The Spiritual History of English
Kindle Edition. (2009-12-01).
"The question is how any standards or authority external to the individual can be upheld when a philosophy and a practice prevails that makes the sole source of those standards or authority the individual conscience. This is also the problem of the role of individual conscience and external authority in religion, the problem of justification by grace or works, the question of transubstantiation and the nature of the sacraments. It is a problem of theology but also the problem of the institutional survival, and therefore the survival at all, of religion. This is the problem that has faced religion and hence culture since its institutional triumph at the Reformation, since the beginning of the emergence of modernity. In religion it determines the nature of ecclesiastical organization and social and moral teaching. In culture it is the similar question of the authority of the tradition, or the historic community, over the individual personality, where respect for tradition includes respect for accumulated wisdom. This book traces this relationship through the earlier period, when a literature was sustained by a collective faith that was orthodox or continuous with the historic faith. That was, in other words, external to the individual." (pp. 32-33).
The author is an English Catholic poet, but for the life of me, having lived in Trinidad for six and a half years, I am puzzled by the authority he attributes to V.S. Naipaul. Be that as it may, Thornton-Norris does bring home a very important point for the survival of culture about the death-dealing nature of protestant liberalism.
I won't recommend the book, but in the light of the continued and renewed dangers for western civilization which manifest themselves with greater clarity and force each day, I will raise a cry for the urgency of a rediscovery of Catholicism as the basis of culture, for a renewed and vibrant practice of the faith freely embraced by a world too long deprived of real and lasting joy.