Sunday, May 3, 2009

Turd Polishing

I've never understood the merit in such an exercise, but that doesn't stop Simon Heffer from giving it his best effort in discussing the actions of Henry VIII. Thanks to Dave Hartline for pointing this out.

When the Convocation of Canterbury of the Church in England agreed in March 1531 to accede to Henry's demands about church governance that included the clergy's recognition of him as head of the English church, it also triggered a process of such profound economic and political change that even today there is still dispute about the extent of the consequences. Let me add my three ha'porth: without the Reformation we would not have had what Seeley called "the expansion of England", we would not have had a middle class educated and powerful enough to initiate the industrial revolution, we would not have had the empire we did, and would not have had the land and sea power that kept us free from invasion and foreign influence: not to mention the theological consequences.

First, we have to question of just how much this guy even knows about his own nation's history. Consider this:

We cannot delude ourselves that Henry, once he understood that this event had happened (Luther and the 95 Theses), was touched by it; he was not the theological type.

Oh really? Is that why Henry took the time to compose a whole work designed specifically to refute Luther's heresies? I guess he was just bored or something.

We then get something of a synopsis of Henry's crimes ranging from his need to get rid of Catherine for Anne to the dissolution of the monasteries. This is ok, though, since:

It also began a social and economic mobility unseen in England before; it sowed the seeds for the expansion of the middle class, broke feudalism and, slowly, developed freedom of thought. The intellectual growth of post-Reformation England was marked and led directly to the civil wars of the 1640s.

With enough money, cash, and hoes at stake, I guess anything can be overlooked.

Without the Reformation there would have been no civil war and no establishment of the constitutional monarchy. Who is to say that what happened in France in 1789, or across Europe in 1848, or in Russia in 1917 would not eventually have happened here? Of course the Catholic countries of Europe were not held back indefinitely by the dominance of the Roman clergy in their lands. But it was not until 1905 that France passed a law separating Church and state, much of Spain remained primitive until after the civil war, Italy still has such areas of backwardness that many in the north wish to be separate from the south, and Ireland (troubled now for other reasons) only exploited the talents of its people when it broke free of being a clerical state and looked outwards. That, in the resonant phrase of the 37th Article, "the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England", may have come about by accident. But even if he did not intend it, it remains Henry VIII's most conspicuous achievement and greatest legacy.

So make sure that you "Thank Henry VIII for laying those foundations of freedom," otherwise England might not have a dying church and spiritual desolation gained by trading a vibrant Catholicism for the aforementioned funds and fornication.

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