|Same adversary, new tactics|
Therefore in the coming years, expect the Great Apostasy to continue. Sad to say, it has been happening for quite some time. Decades. Generations. Dare I say, centuries? It's just picking up steam as secularism continues its quest to evangelize the Church, and convert the faithful. Yes, secularism told us for years how horrible it is to convert people and tell them their religion is wrong ... all while converting Christians and telling us our religion is wrong. A common progressive tactic if you've noticed.
Anyhoo, we're heading into that Dark Ages period that must inevitably follow a golden age. In our case, a moderately Christian era to return to its pagan roots. That is the carrot on the stick, to revert to a secular paganism. The paganism being of a vague Hollywood spin where lots of sex and hedonism is the fringe benefit of godlessness and material focus. Devaluing the dignity of the human person is merely a happy price to pay. Paganism is, after all, a sort of default position for humanity. Devoid of the direct revelation of God, humans will labor to mold the divine into their own image.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them. Romans 1.18-32
How is the above passage not a spot-on assessment of the last century or so of Western and American history? Not only do they approve those who practice them, they will quickly punish those who dare call out the ungodliness and sin. Where Christians had it easy - perhaps too easy - for endless generations, that is no longer going to be the case. Just now, the movement is afoot to demand that people be fired for refusing to say men can get pregnant. Hate crime charges will no doubt follow.
In the face of this version of being told to say O'Brien is holding up five fingers, expect many believers to buckle and surrender. Many already had their faith undermined by an inordinate amount of blind trust in scholarship, science and academia as disciplines that obviously proved the ancient beliefs about God have long been debunked.
Having their faith undermined on all fronts no doubt made believing in that old time religion quite a chore. And that likely held for those leaders under the same pressure to ditch the thing, even while making a comfortable living preaching the same. At least they could rely on post-war secularism's lofty ideals of subjective morality, tolerance, diversity and inclusion. Respecting different values and beliefs was all the rage, and a reassuring safety guard against this non-religious world view.
But this new world has revealed itself. In a manner that would make Big Brother blush, it has now said racism, discrimination and bigotry are virtues. Censorship and banning of offensive art, literature and speech are essentials. Violence can be a fine answer. Equality is bad and liberty can be stealth oppression. And if it says women are men, men can have menstrual cycles, or squares are round, then by golly we expect politicians, SCOTUS nominees, doctors and scientists and, yes, preachers and believers to say the same under threat of retaliation.
With the press now acting in the manner of a secret police force, dispensing with anyone who stands in the way of this new world, many leaders, including religious ones, who we trusted to resist are showing their true colors. That is leaving many who imagined they would have the same easy faith walk that our parents had swinging in the breeze. In the wake of that, we're seeing a stunning number of believers jumping ship, baling altogether, throwing the values and teachings of the Faith under the bus or, at best, working to mold the old Faith into the image of the new world.
If there is one thing I appreciate about Rod Dreher, it's his book The Benedict Option. Not that Rod is the best ambassador for his own work. It's easy to speak of forming some Benedictine alternative when you can afford to jet set around the world and wine and dine with people in the highest levels of society. For the average person scraping by it's a different matter altogether.
But the basis of the book is spot on honest: The Christian Faith is entering into a brand new era, the likes of which it has never seen. Some insist it's just the same old sins of the world, and that might be true. But they're packaged in a way we've not encountered before, at least in the West. A hostile culture hell-bent on converting the faithful, and willing to punish those who resist the call to bow before this new Power in the world. A Power found on denying almost anything and everything assumed to be true by the last 2000 years of the Christian Era. Even in my ministry days in the 90s, when we could see the winds of change increasing, nobody imagined it would happen like this, at least this quickly.
But it has. I fear even many of us who hold true, firm and solid to the Faith are at times more secular than we like to admit. I feel in hindsight we might be shocked to see how much we've compromised without realizing it. Many were tripped up by the 'stand five yards away from the world' tactic, until you realize the world is now a hundred miles from the revealed Faith. That comes from thinking your eyes are on the divine prize, when they were on the world all along.
There is no way as believers we can't be subject to the context of our age. But we can begin to cling to the old 'in the world not of the world' principle. The answer won't lie in politics, that's for sure. Not that we shouldn't still try to exert our values into the political sphere. Just be aware that for traditional believers, there are a diminishing number of those who agree with our world view on any level of worldly importance. Which is how it's often been. Only in the past, the worldly designs were in the context of a vaguely Christian model of reality. Now it's in the context of an ever shifting model more hostile to the Christian Faith with each passing day.
This development includes conservatives by the way, as it obviously would. If, that is, the conservatism is merely a wordily brand with eyes on the here and now. As my sons have noticed, among there peers who call themselves conservative, the big fight is against pregnant men or woke censorship. That homosexuals should be able to marry and that our nation is best defined by its racist past are simply assumptions they take for granted. Because by now those things are taught with the assurance that America the Beautiful was sung in my elementary school days. My guess is that most political professionals will reveal such views when pressed.
No, we need to learn what it is to be an oppressed minority with eyes set firmly on the eternal prize. You can be an oppressed minority and still have numbers on your side by the way. Just ask South Africans during Apartheid. In fact, that's sort of what we're seeing. The last thing you want in our nation today is to be a majority. That's why so many fight to define themselves in some minority way. We've already said that the only path to anything good is to draw a straight line away from whatever majority group in question says is true. And those in that group who get steamrolled? Sucks to be them.
Am I saying we reject the world and go live in caves, foraging for berries and hunting squirrels for dinner between Bible studies? No. I'm saying we're going to have to buck up and begin reevaluating where we are and how we got here. It may mean rethinking some of what we have cherished, and at least admit it may have been handed down in ways not consistent with a belief in the Gospel.
I dunno. I just know the storm clouds are no longer on the horizon, they're here. Already we're seeing the fruits of our post-Christian society, and we're watching many we thought would stand firm buckle. What's more, and in an odd twist, the ones who seem least willing to admit to this are sometimes those who are loudest about resisting it. As if we see the problems emerging, but have a limit to how much we're willing to look at the root causes of those problems, lest they snare something we've come to value.
What I do know is that for Holy Week and the week following, I'm going to lay low with blogging. Last year I did a daily reflection on the seven churches of Revelation. It actually got me to thinking, since I noticed a couple things I hadn't noticed before. I've spent the year thinking on that.
This year for Holy Week, I'll spend my time in more meditative pursuits. Perhaps I might post something on a devotional level, something that touches me in a certain way. Whimsy and fun are always on the table.
But let the world have its troubles. I'll focus on the Creation of God and His revealed Truths. After all, there are better ways to spend Holy Week than getting obsessed about inevitable defeats in battles for a war we've already lost. Better to look upon the greater war that was won long before we entered the picture.