Friday, May 14, 2010

Review: The Essential Belloc

Imagine a world where the "revolutionaries" of our age looked to Hillaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton rather than the likes of Karl Marx and Saul Alinsky. I believe the Church - along with its literary giants of our "modern age" are the antidote for correcting the mistakes of this generation. This book is a wonderful primer on a relatively unknown figure in secular circles - one you should consider giving to your prolateriat-loving Marxist friends or the greedy capitalist pigs in your life.

St. Benedict Press recently released this new title of classic wisdom from Hillaire Belloc compiled and edited by the Rev. C. John McCloskey, Scott J. Bloch, and Brian Robertson. The book contains all kinds of short readings which make it the type you can pick up at any time.

The inside font and layout will be familiar to TAN fans. There is something comforting about that. In fact it seems SBP and TAN are sticking with this classic setting, as the other books they sent me look the same inside.

The world needs more Belloc and Chesterton these days and "The Essential Belloc" is a nice reference book to keep around for those times when you need a quick and thoughtful quote on almost any given subject. For instance, with Anglicans now rafting the Tiber we can look to Belloc and see...

Catherine had died before her [Anne Boleyn]. Henry's marriage with Jane Seymour , which took place immediately after Anne's death, was therefore, quite legitimate in the eyes of the Church, and quite probably there would have been a reconciliation with Rome had it not been for Thomas Cromwell's having already launched the policy of confiscating church property, beginning with the monasteries, a policy which created a vested interest of great power against reunion.

Interesting no? I never thought of that, frankly. This book would make a great starting point in discussion groups or adult formation classes. We could probably talk for an hour on just the above quotation alone. Would the English people have gone along with reunion (I say they would have.)

The book strings together topics from across the spectrum of his writing. Just below the quote above, but on the same page, we can get a perspective on how Henry VIII and the Reformation impacted our own economic situation.

"The at the root of the whole change from economic freedom to capitalism."

Notice the "CTR" and "CC" at the end of the quotation. Each entry has a reference which tells you where it came from. At the end of the book there is an acronym index. "CTR" stands for "Characters of the Reformation" and "CC" for "Crisis of Civilization" respectively - both of which you can purchase from TAN Books.

I think Belloc's distrust of the Socialist and Communist systems will sit comfortably with most conservatives. But many will probably (like myself when I first heard of him) be a little uncomfortable with his chastisement of capitalism. Our country is intellectually enslaved to left-versus-right debates that allow no outside arguments and thus we are programmed to see only Red and Blue.

Maybe there is something better? Perhaps Belloc can open a door for us.

Link: The Essential Belloc - St. Benedict Press


Mike said...

Thanks for that wonderful review and link! :-)

Adeodatus49 said...

Belloc was a prominent controversialist of his day. If you think he was a "hard charger" in regard to the material from him that you have posted, then read his biography of Archbishop Thomas Cramner. Today it would be called a "hatchet job" EXCEPT that what Belloc wrote was basically right on the mark IMHO.

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton