The 17th Century

The Popish Plot Playing Cards

They were shocking, graphic, and very political. Anyone courageous enough to host a night of with the so-called “Popish Plot Playing Cards,” would have a stimulating evening.  The cards pictorially recounted the presumed attempt by Roman Catholics to overthrow the government and kill the king, King Charles II.    The so-called “Popish Plot” itself caused hysteria …

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A Portrait of Heresy

It’s an imaginary scene. It’s the late 4th or early 5th century. It’s the south coast of England,  the Thames-side city of Londinium.  A monk has boarded a Roman ponto. Grasping the spar of its large square sail to balance himself,  he looked back on the Roman settlement. It gave him an odd feeling of …

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The Evils of Mincemeat

It could have your reported to the authorities.   Hanging mistletoe, stringing garlands,  performing a Christmas play,  closing your shop over Christmas,  and attending or presiding at a  Christmas service could each get you in hot water.  A simple two word message was sent out across the land courtesy of town criers –  “No Christmas. No …

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Is it an Altar or a Table?

The angry clash of the Celtic Sea and Atlantic Ocean was never out of earshot in Helston, Cornwall, one of England’s westward most parishes. Turbulence also marked its history. It was the dawn of some radical liturgical changes in the Church of England, and Helston wouldn’t like it.  Statues were to go, an English-language liturgy …

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Sanctuary – an ancient Church Privilege

They ran for their lives,  scrambling through the Devonshire sheep-paths, the cry of the sheriff’s horn behind them.  Adam, the Miller, his wife Matilda and their two sons grasped every whisper of freedom possible,  Back in the village, Stephen de la Done lay  a grotesque heap on the mill floor.  The miller’s son had delivered …

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Susanna Wesley, Pioneer in Women’s Ministry

She grit her teeth. The curate‘s sermon was another diatribe that was  Biblically weak, critical of the poor, and took cheap-shots at her husband, the parish priest who was off in London.   What could she do? In 1712, the Church of England forbade women to preach and lead services, however Susanna Wesley cared about the …

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Isaac Watts – The Little Giant of Church Music

The jockey-sized teen winced. Why were worshippers forced to sing  such trite and dreary paraphrases of  the Psalms?  Anything had to be better than Ye monsters  of the bubbling deep, your Master’s praises spout; Up from the sands ye coddlings peep and wag your tails about. The lyrics were dreadful, and so walking home from …

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