Risen

(I posted this at The American Catholic, and I thought the film mavens of Almost Chosen People might find it interesting.)

 

Risen (2016) opens in theaters on February 19 and looks like it could be a good film for Lent.  I have long thought that there must have been some sort of official inquiry into the Crucifixion based upon the Roman historian Tacitus writing circa 100AD about Pilate condemning Christ.   He may have been referring to official Roman records.  Tacitus had no sympathy for the Christians and no knowledge of their ceremonies, which makes it highly doubtful that he gained his knowledge from a Christian source as to the trial and Crucifixion of Christ.  Pilate had every motivation to prove that Christ had not risen from the dead as did the Sadducees who controlled the Temple.  Their historical silence may be an indication that what they found out, if they conducted post Resurrection inquiries, was very much not to their liking.

Published in: on January 31, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Risen  
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January 29, 1845: Poe’s Raven is Published

The publication of the macabre poem The Raven gave Edgar Allan Poe the literary fame he had sought all his life, although the meager financial reward of $9.00 typified his life long failure to earn a living as a writer.  Two years later his wife died at 24, replicating in Poe’s life the role of Lenore in his poem.  Poe himself would die in mysterious circumstances two years later at age 40, his sad and frequently bizarre life worthy of the pen of Poe.

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

(more…)

Published in: on January 29, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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January 28, 1956: Elvis Presley First Appears on National Televison

An entertainment revolution started on January 28, 1956 when a the nationally unknown Elvis Presley appeared on the Dorsey Brothers Show and sang Shake, Rattle and Roll and I Got a Woman.  Presley for the next 21 years would have perhaps the most phenomenal career of any American musician, but the success came with an increasingly troubled life that ended at age 42.  He strayed far from his religious roots as he indulged in an ever increasing appetite for drugs, his life becoming a cautionary tale of how not to handle fame and money.  However, as the video at the beginning of this post demonstrates, part of him always understood that Christ was King, not him.  When he died, far too young, a book on the shroud of Turin was found next to his body.

Published in: on January 28, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on January 28, 1956: Elvis Presley First Appears on National Televison  
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January 27, 1776: Henry Knox Delivers the Noble Train of Artillery to Washington

 

One of the interesting aspects of wars and revolutions is the unexpected talents and abilities that come to the fore in the most unlikely of individuals.  As that remarkable year 1775 was drawing to a close, General Washington, if he was to force the British  to leave Boston, needed a substantial artillery force, which he entirely lacked.  Twenty-five year old Colonel Henry Knox, a fat Boston book seller prior to the War, came up with the idea of transporting the artillery from newly captured Fort Ticonderoga in northern New York to the siege lines around Boston.  This was accomplished by Knox from December 5, 1775 to January 27, 1776, transporting sixty tons of artillery and ammunition, 59 cannon, mortars and howitzers, through wilderness in the dead of winter, a truly astounding feat. On December 17, 1775 Knox wrote to Washington:

I return’d to this place on the 15 & brought with me the Cannon being nearly the time I conjectur’d it would take us to transport them to here, It is not easy [to] conceive the difficulties we have had in getting them over the Lake owing to the advanc’d Season of the Year & contrary winds, but the danger is now past & three days ago it was very uncertain whether we could have gotten them untill next spring, but now please God they must go – I have had made forty two exceeding Strong Sleds & have provided eighty Yoke of oxen to drag them as far as Springfield where I shall get fresh Cattle to Carry them to Camp – the rout will be from here to Kinderhook from thence into Great Barrington Massachusetts Bay & down to Springfield There will scarcely be possibility of conveying them from here to Albany or Kinderhook but on sleds the roads being very much gullied, at present the sledding is tolerable to Saratoga about 26 miles; beyond that there is none – I have sent for the Sleds & teams to come here & expect to begin [to] move them to Saratoga on Wednesday or Thursday next trusting that between this & then we shall have a fine fall of snow which will enable us to proceed further & make the carriage easy – if that should be the case I hope in 16 or 17 days time to be able to present to your Excellency a noble train of artillery. (more…)

Published in: on January 27, 2016 at 6:12 am  Comments Off on January 27, 1776: Henry Knox Delivers the Noble Train of Artillery to Washington  
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Hawaiian Good Luck Sign

North_Korea_Propaganda_Photograph_of_prisoners_of_the_USS_Pueblo,_with_the_Hawaiian_Good_Luck_Sign,_1968

Forty-seven years ago last Friday, North Korea engaged in an act of piracy by capturing an American spy ship, USS Pueblo, on the high seas.  It would take almost a year to get the release of the 81 sailors of the Pueblo, one American having been killed in the attack.  Most Americans at the time took deep pride in the spirit of the crew in giving the Hawaiian Good Luck Sign, as they informed their captors, when the North Koreans had them pose for propaganda photos.

Four members of the crew sued the North Korean government for the abuse they suffered at the hands of the Korean government and in December 2008 were awarded by a Federal District Court damages in the amount of sixty-five million dollars, although as of the writing of this post North Korean assets have not been found to pay the judgment.

Published in: on January 25, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Hawaiian Good Luck Sign  
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January 24, 1916: Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co

The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.

Albert Einstein

 

After spending a good part of yesterday working on my Federal income tax, I think that perhaps a national day of mourning would be an appropriate commemoration.  One hundred years ago, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the income tax. The vote was 8-0 with Justice McReynolds abstaining. Go here to read the text of the decision. Ironically, Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who would soon resign from the Court to be the Republican Standard Bearer for President in 1916, had opposed the income tax amendment as Governor of New York in 1910.  (more…)

Published in: on January 24, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on January 24, 1916: Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co  
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Wild Colonial Boy

 

Something for the weekend.  The Clancy Brothers singing The Wild Colonial Boy on the Ed Sullivan show.  The song is based upon the exploits of bandit Jack Donahue. Born in Dublin in 1804, Donahue, an orphan as well as a pickpocket,  was transported to Australia in 1825 after being convicted of intent to commit a felony.  After he saw his cell in Syndey, he exclaimed, “A home for life”.  Two whippings of 50 lashes could not break his rebellious spirit and he escaped into the bush with two other prisoners.  There they formed a gang that became known as “The Strippers” because of their penchant of stripping wealthy men of their money, food and clothes.  In 1827 he was captured and sentenced to death.  Escaping yet again to the bush, he became part of a gang known as “The Wild Colonial Boys.” On September 1, 1830, his criminal career and life came to an end in a shootout with authorities.  Donohue achieved earthly immortality in a play and the song “The Wild Colonial Boy“.  Condemned as seditious, the song morphed his name into several variants, the most popular being Jack Duggan.

Published in: on January 23, 2016 at 4:30 am  Comments Off on Wild Colonial Boy  
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King Charles and his Happy Death

(I had posted this at The American Catholic, and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)
The phrase “happy death” is no stranger to Catholics, a death where a person takes advantage of an awareness of approaching bodily death to confess sins and to appear before God for the particular judgment as a penitent.  I think the phrase can be used occasionally for the secular life.  Such an example was King Charles I.  Wrong-headed and far from wise, he had the chief responsibility for the civil wars that ravaged his country.  Defeated, he was brought by the victorious Parliament to trial for his life 367 years ago this month.  Based upon his past record, the expectation would have been that Charles would have cut a poor figure at his trial:  brave but stupid.  Then a marvelous thing happened.  Charles, who had never been eloquent, defended himself with a verve and skill that many an attorney would envy.  Under no illusions that he could save his life, he was determined to go out with the best arguments he could muster to defend his cause.  He argued that the court had no rightful power to judge him, and that he was the champion of the people’s liberty against the naked power of the sword.  He mused about how other people would be treated by the Army dictatorship when the King was treated with no mercy. Here are some of the arguments he made at trial in his own words:

I would know by what power I am called hither … I would know by what authority, I mean lawful ; there are many unlawful authorities in the world; thieves and robbers by the high-ways … Remember, I am your King, your lawful King, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the judgement of God upon this land. Think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater … I have a trust committed to me by God, by old and lawful descent, I will not betray it, to answer a new unlawful authority; therefore resolve me that, and you shall hear more of me.I do stand more for the liberty of my people, than any here that come to be my pretended judges … I do not come here as submitting to the Court. I will stand as much for the privilege of the House of Commons, rightly understood, as any man here whatsoever: I see no House of Lords here, that may constitute a Parliament … Let me see a legal authority warranted by the Word of God, the Scriptures, or warranted by the constitutions of the Kingdom, and I will answer.

It is not a slight thing you are about. I am sworn to keep the peace, by that duty I owe to God and my country; and I will do it to the last breath of my body. And therefore ye shall do well to satisfy, first, God, and then the country, by what authority you do it. If you do it by an usurped authority, you cannot answer it; there is a God in Heaven, that will call you, and all that give you power, to account.

If it were only my own particular case, I would have satisfied myself with the protestation I made the last time I was here, against the legality of the Court, and that a King cannot be tried by any superior jurisdiction on earth: but it is not my case alone, it is the freedom and the liberty of the people of England; and do you pretend what you will, I stand more for their liberties. For if power without law, may make laws, may alter the fundamental laws of the Kingdom, I do not know what subject he is in England that can be sure of his life, or any thing that he calls his own.

I do not know the forms of law; I do know law and reason, though I am no lawyer professed: but I know as much law as any gentleman in England, and therefore, under favour, I do plead for the liberties of the people of England more than you do; and therefore if I should impose a belief upon any man without reasons given for it, it were unreasonable … The Commons of England was never a Court of Judicature; I would know how they came to be so.

It was the liberty, freedom, and laws of the subject that ever I took – defended myself with arms. I never took up arms against the people, but for the laws … For the charge, I value it not a rush. It is the liberty of the people of England that I stand for. For me to acknowledge a new Court that I never heard of before, I that am your King, that should be an example to all the people of England, for to uphold justice, to maintain the old laws, indeed I do not know how to do it.

This many-a-day all things have been taken away from me, but that that I call more dear to me than my life, which is my conscience, and my honour: and if I had a respect to my life more than the peace of the Kingdom, and the liberty of the subject, certainly I should have made a particular defence for my self; for by that at leastwise I might have delayed an ugly sentence, which I believe will pass upon me … Now, sir, I conceive that an hasty sentence once passed, may sooner be repented of than recalled: and truly, the self-same desire that I have for the peace of the Kingdom, and the liberty of the subject, more than my own particular ends, makes me now at lest desire, before sentence be given, that I may be heard … before the Lords and Commons … If I cannot get this liberty, I do protest, that these fair shows of liberty and peace are pure shows and that you will not hear your King.”

After his condemnation, Charles went to his death calmly, stating that he was trading a perishable crown for an imperishable one.  Historians would note in full his folly that led him to the headman’s block, but they would also recall that in the last days of his life, Charles acquitted himself well, and that by his manner of passing from this life, he breathed new life into his cause.

(more…)

Published in: on January 22, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on King Charles and his Happy Death  
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Royal Dano and Abraham Lincoln

Royal Dano as Lincoln

On Monday night I was watching an old Rifleman episode and it was an odd one.  One of Lucas McCain’s neighbors turns out to be Abraham Lincoln!  Well, not the real Abraham Lincoln, but rather a man who incurred psychic trauma during his Civil War service and now he believes he is Abraham Lincoln.  However, the man, portrayed by the late actor Royal Dano, looks and acts just like Abraham Lincoln.  This show was broadcast in 1961 when the Civil War centennial was big news, and this was a clever way of getting Lincoln on the Rifleman show, a series set in the 1880’s, without having to invoke time travel!  The episode was moving and as I listened I thought the actor portraying Lincoln sounded familiar.  Then it struck me: the Disney Animatronics Lincoln!

 

Dano provided the voice of Lincoln.in the Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln show which Disney premiered at the World’s Fair in 1964. Disney chose Dano because he believed his voice was most like what Disney imagined Lincoln sounded like.  In this Disney was probably incorrect.  Most contemporaries described Lincoln as having a high pitched voice.  However, Disney was a showman and not an historian, and I think Disney hit upon a voice that did fit the popular imagination of what Lincoln sounded like, said imagination having been formed by deep voiced portrayals of Lincoln on film by actors such as Walter Huston, Henry Fonda and Raymond Massey.  The Animatronics Lincoln now has a new voice actor as Lincoln, but to generations that came of age in the final decades of the last century and visited Disney World, Dano’s voice will be that of Lincoln’s.

 

Published in: on January 21, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Royal Dano and Abraham Lincoln  
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Finished Peace, Unfinished Peace Portrait

peacecommissioners_winterthur_web_

The negotiations that led to the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War, were long, contentious and complicated, involving not merely the peace treaty between Great Britain and the United States, but also separate treaties between Great Britain and France, Spain and the Netherlands.  Benjamin Franklin, who led the American team, and who deserves the title of greatest American diplomat, made it clear from the outset that the United States would not make any peace with Great Britain without its ally France also coming to terms with Great Britain.  He also demanded Canada.  By such wily ploys, Franklin outthought the British negotiators at every turn, and quickly got them to concede American Independence in hopes that the Americans could prevail upon France to be reasonable in its demands.  (more…)

Published in: on January 20, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Finished Peace, Unfinished Peace Portrait  
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