Thursday 23rd November 2017

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A Potpourri… Apostasy, Possession In Vegas, And Other Matters

November 2, 2017 Frontpage No Comments

By GEORGE A. KENDALL

At age 75, I find myself reflecting more and more on my youthful experience with apostasy. When I was 22, I “left the Church.” I came back at 35, having had time to think much more deeply about the issues involved and, more important, to do a lot of growing up.
During those thirteen years, I thought of myself variously as an atheist, an agnostic, and a kind of “nondenominational Christian” grounded (if that is possible) in liberal Protestant theology (Paul Tillich influenced me greatly in those days. Later, I atoned by publishing a lengthy article in Faith and Reason lambasting his theology of revelation).
In the end, I came to appreciate the truth of Walker Percy’s response to a question as to why he had become a Catholic: “What else is there?” I came to realize that the Church’s roots in my soul went way too deep to ever be uprooted, try as I might — and I did. The Church was home — period! It made sense of life and the universe, something that Plato and Aristotle couldn’t do, except perhaps partly, and which Enlightenment ideology, in all its combinations and permutations, couldn’t do at all. Catholicism, is, in a real sense, the center of the universe, and that is all there is to it.
During the many years that have passed since my return to Catholic truth (also known as sanity), I have come to suspect that there has never truly been a time in my life when I was not Catholic. My thirteen-year apostasy was a time when I certainly tried hard to separate myself from my Catholic roots, but I never succeeded (though the effort was a source of much suffering).
Lest I be misunderstood: I’m not saying that I was in the state of grace during this time. Most likely I was not, though only God can know the truth for certain. I was certainly a very bad Catholic (a self-excommunicated one), but still a Catholic, albeit one who had gotten confused and disoriented, and wandered off the path, just as Dante was still a Catholic when he found himself in the dark forest.
So my present understanding of the meaning of my thirteen years away from the Church differs markedly from the way I understood it at the time. There have been other changes too. Those thirteen years seemed like an eon at the time. Today, in my memory, they have shrunken considerably. They seem more like a brief incident. C.S. Lewis somewhere says that in eternity, when man’s redemption will be complete, the Fall will be remembered, at most, as a kind of stumbling on man’s part, something quickly corrected. For me too, the more time passes, the smaller the whole thing seems. The time is being redeemed. Praise be to Jesus Christ.

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A few thoughts on the Second Amendment, occasioned by the reflex response of liberals to the mass shooting in Las Vegas: “We need more gun control.” But it seems to me that neither the pro-gun control nor the anti-gun control people understand the Second Amendment nor the so-called Bill of Rights of which it is a part. Almost everyone seems to see the Bill of Rights as an enumeration of the Enlightenment Rights of Man — understood as individual rights to be protected by the federal government.
But the history of the Bill shows a different and opposite picture. The Bill was proposed and ratified because the states were afraid that the new constitution would give the central government excessive power which would overwhelm the rights of the states (which is what actually happened) and wanted to protect against such a development by excluding the federal government from jurisdiction in certain areas, for instance, religion and gun ownership.
The Second Amendment doesn’t require the federal government to protect the right of individuals in the several states to keep and bear arms from being restricted by the states. It requires the federal government to keep out of the matter entirely.
That leaves state governments free to impose what they see as reasonable limits on gun ownership. The rights which the Bill of Rights protected were states’ rights. I would add that here we need to supplement the Constitution with Natural Law jurisprudence to the extent that the right to defend oneself and one’s home and family from aggression is a fundamental natural right, and that when any government — state, local, or federal — tries to suppress that right, the people need to defend themselves. But that takes the question beyond constitutional law.

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Much has been made of the fact that Stephen Paddock seems to have had no motive that anyone can discern so far for the massacre in Las Vegas. A couple of comments seem in order.
First, the modern world finds it hard to consider the possibility that there can be such a thing as pure evil. When someone commits a crime, we have to ask about his motives: What made him do it? Accordingly, we start thinking about such things as greed, lust, the fact that the criminal grew up in poverty or was abused as a child, and so on. Yet some people, even in the absence of such factors, are capable, perhaps from very early in life, of making the decision to reject and hate God and His creation, simply choosing self over God for no reason beyond one’s perception that this choice is a good — like Milton’s Lucifer: “Evil, be thou my good.”
Going a little deeper into the matter, I can’t help suspecting demonic involvement in the Las Vegas shooting. Malachi Martin used to talk about “perfect possession,” the kind of possession that occurs when the possessed person freely and willingly grants entry to the possessing demon (this, I suspect, is what was going on in cases like those of Hitler and Stalin).
I can’t help thinking that when somebody makes the fundamental choice of self over God, making evil his good, he is, in effect, issuing an invitation to the Devil. Now, in the possession cases that come to the attention of exorcists, the victim does not want to be possessed, though the possession may have come about through behavior on the victim’s part, such as occult activity, which creates what are called portals, or entry-ways for the demon. The unwilling victim resists, and the consequent struggle leads to the bizarre and terrifying phenomena generally accompanying possession. But these are not present in perfect possession.
Perfect possession is, I suspect, what the whole notion of selling one’s soul to the Devil is about. A person hands himself over to the Devil in return for worldly success, wealth, power, and such, or simply through hatred of the good. People who enter into such arrangements do not show obvious signs of mental or emotional disorder, or, indeed, of moral evil. Stephen Paddock seems to have successfully presented himself to people close to him, like his family and his girlfriend, as a pretty typical, normal, “nice guy.”
Apparently, near the end, he started to experience anxiety about his situation, crying, even screaming, in his sleep. This could possibly suggest that he was starting to realize that the bill was coming due, and that Satan wanted him to fulfill his end of the bargain by killing and injuring a large number of people, thus going out in a “blaze of glory.” He was probably starting to have second thoughts and, had he called to God for help, might even then have been saved. But of course Satan excels at leading those who serve him into the sin of despair, from which few of them escape.
There is little doubt that Satan enjoys an inordinate amount of power in “sin cities” like Vegas. It is his modus operandi to create fear and confusion. He certainly succeeded in this case.

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William Lind’s recent article in Chronicles “The Poison and the Antidote,” on cultural Marxism, advocates responding to the Marxist culture which is more and more normative in our world by ignoring this dominant culture and, in effect, seeking to live our lives in a pre-Marxist culture like that of the 1950s. This amounts to abandoning the effort to overcome Marxist culture and simply ignoring it.
This would make sense only on the assumption that the Marxist culture is likely to sit back and let us do such a thing. But that isn’t going to happen. The dominant culture wants total control. So those trying to live in an enclave will have to be prepared to resist.
For instance — Lind advocates home-schooling. Great! But one thing you can count on is that in the not-too-distant future there will be an all-out push to ban home-schooling. Those who want to home-school will have to go underground, teaching their children the truth at home, and at the same time undoing the lies taught them in the schools they are forced to attend (and hoping the kids don’t inadvertently blurt out something that gives the parents away to the state).
The eventual move to ban Christianity altogether, a project dear to the hearts of all left-thinking people, is also something we can look forward to. This will be a special threat to Catholicism, which the enemies of Christ all know deep down to be the institution that most completely embodies His truth. The idea that we can just retreat into a Christian enclave and peacefully coexist with the enemies of Christ is one that shows no appreciation of the depths of their hatred for Christ and His Church.

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(© 2017 George A. Kendall)

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