Pictures of the Week, Thanksgiving Edition

Lest you think that picture is purely gratuitous, The American Spectator tells us:

Marilyn was descended from John Alden and Priscilla Mullins — arguably the two most famous Pilgrims to step off the Mayflower — through their eldest daughter and first child, Elizabeth. Marilyn was a seven-times-great granddaughter of the Aldens. But she didn’t know it.

But I would have run it anyway! 🙂

Not the Rolling Stones

A Polish soldier

And of course

As always, mostly from PowerLine and Bookworm.

Advertisements

The Reformation at 500

So, five hundred years ago today, a young monk nailed 95 points of contention on the door of a church in Germany. Or maybe he didn’t. Current research indicates that he (yes, his name was indeed Martin Luther) actually mailed two copies, both with personal cover letters to Albrecht the archbishop of Mainz and to Jerome [Scultetus] the Bishop of Brandenburg. Both were in his line of command.

The main complaint was indeed Johann Tetzel, the overzealous seller of indulgences (and Grand Inquisitor of Heresy to Poland). That he didn’t detonate this bomb with a hammer on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, doesn’t change the fact that it was a bomb.

Tetzell left us a memorable phrase, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul out of purgatory springs“. Although, again, he may never have said it. But somebody did in early 16th century Germany. In Theses 27, Luther wrote,

27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory. 28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone (LW 31:27).

Part of the reason it became so heated is that the money from the sale of indulgences was being used to build St Peters Basilica in Rome, as Luther put it, on the backs of poor German peasants. There were other things as well.

Luther also departed radically from medieval perceptions of human righteousness, single-faceted as they were. Righteousness meant for the spectrum of theological voices from Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas to Ockham and Biel that human beings in some way met the demands for perfect performance of God’s law in one way or another. That might be possible, as Augustine taught, only through the aid of God’s grace and with his gracious forgiveness. Aquinas, too, taught the prevenient grace had to come before good works but that good works constituted that which makes God take pleasure in his human creatures.

Despite the admission that God’s grace is necessary for becoming righteous, this one-dimensional understanding of human identity or righteousness placed Luther continuously under God’s judgment until he discovered that human righteousness in God’s sight comes alone from God and that there are two facets to human identity. […]

A simple theological parable may clarify the distinction. Although by the definition of his own theology Thomas Aquinas had sufficient merit to proceed directly to heaven, without having to work off temporal punishment in purgatory, the Dominican saint dallied along the way, visiting old friends and doing research among those who still had purgatorial satisfactions to discharge there. He arrived at Saint Peter’s gate some 272 years after his death, on February 18, 1546. After ascertaining his name, Saint Peter asked Thomas, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” “Because of the grace of God,” Thomas answered, ready to explain the concept of prevenient grace should it be necessary. Peter asked instead, “How do I know you have God’s grace?” Thomas, who had brought a sack of his good deeds with him, was ready with the proof. “Here are the good works of a lifetime,” he explained. “I could have done none of them without God’s grace, but in my worship and observation of monastic rules, in my obedience to parents, governors, and superiors, in my concern for the physical well-being and property of others, in my chastity and continence, you can see my righteousness – grace-assisted as it may be.” Since a line was forming behind Thomas, Peter waved him in, certain that Thomas would soon receive a clearer understanding of his own righteousness. The next person in line stepped up. “Name?” “Martin Luther.” “Why should I let you into my heaven?” “Because of the grace of God.” Peter was in a playful mood, so he went on, “How do I know you have God’s grace? Thomas had his works to prove his righteousness, but I don’t see that you have brought any proof along that you are righteous.” “Works?” Luther exclaimed. “Works? I didn’t know I was supposed to bring my works with me! I thought they belonged on earth, with my neighbors. I left them down there.” “Well,” said Gatekeeper Peter, “how then am I supposed to know that you really have God’s grace?” Luther pulled a little, well-worn, oft-read scrap of paper out of his pocket and showed it to Peter. On it were the words, “Martin Luther, baptized, November 11, in the year of our Lord 1483.” “You check with Jesus,” Luther said. “He will tell you that I have been born again as a member of the family. He will tell you that he has given me the gift of righteousness through his own blood and his own resurrection.”

This is a superb article if one wants to understand what the Reformation was about. You can find it here, Luther’s Truths, Then and Now. Mind, it is long.

But I want to highlight four things which are different in how we Lutherans view the Reformation, even from other Protestants, according to Gene Veith, whom many of you know I have found a reliable guide to Lutheran thought. They are very truncated from what Dr Veith wrote, do follow the link.

I.  Reforming the church is not the same as starting a new church.  There is a difference between fixing up a house that has fallen into disrepair and tearing down the house and building a new one.  […]

Thus, Lutheran worship took the liturgy and removed prayers to the saints, references to Purgatory, and other elements that pointed away from Christ.  But most of the liturgy remained.

II.  Luther didn’t split the church.  The pope did.  Luther is credited or blamed for splitting what was once a unified Christian church.  When Luther posted his 95 theses, he was drawing attention to clear abuses, financial corruption, and theological confusion.  That his complaints were valid is demonstrated by the Roman Catholic church eventually changing the specific practices to which Luther was originally objecting.

III.  The Bible wasn’t translated so that individuals could interpret it for themselves.  I once heard the Lutheran theologian David Jay Webber comment that “Lutherans resist interpretation.”  You don’t read the Bible so that you can make up your own theology.  You read the Bible for a confrontation with God.

IV.  The Reformation did not replace Sacramental Christianity.  Luther’s Reformation was about strengthening sacramental Christianity.  Baptism does not just wash away original sin and the sins committed before Baptism, after which you must resort to the rite of penitence ; rather, in the words of George Herbert, Baptism “measures all my time.”  Lutherans retained confession and absolution, not as a separate sacrament, but as a function of Baptism, since sins are forgiven using the Baptismal formula, “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”  Furthermore, sins that have been forgiven do not require “temporal punishment” in Purgatory.  To Lutheran Reformers, Holy Communion is not a new sacrifice of Christ, to be received only by those who have been shriven of their sins and are in a state of purity; rather, it is Christ giving His Body and His blood “for you,” to the sinner, for remission of sins.

So there you go, 500 years ago today, a simple German (or was he?) monk and priest, in fact, a Doctor of the Church, set out to see things that were visibly wrong in the Church of his day. As usual with the things of man, it did not go quite as he planned. but he did succeed in reforming that Church, and established another as a counterweight, which if we pay attention can help both churches to stay on track.

Along the way, he established the way the German language is used to this day, maybe not on Shakespeare’s level, but on Tyndale’s, and he gave us concepts in Christianity that have served us well, all over the world.

Let’s end by going back to Robert Kolb for a bit, shall we? For truly, here lies one of the root stems of the modern world, in all its glory, and in its evil as well.

Luther recognized both the promise and the ambiguity of new technology and new modes of communication. In a world in which God’s material blessings flow richly with gifts that can aid our thinking and our communicating, new modes of communicating can also be hijacked by Satan. Further complicating matters, disciplines always carry ideological baggage and need Christ critique. In such a world, Luther’s ability to marshal technology as well as an array of colleagues and their teaching across the spectrum of the curriculum of the time should serve as a model for us. Luther’s emphasis on literacy endowed us sociologically with a kind of upward social mobility. […]

The Courage of Cowards

This whole Weinstein thing just grabs on and doesn’t let go, as far as I can see. There is no excuse for him, just as I never heard one for Bill Clinton, or Jimmy Savile, or for Ted Kennedy. I can understand how they got that way, to a point, but I can not excuse it. The mark of a man is how he treats those he has power over, and these four and many others fail abysmally. There will be more, and I suspect in other cities, particularly Washington, and likely London. I note there are quite brutal rape accusation against Weinstein in Britain.

But while the fault is theirs, and their’s alone, and one hopes the earthly penalty is sufficient, others bear some blame as well. As I said yesterday ‘casting couch’ has been a cliché for decades. Sure some part of it was normal guys wishing for an opportunity. But you, know, most of those ordinary guys would never have used sex to be paid to advance someone’s career. Lust is one thing, and essentially prostitution is another. But it happens, it always has, and if not watched, it always will. That’s why Mike Pence’s rule about drinking and dining with women, not his wife is so wise. It negates not just the temptation but the appearance of temptation.

But the victims do bear some blame here, as well. This behaviour has been covered up for decades. Why? Because none of them was willing to pay the price for doing the right thing. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but when you cover for a rapist, you sentence another woman to be raped as you were. I understand that you might have lost your career, and that’s a shame, but instead, you chose to lose your self-worth. Was it worthwhile? Dov Fischer has a superb article up at The American Spectator on this. It is most aptly title The Courage of Cowards. I strongly recommend that you read it. A few excerpts follow

Five years later, I found myself employed in a significant role within a very different kind of corporate structure where, it came to my attention, one of the Board members, a singularly powerful figure in the body, had been harassing women. Two separate women came to me privately, each separate from the other, each telling me her respective account — and their accounts were verifiable. I went home and said to my wife: “I think I am in another one of these spots. If I report to the rest of the Board what I now know, there is no doubt in my mind that they will have no choice but to demand the guy’s immediate removal from all Board influence, and they never will be able to let him on that Board again. But I also have no doubt that, once that dust settles, they will come after me for blowing the whistle. So I have to make a decision.”

My wonderful wife looked at me with eyes that essentially said: “So what’s the question? You know what you have to do.”

And she was right. There was no question. I am no feminist — au contraire — but this was not about the politics of vagina hats and burning bras. This was a matter of human decency and the spiritual holiness that exists in every person. I knew what I had to do.

I blew the whistle internally. The Board appointed an internal committee to investigate independently. The committee came back affirming my report. The harasser’s role as an influential Board powerhouse ended. He never returned to that Board, and he was demoted and sanctioned severely beyond that.

Soon after, predictably, his friends’ backlash against me hit hard from within. I ended up leaving that place of employment.

Best thing that ever happened to me.

That’s gut check time, isn’t it? Something evil going on that you can, perhaps stop, but there will be a price to pay, win or lose. Personally, I’ve been in variations of that spot, and like his wife indicated, it’s not much of a decision. But I’m a man, and I was trained not to run from trouble, but to take my best shot at fixing it. I said man there, but what I really mean is a responsible adult, we all know plenty of women who are the same way. I was raised according to the old Irish adage, The first duty of the strong is to protect the weak. All of these people, abusers and victims as well, fail the test. The abusers will hopefully face man’s justice, the others will be asked one fine day about it, I warrant, by a higher judger, and there are no appeals from that judgement.

There was Ashley Judd, less than a year ago, at a “Women’s March.” It was a “Women’s March” that barred and disenfranchised the whole huge swath of American women who do not share the radicals’ leftist agenda. Speaking to those attending, Ashley Judd ripped into President Donald Trump. She became profoundly obscene, reciting a “poem” that bore fantasized intimations of perversion and incest. Oh how brave she was — “speaking truth to power” — by regaling a leftist crowd, whining men and women and whatever pronouns now are persondated (not “mandated”) in California — with a hateful radicalized leftist attack on the Republican President.

That is not “courageous.” That is not “brave.” There is no downside for a Hollywood figure to attack conservatives, Republicans, Christians, the Catholic Church, or Orthodox Jews before one of their hooting echo audiences. Those audiences lap it up. They love it. They reward such attacks with adulation and iconization. It is the “courage” of late-night talk hosts lambasting the President or the Republicans to their self-selecting echo chambers of leftists, while knowing full well that the conservatives and the Republicans are not in the Stephen Colbert audience or viewing on television when they instead can be watching Fox News or reruns of Last Man Standing or Quick Pitch on MLB or the cooking or other food channel or a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or reading a book or even going to sleep at 11:30 p.m. because, as many conservatives do, those people have to get up in the morning the next day to go to work for a living.

There is no courage in attacking the President or the conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court or Republicans in Congress at Academy Awards night or Emmy night or Tony Awards night or Grammy night. There is no courage in mocking the traditionalists on Saturday Night Live. When a person arises amid an echo chamber of same-minded Eloi in a time machine that is stuck in an Obama era that has passed, and sneeringly feeds the clods who get their news from Comedy Central their liberal mantras, he or she simply is feeding fish to clapping seals. That is not courage. That is pandering.

Instead, courage is when an Ashley Judd is pawed by a Harvey Weinstein who has power over her career — and she decides that, whatever may be the price to be paid, she will stop this pig here and now by blowing the whistle. And that is the kind of courage that a coward like Ashley Judd lacks. Courage is not when Meryl Streep at a Hollywood Awards ceremony mocks President Trump’s perceived approach to women, based on the brash person he was decades earlier, while she extols Roman Polanski as an artist who has suffered far too long, even as she calls Harvey Weinstein “God.” Rather, courage is when the same Meryl Streep wins the confidence of women in her field who can go to her, as women came to me in my less famous role, to tell their horrific reports of sexual assault and violation, knowing that she will leverage her voice in Hollywood to extirpate the pig from the public arena. And the coward Meryl Streep does not have that courage — not unless it is printed out for her in dummy cards for her to read emotively into a camera.

And that very thing is what empowers the Harvey Weinsteins, the Bill Clintons, the Teddy Kennedys, to use others, especially women without power, because women let him do it before, and so it becomes ‘just Harvey’ and it goes on until somebody dies, like Mary Jo Kopechne, and sometimes it still goes on. And you know, the only reason, for most of these women’s silence, that I can see, is a profound dislike for anybody but themselves. They’ve made little (very little indeed) tin gods of themselves, and there is no good in them or in those who enable them. G.K. Chesterton wrote

“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

Even little tin Hollywood gods they made for themselves.

The [Continuing] Story of Freedom

I don’t know about you guys, but most of what we have talked about this week, I find distasteful. There are few things that infuriate me more than the abuse of power, and it’s only worse when it is a powerful man abusing young women. perhaps at least some of them were willing to play the game, after all ‘the casting couch’ is a cliché for a reason, but why, exactly, should they have to. Yes, people will always abuse power, if they can, but we do not have to let them. In any case that was part of the reason that this week’s picture post was about Navy Day, not that they don’t deserve the recognition. I had simply had enough, and most of what I had was about Weinstein. Yuck! As I said today in a comment, Lord Acton was correct, “The love of power corrupts, and the love of absolute power corrupts, absolutely.”

One of the things I do when I get in this spot is to go back in our earlier posts, usually Jessica’s. She had a way of making things clear, no matter how much mud was spattered about, and it is one of the things I miss most about her. Some of her basic goodness comes through in those posts, and they help me, and I hope they help your morale as well. In her post from December 30, 2012, she reminds us that our freedom has a long history which is intertwined in British and American history. Here she takes us back to show us that the original resistance to secular tyranny came from none other than the Church, in our case through the Archbishop of Canterbury St Thomas Becket and thence to another Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton, who stood up to King John of infamous memory. But let her tell it, she tells it much better than I do. here’s my dearly beloved dearest friend, Jessica.

The story of Becket reminds us of the eternal conflict between the Church and the State. It is the natural wish of the latter, whether in the guise of a king, an aristocracy or ‘the people’ to encompass as much power to itself as it can. There is only one culture where this has been challenged successfully, and it is that of the Latin West. For all the atheists’ charge that the Church has been some sort of dictator, it never has been; indeed it has been the bridle on that happening in our societies.

I mentioned Stephen Langton yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury whom King John had refused to accept, and who sided with the Barons in their fight against the King’s tyranny. That does not mean, of course, that the Church has not had times when it has cooperated with tyranny, but it does mean that it has stood out, always, against the State controlling everything. Indeed, it was this example which gave courage to those who came to see the Church itself as a spiritually tyranny, corrupt and refusing to mend its ways. We can argue over the results of that, but what is unarguable is that it is from the deepest part of Christianity that the belief in freedom under God comes.

That qualification matters. Our forefathers did not mistake freedom for license. They knew they would stand one day before God to account for their time here on earth. They knew their sinful ways, they did not blame ‘society’, they knew that sin was an act of will on their part – of sinful rebellion against God. But they also knew that only through freedom could man be truly himself. Like God Himself, they believed in free will. Man was not free when he was in chains – literal and metaphorical ones. The black slaves were in literal chains, their owners in metaphorical ones.

Freedom has a price. Part of that is that we have to bridle ourselves. The excesses of our species when left to itself show why. Made in the image of God, we are capable of deeds of utmost evil, and we can also rise to heights of altruism and love – as the lives of the Saints show us.

We Christians are strangers in this world. We are meant to be the leaven; but too often we are the salt that has lost its savour. America is the one country in the world founded on a vision of how things could be. From its beginning it has taken the hard road of trying to rule itself without kings or aristocracies. It has found itself in some dark places, not least during its Civil War. But it has always valued freedom – and always acknowledged that there is a price to be paid.

There is a long and continuous thread leading from Magna Carta to now. We forget at our peril how unique that story is. You won’t find it elsewhere  – do we cherish it as we should?

Jacob Rees-Mogg and Absolute Morality

There has been a bit of commotion over in Britain the last couple of weeks, caused by a Member of Parliament that I’ll bet most Americans have never heard of, and that’s a shame. His name is Jacob Rees-Mogg. His father was William Rees-Mogg who was a former editor of the £ Times newspaper and created a life peer in 1988. Jacob was educated at Eton and in History at Trinity College, Oxford. (Can you say “posh”? I knew that you could.) He created his own financial services company and is the Member for North East Somerset (since 2010). Quentin Letts dubbed him the “Honourable Member for the early twentieth century”. It’s rather humorous, and yet, his accent and manner of dress, and yes his manner of acting play into it. As does that he is proud of being both Catholic and English, something we see far too seldom these days. And that’s why the commotion. The other day he was on Good Morning Britain and some of what he said shocked the hosts rather profoundly.

It’s rather fun to watch Piers Morgan taken apart, apart from the fact that Rees-Mogg is entirely correct for the Catholic Church as well as any orthodox Christian. It is simply what we have always believed everywhere, at all times. Here is exactly how far our churches have descended since the beginning of the twentieth century. And that leads us to something else. Steven Bullivant writing in the Catholic Herald, tells us something about how secular Britain, even its Catholics, are becoming.

How many Catholics actually share Jacob Rees-Mogg’s beliefs?

He is already in a minority simply by attending Mass regularly

Today’s Times carries an interesting – though for many Herald readers deeply dispiriting – article: “Most UK Catholics back right to abortion”. (It’s behind a paywall, but a quick and free registration can get you access.)

I won’t repeat the full thing here – and besides, you can read the full report from the 2016 Brithish Social Attitudes survey, on which the article is based here. But the essential statistics are these: In 2012, 39 per cent of British Catholics thought that abortions should be legal on the simple grounds that “the woman does not wish to have a child”. Now, fully 61 per cent of British Catholics think so.

This is, it must be said, a huge leap in just four years. By comparison, in the 27 years prior to 2012, the proportion of similarly pro-choice Catholics increased by only six percentage points (from 33 per cent in 1985). Personally, I’d suggest regarding the specific figures in play here – i.e., 61 per cent of British Catholics; a rise of 22 percentage points – as being illustrative, rather than pin-pointedly precise. (This is due to all the usual caveats regarding sample size, margins of error, etc.) Nevertheless, the general tenor of the statistics, and indeed of the direction of travel, are likely to be trusted.

These figures come at a time when Catholic attitudes to critical moral and social issues are already very much in the news. This is thanks to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s straight-talking statement of the Church’s, and therefore his own, opposition to both abortion and same-sex marriage. It is not surprising, then, that these new BSA data are being used to cast Rees-Mogg’s views as being out of touch even among Catholics themselves.

I addressed the general question of “How odd is Rees-Mogg?” in terms of British social attitudes as a whole on the Spectator’s website over the weekend. How representative, though, is he among his fellow Catholics?

First of all, he is already in a minority of Catholics simply by virtue of being a regular Mass attender: fewer than one in three of cradle Catholics (a good chunk of whom now identify as ‘no religion’, of course), and only about two in five of all those who currently identify as Catholics, say that they attend Mass even as often as once a month (see here).

Accordingly, it would be interesting to see what difference there is between practising Catholics and non- or irregularly-practising Catholics on attitudes towards abortion and other subjects. I suspect that among them Mr Rees-Mogg’s views would find much greater (though not at all unanimous) agreement.

Even so, these new statistics are a sobering indicator (as we didn’t have enough of them already) of just how far British Catholics have secularized. So too, for that matter, is the furore surrounding Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Part of what I find disheartening in this is that even as we, in the US, appear to be winning the battle on abortion, and we have public opinion on our side on same sex marriage as well. It was simply established by a federal court acting extra-constitutionally, if not quite unconstitutionally. But the United Kingdom appears to be still sliding down that slippery slope. But we know that we have seen some very dark places in this battle here as well. And one of the things that is winning for us, is the steadfastness of many Catholics in this battle, who have shown some of us Protestants what we must do to achieve the proper result.

And so, real conservatives in Britain have found someone who speaks eloquently for them, and for us as well. There is a boomlet for him to become the leader of the Conservative Party. It is, at best, very premature and unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Because a lot of what is happening in Britain these days are very much like those things that have caused us to say here, “That is why you got Trump”. And nothing in my lifetime was more unlikely than that.

He also reminds me of this, from Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream- -and not make dreams your master;
If you can think- -and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on! ‘

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings- -nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And- -which is more- -you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rees-Mogg certainly is, and a most admirable one, as well

The wrath of the awakening Saxon

150px-Sutton_hoo_helmet_room_1_no_flashbrightness_ajustedWhen Churchill said that democracy was the worst form of government – except for all the others – he was making an astute comment. He began his political career when the UK electorate was about 7 million, all men, and all property-owners of one sort of another. In 1918 that system was blown apart after the Great War, and the electorate went up to 21 million, some of them – gasp – female, Fortunately they didn’t let young women vote – you had to be 30. By then, so the thought went, you’d be married and have a man who could tell you what to do. In 1928 they gave in, and the ‘flappers’ – women between 21 and 30, were added to the franchise.

The job of Government in the UK back then was still close to what it had been for a long time – keep law and order and the peace, and make sure the Royal Mail worked. But with the advent of real democracy in terms of numbers, it became increasingly impossible for politicians to tell their electors that problems like unemployment and poverty were nothing to do with the Government; people wanted help and they expected action. After the Second World War, the UK Government did the obvious thing and brought in a Welfare State. The thought then was that we would have a health service which would, once it cleared the back log of ill health, would be cheap; they got that wrong – as it soon began to eat up huge amounts of money and still does. Governments also said they’d deliver education, and did, and now that costs a fortune too. You see the pattern? Governments took on much that used to be done (sometimes not very well) by private bodies. The problem with this dream of utopia was that it cost money. The Democracy was receptive to ideas about money could be redistributed more fairly; it forgot, if it ever knew, that someone needed to create wealth. You can’t redistribute what you don’t have – that’s called robbery.

But in the great modern boom, Governments found they could borrow and print money and promise their citizens the sky. With material prosperity came moral laxity – it always does – look at old Rome. Bread and Circuses kept the plebs (us) happy. But then the casino went bust and the music stopped, and now we are beginning to see the confidence trick,  We handed over freedom for prosperity – and we seem to have less of both now.

Because politics seemed so complicated, it got dominated not by the old elites, but a new one. The old elites were patrician enough – no one ever accused FDR or Churchill of slumming it, but they had that paternalism of an aristocracy born to rule. Neither man enriched himself in office, and they knew that they had a responsibility to those they ruled. The new elite was different. It knew it was smart. It got to office because it was smart, and it rather despised those who weren’t. There was no humility there because these men (and a few women) had got there by their own efforts and despised those who hadn’t.

It was a twist of fate to combine the ascendancy of this class with the end of gravy-train. The bread to keep us quiet was not so plentiful as it had been, and whilst the circuses were glitzy and full of ‘celebs’, they somehow failed to shut us up or to disguise from us what was happening.

In the UK and the USA the old parties seem irrelevant – vehicles for career politicians who don’t care which team they drive for as long as it is the winning one. And out here, beyond the Thunderdome, we’re beginning to see that whoever else wins, we lose. We don’t much like it. But we are slow to anger – and yet our rulers should heed Kipling’s words, put into the mouth of a Norman noble on his death bed, talking to his son:

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
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 alone.

Our rulers should beware the phenomenon described in ‘The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon”

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

Well, we know this isn’t ‘fair dealing’ – so they should beware.

First Published by Jessica on May 6, 2013

%d bloggers like this: