Remembrance Sunday

I wrote this morning on All along the Watchtower, this is part of that article.

Poppy_wreath_stockwell

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

 

A WOMAN’S TRIBUTE

The Message of the Double Line of Khaki; From the London Times, October 18, 1921

In Westminster Abbey, yesterday, General Pershing laid the American Medal of Honour upon the grave of the Unknown Soldier of Britain. The bright sunlight streamed through the high stained-glass windows in long shafts of light that fell warm upon the grey stone of the Gothic arches, upon the quiet people in the Nave, and around the flower-strewn tomb, and that lay in a cloth of scarlet on the flag above the body of the Unknown Dead.

A thousand years of great history stood silent within those old walls. Close by are the tombs of Norman, Plantagenet, Tudor, and Stuart Kings and Queens, of the priests, and soldiers and the sailors, of the poets and statesmen that have made England great.

As the organ filled the sunlit spaces of the ancient church with its deep volume of sound, there marched up the aisle, with bared heads, a detachment of British soldiers from the Guard’s regiments. As they formed a line facing the centre, an equal number of American soldiers, bare-headed, marched up the other side, and turning, stood facing the British soldiers across the narrow aisle.

Both lines of khaki, both lines of straight and young and clear-eyed boys, both lines of men of Anglo-Saxon blood, of the same standards and of the same ideals they stood there in the sunlight in that shrine of a thousand years of memory, looking straight into each other’s eyes.

Between them, up the aisle, marched the choir in their scarlet vestments with their bright cross on high, the generals, the admirals, and the Ministers of the Empire, and the Ambassador and the Commanding General of the Great Republic but in all that they represented, and in all that was said in the ceremonies that followed, there was no such potent symbol as those two lines of khaki- clad boys, with the sun shining on their bared heads, their brave young faces, and their strong young bodies, looking each other straight in the face.Between them lay, not the narrow aisle, but a thousand leagues of sea, the building of a new world, the birth of a new destiny for man. But as they stood there where they could have touched hands in the old Abbey which was a shrine for their common ancestors, they were so amazingly alike in bearing and appearance that they ceased to be a detachment of soldiers from two different countries, and they became a symbol of the illimitable potentiality of a common heritage that heritage of which the ancient Abbey was a shrine the heritage of the ideals of freedom, of order, of self-discipline, of self-respect.

If any words spoken in the Abbey could have conveyed a hundredth part of what that double line of clear- eyed boys said in utter silence the world would have been a happier place to-day. The old strength and the new force of a common heritage stood in khaki in the aisle of Westminster Abbey bare-headed, to honour the symbol of supreme sacrifice to those ideals in the Cross of Christ and in the body of an Unknown Soldier.

The service included this.

It has been a very long century since that last quiet August weekend of the Edwardian Age. It has been filled far too often with the roar of the guns, and the rattle of musketry followed by the sounding of the Last Post. But the mission has been maintained, it will never be won, although we can and should pray that it will be less horrific going forward. But all around the world, freedom-loving people have learned of the steadfast valor even unto death of English-speaking soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen. We are proud of our part, yes. But we are equally proud to be your allies and friends.

Has it been worth it? The citizen of Ypres, Belgium seem to think so. Every night at 8:00pm since 2 July 1928, except during the German occupation in World War II, they have executed this ceremony, and when the Polish forces liberated them in 1944, they resumed, while heavy fighting was still going on in the city. While under occupation in World War II the ceremony took place at Brookwood Military Cemetery, in Surrey, England.

EVERY NIGHT

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

 

Maintaining the Dream

w1056

John Stuart Mill said

… the very principle of constitutional government requires it to be assumed, that political power will be abused to promote the particular purposes of the holder; not because it always is so, but because such is the natural tendency of things…

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? One of the reasons we vote is to vote for whoever we believe will abuse the power we grant them less. Yes, that’s a pretty low standard, but over the years, well centuries, it has proven to be a valid one.

To me, maybe partly because I’m an American, I’ve always thought it applied more to us than to other countries, because as Jessica (who is British) has written here several , “Other countries are a place, America is a dream”. She’s right, you know, we are American because somebody in our ancestry, or we ourselves, followed that dream. Maybe for a better material life, maybe for a more politically free life, maybe to follow their religion free from interference, maybe for other reasons, or for all of them.

It has always been thus, in America. Way back in 1630, John Winthrop said

…for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world…

And so it is still.

So, tomorrow we will vote for a new president. Like all presidents, he will find he has both more power than can be imagined, and at the same time less power than he hoped, for good or ill. This has been a very distressing campaign, for all of us, and I suspect any who read here have made up their minds. So be it. I’m not going to argue the case anymore. Vote for the candidate you think fulfills the need best. But remember, this country was founded to give the individual in community the best shot at being successful, however, success is designed. It was not founded to make your life easy from cradle to grave.

Out here along the Oregon Trail, where I live, it used to be said, “The sick never started, and the weak died along the way.” That’s pretty much America, right there. It is not now, and never was, a country for the weak. Those people that braved the Atlantic in small wooden ships, in steerage, however, they got here really did not expect to find the streets paved with gold. A promised land it may have been, but it has never been a land of milk and honey. It’s a country built on sacrifice and very hard work, as well as personal responsibility for you and yours.

But the hard work and the sacrifice paid off. It paid off well enough that Russian immigrants wrote home ecstatically, “Here, we eat wheaten bread, everyday.” Where they came from, they were lucky to have a chunk of wheat bread on holidays.

So by all means vote, it is, after all, your right. But remember this too, it is your responsibility, and your duty, to vote for the person you think will do the best by you, and by America.

And remember what Thomas Paine said in An American Crisis

To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. Enjoy, sir, your insensibility of feeling and reflecting. It is the prerogative of animals. And no man will envy you these honors, in which a savage only can be your rival and a bear your master.

What Christians believe

This is from a talk entitled What Christians Believe, by G.K. Chesterton. It became Chapter 11 in Mere Christianity.

As usual, it sums things up very well.

And yes, it is one of my favorite books on Christianity.

Why Conservatives Should Start Breaking The Laws That Oppress Us

gandgiThis carries on something that I have been speaking on at the Watchtower, you can find those articles here, and here, and do read the comments as well, many points are clarified there. This is from The Federalist.

Take a look at this sentence from a Daily Mail article reporting on Donald Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter” given this past Saturday. “Included [in the contract] are six anti-corruption pledges, seven actions related to jobs and trade and five on immigration and the ‘rule of law.’”

Why is “rule of law” in scare quotes? Is this really where we’re at in our thinking? The rule of law is some niche idea conservatives include in their wish list—like a “culture of life” or a “free market”?

Perhaps it alludes to the typical reader’s comprehension—“Psst, there’s this thing conservatives refer to as ‘the rule of law.’ Haha, I know, right? I mean, everyone on the right side of history knows laws are for fools, but just so you know, some of the true believers are still out there.”

Regardless, it certainly fits everything we’re seeing this election season, both in the presidential campaigns and in our culture.

Hillary Clinton gets exonerated for mishandling classified information by claiming not to understand a system I learned literally my first day in the Army Reserves… as a freaking chaplain! “I made a mistake.” Oh, that’s what breaking the law is called.

The Left Is Above the Law—Whatever the Law Might Be

We could go on and on, listing the litany of laws the Left routinely ignores: immigration laws in sanctuary cities, abortion laws regarding the trafficking of body parts, bribery laws with the Clinton Foundation. Or we could bring up obvious cases of corruption: like the FBI giving special treatment to Hillary, or the IRS targeting conservative nonprofits. But if a tree falls in the woods, and the media don’t report it, does it make a noise?

via Why Conservatives Should Start Breaking The Laws That Oppress Us

He does a very good job of explaining the concepts of Gnosticism, as one would expect from clergy, and how the ‘Archons’ who built the modern world have been replaced by the Archons of the left, which bear no relation to reality, or God. His conclusion is that we need to start disobeying their laws. I think he is correct but would add that we need to remember that there may well be a price, likely a high one, attached to doing so. We should not forget that Dietrich Bonhoeffer died a very cruel death when he was hanged at Flossenburg Concentration Camp.

But I fear that the God’s of the Copybook headings are approaching quickly

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Let’s close with Pastor Burfeind

Several years ago—I think it was during the Obamacare debates, when Democrats were doing all their “sausage making” shenanigans—I was at a red light at the end of my road. The light is unbearably long. No one was coming from either direction.

I said to myself, “F*** it,” and turned left on the red light. At that moment the red light became an icon of everything I was coming to hate about government: a coldly mechanized totem of inefficient government management, pretending to be the height of rational governance.

How easy it was to break the law their laws.

4 Reasons Globalism Won’t Retreat Anytime Soon

holocaust-e1459342376327Rachel Lu brings a whole load of common sense for us to ponder…

Globalism is in full-on retreat, or so I’ve been given to understand. Cosmopolitans, your name is mud. This is the year when conservatives start thumbing their noses at soft borders, interventionist foreign policy, and even free trade. We’re sick of liberals and their snooty multiculturalism. Up with nationalism, localism, boosterism, protectionism, and mom’s apple pie! It’s a big world, after all.

Why is this happening? If you’ve paid even a modicum of attention to recent discussions of Brexit, Trumpism, and related cultural currents, you’ve fully grasped by now that the common man is feeling alienated and marginalized, and doesn’t intend to take it anymore. That prompts a further question, however. To what extent can globalism really retreat?

People have been tilting against this particular windmill since the end of the Cold War. (Remember the ’90s and the protests against the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and other international organizations?) Conservatives have traditionally held (with our pinkies prominently elevated) that there are fundamental truths about our globalized world that are bound to resurface however we try to bury them. Even conservatives, though, have started flooding the anti-globalization bandwagon in this election year.

Peering through the murk, what we see in our current political memes is a noisy celebration of half-truths and half-baked ideas. Yes, there are some real insights to glean from the currents of this tumultuous year.

Read it all at: 4 Reasons Globalism Won’t Retreat Anytime Soon

I don’t have all that much to add to what she says since I pretty much agree. I do want to emphasize that no matter what, and no matter how much I (or you) want the 50s and 60s to return, they aren’t going to. We, like each generation, have our own challenges, which we have to solve to the best of our ability. The past can be a useful guide, but it still depends on us to find the right answers for our time. Some things are eternal, but most aren’t. Nick today at All along the Watchtower speaks of how we were created in the image of God. He’s right, we are, but part of that is that He left us to figure out most things for ourselves, using our God-given intelligence. So we’d best get on with it, and quit kicking cans down the road.

While you’re pondering all this, also think about this. The poorest person in America or the UK today, is amongst the 1% of people that have ever lived. We never had it so good. I wonder if that isn’t the problem, we have so much time to bitch because the living is so easy.

Still Naught For Our Comfort

One of the things that I love about my partner here, Jessica, is that she has rekindled my love for poetry, and you have seen each of us use it to reinforce our points. It is hardly a new method but, it is one used rarely these days. I suspect because most of us are so ill-educated that we are unaware of its richness, and ability to reinforce our point.

If you read much of Lincoln’s writings and speeches, for instance, you will see it used to great effect. For instance his famous, “of the people, for the people, and by the people’ was not original, nor did he claim it was, and his listeners knew it was not. The original is this: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” it is by John Wycliffe and it is from 1384.

She has greatly enriched my life, but more importantly, she has enabled me to make my points much more clearly. I wrote most of this post while she was just starting to recover from her illness, and it spoke deeply to me then, and in fact, looking at the world today, it still does.

A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.

For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.

Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.

He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.

There was not English armor left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.

It was a very bad time to be King Alfred of Wessex, and I think it holds parallels to where we are now, in America.

“Mother of God” the wanderer said
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.

“But for this earth most pitiful.
This little land I know,
If that which is forever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss
Seeing the stranger go?”

And here we come to my introduction to this epic by Jess, when she quoted it to me when by deceit, Obamacare was ruled constitutional. That defeat continues to unfold to the detriment of the country, as do many others.

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’

Naught for your  comfort has become a catchphrase for us when things go awry, which has been often these last few years for us, personally, and for us as Americans, and for Britons as well.

We are living through a failed presidency (or at least trying to) and one of the reasons it has failed is that many of our countrymen have confused Obama with God, and I suspect he has as well. That never turns out well, and it is not here either. Nor does the next four years look exactly like ‘Morning in America’. But then neither did 1976.

I’m reminded that first class leaders hire the best men they can find to help them, and second class leaders hire third class helpers, and worst of all, third class leaders hire lackeys who will tell them what they want to hear. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Makes me wonder at who we are considering hiring to run ‘America, Inc.’

We will have to simply use our intelligence to try to select the best person. We have many things to fix. It’s going to be an epically hard battle, and we could do worse than to emulate King Alfred.

But remember, we remember King Alfred because he won. Let’s finish with the rest of the poem.

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

The King looked up, and what he saw

Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

That may well happen again, but if we look around, the landscape does rather look as the poet describes here, doesn’t it?

They shall not come in warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

What though they come with
scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them
That they ruin and make dark;

By all men bond to nothing
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed
Too blind to be abhorred.

By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast
of the world
And the end of the world’s desire.

By God and man dishonored
By death and life made vain
Know ye, the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again

Did that interest you enough to wonder about the poem and its author? I hope so. It was written by G.K. Chesterton (and its much longer than the excerpts here) it’s called The Ballad of the White Horse. You can find it at Project Gutenberg.

There is, of course, another lesson implicit in the poem. King Alfred succeeded because he was true to his vision and his faith. If we are not, we will fail.

By the way, Jess and I also often quote Mother Julian of Norwich to each other as well, especially as reported by T.S. Elliot in Little Gidding.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

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