Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Laborem Solis Sive Eclipsis Moralis: Vae Qui Dicitis Malum Bonum et Bonum Malum

MORAL DESENSITIZATION is a real phenomenon, and it is prevalent in Western societies. Things that would have shocked those before us, would have been the source of shame, or at least have had some sort of negative moral stigma attached to them--cohabitation, single mothers, divorce, birth control, homosexuality, pornography--are taken to be simply part of the normal features of modern life. It is a natural part of adaptation to one's moral environment. (The adaptation, of course, goes either way. In Muslim societies where the strictures of Shari'a have been imposed, the population adapts, at least in great measure, to its burdens.) Budziszewski compares the normal adaptation response in the physical world, and finds that it has its counterpart in the moral world, in the intellectual world where mental deliberation takes place. We develop moral callouses, as it were, when we repeatedly handle immoral things and adapt our ways of living to repeated insults:

You see what has happened. We were touched by abomination, and we flinched. But nothing happened. We were touched again. Again nothing happened. By the five-hundredth touch, we stopped flinching.

But something did happen. We became the sort of people who endure the abominable touch.

Budziszewski (2003), 173. Moral enormities that would not have been tolerated are tolerated. Then, they are not only tolerated, but promoted. It is inconceivable that books such as Heather has Two Mommies, Jennifer has Two Daddies, or Daddy's Roommate would have been tolerated, placed in libraries, or read to children. Songs such as Eminem's "Kim" which, in the most vulgar lyrics, glorifies the murder of one's wife and putting her in the trunk of a car, or the German thrash-band Sodom "Incest" would have not have been tolerated, much less marketed, promoted, and merchandised. It cannot be argued that these sorts of things do not affect us as a people.

What's Happened?

No, Budziszewski is right: Something's happened. "We became the sort of people who endure the abominable touch." We have become reprobates. People who endure the abominable touch are going to be desensitized to the natural moral law which witnesses against such abominations. Their rough calloused heart will suppress the law of God in their hearts.

St. Paul spoke of this phenomenon long ago to a pagan world that, similarly to hours, had "endured the abominable touch," and thus inured their inner ear against the voice the law of God in the hearts.

For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.
(Rom. 1:23 ff.)

The reprobates and their bombast rule, and they issue morals founded on a false coin, a coin of reprobate silver, and we trade in a moral specie stamped from lead. (cf. Jer. 6:30). And what seems true in economics has its analogy in the moral realm. For Gresham's law appears operative in both worlds: bad money drives out good money, and so does reprobate morality drive out the good. That this is the case was perceived as early as in Aristophanes (ca. 446 – ca. 386 B.C.), who in his play, "The Frogs" observed:
You know what I often think:
We treat our best men
The way we treat our mint
The silver and the golden
We were proud to invent
These unalloyed
Genuine coins, no less,
Ringing true and tested
Both abroad and [in] Greece
And now they're not employed
As if we were disgusted
And want to use instead
These shoddy coppers minted
Only yesterday
Or the day before
(as if that matters).
Aristophanes: The Complete Plays, trans. Paul Roche, (New American Library: 2005), 573.

No comments:

Post a Comment