The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Strange Doings

Every so often I come across a few isolated news stories that together offer more than a glimpse into the decay of our once-civilized society. Interestingly, this decline is most obviously manifested among those otherwise thought to be the most civilized among us: lawyers who ignore the rule of law; doctors who murder the most innocent of their "patients"; politicians who place their own welfare above the good of the country and the people; philosophers who arrogantly reject the thought of all who preceded them; religious leaders who redefine truth and morality to align with the current zeitgeist. Such attitudes are nothing new, but sadly they have in recent years become more the rule than the exception, and this downward spiral into modern barbarism seems to be picking up speed.

The most obvious cause of this decay, especially in Western Europe, is the decline of religious faith among those once considered Christians. In much of Western Europe approximately a quarter of population no longer believes in God, essentially making them atheists. Among the rest a large percentage believe not in God, but in some ill-defined Star Wars-like "force". In the UK, for example, only 37% agree with the statement "I believe there is a God." (Poll results available here.) Once the religious "cult" is removed from the culture, nothing much remains. Here are a few examples from the news:

Immorality of Down's Syndrome. Oxford professor and professional atheist, Richard Dawkins, has stated that it is immoral for parents to allow a Down's Syndrome baby to be born. They should, in his words, "abort it and try again." I apologize to my dear friend Michael for the doctor's thoughtless comments and assure Michael that I am very happy God and his loving parents gave him the gift of life.

I'm always amazed when I encounter an atheist who speaks of things moral and immoral. After all, if we are simply biological accidents, the products of an impersonal evolutionary process, where exactly does morality come from? Should we not, then, always act in our own individual best interests and simply do what will provide the most pleasure in this brief life. Maybe killing Down's Syndrome babies gives the good professor pleasure.

Sainsbury: Politically Correct Ani-Semitism. In another story from the UK, Sainsbury, the large supermarket chain, decided to appease anti-Israeli (i.e., pro-Hamas terrorists) protestors by removing all kosher foods from its shelves. Of course, kosher foods are not Israeli; they are Jewish. Sainsbury, therefore, showed its hand and its raw anti-Semitism. Click on the above link and you will encounter other examples of the reemergence of Jew-hatred in polite society. Only 70 years since the holocaust and it's apparently become an acceptable mainstream attitude in Western Europe.

Fine for Refusing to Host a Lesbian "Wedding": $13,000. An upstate NY couple were fined a total of $13,000 by the state's curiously named Division of Human Rights (DHR) because they chooses not to host a lesbian couple's wedding on their farm. Apparently, then, in the land of the free a family owned small business can no longer base a business decision on strongly held moral and religious beliefs.

Let's see, how does that first clause of the First Amendment to our Constitution go? "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." It would seem that the owners of the farm were simply exercising their religious freedom. And didn't the federal courts just support Hobby Lobby's freedom to do just that?

Global Destruction of Churches. Although the Chinese Communist government's hostility toward Christians has received a lot of press coverage lately, they aren't alone when it comes to the destruction of religious buildings, whether churches, synagogues or mosques. Perhaps most surprisingly Russia joins the Chinese as leaders in this category. Close behind are Tajikistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria, Central Afridan Republic, Kenya, India and Iraq. Unfortunately when it comes to religious freedom, the trends all seem to be heading in the wrong direction. As Christianity grows -- and it's definitely growing in Africa and Asia -- it is perceived as a threat not only by other religions, but also by statists and others who can't abide the worship of a higher power than man himself.

What is the one place in the Middle East where Christians are safe? An interesting question and one answered clearly by Eastern Orthodox priest, Fr. Gabriel Nadaf, who lives and ministers in Nazareth. Fr. Nadaf makes a powerful case that Christians in the Middle East are safest in Israel, "the only free country in the region." In every other nation in the region -- and I challenge any reader to offer convincing evidence to the contrary -- Christians are persecuted. Click on the link and read more about Fr. Nadaf.

Each of these stories points to a future in which any expression of religious faith, especially Christian faith, will be increasingly attacked and both socially and legally. Get ready to be marginalized, folks. 

A few years ago Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, speaking to group of priests, made the following prophetic comment:
“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
Given the direction the world and our nation are headed, I believe the cardinal is probably on target with his prediction. 

Pray for our nation. Pray for our world.

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