Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Cheap, Obvious, True:
How to be a Good Republican

About four years ago, I got onto the forwarding list of a right-winger who just worships the ground George Bush walks on. This is the Republican from your worst nightmares...who apes every talking point Rush or Fox can come up with. I'm glad I got on this list however, because receiving these emails gives me an insight into the dark side of America that I would never otherwise receive.

Because of these emails, I've learned that Hillary Clinton has insulted Gold Star mothers, that an Iraqi Sculptor melted down bronze statues of Saddam to celebrate the conquering American Hero's and that Obama is the Manchurian Candidate of Islamo-Fascists.

The best things about these right-smears is that they can be spread by the thousands AND it is very hard to squelch their messages because the originator remains safely anonymous and the forwarder bears no responsibility for the mis-truths he forwards.
(See the great article from The Nation on this one for more...it's a good read. Go to: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071112/hayes)

But every once a while, a great Liberal answer comes back through the either and I print the following email below:

To be a Republican Presidential Candidate you have to believe:

1. Jesus loves you and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

2. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's Daddy made war on him, a good guy when Chaney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

3. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Viet Nam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

4. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational drug corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

6. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

7. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

8. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

9. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMO's and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

10. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

11. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

12. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

13. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

14. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

15. Supporting "Executive Privilege" for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity.)

16. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960's is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80's is irrelevant.

17. Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

If you don't send this to at least 10 other people, we're likely to be stuck with more Republicans in '08.

Friends don't let friends vote Republican.

Monday, December 24, 2007

God Save the Queen- Now on You Tube

These days, she reigns in a world facing the threat of terrorism and environmental ruin, a world on edge.

Yet just like her hair - still much the same style as when she first assumed the throne - the Queen has never wavered.

As historian John Grigg said, she has been "a bastion of stability in an age of social and moral flux".

From "God Save Our Aging Queen" in Australia's Herald Sun.

Queen Elizabeth recently, and quietly, became Britain's oldest living monarch a few days ago. (She will have to wait until 2016 to become the longest reigning monarch, that title is still held by Queen Victoria.)

And, keeping up with the spirit of the times, the AP reports that she has launched her own "You-Tube" page. This holiday will mark the first time that her Annual Christmas Message will be delivered via You-Tube, as well as by radio and Television.

The first televised Christmas Message is posted on You-Tube now...and, for those who value tradition, is a staid but enjoyable treat.

It is a deep seeded need in most of humanity to look to a sovereign in times of trouble- and I've often wondered if we, in America, may have made a mistake by doing away with such a position. The British model seems all but perfect- if we had had a solid head of state, would we have need to turn to a Reagan or set up a Bush in times of trouble? Would their roots have been able to scour such deep rents in the American Body Politic? We will never know, but it seems the British can thank their monarch for a great deal.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Carols by Candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall

Bobbi (assisted by Uncle Fred's wedding present) treated us to a wonderful Christmas gift on Sunday evening. The Mozart Festival Orchestra and Chorus presented "Carols by Candlelight"- a perfect mixture of 18th Century Classical Christmas Music and more traditional Christmas Carols.

We felt quite posh as we took our seats IN A BOX on one of the Grand Tiers...and throughly enjoyed the sprightly antics of Ian Clarke as he capered around the stage, leading the orchestra, told Christmas stories and spent the evening doing everything but standing still.

We are far away from friends and family this Christmas, but this was a great way to get into the seasonal mood!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Huckabee Split?

I opened my in-box this morning to find an interesting article from "The New Republic" entitled: "Smells Like Civil War" by
"The Huckabee surge," argues Dionne, "represents a break with what has been standard operating procedure within the GOP for more than a generation. Huckabee's evangelical Christian army in Iowa ignored the importuning of entrenched leaders of the religious right and decided to go with one of their own.

"Huckabee himself preaches a gospel of populism that rejects conservative orthodoxy on trade, the value of government and the beneficence of Wall Street."

The alliance between these disparate wings of the of the Republican story has been told many times, and is recounted quite well in Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas?" It is an alliance that has brought great benefits to the upper class in America. As Frank writes:

If you earn over $300,000 a year...raise a glass sometime to those indigent High Plains Republicans as you contemplate your good fortune: It is thanks to their self-denying votes that you are no longer burdened by the estate tax, or troublesome labor unions, or meddling banking regulators. Thanks to the allegiance of these sons and daughters of toil, you have escaped what your affluent forefathers used to call "confiscatory" income tax levels. It is thanks to them that you were able to buy two Rolexes this year instead of one and get that Segway with the special gold trim.

But according to the article in the New Republican, Huckabee is leading a group of rebellious primary voters who are ignoring their nominal religious leaders (who support the likes of Mitt Romney- a wealthy Mormon who seems to offer the more traditional Republican nod toward values while groveling before capital.)

The former Arkansas governor has exposed a fault line within the Republican coalition. The old religious right is dying because it subordinated the actual views of its followers to short-term political calculations. The white evangelical electorate is tired of taking orders from politicians who care more about protecting the wealthy than ending abortion, more about deregulation than family values.

Dionne's article goes on to point out that the cauldrons of Republican thought have already been bubbling with fears that Huckabee and Giuliani could split the G.O.P. from both ends. A new group, it has been argued by some, is emerging- some call them Sam's Club Republicans, others call them "pro-government conservatives". Dionne quotes a Pew Research Center report that describes these voters as "broadly religious and socially conservative, but they deviate from the party line in their backing for government involvement in a wide range of policy areas, such as government regulation and more generous assistance to the poor."

Huckabee, then is donning the mantle of heartland populism, a mantle which has been worn by Williams Jennings Bryan, George Wallace, and Pat Buchanan - that tragic American garment which can combine an enlightened economic view of the world with a social vision of smallness, repression, and primitive religious fervor.

We can only hope that Huckabee does his job well enough to deprive the Republican plutocracy of support they do not deserve, but does not do it so well that he plunges us into a new dark age of religious intolerance and backwardness.

I wonder if this country will ever learn the secret of separating populism for provincialism.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fun At the Office OR Bad Bush, Bad.

I love those times when I get to combine business with pleasure. Each year, my firm produces a piece of audio holiday fun and ships it to our clients. Hey, it's less fattening than cookies. In the past, we've stayed away from anything even remotely political - instead producing some fun, but innocuous material.

I don't know what got into our owner and chief writer this year, maybe after seven Christmases of this Crap- he just rebelled against the old dictum of not mixing business with politics- and wrote the following piece of Holiday Revenge.

Enjoy the results as George W. Bush gets a call from "The Department of Naughty and Nice"...

Happy Holidays!

PS- If the clip won't play from this page, go to

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Joys of the season

One of the first things Bobbi did when we arrived in London was to find a magazine which listed the best places to buy Christmas trees. We've been waiting eagerly until the time came (we didn't want all the good trees to be gone, but we'd like our tree to last past New Years so that it will be still be here for Christmas when Steve and Kate arrive.)

Bobbi finished with exams last week, and today she judged that the day had finally arrived. So off we set to the Christmas Forest on Goldhawk Road which is about 12 blocks down the street.

Well, frankly, our eyes were a little bigger than my shoulders....we purchased an nine foot monster and hoisted it up over my shoulder. I made it about a block before having to set it down. I wasn't particularly worried, BUT I did reconcile myself to the fact that it was going to take about three hours to travel the next 11 blocks.

"Ken I hep youu wit dat?" I heard a soft Scottish accent ask from behind the tree.

"Oh, no, no. I can get it. No problem", I turned see a pleasant looking fellow looking at me like I was nuts.

He finally took "no" for an answer, and I went another block, well, half a block and set the evergreen bundle down again.

"Are ye sure ya dinna wan a hand wi dat?" he asked me again.

Oh for heaven sake, I thought. Why can't people just mind their own business, what does this fellow want? I thought. A tip, just to help, or a chance to scope out my house and rob it?
It's odd that we look for danger or trouble where there probably isn't any, but that just seems to be the way we are wired.

"No, No. Really, I'm fine."

"Well, I gotta frebaraogarchurlgle, you know frebaraogarchurlgle?"

Honestly, I had no idea what he was saying but I realized that this man had lost his bid to remain an island, so I said "Sure".

"Right, well I'll jest go fetch et."

"Well, only if you let me buy you a drink after." I said.

And he went off to fetch the frebaraogarchurlgle, whatever it was, and I found myself wondering again what he would want...money, or worse yet, a never ending conversation about God knows what. Crazy thoughts went through my head...maybe he'll want a damn invitation to Christmas dinner.

The Scot returned with the frebaraogarchurlgle, which turned out to be the very perfect thing: a two wheeled hand truck. Together, we hoisted the tree up on to truck and pushed it back across the remaining ten blocks to home.

We had a great conversation about New Year's in Edinburgh, and our helper marveled at the fact that most American's seemed to be so keen on Scotland. I speculated that this was probably because so many American's had Scottish roots. We talked about the tree in Trafalgar Square, donated each year by the Norwegian people as a gift of thanks for British help against the Nazis.
He expressed a gratitude that the Americans jumped in when they did and I expressed a debt of thanks that the British were able to keep the Germans at Bay long enough for us to get our heads screwed on straight and learn where our duty lay.

Together we navigated down through the Christmas Shoppers and finally arrived at our house. He helped us get the tree to our door.

"Will you come in for something hot," asked Bobbi.

"Oh no, but thanks anyway".

"Well, here, anyway, please," I said, "please, let me at least buy you a drink. We couldn't have got this tree home without your help."
"Yes," laughed Bobbi, "it's a lot bigger than I think we thought!"

"Well, it' certainly a great beautiful tree," he said.

I passed him a few coins. "Please," I said, "I really want to buy you a drink in return for your help."

He seemed pleased to hear the coins jingle into his hands (I really didn't want to offend him, but I also wanted to say thank you, and so I was glad.)

He started off down the walk and I called "Thanks" one more time. "Oh, ye're welcome." he said.
Somehow, I felt reluctant to let him go, feeling that, despite the money, there was something left undone.

And then I took the step I had been so afraid of at the start. "I'm Alex, by the way." He didn't quite hear me. "Wha?" "Alex," I said, "That's my name."

"Oh," he said,taking the hand I offered. "I'm John".

"Thank you John," I said, "Merry Christmas."

"And to you too." he said. He gave me a smile and turned off down the walk bushing the frebaraogarchurlgle back into traffic and out of sight.

People,and especially me, I thought, sure are funny. And then I went into the house where my wife was decorating our gigantic British Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stating the Obvious

My friend Kate, of Gourmet Knitting Disaster, sent me a link to an essay in Newsweek by Marc Gellman. Entitled "The Houston Gospels: Reconciling Faith And Reason", the essay makes the case that, despite efforts of the right wing to argue to the contrary, Religion alone is not a relevant argument for or against any particular policy. This is not to deny that religion should inspire a citizen to take an interest in, and search for,answers to, questions of public interest...but religion must represent a starting point, not an end.

Religion, Gellman argues, may pose the question (about abortion, war, welfare, etc.) but Reason and only Reason may provide an acceptable answer that is accessible to all Americans.

Gellman writes:

The solution for the problem of politics and faith is for religious people to come to the public debates with reasons that an atheist can understand. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to civil rights from the language of faith, but he spoke to America in the language of American values and unaided human reason. He believed that racial discrimination was a sin, but he condemned it as unjust and a violation of the Bill of Rights. This is why he won.

Of course, this is all very basic stuff- it should be something that budding young American citizens take away from High School civics class, along with their diploma.

However, in a nation where Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are defined as Presidential Front Runners- then just listening to a dose of normal common sense is as welcome, and perhaps as necessary as a flu shot.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Everything Old is New Again

I sometimes feel that I missed the very best days of the internet...back when it was a free for all for information and fun stuff...before it became just another venue for commerce. I became computer literate just at the time all that cool stuff was, well, not disappearing, because it's still there, but getting harder for the Average Joe like me to find under the clutter of optimized commercial sites.

Do a search for an old piece of music, for example, and you'll land on I-Tunes or Amazon, who are more than willing to take your dollar.

But today, I stumbled on a completely neat, wonderful site completely devoid of any practical value, but a lot of fun....Internet Archives.

My Grandfather used to entertain his children, Grandchildren, wife and extended family, by singing the song of Anne Boleyn- with "Her 'head tucked underneath her arm"- and asked me, since I was in London to find a copy of the recording. I had no luck in the stores, but a trip to the internet took me to the Internet Archives.

What a great site. Internet Archives is host to the famous Wayback Machine (an archive of web pages from (gosh) decades (can you believe - decades?) past- but I never knew it was crammed full of so much other neat stuff!

A group of several collections of material, all of it in the public domain is housed there...

Not only did I find an MP3 version of the old British Novelty Record, but I also found a recording from the early 1900s of "The Wreck of the Old 97" a song my dad used to play on his guitar to sing me to sleep as a child.

You want to hear FDR's fireside chats, and download them...there they are....right alongside all the bootleg concert tapes that the Grateful Dead always allowed in the public domain....

At any rate, a great trip if you into collecting virtual junk...have fun.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

'Tis the Season but The Food Shelves are Bare

The view from across the pond is interesting. There is a lot about America that, of course, needs fixing. At the same time, there is a lot about our society which, while there is miles of room for improvement, makes me think twice (for instance, a few weeks ago, there was an article about Brits pulling out their own teeth rather than trust the National Health Dentists...Health Care in the U.S. is going to require careful engineering as we try to fix it.)

But there are a few things which I find completely intolerable and an article which ran in Saturday's Washington Post is one of the ultimate cases in point:

Cupboards Are Bare at Food Banks

Drops in Donations and Farm Surplus Cause Area Charities to Run Short

Area food banks are experiencing a critical shortage of supplies as donations drop dramatically and as demand for free and discounted food continues to soar.

A combination of strong farm sales overseas, consolidation and tightening of supply chains by supermarkets, and a decline in Government assistance have created a perfect storm which has lead to the shortage of help for those who need it most.

Many of these families, according to sources quoted in the Post article, are the working poor...meaning that they have jobs and are doing their level best to keep their heads above water...but it's not working.

And, according to the Post, condiditions are getting worse:
At the same time, economic factors have conspired to force many more people toward the brink of hunger. Calls to the food bank's Hunger Lifeline are up about 37 percent from last year...

"Good, working people are having a harder time making ends meet," said Kerrie Wilson, executive director of Reston Interfaith. "So far, we've not had to turn folks away, but we have limited the number of times we'll help someone. . . . You do less for more."

It is important, of course, that we work hard to ensure that leadership in this country is changed, but at the same time, it's not a bad idea to think about taking a page from the Republican play book ( in one respect, at least, WE can practice what THEY preach ) charity begins at home- and a gift of money or food to the local food bank would be a great way to celebrate the season.

Okay, I'm climbing off my soapbox now, and, just to keep ME honest, next time you see me, don't forget to ask if I have practiced what I was preaching.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Family Security

As an American living in the United Kingdom, I can't help but be fascinated by this country's relationship with Islam. While we have a fairly large Islamic population in the United States, our nation is so vast that most of us do not often encounter our Islamic fellow citizens unless we live in certain cultural enclaves.

In Britain, however, the situation is much different. Here in these Islands, people live cheek by jowl, and contact is constant. There is another difference, as well. While the United States was attacked on September 11th by outsiders, the United Kingdom has suffered from attacks by Muslims who were born here, who were raised here and who chose to kill here.

Therefore, in the United States, we are still somewhat free to view Islamic Terror is an external threat. While here in the United Kingdom, this is a threat that came from within.

I've been thinking about these matters lately because the head of MI5 recently warned of the dangers posed by a growing number of radicalized youth, and a study reveled that Jihadist literature was being sold in some of the nation's leading Mosques.

Today, the story again intruded on my thoughts. This time because I received an email from a right-wing correspondent back home in the States.

The email piece was entitled: "Salute the Danish Flag - it's a Symbol of Western Freedom." Originally run on a website called, Family Security Matters, purports to tell the story of how liberal Denmark fell from grace by allowing Muslims to enter their country, and then hold it hostage.

Here is the opening:

[I]n 1978 ...[t]he Danish population embraced visitors, celebrated the exotic, went out of its way to protect each of its citizens. It was proud of its new brand of socialist liberalism - one in development since the conservatives had lost power in 1929 - a system where no worker had to struggle to survive, where one ultimately could count upon the state as in, perhaps, no other western nation at the time.

The rest of Europe saw the Scandinavians as free-thinking, progressive and infinitely generous in their welfare policies. Denmark boasted low crime rates, devotion to the environment, a superior educational system and a history of humanitarianism.

However, because this brave and advanced little nation allowed radical Muslims into the fold, all of this began to change. (By the way, did you notice that paean to the welfare state? How often do you hear that in the Right Wing Cannon!? "a system where no worker had to struggle to survive, where one ultimately could count upon the state as in, perhaps, no other western nation at the time"-- bet the ditoheads didn't read that very carefully the first time!)

In fact, according to the article, Danish "commitment to multiculturalism would come back to bite".

By the 1990's the growing urban Muslim population was obvious - and its unwillingness to integrate into Danish society was obvious. Years of immigrants had settled into Muslim-exclusive enclaves. As the Muslim leadership became more vocal about what they considered the decadence of Denmark’s liberal way of life, the Danes - once so welcoming - began to feel slighted. Many Danes had begun to see Islam as incompatible with their long-standing values: belief in personal liberty and free speech, in equality for women, in tolerance for other ethnic groups, and a deep pride in Danish heritage and history.

The New York Post in 2002 ran an article by Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard, in which they forecasted accurately that the growing immigrant problem in Denmark would explode. In the article they reported:

· "Muslim immigrants…constitute 5 percent of the population but consume upwards of 40 percent of the welfare spending."

· "Muslims are only 4 percent of Denmark's 5.4 million people but make up a majority of the country's convicted rapists, an especially combustible issue given that practically all the female victims are non-Muslim. Similar, if lesser, disproportions are found in other crimes."

· "Over time, as Muslim immigrants increase in numbers, they wish less to mix with the indigenous population. A recent survey finds that only 5 percent of young Muslim immigrants would readily marry a Dane."

· "Forced marriages - promising a newborn daughter in Denmark to a male cousin in the home country, then compelling her to marry him, sometimes on pain of death - are one problem..."

· "Muslim leaders openly declare their goal of introducing Islamic law once Denmark's Muslim population grows large enough - a not-that-remote prospect. If present trends persist, one sociologist estimates, every third inhabitant of Denmark in 40 years will be Muslim."

Leaving aside the veracity of the Post as a news source for a moment, this article unintentionally exposes the paradox of our Western Delema. On the one hand, the author praises the multiculturalism of the Danes, noting their national heroism as they smuggled most of their Jewish population to safety in the face of Nazi aggression. On the other hand, she all but blames that same openness on the part of the Danes for allowing the Muslim stranger to enter into this citadel.

And she offers the whole thing up as a cautionary tale for us at home:

meanwhile, Americans clamor for stricter immigration policies, and demand an end to state welfare programs that allow many immigrants to live on the public dole. As we in America look at the enclaves of Muslims amongst us, and see those who enter our shores too easily, dare live on our taxes, yet refuse to embrace our culture, respect our traditions, participate in our legal system, obey our laws, speak our language, appreciate our history . . . we would do well to look to Denmark, and say a prayer for her future and for our own.

There IS a thorny problem for us here, because the danger is real, and we in the west, as evidenced by the threat, and the fact, of home grown terrorism MUST deal with the balance between acceptance and assimilation.

This site, however, does the discussion no good service. Instead of seeing this as a n intense problem of justice, this site suggests that we view the problem in simple racial terms. (If you don't understand why I might say this, look again at the picture on the site's banner- a fashion-model mother, white, holds a fair-haired Aryan boy up against the American Flag. If this is NOT a subliminal appeal to racism that, in it's pandering to the subconscious, would make Freud blush, I don't know what is.)

I must admit, however, that I am so baffled by this problem that I couldn't finish this blog entry when I originally wrote it. I fear for us if we can't find that balance- and yet I distrust both a right-wing too prone to fascist tactics (see Newt Gingrich's calls for the restriction of Free Speach) and a left wing too devoted to a fantastical view of a human nature unsoiled by anything other than Americanism.

For more about this fun little white-wing, oops, RIGHT-Wing, front group- go to Source Watch

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Turkey Time In London

Of course, there is no Thanksgiving Day in London. That is only for the Puritans who went to Massachusetts. The Puritans who stayed home had a civil war with their King and chopped his head off- but it turned out that, in the long run, nobody was very thankful, and so eventually they invited the King's son to come home and be King and everybody did their best to try and forget that the whole thing ever happened.

So, no Thanksgiving for the British...just a good early start on Christmas.

Still, as Patriotic Americans- hell, NEW ENGLANDERS at that, we had to do something. So Bobbi, god bless her, found a barbecue place called Bodeans.

There is nothing to replace a home cooked Thanksgiving dinner, surrounded by friends and family... and maybe I had to learn that. The BBQ Brits did a good job, all in all, but here's what I found out is absolutely indispensable in a Thanksgiving dinner:
  • The Turkey- it must come in hunks, not in wafer thin slices. Both light and dark meat MUST be available.

  • Cranberry Sauce- duh!

  • Pie- More than one kind!

  • Lots of Friends and/or family

  • and most importantly....


But it was fun to be out with Bobbi and we had a good time... in the meantime, both Heather and Kate at GKD and Russell at NYCStories have great Thanksgiving entries....Kate gets the prize for best photo...Russell gets the prize for best turkey platter.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Time to Read

The last few days, I've been coming down with nasty cold. The bright side is that it has kept me in bed, and allowed me to catch up on a lot of reading.

I'm not a big reader of fiction...not because I don't enjoy it but because there is so much history that I don't know, or don't know well enough (and when I've O.D.'d on history, then there are contemporary politics to try to keep track of)... but I was fortunate the other day to find a series of books by British Historical Novelist, Bernard Cornwell.

Alfred, a Saxon who ruled the Kingdom of Wessex (now southern England), is fighting for the life of the Island against the Danes who come across the sea in wave after wave to take the land from the Anglo-Saxons. It is against this background that Cornwell sets the story of Uthred, a young Saxon who was raised by Danes, but who fights for Alfred the Great, whom he both admires and despises.

It's been a fun book, and seems to be well researched. There are two keys, I think, to good historical fiction- one is that the author stays true to the spirit of the events- for many histro-phobic readers, this will, after all, be their first exposure to the events- the second is that, when the author changes history, that he acknowledges it somewhere in the book. Cornwell does both.

Not only is it a good story, in the sense that you always want to know what is going to happen next, but it also raises the curtain on a second conflict, that between Christianity and Paganism.

The books don't become overwhelming- they are, after all, adventure stories- but it is interesting to contrast the pragmatic Paganism of the Norsemen- fight, die with your sword in hand, go to Valhalla- with the often sickly and rickety examples of the Christian Saxons- we watch as time and time again, the forces of the Saxons choose the wrong course because they are following the advice of their Christian priests.

...and yet, it was Christianity that won out as a belief system...makes you wonder what social forces where at work - what was it about Chritianity that, in the end, triumphed over paganism?
I don't think we'll get any answers from Cornwell, he's just out to tell a ripping good yarn...but it does raise the question.