Charlie's Blog: September 2014

9.28.2014

The New Bohemians


To take the world as one finds it, the bad with the good, making the best of the present moment—to laugh at Fortune alike whether she be generous or unkind—to spend freely when one has money, and to hope gaily when one has none—to fleet the time carelessly, living for love and art—this is the temper and spirit of the modern Bohemian in his outward and visible aspect. It is a light and graceful philosophy, but it is the Gospel of the Moment, this exoteric phase of the Bohemian religion; and if, in some noble natures, it rises to a bold simplicity and naturalness, it may also lend its butterfly precepts to some very pretty vices and lovable faults, for in Bohemia one may find almost every sin save that of Hypocrisy. ...

His faults are more commonly those of self-indulgence, thoughtlessness, vanity and procrastination, and these usually go hand-in-hand with generosity, love and charity; for it is not enough to be one’s self in Bohemia, one must allow others to be themselves, as well. ...
What, then, is it that makes this mystical empire of Bohemia unique, and what is the charm of its mental fairyland? It is this: there are no roads in all Bohemia! One must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life.
GELETT BURGESS

Former NBC Nightly News Anchor Tom Brokaw wrote a book called The Greatest Generation that was well received by the public. The book talks about the generation that survived the Great Depression and fought and won World War II. Those were some fine folk, and you can hear the praise for them today fall from the lips of millenials who both admire and even wish to emulate those great people. My personal desire is that Brokaw would go on to write a sequel to that book called The Worst Generation. It would be about the children of the Greatest Generation that enjoyed the greatest prosperity while indulging in the worst promiscuity, hedonism, and drug abuse all while spitting in the face of the Greatest Generation. That book would be a bestseller, but it would be so upsetting that I doubt it would ever get written.

The USA is now fully under the sway of the Worst Generation. Baby boomers have been in the driver's seat ever since Clinton came into office, and this country has declined as a result. The cultural impact has been even greater with today's generation recycling and living off the cultural deposit of those boomers. Trust me, they aren't playing Sinatra and Bing Crosby on the radio anymore, but you can still hear the Beatles, the Stones, and the Who. Generation X and the Millennials have extended much of that debased culture and ethos. I confess my guilt in the crime. But my thoughts on this crystallized when the Duck Dynasty patriarch admitted that his generation messed up this country.


The Baby Boomers are known for war protests, drug abuse, free love, and Woodstock. They also experimented with every religion as long as it wasn't Christianity. So, they dabbled in Hinduism, Buddhism, witchcraft, the occult, and Satanism. The reason for this was because this generation essentially became pagans once more like their ancient ancestors. When you read the Old Testament, you are surprised and dismayed at how the children of Israel could keep turning again and again to pagan religions. It is even more surprising to learn that these were the pagan religions of all their enemies. It would be like this entire country becoming Muslim and praising Osama bin Laden after 9/11. But that is what this country did during the 60's when so many end up praising a guy like Che Guevara or carrying Chairman Mao's Little Red Book.


Despite the excesses of the 60's, the Boomers would spend the 70's in a cocaine fueled haze until they decided to cash in by the 80's. The collision of those decades is a superstorm of secularism, socialism, spiritualism, and materialism that still saturates our society today such that people can now credibly claim that the USA is now in a post-Christian era. It would be nice to say that all of this was fashion and fad, but it still lives on today among younger generations who mine their parent's past to rediscover and experience this garbage anew. Hippies never went away. You can still see them today in many cities or the spontaneous desert city known as Burning Man that pops up each year and becomes a magnet for this nation's drug crazed freaks.


Burning Man is nothing more than a pagan celebration of Dionysian frenzy. It is the worship of false gods. Those freaks would not be out of place in the pagan empires of old with temples devoted to black magic, prostitution, hallucinogenic substances, and human sacrifice. The fundamental religious character of Burning Man is no coincidence or mistake. And that religion is an anti-Christian religion. These people may talk about peace and love, but the end of the day shows promiscuity, hedonism, thievery, addiction, and rape. There is a reason many hippies abandoned the Peace Train back in the 60's. That train ran off the tracks. You will know them by their fruit, and the fruit of this New Bohemian revolution has been a bitter fruit. The parents ran up the bill, and the children must now pay it off.

The original Bohemians lived in France back in the 1800's and were called Bohemians because they resembled the immigrants from Bohemia who were outsiders in France. The name stuck, and Bohemianism was born. It has had many shades and flavors, but a few constants identify all of these communities:

-Devotion to creative arts
-Rejection of the wider Christian culture in favor of paganism/atheism
-Free love and rejection of traditional marriage and family life
-Drug use and alcohol abuse

There are many varieties of Bohemianism, but the variety is only window dressing. They are fundamentally the same. If Bohemianism was merely a minority viewpoint, it would be relatively harmless. But it lives on in a hundred ways from radical feminism, libertarian morality, New Age spirituality, pantheistic environmentalism, the move to legitimize gay marriage, inclusivess, political correctness, and on and on. The bottom line is that in this country you can be just about anything you want to be except be a Christian.


There is nothing new with any of this. Bohemians are always talking about what's "new" and "progressive." We can't "turn back the clock" and yadda yadda yadda. But this crap is ancient. It is Egypt and the Incas. It is Stonehenge and the Druids. It is old witches sneaking into the woods to worship the Devil and kiss him under his tail. Somehow, this foolishness becomes wisdom and sophistication while Christianity becomes old hat.

But there is hope. There is always a remnant who have refused to bend the knee towards Baal. These are the ones the world derides as idiots and rubes. They are "backwards." Times may change, but truth does not change. The remnant knows this. They know the new religions are simply the same old lies of the devil. They know that Bohemianism is the road to ruin. I am also heartened by a return by people younger than me to the morals, traditions, and religion of their elders. These people get it. They understand that what made the Greatest Generation great was that it was a Christian generation.


These are tough times with an economy in shambles, militant Islam threatnening us, families in ruin, and  tyrannical government threatening with force what they lost with the decline in moral authority. But tough times make good people. This is how it was in the Great Depression. People forget the immorality of the 20's and the Lost Generation. But the decadence of that time preceded a great return to the basics which never change. I predict that a new generation will come that will be every bit as good or even better than that Greatest Generation. But the polluted inheritance of the Worst Generation must be exhausted first. The old gods must die, so that the Living God may be glorified. I have hope.

9.21.2014

Cows Eating Grass


To judge by their lives, the masses and the most vulgar seem - not unreasonably - to believe that the good or happiness is pleasure.
ARISTOTLE

Recently, I had a conversation with someone about the ubiquity of smartphones. I made the remark that I prefer not to touch another man's smartphone because I suspect that the phone has accompanied the man to the bathroom for activities that I will leave to the imagination for the sake of you, Gentle Reader. I come to this conclusion because of the proliferation of pornography on these devices. At this point, it should become clear what these phones are about, and I suspect that they would light up like a Christmas tree under the glare of the UV light they use on CSI. Instead of a denial, my friend made a defense of pornography and made an impassioned case for it over the virtues of reading the news on the internet. For him, all my time devoted to news, politics, religion, philosophy, and science were a "waste." A life devoted to pornography and other pleasures was superior to my life of the soul and the mind. Even though I would disagree with my friend, I appreciate his remarkable candor on the matter.

This person is what I would refer to as "a cow eating grass." This phrase comes from some old reading of Aristotle that stuck in my head two decades ago. Basically, cows live to eat grass. Hedonists live to have pleasure. They differ only in their pleasure. As such, the pleasure seeking person has no inherent superiority over the cow in the field. Their lives are defined purely by filling their stomachs, emptying their bowels, sleeping, stimulating their genitals, and fighting boredom with mindless entertainment. This defines the mass horde of humanity. It is sad to come to this conclusion, but my friend with the semen encrusted smartphone is not alone in his devotion to hedonism. He belongs to the majority.


People need to ask themselves a question. Am I a cow eating grass? Now, I can tell you that cows never ask themselves such a question. I can also tell you that cows eating grass don't bother reading this blog. So, if you are reading to this point, you are either not a cow eating grass, or you are at least exiting the cow pasture. Congratulations. As for the cows eating grass, I probably lost you at "Aristotle."

It would be a mistake to think that cows eating grass have no worldview. They do. This is why my candid friend could defend his own hedonism while deriding my deeper pursuits. Cows eating grass do have a philosophy of life. The first such philosophers of this lifestyle were known as the Cyrenaics who taught that pleasure was the only good, and pain was the only evil. Basically, life should be lived in devotion to the good times. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. Essentially, the Cyrenaics were the frat boys of the ancient Greek world.

Aristippus of Cyrene

The most obvious problem with the crass hedonism of the Cyrenaics both ancient and modern is that such unbridled hedonism yields as much or more pain than the pleasure to be had. If you have ever had a severe hangover, an STD, or spent the weekend in jail, you know this to be true. Needless to say, the Cyrenaics did not last long as a school of philosophy.

By a certain age, people lucky enough to survive their twenties learn to tap the brakes on their appetites. Unfortunately, they never develop beyond that mentality except in the understanding that it might behoove them to take it easy. So, pleasure seeking becomes money seeking, and these people start chasing after cash, property, and status. These people might become married and have children to complete the program, but they rapidly find the disappointment in this. This usually hits in a person's thirties and forties, so they revisit the Cyrenaic days of their twenties long enough to make a trainwreck of their lives in the event dubbed as the "midlife crisis." This process continues through a second and third marriage as drinking, adultery, and money problems take their toll. Adulthood becomes a balancing act between responsibility and appetites.


I would like to say that when people get to old age that they acquire some wisdom and shun the hedonism. But they don't. Young cows eating grass become old cows eating grass. Some part of us laments this, but we can't say why. The fruit of a life lived as a cow eating grass is a bitter fruit. It yields emptiness and disappointment. The cow eating grass dies as all cows do. The only thing we can say about the cow is that he ate a lot of grass.

This is the part of the essay where I am supposed to encourage you, Gentle Reader, to seek after the deeper things in life. There has to be more to life than merely indulging your appetites or chasing after money. But I am not going to waste my time on that. Once you decide to stop being a cow eating grass, you are already on the path to enlightenment. If you think that path is a waste of time, you will just keep on eating that grass. Wisdom is foolishness to the fool. I have known this my entire life. I have been mocked more times than I can count by these grass eating cows. So, now, it comes to this point of being insulted as a fool by a man who thinks the best part of life is masturbating to smartphone porn in the bathroom. I'm sorry, but I would hope that there is more to life than this.

I find the antidote to a superificial existence is to contemplate its end. We are all going to die. The cow eating grass is blissfully ignorant of its own mortality. Human beings are not so fortunate. The goal of all this hedonism and materialism is to make a person forget if just for a moment that their life will end. If death truly is the end, then hedonism may indeed be sensible. The only problem is that pleasure does not ever seem to satisfy that deeper longing. Cows are blessed in not ever feeling emptiness in their souls. That is a human thing. When people become cows eating grass, they seek to be less than human. But the fact that humans want more indicates that something more must exist.

9.16.2014

Thy Will Be Done


You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
JAMES 4:3 NAS

I always like ironic tales and jokes dealing with the genie in the lamp. Usually, the story or joke involves someone being granted a wish or three wishes except that the wish ends up being a curse. The moral of the story is that you should be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.

It is tempting to think of God as a genie like this. This usually comes after reading the promise in Matthew 7:7-11,
    Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
When you read something like that, the first impulse is to ask to win the lottery. This is basically the idea behind the Prosperity Gospel. God cares passionately that you get a new Maserati. But James gives his rebuke to this notion in James 4:3. God is not Santa Claus. He always gives us what we need. The problem is that we are clueless about what we really need.

Imagine a small child. His father knows that his son needs him to keep a roof over his head, clothes on his back, and to educate him. The father knows that he needs to save for his son's college education and to be a good husband to his mother, and he does these things. His day is filled with tending to his young son's needs. Then, one day, the son asks the dad for a new toy fire truck. The dad seeing all of the toys his son has worries that his kid is becoming a self-indulgent brat, so he tells him no. Despite all the good things he does for his son including denying him this fire truck, the dad instantly becomes the Worst Dad That Ever Lived. Dad being good ignores this and keeps on being the good dad that he is. We may laugh, but we are the little kid in our prayers. We want things, and we don't like it when we don't get what we want.

My perspective on prayer has changed recently as I continue to not get an answer for something I have asked for many times. I know of a single mother with three children. She has breast cancer that has now metastasized throughout her body. She is 25 years old. I pray for her daily and requested others to pray for her. I ask that you, Gentle Reader, also pray for this poor woman and her children. I have not received what I have asked for in regards to this woman, and it has caused my heart to turn bitter towards God. Atheists are atheist not because of science but because they can't deal with the fact that God allows evil to exist. This is why I was an atheist, and it still stings for me as a repentant Christian. I wondered why God would not answer me and then He answered me. He told me what I needed to hear. The words came from my own lips as they do every single day. The words? Thy will be done.

I confess that I have not ever properly reflected on what it means to pray "Thy will be done." The Bible has two notable denials of prayer requests. The first is when Paul asks for the thorn to be removed from his flesh and God does not do it. God's grace would be sufficient, so Paul stopped asking. The other is when Jesus asks that the cup be taken from Him in Gethsemane. But Jesus says, "Not my will but thy will be done." Jesus drank from that cup, and we all know the rest of the story.

When it comes to God, there are two popular approaches. The first is the genie in the bottle approach as I have already alluded to. Naturally, this doesn't work, so the person reproaches themselves because they must somehow lack faith. Prosperity believers say this all the time, so they become maniacal in trying to believe their way into winning the lottery. The second approach is the fatalistic approach. If God already knows what we need, why bother Him with our petitions? Neither of these approaches is correct.

The correct approach is to take all of our requests to God. Just ask. It can be big or small. It doesn't matter. This is what Jesus tells us to do. But --and this is key--we should be satisfied with whatever answer God gives us. This is what it means to pray Thy will be done. God knows best. Whenever we ask for things, we should always add on the words of Jesus, "Not my will but Thy will be done." The effect of this practice will be a peace in your soul. The no answers to your prayers become just as satisfying as the yes answers. The result is a purification of our intentions. We should want what God wants. This is maturity.

I am still going to keep praying for mothers with cancer. This is what God wants. And I am also going to trust that God will make it all good even if I can't see it at this moment. I have seen God do enough to know that He is good and that He cares. I pray, and I leave it in His hands.


9.09.2014

The Decline of Western Civilization


Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.
VLADIMIR PUTIN

One of the great ironies of history is that the most atheistic country in history is now headed by a man who makes the strongest case for Christian values. I don't know if Vladimir Putin is a good man or a Machiavellian villain saying what people want to hear, but I find myself agreeing with the things he says. Russia knows where atheism and the rejection of Christianity leads. They lead to social decay.

It is neither fashionable nor politically correct to write or say what I am about to say, but it needs to be said. Christianity is the reason why Western civilization is so great and superior to all other civilizations. Conversely, the rejection of Christianity is the reason for its present decline. Finally, the restoration of Western civilization depends on a return to Christianity. There is no other way.


This was the conclusion that Peter Hitchens came to in The Rage Against God. Peter is known as the brother of the late Christopher Hitchens, one of the Four Horsemen of Atheism. Peter was an atheist like his brother, but his experience of the moral wasteland of the USSR lead him to reject atheism and return to the Anglicanism of his youth. Simply put, society works better when it is a Christian society. The fact that a former atheist can give such a stinging rebuke to atheism should be a lesson to atheists, but it isn't.

The counterargument to Christianity is that somehow a better society can be had along secular lines. But there is no evidence for this. The French Revolution was a secular revolution that devolved into a reign of terror with many dying in the guillotine including many of the revolutionaries. Similarly, the Russian Revolution and the Maoist revolution in China had even more atrocities. The atheist likes to think that the secular society is a more humane, more reasonable, and less barbarous society than a Christian society, but the evidence shows otherwise.

Another counterargument to Christianity is that Christian societies have had atrocities like slavery, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, etc. This is true. Christian societies are not perfect because humanity is not perfect. But this is not the fault of Christianity but humanity. As G.K. Chesterton put it so aptly, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried."

Christian societies are better and more humane than secular or pagan societies. History is clear on this point. Certainly, there have been great pagan empires like the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans, but they were also known for depravity, savagery, and butchery. Bigger is not better. If size is the measure of greatness, we should look to Genghis Khan and his savagery for our ideal. But the conquest of territory is a poor substitute for the conquest of hearts and minds. Christianity has conquered like nothing else in human history. People choose to be Christian even when it may cost them their lives.

When we speak of decline, we aren't actually speaking of a decline in power or wealth. The USSR was considered a superpower, but I think Mr. Putin would agree that particular greatness came at the expense of goodness. The decline was in the moral character of that country. Russia still suffers from those dark years of atheism as it is now a society of lazy drunks who spend their days guzzling vodka and waiting to die at age 60. For Russia to be reinvigorated, they will need a return to the Christian sensibility they had before Lenin. Putin knows this. He speaks not so much as a deeply religious man than as simply a practical man with a measure of common sense.

In Europe, secularism has lead the continent into an experiment with multiculturalism. No longer wishing to acknowledge Christianity as its birthright, Europe is now infested with a horde of Muslim immigrants who are beginning to destabilize those societies. This is another unfashionable and politically incorrect thing to write or say, but it needs to be said. Islam is a religion of evil. The Muslim religion is the most evil religion to exist in the post-Christian world. If you doubt this, try and consider what the second worst religion in the world is today. The best I can come up with is the Church of Scientology, but the worst thing that religion ever did was take people's money and ruin their lives. As far as I know, no Scientologist has ever beheaded another human being and uploaded the video to YouTube. Islam is an abomination on the earth.

The secularists cannot find a way to make those criticisms of Islam. They can criticize the Catholic Church for not ordaining women or for not allowing abortion, but the secularists are virtually silent when some Islamic barbarians make their women wear burkas or kill them for the most minor of infractions. It boggles the mind how secularists can strain the gnats of Christianity while swallowing the camel of Muslim atrocities. But this is because Islam has one singular and overriding virtue to the secularist and the atheist. Islam isn't Christian. The only religion that really bothers the atheist is the Christian religion. This is because the Christian religion is the true religion, and the atheist hates this. Consequently, the atheists find common cause with those who should be their worst enemies.

The USA is in the opposite situation of Europe. The USA retains a greater religious sense than Europe, but it is being invaded by Christians instead of Muslims. Americans hate Mexicans more than they hate Muslims. The Mexicans and Latinos they hate the worst are not the members of gangs like MS-13 or the drug cartels. They hate the Mexican families and the hard working men and women trying to improve life for their families. These are the Catholic families that attend Mass and pray the Rosary. The fear is that these hard working and virtuous people will inherit the material prosperity that Americans are no longer willing to work for anymore. This country supports cocaine snorting bankers with bailouts and welfare moms with food stamps but hates the guy who mows their lawn. The USA loves immigrants unless those immigrants happen to be Catholic.

The USA should be grateful that anyone would still want to come here. This country is becoming a wasteland in lockstep with the rise of secularism in government and the culture. Some fools believe that President Obama is a closet Muslim, but the atheists are more correct when they claim that Obama is more likely a closet atheist. The man and his family rarely attend church. His religion seems to be like the silverware set that is polished for company but kept in the cupboard most of the time. His moral flexibility is more nihilist than Christian. As for the wider culture, we have abortion, fatherless homes, and gay marriage. Men are now children who spend their paychecks on toys and videogames and find more pleasure in internet porn than in actual human relationships. Women are little better wishing for more time at the mall and the beauty salon than with the family.



I have heard about the decline of Western Civilization my entire adult life. Whether it is a biblical end like Sodom and Gomorrah or a collapse like the Roman Empire or just the zombie apocalypse, it seems that Christian civilization is always in danger of complete upheaval. The reality is that things are never as good or as bad as they can possibly get. Decline and renewal cycle like phases of the moon. Societies come and go, but Christianity endures. It is the only thing that does endure. The Church is buffetted on all sides by various enemies, but it does not yield. As Hilaire Belloc put it, "The Church is a perpetually defeated thing that always outlives her conquerers."

The thing that really matters is not so much national decline as personal decline. Societies are made up of its members, and we are not responsible for societies so much as our own choices and behavior. As they say, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. When John the Baptist preached repentance in his day, his advice was always individual advice. Here is what John said to some soldiers,
Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages." 
LUKE 3:14 NAS
John the Baptist could have told them a lot of things, but his advice was fairly basic. Don't rob people. Don't be greedy. Don't calumniate people. These are not heroic things. They are simple and basic human decency. Yet, we see police officers today doing exactly what John the Baptist told those soldiers not to do. Cops today rob people. They confiscate drugs from people to use themselves. They accuse people of crimes they did not commit and railroad them into prison. Consequently, people lose respect for the law because even the law enforcers break the very laws they are sworn to uphold. It is simply enough to refrain from doing evil. Yet, that is asking too much in our day and time when the cops are as evil as the lawbreakers.

There was a time when it was easier to be good. Nevertheless, it doesn't matter whether it is easy or hard. We are always to do good. People wish to make excuses for their own decline, but there are no excuses. How many social pathologies could be cured if men and women waited until marriage to have sex? I think most of our prisons would be empty. How hard is it to attend church on a weekly basis? Most of our churches would be full. What is so wrong in teaching your kids to have manners and refrain from stealing, using drugs, and fornicating? Why is this most basic and fundamental advice considered to be utter foolishness today?

Good people make good societies, and Christianity makes people good. Atheism does not do this. Islam does not do this. Those twin religions breed pathology and death. People need to be good again, and this means turning back to Christianity. If an ex-KGB scoundrel like Putin can see this, why can't everyone else?

I don't know where things will go from here. Things can either get better, or they can get worse. But let's not wonder or fret over why things are getting worse or wonder how they will ever get better. We already know the answer. It just isn't the answer we want. Christianity is what made Western civilization, and it is the only thing that can save Western civilization. And the best thing you can do as an individual is to repent and return to being a Christian. If everyone did this, the world would be a much better place.

9.04.2014

Nothing From Nothing


Nothing comes from nothing.
UNKNOWN

I used to be an atheist. The funny thing is that many of the atheists who knew me now deny that I was ever an atheist. Somehow, in my heart, I was still a believer. This is only partly true as I can see that this is visible in all atheists. This is known as the imago Dei or image of God. Even atheists are made in the image of God. They would prefer to think of human beings as merely clever monkeys in order to deny this image of God. But human beings contemplate abstractions that have virtually no value to their need to survive or reproduce. Religion is the one thing that humans are universally compelled to seek. People will do without many things including an education, but religion is a constant demanding vast resources of time, money, and energy. Even atheists attend churches even while denying God's existence because they feel compelled to scratch the itch they deny having. Does any of this prove God's existence? No, it doesn't. But it does prove that human beings have a deep and universal desire for God to exist.

The material proof for God's existence is all around us. Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Now, this verse has always been familiar to me for my entire life. I used to scoff at it as an atheist, but I see the profundity of it now. With some help from St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Paul gives the most elegant evidence we should ever need for believing in God. The universe exists. We exist. Things exist. But these things are not eternal. They must come from something that is eternal. The converse is to believe that something came from nothing. But we know better. Nothing comes from nothing.

To deny that nothing comes from nothing, we would have to say that the universe had no beginning. This was the strategy of the atheist David Hume who denied the beginning of a universe. As Hume put it, "Why may not the material universe be the necessary existent Being, according to this pretended explanation of necessity?" Bertrand Russell put it more succinctly when he said, "The universe is just there, and that's all." Basically, the atheist must believe in an uncreated universe. The material universe is the ground of all that exists and nothing more. It always was.

The first and most basic problem with this line of thinking is that it turns all atheists into pantheists. The universe itself becomes their god. Science goes from being an explanation to being a religion. Things like the "invisible hand" and "natural selection" and "the selfish gene" and on and on begin to take on the same nature as Providence. You can watch a program like Carl Sagan's Cosmos and come away with the notion that the entire thing is a hymn of adoration to the material universe. Or, you have an atheist like Richard Dawkins claiming we should be grateful to the universe that we ever existed in the first place. But this is utterly stupid. Should I be grateful to my car for starting in the morning? Should I be grateful to my toaster for toasting my English muffin? Being grateful to the material universe is stupid because the universe doesn't care.

The second problem with this line of thinking is that it just isn't so. Atheists scoffed at the arguments of Aquinas until the Big Bang was discovered. That discovery shows that the universe was created. Now, atheists try to claim the Big Bang as their own utterly forgetting that it was their tribe that denied it in the first place. You can deny the Big Bang, but this will also require you to deny much of what is considered science today.

The atheists have already begun efforts on a workaround to this problem of the Big Bang which hypothesizes a larger universe outside of this present one. This is known as multiverse theory or M-theory. There is no scientific proof for this at all. Basically, it is a way to go back to Hume. And why do they want to go back to Hume? Leibniz has the answer when he asks a question. "Why is there something rather than nothing?" In other words, how do you get something from nothing?

Nothing comes from nothing. The human mind cannot fathom how something comes from nothing. The best you can do with that sort of mystery is become Buddhist and sit under a tree contemplating it. This would be an escape from reason. Reason demands God's existence. If you accept that nothing comes from nothing, the entire universe becomes a testimony to God's existence. Atheism is not a tenable answer anymore. The least conclusion that you can come to is that of the Deist, the Freemason, and the cult of the Enlightenment. God exists. The Deist simply believes in a god that doesn't care.

The truth of God's existence is seen visibly and known intuitively. This is what St. Paul was getting at. It also explains the ubiquity of religion across human civilization. The only real debate is not whether God exists or does not exist but if God cares. That is the subject of another essay. I think the point of this essay has already been made. Nothing comes from nothing. God must exist. It is unfathomable that all of this sprang from a void of emptiness. It defies reason. You can escape into unreason, but this will only make you irrational and insane. There is a God.


9.03.2014

Canaan


. . . Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.”

Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.
GENESIS 13:8-12 NAS

The story of Lot and Abraham is one I remember all the way back from Sunday School in the Baptist church. The gist of it is pretty basic. Lot and Abraham had large flocks, but there was strife between the two operations. Seeking to settle the strife, Abraham gave Lot first choice on the land, and Lot chose the best of the two options. This would be his undoing as he lost everything in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a simple story, but it is a deep story if you choose to meditate upon it.

The first thing we have to say is that Lot is not a bad guy. He does seem to be a worldly fellow, but he is not an evil fellow which seems to be why the Lord spared him from the destruction that would come later. But Abraham wanted to end strife, and he knew the easiest way to do this would be to divide and let Lot have what he sought. Lot could never come back on Abraham later and claim he got a raw deal. Lot had his pick.

The second thing we have to say is that God is providential. Abraham got the bad end of the deal, but it worked out great for him. Abraham was stuck in the boondocks of Canaan while Lot got the city life of Sodom and Gomorrah. But sometimes, the worst calamity is getting what you want. By letting Lot decide, Abraham was actually letting God decide. This is faith. The world fights tooth and nail to get the better end of every deal, but the person of faith trusts in God to help him instead of cunning and cleverness.

The third thing we have to say is that God prefers the humble and the overlooked. Compared to Sodom, Canaan was humble land. Abraham was a humble man. Lot and Abraham remind me of the old story of the city mouse and the country mouse.


The City Mouse and the Country Mouse

There once was a mouse who liked his country house until his cousin came for a visit.

"In the city where I live," his cousin said, "we dine on cheese and fish and bread. Each night my dinner is brought to me. I eat whatever I choose. While you, country cousin, work your paws to the bone for humble crumbs in this humble home. I'm used to finery. To each his own, I see!"

Upon hearing this, the country mouse looked again at his plain brown house. Suddenly he wasn't satisfied anymore. "Why should I hunt and scrape for food to store?" he said. "Cousin, I'm coming to the city with you!"

Off they went into the fine town house of the plump and prosperous city mouse.

"Shhh! The people are in the parlor," the city mouse said. "Let's sneak into the kitchen for some cheese and bread."

The city mouse gave his wide-eyed country cousin a grand tour of the leftover food on the table. "It's the easy life," the city mouse said, and he smiled as he bit into a piece of bread.

Just as they were both about to bite into a chunk of cheddar cheese, In came the CAT!

"Run! Run!" said the city mouse. "The cat's in the house!"

Just as the country mouse scampered for his life out of the window, he said, "Cousin, I'm going back to the country! You never told me that a CAT lives here! Thank you, but I'll take my humble crumbs in comfort over all of your finery with fear!"

There are many ways to read the story of the city mouse and the country mouse. Some people think the country mouse has the better way while others think the city mouse has the better way. I think the best way to read the story is to acknowledge that there are upsides and downsides to every path. It would be nice to imagine a place where you can have the best of both worlds, but this place does not exist in the real world. Basically, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. But people still try.

I can't read the Bible or stories of the saints and not come away thinking that God prefers the country mouse over the city mouse. The story of Abraham and Lot is essentially this story. The story of Israel and all the big bad empires like the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Greeks, and the Romans also shows to me that God prefers little Israel over the imperial kingdoms. Finally, there is the Catholic Church that is both big and small at the same time. Spending some time in a cathedral filled with poor Mexican immigrants changes your perspective on things. The poor are the royalty of God's kingdom.

Canaan for me has come to be a term for living in the Humble Zone. This is choosing rural over urban. This is choosing blue collar over white collar. It is choosing to be friends with the poor instead of the rich and sophisticated. It is choosing to live in a hick Red State instead of a sophisticated Blue State. It is choosing to drive the economy car instead of the BMW. Proverbs 17:1 says, "Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife." That dichotomy is important.

The ambitious are never satisified. This is because evil is never satisfied. The real key to Abraham letting Lot have his choice is the fact that Abraham was someone who could be satisfied. What Abraham wanted was peace and tranquility with his kinsman, so he thought it was worth the price of not getting the choice land. Conversely, Lot fell in with the evil people attracted to the very things that pulled him in. When you pursue the wrong things, don't be surprised when you find yourself surrounded by the wrong people. Those wrong people will devour you. This is why when you choose wrongly you won't keep what you pursued. This is because the things you have motivates the envy of others.

The humble path leads to peace, and this is what we should really be striving towards. As far as it is possible for us, we should strive to live quiet and peaceful lives. This was the admonition of St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 when he wrote, ". . .make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you." This definitely sounds like the country mouse.

I wish that being the country mouse would be the end of the story, but it isn't. As I said, evil is never satisfied. It always wants more. You can choose the most modest lifestyle and live in the humblest place, but inevitably, evil wants that little bit you have as well. But as far as it is possible, you should head for Canaan and stay away from Sodom and Gomorrah.