Thursday, May 28, 2015

In the world of saints, King Henry VIII is best known for the number he martyred. He didn't make it to sainthood himself. Henry the shoemaker did, and another Henry did... a laborer who gave all he made to the poor. But not Henry VIII.

You want to know who did make it, though? Blessed Margaret Pole, the governess of Princess Mary. She and her sons, who were also quite religious, remained true to their convictions. Whether they were right or wrong is not really very interesting. The fact is, failure to bend to the prevailing winds will almost certainly get you killed. It was true for Jesus, for poor Margaret Pole, and for us too.

There is a chapter in the Tao Te Ching which begins:  Yield and overcome, Bend and be straight... and that's true, I think. But sometimes it is better to be faithful than to overcome. Overcoming is overrated. In fact, I suspect that if you're one of those victorious Christians then you're doing it wrong.

This is one of my favorite chapters, but Lao Tzu himself would advise me to look for the other side of bending. The other side of yielding is mere conformity. And so we must exercise a little discretion. Sometimes we yield, sometimes we remain steadfast, always we are being put to death...

Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight;
Empty and be full;
Wear out and be new;
Have little and gain;
Have much and be confused.

Therefore the wise embrace the one
And set an example to all.
Not putting on a display,
They shine forth.
Not justifying themselves,
They are distinguished.
Not boasting,
They receive recognition.
Not bragging,
They never falter.
They do not quarrel,
So no one quarrels with them.
Therefore the ancients say, "Yield and overcome."
Is that an empty saying?
Be really whole,
And all things will come to you.

May the God who went to The Tower with Margaret Pool grant us the wisdom to know when to yield and when to stand firm. 

By the way, you can read the whole Tao Te Ching on the internet. There are a lot of translations and most of the ones I've read are good... Maybe they are not good translations, I don't know about that,  but they are good for thinking about things. Lao Tzu was a good guy. He just wanted to live in peace. It turns out that it's more difficult than it sounds and he wound up just getting on his ox and riding off into the sunset. Nobody ever heard from him again. It's not a bad way to go. You can read more about Lao Tzu here and you can read some of his quotes here -- this website is called Brainy Quotes, so maybe you will feel especially bright after you visit.

You can read more about Margaret Pole here.  Just to be clear, I am not a fan of Margaret Pole. If you don't want trouble, you should try to keep yourself from high office, that's my way of thinking about it. But the times were different then and I suspect there is quite a lot about it that I don't know.

Have a good day everybody

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