Friday, November 9, 2012
Vortex: The Lost Culture War
In case you missed yesterday's Vortex, here it is, with the script below (my emphases).
What can faithful followers of Jesus Christ take away from Obama’s resounding victory?
For starters, the Culture War is lost. Let’s face it: plain and simple; it’s over. But there has been an underlying problem present from the beginning with the Culture Wars.
The problem has been the strategy that many in the flock have viewed the conflict as one which needs to be played out in the political arena. Wrong!
Politics is the process by which the will of the people is expressed. As a matter of routine, laws can’t be passed which go against the will of the people – or if they are, the people must get something back in exchange before they will allow such a law to remain.
So laws are the EXPRESSION of the WILL of a nation, not the MEANS by which that will is changed. That’s why, 40 years later, abortions are still the most common surgery performed in the United States.
The word CULTURE comes from the word CULT which in its original sense refers to how a people govern themselves and live their lives in society with each other according to their religious perceptions.
When you view our current Culture from this point of view, you now see how the Culture War has been lost. It was, in fact, lost before it ever began – because of the struggle with religion that has been present in America from its inception.
And that struggle has been two fold.
First, religion means different things to different people – it is a very malleable term.
Second, some people have no regard for religion at all, no matter what flavor we are talking about.
Americans have skipped along for centuries now, blissfully ignoring both of these inherent problems. But, as with any serious problem, ignoring it or not recognizing its severity has proved to be our undoing – like ignoring the smell of smoke in your own house.
To say that such a thing as “religious freedom” exists and then not define your terms is a VERY dangerous proposition.
For example, does it mean the PHYSICAL freedom to practice your religion unencumbered by the state? You know…as in: the government can’t pass a law and the police can’t arrest and throw you in jail for going to church, temple, or mosque? That’s what happens under Communism and other totalitarian states. Is that what it means?
Or does it mean that a person is free to explore various faiths and religions and then – over and above that – free to choose which creed they will follow?
The first is an external freedom. The second is an internal freedom – a freedom of conscience. Which idea is meant by “religious freedom”? Are both meant?
And so far, we have been talking about the individual. What about the government?
If the government is the expression of the will of the people, and [if] a majority of the people subscribe to a set of religious beliefs which support abortion, same-sex marriage, and other evils, [then] can the government really be expected to protect the “rights” of those in a religious minority?
The heart of the problem is not the understanding of the concept of freedom, but the understanding of religion. Religion – all religions – make dogmatic claims – even those which say “there are no dogmatic claims” make that claim dogmatically.
So when a society admits into itself the notion that all religions – with their competing claims – are all equally valid and should be able to be freely chosen, then of course you’re gonna have big trouble.
And the source of the trouble is that “error” has been established as something that people are free to choose – have a right to choose. Now, if a society wants to accept that, then well and good. If that’s how they choose to order themselves, perfectly fine; just don’t be surprised when the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.
Because we as a nation have placed such emphasis on freedom – but looked the other way and whistled past the graveyard when it comes to the competing claims of religions – we have now inherited the situation where the idea of objective truth is no longer considered.
America’s demise – as is every nation’s ultimately – was present in her founding documents, [with] the idea that people have a constitutional right which should be protected to choose the wrong.
It is unfathomable to pretend that in such an environment, error – philosophical and theological – would not spread like a cancer. And the more free the people are to choose it, the more they will.
And they will choose it in ever-growing numbers until a critical mass is reached where more will choose it than not; and when that crossroads is reached , a culture – remember, rooted in religious perceptions – a culture will begin to collapse.
And ultimately – ironically – one error that will be whole-heartedly embraced stemming from the notion of religious freedom is that there should be no religious freedom – at least when it comes to SOME religions.
In fact, when it comes to religions which say some activities are immoral and intrinsically evil, such religions will receive at first a societal and eventually a governmental condemnation for their intolerance toward all OTHER religious propositions.
The Catholic Church is America has played footsie with the religious freedom doctrine for too long. While many leaders have been content to talk about ecumenism and seek after dialog with others and express tolerance for this or that, they have forgotten two key points.
One: the Catholic Church is not just another voice at the table. It is the one and only Faith established by Jesus Christ the Son of God. It has pre-eminence, not parity.
Two: many other voices at that table – [which] too many leaders covet a seat at – want the Church’s teachings expunged from the culture. A presumption of good will is one thing; blissful naïveté with regard to your knife-wielding enemies is quite another.
50 percent of American Catholic voters voted against their own Church this week. Why? Because they have heard nothing for 50 years from that Church except that it is unexceptional; no big deal; just one voice among many which is worth a hearing, but at the end of the day, you decide.
Such is the result of religious freedom: eventually enough people use their religious freedom to throw off the binds of religion and become irreligious. Then they go to the polls and vote in leaders who will make laws advancing intrinsic evils.
There was never a national discussion had – ever – over which religion is right and why. And as a result the nation is now on its way to being – like so many other nations – a chapter in some future history book.
BUT…this discussion not only CAN be had in the Church; it must be. There are still people of good will in whom the truth of the Church rings; they must be reached and talked with.
Truth must be preached and discussed – Catholic truth, not the pabulum the faithful have had to endure for the past half-century. That pabulum has wrought the end of an cultural empire which, had Catholics in America played their cards right, could be a mighty force for good in the world today.
Instead we are sorting around the rubble, wondering what happened to our families – why they don’t believe in God in any meaningful sense; why they are divorced; why their sons have no fathers; and so on.
Freedom with Truth in the intellect and grace in the soul will always end up looking like this. It’s time to begin again, Catholics…time to begin again. The Culture war was NEVER winnable. What we need is a religious war… spiritual warfare… a Church Militant.