On Tuesday I posted about what I consider the primary symptom of life without God - Unreality.
In our daily lives Unreality seems rather harmless. If we create fictions and try our best to shore up and maintain them, the comfort we get from our make-believe is rarely outweighed by the negative consequences of living out-of-sync with the Truth, unless we become drug addicts or gambling addicts and something rather dramatic happens. Only occasionally does Real Life shove in our faces the Reality we've been avoiding. I knew a man, for example, who had a five-month fling with a young woman who had absolutely no real concern for him, and the illusion was quite pleasant until she revealed her true colors and left him suddenly and violently, with an open hole in his gut. The reality was obvious to any independent observer, but very easily ignored by him - for he was the beneficiary of the illusion. Likewise, those who live in the pleasant fiction that nothing they do with their bodies matters are rarely jarred awake from this pleasant lie until a heart attack or a stroke or something equally serious comes along.
But sooner or later we get checked. And even when the check is not sudden or dramatic, God's Reality (which I call Judgment) has a way of checking our Unrealities little by little every day. This "reality check" consists not so much of us "checking in" with Reality, but with Reality "checking" us, in the sense of a body slam that halts our progress. And when Reality can't intervene and check us, we suffer. I have known a few extremely wealthy people, and the worst thing their money does is shield them (and especially their children) from the consequences of bad behavior. You might say that Blank Checks can ward off Reality Checks.
And the same principle applies to groups - if we get what we want as a society - without the intervention of Reality - we become miserable, cruel and unhappy.
And the greater the Unreality, the bigger the Hell.
Perhaps the most tangible portrayal of hell in all of literature is George Orwell's 1984. Orwell's hell is a hell on earth, and it shows exactly what happens when this principle is carried out in society - the principle that devotion to Unreality makes us miserable and keeps us from anything resembling the Kingdom of God.
Orwell's dystopia is a culture that is devoted to Unreality. It is a satanic society, the one aim of which is power, for the purpose of becoming God and of destroying man.
"We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable,"
says O'Brien, the Inner Party member, who is in the process of torturing Winston Smith.
How is this philosophy different from what almost everybody believes today? We believe in "gay marriage" and trans-sexuals and the harmlessness of sexual license because we believe there is nothing called "human nature". "We create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable." There is nothing objective about who we are or why we were made. There is no design. There is no form. There is only one thing blending into another, for there is no "thing" there, distinct from any "thing" else. We believe in nothing, and in our power to mold the Unreality of life into the False Reality that suits us. We are gods, sad little gods in a sad little universe that just happened along by chance and the only thing we can do is indulge our appetites, and there's surely no harm in that, as long as we change our own protean forms to suit the demands of our will, our will that grows ever more perverse and hateful.
And we think we can do it. We think we can alter Reality itself.
And we think it will make us happy. But the more we get what we want, the more what we want turns vile, perverted, cruel and angry. Indulgence leads to spoiled children, and spoiled children are miserable.
'And do you consider yourself a man?'
O'Brien the tormentor proves to Winston that he is the last man by stripping him and leading him to a mirror, where Winston Smith sees the effects of months of torture and starvation - he looks like one of the ghost-like figures from Auschwitz. His hair is falling out. He is emaciated. He is filthy. His teeth are rotting. The torturer reaches in and yanks out a loose tooth.
'If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors.'
'Now turn around and look into that mirror again. Do you see that thing facing you? That is the last man. If you are human, that is humanity. Now put your clothes on again.'
This is Orwell's version of the Ecco Homo - "Behold the Man" or better ... "Behold Man!"
This is who we really are, at least when we "follow our bliss" and our bliss comes from Unreality and not from Him who is the source of all Reality. We are tortured, starved and robbed of love and compassion. Worse than that, we are the torturers, the manipulators, the tormentors.
This is what Christ showed us when Pilate brought him out bleeding and bruised and mocked and scourged. This is Man - both the starved and tortured man being held up to ridicule and death, and the well-fed authority figure who is putting him through this. This is man given his own way, bereft of the Way the Truth and the Life: he is a pitiless victim and a heartless victimizer. He is an aborted fetus and an abortionist pocketing the cash for the killing. He is a boy whose life is forever scarred by what the priest did to him in the sacristy and he is the same priest offering Mass and telling his parishioners what a great sin it is to spread rumors about him. He is Winston Smith, destroyed by a mad society hellbent on eradicating Reality, and he is O'Brien, the dehumanized "new man" who is placidly torturing him.
He is Christ crucified. And he is Pontius Pilate, crucifying Christ and washing his hands of the deed at the same time.
This is man, when man devotes his life to his own selfish desires, when man loves sin, when man loves what is Unreal.
|Behold - man!|