“Take away the supernatural, and what remains is the unnatural.”
~ G.K. Chesterton, Heretics
When the Church, in any of its functions or iterations, attempts to be itself by itself, apart from the fundamental reality of the triune nature of God and the person of Jesus Christ, through whom and only whom we can know the one true God; and apart from the truth of his name and life-altering social ethic and unattainable moral teachings; and apart from his absolute and exclusive claim on power through the singular means of the Cross, it becomes the basest, most dangerous, fiercest instrument of the Devil. There is no other way to say it: When the Church serves as an arm of the State, whether as a political front or as its spiritual imprimatur, it becomes demonic.
This is what has happened to the Right Wing Evangelical Church in America. It has lost its way and has defected to the Other Side and serves at the behest of the Republican party and is co-opted by its means and aims and is subservient to it, as it must be in any formal relationship that the Church engages in with any political or social entity. It serves one ultimate purpose: to promote and indemnify the political entities it effectively represents (the Republican Party, the NRA, the Pro-Israel lobby, etc.) from any and all wrongdoing, even if the aims of such entities are inherently at cross-purposes.
This is what has happened to the Left Wing Liberal Church in America, too. It has lost its way and has defected to the Other Side and serves at the behest of the radical arm of the Democratic party and is co-opted by its means and aims and is subservient to it, as it must be. It serves the same purpose as its Evangelical counterpart: to promote and indemnify the political entities it effectively represents (the radicalized Left in all its forms) from any and all wrongdoing, even if the aims of such entities are inherently at cross-purposes.
Chesterton’s point is a deep one: the natural not only assumes but includes the supernatural; it is unnatural, in other words, to see nature (including human nature) as an isolated entity, separate from its Creator. Whenever we sever the connection between grace and nature, as Flannery O’Connor took great pains to point out, we lose both grace and nature and introduce, in their place, judgment and the sub-natural, or unnatural. We see this with social media and its propagation of virtual connections; we see it with our love of money, which confuses its function as a means and turns it into an end in itself; we see it with the pornography industry, which reduces the human being to a mechanical body (I include here what I refer to elsewhere as the “violence industry,” whether in the form of the military industrial complex, the pervasive promotion of violence in both the media and video games industries, and entities like the NRA, which promote the elevation of weapons over people); and in social movements like Transhumanism and other modern eugenics movement, both of which treat the human being like a factory of parts that can be combined, joined, severed, altered, and disregarded as one sees fit.
We live in increasingly dark and confusing times, and forces that appear to be in opposition to each other at the surface of things are actually allied at levels that escape most contemporary scrutiny. The Devil plays both sides against the middle, which is its preferred method of sewing distortion and destruction in any age. But its corollary is also true: forces that appear to be in concert with each other are actually, at their respective origins, profoundly contradictory to each other. The Devil always prefers a house divided and will work tirelessly to that end, another of its preferred methods of sewing distortion and destruction. And if today’s news is any indication, the Devil is enjoying a rare moment of unimpeded successes with both methods. There is a full-throttled mutiny on the truth, perpetuated by any number of political ideologies on both the Right and Left, and if you subscribe to any of them in toto, you have already succumbed. Put another way, if you identify with either the Republican or Democrat platforms as a whole, you have given up the fight and serve only to hasten our collective demise as a Republic.
I was moved by a passage I read recently from Karl Rahner, a German Jesuit priest and theologian, who speaks to the depths of the human condition and its fundamental connection to God, apart from which it cannot be fully understood; indeed, apart from which, it is less than itself; is sub-human, is lower than animals and which belongs in the company of demons. Rahner doesn’t say as much in this passage (as he does elsewhere), but the implications of this beautiful meditation are the same, which serves not only as a reminder to us but as a call, a summons, to not blindly accept the assumptions of modernity that, left to their own devices, will only hasten our individual and collective destruction:
What am I really saying, when I call You my God, the God of my life? That You are the meaning of my life? the goal of my wanderings? the consecration of my actions? the judgment of my sins? the bitterness of my bitter hours and my most secret joy? my strength, which turn my own strength into weakness: Creator, Sustainer, Pardoner, the One both far and near? Incomprehensible? … Are there any titles which I needn’t give You? And when I have listed them all, what have I said? If I should take my stand on the shore of Your Endlessness and shout into the trackless reaches of Your Being all the words I have ever learned in the poor prison of my little existence, what should I have said? I should never have spoken the last word about You… God of my life, Incomprehensible, be my life. God of my faith, who lead me into Your darkness—God of my love, who turns Your darkness into the sweet light of my life, be now the God of my hope, so that You will one day be the God of my life, the life of eternal love.
~ Encounters with Silence by Karl Rahner
On my way home from the store yesterday, I was listening to a mix of one of my favorite bands from the 70s and 80s, Supertramp. The lyrics to one of their songs, Fools Overture, spoke to the feelings I find myself wrestling with these days, a bizarre combination of feeling both overwhelmed and undernourished at the same time, and the song reminded me of the hope we believers have in the Truth that transcends all other contingent truths, in a Reality that underlies all finite realties, in a Person who defines personhood at its most fundamental depths; a sort of fool’s overture:
Called the man a fool, stripped him of his pride Oh, everyone was laughing up until the day he died Oh, though the wound went deep Still he's calling us out of our sleep My friends, we're not alone He waits in silence to lead us all home.
~ Fool’s Overture by Supertramp