Why I Don’t Care

You won’t like this post. Don’t blame me, blame him:

“A passionate, tumultuous age will overthrow everything, pull everything down; but [the present age] that is at the same time reflective and passionless, transforms that expression of strength into a feat of dialectics: it leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance.” — Soren Kierkegaard, The Present Age

Don’t tell the evil, godless heathens, but Christians today are only pretending to be “offended!” by the state of the world, what with its diverse immoralities and general suckage. We don’t actually care. Sure, we’ll argue the cause of Goodness and Morality with raised voices and carefully arranged countenances, but when it comes down to it, we don’t give half a damn about the Attack on Traditional Family Values.

The dominant feeling associated with fighting the Culture Wars — whether over abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, or any of those super-fantastic conversation starters — is not one of righteousness, zeal, passion, hope, or holiness. It’s one of bleaugh. It’s a desperate attempt to feel anything but nausea over the prospect of defending “God’s plan for marriage!” or whatever slogan seems popular. There may be joy in the fight — for fights are fun — but beyond that we don’t care. To be perfectly clear, I don’t care. Traditional family values can go rot, as can traditional morality, good government, and all the rest.

Now stay with me for a while. If you, Christian, don’t believe you’re at least partially feigning your disgust with the age, I hold you’re either holy or lying. If the former is true, leave the Internet and pray for us. For those of the latter bent, I’ve developed a quick self-help quiz for your answering pleasure. Please be honest:

1. When Obama announced the screw-religion-I’m-awesome HHS mandate were you (a) personally offended and disgusted (b) filled with deep sorrow or (c) oddly exhilarated. Discuss.

2. Defending traditional family values, like marriage over gay ‘marriage’, makes you feel (a) righteous (b) Christian or (c) slightly nauseated. If you answered (c), where does the nausea come from? Honest disgust over the proposition of natural marriage being redefined, or elsewhere?

3. The slogan “It’s a Child, not a Choice” (a) inspires you (b) has no effect on you or (c) vaguely annoys you.

4. True or false: Conversation becomes more animated when discussing the sinfulness of the modern world. (Discuss: Is the separation of the world from its Father a topic that should liven discussion?)

5. Would you rather read (a) a book on the rise of the culture of death or (b) The Little Flowers of St. Francis. Why? Alternatively, for you hardcore Catholics, which makes for a better conversation starter: (a) the fact of Nancy Pelosi or (b) the fact of Jesus Christ?

You see whither the blogger doth drive. Now allow me to ask you, is it at least possible that you’re feigning some of this Great Disgust at the sin of the world? I am, barring a few rare moments (like when I read philosophical defenses of infanticide).

But why? Why, so often, is the Christian’s defense of the things he holds dear a halfhearted affair? Why is our offense at the culture so very apathetic, so mixed with inappropriate excitement? Why do we feel excitement and exhilaration when we should be feeling sorrow, and indifference when we should be fighting?  In short, why don’t we really, truly care? Why is a soul-sucking weariness the principle characteristic of the Christian at battle today, he who is supposed to have joy in his heart and fire on his tongue?

I could be wrong, but suffer me to speak. Everything has been cunningly emptied of its significance. The Christian today defends ghosts and attacks with shadows. He may look like St. George, but he has been given a sword of cloud to fight a dragon of steam. He may kill the dragon in the end, but he will never be happy, fighting such a whispery battle.

Our culture achieves this emptying through a rabid desire to define everything as an abstraction.

A godless, pagan man, in all his unique rationality, might seriously consider the mysteries of human life. He might decide — after much deliberation — that the present age’s obsessive drive to normalize the killing of unborn children is wrong. All this would take place in the only place things ever take place — the human person.

But were our man to stand up and proclaim this discovered truth to the world, the world would immediately level him into an abstraction. He would cease to be a man who believes — in the depth of his being — that human life is of infinite value. He would become a pro-life man, part of the pro-life movement. He would be politely forced to exchange his weapon of steel for a weapon of cloud. For the pro-life movement is not real.

You may have a man against abortion. You may have several men against abortion. But the moment you draw a circle around those men, group them into a class, point to the circle and say, “Here is the pro-life movement!” you’ve created a deadly logical error. You may use the term to speak of the men as a movement, but there exists no movement. The circle is your own construction. There exists only the men.

Now when an idea becomes a movement, a generation, or a lobby, that idea is emptied of its significance. It becomes an abstraction. We who oppose abortion become a demographic, and can be ignored as such. We have pro-life arguments, we develop pro-life slogans, we try to convince people to join the pro-life cause. One can only feel true joy in fighting such a fight for so long, for it attempts to operate on the level of abstraction, attempting to convince people to join a non-existent thing. (Think of the last time you seriously entertained a pro-choice slogan. Why did you dismiss it? Was it because it was immediately and apparently illogical? Or because it was pro-choice, part of an abstraction which your abstraction rejects?)

Surely you’ve noticed this. Surely I’m not the only one who, whenever some TV channel hosts two people to “represent” the pro-life and the pro-choice movement in a debate, ends up hating everyone?

Or take the marriage wars. Again, a man might — understanding marriage to be the ultimate expression of love between two human beings, knowing love to be the desire of the ultimate good of the beloved, and recognizing that the normalization of homosexual activity has not been shown to lead the beloved to the good, physically or mentally — decide that marriage is an institution to which only two humans of the opposite sex are orientated.

But again, were he to stand up and express that “all else is sham!” he would be immediately and violently leveled. He would be made to defend, not himself, but a movement. He must fight on the behalf of the anti-gay-marriage movement, for traditional family values. He’ll become — perhaps — pro-family. Perhaps he’ll even be abstracted into being a Christian! It matters not: he will be leveled. He will be obliged to defend ghosts.

Thus it begins to make sense why the Culture Wars sicken us more than they do anything else. We must defend the Abstraction — have we ever defended ourselves? We throw around these puffs of air — pro-choice, pro-life, pro-family, liberal, conservative, Christian, pro-equality, traditional, modern — with the grand result of nothing ever happening. And why would it? None of these things are real. When two wisps of clouds go to battle, the world is unmoved.

I really must come to some sort of conclusion, as this will take me several more posts to explain. Let me end by saying this: If the March For Life was a march of human beings who saw other human beings as normalizing and legalizing the murder of infants, there would be cars burning in the street. As it turns out, there is no protest in the present age. There is only representation. There is no foolish human action. There is only the support of abstractions. Infants are being killed — we follow the lines the police allow us to follow.

But there is a way out. Till next time.

  • Cal-J

    Going for broke on every controversy you can get, huh?

  • guest

    You have made Mr. Walker Percy proud.

    • guest

      Dave? Is that you?

      • guest

        No sir. My apologies

      • ElCapitan

        “Dave’s not here man.”

    • BCSWowbagger

      Figured I was the only one enjoying the Lost in the Cosmos references here. :)

  • TP

    Have you read After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre? He speaks to this phenomenon in the book.

  • Alexandra

    This is actually a really really excellent post. I commend you, Marc. I’m not even the tiniest bit kidding.

    • Alexandra

      And now I feel bad, because I don’t think everyone who liked this comment realized that I’m impressed by this post for entirely different reasons than they do.

      • James_Locke

        reap. sow.

        • Alexandra

          Huh?

      • Cal-J

        Them’s the breaks. Description is a useful tool.

        • Alexandra

          It’s okay, I don’t actually care, I just figured I should put a stop to my post getting promoted.

  • Thomas Herge

    Yes, yes, yes. You hit it on the head. It’s all rather disgusting, isn’t it. Conversely, there is nothing more enlivening than people engaging people, soul to soul.

  • Kateri

    Thank you for your blunt honesty. You have no idea how much this resonates with me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.t.obrien Paul O’Brien

    I’m getting curiouser and curiouser for the next installment.

  • Timelady87

    It’s true that being a Christian mouthpiece, but not having a heart close to God is pointless. “If ..I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal…but do not have love, I am nothing.” We are called to holiness first.

    But, in regards to your comments on the March For Life, we can’t fight violence with violence. Burning cars in the street wouldn’t be doing unborn babies any favors. I think it would only hurt our efforts.

    btw, I really enjoy your posts. and I share most of them on fb. :)

    • Mary

      Yes…the difference between Soweto and Palestine is that in Soweto they never picked up a gun or a bomb…the world turned to back them…the Palestinians should have kept on with rocks…not bombs.

    • Joshparrish

      I get what you’re saying, timelady, but your curious use of elipses makes that verse into a confusing sentence.

  • Paula =)

    beautiful <3

  • Serendipitous Ravine

    Yes, it *is* Kierkegaard’s fault. I get what you’re saying, but jeez. Why’d you say it? Are you planning a riot at next year’s March? I’m so there.

    • Patrick Hoelscher

      I’m in too. Maybe we’ll even make the news this time…

      • TexAg

        You have my sword…

        • Redwards3

          And you have my bow.

          • TAlongi

            And my axe.

          • Ultimoqueso

            AND MY AXE

          • Cal-J

            That makes 5/6 companions. We’ll trade one hobbit for an extra dwarf. Three hobbits open!

          • http://www.facebook.com/alex.rasmussen2 Alex Rasmussen

            I’ll take a position as a Hobbit. I don’t want to miss this.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeanette-Hancock/1451440326 Jeanette Hancock

            One does not simply walk into the March for Life….

          • Fisherman

            I’ll be Pippin! WHERE ARE WE GOING?

          • Pietra

            This is the best thing ever. I’ll be Eowyn!! Enough of this being caged in to ideologies!

          • RyanKraeger

            This suddenly became the most epic comment thread EVER!

          • Marian

            You have my hairy hobbit feet!

          • Joe Gehret

            I so got dibs on being Theoden.

          • John C Wright

            Give them back, Frodo! Get your own weapons!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=788556061 Edward Carlin

            And my staff.

    • BCSWowbagger

      RELEVANT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rg43U_kySLo#t=1m36s

      Are we putting together a crossing-the-police-line mailing list or anything? ’cause I want in.

      • Serendipitous Ravine

        I think we are. Though we might be dressing up as the Fellowship….

  • Robyn

    How long is it till next time? Because right now I think I wanna just crawl in a dark hole and cry…

  • guest

    I get the gist of what is being said here, but I don’t think I’ll really understand it until a solution is proposed. If this is a problem, what is the answer? Maybe then I’ll get it a little better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kickintheface Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

    I once had this conversation with a few friends(purely theoretical, of course). I brought up the point that if we really gave a damn that infants are being slaughtered, shouldn’t they have to slaughter us in order to continue? Why are we not storming abortion clinics? These people are dying. They’ve already proven that they are willing to kill to advance their cause. We need to stop hiding behind banners. We need to stop hiding behind slogans. We need to stop hiding behind our computers. We need the world to know that we are not just a group. We are a group made up of members, members who are willing to die to stop this slaughter.

    • MCG

      A very good reason is that such a tactic would never stand a chance. It therefore does not meet the criteria for just war. At best it would associate opposing abortion with extremism, and push people to support abortion. Plus there is a huge danger of corruption within those defending life, because driven by rage their defense of the unborn would quickly turn to slaughter of those who slaughter the unborn, or even of those who approve of abortion without materially doing it themselves. The only way we can win this war is by winning hearts an minds, until abortion is considered horrible and abominable by the general culture.

      To put it another way, the ancient Christians didn’t end the slaughter of the Roman games by storming the Colosseum. They did it by converting the Roman Empire.

      • http://twitter.com/bcsny47 Brian Sullivan

        They did it by shedding their blood as martyrs in the Colosseum while the crowns cheered.

  • Mary

    People don’t care because they are lazy, spoiled robots (myself included). I am a stay at home Catholic mom who is SICKENED & DEEPLY SADDENED by the demoralized state of the culture my children are growing up in. I long to get in long debates/ healthy discussions about these topics with my friends, & most just want to talk about really enlightening things like what shoes are on sale at the mall. I have liberal friends who get so defensive that sometimes when they see me I can almost see steam coming out of their ears from built up heated disgust (maybe I’m to paranoid).

    I get caught up in my web of anger, fear,& helplessness sometimes. And then I go to adoration & realize that is EXACTLY what the father of LIES wants me & all of us to be. God calls us to speak His truth with love & grace, not hurtful accusing judgements. But it is so hard when the atrocities are so evil, like abortion. Today on Relevant Radio I heard the priest talk about monastaries as being like cell phone reception towers for God’s grace. Prayer is the key to open up channels for God’s grace to flow more freely & open the hearts of those in darkness & confusion.

    Within our domestic churches we are called to be mini grace reception towers. I try to focus on making my mini church as holy as I can. Then, I can “put on the armor of God” & have the courage to know that He will guide me to lead with gentleness & love!

    • Bookgirl

      Oh my goodness. From one stay at home mom to another: you read my mind and I didn’t even know this was how I felt. Thanks!

    • Rebekah

      you only feel that way because you are bored of being a housewife. you fuel your hate for the same reason your other friends only talk about shoes: boredom. if you fill your life with something that gives you more meaning you will not have space in your heart for anger and hate, and you will live more like Christ’s image.

      I’m know how busy you become with the demands of the household, it is truly the hardest job there is, but while it exhausts your limbs it does not quench the thirst of your mind. you justify the lack of satisfaction with an abstraction, either raising Christian children, or being a good wife, whatever it is, but that is as satisfying as a meal of vapor or smoke, to continue the author’s metaphor.

      do something real, that satisfies every human god-given search for intellectual fulfillment, and you will no longer be filled with blinding uncontrollable rage, but rather greater love for mankind, and that is the purpose of life that god has given us. to extend his divine love.

      if adoration is what inspires that fulfillment and love, do that. I feel as if love is like a compass needle. if we feel love when we do something, we are going in the right direction, if we feel hate, we are going wrong.

      that is why atheists do not believe, because we do not portray a strong enough example of love. True, Christian, unjudgemental, unconditional love. It is Gods place to judge, not man’s, and hubris is the worst sin of them all, it is the sin that cast Lucifer and his dark angels away from God and his love.

      • http://twitter.com/Lilac_Lily99 Elisabet

        “It is Gods place to judge, not man’s,” – Yet you just assumed the source of her hate was being a bored housewife? Housewives have very important vocations. That’s pretty insulting, condescending, and baseless. I know many housewives who are anything but bored of their vocations. Humanist pop-psychobabble generalization.

        Having God’s unconditional love does not equal God’s unconditional approval, if you are Christian.

        • Rebekah

          I certianly do not disparage the vocation of being a housewife. like i said, i believe it is the hardest job in the world. seriously, i do.

          the source of her hate, I will maintain, is boredom. however i am wrong to assume that being a housewife is the cause of boredom.

          I believe my point hold that hate can easily come from a desire to fill some void.

          Also, do not assume what generation I come from, and I have never heard of a “humanist pop psycobabble generation.”

          • Tommy R

            Rebekah, I would recommend you find a good spiritual director like Mary.

          • http://www.scificatholic.com D. G. D. Davidson

            You’re asking someone not to make assumptions about what generation you come from while you’re at the same time making assumptions about the source of someone else’s emotions?

            Why are you allowed to read minds and hearts over the Internet when others are not?

          • Mary

            Check out my blog, “Caregiving with Grace”

            It may help you….God bless!

            http://maryjsnustad.wordpress.com/

      • Mary

        Rebekah, I don’t deny that staying home raising my 3 kids can be lonely, difficult, & unfulfilling at times. But, overall, I feel very grateful that I am able to stay home & be there for them. I wouldn’t trade in staying home these last nine years for anything in the world. This vocation has it’s ups & downs, just like any other. But ultimately, I know the foundation of love, discipline, fun, & concentrated attention that they are gaining from me staying home is very important for their future stability & happiness in this world. That is what sacrificial love is all about. In just a few years I will be going out in the workforce again, pursuing my past teaching career &/or going to school to be a spiritual director. Our kids are young for such a short time, it’s important to embrace each stage as well as we can.

        My frustration and anger at those in society who continue to emphatically justify killing, dismembering, & sucking out small human beings from hundreds of mothers every day does not come from boredom. It comes from the deep deep conviction & knowledge I have that each & every conceived person is made in the likeness & image of God. Supporting abortion, as many of my liberal feminist friends do, denies the power of God & disrespects Him & others on so many levels that it makes me sick sometimes. Ultimately, it is the mercy & love of God that will win for life in the end. My job is to just not give up on praying for it & trying to be a positive loving force for change.

        You suggest I go & do something “real”, such as go in search for intellectual fulfillment. “Real” to me is lovingly caring for my mother who has early onset dementia & sharing our time and love with the other beautiful souls who live with her at her nursing home. “Real” to me, is being apart of an amazing group of moms/ friends at church who get together often to pray, serve our community, & support each other. “Real”to me, is about finding God in other people, especially in those who are hurting or lost. It is also about being the hands & feet of Christ in this world. “Real”is about living the Gospel in every way I can. But, then again, how can you possibly “really” presume to know what I need, when you don’t “really” know me?

        • Tommy R

          Mary, I would recommend you take up higher calling of spiritual direction.

  • Gail Finke

    Oh my God, Marc, you can read my mind! I often think that I am just stunted inside, or that something in me is just so broken that God will have to accept my weird, muted reactions because that is honestly all I have and so I’ll offer them to Him because what else can I do? Have you read de Lubac’s “The Drama of Atheist Humanism”? Because when I did (at the beach, because that is the kind of fun-loving gal I am) I got so upset reading about Comte that I wanted to spend the rest of my life in my room. Comte was a raving loony nutcase. And he described everything that I actually think. IMHO, this is in the air, like the “memes” those crazy people are always talking about. Or like rickets — no matter what wholesome, great food you eventually get, if your diet as a child gives you rickets, your bones are deformed forever. I remember once (for example) someone getting nearly distraught at the idea of a church being vandalized the tabernacle being smashed, and the Host lying all over the floor. The priest, she said breathlessly, had to do all sorts of things to cleanse the sanctuary. And at the thought of JESUS CHRIST SMASHED ALL OVER THE FLOOR, all I felt was taken aback her distress, and a little curious. “Wow, she is pretty upset!” not “Someone attacked and defiled the Body of Christ.” We live in a diminished world. PS: Great Walker Percy channelling!

  • http://www.facebook.com/balf11 Brian Formica

    Let me see if I follow so far…

    In our so-called advanced society (“we’re not barbaric because we have smart phones!” (yet human nature remains the same through the ages)), where many of us don’t face immediate threat to our lives and don’t really have to fight for them, we grow tired of fighting for something so intangible as an idea (or even a right)? You’re saying we don’t really care about the outcome of these “abstractions” … that it must be something else we care about, though you have yet to explicitly say what that is.

    If I’m right so far, I’m with the guest who says I don’t fully understand. Not until I see the answer, either on my own (God willing) or Marc shares it.

    P.S. What about wonderful ideas like abolition that came to fulfillment?

    • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

      The point was that it wasn’t abolition that gave the drive, it was people fighting for people. There is a dehumanizing factor when you start dealing with the abstract. As they say, a death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.

    • Steve N.

      Abolition was not an unalloyed good. That is that damn abstract thinking again. Whether it was worth 600,000 lives was a prudential decision… and a bad one. This is not even to count the permanent and (ultimately, I believe) self-destructive sea-change in America toward a monotonically increasing scale and scope of government to the direct detriment of intermediating institutions such as the Church and the Family.

      Eschatological immanentizers always seem so nice when you first meet them.

    • Robyn

      It’s funny you used abololition as an example when there are 27 million slaves in world, including in the US. But people think there just can’t still be any slavery in the US because the “abolition movement” was successful over 100 years ago

  • guest90

    The organizing of concepts/information/entities into groups (“movements”) is not a new thing. War, racism, persecution, and stereotyping result from individuals grouping themselves into nationalities and causes against eachother – these are not new. The problem is that we are either too selfish and lazy to care, pray, discuss, or protest about things that don’t directly affect our lives or we are burnt out on trying to care equally about all things. Lately, every single thing (religious and political) is advertised as a dire issue which we are all supposed to treat as being top priority. It’s as if we are no longer allowed to be interested in, moved by, or focused on different things anymore; we can’t each focus on specific areas that are important to us. Instead, we all have to focus on and fix EVERY problem. That’s like all Christians pursuing all the many forms of ministry instead of focusing on a specific area that they are called to…we can’t do it all. We can’t invest our heart and emotions equally into all issues any more than we can invest our money equally into all charitable organizations and still be able to make a difference. We have to have the freedom of investing ourselves into different “movements”, in order to be effective and not get burnt out.

    • Mikey G

      This may not necessarily be your point, but you struck a nerve of mine with the “I participate in x, y, and z ministry, therefore I am involved.” This brings to mind the One Body/Many Parts of 1 COR 12. When read continuously into the opening of the next chapter, I see the key; Love (Charity). Much of the apathy I observe in parish life today is due to the farce that is ‘multi-tasking’. I see more people trying to boost their spiritual ‘resumes’ with trying to be ‘foot’, AND ‘hand’, AND ‘eye’ — and not focusing on being the best ‘foot’ one can be. Excellence (Love) allows for focus and vice versa. Excellence (Love) makes a difference. We’re doing many things badly and no one thing well! But have been sold this bill-of-goods that “you CAN have it all” while all the time not really having anything at all!

  • Caritas en Veritate

    Maybe I’m weird…but what if you didn’t answer C? What if you cried from the depths of your soul when the HHS Mandate was announced?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1640074522 Joseph Jablonski

      Then, I think, you fall into that category of holiness, and aren’t charmed with the abstractions or seek to actually fight for the solution “in the world.” I think we can think of the category of holiness as more of a monastic type of holiness – withdrawn, and tears come not when we encounter something we choose to fight or deal with, but instead when we encounter a deep suffering which we find unavoidable and unsolvable concerning our position. Doesn’t mean unsolvable at all…just means that it hurts, and its not my place to solve it, but I know its wrong.

    • MCG

      I couldn’t answer A, B, or C. Mostly what I’ve felt is fear and deep concern. Fear for the world my children will inherit. As for defending marriage and the like causing nausea, to me the source of that is very simple: it comes from a sense of the near futility of trying to bring the good to people I know who have become used to shouting down anyone who disagrees. It causes in me deep sorrow that this wall against the good has been built, because so many are ruining their lives and possibly separating themselves from God. It is very sad to watch, to feel helpless about it. It is also personally saddening to know one is only filled with love for others and honestly wants what is good for them, but is made out to be hateful and a bigot, when nothing is further from the truth. I know our Lord said we should rejoice in such moments, and sometimes I do, but it is hard nonetheless.

      I sympathize with some of what Marc is saying, but his arrow doesn’t always hit the target straight on. I am, ultimately, very concerned for the good of many souls, and I know that that is something way beyond me, but I have difficulties not worrying about it from time to time.

    • Helgothjb

      I was very deeply concerned for our religious freedom, and still am. What hapened in Mexico was not that long ago and the people there did not expect it to happen.

  • guest90

    Basically, we have to be able to choose which battles we want to fight in because we can’t fight in them all. It should be considered acceptable for us Christians to fight in different battles, so long as we are representing the same God [and truth] and all the battles are being adequately fought by someone (even if it’s not always us)

  • Jennifer

    I have to admit I’m not quite sure where you are going? What’s your point? That we should care and we don’t. If we care it means we’re focused on the wrong things? Or caring is getting us distracted from the supernatural? Help.

    • Elaine

      As far as I can tell, it’s not caring that’s a bad thing, it’s caring about ‘abstractions’ and not the things themselves. For instance, if you say “I want to change the world”. That’s an abstraction because it’s too broad and it’s not what you mean. You want to change PEOPLE, because for us, people are the world. So what you really mean is ‘I want to help someone become closer to God’. Because at the root, that’s what changing the world is.

      So, Marc’s point is that we need to be less focused on abstractions like ‘the world’ and more focused on the specific people and things that need changing. It’s the difference between saying “I want to help women considering abortion” and actually volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center. Does that make any sense? Sorry, it’s late.

      • Penny Farthing1893

        Do both. Do the marches, like things on facebook, etc, and get yourself out of the door and in contact with some people who need your help at that moment. It never hurts to do a little extra, as long as your main focus is on the people who need help.

  • equesatrum

    “Let me end by saying this: If the March For Life was a march of human beings who saw other human beings as normalizing and legalizing the murder of infants, there would be cars burning in the street. As it turns out, there is no protest in the present age. There is only representation. There is no foolish human action. There is only the support of abstractions. Infants are being killed — we follow the lines the police allow us to follow.”

    QFT and very well said.

  • Akavarmint

    Right now I am living in the 5th most conservative county in America. In 3 weeks I will be living in a Chicago Suburb. (Prayers for my sanity will be accepted.) In going to the first Mass “up there” I witnessed not only liturgical violations but complete disregard for cannon law. I immediately started to look for whoever is in charge of the section of the diocese. Of course, as my luck would have it, the pastor of that church is the dean in that area. Oh joy. You have no idea how much I needed this article right now! Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the only ones who actually cares that this world is going to Hell in a Hand-basket while I watch helplessly from the sidelines. What can one person do, right?

    Well, I’m not planning on staying on the sidelines. I’m going to step across that police line before the year is up. It’s either that, or I’ll end up in the psychiatric ward. Because seriously, is it the world that gone crazy, or is it me?

    • Penny Farthing1893

      Thank you! A lot of people, myself included, actually do care about these things. It’s not feigned outrage. It’s caring that even the little things are done right. Even if such problems didn’t cause confusion and possibly scandal, which they do, they still aren’t ok. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Even more-so when it’s the Liturgy, which was actually designed by God, and people mess around with it. It gets my goat!

  • almostnotcatholic

    I told you, you would like the book.

  • Siobhan

    I can relate to the nausea; my other reactions tend to be fear and sorrow. A couple of years ago when I read about the Yale student and her abortion art project I was literally trembling and fighting tears, I had to leave my office and go to adoration. I just don’t get how this happened; Americans don’t just tolerate the evil, they’ve embraced it, are proud of embracing it, and are determined to shove it down the throats of the rest of us. It scares me, I fear for my son and someday grandchildren, and wonder how I could bring them into such a cesspool. Far from the joyful and life-embracing attitude I’m supposed to have….

  • Chris L.

    We are not called to change minds with debates and arguments of words or riot banners; we are called to change hearts with love, forgiveness, and prayer. We cannot persuade people to put down their swords if we are trying to take them up ourselves. We are not part of a “Culture War”, we are part of a “Culture Confusion” because the lights are so dim, and we cannot help brighten the lights if we are too busy being angry and upset and antagonistic.

    Things *are* happening, but hearts change slowly and invisibly. It is impossible for our love and prayers, if honest and true, to have no effect.

    Jesus did not remain on the cross because He had given up or didn’t care. Just because we are not fighting fire with fire (or with something as visually exciting and heart-stirring as fire) does not mean we aren’t fighting.

    People will not change their hearts if we seem threatening to them or if we seem like the sort of people who will say “I told you so!”; we cannot remind them of themselves.

    • Penny Farthing1893

      Well said. However, we are called to change hearts with love, forgiveness, prayer, and rock-solid arguments! St. Paul, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, etc, argued with people all the time. They also did it with love, prayer, and forgiveness. If arguing is your strong suit, use the gift that God gave you. Arguing is not saying “I told you so”, nor is it contradiction (I refer you the Argument Sketch from Monty Python). It is a series of reasoned propositions, from a certain premise or premises, to a conclusion. We should ask God to help us argue well and kindly, because the point of an argument isn’t to beat the other person. It’s to bring them around or teach them something. After all, “Instructing the Ignorant” is a spiritual work of mercy.

      • Chris L.

        A man who wants to turn to sin is not going to be persuaded to turn back around by rock-solid arguments; after all, he didn’t turn to sin out of logic in the first place (as he might claim), he turned to sin out of desire for something worldly, something not of God.

        Before our arguments will help him grow in understanding, we need to help him desire something else, and we do that by showing him love, by being instruments of God and showing him love through our actions.

        We should definitely be prepared to defend our beliefs when questioned or attacked; otherwise, how could they truly be our beliefs? But arguments work more miracles when they are honest discussions between people seeking to grow in understanding. Participants in the discussion need to have their hearts in the right place for the discussion to be of any use. (The devil surely finds joy in arguing all day and never getting anywhere.)

        And ultimately, at the end of the day, we cannot blame ourselves or our skills of the tongue for the greater evil we see in the world; other men will always have Free Will and the ability to reject a rational argument as easily as God’s love.

        • Adam

          A wise saint once said that conversion through the intellect (argument) is like threading the eye of a needle. The wider road to conversion is to speak to the heart. We Christians need to meet people where they are and form relationships to them that lead them to conversion. There is no magic button or magic argument, we have a duty to walk the long road of conversion, one by one. If we each did that with the people we meet every day, would the number of souls coming to Christ not be grand?

  • Jay E.

    *sigh* As usual, he is right. :(

  • Dumb (?) Catholic

    No comprende.

  • Tiber264

    Having, by the grace of God, recovered from the equal and opposite heresy, this post struck a nerve and dislodged a vertebrae. Making abstractions meaningless soon makes all words meaningless, and then all thought. I did not do what I knew was right, for I thought by seeing beyond labels I saw beyond those that they represented.

    I fall into what you describe, yes, (though I may not want to admit it), but not always. And what if I do? I can do what is necessary, when even I don’t believe it is right. God’s mercy on us is like that. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. It’s OK to go through the motions without the emotions, because actions can come first, and feelings later. A heretic gains benefit by reciting the creed, even if they don’t believe it.

  • Skeddy

    “If the March For Life was a march of human beings who saw other human beings as normalizing and legalizing the murder of infants, there would be cars burning in the street.”

    You positively nailed my struggles with my whole hearted and yet lethargic opposition to abortion. I am afraid (and at the same time hopefull) that some day we will be condemned just as we do those who looked the other way during the holocaust.

  • Emily

    Okay, I’m ready for the next one! =) Thanks, Marc!

  • Mrs L

    Francis Schaeffer said: ‘Every abortion clinic should have a sign over it saying: “This facility open by permission of the local church” ‘.
    I agree with you. There are people who are responding to some of these issues differently than the rest of the body though.
    Here is the story of one:
    http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2012/04/30/real-heroes-are-hard-to-come-by/

  • Joe Gehret

    You had to sell me on it there for a bit, but I get where you’re coming from… I often times get the curious urge to grab a random stranger on the street, shake them by the shoulder, and ask, “What are you doing to be holy?”

  • Jbolzon

    I can’t wait to read what you have next in line with this. Thank you so much for putting what I have been thinking for the past while about the pro-life movement into words. Excellent stuff. We need to think about how we can go beyond the wisps and abstraction to the core of what we’re talking about here – human dignity.

  • RomanCat

    I think there are some good points in this post and yes abstractions, distance, an unhealthy malaise towards anything higher all exist in excess in our society today. However, we are not defeatists and what’s more we do not fight by the same set of rules that the world does. We don’t burn cars in protest because we protest with love. Could that love be more profound? More contagious? More like actual love? Yes absolutely, if it’s not it stops short of being true love obviously. But this has always been the fight, to make things real, that is to keep a firm connection between the spirit and the flesh. I’m looking forward to your next post because while I can agree with some of these points, the rest just doesn’t sound like you. Christianity, love, the human person, are all so much more than what is represented here. Keep on fighting the good fight.

    • Steve N.

      Be frightened for your own future, then that of your children, then that of your local parish and local community. If time permits, be frightened for the future of your state. And if you’re a really, really efficient being frightened-ER, then (and only then) should you start to be frightened for the “future of America.”

      • Steve N.

        Sorry. That was for Austin below.
        Cheers!

  • Austin

    I’m frightened for the future of America. Now, after reading this article, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to doubt myself or doubt everyone else. I’m more than a tad-bit confused and even a little bit depressed now. I hope you clarify all this in your following articles.

  • Alex C

    A friend of mine asked me the other day, “Are we really the Church militant, or are we the Church pacifist?”

  • Val Bianco

    I understand and agree with your statements, not your conclusion.

    Any movement must have it’s organizers, it’s patriots and it’s adherents. By definition, theses roles may be mutually exclusive. The soldier would never order himself into battle, yet there are wars that must be won, and for that we have generals. The generals will always see battles as the first resort, but the statesman must see them as the last.

    Certainly the culture wars are tiresome, but so is exercise. Where would you be without it? Certainly, good organizers rarely make passionate speakers, and great speakers are rarely effective ” doers” but, all are necessary in any movement.

    I believe, as you may, that culture wars will only be won one person at a time. Hearts must change before laws will and that can only happen if we plant the seeds given us by the Holy Spirit and let HIm water them.

    Giving up on the culture wars completely, is akin to giving in to a thief. What if the policeman said to you. “Well, he came to steal your entire entertainment system, but can’t you guys just get along? Why don’t you just give him the stereo, and you keep the TV?”.

    Culture wars are fought in defense of centuries of civilization. If we give up in the name of “peace and quiet”, I assure you…they will be back for the TV!

  • UKStudent

    Question 1: b.
    Question 2: None. I shouldn’t even have to be defending these values. The full dignity of Man and the human person are being bypassed, and that is what I always try to centre the discussion around.
    Question 3: none, but c at a pinch.
    Question 4: only when that discussion turns to a solution phase. The reason they become more ‘energised’ would be that they make those discussing the matter angry, which is a more visibly energetic emotion than sadness.
    Question 5: depends on my mood. Today, a), but yesterday, b for sure.

    Great Disgust? For me, it’s more of a Great Sadness for modern culture. And yes, some of it stems from the fact that I can’t argue for or against anything without merely arguing ‘ideas’, as if that is all argument is. It’s like I need to leave the concrete behind to enter the realm of discussion, and it gets to me that for many people, they’re just exercising their mind by debating an issue, rather than seeing that it IS an issue. It’s NOT just opinion, it is NOT just words, there IS such a thing as objective Truth!

    I prefer to let my actions speak louder than my words. We show our faith through the way we live – albeit sometimes unsuccessfully. There is nothing apathetic about the way I live my faith, because living in faith gives such great joy!

    I totally agree with RomanCat about the way we should fight. Violence begets violence, and also turns the protestors into a statistic, into an abstraction, as something to react against, rather than to change for. Profound Love though, will change hearts before even minds are changed. The heart is so much more important – you can change your mind, or admit that you’re wrong, but until your heart also changes your actions are not going to change.

    • John

      When Pope John Paul II first spoke to the crowds after his election his message to people was: Be not afraid! Because he saw the fulcrum that moved the men of his age was precisely that: fear. Marxism and atheism and all the state-regimes, MAD and the cold war was all held together with the common bond of fear. We are afraid of nuclear war…of terrorism…of conventional war…of plague…of overpopulation/famine…of the poor…of pollution (plague and famine)…of death. And this fear more than anything else pulled the world of 1978 into either submission or nihilism. Be not afraid is a truly revolutionary message!

      When Benedict XVI first spoke to the world as Pope in 2005, his first message was similarly about a fulcrum and that is God is love! The modern era is desperate to find the meaning and elixir of life; is it sex? drugs? rock n roll? Secular hedonist materialism? Is it chemical or mineral or social or magical?

      Men and Women, young and old, minorities and majorities are driven to early graves seeking the meaning and origin of love.

      The Pope declares that God is love and thus to love anything genuinely we must ultimately be pointing towards God. This too is a revolutionary idea – that life does not have meaning because of stuff or sex or doing things….but has meaning insofar as we’re in a loving RELATIONSHIP. That religion and rules have no meaning except in RELATIONSHIP with God and one another! That the Catholic Church and all its pomps and works and rules and traditions has meaning only to the degree individuals are in loving relationship with God and through Him with each other….

  • John

    Some have taken to burning cars — or, more accurately, to shooting abortionists. They have been arrested, tried, convicted, and soundly condemned, including by our bishops. This route is not the answer because, within the laws of our state at present, this route is illegal. This is why you cannot compare the means to battle abortion today with the means of the Crusades of yesterday, which had the support of pope and king. The battle of the pro-life movement is being fought — and well fought at that — on the front lines with events like the March for Life. The March, like so many other similar functions, is a critical campaign in this war. We must fight it with the weapons approved by the Church, which today are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These are the swords that sing in our hands today, the spiritual counterparts to the metal of yesterday.

    So let us not downplay or, far worse, simply ignore the enormous good that the pro-life movement has accomplished, a good that is much more than whisps of smoke. A majority of this country now identify as pro-life. Contrast the numbers today with just 10 years ago. Pregnancy resource centers (I’m involved with one myself) have guided so many young, scared, and desperate women away from the clutches of the dragon and into the protecting arms of those who truly care (and they care not in words but by actually stepping up and doing something). Real human lives are being touched and changed. If you doubt it, just step into your local pregnancy center. You will be amazed at the dedication, the unabashed holiness of the people who work there (though they’ll never admit to such holiness).

    So don’t get down because the struggle seems so difficult with no end in sight. No one ever said that the struggle was going to be easy (in fact, I think our Lord said just the opposite). Don’t get discouraged because the evil one is dragging this out as long as possible. The dark forces want to wear you down, you who have the ability to defeat the darkness. This is not a time to moan and groan, but a time to rejoice. Victory is assured. The battle will be long and the struggle difficult. But we know who wins in the end.

    Arm yourself with the weapons that God provides. And keep fighting.

    • gustav

      Oh come on, man! Every week I go to an abortion clinic to pray and offer words of hope to the women. You know what? I’ll trade all the God damn “pro-life” bunker stickers — all the clubs, all the debate, all the mad feelings, all the sadness — for one other person to be there. I go to Mass, and I ‘feel good’: I replied “Lord hear our prayer” to the petition about child-killing; I occasionally talk with family about it around the thanksgiving table, and for all the awkwardness, I feel good. Hell, once a year I take a nice cushy bus out to DC and walk in the March! Maybe we should stop feeling good — until the unborn do.

      • Adam

        Brother, maybe you ought to be Christian in all things. We are expected to display a temperance in speech as well as Charity in all places. Adjust your language and do not curse the name of our Father in heaven.

        • gustav

          I bet there is no shortage of “pro-life” stickers in hell, nor bibles if I am to speculate. But your point stands. Thank you for your words. My apologizes.

    • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

      You shouldn’t shoot people, because it’s illegal? Is this Christian morality?

      TRiG.

      • Noxx

        Haven’t you heard? Killing unborn babies is wrong, but killing doctors is fine. Because they’ve SINNED.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DM6MGQLIHQXJ27RBTU4XSCEKF4 David

    No, I don’t believe that I am feigning my outrage with such issues for two reasons:

    1. I have children and I don’t wish them to grow up in an environment of moral confusion driven with totalitarian energy.

    2. I see in all these cultural conflicts a deep commitment to self-deception which I regard as deeply sick and twisted.

    I’m nauseated by having to defend life, marriage and morality not because I lack interest but because I think that I shouldn’t have to defend such things. It drains ones energy to think that ones opponent in argument is either so ignorant or so self-deluded that not even mutual respect, let alone any level of agreement, may be achieved.

    • Alexandra

      This is something interesting I’ve realized about both the debates about abortion and marriage. Both sides think that their view is so completely obviously correct. Both sides feel exasperated that we are even talking about an issue so fundamental.

      Those pro-abortion rights feel so strongly that withholding abortion rights is a violation of a woman’s bodily autonomy, and bodily autonomy is so obviously important. Those anti-abortion rights see a human life being terminated by an abortion, and the right of all humans to live is so obvious to them.

      Same thing with marriage. We’re all feeling so much exasperation and sadness that we have to have this fight. I find it fascinating, but at the same time, it’s going to make it so much harder to find a solution. I’m not sure an agreement is possible. Someone is going to lose, and the other side will be devastated. I know that I honestly will leave the country if my viewpoint doesn’t prevail, and I think that’s really the only real complete solution.

  • Lauren G.

    Your little quiz really hit home.

    I’m seriously just stunned with this. Good job Marc!

  • Colleen

    I am silently cheering right now, and this is SO timely – I just got home from a horrible day at work because I lost my temper with a coworker over his political comments. What bothered me wasn’t so much any specific political idea of his, but that he was engaging in a game of “Hey, I detest this group of people more than you, I was invited to a neighbor’s home and I knew just from the sign in their yard quoting the Declaration of Independence that we needed to get away fast!” This post helps me put words to my anger so much better than any explanation I could think of today.

  • http://ascentofcarmel.blogspot.com/ Theidler

    You are right. Kierkegaard will do that to you…I went through his Fear and Trembling a few years ago, and it wrecked me.

  • AttentionDeficitCatholic

    You make excellent and extraordinarily insightful points as usual, Marc (actually, this may be more so than usual).

    However, I am not sure I agree with the conclusions you are drawing.

    Of course, I could just be misunderstanding your point. Waiting for your next post with bated breath, to see what else you have to say about the matter.

  • tj.nelson

    This is brilliant. I am amazed I have never read your blog before yesterday. If you hadn’t been on Patheos, I never would have read your recent posts.

    Thanks!

  • Renee.S

    Wow. Just wow. This resonates so much. Can’t wait for more on this.

  • Karen May

    Oh wow! That was a great post!! I didn’t even realize the reality of it all. Can’t wait for the next part!

  • Ceitagh

    Ouch. Yes, vaguely nauseated and/or sickeningly exhilarated is all too descriptive. God have mercy.

  • Angela Joyce

    TexAg, Redwards3, Alex Rasmussan, Ultimoqueso, Cal-j and Joe Gehret… I love you guys!!!! But, Marc… I love you the MOST! Keep it coming!

  • Romulus

    we follow the lines the police allow us to follow.

    I’ve said for years that these marches will be pointless unless people start walking on the grass.

  • http://www.dailyhomilies.org/ A Servant

    Well… You have a point about gay marriage, which I really do have trouble caring too much about except that it means that public schools are going to become further tools of indoctrination of bad ideas, but not with pro-life. It is not contradictory for the March for Life to be peaceful. I would flip cars and burn them if it would do any good, but it would not, so why do it? Just to be clear how upset it makes me? That would be very self-indulgent.

  • John C Wright

    Will all due respect, sir, there must be something wrong with your analysis, because I am neither a saint nor a liar, and my disgust and hatred for all these evils of which you speak is absolute.
    I do not burn cars because and only because that would not accomplish the goal.
    Instead I write articles and books, because in a democracy only by persuaded the deimos can the culture be turned away from the death cult. It is not much, but it is what I can do.
    Also, I can pray.
    The future will condemn us as we condemn the Aztecs. We turn and look into the past with awe and horror and wonder how the Indians of Mexico could live in the shadow of the stepped pyramids rising above the jungle, stones sides steaming with blood, while priests garbed in the flayed skins of little girls danced among the bones at the summit, imploring the goggle-eyed devil-gods for rain. They lived as we live, self absorbed, and unable to imagine what a wholesome society would be like.

    • calicogurl84

      I think it is really important to remember that the extreme majority of our culture is as Marc layed out in his post. While reading, I also didn’t feel like I was a Saint or a liar, but I had to take a step back and realize that I *work* in the pro-life Catholic field and I see the culture of death everyday. I also know that acting out won’t accomplish our goal. In fact, it is counter-productive because the other side of the issue (any other side of any issue) can easily dismiss your cause if you look the least bit “un-normal.”

      I think that this post was fabulous because, as I said, Marc really is addressing the masses and the attitude as a whole in our country. Obviously there are outliers no matter what the topic may be.

      • Patrick

        I am pretty sure none of the Saints considered themselves as such, and those that did ,most likely , were the liars.

    • gustav

      “Instead I write articles and books, because in a democracy only by persuaded the deimos can the culture be turned away from the death cult. It is not much, but it is what I can do. Also, I can pray.” (Can?)

      Yea, do you feel good? Articles and books.. When you get out that last perfect sentence, with the rhythm and exactitude, that witty line, do you feel good? Is it like solving a sudoku puzzle, like making the perfect algorithm? Does that make you feel good?

      • Chris L.

        My faith has grown with the help of John’s writings. Writing can be powerful. His writings are a greater contribution than you will know.

      • Zac

        Ha! did that make *you* feel good? Or are you just doing your duty?

      • http://www.scificatholic.com D. G. D. Davidson

        I’ll join the small crowd here saying I’ve learned much from Mr. Wright. I was Catholic already by the time he joined the fold, but he has done nothing but strengthen my faith since he arrived.

    • Jacob Neeson

      If you took offense, then you just proved at least part of the point of this article.

      (Not trying to start an argument. Just offering a different perspective.)

  • Penny Farthing1893

    Do what I do. People I’m arguing with often try to dismiss me with “oh you’re just one of those pro-lifers” or “you just say that because you’re Catholic”. For one thing, I never tell people I’m Catholic if that’s not the topic of the actual discussion. The less they know about me, the more they must focus on my arguments. And I also call them out on debating straw men. The whole point of lumping your opponent into a group is to argue with a misrepresentation of their position, or to try and make them defend the actions of members of that group. I call them out out on straw men, red herrings, appeals to authority, etc, until we are left with only the actual one-on-one argument between two people who think different things and are trying to convince each other. Movements don’t make arguments. People do. But it’s nice to see when more people finally start agreeing with you. The only reason the phenomena you describe happens is that people who feel like proclaiming the truths they’ve discovered aren’t trained to argue properly. Of course the world (I suppose lots of individuals in the world?) will try and dismiss people by labeling them, so demand that recognize you as an individual who came to your beliefs the old=fashioned way – by thinking about things.

  • Lily

    I’m afraid I must disagree. Even if one person sees an individual as “just” pro-life/pro-choice, etc, that doesn’t MAKE that person an abstraction in reality. That person is an individual with beliefs and convictions, and a whole lot of people with similar beliefs and convictions can make a movement. Is that movement abstract? Yes. It’s also real. The abolitionists were no more “smoke” than a small prayer group(which is concretely made of people), a neighborhood (which is a somewhat abstract group of people), or the Church (which is the ultimate group of people becoming one).

    Saying that abstractions aren’t real reminds me far too much of relativism, which is one of many things (including all those issues mentioned in your quiz), that I care deeply about. Relativism, including the redefinition of marriage, offends me to my core. Why? Because people are trying and (worse) expecting to change Truth. This disgusts me as a philosopher and a Catholic (since I know who Truth is). I did feel struck by the HHS mandate, but also exhilarated that maybe this will make people wake up and try to see what the Church really believes. And I am sickened not only by abortion, but also by the twin evils of contraception and artificial reproductive technologies, not only because they kill innocents, attack the human person and turn life into a commodity (and so many worse things for A.R.T. I could go on, but I’d have to write pages), but because they utterly twist what it means to be human and hurt each individual who is a part of it (whether they are the perpetrator or the victim— both are harmed).

    So yes, I do feel deeply about this “culture war”, I get a thrill from reading the Bible, and I do try to have honest dialogue with people about these issues based on the issues themselves. And if I do that as part of a movement, that doesn’t make me any more abstract.

  • http://www.finallyhuman.com/ Ian3008

    Kierkegaard helped me to see that I wasn’t crazy after all. His book “Training in Christianity” destroyed all my theology and ecclesiology and forced me to acknowledge that I am a man, a man in the company and friendship of The Man Jesus Christ.

  • John S

    Prayer is what it all comes down to. If you don’t know the Divine Mercy Chaplet yet, please, do humanity a favor by joining in. This article ties in well….
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yimcatholic/2012/05/for-faith-in-action-patton-the-priest-and-the-power-of-prayer.html

  • Penny Farthing1893

    Quiz answers

    1. All of the answers, but mainly C, because it was a chance for real progress, and for getting people to see what the Church actually says. It gave us a chance to take a stand, which the Bishops did beyond my expectations.

    2. (c) slightly nauseated. Partly from disgust over the proposition of natural marriage being redefined, but mainly because the level of discussion is so bad that it takes forever just to cut through the bs and have a real argument. And that I have to defend it at all is a bit annoying.

    3. The slogan “It’s a Child, not a Choice” (a) inspires you (b) has no effect on you or (c) vaguely annoys you. All three. Hang on, I’ll explain. Mostly B, because it’s kind of old and overused, which also annoys me, so a little C. But when I see a car with that bumper sticker, I do get a little happy.

    4. True. Really any topic that relates to philosophy, theology, or politics will make my conversations more animated.

    5. A and B, for both questions. I usually read four or five books at once (not because I’m smart – I just have no impulse control and I start reading books as soon as I buy them, even if I’m working others) and I often end up with at least one saint book and one politics book in the mix. Ditto for conversations. Maybe even at the same time.

    Bad philosophy, especially relativism, really does offend me. I’m sorry. I’m a geek for these things.

  • Stephanie

    Your article is very interesting. If people fought with anger, passion and energy, though, they wouldn’t burn cars. They would burn abortion clinics.

    But this is a spiritual war. Violence against the abortionists will not win it. Prayer and fasting will. I urge you to fast and to pray the Rosary in front of your local abortion clinic, regularly, and join 40 Days for Life this fall. This is a war for hearts and minds, and we are winning it. More abortion clinics are closing, and more clinic staff are resigning. Babies’ lives are being saved. The states have taken up the battle, and significant legislation is being passed across the U.S.

  • Christie

    “Why is a soul-sucking weariness the principle characteristic of the Christian at battle today, he who is supposed to have joy in his heart and fire on his tongue?”

    I’m not sure, but I’m going to guess that I let the evil of the world get me down instead of focusing on the fact that the Battle is already won by Christ.

  • Tom

    I think this is an excellent post. We will not be free of the culture until we disengage from it. You want to stop abortion, gay marriage, and all things unholy. Start by removing yourself from the culture. Don’t support it. Stop watching unholy shows and giving them ratings. Turn off the TV, turn off the radio, don’t frequent or give your business in any way to those who support the culture or Planned Parenthood. Give back your fancy phones, your DVDs, your CDs, etc. Get back to basics. Talk to people face to face. Start praying. Figure a way to go to Mass everyday. Participate in adoration every chance you get. Volunteer every where you can. Spread your faith quietly by your actions. Pray the Rosary, our Mother is our greatest weapon against all evil. Pull the plug on the unholy culture in its entirety and build a better one – one action at a time. I think too many people and too many Catholics like parts of the culture and want to pick and choose. Some like issue advocacy a lot more than they do the basics. Start with your kids and young people. Get involved in local school activities. You aren’t saving anybody by protesting, but lead a wayward soul back to the faith and you may be preventing a future abortion or future gay marriage advocate. Some of these battles were lost long ago. And future battles are being lost today.

  • Becky

    You go through stages in life… before you have kids, when you have kids, and when your kids are old enough to have kids.

    Before you have kids, children are a total abstraction.

    After you have kids, children are no longer an abstraction at all. It is a big wake-up call.

    I tell my own kids that life begins at conception. I did not hear these same words growing up.

    So, no, I’m not out there burning cars in the street, but I am trying to pull my own kids from a burning car, one at a time.

    Then again, I think I understand what Marc is getting at. I was standing at Mass the other day and we were all singing “I will raise you up on the last day” and it was a shock to realize that if I really believed we were all going to be raised on the last day, I should be going door to door in my neighborhood to tell real people about the resurrection. I don’t. And I don’t defend myself.

    • Alexandra

      This is exact thing is why there’s a lot of atheists that don’t believe that Christians believe in hell. The thought is that you’d have to be really empty inside to really believe that hell is real and not be out evangelizing every second of the day.

      I’ve never been able to explain why that isn’t true. I know Christians who are good warm people who do honestly believe in hell, but they aren’t out there trying to save as many souls as possible.

      Do you think it’s just apathy? Do you have any wisdom on it?

      • Iota

        Alexandra,
        I’m not Becky (duh, obviously) but as a very flawed Catholic (who, yes, does believe in hell). I came up with 8 distinct “reasons” (or arguments) for what might possibly explain that. Do you want me to bore you with them? :-)

        • Alexandra

          I’d love to hear them! So much. :)

          • Iota

            Note: all these are what I would call “good faith” reasons, i.e. I’m assuming your friends are truly “good, warm people” and do really care and are doing what they can. Also: this comment is VERY long. Apologies in advance.

            1) Sometimes the best thing to do is to pray (for Catholics prayer is an actual action, remember). Accepting a completely different worldview involves no just being given data (debates, discussions) but also lots of thinking and changing (psychologically, cognitively) and – from a Catholic POV – grace. Most people probably do not notice prayer being offered for them as often as it is offered.
            2) In this context: quantity isn’t quality – it may be better to spend 15 minutes praying well than 5 hours badly, although praying for 5 hours is easier to spot.
            3) Within Catholic spirituality there is the concept of turning everything you do (except sinful things), into a prayer. So, AFAIK, it makes perfect sense to turn your house vacuuming, car driving, teaching, etc. into a prayer. Possibly into a prayer for the conversion of souls.
            4) I think sometimes more good is done by people being “good” than by being “Catholic” in a very visible way. Caring for a sick person may be motivated by Catholic charity and might be good for the sick person’s soul, but most people wouldn’t say it’s “a Catholic thing to do” (specifically) or obviously soul-saving.
            5) “Katie, If you really believed that hunger is awful, you’d live frugally and donate all excess money to hunger relief” – while logical, this overlooks the fact that if Katie tried to do that, she might decide she’s making her life miserable while not fixing the problem permanently and stop donating altogether (which would be worse than what she does now). I think sometimes demands we make on other people overlook simple human psychology and the fact we have to practice “virtue” to be good at it (which, implicitly, involves doing less than ideally possible, for some – maybe long – time).
            6) It might be useful to turn that question around: what would those “good warm people” have to do to convince you that Catholicism is true? Is there a thing that they could visibly do, right now (relates to #1)? Do you imagine any particular thing they could do to convince your friends?
            7) Very tentatively – for Catholics the perception of hell might be related to the tension between Justice and Mercy. I’d assume moral theology and the pronouncements of the Church (as I imperfectly understand them – ask a competent person) have to ordinarily err on the side of Justice rather than Mercy, because otherwise all sorts of people would take that as an excuse (me potentially included). The priest’s business is to tell me (simplistically speaking) what’s my situation in terms of God’s Justice and ordinary means of obtaining Grace (such as the Sacraments), and as a Catholic I should actually listen to that. However God’s Mercy may turn out to be so great, we’ll be seeing a lot of unlikely people in heaven. A shameless plug for the Catholic spirituality I like the most: Divine Mercy. I would assume “good warm people” may emphasize God’s Mercy – this doesn’t require they stop believing in hell (their approach might not be “whatever, we’re all going to heaven” but rather “yes, this is awful, but Almighty God whose Mercy is greater than all of humanity’s sins – have mercy on us.”)
            8) When I was thinking about this, I saw an analogy with the way good people operate under horrid conditions, such as war, genocide, famine (I could actually make a real life historical analogy, but that would be looking for trouble). If we assume that every life is invaluable, then saving one person from dying in a famine might be a great, heroic act. On the other hand, the mathematics of the catastrophe are such that there are, at that time, thousands or millions of other people dying. And what is worse, you cannot divide your attention to all of them, because that would be inefficient and all the people would die, including the ones you have a chance of saving. There are also obvious emotional dilemmas here: do you first help a friend or a stranger? How much can you reasonably go without and when would you start endangering yourself or your family? Because, after all, the life of your child or your own is not worth less than the life of that stranger or that friend… Sometimes people might devote little outwardly visible effort to the evangelization of strangers, because they are concentrating on those closer to them. This does not necessarily make them bad people – they are still “saving souls”.

            Of course I think the analogy breaks down, due to Divine Mercy, but that is (simplistically) how I would describe the dilemma of someone who realizes: ”a day always has 24 hours, I am human, there are over 6 billion people who need help (not counting the souls in Purgatory), probably including me and my family.” and tries to manage.

          • Alexandra

            Thanks so much for sharing that. It does make good sense to me, and makes me think that the people I really need to be asking this question are the Protestants! If you believe the only thing that gets you into heaven is faith, not just faith and deeds, then you’re facing a more serious challenge.

          • Iota

            “If you believe the only thing that gets you into heaven is faith, not just faith and deeds [...] ”

            Well, technically a Catholic would probably say (I guess, check with a theologian) that what gets us into heaven is not deeds and even not faith understood as feeling – this is why we don’t panic when someone deeply religious experiences “the night of the soul”, as Theresa of Calcutta did – but God’s grace, with which we then cooperate, to the extent we are given that Grace. I.e. I can’t bootstrap myself into heaven. God has to want to get me into heaven (and we believe that He wants everyone to get there), and once He wants me there I have to say “yes”, which in itself is only possible because God gives me the Grace necessary to do that (and which, sadly, I’m not very good at).

            This guy has it nailed better than I do, though, and this is the official stuff to read.

            But personally, I admit I’m baffled by Protestants. I wonder what they’d say. :-) Go ask them! :-) (seriously…)

          • Iota
      • http://twitter.com/Lilac_Lily99 Elisabet

        Fear (some saints say this is the greatest of evils)? The fact that society is already saying Christianity is total b.s. and ridiculing us before we can even begin to talk? They know our message. Popular culture has rejected our message. That’s probably one reason why we’re not “mad street preachers” who only get laughed at and disregarded as insane or deluded.

  • tz1

    I have wondered that over 3000 deaths on one day which has not recurred in a decade we can go to total war, shred the constitution and magna charta, commit war crimes like killing rescuers, women, children and mourners at funerals, torture (who does it commit grave sin, and allow people to look at naked men women and children in airports and grope them, yet if tomorrow the abortion holocaust droped 30% from 4500 per day to the same 3000 day in and out we would rejoice. But a petty act of vandalism that might save an unborn life is a war crime in the culture wars

    • Alexandra

      I’ve always wondered about this.

      If I really honestly believed that mass murder was happening in my community, I would drop everything and fight for those lives. I wouldn’t violate any one else’s right to life, but I’d be organizing with others to swarm abortion clinics, steal or destroy their medical equipment, etc, and when I got arrested, I would feel proud for having been willing to sacrifice my own freedom to fight for the lives of the innocent babies that were being ritually murdered.

      Do you have any thoughts on why there aren’t more people doing these sort of things?

      I really am interested. I have a lot of respect for people who are willing to really fight for their cause, even when it’s a cause that I disagree with, but I just don’t see the anti-abortion crowd as embracing a “not words, but deeds” kind of philosophy.

      • Austin

        I understand exactly what you’re saying .I believe that abortion is the great crime of my generation. Yet, as you say, I am not going into abortion clinics to try and stop this mass murder. But I feel like I should be, and after reading all this, part of me wants to.

        • Alexandra

          Even though I’m a huge supporter of a woman’s right to chose, I really think you (not just you specifically, I mean everyone really) should. Being truly active and committed to the causes you’re passionate about is important for everyone.

  • Karyn

    Sorry if this is already in the comments but…how much of it is media overload? I don’t even watch the news that often (unless one counts Colbert) but on any given day I read about abortion, gay marriage, child abuse, wars, global warming, the decline of western civilization, etc. At some point I feel hopeless and overwhelmed and then I have to get off the computer and homeschool and feed my five children. I’m assuming that in the not too distant past, most of the sin a person knew about was the obvious sin of their neighbors and family, and their own. And most days, I feel like my own sins need their own attending and weeding. I don’t mean people shouldn’t fight passionately against sin – it’s just that sometimes I don’t know what to do outside of my own personal sphere. I feel like a deer caught in headlights.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KDQFQTMD56CJAKMLXRFYUDNCPQ Montague

    I am in entire sympathy for you and with you, Mr. Bad Catholic. I’ve read too many flaming words, heard too many marching songs, to be stony hearted. When I find that I can’t punch down those airy ghosts, I punch the air. When I see on paper their false words, I rise to proclaim the anger of reason.

    But I think it is some consolation, that when I think of Castles in the Sky, I think of ones that shoot giant lasers. When I think of arguments, I think of swords. When I say I am a Christian, I think not of the silly book-stores and Sunday school – I think about the fist of St. Nick, or that great bounding mass of Chesterton, or the stones that rise like giant’s spears in answer to a distant trump. But mostly, the important thing is an Empty tomb, and the King at large and gathering knights… isn’t that so? Isn’t that what you are thinking as well?

    • Austin

      I agree you! We have to be the soldiers of Christ! Although we may not be in any physical battles (yet!), we are most definitely in a spiritual battle. We must pray constantly for strength and courage, because who knows when we will need to physically fight!

  • Steve

    Our Lady of the Rosary came to Fatima wearing the Star of Esther. I know that my Heavenly Mother is there, standing in the gap for me. I also attend the best Latin Mass Community right here in my hometown. I also have a feeling that the big push for Gay Marriage will be the final chapter in the struggle of good vs evil.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KDQFQTMD56CJAKMLXRFYUDNCPQ Montague

      It’s always the Apocalypse. Christ was buried as many times at the pagan or the heretic or the atheist said so – at least, in every age men had to die to be raised to life again. So our Joy is eternally fresh.

  • Helgothjb

    “I’m Mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” – name that movie. There is a war going on and we are losing! We have been divided into various groups, as Marc says, and now we are being conquered. Were the Mexican Cristeros wrong to take up arms? I am done being a political pawn. Voting and using the “system” is not working because the powers that be control the whole thing. We think that all our political efforts are oh so important, but we are in actuality, wasting our time. There is no real difference between the two parties. The system is a deliberate deception created so that there would be endless fights between the two parties of which the outcome mattered very little. The greatest threat facing us now is that our Religious Freedom will be rendered meaningless. We need to start organizing, educating and asking ourselves if we are willing to pledge our lives and our fortones to defend our freedom.

    • Bob

      Network.

  • Samuel

    Sorry in advance for the long comment, but I started writing and then I built up steam.
    This argument is good, but not thorough. If Marc’s claim is true, it must hold for the counter argument as well, by which I mean, for each opposing abstraction. He only made expanded examples out of “pro life” and “anti gay marriage,” how the people under those “abstractions” feel, which is incomplete and intellectually lazy. Marc may very well be correct, but until he shows that abstractions do the same harm on both sides of the issue, his point is not won. Perhaps that is for another post, but he will have a harder time showing how the people supporting the other side of the issue, the “pro choice” and the “pro gay marriage” abstractions argue out of apathy.
    For one thing, each of those sides are “fighting” for something they feel deeply personal, not moral, but relating to their own physical, tangible life and limb. The abstractions are smoke because they do have any physical relevance to those fighting for it. You might feel as if someone else getting an abortion harms you, but it doesn’t, not in any physical way. The Christians are fighting for “morality,” as they define it. Their opponents are fighting for their lives, and therefore feel no apathy.

    Pro choice are fighting NOT because they want to kill unborn children. The women, at least, are fighting because they feel like the fight is over their very own tissues, which they personally value over the tissues of their fetus.

    Now consider the opposing side of the gay marriage issue, I assure you the proponents of gay marriage do not feel the same apathy. For they feel as though they are fighting for something as necessary to their lives as air. As Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has shown, as air and food are no longer immediate concerns, we seek to satisfy needs higher up the pyramid, moving to education and quality of life problems, which become just as necessary to existence as food and water were during times when they were scarce. In this day an age, equal rights feel as necessary as food used to, or as food still does for those who do not have any. They do care that the Judeo-Christian religion forbids their love, they just see that some people get to marry whom they choose and others do not get to marry whom they choose. The way the issue is framed is relevant. They seek marriage to be the civil manifestation and a commitment of their love, which is the highest form between two people.

    If the modern world experiences apathy, endemically, it must hold across the board. Instead, Marc’s prognosis applies only to the “Christian right” and their issues.

    I believe that the apathy is rather due to a fundamental weakness in the faith of the Christian people in general, which is caused by modern society’s rejection of that which it cannot know to be scientific fact. Ever since the enlightenment, and Descartes, and even before with Hobbes, our society has lost its faith in that which cannot be described with scientific clarity. The idiom of rationality has pervaded into all realms of modern thought and behavior.

    Our government itself is based upon the assumption that men will fall, because scientifically it is likely than man will choose the path of least resistance. If we had any FAITH in our human nature we would not have designed such a perfect system of checks upon the imperfect darker nature of man.

    In Aristotle’s time, true happiness (eudaemonia, in greek) was seen to come from the subjugation of baser impulses and the alignment towards the “good”
    Philosophers since the enlightenment rejected that, and saw that true happiness comes from following ones impulses, and there is no objective “good,” the good is only the desirable, which changes as an impulse.
    This is the world we live in, we cannot begrudge those who behave accordingly, unknowing of the roots of the culture that excuses their behavior. This world is not a Christian world, it is a world that Christians live in. The way to change it is to act as Godly as we can personally, and use our example to motivate others. God would not want it any other way. Nothing good can EVER come from evil. Peace can not come from war. I do not like the term Culture War, the cultures should be at peace with one another, the existence of one does not threaten the other, even though they are contradictory. If your example of love sways members to our side then that is good, if not, it is God’s will.
    Love is the greatest weapon God has given us. We should not underestimate it, it would be our undoing in future generations.

    • James

      Interesting counterargument, I don’t know if i follow how aristotle fits in though….

    • Alexandra

      This is a really great point!

  • http://www.military-history.us/ Patrick Shrier

    Marc,

    Your irreverant posts inspire me to be a better person and stand up even more for what I believe. Thank you!

  • Justin Wilga

    To me it seems that the moment you start defending an abstraction, you lost. No matter what. If your faith is just based on logical arguments alone, and you have lost.

    Jesus Christ is not an abstraction, but a person. If we do not present Christ to someone we are engaging with, then we have lost. Anything else is wasted breath that immediately becomes vapor. No argument will make someone pro-life. No argument will make traditional marriage law of the land.

    Only the Person of Christ will win.

    • Lily

      But to someone who doesn’t believe in Christ, we can still talk about the science of when life begins and the ethics of defining personhood. Arguments can help fence sitters become prolife and can be a foot in the door for reaching out to pro-choice people. After all, Christ is the Word, or Logos, so I don’t think He minds if we use our reason to help people do the right thing. He IS Reason.

  • kdornbos

    Thank you for the post! I quickly thought of Archbishop Dolan as someone who is refreshing, funny, and not at all abstract. He does a phenomenal job steering away from the ‘big abstractions’ and bringing it ‘home’ to reality. Enjoy this if you haven’t seen it already.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7360248n

  • Alphonsus_Jr

    A couple of things.

    First, in my opinion, what you describe has less to do with abstraction than with exhaustion in the face of the overwhelming barbarian onslaught. It’s just too much handle.

    Second, any real counter-revolutionary resistance must involve the de-sanitization of language. For example, the language of abortion should be amended like so:

    1) Abortions aren’t “had,” “gotten,” or “performed.” Abortions are inflicted, committed, perpetrated.

    2) Those who inflict, commit, perpetrate abortions (better: surgical infanticides) are no longer to be honored with the name of doctors. Rather, let’s call them surgical hitmen or surgical terrorists.

    3) Nor are those who hire surgical terrorists to be called victims. They’re co-conspirators.

    Putting it all together, we get something like this:

    “Jane & Tom took out a contract on their baby’s life by hiring a surgical hitman to commit infanticide.”

    Or:

    “Shaquilla is considering hiring a hitman to perpetrate surgical infanticide.”

    In other words, having renounced conformity to this brave new world, let’s refuse any longer to accede feigned moral neutrality.

    • http://www.scificatholic.com D. G. D. Davidson

      Combating politically correct Newspeak is part of the battle; the goal of political correctness is to prevent certain ideas from being thought, or at least from being expressed publicly. The political corrector can derail any conversation by attacking an opponent’s frank and precise language rather than by criticizing ideas. Witness how, in another recent post here, the combox got derailed by a lengthy and pointless discussion over whether or not it is okay to call promiscuous women whores.

      Nonetheless, in your suggestions here, you may have taken this to the point of exaggeration. “Abortion” is not really a euphemism, although I agree that I prefer “prenatal infanticide.” “Fetus,” which means “baby” in Latin, is not originally a euphemism, but it has come to be used as one, so I avoid it. I use “sodomy” and “masturbation” rather than “gay sex,” both because they’re more correct and because I consider “gay” an insult on par with “faggot.”

      In combating political correctness, the goal should be to use language correctly, not to be inflammatory.

  • maryes

    It’s possible that simple fatigue plays a role in this apparently muted response to the present horrors. As an abortion clinic prayer sentinel I was greeted with the drive-by suggestion to “Stop praying and DO something”! My fellows and I regarded each other with bemusement and kept praying, because the people who are praying are the same people who have been in the trenches lo, these many years adopting, foster parenting, and giving spiritual and financial help to crisis pregnancy centers (350 new families/month in our city) and ministries that serve the poor. The Lord has won the day, we only need to keep our wicks trimmed and our oil containers full. We’re in it for the long haul. Ask Peggy Hartshorn how and why she’s always smiling!

  • Kristen indallas

    BRILLIANT! I am so glad I stuck this one out for your points toward the end.
    ps – please let me p-out a really awesome cause here, it’s related: http://www.savethestorks.com, these guys are part of the “pro-life movement” but they don’t fight in abstracts, with pictures of babies that are already dead or battling online some counter opinion… they offer pictures of real babies, still alive in the wombs of the real mothers about to walk into an abortion clinic. I consider them real life dragon slayers.

  • Lazarus

    You crazy.

  • Jrexmarda

    I understand what you are saying. Belief has become bland, there are no prophets in the land. It is the time in which we live. We have become exiles again. It shouldn’t be surprising, this has happened before. When it becomes like this we are exhorted to abide and wait for God. If you are a Christian then you should know this from reading the Word of God. The World will always do what it does, but it has yet to succeed in destroying faith in God.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HYLDYNVZWOZEZTQ7VRK63T5FZE Jared Denman

    “There is only representation. There is no foolish human action. There is only the support of abstractions. Infants are being killed — we follow the lines the police allow us to follow…” LOL! Or blog about it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dean.dickens.395 Dean Dickens

    Coming from a protestant, this blog is awesome.


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