Kipling: Norman and Saxon A.D. 1100


The Unit commented the other day that Jess’ influence on me was pretty obvious. He’s right, it is, and its all to the good, I suspect. I also notice that many of you go back into our archives to read her articles. (I do too!). I’ve decided we should share some of those articles, which are favorites of mine (and yours) once again on the front page. Enjoy! (Neo)

Of all the poets who have ever written about England and Englishness, Kipling did it best.  There are many poems one could choose to illustrate the theme that Neo and I are dealing with, but this is one of my favourites. I think it should be on the wall of Congress and Parliament:

“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will
be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little
handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice
When he stands like an ox in the furrow–with his sullen set eyes
on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your
Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole
brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained
serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise,
you  will  yield.

“But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs
and songs.
Don’t trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale
of their own wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they are saying; let them feel
that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear ’em out if it takes
you all day.

They’ll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour
of the dark.
It’s the sport not the rabbits they’re after (we’ve plenty of game
in the park).
Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers. That’s wasteful as well
as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man-
at-arms you can find.

“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and
funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you
fellows’  and  ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ’em
a lie!”

Feast Day of Our Lady of Walsingham

pic_old-mapSo, today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Walsingham. Seems strange, even to me, that a hard-headed old Protestant like me would care. Like many of you, I was raised that the veneration of Saints and such tended very close to idolatry. And it can, Martin Luther, himself, warned of it but, he also venerated Mary, the Theotokos, all his life.

In truth, many of us venerate soldiers, sports heroes, even politicians, in much the same way. In essence, it strikes me as little more than a desire to emulate an exemplary person. The Christian overlay provides an opportunity for us to ask them to intercede with God for us, is all.

But, being raised when and how I was, none of this penetrated my thick skull, and I know I was hardly alone. But if we are wise we learn, and we grow as we age. At least for me this is true.

I was introduced to Our Lady of Walsingham by my coauthor, Jess, not long after we met, she made the pilgrimage to Walsingham a few years ago, not long after we were brought together.

With my love of history, I was fascinated by the history and have written some about it, as has Jess. But that is not the point, today, while she was there, she lit a candle and prayed for me (yes, I know, not the kind of thing we Lutherans, or in truth most Anglicans) do. The thing is, I felt a peace go through me at almost the moment she lit it, and sundry other effects as well.

Today, Jess’ coauthor on her blog is commemorating Jess’ writing on Walsingham (in truth, so am I), with a repeat of her first post on her pilgrimage to Walsingham a few years ago, and links to the rest. We both think it a fine occasion to acquaint some of you newer friends with her writing, and it’s power. The story moved us then, and it moves us now. Jess has a knack for persuasive writing, in truth much of the basis of our friendship, and yes love, will be found in the series of posts, he links. It’s called Our Lady of Walsingham, so go there already, I’ll wait.

It fired our friendship, and it especially did so in three areas, our love of God, a shared passion for history, and my renewed love of poetry. How can one not be moved by Eliot’s

And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

For here, at Walsingham is one of the places they are made very true.

Jess also tells us about the sprinkling service, and how moved she was, and I’ll add how moved I was by her telling of it. And now I will also always remember that shortly before she received last rites last fall, before her miracle cure, she was again sprinkled with Walsingham water.

There may be other explanations, I suppose, but I haven’t stumbled across them, and it is from that moment that she became my dearest friend, a moment shared across the ocean and half a continent. There are more chapters to tell of this story, but not today, they will have to wait.

An interesting note is that the first Roman Catholic service at the shrine since the Reformation was performed by US Military personnel on 17 may 1945, just after VE day. They certainly had something to commemorate.

But in general, as Jess has always said, as you draw closer to Christ, His Mother has a very great appeal, and why wouldn’t She.

In truth, I think there is definitely simply Something about Maryas the linked article will tell you.

Although not really linked in history, this was the period when we adopted some of Julian of Norwich’s words as related by Eliot as a catchphrase, for me, for Jess, and for our blogs, and our lives:

WhOur_Lady_of_Walsinghamatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us – a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.

Today is the day that I will merely note and ask Our Lady of Walsingham to continue to watch over us, and those we love.

O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus, your divine son, dying on the cross, confided us to your maternal care. You are our mother, we desire ever to remain your devout children. let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ. make your name again glorious in the shrine once renowned throughout England by your visits, favours, and many miracles.

Pray, O holy mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.

O blessed Mary, mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us.

“There Are Only Two Conceptions of Human Ethics” | Strange Herring

1346040046573-cachedBusiness as usual, sadly.

I am rereading Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler’s masterwork limning the psychology of Soviet totalitarianism, and realized you can justify anything if you believe you are on the right side of History. Kill babies, sell off the parts, then lie about it? That’s amateur night.

Here is a portion of the classic colloquy between Ivanov, a veteran of the civil war and an Old Bolshevik, and Rubashov, legendary former member of the Central Committee, erstwhile Commissar of the People, about to be purged for his sentimental ideas about the brutal tactics employed by the Revolution.

Ivanov: “There are only two conceptions of human ethics, and they are at opposite poles. One of them is Christian and humane, declares the individual to be sacrosanct, and asserts that the rules of arithmetic are not to be applied to human units. The other starts from the basic principle that a collective aim justifies all means, and not only allows, but demands, that the individual should in every way be subordinated and sacrificed to the community—which may dispose of it as an experimentation rabbit or a sacrificial lamb. The first conception could be called anti-vivisection morality, the second, vivisection morality.

Source: “There Are Only Two Conceptions of Human Ethics” | Strange Herring

What English Catholicism will look like in 2115

Distribution of English Recusant Catholics, 17...

Distribution of English Recusant Catholics, 1715-1720. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is pretty interesting, and while it specifically talks about England, it perhaps has wider application.

A century from now Catholics are likely to be the country’s largest Christian body. But the priesthood, the Mass and the laity may look startlingly different to today

An English Catholic in 1615 lived an entirely different life from one in the early 1700s, 1800s, 1900s or 2000s. The changing backdrops of the Elizabethan persecutions, the Jacobite revolutions, the legalisation of Catholicism, the First World War and modern secularisation gave each of them historically distinct experiences. By 2115, the life of an English Catholic will be different again.

Some of the following predictions are guaranteed to be wrong. Casting the runes of the future is an imprecise art. However, the broad themes of the next 100 years are already taking shape.

The first is the de-Christianising of England, where the number of Christians is dropping. This affects the Catholic Church as it does the others, yet not all are falling at the same rate. The most acute crisis is in the Church of England, where recent independent statistics show membership fell from 40 per cent of the population in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2014, a drop of 58 per cent.

Source: » What English Catholicism will look like in 2115

I doubt anything will be as he says, actually. The West is far too dynamic to be predicted a hundred years out, in any detail at all. Could anyone have predicted the world of 1915 in 1815? Or today’s world in 1915? It’s beyond the realm of possibility, I think. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about the actions we take in terms of the future, but we shouldn’t think we can see clearly through this very dark glass either. Because there is something out there, today, as radical as the cotton gin, or the telegraph, or the internet, which will again change the world, in ways we cannot predict, and that likely will happen many times in the next century.

May you live in interesting times, indeed.

COCKROACHES: from juwannadoright

Margaret Sanger Deutsch: Margaret Sanger (* 1879)

Margaret Sanger Deutsch: Margaret Sanger (* 1879) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is very little to add to what my friend says here, so I’ll forbear.


In addition to his [Mengele’s] job of sorting out those who would live and those who would die, Mengele performed hundreds of experiments on prisoners which were performed without concern either for the pain or safety of his victims.  He was particularly interested in identical twins, dwarves and those with physical anomalies.  Part of the motivation behind Mengele’s research was impelled by Hitler’s belief that the world’sGerminization was the ultimate goal and led him further into exploring the potential that eugenics might bring.

Eugenics – The study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by people having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits.

If Mengele’s view of the world and the importance of eugenics in “purifying” the race is frightening to you, the following quotes will certainly reinforce your beliefs.

“While I personally believe in the sterilization of the feeble-minded, the insane and syphilitic, I have not been able to discover that these measures are more than superficial deterrents when applied to the constantly growing stream of the unfit. They are excellent means of meeting a certain phase of the situation, but I believe in regard to these, as in regard to other eugenic means, that they do not go to the bottom of the matter.”

“By all means, there should be no children when either mother or father suffers from such diseases as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, syphilis, cancer, epilepsy, insanity, drunkenness and mental disorders. In the case of the mother, heart disease, kidney trouble and pelvic deformities are also a serious bar to childbearing No more children should be born when the parents, though healthy themselves, find that their children are physically or mentally defective.”

“The main objects of the Population Congress would be to apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring; to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization.”

Given Mengele’s dedication to the Third Reich and to eugenics, it is not surprising that he would make these sorts of statements.  But he didn’t.  Those quotes are from the mouth of Margaret Sanger, the American who founded Planned Parenthood.

Given Sanger’s extreme racist views it is not a surprise that Planned Parenthood has placed three quarters of its facilities either in or within walking distance of black and Hispanic neighborhoods.  From her writings Sanger makes it perfectly clear that she thinks of non-whites as inherently inferior.

Source: COCKROACHES | juwannadoright

Now, I’ll add this, at least Margeret Sanger was honest in her beliefs and goals, that is far more than can be said of her followers today.

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Why I became a Catholic: Tim Stanley

tumblr_m2qaxvmgvF1rpyyq4o1_500This is interesting, not least to me as it casts some light on my journey as well.

But I think it applies well beyond how we find ourselves in one or another church. I think it speaks much to how we have all searched to find structure in our lives, both in Christianity and in our lives in general.


Ten years ago this month, I became a Catholic. It happened in the attic of the guest house at Ealing Abbey. There was just me, a friend and a monk, and the operation took about an hour. Afterwards we went for cocktails. I started things as I meant to go on.

I guess the two big questions to ask a convert are: why did you do it and are you happy? Answering the first point is hard. It’s like asking a man why he married a woman. There’s a temptation to invent a narrative – to say, “this happened, that happened and before we knew it we were where we are today”. But the simpler, yet more complex, answer is this: I fell in love.

I was lucky to grow up in a household open to religious belief. My grandparents were Christian spiritualists; Grandma advertised as a clairvoyant. Mum and Dad became Baptists in the 1990s. I remember the pastor one Sunday telling us that evolution was gobbledygook. The teenager in me came to regard the faithful as fools, but I was wrong. I couldn’t see that they were literate, inquisitive, musically gifted and the kindest people you’d ever meet. But I went my own way and embraced Marxism.

By the time I arrived at Cambridge University I was a hard-left Labour activist and a militant atheist. I saw life as a struggle. Salvation could only come through class revolution. The life of the individual was unimportant. Mine was unhappy. Very unhappy. I disliked myself and, as is so common, projected that on to a dislike of others. I’m ashamed now to think of how rude and mean I was. Perhaps I was ashamed then, too, because I had fantasies of obliterating myself from history.

History was my redemption. In my second year I studied the Civil War. I discovered a world more colourful and distinct than today’s. A world of faith; of saints and martyrs. My Marxist sympathy was for the Protestant Diggers but I was intrigued by Archbishop William Laud and his fight to restore the sacramental dignity to the Anglican Church. For some reason I started to visit far-flung churches in Kent. I’d get up at 6am and cycle to a Sunday early morning service at Seal village. It calmed my soul.

I suddenly felt a great need to reconcile myself to something. Because Anglicanism was the only thing on offer at Cambridge (the Catholic chaplaincy felt like an Irish embassy), I asked to be baptised into the Church of England. Anglo-Catholicism was the closest I could get to Laud’s vision of majesty incarnate. But it wasn’t enough. Although I had made tremendous progress, something inside me said that I hadn’t yet reached my destination. Something was missing. Prayer revealed it to be the Catholic Church – the alpha, the rock, the bride of Christianity. I converted quietly in 2005 without letting many others know, including my family. It was like running away to Gretna Green to get married in secret.

Of course, the narrative I’ve given could be something I’ve constructed in hindsight. The journey was never straightforward; there were false starts and I often got lost. I remain uncertain of exactly why I converted at all. But I know I was absolutely right to.

Read it all at » Why I became a Catholic.

Is my story different? Sure! My dad was pretty darn conservative, but a New-Dealer and proud of it. and so I became a Goldwater conservative, not so much a rebellion (at least in my mind) as a way to rationalize my belief structure, and in truth the part of the New Deal he believed in most was a pretty conservative program by later standards.

And I wonder, and always will, if we had lived through those years, if we wouldn’t have been New Dealers as well, there was a lot wrong, I don’t think FDR had the right answers but he may well have asked some of the right questions.


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