Tag Archives: knights

Secrets in the Time of Bush and Obama

We live in a time when Americans are dealing with many different issues related to secrets. We have  George Bush’s recent legacy of seeking agressive new agencies for the seeking out of secrets held by America’s enemies.  People of goodwill and integrity have been rightly or wrongly concerned that he also increased the number of secrets he gathered about others in America doing things other than destroying our society.
Now we have Obama and his ties to the ACORN set with an apparent love for violating the law. We know he was an associate of Weatherman domestic terrotists and and has been proclaimed as a Candidate for African Emperor of the United States by Qaddafi in the UN General Assembly. With so many things  going on we know about many wonder what his secrets may be. I think all nations at all times have issues with secrets and I am pulling up an old post on the subject for consideration. While the current issues  change, the reality of the human condition and secrecy has some real  continuity.     
The following post was first posted on my Facebook site.
 Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 10:17pm
It is never easy to face the fact that one is nearing the end of of a long and arduous journey and has not arrived at a good place to stop. In many ways that is the situation in which I find myself. I may end up living for many years more but many parts of my life journey have already assumed a pretty permanently derailed state. I have an associate whom I reasonably believe is my half-brother whom I reasonbably believe will not live a lot longer and he is not much older than me. (Paul died earlier this year.) His existence was a secret from me for most of my life and something else I do not know might seem to show that either he is not dying or is not my half-brother but that is the way it currently looks. Paul’s dying of AIDS is not a secret but my telling of it is a revelation. It is a strange line between the intimate and private and the secret. It is in that world of secrets and confidences that I have spent much of my life.

One of my purposes in this set of notes has been to try to set down in wrting thisngs that I would not have wanted to die leaving unwritten.To set out some basic patterns and frameworks of evidence that make me feel that I have preserved some of this knowledge in a certain way and clarified some issues that might be of interest to any who might choose to use this information to follow along some intellectual or spatial path on which I have trod. However, in this note I wish to deal with the matter of secrets deliberately and specificaly. While I do not intend to open up about the vast majority of things which I have held secret I do wish to lay out some clearer paths to a few secrets that have mattered a good bit. I wish to add to the confirmable record relating to them.

I went to Law school twice and have worked in many law offices. In such places and that profession secrets and confidences are a stock in trade. In ministry as a young person I was told many secrets as well. People sought my advice about relationships, pregnancies, family problems and gangs. Because I was very young I tried to refer them when I could but always with their permission. In that youthful mempory I see an image related to that of one of the people who has inspired me to choose this topic. The very young Madison Elizabeth Holland. When I was her age I was advising young gangsterss and pregnant girls who were looking to find Jesus and some help. Her role has nothing to do with gangs or teen pregnancy but it does have to do with the world of secrets when one does not have all the links to the facts which one knows were concealed.

One of the reasons that I am inspired to undertake this note on this topic at this time is because Madison Elizabeth Holland invited me to join a group which she founded as an aid to a paper she is writing. The name of the group is “Why are People so Fascinated by the Strange/Macabre/Horrifyiing/ Alien?????” I have posted some things to the Discussion Board and that has inspired me to want to include some related insights into the next note I did. So that would be the note I am currently typing and you are currently reading at some time current to you.

In Madison’s group I posted something about werewolves and something about dragons. It is one of the many quirky things about me — that I take a real interest in the space programs and industry of our time but also have a fairly highly developed interest in both dragons and werewolves. My own Christian faith is Catholic in several senses of the word. On is that it is open to and embraces that “yearning of ALL creation as it groans in anticipation {like a woman in labor} for the revelation of the sons of God”. That is my own loose interpretation/ translation of the Pauline verse. I do not utterly renounce all the “varied and fragmantary ways” in which God has revealed himself to the Pagans as Paul assured the Aeropagus. I will not worship the Sun for example but I will see the image and fingerprints of its maker imperfectly in it as I also see them a little more perfectly in the most perfect human beings. With that point of view and with my life history it is not surprising that some secret of ancient traditions should have come to rest in my hands and head.

This is also a time when it is easy for me to think about secrets and disclosing what I can. I am at a place where I find myself letting go of everything and that is the mood and mode in which secrets are readily revealed. I am not in a clinging and guarding mood very much. There are different levels of screcy. For example, anyone can find out or be told that I once joined the Knights of Columbus. Knowing that they know that I went through some sort of secret initiation. Within the effort of disclosed materials in oublic record they know that these initiation events have the name “Rite of Passage”. Similar things are true for the Masons and a variety of other groups including college fraternities. Then there are more open groups with a few unoffical secrets and most of us can remember belonging to at least one of those if we think long enough. Then there are much more secret groups whose very existence is never admitted outside of confidence. Finally there are super secret groups who may be discussed but who most people agree do not exist and whose members alone really are sure of their existence. I have belonged to groups of all such categories.

Then there are individual secrets not directly tied to any group. We have secrets often for more than one reason. However, usually one is the most important. Sometimes thesereasons change over the years:
1. We have secrets we protect to spare friends or family from harm to all facets of their reputation.
2. We have secrets we keep to prevent prevenge for harms we have done to others of which they are not fully aware.
3. We have secrets we keep to protect ourselves or others from being marked fortheft of property, injury or death because of the valuye of a thing concealed.
4.We keep secretsbecuase we are producing something of value or importance to us or others and it is notcompleted and we do not wish it to be judged by the unfinished version.
5. We keep secrets because simply disclosing a thing in any way is emotionally painful or difficult.
6. We keep secrets becuse their are legal or social penatlies associated with disclosure.
7. We keep secrets becuse we find an environment so hostile that any and all information we release will for part of the mosaic image compiled by our enemies or adversarial forces to use against us.
8. We keep secrets because something is near and dear to us and treasuring it in solitude or with a few confidants makes it seem more special and keeps its memory clearer and apart from other memories of discussion and thirdhand accounts.
9. We keep secrets becauseknowledge of a thing provides a useful identifier of any number of things about a person or group but publishing information would make the knowledge less useful.
10. We keep secrets because for one or more of many reasons we are unable and not so much unwilling to disclose the secrets. These reasons include forgetting the secret, death, severe disability, incapactity to articulte the secret information and total isolation.

I often think of books and movies that I might allude to in these notes and do not do so. The ones that are mentioned are a small representative fraction of a much larger body of works. One movie that I have always liked is “Sneakers” starring Robert Redford, Ben Kingsley and I think Mary MacDonald. There is a cipher that the crew led by Redford must decode to be informed of the rest of password. Redford’s character and his on-again-off-again love interest are seated across some kind of table top from eachother and to find the password they start off with a somewhat nondescript phrase and using an ordinary Scrabble set they scramble the letters into all the intlleigible combinations that they can think of together. After a number of false starts they end up with “Too Many Secrets”. Not only is that the password they need but it is at the heart both of the viewer’s understanding of the movie and of the characters understanding of their predicament.

Not every life is, needs to be or should be as much about secrets as mine is but I do tend to think of life as being in large part about solving riddles and unlcking and controlling secrets. Judging from the testimony of a great deal of art and literature — many other people find this process speaks to and illuminates their own life experience as well. What I do not do much of these days is to really get involved in the internal struggle of people seeking to come to clarity about moral truth. However, I have done a good bit of that in my life. I think that there are many reasons why we are obsessed with solving secrets as a species. However, one of the reasons is that in a very complex sort of socio-biological economy we have to be aware of deceitful and lethal human bings in order to survive and pass on our genetic and cultural traits. We also have to be able to hide some tings and keep some secrets in order to survive. Then of course to varying degrees many of us are the lethaly deceitful and the ones seeking out hiding places.

In most cases the really ardent and devoted explorers reach a point when the sense of thrill with secrets is diminished and replaced with a system of categorizations, crossreferences, tactical maneuvres used to stay alive and tecniques used to record and trasmit information. Marco Polo set out with a really large group when he left Italian spheres of influence for his great journeys the vast majority of these people were dead and almost all were taken permanently off their intended course when he returned home. He was the kind of adventurer who learns many secrets and successfully reports them to his home base. Magellan and Cook are other explorers who manged both to die violently in the course of discovery and to discover and report many things to their home community and culture before they died.
Early test pilots seeking out the secret of aerodynamics often died and so did pioneeers in atomic and subatomic physics. What seems clear is that as a species it is vital that we unlock new information. It is also vital that we retain a cpacity for some kinds of privacy, secrecy and control over the information we possess. Finally even when guarded by something as nonhuman as the properties of radioactive particles there are often very serious risks whenever one seeks to unveil secrets of importance.

I think that this note is more stopping than ending. I have a great deal on my mind that I choose not to share today and in this note. If all these notes have an unfinished quality this does more than most. I think I will just stop here with an invitation to check out Madison’s group. It is open and not secret and she may close it down after she write the paper so now is the time to check it out.(I have taken over administration of this group since her departure)

The End…
Well, as the UK deals with scandals and their related secrets in the Baroness Scotland affairs and many countries deal with the secrets of the underworld and corporate privacy I hope the world does not become a place with even less room for the quiet and secret work of life which cannot occur except in secret and is vital to the future of humanity. I hope we all find those secret lodges in the soul we need to be truly human.

Getting into the Nitty Gritty of Warfare and Peace

President Barry Soetero-Barak Hussein Obama is putting out feelers, or trial balloons about reducing troop strength in Afghanistan and that is after he used the carrot of build-up in Afghanistan to reduce forces in Iraq. He is closing the prison in Guantanamo. He has said he believes in a world without nuclear weapons. He supports a two state solution in Israel to the Palestinian crisis. He was endorsed by Hamas before the election.  He is alligned with the ACORN agency recently exposed as very averse to keeping the law. He has said he believes we must stop using coal. He has been explicit in making Islam an equaly important fount of culture in the United States with  Christianity. He is devoted to stirring up a great deal of animosity in towns where nobody has yelled and screamed in a political gathering since the War Between the States.  

 I find him to be a real threat to national security. However,  I haven’t been feeling all that secure before he got here. I know some good military people that I would like to think are my friends  although I have never worn my country’s uniform.  I would be happy to see the constitution ammended to seat some senior officers upon retirement in more important government positions. However, I do believe that we are losing the struggle for a culture which is both militarily effective and decent. I was reading in this morning’s home’s rural sheriff has organized a junior posse where youngster’s can learn a little about law enforcement and a lot about horses. I like that my elected official is doing that. It may be a seed bed for a renewal of chivalry in this area. Here is some food for thought.

This post originalyappeared on my Facebook Account on August 28, 2008.

 Chivalry is dead. “No it’s not dead, I saw a dude open the door for his woman last week”. Chivalry and Knighthood are among my favorite subjects about which I have never written for pay or publication except in some passing comment in a larger piece. I once heard Margaret Thatcher on C-Span’s coverage of the Prime Minister’s question time and one of her own people gave her a softball question. “Does not the honorable lady resent the tone of these proceedings and regret that chivalry is truly dead?” The elder statesman had a fierce quiet about him.

“Chivalry is not truly dead so long as the right honorable gentlemman is here to defend it and exemplify it.” Thatcher’s reply was entirely riveting in its delivery.

Chivalry is one of the greater mysteries of the world in my view. It has seen many distinct forms but it has some common ideal essence underlying those forms. There have been good knights and evil knights, famous knights and obscure knights. Great knights have been known for their great wealth but among the wealthiest were a group long distinguished by their poverty. Knights have been avowed celibate aesthetics, courtly lovers and Bon Vivants. What then is a knight? What then is chivalry?

Many very serious books by good scholars have been written on the subject of chivalry and knights. Yet oftentimes these books share the same serious mistake they confuse one or a few traditions of chivalry with the whole of the chivalric tradition. On the other hand, a number of books heavy with photos, etching, drawings anecdotes and quotes out of context that were intended as popular quasi-scholarship have done a better job of capturing the essence and the breadth of chivalry. While not refering to any specific books this has been my experience.

In this note I want to discuss some of the chivalric traditions and institutions of my own heritage in the context of all that is chivalry. Like alll these notes this is being written without many or any sources at hand, in a kind of hurry and briefly. Yet, here it goes and here I go again.

I will start with chivalry, an English word deriving from the French word “Chevalier” which for all practical purposes is synonymous with the English word knight but also is a word like “horseman”. It refers to the animal in the word itself –“cheval” being the word for horse.

Horses, his order, women, weapons and the divine make up the points of the knightly star. Horses are important. Too little horse and there really can be no knight. Knights are not just whatever someone thinks that they are. One of the things which I want to confront directly is the idea that horsefighting and cavalry are obsolete.

Hard as it will be for US military types to accept, I seriously believe that if the US had 10,000 top knotch horse troops in Iraq and Afghanistan it would be an enormous assistance to American efforts in those theaters. It would also mean thirty thousand war horses, five thousand guide and dispatch horses, two thousand pack mules and ideally about four thousand specialized dogs in work groups and teams. Local young people could be hired to care for many of these animals creating at least two thousand employees who could not betray valuable secrets but could develop close ties to their employing American horsemen. Horse armor and meds would be a huge area of military research as would helicopter and transport plane transit for the horseborne units. The amount of jamming equipment, communications gear and and IED detecting instruments that can be carried by a well armored man on a Clydesdale or Percheron backed up by a pack mule far exceeds what two men can carry into rough terrain. The speed and point of view of men on Arabians and Thoroughbreds in the front of the same squadron is much better in many situations than a fine special forces scout can ever achieve. After these advantages there are others not so obvious to having horse units in the field. Just because we don’t design for horse war does not mean that it is obsolete. Horse troops with infantry under air support could do many things which are currently impossible.

Most countries in the world today which issue knighthoods of any kind leave the horse completely out of the official eqasion. However, until the British recently abolished fox hunting,  British knights have usually remained a demonstrably horsey set. Republican France maintains both some knighthoods and some official ceremonial cavlary units. Horseback hunting is also still practiced by the French nobility last I checked. When the influence of the horse is completely gone so is the chivalry. Some camel mounted, elephant mounted and dog drawn warriors had as fine an embryonic set of knightly values in ages past as anyone could. Greek footsoldiers laid the foundations of much of Chivalry as did shipborne Viking marines. Without exception however, when chivalry reached its peak in a society the horse played a vital role in the institution.

I am not just picking on the modern British monarchy here although that is one of my favorite hobbies. Among the ceremonial knighthoods of an admittedly decadent and mysterious Acadian Royalty (last come close to full light in the time of Joseph Broussard, Chief Beausoleil des Acadiens who used that misspelling of Basileus Arkadios over his open court in the 18th century) the Ridelles have been groups of horsemen who oversaw the ceremonial Couriere de Mardi Gras in each community. Most of these groups have died out and many others use almost entirely automotive and foot transit for the ritual. I therefore feel no cultural superiority in this regard.

I will warm up any mind engaged in reading this note to the idea that a good part of it will be about Chivalry in the United States. I think that many people have a view that knighthood and the American tradition have little to do with one another or nothing at all. So we can look at some of the history and connections together. There has of course never been a king of the United States of America and that is a weakness in its chivalric claims as a nation. However, there is no requirement of perfect adhesion to all aspects of a chivalric ideal to be really a knight. While, I am inactive, I am a Knight of Columbus. That order does a lot of good under a knightly banner and with knightly ideals and style despite the imperfection of it chivalric structure.

One of the most controversial examples of raising the chivalric banner is that of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and their invisible empire. This group was made a success and a celebrated institution by one of its early members recruited by an obscure co-founder named Morton. That celebrated early member was one of the last great cavalry officers which history has given us to ponder. Nathan Bedford Forrest rose to high rank in the Cofederate army. This early Klansman who often was honored as “the wizard of the saddle” was a poorly educated and untitled self-made millionaire who had never held a commission or any public office prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. The original Klan which he rose to lead and which was a serious institution in so many ways was disbanded by him. This chivalric order has been very influential in American life.

I have a theory as to some of its original elements which is not a universally accepted theory. One of the many lies and myths used to justify the destruction of Constitutional government during the civil war and the unconscionable behavior of most union troops is the idea that the South felt threatened because it was paranoid but that the status quo would have gone on had the Southern states not brought all the misery on themselves. That is absurd.

There were northern and foreign provocateurs destroying civilization in the South in a big way from 1850 onwards. They found local and regional support and waves of violence and unrest plagued the region. Militia and vigilantes were raised to counter thses threat in some places. One of the largest vigilante organizations in American histoy existed among the Comites de Vigilance de La Louisiane. The most distinguished of these committees was the Comite de Vigilance des Attakapas which was located and centered near where I live. This is the land of the largely extinct or absorbed Attakapas Indian Nation. One of the principal captains was my ancestor Severeign Leblanc. He answered to the Moutons only who produced in a few generations a Governor of Louisiana and the most prominent Acadian officer in the Confederate forces — General Mouton who died at Shiloh but fought bravely around here whenever he got wounded in a Northern Campaign. Some say that the title of Basileus Arkadios or Basielus Arcadies (King of the Arcadians) passed from The Broussards Famille de Beausoleil to Moutons and then after the Civil War or during it trransferred to the Leblancs. The Moutons included many elements of the ancient ridelles in their instiutions. This mix of vigilante and ridelle elements is seen in much of the iconography of the Klan. The Klan even has a Greek name. It is Ku Klux but that signifies Cuclos which means circle. Thus the Circle Clan which has three Cs is now replaced with three Ks. Even Forrest’s Klan was in my opinion far inferior to the Comites. However, the non horse Klans since are not even close.

Forrest is alleged to have dissolved his Klan because discipline had been replaced with spasmodic violence. His own character was badly damaged I think but it was the ruin of a great thing. The Comites on the other hand, held a trial in absentia, then issued a warning to the accused to leave, then they flogged the person accused and left them alone and only if they did not then leave the region did they excute them by lynching. While there were exceptions this rule was really observed. They hired a professional historian to live among them and record their activities, published their names on occasion and supporting the growing political movement that became the Confederate States of America. No founders of the Klan had this formative experience but many were able meet or serve with former members during the war. When they had to the Comites enforced there orders against armed banditti with hundreds of gunmen. They used cannons, horses and drilled formationjs of fast shooting vigilantes to flush out hideouts of bandits. They never collapsed into the paranoid spasms of terrorism the Klan got into. But they never faced a situation with 200,000 armed and hate-filled slaves deiven by a rich and mechanized enemy. The Klan is a hard institution for me to judge.
Some say that the Comites still survive but there is not much evidence for it. Acadians have been in a state of decline until recently and the Comites were expensive.

In my family and extended family as well as in parts of my life that were very individual the chivalric ideal was tied into the ideal of the cowboy and the American horseman in other contexts. To our rough and ready western and Castilian riding skills we added the observation of cousins and strangers with postilian and horse show skills. The horses were a part of us all and as we learned to teach them they were teaching us a great deal. They were forming our minds along with constant pursuits with weapons. hunting, target shooting and relatives in military school combined with Catholicism which is one of the most chivalric forms of religion. That and the fact that later in life my grandfather became a Knight of St. Lazarus. He joined a knightly order that had once had its own army and navy and for which the Pope played the role unltimate Earthly prince and monarch. We sedlom discussed chivalry as directly applying to us but we did discuss it as a historic pattern and an institution or set of institutions.

I personally have added to that basic foundation with a lot of both academic and practical study of combat. I havealso taken a strong interest in a lot of other aspects of chivalry such as relating to women and to God. In my travels around the world I think I have learned a good bit that has in has further enriched my view of chivalry.

One of my Facebook friends is Louis De Bourbon, Duke of Anjou, head of the French House of Bourbon (Louis de Bourbon is not my Facebook friend as I post this on WordPress). He has gathered a company of knights around him to assert the claims of his family and restore the French Monarchy. Many Americans feel that the Fench republic is a kind of sister state to their own country. Actually a Bourbon king and the Marquis de Lafayette were among the largest financial and military backers of the revolution. Probably Louis and Marie Antoinette died mostly because of the money spent on our war.  The Marquis was a lifelong constitutional royalist who helped put a Bourbon prince on the trhone again after the reign of teror and the revolution. Perhaps this Friends block member deserves a sympathetic reviewing of his plans by his American cyber neighbors.

There is far more I would like to discuss about Chivalry. Mostly how an order, weapons, a horse and a religion more help knights to develop skill in dealing with women. There have been a handful of women knights but far more of them worked with and encouraged the knights with whom they interacted. I am leaving a lot unsaid today in this note. But I say enough and sense some urgency to get my little voice into the ether.

Assuming I live long enough there  I will probably be notes filling in the blanks in this note. I say long live chivalry!

The End of Facebook Post.

I know this does not directly address any of the policy issues I started this post with. However, it does deal with the issue of culture and one basis of national security. One of my cousins has recently been buried at Arlington after being killed in Afghanistan, He and I had a long talk about the nature of wars and warriors about a year before he died.  I hope I will be worthy of the price he paid and do what I can to honor a brave volunteer who met his enemies at close range on the gorund much of the time. I have a peace heritage as well and have probaly gone a bit too far at times in that direction. But I hope the President of the United Staes is not undermining the basis of our independence and hope for peace.