Friday, May 22, 2015

Heresy or Treason? Blessed John Forest

Blessed John Forest is the only Supremacy Martyr to be executed by being burned alive, sentenced by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, with the penalty of death carried out by the state. He was found guilty of the same offenses as the Carthusians and John Fisher, but he was not beheaded or hung, drawn and quartered.

Blessed John Forest was executed by being burned to death by being suspended over the flames from a gibbet --those are chains under his arms in the stained glass--on May 22, 1538 because he opposed Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn, the annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and Henry's claim to supremacy and religious and ecclesiastical matters in England, which was heresy to Henry VIII. According to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia

Born in 1471, presumably at Oxford, where his surname was then not unknown; suffered 22 May, 1538. At the age of twenty he received the habit of St. Francis at Greenwich, in the church of the Friars Minor of the Regular Observance, called for brevity's sake "Observants". Nine years later we find him at Oxford, studying theology. He is commonly styled "Doctor" though, beyond the steps which he took to qualify as bachelor of divinity, no positive proof of his further progress has been found. Afterwards he became one of Queen Catherine's chaplains, and was appointed her confessor. In 1525 he appears to have been provincial, which seems certain from the fact that he threatened with excommunication the brethren who opposed Cardinal Wolsey's legatine powers. Already in 1531 the Observants had incurred the king's displeasure by their determined opposition to the divorce; and no wonder that Father Forest was soon singled out as an object of wrath In November, 1532, we find the holy man discoursing at Paul's Cross on the decay of the realm and pulling down of churches. At the beginning of February, 1533 an attempt at reconciliation was made between him and Henry: but a couple of months later he left the neighborhood of London, where he was no longer safe. He was probably already in Newgate prison 1534, when Father Peto his famous sermon before the king at Greenwich. In his confinement Father Forest corresponded with the queen and Blessed Thomas Abel and wrote a book or treatise against Henry, which began with the text: "Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God as Aaron was." On 8 April, 1538, the holy friar was taken to Lambeth, where, before Cranmer, he was required to make an act of abjuration. This, however, he firmly refused to do; and it was then decided that the sentence of death should be carried out. On 22 May following he was taken to Smithfield to be burned. The statue of Saint Derfel which had been brought from the church of Llanderfel in Wales, was thrown on the pile of firewood; and thus, according to popular belief, was fulfilled an old prophecy, that this holy image would set a forest on fire. The holy man's martyrdom lasted two hours, at the end of which the executioners threw him, together with the gibbet on which he hung, into the fire. 

Hugh Latimer preached a sermon at Smithfield urging Forest to recant his defense of truths that Henry VIII had believed and affirmed several years before, as he had praised the Observant Friars as holy and devout religious.

He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: The Silencing by Kirsten Powers

I read Kirsten Powers's The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech because I was interested in what she would say about free speech on our university and college campuses. I have blogged about the restrictions on free speech on campus, with free speech zones and other horrors, before on my blog.

Powers identifies an "illiberal left" which, instead of engaging in debate and discussion with people who have different viewpoints, works to shut those people down. They refuse to look at any content and instead attack the person, usually by identifying them as misogynistic, racist, or some other ad hominem attack.

Throughout Powers' book she makes statements like, "although I support a woman's right to choose abortion" or "although I support the Affordable Care Act" and then follows them up with something to the effect that "I think those who are opposed to abortion have a right to be heard" or "those who want to repeal the ACA should be treated with respect". She wants our country to maintain its great heritage of free speech, including speech that opposes settled law. She thinks free speech should be practiced in journalism, on university campuses, and in society in general. She argues that when those in power (academic, political, or social) attempt to silence free speech, all of our freedoms are in danger, including religious liberty.

Powers' book is filled with anecdotes, cases, interviews, and examples. She maintains a tone of mild outrage throughout the text and warns continuously against the consequences of this pattern of silencing opposing viewpoints. She does repeat some of the same examples in different context, which I think is a weak point.

I read the book on Kindle and one of the advantages is that every web-based source she has cited is linked in the notes, so the reader may follow up and check on Powers' interpretation of events.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Last Abbots and Suppressed Monasteries

The Recusants and Renegades blog highlights the career and survival of the last prior of St. Mary Overy in Southwark:

I've decided to write something here about my (probable) ancestor Bartholomew Fowle, who was the prior of St Mary Overy, Southwark, at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, even though he was not strictly speaking a recusant – a term that would only really come into use during the reign of Elizabeth I. However, like countless other faithful Catholics, Bartholomew’s world was turned upside down by the seismic upheavals of the Reformation. Moreover, telling Bartholomew’s story seems like a natural sequel to the last post about my 12 x great grandfather Magnus Fowle and his recusant connections. As with my that post, I’ll be drawing on my own original genealogical research, some of which I’ve already published on my family history blog Past Lives.

The lives and afterlives of these canons, friars, and monks were completely disrupted by Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, but did receive pensions:

The priory of St Mary Overy was ‘surrendered’ to Thomas Cromwell’s agents on 27th October 1539. Cromwell himself signed the pension list, which granted £8 each per annum to two of the canons and £6 to nine others. There were eleven annuitants in all, besides the prior, with their pensions totalling £70 in all. At least one source claims that Bartholomew Fowle quibbled over his original grant of £80 per annum and managed to have it increased to £100. In addition, Bartholomew was provided with a house ‘within the close where Dr Michell was dwelling’. Robert Michell was the last prior but one before Bartholomew, and had probably resigned due to ill health or old age. (A certain William Michell, almost certainly a relative, had witnessed the will of Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst in 1525.)

The blog's author, Martin Robb, notes traces of his probable ancestor's life after the surrender of the Abbey:

There is evidence that Bartholomew Fowle remained in London after his enforced retirement, and also that he continued to serve as a priest. For example, in 1543 Dame Joan Milbourne, the widow of a former lord mayor of London, bequeathed money in herwill to a number of priests to come to her burial at the church of St Edmund, Lombard Street, and to pray for her. She left the sum of £6 13s 6d ‘to my very good friend Bartholomew Linsted some time prior of St Mary Overies, to pray for my soul’. From this, we can conclude two things: firstly, that Bartholomew Fowle was well connected with the gentry of London, and secondly that, despite the religious changes of Henry’s reign, Catholic practices such as prayers for the dead remained popular.

The date of Bartholomew’s death is unknown, and I’ve failed to find any trace of a will, but a number of sources confirm that he was still receiving his pension in 1553. In other words, he lived for at least another fifteen years or so after his expulsion from St Mary Overy. This means that, like my ancestor and his relative Gabriel Fowle, Bartholomew may have lived long enough to have his hopes revived by the brief restoration of Catholicism under Queen Mary.

Prior Fowle may have seen Catholicism's brief restoration but perhaps not its fall again during Elizabeth I's reign. On May 20, 1560, John Feckenham, the last Abbot of Westminster, was sent to the Tower of London by Matthew Parker, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He had been “railing against the [religious] changes that have been made.” He had been at Evesham when that abbey was surrendered in 1540 and then been named Abbot at Westminster Abbey during Mary I's reign. More about him here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

St. Edmund Campion and the "Magna Carta"

Joanna Bogle highlighted the annual Tyburn Lecture on her blog and provided a link to a synopsis of the lecture, which focused on how St. Edmund Campion cited the Magna Carta in his defense at trial for Treason in 1581:

The lecture gave a legal analysis of the case against the Jesuit martyr St Edmund Campion to comment on state oppression and religious freedom in England in the late sixteenth century, and how this resonated down the centuries.

The British values and identity narrative we hear so strongly today is one of a tradition of tolerance. So it was most interesting to learn that Elizabethan/Jacobean England was the most intolerant state in Europe: more Catholics were judicially murdered here than anywhere else. Catholics in the Protestant states of Germany and the Dutch Republic had freedom of conscience and worship. Protestants in Catholic France, Poland and even in Spain ran fewer risks than did Catholics in England. This was much commented on in Europe at the time of Campion’s trial.

Campion was accused under the Treason Act of 1350. Elizabeth wanted to be seen as a tolerant monarch who could encourage freedom of expression. England was at that time sending military support to the Dutch Protestants in their struggle against their Spanish overlords, in order to uphold their rights to freedom from oppression.

Sir Michael explained that there was no evidence presented at the trial to demonstrate Campion’s guilt under the Treason Act. He admitted breaking the law by saying Mass but this was not a crime under the Treason Act. On his return to England in 1580 as an ordained Catholic priest Campion had issued a public statement (known as the Bragge) addressed to the Queen’s Council declaring his loyalty to the Queen alongside an appeal for the right to debate the merits of the true faith.

In his presentations to the court Campion claimed four specific natural rights which go back to Magna Carta:

· The right to a fair trial (Campion was tried by a jury but it was biased against him)

· The right not to be tortured (Campion was illegally tortured for three days)

· The right not to incriminate himself (i.e. to remain silent)

· The right to freedom of expression.

This presentation is important because it demonstrates how Elizabethan courts were denying prisoners their rights under English law: this is not applying a standard of rights in our era, but in Campion's own. The presentation is timely because England is celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. See for example this page at the British Library.

St. Thomas More also cited the Magna Carta at his trial in 1535, arguing that Parliament's law making Henry VIII the Supreme Head and Governor and other laws restricting the rights of the clergy to appeal to Rome (The Act in Restraint of Appeals for example), violated its primary purpose: defense of the Church. As this website notes:

More was tried at Westminster on the 6th July 1535. In responding to the guilty ruling he first argued that the act of supremacy was directly repugnant to the laws of God and the Church, “the Supreme Government of which, or of any part thereof, no Temporal Person may by any Law presume to take upon him, being what right belongs to the See of Rome, which by special Prerogative was granted by the Mouth of our Savior Christ himself to St.Peter, and the Bishops of Rome his Successors only”. More went further though. Not only was the act contrary to the laws which governed the Church, it was also contrary to the rights of the Church as defined by Magna Carta, the first clause of which reads:
FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Real St. Thomas More, Recorded


The Spiritual Life Center has posted a recording of my presentation on The Real St. Thomas More.

I must warn you that I do not lecture when I make a presentation--I involve the participants, who have their own input to make, throughout, inviting comments, questions, and other participation. So you will hear other voices.

The outline of the talk is:

~Discussion of A Man for All Seasons and Wolf Hall;

~Defense of St. Thomas More against charges of being fussily pious, sado-masochistic, and misogynistic (based on my article from The National Catholic Register);

~Description of the Real Thomas More: lawyer, judge, diplomat, husband, father, friend, writer, poet, theologian, etc, as the first modern lay saint (neither a third order member, nor a charity worker, nor a founder, but an active lay Catholic)--although he was of course canonized he as a martyr, not as a confessor;

~Emphasis on More's integrity;

~Discussion of the scurrilous language in More's apologetical works against Luther, Tyndale, and Fish and of his prosecution of heresy as Chancellor (based mostly upon Richard Rex's contribution to The Cambridge Companion to Thomas More);

~Description of the last 14 months of St. Thomas More's life in the Tower of London (based on my article in The Latin Mass Magazine, "The Long Lent of St. Thomas More") and discussion of his defense at trial.

~Discussion of contemporary reaction to More's execution--why it took so long for him to be canonized--and why St. Thomas More suffered and died as a martyr--what did he die for?--with input from Chesterton, Belloc and others.

I also highlighted St. John Fisher's example and his sanctity.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Galileo, Science, and the Catholic Church

Since tomorrow is third Monday of the month, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show to discuss another "troublesome" event in Church History: Galileo, his Heliocentrism hypothesis, and Church reaction to not just his scientific theories but his scriptural interpretations. The Galileo episode is usually presented as one of the proofs that the Catholic Church is opposed to science.

The Vatican Observatory offers some insight here:

Why did Galileo get in trouble with the Church?

Many theories have been put forth over the years to explain why Galileo came into conflict with the Church. The mystery arises precisely because Galileo actually stood squarely in the long history of the Church’s support of science. Many churchmen of high standing, such as Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, had suggested even more radical cosmologies than Galileo did; Copernicus’ work itself had been available without controversy for more than sixty years before Galileo first published his telescopic observations. Most theories explain Galileo's problems with the Church as a clash of strong personalities; as coming from a fear that his ideas would threaten the basis of contemporary theology; or as a reaction by the Pope to the political pressures of the day.

The interpretation of the bible was certainly one of the principal contributing factors to the controversy. At the council of Trent, at the height of the protestant reformation just about twenty years before the birth of Galileo, the Catholic Church had solemnly declared that only the church could authentically interpret the bible and that private interpretation was forbidden. Now in 1616, just as the controversy about a sun-centered Copernican universe was heating up, the church’s holy office declared that Copernicanism was formally heretical because it contradicted many passages in the bible (e.g. Joshua 10: 11-13, in which the sun stops moving in the sky). Galileo had already written several essays on the interpretation of the bible in which he essentially said that the bible was written to teach us how to go to heaven and not how the heavens go. In these documents he essentially anticipated by about 400 years what the Catholic Church would teach about the interpretation of the bible, but he did so privately.

In these documents and in many others Galileo certainly showed himself to be a person with an acerbic writing style who courted controversy. He also had friends in high places, including Prince Cesi, the head of the scientific “Academy of the Lynxes”. Unfortunately for Galileo, Prince Cesi died just before the controversy arose over Galileo’s book: “Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems” (Dialogue).

For many years Galileo had a close friendship with cardinal Maffeo Barberini who had even sent Galileo a latin ode composed by the cardinal in praise of Galileo’s telescopic discoveries. This same cardinal became Pope Urban VIII, the reigning pontiff at the time of the church’s condemnation of Galileo.

In the dialogue, Galileo provided persuasive, but not conclusive, evidence for a Sun-centered system. In so doing, he challenged the classical Greek philosophy of nature, which had dominated thinking about the universe for millennia. To embrace Copernicanism was to threaten Aristotelianism. The persistent requirement of fidelity to Aristotelianism had nothing to do with a Sun-centered system; rather, Aristotelianism was the basis for the philosophical and theological teachings of the time. If Aristotelian natural philosophy crumbled, some feared that the whole system of theology that it supported would also crumble.

In addition, the trial of Galileo occurred during the Thirty Years War, which entered a critical phase exactly at the time of the Galileo trial in 1632. The trial may have been a reaction to the political pressure being put on Pope Urban VIII by the Spanish (and others). By attacking Galileo, the Pope could be seen as showing the more conservative elements that he was not a radical. Perhaps also this was a veiled way of putting political pressure on the rich and powerful Medici family, who were Galileo’s patrons, to stay out of choosing sides in that war.

You may listen live here tomorrow at 7:45 a.m. Eastern, 6:45 a.m. Central.

Eighth Day Books in The New York Times!!

On Friday, May 15 our Chesterton group met at Eighth Day Books--and we did have six new Chesterton fans come to our meeting--and Saturday morning I discovered that Eighth Day Books had been featured in The New York Times:

Eighth Day Books lives in an old three-story house on Douglas Avenue, just east of C&R Comics and Superior Rubber Stamp. It is not exactly a Christian bookstore — while sitting at the communal table, I can pull off the shelf works like Greil Marcus’s “The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs” or scoot my chair a couple of feet and grab, Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken.”

Still, the store’s name, Eighth Day, serves as a secret handshake among Christian book lovers, and its following reaches far beyond the heartland city it serves. Popular Christian writers like Lauren F. Winner and Rod Dreher are fans and erstwhile visitors. On one wall hangs a picture of Kallistos Ware, an Eastern Orthodox bishop and theologian, taken during his visit in 2002.


Warren Farha, 59, gray-haired and laconic, is the store’s founder, custodian, clerk and sole book buyer, a job that is more complex than it would be at a typical independent bookstore. The store’s shelves are divided into sections like Monastic Writings & Studies, Patristic Writings & Studies” and C. S. Lewis & Friends, and filled only with books Mr. Farha would read. So no cooking or travel.

There's a big sic at the end of that paragraph. Eighth Day Books does carry books on cooking and travel. Since the store caters to the Eastern Orthodox population of Wichita, Eighth Day has carried Orthodox Lenten cookbooks--and there are a few travel books on the second floor. 

Nevertheless, it's a great article--so good to see Eighth Day Books and Warren receive the attention that's due. Eighth Day Books is unique. 

Among the essential books in the store are C.S. Lewis's, and the other Inklings (Tolkien, Barfield, Williams) and other associated writers (Chesterton, MacDonald, Sayers). They were all on a special bookcase in the first store and are on a special bookcase in the current store. 

The Eighth Day Institute will hold its first annual Inklings Festival this summer. If you are interested in the Inklings and intrigued by Eighth Day Books it would be the perfect summer vacation! Watch for more information here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

From One Thomas to Another, to Another

On May 16, 1532, Sir Thomas More resigned as Chancellor of England and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, succeeded by Thomas Audley in those offices--the latter on May 20, 1532 and the former on January 26, 1533. He would also succeed Thomas More as Speaker of the House of Commons when Parliament met again. His biography in the History of Parliament notes the delay in naming a Chancellor after More resigned:

The initial withholding of the office and title of chancellor from Audley, when he was named keeper of the great seal in May 1532, has yet to be explained. On 26 Jan. 1533, however, with the new parliamentary session only ten days away, he was made chancellor, and as soon as it opened he was succeeded as Speaker by Humphrey Wingfield. From then until the end of this Parliament, and at its successor of June 1536, Audley conducted business in the Lords, as More had done before him, without being a peer or having a vote. The most important Acts which passed the Upper House under his presidency also owed not a little to his legal skill: thus in the seventh session, the second to be held in 1534, the Act for first fruits and tenths (26 Hen. VIII, c.3) and that on murder and felonies in Wales (26 Hen. VIII, c.6) may have been largely his, and he polished, if he did not draft, the Treason Act (26 Hen. VIII, c.13). He was, however, not impeccable as is shown by the shortcomings in the bill he drafted for the suspension of Poynings’ Law, which required amendment shortly after its enactment in 1536 by the Irish Parliament; it may also have been through his negligence that the same Parliament had to pass a second subsidy Act. In 1539 he introduced, among others, bills for the law reform which, although rejected or allowed to lapse then, were to pass a year later as the Acts for wills (32 Hen. VIII, c.1), limiting prescriptions (32 Hen. VIII, c.2) and for shortening of the Trinity term (32 Hen. VIII, c.21). He also presented a memorial to the Lords in 1540 outlining several reforms, from which emerged Acts for lessees of lands (32 Hen. VIII, c.28) and against wrongful disseisin (32 Hen. VIII, c.33). After Cromwell’s fall the devising of government legislation became Audley’s undivided responsibility.

The same biography notes his participation in several trials, including that of Thomas More, and some confusion about his religious beliefs (was Audley a Catholic or a Protestant?):

If his knightly status exempted Audley from the trial of Anne Boleyn in 1536 (it was not he but John, 8th Lord Audley, who took part in this), he was involved in all the other state trials of these years. His conduct in these trials, and especially in More’s, has been much criticized but it deserves to be judged in the light of Audley’s own beliefs concerning the rights of the sovereign and the duties of the subject. No such criticism, despite occasional and clearly prejudiced charges of favouritism and corruption, can be levelled against his conduct as an equity judge, and even in cases of treason his attitude is illustrated by his advice in 1536 that the Duke of Suffolk should be armed against the Lincolnshire rebels with a commission to try cases of treason, showing that he took for granted, even in such circumstances, the necessity of a trial at common law.11

Audley’s religious position is difficult to assess. A correspondent of Melanchthon named him with Cromwell and Cranmer as friends to Protestantism but, if he was, the friendship was always qualified by his allegiance to the King whose policies he faithfully carried out, a course which in general gives an impression of conservatism. Thus an anonymous enthusiast for the Act of Six Articles (31 Hen. VIII, c.14) again linked Audley with Cromwell as two men who, this time in contrast to Cranmer and to other bishops, had been ‘as good as we can desire’ in the furtherance of the measure. Audley was equally content to follow Cromwell’s lead and what few clashes there were between them arose largely out of minor questions of patronage.12

Whatever Audley owed to Cromwell for his success, he served Henry VIII to coordinate the Attainder and condemnation of the Earl of Essex in 1542. Audley died in 1544 without a male heir and his baronetcy was extinct at this death. He was buried in the church of St. Mary the Virgin in Saffron Walden. Audley had purchased Walden Abbey and built his home there as Baron Audley of Walden. His Audley End was replaced, however, by the Jacobean manor house built by his grandson, Thomas Howard, the 1st Earl of Suffolk; it is now an English Heritage site.

Audley's daughter Margaret married first Lord Henry Dudley, the youngest son of John Dudley, the Earl of Northumberland who was executed during the reign of Mary I and then Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk who was executed during reign of Elizabeth I (but after Margaret had died in 1564). When she died, their son Thomas Howard inherited Audley End and the other properties at Saffron Walden--and yes, the name does refer to the valuable spice saffron as the saffron crocus was grown in the area, and is again today

Friday, May 15, 2015

Alternative History: If Thomas Cranmer Had Survived

Diarmaid MacCulloch speculated on what might have happened if Thomas Cranmer hadn't been executed during the reign of Mary I (because Mary I never reigned) in this 1996 article from History Today magazine:

What would the Church of England have looked like if instead of Queen Mary's triumph in 1553, Queen Jane's quite reasonable hereditary claim to the throne had succeeded in establishing her regime? The Lady Mary would have to have been effectively neutralised, and one fears that neutralising her for good would have involved the block, in a return to Henrician savagery. The Lady Elizabeth could have been married off to Lord Robert Dudley, a good catch for a royal bastard, and a good chance for them both of a happy love-match.

Archbishop Cranmer, living to his allotted three-score years and ten or beyond, could produce a third version of his two earlier Prayer Books of 1549 and 1552, in the light of friendly criticism from continental reformers whom he respected, like Peter Martyr, Johann Heinrich Bullinger and Calvin. He would be succeeded as archbishop by Nicholas Ridley or Robert Holgate, with energetic younger. reformers like Edmund Grindal ready to make their mark and pick up good ideas from the best reformed churches of Europe. The Scots immigrant John Knox, mellowed by an increasingly successful career in the Church of England, would be appointed Bishop of Newcastle, benevolently taking no notice of the advanced congregations in his diocese who received communion sitting; this was a practice in any case increasingly common throughout Jane's Church, despite Cranmer's grumbles. Cranmer's cherished reform of the old popish canon law would be achieved; the primer and catechism published at the very end of Edward's reign in 1553 would become the standards; the Forty-two Articles would have been unmodified by Elizabethan hesitations about relegating the significance of the sacrament of Holy Communion to that merely of a symbolic repetition.

Out in the parishes, metrical psalms in the style of Geneva would quickly have spread: these were the best secret weapon of the English Reformation, making its public worship and private devotional practice genuinely popular throughout increasing areas of the kingdom. This congregational music would also take over in the cathedrals, now devoid of choirs or polyphony, and with their organs (where they survived) used mainly for entertainment in the Dutch fashion. The conservative nobility would continue the sullen public compliance with religious change which they had shown under Edward VI, their private celebration of ceremonial worship tolerated as eccentricity, like the Lady Elizabeth's patronage of choral music in her own chapel.

The traditionalist higher clergy would gradually die off in senior church offices and the universities, with no possibility of like-minded replacement: since the universities produced no major haemorrhage of exiles in the 1560s, the Jesuits and other religious orders would find it difficult to recruit potential clergy to train for their attempt to treat Jane's England as a mission field. England would have become the most powerful political player in the Reformed camp, with Cranmer a cordial if geographically distant partner with John Calvin. It is powerfully symbolic that it was Cranmer's son-in-law Thomas Norton who translated Calvin's Institutes into English, and Cranmer's veteran printer Reyner Wolfe who published it. With a Cranmer-Calvin axis, the profile of Reformed religion across the whole Continent would have been changed, and with the help and encouragement of Bishop Knox, the Reformation in Scotland might have followed a close path to the Reformed Church of England.


Then MacCulloch acknowledges what happened instead when Elizabeth I came to the throne after Mary I's death and created a compromise Church of England that in some ways thwarted Cranmer's reforms, especially in its "long march away from Cranmer's eucharistic theology". MacCulloch traces the ambiguous legacy of Thomas Cranmer through the Stuarts to the Tractarians concluding:

In an ecumenical age, which honours honest doubt and hesitancy as a lesser evil than clear-eyed ideological certainty, Cranmer may win admirers and sympathisers and take his due place in Anglican history. He would not have known what Anglicanism meant, and would probably not have approved if the meaning had been explained to him, but without his contribution, the unending dialogue of Protestantism and Catholicism which forms Anglican identity would not have been possible. Beyond the concerns of Christianity, for all those who criticise his politics, or find his theology alien, Cranmer's language remains as the most enduring monument to Henry Vlll's and Edward VI's most faithful servant. Twentieth-century scholarship has reminded us just how fundamental is the structure of language to the way in which we construct our lives and our culture. Cranmer's language lies at the heart of our own English-speaking culture, which has now become so central to the destiny of the world.

Read the rest there.

The Greater Wichita G.K. Chesterton Society Meets Tonight!

Although Dale Ahlquist won't be at Eighth Day Books tonight at 6:30 p.m. (and he surely would wish he could be here!) our core group is hoping to see some new Chesterton fans at our meeting tonight. We made some connections at the Catholic Culture Conference in April.

We are going to discuss two more chapters in The Well and the Shallows: "The Return to Religion" and "The Reaction of the Intellectuals". In the first essay, Chesterton discusses the destruction of Marriage in his own time:

To take one example out of many; the whole question of Marriage has been turned into a question of Mood. The enemies of marriage did not have the patience to remain in their relatively strong position; that marriage could not be proved to be sacramental, and that some exceptions must be treated as exceptions, so long as it was merely social. They could not be content to say that it is not a sacrament but a contract, and that exceptional legal action might break a contract. They brought objections against it that would be quite as facile and quite as futile, if brought against any other contract. They said that a man is never in the same mood for ten minutes together; that he must not be asked to admire in a red daybreak what he admired in a yellow sunset; that no man can say he will even be the same man by the next month or the next minute; that new and nameless tortures may afflict him if his wife wears a different hat; or that he may plunge her into hell by putting on a pair of socks that does not harmonise with somebody else's carpet. It is quite obvious that this sort of sensitive insanity applies as much to any other human relation as to this relation. A man cannot choose a profession; because, long before he has qualified as an architect, he may have mystically changed into an aviator, or been convulsed in rapid succession by the emotions of a ticket-collector, a trombone-player and a professional harpooner of whales. A man dare not buy a house for fear a fatal stranger with the wrong sort of socks should come into it; or for fear his own mind should be utterly changed in the matter of carpets or cornices. A man may suddenly decline to do any business with his own business partner; because he also, like the cruel husband, wears the wrong necktie. And I saw a serious printed appeal for sympathy for a wife, who deserted her family because her psychology was incompatible with an orange necktie. This is only one application, as I say; but it exactly illustrates how the sceptical principle is now applied; and how scepticism has recently changed from apparent sense to quite self-evident nonsense. The heresies not only decay but destroy themselves; in any case they perish without a blow.

In the second essay, Chesterton discusses the Sitwells, Edith, Sacheverell, and Osbert:

I will take one particular case which is rather a parable. Some time ago all the fine old English critics, Constant Readers and Conservative people generally, were in a ferment of fury and mockery against the impudent innovations of "the Sitwells"; that is, the three poets of that family. They were a proof that being modern means going mad. They were the very latest and loudest anarchists, destroying both rhyme and reason. I will not discuss their merits here. When Miss Sitwell accused the Dawn of "creaking," there were discussions as to her meaning. Her foes said it was random nonsense, like describing the sun as sneezing or the grass as blowing its nose. Her friends said it was a bold and novel way of suggesting something harsh and reluctant about the cold morning light. But everybody agreed that it was the very latest and newest experiment, whether in liberty or in lunacy. The Sitwells were accused of beating the big drum, or blowing their own trumpet; but it was agreed that their drums and trumpets were the newest musical instruments of the queerest shape; and that they used the newest methods of shrieking for what they wanted. But what did they want?

Now, what the Sitwells want is Victorianism. What they do definitely desire, demand and incessantly describe, is a reaction to Victorian habits; to Victorian manners; and even to Victorian morals. As certainly as Shelley wanted a lot of wind and light and the rise of the pure pagan republic, as surely as Walt Whitman wanted democratic breadth and a sort of bodily brotherhood among men out-of-doors, so certainly what the Sitwells want is Victorian flower-beds and hot-houses, Victorian coloured patchwork and curios under glass; and, in no small degree, Victorian etiquette, distance and dignity. This may be a fad but it is a fact; and it is a fact that vividly illustrates the real revolt against recent moral, or immoral, tendencies. The Victorian revolt is not a revolt of Victorians. It is a revolt of Post-Victorians or rather of Post-Post-Victorians. They are going back to something remote, as much as the Pre-Raphaelites in going back to the Middle Ages. In both cases the reason is the same; because the modern ages have become too unbearably stupid for intelligent people. But the more modern case is the more acute case of this revolt against modernity among the moderns. To understand it, we must take a more general view of the singular situation in the world to-day.

I first learned about the Sitwells when studying seventeenth century English history because their ancestor, William Sacheverell was one of the great Whig politicians opposing Charles II's more Catholic efforts and alliances and the succession of James, the Duke of York, because he was Catholic. Sacheverell was also one of most active prosecutors of supposed conspirators of the supposed Popish Plot including Blessed Edward Coleman (Mary of Modena's Catholic Secretary), according to Sacheverell's Parliamentary biography:

Sacheverell was appointed to most of the important committees in the last session of the Cavalier Parliament, including the inquiry into the Popish plot, acting as chairman for the examinations of Coleman and Samuel Atkins. He helped to draw up reasons for a conference on the plot on 31 Oct. and the articles of impeachment of Lord Arundell of Wardour, while taking part during November in drafting eight addresses. On the address for the withdrawal of the Duke of York from the King’s presence, he said:

I have read a little in the law, but I would have the gentlemen of the long robe tell me whether any degree or quality whatsoever of any subject can patronize any correspondence with the King’s enemies? Or whether the King and Parliament may not dispose of the succession of the Crown, and whether it be not praemunire to say the contrary?

On 6 Nov. he moved for the printing of Coleman’s letters, and three days later he alone had the courage explicitly to demand exclusion, and expose the hollowness of the King’s promises of limitations on a Popish successor. Sacheverell’s biggest coup was due to William Williams, who enabled him to produce a list of commissions to Roman Catholic officers countersigned by Williamson. The House ordered the secretary to the Tower, but he was released by the King next day, much to his indignation. He protested at the Lords’ amendment exempting the Duke of York from the bill to hinder Papists from sitting in Parliament:

I wonder they should offer such arguments. The heir apparent was never excepted from taking oaths for preservation of the King’s person. Show me that ever he was. I wonder why, when the preservation of the King’s person is the case, the Duke should be excepted.

With Thomas Bennett he acted as teller against the amendment On 21 Nov. He was one of the five Members given special responsibility for the impeachment of the other four Popish lords on 5 Dec. Two days later at his suggestion the Elizabethan Act of Association was read to the House, and he moved that it should be felony for foreigners, as well as Papists, to appear in arms. He took an active part in conferences with the Lords about disbandment. On 14 Dec. he was appointed to the committee of secrecy, and, after speaking in favour of Danby’s impeachment, he was among the Members ordered to prepare it. Altogether he was named to 207 committees in this Parliament, most of them for public bills or affairs of state, acted as teller in ten divisions, and made over 170 speeches.7