Blind Faith in the Dogmatic Authority of Secularism


There is a book I am preparing to review: Priests, Prelates, People – A History of European Catholicism since 1750.

It is a tale of tragedy. For gathered under one cover, one finds 250 years of the Faith in retreat from wave upon wave upon wave of secular and rationalist destruction.

Gathered under one cover in several hundred pages of detailed research. For that comprehensiveness, alone it is very valuable. But my intention now is not review.

My intention is an indignant burst from the heart.

This is a book that embodies the very ills that it describes. It supposedly reports the outer objective events of recent Catholic history, very often without, it seems to me, having the least clue at all about the inner dynamics driving them. (Even though a clueless kind of interpretation of these drives is given.)

The authors to their credit, honestly confess they are not Catholic. Can anyone who has never experienced the Holy Mass hope to understand why generations lived – and died – to defend it?

Can they have any hope of reliably telling the story of Catholicism in modernity? Can such a book really be seen as reporting reliable history and truth?

The book is published by Oxford University Press. Its authors are British academics with high credentials. It will be seen as carrying an aura of reliability and even impeccability.

Meanwhile, I have recently reviewed books of the same period of history by Charles Coulombe and Donal Anthony Foley. These will be seen as less reliable than the tome from the OUP. They will inevitably be seen as coloured by Catholic bias and subjectivity. Indeed as I said, Coulombe’s book may well be seen as fit for burning by some …

No-one will say this of the OUP volume. How many will raise the voice their towards the OUP and dare to say: here is a book coloured with assumptions that are simply confused and wrong; here in this supposedly objective reliable history of Catholicism is an account hopelessly mangled and compromised by uncounted secular, reductionist, subjective associations, misunderstandings, prejudices? When my review appears, examples should follow …

For now, I am not meaning to say that because Coulombe and Foley have faith – although they very obviously do! – that their books are to be completely trusted, while Priests, Prelates, People can be binned. Human authors everywhere are most fallible!

Coulombe and Foley´s books will obviously be coloured, too. But what Priests, Prelates, People can make vivid is a very different kind of colouring which is usually missed.

Thus it is necessary to aspire to read everything critically. (Which is not at all the same as reading with a skeptical, rationalist spirit).

No for now, I only mean to say that there is a tragic situation in our society, whereby that which jibes with a secular, literalist, reductionist and ultimately materialistic ideology is given kudos by elites such as OUP and that people blindly trust these elites as having dogmatic authority, while Catholics who truly understand what their forebears in history felt in their heart and souls are likely to be seen as cranks on the fringe …

And Priests, Prelates, People will be what university students across the world are told is true.

And this, this is but one, single instance of what so very often looks to me like Blind Faith in the Dogmatic Authority of Secularism.

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