Thursday, July 14, 2022

‘Jerusalem’ is a rousing anthem – but who knows what the words mean?

The author below is very learned but seems to be unaware of the British Israel conviction. That conviction was common among the congregation at my old Presbyterian church in Ann st., Brisbane back in the 1960s, though I doubt that it had any sort of official church acceptance.

There are varieties of the conviction but the basic theme is that the British are the true heirs of the Israel of old and that Jesus at some stage visited England in recognition of that. Blake was clearly of that conviction. It was a common conviction in the 19th century. Blake was simply reflectiong on his religious convictions in the poem

The spontaneous mass adoption of deep feeling is always interesting. Jason Whittaker has a very good subject, in the journey of the cryptic lyric section of the preface to William Blake’s incomprehensible epic Milton, written and illustrated between 1804 and 1810, to its becoming the de facto national anthem of England. ‘And did those feet…’ only took on its familiar title ‘Jerusalem’ (which has nothing to do with Blake’s poem entitled ‘Jerusalem’) after it was set to music by Hubert Parry on 10 March 1916. The following day, Parry handed over his composition to his colleague Walford Davies, saying insouciantly: ‘Here’s a tune for you, old chap. Do what you like with it.’ Since then we have indeed done what we like with it, and the story Whittaker tells goes in a number of surprising directions.

The short poem alone was slow to catch on (the preface wasn’t even included in all the copies of Milton that Blake printed) and didn’t reach much of an audience until the 1860s, when Swinburne expressed his puzzlement about it. Michael Rossetti then printed it as part of an edition in the 1870s, and it started to become more familiar when a Christian socialist editor of the Church Reformer in the following decade adopted the last stanza as the motto of the journal. Up to that point no one had recorded the folk tradition that Jewish merchants in Jesus’s time had come to Cornwall to buy tin, and that Jesus’s father might have brought him to England. So there is no evidence that Blake had done anything but make it up out of his head.

But what does the poem mean? Even now few can come up with a convincing explication, and the dizzying academic ones seem to me quite wrong. Whittaker himself, a sane and intelligent writer, thinks that the figure in the first stanza isn’t Jesus but Joseph of Arimathea. But how can that be, since only Jesus could be said to have a ‘countenance divine’?

Most interpreters have also missed the point that the speaker proposes to engage both in ‘mental fight’ and proper physical violence where necessary: ‘Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand’ doesn’t mean a battle merely of ideas. And we think of the ‘dark satanic mills’ as factories – but they can only have been watermills or windmills, and perhaps not even that. All in all, the poem, which hardly any critic attempted to elucidate until the 1950s, is a perfect one for the English spirit: cryptic, inward, keen on outbreaks of violence and both utterly abstruse and slightly hearty. Blake wrote it shortly after being prosecuted for gross sedition and starting a punch-up with a soldier.

Parry produced the famous setting in the middle of the first world war and it caught on like wildfire. He was one of the internationally minded creative figures whose hearts were broken by the conflict. His style was formed by Brahms, and he described himself in 1915 as having long been a ‘pro-Teuton’. His music occupies such an official status, including the great coronation motet ‘I Was Glad’, that it’s surprising to learn that he wasn’t an Edwardian imperialist in the Elgar vein. ‘Jerusalem’ – as it was now called – was taken up by mystically inclined imperialists like Francis Younghusband, who wanted to ‘rouse men and women for enthusiastic service in the sacred cause’. But Parry had other ideas, conducting it in March 1917 at a meeting for women’s suffrage, and, wonderfully, handing the setting’s copyright to Millicent Fawcett and the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Other idealists, like the early pan-Zionist Israel Zangwill, also adopted it for their own causes.

It’s a devastatingly good tune, planned for ordinary singers to sing in unison, in crowds. It’s actually rather hard to sing, covering an octave and a half, like ‘The Star Spangled Banner’, and has some real subtleties that often get missed in performance, such as tiny differences between the stanzas. (The emphatic crotchet D in the stanza’s ‘O clouds unfold’ was described by Parry’s contemporary as ‘the one note and one moment of his song that he treasured’.) On the whole it’s one of those tunes that have risen to national eminence not through official sponsorship but through profound collective emotion. If it never becomes an official English national anthem, it will still be sung at moments of deep feeling, like ‘Va Pensiero’ in Italy or ‘Waltzing Matilda’ in Australia.

Since its writing, the great setting has been used in two more or less incompatible ways rubbing along quite happily. There are the English loyalists and patriots, many unobjectionably respectable. George V complained when it was left out of his jubilee concert in 1935, telling his officials that ‘if there’s no room for it, I shall go down myself to the platform and whistle it’. Felpham, in West Sussex, where Blake wrote the poem, voted overwhelmingly for Brexit, and that seems perfectly in tune with one reading of it. But that side of its supporters also extends to some fairly repulsive nationalists, from whom both Parry and Blake would have run a mile.

On the other hand there are the liberals and old-fashioned English socialists, from the suffragettes, through Clement Attlee’s mission to build the New Jerusalem, right up to Billy Bragg and Jez Butterworth, whose hit play Jerusalem shows just how much heat there is left in the sense of nation and England.

Somewhere in this wide spectrum lies its traditional use by the Women’s Institute and the Last Night of the Proms. The BNP leader Nick Griffin also persuaded his supporters to sing it when he was arrested for racial offences. More recently it has become a central point in the long, painful debate about how to make English nationalism an open, engaged, respectable thing – and large questions arise in the last chapters of Whittaker’s study.

You can quote the poem endlessly. There are at least ten phrases in it that have been used, often repeatedly, as titles for other things, from ‘Chariots of Fire’ to ‘Nor Shall My Sword’. You can make it support your position without troubling to find out whether it has positions of its own, or oppose it for the same reason. The hapless artist who called it ‘jingoistic’ and the Church of England vicar who amusingly refused to have it at wedding services because what it said wasn’t true are equally good witnesses to the power of the poem and its music.

Much of the latter half of Whittaker’s book is spent tracking down some extraordinarily obscure renditions of Parry’s setting. I particular discommend an ‘electronica dance version’ by Arte Atomica, released in 2015, though there are others that run it close for sheer horror, including Errollynn Wallen’s priggishly disapproving rude-noise arrangement for the Proms.

Jerusalem is a wonderfully researched, enjoyable work about a cultural phenomenon of the utmost familiarity, and it performs its task very successfully. But the more one considers the poem, the stranger it seems – like staring at a familiar word until it starts to look like nonsense. Whose feet? What bow? Why is it burning? And why is a sort of metaphysical valet being told to bring imaginary and incendiary weapons? Whittaker proves an excellent, lucid guide to realms of almost unimagined obscurity. ‘Jerusalem’ might prove a great improvement on ‘God Save the Queen’ as the English anthem – but don’t ask anyone who sings it to tell you what it means.


SCOTUS v. CFPB Could Restore Self-Government

The Consumer Financial Protection Board was designed as a throne for Elizabeth Warren but she was thwarted

In the Dobbs case, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) sent abortion back to the states. In West Virginia v. EPA, the high court tackled the administrative state. In the wake of those landmarks, a key case to watch is Consumer Financial Protection Board v. All America Check Cashing, now in the Fifth Circuit.

“A critical issue yet undecided in this appeal is whether the historically unique structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau violates the Constitution because its funding is doubly removed from congressional review,” states an opinion by Judge Edith H. Jones. She holds that “the CFPB’s funding structure violates the separation of powers principle enshrined in the Appropriations Clause,” but there is more to it.

“Created in 2009 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is an administrative agency expressly designed to answer to neither of the politically accountable branches,” Jones explains. “Unlike other agencies, Congress put the CFPB’s staggering amalgam of legislative, judicial and executive power in the hands of a single Director serving a five-year term and removable by the President only for cause; and Congress insulated the agency from the ordinary congressional appropriations process.”

The CFPB can conduct investigations, issue subpoenas and “seek a dizzying array of penalties” including civil penalties of up to $1,190, 546 per day.” If that doesn’t deserve review by the SCOTUS it is hard to imagine what might.

As Adam Mill notes at American Greatness, the CFPB is funded by the Federal Reserve, not through appropriations. Mill argues that the true reason for opposition to Brett Kavanaugh was his opposition to “administrative law taking on the same level of import as legislative pronouncements.” As we noted in 2019, Kavanaugh was already on record that, aside from the president, the CFPB boss is the most powerful person in the federal government.

As this column noted in 2012, the CFPB was created during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, not a good time to expand government. The CFPB was based on the assumption that even informed consumers were unable to look out for themselves, and the new agency duplicated the work of existing bank regulators. As Mill explains, the CFPB is hardly the only “ghost funding” federal agency.

The federal Department of Justice uses “assets forfeited by suspected criminals to pay its own expenses and pay bounties to local law enforcement. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) “confiscates billions in forfeited funds without every charging owners with a crime.”

In a system of self-government, Mill contends, elected members of government must control the levers of power, especially the money that funds operations. Ghost funding “severs the link between the ballot box and the terrifying power of the federal government.” It would be “almost impossible to overstate” the importance of a SCOTUS decision striking down ghost funding federal agencies. We will have to see what happens.


Tulsi Gabbard on "Women"

The former U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard is about to get slapped with the ridiculous label of ‘TURF’ by the left but from the looks of things, she doesn’t give a damn.

Women are being trampled by the trans movement and anyone who attempts to stand up for women’s rights gets demolished or canceled by the deranged left.

She discussed in an interview with Newsmax’s Greta Van Susteren how several female swimmers who unfortunately had to swim with Lia Thomas were subjugated to competing against or with a man who arrogantly knows he’s a man and brazenly bragged about it in front of real women.

“In the in the women’s locker room Lia Thomas was exposing male genitalia and boasting about how [he is] still dating women and going out with women and these girls felt sexually harassed and threatened, and went and reported to their administrators and were told to be silent,” Gabbard said on the newscast.

She also criticized the poor leadership of the Biden administration, which has been a big proponent of blurring the lines between the genders and allowing men like Thomas to infiltrate women’s sports.

“You see the Biden administration really rejecting the objective reality that there are biological differences between a man and a woman of male and a female,” Gabbard said, adding that she wants to stand with female “brave athletes” and speak out against the Biden Administration and others who are “hurting girls and women.”

She shared the interview on Twitter, writing:

"Denying the biological differences between men and women not only threatens women’s rights, it threatens our safety.
Not only are we shutting women out of competitive sports, we are also shaming girls into silence in the face of abuse and harassment.”

Lia Thomas is just one of the many male athletes taking advantage of the trans movement —No matter how he identifies. In MMA a trans person named Fallon Fox has demolished female fighters, nearly killing one woman.

Yet, feminists are all too afraid to speak out against his brutality because they don’t want to be called ‘TURFS’.

Just in case you didn’t know, TURF stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminism” or as I like to call it—Standing up for biological women no matter how much it hurts their feelings


Starbucks, Known for Encouraging Riots, Pulls Out of Dem Run Cities Amid String of Bathroom Crimes

Two years ago, Starbucks supported violent Black Lives Matter protesters as they rioted across America’s major cities. Now, the coffee giant is being forced to close 16 stores in Democrat-run cities because of skyrocketing crime rates.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Starbucks announced its plans to close six stores in Los Angeles, six stores in Seattle, two in Portland, Oregon, and one each in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. All of the closings will go into effect by the end of July.

The corporation cited reports from its employees about criminal activity in the stores, including drug use in the bathrooms, as a reason for the closings.

“Like so much of the world right now, the Starbucks business as it is built today is not set up to fully satisfy the evolving behaviors, needs and expectations of our partners or customers,” chief executive Howard Schultz wrote Monday in a letter to employees, whom the company calls “partners.”

Even in this statement, Schultz utterly failed to hold criminals accountable for their actions. Instead, he spit out a word salad as an attempt to explain the closings.

The fact that Starbucks executives do not want to call out crime in some of the bluest cities in America should not come as a surprise. In a May 2020 letter to employees, then-President and CEO Kevin Johnson described a “partner forum” that took place in response to the death of George Floyd.

“During this afternoon’s 90-minute forum, Zing Shaw, our global chief inclusion and diversity officer at Starbucks, shared Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote: ‘A riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?'” Johnson wrote.

“She stressed the importance of us listening to each other and the power of acknowledging the work that we need to do as a country and as a society.”

While the letter does not explicitly call for riots, it could be interpreted as condoning riots performed by people who feel their voices are not being heard.

Furthermore, Starbucks amended a longstanding policy against political or religious attire for on-duty employees in June of 2020 to allow them to wear “Black Lives Matter” paraphernalia, Yahoo Finance reported.

The corporation also designed special “Black Lives Matter” shirts for employees to wear that included the slogan, “No Justice No Peace,” according to CNBC.

That would appear to be a call for violence, which is the opposite of peace.

According to USA Today, Black Lives Matter rioters caused at least $2 billion of damage in 2020. By promoting this organization, Starbucks was at best ignoring, and at worst condoning, these criminal actions.

But now that the crime in America’s bluest cities has made its way into the corporation’s stores, Starbucks has suddenly decided it can no longer tolerate it.

In addition to the 16 store closings, Starbucks said it would allow store managers to close restrooms and limit seating to address safety issues. If needed, managers are even permitted to dial back operations.

Some of the cities where Starbucks is closing stores have seen high-profile crimes in recent weeks. Last weekend in Los Angeles, Olympic silver medalist Kim Glass was allegedly assaulted by a homeless man with a metal object.

In addition, 73-year-old James Lambert was allegedly beaten to death by a group of juveniles on June 24 in Philadelphia.

As long as Democrats continue to be soft on crime, it will continue to rise. The sooner Starbucks takes a stand against the woke left, the better off they will be.




No comments: