Sunday-Tuesday
August 8-31, 2004
vol 15, no. 165

Bad News for Modern Man


      Notes from an inmate of Prison Earth - An Honest Assessment for the Stout of Heart

An Essay on the Uncommonness of Common Sense

By Father Lawrence Smith

The Vicious Circle or it takes a village to validate the village idiot!

      "It is distressing to realize that poor people eat poorly because affordable food is generally less nutritious. The poor disproportionately patronize fast food establishments where the food is notorious for its lack of nutritive value. To increase the earning power of poor people, entry-level positions are created in fast food establishments. In order to provide these jobs, marketing campaigns are mounted to increase the attractiveness of fast food, usually by offering larger or free servings. Poor people are especially attracted by these campaigns because their food dollar can be stretched further. Fast food establishments do quite well for their bottom lines, and thus are able to hire more poor people at entry-level positions."

      For reasons I wish did not so readily lend themselves to conspiracy theories, Americans of a singularly broad variety are against people bringing the education of their children into the homes of their children. Homeschooling has become the contemporary version of the family in the fifties without a car, the family in the seventies without cable, the family in the nineties without a divorce. A bizarre peer pressure is being applied to get people to do things that are definitely unnecessary and arguably lethal, such as going into debt for transportation, importing moral pollution into the family room, rending asunder what even God is incapable of destroying, and exposing one's offspring to the secondhand irresponsibility of the parents who send their children to the average public, private, or parochial school.

      "Moderns can not feed, house, clothe, rule, teach, or entertain themselves. Nor can they understand themselves. And, oddly enough in a worldview predicated on evolutionism, moderns can not change themselves. Hurtling down a road to who-knows-where, armed with all of the material might the latest science can offer, equipped with every kind of freedom that hubris can imagine, modern men are convinced that man does not change, that greed will rule his economics, that hate will rule his relations with other nations, that lust will rule his libido, that envy will rule his notions of self worth, that naked desire will rule his aesthetics, that despair will be his end."


    Fifty dollars is all I have ever received for any of my articles, essays, or whatnots. That was about five years ago. Not a dime before, not a penny since. About six years ago, three of my poems were chosen as winners in a small contest, for which I received a check for six dollars, two dollars per prize. So, my grand total of remuneration for my artistic, philosophic, and polemic efforts comes to fifty-six dollars U.S. Don't laugh - rendered in pounds sterling or euros it's even more pathetic.

    This does not bother me. I write because I have something on my mind that I want to get off of my chest. If others are foolish enough to pay for it, so much the better. Perhaps it is a comfort to the world to know that such foolishness has happened but rarely. If others are dumb enough actually to print my rantings, that is just an indication that insanity indeed can be contagious. My spread of infection more than counterbalances the aforementioned lack of folly among editors and comptrollers of periodicals and other publications.

    An instance of the virulence of the contagion of which I am a carrier is the recent request from a friend to allow some of my writings to be posted on his website. Several friends have asked this sort of thing over the years. In addition, no fewer than five periodicals have had me as a regular contributor, gratis, to their pages at various times in the last decade.

    While mulling in my mind whether or not I wanted to mount the effort needed to compile the sort of things this friend might find worthy of cyber-space, that is, meritorious of being given room on the web, it occurred to me that this particular friend actually makes some money from his site. He wants me to provide content for which he will be compensated by his readers. It then dawned on me that the same has been the case for my diocesan newspaper, local newspapers for which I have written in parishes where I have been assigned, and the handful of conservative and traditional papers and magazines that have featured what passes for thought from me. No one has gotten rich off of me, but all of these entities have infinitely more money pass through their hands due to their publishing activities than I receive for my contributions thereto. Even a penny is infinitely more than a nothing.

    Now, it is not lost on me that costs must be covered, salaries paid, and proper postage affixed. I do not begrudge these people making a living. It just happened that this morning it popped into my head that what I have always done for fun, for interest, for sadism to my fellow man, is endeavored by others for monetary gain. Maybe they do not gain much by way of cash, true, but I assist them more toward accomplishing that end than any of them have shown a desire to aid my attempts at pleasure, intellectual stimulation, and/or inflicting my afflictions and discomfiting the conformable.

    Priests are more than well fed, adequately housed, and easily garbed. It does not come into my mind to refuse to write something for someone when I am asked. It is yet further from my mind to expect that they will pay me. It is as far from my mind as a geocentrist is from a heliocentrist in their worlds-view to think to ask to be paid for my writing. Besides, what I print on paper is worth just as much as what the Federal Reserve prints on paper.

    What hit me in considering my friend's request was that he and many in my acquaintance loathe what they must do in order to get by in the world. They do not want jobs, mortgages, and property taxes/income taxes/sales taxes infesting their lives. Quite a few of them mount some kind of money-making venture or wage-slavery so as to get the prince of this world and his minions off their backs, allowing them two or three minutes a week to love their wives, play with their children, and think two thoughts back to back.

    It was in contemplating this reality, not with a small amount of pity, that I had what the trite and modern would call an "Aha!" moment. Buddhists and new-agers might term it a small enlightenment. For me, it seemed more a realization of just how bad things are. This is a relief. I'm glad to know that I am not so crazy as not to recognize insanity when it assaults me. This it has been doing for almost forty years, and for most of that time I have made others mad by calling the mad world mad. The more I call it what it is, the more I see it for what it is. This place, ladies and gentlemen, is a loony bin.

    For those of you yet only partially convinced, let me try to lessen your insanity by demonstrating the ubiquity of insanity in our lives. Only the blind, willfully insane, and comatose will fail to understand. Only the demented will fault me. Only the devil's own will argue with me.

1) Moderns Can Not Feed Themselves: Money does not grow on trees, but food does!

    Until roughly 1950, most Americans lived on farms or in rural towns. For three-quarters of our country's history, most of the, ahem, citizens, I use that word under the duress of not having just one word that can encompass slave-subject-felon, grew food, ate food that they grew, and sold food that they grew that they could not eat. Included with that number were the tradesmen and laborers who directly supported food-growing and food-selling activities.

    Since the middle of the just ended and benighted twentieth century of unhappy memory, things have changed. For the period from about 1950 'til about 1980, most Americans called a city home. A shift occurred in the last two decades or so in which suburbia overtook urbia, resulting in most Americans moving back in the direction of the country, while bringing all of the amenities of the city with them. Where farms and farmers once flourished, one now can find pavement, malls, and high crime statistics. Replacing the quaint customs of barn-raising, hay-baling, and skinny dipping in the local water hole is an epidemic of methamphetamine labs, drunken hot-rodding, and fallow land making a "profit" by dint of the government paying the (corporate) farmer not to farm.

    Most Americans do not know where their next meal is going to come from. No, there is not a famine o'er the land. This ignorance is from the fact that most American meals are pre-packaged, highly processed, ready-to-eat travesties; or expensively advertised, really fattening, barely nutritious fast-food; or chemically-engineered, industrially produced, largely tasteless offerings from Agri, Inc. Twinkies do not fit into one of the four food groups; Big Macs, Buckets of Original Recipe, and Thirty-Minute-Delivery guarantees do not have their corollaries in memories of Sunday dinner at Grandma's; and Mother Nature never intended tomatoes to be available year-round. The average American lives a life of thrilling spontaneity, wondering in what neon shade his next bottle of catsup will be, which summer blockbuster will be served with his oversized fries, and how much more he will pay for his wine to cover the litigation costs over copyright infringement alleged by the blush-grape-growing region of South Madagascar against the pastel-grape-growing region of Old Prussia.

    Mystery meat is not the only mystery in Americans' quest for sustenance. Not only does one have difficulty knowing what one is eating, whence it came, and who created it, but one is in a constant dither about whether or not and how much one should eat of any given food. Coffee drinking both hurts the heart and increases intellectual acuity - bad for the heart, good for the head. Fat contributes to high blood pressure but a high-fat/low-carb diet helps with weight loss, which in turn reduces high blood pressure - bad for the heart, good for the hips which is good for the heart. Leafy green vegetables should be eaten in greater quantities unless they are doused with chemical pesticides that might cause cancer, in which case one should eat organically grown produce, but that costs more, so one might not be able to eat as much of them, leading to cancer anyway and expensive chemotherapy treatments that one can not afford unless one gives up food, which is typically fatal - cancer costs lives but fighting cancer costs bucks, and without bucks no one can live in this topsy turvy world.

    It is distressing to realize that poor people eat poorly because affordable food is generally less nutritious. The poor disproportionately patronize fast food establishments where the food is notorious for its lack of nutritive value. To increase the earning power of poor people, entry-level positions are created in fast food establishments. In order to provide these jobs, marketing campaigns are mounted to increase the attractiveness of fast food, usually by offering larger or free servings. Poor people are especially attracted by these campaigns because their food dollar can be stretched further. Fast food establishments do quite well for their bottom lines, and thus are able to hire more poor people at entry-level positions.

    Until it is seen how sick and fat people are becoming because of their horribly unhealthy diets. Fast food establishments are taken to task for their marketing schemes and for their veritably poisonous menus. The lawsuits shut down quite a few restaurants. Closed restaurants fire entry-level employees. Fired employees are poor. The poor are left with little money with which to purchase any food, healthy or un.

    Government and industry attempt job training programs. Food stamps and welfare checks are doled out. Schools have their curricula beefed up. Small businesses are encouraged. Tax incentives are given to women and minorities to go into service sector, middlemen retail ventures. Surplus food is given away. Charitable organizations open up food pantries. Supermarkets, restaurants, and food processors are begged not to throw away unsaleable food, but to donate it instead to the needy. All in an effort to find work for people so that they can find food for themselves, or just to hand the food to the helpless.

    Thus far it has not occurred to anyone that having people farm for themselves is perhaps the most efficient way to get food to the hungry.

2) Moderns Can Not House Themselves: Don't buy a house for the family to live in if buying the house kills the family!

    Houses generally are built of wood, stone, brick, or in combinations thereof. Houses generally are built on lots slightly bigger than the houses themselves, allowing in most instances space for but a modest yard. Houses generally are built to ward the ill effects of the elements, to provide security for the dwellers therein, and to promote a sense of happiness and wellbeing.

    As well, houses generally are built for the occupants to use for, on average these days, five years. Houses generally are built for the profit of developers, construction companies, and banks. Houses generally are built at a cost that results in the buyer spending thirty years paying off the principal (two or three times over at least) and the interest. Houses generally are built with the idea in mind that the debtor will leverage his debt into a larger house one day and/or borrowing power for greater indebtedness as the years go by. Houses generally are built as part of the engine driving a boom economy; houses generally are not built when the economy goes bust.

    Another way in which houses generally are not built is by their occupants. Most home "owners" do not know the first thing about drywall and laying foundations. Houses generally are not built for the use of people who will do much more with them than sleep in them and argue over them in divorce proceedings. Houses generally are built for use by people who spend a third of the day at work or school, an eighth of their waking hours in various modes of transportation, a quarter of the day in some kind of "recreational" activity more often than not involving inordinate attention being given to lights dancing across a screen of some sort, and the bulk of any remaining time complaining about all of the things that need to be done around the house that never seem to get done. Additionally, these people who have mortgaged themselves to an enormous debt for the house, who work ridiculously long hours to service the debt for the house and to meet life's other pressing needs, and who point to their "dream home" with great pride and a sense of accomplishment long before the bank surrenders title to them - these people go to malls, amusement parks, and wilderness areas because home is so boring.

    Some people in human history have had the novel idea of building houses in the country. There they build their dream homes themselves, according to their specific needs and abilities, not according to a developer's set of variations on a theme. These houses are situated on land that is ample enough to offer an acreage for growing food, space for children to run about in, and for untamed environs where animals, creeks, and curious humans can roam about unfettered.

    Houses built under these conditions are not subject to a tyranny known in the United States of America as the property tax. Productive land might well have a levy placed on the produce, but none of the inhabitants of places where such houses are welcome would dare think that land can be taxed just for being landed on by a house and family. A house constructed in these circumstances is considered the property of its builder, who is not to be reduced to being the renting tenant of a government entity in perpetuity.

    And as the property of their builders, these houses are at the disposal of said builders. If one of them would like to add a room, he may do so without consulting the local owners' association. If one of them would like to drain a marsh so as to plant corn, he may do so without asking the permission of a government bureaucrat in charge of wetlands, deserts, and the oppression of citizens. If one of them would like to stay in the house his whole life and hand it down to his eldest son to hand to his eldest son, then he may do so without worrying that the exercise of the absurdity of eminent domain will result in his back forty becoming the fast lane on the new highway to MegaMallUSA. If one of them would like to build his house in such a way that it would require his three older boys to take turns carrying Grandma up and down three flights of stairs to and from her bedroom each day, he may do so and his sons should thank him in his dotage for teaching them to honor their elders and to be conscientious in performing the corporal works of mercy.

    Boredom is not allowed in houses built to these specifications. The land needs care. The buildings need maintenance. The people need not look far to see the next thing that needs doing. One of the delightful things that will need doing on a regular basis will be the spontaneous decision, over which no one has veto except one's own common sense, to do absolutely nothing right now.

    What is allowed in these houses and their environs is their full use. Hunting and fishing need no permits. Campfires can not be forbidden. Cottage industry carries no regulation. The castle's king, the husband/father, has no royal oversight commission empowered by his fellow kings from their neighboring castles - nor does he exercise such interference in their domains.

    There are historians who can tell tales of a time when the peasantry abode in such circumstances. It will be pointed out that vermin frequently shared space with families - much like the lice that run through third grade classrooms in our day or the legendary sewer rats of New York City terrorizing the inattentive or the gads of termites fumigated every five years in posh suburban homes near Los Angeles. It is a fact that the average medieval peasant lived in what would now be called a hovel, resembling in most respects the public housing available in big cities throughout the United States - with the major difference being that the medieval peasant owned his hovel and could not be put out of it. Marauding hordes might beset a medieval village from time to time, true, but there was never a knight on every street corner inspecting each passing donkey cart for hemlock or eye-of-newt - gang graffiti, the highway patrol, and home (in)security systems attest to a different reality in the twenty-first century. Peasants were indeed bound to the land, but they also knew nothing of RIFs, outsourcing, or chapter 11 reorganization.

    Modernity is rather unimaginative. Suggestions that our society might return to the medieval understanding of property rights is met with an instantaneous dismissal as if such would mean a return to medieval understanding of indoor plumbing. The medieval man would not have balked at modern notions of "home improvement". It is very sad that modern man thinks that not owning, not using, and not building his own home is an improvement. Such modern ideas of "progress" are to any but the modern mind unimaginable.

    Exile was among the worst of nightmares for the medieval man. To lose one's home, family, and friends was to lose one's identity, one's very self. The little boy growing up in the modern suburban dream home dreams of the day when he can finally escape and be on his own in an apartment in the big city. The little girl growing up in the modern dream home in the big city dreams of the day when she can finally have a family in the suburbs. The woman commuting from the suburban dream home to her office tower downtown dreams of the promotion, coupled with alimony, that will allow her to move her two children and herself to a condo uptown. The man out of work and living in an apartment complex has dreams of selling his suburban dream home so as to move the ex and the two kids to a cheaper place and ease his support payments. When one has no home, one likely will have no family, no friends, and no sense of self to lose.

3) Moderns Can Not Dress Themselves: Trust not the cravings of an impure heart!

    Few have commented on the power exerted by women over the ages by virtue of the old saying "clothes make the man". This is less an issue of clothes making the man than of the woman making the clothes. From infancy, women dress men to suit their tastes. It is Mommy who chooses Junior's jump suit. It is Mom who sewed his first pair of pants or brought him clothes shopping before kindergarten. It is fear of underwhelming the girls in the sophomore class that prompts Junior to have Big Sis show him which jeans to buy at the mall. His lovely bride picks out the wedding tux, vetoes the striped-and-polka-dotted tie he wanted to wear to the office, and burns those old jeans that are so yesterday's cool. And she will have Grandma knit a new jump suit for Junior Junior just like the one in Junior's baby pictures that make him look so adorable.

    Feminists, however, are abdicating almost all of the power that women once wielded over the closet. Women do not sew. Women are at the mercy of designers and department stores when it comes to sizes and styles available for themselves, their children, and the men for whom they shop. Women dress like men - either looking like slobs in the home, or mimicking men in the corporate boardroom where they claim to want to bring a feminizing element to humanize business. Women dress not like ladies, but like ladies of the evening when it comes to socializing, and then wonder why men treat them like so much flesh whose only purpose is for the pleasure of men, free to discard any woman - girlfriend, wife, or mistress - when something fresher comes along.

    When women did sew, they chose the fabrics, designs, colors, and styles of the clothing for everyone in the family. The one exception to this would be tailored men's suits, which change their overall appearance about as often as the moon changes its mind about which side should face the earth. Now that women do not sew, they, and everyone else, must buy clothes. Clothes, as with all other consumables these days, are made to the order of mega-corporations. These corporations are dominated by men. These men decide what "decisions" are available for women to make when dressing themselves and dressing their men.

    A slight tangent is necessary here. The kind of men making these choices are not the kind of men that would satisfy most women. The fashion "industry" is not noted for its emphasis on the masculine. This would not be remarkable were women to dominate fashion as they dominate nursing. What should concern more people than it does is the fact that America is being dressed by men whose primal urges tend in directions that healthy people would find disturbing, distasteful, and disoriented.

    Here is a slightly different tangent to the tangent. The mega-corporations producing the clothes no longer sewn by women do so in most unwomanly ways. Slave labor makes production costs very low and profit margins very high, while doing little or nothing to reduce retail costs. A large proportion of the slaves laboring for these corporations are children. Women in America buy clothes for their children made by other women's children whose monthly income would be insufficient to purchase a pair of shoes. The ability to make such purchases, rather than the necessity of providing such items herself, makes it possible for the American mother to be away from her family and at work (although this work is no longer in the American garment and textile industry, now virtually extinct). This is a reality she does not share with the Third World slave mothers because their children are just a few benches down in the same sweat shop, happy that the family has attained full employment.

    Women are told that they should aspire to be mathematicians and scientists. In happier, healthier days of western civilization, a far higher proportion of women excelled at dressmaking and sewing - highly skilled arts - than their husbands were able to find success as rocket scientists or doctors. Women are encouraged to go into business and politics. They often pursue careers in business wherein they appeal to women's homemaking skills; in politics they frequently emphasize the importance of the home and family; and in both instances they miss the irony that they no longer nurture their own nurturing skills and hire some other mother to mother their children. Women in the workplace and in government are supposedly the repositories of a mystical feminine key to universal beatitude. They discard the very things most readily recognizable as feminine - dress, homemaking skills, and empathy - in favor of participating in the very things that destroyed the traditional husband and father - unprincipled competition, displaced priorities, and exile from the home. Blurring the line between men and women has not brought a more feminine touch to commerce nor a stronger masculine presence in the home, but has dehumanized most aspects of modern public life and has all but crippled the modern family.

    "Dressing for success" has come to mean that women wear pants-suits and that men have forgotten how to put - or keep - their pants on. Women now see men as competitors and men see women as threats. Women have ceased to look to men as providers and companions while men no longer seek wives for themselves or mothers for their children. Women are replacing men in office suites and the corridors of power and men have absented themselves from the home and the responsibilities of fatherhood. "Unisex" does not mean that sex roles are interchangeable; it means that one of the sexes, the female, has come to usurp the position of the other, the male, and the male has taken advantage of the situation to be as demanding as the female has become. Women are demanding a right to help rule the world. Men are demanding the right to live in a world without rules.

    This is a world without real men or real women. Females now lack husbands, fathers, and helpmates, having instead bosses, employees, and clients. Males now lack wives, mothers, and helpmates, having instead one-night stands, mistresses, and old girlfriends. Children are thus taught never to grow up, continuing the childish insistence on having one's own way in imitation of the females in their lives, or continuing the childish insistence on instant gratification in imitation of the males in their lives. Somehow, this does not seem what St. Paul had in mind in Galatians 3:26-29 or in Ephesians 5:22-24.

4) Moderns Can Not Rule Themselves: When majority rule descends into mob justice, how does one overthrow the tyrant?

    This is a free country. Russia is now a free country. China is on the way to being a free country. Things are so free in Sweden as to make it a libertarians' paradise. Canada has recently codified in law certain practices which render our neighbors to the north a veritable libertines' paradise.

    What do these and so many countries around the world have in common bringing them such wonderful freedoms? Democracy! And where there is no democracy, there is Free Trade! Even China now recognizes private property! The Age of Aquarius must be just around the corner!

    Kings quickly become tyrants, we are told. Aristocracy is by definition unjust, it is preached. And Heaven help the nation afflicted with a theocracy governed by priests! None but the citizen has the right to rule. Democracy, of the people, by the people, for the people, must reign.

    It is the common man wherein wisdom truly resides. The sagacity of the commonfolk is unsurpassed by academe. If one seeks common sense, one should look no further than in the community. Elites are selfish where they are not being unjust. Only in the mob, I mean, in the majority are rights to be found and preserved.

    In our infinite collective wisdom we have discerned the justice of finding and preserving the right to commit child murder. Attempts to limit the most outrageous forms of abortion are underway, but little is done to insist that abortion is absolutely forbidden by Divine Law. The piecemeal approach to legislation that would reduce the number of abortions or make obtaining an abortion more difficult leaves in place the fundamental demonic principle that a child's life may be destroyed by his mother.

    Common sense as wielded by the common man has determined that sodomy should be legal. Several governmental units have extended to practitioners of unnatural acts the same legal privileges that are properly the domain of Holy Matrimony. This has been done repeatedly in the name of the citizens of this country without any consistent, broad-based, or effective opposition from voters. Further efforts in this depraved direction are promised and inevitable. Provision in American jurisprudence for the allowance of sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance is part of a larger assault against Holy Matrimony that includes self-abuse, fornication, contraception, and divorce.

    Mr. and Ms. J.Q. Public have decided to make God illegal. Legislators, executives, and judges have colluded in passing, enforcing, and interpreting laws that result in the elimination of an acknowledgement that God is sovereign over all creation, including the United States of America. Either through direct legislation that attacks the Faith, or through appointing judges known to be hostile to the Faith, or through a legal positivism condemned by the Faith, the people of this country have countenanced a power grab in their name, deposing God as the ultimate Lawgiver and Judge, and placing in His stead the sinful mandates of mankind.

    We the people of this country have irrational priorities. Fiscal concerns, entertainment activities, and immoral behavior can move citizens to recall officials, boycott corporations, and/or demand the passage of laws at odds with reason and sanctity. However, the fact that 4,000 children are murdered daily through legalized abortion causes barely a stir in the public debate, private consciences, or the activity of the Catholic Church. Sixty million Catholic Americans given three decades to do so have been utterly impotent to recall one sitting governor or President because he favors child murder. No outcry is heard from Bishops and priests about the decadent morality that permits sodomites to form curricula offered to children, even in Catholic schools. Businesses such as the Walt Disney Corporation feel no pressure from Catholics to alter their policies about immoral content in movies, music, and television. The National Education Association with around two million members is more effective in advancing its agenda than is the Catholic Church claiming more than thirty times that many members.

    Concerned citizens seem unconcerned that the politician kissing their babies today would have helped them kill those babies before or as they were born. The lips that made the promise to make abortions available to every mother are the same lips we let kiss our babies. Those same lips assure us that he has our best interests at heart, that he cares about the future of our babies, that we have the right to kill every baby to come if we so desire.

    What happens, then, if one of the plain Janes or simple Joes would like to run for and hold elective office at the state or national level and bring some real common sense to governance? S/he has no money. S/he has no name recognition nor money to gain access to the advertising by which s/he could increase name recognition. The media charging those large amounts for advertising would sponsor news reports criticizing Jane or Joe for lacking practical experience or sophistication or expertise. Laws, drafted by incumbents of the two major parties, make it difficult for anyone without a major party affiliation to get on the ballot.

    Then, of course, there is the problem of plain Jane's and simple Joe's fellows in the unwashed masses. They will be dubious that either has much of a chance of actually winning. The bulk of the electorate does not vote anyway. Those who do stubbornly cling to their party affiliations, and overwhelmingly reelect incumbents at every level. And no one pays much attention to the fact that practically every politician who wins office to serve in Washington, D.C., either goes in or comes out a millionaire several times over, in a rather significant contrast to the hordes back home in their tract houses, minimum-wage jobs, and children in public schools.

    If Jane or Joe wants to win, one of the major parties must be embraced. To embrace party politics is to toe the party line. Toeing the party line will mean that "some day", when enough power is had to effect real changes, never comes, because the party only lets those have power who will keep things unchanged. Both parties draw the line at controversy - elective politics these days are a tweedledee/tweedledum affair. Do you want abortion on demand or just up until the third trimester? The populace wants it that way, never wasting a vote on that insignificant third-party candidate who "has some good ideas, but he has no chance of winning". "Throw the bums out!" always means the other guy's bums - my bums are great.

    American citizens are admonished that small steps are necessary to make changes. Roe vs. Wade puts the lie to that. The American electorate is told that given time, decent candidates will use the system to make changes. Indeed, things have changed, from anti-sodomy laws on the books in every state in the Union fifty years ago, to the United States Supreme Court last year striking down as unconstitutional Texas' anti-sodomy law. Americans are encouraged to be patient as little by little the moral center of the nation shifts, which it in fact has. No-fault divorce, the Patriot Act, and interference with homeschooling families demonstrate that Americans en masse are more than willing to permit the dissolution of the family, to allow the government to trample on individuals' rights, and to condone the seizure of children from their homes for state indoctrination of them in mores opposed by their parents. As is so often the case with modern conservatism, what is occurring is not a repeal of the liberal revolution, but its codification and the window-dressing necessary to make it look respectable. Abortion remains legal, sodomy is now formalized, and divorce is commonplace among the commoners, I mean, citizens.

    The issue of the issues is an international phenomenon. Most Americans claim that abortion is a bad idea, but no serious challenge to it has been mounted in thirty-one years. It is unlikely that the average Russian is happy with the organized crime pervading the country as a law unto itself, but Russian law pretends that graft, bribes, and intimidation do not affect government in the least. China and Sweden share the curious trait of their respective inhabitants possessing very little by way of private property, though such ownership is perfectly legal in both countries. In China, there simply is not much produced for the Chinese to possess, almost everything of worth being exported; in Sweden, the taxman takes so much for the state that next to nothing is left over for the citizens.

    Abortion is bad, but it's not going anywhere. Crime is despicable, but it is dangerous to attack it. We're not rich, but we're fed. What can one person do about such big issues? The government says they're O.K., so who am I to object? You can't fight city hall. All politicians are corrupt. No one pays any attention to the little guy, anyway.

    It is the common man wherein wisdom truly resides. The sagacity of the commonfolk is unsurpassed by academe. If one seeks common sense, one should look no further than in the community. Elites are selfish where they are not being unjust. Only in the mob, I mean, in the majority are rights to be found and preserved.

    I stand corrected. It is only in the mob, I mean, in the majority that rights are to be neglected and relinquished. The people have spoken: it's just the way of the world…

5) Moderns Can Not Teach Themselves: Children should not be taught by people who do not teach their own children!

    Poor celibate priests are to be pitied because we can not marry and have babies. The joys of parenthood are denied presbyters by the oppressive patriarchs of the Catholic Church, presbyters to a man and men to a man. A Catholic priest might suffer from feelings of inadequacy and disappointment when reaching midlife without some kind of patrimony to whom to pass on his genes, his wisdom, his personality quirks.

    Moms and Dads, on the other hand, have the blessing of having as many children as they want, one or two at the most. Families have the invaluable gift of youthful energy and curiosity filling the home, except for the eight to ten hours each day that they are in daycare while the parents are at work. Married couples have the opportunity to share with the next generation all of the wonders and insights gleaned over the years, an opportunity promptly turned over to the public schools.

    Perhaps you have noticed the hullabaloo over the last decade or so about the possibility of computers making it possible for employees to earn their slave wages at home via the internet. Along those same lines, maybe you have heard the breathless reports this last year that internet commerce, by which people shop at home, now constitutes almost five percent of the entire behemoth that is the American economy. If you, unlike me, do not live your life with your head in the cultural sand, then you are surely aware that various digital technologies now permit your living room to be turned into a home theatre thanks to the DVD, plasma televisions, and a plethora of content providers including cable, satellite, and fiber optics.

    One would think that the prospect of working at home, shopping at home, and going to movies at home would portend the resurgence of other home activities. But, as our friends the French say, Mais non, mon ami! Americans are not flocking back to their dining rooms for family meals. There is not a shortage of front porches available for the latest McMansions. Caller ID features, answering machines, and cell phones multiplying ad nauseam are not a sign that Americans have taken to cocooning from the madding crowd in the comfort of their parlors, dens, and rec rooms.

    Many would assert that the option of being at home or of being on the go is the blessing of modern technology. These proponents of man mechanized would aver that it is a token of a newfound freedom that one can choose either to work late into the night, or to interact with one's children from the supermarket, or to record a favorite television program sans commercials, or all of the above. Modernity has seemingly solved the problem of being in two places at once by bringing thousands of places into the home, the auto, or the symphony concert during the slow movement.

    Such freedom is oddly lacking in one rather particular, prominent, and profound area of modern American life. For reasons I wish did not so readily lend themselves to conspiracy theories, Americans of a singularly broad variety are against people bringing the education of their children into the homes of their children. Homeschooling has become the contemporary version of the family in the fifties without a car, the family in the seventies without cable, the family in the nineties without a divorce. A bizarre peer pressure is being applied to get people to do things that are definitely unnecessary and arguably lethal, such as going into debt for transportation, importing moral pollution into the family room, rending asunder what even God is incapable of destroying, and exposing one's offspring to the secondhand irresponsibility of the parents who send their children to the average public, private, or parochial school.

    This is even more strikingly strange when one considers the explosion of materials available for the rare occasion of couples wishing to conceive, bear to term, and raise children. One can serenade a tot in utero with the melodies of Mozart, acclimate her budding genius to mathematics in the crib, and prepare his major league career shortly after his first step with the help of thousands of dollars' worth of home educational supplies easily had at Wal Mart, FAO Schwarz, or eBay, depending on your socioeconomic-technologic abilities. Loving, caring, materialistic parents will find support in catalogues, tax breaks, and the neighbors' competition in the task of readying their little ones to rush out into the world to be just like everyone else in the name of freedom, individuality, and self-assertion.

    Other parents, however, are decidedly left out in the cold when they decide that they know best when it comes to forming their children more perfectly in the image and likeness of God as the Lord has commanded us to do. It is not only the sneers of employees of the sundry educational special interests besetting the society that pose obstacles to parents who desire to school their children themselves. Mothers who teach in the home must endure the pitying gaze of their sisters in the womanhood who can not fathom why any modern, liberated woman would prefer her own flesh and blood to the blood and guts of the corporate board room. Fathers heading families where the children are not primarily but solely in the care of their parents find it necessary to learn how to fend off attacks from government bureaucracies, interference from directors of religious education, and parish priests reluctant to offer the Sacraments to children who have not been subjected to the whims of persons of whom parents do not approve. Children who are schooled in the home must overcome the disadvantage of…

    Would someone please tell me what the disadvantage of raising, educating, and loving your own children would be?!?

    Perhaps some parents object to the idea of their children being deprived of the chance to learn gang sign language. Maybe it is the case that there are parents who wish to be grandparents so badly that they will try anything, including exposing their kindergartners to "health" classes that amount to how-to courses in conceiving babies. It could be, I suppose, that the hearts growing fonder from prolonged absences demonstrate their parental affection by increasing those absences so that the children will experience that much more love when they see Mommy and Daddy for their half-hour of "quality time" before bed on alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays. Possibly parents are succumbing to peer pressure: since Step-Mom and Dad Jones get to be wage slaves and have no means to work productively from the home, it is only fair that Mom and Step-Dad Brown should be allowed to drop their blended family at the school bus stop with a group hug at the beginning of each day. Or, dash it all, it must be that public schools are just such swell places that the children are simply dying to get in - or out.

6) Moderns Can Not Entertain Themselves: If you can not stand to spend time alone with yourself, do not inflict that company on anyone else!

    The most oppressive rule in that most oppressive of rule-making bodies is the Catholic Church's enforcement of God's Third Commandment: Remember to keep holy the Sabbath. This means that one may not do servile work on Sunday, including dashing off that little report left over from Friday needed for Monday's meeting. This means that Holy Days of Obligation are to be observed in the same manner as Sundays, including the prohibition of servile work, such as doing the week's shopping instead of going to Mass. This includes understanding that the Lord's Day is not an odd celestial phenomenon in which a rotation of the earth occurs within the fifty-nine minutes of the early Low Mass with Father's abbreviated sermon; but the acknowledgement that twenty-four hours do a day make. This means, on pain of mortal sin, that you will pray, you will rest, you will enjoy your family and yourself and not tucker yourself out on needless work and worry! What tyranny!

    It is ironic to the point of hysteric bitter laughter that Holy Mother Church is accused of impinging on men's freedoms. She requires that at least one day in seven be spent in quiet, rest, recreation with the family, and communion with the All-Loving God. She has as one of her primary obligations the comforting of those whose lives are disordered, burdensome, and hopeless. Her highest law is that of charity, which commands that whatever a brother in need asks, for mind, body, or soul, must be given, at the risk of the selfish being damned for all eternity. She calls her children to imitate her Lord, who teaches that perfect love offers all of life and receives the reward of endless life, complete joy, and the vision of infinite glory.

    This, however, does not satisfy the modern sophisticate. He would rather have his boss insist that he miss his daughter's fifth birthday so that he can play golf with the big client being wooed in New York. His equally sophisticated live-in mate, the mother of his daughter, is upset, not because her unhusband is missing their child's birthday party, but because she can't find a new job. She wants to quit her current job because the couple's two-week old "accident" can't get into daycare until he's three months old, and her boss won't give her paid leave to stay with the baby until he's older. Without the job they can't afford daycare, which they need so that she can work. And she's not thrilled with her boyfriend right now, not because he's going to New York to play golf on their child's birthday, but because he wants her to have her tubes tied but refuses to have a vasectomy. She thinks it only fair that both of them end up mutilated. He thinks that even though she might not want to bear more children, he might still want to make some with another woman some day. That part about another woman bothers her less than him missing their daughter's fifth birthday. After all, she can always get another guy, but their daughter will only turn five once.

    Other examples of liberated, freethinking modernism include the hordes of people walking around with wireless chains attached to their ears. Butlers to the King of England answered bells at odd times, in inconvenient moments, and for strange demands. This is considered servile and undignified in contemporary society. No self-respecting, twenty-first century empowered citizen would willingly stoop to such depths of servitude. Instead, in the middle of meals, a bell goes off and they leap to respond to whatever command issues forth on their text-messaging service. A different bell goes off, the opening strains of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, for instance, and the modern freeman rushes to find out which out-of-state client desires him to leave the orchestra concert to discuss what was discussed in the conference call this afternoon. Yet another ring happens, and an emancipated denizen of modernity stops her friend in mid-sentence to speak on the telephone to the friend who isn't speaking to the friend that she is speaking to over coffee.

    In the home, the family exercises a newfound freedom unknown before electricity. "Daddy, tell me a story." "Sure, sweety. Bring me the DVD box and let's choose a movie." "Mommy, sing me a song." "Of course, dear. Let Mommy find our favorite CD and pop it in the computer." "Big Brother, come and play with me." "Sure, squirt. Let's go downstairs and get out the video games."

    Some demur and say that not everyone, for example, sings well, thus, recorded music is a real help for them. To this I respond: Then stop doing anything for your children! If only the best is good enough for little Jane and Joe, then they will hear nothing but the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for bedtime lullabies, Sir Laurence Olivier must act out the Brothers Grimm on rainy days, and Julia Child will prepare their afternoon snacks. I am firmly convinced that every child believes that his mommy's voice is the prettiest, her face the most beautiful, and her cooking the tastiest in the whole wide world! The only children who think otherwise were taught such lies by their own parents mouthing foolishness like, "I can't sing" or "I'm too fat" or "My cooking is awful".

    A bizarre phenomenon is occurring in our day. Everyone mouths platitudes about family values, but when it is suggested that people actually spend time with their families unimpeded by electronic devices, admission fees, or interstate-highway travel, suddenly the members of the family bear a familial resemblance to a herd of deer staring down a pair of headlights on the aforementioned interstate. No one has anything to talk about with their loved ones. No one has any common interests with their loved ones. No one knows their loved ones - and everyone shows very little interest in curing their mutual ignorance.

    Why not cook a meal from scratch together? How about a game of tag? Perhaps it would be fun to pop popcorn - in a skillet with oil on the stove! - and tell ghost stories in the dark. When was the last time you built a neighborhood of card houses? Wouldn't it be great if Mom, Dad, and the kids spent more time enjoying each other's company than in the company of ogres at work, bullies at school, and strangers in the living room?

7) Moderns Can - and Do - Worship Themselves: Smart men think the world is governed by impersonal laws of physics; wise men know the world is governed by the law of Love!

    White-lab-coated men scurry to various archaeological dig sites or stoop over microscopes or squint into the eyepieces of giant telescopes intoning arcane dogmas, such as the tautology "survival of the fittest", or the oxymoronic "multiple infinities", or the non sequitur "with so many stars in the universe, life must exist on other planets besides earth". Their acolytes are bound to receive, embrace, and parrot these and myriad other like phrases on pain of losing research dollars, being denied tenure, and having the epithet "medieval" hurled at them in polite scientific journals and the popular press. The faithful place credence in the doctrine of trained skepticism, applying to all assumptions except their own a blistering demand for proof of first principles. No one seems interested in the question, "Why should materialism be the governing philosophy of modern science?" And with that in mind, "Why should science, and thus materialism, govern the life of man, who is spirit embodied?"

    For some strange reason, actually in lack thereof, modern man prefers to live in a universe which is in the estimation of many respected scientists a random occurrence. Modern man finds comfort somehow in the idea that his own existence is the result of billions of years of flukes that resulted in his evolving. An origin in inorganic matter becoming so much mold transformed into giant ferns related somehow to jellyfish whose ancestors at some remove slithered through forests giving birth eventually to mouse-like beasties who one day ascended the trees who changed their minds and descended into subways, satisfies modern man's curiosity about whence he came. Whither all this leads is left unanswered - and by the rules set down by the randomness of physics, chemistry, and biology running the evolutionary processes, that curiosity is unanswerable. Men who rebel at the idea of obeying the dictates of divine commands humbly acquiesce when they are told that they must evolve or become extinct.

    If pond scum can become a sequoia, who knows what man might evolve into?

    I do! Evolution, if it is true, will result in man evolving into something inhuman! Proof of the moral truth of this is available in today's newspapers. The scientists tell me that the material proof of this is available in the human genome recently deciphered. My proof is a bit more accessible. And believable. And provable.

    The modern Godless approach to science is a regression to pantheism. Man is deferring to the elements, to the matter of creation, to faceless forces, and assumes their incontrovertibility in making his laws, raising his children, and understanding himself and his plight in the universe. The ancients perhaps appealed to Zeus or to fire or to the All. Moderns do the same by different names, calling their gods DNA or the nuclear weak force or string theory. Ancients and moderns alike see themselves as the subject of fate and determinism and just dumb luck.

    Impotence is the result. Moderns can not feed, house, clothe, rule, teach, or entertain themselves. Nor can they understand themselves. And, oddly enough in a worldview predicated on evolutionism, moderns can not change themselves. Hurtling down a road to who-knows-where, armed with all of the material might the latest science can offer, equipped with every kind of freedom that hubris can imagine, modern men are convinced that man does not change, that greed will rule his economics, that hate will rule his relations with other nations, that lust will rule his libido, that envy will rule his notions of self worth, that naked desire will rule his aesthetics, that despair will be his end.

    An epidemic of depression sweeps modernity. Pills are prescribed. None seems inquisitive about the cause of the worldwide sadness besetting us. Oh, yes, people talk about overbearing mothers and distant fathers and repressive cultures and oppressive economics and being potty trained too early, but what the final cause of all that might be is unaddressed. There is plenty of food to go around, if we would but share it. Technology allows for ease in construction, transportation, and medicine which could relieve the physical suffering of virtually everyone on earth. The sun is as beautiful today as it was for St. Francis, swinging on a swing is as thrilling now as it was when Grandma was a girl, falling in love happens more often in real life than in the movies. So, what is missing? Why is there so little happiness?

    Each man worships nothing or himself. There is no will to feed the hungry, to house the homeless, to clothe the naked. There is no will to rule one's own passions, to learn the true Faith, or to face the specter of the void that we have created in the very heart of the world made in our own image and likeness. A universe which is its own god has no god outside of itself, thus one must look within to see god. When modern man looks within himself, he sees a black hole, a vacuum, a pit. Nothing.

    So he turns on the PC, takes another Prozac, and continues to refuse to pray.

    This place, ladies and gentlemen, is a loony bin. But it is not filled with Napoleons, fruit bowls, or men from mars. It is the abode of the enraged, the frightened, and the suicidal.

    Anyone care to join me in a jail break?

Father Lawrence Smith



    August 8-31, 2004
    vol 15, no. 165
    REALITY CHECK