Friday, October 20, 2006

Ship Without a Rudder

America has evolved to the point where decisions are determined based on public opinion. This method has not been debated but is assumed as the obvious consequence of the democratic ideal that is America. The American way is to decide an issue based on majority vote; the very system and heritage of the 'land of liberty' promotes this approach. In itself, this is not a bad thing. To the concern that a majority vote could lead to an immoral or dangerous result, we take comfort in the various checks and balances of the Federal system the center of our republic and our republican democratic ideal.

Yet when a culture is removed from the moral underpinnings of Faith, it is too easy for the 'safeguards' of the system to fail. Against the argument that Faith is restrictive and binds its followers to a narrow vision of life, we need only examine the opposite. Without Faith as a compass progress becomes directionless with every choice risking extinction.

However, it is sometimes charged Faith often does not provide the definitive answers society seeks. Instead of being the monolithic oracle that can answer every question, it is argued that Faith often fails to provide the compass-like guidance it proclaims, leaving society to grapple in a dark wilderness in search of answers.

Yet, it is not necessary that Faith should provide clear answers at the outset of a public debate; it is that Faith should guide the dialogue in discerning solutions in the public debate. If this obtains, the decisions of a society, guided by the moral reasoning of Faith, always result in a reality that is not only acceptable to the religious mind, but that is also revealed as ultimately inevitable and the product of firm of theological reasoning. The consistency and inner coherence of Faith guides without reducing human freedom. A society guided by Faith is a society guarded by reason, freedom and peace.

But what of a society that has cut itself off from Faith? Consider that "in the day" (as it is commonly phrased these days) it would have been unthinkable for abortion, divorce, gay culture, etc. to be considered normative, common and natural to the average person. It would be unthinkable to be confronted by ballot initiatives promoting this or that practice; practices formerly recognized as vices but today understood as liberties. In this reality Faith is not the temple of virtue and driving force of moral good producing guidance and security, Faith is the object of comfort and confirmation of utilitarian pursuits, driving personal gain and the elimination of true moral boundaries.

In a society where Faith has become a mere marketable product subject to the whims of fashion and devoid its power to transform superstition and irrational focus on the self becomes the sole motivating cause of change and ‘progress.’ In a culture where Faith itself is assailed and commanded to change and be changed by the shifting sands of public opinion that nation is set adrift, like a once mighty ship without a rudder.

In such a rudderless vessel, an argument founded in Faith seems unnatural, close-minded, and even blindly prejudicial. Without the "firm foundation" of Faith, society no longer voyages along the sea-lane of perfection but wanders the waters of wantonness. Without the moral absolutes of Commandments, the journey to justice is passed over for the meandering of immoral mediocrity. Without the Beatitudes there is only bareness, base utilitarian squandering of resources and the objectification of human personhood as prurient fodder for personal gratification. Ultimately, such a vessel must surely run aground. Its once might hull and mast crushed on the rock of a cold and angry shore. Without Faith society does not advance, it regresses.

Faith is essential for the true advancement of human society. Without Faith there is only wilderness, icy desolation and the isolated murmuring of existential nothingness. Instead of wholeness and transfiguration, we find only the empty desire for fulfillment and satisfaction. The emptiness of human existence, that unfulfilled life that finds no completeness or satisfaction in any experience, plods on seeking that which it can never have without the Divine.

That life which aches in the emptiness of the human life reduced to the meager existence of the animal;

That being created in a nobler image and hungering for Angelic Food which alone can nourish, while yet wasting away on the swill of debased debauchery;

That thirst which craves the Chalice of Immortality which only the One who shed His blood can give, while parched on the dregs of a cup fit only for the decaying decadence of degradation;

Lo, it cries out for a Savior.

Like the prostitute it clings to the feet of the One who alone can save while demanding to "go and sin no more."

Like the dead it awaits the One who alone can defy the conventions of modern imagination and issue the challenge, "Lazarus, come forth!"

Like the prodigal, it awaits the moment when it will come to itself and cry out "How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger!"

In that moment, there is repentance.
And in repentance there is hope.

In that turning, there is forgiveness.
And in forgiveness there is commitment.

In that renewed society there is salvation.
And in salvation there is love.

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