Friday, August 31, 2007

Hail Britannia

This morning, driving to work, I pressed anxiously through my radio's preset buttons as I often do. The Thanksgiving Service honoring the memory of Princess Diana caught my ear. I stopped my nervous ritual, relaxed, and listened to a beautiful hymn performed by chorus and orchestra.

I did not recognize the hymn but it didn't seem to matter. The resonant intonations provoked memories and stories of Britain's splendor. I thought of Churchill and the Battle of Britain, of Mel Gibson's rendering of William Wallace in Braveheart, of Queens Elizabeth and Victoria, and of William Shakespeare.

Earlier, while readying for work, I had caught some of the service televised live on Fox News. Held in the chapel of Prince Harry's military unit, the setting did not possess near the majesty and grace of other British high-church events that I have seen through the years. Nevertheless, the pomp and circumstance of British culture, even in its simplest form, still stirs my blood. And in my view, no church has captured the beauty component of the "goodness, truth and beauty" triad quite like the Anglican Church.

The Church of England's controvertible beginning clouded its future. King Henry VIII's chicanery and corruption led to his break with the Roman Church and his installation as the supreme head of his newly-founded Church of England. His quest for a male heir and his lustful ways led Henry down a path that took him through six different wives. He even ordered the execution of two of them.

Despite the turpitude surrounding its birth, the Church of England not only survived, but went on to flourish. Its Book of Common Prayer remains the source for much of early Protestantism's liturgical underpinnings. In my view, the grace and beauty of Anglican services remain unsurpassed in Christendom.

On the heels of Britain's break with Rome, several luminaries emerged, establishing the ideological groundwork for the birth of our own nation. John Knox, the Scottish reformer whose sermons and writings are the cornerstones of Scottish Presbyterianism, also influenced the early Puritans, who, along with the Separatists (Pilgrims), established a strong beachead of Christianity in the new world of New England.

The Scottish Presbyterian scholar, Samuel Rutherford, penned Lex Rex: the Law and the Prince which espoused the idea of "the rule of law" as superior to "the divine right of kings." From Lex Rex we derive the more common phrase, "the law is king," the antithesis of "the king is law."

Rutherford's ideas influenced John Locke, an English philosopher whose writings nurtured the social contract theory, a precursor to the idea of national self-government under a mutually agreed-upon contract or constitution. The concept of the right to personal property sits at the core of Locke's ideas. He identified the human conscience as "the most sacred of all property," a possession that no individual should be forced to surrender. His ideas and writings influenced America's founders, particularly Jefferson's penning of our Declaration of Independence.

Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Law of England likewise sowed seeds which sprouted in American soil. A Puritan, Blackstone influenced the thinking of our nation's founders, particularly in the realm of God's gift of unalienable rights to every person. His writings became instrumental in shaping both English and American law.

For several hundred years, Britain spread her culture throughout the globe. British world dominance, both militarily and culturally, is widely characterized as imperialistic in nature. At one time, Britain boasted colonies on every continent except for Antartica.

British influence can still be seen in places like India, which now boasts the world's largest democratically governed nation with over a billion people. Among a myriad of other countries, the Brits occupied Egypt (1882-1954), Afghanistan (1878-1880), Iraq (1918-1945), South Africa (1910-1961), and Kenya (1888-1963).

English has become the dominant language in business, science, communications, aviation, and diplomacy throughout the world. So wide is Britain's remaining influence, that the nations which still employ English as their primary language are considered part of the "Anglosphere." Great Britain is also the home of the "Commonwealth of Nations," a voluntary association of fifty-three sovereign countries, most former colonial outposts of the British Empire. Australia, Canada, and India are the largest among them. These three, along with Kenya, Nigeria, New Zealand, and forty-six others, together count almost two billion people, or one third of the world's population, allied with, and still influenced to some degree, by Great Britain.

Though not a member of the "Commonwealth of Nations, our own nation, the U.S.A., is also Britain's offspring. Great Britain remains our closest ally. Despite our split in 1776, the subsequent Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812 in which the Brits burned down the Whitehouse, we are today best of friends.

We have joined forces in a number of wars including WWI and WWII. Brits and Americans worked hand-in-hand, planning and plotting for the invasion on Normandy. Our leaders and diplomats, as well as our top-level security people, work together, sharing information and intellegence.

Sadly today, with the swell of immigrants flooding into Britain, the face and shape of this great nation is shifting quickly. Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, documents the dominance of Islamic influence and power in various sectors of this great city, once the hub of Western, Christian culture. Because of political correctness, and the fear of confronting and offending, these pockets of anti-Western communities are growing stronger and stronger by the year.

Outwardly, Britain still reflects much of the majesty of her former glory. But inwardly, Britain is struggling to find its way through the morass of multiculturalism. Where British culture once dominated the world scene, it is now, itself, under threat of domination by those who seek to destroy her.

Western, Christian culture, led chiefly by Britian and the U.S., has given much to the world. Britain's seeds of self-government, and their offspring of political freedom and economic prosperity, have delivered billions of people from the curse of poverty and oppression.

When I hear the strains of the great British hymns, and see their people, their queen, and all that attend them, celebrating British life and culture, a sadness often comes over me. I cannot help but wonder how many more years it will be before this sickness which has stricken her, will bring about her last breath.

But I also harbor a hope that Great Britain, and to a lesser degree, our own America, will soon awake from the curse of multiculturalism and political correctness, those enfeebling afflictions, and rise to retake their place once more as respected leaders of the world.

Hail Britannia!


At 6:34 AM, Anonymous said...

I loved reading your post about our two countries. I've not very often come across something of its nature; to hear you speak so fondly of my country was very welcome.

I remember when the twin towers went down in New York and there was a flight restriction on people returning to the US. Queen Elizabeth II broke with centuries of tradition and ordered her band at Buckingham Palace to play the American National Anthem for all the Americans gathered around the palace who were as of that moment stranded.

I can remember thinking, as all those gathered around began to cry and hug each other, the simple magnitude of the gesture hinted at the connection we often overlook.

I agree that multiculturalism is a problem; where there are differences, conflicts of interest will naturally arise, and the native or predominant culture has to be the one to step down, or claims of racism are levied. I think perhaps, with cultures as with everything; the purer it is, the more easily it is tainted. I return the hope for your country; it is only ours that would leave themselves supine and suffer an invasion by occupation.

Once again, great post; it was so very good to read


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