Easter and History

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

H.G. Wells

How many movements throughout the history of Man have flourished briefly and then vanished into everlasting oblivion, forgotten entirely by History or relegated to the briefest of footnotes?  From a human standpoint that was clearly the fate of the movement started by the carpenter/rabbi from Galilee following His death on a cross.  His followers had scattered and went into hiding at His arrest.  He was denied by the mob, their choosing a bandit and murderer over Him.  Condemned by the foreigners occupying His country, His people observed His death by mocking Him.  The idea that He had founded a “Church” that would spread around the globe, altering all of human history, and causing Him to be worshiped as God by billions of people would have struck any neutral observer as mad ravings.  Yet that is precisely what happened. (more…)

Published in: on March 31, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Easter and History  
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Onward Christian Soldiers

Something for the weekend.  Onward Christian Soldiers sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford.  The music was composed by Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame in 1871, with the words having been written in 1865 by Sabine-Baring-Gould.  It was popularized by the Salvation Army in America, being virtually their theme song.  When I have heard it, I have thought of this poem by Vachel Lindsay of Springfield, Illinois on the founder of the Salvation Army: (more…)

Screen Pilates: Stephen Russell

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas and Frank Thring may be read here, here, here, here here and here.

Stephen Russell portrays Pilate in The Gospel of John (2003) which is a straight forward no frills presentation of the Gospel of John.  As in the Gospel of John Pilate is shown in the film as first curious about Jesus and then sympathetic to Jesus.  He attempts to save Jesus by giving the mob a choice between Jesus and the bandit Barabbas.  When that fails he presents Jesus after He has been beaten and utters the phrase Ecce Homo, Behold the Man. (more…)

Published in: on March 28, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Stephen Russell  
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Screen Pilates: Frank Thring

Frank Thring as Pilate

 

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov and Telly Savalas may be read here, here, here, here and here.

The late Frank Thring, an Australian actor, had the distinction of playing both Pilate and Herod Antipas in major films, Pilate in Ben Hur (1959) and Herod Antipas in King of Kings (1961).

In Ben Hur we get a glimpse of the backstory of Pilate.  Thring portrays Pilate as an urbane Roman aristocrat dismayed that he is being sent to govern bleak and hot Judea.  At a party given by Arrius to anounce his adoption of Ben Hur, go here to view the video,  Pilate indicates his dismay at the prospect.  After Ben Hur wins his famous chariot race, Pilate cynically crowns Ben Hur as the “one true God” for the moment, of the people.  Go here to watch the clip.

In an interview after the race Pilate attempts to convince Ben Hur to remember that he is the son of Arrius and to be content with the vengeance he has inflicted on Messala, dead as a result of injuries sustained in the chariot race:

I crossed this floor in spoken friendship, as I would speak to Arrius. But when I go up those stairs I become the hand of Caesar, ready to crush all those who challenge his authority. There are too many small men of envy and ambition who try to disrupt the government of Rome. You have become the victor and hero to these people. They look to you, their one true god as I called you. If you stay here, you will find yourself part of this tragedy. (more…)

Published in: on March 27, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Frank Thring  
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Screen Pilates: Telly Savalas

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen and Hristov Shopov may be read here, here, here and here.

Telly Savalas in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) gives a fairly stolid performance as Pilate.  He portrays Pilate as a world weary Roman functionary to whom Christ is merely a problem he does not need.  When he transfers Christ’s case to Herod, we see Jose Ferrer who gives a strikingly good portrayal of Herod Antipas.  Ferrer portrayed Herod as a man touched against his will by the words of John the Baptist.  Now however he has executed John the Baptist, and has given himself up for damned, taking refuge in drink.

(more…)

Published in: on March 26, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Telly Savalas  
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March 25, 1863: First Awards of the Medal of Honor

Original Army Medal of Honor

On March 25, 1865 Secretary of War Stanton made the first awards of the Medal of Honor.  Amazingly enough, the United States had no medals for members of its armed forces who distinguished themselves in battle at the beginning of the Civil War.  General in Chief Winfield Scott, who ironically had been awarded  gold medals by Congress in 1814 and 1848, was adamantly against officers and men receiving medals for valor, viewing them as a European affectation and that it was insulting to give special recognition for courage, since officers and men had a duty to be brave and giving anyone a medal for simply doing his duty was preposterous in his opinion.  Medals had been used during the American Revolution but not in following conflicts, other than Congress voting a special gold medal, except in the Mexican War during which Congress authorized the issuance of certificates of merit. (more…)

Published in: on March 25, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Palm Sunday One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years Ago

I have always thought it appropriate that the national nightmare we call the Civil War ended during Holy Week 1865.  Two remarkably decent men, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, began the process of healing so desperately needed for America on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 at Appomattox.  We take their decency for granted, but it is the exception and not the rule for the aftermath of civil wars in history.  The usual course would have been unremitting vengeance by the victors, and sullen rage by the defeated, perhaps eventually breaking out in guerilla war.  The end of the Civil War could so very easily have been the beginning of a cycle of unending war between north and south.  Instead, both Grant and Lee acted to make certain as far as they could that the fratricidal war that had just concluded would not be repeated.  All Americans owe those two men a large debt for their actions at Appomattox. (more…)

Published in: on March 24, 2013 at 5:25 am  Comments (2)  
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Give Me That Old Time Religion

Something for the weekend.  Give Me That Old Time Religion.  This sequence from Sergeant York (1941) demonstrates the power of this traditional hymn first published in 1873.  It was originally a hymn sung by Black congregations, and was introduced to White congregations in 1891 by Charles Davis Tillman.  It began the convergence of Black gospel singing with White gospel singing to form Southern Gospel singing. (more…)

Linooln’s Office Clock

A video on Lincoln’s office clock.  It is interesting the items associated with Lincoln that have survived the century and a half that separates us from him.  Lincoln of course became famous quite suddenly, and was catapaulted into immoratlity by his assassination.  I think this probably aided in the preservation of items associated with him.  If Lincoln had lived for a number of years after his presidency, he still would have been an extremely important figure in American history, but he would not have attained the stature that he did without his tragic and sudden death.  He died in the moment of victory, his reputation unsullied by the compromises he would have had to have made in Reconstruction.  I think the country would have been better off if Lincoln had lived, but not so his status as the equal of George Washington.

Published in: on March 22, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Linooln’s Office Clock  
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Cardinal Carberry and the First Conclave of 1978

 

 

 

John Cardinal Carberry was one of the men who had the unique experience of attending two Papal Conclaves within little more than a month of each other in 1978.  He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1904, the youngest of ten children.  He enrolled at Cathedral College in 1915, where he displayed a love for the priesthood, playing the violin and baseball.  Like many men who become Cardinals in the Church in America, he studied at the North American Pontifical College and was ordained in 1929.

He served as a curate at Saint Peter’s in Glen Cove, New York.  Obtaining a doctorate of canon law from Catholic University of America in 1934.  From 1935-1940 he served as secretary to the Bishop and Assistant Chancellor of the diocese of Trenton, New Jersey.  (One of the hallmarks of Carberry’s career was a broad range of experience around the country rather than remaining in one diocese his entire life.)

From 1941-1945 he served as professor of canon law at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York.  From 1945-1956 he was Chief Judge of the diocese of Brooklyn.  In 1956 he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Lafayette, Indiana.  He succeeded as second Bishop of Lafayette in 1957.

He attended all the sessions of Vatican II and was an active participant.  In 1965 he was named seventh Bishop of Columbus, Ohio.  At Columbus he gave active support both to the civil rights movement and ecumenicalism.

In 1968 he was appointed the fifth Archbishop of Saint Louis.  By this time the chaos within the Church that followed in the aftermath of Vatican II was well underway and Carberry did his best to oppose it.  He celebrated Humanae Vitae and established the Archdiocesan Pro-Life Commission, giving an early impetus to the pro-life movement in Saint Louis.  He opposed Communion in the hand until 1977, fearing that it was irreverent and would lead to hosts being stolen for use in Black Masses.  He spoke out loudly against the sitcom Maude, one of Norman Lear’s television vehicles to preach liberalism to what he perceived as the great unwashed, which celebrated contraception and abortion.  He was one of the American prelates in the vanguard against the activities of the liberal Archbishop Jean Jadot, Apostolic Delegate to the United States from 1974-1980, whose influence on the Church in America was almost entirely pernicious.

Reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, he retired in 1979 and passed away in 1998. (more…)

Published in: on March 21, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Cardinal Carberry and the First Conclave of 1978  
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