Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Apokalupsis (part 2) - Where's Waldo?

everystockphoto.com/Where's Waldo

Where's Waldo?

Sound like an exercise in finding this guy with round glasses wearing a stocking cap and a red and white striped shirt - such as this game  - Where's Waldo or in these books -  Waldo Wiki - Where's Waldo?.

*  *  *

But during the12th and 13th centuries, "Where's Waldo?" most likely could have been asked by an inquisitor ferreting out heretics.

And for this post, I will try to answer the question -

Who's Waldo?
Peter Waldo, that is

For the story of the medieval Peter Waldo (1130 - 1217), who became a pain in the side of a politicized Church, check out this snippet of a lecture by Bruce Gore:

(reference:  http://youtu.be/eGy2AY0iaHg )

High Points:

* Peter Waldo was a rich French merchant born in the middle of the 12th century

Peter Waldo was raised a Roman Catholic in Lyon, France.  His family had benefited from the opening of trade to the East a result of the Crusades.  He was part of the rising middle class and its concentration of wealth.  His family was cloth merchants and gave him a comfortable life.  Part of that advantage was that he had an education. 

[further references: The Dynamics of Christian Mission: History Through a Missiological Perspective - Paul Everett Pierson - Google Books]

* Peter Waldo had three major life changing events in his early thirties

1.  At a garden party, a friend and fellow merchant dropped dead in front of him.  This gave Peter Waldo a sense of mortality as he wondered where his friend ended up.

2.  A travelling minstrel told the story of St. Alexis, who had heard a sermon on  Jesus' parable of the rich young ruler.  Alexis had sold all his wealth, gave it away, and became a monk, serving the poor. This story got to Peter's conscious as he became aware of his wealth while surrounded by conspicuous poverty. 

3.  The Pope was about to make an announcement about transubstantiation.  If you denied the doctrine, you would be executed.  Peter saw this as a move away from a moral authority to a coercive authority that seemed so wrong.  It did not make sense to pound people into submission instead of appealing to their heart.

[further references: The Fourth Lateran Council - Dr. Herb Samworth Who Was Peter Waldo?]

* Peter had the New Testament translated into French-Provencal 

Since Peter did not know languages of Greek or Latin, he hired men to translate the New Testament into the local dialect so he could read it.  To translate Holy Scriptures to the vernacular was forbidden during this time.

[further references:  Waldo Sought a Truer Faith: Medieval HistoryA Prophet Without Honor - Christian History & Biography - ChristianityTodayLibrary.com]

* Peter sounds like a proto-Lutheran ... one of the first lights of the Reformation

After reading the Bible for himself, Peter was struck by the conspicuous difference of the flavor of the Christian religion as described the New Testament versus the flavor of the religion disseminated by the powers that were at that time.  He was convinced of some great departure from the proper path.  

Peter followed Jesus parable of the rich young ruler; hence he sold his goods, gave them to the poor and adopt a different life.  He went about preaching from his newly translated French Bible to the people of his town the message of the simplicity of the Gospel. 

In his message, he emphasizes faith in Christ and the simplicity of life.  He challenged his peers not to get too obsessed with comfortable living, and not forget the needs of those surrounding them.

[further references: Peter WaldoWaldensians or Vaudois: The Poor of Lyons]

* Peter questioned authority

At his own peril, Peter questioned the doctrines of Purgatory and transubstantiation, which he could not find in the Bible.  He saw these doctrines as coercive devices (threats) to manipulate the submission and obedience of the people.  The powerful extorted the responses desired by the Church, but bypassed the hearts, the minds, the conscious.

Peter had called the leadership of the Church at that time was the harlot as in Revelation.  (And he didn't win many friends doing that.  Reference: Rome and the Harlot of Revelation 17 | Roman Catholicism)  Thus he was greeted with mockery, ridicule, dismissal as he preached his message.  This caused a conflict with the Church.  And the archbishop of Lyon moved forces to have Peter arrested and tried for his crimes.

[further references:  Waldenses (religious movement) -- Encyclopedia Britannica]

* Peter's followers, the Waldensians, spread the Gospel in the vernacular

Peter's followers went out two by two preaching the message.  They came to towns like peddlers, tucking in text from the Bible in the vernacular in their wares.

[further references:  The Christian History of France | Christian Assemblies International]

* Peter took his defense of his message to the Pope

Before he could be arrested, Peter went to Rome for a hearing with the Pope.  He hoped to make his case and convince them of the truth of what he was saying.  And the Pope did convene a gathering so Peter's case could be heard.

[further references: Peter Waldo Facts]

*  It was a replay of the Book of Acts in the 12th century

Walter Map wrote about this meeting with Peter Waldo.  And he gave his counsel to the Pope.  The Waldensians, followers of Peter Waldo, were likened in his report to the first century apostles with their message and style.

But the Pope was counselled that these Waldensians were a danger.  He had to get rid of them, silence them, eliminate them.  He feared their movement would sweep across Europe like a wildfire, and the powers that be would be destroyed.  This was same response of the Sanhedrin to the Apostles out of the Book of Acts.

The Third Lateran Council in 1179, Peter Waldo and his followers were condemned as heretics.  But at the time, there was too many of them and they were too wide spread to be totally squashed.

[further references: Champions of Christianity in Search of Truth - Ronald Charles Thompson - Google BooksCATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Waldenses]

* The Waldensians survived ... even to this day

Though small in number, the Waldensians were a tiny minority that made life more complicated for a politicized Catholic Church.  Many of them had become become part of the Protestant Movement, but they survive to this day.

[further references:  Peter Waldo and the Waldensians by W. Robert Godfrey | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org, American Waldensian Church]

For a summary:

Fiction imitates life ...

The historical fiction series - The Forbidden Book and the Upside Down Kingdom - is set in the late 14th century.

Apokalupsis means revelation.

It's a story about rediscovering the Bible during a time when the Church has been politicized and the Bible had been kept from the people.


The Forbidden Book is Revealed

So with this fiction, there is some truth as this scenario has happened before ... like with Peter Waldo.

It's the Darkest Age that reveal the brightest Light.


Where the eBook may be purchased:

Info at:  S. K. Smith - Apokalupsis

Amazon.com: Apokalupsis: The Forbidden Book Revealed - eBook in Kindle format

Barnes and Noble:  Apokalupsis - Nook Book as an ePub


Previous post on this series:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

America's Story (part 14) - I Was a Male War Bride - the real story

IMDB.com/I Was a Male War Bride

One day rummaging through the local thrift store, I picked up an old copy of The 30th Anniversary Reader's Digest Reader (1953).  Perusing its table of contents, this one story caught my attention -

I Was a Male War Bride
condensed from The Baltimore Sunday Sun, September 28, 1947
Henri Rochard.

Many years ago on the late show, I had seen a movie of that same title, but I didn't know it was based on the autobiography of Henri Rochard.
[reference: Henri Rochard :: Traveling Culture - Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century]

As we are passing another anniversary of VE Day - Victory in Europe, May 8, 1945, marking the beginning of the end of World War Two - let us take a closer look at one of its heroes, this male war bride and the story behind this movie.


The Movie

I Was a Male War Bride (1949) can be classified as a screwball comedy.  Its director Howard Hawks made this genre - the rapid fire dialog, the slapstick comedy of antagonism between a man and a woman who cannot admit their feelings for each other, where in the end love eventually triumphs.  Such is the case in this summary -

In post-World War II Germany, French Army Captain Henri Rochard  (Cary Grant) and American Lieutenant Catherine Gates (Ann Sheridan)  have a history of hating each other.  And their final assignment together portents to be the mother of all misadventures, most at Captain Rochard's expense.  But before their mission is over, they fall in love, marry quickly, then face endless red tape when Rochard tries to immigrate to the U.S. as Lieutenant Gates'  male war bride.

The trailer gives a taste of the high jinks that ensure from the duo's volatile chemistry:

Turner Classic Movies has a good summary here - I Was a Male War Bride


The real story

Then I read the condensed story about the real Henri Rochard

* His name was not Henri Rochard.

Henri Rochard was his pen name.  His real name was Roger Henri Charlier

* He was not a French Army Captain, but a Belgian Army Major

The real Henri Rochard was a native of Antwerp, Belgium.  A broadly educated man, he had planned to be a college professor. But he was called into service  as  an anti-aircraft artillery officer when the Axis Powers invaded the Low Countries.  He served until the surrender of ex-King Leopold, then joined the underground resistance.

* He was a POW

Major Rochard's work for the Allies landed him in German prison camps for five months. But since then, among many honors, he got a commission in the army after the liberation of Belgium and a commendation from SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force). 

* He was a representative at the German War Crimes Trials

Because of his ability to speak several languages, the real Henri Rochard served as a liaison officer for the Belgian Government at the Nuremberg and Dachau War Crimes trials.  For his service there, he got a special commendation by President Truman.

* His bride was an American Army nurse

While at the war crimes trials, the real Henri Rochard was accidentally hit by a car, which landed him in a U.S. Army hospital.  It was there he met Catherine - a U.S. Army nurse.  Upon release from the hospital, Major Rochard was discharged from the Belgian Army and returned to Nuremberg as a civilian employee of the U.S. War Department.  But Cupid had struck and Catherine and Henri became engaged. They had planned to get married and leave for the United States as soon as possible.
[references:  I Was a Male War BrideThe Baltimore Sunday Sun, September 28, 1947 and Henri Rochard]

* Up to this point, the real Henri Rochard is so much different than the movie.  Right?

 But there is nothing like government red tape that creates a real life screwball comedy.

Much of the movie did get the flavor the confusion, the frustration, the problems, the waiting, that are stranger than fiction.  (Though the real Henri Rochard did not dress in drag like Cary Grant.)

First, Henri needed permission from the U.S. Army Headquarters to marry Catherine, like they were her father, only more demanding with paperwork.  This took a few months.  Then came the inquiries at the nearest U.S. Consulate regarding his conditions to enter the country.  That took another four months to get an answer.  It was then Henri learned he could be admitted to the U.S. under Public Law 271 - 1945 War Brides Act.

This was when the real trouble began.

The bureaucracy could not deal with a male spouse of a female Army officer.  But through the muck, Henri Rochard wrote -

A long war of attrition with Army regulations, a change of sex - and finally victory and the U.S.A at last.

And in the end the real Henri Rochard - Dr. Roger Henri Charlier - did become an American citizen - a writer, speaker, international consultant.

Movie Remake?

I would like to hear more of the real Henri Rochard - the multilingual scholar, the Belgian anti-aircraft officer making a last stand against Hitler, the underground resistance fighter, the POW, the liaison and representative at the World War Two war crimes trials.  He seems most interesting.

As for government red tape, haven't many of us have shared some of these same frustrations of dealing with a government bureaucracy or large institution that is too big too fail?  (That could be a subject for another blog.)

Some things never change.

And it is heroes and immigrants like Henri Rochard that are part of the America's  Story.