Sunday 11 December 2022

A War on Reality (3)

In the first two posts of this series, I suggested that our society's view of human sexuality, as reflected in the trans and homosexual worldviews, is profoundly counter-factual. Further, people accept (or at least acquiesce to) the trans illogicalities because they have previously accepted the homosexual assumptions and claims. 

Looking at our culture as a whole, there are many reasons that has happened: the influence of the universities and their sex research departments (largely filled with abnormal people - that is, people who are not normal in their sexual appetites and behaviours); the complicity of many heterosexual people because they want to feel better about their own sexual sins; the onslaught of pornography enabled by the internet; the malign strategies of the Frankfurt School and the Yogyakarta gathering, and so on.

But I am particularly interested in the Catholic collapse. We are called to be the salt and the light, a sign of contradiction: and yet we host LGBTQ+ Masses, teach our children that gay is good and 'made in the image of God,' and are called to 'enlarge our tent' to include... well everyone, regardless of their adherence to the Gospel.

How did this come about?

Again, it is a complex picture. We seem to have lost our understanding of our Faith, our conviction that we should share it with the world, and our confidence to do so.

These are all interlinked, but I think it is our understanding that is most fundamental. And in particular our understanding of sin.

I am told that in the bad old days (certainly before my memories begin in the 60s) priests used to preach sermons about hell fire and sin all the time, and give an unbalanced and fearful account of the Faith to the people. That, if it were indeed the case, is clearly wrong. But the reaction has been an over-reaction: we never hear about sin or hell now. Generations of children have been raised with no understanding of this: yet it was clearly very much alive to Our Lord's mind.

And its lack leads to serious theological problems.

In particular, I am thinking here about the doctrine of Original Sin, and the seriousness of personal sin.

To take Original Sin first. I ask you consider when you last heard a sermon that even referenced Original Sin. Yes, it can be a bit tricky to understand and to explain, but it is fundamental to our understanding of our situation, and the redemption that Christ achieved for us. Without it, the whole Catholic metaphysic falls apart. See Romans 5, and the Catechism §385 ff.

In particular, it is a failure to understand Original Sin and its very real consequences, that leads people to believe rubbish such as that 'gay people are born that way in the image of God.' I say rubbish, because it is. By that logic, we would not treat children born with life-threatening conditions, because they 'are born that way in the image of God.' Further, the evidence suggests that 'born that way' is not true either. 

But we shy away from the idea of Original Sin, as it is countercultural and uncomfortable.  And for the same reasons, we minimise the gravity of personal sin. Rather than recognise that a mortal sin is literally that, death to our soul, worthy of eternal punishment, we prefer to think of it as a minor failing, and that the worst thing we could possibly do is feel guilty about it. 

There are several causes of that, I think. One is liturgical: the shift from the transcendence of the traditional liturgy to the immanence of the new; Our Lord is our friend now, and friends overlook each others' failings...   Again, the logic is poor: Our Lord is indeed our friend, but he is also Our Lord! (and notice the preference for using the Holy Name rather than a title, such as Our Lord) And further, He is too good a friend to overlook our failings, for that is not true friendship.

I am not arguing against immanence, of course: the Word became flesh, and dwelt amongst us. Ours is an incarnational Faith. But as ever, heresy is found in stressing one part of the truth to the detriment of another; and that is the risk of 'We are the Easter people.'  We are indeed; but only if we are also the Good Friday people: we are explicitly commanded to take up our cross if we would follow Him. And in the imitation of Christ, we are bound to treat sin, death and judgement as seriously as He does.

Again, I ask you to reflect: when did you hear of the Four Last Things from the pulpit (or ambo as I suppose I am meant to say nowadays...); or the vital (quite literally) importance of the Sacrament of Confession? How dare we traipse up to Holy Communion, week after week, without first confessing our sins and gaining sacramental absolution? Yet that is the pattern for the vast majority of practicing Catholics. That is why I think the balance has tipped too far towards immanence.

And then there's the Devil.

How often do you hear him referred to?  And yet Our Lord was very clear about him, and was clearly engaged in a battle with him. If he does not figure in our understanding of reality, then we are deluded.  Our Lord refers to him as the Prince of this World (eg in John 14:30). One of the results of Adam's sin is to give him real power - a power that accounts for much of the evil in the world; which, along with concupiscence, helps us to understand how we may have disorders in our inclinations that are not wholly our fault.

But we don't like to think about, and still less talk about, the Devil.

Yet that is why I have called this series of posts A War on Reality, for it is the Devil's war. And I will write more on that aspect in the next post in this series.