Sunday, July 1, 2012

Close the Door

The most opposite modern views of the world share the same starting point: the denial of the natural ethical law and the reduction of the world to ‘mere’ facts.
A Turning Point for Europe?,  34

Reflection – ‘We can change the world. Rearrange the world… Rules and regulations who needs them? Open up the door…’ The Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song Chicago remains the unofficial theme song of our times. We have been proudly ‘opening up doors’ for centuries now, changing and rearranging and jettisoning all rules with… well, I was going to say ‘with impunity’ but I don’t think it quite works that way.
Some of those doors have monsters behind them. Other doors were fire doors, holding back the annihilating forces of nature. Other doors were trap doors leading to oubliettes, and our flinging open of those means millions of forgotten ones have plunged down into the abyss of obliteration.

When we jettison the natural law—that is, when we start from the premise that there is no ‘ought’ and ‘ought not’ built into the nature of things, the very structure of reality—then we are left in a world of facts and figures, forces of energy and brute matter. But this world of facts proves to be far more cruel and pitiless than any moral system ever developed.

We proudly uphold ‘reproductive freedom’, meaning the aggressive separation of sexual activity from pro-creation. Birth rates plunge throughout the developed world, virtually to extinction points in some countries. And so the demographic crisis heightens and tightens and worsens… and in a few years we will start euthanizing our elderly, the same elderly who in their youth proudly chose the path of contraception and abortion. The children they didn’t have are now unable to care for them and love them in their declining years. Rules and regulations, who needs them?

Oh yeah, we do… the same holds true for the looming global economic crisis. For years, decades now we (that is, our governments) have been living on credit and fancy bookkeeping and borrowing from our children and grandchildren to pay for a prosperous lifestyle. Well, our children and grandchildren have proven to be no-shows (see above paragraph for explanation). And the debt is coming due; the money is running out. What does this mean and what does will look like? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else does, either.

And the environment… ‘we can change the world…’ can we change how food grows from the earth? Can we change the nature of living creatures? Can we really sustain the current system of food production, the heavily urbanized civilization which requires a global network of food supply chains, fewer and fewer farmers feeding an ever-growing non-food growing population? When the money runs out (see above paragraph), how is all this food going to keep moving as it must?

Anyhow, sorry to be a downer on Canada Day. But we need to reclaim this ethical sense, this sense that in the very nature of things, given by God, is a structure, an order, a truth which yields a genuine good, a truth and goodness which respected and lived from yields a genuine beauty. Otherwise, we are at the mercy of pitiless ‘facts’, a tsunami of facts that is, in fact, rushing at our civilization fairly quickly now, and will swamp us in the coming decades.

God is merciful; nature is not. The moral law is a gift of mercy from God, to teach us how to live in this world so that ‘nature’ is our friend and companion, our intimate teacher of the ways of God and our nursemaid in the ways of the Spirit (I have much more to say on that subject, but for another time…).

Without that moral law, and the sense that it flows directly from the natural order, we are terribly vulnerable, terribly endangered, and I fear that all of us—my beloved nation of Canada very much at the top of the list—are going to feel the weight of mere facts very soon indeed, if we do not recover the true values coming from the heart of God.


  1. good rant deserves another?
    1. "jettison the natural law" YOu are not taking the questioners seriously. This is serious stuff! Continuing to rant about natural law - specifically the notion that contraception violates nature because it oes not produce babies is ridiculous. INterpreing the law in this way reduces the argument to sex and reduces human beings in their totality as emotional, spiritual and sphysical beings. Is that what you meant to communicate?
    2. No. Contraception is not rejecting life. It is making a decision act it. We recognize that pregnancy is possibility and we decide whether this is the best time to have a baby. We acknowledge that we are more that just potential parents. Priests preach the letter of the law, and parishioners refuse to follow rules created without reference to the reality they know. But the rules are not just unrealistic. THey are often irrevelent, based on incorrect ot incomplete information
    3. Using contraception does not make pleasure the point of the act...and will not promote sex on buses as smoe of your favorite blogging friends suggest (the company you keep?). THis is how adolescents think. Teenagers dream of sex constantly available, unihibited by pregnancy. Adults know that an human encounter requiring honesty and surrender has the potential for revelation and pain- and the communication, the healing nd the strengthening that good sex ensures is foundational to a marriage
    4. i understand the beauty of child, the wonder, the gift. I also understand th ocncerns about designer parenthood...But to defend contraception within a marriage is not to defend sexual license. These people are committed for life.they have a right to make their own decisions about contraception.
    5. Every human activity has the potential to bcome unbalanced. Having children year after year, as former generations of Catholics did, is just as harmful to social good as the refusal to connect sex with pregnancy.
    6. Really? Children a retirement plan?? That is reaching rally deep
    7. I can only rant with you on the environment and economy.
    But the truth is...I don't reaally want to rant....

  2. You weren't speaking for me (and I certainly don't speak for Fr. Denis), but I want to chime in on your rant. This has potential for it to me a rant of my own and we will have a rant party. :)

    1. Natural law has an order. Structure and function. Although the Fall of man brought sin and disorder to the world (We were never meant to die), the way to survive is to try to get as close to the original intent as possible rather than using the Fall as an excuse for more disorder. Disorder is not without consequence. Contraception is disordered because sex is structured and functioned to create pregnancy. Wanting to take the structure (the act) and thwart the function (pregnancy) is an affront to natural law- The consequences are enormous. Everything predicted in Humana Vitae (lowering of moral standards, increased adultery, government population control) all came to pass.

    2. When you take steps to avoid creating life (while doing the act that creates life), then you are rejecting life. It would be the same if a married couple chose not to have sex at all in order to prevent pregnancy. That is not openness to life. To "accept" is not to "embrace" - you can accept life without embracing it, but to not accept is to reject.

    3. Regardless of the point of the act- pleasure, bonding, etc.- contraception rejects its purpose. Since people who don't want children wouldn't have sex if they didn't have some other purpose, then people using contraception are trying to GAIN something while rejecting fertility. This is clearly a case of greed: wanting something without having to give anything (like fertility) in order to have it. Selfishness is antithetical to marriage, because marriage requires complete sacrifice- so this can't be a foundation that will endure. Maybe this is why around 50% of contracepting couples divorce compared to .02% of couples who don't use contraception.

    4. People have the right to make their own decisions about anything. That doesn't make their decisions right, though, or free from consequence. I can decide natural law regarding eating for nutrition (as well as pleasure, bonding) is wrong- and decide that I will eat but then vomit so I don't get the nutrients. That is a wrong decision and the consequences are health issues. But, yes, I have the right to make that decision- I just hope no one would support that decision, like you support the decision to contracept.

    5. How was having many children harmful to society? Before contraception, illegitimacy and single-parenthood were negligible (as was the poverty that comes from these arrangements), divorce rates were low, we did not have an STD epidemic, and so on. How were large families a bad thing? Divorcing sex from procreation obviously was, but I see no evidence that society was harmed by more than 2.5 children per couple (back when children were born to couples- nowadays, many are not).

    6. You don't believe in caring for your parents in their old age? Because my parents agreed with you on contraception, I only have one sister to share the responsibility with in caring for my parents who have health problems and providing for their needs.


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