Caveat Emptor! by Monsignor Ferrarese

It is amazing how Latin phrases still haunt our modernity! Not only are they used often in the medical profession and in law but even in everyday life. Take the Latin phrase: Caveat Emptor. The usual English translation of this is ‘Let the buyer beware’. Even as far back as the Roman Empire, sellers have not always been honest with consumers. The Better Business Bureau is constantly chasing down unreal claims and fraudulent packaging labels that try to cheat the consumer. The collective wisdom is it is better to beware before you buy it.

One has to have a similar attitude with the plethora of attempts to influence our opinions, attitudes and beliefs. Strident voices are all around us claiming that they are telling us the truth. We have always had the influence of TV, the movies, newspapers, etc. They mask their subjective opinions with the claim that they are telling us the truth, the “facts”. But added to this cacophony of voices is the immense number of attempts online to do the same: podcasts, YouTube videos, email blasts, texts, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Everyone has an opinion they believe is the truth and they want to convince you of it.

Those who have had experience with the arbiters of what we are served in the media warn that there is a similar world view that possesses and informs these men and women. It has no place for a god, its values are merely utilitarian (whatever works) and they are committed to propagating their way of seeing to everyone. They use their powerful methods and tools to insinuate their foundational principals (often without knowing that they are doing that).

They look down on religious faith, especially Christian faith, ascribing to faith all the results of past injustices. They do this without looking at the facts. For example: it was the atheistic regimes of the 20th century (Nazism, Soviet Communism, Mao and Chinese Communism, Pol Pot and the Killing Fields, etc.) that created wars and genocide. It is atheism which foments the evils that kill. As Dostoyevsky predicted: “When there is no God, all is permitted.”

These ‘Shamans of Popular Culture’ characterize the religious response to life as being an evil that must be stamped out. Mind you, they do not do this overtly but subtly. They use words like ‘justice’ to fill the hearts and minds of even children with the lies that this life is all that is, that there are no objective norms, and that God is a thing of the unenlightened past. They say that they follow ‘science’, which is but a study of God’s creation.

This is an unacknowledged blindness and prejudice on the part of the intelligentsia. If one did an honest survey of the people who set the philosophical preconditions that cause some things to be ‘weird’ and somethings to be ‘cool’, one would find that the vast majority of these shapers of the cultural landscape are very educated, non-believing-in-God secularists. Don’t look for them in Church, Mosque, or Synagogue.

Those who do not share these preconditions will not be found among them. It is a closed society of like-minded people who wield the power of opinion in universities, media and government who have a habit of censuring those who believe otherwise.

The religious person (especially Christians) is seen to be uneducated, prone to violence, a bigot and not to be trusted.

No one admits that the whole ‘American Experiment’ was a religious undertaking, made by professed Christians eager to make room for believers from other faiths. The present antipathy to religious people is a product of the French Revolution, the Atheistic Communist bias, and a host of other accidental and minor situations which built up a world view that forms the zeitgeist of films, debates, TV and other propagators of culture.

What do we do? What can we do?

We cannot become like the Amish and try to keep ourselves and our children from modernity. In this day and age, you just cannot do this unless you retreat to a cave and become a solitary hermit. While this may be ultimately the better choice, in that the Church sees this vocation as a pinnacle of prayer, there has to be another way to engage society’s culture by taking what is good in it and trying to correct what is in error.

I think the first step is to help our children be intelligently critical regarding what they watch on TV and what their time on the computer or smartphones produces. This requires honest discussion and the active engagement of parents into what is being fed to their children. Even cartoons can contain messages to the children that secretly affect their stance to reality and others. The important thing is to be aware and vigilant for the coded messages on media that may cause serious problems for the future of our children, and even ourselves.

While ‘follow your dream’ may sound safe, it could lead to young people pursuing unreal and unproductive avenues of education and life experiences, which at best are wastes of time and at worst could harm permanently the future of our young people.

Caveat Emptor!

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