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.