Giant Role Model

Ever-perceptive, the Grit explains why Homer Simpson is a better fertility symbol than the Cerne Abbas Giant, despite the fact that Pagans are upset Homer has moved in next door.

Historical History

As we left the local library and museum today, we stopped at the new Oxfam bookshop. Until recently, Oxfam had a few used books for sale in their main shop. The selected is now expanded, but still quite limited.

Nonetheless, I have a hard time passing up a used bookstore, especially if I haven’t visited it before. I saw several things that interested me. One I couldn’t pass up. For £3.99 I picked up a copy of The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. It is 632 pages, in almost perfect condition and was published in 1885. It’s not a reprint. It came off the press when William Gladstone was Prime Minister and Queen Victoria still had 16 years left on the throne.

I don’t know when I shall read it cover-to-cover, but it is nonetheless a jewel on the bookshelf and no doubt a useful Church history resource.

Family History

It’s not the summer holidays yet, but Mrs H got a hold of information about all the things in the local area to do with kids for free. Today is archaeology day at the museum.

The kids got to dig through a sandbox looking for artefacts. They found bones and pottery shards and even a Roman coin. Abby then smoothed all the sand level and even, which had less to do with archaeology and more with the tidying up gene she didn’t inherent from me.

After the dig, we all made Roman wax tablets using Roman handwriting. They didn’t have wax, so we used plasticine instead.

Aidan wrote his name:

roman-tablets-003.jpg

I wrote in Latin. Can you read it?

roman-tablets-002.jpg

There were displays there about archaeological sites around the Shire. I noticed that they didn’t have anything up about the Rotherwas Ribbon. I suppose it’s best not to let the kids know about that. Don’t want to get their hopes up that they will ever see it, of course.

Likewise, I suppose they wouldn’t understand a display that said, “Here’s the dig at a site that was around 2,000 years before the Romans. Now, here’s what it will look like when it is covered over by a road.”

Rotherwas Ribbon E-Petition

If you are a UK citizen or resident, you can sign the 10 Downing Street E-Petition to save the Rotherwas Ribbon.

Go on then!

Uncomfortable Home Truths

I know I made some members of my extended family unhappy when I unearthed the truth that my great-great-grandfather had not been shot off his horse while fording the Caney Fork River carrying a bag of gold. In fact, despite the fact that this family legend is completely preposterous, some still cling to it and don’t want to here anything I have to say on the matter.

How much worse it must be for Katrin Himmler, whose great-uncle Heinrich was the head of the Nazi SS and engineered the Holocaust, but whose grandfather and other great-uncle had always disclaimed any allegiance to the Reich or participation in its evil. When she did a little family research she found out the truth. The Sunday Times has a piece on her today, in preparation for her book being available in the UK next week.

More on Rotherwas

Apologies to anyone who commented on or linked to yesterday’s post about the Rotherwas Ribbon. It was rather hastily deleted rather than edited, as my tagline says, I don’t change things nisi sponsa dissentit.

I can still update things and whilst not mentioning some sensitive things, there is more information in the public domain. As usual we find the local council talking out of both sides of their mouth.

They had announced that there would be special viewing today of the heretofore secret location, but it would limited to 200 people. This was in the local paper which comes out on the Thursday, but which we didn’t get until Friday. By then all the tickets were gone.

Despite news of the Rotherwas Ribbon even reaching my parents’ local newspaper, they have tried to keep this extraordinary discovery very low key. They have been determined not to let this stand in the way of the Rotherwas relief road, a £12 million spur to the local industrial estate that has been built against the wishes of, and without any funding from, central government. The council are already being sued in the High Court because they are building through one of the villages.

Our local paper carried the full front page headline “Rotherwas find as old as Stonehenge – but . . . The road will go on”. The county archaeologist, who clearly knows who writes his cheque supported the covering it over with sand and a membrane before the tarmac is poured and hundreds of heavy goods vehicles drive over it daily for the foreseeable future. The person who just days ago said this was an extraordinary find unique in all of Europe modified his views saying, “We live on a crowded island, with and extraordinarily rich and lengthy history and the landscape is littered with these remains, but we cannot move everything around to avoid them.”

English Heritage, who advise the Government on scheduling monuments, are to view the site Monday. I have no doubt the local council will be with them every step of the way, lobbying against it.

Last night, the Council issued a press release indicating that due to public pressure they will be allowing for more viewings, to be booked through a special hotline number that will be announced next week. They are still determined, however, to “preserve” it in such a way that nobody alive today will be able to see it again.

It is true that the Rotherwas Ribbon might not have been discovered but for the relief road construction. However, the Council have have been just a little disingenuous about the value of their “preservation” plan: “In many ways we’re lucky to discover this before the bulldozers moved in – it was not far below the surface and had we not uncovered it as part of the archaeological work associated with the new access road, the strong possibility is that at least part of it might have been destroyed through ongoing farming practices.” The farming practices have been ongoing for just about all of the several thousand years this thing has previously been covered.

What is also clear now is that the original 60 metres uncovered is only an indeterminate portion of the overall serpent. At least 75 metres has been uncovered extending beyond the original roadway area and there is no indication of where it might end on either side.

There is now a website for the local campaign to properly save the this ancient landmark.

Destroying the Past

When I saw it on the news tonight I couldn’t believe it.

Excavation in the Shire have revealed an archaeological find of significance that can only be compared with Stonehenge, similarly dating from the early Bronze Age. It is unique in Europe. According to the county archaeologist, “It is of international significance.”

You would think it is the next great tourist attraction. Surely it is the stuff of brown road signs and interpretive centres. If all the pseudo-druids go to the Henge for the solstice, surely they would visit the Rotherwas Ribbon at the equinox. Ching ching chingaling go the tills with tourist pounds.

Well, no. It’s being covered over. With a road. Yes, that’s right. An archaeological find of international significance is being tarmacked. They’ll take a few pictures first, but history cannot be allowed to stand in the way of progress.

St Mewan

Today is the commemoration of St Mewan. Never heard of him? Not surprising. I hadn’t either until I checked the Menologion.

He appears to have been born in South Wales, worked in the vineyards of the Lord in Cornwall, and moved on to Brittany. This is not an uncommon route of ministry, as all three regions shared a nearly common language.

I feel a bit of a link with St Mewan because he was ordained by St Samson of Dol, who was elevated to the episcopate by one of my own patrons, St Dyfrig. Mewan and his godson Austol (namesake of the town of St Austell in Cornwall) both followed Samson to his monastery in Brittany. Thus when I think of my visit to the cathedral in Dol during half-term break, I also made a pilgrimage to the memory of Mewan.

Holy Mewan, pray to God for us who also try to shine the light of the Gospel in a heathen Britain.

The Living and the Dead

While researching my book last night, I was going through biographical information on soldiers who served with Terry’s Texas Rangers (the 8th Texas Cavalry) during the Recent Unpleasantness. I was looking at information about some of my relatives who served in the same Company E as some of the men (including the Lieutenant) killed at Sinking Cane.

I didn’t find anything new until I switched over to a rather famous uncle who served in another company rising from 2nd Sergeant to Captain in less than a year (he later given a battlefield promotion to Major for gallantry after being severely wounded). There was a link noting that he was the first cousin of some soldiers I’d never heard of. This meant there was a pretty good chance they were related to me as well. They served in Company E. Thus I found more family members to integrate into my story.

With their entries in the website was a link to a family researcher. It was someone with whom I was already acquainted because they go to a church where I used to be the worship leader. Turns out, entirely unbeknowst to either of us, this acquaintance is also a cousin.

That’s one of the things I love about this research – you just never know what you are going to discover. Everywhere I look I seem to turn up relatives, living or dead.

Sinking Cane

Last Sunday a contingent from the Sons of Confederate Veterans were at the Conley Cemetery in an area once known as Sinking Cane in Overton County, Tennessee. They conducted a memorial service for the six Southern soldiers who were massacre at the nearby farmhouse on 12 March 1864. It’s not the first time they’ve done this and hopefully won’t be the last.

Checking through my archives, it appears that in my changes of hosting location I don’t have the story of the massacre on this blog anywhere. Many readers may recall it. The farmhouse was owned by my great-great-great-great-aunt. She was also wounded in the shoulder when the Yankees killed the soldiers in cold blood.

A seventh young soldier was in the farmhouse – my first cousin four times removed. As the 200 troopers of the 5th Tennessee Cavalry (USA) surrounded the house, John Holford Officer was hidden in the loft upstairs by Uncle Abe, one of the family’s slaves. John and Abe were friends to the end of their days – well, to end of John’s days, as Abe outlived him by ten years. Abe gave an account of the events to the Tennessee Historical Commission in 1922.

Five of the six slain men were a part of the 8th Texas Cavalry, popularly known as Terry’s Texas Rangers. (They were not in any way related to the famous law enforcement body, but when there was confusion about this once they’d travelled outside the Lone Star State, they didn’t do anything to disabuse it.)

Of those five, two were in Company C, one from Company D, and two from Company E. The two from Company E served with cousins on my mother’s side from Gonzales County.

I spend a lot of time researching this, because I am eventually going to tell the story of all of this in historical fiction.

Can’t Apologise for the Truth

The Venezuelan dictator Huge Chavez has demanded that the Pope apologise for comments he made in Brazil.

I haven’t seen the exact words the Pope said, but news reports indicate that he opined that the Roman Catholic Church had purified the South American Indians and that a revival of their pre-Christian religions would be a backward step. Whether Chavez likes it or not, the Pope can’t take back his words. He simply spoke the truth.

The Catholic Church brought the Gospel to the Indians. Without Christ they were in sin. Reverting to non-Christian religion is to reject the Gospel of Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, chief coordinator of the Amazon Indian group Coiab, said, “It’s arrogant and disrespectful to consider our cultural heritage secondary to theirs.” It’s nothing about cultural heritage. The Gospel cuts across cultures. It’s about salvation.

Indian leaders rely on the revisionism of leftist historians who have tried to portray the conquistadors as evil, genocidal maniacs. There certainly were many deaths – more from disease because of the lack of understanding about this in the 16th century – but the priests who accompanied the expeditions did not do this just to pronounce blessings upon the European soldiers. They were in the business of saving souls.

There were mistakes made and the previous pope apologised for those in 1992. But this doesn’t change the spiritual reality of evangelisation. Nor does it mean that Indians should reject Christianity for demon-inspired pantheistic or polytheistic religions.

All About Sex

I hadn’t tag surfed in a while, so I was skimming through and came across some anti-Christian Right stuff.  I’m not really affiliated with the Christian Right anymore, but given my background and the fact that most anti-Christian Right stuff is heavy on the anti-Christian bit, I thought I’d go in a have a poke around.

In the past I have been a critic of some of the Christian history of America material. I think some of it has been poorly research and most of it has been written to an agenda, neither quality I find particularly endearing.  Now I come across the anti-Christian history agenda and it seems to suffer from the same problem.

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Over the Sea to Where?

I’m glad I visited the Isle of Skye when I had the chance. Thursday it will be no more.

The jewel of the Hebrides will not sink beneath the waves, but rather under the weight of political correctness. The Highland Council has decreed that the island should shed it’s “Anglicised slave name” and now only be known as Eilean a’ Cheo.

This follows the Western Isles changing its name to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. I didn’t even know about this until I read about Skye. But then I’ve never been known to be one for political correctness.

If you think Eilean a’ Cheo is the ancient name for the island, you’d be wrong. Most Gaelic speakers call it An t-Eilean Sgitheanach. The latter means “Winged Isle” while the new adopted name means “Isle of Mists”, previously used as a poetic nickname for Skye.

Not everyone on Skye is happy about this. Less than half the island speaks Gaelic. It would be like everyone in Welsh-speaking West Wales telling the majority English speakers of Pembrokeshire they would no longer being able to refer to Pembroke or Milford Haven or Haverfordwest. It would even be like not calling them Penfro or Aberdaugleddau or Hwlffordd but rather giving them new names out of the Mabinogion or The Book of Taliesin.

The unhappiness is more practical as well. Each year 250,000 tourists bring in £90 million to Skye. This is what keeps Skye alive. Go changing the name and people may have just a little trouble finding their destination or even booking their holidays, especially since the council is changing the name on all of their documents and tourists inquiring about travelling to Skye will be encouraged to use the new name. Political correctness may come at a high price.

Yet Another Scandal

Labour is expected to lose and lose big in the local elections this week. There has been much speculation about whether the Prime Minister would plan his depature from office for just before or after the elections to absorb some of the media attention away from the results.

And with Labour in bad shape, now is not the time to find out that The Sunday Times planted an undercover reporter amongst Labour campaigners in Leeds.

Keith Wakefield, the leader of the Labour group on Leeds city council, told party canvassers to help voters, many of whom were elderly, to complete their postal ballots. Student activists, including an undercover reporter, were then told by another councillor to take away the postal voting forms, hide them as they left people’s homes and only post them later if they were for Labour.

The councillor, Graham Hyde, admitted, in a secretly tape-recorded meeting, that he thought the instructions to collect the postal votes were “illegal”. Hyde, a parliamentary aide to a former Labour whip, warned the student activists that after collecting votes: “Don’t get caught with any on you. We are not supposed to collect them.” He even joked about flushing postal ballots down the lavatory if they were for the Liberal Democrats.

Scandals are not uncommon in any political party or political system. Why is it, however, that, Watergate – the notable exception – aside, electoral scandals seem to always involve the liberal end of the spectrum, whether Democrats in the US or Labour in the UK? This is even true historically. In 1888, when the Republicans were the liberals, they brought in voters to Indiana and paid them to vote Republican.

Why is it that parties that claim to be parties of the people never trust the people to do their job?

1.5 Million Memories Eternal

Thanks to the young fogey for reminding me that yesterday marked the 92nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

I have written a number of times about this, including one of my Meanderings.

In an era when it had become a crime in some places to deny the historicity of certain genocides (a policy with which I disagree), in Turkey is it a crime to acknowledge this one.

Even though I’m a day late, may the memory be eternal of those who died by the hands of the Turks.

For England, Palestine, and St George

Today is the Feast of St George, patron of England and pictured at the top of the right column on this blog.

It is very true that St George fought against a Dragon. St John calls him “the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan”. He received the martyr’s crown on this date in 303, having suffered various tortures before being decapitated.

St George is also the patron of Palestinian Christians, who must stuggle every day, pressed upon all sides – hated by the Jews for being Palestinian and hated by most Palestinians for not being Muslim.

May his example encourage us to fight the good fight.

St George, pray to God for us and for all who seek your intercession!

Afraid of History

The Department of Education has funded a report that shows history teachers are dropping topics such as the Crusades and the Holocaust because they are afraid of causing offence to children from certain races or religions.

In the case of the former, I assume this means Christians, since they might be very offended to know what happened to the Christian Holy Lands in the 7th century that required a pan-Christian army to go attempt to re-take them. They might be particularly offended that the sixth Fatimid Caliph, Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, completely destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepluchre in 1009.

I’m not sure who they are going to offend by teaching about the Holocaust. Children of the Aryan race? The children of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Those who seek the annihilation of the Jews while at the same time calling them “people of the Book”?

History is full of conflict. Much of the story of civilisation is driven by conflict. If students are offended because someone mentions that an unpleasant historical situation involved people sharing something in common with them, even if it paints those people in a bad light, they need to grow up. What needs to be addressed are those who are otherwise indoctrinating these children that to tell the truth about history is somehow an insult to them.

History will not erase 9/11, 7/7, Lockerbie, the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the embassy hostage crisis, the massacres in East Timor, the Sudanese civil wars, Nigeria,  or even the Siege of Vienna, the Reconquista, or the battle of Tours. This is true even if they are not taught in school in the name of political correctness.

Restoring Ancient Rights

When Americans know about my background as a lawyer and my domicile in the UK, they frequently tell me how important Magna Carta is and operate under the impression that it is still valid law. They have no idea that virtually the entire charter has been repealed.

Michael O’Shea also believes that more than just clauses 1, 13, 39, and 40 are valid. He is challenging a poaching conviction and a £35 fine over fishing rights in the River Blackwater that forms the border between County Cork and County Waterford in the Republic of Ireland. The fishing rights to this stretch are claimed by the Duke of Devonshire, whose family have owned the adjacent Lismore Castle as a holiday home since 1753.

He may have a argument that more of Magna Carta is valid in Ireland than in England. Though bits were specifically repealed beginning in 1828, the biggest chunk was done away with in the UK in 1969 – 20 years after the founding of the Republic. It could be that Mr O’Shea is using one of the clauses never specifically repealed by the Oireachtas.

I’m having trouble figuring out which clause he is using and none of the news reports refer to it specifically. I’ve read through the Charter several times this evening and the only thing I can find remotely related is “All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast.” I suppose that since the Charter applied to Ireland, this could be broadly interpreted.

Hopefully the result of the O’Shea case will be reported in the news.

Just Born That Way

The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys is one of the most famous in American history. Many legends surround it. You can’t really call them urban legends, as they emanate from one of the most rural parts of the country.

The feud resulted in at least a dozen deaths. Most people are responsible for their actions. The McCoys, however, may be a exception. It appears now that they couldn’t help their hair-trigger rage and violent outbursts. Many McCoy descendants suffer from Von Hippel-Lindau disease.

The Associated Press has the full story.

Another Crazy Dictator

What is it about Central Asia that makes the dictators completely goofy? There was the late Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan who banned ballet, opera, beards, and video games. Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan transfers the country’s oil revenues into his own accounts. Islom Karimov of Uzbekistan boils people to death. Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan was the only one to fall victim to a revolution. He’s now a maths professor at Moscow State University.

That just leaves Emomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan. Last month he changed his surname of Rahmon to drop the Russian -ov bit at the end. He has banned Slavic names. He wants all Tajiks to read his six-volume biography.

Rohmon now wants the British Museum to return the Oxus treasure, 170 pieces of gold craftsmanship from the Achaemenid era. The only problem is that they never came from Tajikistan. They were bought in markets in what is now Pakistan and they are Persian in origin, thus being something British to which the Iranians might actually have a tenuous claim. Even then, you’d have to say that after well over a hundred years, it’s finders keepers. The purchases were perfectly legal at the time.

I don’t think Rahmon can expect much of a response from the British Museum. He’ll have to go do crazy somewhere else.

ad hoc Discovery

I’ve just come across an old cassette of a recording of my old band from Saturday, February 19, 1994. It was “unplugged” set because our drummer had another commitment that night.

Some of it is shockingly bad. On the other hand, some of it is quite good, especially for a band that had to struggle with the limits of my musicianship.

I heard songs I’d even forgotten that I had written. I have no idea how to even play them anymore. I was trying to imagine the chords in my head and some of them were there. I don’t know whether labouring over them for an extended time would re-establish pathways in my brain. I hate to lose them forever, even if I haven’t play some of them for nearly 13 years. The ad hoc Band dissolved in August 1994.

While digging in the same box, I also found a tape of the group in which our favourite areopagite served as drummer when I first met him 17 years ago. Their musicianship was better than the ad hoc Band, but then they weren’t burdened with a certain rhythm guitarist.

Positive Aspects of Britain’s Role in the Slave Trade

Today is the 200th anniversary of the passage of the Slave Trade Act (47 Geo III Sess. 1 c. 36) and there still seems to be controversy over Tony Blair’s refusal to apologise for the slave trade on behalf of the British Government. I was going to comment on one of my blogrolled blogs, but I decided I had enough to say that I should post it here.

It should be noted that the slave trade was never specifically legalised by the Crown in, or out of, Parliament. It’s not like one Government brought it in and another did away with it, but failed to apologise for what the previous Government did. I suppose the only thing for which the Government could apologise is not acting sooner. But has anyone considered that Britain was the second European country to ban the slave trade, after Denmark, which passed legislation that only took effect four years before? The only country to act earlier was the United States, which made provision for legislation in the Constitution, though that legislation actually came into effect eight months after the British act.

And what’s the big deal about this anyway? Slavery itself wasn’t abolished in the British Empire until the appropriately named Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. So will there be another round of apologies (or demands for them) in 2033? Almost certainly.

Britain has nothing for which to apologise. If anything, exactly the opposite. Read more of this post

Lunar Atheism

Though she has been the subject or object of various urban legends, the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair did manage to influence affairs beyond the confines of this blue planet. I learned tonight that her litigious nature even reached at far as the Moon.

When Apollo 15 astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin were landing the Falcon on the lunar surface they followed a series of craters that marked the way to the landing site. They had been named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Index. They couldn’t call the last one John because they were afraid of O’Hair.

After the crew of Apollo 8 had read from Genesis during their Christmas Eve 1968 broadcast in lunar orbit, O’Hair sued NASA. She lost the suit, but she won the day because NASA chiefs were thereafter put off religious names for fear of repeated litigation. I suppose they figured if they only included the Synoptic Gospels, they would be safe. Apparently the plan worked.

Patrick and the Power of Positive Confession

Today is the feast of the best known Welsh saint, Patrick. St Patrick was captured and taken into slavery by some Irish raiders. As a result, there is now a campaign by Welsh-Irishpersons to get reparations from the Oireachtas. They are awaiting an apology from the Taoiseach. No, wait, I got the story mixed up with something else. . .

Actually, after St Patrick escaped and returned to Wales, he received Holy Orders and returned as a missionary to Ireland. He did the usual missionary bishop stuff, like preaching the Gospel, converting kings, baptising lots o’ people, performing a few miracles – you know the routine. He also did some writing.

Only two authentic written works by St Patrick survive. His Confessio is what evangelicals might call his testimony. He recounts who he is and what God has done in his life.

His Epistola is also called the Address to the Soldiers of Coroticus. These were Roman soldiers who had at one time declared their faith in Christ, but who had turned to raiding and enslaving other Christians. In some ways it has the flavour of a Pauline or early Patristic epistle, in that it has both a specific and general audience. At various points, St Patrick addresses the soldiers, Christians in general, the captives, and God.

The most popular work attributed to St Patrick and consistent with his theology, but most likely 7th or 8th century in origin, is the Lorica. It reminds me of the spiritual warfare prayer we used in the early 1980s. I spent my formative years in a tradition that generally eschews written prayers, but for a while there was a spiritual warfare prayer printed in tract form that was all the rage. Looking back, I’m not sure why it was okay to read that prayer and really mean it from the heart and not others.

Anyhow, as best I recall, the spiritual warfare prayer gave some attention to the armour of God, as described in Ephesians 6. I mention this because “lorica” is Latin for “breastplate”. The Lorica is not actually a prayer, per se, but more of an affirmation, or a declaration, or to use the terminology of my youth, a positive confession. As I read it again, I realised that it is a verbalisation of the sign of the Cross that as Orthodox Christians we make at various times of the day for various reasons including any invocation of the Trinity.

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Restoration

I’m glad to say that my Wikipedia article on “a band called David” has been restored.

I convinced the administrator who deleted it that they met the criteria of a “notable band”. I also Googled and found out what the original drummer Gene Gunnels is doing now.

As I have mentioned before, How the West Was One was one of the first contemporary Christian albums I owned. It still makes a regular spin in my car CD player, 28 years after bought the cassettes. For some reason, Gene’s work on the ride cymbal on the opening track “Hey Whatcha’ Say” during the lyric “Not in my life / Not in my life / Not in my life” and at the end of the song is still a foundational memory that I re-live each time I hear it. It is again the ride cymbal that comes at 13:50 on the Phil Keaggy song “Rejoice” that I always notice as the Keaggy/Souther duet fills out to a full band jam for the last two and a half minutes of the first disc.

Definitely notable music.

Abkhazia

There’s just so much going on in the world and you never really hear about some of the little guys. Abkhazia is not recognised by any other country in the world. This is especially true of Georgia, from which is trying to establish its independence. Abkhazia held parliamentary elections yesterday, but this act has been denounced in Tbilisi.

Its absorption into Georgia is a relatively recent. It was unilaterally made a part of Georgia by Stalin in 1931. This led to attempts at ethnic obliteration, including changing the Abkhaz alphabet to a Georgian base, closure of Abkhazian schools and replacing them with Georgian schools, banning the Abkhaz language, you know, the usual stuff.

Because the head of Stalin’s secret police, Lavrentiy Beria, was a Georgian from Abkhazia, he had a special hatred from the Abkhaz. After World War II, he planned to deport the entire Abkhazian nation. Only his fall from power after the death of Stalin in 1953 prevented this.

Like Georgia, Abkhazia is an Orthodox Christian nation. It was evangelised by St Nino in the early 4th century. Having adopted the five-cross flag, maybe it’s time for Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to show a little more Christian charity.

In the meantime, I’ve added Abkhazia to my flags of unrecognised oppressed nations on the right.

From Tainted Past to Total Recall

Once it was shown that an ancestor of Al Sharpton was once owned by Strom Thurmond’s grandfather’s cousin, the floodgates have been opened. Politicians are now being scutinised by whether they have any ancestors who owned slaves.

The latest victim of genealogical criticism is none other than Barak Obama. It appears that the man who would be the first black President has ancestors that owned slaves. It wasn’t his black ancestors that have been traced, though virtually every slave that was ever owned in the US was either originally owned by a black person or was the descendant of someone who was. No, since Obama is proof that you are only as black as you feel, it was two of his white ancestors, a great-great-great-great-grandfather and a great-great-great-great-great-grandmother that are shown in the 1850 census as owning two slaves each.

So there – terrible truth has been dredged up. Obama has some Southern ancestors who weren’t poor. After all, as a general rule, lack of slaveholding was not a matter of principle but of poverty. People who could afford slaves had them. It was an inherent part of the economy.

And truth be told, Obama’s nothern white ancestors (one of who fought in the Union army) were probably, like St Abraham Lincoln, racists. For almost the entire ante-bellum era, abolitionism was by and large the view of a few Unitarians in New England. Even many of those didn’t mind if slaves were freed still didn’t consider them equals.

The same researcher who found out about Obama’s ancestors also discovered that John Edwards and John McCain are also both descended from slaveowners. I’ve been going to try to find out about Al Gore when I get the chance. In my family we don’t often publicise that one of my great-great-grandfathers fought in Gore’s Tennessee Cavalry, not wanting to be tainted any connection with the former Vice-President. However, if that Gore is a relative of Al, clearly this will have to be made known in case he decides to run for the Presidency.

The only presidential wannabe we can be sure had no slaveholder ancestors in the American South is Arnold Schwarzenegger and he isn’t eligible for the office. But then again, his father was a Nazi.

Sapphire

Today is the 171st anniversary of Texas Independence.

It is also the 45th anniversary of my parents’ interdependence.

May God grant them many years!

Like Pearls

While tag surfing, I came across a piece about the Al Sharpton and Strom Thurmond story I blogged about last night. It was in what has to be one of the most vitrolic anti-anything-but-radical-liberalism blogs I’ve ever seen.

I probably made a mistake by leaving a lengthy comment.  I didn’t get a particularly sensible response from the blog author, and it was unkind toward my family, though it was a bit more coherent than an earlier comment she made, “The Pigs in the GOP go oink oink oink, oink oink oink, oink oink oink…the Pigs in the GOP go oink oink oink…..all daaaaaaaaaay long!” which I believe was related to “Oh Larry, Lex has nothing to defend the GOP and their stinking Pig ways, so he comes here to make us out to be just like them. Ignore him. As a Pig, he’ll find something else to eat and spew.”

Just when I despair because of the silliness of Conservapedia, I realise that for every goofy idiot on our side, they have a raving lunatic on theirs.

Family Connections

I suppose with Virginia apologising for slavery, the news atmosphere is ripe for other stories about the Peculiar Institution.

Who would have thought one of Al Sharpton’s ancestors was owned by Strom Thurmond’s family. Now I didn’t say they were owned by ol’ Strom himself – that would have made an even better news story – but conrary to what you might think, Strom was born after the War of the Northern Aggression.

The connection still isn’t quite as close as it appears. He were owned by Strom’s first cousin twice removed, i.e, his grandfather’s first cousin.

The historical novel I’m researching will deal with the relationship between my own first cousin four times removed and the slave who saved his life by hiding him from Federal troops. I have information that his great-granddaughter is still alive and in her 90s. I need to get a hold of her before too long.

I wonder if there are any famous black people out there who have traced their lineage back to slaves owned by my ancestors or even some of my cousins. They had a lot of slaves – not hundreds owned by the same person, but well over a hundred amongst them, of which I’m aware.

If any of you are reading this, please get in touch. You don’t even have to be famous.