samedi 26 juin 2010

What is in a title?

Dedicated to three hearts I cherish: The Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Purest Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the old, kind heart of someone who intellectually might be my brother, since he may be academic disciple of C. S. Lewis, who, in a more informal fashion was my rhetor even before I knew there was such a thing as being "someone's rhetor", and whom spiritually I consider my Father, I have named Mgr Williamson.

The title most noble there is is Father, but there is also a title with equal nobility, Son, and Holy, which is said of the Third Person, is a title no less noble than the other too.

So, have I any right to consider C. S. Lewis and Mgr Williamson as Fathers of mine, intellectually or spiritually, according to the commandment with a promise?

I have. My father when taking care of another woman he made pregnant and their son, did not abandon me as a man without responsibility, but had his family arrange that my maternal grandparents take his place. When my maternal grandfather lay dying - it took about a month between the ulcer starting bleeding and the final heart infarctus - he confided his part in me to my grandmother or so it would seem. And she, wisely, unusually wisely, handed me to my mother when she took me back to Austria and, for one summer, US, next one to UK. My ninth birthday was in US, state of Ca.

And my mother confided me to books, next to Bible came her school books (which she had been given to keep as premiums), but also Christian books like Ergriffen? Ergreife! being a German translation of some US author saying bad manners and morals stem from bad self-esteem, stem from considering oneself the brothers of monkeys and first cousins of pigs and cats and dogs and second cousins of birds of every feather as well as snakes ... Can we know? by Dale and Elaine Rhooton being an apology for the intellectual certainty in the Gospels and Bible and their story (by the way, they were not opposed to Darwinism as to its pretence of science, neither was C S Lewis), and then there were some three authors more than the rest: Nicky Cruz was one of them, i think he is still alive, and I was just thinking about The Cross and the Switchblade which I read in Comic book format, Richard Wurmbrandt, who left earthly troubles after millennium, I think, was one "living martyr" under Communist oppression, but more than both I was ultimately marked by ... C. S. Lewis.

Narnia, the Seven Chronicles, helped me a great deal in learning English, I had read the Swedish translation and then read the English original, with a dictionary at hand where and when needed. That Hideous Strength I tried to read back in Austria, and only read much later as sequel to Out of a Silent Planet and Perelandra in my teens, thanks to the excellent library of Sigtuna, started as library of the very ecumenical Sigtunastiftelsen but is also municipal library of that august town. But in Malmö I read Surprised by Joy. And when visiting Oxford, I bought every collection of essays by C. S. Lewis I could get, not forgetting some other works like Pilgrim's Regress and The Great Divorce.

And from C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy - I did not read it in English first time, mother's copy being a Swedish translation - it was a short cut to two major Catholic authors: G. K. Chesterton whom he declared it silly to find superficial "if his sword glitters, it is because he is fighting for life" and J. R. R. Tolkien "at the entry into adult life I had been warned never to trust a philologist (implicitly) or a Papist (explicitly), Tolkien was both". From there I went on to read (I had already read The Hobbit and LotR) the three essays my grandfather had bought me in one volume: The Monsters and the Critics, On Translating Beowulf, Welsh and English. My first try at writing verse - we speak of age thirteen - was some lines consistently in the C pattern of the half line patterns he elucidated in the second one of these essays. It sounded awkward, but I pulled it through.

From Tolkien, Chesterton, indeed CSL, the step to Catholic conversion was short. But from my mother too. Her first vocation was getting to be Salvationist Officer, as a celibate, as an old maid. She was robbed of her virginity. So she took maternity. I was born in Vienna, and until recently robbed of my wallet I had a paper from Wien Alsergrund proving it. There ma was residing for medical studies. Her legal residence in Sweden was still her birthplace, which now stands in the passport as mine too, Södertelge (modern respelling Södertälje). When I was one month old, she took me back there, to my grandparents. She stopped in Munich, assisted a Mass. In October of 1968 it was still in Latin. October, by the way, in the Catholic Church, is the Month of the Rosary, and Oct 7, formerly the day of St Bridget of Sweden, later moved to Oct 8 to make place for Our Lady of the Rosary, may have been the reason and occasion ma went to Mass. When back to Vienna I made a first communion without being baptised, without even knowing what it was about. I went forth as the others did, when the priest saw I was wondering what to do he told me "swallow", I did. The judgement I ate over myself was to learn about what I had done, and to love it. I have never been able to stand Calvinism or Zwinglianism, since they deny the Real Presence. That denial was also one fatal fault with William Booth's theology.

This has been a very long explanation to explain the dedication, now for the message, I will try to make it brief.

Some Protestants think having no men called Kings or Emperors postpones the final persecuation foretold in Apocalypse. But in Hebrew both King and Emperor would be Malak, and so would, I think, President or Prime Minister. Chesterton noted that England had a King who did not in the Latin sense of the word rule but only preside a collevtion of rulers, America a President who did rule. He said it would be more fitting to logic to call the English thing a President and the American or French thing a King, since Rex implies Regere, rule a country, and Sarkozy and Obama do so, whereas President implies preside, and Elizabeth II and Carl XVI Gustav preside some ceremonial gatherings of the real rulers. One could add that the titles as they are, remind of Original positions being otherwise, there was a time when George Washington only presided some clubs, and there was a time when a predecessor of either George III or his rival across the sea actually did rule. So, democracy is no secure postponement of the worst times on earth.

Constantine the Great made a law according to which a husband had the right to have his unfaithful wife executed. Justinian changed the penalty: she could be placed in a monastery, and for two years the husband had an option to forgive her and take her back. Whatever was his title, the Briton Arthur who lived under Roman law between Constantine and Justinian helpoed to change that. Changing the mind of Roman Empire is a Royal thing. The King of Heaven did so on a Cross. The King of Britain did so by not he either judging the adulteress. Hence, whatever may have been his legal title while he was on earth, King he remains. If he did not conquer with arms even his own country back from the Saxons, he conquered by example all of Christendom.

A nun from Nemetodurum living in Lutetia and a bishop of Durucortorum forgave a barbarian his ravages, because he converted. That made France. That saved the West. It remained Roman in morals when the Legions were defeated.

It is nothing to be a King or a Beggar. It is all to be a good King as God when he died on a Cross or a bad King like Herod. It is all to be a good beggar like Lazarus, raised from tbe dead one week before God harrowed Hell, or a bad beggar like the one who merits not the Beatitude, since "though poor in resources he is rich in ambition". In 2004 and 2005 I was a decent beggar. Now I am no longer. But I was a writer before I was a beggar, and I think it possible I was made a beggar to humble the writer, so maybe I am still a decent writer.

I give you one better, who spoke of a known writer:

Mgr Williamson on Orwell's 1984

Fallen man has a tendency to fall with his boot on his face.

The New Adam came to rise him up, but not everyone accepts the hand. On a Russian cross, always, below the Feet of God, there are the skull and crossbones of Adam, because it was there God died, so that His Blood should give life back to our ancestor. The pirates' flag Jolly Roger is just the skull and crossbones, as if someone had knocked the away the Cross and the God Crucified from above a Spanish Cross resembling that Russian Cross? Maybe so. Maybe the intent was to show a blasphemous belief that Adam is "quite capable of raising himself to God thank you". Whereever that spirit looms, take care. Fallen man has a very nasty tendency to fall with his boot on his face. Now hear Mgr Williamson on Orwell, as in link provided!

Hans-Georg Lundahl

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