Maybe This Explains the Appeal of Independence to the Scots


Here is what England is:

She is more than a thousand years of uninterrupted Christian faith, from St. Alban, the first English martyr, killed during the Roman occupation in the 3rd century, to the martydrom of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More in 1535. She is the hundreds of martyrs killed during the penal times following Henry VIII’s usurpation of the church in England. She is Beowulf and “The Dream of the Rood”; she is Sir Gawain and Chaucer; she is Byrd and Tallis; she is Walsingham and Glastonbury; she is Austen and Dickens, Newman and Hopkins, Chesterton and Belloc, Waugh and Wodehouse, Lewis and Tolkien. She is Shakespeare! This is the England of our dreams, and our dreams are so much more real, in any meaningful sense, than the nightmare that the modern inhabitants of England seem to prefer. This is the England to which I owe my allegiance; the England of the saints and martyrs; the England of the poets and bards; and the England of the Greatest Bard of all. I will conclude by letting the Bard wax lyrical on the England of my dreams:

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in a silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

This may explain why Rod Dreher had a point:

The intellectual arrogance identified by Alan that exists within certain Catholic circles is something I once was guilty of, without realizing it. To me, as an adult convert to Catholicism, the intellectual and aesthetic riches of the Catholic faith were so blindingly obvious that I couldn’t see that the Protestant traditions were worth taking seriously, except in a political and personal sense. That is, I respected Protestants as serious Christians and good people with whom we could and should work on causes of mutual concern, but I didn’t trouble myself to take them seriously on the intellectual front. This was an example of my unearned pride. As far as I was concerned, I had joined the intellectual A team of American Christianity, and Father Neuhaus was our Joe Torre. At the time I didn’t realize it, but looking back, I can see that the only conversations I thought really mattered were between Catholics.

As I write this, I remember a professor telling me years ago at a conference that he might have left Protestantism for Catholicism, except for the fact that his Catholic convert friends were so intellectually haughty in their newfound Catholicism that they kept him away from the Roman church. What that man experienced is a constant temptation for intellectual converts to Catholicism.

8 thoughts on “Maybe This Explains the Appeal of Independence to the Scots

  1. “When you say the Declaration of Independence ‘declares the sovereignty of God’ do you mean that Thomas Jefferson and others thought the term ‘Creator’ referred to the God of the Bible? If the main intent was to declare the sovereignty of God, would you not actually just refer to Him as ‘God’? And if this is a clever terminological compromise to accommodate Jefferson, Paine etc. doesn’t that somewhat limit the concept of the sovereignty of God? Meanwhile, poor old George III was part of a coronation ceremony that talked of God explicitly, and culminated in the anointing of the sovereign.

    Sir Tristram Strieb-Griebling


  2. “…this is the England of Drs. Edward Hine and Edward Wheeler Bird and the other guardians of British Israel; the England populated by the Lost Tribe of Manasseh…”


  3. So says Rod Dreher, a convert to the Eastern Orthodox.

    These are but some of the reasons I fear that the Orthodox communion will not, in the end, provide permanent sanctuary for Rod. For in the end, what Rod cites as unbearable in Catholicism is also true of Orthodoxy. For instance, he suddenly discovers that he cannot believe in Vatican I’s dogma of papal infallibility because of the ecclesiastical politicking that led to the formulation of that dogma. Nevertheless, he accepts as sacrosanct the dogmas of the first seven councils of the early church (Nicaea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, and so forth)–all of which settled crucial issues of faith and doctrine concerning Christ’s divinity and humanity, and all of which are accepted by the Orthodox as well as Catholics. This betrays a historical naiveté that leaves him open to some unpleasant surprises when he learns how the sausage was made at those historic councils.

    Likewise, when Rod discovers the history of Orthodox sins that rival anything in the history of Catholic sins—such as a long habit of being in the pocket of the state to such a degree that many clergy and even some bishops in the Soviet Union were on the KGB payroll and routinely reported the contents of confessions to the Stalinist police–what will he do? When he discovers that the Orthodox have their own struggles with priestly abuse and episcopal cover-ups, how shall he find purity then? Will he content himself with the fact that his own particular parish is beyond reproach, so it doesn’t matter what happens in the larger Orthodox communion? If so, how is that different from the Protestant sectarianism he left when he became Catholic?


  4. We sometimes forget in our anxiousness to be conciliatory and accommodating just how mad some Roman Catholics can be! Joseph Pearce wrote a decent book called ‘Literary Converts’ in which he tries to claim Lewis and Eliot for Rome. His own background is rather colourful; ex-fascist, ex-racist agitator for the National Front, for which he served time at Her Majesty’s pleasure. I’m glad he’s out of that environment, but not one to be trusted. By the way, there is a considerable Catholic population and tradition in Scotland. Have you ever heard of Celtic FC and the rivalry with Rangers?


  5. Is this modern “anxiety of influence” (Bloom, 1973) something which makes the Scot want to be…

    free and independent?


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