Saturday, December 29, 2007
At Christmas, in the last century, we could catch a version of The Christmas Carol on television. I enjoy the 1938 version with Reginald Owen, and the colorized 1951 Alastair Sim version. To-day, would be the day to see Richard Burton, in the movie adaptation, as the archbishop, of Jean Anouilh's play, Becket ou l'honneur de Dieu.
Thomas à Becket†1170, we remember today, is a valiant reminder who shows us the price that is taken when we grant our conscience to rise above outside and presumptive authority. Other men such as Thomas More†1535, and Stanislaus of Szczepanów†1079, suffered martyrdom for the authority of God over the local tyrant of state. It took time, but these men were canonized, their sainthood officially recognized. Virtually all of us find ourselves in a society, and state, where the ruling authority demands us, believe, that they are THE authority. We, who act on our inner voices of natural sense of justice, know that God has granted all men, reason, and reason can discern propriety within equity and justice. We are all inherently born to a developing conscience, that by nature knows right from wrong, and what is consistent and subsistent to what.
The site of Becket's murder, Canterbury Cathedral, became a great shrine of pilgrimage [re: Chaucer]. As king Henry II Plantagenet had, his former friend and chancellor, Thomas à Becket, dispatched by the words, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"; king Henry VIII Tudor had, his former friend and chancellor, Thomas More, dispatched by false witness at a political trial. Henry VIII, must have seen some similarity, had Becket's shrine destroyed, his bones burned, and his ashes dispatched. King Boleslaus II Smialy's knights, did not carry out his request, would not kill Stanislaus, his archbishop. Boleslaus wielded his own sword to clash against Stanislaus, at the altar; and had his body dismembered and dispatched.
There are way too many men who relinquish their sense to over reaching authority. Authority is circumscribed to its jurisdiction and proper scope of operation, outside this limited area it has no right to authority. Those who wield authority are prone to become unbound by their desire of egoism and self aggrandisement. In Job, God says he battled Leviathan, but everywhere there are pretenders to become a new Leviathan, a new Pharoa, a new Caesar. James Stuart and Louis Quatorse presumed, they were given their reign, by God himself, and that all who were subject to them, were completely subject to them. In the centuries before Christ, the greeks contrasted their democracy with persian tyranny. When Ptolemy gained Egypt, he was told Pharoa was a god. He said, that, he was not. They said that, then, he can't rule. Ptolemy said that, then, he'll be a god.
To-day some fraudulent quacksters say that gwbushjr is the unitary executive. This is the XXIst century avatar of Pharoa and the divine right to rule. We do not have any Beckets to-day.
King: Do you know how much trouble I went through to make you a noble?
Becket: Yes, as I recall, you lifted your finger, pointed at me and said, "Thomas Becket, you are noble." ― Anouilh
Becket: The Church is ever at variance with the kings, and ever at one with the poor. ― Tennyson
Henry: ― Sceptre and crozier clashing, and the mitre grappling the crown ― Tennyson