Roger Scruton: My tribal religion [CH-UK]

An eccentric priest, a single mother and French vineyards offered Roger Scruton ‘a glowing exit sign’ from the Church of England to Rome. So why did he never take it?


He gave the two reasons himself, as per the article.

He told me: “There are two reasons why I held back from joining the Catholic Church. One is that it requires a bigger leap of faith than I’ve been able to achieve. And the other is that, because I’m divorced, I couldn’t possibly get married a second time in the Catholic Church.

I be surprised if the two reasons aren’t interlinked. I think the business of not being able to be married a second time in the Catholic Church is a bigger stumbling block than he’s letting on. He is after all British, and therefore I suspect holding back on a public display of emotion.

But that’s just my opinion. The other point is that both of the people who most inspired him are no longer within his immediate circle.

When I was a Presbyterian, the person who most inspired me with his Christian faith was my old pastor (albeit Methodist trained). While he was there, I was quite content to stay within the Presbyterian Church.

But when he died, and I got married, both he and others in the parish, including his influential family, were no longer within my immediate ambit. And so the “Presbyterian appeal” waned.

Personal example and appeal can be very important. But when they move on, the appeal they had is no longer quite so extant.

Mr. Scruton nominated two people as very influential in his respect for the Catholic Church - Mgr Alfred Gilbey, Catholic chaplain in Cambridge when Scruton was an undergraduate, and Basia, an impoverished Polish student, single mother and devout Catholic, with whom Scruton had an intense but chaste relationship when he was actively supporting intellectual dissidents in Eastern Europe before the fall of communism.

Take them away, and leave the frustration of being unable to remarry in a Catholic Church, and their residual influence would decrease markedly.

He’s still much younger than Adler was when he was received into the Church.

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