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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

November 6, 2005

what the fawkes?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 7:24 pm

Guy Fawkes Night was the subject of a haiku posted yesterday by

guy fawkes night
a catherine wheel’s
stop-start spin


As often happens with poetry by the lad from Wales, at his   “fireworksSM”

Morden Haiku weblog, I had to do some quick cross-cultural research

to fully appreciate the poem.  That led me to a short history course

on Guy Fawkes and his Gunpower Plot.  Although Prof. B. won’t like

the source (the Penumbra website), here’s a short explanation:

“Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated in Britain annually on

November 5th. The event is accompanied by firework displays,

the lighting of bonfires and the ceremonial effigy-burning of one

Guy Fawkes. The origin of this celebration stems from events

which took place in 1605 and was a conspiracy known as “The

Gunpowder Plot,” intended to take place on November 5th of

that year (the day set for the opening of Parliament). The object

of The Gunpowder Plot was to blow up English Parliament along

with the ruling monarch, King James I. It was hoped that such a

disaster would initiate a great uprising of English Catholics, who

were distressed by the increased severity of penal laws against

the practice of their religion.”

According to Wikipedia, Guy Fawkes Night, which is also called Bonfire Night

(and even Pope Night), now has little political or sectarian significance (except

in Lewes — does anyone know why?).   It has become the primary night for

fireworks in much of Great Britain (and the Empire).  The year 2005 was, of course,

time for special festivities, as it’s the 400th Anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. 


fireworksSmN  This got me wondering whether my Catholic weblogging friends and

colleagues — like Prof. Bainbridge, the folks at Mirror of Justice, and the RiskProf

Martin Grace observed Guy Fawkes Night?   America’s Catholics may be about 

to outdo their British cousins, with Sam Alito poised to created a majority of

Catholics on our Supreme Court.  So, did Prof. B. plan his own Gunpowder Plot,

or at least set off some firecrackers?  Did Randy Barnett cook up some bonfire toffee


Guy Fawkes Night —
treacle better taste better

than it sounds


              dagosan    [Nov. 6, 2005]


Before he got into the Guy Fawkes Punch, I bet the RiskProf took note that

Guy Fawkes Night gives rise to a remarkable number of insurance claims,

due to firework damage to homes and cars, personal injuries, and emotional 

The Scotsman, Nov. 5, 2005; radionz., “Busy . . night for emergency services,”

Nov. 6, 2005.)   Fireworks and rum punch apparently don’t mix very well.


I’ll be travelling tomorrow to the DC area.  Perhaps, visitors will tell me more

Guy Fawkes lore in the Comments.   Meanwhile, go here to find samples of

Guy Fawkes chants and ditties.   And, enjoy two more haiku from



fawkesG   orig.



mid-life crisis
raking up leaves
in the wind





autumn dusk
following a poet’s car
to the rainbow’s end 


from Haiku Canada Newsletter –  Vol XVIII Feb 2005 No.1





potluck treacle

tiny check Speaking of Randy Garnett and Steve Bainbridge, they are both insisting that

a Catholic Supreme Court justice will not have to vote against abortion and

euthanasia (and maybe gay rights and the death penalty), to stay in good stead

with the Church.   The distinction that they make between legislating and acting

as a judge is nowhere made in Church doctrine.  (see Andrew Sullivan’s take)

As I have explained elsewhere,



Morally, then, a Supreme Court justice seems to have the same obligations

as a legislative “lawmaker” when voting on current Non-Negotiable matters 

(and any others as they are declared by the Church).  When dealing with

“intrinsically unjust” laws that permit or promote conduct the Church considers 

as always evil, a Supreme Court justice who wants to comply with teachings

 in the Doctrinal Note on Political Participation seems to have no choice but

to avoid “voting for,” “obeying,” or otherwise cooperating with such a law.  To

do so would be a grave sin.  Likewise, when presented with a law or decision

that cuts back on such evils, the justice — like the legislator — would be expected

to support the new limitations. 

The Church says the greater your ability to affect evil, the greater your responsibility

to act against it.   Why else have so many conservative Catholics voiced such dismay 

that current members of the Court, who claim to be Catholic, have continued to support 

Roe v. Wade?   I wish we could get an Advisory Opinion from the Vatican.  There’s one

thing for sure: The Vatican does have the power to declare that a judge must act to defeat

“intrinsically evil” laws when given the opportunity.  Perhaps, its waiting for that Catholic

majority on the Supreme Court before making that responsibility clear. 


update: Steve Bainbridge has another post on this topic, and I left a Comment for him.


                                                                                                                                                                        leaves flying



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