I grabbed the book, The Dividing of Christendom by Christopher Dawson, off the shelf at a local bookstore while I was letting the kids dig through the children's section. As the kids were rummaging through Sponge Bob and Dora, I only managed to get a few pages in, so I requested it later through the library. Now I'm trying to plow my way through a book that assumes one is much more familiar with history than I am.
"Of all divisions between Christians, that between Catholics and Protestants is the deepest and the most pregnant in its historical consequences. It is so deep that we cannot see any solution to it in the present period and under existing historical circumstances. But at least it is possible for us to take the first step by attempting to overcome the enormous gap in mutual understanding which has hitherto rendered any intellectual contact or collaboration impossible. From this point of view the problem is not to be found so much in the sphere of theology, strictly speaking, as in that of culture and historical tradition. For the changes that followed the Reformation are not only the work of the Churches and theologians. They are the work of the statesmen and the soldiers. The Catholic and Protestant worlds have been divided from one another by centuries of war and power politics, and the result has been that they no longer share a common social experience. Each has its own version of history, its own social inheritance, as well as its own religious beliefs and standards of orthodoxy. And nowhere is this state of things more striking than in America, where the English Protestant North and the Spanish Catholic South formed two completely different worlds which had no mental contact with one another."
I guess I shouldn't expect my in-laws to "get me" after all these years. They do have a completely different view of the world, but what is so striking is that they used to be Catholic. Catholic within my mother-in-law's lifetime. My husband's great-grandparents were devoutly Catholic. His great-aunt was a Benedictine who was a teacher, artist and professor.
Remarkable how one decision can change the entire trajectory of a family. In this case, the loss of a child led the family outside of the Church. Many times it's divorce. Sad how hostility gets handed down from generation to generation and the faith of numerous ancestors is abandoned.