Posts Tagged ‘Morality’

The Worldview That Makes the Underclass

In 07 Observations on 2015/10/22 at 12:00 AM

The Worldview that Makes the Underclass

Anthony Daniels
Writer and Doctor

ANTHONY DANIELS, who often writes under the penname Theodore Dalrymple, is the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Born in London in 1949, he qualified as a doctor in 1974 and has worked in various countries in Africa and elsewhere. From 1990 to 2005, he worked as a doctor and psychiatrist in a prison in Birmingham, England. He has written a column for the London Spectator for 14 years, and writes regularly for National Review and the Wall Street Journal. He has published more than 20 books, including Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics & Culture of Decline, The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism, and Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on May 20, 2014, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Dearborn, Michigan.

I worked for 15 years as a doctor and psychiatrist in a general hospital in a poor area of a British city and in the prison next door, where I was on duty one night in three. The really dangerous people were in the hospital, perhaps because of the presence in the prison next door of very large uniformed men who exerted a strangely calming effect on the prisoners. In the hospital, I personally examined many thousands of patients who had attempted suicide or at least made a suicidal gesture (not quite the same thing of course). They were overwhelmingly from poor homes, and each patient told me of the lives of the three, four, or five people closest to them—and I spoke to many of those people as well. I could not, of course, have spoken to so many people, and heard about so many others, without some general impressions forming themselves in my mind. One abiding impression was of the violence of their lives, particularly that between the sexes—largely the consequence of the fluidity of relations between the sexes—and also of the devastating effect of prevalent criminality upon the quality of daily existence.

Before I did this work, I had spent a number of years working as a doctor in Africa and in other places in the Third World. I also crossed Africa by public transport, such as it was, and consequently saw much of that continent from the bottom up. These experiences also helped me in my understanding of what I was later to see in England. As Dr. Johnson put it, all judgment is comparative; or as Kipling said, “What should they know of England who only England know?” Indeed, what should anyone know of anywhere, who only that place knows?

On my return to England, I used to visit the homes of poor people as part of my medical duties. Bear in mind that I had returned from some of the poorest countries in the world, where—in one case—a single hen’s egg represented luxury and the people wore the cast-off clothes of Europe that had been donated by charity. When I returned to England, I was naturally inclined to think of poverty in absolute rather than in relative terms—as people not having enough to eat, having to fetch water from three miles away, and so forth. But I soon ceased to think of it in that fashion.

In the course of my duties, I would often go to patients’ homes. Everyone lived in households with a shifting cast of members, rather than in families. If there was an adult male resident, he was generally a bird of passage with a residence of his own somewhere else. He came and went as his fancy took him. To ask a child who his father was had become an almost indelicate question. Sometimes the child would reply, “Do you mean my father at the moment?” Others would simply shake their heads, being unwilling to talk about the monster who had begot them and whom they wished at all costs to forget.

I should mention a rather startling fact: By the time they are 15 or 16, twice as many children in Britain have a television as have a biological father living at home. The child may be father to the man, but the television is father to the child. Few homes were without televisions with screens as large as a cinema—sometimes more than one—and they were never turned off, so that I often felt I was examining someone in a cinema rather than in a house. But what was curious was that these homes often had no means of cooking a meal, or any evidence of a meal ever having been cooked beyond the use of a microwave, and no place at which a meal could have been eaten in a family fashion. The pattern of eating in such households was a kind of foraging in the refrigerator, as and when the mood took, with the food to be consumed sitting in front of one of the giant television screens. Not surprisingly, the members of such households were often enormously fat.

Surveys have shown that a fifth of British children do not eat a meal more than once a week with another member of their household, and many homes do not have a dining table. Needless to say, this pattern is concentrated in the lower reaches of society, where so elementary but fundamental a means of socialization is now unknown. Here I should mention in passing that in my hospital, the illegitimacy rate of the children born in it, except for those of Indian-subcontinental descent, was approaching 100 percent.

It was in the prison that I first realized I should listen carefully, not only to what people said, but to the way that they said it. I noticed, for example, that murderers who had stabbed someone always said of the fatal moment that “the knife went in.” This was an interesting locution, because it implied that it was the knife that guided the hand rather than the hand that guided the knife. It is clear that this locution serves to absolve the culprit, at least in his own mind, from his responsibility for his act. It also seeks to persuade the listener that the culprit is not really guilty, that something other than his decisions led to the death of the victim. This was so even if the victim was a man against whom the perpetrator was known to have a serious grudge, and whom he sought out at the other side of the city having carried a knife with him.

The human mind is a subtle instrument, and something more than straightforward lying was going on here. The culprit both believed what he was saying and knew perfectly well at the same time that it was nonsense. No doubt this kind of bad faith is not unique to the type of people I encountered in the hospital and the prison. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Edmund, the evil son of the Earl of Gloucester, says:

This is the excellent foppery of the world: that when we are sick in fortune—often the surfeit of our own behaviour—we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars, as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!
In other words, it wasn’t me.

This passage points, I think, to an eternal and universal temptation of mankind to blame those of his misfortunes that are the natural and predictable consequence of his own choices on forces or circumstances that are external to him and outside his control. Is there any one of us who has never resorted to excuses about his circumstances when he has done wrong or made a bad decision? It is a universal human tendency. But in Britain, at any rate, an entire class of persons has been created that not only indulges in this tendency, but makes it their entire world outlook—and does so with official encouragement.

Let me take as an example the case of heroin addicts. In the 1950s, heroin addiction in Britain was confined to a very small number of people, principally in bohemian circles. It has since become a mass phenomenon, the numbers of addicts having increased perhaps two thousandfold, to something like 250,000 to 300,000. And with the statistically insignificant exception of members of the popular culture elite, heroin addiction is heavily concentrated in areas of the country such as the one in which I worked.

Heroin addiction has been presented by officialdom as a bona fide disease that strikes people like, shall we say, rheumatoid arthritis. In the United States, the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction quite baldly as a chronic relapsing brain disease—and nothing else. I hesitate to say it, but this seems to me straightforwardly a lie, told to willing dupes in order to raise funds from the federal government.

Be that as it may, the impression has been assiduously created and peddled among the addicts that they are the helpless victims of something that is beyond their own control, which means that they need the technical assistance of what amounts to a substantial bureaucratic apparatus in order to overcome it. When heroin addicts just sentenced to imprisonment arrived, they said to me, “I would give up, doctor, if only I had the help.” What they meant by this was that they would give up heroin if some cure existed that could be administered to them that would by itself, without any resolution on their part, change their behavior. In this desire they appeared sincere—but at the same time they knew that such a cure did not exist, nor would most of them have agreed to take it if it did exist.

In fact, the whole basis of the supposed treatment for their supposed disease is rooted in lies and misconceptions. For example, research has shown that most addicts spend at least 18 months taking heroin intermittently before they become addicted. Nor are they ignorant while they take it intermittently of heroin’s addictive properties. In other words, they show considerable determination in becoming addicts: It is something, for whatever reason, that they want to become. It is something they do, rather than something that happens to them. Research has shown also that heroin addicts lead very busy lives one way or another—so busy, in fact, that there is no reason why they could not make an honest living if they so wished. Indeed, this has been known for a long time, for in the 1920s and 30s in America, morphine addicts for the most part made an honest living.

Withdrawal from opiates, the fearfulness of which, reiterated in film and book, is often given as one of the main reasons for not abandoning the habit, is in fact a pretty trivial condition, certainly by comparison with illnesses which most of us have experienced, or by comparison with withdrawal from other drugs. I have never heard an alcoholic say, for example, that he fears to give up alcohol because of delirium tremens—a genuinely dangerous medical condition, unlike withdrawal from heroin. Research has shown that medical treatment is not necessary for heroin addicts to abandon their habit and that many thousands do so without any medical intervention whatsoever.

In Britain at least, heroin addicts do not become criminals because they are addicted (and can raise funds to buy their drugs only by crime); those who take heroin and indulge in criminal behavior have almost always indulged in extensive criminal behavior before they were ever addicted. Criminality is a better predictor of addiction than is addiction of criminality.

In other words, all the bases upon which heroin addiction is treated as if it is something that happens to people rather than something that people do are false, and easily shown to be false. This is so whatever the latest neuro-scientific research may supposedly show.

I have taken the example of heroin addiction as emblematic of what, with some trepidation, I may call the dialectical relationship between the worldview of those at the bottom of society and the complementary worldview of what one might call the salvationist bureaucracy of the government. In the old Soviet Union there was a joke in which the workers would say to the party bosses, “We pretend to work and you pretend to pay us.” In the case of the heroin addicts, they might say, “We pretend to be ill, and you pretend to cure us.”

One of the possible dangers or consequences of such a charade is that it creates a state of dishonest dependency on the part of the addicts. They wait for salvation as Estragon and Vladimir wait for Godot in Samuel Beckett’s play; they wait for something that will never arrive, and that at least in some part of their mind they know will never arrive—but that officialdom persists in telling them will arrive someday.

Dishonest passivity and dependence combined with harmful activity becomes a pattern of life, and not just among drug addicts. I remember going into a single mother’s house one day. The house was owned by the local council; her rent was paid, and virtually everything that she owned, or that she and her children consumed, was paid for from public funds. I noticed that her back garden, which could have been pretty had she cared for it, was like a noxious rubbish heap. Why, I asked her, do you not clear it up for your children to play in? “I’ve asked the council many times to do it,” she replied. The council owned the property; it was therefore its duty to clear up the rubbish that she, the tenant, had allowed to accumulate there—and this despite what she knew to be the case, that the council would never do so! Better the rubbish should remain there than that she do what she considered to be the council’s duty. At the same time she knew perfectly well that she was capable of clearing the rubbish and had ample time to do so.

This is surely a very curious but destructive state of mind, and one that some politicians have unfortunately made it their interest to promote by promising secular salvation from relative poverty by means of redistribution. Whether by design or not, the state in England has smashed up all forms of social solidarity that are independent of it. This is not an English problem alone: In France the word solidarité, solidarity, has come to mean high taxation for redistribution by state officials to other parts of the population, which of course are neither grateful for the subventions nor find them sufficient to meet their dreams, and which are, in fact, partly responsible for their need for them in the first place. And not surprisingly, some of the money sticks to the hands of the redistributionist bureaucracy.

By a mixture of ideology and fiscal and social policies, the family has been systematically fractured and destroyed in England, at least in the lowest part of the society that, unfortunately, needs family solidarity the most. There are even, according to some researchers, fiscal and welfare incentives for parents at the lower economic reaches of society not to stay together.

Certainly the notions of dependence and independence have changed. I remember a population that was terrified of falling into dependence on the state, because such dependence, apart from being unpleasant in itself, signified personal failure and humiliation. But there has been an astonishing gestalt switch in my lifetime. Independence has now come to mean independence of the people to whom one is related and dependence on the state. Mothers would say to me that they were pleased to be independent, by which they meant independent of the fathers of their children—usually more than one—who in general were violent swine. Of course, the mothers knew them to be violent swine before they had children by them, but the question of whether a man would be a suitable father is no longer a question because there are no fathers: At best, though often also at worst, there are only stepfathers. The state would provide. In the new dispensation the state, as well as television, is father to the child.

A small change in locution illustrates a change in the character and conceptions of a people. When I started out as a doctor in the mid-1970s, those who received state benefits would say, “I receive my check on Friday.” Now people who receive such benefits say, “I get paid on Friday.” This is an important change. To have said that they received their check on Friday was a neutral way of putting it; to say that they get paid on Friday is to imply that they are receiving money in return for something. But what can that something be, since they do not appear to do anything of economic value to anyone else? It can only be existence itself: They are being paid to continue to exist, existence itself being their work.

It has been said that the lamentable state of affairs I have described has been brought about by the decline, inevitable as we now see it, of the kind of industry that once employed millions of unskilled workers, whose wages, though low by today’s standards, were nevertheless sufficient to sustain a stable, though again by today’s standards not rich, society. And I do not think that this view can be altogether dismissed. But it is far from the whole story. One of the curious features of England in the recent past is that it has consistently maintained very high levels of state-subsidized idleness while importing almost equivalent numbers of foreigners to do unskilled work.

Let me here interject something about the intellectual and moral corruption wrought by the state in recent years—and I don’t know whether it applies to America. The governments of Britain, of both political parties, managed to lessen the official rate of unemployment by the simple expedient of shifting people from the ranks of the unemployed to the ranks of the sick. This happened on such a huge scale that, by 2006—a year of economic boom, remember—the British welfare state had achieved the remarkable feat of producing more invalids than the First World War. But it is known that the majority of those invalids had no real disease. This feat, then, could have been achieved only by the willing corruption of the unemployed themselves—relieved from the necessity to seek work and relieved to have a slightly higher subvention—but also of the doctors who provided them with official certificates that they knew to be bogus. And the government was only too happy, for propaganda purposes, to connive at such large-scale fraud. One begins to see what Confucius meant when he said, 2,500 years ago, that the first thing to do to restore a state to health was to rectify the names—in other words, to call things by their right names rather than by euphemisms.

There are three reasons that I can think of why we imported foreign labor to do unskilled work while maintaining large numbers of unemployed people. The first is that we had destroyed all economic incentive for the latter to work. The second is that the foreigners were better in any case, because their character had not been rotted; they were often better educated—it is difficult to plumb the shallows of the British state educational system for children of the poorest homes—and had a much better work ethic. And the third was the rigidity of the housing market that made it so difficult for people to move around once they had been granted the local privilege of subsidized housing.

I will leave you with an anecdote. As Mao Tse-tung might have put it, one anecdote is worth a thousand abstractions.

I had been asked by the courts to examine a young woman, aged 18, who was accused of having attacked and injured her 90-year-old great-grandmother, with whom she lived, while under the influence of alcohol and cannabis. She had broken her great-grandmother’s femur, but fortunately it did not prove fatal. (Incidentally, the homicide rate, it is said, would be five times higher than it is if we used the same medical techniques as were used in 1960.) I asked the young woman in the course of my examination whether her mother had ever been in trouble with the police.

“Yes,” she replied.

“What for?” I asked.

“Well, she was on the social,” she said—“on the social” in English argot means receiving welfare payments—“and she was working.”

“What happened?” I asked. “She had to stop working.”

She said this as if it was so obvious that my question must be that of a mental defective. Work is for pocket money, the public dole is the means by which one lives.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the view from the bottom, at least in Britain: but it is a view that has been inculcated and promoted from the top.
“Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.


Forgotten, But Not Gone

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/10/16 at 12:00 AM

Modern man has avidly accepted the false philosophy that there is no objective truth in the non-physical fields.(Object truth means something is true regardless of our belief about it.)  But it is this non-physical world that distinguishes us from the animals; they live in a physical world and are guided by instinct. The mental world is reserved for man and refers to the areas of religion, politics, fine arts, music, law, among others, and, of course, thinking. With modern man there are no true or false ideas, no good or bad morals, no right or wrong pursuits. Everything is true or false according to his own perception, and no one can legitimately say he is wrong.

One of the negative consequences of this philosophy is the denial of personal sin. When is the last time you heard a sermon on sin? Frankly, I can’t remember one. After all, current thought says we are not really responsible for our “bad” actions because we are “victims” of environment, economics, race, neighborhoods, etc.

Although many people may reject or “pooh-pooh” the idea of serious sin, it is, nevertheless, alive and well, encompassing the entire world. The world is in the mess it is in because of sin. Situations get worse because of the refusal to acknowledge that faulty morality may play a significant role in the world’s seemingly insoluble problems. But to even acknowledge sin is to face the task of repentance. Many serious sins have mass appeal, so changing to a better moral code simply is not an option for many people. A problem not admitted or rationalized is a problem that will remain unsolved. Look around you!

There are consequences to this denial of sin because sin is real and its consequences are real – they exist. Look around you! Sin is really an irrational act. Habitual sin clouds the mind and prevents sensible thoughts about the situation one is in.

Serious sin always demands more. When one sin is not enough to satisfy, eventually 100 will not be enough to satisfy, and the sinner is trapped. He becomes a slave to his sin because it has become part of his mental operation. He loses sight of any of the worthwhile aspects of life because he is driven by the compulsion to sin.

Eventually he may become so hard-hearted that he becomes like a frenzied demon in his pursuit of evil. This could happen to anyone – and probably did to individuals like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, serial killers, etc. A habitual sinner is follower of Satan. You may say, “I don’t believe in that nonsense.”  Well, Satan believes in you, and he is readying you for his kingdom.

Habitual sin separates us from God who is the ultimate goal of human life. One who dies in the state of habitual serious sin cannot except to share eternity with anyone but those like him. There are no former habitual sinners in Heaven. Sin is a violation of divine law, and lawbreakers are not in favor with God. But, the sinner says, “God is so good that He would never consign a sinner to eternal Hell.” God does not consign anyone to Hell or Heaven; we consign ourselves. When we die, the time for repentance is over. Even the inexhaustible divine mercy is unavailable then because in eternity, there can be no change. Besides, when the sinner dies, he will instantly grasp what a fool he has been, but it will be too late.

Modern man has been seduced by the idea of instant gratification; he does not want to wait for anything. “I want it now” is his watchword. However, this is the way of a young child, and it is a sign of immaturity in adults or teens. Habitual sin is instant gratification run amok. Such a person cannot be serious about the serious issues of life because few of them are instantly gratified.

In the story of Adam and Eve, the focus is usually on the actual sin. If we look at the story more closely, we can see that there was a prior mistake: they fell for the idea that sin would make them equal to God. Every habitual sinner has fooled himself into thinking that he, like God, has the right to conduct himself according to his own wishes and desires. That never works, though, because God is God. And, we are not.

The concept of sin may  have been forgotten, but it is by no means gone. It may be forgotten in the sinner’s mind, but it is still as real as it ever was. What you believe about it, one way or the other, does not change the reality of its existence. If you think all this is nonsense, look around you, and tell me how well things are going.





Household of Faith: Now That We Are Catholic!

In 15 Audio on 2014/11/21 at 12:00 AM
Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss
Hosts Kristine Franklin and Rosalind Moss discuss the obstacles to conversion to Catholic Church by sharing their personal stories. Each brings a different perspective – Franklin from an evangelical background and Moss from a Jewish one – and deals with their former objections to Catholic doctrine.

Program Name

Audio File Name – Click to download



Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



Christ’s Church 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



Scripture and Tradition 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



What it means to be “born again” 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



Faith, Works, Grace and Salvation 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



The Mass 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



The Eucharist 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



The Gift of the Priesthood 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



The Papacy 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



The Communion of Saints 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



The Blessed Mother 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



The Catholic Understanding of Suffering 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss




Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



True Morality 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



Women in the Church 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss



Living Messengers – Light to the World 

Host – Kris Franklin and Rosalind Moss


<img alt=”DCSIMG” id=”DCSIMG” width=”1″ height=”1″ src=”http://host207.ewtn.com/dcse9jbqv1000086a2st7fxvz_4z7w/njs.gif?dcsuri=/nojavascript&WT.js=No&WT.tv=1.0.7″/&gt;


With All Due Respect…

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2014/01/24 at 12:00 AM

One of the seldom-mentioned causes or contributors to a society’s decline is the loss of civility, of politeness, of good manners.  Civility is one of those uniquely human traits that animals do not have. Civility is the lubricant of a society because it makes human interaction easier and more pleasant – and often more effective.

Part of the concept of civility or politeness is the idea of respect and reverence due to individuals or situations. Some people have earned respect because of what they have done in the past (war heroes). Some are accorded respect by virtue of their role in society (medical doctors). Reverence, however, really cannot be earned; it is offered to someone who deserves even more than respect because of the nature of the being involved (God).

Reverence and respect are  in decline in this country. The U.S. Senate calls itself the “greatest deliberative body in the world,” but its members are quite content to be known by nicknames . . . Chuck, Bill, Tom, Joe, Fred. This is true of all levels of government officials. I suspect it  makes them think they will be be perceived as just a “good ol’ boy.”  The approval rate for Congress and government, in general, does not seem to support that idea.

Another notable example of loss of respect has been perpetrated by feminists who demanded that women been seen as equal to men.  Since they were already superior in the important things concerning the human race, (marriage, family, nurture, compassion) they had to lower themselves to achieve this “equality.”  One of the sad effects of this is the diminution of the sense of chivalry toward women by many men. God did not make women equal to men, but then, God did not check in with Gloria Steinem.  Respect for both men and women is in serious decline in the US.

Worse than all those ill-conceived practices and others like them,  the greatest irreverence of all is the attitude which too many Catholics have when attending weekend Masses. The external practices of the Church have for many decades  indicated what some see as a clergy-approved loss of reverence for  worship . . . Holy Communion in the hand, standing to receive It, altar girls, the Blessed Sacrament shunted off to the side and not reverenced by the clergy.

The result of these practices is that too many Catholics do not know how to conduct themselves within the church building . . . or, worse, don’t care.

Thus, we have men at weekend Masses wearing T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops, children distracting the congregation all through the Mass with crying and noise, parents who refuse to use cry rooms, bulletin-reading during Mass, able-bodied people failing to genuflect upon reaching the pew. When I was child, the rule was silence in the church because you were in the presence of God, and He should be your entire focus (still true today).  Since 63% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence (of God in the Eucharist), there is little incentive to show reverence to a God who may or may not be there.

There is an attitude among some that just being in the church (no matter how you behave) is sufficient to be able to claim that you attended Mass.

What’s the big deal? Is not the church my father’s house.  No, your father’s house is where you live or lived. The Church is THE Father’s house . . . God THE Father. God is THE Creator.  He does not need a single thing that he has created, including us. The lesser owes reverence to the higher. We OWE as much reverence as we can show to God.  As creatures we OUGHT to reverence God, and the very “oughtness” of something creates an obligation. Failure to show reverence to God is a serious failure in faith.  One writer has said that missing Sunday Mass is worse than murder because murder rejects a fellow human while irreverence rejects God Himself.  If we refuse due worship to God, it will be that much easier to disrespect persons with whom we come into contact.

Thus, we, as creatures, have a need to show reverence to God as His creatures. It is a duty, not an option. To refuse due reverence is tantamount to declaring ourselves equal to God which is a hopelessly demented idea. It is better to know and acknowledge our place in relation to God and act accordingly. If nothing else, it is at least awareness of reality.

This failure of due reverence for God and the things of God has logical consequences. It was the Catholic vote that elected Clinton and Obama, neither one noted for respecting Catholic moral principles; many Catholics are pro-abortion; many are still demanding women’s ordination (more of the feminists’ equality chant) even though Blessed John Paul II declared once and for all it could not be done for doctrinal reasons.

Active persecution is going on all over the world. The form it takes here is the ACLU suing any government entity that dares mention religion in CHRISTIAN form; the assault on Christmas Nativity scenes; the silly use of “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” The US culture, the education establishment, the media and Federal government are all, in practice, anti-God.

We are already losing freedom because of government rules and regulations. These come when the society has lost its grip on truth and reality as ours has done. A society and/or leaders who disrespect truth tend to declare themselves to be omniscient and act accordingly, while heading for ultimate disaster.

Reverence for God while in the church building is pleasing to God; “reverence” for other people or things in place of God is not.  We should strive to make the better choice.

Bishop von Galen

In 11 Joanna Bogle on 2014/01/16 at 12:00 AM

Worth discovering…

…is the story of Bishop von Galen, the “Lion of Munster”, German patriot, passionate opponent of the Nazis, beautified in 2005. A letter arrived for me this weekend from America via Germany asking for information about him: the people in Munster who have cards and prayer-leaflets etc about him sent it on to me to ask me to deal with it so I could send some material in English. I was at the beatification in Rome – a powerfully moving occasion, as the newly-elected German successor of St Peter came at the end of Mass to speak to the (packed) congregation about this German hero son of the Church…
If you don’t know about the story, you can get the basics from this link, and there is lots more on the Internet both in English and in German, but I’m keen to write a booklet about him and get, for example, the CTS to publish it. Bishop von Galen became known for his courageous sermons against the horrible Nazi euthanasia campaign – but of equal interest are his denunciations of the history books that children were being made to use in school, which sneered at the Church and the role of Christianity in history, and his concern at the immoral messages they were getting from various official youth schemes. He urged parents to counter this by teaching the Faith at home and remaining loyal to the Church. Er…if this begins to sound familiar, then you will see why I think his life and work have a message for today.

Consequences, part II

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/12/07 at 7:11 AM

Another victim of the godless society is morality.  Traditional, rational, effective morality is replaced with contemporary cultural morality under the banner of freedom.  But only fools think freedom means doing whatever you wish.  Rational people know that true freedom lies in restraint.  An orchestra is free to play Mozart’s “Requiem”, but only if the musicians restrict themselves to Mozart’s score.  Otherwise, the “music” would be nothing but a noisy cacophony.  In our society, restraint is not very popular; instant gratification seems to be the watchword.  And the results?  An epidemic of sexually-transmitted diseases.   (According to government statistics), illegitimate births in the 40% range, insatiable appetite for illegal drugs, etc.  Read your newspaper for a week and add up the departures from traditional morality.  The bottom line is that a society without a rational moral law simply cannot ultimately survive.  Whether we believe it or not, God has put into humans a natural sense of morality i.e. what is right and what is wrong, and when it is rejected moral chaos follows and we are living in it (this does not mean that every person is immoral merely that temper of the times).

A further loss is the loss of objective goodness.  Humans and angels are the only creatures with free will by which they can make choices for good or evil.  The will is designed by the Creator to seek what is good (even a criminal thinks his crimes are good for him at least for the moment.)  Thus, a distortion can arise in the concept of what is good and what is evil.  The prophet Isaiah warned against declaring the good to be evil and the evil to be good.  Ex. Bible reading in schools, Nativity scenes at Christmas are now considered evil by some while same-sex “marriage” (a raging contradiction) is now in some circles considered good, as is abortion, euthanasia, sexual license.  Since objective evil is usually more attractive than moral good, evil becomes more and more acceptable within the society.  In the 2012 elections voters in three states approved same-sex “marriage” which is contrary to truth, reason and goodness because we have treated civil rights as a quasi religion, and in this case “civil rights” trumped divine law.  When a society no longer labels evil as evil, a kind of social insanity develops.   When evil is thought to be good, and good to be evil, we no longer have a longer functioning society.

Can we escape the consequences of many decades of bad idea, philosophies, and attitudes?  Societal decline is a very gradual erosion, and those living during the decline, especially if they are helping to precipitate it, do not notice it day by day or even year by year.  Then too, decline is not a popular subject.  To admit decline means we must admit faults, and to admit faults suggests some kind of repentance.  History is not kind to declining societies; it tells us that no declining society has ever reversed course.  Is there a solution?  Yes…becoming wise and realizing that one’s most important relationship is the one with God,  (as He really is not as we think He ought to be).  If you have a valid relationship, the day of your death will be the most important day of your life.  If you have no true relationship with God, the day of your death will be your worse day.  As Christ said: “What doth it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his soul?”  In other words, time is short; eternity is long…very, very long.

A Trilogy of the Unreal: Part 3 – The Reality of Evil

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/07/28 at 9:09 AM

There are those who contend that the U.S. has become awash in sin, corruption and evil of all kinds. They can offer rather convincing statistics to support their belief. They cite the high abortion rate (55 million), the billion-dollar pornography industry, the high numbers of illegitimate births and the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases and more.

There are even more who contend that there is nothing wrong and that those who do “evil” are not immoral at all, but are merely exercising their free choice to determine for themselves what their personal moral code will be. (Can a society survive without objective moral codes?)

Why do we call evil “evil?” It is the opposite of good and in order to call anything evil, we must be familiar with a standard of goodness. If we did not know what was morally good, we could never judge anything to be morally evil because there would be no standard of comparison. The only absolute standard of goodness is God and His moral law which binds all humans to obedience whether they believe it or like it or not. When an action or a series of actions violates the natural moral law, it is considered to be evil or sinful.

A problem arises when a society rejects God, at least in practice as has American society. The standard of moral goodness is changed from the infallible God to fellow human beings in various positions of power: legislators, judges, media. They tend to set the standard based usually on personal and subjective preferences. Those who do not like the restrictions of divine law to begin with easily succumb to the lure of evil now described as a good, or at least no longer evil. (None of this changes God’s mind at all.)

Machiavelli, the author of “The Prince”, taught that humans were basically evil in action and intent. Jean Jacques Rousseau, the French “philosopher”, taught that people are all basically good and that society corrupts them . . . forgetting that a society is composed of people.  St. Paul called men sinners, but he did not say they were evil. The Church teachers that, because of Original Sin, man has a tendency to sin and evil and does fall, but is not per se evil because there is the possibility of forgiveness for the repentant. Evil does not seek forgiveness because real evil sees nothing to be forgiven for because it does not see its evil actions as evil.

There is an objective standard of moral goodness and moral evil (sin). This is imposed by the Creator and its validity and force does not depend on human acceptance of the standards. This is the standard by which all humans will be judged. Too many people think they are free to change divine law to suit themselves. The Supreme Court attempted this in Roe vs Wade. The problem is that God did not agree. A city council cannot change state law and a state cannot change federal law, and humans cannot change divine law . . . even though they attempt to do rather frequently.

The safest course is to strive to be on God’s side if for no other reason that no human or group of humans has even a scintilla of divine intelligence. Why follow the ignorant and weak? “Right is still right even if no one is right and wrong is still wrong even if every one is wrong.”

The choice is ours, choosing human “wisdom” because it appeals to us is at least risky. Choosing divine wisdom is not always to our liking, but it will keep us on the right road. And only the right road will reach the destination.

Holy Boldness: The Big Success of Evangelical Christianity.

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/07/13 at 12:57 AM

Evangelical Christians like to do things in a big, bold way.

The evangelical Promise Keeper movement gathers men by the thousands to praise God in stadium conferences, and more than 3.5 million men have done so since 1991.

The Southern Baptist True Love Waits campaign has led some 2.4 million young people to sign cards pledging that they will save sex for marriage, which they have stacked to the roof of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and used to blanket the National Mall.

Even Sunday services are a big, bold affair for evangelicals. Some 17,000 souls worship each weekend at the Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, and that’s just one of an estimated 842 American megachurches that attract at least 2,000 weekly attendants.

Evangelical Christians make up the largest group in American Protestantism, and one quarter to one third of Americans are evangelicals. They are a group known for their boldness in proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ and their commitment to biblical morality. As the results of a recent pollsuggest, the boldness of evangelical Christianity goes a long way toward explaining its bigness.

Pollsters from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research studied more than 1,600 evangelicals — Christians who identify themselves as fundamentalist, evangelical, charismatic, Pentecostal, or born-again Protestants. The survey, which was commissioned by PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and U.S. News & World Report, gauged evangelical opinions on a host of political and social issues.

Pollsters found that three quarters of evangelicals believe they are part of mainstream society, and about the same percentage believe they have had at least some influence on society. But they don’t necessarily feel at home there. About three quarters of white evangelicals believe they must “fight to have their voices heard by the American mainstream” and say the mass media are hostile to their moral and spiritual values. Almost half believe that most Americans look down on them.

The siege mentality of evangelicals stems from the clash between their traditional religious values and those of the popular culture. On everything from same-sex marriage to abortion to church attendance, evangelicals tend to be more conservative than other Americans. And white evangelicals — who constitute three quarters of all evangelicals — are particularly conservative, which may explain why they feel particularly besieged.

Consider the hot-button issues of today’s culture wars: Some 85 percent of white evangelicals oppose same-sex marriage, compared to 61 percent of all Americans. Two thirds of them think abortion should be illegal, versus 45 percent of the general population.

Even church attendance is a dividing line between evangelicals and mainstream America. More than 70 percent of white evangelicals and 63 percent of black evangelicals say they attend church at least once a week, as compared to about 40 percent of all Americans.

Yet evangelicals are not alone in their concern about America’s soul. Seven out of ten evangelicals are very worried that children are not learning values and respect, and three out of four white evangelicals and more than nine out of ten African-American evangelicals say “America’s moral values are on the wrong track.” As it turns out, most Americans agree. Nearly two-thirds worry about the values children are learning, and more than 70 percent think we’re on the wrong track.

And therein lies the secret of evangelicalism’s success.

As more Americans sense that something is wrong with our culture, more are attracted to the holy boldness of evangelical Christianity — and to traditional religion in general. Catholic parishes and Orthodox churches that proclaim the Christian message with the same boldness are experiencing similar success. And for decades now, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism have seen a steady influx of “Baal Teshuvah” or “masters of return” — formerly secular Jews who found in traditional religion a community and connection to God that they could not find in secular society.

2000 study conducted by the Glenmary Research Center and sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies confirmed this trend: It found that the fastest-growing congregations in America between 1990 and 2000 were socially conservative churches that demanded high commitment from their members. The study also found liberal churches, like the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Church of Christ, hemorrhaging members at the fastest rate.

In a decadent culture, the demands of traditional morality appeal. In a sea of pluralism, the clarity of orthodoxy attracts. Religious leaders should keep that in mind when they are tempted to dilute their theology and soften its demands in order to reach more souls. To attract the postmodern pilgrim, it seems, holy boldness is a better choice.

National Review Online

 — Colleen Carroll Campbell is is a former speechwriter to President George W. Bush and author of The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy.


Catholics’ Disregard of Teaching Does Not Make It Untrue

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/05/10 at 11:13 AM


Q:Pope Benedict XVI and Catholic Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke both recently characterized voting as a moral act with spiritual consequences. The pope said that “decriminalizing abortion is a betrayal to democracy,” (http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1004432.htm) since he believes the procedure denies rights to the unborn.  Burke called voting a “serious moral obligation” and added that Catholics “can never vote for someone who favors absolutely what’s called the ‘right to choice.'” (http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=8095)

If Catholics largely disregard the church’s teaching (the 2008 Catholic vote for president went to pro-choice Obama), does what the pope says matter? Is voting a religious act or purely political? (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/catholics-turned-to-the-democrat/)

Political contests have a moral character because they have moral consequences. And a citizen’s religious worldview necessarily guides the choices he makes in the voting booth, whether he is conscious of it or not.

We have become accustomed in recent decades to divorcing politics from morality and denouncing as a theocrat anyone who suggests that our faith should inform our political views. The result is what the late Rev. Richard John Neuhaus called “the naked public square”: a sanitized space where political arguments are unwelcome if they spring from religious conviction, appeals to once self-evident truths are neither embraced nor challenged but reflexively dismissed as mere opinion, and debates about life’s most fundamental questions are ruled out of bounds before they can begin. In the naked public square, the division between faith and reason, God and man, private truth and the public ethic is absolute and impermeable. 

Part of the rationale behind this naked public square is a desire to rid our public square of religious conflicts, to privatize religion and therefore render it irrelevant to political debates about how we ought to order our life together. The privatization of religion buys us a measure of peace and quiet in the short-term, but it also prevents the most fundamental form of deliberation necessary to the functioning of a democracy: honest debates about right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood. 

These debates need not be explicitly sectarian, but they are always essentially religious, because they are about questions of ultimate meaning. What else, after all, is at the core of our disputes about abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, physician-assisted suicide, and same-sex marriage? Such disagreements arise from competing ideas about the value of human life, the meaning of human sexuality, and whether and how we can know moral truth. Even those who claim no religious affiliation or belief in any moral absolutes belie their own self-proclaimed neutrality when they insist on the rightness of their position and on the adoption of laws that reflect their own laissez-faire or morally relativistic views. 

No one comes to the public square without an agenda, a set of values, and a worldview. Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke are simply calling on members of their flock to bring their Catholic worldview to bear on their voting decisions. They are asking Catholics to follow Church teaching by prioritizing the human person’s inalienable right to life over prudential concerns about the best way to manage the economy, reform health care or address immigration.

This is not a new challenge. The U.S. bishops have issued it repeatedly, as in their 1998 statement, “Living the Gospel of Life,” where they identified opposition to abortion and euthanasia as the indispensable foundation of efforts to build a culture of life and noted that “being ‘right'” on other issues “can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life.”

In the case of Pope Benedict, he is calling for the same prioritization he called for in 2004, when he answered a request for guidance from Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick with these words:

“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. …While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

That many Catholics disregard this teaching does not change its validity or importance, any more than the fact that many Catholics skip Sunday Mass nullifies their duty to observe the Sabbath. It is simply a reminder that American Catholics, like Americans in many religious traditions, have a long way to go when it comes to connecting the faith they profess with the decisions they make beyond church walls.

Washington Post, November 2, 2010  

Colleen Carroll Campbell is author of “The New Faithful,” an ex-presidential speechwriter, op-ed columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and host of “Faith & Culture,” a TV and radio show on EWTN.


And the Blind Shall Lead

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/04/27 at 9:11 AM

The problem with false philosophies (false ideas) is that they are . . . false.  As a result they cannot be ultimately successful in their goals.  The reason they are false or erroneous is that they do not deal with reality.  Whatever philosophies or sets of ideas refuse to acknowledge objective reality are doomed from the outset.

One of the chief reasons the world is in such chaos, when no problems seem to be able to be solved, is that it is awash in false ideas and has been for a long time:  Nazism, fascism, secularism, communism, extreme environmentalism, hedonism, religious indifferentism (all religions are equal), atheism and more.  False philosophies originally have some appeal because the false element attracts certain followers, but eventually, and inevitably, their basic errors will be revealed.  For example, extreme environmentalism teaches that planet earth is totally under human control and is, thus, a denial of Divine Providence.  Humans who cannot even accurately predict weather assume that it is up to them to regulate the earth’s temperatures.  Again, a lack of reality.

How do we know or at least suspect that some ideas are false?

What does the philosophy say about God?  God is the ultimate reality in the universe and in human lives. When a philosophy derides, ignores, rejects, passes over or does not deem God very important in life, it is a false philosophy because it ignores reality.  (Remember, reality is what it is even if you have a different idea about it.) Secularism is a dominant philosophy is the U.S. And Europe. This set of beliefs teaches that religion is, at best, a purely personal activity such as a hobby and , therefore, is irrelevant to public life.  (God did not  design man to be a secularist.)  The government at all levels, education and the media are hotbeds of secular philosophy and aren’t they shining examples of dealing with reality?  The philosopher Voltaire said that man will be ruled by God or he will be ruled by tyrants. The government is tyrannical in its incompetence, the schools are tyrannical in their decades-long drive to de-educate for reality, and the media is tyrannical in its manipulation of facts  to produce ideological “news.”  Without a realistic attitude toward  God, false philosophies begin as bad judgments about what is truth and ultimately fail as did Communism.

What does the philosophy say about morality.  Man has a moral aspect that animals do not have.  The most vicious animal never sins because he has no moral sense.  Man is aware of the idea of moral right and wrong.  Real morality is based on the Natural Law (“Do good; avoid evil,” a law implanted in the human mind, that comes from God) and valid human thinking.  Moral rules can be distorted, ejected, ignored or distorted.  Judge Robert Bork was denied a seat of the Supreme Court because he said the Natural Law was part of reality, and anything based on God is not popular in the U.S. nowadays.

If a philosophy advocates or justifies what used to be called sin, it should be deemed a false philosophy.  The current agitation about same-sex “marriage” is a case in point.  Thousands of years of human experience are to be rejected in favor of unrealistic and unnatural alliances.  It’s not a matter of freedom and equality; it’s about reality. Have humans been wrong about marriage until the last few decades?  A set of ideas that allows abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research must be judged to be a false philosophy, and those who support them must adjudged to be in error.  More than 55,000,000 unborn babies have been killed in the U.S. because 7 members of the Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution unrealistically.

What does the philosophy say about man?  Sacred Scripture (which has been proven many times to be authentic) tells us that humans are the most important beings on earth because we have an eternal destiny.  No other creature does.  Moreover, man has the potential to be an adopted child of God and to live for all eternity with God . . . or without Him.

A philosophy that does not incorporate the dignity of man into its belief system will not be able to deal with man realistically or effectively.  If man is not a child of God, he becomes automatically a child of the state which cares nothing about the human soul.

This can ultimately lead to totalitarianism in varying degrees.  There are those who warn that Americans are losing their freedom because of coercive government rules and regulations.  I took care of my health insurance for years without Obamacare.  Why do he and his cronies assume they can do a better job?  (They can’t.)

Some secularists see man as no more significant than a fly (speciesism).  If we are no more significant than an amoeba, it becomes logical to “live it up” before you die.

The problem with that world view is that those who believe it are just wrong.  Man has been a religious being from the beginning even if he believed in false gods.

One could add other criteria for determining false philosophies, but any false set of ideas will include at least one (and probably all) of the above.  False philosophies have no hope of delivering what they offer because they start out in unreality.  But many people are swept up in these false ideas and a false idea is still false regardless of how many fans it has.  There will come a last moment for all of us.  If you have followed the blindness of false philosophies, your last moment will be unpleasant . . . if you are even aware of your status.

Let us remember the lament of the lost sinner: “The past has deceived me, the present torments me, and the future terrifies me.”