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Boston Catholic Journal - Critical Catholic Commentary in the Twilight of Reason
 

 

 

Why we have Lost God

Hand print

The Primacy of Matter

and the Loss of Faith

 



We live in a world of matter
 

Matter is the substance of the senses. It is apprehensible. We touch it, feel it, manipulate it, make things of it, and even destroy it (yes, I know the principle of “the conservation of matter,” but you get the point.) It is tactile, sensuous, and often pleasing to the eye, the touch, and our other senses. It alternately excites us and repels us. It is what we see when we open our eyes, what we feel when we touch anything.

It is the world we know

Increasingly, it is the only world we know. Every other “possible world” has receded before the incursion of the senses and the accompanying demand for instantaneity: pleasure now, satisfaction now, information now, fulfillment now — and on a broader level, peace now, justice now and equality now. We have all heard the political and social mantra that first came to us from the tumultuous and purple-hazed 60’s by now, and we even know its cadence. The “cause” matters not, for the response has by now become childishly reflexive:

 

  1. “What do we want?” (insert anything here)

  2. “When do we want it?

  3. “Now!”

  4. “What do we want?”
     

And so on. Again and again, as if repetition will somehow produce what we want when we cannot obtain it through reason or persuasion. After all, it worked when we were spoiled children — who, largely, have grown into spoiled adults. Our parents, regrettably, had taught us by example; by collapsing before the incessant cries, not for what we needed (which they always provided), but for what we wanted. We learned that, by making their lives miserable, they would acquiesce to what we wanted — and demanded!

Do you want anything — however absurd? Then agitate, demand, and never take “no” for an answer, however unimpeachable the authority. Not even from God Himself. We want to “feel” justified, to be “affirmed” in our childish petulance —and if we are denied our desires, then we will legislate them, find some obscure or unbalanced “academic” to “authenticate” us, a celebrity “in solidarity” with our grievance to publicize us, and a venal politician to “empower” us … until our desires become our laws.


Hence, we find that politics is the venue of power, not mind. Hollywood is the venue of entertainment, not reality which is only discernible through the mind and that inconvenient faculty called reason that we abhor because it defies us.
 

The Parallax of Reason ... and Sensation

We do not want reason. We do not want mind. We want sensation — the stimulation and the satisfaction of the senses! What have we to do with inflexible reason? With God? With things less than rhapsodic, with lasting concepts … even purported everlasting realities … with the deliverances of anything devoid of tactility, before the contempt of the court of immediacy that governs the senses?

We ourselves are composed of matter — we recognize this even if we have forgotten that it is only half the equation of our being human. The other half is spirit … the immaterial soul which is not apprehensible by the senses, only by the mind, a concept perhaps best expressed in the German noun, “Geist” that alternately denotes, “the mind”, “the psyche”, “spirit”, “soul”, (and even “ghost”.)

We are profoundly more than our appetites, just as God is profoundly more than the mind’s conception of Him.  Eternity extends before us — and we instinctively know it … but we treat it as we treat time: passing, changing, mutable, pliable to our desires. And for a while it is so.

But we know that it will not always be so. We sense “ending”. We intuit that there is a terminus to our being in time and that something must lie beyond it — even if it is the skeptic's cold, sterile, embalmed "nothing" that we nevertheless irresistibly perceive as something in what we persist in describing as “nothingness”. Because we are permeated with time and insensible (and this is not the same as “inapprehensible”) to the eternal, we even perceive “nothingness” — despite our insistence that it is otherwise — as somehow perduring. It is a tentative state of utter suspension — even while we declare that nothing is suspended.

When we lost God — whenever that might have been — we lost our raison d'être. We do not know it because we refuse to confront it and we do not confront it because we have not known God, or once having known Him have repudiated Him, even denied Him, in favor of our own temporal desires which, like their objects in space and time, will surely pass. Only God remains. History testifies to this.

Desistite, et agnoscite me Deum:Be still and know that I am God!”

Our restlessness is both an invitation by God and atestimony to our blindness apart from Him.


 

Geoffrey K. Mondello
Editor
Boston Catholic Journal

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Scio opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum 
I know your works ... that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name.
(Apocalypse 3.8)

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