Secular Right | Reality & Reason

TAG | Church-state

Jun/13

23

Of Monks and Monetary Union

Haloes includedCross-posted on the Corner:

The New York Times ran this oddly revealing story a day or so back:

[L]ate last year, the National Bank of Slovakia announced that the European Commission, the union’s executive arm, had ordered it to remove halos and crosses from special commemorative euro coins due to be minted this summer. The coins, designed by a local artist, were intended to celebrate the 1,150th anniversary of Christianity’s arrival in Slovak lands but have instead become tokens of the faith’s retreat from contemporary Europe. They featured two evangelizing Byzantine monks, Cyril and Methodius, their heads crowned by halos and one’s robe decorated with crosses, which fell foul of European diversity rules that ban any tilt toward a single faith….

The commission’s monetary and economic affairs department that ordered Slovakia to redesign its commemorative euro coins says it had no real problem itself with halos and crosses and demanded that they be deleted in the interest of “religious diversity” because of complaints from countries that also use the euro. Leading the charge was France, which enforces a rigid division of church and state at home, and objected to Christian symbols appearing on Slovak money that would also be legal tender in France. Greece, where church and state are closely intertwined, also protested, apparently because it considers the Greek-born monks Cyril and Methodius as part of its own heritage.

One size fits all, working well as usual, I see.

The fact that the arrival of these two monks (if not, I suspect, their halos) in Greater Moravia undoubtedly made them a part of Slovak history didn’t seem to count for too much. George Orwell might have had something to say about this. In fact he did:

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

The EU knows a thing or two about that. Happily, the Slovaks are sticking with the original designs—good for them. If the Greeks and the French don’t like it , they can always withdraw from the currency union. In fact….

Meanwhile Europhiles will also have to contend with this admission of failure (read the whole piece for the context):

Katharina von Schnurbein, the commission official responsible for outreach to both religious and secular groups, smiled and said, “I can assure you that the European Commission is not the Antichrist.”

How disappointing.

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Jun/12

23

“A European Church”

Iain Martin, writing in the Daily Telegraph:

The Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council, headed by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has made a submission on Europe to the Foreign Affairs select committee.

It urges the Government to be more constructive and positive in its attitude to the EU, and warns that David Cameron’s “veto” last December cost the UK credibility. Leaving the EU would be a “travesty”, they claim. Quite a lot of Britons now disagree and think that leaving would be rather a good idea. But the Archbishops explain that they are speaking out because the C of E is “by virtue of its history a European Church”.

Good grief. If the Church of England doesn’t even understand the circumstances of its birth, then how can it expect anyone else to care about what it says?

Quite.

The British politician, Enoch Powell, a British politician who took the role of the Church of England (if not necessarily either its beliefs or its clergy) very seriously, would have been unsurprised by the invincible ignorance of these archbishops.

Here’s what he had to say back in 1972:

The relevant fact about the history of the British Isles and above all of England is its separateness in a political sense from the history of continental Europe…When Henry VIII declared that ‘this realm of England is an empire (imperium) of itself’, he was making not a new claim but a very old one; but he was making it at a very significant point of time. He meant—as Edward I had meant, when he said the same over two hundred years before—that there is an imperium on the continent, but that England is another imperium outside its orbit and is endowed with the plenitude of its own sovereignty. The moment at which Henry VIII repeated this assertion was that of what is misleadingly called ‘the reformation’—misleadingly, because it was, and is, essentially a political and not a religious event.

That’s true, if one considers that Powell was writing in an English context: Henry went to his deathbed considering himself a good Catholic. His dispute with Rome was not over theology, but power. Henry wanted more of the latter (and Anne Boleyn too) but the underlying (and ultimately more important) question was whether England should be governed by English laws or those of some alien authority. Henry VIII, quite correctly, if for self-interested reasons, said that the law begins at home.

Back to Powell…

The whole subsequent history of Britain and the political character of the British people have taken their colour and trace their unique quality from that moment and that assertion. It was the final decision that no authority, no law, no court outside the realm would be recognized within the realm. When Cardinal Wolsey fell, the last attempt had failed to bring or keep the English nation within the ambit of any external jurisdiction or political power: since then no law has been for England outside England, and no taxation has been levied in England by or for an authority outside England—or not at least until the proposition that Britain should accede to the Common Market [the future EU].

That was not something that Thomas Becket (not so surprisingly a traitor in the view of both Henry VIII and Charles I—the last Anglican saint) would have understood or appreciated, so good riddance to him. But Becket was at least Archbishop of Canterbury nearly four centuries before Henry VIII declared England’s independence.He has an excuse, of sorts. The current Archbishop, Rowan Williams, does not. The explanation for what he has said about Europe rests, as it has done so often throughout his disreputable and unpleasant career, in his willingness to put ill-thought, but fiercely-believed, dogma (usually of a leftish variety) before honesty. His upcoming resignation cannot come soon enough.

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