Mandeville, LA – [Editor’s note: Maureen Malarkey feted Hillaire Belloc’s master-work on The Great Heresies, 80 years on, by essaying that Belloc was right and unless we turn back to The Faith, Islam will crush a secular Europe. – Ed., M.C.] Belloc understood what modernity blithely ignores: cultures spring from religions. Religion is a vital sustaining force. Its disintegration entails the historic decay of the culture that carries it. Belloc saw that most clearly in the decomposition of Christianity. And he warned of the implications of that breakdown: “There is no reason whatever why it [Islam] should not learn its new lesson and become our equal in all those temporal things which now alone give us our superiority over it—whereas in Faith we have fallen inferior to it.”
Eighty years on, faith in the spiritual ends of our civilization has fallen further. Douglas Murray, in “The Strange Death of Europe,” echoes Belloc when he writes that Western liberal societies owe more than they care to admit to the religion from which they arose. Contemporary talk of “European values” is a dead end without reference to the Judeo-Christian heritage from which Western values arose, and which guaranteed their survival. Murray is blunt: “Europe has lost its foundational story.” He continues:
For centuries in Europe one of the great—if not the greatest source of [cultural] energy came from the spirit of the continent’s religion. It drove people to war and stirred them to defense. It also drove Europe to the greatest heights of human creativity.
In the vacuum of belief, Islam ascends—as Belloc envisioned it would.
“Religion is the key of history,” said Lord Acton. It is the key of our future as well. But it is uncertain which civilization holds the key. A secular West is caught in an impasse, its own freedoms and God-given rights deadlocked in the wreckage of beliefs it has discarded. – Maureen Malarkey