The Pope of Popes - Online Specials - Times Online

On the Pope:

You will have read much about the Pope's life, and his expected passing. The one thing that I read that struck me most came toward the end of this article from the London Times:

In an Istanbul prison cell, Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish extremist who tried to assassinate the Pope in 1981, was praying for his "brother", according to his lawyer. The two men have long since made their peace.
It's an interesting story, one I'd not looked into before. M. Ali Agca presents himself as a madman -- claiming, among other things, to be Jesus Himself returned to earth, and to know the time of the end of the world. However, he operated successfully as an international smuggler and assassin during the period before his arrest, changing passports and names with ease.

Whether his prayers for the Pope are sincere, and whether he is simply praying to himself, is not known. It is clear that he wishes to be seen as a friend of the Pope's, though what good that would do him in a Turkish prison is not clear. It seems to me to be a high compliment to the Pope, that his assassin should wish to profess his love.

Grim's Hall

A Bad Day:

Some days just don't go right. This has sure been one of them.

Absolutely everything I've tried to do today has gone wrong. I planned to take the day off; there was a meeting scheduled at 11 AM, so by the time I was done with it most of the day was gone. I tried to use what was left of the day pleasantly, but rain moved in. I'd hoped to hike, but what was advertised as a "Civil War Trail" was really just a roadsign -- a fact I discovered after driving many, many miles to find it. The restaurant I'd hoped to eat in out there proved to be unfit for it. Also, though I'd memorized the map, I took a wrong turn and ended up quite a distance out of the way. During all this, my son has had an explosive temper all day (he is only two), which made most every minute grueling. What I'd hoped would be a fun outing has been an excursion in misery and exhaustion.

On top of which, my planned April Fool's Joke went awry, causing me to anger an old friend. I'll do my best to make it up to my friend, after enough time has passed. They have every right to be angry. I did check it out first -- I wasn't completely careless -- but apparently I missed a few things. I'd expected it might lead them on a wild goose chase of ten minutes or so -- if they didn't spot it for an April Fool's Day joke at once, given my sordid history with these things. Instead, it took two hours.

Nobody likes to hear that they've wasted two hours of a pleasant spring afternoon, and I feel terrible about it. If I were a better person, of course, I wouldn't play practical jokes -- not even on April Fool's Day -- but, of course, I'm not. Every year, I just can't resist. One year I created a fake webpage that appeared to be a Washington Post article on gold being discovered in Indiana, in my wife's hometown. She was so excited, and called her mother to ask about it. That one worked well, and it's always the one I think of when the day rolls around and I'm trying to think of an appropriate joke.

I haven't ever had one go bad like this before, but I see now that I've really hurt someone's feelings, and I never meant to. But it didn't go that way. Like everything else today, it went wrong and got worse as it continued. I haven't had such a downright miserable day in many months.

Maybe I'll just turn in early.


Grand Strategy:

TigerHawk has a lengthy transcript of a lecture by professor Michael Doran of Princeton University.

Wretchard has some additional thoughts.

Winds of Change.NET: Defense Industry Highlights: 2005-04-01

Defense Industry News:

I apparently missed it, but Joe Katzman of Winds of Change -- who, as leader of the Pajamhadeen faction, was an ally of the Leatherneck Bloggers during the recent Spirit of America blogger challenge -- has another blog focused on the defense industry. Defense Industry Daily looks like an excellent source for inside news on the latest tech and contracts coming down the line.

Re-writing history. Sorta.

So. I watched a new National Geographic special last night about the "Lost Treasures of Afghanistan" which looks at the efforts to get archaeology going again in Afghanistan. Some may remember the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas. And others may remember the "Bactrian Gold". The program talks about these things, all well and good.

What is not good, however, is a rather glaring omission.

The program mentions the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; The resistance of the Mujahadeen; the Soviet withdrawl, and the Civil War and the subsequent rise of the Taliban and how the Taliban instituted a very strict intrepretation of Islam, and what that meant for women, why art had to be hidden, the disappearance of the Bactrian Gold, the destruction of the Buddhas, etc...

All with pictures and news reel footage of Soviet soldiers, Afghan Mujahadeen, exploding statues, kikuris cutting up paintings, women being shot in the head...and so forth.

And then....the program sort of starts talking about what's going on now in Afghanistan, and the its rather obvious that the Taliban are no longer in charge, and they're referred to in the past tense, and absolutely no explanation of how that came about.

Not. A. Word.

Even the National Geographic's website manages to spare a sentence:
"The Taliban was forced from Kabul after the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan in late 2001."

I wasn't looking for a history of the campaign. But even that sentence is more than the program provides.

I am really getting tired of this. Chris Muir's satire got it so right. (Look at the cartoon for 3/23/2005.)

The Indepundit

An Exception to the Kindness Rule:

I have been to the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial in Indianapolis, IN. It's down on the White River, a pleasant stroll on a summer's day, near the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. The pleasure of the stroll is touched with a note of sorrow, though, to look at the glass panels filled with the names of heroes. Most of them are dead, a loss to our nation.

Whoever smashed those panels, and defaced the site with spraypainted peace signs and anarchist symbols, is not due kindness. I don't know what to say. What kind of person could do such a thing? Not one with an ounce of understanding, nor respect, nor decency.

I still believe that we have to treat our neighbors kindly, and introduce them to the practice of the right to keep and bear arms in a way that will make them feel safe with us. The evidence supports us here -- citizens with CCPs commit any crime at a rate far lower than the general population. I honestly believe that most of the citizens on the other side simply haven't been around it, and can be won over with honorable behavior and some exposure.

But there are some, this shows, who cannot be. May posterity forget they were our countrymen.

Marine Corps Moms

To Bear Arms:

Marine Corps Moms has become the center of gravity for the MilBlog and veteran response to this story:

A picture of a Marine holding an assault rifle has sparked a wave of controversy at a Salem high school. The problem began when the Marine's sister brought the picture to McKay High School to post on a classroom bulletin board. The assignment was to show McKay graduates at work.

However, the principal of the school, Cynthia Richardson, would not allow the picture to go up because of the school's zero tolerance policy on weapons. "What message am I sending to my students if I post that picture?" she asked.
There are a number of heartfelt responses to that question at Marine Corps Moms, as well as to the reverse: "What message am I sending if I refuse to post it?"

The intended message is clear, however: weapons are bad.
All it takes is one look around the school to see that there may be a problem with that logic, considering that the school mascot is seen carrying a sword. "He has a sword. (That is) so true. We might have to revisit that," said Richardson when KATU News asked her about the mascot's imagery.
There's a photo of the mascot, himself a military man of the "Royal Scots." He is indeed bearing a sword, which the school will now presumably hide. Photos or paintings of servicemen are fine, so long as we make no reference to the arms they bear.

A few days ago, I linked to this piece by Mark Steyn:
[O]ur victim culture is now so advanced and universal that we prefer even our soldiers and police officers in that mould.... That week there were two stories involving the PPCLI: the four men killed in Afghanistan, whose deaths prompted an orgy of coast-to-coast mawkish ersatz grief-mongering that was a disgrace to a grown-up nation; and the five of their comrades who’d proved such lethal snipers that the Pentagon wished to accord them the rare honour, for foreign troops, of the Bronze Star.

That story was reported nowhere except in the National Post. The Canadian government had nixed the award, officially on some nitpicky procedural ground, but unofficially because they were a bit queasy about letting it be known that our "forces" (we don’t say "armed forces" any more) still occasionally--what’s the phrase?--kill the enemy. In the spirit of that unarmed "peacekeeper" on the $5 bill, we’d rather see our soldiers as victims than warriors.

What do we do with people like this? How do we move forward when there is such a clear horror among so many people at the reality, the existence of weapons? Even among policemen and soldiers? How to address this unreasonable fear of weaponry, which can't admit the distinction between weapons that harm, and weapons that defend?

With many people, reasoning will be enough. Those who do not feel this unreasonable fear themselves, but merely have accepted the "logic" of Zero Tolerence, may be able to see the distinction once it has been raised and explained. I think Marine Corps Moms is doing a fine job of collecting and publishing thoughtful replies on that order.

But we must also address the people who do experience this unreasoning fear. I suspect that the only way to do so successfully is by building positive experiences with people who bear arms. It is necessary that they should see guns, knives, and swords in a fashion that doesn't involve threats or violence. Many of them have encountered weapons only on the news, in stories about violent death; or on the belts of policemen who, even when acting with utter professionalism, may be intimidating to timid souls as they issue orders, summons, or tickets.

For this reason, I advocate wearing arms openly where it is legal to do so.

You should abide by all of the laws of your locality, of course. In addition, and a matter just as important, you should abide by these guidelines:

1) When wearing arms, go out of your way to be polite and courteous. It is not for no reason that Miss Manners is listed in the "Admired Voices" section here, along with Mark Steyn and Bill Whittle. The fear of weapons often makes the fearful person say things that will make you feel like you're being accused of being a beast, a threat, an evil creature. Hate of weapons can make people express hate for the bearer of weapons. It would be easy to respond in kind.

You should not. If you have enough responsibility to bear arms to protect the weak from physical harm, you have enough responsibility to restrain your feelings to protect the weak from feeling the sharp edge of your tongue. Courtesy is the brother of chivalry, and the timid will have a much easier time accepting the latter if it is in the company of the former. Meeting an armed citizen may be intimidating, but we have the opportunity to make it a positive experience. Preserving liberty is what bearing arms is about, and that cause is advanced more by kindness than by hard words.

2) Start off with less intimidating weapons. Once your neighbors and the people you meet daily have adjusted to the tactical folding knife on your belt, carry a sheath knife. Once they've seen you with that a few times, carry an older revolver in a leather holster. Yes, this is irrational -- there's no reason to fear a semiautomatic more than a revolver. But the fear you're trying to ease is irrational. You'll achieve the end faster and more smoothly if you are sensitive to that. It won't be long before people are used to seeing you wearing your pistol or knife, and it won't bother them at all because they know you and have always found you to be upstanding.

3) You may find it helpful to carry to one side of the small of your back. In this way, you will frequently meet and begin talking to people before they notice the weapon. At that point, they will already have had the positive experience of dealing with a courteous person -- almost all of the intimidation that they may feel will be gone.

4) Be especially kind to the elderly, the disabled, animals and children. This is the right thing to do in any case. If chivalry and courtesy are to be defended, they must be lived.

5) Step your openly carried weapon down a level (or two) if you are going somewhere where there will be few other men, and lots of young mothers with their children. In this circumstance, you must do whatever you can to be a reassuring rather than an intimidating presence. As the law allows, you may still of course carry whatever you like concealed.

I have carried weapons openly for about a decade, varying them as appropriate to the circumstances. You can generally wear higher order weapons openly in rural areas, while scaling them back somewhat in cities or areas in which there is a cultural fear of weapons. Even when in the District of Columbia, I habitually wear a Gerber Applegate-Fairbairn Combat Folder on my belt without incident. No one has seemed put off by it, in spite of the fact that the sheath says "COMBAT" in big gold letters.

My experience is that people adjust quickly to the idea. I've had a number of conversations in the District with people who come from this group that has been raised to be fearful of weapons. After a few months of getting to know you, they will realize that the weapon on your belt is no more a threat to them than the birds in the sky. Because they trust you, and know they need not fear you, the weapon is just there. It holds no terror at all.

That is, of course, the important lesson: that it is not the weapon, but the man, who is the danger. The Marines, the Royal Scots, the man who upholds the old code of chivalry and courtesy, these are not enemies even though they may bear swords and rifles. The cruel and the murderous are deadly foes even when they bear only box cutters.

Be kind to your neighbors. Bear arms in the honest performance of your duty to the common peace. There are many examples before you in American history of men who did both these things at once. Be one of them.

Kim du Toit - Daily Rant

America's Worst Blogger Speaks:

On Reconciliation. Kim du Toit, who was sent to jail for protesting aparthaid in his native South Africa, has some thoughts on recent movies, old novels, South Africa, and modern day Iraq. All readers should consider giving his questions a moment of your time.

If this is the worst blogger in America, by Thunder, we've got a good thing going here.


Thinking Things Through,
Journalism Edition:

SlagleRock's Slaughterhouse has a small complaint to register against Harper's magazine. They recently did a story on desertion in the American military (a friendly story, in fact: it was called, "AWOL in America: When Desertion is the Only Option.")

Not only did they do a story, it was the cover story! So, naturally they need a cover photograph.

So who did they pick? Our friend the paratrooper in Canada? The guy who skipped out on his ship just before it left port to go help the stricken in Indonesia?

No. Marine Corps Recruits, actively engaged in serving their country:

Marine recruits so new that their hair hasn't been cut don't sound like the best models for a story about soldiers going AWOL - particularly since none in the group is a deserter....

The cover photo, taken at Parris Island, S.C., shows seven Marines lined up in their T-shirts, shorts and socks. They are not identified in photo credits or in the article. In fact, Harper's says the Marines are not meant to depict people in the article.

"We are decorating pages," said Giulia Melucci, the magazine's vice president for public relations. "We are not saying the soldiers are AWOL. Our covers are not necessarily representative."

Ah, yes. Nonrepresentational art. That's a dying movement even in the art world, though; I hadn't heard it had spread to cover photographs of national magazines.

Besides which, the excuse is absurd on its face. It was a cover photograph. Of course it was meant to represent the point of the article. Otherwise, you could just put a color splotch on the cover. Or some attractive paisley pattern.

There's a line in the movie Unforgiven in which Clint Eastwood's character is chastized for having shot an unarmed tavern owner, because the owner had placed the body of a fellow gunfighter in an open casket on the tavern's porch. "He should have armed himself if he's gonna decorate his saloon with my friend," Eastwood replied.

Harper's should have armed itself with a better excuse before it decided to decorate its pages with our friends. It wouldn't have cost them much to hire actors to play recruits for a quick photoshoot. Instead, they decided to use the photos of brave young men to represent cowards and oathbreakers.



Virtue Ethics & Kim du Toit:

Mr. Barlow of Crooked Timber nominates Kim du Toit as America's Worst Blogger, based largely on the essay linked under his name. I have a few things to say about this.

First, this whole business of "worst blogger" is nothing but a publicity stunt. The rules of the contest require that any blog nominated be "commonly read and referred to." The idea appears to me to be this: loudly slam someone who has worked hard and built up a large, successful blog. Hopefully, they'll notice and reply or defend themselves. In doing so, they'll link to you, and...

But that's beside the point. There is a substance to the charge, which ought to be examined.

Barlow cites what he considers to be a thorough rebuttal of Kim's essay, which you can read here. The thing that comes across most strongly in the rebuttal is summed up in two places. One of them is the opening sentence: "I’m torn about Kim du Toit’s essay about, as I’ll put it, avoiding his gratuitous crudity, the wimpification of the Western male." The other is in this line: "I want to make it clear that I actually agree with a certain idea buried in du Toit’s screed: certain parts of our culture undervalue virtues traditionally thought of as masculine[.]"

In addition, Barlow cites several other things Kim has written, which share the same common thread. The objection to Kim is that he is gratuitously crude. The underlying ideas may have merit, but the expression is ugly. The objection, in other words, is aesthetic.

I don't say that to dismiss the objection. Aesthetics is a division of ethics, and has been since the time of Aristotle. An examination of what we find ugly, or beautiful, says a lot about what we value and who we are. Creating a thing is an exercise in aesthetics, and no number of "conceptual artists" have ever been able to change that.

You make something beautiful, or you make something ugly, and you choose which depending on your purpose. You make a flute if your purpose is to soothe. You make a siren if your purpose is to alarm.

Early this month, four Royal Canadian Mounties were killed by one man in a remote corner of Canada. I never saw it in the American news, but I have a friend from Canada who owns a shop nearby, and when I went to talk to him one day he told me all about it in a tone of hushed awe. The RCMP is still revered in Canada; it is a storied unit. That is why Mark Steyn is so angry about what has become of it. And in explaining his wrath, he touches on all the same themes as du Toit.

But his purpose is to sway you, and his anger is not out front. He cites a poem, just the opening lines. You may know it, or not. Perhaps you'll look it up. Perhaps you'll reflect on it, and it will draw you into his argument.

Kim has another purpose. He is trying to harden hearts. He thinks it is important, and he may be right.

Many of you, should you choose to read the essay, will likewise find it ugly. Remember this: The essay's title, which so offends the Philosoraptor that he won't give voice to it, is not there by accident, or from an absence of thought. And the essay itself, though frequently provocative, was designed to force you to be offended. That's part of the point. If the argument is that society is too soft, why couch it in gentle terms? And what better proof is there of the argument than if rough language is enough to cause people to reject the argument outright?

What remains for the reader with a hardened heart is this:

I want men everywhere to going back to being Real Men. To open doors for women, to drive fast cars, to smoke cigars after a meal, to get drunk occasionally and, in the words of Col. Jeff Cooper, one of the last of the Real Men: “to ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth.”
I have read much of Kim's hospitality, from bloggers who have visited him. Hospitality is one of the few universal virtues, an older part of ethics even than aesthetics. Without exception, these writers have explained Kim du Toit to be as generous as a lord. They speak of how ready he has been with his time, in his offers not just of food but feasts, and in sharing his knowledge and property with people he knows only from the internet.

Not every road is beautiful. If this is where it leads, however, it may be a road worth taking once in a while.

Salt Lake Tribune - Opinion


The Salt Lake Tribune has an excellent opinion piece on the recent school shooting. Utah is, the piece points out, one of the only places in the nation in which a qualified adult can carry a concealed firearm on school property. Defending yourself and the student body in other places is legal, but the tools which make it practical for the average school-teacher are not.

The author points out that there are not many options left for addressing the issue of school shootings. The conditions which existed for this last one were:

* No guns allowed per Minnesota and tribal law.
* A guard and metal detectors present at entrance.
* The shooter was on home study, barred from school grounds.
* He was too young to own, let alone possess, firearms, per state and tribal law.
* The firearms were not obtained from a gun show.
* The firearms were legally registered and came from the home of a law enforcement officer.

What additional laws would have prevented this?
It is difficult to use the law to constrain someone who has decided to die in the course of a violent act. Other tools than law are needed at those times.

Gang will target Minuteman vigil on Mexico border - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - March 28, 2005

Bad Clouds:

The other day, Doc Russia had a post on the Minuteman Project. He noted that both the ACLU and MS-13 had decided to destroy them if possible, and offered this reasoning: "The ACLU, MS-13, weak foreign leaders who cannot care for their own citizens, and government bureaucracies and administrations who do not want to see their power evaporate in the Arizona desert. With enemies like that, you should not be ashamed of what you stand for."

No, indeed. Actually, this will be an excellent initiative if it lives up to its claims. Assuming it remains scrupulously law abiding, and restricts itself to gathering information and passing it to the authorities, this is a perfect example of citizens doing their duty to uphold the law.

But the report about MS-13 augurs badly. This is not a threat to blow off, and I hope the Minutemen are making better plans in private than in public:

"We're not worried because half of our recruits are retired trained combat soldiers," Mr. Gilchrist said. "And those guys are just a bunch of punks...."

Many of the Minuteman volunteers are expected to be armed, although organizers of the border vigil have prohibited them from carrying rifles. Only those people with a license to carry a handgun will be allowed to do so, Mr. Gilchrist said.

The backstory on MS-13 should concern you:
Because of their ties to [El Salvador], they have access to sophisticated military weapons, thus making firearms trafficking one of their main criminal enterprises.
There's a certain amount of unwisdom going on here, on all sides. The Minutemen mean well by restricting their members to concealed, legally-carried handguns. On the other hand, it's perfectly legal to carry a rifle in Texas.

My suspicion is that the Minutemen are trying to address the concerns of the ACLU and others, by demonstrating that they are not attempting to intimidate or harrass, but only to defend themselves in the last extremity. That was fine, before this threat; but in the face of it, rethinking is in order. There is nothing to be gained by making yourself vunerable in this way, when possession of the tools with which you could defend yourself is both lawful and available.

MS-13, being a collective of undereducated thugs, has almost certainly not considered the ramifications of crossing the border in force and gunning down a bunch of middle-class American citizens. I doubt they have considered the response that would occur should they adopt the less confrontational policy of violent intimidation -- attacks on the families and children of Minutemen, for example. The first will be read as an invasion similar to, and needing the same type of response as, Pancho Villa; the second will be read as terrorism, and met with all available weight.

America tolerates a certain level of violence and disorder among its underclasses, mostly because we haven't sorted out a good way to stop it without trampling on the liberty that the Republic was founded to protect. More police? Less freedom for everyone. More laws? Less freedom for everyone. Laws targeting only the underclass? Generally unconstitutional because they trample civil rights and the principle of equal protection of the law. Curfews? More prisons? More government programs to track their movements and keep a registry of their activi... er, that is, "help" them? All of these things threaten American liberty more than the underclass and its violence; and so we have become tolerant.

MS-13 has been able to dwell in those regions, unstopped by America. I imagine they think America honestly cannot stop them. The recent raids on their national network can't have seemed very threatening, since the penalty is simple deportation, to nations even less likely to control them.

The rules are very different, however, when you begin killing Americans outside of the underclass. A criminal enterprise that decides to contend openly with America's civilian population will be destroyed in short order. The tragedy is that we may see them first kill law-abiding volunteers trying to do their duty to help their country. The Minutemen would be wise to reconsider their no-rifle policy, and arm themselves as the law and the Second Amendment allows. It was just this type of movement the Second intended to protect, after all: they may as well avail themselves of its benefits.

The UN: lost cause or a last chance? - Tony Parkinson -

The UN, Seen From Oz:

The folks down under are much bigger UN boosters than Americans, with UN critics still usually being supporters. Take Tony Parkinson:

Not even the proudest supporters of the lofty ideals of the UN can deny its organisational culture is in urgent need of an overhaul.

At headquarters in New York, ponderous and repetitive posturing passes for debate, while votes on the floor are too often predetermined by squalid and sometimes corrupt deal-making. The General Assembly is dysfunctional, the Security Council anachronistic and, in debates on peace and security, ideology and self-interest trump idealism every time.

In Geneva, the UN's Human Rights Commission has become a theatre of the absurd, in which serial abusers such as China, Cuba and Sudan stack committees, deny scrutiny of their own conduct, and issue ritualistic critiques of the racism and inequality of the West.

The past three years have brought unparalleled upheaval and scandal. Shaken by Security Council divisions over the US-led invasion of Iraq, the organisation has been further demoralised by reports of widespread sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and explosive revelations about high-level corruption in the oil-for-food program in Iraq.

Not to mention policy paralysis over ongoing massacres in Darfur.
But other than that, hey, look at those lofty ideals!



The half-heathen Angles, Saxons and Danes celebrated many old holidays even as Christianity was growing up among the elite of their nations.

According to the historian Bede the Venerable (673?-735), writing in chapter 13 of his De temporum ratione, the heathen Anglo-Saxons called the third and fourth months "Rhedmonath" and "Esturmonath" after their goddesses Rheda and Eostra respectively. Rheda, except for the brief citation above, has been forgotten. Eostra (Ostara) has fared somewhat better, although there is little direct evidence of her and her followers.
The story of Easter in the Anglosphere is remarkable in several respects. The first is that we should call it by the name of an ancient heathen goddess. This is not the case in most of Christendom. To return to the first cited source:
The English and German words for "Easter" derive from the name "Ostara," the Germanic Goddess of Springtime. All other European words for "Easter" derive from the Hebrew word "pasah," to pass over, thus reflecting the Christian holiday's Biblical connection with the Jewish Passover.
There are several examples, including Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic, all having some variation of "Pask" as their root. This seems to have been the preference of the Church of Rome, and her paladins who took the Cross to their people.

But Germany was Christianized by invasion, at the hand of Charlemagne, and the survival of some of the old forms was perhaps a popular reaction to the imposition. England was another matter.

In England, the great Christian kingdoms that survived the fall of the Roman Empire came under assault by the sea kings. They mastered the land, though their numbers were not great:
To answer the question 'how did the small number of invaders come to master the larger part of Britain?' John Davies gives us part of the answer: the regions seized by the newcomers were mainly those that had been most thoroughly Romanized, regions where traditions of political and military self-help were at their weakest.
Unwilling and unable to defend themselves, man for man, they fell to those who were still warriors. Not always by the sword! Tradition holds that the British king Vortigern invited two such kings to come and protect his land: Hengst and Horsa. They are said to have invitied their kin to follow them, and disposed of Vortigern once their warriors were in place.

It is from this time that the legendary realm of Arthur is supposed to have existed. You are probably familiar with much of the thinking on where, and when, such a kingdom would have been.

But Christianity returned to Britain. It was not, quite, the Christianity of Rome. It came instead from Ireland, where St. Patrick had converted the great Irish kings, but which had been largely cut off from Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The Irish monasteries sent teachers and preachers into Britain through what is now Scotland, but was at the time the home of the last Christian Kingdoms: Dal Riada, the Gaelic kingdom that was already in the process of absorbing the Picts, and the Cymirc lands that produced Y Gododdin.

With secure bases in those lands, the Celtic missionaries passed south into the English states. They converted the kings of the Angles and Saxons, Jutes and Danes, among them St. Edwin of Northumbria. Like St. Edwin, the converted kings brought along their people. There was little pressure felt in England to abandon the old languages. The Celtic monks were glad to absorb the old forms, putting them to new uses. What had been a fertility festival, celebrating the coming of Spring and new life in this world became -- not instead, but in addition -- a celebration of life in a world beyond.

Therefore it is that we in the English-speaking world, along with the Germans, are alone in calling Easter by a heathen name. Nothing is thereby lost, and much that was great of old is thereby preserved.

I wish you a Happy Easter, you Christians, you Heathens, and those halfway in between.