American Exceptionalism, Elitism and Class, History, Race and Culture, Teachings

“Papismus Lucifugus”, the Advent of Tribalism in Not Just in Our Politics, but in American Conservatism

I actually had this book, one of only a few surviving. Dated 1668, it’s a record of a disputation between John Menzies of the (Church of Scotland) Divinity School at Marischal College in Aberdeen and an English Jesuit named Francis Demspter. All leather, just leaf through it and you can carry yourself back…1668 was during the reign of Charles II, who had only recently returned to the English throne after the death of Oliver Cromwell. There would be only one more Catholic king, his brother James II, who would abdicate in 1688 in favor of the Glorious Revolution that would end the House of Stuart and place William and Mary on the English throne.

And the first settlements in America, Jamestown and Massachusetts Bay, were only 60 and 45 years old, respectively, and God knows, the down-the-nose, holier-than-thou-attitudes displayed by early Puritans against the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians coming to America via Boston, “the left foot of fellowship” we used to call it in my Appalachians in the 1960s. With the American Revolution still 150 years down the road, no would calculate the giving of this “left foot of fellowship” in the settling of America in those early days, but those Scotch-Irish would divert their choice of entry ports, from Boston to Philadelphia, where more cordial and less snotty Quakers would greet them, and feed them, then send them on their way westward…following a line from Philadelphia to the Shenandoah River, where they would turn and follow it due south; every town down that Valley founded by groups of fresh-off-the-boat Presbyterians, who would stop and build their town. Every new town would be built by the next boatload, and the next, then, in the next century, would grow to larger sizes, and form the heart and soul of local militias that would write the final chapters of the American Revolution in the Carolinas, Georgia and of course, Yorktown. (My grandmother was from one of those early clans, a descendant of Mark Renfro, who was an officer in their unit and was granted the land around Renfro Valley, Kentucky, by the first Continental Congress. In hindsight, these land grants became a little “eat yer heart out.” to New England militia…all thanks to the ignorant caprice of the Puritans in Massachusetts.

A great story, but the greater teaching lesson here is how “De Lawd, who sho’ do move in mysterious ways” would make the agents of that transfer of much of those New World properties should be brought about by uncouth, Protestant hillbillies.

This is why, when the English lost the war they felt they had to leave the colonies entirely. To hang around and try to live among those uncouth bastards would be more than they could tolerate, so they moved to Canada or back to England, leaving the colonies to farmers, small business owners (fishmongers, carpenters), people the French called their Third Estate; peasants and bourgeoisie, who went on to bollix up their own revolution a decade later, who took some really great notions about human dignity and freedom, then in uniquely French frat-boy fashion, handed it all off to a 5’6 Corsican military officer, because the TriDelts, Sigma Chi’s and PiKappa’s couldn’t agree who should be in charge, or what they should do first. Bonaparte took care of that for them, almost conquering all of Europe.


All this occurred over 100 years after the Scottish Protestant Menzies made his case to the English Jesuit Dempster, not knowing that his down-the-nose attitude that would define Puritanism, would enshrine a defining characteristic of government, even in American political philosophy, that understanding government, like understanding the purposes of God and His Son, was only for the most qualified and select. (And the Roman Catholic Church was centuries ahead of them.)

For almost 200 years those attitudes have been trying to make a comeback, only without God, tossing Him out as excess baggage, when only 60 years after the Americans put into writing the “rights of men and women”, Karl Marx was able to imprint his own spin on the attitudes first enunciated by John Menzies, that the real war would always be between society’s Betters and their far more numerous (Immigrant-farmer and small business class) Lessers, who would go on to throw the royals (and royalism) out and turn the nation’s growth and development to the households built on common sense.

So, when this was written Catholicism was still the religion of the nobility while the Presbyterian kirk was the religion of the common people in Scotland. And they didn’t like one another one bit.

* * *

Only this isn’t an essay about religious differences in doctrine, although this does outline sentiments felt by both sides of the Christians’ argument in 1688. But is does highlight deep gut-feelings, almost child-like in spite and malice, found in the temper of the language delivered, and how those bad feelings simply had to go the basement to throw teat-fits

On the title page Menzies states what he intended to prove, as a prosecutor might in a pre-trial argument to a jury:

“Sundry to the chief points of the Papish Religion are demonstrated to be repugnant to both Scripture and Antiquity, Yea, the Ancient Romish Church

Papismus Lucifigus just oozes sectarian hatred, the language not directed at persuasion and conciliation or anything we consider to be Christian. It is an in-yer-face incitement, as if to say that this churchman wouldn’t have to go through all these flowery arguments if only he could lure this Jesuit down a dark alley… and there wasn’t a magistrate within shouting distance. Classic tribalism, one set of rules when the light is shining, another set in the dark.

You’ll also note in Papismus Lucifigus an incentive for:

Tribalism, Part I

Since Menzies equated Evil with the Papacy, and the Jesuits reciprocated with fallen Protestants, who, on the continent, they were still burning, I wonder if the #OnlyIMatter crowd in America could recognize this sort of tribalism if it appeared in America? Would they see it as Good, or Bad, or simply Neutral, as they might the collateral damage in a “Twilight” film, or voting for Hillary the suddenly gasping-for-air conservatives seem to imply they will do? Even P J O’Rourke no longers trembles for his country but only any status quo that will protect his investments.

Does “tribalism” conjure up images of only primitive people like the Comanche in a John Wayne film, or Boko Haram in Nigeria? Would GenY #NeverTrumpsters know to throw in Orthodox Serbia and Catholic Croatia, or Catholic and Episcopal Belfast? Could they find it in Detroit, Cleveland, and Baltimore?

And considering the main thrust of #NeverTrumpism, how about conservatism in general…inasmuch that some use similar rhetoric as Menzies threw around in 1668 against fellow Christians, abusing that word, “evil”, yet unable to define it with clarity, or unwilling to link it with its biblical Author?

Vine Deloria Jr, the Sioux Indian activist, is a name most people under fifty wouldn’t know. He wrote a best seller “Custer Died for Your Sins” in 1969 then in 1970 followed with “We Talk, You Listen, New Tribes, New Turf” which I thought was a good anthropological inquiry into tribalism, while still in my amateur-anthropologist phase. Deloria argued for a return to tribalism, which, at 25 made sense to me. But by 45 I could see it was just plain old left-wing psycho-babble wrapped up in Native American symbolism to seduce smart kids like me, who would buy into any pop-science fad at 25, then let vanity and pride forbid us from ever admitting we could ever be that gullible. (Yeah, the Left’s been working that same street corner for over 60 years, and the best and brightest of MyGen were some of their earlier customers. Great business model, too.)

The “natural law”is simple: Take a vain and arrogant smart kid, and convince him to make a really bad choice at 18-20, about sex, communism, even history (now that they are rewriting most history right now, thanks to a post-modern French philosopher named Foucault, who died of AIDS even after he knew it could be prevented, but refused to give up the rub-a-dub, three-men-in-tub sport)…and you can own them…for their own vanities and appetites won’t allow them.

In the past 20 years it wasn’t that I learned all that much more about anthropology or history. What I did learn was the exceptional nature of America and that tribalism is a thing America was created to defeat…since, under the guiding hand of Evil, tribalism has been the most destructive force on earth. Tribalism is the unifying force of kings in that it insured men of different tribes could never learn to live together and “reciprocate with their neighbors as they would have their neighbor reciprocate with them”, which is America’s Golden Rule of nation building.

We invented that. It is not a French ideal.

This reciprocity has always been a Good Thing, generally accepted by conservatives at one intellectual level, the ordinary American citizen at another, but generally unifying them from the very beginning, long before the term “conservatism” ever became a part of the political vocabulary.

For the past century, and a rising Left by several names, our Golden Rule has been seen as a Bad Thing, splitting us into groups (tribes) made to appear much more cool. Just know Evil, who I call by various names, had seen it as a Bad Thing from the very beginning and had laid plans to recapture his territories before the ink dried at the Constitutional convention. You see, Old Clootie knew right away that his political control, top-down government, could fail if this reciprocity theme ever took hold. He relied on men living, and fighting and killing tribally, in order to keep that system alive. It was one of Satan’s greatest creations, and is why, until America, he was the political head of the entire world for over 5000 years. In 1787 Evil lost just one small spot in North America, but knew the magnitude of it.


About Papismus Lucifugus, what most Americans no longer know, and too many conservatives of good conscience don’t seem to know to inquire anymore is that this has been the state of the rest of the world right up to yesterday. Europe is on the edge of barbarism (again), just like they were in 1668, hanging on by a thread. They were killing people in the northern counties of Ireland until only recently. Catholic children there are still taught about the evils of John Bull and his Church in England as part of their catechism, in the same sort of screed-language found in Lucifigus, while Northern Irish Episcopalians, in better economic surroundings, still teach their children to steer clear of those dirty, grimy Catholics.

And it was much worse on the Continent. The Jesuit Counter Reformation killed hundreds of thousands in the decades before Papismus. The French were especially adept. Into modern times, in the Balkans it didn’t matter if Nazis and Nationalists were faced off against one another, battle lines were as often drawn by religion, Orthodox and Catholics refusing to fight alongside one another, regardless of national cause. Tribalism ruled. And in every melee men took the opportunity of the chaos to settle old tribal scores and take a few scalps, proven in WWII, the break-up of Yugoslavia, and the Kosovo War. It’s still 1668 there. That beat goes on.

The greatest condemnation one can make of the two great Christian churches of Europe is that for over 1000 years they only played these “tribes” off against one another, rather than try to marry them off to one another, which had been rather ordinary in America over the span of our history. So of course those churches’ authority collapsed, replaced largely by the religion of Marx who promised it could heal this internecine warfare with the heavy hand of dictatorship. When Tito died, this experiment came to an expected abrupt failure, an ignominious failure. Now the Caliphatists have the same idea in mind, unifying people with a scimitar hovering over their necks. Today all Europe is lost because it had become hopelessly tribal even before the invasion of Islam. They have been sitting ducks for years.

(See, Tribalism, Part II)

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