Thursday, November 29, 2012

Secular Mindsets

Earlier this month, we posted a bit about the terror that Catholicism instills in secularists and why their professed fears are really just absurdities. It's very easy to think that this fear is grounded solely on the fact that the Church lays out some behavioral standards that a lot of people just aren't willing to accept. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'll bet that far more people leave the Church due to their personal groin-centric issues than anything to do with the abuse scandal or a war on women. Is the "code of conduct" really the reason people are afraid of the Church, though?

There is an old cliche, one echoed many times throughout the realms of comics and sci-fi/fantasy, that people fear what they don't understand. I think this is precisely why secularists, including those within the Church, fear Her so much.

I think that the modern, secular mind cannot comprehend a religious view of the world, especially a Catholic one that includes the sort of submission to hierarchy like we see to the bishops and the Pope. Our society is one that promotes individual choice on everything from morality to convenience. Notions of the common good are fit in this mold as well (much to the apparent delight of Fr. Jenkins), with the path of least resistance held as sacrosanct, which is why abortion and contraception are so popular. That someone could submit their intellect and will to propositions that entail sacrifice and hardship, rather than ease and convenience, is unfathomable to the secularists.

Martyrdom has no place in such an ethos. When you hear people in the US praising a person who dies for a higher cause, what is that higher cause? Typically, they'll say freedom. Freedom basically translates to "license" in the modern vernacular. "He died so that we can live the way we want to live and do the things we want to do." Someone who dies for the directives of Divine Revelation are written off as barbaric. Naturally, I don't buy into Islam or the suicide bombings associated with its current incarnation, but the entire grasp of why the bombers do what they do seems to be lost on most Americans. It's far easier to just say they are primitive screw-heads than to figure out the mentality that makes one die for their god.

When the HHS mandate comes up in conversation, even Catholics will shrug their shoulders and wonder why it's such a big deal. Why would the Church in America choose this hill to die on? It's just some pills and some folks deciding not to have babies (or kill ones that they are having). "God said so" is not an adequate explanation because the person posing the question has either forgotten about God or remembers Him but doesn't care about His opinion all that much.

Protestants are actually somewhat better off from a social standpoint than we Catholics here. Public perception of Protestants is that they are still basically taking all this off of how they read the Bible (and the fact that they embrace contraception, so they've already got one foot in the secularist camp anyway). From the secularist perspective, that still is an operation of their individual choice. They read the Bible, their personal interpretation says that "x" is what they should live by, so they live by "x." Catholics don't have that luxury. We have human leaders in the form of the bishops and, of course, the Pope. The secularist ignores our free choice to follow these leaders and sees only bondage in our obedience. And so comes the horror.

What the secularist can't understand is the concept of Truth. Truth does not necessarily begin or end with one's choice or the satiation of one's groin, bank account, job, or whatever. In fact, denying such satisfaction is often demanded by Truth. That there is something above self, this is where the disconnect lies.

I'm reminded of the bit in Lord of the Rings where everyone is at Rivendell trying to decide what to do with the Ring. Taking it to Mordor with a small party like the Fellowship seems like madness at first. However, it's mentioned that Sauron would never look for the Ring in that kind of setting because he could never imagine someone wanting to destroy it. Why give up such power? The secularist can't imagine someone opting for the sort of submission of intellect and will called for by the religious mindset. Why give up such power, such autonomy? Why give up the ability to be like God?

[Y]our eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods

Genesis 3:5

Yeah, why would anyone give that up?

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