Charles Dodgson’s current TOO article is a particularly well-articulated comment on Christianity as a vehicle for ethnic interests. Dodgson is certainly not blind to the failings of contemporary Christianity:
In the face of diversity’s many sins, not one major Christian denomination stands with the majority of Westerners in opposing mass Third World immigration. Nor do they defend voluntary reciprocal segregation in multi-ethnic societies or criticize the elites that are forcing diversity on an unwilling but leaderless public.
Dodgson provides an excellent point about “the truth of Christian universalism. … Just as the Church protects parental rights and the autonomy and dignity of families, so it should defend national rights. It would be wrong for Chinese bishops to promote mass foreign immigration to China, or for Japanese monks to undermine Japanese homogeneity. ”
But his main point is that we have to think historically. And in that regard, there is no question that the Christianity has had a vital role in the development of the West. Here Dodgson goes into a great many positive aspects of the Christian legacy of which the following is only a partial listing:
Not for nothing was the West known as Christendom. The Church acted to save bodies and posterity as well as souls. It blessed new knights in the ceremony of knighthood, sanctified the new code of chivalry that forbade harming civilians and enacted the first codified rules of war. War was justified when it advanced Christendom — an ethnic-friendly legitimization that reduced or at least regulated fighting among Christians and culminated in the Crusaders’ attempt to wrest Near Eastern lands of the Eastern Roman Empire back from the Arabs. The Church defended the ordinary man from a parasitic aristocracy. It helped forge nations with responsible governments. It protected the mass of the people from enemies without and within. The English Church promoted the expulsion of Jews — who had become a predatory financial elite — from the country in 1290 as a pastoral duty, also a trend elsewhere in Western Europe. Throughout Europe the Church was Gentiles’ repository of sophisticated culture, of literacy and record keeping. It was indispensible for governance, advising kings and educating princes. It prevented the Jews from monopolizing the niche of trans-generational literary group strategy. It underwrote the earliest stirrings of modern science. The university, one of the greatest creations of the West, was founded under the Church’s auspices. Professors were priests of learning. Gregor Mendel was an ethnic German monk!
Some of this touches on themes of anti-Semitism in Ch. 4 of Separation and Its Discontents:
The Church was at the apogee of its power over secular affairs during the 13th century, and an important aspect of the economic policy of the Church was to remove Jews from the economic life of Christendom. “It was not sheer accident” (Cohen 1982, 41) that both the Dominicans and the Franciscans developed a Christian theology of commerce and trade or that St. Francis was often described as the patron saint of merchants. Jordan (1989, 27) describes the efforts of the Church to remove Jews from the economic life of France in the 12th through the 14th centuries as an aspect of its program to develop a corporate Christian economic community by pushing Jews out of occupations and professions they formerly engaged in. Similarly, in England the Christianization of national life excluded Jews from public administration, trade, and agriculture (Rabinowitz 1938, 37). This suggests that the rise of gentile middle classes in Western Europe was facilitated by the exclusion of Jews by the medieval Church as an exclusionary, collectivist entity (see also PTSDA, Ch. 8). Houston Stewart Chamberlain apparently held a similar view. When asked to propose a Jewish policy for Romania, Chamberlain noted that the exclusion of Jews from England from 1290 to 1657 had, according to Field’s (1981, 222n) paraphrase, “enabled a strong, vigorous British race to grow and sustain itself.”
King Louis IX of France (Saint Louis), who lived like a monk though one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Europe, was a particularly zealous warrior in carrying out the Church’s economic and political programs. Louis attempted to develop a corporate, hegemonic Christian entity in which social divisions within the Christian population were minimized in the interests of group harmony. Consistent with this group-oriented perspective, Louis appears to have been genuinely concerned about the effect of Jewish moneylending on society as a whole, rather than its possible benefit to the crown—a major departure from the many ruling elites throughout history who have utilized Jews as a means of extracting resources from their subjects. [In order to finance his first crusade Louis ordered the expulsion of all Jews engaged in usury and the confiscation of their property.]
The important point that expulsion of the Jews allowed for the formation of a native middle class is elaborated in the section “Is Ethnic Conflict Rational? Historical Data” in this article which also comments on the predatory lending practices of Jews during the Middle Ages:
Loans made at interest rates common in the Middle Ages (oftentimes 33%–65%) are simply exploitative, and there is little wonder that they caused hatred on the part of ruined debtors and deep concern on the part of the Church. Moneylending under these circumstances did indeed benefit moneylenders and their aristocratic backers, but, as with loan-sharking today, it simply resulted in destitution for the vast majority of the customers—especially the poorer classes—rather than economic growth for the society as a whole. Loans were made to the desperate, the unintelligent, and the profligate rather to people with good economic prospects who would invest their money to create economic growth; they were made [citing Parkes] “not to the prosperous farmer…but the farmer who could not make ends meet; not the successful squire, but the waster; the peasant, not when his crops were good, but when they failed; the artisan, not when he sold his wares, but when he could not find a market. Not unnaturally, a century of such a system was more than any community could stand, and the story of Jewish usury is a continuous alternation of invitation, protection, protestation and condemnation.”
This is important, and we shouldn’t forget it. Hence the cover photo of my book Cultural Insurrections: Notre Dame, which was being built during the reign of Saint Louis.