Tuesday, June 12, 2007

September 11, 1683

Do you know what key battle happened on September 11, 1683 and its significance for Western Civilization? Why might Osama Bin Laden have chosen that date to attack the country that exemplifies Western Civilization--America? If you don't know the answers to these questions, you're not alone.

There are a number of subjects that used to be staples of a good education for grade school and college that are no longer taught, and, thus, key aspects of one's education are neglected. Some of these subjects are classical history, logic, Latin, and the history of science and mathematics. The Trivium is gone and, in fact, most students have no idea what it is except those lucky enough to go to traditional Catholic schools. These days it is almost impossible to get a good education in the Humanities from colleges, as most departments have been completely taken over by postmodernists. Thus, while most students who go to both public and private schools might feel like they have a substantial education, they truly do not.

One such subject that has been neglected but one which everyone in the West should know is Catholic history. As the brilliant Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc states, "Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe." Without a knowledge and appreciation of Catholic history, one cannot have a knowledge and appreciation of Europe or Western Civilization.

What Belloc means by the statement "The Church is Europe, and Europe is the Church," a statement he makes in Europe and the Faith, written just after World War I and very much a reflection on the War, is simply that out of all Europeans and Westerners Catholics really are the ones who can most understand and defend the West.

The statement does not mean that the Catholic Church is only Europe. It is quite the opposite. The true Europeans these days are faithful Catholics from all over the world. A devout Filipino has more of a European sense than does a postmodern European. Belloc calls this the "Catholic conscience of Europe." Hence, the Heritage has shifted. Those who have broken themselves from the Faith--postmodernists, liberals, communists--are no longer Europeans. They are no longer the heirs of the great Western Civilization.

Once separated from Europe--the cradle of our civilization--they wreck incomparable harm. Their culture has arisen from outside the civilization of the West, which is the values of the Catholic Church. Belloc calls these who have broken away "the outer, the unstable, the untraditional--which is barbarism--pressing blindly upon the inner, the traditional, the strong--which is Ourselves: which is Christendom: which is Europe." This applies to the German kulturcampf leading to a new alien, non-European Teutonic culture that menaced Europe, Nazism, Communism, and now postmodernism and multiculturalism. These barbaric philosophies have no roots in European, Catholic civilization. They are alien philosophies.

Once we understand this fact, history becomes much more lucid. For example, we often learn that World War I was a great example of a war with no reason, complete folly of bickering selfish, capitalistic states. Without a knowledge of Catholic history, we are in complete ignorance of the truth.

In fact, Prussia was an alien, almost neo-pagan state with values utterly separated from the "Catholic conscience of Europe." Thus, Prussia had to be stopped and was by those who did have a sense of freedom and Europe civilization. The heretical Teutonic ideas (partial heirs to Martin Luther's revolution) did not go away and were morphed into Nazism, itself of origin far beyond the Western, Catholic civilization. World War I was barbarism versus the Catholic heart of Europe.

Catholics and those with this "Catholic conscience of history" can intuitively grasp the dangers facing Western Civilization. Belloc states, "For the Catholic, the whole perspective falls into its proper order. The picture is normal. Nothing is distorted to him. The procession of our great story is easy, natural, and full. It is also final."

Belloc states, "The Catholic alone is in possession of the tradition of Europe; he alone can see in judge in this matter." Does he mean that conservative Jews, Protestants, and others cannot grasp this history? Of course not. What he is simply stating is that those sympathetic and with a great knowledge of the Catholic Church--first and foremost Catholics of course--are the ones who are best able to grasp history and apply it to the future. Whether they know it or not, they share in what Belloc terms the "Catholic conscience of Europe."

However, these days most people, including Catholics, know almost nothing about Catholic history, and if they do, it is often told by hostile historians who have broken themselves away from the tradition. Belloc discusses this problem:

"But the modern Catholic, especially if he is confined to the use of the English tongue, suffers from a deplorable (and it is to be hoped), a passing accident. No modern tongue gives him a conspectus of the past; he is compelled to study violently hostile authorites, North German (or English-copying North German), whose knowledge is never that of the true and balanced European."

Because of Belloc's extensive and intimate knowledge of Catholic history, he is amazing prescient. Take this quote for example from The Great Heresies, written in 1938:

"Whatever the cause be, Mohammedanism has survived, and vigorously survived. Missionary effort has had no appreciable effect upon it. It still converts pagan savages wholesale. It even attracts from time to time some European eccentric, who joins its body. But the Mohammedan never becomes a Catholic. No fragment of Islam ever abandons its sacred book, its code of morals, its organized system of prayer, its simple doctrine.

"In view of this, anyone with a knowledge of hisotry is bound to ask himself whether we shall not see in the future a revival of Mohammedan political power, and the renewal of the old pressure of Islam upon Christendom."

While almost everyone else at the time thought the idea of Islam reappearing was ridiculous because of the backwardness of the Muslim countries, Belloc was warning of its resurrection:

"These things being so, the recrudescence of Islam, the possibility of that terror under which we lived for centuries reappearing, and of our civilization again fighting for its life against what was its chief enemy for a thousand years, seems fantastic. Who in the Mohammedan world can manufacture and maintain the complicated instruments of modern war? Where is the political machinery whereby the religion of Islam can play an equal part in the modern world?

"I say the suggestion that Islam may re-arise sounds fantastic--but this is only because men are always powerfully affected by the immediate past:--one might say that they are blinded by it.

"Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude towards the universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it--we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today. The bad work begun at the Reformation is bearing its final fruit in the dissolution of our ancestral doctrines--the very structure of our society is dissolving."

Belloc explains and warns that Islam is not losing its vital force:

"In Islam there has been no such dissolution of ancestral doctrine--or, at any rate, nothing corresponding to the universal break-up of religion in Europe. The whole spiritual strength of Islam is still present in the masses of Syria and Anatolia, of the East Asian mountains, of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa.

"The final fruit of this tenacity, the second period of Islamic power, may be delayed:--but I doubt whether it can be permanently postponed."

Unfortunately, Europe is not listening. Western Europe for the most part has lost its "Catholic conscience of history." In its place is multiculturalism, postmodernism, neopaganism with no roots in European, Catholic civilization.

We need to regain our Catholic, classical, and Jewish heritage anew. One last thought. Guess what date Belloc in The Great Heresies (written in 1938) states should be one everyone in the West should know: September 11!:

"But not so very long ago, less than a hundred years before the Declaration of Independence, the Mohammedan Government centered at Constantinople had better artillery and better army equipment of every kind than had we Christians in the West. The last effort they made to destroy Christendom was contemporary with the end of the reign of Charles II in England and of his brother James and of the usurper William III. It failed during the last years of the seventeenth century, only just over two hundred years ago. Vienna, as we saw, was almost taken and only saved by the Christian army under the command of the King of Poland on a date that ought to be among the most famous in history-September 11, 1683. But the peril remained, Ilsam was still immensely powerful within a few marches of Austria and it was not until the great victory of Prince Eugene at Zenta in 1697 and the capture of Belgrade that the tide really turned--and by that time we were at the end of the seventeenth century."

Gee, Osama Bin Laden knows our European history better than we do. My professor of Church History I and II, classes I have taken at Christendom College for a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology, stated that astute Catholic analysts (he works for the Department of Defense) knew why Osama Bin Laden had chosen September 11 to attack. It was a key battle in the defense of the West, one that rankled with ambitious terrorists like himself.Hilaire Belloc is so remarkably prescient because of his great knowledge of history but most of all because of his "Catholic conscience of history." Let's all regain this knowledge of Catholic history in order to better defend the West.


jeremayakovka said...

Well, Gabe, you're sounding like a Catholic "Fjordman". Power to ya.

Gabe said...

Hi, Jeremayakovka- I do like Fjordman. The more to battle the deceit and violence of Islam the better.

Hilaire Belloc is brilliant and I'm really glad I took the Church History classes to discover his writings. It is amazing the prescient comments he makes in Europe and the Faith and The Great Heresies while no one else was even discussing them. He was before his time because he had a great understanding of the past.

I would say Islam's worst enemy in the U.S. is the great Debbie Schlussel because of her astute understanding of what motivates that religion and her refusal to kowtow to any sort of political correctness. Her blog is terrific, and I'm always sending her articles to conservative coworkers. Not only is she always dead on correct, she is viciously funny as well.

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