Charlie's Blog: 2019


The Soulcraft of Mister Rogers

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."

Many people my age grew up with Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. As a child, I watched Mr. Rogers sandwiched between episodes of Sesame Street and Bugs Bunny and the Three Stooges. I watched other things like Leave It to Beaver and Andy Griffith. But as I got older, the cynicism started to take over, and the popular culture started to reflect this cynicism. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood gave way to Mister Robinson's Neighborhood. Fred Rogers was made to appear like some foolish simpleton.

The secret behind Mister Rogers is this. Fred Rogers believed that everyone was made in the image of God, and he slyly taught this doctrine to children by teaching them that they were special. When you consider the millions slaughtered in abortion, Fred Rogers was a subversive and a revolutionary with this teaching of the inherent dignity of people.

Mister Rogers was a sneaky fellow. He knew what he was doing. You see this as an adult watching those programs you watched as a kid with adult eyes now. Rogers unflinchingly dealt with tough subjects like being handicapped, living through divorce, and racism. He wasn't heavy handed in what he was saying, and he didn't see the world through rose colored glasses. But he put out his message of opposition disguised as gentleness.

Fred Rogers was a registered Republican and a Presbyterian minister. These things would be scandalous today and would doom any chance he would have to be on PBS. Even today, his survivors feel compelled to apologize for Rogers's cultural conservatism. The simple fact is that Mister Rogers was not "woke." A guy like that could never be woke.

Mister Rogers understood one thing well which was the power of television to shape young hearts and minds. Instead of cursing the medium, he embraced it and made a preliminary strike. When you see what passes for children's television today, you see the wisdom in what Rogers was doing. Today, that programming does not reflect the values Rogers espoused as you have the LGBT agenda being pushed heavily on children's programs. This present generation is being corrupted by the filth of the godless left wing. They understand the power of the medium.

Broadcasting along with the rest of culture is soulcraft. They have more impact than the statecraft in Washington, DC. What happens in the halls of Congress is more a reflection of who we are than a crafting of who we wish to be. This is why today we see a civil war on Capitol Hill between the forces of good and evil. We see the battles over abortion and gun rights and sodomy. It gets worse by the year. But I take heart that there is a battle. The forces of good have not capitulated yet. But we are losing.

That may be a gloomy and pessimistic admission, but it is the truth. If you look at culture today, you can see that Fred Rogers lost. Today, even a left wing children's author like J.K. Rowling is not sufficiently woke enough for the evildoers. The culture has been lost. If our generation raised on Mister Rogers has turned out so poorly, the next generation raised on left wing propaganda will be utterly feral when they come of age.

Fred Rogers was one of the good guys. Anybody who disagrees with this is certainly one of the bad guys. Rogers lit a candle in the gloom, and people like me still remember him. Rogers didn't save the world or cure cancer. But he taught us how to be decent human beings. And that matters in a world that has lost its decency.


Why I Am Not a Libertarian

Well, if flip answers could win victory for libertarianism, we would have been in power long ago.

Recently, the libertarians threw a state election costing a conservative the win and allowing the progressive to take office with a less than 1% margin of victory. The libertarians celebrated this. This loss for liberty was a "win" for their side and philosophy. This would be like cheering a Chinese communist invasion of the USA because it would mean the end of power in Washington, DC. Someone needs to tell these libertarians that a conservative loss is not a libertarian win.

I used to be a libertarian, and I have done what these libertarians have done. I couldn't bring myself to vote for Mitt Romney, and the four extra years of Obama made me wish that I had voted for Romney. I was all about "principle" back then, and I am reminded of my principled stand every time I have to deal with Obamacare and my health insurance. I didn't vote for Obamacare. But when I failed to support Romney, I did. I won't ever make the same mistake again.

When I voted for Trump, it was only for one reason. I didn't want Hillary to win. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat from the nightmare that Hillary Clinton had won the election. When Trump won, I felt an emotional high that lasted until 2018 when the Democrats took back the House. I was just happy that Hillary wasn't president. As for Trump, he has exceeded my expectations. He makes George W. Bush look like a Democrat.

Why did I ever become a libertarian? And why am I not a libertarian now? I have to go all the way back to the nineties to tell the tale.

In my twenties, I was a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican. I loved Rush Limbaugh and Ronald Reagan. I was basically then what I am now. This is why I tell people that I am a born again conservative because I strayed down the libertarian path for a decade only to return to my senses. Why did I take the libertarian detour? Basically, I became an atheist, and this move unsettles other things in your worldview.

The heart and soul of conservatism is the Christian religion. This might not be so obvious because of the decadent lifestyles of some conservatives. But whether they live up to or fail to live up to what they believe, the beliefs of conservatives derive from Christianity as Christianity is the foundation of Western civilization. The political order is an extension of the moral order. Conservatives get around this glaring fact by appeals to "tradition" and the "permanent things." This is just so much beating around the bush. Those traditions and permanent things are Christian things.

Why not be explicit about this? The answer to that is obvious. Conservatives prefer not to fight over religion. Fighting over religion is a Protestant thing, and it is why so many have sought to separate religion from politics. But a conservative does not have to appeal to the Roman Catholic Church or the teachings of any particular sect because the political order merely needs a belief in God and the Ten Commandments to function. This is why so many devout Jews like Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro find themselves on the right wing side of politics. This is why so many conservatives use the term "Judeo-Christian."

I've known this relationship between conservatism and religion my entire life. I believed that a belief in God and a moral sensibility were required for a republic to function properly. I still believe that today. But when I stopped believing in God, my conservatism lost its foundation. This is how I would become a libertarian.

Libertarians are fundamentally atheist. Naturally, many libertarians who believe in God would disagree with me. Yet, you have to agree that there is a wide difference between Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Ron Paul is a passionate pro-lifer and a Christian. Gary Johnson claimed to believe in God, but his God did not belong to any particular religion. Gary Johnson is pro-choice and a known pot smoker. His personal life and politics reflect his beliefs.

Libertarianism is based upon an abstraction known as "liberty." Now, Christians believe in liberty, and atheists can believe in liberty. This is why you find both in libertarian circles. You even have traditional Latin Mass Catholics among the ranks of the libertarians. I think these people are locked in a perpetual philosophical conflict, but I will save that discussion for later.

When I lost my Calvinist faith and slid into atheism for over a decade, I was not ready to embrace left wing politics and Marxism. Most atheists do this. This is why the Democrat Party has taken on such a secular anti-Christian tone as it slides ever leftward. Now, I knew Marxism was garbage. I couldn't unlearn what I had learned as a conservative. Socialism and communism always fail and leave a trail of bodies behind them. I also knew that capitalism has created the most wealthy and prosperous civilization in human history. I could lose my faith in God, but I could never lose my faith in the marketplace. Capitalism works.

Libertarians are passionate free market capitalists. It was a no-brainer for me. I stopped reading National Review and start reading Reason. I learned all I could about economics. I just changed my mind on abortion and the drug war and other things. Libertarianism was a better fit for me as an atheist than conservatism. Plus, I felt more hip as a libertarian. I knew we were never going to win public office, but we had fun making jokes about the ones who did. On a personal level, I didn't feel the need to preach anymore against decadent lifestyles of sexual immorality and substance abuse.

The politics of libertarianism also had an effect on my morals. I went from the Golden Rule of doing positive good for others to the Silver Rule of non-aggression against others. This allowed me to ignore the plight of suffering people in good conscience. There was one problem with this. Many of those suffering people were suffering because of bad government. I was ready to fight for my liberty. But would I fight for the liberty of others? The fact that so many libertarians are against military conscription and are averse to military service should give you your answer. The reality is that most libertarians are all too happy to huddle under the protective umbrella of conservatism while doing little to nothing to support conservative efforts.

The reality is that libertarians are just a bunch of snarky smart asses good at debating over a bong. Except for economic data for their free market arguments, most libertarian arguments are theory and not practice. When libertarianism is put into practice, it fails. If you doubt this, look at the high number of opioid deaths we have today. Opioids are effectively the legalization of a hard drug. The ubiquity of pornography has led to the rise of criminal forms of pornography and human trafficking. The libertarian will argue that he is fine with immorality but opposes criminality as if the two were not joined at the hip.

One of the fundamental flaws I experienced with libertarianism is its inability to acknowledge the inherent wickedness of human nature. To believe in minimal or zero government, you have to believe people are inclined to the good and merely need the unfettered freedom to exercise that good. This would have a very negative effect on me and my relationships. I developed friendships with people I never would have tolerated as a Christian. That stupidity would help me to develop the most valuable life skill which I still practice today. I began removing bad people from my life for no other reason than self-preservation. In my thinking, I was a libertarian. In practice, I was moving back to conservatism.

Morality and freedom go together because of the fundamental observation in The Federalist Papers that there is no liberty without self-government. Immoral people can't be free. I tried to deny this as a libertarian, but my experience taught me that this is true. And those who are in power find their jobs are made easier by religion. Vladimir Putin is no saint or even a good guy, but he gets it. Putin has claimed that Christianity is the foundation of Russia, and he has done a lot to promote Orthodox Christianity among the Russian people. This is quite a turn considering he was a former commie and KGB guy.

When I was a Calvinist, I had a profoundly negative view of human nature. I think it was overdone, but it did prevent me from ever becoming a libertarian. People were too wicked to ever be totally free. But this negative view of humanity served to protect me from a lot of bad people even if it kept me from making friends with a lot of good people. When I lost my faith, I lost my Calvinism and became naive as a consequence regarding human nature. I was changing in my thinking, but human nature does not change.

When I converted to Roman Catholicism, I was still a libertarian. I hadn't thought that far ahead. I just learned where I was mistaken as a Protestant, a Calvinist, and an atheist. Those mistakes were corrected when I was received into the Church in 2013. I've done a lot of reading and study since then.

I was aware that there are Catholics who are libertarians. There are also Catholics who are Democrats and even Marxists. What can I say about these people? They are idiots and hypocrites. They practice the bifurcated Catholicism of Mario Cuomo who didn't let his personal beliefs interfere with his politics. Libertarians who are Catholics practice a similar sort of mental bifurcation.

The fundamental belief of the bifurcation is that Catholicism does not apply to reality or to other people. It might be wrong for me to view pornography, but I am supposed to think it is perfectly alright for you to view pornography and even defend your right to do this. In essence, you have the natural right to do that which is wrong. This is insanity.

One of the greatest mental hang ups I had as a libertarian was trying to defend the inherent right to liberty. Libertarians boldly declare the inalienable and natural rights to life, liberty, and property. But without an appeal to natural law and God, this amounts to building a house with no foundation suspended in mid-air. Libertarian atheists like Stefan Molyneux try to rebuild on a secular foundation of "universally preferable behavior" except that it is nonsense. I first heard this argument as an atheist libertarian, and I knew that it was nonsense then even though I was hoping that it wasn't.

Human liberty is a human right because God exists. When God's existence is denied, you get Stalin. Atheistic materialist libertarianism is just a pit stop on that path to tyranny. This is why leftists will champion free speech until they get into power where they always rescind this free speech as they are doing on college campuses now. Once human rights are reduced to human preferences, they are subject to change. The universal human preference is for tyranny and evil. Stefan Molyneux is laughably wrong.

The logic of it all is very simple. To believe in human rights, you must appeal to morality. To appeal to morality, you must appeal to God. And when you appeal to God, you must acknowledge your need for obedience to God. Liberty is simply the freedom to do what God allows and commands. Unfortunately for libertarians, this does not include viewing pornography, paying for prostitutes, or smoking dope.

This fundamental logical contradiction in libertarianism is what makes it the fringe idea of a group of armchair academics who are condemned to never having power. This is why libertarians will always poll in the single digits and never gain high elected office. People know a logical contradiction when they smell it. You can either embrace God and have liberty as a conservative. Or, you can reject God and embrace tyranny as a progressive. But you can't reject God while embracing liberty.

The God question is why you see many libertarians defecting to either the left wing or the right wing. Bill Maher is an atheist and was a libertarian once upon a time. He is now effectively a progressive and a Democrat. As for Ron Paul and his son Rand, they are Christians and fundamentally conservatives. In theory, they defy Russell Kirk but embrace him in practice. Both men are pro-life.

There is no liberty without God. Once you acknowledge this fundamental truth, this makes you a conservative. Christianity is what makes liberty possible because it gives us the basis for liberty while giving us the virtues necessary to practice it and preserve it. We need God in order to be free. And the laboratory of human history and experience validates what I am saying while both libertarians and progressives live in fantasy worlds of paper utopias.

The reason I am not a libertarian is a simple one. I made contact with reality. Conservatism is reality based politics. Anarchy leads to tyranny. Order leads to liberty. A religious society is an ordered society. A society of atheists descends into anarchy or tyranny. Libertarians argue for the anarchy. Progressives argue for the tyranny.

I am a born again conservative. For those readers who are libertarians, I would encourage you to embrace reality. Put away Ayn Rand and read some history books. Those cultures and societies that enjoyed the greatest liberty and prosperity were Christian societies. The Enlightenment and libertarianism were late on the scene and lived on the borrowed capital of what preceded it before giving birth to the tyranny of Karl Marx. If libertopia ever comes to be, it will come from conservatism and will immolate itself as soon as it denies its paternity. That is essentially what happened to me in my personal experience as a libertarian.

I share my tale of defection from libertarianism and a return to conservatism because I detect that some people might be tempted by what libertarianism has to offer. Libertarianism is growing in numbers and influence, but this only serves to help progressives and Democrats while hurting conservatives and Republicans. The appeal of libertarianism is fundamentally a sex appeal. Why be a boring conservative when you can be a hip libertarian? For many, the politics as fashion thing wears off when you leave college, start a family, take a job, and start paying on a mortgage. Adulthood has probably done more to damage libertarianism than any argument I can make.

I will be a conservative until the end of my days. It can be a tough sell because conservatism isn't what you prefer. It is what you accept. There is no utopia in conservatism. There is only harsh reality with a hope for Heaven after you die. But if you can accept that reality, you can keep this country from turning into hell. And that's all I am working for today. I am trying to keep this country from going to hell.


The Permanent Minority

Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority.

There is an English proverb that says that there is no accounting for taste. This is very true. One look at the genres of popular music will indicate that. You have punk, metal, hip-hop, jazz, funk, blues, disco, and various sub-genres ranging from the beautiful to the hideous. To survey all that popularity, you might conclude that aesthetic standards are purely relative. Then, there is classical music to remind us that beauty is not relative. It is a genre of music that never catches on and never dies. It represents a permanent minority.

You will go broke trying to fathom and divine the popular taste. Both Hollywood and Nashville will hit upon formulas that they will mine to death in order to rake in as much cash as possible from the masses and their fickle tastes. Inevitably, there will be a backlash against those formulas as the public demands fresh novelties to satiate their demand for the new and different. What is popular today is certain to be a joke tomorrow. Then, it comes back again in the form of nostalgia. This is how happy songs become sad songs without changing a note.

In my younger days, I tried to understand and capture what it is that made a thing popular. I never achieved that end. I thought that if I could figure out what makes a certain kind of novel popular then I would write that novel and become very wealthy. But as I surveyed the list of bestsellers in fiction, I noticed that all of the titles were varied in style and genre but uniform in being bad. Here is an Amazon review for a Pulitzer Prize winning bestseller:
I don't understand why this book is so highly rated. I belong to a small book club that chose to read it and 4 out of 6 give up on it. Those that finished were very frustrated. Not only was this book too long, it was unbelievable due to insufficient character development. Things just sort of happened around people and they "changed" (not evolved) from chapter to chapter. There are many books I've not liked, but I have this crazy need to stick it out and finish anything I start. This is the first book in decades I gave up on. That should sum it up.
There were many reviews like that along with very glowing reviews. Obviously, many people liked the novel enough to make it a bestseller and give it prizes. Personally, I find nothing about it appealing. I might think differently if I read the book, and it might be a great book. But if it is a great book, I can tell you why. If it is merely a popular book, I cannot tell you why it is popular.

Great literature is great because it provides a moral education. This is not a didactic form of education like one of Aesop's fables. This is moral education that explores the human condition. Great literature is not necessarily popular literature. Shakespeare's plays never top the charts, but they never go out of print. They are a permanent minority of literature in the same way that classical is the permanent minority of music, and the Renaissance remains the permanent minority of art.

This same quality exists in the world of politics. The proposals and the politics of the progressive are always the popular ones. This is why small governments always turn into big governments and why socialism is the most dismal failure that never goes away but is attempted again and again by successive generations too dim to read a history book. In contrast, conservatism is not popular and has nothing appealing about it to recommend it to anyone. But conservatism is the politics of reality, and it endures even if it rarely prevails precisely because of its close attachment to reality and common sense. The bottom line is that it is hard to compete with government checks until those government checks start bouncing and the state run grocery stores end up empty.

The true, the good, and the beautiful are not popular. They are merely permanent. No one goes to them, but they never go away. For the individual, a choice must be made to pursue and embrace either the popular or the permanent. It would be nice to have both, but life is not like that. The musician can choose to play for the orchestra or for the local punk band. The punk band might sell millions of records and play arenas as some do. But the orchestra remains to the end of your days with musicians with gray hair intermingling with the young sharing the passion for an open secret. Popular music is always for its time while classical music is always timeless.

To be unpopular is to be a failure. This is because success is popularity. When a lot of people like what you are doing and actually pay you for it or vote for you, you must be doing something right. But this popularity is merely a proxy. I grew up in a time when a man could become successful by putting on cosmetics like a woman and playing three chords very loudly on a stage. Those men are now laughingstocks of the generation that outgrew them.

When you embrace the permanent things, you see and value the world differently. Popularity is held in suspicion. Status becomes empty. Money and happiness separate from each other. You go from wanting to be loved by the world to hating the world that you desperately wanted to love you back at one time. In short, you trade folly for wisdom and congratulate yourself for having found the thing everyone else overlooked.

The permanent things can never become popular things. You see churches attempting this sort of thing as they renovate themselves away from worship into entertainment. Those craving the real thing find themselves leaving quietly for the traditional worship of their forebears while those remaining turn the timeless faith into a sad joke. This is what happens when religion goes whoring after the world.

The Hebrews never became an empire. You can tell that they had empire envy sandwiched between Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans. Those empires came and went while the influence of the Hebrews lives on and has had more lasting impact than anything Alexander or Caesar ever dreamed of achieving. With the Roman Catholic Church, you have the religion of the Hebrews turning into the permanent religion of Christianity. Yet, the Church remained and still remains a permanent minority becoming an empire of the mind, the heart, and the soul. The majority never embrace her, and she never dies.

The wise individual shuns the popular majority in favor of the permanent minority. It is a hard path to choose. Not everyone can manage turning their backs on the world. There are also regrets wondering what could have possibly been gained for the price of one's soul. But gaining the world at the loss of your soul is never a good bargain. Retaining your soul is worth being a failure and a nobody in this life. Afterall, you end up living forever in eternal bliss. In the meantime, you have truth, beauty, and goodness to console you and to reassure you that you made the better choice in joining the permanent minority.


Knowing the Unknown

It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand.

One of the holy grails of physics is the theory of everything which attempts to explain it all. My personal belief is that the TOE will never be discovered and will always elude the human race. I base this on the simple fact that the universe has a peculiar quality. It becomes stranger and more mysterious as we discover more about it. This quality flies in the face of our expectations. The fundamental assumption behind all of our research and exploration is that the universe will become less mysterious the more we learn about it. But this is not the case. We solve one mystery only to replace it with a bigger mystery. There are simply things we are never going to understand.

People of faith already know this truth. It is there in the Bible. Here was God's reply to Job:
Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 
God questions Job and asks him how things were made and how the universe operates. Job wondered why he had suffered and questions God, and God answers him with his own questions. God was not being a smart aleck with Job but pointing out a fundamental truth that we all must grasp. We cannot comprehend the wisdom and power of God. These things are unknown to us, and we need to realize that they will always be unknown to us. Even in Heaven, we can never fully grasp or exhaust what God is and what God does.

The atheist lives with a certain epistemological arrogance. He believes that he can know everything, and what he does not presently know will yield to his efforts inevitably. But this arrogance slips to the admission by various atheists and scientists that "the universe is not just stranger than we imagine but stranger than we can imagine." This inability to know everything about the universe is why atheism inexorably leads to pantheism. Atheists deify the created order they cannot understand while confidently asserting that there is no Creator. Yet, common sense has to wonder why an indifferent universe would produce conscious beings such as ourselves.

The agnostic goes to a place where knowledge of anything becomes impossible as he adopts a certain epistemological humility on things. But this is a false humility. We can know things. The universe does yield to our inspection and tells us things. It just doesn't tell us everything. Just because we can't see everything is no reason to close our eyes or gouge them out.

We can know things. We can't know everything. There are things we can understand, and there are things we will never understand. But we can know that God exists, and He is good even if we do not understand everything else. And we will know what God wants us to know and what we need to know. God does not leave us in the dark.

Being in the dark is like being blind. But being in the light can also be blinding. Going immediately from the dark into the light can be blinding. We need time for our eyes to adjust. The light of God is like this. It takes time to see things as we grow. But even the most well adjusted eyes cannot stare into the sun. Our vision cannot survive such intensity.

We have to trust that God shields things from our vision for our own good. God does not hide Himself from us for His sake. He hides Himself from us for our sake. We are incapable of knowing, grasping, comprehending, or even surviving a direct encounter with the Almighty. So, God reveals Himself indirectly through creation, revelation, and personal encounter.

There comes a point in every believer's journey of faith where the desire to know is replaced with the resolution to trust. This is a hard transition to make. Many people stumble at this point. But this is what Abraham did when he was commanded to put Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. This is what Job did when he decided to just shut his mouth and leave it all up to God. This is what Mary did when she consented without reservation to becoming the Mother of God.

This abandonment to God without reservation or understanding is the beginning of what is known as the unitive stage of perfection. Satan in his accusations against Job was making the case that Job being perfect was actually afflicted by earthly attachments. It doesn't take much wisdom to see that Job's trials match the three stages of perfection. His first trial deprived him of all of his wordly goods which represents the purgative stage. The second trial deprived him of bodily health and comfort which represents the illuminative stage. The final trial was when Job began to despair and question God which lead to his abandonment completely to God in all things in the unitive stage. The aim of the Devil was to deprive Job of his faith, but he only succeeded in deepening that faith.

The irony of God is that we end up understanding Him more when we cease striving to understand Him and His ways. We can use two words when it comes to knowing God. One word is "apprehend" which can mean to lay hold of or catch something like a thief but also to know something in part. "Comprehend" is to know something completely. With God, we can apprehend Him, but we can never comprehend Him. This is an important distinction to make.

God comes to us and on His terms. We do not come to God on our terms. When we strive to comprehend God, we come to God on our terms and demand His submission to our understanding. This can never happen. It is an impossibility. So, we come to God on His terms and He allows Himself to be apprehended. He reveals Himself to us to our level of understanding. We can never know what God has not revealed to us.

God increases our understanding when He confounds our understanding. This is precisely what He did with Job. The most important thing we can understand is that there are things we cannot understand. We have a duty to understand the limits of our understanding. And we must humble ourselves to live within those limits. This is knowing the unknown.

The blessing of knowing the unknown is a peace that settles in our hearts and our minds. We do not know how God created the world, but we do know that He created the world and sustains it. We do not know the future, but we do know that all things work towards God's good end for us. We do not understand our present trials and difficulties, but God gives us enough blessings to let us know that He cares for us. We do not always see God in our circumstances, but we know that He is always there. God knows His business. We don't.

It is hard to get to this place of total trust and abandonment. We still like to think that we understand and actually have some sort of power over what happens to us. But this is quite ludicrous. It's like thinking that we can fly a plane without training better than the trained pilot at the controls. That's where our prayers become vital. In prayer, we submit our control and understanding to God's control and understanding. In prayer, we declare that we don't know. This is why so many say that prayer does not change God but changes us. It can be hard at times, and we wonder what is going on with God and His business. It is those times that we submit to His plans whatever they may be trusting that God knows best. At the very least, He knows better than you. Just leave it up to God.


The Positive Power of Negative Emotions

Then came to him the disciples of John, saying: Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but thy disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast.

Do you know any happy people? I know some happy people. They are filled to the brim with joy and vigor and zest for life. They always have smiles on their faces. They are also the most deluded and gullible people that I know. The happiness and stupidity are a package deal. You can take it to the bank that the person with the smile on his face has no clue what is going on.

I don't like happy people. This doesn't come from avarice. It just comes from the simple observation that happy people live in delusion and have a very bad habit of deluding others. When you lay some honesty on them, they call you "negative." This is because reality is negative to the happy person.

Happiness is not possible in this world. The best we can attain is a foretaste of happiness found in interior life. Most people miss this true happiness because they have been beguiled by the false happiness of this world. Swept away by the giddiness of their own imbecility, they exchange the truth for the lie. They build their houses on the foundation of sand, and they will weep bitter tears when those houses collapse into ruin.

It is better to have a life of negative emotions and experiences and to encounter them early in life. Young people are typically born into stupidity, and it is always a calamity if they remain there. The path of wisdom is painful, yet it leads to true happiness. Jesus Christ tell us this in the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 
Those paradoxical lines certainly perplexed those who first heard them just as they perplex us today. Jesus says that these people with their negative emotions are actually happy. How can this be? This is because happiness is not a mere feeling of pleasure or bliss. It is a state of being.

People who experience anger, sadness, and grief have a greater grasp of reality. The pain of negative experiences drives people to ask the hard questions. Why are things the way they are? Why is life so awful? How can I ever be happy in such an awful world?

People are made for happiness. It is the end that we all seek. Yet, happiness eludes us like a carrot on a string. The surest path to unhappiness is to aim for happiness. This life never delivers on what we seek and desire. So, we lie to ourselves. And we lie to others in various ways to convince both them and ourselves that we are happy. We post pictures on social media of our fabulous and happy lives as if the empirical data of a photograph can turn the fantasy into reality. The reality is that we are just fooling ourselves.

The better path is to embrace those negative emotions. We need to run with them. We need to let the pain of it all tear into our souls and break our hearts. We need to allow the hurt to burn away our illusions about this life.

This embrace of misery and suffering is anathema to our modern ears. For those who live in the first world, negative emotions are something to be banished from our minds. We glut ourselves on consumer goods, food, drugs, fancy cars, entertainment, and a veritable smorgasbord of earthly delights. Yet, this first world excess has its citizens reporting high levels of emptiness and dissatisfaction and depression and suicide.

The feeling of dissatisfaction is known as angst which comes from the human condition. Even when we are experiencing the good times, a part of us feels that it must end at some point, and it does. The anticipation of these calamities produces in us high levels of anxiety. But this is a good thing because angst keeps us sober.

God allows us to suffer for the sake of our good. God cannot work with happy delusional people. God has no interest in beguiling us with vanities and foolishness. This is the devil's work. God offers us hardship known as the cross.

Suffering deprives us of our delusions, but it also drives us to another delusion. This is the delusion of despair. Once we have given up on happiness in this world and in this life, we are tempted into believing that happiness does not exist at all. We face the gaping maw of the dark abyss of pessimistic and atheistic nihilism. When the devil can no longer trick you, he will opt to bash your brains in and drive you to self-harm and destruction. If the hopes of this world are just lies, then the hopes of the next world must be lies, too.

Karl Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses. This comparison to narcotics was the lie that religion is a false comfort. Deprived of material necessities, simple folk turn to religion to delude themselves. Yet, what comfort is there in a religion of a crucified leader and His calls to sacrifice and martyrdom? Certainly, there are better lies than this one.

The reality of the Christian experience is between the delusions of worldly happiness and existential despair. And that, Gentle Reader, is the hardest thing to embrace about the Christian religion. It isn't the darkness. It is the hope. Despair allows us to give up. Hope perseveres.

Our hope is sustained in Word and Sacrament. Without these two things, we are doomed. The satanic endgame is to deprive us of Word and Sacrament through various stratagems. First, the devil fills us with hopes of happiness in this world. When this fails, he drives us to despair of finding happiness in the next world. The end is the same--Hell.

Our negative emotions have positive power when they drive us to Christ. This is the primary reason God allows negative experiences in our lives. This is why Job was allowed to suffer and why St. Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. Likewise, God allows dark nights of the soul to fortify us against despair.

There is no happiness without God. God alone suffices. The problem is that we are too stupid to see this. So, we suffer in order to strip away this stupidity. We should never envy a happy fool. Ignorance is bliss, but this ignorance does not last forever. Be grateful that you discovered this early instead of too late.


Amazonian Reflections

At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death. Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.

This prophecy from Saint Francis always blows my mind because it details exactly what is happening now with Pope Francis. I think Bergoglio taking the name of Francis was no coincidence because Saint Francis called him out centuries ago in this prophecy. And this prophecy is not apocryphal but belongs to the authentic published works of the saint. Here is the fuller passage for context:
Act bravely, my brethren; take courage and trust in the Lord. The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase. The devils will have unusual power; the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who obey the true Supreme Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal ears and perfect charity.
At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death. Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.
There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God….
Those who persevere in their fervor and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth…
Some preachers will keep silent about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Our Lord Jesus Christ will send them, not a true Pastor, but a destroyer. 
Works of the Seraphic Father Saint Francis of Assisi, pgs. 248-250. PDF
This sounds exactly like what is happening in the Roman Catholic Church today. Now, the skeptic will scoff and say this is "retconning" which is a shortened version of "retroactive continuity." All prophecies are derided on the basis of retconning as events unfold. A famous example of this retconning would be the works of Nostradamus who has a terrible track record for prophesying such that people who know better say that his handful of accurate prophecies are that way by pure chance. Are we retconning this prophecy of Saint Francis?

I have read a great deal on these sorts of prophecies and the apparitions of our Lady at Ecuador, La Salette, Fatima, and Akita which are all approved tell of the same calamities that we are witnessing today. They are so vast that I will not quote them but will encourage the Gentle Reader to do as I did and go to Google for deeper reading on what our Lady told us. All of the prophecies point to an infiltration of the Roman Catholic Church leading to grave scandals, promotion of heresy, and persecution of the Roman Catholic faithful. All of these things are happening now with the sodomite sex abuse crisis, a heretical pope, modernists like the Jesuits promoting filth and lies, and those Catholics who adhere to the authentic faith being persecuted and shut out from what belongs to them.

As I write this, the Pan-Amazon Synod being held at the Vatican is drawing to a close, and it has not failed to disappoint. The final document is acknowledged by insiders as having been written before the start of the Synod. The Amazon Synod is pure political theater and represents the victory lap of the modernists. They own the Roman Catholic Church now. It belongs to them now, and they will do as they see fit as they wreck what remains of the faith. The faithful can do nothing except sit back and watch or maybe toss a few wooden idols into the Tiber in a feeble protest. I support that act of defiance, but it really amounts to nothing. The apostasy is happening, and we are powerless to stop it.

My critics will point out that this is not the true Church but the Antichurch as foretold by Fulton Sheen. I agree. Modernists are not Catholics. They may have the buildings, but we have the faith. We have already endured this during the Arian heresy. But the modernists now have something the Arians never had. The modernists have a pope. And that fact is what causes such heartburn for the faithful today.

Let us not delude ourselves concerning Pope Francis. The man is a heretic. He has said so much and done so much now that it leaves no doubt that he is both a formal and material heretic. If you are not convinced yet, give it a few more days. Francis will not fail in delivering even more evidence of the already obvious. The simple fact is that the current occupant of the Chair of Peter isn't even Catholic and was this way even before he was put there. Anyone who doubts the true nature of Francis is delusional.

Why do certain people insist on deluding themselves about Francis? That is easy to see. They cannot reckon with the calamity that what Jesus promised would never happen has actually happened. The gates of Hell have prevailed, and we now have a pope who is not only fallible but is actively destroying the faith of the Roman Catholic Church. So, they go to great lengths of logical gymnastics to deny that Francis is a heretic. It is enough to make a sophist from ancient Greece blush. Or, faced with the obvious, they slide into their own heresy of denying Vatican I and the doctrine of papal infallibility. Or, they resort to the ludicrous tautology that the pope is infallible except when he errs. The poor fools do such damage to reason and common sense that we can now just dismiss their ridiculous arguments and pray they figure it out at some later time.

The obvious answer to this calamity is the one Saint Francis of Assisi has delivered to us. We have a man not canonically elected raised to the pontificate. We have an antipope. So many wish to deny this obvious fact that they impugn and calumniate all those who even consider it as "cuckoos" and "tinfoil hat wearers." Yet, I prefer this lunacy to the alternatives. Either Francis is not a heretic, or our Lord is some sort of liar.

I have already looked into the matter and written about it here at the C-Blog. These are the things I believe. Pope Benedict XVI was pressured and threatened into abdicating. His abdication was only partial, half ass, and invalid which is why he still allows people to call him Benedict and continues to wear a white cassock and his fisherman's ring. There is no such thing as a half pope or even a retired pope. Then, you have the Saint Gallen Mafia and Bergoglio himself violating canon law in order to put Bergoglio in the pontificate. Then, there is the simple fact that Jorge Bergoglio was a heretic both before and after his election. These four facts or just one of them is sufficient to invalidate this pontificate.

Ask yourself a question. Does Pope Francis look and act like a true shepherd? If you compare Francis to the bad popes in history, he makes them look righteous because none of them attempted to demolish the faith and morals of the Church despite their personal scandals. Even if you compare Francis to the antipopes of church history, those antipopes are better men than this guy.  There is no question about it. Bergoglio belongs to the Devil.

Once you contemplate or embrace the idea that Francis is an antipope, you feel something good inside. You feel relief from the scandal. Your faith is renewed, and you feel hope once more. You see Francis as being the culmination of the centuries old plot to install a heretic on the throne of Peter. The faith remains intact because we are at liberty to disregard the errors of this wicked man. We are left with enduring him.

I believe Francis is the scourge that God has allowed upon a Church that has drifted into apostasy. God has sent us a destroyer instead of a true shepherd to afflict us for apostasy. This apostasy is at all levels of the Church including the laity. Bergoglio is our punishment. The unfortunate aspect of God's punishments in this world is that the innocent suffer with the unjust. If you are familiar with the Old Testament, you see God following this same pattern with the children of Israel.

Once you see Francis as an antipope and not the Vicar of Christ, you can hold on to the faith pure and unchanged. You can remain a true Catholic. But what about schism? It is only schism if Francis is the true pope. And, if he is a false pope, you are in schism by thinking that he is the true pope. You are caught in a Catch-22 where you are possibly damned either way you go with this. But I think God in His providence has provided us more than ample information to draw the correct conclusion. If Francis sounds like a heretic and an antipope, then he is a heretic and an antipope. The sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd. Francis is not the shepherd.

What is to be done about this calamity? There is nothing you can do except pray and endure it. This mess will have to be sorted out and corrected by the legitimate successor to Pope Francis. Since Francis has seen to packing the College of Cardinals with modernist scum like himself, it seems likely than the next pope will be as bad or worse than Francis himself. He may even be a second antipope. I don't know the future on these things. I can only deal with the present in light of the past and the prophecies given to us by the saints and our Lady.

There is an alternative to this antipope hypothesis I present to you. You can become an apostate yourself. You can embrace modernism and "God's surprises" as Bergoglio refers to them. God really does will gay marriage and women priests and artificial contraception and abortion and pantheism and religious indifferentism. You can decide that the true church is not the Catholic Church but the Episcopal Church and work to turn the Catholic Church into the Episcopal Church. I am sure the Archbishop of Canterbury will be delighted to become the next Vicar of Christ. As it stands, that current Archbishop is more Catholic than our pope. Or, you can just skip this foolishness altogether and become an atheist.

The bad guys have won. Notice that I did not say "winning." The victory is already complete. We are now in checkmate. You can become a schismatic, a heretic, or an atheist apostate. Saint Francis has already warned us that those who remain true to the faith will be regarded as rebels and schismatics. I never counted myself among the Lefebvrists and the sedevacantists, but I am finding that their positions are becoming moot points if Francis is an antipope.

The bottom line is that the Roman Catholic Church is in total error and confusion now, and this confusion will only increase as time goes on. The bad guys have won. There is nothing you or I can do about it. When you are out of moves, this is checkmate. And, when you are in checkmate, only divine intervention can change the situation. God Himself will have to intervene. And, if He doesn't, then God doesn't exist. Jesus was just a con artist. And the almost 2000 year history of the Roman Catholic Church will be regarded as the greatest delusion ever perpetrated on humanity. This is why Saint Francis echoes the words of our Lord when he says that if these days are not shortened, even the elect would fall from the One True Faith. Those days are now here.

If you are looking to the priests, bishops, cardinals, or Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for some sort of consolation or answers, you are wasting your time. The bad guys deny the truth while the good guys remain silent with piss running down their legs. They are a pathetic lot. Yet, it would all be made better if Benedict would break his silence or if a single prelate would come forward and declare the Francis pontificate invalid. This is not going to happen. All of the prophecies said this would happen, and it is happening.

The situation is in God's hands. No one is going to fix this but God. And, if God does not fix this as He promised, then God does not exist. Because of Francis, your faith now hangs precariously over the abyss of apostasy and atheism. I believe God will deliver us from this calamity and vindicate Himself and all those who have placed their faith and trust in Him. Those who believe in God and His promises will not be put to shame.

What will this deliverance look like? It will look exactly like it did in the Old Testament. It will be violent. The modernist heretics and their silent enablers will come to a bloody demise. There will be murder and physical destruction. God used bad guys like the Babylonians as His instruments of punishment in the Old Testament. I believe His instrument of punishment will be the Musloid barbarians that Pope Francis loves so much. God's wrath will be poured out on this Antichurch of sodomites, heretics, and cowards. They will all die and immediately enter eternal damnation. The Great Apostasy will end in the Great Chastisement as foretold. The rest of the world will be left shocked and amazed at the spectacle and know without doubt that God exists.

But I may be completely wrong on these things. I may just have a fevered imagination burning underneath a tinfoil hat. If this is the case, the Amazon Synod will produce a document that Francis will use to ordain female deacons and allow married priests at a minimum. These will only be stepping stones to the next round of "God's surprises" which will be women priests and openly gay clergy in sodomite pseudo-marriages and civil unions like they do in the Episcopal Church. And the apostate laity will be free to live openly the sinful lives they live in secret. The Roman Catholic Church will empty out and become a sad relic of a superstition that lived for way too long. There will be faith no more nor a Lord to return to find the faith gone. Unless God intervenes, this outcome is inevitable.

I have already been an atheist, and I don't care to be one again. But I prefer the truth above everything else. I became Catholic because I believed and still believe that Catholicism is true. There is one outcome of this calamity that I know is certain. The truth will be known. Either God is real and keeps His promises. Or, He isn't real at all, and we are to be pitied as deluded fools who pledged our lives to a lie. It is all in God's hands, and this is a scary place to be. I believe God will vindicate the faith we have put in Him. We just have to hold on until that vindication comes.

UPDATE 10/25/2019: I just read the news that Francis has fished his idols from the Tiber and intends to display them at the closing Mass of the Amazon Synod on Sunday. This may be disappointing news to many faithful but not to me. This man is a manifest heretic and an antipope. Now, he will glory in his antipathy for Christ, His Church, and the One True Faith. I am grateful that this has happened because it establishes even more fully what I have come to believe about this man. Francis is growing ripe in his sins. When his fall comes followed by his eternal damnation, let no one say that he did not deserve what he had coming to him.

I do not expect Francis to show any restraint going forward. He will probably go for the jugular and ordain women as priests now. Forget about women deacons. But that will be good, too. No doubt will be left when it comes to this man. He is not the true pope. The true pope is cowering in fear somewhere in the Vatican.


The Evelyn Waugh Option

The liturgical changes in question stemmed directly from the Second Vatican Council, which met from 1962 to 1965. For many, the council was, in the famous words of Pope John XXIII, a chance to “open the windows [of the Church] and let in some fresh air.” This was not so much the case for Waugh, who loudly (though unsuccessfully) protested the radical transformations foisted upon Catholic worship. These changes included an emphasis on vernacular languages over Latin, a revised lectionary, and significant alterations to the components of the Mass. Waugh’s words in response to this revolution are arresting: “Church-going is now a bitter trial,” he wrote. Elsewhere he said, “the Vatican Council has knocked the guts out of me.” To a friend, he wrote, “I have not yet soaked myself in petrol and gone up in flames, but I now cling to the Faith doggedly without joy.” In another letter to a cleric, he sought to know the least he was “obliged to do without grave sin.” This is remarkable, coming from one of the most famous Catholic writers of the 20th century, one who had previously adored the Mass.
CASEY CHALK in The American Conservative

The new Mass of Paul VI is what scandalized and deflated novelist Evelyn Waugh so profoundly. I have to wonder what his reaction to today's scandals would be. We have a gigantic sex abuse scandal with pedophiles and sodomites engaged in all sorts of filth, and prelates covering up for them. We have orders pushing communism under the guise of "social justice." The teachings of the Church are being destroyed by the day. We have a Vatican Bank in the clutches of the mafia. Then, there is the pope who denies the divinity of Christ. Having the Mass said in the vernacular seems like small potatoes in comparison. But Evelyn Waugh did exercise an option which was to do the least that he was obliged to do without grave sin.

Recently, I brought to the attention of my priest, Father Jerk, sacrileges being committed against our Lord in the eucharist by parishioners. This was nothing more than sending a link to a blog post from a fellow parishioner discussing the sacrileges. The response from Father Jerk was what I expected from the guy. It was a long diatribe about how the parishioners basically suck. One thing I have learned over the years. Good leaders blame themselves. Bad leaders blame their people. Father Jerk is a bad shepherd.

I am very well informed about the scandals and failings in the wider Roman Catholic Church. But I also know that I could ride it out serenely if I belonged to a good parish with an orthodox priest and a Latin Mass. I know of such a parish in my diocese, but I live too far away to attend Mass there. Instead, I am stuck with the rest of my diocese in attending parishes that are lackluster at best where priests spread their Spirit of Vatican II heterodoxy and celebrate the Mass with the least amount of reverence or care. Then, there is Father Jerk who turns the Mass into a clown show with his narcissistic personality disorder. Finally, we have a bishop who doesn't care about any of this garbage, has been caught sheltering a pervert priest, and has his own sex abuse claim against him to contend with.

I belonged to the Knights of Columbus in my parish except they have let my council wither and die as no one bothered to show up anymore. I was one of those knights, but I think almost getting killed in an accident and recovering from that has excused me this year from being more active in the council. Before that, my inactivity was due to the simple fact that retired boomers like to schedule meetings during the week where actual knights with real jobs and families find it difficult to attend. Long hours and a long commute killed me as a knight. When I recommended moving our meetings to Saturday mornings, this was met with the expected response. This time would conflict with golf games, fishing, hunting, and preparing to watch college football games on television.

The Knights of Columbus are dead anyway. The organization amounts to an insurance company and little else. Most men can't afford the life insurance. The organization no longer resembles the mutual aid society Father McGivney intended. Membership is in steep decline, but the Knights hide this decline by tricks as they pay the dues of knights that no longer attend or care to belong to the organization. The group has also sold out by supporting illegal immigration, letting pro-abort politicians remain members in good standing, and putting their money into the heterodox Crux news website. Carl Anderson's response to the auto demolition of the Knights of Columbus was to change the fourth degree uniform from traditional to Girl Scout third world dictator. Needless to say, no one likes this.

My personal life is a shambles from my accident. The hardest thing I do each week is to drag myself to Mass to meet my Sunday obligation. I attend the Spanish Mass where I understand very little of what is going on. That is OK to me because this is what a Latin Mass would be for me. The reason I attend the Spanish Mass is because it effectively mutes Father Jerk whose Spanish is still at the high school level. He could be reading from a trashy romance novel, and I wouldn't know. I just sit in silence knowing that Jesus sits in silence in the tabernacle. I go to suffer with my Lord as some clown puts on his Vegas show. There is one thing Father Jerk has done for me. He makes me appreciate virtually any Novus Ordo Mass where he is not present.

My giving has changed dramatically. I stopped giving beyond the Diocese to things like Peter's Pence and the USCCB. Then, I stopped giving to the Diocese. Now, I put a mere dollar in the offering envelope each week to cover the cost of the envelopes and the hosts we consume. I put the rest of my money into the building fund and the capital campaign for the parish. I figure the building can't do bad things, but it may get sold to pay for sex abuse claims. We even bypassed the Church in our almsgiving by giving our donations directly to people in need. The main thing for me is to not pay Father Jerk's salary anymore.

These are sad times to be a faithful Catholic. It is all I can do to maintain my faith. I have concluded that I am obligated to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and to support the parish materially. That is all I do now and all I will do now. I pray for the priests and prelates, but what I ask for is punishment on these wicked men. There is no fate that could befall them that would not be deserved. This includes being plunged to the bottom of Hell.

Most of my consolation today comes from personal prayer and private devotions. I anticipate that Pope Francis and his modernist allies will inevitably invalidate the Mass in some way. When this happens, I will no longer attend the farce because it will be sacrilege. Christ will not be present in the tabernacle in this abomination of desolation, so I will no longer go to be with Him there. All I will have left are my beads and the Holy Bible. I would do more, but Catholicism doesn't work like that. I can work a soup kitchen, but I can't work the altars. Jesus instituted a division of labor in His Church, and the Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy. It is a monarchy that is now a tyranny.

The Roman Catholic Church is now the worst church in the world. We make the Protestants and the Orthodox look good in comparison. The Episcopalians have a more reverent liturgy than the Catholics. You can feel reasonably assured that your local evangelical megachurch won't subject your kids to molestation and rape. As it stands, the Roman Catholic Church is an international organization of criminals fleecing the faithful, promoting communism, sodomizing each other, and destroying our kids with unspeakable acts. Then, they express amazement at polls that show that less than a third of Catholics believe in the Real Presence. When you have done everything possible to kill the faith, what do you expect?

I don't know why God allows such things to occur in His Church. I don't know why He allowed me to get my brains smashed up in an accident. But I feel completely hollowed out and empty inside. I hold out the hope that things will get better. But that hope dims by the day. I think Francis will finish off what is left of the faith and replace it with neo-pagan sodomite earth worship. I expect rainbow banners, gluten free chocolate chip hosts, and women priests any day now.

What is the least I can do and remain free from mortal sin? That is the Evelyn Waugh Option. I am there now.  My prayer is that I can move closer to that good parish that I mentioned. The reality is that it may no longer exist by the time I get there. The faith is dying, and those running the Church are killing it.


The Softness That Ends in Bitterness

To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness.

I love Flannery O'Connor. You know you love a writer when you want to read them again. I can't say that for any other writer. I like Tolkien, but it is all I can do to read him the first time. When I get done with Lord of the Rings, I know I will never pick that book up again. As for Hemingway, you finish the book and feel like you never actually read the book. Flannery is the only writer in any genre I ever cared to read again.

My first encounter with Flannery was in high school when I had to read the short story "Good Country People" for an English class. Needless to say, I was amazed and enthralled. I can honestly say that it was the best thing I ever read in my young life in terms of fiction. I loved Flannery so much that I took a class for an entire semester in college on her work. It was worth it and remains the best literature class I ever took.

Why did I fall in love with Flannery O'Connor the way I did? That is easy to answer. Her stories struck me as gritty and real. They were without sentiment and unflinching in their portrayal of life and human nature. I realize that I never truly understood O'Connor. I understand her completely now. When you become Catholic, you are able to grasp the deeper things behind those stories.

There are four facts you have to understand about Flannery O'Connor. The first is that she was Roman Catholic. When I first read her in high school, I didn't know this. I just found her jarring and unsettling and a bit sarcastic towards Protestant types like myself. But her stories are complete enigmas without this Catholic understanding. Catholicism is not Protestantism. It is a shock to the system. Flannery shocked me, yet there was that strange attraction.

The second fact is that Flannery O'Connor was a Southerner. I am a Southerner, so I get this part about Flannery. Here is a telling quote from O'Connor:
Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.
What makes the South so different from the North? What makes Southerners so different from Northerners? The answer to that is easy. Southerners know that you can't fix what is wrong with human nature. This is reflected in the South's love for religion that is virtually non-existent in the rest of the country. Even the Catholics in the South are better than the Catholics in the North.

Southerners have a good view of God and a dark view on life and human nature. They know this world is not Heaven and never will be Heaven. Northerners tend to think they can fix everything, but you only have to look up north to see that this is a terrible lie. When people from the North encounter the South, they either describe the South as stupid or scary. In time, the stupid thing vanishes leaving just the scary.

I think Flannery found reinforcement for her Catholicism in the South. As she put it so well,
I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.
What this means is that Southerners know two things. The first is that human beings are wicked. The second is that they are unable to save themselves from their wickedness. When you visit the South, you will notice the remains of the old plantations, a lot of cemeteries and headstones, and a church on every corner. The result is a mix of past sins, mortality, and a knowledge of the Almighty and the need for salvation.

The third fact about Flannery is that she lost her father to lupus when she was 15 years old. This tragedy could only serve to reinforce in Flannery a belief that life was awful and short. This third fact also dovetails into the fourth fact about Flannery O'Connor. Flannery had the same condition as her father. It would cause her a great deal of suffering and eventually kill her at age 39.

These four elements about life served to eradicate from Flannery O'Connor's life any notions of sentimentality. Sentimentality is where you put emotions and feelings over reason. A great example of this is how people look back with nostalgia on the good old days of their youth forgetting the hell that it actually was. Another great example is the way people look with optimism to future plans thinking that things will be awesome in the future. For Flannery O'Connor, lupus eradicated nostalgia and optimism from her life. She was not sentimental.

Sentimentalism always ends in sadness. Sentimentality is the wish for a world that does not actually exist. It is the desire to create a delusion and then live in that delusion. If you want to know what this sort of thing looks like, you need look no further than Ayn Rand.

Flannery O'Connor despised Ayn Rand. No two women could be more opposed in their worldviews. Rand was an atheist who concocted her own philosophy of life based upon capitalism and selfishness. She weaved a personal fantasy about herself that looked like the fantasies of the characters in her novels. Rand was a neo-romantic preferring to write heroic stories about idealized beings. The result was that her work comes off as unreal, cheap, and pathetic. This is what Flannery had to say about Ayn Rand:
The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.
The conflict between these two women is easy to understand. Rand lived in a world of self-made delusion while Flannery lived with a grotesque reality. For Rand, fiction was an escape from reality. For Flannery, fiction was a shock to the system that forced you back into reality.

I have read both women, and they represent two worldviews that I have embraced at different times in my life. When I was a libertarian atheist, I was down with Ayn Rand. She felt like hope and life in a world that only offered nihilism. I embraced that libertarian life and philosophy and the bad taste that goes with it. It also left me empty and with the sneaking suspicion that I had substituted the delusion of one religion with the delusion of another religion of sorts. Atheists do not close themselves to religion and delusion. They actually open themselves to the religion and delusion of their choosing.

Atheists are not realists but reductionists. For them, existence is reduced to the material. Your experience of this existence is purely subjective. This leaves you with two options--bleakness or sentimentalism. Rand chose sentimentalism. Flannery chose neither.

For O'Connor and all real Catholics, the choice is not between bleakness or sentimentalism but between becoming bitter or becoming better. Our bitterness comes when life does not meet our expectations of it. If you are fortunate, you will experience sharp pains and disappointments in life. This suffering has the effect of stripping away our hopes and delusions of making a Heaven in this fallen world. Conversely, grace enables us to see and find hope in the world beyond this world.

In Flannery O'Connor's stories, the characters come to a moment of grace when their illusions about life get stripped away or shattered in some way. These are usually unsettling or even violent encounters. But at the same time, the characters are given a glimpse of true bliss if even for a moment. As Flannery put it,
All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.
You see this sort of mystery reflected in Christ's passion and in your own suffering. Agony is painful but also an encounter with grace.

The world wishes to escape suffering. Catholicism embraces suffering. Flannery O'Connor was someone who suffered in life. Yet, she lived in a way that seems more alive than the plastic fantasies of Ayn Rand. O'Connor harbored no illusions about life or human nature, but she was not without hope or joy either. Flannery offers us two great remedies for dealing with life.

The first and most obvious remedy is faith. Flannery O'Connor was a woman of faith. She attended Mass daily and read Aquinas as devotional reading. From all I know, Flannery never wasted a moment of her life contemplating any other path in life except the Catholic path instilled in her by her upbringing in the Church. There's a reason our Lord gave us prayer, the Word, and the sacraments. They sustain us. For some odd reason, we forget that we need them.

Flannery's second remedy was humor. As bleak and grotesque as Flannery's stories can be, the humor comes through. As Flannery put it,
Either one is serious about salvation or one is not. And it is well to realize that the maximum amount of seriousness admits the maximum amount of comedy. Only if we are secure in our beliefs can we see the comical side of the universe.
There are many stories and quotations that show Flannery O'Connor's funny side. She was a Catholic smart ass. There is a certain type of humor that is unique to the Roman Catholic. Jewish humor takes ordinary things and makes them painful. Catholic humor does the opposite. For the Catholic, pain is the ordinary.

You are allowed to laugh. You are allowed to cry. But you are not allowed to whine and complain. When we complain, we imply that things could be different from the way they are. This is sentimentality. Life is the cross. We are fools to think life is not the cross. And that's the gist of Flannery O'Connor's thoughts and writings. This life is to be endured on the way to something better and permanent. As long as we accept this, it keeps us from the softness that ends in bitterness.


The Problem With Minimalism

The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity.

I have read many books and learned many things, and I have come to agree with the author of Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. Minimalism proposes to be a new thing under the sun, but I see it as an old thing dressed in a new outfit. This old thing is Epicureanism. And because minimalism is actually an old thing, it has an old problem.

Before Epicurus, there was a school of crass hedonism among the ancient Greeks. This would be the school of the Cyrenaics. The Cyrenaics believed in pleasure with physical pleasure being superior to mental pleasures. They also believed that pleasures can only be enjoyed in the present, so they placed little value on the pleasures of the past or the potential pleasures of the future. Needless to say, this school of hedonism lasted about a century before Epicureanism offered itself as a superior form of hedonism.

Epicurus was the first minimalist. He observed correctly that the things you needed for life were few and easily obtained. Wanting things beyond the necessary only led to frustration, anxiety, avarice, and many other negative traits and emotions. Here is a bit of that Epicurean wisdom:
If you shape your life according to nature, you will never be poor; if according to people's opinions, you will never be rich.
When it comes to material things in life, Epicurus was a genius. Epicurus chose to live a simple lifestyle that seemed almost ascetic. But Epicurus stopped short of pain. Epicurean refined hedonism holds that happiness does not reside in the abundance of pleasure but in the absence of pain. Since Epicurus was satisfied with a loaf of barley bread and some water and time spent in his garden with friends, he pursued and achieved the closest thing you can have to a painless existence in this life. Then, he suffered terribly from a massive kidney stone that would eventually kill him.

Today, minimalists who have probably never read a word of Epicurus have embraced the Epicurean philosophy for a modern time. Here is a nice quotation from the minimalist Leo Babauta about living with less:
Such a simplified lifestyle can be truly wonderful - you'll finally have time for the things you really love, for relaxation, for outdoor activities, for exercise, for reading or finding peace and quiet, for the loved ones in your life, for the things you're most passionate about. This is what it means to thrive - to live a life full of the things you want in them, and not more. To live a better quality of life without having to spend and buy and consume.
Epicurus would agree 100% with this. Today's maximalist consumer is a modern day Cyrenaic slaving away to earn money to buy unnecessary things that give momentary pleasure and chronic stress. The minimalist is the modern day Epicurean who rejects the consumerism of today's Cyrenaics. The pleasures of massive consumption are not worth the pain that consumption brings.

Minimalism solves a lot of problems. Because you need very little to survive and even thrive in life, the minimalist is set free from clutter, buying more stuff, buying flashy stuff to impress people they don't like, and spending more time and effort to earn more money in order to buy more stuff they don't need. There is no question that this strategy of minimalism is superior to the maximalist consumer alternatives.

A typical minimalist will downsize from the McMansion to the studio apartment. He gets rid of all of his furniture except his couch. He pares down his wardrobe to the 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants he actually wears day to day. He makes them all the same color in order to not think hard about matching his clothes. He makes his life as spare and as spartan as possible. Then, he spends the rest of his time posting pictures of his empty apartment on Instagram.

This lifestyle works on the material level. When you need less stuff, you need less money. Needing less money means zero debt and having savings in the bank. Needing less money means needing to work less. And working less means you have more time to spend in your empty apartment alone with your thoughts. This is where we discover the problem with minimalism.

The problem with minimalism is the non-material world of our own minds. You can be a minimalist, but this will yield little tranquility if you are paranoid and delusional. It doesn't help if you feel like a loser in life. Minimalism means nothing if you are in constant fear of death, or you've been diagnosed with a fatal illness. Epicurus recognized this own deficiency in his simple lifestyle which is why he turned to philosophy.

When we think of philosophers, an image of a dour faced guy like Nietzsche springs to mind who thinks deep thoughts about many things that torment the mind. Or, we think of a profound man of wisdom like Aristotle who knew a great deal about many things. But Epicurus was not this type of philosopher. For Epicurus, the goal and purpose of philosophy was to alleviate and banish the pains produced in our own minds. Philosophy was not pursued for its own sake but for the sake of happiness which Epicurus defined as a pleasant life. Here is what Epicurus wrote about the purpose of philosophy:
Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering.
Today, this Epicurean philosophy looks like self-help. The entire self-help industry exists in service of the pursuit of human happiness.

If you read early posts from the archives of Zen Habits, you will find very practical advice for conquering bad habits and living a simpler life. Then, you end up reading current posts about meditation and mindfulness which are all geared to banish stress and negative thoughts from your life while trying to cultivate tranquility. Many of these insights are derived from Eastern religious traditions like Zen Buddhism. But they essentially reinvent the wheel Epicurus gave the world. Here is what Epicurus wrote on tranquility of the mind:
He who has peace of mind disturbs neither himself nor another.
Virtually any Zen Buddhist would agree with this statement. In addition, the goal of minimalism is to achieve this peace of mind. Obviously, consumerism does not achieve this peace of mind. But does minimalism do this? Does minimalism achieve its aim of tranquility?

The first and most basic mental disturbance we all reckon with is our mortality. We are all going to die. The Epicurean antidote to this problem was simple--ATHEISM. Once you deny the existence of God and reduce all religion to superstition, death is reduced to nothing more than the cessation of sensation. Here is what Epicurus wrote on the matter of death:
Accustom yourself to the belief that death is of no concern to us, since all good and evil lie in sensation and sensation ends with death. Therefore the true belief that death is nothing to us makes a mortal life happy, not by adding to it an infinite time, but by taking away the desire for immortality. For there is no reason why the man who is thoroughly assured that there is nothing to fear in death should find anything to fear in life. So, too, he is foolish who says that he fears death, not because it will be painful when it comes, but because the anticipation of it is painful; for that which is no burden when it is present gives pain to no purpose when it is anticipated. Death, the most dreaded of evils, is therefore of no concern to us; for while we exist death is not present, and when death is present we no longer exist. It is therefore nothing either to the living or to the dead since it is not present to the living, and the dead no longer are.
For Epicurus and modern day atheists, death is the end of consciousness on par with going to sleep, going under anesthesia, or the blank nothingness of our lives before we were born. If there is no afterlife, there is no pain in death. Pain can only be experienced in life which explains why atheists are so quick to commit suicide when their lives become painful and unpleasant.

But what if God exists? And what about spending eternity in Hell? If God and Hell exist, then death is to be feared. Not all minimalists are atheists. Some are Christians who embrace the simplicity of the lifestyle as they pursue their religious aims. I don't think minimalism and religion are in conflict. Minimalism may help you where you spend your money, but it doesn't answer the problem of where you will spend eternity. That issue of death will cause you more emotional turmoil than a bit of clutter in your closet.

Before you die, you will suffer pain like Epicurus did with that kidney stone. No trick of the mind is going to make that pain go away. The simple fact is that disease and injury are as certain as death. And the anticipation of disease, injury, pain, and massive hospital bills are enough to demolish whatever tranquility you derive from owning just two pairs of shoes or deleting apps from your iPhone.

Epicurus also put great store in having friends. Here is what Epicurus wrote about friendship:
It is not so much our friends' help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.
I interpret this to mean that Epicurus liked to borrow money from his friends and was a moocher. That may just be my cynicism, but I have never understood how Epicurus could derive such confidence and pleasure from his friendships. The reality is that most people are selfish and inclined towards evil. They will use you for money and forget you in your time of need. You can never have confidence that they will help you or even refrain from not hurting you.

Minimalism does not address the issue of friendships and relationships except to lament living with someone who doesn't share a minimalist lifestyle. Then, there are the neighbors who disturb your tranquility with their bad habits, your awful boss at work, your backstabbing coworkers, and even the idiots on the highway you have to deal with on your commute. Minimalism may help you to eliminate crap from your life, but it doesn't help when it comes to other people's crap.

But let's imagine you can banish all of these negatives from your minimalist lifestyle. You have perfect health. You will live forever with no fear of death. You won the lottery which sets you for life and reduces your social interaction to greeting the people who deliver food to your home and the garbage man who takes away your trash. What do you have left? This would be boredom.

When people see the sparseness of a minimalist's living space, they think one thing. This person must have a boring life. You could watch television except there is no television. You could read books except there are no books. There is the laptop and the smartphone except these things are devoid of apps, links, and all the rest. The minimalist discovers that the tranquility he has found is what everyone else calls boredom. Life is reduced to sitting cross legged on a yoga mat and meditating.

That is the problem with minimalism. It is good at dealing with clearing out your living space, but it is useless for that space between your ears. Once you have emptied out your life, you are left with an empty life. At least the maximalist could cover over the emptiness with a lot of stuff.

Life leaves you with two options--pain or boredom. Minimalism offers boredom as a superior path to pain. Then, it attempts to relabel that boredom as "tranquility." If you try to alleviate the boredom with activities, this ends up requiring you to buy some things. I live a very simple life, but it still requires four different pairs of shoes.

Accumulating a lot of useless material goods is not the path to fulfillment. No wise person disputes this. But banishing material goods from your life doesn't lead to fulfillment either. Minimalism just relieves you of stress and burdens in life while leaving you with emptiness.

People who go down the minimalist path inevitably turn to something to solve the emptiness problem. For Leo Babauta, it was Zen meditation and mindfulness. Others turn to hobbies and travel. Some turn to religion. Still, others turn to ancient philosophies like Stoicism. Virtually none of them remain in an Epicurean state of being a bum. The blank wall inevitably ends up with a picture on it.


Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?

When the stars threw down their spears 
And water'd heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

The existence of evil and suffering is a cause of grief for believers and a cause of unbelief for unbelievers. How can God allow such evil and suffering in the world? This is not a question the Bible ignores as suffering features prominently in the New Testament as well as Old Testament books like the Book of Job and Ecclesiastes. Great thinkers like Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas tackle the problem, but their answers are unsatisfying. Even modern thinkers like Peter Kreeft are left at the end with saying that they don't know. Who wants to hear that? Yet, I think a satisfying answer does exist. The answer is plain and easy to understand and has always been there in the Bible staring us in the face.

The Problem of Theodicy

The problem of theodicy is a fairly easy problem to state. God is good. God is all knowing and all powerful. Evil exists. No one disputes the existence of evil. What is called into question are the attributes of God's omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. Those are big words for some readers, so I will state it plainly as I can. Evil exists because God is either evil or incompetent. This flies in the face of all we know and have been taught about God and is blasphemy. Yet, we are at a loss to resolve the problem. So, people have made attempts at resolving the problem.

The Manichean Answer

Manichaeism was an old Gnostic sect that began with a teacher named Mani back in the 200s. Saint Augustine is famous for once being an adherent to this heretical cult. The religion of Mani is dead today, but it does live on in one idea which is dualism. Anyone who has ever watched Star Wars with its Force that has both a Light side and a Dark side knows what dualism is.

The Manichean answer or dualist answer is that evil exists as a sort of negative to God's positive and must exist by logical necessity like darkness to light. God did not create evil. Evil exists by itself. This argument undermines the omnipotence of God. It also implies that evil has always existed and always will exist. God is powerless to do anything about evil.

Rabbi Harold Kushner's Answer

In 1981, Rabbi Harold Kushner published a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Kushner is one of those good people who suffered the loss of his son to the rapid aging disease of progeria. In trying to come to terms with that tragedy, Kushner comes to the conclusion that God is good, but He is powerless to end evil and human suffering. Essentially, God is not omnipotent. Kushner meant well with his book hoping to comfort people in their grief, but he has written blapshemy in this regard.

The Atheist Answer

The atheist answer to the problem of theodicy is very straightforward. God doesn't exist! Philosopher Peter Kreeft admits that the problem of theodicy is the atheist's best argument, and his response is to say ultimately that he does not know. The agnostic/atheist skeptic Michael Shermer dismisses all of the Christian arguments on the matter as philosophical word games. And, as a former atheist, Shermer's opinion was essentially my own. The problem of evil was a Gordian knot that was solved with the slice of the sword of atheism.

What Aquinas Has to Say

Now, in my personal opinion, Saint Thomas Aquinas is the greatest thinker that has ever lived. I think he clearly refutes the atheists with his proofs for God's existence, and I think present day science does provide the empirical data that confirms Thomas's philosophical arguments. God exists because nothing comes from nothing.

Thomas also goes on to argue that God has the attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. These attributes are necessary to God's being. To put it bluntly, how can God be an imbecile, an incompetent weakling, or utterly indifferent to a world that He cared enough to create? Either God exists in all of His attributes, or He doesn't exist. This refutes Rabbi Kushner.

Thomas then refutes the Manichean error by stating that evil is not a thing in itself but a good misdirected. God did not create evil. God created good. Evil comes about when creatures with free will (angels and humans) exercise their free wills in disobedience to God. Evil exists as a consequence of free will. The question should not be why God allows evil. The question should be this. Why does God allow evil beings to exist? Phrasing the question in that way also provides a clue to its answer.

This last argument from Aquinas is enough to settle the problem. It resolves how God can still be good and all powerful while allowing evil to exist. Yet, no one seems to find satisfaction in this answer. This is because Aquinas didn't explain any further the beauty or consequences of his argument. I will now fill in that blank and give you, Gentle Reader, the satisfaction you are seeking.

Evil and Suffering

As I explained in a previous essay, evil and suffering are not synonymous. Evil can be the cause of suffering, but it can also be the cause of pleasure such as when a husband cheats on his wife or the satisfaction an angry man feels when he commits an act of violence or murder. Conversely, one can do good and suffer for it such as when Jesus went to the Cross, or we sacrifice something for the sake of the good of the other such as giving up a Saturday to raise money for kids with Down's syndrome.

Atheists link evil and suffering, but I think this linkage is an error. Evil properly defined is disobedience to God. The atheist likes to mix and match his terms because he does not see or want to see the irrationality of his own argument. So, I will make it plain. The atheist is arguing that God should give us a paradise without God. God already provided a paradise with Him and has done so again through the redemptive work of Christ. The atheist does not want this.

A Paradise Without God

I have never heard an atheist make the argument that free will was a bad idea. In fact, they glory in free will and think Adam and Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit was an awesome thing. This is what the knowledge of good and evil means. We know good and evil, and we get to choose. We get to live a life apart from God and His commands. The atheists also express a certain admiration and gratitude to Satan for this "gift." But Satan did not give free will to men. God gave it.

Evil came about because of the exercise of free will in disobedience to God. We can argue that we didn't eat the forbidden fruit, but free will was not lost in the fall. We add our signatures to the Declaration of Disobedience in that original sin when we choose to sin as well. Today, atheists try to negate this free will and responsibility by various appeals to biological determinism. It isn't their fault somehow. We are no better than animals that obey instinct. But this is nonsense. If you have known the speed limit and refrained from breaking it, you have the knowledge and the ability to obey it. Humans have free will.

The problem for atheists is not that humans have free will, or that free will has been exercised to do evil and disobey God. For them, their problem is that this evil has brought consequences known as suffering. Behind this argument is the desire the atheist wants for a paradise without God. The atheist wants to live in bliss while doing evil. And this is why atheists refuse to believe in God and pursue utopian delusions like communism or reduce life to mere seeking after pleasure with the option for suicide and abortion when that pleasure is no longer attainable. And they are mad at God for not fixing this problem for them even though they created it.

God does fix the problem of evil, but it is not the solution that atheists desire. Here are the options on God's menu:
1. Negate free will. 
2. Allow evil to go unpunished but rewarded. 
3. Obliterate all evil beings including you and me. 
4. Make a way for people to turn from evil back to good while resolving all of the damage and harm done by the disobedience.
God went with option 4. I present this menu of options to show that we also would go with option 4. God did not create this problem, and He is fixing the problem He did not create and has no obligation to fix. Why is there a problem?

Some clever sophist will point out that these options negate the omnipotence of God. Why can't God make 2 + 2 = 5? Such arguments are complete bravo sierra and nonsense. God does not exist outside of logic because God is logic. There are no contradictions in God. If God cannot will Himself out of existence, does this mean God is not God? Somehow, the stupidity of this nonsense is wiser than the wisdom of God.

The Suffering of the Innocents

The atheist will point to various forms of human suffering especially the suffering of innocent people like children with crippling and fatal diseases. Nevermind the millions that have been slaughtered in the womb by abortion with the tacit approval and support of the vast majority of atheists. Because the innocent suffer, God is the bad guy, or He simply doesn't exist. The atheist answer to suffering is merciful death for themselves and others.

The reason why we all suffer is obvious. This world is not paradise. Paradise was lost in the Fall. It will only return to this world in a future restoration that only God can bring about. In the meantime, we are called to endure the suffering of this awful world in the same way that Christ endured it. Christ was truly innocent and did not deserve what was done to Him. But He accepted it and offered it up on behalf of the human race in atonement for their sins.

When atheists bewail the existence of evil, they are never referring to the evil of worshiping false gods, blaspheming the name of the Lord, or doing ill to one's neighbor by calumny or covetousness. Instead, they trot out some innocent victim of some natural or human horror and put God on trial for what was done to the victim. But as I said, the remedy these atheists seek is a paradise without God. They never stop to consider that such a thing is a logical impossibility.


For the believer, the existence of evil and suffering causes a great deal of grief and doubt. The atheist does not suffer from this same grief because he has ceased believing in God. The problem is solved for the atheist by taking God completely out of the problem. All that remains for the atheist is the evil that exists and the pitiless indifference of an empty universe where everything dies.

Could God not just wipe out the evil people and leave the good people? Well, God has done this very thing. He did this with the Flood wiping out all of humanity and preserving Noah and his family. The ground was barely dry before you saw the return of evil again. God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah in a similar fashion. And He brings chastisement and punishment upon nations when their wickedness exceeds a certain limit. These things are not cures for evil but merely checks on evil to hold it to a certain level. Evil exists like a mad dog on a leash. God has His hand on the leash.

The probably with wiping out humanity is that it takes the good down with the bad. God could have dropped the hammer of judgment on Adam and Eve the moment they ate the forbidden fruit, but this would have wiped out all of their human offspring including Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother. It would have also wiped out you and me. So, God showed mercy to the two evildoers and to the rest of us. Was God wrong for doing this? Is mercy an evil?

God shows mercy for the sake of the elect. When Abraham prayed for God's mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah, God said that He would relent if just ten righteous people could be found there. Obviously, there were none except Lot and his family who weren't so righteous. Yet, God spared them from the destruction that He brought.

A similar story is told of the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God tolerates the two to grow together for the sake of the wheat. Likewise, God tolerates evil in the world for the sake of those who believe in Him or will believe in Him. In addition, He allows people to suffer precisely to keep them from falling into evil or to turn them from evil.

Is there a better way than this?! No, there isn't. That was the final answer we get from the Book of Job. Fixing this world requires a goodness and intelligence beyond any human being. God has provided an answer, and there is no one in existence more qualified to give a better answer. This is why Job shuts his mouth at the end of the book. This is also why atheists should shut their mouths. They can't bring us a paradise without God, but they have managed to bring hell on earth.

Our only response to evil and suffering is patience. We have to let the game play out. That is essentially the message of the Bible. There is a lot of history in that book, and that story is still being told into the present day. We must remember how we were evil, and God was merciful to us in our wickedness. The atheist demands justice not realizing what foolishness he is demanding. Only a fool who thinks he is innocent demands justice.


Life is hard and difficult, and many things happen in this world that make us rage and cry. We are the reason for the evil in this world. The suffering is just the alarm bell. God is merciful for the moment because His justice will be final. People demand a world without evil, but this is a false demand. They really want a world of evil without suffering. How do I know? That's easy. Show me an atheist that became a saint while remaining an atheist.

Atheists don't become saints. Equating suffering with evil, they try to eliminate suffering. Inevitably, they fail and turn to their final answer which is merciful death for themselves or others. Since the end justifies the means for these people, they end up inflicting a great deal of suffering upon themselves and others in the process. I know because I did this when I was an atheist.

Here are two options for you to consider:
1. You can be evil in a world without suffering. 
2. You can be good in a world with suffering.
We will ignore the fact that option 1 is a logical impossibility. Let's imagine it could be had. Would you choose this option? As for option 2, this is the world we live in now. Then, there is the implied option 3 which is to be evil in a world with suffering. We already know what this looks like. This is where you try and eliminate the pain for yourself while saying to hell with the rest of the world including those you may hurt along the way. At some point, you will discover that this third option is also a logical impossibility.

Your choice is fundamentally this. Do you choose good? Or, do you choose evil? For me, I faced this choice as an atheist, and I chose the good. I knew that I never wanted to be a monster regardless of what it may gain me or cost me. In an Auschwitz style concentration camp, I would choose to be a prisoner instead of a guard. I would rather be the ashes in the oven than be the guy tossing the bodies in the oven.

Option 4 is to be good in a world without suffering. This place exists, and we know it as Heaven. There is neither evil nor suffering there. Unfortunately, you have to suffer to get there. The atheist does not believe in Heaven. Denying the existence of God and Heaven allows the atheist to live as he pleases. Inevitably, the atheist figures out that the pleasure he seeks eludes him. If he is fortunate, this realization comes on this side of the grave. And when the realization comes, it is an awesome thing.

God tolerates evil people because sometimes those evil people become good people. In addition, those evil people serve as a warning and a reminder to good people to not fall into evil. Regardless of the situation and circumstances of this world of misery, choosing to do evil should never be an option for us. For many atheists, they prefer to suffer in a world without goodness or God. This world actually does exist. We know it as Hell. The evil beings there will have eternity to try and turn it into Heaven.