All posts by Brendan King

When Tolkien Met Dante

About a year ago, while reading Dorothy Sayers’ translation of “The Divine Comedy” aloud to a terminally ill friend, I was struck by the behavioral similarities between the demons in Dante’s “Inferno” and the Orcs in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”.’

Both share a viciousness toward their prisoners, both have to be forced to follow the orders of senior ranks, and both are just as prone to attack each other when no one else is within reach. The parallels were so similar that it seemed impossible for them to be mere coincidence.

I had always believed that Tolkien was more interested in in the mythologies of Northern Europe. His drawing of influences from Beowulf, the Sigurd legend, the Norse Eddas, and the Finnish Kalevala have all been well documented. Dante seemed much too far removed from the kind of literature which I knew to be his passion.

Then, about a month ago, I noticed Dante’s name listed in the index of Humphrey Carpenter’s “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.”

Upon turning to the exact page, I found that Tolkien had written the following words as part of a 1967 letter. “I do not seriously dream of being measured against Dante, a supreme poet. At one time, Lewis and I used to read him to one another. I was for a while a member of the Oxford Dante Society.”

Tolkien did say that in recommending him, C.S. Lewis had “overestimated greatly” his knowledge of the Italian language or of its greatest poet. Tolkien also expressed regret that what he called Dante’s “pettiness” was “a sad blemish in places.”

As I mulled over what I had read, I realized that the possibility of Tolkien drawing inspiration from Dante’s Inferno was no longer as far fetched as I had formerly thought. Without further elaboration from Tolkien himself, I cannot be completely certain, but it does seem like a strong circumstantial case could be made.

Now that I think about it, Dante’s immortal line, “Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate,”  (“Abandon hope, all ye that enter here”), could be just as fittingly inscribed over the Black Gate of Mordor!

Chilling Thoughts for Tolkien Fans

On this site, I have often gone on record as both critic and a satirist of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien travesties. From letting the Catholic out of the Baggins to the dumbing down of the dialogue, Peter Jackson’s film treatments would not have received an enthusiastic reception had the creator of Middle Earth still been alive. They would have prompted, at the very least, an outraged letter from Tolkien, who would have demanded that Peter Jackson “show a little respect for the author.” (See “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien”, #210, Tolkien’s Comments on Morton Grady Zimmerman’s 1958 Film Treatment for “The Lord of the Rings”). 

Even so, the film industry has wreaked literary havoc well beyond Tolkien’s Middle Earth Legendarium. From the Demi Moore adaptation of “The Scarlet Letter” to the Emma Thompson assault on “Brideshead Revisited”, the hall of shame goes ever on and on. In fact, one shudders to think of how much greater damage an even less scrupulous director might have wreaked. For this reason, I have created the following examples as a reminder, both to myself and to my fellow Tolkien purists. It could have been worse. It could have been a lot worse…

“THE DARK KNIGHT OF THE RINGS.”
A Film by Christopher Nolan.

Based on a Screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan.

With his sword ablaze, the Lord of the Nazgul rides into the Gate of Gondor, a gate which no enemy has yet passed. All flee before his face. All but one. Gandalf rides Shadowfax toward the Dark Lord’s minion, Glamdring bared.

GANDALF: You cannot enter here! Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!

All the blood drains from Gandalf’s face as a eerie, high pitched cackle escapes from the Nazgul Lord. He throws back his hood to reveal… Heath Ledger in Clown Make-Up.

THE JOKER: You’ve got nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do with all your spells. That reminds me. Do you wanna know how I got these scars?


“THE GANDALF.”
A Film by Francis Ford Coppola.
Based on a Screenplay by Mario Puzo.

Exterior. Fortress of Rohan. Morning. “The Godfather” Theme plays in the background. 

Cut To. Interior; Grima Wormtongue’s bedroom. He awakens to find the sheets soaked with something red and sticky. Terrified, he frantically pulls the sheets up until he finds… A horse’s head. He tries to scream; but cannot. Then, at long last...

GRIMA: Ah! – Ah! – Ah! – Ah!

DISSOLVE TO: Gandalf’s face illuminated by the red light of his pipe. With dismay, he notices Aragorn and Legolas carrying a large and garish floral display with the words “Thank You” spelled out in flowers.

GANDALF: What is this nonsense?

ARAGORN: From Eomer son of Eomund. Grima Wormtongue just resigned his position and fled to Orthanc. What did you do, by the way?

GANDALF: I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.


“RING WARS EPISODE V: THE SHADOW STRIKES BACK.”
A Film by George Lucas.

Saruman: [Addressing Sauron’s image in the Palantir] What is thy bidding, my Master?

Sauron: There is a great disturbance in the North.

Saruman: I have felt it.

Sauron: We have a new enemy. The Ranger who dispersed the Nazgul. I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Arathorn Arador’s son.

Saruman: How is that possible?

Sauron: Search your feelings, Saruman of the Many Colors. You will know it to be true. He could destroy us.

Saruman: He’s just a boy. Gandalf can no longer help him.

Sauron: Iluvatar favors him. The son of Arathorn must not become the King.

Saruman: If he could be turned, he would become a powerful ally.

Sauron[intrigued] Yes… He would be a great asset. Can it be done?

Saruman[Kneeling Down] He will join us or die, Master.


“DA GOODFELLA-SHIP O’ DA RINGS.”

A Film by Martin Scorsese.

Based on a Screenplay by Nick Pileggi.

The Fellowship are sitting around a table in ‘The Prancing Pony’ laughing hysterically at a story told by Gimli.

        Aragorn: That’s funny! You’re really funny. You’re really funny!

        Gimli: What do you mean I’m funny?

        Aragorn: It’s funny, you know. It’s a good story. You’re a funny guy.

        Gimli(Bristling): What, do you mean the way I talk? What?

Everyone suddenly stops laughing.

        Aragorn: It’s just… You know, you’re funny. It’s funny. The way you tell the story and everything

        Gimli: Funny how? What’s funny about it?

        Gandalf: Gimli, no. You got it all wrong.

        Gimli: Yo, Gandalf. He’s a big boy, he knows what he said. (To Aragorn). Funny how?

        Aragorn: Just…

        Gimli: What?!

        Aragorn: Just… You know, you’re funny.

        Gimli: Let me understand this, cause maybe its me, I’m a little hopped up maybe. Funny how? You mean funny like a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I’m here to amuse you. What do you mean funny? Funny how? How am I funny?

        Aragorn: Just… You know, how you tell the story.

        Gimli: No, no! I don’t know! You said it! You said I’m funny! How the heck am I funny?! What the heck is funny about me?! Tell me, tell me, what’s funny?!

Long Pause.

        Aragorn: Get the heck outta here, Gimli.

Everyone laughs.

        Gimli: You stutterin’ wimp, you! I almost had him! I almost had him! Gandalf, wasn’t he shakin’? I wonder about you sometimes, Strider. You may fold under questioning!

Freeze-Frame on a very nervous looking Aragorn.

        Aragorn: (Voiceover): As far back as I can remember I’ve always dreamed of bein’ a Ranger.

Tony Bennet’s “Rags to Riches” plays over the opening credits.

 

“MONTY PYTHON AND THE RING OF POWER.”

A Film by Terry Gilliam.

Exterior. Fangorn Wood. Day. Foggy and Overcast. Spooky music plays. Merry and Pippin wander through heavy underbrush. Suddenly cut to EXTREME CLOSE-UP of Black-Brown Orc face.

MERRY: (Scared Stiff): Who are you?

ORC: We are the Orcs Who Say Ni!

PIPPIN: No! Not the Orcs Who Say Ni! 

ORC: The same!

PIPPIN: (To Merry): Those who hear them seldom live to tell the tale.

ORC: The Orcs Who Say Ni demand… a Sacrifice.

MERRY: Oh, Orcs of Ni, we are but simple travelers. We seek…

ORC: Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni!

Merry and Pippin scream and writhe in agony. 

ORC: We shall say Ni again to you if you do not appease us. 

PIPPIN: Alright. What do you want?

ORC: We want… A shrubbery! 

MERRY and PIPPIN: A what?!

ORC: (Pointing to a Nearby Shrubbery Plot): And when you have brought it back, place it right here next to this shrubbery, only a little higher so that we get this two-level effect with a little path in the middle. And then you must slay the mightiest Ent in the forest with.. A HERRING! 

MERRY: We shall do no such thing. Let us pass!

ORC: (Visibly Heartbroken): Oh please!

PIPPIN: We shall do no such thing. Kill an Ent with a herring? It can’t be done!

Orcs scream and writhe in agony.

ORC: Don’t say that word.

PIPPIN: What word?

ORC: The one word the Orcs of Ni cannot hear.

MERRY and PIPPIN: (Catching on): It!  It!  It!  It!

Orcs scream, writhe, and roll in the dust of the forest floor. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” plays as Merry and Pippin calmly walk away.

Chilling Thoughts for Tolkien Fans

On this site, I have often gone on record as both critic and a satirist of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien travesties. From letting the Catholic out of the Baggins to the dumbing down of the dialogue, Peter Jackson’s film treatments would not have received an enthusiastic reception had the creator of Middle Earth still been alive. They would have prompted, at the very least, an outraged letter from Tolkien, who would have demanded that Peter Jackson “show a little respect for the author.” (See “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien”, #210, Tolkien’s Comments on Morton Grady Zimmerman’s 1958 Film Treatment for “The Lord of the Rings”). 

Even so, the film industry has wreaked literary havoc well beyond Tolkien’s Middle Earth Legendarium. From the Demi Moore adaptation of “The Scarlet Letter” to the Emma Thompson assault on “Brideshead Revisited”, the hall of shame goes ever on and on. In fact, one shudders to think of how much greater damage an even less scrupulous director might have wreaked. For this reason, I have created the following examples as a reminder, both to myself and to my fellow Tolkien purists. It could have been worse. It could have been a lot worse…

“THE DARK KNIGHT OF THE RINGS.”
A Film by Christopher Nolan.

Based on a Screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan.

With his sword ablaze, the Lord of the Nazgul rides into the Gate of Gondor, a gate which no enemy has yet passed. All flee before his face. All but one. Gandalf rides Shadowfax toward the Dark Lord’s minion, Glamdring bared.

GANDALF: You cannot enter here! Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!

All the blood drains from Gandalf’s face as a eerie, high pitched cackle escapes from the Nazgul Lord. He throws back his hood to reveal… Heath Ledger in Clown Make-Up.

THE JOKER: You’ve got nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do with all your spells. That reminds me. Do you wanna know how I got these scars?

“THE GANDALF.”
A Film by Francis Ford Coppola.
Based on a Screenplay by Mario Puzo.
Exterior. Fortress of Rohan. Morning. “The Godfather” Theme plays in the background. 

Cut To. Interior; Grima Wormtongue’s bedroom. He awakens to find the sheets soaked with something red and sticky. Terrified, he frantically pulls the sheets up until he finds… A horse’s head. He tries to scream; but cannot. Then, at long last…
GRIMA: Ah! – Ah! – Ah! – Ah!
DISSOLVE TO: Gandalf’s face illuminated by the red light of his pipe. With dismay, he notices Aragorn and Legolas carrying a large and garish floral display with the words “Thank You” spelled out in flowers.
GANDALF: What is this nonsense?
ARAGORN: From Eomer son of Eomund. Grima Wormtongue just resigned his position and fled to Orthanc. What did you do, by the way?
GANDALF: I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“RING WARS EPISODE V: THE SHADOW STRIKES BACK.”
A Film by George Lucas.

Saruman: [Addressing Sauron’s image in the Palantir] What is thy bidding, my Master?

Sauron: There is a great disturbance in the North.

Saruman: I have felt it.

Sauron: We have a new enemy. The Ranger who dispersed the Nazgul. I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Arathorn Arador’s son.

Saruman: How is that possible?

Sauron: Search your feelings, Saruman of the Many Colors. You will know it to be true. He could destroy us.

Saruman: He’s just a boy. Gandalf can no longer help him.

Sauron: Iluvatar favors him. The son of Arathorn must not become the King.

Saruman: If he could be turned, he would become a powerful ally.

Sauron[intrigued] Yes… He would be a great asset. Can it be done?

Saruman[Kneeling Down] He will join us or die, Master.

 

“DA GOODFELLA-SHIP O’ DA RINGS.”

A Film by Martin Scorsese.

Based on a Screenplay by Nick Pileggi.

The Fellowship are sitting around a table in ‘The Prancing Pony’ laughing hysterically at a story told by Gimli.

        Aragorn: That’s funny! You’re really funny. You’re really funny!

        Gimli: What do you mean I’m funny?

        Aragorn: It’s funny, you know. It’s a good story. You’re a funny guy.

        Gimli(Bristling): What, do you mean the way I talk? What?

Everyone suddenly stops laughing.

        Aragorn: It’s just… You know, you’re funny. It’s funny. The way you tell the story and everything

        Gimli: Funny how? What’s funny about it?

        Gandalf: Gimli, no. You got it all wrong.

        Gimli: Yo, Gandalf. He’s a big boy, he knows what he said. (To Aragorn). Funny how?

        Aragorn: Just…

        Gimli: What?!

        Aragorn: Just… You know, you’re funny.

        Gimli: Let me understand this, cause maybe its me, I’m a little hopped up maybe. Funny how? You mean funny like a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I’m here to amuse you. What do you mean funny? Funny how? How am I funny?

        Aragorn: Just… You know, how you tell the story.

        Gimli: No, no! I don’t know! You said it! You said I’m funny! How the heck am I funny?! What the heck is funny about me?! Tell me, tell me, what’s funny?!

Long Pause.

        Aragorn: Get the heck outta here, Gimli.

Everyone laughs.

        Gimli: You stutterin’ wimp, you! I almost had him! I almost had him! Gandalf, wasn’t he shakin’? I wonder about you sometimes, Strider. You may fold under questioning!

Freeze-Frame on a very nervous looking Aragorn.

        Aragorn: (Voiceover): As far back as I can remember I’ve always dreamed of bein’ a Ranger.

Tony Bennet’s “Rags to Riches” plays over the opening credits.

 

“MONTY PYTHON AND THE RING OF POWER.”

A Film by Terry Gilliam.

Exterior. Fangorn Wood. Day. Foggy and Overcast. Spooky music plays. Merry and Pippin wander through heavy underbrush. Suddenly cut to EXTREME CLOSE-UP of Black-Brown Orc face.

MERRY: (Scared Stiff): Who are you?

ORC: We are the Orcs Who Say Ni!

PIPPIN: No! Not the Orcs Who Say Ni! 

ORC: The same!

PIPPIN: (To Merry): Those who hear them seldom live to tell the tale.

ORC: The Orcs Who Say Ni demand… a Sacrifice.

MERRY: Oh, Orcs of Ni, we are but simple travelers. We seek…

ORC: Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni!

Merry and Pippin scream and writhe in agony. 

ORC: We shall say Ni again to you if you do not appease us. 

PIPPIN: Alright. What do you want?

ORC: We want… A shrubbery! 

MERRY and PIPPIN: A what?!

ORC: (Pointing to a Nearby Shrubbery Plot): And when you have brought it back, place it right here next to this shrubbery, only a little higher so that we get this two-level effect with a little path in the middle. And then you must slay the mightiest Ent in the forest with.. A HERRING! 

MERRY: We shall do no such thing. Let us pass!

ORC: (Visibly Heartbroken): Oh please!

PIPPIN: We shall do no such thing. Kill an Ent with a herring? It can’t be done!

Orcs scream and writhe in agony.

ORC: Don’t say that word.

PIPPIN: What word?

ORC: The one word the Orcs of Ni cannot hear.

MERRY and PIPPIN: (Catching on): It!  It!  It!  It!

Orcs scream, writhe, and roll in the dust of the forest floor. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” plays as Merry and Pippin calmly walk away.

Pope Pius XII on Stalinism and Other Evils

Pope Pius XII to “an enormous crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square” to protest the show trial of Cardinal Mindszenty, February 20, 1949.

Excerpted from “His Humble Servant: Sister M. Pascalina Lehnert’s Memoirs of Her Years of Service to Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII”. Page 150.

“Do you want a Church that remains silent when She should speak; that diminishes the law of God where she is called to proclaim it loudly, wanting to accommodate it to the will of man? Do you want a Church that departs from the unshakable foundations upon which Christ founded Her, taking the easy way of adapting Herself to the opinion of the day; a Church that is a prey to current trends; a Church that does not condemn the suppression of conscience and does not stand up for the just liberty of the people; a Church that locks Herself up within the four walls of Her temple in unseemly sycophancy, forgetting the divine mission received from Christ: ‘Go out the crossroads and preach the people’? Beloved sons and daughters! Spiritual heirs of numberless confessors and martyrs! Is this the Church you venerate and love? Would you recognize in such a Church the features of your Mother? Would you be able to imagine a Successor of St. Peter submitting to such demands?”

In reply to the Holy Father came a single cry like thunder still ringing in our ears: “No!”

On the Duty of a Monarch

Many years ago, my father asked my grandfather, Scottish immigrant Laurence Joseph King, about the abdication of the Duke of Windsor. My dad was then a teenager with Marxist ideas and considered it ridiculous that an abdication was insisted upon by the British Government. To Dad’s shock, Grandpa Larry responded, “He could not be King because he would not do his duty.” It took many years for my Dad to realize the wisdom of his father’s words.

I must say that I agree with my grandfather. It is very dangerous when the Crown rests upon the wrong head and my grandfather’s words apply, not only to the Duke of Windsor, but to many other Royals from many nations and centuries. Queen Elizabeth I of England, Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria-Hungary, and the last Shah of Iran definitely bear this out.

Blessed Emperor Karl once said that, as Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, he certainly had rights, but that those rights were tempered by his duty. This duty is, in my opinion, best expressed in the words the current Queen of England spoke in her first address to the nation, “The whole of my life, whether it be long or short, shall be dedicated to your service.” The last word is best left to the Marquis de Custine.

During the 1830’s, the Marquis, a French Catholic Royalist, paid a visit to Tsarist Russia which he believed could save Europe from the lingering  ideas of the French Revolution. The Marquis left Russia deeply disillusioned by how the Tsar governed the State, the Orthodox Church, and the people by personal decree and backed up by police state tactics. 

The Marquis wrote that nations which prize “fidelity to insane masters” are neglecting their duty. Monarchy is only venerable, he says, when it governs justly. He concluded, “When Kings forget the conditions under which man is permitted to rule over his fellow men, the citizens have to look to God, their Eternal Governor, Who absolves them from their oath of fidelity to their temporal master.”

Sorcha Ni Ghuairim, A Voice from Across a Thousand Years

Sorcha Ni Ghuairim (1911-1976), a native of the Connemara Peninsula of Western Ireland, is probably one of the greatest Irish Gaelic vocalists ever recorded. Hers was a voice that seems to echo across a thousand years. After decades of fighting for the preservation of the Gaelic language and its musical tradition, Sorcha decided in the 1950s, that she had failed. She moved to London and remained a virtual recluse until her death in 1976.

But her belief as proved premature. Sorcha’s surviving recordings have played and continue to play a major role in Irish traditional music. Among the modern vocalists who have cited Sorcha Ni Ghuarim as a major influence is Roisin Elsafty, a fellow native of the Connemara.

This 1955 recording is of her singing “The Blackthorn Bush”, a Gaelic love song from Ireland. One of Sorcha’s last recordings before leaving for London, it never ceases to give me goosebumps.

Sorcha once summarized the song as follows, “A young man used to visit a fair in a certain place and he met a young girl there and they fell in love. Then, the fairs were discontinued and they did not see each other again until the night of his wedding feast. She came to the wedding feast dressed as a Traveller woman. She put the ring he had given her in the glass when he was giving her a drink. At this point he recognized her and they composed the song between them”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqGs_NkFcJQ

Flora MacNeil, the Voice of Gaelic Scotland

Flora MacNeil, OBE, (born 1928) is probably the greatest Scottish Gaelic vocalist ever recorded. A native of the Isle of Barra in the Hebrides, she was first discovered and recorded in 1951 by American musicologist Alan Lomax, who was then attempting to document the folk music tradition of Europe. She played an enormous role in the Scottish folk music revival of the 50’s and 60’s and continues to have an enormous influence upon more recent vocalists like her daughter Maggie MacInnes, Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson, and, most recently, Julie Fowlis. Despite being in her eighties, Flora continues to perform publicly and is regarded as a national treasure.

The recording below dates from Flora’s vocal prime in the 1950’s is one of “The Big Songs” as they are called in Gaelic. It is a lament composed by the wife of William Chisholm of Strathglass, who was killed in action while bearing the standard for the Chisholm Clan during the Jacobite Uprising of 1745.

In the lament, his wife rebukes Prince Charles Edward Stuart, saying that his cause has left her desolate. She then expresses her devastation at the loss of her beloved and names every quality which she loved about her husband.

To those who love Celtic music and who are curious how it sounds in its traditional form, I present the following:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DvFEkL78H8

Jorge Luis Borges on Verse Translation

During the late 1960s, Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges gave a series of Harvard Lectures about the subject of poetry.

Recordings of the lectures surfaced in the 1990s. They were then transcribed, annotated, and published in 2000 under the title “This Craft of Verse” by Harvard University Press.

In his lecture “Word Music and Translation”, Borges argued that the translation of verse should be seen as a collaboration between two poets. As such, a translator should seek to equal or, if possible, surpass the original. He then provides a list of examples which he analyzes in depth.

He cites Lord Tennyson’s versification of “The Ode of Brunanburh” from “The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle”. He describes Tennyson as the first poet to attempt to replicate the Anglo-Saxon strong stress meter in modern English. He also describes the result as a masterpiece and as having passages that are better poetry than the original.

Then, Borges cites the English translations of Saint John of the Cross by Catholic poet Roy Campbell. Borges calls Campbell “a great Scottish poet who is also a South African.” He called Campbell’s effort “not only a blameless but also a fine translation.” He then analyzes Cambpell’s translation of “Noche Oscura de Alma”. 

In concluding his analysis of Campbell, Borges laments that verse translations are always “felt to be inferior –even though, verbally, the rendering may be as good as the text.” Coming from a man who could fluently read, write, and converse in both English and Spanish, this is very high praise  indeed.

Borges then praises many other examples, including Stefan George’s German translation of Baudelaire, Mathew Arnold’s essay on translating Homer, and Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”.

At the end of the lecture, Borges expresses a hope that in the future “men will care for beauty, not for the circumstances of beauty. Then we will have translations not only as good (we have them already) but as famous as Chapman’s Homer, as Urquhart’s Rabelais, as Pope’s Odyssey. I think this is a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

“The Internationale”, the Anthem of Marxist Revolution

“The Internationale,” which may be seen and heard in the footage below, dates from the brief seizure of power by the Paris Commune during the Franco-Prussian War. It has since been translated into scores of languages and adopted as the anthem of militant Marxism, particularly as interpreted by Vladimir Lenin.

 

Nazism teaches that anyone born into the “wrong” race is unworthy of life. To Marxist-Leninists. those born into the “wrong” class, or who disagree with the Party’s platform, ideology, or leadership, are viewed in the same way that the Nazis viewed the Jews — as “Untermenschen”. Such “enemies of the people”, according to the memoirs of Great Purge perpetrator General Pavel Sudoplatov, are considered to be deserving of nothing but frivolous prosecution on any charge, however outrageous, that can be concocted by the secret police and the prosecutors. As Stalin once said to Milovan Djilas, the methods used are not important but what is gained.

 

Therefore, I find listening to “The Internationale” to be every bit as disturbing an experience as hearing the “Horst-Wessel-Lied” or certain other Nazi songs. Both were used to cover equally atrocious realities  and thus have the ability to make my blood run cold.

 

Furthermore, the large number of people of all ages, races, and walks of life who are enthusiastically singing this horrific song proves the truth of G.K. Chesterton’s statement that, when people cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing, they believe in anything.

 

May God bless the the countless millions victimized in the name of the Red Banner and may their Memory be Eternal!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEI_Cd8azBY

Mgr. Benson’s “Lord of the World”

I do enjoy Monsignor Benson’s “Lord of the World”, but there is one matter in it which deeply troubles me. It involves Fr. Percy Franklin successfully urging the Pope to ban all other Liturgies except the Latin Rite. 

At the time Lord of the World was written, the Eastern Catholic martyrs of the Red Terror and the Armenian Genocide were still in the future. Saint Josaphat of Polotsk and the 13 Martyrs of Pratulin were not, however. 

Despite their martyrdom, there was a viewpoint  held by many Latin Rite Catholics in Mgr. Benson’s time that Eastern Rite Catholicism was “half-schismatic” and a “spiritual dead end.” As a solution, they recommended, like Father Franklin, that all Eastern Catholics be forcibly transferred to the Latin Rite. Some, like Cardinal Walter Kasper, still hold this view.

Although this statement angers me, I cannot blame Mgr. Benson. His brother has written that his novels were always written very soon after Mgr. Benson first conceived of them. When one also considers the one year of seminary studies between Mgr. Benson’s conversion and his ordination yo the Catholic priesthood, it is likely that he was never taught about certain matters.

What I still cannot understand, however, is how Mgr. Benson got away with such a statement at the time he wrote it. Pope St. Pius X most definitely did not agree with those who denigrated Eastern Catholicism.

In 1907, the year that LOTW was published, Pope Pius met with the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan of Lvov and Halych and laid plans with him to erect an Eastern Catholic Underground Church in Tsarist Russia. 

The following year, in 1908, Pope Pius presided over the ceremonies to mark the  1,500th Feast Day of St. John Chrysostom. On this occasion, His Holiness personally addressed the assembled Eastern Catholic Hierarchs and called them the glory and the crown of the Universal Church.

Although I otherwise consider LOTW to be a literary masterpiece, I am rather curious as to how Mgr. Benson avoided a Vatican order to remove that passage. Had he received such an order and ignored it, LOTW would have landed swiftly on the Index of Forbidden Books.