We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Bishop Lopes: A Pledged Troth. A pastoral letter on Amoris Laetitia.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The bully in you; the bully in me. A rhapsody on rivalry, violence and culture, and repentance.

The Gospel exposes the violent rivalry between men.

The difference between the Gospel and myth, the difference about which René Girard spoke so eloquently, is that myth recapitulates and disguises the violence of scapegoating. The Gospel exposes and brings about the end of what Girard called the scapegoating mechanism, i.e., the rule of Satan.

Jesus, the Passover Lamb, took upon Himself the sins of the world. God, Himself, became the scapegoat. The story of the sacrifice of Abraham's son Isaac foreshadows the sacrifice of Jesus.
God does not want Isaac’s blood, only Abraham’s heart. So he provides a substitute (for Abraham's son Isaac), a ram, which shows the true meaning of all authentic sacrifice. [...] The ram caught in the thicket is not the true substitute, and the true sacrifice does not take place upon Moriah. It is the Lamb, not the ram, God’s Son, not Abraham’s, that is offered.—D'Ambrosio
Scapegoating is a step in the progression of vengeance (cf. mimetic rivalry). The victimizer accuses his
"scapegoat" with great fervor and sincerity. More often than not some incident, whether fantastic or trivial, has triggered a wave of opinion against this victim, a mild version of mimetic snowballing and the victim mechanism.—excerpt from I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2001, chapter twelve, "Scapegoat," by Rene Girard.
The murder of Abel by his brother Cain, his rival, is the original and founding murder of all murders that Girard identified as the model and impetus for man's attempts to resolve chaos through scapegoating.
Societies unify themselves by focusing their imitative desires on the destruction of a scapegoat. (Imitatio)
For a time, violence achieves a measure of "peace", a pseudo-peace. People who use snarky remarks and power of position to dominate others appear to derive a strange satisfaction from subduing junior staff. Is it because they need to prop up themselves and the only skills they possess to achieve (pseudo-)confidence are characteristic of the attributes of bullies? As the saying goes, violence begets more hatred and more violence.

As society becomes populated by increasingly insensitive people who treat others like their personal slaves or punching bags, how many more bullied individuals will seek revenge because they have been beaten to the point they forget their own humanity?
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."—Martin Luther King
An aberration of culture present in the West and which is beginning to dominate the rest of the world is a parasitic culture of violence induced by organizations and individuals telling us we need to be in control of our lives. Of course, what is meant by "in control" is that we should attain that control at all costs, even to the detriment of our neighbour. The message of (faux) liberty resonates with more people than who care to admit their participation in and propagation of the parasitic culture.

The parasitic culture of violence exposed.

The liberty proposed by "progressives" and liberals is not the responsible freedom of the person of conscience. The anarchic freedom touted by groups like Planned Parenthood dehumanizes newly conceived humans and the women who seek shelter under the false promise of the pseudo-freedom that Planned Parenthood and the abortion culture use to con people into accepting their human-sacrifice-for-profit business model. In truth, Planned Parenthood and their political allies demonize their rivals who threaten PP with the loss of their so-called freedom, a freedom from responsibility which makes possible the destruction of millions of innocent human lives. That the scapegoating of the unborn is supported by tax dollars makes any citizen who does not protest the cruelty of abortion complicit in Planned Parenthood's satanic enterprise.

All cultures espousing violent scapegoating as a means of control, individual or corporate, including the present global culture of violence, the culture of death propped up by organizations like Planned Parenthood and the like, confirm the lingering effects of the primordial murder.

Participating in the Satanic agenda.

Man's graceless attempts to resolve rivalry depend on scapegoating and violence to effect resolution, only the resolution that is sought often terminates innocent life, as is the case of a hedonistic culture which celebrates the murder of unborn babies. Recall the following passage which speaks of scapegoating Jesus to release the social-cultural tension that magnified the fears of the Jewish leadership:
Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.—John 11:49-50.
The Old Law is fulfilled in the New Covenant sealed in the Blood of the Lamb. The violence perpetuated by myth is exposed and therefore ended. The Law, however, because God keeps his promises, would be fulfilled. Completed, that is, in Jesus' Sacrifice on Calvary.

Even as the world goes crazy, and violence appears to dominate the headlines, the devil's hold on the world through scapegoating has ended and is ending, destroyed by the Cross. Satan rages in the midst of his end.

The Devil's Own

The violence of culture born of rivalry and scapegoating is exposed for exactly what it is—the rebellion of Satan. Anywhere or anytime people choose to engage in scapegoating, they play into the rivalry that is the (fading) agenda of the devil. Those allies of that fading agenda will themselves fade into spiritual oblivion.

The devil, who made himself a rival of God, tries to elevate himself above God in all things, especially in his attempts to convince man that he, the devil, cares about man when, in fact, he hates what we are: enfleshed souls made in the image and likeness of God.

The devil cannot bring down God, so he tries to bring down God's creation. What better, more sinister way to claim equality with God than to attack and cause the downfall of the summit of God's creation—man. More precisely, woman. The serpent tempted Eve because she was the summit of God's creation, created second but no less equal to Adam in the eyes of God. In a way, Eve was the perfection of Adam. Eve is the mother of us all. She and Adam were created in God's image. A soul made in God's image, through the union of a male and female and in the womb of a mother, becomes enfleshed. Imagine the devil's conversation with himself. "If I could bring down Eve, I would bring down all her offspring, all who enter the world through her!" Satan, diabolus, wants to overthrow God's design for human sexuality, marriage and the family.
Latin diabolus. This in turn was borrowed from Ancient Greek: διάβολος (diábolos), "slanderer", from 'Greek: 'διαβάλλειν (diabállein) "to slander": διά- (diá-) "across, through" + βάλλειν (bállein) "to hurl".
Satan is defeated.

God took on human flesh and destroyed sin and death from within the human frame. Mary, the New Eve, bore the Second Adam Who, being sinless and born of a woman preserved from original sin (Mary is full of grace, kecharitomene: χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ. Chaire, kecharitōmenē, ho kyrios meta sou! Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!), could become the perfect sacrifice and end the sin and death brought into the world through rivalry. Satan, who promised that Adam and Eve would become like God if only they would eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, wanted to make Adam and Eve rivals of God, like he, Satan, had made himself. Misery loves company.

The power of scapegoating, the violence of myth, was destroyed from within by the Gospel. The logic and genius of God's plan is testified to by the cohesion and consistency of the events leading up to and during the time of Jesus' public ministry. Satan had no idea he was contributing to his own downfall by fueling rage among the Jewish leaders against the Son of God.

At the same time the Old Law is fulfilled by Jesus' sacrifice, the power of the old pagan (satanic) system of myth and rivalry and violence was ended. The power of the Cross is ending all those false systems to which man, in his sin and therefore his ignorance, has given his allegiance. The Cross, for example, exposes the deadly rivalry between political foes who vie for power by using every kind of destructive scapegoating technique known to man (and woman) to destroy the opposition. The recent American election proved that scapegoating is very much alive and well, if by "alive" one means a tool of the devil used in a no holds barred attack on civility.

A wounded nature restored to grace.

The redeemed sinner, while suffering the lingering effects of the Fall (cf. concupiscence), is no longer under the curse of Satan's rivalry with God. As the faithful all know, God has no rival. God is the Lord. When we acknowledge God as Lord—of the universe, of time, of eternity, of all things and all beings—we acknowledge the failure of Satan and his minions to convince us to surrender our dignity in Jesus Christ. Satan tried the same shtick with Jesus during the forty days in the desert that he tried with Adam and Eve. Jesus, the sinless One, could not be brought down to the level of the devil. So, Satan influenced men already immeshed in the world and his agenda to do his dirty work. Satan thought he was using the Jewish elders to bring about the death of the Son of God. Through the Jewish elders, God brought about the fulfillment of the Law. Satan thought he could use the pagan Romans to bring about the triumph of myth and rivalry and violence. God allowed the Romans to participate in the sacrifice of Jesus and so the violence concealed by myth was exposed and ended (and is being ended by the Cross)!

Satan rages at God and man because the power of myth, the violence concealed by myth, which permitted Satan's agenda to flourish, was exposed as a sham, a power as false as the father of lies who used myth to tease man into accepting truths mixed with falsehood about the dignity of man.

Let us remember, especially when the days ahead might, in all likelihood, get very dark—God always wins!

Recall the final words of Father Jacques at his death at the hands of two Islamic terrorists: "Go away, Satan!"
Vade retro me Satana quoniam non sapis quae Dei sunt sed quae sunt hominum.—Marcus 8:33
Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men.—St. Mark 8:33
A biography of violence.

The bully fears his rival, the person who reminds him who he is. The bully may understand how to exploit the weaknesses of others, but he cannot face his own limitations. So, he attacks others to make himself look strong. In truth, the bully is a coward.

The bully's fear of his rival, even if he thinks his victim weak and unable to defend her/himself, makes him prone to becoming a tyrant who uses every form of sophistry to prop up his foolish pride which, in turn, fuels his need to take out his frustrations upon others.

To participate in bullying, is to attack the dignity of the person who is the object of the bullying. To participating in bullying is to imprison oneself in satanic rivalry and violence. Christ overcame that prison of violence with love. We must, if we have any hope of salvation, enter into communion with Jesus Who overcame man's propensity to diabolical rivalry. We must, as Jesus commands us, take up our crosses and in so doing be emptied of pride and thus opened to God's grace.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.—1 John 5-10

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.