Peter Hitchens in Copenhagen

Peter Hitchens recently spoke to the Danish Free Speech Society. His message, while quite downbeat, is also quite (I fear) true. Perhaps, more so for Europe and Britain than for the United States, but perhaps we are all in this boat together. Sadly you young people will see. Listening to him put me in mind of King Arthur, to wit: The Once and Future King, the dream we share with the Roman Britons, that thing will be once again put right, but unexplained in that thought is exactly who will put them right.

In any case, a powerful and moving speech.

 

There is also a fairly long question and answer session that followed. To be honest, I haven’t made it all the way through it, but what I have, it is quite illuminating, so here it is.

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Life is Winning in America

A few videos, scenes, not to mention words that moved me relating to The March for Life in Washington last Friday. Enjoy!

Over at Life News, there is an amazing time-lapse video of the people streaming the streets.

One more video maybe

The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, wrote an op-ed in the National Review last Friday.

In short, life is winning in America again. It’s winning because of the policies of our administration, and because of the commitment and compassion of those who gather today in our nation’s capital, and in marches, meetings, and homes all across the country.

Life is winning through the steady advance of science that illuminates when life begins.

Life is winning through the generosity of millions of adoptive families, who open their hearts and homes to children in need.

Life is winning through the compassion of caregivers and volunteers at crisis-pregnancy centers and faith-based organizations who bring comfort and care to women, in cities and towns across this country.

And life is winning through the quiet counsel between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, between friends across kitchen tables, and over coffee on college campuses, where the truth is being told, and hope is defeating despair.

We must continue to be a movement that embraces all and cares for all out of respect for the dignity and worth of every person. We must recommit ourselves to be a movement of compassion, not confrontation, of generosity, not judgment, and above all else, we must continue to be a movement of love.

This I know we’ll do – because I have faith.

I have faith in the goodness of the American people. I have faith in the president they elected. And I have that other kind of faith – the faith that moves mountains, and that, even now, stirs all across America.

And Senator Mike Lee with a floor speech in the United States Senate.

Mr. President, today hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life will participate in the 45th annual March for Life.

Why do these citizens march, year after year?

It certainly isn’t for their health … Or for the media coverage.

No, these Americans march on behalf of those who cannot.

They march for uniquely vulnerable members of the human family. For the unborn. For those threatened by abortion. And for the countless innocent lives already lost.

These Americans march to protest the legal regime that sustains abortion.

The cornerstone of that crumbling edifice is Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that invented a so-called “right” to abortion in the Constitution, and in so doing stripped the unborn of their right to life.

The principal effect of Roe on our culture has been to cheapen the value of humanity itself. 

Roe has insinuated into the law a poisonous notion, the notion that some human beings may be treated as things. As objects to be discarded when they are inconvenient. We’ve seen this before in human history.

But an unintended effect of Roe has been to kick-start a movement that has lasted for four-and-a-half decades.

Roe did not resolve the abortion debate — although it tried to. Rather it intensified the debate.

The nation’s conscience was not deadened by Roe’s euphemisms and evasions; rather it was brought to life.

Like a firebell in the night, Roe awakened a generation of Americans to the injustice of abortion.

Countless thousands of them are marching in Washington, Salt Lake City, and cities across the country today.

But the institution of abortion still has its defenders. Vociferous defenders, even.

Why does this issue arouse such anger and passion?

I argue it is because the pro-life and pro-abortion rights movements offer competing moral visions for our society. Indeed, competing arguments about human dignity and what it means to be human in the first place.

Both moral visions are as old as the nation. They have appeared in various guises all throughout our history.

But there is a consistent trend in how the clash of visions has played out in every era.

The vision advanced by the pro-life movement has inspired righteous protests. The other vision has been used to rationalize hideous injustices.

The pro-life vision embraces our country’s noblest truth. The pro-abortion vision twists it.

Let me explain what I mean.

Our Declaration of Independence contains one of the most succinct and revolutionary statements in human history.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We know that the United States has not always acted on this high principle. We have denied life, liberty, and opportunity to our fellow man in countless cruel and unfortunate ways.

But even in the darkest times, patriots and reformers have looked to this passage as a guiding light, because it is the conscience of our nation.

Abraham Lincoln referred to the Declaration constantly in his speeches, calling it the “sheet anchor of American republicanism” and the “Father of all moral principle.”

He called the Declaration’s statement on human equality the “electric cord” that links patriotic Americans through the ages.

Now that electric cord has reached us. It is a direct line that runs from the Founding Generation to the very heart of the pro-life movement.

The core conviction of the pro-life movement is that “all men are created equal.” That all have a right to life.

We believe that every human being has dignity and merits protection simply by virtue of being human.

You will often hear pro-lifers emphasize the human features of unborn children, as well we should.

We point out that the human heart begins to beat as early as 16 days after conception. We point out that the unborn child can yawn, react to pain, and suck her thumb. And we point out that that thumb even has a one-of-a-kind fingerprint.

But we do not mention these characteristics because they are what give unborn children worth. It is not our fingerprints or even our beating hearts that make us people.

Rather, we point to these characteristics because they point in turn to something more fundamental.

They point to the inescapable fact that the unborn child is a human being, just like us. A member of our messy family.

It is that endowment, that shared humanity, that gives us all moral worth.

And so, to summarize the pro-life position, we have only to repeat those five words in the Declaration: “All men are created equal.” All are entitled to life.

But to be sure, not everyone shares the belief that all men are created equal.

At various times this belief has been called an “error of the past generation.” It has even been called a “self-evident lie!”

Few today would denounce the Declaration of Independence in such terms.

But defenders of abortion still repudiate the Declaration by their actions, and by the arguments they advance to protect legal abortion.

Defenders of abortion no longer dispute that unborn children are living human beings. How could they? Science testifies unequivocally to our shared humanity.

Most sophisticated defenders of abortion do not even dispute that abortion is a violent act.

If you do not believe me on this point, perhaps you will believe Ronald Dworkin, a prominent apologist for the pro-choice position: “Abortion,” Dworkin writes, “[is] deliberately killing a developing human embryo.”

He goes on to describe abortion as a “choice for death.”

So if abortion defenders do not deny the humanity of the fetus, and if they do not deny that abortion kills the fetus, how then do they defend abortion?

In short, they do it by segregating the human family into two classes: Human beings who are worthy of life — sometimes referred to as “human persons”– and human beings who are unworthy of life — “human non-persons.”

According to this view, human beings do not deserve protection on the basis of their humanity alone.

Rather they gain the right to life when they attain certain characteristics — usually some level of cognitive ability or bodily development.

Since the unborn lack these magic personhood qualities, they lack the right to life and may be dismembered in the womb. They are “human non-persons.” Or so the argument goes.

There are many problems with this chilling view. It has been rebutted at length by smarter men and women than me.

But for the purposes of today, it is enough to point out the track record of this argument.

Because it just so happens that every time mankind has been artificially divided into classes — into “persons” and “non-persons” based on their race, sex, genetic fitness, or any other attribute — the result has been calamity.

Which leads to a very simple question that has never been satisfactorily answered by abortion’s defenders: Why should we believe that this time is any different?

Abortion is a difficult subject matter for so many reasons, but on another level it is quite simple.

Our society has to choose between the two visions of human dignity described above.

Put simply, do we believe that all men are created equal? Or that some are more equal than others?

This simple question deserves a simple response: We must choose the first of those options, and affirm that all human beings are created with dignity.

And we must reject all attempts to separate the human family into higher and lower classes.

Let us see these attempts for what they are: Cruel fictions that cheapen life itself.

Just as there is no such thing as “life unworthy of life,” there is no such thing as a “human non-person.” There are just people. And we are each fearfully and wonderfully made.

Yes, dignity was ours before we stirred in the womb. It is stamped onto the very fabric of our genome. It is printed onto our soul.

This is the truth so brilliantly proclaimed in our nation’s Founding Documents — even as it is denied by our legal system, starting with Roe v. Wade.

But even though the laws of man are against us (for now!), the truth is with us. And the truth can erode even the most formidable edifice of lies.

And so, on this forty-fifth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, let us respond to Roe as Frederick Douglass responded to a similar indignity, Dred Scott v. Sandford.

“Happily for the whole human family,” Douglass thundered, “their rights have been defined, declared, and decided in a court higher than the Supreme Court.”

Those words are as true today as they were when they were spoken.

They call us to continue the winding march for justice — and for life –until the unalienable rights of every human being are respected in our land.

Thank you.

 

Dreaming of Freedom

Today in the United States it is Martin Luther King Day. I have a trivial confession to make, I opposed its establishment as a federal holiday, not so much because of what he symbolized, as a simple prejudice against even more holidays, and the combining of Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthdays. In some way, I still feel that way.

But as I look out on America fifty-five years later, I’m glad it is a holiday. Why? Because the civil rights movement that he spearheaded, as late as it was, was, and is, important. The sad part is that the left, who attempts to take credit for what was mostly conservatives in the government accomplished then, have betrayed that dream, while conservatives have come to embrace it ever more fully. Have you ever read the I have a Dream speech? There is nothing in it that the most conservative person in the world doesn’t embrace, and absolutely nothing that contradicts anything in Christianity (as, of course, the Rev Dr. King knew).

It is not utopian, nor is it dystopian, it is reality. It recounts where his people had been, and where they dream of going. Sadly his vision is still a dream. Not a dream of endless government largesse extorted from the citizenry, but of respect, and competence earned, as he had earned it, by deeds, not words. That does not denigrate words but signifies that action is required.

So here is your chance to read it, dispassionately, and see what a great American leader saw as necessary for the downtrodden blacks in America. And strangely the south has, well, not really embraced him, but acted on his recommendations. There was a study I saw a bit ago that reported that Boston is now the most racist city in the United States, not Atlanta, or Biloxi, or Selma, or Birmingham, or even New Orleans.

Transcript of speech by
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
August 28, 1963. Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beckoning light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

One hundred years later the Negro is still languishing in the comers of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

We all have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to change racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice ring out for all of God’s children.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted citizenship rights.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

And the marvelous new militarism which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers have evidenced by their presence here today that they have come to realize that their destiny is part of our destiny.

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and before the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the mount with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the genuine discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, pray together; to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom forever, knowing that we will be free one day.

And I say to you today my friends, let freedom ring. From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring. From the mighty Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only there; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill in Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!”

It is time that we remove the tyranny of low expectations from our fellow citizens, and allow them to compete to the best of their ability with all of us. Some will win through, some will not, just as it is for any other group in America. But succeeding because someone gave you the answers is not winning, it is cheating, and living off other is not living, it is a living death.

And American Dream – Let Freedom Ring.

Rachel weeping

Peter_Paul_Rubens_Massacre_of_the_Innocents

Today is the day our churches commemorate the Massacre of the Innocents. Some of those churches, it must be said, with their eyes tight closed to what they propose. But this is one thing most of us agree on, and so a bit from me, and also a bit from my friend Chalcedon at the Watchtower

Indeed, before the advent of Christianity, human life was generally held cheap. The death rate among new-borns was high, and there would have been few families at the time who did not have the experience of losing a baby, and even a mother, in child-birth. But the massacre of little children was something else – it was seen as barbarous, even in barbarous times. Quite what even barbarous times would make of the modern West’s habit of mass abortions, who can tell? To those without an ideological blindness to it, the practice is appalling, and it is no accident that the abortion industry does not want the details of what goes on inside its clinics more widely spread; few, surely, can read the detail without a feeling of nausea? But such is the state of our ‘civilization’ that now only the Catholic Church holds the line firmly here. The same faith which told the world that even the life of a slave was worth the same as that of an Emperor in the eyes of God, tells an unheeding world that the life of every child in the womb is valued in those same eyes. It holds to a high view of the worth of human life in a world where, increasingly, it is seen as having variable value. The unborn, the handicapped (yes, don’t use the word, but do defend aborting such babies whilst they are in the womb – never forget words are all that matter) and the elderly, especially the elderly who are unwell, all of these lives have a different value to those of the ordinary person of working age upon whom health services can spend a small fortune to keep alive and as fit as possible. All lives matter, but some matter far more than others.

Chalcedon is speaking of Britain, in the States, the Catholic church has some allies, parts of the Anglican and the Lutheran churches are allies, as are a fair number of evangelicals, why any Christian is not is well beyond my ken.

And here is Jessica:

Today is the day on which the Church remembers the massacre of the Innocents as recorded in Matthew 2:13-23.

Verse 15 refers to words of Hosea 11:1“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.” 
Just as Israel was preserved from destruction in Egypt, so God’s Son, the hope of Israel, is preserved from destruction; but just as the first-born of Egypt died, so now, do the first born of Israel.

Verses 17 and 18 refer to Jeremiah 31:15

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”

Rachel, the wife of Jacob and thus the mother of Israel, is depicted by the prophet mourning over her descendants who have been slaughtered by the Babylonians. But if we take the whole of Jeremiah 30-33 we can see that either side of these lamentations there is the looking forward to the new Covenant, the new era which the coming of the Messiah will inaugurate.

St. Matthew, steeped as he was in the Jewish Scriptures, sees the parallel for us – that out of this destruction there will come a new life; Jesus is the fulfilment of the words of the prophets. At the end of the chapter there is a reference to Isaiah 11:1, where Jesus, the ‘Stem of Jesse’, the ‘Branch’, and also to Isaiah 6:13 where, after God had cut down the tree of Israel, a little stump was left from which a branch would grow.

Suffering, like the poor, is with us always, and in so far as we alleviate the suffering of the poor, we do it for and to Christ, because he is in every one of us, and we are in his image. Death is something which comes to us all, even if our society conspires to hide the fact. I never knew my mother, who died soon after I was born, and that is a sorrow, but it is one which is in the natural order of things, which is what makes the massacre of the Innocents the more shocking, because it runs against the natural order in two ways: the child dying before the parent, and adults killing rather than caring for children. What can comfort a mother for the loss of her child? And yet in our time, many mothers choose not to have their child, and society, so anxious to shield us from the reality of our own mortality, turns a blind eye and uses smooth words to condone infanticide. We should not, we cannot and must not, judge women who come to that place; we cannot know what drove them there, and everyone is different. But we can lament the slaughter, for that is what it is. If they truly knew what it was they did, then many would not do it.

We have moved from a society which accepted (because it had no choice) that infant mortality would be high, through one which sought to end that situation, to one where we routinely abort millions of children in the name of a spurious ‘right to choose’. I say spurious because no one asks the child in the womb, who gets no choice at all. So, on this feast of the massacre of the Holy innocents, let us pray for all those afflicted by this modern curse of abortion – including the women concerned.

And this, more than any other factor, is why those who would like us to call them pro-choice are not, they are part of a very ancient cult: the cult of death. They think it proper to slaughter babies, even before they are born, which to my mind at least makes them even worse than Herod, himself. Humans have a tendency to murder each other for very little reason, it took Christianity almost 2000 years to mostly end this practice, if not the desire, now we seem to be slipping back. And yes, voluntary euthanasia is simply more of the same horrible sauce.

But there are encouraging signs, abortion in the US is lower than at any time since 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade. That is something to give thanks for, for it is indeed a good start. But outlawing the practice is not really enough, the problem is that there are people that think such barbarity is acceptable. We are, can be, must be better than this.

Have yourself a Merry Christmas

savior-of-the-world_t_nt

As I look back on the year, and the years, many of them are marked by Christmas, as indeed this one is. I find myself missing  my sisters and Brothers in Law. Well, I’ll see them again, in the next world, and that day isn’t so far off, and my old partner and dearest friend, well never say never. I have my memories, and a few pictures, and yes, some tears will be shed. But this day brings that promise, that I shall see them again, and it provides a good excuse to read Jessica’s words once again because she wrote it so beautifully. But first, a song that she introduced me to that has come to symbolize Christmas for me. Jessica’s post is after the Pogues with Kristy MacColl. A side note: Kristy died in December 2000 while saving her son from being struck by a speeding boat in Mexico. Doing her maternal duty, but a sad end to a great talent. Merry Christmas to you all!

And so we come to the day when the world opens its presents – and we do the same, but we celebrate the greatest present ever – the gift of ever-lasting life. Paul is right, our minds cannot encompass what it means, or what it will be like, but we can know what it is to be covered by the blood of the Lamb and to know that our sins are forgiven, and that our souls are being healed; that’s what Christmas means for us all – it’s just that only some of us ‘get it’.

The most (in the proper meaning of the word) awesome aspect of what we celebrate today is that the eternal Word, who was with God from the beginning, who created the world, came into it in human form, assuming our flesh and healing it. We say these things so easily, but how marvellous that the Lord of all things should have condescended to be one of us, to share our fate, to live among us, as one of us. It isn’t surprising that early heresies centred around trying to explain that away, because the ancient world was used enough to gods who took on human form, but it was just that – an act, an appearance, a guise for some purpose (often amorous) which was later dropped. The notion of God as one of us (cue the song) – note that contra the song there is no ‘if’ – he was one of us – was and remains revolutionary. At a stroke, in the twinkling of an eye, we poor sinners are rich beyond our deserts – all that was ruined, all that was broken is made whole.

That is why Christians celebrate this day. It is the day God’s love was incarnate, and the Apostles saw Him, they touched Him, they lived with Him – the Word made flesh dwelt with men and though the world saw Him not, enough did that two thousand yaears on, we celebrate it. This is something we can share with Jesus.

The Lord’s first miracle was at a celebration – a wedding – and it was something which helped the celebration along – good wine at that stage of the proceedings must have been greatly welcomed – and there might have been a few sore heads in the morning. If anyone here has been to a Jewish wedding, you’ll know how joyous it can be, and how the dancing and the eating fuse together into a celebration of life itself. That’s a reminder to us all that the new life we have in Christ is a cause for huge celebration. It is good to go to Church and to give thanks to God for all our blessings – and then to go home and be with some of them – our family and friends.

If you get bored enough, I’ll likely be around some today, I’ll be with some friends, but will probably be in and out some. Going to be rather quiet here today, I expect.

A very holy and happy Christmas from me! Neo.

Cryst, Buggere of Monkunde

We haven’t done any poetry here for a bit, nor have we visited with our favorite medievalist, A Clerk of Oxford for a while. Shame on us. But we can fix it this Gaudet Sunday, because she has a post about Herebert’s ‘Holy moder, that bere Cryst‘. That should be appropriate enough.

It comes from his version of ‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’, the Compline antiphon for this season. Which you can hear here.

Holy moder, that bere Cryst, buggere of monkunde,
Thou art ȝat of hevene blisse that prest wey ȝyfst and bunde.
Thou sterre of se, rer op the folk that rysing haveth in munde.
In thee thou bere thyn holy fader,
That mayden were after and rather,
Wharof so wondreth kunde.
Of Gabrieles mouthe thou fonge thylke “Ave”;
Lesne ous of sunne nouthe, so we bisecheth thee. Amen.

Which is:

Holy mother, who bore Christ, buyer of mankind,
You are gate of heaven’s bliss, who gives the near and ready way.
You, star of the sea, raise up the folk who intend to rise.
Within you you bore your holy father,
Who maiden were before and after,
At which nature wonders.
From Gabriel’s mouth you received the ‘Ave’;
Release us from sins now, we beseech you. Amen.

The striking thing to me here is the use of the English ‘buyer’ instead of the Latin-derived Redeemer. Redeemer comes from emptor, buyer, actually refers buying back, which is exactly accurate for Christ, isn’t it?

She also says that there is an aural play on the words for buyer and bear which alludes to Mary bearing Christ. I believe her, but I don’t speak middle English – sometimes I can make out the written, sometimes not, but it is fascinating.

Some direct from the Clerk, since she’s the expert. I’m surely not, although I love it.

The hymn imagines Mary as the open door to heaven, a road by which Christ enters the world and by which mankind can travel to joy. Herebert’s description of that road is again a little more expansive than the Latin, and he plays with a beautiful ambiguity in his language which is not present (I think) in his source. He says that Mary the ‘prest wey ȝyfst and bunde’; I translated this above as ‘gives the near and ready way’, but it’s not quite as simple as that. Both prest and bunde mean something like ‘ready, prepared, near at hand’, and the sense is that the road to heaven is accessible and open (pervia is the Latin word he’s building on). However, both words mean a good deal more than ‘open’. Both also connote energy, readiness, and eagerness, and in other Middle English texts are more often used of people than of objects or roads: of an army preparing for battle, a servant promptly attending on his lord, a lover eager to do his lady’s bidding – of anyone quick, lively, spirited, attentive, ready to spring into action. They’re incredibly life-filled words.

And so, perhaps, they suggest the eager, life-bearing, near-at-hand person in an Advent context: Christ, who stands ready to spring into the world through the gate opened by Mary. Herebert’s verb ȝyfst offers more than the Latin, too: Mary ‘gives’ (not only ‘remains’) the way to heaven, and of course, she gives Christ to the world. The way in this poem is primarily the road to heaven but Christ, too, is ‘the way’, and the adjectives used to describe the way here could apply equally well – if not rather better – to him.

Herebert’s Christ is always an energetic figure, active, determined, and forceful, brimming with physical as well as spiritual vitality.

That is something I’ve noticed, The Christ depicted in medieval days was almost always an energetic figure, getting about and doing stuff, not the calm contemplative figure we are so used to now. I find him very attractive, a young man taking care of His Father’s business, so to speak, expeditiously and with dispatch.

This is the Christ whom the medieval church saw in the young man of the Song of Songs, who comes seeking his beloved:

Look, he comes leaping on the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle, or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me, ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone… Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’

This isn’t the passive, suffering Christ of most medieval poetry about the Crucifixion, nor the grave gentle Jesus of later imaginings; it’s something immensely vital, virile and alive, a shape-shifting force of pure energy. Herebert’s word prest exactly describes this Christ.

Don’t know about you, I really like Herebert’s Christ, leaping over mountains, like a young stag. Seems so much more vital than the calm, wise, elder we are so often presented with. A joyful, loving young Christ, come to save us, rebuy us back from the devil. What’s not to like?

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