Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Friday, February 23, 2018

msgrliptak tnQ. How to explain the many "contradictions" that shape our world today? Self-styled prophets seem to be everywhere: in universities, in the media, in politics, even in the world of mere entertainment; and their words are reported repeatedly ad nauseam. Meanwhile, in a barrage of shallow platitudes and outrageous contradictions, whatever "sure ground" provided by Church teachings is being undermined, ridiculed, dismissed or attacked (even by laws). Isn’t the state of solid thinking today so neglected or even assaulted that civilization itself is fashioning its own self-destruction?

A. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis, once sadly referenced people who fail to be distressed by the depth of evil all around, or inspired by the luminosity of the holy.

The tragedy here can begin in one’s youth, by a decision (even unconscious) simply to "drift" along the rivers of life, rather than "take up the oars," as it were, and deliberately set course. To structure one’s life without reference to God is to build one’s life in vain. Thomas Merton once wrote, "A Catholic is one who stakes his life on certain truths revealed by God. If these truths cease to apply, his life ceases to have meaning." (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 1968)

God is Truth, of course; hence every pilgrimage Godward must be made with and in Truth. The failure to observe this basic norm is one of the key reasons for our broken world today. Take, for example, the widespread rejection of (even contempt for) the Principle of Contradiction, a bedrock  rule of reasoning. As the ancient Greek thinkers demonstrated, a circle cannot be a square; nor white, black. Yet at least once a day in a debate one hears someone, somewhere, state, "I respect your opinion, even though I hold the opposite view." A frequently experienced example is, "I am personally opposed to abortion, but I respect your contrary view." (To respect a person is one thing, since respect constitutes a sign of charity. But to "respect" what is clearly an evil choice? How can a world be healthy, let alone prosper, with such thinking?)

Truth, then – a return to the quest for Truth – is a necessary means of clearing away the toxic environment in which we live. To use abortion again as an example: Can anyone truthfully say that, given an ultrasound image of a child in the womb, abortion is not a direct taking of a human life?  Or, more fundamentally, can one go on describing abortion, which crosses the natural moral law, as a "right to choose"?

In a sense, our world has become a global "Theatre of the Absurd," where happenings or statements are being interpreted as contradicting the realities being considered.

Being "politically correct" or "sociologically correct" can only make for a world more and more tainted by absurdity, and hence rationally retarded.