Satanic Feminism, France’s Catholic Disneyland, and the Real Lord Liverpool
A few items from the Religion desk to kick things off this morning: First, Jeffrey Alan Miller talks to David Skinner about discovering “the earliest known draft of any part of the King James Bible” and what it means for how we understand the King James translation: “It was once common to suggest that crafting a “beautiful” or “literary” translation of the Bible had been one of the principal goals of the King James translators. More recently, scholars have pushed back against that idea, revealing the translators to have been animated far more by scholarly and theological considerations. Ward’s draft, however, helps illustrate that it may be possible to correct too far in that direction. Various decisions Ward made as a translator seem to have been arrived at for what appear to be stylistic reasons, at least in part and in certain moments above all.”
And then this: “The connections of early feminism with secular ideologies such as liberalism and socialism are well known.” But Satanism? “Dr. Per Faxneld obtained a PhD in History of Religions at Stockholm University in 2014. He is a professor at Stockholm University, was a visiting professor at Cambridge University in 2014 . . . Satanic Feminism is based on Faxneld’s doctoral dissertation, which was awarded the Donner Institute Prize for Eminent Research on Religion. It discusses how prominent feminists—primarily between 1880 and 1930—used Satan as a symbol of their rejection of the so-called ‘patriarchal traits of Christianity’. It shows that these women were inspired by the period’s most influential new religion, Theosophy, and how the anti-Christian discourses of radical secularism affected feminism. Satanic Feminism sheds a new light on the early feminist movement. It discusses neglected or unknown aspects of the intellectual connections of early feminism with Satanism in a way that nobody before Faxneld has dared to do.”
In other news: Netflix has published a list of its most-watched movies and TV shows. Benjamin Lee writes about what it means: “The list of most-watched films, from Bird Box down to Fyre (20 million viewers), sees a gap of 60 million viewers, meaning that while some films hit big, a great many lag far, far behind. This doesn’t make them flops per se, but it does mean that genuine phenomenons are hard to find. The list also shows that although Netflix has put a great deal of funding into both its awards push and its splashy partnerships with respected auteurs, audiences are less invested in the outcome than the company is. The most conspicuous absence is Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, the platform’s most critically acclaimed and awarded film to date.”
April White writes about Andrew Carroll’s effort to save millions of American letters written during wartime: “Andrew Carroll is never far away from the slim black portfolio he calls ‘the football.’ Inside are more than two dozen original letters, creased and faded, bullet-torn and tear-stained, spanning 225 years of American war history, from the early days of the Revolution to 9/11. Each page is sheathed in a protective plastic sleeve, and for added security, there are the handcuffs. Carroll locks the case to his wrist when he travels, which he does almost constantly. By his own count, he was on the road almost 200 days last year, using this remarkable sampling of letters to convince anyone who will listen how important—and ephemeral—such documents are. It’s all part of the historian’s ambitious effort to rescue these eyewitness accounts from attics, basements, garage sales and trash bins.”
Recovering the real Lord Liverpool: “Lord Liverpool was an ‘Arch Mediocrity who presided rather than ruled over this Cabinet of Mediocrities,’ Benjamin Disraeli jibed in 1844. Still a young novelist and a frustrated Tory backbencher, Disraeli thus disparaged Robert Banks Jenkinson, second earl of Liverpool (1770–1828), who led Tory ministries from 1812 until his sudden death in 1828. Only Robert Walpole and William Pitt the Younger served longer than Liverpool as prime minister, and no one since has matched his longevity in office. Yet Disraeli’s caustic judgment, as William Anthony Hay shows in this impressive book, not only went ‘substantially unchallenged’ in his own day but quickly cemented itself into conventional wisdom.”
Essay of the Day:
In Standpoint, John Laurenson writes about France’s “Catholic Disneyland”—Puy du Fou:
“The year is 2019 AD. Gaul is entirely occupied by liberals, Europhiles, historical repenters, anti-Christians and “citizens of the World”. Well, not entirely . . . One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders.
“The Puy du Fou in the Vendée region of western France is, according to Tripadvisor, the world’s best theme park. It is certainly popular. It had 2.3 million visitors last year. It has won numerous prizes for its huge shows, featuring hundreds of costumed actors who recount the history of France through the prism of local history.
“‘The Sign of Triumph’, for example, plays every couple of hours to 6,000 people in a stone-built replica of a Gallo-Roman colosseum. The sign in question is the fish, the emblem of early Christianity, defiantly traced in the sand by a Gaul named Damien, a Roman centurion who has converted to Christianity.
“The Roman governor addresses the crowd (which is encouraged to boo him) as ‘citizens of the Roman Empire, citizens of the World’, and tells them that ‘Gaul exists no more’. Damien’s having none of it. But if he doesn’t win the chariot race he will be put to death.
“A race ensues with four chariots, each pulled by four horses; Damien wins but the governor goes back on his word. Now the upstart must fight for his life while the beautiful Gallic Christian maiden he loves is tied to a post with (real) lions released into the arena to eat her. The spectacle ends with a Gallic, Christian overthrow of the governor and a general, enthusiastic embracing of the faith.”
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‘It’s true, it’s patriotic,’ says Rozenn de Boisfossé, paying her second visit to the park, along with her husband and four children. ‘We’re crying out to love our country nowadays. France has had its ups and downs—no one is perfect!—but here at least they show the beautiful side of our country.’
“And not only that: Philippe de Villiers, a high-profile Catholic politician, created the Puy du Fou in 1989, 200 years after the French Revolution, in part as revenge.”
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