cranmer’s dream and things that move


A few days before he was burned to death, Thomas Cranmer had a particularly sad dream. He dreamed that both Henry the VIII (long dead at this point) and Christ rejected him.

Thus the rulers of the two realms whose clash had dominated his life both turned their back on him. At this point in his life, he was a broken man, alone. His friends and colleagues had already preceded him at the stake. He had been worn down by constant haranguing of scholars and church officials to recant his life of reforming the church and the state. This he did.

The night before his execution he gave a servant a coin and asked for her prayers saying that the prayers of a good person were worth more than that of a bad priest.

MacCulloch tells these stories clearly and with sympathy. He brings in the idea that our contemporary understandings of brainwashing and torture give light to Cranmer’s deathbed conversion back to the papal Antichrist and his church that Cranmer had battled all his life.

Some days before this, Cranmer had climbed to the roof of the gatehouse prison where he was housed in Oxford and watched a comet.

This comet was causing a stir. People saw this kind of thing as a sign. England was in turmoil and her new rulers, Mary and Phillip, were concerned. Meanwhile Cranmer watched the comet. Who knows what this great scholar and fascinating man thought as he watched it.

In her book Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-sour Memoir of Eating in China, Fuchsia Dunlop enlightens the reader about the cavalier approach of cooks to the lives of the animals they brutally skin alive or prepare for cooking.

In English, as in most European languages, the words for the living things we eat are mostly derived from the Latin <anima>, which means air, breath, life. “Creature”, from the Latin word for “created”, seems to connect animals with us as human beings in some divinely fashioned universe. We too are creatures, animated. In Chinese, the word for animal is <dong wu>, meaning “moving thing”. Is it cruel to hurt something that (unless you are a fervent Buddhist) you simply see as a “moving thing”, scarcely even alive?

Dunlop goes on to make the telling critique of Western consumers who are disconnected from the death of the animals they love to eat.  Even though I am a vegetarian I have not shirked the experience of preparing dead animals, cleaning fish and carving up the raw flesh of beef and poultry for others to eat. It only seems honest.

1. House Votes to Sue Obama for Overstepping Powers – NYTimes.comHouse Votes to Sue Obama for Overstepping Powers –

Statistics show that as of last week, the Obama White House had issued a total of 183 executive orders, the vast majority in his first term. George W. Bush, by comparison, issued 291 in his eight years in office. Bill Clinton issued 364; Ronald Reagan 381. Executive orders do, however, vary in scope and significance.

In my Greek study text, at one point Greek sailors bemoan the change in their country. At one time Greeks were of one mind and now they hate each other. It made me think of the USA.

Having said that, I am concerned about the growing power of the executive. It’s probably inevitable that it grow somewhat when the legislative branch is so frozen as to practically be nonfunctional. My concerns are about the use of drones and ordering of covert (or even overt) military actions that result in deaths.

2. Tears, and Anger, as Militants Destroy Iraq City’s Relics –

The scope of this loss of history continues to stun me.


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