Friday 1st July 2016

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Political Turmoil And The Wrong Notion Of Who And What Is God

July 17, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

(Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s “Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic” column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He is the author of several books including The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic [Transaction Publishers: 2012], and most recently published an edited volume entitled Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System [Scarecrow Press: 2013]. This column originally appeared in Crisismagazine.com. All rights reserved.)

+    +    +

The great political philosophy scholar Leo Strauss was supposed to have said that the only two things in life really worth talking about are God and politics. That’s because at a most fundamental level they are inextricably intertwined. A skewed notion of the very nature of God and whether man acknowledges Him — or tries to substitute himself for God — is at the crux of the turmoil, fanaticism, and destructiveness of the politics of our day and of much of the last hundred years.
This is seen well in two books of the last decade. Robert R. Reilly’s The Closing of the Muslim Mind (2010) finds the roots of what it calls “the modern Islamist crisis” that has turned the Middle East upside down and spawned the international terrorist threat in crucial developments in Islamic thought and theology of a thousand years ago.
Within Sunni Islam, the earlier influences of Aristotelian — or any — philosophy were dispelled and a notion of God as pure and absolute will became permanently entrenched. This meant that no act by its nature is good or evil. Something is good or evil only because God — Allah — decreed it to be so, and He could easily decree just the opposite. This means that there is no genuine morality, no freedom of conscience, no role for reason, and no free will for men. At bottom, this is pure moral relativism. Nothing is intrinsically right or wrong; God can go either way.
As Reilly puts it, this makes God a Nietzschean, a “legal positivist,” and a Thrasymachean (“might makes right”). The ruling morality comes forth only from revelation, as explicated by Islam’s legal schools and clerical figures — backed up by supportive political powers. Moral and theological positions cannot be sustained by reason — that isn’t possible — but only, in the end, by force. To be sure, Reilly says this perspective is not intrinsic to Islam, but controls Sunni thought.
It’s not hard to see how this perspective leads to: the unquestioned following of brutal charismatic fanatics like Osama bin Laden, the kidnapping and enslaving of schoolgirls and chaining of pregnant women to prison floors for presumed “apostasy,” terrorist movements that have no compunction about killing innocent people, and totalist states.
Representative government, in fact, has been a rarity in the Islamic world (Reilly tells us that it’s seen as a challenge to Allah’s sovereignty). After all, the proper relationship between God and Caesar cannot prevail when man has the wrong conception of God. While everything is done in the name of God, men — especially those who get enough power — effectively “become” God.
My Franciscan University of Steubenville colleague Benjamin Wiker’s 2008 book 10 Books that Screwed Up the World (And 5 Others That Didn’t Help) shows the widespread deleterious influence of the writings of leading modern Western thinkers, most of whom are categorized as political philosophers. What he identifies as the common theme running through the likes of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, J.S. Mill, Lenin, and Hitler (in Mein Kampf) is that there is no morality above man, because there is no God ruling over men.
When God is abandoned, it is inevitable that morality is abandoned. So often, we encounter someone who will say that men can be moral and not be believers. Some will even make the claim that the great Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle illustrate this — ignoring the facts that Socrates said he was directed by God, Plato’s “Good” animating all of existence was stumbling in the direction of God, Aristotle’s proving of the existence of God by natural reasoning, and that piety was a great virtue for these and other great ancient philosophers. In fact, relatively few men can be moral without religious belief, and the ones that are tend to have glaring gaps. The more traditional the religion, the sounder its moral code.
The implication for politics of putting man in place of God, Wiker tells us, was the rise of modern ideologies (like Communism, fascism, and Nazism) — which were, in essence, substitute human-fashioned religions — and the aggressive, brutal, and totalist states that came with them. The results, then, were the same as with Islamism. The only difference is that here men outright rejected God. Man becomes God in all but name.

Moral Nihilism

Then, we have today’s leftism. What stands behind it, also, are the political thinkers in Wiker’s book. In spite of the defeat of Communism a generation ago, most of today’s left embraces consciously or not a vulgarized version of Marxism.
Nevertheless, its inordinate regulation of the business community instead of outright government ownership, eagerness to use Corporate America to promote its cultural agenda, and readiness to tolerate such things as the shameless pressure tactics — a kind of interest-group thuggery — of what Bill Maher (hardly a conservative) called the “gay mafia” also show a dimension of fascism.
Its extreme individualism and nearly maniacal moral nihilism ring of Rousseau and Nietzsche. Its longtime obsession with overturning traditional culture bears the imprint of the other writers — who might be called cultural radicals — that Wiker profiles: Charles Darwin, Margaret Sanger, Sigmund Freud, Margaret Mead, Alfred Kinsey, and Betty Friedan.
If they — and contemporary leftism — don’t provide the well-developed theoretical schemes that the architects of modern political ideologies did, the practical effects of their assault on culture have been as pronounced as the latter’s were on politics. As with modern political ideologies and the predominant strain of Islamic thought that Reilly discusses, man is the measure of all things.
As time has gone on, the opponents of traditional — that is, sound — culture have continually used the state, and even international political institutions, to further their agendas.
Even if today’s leftists are not all the thoroughgoing atheists that Communists and Nazis were and are — although contemporary leftists have become increasingly, and more openly and aggressively, secularistic — practically speaking, man has become God for them.
Along with that, they too have become increasingly intolerant and repressive (consider, for example, the HHS mandate, the silencing of moral opposition to the homosexualist agenda, and the suppression of dissenting views on university campuses) and insistent on more and more centralized state power to put their objectives into practice. The outline of, once again, the totalist state comes more sharply into view.
The bottom line for the sad, chaotic, and ultimately disastrous political developments accompanying the rise of Islamism, modern political ideologies, and contemporary leftism, again, has been the fact that, one way or the other, man has tried to make himself God.
To paraphrase Irving Babbitt and others, as the notion of God goes, so goes philosophy, and society and culture, and politics, and economics — the religious outlook is at the core of all other perspectives.
I recall a political philosophy professor in my undergraduate days mentioning a famous passage in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound. When Prometheus thunders, “I hate all the gods,” Hermes responds, “Your words declare you stricken with no slight madness.” The professor used the passage to illustrate the problem caused by modern political thought: When man pushes aside the transcendent, his hubris takes over and calamity follows.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Hillary Clinton: “I Will Always Stand With Planned Parenthood,” It Does “Extraordinary Things”

Earlier this month, pro-abortion presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told activists at a Planned Parenthood abortion business rally that she would “always have your back.” She means it. In an op-ed written to bolster support for America’s biggest abortion business, Hillary…Continue Reading

United Way Sent $3 Million to Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz in 2015

LifeNews has repeatedly chronicled the relationship between dozens of local United Way agencies and the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Last year, on the heels of shocking videos showing the Planned Parenthood abortion business selling the body parts of aborted babies,…Continue Reading

Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher: Men for our season

The Church of the Little Flower is blessed today to receive relics of two great English saints: one, St. Thomas More, was a statesman, an intellectual, a Catholic layman who took his baptism seriously; the other was a bishop who…Continue Reading

Catholic Bishops Blast Obama Admin for Forcing Churches to Pay for Abortions

The leading pro-life spokesmen for the Catholic bishops are blasting an Obama administration decision revoking federal protection for chruches in California forced to pay for abortions. As LifeNews reported, churches in California are officially subject to an onerous state regulation…Continue Reading

Church Leaders React to Supreme Tie on DAPA/DACA

Catholic leaders from around the country were expressing disappointment today in response to a Supreme Court tie vote that effectively terminates Obama administration initiatives on immigration that shielded millions from deportation. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, described…Continue Reading

Catholic universities must insure abortion, Obama administration rules

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Obama administration has ruled against two Catholic universities, upholding a rule issued by the state of California requiring all employers to cover elective abortions in their insurance plans – even if the…Continue Reading

Progressive Catholic groups publish “Pope Francis” voter guide

While the IRS revoked the non-profit status of the George Soros-subsidized Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) in October 2013 for failing to file a form 990 for three consecutive years, the organization recently re-emerged with a progressive…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Most Catholic marriages are null, some ‘cohabitations’ are ‘real marriage’

June 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis spoke yesterday at a pastoral congress on the family for the Diocese of Rome, and his remarks are causing consternation among faithful Catholics. In off-the-cuff remarks, the pope made the dual claim that…Continue Reading

From Fox News . . .Enough is enough, Pope Francis should resign

By Adam Shaw ·Published June 17, 2016 · FoxNews.com Pope Francis’s three-year-old papacy, marred by controversy from the beginning, has hit a new low. After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to succeed Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, he quickly justified his…Continue Reading

Florida Bishop Blames Orlando Massacre on Catholic ‘Contempt’ for Homosexuality

The Catholic Bishop of St. Petersburg, Fla, has blamed Catholic disapproval of homosexual acts for the brutal slaughter of 49 people in the Pulse nightclub on Sunday. In a blogpost Monday, Bishop Robert Lynch said that Catholicism “targets” and “often…Continue Reading

WATCH: Congresswoman Blasts Sales of Aborted Baby Parts in Explosive Speech Filled With Evidence

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler gave a recent speech on the flood of the House of Representatives blasting the sales of aborted baby parts. The member of the special panel investigating Planned Parenthood and the sales of aborted baby parts provided shocking…Continue Reading

Transgender bathroom debate: Lawmakers in Massachusetts pass bill allowing use of restrooms based on gender identity

The Massachusetts’ House of Representatives has passed a bathroom bill on Wednesday that will allow transgenders to use restrooms according to their gender identity. Voting 116-36, lawmakers passed the bill despite protests from people who went to the House to…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Today . . .

Donald Trump Condemns Pro-Abortion Supreme Court Ruling

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump today condemned the decision the Supreme Court handed down on Monday reversing part of a pro-life Texas law that protects women’s health and has also saved the lives of thousands of unborn children and closed abortion clinics that can’t ensure adequate protection for women. The high court ruled 5-3 against the Texas pro-life law with Justice Stephen Breyer writing the decision. In new comments today, Trump condemned the Supreme Court…Continue Reading

On the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

•June 29, 2016•ZENIT Staff•Angelus/Regina Caeli “Out of love for Christ, they left their homeland and, heedless of the difficulties of the long trip and of the risks and diffidence that they would meet, they came to Rome. Here they made themselves heralds and witnesses of the Gospel among the people, and they sealed their mission of faith and charity with martyrdom.’ BEFORE THE ANGELUS Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning! Today we celebrate the feast…Continue Reading

Full text and video of Pope Francis’ call for Christian apology to homosexuals

popeplane

June 27, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – We here present Pope Francis’ full remarks echoing Cardinal Marx’s call for Christians to apologize to homosexuals in the wake of the Orlando massacre. You can find a full English transcript of the pope’s plane interview at Catholic News Agency here.   Cindy Wooden, CNS: Holiness, within the past few days Cardinal Marx, the German, speaking at a large conference in Dublin which is very important on the Church in the modern…Continue Reading

Supreme Court overturns landmark Texas pro-life law 5-3

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Supreme Court has reversed a landmark Texas pro-life law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges and abortion facilities to meet more stringent health standards. An eight-justice Supreme Court has reversed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (formerly Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole), 5-3. The case was brought by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of independent abortion facilities…Continue Reading

Papal press conference touches a host of issues

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis spoke on the Armenian genocide, the relation of the Church to homosexuals, and Britain’s vote last week to leave the European Union, as well as a host of other topics in a wide-ranging press conference on his flight back to Rome following his Apostolic Voyage to Armenia. Sunday’s in-flight press conference began with questions about the Apostolic Voyage to Armenia that Pope Francis had just concluded. Asked about his message for…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . “Put On The Whole Armour Of God”

By JAMES MONTI At the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend last year (2015) I had the privilege of watching a flyover of the U.S. Air Force F-16 Thunderbird squadron as they traveled up the Hudson River and back. A thin wisp of cloud in a clear blue sky was the first sign of the…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “The Second Time Around: Euthanasia In The Netherlands”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 1 “The ease with which destruction of life is advocated for those considered either socially useless or socially disturbing instead of educational or ameliorative measures may be the first danger sign of loss of creative liberty in thinking, which is the hallmark of a democratic society” — Leo Alexander, MD. +…Continue Reading

Parenthood In An Age Of Surrogacy . . . Legal Battles And The “Ownership” Of Babies

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University. All rights reserved.) + + + The ever-widening use of IVF and surrogate mothers is continuing…Continue Reading

The Canizares Case In Spain Is A Litmus Test For Pope Francis

By MAIKE HICKSON (Editor’s Note: This article below reprinted from the June 17 OnePeterFive.com; all rights reserved. (On June 20, the Catholic Herald also reported: (“Prosecutors in Spain have said they are investigating a Spanish cardinal for possible criminal hate speech because of remarks he made recently about the gay community. (“Valencia’s provincial prosecutor’s office…Continue Reading

The First Canonized Saint . . . A Milestone In The Saintly Process

By RAY CAVANAUGH When asked to name a few saints, chances are that “Ulrich” will be overlooked. St. Ulrich (also known as Udalric) of Augsburg is an obscure figure, and, as far as saints go, there isn’t anything especially compelling at this point about his life as a 10th-century Bavarian bishop. Ulrich — whose feast…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: We have in the past tried to explain why a good and loving God would allow the existence of evil and suffering and would allow bad things to happen to good people. It is a mystery that we will not fully understand in this life. However, some understanding of this mystery can be found in a book by…Continue Reading

The Two Greatest Commandments

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Deut. 30:10-14 Col. 1:15-20 Luke 10:25-37 In the Gospel reading today, a scholar in the Law comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Our Lord answers by asking how the man understands what is written in the Law. He responds by reciting…Continue Reading

The Distribution Of Communion Through The Ages

By FR. EDWARD McNAMARA, LC (Editor’s Note: In this September 21 question and answer column provided by ZENIT News Agency, Fr. Edward McNamara explains here that reception of Communion was long considered a logical part of the Mass. (Fr. McNamara, a Legionary of Christ priest, is a professor of liturgy and the dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum University.)…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Christ Preaches Ideals And So Must His Church

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK (Editor’s Note: Because of its timeliness, Fr. Cusick’s column appears on the front page this week, instead of its usual place on p. 2B. In that spot we are reprinting an article by Fr. John Flynn, LC, on “Parenthood in an Age of Surrogacy.”) + + + “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church… The Heroes Of Jesus Christ — The Martyrs!

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). No other people have proved their love for Jesus Christ more than the Catholic martyrs. From the Colosseum during the first three centuries of pagan persecution to today’s Islamic persecution in many countries, from…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Junipero Serra

By CAROLE BRESLIN With the supremacy of the Spanish navy, the discovery of the New World, and the founding of the Jesuit order, the distances that Catholic missionaries traveled increased dramatically. St. Francis Xavier, after arriving in India, spent many years sailing all over Southeast Asia. However, either by land or by sea, few saints have traveled more than St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Mother Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala

By CAROLE BRESLIN Which basilica in the country of Mexico has been visited by both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis? The Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan. Like Our Lady of Guadalupe, the story of Our Lady of Zapopan begins in the year 1531. Beginning in 1531, the same year that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading