Source: Brian Holdsworth via YouTube
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Music written and generously provided by Paul Jernberg. Find out more about his work as a composer here: http://pauljernberg.com
Hilaire Belloc who was a friend and intellectual accomplice of GK Chesterton once famously, or perhaps infamously, wrote that Europe is the faith and the faith is Europe – which would have been controversial enough in his own day but would be an extremely provocative thing to say or write today, or make the title of a YouTube video. The objections, at least the sane ones, would be something like, the faith is universal, and therefore cannot be reduced to any nationality or ethnicity. And if that’s what Belloc meant, that would be a valid criticism, but what if he was talking about culture instead of ethnicity – because those things aren’t synonymous?
When Jesus spoke of nations in the gospels, as in, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” his use of the word nation would be close to what we mean by ethnicity. In fact the Koine Greek word that is translated as nations, is actually ethne which where we get, ethnic from. The Israelites, were a nation that God had raised up in a covenant with Moses, but in the incarnation of Jesus, God was establishing a new covenant with every nation, that is a universal covenant that isn’t limited to any one nation or ethnicity.
So, on the face of it, it would appear as though Belloc had missed an essential point of the gospel. And whenever anyone, like myself, tries to defend traditional cultural elements of the Latin rite of the Church as intrinsic to our Catholic culture, like chant, polyphony, traditional sacred art, and gothic architecture, many people will push back with the same objection that this is trying to reduce the faith from something universal to something national and ethnically limited to Europe. But this kind of reply fails to make the distinction between ethnicity and culture. It is based on the belief that multiculturalism is a good thing and since European culture is only one of many valid cultures which deserve inclusion within what we think of as Catholic culture, it doesn’t deserve the kind of prominence it enjoyed in the past.
When people say that traditional fixtures of the Catholic faith, which orthodox and traditional Catholics, like myself, try to promote, are too Eurocentric, they are harboring a belief that the universality of Catholic culture is due to its own cultural emptiness which it fills with whatever culture it happens to encounter through the proclamation of the Gospel.
For example, if the faith comes to a new land with a pre-existing culture, it doesn’t impose any culture of its own. It’s this mistaken notion that what becomes Catholic culture, precedes the Catholic creed so that when the creed encounters a culture, it simply adopts the good things of that culture as its own. But the problem with this idea is that it’s based on a superficial and incoherent understanding of what culture is. It thinks of culture as being the mere accidents of ethnicity, like language, food, and dress. When in fact, culture is, as I’ve argued countless times on my channel, embodied religion or embodied cult. Culture is the manifestation of a cult of worship. It doesn’t precede religion; it proceeds from religion. So, to say that the Church should embrace multiculturalism, is in a way, saying that the Church should embrace multi-cultism or multi-religion – which of course, we can’t mean without sacrificing our own distinct religion in the process. And it should come as no surprise to us that to whatever degree we’ve adopted this kind of cultural relativism into the life of the Church, our creed has suffered relentless attempts to vandalize its doctrines from within the Church.
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Header image: Matías Medina via Cathopic.com