December 18, 2005

Smashing the Iconoclasts

Bill Luse offers a potent and marvelously argued rejoinder to a St. Thomas More naysayer. On the line "the man for all season" being a poetic liberty, written long before Thomas More was martyred, Bill writes:
O'Connell admits that "the poet's ecstasy is infinitely more valuable than fastidious chronology...and yet the poet's method in this instance has its difficulties." In other words, what the professor cedes with one hand he will take away with the other. For one who pays apparent homage more than once to the "poetic experience," he seems immune to the poet's almost biblical sense that things are revealed in the fullness of time, that the martyr of More's end is to be found in the seed of his beginning.
On the difference perspective makes:
O’Connell has read the same biography as I, and concedes in his notes that it remains the best extant (and, I predict, shall remain so). So we both read it and come away with two different men as its subject. I saw the film first, and upon picking up the book had expected that my admiration for Thomas would have to be brought down to earth somewhat. This did not happen. I know more about him – his family, his professional life, the breadth of his learning, the regard of his fellows both at home and abroad, the incredible consistency of his character, and most especially about the depth of his faith, one in which he fancied that the dead, as our fellow citizens in God’s polity, prance about and move among us daily, interceding for us, though invisible to the human eye, a faith by which even Erasmus seemed greatly edified: "He talks with his friends in such a way about the world to come that you can see that he is speaking from his heart, not without good hope." How fitting that More laid his head down not merely for his own soul’s sake, nor as a witness to those still living, but that the voice of the dead might still be heard among us.

No, I will not be of those who bring him down to earth, but rather one (as unlikely as it seems) who would rise to the level of another in whom the perfection of God’s grace ran its course. There are Christian scholars in abundance who will perform the former duty; may they find much joy in the endeavor.

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