The idol of the age is us. We, having to worship something, worship ourselves. The idea of good and evil for each of us must come from somewhere.
It cannot come from evolution, for then each of us are mere automatons, and there is no good and evil, only false opinions that good and evil exist. It can come from God, as is obvious. But the ideas can also come from ourselves.
After all, who knows what is better for us than ourselves? I mean each of us alone. Our ideas are in this way divine. We see ourselves as the ultimate measure, even though we acknowledge a hierarchy among the gods. Not everyone of us sees himself as the epitome; we willingly bow to higher authority, though it is each of us who picks which authority to raise above our own deity.
Not uncoincidentally, this quote by Pope Francis surfaced again recently:
Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good… Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.
You might call this a kind of relativism, but a comparative one. “As a result, relativism coexists with limitless moralism.” We have moved from the true Biblical message that “all men are brothers and sisters and have one and the same father” to a preposterous and false radical egalitarianism, which asserts all are equal. No observation has ever borne this out, yet it is believed in a “fanatical” way.
This most destructive and leveling belief does follow from considering we are gods. For is we are all gods, and gods are divine, then we must be all equal, even though some of us are allowed to rise above or below the median from time to time, but only to support our own self-worship.
Mahoney in this thin volume explores this in a roundabout, and not too in-depth, way by giving us a review of what should be essential literature, like Orestes Brownson’s evolving work, Soloviev’s A Short Tale of the Antichrist, Solzhenitsyn’s The Red Wheel, and everything by Aurel Kolnai. An entire appendix is given over to Kolnai’s essay “The humanitarian versus the religious attitude.”
The book would be useful for those who have never read these authors and are seeking a short introduction.
He paints Solzhenitsyn accurately as alternative to Tolstoy, who embraced pacifism, which is anything but Christian. No Christian has the obligation to watch passively as his son is raped, for instance.
In the novel depicting the Russian Revolution, and perhaps a warning of things to come, Solzhenitsyn conveys the inebriation of crowds who are caught in a playful but deadly revolutionary carnival…[which] quickly turns violent—with looting, the freeing of violent criminals from prisons” and other murder and mayhem. “Once again, fashionable left-liberals see ‘no enemies to the Left'”, which is not unlike our times.
Mahoney is not in love with Pope Francis. He says the Pope’s “admirers, and the pope himself sometimes, confuse Christian charity with secular humanism. Francis’s ill-disciplined, off-the-cuff remarks are treated with utmost seriousness”. But Mahoney is still willing to interpret the bulk of Francis’s statements with charity. He does says that “Pope Francis is rather indulgent toward despotic regimes that speak in the name of the poor”. This, and other behavior, puts Francis solidly in the progressive camp.
With winks and nods, [Francis] challenges the age-old Catholic teaching that there are intrinsic evils that cannot be countenanced by a faithful Christian or any person of good will. In a thousand ways, he sows confusion in the Church and the world. His views on politics are summary, to say the least, and partake of the inordinate egalitarianism against which Cardinal Sarah properly warns. Pope Francis has displayed indulgence toward left-wing tyrannies that are viciously anti-Catholic to book…
More recently, he has openly flirted with pacifism.
Soloviev is given the role of teaching us the theory of an evil peace and good war. “Christianity must stand guard today, refusing to confuse itself with utopianism, sentimentality, humanitarianism, and a pacifism that ignores common sense (so precious to Soloviev) and distorts Christian conscience.” More about Soloviev (besides the link above) comes from our own Ianto Watt.
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Categories: Book review