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 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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Hawaiian Good Luck Sign

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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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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.

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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

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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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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: A Review

 

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

My family and I went to see 13 Hours:  The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi on Saturday.  I found the movie to be an exciting and moving recreation of the actions of the CIA contractors, all former  members of elite American military units,  who fought against the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11/12, and a damning indictment of the lack of action by the administration which left these men in the lurch, their criminal inaction leading to the death of former Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.  A strong language advisory  as military men under fire have been known to swear on occasion, and I would further note that my wife had to leave the theater because she found the movie too intense.  My review is below the fold and the usual warning as to spoilers is in full effect.

 

 

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Published in: on January 19, 2016 at 6:11 pm  Comments Off on 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: A Review  
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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Clarence Thomas

 

 

Our small, soft hands blistered quickly at the start of each summer, but Daddy (the maternal grandfather of Clarence Thomas) never let us wear work gloves, which he considered a sign of weakness. After a few weeks of constant work, the bloody blisters gave way to hard-earned calluses that protected us from pain. Long after the fact, it occurred to me that this was a metaphor for life–blisters come before calluses, vulnerability before maturity.

He never praised us, just as he never hugged us. Whenever my grandmother urged him to tell us that we had done a good job, he replied, “That’s their responsibility. Any job worth doing is worth doing right.”

The family farm and our unheated oil truck became my most important classrooms, the schools in which Daddy passed on the wisdom he had acquired in the course of a long life as an ill-educated, modestly successful black man in the Deep South. Despite the hardships he had faced, there was no bitterness or self-pity in his heart. As for bad luck, he didn’t believe in it.

Justice Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather’s Son

Justice Thomas has called his barely literate grandfather, the late Myers Anderson, who raised him and his brother after his father ran off, the greatest man he has ever known. He taught him the value of hard work, self reliance and a striving to achieve against the odds, essential lessons that too many Americans, no matter how well educated, fail to ever learn.

Published in: on January 18, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Quotes Suitable for Framing: Clarence Thomas  
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Benjamin Franklin on Assisting the Poor

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An interesting letter from Benjamin Frankin, whose 310th birthday is today, on the best way of assisting the poor.  The letter was written on May 9, 1753 and was addressed to a Peter Collinson:

 

 

Sir,

I received your Favour of the 29th. August last and thank you for the kind and judicious remarks you have made on my little Piece. Whatever further occurs to you on the same subject, you will much oblige me in communicating it.

I have often observed with wonder, that Temper of the poor English Manufacturers and day Labourers which you mention, and acknowledge it to be pretty general. When any of them happen to come here, where Labour is much better paid than in England, their Industry seems to diminish in equal proportion. But it is not so with the German Labourers; They retain the habitual Industry and Frugality they bring with them, and now receiving higher Wages an accumulation arises that makes them all rich.

When I consider, that the English are the Offspring of Germans, that the Climate they live in is much of the same Temperature; when I can see nothing in Nature that should create this Difference, I am apt to suspect it must arise from Institution, and I have sometimes doubted, whether the Laws peculiar to England which compel the Rich to maintain the Poor, have not given the latter, a Dependance that very much lessens the care of providing against the wants of old Age.

I have heard it remarked that the Poor in Protestant Countries on the Continent of Europe, are generally more industrious than those of Popish Countries, may not the more numerous foundations in the latter for the relief of the poor have some effect towards rendering them less provident. To relieve the misfortunes of our fellow creatures is concurring with the Deity, ’tis Godlike, but if we provide encouragements for Laziness, and supports for Folly, may it not be found fighting against the order of God and Nature, which perhaps has appointed Want and Misery as the proper Punishments for, and Cautions against as well as necessary consequences of Idleness and Extravagancy.

Whenever we attempt to mend the scheme of Providence and to interfere in the Government of the World, we had need be very circumspect lest we do more harm than Good. In New England they once thought Black-birds useless and mischievous to their corn, they made Laws to destroy them, the consequence was, the Black-birds were diminished but a kind of Worms which devoured their Grass, and which the Black-birds had been used to feed on encreased prodigiously; Then finding their Loss in Grass much greater than their saving in corn they wished again for their Black-birds. (more…)

Published in: on January 17, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments (3)  
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