I've been thinking a lot lately about Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII, Edward VI and eventually ("Bloody") Mary Tudor. Don't ask me why. I love this image at right (click on it for a larger version), though, from John Foxe's The Actes and Monuments..., aka The Book of Martyrs, a text that became crucial to the survival of the Anglican Church during its post-Henrician turmoil. Oddly enough, between Cranmer, Foxe and the eventual translators-writers of the King James Bible, you essentially but not completely have the three pillars upon which the Anglican house somehow managed to remain standing: the English Book of Common Prayer, The Book of the Martyrs and the English Bible. (Crude and grossly simplified, yes, but not untrue, I think.) Cranmer reminds me, though, that when all is said and done-- and the dances of pragmatism and peaceability have been called capriciously to an end-- you can still choose how you're going to burn, at least on mundaner planes. Somehow, I find that wonderfully steeling, especially when the gloves are off. Now what's that line from Mr Eliot again about ashes on an old man's sleeve?
(Post-script: Not sure about the title of this entry? Then see here.)