Toward the end of his life, I got to know William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist. He was a faithful Catholic, but very skeptical—or realistic—about man’s openness to revelation. He once wrote that if God
were to suddenly appear atop the Chrysler Building at the stroke of noon amid thunder and lightning after darkening the sun and then causing it to slash the incredulous sky with fiery figure eights and Immelmanns by way of showing its “Creator I.D.” before demanding we be kind to one another “or else,” for a time most who witnessed this would instantly “believe,” though soon enough they would doubt their own senses, citing “mass hallucination” or perhaps “wishful thinking on a stupefying scale,”….
Jesus, addressing the Pharisees, was similarly realistic in His parable of the rich man and Lazarus, saying that “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Revelation, whether as recorded in Scripture, or in history (as in Marian apparitions), or even in those odd moments where it seems as if some ineffable spirit is tugging at one’s sleeve, is weirdly (when you think about it) simply ignored or brushed aside.
Reason is unlikely, these days, to lead to belief either, because, as I wrote in these pages recently, it is impossible to reason with people for whom reason has no purchase. Indeed, one could, if one wished, write a book cataloging the inanity of the world in which we live: “And lo, they will deny the child’s humanity in the womb, deeming the child’s heartbeat a manufactured product of the patriarchy.” And, “Verily, I say unto you, take no counsel from those who say, ‘I lack biological training, and hence cannot define a woman, but, surely, men can become pregnant.’” Or “Trust not him who sharpens the surgeon’s scalpel or funds the pharmacist’s remedy and mutilates the child for the benefit of invented pronouns.”
We truly live amidst a generation of vipers who have feasted on hallucinogenic mice.
Philosophers talk about post-modernism. Political scientists talk about post-liberalism. But today we live in post-sanity America. And we all know—or should know—where this is heading. If we don’t, the Communist Minister of Equality in Spain helpfully pointed it out to us. Children, she said, should be able to have sex with whomever they want.
Democrats, and all those who rejoice in the “tolerance” and “diversity” of drag queen story hours, will inevitably soon start parroting this line. I can even write it for them: “Love knows no age.” Of course, it doesn’t. And a lot of the moral guardrails we take for granted won’t exist without Christianity, the outline of sanity.
So, what do you do when you live in a culture where, to an alarming degree, the institutions are run by lunatics—madmen and women who can wield power over you, no matter how much you try to evade them.
The first step, it seems to me, is to make sure we retain our own sanity and don’t get swept along with the crowd. Sanity is not to be taken for granted. As Marcus Aurelius wrote, “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
I thought the same thing when I first came to Washington, D.C.
The good news is that the leftist Kulturkampf inheritors of the villains of Fahrenheit 451 have not yet fully succeeded. You can still feed your imagination on the good, the beautiful, and the true from the past and inspire your courage to defend them.
And we still have a political voice. But we need to use it wisely. Remember this hard political fact: voting is a consequential act about who gets to wield power. Full stop. It should not be—unless you are content to lose—an expression of personal vanity, choosing just the right third-party candidate so you can flatter yourself that you are a person of pristine conscience. “Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”
And finally, when all else fails, we should get down on our knees and turn to the advice of a saint, in this case Padre Pio: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.” Or as Archbishop Charles J. Chaput put it:
If Jesus is the lord of the sabbath, he is also the lord of history. And sooner or later, despite the weaknesses of his friends and the strengths of his enemies, his will will be done—whether the Pharisees and Herodians of our day approve of it or not.
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