That Day Is Today

 

“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.'”

Those words were spoken 1,700 years ago by St. Anthony the Great. And I was reminded of them while reading this article at Crisis by Regis Nicoll:

Christian moral teaching, once believed essential for human flourishing and the common good, is increasingly viewed as naïve at best, and harmful at worst, with anything less than unqualified approval for everything pelvic grounds for questioning a person’s intelligence, rationality, and decency. In less time than it took for the transition from flip phones to smart phones, what had been unthinkable has become unquestionable:

  • Marriage, the exclusively heterosexual union since time immemorial, has been redefined to include persons of any and all sexual persuasions;
  • Children who are not allowed to choose their bedtime are permitted to choose their gender;
  • Teens who can’t receive an aspirin from the school nurse are able to procure abortions without parental notification;
  • Gender-confused adults are leading “Drag Queen Story Hour” for children in public schools and libraries;
  • Biological males who are middling athletes among men are competing (and winning!) against women – a biological category that some people, it seems, don’t know (or have forgotten) how to define.

It is madness.

And we see it play out again and again. Just this week, we had the Provorov Affair – outrage over a man refusing to wear an alphabet soup pride jersey during a warmup for a hockey game. And we also had this abomination — two homosexuals who mistakenly think they are married, sexually abusing their adopted children and pimping them out through child pornography.

The madness extends to secular issues as well: climate change, green energy, open borders, etc., etc.

Nothing seems to be what it once was. The slow trickle of insanity during my 65 years of life on earth has seemed to turn into a deluge.

This madness reinforces the fact that we have a grave misunderstanding of tolerance. Two quotes on tolerance come to mind.

The first is from Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

“America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance-it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”

“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory.

Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”

The second comes from Archbishop Charles Chaput:

Tolerance is a working principle that enables us to live in peace with other people and their ideas. Most of the time, it’s a very good thing. But it is not an end in itself, and tolerating or excusing grave evil in a society is itself a grave evil. The roots of this word are revealing. Tolerance comes from the Latin tolerare, “to bear or sustain,” and tollere, which means, “to lift up.” It implies bearing other persons and their beliefs the way we carry a burden or endure a headache. It’s actually a negative idea. And it is not a Christian virtue.

Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square — peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.

Catholics have the duty not to “tolerate” other people but to love them, which is a much more demanding task. Justice, charity, mercy, courage, wisdom – these are Christian virtues; but not tolerance. Real Christian virtues flow from an understanding of truth, unchanging and rooted in God, that exists and obligates us whether we like it or not. The pragmatic social truce we call “tolerance” has no such grounding.

We are broken as a society because we get this exactly backward: we are tolerant of a wrongful understanding of truth and principles and intolerant of people (tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error).

I agree with Mr. Nicoll that politicians are not the ones to pull us out of this madness — as he points out and as we see every day, they keep taking us deeper into the sewer.

We need a major revival in the Church to set things back into balance. Yet the Church — at least during my lifetime — seems to have been more influenced by the culture than having influenced the culture. This is nowhere more evident than when we see prominent Catholic politicians (Biden, Pelosi, Kerry, Durbin, etc.) manifestly promote and support abortion, the LGBTQ agenda, and so-called SSM. These politicians are rarely called out for this by their bishops, and they are almost never disciplined for the heresy and apostasy they proclaim and live. One wonders if the bishops have any faith at all and whether they believe they are successors of the Apostles. How can one believe these bishops have any moral authority when they sit back and do nothing?

Go back to that opening quote:

Christian moral teaching, once believed essential for human flourishing and the common good, is increasingly viewed as naïve at best, and harmful at worst, with anything less than unqualified approval for everything pelvic grounds for questioning a person’s intelligence, rationality, and decency.

How do we reverse this? Who will rouse us from the sentimental pragmatic social truce society calls “tolerance”?

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There are 18 comments.

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  1. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    Scott Wilmot: Who will rouse us from the sentimental pragmatic social truce society calls “tolerance”?

    Politics follow culture.  There will be no charismatic leader at the forefront unless they see an overwhelming swell of ground support demanding it.

    It starts with us, each of us,  refusing to use preferred pronouns,  refusing to praise men competing in girls sports,  actively condemning CRT, and groomers. 

    It begins with you. 

    • #1
  2. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    It might bring some comfort to remember that the Church has always had lousy bishops. Athanasius was one of the few holding on to Truth when most of the episcopacy had succumbed to the Arian heresy, and John Fisher was one of the few bishops – or was he the only one? – who stood up to Henry VIII. The rest all caved. Athanasius endured multiple exiles and John Fisher was executed; our bishops face the dislike of hostile politicians and the scorn of the media and surrounding culture, and that’s apparently enough for most of them to abandon the Truth.

    I don’t know if this can be reversed. In my gloomier moments I see us inevitably going the way of the Roman Empire, collapsing under the weight of barbarian invasions, with the barbarians this time coming from within. What gives me some cause for hope is that there have been Great Awakenings – religious revivals – that have had an effect in the past. I think that is what it would take to turn this country around. I agree with Nohaaj that we have to do our part and not go along with the current madness. We will all need to speak up more, pray more, and keep our voices in the public square.

    • #2
  3. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Scott Wilmot: Tolerance is a working principle that enables us to live in peace with other people and their ideas. Most of the time, it’s a very good thing. But it is not an end in itself, and tolerating or excusing grave evil in a society is itself a grave evil. The roots of this word are revealing. Tolerance comes from the Latin tolerare, “to bear or sustain,” and tollere, which means, “to lift up.” It implies bearing other persons and their beliefs the way we carry a burden or endure a headache. It’s actually a negative idea. And it is not a Christian virtue.

    I knew I had read that somewhere before! Love AB Chaput.

    One of the many problems to be overcome is the emphasis on circumstance and appetite as identity (as @keithlowery so eloquently expressed here) — or, as Catholics might say, the accidents of our birth (skin color and sexual appetites) rather than the essence of our humanity expressed by our free will choices. MLK would say the wrong-headed self-definition (and definition of others) by the color of our skin over the content of our character. 

    The whole language of the Left is in service to this lie about who we are.

    Thanks for the post and the reminder that we are all sent.

    • #3
  4. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Scott Wilmot: We need a major revival in the Church to set things back into balance. Yet the Church – at least during my lifetime – seems to have been more influenced by the culture than having influenced the culture. This is nowhere more evident than when we see prominent Catholic politicians (Biden, Pelosi, Kerry, Durbin, etc.) manifestly promote and support abortion, the LGBTQ agenda, and so-called SSM. These politicians are rarely called out for this by their bishops and they are almost never disciplined for the heresy and apostasy they proclaim and live. One wonders if the bishops have any faith at all and whether they believe they are successors of the Apostles. How can one believe these bishops have any moral authority when they sit back and do nothing?

    This is the saddest part. Perhaps a move towards true repentance will have to start with the lay people.

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Provorov’s jersey is getting hard to obtain.

    Fancy that. Do you suppose that the sports commentators who have been ripping on Provorov saw that coming?

    • #5
  6. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Scott Wilmot:

    How do we reverse this? Who will rouse us from the sentimental pragmatic social truce society calls “tolerance”?

    Bookmark

    Jesus will when he comes again. Be ready for his return;  encourage your friends and family to be ready for his return.

    Long term, Jesus is the only hope.   Short term we can hope the idiots fail to reproduce and kill each other off without killing our friends, family etc.

    • #6
  7. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    It starts with us, each of us,  refusing to use preferred pronouns,  refusing to praise men competing in girls sports,  actively condemning CRT, and groomers. 

    It begins with you.

    Yes. Thank you.

    • #7
  8. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    It might bring some comfort to remember that the Church has always had lousy bishops.

    It doesn’t bring me comfort but it is reality. And unfortunately the lousy bishop parade is led today by the Bishop of Rome.

    What does give me comfort is that there are good bishops in the make of Athanasius – I am blessed with one here in the Diocese of Tyler: Joseph Strickland.

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    We will all need to speak up more, pray more, and keep our voices in the public square.

    Amen.

    • #8
  9. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    One of the many problems to be overcome is the emphasis on circumstance and appetite as identity (as @keithlowery so eloquently expressed here) — or, as Catholics might say, the accidents of our birth (skin color and sexual appetites) rather than the essence of our humanity expressed by our free will choices. MLK would say the wrong-headed self-definition (and definition of others) by the color of our skin over the content of our character. 

    The whole language of the Left is in service to this lie about who we are.

    Thanks for linking to the post from Keith – it is very good.

    • #9
  10. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    This is the saddest part. Perhaps a move towards true repentance will have to start with the lay people.

    Yes. Archbishop Sheen again:

    “Who’s going to save our Church? It’s not our bishops, it’s not our priests and it is not the religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that the priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and the religious act like religious.”

    • #10
  11. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    It might bring some comfort to remember that the Church has always had lousy bishops.

    It doesn’t bring me comfort but it is reality. And unfortunately the lousy bishop parade is led today by the Bishop of Rome.

    What does give me comfort is that there are good bishops in the make of Athanasius – I am blessed with one here in the Diocese of Tyler: Joseph Strickland.

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    We will all need to speak up more, pray more, and keep our voices in the public square.

    Amen.

    Perhaps “comfort” was a poor choice of word on my part! Or perhaps I should have said that the “comfort” comes in knowing that the Church survived lousy bishops in the past and will do so in the future. But will our country survive spineless bishops? That’s not so sure….

    I think the Church Militant needs to get a lot more militant. I recently heard that a diocese in Iowa banned “preferred pronouns” in Catholic schools, and ruled that bathrooms in these schools will be not be accomodating the trans nonsense. That was good to hear.

    Here in my little town (about 5,000 souls) there was a Drag Queen Halloween event, and the invitation to it, which was posted on the Chamber of Commerce’s event page, listed the event as being for “13-year -olds and up”. Even small town America is being subjected this depravity! I went to the Chamber of Commerce, the police, and the president of the board which oversees the venue it appeared at, wrote a letter to the editor, etc.  I should probably write a post about my experience. But what bothers me is that there was no condemnation of this by any of the local pastors, Catholic or Protestant (though a group praying in front of the event venue was assembled by local Catholics). This is a town with one Catholic church, at least three Lutheran churches (different synods), an Assembly of God church, and a smattering of other sorts of Evangelical churches. Where were the religious leaders?!

    • #11
  12. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    This is the saddest part. Perhaps a move towards true repentance will have to start with the lay people.

    Yes. Archbishop Sheen again:

    “Who’s going to save our Church? It’s not our bishops, it’s not our priests and it is not the religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that the priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and the religious act like religious.”

    That’s a great quote from Archbishop Sheen – thanks!

    • #12
  13. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Scott Wilmot:

    And I was reminded of them while reading this article at Crisis by Regis Nicoll:

    . . .

    • Marriage, the exclusively heterosexual union since time immemorial, has been redefined to include persons of any and all sexual persuasions;

    It always included them.

    https://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/14-556bsacSame-SexAttractedMenandTheirWives.pdf

    It was redefined to include persons of any and all sexes.

    • #13
  14. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot:

    And I was reminded of them while reading this article at Crisis by Regis Nicoll:

    . . .

    • Marriage, the exclusively heterosexual union since time immemorial, has been redefined to include persons of any and all sexual persuasions;

    It always included them.

    https://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/14-556bsacSame-SexAttractedMenandTheirWives.pdf

    It was redefined to include persons of any and all sexes.

    Good point.

    • #14
  15. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot:

    And I was reminded of them while reading this article at Crisis by Regis Nicoll:

    . . .

    • Marriage, the exclusively heterosexual union since time immemorial, has been redefined to include persons of any and all sexual persuasions;

    It always included them.

    https://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/14-556bsacSame-SexAttractedMenandTheirWives.pdf

    It was redefined to include persons of any and all sexes.

    Yes, same-sex attracted men used to have children the old-fashioned way — with their wives. Now they acquire them by exploiting women. 

    • #15
  16. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    This is a very good post Scott.  Tolerance of deleterious things does not lead to human flourishing.  I agree with Chaput, Sheen and everyone you quoted.  It was really bad with the sexual revolution but I think it got exponentially worse with the institution of gay marriage.  I associated the exponential drop in faith with the Obama presidency but someone pointed out to me that it was at that time that Millennials and Gen Z reached a voting age.  It was bad with the boomer generation but subsequent generations may even be worse.  This could be a generational thing.

    Of course, that doesn’t explain how we got here.  Certainly the sexual revolution had a big impact.  I think technology has increased alienation of people, so that like minded people only talk in an echo chamber of their own particular ideas.  I think scientism, the belief that science can answer all the questions of humanity, has had something to do with it.  I also think a pluralistic society has had something to do with the loss of faith.  When lots of faiths are all around you, the average person blurs them into one, or, even worse, leads one to conclude that none of them are true.  The gradual loss of faith is a systemic problem.  But there have been times in history when we were at similar circumstances.  We can grow out of this again, and I also have faith that this is part of God’s Providence.  There is a divine reason why we’re in this place, though it’s hard to see why.

    What to do about it is not easy to answer.  A few years ago I poo-pooed the Benedict Option.  If you remember Rod Dreher proposed  that religious minded people separate themselves in the fashion of the Benedictine Monastery to shield themselves from the toxic culture and to essentially wait out the the barbarian take over of culture.  I’m beginning to think that’s not as bad an idea as I once did.  I certainly an sending my son through Catholic schools.  Of course that doesn’t guarantee anything.  It’s impossible to shield the next generation entirely from the culture.  On one front we must try.  School choice would be the biggest legislative change we can make.  We really have to put all our political capital into that basket.

    Yes, the Bishops need to be more confrontational with the bad elements of the culture.  They have to be more vocal.  I don’t necessarily mean political, though that is sometimes called for.  What they need most is a media platform.  There are bishops who do speak out.  I hear them.  Nobody reads the media outlets we read.  The general population doesn’t hear them.  Unfortunately we’re preaching to the choir.  Even when they are heard, I’m skeptical that it has any effect.  At best they’re trying to hold faithful or semi-faithful Catholics together.  This is a generational fight.

     

    • #16
  17. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    I find that I can easily become discouraged when I frame the challenges we face in sweeping terms like needing to fix the broader culture. Rightly or wrongly I am growing more focused on how to orient my own personal actions, within the degrading culture, in ways that bring light and truth.

    Along these lines, I think Solzhenitsyn was onto something when he said:
    “The simplest, the most accessible key to our liberation:  a personal non-participation in lies!
    Even if all is covered by lies, even if all is under their rule, let us resist in the smallest way: Let their rule hold not through me!
     “- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    Solzhenitsyn’s notion of “non-participation in lies” was sort of a slightly earlier (1974) version of Havel’s later argument in The Power of the Powerless. (1978)

    I have resolved to never intentionally or consciously adopt language that does not conform to reality. I think non-participation in lies during our current moment means, for example, refusing to participate in the perversion of language (e.g. regarding pronouns and what constitutes a marriage – I will not write or say “she” in reference to a male whether transgender or not. I will not write or say the words “his husband” or “her wife”. I will not use the plural for the singular. etc. etc. ad nauseum)

    Refusal to participate in the deception and gaslighting is likely to create personal conflict. Possibly even employment and financial conflict. But it may be that a relatively small number of people who refuse to “go along to get along” will be enough to create what will eventually turn out to be fatal cracks in the foundation of lies being laid within the culture.

    I also personally find it helpful to periodically revisit the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Three of the earliest incorrigibles where a commitment to God was concerned. In reply to the threat of being burned to death in the oven, they said “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us…but if not, be it known to thee we will not serve thy gods.”

    That awkward “but if not” aspect of their response is instructive for me: a clue to their obstinance being not merely utilitarian – but principled.  In a similar way, I also believe God is able to use a small number of truth-tellers to dispel the cultural darkness. But if not, if I do not live to see a change, I still will not participate in lies. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)

    Because non-participation in lies is something that is within my reach, it seems, for me at least, a less daunting and insurmountable project than changing the culture.

    Thanks for your post.

    • #17
  18. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Keith Lowery (View Comment):
    I have resolved to never intentionally or consciously adopt language that does not conform to reality. I think non-participation in lies during our current moment means, for example, refusing to participate in the perversion of language (e.g. regarding pronouns and what constitutes a marriage – I will not write or say “she” in reference to a male whether transgender or not. I will not write or say the words “his husband” or “her wife”. I will not use the plural for the singular. etc. etc. ad nauseum)

    Yes, we should all be intolerant of the butchering of language.

    Your entire comment was very good.

    • #18
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