In The Everlasting Man, Chesterton uses an analogy to describe the modern inability to properly critique religion. He paints a mental picture using the image of a Cathedral with stained glass.
He explains that if we enter into the Church we can see the beauty from the inside, and by extension will see the point of stained glass, which is not obvious from the outside. On the other hand, he describes one standing outside and at length from a church, where one is still able to appreciate the thing from a distance as the exterior beauty is also astounding, and where the mysteriousness of the stained glass calls us in to see what it would really look like from the inside.
Chesterton answers the modern critic of Christianity as standing neither inside the church or outside and away from it, thus it is like they are standing on the steps and can see neither the internal nor external beauty properly.
Perhaps we can extend this analogy to how we might criticize or admire a nation.
I am not American and have spent very little time in the USA, but instead have spent my life watching what happens “down south” from outside and at a distance from my southern neighbour. Therefore, I cannot describe what happens in America from the inside, but I can critique the nation and make observations thereof from a distance.
On the one hand, I see that the USA truly is the “land of opportunity,” and the “American dream” does still seem enticing, especially for those of us Catholic conservatives stuck in our current Trudeaupia. On the other hand, it is easy to see that America is a nation experiencing severe moral decay, like virtually all nations on earth, and, it would be easy to find other things to criticize – I could write a whole book on the sad reality of dropping the letter “u” from so many words.
In any case, from my perspective, although there are reasons to criticize America, I must say that I view the nation as a wonderful place to be Catholic, and there may not be a more amenable home for Catholics on earth. (I am speaking generally here.)
But hold on! What about the fact that America was founded with strong Whig Freemasonic influence? Or the fact that the American Constitution enshrines a level of religious indifferentism! Furthermore, is it not obvious that America has a history of persecuting Catholics?
All these things are true, and there will be no attempt here to claim that America is a “Catholic republic” or the New Christendom. However, in the interest of motivating patriotic sentiment amongst my friends and allies under Uncle Sam, I believe we can consider objections to the USA and still establish how fortunate one is to fly the Stars and Stripes.
Before I continue, I will not be going on any “neocon” rants about how great the US is because you can get cheap gas (yes, your gas is still MUCH cheaper than mine!) or because America has “exported” democracy to such democratic nations as Iraq or Afghanistan. Instead, I think we ought to consider the providential path America that has made your country a wonderful place for Catholics to live.
The Revolution, Freemasonry, and the Counterrevolution
In a basic sense, revolution is not Catholic, as flipping the order of things on its head for massive societal change is a recipe for chaos and disorder. Catholicism is a religion of order, thus anything that arbitrarily causes chaos is anathema.
However, rebellion is not uncatholic, and sometimes what is called a revolution to some is a rebellion to others.
If we consider the American Revolution, it is a more complex affair than the French or Mexican. For one thing, the Freemasonry that was part of the consciousness of the founders was not the Freemasonry of Catholic Europe.
Please do not confuse my meaning as an attempt to say that any Freemasonry is good. I would never dare say such a thing. But it is just a fact that Freemasonry in the Commonwealth was historically different than the illuminized version that spread in Continental Europe – and by default Catholic colonies – after 1776.
Old English Freemasonry was absurd and religiously dangerous with its borderline Mormon rewriting and interpretation of Scripture and history, this is to be sure. However, in a sense of morals and what was expected of the Freemason, it was quite different than the post-76 Freemasonry that made France descend into a neo-pagan fit of bloodlust and genocide.
The Freemasons of the American founding were religiously indifferent and harboured anti-Catholic sentiments in some cases, but they manifested no desire to behead Catholics by the thousands and smash altars and erect false gods in Cathedrals.
Again, this is not an apologetic for Masonic groups, but only an accurate commentary on history.
England had already been imbibed with Freemasonry, and had exported it to America. But, long before England was Masonic, she was a nation of revolution.
After Henry VIII cut ties with Rome and had his wife’s head cut off, the English began to cut ties with history. What began as a change in ecclesiology became a change in doctrine, both national and religious.
This is to say that if any nation was “anti-Catholic” at the onset of the American Revolution, it was clearly the nation that revolted against Catholicism and became Protestant and masonic.
Even if the American founders were revolutionaries in their own right, they revolted against a revolutionary empire that revolted against Christ’s Church. A revolution against a revolution is called a counterrevolution by some.
I will not pretend that the founders revolted against a Masonic-protestant nation in order to restore the rights of Christ the King. But, I will also not pretend that they revolted against the Church directly when it was the Anglicans who initially did so.
As a result of this revolution against a revolution, the idea of an overarching and overly powerful government was deemed anathema, and as a result of this result, a great emphasis on the rights of lower levels of government – subsidiarity – has been firmly entrenched in the American psyche (in American English you call this “liberty”).
Of course, the Marxists have done and will continue to do what they do in order to encroach on the rights of States and Counties, but either way there is still a fight for the true liberty of the local group, which has served Catholics greatly.
It is often lamented that American history is filled with latent anti-Catholicism in certain legislation, as well as a nasty habit of anti-Catholic groups like the KKK. This is of course true, as great injustices have been done against Catholics in the US.
However, the past 2-300 years have been a some of the worst years for Catholics since the early days of Christianity. We might say that the most significant anti-Catholic activity began at the Protestant revolt, when a Catholic revolted against the Church.
If we consider the anti-Catholicism in America, it is nothing like the anti-Catholicism that reared its head in historically Catholic Europe.
Italy made the pope a hostage and a fugitive and took his land. Germany went to war for decades because Luther had a diabolical tantrum, and Freemasons in Portugal imprisoned the Fatima Children.
This is to say nothing of the Catholic colonies like Latin America and Quebec. Try being a faithful Catholic in Cuba or Nicaragua. Better yet, try teaching Catholicism in accredited schools in Quebec without being told by the government that you must teach that Islam and Judaism teach the same thing. You can’t!
For all their faults, the founders of America did not treat the Northeast like the Vendée, nor did they pass lasting legislation like Catholic Mexico that render it – to this day – technically illegal to wear a cassock in public.
While the KKK was flexing its muscles in the 40s, 50s and 60s, a Bishop in a Cassock was the most listened to and watched man in America.
If only America could be so amenable to Catholics as “Catholic Europe” and the “Catholic New World!”
Future of Catholicism
No matter what may be said about the anti-Catholic aspects of the American experiment, it must be acknowledged that the US is perhaps the most fruitful place on earth – at least in the English-speaking world – for conservative, traditional, and open-to-life Catholicism.
A Catholic-heavy court just knocked down Moloch’s favourite “constitutional right” under the guidance of Clarence Thomas – a daily Mass attending Catholic.
In some states there are more traditional Masses available in a given region then you can shake a stick at.
And, as vague as an ever-evolving definition of “freedom” may be, Americans are less hindered in their public expressions of the Faith then perhaps in any other developed nation.
You are not being gunned down by terrorists at Easter, for example. Yes, winning the crown of martyrdom is glorious! (Say an Ave now for our brethren in Nigeria!). But if we are talking about desirability for the Church to flourish, I imagine you will not be taking your family to Nigeria in order to share in the martyr experience any time soon.
You are able to have a plethora of truly Catholic educational institutions not only established, but accredited. It is immeasurable how valuable and rare this is for those of us on the outside.
And, if you still think America is the Whore of Babylon and you are ever so hard done by, you can either leave and go somewhere else where you will undoubtedly face more obstacles and have less liberty to raise your families Catholic, or, you can build a media communications empire in America and complain about how anti-Catholic America is!
All of this is to say that America is, at least from my perspective, a wonderful place to be Catholic, and I challenge you to find another place as amenable over all.
So, for this Independence Day, enjoy a slice of Apple Pie with some American Cheese and toast a friend with a bottle of the King of Beers to the fact that the King of Kings deigned to afford you with such a blessing to live in such a place as the United States of America.
From Canada, I say God Bless America, and may she continue to thrive as a nation to look up to.
Kennedy Hall is a contributing editor for OnePeterFive. He is the author Terror of Demons: Reclaiming Traditional Catholic Masculinity and Lockdown with the Devil, a novel about 2020 published by Our Lady of Victory Press. He is also a writer at Catholic Family News and LifeSiteNews. He is married with five children and lives in Ontario, Canada. You can find his work at kennedyhall.ca.