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Archive for the ‘history’ Category

(I’m cleaning out the drafts tonight.  The beginnings of this were written a year ago.  Funny how things continue to repeat… and those shrugged off as “doom and gloom” types continue to be right.  “Oh, government healthcare will never mandate abortion coverage and gay people don’t want to force anyone to agree with them, they just want to get married!”)

On other sites, I was busy *discussing* why the use of the term “jesuit” as a slur to accuse a new Congressman of being in league with the New World Order, apparently because he voted against the poster’s wishes and had graduated from one of the several dozen Jesuit universities in the U.S., was a) offensive, b) laughably inaccurate, and c), yes, in spite of the poster’s protestations to the contrary, anti-Catholic.  (If you use vocabulary specific to my religion as a slur, it’s pretty obvious you neither like nor even grudgingly respect my religion.)

I wound up discussing something else entirely: how do you get from freedom to tyrrany?  What does it look like along the way?  Subtitle: How Henry VIII led to the New World Order (I’ll pull it together, honest.)

Part 1: Henry goes astray

King Henry VIII was considered intelligent and handsome as a young king.  The king wrote a document that thoroughly picked apart Martin Luther’s theological innovations and defended the long-held Catholic teachings on the Sacraments.  For this, the pope granted Henry VIII the title “Defender of the Faith,” a title the British monarchs still claim.  (The honor would not go to another Englishman until G.K. Chesterton in the early 1900’s.)

And then things started to go wrong.  The queen failed to produce a male heir.  Henry wanted a divorce (and had #2 lined up already).  The pope said no.

By the time the first act was over, Henry had had one of his closest friends and advisors executed for refusing to grant to Ceasar the things that were God’s: St. Thomas More, former Chancellor of England, went to the executioner’s block for treason because he would not publicly declare the king the head of the church in England, saying, “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”  More would not be the last Catholic executed in Britain for the sin of being a faithful Catholic.

(More, as a lawyer, knew that he could not legally be convicted for not saying something, namely approval of the king’s divorce, remarriage, and seizure of leadership of the church in England.  As a realist, More probably knew that he would be convicted anyways.  Ironically, the Department of Justice recently put out a memo insisting that, “Silence will be interpreted as disapproval,” during  LGBT pride month, and, thus, the silent would be subject to disciplinary action.  Here we go again…)

Part 2: Henry creates excuses to abuse his opponents

As Henry VIII continued on his sex-driven romp over Church and conscience rights, his next step was to line up more support.  How?  Simple!   Declare anyone who opposes you to be a horrible, evil traitor and seize their property.  Monasteries were sacked and given away as prizes to whatever schemer wanted to be a lord and would say anything Henry wanted to get there.  Monks and nuns were turned out, leaving the poor, the sick, and the undereducated that they had served with nothing.  Generations of donations meant to beautify churches for God’s glory, free art galleries for anyone, were destroyed to make Henry’s point.

The point?  “I am EVERYTHING, and I will brook no opponents, not even God.”

I dare say that St. Thomas, who was, “The king’s good servant, but God’s first,” was a good deal better for England than any of the opportunists Henry raised to the nobility.

Our country hasn’t started wholesale seizure of church property yet, but it’s happened before, and not just in England.  However, the churches that insist on maintaining moral standards as they teach, serve, and heal are being forced out of providing adoption services, hospital care, and education.

Fire a teacher for breaking the moral behavior part of her contract?  Get sued, lose tens of thousands of dollars fighting it in court.

You’re a Catholic agency and won’t place a child for adoption with a gay couple?  You can quit, or we’ll take your license away.

Do you hold the belief that abortion is murder, not healthcare?  Tough luck; you’re going to be paying for it anyways, as of August 1.

The marginalization didn’t begin here, but it is accelerating.

Part 3: Elizabeth follows her father’s footsteps

We think of history as a fairly neutral telling of events.  Unfortunately, this is hardly ever what happens.  Queen Elizabeth I’s masterful rewriting of history is one such example of, to put it gently, less-than-neutral history reporting.

“Good Queen Bess”, as we are told in school her subjects called her, was running a police state.  (And a lot of her subjects didn’t think she was very good at all.)  Neighbors were encouraged to turn in neighbors on any suspicion of Catholic sympathies.  Catholics caught at mass were arrested, left in prison in horrible conditions, and allowed to die.  Those caught hiding a priest were killed, many in gruesome and cruel ways.  Families that could, escaped to the continent.  Just as with the Pilgrims later, however, the English crown wasn’t content with fleeing, the crown demanded compliance, religious objections be damned.  Travel abroad for any reason became difficult as the police state sought to retain its victims.

During this period, history was rewritten.  Catholics were vilified, the Church was cast in the worst light possible, and Catholic countries were elevated from mere competitors to evil incarnate.  Any tales of misdeeds out of Catholic countries or their colonies were elaborated and widely publicized.  Captured priests weren’t men trying to serve the hunted flock of faithful, they were evil, skulking spies, working for England’s arch-enemy, Spain, and seeking to corrupt good, honest (and above all, Protestant) Englishmen (never mind that most English were still Catholic until some time later; most were biding their time until “all this blows over”… within a generation, those people were generally Anglican).  Much of what is taught in this country about everything from Henry VIII forward has been processed and sanitized to make Protestant England look good.  It’s called the Black Legend, and, although much of it has been disproven, it’s still taught.

Then, as now, anti-Catholicism is approved and encouraged.

Part 4: The chickens come home to roost

Eventually, we get to Dickens.  (Yes, I’m skipping some stuff.)  Poor houses, debtors’ prisons, child labor, evil factories, miserly money lenders preying on the poor, etc.

Dickens was part of a movement to reform how the country dealt with the poor and the sick.  Why?  Because about two hundred years earlier, Henry VIII had dismantled the institutions that had been doing that work.  As England became increasingly urban, the disjointed efforts of some of the churches wasn’t enough to deal with the overwhelming flood of people displaced from the countryside.

Further down the line, the government became more and more involved in providing services that used to be the job of the Church.  The government stepped in and recreated programs to care for the poor and to provide education.  Of course, that never comes free; the government provides the teachers and doctors, but first makes sure they’ll toe the government line.

And so, here we are: Henry VIII’s dream realized.  The government is EVERYTHING.  The government provides the abortion if your mom wants it, delivery on the taxpayer dime if she doesn’t.  Welfare to take the place of the totally unnecessary father, government schooling to tell you it was your right to get that money, because rich people who worked hard and stayed married are just mean homophobes.  They’ll tell you which news to watch. The government will try to tell you which churches are “good”, and which insist on following their own consciences (not approved!  we said abortion and gay marriage are good, now get in line!  how dare you say God outranks us!  WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT AND WE OWN YOU.  I think you need to be audited by the IRS… and maybe the FBI, while we’re at it.).  They’ll get your sports teams and the cartoons to push the administration’s agenda, because we don’t want will not tolerate dissent.

But, hey, none of that is going to happen, right?  I’m just a crazy conspiracy theorist.  One of those “confusing” blogs, as President Obama said in his first term, taking a page from Elizabeth’s smear campaign (step 1: if you can’t refute the argument, disparage the person making the argument).

Yes, history repeats itself.  Tyrants are much the same in every age.  Sooner or later, they demand that they be the object of worship.

Daniel went to the lion’s den for praying to God, not the king.

The early Christians were fed to lions in the Colliseum for refusing to worship Caesar.

Cardinal George of Chicago said that his successor better be prepared to die in prison if he intends to defend the Church’s right to preach the Gospel and act on it, because history tells us how this usually turns out, once we start down this path.

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Memorial Day

I have obviously been cleaning out my “draft posts” folder, stayed up too late, and just generally written too much (again).

Happy Memorial Day.  Remember to thank our military for your freedoms today.  The Founders wrote the words about the freedoms, but the military had to win them, and then defend them again in 1812.

Which, of course, gave us our National Anthem, written after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor in 1814.  (Here are the first and fourth verses, the most commonly sung.)

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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New Reading…

Chai Ling was a leader of the Tiananmen Square protests.  Now, however, she is not agitating for democracy, but for the end of China’s abusive One Child policy.  (I’ll keep adding the “abusive”, although population control programs have always and everywhere been abusive.  Sooner or later, someone decides he’d like to get a bonus, so he’ll just force “a few” women to have sterilizations, then everyone else has to keep up their sterilization numbers, and then…  And we’ve done it in our country, too.)

Kathryn Lopez at Townhall wrote about Chai’s testimony on the One Child policy in Congress and in her book.  It is heartbreaking:

That she was a victim of the one-child policy didn’t dawn on her until a 2009 [Congressional] hearing… In that hearing, a woman named Wujian talked about her forced abortion under the one-child policy. …

“I was not prepared for her testimony,” Chai writes in her book. “I felt the pain and helplessness of Tiananmen when the tanks moved in on us. I felt the pain and helplessness of that horrible afternoon on the operating table when they performed the abortion on me without anesthesia.” She felt a “deep-rooted sadness” for a baby she would abort while married, after leaving China, having been so accustomed to it as a routine option. …

Chai Ling did not even fully realize what she was protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the pain of tyranny having oppressed her — body, mind, and soul — in such deep and abiding ways, as her book makes clear. As she said on Capitol Hill this September: “We are here to report and mourn the loss of 400-plus million lives taken” under China’s one-child policy. “But I never realized until I was writing my memoir that three of those babies are mine.”

Abortion is dehumanizing — and not just to the unborn child whose life it ends. It’s degrading to the entire family, to society and civilization as a whole.

Sadly, the comments on the online article bear out that assertion.  While many wrote of their support for political action against China’s policies, one person wrote that the article was an “odd take” on the situation, since the only problem the poster saw was that Chai wasn’t free in her “reproductive choices.”  Because, as long as you “freely” chose it, murder is ok?  (and she thought she was choosing this freely, at least her third abortion, so how free is free before it’s really free?)

Yet another person who didn’t read to the bottom before posting a comment, since the end of the article discusses the tendency of women to excuse those who pressured them into an abortion or failed to support them when they needed help.

Chai Ling’s book is A Heart for Freedom.  I will try to get to reading it soon.

But probably not on the plane to China.  I had a hard enough time biting my tongue last time in Tiananmen Square and in front of the guide (“Oh, Chinese don’t care much about abortion,” he dismissively told our adoption group.  Really?  Like the people who lynched the family planning officials last month, I wanted to say.  They seemed to care…).

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(Let’s just start here: Navy SEALs are awesome.  You should have known that already, but I’ll point it out again.)

I thought I’d be more excited, really.

As exuberant as Geraldo was on FoxNews, making the announcement (and he’s spent a lot of time with the troops and really feels what great news this is for them), I immediately thought, “Ok, but now what?”  (Followed by, “Hmm.  I hope he repented before he died, though I doubt it,” and then “Oh, no!  I’m not going to get to watch the recorded hours of beatification of JPII coverage because DH will be geeking out on SEAL team details for the next few days.  Crud!”)

Did we behead a dragon or a hydra?  Because there’s a difference. 

Behead a dragon, and it dies.  Chop off one of the hydra’s heads, and it grows a few more.  Al Qaeda is a whole lot more like the hydra; there are many local cells and local leaders.  The loss of the head of this loose organization may not be that significant to their operations.  Besides, bin Laden was on dialysis; the rest of the leadership had to know they needed to prepare for his death.

On a positive note, I have to say that, of all President Obama’s speeches, I most admired his brief speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. SEALs.  It was short.  It was presidential.  The usual jabs, smirks, and nervous laughs were absent.  It covered what it needed to cover, lauded the U.S. armed forces, and didn’t play up the president’s role overmuch.  I wasn’t sure Obama had it in him, but this was a good speech when the whole world was watching.

(The president still spends like a drunken sailor with a new credit card (too much and on all the wrong things), so, no, liberal ladies of The View, I do not think Republicans are doomed in 2012.  One good decision does not make for a good presidency.  Besides, many of the factors and policies leading to this victory were things he campaigned against… but did a 180 on when he found out how the world really works.)

And the question remains: aside from a morale boost for the U.S., will bin Laden’s death be a game-changer, or just a footnote in a long, painful campaign?  Will this encourage lukewarm allies to be more helpful?  Will this discourage would-be al Qaeda members from joining or cause their support to wane?  Will the threatened retaliatory attacks materialize, or is it just bluster?  What about Pakistan?  Did they know he was there?  Will the U.S.’s action (without informing the Pakistanis for fear of someone tipping off bin Laden) undermine moderates in that government?

It remains to be seen.

(But Navy SEALs are awesome.)

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I’m sure everyone’s heard the brouhaha by now.  A giant “community center” (to include a mosque) is to be built within blocks of Ground Zero.  There is no nearby Muslim community to use the gym and other facilities.  Survivors and family members of the victims of 9/11 are upset (understandably so, I would say).  Various New York politicians are tripping over themselves to remind everyone that it is perfectly legal.

Except, as usual, they’re arguing against almost nobody.  The main argument isn’t that it should be illegal.

It should be unthinkable.  Especially if, as the imam claims, the community center is to promote understanding and peace between Muslims and the rest of the world.

Really?  So, you named the project after a mosque built as something of a victory monument in Muslim-occupied Spain?  That’s supposed to give me a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling about Islam?!?!

Oh, wait, that’s right: most of the Western world has completely forgotten its history.  I had a shocking conversation with some relatives of my husband (overseas missionaries, no less) who had absolutely no idea what had happened to the basilica of Hagia Sophia.  Tonight, Glenn Beck at least referenced the incident, although he mistakenly described the new mosque as being built on the church’s ruins (it wasn’t; they just slapped some minarets on it).

And just for questioning if the location of the proposed mosque is sensitive to the memory of 9/11, people are being called racist and bigoted.  Muslims are writing articles for the paper about how they worry about their children’s future in this country.

Well, look on the bright side: at least you aren’t a Christian with a Bible in Saudi Arabia.  Fr. Pacwa on EWTN just mentioned (ok, I’m weeks behind on the dvr) that two Filipino women had their heads chopped off recently for having a Bible.  Not preaching, not praying in public, just having a Bible in the country.  The many Filipino workers (mostly Catholic) in Saudi Arabia are forbidden from having a rosary, a Bible, or any prayer books.  People have been arrested for having private prayer meetings inside apartments, quietly, with all the curtains closed.  There are no Christian churches in Saudi Arabia.

There is a mosque in Rome.  There are areas of London where the police refuse to enter, allowing sharia law to rule.  The U.S. military has Muslim chaplains.

Somehow, I don’t think the Christians are the ones prohibiting free exercise of religion.

Back to the name.  The new community center was to be called Cordoba House.  (They changed the name when people started pointing out the associations.)

Doesn’t ring a bell?  Here’s a hint: does “cordoba” sound like an Arabic word?  Do you associate it with the Middle East… or Spain?

Cordoba, Spain was the site of the church of St. Vincent, started around 600 AD, partially built with stones and columns from an earlier Roman temple.  When the Muslims conquered Spain, the church was bought and reworked as a mosque.  Cordoba was the capital of Al-Andalus (the Muslims’ name for occupied Spain), and the mosque complex was within the caliph’s palace.  The main hall was used not just for religious training, but for the operation of the law within conquered Spain.  Thus, the mosque was not simply a religious building, but the heart of Muslim Spain.

When the Christians retook Spain, they turned the mosque into a cathedral.  This summer, calls escalated for the bishop to allow Muslims to worship in the building again.  (The article fails to tell you much.  Some of the comments are just sad.  “But we’re all God’s children!” people gush.  Great.  Tell the Muslims that.  Tell the beheaded Filipinas that.  Tell the dead wives and daughters all across Europe and now the U.S. who were killed by their fathers or brothers for disgracing the family by being too Western.  Hagia Sophia is not a this-for-that deal: it is an example of how the Muslims cry about fairness and sharing when it benefits them… but never when it benefits Christians whose churches were seized.  Christianity is not about gushy, “I just love everyone!” mush; it is about truth.  If I love you, I will tell you where to find Truth, not just smile and wish you, “Have a blessed day!” as your father chops your head off because you’re wearing blue jeans.  And then wish the father a blessed day, too, without being judgmental, of course.)

Several people have argued that the mosque near Ground Zero is simply following in the tradition of Muslims building mosques on the sites of their conquests.  The name, the location far from any Muslim community, the lack of sensitivity to 9/11, the anti-American statements of the imam, the mysterious funding trail (which, like the money trails of various radical mosques and madrassas around the U.S., is probably going to lead straight back to the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia), etc. all seem to argue for the point that this is a victory monument.

Arguing against, we have only the word of the imam, who says he just wants to promote understanding.  Of course, he also said that he wants to bring sharia law to America and that America is worse than Al Qaeda.

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For quite a while, I’ve suspected that most of our major “this vs. that” comparisons don’t really work.

If you take the extremes of the political spectrum, you have communism on the left and fascism on the right… except that they look an awful lot alike.  I’d say the line of the spectrum actually wraps around behind, so that the two extremes blend into each other.

Lately, in U.S. politics, the Democrats have been condemned as the party of Big Government.  Your other option is the Republicans, labelled as the party of Big Business.  Except that Big Government and Big Business increasingly seem to be playing at fighting each other and more often seem to be colluding.

Some choice, huh?

As I mentioned (but haven’t put on my What I’m Reading page), I am finishing up Hilaire Belloc’s Crisis of Civilization.  More on that forthcoming, honest.  But, for tonight, I’ll settle for a short quote:

… common upon the lips of the Socialists a generation ago, to which allusion has already been made– “Let the big businesses grow; the nearer they become to monopolies, the more easily shall they be taken over by the State.”

Why do I suspect that the Socialists quit saying it because the plan was going well and they just didn’t want to call attention to it?  Belloc also argued that as big businesses eat up their smaller competition and become increasingly huge and distant, most people will lose any sense of difference between oppression by Big Business and domination by Big Government, completely forgetting that neither one was supposed to be big in the first place.

But it’s not like our government has taken over any that many all of the big businesses lately…

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Too true to be funny

I was trying to verify the attribution on a different quote and found this one instead, from one of the syndicated editorial writers I almost always read:

Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.
– Thomas Sowell

I would add, “Followed by strenuous attempts to villify what worked as evil, or, at least, awful.”

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