Jane Austen wrote the following passage about the death of Sir John Moore serving in a campaign by the English army in a letter to her sister written in early 1809:
"We were very glad to know Aunt Fanny was in the country when we read of
the fire. Pray give my best compliments to the Mrs. Finches, if they
are at Gm. I am sorry to find that Sir J. Moore has a mother living,
but though a very heroic son he might not be a very necessary one to her
happiness. Deacon Morrell may be more to Mrs. Morrell.
I wish Sir John had united something of the Christian with the hero in his
death. Thank heaven! we have had no one to care for particularly among
the troops -- no one, in fact, nearer to us than Sir John himself. Col.
Maitland is safe and well; his mother and sisters were of course anxious
about him, but there is no entering much into the solicitudes of that family."
There has been a great deal of controversy as to what Jane Austen meant by "I wish Sir John had united something of the Christian with the hero in his
death." What was a "Chrisian hero" to her?
I don't know what JA meant by that, but reading the Internet this morning, I found a very clear example of a true Christian hero whom Jane Austen would have cheered:
Here are Jimmy Carter's closing words:
"I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant
about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are
powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I,
who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about
winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to
challenging injustice wherever we see it.
The Elders are an independent group of eminent global
leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson
Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace
building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the
shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular
attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in
ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a
statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against
women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were
prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."
We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the
harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify
discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all
religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive
messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths
The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to
justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the
determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than
eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the
approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.
I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same
Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the
years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests,
bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth
century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted
Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the
The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still
have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or
subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly
chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or
justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women
throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus
Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders
of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and
equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the
courage to challenge these views."
To the above, Jane Austen, whose Christianity was, I believe, very similar to Carter's, would only have nodded and said,"Amen, brother".
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/losing-my-religion-for-equality-20090714-dk0v.html#ixzz2IWc41rIp
- Deirdre Le Faye & Me: "I am a scholar, she is a scholar: so far we are equal"
- The Hunger Games’s Veiled Allusion to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus
- Darcy's "We neither of us perform to strangers": a Radical New Interpretation
- August Wayne Booth in Once Upon A Time: Jane Austen Really IS Everywhere in 2012!
- 20 shades of hero/villain Mr. Darcy