Two unrelated events have scratched some of my great discontents. Besides, it is a dreary, rainy day in Washington, the kind of day that turns one’s thoughts towards malcontentedness.
President Obama met with the Queen of England and no one - not in the media which has so many outlets you might have thought someone would complain, not in the government, not in the Church- no one objected to the fact that she is a usurper. Her ancestor Henry VIII usurped the title Head of the Church and her ancestors William III and Mary usurped the throne. I am sure that the Queen is a perfectly lovely woman, although seeing CNN post the transcript of the niceties the Royals exchanged with the Obamas, as if it was somehow newsworthy to know that the Queen asked the President when his flight got in, showed something of the absurdity of her role. I am all for tradition, but if the Stuarts were returned to their proper title, Britain would have been spared the whole Charles and Camilla mess. At this late date, I do not suspect that a restoration would matter a great deal in Ireland.
This leads to my second source of conservative pique. I am watching "The Tudors" on Showtime. I am not a drama critic but I think you would need a stronger actor in the out-sized role of Henry VIII to make the series work. Early on, I thought they did a good job of painting Thomas Cramner as sinister, which he was, of the craven quality of the episcopacy that caved to Henry’s demands, and the heroics of Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More, both now canonized. The show has not gotten to the reign of Queen Mary but I am worried that the producers, like most whose judgment of the era is superficial, will still not grasp that the English Reformation did not extend much beyond court until the reign of Elizabeth. The image of Mary "forcing" Protestants to return to Rome misses the point that throughout most of the realm, little had changed in the Church by 1553. We will see; the producers had the decency to make Queen Catherine appear sympathetic and to portray Anne Boleyn as the "King’s whore" that she was. But, every time someone in my party orders a "Bloody Mary" I ask if they mightn’t call it something else.
The NCAA tournament has highlighted what we have known all along: Men’s college basketball is the best sport in the world. On any given day, the top ten or twenty teams can beat any of the other top ten. The level of play is consistently fascinating and, unlike the pros in the NBA, defense still matters in college hoops. March Madness is the best time of year. But, who decided to play basketball in a football stadium? Last weekend, the Western region finals were played at the Glendale football stadium. You could see tons of empty seats. Indeed, the attendance at the games was about 18,000 which is what you can fit in most indoor arenas built for basketball. The Final Four will also be played in a football stadium, Ford Field in Detroit and I suspect they might get more fans in. But, it’s still all wrong. Basketball should stay in basketball arenas, with all the intimacy that suggests and without the views of empty seats in the part of a football stadium that has no view of a basketball court.
So, on this slow news day, I raise my coffee cup to the Stuarts, to Queen Mary, Cardinal Pole and all her loyal Catholic subjects, and to the good ole days when basketball was played in basketball arenas.