Cribb Comment and Prequel:
The following diatribe revolves around King Henry the 8th. Henry via the Reformation has cut ties with the Papacy and its associated supreme religious authority and doctrine. He uses the guise of supposedly doing this as a champion defender of Martin Luther in his efforts to reform the Catholic Church’s corruption and greed. Revealingly of his bias, despotism, and genuine intent, Henry replaces the Pope’s authority with his own as the head of the Church of England. The King’s true motivation for these actions is simply to obtain a “legal and church ordained” divorce from Queen Catherine, so he may marry Anne Boleyn. Henry moves forward with questions remaining within and without the country about the validity of his divorce from Catherine and his new assertion as the head of the Church of England. Meanwhile, Anne Boleyn becomes pregnant with Henry’s child and Henry decides there can be no question regarding the line of succession to the throne. Henry mandates that every Englishman must take an Oath of Allegiance declaring their loyalty to the Boleyn line of succession. Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher are the only two church leaders who refuse to take the Oath on the principle that Henry the 8th does not have the authority to change or alter the law of God.
Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More are both eventually executed, but before STM receives his sentence, many attempts are made by various people to persuade him to change his mind and take the Oath even though he knows doing so would bastardize his relationship with God (turning his back and his faith on God) and reveal him to be an utter hypocrite in his entire faith and thus his entire life. Of interest is a scene where STM’s family plead with him to take the Oath to save his life and he asks “Would you have me do so to betray God, our heavenly Father….to dismiss my faith and commitment to him completely, to simply stay alive and on earth with you?” And with their answer, it becomes apparent to STM, that his family are a bunch of hypocrites…and that they do not have a true faith in God and that they will say anything, regardless of how immoral or heretical, to remain physically alive. They would even have him fall from grace in his own eyes just to keep him around.
The stark opposition of these two martyrs with the rest of England is more than apparent to show the actual “devotion of faith and belief” in proclaimed followers of the church and laws of God, when the question is actually put to the ultimate test. This extremely high level of absent “true faith and fortitude” mirrors the same level present in our current day “Christian” society. The constant debauchery, willful sins, and hypocritical approach to God’s law in the time of Henry the 8th is more than apparent in this story. Again, I believe most Christians of the present day, would easily see “this” in that time period, but also absolutely deny the almost identical state and situation in our present day, and within their own lives.
I find STM’s response below to why he cannot do as everyone else has done to be compelling and very telling of a man of true honor and integrity. His same response is an argument against the “doublespeak” that G. Orwell warns us so diligently about, the fractured rational of reasoning that A. Rand displays as a supreme threat, and endless distractions which A. Huxley sites as impairing our ultimate peace and transcendence. This statement is about much more than just Christianity or religion. It is about the battle between those who deconstruct their mind perpetually versus those who do not.
The king accuses you of stubbornness and obstinacy for not giving your reasons. You must have some view of the statute.
Sir Thomas More:
I have this view, that parliament is like a double edged sword for every man answer one way, it confounds his body, and if he answers another, it confounds his soul.
But, if you do not answer at all, you will incur penalties. His Majesty has commanded me to draw up an Act of Attainder…..this will make your imprisonment permanent.
Poor Alison (Sir Thomas More’s wife).
Why will you not take the oath?……thousands have. Many share your beliefs and your faith…..and yet, not your…scruples.
Well, as for that, some may do it for favor, and some for fear, and some may perhaps think they can later repent and be shriven and that God will forgive them…and some others may be of a mind that if they say one thing, but think another, then their oath goes upon what they think and not upon what they say, but I cannot use such ways in so great a matter.
In which case and in all honesty, Sir Thomas, you are likely to pay the ultimate price.
Mr. Cromwell, there really is not difference between us than that I shall die today and you tomorrow.
The Tudors (Showtime Series)