Sunday, January 13, 2008

Intregity of Life and Love

The coming demographic winter of the West delineated by many is described in indicative tones of finality and bleakness. But the imperative question seems to remain unanswered: why is it happening and how can it be avoided? Allow me to make an uneducated guess.

The seemingly fatal disconnect seems to run down a tectonic fault line between what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls "the integrity of the powers of life and love" (No. 2338):
This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.
For all the talk, glee, ever-increasing, and seeming non-stop bombardment of sexual promiscuity and abortion-induced adolescence in popular culture, the Magisterium of the Church says our human integrity will not and cannot tolerate this rupture. The victims, besides individuals of both sexes, are the family and western culture. The vital connection between love and life is an ontological necessity, humanly reflecting the bond between Christ and His Church. Stray from it, and demographic desolation, famine, and suicide ensues.

The beneficiary of this withering of the fruitfulness of the human family in the West is Islam. Whatever one may think of its theology, intolerance, or gender inequality, Muslims have not forgotten the vital necessity of not letting go of the hand of the past generation nor the need to procreate another.

What has caused this malaise in the West, in my opinion, is the following: we have allowed the basest, most ignorant, and coarsest sources of false ontology and epistemology to define the terms of discourse, value, and commerce. We have heeded so many clammering and shrill voices unworthy of our hearing -- hawkers, hucksters, blowhards, and mandarins (if the spate of presidential candidate "debates" come to mind, so be it).

The result a poor trade: instead of epistemological and ontological certitude we have opinions and attitudes; instead of lives grounded in lifelong, committed marriage and family, we have indecisive paralysis passing for "freedom" and pan-sexual debasement passing for "fulfillment". A waste at the individual level and a tragedy at the cultural. It is only a short step to matter-hating latter-day Gnosticism, if a step at all.

The prodigal son found the shortest path out of the pig-sty and back to redemption was coming to himself and trudging back toward his father's farm [Lk 15,11-32]. If the West wants to pull itself up and out of the mud wallowing of sexual and psychological promiscuity, it must do the same thing. It is the only way out and away from demographic winter and total collapse of all that is still worth redeeming of western civilization.


David Nybakke said...

2338: The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity...

I had never really read nor connected these two terms, chastity and integrity, from this section of the CCC. Thank you for eluding to them, however I must ask why you avoided using the term chastity? Is it too much to unpack?

The term I struggle with in this section is "self-mastery," especially reading Raymund Schwager's "Banished from Eden" and Girard material in general.

Athos said...

I avoid the word because of all the baggage that travels with it in pop understanding. Even "self-mastery" has the same problem, in my opinion. The emphasis can too easily get carried off into discussions regarding disordered and malingering sexual expression, on the one hand, or an unhelpful (in my mind) discussion of willpower, cold showers, and "custody of the eyes" (a good idea in itself, by the way).

Instead, I wanted the emphasis to be on the integrity of the ineffable BOND between love (with everything it connotes, beautifully and faithfully, and even by pop culture) and life -- the utter necessity to create human life, nourish it in a stable, loving, faithful family, and train it in the faith of the Church.

Love AND life -- never one without the other -- is the integrity of Natural Law and the revelation of the deposit of faith vouchsafed by the Church and her Magisterium.

It is passing strange that it has to be spelled out so prosaically and poorly, when it was simply assumed and done so well for generations and generations.

Oh, it wasn't? By comparison and contrast with today, if birthrates, marriage stats, and violent deaths per/century, it was. But let us not despair.

David Nybakke said...

I generally agree with your concerns about baggage, but I am feeling more and more that we need to lengthen the conversations out and deal with the baggage. Unfortunately no one cares to do that. Problems is that society is stealing all of our good words and making them useless, full of baggage and therefore making them meaningless. Bummer! As we abandon important key words right out of the CCC, pretty soon the only words useable will be from Islam.

David Nybakke said...

Strengthening the family with "the integrity of the ineffable BOND between love (with everything it connotes, beautifully and faithfully, and even by pop culture) and life -- the utter necessity to create human life, nourish it in a stable, loving, faithful family, and train it in the faith of the Church."

We have posted numerous posts on dads. Have you ever run across sites like these?

National Center for Fathering"


National Fatherhood Initiative

and then there is

America's Promise Alliance where you can view a video from each of the major candidates regarding their stance on the Five Promises spelled out by APA.

Athos said...

The websites seem quite interesting, Aramis, truly. I think, poorly probably, that what I am trying to address is a malaise that I think Chesterton was noticing in the quotation here.

There is a preponderance of op/ed writers, bloggers, correspondents, et al who are very good at describing the outlines of the West's malaise (as well as the procreative strength of Muslims), but where and how and when shall we gain the confidence ('with - faith') to become the beloved sons and daughters of God that we already are?

I don't think joining or donating to an organization will do it, no matter how worthy. But I DO believe that our conversions -- the 4M's -- is an absolutely correct step in the right direction.

We must not succumb to despair, the bane of Denethor in Lord of the Rings, who looked into his "palantir" (read: surfed the web) and was led to think evil's victory was a done-deal. We must march "merrily in the dark," love our families, serve Our Lord and His Church, and bring His light in the darkened world.

That's a pretty good mission statement for the 4M's, don't you think? Cheers