The first Assorted Reflections can be found here.
More Assorted Reflections can be found here.
- The key to understanding what is fraudulently marketed under the label “philosophy” today is Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale about the emperor’s new clothes. In the story, a vain and foppish emperor is hoodwinked by a couple of mountebanks who sell him a line about how they can weave for him the finest set of clothes ever made with the magical property of being invisible to stupid and incompetent people unfit for their station. The “clothes”, of course, are nothing but thin air, but everyone from the emperor down puts on a show of admiring them, because they don’t want to admit they can’t see them. Eventually, the truth that everyone knows but is afraid to say, is blurted out by a child – the emperor is walking around naked. The same scam is pulled all the time in the academic world. An academic con artist, by speaking almost entirely in lengthy neologisms of his own coinage, expressed in a tone of self-assured authority with, perhaps, a tinge of false humility, can persuade thousands of people who have not the foggiest clue what he is talking about to praise him as the greatest mind since Plato, even though he has said absolutely nothing at all.
- That freedom is a good, something to be desired, sought after, and cherished, few would disagree with. In this sense it is accurate to say that we are all liberals now and this is using liberal in its best sense. The questions that remain are a) what kind of good is freedom and b) what kind of freedom is good. The first question hinges on the ancient distinction between a good that is to be desired for the sake of another good and a good that is to be desired for its own sake. The older, pre-modern, tradition answered this question by saying that freedom is the former kind of good. It is desirable because it serves another, greater, good, which in this case, was identified by the Christian tradition as moral goodness itself. Modern liberalism, by contrast, has increasingly come to see freedom as a good to be desired for its own sake, and indeed, to identify it as the highest good. Paradoxically, however, the more dedicated liberalism becomes to this view of freedom, the more it has proposed restrictions and limitations on long-established, traditional political and economic freedoms. Which brings us to the second question, for there are different kinds of freedom and they are not all compatible with each other. Aldous Huxley in his novel, Brave New World, depicted a society that had given up political, economic, and to a large extent intellectual, freedom but which maximized the freedom to pursue pleasure through sex and drugs. This is the choice between freedoms that he believed Western societies were faced with. While this is partially right, the deeper truth is that the freedom that contemporary liberalism has dedicated itself to is the freedom of self-definition and there is no amount of traditional political, economic, and intellectual freedom that the liberal is not willing to sacrifice for this, his highest good. King Charles I, on the scaffold, said that the “Liberty and Freedom” of the people” consists in having of Government; those Laws, by which their Life and their goods may be most their own” and I, for one, prefer this old-fashioned kind of freedom to the new-fangled one.
- True conservatism is a commitment to traditions and institutions that have proven themselves over time, and the highest form of political conservatism, Toryism, is a commitment to the hereditary, royal, monarchy and the institutional Christian church. Classical liberalism and other, more radical, forms of progressive thought, by contrast, are ideological, i.e., attempts to derive a formulaic solution for world improvement from abstract reasoning. The Tory, while skeptical towards grand schemes of world improvement and fundamentally opposed to the progressive attitude that institutions which have been tested and honoured by time should be swept away if they get in the way of progressive experimentation, judges progressive ideas on their own merits on a case by case basis.
- One idea of classical liberalism that has proven itself and thus, at least in the English-speaking world, passed into the realm of time-tested traditions and institutions, is freedom of speech. Indeed, today freedom of speech has become an institution that is itself constantly besieged from the left whenever it stands in the way of the agenda of social justice. In Black Mischief, Evelyn Waugh’s rascally anti-hero Basil Seal, hired by Emperor Seth to help modernize his island, African, nation of Azania, tells the Emperor that this would have been a much more difficult task in an earlier day when it would have meant “constitutional monarchy, bicameral legislature, proportional representation, women’s suffrage, independent judicature, freedom of the press, referendums…” and when asked what these are answers “Just a few ideas that have ceased to be modern”, which describes exactly the fate that has befallen freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas.
- Leftists still pay lip service to freedom of speech, of course, but it seems to have undergone a strange mutation in their thinking. In classical liberalism, freedom of speech meant the freedom to state one’s thoughts, however unpopular they may be, to be evaluated and either accepted or rejected on their own merits, in the marketplace of ideas. The marketplace of ideas is the larger concept which involves both the freedom of the speaker and the freedom of the listener. Translated into practical, legal, terms this liberal ideal becomes a civil right protecting speaker and listener against censorship, which can in this context be defined as government interference intended to exclude an idea from the marketplace. Laws against incitement to violence, defamation, i.e., the deliberate spreading of falsehoods against another person in order to do him social and economic harm, and the oft-referenced laws against shouting “fire” in a crowded place, are not ordinarily thought to violate freedom of speech because they do not seek to exclude ideas from consideration but to protect people from real harm done by words used deliberately as weapons, although our Canadian courts have in some instances perverted defamation law into a form of censorship. Today, however, when leftists are in favour of “freedom of speech”, it always seems to mean the right of some radical activist group, not merely to hold a peaceful demonstration, but to interfere with other people’s freedom to assemble, to address audiences that wish to hear them, and to hear speakers they wish to hear, simply because these groups disapprove of the ideas to be shared. They insist that freedom of speech does not protect “hate speech”, not meaning the expression of literal, angry, violent, hatred, which seems to be the left’s favourite form of speech, but the expression of speech that is “racist”, “sexist”, “xenophobic”, “Islamophobic”, “anti-Semitic”, “homophobic”, “transphobic” and the like. If, however, they get their way, as they often have, and “racist”, “sexist”, etc. speech is forbidden, then the ideas they label with these terms are excluded from the marketplace and, denied access to those ideas, we are forced to take the word of the left’s anti-“hate” “experts”, such as the SPLC and ADL that these ideas are the things they say they are and deserve to be so excluded.
- In liberalism, freedom of thought, speech, and expression was always associated with secularism. The Church, especially when under the protection of the State, was regarded by the classical liberals as the enemy of these freedoms. The events of history do not support the liberal interpretation imposed upon them. Western universities, long regarded as the citadels of freedom of speech and the open market of ideas, usually began as theological colleges and today, long after their secularization, a much narrower secular orthodoxy is far more strictly enforced on their campuses than Christan orthodoxy ever was when they were under the governance of the Church. Look at what Professor Jordan Peterson has been put through at the University of Toronto today, and ask yourself whether anything of the sort would have been feasible when it was still the Anglican King’s College, originally envisioned by John Strachan.
- Rationalism is not the use of reason but its abuse. It is a form of idolatry that places such faith as is properly reserved for divine revelation alone in the individual’s own rational capacity. Whenever something that is good in itself is made into an idol it is twisted into something that is unwholesome, ugly and evil. This is the difference between the reason used by pre-modern thinkers from Socrates to St. Thomas Aquinas and the reason worshipped by modern rationalists.
- Back in the 1970s, comedian George Carlin had a famous monologue about the “Seven Words You Cannot Say on TV.” For his campaign against the censorship of profanity and obscenity, he is remembered by many today, especially those on the progressive left, as a champion of free speech. If the right to be a potty mouth in public is to be considered an element of free speech, it is surely the least important, and its champions must rank at the very bottom of the totem pole of free speech advocacy. The spot at the top of the same is reserved for those brave few who dare fight for the right to express thoughts that have been demonized by the progressive left as “hate speech”, a label for thoughts that are less hateful in themselves than hated by those who wish to suppress them. One man whose thoughts were demonized in this fashion was Professor Robert Faurisson of France, who has recently passed away. Indeed, Faurisson who suffered both prosecution and persecution, including physical violence, for his thoughts was himself demonized as a person for those thoughts. The ever classy – that is sarcasm, for those unable to detect it on their own – Warren Kinsella, upon learning of Faurisson’s death, sent out a tweet which began with the words “Good riddance”, and continued with “Burn in hell.” This is rather the opposite of the more traditional and more civilized post mortem sentiment of: Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux pertua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. If the label “hate speech” actually referred to speech expressing hatred, surely this tweet would qualify. Judging from this violation of the ancient principle of de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est, which, to be fair to Kinsella, he may never have learned, in which case our educational system has much to answer for, one would think that Faurisson had been guilty of terrorism, murder, and/or some depraved sex crime against children. But no, his only “crime” was to claim that the diary of Anne Frank was largely a forgery and that the historical account of the Holocaust is exaggerated and in need of revision. If, decades after the end of any other war, before or after World War II, someone were to suggest that accounts of atrocities committed by the other side had been exaggerated for propaganda purposes, and ought to be revised, this would have been considered to be part of the normal, post bellum, task of the historian rather than a thought crime. The Holocaust, however, has been elevated to the status of a redemptive act – the very name means “burnt offering” – in the heilsgeschicthe of a new post-Christian, religion, to which progressive liberalism demands absolute, unwavering, adherence. Completely irrelevant to the liberals who persecuted Faurisson in France, as they persecuted Ernst Zündel and James Keegstra here in Canada, is the question of whether or not the evidence supports these claims. Indeed, those who treat “Holocaust denial” as some sort of crimethink, actively discourage people from looking into the evidence, by treating this as reason for suspicion in and of itself. It is those who stood up for Faurisson in France – and Zündel and Keegstra in Canada – who are the true champions of freedom of speech in our time. As for Faurisson himself, I, in the opposite spirit to that of Kinsella, express the hope that before it was too late, he realized his error – referring not to his unconventional views of WWII history but to his profession of atheism – repented, and came to faith in the true and living God, Who sent His Son into the world to redeem sinners. To anyone offended by that, I apply the words of Edward III: honi soit qui mal y pense.
- Traditionalist conservatives of the Roman Catholic persuasion frequently regard the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century as the wellspring of the plague of modernity with its various manifestations in liberalism, socialism, feminism, etc. There is some truth to this, although more astute traditionalists have been able to trace the decay of Western civilization back much further (in Richard M. Weaver’s case to thirteenth century nominalism). The truth is more nuanced than this, however. In the case of the Protestant Reformation of continental Europe, the first Reformer, Dr. Martin Luther was essentially conservative, orthodox, and even reactionary. He sought moderate reform of the Church on an ad fontes basis, i.e., a return to the source of the Christian tradition in the Holy Scriptures, beginning with the recovery of the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith apart from human works. His goal was not to overthrow the order of Christendom but rather to preserve it. The Lutheran Book of Concord, opening with the ancient ecumenical Creeds, testifies to his basic orthodoxy, and he vehemently opposed radicalism in both the ecclesiastical and political spheres. The Swiss Reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, however, can properly be regarded as a father of modernity, as can the even more radical Anabaptists. Even John Calvin, who sought to steer the Swiss Reformation into a moderate, middle position, between Zwingli and Luther, must be regarded as a father of modernity. The Lutherans have long regarded the orthodoxy of his Christology and his view of the Trinity as being suspect, and there has been a notable tendency towards Nestorianism among his followers. Eric Voegelin argued that he had revived a form of the Gnostic heresy, and Calvinism’s influence on the later stages of the English Reformation was definitely in the direction of radicalism. The English Reformation began when Parliament passed the first Act of Supremacy in 1534, removing the Church of England from under papal jurisdiction. Since this was done for political rather than theological reasons, and it was not the intention of Parliament to separate the Church of England from the Catholic Church but from the authority which the patriarch of Rome had usurped over other ecclesiastical provinces in violation of the consensus of the early Church, as the Eastern Church has always maintained, the English Reformation was even more conservative than the Lutheran Reformation, leaving the Church of England essentially intact in terms of its established, hierarchical order, its sacramental ministry, and its Creedal orthodoxy. The first significant reforms were liturgical, and these were done conservatively. The liturgy was put into the English vernacular, but drawn from the ancient liturgical traditions. It was the same man who oversaw these liturgical reforms, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, after the accession of Edward VI authored the Confession which, in a slightly abridged version, would be adopted as the Articles of Religion of the Church of England in the reign of Elizabeth I. The faith confessed by the Articles is a reformed Catholicism, affirming the orthodoxy of the ecumenical Creeds, affirming the traditional episcopal hierarchy of the Church and the sacramental ministry, but also affirming the basic doctrines of the Protestant Reformation such as justification by faith rather than works. The Protestantism affirmed by the Articles is the Protestantism that was embraced by their author, Cranmer, which was essentially the more conservative Lutheranism, rather than Calvinism or even more radical versions. By contrast, the English Protestants who had taken refuge in Switzerland during the reign of Mary Tudor and thus fallen under Calvinist and Zwinglian influence rather than Lutheran, returned to England as radicals, whose agitation for more extreme political, ecclesiastical, and moral reforms eventually erupted into civil war, regicide, and the Cromwellian dictatorship. All forms of modern liberalism, progressivism, and leftism today are ultimately descended from this radical Calvinism known to history as Puritanism.
- It is deeply ironic that in Protestant circles today the term “evangelical” is more-or-less used as if it were interchangeable with “conservative” and “orthodox.” There is much historical ignorance on display in this usage. The term evangelical, first used in the sixteenth century, can either be synonymous with “Protestant”, in which case it includes both the conservative and orthodox on the one hand and the liberal and radical on the other, or it can designate certain movements or factions within Protestantism. Until the twentieth century, these factions and movements were not noted for their orthodoxy and frequently aligned themselves with liberal, progressive, and radical reform movements. In post-Restoration seventeenth century England, “Evangelical” and “Orthodox” were the names of opposing parties within the Church of England. They were nicknamed the “low church” and “high church” respectively. These are often thought of as the “Protestant” and “Catholic” parties within the Church, but it would be more accurate to say that the original Evangelical or low church party was the Calvinist party, whereas the Orthodox or high church party was the party of the classical Anglicanism of the Elizabethan, Jacobean and Carolinian eras. Support for the Whigs, or classical liberals, from within the C of E generally came from the Evangelicals, whereas the Orthodox were the base of the Tory party. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries respectively, the Evangelical and Orthodox parties underwent spiritual revivals, in each case led by a man who had crossed over from the other party, John Wesley and John Henry Newman. Wesley, who had crossed over from the Orthodox wing to lead the Evangelical revival, remained a Tory himself, but his influence on his followers, who, especially those who formed the Methodist sect, were noted supporters of radical causes, was primarily theological. Wesley was an Arminian, and the Wesleyan revival brought to an end the days in which Anglican Evangelicalism was synonymous with Calvinism, although Arminianism is more properly understood as a version of Calvinism that rejects its strict predestinarianism rather than its exact opposite. In the early nineteenth century, while the former Evangelical John Henry Newman was leading a spiritual awakening in the Orthodox wing of the Church, Evangelicalism, now an inter-denominational revival movement, pulled further away from orthodoxy and conservatism. Its spiritual leader in this era was Charles G. Finney, a lawyer-turned-Presbyterian-minister whose many heresies included full Pelagianism. Politically, nineteenth century Evangelicalism jumped on the bandwagon of several progressive reform movements, including Prohibitionism. It was not until around the middle of the twentieth century that certain fundamentalists decided to rebrand themselves as evangelicals in order to distance themselves from negative connotations associated with the term fundamentalism. This is the genesis of today’s use of “evangelical” to designate a Protestant who is “conservative” or “orthodox” rather than liberal. Ironically, this rebranding of fundamentalism was itself a step towards liberalism, and the second generation of this new evangelicalism, was decidedly less orthodox theologically, and further to the left politically, than the first generation, as has been documented by Richard Quebedeaux, George M. Marsden, and Francis Schaeffer, among others. Such left-of-centre positions as open immigration and feminism have far more support among evangelicals than among fundamentalists. It is not uncommon, for example, for evangelicals to support the ordination of women, whereas fundamentalists, unreconstructed Anglican highchurchmen, traditional Roman Catholics, and traditional Eastern Orthodox, are united in their opposition to this on the basis of Scripture and tradition. Indeed, in denominations like Methodism and Pentecostalism that arose out of the Wesleyan evangelical revival, the ordination of women has been accepted from the beginning. Several years ago, when the supposedly Conservative government passed a bill implementing the approach of the “Nordic model” to prostitution, it was with the support of Canadian evangelicals despite the fact that the “Nordic model” violates basic principles of legal justice and is built entirely on the foundation of feminist male-bashing. While evangelicals are less likely to support any of these positions than theological liberals, they are far more likely to do so than any other group that considers itself to be theologically conservative.
- Fundamentalism, contrary to popular opinion, is to be preferred over evangelicalism. It was an interdenominational movement that started in the late nineteenth century in response to the invasion of the Protestant churches by rationalistic unbelief that had been disguised to look like theology. The movement named itself “fundamentalist” in the twenties of the twentieth-century after what it called the “fundamentals”, i.e., doctrines that were essential to Christianity but which liberalism was denying, often through the means of disingenuous redefinition. No, contrary to whatever misconceptions you might have formed, dispensationalism and premillennialism were never considered to be fundamentals by the fundamentalists. The fundamentals were the authority and infallibility of the Scriptures as God’s inspired Word, the deity of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection, and the physical second coming of Jesus Christ. With the exception of the first, each of these doctrines is clearly stated in the Apostles’, Nicene-Constantinopolitan, and Athanasian Creeds, the affirmations of the orthodox Christian kerygma that have come down to us from the era when the Apostolic church was undivided, and the reason the first is not stated is because it is the basic presupposition upon which each of the Creeds is built. If fundamentalism erred, it was not in the direction of affirming as essential something that was tertiary or peripheral to Christianity, but in the direction of unnecessarily abridging the orthodox kerygma by drawing up short, usually five-point, lists of the fundamentals rather than pointing to the Creeds. Nor was there anything wrong with the combative attitude taken by the fundamentalists towards the modernists – this was the same attitude taken by our Lord towards the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, by the Apostle Paul towards the Judaizers who were plaguing the Galatians, and by the Church Fathers towards the Gnostics, Arians, Sabellians, Docetists, Appollinarians, Monophysitists, Patripassionists, etc. This is precisely the attitude that should be taken, and that we are commanded by the Lord and His Apostles to take, towards those who claim teaching authority within the Church while denying, in whole or in part, the Christian kerygma. Unfortunately fundamentalism did become schismatic – extremely so, in many cases.
- Schism is never the appropriate response to heresy. Schism is itself a form of heresy because Christ’s “one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church” is an element of the Christian kerygma, albeit one that is subordinate to the greater truths about the Trinity, Christ, and salvation. Far too many who are orthodox on other truths seem to think that the Church that is called the “body of Christ” in the Scriptures is merely a way of speaking of the aggregate of all believers as individuals and that the organized bodies that we customarily call Churches are something entirely different, man-made institutions formed by groups of believers for their own convenience. In Scriptural and Creedal orthodoxy, however, the body of Christ, the Church, is an organized and organic, institution, founded by Christ Himself, through His Apostles. Its full presence, requires both the affirmation of the orthodox, Christian, kerygma and organic continuity with the Apostolic Church. The orthodox response to heresy, is to defrock and excommunicate heretical teachers, not to go into schism.
- The papacy of the sixteenth century, and its followers, argued that Dr. Luther had corrupted the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith by adding the word alone, which, they then argued, St. Paul never used in connection with justification by faith in Scripture, while St. James negated the connection in the twenty-fourth verse of the second chapter of his epistle. The answer to this superficially plausible response is to point out that what Dr. Luther was excluding by “alone” was “works.” That justification is not by works, St. Paul does indeed assert in Romans 3: 20, 27, 28; 4:4-8; 11:6; Galatians 2:16; 3:10-13; Ephesians 2:8-9; II Timothy 1:9; and Titus 3:5. These passages cannot be explained away by saying that Paul was talking about “works of the law” as opposed to “works of love” because this very distinction is eliminated if “works of love” are held to be conditions of justification rather than responses arising out of gratitude for a salvation freely given. The key to harmonizing Paul and James is Romans 4:2, which allows for James’ doctrine of justification by works, but asserts that such justification cannot be “before God”. The papacy, by pronouncing its anathema sit upon the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith without works, only brought itself under the Church’s very first anathema, pronounced by St. Paul himself in Galatians 1:8-9. Those who sought reform of the Church from within and found themselves disfellowshipped by the papacy for asserting the Pauline doctrine, cannot properly be said to have gone into schism. The same cannot be asserted of those who thought the initial Reformation had not gone far enough, and, seeking ecclesiastical purity, broke away of their own volition to found their own sects. These are guilty of the heresy of Donatism.
- A criticism frequently made of fundamentalism is that its Scriptural literalism is an innovation and that historically and traditionally, orthodox Christianity did not interpret the entire Bible literally. As I have pointed out at length, fundamentalist literalism is a reduction of the traditional, orthodox, interpretation of the Scriptures, not an innovation. The traditional, orthodox interpretation is that Scriptural truth comes in multiple layers of meaning, which are built on the foundation of the literal meaning. The Scriptures contain many books, in many genres, including poetry and prose, history and proverbial wisdom, biographical narrative and instructive epistles, and a hyper-literalism, that does not take these differences into consideration, is to be avoided as absurd, but any non-literalism based on rationalistic presuppositions, such as “the narrative describes a miracle, miracles don’t happen, therefore it has to be taken metaphorically” must be rejected by the orthodox.
- Orthodoxy allows for varying degrees of literalism in the interpretation of the Scriptures, but not in the affirmation of the Creeds. Creedal literalism is the sine qua non of orthodoxy. Ask those who object to fundamentalist Scriptural literalism if they affirm every single statement in the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as the literal truth. Any answer other than yes, comes from a position of rationalistic unbelief rather than traditional orthodoxy.
- In the period of the French Revolution, the radical Jacobin revolutionaries were the mortal foes of those seeking genuine reform, i.e., the moderates among the Royalists, who were the vast majority of the Royalists and included the king himself.
- In the history of central Canada, prior to Confederation, the Whiggish Reform movement produced a number of radical, revolutionary firebrands, such as Robert Fleming Gourlay and William Lyon Mackenzie, the former of whom sowed the seeds that the latter unsuccessfully reaped in the insurrection of 1837. The post-Confederation Liberal Party of Canada is usually thought of as being the descendent of the supposedly more moderate and responsible of the Reformers, such as Robert Baldwin, Egerton Ryerson and George Brown. The popular nickname of the Liberal Party is borrowed from the Clear Grits, which was the name of the faction within the Reform movement that Brown led. The real nature of the Liberal Party, however, can be seen in the fact that from 1919 to 1948, they were led by the grandson, namesake, and ideological heir of the leader of the 1837 rebellion, and from 1958 to 1984, they were led by men who had sold their souls and services to the Communist movement. These are the periods to which the Liberal Party generally looks when patting itself on the back over its supposed past accomplishments. The truly moderate and reasonable among the nineteenth century Reformers, were drawn into the Liberal-Conservative Party by the leadership of a young Tory from Kingston, Sir John A. Macdonald, who, like the Earl of Beaconsfield in England, was successfully able to wed the cause of responsible and reasonable reform with the Tory defence of stability, order, and established traditional institutions.
- The use of immigration by radicals to attack and undermine traditional Canada is usually thought to go back to the 1960s. Tom Kent, an advisor of Lester Pearson, is quoted as having recommended the radical changes to immigration policy introduced by the Liberals in that decade for the purposes of breaking up “Tory Toronto.” After the initial exodus of the United Empire Loyalists to Upper Canada and the Maritime Provinces, Upper Canada began to experience a large wave of immigration from the United States, prompted by Lt. Governor Simcoe’s offers of cheap land grants. John Strachan, the first Anglican bishop of Toronto, a major architect of Canadian higher education, one of the first proponents of the Confederation of British North America, an old, unreconstructed, High Tory and the spiritual leader of the Loyalist establishment of Upper Canada, warned in the early 1800s that these might be bringing American republican sentiments with them. While the immigrants did not defect back to the United States in the War of 1812, as was feared and the Yankee invaders evidently expected, in the 1830s William Lyon Mackenzie clearly hoped there was enough of that republican sentiment for him to fan into a revolutionary fire. Mackenzie, like Gourlay before him, wanted more liberal republicans from the United States to immigrate to Canada. Clearly, the radical strategy of using immigration to attack established institutions, is older than most people think.
- Bishop Strachan and William Lyon Mackenzie were themselves both immigrants from Scotland. They perfectly illustrate the difference between the right kind of immigrant and the wrong kind. Strachan, the arch-supporter of the traditional order, was the classic example of the right kind of immigrant, the immigrant willing to do the work the Canadian-born are unwilling to do, namely warn against the wrong kind of immigration. Mackenzie, a subversive and seditious opponent of the traditions and institutions both of his native land and of Loyalist Upper Canada, was the classic example of the wrong kind of immigrant.
- While Mackenzie’s revolution failed, the fact that Bishop Strachan’s fears about liberal, republican sentiments being imported by post-Loyalist immigration from the United States were not without basis is evidenced by the Reform movement. Not in its insistence upon “responsible government” per se, as this was in keeping with the British parliamentary system and in one form or another would be an inevitable development in the evolution of a province of the British Empire. It is in the Reform movement’s inclinations towards secularism that an imported, Yankee, influence can be seen. These inclinations manifested themselves primarily in the battles over the Clergy Reserves and educational system of Upper Canada (Ontario). The Clergy Reserves were tracts of land set aside in the Constitutional Act of 1791 for the support of “Protestant clergy” with the intention of making the Church of England the established Church of Upper Canada, as it already was in Nova Scotia and the Roman Catholic Church was in Lower Canada (Quebec). The Reformers initially fought to include the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) in the establishment, then to extend it to other Protestant denominations, and finally to abolish the reserves altogether. The consequence over their victory was that by the time of Confederation, Upper Canada had no established Church. The claims of confused Liberals to the contrary notwithstanding, non-establishment did not amount to a “separation of church and state” which has never been a principle of the Canadian tradition, although it was a step towards it, and therefore a step towards Americanism and away from the Loyalist heritage. In both battles, resistance to the Reformers’ demands was led by Bishop Strachan. Strachan had been a schoolteacher and tutor before answering the call of the priesthood and education was never far from his heart. He established a grammar school at his first parish in Cornwall, and when he was appointed to the parish that would become St. James Cathedral in Toronto – then York – he also took over as headmaster at Home District Grammar School. He expanded the curricula of these schools and authored the first text-book in Upper Canada. He talked his wife’s brother-in-law (through her first marriage), Montreal businessman James McGill, into endowing what would become a major Canadian university in his will. He himself obtained Royal Charters for the establishment of two colleges, King’s College in 1827 and Trinity College in 1851. The reason for the founding of the second college was that the Reformers, a couple of years earlier, having come to power in the Legislative Assembly, used that power to confiscate King’s College from the Church and secularize it into the University of Toronto. Secular education, the Reformers’ ideal, was the opposite of the traditional, British, Church-administered education envisioned by Bishop Strachan, who had done so much towards the actual establishment of education up to and including the university level in Upper Canada. This too, was a case of liberal ideas being imported from the United States through immigration.
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