Monday, July 6, 2015

Lessons from the Brits

Life is divided into three terms - 
that which was, which is, and which will be.  
Let us learn from the past 
to profit by the present, 
and from the present, 
to live better in the future. 

- William Wordsworth

Well it's July.  Summer's not so new & exciting anymore, eh?  The heat has set in, the bugs are having themselves a feast, & I am so over painting my toenails, to say nothing of the pressure to shave often.  So we plod on, mopping up the sweat as we go, begrudgingly adding a fresh coat to the toenails, inching our way toward that first Saturday that brings a breeze that hints of fall, & the beautiful sight of Kirk Herbstreit & pals seated behind the Gameday desk.

Thank you for your kind words about last week's post.  I mention last week's post to tell you that if you're looking for flowery prose & inspiration this morning, go read last week's post, because you're unlikely to find either here today.

I don't feel particularly inspired on this, the first Monday of July.  It's hot & I am tired &, no, for those who've asked, I haven't made any progress on the closet liberation front.  Let's analyze my woes, shall we?

The past few weeks I haven't been able to exercise as often as I'd prefer.  Between the rain & a few overnight trips my mom made, my alone time outdoors just hasn't happened with the regularity I'd like, & I feel like a slug.  I don't sleep as well when I'm not exercising, & I cannot in words adequately express what a wretched, foul person I am when I haven't had enough quality sleep.  Trey might possibly be interested in a guest post on the blog about the matter.

It goes without saying that the Supreme Court hasn't been a bright spot in my life this summer.  Only a few days past the end of their monstrosity of a term, I am saddened daily by another story of a clerk of court who has quit the job she's held for years because she cannot in good conscience issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.  Say what you want, but this doesn't strike me as a situation that screams Freedom!

If the Supremes freed Hobby Lobby & other corporations not run by leftist liberal loons from paying for birth control measures that violate their ethics, it's beyond my comprehension that individuals involved in the marriage licensing process are faced with the decision to violate their ethics, or quit their job.  Goodness knows the last thing this economy needs is more people out of work.  The labor force participation numbers are abysmal, & I don't want to dwell on them today, but I thought I'd tell you since it's unlikely you'll hear it anywhere else because bad economic news detracts from the media's steadfast narrative that Obama is awesome.

Also on my list of bothersome things, I need a haircut, both because I haven't had it trimmed since early May, & also because having someone else wash & trim my hair is so fabulous & always a mood enhancer.

So, to sum up, I've been in a bit of a slump.  I know you're likely wondering if we did anything fabulous & exciting for the Fourth, & do I have any patriotic, inspiring thoughts to share?  No, & no.  We were invited to celebrate the Fourth with friends from church, as we did last year - - pictured here - -

 - - but before I mentioned the invitation to Trey he said he was going to take the kids to his parents' house Friday night, & so I remained mum about the invite to spend the time with friends celebrating our nation's birthday & enjoying general camaraderie, because who needs all that when I can be alone with all my woe?

So we didn't do the large gathering of friends / adorable patriotic outfits thing this year.  We did the Mama wants to read her book by herself thing, which, I think, is certainly among the freedoms for which our founding fathers fought.  If you're not free to be alone & read, you're not free.  Thomas Jefferson once said, "I cannot live without books."  What he didn't say, but is certainly implied in his sentiment, is that you cannot read books when your kids are loud & giggling & asking for milk every five minutes.

As soon as Trey left with the kids Friday, I headed to Cracker Barrel with my big fat copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I drank a little coffee & ate some pancakes at Cracker Barrel, but my plan to sit & read uninterrupted was thwarted by a man seated at the table next to mine who began discussing his dinner plans with me.  He'd come in fully intending to order chicken & dumplings, you see, but my pancakes looked so good he was considering changing his mind.  The one-way conversation deteriorated from there.  I nodded a few times, careful not to make full on eye contact, but I didn't want to actually say anything so as not to give him the impression that I came to Cracker Barrel alone hoping to meet a man with food indecision issues.

I left Cracker Barrel, bought a few groceries, & went home to read where, unlike in the middle of a crowded Cracker Barrel, it is appropriate for me to use my revolver should anyone interrupt me.

I unloaded groceries, made some decaf, & read a little Harry Potter, but a conversation I had recently on Facebook was niggling me, & so I turned on the TV & began watching The Tudors, a series currently streaming on Netflix.

After casually mentioning on Facebook that I enjoy the jawline acting of Henry Cavill, a friend asked me if I'd watched The Tudors when it was on the air, as Mr. Cavill portrayed the BFF of Henry VIII, Charles Brandon.  I've been told by more than one person over the years that I might enjoy The Tudors, & after learning that it's streaming on Netflix & features Henry Cavill, I was sold.  Between Harry & Henry, I saw the clock at the wee hours of Saturday morn.  The Brits, I tell you; they render me useless.  I'm glad our forefathers put up more of a fight than I do.

I woke to a quiet house Saturday morning, save the rain pattering on the windows.  During my first cup of coffee, I saw this quote on Twitter: "Despite being rejected on Independence Day, the British persevered.  Through music, film, arts, science, & literature they invaded again."  I'd attribute it to its author, but it was posted to an account I follow on Twitter that celebrates all things books & isn't any one individual's account.

After my night with Harry Potter & King Henry VIII & King Henry's BFF Charles Brandon, who I am sure looked exactly like this (wine goblet & all) . . .

. . . my thoughts were on the British, & even more so after I read the above quote.  My fellow Americans, the British have given us many gifts, & there are many lessons to be learned from our European friends.

Despite our contentious parting of ways lo those many years ago, Britain continues to share with us her most valuable resources, a long list including, but certainly not limited to: William Wordsworth, Alfred Tennyson, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, J.K. Rowling, the music of Queen, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Anthony Hopkins, Kenneth Branagh, Sean Connery, Helen Mirren, Jude Law (yeah, he's a cad but he can act), &, last but not least, Robert Pattinson, Theo James, & Henry Cavill, who, when viewed collectively & in light of the woman who led Britain at the time of their making, make a solid argument that the Lord's favor was with Britain in the 1980s.

And Mr. Cavill without the scruff, because I know you care:

That's Thatcher-era production right there.  We need to work on our jawlines, America.  Britain gives us Henry Cavill, meanwhile we're boasting about Caitlyn Jenner; I'm no trade expert, but this seems inequitable.

So, what should we learn from our friends across the pond?  I'd suggest they've taught us lessons about leadership we ought to take to heart.  There are Neville Chamberlains, & there are Winston Churchills.  There are men who seek to appease evil, to enter into negotiations with it, & there are men who name evil, turn from it, & seek its defeat.  I'm not going to bombard you with memes or a string of Churchill quotes, but I'll just say that we're sitting on our haunches watching our officials do their best Chamberlain impression.  Any day now John Kerry will proclaim he's achieved peace in our time.  No, Iran is not Hitler, but Iran doesn't need to be Hitler if they have what Hitler did not, namely nuclear power.

Also on the leadership front, the British have shown us that a nation can flourish under the leadership of a woman, if she's the right woman.

Backing up a few years in English history, it occurred to me as I was watching Henry Cavill The Tudors that Henry VIII's problems (at least his infamous marital problems) began when he decided England's laws regulating marriage were too restrictive.  Henry's desires were not in line with the laws of the land, or with scripture, & so he finagled his way around the law & thumbed his nose at the scriptures.  Sound familiar?  I mean, does that ring any bells?  And what's weird is that after everything Henry VIII did to rid himself of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, so he could be with the love of his life, Anne Boleyn, his bliss with Anne lasted but a few short years before *spoiler* Jane Seymour caught Henry's eye, & Anne was beheaded shortly thereafter.  What can I say?  #Lovewins.

Henry's struggle highlights a significant moment in American history, actually, for it was Henry VIII's actions that effectively divorced the monarchy & The Church of England from the Catholic Church & Rome, bringing The Church of England under the control of the royals, a situation that would eventually become a burr in the side of our founding fathers.  We Taylor Swifted Britain hundreds of years ago because their ruling monarchy was not so keen on religious freedom, or freedom in general.  We told them we were never, ever getting back together because we didn't want to be under the thumb of a foreign monarchy, particularly one that had a long & sordid history with the established Church of England.  We didn't want their king, & we didn't want a king, period.  We didn't want a government that established a national religion, however, in matters of religion, neither did we want a government that prohibited the free exercise thereof.

Take a look at Europe today.  Europe today ought to raise several red flags for America regarding debt, regarding unchecked immigration & insecure (or nonexistent) borders, regarding religious freedom, & regarding socialized medicine.  Europeans have for years warned us about the perils of socialized medicine, but, like the younger sibling who still wants the illicit alcohol after watching his older brother crash the car, Americans have handed healthcare over to the inept government.  We ought to heed the lessons of the Europeans, rather than try & emulate their every move like we're their younger, insecure sibling.

Take a look at Greece today.  Things are not going well.  As Margaret Thatcher once said, "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples' money."  Why don't we stop spending China's money, lest the Chinese cut up our credit card, and/or put a boot to our neck about the ridiculous debt we're racking up.  If we don't hold ourselves responsible & right the ship, eventually someone else will.  Again, to quote Margaret Thatcher (who's obviously on my mind today), "There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty."

Europe is overrun with Muslims who're killing Christians & Jews.  Jews are fleeing Europe because they're being persecuted.  Here at home, we have no qualms about pointing a finger at a white boy who shoots innocent blacks in an American church & calling him a racist, a correct label, no doubt, but we aren't nearly as quick to give evil a name when a Muslim kills a Christian or a Jew, whether on American soil or elsewhere.

Religious persecution is real.  Christian persecution is real, & when it comes to religious freedom in America, the free exercise thereof is in peril.  Take a long look at American women I've routinely seen in the news this past week, women who're quitting the clerk of court job they've performed for decades, lest they be forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  There is something fundamentally unAmerican about that.

I don't think the founders meant the free exercise thereof only when you're in the church building on Sunday anymore than a Christian is a Christian only when in the church building, or a Jew is a Jew only when in the Synagogue, or a Muslim is a Muslim only when in the Mosque.  We have capitulated to the demands of Muslim prisoners in Gitmo, yet we run roughshod over a Christian clerk of court, a Christian baker, who wishes to abstain from having any part in a marriage ceremony - something traditionally understood to be a religious ceremony - that violates their faith.  Don't desecrate the prisoner's copy of the Koran, don't dare draw a picture of Muhammad, but a picture of the Pope made out of condoms in The New York Times?  That's cool.

Here's the thing; here's where the rubber meets the road (or maybe where the rubber meets the Pope?), so to speak.  There is a difference in a restaurant refusing to seat & serve a couple because they are _________ (black / Asian / fat / ugly / Alabama fans / homosexual / Team Jacob).  Telling someone you won't make them a cheeseburger because they are gay (or ______ ) is not cool; it's not the Christian thing to do, or the American thing to do.  Being involved in a ceremony or celebration that, to you & your religion is a holy, sacred experience, is a whole different ball game.  If a Christian baker wants to bake the cake, fabulous!  Bake two & give them away for free & try & open some doors for a Bible study maybe.  That's a perfectly acceptable way to handle the situation.  But the Christian baker should have the option to say no without the threat of lawsuits & fines being thrown in the mix.  That's the point.  It's an important point too, because when the baker loses the right to opt out, we all know what's next.

Today, it's cake bakers & florists & clerks of court who're leaving their jobs, being slapped with lawsuits, & paying fines.  Do not for a moment think churches aren't next.  You open your doors for the same-sex wedding, or we fine you, we sue you, we yank your tax exempt status, which is to say, in the case of many churches, you open your facilities to us, you marry us, or we will lawyer up until you have no choice but to close your doors.

Alito perhaps says it best in his dissent:

It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.  In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women.  The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.

Don't believe for a moment the same-sex marriage proponents are satisfied.  Many of them don't simply want the legal right to marry (something they once claimed was not their goal).  They want a government that pulls their right to marry out of a magic hat (the same hat, mind you, from which the magical right to abort babies was pulled), a government that celebrates this newly discovered gem in the Constitution, & a government that then sees to it that you too participate in the celebration.  They want to belittle & shame & label as hateful anyone who dissents, & whoever's left standing, whoever still insists marriage is a union between one man & one woman, they will drag to court.

As Alito says, "stamp out every vestige of dissent."

We don't want marriage, just a civil union.  

Our marriage won't affect you.  

Issue our marriage license, or quit your job.

Bake our cake or go to jail, bigot.

Grant us a religious ceremony, or lose your tax exempt status.  

I hope Alito is wrong.  I hope I am wrong, but given the furor over a "wrong" answer to a hypothetical question asked of someone working at a pizza place in Indiana, I suspect we have not seen the last ride of the love & tolerance brigade.  If they'll go after a pizza place that would rather not cater a hypothetical same-sex wedding, can you imagine their fury with churches who deny same-sex couples (who've now been told they have a Constitutional right to marry) the use of their facilities?

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I am pretty sure this push to legalize same-sex marriage is an end-around by some in this country who wish to eliminate the bubble in which the church in America has existed for so long.  Anthony Kennedy just gave them a needle, & they may poke & prod initially, but there will be a loud pop eventually, & I think it's going to shock a good many Christians, some who may be reading now & thinking, She is nuts.  Maybe I am nuts.  It's certainly debatable, but I think anyone with young children can appreciate that the pressure of raising kids in 2015 is immense, & enough to make even the sanest among us a little crazy.  

Finally, I think there's an important lesson inherent in the history of the British monarchy, a lesson America desperately needs right now.  While the monarchy has, in the past, been responsible for unspeakable horrors, & led Britain down many dark & twisted paths (as I was reminded while watching Henry Cavill The Tudors), the British revere their monarchy.  They revere their monarchy so much they're willing to spend a ton of money propping up a royal family that has no role in government or public policy whatsoever.  They just love their royals, & I think it is because they're a link to their long & interesting history as a nation.

The British aren't interested in erasing their history as so many Americans are all too eager to do today.  I understand that sometimes it's tempting to try & forget history.  Yesterday isn't always convenient when the next day dawns, but you can't redo it or erase it.  Learn from it & move on.  Don't attempt to obliterate every last reminder of it, & don't remove it from the history books, because if you do, you erase not only what made you who you are today, but the chance for future generations to glean the lessons the past taught you.

So, that's today's two cents.  I hope you enjoyed Independence Day with friends & family & didn't mull over our nation's problems too much.  Don't worry; I won't remain beset by woe.  My mom's back in town & exercising will resume shortly.  I've had my nose in scripture a great deal lately; maybe the Lord is using the Supreme Court in an odd & circuitous manner, forcing me & other Christians to read & reread the scriptures so as to reach a better, fuller understanding of the beliefs we hold, & the hope that we have.  I am planning to get my hair cut, to make some progress on the closet front, & to spend more time reading Harry Potter & watching Henry VIII, a selfish, maniacal tyrant whose actions make even Obama seem somewhat moderate.     


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