Archive for the ‘ Religion and Politics! ’ Category

Much Ado About Something

It really is a big deal, all this talk about religious liberty.

Yeah, yeah, I know, we don’t talk about it all that much from time to time, but it’s been in the news lately even if we aren’t calling it by name.

So, you might ask, “Why today?”

Well, back in 1672, on March 15, King Charles II of England issued a Royal Declaration of Indulgence.  It was his attempt to extend religious liberty to Protestant non-conformist and Roman Catholics in his dominions worldwide by suspending the penal laws that punished “recusants” (those who refused to attend Anglican services) from the Church of England.

Prior to this ill-fated declaration, England had undergone religious turmoil since the days of Henry VIII’s divorce from Rome and his Catholic wife, Catherine of Aragon.

The British Isles had been fighting religious wars on one side or another during the last part of Henry’s reign, his son’s reign, and the reigns of his daughters, Catholic Mary and Protestant Elizabeth.  And at the time of the declaration, not only were the Catholics in hot water, the Protestants within the protestant Church of England were too.

Rules were rules, and they’d for darn sure better not be broken!

The Stuarts (Charles II’s granddad, James I) took over when Liz died.  They were in reality, Catholics posing as Scottish Presbyterians posing as Anglicans.  Charles II’s mom was so Catholic she refused to be crowned in an Anglican ceremony and was never really queen.

Of course, all of Europe was in religious upheaval at the same time as the Protestant Reformation had been going on for years.  The Eastern World had never known religious freedom.  In the Middle East and beyond, it was the religion of the current war-lord that was en vogue.

In the United States, we’ve never had to deal with this stuff.

Sure, sure, some of our first “citizens” landed on our sunny shores for religious freedom, but most of them brought their beliefs from back home and most of them were about as tolerant as an Ayatollah.

That all changed with folks like George Washington, James Madison, Roger Williams and such.

As a matter of fact, George didn’t become a popular name in Jewish communities until George Washington went into a synagogue in New York City and promised the congregation not only religious tolerance, but religious freedom.

But back to Charles II and his Royal Declaration of Indulgence.

It was highly controversial, as most religious decrees are.  Sir Orlando Bridgeman resigned as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and refused to apply the Great Seal of England to it.

Orlando thought it was too generous to Catholics.

See, Catholics in England couldn’t enter public service, lost lands, estates, and power, and this was Charles’, who was decidedly and not-so secretly Catholic, attempt to restore much of that.

It was a big deal.

Charles’ parliament, known as the Cavalier Parliament, forced Charles in 1673 to withdraw the declaration and in is place, impose the Test Acts.

They required anyone going into public service (lords, barons, earls, dukes, sheriffs, dog catchers) to deny the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and take communion at the local Anglican church.

To Catholics, then and now, transubstantiation is pretty important.

But with the Test Act, they had to place their hand on the Bible and say “I (state your name) do declare that I do believe that there is not any transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or in the elements of the bread and wine, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever.”

If they didn’t, they couldn’t be employed.

If they did, their church taught they were bound for an eternity of torment.

At the onset, the Test Acts didn’t include the peers (lords, dukes, etc.) but they were included in the Protestant only play in 1678 which required all peers and members of the House of Commons to take the oath as well.

It went further and required them to declare against the invocation of saints, the sacrament of Mass, and of course, transubstantiation, effectively excluding Catholics from both houses.

This was in no way religious liberty, religious tolerance, or religious freedom.

It wasn’t until 1828 when the “necessity of receiving the sacrament” as a qualification for office was repealed.

Sir Robert Peel’s Catholic Relief Act of 1829 cleared that UP.

So, again, you might ask why.

Well, it’s my blog, religious freedom is important to me – not just my religious freedom, but yours too –  and the guy down the street whom I’ve never met, for that matter.

So today, when you pray, or chant, or meditate, or go to mass, or vespers, remember, this religious freedom thing, it’s not just a conversation, it’s a right, and a right many fought and died for you to have.

 

Fashion Friday: White Noise.

We haven’t had a Fashion Friday in a while, and I’m sure not a one of you has missed it!  But with all the white talk this week, well, I made me wonder.

And you know what that means!

Yes, I have to post about it.

This all came about when female Democrat legislators and senators wore white “in protest” to President Trump’s recent address to congress.  And several of my home town friends chimed in on someone else’s post. A discussion ensued as to what white is, is there such a thing as Winter White, etc.

The argument was a draw, she says she won, but I didn’t lose, so it was a draw.  Just sayin’.

Right Marcia?

But, back to the post…darn those shiny objects!

Let me just say, I’m not a white fan.

White slacks, white skirts, white shorts, white shoes, white walls, white appliances; just don’t like ’em.

White tennis shoes and tennis shorts and white cars do get passes.

Deal with it, it’s part of my crazy.

And of course if we just talk about me, this could go on awhile, so I’ll move on to white.

An achromatic color, e.g. one without a hue, white hits the eyeballs on all cylinders, er sensitive cone cells.  All things being equal to the eye, the eye tells your brain you are looking at a white object.  It is technically the presence of all colors.

WHITE

Science, medicine, anatomy – stuff like that.

The white color on television screens and computer monitors is created with the RGB color model by mixing red, green and blue light at equal intensities.  I know, I was surprised too!

White is the most common color in nature.  Sunlight is actually white, snow, milk, chalk, many minerals, and Caribbean beach sand.

In the Bible white represents purity, and in many cultures it is the color of purity, innocence, goodness, a clean slate – which I find odd since all the slates I’ve seen are black.

Another topic for another day.

Western Cultures associate white with perfection, good, honesty, cleanliness.

But, white has an even longer history.

Egyptian priestesses wore white as a symbol of purity.  Of course history tells us many of the temples were quasi-brothels, so I think they were scamming the faithful.  Isis was a big fan of white, no, not the terror group or the dog on Downton Abbey, the Egyptian goddess.

In ancient Rome, only citizens could wear white togas.  Note to drunken frat boys:  CUT.IT.OUT!

In medieval times a white unicorn symbolized chastity (and a that a fair amount of weed had been consumed.)  And widows of kings wore white as a mourning color.  When alive, the kings of France wore a great deal of white while their queens wore black.  Marie Antoinette wore all white to the scaffold, some say because that is all she had left, but ever the fashion icon, maven, and motivator, she wore it as a protest showing the nation she was, though broken and bowed, still the Queen of France…for a few more minutes at least.

History has given us White Russians, those fighting the Bolsheviks, and a really strong alcoholic libation.

White has also been used to symbolize government.  Look around, those Capitol buildings may look darker from the interstate, but they are most generally white limestone.  Pollution!

Religions like white too.  Look at the Pope, the Brahmins, Shinto, and Islam.

Early Christians picked it UP from the Romans due to the purity representation.

There’s more, but I’ll get to the point.

It’s a color.  It is obedient to the laws of nature. It has no choice in the matter.  It cannot complain when it is used to symbolize something bad or applaud when something good.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries, White has represented many different things.

Sure, sure, the purity thing is there.  Bridal gowns, christening gowns, yada, yada, yada.

In Western Culture, Black is the color of mourning.  In China, Korea, and other Asian nations, white, or most generally undyed linen is.

The Klan used white at the onset to represent the ghosts of the Confederate dead to scare recently freed slaves and “Carpetbaggers” who’d moved into the South for gain.  Today, as then, they wear white hoods because they are cowards.

Iran had a White Revolution beginning in 1963 lead by their ruler, the Shah.  His reforms included land reform, enfranchisement of women, literacy initiatives, nationalization of forests and others, all of which would lead to his downfall in the 1970s.

White is associated with peace and passive resistance.

The American and British Suffragettes chose white to represent their cause feeling they were unrecognized and white was pretty hard to miss in a parade.  But, back in the day, the Suffragettes were only fighting for votes for white women.  In the 1913 parade, held on March 3, the black women were shoved to the end of the line.  Women of color would not really get the vote until 1960.  Native Americans got it in 1957, and Latinas in 1965.

In WW I, the Great War, protesters pinned white ribbons of cowardice on men who were not in uniform.

The white rose represented a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany.  Which brings us to today.

All the women wearing white where protesting.  But for the life of me I’m not sure what. Have we lost any rights?  Or is it just that they hate the President, his policies, his programs?

If that’s it, fine.  Hate away.  It’s glaringly clear he doesn’t care, or doesn’t get it.

But I do, and with me it’s about fashion.  White before Palm Sunday and after Labor Day; well, it’s just plain wrong!  The only people wearing white before Palm Sunday are brides, and not all of them should!

Political statements be damned, laws of fashion must be obeyed!

OH, and BTW, White Noise is the noise of all frequencies of sound combined.  It is used to cover UP unwanted noise.

Metaphor anyone?

Peaceful Transfer

We as a nation are noted for our peaceful transfer of power every four to eight years.

Of course, we’re not the only nation to pull this off, France and The United Kingdom do as well, but nobody does it like we do.

Barack Obama and Donald Trump can and did trash one another on the campaign trail, but come this Friday, all will be peaceful – on their part at least.

There may be an ass or two in the crowd.

And, even though we do this like no other, the folks leaving the White House aren’t always best buds with the folks going in.

To be sure, most of the time the outgoing POTUS is present when the new one is sworn in, and most of the time, every former President alive shows UP for the party.

George HW Bush won’t be there and neither will Jimmy Carter; both are nonagenarians, so they get a pass.

The Obamas, The GWBushes, and The Clintons are slated to appear.

Frankly, that makes me proud.

But there have been a few who sent “their regrets.”

John Adams left town prior to Thomas Jefferson’s taking over.  They were bitter rivals and it was a rivalry that lasted until the day they died – literally the day they died as they died on the same day!

Adams’ son John Quincy skipped rival Andrew Jackson’s big day.  Bitter enemies, political foes, as Jackson was sure Adams had stolen the presidency from him the first go around.

Andrew Johnson felt it best he not attend the inauguration of Ulysses Grant.  Johnson’s having been impeached, but not removed from office, left a stain on his presidency, and I’m sure he was done!

Of course, when Gerald Ford was sworn in, Nixon was already on his way to San Clemente, but the transfer was peaceful nonetheless.

But, there have been times when the outgoing and incoming Chief Executives had simply put on a good show.

It could not have been easy for Jimmy Carter to smile and congratulate Ronald Reagan after the bitter campaign they both fought.  Nor could it have been easy for George HW Bush to greet The Clintons with open arms after several weeks of “…it’s the economy, stupid…”

Herbert Hoover hated FDR, and referred to him as “…a chameleon on plaid,” implying that FDR would say anything to get elected.

Don’t they all?

Hoover took his shellacking badly.  The months between the election were filled with Hoover’s pleas for FDR’s support for his policies, but FDR would have nothing to do with it.

The day before FDR was sworn in Mrs. Hoover invited the Roosevelts to the White House for tea.  As the tense meeting came to an end, FDR tried to make his inability to stand UP without help seem trivial; Hoover looked at him and said, “…once you have been in office a while, you will realize the President of the United States waits for no one, “ and walked out.

Mrs. Hoover was left to deal with the Roosevelts.

The following day as they headed to the Capitol, Hoover smiled as he greeted his successor.  But, once in the car he refused to carry on a civil conversation with the New Yorker.  Not knowing, or not realizing the cameras were rolling, he sat in silence.

FDR recovered by waving his top hat to the crowd and smiling the big smile a nation would come to love.

Truman and Eisenhower were much the same.

But it didn’t start out that way.  Truman suggested in 1948 that IKE run for office and Truman would be his VEEP!

When IKE decided to run as a Republican, things fell apart. Truman campaigned for Adlai Stevenson, the Democrat of course, and trashed IKE daily.

IKE caved to GOP pressure and failed to defend his friend and comrade George Marshall.  Truman saw this as treachery, and when IKE allowed himself to be photographed with Joseph McCarthy, well, HST had had it!

He said, “This much is clear to me;  A man who betrays his friends in such a fashion is not to be trusted with the great Office of President of the United States.”

IKE was pissed.

But, IKE won.

In a move that was meant to be a kind gesture, Truman arranged for IKE’s son John to be flown home from Korea to attend his father’s inauguration.  IKE was afraid it would be viewed as his son getting special treatment.  Things started to boil over on the big day in 1953, and IKE had threatened to break tradition and refuse to ride with Truman in the procession.  But, he caved and they two sniped at one another the entire way.

Eisenhower asked Truman – only moments before he was sworn in – “I wonder who is responsible for my son John being ordered to Washington from Korea? I wonder who is trying to embarrass me?”

Truman, still the Commander in Chief said, “The President of the United States ordered our son to attend your inauguration.  The President thought it was right and proper for your son to witness the swearing in of his father to the Presidency.  If you think somebody was trying to embarrass you by this order, then the President assumes full responsibility.”

O.U.C.H!

A few minutes later, IKE was the POTUS, and Truman was on his way to Missouri.

IKE did send a thank you note for Truman’s kind gesture.  But the two were never cordial, never buddies, and Truman wasn’t hesitant to be critical of the new President.

The two men didn’t bury the hatchet until they met at JFK’s funeral, when they shared a limousine to and from the cathedral.  When IKE dropped Truman off, he invited the Eisenhowers UP for a drink.  There in the sad gloom after JFK’s service they put their long bitterness aside, finally setting an example we can follow.

The transfer of power, well, it’s not perfect, but it’s peaceful.

Every Year

It’s that time again.

 

I’ve posted this several times before and plan to do it every January 16th as long as I’m blogging.

It’s important to me.

It’s important to the nation.

Religious Freedom is one of the basic human rights, and a right guaranteed by the US Constitution.

Today is the anniversary of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

My favorite President, Thomas Jefferson, wrote it back in 1777.  I wasn’t there.  We didn’t discuss it, but if we had, I’d have cheered him on.

The statute was the first of its kind in America, and is one of three things Jefferson insisted be put on his tombstone.

Jefferson's Tomb at Monticello

He wanted the statute along with his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and his founding of the University of Virginia engraved for all eternity.  He was proud of it, and he should have been.

There was no real religious freedom in the American colonies.  Virginians had to belong to the Anglican Church to hold office, Baptist preachers were put in jail for speaking their conscience and minds, and the Puritans/Congregationalists of New England banished most who were dissenters, including Roger Williams, the Baptist founder of Rhode Island.  Even the Catholics had a state of their own, Maryland.  George Calvert aka Lord Baltimore, was a Catholic follower of King Charles II.  Charlie was a closet Catholic and a good friend of Calvert.  Calvert was granted a colony charter by the King allowing Catholics to worship freely.  That freedom wouldn’t come to Great Britain for nearly a hundred years.

So, why is today so important?  Well, religions and religious freedoms in America are under attack.  Biblical interpretation is decried, poo-poohed and dissed at every turn.

Muslims, Jews, Baptists, Catholics, and the rest…they are all  under attack.

But, America is a nation of Freedom OF Religion, not a nation of Freedom FROM Religion.  It simply means that you can have one if you want, decide not to have one if you so desire, and you can’t keep anyone else from worshiping at the place of their choice.

So, today, when you pray or choose not to, remember that a tall red-headed patriot from the foothills of Virginia authored the document that gave us the beginnings of our Religious Freedom.

And be thankful for that.

 

Just in case you’d like to read the statute:

An Act for establishing religious Freedom.

Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;

That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do,

That the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;

That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical;

That even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind;

That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry,

That therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right,

That it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it;

That though indeed, these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;

That to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;

That it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;

And finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.