The kingdom of lies is an appropriate description for the ways of the world. On the night before the paschal feast, seated at supper with his disciples, Our Lord declared “I am the way, I am truth and life.” They were in the presence of truth Himself, of life Himself, and they would soon see what the world thinks of both life and truth. The next afternoon, he was, at the behest of a mob, sentenced to death and executed as if he were no different than the thieves crucified beside him.
By Deano Ware Jr.
22 April 2019
Just as we are shown something about the self-sacrificial nature of God, and about the essence of love, which is to give what one has for the good of another (remember that “for God so loved, that he gave…” and that “this is the greatest love a man can show, that he should lay down his life for his friends,”) we are also shown something about the world, and the way in which the world receives, or rather refuses to receive and ultimately seeks to condemn and to destroy, truth and life.
We hear much about how Western society is gradually becoming a Culture of Death. St. Pope John Paul II once lamented that “choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable,” he was right and is righter still in 2019. The recent legislation in New York shows forth the truth of his diagnosis. But what we seem to be seeing is perhaps not simply the Gadarene slide of Western Civilization into a state of moral impoverishment. Neither is it simply the legalization and celebration of death. We seem to be seeing something of a homecoming, one in which the Western world (and indeed the world at large), is casting off the thin veneer of Christianity and Christian morality and returning to that state in which it was since the fall of man and before the rise of Christendom.
We are returning to the days of the Aztecs who offered up their children as sacrifices at the so called “Great Pyramid,” or the Inca who sent their children to the tops of frigid mountains to die of hypothermia to appease the old gods. We are finding our way back to the morality of the Minoans who took their child sacrifice to levels inconceivable to the modern mind. We, by rejecting the revelation of the God of love and the love he would have us do, have also rejected the pillars which support all our notions about what it means to be civilized human beings. We find ourselves returning to the cosmos of the pagans. To a sky and earth littered with many small and petty deities, provincial gods with as little care for the crops and the harvest as for the condition of the human heart and the way we treat one another. For, if there is no one God in heaven, or if the primary example of God’s relationship with humanity is not the human dignity and life affirming act of loving self-sacrifice, what then do we have? If we have unseated one loving God from the throne of our hearts, surely in must enter many lesser things and beings that would demand our worship. If we have unseated Life, and Truth from the throne in our hearts and expelled Him from our society, what then are we left with? Who then rules?
The answer of the reign of Death and Falsehood may seem dramatic, but one dispassionate gaze at the times we live in might dampen the melodrama of such an answer and reveal something of the truth in it. The bombings in Sri Lanka that left some 200 hundred worshipers dead, the return of senicide under a different mask and called by a different name, the legalization of everything, of nearly every whim of our impulses, the silencing of views that dissent from the prevailing cultural narrative by shaming, and failing that, violence, the staged hate-crimes, and science-betraying ideologies force fed to us in unskippable advertisements, and subsequently praised on social media, the genders pitted against each other like a game of “cooties,” on a middle-school playground, the pursuit of wealth above human good, or the exaltation of the environment above the same, all these are hallmarks of a different reign under a different sort of sovereign. We face now the consequences of putting Truth and Life to death, and letting Barabbas go free. We have brought on ourselves the Opioid crisis, suicide as one of the top three leading causes of death for those between the ages of 15 to 44, rising depression diagnosis, and on, and on, and on.
What then is the cure, or are we left with only the jeremiad as a snake oil panacea?
JRR Tolkien once wrote in his letters:
“Actually I am a Christian…and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’— though it contains…some samples or glimpses of final victory.”
Our Easter celebration and the profound symbolism of moving from darkness to light, though this year marred by the tragedy in Sri Lanka, is one such glimpse of that final victory. There are lesser such glimpses as well, ones that we have it in our power to create every moment of every day. These are the occasions when we speak the truth (of course in love), moments when we reject lies and falsehoods no matter how soothing, no matter whose feelings they might spare, no matter whose praise they might win us, and as is the lesson of the cross, no matter how much it may cost us in the end. To speak the truth, especially in an age of lies, while living in the kingdom of falsehood, is an act of courage, a virtue among virtues, and a foreshadowing of the final and forever return of Truth Himself.
But we must remember, if they hated Truth Himself, the truth tellers in our age should expect nothing less.