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Europe and the Faith

Hilaire Belloc

Book Overview: 

The Catholic brings to history (when I say "history" in these pages I mean the history of Christendom) self-knowledge. As a man in the confessional accuses himself of what he knows to be true and what other people cannot judge, so a Catholic, talking of the united European civilization, when he blames it, blames it for motives and for acts which are his own. He himself could have done those things in person. He is not relatively right in his blame, he is absolutely right. As a man can testify to his own motive so can the Catholic testify to unjust, irrelevant, or ignorant conceptions of the European story; for he knows why and how it proceeded. Others, not Catholic, look upon the story of Europe externally as strangers. "They" have to deal with something which presents itself to them partially and disconnectedly, by its phenomena alone: "he" sees it all from its center in its essence, and together.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .nder bishops, and, what is more, it is evident that there was a central primacy at Rome as well as local primacies in various other great cities. But what is not so generally emphasized is the way in which Christian society appears to have looked at itself at that time.

The conception which the Catholic Church had of itself in the early third century can, perhaps, best be approached by pointing out that if we use the word "Christianity" we are unhistorical. "Christianity" is a term in the mouth and upon the pen of the post-Reformation writer; it connotes an opinion or a theory; a point of view; an idea. The Christians of the time of which I speak had no such conception. Upon the contrary, they were attached to its very antithesis. They were attached to the conception of a thing: of an organized body instituted for a definite end, disciplined in a definite way, and remarkable for the possession of definite and concrete doctrine. One can talk, in speaking of the firs. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is a good book. I generally agree with Belloc's idea, that the Roman Empire didn't fall, it was just transformed into the Roman Catholic Church, and that the Reformation was a bad thing--Belloc calls it a disaster. But the study of history and especially archaeology have progressed since 192...more

Very interesting viewpoint. Starts pretty good and then devolves into... I'm not sure what, but definitely more of a rant against the Bible's sufficiency, against capitalism and a defense of feudalism and the Renaissance as the height of human civilization. The Renaissance was pro-christian and t...more

I found Belloc to read much like his friend Chesterton, except more plain and easy in style which I really enjoyed. The wit of Chesterton without the pithy one-liners every other sentence. This particular work is certainly revisionist history of Europe, and for that alone it is commendable. Bello...more

Worth-reading -though imperfect- analysis of the end of unified Roman authority in the West. The Mediterranean Civilisation mutated by the influence of the Church, and established the European Civilisation of the Middle Ages. At the end, this Catholic Civilisation suffered "a shipwreck" by the Re...more

Under the umbrella theme of Europe and the Faith, here a few main streams of thought.

One of them is the historicity of early Christianity and its connection to Roman Catholicism and I
enjoyed Belloc asking the then contemporary early 20th century reader, to take into consideration certain 19th cen...more

Original take on the Roman fundament of Western culture.

Belloc was a British Catholic writer of French descent. For most of his life he defended the Catholic Church against any wrongdoings or any wrong core assumptions. To Belloc, Catholicism is Western culture – and nothing but Catholicism is We...more

ENGLISH: A good historic support to the assertion that the Catholic Church is the soul of the Western Civilization. However, Belloc's position should be slightly corrected taking into account the work of Christopher Dawson, who I think understood a little better the situation. Anyway, this book p...more

The bad parts are laughable, but the good parts (which make up the majority of the book) are glorious.

Excellent analysis of how the Catholic faith transformed the Roman Empire into the Christendom of the Middle Ages. Many modern historians frame this as a "fall" of the Empire and something new rising to take its place, but Belloc makes a good case for seeing this rather as a gradual transition. H...more

I was drawn to Hilaire Belloc because of his being such an influence on GK Chesterton whose writings I have discovered and love. With this book, Belloc gives a concise history of Christendom in Europe, how it influenced civilization in Europe for good, brought Europe through the decay of the Rom...more

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