The Economics of Perdition
Part Seven of
CATHOLIC IDENTITY CRISIS IN THE USA
American Catholicism is in moral and financial bankruptcy because those responsible and those blindly following have put all their eggs in one basket in shopping exclusively at stores of convenience and tolerance. If they look up they'll see they are in WoeMart because they have foresaken the dividends built up in the True Church by those who preceded them. Will they realize before it is too late that they have wasted their treasures and talents on foolish things and have become faltering fodder for perdition?
"We are consumers in the moral marketplace, producing, buying, and selling ideas, views, positions, and codes of conduct based on whatever our view of efficiency and cost are. This society increasingly buys a secular view of that cost, and therefore, following traditional economic theory, defines success in terms of reducing secular cost. Such a view demands a rejection of the eternal, the spiritual and, above all, God. The only path to salvation is one that defines moral cost in eternal terms. Such a view is clearly consistent with God's Word and Will and Christ's example and sacrifice. This second view favors love and service of others over love and service of self. Taken in this context, we see that it is not the "customer" who is always right, but God Almighty!"
It is said in every economics textbook that in a genuinely competitive economy, the company that ends up selling a good is going to be the one that produces and therefore sells that product at the lowest cost. As chronic sinners in constant need of redemption, mercy, and forgiveness, we are consumers in the marketplaces of sin and salvation, constantly making decisions as to which moral products, ideas, courses of conduct and behavior, and paths to take. Accepting the notion that even the greatest saints sometimes made wrong moral buying decisions, we must temper our self-frustration with a dose of patience and determination to get up and continue our struggle to follow our Savior.
At the most basic level, however, our moral decisions in this world's moral marketplace are nothing more than scores of mini-buying decisions based on perceived cost. Once we acknowledge, accept, and consider this fact, we will be better prepared to understand and grow from this reality turning our own human weakness into motivation to seek the strength of Christ. Following Christ's path to salvation, then, is not so much a question of shedding our human weakness as much as accepting, understanding, and overcoming that weakness by shifting our definition of moral "cost".
Secular Moral Cost
As described above, traditional economic theory dictates that finding the lowest production and selling cost enables a company to present a good in the most attractive light thereby selling that good, making the most profit, and ending up the most successful. Ultimately, this is all about economic survival in the jungle of the economic marketplace. Reducing cost is the image of efficiency, order, effectiveness, and success. Conversely, the inability to deal with and reduce cost is the image of inefficiency, disorder, ineffectiveness, and failure.
Since this secular world only thinks in terms of earthly cost, anything which reduces such cost is the sure path to ultimate success.
This also accounts for the increased deficiency of product and the insane outsourcing which has not only further muddled the economic situation by taking jobs away from Americans, but only incensed callers trying to get help from someone in Bombay whose thick accent over the phone translates into something out of the Tower of Babel. Frustration has set in because of our own laziness and lukewarmness in the moral and secular marketplaces.
American Catholics especially have become slothful in looking for instant gratification in everything from the "quick Mass" at the local New Order temple to the microwave minute in the kitchen to the 250 channel-all purpose clicker so we don't have to move a muscle in the living room. We are feeding our souls and bodies with garbage. The more conveniences, the more the seven deadly Capital Sins gain entrance and permanent accommodation.
Compare your great grandparents' world compared to your own. Look today how many have "anger management" problems, all stemming from our impatience and giving in to the deadly sin of Anger. Our media and entertainment is replete with "in your face" anger mentality. It is on TV, in music, in programming, newspaper editorials, and especially video games. Look at all the mental problems so prevalent today.
Then there is Envy, a great cause of anger. Look at the commercials and print ads. They are designed to make one envious of his neighbor, to demand that if he doesn't keep up with the Jones, then he is worthless. Never is God considered as the final arbiter of this evaluation. Never is God even brought into the equation unless it is done in a profane or blasphemous manner. Our great grandparents knew that God would not be mocked.
This envy has made convenience mandatory. Look how fast food and processed junk have opened the door wide - yes, our doors are wider these days to make room for more ample girths waddling through - to make so many guilty of Gluttony for healthy home-cooked meals from scratch have become a thing of the past and in this shucking of healthy customs, we have become fat and flabby - out of shape physically and especially morally.
We are all aware that the morally right thing is not always the easiest, most convenient, or most comfortable thing, and therefore it is easy to see why secular moral thinking quickly detaches itself from true, genuine, rational morality in favor of relativist, distorted, false morality. The New Order is firmly based on reducing cost in terms of secular discomfort, disunity, disorder, displeasure. It defines "cost" as whatever makes waves, creates discomfort, causes friction, puts limits, or judges' behavior. Furthermore, this New Order likewise defines cost as whatever isolates, obstructs, limits, or harms success in secular terms. With the modern New Order church not wanting to offend, they have backed off of being a "contradiction to the world."
Using the above analogy, it is costly to step away from the crowd, to stand up for some moral principle, to isolate oneself from popular notions, to claim absolutes over flexibility, to seek and speak truth over spin, to increase one's discomfort, spurn unity at any cost, reject immoral unity, create disorder in the service of conscience, and walk away from pleasure. At the end of the day, anyone, anything, and any institution which ignores this secular cost does so at its own peril and will surely be labeled as foolish, stagnant, intolerant, outdated, unsuccessful, and doomed. This label and perception is then seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy toward downfall and extinction. It is for this reason that society rejects traditional Catholic doctrine, and that lukewarm, modernist, false Catholic thinking wimps toward secular, popular, and relativist positions. In order to justify its position and illustrate the foolishness of ignoring secular cost, society merely points to a half-naked man crucified on a cross or images of martyrs and saints perishing or suffering in defiance of society's definition of cost. Any person, group, institution, or society that buys and incorporates this secular model of cost will progressively develop moral amnesia and spin toward perdition while intoxicated in its false, distorted sense of morality.
American Catholic Cost
This exodus from truth and common sense, from the necessary moral structure has led into the deadly sin of Sloth which makes us only lazier where American Catholics are so slothful that they don't even want to get up to go to church on the Lord's Day. Instead, thanks to an accommodating, irresponsible and worldly-oriented New Order hierarchy, Saturday evening "masses" are the rage. Why? So they can go out and party all night after giving God one hour out of 168 hours in a week! Some don't even do that! Maybe that is why God has withdrawn His graces and protection from so many American Catholics because they have considered their religion from the convenience perspective. They seek the easy road to Heaven. I have news for these clueless ones: there is no easy road to salvation! Christ confirmed that unless we take up our cross and follow Him daily on the narrow, hard path, we will be taken in by the faux roses that beneath hold the thorns that will scar us and detour us on that wide path that leads to perdition.
The deadly sin of Pride comes into play when we think we know better than God. It is as ancient as man himself. Pride prompts people to lie, steal, cheat and dull their moral conscience because today tolerance and diversity have been distorted and humility is no longer a virtue, but a weakness in the eyes of the world. This is especially true in America where the U.S. Bishops, instead of donning sack-cloth and ashes and urging their flocks to do penance and self-mortification, live in ivory towers while they expect to be afforded luxuries from the collection plates. We all know those funds are going to cover up and pay for these very same sins. Remember Adam and Eve? Pride did them in.
Another deadly sin that has made us morally bankrupt is Avarice, which, sadly has not only become synonymous with the United States today, but modern American Catholicism. Look at the ugly, sterile churches being built today. In no way do they resemble the churches our great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents built and paid for with their blood and sweat. Those churches, in fact, are being torn down or sold off to pay for the avarice of the morally corrupt today.
Much of that can be traced to the most offensive deadly sin today: Lust! Our Blessed Mother told the children at Fatima that more souls are in hell for the sins of the flesh than anything else. That was 88-years ago. Look at the world today and shudder. The modern New Order church is imploding because of lust. The American Catholic church is literally going bankrupt financially and morally. The Archbishop of Boston Sean O'Malley just admitted that funds earmarked for the priests' pension fund went "for other things" - read, hush money. Now, Boston is going to sacrifice the aging presbyters at the altar of desperation to save their own hides. Maybe O'Malley thinks if he can be as irresponsible as his predecessor Cardinal Bernard Law he'll get off the hook with a cush assignment to Rome. Meanwhile, the sex scandals continue unabated despite the denials. Homosexuality is more rampant in society than ever before and in the American Catholic church it is a severe problem. Just this week it was revealed that the Archbishop of Miami John Favalora is suspected of covering up rampant sodomite priests there where some reports indicate between 70-80% of the presbyters there are homosexuals. What does that say for the spiritual welfare of the souls in south Florida? Multiply that by so many other dioceses and we can see God is no longer protecting them because they have abandoned Him, His Church and His moral laws.
Look at how over the last 40 years or so they have relaxed the rules and disciplines about sexuality. Had they been a strong moral force in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was unlawfully passed, perhaps abortion would be a thing of the past. Had they kept to their priestly vow of chastity, there would be money galore to feed the poor, to fund missionary efforts throughout the world to bring the Faith to those who are applauded for remaining "strangers to Christ" and instead of converting, are applauded and encouraged for their Muslimness, Jewishness, Protestantistic ways or pagan ideals. I kid you not. Rome has issued numerous "official documents" praising these non-Christians all in the spirit of dialogue.
Isn't it time they dialogued with Christ and His teachings? Had they remained loyal to being shepherds, perhaps divorce would not be so rampant. I know one thing for sure, there would have been many, many, many more nuns and priests today had they stuck with what the Church had taught for 2000 years. Because they did not, we are left with the modern convenience conglomerate of "Woe-mart" - anything to accommodate man's insatiable pursuit for instant gratification in this world. Nowhere is this more prominent than in the United States.
Eternal Moral Cost
Rather than reject our initial economic truth that success is found in reducing production and selling costs, eternal cost theory simply guides us to a different view of what that cost actually is and where that cost is found. Instead of defining that cost in secular, earthly terms, eternal cost theory clothes its cost in eternal and spiritual terms.
Cost is seen as isolating oneself from God rather than isolating oneself from society, losing Christ rather than losing popularity, embracing discomfort for Christ rather than fleeing it for societal acceptance, thinking in terms of eternity rather than immediate goals, seeking the riches of heaven rather than those of this earth, and worshipping The Creator rather than the created.
Taken in this context, the religion or belief system that ends up saving souls will be the one that produces and sells the genuine good at the lowest possible eternal cost. In other words, earthly popularity, earthly unity, earthly comfort, and earthly acceptance should matter little to any true faith as they are not the currency of salvation. Only those things, beliefs, and conducts that lead to salvation are worth fighting for, regardless of secular opinions or arguments. To the extent that any faith allows itself to be guided by secular currency, that faith will debase, distort, and corrupt itself away from eternal cost and toward secular cost thereby losing its moral compass, moral legitimacy, and moral qualification.
The Only Solution
Given the above arguments, it is clear that the only hope for salvation on an individual or societal level is to return to an eternal moral cost model while maintaining the basic premise that success is based on reducing cost. Instead of defining and perceiving success as reducing secular costs, however, we will seek that which reduces eternal moral costs. Our present course is not unlike the dieter who is told to eat less and therefore reduces his vegetable and fruit intake while maintaining his fat and cholesterol intake. We are placing our marbles in the wrong moral bag. If we see cost in secular terms, Good Friday is a fiasco, Easter a myth, and mirrors the only windows to what matters. Once we see cost in eternal terms, Good Friday becomes a sacrifice, Easter becomes a payoff, and humility, service, and love become investments in salvation.
We are consumers in the moral marketplace, producing, buying, and selling ideas, views, positions, and codes of conduct based on whatever our view of efficiency and cost are. This society increasingly buys a secular view of that cost, and therefore, following traditional economic theory, defines success in terms of reducing secular cost. Such a view demands a rejection of the eternal, the spiritual and, above all, God. The only path to salvation is one that defines moral cost in eternal terms. Such a view is clearly consistent with God's Word and Will and Christ's example and sacrifice. This second view favors love and service of others over love and service of self. Taken in this context, we see that it is not the "customer" who is always right, but God Almighty!
NEXT: PART EIGHT: North, South, and In-Between
Columns in this series thus far:
Editor's Note: Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, submits regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes are music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.