Sometimes there is a drastic turn in history. No one usually sees it coming, but when it arrives, everyone claims to have thought it would emerge.
When I think back to the 50’s, there was a post-War consensus among Americans and a respect for the wisdom of our way of governing, born of tradition and history.
We must be careful about romanticizing the past for it was also the era of segregation and McCarthy-type blacklisting. But putting some of these important exceptions aside, it seemed to have been an era of cohesion. Even the Church was as it has always been for centuries. God and Country were intact and there was agreement on most issues.
The 60’s completely destroyed any semblance of continuity. It was the age of Aquarius and ‘all you needed was love’. Even the Church ushered in a Council that shook the Institution that was ‘semper idem’ (always the same). Change has continued at a breakneck speed.
I sometimes share with our kids in school what it was like growing up in the 50’s. They look at me like I was a cave man! They are so used to change. They question every institution and every assured verity with a modern skepticism that seems particularly strange on a 10-year-old!
We now have evolved (devolved?) into a country divided. Some of the issues that caused the Civil War are still burning hot. Will we ever get beyond them?
In addition, there is a kind of totalitarianism regarding the words we use. One must be very careful what we say and how we say it. One misstep and the word police will descend on you. No matter who you are, you can be ‘canceled’ in an instant, which means that your right to a public life is ended. Even further: you never existed. So, every reminder of you must be taken down and the memory of you must be erased.
Is it any wonder that so few people want to run for office and writers must pore over the texts they write to make sure that nothing even thoughtlessly is uttered that someone may find objectionable? It is getting to feel a little like Nazi Germany or a Soviet-era communist country where a word badly placed could mean a long stay in a camp or in Siberia!
Recently it became a big no-no to use words like husband, wife, brother or sister in the House of Representatives. They were considered too gender specific by the thought police. This hunt for ‘linguistic nonconformists’ is just part of this emotionally heightened and tense time.
Families have been often split along political party lines. Politics was always a dangerous subject to broach. But this danger has accelerated.
People are also very impatient when anything religious is brought up. Sure, here at Immac that is not a problem. But we are in a sort of ‘permissive bubble’. Films only address religious themes as a negative. Religion has been relegated to the private sphere. It no longer seems to belong in the public square. This is particularly odd since Religion, and specifically Christianity, has produced much of our whole Western Civilization.
As Christians what should we do with the new environment spawned by a nihilistic philosophy and a puritanical witch hunt mentality?
Yes, it is that simple. We are called to love. First God, then one another. This is what defeated the powerful Roman Empire. This is what built Western Civilization. This is what will defeat these demonic forces unleashed unknowingly by people who thought that they were doing the right thing. It is the story of the Frankenstein Monster all over again.
Our Faith is the strongest force on earth and when we express it in love and forgiveness, justice and compassion, we defeat the Devil from within and cause him to flee before us.
A vibrant faith is what gives staying power to love. Christian love can change this sorry world where we have advanced so far in technology but have regressed in terms of the human spirit. We have made ‘Science’ a god, forgetful that Science has given us not just vaccines but also nuclear weapons. Science unguided by faith and wisdom can also become a monster.
Our call now is to grow in faith. To live the Bible and not just to read it. To become a Sacrament, not just receive one. To adore the Living God and believe in Jesus Christ. For God has made us in His image and likeness (Genesis); and in the Incarnation has called us into the Divine Milieu of the Community of the Triune God.
We have nothing to fear.