The Age of Reason

Winter Fundraiser 2016, Day One

Today is the first day of February, and it’s also the first day of our winter fundraiser here at Gates of Vienna.

As I promised last fall, we’re convening right in the heart of the snow and ice season. In fact, we originally intended to start the bleg a week ago, but the blizzard intervened and prompted a postponement. It turned out not to be much of a storm as blizzards go (just 14″, 37cm, and no wind), but all the forecasters were predicting a lot more snow than we eventually got. Better safe than sorry.

We’ve acquired a lot of new readers since our previous fundraiser last October, so a brief explanation of what we’re doing this week is in order. Long-time readers can scroll through this part.

Tip jarI’ve been without full-time employment since I was laid off ten years ago, and for the last six years or so Dymphna and I have managed to eke out a living with these quarterly fundraisers. In the early years we asked our readers whether they preferred that we take on advertising (those ugly “skyscraper” ads; I hate ’em), or do fundraising like NPR affiliates, only without the coffee mugs and t-shirts sent out as prizes to the “prime” donors. Readers were emphatically in favor of the latter method, so here we are with no ads (except for the Amazon book links for our friends). Instead, for one week every quarter we badger our readers for contributions. If you like what you’ve been reading here, please go to the sidebar of the main page and make the Tip Cup clink.

This is how we maintain. We can’t do it without your help.

It’s always a nail-biter when we start one of these — will we pull in enough to keep the wolf from the door? — but after a day or two the generosity of our readers always kicks in. It’s amazing.

One more thing: because the video work done by Vlad Tepes is so important to our mission here, we tithe what we receive to Vlad. If you appreciate his videos, and think he deserves more, you’ll want to visit his site and click his tip button. Video is more effective than text for propagating Counterjihad news and information; that’s why Vlad’s videos are crucial to our movement.

Each quarter Dymphna and I choose a theme for the week and expand on it in various ways for each of the seven fundraiser essays. This week’s theme is “The Age of Reason”, and its topics will be drawn from the lyrics of an Al Stewart song entitled “A Man for All Seasons”, in reference to the play by Robert Bolt.

As you all know by now, Dymphna and I are fans of Al Stewart’s music, and especially his lyrics. In my estimation he was the best lyricist of the latter part 20th century, and the best we have so far in the 21st. In addition to his masterful use of language, he is preoccupied with history, and many of his songs concern historical topics from different eras, from modern to ancient. I’m a history buff myself, and that’s what drew me to his music back in the early 1970s.

“A Man for All Seasons” is from the album Time Passages, which was released in 1978. The title song was made into as a single, and became Mr. Stewart’s greatest popular hit. It could still be found on jukeboxes well into the spring of 1979. The “B” side of “Time Passages” was “A Man for All Seasons”, and I was delighted to be able to put a quarter in the juke and listen to a song about Thomas More and Henry VIII — how cool was that? Anytime I found it on a restaurant jukebox I would dig for a quarter and play it.

The spring of 1979 was also when Dymphna and I first met. On one of our earliest dates we went to a diner with jukeboxes at every table, and sure enough “A Man for All Seasons” was in the song list. I said, “This is a great song — you’ve got to hear it.” And put in the quarter.

Well… That turned out to be one of the reasons that made me certain I had to marry her, because she understood what the song was about. She knew about Thomas More and the Tower of London and the king who demanded that the Lord Chancellor to do what his conscience would not allow. She knew the theological background, and especially the history of the Catholic Church during the Reformation — much more than I knew.

All this in addition to the fact that she knew about Wallace Stevens and Walt Whitman — how could I not marry her?

So, in a way, this could be said to be “our song”. I mentioned that possibility to her when we were discussing this theme last week, and she reminded me that “11:59” by Blondie was another song that was on all the jukeboxes at the same time, and we used to play that one a lot, too. But there’s no way a whole week’s theme could be built on those lyrics, so we’ll stick with Al Stewart.

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Before we get to the music and the lyrics of the song, I must point out that Al Stewart made an error when he referred to “Henry Plantagenet” in the second verse. Henry VIII was, of course, Henry Tudor. His father, Henry VII, was the first king in the Tudor line.

I can see why the songwriter made that error — “Plantagenet” scans: it sounds just right at that point in the song, where “Tudor” would be clunky and useless. Maybe he knew he was wrong, and just left the word in there anyway because it sounded good. Or maybe he was stretching the truth a little bit, since Henry VIII was descended from the Plantagenets on his mother’s side.

Or maybe he was creating a double image, collapsing the events of the 16th century into the cellar of the 12th. The phrase could be taken as a reference to Henry II, who was indeed “Henry Plantagenet”, the first king of the Plantagenet line. The earlier Henry had his own thorn-in-the-side Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket, the “turbulent priest” who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights who believed they were doing exactly what the king wanted them to do.

History is full of resonance and rhyme, and Al Stewart excels at both. Whatever he intended with the lyric, the song is the better for it:

The full lyrics are reproduced below the jump:

A Man for All Seasons
by Al Stewart

What if you reached the age of reason
Only to find there was no reprieve
Would you still be a man for all seasons?
Or would you just have to leave
We measure our days out
In steps of uncertainty
Not turning to see how we’ve come
And peer down the highway
From here to eternity
And reach out for love on the run
While the man for all seasons
Is lost behind the sun

Henry Plantagenet still looks for someone
To bring good news in his hour of doubt
While Thomas More waits in the Tower of London
Watching the sands running out
And measures the hours out
From here to oblivion
In actions that can’t be undone
A sailor through the darkness
He scans the meridian
And caught by the first rays of dawn
The man for all seasons
Is lost beneath the storm

And I should know by now
I should know by now
I hear them call it out all around
Oh, they go
There’s nothing to believe in
Hear them,
Just daydreams, deceiving
They’ll just let you down

What if you reached the age of reason
Only to find there was no reprieve
Would you still be a man for all seasons?
Or would you just disbelieve?
We measure our gains out in luck and coincidence
Lanterns to turn back the night
And put our defeats down to chance or experience
And try once again for the light
Some wait for the waters of fortune to cover them
Some just see the tides of ill chance running over them
Some call on Jehovah
Some cry out to Allah
Some wait for the boats that still row to Valhalla
Well, you should try to accept what the fates are unfolding
While some say they’re sure where the blame should be falling
You look round for maybe a chance of forestalling
But too soon it’s over and done
And the man for all seasons
Is lost behind the sun

We’ll be using various lines from these lyrics as jumping-off points for meditative ramblings in essays posted each morning for the rest of the week. Dymphna is up next tomorrow. While you’re waiting, you can find that tin cup on the main page and make it ring with a groat or two.

Florins and guilders will also be accepted.

The tip jar in the text above is just for decoration. To donate, click the tin cup (or the donate button) on the sidebar of our main page. If you prefer a monthly subscription, click the “subscribe” button.

25 thoughts on “The Age of Reason

  1. [Redacted]
    History has show when you have an internal conflict attack a foreign country.


    The author of this comment noted it was off-topic and then proceeded to post it anyway,

    He was right. It was so off-topic as to be from another universe.
    NOTES From Admin: Please notice (some of) the possible topics on this post:

    1. English history
    2. The uses of power by the state.
    3. ‘enry the Eighth I Am
    4. Thomas More and/or Becket
    5. To whom do we owe ultimate faith or obedience?
    6. Fundraising and its exertions
    7. Vlad Tepes’ wonderful videos.
    8. Existential topic of your choice.
    9. Or, my favorite, Al Stewart…

    As we have repeatedly reminded commenters, OT comments are welcome in the news feed. You might want to try there.

    Through the week of the fundraiser, there will be other posts besides this Main Concern. But for the fundraiser post itself please confine your thoughts, ideas, concerns, contemplations, etc. to the subject at hand.


    • Yes, my comment was not related to the topic discussed.


      I consider this site GoV, as the beacon of enlightenment for what is happening and going to happen in the near future. Make people aware of that hence perhaps avoid disasters. To awaken people from their state of brain-dead condition. Just see Mark Dice videos.

      To make western people stand for a moment ruminate and think:

      What’s EU doing? Their decisions? Their intimate relations with Palestinians and Muslims. EU hostility to Israel. Boycotting . . .etc.

      Which country/ ruler is secretly paving the way for WWIII? You have to be keenly observant to know this? Which ruler’s thinking is reasonable, wise, logical, farsighted? e.g. Czech Republic, Hungary, the wonderful foreign minister of Hungary, and people like Wilders, Tommy Robinson, Trump, Ben Carson.

      Why is Europe invaded by “refugees”? Who caused that? And why western countries have no stomach to take any meaningful decisions. Cannot blame muslims for anything, any crime?

      Do westerners know that western universities are invaded by Saudi Arabia: oil for teaching / spreading Wahhabism in the west. And westerners have no resistance to anything, so they are swayed by anyone/ anything aggressive like islam.

      • I’l let this one through, this time. BUT…

        You don’t seem to have absorbed what Dymphna said, namely that comments like these should be put on a news feed post, when they’re not relevant to the post they’re on. Nothing is off-topic on the news feed.

        Next one: put it on the news feed, not here.

          • There’s one every night just before midnight. If you scroll down on the main page, you’ll always see at least one.

  2. Baron You never cease to amaze me. I have been a fan of Al Stewart since they played “Pretty Golden Hair” during a film clip aired by the BBC in the late 1960’s.

    I have met him a few times, the first time at a gig at the Centre Hotel in Portsmouth when he convinced me to buy the re-mixed, re-released version the first album. Pretty Golden Hair wasn’t on it although it did appear on the original version. The last time I spoke to him was at the reception to mark the 25th Anniversary of “Year of the Cat” at Abbey Road Studios. He is still touring at the age of 71. Pity Thailand is not on his itinerary.

  3. Henry was not anti-Catholic as such, but he was anti-Pope, and at this stage the Pope was the defacto Monarch of a ‘European Union’ under papal (religio-political) suzerainty. Henry VIII staged a violent ‘brexit’ and Sir Thomas Moor was collateral damage.

    Now we have a religio-political (socialist) European state under Merkel (she holds the chequebook) also in urgent need of reformation……

  4. Actually, Henry VIII was descended from the Plantagenets on both sides of his family.

    His father, Henry VII, was the son of Margaret Beaufort, herself a direct descendent of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, and his mistress, Katherine Swynford. They had four children together who, although born bastards, were legitimated by Richard II. Their eldest child, John, was the grandfather of Margaret, and John’s sister, Joan, was the great-grandmother of Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York.

    I must admit, the history of the kings and queens of England is a passion of mine…

      • Chancellor More may have been a man for all seasons, in the full range of behaviors it implies. I note with sadness that More is said to have had a torture chamber in his house for interrogation of heretics, himself confessed to savagely beating a couple of them in front of his family, and delighted in sending a whole slew of heretics to the pyre. Perhaps, like Augustine, he found his once enlightened views a burden in later years?

  5. I have forgotten the name of Al Stewart’s song, but one verse has stood out in my memory for its poignancy, “We were taken prisoner and marched all night into what seemed like forever. When I asked if I’d see my home again the East Wind answered “Never”.”

    • You’re thinking of “Roads to Moscow”, from Past, Present, and Future:

      I’ll never know, I’ll never know
      Why I was taken from the line and all the others
      To board a special train and journey deep into the heart of Holy Russia
      And it’s cold and damp in the transit camp, and the air is still and sullen
      And the pale sun of October whispers the snow will soon be coming
      And I wonder when I’ll be home again and the morning answers, “Never”
      And the evening sighs and the steely Russian skies go on forever

      See: The Road to Berlin

      • Thanks, it is rather poignant. The soldier didn’t really want the war but ended up bearing the consequences of it.

  6. How off-topic is it to note that my young interest in English history was piqued when I first heard that Ford sedans could come either as a Fordor or a Tudor. Some clever soul at Ford, long before it became fashionable to obliterate history as an academic subject, appealing to what he/she thought of as “the people”.

    • “One make to bring them all and in Detroit bind them, in the land of Fordor where the autos lie.” 😉
      Couldn’t pass that one up, thoughyou’ll probably wish I had.

  7. I’d really, really, really like a coffee mug emblazoned with Gates of Vienna! How do I get one!?

  8. The problem with blanket religious tolerance is how we define religion but, more importantly, whether the religion in question is antagonistic to our democratic values. Islam uses Western tolerance to undermine our culture, so what benefit to society is our toleration of it?

    Henry’s confiscation of the Catholic church lands and elevation of himself as head of the Anglican church was entirely politically motivated. His big mistake was then selling off the church lands to fund war, and thus depriving the monarchy of enormous power at the expense of enriching the nobles and landed gentry. It was a mistake that would come to haunt the monarchy during the English Civil War, but, on the other hand, prevented the English monarch from ever accumulating the absolute power of the French kings.

    What can unseat the power of Merkel considering how she has discarded the traditional values of her own society and inflicted misery and barbarism on her own people? At least Henry was a patriot!

    • Henry was said to have substituted a king for a pope so that the church could have the hereditary succession it had always clsimed. No real reform took place. Henry blew his opportunity. Sniff

    • Henry did not need to break with the Catholic church in order to confiscate church lands. The kings of France did very well at that without leaving the Catholic church. The big crunch came for him when the Pope wouldn’t give him an annulment of his marriage (of about 20 years) to Catherine of Aragon (the youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, “Los Reyes Catolicos” of Spain) so that he could marry Anne Boylen. Henry was not very Protestant. He wrote a refutation of Luther (possibly with More’s help), which caused the Pope to give him the title “Defender of the Faith”, which the Monarch’s of England (Great Britain) use to this day.

  9. Please consider listing a mailing address for those of us who wish to send donations by Postal Money Orders.

  10. I will speak with my donation to the bleg and so wish I could do more. Al Stewart, wonderful.

    G of V is a very bright beacon in an ever increasing, dark world.

    I will not clutter this up with any more words except thank you for what you both have done and will continue to do.

  11. Folks, if you don’t understand, this song is an ode to existentialism. Reason with a heavy dose of nihilsm. If you don’t know: The title, first and second lines of the song are a direct to Jean Paul Sartre’s famous novels, “The Age of Reason” and “The Reprieve”.

    It’s not a bad song, but… Sartre, who was quite a bit more antifascist than he was anticommunist. Yes he was the strongest French voice against antisemitism in his time. He was largely fair. But I’m not sure what he would say now. No, I think he would not be against the mass Muslim migration; he would fault the people who were, and it would just be another hardship that civilization had to deal with.

    Sartre’s novel writing skills are excellent, but his outlook is bleak, and the novels are absolutely anti-religious, and hold nothing sacred. Same as in this song.

    Really, this song is a cheap rip-off of a better written song, which is “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire. You can tell by the run-on rhyming of the last couple stanzas. I’m sure you’ve heard it…

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