All Manner of Things Shall be Well.

So what to talk about, I’ve read the horror stories, of local officials and even judges, gone full totalitarian, but I’d be surprised if you haven’t too, and it’s really up to those people’s voters to redress the problem. I hope they do, relentlessly. Americans have never shown much tolerance for totalitarian behavior, it’s one of the things that makes us different, and why we lead the (more or less) free world. But I’ve little to add to what has been written.

But we are far enough through this to raise our heads a bit and look around. We, the peoples who seventy-five years ago tonight, defeated Nazi Germany (and soon Imperial Japan). We, the English speaking peoples did that, almost alone. Remember at Argentia Bay in 1941 when Churchill and Roosevelt met, the United States had just passed the draft (by one vote). And almost alone in the world, the Anglosphere was actually free, Four years later we were victorious all around the world.

Now we cower at the flu. How’d that happen? The best way to understand the future is to study the past. So let’s do so.

While reflecting on our plight in the current pandemic, CNN’s Brian Stelter recently lamented, “We’ve never lived through something quite like this. We have nothing to compare this with!” It is true; we have never lived through a pandemic like this, but others have.

He’s right, of course, but the reason we don’t hear much about them is that we marched on. We’ve had many opportunities to curl up in a ball and give up. What we are today is the result of that ferocious will to life and liberty, but we’ve watered it down, because of an easy life, I suspect.

I wonder what our medieval predecessors would think of our societal reaction to this virus. In short, they would marvel at our fear and melancholy.

There Are Things Worse than Physical Death

Imagine how a premodern person might judge this reaction. We have shut down life. We reassert our faith in “science” and big government at every turn. We saddle our children with even more crippling debt. We forbid church but keep the marijuana flowing. We release criminals but threaten or actually arrest people for enjoying the outdoors. The health crisis is not unprecedented; our reaction to it is. Others have lived through health crises much worse. How did they respond?

One example of the typical medieval approach is the Venerable Bede (circa 673–735) in his “Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.” As a matter of course, Bede recounts a few destructive famines and plagues. He mentions a “bitter plague” in the fifth century that killed so many people so quickly, there weren’t enough survivors to bury all the dead.

Another terrible plague came to England in 664. It began in the south and worked its way north through Scotland and then over to Ireland. It broke out sporadically over the next 25 years and, according to Bede, swept away a “great multitude” of people.

The disease struck young and old alike. Bede tells of a 3-year-old boy who died and another “little boy” of uncertain age who succumbed. Monks and nuns in the monasteries were dying daily. When he was about 13 years old, Bede survived an outbreak in the Jarrow monastery. He and the abbot were the only survivors in the monastery who could still recite the psalms antiphonally and keep the daily prayers going.

Bede’s main historical interest in the plague is not to give a physical or scientific description of how the victims died, although he details a few of the symptoms. He focuses instead on their emotional and spiritual state. In sum, they died with great courage. The slow, agonizing death afforded an opportunity for reflection, repentance, and consideration of what is most important in life and in death. This is what premodern Christians called “the art of dying.” It is now a lost art in a culture that seeks to repress the inevitability of death at all costs.

Yes, the fear of death was real back then, too. The extent of the plague’s devastation tempted some of the new Christians to return to paganism in their desperate search for relief. But Bede’s eyewitness account is dominated not by fear but by courage. Bede and his contemporaries knew there are things worse than physical death, which is why their fear was not paralyzing.

In addition to the courage displayed in the face of a plague, another striking characteristic of Bede’s narrative is the overall attitude of joy. Right in the middle of what some persist in calling the “Dark Ages,” Bede reports that five years into this unfortunate epidemic was also a time of peace and increased learning. He claims there was never a time “more happy” since the Angles had arrived in Britain.

It wasn’t that life was easy. Their great joy was the result of a trust in something more powerful and enduring than the disaster of the moment and the temporality of human life.

And the patron saint of historians is not deceiving us, this was the time of the great flowering of Anglos-Saxon Christianity, which overcame all, even the pagan Danish hordes.

As Boethius observed from prison, his good fortune had spoiled him. It has done the same to us, leaving us woefully unprepared to confront challenges that should be familiar to the human race. Fortune has turned, and only slightly so far, but enough to expose our emotional and spiritual fragility in the face of adversity.

We should hear the wake-up call to steel ourselves, individually and corporately, for what may be harder times to come. What’s more, perhaps we need to reclaim a more stirring vision of ultimate reality, one that will inspire more courage and joy for facing the present crisis.

Read the whole post here, it’s well worth your time: Our Ancestors Would Be Amazed At Our Cowardly Coronavirus Hysteria.

The linked author is entirely correct, of course, this is what comes of putting our selves in God’s place. Yesterday, the Midweek Hymn at The Conservative Woman ( which you should be reading) was: Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus. Its back story is an example of the art of dying as well, but this is a hymn (and a quick march) of the Church Triumphant. I remember it well from my younger days. Now it has fallen into disuse, and the Church is hardly triumphant any more either, much of it lying prostrate at the feet of secular culture, and the reaction to Chines Bat Flu is the result.

We Americans, like our British cousins, have had our dark days, when all seemed lost, Valley Forge comes to mind, marching barefoot, if not quite naked, in the snow, with a smallpox epidemic raging through camp, while they starved, and most of the enlistments due to expire, is about as bad as it gets, but those men kept the faith, and mind all the constituent parts of the British have faced equal trials and won through to the quite incredible world we live in today.

When things get bad, and no one is going to gainsay they are bad now, maybe not as bad as that winter at Valley Forge, but bad, it’s time to get moving. I’ve often thought that the name Valley Forge was entirely appropriate for in that valley was forged a new nation, one that would look much like its motherland, and so, like her, come to lead the world.

But we imported other things too, like a soldier from Cornwall, who would lead the 7th Cavalry at the first of Ia Drang, singing an old Welsh song in a kind of counterpoint to the 7th Cav’s Irish march. He would do so again on 9/11, as he saved almost all of the people, he himself being one of the exceptions of his company, for he was last seen going up the staircase, as is our wont. This is what he was singing.

Let us go, and do likewise

Always remember with Mother Julian of Norwich that:

He said not ‘Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased’; but He said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.

About Neo
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

13 Responses to All Manner of Things Shall be Well.

  1. audremyers says:

    Golly, Neo. When you let yourself go, you can write with the best of them.

    This article was uplifting, which surprised me, because it is ostensibly about caving to fear. And that we shouldn’t. Maybe that’s the uplifting part.

    I, myself, can not quite come to terms with this thing – the you-know-what and how we’ve reacted. I can see many sides but I can’t find one that I can call the right side. Awhile back we wrote about preppers not being crazy after all and we read ad nauseum of things done wrong (because, after all, bad news sells papers – or news networks). In the article, it mentions all the diseases and pandemics and Valley Forge and I think about the smog that killed thousands in England in 1952 and any number of hurricanes that damaged homes, businesses, and lives.

    I suspect that we won’t really be able to evaluate this ‘event’ until it’s all over and smoke has cleared. Which, I also suspect, will take a good long time – especially to get the perspective right.

    Liked by 2 people

    • NEO says:

      Good, it was meant to be and I needed it too. In many ways it comes down to, “It’s darkest before the dawn” an almost cliched saying but one that is quite true.

      Yep, the saying is, “If it bleeds, it leads”, and it’s valid, for valid reasons. I think part of the trouble is the 24 hour news cycle, when we used to get an hour total per day, they couldn’t overload us so badly.

      We’re all in a sort of funk, it seems

      It’ll take probably a full generation to make sense of it.


    • the unit says:

      Right perspective… expected by whomever in charge, we’ll have eclipsed memories.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Scoop says:

      I think we can . . . if you pay attention to what is being removed by Google, Yahoo and the rest of the elitists . . . how about this one for instance:

      Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    Funny how, I at least, came somehow to understand what different meanings many English words have.
    Read. Read. Don’t need to list them all, and really can’t recall them all. There are websites that lists some I hadn’t even thought about.
    So dress even.
    Down here at a saltwater fish market (wherever and whichever) one decides whether to buy his/her/whatever chosen order of fish “dressed” or “undressed”.
    Anyway maybe a redressed politician can come dressed or undressed, or even rotted from the head first. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    I’ve chosen my Holiday Season Door Wreath. 🙂 /sar
    Best color I’ve seen on the web of this virus. What creativity!
    Hans Christian Gram might be pleased and delighted, or rolling over in it…what’s left of it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. the unit says:

    Gosh, just came in an showered after quite a bit of yard work, trimming trees and such.
    Read suggestions on how to keep from being bored while home bound.
    This one looks good, or sounded good. 🙂
    No mask required Ke-mo-sah-bee.
    Oh, it’s on Fox if anyone wants to read the suggestions. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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