October 27, 2009
In a letter to one of his sons, J.R. R. Tolkien, a convert to Catholicism, wrote, “hatred of Our Church is after all the only real foundation of the C[hurch] of E[ngland]—so deep laid that it remains when all the superstructure seems removed.” So deep laid is the hatred detected by Tolkien that it remains even after all shreds of Anglican belief have vanished, as shown by the atheist Richard Dawkins’ anti-Catholic tirade occasioned by the recent effort by the Roman Catholic Church to create a structure within Catholicism for Anglicans disaffected by their church’s increasing liberalism. Dawkins also reveals himself to be a very pedestrian leftist in his thinking, railing against the Catholic Church and the disaffected Anglicans for their “misogyny” and “homophobic bigotry.” It tells you all you need to know about contemporary Britain, the land of soccer hooliganism and public drunkenness, of Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Elton John, that Dawkins is considered its leading thinker.
UPDATE: I have heard from an Anglican reader, who objected to my use of the Tolkien quote in the context of Dawkins who, after all, is no longer an Anglican. Upon reflection, I think it is a fair point. I would also note my own high regard for many Anglicans, including C S Lewis and John Mason Neale, who translated into English several of my favorite hymns. Indeed, the structure for disaffected Anglicans that Dawkins is objecting to recognizes the value in the Anglican tradition, since it envisions a liturgy based on Anglican tradition. Still, I find it striking that so many of the new atheists are both English and palpably more hostile to Catholicism than to other religions. Something atavistic is at work there, and Dawkins’ anti-Catholic tirade which both damns Pope Benedict XVI (“Pope Ratzinger” to Dawkins) and praises the Archbishop of Canterbury is a prime example of it.
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