Page 3, 22nd August 1958

22nd August 1958
Page 3
Page 3, 22nd August 1958 — A SUPERFICIAL VIEW OF AMERICA
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A SUPERFICIAL VIEW OF AMERICA

g

w • j • IGOE STATES OF THE UNION, by Geoffrey Dutton (Chapman and Hall, 21s.).

MR. DUTTON, an Australian journalist, made a journey through the United States by car and has written a book. Inevitably it is superficial and, while the writer strives to be courteous, inevitably he is gauche.

One feels, for example, that he Saw Boston only through the driving mirror of his car; and one knows that chatting with wayfarers at pull-ups and interrogating chance acquaintances about America and Europe can produce misleading opinions. By far the best hooks on America written by a contemporary are Professor Brogan's, and he has been studying, in love and anger, the Union for more than 30 years. Ills essay in the autumn issue of the "Yale Review" is a brilliant statement of the present condition, as seen by a European; while a talk given in Boston and reprinted in " The Catholic Mind an invaluable publication, by Fr. Thurston Davis, Si.. is wonderfully wise and informative. Mr. Cyril Connolly put it in a nutshell about 10 years ago, in " Horizon ". when he said America is dangerously embarrassed by world power.

Isolated

GOD knows, Europe has the More difficult task; it is in the front line. But America is isolated in fact, if not in aspirations, and in this, to a European, almost science fiction world of technological advancement, and Edwardian capitalist morality, one would be a fool not to plead patience on both sides. AsFr. Davis implied, Catholics have a duty to work modestly, sacrificing self. In American newspapers, one has read silly harangues about French folly in Algeria, and. realising the foll■. still has been irritated by the moralising. But in that charming custodian of democratic liberties, -The People ", I recently found my favourite honest gas-bag Mr. Gil bert ilbert Harding sneering at America because New Yorkers listen to church services at seven in the morning and a professor lectures, at the same hour, on literature. Alas, for Mr. Harding; my Scotch granny, who thought anyone who went to Mass after seven in the danger of morning was in lapsing from the Church, would have boxed his ears for him. And as to the professor, they were good lectures, recognised by a great University, and helping students to understand good books from all the world; and still get

to work on weekdays and chureh on Sundays.

The tone of Mr. Harding's article was less than helpful; one expects such twaddle from. say, Mr. John Gordon, but Mr. Harding, in the past, at his silliest, was always a gentleman. His comments on " Mom and Jewnior " were quite squalid. After a year here, I have not heard one little boy called even Junior.

Poisoned

RELATIONS between the two ' peoples are poisoned by such nonsense. I read " The People" myself because my friend Duncan Webb writes in it; but millions of

lame-brains may descend from to that great reporter Mr. Harding.

Heaven preserve them from accepting his opinions on the U.S. Mr. Dutton writes courteously; but his book is slap-happily on the surface. I wish he had talked to some of the admirable men who are in our consular service; he have h might hesitated to compare America with Russia, a country he knows even less well. I doubt very much. for example. if the linty Father has been in the happy position of writing to a Russian bishop in recent years. blessing him and his people for an excessof vocations in his diocese, as he has written to Archbishop Cushing. Boston supplies priests to all parts, where, among their other tasks they lead people in prayers for Russia and the Faithful there. The fact, one suggests, is significant. Mr. Dutton writes nicely, means well. hut when the wells are stirred it is better to let them settle than to roll.up one's trousers, blindly wadein and stir up, with the best will, more mud.




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