“French police have issued a call for help to find the man suspected of opening fire near a Christmas market in Strasbourg. Hundreds of police, soldiers and border agents on both sides of the Franco-German border are trying to find Chérif Chekatt, 29.
“Two people died and 13 were injured in the gun attack in the eastern French city on Tuesday evening. The gunman shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is greatest’) as he opened fire.
“Chérif Chekatt was already known to the French authorities as someone who had been radicalised into following an extreme form of Islam while in prison for crimes including robbery.”
This is absolutely appalling. How can we – by which I mean Western society in general, and Christians (or people claiming to be Christian) in particular, not, I hope and pray, readers of this blog – be so blind, and so foolish?
“An Act Concerning Religion.” That was the original title of what is colloquially known as the “Maryland Toleration Act of 1649,” the same year in which King Charles I (known by many Anglicans of an Anglo-Catholic and Royalist bent as King Charles the Martyr, or simply The Royal Martyr) was shamefully executed in an act of regicide by the so-called “Rump Parliament,” under the despicable Oliver Cromwell.
An attempt (only partly successful) to assure protection for Catholics in the proprietary Colony of Maryland in the wake of this act of regicide and England’s subsequent interregnum under the Puritan Parliament, later Protectorate, the Act – passed by the General Assembly of the Maryland Colony – sought to provide equal protection under law for all Trinitarian Christians, and at the same time, provide legal protection for Trinitarian Christianity (*) itself.
As such, it might, in retrospect, have been a better model (with some adjustments, discussed below) for our national view on the subject than the relevant clause of the First Amendment, which has since been stretched beyond all intention of the Founders, through what I cannot help but see as a perverse and willful misconstrual of Jefferson’s “wall of separation” comment. That appeared in a letter to the Danbury, Connecticut, Baptists, and was originally intended to assure religious people of their protection from the government, not the other way ’round.
The full text of the Maryland Toleration Act, in the original (rather archaic) form of English in which it was originally written, appears below. Its most salient section is reproduced here, in slightly updated language:
“That whatsoever person or persons within this Province and the Islands thereunto belonging shall from henceforth blaspheme God, that is Curse him, or deny our Saviour Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, or shall deny the holy Trinity [to be] the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost, or [who shall deny] the Godhead of any of the said Three persons of the Trinity or the Unity of the Godhead, or shall use or utter any reproachful speeches, words or language concerning the said Holy Trinity, or any of the said three Persons thereof, shall be punished with death [yes, it really does say that!] and confiscation or forfeiture of all his or her lands and goods to the Lord Proprietary and his heirs.”
In other words, anyone who publicly blasphemes or denies either the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity (*) or any portion thereof is to suffer both the death penalty, himself, and the seizure of his property and assets! There is also a clause prohibiting, basically, “talking smack” about a) the beliefs and practices of any particular branch of Christianity, or b) insulting practitioners of any form of Christianity not one’s own.
In other words, to put it in relatively simple and modern terms, you will not publicly denigrate Christianity, Christians, or Christian doctrine, and you will – at least publicly – be nice to other Christians. It is, frankly, hard for me to argue with either of those.
[The Act also includes a section prohibiting the profanation of the Christian Sabbath (Sunday, a.k.a. the Lord’s Day) “by frequent swearing, drunkenness or by any uncivil or disorderly recreation, or by working on that day when absolute necessity doth not require it.” I am old enough to remember the days of the “Blue Laws,” as they were called, when most places of business were closed on Sundays and other restrictions on secular activities (including sales of alcohol) were in place; and although at the time, I found it frustrating, as I have gotten older – and hopefully, more mature – I have come to realize the wisdom, both spiritually and practically, of keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest.]
Now, mind you, I am not suggesting the death penalty for anyone who fails to hold to or publicly confess the Trinitarian Christian faith! Not at all. In particular, what people believe in private is precisely that: private, and it is not the business of government to be snooping behind closed doors.
But under this system, you are not allowed to publicly assert that Christianity is a crock of bull, whatever your private opinions may be, and you must accept the basically Christian character of the society of which you are a member, if you wish to remain a member of that society. That seems entirely reasonable to me. Continue reading ““An Act Concerning Religion””
Some further details on the lifting of the Siege of Vienna:
On this day in history, September 12, 1683, the combined forces of the Holy Roman (German) Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (the Holy League), under the overall command of King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, moved into position to engage the Ottoman Turkish besiegers outside the walls of Vienna. Fierce clashes followed. Imperial / Holy League forces made headway against the Ottoman invaders, but were unable to conclusively defeat them.
At around 3:00 in the afternoon, King Jan began to move his cavalry into position. As they came out of the woods and began to form up, they were greeted with enthusiastic cheers by the allied troops. An hour later, about four o’clock, the Polish Winged Hussars launched an attack which battered the Turkish lines, causing great consternation and forcing the Turkish general to retreat to a more favorable position. Infantry forces continued the fight against the Ottomans.
At six o’clock came the final blow. In the largest cavalry charge in history, King Jan Sobieski launched 18,000 cavalry, led by his 3,000 Winged Hussars, against the Ottoman lines. They clove through the Turks like the proverbial “hot knife through butter,” breaking and scattering them completely and driving them from the field. As the attack crested, the Austrian defenders of Vienna sallied from their city to join in, adding the crowning blow.
The siege of Vienna had been broken, and the decades to follow would see the Muslim Turks driven almost completely out of Christian Europe. After the battle, King Jan III Sobieski (who would receive the title Defensor Fidei – “Defender of the Faith” – from Pope Innocent XI) reportedly announced, in an intentional modification of Julius Caesar’s famous phrase, “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit” — “I came, I saw, God conquered.”
Footnote: the Lithuanians have not been mentioned. That’s because King Jan left his kingdom almost completely undefended, bringing his entire army to the relief of Vienna! As a result, the Hungarians decided to take advantage of the situation and try to take Polish territory. The Lithuanians, also marching toward Vienna, turned aside to counter-attack the Hungarians. They were successful in driving them back, but it meant that the Lithuanian army did not arrive at Vienna until several days after the siege had been broken.
The Winged Hussars, led – as was the entire relief force sent by the Holy League to lift the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks – by King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, was a relatively small force: 3,000 out of the 18,000 cavalry that swept down the Kahlenburg and through the Turkish lines, shattering and scattering them (they were an even smaller portion of the overall army of the Holy League, which consisted of some 70-80,000 troops, vs approximately 150,000 Ottomans). But they were the point of the spear, the elite heavy cavalry of all Europe at the time.
This historic cavalry charge, the largest in history, served as the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Ride of the Rohirrim,” as the Siege of Vienna served as the inspiration for the Siege of Minas Tirith. More importantly, it also marked the end of Ottoman domination of southeastern Europe, and of the Muslim Turkish attempt to invade the European heartland. Had the battle not ended as it did, the history of Europe, and of the world, might be very different than what we know today. Enjoy this awesome musical tribute to the Winged Hussars, by Sabaton!
“We remember, in September, when the Winged Hussars arrived!”
The romanticism in Tolkien’s great saga was inspired partly by the actions of King Jan Sobieski during the Battle of Vienna in 1683, when Christian Europe stemmed the advance of militant Islam… (click the link below to read the full essay by Dwight Longenecker)
Although the battle which ultimately lifted the Siege of Vienna – capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and the gateway to Europe – by the Ottoman Turks in 1683 began on the 11th of September, I want to use the date to highlight primarily the tragic, yet also at times heroic, events of 9/11/2001. Nonetheless, because the great battle that saved Europe from domination by the Muslim Turks did begin on this day, I am posting this “teaser” on the event! I’ll post more on it tomorrow.
The author of the article quotes historian and biographer Militiades Varvounis:
“Jan Sobieski was one of the most illustrious rulers ever to command an army. He gained glory and fame in his thirties through his exceptional military skills and he was acknowledged as the greatest warrior-king of his time throughout the rest of his turbulent life. His patriotism, his strong faith and hope in God, his military reputation, his taste for arts and letters, and his talents—all these were legendary in his lifetime. Since World War II, no English work has been published about the king who saved Europe from the warriors of Islam at the Battle of Vienna (1683); a battle which was the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic cavalry charge of the Rohirrim that lifted the Siege of Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.”
Since my undergraduate, and a great deal of my graduate, studies were focused on the Middle Ages, I was not until fairly recently familiar with this battle, except as a name for an historical event. And so it was not until fairly recently that I came to realize that it was the Siege of Vienna (1683) – not the Siege of Constantinople, as I had originally thought – that served as the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Siege of Minas Tirith, and the Ride of the Rohirrim (who, though portrayed as mounted Anglo-Saxons, filled the role of the Polish Winged Hussars which were King Jan Sobieski III’s elite shock troops) which broke it.
Of King Jan of Poland, the original poster of this link had this to say:
“Jan Sobieski was one of the most extraordinary and visionary monarchs of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1674 until his death. He was a man of letters, an artistic person, a dedicated ruler but above all the greatest soldier of his time. Popular among his subjects, he won considerable fame for his decisive victory over the Ottomans at the walls of Vienna (1683). For defeating the Muslim invaders, Pope Innocent XI hailed Sobieski as the saviour of Christendom.”
Indeed! Had not King Jan Sobieski succeeded in lifting the Siege of Vienna, the history of Europe, and indeed the world, would have worked out far differently. The first among equals among our own Founders, George Washington, Father of our Country, frequently credited Divine Providence with intervening in our struggle for independence. I agree, but I also think that one of the chief agents of that intervention was George Washington himself. I think that much the same could be said of Jan Sobieski! But it was not the founding of a new nation that was the goal and the outcome, but the preservation of Christian civilization, and of the West itself.
His story should be known and recounted much more widely, in my opinion!
“6th grade. Science class. I remember turning to my teacher when he put it on the big screen and asking ‘How long ago did this happen?’ He looked at me with the saddest, terrified look I had ever seen in a 65 year old Vietnam veterans face and said ‘Son, this is happening right now.'”
I’m not 65, nor am I a Vietnam veteran – or a veteran of any sort; my military service is limited to a year in ROTC and a rather inactive stint with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary – but I, too, was teaching a 6th grade class: at the Carroll County Outdoor School. And I will never forget that, either…