Saturday, March 30, 2013

Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Below, you will find a video of the Exsultet (also known as the Easter Proclamation) being chanted.  (Here is a translation.) The Exsultet is an ancient and beautiful hymn, celebrating this holiest of days. It perfectly conveys the glory and majesty of this day - the holiest day of the Church year, the anniversary of Christ's triumph over death itself. 

Readers, have a blessed Easter!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Good Friday Meditation

Today is the anniversary of the day I, and every single one of us, killed God.
Oh, I did not personally hammer the nails into the cross of Christ, or wield the whip that scourged Jesus Christ, or demand of Pontius Pilate that He be crucified. None of us now living were even born during His Passion and death. But I am every bit as responsible for His death as those that hammered or scourged or jeered or spat at him.
For I (and every single one of us) am guilty of sin. And Scripture is clear: "the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) We humans were barred from heaven because we chose to do evil. We chose death, and faced the consequence of eternal separation from our Creator.
But God loves us infinitely; He wants us to be with Him forever. And to pay the death sentence that by rights we should have suffered, Christ chose to die for us in an incredibly painful, excruciating manner.
This is how He died:

In an act of perfect love, Christ sacrificed Himself to open the gates of heaven and to pay the penalty that was the punishment for our sins. This is the same God who keeps us in existence in a continuous act of creation, without whom we could not exist for even a second. While He kept creatures in being, His creatures were killing Him. We murdered our Maker; He died to save those who killed Him.
Good Friday is the celebration of that unfathomable mystery of God's love, of how a deity who already gave us creatures our very being gave even His life to save His murderers from being punished for their crimes against Him.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A World Without Discrimination, and Other Fairy Tales

Eliminating government discrimination is an undesirable impossibility.
In an ideal world, people would agree to defend a specific list of rights. That way, individual conceptions of what constitutes "rights" would not conflict with one another, and the charge of discrimination would be impossible to make. Of course, it isn't an ideal world, and in practice, functional governments must practice some discrimination in some form.
Governments do not and indeed cannot outlaw personal discrimination in a world where people disagree on what constitutes a "right." But governments can and do choose which actions to discriminate against. Certain groups of like-minded individuals will always have the applications of their views limited by government.
Some forms of government discrimination are obvious and necessary. Obviously, governments discriminate against those whose belief systems encourage evils such as ritual murder, by not allowing those individuals to put their practices into action. Belief systems promoting actions harmful to life, liberty, and property are discriminated against by government.
There are other belief systems that are not directly harmful to life, liberty, and property that also face widely accepted government discrimination. Racism is a perfect example of a belief system that is (rightfully) discriminated against. Before the Civil Rights Era, a web of laws discriminated against people of color. Now, the shoe is on the other foot - businesses cannot, by law, discriminate against people because of their race.
Racist business owners could validly complain that they are being "discriminated against" by government. Their freedom to act in a manner which unfairly judges others based on the color of their skin would indeed be limited by law. And 95% or more of the US population would rightfully ignore their complaints, viewing discrimination based on race as detrimental to society.
Questions of discrimination are still being resolved in other areas. The members of the same-sex marriage movement are rapidly coming into conflict with defenders of religious liberty; the supposed "freedom to marry" is clashing with religious freedom.
These two freedoms cannot coexist peacefully. Society will be therefore forced to choose between upholding the old freedom of religious liberty, as outlined in the First Amendment, and the new "freedom to marry." And in making this choice, society must necessarily practice discrimination against one of these two groups. Either individuals in homosexual relationships will not have the freedom to marry, or the members of religious institutions will be forced to facilitate actions they oppose on religious grounds.
When government is forced to choose between two conflicting conceptions of rights, the defenders of at least one of these conceptions of rights will complain of discrimination.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday Meditation

Today is Palm Sunday, and we are now (finally) nearing the end of Lent. The holiest time of the year is upon us. As such, the liturgies held during this time take on even more meaning than normal.
In Catholicism, there are two Gospel readings read on Palm Sunday. Every year, these same readings are read, and every year, I find myself meditating on a new reflection from these readings.
The first, shorter Gospel passage read today recounts Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, with the people of Jerusalem waving palms to welcome Him to their city. The second, longer Gospel passage tells of His betrayal and death just five days later, while the crowds mocked Him and called for His brutal crucifixion.
Today I found myself holding a palm during the long Gospel reading recounting Jesus's Passion. And then I, with the rest of my fellow parishioners, cried out: "Crucify Him!" while holding that very same palm. This was indeed fitting: in less than a week's time, those same people who proclaimed Jesus the Son of David called for his death, and I found myself in their number, calling for His demise while holding the very instrument of his welcome.
Of course, this was during the liturgy, during a scripted passage. But how striking it is that the same people who called for Jesus' death were those who proclaimed Him as their savior less than a week earlier! The Church wishes us to reflect on our own role in the death of Christ, and how we who claim Him as our King turn on Him every day through our own sin and selfishness. In a very real sense, I do turn from Him when I sin, and call for His death - He whom I claim as king.
Humanity is indeed fickle, raising men up to absurd heights in their hour of triumph and then turning on them instantly when they fall from power. And this quality of fallen humanity manifested itself during the period of Jesus's Passion 2000 years earlier, and still is all too familiar to us today.

In Defense of Dawkins

Longtime readers of this site know that I am not impressed with the work of Richard Dawkins and his fellow atheists. His arguments against God and religion, to put it politely, are not very convincing upon even cursory inspection.
But he takes a lot of flak from many Christians for his virulent opposition to Christianity in particular and religion in general. For this strong opposition, it is hard to fault him, at least from a logical standpoint.
For if there is no God, then religion is a damnable lie - a lie that keeps millions in thrall to a non-existent God and enslaved by an absurd cocktail of rules. At the very best, religion serves as a money sponge to make gullible individuals people feel better - an expensive type of homeopathy of the spirit, so to speak. At worst, religion is an organized racket which causes millions to deny themselves pleasures for no purpose, allows unscrupulous individuals to wield arbitrary power over millions, and wastes countless hours of time and energy that could be spent in more valuable pursuits. If religion be wrong and contrary to reason, then it should indeed be destroyed.
And Dawkins and his fellows understand this better than most Christians. They have staked their souls and their reputations on the assumption that their is no God, and from their worldview religion truly is an evil which must be destroyed at all costs. If they believe that, they have every right to do all in their power to destroy religion.
Obviously, I believe they are wrong (this blog would look much different otherwise), and feel it is my duty to duel them. But they have the admirable courage of the conviction of their beliefs all too often lacking among Christians. There is a quote from the poet William Butler Yeats that describes them admirably: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are filled with passionate intensity." Would that Christians possessed so much zeal for their far worthier cause!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Should the Church Sell Her Artwork?

There is a common tendency among dissenting Catholics and opponents of the Church to criticize the supposed wealth of the Church. Many complain "If the Church would simply sell Her artwork, basilicas, and vestments, give them to the poor, and return to the simplicity of Christ, then I might be more inclined to listen to Her teachings!" This atrocious sentiment is apparently even shared by a certain disgraced Church Cardinal.
Those who believe this poor excuse for an argument exhibit extreme gullibility. It is naiveté bordering on deliberate self-deception to believe that those who criticize the Church for her poverty would simply convert en masse if She sold all Her artwork, vestments, and other beautiful possessions. (As an aside, shouldn't those who would buy the artwork be helping the poor instead of spending money on supposedly useless art?) Would the Church's critics, who mock or willfully distort practically every doctrine of the Catholic Church to suit their own ends, suddenly convert if the Church were to give all Her goods to feed the poor?
Not likely. Especially since the solution the Church's critics propose to end to poverty appears to consist of free birth control for everyone, having no children, and instituting higher taxes on others to fund government programs of questionable efficacy. (The willingness of the Church's critics to give away their own possessions to assist those in need is also questionable.)
Their complaints echo those in the Bible who complained against a woman washed Jesus's feet with expensive perfume in the Gospel. (Mark 14:1-10) Her detractors complained: "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." Jesus rebuked them for their false concern, and reminded His followers that "the poor you will always have with you," but that He would not always be with them.
The Church is not foolish enough to sell off Her beautiful artwork in order to satisfy the hypocritical taunts of Her loudest detractors. In fact, She already does far more than any of Her critics for the poor. Her mission of service is not compromised by the beautiful gifts She owns. Besides, merely selling off all the Church's patrimony would not solve the plight of the poor; there are millions of poor individuals on this earth, and the money that would be gained from selling off the Church's artwork would prove to be at best a temporary solution (and more likely, not even that) for the plight of the poor.
But more importantly, the art and the decorations that the Church "owns," so to speak, are fashioned to reveal the glory of God. Artists labored to reveal the glory of God through their work. Their work is a foretaste of the beauty of heaven, and quite literally leads people to God.
And the Catholic Church generously presents this art to all. Most of the art She "owns" is located in churches open to the general public, available to be viewed free of charge. If the Church's art were located in private collections or even in museums, the poor would be unable to view the beauty contained within because of their poverty.
There are two paths to Christ and the truths of the Faith: intellect and beauty. The first path is the way of the intellect. But few are reachable by reason; the way of the scholar is not attractive to the common man with little time to think of the mysteries of heaven. And intellectuals are often led away from truth by their own arrogance and stubbornness.
The second, far more commonly taken path is the path of beauty. Yes, the example of good men and women serves as a spur to sanctity; the example of the saints inspires many to take on the sweet yoke of Christ. But beautiful objects which people create also can evoke a salutary wonder which can lead people to Christ. And the wonders of the liturgy, the glory of the basilicas, the spiritual messages of the artwork - these inspire men and women to think of a sublime God, and to think on higher things.

Update: After this was originally posted, a friend pointed out to me that the art in Catholic churches is available for all, including the poor, to view freely, whereas most museums charge for entrance. The Church makes Her beautiful art available to the public in a way that most museums do not. I have accordingly updated the post. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Price of Relevance

The eyes of the world have been upon the Catholic Church since She chose Her new leader. Many of these eyes (especially in the press) have proven to be hostile to the new Pope Francis; highly speculative (at best) articles have already been written of the former cardinal's supposed indifference to sex abuse scandals and his supposed silence in the face of genocide. (Dr. Edward Peters has destroyed this last absurd charge.)
The intense media focus on the new Pope is to be expected, of course. Even before the conclave, speculation was thick and fast about who the new Pope would be. Journalists descended on Rome in droves. All prying eyes were shut out from the conclave which elected Pope Francis, so the products of a technologically advanced age found itself reduced to staring at a chimney, discerning the Pope's election through the color of smoke.
A Church which perpetually accused of being behind the times and irrelevant certainly receives an absurd amount of attention from the prophets of the new (im)morality of modernity. It is hilarious to watch the powers-that-be demand that She change Her doctrines to suit the modern age, as though acts of appeasement could satisfy the insatiable piranhas seeking Her destruction or Her alteration beyond recognition.
For Her implacable foes in the secular community know that She is their only opponent who could possibly halt their seemingly inexorable march to hedonism (and demographic suicide). Other sects of Christianity have doomed themselves to fracture into eternal oblivion. Other faiths (save Islam, but Islamic countries are choosing the same suicidal path as the secular world) pose no threat to their order. And the secular world despises Her for Her firm opposition to its brave new world.
The price of relevance is eternal hatred. This is why the Catholic Church stands apart from every other faith. She is relevant in a way that no other faith can or will be; a sign of contradiction in a troubled world, a conscience to a world which has mocked the very concept of conscience.
And those whom She must oppose will seek to destroy Her in any way imaginable. This is the reason that Her trolls levy constant filth at Her. It is the reason why the chattering classes so insistently demand She change. It is the reason opponents have chosen to rewrite history to denigrate Her. Unchanging in doctrine, She stands as the only viable challenge to those who would drive the world to suicide.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Tyranny of the Moment

Like many American males, I love sports, and watch my favorite teams almost obsessively. (Especially the Denver Broncos.) I justify this mild obsession in many ridiculous ways, one of which is that sports often serves as a mirror of society as a whole.
One of the biggest trends in sports that society far too frequently mimics is the trend of living in the moment. For the narrative in sports is always the present. Rarely is the past dwelt upon, and the future is rarely considered by sports fans. 
The obsession of the sports fan for immediate victory is almost legendary. This team is now in a 20-game winning streak. That team is 8-8 now, despite the fact it won the Super Bowl last year. Fans are a notoriously impatient bunch, calling for the heads of excellent coaches after one losing year. One fluke play can make the difference between a championship and a heartbreaking loss, between a great year and a nightmare year.
Of course, in sports, championships are not won overnight. Bad teams go through rebuilding years. (Some teams, like the Raiders, go through seemingly eternal rebuilding phases. No, I am not sorry for that gratuitous shot at that useless team.) Teams often have what are called windows - periods when they must win championships before their aging veteran stars retire. Good teams are often forced to build their championships in lean years, by getting rid of overpriced, mediocre players and by stocking up on young talent. Rabid fans will complain about immediate losses, but teams which placate their fans and shoot for success by overspending will attain mediocrity at best.
The tyranny of the now inherent in sports is similar in many respects to the attitude of society today. We want this expensive toy, and we want it now. I'll sin now, and take the consequences later. If we don't get a boatload of funding for this inefficient project, people will lose their jobs. And so on and so forth.
Thought is rarely given to the future and towards what must be done to survive in the long term. Short-term gratification is the order of the day. And we build up debt or bad habits or bad memories until we collapse under their weight. We mortgage the future for a few moments in the present.
It is rarely, if ever, the quick change that makes a long-term impact. Championships are built upon the slow, steady build-up to success; success in human endeavors is also founded upon determined emphasis on virtue. And the path to societal suicide is rarely a quick, spectacular downfall; it is the coagulation of a confluence of mistakes. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, readers! For most people, today is a day to drink heavily, party like crazy, pretend to possess Irish ancestry, and get dispensations from Lenten observances. People view St. Patrick as a man who ran around Ireland in robes, working a bunch of miracles, causing snakes to flee his presence, and using shamrocks to talk about God.
But St. Patrick was no novelty; he was a Rambo with a crozier.

St. Patrick preaching before the Irish High King, Leoghaire.
He did not start out this way, however; his early life was not especially distinguished for its piety. And then he was captured by pirates, taken as a captive slave to Ireland... and his life really began.
He began to pray as never before, eventually managing to escape captivity with divine assistance. He was then called by God to Ireland, and was ordained as a priest and a bishop in preparation for the evangelization of Ireland. Despite the years he spent in captivity, he did not hesitate to take the message of the Gospel to those who captured and enslaved him.
On his arrival in Ireland, he was opposed by powerful forces; his life was threatened constantly by Irish chieftains and Druids, powerful pagan priests of Ireland. And he responded with incredible boldness; on the night of Holy Saturday he kindled a Paschal fire on Tara hill in defiance of Druidic rites. This fire, the Druids warned, would consume Ireland if it remained lit that night; they failed to extinguish it, and the fire of the Faith was indeed to consume all of Ireland. For the preaching and courage of St. Patrick converted the whole of Ireland; Ireland remains Catholic to this day, despite vicious persecution.
After Ireland was completely converted, he continued to minister to the land which had captured him. Legend has it that he fasted for forty days, successfully bargaining with God for the fate of Ireland.
The fate of a large island was forever changed by a man who lived a "normal" childhood, and fulfilled his call to devote his entire life to his faith and those who captured him. What, then, could be wrought through us, if we were to exhibit similar devotion in answering God's call?

The beautiful stained glass window in this post was made by Stained Glass Inc. Similar artwork can be found at

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Dangers of Drones

Anyone with a rudimentary awareness of American politics knows about the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, in American warfare. Republican Senator Rand Paul’s 12+ hour old-school filibuster provoked a strong debate over the American usage of drones that is even now making political waves.
It is important to remember that drones, in and of themselves, are not evil devices. Indeed, the use of drones will prove to be incredibly useful in future warfare. Unmanned drones are increasingly accurate, inexpensive, and small enough to avoid radar. More importantly, they will be unmanned – meaning the risk of friendly casualties will be greatly reduced, if not eliminated, during future wars. Drones will also prove to be incredibly useful for espionage, serving as effective unmanned reconnaissance vehicles due to their small size.
The problem with drones is not that they are evil, per se. Indeed, drones are a technological innovation that, properly used, could save thousands of lives. The advantage of having an unmanned aerial force is incalculable; thousands of lives could be saved.
However, it is clear that drones are devices which can be easily abused. There is little to no risk of “friendly fire,” so there is a greater opportunity for governments to engage in “trigger happy” behavior. There is the problem of that drones can invade foreign airspace with impunity. There is also the problem of anonymity: a drone can swoop out of the sky and kill without warning, with no one the wiser as to the identity of the aggressor. Already, multiple governments use drones in their arsenals. Drones may even get so cheap that they may become viable weapons for rich individuals and corporations, as well as by governments.
Drones are not evil in and of themselves, but they must be used very carefully, else grave harm will result. And fallen human nature being what it is, the leaders of governments will find ways to use them for evil.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Papacy, A Glorious Cross

God bless our new Holy Father, Pope Francis!
Much has been written and will be written about our new Pontiff. I will refrain from adding to what is surely by now a veritable mountain of information (and misinformation).
But the office of the Papacy is well worth considering. For the Papacy is the most glorious of crosses to bear for he who holds it. 
The Papacy is indeed a glorious charge. Christ Himself instituted the office; the new Pope is merely the latest in an unbroken line stretching back to the Apostles. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ, the Successor to Peter, a living symbol of the authority of the Apostles.
And for faithful Catholics, the Papacy is a wonderful gift. The Catholic faithful have a (well, at least in modern times) holy man to look up to, a visible reminder that what they believe is true, that God has not left them orphans. And we, the faithful, accordingly love our Holy Father, as sheep love a shepherd.
To the man who sits on the Chair of Peter, however, the Papacy is a heavy cross – a cross which only a man of incredible humility and spiritual strength can bear. Lesser men would be tempted by the power of the Papacy, while weaker men would be crushed by the weight of its responsibilities.
For the Pope is responsible for the fate of millions of souls; he must be the living witness of Christ to the faithful. He must hold to the teachings of the faith unwaveringly, no matter how unpopular or "irrelevant" they may seem. He is charged with guiding Christ’s Church through any storm She faces.
And the Bark of Peter is sailing into troubled waters. The world is swiftly repudiating morality and embracing relativism and hedonism. A soft persecution is brewing in America and Europe. The times will require a prudent and firm pontiff at the helm of the Bark of Peter.
Is it any wonder that the holiest of men beg to be spared election, that the lonely room where Popes first don  Papal clothing is known as the Room of Tears? New Popes, more than anyone, know the jeweled weight of their office.
The cardinals are wise (much wiser than many give them credit for), and have chosen by all accounts a worthy man to guide the Catholic Church into the future. Pope Francis now bears the cross of leadership of Christ's Church, as 264 men have done before him. May he bear it well.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How to Destroy a Worthy Cause

The surest way to set back a worthy cause is to mingle utter stupidity with truth. This is one of the many reasons why good causes are so unpopular these days.
This sad excuse for an editorial provoked this jeremiad. Some of the statements contained within this article are true; others are absurd. A few tenuously related facts slapped together, and… wham! Instant conspiracy.
The writer of this piece will make headlines – and not in a good way. A horde of activists and “neutral” journalists in America will turn their guns on him, and he won’t have anything except a web of disconnected facts and a few outright whoppers to defend himself.
The depressing thing is that there is an element of truth in what he wrote. There is indeed a concerted effort to sabotage the family. Some of those promoting this destruction are homosexual activists. Marxism did aim to destroy the family. But the slapdash manner in which he phrased his statements destroyed his own argument. (For example, homosexuality pre-dates Marxism by thousands of years.)
The most famous example of self-destruction in a good cause: Todd Akin. Akin, a pro-life Missouri congressman, rightfully opposed abortion in all cases. He also managed to set back the pro-life movement with one incredibly uninformed comment about women and rape that he couldn't defend.
Patently absurd statements are suicidal. It’s a world of gaffes, where one foolish statement can ruin a career. And we live in a world where those in positions of power seek to punish men who fight for good causes, and will seize upon any awfully worded statement (or phrase taken out of context) to do so. The last thing the enemies of goodness need is live ammunition in the form of poorly thought out "arguments" from good men.
Is all this unfair? Of course. But it’s not a fair world. Jesus commanded us to practice prudence in our earthly endeavors, lest our enemies get the better of us. “Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.” (Matt 10:16)
Either speak the truth with charity and wisdom, or speak it not at all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Against Female Altar Servers

I wrote a paper in college decrying the very existence of female altar servers, and the onset of old age has not softened these views in the slightest.
The reasons why female altar servers should not be permitted by the Church have been hashed out by better men and women than me. Altar service, in a very real sense, is training for the priesthood (indeed, it was formerly one of the minor orders – offices to which individuals were ordained to on their way to priesthood). Young men learn about the priesthood through up-close observation. The allowance for female altar servers both gives the wrong impression that women can be priests and discourages men from service that can inspire them to choose the priesthood.
But there is another reason why female altar service is not a good idea. The action on the altar taking place on the altar is the sacrifice of Christ. All eyes should be centered on that action. The task of the altar server is to disappear, so to speak, while the sacrifice of the Mass is taking place; to humbly assist the priest in silent reverence.The role of the female is to be the visible expression of God’s beauty, so to speak. The female was created by God to be both seen and heard. The office of altar server conflicts with that feminine role.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Born to Soar

There is a common tendency to divide humanity into great sinners, great saints, and “normal people.” We tend to think that a merciful God glorifies the great, damns the evil, and reflexively saves the average Joe.
There is a strong part of me that wants to believe that this is the case. After all, God is infinitely merciful.
But I can’t quite shake a nagging feeling that there is more required of us that what we deem to be the bare minimum for salvation. And an even stronger part of me warns that I would not choose the path to joy if it were presented me now, preferring my own weak will to eternal joy.
For as I have stated more fully in a previous post, God loves us deeply. He loves us not with the senile affection of a grandparent, but with the burning fire of a lover. And He demands that burning love of us in return.
A life of comfort is a dreadful temptation to mediocrity and indolence. C.S. Lewis, in the Screwtape Letters, warns us that the comfortable path is dangerous for salvation: "The safest road to Hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
Yes, this comes from a fictional devil, and thus comes with a grain of salt. But Christ himself indicated the same in the Gospels when he warned: "Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat." (Matthew 7:13)
We were made in the image and likeness of God. We are given by God incredible graces in the seven sacraments, a book to teach us our heritage, an incredible longing to enjoy a presence which we see faint echoes of on earth, and a Church to help us love Him better .
We were born to soar, to become living flames of virtue, sons and daughters of God.
And yet I can say for myself that I consistently choose the path of mediocrity - Masses barely concentrated    on, prayers hastily whispered, duties grudgingly performed. Would I really want to spend an eternity in the unbearably powerful presence of my Master after a lifetime of half-given service?
Perhaps. Yes, I might be saved, in spite of myself. Yes, I may choose the path of paradise on my deathbed. Yes, I may have a tepid, latent desire for Christ that Purgatory will blow into flame.
But as of this moment, I can't say for sure whether this is the case, and it scares me greatly. 
Are we sure that a merciful God will save us in spite of ourselves, when we may not wish to bear His love in return? I would never and could never claim knowledge of who chooses salvation or damnation - but I do know that humans tend to miss the marks they aim for, and that shooting for mere mediocrity may result in much worse. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Return of Bad Poetry!

Just a quickie thought...

Some say the world will end in fire.
Some say in ice.
They are both wrong.
I say the world will end in asphalt.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Post-Same Sex Marriage Future (The Addendum)

In my previous post, I argued that the proponents of same-sex marriage will collapse under the demographic pressure of their redefinition of marriage to de-emphasize children. I must make two rather frightening caveats to this assessment.
The first caveat is that the culture advocates of the new conception of marriage have created and will continue to forge will be alluring; the glitz and the gaudiness of the dying society (and the soft persecution that accompanies it) will draw in some of the children of faithful Catholics, causing them to embrace the culture of death. This, in and of itself, will not be sufficient to overturn the demographic tide (after all, individuals disgusted with the emptiness of the modern culture will likely swim the Tiber), but it will slow it slightly.
The second caveat involves the widespread adoption of artificial reproductive technologies. Already, technologies exist which shortcut the natural processes of childbirth, such as in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers. (These processes create rather shocking moral questions.) The potential creation of artificial wombs is a very real possibility. Human reproduction may not need human participation soon
What I fear, quite literally, is a “Brave New World,” in which children are manufactured in laboratories and the human element is completely removed from the reproductive process. This would allow a society to replenish its numbers and dive ever deeper into the depths of hedonism. I fear that this future will take place because others openly call for it, even now.
This future would be the death of the family, if adopted. Children could be raised in government institutions, trained in government schools, and never have anyone to rear them other than the government. It would increase the role and the power of the government over humanity to absurd and dangerous levels.  
I do not think that such an institution would survive today, of course – the outcry, even in our troubled society, would as yet be too great. But a decadent society desperate to protect its vices and yet replenish its numbers might well be driven to adopt this nightmarish strategy, embracing servitude to a reproductive totalitarianism to maintain their pleasures.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Post-Same Sex Marriage Future

There are many who claim that the demise of traditional marriage is inevitable, and that those who seek an “expanded” definition of marriage will eventually and irrevocably triumph, since the “tide of history” is on their side. Some of this is of course wishful thinking, but in the short term, the adoption of same-sex marriage is likely to become a reality in the foreseeable future.
Let’s assume that the adoption of same-sex marriage in America is inevitable, and the definition of marriage in America will be altered to include same-sex couples in around 5 years or so. What happens next?
In the short term, very little. The world accepts same-sex marriage, and… nothing will happen immediately. People will keep living their lives, as people usually do after changes come, as though nothing ever happened. Lightning bolts will not descend out of the sky to destroy America.
And it is also likely that a consensus will begin to form around same-sex marriage. It is difficult to say exactly what percentage of the American population will embrace same-sex marriage, but it seems probable to say that 75 to 90 percent of the American population will eventually accept the redefinition. Protestant fundamentalists will most likely adhere to the Biblical prohibition against homosexuality, while faithful Catholics, Orthodox (Christians and Jews), and a few contrarian natural law proponents will continue to oppose homosexual marriage on natural law grounds. Everyone else who has not already done so will accept the status quo.
For the fight for same-sex marriage is part of a much larger attempt to change the purpose of marriage to legitimize any consensual sexual relationship and to de-emphasize the role of the family in society. It is a retreat from the Christian view of marriage in favor of a new view of marriage as societal recognition of any consensual behavior.
So the adoption of same-sex marriage is less about “civil rights” and more a symptom of society’s larger embrace of a post-Christian vision of marriage, where the place of the family and of children is rendered secondary (or irrelevant) to the pleasure of multiple consenting individuals. Other “restrictions” to marriage will fall in turn; the next barrier to fall will most likely be that of only two partners in marriages. “Open marriages” will be the next frontier (no one will call it polygamy, which carries with it a stigma).
But the change in the definition of marriage will have far-reaching consequences on society. The fertility rate will continue to plummet, as children become increasingly viewed as strains on an overburdened and overpopulated society and hindrances to the pleasure of consenting partners. As the years take their course, government institutions designed to assist the old and the disabled will be strained to the point of collapse, as the taxpayer base grows smaller and the pool of retirees grows larger and larger.
Meanwhile, a soft persecution of Christians will take place, in which Christians adhering to traditional marriage will be restricted from holding political offices and government positions for their views on marriage. No, they will not be expressly prevented from office; but they will be constantly demonized for holding "intolerant" views of marriage by the media, to the point where election will be impossible. Opposition to same-sex marriage will be viewed as a civil rights violation, and treated accordingly.
It will take two or three generations for this state of affairs to fully play itself out. (For a sign of what is to come, look to Europe, which is farther down this road than America and graying rapidly.)
This state of affairs will continue until society comes to a crucial crossroads. The leaders in charge of society will grow older, and will have few children to replace them. Faithful Christians, meanwhile, will grow in numbers. Childless individuals will be repressing the very people keeping the systems they depend on barely functional. Childless individuals, as they age, will become increasingly dependent on government social systems to keep them alive, yet the systems they depend on will become dependent upon those who have held to the traditional view of marriage.
The eventual result will be the restoration of traditional marriage, as the proponents of the new view of marriage commit demographic suicide. The proponents of the shift in marriage may triumph for a day, but will destroy their cause by destroying their descendants.