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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Those Who Are Ignorant of History Are Often Anti-Religious Bigots!

Hillaire Belloc - early 20th c. historian
I was on a website recently reading the comments. Sadly the amount of X-rated name calling, not to mention ignorance, was staggering. If you want to read some of what passes for discussion today, check it out here.

Now I try (and often fail) to argue in the classical sense. You know -- define your terms, present your argument (i.e. your thesis backed up by facts), and ask cogent questions of your opponent in the debate. I try not to rant. What you'll notice if you bother to scroll through the comments is that ranting is exactly what is going on. "I'm an atheist.. and you are an f...... blockhead!" pretty much summarizes some of the "comments on the article.

Now if I were the moderator at Spero Forum I would not allow that obscenity to be posted. But I'm not. The reason, however, that I found the discussion so interesting was the obvious ignorance of so many of those commenting. One self-described atheist blames religion for all the evils of history. You can guess what he refers to as "proof"--
the inquisition and the crusades. He says he values freedom, science, and education, but he apparently knows nothing about the development of the university system which came from the church. Nor does he realize that many scientific discoveries were made by scientists who were Catholic clerics and by Catholic lay scientists. He obviously knows nothing about the Inquisition or the Crusades either or he would not just join the ignorant mantra of anti-Catholicism behind those accusations. If not for the Crusades saving the West from Islam, he would not today have the freedom to make his comments illustrating his stupidity to the world. And the Church Inquisition which bigots often describe as executing millions was actually restrained for the times and over its 250 year history executed only about ten people a year. What an irony it is to see liberals, who have no problem with the bloody execution of about 4500 innocent babies every year, attack the Church for the Inquisition.

Please, please, please study history. And make sure the historians you read are reputable and honest. Hillaire Belloc is certainly one. So is Dr. Warren Carroll and some of his short volumes (on the Russian revolution, Guadalupe, The Spanish Civil War) are easy reading. If you think of history as a collection of true stories from the past, Warren Carroll is a riveting storyteller.

And don't neglect Church History. I recommend Fr. John Laux's Church History published by Tan Books It's pricey but you can find used copies on Amazon. The book was first published in 1930 so the 20th century is only marginally presented and Vatican II and its aftermath not at all. But it is a great resource through the pontificate of Pius XI and the early pontificate of Pius XII.

Fr. Laux in his final chapter includes an encouraging quote from St. Augustine that is every bit as true today as when the saint said it 1600 years ago:
[Holy Church's] enemies look upon her and say, "She is about to die; soon her very name will disappear; there will be no more Christians; they have had their day." Whilst they are thus speaking, I see these very men die themselves, day by day, but the Church lives on, and preaches the power of God to every succeeding generation.
Prepare yourself to defend the truth in the present by studying the past. As Ecclesiastes says, "There is nothing new under the sun." By studying the past, you will prepare yourself to be salt and light to the present.


  1. I've seen alot of hate and bile in some comments sections. I've grown more selective in what I respond to. As you say, there is alot of ignorance. I don't try to argue anymore but only present alternative Cathlic views. Mu local paper has an online version that allows for disqus comments which go unmoderated. Candidly, I call this place the monkey house as folks aren't interested in discussion only throwing poo at each other.

    I am also convinced of demonic influence. On a few occasion I've elicited such hatred from atheists, pro aborts that I'm not sure if I am conversing with a demon, demonically influenced human or something else entirely. The most terrible hate I've gotten is from anti catholic haters.

    As ive said here, I've cut my commenting down on other sites due to the lack of civility.

  2. Me too and I NEVER click the button that lets you follow responses. Who needs that kind of grief?

  3. I always read comments, and usually regret it. People are just ignorant these. May I throw out a few more suggestions for reading? Belloc, absolutely. Dr. Carroll's History of Christendom is six lengthy, scholarly volumes, but are not dry tomes in the slightest. Highly, highly recommended. Also, James Hitchcock recently released a one volume history of the Church. That one IS dry, but if you aren't looking to get into a large series, it's absolutely the way to go, as it's faithful.

    I also cannot recommend Christopher Dawson enough. He, like Belloc, writes a lot on how religion, and Christianity in particular, made Europe. His "Dynamics of World History" should be required reading.

    Incidentally, don't neglect other important works from the past. I was recently reminded of the importance of de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America." I have never read it in its entirety, but I'm struck at how prophetic de Tocqueville is. In fact, I think that's going to be bumped up to next on my reading list...

    Anyway, there's lots of great resources for history out there. Just make sure they are faithful and uncompromising of the Faith. God Bless!

  4. Thanks for the recommendations, Steven. I just visited your blog and saw that the last post was almost a year ago. After reading some of your posts I really want to encourage you to blog more regularly -- even once or twice a month. Pick a blogging day -- maybe Sunday asking the Blessed Mother to inspire you.

    And if you link your blog to Facebook and Twitter you have no idea how many people you can reach with that small effort. We need the voice of truth in our poor, deluded world and each one of us who speaks the truth is like a drop of water on parched ground.

    Please get back to the keyboard. I'm going to link to your blog and hope to see many new posts in the weeks ahead.

  5. Thanks. There is a lot happening in my life telling me to blog again. I suspect they are little "pokes" from my Guardian Angel or the Holy Spirit telling me to start again.

    Sundays did, in fact, used to be my day for blogging. During the week I would read something or have a conversation with someone or just meditate on something that I would resolve to write a blog post about. I'm not going back to Facebook though. I had to give it up. For my spiritual AND physical health! :-)

    Thanks for linking to my blog. I'm humbled by it.

    God Bless!