Up Against the Wall: Catholicism and Modern Ideology

Photo of wall courtesy: I, Xauxa [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0

There is a wall against the Catholic Faith.

That wall has dominated the culture of the Anglosphere – Catholic Ireland excepted – for centuries.

But now, as we invoked last time, that wall is being erected, even in Ireland, through Irish television, press and other media. In other words, for the first time, Ireland’s cultural elites now participate in the selfsame obfuscation as the rest of the English-speaking world.

But rather than speak of Ireland now, I consider first the general nature of that wall as it exists, above all, throughout the Anglophone world.

For, speaking very personally, my whole life has been determined by that wall. I was raised in America and England. And, as a result, the Catholic Mystery was invisible to me till I was nearly thirty four years old. The same is true for countless souls across the Anglosphere. Ireland was, until very recently, the single exception where the Catholic Mystery was visible – visible that is, as it is in non-Anglo cultures like Italy, Spain, Poland, Latin America etc.

My upcoming book has much to do with this: How the Anglosphere creates a wall against the Faith and how that wall cuts off millions of other people.

Next time, we shall return to Ireland’s plight. However, today I offer an extract from my book about the wall (slightly adapted for this website) …


The Mystery of Catholicism – hidden by the Wall …

From My Book: Cor Jesu Sacratissimum:

The world erects walls of ideology, walls stronger than reinforced steel and concrete.

I write these words after a conversation with a dear New Age friend I have known nearly thirty years. For the last thirteen, I have been a Catholic and spoken to her many, many times about the Church. To this day, she remains baffled by my conversion.

We talk … and she murmurs something about still seeing my ‘universal wisdom’ or some such words.

Somewhere in her, I suspect, she thinks this so-called ‘universal’ Roger, she used to know, still exists: I have never really lost my so-called ‘holistic’ perspective, never really fallen for ‘narrow-minded Christianity’ – at least not completely. ‘He can’t have; it’s not possible …’

In any event, her implication is clear: Obviously, I still possess ‘universal wisdom’ – but not the Church.

Similarly, I am reminded of another dear friend from the New Age who told me how good it was I wanted to do something to heal the Church. I told him the ‘boot was on the other leg’: it was the Church that was healing me …

He said nothing, but I think I startled him.

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Because the idea is startling to New Agers.  They very much tend to feel the Church is rigidly stuck in an ‘Old Age’ past. Thus, the only reason any ‘clued-up holistic thinker’ (such as myself) would interest himself in the Church would be to ‘heal the Church’ with my ‘superior’ New Age wisdom.

But no, the Church is healing me. Such an idea is radical to the New Age mind – too radical to be taken seriously …

There is a wall – a sheer wall of almost impregnable certainty – that the Church has nothing to offer.

For the woman above, I am a sign of contradiction: I am a traditional Catholic – yet I still have wisdom! But I must be a rare exception. Because for her, as for so many souls, it is axiomatic: The Catholic Church is reserved for non-universal, non-holistic types, narrow and limited in their perspectives.

I tell these stories, dear Reader, hoping this book may play some small role in informing a new evangelical Catholic subculture.

Something that must be made plain is the persistent legacy of the Reformation. Because with people like my friends above, whatever I say with regard the Catholic Mystery – even after all these years – never quite seems to register.

When I speak of the Church, they rarely, if ever, realise I speak of a Sacramental miracle – one which transforms my soul, day in, day out.

Christianity to such people is the Christianity they grew up with in the Anglosphere. Far more often than not, that means Protestant Christianity.

For once again: New Agers are much more likely to have Protestant roots than Catholic ones. And if they do have any experience of the Catholic faith, it is almost certainly a highly-Protestantised version of modern Catholicism.

If I have been severe to Protestantism at times, it has much to do with experiences like those above.

It is because the miracle of the Catholic Mystery cannot be seen for an instant.

Because Christianity is no longer understood as a soul-transforming Sacramental miracle – but instead as a belief-system, as sermons and hymns and much else besides that New Agers find as dull as ditchwater. (And compared to the soul-transforming power of the Mystici Corporis Christi, I find these things pretty dull as well.)

Yes, what British, Americans, New Zealanders etc. generally know about Christianity is inevitably and profoundly coloured by Protestantism.

Here, then, is the foundation of the wall – the first set of bricks.

The rampart is then further constructed from five centuries of opposition to Catholicism in these folk’s cultural heritage.

But this is not all. Further bricks in the wall are supplied by Enlightenment philosophy and the rationalist origins of our present secular society.

For the cynical reductionism of secular society effectively denies the very notion of a soul-transforming Sacramental Mystery.

Then, on top of that, comes the new ‘24/7’ all-surrounding, all-pervasive materialistic media culture. This culture is, to a very great extent, Anglo-American in origin and it draws on the wellsprings of both Protestant anti-Catholicism and Enlightenment anti-Catholicism.

For although today’s media commentators scarcely recognise the fact, they owe a clear debt: Figures as diverse as Henry VIII, John Locke, David Hume, the anti-trinitarian Thomas Jefferson et al. have powerfully formed their cultural imagination.

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Or in other words, our comic book culture creates a situation, whereby many people consider Calvin and Hobbes as an imaginary boy and his tiger – yet, all the while, the real Calvin and Hobbes continue to exert their ‘reformed’ and ‘enlightened’ ideology across the centuries …

To cap everything off, today’s liberal, desacralised, even zany Catholicism renders the final, finishing touches to the wall.

The barrier becomes complete. For most, it is virtually insurmountable.

Catholics cannot blame the people trapped behind the wall. We must open our hearts.

It is not their fault they cannot even begin to conceive the Catholic Mystery …

End of book extract. Advert below for book that contains this, now published by Angelico Press.

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7 responses to “Up Against the Wall: Catholicism and Modern Ideology”

  1. […] answer certainly deserves pondering – for, as I have recently said, it has served to build a wall – a wall against the […]

  2. […] « Up Against the Wall: Catholicism and Modern Ideology On the Latin Mass in Ireland » […]

  3. well Avatar

    Lose weight roger.

    1. roger Avatar

      Believe it or not, well – I have! : – ).

      Also, well, I have not forgotten your first published comment here, now weeks old. I hope to reply to this soon in more depth, along with other long-delayed responses I must catch up on. (I have still not caught up with everyone I apologised too here.)

      Meanwhile, well, be gentle on me. I am genuinely sorry if I upset you, but I suspect that at essence here is a conflict between two idealists with very different ideals. (Even if you give little impression what your ideals are, I trust they are there.)

      More to come …

  4. Hans Georg Lundahl Avatar
    Hans Georg Lundahl

    “For the woman above, I am a sign of contradiction: I am a traditional Catholic – yet I still have wisdom! But I must be a rare exception. Because for her, as for so many souls, it is axiomatic: The Catholic Church is reserved for non-universal, non-holistic types, narrow and limited in their perspectives.”

    That is a bit like certain Protestants, when it comes to me, and exchanging “universal” and “holistic” for “Biblical” and “faith”.

  5. Hans Georg Lundahl Avatar

    “Because for her, as for so many souls, it is axiomatic: The Catholic Church is reserved for non-universal, non-holistic types, narrow and limited in their perspectives.”

    Wonder if she even knows what Catholic means … perhaps her Greek is a bit weak? Can those things happen these days?

    1. roger Avatar

      Hans-Georg, more of my ridiculously belated thanks for your comments here. These days, people have no idea at all …

      Still chewing over your latest long comment, but I am deeply stirred by how thoroughly versed you are in the history of the Chesterbelloc and their times.

      I don’t suppose you have access to GK’s weekly, do you? So much there I want to see from Belloc especially …

      More when I can.