The Dispatch: More from CWR...

The culture wars continue apace

Chances are Santa won’t bring the Secular Democrats everything they want, but that’s no reason for complacency. Efforts to drive religion out of sight will go on just the same.

(Image: D A V I D S O N L U N A / Unsplash.com)

Just because it’s the Christmas season is no reason to pause the culture war. And here to celebrate peace and good will in its own peculiar fashion is the Secular Democrats of America PAC, with its program for pushing religion out of public life.

Spearheaded by the jolly elves who chair the Congressional Freethought Caucus, Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Jared Huffman of California, the Secular Democrats want the incoming Biden administration, among other things, to drop the national motto “In God We Trust” and tell government officials to keep religion “separate” from their work.

Chances are Santa won’t bring the Secular Democrats everything they want, but that’s no reason for complacency. Efforts to drive religion out of sight will go on just the same.

Nothing new about that either. Think back two millennia. The first Christmas happened in the obscurity of a manger, unknown and unheralded by anyone except shepherds. And not much time had passed before a bloodstained tyrant named Herod dispatched soldiers to Bethlehem with orders to find and kill the upstart king, while Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to save the Child..

Now the old pattern is repeating itself in our increasingly de-Christianized society–not in so violent a form of course but no less virulently, as the cancel culture seeks new targets in its continuing campaign to eliminate those who risk dissent from the woke agenda of secularism.

In The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher remarks that although the secularists won the culture war (a debatable proposition, by the way), they have “no intention of living in postwar peace.” Rather, the forces of secularism are “pressing forward with a harsh, relentless occupation, one that is aided by the cluelessness of Christians who don’t understand what’s happening.”

That underlines the importance of the ongoing battle in the cause of religious liberty. From that perspective, the biggest Christmas present religionists have received in years is the apparent emergence of a Supreme Court majority that takes a friendly view of the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. (Those angry snarls from Scrooges writing in the editorial columns and op-ed pages of the New York Times and Washington Post certainly seem to suggest as much.)

As for us ordinary Christians, we need to apply ourselves far more energetically than we’ve been accustomed to do to the re-evangelization of our increasingly paganized world. Doing that, it hardly needs saying, is not a project to be carried on with fire and sword, but by spreading the message of the first Christmas by example and word

What message is that? In a formulation that expresses the reality of Christmas in a way especially well suited to our racially troubled times, St. Josemaria Escriva puts it like this: “There is only one race in the world, the race of the children of God.”

And in what is perhaps the best known and best loved passage of the entire New Testament, St. John the Apostle delivers a message that goes to the theological heart of the Christmas season: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

There should be no doubt about it either: that definitely includes the Secular Democrats of America PAC and the Congressional Freethought Caucus. In those immortal words of Tiny Tim: God bless us, every one!


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About Russell Shaw 219 Articles
Russell Shaw was secretary for public affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference from 1969 to 1987. He is the author of 20 books, including Nothing to Hide, American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America, and, most recently, Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity.

14 Comments

  1. We read: “There is only one race in the world, the race of the children of God.”

    Yes, but the language itself is being perverted. The welcoming coherence or “race” of the early Church has been accurately compared to a “family” where members were “surrogate siblings,” all elevated as “sons and daughters” under the one “Father.”

    The cancel-culture mentality is, instead, a swampland of bubble-universes that understands nothing of world, fatherhood and motherhood, or sons and daughters within any kind of family. These words (like “marriage”) now are unintelligible cyphers.

    Instead, we are dragged back into pre-Christian and pre-creation chaos. Back to whatever can be squeezed out of stardust, the electronic social media, sound-wave slogan chanting, me-generation tribalism…and the tits of a gender-neutral and surrogate-father vending machine named “Uncle” Sam. Not to mention, even within the Church, his/its replicated counterpart, Uncle Ted.

  2. “As for us ordinary Christians, we need to apply ourselves far more energetically than we’ve been accustomed to do to the re-evangelization of our increasingly paganized world. Doing that, it hardly needs saying, is not a project to be carried on with fire and sword, but by spreading the message of the first Christmas by example and word”

    Good luck when clerics are sabotaging institutional credibility. And evangelization is an insufficient response to what is a political problem, a problem of justice.

  3. Shaw: St. Josemaria Escriva puts it like this: “There is only one race in the world, the race of the children of God.”

    Escriva is just another Latin who strays from the scriptural and patristic usage of the term “children of God.”

    By that accounting, there are two races, the children of God and those who have not been regenerated in Christ, and even if we don’t know whether someone has been regenerated by extraordinary means, it would strain belief to suggest that all non-believers have been regenerated extraordinarily.

    • Your take on race appears correct insofar as race is agreed by most scholars as not a derivative from old Norse rás, to rush, hurry. Rather it is a derivative of the Latin Radix, or root. So we may have two radix one “regenerated” the other not. However, human race wasn’t how humanity was referred to in Latin. Humanitas is the word used in Latin for humanity, considered a derivative from Homo or Man and is better translated Mankind. Whether regenerated in Christ or not we remain created in God’s image as a unique humanitas or Mankind. That specifies why the “unregenerate” remain subject to condemnation as well as regeneration in Christ. St. Josemaria Escriva may well have had Mankind in mind when referring to children of God. A reason is the Spanish word humanidad used for the English ‘human race’. In a sense all men whatever their moral relation to God are nevertheless his creation, in effect their Father. As Christ uses the term your Heavenly Father when speaking to both reprobate and believer. Finally your persistent prejudice against Latins, “just another Latin” as you call us needs to be called out. What it provokes is anger and disunity.

  4. Rather than cultural war it is a relentless, ruthless invasion into the world of beliefs, of all that is sacred to a suddenly stultified traditional citizenry. Trump supporters and faithful Catholics who abhor abortion and sexual depravity. Who believe the traditional family is necessary for a true culture. Immoral barbarians called secularists by Rod Dreher are “pressing forward with harsh, relentless occupation, aided by the cluelessness of Christians”. Evidence of cluelessness are the decent, AG Barr convinced that breech of Constitutional law during the election doesn,t exist, Chief Justice Roberts who acquiesces to the abrogation of Constitutional election procedure by states, by Republicans and a USCCB who believe it’s unfair to expose the ‘secularist’ candidate’s political possibly treasonous avarice [Republicans] or to condemn his Antichrist beliefs [USCCB who only post election expressed a few weak concerns]. And the many who convince themselves it’s better to carry on and keep the peace for sake of appearance. Dreher got this one quite right. The fear we’ll never again have fair elections is fearfully real. Exactly what’s occurred in every instance when socialist secularists whose methods and principles are precisely those of Biden and his party of immoral barbarians ‘seize’ control. Russell Shaw possesses most decent values and sees the urgent need for evangelization of a pagan world. Although the assumption of power by the left requires real warfare, the moral political kind that must assume that compromise with men with Marxist principles will have similar result as the Vatican’s negotiation with Xi Ping. Consequently the effort to expose electoral fraud is a patriotic duty. Whatever transpires and what may on the one hand doesn’t look good, as to the other the pursuit of Justice under fire is what cleanses us of our own iniquity and makes us holy before God.

  5. As the MSM Created oracle Rodney King {RIP}opined “Can’t we all just get along” Not anymore Rodney.Those days of “Crossing the Aisle” are long gone.The socialist/democrat party and MSM {public enemy #1} have been completely invested & infested with Marxists.
    It truly is a War between Good & Evil.

  6. “Video meliora proboque, detoriora sequor”, the mantra of Biden Catholics as they gleefully stroll in tandem with their secular Democrat brothers and sisters in their new era parade. But when will the stroll become a goosestep?

  7. “the importance of the ongoing battle in the cause of religious liberty”

    If I have correctly read Mr. Shaw’s pre-election commentary, the way to achieve that is to vote for a candidate, who sues the Little Sisters of the Poor, and his running mate, who insists that Catholics must be disqualified from serving on the court. Oh yes, and then for the USBB to elect a cardinal, who supported the same candidates, to head its committee on religious liberty.

    Does anyone else see the intellectual disconnect that seems to plague many of the opinion writers on this website?

    Well, at least we have ridded ourselves of an intolerable tweeter who caters to those stinky, irredeemable deplorables, right Mr. Shaw?

    • I don’t think you have read Mr. Shaw’s pre-election commentary correctly.

      “Does anyone else see the intellectual disconnect that seems to plague many of the opinion writers on this website?”

      I doubt it. And it’s funny: there have been quite a few comments in recent months accusing CWR of being a pro-Trump vehicle. CWR has no interest in promoting this or that politician, but in making sense of events and ideas in light of the Catholic Faith. I doubt CWR is perfect in that regard; I’m also convinced CWR does not carry water for any political party or politician.

      • Prior to the election, Mr. Shaw pleaded for a “seasoned politician,” selected by party leaders, all the while making it clear that Trump was unacceptably impolite. Well, we appear now to have a seasoned politician, selected by party leaders and who, to wit, hardly campaigned. It may well be that Mr. Shaw cast a vote that violated his own counsel, but there was no mistaking his disapproval of Trump. As for CWR, I didn’t cast aspersions on the news and information side of the operation. I do assert that many opinion pieces, including Mr. Shaw’s, in the past week have gone squishy soft on Biden’s outrageous moral convictions, while singing the required anti-Trump refrain. In the process, they have performed incredible and shameful intellectual contortions.

  8. “In The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher remarks that although the secularists won the culture war (a debatable proposition, by the way), they have “no intention of living in postwar peace.” Rather, the forces of secularism are “pressing forward with a harsh, relentless occupation, one that is aided by the cluelessness of Christians who don’t understand what’s happening.”

    Where there is life there is hope, and the only way to lose a cultural (or any other) war is to refuse to fight it. So just “throwing in the towel” (as Rod Dreher is obliquely intimating) is to leave the field of battle. It is easy enough for secularists who have the support of the media, education, probably Democrats, and massive population ignorance concerning anything of moral or political import to congratulate themselves and glory in their SEEMINGLY unassailable wickedness. However, Catholics know that this world is not the end of human existence, and nothing in the visible world except for human beings will last forever.

    A big problem is this: even if you don’t defend yourself, there is no guarantee that someone won’t figuratively or literally kill you. If you refuse to give tacit support (or especially if you offer any resistance) to “the system” you may lose your job, be arrested, or even be murdered. If you give people an inch, then they will walk all over you. Such is malice, vanity, and the sins of injustice committed by authorities.

    To tolerate the wickedly intolerant is to refuse to defend yourself. Tolerance is not necessarily a virtue. It may be somewhat charitable to avoid creating unnecessary disturbances, but there isn’t (AFAIK) any REQUIREMENT that a person refuse to assert his rights or be compliant with evil persons abusing their authority. Obviously, in some cases resistance IS REQUIRED (e.g. the early Church martyrs).

    “That underlines the importance of the ongoing battle in the cause of religious liberty. From that perspective, the biggest Christmas present religionists have received in years is the apparent emergence of a Supreme Court majority that takes a friendly view of the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.”

    Religious “liberty” is what started it all. If Catholics would have violently resisted the Protestant “Reformation” by overthrowing the tyrant Protestant civil authorities and maintaining the states’ support of the Catholic Church, then the steady decline of the West would probably not have occurred. The only advantage to having the Supreme Court on one’s side is that it helps with regards to lawsuits, but if it is WRONGLY accepted that natural rights are given by the government and not by human nature, then all it takes is for someone significant in government to change his mind and APPARENTLY there goes one’s rights.

    “As for us ordinary Christians, we need to apply ourselves far more energetically than we’ve been accustomed to do to the re-evangelization of our increasingly paganized world. Doing that, it hardly needs saying, is not a project to be carried on with fire and sword, but by spreading the message of the first Christmas by example and word”

    To spread by example, it may be necessary to resort to “fire and sword.” At least it is if it intended to violently resist unjust authorities. Any sufficiently strong resistance will cause all evil machinations to bear down in attempt to crush it. Provided that they fail, then word may be used to condemn the wickedness and hopefully win tepid or ignorant souls.

    • How is Mr. Dreher throwing in the towel?
      It seems to me that he’s working harder against the current than most people. He’s authored books, BBC articles, and a blog. He has a family and belongs to a faith community.
      If we’re doing likewise in any way we’re changing the culture also. And having a family is critical. No children, no future.

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