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Choisya
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Re: Thomas More's UTOPIA and Robert Bolt's A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

You seem not to realise that More is a Catholic Martyr, much revered by Catholics and canonised by them because they saw/see his act as defending their faith. He was 'The King's Good Servant but God's First' - not the Pope's. If books here spoke badly of him (particularly those used in schools) it could upset the catholic minority with whom we have had many problems over the centuries (Ireland!). Protestants like yourself may see it as an act of treason, catholics don't - they see it as an act of martyrdom. You are entitled to take a WASP approach but that is not one that British historians or governments have been able to take with regard to this issue for many a long year. It is a situation similar to the one we are finding with Muslims now - denigrate people they revere and they will violently demonstrate against you.

In the UK today, especially in Northern Ireland, there are still a sizeable minority of Catholics willing to take issue with the government about various things and that sizeable majority still believe in the Stuart claim to the throne, support Mary Queen of Scots, venerate Sir Thomas More and Queen Mary I and put the Pope before the crown etc etc. Governments and people in the UK have to take these facts into consideration when dealing with these matters. Americans do not.

I happen to believe that Henry VIII was our greatest monarch because he separated England from the dominance of the Vatican and that we owe our subsequent supremacy in world affairs to his decision to create a Church of England, whether his reasons were personal or not. To that extent I have no sympathy with Sir Thomas More or other recusants but I do realise that, because of the continuing dominance of the Catholic religion in Europe, English governments have to be careful how they tread in any matter involving catholics - including Sir Thomas More.

(A small example of the discretion needed: My Penguin edition of Utopia contains an apology by the editor for not using the title 'Sir' throughout the Notes and acknowledges that this 'may offend some Catholics' but says that he did so for brevity not through 'any disrespect'. Treading on eggshells!)

Apart from More's 'hatchet job' on Richard III, one of many, what other objections do you have to his scholarship or to his book Utopia, which contains a lot of coded criticism of the oppression he lived under. (Did you find any Tudor historians supporting Richard III?)





Everyman wrote:
So more was "unreliable," eh? That's hardly a pejorative word showing prejudice against him because he was Catholic. (Are you willing to say that Blair and Bush were merely "unreliable" about the reasons for going to war in Iraq? I thought not.)

History has treated him kindly; much more kindly, IMO, than he deserves. But then, historians always have a soft spot for humanists and self-martyrs.

His problem wasn't because he was Catholic, but because he refused to promise absolute fidelity to Henry and refused to obey the law. The Pope at that time wasn't merely a religious figure but was a powerful political figure, head of state, and foe of England. The law required More to swear allegiance to the King of England above all other kings, including the Pope. When he refused, he placed allegiance to a foreign state above allegiance to his own country, which was not only against the law but was an act of treason, which even today is a basis for the death penalty.

Many Catholics took the oath without a problem. They were willing to recognize the King as supreme political leader and the Pope as their spiritual leader, and weren't persecuted for that. The point being that it wasn't his Catholicism that got him killed but his treason.


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Choisya
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Re: Thomas More

LizzieAnn wrote:
But the oath that More refused to take wasn't just an oath of fidelity to a king, it was also one recognizing the King as supreme head of the church in England - negating the power and status of the pope. Catholics believe that the pope is the head of the church - the entire church, not just the church in Rome.Therefore, this oath would go against More's personal religious beliefs.


Exactly Lizzie Ann, which is why he is a Catholic Martyr - as he said, he was 'The King's Loyal Servant, but God's First.' To Catholics the Pope represents God and is not just a head of the catholic church or of the independent state of the Vatican City. Catholics believe that he is the successor to St Peter and the Vicar of Christ. So swearing allegiance to Henry would have been negating allegiance to God and Christ.





LizzieAnn wrote:
But the oath that More refused to take wasn't just an oath of fidelity to a king, it was also one recognizing the King as supreme head of the church in England - negating the power and status of the pope. Catholics believe that the pope is the head of the church - the entire church, not just the church in Rome. Therefore, this oath would go against More's personal religious beliefs.

Yes, he could have taken the oath as many others did. But he must have been a man of strong convictions to take the stand he did. Many were executed for the very same beliefs and convictions. It's Henry who tied up religion with state - binding them together that to disagree with the religious aspect made one guilty of treason against their country.

The Catholics who took the oath did not recognize the Pope as their spiritual leader, but Henry. That was the whole point of the oath - not just to swear loyalty to their king. That would have been done when Henry came to the throne. A new king would receive oaths of fealty upon his ascension. Henry wanted them to recognize him as head of the church and not the pope, who had refused to grant his annulment from Katherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn.



Everyman wrote:
So more was "unreliable," eh? That's hardly a pejorative word showing prejudice against him because he was Catholic. (Are you willing to say that Blair and Bush were merely "unreliable" about the reasons for going to war in Iraq? I thought not.)

History has treated him kindly; much more kindly, IMO, than he deserves. But then, historians always have a soft spot for humanists and self-martyrs.

His problem wasn't because he was Catholic, but because he refused to promise absolute fidelity to Henry and refused to obey the law. The Pope at that time wasn't merely a religious figure but was a powerful political figure, head of state, and foe of England. The law required More to swear allegiance to the King of England above all other kings, including the Pope. When he refused, he placed allegiance to a foreign state above allegiance to his own country, which was not only against the law but was an act of treason, which even today is a basis for the death penalty.

Many Catholics took the oath without a problem. They were willing to recognize the King as supreme political leader and the Pope as their spiritual leader, and weren't persecuted for that. The point being that it wasn't his Catholicism that got him killed but his treason.





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Choisya
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Re: (Off topic) Thomas More

This is a Protestant interpretation Everyman, not a Catholic one. You will find that Catholics argue quite differently, including Catholic lawyers. The contemporaneus report you cite was written by a Tudor supporter, not a catholic recusant. All the trials and reports of them during that period were subject to Tudor and Protestant bias. It is a pity we do not have a catholic here to argue More's case. Rosie would have been able to offer that insight, had she been here, I am sure. It is a topic still hotly debated in UK religioius circles but you seem unaware of the other side's arguments.




Everyman wrote:


LizzieAnn wrote:
But the oath that More refused to take wasn't just an oath of fidelity to a king, it was also one recognizing the King as supreme head of the church in England - negating the power and status of the pope.

The Act of Supremacy, which I've quoted below, required an oath of allegiance to the King as the head of the Church of England, called Anglicana Ecclesia. One could still take an oath accepting Henry as the head of that church while still maintaining that the Pope was the head of the true Catholic faith. Any lawyer who wanted to could easily parse this language

But we must keep in mind that More was NOT executed for his refusal to take the oath. He had sealed his fate earlier when he retired from his position as Lord Chancellor rather than approve the marriage of Henry to Anne Boleyn and refused the invitation to attend the wedding (even today, one does NOT refuse personal invitations from the Crown to attend official functions without expecting significant repercussions. It just, as the British say, isn't done).

But at his trial, his conviction was not for refusing to take the oath; rather, it was because of his alleged confession (almost certainly perjured, but never as far as I know actually prove to be perjured) that he could not declare the king supreme because that would abrogate Parliament's right to depose a ruler. A jury (probably hand picked, but still a British jury) found this to be treason.

Here is a report that appears to be contemporaneous, or close to contemporaneous, of the trial. I haven't verified its accuracy against the source it is reportedly from, but it has the look and feel of reports of trials from the period that I have read in the past.
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/more/moretrialreport.html

So while the common belief is that he was executed for refusing to take the oath, and that was one of the motivations for his trial (though basically he had sealed his fate some time earlier by insulting Henry by refusing to attend the wedding), the fact is that he was not convicted of refusing to take the oath, but of treason for allegedly asserting the right of Parliament to depose a king.

The Act of Supremacy, 1534
Albeit the King's Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognized by the clergy of this realm in their Convocations, yet nevertheless for corroboration and confirmation thereof, and for increase of virtue in Christ's religion within this realm of England, and to repress and extirp all errors, heresies and other enormities and abuses heretofore used in the same:
Be it enacted by authority of this present Parliament that the King, our sovereign lord, his heirs and successors, kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted and reputed the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England, called Anglicana Ecclesia; and shall have and enjoy, annexed and united to the imperial crown of this realm, as well the title and style thereof, as all honors, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities to the said dignity of supreme head of the same Church belonging and appertaining; and that our said sovereign lord, his heirs and successors, kings of this realm, shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, reform, order, correct, restrain and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts and enormities, whatsoever they be, which by any manner, spiritual authority or jurisdiction ought or may lawfully be reformed, repressed, ordered, redressed, corrected, restrained or amended, most to the pleasure of Almighty God, the increase of virtue in Christ's religion, and for the conservation of the peace, unity and tranquillity of this realm, any usage, custom, foreign law, foreign authority, prescription or any other thing or things to the contrary hereof notwithstanding.


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Discussion of A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

Thanks, Laurel and Choisya! Since there seems to be a great deal of interest here in More's life, would you also like to discuss Robert Bolt's play beforehand, from March 14 through March 18?


Choisya wrote:
I have just written 'Utopia starts' on my calendar! I wish:smileysurprised::smileysurprised::smileysurprised:

Laurel wrote:
That looks like a good schedule, Pmath. Thanks for working it up!
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Point of View re: Thomas More

[ Edited ]
Thank you, Choisya, for stressing the importance of viewpoints here. This is a sensitive topic, and we have no idea what the backgrounds of some of our participants are, since not all members are willing to share personal information, so I suggest everyone make a conscious effort to be respectful, of both the author and the views of others, during our upcoming discussion. We want everyone to feel welcome!

Message Edited by pmath on 02-27-200710:14 AM

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(Off topic) Thomas More

You make a good point about interpretation - it can be different according to the individual. From what I remember from history classes, books I've read, and things I've seen, Henry appointing himself as Head of the Church of England would give him the power and perogatives held by the pope - appointing bishops & cardinals, sees, granting divorces, annulments, and dispensations, etc. I don't believe accepting both was a possiblity - at least not openly. Therefore, the people had to make a choice - either belong to the King's faith or to the Pope's faith. There's a saying that no man can have or no man can serve two masters, or something like that. I think that's the case here; because the oath combined state and religion - they couldn't chose both England and Rome.



Choisya wrote:
This is a Protestant interpretation Everyman, not a Catholic one. You will find that Catholics argue quite differently, including Catholic lawyers. The contemporaneus report you cite was written by a Tudor supporter, not a catholic recusant. All the trials and reports of them during that period were subject to Tudor and Protestant bias. It is a pity we do not have a catholic here to argue More's case. Rosie would have been able to offer that insight, had she been here, I am sure. It is a topic still hotly debated in UK religioius circles but you seem unaware of the other side's arguments.



Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Everyman
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Re: Thomas More's UTOPIA and Robert Bolt's A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS



Choisya wrote:
You seem not to realise that More is a Catholic Martyr, much revered by Catholics and canonised by them because they saw/see his act as defending their faith.

I am perfectly well aware of that. But it played no part in Henry's ire at More's refusal to attend his wedding, and was not, as far as I am aware, even brought up in his trial. It may have been in the background, but the way Catholics today see him is irrelevant to the way he was treated at the time.
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Everyman
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Re: (Off topic) Thomas More



Choisya wrote:
you seem unaware of the other side's arguments.

I am well aware of their arguments, your ad hominem attack notwithstanding.

You seem unaware that being aware of arguments doesn't mean one has to agree with them.

You are free if you choose to see More as a hero, wonderful guy, great Catholic, martyr for his faith, and all that. I appreciate how much you revere a man for his religious convictions.

I am free if I choose to see More as a dishonest author and convicted traitor, both of which he unquestionably was, and a man who chose to walk a knife's edge and fell off.

That we emphasize different aspects of his life doesn't mean that either one of us is acting in bad faith or ignoring opposing arguments.
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Re: (Off topic) Thomas More



Choisya wrote:
This is a Protestant interpretation Everyman, not a Catholic one.

It is neither. It is a legal interpretation.
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Laurel
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Re: (Off topic) Thomas More



Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
you seem unaware of the other side's arguments.

I am well aware of their arguments, your ad hominem attack notwithstanding.

You seem unaware that being aware of arguments doesn't mean one has to agree with them.

You are free if you choose to see More as a hero, wonderful guy, great Catholic, martyr for his faith, and all that. I appreciate how much you revere a man for his religious convictions.

I am free if I choose to see More as a dishonest author and convicted traitor, both of which he unquestionably was, and a man who chose to walk a knife's edge and fell off.

That we emphasize different aspects of his life doesn't mean that either one of us is acting in bad faith or ignoring opposing arguments.




YAWN!
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E_Darcy
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Re: For E_Darcy: The Common Man



pmath wrote:
Ah, so you missed the Common Man! He's in the 1988 adaptation, which is closer to the original play, which you may wish to read, too:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?bnrefer=BRITISHCLASSICS&EAN=978067972822...


E_Darcy wrote:
I believe, it was the 1966

pmath wrote:
E, was it the 1966 or the 1988 adaptation? This is featured today on the bn.com homepage:

http://video.barnesandnoble.com/search/product.asp?bnrefer=BRITISHCLASSICS&EAN=0043396180857

E_Darcy wrote:
A Man For All Seasons was playing on a TV station, today. The person I was visiting today was watching it when I walked in.
I thought that was pretty cool!



It seems I have.
Yes, thank you pmath, I think I will read that, too.--BTW which edition of Utopia are we discussing? I don't think I have the same as all of you?
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Edition of UTOPIA

By all means use the edition you have, E! We won't be using any particular one.


E_Darcy wrote:
It seems I have.
Yes, thank you pmath, I think I will read that, too.--BTW which edition of Utopia are we discussing? I don't think I have the same as all of you?

pmath wrote:
Ah, so you missed the Common Man! He's in the 1988 adaptation, which is closer to the original play, which you may wish to read, too:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?bnrefer=BRITISHCLASSICS&EAN=978067972822...


E_Darcy wrote:
I believe, it was the 1966

pmath wrote:
E, was it the 1966 or the 1988 adaptation? This is featured today on the bn.com homepage:

http://video.barnesandnoble.com/search/product.asp?bnrefer=BRITISHCLASSICS&EAN=0043396180857

E_Darcy wrote:
A Man For All Seasons was playing on a TV station, today. The person I was visiting today was watching it when I walked in.
I thought that was pretty cool!
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Choisya
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Re: Discussion of A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

I leave it up to you pmath - I'm not bothered either way:smileyhappy:




pmath wrote:
Thanks, Laurel and Choisya! Since there seems to be a great deal of interest here in More's life, would you also like to discuss Robert Bolt's play beforehand, from March 14 through March 18?


Choisya wrote:
I have just written 'Utopia starts' on my calendar! I wish:smileysurprised::smileysurprised::smileysurprised:

Laurel wrote:
That looks like a good schedule, Pmath. Thanks for working it up!



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Choisya
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Re: Point of View re: Thomas More

I entirely agree pmath - it is very sensitive area and although I have tried to explain the Catholic position I do not feel qualified enough, as an atheist, to do so properly, To be honest, I do not think this subject can be discussed adequately unless someone here is thoroughly acquainted with the Catholic arguments. Otherwise it will be very one-sided. It is one thing to denigrate the Tudors, but quite another to denigrate a Catholic Martyr IMO. It is, however, generally accepted that Thomas More was a superb scholar and that Utopia, the name of which he 'coined', was an extremely original piece of work which has influenced similar writings down the ages.



pmath wrote:
Thank you, Choisya, for stressing the importance of viewpoints here. This is a sensitive topic, and we have no idea what the backgrounds of some of our participants are, since not all members are willing to share personal information, so I suggest everyone make a conscious effort to be respectful, of both the author and the views of others, during our upcoming discussion. We want everyone to feel welcome!

Message Edited by pmath on 02-27-200710:14 AM




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Choisya
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Re: (Off topic) Thomas More

Henry appointing himself as Head of the Church of England would give him the power and perogatives held by the pope - appointing bishops & cardinals, sees, granting divorces, annulments, and dispensations, etc.

Exactly LizzieAnn - he gave himself the powers of a Pope and those powers still reside in our monarch today via the Archbishop of Canterbury. One of the arguments in the Northern Ireland question today, from the Protestant point of view, is that if Northern Ireland became a Republic (as the IRA wished it to do), Irish Catholics would give their allegiance to the Pope and would force Protestants to do the same. Irish Protestants, particularly the Rev Ian Paisley, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party frequently refers to Irish Catholics as 'Papists' and opines that they are more loyal to the Pope than the Crown. It is a very very fraught subject and I think, to be honest, it is best not discussed here.:smileysad: Suffice it to say that Sir Thomas More died for his faith, is considered a Catholic Martyr and was canonised. Therefore he is St Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers and statesmen. He shares his feast day, June 22nd, with St John Fisher, the only Bishop during the Reformation to have kept his allegiance to the Pope.



LizzieAnn wrote:
You make a good point about interpretation - it can be different according to the individual. From what I remember from history classes, books I've read, and things I've seen, Henry appointing himself as Head of the Church of England would give him the power and perogatives held by the pope - appointing bishops & cardinals, sees, granting divorces, annulments, and dispensations, etc. I don't believe accepting both was a possiblity - at least not openly. Therefore, the people had to make a choice - either belong to the King's faith or to the Pope's faith. There's a saying that no man can have or no man can serve two masters, or something like that. I think that's the case here; because the oath combined state and religion - they couldn't chose both England and Rome.



Choisya wrote:
This is a Protestant interpretation Everyman, not a Catholic one. You will find that Catholics argue quite differently, including Catholic lawyers. The contemporaneus report you cite was written by a Tudor supporter, not a catholic recusant. All the trials and reports of them during that period were subject to Tudor and Protestant bias. It is a pity we do not have a catholic here to argue More's case. Rosie would have been able to offer that insight, had she been here, I am sure. It is a topic still hotly debated in UK religioius circles but you seem unaware of the other side's arguments.






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Choisya
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Re: Thomas More's UTOPIA and Robert Bolt's A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

More was not executed because he refused to attend Henry's wedding and his trial was a Tudor trial, so nothing that would upset Henry further would have been brought up. It is not irrelevant because in defending his own faith, as he saw it, he was defending the faith of thousands of Catholic recusants at the time and it is because of that he is revered and was canonised. He wasn't revered and canonised because he refused to attend Henry's wedding!



Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
You seem not to realise that More is a Catholic Martyr, much revered by Catholics and canonised by them because they saw/see his act as defending their faith.

I am perfectly well aware of that. But it played no part in Henry's ire at More's refusal to attend his wedding, and was not, as far as I am aware, even brought up in his trial. It may have been in the background, but the way Catholics today see him is irrelevant to the way he was treated at the time.


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A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS: March 2007 Discussion Schedule

[ Edited ]
Friends, we plan to start discussing Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons on Wednesday, March 14, 2007, in anticipation of our discussion of Thomas More's Utopia. If you don't have a copy of the play, you can purchase it at bn.com, here.

Below are some suggested start dates: discussions can certainly continue beyond them, along with our discussion of Utopia!

March 14 (Wednesday): Act One
March 15 (Thursday): Act Two
March 16 (Friday): Preface and Wrap-Up
Here's a link to SparkNotes for AMfAS:

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/amanforallseasons/

Message Edited by pmath on 03-05-200702:46 PM

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(Off topic)

Is the Archbishop of Canterbury the highest position in the Church of England? Does the monarch still retain the title of Head of the Church of England?



Choisya wrote:

Exactly LizzieAnn - he gave himself the powers of a Pope and those powers still reside in our monarch today via the Archbishop of Canterbury. One of the arguments in the Northern Ireland question today, from the Protestant point of view, is that if Northern Ireland became a Republic (as the IRA wished it to do), Irish Catholics would give their allegiance to the Pope and would force Protestants to do the same. Irish Protestants, particularly the Rev Ian Paisley, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party frequently refers to Irish Catholics as 'Papists' and opines that they are more loyal to the Pope than the Crown. It is a very very fraught subject and I think, to be honest, it is best not discussed here.:smileysad: Suffice it to say that Sir Thomas More died for his faith, is considered a Catholic Martyr and was canonised. Therefore he is St Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers and statesmen. He shares his feast day, June 22nd, with St John Fisher, the only Bishop during the Reformation to have kept his allegiance to the Pope.


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Choisya
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Re: (Off topic) Thomas More

I apologise if you see it as an ad hominem attack but it wasn't meant to be. I do not see More as a hero, wonderful guy, great catholic martyr - how can I, as an atheist, do that? I have said that I support Henry VIII in his fight against catholic dominance and I can see that executing More, a very prominent and influential catholic, was a good Machiavellian thing to do, whatever the pretext given.

I do not think you are acting in bad faith but you do not seem to have acknowledged any of the arguments from a catholic point of view and appear to be taking an entirely one sided Protestant view. I am not even sure where your argument about him being 'dishonest' comes from. If his life of Richard III was, like many others, based on the Tudor writings and the Tudor prejudices of the time, he may have been honest in his view of Richard III because he knew no better. Just as, say, you once had a different but honest view of Richard III before you 'converted'. (Was Shakespeare being 'dishonest' when he wrote about Richard III?) If, for instance, I was in Russia during Stalin's day and had no access to what was really happening, I might believe what I read about Stalin being a kind, benevolent ruler and if I wrote a biography stating that, I would not be dishonest, just misinformed. I would therefore call More misinformed. What grounds do you have for calling him dishonest? Do you know that he had access to documents telling how Richard was a good guy and that he chose to disbelieve them?




Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
you seem unaware of the other side's arguments.

I am well aware of their arguments, your ad hominem attack notwithstanding.

You seem unaware that being aware of arguments doesn't mean one has to agree with them.

You are free if you choose to see More as a hero, wonderful guy, great Catholic, martyr for his faith, and all that. I appreciate how much you revere a man for his religious convictions.

I am free if I choose to see More as a dishonest author and convicted traitor, both of which he unquestionably was, and a man who chose to walk a knife's edge and fell off.

That we emphasize different aspects of his life doesn't mean that either one of us is acting in bad faith or ignoring opposing arguments.


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Choisya
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Re: (Off topic) Thomas More

A Catholic lawyer, pleading the Catholic cause for Sir Thomas More, would interpret it differently. There is no black and white here.




Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
This is a Protestant interpretation Everyman, not a Catholic one.

It is neither. It is a legal interpretation.


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