Scops and Skalds

Becoming a Poet in Anglo-Saxon England
 by emily thornbury
 cambridge, 338 pages, $99 My years of mandatory Latin began when I was eleven. Almost immediately I hated the language more than the mandatory tie and jacket that made me an easy target for bullying on the six public buses I rode each . . . . Continue Reading »

“Wolf Hall” and Upmarket Anti-Catholicism

Wolf Hall, the BBC adaptation of Hillary Mantel’s novel about early Tudor England, began airing on PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater” Easter Sunday night. It’s brilliant television. It’s also a serious distortion of history. And it proves, yet again, that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable bigotry in elite circles in the Anglosphere.The distortions and bias are not surprising, considering the source. Hillary Mantel is a very talented, very bitter ex-Catholic who’s said that the Church today is “not an institution for respectable people” (so much for the English hierarchy’s decades-long wheedling for social acceptance). As she freely concedes, Mantel’s aim in her novel was to take down the Thomas More of A Man for All Seasons—the Thomas More the Catholic Church canonized—and her instrument for doing so is More’s rival in the court of Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell. Continue Reading »

An Ever Evolving Queen

don’t go all gooey over royalty, especially British royalty, but that didn’t stop my daughter, when in middle school, from becoming an anglophile. She attended British-American high teas in Kansas City several times and, in company with a woman actually from London, sang God Save the Queen. Once, when we visited New York, she overhead English accents and made me go over and ask them to join our table. The couple did and we had a pleasant time, though they didn’t drink tea as she thought they should have. Now twenty-two, I think she’s mostly over it. Continue Reading »

Spurgeon at Year's End

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a cigar-smoking Baptist pastor in Victorian London whose influence, even in his own lifetime, extended far beyond the bounds of his own nation and denomination. Known as “the boy wonder of the fens” for his notable preaching in the villages of Cambridgeshire, Spurgeon took London by storm when he was only nineteen years of age. Continue Reading »

A Penny for the Guy

Within two weeks of his return from Rome in 1586, Father Robert Garnet had been selected to be the superior of the Jesuit mission in England. For twenty years he persisted: traveling, hiding, celebrating the sacraments, and coordinating the movements of his brother priests. By 1606, however, Garnet . . . . Continue Reading »