The faith of the fathers, the American fathers, is long passed in the country of their descendents. Americans today have little idea of what religion meant in the 17th and 18th centuries. We do well to remind ourselves of the truth in the matter of the Western religious practice of Christianity.
The English Puritans (later known as White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) were severely persecuted in Europe, as were all such protestants. They fled their homeland. In 1620, they undertook the arduous and dangerous journey to the New World, where no comforts were afforded them save the initial generosity and kindness of the first “savages” who met them.
These “pilgrims,” these early American colonists, eschewed European Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church, and its first-born daughter, the Church of England, represented everything wrong with religion. Romanism was the pith of pageantry and pretense, in the eyes of the English Puritans. It was utterly prop-oriented, with grave and cumbersome visual aids on every hand. It was some ancient Etruscan tradition, bent on processions and parades. It depended entirely on august ceremony, elaborately uniformed clergy, and seemed to embody all that was artificial in the way of religious sentiment. There was a certain slavery to the senses involved. It was, in fact, a system of idolatry, plain and simple.
Their objections were not new, either. The Iconoclastic Controversy of the 8th and 9th Centuries (726-843) in Byzantium was all about Emperor Leo III and his campaign to rid the church of idols. The early American protestants abhorred all that smacked of Romanism. Perhaps they were extreme, but they lived in extreme times, and drove themselves into extreme circumstances in the wilderness of the New World. In this radical environment, psychologically and sociologically, the “Shakers” and the “Quakers” developed. The Shakers are known for their simplicity of style and intensely unadorned dress, architecture, and furnishings. The Quakers are known for their purposeful absence of liturgy in religious service. The “Friends” had no use for ceremony. Freedom of worship, freedom of informed conscience, this was all to which the word “religion” applied. Both groups were popularly characterized by a “spirituality” which involved personal emotion manifest in their public meetings. (Perhaps it was their own New World version of mysticism.)
A simple “Shaker” styled spice box.
This, of course, is the antithesis of all that is Roman Catholic. The Church had dealt with schism and revolution for centuries in Europe, from John Huss and the Bohemians to these new English Puritans. (And, yes, that little dispute between King Henry VIII and Pope in 1534 was a personal matter, not really pertaining to religious sentiment or its idolatrous modus operandi. Globalist always go Catholic, if with a little competition.)
Most of the papal encyclicals anathematizing freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, etc., were all generated by the circumstances of Europe at the time. Pope Gregory’s encyclical of August 15, 1832 (see pars. 14 and 15) reflects the concerns posed by the American Revolution, the French Revolution and their aftermath, and the violence in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Belgium, and Holland. It was an age of great social change. It was the beginning of Industrial Revolution. (And Communism was coming soon.) The Churches authority was passing, or so it seemed. Some deadly wound abode.
How it is today that the Church of Rome has come to hold such a central position in American government and society is a mystery which needs desperate attention. That a country whose very principle of existence was antithetical of Rome should come to be dominated once again by that same Rome, is irony beyond acquiescence.
Historically, we might look at the pre-Civil War era, and the massive immigration of Irish Catholics to America. They all settled north of the Mason Dixon line, and all voted Democrat. Michael F. Holt, in The Political Crisis of the 1850′s (1963) implies the idea that this new Catholic population counted for the North, and installed more representatives in Congress, thus upsetting the balance of power. The Southern states saw no alternative but secession. They were simply out-numbered.
“Devout Catholic,” Nancy Pelosi.
Add to this the later Italian immigrations, and American society, at least in the East, was powerfully Catholic. Europe had followed the English Puritans to the new land of opportunity. The Church rebuilt itself.
But the American Catholic is not always the submissive sheep as in the old Medieval European breed. American Catholics can be quite unruly, in fact. One Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi is a classic example. She absolutely defies the Church’s position on abortion. She believes in it, and openly, loudly advocates “free choice.” The Church officially condemns it. She thinks it is the woman’s right, and it is the only compassionate thing to do–as far as the woman is concerned. (Never mind the unborn child.) She feels the Church is hung up on its own tradition or social image. Moreover, Pelosi feels that the Church’s public position does not reflect the ambiguity of its own dogma.
We can’t take Nancy Pelosi’s “conscience” issue too seriously, other that as an example of the constitutional contradiction of Rome’s historical profession and practice. The “devout Catholic” (her own profession) says the Church has “this conscience thing” that won’t allow them to have compassion on women who need (or want) abortions.
The fact is, Rome, on the world scene, apparently faces the issue of abortion in different social circumstances. Massive abortions in Africa, for example, legal or illegal, are related to extensive famines. More people born mean more people suffer and die. Though the Church issues a continuum of condemnation for abortion, the United Nations continues to urge it upon all Third World countries. The Roman Church as yet seems to have inadequate influence in the U.N. The Vatican’s non-voting ambassador to the U.N., Archbishop Celestino Migliore prays:
At the initial rite of reconciliation, I bring before the Lord my sins and those of the U.N. family in its slow response that penalizes the poor, in its verbosity, in its smoke-screening and delaying tactics during certain debates that result in nonaction, in its impertinence, at times, of wanting to substitute itself for God in many ways.
But the moral judgement of the Church is confused in the face of death, disease, and unwed mothers. If extra-marital sex, en mass, produces hordes of bastard children, most of whom will die of starvation and disease before they reach their teens, which is the greater evil–abortion or ‘adultery’? Which course is more compassionate?
The answer is probably mass sterilization, but, that’s too Hitlerian for most people with “conscience” to consider. But why? Is it less moral to relieve or prevent suffering than to insure it?
The Puritans had a solution: abstinence. That is true religion. Abortion v. “choice” is an utterly superficial issue, affording but great fodder for fake moralists and other politicians.
If there is a draw-back of capitalism, it is the marketing of ideas in the grand bazaar of politics. If there is a fault in “equality” it is the idea the everyone can vote. If there is a failure of America, it is the fact that too many people do not adhere to the values of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant fathers. Too many people don’t even know what those values are.
Freedom has been abused. Liberty is prostituted. Equality is manipulation. Conscience is confused. That’s where were are, Wednesday, November 22, 2011.