Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What I Love About Catholicism: It Names Evil #Catholic #tcot #sgp

If you really dig into the precepts of Catholicism, you will see absolutes. There is such a thing as good and evil, sin, redemption, mercy, forgiveness, and judgement. Jesus Christ, dying for the sin of mankind, hanging on a cross of wood - was the most profound and awe-full image of absolutism the world had ever witnessed. Never since and never will there be such a message of clear and defining truth.

It is this absolutism that I appreciate within Catholicism. However, there have been evil forces at work during the years I was gone. These forces have been subtle at times, and during others, overt; as they seek to destroy Truth. I am not afraid to name evil for what it is, for evil to me is whatever raises a hand against Almighty God and declares itself superior.

I experienced part of that evil within my Catholic school system. Some may say, "Come, now. Aren't you being a little overly dramatic? It may have been bad, but... evil?" Yes. Evil. When you don't teach students that there is a right and a wrong so that they lack the tools necessary to choose good; because they've been taught that to choose that good is somehow wrong -- that is evil.

I read with interest an article by Fr. James V. Schall, Professor of Political Philosophy at Georgetown University. In "The Rise of Cross-less Catholicism," he said:

Cardinal Pell's remarks recalled an e-mail from a man I do not know. He teaches in a Catholic high school and was assigned a summer school course. He chose to offer one on C. S. Lewis and Tolkien – surely worthy topics – and sent in a prospectus to the program director. The response was that his outline included too many "negative" things, like "good vs. evil, vice and virtue, honor and shame." The students would not react well to such harsh concepts.

I was "terrified," as I told the man, that students could not face the most basic of Christian truths at a Catholic school. But it is true that what are called the "negative" elements in Christianity are seldom heard in our schools or universities anymore.

Redemption, it seems, has nothing to do with one's personal sins or deeds. The students are "upset" by core doctrines, or at least teachers think they are. "Don't upset the students" becomes censorship. No doubt ways of presenting such doctrines can be excessive, but I suspect that is a rare problem today.

Faith is thus transformed into a social movement. That is where we deal with the "negative" things: We work against bad causes to make the world "better" through judicious selection of movements that "do good." We do not need to attend to ourselves. We do not like to know that our thoughts and deeds have anything to do with something that transcends the going political correctness in the local culture.

Diversity teaches that whatever anyone does is all right. Multiculturalism teaches that if such is the way they do it in Baluchistan, it must be great everywhere. The only "sin" is that of prejudice. Prejudice means that you acknowledge a truth, but you have no problems with anything anyone does. Our moral world has just about accepted every classical vice as a virtue. We fear that we will be against something because it is "evil."

I like this: We work against bad causes to make the world "better" through judicious selection of movements that "do good." We do not need to attend to ourselves. We do not like to know that our thoughts and deeds have anything to do with something that transcends the going political correctness in the local culture. How completely correct! How often do we see people aligning themselves with one cause or another "to make the world a better place" but yet fail to see their own sin as contributing to its failings?

Engaging in promiscuous sex is seen as a "right," even though it often leads to disease and unwanted pregnancies. But that freedom is celebrated and paraded in our society as an entitlement. Meanwhile, overlook the far-reaching ramifications of such behavior, which include healthcare costs, abortion, or unwanted children who grow up to be unproductive members of society because their immature parents could not love their children and rear them in a healthy environment. Overlook how promiscuous sex can damage a woman's psyche and cause her to be depressed. Overlook how such a lifestyle caters to self-centeredness and the exploitation of others.

This is the evil that must be exposed to students. The only way for it to be exposed is for students to learn what true goodness is. There must be a comparison but I fear such teaching methods are fading, if not fallen by the wayside altogether. If you're over the age of 40, perhaps you remember this during school examinations: Compare and contrast... That exercise molded my mind well so that as I grew older, I continued to view arguments from different angles. In essence, I learned how to think. Students aren't being taught how to think, anymore. They're being taught how to submit to mob rule.

Bear with me as I seemingly go off tangent, but I'll circle back.

Not everything is "right." It's the same irritation I feel when someone wants to call "everything" art. No. Michelangelo Buonorrati's Sistine Chapel and breath-taking David is art. Some numbskull nailing a bunch of old Converse sneakers to a wall in a pretentious gallery, is not. The former is a creation of skill, artistic principle, and inspiration. The latter is a pathetic attempt to do something stupid and masquerade itself as brilliant. Few places are the playground of Emperors Without Clothes, as the art world.

When you call something as silly and mundane as a sneaker show, "art" - what does that mean for something like Michelangelo's creations? It robs those creations of their grandeur, their transformative power, the ability to amaze their viewer. I don't care what anyone else says, art, as it was intended and inspired by the Divine, the Creator Himself; was meant to elevate our souls.

It is this effort to minimize the true purpose of art that is seen within the attempt to minimize the true impact of good vs. evil in the world. Once the lies start to take hold, truth dies. The students in classrooms today are being taught that it is wrong to discern differences, to make judgements between right and wrong because after all, "what's right for me may not be right for you." Enough of this hogwash. It is time to stand up to these mealy-mouthed, brainless wimps and proclaim loudly the truth: That there is such a thing as moral absolutism and there is such a thing as evil. There is such a thing as God and He punishes evil. If they don't like it, too bad. We can't continue to allow them to destroy our children because they can't face the truth.

This truth should be taught in our Catholic schools and universities. Sadly, it looks like it is not. I remembered noticing moral relativism creeping into my own all-girls Catholic high school in the late seventies. We were taught about contraception in biology class. The teacher carefully said, "I am not teaching you whether you should use this or not. I am only teaching you that it exists." So I learned of the diaphragm, the sponge, and the Pill; all the while thinking, I wonder if this is right? Where was the religious teacher at the time, telling us why sexual relations should be contained within a sacramental marriage, and why it was important to obey and trust God?

So teachers didn't want to teach what was right. Meanwhile, as I sat at my desk, something in me snapped. Somehow I knew instinctively there was such a thing as right and wrong and I needed adults to step up to the plate and tell me. Thank God I had strong parents and a pretty wise extended-family that communicated these principles to me. I shudder to think of what would have happened to me if I had not had this firm foundation. As much pain as I've had in my life, it is miniscule to the amount I suspect I would have had without wise and loving parents. The beauty of God is that He reaches down and shows everyone the truth if they seek it. He has saved the most wretched of us from certain damnation because He loves us so much.

Meanwhile, we have to watch out for our youth. We cannot assume they are learning the truth within their schools -- whether that is a Catholic school or public school. Because if they're not learning the truth, they are simply being led into bondage.

1 comment:

kkollwitz said...

Fr Schall's title likely refers to a quote by Richard Niebuhr, which critiques a naive view of human goodness:

"A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross."