Monday, August 14, 2023

Squaring the Circle

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Wales. On the way, I arranged to visit Temple Church in London, a place I have been trying to get to for many years. It was well worth it.

Put aside all the silliness you have heard about the Templar Knights, even Monty Python. They were deadly serious. And for all the blood and error, they were searching for and attempting to establish a concept. It was in the round church quartered by the Cross. Temple Church is in a circle based on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The site of the Resurrection of Jesus was considered to be the center of the earth to the medieval Christian mind. Everything radiated from there.

In 1215, powerful Barons in England threatened King John with the loss of his life and kingdom with some very good reasons. And with no candidate at the time to replace him as king, the Baron's came up with concepts instead. The most important being: No. One. Is. Above. The. Law. And they made John sign a Charter to that effect with 25 of them as guarantors to remove the king if he failed to live up to the Charter. Well, fail he did as did many kings that followed. But the principles were enshrined as the faults of the Charter slowly worked themselves out over the centuries. This is an ongoing process. 

The King of England issued a patent to the Templars that they would perpetually host those studying the Laws of England in the precincts that became the Inns of Court and the center of the Common Law and Constitutional government that, once again, in spite of all its faults, has spread throughout the world. While Magna Carta was sealed at Runnymede just outside London (near modern day Heathrow Airport), the terms of the Great Charter were negotiated at the Temple with chief man, William Marshall, the "Greatest Knight" who had served Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart, John, and eventually the next king, Henry III.

I was pleasantly surprised to find numerous references to the Constitution of the United States in the Temple. Several of its signers were members of the Inner or Middle Temple Bar. There is a reproduction of the U.S. Declaration of Independence on display in the church. 

World War II resulted from the delusions of a weird little man who somehow believed he was part of a "master race" of Northern Europeans entitled to world rule and the destruction of undesirable (in his warped, evil mind) human beings. He had successfully addressed economic, social, and patriotic needs and sentiments of his people. I suppose that a lot of them supported him because of his "policies." Oddly, he believed that in a war he alone started, he could win by ignoring all the rules of civilized nations and destroy the will of his enemies by attacking civilian populations.  

On the night of 10 May, 1941, a bomb dropped from Nazi heaven above started a fire in the circular church and it collapsed on itself destroying nearly everything. A major effort after the war restored much of the historical treasure recreating the well documented spiritual sanctuary with some of the same materials as the original. A copy of Magna Carta had been in the United Stated on loan from the United Kingdom in 1939. The United States worked with the British Ambassador to preserve that copy in the Library of Congress and after the U.S. entered the war, in Fort Knox for the duration of the war.

Here's the thing. History is still happening right along with our own lives. At this moment in time the principles of the Great Charter are still in contest. Can a man be so powerful, so popular, so important, so well within his rights to spout nonsense that no laws apply to him? We shall soon see. 

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