Charlie's Blog: November 2019


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.