Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Monongahela--Women and Children First

One of the first battles in the French and Indian War was General Edward Braddock's expedition against Fort Duquense. His army was routed by a force of French and Indians on July 9, 1755. One of the records that survived the battle is a diary by a British soldier who was likely a servant to Captain Robert Cholmley. This author survived the battle and captured some aspects of it in his diary.

When Braddock's army was finally shattered, the survivors fled across the Monongahela River to safety. Colonel George Washington and Lieutenant-Colonel Burton (48th) formed a rearguard to protect those crossing the river. According to the diary (18th Century spelling has been kept intact):

"In going Over the River there was an Indien Shot one of our Wimen and began to Scalp her. Her Husband being a little before her Shot the Indien dead. There was another Indien Immediately Shot him through the Arm, but he made his Escape from them. Just after we had passed the River a Captn [captain] that was wounded in the foot bege'd that I would lend him my Horse which I did, altho I had about two hundred miles to march on foot before he could get a horse."

Women did accompany Braddock's army as camp-followers, i. e. laundresses and cooks. To the Indians, killing an enemy woman was a great feat of courage. But to the men on Braddock's expedition, women (especially one's wife) were to be protected. One demonstrated pagan egalitarianism; the other, Biblical self-sacrifice.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Queen Mary of Modena

"But let it be the hidden man of the heart in that which is not corruptible even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price"--1 Peter 3:4

"She was 'the model of what a queen should be, and she bore her misfortunes heroically.'"--Demetrius C. Boulger, The Battle of the Boyne

"And there hope is, that when the Spouse of Christ shall have summoned her grand array to meet the Bridegroom, among the humblest of her handmaidens may be numbered the names of Francoise de Maintenon and Marie of Modena and England."--George S. Smythe, Historic Fancies

Mary of Modena was born on October 5, 1658 to the Duke and Duchess of Modena, a small state in Italy. On November 23, 1673, Mary married James, Duke of York. For over ten years she lived quietly, until February 6, 1685. Charles II died, and the English throne passed to his brother James.

James was crowned as James II and Mary of Modena became Queen. They ruled for three years until on June 10, 1688, the Queen gave birth to a son, triggering William III's invasion. I have already studied the Revolution which drove James, Mary, and their son into exile.

Mary of Modena "bore her misfortunes heroically" as she fled England and sailed to France. Her heroism won praise from Louis XIV, as she endured disaster after disaster including defeats at the Boyne (1690) and Aughrim (1691), and the death of James II (1702). Mary of Modena had one more child: Louisa Maria Teresa Stuart, born on June 28, 1692.

She died in exile on May 7, 1718, but her legacy of perseverance lives on.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dancing, Bowing, And Chivalry

I wrote on the importance of dance and the covenant community last time, but now I will take on a different aspect of the historical dance. This time it is bowing. What exactly is meant when one bows to a partner in a dance? For a few years, bowing meant nothing to me. It was the beginning of the dance, to be cut out if I was moving slower than the rest of the line. But Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner altered my concept of dance and bowing after I listened to their radio show on “Dancing with the Stars”. Now I believe that there are at least two important concepts at work here: greeting and chivalry.
1. Greeting
When I bow, I greet my partner in an honorable way. Bowing shows honor to the person receiving it, similar to removing one’s hat. James Fenimore Cooper and N. C. Wyeth bring this out in Last of the Mohicans, as General Montcalm bows to Colonel Monro. Montcalm shows honor to Monro, despite the fact that they bombarded each other with cannons for six days. This idea is elaborated on in Point #2.

2. Chivalry
Bowing also shows chivalry. When I bow, I say by my actions that my partner is a lady, worthy to be treated with respect and honor. On the other hand, her curtsy says that I am a gentleman to be followed and treated with honor. These concepts are as far from egalitarianism (men and women equal in marriage and everything else) as they are from romance. By curtsying, she explodes egalitarianism, by acknowledging my headship. My bow does the same for romance, by committing to treat her with honor and as one to be protected. One may be wondering if these concepts flow through my brain as I bow. Yes, they did. When I bowed, I mentally promised to treat my partner as an honorable lady.

In conclusion, can one make such a big deal of just a simple bow? I believe so. Bowing and curtsying reinforces God’s design for men and women while avoiding the pitfalls of egalitarianism and romance. As one does it in dance, it also guards against one more problem: that of exaggerated bowing to impress one’s partner. It is difficult to bow in an exaggerated fashion when one has less than fifteen seconds (or however long it is) in which to do it.

I also learned an intensely practical lesson. I know why gorgets were worn by officers only on duty and not off duty…especially when they danced. The gorget has a tendency to fly into the wearer’s face when he bows.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dance and Covenant Community

Dancing is, in my humble opinion, an excellent symbol of the covenant community, or church. My family and I attended the 2012 Family Economics Conference/Liberty Day, where the celebration closed out with historic dancing. Some people believe that dancing is, if not inherently ungodly, at least fatally flawed. I disagree with this position (see Point #2), but send me a comment for a more in-depth discussion on the topic.

In the three different dances at Liberty Day, I noticed several important things. I am certain that there were exceptions, yet the atmosphere encouraged community and discouraged individualism.

1. Bearing with each other
In the dance, it could be easy for the "veterans" to look down on the "green hands." However, this was not the case. Those who understood would explain (quickly) what someone should be doing. And those being corrected would take correction and immediately change. This was also the case with the instructor/caller.

2. Unity
In many modern dances, the emphasis is on the couple or person. I believe that the abuses from this cause many to reject dance altogether. When anything is focused on man, trouble is always near. Not so here. The emphasis (especially in the circular dances) was on the covenant community, who have come to encourage, challenge, and enjoy each other. Even in a paired dance (Virginia Reel) the emphasis still was on community. Could one pair do this all by themselves? Of course not!

3. Joyfulness
As important as all these lessons are for the church, they pale in comparison to this one: joyfulness. Too many Christians are so gloomy. The Democrats will sweep the elections this year! The Antichrist will come soon! The weather is wet and rainy!
We serve the God who is winning. Shouldn't we be joyful? And these dances were joyful. Of course, many of the dancers were as well.

These are a few of the important lessons I learned at the historic dances. And, yes, I enjoyed myself heartily.

For further study, Peter Bringe’s outline on
Trinitarian Dance is excellent, as is Kevin Swanson’s radio show called “Dancing with the Stars”, which presents the right and wrong views of dance.