Sir Thomas More, RIP

The wonderful British actor Paul Scofield has died. I first saw "A Man for All Seasons" in high school and was mesmerized by it. I haven’t seen watched in years, but reading a few lines from Robert Bolt’s screenplay brought the scenes vividly to life. Here’s Thomas talking to his daughter, Meg:
"God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it’s God’s part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping."
Tim Reidy
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
10 years 2 months ago
I too saw "A Man for All Seasons" when I was in high school -- the diocesan seminary h.s. in Detroit. Fr. William Cunningham, our English teacher and the co-founder of Focus: Hope (an organization created after the 1967 riot to "eradicate racism in Detroit" -- a still-unfinished effort!) insisted on taking our entire class to see the Academy Award winning movie. It became, and continues to be the most influential film of my life; when I decided to request a discharge from the Navy several years later as a conscientious objector, Thomas More's/Paul Scofield's words guided me: "I am the King's good servant...but God's first."
10 years 2 months ago
Good to see your reflection, Michael! We members of Pax Christi in Syracuse remember you fondly! I, too, was captivated first by the play that our English teacher, Sr. Bernarda, took us to on a grand night in our senior year. And seeing Scofield in the movie at various times has always renewed my spirit. The words from Robert Bolt-- though without solid historical foundation, I'm told -- of More on the scaffold when he tells the executioner that "you send me to God" and is chided by the Cardinal about his presumption -- "You sound too confident, Sir Thomas" --and replies, "He would not refuse one who comes to him so blithely," have remained for me a touchstone of confidence in God's mercy in much the same way. The fusion of intellect and spirit into love remains palpable.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The news from Ireland and the United States reminds us of Herod, of Pharaoh. What culture betrays its children?
The EditorsMay 26, 2018
A woman religious casts her ballot May 25 in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on its law on abortion. Voters went to the polls May 25 to decide whether to liberalize the country's abortion laws. (CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters)
The repeal of Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn, is passing by a 2-1 margin with most of the votes counted.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Secretary of Education stirred up controversy when she said it was up to schools to decide if an undocumented student should be reported to authorities.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMay 25, 2018
Thousands gathered in Dublin May 12 to say "Love Both" and "Vote No" to abortion on demand. They were protesting abortion on demand in the forthcoming referendum May 25. (CNS photo/John McElroy)
“Priests and bishops get verbal abuse by being told, ‘How can you speak for women? You don’t know what it’s like!’”
America StaffMay 25, 2018