The Great Divorce: The Evil Fruits of Henry VIII’s Adultery

CA article by Christopher Check

Read the first half of the thread title. Thought it was about the C.S. Lewis book. Disappointed.

It may be that Mr Check’s understanding of world history is a little simplistic.

Indeed, because England was destined for “a unique good fortune in the leadership of the world it is through its effect in England that the Reformation survives today as a world force,” (Philip Hughes, A Popular History of the Reformation, 161) and the worst manifestations of it, from Christendom’s first state-sanctioned regicide, to the ugliness of industrialization, to the treatment of indigenous peoples, including American Indians, are this so-called Reformation’s darker legacy. With the exception of literature, English intellectual life declined, and even within English literature, it is the Catholics—Shakespeare, Dryden, Chesterton—who shine. English philosophers are more political theorists, and their ideas sparked the errors of the Enlightenment. The suppression of the Church in England was the dress rehearsal for the French Revolution, the Italian Risorgimento, the Mexican Revolution, and the Spanish Civil War. Henry VIII’s divorce is the reason America is a Protestant country.

I admire the way he sweeps aside Milton and Wordsworth and Keats and Austen and Dickens and the rest of the unshining in English literature, and notes the decline of English intellectual life to the level of the giants of the 17th century like Newton and on through the Enlightenment to the genius of Darwin. But I particularly like the idea that it was Protestantism that was the cause of the suppression of indigenous peoples: that must sound good in South America.

Just a tad, lol. The already convinced will eat it up though. Perfect for his intended audience.

Goodness, I don’t know what to make of this. Perhaps the author could leave history to the historians.

He’s not doing history, he’s doing apologetics.


There’s another problem with the article. Christopher Check categorises C.S. Lewis as “an anti-Catholic Anglican”. It’s true that Lewis chose to become Anglican rather than Catholic, but I would still hardly characterise him as anti-Catholic. After all, his close friend JRR Tolkien was Catholic.

Also seems to brush Queen Mary’s may murders under the rug. So “maligned” by Protestants that called her “Bloody Mary”, lol.

I don’t like to categorise them as murders, myself. Very nasty, very, very painful they were, and for some reason I find the burning of lowly folk even worse than the burning of those higher up the tree. But I don’t know that it was in any way unlawful.

For the history part, I’d add Scarisbrick’s HENRY VIII, to the 2 Bellocs listed (let it be recalled that I have collected Belloc for 50 years). Scarisbrick, who is RC, is very useful on the impediment/dispensation issue, where Mr. Check stumbles a little.

Alas, tis true. No more was the beheading of the higher ups, by everyone in sight, if the occasions arose.

Fair enough.

Lewis was baptized Anglican as an infant. When he embraced Christianity as an adult, he ‘came home’. Was he anti-Catholic? Where would one get that idea? There are many who say Lewis accepted Catholicism close to his death, but there is no indication for that whatsoever. His close friends were indeed Roman Catholic, but he lived and died as an Anglican.

Lewis was anti-Catholic in the sense he could not accept all the requisite doctrine/dogmas required to be one. His principled objections are most clearly stated in a letter he wrote 8 May 1945 (which may be read in THE COLLECTED LETTERS OF C.S. LEWIS, vol II, ed. Hooper, pp. 645-646.

One might get a more forceful view of the idea he was anti-Catholic from reading some of Tolkien’s comments, as discussed (inter alia) in the 3 basic books on Lewis and the RCC: Pearce’s, Derrick’s and Wills’

That are are a few folk who think that Lewis might have converted, near death, or, given a few more years might have done so, it is true. I find such around here often. But while Lewis moved to,ward the Anglo-Catholic side of the Anglican spectrum, he remained an Anglican, as you say.

Interesting. I’ve read much of Lewis’ books and writings, and he seldom mentioned Catholicism at all. It seems that he tried to remain ecumenical in his writings so that he could reach as wide an audience as possible, so the existence of the letter you alluded to is interesting.

I am not sure what the content of Tolkien’s comments are, but just because one does not accept all the tenets of Catholicism does not necessarily make them anti-Catholic. At the very least, Lewis was not outspoken about the anti-Catholic views he may have had outside of his private letters (at least, not that I know of). I know he had some views that came surprisingly close to Catholic teaching, particularly on the subject of purgatory.

So especially compared to some other Protestant (particularly Calvinist) writers, I certainly would not classify Lewis as “anti-Catholic” as Check does in this article. It would have been nice if Check had expanded upon his choice of adjective. It seems the topic of Lewis’ potential anti-Catholicism is more nuanced than what the article presents.

Don’t forget William Blake. And are we SURE Shakespeare was a Catholic?

I just watched Wolf Hall - :eek: - now that is anti-Catholic. Great miniseries though all the same - Cromwell was a snake for the record. What a number that show did on Thomas More (and Anne Boleyn). Cromwell ordered the executions of Catholic clergy and shut down the monasteries and took their wealth for the Crown. He was not some winsome little introvert with a chip on his shoulder. (Though I believe More probably likewise oversaw some pretty nasty Protestant executions.)

I personally have never been convinced that the best answer to eyes rolled in the head foam at the mouth anti-Catholicism is to out eyes rolled in the head foam at the mouth anti-Protestant them. It is unseemly, unChristian and everything gets to the point where you can’t tell the pot from the kettle, pretty fast too, I might add. I wish I could just say it’s the converts who do it, but no, the “natives” in the Church can be just as bad. It is simply not motivated by love, charity or truth far too often (though this is of course ALWAYS the purpose as stated for the record). :frowning: Stains the faith. And, no I am not defending Henry VIII. I think he was a monster.

Chesterton was an interesting writer and thinker, but to put him in the same league as Shakespeare and Dryden is criminal.

Amen! The anti-Catholicism of Wolf Hall was just embarrassing, and such a shame given how well it captured the terrifying volatility of Henry’s personal power.

To put Dryden or Chesterton anywhere near Shakespeare is criminal. :slight_smile:

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