I write this remembering how often we read, "I can't believe it, he was such a nice person..."
"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation." Matthew 12:43-45
During my time immersed in a study of intimate partner violence, out of which came my conversion, I learned early on that you cannot rid an evil spirit from within by just sweeping your 'self' empty but only by replacing it with the stronger and invincible Spirit of Christ. As we understand through Rene Girard, the recidivism rate of the evil spirit cannot be reduced by a purely human effort, the power of this mimetic contagion can only be transformed by a source from outside the human condition, only by the Mighty Power of the Trinitarian God.
I found much to praise in the article by Jeffery Imm in Athos' Fifth Column Nihilism post and I hope you will take the time to read these posts.
But I must disagree with Imm's diagnosis of nihilism:
"Nihilism is not a belief structure – it is an anti-belief structure. Nihilism does not believe in anything, or respect any value in humanity. "
Though he brings up religious concepts here in his next statement:
"Nihilism is nothing less than an assassination of the soul, of human worth, and of human hope."
Imm falls into the vortex that the promoters of nihilism want him to fall into demonstrated by what he writes: "The promoters of nihilism view it as the ultimate "secularism," claiming that – by believing that humanity has no value, no meaning, no purpose – it equally rejects all religions and all value systems. But what nihilism truly does is reject all hope in the purpose and the value of humanity itself."
We have posted Fr. Seraphim (Rose)'s NIHILISM The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age in a couple other posts and I refer again to it:
Nihilism is, most profoundly, a spiritual disorder, and it can be overcome only by spiritual means; and there has been no attempt whatever in the contemporary world to apply such means.
To take up the fight against nihilism in strictly a secularist manner without the Truth of the Cross of Christ as Imm does is to buy in on the distorted claim of "secularism" by the nihilists and to fall into the double-bind that automatically provides the nihilists the upper hand in his quest to destroy all truth, goodness and beauty.
To avoid committing a crime against humanity in our contemporary world of political correctness we only charge the nihilists as espousing just another "secular" ideology, thus not getting at the root of evil. Even we professed Catholics have been so often distracted and focused on intra-church affairs (see Fr Barron here) that we have not been fully awake to the rapid spread of the disease of nihilism in our culture; our youth and our very 'beings'. Are you still confused?
Imm and so many others (I think here of the psychologists who "treated" my son while he was in high school) attempt to weed out nihilism as a "secular" ideology by yanking on the weed only to break off the stem but leaving the root to spread ever so darker and faster throughout the body.
Why can Imm and all the rest of us miss this point? Had we grown lazy and lackadaisical to the reservoir of Truth that we were born into? Read how Fr. Seraphim (Rose) describes our current condition:
But if "rebellion" is all the "natural man" may know today, why is it that the "natural man" of the Renaissance or the Enlightenment seemed to know much more, and thought himself to be a much nobler being. "They took too much for granted," is the usual answer, and lived on Christian capital without knowing it; today we are bankrupt, and know it." Contemporary man, in a word, is "disillusioned." But, strictly speaking, one must be "disillusioned" of an illusion: if men have fallen way, not from illusion, but from truth--and this is indeed the case--then profounder reasoning is required to explain their present "plight."
Excerpts from Fr Seraphim (Rose)
It is not sufficient, for example, to condemn Nazism or Bolshevism for their "barbarism," "gangsterism," or "anti-intellectualism," and the artistic or literary avant-garde for their "pessimism" or "exhibitionism"; nor is it enough to defend the "democracies" in the name of "civilization," "progress," or "humanism," or for their advocacy of "private property" or "civil liberties." Such arguments, while some of them possess a certain justice, are really quite beside the point; the blows of Nihilism strike too deep, its program is far too radical, to be effectively countered by them. Nihilism has error for its root, and error can be conquered only by Truth. Most of the criticism of Nihilism is not directed to this root at all, and the reason for this--as we shall see--is that Nihilism has become, in our time, so widespread and pervasive, has entered so thoroughly and so deeply into the minds and hearts of all men living today, that there is no longer any "front" on which it may be fought; and those who think they are fighting it are most often using its own weapons, which they in effect turn against themselves.
Here we must face squarely a fact at which we have hinted before now, but which we have not yet fully examined: Nihilism is animated by a faith as strong, in its own way, and as spiritual in its root, as the Christian faith it attempts to destroy and supplant; its success, and its exaggerations, are explicable in no other way.
We have seen Christian faith to be the spiritual context wherein the questions of God, Truth, and Authority become meaningful and inspire consent. Nihilist faith is similarly a context, a distinctive spirit which underlies and gives meaning and power to Nihilist doctrine. The success of Nihilism in our time has been dependent upon, and may be measured by, the spread of this spirit; its arguments seem persuasive not to the degree that they are true, but to the degree that this spirit has prepared men to accept them.
What, then, is the nature of the Nihilist faith? It is the precise opposite of Christian faith, and so not properly called "faith" at all. Where Christian faith is joyous, certain, serene, loving, humble, patient, submitting in all things to the Will of God, its Nihilist counterpart is full of doubt, suspicion, disgust, envy, jealousy, pride, impatience, rebelliousness, blasphemy--one or more of these qualities predominating in any given personality. It is an attitude of dissatisfaction with self, with the world, with society, with God; it knows but one thing: that it will not accept things as they are, but must devote its energies either to changing them or fleeing from them. It was well described by Bakunin as "the sentiment of rebellion, this Satanic pride, which spurns subjection to any master whatever, whether of divine or human origin."
If the Revolutionary goal "beyond Nihilism" is described in precisely contrary terms, and if Nihilists actually see it as a reign of "love," peace, and "brotherhood , that is because Satan is the ape of God and even in denial must acknowledge the source of that denial, and--more to the present point--because men have been so changed by the practice of the Nihilist "virtues," and by acceptance of the Nihilist transformation of the world, that they actually begin to live in the Revolutionary Kingdom and to see everything as Satan sees it, as the contrary of what it is in the eyes of God.
What lies "beyond Nihilism" and has been the profoundest dream of its greatest "prophets," is by no means the overcoming of Nihilism, but its culmination. The "new age," being largely the work of Nihilism, will be, in substance, nothing different from the Nihilist era we know. To believe otherwise, to look for salvation to some new "development," whether brought about by the inevitable forces of "progress" or "evolution" or some romantic "dialectic," or supplied gratuitously from the treasury of the mysterious "future" before which modern men stand in superstitious awe--to believe this is to be the victim of a monstrous delusion. Nihilism is, most profoundly, a spiritual disorder, and it can be overcome only by spiritual means; and there has been no attempt whatever in the contemporary world to apply such means.
Fr. Seraphim (Rose)'s NIHILISM The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age HERE