Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Call For Courage

Much of the evil in our world exists, not because too many people live their lives as though truth and goodness are absolutes, but because so few people do.

For every perpetrator of genocide, there are thousands of passive ones. For every celebrity who squanders his wealth, there is a crowd of gratified gawkers. For every person who publicly perverts our human sexuality and degrades the human body, there are too many who, by cowering in silence, give their assent.

We are told to think that it is when people believe something too strongly - too definitively - that violence becomes inevitable. We are told to believe that by sacrificing absolutes we can achieve peace. And yet holding that all beliefs are merely opinions does not breed peace but indifference. And indifference is but a fertile ground for injustice.

Peace is our goal, but we should accept nothing less than true peace. As long as there is injustice, there is no peace. As long as there is ignorance of the truth, there is no peace. As long as there is sin, there is no peace. As long as there be people who live here on earth outside the sheepfold of Christ, there is no peace. True peace is found only in Jesus Christ and in the Church that He established.

And so I call us to have courage, not to compromise; to seek truth, not amiable company; to love, not to ignore; to serve God, not man. Let us take truth and goodness seriously and live our lives accordingly.

We all, in one way or another, have become culpable, if in not our actions, then at least by our inaction, by our unwillingness to always stand up for what is right.

Kyrie eleison. St Athanasius, St Maximus the Confessor, and St Thomas More, please pray for us. Amen.

16 comments:

  1. I love the third paragraph! Great post.

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  2. Sorry, I just don't think calling someone a pervert makes you courageous.

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  3. Then you are not paying attention to the social climate. The only word we can't stand is 'no' when it comes to sex.

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  4. Hey YoungMom

    I didn't call anyone a pervert, and I didn't say that we should call people perverts to be courageous. I used the word "pervert" as a verb to describe what is sometimes done to our sexuality in the public square.

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  5. Hey Brantly, this is really off topic, but someone just mentioned Alaister Begg to me, and since I know you are very familiar with the Evangelical world i was wondering what you know/think of him?

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  6. And in doing so you are labeling people who have a different understanding of sexuality than you do. I think we get way further as christians when we have the courage to live OUR lives for christ, not some one elses life. Political mumbo-jumbo and name calling only makes us look hateful.

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  7. Define 'get farther'. Do you mean 'preach the Gospel', which has fairly specific claims on sexuality, or 'avoid conflict/scandal/heartburn', which may or may not be desirable? It's obvious that it might be, but then it might *not* be, too. And, either way, nothing you've said actually approached the word 'courage', just your desire to remove that label by attaching other adjectives to it.

    I know I've been told I shouldn't oppose, essentially, anything in order to get the word of Christ out to people. But then I have to ask: what exactly is left to get out there? How can you be saved when you're already just? And how am I supposed to courageously live my Christian life if I back down from Christian teaching?

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  8. About scandal: Thomas More is a good one to invoke here, because he balanced prudential judgment of his own actions with the demands made on him by divine revelation. I want to stress that I *meant* (and was not being flippant) when I said the avoiding-scandal kind of 'getting farther' could be for ill or good. It's all a question of prudence.

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  9. "As long as there be people who live here on Earth outside the sheepfold of Christ, there is no peace."

    You've gotta be kidding me Brantly. Why not? Why can't you respect someone who disagrees with your religion? And what makes you think that everyone believing in Christianity is somehow the way to peace? There has been no shortage of christain on Christian violence throughout history.

    But much more importantly, do you seriously believe that there is no way for people of different religions to live together peacefully? I have friends that are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and atheist, and we all manage to get along.

    You have tried to suggest in you post that this attitude of mine breeds indifference, and that leads to injustice. I don't buy it. Just because I don't care what religion a person is doesn't mean I don't care about them as a person. In fact I would argue that it is a greater protection against injustice to appreciate people regardless of their religion than to judge them based on their religion. This is why we have the first amendment.

    Have you ever read jfk's speech on religion? I know he's not exactly your kind of catholic, but he really nailed that one.

    In conclusion, do you know any buddhists? If not, please go out of your way to meet one, they are the most peaceful people Ive ever met. (or jainists, I don't know any of them, but I've heard they actually sweep the ground in front of them as they walk so they don't accidentally kill any bugs by stepping on them. How does it get more peaceful than that?)

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  10. Anon,
    I actually haven't heard of him.

    YoungMom,

    "And in doing so you are labeling people who have a different understanding of sexuality than you do."
    There was no labeling. As I already said, "pervert" was the verb, "person" was the noun.

    "different understanding of sexuality than you do"
    This is actually the point of the post. It's not just different. Morality exists. And it matters.

    "I think we get way further as christians when we have the courage to live OUR lives for christ, not some one elses life."
    We must live our own lives, but what other people do still matters. We have a duty to, appropriately and humbly, look out for each other. Why did you only attack the line about sexuality? You don't seem to disagree with genocide or the squandering of wealth.
    James 5.20: "remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins."

    "Political mumbo-jumbo and name calling only makes us look hateful."
    What does any of this have to do with politics?
    And again, there was no name-calling. Who exactly was I name-calling, and what name did I call them?
    I find it incredible that our society has crumbled to such a depth that simply acknowledging that there exist people who pervert our human sexuality, even without specificity as to whom or how, is considered hateful; holding that morality exists is hateful.

    And remember, the point of the post was not about calling out evils in our society; it was about encouraging us to repent of our passivity to evil and falsehood. It was about how we can't sit back, say nothing, and say that we personally didn't do anything, which is exactly the kind of life you are proposing.

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  11. Hey Evan,

    You're absolutely right, there would still be sin in the world even if everyone suddenly became a Christian. Everyone being in the Church is only a part of the path, though a necessary one, to true peace in our world.

    And of course I believe that Hindus and Christians can live around each other without killing each other. But the peace I'm talking about it more than just a lack of violence. It's a lack of division and disagreement. It's unity in what are life purpose is, what we're working towards ultimately. True unity among people and with God is only possible in Christ.

    "Just because I don't care what religion a person is doesn't mean I don't care about them as a person."
    That's true to an extent, but it means you already don't care about what's true, or at least what's true regarding something as fundamental as religion. And religion will determine how a person thinks about such things as what the purpose of human life is, what's right and wrong - in fact, what justice is. There are many different conceptions of what justice is out there. Not all injustice is physical violence.

    "In fact I would argue that it is a greater protection against injustice to appreciate people regardless of their religion than to judge them based on their religion."
    Christians believe this, too, and this is not in opposition of what I've said. You assume wrongly that because I think something is wrong about something, I therefore won't act loving towards them. Christians believe that all people deserve - as a matter of justice - our respect, love, and service since we've all been made in the image of God. But this does not mean you must say that whatever anyone believes is good. Remember, Christians believe in loving even our enemies - even those who might want to hurt us. We are supposed to love them, even though we obviously disagree with them.

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  12. "Everyone being in the church is only a part of the path, though a necessary one, to true peace in our world."

    "true unity among people and with god is only possible through Christ"

    Vs.

    "Christians believe that all people deserve - as a matter of justice - our respect, love, and service..."

    These statements are in direct opposition. Telling people their culturally inherited beliefs are inferior to your culturally inherited beliefs is not respect.

    "...you already don't care what's true...regarding religion"

    Partly true. I do judge people based
    On their religion. I believe that people like yourself that write a blog about their religious conversion are far more respectable than someone who made a museum about how evolution is fake and genesis is the literal truth. A Muslim who wants to live in peace with America is far more respectable then one who joins al Qaeda.

    I do believe that some religions are more correct than others, but i am judging them on a different benchmark than you. I look at them as "what religious attitude will be more beneficial to humanity as a whole" rather than "what belief from 2000 years ago do I think might be right?"

    Your arguments about what religion should be sound dangerously close to a theocracy to me. You can call me indifferent about about religions, but if one religion gains complete power over the others, you can bet I will not be indifferent in opposing it's control.

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  13. "you are labeling people who have a different understanding of sexuality than you do."

    Maybe there are simply no perverts.

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  14. BTW, is that a photograph, or a painting by George de La Tour?

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  15. I've found the attitude of many christians very frustrating and contrary to anything that Jesus actually taught. I've written more than once about my questions and conclusions about sexuality and politics on my own blog, and I don't feel like re-iterating them here.

    I probably shouldn't have said anything since obviously no one here is going to understand anyone elses point of view. I just feel that doing what you are advocating does nothing to actually turn people away from their sins. Like St Augustine said "I learned alot not from the people that taught me, but from the people who talked with me. Or St Francis "Preach the Gospel at all times, and if nessacary use words". I guess we just have different definitions of when it is nessacary to use words.

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  16. One thing that separates Catholicism from some other Christian denominations is the way that humans discover moral truth.

    For example, it is NOT the teaching of the Catholic Church that people need revelation to discover moral truths. Rather, ALL moral truths are accessible through the use of reason alone, including difficult teachings like abortion, birth control, and homosexuality. This principle is called "synderesis." Because of synderesis, Catholic politicians can hold moral positions without relying on the revelation of God. Non Catholics, likewise, need not accuse Catholics of promoting theocracy when they call for politicians to uphold these reasonable moral positions.

    Furthermore, a Catholic can try to demonstrate moral truths to non-Catholics using reason alone without betraying their belief that every human person has a right to worship God according to their conscience.

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