Tuesday, June 06, 2006


tIn furtherence of a theme...
The other day I was reading Shakespeare's King Henry VIII. It called to mind something I read many years ago on that King and his role in the founding of a national church for England. (That now brings a new idea about the Anglican Church in Kenya and as they say; God willing, I will talk about it later.)

16th Century Europe saw the Christian world in a great turmoil precipitated by a heightened disdain for Roman/ Papal excesses. Though the question of "Doctrinal Orthodoxy" as spearheaded by the amiable Martin Luther and the fanatical John Calvin, was at the root of an emerging protest against Rome, the impetus for the split in the Body Catholic came from self serving political ambitions in Christendom. Various Kingdoms and Dukedoms across Europe were now conscious and cavetous of the lucrative homage accruing to the supra-national Papacy.

The circumstances in England for instance that led to the English fall out with Rome and the subsequent sacking of Cardinal Wolsey, who was both Lord Chancellor and Papal Legate, were in no way ethereal. King Henry VIII was married, under special Papal Dispensation, to Catherine of Aragon who had been his late brother's wife. The loyal couple failed to bear a male heir to perpetuate the Tudor Dynasty of the Henry's which led the King to believe himself a victim of the curse in Leviticus 20:21. To evade this he sought to divorce Catherine. Furthermore, the King was in love with Anne Boleyn (Rendered, Anne Bullen- Katherine's maid of honour in the Shakespearean play).

Pope Clement VII refused to sanction the divorce because that marriage having been solemnised via special dispensation, to allow a divorce then would invalidated the earlier dispensation. (Think about it in terms of Papal infallibility.) The English King's desire for the other woman and a male successor, unfortunately proved of greater importance than reverence for Papal bull (small B, there!) In order to have his way, he declared the Church in England independent of Rome and made himselt the temporal head- that Vicar of Christ thingy, I would say- of the Church in England.
Obviously there being no doctrinal conflict with Rome, the fall out being merely born of personal and political expediency, King Henry did not envisage any Reformist deviation from Roman Orthodoxy. Infact for purposes of strengthening his influence and power over England, King Henry fronted the new Church as being Reformed Catholic. The strategy in it was that by being Reformed the Church owed no allegiance to Orthodox Rome and yet by being Catholic it wouldn't lean, doctrinally towards the Protestant throngs in Geneva. As it seems to me, the English King had in one Machiavelian act of shrewidity declared himself Englands sole purvoyor of that which Karl Marx would latter refer to as "the opium of the people."
In so few words, I cannot draw the picture that is in my mind now but I seem to have gone back to a question in the previous post of the Christian Heritage to civilisation and such things. But particularly, the arguments, especially by our parish priest that christianity is the true religion and that is why it has spread far and wide. That to me just speaks tonnes for the colonialising influence of "boxed" christianity. In truth Christianity spread because it was the favoured religion of every worthy Imperialist since Constantine, because it preached allegiance to the state and giving to Ceaser what is Ceaser's.

And later day Charlmagne's abound. I mean, to the world, the conflict in Sudan for instance is packaged as Islam versus christianity. It is the only way the bible belt will allow it' s tax dollar to flow that way in the relief truck that follows the Humvee.

And even the war in Iraq is nothing to me than a Crusade. The choosen of God have always found Bibilical precedence (or is scriptural basis?) to loot, plunder and conquer Canaan, wherever it may be found. (Numbers 13:17). The Judaeo-Christian ethic that is ordained by a jealous and belligerent Yahweh is what has kept the philistine Bible-thumping George Walker in business and the "peasant privates" dying for God and for Country.

Isn't it possible then that the Christian Emperor is created in the war-like image of his God?


M said...

The parallels of God's name being invoked with the withdrawals of swords from scrabbards abound and spur food for thought ... think Gideon, think the Crusades ...

Food for thought indeed

POTASH said...

certainly, the morals from the bible are damn ironic...its is no wonder bibilical exigesis is a favourite part time of mine.