My Thoughts

Two things have come to mind over these last few days, stark reminders of how depraved and dark the human soul has become. What has long been revered has been made unholy, unclean, reviled, therefore, or so we are told to believe, all must be destroyed or revised beyond recognition; much as C.S. Lewis warned in The Abolition of Man. For the sake of progress, man must regress; the old must make way for the new and improved; the world would be a far better place if only there were no human beings to mess things up; to cure the illness, kill the patient. All are connected, each a numbered dot upon a plain sheet of paper, connect the dots to find the answer. Except … life is and never has been one-dimensional; a life is not a dot like any other, to be connected or erased, manipulated, or ignored. And yet, does it not feel strangely odd, how much we have come to accept as normal being turned into dots?

Dots have no distinguishing character, except perhaps for the number tattooed above their foreheads. Destroy one and another will be replanted without so much a bother. I have mentioned before, never in this context, of the brief dialogue between Winston Smith and O’Brien who tries to convince Winston that “whatever the Party holds to be truth, is truth.” When O’Brien holds up four fingers and wants Winston to see five, which is clearly not true, Winston blubbers, “How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.” O’Brien says, “Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”[1] The problem for Winston was that he could not admit he was but the meanest of dots, he still thought himself human, with a soul made in the image and likeness of God.

Now, it takes little imagination to imagine present day contexts for such a parable, too numerous to mention. Yet, I shall mention two as illustrative of current circumstances. The first, a simple statement—or rather, a misguided claim—from a person with whom I have had irregular communication. In an email, he claimed a thing with which I must object, he wrote of “our shared Catholic faith,” which is as true a claim as O’Brien insisting two and two are four or five or three or all of them all at once. For one, I see Jesus as larger than life, capable of walking, talking, and calling sin a sin, using a whip against those who dishonor God and ignore His commandments, calling hypocrites and liars out, shouting in anger at those who refuse to repent. Yes, Jesus spoke often and everywhere of love and forgiveness, he forgave those who believed in him, who followed him, who had faith in Almighty God. But Jesus was no one-dimensional dot on a plain sheet of paper. He was God. To see Jesus as love, mercy and forgiveness on his part, without repentance, submission, acknowledgement, and a promise to go and sin no more on our part is to make Jesus a cardboard cutout useful for taking selfies to post on social media with the caption, “Here I am with Jesus.”

I am a Roman Catholic. My irregular correspondent calls himself a Catholic, but one who believes in following his own set of rules. Catholic doctrine and dogma, teachings on faith and morals, obedience to what Jesus Christ taught us, commanded us to obey and follow are “subject to interpretation,” his interpretation, societies interpretation, modern progressive interpretation. Cafeteria Catholic is his religion, pick and choose his faith. I try, though never completely successful, to follow and obey what Christ commanded and his Church have taught. I am a sinner as are we all. The difference between us is of doctrine and dogma; I never question the truth written within them, my correspondent questions anything with what he disagrees. I may not like them, I certainly often do not fully understand them, but I am not so arrogant as to believe I am outside of them and have authority to decide on my own what to accept and what to deny. To do so would make me a heretic. To be Catholic means more, much more than checking off a religion or admitting that two and two equals five or three or whatever one chooses. Two and two, always and everywhere, equal four; to be Catholic requires the same commitment to and faith in the Way, the Truth, and the life.

The second follows the first and is prevalent among those who see reality as shadows on a wall and expect everyone else to conform to their shadowed reality. Like O’Brien, no matter how determined Winston states four to be the only proven answer, O’Brien will not, cannot, dare not accept it to be truth. To O’Brien and those like him, Winston is a dangerous dot to the tranquility of the common good. No matter how great the facts, how proven the truths, Winston and those who present them are and will, of necessity, be forever wrong. No amount or quality of fact and truth will turn them away from their shadows.          

Wake up America.

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

[1] George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

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: 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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