Ive been thinking lately about the English-ness of Chesterton and its place in his Catholicism. As Americans, inheritors of the English language and other aspects of Anglo culture we could likely benefit from some reflection.
Olde England was Catholic to its soul. There are some in Chestertonia who delve into this deeply with the stories and legends of the old missionary saints and the role played by the monasteries for almost a thousand years. It also stands to note that the English model of governmental development reflected the development of doctrine in Catholicism to a certain degree. I hate using terms vaguely, but England, Britain, and the UK all mean specific things and I might accidentally interchange. To my point, the British government does not derive from a single document, like the US Constitution, but rather emerges from a long series of acts and motions over a period of time, beginning in general with the Magna Carta. At least that's what I was taught in school. This isnt a perfect parallel, but it does mirror the process of Catholic thought in many ways. This makes the sheer violence of the Tudor era unsurprising. An amputation, such as what the break away of Henry/Elizabeth was, is a very bloody thing by definition. I do not think that this is a point of historical minutiae or religious esotericism. There is a lesson to be drawn here that sexuality and power, particularly of the state, wield forces of persuasion stronger than a thousand years of tradition and entwined systems.
Something Ive thought about in the larger sense is that for as catholic and Catholic as England/Britain have been, their experience is still just a small part of the life of the universal Church. Paradoxically, it is the Angloness of Chesterton's Catholicism that has really opened my eyes to the fellowship we share with the ancient Syriac Churches, the Greeks, the Japanese martyrs, and continental Christendom.
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