Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's a wonder we're here...

I have just strarted a biography of Shakespeare by Park Honan. In the opening pages, where Honan describes the political and religious climate preceding Shakespeare's birth, I read the following charming account.

"Under Henry VIII, [Queen Mary's] father, few people had known from day to day which opinions were orthodox and which heretical; but Queen Mary was clearer. A woman of inflexible honesty with a dim, obstinate mind, she pressed ahead with heresy trials, supported by her bureaucracy. Stratford [Shakespeare's birth place] became the eye of a circle of martyr fires at Coventry, Lichfield, Gloucester, Wotton-under-Edge, Banbury, Oxford, Northampton, and Leicester. Women and tradesmen were burned--and a baby born in Coventry's fire was thrown back into the hard, burning faggots. Lest anyone forget these events John Foxe, in his "Book of Martyrs" or Actes and Monuments, published a year before Shakespeare's birth, was to describe them in lurid detail."
No doubt, those stoking the fires believed they were the right hand of God.
Lest we think that humanity is any more civilized... I just read yesterday, on CNN, that the suicide car bombers of Iraq have undertaken a brave new strategy. To get through the various checkpoints, they have just started carrying children in the back seats of their cars. In the bombing yesterday, two men drove a van into a market and just prior to detonation, jumped out, leaving the children to explode in the back seat.
They were muslim...
The problem with atheism is an absence of Hell.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Faith is an amazing thing. I have the remembrance of what it was like to be a person of faith. You take a stance, then you seek as hard as you can to find good reasons to support your stance. Even in the face of contrary evidence, faith still seeks reasons to continue believing. It doesn't weigh evidence; it scours books and burns midnight oil trying to find only the specific evidence it needs. Some people are much more courageous fighters for faith and have a much higher threshold for tolerating opposing evidence. There is even one scientist who read through the bible with a pair of scissors cutting out all the parts that would not be true according to a modern scientific understanding. At the end he was left with a tattered pamphlet, and decided that he must therefore reject modern science in order to salvage God's word. True story.