Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $36,749 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Certainties

By Leila (articles ) | May 11, 2005

An axiom of modern belief holds that some things about human nature improve with time, and these improvements take place in defiance of the repressive effects of Christianity – thus proving religion wrong, or at least not really necessary.

When a Catholic tries to advance the doctrine of Original Sin and doubts the perfectibility of man, he can be sure to be met with a couple of examples of how, once the shackles of his benighted faith were overthrown, things definitely got better. The abolition of slavery, for instance, represents for humanists the noblest argument for history's march through progress. Another case might be how the mentally ill now receive the humane treatment that only enlightened scientific practice can bestow.

This certainty of moral progress achieves its status in part by particular identification. Once we associate slavery with slavery of a particular people at a particular time, we no longer recognize it when it occurs in other circumstances – it's actually been defined away.

The same thing happens when injustice to the insane brings up images of men in straightjackets drooling in dank medieval hospitals, or when genocide is equated with the attempt to exterminate a certain race. Having made the specific association, we are unable to locate an abstraction in another time, another place, happening to other people.

You may occasionally read about wretched women who are forced by economics to leave their children and homes – to be beaten hopelessly at the hands of their masters in another land ; or the insane who find themselves in cold prisons, alone with their tormented minds.

Somehow one can't, these days, categorize these tragedies as the result of our fallen condition, to be fought against by the fight of virtue as of old. Far less does one notice any suggestion that the increase, even ubiquity, of such occurrences may be the direct consequence of the prevailing ideology.

Just as identifying slavery exclusively with what happened in colonial America makes it invisible today, so ascribing it to religion makes it impossible to imagine another motive for one person to enslave another. Yet it must be clear that slavery can't be caused by Christianity, since the slave-trade flourishes in this post-Christian world.

No, the injustices, where acknowledged at all, are simply to be seen as the unintended double effects of a society pursuing important goals: the comfort of those liberated from the imperatives of old moralities, and the enriching of the insatiably rich.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($125,128 to go):
$150,000.00 $24,872.05
83% 17%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - May. 11, 2005 11:38 AM ET USA

    The injustices are accepted because they are thoroughly infused with a "Messiah" complex, the neocon ideology. If only someone will give them and their leader, the latest incarnation of the Messiah, all secular power to kill off the few recalcitrants, they will do what God couldn't do: make this world perfect!

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Church Moves On, Slowly 16 hours ago
Is Cardinal Kasper losing his grip? 21 hours ago
The Pope is not the problem October 23
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. October 23
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6