Thursday, April 21, 2016

Quickies: Christianity And Freedom

     When young people are asked, “What is the antonym of freedom?” the most common answer is “Slavery.” Yet the majority of those who answer thus, when asked “What non-political force was most important in the campaign that brought the end of slavery in the Western world?” would fail to give the correct answer: Christianity. Indeed, they might be astonished at the assertion and protest that it could not possibly be so.

     Blame the educational institutions, which have become implacably hostile to Christianity, regardless of denomination. Faculties and students alike seem reflexively to condemn any expression of Christian sentiment. Indeed, explicitly Catholic universities have disciplined and in some cases fired faculty who dared to oppose same-sex marriage and abortion on demand, which are Christian doctrinal absolutes. If anything could give a clearer picture of Christianity’s expulsion from centers of learning high and low, I can’t imagine what it could be.

     Yet had Christians throughout Europe and America not risen against slavery, it would likely be with us today. And the swelling of explicitly Christian sentiment against the practice began with a man generally known only to well-read Christians: Saint Anselm of Canterbury, whose feast day is today.

     Here’s what Butler’s Lives of the Saints has to say about it:

     [St. Anselm’s] was a character of singular charm. It was conspicuous for a sympathy and sincerity which won him the affection of men of all classes and nationalities. His care extended to the very poorest of his people. He was one of the first to stand forward as an opponent of the slave trade. When in 1102 he held a national council at Westminster, primarily for settling ecclesiastical affairs, he obtained the passing of a resolution to prohibit the practice of selling men like cattle. He was in 1720 declared a Doctor of the Church [a title reserved for those saints most important to the formation and promulgation of Catholic thought].

     Anselm’s influence not only ignited the anti-slavery movement, but helped to propel it for seven centuries, until the great abolitionists of England and America put a stop to it at last. By contrast, note that slavery persists to this day, though generally unadmitted, in the lands dominated by Islam.

     Recently a college instructor caused a minor fracas – far smaller than it should have been – by positing, before a class, that Christianity is the source of everything that’s wrong in the Western world. I doubt he’s acquainted with the writings and labors of St. Anselm, or the profound Christianity of the eighteenth and nineteenth-century abolitionists who labored mightily to extinguish the horror of slavery from the world.


Unknown said...

Does anyone remember Cahill's "How the Irish Saved Civilization" ?
I was thinking there was some mention of that nasty Christianity, in that book, as well as some of his others. But Thomas was just a historian, so what would he know? Me neither...
I'm sorry, the liberal anti-Christian tidal wave and its ponderous advance, like the machines in "Terminator" just wear me out. Sometimes I even hear the music... bom-bom, I find mucho solace in blogs like Frank's and others of like motivation.

Weetabix said...

I was rather thinking that the most common answer would be, "What's an antonym?"

Francis W. Porretto said...

(chuckle) A good point, Weet.

Unknown said...

You're talking about the same educational system that would have us believe that we are the only nation enlightened enough to slaughter a half-million of ourselves to end slavery, is that right? The same educational system that overlooks the master/slave relationship of the national government to the erstwhile citizens?

Sorry, I'm a bit sick of the Marxists using Christian sensibility to cover for its bloody-mindedness until it's time to stab us in the back for being unwittingly useful idiots.