Morality tales for the vulgar

There is pernicious malady, pernicious malady, uniquely common to the human species—arguably it has been present since the very beginning—for which there has yet been found any hope or possibility of a cure. For the vast majority, there has never been any serious inclination or desire for a cure to be found for they are perfectly happy living with this particular condition.

#217A recent cartoon in the local newspaper perhaps described it best: a simple drawing of the evolution of man, from fish to humanoid, with the final image of man, arms outstretched, standing erect with his head held high, and the caption read, “Then man created EGO!” Since the very beginning and throughout the entire span of human history it would seem that our egos have been writing checks our bodies can’t cash.[1] Look how quickly and eagerly our first parents let their egos override their senses when the serpent told them they could be like gods![2]

There has rarely been a moment since when someone wasn’t trying to convince everyone else that God was either a figment of their imagination, didn’t exist, that they were gods, that all matter in the universe was God, or that the pharaoh, king, emperor, dog, bull, cat, sun, moon, you name it were gods. Anyone (emphasis on anyone) that is, but God. Have you ever wondered why so many have so stridently tried to remove God from the equation?

Along with a virulent animus for God, those who would deny his existence see little use for the Bible or religion, believing as Karl Marx that “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”[3] Interestingly for those who find no need for religion it is almost always Christianity which they so stridently oppose. For over five centuries, philosophers[4] such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Benedict Spinoza, and many others have dismissed or reduced religion (here again we are speaking almost exclusively of Christianity) to superstitious nonsense useful only to calm the vulgar people.[5] Each of these and many more espoused to a belief that man was a soulless creature and that life here was all there was; there was no God, no immortal soul, no eternal life. Each held to the notion that the state (king, emperor, prince, president, dictator, etc.) had absolute power over its citizens and that through the state heaven could be created here on earth.

There was one small problem: for millennia, Christianity had held that our immortal soul was subject to either eternity in heaven with God or eternal damnation in hell and that those who ruled were subject to the same reward or punishment as everyone else. It still does. The irksome problem was that as long as the ruler was held accountable to God and the proxy church, the ruler could never truly be free to create an earthly utopia.

The obvious solution was to make the church subject to the ruler and ultimately to the state, but how to accomplish that without full-scale revolution was the question. The answer was the Bible for Dummies, turning the Bible into nothing more than morality tales, without all those miracles and other superstitious nonsense.

To be continued…

 


[1] With apologies to the script writers of the movie Top Gun.
[2] Gn 3: 4.
[3] Karl Marx, Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, 1844.
[4] Here I apply the label very loosely and with sincere apologies to those more reasoned practitioners of the noble art of philosophy.
[5] Term used by Benedict Spinoza for the bulk of humanity.

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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