The Bedrock of Freedom

19th century maquette of Knight Templar St Mau...

19th century maquette of Knight Templar St Maur who signed the Magna Carta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A note: This is pretty much of a reblog of an early post of mine which seems relevant and an area not often discussed.

The Bedrock of Freedom is the Church Militant with its foundation of the Judeo-Christian Ethic, let us delve into this foundation.

Granted, what we were taught in history class (very superficially, I might add) was that the Church Militant fought Crusades, burnt heretics, pagans and other assorted ne’er do wells (in their sight), and was very corrupt and cruel. Which, while true, is certainly not the ‘truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’.[1]

Consider, the church in this timeframe also converted nearly all of Europe to Christianity; conquered (and pretty much lost) the Holy Land, fought off or subverted the various flavors of Vikings and Moslems, and discovered the new world. It also survived the Great Schism and the Reformation and the Black Death, while it did not exactly champion it, it also tolerated and made possible the Enlightenment, in the process rediscovering and colonizing the New World. Oh, and not so incidentally, fought a bunch of intramural wars.

I personally think we need to think about the foundations of a society that could take the broken remains of an ancient empire and achieve all of this and become the greatest, maybe only, outside of Judaism, itself, force for the freedom of the individual the world has ever seen.

These two items are ineradicably linked. The Judeo-Christian tradition is the tradition of the free individual. From Abraham, to Moses, to King David, to Jesus Christ, to St Peter, to Charles the Hammer, to Martin Luther, even to Washington, Lincoln, and Churchill, our heritage is the man, often alone, always saying ‘Hier ich stehe, ich kann nicht anders.’[2] Because they believed, deep in their soul, that they were right, and that some hills are worth dying for. Who comes after Churchill: the great Liberation triumvirate, Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II who were fairly old at their zenith?  And then??

Foundations are important. Why? Because we all have to pick the hills that are that important to us. I suspect we have all seen the sad sight of the house built on sand 30 years ago. It looks like it will fall down tomorrow. We’ve also seen the Tower of London (at least in pictures) 900 or so years old, and looking like it’s ready for the next 1000. That’s what a foundation does, when it is properly constructed.

We of the West had the foundation of most of the greatest thinkers in the history of the world and it seems as if we built our new house beside that foundation for no good reason, except maybe we were bored and thought the vices of the new neighborhood would be more fun than the strictures of the old way of doing things.

My mind tells me that it is a man’s duty to lead; maybe that’s where the problem begins. A hundred years ago the progressives such as Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Marx and others were preaching their new religion. It wasn’t really new; it was really the old aristocracy with a seductive new song. But it was pretty, and entailed much less responsibility and hard work than the old self-reliant ways, and so many chimed in. But they were outliers.

Then in 1914 Europe from Ireland to the Urals went to war with itself and the world would never be the same again. The flower of that generation was killed in the trenches, the Romanov’s, the Hohenzollern’s and the Hapsburgs all dethroned, this actually may not have been that great a loss except for the tradition and stability they represented. Nobody but the British Empire and the United States resembled themselves after the war and even then the Empire was mortally wounded. America has carried the torch (with help from the Anglosphere) ever since. Can anyone imagine Hitler toppling the Kaiser?

I suspect that the losses in that generation were on the order of the Black Death. But with a huge difference: the Black Death was indiscriminate: it took all ages and sexes with an emphasis on the weak, the Great War however took almost exclusively men in their late teens and twenties with an emphasis on the brave and the leaders, In other words, the champions of their societies. This was also true for the United States although not as strongly, mostly because of our limited involvement, only in 1917-18.

What did the West lose? The best and the brightest of that generation would have led the world from the late twenties through the roughly the fifties. Could there have been a far better alternative to Hitler in the Imperial German Army? I certainly would hope so. How about a better Premier than Petain, a better President than Nixon. Only God knows.

Many have said that the war was the end of the 19th century and/or the Victorian Age and I agree. However, has anyone carried that thought out to its conclusion? What marked the Victorian age if it wasn’t the mighty endeavors mounted in going out into the world and righting at least some of the wrongs found there? How about ending slavery in the west (mostly by the Royal Navy)? Ending the slaughter of innocents around the world (at least sometimes)? Perhaps, the great revolutions in America and France and the quiet one in Great Britain?  Maybe, fighting diseases and the great discoveries and inventions. And always, always doing their duty. Who but a 19th century general would have called duty the most sublime word in the language?[3] When else could the Charge of the Light Brigade have been written (or carried out!)? Or Kipling’s poetry or Sassoon’s?

Our generation, today? Not so much.

What so marked these people from about 1776 to 1914? Freedom, nothing else. Freedom (in large measure) from want, freedom to think, freedom to succeed and also, of course to fail. How will one know one has won if one can’t lose?

What’s the foundation of all these things? It is the absolute and complete sovereignty of the individual, with his rights given by God, himself. The bedrock under that foundation: The Judeo-Christian tradition, expressed primarily in the Church Militant. There exists today in what I tend to call the Church Pacifist or the Church Supine merely the faint echoes of that faith. Where are the Christian soldiers, are they still marching onward? This leaves the questions: Can we go back? Should we? How? That is a question for the sovereign individual to answer.

It is for the sovereign individual to decide but, there are guideposts available, such as the leadership offered by the Catholic bishops on infringements of individual liberty.

If we should, again America will have to lead. The Great War didn’t hurt us as badly as it did Europe. We were the first to answer these questions and have the opportunity to put the answers into practice. Thus,

We were the First. We are the guardians of the flame. Not perfect beings, but in all the world the only ones, it seems, still naive enough, still brave enough, still daring enough to put our money where our mouths are. We are the only ones who are still willing to defend the dream with our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor.’ [4]

And so it becomes our burden, if we choose to accept it, of leading the world back to the society that we of the West created and teaching that world not only the rights, but the duties and obligations that freedom carries. If we do not, undoubtedly we go back to the ninth century, or further.

[1] Obviously, this is the oath a witness takes at a trial

[2] Martin Luther

[3] Robert E. Lee, General, CSA, at Fredericksburg in the American Civil War watching the slaughter of the Army of the Potomac.

[4] Cassandra, Villainous Company, 04 July 2008 Read this post; it may be the best exposition of what America is I have ever read

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18 Responses to The Bedrock of Freedom

  1. This is a great post! Thank you for doing it.


  2. Freedom, by the way says:

    Amen. Some hills are worth dying for. Great post.


  3. Pingback: The Bedrock of Freedom « The Constitution Club

  4. The Patriot says:

    Reblogged this on A Fathers Apocalypsis and commented:
    Please read this article by my friend NE. This is an excellent exposition on the importance of Judeo-Christian principles and values and how they have shaped our world in a positive way, and why these principles are still our highest calling in this dry and thirsty land.


  5. giliar says:

    Excellent post and context of where we were and where we are today. How will history judge us?


  6. Outstanding. I hope to see it on Conclub soon. The ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition has not been perfect, but every alternative tried has been a horrendous disaster of monumental proportions. And yet that same tradition is even now under full-scale attack as they seek to substitute their own utopian, nanny-state vision for the tried and true.


  7. Reblogged this on Catholic Glasses and commented:
    Great thoughts and research!


  8. sheafferhistorian says:

    No braver soldiers than the boys in blue assaulting Marye’s heights….


  9. JessicaHof says:

    A reminder that our Faith is the bedrock of real freedom; and an eloquent statement of what it is we need to defend. We need such men in our time.


  10. Pingback: Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor « nebraskaenergyobserver

  11. Pingback: Constantine and Christendom: Glory or Calamity? | Catholic Lane « nebraskaenergyobserver

  12. Pingback: Politics and power first priority #1 « Belgian Biblestudents – Belgische Bijbelstudenten

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