I went walking round a brick wall at Oxford in 2005, my fingers caressing its surface as my feet took me forward. I thought about how the renowned Cambridge split from this university, and how the kingdom of England itself split from Rome—both were bad decisions, of course. Back then the Catholic Church was actually in the right, and the Anglican church was to find itself quite literally in an unrighteous divorce.
I have always preserved fondness for Eastern Orthodoxy, but here I was talking to an Anglican vicar in reluctantly sunny Britain, all the while thinking to myself these pertinently historical things. Of course, I’ve always liked Oxford over Cambridge. I am not bourgeois. I merely feel Cambridge a tad too proliferated—a global business with a large, diluted footprint. A footprint sprawl if you will.
Her New Abode
‘Back then the Catholic Church was in the right,’ I ought to hear myself. Aside from the double allusion, my real worry pulsates in what I know is Catholicism’s crisis in the past hundred and fifty years: her new abode in the left. I grew up thinking a Church whose priestly servants raised money for statues and monuments honoring the murdered unborn would think to stand with the political right all the time. I think it is packaging that does sway many Catholics leftward. Packaging does that; the Left is competent, nay, expert at it.
Euro-American civilization was built on a break from that messy Anglican patchwork of unsure civic values. England’s people were weary in the midst of the blurred lines between right and wrong. So the United States and her forebears came out of England, to rebuild Christianity in scholastic life and the home. Towns and cities rose across an ocean, and greater liberty came when a split (yes, there are more splits in these corridors of time than your average banana) from Great Britain threw off royal rule, and established a federal republic.
From Anglican and British America, to Episcopalian and an America with a dozen burgeoning Christianities, here was an aftermath with good news. This time there was something good glistening in this break. Jesus Christ became crystal clear to millions of civilians. Unencumbered by royal whim, untainted by sordid pasts, and fully informed by highly accessible scriptures and learning, America and the Christian church were poised to rise in the world and bring order out of chaos. (The leftist compact today hates that.)
Less than a hundred years on, Lincoln must have giggled a bit when he saw England trying to split the United States in twain. He was trying to keep the federation whole but the crown naturally felt otherwise. There are evidently more bad splits in history than good ones. The British would face violent separatism at home before long; the Catholic Irish felt a good case against British rule, and the hostility lasted into the late twentieth century.
The Way She Joined
I did stare at an Irish flag for an inordinately long time one drizzly afternoon in Boston. It flew prettily, and the rain cooled me into dreaming of leprechauns and Dublin lasses. When Irish militarism was in its heyday for a hundred years, the championed Catholicism was hampered in reputation by a corrupt papacy, an unscriptural ethos—and more poignantly—an alliance in the Left, which meant the Irish struggle was one that attacked not just a parliamentary Britain, Anglican though she was, but the rightist paradigm of Judeo-Christian national life on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world. To throw off the conservatism of British unionist strength, Irish militancy and insurgency went left.
Effectively speaking, this has been how the Catholic populaces of the world veered left. The Irish expressions of self-determination nestled themselves with Arab Palestinians and other socialist organizations near and far. Latin America and continental Europe followed suit in this centrifugal shift that was both apparent and less than conscious. Today the European Union literally finances Arab Palestine, and Israel has few friends.
Want Nothing To Do With It
There are little rays of light of course, breaking through the velvety darkness of political night. Catholics who ignore socialist packaging can be counted on to stand with right-wing values. Well, any regular American who ignores socialist packaging can be so counted on as well. Any Episcopalian, Methodist, or Presbyterian who votes left and prints expensive banners to dress their churches up in progressive garb should begin counting the wasted dollars, especially when there are lockdowns that wipe savings out today.
When I was a teenager in vehemently rainy Britain (the weather changes on a hairpin), and spoke with the Oxfordian vicar, I never once thought up strange things like the killing of babies in a mother’s womb being cool and doable. The fresh gasps of lavender-scented air between pellets of rain taught me to avoid ever taking up smoking as a habit, so it would have puzzled me to have to fight for marijuana, cocaine, recreational pills, and Middle Eastern shisha puffing.
And the gallantry and praiseworthiness of being in love with and devoted to a girl for the rest of my life can only persist, and not die, for my soul knows this truth as music and energy; but everywhere, somehow everywhere, you and I are being told divorce is natural, promiscuity is fun, and love isn’t real and definitely ain’t the least bit spiritual.
Rightism is to the Bible believer what a fixed point is to a navigator. If you’ve ever needed a sensation for what rightism feels like, it is this: a political fixed point. Nationalities can pick sides; left or right they swing. Churches too pick sides. But the irreconcilable gulf in politics exists because the sides themselves are static. The Right is as static and unchangeable as the voice of a soul that resonates with God. If you have such a soul, you are a rightist. You became one the moment you chose God sufficient enough to shape your decisions in tandem with His virtues.