This year marks the 500 anniversary of the great revolt of Martin Luther in 1517. Since that time years ending in ’17 seem to portend dire future events, and so it is with trepidation that we enter this 2017, even as a seismic wave of social unrest rumbles underfoot. It was 1517 that saw Luther post his 95 theses to a church door, an innocuous beginning to what grew into a total Reformation, or Deformation, of the Church ~ depending upon one’s point of view. The fight had been brewing for some time but it took this intransigent monk to light the fuse. The West has been living in the fallout from that explosion ever since.
A hundred years later, in 1617, Ferdinand was crowned the new King of Bohemia as part of a deal the Spanish Hapsburgs cut with the Austrian side of the family. It didn’t pan out so well, however. Within a year those saucy Bohemians had thrown the Hapsburg councilors out of a third story window in Prague, thus detonating what would become Europe’s deadliest war to date, the Thirty Years War. Before it ended great swaths of Europe, especially in Germany, were laid waste and unheard of atrocities committed against civilian populations. A peek at the future perhaps?
Then followed 1717 and the founding, in London, of a new order called Freemasonry. This pseudo-mystical aggregation of 18th century good-old-boys were both deeply influenced by and influential in promoting the so-called Enlightenment. Masonic hostility to the Church grew increasingly pronounced especially during the French Revolution and later revolutions in Mexico where the anti-clerical stance of a Masonic controlled government would lead to terrible persecutions in the 1920s.
In 1817 history took a break, of sorts. Napoleon Bonaparte had finally been corralled at Waterloo just two years earlier after ravaging Europe foe over a decade. But during this quiet interlude a new invention came along that would revolutionize transportation, and I don’t mean the railroad. No, the first bicycle made its inauspicious debut that year which is of special interest to me and all avid cyclists no doubt. It didn’t catch on right away but by the century’s end people would be writing songs about this velocipedic marvel! Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer true, I’m half crazy all for the love of you… well, you get the idea anyway. The song ends like the lovers, on a bicycle built for two. .
The year 1917 more than made up for a quiet 1817 as events took a far more serious turn. Europe lay in the grips of a bloody stalemate that put the 30 Years War to shame. That same year the United States entered into this European conflict and shifted the balance of power to France and Britain. The “War to end all Wars” settled nothing and only sowed the seeds of dissension more deeply. Meanwhile the Bolsheviks engaged in a revolution in Russia that would eventually impose Communist regimes around the globe. In the midst of all the turmoil Our Lady appeared to three young children at Fatima in Portugal. Her dire warnings of where mankind was headed went mostly unnoticed and unheeded.
1917 created the modern world we know in many respects. New and more lethal armaments and the advent of aerial warfare were mankind’s response to the unspeakable horrors men had already witnessed in the trenches. Today, I think politicians call that “doubling down.” It remains a most popular strategy for not dealing rationally with important problems, not unlike trying to dig your way out of a deep hole.
That brings us to 2017 and the populist revolt against “big brother” government. Many enlightened intellectuals don’t see it that way, of course. That is why peace loving progressive liberals prefer to riot in cities like Berkeley, to demonstrate their righteous hatred of all those “haters” who conspired to elect Donald Trump to the presidency. Of course, their intolerance of anyone they perceive as “intolerant” only proves how wildly successful the Marxist and earlier revolutionaries had been in twisting reality. Shouting down one’s opponent is always so much more effective than arguing them down. Civil discourse can be such a tedious way to settle disagreements after all.
So where do we go from here? It is now the Chinese Year of the Rooster which suggests that the crowing may have only just begun. One historical pundit put it this way. In 1517 Protestantism dismantled the Church. In 1717 Freemasonry dismantled faith in Jesus Christ. In 1917 Communism dismantled any belief in God whatsoever. Can you see a pattern there? At least the faithful here in Colorado can view 2017 on a positive note. It appears that the second Colorado born U.S.Supreme Court Justice will soon be on the High Court. I pray that he will represent American values and the rule of law half so well as his honored predecessor, Byron “Whizzer” White, one of only two justices to dissent from the atrocious Roe V. Wade decision in 1973. I sincerely pray that Neil Gorsuch may emulate, and perhaps one day surpass, his revered predecessor in jurisprudence, but I daresay it won’t be on the gridiron. For I can confidently predict that Neil will never claim his own Heisman Trophy.
My prediction for 2017 is this. Hang on to your seats ~ and buckle your seat belts for sure. This could be a wild ride!
Francis Pierson a.m.d.g.