Happy ‘anti-slavery day’

Diagram of a slave ship from the Atlantic slav...

Diagram of a slave ship from the Atlantic slave trade. From an Abstract of Evidence delivered before a select committee of the House of Commons in 1790 and 1791. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently in 2007 the EU Parliament passed a law that made 18 October ‘Anti Human trafficking day’ and in 2010 the british Parliament made the same day ‘Anti-slavery day’. My take on that is: whoopee, maybe we could have a hashtag next–they’re all about as effective.

Why this is here is a reminder that it was the British, led mostly by Wilberforce, that ended the transatlantic slave trade, by putting the Royal Navy, and their money where their mouth was.

Still, I like Ann Jolis’ article here, she says some good things, and that’s her job. And she did a good job.

But we need to heed what the Spectator editors of an earlier age said.

We could not have believed for a moment, a year ago, that the Times and Saturday Review would both in the same week devote their ablest pens to an apology, not merely for Slavery itself, but for the Christian character of that institution. Yet so it is. . . .

The Times follows its bolder contemporary on the same track, modestly suggesting that it would be much more Scriptural and Christian in the abolitionists to preach the ‘amelioration of the negro’ (we suppose the writer means, of his lot), than his emancipation. . . .

For ourselves we do not hesitate to say that no religious scepticism of the present day seems to us so monstrous and so atheistic as this; nay, that if the Gospel were weighted with such a condition, it would be one that neither sign nor miracle could prove. It is, speaking relatively, of infinitely little importance whether we live under an aristocracy or a democracy, compared with whether we live under a God who loves freedom, or a Devil who loves Slavery. But, we confess, nothing seems to us more astounding than the assertion that the Divine revelation is indifferent on the matter. No doubt, the Divine education of the Hebrew people never attempted to ignore the actual historical condition of the nation. It recognized, under the strictest possible limitations, the fact of Slavery, at an era when no other people had learned to impose any limitation on the power of the master at all.

 

Via Happy ‘anti-slavery day’ to Clapham Christians, et al » Spectator Blogs.

Those are words we would be well advised to heed, and with more than our mouths.

There is still much work to do.

A Visit to Assandun, maybe

Hadstock Church via A Clerk of Oxford

Hadstock Church
via A Clerk of Oxford

If you remember we talked the other day about the Battle of Hastings and its aftermath, right down to this day. But fifty years before 1066, there was another battle in England, this one between Cnut and Edmund Ironside. In this one the Danish King won, and the first time the House of Wessex lost the throne, actually Edmund conceded half the kingdom and when he died a month later Cnut took over it all.

I don’t know if they teach about this in the UK but, I had barely heard of it, and essentially remember less. But that got remedied yesterday, thanks to The Clerk of Oxford. Here’s a fascinating story about piecing together history, and some beautiful pictures of England and an English church, as well.

All in all a perfect Sunday article for a blog that loves history. Enjoy

18 October is the anniversary of the climactic battle of the Danish Conquest of England: on this day in 1016 the Danish army, led by Cnut, defeated an English army led by Edmund Ironside at a place called Assandun in Essex. After Assandun Edmund Ironside conceded defeat to the Danes and agreed to divide the kingdom with Cnut; when he died just over a month later, Cnut was accepted as king of all England. Assandun was, therefore, a significant date in the history of Anglo-Saxon England, which probably would have been even more significant if it had not been overtaken by the Battle of Hastings, which took place exactly fifty years later, almost to the very day. Last year I wrote about three sources for the battle in English, Latin and Old Norse, partly in an effort to suggest just how large this battle loomed in the memory of Cnut’s conquest later in his reign (those three sources were written between 5-25 years after Assandun). Today I want to do something different – where that post was nearly all words, this will be nearly all pictures.

As I’ve been working on narratives of the Danish Conquest and writing a series of posts about it (which you can find here), I’ve been getting interested in what you might call the landscape of conquest: what significance certain places might have had for the people involved in the various events of the conquest. (For a possible comparison, think how the single word ‘Hastings’ has come to stand for everything that happened at the Norman Conquest.) We don’t know whether Assandun had that kind of significance to Cnut and his followers, but there are various bits of evidence to suggest it might have done – I touched on another possible example in my post about a church in Sandwich. This train of thought has encouraged me to try and visit some of the places in question, so today, come with me on a visit to Assandun.

Actually, that’s not possible. The site of the battle of Assandun has never been conclusively identified: it’s a common placename, and there are various possible candidates. TheAnglo-Saxon Chronicle says it was in Essex, so the two most likely sites are Ashdon and Ashingdon, in the north-west and south-east of Essex respectively. Ashingdon has traditionally been the favoured candidate, but there are strong arguments for both (I personally lean towards Ashdon, for reasons I’ll only bore you with if you really want to hear them). I recently paid a flying visit to Suffolk, in the course of which I found myself not far from Ashdon, which is on the border between Suffolk and Essex. This seemed the perfect opportunity for an impromptu pilgrimage. Now, even I wouldn’t attempt to plan a pilgrimage to a completely unidentified battlefield, but there’s a more tangible relic of Assandun, more worth going in search of. In 1020, a few years after becoming king, Cnut founded a church at the site of the battle. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (D) tells us in the entry for 1020:

on þisan geare for se cyng 7 Þurkyl eorl to Assandune, 7 Wulfstan arcebiscop, 7 oðre biscopas, 7 eac abbodas 7 manege munecas, 7 gehalgodan þæt mynster æt Assandune.

[In this year the king and Earl Thorkell went to Assandun, with Archbishop Wulfstan and other bishops, and also abbots and many monks, and consecrated the church at Assandun.]

The people named in this entry indicate the importance of this church to the new Danish regime. Wulfstan is the great archbishop of York, whom we last encountered in 1014 railing against the disloyalty of English people who collaborated with the Danes; he had by this time had quite a change of heart, and become one of Cnut’s chief advisers and law-makers. (A lot can happen in six years!) Wulfstan presided at the consecration of the church at Assandun, and one of his surviving sermons, ‘On the Dedication of a Church’, may well have been preached on this occasion. The other person named by the Chronicle is Earl Thorkell, who was remembered as thehero of Assandun, and whom Cnut had recently made Earl of East Anglia. Any event which could bring these two men together must have been pretty extraordinary. We can also populate the Chronicle‘s crowd with various people likely to have been there, standing beside Cnut, Thorkell and Wulfstan: Cnut’s new wife Emma, Earl Godwine (and his new Danish wife, Gytha?), Æthelnoth (soon to be made Archbishop of Canterbury), the Norwegian earl Eiríkr, newly appointed earl of Northumbria, and more. The church was entrusted to Stigand, a priest probably of Anglo-Danish origin, who though very much a winner after the Danish Conquest was very much a loser after the Norman Conquest. With hindsight, there are many tantalising connections and ironies to be drawn out from this disparate collection of people – English, Danish, Norwegian and Norman – who were between them to shape England’s fate throughout the eleventh century: the following year Thorkell would be outlawed, three years later Wulfstan would be dead, and fifty years later the young priest Stigand would be Archbishop of Canterbury, crowning the upstart Godwine’s son King of England.

Continued at A Clerk of Oxford: A Visit to Assandun maybe.

Martin Luther Reviews Joel Osteen’s ‘Your Best Life Now’

NEO:

That about sums it up, I think.

Originally posted on Zwinglius Redivivus:

Luthers handschriftlicher Eintrag der Lebensdaten der Heiligen Elisabeth in dem Sammelband mit der Signatur 75.2 Quod.

Luthers handschriftlicher Eintrag der Lebensdaten der Heiligen Elisabeth in dem Sammelband mit der Signatur 75.2 Quod.

May God punish you, I say, you shameless, barefaced liar, devil’s mouthpiece, who dares to spit out, before God, before all the angels, before the dear sun, before all the world, your devil’s filth. You are in all you do the very opposite of Christ as befits a true Antichrist. You are the devil’s most dangerous tool! Must we believe your nightmares? We leave you to your own devices, for nothing properly suits you except hypocrisy, flattery, and lies.– Martin Luther

View original

Naught For Our Comfort

I doubt that it is news to any of you but, one of the great joys of mine in writing this blog for the last two years has been the help and friendship of Jessica, and her co-author Chalcedon. I admire them both greatly, and one of the reasons for that is that they have rekindled my love for poetry, and you have seen all of us use it to reinforce our points. It is hardly a new method but, it is one used rarely these days. I suspect because most of us are so ill-educated that we are unaware of its richness, and ability to reinforce our point.

If you read much of Lincoln’ writings and speeches, for instance, you will see it used to great effect. For instance his famous, “of the people, for the people, and by the people’ was not original, nor did he claim it was, and his listeners knew it was not. The original is this: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” it is by John Wycliffe and it is from 1384.

And so they have enriched my life, and will continue to do so, God willing, and yours as well because it is reflected in my posts for you. And so

A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.

For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.

Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.

He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.

There was not English armor left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.

It was a very bad time to be King Alfred of Wessex, and I think it holds parallels to our time as well. to continue

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

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

And here we come to my introduction to this epic by Jess, when she quoted to me on one of our political defeats

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’

Naught for your  comfort has become a catchphrase for us when things go awry, which has been often these last few years for us Americans, and for Britons as well.

We are living through a failed presidency (or at least trying to) and one of the reasons it has failed is that many of our countrymen have confused Obama with God, and I suspect he has as well. That never turns out well, and it is not here either.

I’m reminded that first class leaders hire the best men they can find to help them, and second class leaders hire third class helpers, and worst of all, third class leaders hire lackeys who will tell them what they want to hear. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But we are going to have to soldier until after the next election, and hope we find a man (not a god) to help us lead in the rebuilding western civilization, for without our leadership it will fall. It’s going to be an epically hard battle, and we could do worse than to emulate King Alfred.

But remember, we remember King Alfred because he won. Let’s finish with the rest of the poem.

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

The King looked up, and what he saw

Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

[...]

They shall not come in warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

What though they come with
scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them
That they ruin and make dark;

By all men bond to nothing
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed
Too blind to be abhorred.

By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast
of the world
And the end of the world’s desire.

By God and man dishonored
By death and life made vain
Know ye, the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again

The eternal battle against barbarism is ours to win for our generation or to lose for generations to come. It has taken us a thousand years to get where we are, and it might take longer to recover. So, Stand Fast, my friends.

Did that interest you enough to wonder about the poem and its author? I hope so. It was written by G.K. Chesterton (and its much longer than the excerpts here) it’s called The Ballad of the White Horse. You can find it at Project Gutenberg.

The way to defeat jihadis is to offer something better

Daniel Hannan has an outstanding article up on the Telegraph yesterday. He is talking about how to defeat the young Brits that wish to be jihadis. The thing is, you never defeat something with nothing, he’s right.

British history, like its niece American history, is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to individual liberty. In great measure, it is a story that is one of the most attractive in the world. But we have allowed it to be corrupted, by those who use it for  political ends, who have convinced many that Britain, and America, are evil incarnate.  We, like the Brits, have allowed this to creep in, unnoticed, over the years until this evil nonsense is what is being taught to our children as our history.

There are things in our histories that are cringeworthy, but that is true of everyone’s history. There is also the fact that of all the peoples in the world, the Anglo-Americans have done more for the individual, than anybody else.

And in a related matter, our young people are looking for something when they join the jihad, or even when they convert to Islam. I think they look for certainty, a system that knows right from wrong, good from evil. Islam is a system that is flawed of course, It reflects the flawed nature of its founder, and is easily corrupted to evil, if it is not evil in itself.

But, one knows that there is another system in the world that does the same thing, it offers a choice, and a stark one, between good and evil, but unlike Islam, it while rooted in antiquity, has grown. The wisest men of the last 2000 years have contributed to it, and enriched it.

But it, like Anglo-American history, has been greatly maligned and diluted, both from within and without. But also like our history, the record is still there, and accessible, we merely need to read, learn and share it.

A Polish friend, an MEP of my sort of age, was telling me the other day about how his life changed when Pope John Paul II toured his home country. The papal visit set in train the events that led to the Gdansk protests and, in due course, the unravelling of the tyranny. But my friend added a detail that I had never before appreciated. “The Holy Father never directly condemned the Communist authorities,” he said. “He didn’t need to. He was offering something better”.

When you put it like that, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Offer something better. It worked during the recent Scottish referendum. For months, Unionists had warned of the horrors that would follow from separation: companies leaving, markets collapsing, Scotland left without a currency. The more frenetically they warned, the further they fell behind in the polls. Only in the closing days did the “No” campaign make the positive argument it should have made all along: the UK was doing pretty darned well, Scots were prospering within it, and it was silly to discard a precious thing. That was when the polls turned.

Continue reading  The way to defeat British jihadis is to offer something better

And that is the thing that I find so frustrating, Anglo-American history is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to freedom, and its sharing all over the world. It is one of the most remarkable and uplifting stories ever writing, and written in blood by the common man.

And the other story that I referred to above is even greater, although the two are intimately entwined. Because the story of Christianity is also a story of free will, and enlightenment. It has justly been called The Greatest Story Ever Told, and it is. It the story of man’s civilization, from a violent past. Only Christianity has developed, and lived by a ‘Just War Theory’ . The rest still live by the rule of the most powerful, while we live by the ‘Rule under and through the law’ and apply y it not only to ourselves but even to those who presume to rule us.

That is what President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, and Pope (St.) John Paul II used to defeat the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union.

It is a wonderful uplifting story. Because something always defeats nothing, and humanism, and Islam, are nothing, Simply the rule of the powerful.

Be For Something, Something Good

A Miracle for a Dear Friend

mary_rosary-31

And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.

Julian of Norwich

Some of you know that Jessica has been ill. It has been held rather closely for obvious reasons but perhaps I can tell you a bit now. Jess went to the doctor early in September with what she thought was sinusitis, would that it had been. It turned out to be a very aggressive cancer. A week ago, those of us close to her were despairingly preparing to say goodbye. If you know us at all, you know that there was much prayer involved for, and by, all concerned.

But I think most of us here believe that prayer does work, and often. I have felt the effects of Jess’ prayers several times, and perhaps this time mine, and others as well, were heard. I think I can in good conscience, share a bit of what Jess wrote on her (private) blog today.

There was a moment, just over a week ago, when I thought that was it. If it was His will, then I was ready to bow to it – after all, I would be going home, and have many people there with whom I look forward to being reunited – and for my friends here, well it would be but a short while before we were united again. But, for whatever reason, God decided it was not my time, although, as the medics keep telling me, it may well be, and soon, as the cancer may return as mysteriously as it seems to have gone; bless them, you can’t expect a medic to believe in miracles.

I do believe in them, and in my case they come, at least in part, through the dedicated care of doctors and nurses – and hospital chaplains – as well as the prayers of friends and family. We are, as people, so much better than we sometimes allow ourselves to be in the press of everyday life, and during times like the one I have just been through, you see people at their best, as they set aside the ephemera of every day and focus on what we can do best when we act in the image of God – that is the giving of love and of care. As one reaches some kind of extremis time changes, it ceases to be linear. There were times when it moved swiftly, times it moved so slowly minutes seemed like days; and, in my condition, times when whole days vanished in a morphine-induced oblivion.

I believe in them as well, and believe we have witnessed one here. Because today, Jess moved to a convalescent center, without cancer. She is quite weak, she tells me, and uncertain of her future. But a week ago, we who love her had despaired of that future.

And so today I can ask you all to join me in a prayer of thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer

GOD, who art the giver of life, of health, and of safety; We bless thy Name, that thou hast been pleased to deliver from her bodily sickness Jessica, thy servant, who now desireth to return thanks unto thee, in the presence of all thy people. Gracious art thou, O Lord, and full of compassion to the children of men. May her heart be duly impressed with a sense of thy merciful goodness, and may she devote the residue of her days to an humble, holy, and obedient walking before thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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