My Thoughts

I have been reading a book. No kidding. I know those who know me and know my deepest avocation will not be in the least surprised. The truth is I am seldom reading fewer books than fingers, I will leave you to the math. But—and this is important—most books I read these days are rather involuted and esoteric, what most would prefer to read to cure a mild case of insomnia. Fiction seldom finds a place on my reading list.  

Not long ago, while perusing an Ignatius Press catalog, I found myself intrigued when I came across Voyage to Alpha Centauri: A Novel (Sci-fi genre) among the pages of a religious publishing house catalog. I could not resist. So, I bought it. Now I cannot put it down. It is not a smallish tome (6×9, 587 pages, small print). What is most surprising is though set on a spaceship hurtling more than half light-speed through space, the novel is more akin to Nineteen Eighty-four or Brave New World than one might at first assume. And it is frighteningly real and surreal in its description of the world we now live and where we are inexorably heading.

There is a moment, about a third of the way through the book, when the central character, Neil de Hoyos, receives a surreptitious note from his doctor. In it she speaks of pregnancy terminations which are not called by such a name. She says in horror, “The bodies of children are ‘recycled’. Do you understand?”

Death infects everything on board. We are prisoners.

A holy man, Fr. Ibrahim, once told me that a slave, if he lives for virtue and if he keeps alive within himself all that is good, is a free man. But a man who serves evil, even if he be lord over all our sad Earth, is a slave. The evil man does not know he is evil. He thinks he is free, while all the while he is the slave of numerous masters, for he is ruled by many lies and vices.

In a later conversation between Neil de Hoyos and a friend, the friend opines, “In our civilization’s psychological ecology, as one might call it, not a single person has eternal value; everyone and anyone is ultimately disposable. And yet one becomes accustomed to this most severe disorder because it is normality. This has a cost.” “What cost?” I asked.

For those who suffer disposal, the cost is their very lives. For those of us who survive, there is a creeping indifference to anything other than one’s own survival, which results in increased selfishness, hardness of heart, denial—which in the long range will bring about the devaluation of self. To counter this devaluation, therefore, one flees into pride of accomplishment. Isn’t what we do the defining measure of selfhood in our society?[1]    

Set some eighty years in the future, the story is remarkably now. On the back cover: “Our fascination with the near-angelic powers of new technology, its benefits and dangers, its potential for obsession and catastrophe, raises vital questions that this work explores about human nature and the cosmos, about man’s image of himself and where he is going-and why he seeks to go there.”  

It is not at all difficult to imagine the world of the future; look around, it is already here. Wake up America.

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

[1] Michael D. O’Brien, “Voyage to Alpha Centauri: A Novel,” (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2013), 220-21.

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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