A New Pilgrimage of Grace?

Humanity and history are shaped by parallels -- forces that act in the same or opposite directions.  One needs only a passing comprehension of current events to see the impact parallels have on the people of this great country, its bedrock institutions, and on the American way of life.  What we are enduring is the debasing of America, and at the beating heart of this struggle are opposing forces of good and evil.  History is replete with times like these, the outcomes at the time as unpredictable as the conflicts themselves.  But in what direction are we going as a nation, and to what end will we stand idle while evil pervades seemingly every facet of our existence?

Many conservative Americans struggle with anger and disappointment of late -- their feelings directed towards perceived doers of evil and myriad government injustices to humanity and humility, tempered only by what little grace they can muster in a country that feels like it is collapsing around them.  A fleeting moment in medieval history, where a class of people were subjected to a corrupted and punitive tyranny, parallels what many of us endure today at the hands of the ruling political class.  Those involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace may very well have empathized with modern-day conservatives in the era of COVID-19 and pervasive political turmoil.

In 1536 England, under the rule of King Henry VIII, Catholic institutions were under siege by dictatorial government forces. From buildings themselves to the tenets of prayer, few churches, which had existed for centuries unmolested, were spared fiat or threat of physical destruction. This was not a natural evolution of the manner in which people worshiped, but largely an act of spiteful disobedience by the English monarchy against the greater Holy Roman Empire for its refusal to accept England's request for an annulment of the marriage of King Henry and his first wife, ardent Catholic Queen Catherine of Aragon. As with the present disillusionment from establishment GOP and RNC alike, commoners suffered a political bludgeoning for the treachery of not prescribing to the King's ideals of self-fulfillment, moral degradation of Christian values, and open hostility towards any institution that would impede his wanton desires.

Against this backdrop was conceived a widespread northern uprising fittingly known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. Led in Yorkshire by lawyer and gentleman Robert Aske, some 30,000 men and women of faith, guided by an oath of moral behavior, amassed in demand of the restoration of their religious freedoms and institutions. Ultimately the nonviolent rising begat opposition violence, not unlike the brazen attacks on conservatives by Marxist groups Antifa and BLM.  To quell the rebellion, the forces of the king placated the pilgrims with false promises of religious restoration, equality for all, and an audience with Henry, who instead ordered the imprisonment or execution of the movement's leaders.  Does this 'justice' for the aggrieved pilgrims of a bygone era parallel what contemporary conservative Americans are experiencing at the hands of the elitist state and federal overlords?

The salient point of a parallel between today's tumult and a mere blip in history is that at a certain point in time people of faith and values must take a stand for their deeply held convictions.  Our refusal to compromise our beliefs or to cast aside our God-given freedoms is our greatest weapon against evil manifested in the form of government-mandated and media-delivered tyranny.  The average American does not espouse violence or open hostility towards the actions of our elected leaders, but at what point do we refuse the dictates from individuals in power whose morality and motivations are not beyond reproach? In late November 2020, blue state governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginians needn't attend religious services in person -- that doing so in his estimation is unnecessary and a flouting of restrictions established for the protection of the collective good.  "You don't have to sit in a church pew for God to hear you," he said, "This year we need to think about what is truly the most important thing. Is it the worship or the building? For me, God is wherever you are."  What appalling, self-righteous pontificating.  Since when is an entire populace duty-bound to adhere not to our founding documents and our faith in God, but to the whims of individuals who, by their very sanctimonious actions and zeal for unadulterated power represent the embodiment of evil to many conservatives?

Perhaps a new Pilgrimage of Grace, one reborn in the peaceful, faithful hearts of a downtrodden conservative people, is needed. 

Image: Thomas Gun, Sodacan