A Fanciful History of Western Civilisation

This was posted on my original blog on the 22 Feb 2006. I still consider it to be the best thing I’ve ever written…

This history highlights the domino effect of Henry VIII’s disastrous policies. Personally, I blame H8 for most of history’s worst moments except The Fall and The Crucifixion (though they both had upsides) and even then, if I thought about it hard enough, I could probably blame him for that too.
Help poor H8 not to be the last one out of Purgatory (assuming he’s not… somewhere else) – say a prayer now.
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This history starts with one of two possibilities. Either H8:
a. is not born, or
b. is the first person to successfully receive a personality transplant.
So that,
1. The monastic lands in England were not seized in 1538 – 1541
2. Hence the Great Revolt (aka “the reformation”) does not happen, because the European rulers do not learn from Henry’s disastrous policy that it is possible to go round plundering the Church for loot
3. And therefore the English land remains in proper proportions between Crown, Lords and peasants, leading gradually to the ultimate realisation of a wide distribution of the Means of Production throughout the population, and finally recognised in law as Freehold Title for the vast majority of peasants.
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1550 Also due to options a or b above, the staunchly Catholic English population fail to become Anglicans. No-one is worried by this.
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1553 Queen Elizabeth I fails to govern England properly due to non-existence caused by either a or b above.
World Decidedly Better Off.
Spared the Ruff.
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Shakespeare continues business as usual (minus ruff).
Generation upon generation can recite all his sonnets – and understand them.
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Martin Luther sticks post-it note on door. Is instructed to “take a Bex and lie down.” No-one pays him much attention – it is merely “a quarrel of monks.” He sinks into obscurity after death, since Henry VIII has not given any ideas to continental princes re: Church loot.
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Calvin writes tome. Causes localised kerfuffle. Tome dies natural death.
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1623 Galileo gets cheeky with Pope Urban VIII and after his death, sinks into obscurity where he belongs, having not actually discovered anything very useful, and there not being any protestants to be maliciously spreading lies about the whole matter.
Consequently, Dr. Paget fails to sneer at Catholic Church in Calculus lecture, 1992.
The 200 Catholic students (100% of class) remain blissfully ignorant of their near miss with such infelicity.
************************************************************
The World continues happy, apart from occasional drunkenness, quarrelling, fraud and crimes of passion etc., which plague all civilisations, wherever humanity is found.
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(1607) New World fails to be colonised by English, due to non-existence of puritans.
New World left entirely for Spanish and Portuguese.
Consequently, New York fails to materialise.
World Spared Statue of Liberty.
***********************************************************
(1596-1650) Descartes gets it right: “I am, therefore I think.”
Pope Innocent X Bestows “Angelic Doctor Award for True Enlightenment.”
***********************************************************
(1694 – 1788) Voltaire has happy childhood, fails to become git. Things continue swimmingly.
***********************************************************
1724 Catholics finally trounce Muslims in the Final Crusade. Muslims die out and fade into obscurity alongside Albigensians & Co.
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1770 Botanist Joseph Banks labels New Holland (Australia) a “write-off.” Does not later change mind and recommend New Holland to Prison Committee for Big Prison, since the English property-owning peasants are content and England does not have an over-abundance of criminals.
England leaves said continent for the “wretched” French.
***********************************************************
1792 French attempt to grow vegetables in Recherche Bay, Tasmania, without much success. Turn up noses at the continent and leave it for the “scumbag” English.
Australian Aborigines are left in peace for another 350 years.
World is spared Opera House/ Sydney/ Strine.
************************************************************
Miraculously, machinery proves incapable of enslaving millions of people during Industrial Revolution, occurring as it does, within a distributive, rather than capitalist economy.
*************************************************************
WWI, Spanish Civil War and WWII etc. fail to occur.
World in blissful ignorance of near miss with these infelicities.
General F. Franco enjoys quiet retirement with wife and 3 (living) sons, playing cards and reciting poetry.
*************************************************************
1912 Hilaire Belloc and G K Chesterton, having little else to do, spend many happy nights playing cards and reciting poetry. Belloc blesses World with more verse and Chesterton spends more time with wife, Frances. All is Well.
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Sigmund Freud, with the help of his Confessor, overcomes his “issssues.” World Spared More Misery. Continues blissfully ignorant.
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1950 C S Lewis, having always been a contented Catholic living in Ireland, writes books on the finer points of Greek and Latin grammar, myths, mediaeval poetry, St Thomas Aquinas. Goes for long walks.
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Since Christendom is free from constant struggles with protestants and muslims, the beauty of the Gospel continues to conform society to the mind of Christ and in time, people begin to act more equitably towards women. By this time, slavery has already been gently ousted from human history and now women are becoming the main beneficiaries.
By 1703, women in most democratic countries of the world have been given the vote. This and many other changes have ensured that women are increasingly treated with more dignity.
Consequently, Simone de Beauvoir lives good, holy life. Writes hymns, book of prayers, Life of St Clotilde. Dies in 1986 at the age of 78.
Canonised in 2053 by Pope Leo XV. Pronounced Doctor of the Church in 2107, by Pope John Paul IV.
Germaine Greer marries and has 7 delightful children. Lives happily with her vagina and rest of universe without so much as thinking about tasting her own menses. Beatified in 2083 by Pope Pius XIV.
In 1972, Jessie Bernard neglects to call astonishingly large numbers of women “mentally ill.” World is Better Place.
Maureen Dowd (“If you can afford to act on your craving for domesticity you are a pampered, glazed fem-bot, who gets high on homemaking”), by positive miracle of God, lives peaceably with women of all kinds. World is Staggeringly Better Off. Neglects to become Saint, however, due to naturally cranky disposition.
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1960 Living in tiny hamlet of Liverpool, John, Paul and George form Merryweather Trio. Later, Ringo joins them and they become Merryweather Folk Singers. They enjoy resounding International success with such hits as,
“Love, love mee do”
and
“Can not buyest mee love”
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1969 Louise fails to be born, due to simultaneous non-existence of father and Melbourne, Australia. Existence of mother cannot be established with certainty. Consequently, Purcell’s Chicken Voluntary [Louise’s former blog] non-existent.
Oops!
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1972 Hitler dies after receiving Last Rites, in lunatic asylum. Lived obscure life, torturing cats. Presumably in Purgatory. Requires prayers.
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Stalin and Lenin live happy, productive peasant lives and each slips blissfully into obscurity after making a good death.
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1985 Society of St Pius I (SSPI) goes into schism over the Novus Ordo of the Fourth Century. Pope John Paul II excommunicates SSPI.
***********************************************************
Pope John Paul II, having not much else to do, spends most of his spare time with Cdl Joseph Ratzinger, playing cards and reciting poetry.
***********************************************************
Fertility rate steady at 2.3 children per woman. Malthusian prophecy fails to eventuate, partly due to fact that Malthus, being happily contented peasant in North Humberland, spent greater portion of leisure time playing cards and reciting poetry.
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May, 2004 Catholic Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark marries Scotswoman Mary Donaldson, whom he met while on pilgrimage to Rome.
All Scotland can be heard claiming acquaintance: “Her father taught me maths” and such.
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2005 English PM, Tony Blair announces severe restrictions on the sale of alcohol.
World (99% Catholic) Horrified.
English monarch, King Francis II, orders his execution. Grants pardon at 11th hour.
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2006 The whole world, being at peace, there is little for Pope Benedict XVI and Holy Mother Church to do, but concentrate on the conversion of the last remaining outpost of non-Catholics in the world. These are in the SW wilderness of Tasmania, which as we recall, is made up entirely of its native population, plus now some 100 missionary priests, religious and laity. There is a distinct lack of Hydro dams. (The English not having required Big Prison, remember).
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2006 Catholic bloggers have little to report – fight among selves.
Endlessly discuss whether the predominant economic system throughout the world is “Distributism” or “Distributivism.”
The vicious Grammar Wars ensue…
Schism narrowly avoided.
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2006 The Catholic King of Jordan, whose kingdom has taken in the entire middle east, since the Final Crusade, is invited for trade talks with King of the Americas, King Jorge W. Arbusto
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2006 Dan Brown’s hilarious comedy, “Duh Vinci Code,” premieres around the world. Everyone has “really good laugh.”
Amy Welborn, of Sussex, England, writes about all her Roman Pilgrimages instead.
World Amazed. Buys books. Makes her squillionairess.
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Mark Shea, having always been Catholic, living among 100% Catholic population, spends first 40 years happily playing cards and reciting poetry until he finally finds something to blog.
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2006 English actor, Mel Gibson, builds SSPI chapel for his Dad.
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2007 Pope Benedict XVI continues dialogue with SSPI bishops. Repentant, bishops reconcile with Church.
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Holy Mother Church goes placidly amid the noise and haste, in stately serenity, with minor squabbles among princes, clerics (and the faithful generally) providing colourful interludes.
Sporadic heresies spring up, are given the Dominican Treatment and never heard of again.
World in Pretty Good Nick, all things considered.
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World continues in much the same vein for further 21,793 years and 5 months, 13 days, after death of Pope John Paul IV in 2117.
After a series of somewhat brief and less painful events than were expected, the Lord Jesus Christ returns in order to Judge the Living and the Dead.
It should be noted that the so-called Rapture and Tribulation do not occur quite as expected. This would be very disconcerting for Christian Fundamentalists, except that of course, they don’t exist!
Thus ends a Fanciful History of Western Civilisation.
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26 Responses to A Fanciful History of Western Civilisation

  1. Larry Bond says:

    Hallo Louiseyvette

    This blog isn’t at all “dull” (as you called it)…

    Could you explain why you referred to the Pope as a “heretic” (I think the host on the other blog misunderstood my comment — I was just a bit shocked).

    • louiseyvette says:

      Hi Lawrence, thanks for that. You were right to be shocked, unless you have been following closely what the Pope has been saying since he was elected. I have never before spoken of Popes in this way and it’s not the usual thing for committed Catholics to do so. We have a natural instinct towards decorum and respect for the Papacy. I have remained largely silent, but have been consistently concerned at the things he has said.

      It’s confusing enough for those of us who are fairly well informed about our Faith, but more so for people just finding out about it. Basically, while Protestants etc do not consider the Papacy to be part of the original structure of the Church which Our Lord Jesus established, the Catholic Church stands firm that this was always the case, from the time of St. Peter (Mt. 16:18 http://www.drbo.org/chapter/47016.htm) being made the rock upon which Jesus said He would build the Church.

      In spite of this and in spite of the doctrine of Infallibility – which is exercised by the Pope under limited circumstances – it is possible to have a bad Pope. It is even possible to have a Pope who is heretical in his beliefs. If it turns out he is an Anti-pope (i.e. not really the Pope) that is something which must be declared later by a valid Pope and the bishops. It’s not something the laity can pronounce on with authority.

      This Pope has consistently attacked the practices and devotions of faithful Catholics and has in various ways undermined the clear teaching of the Church on Faith and Morals. He has consistently praised people, such as Cardinal Kasper, who openly teach against the Church’s moral teachings, particularly the question of divorce. It’s intolerable and I won’t remain silent any more.

      Most recently, as you may have seen at Hilary’s blog, he openly sympathised with Judas, even though Our Lord Jesus explicitly stated that it would have been better for him never to have been born. Judas is the only person, as far as I know, to have been declared to be certainly in Hell.

      The dissenting Catholics and liberals generally love Pope Francis. The faithful Catholics who still love him are either confused or against his message. I will not stoop to attacking faithful Catholics. I’m tired of the squabbles between us. At any rate, his popularity with some and not others, should itself explain the problem I have with him. The reason St Paul opposed St Peter to his face (Gal 2:11 http://www.drbo.org/chapter/55002.htm and Peter is called Cephas by St Paul, for that is Peter in Aramaic) is precisely because he recognised that St Peter was the legitimate authority of the Church (very like the father of the home) and also that St Peter was wrong and needed correction. That is all quite correct.

      You can contact me directly, btw, at:

      louiseyvette2000@yahoo.com.au

  2. Larry Bond says:

    You’re way too hard on your blog, Louiseyvette, you write well and have tons of knowledge. And, very importantly, you are prepared to take the time to answer sincere questions in depth; most aren’t.

    Indeed, I’m starting to feel that even on these Catholic blogs, I’m imposing myself and most would rather questions weren’t asked. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been startled by your views of the Pope – if most of the believers don’t defend and promote their beliefs with enthusiasm, why should the leaders be any different?

    Forgive the irritation in my tone, it is in no way directed at you. Thank you for the links, I’ll read them carefully.

    PS: After reading your comment about Pope Francis I went into it a bit deeper – some people have very strong views about the Pope, to say the least. What’s your take on Ann Barnhardt, BTW?

    • louiseyvette says:

      Thanks Lawrence. I think you’re caught in the cross-fire a bit! But I have more time to devote to one-to-one Q&A. That’s not something super busy journalists and bloggers can do easily. Hopefully you’ll find some more Catholics other than me to talk to! I wish I could tell you to go to your local Catholic parish to find some people to talk to as well as me. That might be good anyway, depending on the parish. But it might be really unhelpful. I can’t really know. It’s possible that one of the parishes associated with the Latin Mass Society would be good. http://www.lms.org.uk/

      I certainly understand the irritation in your tone!! I get it. I cry almost every day for Holy Mother Church and for the souls who may be lost as a result of this mess.

      I like Ann Barnhardt, really. I don’t always like her wording and style, but I do like her forthrightness. I prefer to call the Pope by his proper name and title because I still must show respect to the Papacy. All is not yet lost – it just looks like it.

      Actually, you should come over and spend time at Maclin’s blog (http://lightondarkwater.typepad.com/lodw/). I’ve been reading it for ten years now and have met Maclin and his wife. They live in Alabama. Some of us there are friends on Facebook as well now. We don’t discuss the problems of the Church much there. It is one of the best places on the whole internet. Last year I wrote some posts for his 52 Authors series – do you like reading books?

      • louiseyvette says:

        I should also say that I have been reading Hilary White for at least ten years also. She can be prickly, but I’m very fond of her. Her real blog is http://anglocath.blogspot.com/

        She started What is Up With The Synod last year I think and it has now changed to its current name.

        I read Maclin and Hilary’s blogs nearly every day. I have been reading Peter Hitchens daily for the last 15 months and before that, on and off for at least a few years.

  3. Larry Bond says:

    PSPS: Poor old King Hank — could anyone really be that bad?

  4. Larry Bond says:

    Hiya

    It wasn’t my place to pass comment on the leadership of your church, that’s not why I’m here either. Some people have answered me with insightful and moving comments and I’m very grateful to them; I was being too negative yesterday.

    It would also be wrong of me to blame my own lack of knowledge on the indifference of some others or my background. I always sensed that there was a case to be made for Catholicism; with more determination I could have sought out the devote believers who are only too happy to talk of their faith.

    I’ll follow up those links and learn more.

    • louiseyvette says:

      Before I forget, I realised last night that it’s more important that you find out the most important teachings of the Church and why we believe them than getting too caught up in our current struggles. To that end it would be most advisable I think if you find a good catechism to read (this is explains what we believe) and a good book of apologetics (which explains why we believe). I have a couple in mind and will post online links later today when I find them.

  5. Larry Bond says:

    I’d just like to add you’re not the only Catholic I talk to, and that I have been too critical — many people do genuinely believe spiritual things are a private, personal matter.

    The Irish mother of a friend told me their priest had done something terrible and most people left; it brought their whole world crashing down. I must be sensitive. If some don’t feel comfortable replying to posts on Catholic sites, that’s fine and I should not resent it.

    On evangelism, be heartened: the culture is less Christian, certainly, but in some ways it’s easier to reach people who know nothing and the empty aimlessness of modern life leaves us unsatisfied. Europe may become Catholic once more.

    • louiseyvette says:

      Spiritual things certainly can be very private and personal. I don’t share such things too readily myself, but Catholics do need to be ready to explain our Faith to all interested people. To be honest, I just don’t think we meet that many of them, so don’t know what to do when we meet them.

  6. Larry Bond says:

    My last post for a while, promise.

    A man just told me of his great love for Mary; and please believe me that I don’t want to offend you, but this questioning of the beliefs of my generation of “Protestants” has revealed something to me. No one ever said it directly, yet we have somehow been brought up to believe your view of her is not correct.

    It runs incredible deep. I cannot recall ever being consciously aware of it before. This discussion, this questioning is touching something in me that does not want to be disturbed. I wake early in the morning. That’s why the pastors and Protestant believers I’ve tried to talk to about this react so emotionally. It confronts the whole mental and emotional basis of their lives.

    • louiseyvette says:

      Yes, I can easily believe it. Our beliefs about Mary and our love for her are not easily understood by most non-Catholics. The main thing to understand is that we love her because she is the mother of Jesus and He honoured her according to His own law of honouring Mother and Father. This always strikes me as so obvious that I truly wonder why it’s not obvious to the whole world..

  7. Larry Bond says:

    Posted a couple of things earlier but they seem to have vanished. Was basically saying I was being too critical of people — some do see spirituality as a private thing and if someone does not want to reply to a comment on a Catholic site, that’s fine and I should not resent it. I have received many insightful and supportive comments, and am really grateful for them.

    Any internal divisions there may be within the church or its leadership are irrelevant at the moment and beyond my understanding.

  8. Larry Bond says:

    No, it said something like “Problem posting message” (I reach the blog via google+).

  9. Larry Bond says:

    About your piece:

    Did those European princes really only get the idea to grab church wealth after Henry did it, they must’ve toyed with such a move before?

    It must be very difficult to be an effective, but still just king. Have you seen A Man For All Seasons with Robert Shaw as Henry? I remember the scene where Wolsey pleads with More to bend: he knows thousands will suffer in the wars and troubles that will follow if there is no male heir. Perhaps, ironically, some of Henry’s sins were committed to avoid worse consequences?

    • louiseyvette says:

      Undoubtedly it’s difficult to be a just and effective king, but St Louis IX of France managed it, I think.

      As a general principle no one may do evil that good may come of it. It was Belloc’s opinion that Henry’s bad example with the monasteries (which I don’t think had ever happened anywhere else before) was a major factor in the Reformation. He shows how in his “How the Reformation Happened.” As for the question of an heir, he dealt with that pretty well in “Characters of the Reformation” if I remember correctly. I think there are texts for both of these online and it’s been such a long time since I read about it that I don’t remember the details, but he makes a compelling case.

      I have indeed seen “A Man For All Seasons” and it’s pretty good in many ways, but there is undoubtedly the usual Whig history propaganda in it. Again, it’s been a long while since I saw it, but I enjoyed watching it. Arguably, the consequent suffering from Henry’s actions was mostly due not to a lack of male heir, but to the Protestant Revolt itself. I’m not sure how having a male heir would have changed that necessarily unless he had lived long and been a devout Catholic and had ended the schism. Henry in any case had six attempts at marriage and sired only one, sickly son, and he killed off Ann anyway.

      It’s my own opinion that he had a massive mid-life crisis and only wanted a new wife at that point. It’s amazing the stuff people say when they want a good excuse to get out of marriage!

  10. Larry Bond says:

    “The stuff people say… to get out of marriage” that’s a good quip…

    My history may only be Ladybird Books level, but it’s pretty clear that our “Whig” version of events is way different to how you see things…

    I know your piece is just a bit of fun, yet a serious point rises from it. Isn’t Nebuchadnezzar reduced to a mad outcast so that he may learn everything comes from God (I’ve just read that passage)? There are no accidents. The world has not become a single Catholic civilisation for some reason; if God had not wanted Christendom to divide, it would not have done so.

    There is only one thing I could say with absolute surety about your article. You state that one benefit of the universal Catholic world is: “…people begin to act more equitably towards women…”
    Louiseyvette, women run society. Always have, always will. Everywhere. No man can do anything without your backing.

    • louiseyvette says:

      Re: women. I wrote this about 10 years ago and in fact would probably revise that paragraph, but I left it in honour of the original piece. My views have changed to some degree and yes, women have always run society. We only entrusted men with trivial things like government. (I’m being a bit Chestertonian there).

      Re: Nebby – yes, God’s permissive will is something of a mystery. Clearly, He can never will for evil to happen, yet He permits it partly to honour our free will and for greater good to come. How He fixes things is a marvel to behold.

      “The world has not become a single Catholic civilisation for some reason” — not yet.

  11. Larry Bond says:

    You’re trying to break it to me gently, but I’ve come to terms with it already: a man is only successful if he has women behind him and only accepted if they do. No use fighting it — we’ve just got to bow down and please as best we can. Remember how Paris told his cousin Aeneas that women wouldn’t influence his destiny — just look what happened…

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