Monday, October 31, 2011

Europe and the Faith

I heard about Hillaire Belloc about 5 years ago from a classmate.  I had yet to delve into any of his works, until this past month.  Europe and the Faith was a great work introduction to his work.  His life work was to reconnect Britain with the Church.  He recognized modern man and his slow and sometimes violent turning away from Church established by Christ and maintained by his spirit.  

One of the modus operandi of Belloc's vision of history is that history is not merely material.  The effects of history are not merely human.  The thrusts and forces that move history toward or away from God and His Church are "not of this world."  There are things in history, like the Reformation, especially in England, that cannot merely be explained by human forces.  Cultural things collided.  Greed was rampant.  All would have fell had it been in on the shoulders of German princes and few radical minds.  It, however, gained force and permanency through the ascendancy to its minor positions by a single monarch, Henry VIII.  The schism exists because of one misguided man who made a decision many monarchs had previous, but at the most inopportune of times.  

Belloc makes the statement at the beginning and end of the book, "Europe is the faith, and the faith is Europe."  Europe, as he knew it, in the early 20th Century was shaped by the faith of Jesus Christ handed down from the Apostles in the Roman Catholic Church.  The Church pushed forward the positive organization of the dying Roman empire and subsumed indeed in an almost perfect way, inculturated it.  

It is at the turn of the Reformation that Europe began to self destruct.  Fiefdom by fiefdom, kingdom by kingdom, nation by nation, Europe has slowly degraded the farther it has moved away from its foundation, that is, the Church.  

If Belloc was alive today, he could see almost the logical conclusion of his arguments.  France is in utter ruin being repopulated by Arabs, a peaceful version of what the Iberian peninsula experienced 1200 years ago.  Germany is still trying to recover from Fascist and Communist oppressions.  England welcomes riots and a general apathy even disgust, i.e. Dawkins, et al, of religion, Catholic or otherwise.  Italy even has its problems.  Finally, the last bastion of the Roman Catholic nation, Ireland is in total shambles, due in part to the clergy abuse scandal, but also to a lack of anything to root for.  No longer do they have to fight for their faith which had been so dear to them for the past four centuries.  To them it doesn't seem worth fighting for pedophiles and liars.  

There is hope.  Hope only in one thing, that is the Church.  She, as the bride of Christ, can reform and transform the European culture.  In its current state, the New Evangelization is ripe for the picking.

The book takes a rather sweeping look at history.  He goes through each period selecting certain things to help make his point.  He desires for brevity as opposed to unnecessary depth.  As for a history book, it would work well in a Western Civ course, especially for those in a home school situation.  If I were a parent, I would give this to my child as supplementary reading because it corrects so much erroneous thoughts and assumptions regarding European history.

Highly Recommend.

No comments: