Friday, August 27, 2010

Diana Spencer Princess of Wales

“Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back if only they had the chance.”

Diana, Princess of Wales

Somebody's "little girl"

"Mummy" to William and Harry

"The People's Princess"

Princess Diana was an iconic figure of the late 20th Century. During her life she was often said to be the most photographed person, appearing on the cover of People magazine more than anyone else. She epitomised feminine beauty and glamour. At the same time she was admired for her groundbreaking charity work, in particular her work with AIDS patients and supporting the campaign for banning landmines. Married to Prince Charles in 1981 she received the title of “Her Royal Highness Princess Diana of Wales” She is the Mother of Prince William and Prince Harry 2nd and 3rd in line to the throne respectively.

Diana did not shine as a student at school. When she met her future husband Diana was working as a part time assistant in a nursery school in London. In 1981 Diana married Prince Charles. Diana was 13 years the junior at age of just 20, Charles by contrast was 33 at the time of the wedding. The general public soon warmed to the innocence and beauty of Princess Diana and the wedding was watched by over 1 billion people world wide. During their marriage they had two sons Prince William and Prince Harry. However in the mid 1980s strains started to appear in the marriage and, under much publicity broke, up leading to a divorce in 1992.

As Princess of Wales, Diana was expected to take part in various official engagements such as opening of hospitals. This provided a natural outlet for her to become involved in various types of charitable work. Her natural sympathy and oneness with patients was much admired. In 1987 Princess Diana was one of the first well known celebrities to be photographed with a victim of AIDS. This was important in changing attitudes to the disease. At the time many thought the disease could be contacted by touch alone. Another of her high profile charities was her willingness to be a leading figure in the campaign to ban landmines. In January 1997 she visited mine fields in Angola to inspect the clearing of landmines. After her death the Ottawa treaty was signed banning the use of anti-personnel landmines. Many agree that her support and role in the campaign played an important role in influencing this decision.

Shortly before her death, June 18th Princess Diana met with Mother Teresa. Both admired each other. Mother Teresa always said “Diana is my daughter.” With utmost humility Diana said “I am a very, very small Mother Teresa. Sri Chinmoy said of Princess Diana

“Princess Diana, your heart of sympathy covers the length and breadth of the world. There shall come a time when the entire world will value you most sincerely, most lovingly and most wholeheartedly." (2)

Despite the pervasive press intrusions into her private life, Diana remained very popular because people could identify with her. Her hands on approach to charity work gave the impression of a new type of Royal who was no longer so remote.

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Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley
August 30, 1797 - February 1, 1851

Mary Shelley was born on August 30, 1797 to unorthodox parents and Wollstonecraft Godwin. It was apparent that the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was going to be out of step with the ordinary from the moment of her birth on August 30, 1797. She had both unorthodox parents and an orthodox family structure: her father, William Godwin, was a celebrated philosopher and historian who had briefly been a Calvinist minister. A cold, remote man who overate grossly and borrowed money from anyone who would give him a loan, he had little time for anything but his philosophical endeavors. This intellectual single-mindedness was somewhat modulated by his passion for Mary Wollstonecraft. With the possible exception of William Blake, Wollstonecraft was the most influential of the Enlightenment radicals. Having declared herself independent at the age of twenty-one, she ran a school with her sisters and was the respected friend of the philosopher Samuel Johnson. While in France, she had an affair with an army captain which ended in the birth of her first daughter, Fanny. After the soldier abandoned her and the child, she returned to England and attempted suicide. Happily or unhappily, she failed, and began writing in a variety of genres. It was her revolutionary feminist writings, however, that won her lasting fame.

The first meeting between Godwin and Wollstonecraft took place at a dinner party at Godwin's home. Drawn to each other by virtue of their shared philosophical beliefs, the two began an affair begun in the autumn of 1796. When Mary discovered that she was pregnant, the couple decided to marry in order to legitimate both of Mary's children. The couple, however, in adherence to their enlightened views, continued to live and work independently. The pair remained devoted to each other, and Godwin was devastated when Wollstonecraft died shortly after the birth of their daughter, Mary. Although he was fond of his daughters, the task of raising them alone proved too much for Godwin, and he immediately set about finding a second wife. His proposal to Maria Reveley, who would later become Mary's best friend, was rejected.

He later married Mary Jane Clairmont, the first woman to respond to his overtures. This second wife proved to be a cruel, shallow woman who neglected Fanny and Mary in favor of her own children. Mary (who was so lively that her father had nicknamed her Mercury) was frequently whipped for impertinence; rebellion came naturally to the headstrong Mary, and she refused to be subdued. Though the girls were given lessons in domesticity (cooking, cleaning, and other wifely duties) Mary could not feign interest in such pursuits: she would simply take up a book and let the dinner burn. Her father was the most important person in her life, and his favor meant everything to her. She excelled in her lessons and could hold her own in adult conversation ? often with the great minds of her time from a remarkably early age. Around the age of eight, she began reading the writings of her mother. By the time she was ten, she had memorized every word.

Mary spent hours at her mother's grave, reading or eating meals when the atmosphere at home was particularly bad. This habit continued well into her teens, when she was sent to live at Ramsgate with a Miss Petman. This move was prompted by Mary's frailty and inability to concentrate at home. From Ramsgate, she journeyed to Scotland to stay with Baxter, a close friend of her father's. Living with the Baxters was the happiest time that Mary had thereto known. When she returned to London a year later, she had grown into a woman. She became closer to her father than ever before, and the two engaged in constant philosophical debate. This served, predictably, to augment her stepmother's hatred.

Draft of Frankenstein

The poet Percy Shelley, a devoted follower and friend of William Godwin's, began spending a great deal of time in the Godwin home. Although he was married, his presence made an immediate impression on Mary, who began to read poetry at his inducement. Shelley's genuine admiration for the works of Mary's mother earned him her trust ? she invited him to accompany her on her visits to her mother's grave, and the two became inseparable. Their intellectual kinship was passionately felt by both of them, and they rapidly fell in love. Godwin was furious at this development, and immediately barred the poet from his home. The couple, however, refused to be separated and began a clandestine correspondence. With the help of Mary's stepsister, they were able to elope.

Setting up housekeeping in London was expensive, and money was very tight for the newly married pair. Relations between them were somewhat strained: Shelley's first wife Harriet belatedly bore him a son, and his good friend Thomas Hogg became enamored of Mary. To make matters worse, Mary became pregnant; the child, a daughter, died shortly after birth. Mary fell into an acute depression.

Having conceived a dislike for London (perhaps as a result of their misfortunes), the couple began traveling: in the English countryside, in France, and elsewhere. Mary was writing profusely, and published Frankenstein in 1818. No one could have predicted the extent of the book's popularity: it would remain the most widely-read English novel for three decades. Although it was maliciously rumored that Percy Shelley was the book's true author, Mary was catapulted to the forefront of the struggle for recognition then being waged by woman writers.

Tragically, Percy Shelley drowned in a shipwreck in 1822. Though Mary was desolate, she remained dedicated to her son, Percy Florence.

She spent the remainder of her life championing her husband's neglected poetry, and was eventually successful in forcing its publication. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley died in her sleep at age fifty-four.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Maria Anna Mozart

Maria Anna Mozart
(30 July 1751 – 29 October 1829)

Maria Anna Mozart, beloved nicknamed Nannerl, was the elder and only sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As children, both were considered gifted musical prodigies and their father, Leopold, arranged tours to display their talents to the masses in the grandest capitals of Europe. Both children could play the most challenging pieces and could compose into notes any song they heard.

They enjoyed a pleasant childhood, indulging their musical creativity and creating their own childish kingdom. As Nannerl and Wolfgang’s musical genius progressed into composition, her adoring younger brother greatly praised and encouraged her work. At a concert, when he announces that the piece he has just played was written by his sister, Leopold is incensed. He orders Nannerl to never compose music again because in the 18th century, women did not become composers.

Thereafter, Leopold focused all his attentions on Mozart, not Nannerl. He refused to allow her to study the violin and composition. Leopold announces Nannerl must remain at home when he takes Wolfgang on tour and obliges her to give piano lessons to wealthy students to finance her brother’s Italian tour. Her dreams shattered, Nannerl complies, but falls into a deep depression.

Victoria, one of her students, becomes her protégé. Through Victoria, Nannerl’s passion for music is re-awakened. When Victoria’s father becomes interested in her, he rekindles her spirit. Her relationship with Mozart, however, is plagued by years of separation and the preference of their father for his son and not his daughter. Nannerl struggles not only with the loss of her hopes and dreams, but also with the ever-growing estrangement with her brother and her father who refuses to recognize her talents because of the laws of society which will not allow a woman to enter the wold of musical composition.

Even her choice of suiters were one-by-one turned away by Leopold. In 1784, she married the magistrate Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg (1736-1801) and moved to St. Gilgen. Nannerl returned to Salzburg to give birth to her first son and left the newborn there in Leopold's care.

Nannerl grew ever more distant from Wolfgang, especially after his marriage to Constanze Weber. They resumed corresponding briefly after the death of their father, but by then, their affection for each other had all but disappeared and Mozart's brief letters to her dealt almost exclusively with the disposition of their father's estate.

When Wolfgang dies, Nannerl re-awakens to life and makes it her purpose to honor her brother by collecting and assembling all his compositions and erecting monuments to honor his life.

After her huband’s death, Maria Anna returned to Salzburg and supported herself once again by giving piano lessons. She died on October 29, 1829, and was buried in St. Peter’s cemetary.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Amina of Zaria

Amina of Zaria
(1533 - 1633?)

Amina was born around 1533 in Zaria, a province of today’s Nigeria. She was the daughter of Bakwa of Turunku. Their family's wealth was derived from the trade of leather goods, cloth, kola, salt, horses and imported metals.

When Bakwa died in 1566, the crown of Zazzua passed to Amina’s younger brother, Karama. Their sister, Zaria, fled the region and little is known about her.

Although Bakwa's reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina chose to hone her military skills from the warriors of the Zazzau military. As a result, she emerged as leader of the Zazzua cavalry. Many accolades, great wealth, and increased power resulted from her numerous military achievements.

When her brother Karama died after a ten-year rule, Amina had matured into a fierce warrior and had earned the respect of the Zazzau military and she assumed the reign of the kingdom.

Amina led her first military charge a few months after assuming power. For the rest of her 34 year reign, she continued to fight and expand her kingdom to the greatest in history. The objective for initiating so many battles was to make neighbouring rulers her vassal and permit her traders safe passage. In this way, she boosted her kingdom’s wealth and power with gold, slaves, and new crops. Because her people were talented metal workers, Amina introduced metal armor, including iron helmets and chain mail, to her army.

To her credit, she fortified each of her military camps with an earthen wall. Later, towns and villages sprung up within these protective barriers. The walls became known as Amina’s Walls and many of them remain in existence to this day.

According to legend, Amina refused to marry and never bore children. Instead, she took a temporary husband from the legions of vanquished foes after every battle. After spending one night together, she would condemn him death in the morning in order to prevent him from ever speaking about his sexual encounter with the queen.

Legend also decrees she died during a military campaign at Atagara near Bida in Nigeria. Her exploits earned her the moniker Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man. Her legendary escapades made her the model for the television series Xena Warrior Princess. Today, her memory represents the spirit and strength of womanhood.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Anne Marbury Hutchinson

Anne Marbury Hutchinson
(1591 - 1643)

Anne Marbury was born in Alford, Lincolnshire, the eldest daughter of a strong-willed Anglican priest who had been imprisoned and removed from office because of his demand for a better-educated clergy. In 1605 the family moved to London, where her father was reinstated to the clergy. He died in 1611, leaving his daughter a legacy of biblical scholarship and religious independence. The following year Anne returned to her birthplace as the bride of William Hutchinson, a prosperous cloth merchant. For the next 20 years she operated the household, acquired a knowledge of medicinal herbs, and cared for over a dozen children.

Hutchinson also continued her father's religious individualism. Adopting Puritanism, she often journeyed to St. Botolph's Church in Boston, England, to hear John Cotton, one of England's outstanding Puritan ministers. When the Anglican Church silenced him and he left for the colony of Massachusetts in America, Hutchinson became extremely distraught. She finally persuaded her husband to leave for America, so that she could follow her religious mentor.

The Hutchinson family was well received in Massachusetts. William Hutchinson was granted a desirable house lot in Boston, and both husband and wife quickly became church members. William Hutchinson resumed his career as a merchant, became a landowner, and was elected a town selectman and deputy to the General Court. Hutchinson's experience with medicinal herbs made her much in demand as a nurse, and she made many friends. When she was criticized for failing to attend weekly prayer meetings in the homes of parishioners, she responded by holding meetings in her own home. She began by reiterating and explaining the sermons of John Cotton but later added some of her own interpretations, a practice that was to be her undoing.

John Cotton
(1585 - 1682)

John Cotton was an intelligent and subtle theologian who had articulated an extremely fine balance between the value of God's grace and the value of good works in achieving salvation. While the Puritans believed that salvation was the result of God's grace, freely given to man, they also maintained that good works, or living the moral life, were important signs of that salvation and necessary preparation for the realization that one had received God's grace. But grace and works had to be kept in proper balance. To overemphasize works was to argue that man could be responsible for his own salvation and thus would deny God's power over man. On the other hand, to overemphasize grace was to assert a religious individualism that denied the necessity of moral living and by implication rejected clerical leadership, church discipline, and civil authority. While Cotton had maintained his balance in this most difficult of issues, Hutchinson did not, and she finally came to stress grace to the exclusion of works in determining salvation. The origin of her views is difficult to discover. Certainly Cotton had influenced her. She probably held her beliefs prior to her arrival in Boston, but she evidently did not advance them until the meetings in her home.

As her meetings became more popular, Hutchinson drew some of Boston's most influential citizens to her home. Many of these were town merchants and artisans who had been severely criticized for profiteering in prices and wages; they saw in Hutchinson's stress on grace a greater freedom regarding morality and therefore more certainty of their own salvation.

But others came in search of a more meaningful and personal relationship with their God. As she attracted followers and defenders, the orthodox Puritans organized to oppose her doctrines and her advocates.

The issue of grace as opposed to works assumed political significance and ultimately divided Massachusetts into hostile camps. The orthodox Puritans called the Hutchinson group "Antinomians," or those who denied the applicability of moral law to the saved, and the Hutchinsonians referred to orthodox Puritans as "Legalists," or those who trusted only the observance of church laws as a sign of salvation. The orthodox Puritans, always a majority in the colony, came to demand repudiation of what seemed not only religious error but also potential social chaos. If Hutchinson's views predominated, they reasoned, individual conscience would replace clerical and civil authority as the standard for public conduct.

The Puritan orthodoxy began its assault on the dissenters in the May 1637 election. Henry Vane, a Hutchinson defender, was defeated for reelection to the governorship by John Winthrop, an opponent of her views. In the summer a synod was called in order that the "errors" of the Hutchinsonians could be identified and dealt with by the government. Following a special election in October, in which the orthodoxy increased its political strength, the government moved against individuals. Boston's pro-Hutchinson deputies were not permitted to take their seats in the General Court, and Hutchinson's brother-in-law John Wheelwright (previously convicted for sedition and contempt because of a sermon preached in defense of grace) was banished.

The court then moved against Hutchinson. It was a difficult situation. As a woman, her words had not been public and she had not participated in the political maneuvers surrounding the controversy. Called before the court, she was accused of sedition and questioned extensively. She defended herself well, however, demonstrating both biblical knowledge and debating skill. She returned the next morning to be aided by John Cotton's testimony about her beliefs, which differed from the report of the clergymen who had spoken for the court. This conflicting evidence would have cleared her, but she brashly intervened and, before it was over, had declared herself the recipient of direct revelations from God, without aid of either Scripture or clergy. This assertion of direct communion with God was regarded as the vilest heresy by all, and it sealed her doom. She was banished as a woman "not fit for [Massachusetts] society."

While Hutchinson's trial was, by modern standards, a gross miscarriage of justice, it was not unjust according to the standards of 17th-century England, where, generally, in sedition cases a formal defense was not permitted and a jury was not used. Yet even by 17th-century standards, a mistrial occurred when the same men sat both as prosecution and judge, for her guilt had been thus "known" by the General Court long before she even presented herself to it.

After her sentencing, Hutchinson's importance waned. Her strongest supporters had either left Massachusetts or been banished, and her idol, John Cotton, had finally allied himself with the orthodoxy. The result of her investigation by the Boston congregation was a foregone conclusion. Her attempt to renounce her former errors was taken as incomplete by the clergy, and she was excommunicated for the sin of lying. Within a week she and her family departed for Rhode Island, where she was free to practice her religious views. In 1642 her husband died, and Hutchinson moved with her six youngest children to Long Island and then to the New Netherland (New York) mainland. In the late summer of 1643, Hutchinson and all but one of her children were killed in an Indian attack.

It was a sad end for an important religious figure. Hutchinson's emphasis on grace as the only requirement for salvation was an important step toward the achievement of religious freedom--that is, the ability to follow the dictates of one's own conscience in matters of belief--in America.

This is a list of beliefs for which Anne Hutchinson was prosecuted, and was transcribed from: The Heresies of Anne Hutchinson and Her Followers, by Rev. Thomas Welde of the fisrt church of Roxbury, Massachusetts; The Preface to "A Short Story of the Rise, Reign, and Ruin of Antimonians." (1644).

Anne Hutchinson's Creed

That the Law and the preaching of it, is of no use at all to drive a man to Christ.

That a man is united to Christ and justified, without faith; yea, from eternity.

That faith is not a receiving of Christ, but a man's discerning that he hath received him already.

That a man is united to Christ only by the work of the Spirit upon him, without any act of his.

That a man is never effectually Christ's, till he hath assurance.

This assurance is only from the witness of the Spirit.

This witness of the Spirit is merely immediate, without any respect to the word, or any concurrence with it.

When a man hath once this witness he never doubts more.

To question my assurance, though I fall into murder or adultery, proves that I never had true assurance.

Sanctification can be no evidence of a man's good estate.

No comfort can be had from any conditional promise.

Poverty in spirit (to which Christ pronounced blessedness, Matt. v. 3) is only this, to see I have no grace at all.

To see I have no grace in me, will give me comfort; but to take comfort from sight of grace, is legal.

An hypocrite may have Adam's graces that he had in innocence.

The graces of Saints and hypocrites differ not.

All graces are in Christ, as in the subject, and none in us, that Christ believes, Christ loves, etc.

Christ is the new Creature.

God loves a man never the better for any holiness in him, and never the less, be he never so unholy.

Sin in a child of God must never trouble him.

Trouble in conscience for sins of Commission, or for neglect of duties, shows a man to be under a covenant of works.

All covenants to God expressed in works are legal works.

A Christian is not bound to the Law as a rule of his conversation.

A Christian is not bound to pray except the Spirit moves him.

A minister that hath not this new light is not able to edify others: that have it.

The whole letter of the Scripture is a covenant of works.

No Christian must be pressed to duties of holiness.

No Christian must be exhorted to faith, love, and prayer, etc., except we know he hath the Spirit.

A man may have all graces, and yet want Christ.

All a believer's activity is only to act sin.

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