Identity Crisis: Does the Catholic Church Have the Answer?

Identity Crisis: Does the Catholic Church Have the Answer? January 11, 2022

Our youth are at a crossroads, or “intersectionality” of sorts. They are taught by highly educated people (their intellectual betters) that their lives have no ultimate purpose. They are the byproducts of a cosmic accident. Their efforts, relationships, loves, momentary distractions, will ultimately be for nothing. Matter and everything spins towards the ultimate heat death of the universe.

Is it any wonder the youth in the West experience identity crisis? They hunger for meaning and purpose. Can the Church give it to them?

Choices in an Identity Crisis

We have five choices when presented with this existential dilemma: escapism, hedonism, pragmatism, activism, or religiosity. In other words, we can escape into fantasy (entertainment), pleasure (sex and drugs), hard work (too busy to notice), intersectionality (identity dynamics), or faith (God and religion). Of course, we can also mix the categories. For example, one can be a pragmatic Christian, a hedonistic activist, or a pragmatic escapist that seeks meaning in artistic expression.

In addition to this existential dilemma is the harm postmodernism has wrought on Western culture. If modernism took our heads, then postmodernism our hearts. Postmodernism’s goal is to deconstruct all reality. If modernists espoused objective truth, postmodernists reject all “truth claims.” Language, too, is relativized and subject to this same deconstruction. Not only is language deconstructed, but it is also utilized as a tool that creates and shapes new realities.

Reality in an Identity Crisis

“We create our own reality” is the only universal truth postmodernists accept. In eliminating objective truth, postmodernism’s target was modernism, but it also hit at the heart of Western civilization – Judeo/Christian culture and values. In Judeo/Christian culture and values are beliefs in objective truth, both intellectual and moral. Jude/Christian culture’s removal has left a hole. Nature abhors a vacuum; therefore, something will fill it. What has filled it in the West is the phenomenon Douglas Murray calls Identity dynamics.

Douglas Murray (an atheist) has described this phenomenon as filling the “God-shaped hole” left in our society in the wake of postmodernists ripping out the heart of Judeo/Christian culture and values. In this hole is raging a war, a culture war. He states regarding the current cultural wars in his most recent book, “These wars are not being fought aimlessly. They are consistently being fought in a particular direction. And that direction has a purpose that is vast. The purpose — unknowing in some people, deliberate in others — is to embed a new metaphysics into our societies: a new religion, if you will.”

The New Religion of Identity

This new religion of identity dynamics promises meaning, but only delivers chaos. It divides societies, businesses, and families. It paints those who “disagree” or dissent as cultural heretics in need of a social media anathema. This new religion is totally devoid of mercy and grace. The sad truth is that identity dynamics and intersectionality has provided an outlet of meaning to a meaningless world. If life’s ONLY meaning encompasses the whole of ONLY one’s own life, then race, gender, class, sexuality, discrimination, and privilege are not ONLY of the utmost importance, but they are also the ONLY truly meaningful anything.

Identity dynamics and intersectionality provides a framework for which to build one’s life. It also provides a righteous cause for which one can fight. Furthermore, the more intersections one crosses, the more meaningful one’s life gets. Conversely, the fewer intersections one crosses, the lesser value one’s life has, and ultimately, a member of the oppressor class one may be. Is it any wonder we are at a crossroad?

The Church’s Response

What will be the ultimate response from the Church? Will we provide something unique and meaningful? Will we counter this plunge into maddening meaninglessness with the lifeline of truth and purpose? The challenge we have now before us is gargantuan, least of all because the medicinal remedy requires some effort of those who do seek meaning. It is easy to align oneself with a “victim” group and stop there. It is another thing to pursue truth and let it lead you where it will, even if this means you must live a virtuous life.

How best we promote the truth that we are all valuable and unique must also involve the call to live a truly virtuous life. If we cannot provide both truth and virtue (true virtue, not virtue signaling), we will not see any lasting impact on anyone, especially among the young. They are literally dying for meaning and purpose. The Church has the answer. Are we bold enough to proclaim it? I pray we are…

Lord, please help us to find our ultimate identity in You. Amen.

The Madness of Crowds by Douglas Murray


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