The Gospel According to John Bull
#1
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN BULL

taken from The Point

Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney MICM — Saint Benedict Center

March, 1954

When the Reformation came to England, it cut like a knife, severing the country cleanly from the Faith, from the traditions and culture of Europe, and from its own past. In the space of just a few lifetimes, the England that had been — that carefree, joyous country with its tender love for the Mother of God — was obliterated. And in its place there arose something new: Protestant England — mistress of the seas, merchant of the world, mother of the Empire.

What had once been called Our Lady’s Dowry became, in apostasy, the most un-Mary-like of nations. It became cold, haughty, ambitious and, when necessary, officially ruthless. It developed a lust for empire, a passion to impose its government, its culture, its ideas on the rest of the world. It became, in its interests and aspirations, no longer merely English, but British.

Among the products which this Protestant empire has been responsible for is British Catholicism. Though this is not the Faith of all English Catholics, it is the official, By-appointment-to-Her-Majesty version. It is represented mainly in the writings of certain articulate Britons who, for reasons of their own, decided to join the Church.

The fact that these writers should be the spokesmen, self-appointed or otherwise, of the Faith in England is the most conclusive evidence of how the Reformation has triumphed in that country. An examination of some of them, therefore, ought to be instructive for more than just what it reveals about themselves.

The outstanding Catholic novelists writing in the English language today are, by the consensus of all unbelieving critics, Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene. These two have developed a convenient technique: they deny that they are writing as Catholics when they see that such a commitment would hamper their free expression, but advertise their Faith when they are trying to get the Catholic public to buy their books. In the latter case they assure their readers that what they are writing is not simply pornography, but pornography with a point; that it has a very moral and Catholic purpose, and will probably lead thousands to the truth.

The Bible in England comes clothed in the vocabulary and the manner of Monsignor Ronald A. Knox. “Ronnie,” as the Oxford students used to call him, is otherwise known for his clever quips and his superficiality in theology. He is known as a man who is willing to sacrifice any value, any truth for the sake of scoring a point against an intellectual adversary. Here is a typical instance, in which it happens to be the singularity of Our Lady’s sinlessness that falls by the way. In refutation of a noted blasphemer who says he does not believe in the Immaculate Conception, Knox remarks: “Does he believe in original sin? I imagine not; and if he does not believe in original sin, then he believes in the Immaculate Conception; not merely in the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, but in the immaculate conception of everybody else.”

We should like to point out to Monsignor Knox that it is the preservation from original sin, not the non-existence of original sin, that accounts for the Immaculate Conception. If one does not believe in original sin, one does not believe that anyone, not even Our Lady, was immaculately conceived.

Ronald Knox’s British reply to this correction would probably be: “I was only pulling his leg”; to which we add our American reply: “And you were also pulling a bone.”

Another outstanding English apologist, and a disciple of Monsignor Knox, is Mr. Arnold Lunn. His little vagary is a predilection toward certain Modernists, particularly the condemned English priest, George Tyrrell. Lunn quotes Tyrrell approvingly and at length in his books. But Lunn is far too cagey to go on record as openly favoring a Modernist; and so, by way of excusing Tyrrell and exonerating himself, he offers this: “Tyrrell’s poor tortured diseased liver was largely responsible for his Modernism.”

Alfred Noyes has the distinction of being the only one of these British writers to have a book of his condemned by the Holy Office during his lifetime. The book is Voltaire, Noyes’ friendly account of that notorious hater of Christ and His Church.

Some British government office lost an excellent clerk when Donald Attwater entered the Church and found a lucrative occupation in compiling various sorts of Catholic dictionaries. Despite his conversion, however, his heart has always remained true to the realm. Here is what he has to say on the subject of Pope Saint Pius V: “By the Regnans in excelsis, he excommunicated Elizabeth of England, declaring her deposed and releasing her subjects from their allegiance. It was a great error of judgment.”

Having thus surveyed the authors of British Catholicism — though there are others, these are sufficient to delineate the type — we have just one further thing to note. Indeed, for us in America, it is the most significant thing: the fact that these writers’ influence is not confined to England, or even to the Empire, but extends to this country. Consequently, to all the peculiarly American expressions of lack of faith, we have the added burden of this imported mongrelism. (A good deal of which is brought to this country by an ad hoc little outfit in New York, named Sheed & Ward, founded by a disgruntled lawyer from Australia, in partnership with an English wife.)

There is a long road to travel before America will ever become a Catholic country. However, the first clear sign that we have begun will be when we see America rid of British Catholicism, its authors and its advocates. That ought to be the first step. And, considering our national traditions, it ought to be the easiest.

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#2
(01-05-2010, 06:02 PM)stvincentferrer Wrote: The outstanding Catholic novelists writing in the English language today are, by the consensus of all unbelieving critics, Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene. These two have developed a convenient technique: they deny that they are writing as Catholics when they see that such a commitment would hamper their free expression, but advertise their Faith when they are trying to get the Catholic public to buy their books. In the latter case they assure their readers that what they are writing is not simply pornography, but pornography with a point; that it has a very moral and Catholic purpose, and will probably lead thousands to the truth.

What?!  I haven't read anything by Waugh or Greene, but I was under the impression they were both good and devout Catholic authors.

Are they really responsible for writing pornography, or is that just hyperbole by the article?
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#3
I read the first paragraph with interest, it had something true to say about the change in the national character of the English in the post-Reformation times. But then, it seems out of nowhere, it all gives way to venting spite gainst all the English writers he can think of. Evelyn Waugh and Grahm Greenewrites pornography? Excuse me? When did they deny they were Catholics? Waugh, especially, in the classic "Bridehead Revisited", showed how the Church was the solution to the problems of modern life. Besides the fact that they're English, where is he getting this stuff?
The part on Knox is astounding: when Knox makes fun of someone who disbelieved in the Immaculate Conception,pointing out the contradiction in that position, and for that he's taken to task? I suspect Feeney would have equal indignation if Knox had let it go; damned if you do, damned if you don't. "Superficiality in theology" , no evidence given, apparently means " he didn't agree with me".
I don't know much about the others, but it is more of the same castigation without adequate reason. Tyrrell for saying that physical problems can put one in a bad frame of mind, and result in heresy is not wrong, many sins have a bodily starting point; lust is an example. Noyes seems to have written a biography of Voltair- that's all we need to condemn him? WHat about a historian who mentions Voltaire, is he immoral, too? Attwater- are we not allowed to say the Pope can make an error of judgement now? Because I can think of a few papal errors in judgement, too.
I'm of Irish descent as well, and so have no reason to love the English especially, but this is ridiculous. Why not post the good things Feeney wrote?
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#4
I've never read any of the writers the article mentions (though I've seen the 1981 BBC production of Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, which I hear is faithful to the book, and loved it). I don't trust Catholics that get good press, and I know enough about the writers mentioned that they were embraced by the non-Catholic establishment to some extent.
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#5
Is there really any reason to resurrect the ecclesiastical sniping of the 1950s?  I get the impression that there was virtually no Catholic that Fr. Feeney could stand, except himself.
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#6
(01-05-2010, 06:57 PM)spasiisochrani Wrote: Is there really any reason to resurrect the ecclesiastical sniping of the 1950s?  I get the impression that there was virtually no Catholic that Fr. Feeney could stand, except himself.

He didn't like Catholics that were embraced by enemies of the Church, though I've read Feeney express kind sentiments about Waugh in other places. They met once.
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#7
It's possible Feeney had a point, but I think some qualifier of labels like "pornography" is necessary to buttress his argument. I've read Brideshead Revisited and the Sword of Honor trilogy by Waugh, and several works by Greene--The Quiet American, The End of the Affair, The Heart of the Matter, and The Power and the Glory--and liked all of them a great deal. My guess is that Feeney was aware that Greene had a very messy personal life (which included not only a pornography habit and mistresses--the most enduring of whom, Catherine Walston, was, it so happens, a cousin of mine--but friendship with the likes of Fidel Castro and Kim Philby as well) and objected to his being held up as an emblem of British Catholicism on that basis. Of course, both Waugh and Greene were converts, not scions of old recusant families, and may have been suspect in Feeney's eyes ipso facto.
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#8
I had to follow this up a bit because of the family connection, and I think I get at least part of it. The End of the Affair, which was based on Greene's affair with Catherine Walston, was published in 1951 and promptly got Greene on the cover of Time with the strapline "Adultery can lead to Sainthood." Feeney, quite understandably, would have been disgusted by that. By the time he published the article above in 1954, he had probably been building up bile around the subject for a few years.

See here for more lurid detail about the Greene/Walston affair: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/...28643.html I didn't know this before, but apparently she was his goddaughter!
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#9
I have not read much of Father Feeney's writings but what I have has generally been pretty good.  This diatribe, however, is a bit much.  Does anyone know what he thought of Chesterton, Belloc et al?  Belloc wrote things favorable to certain aspects of the French Revolution.  Does that disqualify him as a good Catholic?  Given the history of American Catholicism the last forty years or more I only wish that MORE of the English writers' influences had been felt here.  As to the "ad hoc little outfit" Sheed & Ward, some of the best books in my library were published by this house.
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#10
(01-05-2010, 11:07 PM)WilfredLeblanc Wrote: It's possible Feeney had a point, but I think some qualifier of labels like "pornography" is necessary to buttress his argument. I've read Brideshead Revisited and the Sword of Honor trilogy by Waugh, and several works by Greene--The Quiet American, The End of the Affair, The Heart of the Matter, and The Power and the Glory--and liked all of them a great deal. My guess is that Feeney was aware that Greene had a very messy personal life (which included not only a pornography habit and mistresses--the most enduring of whom, Catherine Walston, was, it so happens, a cousin of mine--but friendship with the likes of Fidel Castro and Kim Philby as well) and objected to his being held up as an emblem of British Catholicism on that basis. Of course, both Waugh and Greene were converts, not scions of old recusant families, and may have been suspect in Feeney's eyes ipso facto.

There's no mystery. The article explains precisely why Waugh and Greene are deserving of criticism. Their fame was hugely bolstered by a non-Catholic literary establishment, and they were double-minded in advancing themselves. I don't know if these claims are true since I'm not that familiar with the writers, but I do notice that Catholic artists tend to water down their religious impulses to be accepted.

As far as Feeney's opinion of Chesterbelloc goes, he liked them. I just posted a piece he wrote about Chesterton in the arts subforum.

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