Friday, November 5, 2010

Thumbing My Nose at England

Guy Fawkes

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!
A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o’ cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah hoorah!

- Traditional Guy Fawkes Day Rhyme 

"V for Vendetta" aside, Jolly ol' England can bugger off as far as I'm concerned.

It is, to my mind, impossible to have a good grasp of history and remain a Protestant.  This thought has been on my mind today as England celebrates the notorious foiling of the "Gunpower Plot" of 1605 when authorities, after being tipped off by a letter, discovered Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators in the act of setting explosives to blow up Parliament.  What is left unsaid is the evil perpetrated against Catholics by Queen Elizabeth and her successors.  Likewise, few care to recall that even the apostate Henry VIII (he has previously received the prestigious title of "defender of the Faith" from the Pope) maintained a certain Catholic Orthodoxy in the midst of his heresy.  It would be his successors who would wholly eviscerate what vestiges of Catholicism remained in England.  The Gunpowder Plot was the attempt of desperate men to be allowed the freedom to practice the faith demanded of them by their conscience.  

I do not condone terrorism.  I do not think blowing up the British Parliament was a good idea.  It is helpful, however, to consider what drives a man to consider such extreme action.  England claimed to permit a great deal of "tolerance" towards Catholics in those days.  It is a mantra almost identical to the message of tolerance we hear today.  By my estimation, this country tolerates faithful Catholics about the same way that England did in 1605.


  1. I'm not sure about the opening line. A good look at history might deter folks from adopting any flavor of Christianity. Guy Fawkes rebelled against powerful Protestants getting Christianity wrong. Martin Luther rebelled against powerful Catholics getting Christianity wrong. Is there a different historical lesson to be drawn from each of those instances of rebellion against bad faith?

  2. Guy Fawkes rebelled against powerful protestants who were, as a matter of law, oppressing him and other Catholics. That they were also heretics was only a secondary matter.


I appreciate your comments and thoughts. I do not appreciate vulgarity, attacks on me, the Church, or other people who comment. Comments of this variety will not be published.