This is a monster novel – 650 pages. But it is a wonderful read. This is a novel about Thomas Cromwell set mostly in the period 1527-1535. Cromwell was in the service of Cardinal Wolsey when Wolsey was the senior advisor to Henry VIII. Wolsey fell from favor and eventually died on his way to trial and Cromwell became a trusted advisor to Henry rising to the position of Secretary – master minding Henry’s desires. Cromwell was lawyer. The novel begins with Cromwell’s childhood – the hard life he lived – the running a way from home – the independence desire to survive – but it soon moves into his life as a married man in the service of Wolsey. Mantel makes it clear that Cromwell was a reformer – owning a copy of Tyndales New Testament – a book outlawed at that time in England. She also creates wonderful moments between Cromwell and Thomas More whom she paints as an eccentric – often shabbily dressed, but also as a champion for the mother church. Historically this is a very accurate novel – fictionally, it is very clever. The dialogue is swift and sometimes complex, not knowing if you are reading the characters thoughts or actual conversation with someone. However, Mantel draws you into the story as she develops the characters. She never makes Cromwell a hero – is he good, bad, amoral? You find yourself feeling strongly for him when he loses his wife and child to the sweating sickness, but she also draws out his ruthlessness in his pursuit to do Henry’s will. The novel ends mid-way through Cromwell’s career. He is still in power at the end and she does not tackle his downfall. If you love historical fiction then this is a must read. It is currently on the Booker shortlist.
The South Carolina Supreme Court has published its decision on the All Saints litigation, giving a complete victory to “big All Saints” (Chuck Murphy and Terrell Glenn’s church, and the AMiA), and rejecting the claims of the minority All Saints’, the Diocese and TEC to rights in the All Saints’ property.
In brief, the court found:
1) that the 1745 Pawley Trust was no longer valid, and thus that All Saints Parish, Waccamaw, Inc. held legal title to its property under South Carolina’s Church Act of 1767, and,
2) the Dennis Canon declaring that the Parish held its property in trust for the Diocese and the National Church under the Dennis Canon had any legal effecton title to the All Saints’ congregation’s property. The court cited the “axiomatic principle of law that a person or entity [i.e.TEC] must hold title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another….” [decision, p. 13 – internet copy]. Since TEC and the Diocese did not hold title to All Saints’ property, no TEC canon or diocesan action could create a trust interest in that property.
The court went on to hold that All Saints’ had properly/legally amended its by-laws and constitution in January 2004 to sever the church’s legal ties to TEC and the Diocese. In reaching this conclusion, the court overruled the decision of the lower court to apply “the deference approach” – a judicial approach to resolving church disputes which gives great deference to how the higher-up authorities in the church attempted to resolve the dispute – and instead applied the “neutral principles of law” approach which resolves the dispute using, in this case, principles of corporate law, property law and the law of trusts that would be used for any litigation. Since All Saints’ had properly complied with applicable “neutral principles of law” when it severed its ties to TEC and the Diocese, that severance was legal and binding.