- Paperback: 460 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 18, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 148014021X
- ISBN-13: 978-1480140219
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #863,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Great Heresies and Survivals and New Arrivals Paperback – October 18, 2012
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Remember when the term "Manichean" was trendy? Listen to Belloc on the Manichean heresy, and see if it doesn't sound "ironically" familiar:
But one thing the Manichean of every shade has always felt, and that is, that <matter> belongs to the evil side of things. Though there may be plenty of evil of a spiritual kind yet good must be <wholly> spiritual. That is something you find not only in the early Manichean, not only in the Albigensian of the Middle Ages, but even in the most modern of the remaining Puritans. It seems indissolubly connected with the Manichean temper in every form. Matter is subject to decay and is therefore evil. Our bodies are evil. Their appetites are evil. This idea ramifies into all sorts of absurd details. Wine is evil. Pretty well any physical pleasure, or half-physical pleasure, is evil. Joy is evil. Beauty is evil. Amusements are evil-and so on. Anyone who will read the details of the Albigensian story will be struck over and over again by the singularly modern attitude of these ancient heretics, because they had the same root as the Puritans who still, unhappily, survive among us.
The reason Belloc is still worth reading, and breath-takingly relevant, is that no one writes like him these days. Modern apologetic writers are too "apologetic," whereas Belloc is unapologetic:
... There is not, as there was even quite a short time ago, a confused and heterogeneous margin or penumbra which could talk with confidence of itself under the vague title of "Christian," and speak confidently of some imaginary religion called "Christianity." No. There are today already almost quite distinct and sharing the field between them, soon to be as markedly exposed as black and white, the Catholic Church on one side, and on the other opponents of what has hitherto been our civilization.
Here is one last quote:
... Individuals attached to one or more of these three moods, Nationalism, Anti-Clericalism and the Modern Mind, are often led into direct and personal hatred of the Catholic Church because that organization has clashed with the object of their devotion. Such often end with a special preoccupation of hatred which takes the place of their older allegiance, and they become more concerned with the destruction of Catholicism than with the preservation of their country or the defense of lay rights or their delight in that repose of not-thinking, which is the Modern Mind's especial lure and value for weary man. But the three moods themselves are not specifically and consciously anti-Catholic; they are not so by definition nor to their own knowledge. They appear so only indirectly and usually by reaction against Catholic effort or advance. Lastly let it be noted that our Main Opposition today powerfully affects Catholics themselves. Coloring all our time, it cannot but tinge the Catholic body therein present
Although Belloc is slightly crotchety, and hard to agree with one hundred percent, I still give this book five stars because his take, both on history, and the "contemporary" situation (which I guarantee you will recognize) is so bracing and contrary to what we hear every day all around us.
Some interesting predictions he made that were fulfilled:
1. He puts forward his belief that the influence of the Muslim nations will once again be great, even though, in his time, their fortunes appeared to be in an eclipse.
2. He strongly decries the trend of changing history, by pretending to examine the authorship and validity of texts. In another book, Europe and the Faith, he says that this was being done in favor of Germanic nations. He refutes the claim that culture was held together by the Germanic peoples -- thus predicting the ideas behind the Nazi "master race"
On the other hand:
1. He felt that nationalism -- that which had drove humanity into the 1st World War was nearly dead. He did not forsee that it probably helped spawn another World War -- although he did live to see it as an invalid.
2.He did not realize the time-lag that the USA is in. Our ideas on capitalism, communism, and fundamentalism, are now coming to the fore, in the way they did in Great Britain in the 1920's! I think this is because the USA has been lucky enough in the past, to have a large rural population with conservative values, which offset the philosophies of the industrial and intellectual centers.
If you like history, and like to analyze current events, you will love this book, too!
Noticed that I have not yet used the word "Catholic" since to contemporary readers that is a call to place the book on the self next to hagiographies of the saints. Let us say that it is an invitations to take a brief walk with this giant of a man.