Tag Archives: American Civil War

CHARLES VISITS WASHINGTON

Prince Charles and Camilla

Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, are visiting Washington DC.   During their visit to the US, they will commemorate three things — the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, the most important secular document in the history of the English-speaking peoples; the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War; and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

The Prince of Wales visited the National Archives yesterday where a 1297 copy of the Magna Carta is on loan from Lincoln Cathedral in England.  The Magna Carta is embodied in the American Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

I’ve had the privilege of viewing the same Magna Carta, signed by King John at Runnymede on June 15th, 1215, in Lincoln, which is not far from my hometown.   A depiction of the event can be seen on the bronze doors of the Supreme Court building.

It’s been over forty years since the Washington Post claimed that President Richard Nixon was brought down by Magna Carta.   The charter established the principle that everybody is equal before the law, including the king or president.   This principle separated England from the continental powers, where the head of state is above the law.   When French President Jacques Chirac was accused of corruption while in office, nothing could be done about it until he was no longer president of France.

Exactly ten weeks after King John was pressured into signing the charter, Pope Innocent III declared it null and void.  He said that no people had any right to demand anything of their king. Consequently, England was plunged into civil war.

Magna Carta reminds us that:   “God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34)   We are all equal before God, who is the ultimate Law-giver.

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It’s a good thing that the royal couple were not in America on Sunday, where they might have seen the first episode of “The Royals,” on the E! Network.   This show depicts a fictional royal family ruling in England.

I watched the first 30 minutes of the 75-minute much-hyped premiere.

It was utter and total trash.

If any of today’s royal families behaved like those in the fictional series, they wouldn’t last very long.

Monarchy has a serious side.   According to the organization “Democracy Watch,” the seven most democratic countries in the world are all constitutional monarchies.   They are:   The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Canada and New Zealand (the United Kingdom was not included in the list, maybe because it does not have an elected Upper House).

They have all also been the most stable countries in the world.

Constitutional monarchy also happens to be the cheapest form of government.

There’s a lot to be said for constitutional monarchy.   In contrast, there is nothing positive to be said for the new television series, which raises trash to a whole new level – and that’s really saying something when it comes to TV!

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While on the subject of royalty, I have to recommend the new “Cinderella” movie.

My son and I took his two girls to see it on Sunday.   The girls, aged 8 & 9, have gotten used to me falling asleep whenever I take them to a movie.   Brooklyn, the youngest, promised to wake me up if this should happen again.

But it didn’t.   The movie was engrossing.   It is beautifully made with real people.

I have never been one for fairy stories, even when I was a child.   But this was different.   It’s a real old-fashioned love story, with an upbeat ending that will leave many in tears.

Lily James (Rose in “Downton Abbey”) plays a very convincing Cinderella.   (One of her ugly step-sisters is played by Downton’s Daisy.)   Richard Madden plays the prince.   Helena Bonham Carter, one of England’s greatest actresses, plays a humorous Fairy Godmother and Cate Blanchett plays the Wicked Step-Mother.

The movie was directed by Kenneth Branagh, one of England’s greatest theatrical talents.

A superb movie, perfect for the whole family.   It’s also perfectly respectable for married couples to go without children — I intend to take my wife who could not go on Sunday.

 

 

THE MISSING SPIRITUAL DIMENSION

Blessing, Curse Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Blue Sky and Clouds.

Yesterday, I quoted Daniel P. Bolger, a retired Lieutenant-General, who has just written a book on the two major conflicts of the first decade of this century. The book’s title is “Why We Lost.”

I haven’t read the book yet. It only came out on Veterans Day. I’ve requested it from our local library and will write a review when it becomes available.

Meanwhile, I would like to add a dimension that I doubt the retired Lt-General includes in his book. It’s a lesson from ancient Israel.

Deuteronomy chapter 28 is often called the Blessings and Cursings chapter. In it, God promises Israel all kinds of blessings that will come upon the nation if it chooses to obey God. Then, He lists all the bad things that will befall them if they disobey God.

This chapter is applicable to us today. Not just in the United States, but in the UK, Canada, Australia and other western nations. One example lies in the widespread rejection of the traditional biblical family that began in the sixties. The consequences are now upon us and seem to worsen by the day. Nations cannot disobey God without negative repercussions.

The chapter specifically mentions war, with a promise of easy victory if Israel obeys. “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways” (verse 7). I can still remember a time when Americans could boast that they had never lost a war. At a time in the country’s history when religious convictions were far greater, victory was assured. This all changed after World War Two.

Note what the same chapter says about disobedience. “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth” (verse 25).   Add to those words the following: “The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me” (v.20).

It’s distressing to think about it but this is precisely what is happening. We did not win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we are not winning against ISIS now.

There clearly is a spiritual element here.

Part of the problem is that there is confusion over who the enemy is. Our ancestors believed Islam was a pagan religion. There were no Muslims in the United States before the American Civil War.  Our generation embraces Islam as an equally valid faith. This change in thinking is a direct result of the rejection of a fundamental truth of Christianity, that salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

But this confusion means that we fight wars half-heartedly. How far would we have got in World War Two if we had thought that fascism was an equally valid way of life? Or, later, that communism really did offer a utopia?

According to the BBC this morning, the UK is going to fast-track legislation to strip terrorists of citizenship. This was announced as a tough response. In contrast, Denmark is going to try rehabilitation of terrorists who return from fighting with ISIS. Rehabilitation?!? Are they seriously expecting people who beheaded men and raped women to commit to doing good works with the Salvation Army?

Such weak responses are not likely to win this conflict. How will we react when ISIS reaches our own shores?

We haven’t even got the sense to reverse the liberal reforms of the last fifty years, changes that led directly to recruiting for ISIS. Second generation Muslims cannot reconcile the permissiveness of our society with Islam, which means “submission.”

It should be remembered that both ancient Israel and ancient Judah fell to enemy nations as a direct consequence of their disobedience. Our national sins are an abomination to God – could we go the same way as Israel and Judah?