How Did Ebenezer Scrooge Get to Congress?

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Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. First edition. Title page.

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. First edition. Title page.

During the recent shameful spectacle of our Washington Elites unable to do the job any family or business does—that is, keep things running and stay on budget—something has gotten lost that we need to explore.

You will recall the iconic character Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” One of his most memorable (pre-metanoia) utterances is in this scene:


This lunatic, in letting Scrooge’s nephew out, had let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge’s office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

“Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe,” said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list.

“Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?”

“Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years,” Scrooge replied. “He died seven years ago, this very night.”

“We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner,” said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.

It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous word “liberality,” Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”

“But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.

“It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.


Dickens’ keen wit is speaking about the battle then raging over social reform in Britain and elsewhere.

Social Reform in Response to the Industrial Revolution

With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in England in the 1760s, and soon after in Western Europe and North America, the

Raven Mill on Raven Avenue, in Chadderton, is one of many former cotton mills in Greater Manchester, England. Most of which were built to service the cotton industry in the 19th century. 18 November 2005. (c) Roger May. Wikimedia Commons.

Raven Mill on Raven Avenue, in Chadderton, is one of many former cotton mills in Greater Manchester, England. Most of which were built to service the cotton industry in the 19th century. 18 November 2005.  Photo (c) Roger May. Wikimedia Commons.

relationship among social and economic classes altered radically. The situation was quite complex, but one of its least savory aspects was that workers, including children, began to be treated as just another part of the machines they served. Social conditions were often deplorable for the “working class.”

Visionary writers such as William Blake decried this situation over and over, as in his reference to “Dark Satanic Mills” in the now famous “Jerusalem,” and called for reform:

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.

— From the frontispiece to Milton: a Poem (1808).

That call was heeded, in both the secular and religious worlds. The English Reform Movement, beginning around the 1830s worked for and brought about a wide range of reforms, and this was taken up in the United States and elsewhere.

Domus Sancti Spiritus. The House of the Holy Spirit (Rosicrucian).

Domus Sancti Spiritus. The House of the Holy Spirit (Rosicrucian).

Sources of Reform

The ideals of the reformers were those of the Enlightenment, and in particular, the progressive ideals of the Rosicrucians and Free Masons, who had sparked the wave of Independence movements, commencing with the American Revolution of 1776. In some sense, this was part-two of The New World Order of equality, freedom and justice. We have discussed this in previous Blogs. Many reformers also were inspired by their religious beliefs.

On the religious side, the Roman Catholic Church took a clear stand on the side of the workers and the poor, and this was signaled with Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, Rerum Novarum in 1891. This tradition of progressive social and economic teaching has continued unbroken to today:



Pope Pius XI
Quadragesimo AnnoPope Pius XII
Social teachingsPope John XXIII
Mater et Magistra
Pacem in TerrisVatican II
Dignitatis Humanae
Gaudium et Spes

Pope Paul VI
Populorum progressio

Pope John Paul II
Laborem Exercens
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis
Centesimus Annus
Evangelium Vitae

Pope Benedict XVI
Deus Caritas Est
Caritas in Veritate

Pope Francis
Lumen fidei

In Lumen fidei, Pope Francis completed an encyclical drafted by Benedict XVI, and continued this progressive teaching:

“Faith, on the other hand, by revealing the love of God the Creator, enables us to respect nature all the more, and

Pope Francis greets the crowd of faithful from his popemobile in downtown Rio de Janeiro on July 22, 2013. Pope Francis touched down in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, starting his first foreign trip as pontiff.

Pope Francis greets the crowd of faithful from his popemobile in downtown Rio de Janeiro on July 22, 2013. Pope Francis touched down in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, starting his first foreign trip as pontiff. Toronto Star.

to discern in it a grammar written by the hand of God and a dwelling place entrusted to our protection and care. Faith also helps us to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted; it teaches us to create just forms of government, in the realization that authority comes from God and is meant for the service of the common good. Faith likewise offers the possibility of forgiveness, which so often demands time and effort, patience and commitment. Forgiveness is possible once we discover that goodness is always prior to and more powerful than evil, and that the word with which God affirms our life is deeper than our every denial. From a purely anthropological standpoint, unity is superior to conflict; rather than avoiding conflict, we need to confront it in an effort to resolve and move beyond it, to make it a link in a chain, as part of a progress towards unity.” (Lumen fidei, 55)

Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople, surrounded by minarets. The Great Church in Captivity. Photo (c) 2004, Robert Raderschatt. Wikimedia Commons.

Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople, surrounded by minarets. The Great Church in Captivity. Photo (c) 2004, Robert Raderschatt. Wikimedia Commons.

In Eastern Christianity, during the early reform movement, most Churches were under either very controlling governments (e.g. Russia) or hostile regimes (e.g. Greece, Constantinople and the Middle East) so that their social teaching was muted. Once freedom was regained, however, the same progressive social and economic Patristic tradition that we spoke of two weeks ago with St. Basil and the Cappadocians was restored to the fore.

Paulos Mar Gregorios

Paulos Mar Gregorios

Some outstanding examples of this may be found in Theology and the Church by Dumitru Staniloae (Eastern Orthodox), and the writings of Paulos Mar Gregorios (Oriental Orthodox). Staniloae was the outstanding theologian of the Romanian Orthodox revival, and arguably one of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century. Mar Gregorios was a Metropolitan in the Orthodox Church of India (Malankar). For a fascinating beginning in learning about the riches of Indian Christianity (which dates from St. Thomas the Apostle), see the Orthodox Wiki article.

We must, in fairness, acknowledge that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches are officially conservative on certain gender and reproductive issues. In addition, the Roman Catholic Hierarchy has erred horrendously in their cover-up of the molestation scandals of the last decades. Pope Francis is attempting to temper the obsessive focus on a few issues, and, inspired by his Ignatian theology and patronage of St. Francis of Assisi, is moving his Church back into the middle.

While being generally socially and economically progressive, Eastern Christian Churches generally tend to avoid partisan politics on official level, leaving this to the realm of Good Works (Philantropia) by the Faithful. This wise policy was explained and backed by one of my former students, Ron Dudum of San Francisco in an insightful essay. This can temper things, understanding the difference between what civil society can do, and what happens within the Church.

Conservatives in the American Roman Catholic Church have long demonstrated their propensity to “Cafeteria Catholicism,” an epithet they self-servingly throw at the Progressives in their Church, meaning one who does not subscribe to all of the Church’s

Gary F. Wills. As Eamon Duffy says,

Garry Wills


That this is a clear example of “the pot calling the kettle black,” was William F. Buckley’s National Review publishing the concept of “Mater, sí, Magistra, no” (Mother, yes, Teacher, no), first coined in a phone conversation between Buckley and Gary Wills. It is a play on the then current Cuban exile motto: “Cuba, sí, Castro, no,” and the title of Pope John XXIII’s Encyclical Mater et Magistra.

I never thought that Mr. Buckley was a non-Catholic because he rejected the Church’s social teaching, when he came to Mass with his son Christopher at St. Thomas More House at Yale where I served and sang as a student, I hope he would have felt the same about me!

So what about Congressman Scrooge and Senator Marley?

Having put social reform in context: Why are the current GOP elected officials, and the Tea Party in particular, so hostile to the concept of universal health care for all Americans? (Remember that the Tea Party is an Astro-Turf Organization, artificially created by the infamous Koch Brothers and their ilk.)

Foundation of the National Health Service in England.

Foundation of the National Health Service in England.

Today, they claim that they object to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, but let’s face it: the conservatives have been fighting universal health care for decades, and doing everything they could to dismantle FDR’s New Deal and its descendent, LBJ’s The Great Society.

In most of the “Industrialized World,” meaning roughly our peer nations, some form of universal health care is common. The systems are not perfect, but they work, and people do not have to choose to eat or get medical care. This is more or less a result of the Social Reform movements we have discussed. In Britain, after World War II, the government told its people that the same solidarity that had brought them victoriously through the war, was now needed to bring them to health.

Why not here? There may be several reasons.

Naturally, Big Pharma and the Health Care Industry do not want regulation that will diminish their profits (if it really would). And they wield a lot of power (=money).

But there are deeper reasons.

American Exceptionalism

First, Americans have long embraced, or at least flirted with “American Exceptionalism:”

American Exceptionalism?

American Exceptionalism?

“We’re special. It is not useful to compare us to other nations because we are the ‘City set on a Hill’ (Mt. 5:14). We are a qualitatively different (and—hint, hint, wink, wink—superior) society.” William Bradford of the Plymouth Plantation preached this “City set on a Hill” clearly and unambiguously. The Pilgrim settlement was to be the pattern of all for the future.

This concept is seen as early as Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1830s and 1840s, and has become common political currency since about 1980 in the United States, especially among conservatives, but liberals use it when it suits them. Needless to say, post-national thought rejects this.

It is fascinating that the exact phrase “American Exceptionalism” came from the American Communist Party in the 1920s. American Communist leader Jay Lovestone enunciated the belief that America was exempt from the Marxist Laws of History “thanks to its natural resources, industrial capacity, and absence of rigid class distinctions.” Stalin himself condemned this as heresy!

The phrase was picked up in the 1980s by the press to express America’s uniqueness, and it was a contention in the Obama-McCain campaign.

Our Puritan Heritage

Second, it also has something to do with the Puritans.

Following just weeks after the ancient feast of Samhuinn (modern Hallowe’en, All Saints and All Souls), in the United States we will gather around tables laden with Turkey, dressing, Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish (at least in NPR households) and the rest, and commemorate what started off somewhat well, between Europeans and Natives. Linus van Pelt, in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving sums it up beautifully:

“In the year 1621, the Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving feast. They invited the great Indian chief Massasoit, who brought ninety of his brave Indians and a great abundance of food. Governor William Bradford and Captain Miles Standish were honored guests. Elder William Brewster, who was a minister, said a prayer that went something like this: ‘We thank God for our homes and our food and our safety in a new land. We thank God for the opportunity to create a new world for freedom and justice.”

My ancestors were standing in the Southwest, waving “Hello, and welcome to the Continent” to these British immigrants!

“Coronado sets out to the north.” Frederic Remington (1861–1909)

As we know, the relationship between the Europeans and the Native peoples deteriorated tragically, as it had ever since Columbus landed on Hispañola, beginning the destruction of the thriving and sophisticated Native civilizations of South, Central and North America. The vitality of the civilizations of the Americas has recently been demonstrated in 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann.

Many of the later Pilgrims were Puritans (beginning in 1630), that is, Protestant Christian dissenters from the Church of England (Anglican). Some of these, and perhaps the most influential, were Arminians (not Armenians!). This branch of Protestanism stems from the teachings of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his followers:

  1. Election (and condemnation on the day of judgment) was conditioned by the rational faith ornonfaith of man;

    Jonathan Edwards College, Yale.

    Jonathan Edwards College, Yale.

  2. The Atonement, while qualitatively adequate for all men, is efficacious only for the man of faith;
  3. Unaided by the Holy Spirit, no person is able to respond to God’s will;
  4. Grace is resistible; and
  5. Believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace.

This tempered the strict teaching of Reformer John Calvin. The French theologian Calvin was one of the chief reformers of the Protestant Reformation, and seen as the inspiration for the Reformed, Congregational and Presbyterian Churches.

Calvin taught Double Predestination. God has already chosen whom he favors, and they will be saved. He has also chosen those he hates, and they will be damned. Hmmm!

Some branches of his followers, including those in New England, construed his thought this way: how can we tell whom God loves and whom God hates? Wealth and success are signs of God’s favor, and poverty and failure are signs of God’s wrath.

This is a kind of Social Darwinism, preached by Ebenezer Scrooge: Let the poor die. Decrease the surplus population. Why should we provide DoublePredestinationhealth care for them? If God loved them, they’d be able to pay for it for themselves!

This is directly opposed to the mainstream of Christianity, and of all world religions and spiritual traditions. Yet it subtly underlies the national debate on health care, and fuels the opposition to it:

“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you…”  — Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” 1741.

As my Parish’s former Deacon, Fr. Dn. Gerry Sondergaard would say, “Which New Testament is he reading?”

Charting our Course

Knowing the context and background of issues is paramount to navigating through these dangerous shoals. This argument isn’t really about Affordable Health Care. It’s about the nature of American Society, and one’s implied theological stance. Mainstream Christianity, in concert with most all world spiritualities clearly teaches that God is on the side of the poor. It’s not that God doesn’t love the wealthy, they just don’t need any help. The poor do, and the rich should provide that to image God.

Roman Emperor Justinian

Roman Emperor Justinian

With regard to health care, we saw in our post two weeks ago that the Christian Roman Empire had a fully developed free healthcare system. Those against universal health care in the US, and who claim to be Christian, need to learn what their religion actually stands for.

OK, that’s my word for today. Thank you for reading!

Some may wonder what my model for style is. I like to think of myself as that rambling old professor who is supposed to be teaching the various uses of the genitive case in Classical Greek, but spends the first 20 minutes of the class waxing eloquent on something, and then eventually gets to the genitive absolute.

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Enough is Enough!


US Capitol


The manufactured crisis of Governmental Shutdown has pushed me over the line. I have to come out of the Political Closet. Enough is enough.

English: George Bernard Shaw, Nobel laureate i...

George Bernard Shaw, Nobel laureate in Literature 1925. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enough, by the way, is a prime example of our twisted legacy of historic spellings in English. George Bernard Shaw is credited with the quip that Fish should be spelled Ghoti…“gh” from enough, “o” from women, and “ti” from nation. Historical spellings plague both French and English, and to some extent, German. Wikipedia has excellent sections on English spelling peculiarities, French Orthography, and German Orthography.

I apologize in advance if this edition seems overly political or partisan. One of these days, I’ll do what I hope will be an equally biting Blog entry on “When Liberals Go Bad.” I have plenty of ammunition for that too. But the current state of affairs leads me in another direction today.

Elephant and donkey in Luna Park, Coney Island, N.Y., prior to race to Washington to decide the bet of Joseph Cannon and Luna Park creator Frederic Thompson. 1911

Elephant and donkey in Luna Park, Coney Island, N.Y., prior to race to Washington to decide the bet of Joseph Cannon and Luna Park creator Frederic Thompson. 1911.

The Two Parties

OK, back to the topic. A friend of mine, Fr. Tom Allender, S.J. and I came up with a pithy way of talking about our current U.S. political landscape:

“We have two parties: The Stupid Party and The Evil Party.” Thanks Tom!

As a life-long Democrat, I sadly concede that my party is the Stupid Party. We had full control of the Government at the beginning of the Obama Administration and couldn’t get much done.  The old joke is unfortunately true:

“Do you belong to an Organized Political Party?”

“No. I’m a Democrat.”

Contemporary Republicans

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (center), Stephen Colbert to the left and Jon Stewart to the right.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (center), Stephen Colbert to the left and Jon Stewart to the right.

But the other side of the Aisle has now become The Evil Party. Taken over by religious fanatics and the Astroturf “Tea Partiers” (The Tea Party is a fake creation of the Koch Brothers and their allies), the GOP now just lies and obstructs any progress at all. Its media voice is Roger Ailes’ (mis)led Fox News, who wouldn’t know a fact if they stumbled over one in the dark. Fox “newscasts” are simply one long propaganda stream without any attempt at fairness or balance. It is such a parody of itself that only a comedian as talented as Stephen Colbert can mock them, while his colleague Jon Stewart holds their feet (as well as CNN’s, MSNBC’s and other Media’s feet) to the fire.

This has not always been true. When I was growing up, The Grand Old Party was a dignified group of people whom I didn’t

President Eisenhower

President Eisenhower

particularly agree with, but they were (in the language of the day) Statesmen. Pres. Eisenhower, Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller, Pres. Ford are good examples. Even (gasp!) Pres. Nixon was a remarkably progressive in social reform and international politics. He just had a deadly problem of his personal morality and honesty that doomed his administration. Sen. Barry Goldwater was a fine Senator for my home state of Arizona, although I didn’t want to see him President.

Beginning with the administration of Pres. Reagan, however, things shifted, and the Neocons and Religious Right took over. Chaney, Rumsfeld, Gingrich, and their ilk took over behind the scenes, and eventually, under Pres. G.W. Bush and since, have led the party.  There are some Republicans who hearken back to the better days of the GOP, such as Gov. Chris Christie.

The Shutdown of 2013

The current Republican Shutdown of the National Government and the statements of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are prime examples of the bald-face lying—or completely being out-of-touch and believing one’s own fictions—that now typify the current Republicans.

Now let me be fair. Democratic Politicians lie when it suits them, and spin things to their advantage. They just aren’t very good at it, being generally liberal progressives, since it makes them feel (and look) guilty. The “hand in the cookie-jar” look. Just think “Gov. Rod Blagojevich”!

The Shutdown-Anti-Affordable Healthcare talk of Congressional Republicans is a perfect example for us to subject to submit to rhetorical analysis. Cruz is backed in this effort by the rather Conservative Heritage Foundation.

Fr. Protodeacon Paul Weyrich

Fr. Protodeacon Paul Weyrich

As a side note, I was a colleague of Heritage and Free Congress founder Fr. Protodeacon Paul Weyrich who was a good man, and a fellow supporter of Amtrak. I just disagreed very very much, respectfully, with his politics and social views. I served the Divine Liturgy with him in the Holy Place, and trust that he is with God now.

This highlights one of the most important things missing from the Right’s verbage. They have lost the concept of “the Loyal Opposition.” Fr. Dn. Paul (of Eternal Memory) and I are both loyal Americans with very different viewpoints. In the current hyper-partisanship of the Republicans, if you criticized Pres. G.W. Bush, you were being disloyal to the Country. Today, if you criticize Pres. Obama, you are a patriot. Point-of-View has become the absolute standard instead of a reasoned, balanced debate among loyal citizens. As we will see later, this must change.

The “Argument”

The Anti-Affordable Healthcare talk goes like this: “Obama care will hurt Americans. They don’t understand it and don’t want it. This was forced on the American People by the President and the Democrats.”

The reality: The Affordable Health-Care Act is not perfect, and like so much of government, is confusing. Some of its inadequacies stem from the opposition of Republicans during its creation. Nevertheless, it is a very long-overdue reform of a health-care system that is incredibly out of line with those in most Western Industrialized Nations. As of 10-2-13, the second day site was open, 6.1 million people have visited the registration site, overwhelming the resources of the website. We want this. We need this.

What Boehner, Cruz and other nay-sayers are doing is like this:



You are standing with a friend next to a civic auditorium, the (former HP Pavilion) SAP Center in San Jose where a concert by Justin Timberlake is about to take place. Fans of every age, gender and ethnicity are lined up by the thousands up and down Santa Clara Street and into the Parking Lot waiting to get in. CalTrains continue to disgorge more attendees every few minutes. The marquee flashes “sold out.”

You turn to your friend and say, “Man, nobody listens to Justin Timberlake any more. Who would go to a concert of his?”

Your friend points to the crowd, a puzzled look on his face.

You reply, “Oh, they don’t count, those kind of people have no taste! I mean real, ordinary people.”

QED (quod erat demonstrandum=that which was to be demonstrated)

This is what Boehner, Cruz and their colleagues are doing, ignoring the clear facts in front of their faces, and instead, following their own ideology.

Rhetorical Analysis

Let’s apply some rhetorical analysis.

First, they have demonized the Affordable Health Care act by calling it exclusively “Obamacare,” (just as Christians “demonized”

Winged snake-tailed daimon in an animal frieze, gecko on the right near the handle. Oversized Corinthian kylix, ca. 620 BCE.

Winged snake-tailed daimon in an animal frieze, gecko on the right near the handle. Oversized Corinthian kylix, ca. 620 BCE.

the word δαίμων (daimon), originally benevolent nature spirits in Greek Religion). This implies that this health-care legislation is something dreamed up by, and imposed by, one man, instead of the result of decades of effort by lots of people. Hyper-partisans are very good at this tactic, and media are like sheep in using the handy terms. They are attractive because they are pithy, catchy and convenient, while “Affordable Health Care Act” is none of these, being government-speak.

Next, their propaganda relies on fear, and misinformation. For decades, since Pres. Reagan, Republicans have been scaring the daylights out of middle America (what we now call the Red Areas) and gaining power by doing it. When the big bogeyman of Communism fell, it became liberals, latte-drinking, yogurt-eating urbanites, feminists, and LGBT people, immigrants, and hybrid-drivers that the great middle was told to fear.

Let’s be honest: On the other side, urban progressives often (secretly) look down on their fellow Americans from the Red Areas as benighted, ignorant hicks.

I say “Red Areas,” by the way, instead of Red States, because the reality is far more complex. If we examine a map of voting by counties, we see the real divide.

2008 Counties

Mark Newman at The University of Michigan has done an excellent analysis of the voting patters in the 2008 Presidential Election. What we see is generally a divide between Urban America and Rural America. The little blue spots are areas of higher population density. This is a bit oversimplified as there are some regional divisions as well, but I believe we see the problem.

A note is due on how easily we can debunk the partisan stereotypes. A friend had an old stockbroker in Oklahoma who was making fun of those who drive Hybrids. “Can’t see one of those puny hybrids having enough power to be of use on a farm!” he quipped.

My friend, whose family includes trainmen like mine, held back from reminding him that railroad trains are hybrid diesel electric. And Superman is the only one more powerful than a locomotive!

That’s how silly this all is, funny, if it weren’t destroying us.

Bangkok during the Riots

Bangkok during the Riots

The deep roots of the fear-mongering can be summed up as “Fear those who are different from you.” This is the tribal mentality that fuels the Balkans conflicts, the massacres in Africa, the civil unrest in Thailand, and so many other tragedies. Ideologues routinely use this strategy to divide and conquer.

When I was an undergraduate at Yale, the New York Times did an investigative report on the Boston Bussing controversies, which set poor blacks and poor Irish at one another’s throats. As it turns out, this manufactured conflict was created by the wealthy “Boston Brahmans” to keep these potential partners in reform from making common cause in reform and civic progress. To this day, an African-American takes his life in his hands if he walks into Irish Southie, and the reverse is somewhat true of Roxbury.

Invincible Ignorance

Finally, the Congressional Republicans are practicing the “Invincible Ignorance Fallacy.” This is a state of mind that is ideologically based, refusing to admit of the possibility of any evidence opposing your position, and deliberately refuses to listen to any facts and evidence that would counter your argument. It is, in fact, a sham argument, since real argument necessitates facts and evidence, along with reasoning. They are either knowingly or unknowingly caught in this Fallacy.

Ultra-Extreme Creationists (not the Intelligent Designers) follow this approach. The most extreme think this way:

The Devil planting Fossils to fool us!

The Devil planting Fossils to fool us!

God made the world exactly the way it says in the “Christian” (actually Jewish) Bible. It was created about 4004 BC (sic).

  • What about the fossil record, the geological record, the archeological record, and evolutionary theory that all show a much different picture?

The Devil planted all that evidence to tempt us to disbelieve the Bible, which is literally inerrant.

(Note: the vast majority of Christian Churches have never taught inerrancy on the literal level of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. We will do another Blog post on the uses and interpretation of Sacred Scriptures, featuring the Integumentum: the Four Levels of Meaning!)

You probably think I’m joking about the devil and dinosaur bones. Try Googling “Devil plants fossils.” You’ll be amazed. This is the same Invincible Ignorance Fallacy that the Congressional GOP is using on Affordable Health Care and other issues (think Gun Control—not even shooting up a bunch of little kids could get through to them). This is also what fuels hate groups like the Westboro “Baptist Church.”

What Can We Do?

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew

Pope Francis, God bless him, is working to bring his Church back into balance, and restore the spirit of Vatican II. He has the charism of both St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Francis of Assisi to inspire his Christianity. We have to restore balance in our Country, too, using the tools we have at hand.

Papa Francisco

Papa Francisco

So what are we going to do about this state of affairs?

  1. In the short-run, Boehner, Cruz, et al. just need to give up, and end the shutdown and co-operate to raise the debt limit.
  2. Our national conversation must restore the concept of The Loyal Opposition.
  3. We have to reach out across the Urban-Rural and regional divides to recognize that we are all Americans, and we are this together.
  4. We must sadly give up on trying to convince the Invincibly Ignorant. Let’s concentrate on building a reasonable majority coalition.

Now, we are going to enter my own personal fantasyland. If we really, really want to restore balance to our national political life, here’s my wish list. I know it’s “out there,” but keep an open mind.

Money Out of Politics

  1. Take all money out of Politics.
    1. No private or corporate campaign spending or donations. All elections, at every level, are publically financed. You can’t use your own money to run for office.
    2. Outlaw PACs and the like.
    3. All broadcast time for campaigns is free, donated by the Networks. We do own the airwaves, you know. A reasonable equation can be worked out for how much support you need to get TV/radio time.
    4. Restrict Lobbying to merely sharing your opinion/position with elected officials. No goods/services/perks may be given, not even buying a Congress member a cup of coffee. No Gifts. No writing bills for Congress to use. No junkets. None.
    5. Limit Campaigns to six weeks or maybe two months. No campaigning allowed before the kickoff date.
    6. Voting on Saturday and Sunday to maximize participation. All voting machines must either use a scanned paper ballot or issue a printed receipt showing the vote, with two copies, one for the voter and one for the polling place. A paper re-count can always be done. No computer-only paperless voting, as this is too easy to manipulate.
    7. Non-Partisanship strictly enforced on Non-Profits, e.g. Churches. They can advocate for positions, but absolutely for no candidates or parties. Tax Exemption of the Parish/Congregation or offending body will be removed on the first offense for a reasonable amount of time.
    8. Once this is done and in place, we can then proceed to remove Personhood from Corporations by a Constitutional Amendment. Corporate officials are now personally liable for the decisions they make, and their consequences. If I drive drunk and kill someone, I am found guilty of vehicular manslaughter. If a corporate official signs off on a product/policy that he/she knows is demonstrably dangerous to life (as in substandard car part), and someone dies as a direct result, he or she should be tried for—say—negligent homicide. Let’s get serious about personal responsibility. What do you say, William Bennett? Put that in your Book of Virtues!
      1. Corporate Secrecy is limited to proprietary secrets that are necessary to protect their copyrights, patents, etc. All other materials (emails, audits, board meeting minutes, etc.), are open to Public scrutiny. A Court, using in camera sessions, can even scrutinize the proprietary secrets if needed for a criminal or civil case.
      2. Think of how this will change our Financial Institutions,
        Big Pharma, Big Tobacco (!), et al.
President Teddy Roosevelt

President Teddy Roosevelt

We have a great deal to accomplish, and we are a great country and a great people. We have to tackle

Our Mother and Father among the Saints, Franklin and Eleanor (Thank you AZ Club and Uncle Dan!)

Our Mother and Father among the Saints, Franklin and Eleanor (Thank you AZ Club and Uncle Dan!)

poverty, homelessness, a crumbling infrastructure, millions who need meaningful work, sustainable and renewable energy independence, continuing racism and classism, and so forth. We have to get past this partisan blockade and move forward together.

I think this is perhaps our last chance to break the power of the corporations and big money at this stage in history. We did this at the beginning of the 20th century. We need to return to updated versions of the Square Deal of President Teddy Roosevelt and the New Deal of Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Neither President Roosevelt was perfect (Teddy held some pretty offensive racial opinions, for example), but their economics were pretty good.

My Inspiration

The Three Satellites of the Holy Trinity: Sts. Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian.

The Three Satellites of the Holy Trinity: Sts. Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian.

What is my inspiration for my positions? Well, first, my Eastern Christianity. Christianity which is always socially and economically progressive. Many Church Fathers, such as St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzen), and St. Gregory of Nyssa were economically progressive. St. Basil taught that if you have two cloaks in your closet, you have stolen one from the poor.

Tri Sviatitelia (Russian: Три Святителя meaning the Three Holy Satellites) was a pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Russian Navy during the 1890s.

Tri Sviatitelia (Russian: Три Святителя meaning the Three Holy Satellites) was a pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Russian Navy during the 1890s.

Entrepreneurship in Byzantine Christian thought is the same as a talent for metalworking, or any other skill. An Entrepreneur has been given that skill by God:

  1. To Provide honorable employment with a living wage
  2. To Produce good and useful products and/or services at a reasonable and fair price

If he or she makes a tidy sum doing this, that is fine, as long as he/she also is very generous in Philanthropia. God is Ὁ Φιλάνθρωπος, The Philanthrōpos, The Lover of Humanity par excellence. We must image God in this quality.

Roerich Museum, New York (1931); Louis & Nettie Horch col., New York (1935); Katherine Campbell col., USA (1940s); Nicholas Roerich Museum (on loan since 1949; acquisition, 1963).  Пантелеймон Целитель.

St. Panteleimon. Roerich Museum, New York (1931); Louis & Nettie Horch col., New York (1935); Katherine Campbell col., USA (1940s); Nicholas Roerich Museum (on loan since 1949; acquisition, 1963). Пантелеймон Целитель.

One of the concrete ways in which the Christian Roman Empire did this was in its health-care system in the capital of Constantinople. By the 6th century reign of St. Justinian as Emperor, the Health Center there gave the best medical care available in Europe until the 18th century, and this continued throughout the life of the Empire, until its fall in 1453. Health care was free, and open to all. Doctors and Nurses (we have copies of their notes for rounds) worked at the Center for 6 months of the year, and there were no fees paid by the patients. During the off 6 months, medical professionals could conduct their private practice for fees.

The system was supported by the Imperial Family,

St. Luka

St. Luka

wealthy Romans, and the Church. Parenthetically, there is a class of Saints in Eastern Christianity called “The Holy Unmercenary Physicians,” who healed miraculously without charge. These were the Ἅγιοι Ανάργυροι, Hagioi Anárgyroi, such as St. Panteleimon, Sts. Cosmas and Damian, and a modern Saint, Валенти́н Фе́ликсович Во́йно-Ясене́цкий, Valentin Felixovich Voyno-Yasenetsky, later Archbishop Luka (Luke), Архиепи́скоп Лука́ (1877-1961). An outstanding surgeon, he served as Archbishop of Simferopol and of the Crimea.

Fr. David serving Divine Liturgy at Emmaus House

Fr. David serving Divine Liturgy at Emmaus House

A friend and colleague of mine, Melkite Greek Catholic priest Fr. David Kirk edited a little volume called Quotations from Chairman Jesus, demonstrating Christ’s love of the poor and revolutionary spirit. He is one of many progressive Christians, like Dorothy Day, Ekaterina Fyodorovna Kolyschkine (Екатерина Фёдоровна Колышкина) Catherine Doherty, Archbishop Joseph Raya, and Jim Wallis.

Another inspiration for my views and approaches is the Rosicrucian Utopia, probably

Rosicrucian Cultural Center of NYC, Harlem

Rosicrucian Cultural Center of NYC, Harlem

best known through the vision of the Federation in Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek. One can learn more about the Rosicrucian Utopia in the 4th Rosicrucian Manifesto, Positio Fraternitatis (2000).

Let’s get to work. We have a lot to do!

Thank you for listening!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutoring, Editing and Consulting

Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day

Catherine Doherty

Catherine Doherty

Archbishop Raya

Jim Wallis
Jim Wallis

The Heart of Darkness

JOSEPH CONRAD, Sydney Harbour

JOSEPH CONRAD, Sydney Harbour (Photo credit: Australian National Maritime Museum on The Commons)

Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City

Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A former U.S. Air Force Cessna A-37B Dragonfly...

A former U.S. Air Force Cessna A-37B Dragonfly (s/n 70-1285, c/n 43300), used in the Vietnam War. It was passed on to the South Vietnamese Air Force as “287”. In 1975 it was taken over by the Vietnam People’s Air Force “09”. It is today on display at War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (the markings do not represent any USAF markings). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover of "Heart of Darkness (Broadview Li...

Cover via Amazon

English: Busy street market on Chau Van Diep s...

English: Busy street market on Chau Van Diep street, Binh Thanh district, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Lëtzebuergesch: Stroossenszene zu Ho Chi Minh City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ho Chi Minh City's Downtown at night

Ho Chi Minh City’s Downtown at night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City...

English: War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City...

English: War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





























Dear Faithful Correspondents,

The Heart of Darkness is the Joseph Conrad novel about a colonialist gone native in Africa, which was the inspiration for its adaptation into the Vietnam War Film, Apocalypse Now. I used these two to keep my High School Senior English students occupied during the last two weeks of their Senior years, 1981-1984, and so I know them well.

I had some trepidation coming to this City, and this Country, given our shared history. I was sobered and surprised.

Today we went to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). So many years ago I almost came here in a very different capacity, but my number was never called. I registered as a non-combatant: I was ready to serve my Country, but only as a chaplain’s aid or a medic.

Thank God I was not called!

Before discussing my experiences of the day, let me lay out clearly my positions.

— I honor without any qualification the brave men and women who served our Nation in Vietnam, and those of our allies, South Vietnam, Australia, et al. With the exception of those who committed atrocities such as My Lai, they did the best they could.

— I honor the men and women of the North who served their country, again, except for those who violated the “Rules of War” (a pretty sick concept, overall, but it is what it is).

— That being said, I believe the US was horribly wrong to prosecute the Vietnam War.

OK, it is good to get that out on the table.

His rebus dictis, Saigon in 2013 is an incredible place!  We have to thank our lucky stars that Vietnam is overwhelmingly Buddhist and Catholic Christian. Both spiritualities emphasize compassion, forgiveness and acceptance (yes, Victoria, that is what Christianity is REALLY about, not exclusion and prejudice… hmmmm!).

We came ashore about 2.25 hours outside of Ho Chi Minh City, and took a comfortable bus ride into the city. Along the way, we saw an immense path of industrial sites, Buddhist Temples, Christian Churches, store-fronts, and above all, restaurants serving Pho (the unique Vietnamese soup) and Com (rice dishes).

The first thing I noticed was that, although English signs on businesses did occur, the street signs, and most business signage were solely in Vietnamese.

Let me take as moment to talk about Vietnamese.

Vietnamese is a South Asian language, with relationships and cognates with its neighboring Thai, Burmese, Laotian, and Chinese languages. Prior to the 17th century, it was written in Chinese characters and  also a modified Chinese script, but the Jesuit 17th century French missionary named Alexandre de Rhodes (1591–1660), perfected a script using the Latin alphabet plus unique diacritical markings based on works of earlier Portuguese missionaries (Gaspar do Amaral and António Barbosa).

Thanks to this, we can actually sound out much of Vietnamese, which I see regularly on VTA Buses in San Jose!

We arrived in the center of the city, and began our perambulations. First stop: changing money. Today, about 20,000 Dong = US$1.00, so we got millions of Dong. It is kind of cumbersome, similar to the first time I visited Italy (1972), and we paid in hundreds of thousands of Lira.

Saigon is a bustling, large city. Typical of what I am experiencing, on the road here, and in the city, relative poverty lives cheek-by-jowl with wealth.

Everything seems to be negotiable. Before you get in a taxi, you should bargain with the driver for the flat fee for your trip. Failure to do so could turn a 15 minute ride into about 750,000 Dong (= $40). Negotiated, the ride would probably be about 50,000 Dong (= $2.50).

We first went to our prime objective: the War Remnants Museum. This is a large collection of photos and artifacts from, as it is called “The American War of Aggression.”

The battlefield photos are bad, but the whole room full of the children’s photos who were and are the victims of Agent Orange is enough to make the strongest person weep. What were we thinking?

Along with the photos, there is running commentary with quotes from the U.S. and International opposition to the War, as well as quotes from U.S. figures such as General Curtis Lemay saying  “…the North must pull in its horns, or we will bomb them back into the Stone Age.”

There is also a gallery of support posters for the North from many nations around the world.

All in all, it is a fair presentation, and devastating. Possibly the most surprising is a large gallery dedicated to the international photojournalists who lost their lives in the War, giving their most vivid pictures of the War, which I remember from Life, and CBS News each night.

This exhibit was created in Kentucky about 23 years after the War, and after being exhibited there, it was donated by  the people of Kentucky to this museum. A remarkable gesture of the healing which is taking place.

Former American servicemen have also donated parts of their uniforms, and even their medals, to the museum, in protest of the War.

From there we went to see Notre Dame Cathedral, the Main Post Office, and then had a good Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwich in a central HCMC Mall.

We headed back to the ship, and enjoyed a recreation of Disco by the ship’s singers and dancers!

Tomorrow is a Ship Day, and I will use the time to talk about today’s visit to Nha Trang and to reflect on the difference of the feel of this Communist country, and those I visited in the 1970s (Czechoslovakia and East Germany), the incredible traffic, as well as general thoughts on our ongoing topics.

Until then, be at Peace!

… Sorry for the brevity and typos: Sent from remote on the phone.

Thank you!

Steven A. Armstrong

Tutor, Editor, Consultant, Member and Customer Services


Happy 4th of July: Our Calendar

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Fireworks behind the Washington Monument

Fireworks behind the Washington Monument

I want to wish everyone in the U.S.A a very Happy Independence Day, and a belated Canada Day (July 1) to our Neighbors to the North! We have many blessings to be thankful for, as we discussed in an earlier post about the wave of Independence sparked by the American Revolution.

I am sorry I have been away for awhile. I have been in Miami MC’ing a trilingual Rosicrucian Convention in English, French, Spanish, and even a smattering of Dutch! That was a mental workout! Many thanks to all those who organized and participated!

There is little more to say on the subject of Independence that has not already been said in previous posts. I only want to congratulate the Rosicrucian Order and the Freemasons on their most significant gift to the world: the United States and Western Democracy! May we always renew it in every generation!

For our discussion this week, I thought we could look at the names of our months in English (and some other languages). It is a wonderful way to connect us with our ancient past.

The names for our months in English (and in French, Spanish and many Indo-European languages), come from Ancient Rome. In the beginning, the legendary Calendar of Romulus had these months:

Calendar of Romulus:

  • Martius (31 days) = Month of Mars (the month of the Spring Equinox)
  • Aprilis (30 days) = Month of Opening (Spring)
  • Maius (31 days) = Month of Maia/Bona Dea, the Goddess of Fertility, or of “the Elders” as Ovid states
  • Iunius (30 days): = Month of Juno, or of the young (Ovid)
  • Quintilis (31 days) = Fifth Month
  • Sextilis (30 days) = Sixth Month
  • September (30 days) = Seventh Month
  • October (31 days) = Eighth Month
  • November (30 days) = Ninth Month
  • December (30 days) = Tenth Month

This may have been based on an older Lunar Calendar. The problem is that these months (304 days) do not add up to a solar year of 365.25 (approx.) days. Therefore, the calendar would roll out of date on a regular basis (as the Jewish and Muslim calendars still do today).

To correct this, additional Winter days were added, of no month, to complete the cycle.

We will discuss the Roman calculation of days in another article. In summary, they counted down to three points in the calendar: the Kalends (1st Day), the Nones (9th Day) and the Ides (the 13th or 15th Day of the Month depending on the month. Therefore March 30 was “1 day before the Kalends of April.” This is reminiscent of the Roman numbers Duodeviginti (two down from Twenty = 18, and Undevigenti = one down from Twenty = 19). It also represents the subtractive principle used in later Roman numerals. Originally, 4 was IIII, later it became IV, which we use today. This is a great example of how spoken usage creates written forms.

There is conflicting evidence about what happened next. Numa, the legendary second King (Rex) of Rome is said to have redesigned the calendar, but the testimony varies:

Calendar of Numa (from Wikipedia)

Civil calendar Religious calendar
according toMacrobius[3]

and Plutarch[5]

according to Ovid[6](modern order due to

Decemviri, 450 BC)

according to Fowler[7]
Ianuarius (29) Ianuarius Martius
Februarius (28) Martius Aprilis
Martius (31) Aprilis Maius
Aprilis (29) Maius Iunius
Maius (31) Iunius Quintilis
Iunius (29) Quintilis Sextilis
Quintilis (31) Sextilis September
Sextilis (29) September October
September (29) October November
October (31) November December
November (29) December Ianuarius
December (29) Februarius Februarius

Ianuarius is dedicated to the God Janus, the God of entrances and exits, the God of future and past. Februarius is “purification,” a festival held on the full moon on the 15th.

Much later, as this calendar was not satisfactory, Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 45 BCE:

Table of months (Wikipedia) 45 BCE:

Months (Roman) Lengths before 45 BCE Lengths as of 45 BCE Months (English)
Ianuarius[ 29 31 January
Februarius 28 (leap years: 23 or 24) 28 (leap years: 29) February
Mercedonius/Intercalaris 0 (leap years: 27) (abolished)
Martius 31 31 March
Aprilis 29 30 April
Maius 31 31 May
Iunius 29 30 June
Quintilis (Later: Iulius) 31 31 July
Sextilis (Later: Augustus) 29 31 August
September 29 30 September
October 31 31 October
November 29 30 November
December 29 31 December

To implement this reform, and to realign the calendar to properly match the seasons, Julius Caesar made 46 BCE 445 days long, the last of a series of irregular years. Naturally, the Romans did not call their year 46 BCE. This form of numbering did not come into effect until the calculations of the monk, (St.) Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Short) in the 6th Century CE. The Romans would have called the year 706 AUC (ab urbe condita: from the (legendary) founding of The City, i.e., Rome, in 753 BCE). Another popular way of dating was using the names of the sitting Consuls, and later, the regnal year of the Emperor.

In 44 BCE, the Senate renamed Quintilis in honor of Julius Caesar, as it was his birth month, and in 8 BCE renamed Sextilis for Augustus, since many of his victories, particularly against Marc Antony and Cleopatra, took place in August.

This Julian calendar with its leap years worked for the 365.25 day cycle, but the problem is that the path of Earth around the Sun is actually 365.256363 days. This results in an incremental difference of the Julian Calendar with the Solstices and Equinoxes. Ancient scholars knew of this problem, but apparently did nothing to correct it. By 1582, the Julian Calendar had moved 10 days out of alignment with the heavens.

To correct this, Pope Gregory XIII promulgated a revision that year, known as the Gregorian Calendar, that realigned the calendar with the solar cycle. This was adopted by most Roman Catholic countries immediately, and about 200 years later by most Protestant countries. In the American Colonies, September 2, 1752 was followed by September 14, 1752. Eastern Christian countries generally adopted the Gregorian Calendar between 1918-1924 for the civil calendar. Many Eastern Churches retained the Julian calendar for ecclesiastical use (and some still do so today). These are sometimes referred to as “Old Calendar Churches.” This explains why some Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7. January 7 (Gregorian) is December 25 on the Julian Calendar. The date of Pascha (Easter) and all of the feasts dependent on Pascha are still calculated on the Julian Calendar for Eastern Orthodox Christians, and some Byzantine Catholics.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches came up with a new compromise in 1923, a revision to the Julian Calendar (the Revised Julian Calendar) which puts it in alignment with the Gregorian until the year 2800, when it will begin diverging at times by a day or two.

Today, with the introduction of atomic clocks and the standard of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the successor to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), we insert a leap second when needed to keep the day properly aligned with the sun’s position in the sky. The latest such adjustment was just a few days ago, on June 30, 2012 at 23:59:60 UTC. Who noticed?

So enjoy the fireworks and the barbecue, and celebrate our freedoms!

— Steven Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

The Tide of Independence in the New World


The Tide of Independence in the New World

Last time we looked at the two holidays, el cinco de mayo and el dieciséis de septiembre. Today, we will explore the wave of New World Independence from Europe that both were part of. Both History and Language are involved!

The Declaration of Independence by John Turnbull

The Declaration of Independence by John Turnbull

The American Revolution in 1776, rapidly followed by the French Revolution in 1789, were both largely the products of the liberal and liberationist thought of many groups from the Enlightenment and before, notably the Masons and the Rosicrucians (yes, Dan Brown actually got it more or less right in his latest novelmirabile dictu!). This set off a series of anti-colonial national liberations, especially in the New World.

The Wave of Independence in the Americas: 

1776 American Revolution
1789   (French Revolution)–For reference
1791   Haitian Revolution
1809   Peruvian War of Independence
1810  Mexican Revolution; May Revolution in what is now Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay
and Uruguay; Chilean War of Independence
1811   Independence Movements in Central America; Venezuelan War of Independence
1819   Colombian Independence
1820   Ecuadorian War of Independence
1821   Guatemala proclaims Central American Independence from Spain. Later becomes
the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua. Panama
is part of Colombia until 1903. (For Belize, see below).
1822   Brazilian Revolution

Under Rule from Abroad until Later:

1865   Dominican Republic
1867   US purchases Alaska from Russia
1902   Cuba (US grants independence)
1962   Jamaica; Trinidad and Tobago
1966   Guyana (British Guyana); Barbados  (Independent State in the British
Commonwealth Realm)
1973  The Bahamas
1974   Grenada (Independent State in the British Commonwealth Realm)
1975   Suriname (Dutch Guyana)
1978   Dominica
1979   Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
1981   Antigua and Barbuda; Belize (Independent States in the British Commonwealth
1982   Canada achieves Patriation–Full Independence from the British Parliament
(Independent State in the British Commonwealth Realm)
1983   Saint Kitts and Nevis

Still Administered by an External State:

Anguila (UK)
British Virgin Islands (UK)
Cayman Islands (UK)
French Guyana (A Department of France–DOM)*
Falkland Islands (UK)–Islas Malvinas
Guadaloupe (A Department of France–DOM)*
Leeward Antilles (The Netherlands) (Aruba, Caraçao, Bonnaire)
Martinique (A Department of France–DOM)*
Montserrat (UK)
Puerto Rico (US Territory)*
Saint Barthélemy (A Territory of France–TOM)–St. Bart’s!*
Saint Martin (France & The Netherlands)
Saba (The Netherlands)
Sint Eustatius (The Netherlands)
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (UK)
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
U.S. Virgin Islands (US Territory)*

*Since the starred areas are officially integrated with the external country, they are considered to now be self-governing by the United Nations. France has a system abbreviated as DOM-TOM (départements et territoires d’outre-mer–Overseas Departments and Territories). Départements are roughly the equivalent of a French “State,” an integral part of France just as Alaska and Hawai’i are part of the United States. Territoires have their own local laws and governments, and also have representation in the French Parliament.

Now, truth be told, independence from Europe has not always meant justice and peace in the nations of the New World, but at least most are free to make their own mistakes. And the few areas still controlled by external powers seem fairly just and peaceful.

The Monroe Doctrine

President James Monroe by Samuel Morse

President James Monroe by Samuel Morse

This freedom from European domination was so important in the minds of US leaders in the 19th century that President James Monroe proclaimed the “Monroe Doctrine” in  1823:

“The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers…

“We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.”

Although initially welcomed by the Liberators in México and South America, some today view this as a U.S. attempt to become the Hemispheric leader. It was used heavy-handedly in the case of Puerto Rico, Cuba (against Spain) and Hawaii (against Britain). It was, in fact, the British decision to support the Monroe Doctrine by using its vast Navy in favor of the newly emerging nations of Latin America that was most effective. The British had very good economic reasons to do this, as these new countries were major consumers of British goods.

The Reaction of the Monarchies

St. Roque González, S.J. (de Santa Cruz)

St. Roque González, S.J. (de Santa Cruz). “The Mission” is loosely based on his life.

21st century people, especially young people, need to realize what monarchies of the past were like. Today, Kings and Queens are primarily romantic figures, constitutionally bound, and very good for tourism and national identity. I have no problem with the 21st century style monarchies of free nations, especially in as it is practiced in Europe.

Monarchies of the past are something else all-together. Just 400 years ago, Europe endured such mass murderers as Henry VIII of England, among many others. Even in the 18th-20th centuries, Monarchs were still quite decadent. The treatment of the Belgian Congo by Belgium’s King Leopold II is one of the most heinous examples. Just watch The Tudors or The Borgias to get a good look at what life was like under these tyrants, or view how North Korea and Iran are governed today, even without Kings. This is what our New World revolted against. Of course, human frailty being what it is, our New World governments sometimes perpetrated the same ills on the people. But we know it is wrong, and therefore can fix it. We are primarily looking at the New World in this essay, but the Arab Spring reminds us that this is a worldwide phenomenon, as all people struggle for freedom.

The Tyrannical Monarchies fought back, with a vengeance. 

Earlier, by 1767, the Jesuits–a major force for the rights of those in Europe’s colonies–were expelled from Portugal, France, the Two SiciliesParma and the Spanish Empire. Under pressure from several monarchies, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Order in 1773. The European Monarchies realized that liberation was in the wind, and made a pre-emptive strike. Catherine the Great of Russia refused to cooperate in the suppression, and so the Jesuits survived in Russia and Prussia until their restoration in 1814. She  probably acted to spite the western powers. The Jesuits’ work in supporting the indigenous peoples is well told in the film The Mission, and through the story of the Pious Fund of the Californias. It is ironic that even though the Jesuits represented many of the ideals of the Wave of Independence, the US Founding Fathers were not all fans. As John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1816:

“I do not like the reappearance of the Jesuits…. Shall we not have regular swarms of them here, in as many disguises as only a king of the gipsies can assume, dressed as printers, publishers, writers and schoolmasters? If ever there was a body of men who merited damnation on earth and in Hell, it is this society of Loyola’s. Nevertheless, we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an asylum.”

Today’s Jesuits, thoroughly part of American society, not surprisingly use this quote themselves to demonstrate their effectiveness.

Adam Weishaupt by C. K. Mansinger (1799)

Adam Weishaupt by C. K. Mansinger (1799)

From 1776-1785, a group of scholars in Bavaria, led by the Jesuit-educated Adam Weishaupt formed a group, the Illuminati, whose goals were to end the Old Order of Monarchic domination and to promote the Enlightenment goals of self-determination and freedom. Again, they were suppressed by the government. (This is where Dan Brown really went wrong in his Angels and Demons–Yikes!)

From 1814-1815, representatives of all the European powers–mostly monarchies–met at the Congress of Vienna to achieve some laudable goals, and some not so praise-worthy. To their credit, they worked out ways of solving disputes without war, and kept the peace in Europe from 1815-1914. Not so happily, they looked for ways to stem the tide of Independence movements which began with the American and French Revolutions, which they knew threatened their rule, and their empires.

Over time, most of the European countries themselves either became Republics, or evolved into Constitutional Monarchies. Nevertheless, conflicts originating in Europe involved most of the world during the 20th century, which opened with a war originating in Sarajevo, and ended in the same place. I haven’t counted the bodies, but I suspect that the 20th century was the bloodiest in the planet’s history, from a standpoint of wars and conflict.

Word Meanings: Denotation vs Connotation

Now, to finally come around to some language and terms related to all this. There are three terms that emerge from this discussion which I believe deserve further analysis. These three expressions illustrate very well how the denotation (dictionary definition) and connotation (the “feel” of a term) can be rather different.

Ancien Régime

Marie-Antoinette by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1783)

Marie-Antoinette by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1783)

Literally this French expression just means, “the old regime.” In Revolutionary France, however, it came to be a pejorative term for the way France had been governed from the 15th-18th centuries. The first use of its English version dates from 1794. It has now expanded to mean:

  1. Any of the regimes of pre-Democratic Europe.
  2. Any former governmental structure that current speakers look down on.

Of course, the very root of the word “regime” links it to royalty. The word comes to us from French, which ultimately stems from the Latin regimen (rule, government, direction, guidance). We have the Latin original in English too, as well as several derivatives (regimen, regiment, regimented, etc.). Is it any wonder that our vocabulary is so large?

In Latin, regimen is related to the verb rego, “I rule.” Rego descends from the Proto-Indo-European *h₃reǵ-, which means to straighten, to right oneself, right, and just. There is a derived term *h₃rḗǵ-s, “king.” From *h₃reǵ- come the Greek ὀρέγω (oregō), which has a large range of meanings, all related somehow to stretching out: (Active/Passive Voice:) reach, stretch, hold out, help, (Middle Voice:) lunge, reach, grasp, attack, seek, desire, strive for, attain, reach.

From the PIE root, we also get “rake” (through Proto-German), something that orders the fallen leaves in my yard. We also get “reckon” through the Germanic line.

It does appear that the root *h₃reǵ-, originally meant to rule yourself, straighten yourself out, and then was applied to ruling others. In Scholastic Latin, the goal of human growth was to become a Dominus/Domina Sui “a Lord of Oneself.” Not a bad goal: the Mastery of Life!


Oh boy! This word is fraught with connotations. Let’s dig deep. This is the masculine plural nominative form of the perfect passive participle illuminatus, from the verb illumino, to illumine, brighten, adorn, made conspicuous. The verb is a compound of the preposition in “in” and lumino “to brighten.” It is related to the noun lumen “light” which in poetry could also denote the eyes, daylight, brighness and the light of life. The closely related noun is lux, “light.” In English we have many cognates from these light words, and have even adopted the Latin lumen itself for four of our sciences:

Physics:  a specific unit of light
Anatomy: a channel within a tubular organ
Botany: a cavity enclosed by the cell wall of a plant
Medicine: the bore of a tube (hollow needle, catheter)

Hermes Trismegistus: Floor Mosaic in the Cathedral of Sienna

Hermes Trismegistus: Floor Mosaic in the Cathedral of Sienna

The Latin words relating to light ultimately derive from PIE *lewk-, “bright, to see, to shine.” From this come many descendants in addition to the Latin words above:

  • Greek λευκός (leukós): bright, shining, gleaming, white, happy, joyful (and also pale, weakly, cowardly, that’s where we get “leukemia”)
  • Greek λύχνος (lúkhnos): lamp (cognate with the Latin lucerna, luceo “lamp, to shine”)
  • Latin luna:   the moon, a month, a night, a crescent shape–It shines!
  • Latin lucubro: to work / make by night, candlelight, lamplight

With all of this background, it is perfectly lucid (!) that Illuminati means, literally, the Illumined Ones, Enlightened Ones. As we saw above, the Bavarian Illuminati were free thinkers, albeit not particularly effective, and the progressives of their day. In general, it seems like it would be a very benign term. But something has happened to this word during the last couple of hundred years.

Complicating the issue is that during the 15th-16th centuries in Spain, some Christian Mystics were labeled as the Alumbrados (Spanish for Illuminati) by the Church and tried as Heretics by the Spanish Inquisition, which is brilliantly satirized by Monty Python, and by Mel Brooks in History of the World Part I!

Thus the word took on unhappy associations as far as the authorities were concerned.

Some groups still use the term positively, but mainstream culture has turned the word on its head!  As anyone knows who reads the Internet or watches The Simpsons, most people use the term “The Illuminati” to mean a secret group which runs the world, or tries to, and not for the good of humanity!

(I won’t use the term usually used, cabal, since this is an anti-semitic slur made from the Hebrew Kabbalah, קבלה, used by detractors who thought that the mysticism of the Kabbalah was a secret plot. In a similar fashion, I never use the word “Paddy-Wagon” for a police prisoner transportation van, since that is a racial slur from the New York Draft Riots of 1863 when wealthy men could buy their way out of the draft, but the impoverished Irish could not, and when they rioted, were hauled off in police vans.)

How did this reversal in the meaning of the word happen? I don’t have proof (there never is when you begin to delve into the murky waters of conspiracy theories), but I have a suspicion. And it goes back to the darker side of the Congress of Vienna.

Recalling the concept we have discussed before, Cui Bono, “Whom does it Benefit?” we can look around. Who would like to make us think that there is a secret group that is pulling the strings, and that this group is the Illuminati, who are in actuality the… [insert here whichever groups, movements, etc., any particular writer dislikes]?

When stage magicians want to fool us (for fun), they go through three steps, The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige. In the Pledge, they tell us what they are going to do, setting up our expectations. During the Turn, when they actually do the trick, one of the most important elements is mis-direction. They get us to look at or pay attention to something which distracts us from seeing what is really happening. If they are good at their craft, the Prestige is the finale when the illusion is so good, that we don’t want it explained, it’s just fun!

Run on the Seamen's Savings' Bank during the Panic of 1857

Run on the Seamen’s Savings’ Bank during the Panic of 1857.
On October 13, 1857, after the Ohio Life & Trust Co. declared bankruptcy, panic struck the New York Stock Exchange and hundreds of other banks and individual investors were ruined. This wood engraving from Harper’s Weekly, shows a crowd gesturing and shoving. A ragpicker picks up now-worthless stock certificates, and a pickpocket operates unnoticed to the right,

Less than fun are the pickpockets who either wait for us to be distracted, or cause a distraction themselves so that they can lift our wallets. What if the actual people who are “picking our pockets” socially, economically, politically, etc., are cleverly pointing at those who oppose them (for example, those today who think like the 18th century liberators) saying “Look out, it’s the Illuminati! They want to rob you!” It’s the mis-direction of the Turn. And of course, in a world where egalitarianism has descended to common mediocrity,* who would like illumined people, anyway? The film Idiocracy portrays the results hilariously! Just a theory…..

*(During the debate over the–unsuccessful–nomination of G. Harold Carswell to the US Supreme Court in 1970, one of his defenders, U.S. Senator Roman Hruska, (R-NE), argued for Carswell, who had been called mediocre: “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.”

I don’t think Judge Carswell appreciated that very much.)

New World Order

Maya Calendar section

Maya Long Count date

…And now, the $64,000 question! It’s 2012 and we are told that either the Mayan Apocalypse or the New World Order is upon us. I was recently in Quintana Roo, México’s newest State, and can vouch for the fact that the Maya are not expecting the world to end when their calendar restarts on December 21, 2012. Miss Richfield’s comedy routine “We’ll all be dead by Christmas!” is very funny, though!

But what about the New World Order? That sounds scary. The truth is, it’s not so new.

The term New World Order is a (not too accurate) paraphrase of the Latin Novus Ordo Seclorum, on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States. It is inspired by a passage in the Roman poet Virgil (Vergil)’s Fourth Eclogue:

Publius Vergilius Maro

Publius Vergilius Maro

Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis aetas;
magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.
Iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna;
iam nova progenies, caelo demittitur alto.
Tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum
desinet, ac toto surget gens aurea mundo,
casta fave Lucina; tuus iam regnat Apollo.

I will cite the translation by no-less than the incredible Philip K. Dick, who uses this passage in his short story, “The Eye of the Sibyl.”

At last the Final Time announced by the Sibyl will arrive:
The procession of ages turns to its origin.
The Virgin returns and Saturn reigns as before;
A new race from heaven on high descends.
Goddess of Birth, smile on the new-born baby,
In whose time the Iron Prison will fall to ruin
And a golden race arises everywhere. Apollo, the rightful king, is restored!

Saeclorum nascitur ordo means, “the order of the ages is born.” Saeclum is a poetic form of the word, which is sometimes also seen as seclum, seculum, and in classical Latin, saeculum. A saeclum is “an age, a time span, a century, a generation, and a race of humans.”  It’s where we get “secular.” In Ecclesiastic Latin, the word is best known as the end of the doxology: in saecula saeculorum:

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

“Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, also now, and always, and to ages of ages. Amen.”

Hieromonk Mark Ciccone, S.J. at Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, San Francisco

Hieromonk Mark Ciccone, S.J. at Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, San Francisco

This is a rendering of the Greek:

Δόξα Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ καὶ Ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι,
καὶ νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.

“Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Both now and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

Both the texts of the Latin and the Greek appear to have originated in the Syriac version:

Shouha tababa, W-brona, W-ruha dqudsha,
min’alam w’adamma L-’alam, Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
from everlasting and for ever and ever.

In all of these, the “age” is not just a time period. In Greek, αἰών, like saeculum, has the same range of meanings. In addition, in the Gnostic movement paralleling Judaism and Christianity, it had the sense of a great spiritual entity emanated from the Divine.

So what does Virgil mean? He is speaking of the Greek understanding of the cycles of the ages, which begin with the Golden Age, when humanity is in communion with the Divine, and eventually descend to the Iron Age, where humanity’s basest behaviors beset the world with troubles, and then a change takes place and the Golden Age returns.

Aquarius by Bode

Aquarius by Bode

Compare this with two similar systems, the Mythic interpretation of the Precession of the Equinoxes (“This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius!”) and the Hindu system of the Yugas, in which we are currently said to be in the Kali Yuga of the Kali Yuga (the very last stage before the collapse of everything and the return to the Golden Age, the Satya Yuga (सत्य युग), or Krita Yuga). There is some evidence that this is in the same ballpark as what the Maya are talking about, a new beginning.

While Christians saw Virgil’s passage as Christological, others have kept the original meaning as the return of the Golden Age. It was made part of the Great Seal of the United States by the Secretary of the Continental Congress, Charles Thompson, who had previously taught Latin. He also used another paraphrase from Virgil: Annuit Coeptis:

By Ipankonin (Vectorized from) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, version by Ipankonin/Wikimedia Commons

Jupiter omnipotens, audacibus annue cœptis,
JupiterAlmighty, favor [my] bold undertakings” (Aeneid 9.625).

Taken together, the two Latin phrases on the reverse of the Great Seal mean:

“He (God) has approved of our beginnings/undertakings.”
“The New Order of the Ages.”

Our beginning/undertaking is the establishment of the New Order of the Ages. This New (World) Order is nothing less than the Freedoms and Democracy enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and in the Constitutions of free nations everywhere. We are the New World Order, and this is really a return to the way things are supposed to be. Tyrannies are part of the Iron Age.

It’s not the “New World Order.” It’s the “New World” Order, the way the New World has led the world in liberation (or tries to).

As the various Independence Days of the world’s free nations roll around this year, we can celebrate over 200 years of this New Order of the Ages which we are privileged to be part of!

— Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, and Consultant

Cinco de Mayo and All That!

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Cinco de Mayo and All That

In addition to working with languages, I also do a fair bit of historical work. This weekend, therefore, we’ll have something a little different, with language notes sprinkled throughout. 

This weekend people in the United States and in the Mexican State of Puebla celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which most non-Mexican-Americans presume to be “Mexican Independence Day,” the equivalent of the 4th of July.

May 5, 1862 and the siege of Puebla Creator: Frias, Heriberto, 1870-1925 Contributors: Posada, Jose Guadalupe, 1852-1913 (illustrator); Maucci Hermanos, Mexico (publisher) Date: 1901 Part Of: Biblioteca del nino mexicano

Cinco de Mayo poster

That’s a nice and neighborly thought, and a great occasion for wonderful food and responsible use of refreshments. It’s a good money-maker for Mexican Restaurants too.

Only…it’s not their 4th of July, Canada Day (July 1) or Bastille Day (July 14), exactly; that is el 16 de septiembre (el dieciséis de septiembre). Virtually every city in México has a Calle/Avenida 16 de septiembre (Street/Avenue).

What’s this all about?

Most Americans think of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock when they contemplate the beginning of the United States. Those of us of Hispanic, particularly Mexican, background, and especially from the Southwest, California and Florida, remember that in 1621 when the ship landed at Plymouth Rock, we had been here for a hundred years, and waved “welcome” to them (metaphorically).

I am Irish and Hispanic…in México, my name is written as Steven Armstrong Escontrias. That side of my family comes from El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, where they have been since the 1500s. Recently, in the Yucatán, I heard someone say (I can’t remember the exact Spanish), in regard to having two last names, “You have a Mother too!” Can anyone supply the idiom in Spanish? I know how to say that generally, but I believe there is a specific phrase.

Interestingly, the metropolitan area of El Paso–Juárez is second only to San Diego–Tijuana as the largest binational metropolitan region between our two nations. Of course, in México the names for these are Tijuana–San Diego and Juárez-El Paso, but the telling thing is that all four city names are in Spanish! We really are all family.

Cinco de Mayo

The Battle of Puebla

The Battle of Puebla

The celebration on the 5th of May commemorates the Mexican Army’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862, under General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

México was suffering greatly in the 1860s after the Mexican-American War (following on the Annexation of Texas/Tejas), a Civil War and a War of Reform. President Benito Juárez declared a two year moratorium on repaying foreign debt to stabilize the economy. France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces, but the British and Spanish negotiated and left. Not so the forces of Napoleon III, who invaded. It isn’t entirely clear, but their motivation seemed to have several angles.

France needed cotton, and the Confederacy had supplied them with a lot, hoping for their support. Naturally, territorial expansion is a goal in itself, and finally, quashing anti-colonial revolutions had been in favor since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. To recover México for the crowned heads of Europe and destabilize the United States, whose Revolution started a trend, was a double bonus!

The French Empire in México was headed by the infamous Maximillian and Carlotta, Emperor and Empress. There was support for this French Occupation, particularly from wealthy Roman Catholics, who despised the Masonic President Juárez, as he did not favor them.

At Puebla on May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French, much to the surprise of both, since the Mexican forces were half the size of the French. Although the French later succeeded in capturing the country, Puebla provided a rallying point for the nationalists. When the US Civil War was over in 1865, the U.S. began helping the Mexican resistance, and by 1867, México was free again, and Maximillian and some of his Generals were executed.

Therefore, it is quite appropriate for the US (and Puebla) to celebrate our shared heritage, and Hispanic Culture, as this symbolizes the return of friendship between the two Federal Republics. So celebrate…responsibly!

So What does el 16 de septiembre Commemorate?

Statue of Hidalgo in front of the Cathedral of Dolores. Photo by Paige Morrison/Wikimedia Commons.

Statue of Hidalgo in front of the Cathedral of Dolores. Photo by Paige Morrison/Wikimedia Commons.

The real Mexican Independence Day commemorates the Grito de Dolores (“Cry of Dolores/Sorrows”) or El Grito de la Independencia (“Cry of Independence”), in Dolores, near Guanajuato on September 16, 1810 by the Roman Catholic Priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. The version of the proclamation (as used today–it cannot be his actual words) is:

¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!
¡Víva Hidalgo!
¡Viva Morelos!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
¡Viva Allende!
¡Viva Aldama!
¡Viva la independencia nacional!
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live National Independence!
Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!

¡Gracias, Wikipedia!

(I have always thought that the Spanish custom of putting the reversed exclamation point and question mark in front of the sentence is one of the most practical and reasonable punctuation devices in the world!)

This was the catalyst for the Mexican War of Independence from Spain, which began four days later at The Battle of Guanajuato. Ten years of war finally resulted in the Mexican Declaration of Independence.

This September, tip your hat southwards and pause a moment for the real Mexican Independence Day, and the wave of Independence that it was a part of! (We’ll talk about that wave, next!)

— Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant