Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Denial of Being
In my latest post, The Stumbling Block of the Sacraments, I make the case that Christopher West and his followers do not have a sacramental worldview because they fail to see how certain sacraments effect an ontological change, or a change in being. Baptism, Holy Orders, Confirmation and Matrimony change who we are. But they don't see that, and since they believe Being can not change through grace, they are left to fall back on power and knowledge, which is all that's left.
In an earlier post, That Will Settle the Westians!, I point out that Matt McGuiness' derisive view of Confession, prayer and devotions only works if God's Law is extrinsic to His nature. If Goodness is not a part of God's Being- if our being good is not a way of communion with God's Being - then West and McGuiness are right to make light of their critics as Puritans and Pharisees. But Goodness and the Law are part of God's Being, and therefore we approach Him more closely the more we become truly Good.
In this post I'm trying to show the connection between the two previous posts. And that connection is this ...
1. A denial of ontological change and
2. A view of morality as something imposed from without, rather than as something expressed from within
are both not only possible but necessary points of view in a world where we have lost the concept of Being.
There can be no ontological change if there is no ontology. Our acts cannot grow out of our being if there is no being for them to grow out of.
The post-modern world sees everything as arbitrary and disconnected. If you don't like your gender, you can get your gonads cut off and go from BEING a man to BEING a woman - which is nonsense. Two men can marry because marriage is a social construct only - which is nonsense. What's true for you is not true for me because we live in different universes - which is nonsense.
But these days everything is nonsense because nothing is substance and everything is accidents. We don't believe in nature - especially human nature - because we don't believe in universals, the most obvious of which is "Being".
This is at the heart of so much of what is wrong with Christopher West and Matt McGuiness and their odd ambivalence toward pornography. Like all post-modern men, they see what we do as separate from who we are - therefore prayer and Confession and devotions are tricks, while "mature purity" is another kind of trick, but a good one, and one that you can get if you work hard at it and buy the books and videos and go to the seminars, and once you do the payoff will be that you've earned the badge that lets you lust with impunity and feel good about it; indeed you'll be proud of it because it's so spiritual. After all, "spiritual" is not something you are, but it's something you do, or something you get. And if they're right, then no wonder they say what they say. It would follow that we've got to go for it, because "it" is all there is.
Thus "gay marriage", arbitrary gender identification, moral relativism, the denial of the effectiveness of the sacraments, and the notion that all rules are imposed and antithetical to contentment - all of these things are a product of a very deep divide - the divide between the Catholic Church which recognizes and celebrates the goodness of Existence - and the modern world which, in a fundamental way, denies Existence itself.