Men of Freedom

A man I respect, and not only for his angry Lesbian squirrels destroying the world with Abba songs, The Adaptive Curmudgeon has some thoughts. They end up with the words of Marcus Aurelius:

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

That’s good thinking for the times we live in as it was for him. AC says this:

Today, the people who “won” are acting like losers. They remain locked on a goal they chose over four years ago. Can they do nothing more? Impeachment before swearing in, impeachment during office, impeachment after. Is it sane to impeach an election’s loser when the man who earned more votes than any other candidate in history is comfortably in power? Quick, look up. What color is the sky?

We are told we have steady, rational, logical, strong, caring “leaders”. They don’t act like that. They cower like scared children; wrapping faces with fabric and circling buildings with chain link fence. Those of us who breathe free and speak our minds are “subversives”. They speak of hunting us down. Do they fear we’ll look at the sky and declare it the wrong color?

Do winners destroy any with whom they disagree? Is that rational “leadership”? Even kings and popes have detractors… Stalin and Mao had only corpses.

Yep, that’s spot on. So is this

There is madness everywhere. It is the true contagion of our times.

Madness is a fact of the time in which we live. None of us escape unharmed. Yet gloom is not mandatory. There is hope. Even as witch burners stack fuel and media soaked bots dream of guillotines, there is hope. There is always hope.

Time does not go in reverse. There is only forward. In a time of madness, as each day follows day; each stampede follows another panic. Hang on and hope. Aspire to still be standing when the pendulum swings back.

And that is why I keep telling you to “Keep the faith and Hold the line”. This too shall pass.


But I promised you men of freedom (besides AC and myself). Here are two.

God’s Honor; Archbishop St Thomas Becket

Becket was a middle-class Londoner, eager to advance while keeping his moral integrity. Becket’s meteoric rise brought him to prominence as Chancellor to the King of England. But it would be as Archbishop of Canterbury where his institutional responsibilities forced his divided heart to resolve stark, moral choices.

Becket’s rise occurred when a new understanding of a truly good, well-ordered society took shape. This “Gregorian Revolution”—named for the Pope who wrote it into the Catholic Church’s laws—saw the good society as preserving space for individual freedom and religious duties, which were considered intertwined and safeguarded by the church’s freedom from governmental influence. As Archbishop, Becket was forced to contend with Henry II’s claims of royal control over all church functions. Gregorian principles converted Becket’s heart and thereby transformed the church’s freedom. Becket grasped that sustaining his church’s institutional freedom was predicated on becoming personally free from self-interested ambition, honoring God first. Becket’s conversion cost him his life.

As Archbishop, Becket was forced to answer a perennial question: Whose will can be legitimate law? God’s or man’s? Becket answered that question in a manner that American constitutionalism would later reflect. Both considered man’s will, and thus potential tyrants, to be subordinated by objective, moral order—what Becket called “God’s honor.” If we 21st century Americans still agree, then this requires what it required in Becket’s day: moral formation. Ensuring that formation depends, in turn, upon preserving the autonomy of religious institutions to provide it.

Freedom for God’s Honor

Becket’s martyrdom followed decades-long attempts by his longtime benefactor, Henry II, to impose what Henry called the “ancestral customs” of royal control over all church functions. Their dispute is part of what legal historian Harold Berman called “[t]he first of the great revolutions in Western history,” whereby a separate sphere of authority for religious institutions was guaranteed from state control. This marked shift is essential to truly understand Becket’s views and their enduring influence.

This is from a fairly long article by William J. Haun in Law and Liberty. In it, and I urge you to read it, because no excerpt does it justice, you will see the foundations of the freedom Americans enjoy and the roots of the separation of Church and State. And yes, those roots are in Pope Gregory VII’s Catholic Church (his papacy lasted from 1073-1085)


Secretary for America

[…] As Secretary of State, Shultz understood that the word of the United States meant something. He initially resisted pulling U.S. troops out of Lebanon after the Hezbollah terrorist bombing that killed 241 Americans—including 220 Marines—in Beirut. “If we are driven out of Lebanon,” he said, “the message will be sent that relying on the Soviet Union pays off and that relying on the United States is fatal.” But he also recognized that Reagan had already established that his word was reliable. In 1981, Reagan fired 11,000 air-traffic controllers who were striking in violation of their contract. The pressure on Reagan during this key moment early in his presidency was intense, but Reagan did not back down. Shultz called it Reagan’s most important foreign policy decision—the Soviets were watching, and the move gave Moscow a measure of the new president.

The State Department was also the source of the most legendary George Shultz story. Shultz would call all newly minted advisers up to his office before sending them off on their new postings. He would walk the ambassadors over to the globe he had in his office, and tell them, “I’m going to spin the globe and I want you to put your hand on your country.” After each ambassador earnestly pointed to the country to which he or she was headed, Shultz would correct them, explaining that their country was the United States of America.

As so often, not a particularly short article, but one with meaning we need to learn and apply, and so you should read it all. It’s by Tevi Troy writing in City Journal. He ends this way, and it says all that is necessary.

Freedom was a priority for Shultz. He pressed hard for the release of Soviet “refuseniks,” Jews who wanted to leave the repression of the Soviet Union for the freedom of life in Israel. He called the moment when refusenik Ida Nudel called him and said, “This is Ida Nudel. I’m in Jerusalem,” one of the most moving he had had as Secretary of State. But Shultz’s long tenure serving the nation gave him many such moments to choose from. He was not just a former cabinet secretary. He was a Secretary for America.

New Years Eve – Finally

Is there anyone in the Anglo-American world who hasn’t had their fill (and much more) of 2020? Well, kids, it looks like we’re gonna make it. Not that anything is solved really, the pols are still trying to remove our freedom using Wuhan Flu as their excuse, Boris still hasn’t a clue as to what Churchill was really about, in truth he’s a poseur, and here in America not least because our judges are cowards, it increasingly looks like we have the illegitimate Biden regime to look forward to. No good prospects in sight.

But it isn’t 1941 yet when FDR and Churchill met at Argentia Bay the free people of the world all spoke English, and Uncle Sam was just starting to get over being Rip van Winkle with his 20-year nap.

That’s not so true now, the American people sound increasingly like it’s either 1859 or maybe and more accurately 1774. Well, even a British education can’t hide what happened next and from what I’m reading the British are also starting to wake up. Even more, than us, they have a dearth of leadership. President Trump issued a proclamation honoring St Thomas Becket on the 850th anniversary of his martyrdom in Canterbury Cathedral, last Monday. St Thomas, he referred to as “a Lion of religious Liberty” and the proclamation states this…

The president’s proclamation heralds Becket as the precursor to “numerous constitutional limitations on the power of the state over the Church across the West,” particularly the Magna Carta, which declared that “[T]he English church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired.”

“It is because of great men like Thomas Becket that the first American President George Washington could proclaim more than 600 years later that, in the United States, ‘All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship’ and that ‘it is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights,’” the proclamation said.

That is important for us, and it is important for the British to realize that we honor their pioneering efforts in making men free, all that America is was built on English foundations, that still hold.

But for the first time since 2016, this blog is not all Neo, thankfully. My two main contributors, gingers both (go figure) have much to do with what we do here, like our new fiction category which was Audre’s idea, strongly supported by Jessica.

If you’ve been here long, you’ll realize that Jess is my dearest friend, and here she tells a bit about that came to be. here’s Jess

Neo asked me to say something about how it feels to be back blogging, so here goes.

I started my own blog back in 2012, and met Neo soon after, as fellow start-ups we got along more than just fine. In November 2012 I began writing here, partly as a filler for Neo’s absence over the holiday season. The fun came to an end round Easter 2016 when I got seriously ill. Neo was sweet and kind enough not only to keep me in his prayers, but to re-publish a few pieces, but I suspect that like me, he never expected to see me back here again – and yet he kept the faith, which is, as regulars will know, just what the man does – and then in October this year, I was well enough to come back. Since then I have been publishing mainly fiction here, and much enjoying it.

Has this place changed? Sure, we all change. There are some new (to me) readers, who have been kind enough to comment, and there is my co-blogger, Audre, who always adds a note of common sense and quiet humour. I have never been particularly political, and don’t feel I have a political home. What I do enjoy, is good company, which I get here, and good writing, ditto. I think you are all terribly sweet to put up with this Anglo-Welsh changeling who inflicts her stories on you. I love writing my Gospel stories from the female point of view, and for those of you still awake, there’s a length to run yet on my “Rowan” saga, as well as on my imagining on Mary Magdalen.

Above all though, it’s fun to be back here and with you all – and let’s hope for a better 2021 for us all!

She’s right, I kept the faith, well mostly, it began to waver a bit here and there as despair began to sneak in. I’m told that seeing Audre’s posts both here and on Jess’ AATW encouraged her to come back first there and then here. My word how I missed her, her blog posts yes, but even more her steady friendship and love, and some fine advice as well.

We have spoken of Audre, and I asked her for her thoughts as well, and they make an excellent end to this post because they are true for all of us. And I think we all want to thank you gluttons for punishment who read here, we admire your fortitude, if not always your sense. Here’s Audre…

What a flippin’ year it’s been. And yet – how wonderfully amazing.

I was generously given a little patch of land to do with as I saw fit. The surprise of the offer set me back and I had to think about it awhile but in the end, I accepted it with both joy and trepidation. I’ve never had a little patch of land before and wanted it to be sprinkled with wild flowers and decorative boulders and a little river running through it. That’s what I’ve tried to create.

My little patch of land is the space Neo offered to me. I’ve never done a blog before. And – Neo casts a mighty big shadow; following in his footsteps is daunting but in the end, I can only be me and he’s never once complained. Grimaced once in awhile I suspect but he gave me free range and now it seems as natural to me as brushing my teeth. I’m retired; I don’t do ‘deadlines’ anymore – but I find that there’s no shortage of things to consider and I actually get ahead in pieces to be published.

As you have walked by and stopped to look at my little patch of land, you smiled, or laughed, or rolled your eyes (probably mostly rolled your eyes) but in your kindness you watered the flowers, added your own decorations, and greatly improved the content of the little patch of land.

Many thanks to Neo, and to you, for your fortitude and forgiveness. It’s been a great 10 months of writing and of reading your comments.

Happy New Year (finally) from all of us at NEO

 

The Thomas Court is Coming

The first thing I want to do today is to welcome back my former (and future?) cooblogger Jessica Hoff back to her first current affairs post in a bit more than four years. I have missed her sense, her humor (or is that humour), her British take on American affairs, and her ability to read my mind. Welcome back, dearest friend 🙂 xxx

With her remarks last night after taking the oath as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett gave us a master class on what a US judge is supposed to be, here it is:

This, like the entire speech, is both remarkable and heartening.

I have spent a good amount of time over the last month at the Senate; both in meetings with individual senators and in days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The confirmation process has made ever-clearer to me one of the fundamental differences between the federal judiciary and the United States Senate, and perhaps the most acute is the role of policy preferences. It is the job of a senator to pursue her policy preferences; in fact, it would be a dereliction of duty to put policy goals aside.

By contrast, it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences.  It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give in to them. Federal judges don’t stand for election, thus they have no basis for claiming that their preferences reflect those of the people. This separation of duty from political preference is what makes the judiciary distinct among the three branches of government. A judge declares independence not only from Congress and the president, but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her. The judicial oath captures the essence of the judicial duty; the rule of law must always control.

That is exactly like the founder’s intended. As for her personally, I like the way Jessica put it this morning.

Amy Coney Barrett did it without sacrificing her womanhood. She did not do what so many career women have had to do, which is to choose a predominantly male way (job first) over her kids. Not only did she adopt two black orphans, she has a Downes syndrome child whom she chose not to abort. What’s not to like? You’d have thought that feminists everywhere would be throwing their bras over the windmill (no, don’t go there, a lady never tells), so why the hoo-hah? It’s that last bit. She didn’t have an abortion. Not only that, she is an actual practising Catholic, not a Pelsoian/Biden Catholic (that is one who wants the vote but not the faith).

Well, except that I doubt Justice Barrett, or Jess for that matter, is any sort of feminist that we see in the 21st Century. Neither of them either needed or wanted anything other than a chance to let their light shine. I’m quite sure that either of them is quite content to be rewarded for what they do, not because they are women, but because they are the best at what they do. And that is at it should be

It was fascinating that Justice Thomas swore her in, for at least two reasons

First, he is the very man that Joe Biden when he was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee attempted to, in Justice Thomas’sown words, to lynch in the hearings. To see him sweary in Ms. Coney oh Hillary’s birthday had to hurt.

When President Bush nominated Justice Thomas, he called him the most qualified for the job, The left loudly dissented. But as The Daily Signal says:

Bush was right. Thomas was the best qualified, because he was a fiercely independent thinker with an unwavering commitment to decide cases based on what the Constitution said, not what he or the public wanted in the moment. Bush knew that Thomas had these qualities because he had watched Thomas go through fire during the Reagan administration.

As a black conservative intellectual, Thomas has been an existential threat to the liberal ruling class since he joined the Reagan administration in May 1981. As chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Thomas earned the very public enmity of the civil rights establishment for opposing quotas and racial preferences.

On the court, Thomas is an originalist, a justice who believes that the Constitution’s provisions must be interpreted consistent with the original meaning when they were ratified. Liberals do not believe a black man can legitimately hold these views.

In his 29 years on the court, Thomas, even more than Justice Scalia, has written the originalist canon. Some 700 opinions, combined with a willingness to revisit precedent when necessary. This makes a generational change in the court, at least as long as we hold the Presidency and/or the Senate.

Imagine that, judges who rule based on the law, not politics or whatever they think might work. It’s not a new day exactly though. This is exactly what the Federal courts were from the beginning until they lost their nerve at Franklin Roosevelt’s threat to pack the court.

If they do little but force Congress to again legislate, we will start to improve.

 

Vote next Tuesday, for America

Sunday Funnies; 1st Debate

An Update. Outside Walter Reed Army Hospital last night.

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And so, Debate (sort of).

Teri Hatcher reminds us

Irony Alert

So that’s my problem, I thought I was supposed to tell her how pretty she is. Heavens, how stupid of me!

 

And, of course

Full tilt Bozo

Or, that’s what I thought anyway. I suspected that the Democrats would load up, rifles and hip waders, to question Judge Barrett. Instead, what we’re seeing now was once modeled by Jesus. Tis a strange year, 2020.

The Democrats can not come against Judge Barrett because she’s 1. a woman 2. a mother and 3. has two adopted black children. If they say anything against her, they are going to offend even their own constituents. How can they hate her (oh, sorry, Pelosi said she doesn’t hate anyone) for being a practicing Roman Catholic? Pelosi herself is “Roman Catholic”, as is Joe Biden (he tells us). I suspect the difference is Barrett is devout and the others are Chrinos, or RoCainos (either Christian in name only or Roman Catholic in name only). If they come out against her, they will be lifted by their own petard.

So – the Jewish religious leaders and followers were questioning Jesus. As usual. They asked some question and Jesus said, “Before I answer, let me ask you a question: the baptism by John – was it of man or was it of God. The leaders talked among themselves and decided they were in a no-win situation. If they said ‘of man’, the crowd would riot and if they said of God, they would be supporting Jesus. No win scenario. (Jessica has an excellent post on All Along the Watchtower in regard to this conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders – wander over and give it a read!)

And that’s where the Democrats find themselves now. If they say she’s no good, they will prove they do not support women (of course we know they only support ‘certain women’), if they say she’s ok, then they will be seen as supporting President Trump’s decision (shock and horror!!!) No win scenario. They know it. The stance they are taking is that they will not ‘legitimize’ the process. When did they ever? Be that as it may, it’s a long time between now and confirmation for Judge Barrett. I feel badly for her family and I have to admire her – takes a lot of guts to stand up before the Democrats. I understand kevlar helps.

Pretty clever, that Jesus guy. He was in no way full tilt Bozo.

 

Young People, TLM, the Dowry of Mary, and America’s Patron Saint

Long ago, the people at Catholicism Pure and Simple became friends and allies of mine. We each recognize that our essentials and druthers may be a bit different, but that our roads meet at the foot of the Cross. Sunday they posted an article on how the traditional Latin Mass is gaining much support amongst young people I’m not surprised but I am pleased.

The loss of young people is a problem for all of our churches, not just the Catholic Church, It’s true in my Lutheran Church, it’s true in the Anglican churches. But for us too, the more traditional the service (and historic Lutheran Services reach back to the Rev Dr Luther himself, while traditional Anglican services are based on Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer, both of which are contemporaries of the Tridentine Mass) the better young people receive them. CP&S has a video of some of what young people are saying.

 

Adding weight to that, a young London based female Journalist, Enza Ferrari, whom I have been reading for a long time, adds weight to what those young people are saying, when she says…

During the Easter Triduum I repeated that experience several times, always choosing the Ancient Rite, except once, when by mistake I watched a video of the New Mass. The close sequence of the two with a distance of a few hours between them gave me an opportunity to compare the two liturgical experiences in a way that I’d never come across before.
And I saw differences that had previously escaped me.
It’s two entirely diverse experiences.
They were both from churches in Italy, the Latin Mass from the Church of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, Rome (pictured above).
One, the Tridentine Mass, worships God and the other celebrates man, reflecting the analogous change in outlook brought by Vatican II Council.
The former brings you closer to the spiritual realm.
I’m not the only one to have noticed this peculiar gift that, in all the mayhem and panic, the Covid-19 quarantine has given us. I’ve discovered that Catholic writer and philosopher Peter Kwasniewski has also published two articles about it.
The celebrant’s ad populum orientation towards the people, which may seem a way to bring everyone together as a community and increase the participation of the faithful, is not the right thing for a Mass, where priest and congregation should not look at each other and focus on one another as if it were an assembly or meeting, but instead both should look at and focus on God.
Keep reading, there is quite a lot more, and if you are a traditional Christian (not only the Catholics among us) I think you’ll find it making a lot of sense.
In related news, The Catholic Herald tells us that The Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham reports that it is probably having the largest Pilgrimage season ever, since the government forced it to close its doors during the (still continuing) lockdown.

But rather than seeing this as a disaster, shrine rector Mgr John Armitage regarded it as an opportunity. England’s national Marian shrine had already built up a following with its livestreamed Masses. Armitage decided that it would now livestream 24 hours a day, with the help of a sturdy internet connection provided by EWTN.

He devised a programme that begins with morning prayer, followed by Mass, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a talk on faith, the rosary, the Angelus and another Mass. And that’s just the morning.

In the afternoon, there’s the Divine Mercy chaplet, the rosary, more Exposition, Benediction, the Angelus and Vespers, followed by all-night adoration.

“We’ve probably had the biggest pilgrimage season so far in the history of Walsingham because we’ve had thousands upon thousands of people every day joining us for our program,” Armitage told CNA.

Saying that he now felt like “the abbot of a monastery rather than the rector of a shrine,” Armitage explained that people from 135 countries had taken part in the program and that he had been inundated with letters of gratitude.

“Last week I had a lovely letter from a family of farmers in Wisconsin, just saying how much they appreciated it. They watched as a family,” he noted. “So it’s made that connection.”

He said the letters came from two types of people:

“There are those who have been in lockdown, like the rest of the world. They’re grateful that it’s given them a spiritual framework during this time.”

“But much, much more important, it’s given a spiritual framework for those who’ve been in lockdown for years. The elderly, the disabled, those who are never going to come out again.”

“And I don’t say we forgot them, but what’s happened is that we’ve discovered a way to connect that we kind of missed.”

The pandemic also forced a major change to Walsingham’s biggest event for decades: the rededication of England to Our Lady on March 29.

Armitage had spent three years planning the rededication, which was preceded by a two-year tour of England with the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Catholics were due to gather at cathedrals across the country as the rededication ceremony took place at Walsingham. But when churches were ordered to close due to the pandemic, Catholics were asked to follow the ceremony live from their homes on the shrine’s website instead. So many logged on that the site crashed.

“The rededication of England was phenomenal,” Armitage said. “It overwhelmed our server. We had to transfer to YouTube. That rather took us by surprise.”

In his homily at the rededication, Armitage said: “We have long pondered and treasured the words of Pope Leo XIII to an earlier generation of bishops: ‘When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.’ In the hour of our need, Our Blessed Mother has indeed returned to England.”

Many of you know that I feel an affinity to Our Lady of Walsingham and have for years (albeit more the Anglican Shrine). This shrine known as England’s Nazareth was visited by every English King from William the Conquerer to Henry VIII, who destroyed it in The Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was revived in the early 20th century. Interestingly, the first Catholic Mass in Walsingham since the Reformation was held amongst the ruins of the monastery by the United States Army Air Forces shortly after VE Day.

A most pleasing report indeed, from the country known since the 14th century, at least, as Mary’s Dowry, because of England’s deep devotion to Our Lady. Perhaps it carries down to us in some measure, since Mary is also the Patron Saint of the United States.

As we have always known:

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