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Posts Tagged ‘Social Decline’

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.

 

 

 

 

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Consequences, part I

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/12/07 at 7:14 AM

People like to speculate.  They like to imagine what life would be like under different circumstances.  ” What if I won an eight figure lottery?”  “What would it be like to vacation in Tahiti?” “What would it be like to ride in a space ship?” Some have even wondered what life would be like without God.  Ah! We do not have to speculate about this; we are living in reality.  The Western World (which used to be called Christendom) has, in effect, rejected and/or ignored God.  The movers and shakers have declared themselves to be God by their actions or omissions.  The problem is that humans, according to divine plan, cannot reject or ignore God without bringing on themselves calamitous consequences.

The first consequence is the loss of the idea of truth in intellectual and spiritual areas.  God is the source and standard of truth.  When we reject or ignore divine truth, we are left with human opinion which is only as reliable as the facts and the intellect of the opiner.  Thus we end up living in a chaos of non-truths, half-truths, distorted truths, bias truths and other errors.  The very concept of objective truth is not even considered.  This is American society today…awash in opinions based on nothing but subjective ideas which one may or may not follow according to one’s own likes and dislikes.  Divine truth is certain truth; human “truth” replacing it is always grossly deficient.  Divine truth is a permanent and stable guide.  Human truth has no foundation beyond the human mind and can and does change with the culture.  No human truth is sure or lasting.  What is called true today may be declared false tomorrow and vice versa.

The corresponding consequence is the loss of the ability to think logically and rationally.  Without objective truth as a guide, conclusions drawn may be invalid. We fail to see the logical, but inevitable results of poor thinking.  The pro-abortion philosophy is based supposedly on women’s health, but in reality it means freedom from an inconvenience.  In the future, what other “inconvenient” might some want to get rid off?  The elderly? (already in the works by Obamacare).  The chronically ill?  The retarded?  The homosexual community is pushing for same-sex “marriage” under the guise of equality and civil rights.  Once the law declares that marriage is not solely between a man and a woman, then logically you can “marry” anyone or anything.  Illogical thinking leads to bad judgments, errors, mistakes, failure, etc.  These negative effects will remain until corrected or forever if they cannot be corrected.

We also lose wisdom.  Wisdom is not knowledge, but it is related to it.  Wisdom is the understanding, evaluation,  appreciation and implenentation  of values based on knowledge.  In other words, wisdom is knowing what is important, and this is impossible without truth and right thinking.  The psalmist tells us that awe of God is the beginning of wisdom.  How can those who have no relationship to God ever find real wisdom?  The wise person knows and acts upon what is truly important in life.  We cannot solve our societal problems because defective thinking prevents it.  Problems can be solved only by dealing with the cause.  Yet, the bureaucrats of public education seem to think that the answer to all their problems is more money.  But money is not the cause of education problems; therefore, more and more money is spent with little or no effect.  (The real cause lies in the false philosophies which are used to “guide” the public schools.)  Politicians also think that more money will solve anything, yet, it rarely does.  There are rules of right thinking and they must be followed or the results will be defective.  Right thinking is not accidental.

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.

Living within the Truth – Part II

In 03 Archbishop Charles Chaput on 2011/09/03 at 1:11 AM

Before I talk about these two falsehoods, we should pause a moment to think about the meaning of history.

History is not simply about learning facts. History is a form of memory, and memory is a foundation stone of self-identity. Facts are useless without a context of meaning. The unique genius and meaning of Western civilization cannot be understood without the 20 centuries of Christian context in which they developed. A people who do not know their history, do not know themselves. They are a people doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past because they cannot see what the present — which always flowers out of the past — requires of them.

People who forget who they are can be much more easily manipulated. This was dramatized famously in Orwell’s image of the “memory hole” in his novel 1984. Today, the history of the Church and the legacy of Western Christianity are being pushed down the memory hole. This is the first lie that we need to face.

Downplaying the West’s Christian past is sometimes done with the best intentions, from a desire to promote peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic society. But more frequently it’s done to marginalize Christians and to neutralize the Church’s public witness.

The Church needs to name and fight this lie. To be a European or an American is to be heir to a profound Christian synthesis of Greek philosophy and art, Roman law, and biblical truth. This synthesis gave rise to the Christian humanism that undergirds all of Western civilization.

On this point, we might remember the German Lutheran scholar and pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He wrote these words in the months leading up to his arrest by the Gestapo in 1943: “The unity of the West is not an idea but a historical reality, of which the sole foundation is Christ.”

Our societies in the West are Christian by birth, and their survival depends on the endurance of Christian values. Our core principles and political institutions are based, in large measure, on the morality of the Gospel and the Christian vision of man and government. We are talking here not only about Christian theology or religious ideas. We are talking about the moorings of our societies — representative government and the separation of powers; freedom of religion and conscience; and most importantly, the dignity of the human person.

This truth about the essential unity of the West has a corollary, as Bonhoeffer also observed: Take away Christ and you remove the only reliable foundation for our values, institutions and way of life.

That means we cannot dispense with our history out of some superficial concern over offending our non-Christian neighbors. Notwithstanding the chatter of the “new atheists” there is no risk that Christianity will ever be forced upon people anywhere in the West. The only “confessional states” in the world today are those ruled by Islamist or atheist dictatorships — regimes that have rejected the Christian West’s belief in individual rights and the balance of powers.

I would argue that the defense of Western ideals is the only protection that we and our neighbors have against a descent into new forms of repression — whether it might be at the hands of extremist Islam or secularist technocrats.

But indifference to our Christian past contributes to indifference about defending our values and institutions in the present. And this brings me to the second big lie by which we live today — the lie that there is no unchanging truth.

Relativism is now the civil religion and public philosophy of the West. Again, the arguments made for this viewpoint can seem persuasive. Given the pluralism of the modern world, it might seem to make sense that society should want to affirm that no one individual or group has a monopoly on truth; that what one person considers to be good and desirable another may not; and that all cultures and religions should be respected as equally valid.

In practice, however, we see that without a belief in fixed moral principles and transcendent truths, our political institutions and language become instruments in the service of a new barbarism. In the name of tolerance we come to tolerate the cruelest intolerance; respect for other cultures comes to dictate disparagement of our own; the teaching of “live and let live” justifies the strong living at the expense of the weak.

This diagnosis helps us understand one of the foundational injustices in the West today — the crime of abortion.

I realize that the abortion license is a matter of current law in almost every nation in the West. In some cases, this license reflects the will of the majority and is enforced through legal and democratic means. And I’m aware that many people, even in the Church, find it strange that we Catholics in America still make the sanctity of unborn life so central to our public witness.

Let me tell you why I believe abortion is the crucial issue of our age.

First, because abortion, too, is about living within the truth. The right to life is the foundation of every other human right. If that right is not inviolate, then no right can be guaranteed.

Or to put it more bluntly: Homicide is homicide, no matter how small the victim.

Here’s another truth that many persons in the Church have not yet fully reckoned: The defense of newborn and preborn life has been a central element of Catholic identity since the Apostolic Age.

I’ll say that again: From the earliest days of the Church, to be Catholic has meant refusing in any way to participate in the crime of abortion — either by seeking an abortion, performing one, or making this crime possible through actions or inactions in the political or judicial realm. More than that, being Catholic has meant crying out against all that offends the sanctity and dignity of life as it has been revealed by Jesus Christ.

The evidence can be found in the earliest documents of Church history. In our day — when the sanctity of life is threatened not only by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, but also by embryonic research and eugenic temptations to eliminate the weak, the disabled and the infirm elderly — this aspect of Catholic identity becomes even more vital to our discipleship.

My point in mentioning abortion is this: Its widespread acceptance in the West shows us that without a grounding in God or a higher truth, our democratic institutions can very easily become weapons against our own human dignity.

Our most cherished values cannot be defended by reason alone, or simply for their own sake. They have no self-sustaining or “internal” justification.

There is no inherently logical or utilitarian reason why society should respect the rights of the human person. There is even less reason for recognizing the rights of those whose lives impose burdens on others, as is the case with the child in the womb, the terminally ill, or the physically or mentally disabled.

If human rights do not come from God, then they devolve to the arbitrary conventions of men and women. The state exists to defend the rights of man and to promote his flourishing. The state can never be the source of those rights. When the state arrogates to itself that power, even a democracy can become totalitarian.

What is legalized abortion but a form of intimate violence that clothes itself in democracy? The will to power of the strong is given the force of law to kill the weak.

That is where we are heading in the West today. And we’ve been there before. Slovaks and many other Central and Eastern Europeans have lived through it.

I suggested earlier that the Church’s religious liberty is under assault today in ways not seen since the Nazi and Communist eras. I believe we are now in the position to better understand why.

Writing in the 1960s, Richard Weaver, an American scholar and social philosopher, said: “I am absolutely convinced that relativism must eventually lead to a regime of force.”

He was right. There is a kind of “inner logic” that leads relativism to repression.

This explains the paradox of how Western societies can preach tolerance and diversity while aggressively undermining and penalizing Catholic life. The dogma of tolerance cannot tolerate the Church’s belief that some ideas and behaviors should not be tolerated because they dehumanize us. The dogma that all truths are relative cannot allow the thought that some truths might not be.

The Catholic beliefs that most deeply irritate the orthodoxies of the West are those concerning abortion, sexuality and the marriage of man and woman. This is no accident. These Christian beliefs express the truth about human fertility, meaning and destiny.

These truths are subversive in a world that would have us believe that God is not necessary and that human life has no inherent nature or purpose. Thus the Church must be punished because, despite all the sins and weaknesses of her people, she is still the bride of Jesus Christ; still a source of beauty, meaning and hope that refuses to die — and still the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order.

“Now Let’s Not Be Judgmental!”

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2011/05/14 at 10:00 PM

How many times have we heard this or something like it. When someone says this, it is a signal to cease all conversation or discussion about a particular topic because something “offensive” might be said.

The ability to make judgments is a function of the human intellect. No other creature has this gift. There are two kinds of judgments. The first is external and objective which enables us to evaluate actions or ideas from the viewpoint of the five senses, or from a historical perspective or from past  experience.  We make these judgments routinely when we decide whether something is good or bad, wise or unwise, necessary or unnecessary, moral or immoral. Christ Himself gave guidance for these kinds of judgments when he said that we could judge something by its fruits, by its effects. He made such judgments often…when He cursed the fig tree, when He called Herod a fox, when he dispersed the money-changers.

The other type of judgment is subjective and internal. This occurs when someone declares that another person is a sinner, or that Bin Laden is in Hell, or that so and so is heading for Hell. Such judgments are not within our mental competence. We simply do not know how anyone stands in the sight of God. He is the “scrutator cordium”, the searcher of hearts and He alone knows how guilty we are or are not. Thus this kind of judgment is never allowable.  It is this kind of judgment that Christ warns us about when he tells us not to judge others. (Many erroneously use this verse to avoid all intellectual judgments.)

The modern problem with judgments does not lie in the physical or earthly realm; it lies in the spiritual realm. Thus no one objects to passing judgments on sports teams, restaurants, customer service, autos etc… But, when the topic is religion and morality, negative judgments are not wanted, even if thy are objectively true. One’s personal view of religion and morality (or lack of it) are considered to be sacrosanct and no one has the right to object on any grounds, not even logical grounds. Thus if someone equates Christianity with Islam, and many do simply because both religions worship one deity (not the same God, but a single God). Thus contradictions are quite acceptable in this attitude. The Christian who says God is a triune God  is no more right than the Moslem who claims a unitarian god.

This attitude or philosophy clouds our rational judgment. Reason rejects contradictions, but some, for the sake of “being nice” will accept all kinds of nonsense just to avoid “offending” someone. The result is a mishmash of conflicting ideas and a society wandering in a labyrinth of uncertainty and doubt.

The failure to be judgmental when it is called for means that the person who holds the objectively false idea can never be corrected. He is seen to be better off left in his error than that to be offended. (If he is offended, he might resist and come to hear valid objections to his position.)

Failure to express reservation about false ideas also means that a person is not given a better alternative and perhaps has  lost an opportunity to improve his religious or moral practice in accord with divine Revelation.

Objectively speaking, those who insist on living out their false philosophies are not living in accordance with God’s plan for the human race. We don’t have the option of rejecting God without consequences. Our free will allows us to so, but there will be consequences. Too many people today have  forgotten (if they ever knew) that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Modern man has remade God in is own image so that God is a “good ol’ boy” who severest reprimand is “Tsk, tsk”.  God is what He is whether we believe it or not, like it or not, act accordingly or not. If someone needs correcting, do it graciously and with Christian love.

In the words of St. Augustine…”Our hearts were made for thee,   O, Lord, and they will not rest until they rest in Thee.”

It requires effective and rational judgment to reach that place of rest.