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Archive for October, 2005

Just As American

The other day two gentlemen appeared at my front door. The more elderly one wore a grey suit and carried a Bible and a bunch of small plastic bags stuffed with handouts. The younger one wore a neat sports shirt and dress pants, and also carried bagged handouts.

They explained that they were from Cornerstone Baptist Church, here in Massillon, and they were going door to door inviting people to visit the church. I politely told them that I had a church home. When asked, I said that I attended a Byzantine Catholic church. I’m not sure they knew what that was, but
they acted like they did.

They invited me to visit Cornerstone Baptist Church some time, then handed me a bag. A pamphlet in the bag caught my eye, one with a bald eagle and a lot of stars and stripes on the cover. I opened the pamphlet and, skimming, saw that it was not a political tract at all, but an illustrated guide to salvation,
Baptist-style.

I told them that I thought it curious that the cover was so patriotic, when the contents were religious.

"Well, why not ?", the younger man said. "After all, I am just as American as I am saved."

"Really?", I said. "I’m way more saved than I am American."

Of course I don’t share the Baptist notion that one can possess absolute certainty of one’s eternal fate, but at that point I was simply speaking their language.

The elder man inquired whether I had, indeed, repented of my sins and turned to Christ. I assured him that I had.

The younger man asked what I meant about being more saved than American. I told him I thought Christian faith put one at odds with this nation [the older man agreed].

I wished them well, and they were off.

Now I have long known that Americans are confused, but this was the first time I had seen nationalistic symbols displayed when common sense would have suggested that Christian symbol–a cross or a Bible, say–might have belonged. And apparently without a touch of dissonance.

It reminded me of the Walker Percy novel Love in the Ruins, set at a time "near the end of the world", where there is an Americanist schism in the Catholic Church, which plays the national anthem at the consecration of the Eucharist.

Chesterton famously said that America is a nation with the soul of a church, which I don’t think he meant as a compliment. But have we reached a point where many Christian bodies are churches with nationalistic souls?

Faith and nationalism do get mixed up here; after all America is a kind of religion, with a credo that proclaims that we are a Sorta Chosen People, destined to bring Freedom and Democracy to the world, whether the world wants it or not, with Liberty and Justice and Always Low Prices for all, world without
end, amen.

One would think that Catholics, belonging to a Church whose very name means "Universal", who count as their brothers and sisters men and women and children of every race and nation, living under every form of government, would be immune to this sort of thing.

Alas, I’m afraid it is not so.

Too many Catholics are "just as American" as they are Catholic.

Daniel Nichols

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FYI, the discussion that started on the Go Read This post got accidentally diverted to the Sunday Night Journal (10/9). I don’t see any way to move them except by cut-and-paste, and as it’s late in what’s been a long day I’m just going to leave them there.

Maclin Horton

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What Was Caelum et Terra All About?

Something I’ve been wanting to bring up for a while. The whole thing being fundamentally Daniel’s baby, at least editorially speaking, he gets to have the definitive word on what he had in mind, but this is a sketch of what I thought (and think). Hasty and incomplete, but maybe useful for discussion.

Maclin Horton

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Go Read This

An interview in Godspy with Caleb Stegall of The New Pantagruel.

It’s brilliant, and thoroughly grounded in the same insights and impulses that drove Caelum et Terra. I suppose it was conducted by email; if Mr. Stegall can actually talk this way extemporaneously he is astonishingly articulate. Here’s a passage that stakes out the ground pretty clearly:

Where does The New Pantagruel fit politically? Is it left or right?

I would say that the driving political-philosophical force behind tNP
has been a recognition of liberalism on both the modern right and left
as the engine of religious and particularly Christian destruction.
Which is, of course, tantamount to the destruction of western
civilization.

Really, go read it (when you have ten or fifteen minutes to spare–it’s not a soundbite).

Maclin Horton

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Simply Dispose Of Them

A few thoughts on Respect Life Sunday.

Maclin Horton

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