So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Sunday, September 7, 2014

State-ing the Obvious

"Mind On Other Matters"/W.Clanton

Civility in decline. Barbarism ascending.

When any society becomes heartless, bad things happen. In the case of western societies which have nearly pushed religion and morality out of the public square, the wounds of the realignment are yet to be fully appreciated and acknowledged by political, legal, psychological and sociological pundits, probably because the same don't want to admit the contribution that their particular disciplines, i.e., the social sciences, have made to the disintegration of Western civilization. Western civilization is being rent asunder by militant secularism, a secularism that denies fundamental rights and is more atheistic-socialist than merely secular.

A Naked Public Square?

The topic of a public morality is practically taboo in certain circles, certainly in most public universities and in government circles. The only "answer" to rising lawless or the threat of terrorism, according to atheistic secularists and the politically correct, it seems, is to create additional laws in an attempt to coerce people into behaviour approved by a small but vocal segment of society. The great irony is that those who promote a public square sanitized of religion have, contrary to their aim to promote greater justice and equality, merely compounded injustice and a lack of fairness. As additional unjust and indiscriminate laws are enacted, the shadow of authoritarianism is beginning to exert itself. Anarchists, mere thugs with a fancy name, enact violence to challenge the status quo. In reality, anarchists and the authoritarian liberals who preach "tolerance" are working from the same playbook, a playbook that creates political straw-men and conspiracies and advocates violence—social, political and even physical violence—as a means to a disordered end.

The rise of unjust laws; the rise of fear.

At the risk of sounding simplistic, the problems we all face are due to a loss of virtue. People who lack virtue lack peace in their lives, and out of internal conflict will come more and more public conflict. Instead of educating for virtue, that is, the power to act morally and charitably, a praxis that forms better citizens, governments are developing programs which attempt to coerce acceptance of aberrant behaviour, ironically, in the name of tolerance, or worse facilitate restrictive oversight of people's lives through enhanced surveillance, for starters. Many people are now very aware of the reach of the NSA. In England and other European countries, video cameras litter the streets in many cities as commonly as street lights. In North America, surveillance drones are the latest hot topic. Drones, cameras, electronic snooping, development of subcutaneous tracking technologies, laws which attempt to micromanage people's lives—these are signs of bad things to come. How much longer before surveillance technology merges with educational curricula to impose on society social engineering with a very specific orientation that robs people of, say, the right to privacy?

In the previous century, film, print media and radio were fully exploited as propaganda tools of the state, not merely to "re-educate" the people but to enlist people to spy on each other and report incidents of any violation of national security. Which is to say, any speech or behaviour that threatens state control of minds and hearts was targeted as subversive. How often have we heard about North Korea's leaders executing people for behaviour that is "counter-revolutionary", activity such as reading the Bible?

Loss of Faith, Loss of Democracy

People will inevitably buy into the thought that to make our societies safer we require additional deterrent surveillance operations because they combat terrorism in all its forms and make our societies safer. Who wouldn't want a safer society for their families and friends? Some might say that to ignore and not respond to the threat posed by terrorism is naive and dangerous. Agreed. A dangerous threat equal to the advance of an external enemy, however, is the internal decay which permits the external threat to succeed. A society without a good heart—i.e., Catholic Christianity—will lose its head. Democracy, as envisioned by the founding fathers of the American Constitution, for example, cannot exist without a christian heart that shapes public discourse. The further the USA and Canada drift from their foundations in the Christian Faith, the easier it is for vice to become the corrupt heart of politics and for vice to corrode the good things we have taken for granted: order and good government; limited government; inalienable rights rooted in the dignity of man created in the image and likeness of God. The loss of the right to life for the unborn is one immense sign that our societies have traded christian charity for pagan cruelty.

Borders and laws are like swiss cheese, and criminals know where all the holes are. More and more, our societies are beginning to resemble the violent and corrupt countries being abandoned by immigrants in their quest for a better life. People of virtue make societies safer: virtuous police officers, virtuous soldiers, virtuous politicians (yes, there are a few), virtuous teachers, etc. Americans are right to insist on limited government. The moment we believe that government can make a perfect world, we surrender our responsibility to participate in the creation of societies which promote the common good. Authentic justice and fairness in society depends on people raised by loving mothers and fathers to defend the inalienable dignity of every person from conception to natural death.

Once societies base their civil conduct on fear or a perceived threat of harm from some imagined terrorist, the loss of fundamental freedoms becomes inevitable and irreversible until the society collapses and people are forced to surrender inalienable rights for some imagined domestic defence strategy that pretends to provide peace and stability. Where violent ideologies exist, hearts and minds made vacant by militant secularist policies will have little defence against radicalism and terrorism. 

The push to remove Christianity from the public square is resulting in a moral or ethical vacuum. Eventually, if not already, something sinister attempts to fill the void. What is that sinister thing?—fascism, a socialist fascism, a fascism that feeds on the disintegration of the family to then recruit and enslave citizens robbed of their identity rooted in the family. That fascism may also be a religious fascism, or fascistic religiosity such as we are witnessing in the rise of jihadist Islam.

Destroy the Family, Destroy A Nation

The family, in Catholic thought, is the domestic church. Every family is like a church, a community that is born of love. The love of a man and a woman united in Holy Matrimony mirrors the love of the Holy Trinity. The devil will stop at nothing to destroy that which is holy. It should come as no surprise, then, that governments and militant groups attack the Church and insist that the Church's mission be restrained. The greatest threat to the atheistic secularist agenda is the family proposed by the Church: one mom and one dad, contraceptive free, and children raised in the Faith. The atheistic secularists are threatened by the Catholic Faith because it works, while their myopic view of man leads to dependance on the state and other false gods that only increase man's slavery to things less than himself: contraception, abortion, aberrant sexual behaviour which necessarily leads to diseases of the mind and body. In the words of Tolkien's King Théoden of Rohan to the evil Grima Wormtongue, Saruman's minion:
Théoden: Your leechcraft would have had me crawling on all fours like a beast!
There is a leechcraft that mimics authentic virtue and attempts to push authentic virtue aside so that people, liberated from God's law, become prisoners chained to hedonism and materialism through their own and other people's lawlessness. That leechcraft is practiced by groups like Planned Parenthood (PP) which profits from the misery it and other lobbyists have created. PP has successfully conspired with governments to convince people to fear a loss of freedom and to purchase freedom by liberating themselves from the "tyranny" of responsibility. PP and atheistic feminists have waged a war against language that has emptied language of meaning, resulting in a redefinition of responsibility, tolerance and freedom. PP has appealed to the baser instincts in man to silence conscience and therefore destroy his freedom. The freedom PP proposes has a high price: the death of one's children; disease and death; and spiritual death. Tragically, far too many people have been willing to free themselves from their responsibilities by sacrificing their children on an altar of lies, greed and selfishness.

Remedy & Rejection

The Gospel inoculates hearts and minds against infection by ideologies that purport to free man and make him happy, ideologies which would turn people into beasts by stunting man's religious instinct for truth, which results in his being bound to the illusion that he can be happy if only he can control others (while avoiding the obligation to control himself). We cannot have minds liberated by the saving Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so saith the Christophobes. Thus, christians and the message of Christ are attacked in an attempt to purge societies of that thorn in the side of hedonism, materialism and entitlement—i.e., absolute objective truth. Unlike our wavering separated brethren who, having emancipated themselves from the Church's God-given and God-protected authority of the Magisterium, Catholics promote the unchanging message of the Gospel and the Truth, capital "T", that causes secularists and liberal religionists to go into a spittle-flecked nutty.

Ironically, as the voice of conscience has been stifled in man, as the inner moral law has been shouted down and suppressed, oppressive laws which claim to make society safer are on the rise. Unjust laws multiply in an attempt to correct behaviour, and not just behaviour but the way people think.

Christ is flogged, His sacred body beaten, torn and bloodied. He forgives his tormentors.

Where are Catholic christians suffering the most? Catholics and other christians suffer the most in societies that work against freedom of religion and conscience: Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and many parts of Africa and India, Europe, China, North America and in Crimea. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is being attacked, once again, by that other nation that has yet to learn their lesson from 70+ years of Soviet communism. In other words, it seems that the whole world is at war with Christ and His Church.

Where and when Catholics suffer, their suffering is united to the sufferings of Christ. Those christians martyred by islamists or communists or marginalized by militant secular fascists will become the seeds of authentic liberation, a liberation found only when humility and repentance embraced by their persecutors allows the agents of persecution to see that their hands are stained with the blood and tears of real people. Saul became Saint Paul after he encountered the risen Christ and was brought low when his vision was purified, allowing him to see exactly the truth of his actions.
The Conversion of Saul

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani′as. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Anani′as.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Anani′as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Anani′as answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Anani′as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened.

For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And in the synagogues immediately he proclaimed Jesus, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed, and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called on this name? And he has come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests.” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. —Acts of the Apostles 9:1-22
Those who persecute christians persecute Christ Himself. When we offer our trials and sufferings to Jesus, He takes on our struggles. The battle then becomes between our persecutors and God. Guess who wins that struggle?

How might society relearn its heart, regain its soul and overcome fear?

Answering the Lady Galadriels' inquiry concerning the inclusion of the seemingly insignificant hobbit Bilbo Baggins in the quest to challenge evil, Gandalf speaks:
Galadriel: Why the Halfling?
Gandalf: I do not know. Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid... and he gives me courage.
Small acts of kindness, like a tiny hobbit, often go unnoticed. That hobbit sneaks under the radar, so-to-speak, and plays a part in breaking the hold of evil on Middle Earth. Small acts can be significantly subversive, a powerful leaven in society. Little yeses can undo big nots. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta reminds us that by offering small acts with great love we present the face of our loving God to our brothers and sisters. The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy come to mind. We practice the Gospel. We speak the truth in love. We turn away evil with love, a relentless love given by the Holy Spirit. Such love is not possible without the Holy Spirit to inform our hearts and minds, to purify the will and our actions. Thus, we must pray for that gift of Love while praying, for example, for our persecutors, those inside and outside the Church. For, "... they do not know what they are doing."

If we, ourselves, have received God's mercy, then we would do right as citizens of the City of God by extending that mercy to others who need it most. The practice of offering mercy is the gateway to converting hearts and minds to the law of love taught by Jesus Christ.

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