Friday, July 14, 2023

But that is blasphemy!

Blasphemy from the dictionary is the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.  Then and now, blasphemy has something in common but it is not God.  What the past and present share is a concern to protect that which is sacred. But that is where the similarity begins and ends.   It is that which is sacred about which the past and the present disagree.  Old-style blasphemy involved desecrating God because it was God who was sacred. Today’s blasphemy is not about God at all but about the god role played by man himself.  The blasphemy of 2023 is a challenge to the idea that man is not all-powerful, that man does not have the power or the right to create or define himself as he choose, or that man is subject to limits outside his control and beyond the realm of his choice.  

This is the blasphemy that is so sacred and essential to modern identity that it cannot be challenged and, when it is challenged, must be silenced even more than refuted.  Indeed, that which offends today is not a challenge to fact but feeling, not the denial of God but the denial of self, and not the freedom to choose but the refusal to affirm the sacred choices.  The media and social media are the guardians of this sacred truth and the means by which this sacred truth is affirmed.  Reality is the domain of perception and expression and has little connection to or reflection of fact, history, or truth.  We are no longer defined by things outside ourselves but we have have taken on as our new religion the primacy of self and its sacrament is our ability to define ourselves according to the mores we have invented.  

It is no longer much of a concern that we might be offending God.  To blaspheme God has become normal and ordinary.  It is routine.  Every day in our culture people and corporations and institutions choose to offend God and those who believe in Him in order to pursue the higher virtue of self-expression and choice.  It is not simply the LA Dodgers but the biggest of corporations, retail giants, and academic institutions.  Those who had religious roots and may still have Christian associations are so quick to jettison those relationships and reject their roots in order to pursue the new sacred of self and self-expression.  Even Notre Dame University observes and celebrates pride month.  Never mind what the catechism says, if it offends against the new sacred of sexual expression and gender identity, it must be condemned and labeled profane.

Some complain that saying this is offensive to those who do not want to challenge anyone or anything -- they just want to be free to express themselves and to live their own lives with the same rights and privileges as others.  Would that this was true.  An  example is marriage.  Same sex marriage is not simply about the right to coexist but is about the desire to transform what marriage is for everyone.  Gay men do not marry at the same rate as heterosexuals or lesbians but lesbians divorce at a rate far greater than even heterosexuals.  In the midst of this is the state of the children in these families.  Without a biological connection with those whom they once called a parent, we are charting new ground in the legal pursuit of guardianship -- something that has not been the case in heterosexual marriages even when they end in divorce.

In other cases, it is not merely about tolerating a legal status accorded to the alphabet soup of gender and sexual preference.  It is about the flaunting of such preferences.  This is not about toleration or acceptance but about an "in your face" attitude toward those around you.  So it is not enough to have a private preference or identity but these must be the sole or at least the primary definition of who you are, how you act, and what you do.  The Sisters Perpetual Indulgence are not looking for acceptance but to demean what others hold sacred and to be as outrageous as possible in their promotion of who they are.  The drag queens who read to children in the library are not interested in reading to the children but gaining acceptance from those children of their own identities and expression -- especially for those children whose parents reject the drag queen.

The blasphemy of today is to suggest that marriage is the basic shape of society as ordered by God and reflected over time and in history.  It is the offense of suggesting that children are essential to family and are the faithful response of the call to be fruitful and multiply.  It is the offense of suggesting that the mark of humanity is not being defined by desire but by the practice of self-control and the refusal to be governed by passions.  It is the offense of suggesting that in order to know who we are, we must know whose we are.  The blasphemy of today is not interested in preserving belief in God but is solely concerned with the preservation of the myth of human freedom to do and be whoever you choose.  All in all, it was easier and made a great deal more sense when blasphemy was about God.

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