I Am A Sinner
About a year ago I wrote a commentary on the current social moral order called, “Cultural Atheism and The Death of The West.” This is a response to one of the comments I received. I was not aware that the piece had any comments at all. I apologize for not responding in a timely manner.There is quite a bit to unpack, so I have broken his comment down into sections in which I respond to his question, or statement.
Question: In the spirit of open debate. How are we to know you are not damaged?
Response: I am damaged. I am the worst sinner I know. We are all damaged to varying degrees because of the fallen state of man. Whether you accept the pretense of the fall in the garden, or not, if one cannot recognize that one’s self is inclined towards things that are not good for the self, or others necessarily, then that person will lead a very hard life. I am inclined to stay in a state of Grace as much as possible. I frequent confession as much as I can.
Question: In your closing you stated “These poor souls, addicted, brain damaged, and increasingly programming themselves to continue in the downward spiral are truly not fit by their own evolutionary faith.” Where have you been given the moral authority to make this assessment?
Response: I am also a poor soul, and in much need of prayers. I am glad you brought this point up because something is in grave need of clarification. I am in no way judging any individual on their internal moral standing with God. I am observing the general actions of society, the rejection of the Church and her Bride Jesus Christ. This results in a judgement based on those external actions compared to God’s Law. Specifically, that moral authority comes from Jesus, when He gave that same authority to Peter with the Keys to Heaven, and to the other apostles as well in the form of forgiving, or retaining sins. The Church, which has been granted the same authority Jesus had, expects me to preach the Truth of Love through actions. I must use the talents God gave me to point to the Truth. I would be a coward otherwise.
Faith and Reason
Further, I am grateful for your courage to ask the difficult questions. I am well aware that this answer may not suffice to someone that does not believe in dogma. I myself believe that the Logos made Himself Truly manifest as the second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ. He did this because He does in fact love us. My Faith is based not on pure blindness, but also on reason. The Church believes in the use of both Faith and reason. Either one standing alone is a grave error. Thus, my authority to speak on the morality of the West comes from Faith and reason. Part of my reasoning is based on well respected scholars in academia that have confirmed that documents such Ignatius of Antioch’s letters, Polycarp’s letters, and Just Martyrs works are in fact legitimate historical documents. This is further evidence to support the historical Jesus than evidence for someone like Alexander the Great, and other well known historical figures. We also have the writings of the historian Josephus on Jesus and the fall of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD.
I am well aware that even with the historical evidence, I am still accepting on Faith that Jesus is in fact who He said He was. The Logos. The Son of God in the flesh.
A Thought Experiment
Another example of reasoning is based on the actions of early Catholics. One can reason that Early Christians, the first apostles included, were willing to suffer and die for a belief which essentially outlines eternal joy. However, this religion also made heavy demands on the early Catholics to carry their cross. Catholics can not give into certain illegitimate pleasures. This task of keeping oneself pure, confessing, being humble, and in many cases being butchered as a martyr seems very unreasonable, unless the miracles that converted the pagans were real. Let’s conduct a thought experiment. Let us suppose I walk into a rowdy bar one evening where all kinds of drinking, drug use, and impure behavior is taking place. I stand up on the table and I yell that everyone should knock it off right now, or they will go to hell. In absence of a miracle to prove my point, I would be thrown out of the bar, and probably beaten for good measure by people that are of an equivalent mindset of the very pagans that were converted in Rome. A good Priest I know gave just this example.
Scientific Confirmation and Conversion
A final and more definitive example of why it is reasonable to believe is because of the Eucharistic miracle in Lanciano, Italy. Then over one thousand years later the example of the Eucharistic miracle in Poland. The Eucharist, otherwise known as what appears to be bread and wine after Consecration, is in fact really the body and blood of Jesus Christ made truly present for us to become one with Him.This is taken on Faith, but God knows that the weakness of our own state of being will prevent us from seeing this Truth. Doubting Thomas needed to put his fingers into Christ’s wounds before he would believe. Jesus has done no less for us modern men. Thus, the scientific study conducted by highly skeptical, atheist scientists identified that both sets of DNA from these two separate events were exact matches. This lead to at least one scientist’s decision to leave atheism behind and become Catholic. I am aware for most people this is still not enough evidence, through reason, to explain where I get my authority to make such a general judgement on society, but I would simply ask them a question in return. Where do you get your authority to make judgments on the moral standing of other individuals’ actions, and your own? If one is honest with the self, that is a difficult question to answer.
The Founding Fathers Are Not Impeccable
Question: I am a Pagan I believe in our country’s preamble to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Where is it written that to pursue pleasure is a satanic act?
Response: I don’t personally grant any sense of infallibility, and impeccability to the founding fathers of the United States. Although some of Christendom’s principles were retained regarding some laws when the founders created the Constitution they failed to recognize all of God’s Law and authority. Obviously, you can’t murder even though some find it pleasurable, and pursue that very act for their own pleasure. These sets of moreys go back to the Greeks and elsewhere in various civilizations, but these ideas were certainly vastly improved on by Christendom. I consider this lack of clarification on religion, and morality to be one of the Founding Father’s biggest mistakes, and one that will lead to the downfall of this nation. Other scholars of that time in the University system, protestant and Catholic alike agreed with that opinion.
Error Has No Rights
Question: Are you asserting that life is misery and suffering and that only by understanding that can we be spiritually free?
Response: No. That is another heresy Catholicism had to deal with when converting pagans. Pleasure is something we derive from an act, or thought. That act, or thought has to meet right reason. Right reason consists of following certain moral principles laid out by the Church God gave authority to. If I engage in the marital act with my wife in order to be united with her in Love, and to produce children that meets right reason. Even if the act is solely for the unitive purpose because we know she is not at a time of month where she will bear a child it still meets right reason. If we choose to avoid pregnancy using NFP because of some dire circumstances the Church has explained, we are still using right reason. If I go seek pleasure in another woman, destroy my family and the hearts of my children this does not meet right reason. If I eat three pieces of cake a day this does not meet right reason. If I eat one small piece a day, enjoy that pleasure, and do not continue to indulge, it meets right reason. God wants us to have pleasure, but just as science has also shown regarding the human brain, the pleasure center over indulged will lead to serious problems. I am sure you know individuals you might have judged to be selfish. What is it that makes them this way?
Statement: If so I believe you are headed towards the Buddhist school of thought.
Response: Some Buddhism does overlap with the Catholic Faith, but the more correct way of saying it would be that Buddhism is correct in some aspects, and wrong in many others. The most obvious being that you can’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps spiritually because this in itself is an act of pride relying on self. You must ask for the help of something outside of yourself. This is precisely why we see certain archetypes in some of the literature I am sure you have read.
Question: Also you state in your article ” This is best demonstrated by simply suggesting that, perhaps, God does exist. Maybe, just maybe, there might be some evidence for that. ” Which would squarely put these people in the camp of agnosticism.
Response: I am not saying they are agnostic. The point is that there is typically an anger response rather than a reasoned response. Perhaps they claim atheism, but quietly are agnostic and this is the reason for that emotional lashing out. I am aware of the difference. The general premise of this article is that practically speaking most people behave like someone that would truly manifest atheism brought to its logical conclusion philosophically. That being, I am my moral authority, and those morals can change on a dime to suit my whim. Thus, we have the idea of moral relativism which is expressed on some spectrum by many individuals within society.
Statement: Agnostics are not moral relativist. They are people who have chosen to believe much like I have that dogma is not the answer. Dogma in itself is what separates the religions. ( I realize that is merely a statement of fact.)
Response: Agnostics certainly are moral relativists. By choosing to believe what you believe to be correct morally, based on your own thoughts, or even the thoughts of other men is moral relativism from the view of Christ’s Church. You may live your life by a certain code of conduct, and even manage not to flip on a dime, but from Christ’s lens the rejection of some His Laws is moral relativism. Jung, for example, has some good ideas, but to follow a man that claimed just to be a man as a moral authority seems like a mistake. The same could be said about my own set of beliefs given Jesus was not who He said He was. I do believe He is in Fact the Logos made manifest. This is where the very authority comes from that gives me the ability to say I am not the one that is the moral relativist. Further, dogma must exist for the idea of moral relativism to exist outside of a culturally subjective form, because otherwise there is no constant to compare relativistic thought to in its absence. The Faith in the Law we were handed from Moses came from the Trinity. Moses never said this is the Law I created, or this is my Law. He said it was the Law God gave him. Jesus further points out in the New Testament that the Pharisees themselves do not believe that Moses wrote the Old Testament. If they had believed they would have lead their lives very differently. It can thus be said that the Pharisees were morally relativistic as well. They followed the letter of the Law for their own gain, but not the heart of the Law. I am well aware of the general definition of moral relativism being subjective based on one being a part of a particular culture, but that is clearly not what I am speaking about here. Further, I have listed reasonable criteria to believe the Catholic Church has this authority.
Statement: It is my personal belief that Carl Jung was the most correct when he assigned archetypes to the great humanistic experience. This is to understand that God (which I refer to as the universal energy or spirit) Appears different to all individuals egos based on their current residence in the space time continuum. Meaning the more time and experiences you actually have in this universe the greater your difference of opinion about what God truly is will be from your contemporaries. Agnostics that find a belief in a higher power are not satanist. The only reject dogma in a logical search for a personal contact with a living holy spirit which is the creator or architect of the universe.
Response: “Any that reject Jesus Christ and His Church are the first born of satan.” This paraphrase was said by some of the early Church Fathers. That does not necessarily mean that someone engaged in the honest exploration of the Truth is the first born of Satan. For example we would never say that about Saint Augustine on his journey to grasp at the Truth honestly. Surely he was a sinful man like anyone else, but that reference would never be used because he converted. There are many other cases like his, but someone that knows precisely what the Church teaches has been a witness to the Truth of Love in its fullness. If they continue to openly rejected it, they are in fact in Satan’s camp whether they like to admit it to themselves, or not. I don’t say this out of false charity, but out of Love. I know I am correct for other reasons as well.
Specifically, when I read the ten commandments and works like that of Thomas Aquinas I know that by following God’s Laws that it is the greatest expression of God’s Love in the world. I see how breaking that Law is for my pleasure, and how that doing the opposite of those Commandments causes someone else pain. The Church and Scripture further break down those Ten Commandments into their nuanced components that are missed by many that claim to be Christian. There are many things that are actually sinful which are a part of those Ten Commandments that many people miss without the guidance of the Church.
In short, my pleasure, which does not meet right reason, will cause myself, or another person’s pain. Some people may consider it arrogant to tell others how they should consider living their lives. However, if you find yourself on the opposite side of a Christian trying to explain their Faith, and possibly charitably correcting you, of all people, consider two things. One, it is incredibly difficult to actually explain to someone else how they should live their life because you are terrified of the typical reaction you know you are going to receive. You will not win any popularity contests, and find yourself quite friendless. Two, if someone really considers themselves a Christian look at it from Penn’s perspective from comic duo, “Penn and Teller.” Penn says you should be offended if a Christian does not approach you and nicely tell you about their Faith. In light of what they supposedly believe it means they don’t really care about you, and could hardly really be considered a Christian. His exact words were, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?”
The fact is I know the Faith I hold to, and the authority it carries comes with a cross for each individual. Jesus said if we were to follow Him we must pick up our cross. He even said if we love our parents, wives, or children more than Him, which means loving them more than His Law, we are not fit for His Kingdom. You see, if we don’t love His Law first, we can’t really love them because we are not being honest. It is a false love we show. A going a long to get along mentality. Sometimes the most difficult aspect of following Christ’s Way is charitably correcting our own family when we know the reaction will not be good no matter how nice we are about it.
Choosing to be Catholic is not easy. It makes serious demands, and it takes a lot of courage to constantly assess your interior motives. It takes further courage to explain the Truth to others. Christ’s authority was rejected as well, and He was crucified. How many souls could someone as sinful as myself possibly convince, if Jesus Himself was put to death by the crowd? I expect nothing less for myself.
I am a fallen human being myself, in need of Communion and confession because even though I see this Truth, I still need God’s help to live it, so please pray for me brothers and sisters. God bless.
Source: Professor Mark Thornhill granted permission to run his cartoon via email.