Page 8, 29th October 1937

29th October 1937
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Page 8, 29th October 1937 — THE LEADE SHIP OF YOUTH
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THE LEADE SHIP OF YOUTH

"Colosseum, `Arena" And Integration'

Insistence That Christianity Is Revolutionary

By The Editor

FATHER FRANCIS WOODLOCK says that there has never been more hatred of Catholicism among the British working-classes than today, It is also true that never has there been a greater ignorance about what Christianity involves—and the ignorance unfortunately extends to Catholics. The phrase " Christianity is the most revolutionary teaching in the modern world " provokes derision among most non-Catholics and scandal among most Catholics. " Intellectuals" may satisfy themselves about the truth of this phrase by reading and studying carefully the three quarterly reviews which the younger Catholic generation in this country produces (one can scarcely say " supports"), Colosseum, Arena and Integration. How the same truth is to be conveyed to non-intellectuals is quite another problem, and, at the moment, apparently, an unanswerable one.

COLOSSEUM The existence of these three reviews is a fact at least as significant for Catholic England and, let us hope, for England itself as any event of the week, so we may conscientiously devote this space to them. The oldest is Colosseum, founded and edited by Bernard Wall. It is now in its fourth year, and, we believe, a self-supporting venture. It is essentially an international review, bringing to English Catholics the best and most uctual thought from the Continent. Thus in the current number half the

articles are by non-British writers. At the same time each number is subtly built up around an idea, and each number forms part of a process of continuous thinking, fundamentally consistent yet, because vigorously stimulated by contemporary events, extremely flexible and sometimes

even apparently contradictory. It is the expression of a young and vigorous mentality, rooted in the great heritage of the Catholic past, fairly certain of itself in distinguishing between the abstract good and the abstract bad in contemporary civilisation, but puzzled and inconsistent in its search for the best points at which the Christian heritage can exert its explosive force. Thus in the present number the editorial is severely taken to task by Dr. Waldemar Gurian for opposing the " sectarian mentality " of the Left with " a sectarianism of the Right." Colosseum might retort that Dr. Gurian has no solution to offer but a return to the catacombs, and any such escape or retreat is profoundly antipathetic Colosseum's •constructive, fighting mentality and its insistence on reordering the cultural and social values which have been uprooted and thrown about rather than destroyed. Even so, it remains true that Colosseum is apt to be uncritical in its championing of anything that shows signs of breaking with bourgeois liberalism and re-erecting a new cultural or political order in its place. War and militarism, for example, which it once hated so much for the usual reasons, it now approves of with some enthusiasm, because the sole means of clearing the ground for the new order; patriotism, once despised as a bourgeois virtue for maintaining discipline and the status quo, has now become glorious, because of Italy's renaissance and Spain's crusade.

ARENA Arena, which is in its first year of publication, gave the impression of being a " minority " edition of Colosseum. Its format was almost identical, its name, whether by accident or not, similar in meaning, and some of its contributors were old Colosseum contributors. Its editors arc not disclosed, but the outsider may note that one of the chief contributors to earlier Colosseums now writes considerable portions of Arena. Much the same outlook as that of Colossewn was expressed in a slightly different way. Arena seemed more English, more academic, and rather more concerned with literature and art than with current political and cultural affairs.

The present issue, however, makes a new departure that is reminiscent of the French Catholic review, Esprit. The whole number is consciously and obviously devoted to the study of Marxism, and we are promised another nurnber on the Catholic social outlook. Areria, we venture to suggest, will stand or fall by that coming number, for, so far, its positive Catholic contribution adds little to that of the ordinary Catholic Press and nothing to Colosseum. Its criticism, on the other hand (and all good criticism implies a thought-out, though not always an expressible or practical, positive outlook) is extremely strong, and in D. J. B. Hawkins, D. A. Traversi and Martin Turnell it has at its command the services of philosophical and literary critics who are up to the very best standards of the day. All three contribute to the present nurtiber, yet somehow as one reads through this painstaking work, one feels that the writers have little sense of actuality, of what really matters, The editorial expresses but rather abstractly, the secret of Marxism's strength, but when we look to the body of the review for a working out of those ideas, we look in vain. One article tells us that there is nothing much to Marxist philosophy; another explodes for the hundredth time the Labour Theory of Value and ends with the reminder that Marxist strength lies not in economics, but in its power to create political ideologies or myths; a third deals, rather more, humanly and usefully. with the Marxist conception of history, but again fails to account for its practical power.

And so, we finish our reading with a sense of having gone to school again for no very helpful purpose, and of having been carried to even greater intelligentsia heights than Colosseum attempts, whereas the immediate immense need of Catholics in this country is an application of this theory to practice and the framing of the whole into " an ideology or myth " that will carry conviction—only in this case it will not be a myth. In Colosseum one can discern the beginnings of an attempt to tackle this task.

INTEGRATION The youngest of the three reviews is integration, described as a "Students' Catholic Review " and edited in Cambridge.

In some ways the first two numbers of Integration fill the gap left by Colosseum and Arena. Though it makes no attempt to cover the wide field of the others and though its ambitions are in every way more modest, it is ruthlessly positive and constructive, and under the banner of its brave namry it seeks, as Fr. Martindale puts it, " to integrate Catholic principles with information about things both ancient and actual."

The secret of the success of the first numbers lies perhaps in the fact that the review represents the student rather than the man of the world or thinker mentality. The student mind may have the defects of inexperience, but it is self-confident, optimistic, uncompromising and, above all, only able tb bother about what really interests and appeals to it. The reader will not fail to notice that these are in fact the characteristics of that essentially youth or student movement, in terms of world experience, Communism.' Hence in Integration we come nearest to the presentation of a positive, acceptable and stimulating alternative to the Communist ideology.

Nor must this spirited outlook of Integration be confused with any mere schoolboy indiscretion. The student mind does not necessarily mean, we are told, the " formal sense of members of schools or universities, but the general sense of those who are still undergoing the process of intellectual formation," of those who " are in contact with influences that would form us in a contrary direct ion." CHRISTIAN INDIGNATION The reader may obtain some sort of idea of the kind of outlook for which Integration stands from the following roughly-chosen quotations: " Those who realise the issues at stake and yet hail the modern world as an opportnnity for exercising the Christian virtues arid for an economy of salvation, forget that such an attitude is one of acceptance, and must, the world being what it is, prevent a fully Christian life. At its extreme stage of corruption the sytit Pitt of the Roman Empire was rejected by the early Christians and others, as being stultifying and immoral. It is difficult to tiC.l how a Catholic can look upon a universal degradation and purposelessness and reconcile Ihrsa things with the vitality and imperativeness of the elementary Christian trittlis,"—(P.B. No. 1 P. 8.) It is not possible to give any idea from quotation of F. G. Searle's really brilliant article " Education for Function," in which

the author takes one aspect of our civilisation, analyses its fallacies first in terms of

its own ideals and then in terms of a Christian ideal, and thus gradually unfolds the nature of this last ideal as it grows from the consideration of a true education: " Our schools, whether public, secondary or elementary, are modelled closely on those of the world. as though there were no d tillrii011 Of the ends for which they must educate, and as though the oul.y dirk-n:11m between the proper education of a Christian and that of a wage slave was a few hours' religious instroc.tion a week, the rest of the curriculum being exactly similar. • „ must riot thinkthat because our workers are well paid and go to Mass, and because we remove immorality from the factory, that we have Christianised the machine. We have not."

This particular article should be read by every body. Lastly in a violent criticism of a recent Catholic book on marriage, A. A. Parker

writes:

" It is difficult to restrain one's indignation. This is the sort of thing we Catholic laymen are offered as instruction to prepare ourselves to receive a sacrament! That is a monstrous theology in which sacraments servo only to further the social scheme. How gloriously comforting it is after this to read in Cacti Curinubii : ' fine f a nail/ is more sacred than the state, and men are begotten not for the earth and for time, but for heaven and eternity.' Mr. Wayne's humanist theology appears to be, in this one aspect, nut far removed from communism."

CATHOLIC EXTREMISM ?

One is not suggesting that the views of Integration are always sound, still less that there is no alternative view. It has already been accused of " Catholic Extremism "— an accusation which, if true, would mean that it is denying its title which stands for the attempt to see how " the Church and Society can be integrated as one whole, the one deriving its organisation from the principles enunciated by the other." The fact remains that as one reads, one feels one's blood being stirred and one's spirit moved. Here is something that strikes one's whole being as worth offering as a real, practical alternative to the Communist gospel. Perhaps it is because it is the real Gospel, the most revolutionary writing the world has ever read.

There may and probably must be inconsistencies, impracticabilities, errors, theological and philosophical. But are such absent from that Communist gospel which has won the hearts of so many? If the spirit can be stirred on to the road of truth as it has been stirred on to the road of error, a great deal may he forgiven. For that is what we need. The truth lies in the Gospel, in the dogmas of Christianity, in the Encyclicals of the Pope. Somehow this truth has got to be given the shape and the motive power which will make it interest and appeal. One absolutely necessary condition of its achieving this is that it shall be made ruthless and uncompromising, that

(Continued in next column.)




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