Friday Five – Volume 62

Friday Five_notepad

— 1 —

The hand-wringing concern trolls were at it again over at NBC a few weeks ago. What are they afraid of this time?

ROME — Pope Francis canonized more than 800 Catholics in Saint Peter’s Square Sunday – the largest number to be elevated to sainthood at once in the history of the Catholic Church.

The choice of some of the new saints was also striking, touching on the already-fragile relationship between Christianity and Islam.

The new saints included hundreds of laymen from the southern Italian port town of Otranto who were slain in the 15th century by the invading Ottoman Turkish army after they refused to convert to Islam.

Hundreds = the 813 Martyrs of Otranto. Here they are.

Skulls of the martyrs inside the Otranto Cathedral

Skulls of the martyrs inside the Otranto Cathedral

Why were they executed by the Muslims who invaded their city? They refused to convert to Islam when the city fell to Ottoman forces.

On 11 August, after a 15-day siege, Gedik Ahmed ordered the final assault, which broke through the defenses and captured the citadel. When the walls were breached the Turks began fighting their way through the town. upon reaching the cathedral “they found Archbishop Stefano Agricolo, fully vested and crucifix in hand” awaiting them with Count Francesco Largo and Bishop Stefano Pendinelli. “The archbishop was beheaded before the altar, his companions were sawn in half, and their accompanying priests were all murdered.” After desecrating the Cathedral, they gathered the women and older children to be sold into Albanian slavery. Men over fifty, small children, and infants were slain.

According to some historical accounts, a total of 12,000 were killed and 5,000 enslaved, including victims from the territories of the Salentine peninsula around the city.

Eight hundred able-bodied men were told to convert to Islam or be slain.

And so on May 12, 2013, Pope Francis finished a canonical process that had begun in 1539 and saw the martyrs beatified by Pope Clement XIV in 1771. NBC’s fear?

(That) … the choice to highlight their sacrifice may put a strain on the already fragile relationship between the Catholic Church and Islam. … So why risk creating yet another inter-faith row with a celebration which some in the Muslim world may be seen as a provocation?

Golly, I hope this doesn’t upset anyone especially since our courts recently convicted a Muslim for converting a Christian to Islam and sentenced him to six years in prison and 300 lashes for doing so. NBC will really have their knickers in a twist over this.

Oh waitthat isn’t exactly what happened. Never mind.

— 2 —

Some thoughts on the modern pillars of tolerance and relativism from the First Things blog:

If tolerance is understood as forbearance toward what is morally repugnant, it is not morally indifferent or neutral but is morally founded. Endurance of the intolerable can be a virtue, but it’s a question whether it’s a virtue that can fly in our age of moral relativism. Tolerance in this sense is subverted not supported by relativism.

If tolerance is understood as indifference toward difference, it will wither away over time. If everything is truly indifferent, then tolerance becomes unnecessary. Apathy will be sufficient.

If tolerance is celebration of difference, then it clashes with some of the other desiderata of modern culture. Celebration of difference, Ward points out, must include celebration of the groups that transmit that diversity. What if the group is hostile to toleration? Should its intolerance be celebrated? What if the group imposes an orthodoxy on its members? Should the limit of individual freedom be celebrated?

Judging from NBC and their acolytes in the rest of the media, our politicians and a growing number of citizens, apathy is already more than sufficient.

— 3 —

In The Abolition of Man C.S. Lewis wrote:

You cannot go on ‘explaining away’ for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.

Yet this is exactly what we do. We’ve taken away the mystery or unexplained circumstance and replaced it with the hubris of whatever conspiracy we can invent. Modern man snubs ancient man and civilizations of the past in order to elevate their own sense of importance. Tradition is a misguided relic of those too stupid and unenlightened to know better. All of which are easily debunked just as Anthony Esolen does in this five minute video: Were the Middle Ages Dark?

In what is arguably one of the single greatest paragraphs ever composed by man G.K. Chesterton wrote of this folly:

But there is one thing that I have never from my youth up been able to understand. I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. The man who quotes some German historian against the tradition of the Catholic Church, for instance, is strictly appealing to aristocracy. He is appealing to the superiority of one expert against the awful authority of a mob. It is quite easy to see why a legend is treated, and ought to be treated, more respectfully than a book of history. The legend is generally made by the majority of people in the village, who are sane. The book is generally written by the one man in the village who is mad. Those who urge against tradition that men in the past were ignorant may go and urge it at the Carlton Club, along with the statement that voters in the slums are ignorant. It will not do for us. If we attach great importance to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when we are dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable. Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition; it seems evident to me that they are the same idea. We will have the dead at our councils. The ancient Greeks voted by stones; these shall vote by tombstones. It is all quite regular and official, for most tombstones, like most ballot papers, are marked with a cross. 

— 4 —

Vashon Island coffin maker Marcus Daly believes a coffin’s most important feature is that it can be carried. Here’s why.

H/T: New Advent

— 5 —

Daly’s comments on all of us carrying the load, and on death as a doorway, brought to mind these lines from Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep. 

The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt’ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

In the end we all share the same destination, whether we tolerate the reality and tradition of death or not. The great. The lowly. The big. The small. The powerful. The insignificant. All destined for an earthly “narrow cell”.

But this cell is a doorway…


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