It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you. Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God, which of you have not battered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have ye not defiled this place, and turned the Lord`s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the entire nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
In the name of God, go!
Oliver Cromwell, 20th April, 1653.
It is fashionable these days to psychoanalyze the high and mighty of history; one popular target is Oliver Cromwell. A gent of some historic renown; military genius he might have been, but to some his abrupt changes of behaviour were indicative of manic behaviour. Catch the old boy on a bad day and you might suffer the consequences; but to err is human, so it`s of no use judging someone born and raised in a different cultural environment to our own. Actions that may seem barbaric and cruel are always the same, no matter when they occur, but people of the time may well have put a slightly alternative angle on them, justifying a massacre here, a massacre there for the furtherance of a sanctified objective.
We are all held hostage by the chemicals and electrical impulses that surge through our brains; they fire up the engine, or dampen it down; in the time of Cromwell it was considered the “Divine Spark.” The gift of free will allowed an endless variety of interpretations of the will of God, and is the greatest get out clause of them all. No act can be held to account because the will of God is being carried out. Cromwell and his supporters believed that God guided them in all things, and whatever the consequences, there was no temporal argument against it.
One of the daggers of King Tut was made from iron taken from a meteorite; it fell from the sky, just like the building blocks of life that evolved from celestial bacteria to pond algae to a primitive cerebral cortex to countless living things that slithered, crawled, walked and flew, into one sentient being that looked up at the sky, seeking meaning and order to it`s existence.
We picked up God along the way. To Cromwell, God brought understanding and order to his life; without religious belief there would be social chaos. Religion formed the pillars of the earth and kept the sky from falling; but little did he know that the sky is always falling; it brings the gift of life as well as death.