After reading some truly bizarre and uninformed hysteria over the Hobby Lobby decision — so much incoherence on social media! — and at least three out-and-out hate screeds against Catholics being on the Supreme Court (imagine, had the decision gone differently, and people ranted against “those women” on the court!) I couldn’t help but think of these two excerpts:
Hatred is a twisting perversion of paradoxes wherein one can claim a love for God so fervent that it justifies hating another, even as God hates your hate, because it has been born of the absolute idol one has made out of one’s professed love.
A few years ago a university study confirmed the old adage that there is “a thin line between love and hate.” It seems that the same brain circuitry is involved in feeling both emotions, the major difference being that with feelings of love a large part of the of the cerebral cortex shuts down, along with judgment and reasoning abilities. With hate, much of the cortex remains open.
This makes perfect sense, in a way. We can always give a million reasons justifying our hate to others, but our love? Often we cannot explain our love at all, except as an open and full-hearted mystery, just like the unfathomable mysteries of God, redemption and mercy.
– excerpted from Strange Gods; Unmasking the Idols of Everyday Life
If 20th-century atheism rode in on the backs of totalitarian regimes, the 21st-century has delivered unto the world an anti-God, anti-Church movement that fits seamlessly into shallow, postmodern popular culture. Having no need for uprisings and the hardware of destruction, the new fog of faith has crept in on the little cat feet of Sentimentalism and it now sits on its haunches, surveying its splendidly wrought sanctimony.
Sentimentalism is the force of feel-goodism, the means by which we may cast off the conventions of faith and casually dismiss those institutions that refuse to submit to the trending times and morals. The Sentimentalist trusts his feelings over hallowed authority or the urgings of his reason, frequently answering hard religious questions with some noble-sounding phrase like “The God I believe in wouldn’t . . . ” (fill in the blank). What fits in that blank is typically some tenet of traditional faith that isn’t currently fashionable, some moral demand that pop culture considers impossible—and hence, not worth even trying. Thus the Sentimentalist, while believing he follows the inviolate voice of his conscience, is really sniffing after trends, forming his heart according to the sensus fidelium of middlebrow magazines and public radio. Excerpted from Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind
It was one of those uncomfortable light-bulb moments, when one realizes that complacent ideas from our youth can no longer work and demand reassessment. I had turned the notion of enemies into the equivalent of a benign spot on a spiritual X-ray: nothing to worry about, no threat to the soul.
That was incorrect. The evidence before my eyes — demonstrated in the dark, tense expression of my co-worker and her brutish tone — hit me like a swift punch to the solar plexus; with breathtaking clarity I understood that to entertain the concept of “having an enemy” was to give it room to grow. No benign practice, this was instead a path to spiritual malignancy — a true cancer that could kill the soul.
Jesus did indeed recognize that there are such things as enemies — and we are not meant to wander through our lives reckless and unaware of that which can threaten us or do us harm, and certainly should not turn a blind eye to evil, which is the true enemy — but his command that we love those we perceive to be our enemies is actually a tool for discernment and for our own salvation. To love our enemies means a great deal more than to simply not wish evil upon them; it means making a conscious effort to find a path to our own mercy, for their sake and our own. That path is found, Jesus tells us, through prayer: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). Via Ora pro nobis
The hate is so easy; it flows from a wide-open cerebral cortex, seeps into our souls and out of our mouths. And so much of it, so very much of it, is precipitated by the illusory nonsense and wild hyperbole of ideological one-upsmanship. It is leading us into terrible trouble, in large part because there is so much non-stop internet screaming, and so little quiet in which to actually allow reason, and our better angels, to be come to the fore. Evil hates silence and loves the roiling turmoil, where reason is abandoned to sentiment. It’s quite a roller-coaster we’re riding.
Jim Geraghty can have the final word:
There is a big difference between disagreeing with Hobby Lobby’s assessment of these four forms of birth control — or even concluding this view is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs — and saying, “I want to use the power of the state to compel you to violate your conscience and religious teachings.” You would think that using the government and the force of law — fines and imprisonment! — to compel people to violate their conscience is something we want to avoid as much as possible.
What do you think? Too quietly sensible?