Dealing with Evil

08-08-2021Weekly Reflection

In the Divine Office, also called the Liturgy of the Hours, there was a reading from an early document of the Faith called the Letter of Barnabas. Chapter 2 says the following: Since, therefore, the days are evil, and Satan possesses the power of this world, we ought to give heed to ourselves, and diligently inquire into the ordinances of the Lord. Fear and patience, then, are helpers of our faith; and long-suffering and continence are things which fight on our side. While these remain pure in what respects the Lord, Wisdom, Understanding, Science, and Knowledge rejoice along with them.

Soft Totalitarianism

The French magazine La Nef recently interviewed two individuals one from Canada and one from the U.S. on “soft totalitarianism.” Here are some bullet-points from Dreher about the American situation:

  • A totalitarian order is an order in which there is only one acceptable political point of view, an order in which all of life is politicized. This order is conquering the institutions of life in the Anglosphere with astonishing speed. What is soft today will become hard.
  • Solzhenitsyn said that communism conquered Russia because "men have forgotten God". Michel Houellebecq is a great diagnostician of the fatal malaise of the West. When the transcendent dimension of life has been forgotten, or denied, people try to fill the void of God within themselves through sex, shopping, and hedonism. And when that doesn't work, they turn to political pseudo-religion….
  • Eminent American sociologist James Davison Hunter argues that nearly all cultural revolutions begin with the elites, who disseminate their ideas through their networks and then to the masses. In the United States, this highly ideological way of thinking first won over the elites in the universities. But when these ideas hit the media, the propaganda never stopped.
  • Today, what is called "woke capitalism" is perhaps the most effective force in American society that drives these progressive follies. At the heart of the problem is that its followers now control all points of entry to the middle class and career success. This is now the ideology of those who want to succeed professionally, and of the young generation heavily indoctrinated by social media.
  • My experience in speaking with Christian dissidents in the Soviet bloc has made me realize that, in addition to strong faith, the two things absolutely necessary to resist oppression are solidarity with others and consent to suffering.
  • I believe things will become clearer with the under 40 year olds. They are much more anxious than previous generations. Many of them will willingly give up their political freedoms in exchange for a guarantee of personal enjoyment and security. They will not only accept soft totalitarianism, but demand it. A professor told me that he had stopped teaching Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World (1932) because none of his students recognized it was a dystopia; they all thought it looked like paradise.

In the news recently was the headline that the Associated Press and Reuters, two media-giants were teaming up with the tech-giant Twitter to patrol speech and remove what they decide is “misinformation.” Twitter has long abandoned the pretence that it is a neutral platform and instead is actively engaged in censoring speech they don’t like. These are not only evil times but dangerous times. Whittaker Chambers, the former communist, in the 50’s felt America was losing to communism at a time when America was the supreme in military power and influence in the world. He sensed the spiritual rot in the soul of the country and this rot has severely weakened the country in facing the enormous threat of the communist regime of China seeking world domination. This rot is poisoning all the major institutions of the country. We must continually pray to the Immaculate Conception the patroness of our country to defeat the communists and for spiritual and moral renewal in our country.

The Meaning of Left and Right

The terms “left wing” and “right wing” are often bandied about and used even in commentary about the Church. Where do these terms come from? Speaking about right and left in today’s world is interpreted to be about political speech and ideology. The family tree of those terms in the political world stem from the French Revolution. The terms "left" and "right" appeared during the French Revolution of 1789 when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the President's right and supporters of the revolution to his left. One deputy, the Baron de Gauville explained, "We began to recognize each other: those who were loyal to religion and the king took up positions to the right of the chair so as to avoid the shouts, oaths, and indecencies that enjoyed free rein in the opposing camp." However the Right opposed the seating arrangement because they believed that deputies should support private or general interests but should not form factions or political parties. The press at that time occasionally used the terms "left" and "right" to refer to the opposing sides.[When the National Assembly was replaced in 1791 by a Legislative Assembly composed of entirely new members, the divisions continued. "innovators" sat on the left, "moderates" gathered in the centre, while the "conscientious defenders of the constitution" found themselves sitting on the right.

When the succeeding National Convention met in 1792, the seating arrangement continued, but following the coup d'état of June 2, 1793, the right side of the assembly was deserted, and any remaining members who had sat there moved to the centre. However following the Thermidorian Reaction of 1794 the members of the far left were excluded and the method of seating was abolished. The new constitution included rules for the assembly that would "break up the party groups."Following the Restoration in 1814-1815 political clubs were again formed. The majority ultraroyalists chose to sit on the right. The "constitutionals" sat in the centre while independents sat on the left. The terms extreme right and extreme left, as well as centre-right and centre-left, came to be used to describe the nuances of ideology of different sections of the assembly. The right mostly denied that the left–right spectrum was meaningful because they saw it as artificial and damaging to unity. The left, however, seeking to change society, promoted the distinction.

An Older and Biblical Meaning of Right and Left Stems from Our Lord

In Matthew 25 those on the right were blessed by the Father and worthy of Heaven (the sheep) while those on the left were regarded as cursed (the goats) and deserving of Hell. The sitting on the right was the place of the Messiah: The Lord said to my Lord sit on my right while I make your enemies your footstool Psalm 110:1. This receives special significance in the Creed when the Church professes Jesus sitting at the right hand of God the Father. St. Stephen sees Jesus in Heaven standing at the right hand of God.

This biblical meaning also enters the liturgy. In the Dies Irae, an ancient Sequence once used at all funerals and now at the end of the Church-year, there is a petition is to be separated from the goats the left side and to placed with the sheep on the right side. In the Church’s prayer-book the Liturgy of the Hours there is a hymn in the Church’s morning prayers which speaks about being snatched away from leftward walking. Ancient liturgical gestures have the priest putting on the alb first with the right sleeve and then going up to the altar beginning first with a right step. Biblically and liturgically speaking the Christian wants to be rightward which takes in his or her penance that is turning to God rightward, following the Good Shepherd, and away from the left of sin moving towards the Evil One.