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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Proto-Catholilcs? Proto-Prods?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0547  Monday, 25 February 2002

[Editor's Note: This thread appears to have strayed far from the general
subject areas of this conference. I would ask those who wish to continue
with it to do so off-line. -Hardy]

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Feb 2002 01:55:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0507 Re: Proto-Catholilcs? Proto-Prods?

[2]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Feb 2002 17:57:39 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0530 Re: Proto-Catholilcs? Proto-Prods?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 Feb 2002 01:55:47 -0500
Subject: 13.0507 Re: Proto-Catholilcs? Proto-Prods?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0507 Re: Proto-Catholilcs? Proto-Prods?

I will not accept second place in an anticlerical contest, but Sam's
small-minded attack must be answered of only for reasons of intellectual
honesty.

>  I suggest he reads "Hitler's Pope" by John Cornwell and
> then tell me there was no Papal enthusiasm for Hitler's regime.

A bit one-sided, no?  This book has been criticized by many more
respected historians than have found it to be well founded.

> all religions have
> expansionist agendas

All?  What about those that take pride in their insularity or uniqueness
and prefer not to expand the numbers of the elect or chosen?

> - and Papal loathing of Communists and Jews is
> widely known.

Do these include the popes since Roncalli who embrace socialist dogma
and reject capitalism?  As for the Jews, I urge you to re-read Will
Durant's volume on the Reformation, which makes the point that the popes
were more tolerant and protecting of Jews than any other rulers in
Europe (excluding the Sultans).

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
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 >
Date:           Saturday, 23 Feb 2002 17:57:39 -0000
Subject: 13.0530 Re: Proto-Catholilcs? Proto-Prods?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0530 Re: Proto-Catholilcs? Proto-Prods?

That I have Martin Steward's respect warms my cockles :)  Addressing his
last point and question:

"As you seem to believe that Shakespeare was Roman Catholic (not a view
I share), do you regard his Romanism as benign, and if so, how and why?"

I, like everyone else, have no proof of Shakespeare's confirmed
religion.  All I can say is that many of the plays and more so the poems
suggest a conservative morality; extreme maybe, perhaps a longing for
the days of Eden.  I refer to Love's Answer from the 20th poem in The
Passionate Pilgrim:

If that the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

The second line I find most intriguing.  We all know it is a long time
ago when shepherds knew how the wide world works.  A very long time
ago.  Is this a reference to a heavenly origin of mankind?  How young is
Shakespeare meaning in line one?  Even if my tenuous deliberation has
some merit it still does not make Shakespeare a Catholic until we
appreciate that conservative Christians in the 1590s would be more
attracted to Romanism than the apparently self-serving Anglicanism
barely 70 years old.  As in R&J, Titus and other plays, Shakespeare is
terrified of social chaos - hardly the calling card of a social
progressive.  But again we cannot apply modern constructs of religious
morality to Shakespeare's time.  Perhaps then Catholicism was more of a
political movement than a Christian flavour, as it is today.  Natural
conservatives have an instant aversion to any new ideas, especially when
the propagators take an aggressive stand, as Henry VIII and his daughter
Elizabeth both did against the old, orthodox Catholic world.  This would
also account for Shakespeare's apparently immoral gallivanting about
with young women in their bedchambers.  The narrowly focused, sexual
adventuring seems perhaps, in some ways, to be a harkening back to a
time of innocence and bliss.  A perfect antidote to the vile, real
politic of Westminster Hall.

Martin Steward, Kevin De Ornellas and Karen Peterson all object to my
description of the Papal attitude to Communism and Jews as 'loathing'.
There are remarkable reflections in the events of 1588 and political
adventures of the 20th century.  Orthodox Catholic Russia fell to the
Communists as did "God's sword arm", Spain, in 1936.  Communist support
came from all round the world as well as universities such as Oxford and
Cambridge.  The rising tide of Communist thought and action must have
been fearsome to the Cardinals and their Headship - and from that came
revenge and loathing.  The fact that Carl Marx was Jewish - the father
of Communist thought - was also not lost on them.  They actively sought
the destruction of both groups and supported the only political
organisation willing to make the stand - the Nazis.  Jews and Communists
became one and invited the appraisal of 'Satanic'.  It is also a piece
of self confession that the Communists intended to destroy Christianity
in a similar fashion that France and Spain intended to destroy the
Satanic Elizabeth and her demonic Anglicans.

If you get past the polite diplomacy of most western Christians and
scratch the surface just a little deep you will find that they will
admit to the thought that the world would be better if it were all
Christian.  A little deeper and they will tell you that Moslems,
Buddhists, Hindus etc are just plain wrong.  Cut them till it hurts and
they will tell you that those other groups are Satanic.  The sad truth
of this wide and wicked world is that all other organised religions have
exactly the same mindset.  Hence their desperate expansionist policies
which could take us all to hell.  And so we come right back to the
preoccupation of Shakespeare - the avoidance of destructive conflict.

To Mr De Ornellas I will say that I dislike being "suggestively vague".
It is unhelpful and time consuming.  Writing as you do from Belfast I am
aware that certain sensitivities are at risk but would like to reiterate
my previous words that Catholics workers on the ground have the ordinary
lives of people to cope with and have little time for the devious
whispers of Papal high office.  It is the Vatican that has the supreme
responsibility for the existence of the Catholic Church.  No pope wants
to be the last. Can we blame them for understanding Machiavelli too
well?

SAM SMALL

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