Dispatches from Wolf Country — Fifth Monarchy Man

They go off, consult with various demonic influences -- Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Nietzsche, Fries, Laffler, Jack Kemp and St Ronald -- and come up with tax bills and health care bills and so on to feed off to the great Poobah President, who delights in signing his name to things that he can call a win. 

Trump, Farage and Parcel of UKIP Twits and Rogues –Daily Mail Photo, 11/16

What force or guile could not subdue 
Thro’ many warlike ages, 
Is wrought now by a coward few 
For hireling traitor’s wages. 
The English steel we could disdain, 
Secure in valour’s station. 
But English gold has been our bane: 
Sic a parcel of rogues in a nation! 
But, pith and power, till my last hour, 
I’ll make this declaration: 
We were bought and sold for English gold! 
Sic a parcel of rogues in a nation! — Robert Burns

Ah, England. It’s like we don’t have enough crazy twerps here in the USA, the President — our Crazy Small Handed Twerp in Chief — chose to import phony outrage and racism from England First! and embarrass himself as well as us, again. On the other hand, they have rugby and The Guardian and people like Giles Fraser to help us find some meaning and some hope in the oddest places.

We may be on the road to Hell, but there are still detours and turnoffs available. And, the Princess Bride and her Rugby-fanatic, bearded Infantryman Prince might make us more conscious and more open to alternatives. Or, this might be like what the Charles-Diana thing could have been had Charles not been an old savant with a fixation on a married woman’s underwear, and Diana one step away from the finishing school and pre-ordained life of genteel poverty as a preschool teacher.

“Loose Canon” Giles Fraser is an Anglican priest who moved from the role of Canon-Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral to take charge of a parish in Elephant and Castle, South London. To an American Catholic or otherwise that may seem a bit esoteric. Consider that St Paul’s in the Anglican hierarchy ranks with Canterbury and Westminster. The role of Canon Chancellor would be an imprimatur for “big things expected of this guy.” And, he resigned, looked for a place where he felt he do more good and be more authentic. If Cardinal Ratzinger had decided to pass on the Papacy and take over a diocese in Rwanda, for example or Cape Town, or in Pomerania, it would have been perhaps a parallel…bit more extreme, perhaps but along those lines. So,let’s just say that Fraser is sincere, has the chops to back up what he says as a priest and a man, and is articulate, hard to convince, and knows his stuff about that bloke Jesus and all that theological stuff…

Prince Harry (center), aka Captain Wales, enjoying his job for one of the last times…

Meghan Markle is also an interesting person. An American actress, activist and woman of color, she’s going to do things with her role that will probably be a bit more real than most royal spouses.  Harry, who is an exceptionally interesting guy himself based on his tours with his regiment in Afghanistan — the last Royal I can think of to get shot at was his grandfather who wasn’t Royal yet, as Phillip Mountbatten didn’t become a “royal” until marrying Elizabeth. His great grandfather served with distinction in World War I in the Navy as did his brother, the later Duke of Windsor, of whom the less said the better.

So, an unconventional guy with a built in bully pulpit and the proven ability to show “a bit of Harry in the night!” and an unconventional woman with a track record of caring about and serving people are going into the cauldron that is the House Windsor. Could be interesting.

That said, Fraser’s article is really about the compromise and conflict of religion and government. Jesus as Lord turns the whole concept upside down, and while Christian theologians and philosophers from Augustine tried to flip it again, it doesn’t work if you pay attention to what “He” said as opposed to how they obfuscated it. As Fraser says, Jesus’ coronation was on the Cross.

Everything proceeds pretty much according to plan until something actually needs to happen

So throughout the parade of Christendom, this tension between Government and God has played out in some interesting ways. We forget when we look at the history of western religions that the early Church of the Christ-Followers Peter and James and Mark was quickly overtaken by the Church of Paul. Paul was an educated man, and attracted other educated men like Luke and John the Revelator who had been brought up in a world of Roman order and Greek Philosophy. In a way, we can blame it on the Neo-Platonists.

We know that there were more than four gospels. The early Church imposed a government on itself, appointed a committee who took all the gospels, epistles, texts like Revelations and various other laundry lists and determined which ones were the “Actual Word of God” and which were the ravings of lunatics. This was somewhat more problematic than we might think. Consider someone trying to collect the definitive works of Communism, for example. The Manifesto, Kapital and other works of Marx and Engels. Lenin of course; but, what about Trotsky? Stalin? Mao? The Anarchist’s Cookbook? Reed’s Ten Days that Shook the World? It becomes more and more challenging.

Homeless Family, LA County, ELATC Photo, 6-12-17

In general, the emergent church which was already riven with disagreements and rivalries, settled on 27 books that were considered the Canon. A lot of writings that were circulated and popular seemed to not fit either the basic trend of the teachings as understood by the bishops and scholars making lists and checking them twice. Various early fathers of the Church like St Augustine and St Athanasius and Tertullian were involved along with various other lesser lights — Bishops Eusebius,  Origen, and Irenaeus had a variety of meetings over a couple of centuries until the list was ultimately finalized at the First Council of Rome during the reign of Constantine.

Only two things that definitely happened to Jesus–He was born, and he was crucified

If you’d like a more modern example, think of the either the Little Council in the Game of Thrones where important people of various degrees of ignorance and merit based on the whim of the Crown establish rules and procedures in the time-ordered way of such groups. Bribery, simony, vice, rivalry, feuds, nepotism, dynastic power struggles.

Or, think of the various groups within the overall group that make up the Republican caucus in Paul Ryan’s and Mitch McConnell’s Congress. They go off, consult with various demonic influences — Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Nietzsche, Fries, Laffler, Jack Kemp and St Ronald — and come up with tax bills and health care bills and so on to feed off to the great Poohbah President, who delights in signing his name to things that he can call a win.

In both cases, everything proceeds pretty much according to plan until something actually needs to happen and then like a bar band that has no idea how to end a forty-minute rendition of Louie Louis just kind of drifts off…

As if Cardinal Ratzinger had decided to pass on the Papacy and take over a diocese in Rwanda…

The difference between the Little Councils of GOT or the Republican Congress is that Constantine was perfectly willing to crucify people who didn’t get with the program and had the Legions to do it. Constantine took over the Church by making it “his” church. He imposed something like the Roman system of military governance, with dioceses and parishes under the control of various centrally appointed bishops. The Church from its beginning as an organization was naturally bureaucratic but riven by sects, cults and rivalries.

Constantine set in motion a method of organizing cults, sects, rivalries and the good people on both sides that was unforgiving of deviance and focused on God’s glory as shown by the glory of the Emperor. Rome is supplanted by Constantinople, the empire falls, the Pope in Rome replaces the emperor as head of the church in the west, and the various other isolated churches in places like Ethiopia, Egypt and Armenia to a greater or lesser degree.

Then came the Protestant Reformation. It took various forms in various places with varying results but the British model of established Church with the King as the Head of the Church resulted in making in inherent conflict between Crown and Christ prevalent although at times quiet and at other times uproarious.

The Fifth Monarchy refers to a radical Puritan sect that believed that the next great Empire was at hand, coming probably around 1666 because of the biblical importance in Revelations of those numbers. This would be the last great empire, where Christ would return and rule the world for a thousand years followed by…something else. The group was made up of various movers and shakers in the Puritan movement which actually reminds me a bit of the Republican  and Democratic parties as they go through their various existential crises. Lots of disparate groups and cults and sects lumped under a title.

Other Puritan groups included the Diggers and the Levelers, who preached the end of cultural and economic hierarchy, a kind of earthy English Renaissance socialism. Others, led in part by Cromwell, were more focused on the rights of the small landholder and gentry versus the Crown and the King. Of course, ultimately Cromwell won, and then the Crown returned after his death because after Cromwell, the Puritans didn’t have a clue. Not unlike the Republicans after Reagan or the Democrats after Clinton and Obama.

The Diggers, the Levelers and the Fifth Monarchy Men all represent a never-ending but seldom ascendant trend in Christianity and also in western political and social history. It’s constantly in tension with the desire for organization and structure — in what Giles Fraser sees as the Fifth Monarchy Tendency versus the Henry VIII tendency of the state. If you are an Anglican Christian in the United Kingdom, what does it mean? That you do what the largely old, largely white, largely male Anglican Assembly of Bishops tell the Queen what to tell you to think and do? Or, do you bother to read the New Testament, and then act accordingly, which is probably not the way the Tories or the DUP want you to act.

Should there be justice, just rule, or Rule? The Diggers and the Levelers and I suspect that God-crazed carpenter in Judea two thousand years ago would come down on the side of justice regardless of reality; the 5th Monarchy would advocate the just rule under Christ when he returns; and, Constantine, Henry VIII and Mitch McConnell would come down heavily on the side of RULE!

Fraser’s piece is really a question for Harry and Meegan and the rest of us — which side are you on? What do you think the world should be like — Peace, Love and Woodstock? Fair, Equitable, Charitable, and Productive? Or Organized, Neat and Controlled?

Constantine set in motion a method of organizing cults, sects, rivalries and the good people on both sides that was unforgiving of deviance

It’s worth noting that when Fifth Monarchy types achieve absolute control, they generally end up like Cromwell — an absolute Dictator often pursued beyond the grave, dragged from the tomb, hung, drawn and quartered and their head displayed dipped in tar on London Bridge. I’m having problems thinking of a successful Digger or Leveler regime anyplace. And the most effective of the RULE types are such that we hardly know they are there…until there’s a late night knock on the door, a bag over your head, and off you go.

 

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