Rest in Peace Charlie Gard

Little Charlie Gard passed away last week.  He died in the hospital because his parents were not permitted to take him home to die in the peace of home.

What kind of evil is it that claims to be magnanimously keeping an individual’s best interests at the heart of its decisions, but won’t let that person be cared for by the people who love him most in all the world — his parents?  Won’t let that person seek alternative care elsewhere, even when it has been offered by more than one hospital and doctor, and generous strangers have donated over million dollars for his care?  Won’t let that child and his parents have the comfort of having clergy visit and pray with them?  Won’t let him, in the end, die at home?  All this in the name of doing what is good and right for that person.  We know best… your wishes, your family’s wishes, are irrelevant… we are the ones with power… you will submit…

Jenny Uebbing had this to say about Charlie and what happened to him and his family (a good summary of which can be found here):

But, but, he was going to die anyway. Extraordinary means! The Catechism says! Etc. Etc. Etc.

True. All true. And yet, his parents wanted to pursue further treatment. His mother and his father, the two human beings who, entrusted by the God with whom they co-created an immortal soul, were tasked with the immense, universe-altering task of making decisions on his behalf.

It’s called parenting.

And when the state steps over the bounds of parental interests – nay, tramples upon them – insisting that government knows best what is best for it’s citizens, (particularly when government is footing the medical bills as is the case with the socialized NHS) then we should all of us, no matter our religions or our socioeconomic statuses or our nationalities, be alarmed.

Charlie Gard was a victim of the the most heinous sort of public power struggle: a child whose humanity was reduced to a legal case and an avalanche of global publicity. And no man, not the President of the United States or the Pope himself, could do a thing to turn the tide in little Charlie’s favor once the momentum was surging against him.

The British courts and the Great Ormond Street Hospital, convinced of their own magnanimity and virtue, ruled again and again against the wishes of Charlie’s parents, frustrating at every turn their attempts to seek a second option, to try experimental treatments, to spend privately-raised funds to secure care for their child not available in their home country.

To no avail.

Charlie Gard, baptized earlier this week into the Catholic Church, went home to be with Jesus today. His innocent soul in a state of grace, we can be confident of his intimate proximity now to the sacred heart of Jesus and to the sorrowful heart of Mary. May his parents feel the comfort of knowing that they fought the good fight, and that they brought their child to the font of eternal life by baptizing him into Christ’s Church and surrendering him into heaven’s embrace as he passed from this life.

And may they find, through the powerful intercession of their little son, now whole and free from suffering, the grace to forgive his tormentors and executioners here on earth.

Charlie Gard, pray for us.

Antifa picks another target

Antifa, perhaps bored by their usual targets or just lacking something to do, has added a Catholic men’s conference to their list of “hate groups” deserving of being shut down. Since they have no grasp on what truth means, they have no problem spinning a theological conference designed to help men become better husbands and fathers into a woman-hating, white supremacist organization.  If the facts don’t fit your narrative, just ignore the facts!

Church Militant, the organizer of the conference, addressed the Antifa threat in a a press release:

FERNDALE, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) – Church Militant, a 12-year-old Catholic media apostolate, with headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, is coming under attack by Antifa-related protestors claiming the religious organization inspires a “culture of rape” and is “white supremacist.”

The group Michigan Peoples Defense Network (MPDN) is planning a demonstration at Church Militant’s third annual Strength and Honor Conference, to be held in Sterling Heights, Michigan on Saturday, August 5. The conference is entirely theological in nature, offering talks on the essential role of sacrificial masculinity required of Catholic men to be good husbands and fathers. MPDN’s aim is to shut down the event.

In a further effort to intimidate, MPDN is holding a press conference on the sidewalk in front Church Militant studios Friday, July 28, right by the front door, announcing the August 5 protest.

The claims by MPDN are completely false and unfounded. The claim that Church Militant is a promoter of white male supremacy is immediately contradicted by the following facts:

  • Church Militant has legal immigrants (including first-generation immigrants) employed in key roles.
  • Half the organization’s departments are headed by women (one who is a legal immigrant)

Additionally, the claim that the conference is about “men’s rights” is a deliberate distortion. The conference is about men’s obligations, not “rights.”

Church Militant absolutely condemns and abhors the lies and violence that have become the hallmark of the Antifa movement, which MPDN members associate with on social media. Church Militant is not a hate group; MPDN is the real hate group, trying to intimidate religious organizations into silence and shut down a conference meant to help men become better husbands, fathers, sons and brothers by fostering the virtues of humility, charity and sacrifice.

Church Militant is further disturbed by the group’s thinly veiled threats of physical violence present in the language of their site and Facebook page. This kind of discourse cannot be allowed to stand in a civilized nation.

Church Militant is open to discussion with anyone, and have indeed made this a hallmark of the work conducted here for a dozen years, but we will not be cowed by lies and thug tactics becoming so commonplace on the Left.

Let’s hope an organization called Church Militant won’t be cowed and won’t let their conference be shut down.

Proving yet again that facts do not matter to Antifa, look who one of the organizers of the men’s conference is:

Christine Niles, a Vietnamese immigrant who helps run… [Church Militant] expected to spend this week preparing theological materials and getting ready for the group’s annual conference for men.

Instead, Niles, who is editor-in-chief of Church Militant, has been in consultations with local law enforcement after learning that a left-wing group is drumming up support to shut down the conference, which will take place on Aug. 4-6 at locations in Ferndale and Sterling Heights, Mich…

The theological conference causing controversy, titled “Strength and Honor,” is billed as “offering talks on the essential role of sacrificial masculinity of Catholic men to be good husbands and fathers” and to equip attendees with tools to “gain the spiritual and mental tools to be strong leaders among the faithful.”

Did you catch that?  A Vietnamese immigrant woman is the editor-in-chief of Church Militant and one of the main organizers of the men’s conference with the goal of focusing on sacrificial masculinity and teaching men to be good husbands and fathers.

To Antifa, this equals a hate group that “promotes a hateful, anti-woman message,” a “culture of rape,” and is “white supremacist.”  In a Facebook post about the planned demonstrations against Church Militant, they added this:

“Many of the church’s points are lifted from or are identical to ‘men’s rights’ discourse, which focuses on reducing women’s agency and reproductive rights… The community will picket and protest to shut down the hateful messages spread at this conference… The church also peddles racist, anti-Muslim rhetoric, painting Muslim migrants and refugees as sexual predators… As the radical Christian right rises in America, having supported Donald Trump’s campaign of hatred against the most marginalized, it is more vital than ever that the community stands against hate draped in a cross.”

What strikes me most about this statement is the ignorance.  Many of the church’s points are lifted from… the men’s rights movement?  That is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard… aside from ignoring all the facts right in front of their faces that contradict every statement they make.

Ms. Niles responded in a statement on behalf of Church Militant:

“The real bone of contention that MPDN has with Church Militant is not the spurious claims and lies it’s telling, but the positions we take on morality and decency… Church Militant is not a hate group; MPDN is the real hate group, trying to intimidate religious organizations into silence and shut down a conference meant to help men by fostering the virtues of humility, charity and sacrifice.”

If a religious group hosting a conference to promote the virtues of humility, charity, and sacrifice can become a target of Antifa, no one with conservative and/or Christian positions is safe.

And they say there’s no war going on against Christians and conservatives…

 

Courts create “a duty to die” for those deemed not worth saving

Wesley J. Smith writes about the difficult and heart-breaking Charlie Gard case and the potential ramifications of the UK court’s decisions.  The precedent being set in this case (and similar cases discussed by Smith, including ones in the USA) is chilling regardless of whether you think you’d make the same decisions as Charlie Gard’s parents.  Read the entire article at First Things.

… the parents of “Baby Terry”—also born after twenty-three weeks gestation—faced a similar ordeal. The ethics committee at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan weighed in on August 9, 1993, opining that to honor the parents’ desire to continue Baby Terry’s treatment “would be contrary to medical judgment and to moral and ethical beliefs of physicians caring for the patient” (my emphasis). In other words, when it came to choosing between the values of the parents—based in large part on their religious faith—and the values of doctors and hospital bioethicists, the state argued that only the latter matters.

On that basis alone, a judge found Terry’s parents unfit to make health-care decisions for Terry and stripped them of their parental rights. He awarded temporary custody to the maternal great-aunt, who had previously stated her willingness to obey the doctors. Before that could happen, the infant died in his mother’s arms, aged two-and-a-half months…

… Charlie’s, and many other similar cases I could recite, involving profoundly ill people of all ages, are examples of what is known in the bioethics trade as “futile care” or “medical futility”—or, as I call it, futile-care theory. FCT authorizes doctors to refuse or withdraw wanted life-sustaining medical treatment over the objections of family and patients when the doctors and/or a bioethics committee believe that the patient’s quality of life makes that life not worth living—or, lurking in the subtext, not worth the resources required to sustain it.

A couple of important points need to be made: We are not talking about an intervention without a potential physiological benefit to the patient—a medical determination. Rather, FCT constitutes a value judgment. As bioethicist Dr. Stuart Youngner once put it, “futility determinations will inevitably involve value judgments about: 1) whether low probability chances are worth taking; and 2) whether certain lives are of a quality worth living.”

Worse, FCT empowers strangers to make medicine’s most important and intimate health-care decisionsDeciding whether to accept or reject life-sustaining care is one of the most difficult medical choices. Under FCT, a patient’s decision—whether it be the desire of an infant patient’s guardians or written in an adult patient’s advance directive—matters less than institutional and professional opinions.

Given all that, Charlie Gard’s heartbreaking situation is not surprising. However, until Charlie’s case, the patient or family has always had the option of finding alternative care. The hospital refusing Ryan’s dialysis did not seek to prevent his transfer. Neither did the hospital in the Baby Joseph controversy.

This is where Charlie Gard’s case is breaking new and even more authoritarian ground. Not only are doctors and judges forcing Charlie off life-support; they are also declaring that their ethics rule over Charlie’s life, even if the parents—Chris and Connie Gard—find alternative care. As far as I know, this is unprecedented in futile-care controversies.

Chris and Connie have raised more than $1 million through crowdfunding to pay for Charlie to be flown to the United States for an experimental treatment that has shown some potential in other mitochondrial conditions. If that course proves impossible, they just want to take their baby home so he can die there instead of in a pediatric ICU. But the hospital administration refuses to permit Charlie to be discharged! And the courts have agreed, based on a determination of what doctors and lawyers believe to be Charlie’s “best interests.”

The only silver lining in this tragedy is that a very sick baby’s life still has the power to move hearts. Not only have Chris and Connie received tremendous popular support internationally, but they are also being backed by two of the most visible leaders in the world: Pope Francis and Donald Trump.

The refusal to allow Charlie’s parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors’ choosing. And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents’? Or are sick babies—and others facing futile-care impositions—ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?

The UK medical center fought in court to disallow the parents to take Charlie elsewhere for care when at one point he was offered care in the USA, and Congress offered them citizenship to do so, AND they raised $1.5 million for his care.  The UK medical establishment and courts wouldn’t even let the parents take Charlie home to die in the peace of his home if death were going to be the only option allowed to him. In these difficult cases, it can be very hard to know what is the right thing to do.  BUT having the medical center and court overrule the family’s (or individual’s) choices and force someone to die?  And die in the hospital too?  It is sickening.  And terrifying.

Are Christians the Real Enemies?

Well of course they are according to liberals!

I ran across an interesting article in The Catholic Thing that objects to a particular premise put forth by Vatican journalists: liberalism run a muck isn’t what’s so dangerous; it’s those darn conservative Christians in America and the fact that Catholics and Evangelicals seem to be forming an alliance.  Way to go finding the real enemies of freedom and human rights.

Are Americans from Mars?

Percival Lowell was a member of the distinguished Boston Lowell family, graduate of Harvard, founder of the Lowell Observatory, the most prominent American astronomer – some say – until Carl Sagan. He also believed, on the basis of what he thought careful scientific observation, that there were canals on Mars, and wrote several books about what might have driven Martians to such a vast undertaking.

Unfortunately, his “observations” were an optical illusion (as several scientists already knew in Lowell’s day). Recent Mars probes have discovered no signs of the civilization Lowell thought once existed there.

Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, and Marcelo Figueroa, a Presbyterian hand-picked by Pope Francis to be editor on the Argentinian edition of L’Osservatore Romano, have recently made quite controversial observations about America in “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism.”

They are, with good reason, destined to suffer the fate of poor Percival Lowell.

***

In dozens of other instances, they draw lines among widely disparate facts with even less justification than the old believers in Martian canals.

Their main fear is that the collaboration of Catholics and Evangelicals in fighting the culture war is really a bid to create a theocracy in America. You usually hear a charge like that from Planned Parenthood or gay-rights groups or fringe academics. Not from the Vatican.

Further, the authors opine, the participants in this “surprising ecumenism” indulge in a “Manichean” view of Good vs. Evil that sees America as the Promised Land and her enemies as enemies of God whom it’s only right to destroy, literally, with our armed forces.

Taking this as the heart of the Evangelical-Catholic alliance is so delusional that a Catholic must feel embarrassed that a journal supposedly reviewed and authorized by the Vatican would run such slanderous nonsense. The authors would have done better to get out and see some of America rather than, it seems, spending so much time with left-wing sociologists of religion.

There is something like an emerging theocracy in the United States, with a Manichean vision. But it’s the theocracy of sexual absolutism that cannot tolerate pluralism or dissent. The Little Sisters of the Poor, Hobby Lobby, evangelical bakers, anyone who stands up to the contraception-abortion-“gay-marriage” (and now) “transgender” juggernaut risks legal jeopardy and accusations of being a “hate group.” (Spadaro and Figueroa echo this claim, saying the Evangelical-Catholic alliance represents a xenophobic, Islamophobic, purist vision that is really an “ecumenism of hate.”)

Fighting the sexual theocracy is imperative, for believers and non-believers alike who care about liberty and the common good in a pluralist society. The courts have – so far – found for defenders of religious liberty, largely Catholics and Evangelicals. But that such cases even have to be brought tells us who is really trying to impose a kind of totalitarianism on America. Most traditional Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, and others would be happy, at this point, to be just left alone.

All this is invisible to Spadaro and Figueroa, or is dismissed as a cover for something sinister. They know not the heart of American Evangelicalism, which is generally closer to the thoughtfulness of a Russell Moore than to blind Fundamentalism (which is why we use two different terms for the two groupings). Their labeling American Catholic conservatives as “integralists” is another slander and a sloppy misapplication of a term from one period of European history to something else entirely. They could easily have learned this.

The authors claim that Pope Francis has outlined an alternative to “militant” Christianity. But their obsession with “dialogue” over these matters is a plausible strategy only to people who have never had to confront the sharp edge of the culture war. And believe they can go on avoiding it forever. They can’t.

Pope Francis added to the international controversy last week. If his frequent dialogue partner, Eugenio Scalfari – editor of the socialist La Reppublica – is to be believed (personally, I find about 25 percent of what he “reports” vaguely credible), Francis spoke just before the G-20 meeting in Hamburg of the “distorted vision of the world” of America and Russia, China and North Korea, Russia and Syria, especially on immigration matters.

The pope’s including us among such malefactors agitated many Americans. If he meant that he disagrees with President Trump, perhaps he should have said as much.

He went on to say, in Scalfari’s perhaps garbled telling, that a “federated Europe” is necessary or Europe will count for nothing in the world. This is curious for several reasons. In other contexts, the pope seems to have given up on Europe – and expects renewal from the “peripheries.” Further, the European Union is already “federated,” perhaps too much so.

I was at a conference in Portugal two weeks ago where repeated German calls for “ever closer ties” among European nations worried everyone except the Germans themselves. It’s a commonplace in such meetings to lament the EU’s lack of political accountability and arrogance – and Germany’s looming financial power.

In the last analysis, Europe counts for little, because it is in demographic collapse, is spiritually and culturally adrift, doesn’t have the means to defend itself, and seems to think its only reason for being is to be “open” to other cultures.

America has multiple grave problems, but still enjoys active religious engagement in the public square, is groping towards political and cultural renewal, and – not incidentally – still accepts over 1,000,000 legal immigrants every year.

Perhaps it would be worth noting such things, sometime, in Rome.

“Fighting the sexual theocracy is imperative, for believers and non-believers alike who care about liberty and the common good in a pluralist society.”  Exactly. (Although, some argue that a pluralistic society is doomed at this point…)

This author understands why some interesting alliances are being formed here in the States.  Yes, between Catholics and Protestants, but also between these Christians and the atheist “skeptic community.”  This is a good explanation why many conservatives support people like Milo Yiannopoulos despite the fact that his lifestyle is considered very sinful and and much of his presentation style is pretty much the antithesis of polite Christian discourse.  He may be a grave sinner, but he’s fighting our fight.  Strange times call for strange alliances.

Catholics and Protestants can’t afford to fight each other right now.  When we aren’t under attack by the regressive left, Islamic invasion (er… immigration) and jihad, and the overall pressure of cultures that cannot coexist with ours trying to live in our lands, then we can debate doctrinal differences.

Self-fulfillment vs. Self-perfection?

Image result for self-perfection

This statement will seem foreign to modern ears in a time when the idea of cultivating virtue or building character is unheard of: knowing who you are is less important than knowing who you should be.  

Since the word should has been practically stricken from our language as hate-speech, people are left drifting, trying to find out who they are and to find meaning in their lives. But if there isn’t any ideal to aspire to, why does it matter anyway?  Many people don’t bother with “who am I?” and skip right to “what do I want?”

If self-fulfillment and the pursuit of pleasure are the only goals worth pursuing in modern culture, you can see where the entitlement epidemic comes from and why people are so upset when life is hard and they do not get what they want.  From the reactions of politicians and mainstream media to the 2016 election, it’s evident they expected to get what they wanted and were shocked they didn’t.

If everyone expects to get what they want and if pleasure is our god, it makes sense that suffering is considered the great enemy.  Of course, you must do all possible to avoid suffering in your own life. If you want to feel virtuous (in the absence of practicing any real virtue), then you only have to champion some cause that claims to eradicate the suffering of others (this can consist of posting on social media, or if you’re feeling energetic, protesting, looting, and destroying private property to make your voice heard).

Even people who reject the entitlement mentality when it comes to thinking you should get something for nothing, that you should live a charmed life without having to work for it, fall for it in another form, one that says “if you work hard, then you are entitled to an easy life, to succeed and prosper, and not have bad things happen to you.”  It’s a prosperity gospel that can be religious or thoroughly materialistic and divorced from religion.  A capitalistic, free-market gospel of work ethic and the American dream: work hard and you will be rewarded with a good life, lots of material things and success.  When you work hard and fail to get ahead, it can be depressing, and if you believe you were entitled to succeed, it can fill you with anger and resentment.

Something many people fail to realize, despite the oft repeated “life isn’t fair,” is that it’s true.  Life just is hard.  If you’ve been taught that it shouldn’t be that way and you expect it not to be that way, you are in for a terrible disappointment.  Sometimes anger is described as a strong desire for something mixed with grief or disappointment: in other words, you didn’t get what you really wanted.  Is all the anger in the world, all the protesters throwing fits and setting things on fire, just an adult-sized toddler’s tantrum that life is harder than expected and they didn’t get want they wanted?  Still wanting to somehow feel good about themselves some claim their temper tantrums are about trying to right wrongs, fight injustice, and change the world.

In a fallen world, bad things will continue to happen, even to good people.  We can, and should, help our neighbors where we can to ease their burdens, and hopefully, they will do the same for us.  This is part of what community is supposed to do for us and part of why it’s near absence in the modern world is so bad for people.  If a suffering or burden shared is halved and a joy shared is doubled, you can see why lacking community makes us more unhappy on whole.  The current push to consider the world your “community” and everyone in it your “neighbor” isn’t possible for human beings.  We aren’t built to care about people we don’t know, can’t ever know; compassion needs to be human-sized. A single person cannot feel for 7 billion people.

We cannot hope to eradicate suffering from existence, either our own or the world’s. If we make human suffering the great enemy we must defeat, we will fail and only unleash injustice and more human suffering in our pursuit of this goal.  We make life’s hardships harder by failing to accept them as a normal part of reality, and by internally rebelling against them as unfair, unjust, and undeserved (which they may be, but does that matter?), we only create more self-inflicted pain and suffer more than we would otherwise.   The pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of suffering is the root of, ironically, so much suffering and unhappiness in the modern world.

Our world, our lives, will never be perfect.  The best we can hope for is to strive for self-improvement (if not perfection), but that needs an objective goal to strive towards. Without something like Christian moral standards, what goal can we have?  If we do know who we should be, the next thing to do is to treat well our families, friends, and our actual neighbors, to share their burdens and joys, to create community where we can. Unfortunately, suffering is and will always be a part of human experience, but if everyone would strive for goodness and be kind to their neighbors, the world would take care of itself.

 

Nice Guys Finish Too

The Nice Guy Syndrome:

Recently, a well-known liberal political commentator died. Eulogies poured in from his friends and colleagues, praising him as a man with a kind word for everyone, with a ready smile, and with a generous heart. He was a nice man, they said. This is no doubt true, and one does pray for his immortal soul.

But there, precisely, is the rub: he was subject to divine judgment. This “nice guy” had strongly supported the usual panoply of secular causes, even, at one point, mocking Catholics Rick and Karen Santorum for their expression of grief after the death of their baby. To the extent that the late pundit had had influence, he used it to promote an agenda that arrogantly rejects the Gospel.

Baseball manager Leo “The Lip” Durocher famously said: “Nice guys finish last.” That may or may not be accurate, but we do know that everyone, nice or not, “finishes.” We all have an expiration date. We are wise, therefore, in celebrating the counsels and consolations of those whose examples lead us along the right paths.

That the deceased political pundit – and we – will face judgment (Heb 9:27) is nowhere to be seen or heard in the encomiums offered about him. Although we can understand the wisdom of De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (“Don’t speak ill of the dead”), we must also refrain from praising and honoring those whose lives and legacies repudiate what is objectively morally true.

Here, also, is the kernel of the argument against Catholic colleges’ giving honorary degrees to men and women who, by word and deed, lead or prompt us into what is evil. (cf. Eph 4:17)
Nice guys are sincere, we hear. Nice guys are tolerant, we are told. Nice guys are “authentic,” as a confused Jean-Paul Sartre put it. That there can be sincere rapists, tolerant drug dealers, or authentic terrorists; that abortionists can be pleasant people; that those planning a political paradise marked by eugenics and euthanasia can simultaneously be loving grandparents – all these things testify to what Hannah Arendt famously called the “banality of evil.”
Nice guys – with the occasional exception of “nice” political pundits whose fingers are in the air, monitoring the wind direction of the day, eager to join in the platitudes of the chorus – refrain from self-promotion and just want to get along. Nice guys, usually, are plain and simple men.

In Robert Bolt’s play about Saint Thomas More, however, Bolt puts these words into the saint’s mouth as his jailer goes about his peremptory tasks, ignorant of a higher duty, and demanding pity because he is only a “plain, simple man”: “Oh, Sweet Jesus! These plain, simple men!”

Nice guys – “these plain, simple men” – thus have done, and can do, great evil because of apathy, because of unwillingness to seek the truth and then to do it. Truth obliges. Knowing the truth requires us to act in that truth – to “do” the truth. (James 1:22, CCC 898) If being a “nice guy” means that we must be wishy-washy or apathetic about knowing and serving truth, then we must be as disagreeable, as dyspeptic, as possible.

Plain, simple men rarely bother themselves about pursuit of truth, but “believers do not surrender. They can continue on their way to the truth,” wrote St. John Paul, “because they are certain that God has created them “explorers” (cf. Eccl 1:13), whose mission it is to leave no stone unturned, though the temptation to doubt is always there.

Leaning on God, they continue to reach out, always and everywhere, for all that is beautiful, true and good.” (Fides et Ratio, 21) “There exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that,” the saint wrote, “to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known.” (Veritatis Splendor, 34)

The notion that there is no truth or that, if truth were to exist, it would be unknowable, compels the kind of moral relativism which is so much cherished by nice guys who run from the duty to admonish the sinner. (Luke 17:3).

Smiling nice guys are legion: we find them in parliaments and in pulpits, in chancelleries and in colleges, in the public square and in religious synods.

But if I do not trouble myself about the truth – about its certainty in Christ – then I need not concern myself about doing the truth, about testifying to that truth by what I say and do, and thus risk alienating those very people who see me as a “nice guy.”

The Vatican II “Declaration on Religious Liberty” asserts that “It is in accordance with their dignity as persons – that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility – that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.”

Such adherence to truth may mean that the world may hate us (Mt 10:22) and, horribile dictu, not mark us as “nice guys.” As usual, though, Chesterton had it exactly right in his observation that Christians are not hated enough by the world. Too often, we are “nice guys.”

America’s Most Popular Feel-Good Heresy

A good description of what is often preached in today’s parishes and why this has lead to bad things:

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. What is it?

It is the message preached from so very many pulpits. It is the theological underpinning of universalism. It operates on five beliefs:

1) There is a God who created and ordered the earth and watches over human life on earth.

Okay, we can agree that God exists and created the earth. We believe He watches over us. This jives with our faith.

2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.

Hear that? That would be the train coming off the rails, sliding down an embankment into a dry creek bed, and exploding!

First off, nowhere in the Christian Scriptures are we told to be nice. We are told be to be humble, merciful, compassionate, bold, courageous, holy, strong, loving, and whole host of other things. But never merely nice. And let’s be honest, nice is a really low bar.

MTD is a plea to be inoffensive. It is why all religions can be the same. The goal isn’t holiness, it’s being nice. It is believing in nothing so strongly that one triggers no one. It is theological milquetoast.

Our Catholic faith calls for us to be virtuous, strong, courageous, and so willing to love as God loves that we will lay down our lives, embrace sacrifice and suffering, and be heroic. Our Catholic faith produces knights and ladies, not snowflakes and SJWs.

3) The central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself.

Hello, Narcissus! Life is about me being happy, huh?

It is enslavement to the self. It is a life where one pushes oneself not for the good of others, but to suit one’s own goals. Seriously? It is isn’t like there isn’t a long, terrible, and destructive track record that this sentiment produces. MTD requires no nobility of soul, no heroism of character, no selflessness.

It isn’t that Catholicism wants you to feel bad about yourself. This is a common retort from the MTD types. Catholicism does expect you to grow in virtue and wisdom. The Soul is like the body and mind: left unchallenged, it goes into atrophy.

The actual goal is to grow closer to Christ. Sometimes that will be happy, sometimes it will be a dark night of the soul. If I judge the worth of something by how it feels, I am operating on the cognizant level of a toddler. Sin has no place here. Sin is what other people do. Sin effects me, but my choices effect no one else. want a good idea why we are such an unhappy society? The sentiment that life is about being happy and feeling good is and always will be a dead end street.

4) God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.

Ah yes, God the butler, God the servant, God the sugar daddy, God the EMT. Nothing says mature relationship like only wanting a person around when it is convenient.

“This God is great! Just stay away until I need you to give me something or when I need someone to blame for tragedy or the consequences of my own bad decisions.” I mean, what divine being wouldn’t want a perpetual user living in His home for all eternity?

In Catholicism, though, we look to have a functioning and loving relationship with God. If we were to treat a spouse like we do God in MTD, we would be setting land speed records to divorce court. Love is about total self gift not about be total receiver.

5) All good people go to heaven.

Conveniently enough, I get to be the arbiter of what constitutes good, and by golly I will stroll right through those pearly gates. Heaven is the ultimate participation trophy!

So, what has MTD gotten us? First, it has driven men away from the Church. Men have a deep desire to be courageous and strong. I am not saying women don’t. However, men look for virtue and strength. They may not always articulate it, but they want to be challenged. It is bad enough that when they see themselves portrayed in the popular culture as dolts, cavemen, criminals, animals, and thugs. It is bad enough that the society only approves of the emasculated and effeminate as role models for men. When they hear that from their churches, you can bet they will head for the exits and encourage their sons to do the same.

MTD has downgraded the idea of selfless service. If the focus is on me, then service is reduced to being important only if it makes me feel good. That will kill service in the community and church. It will gut vocations. It will shred the idea of getting married. It will change the attitude of having children. MTD has reduced parishes from families to businesses selling goods and services at bargain basement prices. It has nurtured a society of the entitled where too much free stuff is never enough.