Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Bard in Times of Persecution - Today

As the official anarchists seem daily to increase the probability that traditional marriage and the family will be redefined into a state of limbo, one must ask how shall Catholics who hold firm to the Church's teachings and practices of faith and morals cope with the status of being outlaws on the one hand (from the viewpoint of the laws of the land) and the state of being the persecuted, on the other? That traditional marriage and the family are being lauded in this round of culture wars should not make one think formidable foes are not making headway in kicking down standards of faith and morals.

But before trying to address this difficult situation in which the majority lose the right to choose what is "for the people and by the people," let me say that it is not simply the Catholic families who will be facing perpetual coersion to accept, teach, and live diometrically opposed to their consciences regarding faith and morals. It will be also be persecution of persons who embrace orthodox Christian teaching, evangelical, mainline, fellowship, fundamentalist, of every ethnic group, race, and creed if such laws as this are enacted

How shall we live with integrity in what was once a Christian nation in a spiralling vortex of degeneracy? May I suggest that we open our English lit books to what is becoming more and more a fact about Catholics who lived during the (so-called) English Reformation?

In her book, Shadowplay, Claire Asquith joins a growing host of scholars who show that the Bard of Stratford not only died a "papist", but lived as one too. In a fine article in Godspy, one may read portions from Shadowplay. It is not for nothing that René Girard says that he learned much of what came to be mimetic theory by his close reading of Shakespeare. A remarkable examination of Shakespeare's understanding of the nature of kingship, power, violence, and human nature makes for extraordinarily entertaining and educational viewing in Looking for Richard by Al Pacino (that's right, Al Pacino).

Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity at Cambridge has also shown that beyond what passed as "officially" acceptable behavior during the English Reformation did not destroy "Mary's dowry," Catholicism in England. (Do not neglect to read and subscribe to Saint Austin Review, especially the Jan./Feb. 2007 issue, ”The Quest for Shakespeare.”)

All persons who cherish the Judeo-Christian tradition that has brought so much dignity, truth, beauty, and goodness to the human race, revealed perfectly in the "Word made flesh" (Jn 1,14), and who do not want to see this tradition erased by yet another neo-pagan utopian project this time based on sexual politics and the persecution of Catholic truth, still have a great teacher in William Shakespeare.


Henry Karlson said...

Of course evidence suggests that one of Shakespeare's first plays was about St Thomas More! I still wish most publications of his works included this in it -- they always go right over it as if it didn't exist!

David Nybakke said...

Welcome Henry, it is great to see you. I have meant to leave a comment on half a dozen of your posts over at Vox Nova, but ... to be honest I haven't felt up to your knowledge/skill level. Vox Nova has a lot of great and thoughtful reading in it. What we have found, just as Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, ofmcap has found, that Rene Girard has some very profound thoughts to add to our understanding of things.

Anyway, we hope that you would get a chance to check out Rene Girard A Theater of Envy: William Shakespeare sometime and are able to integrate MT into some of your reflections.

Henry Karlson said...

Vox Nova is an interesting experiment -- because there is a diversity of thought and people who are involved with it. Some people assume we all agree with each other on all issues (obviously we do not!), although I think it is true to say that we all agree to pursue our thought within the dictates of Catholic Social Thought. My own posts might tend to confuse readers, and the current series I am writing, I plan not to post replies to the comments until the series is over -- saves me time but also, it allows me not to be diverted into side debates. I have been amused at what many people said in those comments, however.

Speaking of Girard, one day I plan to read through a few of his writings (when I am done with my dissertation work).The little I've read has made me want to compare some of his thought with some of de Maistre's (do you know if he ever reference de Maistre in his writings?)

David Nybakke said...

Girard and de Maistre are referenced here and in The Girard Reader. A few selections from Violence and the Sacred. There may be other references, however I am not at my Girard library right now. I just know that Girard's thought can have a profound effect on how one looks at ... everything.

Henry Karlson said...

Just looking over it, I am sure there will be many similarities and possibly some differences (although I think many people also misunderstood de Maistre, especially those influenced by Isaiah Berlin, who tried to place him with the ideology of Nazi Germany!).