Monday, November 7, 2016

Anti-Catholic Fires.

It was Guy Fawkes Night a few days ago. OK. I am a bit late, but I have been busy.  We didn't forget. It is barely mentioned let alone celebrated in Oz, which is odd as we have a large English and Irish origin population. It is not so usual these days to have the traditional bonfire and fireworks. Well, the noise scares the animals, innit. We have our bonfire in the grounds of the Tavern of course.  Our animals are built of sterner stuff and do not need 'safe spaces'. 

The British traditions are falling away under the onslaught of American ones. Halloween, just a few days before, is more popular, but even that is not 'done' in many places. We did do 'All Saints' and 'All Souls' though and prayed and had Masses as per Catholic Tradition. Indeed, many christian religious traditions are in steep decline, and that is under the onslaught of Marxism and Atheism, and, dare I mention it, Protestantism.

And political bastadry.

No-one these days is allowed to 'insult' Islam but Chritianity is fair game. Laws 'prevent' and punish even mild criticism or derision - or even telling the truth - about that middle eastern cult which was a Satanic response to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ and the Redemption of Sinners.  You can lose your job for 'offending' Mohammeds little paedophiles. But criticism of Christianity is the stuff of talentless TV presenters and comedians who aren't funny. And while Christianity is in decline in the public square, despite its tenets being the bedrock of western civilisation, Islam is being imported, protected and carried into that square.

Muslims may complain about being regarded as terrorists but they are not prohibited from holding 'High Office' in Britain the way Catholics still are.  

Catholics are forbidden by Act of Parliament from being the Monarch, the consort of the Monarch, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 

Catholics, you see, were the 'terrorists' 500 years ago. Or so we are told. I have many Protestant friends, nice people and solidly 'christian', but it wasn't Muslims that set off and persisted with the Anti-Catholicism we still see today. It was Protestants, and they are still protesting. How was it that the real terrorists managed to 'blame the victims' so easily?

So how did this come about, someone in the Tavern asked. Fortunately Dominic Selwood was at hand to explain.
Forget the Guy Fawkes propaganda 
- the English Reformation was a violent catastrophe

The terrorists who sparked Bonfire Night were fighting a regime which imposed the protestant religion with hangings, burnings and bloodshed
At this time of year, it is traditional to burn things. Tonight especially people will gather in gardens, parks and fields to apply a match to anything combustible. Highlights of the evening’s conflagrations will include re-enactments of a good deal of religious killing.
There will be Roman Candle fireworks, an allusion to the Emperor Nero dousing Christians in accelerants and burning them alive to light his gardens. The 18-year-old Saint Catherine of Alexandria will make her annual appearance, fizzing around a sparkling wheel in memory of her condemnation to death on a spiked breaking wheel (although, so the story goes, it shattered at her touch so she was beheaded instead). 
And the pièce de résistance will be the immolation of a life-size Jacobean Yorkshireman, or - in some parts of the country - the Pope.

Anyone visiting from abroad might be forgiven for thinking that they have chosen to spend their early winter holiday in a country with more than a hint of unresolved religious tension. 
They may well twig — even if most of us do not — that the one thing all these historical characters being symbolically executed have in common is that they are Catholics. 
And they would have a point. Historically, Guy Fawkes Night was created as an explicit celebration of the .....
death of Catholic England on the pyre of the Protestant Reformation.

So how did it come to this? Why do we revel in ceremonially burning an Englishman every fifth of November?
Guy Fawkes was born in York in 1570, and is the most famous of the Gunpowder Plotters, a group of English Catholics incensed at King James I’s refusal to offer them the freedom to practice their traditional religion. Although Guy was not their leader, he was the one caught under the Lords’ Chamber with a match and 36 kegs of explosives.
Within two months of his failed terrorist attack, Parliament passed an act making church attendance mandatory each November 5. And over the next three hundred years that day — coincidentally the same day William of Orange landed in Devon to depose a Catholic king, 83 years later — became a magnet for general revelry and anti-Catholic protest.

History is written by the victors. 
The regimes of King Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Elizabeth I, and King James I made sure to bludgeoned England’s religious past into the dust, gaining for themselves the ability to define how they wanted it remembered. Guy Fawkes night was part of that process.
Today's politicians seem intent on taking it a step further and driving Christianity in whatever form into the dust. We even have a Satan-worshipper going to the election in the USA tomorrow. Hillary - the Princess of Lies.
Yet the truth is that the Reformation was not a gentle evolution achieved by a few Parliamentary acts and redrafted ecclesiastical canons. 
It was a violent rupture with our country's recent history, achieved at the point of a sword.

Only two generations before Guy's, England had been an integral part of Christendom. The island’s thinkers, writers, musicians, artists, theologians, scientists, engineers, craftsmen, and merchants were permanently plugged into the creative monolith of the Catholic West, as they had been for a millennium and a half. 
By the time Parliament passed the Observance of 5th November Act, the country was adrift from its cultural heritage, charting a course west to the New World.

"The Papists are tunneling again from Oxford, Rome, Hell, to Westminster, and there to blow up, if possible, the better foundations of your houses, their liberties and privileges.
(Sermon from the 1640s)
As the frustration and anger of Englishmen like Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby, and the other Gunpowder Plotters demonstrates, there were many who did not want to have a new religion imported into the country and imposed upon them. 
Hello ! Islam, anyone?  Forget history and you will accidentally repeat it.
In a strange twist, the Catholic faith that had sustained England for centuries was now labelled “foreign”, while the Protestant writings of Luther, a German, and Jean (not John) Calvin, a Frenchman, were positioned as the bedrock of all that was quintessentially English.

The Tudor story maintains that religious change is what England wanted. Yet it was not as simple as that. Religious reform is rarely demanded wholesale by one hundred percent of its adherents. Instead, change comes from movements coalescing around specific issues.
Plenty did NOT want religious change.
On the eve of the Reformation, there is no doubt there were small groups in England pressing for reforms. Then, as now, such perspectives were nothing new — John Wycliffe, the Oxford theologian, had been a prominent advocate for radical reforms two centuries earlier. Therefore, in the early 1500s reform was in the air in any event, although the vast majority of ordinary people were happy with their vibrant traditional religion.

The biggest movement working for change within the Catholic Church was Renaissance humanism. And one of its centres was at King Henry VIII’s court, where Thomas More — philosopher and Chancellor of England— was a leading figure. He may not have been the unblemished paragon of virtue portrayed in A Man for all Seasons, but he was undoubtedly a forward-looking Renaissance man. He taught his wife literature and music, and gave his daughters full Classical educations, a rarity in an age that did not value women’s learning.
Hmmm. I had to whack young Dominic with a wet towel for that.  Actually that was an age where men's learning was not valued either. 99% were unschooled. But heck, it has to be about the women. innit?  It was a matter of wealth, not gender.
In his humanism, he is best known as a long-term and close correspondent of the greatest living sixteenth-century humanist, the Dutchman Desiderius Erasmus, and their intellectual friendship is credited as one of the jewels of the age. Had King Henry VIII not executed More in his hurry to divorce, who knows what the ancient English Church might have become?

In the past, it has been traditional to present the Reformation as an organic intellectual wave — a fresh current quietly flowing over Europe, bringing change and 'relief' from existing sufferings. And this is one of the most interesting features of our modern perception of the Reformation, because it was anything but a quiet pulpit revolution. 
Change was effected by a brutal battle of attrition fought with hangings, burnings, and bloodshed, in England and on the continent.

Its leaders were not the benign characters we sometimes think they were either. Take Martin Luther, the architect of the Reformation. He famously turned against the peasants of Germany, denouncing them as “lying, thieving, hordes” and recommending that the nobility should “smite, slay and stay them as one would a mad dog”. Over 100,000 German peasants lost their lives in the ensuing bloodbath.
Luther also went out of his way to foment violent unrest against the Jews. In his book On the Jews and Their Lies, he recommended burning Jewish synagogues and schools, razing and destroying Jewish houses, confiscating all their religious books, preventing rabbis from any religious activities on pain of death, and a host of other anti-Semitic measures. 
He was not, it is quite plain, a man of peace filled with the love of the gospels.

The Peasants’ War in Germany was, in fact, only one of the many Wars of Religion that ravaged Europe from 1524 to 1648 in the name of religion, wreaking havoc across Germany, Switzerland, the Holy Roman Empire, the Low Countries, France, and Britain.
Here in England we had our own fanatics — men like Thomas Cromwell, who plundered the Church and universities to line his pockets and those of his henchmen, and who used the power of the State to ruthlessly murder those who got in his way, irrespective of gender or age.
As we have seen from the reactions to the book and television series of Wolf Hall, outright ahistorical inventions like a tender Cromwell and a ghoulish More can still be provocative in a society for which there remain sensitivities to Reformation-related propaganda. Which brings us neatly back to Bonfire Night.
The ins and outs of Britain’s complex religious history are no longer a prominent part of the annual fifth of November celebrations. If anything, the event is blurring into — or being overshadowed by — Halloween, at which Guy Fawkes “Anonymous” masks are becoming ever more popular. There may even be a historic case for letting the two festivals merge, as it is not improbable that, in their different ways, they each tap into aspects of our ancient fire traditions at this time of year, drawing on the medieval triduum of Hallowtide and Celtic Samhain before it.
So the question remains: in the 21st century, what should we make of Guy Fawkes and the festival that annually re-condemns him to the flames (although in reality he was hanged, drawn, and quartered)?

There is no doubt his deep grievances against Tudor and Jacobean religious persecution were real. From the outset of Henry’s self-serving reforms there had been widespread civic unrest and protest — most famously the mass uprising of the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536–7.
Elizabeth continued the crackdown on English Catholics, and by Fawkes’s day the recusants were well aware of the fate they faced if they drew attention to their plight. They were violent times, and Bonfire Night reminds us of it all too viscerally. Fawkes was guilty of treason, but in the modern day we struggle to understand the state oppression he faced in this country — just as much as we condemn the actions he and his fellow plotters undertook.
For the sake of tradition, I hope we go on roasting effigies of Guy Fawkes. It is part of the nation’s rich identity and ancient culture. But tonight, as we wait for the processions with the Guy, a small piece of me remains optimistic that somewhere, someone might just throw a large effigy of Thomas Cromwell onto the flames. Just for a change. That would, after all, be proper English fair play. Wouldn’t it?
Remember history. Don't simply believe the propaganda. The 'reformation' weakened Christendom. The results are still with us.

As I said, I have many fine, upstanding non-Catholic friends. Customers in the Tavern. Some are - let me be frank - better Christians than many Catholics I know. They may be excused blame for the anti-Catholicism of the past, and their egomaniac sect-starters, just as catholics do not need to be blamed for woeful Popes past and Archbishops present.  Such mini-heretics, carrying on their parent's religious practices with barely any deep thought, may yet swing the battle of Good against Evil, for evil they rarely are.

We drink to Guy who had the guts (for all to see at the end) to fight back against religious oppression and Government attempts to bring in false religions preached by furriners.

Many pints were downed on Guy Fawkes Night.



  1. Good to see the opposite side of the coin. Yes, Guido retained his guts due to an unfortunate fall at the last.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..