Worshipping the Earth, the New Paganism, Sexual Disorder

12-25-2022Weekly Reflection

A headline ran: “Neither Mother nor Goddess. Even Gregorian Chant Is Against the New Idolatry of the Earth.” Fulvio Rampi writes: One of the threads that can be discerned is the theme of the earth, meaning the regard in which Gregorian chant holds the “ecological question,” so to speak. The theme of the earth is dear to Sacred Scripture, which from the book of Genesis teaches us that man and the earth are placed by God in a close relationship with Him and with each other.

Man is formed from the earth, made of “dust of the ground,” but into him God breathes his spirit. In open contention with every ancient and new myth that would sacralize the earth goddess as ancestral mother, biblical wisdom recalls that man is indeed earthy, a fragile, transitory fruit of the earth, but he is not its child, because he is created by God. (emphasis added)

NOTE: Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc… Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God. Catechism of the Catholic Church #2113

Far from any idolatry, Israel and the Church therefore do not celebrate the earth in and of itself. Everything is a vehicle and a token that leads back to the One from whom everything comes. (emphasis added) All the institutes and events of salvation are gifts of the powerful breath of God, which starting from the creation of man continues to make this earth and its history fruitful, making it live and revive, beyond all its possibilities. Gregorian chant, in its flowing along the liturgical seasons, confirms precisely this interpretive key…This is what is proclaimed on the Fourth Sunday of Advent with the introit (Entrance Antiphon) “Rorate coeli,” (Sprinkle dew, O Heavens from above and the clouds will rain the Just One) …in this way the gift of God, which the Old Testament had identified in the gift of the earth, is transferred to the person of Christ. Human beings do not control the earth or the planet. They are simply stewards of creation which is God’s gift. There is no pagan worship of the planet or treating the planet as a goddess in some form of pantheism.

Chantal Delsol in her book The End of Christianity and the Return of Paganism points out: Our Western contemporaries no longer believe in an afterlife or a transcendence. The meaning of life is to be found in this life itself and not above it, where there is nothing. The sacred is found here: in landscapes, in the life of the earth, and in human beings themselves…Postmodern man wants to abolish distinctions, his preferred adjective is “inclusive.”… He feels the need to escape the contradictions between the false and the true, between God and the world, between faith and reason…Ecology today is a religion, a creed. Not because the current ecological problem should not be considered as scientifically demonstrated; but because these scientific certainties about climate and ecology produce irrational beliefs and certainties that are in reality religious beliefs, endowed with all the manifestations of religion…The new ecological religion is a form of postmodern pantheism. Nature becomes the object of more or less evident worship. Mother earth becomes a kind of pagan goddess, and not only among Bolivian natives, but also among Europeans.

She then notes the crisis in the Church: But at the beginning of the 21st century the Church is abandoning its role as guardian of moral norms and this latter is once again passing back to the state. The multiplicity of moral and religious beliefs that inhabit our countries – clearly visible through the diversity represented in the ethics committees – necessarily leads to an amplification of the role of political power. The latter, represented by elites as aware as they are active, is going back to being the guardian of morality as it was before the long period of Christianity. Today Westerners no longer want this safeguarding to be ensured by religions, by clerics. They prefer that neutral authority which is the state, which are the elites, institutional or of influence. This is why today the official “mainstream” is taking up the right to protect morality and to prevent its deviations, as well as to ostracize deviants. The talk shows hosts are the sentinels and sometimes the Cerberuses of common morality. (Cerberus in mythology is the watch-dog of the underworld) Not necessarily the producers, because morality comes from many sources, but the sentinels, those who watch over its execution. They have taken on the role that the bishops still played half a century ago. One fallacy here is the notion that the State is a neutral authority. It is not. It promotes a political-correctness-ideology, marxist in origin, as “religion” and hence there is the actual persecution of Christians and the movement to cancel people and movements not in accord with the latest “climate decrees’” for example, restricting and eliminating farms and the use of fertilizer and dining on insects.

Regarding the new paganism and sexual disorder, Letter 122 of the Moynihan Letters, December 12, 2022, is entitled:”From Shame to Sin.” There is this remark: The sexual chaos and idolatry conquered by the early church has come roaring back — and today’s Christians don’t know what time it is. It’s a commentary on an article by Ron Dreher where he discusses among other things a book called from Shame to Sin: the Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity.

He notes: The way we think and talk about sex ultimately reflects how we understand the human person, and beyond that, the unseen order undergirding all things human. It can't be escaped. Even strict materialists can be said to have a metaphysics, in that they have no metaphysics. I mean, if they believe there is no ultimate meaning beyond the bare material facts, that is a statement about how we are to understand our bodies and how we use them. Sexual morality is so fundamental to Christian social teaching that contemporary Christians who have cast it aside to assimilate to the post-Christian world's model can hardly be said to be authentically Christian. The German Catholic bishops are a particularly egregious current example, but there are many others, especially in Protestant Mainline, and now it seems Evangelicals are headed into stormy waters. There is a reason why when Christians give up Christian sexual morality, they sooner or later give up Christianity. The Biblical rules of Christian sexual conduct are inextricably rooted in a particular vision of what the human person is, under God, and how believers are supposed to treat the material world, their bodies (and the bodies of others) first of all. Whatever the German Catholic and Anglican bishops think, it is not possible to reconcile contemporary sexual morality, including homosexuality, with Christianity. It simply cannot be done. Those who believe it can are lying to themselves.

And they are also depriving the world of much-needed witness of the same kind that the early church gave amid the depravities of Rome. Reading Harper's book brought home for me how fluid erotic desire is and how it will inevitably be channeled by bounds set by law and custom. There never has been a sexual paradise, and never will be. Every society has to figure out how to govern sexual desire, which is immensely powerful. When directed properly, it is generative in many ways. But when it is ungoverned, it is profoundly destructive… As shocking as we find Roman pederasty, we are fools if we don't recognize that it is coming back right under our noses. It started in the schools, with LGBT activists pretending to want to create "safe spaces" to fight bullying. Now we see schools, as well as the news and entertainment media, promoting the sexualization of children with widespread and open propaganda around gender ideology. Drag Queen Story Hour is part of this campaign. This is also being fostered and promoted by the President of the U.S. and his political agenda for the country while he claims to be a Catholic.

While Dreher mentions Biblical rules regarding sexuality, it’s not simply about rules. It’s about the order of creation and the nature of sexuality as written into the human person not invented by humans. That order gives the meaning of sexuality as having a procreative meaning and a unitive meaning of a man and woman for the purposes of life-long fidelity and family-life. When the human being acts against this order he/she acts against himself/herself and causes damage to self and others. This is why the Lord teaches us to avoid sexual sin and all sin because it is contrary to the good of the human being as He created him or her. The current paganism sees pleasure alone as the reason for sexual expression, babies are not inherently part of that order, and sexual pleasure is simply as you like it. Anything goes. The result as mentioned in last week’s bulletin: devaluation of human life, children, family, and a great lessening of respect for women, not to mention fostering irresponsible men and a crisis of fathers. Countless children are growing up without fathers leading to crime and poverty. Often in the media fathers and men in general are ridiculed or seen as the enemy due to extreme feminist ideologies.

Thomas Aquinas points out the damage associated with the deadly tendency of lust: "blindness of mind, thoughtlessness, inconstancy, rashness, self-love, hatred of God, love of this world, and abhorrence or despair of a future world. The lustful person becomes blind to all else as he seeks to gratify his base desires; he becomes thoughtless, refusing to take advice even with himself about his evil way of living. Because his minded is blinded by his out-of-control desires he is inconstant. He can’t commit. Throwing caution to the winds he becomes rash in behavior to satisfy himself. By pampering these desires he becomes an egotist and he begins to hate God. Hating God, he comes to love this present world in which all his temporary wishes seem to be fulfilled, and to hate the next world in which he could find true and lasting happiness.

Dreher warns: Like the Roman pagans of the first century, their entire worldview depends on the way they view sex, which is an expression of how they view the human person, and indeed of all human reality. They will fight like hell for it, too, and fight without mercy Christians, Jews, Muslims, and secular people who, despite having no faith, nevertheless reject this neopagan worldview. What Christians (and others) have to understand is that we are contending against zealots of a new religion. They are teaching us, and our children, to worship strange new gods (or rather, familiar old gods in new form). And from what I can tell, the vast majority of Christian clergy and laity have no real idea what's going on, and are scarcely fighting back. That’s one of the big crises of the Church today: clergy and laity, who, while still claiming to be Catholic, in fact, have surrendered to the new “religion” becoming heretics and/or apostates from the Catholic Faith. However they will not prevail, because in the end the Lord of creation always wins. The only issue will be: who will be with Him? Next week: The New Totalitarianism aka Cancel Culture.