Saturday, December 07, 2019



                               Preamble to Secular and Sacred Origins

Languages which are ‘living’, that is used by large populations, such as English and French, have words whose meaning can change.

For example, the word democracy for the Athenians meant a system of social governance more closely related to the Catholic social-teaching principle of subsidiarity where the greatest amount of power/decision making starts at the lowest possible level in society, for example at the neighbourhood rather than the municipal governance level.

Today when most people hear the word democracy it conjures up notions of governments with power yet increasingly isolated from, and deaf, to the cries of the people: the poor and vulnerable, those who are Christian and for life.

In his work on how China is messing around with Canadian democracy, a clear and present danger ignored by the Trudeau government, Jonathan Manthorpe notes: A feeling of powerlessness has become pervasive among Western Democracies, and in many cases there are good reasons for people to think that their civic systems are not functioning as intended……There is clearly a need to refashion Western Democracy and for a new compact between governments and citizenry. [1]

Throughout modern democracies, policies language, political speeches tend to deliberately muddy the waters so that sometimes what is labeled as the liberal left party is actually more conservative than the party which tends to be labeled as the conservative right, and vice-versa, depending on how parties figure they can manipulate the electorate to gain or retain power.

Granted it is simplifying things, but here any reference to liberal means governments and thinking of the left and any reference to conservative means governments and thinking of the right. Ideally, like the preferred porridge of Goldilocks, no government, indeed no individual, should be locked into either extreme but rather seek to balance, for example, social justice with the God given right to life. Denial of the sacred origins of democracy opens the door to the chaos of the culture of death.

In: MESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE EUROPEAN STUDY CONGRESS ON THE THEME: "TOWARDS A EUROPEAN CONSTITUTION?" , of June 2002, the Holy Father tried to teach this, as he appealed to the EU nations not to ignore their Christian heritage: ultimately ….if a new European order of this kind is to be adequate for the promotion of the authentic common good, it must recognize and safeguard the values that constitute the most precious heritage of European humanism, which has assured and continues to assure Europe a unique influence in the history of civilization. These values constitute the characteristic intellectual and spiritual contribution that has formed the European identity through the centuries and is part of the valuable cultural treasure of the continent. As I have recalled on other occasions, they concern the dignity of the person; the sacred character of human life; the central role of the family founded on marriage; the importance of education; freedom of thought, of speech and of the profession of personal convictions and religion; the legal protection of individuals and groups; the collaboration of all for the common good; work, seen as a personal and a social good; political power understood as a service, subject to law and reason, and "limited" by the rights of the person and of peoples… the process leading to a new institutional order, Europe cannot deny its Christian heritage, since a great part of its achievements in the fields of law, art, literature and philosophy have been influenced by the evangelical message…… being open to the new challenges emerging, Europe will need to draw inspiration with creative fidelity from the Christian roots that have defined European history. [2]

In the end the EU expunged any reference to its Christian roots and heritage from the constitution.

As St. Cyprian, a courageous bishop and martyr of the early Church admonishes us, and these words apply today: The world hates Christians, so why give your love to it instead of following Christ, who loves you and has redeemed you?

Currently the United States is going through the divisiveness of an impeachment process against President Trump, it is worth noting how leftist media is obsessed in its hostility towards non-liberal-leftist politicians and policies to such an extent that, for example CNN, which used to be a news channel, is now almost ninety percent of the time trolling, blah-blahing all anti-Trump all the time.

What is, euphemistically these days, referred to as the ‘news media’, has became similarly obsessed with defeating the conservative parties around the world, and simultaneously degrading Christianity, Catholicism in particular. As far back as the early the sixties in Canada, when there was a chance the Conservatives might continue in government, something which at anytime drives the Liberal/Leftist parties nuts,  in his MEMOIRS, former Prime Minister [conservative] Brian Mulroney notes: The most famous illustration of this hostility was a statement by Val Sears….who exhorted the traveling press on to another day of objective journalistic duty with the memorable cry, “To work, gentlemen, we have a government to overthrow.” [3]

Before looking into the secular and sacred origins of democracy it is vital to remember democracy is about human beings living in common, about the human person.

All human beings, that is each person, is created innately, intrinsically, free.

Constitutive of this freedom is our wills are free, that is we are free to choose life or death, love or hate, beauty or ugliness, to dwell in the light of Christ or the darkness of hell.

There is a degree of freedom within all creation, according to natural law, hence the stars shine, shimmer, some move, as do some planets, the air, the seas, birds, trees, animals, all have a type of freedom, but only human beings, that is we as persons in the image and likeness of God, share in the Holy Trinity’s freedom of being, of life as freedom, freedom to choose.

Choice has consequences as we all experience.

Once the Holy Trinity creates the human person, male and female, that is man and woman, in His image and likeness, endowing us with free will, we are simultaneously created as free persons.

Any government, democratic or not, which deliberately curtails freedom is acting as an agent of satan. Granted certain personal curtailments are reasonable and for the greater good and have their moral legitimacy rooted in Sacred Revelation, hence ‘thou shalt not kill’, makes arresting and putting murderers in prison reasonable.

Passing laws, that allow the murder of pre-born children, are satanic laws, which seek to usurp what is God’s alone: the gift of life.

Nothing in Sacred Scripture is asked of us, no more than the original directive to Adam and Eve, to curtail our freedom. Rather every commandment from God is opportunity, opportunity for us to freely love God and one another.

Constitutive of every commandment is this choice: to be free or unfree.

Freedom while not something we self-create, anymore than we create our selves, is something we can throw away, by imprisoning ourselves in the darkness of sin, like hate which imprisons us in ourselves, also our freedom can be taken away from us, which is what governments can, and do, do.

Thus, both sacred and secular history are replete with the struggle of human beings to live in community as free members thereof, and likewise of the unrelenting attempts of some human beings to dominate others.

The inspiration for the evil of dominance comes from the perpetually unfree creature whose arrogant ‘non serviam’ [I will not serve] instantly made him and his minions prisoners in the cold and dark of hell: the place of chosen unfreedom for all eternity.

It would be millennia before our ancestors would develop linguistic processes, both verbal and written, that would formulate rules, laws, ideas about how the clan, tribe, city, eventually kingdoms, alliances, emerging nation states and their alliances, should be governed.

Throughout secular history in particular when enough people found the system of government oppressive, a curtailing of objective freedom, resistance would begin and spread and either through civil war, or revolt against an occupying power, cast off the chains that bound them. Given the length of human history, only in recent times have people been able to cast off the chains of unfreedom, through the ballot box.

Songs of the people, paralleled in Sacred Scripture in the Psalms, over time in pamphlets, plays, operas, latterly novels, film, and paralleled by works of philosophy, law, politics etc., gave voice to the cries of the oppressed and those seeking to set them free.

In recent history the works of Hugo, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, and others, sought to give voice to the voiceless, in the dirty thirties the novel and film version of THE GRAPES OF WRATH, and in this age of the internet, digital media, the Wachowskis brothers Matrix Trilogy, articulate the deep need of human beings, irrespective of who is seeking to dominate us, to be free.

Towards the end of the third film in the series, in the midst of the final battle between the protagonists, the character who embodies darkness, death, destruction, hatred, named in the film ‘Smith’, cannot comprehend why the character ‘Anderson/Neo’, who embodies the human hunger for freedom, peace, love, speak with each other: Smith: “Why, why, why, why do you do it? Why, why get up, why keep fighting? Do you believe you are fighting for something? For more than your survival. Can you tell me what it is. Do you even know?....Is it freedom or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? Illusions Mr. Anderson, vagaries of perception, temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose……You must know it by now you can’t win. It’s pointless to keep fighting….Why Mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist? [4a]

The hiss of satan himself is in those words, it is his challenge to Christ in the desert, in the garden, on the cross, his taunt of every soul, every human being, every faithful disciple of Christ and it is the uncomprehending arrogance of those who oppressively rule in China, Russia, Iran, and increasingly as ersatz democratic governments in Canada, Venezuela, etc., seeking to overrule their own people.

Mr. Anderson’s/Neo’s reply is as incomprehensible to them as Jesus’ word to the Father in the Garden: “Not as I will, but as You will”.

Smith: Why Mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist?

Mr. Anderson/Neo: Because I choose to. [4b]

That answer is echoed by the defenders of life in the culture of death, by word and deed, by fidelity to Christ, by demanding authentic democracy, and is also to echo Christ’s own words and life, for Christ choose to lay down His life for us, as we must for one another, for that is love and there is no greater act of resistance to the tyranny of the democracies of death than to love and choose life. It is the freedom of the children of God.

Living as an urban hermit in this city on the 53rd parallel, this time of year the Scriptural words about people living in darkness and seeking light, [Mt. 4:16ff], adds to the stark reality of living in a modern democracy oozing into our lives the culture of death and darkness.

These dark days are brightened by Christmas lights shining from the homes of believers and unbelievers alike, while St. John reassures us Light Himself has created us to be filled with light, not darkness: What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. [Jn. 1:3-5]

In his recent Apostolic Letter On The Meaning and Importance of the Nativity Scene, Pope Francis also consoles us: Why does the Christmas crèche arouse such wonder and move us so deeply? First, because it shows God’s tender love: the Creator of the universe lowered himself to take up our littleness. The gift of life, in all its mystery, becomes all the more wondrous as we realize that the Son of Mary is the source and sustenance of all life. In Jesus, the Father has given us a brother who comes to seek us out whenever we are confused or lost, a loyal friend ever at our side. He gave us his Son who forgives us and frees us from our sins. [5]

In the next essay we will go deeper into the origins, strengths, dangers, weaknesses of modern democracies, keeping in mind always this admonition from St. Paul:….. it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light…….[Rms. 13:11,12]

[1] CLAWS OF THE PANDA, Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada; p. 270; Jonathan Manthorpe; Cormorant Books Inc. 2019

[2] [see paras. 3 &4]

[3] BRIAN MULRONY MEMOIRS, p.74; A Douglas Gibson Book, McClelland & Stewart Ltd. 2007

[4a & b]

[5]  para. 3

© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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