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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: September ::
My Name Is Will
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0543  Wednesday, 10 September 2008

[1]  From:    Larry Weiss <
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      Date:    Friday, 05 Sep 2008 23:03:06 -0400
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0532 My Name Is Will

[2]  From:    Mike Shapiro <
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      Date:    Saturday, 6 Sep 2008 11:08:53 -0700
      Subj:    RE: SHK 19.0532 My Name Is Will

[3]  From:    Donald Bloom <
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      Date:    Saturday, 6 Sep 2008 09:42:27 -0500
      Subj:    RE: SHK 19.0532 My Name Is Will

[4]  From:    Nicole Coonradt <
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      Date:    Sunday, 07 Sep 2008 20:04:58 +0000
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0532 My Name Is Will


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Larry Weiss <
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Date:       Friday, 05 Sep 2008 23:03:06 -0400
Subject: 19.0532 My Name Is Will
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0532 My Name Is Will

 >I wonder if Larry Weiss could explain and provide some evidence for
 >Campion as would-be hit-man "actively trying to kill the queen"? That
 >statement confuses me. Do you mean that he actually was or that
 >QEI and her supporters believed that he was?

I think this thread started with a question as to whether Mary or Elizabeth was 
more bloody. In that context, the distinction between a treasonous Campion and a 
Campion only believed to be making attempts to kill the queen is not to the point.

The known facts are that Fr. Campion, S.J. was a Jesuit priest who had entered 
England illegally, disguised himself while there, traveled under a false name, 
concealed his real identity and hid among people known to advocate restoration 
of Catholic England. He was tried for treason or compassing the life of the 
queen, or both, and evidence was submitted that he had conspired with others 
both before and after his entry into England to achieve that goal. He was 
convicted. Maybe the evidence was cooked up; maybe Campion did no more than 
enter the country illegally and preach forbidden doctrine (probably a capital 
offense in itself). However, after 450 years, it is a bit late to ask for a new 
trial.

Perhaps the crucial fact is that Campion was not executed for being a Catholic, 
practicing Catholicism, or even celebrating mass and preaching Catholic dogma. 
He was executed for conspiring to murder the sovereign. A protestant who did 
such a thing -- or was believed to do such a thing -- would have fared no 
better. Think of Essex.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Mike Shapiro <
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Date:       Saturday, 6 Sep 2008 11:08:53 -0700
Subject: 19.0532 My Name Is Will
Comment:    RE: SHK 19.0532 My Name Is Will

[Editor's Note: The link in Mike Shapiro previous post was faulty. This one 
works. -Hardy]

I find Nicole's comment, "Do we imagine that the Bard lived in such unrest but 
was unaffected by it, that it did not influence his art?" intriguing. I have 
often wondered what the morning commute would be like crossing London Bridge 
viewing decapitations stuck on sticks. I have heard accounts of heightened 
sensitivity (some have referred to this as a kind of mysticism) resulting from 
exposure to persistent and severe danger such as combat. But I was unable to 
find any documentation related to its impact on art. Most likely, insiders aware 
of current political haps during the Bard's time had fight or flight reflex, 
even PTSD. Life had to have been cheap given complicated births, injury, plague, 
war and treason convictions. For me, a compelling question is was there inherent 
mortal risk associated with writing and, if so, can we speculate about its 
impact on the Sweet Swan of Avon?

Someday there may be a genetic sequence map of WS and research as to which of 
his Epigenomes http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/epigenomics were turned on and which 
turned off.

Mike Shapiro

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Donald Bloom <
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Date:       Saturday, 6 Sep 2008 09:42:27 -0500
Subject: 19.0532 My Name Is Will
Comment:    RE: SHK 19.0532 My Name Is Will

There's a great deal of loaded language in this discussion that is puzzling (and 
troubling) to me. For example, Jess Winfield says of Thomas Campion, "His stand 
seems to have been one advocating a simple freedom of religion."

Although possible, I find this highly unlikely. He might have advocated license 
for Catholics to receive the sacraments after the Roman form, but freedom of 
religion? Did he advocate such freedom for Protestants in Catholic countries? 
Including the England of his dreams, where Catholicism would once more be the 
state religion.

Nicole Coonradt says (rather vituperatively),

"Of course the Protestants did not think the Catholics were "real" Christians 
and "Papist" is indeed a bitter word. Look at the source. The point is that the 
Protestants did not behave as Christians, not whether they believed those they 
killed were Christians. It's beyond comprehension how anyone can perform 
unspeakable tortures and executions in the name of Christ. How is this behavior 
not hypocritical? Isn't Christ supposed to be about love and mercy? And how is 
the "evidence" of the Pope as anti-Christ being used? Yes, the idea did 
originate with the Reformation, which is rather key. Do people like Paisley 
strike us as acting in a Christian manner-you know, "love thy neighbor," 
etc.?Certainly they think they are, but is that the reality? Was it in 
Shakespeare's day? Was he blind to such details? Do we imagine that the Bard 
lived in such unrest but was unaffected by it, that it did not influence his art?"

I find too many problems here to sort them all out, but will only pick out a few 
of the more important ones.

1) Separating the horrors of the Reformation struggles into Protestants 
persecuting Catholics is silly. Wherever one side had the upper hand, it 
generally persecuted the other as much as it could -- in part because it hated 
that other side, in part because it feared that the other side might seize the 
upper hand from it and become the persecutors instead of the victims.

2) Whether any of them behaved as "Christians" or not requires defining the term 
not as someone who accepts Christ as his or her lord and savior, but as someone 
who follows a certain set of precepts. Thus, if they lapse from those precepts 
(or do so to some specifiable degree), they no longer qualify for the title. 
This is arguable -- and indeed interesting to me -- but not precisely relevant here.

3) The matter of "unspeakable tortures" also requires assuming that such 
punishments were inappropriate to the offense. I would think so. Ms. Coonradt 
would think so. But as near as I can tell nobody in Shakespeare's time thought 
so. Applying a modern moral judgment to a practice of 500 years ago is 
distracting. It has to do with moral philosophy not with historical understanding.

She also says, "Winfield was right-- the clever shift is that the Protestant 
laws made a refusal to take the oath(s) not heresy but treason."

I need a bit of clarification. Why would refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy 
not be treason? The issue was clear: if you supported the anointed monarch, you 
were a loyal subject; if you refused, you were a traitor. Isn't that what the 
terms mean?

What difference did it make if you refused on grounds of religion or not? You 
might possibly be a Protestant and believe that Mary of Scotland was the 
rightful monarch, and might believe it so strongly that you would refuse to take 
the oath and accept some degree of martyrdom. To the queen and her advisors you 
would be no less a traitor.

I don't say that it wasn't a "clever shift," whatever that may mean exactly. But 
it seems slightly perverse to rip the Protestants over it. Implicitly, the 
Catholics would not be so coy about it, but simply burn you alive out of hand. 
Or does Coonradt believe that the Catholics would have assumed a tolerant, 
kindly, Christian position?

Pardon this rather lengthy response, but it strikes me as important to keep a 
certain distance between our contemporary moral attitudes and those of earlier 
eras. I don't advocate moral relativism -- far from it -- but to understand the 
time, and especially its greatest writer, we have to keep those modern attitudes 
from clouding our judgment as much as possible.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Nicole Coonradt <
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Date:       Sunday, 07 Sep 2008 20:04:58 +0000
Subject: 19.0532 My Name Is Will
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0532 My Name Is Will

  A quick reply about a technical point. How could there be a "don't ask don't 
tell policy"? Didn't the laws and making Englishmen, and specifically recusant 
Catholics, take the oath(s) do just that very thing? That is, very specifically 
asked them to reveal their faith-- or renounce it?


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