Contra Mozilla

Friday, January 23, 2015

Blog Versus: Harmful Slogans--Fear Not

Just for fun, a little debate on our site. Today's topic is "Annoying Catch Phrases/Damaging Slogans." You can read the post by the other guy who blogs here, the Hope-filled Pessimist, here.

There are a few slogans which are used to deliberately undermine the Catholic Church. "Judge not" and its myriad derivatives, and its more inviting form "Who am I to judge,"certainly does a lot of work to undermine Christian morals, but morals, while important, are not the whole story of the Catholic faith. Actually, short of "God is dead", "Where is your God!?" and "There is no God [save Caesar, I guess]," there aren't many slogans which really attempt to strike hard and fast at the whole Catholic faith.

But these slogans are all obvious, and while their conclusions (implicit or explicit) are poison, it doesn't seem to me that they do much harm as slogans embodying attitudes form within the Church. It seems to me that the world may persecute the Church, but this is to be expected (so is the failure of the Church's members, I suppose). So maybe  Damaging Slogan should be something which encapsulates the attitudes of a number of people who claim to be Catholic (or even just mere Christians) and yet which both undermines the faith of fellow believers (because the slogan seems credible) and at the same time allows them to give scandal to infidelic non-believers.

Maybe it's because I was so recently watching this argument play out, but I think the nearest I can come to a slogan would be "Fear not!" with the attitude being that we are not supposed to have any sort of "fear of the Lord." Make it the attitude which says that fear of all kinds is bad, and that therefore the holy fear which is so often encountered in the Old Testament is at best a neutral thing which is waiting to be displaced by "respect,"or "love," or "relationship." The secondary attitude here is that the Old Testament shouldn't be read, because it has things like "fear of the Lord" or "The Wrath of God", things which have supposedly been replaced in the New Testament (nevermind that Christ tells us to fear the one who can destroy soul and not only the one who can destroy our body); or perhaps only because the actual "rules" of the Law are spilled out there, albeit in a mishmash of moral absolutes, ritual purification, and metaphorical prohibitions.

The other guy picked decided on "Come as you are!" as the most armful slogan in use today. I guess this is just another variation of "Judge not," and which does therefore work to undermine the Church's teachings on morals, and in particular about things like modesty or (less popular still) chastity. Damaging as that one is, and awful (and to be blunt, prideful and yet slothful) as the the attitude which underlies it is, it's an attitude which is often more obvious in those who hold it. It weakens the community as a whole, but "fear not" weakens the community as a whole by first weakening its individual members, one at a time, in isolation.

Fear not? Oh, what's to fear? Sometimes that little bit of fear is the difference between a good confession and a bad one, or for that matter between seeking out confession and avoiding the chore of it. Certainly it is there to avoid, for example, the prospect of taking communion while being knowingly in a state of mortal sin, because "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord", as we read in 1 Corinthians (11:28). If we cannot e brought even to the so-called "servile fear" of the Lord, fearing His punishments, then how will we be moved beyond this to merely fearing that we will displease Him? Why examine our consciences if there is no consequence either way?

When the New Testament is violently separated from the Old, as it is under the guise of "fearing not," the result is not a kinder and gentler New Testament, or at least not only that. It becomes difficult to make sense of Jesus "rougher" moments, when he chases the money-changers from the temple or calls the pharisees a brood of vipers. We are left then with "Buddy Jesus," and made to wonder why He would need to die on a cross--or why the powers of this world bothered to crucify Him. And that may seem comforting, but at the same time, it doesn't attract. Nobody takes up their crosses in life to follow a Man who says only to be nice to each other and not worry about being right with God.

Fear not: lay down your cross, your load, leave them there and carry them no more. Life as a Christians will then be easy, and the world will leave you alone or say nice things about you. If the world starts to persecute you, just bow to its demands and all will be well, and God won't mind. And so, of course, that is exactly what most Christians end up doing.

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