My Thoughts

There is a chill in the air, a sharp assault on aging bones which despairs the soul of hope, a foreboding harbinger of winter fast approaching. Such unpleasant thoughts arrive too easily and far too often, paying obeisant homage to the rancorous bluster now become uncivil discourse. The vulgar vulgus has sent reason packing, snagged on tumbling tumbleweeds tossed by the wintry wind through the desert of moral discontent.  

In letters to friends, John Steinbeck stated the reason for his last novel, published in 1961, “The Winter of Our Discontent”, was to address the moral degeneration of American culture during the 1950s and 1960s. Initially much criticized for its heavy-handed moralism, the critics, subsequent to the scandals that rocked the 1970s (Watergate, for one,) would eventually change their earlier assessment. As one critic would later write: “The book I then so impetuously criticized as somewhat thin, now strikes me as a deeply penetrating study of the American condition. I did not realize, at the time, that we had a condition.”

Still, I can vividly recall reading the book—as a High School Freshman—not long after it was first published. Unlike the critics, I found it mesmerizing, so much so that I became determined to become that next great American novelist (the dreams of impetuous youth.) Yet, what remains most in my memory rests largely outside the pages of the book (and yes, I still have my copy, well-worn and long-traveled now.)

I can still recall sitting at my desk during study hall reading it when the shadow of Sister Ann Maureen fell over me. Sister was a young Dominican nun with a serious, unforgiving demeanor and a posture so straight it resembled and appeared as rigid as a steel beam. Now, I must admit, of all the Dominican nuns who taught at our school and despite her strict no-nonsense attitude, Sister Ann Maureen was then and still remains my favorite for she taught English with a passion for perfection and I dearly loved her for it.

Quietly she asked if my mother knew what I was then reading, being fully acquainted with my mother’s literary talents and interests, to which I replied, “Yes sister, she does. In fact, we are both reading it now and here is her bookmark.” At the time I thought, given the negative reviews and the novel’s focus on decadence and the increasing immorality within American society, that she was concerned for my soul but in retrospect I now believe it was much more than that. I think now that she was surprised and more than a bit pleased to discover one of her young students interested in reading literature which challenged the mind to think beyond the circumscribed borders of the tribe.

Those who came of age in the 50s and 60s, the so-call Baby Boomers, know well the sharp soul-wrenching divisiveness that threatened to shred the beautifully woven tapestry of the nation. When tribalism (generational, racial, egalitarian, theological, ecological, etc.) replaces national unity, long-held beliefs, moral and ethical values and the orthodoxies of social and cultural behavior are quickly adjudicated and condemned, determined to be unacceptable, prejudicial against one tribal cause or another. This only exacerbates the tension, raises the rhetoric, and divides the once indivisible into separable and unequal ideologies and interests.

A nation founded upon principles handed down by Almighty God must inexorably lose its unity in the disuniting pursuit of tribal self-interests. Such self-segregation inevitably leads to bitter anger and smoldering resentment over even the smallest of injustices inflicted upon the vulnerable and powerless by the controlling hegemony. A nation whose motto had long been “Out of many, one: e pluribus unum,” would soon brandish a more egalitarian slogan: “Out of many, many: e pluribus pluribus.” The once mighty nation unified under God was torn and severed, rent into innumerable unaccountable tribes of aggrieved at uncivil war with those to whom they ascribed their real or imagined grievances.

Culturally, we have entered into a new era which began with the emerging embrace of victimology in the 1960s and 1970s. This has given rise to a new culture, a “victimhood culture” that stands in stark contrast and counterculture to the “dignity culture” which preceded it. The victimhood culture has long been recognized by the left as their cause célèbre, their ticket to actualize their proclivities to outrage.

Make no mistake, the culture of competitive victimhood is both intoxicating as much as it is addictive. But it is only allowable within minority or otherwise less powerful cultures. Historically dominant ethnic groups such as whites or historically dominant religious groups such as Christians can never claim victimhood, even when they are legitimately found to be victimized. Disqualifying Christianity is incredibly ironic for there would be no cultural concern for the victim were it not for Christianity.

Christianity began with the recognition that Jesus was an innocent victim and that the many were guilty; the Left now increasingly teaches that the many are innocent victims and that Jesus and his followers are guilty. Beneath the current Christ-like slogans of tolerance, diversity, equality, and, above all, concern for the victim, does there lurk the cry of “Crucify him”? It will be interesting to see what happens next if this new and unpurified paradigm of victimology is the only voice allowed to get angry. ~ Michael P. Foley, Touchstone Magazine, 2018

Endemic to the culture of victimhood is the absolute necessity to immediately demonize all dissenting views as enemy oppressors and to deny them a voice. The Left, feeding on the carrion of the victim and the minority, has neither pulse nor heartbeat of its own; like vampires, it sucks the lifeblood from the weak and vulnerable, telling the victim to blame the oppressor. The victimhood culture can countenance neither the light of day nor the cross of Christ.

Wake up America.

Just my thoughts for a Friday, for what it is worth.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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