Thursday, December 06, 2007

The sickness unto death rampant in a God-less society

The article linked to in the title of this post is about the gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Omaha, Nebraska. It begins:

OMAHA, Neb. - Robert Hawkins had been kicked out of his family’s house, fired from McDonald’s and had broken up with his girlfriend. He was 19, about the same age another sick man was when he terrified the state of Nebraska and the nation 50 years earlier.

Hawkins left a suicide note Wednesday at the home where he had been living. It said that he wouldn’t be a burden on his family anymore and that “now I’ll be famous,” according to Debora Maruca-Kovac, who owns the home. (emphasis mine)

A sick man. Yes, I would have to agree but I am quite sure I would disagree about the nature of his sickness. In our materialist society, too oft informed by erroneous psychology, individuals who commit such crimes, as also apparent in the Virginia Tech shootings, are considered mentally ill. Obviously, the logic runs, the individual must be chemically imbalanced because who would do such a heinous thing in their right mind? If only we had a safety net to catch these individuals before they act then we could ... medicate them. Once again we are faced with the logic of those who deny the deepest spiritual principle in man, his soul.

Not only is the soul ignored, and terrible acts like the one in this article attributed to brain chemicals, but the truth about man's situation is not properly understood. In our anthropocentric age, man is good - very good. He does what is right to him and any inkling of evil or sin is ignored. This notion is one reason why people cannot understand evil actions, why they think the individual is chemically imbalanced: "no one in their right mind would do such a thing." But what is a right mind?

One of the effects of original sin, of the fall, is a darkened intellect. Sin clouds our understanding. Our will is also, in the words of the Ecumenical Council of Trent, downward bent. We can all exclaim with St. Paul that what we want to do we do not do but what we do not want to do, that is what we do. It is a tremendous error of modernity to consider man better than he is, able to do all he desires and to do what is right on his own. It is Pelagianism restored.

Apart from the gratuitous grace of Christ man is lost in sin and stands in a state of death. Without grace we have no hope. The more we sin the greater our intellect is darkened, the weaker our will becomes. The fact remains that individuals are responsible. Chemicals in the mind can be altered by the soul, by acts of reason and of will. In Catholic theology the body and soul are fused, not separate. Individuals can choose to commit evil acts and apart from conversion to Christ - to become new in His through the grace of Holy Baptism - we should not be surprised if someone commits such evil acts - even more so when we consider the times.

Soren Kirkegaard, in The Sickness Unto Death, argued that any individual who does not believe in and obey God is in despair. This despair is that great sickness unto death. It is unto death because without God will cannot hope for eternal life and without God we can only despair of our existence. We live in an age where the spiritual is rejected, the material exalted and God mocked. Atheism is gaining ground and becoming more militant. Without God we have no hope. Without a Savior we can only despair of our situation.

What Kirkegaard put forth as the sick unto death is becoming a rule for entire societies. The true religion, the Catholic faith, is mocked and rejected by nations as well as individual people. It is only by acknowledging God and coming to Him that we can know the truth. It is our only hope. We can agree that people and nations are becoming sicker but not because of an imbalance of chemicals but rather from the despair that is inevitable when God is rejected.

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