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St. Vicente & The Benedict Option

I arrived back at my friends’ house in Madrid very late last night from Zaragoza, and fell asleep on my bed without even pulling back the covers. I had hoped to update the comments and catch you up on my adventures here, but as an elderly person who has been to five Spanish cities in five days, I couldn’t pull it off. I’m off shortly to the airport, and from there to Dublin. But I managed to write a post yesterday on the train. Here it is — and, begging your pardon, I’ll get to the comments as soon as I can.

So, after my speech Thursday night in Barcelona, someone in the audience asked me to talk about the differences between the US and Europe in terms of ability to accept and implement the Benedict Option. It was a great question, and I wish I had been quicker on my feet in giving a good answer.

America has an advantage in one big way: we are a more libertarian-minded country, with shallow roots — relative to Europe. Americans hate to think of ourselves as non-rooted, but any American who spends any time in Europe, and pays the least attention, will quickly grasp this fundamental difference between our societies.

For that matter, you can do it without leaving America. Having grown up in the South, the first time I went to Los Angeles, I was a bit overwhelmed. I felt that I might float off the edge of the continent. Everything seemed so new, so insubstantial. Depending on how you see the world, this could be a bug, or it could be a feature.

It is exhilarating to feel at liberty to remake yourself, without restraints – the past, family, custom, tradition – holding you down and holding you back. But it can also be profoundly alienating and dizzying. The realization that everything can be changed, and be remade overnight – well, that can give a man metaphysical vertigo. How can you learn to love a place that might not be there in a few years? Whether you are aware of it or not, that kind of physical place – architecture, urban design, etc – trains you to think that radical impermanence is the normal state of affairs, and that the only reality is the Self, disconnected from anything outside of itself. It trains you to think of everything outside your own head as being mere matter for the sake of your own consumption.

In one sense, it’s true. I was in the city of Barcelona yesterday. It has been there since Roman times, at least, but Barcelona is not eternal. A meteor strike could wipe it off the face of the earth. Not likely, but possible. The fact that the people of Barcelona can count on things looking tomorrow recognizably like they look today, and like they looked yesterday – there is a sense of peace in that continuity.

Barcelona does not look like it did in Roman times, obviously. But last night, as my friend Ricardo was walking me to dinner, he pointed out that the street along which we strolled had been the main road in Roman Barcelona. This is the kind of continuity, the kind of physical manifestation of a link with the past, that you simply cannot get in most of America. This is not because we are bad people; it’s because we are a young people, with all the virtues and all the faults of the young.

For many of us, going to Europe is the first time we have experienced the true realization of our Yankee ephemerality. In 1996, when my dad was 60 years old, I took him and my mom to visit friends in the Netherlands. It was the first and only time my folks had been to Europe. I remember two things about my father’s reaction to that trip: his stunned silence after leaving the Anne Frank House (he was near tears, and ready to shoot Nazis), and his simply being stunned when seeing part of a Roman ruin in Maastricht. There was nothing special about this ruin; in fact, I can’t even recall what it was. A wall or something. But it had been built by the Romans – the Romans! – and that was an incredible thought for an American. This is a thought that never, ever gets old for me, and makes me so very, very grateful for Europe. I feel about it like I felt about my dad: I have a sense of Roman pietas towards the place and its cultures.

Anyway, one big advantage we American Christians have over Europeans in Ben Op terms is an interior orientation towards change and innovation. For us, it is easier to imagine radical change (again, I’m speaking in relative terms.) And, as an Enlightenment nation, we have a First Amendment to our Constitution that protects freedom of speech and religion in ways that aren’t always present in European countries. I am sure that in the years to come, the First Amendment will be a metaphorical monastery wall behind which we Christians take refuge.

Second, we are not burdened by the heavy history between Church and State. The 19th century was a liberal century, but liberalism in the UK and the US was not anti-clerical (anti-Christian). This was exceedingly not the case in continental Europe, where liberalism took its cues from the French Revolution, and became violently anti-clerical. Spain is perhaps the most extreme example of this. In the 1930s, the proclamation of the liberal Republic led to immediate persecution of Christians, including the burning of churches and the murders of priests and nuns. After five years of civil conflict, an actual civil war began, and Nationalists (supporting the Church) committed atrocities against Republicans. The shooting stopped 80 years ago, but the fighting did not. It’s going on today in Spain. Those wounds have scarcely healed.

We Americans don’t have that legacy to live with, and work through. That is an advantage.

Otherwise, though, as far as I can see, Europe is much better prepared to accept and implement the Ben Op. Here’s why.

As I’ve said here many times, Europeans have lived through de-Christianization far more advanced than what we in the US have lived through. They typically don’t have to be convinced of the truth of the Benedict Option diagnosis. If you want to experience the American future, come to Europe and start talking to people about Christianity. Despite all the churches and material symbols of the faith, it has mostly faded away as a social reality.

European Christians – especially those 40 and under – know exactly how bad it can get in terms of Christianity’s disappearance, because this is their reality. They are more ready for radical action. It’s a general principle of human nature that young men are more willing to wage war because they lack investment in stability, emotional and otherwise. But that cuts both ways. It is also the case that the young may be more willing and able to see what’s really happening, and act in the face of new facts than their elders, who may feel that they have too much at stake in what is fundamentally a failing enterprise.

This is what I’ve seen in some of my Ben Op events in France, Italy, and other places on this side of the Atlantic. Christians my age (early 50s) and older tend to be much more cautious about the Ben Op, and appear (to me) to be trying to bargain with the post-Christian mainstream. It’s as if they believe that if only they show patience and friendliness to the post-Christian world, they can still participate fully in the social order. Put unkindly, they have a lot more investment in maintaining bourgeois respectability than the young. Professing orthodox Christianity – especially on issues of sex and sexuality – is offensive and gauche to the contemporary Western bourgeois.

The point is, European Christians are living through the end game. A Spaniard said to me this week, “We are used to looking to you Americans for the future. You are always ten or 20 years ahead of us. But maybe now we are ahead of you.” Exactly. We American Christians need to watch what our European coreligionists do. It’s going to be important for us to learn from them.

Second, insofar as the Benedict Option requires a return to Christian traditions, Europe still has a vast and incomparable treasure trove of material manifestations of tradition. Even if Europeans don’t believe in God, they still observe traditions, many of them Christian. I’ve been in Spain all week, and good grief, the traditions they have around cured ham are a wonder to behold. They are a thing of beauty, because the taste of this ham, and the way it is regarded by Spaniards of all kinds, symbolizes a very old culture. Jamon iberico tells them who they are. It might sound stupid to American ears to hear that (is cured ham really part of a people’s identity?) but it’s the truth. There are so many traditions like that in European culture; the idea of maintaining tradition is not alien to them.

Within 20 minutes of each other, I saw these two sights in Valencia that tell a similar story. The first is hand and wrist of St. Vicente, Martyr,  [1] preserved in a reliquary in the Valencia cathedral. He was the first Christian martyr of Spain. He died in Valencia, circa 304, under the persecution of Diocletian. He was tortured to death by the Romans for refusing to throw the Holy Scriptures onto a fire.

The second is a cured ham, sitting behind the counter at a cafe near the cathedral:

Understand: I’m not making a pun or a joke here. I mean what I say: these two artifacts — one sacred, the other profane — symbolize in the flesh what it means to be Spanish. Nothing like that exists for us Americans. Obviously the relic of San Vicente is something of infinitely greater meaning. The point I’m making here is that tradition — religious and cultural — is enfleshed in a place as old as Spain in a way that it is not in the US. Christians here can “touch” the hand of San Vicente Martyr, and feel a connection to the early Church in their own flesh. I find that extraordinarily inspiring to my Christian imagination. St. Vicente was here, worshiping Christ 1,700 years ago, and suffering for him. Christians still are. Here is a portrait from the same Valencia cathedral, in a side chapel near the relic of San Vicente, of some Valencian Christians martyred for the faith in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39):

These were ordinary believers, living in Valencia, who paid the ultimate price for their faith. I spoke last night to an academic who is studying a group of martyrs from the war. He said that one Christian was murdered because the left-wing Republicans said he “smelled too much of wax” — meaning that they could tell by his aroma that he had been in church. For that, they killed him. This is still within living memory of the oldest Spaniards. In Valencia, they remember these martyrs as they remember the martyr Vicente.

In terms of the Christian religion itself, Europeans are surrounded by cultural memories. There are monasteries, still. They’re not all solid ones (in Barcelona, at my talk, one man said, “You need to take a box of your books to that Benedictine monastery at Montserrat, and make all those monks read it.”) But some are. The Tipi Loschi, living on the Adriatic coast, make pilgrimages to Norcia, in the mountains about 90 minutes’ drive away, and have developed a close relationship with the traditionalist Benedictines there. In France, Christians can go to monasteries like Fontgombault for the Real Thing.

To be sure, all this beauty and history and culture has not (so far) saved the faith in Europe. My point is simply that if a European Christian wants to go digging for things that root them in Christian faith and practice, they’re incomparably easier to find here. And that is an advantage when it comes to living the Ben Op. And, by the grace of God, St. Vicente, the Spanish Civil War martyrs, the great cathedrals, and all the Christian things I have seen here on this wonderful week in Spain are here for me, an American, for the making of my own perspective. They’re here for you too. Please come visit them. As Americans, they are part of our spiritual and cultural patrimony as well.

Finally, before I head to the airport, here’s a passage from an e-mail sent by a Canadian reader:

I’ve been reading Jacques Barzun’s 1943 book Classic, Romantic, and Modern, and a passage about the charge of escapism (levelled by some against the Romantics) reminded me of the criticism you have often received about the Benedict Option — viz. that it is “running away”, “hiding”, etc. Barzun’s rebuttal might be encouraging to you:

“…one is led to see that romanticism was far from being an escape from reality on the part of feeble spirits who could not stand it. The truth is that these spirits wanted to change the portions of reality that they did not like, and at least record their ideals when the particular piece of reality would not yield – both these being indispensable steps toward reconstruction. Our modern use of the term “escape” is unfortunately vitiated by smugness and double meanings, and one should refuse to argue its application with anyone who will not first answer this question: “Suppose a primitive man, caught in a rainstorm, who has for the first time the idea of taking shelter in a cave: is he facing reality or escaping it?” The whole history of civilization is wrapped up in this example, and a universal test for distinguishing creation from escape can be deduced from it. The mere fact that a man is seen making a cave or heard declaring his intention to build a hut is not enough; what is he going to do then? What is the relation of that single act to his whole scheme of life? Applying this test to romanticism, we shall see that on the whole it was infinitely more constructive than escapist.” (p.15)

In other words, “escape” can be but the first stage of something else. It’s a point you’ve often made, but it never hurts to hear it again.

Amen. Thank you, reader. I’ll touch base in Dublin — I have more to tell you about Valencia and Zaragoza.

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23 Comments To "St. Vicente & The Benedict Option"

#1 Comment By charles cosimano On January 19, 2019 @ 3:26 am

I think in this post, Rod, you convey the difference between us. When I saw Europe I saw a dusty old museum, a place interesting to study but of no use to an American other than as a place to soak off Soviet armor. (The Cold War had warmed up a little in the early 80s.) It had nothing we really could learn from. After all, no European had stood on the Moon. I doubted that they could even find it.

It was a tourist attraction populated by people who still lived under the illusion that they somehow mattered and that we would care what they thought about anything.

I still view it that way and I doubt anything is likely to come along to change that view.

We are a different civilization. We have deliberately and wisely broken with their ways. We do not play with dead things and Europe is dead and buried. It is best that we make the break complete. For America to be saddled with Europe is like a young man stuck with an old and barren wife.

#2 Comment By sb On January 19, 2019 @ 3:33 am

Superb question from that audience member!

I agree – Europe and the Holy Lands were given Christian faith first, so retain deep abiding memory of it culturally, even if not practising that faith.

By contrast, all of the rest of the world received Christianity in conjunction with European global colonisation over the last half millenium, so have shallower faith roots (but these can be strong roots). The US is just receiving its first confirmed saints, for example (St Kateri Tekakwitha, St Junipero Serra, etc).

So religiously, Europe has more ‘Christian stamina’ to fall back on in these difficult times. But the US (and parts of Africa, Philippines, etc), especially has the most openly Christian cultural expression, with legal/constitutional guarantees.

This cultural Christianity in the US is a double edged sword – it protects parochial Christian schools from being forced to adopt liberal fads like transgenderism (as is being compelled in UK and Canada), but that protection brings complacency….

God bless all the persecuted faithful, especially in China right now, who have it very tough (churches demolished, kids under 18 banned from church, etc).

#3 Comment By Jamie Estevez On January 19, 2019 @ 4:24 am

Rod My Orthodox Brother,

Thanks to you I will now be adding San Vicente to my daily litany of Saints. I have an Uncle Vincent and I knew nothing of this Saint. I will have to send an OrthodWiki link about St. Vincent to my Uncle Vincent.

After listening to dozens of podcasts in a series on Byzantine history I know have a better understanding the legacy of Rome and it’s Christian Imperial continuum that was Byzantium. You could call me a Roman Orthodox Christian.

It wasn’t just Europe either but North Africa (Carthage, Egypt) and Syria (including Lebanon and Palestine) and Armenia. Ancient Greece is our heritage and Rome was born of ancient Greece.

When I returned to the faith of my ancestors (that is Orthodoxy) I returned to those pre-schism times when there was truly One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

When I converted to Orthodoxy little did I know that I was returning to my Roman Celtic, Roman Briton, Roman Gaul and Roman Iberian roots.

St. Vincent, St. Patrick, St Alban, St. Genevieve, St. Martin of Tours, St. Germanus and St. Benedict all lead us back to that ancient Roman Christian heritage.

Isn’t it the height of irony that the very same Empire that had once sought to eradicate Christianity from it’s territories would one day embrace bit and make it it’s State Religion. God indeed works in mysterious ways.

On to Dublin Rod. Blessings to you and your family and may you bring the light of Christ with you to Ireland because it has been flickering in that great Christian Nation and needs to be reignited.

#4 Comment By Khalid mir On January 19, 2019 @ 4:46 am

Loved the first part of this post. Reminded me of Simone Weil’s:

“No human being should be deprived of his metaxu, that is to say of those relative and mixed blessings (home, country, traditions, culture, etc.) which warm and nourish the soul and without which, short of sainthood, a human life is not possible.”

And your point about the ham reminded me of Soutine’s beef carcass.

#5 Comment By Seoulite On January 19, 2019 @ 4:56 am

Beautiful thoughts Rod. You forgot to mention that the Spanish know directly what it is like to be conquered by Muslims. Knowing what it is like to be conquered, with enemy soldiers kicking in your door, is another thing Americans cannot know.

I have a nightmare in which even the most sceptical among us finally wake up to the death of the West when we see the Sistine Chapel burning, surrounded by a large group of young North African men screaming in delight.

#6 Comment By Jesse On January 19, 2019 @ 6:19 am

The radical action from the new Christians will mean nothing unless they get off the government teat. It’s one of the most aggravating parts of it, that they are willing to take our money and get privileges on paying taxes, but whine at any demands made by the people paying their way.

If the new Christians get shirty, the government will take away those privileges. And that will be a good thing – for both sides. But it will look much, much better if it’s something they choose rather than something imposed on them.

I don’t think the Christians will do this. It would mean actually spending 40 years in the desert, not at the tables of power. And god forbid they experience any discomfort.

#7 Comment By Furor On January 19, 2019 @ 7:18 am

Ummmm.

Wasn’t anticlericalism in England simply Reformation?

I think the Reformation has practically reduced the social influence of christianity, through destroying monasteries and reducing faith to private thoughts, a subjective fideism

#8 Comment By Marie in Vermont On January 19, 2019 @ 8:52 am

Dear Rod:

Early 50’s is not elderly.

[NFR: I know, I’m joking about myself. — RD]

#9 Comment By James C. On January 19, 2019 @ 9:09 am

Thanks for this. You have encapsulated what consoles me and vivifies my imagination as a Catholic living in the Old Continent.

I also helps explain my pain and anger at the elites who hate this heritage and who seek to destroy it.

#10 Comment By Shane A. On January 19, 2019 @ 10:30 am

Rod, thanks for sharing that passage. It reminds me of Lewis’s response to a common criticism against his and Tolkien’s use of fantasy in the 20th century: isn’t it just escapism?

Lewis’s response was similar to Barzun’s: thoughts of escape are the healthy thing for a man in prison; it might be the only thing keeping him sane. Likewise for a man born into an intellectual prison. The desire to escape–to see something outside of the walls–is the prerequisite for actually escaping.

I think there’s a useful lesson there for Christians raised within the walls of liberal modernity.

#11 Comment By Sid Finster On January 19, 2019 @ 11:58 am

Funny that an Orthodox Christian would speak of “an orientation to change and innovation” as a feature and not a bug.

Whatever, that’s just an observation.

Anyway, the fundamental difference between the benop in St. Benedict’s time and 2019 is that the barbarians then didn’t really care much about ideology, as long as their subjects paid tribute. (In fact, most of the barbarians of late Roman Antquity were Christians of a sort, albeit Arians.)

The people in charge today care very much about culture, and are not going to let you just hole up, tend your own garden, and otherwise be left alone. They will root you and yours out, and they won’t take “no thank you” for an answer. No, neither Trump nor any number of judges will be able to save you. At best, they can delay the inevitable, and probably will just make the sjw set madder for when they finally get the whip hand.

You can either fight (and they are stronger than you and they will win) or you can run like hell, probably so someplace where you won’t be able to wax rhapsodic over ham.

See the law of merited impossibility for further details and insights.

[NFR: I said it’s both a feature AND a bug! For example, only in America would it be relatively easy for a man such as me to convert to Orthodox Christianity, or even to consider that as a possibility. The down side is that it will be much easier for my children to consider converting to something other than Orthodoxy, because everything is so fluid. — RD]

#12 Comment By Lance On January 19, 2019 @ 12:36 pm

Elderly person?! Not even SS has senior status starting before 55, Rod.

#13 Comment By Old West On January 19, 2019 @ 1:34 pm

When thinking about Europe, I am reminded of something that was said about George H.W. Bush’s approval ratings compared to Ronald Reagan’s. At one point, after “winning” the Iraq War, Bush had an approval rating of nearly 90%, and then dropped into the high 20’s during his last year in office.

Reagan, by contrast, spent the bulk of his presidency hovering around the 50% range, +/- 10 percent. He had a couple of brief surges to the high 60’s and one brief drop into the high 30s.

Commentators noted that Reagan could never have flown as high or dropped as low as Bush, because he had a solid grounding of support, and a solid group of opponents.

I think that Europe is a lot like that. It could never have flown as high as the US in the direction of individual and economic and religious freedom and thus in the flourishing of creativity and prosperity that this has allowed in America.

But at the same time, I think that Europe’s native population (the influx of immigrants and demographics may change this, of course), has a cultural floor that is much higher and more solid than we will eventually find ours to be. It is made up not of things you will read in policy papers and books and campaign platforms, but rather of unspoken and even unconscious shared senses of “you just don’t do that or act that way.”

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 19, 2019 @ 11:15 pm

I do not see clericalism as identical to Christianity. Protestant Christianity is almost inherently anticlerical, without in any way being atheistic. A populist form of Christianity will not place hierarchs, prelates and priests on a pedestal above a laity.

In countries where church and state were joined together, with monarch granted the right to rule by clerics, and a state church granted the right to monopoly enforced by state violence, then rebellion against one would entail rebellion against the other, which would appear to take anti-Christian forms.

But many who rebelled against clerics in the Reformation, didn’t do it to disparage Christ, but out of Christian conscience.

Since America over the past couple of centuries was mostly a Protestant enterprise, this has ramifications for what will occur, that are different from Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Ireland and others that were always overwhelmingly Catholic.

[NFR: I agree with you that clericalism is not the same thing as Christianity. In overwhelmingly Catholic countries like France and Spain were, though, that was, historically speaking, a distinction without a difference. — RD]

#15 Comment By Sid Finster On January 20, 2019 @ 9:31 am

Do you really think that only in America people convert to Orthodoxy?

#16 Comment By Bruce Lewis On January 20, 2019 @ 10:44 am

“Spanish leftists — including liberals (that is to say: not communists or socialists) — were fanatically committed to demonizing Christians, both using the power of the state, and within civil society.”

I think that this is a sweeping generalization. How much do you know about the life and works of Spain’s greatest 20th century poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, who was murdered by Franco’s supporters among the Falangists, mostly because of his artistic endeavor, to bring classical Spanish theater to ordinary people in Spain, and only partly because he was gay? Lorca never fully renounced his family’s traditional Catholicism, wrote numerous poems that were reverential regarding Jesus Christ, and is recorded as having prayed aloud before his assassination. Not all Spanish “liberals” were united in persecuting Catholicism.

[NFR: That’s not actually true, according to a contemporary Spanish historian. He was murdered by Nationalists, but because, it appears, he angered some local folks in Granada. See here: [2] — RD]

#17 Comment By Bruce Lewis On January 20, 2019 @ 10:50 am

Another thing about Franco that I think you don’t know: at the end of his life, he was very much out of favour with the papacy of Paul VI Montini. He was disgusted not only by the reforms of Vatican II, but also by that pontiff’s overtures to the Soviet Union and modest support of “worker priests.” And the hierarchs in the Vatican were disgusted with him.

#18 Comment By JonF On January 20, 2019 @ 12:07 pm

Re: Wasn’t anticlericalism in England simply Reformation?

Not quite. Setting aside Henry VIII’s marital woes, the English Reformation was clerically led, e.g., by Cranmer and others. There was a strong rejection of foreign clergy beginning with the Pope, but not of English clerics. The more extreme manifestation of the Reformation– the Puritan movement, was ultimately rejected by the English

#19 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 20, 2019 @ 12:41 pm

“[NFR: I agree with you that clericalism is not the same thing as Christianity. In overwhelmingly Catholic countries like France and Spain were, though, that was, historically speaking, a distinction without a difference. — RD]”

Agreed, but with a proviso: it is worth reading the historical record of what was done to French Huguenots, who were Christian but not Catholic, and were genocidally persecuted by French clerics joined to the monarchy and aristocracy. This was not trivial but affected millions of people to this day.

“In October 1985, to commemorate the tricentenary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, President François Mitterrand of France announced a formal apology to the descendants of Huguenots around the world. At the same time, the government released a special postage stamp in their honour reading “France is the home of the Huguenots” (Accueil des Huguenots).”

In furtherance of the truth (just like as the Catholic boys falsely accused in Kentucky) worth a brief familiarization:

[3]

God bless you on your own mission.

#20 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 20, 2019 @ 1:20 pm

[… only in America would it be relatively easy for a man such as me to convert to Orthodox Christianity, or even to consider that as a possibility. The down side is that it will be much easier for my children to consider converting to something other than Orthodoxy, because everything is so fluid. — RD]”

Yet we must remember that conversions in Europe among Christian believers were so numerous that more than trivial disagreement and even conflict occurred, so that masses of people on the losing sides, emigrated to America as genuine persecuted refugees.

I am certainly thankful that you found Christ despite a less than lukewarm Methodist family affiliation, even if that led you to the Catholic Church. And thankful that you found the Orthodox alternative, once you lost faith in the Catholic organization, but not Christ. So my prayers for your children, are that they choose Christ, wherever that enduring faith leads them.

I will add that it is possible not just in America, but in all the Anglo countries, and increasingly, in Latin and South America, where a de facto Catholic affiliation is no longer necessary. It is also the case that some of the Catholic hierarchy’s own fecklessness that has not served those they are supposed to minister to, has been a main cause of conversions for those still drawn to Jesus, and also secularism rejecting God outright.

A book that had a large influence with me, is “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” by John Paul II. I read the physical copy when it came out. It is available online:

[4]

Many spiritually powerful insights!

#21 Comment By Rich On January 20, 2019 @ 5:36 pm

I’ve been to Barcelona twice. It’s one of my favorite cities. I’m curious of two things:

1) Were you able to visit the Sagrada Familia?

2) Do you think the Sagrada Familia represents anything substantive about Spanish Christianity, or it simply a beautiful building that will for the most part be a tourist attraction, not a place of worship?

#22 Comment By GaryH On January 20, 2019 @ 5:56 pm

The ‘roots’ matter is one of central importance. On that you should post more. What I think needs to be stressed is that Protestantism is in a key way anti-rootedness. Martin Luther came up with the idea of sola fide as the very essence of Christianity, as THE most important formulation of faith, as a summation of the faith.

If that is true, then all previous church history is something either to be dismissed because false to the core essence of Christianity or else treated as like some period of either corruption so deep that it hid the core truth of the religion or else so retarded that it could not see the ‘obvious’ core truth of the faith. The result was roots cut, and then burned. And for almost all Protestant groups other than Lutherans and Church of England, it meant a kind of reoccurring cutting of roots. Most groups that can be labeled as coming from the ‘radical reformation’ have something akin to a sense of a denial that history exists, at least before they are certain their group existed.

#23 Comment By Mrs. Mainstream Protestant On January 20, 2019 @ 6:45 pm

When I visited Ireland recently, I was struck in a positive way by the monastery ruins that I visited. Ireland can be proud of carrying Christian learning through the Dark Ages.

Sadly, the symbol of the modern era that struck with me was seeing a former Catholic church that had been converted into a library. That, more than anything, was symbolic of the de-Christianization of Ireland.