Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Some Numbers For your Edification

Currently on Facebook

8,638 people like Vision Forum.

There are over 1.5 million homeschoolers in this country.

Even with another 1000 or so not on Facebook, not even 10% of the homeschool population likes Vision Forum.

*normal people rejoice now*

Isn’t that the most encouraging thing you’ve heard in a long time? :-)

Random note: Most of the recent questions and posts on the VF Facebook wall are written by women. I thought men were supposed to be leading this? Hmmmm…. *weird*

Also, on Facebook,

The Visionary Daughters – So Much More group has only 232 members.

The two So Much More pages only have 32 likes between them.

The National Center for Family Integrated Churches is only liked by 1,477 people.

I think this shows what I’ve been thinking for a long time, to quote George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, “You sit around here and spin your little web and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well it doesn't, Mr. Potter. In the whole vast configuration of things I'd say you're nothing but a scurvy little spider." Amen.



Friday, April 22, 2011

Anne the Queen

This article by Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin is from 2009 and I remember seeing it then and thinking I should respond to it…. Then I forgot about it. However, I found it again recently and decided that I should correct the errors found in it. I am often annoyed with how badly history is portrayed, researched, and documented in patriarchal circles. See: Of Daughters of Destiny and Watered Down History My favourite history professor would either laugh or cry if I gave her the Botkin’s article. I’m a student of history and Tudor England my favourite area of concentration. I’m aghast at the lack of historical knowledge and research shown by the Botkin sisters in their discussion of Anne Boleyn. (And of course, there’s the all too common dig about Disney…. :-( *sigh* Oh well) Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about Jeanne D’Albret, to comment on the treatment of her and I don’t have time yet to dig deeper. Maybe this summer.... By the way, don't just take my word for all this stuff on Anne Boleyn...look her up in several different biographies and see what you think. :-)

First, the Botkin girls' article quotes no sources, except John Foxe (and who knows what book of his they are referring to because they don’t say), and this seriously wounds its credibility. Any historical article must have sources! If you don’t cite your sources, it is considered plagiarism. Secondly, the facts are just plain stretched or missing.

“During her years of education in France, through exposure to men such as Jacques LeFevre and Guillaume Farel, Anne’s love for the pure gospel was fanned into flame, and she returned to England an ardent reformer during a time when England was violently persecuting its Protestants.”

Even the year of Anne Boleyn’s birth is still a matter of debate among historians and we don’t know when Anne went to France (and/or the Netherlands) or when she returned to England. One of my best sources: The Life of Anne Boleyn by Phillip W. Sergeant devotes almost a whole chapter to discussing the different ideas and dates assigned to Anne’s time in France. We only know that she was there at some point in her childhood. It would have been hard to return and be an ardent reformer if she was only 12 or 13! And historians aren’t even sure where in France Anne was or what she did while there and it is pure fancy to say that she was exposed to reformers because we simply do not know.

“Upon being crowned queen, Anne used her position to promote and defend reformers such as William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Matthew Parker, and Miles Coverdale, to encourage the translation and dissemination of Scripture into English, and to make England a refuge for persecuted Protestants from around Europe. The martyrologist John Foxe called Anne “a special comforter and aider of all the professors of Christ’s gospel… What a zealous defender she was of Christ’s gospel all the world doth know, and her acts do and will declare to the world’s end.”

Ehh… sorry… we don’t know if she did that either. While she did authorize an English translation of the Bible before she fell from favour1 and gave to the poor, we don’t really know very much beyond these few facts. Anne was a protestant and could have been saved by grace through faith. I like to think that she was but we honestly don’t know. Almost none of her writings exist anymore. John Foxe describes her as a martyr but that’s really best left to one’s own conclusions. Most historians agree that Anne died because her husband wanted to marry someone else―not directly due to her faith.

“Brought down by a conspiracy of her papist enemies, who called her “the principle cause of the spread of Lutheranism in this country,” Anne was beheaded on false charges of adultery, incest, witchcraft, and “high treason against the King’s person.”

Again, no sources are cited, even for direct quotes. (I looked up the first quote and it is credited to the Spanish Ambassador who obviously hated Anne for supplanting the Spanish Catherine of Aragon.) Again, Anne was arrested because her husband wanted to marry someone else and decided to fabricate charges of adultery. I’m not sure what papist enemies they are speaking of, for sure Anne did have enemies, but evidence is scarce in showing that they were solely responsible for her death. Henry VIII was said to be “the most dangerous and cruel man in the world”2 and Anne’s death was entirely his doing.

“- From the last letter Anne wrote to her husband Henry VIII, while imprisoned in the Tower. This letter was recently found among the personal papers of Thomas Cromwell, likely to have never reached Henry.”

This letter, quoted in the article, is regarded by many historians to be a fraud. And it wasn’t found recently either; Sergeant knew of it when he wrote Anne’s biography in 1924 and he says in a postscript, “It may be noted that I have made no reference, in the account of Anne Boleyn’s last days, to her alleged letter to Henry VIII from the Tower. All evidence for its authenticity is lacking, neither the handwriting nor the style being Anne’s.”3

Anne Boleyn is a fascinating figure in history but her record is not as pure as Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin would like to make it. Yes, Anne was a reformer but she did not accomplish much on her own. God did use her in extraordinary ways but I’m not so sure she sought these opportunities out. Yes, Henry VIII broke with Rome to marry her and then he tolerated protestant views but he never truly embraced them. Anne mistreated Mary, her stepdaughter, and caused the annulment between Henry and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Also, Anne was likely sleeping with Henry before they were married because Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I) was born only six months after their wedding. Also, this article mentions nothing of Anne’s scheming father who used his daughters to climb the social ladder. Even Anne’s own headstrong personality and defiant voice have been silenced. In any case, Anne Boleyn is not someone I would expect the Botkin girls to like very much. Maybe it’s good that they can see past her faults but I wish they wouldn’t try so hard to make her good. The Botkin girls greatly stretched the truth in this article and completely made Anne Boleyn into a martyr of the reformation. It’s a great example of hagiography or “treating its subject with undue reverence.”4 It would be nice to see more historical method in this work and a quest for accuracy and balanced portrayals of historic figures. I can only hope the Botkin’s other historical endeavours are accurate but somehow I doubt that they are. :-/ (That’s kind of scary when you think that they sell history CD's and etc.) I know from experience… I can catch myself trying to make historical figures “good” and it's a silly thing to do. When you start twisting history to suit your own ideas, it can be difficult to stop.


Works Cited
1. Sergeant, Phillip W. The Life of Anne Boleyn. Hutchinson & Co., London. 1924. Print. Page 262.
2. Weir, Allison. The Six Wives of Henry VIII Grove Press, 1991. Print. Page 283
3. Sergeant. Page 309.
4. Encarta English Dictionary.