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review 2017-06-14 05:10
Living through footnotes...
Queen of Martyrs - Samantha Wilcoxson

Bloody Mary... First Queen of England... Daughter of Henry VIII... Disinherited... Unloved and Alone.. These are just a few of the thoughts that come to mind when one thinks of Mary Tudor..

 

Mary Tudor has long been vilified in the eyes of history. Condemned for her harsh treatment of perceived heretics in her kingdom, the first queen of England was hiding the longing that was inside of her.
As a child, she was the apple of her father's eye, loved and cherished. Then came the nasty business of the "other woman" and the loss of Mary's mother. With queen Catherine removed from court, and the process of a divorce moving forward, Mary became lost in limbo. Losing her status as princess, and forced to serve in the household of her new half-sister, she throws herself deeper into her faith. All she wanted was her fathers affection, but that was only given sparingly. As she matured into adulthood, she began to hope for love and a family of her own. Her hopes her dashed as time keeps moving forward and no move is made to procure a marriage for her. When her father finally dies, and her brother comes to the throne, she does her best to be there for him, but the changing climate in religion forces her to move away from court.
Throughout her brothers reign, the warnings about her faith are given, but she continues regardless of what they say. But when her brother finally puts his food down, she realizes that he is growing up, and will soon be his own counselor. But the foundation of her faith is the only thing that keeps her going. Her house continues to practice Catholicism, regardless of the tenor from the courts. But after her brothers death and the young Lady Jane is proclaimed queen, Mary moves forward with her own claim for the throne. With the country behind her, she is swept into London, and proclaimed queen. Her countrymen have become her children, and she pours her love into her kingdom. With marriage coming into the picture, she can hope for happiness, but again she is disappointed. Philip fulfills what he must for the marriage, but no more. Mary pours herself into her marriage, only to have her heart broken continually. With the support of her cousin, the Cardinal Pole, she pushes forward with her reforms and her punishments, but slowly she is losing the love of her land. With no heir, she is forced to name her sister, who has not converted to the Catholic faith.
With the death of Mary comes the death of the hopes of returning England to the fold of the church of Rome, and ushers in a new era.

The story of Mary is one that is both heartbreaking and horrifying. All she wanted was love, the love of a father figure who was never there for her. The upheavals of her life must have seriously marked the young lady. Six queens, six mother figures, only two that were ever really there for her. Friendships which were lost through deaths, and the sad life of a woman who only wanted someone to confide in. With her husband not really caring for her and anxiously looking for any reason to leave, the queen is left with no one to really turn to for support. Her loyal ladies and the few supporters she has, are not ones that can be trusted with the pains of her heart.
I loved this story, and the breath of fresh air that has turned a history deemed monster back into a human being. Mary Tudor has become one of the most underrated and misunderstood women in royal England. The sad life of this woman has been summed up in very few books, very little has been kind to her. In a life that was never bright to a wearied woman, history was not compassionate in remembering her either. I do not think she was innocent in everything, I regard her as responsible for the deaths of those who were burned for their faith, but I also believe that she was zealous in her beliefs, and could not understand why everyone else could not entrench themselves in their religion as she did. Samantha Wilcoxson has done a wonderful job of bringing this sad queen back from the depths of history, and pushing her once more into the limelight. This books brings some well deserved justice for the queen who only wanted prosperity and happiness for her realm, not dejection and rejection at every turn in life.

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text 2016-09-27 16:14
Book 74/100: Dilemma - A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love by Father Albert Cutie
Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love by Father Albert Cutie (3-Jan-2012) Paperback - Albert Cutie

Around the Year Reading Challenge Item #25: A Book Whose Main Character is in a Profession that Interests You

This feels like two different books smashed into one: the first half is something of a memoir of Cutie's experience in the priesthood, while the second half is essentially his rant about all the things that are wrong with the Catholic church, which he mostly attributes to the celibacy requirement for clergy.

This has a bit more of a "celebrity memoir" feel to it than I usually like, and the writing in the first half feels a little labored, clunky, and obligatory. I didn't realize that Cutie was such a public figure, so his need to tell "his" side of the story and his many references to how the media and those around him perceived him felt a little bit overly defensive to me. If you're looking for a love story, you will be disappointed -- he goes into very little detail about the relationship that was ultimately the last straw in his decision to leave the Catholic church, probably out of respect for his wife, whom he characterizes as a "private" and "shy" person.

The book picked up steam (and interest) for me after Cutie stopped acting as an apologist for why he remained in the Church for so long and instead dissects all that he sees to be wrong with it. There is nothing incredibly new here, although there are a few interesting insights, such as his belief that the Catholic church has been so silent in speaking out against dictatorial governments because it is itself a dictatorship. The idea that all of the Church's problems stem from the celibacy requirement is a bit of a stretch, but he makes a compelling argument for it nonetheless. I liked having the "insider look" behind the veil that is the Catholic hierarchy and appreciated that Cutie's role as an outsider allowed him greater than priests still within the system are afforded. I felt a bit uncomfortable with how Cutie seemed ready to give priests accused of sex abuse the "benefit of the doubt" as well as his conflation of homosexuality and predatory sexual preferences, even though he claims to be an ally to the GLBTQ community.

As a memoir it's a little stiff and wooden, and it's not the greatest treatise on the failings of the Catholic church. But I'm still glad to welcome Cutie among the chorus of dissenters calling for change in an institution that too often does more harm than good to its adherents.

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quote 2016-09-19 19:31
[A]fter a good deal of reflection, I have come to the conclusion that it must be very difficult for one dictatorship to condemn another. When the Vatican stops silencing, condemning, and eliminating those who dissent from certain archaic pastoral practices and even some of their theological impositions, only then will it begin to possess the moral authority necessary to challenge dictatorships to a profound change. Imagine one totalitarian regime telling another, 'Hey, you got to listen to your people!' It just does not work.
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quote 2016-09-16 05:28
Anytime the Vatican or the national Church refers to the media, it is to accuse the media of attacking the Church. What they don't seem to realize is that the Church is not really being attacked, but challenged to be what it claims to be.
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quote 2016-09-14 19:34
Many people dismiss the Church's flaws as 'the humanity of the Church.' But the problem isn't the Church's humanity; it is the Church's inhumane practices and those who are more faithful to the institution than they are to the Gospel message of love. It is those practices that are causing the institution, beloved by so many, to become less credible as a spiritual authority in the world.

Most of us can deal with human error and sin. What we can't deal with is an institution that presents itself as holier than thou and ends up having a lot more skeletons in its closet than it is willing to admit.
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