Wednesday, 2 September 2015

February 24, 303 Revisited IV

Although Robin Lane Fox, who I do honor as a scholar and top gardener, has a different view, and I have yet to read the book, Constantine, by David Potter, I go with another scholar in this series on Diocletian and the persecution. Anxiety and stress, one terrorist attack of any medium size and a financial downturn could set off persecution.

The Irish classical scholar, E. R. Dodds wrote 'Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety'. Among many points he makes is one which should seem realistic to Catholics today. An agnostic, this scholar notes that in the unsettled economic times of the late 240s, the Church had grown and was beginning to be accepted in some circles as a force in society. But, alongside of that fact was the hardening of ideas, which in Dodd's opinion had been more fluid among the pagan and Christian intellectuals, of the doctrines and intellectuals in the Church. In other words, the pagan intellectuals were turning more and more against the Catholic intellectuals.

For example, Porphyry wrote Against the Christians in 270. Dodd notes in his book that the growing wealth and confidence of the Christians, as well as there many scholars upset the status quo of the pagan elite and the pagan intellectuals.

Does this sound familiar in the fact that so many of our universities in the West are increasingly anti-Catholic, atheistic and on the defensive against religion?

That the establishment of intellectuals would then find support and give support to the political powers seems a natural alliance against Catholicism.

And, Dodds quotes ancient authors in the fact that Catholics were not only "upstarts", a new religion, but "multicultural", that is "an immigrant religion", if I may use that phrase. These words would upset people today, obviously. How "un-Roman" could a religion which included converted barbarians be?

That the intellectual snobbery and atheistic sophisticated pagans of the ancient world mirror our own is a comparison which is rather obvious. Ergo, the stage is further set for persecution, as the intelligentsia spurs on the state to eliminate the "undesirables" which threaten the so-called common good.

Dodd himself writes that Christianity was seen as "divisive". And, the Catholic Church IS divisive, now more than ever. The fact that the Christian God is Incarnated and not merely a spirit is also a problem, but that may be discussed later.

The stage is almost completely set up for persecution. The laws are in place, popular sentiment is growing against Catholics, and the common good will be an excuses for "unity".

The next things to be put into place are already in place in America-the militarization of the police and the use of drones as well as the entire lack of privacy. But, how do the Catholics become singled out, rather than, for example, the Tea Party members, or Evangelical pro-lifers? And, how do the Catholics react as persecution starts in earnest, causing a smaller and smaller remnant?

To be continued tomorrow.

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