Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Quickies: Safety In Reality

     This is a sort of continuation of the previous piece, as you’ll see in just a moment.

     A number of persons of outsized ego and shrunken humility have derided me for my attachment to my faith. You know all the standard denigrations: “imaginary friend,” “too weak to do without the crutch of religion,” “victim of indoctrination,” and so forth. It rolls off my back, of course. They can no more prove the veracity of their faiths than I can prove the veracity of mine – and mine has all the advantages:

  • A sound, life-affirming ethos;
  • A worldwide following of over two billion believers;
  • Written accounts that testify to the life, teachings, and deeds of its Founder;
  • And two thousand years’ testimony to the willingness of Christians to die rather than deny Him.

     But what struck me most powerfully today, while I waited with my fellow parishioners for the Mass to begin, was that each and every person in that gathering accepted and acknowledged reality:

  • Not one of them would demand to be acknowledged as something he isn’t;
  • Not one of them would demand exemptions from the laws that bind the rest of us;
  • Not one of them would tolerate the imposition of any au courant lunacy upon himself.

     In that gathering, reality prevailed, and allegiance to reality was safe. The same could be said of any gathering of sincere Christians.

     They who scoff at our “imaginary friend” could learn from that.

     I have a mountain of work to do today, so I’ll wrap this up quickly.

     Ayn Rand noted in Atlas Shrugged that those who seek power over us are most interested in attaining power over our minds: the power to force us to deny the reality perceived by our senses. In this she was following, though perhaps unknowingly, in the train of George Orwell:

     The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth's centre. With the feeling that he was speaking to O'Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important axiom, he wrote:
     Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

     It should trouble militant atheists – a group that unfortunately includes the majority of Rand’s devotees – that Christian believers, whatever our interdenominational differences, are the peoples most likely to acknowledge and accept reality. But then, the militant atheist tends to overlook an important aspect of faith: An adult accepts faith only as a voluntary operation of the mind:

     "What has the typical response to indoctrination been, Father? What percentage of the children that have passed through parochial schools remain communicants as adults? Do we really need any other explanation for why the schools are closing down at such a rate?"
     The priest grinned without humor. "Don't you think the property tax situation might have had something to do with it, Louis? To say nothing of the problems the Church has had with zoning boards all over the country?"
     Louis shook his head. "That's nothing new. The American Church has faced those forces for three centuries. It's only in the last fifty years that our numbers have diminished this way. And we're mostly to blame for it."
     He scowled. "It was always a mistake, you know. Religion isn't for children, and to impose it on them by force has never been to anyone's greater good. As society has secularized, the resentments over that practice have been free to come out into the open. Is the Church better off for all these claims of the physical and emotional abuse of children by priests and nuns, even if every last one of them were eventually disproved? Are Catholics better off?"

     [From On Broken Wings]

     And among such persons is found the most reliable safety from the rampaging lunacies of our time.


Unknown said...

Yeah, I know you must get lots of scoffers and intelligrunts, Francis... but you got lots of us guys and girls, too. When they attack me, I consider it all glory, because they didn't have the courage to make THE choice. I even claim credit for bringing some of them back from the abyss. Of course, that was from something they saw 'in' me, not of me. I have more to say on these subjects, but will be busy reading some sci-fi I have recently discovered.

Ron Olson said...

Well said. You bring up something that totally escaped my notice. Thank you.

Dystopic said...

Is a man who removes his genitals a woman? Is a white man a black woman? Does two plus two equal five? Are one in five women going to be raped while at college? By white guys? Is the rape rate of a college campus worse than Somalia? I could go on and on about the truisms that are denied, and the freedom to state otherwise which has been taken from us.

We are in the twilight, now. And darkness is coming. I can type this, I can think this. That freedom remains to us. But our livelihood, our good names, our reputations... they can be taken from us by not submitting our will to that of The Party. But our lives remain, still.

How soon, then, will we find ourselves in a room, as Winston did, where we are made to say that there are five lights when there are really four? Where two plus two is five. Where "cisgender" is a pathology? Where women are men, and helldumper bullies are victims of harassment?

Anonymous said...

"We are in the twilight, now. And darkness is coming."
That right there is the most accurate and cogent comment I've read in decades... and it breaks my heart. No one abhors war more than the warrior. And it is inevitable, as is its brutish, loud, and ugly - and final - conclusion. I pray for us all... reading here and elsewhere, I realize this is still in many ways the home of the brave.
It will need to be.
- Grandpa