I just finished watching A Man for All Seasons, about the conflict between St. Thomas More and Henry VIII. It was a good movie to watch while sick in bed. The kids even sat and watched it with me.
As you know, Sir Thomas More refused to swear an oath to King Henry’s supremacy in England over the Church and to the validity of his divorce and remarriage.
Some of the lines from the movie stuck with me...
Speaking to his beloved daughter, Meg, as she pleads with him to take the oath to save his life:
Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it's God's part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. If I can take the oath, I will.
And, to his biographer and son-in-law-to-be:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
St. Thomas More is a saint I really like but then don't totally understand. I recently read More's Utopia, which wobbles back and forth between communistic ideas and a criticism of the same. I'd like to think I knew where More stood, but the questions will have to remain until I can reread the book or my kids get old enough to explain it to me.