The Tale of Two Tragedies
     One Literary, One Not  

     The English Department at the University of Pennsylvania had a portrait of Shakespeare taken down, from where it hung, and replaced it with photo of a feminist writer.  Thus they downgraded and treated a giant in the world of literature, bowing to the notion of inclusivity. 1    The English poet and playwright will be regarded in this piece with due honor, as one of the greatest of writers.

     According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, many regard Shakespeare as "the greatest dramatist of all time."    His work has outlived him, by more than four hundred years, and the Oxford English Dictionary has credited him "with introducing nearly 3,000 words into the English language."  
Not only does he have a prominent place in literature, but his work is also found in common expressions in English, like "break the ice" and "wild goose chase," either popularized or coined by him
. 2

      Here he's remembered for something he wrote that speaks across the centuries, to our day.   In Act V, Scene viii of The Tragedy of Macbeth, we see Macbeth saying, "I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born."   And one named Macduff answers, "Despair thy charm, and let the angel whom thou still hast served tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd."   In the ensuing clash, Macbeth is slain.   He put his faith in something he shouldn't have.

   The key words for us to ponder are "from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd."    While the passage refers to a Caesarean surgery, it's also relevant to a sad practice of our times.   From one tragedy, the words point to yet another.

     The Oxford English Dictionary defines the verb rip as: "Tear or pull forcibly away."  
Its use was heard during the presidential debate in October 2016, referring to a particular abortion: ď... in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.Ē It is, in fact, a particularly egregious form of abortion, called partial birth abortion.

     But first, a little background of the Shakespearean drama from which the passage was taken. Macbeth meets three witches on a barren heath, withered and wild in attire. They all greet Macbeth, with one of them prophesying, "All hail, that shalt be king hereafter." Tempted and whetted by ambition, and encouraged on by Lady Macbeth, Macbeth murders the Scottish King, Duncan, while the King was staying at Macbeth's castle, the monarch being there "in double trust." His murderer will take the throne.

     Further on
in the play, the witches appear in a cavern with a boiling cauldron. The witches chant "Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble." They throw in an assortment of things, like "an eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog..." Macbeth comes upon the scene of these witches once more. They apparently conjure up apparitions, one telling Macbeth that "...none of woman born shall harm Macbeth," and another saying that "Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill 3. (Macbeth's castle) shall come against him."
 To which Macbeth replies, "That will never be: For who the tree unfix its earth-bound root?"

    These predictions give Macbeth a false sense of hope that he would "live the lease of nature."

     Besides the murder of the King, Macbeth plots the death others: "The castle of Macduff I will surprise; seize upon Fife  4   (Macduff), give to the edge o' the sword His wife, his babes and all unfortunate souls who trace him in his line."

     A few words from the text of the tragedy are also relevant today, when there's a tragedy of even greater numbers, perpetrated upon a multitude of the unborn, the very young who are figuratively given "the edge of the sword." Forcibly taken from the womb, they are put to death, prevented from having their own lease of natural life,
and their own progeny.

     Macbeth believes he bears a "charmed life." But after he encounters Macduff and they fight, he learns that Macduff was taken surgically from his mother. As far as Birnam wood coming to the hill, soldiers cut boughs from Birnam wood, to carry before them for disguise, thus appearing as if the wood was moving.   Macbeth was deceived.    If people today believe they may cut down the life and limb of the unborn, they too are also deceived!

     Macbeth assumed governance as the King in Scotland.   Today, there are those in government who support accessibility to abortion. And it's not just found in government policy, but is also found in the policy of a major political party, in the platform of the Democrat Party.   These actions broaden the threat to the unborn, and put a mantle of approval over the evil of killing innocents.

     There was a man influential in the American history, who had a part in writing Virginia's Declaration of Rights which Thomas Jefferson drew upon in writing The Declaration of Independence. He worked hard at the Constitutional Convention, yet his signature is not upon the Constitution itself, partly because he would not compromise on slavery. He was George Mason.

     On August 22nd, 1787, during the debates of the federal convention, Col. Mason said, "Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of Heaven on a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities."

     Seventy some years later, our nation was torn apart by the Civil War, resulting in about a million casualties, and basic to the conflict was the issue of slavery, which involved a group of people. The unborn are a group of people as well. It doesnít matter how tiny or undeveloped they are, itís who they are. Itís that they exist as human. What has happened to them by the millions is even a greater wrong than those who were subjected to slavery, because itís more than an unjust treatment of people: itís the very taking of their lives.    It's tantmount to them being sacrificed for "a falsely perceived benefit."

     Farther back in history in 1487, according to the historian Warren Carroll (exactly three centuries before the federal convention), a temple was dedicated to an Aztec god in Tenochtitlan, in what is Mexico City today, and atop it, they sacrificed thousands of victims. The low figure was twenty thousand, the high one, was more than eighty thousand.    God did not permit human sacrifice to continue without end.  
Thirty some years later Tenochtitlan fell to the Spanish adventurer Cortes, and the Aztec nation would come to an end.

     Consider whether America might be vulnerable to chastisement for the slaughter of the innocents, which happens today, in another templethe temple of the body!

     Perhaps we can see a sign the Creator's displeasure in the severity of the weather in recent times, this compared to what could yet happen if we don't awaken to wickedness behind the wanton slaughter.

     The Founding Fathers left us with a Constitution that set up a structure of government and a framework of law, but it seems there are those in government who do not always abide by it. We hear of separation of powers, but we also hear of legislation from the bench. The Courts are supposed to decide whether a law is within the bounds of the Constitution There are those who are not good stewards of what we were bequeathed.

     The First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make no law, prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Yet we see what happened to Amy Barrett during the hearings for seat on the Circuit Court of Appeals.    One Senator said, "Do your consider yourself an 'Orthodox Catholic'." While another said, "The dogma lives loudly within you," and further stated, that her Catholic faith was of "of concern."

     Hillary Clinton, when running for the Presidency, said, "that deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."   It seems there's a threat in there to religious freedom.

The chairman of the Democrat National Committee declared that pro-life Americans are "no longer welcome" in the Party anymore.   So much for freedom of religion and fairness.

     The Democrat Governor of New York, Andrew Coumo, said there's no place for pro-life voters in his state anymore. That's pretty brazen!  Now Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), permitting abortion up to 24 weeks, when babies can survive outside the womb "and it creates lenient exceptions essentially sanctioning elective abortion up to the moment of birth."

These are indications of a pretty sad state of affairs.   

       Wherein abortion is promoted, supported and voted for by the people, they become culpable.     Wherein it's legislated into law or decided for by judicial decree, government officials are culpable.  As national policy, it becomes what George Mason was talking about.   Even without being formulated, if it's widespread in a nation, it's of serious concern.  Even one is too many.  Just being for it, is a murderous mentality!

       To ignore the spiritual aspect of this issue, doesn't bode well for our country.   God won't bless America for abortion!

      There were consequences to what issued from the mind of Macbeth and his wife.   Macbeth would literally lose his head and Lady Macbeth would say in Act V, scene i: "Here's the smell of blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." Malcolm, the son of King Duncan, says of her: "...'tis thought, by self and violent hands took off her life." She died in an apparent suicide, a tragedy in itself.

     It seems today some do not have a clear concept of when human life begins, nor what abortion truly means and the consequences from it. Abortion is what is defined in Moral Guidance, as "The unjust killing of an innocent person," and in
Right and Reason - Ethics in Theory and Practice, as the "direct and unjust killing of another human being." 5   As much as some might prefer to not hear this: these words define murder. At conception the child begins life as a human being with a soul.  

     Where is the use of intelligence, to think that the beginning of a human being, isn't a human being? Creatures reproduce their kind and become what they're meant to be. A human being in its cellular stage is not something else, its embryonic cells being knit to a soul with an eternal destiny beyond time.

     There's yet another phrase in Macbeth to think about. In Act III, Scene iv: Macbeth says, "I am in blood stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go oe'r:" Whatever Macbeth meant about "a tedious return" isn't certain, but the part about being stepp'd in blood does apply to abortion. And even using this description, as the infant's body is killed, its little spirit continues onward, going "o'er" the brink of eternity and on into its future. It lives in spirit ahead of those who've killed the body.

     Our nation, through certain people and misguided law, has sadly "stepp'd" in the blood of innocents! Yet, those bloodied by abortion may yet wade out of it, repent, reverse their course, and respect God's design for human life and existenceif only they would!

     When Macbeth was confronted by Macduff, Macbeth tells him, "...get thee back; my soul is too much charged with blood of thine already," which includes his babes, who were untimely ripp'd from life.

     It may be that many wouldn't take an interest in reading Shakespeare. But they should take an interest in this other tragedy being staged today―and writ all too large upon the land in innocent blood!

     "...untimely ripp'd" might bring something else to mind, sadly English as well. Some women in the impoverished slums of East London were victims of it; they not only had their throats cut and but even had their abdomens cut open in a grisly manner, murders that were ascribed to one Jack the Ripper. While those today who support accessibility to killing the infant unborn, do not prowl the dark streets and byways of London, they move about in the darkness of their mind, with the unborn their victims.

     They endanger not only the innocent ones but if what George Mason said comes to pass they place our nation itself in peril.

―John Riedell

     1. Imprimis, Volume 48, no. 2, February 2019, a publication of Hillsdale College, from a talk by Roger Kimball, Editor and Publisher, The NewCriterion. Kimball writes about the "erasure of history. " Remembered here are these words attributed to Omar Khayyam from his Rubiayat, written in 1120 A.D. : ďThe Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.Ē

     2. Some common expressions either coined or popularized by Shakespeare: Neither a borrower or lender be (Hamlet); Bated Breath (The Merchant of Venice); All our yesterdays (Macbeth); Brevity is the soul of wit (Hamlet); Break the ice (The Taming of the Shrew); Crack of doom (Macbeth); A dish fit for the gods (Julius Caesar); Dead as a doornail (Henry IV, Part II); Eaten out of house and home (Henry IV Part II); Faint hearted (Henry VI, Part I); Full circle (King Lear); "For goodness' sake " (Henry VIII) ; Fancy-free (A Midsummer's Night Dream); Foregone conclusion (Othello); Good Riddance (Troilus and Cressida); In my heart of hearts (Hamlet); In my mind's eye (also Hamlet); Laughing stock (The Merry Wives of Winsor); Wild goose chase (Romeo and Juliet); Milk of human kindness (Macbeth); Love is blind (The Merchant of Venice); Kill with kindness (The Taming of the Shrew); Knock, knock! Who's there? (Macbeth); Mum's the word ( Henry VI, Part II); Heart of gold ((Henry V); Lie low (MuchAdo About Nothing); Not slept one wink (Cymbeline); in stitches (Twelfth Night); Vanish in thin air (Othello); Own flesh and blood (Hamlet); All of a sudden (The Taming of a Shrew); Send him packing (Henry IV, Part I); A sorry sight (Macbeth) And more.

     3. Dunsinane hill: A fort known as Macbeth's castle. In a scene near Birnam wood, Malcolm, a son of the murdered king, says "Let every soldier hew him down a bough and bear 't before him: thereby shall we shadow the numbers of our host..."

     4. Macduff is the thane of Fife. A thane, in Scottish history is a person of rank who held land from the king, and is often the head of a clan.

     5. Moral Guidance, Loyola University Press, by Edwin Healy, S.J., Gregorian University, (and revised by James Meara, S.J., St. Louis University) and Right and Reason - Ethics in Theory and Practice by Austin Fagothey S.J., Professor of Philosophy, University of Santa Clara

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