Saturday, May 26, 2007

An evening sith St. Thomas Becket.

Last night I celebrated my own personal heritage with movies about British history. The first was a movie I had never heard of until recently someone in the Catholic blogosphere mentioned it was out on DVD. He recommended everyone go out and buy it now. I did the next best thing by putting it at the top of my Blockbuster online rental list. I would hat tip the blog but I can't find the post now. meh.

Regardless, I loved the film. Oh, by the way, we're talking about "Becket" as in St. Thomas Becket. FANTASTIC. I should confess as well that before I saw the movie there wasn't one thing about Thomas Becket I could tell you except maybe he was the Archbishop of Canterbury. The feud between King Henry II and Thomas Becket was completely off my radar. I don't know how, considering other events (1066, Battle of Hastings) present much larger blips on the screen. Yet the conflict between Henry II, grandson to William the Conqueror and his friend/ex-friend Thomas Becket, grandson of conquered Saxons is so closely tied to (or even the fruition of) the results of the battle. One thing that never occurred to me is the thought that after 1066, the Normans brought in their own priests. I guess for the times it would make sense but it never occurred to me that conquering another Christian country would require the removal of the clergy, since the Church is universal. But then again without internet and telephones people were much more tied down to their own lands. The clergy was a lot more tied into the government. So I guess it was the baby with the bathwater...if that phrase even applies here.

[Upon further research, Thomas Becket was not a Saxon, but a Norman. Regardless, the story plot works for the movie and its an intriguing scenario nonetheless.]

The political shuffle between Henry II and Becket was fascinating for me to watch. I felt like I was brought into a completely foreign, yet familiar, culture where God and State were competing powers. The state however was always subject to God's earthly authority, the Church. Remember, kings and emperors were crowned by Popes and Bishops, so the power as it was seen, came from God. Henry would have done anything to not be excommunicated. Excommunication would have meant he would have lost his kingdom. In the end, everyone was subject to God's authority, even the King, and that was a bold reality for everyone.

That may sound totally foreign to our modern ears. Perhaps its even scandalous to think that our earthly authorities are subject to the laws of God and his Church. But its in the Bible so...Christians still believe it today albeit in different forms.

Romans 13:1

1Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God.

So (my own interpretation) excommunication means you are put outside the Church. Therefore (I assume) that means your authority was no longer legitimate. Therefore it was game over for you, and anyone who wished to depose you had some sort of legitimate authority to do so. Obviously we don't do things like that anymore. But I'm not going to pass judgment on how they did things either. Our own system of choosing people for power isn't exactly the shiniest coin in the bucket. (Not the fact that we vote, but come on, our politics is just as dirty...just not as bloody. You get my point.)

Out own system of government is also based on the fact that our rights come from God and not from man. A point sorely missed by atheists of our time... Without God's authority we have no inalienable human rights endowed by our Creator, only privileges bought with votes, politicking, and the barrel of the gun.

ANYWAY...I loved Becket. It was slow at times but I was excited to learn about my newly discovered Saint. After the movie I made a trip to the Information Superhighway of course to do some fact checking. And to my surprise the film was pretty accurate. They didn't change any details but they shaved some off for time sake. Thumbs up!

The second movie I watched was "The Queen." It was really good but I don't care to comment right now. Its late so have a good night and a happy Memorial Day! Tomorrow will bring me to the Irish Festival in the poconos and Sunday is of course Pentecost Sunday. Our choir will be singing William Byrd's 3-Part mass.

Have a good holiday weekend.

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"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton