Posts Tagged ‘law’

Perhaps it is time to lighten the early-year gloom and have a peep at another world.  Perhaps it is time for a fairy story ; a proper fairy story, not one of those contrived gloopy things all full of gossamer wings and funny hats.  Writing a proper fairy story is not nearly as easy as the children’s writers make out.  It requires discipline and knowledge – for it is about finding ways of entering Faerie, and that is a serious business.  One might say that Faerie is a state of mind ; but that is not strictly entirely true.  It is true to say that one must enter into a certain state of mind in order to gain entry to Faerie.

To gain Faerie it is not enough to enter into a particular state of conscious awareness ; one must also have the right state of heart and one must also have a purpose,- but that purpose is unlikely to be one’s own, though it might seem so.  There are a number of ways in, some good and some evil ; but all are perilous.

Faerie is not a ‘place’ in the conventional use of that word ; nor is it merely a state of mind ; it is certainly not a place of the mere imagination.  It is, perhaps, a way of seeing the world ; a way, indeed, of seeing a much bigger world.  So one does not have to travel far to find Faerie (or for Faerie to find one).  It can be found at the far ends of the Earth, but just as easily at the end of one’s lane ; or in one’s garden, however small or large.

In ordinary consciousness we are educated to believe very substantially that everything in nature has a cause but nothing has a reason.  In Faerie, everything in nature has both a cause and a reason ; and that partly explains why the Laws of Faerie seem so strange and arbitrary to us.  Faerie is primarily a moral place and its laws are moral laws.

It is a pity that people started to write fairy stories for children ; for a false picture has grown up from that.  The people and other creatures of  Faerie are not usually diminutive.  And they are not confined to their homeland ; some may enter our world at will, some by invitation only, and some are sent here.  Those of them who know our world will dress and speak as we do.  And they may be here to do good or to do evil.  But those who reveal themselves are generally here to do good, though they usually keep their business to themselves.

So, there you go.  Well, there you go a-writing about Faerie.  But, to understand more, it is better to read more ; and you could do no better than to read some of Tolkien’s books and essays (easily Googled).  On entering Faerie, he wrote, “One never knew what one would find, and the sheer beauty of even the smallest thing would overwhelm any mere human visitor, no matter how saved and sanctified.”  For Tolkien, Faerie is a sacramental understanding of life: Grace abounds, but we usually ignore it, being more enticed by the things of this world.


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As a child I used to have a volume of Emerson’s essays.  I probably still have it somewhere.  One of the essays was called, I think, The dinner party.   In it we are treated to the account Emerson gave of one of his guests, who came close to putting the company to sleep with his advertisements for his own righteousness.  Those who believed him could hardly have met a more honourable man.  But the dry-witted Emerson wrote a true appraisal later, “The more he spoke of his honour the faster we counted our spoons.”

In what I imagine was the hey-day of the concept of honour – in the days of feudal rule, in those violent days when we were trying to civilise ourselves,  the law allowed a procedure known as ‘trial by battle’, through which a plaintiff might avenge a wrong that arose dishonourably.  I once read an account of such a battle that took place in France in about the thirteenth century.  The plaintiff, who had no social rank, accused a baron of having dishonoured his wife.  The Court was so impressed by the complaint that they promoted the commoner especially so that he would have sufficient degree to qualify him to fight a baron.  The fight was bloody indeed.  It began on horse-back with lances ; proceeded to standing ground with swords ; and finished in the dust with knives.  So appalled were the spectators (who included the King) that trial by battle was prohibited forthwith.

We might be pleased to note that the young man, on behalf of his wife, won the battle.  But perhaps we might also be pleased that the young man did the manly thing ; he killed the seducer, but did not murder his wife.

How different from the so-called honour killings we read of today.  How many young women have been murdered by their husbands, brothers, uncles and fathers?  Nobody knows ; we only know that it goes on.  And the law seems powerless.

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Mr Pengelly,  is a ‘faith healer’ from Leominster.   He has produced a number of letters of appreciation from his patients who thank him for lessening the symptoms of their condition and, in some cases, of curing them.  The law is not happy with this state of affairs and has let its displeasure be known by accusing Mr Pengelly of violating the Cancer Act 1939, which states that it is illegal to advertise offers to treat cancer.  Quite where this Act leaves the tens of thousands of medical doctors we have is uncertain ; but it is certain that the faith healer has been charged.  All this, of course, resurrects a difficulty faced by people of a number of religions and philosophies.

The difficulty for Christians is revealed when one considers the teaching of their Founder.  For did not Jesus heal the sick ; did He not also resurrect the dead? did He not also say to his disciples, “These things that I do, you also shall do”?  Are we not charged with living a life ‘in imitation of Christ’?

Of course, we may choose to live our lives in imitation of Christ (or even of Mr Pengelly) and never advertise any successes in healing (however modest) that we might claim.  But wouldn’t that be just a weaselly way of circumventing the 1939 Act?  Also there is no shred of doubt that faith heals – or that healing can be received through faith.  Are the gifted healers to hide their lights under their bushels?  Who gains from that?

It goes without saying that our all-knowing doctors will point to the numbers of quack ‘healers’ around as evidence that faith doesn’t work.  Sure.  But it’s as well to remember that there are fake ten-pound notes around, too ; but they wouldn’t exist unless there were genuine ten-pound notes also.

But there are also broader and deeper points to be made, and I will return to these another time.

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