Tuesday, August 30, 2011
It is because he is an Englishman
We English on the other hand are have a variety of opinion, each Englishman has his own and as far as he is concerned it is good as, if not better than anyone else’s. Hence the difficulty of Brown and Blair in defining what British is. Being Welsh or Scots is relatively easy: it is about not being English. The problem for them was the definition of being English. The fact that the question was put, at all, illustrated how naive and un-English those two Scots were.
The fact that we invariable have to import Scots to govern us, and a rather uninteresting German family to provide our monarchs illustrates something fundamental about being English, which is that we have so many opinions that we have difficulty organising the proverbial brewery party. We tend to outsource leadership. The genius of the English is ability to, forgive the Frenchiness is to critique government.
As with the state, so with the Church.
It has been suggested that the English are not by nature Catholic. I suspect that might be true, The nature of Anglicanism is that it is more a system of Church government than a Church, it always has since its birthday, Good Friday 1535 sought incorporate those of the most diverse opinions, Zwinglists or Calvinists rubbing along in more or less stony silence with near Papists. It worked, in its strange English way for a four hundred years.
It has been suggested that the English are not by nature Catholic. I suspect that might be true. Pre-Counter Reformation Catholicism was about passing on tradition, we English can do that easily, post -Counter Reformation Catholicism was about agreement and proclamation, that we have real difficulty with. Consensus is not our nature. Out of politeness, and necessity, we will simply not notice the Emperor is naked but as soon as he puts on any type of clothing we will take careful note of the cut of the lapel the stitching of the button hole and form factions to discuss it. As soon as the boy cries out, “’E’s naked” then Polly Toynbee will write about cellulite and the monarchy.
England is the land of Logical Positivism and The Tablet, it is not the place of great movements just of critique of movements. It is the nature of the English, to pass judgements and to knock down, not to grind into the ground, that is for another of our British races. We tend to reduce everything to “the middle way”, “the middle class”, or as one wag said after the royal wedding “the Middleton”, or the beige, or the ordinary.
Extravagance of any kind is not an English virtue.
Someone suggested Newman was an excellent model for English Catholicism, I think there was a bit of foreign blood there. Newman’s followers are a better example, that cold shouldering between the Birmingham and London Oratories. Newman is a splendid example of that English phenomenon: the Eccentric, the class where we put saints and martyrs and heroes in order to distance them from interference in the rest of lives.
Why do I write this? Partly because I was interested in the response on various blogs, including my own, to Michael Voris’ London tour, partly to explain why we seem to be a little niggardly about our endorsement of Pope Benedict’s key projects, partly to explain our both embracing and rejecting of Liberalism and our love of Notionalism, and also our inability to take ourselves too seriously.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake