Fascism and the Church

 

Fascism and the Church.

John XXIII

On 11 April 1963, Pope John XXIII issued the encyclical “Pacem in Terrris,” his formula for “universal peace.” Early on, he states that Private property is a right, but that that right “entails a social obligation as well.[1]

Things start to become interesting on item 25: “The Right to Emigrate and Immigrate,” since all people enjoy citizenship in that universal society, the common, world-wide fellowship of men.

He claims that state officials do not derive their authority from the consent of the governed, but from God: “Hence it is from Him that State officials derive their dignity, for they share to some extent in the authority of God Himself,” citing Pious XII, the one who condemned the US for insisting on establishing a government without the wise counsel of the church, that is, of himself.

If you make it as far as item 94, you’ll find this jewel:

  1. A special instance of this clash of interests is furnished by that political trend (which since the nineteenth century has become widespread throughout the world and has gained in strength) as a result of which men of similar ethnic background are anxious for political autonomy and unification into a single nation. For many reasons this cannot always be effected, and consequently minority peoples are often obliged to live within the territories of a nation of a different ethnic origin. This situation gives rise to serious problems.
  2. It is quite clear that any attempt to check the vitality and growth of these ethnic minorities is a flagrant violation of justice; the more so if such perverse efforts are aimed at their very extinction.
  3. Indeed, the best interests of justice are served by those public authorities who do all they can to improve the human conditions of the members of these minority groups, especially in what concerns their language, culture, ancient traditions, and their economic activity and enterprise.
  4. It is worth noting, however, that these minority groups, in reaction, perhaps, to the enforced hardships of their present situation, or to historical circumstances, frequently tend to magnify unduly characteristics proper to their own people. They even rate them above those human values which are common to all mankind, as though the good of the entire human family should subserve the interests of their own particular groups. A more reasonable attitude for such people to adopt would be to recognize the advantages, too, which accrue to them from their own special situation. They should realize that their constant association with a people steeped in a different civilization from their own has no small part to play in the development of their own particular genius and spirit. Little by little they can absorb into their very being those virtues which characterize the other nation. But for this to happen these minority groups must enter into some kind of association with the people in whose midst they are living, and learn to share their customs and way of life. It will never happen if they sow seeds of disaffection which can only produce a harvest of evils, stifling the political development of nations.

Any notion that immigrants must integrate into their new home is thus rejected. The idea of the American “melting pot” firmly replaced for that of the “salad bowl” a stupid argument that was raging in our colleges when I attended NYU in the early 80s.

Following his dictum on immigrants, we find this beauty on refugees: “…we must include his right to enter a country in which he hopes to be able to provide more fittingly for himself and his dependents. It is therefore the duty of State officials to accept such immigrants…

That is, the duty of the state is no longer to protect its borders and regulate immigration, but to open its doors to any and all desiring to come hither. Residence in industrialized nations, according to the Pontiff, is a basic human right of all inhabitants on Earth.

He also envisioned the UN as an arbiter of last resort: “May the day be not long delayed when every human being can find in this organization [UN] an effective safeguard of his personal rights…

And thus, a few of the issues that plague our political discourse today entered the political arena: From the division of our society into “minorities” to the movements to protect illegal migrants and refugees, the following decades saw a rise in all kinds of domestic organizations promoting these issues. Not surprisingly, behind every action to create “Sanctuary Cities” to mobilizing marches for the rights of illegal aliens, the hand of the church is clearly discernible.

Paul VI

In 1971, Paul VI added his two cents to the discussion in an Apostolic letter, “Octogesima Adviens.” [2] In it, to the already stated problems of minorities, refugees and the obligation of industrialized nations to pony up to ease the “suffering” of underdeveloped countries (echoes of which are more than clearly discernible in the recently gutted Paris Accords), the Robed One added this:

  1. While the horizon of man is thus being modified according to the images that are chosen for him, another transformation is making itself felt, one which is the dramatic and unexpected consequence of human activity. Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation. Not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace – pollution and refuse, new illness and absolute destructive capacity – but the human framework is no longer under man’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family.

The Christian must turn to these new perceptions in order to take on responsibility, together with the rest of men, for a destiny which from now on is shared by all.

In the Pontiff’s mind, industrialization and the taming of the environment was an “exploitation of nature” that had gotten out of hand threatening the entire human family. Of course, this is nonsense. Technological advances have done more to solve these problems than to create them, and opposition to science and development have a more ancient root. Ask Galileo.

Paulo VI couples this with Leo XIII’s call for “social justice”, the underpinning of modern Fascism: “Justice, therefore, demands that the interests of the working classes should be carefully watched over by the administration.” It is spelled out in Rerum Novarum[3], which as early as 1891 lays the foundation of the Church’s opposition to Capitalism and promotes a mixed economy, regulated by the state as the “Christian” thing to do. One can say, without fear of error, that this singular theory, coupled with Socialist discourse, forms the basis of Italian Fascism, perhaps the reason why Mussolini found it so easy to reach an Agreement, the Lateran Treaty with Pope Pious XI[4], returning to the Church what it had lost in 1871: sovereign territory. By 1933, the Perfect Fascist, according to the government slogans, was an Italian who loved God, the Fatherland and Family, in that order.

It was the same Pious XI who gave us in 1931 “Quadragesimo Ano”[5] a long document celebrating the 40th anniversary of “Rerum Novarum.”

In Quadragesimo Ano, Pious XI expanded the former proposing a “reconstruction of the social order” along the lines of Italian Fascism, “For if the class struggle abstains from enmities and mutual hatred, it gradually changes into an honest discussion of differences founded on a desire for justice, and if this is not that blessed social peace which we all seek, it can and ought to be the point of departure from which to move forward to the mutual cooperation of the Industries and Professions…For certain kinds of property, it is rightly contended, ought to be reserved to the State since they carry with them a dominating power so great that cannot without danger to the general welfare be entrusted to private individuals.”

This social doctrine was successively restated and somewhat amplified by all successors to the throne of Peter.

John Paul II in “Redemptor Hominis”[6]: “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption.” And under whose reign, Italy was forced to renew the accords of the Lateran Treaty, due to expire, but only after years of violence, assassinations and open sedition forced the Italian government to capitulate and not only confirm the extraterritoriality of the Vatican, but deliver its educational system for good measure. This grotesque treaty, signed at Villa Madama in 1984[7], will be the subject of another blog soon.

Benedict XVI, in a letter to the diplomatic corps at the Vatican[8]: “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment.

And last, but not least, the guy who calls Capitalism “the dung of the devil”[9], Francis, whose Encyclical, Laudato Sí[10], is the most unabashed defense of Fascism to see the light since Mussolini was hanged upside down at a gas station in Milan.

And now the route map is complete.

Whenever you wonder where all the venomous and divisive nonsense that plagues our political discourse, from irrational “environmentalism” — with all the “global warming” garbage included — to the defense of unchecked immigration, the unqualified acceptance of refugees, and the balkanization of our society into myriad minority islands came from, all you need to do is look in the general direction of Rome.

So much was recognized by Howard Dean, still smarting from his defeat in the Democratic primary but having received the consolation prize of Chairman of the DNC, was happy to declare in an interview in C-Span: “I don’t know why Catholics don’t vote massively for the Democratic Party. After all, our platform is the Social Doctrine of the Church.” If you think he was kidding, read the Social Doctrine[11].  At least in this point he was in agreement with former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachov, who in an interview with Italian and Spanish newspapers said that the 1991 coup marked the end of “Stalinist socialism” but not of “true socialism” which he said is “tied to the concepts of social justice, freedom, equality, the general framework of human values. In short: we promote the cause of Christ. The search for truth, humanity, justice and spirituality are eternal values.”

And so we now have an alliance of the Democratic Party, European Socialism and the Catholic Church culminating more than two centuries of activism dedicated to the sole purpose of undermining the government of man by man.

[1] http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-xxiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem.html

[2] http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/apost_letters/documents/hf_p-vi_apl_19710514_octogesima-adveniens.html

[3] http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum.html

[4] http://www.concordatwatch.eu/topic-841.843

[5] http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19310515_quadragesimo-anno.html

[6] http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_04031979_redemptor-hominis.html

[7] http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/archivio/documents/rc_seg-st_19850603_santa-sede-italia_it.html an English translation can be found here: http://www.concordatwatch.eu/topic-39221.843

[8] http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2007/january/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20070108_diplomatic-corps.html

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/world/americas/in-fiery-speeches-francis-excoriates-global-capitalism.html?mcubz=1

[10] http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html#_ftn10

[11]http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html

The Danelaw Origins of the American Revolution

The Danelaw Origins of the American Revolution,

or how the Norse Started it All.

By Saul M. Montes-Bradley, II

 

A few years ago, I wrote an article on the American Revolution of 1689[1], in which I underlined the role it played in laying the foundations of that of 1775, and traced its origins to East Anglia in the 16th Century.

I stated then that the reasons which led our forbears to rebel against the authority of King and Parliament could be traced to the liberties won during the Reformation and then threatened by the royal prerogatives that Charles I was attempting to reassert.

I was on the right track but, as further scrutiny would have it, I was completely wrong in giving all the credit for those liberties to the Reformation.

The reader will recall that most of the folk who came thither during the Great Migration hailed mostly from the Five Boroughs and Yorkshire. That was the area were non-conformists were most prevalent, where opposition to the king’s taxation policies was most active, where resistance to the church of England was most virulent, and where most of our ancestors came to the realization that it was worth the while to face untold uncertainties across the Atlantic, that they may preserve that which they held dear.

It also happened to be a very singular and distinct area of England from the time of the Danish invaders turned to farming, and remains so to our days. And I believe it is precisely this singular heritage that shaped what would one day become the American Revolution and that it begun to take shape in the 9th Century.

The Danelaw

The Danelaw, c. 878

While a full account of the settlement of the Danes in Yorkshire and East Anglia is well beyond the scope of this article, suffice it to say that, beginning in the IXth Century, bands of Danish and Norwegian raiders led by Guthrum, most likely a son of Horda-Knut Sigurdsson, begun to ravage the lands north and east of England followed, as became custom, by settlers. Eventually, these bands controlled an area extending from Chester, down Watling Street (an old Roman road) to the Lea and then along the Thames to the sea. Slowly and painstakingly recovered by Ælfred the Great, this area was restored as an independent political body under Æthelred “the counsel-less” and again during the reign of Knut, thus preserving its own traditions, laws, forms of land ownership and language, and came to be known as the area in which those laws held sway: the Danelaw. A state of affairs that remained mostly unchallenged to the day of our immigrant ancestors and, in some degree, to our own days.

Ælfred, king of Wessex

It is this set of laws and traditions that our ancestors applied to their settlements immediately upon arrival in New England.[2]

While most of the histories of the Danelaw deal mostly with military matters and that almost universally from a Saxon perspective, R. H. Hodgekings gives us a unique perspective into the legal system and customs of the Danes as opposed to those of the Saxons. And a clear idea of the area they occupied at the time. According to a treaty signed by Ælfred and Guthrum to prevent quarrels among Danes and Saxons that could lead to war, the Danish area was defined as those encompassing the lands comprised between the Thames, then up to the Lea and along the lea to its source, then straight to Bedford, and then up the Ouse. The treaty — and Guthrums defeat by Ælfred at the battle of Edington — led to the Peace of Wedmore in 878. By its terms, Guthrum accepted baptism, Ælfred adopted him as a son, and Guthrum returned to East Anglia as king of the Danes. Later, Ælfred and his successors, Edward I “the Elder” and Æthelstan, reconquered the land, but the Danelaw remained as a distinct cultural and legal area.

Æthelstan presenting a book to St. Cuthbert, National Portrait Gallery, London
Parker Chronicles, oldest of the surviving manuscripts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, c. 890
Baptism of Guthrum at Aller, near Athelney, by Ælfred, 878. He took the name Æthelred, same as Ælfred’s brother, above.

Sir Frank Stenton provides more insight into the land and social structures. He goes further in explaining some of the Danelaw’s institutions, comparing them with those of Wessex. A case in point would be the wapentake, the classic land division of the Danelaw, which Stenton compares to the hundred of Wessex. He ventures that the word wapentake itself derives from vapnatak, wherefrom the Old English wapentac, noticing the symbolic flourishing of weapons by which a public assembly confirmed its decisions. A singular precursor to New England’s Town Meetings’s practice of raising the sword hand to the same purpose.

This wapentake was divided into carucates (land ploughed by one team in one year), and bovates (same as the ox-gang). There was a further subdivision, the manslot, or land allotted to one free settler.

The Wapentake also lent its name to periodic meetings, a precursor to the Town Meetings of Massachusetts Bay, a kind of Parliament and Court. The freemen that labored in the division voted by show of weapons, which were then counted.

There are still some Wapentakes in existence in East Anglia for certain administrative functions.

A key difference to note here is that while the English Parliament could only meet when summoned by the king at his will, the Wapentake met of its own authority and can be said, on this basis alone, to be the real precursor of the Massachusetts Bay’s Meetings and Courts, and not its English counterpart.

Some of the differences he finds in law are most telling; including that of the wergild for a man’s slaying which in the Danelaw was determined by the man’s rank, while in Mercia it was determined by the man’s Lord’s rank. Not quite a technicality.

According to Stenton, the Wantage Code of Æthelred was not a rewriting of the legal code of the Five Boroughs, but rather the King’s assent that the customary laws of the area should remain in force, in itself, and admission that the codes developed from Scandinavian sources and that they were already a part of the polity in the area. Even the terms used are of a Scandinavian rather than Saxon origin.

An example of this is the ploughland, split into eight ox-gangs, which made the standard land unit. Each ox-gang was assigned to a man who could contribute one ox to an eight-ox team. The Saxons, instead, used the system of hideage, based on the amount of land needed to feed a peasant’s household. We can already begin to see the difference between the freeman-farmer in the Danelaw and the peasant-serf in Saxon lands.

But, perhaps more relevant to us was the soke. That is, property owned by peasants which, according to Stenton: “while owing service and taxes to the lord of the area, were not under his direct ownership, allowing the peasants some degree of autonomy, and freedom from the rents of the lord given to those tenants on his personal land.”

Indeed, William the Conqueror’s survey of all property in his new realm, ordered in 1085 and started in 1086, which is known to us as the Doomsday Book — a clear reference to Tax Day —, perhaps the most complete work of its kind to this day[3], reveals that in England about 14% of the population owned their land, as opposed to a meager 7% average in the rest of feudal Europe. But closer scrutiny reveals that most of England was not that far from their counterparts in the continent. The numbers are skewed by land ownership in the Danelaw where it approached 65%! An island of yeoman farmers in an ocean of feudal serfs.

Doomsday Book, National Archives, London

According to Dr. Cyril Hart, these singular laws and customs extended to five main areas: the Northern Danelaw (that area around York that constituted the old kingdom of Deira); the Five Boroughs of Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham, Stamford and Derby; the Southern Danelaw in Buckinghamshire, Herfordshire, Middlessex and Essex, briefly under Danish control; the Eastern Danelaw in Norfolk and Suffolk; and the Outer Danelaw, in those lands between the Southern Danelaw and the Five Boroughs.

Any student of the Great Migration will not fail to see a most striking coincidence between these places and the points were the vast majority of our Puritan and Pilgrim ancestors originated.

But the similarities do not end in the division of lands or the condition of freemen of the yeomen farmers. One of the codes of Edgar permitted the Danes to exercise their rights “according to the good laws they can best decide on,” including those in matters of religion. A practice our ancestors imported into the Town Meetings and General Courts, and a right they strenuously defended against any encroachment from king or Parliament from the moment they landed in America.

Even the architecture in early New England bears a striking resemblance to that of East Anglia at the time — no surprise there, since most of the early carpenters hailed from East Alglia — and the Yankee twang to this day carries the musical tones of East Anglian accents, most especially the somewhat harsh, high-pitched, nasal “Norfolk whine.”

East Anglia wood-frame house
1630 house in New England, built by East Anglian carpenters

It was then their condition as freemen and freeholders that our ancestors were defending against the encroaching of Charles I. It was their freedom from taxes; it was their parliaments’ independence from the whim of the king and their independence in matters of religion. It was, indeed, long held liberties that they were defending — those consented to by Alfred and Æthelred — not any newly acquired privilege; and that was the reason why some of them rose against the crown and others came to America after the Crown was no more. The Reformation must then be seen not as their source of inspiration, but as the inevitable consequence of their strenuous defense of their polity.  Non-conformism might have been a sin in the eyes of the Church, treason in those of the Crown, and a political nuisance to the Lord Protector, but for the yeoman farmers of the Danelaw it was their ancestral right, their way of life, and the essence of their world.

Death of Wat Tyler, who led the 1381 Peasant Revolt in East Anglia and the sougheastern counties, as Richard II addresses the crowd.

Thus, for eight centuries the Danelaw folks rose in successful peasant revolts, tax revolts, civil wars and revolutions on both sides of the Atlantic, against every monarch that attempted to impose his prerogative over their ancient rights, defending the principles and privileges they had enjoyed  since the times of Alfred and Guthrum:

The very principles and privileges that were finally enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and that we now hold as our most cherished heritage.

 

[1] Tell King Charles We’ll Pay No Taxes, Flintlock and Powderhorn, Vol. 19, Number 2, Fall 2001, p. 20; also posted in this blog: https://www.saulmontes-bradley.com/tell-king-charles/

[2] Massachusetts Body of Laws and Plymouth Compact

[3] “there was no single hide nor a yard of land, nor indeed (it is a shame to relate but it seemed no shame to him to do) one ox nor one cow nor one pig which was there left out, and not put down in his record.” [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed., D. Whitelock, pp.161-62] As stated above, a hide refers to the standard unit of assessment used for tax purposes. It was meant to represent the amount of land that could support a household, roughly 120 acres.

 

 

The author is a 35th great-grandson of Ælfred the Great, king of Wessex through his son, Edward I “the Elder”; and a 42nd great-grand nephew of Guthrum, king of the Danelaw Danes by virtue of descent from Horda-Knut Sigurdsson.

Abandonment Theology

It has been nearly 20 years now since I delivered this lecture in Orlando, Florida. It is perhaps a testament to the immutability of nonsense that today I can publish it without changing a single word:

Abandonment Theology and the Wall of Separation

by Saul M. Montes-Bradley

Lecture delivered at the Annual Meeting of the

Sons of the Revolution in the State of Florida

19 April 1999

 

One of the purposes of our organization is “to underscore the wisdom which devised the system of checks and balances that provides opportunity and freedom for all.”

I entertain the notion that we, both individually and as a group, take that mission seriously.

Recently, a Compatriot, sincerely worried about the events in Littleton, Colorado, presented me with chapter II of a book entitled “Abandonment Theology.”  The tract purported to state the reason for the “moral decline” that “affects our country” and leads it down the path to tragic events such as the one in the Colorado school.  Citing rising crime rates as proof of “God’s anger” towards America, and in support of these theses it cites alarming statistics provided by a certain “David Borton of Wallbuilders, Inc.,”[1] while claiming that falling SAT scores are the inevitable consequence of having “outlawed God in our schools.” It then rails against this alleged outrage which, it claims, was based on “a single decision in 1947 by Justice Black in Everton vs. Board of Education[2]” while stating this decision was in clear contraposition to the idea of a wall between Church and State that the Founding Fathers intended to be “one way” only[3], based solely — the author claims — on “a letter from Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association.” The author goes on to further claim that this letter was “out of the context” of the debates on the Constitution.

While I am a Doctor in Theology, I do not consider myself a theologian, nor do I intend to bring you into so convoluted territory at this point.  And I do not believe that I am uniquely qualified in constitutional matters. However, the author of this libello makes some claims that are not just patently untrue, but dangerous to those freedoms and liberties that I, and we, hold dear, and those must be addressed.

In writing his opinion in Engle vs. Vitale, Justice Black did, I am sure, consider “Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association” (it was, in fact, addressed to “Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and others” of the said Association). Its contents can hardly be considered out of the context of the debates on the Constitution, in spite of having been written “years after the First Amendment had been ratified” — not that many years as it turns out. The letter was written on 01 January 1802, while events were still fresh in Jefferson’s mind.

Justice Hugo Black

In any case, I cannot believe that Justice Black’s considerations ended in this single letter, and it is to be assumed that many other legal, historical and moral issues were heavily weighted by such a conscientious man of Law. In the end, it was not just Justice Black, but a majority of the Court, on several occasions, that upheld the issue of separation, their opinion being, as of this date, still the Law of the Land. The independence of the Court’s decisions in these matters is one of the principles we are sworn to uphold.

The Supreme Court’s decision notwithstanding, the author goes on to affirm that, “in Jefferson’s mind,” the “wall of separation” was really a “one-way wall,” and that “Justice Black, without precedent, made it a two-way between Church and State.” At no time does he let us know by what mysterious device he is in knowledge of the intimate thoughts of Jefferson’s mind.[4] Nor does he give any reasoning in support of his statements, preposterous as they may be. It would have been hard indeed to do so, because all evidence points to their falsehood.

Unlike the author of “Abandonment Theology,” I do not claim to know what was on Thomas Jefferson’s mind; this was known but to him and the Almighty.

Thomas Jefferson

But Jefferson did give more than one statement referring to the “wall of separation,” which, together with those of other Founding Fathers, will present a clearer picture:

 

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural rights in opposition to his social duties.”[5]

He then continues his idea on another occasion:

“In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken, on occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State and Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.”[6]

And again,

“The eastern states will be the last to come over, on account of the dominion of the clergy, who have got a smell of union between church and State, and begun to indulge reveries which can never be realized in the present state of science. If, indeed, they could have been prevailed on us to view all advances in sciences as dangereous innovation, and to look back to the opinions and practices of our forefathers; instead of looking forward, for improvement, a promising groundwork would have been laid. But I am in hopes their good sense will dictate to them, that since the mountain will not come to them, they shall better go to the mountain:  that they will find their interest in acquiescing in the liberty and science of their country, and that the Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity of its benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expression of the human mind.”[7]

In a letter to John Adams, Jefferson expands on his observations to the members of the Danbury Baptist Association:

“In coupling Connecticut with you [those of Massachusetts], I mean it politically only, not morally.  For having made the Bible the common law of their land they seem to have modeled their morality on the story of Jacob and Laban. But altho’ this hereditary succession to office with you may in some degree be founded in real family merit, yet in a much higher degree it has proceeded from your strict alliance of church and state. These people are canonized in the eyes of the people on the common principle ‘you tickle me, and I will tickle you.’ In Virginia we have nothing of this.”[8]

As if his alleged intention of protecting the church from the state and not the other way around were not made clear in the paragraphs above, he yet returns to the question:

“In truth, the alliance between Church and State in England has never made their judges accomplices in the frauds of the clergy; and even bolder than they are. For instead of being contented with these four surreptitious chapters of Exodus, they have taken the full leap, and declared at once that the whole Bible and Testament in a Lump, make a part of the common law. ante 873: the first judicial declaration of which was by this same Sir Matthew Hale. And thus incorporate into the English code laws made for the Jews alone, and the precepts of the Gospel, intended by their benevolent author as obligatory only in foro concienciæ; and they own the whole with the coercion of municipal law. In doing this, too, they have not even used the Connecticut caution of declaring, as is done in their blue laws, that the laws of God shall be the laws of their land, except where their own contradict them; but they swallow the yea and the nay together. Finally, in answer to Fortescue Alland’s question Why the ten commandments shall not now be a part of the common law of England? We say they are not because they never were made so by legislative authority, the document that has imposed that doubt on him being a manifest forgery.”[9]

On occasion, what Jefferson does not say is equally telling. On 4 August 1818, in a report of the commissions of the University of Virginia, perhaps his dearest institution after the forging of the nation, he says:

“Encouraged, therefore, by the sentiments of the Legislature, manifested in this statute, we present the following tabular statements of the branches of learning which we think should be taught in the University, forming them into groups, each of which are within the powers of a single professo

I. Languages, Ancient: Latin, Greek, Hebrew.

II. Languages, Modern: French, Spanish, Italian, German, Anglo-Saxon.

III. Mathematics, Pure: Algebra, Fluxions, Geometry, elemental, transcendental, Architecture, military, naval.

IV. Physico-Mathematics: Mechanics, Statics, Dynamics, Pneumatics, Accoustics, Optics, Astronomy, Geography.

V. Physics, or Natural Philosophy: Chemistry, Mineralogy.

VI. Botany, Zoology.

VII.       Anatomy, Medicine.

VIII.    Government, Political Economy, Law of Nature and Nations, History – being interwoven with politics and law.

IX. Law, Municipal.

X. Ideology, General Grammar, Ethics, Rhetoric, Belles Letres, and the fine Arts.”[10]

Nowhere to be seen are religious subjects. Perhaps because Jefferson believed that these were to be taught in religious institutions and had no business in the state’s schools. That was the position that a number of great theologians like Dr. Samuel Lunt Caldwell D.D., LL.D. continued to espouse during the rest of the 1800s.

So much for Jefferson and the one-way wall.  Indeed, if the thought ever crossed Jefferson’s mind, it must have been in relation to his stated fear and loathing of church encroachment in the affairs of state.  He was, in this respect, in the most impressive company, like that of Dr. Benjamin Franklin:

Dr. Benjamin Franklin

There is no doubt but the Claim of Parliament of Authority to make Laws binding on the Colonists in all Cases whatsoever, includes an Authority to change our Religious Constitution, and establish Popery or Mahomedanism if they please in its Stead: but, as you intimate Power does not make Right; and as the Right is nothing and the Power (by our Increase) continually diminishing, the one will soon be as insignificant as the other.”[11]

 “I am fully of your Opinion respecting religious Tests; but, tho’ the People of Massachusetts have not in their Constitution kept quite clear of them, yet, if we consider what the people were 100 years ago, we must allow they have gone great Lengths in Liberality of Sentiment on religious Subjects; and we may hope for greater Degrees of Perfection, when their Constitution, some years hence, shall be revised. If Christian Preachers had continued to teach as Christ and his Apostles did, without Salaries, and as the Quakers now do, I imagine Tests would never have existed; for I think they were invented, not so much to secure religion itself, as the Emoluments of it. When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig’d to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”[12]

The issue was, as it was to be expected, amply debated in 1787-89. In speeches, the press, correspondence and the ratification of the Constitution in the States. Again, a picture quite different from that espoused by the “Abandonment Theology” appears:

… all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding; and that no man ought, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any ministry, contrary to or against his own free will and consent; and that no authority can or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner control, the right of conscience in the free exercise of worship…[13]

 “Tyranny is the exercise of some power over a man, which is not warranted by law, or necessary for the public safety . . . In some nations, legislators have derived much of their power from the influence of religion, or from that implicit belief which an ignorant and superstitious people entertain of the Gods, and their interposition in every transaction of life.  The Roman Senate sometimes availed themselves of this engine to carry their decrees and maintain their authority. This was particularly the case, under the aristocracy which succeeded the abolition of the monarchy. The augurs and priests were taken wholly from patrician families. They constituted a distinct order of men — had power to negative any law of the people, by declaring that it was passed during the taking of the auspices. This influence derived from the authority of opinion, was less perceptible, but as tyrannical as a military force. The same influence constitutes, at this day, a principal support of several Governments on the Eastern continent, and perhaps in South America.  But in North America, by a singular concurrence of circumstances, the possibility of establishing this influence, as a pillar of Government, is totally precluded.”[14]

 Indeed, as of this very day, more than two centuries after Noah Webster’s words, the backward and theocratic institutions of South American nations clearly prove him right.  May the Good Lord deliver us from those who would like to see us sink in the barbarian hold of a state church!

And what about the claim that religion in our public schools will serve to “tame the beast” and “restrain” the dark impulses of our students? Again, the debates on the Constitution provide some insight as to the Founders’ opinions:

Religion. The inefficacy of this restraint on individuals is well known. The conduct of every popular Assembly, acting on oath, the strongest of religious ties, shows that individuals join without remorse in acts against which their consciences would revolt, if proposed to them separately in their closets… Even in its coolest state, it [religion] has been much oftener a native to oppression than a restraint from it… The same security seems requisite for the civil as for the religious rights of individuals. If the same sect forms a majority and have the power, other sects will be sure to be depressed. DIVIDE ET IMPERA, the reprobated axiom of tyranny, is under certain qualifications the only policy by which a republic can be administered on just principles.”[15]

I will therefore make up the deficiency by adding a few words on the Constitution proposed by our Convention. . . . I will now add what I do not like. First, the omission of a Bill of rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the press… Let me add that a bill of rights is what people are entitled to against every government on earth, General or particular, and that no just government should refuse or rest on inference.”[16]

 “It is true, we are not disposed to differ much, at present, about religion; but when we are making a constitution, it is to be hoped, for ages and millions yet unborn, why not establish the free exercise of religion, as part of the national compact?”[17]

 “But in this state, we have never thought it expedient to adopt a test-law; and yet I sincerely believe we have as great a proportion of religion and morality, as they have in England, where every person who holds public office, must either be a Saint by law, or a hypocrite by practice. A test-law is the parent of hypocrisy, and the offspring of error, and the spirit of persecution. Legislators have no right to set up an inquisition, and examine into the private opinions of men. Test-laws are useless and ineffectual, unjust and tyrannical; therefore the convention have done wisely in excluding this engine of persecution, and providing that no religious test shall ever be required.”[18]

 “The Right of conscience shall be held inviolable; and neither the legislative, executive nor judicial powers of the United States shall have authority to alter, abrogate or infringe any part of the constitutions of the several States, which provide for the preservation of liberty in matters of religion.”[19]

 This last paragraph was presented, nearly verbatim, as a proposed amendment to the Convention before the final vote, on 12 December 1787, by Mr. Robert Whitehill, of Pennsylvania, but it was not noted upon and read, so that the articles might eventually be taken collectively as a bill of rights, or separately as an amendment, at a later vote.

This later vote came and, as a bill of rights, the articles were adopted; albeit with some stronger language:

Article I: Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”[20]

 That the intent of the Founding Fathers, by their own pen, was to protect the church from undue state intervention as a guarantee of freedom of religion, as well as to protect the state from encroachment at the hands of the clergy is sufficiently clear. That by this device they intended, ultimately, to protect religion from the vagaries of a democratic system’s political seasons may not be so clear. Alexis de Toqueville, in that outstanding study of American political and social institutions, “Democracy in America,” thus summarized the issue:

Religions intimately united with the governments of the earth have been known to exercise sovereign power founded on terror and faith; but when religion contracts an alliance of this nature, I do not hesitate to affirm that it commits the same error as the man who would sacrifice his future to his present welfare; and that in obtaining a power to which it has no claim, it risks the authority which is rightfully its own. When a religion founds its empire only upon the desire of immortality that lives in every human heart, it may aspire to universal dominion; but when it connects itself with a government, it must adopt maxims which are applicable only to certain nations. Thus, in forming an alliance with a political power, religion augments its authority over a few and forfeits the hope of reigning over all. . . . In proportion as a nation assumes a democratic condition of society and as communities display democratic propensities, it becomes more and more dangerous to connect religion with political institutions; for the time is coming when authority will be bandied from hand to hand, when political theories will succeed one another, and when men, laws, and constitutions will disappear or be modified from day to day, and this not for a season only, but increasingly. Agitation and mutability are inherent in the nature of democratic republics, just as stagnation and sleepiness are the law of absolute monarchies.

If the Americans…who have given up the political world to the attempts of innovators, had not placed religion beyond their reach, where could it take hold in the ebb and flow of human opinions? Where would be that respect that belongs to it? Amid the struggles of faction? And what would become of its immortality, in the midst of universal decay?

The American clergy were the first to perceive this truth and to act in conformity with it. They saw that they must renounce their religious influence if they were to strive for political power, and they chose to give up the support of the state rather than to share its vicissitudes. In America religion is perhaps less powerful than it has been at certain periods among certain nations; but its influence is more lasting.”[21]

Having, I believe, helped to clarify the matter of the Founding Fathers’ position as it relates to the “Wall of Separation” between church and state, we can return to the “Abandonment Theology.”

The chapter then goes on to claim that falling SAT scores are a consequence of “outlawing God in Public Schools.” This is doubly preposterous.

  • First, because God has not been outlawed in Public Schools, as it has been clarified ad nauseam. Organized prayer in public schools was justly found to be unconstitutional and that is the extent of the Court’s decisions.
  • Second, because to assume that organized prayer is the one thing responsible for our children’s success in standardized tests does not bear argument. Were it to be so, I must respectfully submit that we send our teachers home, do away with the educational system altogether and pray instead for knowledge to be given our children by divine intervention. We will all save enormous amounts in property taxes.

This same absolute lack of sense is the cause of the alarmist and ill-founded analysis of dubious statistics taken out of any meaningful context. It does absolutely nothing to improve the lot of our students but, rather, increases the level of confusion and angst in which they must already develop.  What the author continually does is assume that two things happening together, one must be the cause of the other. In logic, this kind of reasoning is called a post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) falacy – The cock crows, and the sun comes up, but the cock does not make the rise. When this kind of analysis is used to “explain” horrific events such as Littleton’s as a consequence of our society’s “moral decline” and of the general corruption of values throughout our educational system, it does a disservice to the great majority of the people in the system and to the victims of these events.

To point a finger at all students for “lack of morals and corrupted ways,” because of the actions of an isolated psychopath or a handful of deranged characters is utterly unjust, hurtful to those involved in real incidents, and better left unsaid.

The truth is that millions of children attend school uneventfully every day of every year. That violence, where it exists as more than an isolated event, is the province of those schools located in already violent areas of society, the solution to which lies without rather than within the school system; and that knee-jerk reactions to events while lacking the most rudimentary bit of information about the facts themselves contribute to the problem and do absolutely nothing to help.

Which will not stop those who wallowing in their own sense of compassion cannot give themselves time to think and reason.  Nor will it stop those who will opportunistically take advantage of every unguarded moment that offers the lure of Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame, and an opportunity to indulge in that most godly American activity: to make a buck.

Thus, when events such as Littleton take place, some will blame the availability of handguns although none were used. Others will blame the “outlawing of God in Schools” as if the Creator were of such vile disposition as to visit punishment on the innocent for the transgressions of the sinful, and as if such banishment could in fact be implemented (read my lips: there is no such thing), and vociferously rave for mandatory prayer conducted in some sort of hand-holding ceremony by someone, anyone, but all together! Paraphrasing H. L. Mencken, balderdash, and poppycock!

No law ever prevented criminals from getting whatever weapons they set their minds in obtaining, and those in Littleton were no exception. In securing their weapons, these kids violated several state and federal laws. A few more would have made no difference.

And no amount of preaching and praying and Hosannas to Heaven will prevent a psychopath from performing his ghastly deeds, as every mass suicide or murder with religious overtones from Waco to Jonestown to Uganda has proved one sickening time after another.

Both sides are consistently disingenuous. Neither are weapons so readily available to teenagers, nor is God “banned” from school or, for that matter, from anywhere else. Nor, I would argue, can the Father of us all be so banned.

That said, it is only in the passionate defense of the separation of church and state that we will guarantee the ultimate survival of both church and state. And it is by an equally passionate defense of the rest of the covenants of the Bill of Rights that we will guarantee our own survival.

Having been born in Argentina, where I lived through most of my early years, I know what it is to live in a slightly veiled theocracy. My American ancestors, who migrated there in the early XIXth Century, were not free to practice their faith, were not allowed to marry, were not allowed to register the birth of their children and were not allowed to be buried in local cemeteries unless they converted to the local church.

  • In 1976, we had to endure unspeakable harassment to be able to cremate my grand undle Richard as the practice was condemned by the Church.
  • As late as 1989, legislators were being publicly threatened with excommunion should they vote favorably for a law allowing divorce.
  • Until 1997, the elected President had to make a public profession of faith, in accordance with the mandate of the local church, before being allowed to take office.

I was, then, for many years, as my family was before me, deprived of the enjoyment of civil religious rights, and can apodictally state that no task before us is more imperative, nor duty more sacred, than their upholding.

Even when the savagery of isolated events may make us waver in our determination or, perhaps, then more so.

Whether it be the intolerance of the Argentine Catholic Church, or the stranglehold effected by orthodox sects over the Israeli Knesset, or the abuses of the Mullahs in Iran, or the tests imposed by the Anglican Church, it makes no difference. Whenever and wherever religious institutions were allowed to exert direct influence into the affairs of the state, people suffered and, in the end, the system failed.

The admonitions of our Founding Fathers as to the fleeting nature of religious homogeneity in our country were, as usual, quite correct.  Within our lifetime, we will see the Protestant denominations become a minority in America (Protestants are already in a minority in the Supreme Court). I wonder if these advocates of religion in the affairs of state are prepared to see their children being forced into religious services not their own. While it would serve them right, I cannot rejoice in the prospect.

And thus, for those who insist in bringing religion into the realm of politics, let Thomas Paine answer from our collective past:

Here ends the examination of your testimony; (which I call upon no man to abhor, as you have done, but only to read and judge fairly;) to which I subjoin the following remark: “That the setting up and putting down of kings,” most certainly mean, the making of a king, who is not yet so, and the making him no king who is already one. And pray what hath this to do in the present case? We neither mean to set up not to put down, neither to make nor to unmake, but to have nothing to do with them. Wherefore your testimony in whatever light is viewed serves only to dishonor your judgement and for many other reasons had better had been let alone than published. First, because it tends to the decrease and reproach of all religion whatever, and it is of the utmost danger to society, to make it a party in political disputes. Secondly, because it exhibits a body of men, numbers of whom disavow the publishing political testimonies, as being concerned therein and approved thereof. Thirdly, because it hath a tendency to undo that Continental harmony and friendship which yourselves by your late liberal and charitable donations hath lent a hand to establish and the preservation of which, is of the utmost consequence to us all. And here without anger or resentment I bid you farewell. Sincerely wishing, that as men and Christians, ye may always fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil religious right; and be, in your turn, the means of securing it for others; but that example which ye have unwisely set, of mingling religion with politics, may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America.”[22]

 

[1] Actually, crime rates in all categories, as reported by legitimate sources (FBI, National Sheriff’s Association, etc.) have fallen to their lowest level in decades. More than 35% in 1998 alone!  By the Abandonment Theology’s reckoning, we would be lead to believe that God must have been particularly pleased with our current state of affairs.

[2] In Everton vs. Board of Education (1947), in fact, the Court upheld bus subsidies granted by the state of New Jersey. The issue at hand was whether the states could subsidize children’s bus fares to public and parochial schools.  In the majority opinion, Justice Black noted that the State of New Jersey had, in its subsidies, “aided all its citizens without regard to their religious beliefs.”  And he further wrote that the Establishment clause “requires the state to be neutral in its relations with groups of religious believers and non-believers; it does not require the state to be their adversary.” Perhaps in anticipation of a ruling expected in a later case (McCollum vs. Illinois, 1948), Justice Black stressed that, while the state must “accommodate” religion, it cannot “pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.” States cannot “support any religious activities… [or] teach or practice religion.” It was in this context that Justice Black then quoted Jefferson’s letter of 1802 to some members of the Baptist Convention of Danbury. In 1962, Justice Black wrote the decision of Engle vs. Vitale, striking down the practice of reciting a prescribed prayer in a New Hyde Park, New York, school. Citing the same Jefferson letter, he stated that the Establishment clause: “must at least mean that in this country it is no part of the official business of government to compose official prayers for any group of American people to recite as part of a religious program carried out by the government.”  Again in 1963, and in the face of a demand from some groups for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court decisions, the court took Abington Township v. Schempp; a case it could have refused referring to a school in which the Bible was used to “bring lessons in morality to children.”  Justice Tom Clark, a southern conservative, wrote the decision striking down this practice and reaffirming the Court’s position in the earlier decisions.

There are other Supreme Court decisions on the separation of Church and State.  The author seems to confuse and reverse the meaning of those he quotes.

[3] Implying that the separation was to prevent the State from meddling in church affairs, but not the other way around!

[4] Perhaps, the author, so that he may become informed of Jefferson’s state of mind, resorted to the ancient practice of haruspication, and by carefully reading into chicken livers came to a better understanding of his inner thoughts.  Or, perchance, he practiced instead scapulamancy and, by careful study of that chicken’s spealbone or shoulder blade, came to an understanding that eludes us.

[5] Thomas Jefferson.  Letter to Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and others, a committee of the Danbury Baptist Association in the State of Connecticut, 01 January 1802.

[6] Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 04 March 1805.

[7] Thomas Jefferson, letter to Moses Robinson, Washington, 23 March 1801

[8] Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, Monticello, Virginia, 12 October 1813.

[9] Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, Monticello, Virginia, 10 February 1814.

[10] Thomas Jefferson, Report of the Commissioners of the University of Virginia, Monticello, Virginia, 04 August 1818.

[11] Benjamin Franklin, letter to Samuel Mather, London, 07 July 1773. Note the early analysis of the decreasing power of England over the Colonies, as well as the pun on Increase Mather, an ancestor of Samuel’s.

[12] Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, Passy, 09 October 1780.

[13] Samuel Bryan, Reply to Wilson’s Speech, Centinel, Freeman’s Journal, Philadelphia, 24 October 1787.

[14] Noah Webster, A Citizen of America, Philadelphia, 17 October 1787.

[15] James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, New York, 24 October 1787

[16] Thomas Jefferson, reply to Madison, Paris, 20 December 1787

[17] Letter IV, Federal Farmer, 12 October 1787

[18] Lawrence Taliaferro to James Madison, Rose Hill, Orange Co., Virginia, 16 December 1787

[19] Dissent of the Minority of the Pennsylvania Convention. Pennsylvania Packet, Philadelphia, 18 December 1787.

[20] Bill of Rights. Articles in addition to, and Amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

[21] Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1993, Vol. I, p. 308-312.

[22] Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Dover Publications, 1997, Epistle to the Representatives of the Religious Society of the People called Quakers &tc., p. 57, 58

Perpulchra

Perpulchra
(to Gila)

Eleanor of Aquitaine was good looking. Very good looking. Perpulchra, said of her Geraldus Cambrensis, who knew how to say very good looking in Latin and that is why they published his books. And when she turned fifteen, she became an orphan. Very orphaned. With an inheritance left by daddy that included some land from the Mediterranean to the British Channel.

Filthy rich, orphaned and perpulchra.

Louis VII, King of France by the Grace of God, who sometimes is inclined to test us thus, lifted up his ears when the sages in his Privy Council enumerated the reasons for him to marry Eleanor. That was not the only part of his anatomy that suffered a lift. And since he was a chaste Christian king, he immediately ordered a cold bath and submerged himself in it until his ears returned to a normal size. In this he spent a few days after which, with Franc determination, ordered his Council to start preparations for the wedding.

When Eleanor found out that the King had determined to make her his bride, she had a tantrum. Now, just now that she was finally free, that damn frog comes here wanting to end the fun before it could even start! But, a royal order is a royal order and Eleanor, who had many idiosyncrasies but was no fool, prepared for the nuptials.

As soon as they said “I do” in front of the Bishop, Louis took her to his palace across from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. And as she first beheld her new abode…she had another tantrum.

Louis VIII and Eleanor of Aquitaine

Cheap, stingy bastard frog! — Some claim she screamed at Louis as she surveyed room after room with no curtains, carpets or any of the comforts of her home in Aquitaine. It was not an auspicious beginning to their married life.

It didn’t get any better.

Following the wise counsel of his priest, who claimed to know a lot about these things, Louis informed Eleanor that they would only share a bed to make heirs and to sleep. No hanky panky. That’s why they called him “the Chaste.” Eleanor called him a number of things, but chaste was not one of them.

Soon, while Louis spent his time between kingly business and cold baths, many of his friends, allies, nobles, visitors, servants, neighbors and a couple of Japanese tourists made their way to greet the Queen in her quarters, which she had duly appointed with the curtains and carpets she missed and all the necessary furniture, including a very large round bed and an emergency exit.

Among the most frequent visitors was Geoffrey of Anjou who, in spite of his name, was quite a handsome lad. Over the following four years, Louis and Eleanor had one daughter, Marie, corresponding to an equal number of conjugal visits. During that same time, Louis sent into exile some 50 noblemen, poets and diverse Court attendants for displaying excessive familiarity with the chief Courtesan.

More or less at this stage of the soirée, suitcase in hand arrived in Paris Eleanor’s younger sister who, for reasons that history does not tell us, had been burdened with the name of Petronilla. Name aside, it seems some qualities run in the family. Petronilla was way more beautiful than her name suggested.

The sisters got to doing what sisters do after a prolonged separation, and spent several days and their nights gossiping nonstop and telling each other their troubles. Both had them in spades. Those of Eleanor, of course, we already know. Petronilla’s problem was that she had fallen head over heels for Raoul de Vermandois. He was a dashing young man of good family, playful and loving like no other, but with a problem. Well, not really a problem: a wife. He was married to Eleanor, daughter of Stephen, Count of Blois and Champagne, and it appears that he had to drink several cases of her father’s famous bubbly to come anywhere close to the missus. To get close to Petronilla he didn’t even need a glass of water.

Thus Eleanor began her intrigues in favor of her sister. Soon, they convinced the Bishop of Noyes, coincidentally Raoul’s brother, and the bishops of Senlis and Laon — perhaps because Louis vaguely referred to the integrity of the one thing that differentiated them from nuns— to annul the marriage of Raoul with the Champagne gal alluding to a heretofore unknown state of consanguinity. Nobody even mentioned that their family relation was nowhere near as close as, say, that between Louis and Eleanor. That subject would come up later.

A day after the annulment, the same three bishops married Raoul and Petronilla, giving the new union the requisite Divine blessings. As the bride and groom retired to consummate what under no circumstances could be called hymenæus, Louis and Eleanor returned to Paris for the relief of all, especially of Louis who could not stand his sister in law and craved some peace.

That peace was not to last long.

A few days later, when the Count of Champagne open the castle door to find his daughter, former Countess of Vermandois, deflowered, disgraced and sent packing, he went berserk. He spent several days mouthing all kinds of obscenities in French, which sounds so much better. The Count of Champagne was a very polished fellow and everything he said he said it in French. When he run out of obscenities, he went to see Bernard de Clairvaux —a cousin who was launching a new religious order, the Cistercians, while the town gossips where betting that anything with such a name could not possibly take off. Then as now, town gossips never understand a thing. Bernardo, naturally, depended on his cousin the Count for financial support down to the purchase of underwear, if he had used any. For at that time nobody did.

Bernard de Clairvaux

As monks go, Bernardo was a fairly decent writer, so he wrote a letter to Pope Innocent —he really wasn’t— in terms so eloquent, that Innocent could not but take quick and firm action. And very firmly he excommunicated the Bishop of Noyes, suspended the bishops of Senlis and Laon, annulled the annulment of the marriage between Raoul and the daughter of the Count of Champagne, annulled the marriage of Raoul with Petronilla and sent a letter to Raoul demanding that he return to his wife and throw the whore of Aquitaine out of his house.

Innocent was not nearly as sophisticated as the Count of Champagne, but we can overlook that because he was neither French nor a count. The fact that Innocent was counting on the munificence of the Count of Champagne and the assistance of Bernard de Clairvaux in the preparation of a little crusading enterprise played no role in his decision. Those are fallacies planted by people with bad intentions.

Pope Innocent

It is hard to describe Eleanor’s reaction when word got to her in Paris. Louis’ is even harder.

A whore?—Eleanor was heard screaming— a fricking whore? Who the crap does that dress wearing SOB think he is! And you! —now looking at Louis— Damn Parisian sissy! You are going to let that impotent fool say that about your wife’s sister!

Louis didn’t say anything but moved closer to his guards, just in case.

And so it went, day after long day. Until Louis could no longer hide and called his army and marched towards Champagne to have a few words with the count. In a very friendly manner he began to lay waste to anything he encountered on a road that, coincidentally, led to Clairvaux.

Bernardo did not like the way things were looking. And even less the direction things were taking. So he did what he did best, and wrote another letter to Innocent begging for a Papal intervention.

What do you want me to do now? — wrote back the Pope — didn’t you want me to annul that which we have annulled and disallow the annulment that we have disallowed? So? It’s done!

Bernard took some time to figure that one out. Innocent didn’t write nearly as well as Bernard and tended to get into complicated sentences for no reason. That is precisely the reason Innocent was Pope and Bernard wasn’t. After some thinking, he wrote the Pope with a proposed solution: If Louis is laying waste to my lands because you annulled the marriage of Raoul and Petronilla and disallowed the annulment of that between Raoul and the Champagne girl, well, now you annul the disallowment of the annulment and disallow the annulment of the disallowment and done! Let’s see if Louis wants to spend more money in the war without the raison d’etre!

Ma che catzo! — exclaimed the Pope — The French are crazy! And was absolutely convinced that the bubbly in the Count of Champagne’s cellars had something to do with Bernardo’s prose.

Bernardino, caro figlio! — He replied — What the crap are you talking about? If I disallow the disallowment of the annulment and annul the annulment of the disallowment we go back to square one and then what? The wine guy comes after me like a Berber, closes your monastery and we’re toast!

No problem — wrote Bernardo — As soon as the Chaste goes home and releases his army, you disallow the annulment of the disallowment of the annulment and confirm the disallowment of the annulment and let’s see if he can find the copper to raise another army.

Madonna! — said the Pope wondering why the heck wasn’t he a Buddhist, surely the Dalai Lama didn’t have to deal with this kind of crap.

However, Bernardo’s letter did contain an absolute truth, and anyone who didn’t get it could be told that it was a Mystery of the Church and presto! So off to write he went. And after a month, Petronilla was back with Raoul, Louis with Eleanor, the count’s daughter pouting in her room, and the Count of Champagne saying all the obscenities he had said before but in French, which always sounds so much more sophisticated, n’es pas?

But no sooner had they all settled in that the new Papal letter arrived, believe it or not. But this time Innocent did not call Petronilla a whore, just in case.

Louis was so happy and relaxed after months of defending his sister-in-law’s honor, and was so well received by Eleanor, that later they had to name it Alix, a new Princess. And soon after, he received the new letter from Innocent.

A pox on that bleeding bastard! — said Louis, who could say anything he wanted because he was King and no one dared question him (except for Eleanor, who could but didn’t). And without wasting time, off he went again to Champagne, where he intended to have a friendly conversation with Bernard de Clairvaux.

The results of Louis’ expedition to Champagne never made it to Innocent for, curiously enough, just at that very moment he decided to croak. Louis helped a new guy, Clement, to mount the throne of Rome — other mounts he mounted without Louis’ help. And since one favor deserves another, Clement disallowed the annulment of the disallowment of the annulment…well, you know what I mean.

Thus, Raoul of Vermandois and Petronilla of Aquitaine lived happily ever after and engendered a whole tribe.

Happiness is not what followed the return of Louis’ to Paris as Alix was born.

What? Another wench? — He exclaimed — That won’t do! The guys at the coffee shop are giving me tutus and dolls and call me mama! — He did not know they called him a number of other things, too. Eight years, for crying out loud! Eight years, no heir and all I have to show for them are two girlies!

Eleanor of Aquitaine and Alix, playing “The Court of Love.”

What he didn’t say is that besides the lack of a male heir, he was getting tired of getting the horns every time he went out for a walk, and if he kept sending lovers into exile soon there was going to be no one left in France to make him a cup of coffee. So, taking advantage of his new friend in Rome, he got himself an annulment on the grounds of…You guessed it: consanguinity! It took him eight years to remember Eleanor was his cousin! Could happen to anyone.

Clement, who had no inclination to pick up a fight with Louis and who wanted to finally launch that bloody Crusade to the Holy Land to evict from Jerusalem those ignorant barbarians who ate with a fork, used perfume, and God knows with what evil intent took daily baths (no end to their perversity!), signed the annulment without delay and left Eleanor out to dry.

Eleanor was not amused and, as we have come to expect, had the mother of all tantrums. Per the annulment, Louis remained in charge of HER lands until she married again, what he had no intention to allow. And so Eleanor went to visit her old friend and playmate Geoffrey of Anjou to whom, in between bouts of horizontal exercises, she told her problems.

Geoffrey the Plantagenet, Count of Anjou

No problem! — said Geoffrey, who was married to the Empress of England because at that time the English did not even think of crowning a woman. — You marry my son, Henry, and let’s see if that fruit has the nuts to come against us.

With your son? — said Eleanor unable to hide her disappointment. — But I thought…

Henry II “Curtmantle”

No, darling — said Geoffrey, the one with the plant on his head. — Matilda is the one with the mullah here. And if I let Shorty go (Matilda was 4.2) we all end up in the poorhouse and there’s no way I’m starting over. Plus, without metal, the frog will trounce us.

So, six weeks later Eleanor married Henry of Anjou before Louis could even find out. When Louis did find out, this time the tantrum was his. And I cannot repeat what he said, French or not.

Eleanor had a slew of children with Henry who, not for nothing was called “fornicatur excelsus” by the same gossip, Geraldus Cambrensis, who called Eleanor “perpulchra.”

In time, Henry became Henry II of England, because somebody beat him to the name and he could not be Henry I. And besides the slew of children he had with Eleanor, he sired a great deal more with others in miraculous numbers that, somehow, did not make it to the Annals of the Saints.

The children inherited the vigor and temperament of their parents and became players in the greatest dust-ups of their times. Richard and John, in particular, received a lot of attention although neither could bed Lady Marion.

As this things go, Eleanor eventually separated from Henry and spent a lot of time in the north of France jumping from one bedroom to another until, tired, old, arthritic and wasted in a general state of decay, she entered the convent of Fontrevault — not without an impressive if surely disinterested donation — where he gave up the ghost, vox Papam, a Saint!

Louis remarried. This time, he fired the spiritual counselor and made out like a rabbit until the awaited heir was produced after which he went to the Holy Land to get away from his wife.

Henry II Curt mantle (because he wore short skirts to facilitate you-know-what, did not spend a single moment of his life by himself and, missing Eleanor — apparently the other few hundred did not measure up to her beauty or prowess — eventually leaving his kingdom to Richard and then John who continued the family tradition albeit with some colorful variations.

But that is another story.

 

 

Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine are the author’s 24th-35th great-grandparents, several dozen times, through John “Lackland” and Isabell Taillefer, and through Eleanor of England and Alfonse VIII of Castile. Talk about inbreeding!

The Sharia Law Canard

The Sharia Law Canard

For months now, I have been witness, with not a small degree of astonishment, to a crescendo of voices opposed to what they term the “danger” of the “imposition” of Sharia law in the US.

Try as I might, I cannot see any logical basis for the claim. Recently, the cacophony has grown to hysterical proportions, with calls for demonstrations and warnings of the end of the world as we know it if Sharia Law is not “banned.”

I have news for the anti-Sharia warriors. It is already banned. It has been since 1789. The second clause of Article 6 of the US Constitution clearly states:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

In other words, unless Sharia Law, by some kind of magical devise, is made a part of the US Constitution, it is not, nor can it be the Law of the land. Neither can Canon Law, the Napoleonic Code, Salic Law nor any other system of laws ever devised or to be devised by the mind of Man.

None, that is, unless, a constitutional amendment manages to garner massive support and is ratified by the legislatures of 38 states; but only after it gets a two thirds majority in the US Senate and House of Representatives.

Surely, a Muslim population of no more than 1% (yep, a whopping 1 percent), not all of whom are particularly endeared to the finer points of Sharia Law, cannot by any rational process be considered to have such overwhelming legislative power.

So, why the hullabaloo?

If Sharia is not—and by any stretch of the imagination cannot be—the law of the land, why would so many be so vocally calling for its banning? There are only two possible answers:

1. These people are dumber than a doorbell.
In their unabashed stupidity and ignorance, they actually think that somehow, a minimal fraction of the population can impose a foreign law on the rest of us by means of black magic or other such process. They know not our Constitution, nor the basics of our legal system, and are thus intellectually free to assume that we may one day wake up to a country ruled by the primitive legislation of an alien source.

2. They are moved by basic undiluted bigotry.
That is, their visceral resentment of anything that does not sound, smell or look familiar, including the peculiar tenets of an alien system most Muslims in the US escaped from. Which brings us back to point 1. This is not a new phenomenon, though social media has given it a heretofore unattainable reach. I can hear echoes of those who feared the Irish would bring “Popery” to our shores—in fact, they did, in much larger numbers and only to be diluted into the melting pot. Or that the Jews would eat our babies in strange secret rituals—of course, they didn’t, though there are still lunatics out there that maintain such imbecilities.

All of this is a distraction from real issues, as it has always been.

Terrorism, the scourge of our time, is trivialized by palookas fighting ghosts and antagonizing our natural allies in our real struggle to defeat it. Law abiding, patriotic Muslims, even those serving in our Police and Armed Forces, are made afraid to walk the streets of the cities they are sacrificing so much to protect. And the strategy of Jihadists finds new life in the actions of dupes whose ignorance and bigotry represent a more serious threat to our open society than a thousand goat-humpers screaming Jihad in the wilderness seconds before our Muslim allies dispatch them to the special place in Hell reserved for them.
So, my dear crazies, you can sleep tonight.

No witch doctor will come thirsting for your female parts, no crazed jurist is going to order your hand cut off, and you can hold on to your brew (unless a new Christian revival makes us dry again).

The Black Shirt Pope

The Black Shirt Pope

On November 30th, 1979, Fr. José Bergoglio ordained a not-so-distant cousin of mine, Fr. Raul Bradley, SJ.

At the time, I was in Brazil, having fled Argentina earlier that year, upon being released from a Navy brig in Ezeiza.

Bergoglio & Bradley copy.jpg
F. José Bergoglio & F. Raúl Bradley

Father Bergoglio was already a relatively well-known figure in Argentine politics. All of us who had some activity during the 1970s knew about him.

That notoriety begun with his association with Guardia de Hierro.[1]

Guardia de Hierro

A Fascist group founded in 1961 by Alejandro Alvarez, aka “el Gallego’; Hector Tristán, former associate of Fascist propagandist John William Cook; and Peronist “resistance” leader César Marcos. They took their name, meaning Iron Guard, in honor of Cornelio Codreanu’s Fascist movement of the same name that savaged Romania from 1927 to 1938.

By the late 60s, Guardia de Hierro formed an association with FEN (National Student Front), a self proclaimed Marxist-Nationalist organization, and by 1972 established the oddly named Organización Unificada del Trasvasamiento Generacional (Unified Organization for Generational Trasfer), whatever the heck it means.

The following year, Bergoglio was made Provincial of the Jesuits of Argentina at the same time that Perón returned to power (viewed as a way to curry favor with the Peronists by advancing one of their own) and, as such, also took control of El Salvador University.

Based on a loose series of Marxist and proto Marxist thinkers, Guardia de Hierro claimed an ideological line from Hegel to Mao Zedong to Juan D. Perón (hard to fathom, but it’s no joke), and published their Manifesto: La Comunidad Organizada (The Organized Community), espousing much of Mussolini’s Fascism while crediting Juan D. Perón with the loot[2].  The brand of Populist Nationalism thus proposed consisted in no more than a rehash of Mussolini’s Fascio, to wit:

Social Peace in Social Justice, a rejection of American Imperialism and suppression of Communism–a system deemed “too materialistic” for the fanatical Catholicism of Guardia’s members, including Bergoglio–and participation in the “non-aligned movement”, with luminaries such as Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia, Cnel. Muammar Ghadafi of the “Socialist People’s Lybian Arab Jamahiria”, Nicolae Ceaucescu of Romania, Salvador Allende of Chile, Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt and Fidel Castro.[3]

Starting in 1973, the proud members of this illustrious organization adopted a light brown martial uniform, with arm bands that read “here we learn to love Perón”. The depredations caused by these Sturmabteilugns in collaboration with José López Rega[4] are a sad memory to many.

 

Guardia de hierro saludo
Guardia de Hierro militants, c. 1973

 

When a military Junta replaced the widow of Perón in 1976, Guardia de Hierro kept working under Admiral Emilio E. Massera[5], a fellow of López Rega’s in the pseudo-Masonic Lodge P2, controlled by the Vatican through Mons. Paul Marcinckus (an American Archbishop infamous for his dealings at the Vatican Bank), and responsible for a laundry list of terrorism related crimes until mysteriously dissolving once the Italian government capitulated and signed the 2nd Concordat with the Vatican in 1984, guaranteeing the Holy See its sovereign status and control of public education in Italy.[6]

Repairing the Façade

After the fall of the military dictatorship in the early 80s, Bergoglio went to work in repairing his image. Much was made of his supposed interventions to “save” people from the military dictatorship,[7] and very little of his association to Guardia de Hierro and the genocidal Admiral Massera.

Under Bergoglio’s guidance, the old brown shirts of Guardia de Hierro were incorporated into the Catholic Church as the Order of Mary of the Rosary of St. Nicholas (Orden de María del Rosario de San Nicolás), where to this day they continue to promote Fascism and the Church’s Social Doctrine, still in association with the Peronist party. Many prominent Peronists have been “guardians” of the Order, such as José Octavio Bordón, José Luis Manzano, Julio Bárbaro and Guillermo Moreno.

Vicar of Christ

Bergoglio’s ascension to the Papacy brought with him his abject Fascist ideology. Not that his Hitlerjugend predecessor was much better, but that is another story.

The echoes of Guardia de Hierro’s Fascist Manifesto, The Organized Community, can be discerned in his social and economic pronouncements:

On free markets and Capitalism:

“And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”[8]

“What the Church criticizes is the spirit that capitalism has encouraged, utilizing capital to subject and oppress the man.”[9]

“Capitalism has been the cause of many sufferings of injustice and fratricidal fights.”[10]

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”[11]

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”[12]

“Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. … To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption.”[13]

“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment.”[14]

On income inequality:

“While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”[15]

“I think so-called unrestrained liberalism only makes the strong stronger and the weak weaker and excludes the most excluded. We need great freedom, no discrimination, no demagoguery and a lot of love. We need rules of conduct and also, if necessary, direct intervention from the state to correct the more intolerable inequalities.[16]

On technological advances:

“Although no conclusive proof exists that GM cereals may be harmful to human beings, and in some regions their use has brought about economic growth which has helped to resolve problems, there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated. In many places, following the introduction of these crops, productive land is concentrated in the hands of a few owners due to “the progressive disappearance of small producers, who, as a consequence of the loss of the exploited lands, are obliged to withdraw from direct production.”[17]

On American immigration policies:

‘Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our ‘neighbors’ and everything around us.”[18]

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian.”[19]

On Terrorism:

“Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”[20]

Epilogue

And thus, we come to see sitting on the chair of St. Peter the most virulent anti capitalist–not that his predecessors were ever too much for individual freedoms.

Yet, Bergoglio’s unique brand of Fascism combined with the training for obfuscation at which Jesuits have traditionally excelled, gives us the most dangerous combination of propaganda skills and hatred of a free society that we have had to confront in generations.

 

 

Maduro & Francis.jpg
Pope Francis blessing Venezuela dictator Nicolás Maduro, 2016

 

[1] Alejandro Panda, one of the leaders of Guardia de Hierro in the early 70s recalls: “A group of comrades with whom I was associated at the time, even though I was not working at the [University of ] El Salvador, but with the Dean, Francisco Piñón, who is today the Dean of the Catholic University of Cuyo. He was in charge of USAL [University of El Salvador, a Jesuit college under the office of Bergoglio], and we had a very close relationship with the Jesuits in general and with Bergoglio in particular.”

“After the death of Perón, Bergoglio became close to the members and later protected them during the dictatorship of General Videla. “More, Bergoglio was close to Piñón and some members of Guardia de Hierro. Alvarez does not mention him [in his memoirs], because he was not in that cell.”

(Alejandro C. Tarruela, Guardia de Hierro, de Perón a Bergoglio, Buenos Aires, 2016)

[2] Still available in later editions. See Juan D. Perón, La Comunidad Organizada, Buenos Aires, 2010.

[3] All but Tito and Castro (although Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado came in his representation) eventually made it to Buenos Aires. I still have the “Green Book” that Ghadaffi’s entourage presented to the students in my school. Allende and Dorticós signed as witnesses at the inauguration of Héctor Cámpora, a Perón stand-in that lasted 49 days.

[4] There was at a time a confrontation between López Rega, then the boss of paramilitary groups chasing the government’s opposition, and Guardia de Hierro, as he considered them “Trotskyites”, but the issue was eventually resolved. In fact, of course, they were not Trostkytes at all…

[5] In 1977, Massera placed retired Navy Capt. Carlos Brussone as head of Guardia de Hierro. That same year, the University of El Salvador, under Bergoglio’s stewardship, granted the genocidal Admiral an Honorary PhD.

Massera was condemned to life imprisonment for “crimes against humanity” in 1985. He was however pardoned only five years later by President Saul Menem, a Syrian-Argentine, and died in 2010. His funeral was kept in secret and was attended by 10 people. [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/nov/10/emilio-massera-obituary]

[6] http://presidenza.governo.it/USRI/confessioni/accordo_indice.html

[7] In fact, he did very little or nothing, except protect Guardia de Hierro militants which are now touted as “persecuted” by the dictatorship they served!

[8] Speech at the World Meeting of Popular Movements, La Paz, Bolivia 10 July 2015. I strongly recommend reading the entire speech: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/07/10/pope_francis_speech_at_world_meeting_of_popular_movements/1157291

[9] Jorge Mario Bergoglio, ed., Diálogos entre Juan Pablo II y Fidel Castro, Buenos Aires, 1998

[10] Idem

[11] 2013 Apostolic Exhortation. (a fallacy of the false premise, a Jesuit’s favorite)

[12] Evangelii Gaudium, Sec. 54

[13] Laudato si. 2015, Sec. 50

[14] Laudato Si, Sec. 56

[15] Idem, Sec. 56

[16] La repubblica, 1 October 2013. Italics are mine. Note: by liberalism he means not “liberals” in the US political sense of the word, but in the traditional sense, i.e. Capitalism. This is, incidentally, the best synthesis of Mussolini’s Carta di Lavoro that I have seen.

[17] Laudato si, Sec. 134.  Lovely Jesuitism: Nonsequitur. Technological advances in quality of grains cause small farmers to lose their lands? How?

[18] Address to US Congress, 24 September 2015. Another bad syllogism. Conqueror’s relations to natives, whatever they may have been, bear no relation to US-Mexico relations.

[19] CBS News, 18 February 2016, Rebecca Kaplan

[20] La Croix, 17 May 2016. Classic Jesuitism: ISIS is not Islam, but we’re going to call it Islam. Conquest is an objective of Islam and Christianity, but we’re going to say it’s an objective of Islam.