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Rediscovering “Christendom”

November 8, 2021

In Ennobling Encounters, my recent book that discusses ten important politicians, writers and economists whom I encountered from my undergraduate days in college to an encomium to my recently deceased friend and colleague, Angelo Codevilla, I recognize the hand of Divine Providence that led me away from the temptation of a career in politics.

Critical were the eight years I was enrolled in a Lutheran parish school where my religious faith led me to appreciate my place in God’s creation.

Wilfred Cantwell Smith in The Meaning and End of Religion makes this distinction: “ . . . the concern of the religious man is with God; the concern of the observer is with religion.” And, indeed, “it is not entirely foolish to suggest that the rise of the concept ‘religion’ is in some ways correlated with a decline in the practice of religion itself.”

In the Catholic Church, which I adopted as my own when spending a year at the London School of Economics in 1967, my faith has been challenged by pre- and post-Vatican II events in the Church.

In response to same, my conservative compatriot, Paul Weyrich, became a member of the Greek Catholic Melkite Church, but I stayed put, sometimes in exasperation with “Guitar Masses” and with concern for the Church’s ordination of priests who were homosexual. The Good Lord knows that priests who marry bring familial problems to Church, but none as bad as pedophilia.

For that reason, I’m devoting time to understanding the part that Christian monastics played in formation of the Christian culture of “the West” after the fall of ancient Rome. That period in time is sometimes called “Medieval” but I prefer the more descriptive name of “First Europe.”

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