Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lucia The spirit that makes war

This address by Fulton Sheen in 1940 was referring to WW2, but it can just as easily be transferred to today's times. He refers to prayer, penance and reparation as the only way to defeat this spirit. He diagnoses the characteristics of it which are it's irrationality, it's violence and it's atheism.
We know what it means to be rational; namely, to think before we act. We do not just suddenly find ourselves, for example, standing in a telephone [boo]th; a reason preceded and determined our presence there. As St. John expressed it: “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1) – first the Word, the Idea, the Thought, Reason; then the action: (hand the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

The irrational is just the contrary. It is the primacy of action over idea: First you act and then you think why you did it. As Goethe put it: "In the beginning was the Deed." Reason exists, according to this philosophy, merely to justify action, or to rationalize an evil. Ideas are, as one jurist in America believes, just "instruments of power”; that is, one uses an idea to further one’s power, and then when it ceases to be useful, one scraps it and substitutes another. Not justice but opportunism becomes the rule.


That the modern world is inspired by irrationality is further proved by the fact that practically all revolutions were initiated without ideologies; and even if a program was elaborated before the Revolution, it was abandoned soon after. First the power is seized, then a program developed. Law thus becomes not a mandate of reason, but of the will whatever the dictator decides is right!


The second characteristic note of the modern world is violence. And violence, be it noted, follows from irrationality. Reason is the faculty which gives us goals, purposes, ends, and ideals. When a man loses the purpose of living, he becomes mad. A boiler, for example, has a purpose – namely the retention of steam at a given pressure for heat and power. The boiler receives its purpose from a human reason – the mind of an engineer. The moment the boiler loses the purpose imposed upon it by human reason, it explodes. And the moment society loses the purpose given to it by the Eternal Reason of God, it revolts.

Violence follows irrationality. Of course, there has always been violence in the world, but the violence of our day is different from the violence of the past in two respects. Violence in the past was based on an affirmation: Men loved something so much they resorted to force to achieve it. But today violence is grounded not on an affirmation, but on a negation: Men are violent not because they love something, but because they hate something.


A few years ago I encountered a young atheist in the vestibule of a Catholic Church in London who, boasting of her atheism, shouted: "Every night I go out to Hyde Park and talk against God. I urge my listeners to drive the illusion from the earth. I circulate England, Scotland, and Wales with pamphlets denouncing a belief in God." When she drew a deep breath thus giving me my just opportunity to speak I said to her: "Suppose I went across the street here to Soho Square and every night talked against 20-footed ghosts and 10-legged centaurs; suppose I circulated England, Scotland. and Wales with pamphlets denouncing a belief in 20-footed ghosts and 10-legged centaurs. What would happen to me?" She said: "You would be crazy; they would lock you up." "Correct," said I "Now, tell me, why don’t they lock you up? Don’t you put God in exactly the same category of illusion as that in which I put a 20-footed ghost and a 10-legged centaur? Why would I be crazy and not you?” I had to tell her the answer: "Because if I attacked ghosts or centaurs the reason of men and the tradition of mankind would tell me I was attacking a figment of my imagination– which is a mark of insanity. But when you attack God you are not attacking an illusion but something just as real as the thrust of a sword or an embrace. It is the reality of God which saves you from insanity and it is the reality of God which gives substance and energy to your attacks." And she answered: "I hate you!” To which I answered: "Now you have answered me. Atheism is not a doctrine, it is a cry of wrath.”

Universalize the case and you have the explanation for the vehemence and ferocity of modern atheism. It could not so hate a myth. lf there were no God, the rage of atheism would be without foundation. They destroy only because there is something to be destroyed. In a word, they believe. Only where the image of God is can there be the counterfeit; man can set himself up as God only because he came from God.
. snip.
Morality, piety, love of God, are constant reproaches to the atheists immorality and their burdened consciences. They falsely believe that remorse of conscience, a sense of guilt, and the effects of sin, are the creation of priests and religious; if they could kill all priests, ministers, and rabbis, and raze all churches and synagogues, they could sin with impunity, do wrong without feeling guilty, and lift themselves up to the insane stage where there is no longer a distinction between good and evil and therefore one where man is God and God is naught. They cannot drive God out of the world, but they seek to banish His representatives. That is why they persecute! But instead of scaling the heavens and making themselves as gods, they only lay waste the earth.
Related link : The Spirit that makes War ~
Inspired by: Bring it on? ~ Crusader Rabbit

5 comment(s):

Psycho Milt said...

A few years ago I encountered a young atheist in the vestibule of a Catholic Church in London who, boasting of her atheism, shouted: "Every night I go out to Hyde Park and talk against God.

Meanwhile, back in the world of people who don't invent fantasy debates in which they inflict crushing rhetorical defeats on their imagined opponents, someone presenting Sheen's argument in this paragraph would have it pointed out to them that if a large number of people firmly believed in ridiculous fantasy creatures, it would by no means be considered insane to make them aware of their mistake.

KG said...

A sly dig at CR--for our "sin" of wondering if war is inevitable in Europe as a result of the massive influx of people who have declared war on the West.
If it ever comes to that, Lucia Maria, all your pontificating and moralising and religiosity won't keep one Christian's head on his shoulders and won't save any Western girl from a life as a chattel.
Oh--and "the spirit that makes war" has often been the spirit that kept men free from tyrants.

KG said...

Oh, and you left out the question mark after "Bring it on".
Makes a difference.:)

Lucia Maria said...

I'll put the question mark in after I've finished writing this comment.

KG, If I wanted to be sly, I would not have put in the link. But I've had it with being gentle on this issue.

... "the spirit that makes war" has often been the spirit that kept men free from tyrants.

Only when men go to war to protect what they love do they have a chance of being free from tyrants. Otherwise they become the tyrants.

JJ said...

Good post Lucia, and thanks for the links as well.

Post a Comment

Please be respectful. Foul language and personal attacks may get your comment deleted without warning. Contact us if your comment doesn't appear - the spam filter may have grabbed it.