The holiday afforded me the opportunity to catch on some much neglected reading, and I was finally able to finish The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd
The author does a fine job of bringing to life not only the man but also his times, and he makes it clear that the tale ends not only with the beheading of the martyr but also the end of Catholic England. In fact, it becomes apparent that Saint Thomas More
's execution is one of many nails in the coffin of the Mediæval World and the ordo et traditio
Ironically, More was, in his time, a humanist and a reformer. He was a pioneer in the edcuation of children and women. But when it came to the Faith and other essentials, he could never be the "newe man" that his contemporaries strived to be.
On page 400 is found this very Catholic, constitutionalist, and traditionalist appraisal:
It has often been surmised that the trial of More represents the defeat of the individual conscience by the forces of the emerging nation-state, but that is profoundly to misunderstand his position. Conscience was not for More simply or necessarily an indvidual matter; as Lord Chancellor he had been charged with the application of conscience to law, but upon general and traditional principles. At his trial he was affirming the primacy of law itself, as it had always been understood. He asserted the laws of God and of reason, as they had been inherited, and he simply did not believe that the English parliament could repeal the ordinances of a thousand years.
Politicians have been placed under his patronage. In these times, which seem a lot like those of More, it would be wise for them to read of his life.
Next, I'll turn my attentions to a book by a man who merits a chapter in Russell Kirk's Conservative Mind
, Mont Saint Michel And Chartres by Henry Adams
The following statement by the self-described "conservative Chrsiyian anarchist" makes it clear that he knew which to be the Greatest of Centuries
, and it was neither the 19th or 20th in which he lived. In it, he contrasts the Virgin, or spiritual power, with the Dynamo, or physical power: "All the steam in the world could not, like the Virgin, build Chartes."
I start this book shortly after having finished another book in which another famous Adams, his grandfather, who also appears in Kirk's tome, was the protagonist: Black Odyssey: The Case of the Slave Ship 'Amistad'
Labels: The Age of Faith, The Written Word