On November 2, 9 and 16, I will present a Film and Lecture Series at the Ladder, home of the Eighth Day Institute here in Wichita, Kansas:
From the 1534 Act of Supremacy proclaiming Henry VIII as Supreme Head and Governor of the Anglicans Ecclesiae to the late twentieth century revisionist interpretations of the English Reformation, the Church of England has occupied a fascinating and complex role in the history and heritage of Great Britain, and by extension of the British Empire, in even its former colony, the United States. This lecture and film series investigates the standard “Whig” interpretation of English history which placed the English Reformation in a timeline of progress, reform, and inevitability from the sixteenth century until the late twentieth century and its use as patriotic propaganda in the definition of “Englishness”. In juxtaposition to that view, the revisionist interpretation, with its popular roots in late eighteenth century histories by Lingard and Cobbett (and twentieth century contributions by Belloc and Hughes), controversially argues that the English Reformation was not so inevitable or so easily accomplished—and encountered heroic and enduring dissent.
November 2: The First Session includes an overview of the changing patterns of historical interpretation of the English Reformation, including academic and popular publications by A.G. Dickens, Christopher Haigh, and Eamon Duffy.
November 9: The Second Session examines By What Authority?, an historical novel published in 1904 by the former Anglican (son of an Archbishop of Canterbury!) and Catholic convert, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, exemplifying the Catholic confessional view.
November 16: The Third Session includes a showing of the 1937 film Fire over England, starring Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Flora Robson, and Raymond Massey, which contrasts English freedom and tolerance with Spanish intrigue and persecution. It concludes by addressing the connections between history and propaganda, interpretation and art.
More information about the Eighth Day Institute, which is associated with Eighth Day Books, which just celebrated its 24th Anniversary!
Earlier this month, I recorded an interview with Ian Rutherford of Aquinas and More Catholic Goods (St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Thomas More) for his Behind the Counter Catholic Radio Show. We discussed the history of the English Reformation and its relevance to us today. It will air on Saturday, November 3.