried to rescue those fearful individuals from their fate. 10% of a fighting force are warriors, and the remaining 90% are not so much. The movie was about those 90%, not the ten percent.

  • I enjoyed the film immensely. However, I agree that there is hardly anything “Dunkirk” about it. It was almost generic, could have been about anything. Part of the reason I liked it though: the soldiers are everyman rather than some man.

  • Neo-NeoCon had a reaction similar to mine to the film:
    “The film is a real blockbuster and has been widely and highly praised. But I had so many quarrels with it that I left the theater almost angry.

    Let me start with the good stuff. The dogfights in the air—which make up a large portion of the film—were an astounding piece of filmmaking. I don’t really mean the fight portions, which were a bit muddled and hard to follow, but the flight part, the swooping and the chase and the wide expanse of sky and sea. The big screen really came into its own there, and it was truly spectacular. Reportedly those scenes were filmed with IMAX cameras “attached to the fighter planes using specially-made snorkel lenses – in the back and the front” of each plane.

    The technical aspects of those portions of the film were so impressive that I found myself wondering how it was done even as I watched, which could have distracted from my following the story except that there was really very little story from which to be distracted. If you already know the basics of what happened at Dunkirk, the film doesn’t give you much more: men were trapped there, some were killed there, and hundreds of thousands were successfully evacuated by sea. And the film concentrates on the first two parts and gives the third part rather short shrift.

    Characters? You barely learn who they are. They don’t say much, and what they say is almost unintelligible. There’s almost zero historical context given for the entire thing, either. I kept wondering what young people, many of whom might not know what Dunkirk was, would be likely to take from this movie: that there were guys standing on a beach in a war, many died in harrowing ways, there was a lot of noise, and many were ultimately rescued.

    And the music—ah, the music! It’s a very special part of the experience, a pile-driving discordant cacophony that augments the sound effects until you wonder which is more aurally disturbing, the sound of the bombing or the sound of the music. Yes, I know this is supposed to be “immersive,” but I found it took away from the plot and made it all about the movie rather than Dunkirk itself.

    Have I forgotten anything? Yes—many of the actors look so much alike that unless you know who they are already (and I didn’t) you can’t tell most of the apart.

    And then there is the movie within the movie—another, far more conventional movie that follows the doings of a small boat manned by three civilians who end up picking up various survivors. This boat is captained by actor Mark Rylance, whose performance features an old-fashioned approach to conveying some actual nuances of character (gasp!). But to do that he had to be given the opportunity—the time, and some lines of dialogue, and some peace and quiet in which to deilver them. It’s not the fault of many of the other actors that they weren’t given those opportunities.

    “Dunkirk” cuts back and forth in time among several stories it follows—with the effect of making the viewer maximally confused, as far as I can see. But it also cuts and forth between the two widely different acting and directing styles, creating another discordance.”

    http://neoneocon.com/2017/07/31/movies-the-dunkirk-din/

Dunkirk

Thursday, July 20, AD 2017

 

The film is getting magnificent reviews and I will be seeing it on the last Friday of the month with a full review to follow.  Operation Dynamo, the transport of British and French troops from surrounded Dunkirk, was a military miracle, aided by Hitler’s agreement with his generals for a temporary pause in operations, for rest and reorganization, from May 24-May 26 of the German Fourth Army around Dunkirk.  Initially it was thought that only some 45,000 men could be rescued, but instead 338,000 men were saved to fight many other days.  But for Dunkirk, the British would have had few trained troops to confront a Nazi invasion, if Hitler had attempted to roll the iron dice of war and risk Operation Sea Lion.

Today we recall the civilian craft of all types that voluntarily came out to rescue the British soldiers.  It was a demonstration that although the British military had suffered a stunning loss in France, along with their French allies, the spirit of the British people was far from broken.  Churchill summed up the Dunkirk Miracle well:

When, a week ago today, I asked the house to fix this afternoon as the occasion for a statement, I feared it would be my hard lot to announce the greatest military disaster in our long history. I thought – and some good judges agreed with me – that perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 men might be re-embarked. But it certainly seemed that the whole of the French First Army and the whole of the British Expeditionary Force north of the Amiens-Abbeville gap would be broken up in the open field or else would have to capitulate for lack of food and ammunition. These were the hard and heavy tidings for which I called upon the house and the nation to prepare themselves a week ago. The whole root and core and brain of the British Army, on which and around which we were to build, and are to build, the great British armies in the later years of the war, seemed about to perish upon the field or to be led into an ignominious and starving captivity.

After having described the Dunkirk evacuation Churchill said this and here he donned the mantle of a prophet:

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4 Responses to Dunkirk

  • I think I’m going to have to go see it as a small act of rebellion.

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/dunkirk-reviewers-show-their-lack-of-historical-knowledge/article/2629129

    This is the reality Travers arrogantly ignores. But Travers does more, doubling down on his own stupidity by jabbing a finger at middle America. He complains that “especially here in Trump’s America, the significance [of the Dunkirk evacuation] might be lost.”

    Of course, it was those of “Trump’s America” — middle America — that formed the forces that saved the world from the Nazis and imperial Japan. Those young men, like my grandfather from Fishers Island, New York, knew nothing of European history. But like their brothers at Dunkirk and in the skies over Britain (like my other grandfather), they saved it anyway.

    History matters.

  • In Churchill’s statement he said and repeats “we”. We shall fight- We shall fight etc. The commitment of the whole nation. The EU was formed thinking nationalism was a bad thing- and maybe it can be…but filial piety is a good thing.
    http://www.robertbsloan.com/2013/03/11/but-if-not-the-miracle-of-dunkirk/

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  • “but filial piety is a good thing.”

    Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
    “To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
    And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods,

    And for the tender mother who dandled him to rest,
    And for the wife who nurses his baby at her breast,
    And for the holy maidens who feed the eternal flame,
    To save them from false Sextus, that wrought the deed of shame?

    Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul, with all the speed ye may!
    I, with two more to help me, will hold the foe in play.
    In yon strait path, a thousand may well be stopped by three:
    Now, who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?’

Saints of Lent: Cardinal John Fisher

Sunday, March 12, AD 2017

 

Where are now the kings and princes that once reigned over all the world, whose glory and triumph were lifted up above the earth? Where are now the innumerable company and power of Xerxes and Caesar? Where are the great victories of Alexander and Pompey? Where are now the great riches of Croesus and Crassus? But what shall we say of those who once were kings and governors of this realm?  Where are they now whom we have known and seen in our days in such great wealth and glory that it was thought by many they would never have died, never have been forgotten? They had all their pleasures at the full, both of delicious and good fare, of hawking, hunting, also of excellent horses and stallions, greyhounds and hounds for their entertainment, their palaces well and richly furnished, strongholds and towns without number. They had a great plenty of gold and silver, many servants, fine apparel for themselves and their lodgings. They had the power of the law to proscribe, to punish, to exalt and set forward their friends and loved ones, to put down and make low their enemies, and also to punish by temporal death rebels and traitors. Every man held with them, all were at their command. Every man was obedient to them, feared them, also honored and praised them, everywhere now? Are they not gone and wasted like smoke? Of them it is written in another place, mox ut honorificati fuerint et exaltati, dificientes quemadmodum fumus deficient (when they were in their utmost prosperity and fame, they soon failed and came to nothing, even as smoke does) (Ps. 36:2). St. James compares the vanity of this life to a vapor, and he says it shall perish and wither away as a flower in the hay season. (James 4:15).

Saint John Fisher

 

Lent is a grand time to confront evil, both that evil which stains our souls, and the evil external to us.  Throughout the history of the Church there have been saints who risked all to bravely confront the popular evils of their time.  This Lent on each Sunday we will be looking at some of those saints.  We began with Saint Athanasius.  Go here to read about him.  This week we will look at Saint John Fisher.

When he ascended to the throne of England Henry VIII was popularly known as the Golden Hope of England.  His father Henry VII had never been loved by the people of England:  a miser and a distinctly unheroic figure no matter what Shakespeare would write in Richard III.  He had brought the end of the War of the Roses and peace to England, but that was about as much credit as his subjects would give the grasping, unlovable Henry Tudor.  His son by contrast looked like an Adonis when young, strong and athletic.  He had a sharp mind and had been well-educated, intended, ironically, for a career in the Church before the death of his elder brother Arthur.  He was reputed, correctly, to be pious.  He had considerable charisma in his youth and knew how to make himself loved with a well timed laugh or smile, and loved he was, by the nobles, commons, his wife Katherine, and the Church.  Few reigns started more auspiciously than that of Henry, eighth of that name.

By the end of his reign he was widely despised by most his subjects.  Called a crowned monster behind his back, his reign had brought religious turmoil to England and domestic strife.  The best known symbols of his reign were the headman’s axe, the stake and the boiling pot in which he had some of the luckless individuals who roused his fury boiled to death.

It of course is small wonder for a Catholic to have little love for Henry VIII and his reign, but the distaste for Henry extends well beyond members of the Church.  Winston Churchill, the great English statesman and historian, in his magisterial History of the English Speaking Peoples, has this to say about the executions of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher:

“The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand.  They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom.  They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter.  More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook.  He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness.  Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.”

Churchill himself was not noted for being a churchgoer.  When asked if he was a pillar of the Church of England, he quipped that perhaps he could be considered to be a flying butress of the Church, supporting it from outside.  Perhaps this helped give him a certain objectivity regarding Henry VIII.  Here is part of his summing up of Henry’s reign:

“Henry’s rule saw many advances in the growth and the character of the English state, but it is a hideous blot upon his record that the reign should be widely remembered for its executions.  Two Queens, two of the King’s chief Ministers, a saintly bishop, numerous abbots, monks and many ordinary folk who dared to resist the royal will were put to death.  Almost every member of the nobility in whom royal blood ran perished on the scaffold at Henry’s command.  Roman Catholic and Calvinist alike were burnt for heresy and religious treason.  These persecutions, inflicted in solemn manner by officers of the law, perhaps in the presence of the Council or even the King himself, form a brutal seqeul to the bright promise of the Renaissance.  The sufferings of devout men and women among the faggots, the use of torture, and the savage penalties imposed for even paltry crimes, stand in repellant contrast to the enlightened principles of humanism.” 

 

Born in 1469, John Fisher was noted for his great learning, the austerity of his life and his piety.  He was made Bishop of Rochester, the poorest diocese in England, at the personal insistence of Henry VIII in 1504.  Usually this was a stepping stone to ecclesiastical preferment, but Fisher stayed there for 31 years, doubtless because he had the courage to oppose the King whenever he was wrong, and so he did when Henry attempted to divorce Queen Katherine and when he broke with Rome.  Fisher made a strange champion to stand against a King.  He was noted as a scholar throughout Europe, a man of exceeding mildness and friendliness and someone clearly made for peace and contemplation and not for turmoil and strife in public life.  However for truth and the Faith Fisher was willing to stand virtually alone with a handful of others, including Saint Thomas More, against his terrifying Sovereign.

 

John Cardinal Fisher was made a Cardinal by Pope Paul III in May of 1535, King Henry stopped the cardinal’s hat from being brought into England, bellowing that he would send Fisher’s head to the Pope.  Tried by a kangaroo court and convicted, the only testimony brought against him was by Richard Rich, a specialist in lying men to the headman’s block.  Fisher was condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn.

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  • The king took John Cardinal Fisher’s life, but not his soul. The comment from Winston Churchill: “The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand. They realized the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom. Very little has changed, from then until now.

Video Clips That Bring Tears to My Eyes: Churchill and the Pilot

Monday, December 26, AD 2016

 

 

But the Consul’s brow was sad,
And the Consul’s speech was low,
And darkly looked he at the wall,
And darkly at the foe;
“Their van will be upon us
Before the bridge goes down;
And if they once may win the bridge,
What hope to save the town?”

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods,

“And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens
Who feed the eternal flame,—
To save them from false Sextus
That wrought the deed of shame?

“Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three:
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?”

Horatius at the Bridge
Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay

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Winston Churchill: July 4, 1918

Wednesday, July 6, AD 2016

churchill-great-war-375x500

A speech given by the half-American Winston Churchill at a celebration of the Fourth of July at the city of Westminster, England on July 4, 1918:

We are, as the Chairman has stated, met here to-day in the City of Westminster to celebrate the hundred and forty-second anniversary of American Independence. We are met also, as he has reminded you, as brothers in arms, facing together grave injuries and perils, and passing through a period of exceptional anxiety and suffering. Therefore we seek to draw from the past history of our race inspiration and encouragement which will cheer our hearts and fortify and purify our resolution and our comradeship. A great harmony exists between the Declaration of Independence and all we are fighting for now. A similar harmony exists between the principles of that Declaration and what the British Empire has wished to stand for and has at last achieved, not only here at home, but in the great self-governing Dominions through the world. The Declaration of Independence is not only an American document; it follows on Magna Charta and the Petition of Right as the third of the great title deeds on which the liberties of the English-speaking race are founded. By it we lost an Empire, but by it we also preserved an Empire. By applying these principles and learning this lesson we have maintained unbroken communion with those powerful Commonwealths which our children have founded and have developed beyond the seas, and which, in this time of stress, have rallied spontaneously to our aid. The political conceptions embodied in the Declaration of Independence are the same as those which were consistently expressed at the time by Lord Chatham and Mr. Burke and by many others who had in turn received them from John Hampden and Algernon Sidney. They spring from the same source; they come from the same well of practical truth, and that well, ladies and gentlemen, is here, by the banks of the Thames in this famous Island, which we have guarded all these years, and which is the birthplace and the cradle of the British and the American race. It is English wisdom, it is that peculiar political sagacity and sense of practical truth, which animates the great document in the minds of all Americans to-day. Wherever men seek to frame polities or constitutions which are intended to safeguard the citizen, be he rich or be he poor, on the one hand from the shame of despotism, on the other from the misery of anarchy, which are devised to combine personal liberty with respect for law and love of country — wherever these desires are sincerely before the makers of constitutions or laws, it is to this original inspiration, this inspiration which was the product of English soil, which was the outcome of the Anglo-Saxon mind, that they will inevitably be drawn.

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  • I just read your lengthy July 4 retrospective from Winston Churchill. Fantastic. A timely reminder from this great man of the now distant past that the issues that matter, you can’t see, measure or quantify; but are crucially important. They are the spiritual essence of what makes Western Civilization better than any other on the planet. Lose them; you’ve lost everything. And he ably identifies our mortal enemy; the same then as now. Then, it was “scientific barbarism”. Now, it is “liberalism”. And it must be crushed now, as then. Either way, conflict is coming.

    “But this war has become an open conflict between Christian civilization and scientific barbarism. The line is clearly drawn between the nations where the peoples own the governments and the nations where the governments own the peoples. Our struggle is between systems which faithfully endeavor to quell and quench the brutish, treacherous, predatory promptings of human nature, and a system which has deliberately fostered, organized, armed, and exploited these promptings to its own base aggrandizement.”

    What a pleasure to read that dose of reason and truth and love of Country, after all the lies of the day. I acknowledge that Trump may never make the case as well as Churchill, but if he makes the attempt and starts us down that same path, for similarly good-hearted reasons, that is a very good thing. Others will surely follow. Someone has to take the first step. Maybe that man is Trump.

Winston Churchill

Tuesday, June 7, AD 2016

The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be established on solid foundations and must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny.

Winston Churchill, September 19, 1946

 

 

I can never view the above scene from the movie Into the Storm (2009) without choking up.  The movie relates Winston Churchill’s time as Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II.  The anniversary of D-Day caused me to think of the man who will always be associated with Allied victory in that conflict   The half-American Churchill did more than any other single man to consign Hitler and his grisly gang of murderous thugs to the pages of history, and to have Hitler’s vaunted thousand year Reich die at twelve years in ashes and total defeat.  He kept his country going until America intervened after Pearl Harbor, a time when victory seemed all but hopeless.  However, Churchill remained confident that, as he had warned a Nazi official in the thirties, if need be Britain would lead the world against them to bring down their tyranny.

His apogee of course was during VE Day.  Hailed by his countrymen as the man who won the War, he told them that they had won the War, along with their Allies, and it had merely been his privilege to voice the roar of the British lion.

Then the British electorate promptly tossed him from power in the first post war elections in July of 1945.  Such is politics. 

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4 Responses to Winston Churchill

  • The men and women like Sir Winston Churchill – Lady Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan come to mind – are no longer welcome to serve in western society, either Europe or North America. Even religious leaders like Pius XII, JP II and B XVI are no longer welcome. In liberal progressivism and radical Islam we are facing a catastrophe greater than the twin threats of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and we have no leader.

  • That the free peoples of our planet found such a leader in their time of need strikes me as a working of Providence.

  • Indeed Dale, especially considering how Churchill looked like roadkill in British politics throughout most of the thirties, viewed as a man of the past, distrusted by most of his party and ridiculed as an alarmist at best, a warmonger at worst.

  • How ashamed we should feel when history looks at the people we’ve turned to in our current hour of need! They’ll sigh and say that human nature is always like this, willing to follow the scoundrel and the bully. I hope they judge us harsher than that. But is that a form of vanity too, asking to be held to a higher standard? I don’t know, but we didn’t have to be like this.

One Response to January 30, 1965: Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill

  • I was only just starting elementary school, but remembered when Churchill died, largely from the National Geographic magazine our family had received on the funeral. I definitely had a sense as if historical reason itself had died. The JFK assassination had made a major impression on me (my cartoons were pre-empted, and my mother’s reaction when I told her would stay in my memory forever), but it has seemed only a blip, a downturn that would be remedied by our faithfulness to our civilization. There would be no remedy for Churchill’s death.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Winston Churchill and the Maccabees

Saturday, November 14, AD 2015

ChurchillQuoteMay1940

 

 

Today is Trin­ity Sun­day. Cen­turies ago words were writ­ten to be a call and a spur to the faith­ful ser­vants of Truth and Jus­tice: “Arm your­selves, and be ye men of val­our, and be in readi­ness for the con­flict; for it is bet­ter for us to per­ish in bat­tle than to look upon the Out­rage of our nation and our altar. As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.

Winston Churchill, Radio Address, June 19, 1940.  Churchill was quoting, slightly altered by him, I Maccabees 3: 58-60

58. And Judas said, Arm your­selves, and be valiant men, and see that ye be in readi­ness against the morn­ing, that ye may fight with these nations, that are assem­bled together against us to destroy us and our sanc­tu­ary: 59. For it is bet­ter for us to die in bat­tle, than to behold the calami­ties of our peo­ple and our sanc­tu­ary. 60. Nev­er­the­less, as the will of God is in heaven, so let him do.

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Captain of the Gate

Monday, July 20, AD 2015

 

Our homeschool readers might like to consider having their kids memorize this poem by Thomas Babington Macaulay.  Much that is great in Western Civilization, or was great in Western Civilization when the poem was being routinely taught to school kids, is contained in it:

Horatius

I

LARS Porsena of Clusium
By the Nine Gods he swore
That the great house of Tarquin
Should suffer wrong no more.
By the Nine Gods he swore it,
And named a trysting day,
And bade his messengers ride forth,
East and west and south and north,
To summon his array.

II

East and west and south and north
The messengers ride fast,
And tower and town and cottage
Have heard the trumpet’s blast.
Shame on the false Etruscan
Who lingers in his home,
When Porsena of Clusium
Is on the march for Rome.

III

The horsemen and the footmen
Are pouring in amain
From many a stately market-place;
From many a fruitful plain;
From many a lonely hamlet,
Which, hid by beech and pine,
Like an eagle’s nest, hangs on the crest
Of purple Apennine;

IV

From lordly Volaterræ,
Where scowls the far-famed hold
Piled by the hands of giants
For godlike kings of old;
From seagirt Populonia,
Whose sentinels descry
Sardinia’s snowy mountain-tops
Fringing the southern sky;

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3 Responses to Captain of the Gate

  • Is great seems to be becoming was great.
    Tales of great virtues, such as this with Horatius bravely doing his work, with reasons (vv. 27, 28, & 32) enumerated in his thoughts (prayer in vv. 58 & 59) during his actions at the collapse of the bridge speak to contemporary collapse of family and higher love.
    The name of the traitor is sort of ironic in that contemporary man’s fall is all around that one thing bringing imbalance of priorities to the degree that virtue is denigrated.
    Sad that the name of the false one has to be noticed due to its relevance to current events.
    .

    Fast by the royal standard,
    O’erlooking all the war,
    Lars Porsena of Clusium
    Sat in his ivory car.
    By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
    Prince of the Latian name;
    And by the left false Sextus,
    That wrought the deed of shame.

    XXV

    But when the face of Sextus
    Was seen among the foes,
    A yell that rent the firmament
    From all the town arose.
    On the house-tops was no woman
    But spat towards him and hissed,
    No child but screamed out curses,
    And shook its little fist.

    XXVI

    But the Consul’s brow was sad,
    And the Consul’s speech was low,
    And darkly looked he at the wall,
    And darkly at the foe.
    ‘Their van will be upon us
    Before the bridge goes down;
    And if they once may win the bridge,
    What hope to save the town?’

    XXVII

    Then out spake brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the gate:
    ‘To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late.
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his Gods,

    XXVIII

    ‘And for the tender mother
    Who dandled him to rest,
    And for the wife who nurses
    His baby at her breast,
    And for the holy maidens
    Who feed the eternal flame,
    To save them from false Sextus
    That wrought the deed of shame?

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  • Only this very week a lady whom we know, aged over ninety, recited by heart the whole of this poem. She could recite, too, the kings and queens of England, in order, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost and the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost.

    Learning by heart is important in education. At least some of this poem could be learned by heart: rhymed verse, like this, with a strong rhythm is easy to learn.

    The great Dr Arnold, head master of Rugby School here in England, said that he could not imagine that Almighty God had given boys such good memories for them to remain empty.

Sir Martin Gilbert: Requiescat in Pace

Wednesday, February 4, AD 2015

 

 

Sad news today.  The great biographer of Winston Churchill, Martin Gilbert, has died:

“ROME — Sir Martin Gilbert, a widely respected British-Jewish historian who strongly defended the wartime record of Venerable Pope Pius XII, died Tuesday at the age of 78. He had been suffering from cancer for some time.

“Sir Martin Gilbert was in inspiration to all of us who seek the truth,” said Gary Krupp, the Jewish founder of the Pave the Way Foundation, an organization that has sought to uncover the truth about Pius XII and his efforts to save Jews in World War II.

The official biographer of Sir Winston Churchill, Gilbert wrote the book The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust, which documented the action of the Church and Pope Pius XII in rescuing Jews from Nazi persecution.

He also wrote numerous books on the Holocaust, the First and Second World Wars and Jewish history. In the last years of his life, he became best known in Britain as a member of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War. The panel, which began in 2009, is investigating how U.K. forces came to participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the BBC.”

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3 Responses to Sir Martin Gilbert: Requiescat in Pace

Churchill: The Indispensable Man

Saturday, January 24, AD 2015

Gentlemen, you will never make peace with Napoleon! Napoleon cannot be master of the world until he has smashed us up, and believe me, gentlemen, he means to be master of the world! You cannot make peace with dictators. You have to destroy them, wipe them out!

Lord Horatio Nelson, That Hamilton Woman

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Heart of Oak from That Hamilton Woman (1941).  Sir Winston Churchill died 50 years ago today.  He loved that film, echoing as it did his own struggle against Hitler in the earlier stand of Great Britain against Napoleon, and would frequently show it to guests during the War.

 

When Churchill was born veterans of Trafalgar still lived, the same vintage as our current World War II veterans.  Churchill lived into the dawning of the Space Age.  He led a long and colorful life and he changed History.  The beginning of World War II seemed like the dawning of a new era:  the age of totalitarian empires.  The weak and disunited democracies seemed to be on their way out.  Churchill changed all this by keeping Britain fighting, even when victory seemed impossible, and gave his nation their finest hour.  Having reduced the Thousand Year Reich to rubble and ashes, he sounded the alarm against the Soviet Union in 1946.  Instead of the democracies ending up on the ash heap of history, it was the totalitarian empires who did so, ending like vanishing fever dreams at the dawn of a new day.  Churchill, although he battled depression his entire life, was ever an optimist about free peoples.  This was captured I think in his finest speech with this passage:

Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

 

Churchill was the indispensable man of the last century for all those who cherish freedom, and this is a good day to recall him and why it is up to us to continue the fight he waged and to recall his warning if we ever tire of the struggle:

 

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

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11 Responses to Churchill: The Indispensable Man

  • How timely. If there ever was a time for people, abandoning the term “grassroots”, and realizing their manhood against the deceits of the Satan and Lucifer, the time is now. Secular humanism is for the secular humanist. Real men, free men bleed out for Truth, Justice and Freedom.
    .
    After evolution, Mother Nature lays prostrate before the King of heaven and earth, the true God of the Universe and His Son, Jesus Christ Who bled out for man. Viva Christo Rey.

  • When Churchill was born veterans of Trafalgar still lived, the same vintage as our current World War II veterans.”

    The span of human memory and the overlapping of generations is a remarkable thing.

    In 1956, aged 11, I met a brother and sister, both in their 80s, who had lived all their lives in Bl John Henry Newman’s old parish of Edgbaston in Birmingham; they both remembered him well.

    Now, Newman was born in 1801 and died in 1890. He would have been a 14-year old schoolboy when he heard the news of Waterloo and he recounted, as one of his earliest recollections, his family talking of the death of the Cardinal Duke of York, the brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie, in 1807. Newman had no idea, at the time, who the Cardinal Duke of York was, but the name intrigued him and stuck in his memory.

  • I love Sir Winston Churchill, a true man.

  • I apologize for not posting this sooner… Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., the site of the “Iron Curtain” speech and of the National Churchill Museum, had a live-streamed 50th anniversary Churchill memorial service this morning. I suspect they will have a video recording of it posted after the fact, but even if they don’t, there’s a lot of interesting stuff at this link:

    http://www.westminster-mo.edu/news/LiveStreaming/Pages/LiveStream.aspx

  • More from the Westminster College website:

    “Sir Peter Westmacott, British Ambassador to the United States, will speak during the service which is based on the 1965 service held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England.

    “Churchill’s granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, and great grandson, Duncan Sandys, will be attending the service, along with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.”

    I’m sure we all noticed who WASN’T there…

  • Elaine Krewer. “I’m sure we noticed who WASN’T there…”

    Thank God he wasn’t. He would have ruined the tribute. After all, it’s not inexpensive to have to fumigate Westminster College after himself has departed. Better to save the money.

  • I’m sure we all noticed who WASN’T there…

    Of course we noticed. If he had been there, there would have been one of his hideously bloated motorcades tying up traffic all over the state capital, everyone would have been manhandled and then put under lockdown by his ant heap of bodyguards, and the whole event would have been obscured by Himself running his self-referential mouth.

  • I love Sir Winston Churchill, a true man.

    You’ll notice which bust BO mailed back to the donor.

  • “Thank God he wasn’t. He would have ruined the tribute”

    Of course he would have, and ultimately it’s better that he didn’t show up. Still, it would have been nice to have had someone of comparable status to the British ambassador there. I suspect that if Reagan or either Bush were still in office, they would have found a way to attend, if only to send a message to the world about what kind of leadership they sought to emulate.

    “If he had been there, there would have been one of his hideously bloated motorcades tying up traffic all over the state capital, everyone would have been manhandled and then put under lockdown by his ant heap of bodyguards, and the whole event would have been obscured by Himself running his self-referential mouth.”

    That would go with the territory anytime a president attends an event like this, I would think. I attended Eureka College in Illinois while Reagan was president, and as much as my family and I liked and admired him, we all hoped and prayed he would NOT decide to speak at my graduation because of all the security hoops that we would have to jump through if he did. On the plus side, a Reagan commencement speech would certainly have been memorable (I can’t remember a thing our actual commencement speaker said or who he was) and probably not a “self-referential” screed such as “Himself” would deliver.

    Speaking of Reagan, there are some who consider his 1982 Eureka College commencement speech in which he announced the START talks to be a sort of bookend to the Iron Curtain speech — the latter marking the beginning of the Cold War and the former the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Both campuses, by the way, also have chunks of the Berlin Wall on their grounds.

  • Here’s some local news coverage of the Churchill memorial:

    http://www.connectmidmissouri.com/news/story.aspx?id=1154006#.VMSL1ii9evU

    And here’s an interview with the last surviving member of Churchill’s government, Lord Carington, who also has some interesting things to say about contemporary world leaders:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/britain-at-war/11360734/Sir-Winston-Churchill-our-saviour-my-boss.html

  • Art Deco: “…’His’ antheap of bodyguards. .”

    I am ever intrigued by the obsessive need of despots for innumerable armed guards, the same despots who would like to pry our own few self-defensive-type arms out of our not – yet – quite cold hands.

Churchill Tribute

Saturday, January 3, AD 2015

Lead out the pageant: sad and slow, 
As fits an universal woe, 
Let the long long procession go,        
And let the sorrowing crowd about it grow, 
And let the mournful martial music blow; 
The last great Englishman is low.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

 

 

Something for the weekend.  I Vow to Thee My Country set to scenes from the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill on January 30, 1965.  Hard to think that half a century now separates us from that sad event.  Churchill planned his own funeral and he made certain that all the great old hymns he so loved were well represented in the ceremonies.  When he was asked if he was a pillar of the church, Churchill, whose attendance at services was sparse, said he was a flying buttress of the church, supporting it from outside.   His beliefs about God were ambiguous, with contrary statements about religion being made about God and religion in the course of his life.  I think that like many of his European generation coming of age in the late nineteenth century that he initially embraced agnosticism.  Then, in battle he noticed that he was always praying for assistance, whatever his head thinking his heart obviously still believing in God!   As he grew older I think a belief in God began to grow in him as he became acutely aware during his very long life of the mysteries of life and death.  He sometimes spoke enviously of those who had religious faith untroubled with doubt, and perhaps at the end he joined their ranks. In a striking part of the funeral, two buglers played:  the first one Taps and the second one Reveille, a symbol of the Resurrection.

The greatest man in secular history of the last century,  Churchill wrenched the course of history and ensured that Hitler’s talk of a Thousand Year Reich would be remembered as a tyrant’s empty boast and not the beginning of a waking nightmare for all mankind.  Politicians are always with us, as ubiquitous as fleas on a dog and often about as useful.  A statesman like Churchill, who can see beyond present turmoil and disaster and point the way forward, is rare and precious indeed.  On V-E day in Great Britain Churchill was hailed as the man who won the war.  Churchill denied this and said that the victory belonged to the British people and it had merely been his privilege to give voice to the roar of the British lion.  He was then promptly tossed out by the British people at the general election, his task completed.  He would once again become prime minister in 1951, but it was anti-climactic, a mere epilogue to his career.  His great moment had been when he sustained British morale and kept his nation in the fight against Nazi Germany at a time when victory seemed hopeless and even mere survival doubtful, and thus gave his people their finest hour.

 

For that he deserves to be remembered and honored, and not just by the British, but by all free men and women everywhere.

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20 Responses to Churchill Tribute

  • I rank Reagan with Churchill as the greatest men in secular history of the 20th century, but that in no way diminishes Churchill and his accomplishments.

  • I agree with Penguins Fan. There are no more great statesmen like Churchilll and Reagan.

  • I would hope and pray that providence would supply the statesmen and commander’s needed to defend our homeland if a third world war broke out.
    Hope and prayers would most definitely be needed due to our lack of Christianity in many of our gov’t. institutions and immoral laws that prevail in a once prevalent nation under God.

    We will reap what we sow…a nation that believes in the freedom to worship many God’s…even Satan himself. Ask the Bishop of Anchorage AK. how the attacks on the Dominican Fathers and friars are going,…and let’s not forget the recent arson on the premises.

    God help us. Please.

  • As I recall, early in his first term President Obama returned to the British
    government the bust of Winston Churchill which had been displayed in the oval
    office through the Bush presidency.

  • Clinton, the Narcissist President has no respect for a true statesman.

  • Currently reading the Last Lion, Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940 by William Manchester. It is a companion volume to the first volume that is a biography of sorts of Churchill’s earlier years. Good stuff! Makes my heart pound just reading it!

  • I must confess to finding Chuchill’s deadly accurate description of another great statesman, Charles de Gaulle, rather amusing – “He looks like a female llama who has just been surprised in her bath.”

  • Also worth noting that Churchill, having been born in 1874, was in his late 60s when he led Britain through WWII and 70 when he left office as PM. Goes to show that you don’t have to be young to be heroic….

  • I was interested to learn Churchill and his family estate were deep in debt before the war. One named Natty Rothchild worked out a deal with him to forgive some of the total debt, … in return for what I wonder.

  • Churchill earned huge sums as a writer. His main problem was the confiscatory tax system he helped install as Chancellor of the Exchequer. A great book on the subject is Mr. Churchill’s Profession:

    http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1083696.ece

    There is absolutely no evidence that any of Churchill’s business dealings influenced him in the slightest when he held Cabinet Office.

  • Rick

    “Churchill and his family estate were deep in debt.”

    What “family estate”? Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill was the 3rd son of the 7th Duke of Marleborough. His cousin Charles, the 9th Duke married the enormously wealthy Consuelo Vanderbilt.

  • Although just about eight weeks short of my fifth birthday, I recall being perplexed by Churchill being thrown over for Attlee after all he did for his country. Not that I was all that precocious but that it was such a glaring example of ingratitude that even a child could see it.

  • Yes he was very impressive! …an artist with line and paint as well as with words.
    A lover of justice, but still- did his patriotism stop him making more headway in the pursuit of justice for the Irish and (even though he was very young) the Armenians. A great man for England and for her allies.

  • Actually Anzlyne he fought vigorously against the Irish Nationalists, but also was instrumental in hammering out the peace treaty which ended the war and recognized the independence of the Irish Free State. He and Michael Collins became the most unlikely of allies during this process and gained a grudging respect for each other as a result.

    Great Britain was at War against Turkey at the time of the Armenian massacres and lacked the power to help the Armenians. Here is Churchill’s description of what happened to the Armenians after World War I:

    “On March 12, 1920, the Supreme Council offered the mandate to the League of Nations. But the League, unsupported by men or money, promptly and with prudence declined. There remained the Treaty of Sèvres. On August 10 the Powers compelled the Constantinople Government to recognize an as yet undetermined Armenia as a free and independent State. Article 89 prescribed that Turkey must submit to ‘the arbitration of the President of the United States of America the question of the frontier to be fixed between Turkey and Armenia in the vilayets of Erzeroum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis, and to accept his decision thereupon, as well as any stipulation he may prescribe as to access of Armenia to the sea.’ It was not until December 1920 that President Wilson completed the discharge of this high function. The frontier he defined gave Armenia virtually all the Turkish territory which had been occupied by Russian troops until they disbanded themselves under the influence of the Revolution; and era which, added to the Republic of Erivan, made an Armenian national homeland of nearly sixty thousand square miles.
    So generous was the recognition in theory of Armenian claims that the Armenian and Greek population of the new State was actually outnumbered by Moslem inhabitants. Here was justice and much more. It existed however upon paper only. Already nearly a year before, in January 1920, the Turks had attacked the French in Cilicia, driven them out of the Marash district and massacred nearly fifty thousand Armenian inhabitants. In May Bolshevik troops invaded and subjugated the Republic of Erivan. In September, by collusion between the Bolsheviks and Turks, Erivan was delivered to the Turkish Nationalists; and as in Cilicia, another extensive massacre of Armenians accompanied the military operations. Even the hope that a small autonomous Armenian province might eventually be established in Cilicia under French protection was destroyed. In October France, by the Agreement of Angora, undertook to evacuate Cilicia completely. In the Treaty of Lausanne, which registered the final peace between Turkey and the Great Powers, history will search in vain for the word « Armenia ».” (Winston Churchill , The World Crisis, vol. 5, « The Aftermath » 1929).

  • From 1915 through 1922, as few as 1.2 to as many as 1.5 million Armenians were massacred in Turkey. A century later, we see the same horror beginning in Iraq and Syria. ISIS is conducting the first genocide of the Twenty First Century. We stand by and watch.

  • Yes I remember that Michael Collins thought highly of him. I do appreciate Churchill, but my heart still breaks! As I read the history it seems that good well intentioned people plainly got tired of the continuous struggle. Some of that magnificent bulldog like tenacity to solve the problems could have been helpful.
    If Winston Churchill could’ve would’ve made the decision for the Faith personally, how might the flow of history right up through the 60’s and 70’s have been altered.
    Even in the statement you quote above, about Armenia, there seems an undercurrent of dithering that I think comes from not having the understaning of the difference between Christianity and Islam…wanting to treat these apples and oranges ( or more distinct :apples and croquet balls) as equal- is a huge mistake that still is stopping the Great Powers from decisive action for the side of Good. First you have to be able to see the difference.

  • Oh, Churchill understood Islam, and from quite a young age:

    “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die: but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

    Winston Churchill, The River War, 1899

  • Yes he did! my attempt at a point was about the great man not bringing himself to real knowledge and acceptance of the Faith. Perhaps his misunderstanding of Catholicism’s relationship with science contributed to his reluctance…. “the science against which it had vainly struggled ”
    Donald McClarey you are a great blessing to me and to all of us who regularly learn so much at this blog. Like you, I am inspired by Winston Churchill– my comment was just a little “yeah,but” which I admit to be too audacious coming from a person so far out of the realm of Churchill’s global impact.

  • “it was such a glaring example of ingratitude that even a child could see it.”

    Is it possible that Churchill’s defeat in 1945 was not so much due to ingratitude as simply a desire (albeit misguided) on the part of the British people to put the war behind them and start fresh?

  • The Conservatives had been in power for a very long time. I would have been surprised if they had won the election. I would note that Labor did not retain power long, but long enough to fasten on to Britain socialist apparatus that had a debilitating impact on the UK until Thatcher.

The Old World in its Sunset Was Fair to See

Wednesday, July 30, AD 2014

 

Camille_Pissarro_007

 

Like many others, I often summon up in my memory the impression of those July days.  The world on the verge of its catastrophe was very brilliant.  Nations and Empires crowned with princes and potentates rose majestically on every side, lapped in the accumulated treasures of the long peace.  All were fitted and fastened—it seemed securely—into an immense cantilever.  The two mighty Europeans systems faced each other glittering and clanking in their panoply, but with a tranquil gaze.  A polite, discreet, pacific, and on the whole sincere diplomacy spread its web of connections over both.  A sentence in a dispatch, an observation by an ambassador, a cryptic phrase in a Parliament seemed sufficient to adjust from day to day the balance of the prodigious structure.  Words counted, and even whispers.  A nod could be made to tell.  Were we after all to achieve world security and universal peace by a marvelous system of combinations in equipoise and of armaments in equation, of checks and counter-checks on violent action ever more complex and more delicate?  Would Europe this marshaled, thus grouped, thus related, unite into one universal and glorious organism capable of receiving and enjoying in undreamed of abundance the bounty which nature and science stood hand in hand to give?  The old world in its sunset was fair to see.

Winston Churchill, The World Crisis

How quickly worlds can be shattered.  In this year of grace 2014 let us hope that future historians will not be putting down similar words about out age.  I doubt, in part, if they will, because the optimism that characterized Europe prior to the Great War is completely foreign to our time.  However, future historians dwelling upon the blindness of current leaders as we slide into another Great War, well, that would not surprise me at all.  Let us pray that my fears do not come to fruition.

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6 Responses to The Old World in its Sunset Was Fair to See

  • ‘ …Nations and Empires … A polite, discreet, pacific, and on the whole sincere diplomacy spread its web of connections over both. … ‘

    Politeness, discretion, and intellect are victims of an abortion – practically abandoned by art, education, entertainment, journalism, public service leaders, and most with forms of communication.

  • Maybe the sun hasn’t completely set on the old Catholic world… France is offering refuge to Iraqi Christians. Maybe the eldest daughter of the Church still has some of the old feeling.

  • Anzlyne

    The proud boast – La France, pays d’asile [France, the country of asylum] is not an empty one; that it is a matter of pride is in stark contrast to German (and British) attitudes.

  • I didn’t know they claimed that appellation, but I did know that the south of France is where some 1st century Jews become Christians fled to in escaping persecution. Mary Magdalena for one

  • Ironically, there are some roughly similar passages in “The Crisis” by Winston Churchill — not the Churchill mentioned above but a popular American historical novelist of the early 20th century (go here to read about him: http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/02/10/the-other-winston-churchill). Internet searches for this novel about the advent of the Civil War often turn up results for the British Churchill’s “World Crisis” due to the similarity of the titles and authors.

    In this passage the American Churchill describes the grand estate of a (fictional) St. Louis society family and the glittering party they hosted in the fall of 1860, just before Abraham Lincoln was elected president and the Civil War broke out:

    “An era of charity, of golden simplicity, was passing on that October night of Anne Brinsmade’s ball. Those who made merry there were soon to be driven and scattered before the winds of war; to die at Wilson’s Creek, or Shiloh, or to be spared for heroes of the Wilderness. Some were to eke out a life of widowhood in poverty. All were to live soberly, chastened by what they had seen. A fear knocked at Colonel Carvel’s heart as he stood watching the bright figures.

    “Brinsmade,” he said, “do you remember this room in May, ’46?”

    Mr. Brinsmade, startled, turned upon him quickly.

    “Why, Colonel, you have read my very thoughts,” he said. “Some of those who were here then are—are still in Mexico.”

    “And some who came home, Brinsmade, blamed God because they had not fallen,” said the Colonel. (The Colonel’s wife had died while he was away fighting in Mexico.)

    “Hush, Comyn, His will be done,” he answered; “He has left a daughter to comfort you.”

  • Maybe France is waking up, in some small way.

    Hot Air has a piece about the vicious anti-Semitic protests that have taken place in Germany and Italy. Conspicuous by is absence is….Poland. Poland, where so much carnage from both World Wars took place, where the SS built and operated so many death camps….

    Poland really does not have the economic means to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees – they haven’t allowed the descendants of Poles deported by Stalin to return (and I think they should) – but you are not seeing or hearing of any of that garbage there.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Winston Churchill

Sunday, June 1, AD 2014

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In this week in which we observe the 70th anniversary of D-Day it is appropriate to recall these words of the greatest statesman of the last century, Winston Churchill.  He spoke these words in 1949 at MIT and I think they speak directly to our time:

Our inheritance of well-founded slowly conceived codes of honour, morals and manners, the passionate convictions which so many hundreds of millions share together of the principles of freedom and justice, are far more precious to us than anything which scientific discoveries could bestow. Those whose minds are attracted or compelled to rigid and symmetrical systems of government should remember that logic, like science, must be the servant and not the master of man. Human beings and human societies are not structures that are built or machines that are forged. They are plants that grow and must be tended as such. Life is a test and this world a place of trial. Always the problems or it may be the same problem will be presented to every generation in different forms. The problems of victory may be even more baffling than those of defeat. However much the conditions change, the supreme question is how we live and grow and bloom and die, and how far each life conforms to standards which are not wholly related to space or time. 

 

 Here I speak not only to those who enjoy the blessings and consolation of revealed religion but also to those who face the mysteries of human destiny alone. The flame of Christian ethics is still our highest guide. To guard and cherish it is our first interest, both spiritually and materially. The fulfilment of Spiritual duty in our daily life is vital to our survival. Only by bringing it into perfect application can we hope to solve for ourselves the problems of this world and not of this world alone.

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Let us then move forward together in discharge of our mission and our duty, fearing God and nothing else.

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6 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Winston Churchill

  • I just read the speech and its context was important so as to comprehend the gravity of those times…..and these times. Churchill’s words are clarifying and timeless.

  • Churchill was a master of the use of the English language. Churchill had an uncanny knack for clarifying almost anything and putting it in a way that could not be contested.

    It was in 1938 during a meeting with von Ribbentrop that he warned the Nazi foreign minister that England would not be defeated in the event of a war against Germany.

    I only remember this from some other source that I can’t remember, but I read that Eleanor Roosevelt used to be driven crazy by Churchill’s White House visits. Churchill used to stay up late, smoking cigars and drinking brandy and telling stories. Mrs. Roosevelt encountered Churchill after he stepped out of the shower. “Mrs. Roosevelt, please be advised that Great Britain has nothing to hide in its relationship to the United States” (I paraphrase) was Churchill’s response.

    My favorite quote – a woman who was not a fan of Churchill told him, “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.” Churchill’s response was “Madam, if I were your husband, I would drink it.”

    Apparently the Prime Minister of Great Britain took a leak in the Rhine River after the Allies gained possession of it.

  • To Churchill’s credit, he repudiated the burdensome excesses of the Treaty of Versailles and recognized that a valuable opportunity to crush Soviet Bolshevism had been lost when the terms of surrender were drawn for WWI (see, min. 30.26).
    .
    These two pivotal errors cost millions of lives in the ensuing decades. His advocacy for the peace-keeping aspirations of the League of Nations, despite its subsequent failure, gave rise to the United Nations. The success of which is still to be determined.

  • Penguins Fan wrote, “a woman who was not a fan of Churchill…”
    The woman was Lady Nancy Astor, (née Langhorne of Danville, Virginia), the first woman MP to take her seat in the House of Commons in 1919, as member for Plymouth Sutton. The first woman elected had been Constance Countess Markievicz, elected for Dublin St Patricks. Owing to the abstentionist policy of Sinn Féin, she did not take her seat.
    Astor was a notable supporter of the Temperance Movement and, when Churchill once asked her what disguise he should wear to a masquerade ball, she asked, “Why don’t you come sober?”

  • While a great man, Churchill was not above blather and bathos when it came to
    gassing over his own role, in bringing about the sorry pass that the Europeans found themselves in, during that period. There was a book published by the Russians that detailed the back and forth telegrams between Churchill and Stalin. Ever the effusive drunk, Churchill with no thought at all about the cost of telegrams goes on and on about troop movements and historic events and the deathless bravery of the Soviets, while Stalin was laconic to the point of rudeness. Those who were underwhelmed by Churchill, the one time anti-Bolshevik had their reasons.

  • “Those who were underwhelmed by Churchill, the one time anti-Bolshevik had their reasons.”

    Incorrect reasons. Churchill had zero illusions about Stalin as he demonstrated time and again by his actions as the War went on. If anyone had illusions about Stalin it was FDR who, at least until his last months in ’45, thought that he could charm Stalin into acting like a civilized leader through personal diplomacy.