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Lion in Winter Poster“Of course he’s got a knife. He always has a knife. We ALL have knives. It’s 1183 and we’re barbarians!”
        – Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lion in Winter

“I could have conquered Europe, but I had women in my life.”
        – Henry II, the Lion in Winter

My wife shakes her head, but this is still one of my favorite movies.

The sets, the costumes, the atmosphere are all 1183. My favorite cultural detail – Henry, first thing in the morning, in his bedroom, breaks the ICE on the bucket of water in order to wash his face. Instant reality check for those who think life in a medieval castle was glamorous or luxurious.

Watched it again today, with several of the daughters. Film note: Includes the film debuts of both Timothy Dalton (King Philip of France) and Anthony Hopkins (Richard the Lion-Hearted). Also of note, when the film was shot in 1968, Katherine Hepburn was 61 years old, the exact age of Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1183. Peter O’Toole was only 36 at the time, but does a good job of playing Henry II as if he were 50. Hepburn won the Oscar for best actress for her performance. O’Toole was nominated for best actor for his.

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center

Pope BenedictPope Benedict gave a short, interesting, and profound speech on Friday. Of course, you won’t read about it in any of the mainstream media. Or if you do, it will be framed in a way that obscures and distorts its meaning. He was speaking to a meeting of the Centrist Democrat International, an international alliance of political parties devoted to promoting the idea of Christian Democracy. The member parties are drawn primarily from Europe and Latin America.

He called on the delgates to “prevent the dissemination and entrenchment of ideologies which obscure and confuse consciences by promoting an illusory vision of truth and goodness.”

And what are some of the illusions?

  • Financial gain as the only good;
  • it is legitimate to destroy life in its earliest or final states;
  • the fundamental nucleus of society is [not] the indissoluble bond of marriage between a man and a woman.

The Pope said those are ILLUSIONS. And called upon Christian politicians to oppose them. I think the Pope is fundamentally correct when he asserts that these are not just Roman Catholic positions on the most important issues of the day – they are the Christian, biblical positions.

The Pope went on to defend the idea of religious liberty — for ALL religions. He said “religious freedom is a fundamental expression of respect for human reason and its capacity to know truth.”

And then he threw down the gauntlet to the Islamic world: “The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice.”

Because the mainstream media are so clueless on a)all matters of religion;  and b)anything having to do with the Pope, I would urge you to read the Pope’s speech for yourself. In fact, because the media do such terrible filtering and distorting, I’d urge you to read speeches by any political figure for yourself — but especially those by the Pope and by President Bush. Here’s a .pdf of the Pope’s speech taken from the Vatican website. Highlights are mine.

hat tip to the blog, Atlas Shrugs, where I ran across a reference to the speech.

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center

Now THIS is funny…

hat tip to the folks at HotAir.

-Rob Shearer

VietNam Protest  Iraq Protest

Yesterday’s “Best of the Web” column at OpinionJournal.com had this brilliant insight:

Reader Kim Sommer has an excellent insight prompted by our video yesterday (Hippie History Buffs) on the phony “antiwar” movement:

I have a friend. Several times a year he goes out and dresses in funny clothes and participates with other like-minded people who believe in the the things he believes. And they act on their beliefs. And talk about them. And get younger folks involved, who will carry on their traditions.

They are Civil War re-enactors. These peace protesters are just peace protest re-enactors if you think about it.

I’d carry this analogy further. Not only are the current anti-war protestors re-enacting the peace protests from the 1960s (complete with an attempt to dress in authentic costumes), but the entire Democrat Party is trying to re-enact the 1960s.

Hippie re-enactors. Cute. Amusing. But not to be taken seriously.

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center

mosierHow Hitler and the Allies Misread the Strategic Realities of World War II

by John Mosier

In the 1920s two new theories of warfare / strategy were postulated: blitzkrieg and airpower. The two theories shared a fascination with inventive technology, surprise,  and the concept of a breakthrough to the opponent’s rear area. The theories were used to explain how World War One was fought and why one side was successful and the other was not. After World War Two, military historians applied the two theories and used them to account for the initial sucesses of Germany and Japan, and for the eventual victories of the USA, Great Britian and the USSR.

The problem, according to Mosier,  is that historians were systematically reworking the facts to fit the theories. The preoccupation with the theories of blitzkrieg and airpower led the allies to misunderstand the reasons for the German victories over Poland and France. In turn the allies made plans consistent with the theories that led to disasters like the Market Garden airborne assault into Holland in 1944.

Mosier is a contrarian. He maintains (and supports his analysis with an impressive marshalling of facts and military records) that in both world wars, the victors won the old-fashioned way – by bringing larger numbers of troops to bear on the enemy and destroying the enemies military forces. Blitzkrieg and airpower per se had nothing to do with it.

Mosier is an good writer and makes a clear and convincing case for his thesis. This book will force you to rethink much of the conventional wisdom about World War Two… and also about how wars are fought in general.

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center

stokesburyby James L. Stokesbury

This is not a new book. But it IS a classic. First published in 1981, it is still in print and has yet to be superseded.

The back-jacket blurb describes the writing as “highly readable and lively.” I’ll be more blunt. Stokesbury is an opinionated writer, and can be both witty and entertaining – not least when he is dismissing some bit of common wisdom which is actually wrong – urban legends of WW1.  An example:

“The earliest submarines were far more dangerous to their own crews than to anone else, but by 1914, they had become usable weapons. The chief problem was that no one knew exactly what to do with them.”

or this bit on the Third Battle of Artois:

“All through October the men in field gray and in the new French uniforms of the famous “horizon blue” grappled with one another, and when they finally fell back exhausted it was as it had been before. The Germans still held the ridge, and it was just that much more thickly strewn with bodies.”

The book has much that will be familiar to even those with a casual acquaintance of World War 1:

  • The startling German offensive that started the war and the frantic transportantion of French reserve forces to the battle of the Marne in a fleet of comandeered Parisian taxis
  • The ill-fated “second front” planned by Churchill and fought by the Anzac troops in the Dardanelles
  • The appalling battles of attrition fought at Verdun and on the Somme

Just as interesting, and of much significance for those who want to understand the later course of events in the 20th century are chapters on the Collapse of Russia, the United States Entry into the War, and Imperial Wars and Colonial Campaigns.

Through it all, Professor Stokesbury has a knack for summarizing and conveying both the essential details as well as what they mean and why they’re important. I highly recommend this as a resource for anyone who wants an understanding of WW1 that goes beyond just a few chapters in a survey textbook.

- Rob Shearer
   Director, Schaeffer Study Center

Marine and kids in Ramadi

THIS posting by Michael Totten is the kind of reporting that got done during WW2 by the best of the reporters. Totten is on his own and has been in Iraq for a long time.

The story of Anbar Province and Ramadi is one of the great success stories of the surge. Hence, there’s an almost total blackout in the mainstream media.

Lots of pictures – and real stories about what’s going on in one province in Iraq.

THIS is why we’re there. THIS has to scare the right-wing Islamists to death. THIS, if it is sustained and spreads will change the course of history in the middle east.

And if we abandon these people now and let them be slaughtered, God help us!

-Rob Shearer

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