Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

A Barren Beach

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 15, 2009

I confess it: I just don’t see how it is possible for a good Catholic to favor the Federal takeover of health care. This is so obvious that we shouldn’t even have to be debating it. Completely apart from funding for abortion, each bishop in the United States should see the problem with a clarity so pure and crystalline as to hurt his eyes. (For just a few of the reasons, see Phil Lawler’s The Catholic case against health-care reform.)

Look: Anyone who understands the secularist trajectories of contemporary American polity, the increasing tendency in the West toward totalitarianism, the violation of human freedom and dignity which necessarily follows the abandonment of subsidiarity, and the dramatic push toward a culture of death by Western culture in general, and by the American courts and Democratic Party over the last generation in particular—well, anybody with even an inkling of the factors in play, if he has significant Christian values at all, should be running as far away from Federally-controlled health care as possible.

The new world that anyone with eyes should see coming is a world in which genuinely religious people, who take Revelation seriously rather than making it all up as they go along, will be increasingly marginalized; where extreme moral evils will not only be permitted but protected by law, and not only protected by law but required; where the bulk of those evils are bioethical and therefore inescapably medical; and where those who object to such evils must either participate in them or lose the right to practice their profession, to remain at liberty, or even to remain alive.

We have been through wave after wave of this sort of thing since faith and reason were divorced in the eighteenth century: first the French Revolution and the Terror, then the rise of Communism and Nazism, and now the increasingly ideological progressions of the European Union and the American judicial system. Every one of these manifestations of the secular rationalist state has been greeted as beneficial to mankind by a significant number of citizens, who have fervently blessed slavery as freedom, and called black white.

If the effort to put health care fully under Federal control is not, under contemporary circumstances, a major step along this path, then I am incapable of analytical thought. Does anyone seriously believe this will not amplify and multiply the full range of horrendous bioethical evils which afflict our dying culture? Does anyone really believe it will not strengthen the culture of death, ultimately punishing those who oppose it? How is any other interpretation possible? Whence comes a realistic hope that the result could be something other than this? Where are the historical trends to support such a vanity?

And what infuriates me is that so many, including many who claim the Catholic name, still purport not to see this; still claim they can support it with complete consistency as Christians; still dissemble; or, at best, still convince themselves that by riding this new wave of power they can escape the ultimate drowning of their own souls.

Ah! See them riding that monstrous wave, boasting as if seizing a higher and firmer ground! Observe the teeming insignificance of so much life swept below! Pause to watch the mighty water as it arches and froths, and hear presently their exultant shouts turn to terror as the wave curls and crashes, spilling even the mightiest into its shimmering maw. Listen at last to the diminishing roar as the wave recedes, revealed only now as the ebb tide of history, leaving its dead upon the barren beach.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Ken - Dec. 20, 2009 1:38 AM ET USA

    Outstanding comment, Jeff. We are on the leading edge of changing the very character of this great country. God help us.

  • Posted by: peggyann - Dec. 19, 2009 1:04 AM ET USA

    I was surprised to see no comments in response to such an excellent article. My comment is only that so many, including Catholics, are willing not to see the evil in front of them if someone else (government - which is silly since the only money they have comes from us) is picking up the tab. This bill will turn out to be much more expensive than ANY soul can afford.