Author’s note to the reader:This is the text of a talk, lightly revised and a little expanded, given in Vancouver on 16 March, 2023, during an event sponsored by the Houston Centre for Humanity and the Common Good. The event was focused on Aaron Kheriaty’s book, The New Abnormal: The Rise of the Biomedical Security State, and my remarks (for which I alone am responsible) were made pursuant to his. An interview with the two of us, conducted by Prof. Zimmerman, is posted here and a longer podcast here. [Editor’s note: This essay was originally posted on Dr. Farrow’s “Desiring a Better Country” Substack and is reposted here with his kind permission.]
I am grateful to Dr Kheriaty for his courageous stance, and for the trouble he has taken in his very fine book to explain to us that the biomedical security state is coming into being on the back of the pandemic we have witnessed, and of pandemics we are told we will witness. Pandemics, from time to time, are natural, but they can also be contrived. The evidence is convincing that this one was contrived; that it was orchestrated so as to advance the interests of those who are invested in creating a new abnormal.
My own awareness of this began three years ago now, almost to the day. Having just returned from Washington, where I had delivered a public lecture for First Things entitled “The Secret of the Saeculum,” I received a call from the editor about the palpable fear he was witnessing on the streets of Manhattan. Where are the theologians, he asked, and why are they not saying anything?
Three years on I still don’t know the answer to that question. But at his request I wrote a short piece, reflecting on the decision to close the churches and keep them closed. Thus began my own covid odyssey, examining the medical, political and, especially, the theological dimensions of the pandemic response. By Christmas of 2021, I had more to say than I could say in such journals as were letting me say anything, so I began a Substack page named for one of my books, Desiring a Better Country. There are presently more than 100,000 words on that site, but I have only a few minutes to distill for you an answer to the question Professor Zimmerman has posed: How should Christian churches evaluate and respond to the diminishment of human identity that undergirds the biomedical security state?
What I have to say presupposes the basic analysis Dr Kheriaty has so ably provided. I will divide my remarks into four parts, addressing three sub-questions before arriving at the main question: What is being diminished? How is it being diminished? Why is it being diminished? And then, how should we respond?
1. What is being diminished?
The answer to this question is not difficult. Man—the creature made by God, in the image of God, for happiness with God—is being diminished.
Augustine tells us in book eleven of The City of God that there are three questions we ought to ask about any creature we desire to comprehend: Who made it, by what means it was made, and for what purpose. All three are neatly answered by this familiar prayer from the eucharistic liturgy, during the offering of the bread and the wine, to which offering Augustine has already alluded in book ten:
O God, who in creating human nature didst wonderfully dignify it, and hast still more wonderfully restored it, grant that by the mystery of this water and wine, we may become partakers of His divine nature, who deigned to become partaker of our human nature, even Jesus Christ our Lord, Thy Son, who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God: world without end. Amen.
In other words: God made man. God made man in a mysterious fashion open to, and fulfilled by, his own becoming a man. And God made man that man might forever enjoy God. We are not talking about man if we are not talking about this very creature, who—especially in the liturgical sursum corda, “through the mediation of his only-begotten Son as our priest” and by the agency of his Holy Spirit—is, as Augustine says, “collectively his temple and individually his temple.” That is where we must begin if we wish to offer an ecclesiological response. We must begin with God and the creature God made and the purpose for which he made it.
2. How is it being diminished?
Here, too, I will give a simple answer. This creature is being diminished by a refusal to consider it in that light or to let it order its life according to the dignity that has been bestowed upon it. Of course I must expand on this a little. Talk is cheap, and where talk of identity or of dignity remains ungrounded it bears no edible fruit.
Now, the notion of dignity to which we have just referred is the product, not of religious fancy or of high-flown speculation, but of an astonishing empirical fact, an absolutely singular fact gratefully pondered by faithful reason: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Logos became human and received a human name, Yeshua. It was from this fact, so treasured in the heart of Mary and in the heart of the whole Church, that there arose correlative notions of human rights and liberties that had never before been conceived, much less given cultural forms that allowed them to become fruitful.
We ourselves have been the beneficiaries. But as in Eden, at the first formation of man, a great deception has arisen—arisen from the very same devious source, under whose influence it was decided some time ago that it belongs to the dignity of man not to acknowledge that dignity, the dignity of the Word made flesh. Henceforth human dignity would be deemed to consist, not in the imago dei, nor in the imitatio Christi, but in the power of man to arrange his affairs however he pleased, as if God himself were merely the product of religious fancy or of high-flown speculation. “Mankind,” proclaimed D. F. Strauss, “is the union of the two natures, God become man.” At a stroke, this abolished the need for a mediator and did away, in principle, with any temple other than the race itself. It also emptied that race, both individually and collectively, of its proper purpose and power; viz., to display with thankful hearts the glory of God.
To this kind of thinking we eventually gave the name secularism. But what is secularism, if not an updated version of the lie crafted by the father of lies? Secularism is simply striking out on our own. “You shall be as gods.” How? By behaving as if there were no God, or none who cares about the way we order our collective affairs. And to what effect, if not an imitatio diaboli in which, through pride, full reign must eventually be given to the lust for domination? Augustine again, at book fourteen: “Then came that proud and therefore envious angel who, through his pride, had turned away from God and had turned to himself. With a tyrant’s disdain, so to speak, he chose to rejoice at having subjects rather than to be a subject himself.”
No society that adopts this course can hope to remain free. No society that adopts secularism as its basic philosophy can hope for long to retain its inherited respect for human uniqueness, human dignity, human liberty. For God is the proper source of that respect. Not knowing the One who is goodness itself, we cannot know what most pertains to our own good. We will have to put on airs, striving for universal knowledge and pretending to be capable of a universal providence. That requires control, both of markets and of men. In practical terms, it requires what Shoshana Zuboff calls surveillance capitalism, which looks and feels a great deal like communism. Indeed, it requires a system with a saviour complex, a technocratic state that promises to deliver us from evil, from catastrophe, from the overwhelming flood of disaster. Disaster itself is required, or the threat of disaster, that we may be delivered.
Kheriaty rightly points us to Yuval Noah Harari in illustration of such thinking. Harari is not entirely typical, perhaps. Yet all those who are building the biomedical security state are at work, whether they know it or not, on a new and very different sort of ark, an ark that is to rise up and up and up on the mounting waves of war, disease, famine, and death. Where people are slow to enter the ark, terrors can be contrived and chaos magnified. To create disaster and to bring deliverance, is that not the way of the gods? Climate change, over-population, terrorism, biowarfare, the inadequacy of the human body and brain for the challenges of a new world order, the failure of nation-states to achieve that order or to reckon with the fourth industrial revolution—all this must drive us into the ark that is being built for us.
“Meet Harari,” says Kheriaty, “a man chock-full of big ideas.” He offers us a pair of illustrations in Harari’s own words: “Covid is critical because this is what convinces people to accept, to legitimize, total biometric surveillance. If we want to stop this epidemic, we need not just to monitor people, we need to monitor what’s happening under their skin.” Or again: “What we have seen so far is corporations and governments collecting data about where we go, who we meet, what movies we watch. The next phase is the surveillance going under our skin.” Not only are bodies, then, to become “tools used in transactions,” as Kheriaty puts it; the transactional interface is to become part of the body itself, such that the distinction between instrument and agent begins to disappear.
Permit me to offer a third illustration: “History began,” says Harari, “when humans invented gods, and will end when humans become gods.” But what kind of gods?
Christians, of course, believe that man can partake of the divine nature because God has partaken of human nature. Harari, like other transhumanists, believes that man can become divine by taking control of his own nature, right down to its genetic substructures; that in due course he will slough off this mortal coil for perpetual existence in the glory-clouds of an Artificial Intelligence worthy of all admiration. Surveillance under the skin is the next step in that direction. For the venture capitalist, perhaps, it is merely the commodification of man, the hackable animal. For the AI conceptualist, however, it is the commencement of the world to come, the beginning of a perfectly ordered cosmos, a safe haven in which there is no chaos because there is no freedom.
What is all this, if not the scheme, the mad scheme, of those who rejoice at having subjects rather than being subjects? They promise us many conveniences, while threatening us with many disasters. They are leading us on to, or herding us into, a new paradise in which we will be constantly monitored, easily manipulated, thoroughly managed and controlled. Since they do not believe in the goodness of the body, nor in the reality of the soul, since for them neither dignity nor liberty compute, will they leave us anything recognizably human? Insofar as they are with the serpent, with that proud and envious angel, it is not even their intention to do so.
3. Why is it being diminished?
The eclipse of God, as John Paul II reminded us in The Gospel of Life, leads inexorably to the eclipse of man. Today it is no longer clear what man is. Perhaps he is nothing more than a biometric datapoint for the consumption of the rich and powerful. In that case the explanation for our diminishment is simply greed. Or perhaps, as the gnostics of old believed, man is an intellect trapped by some artifice in a body, from which he needs, by some new artifice, to be released. In that case, the explanation is despair, despair of man qua man. Both greed and despair are factors, I am certain. But I am equally certain that there is something more at work here.
This “something more” is hatred of the Church, of the covenant community in and through which God himself is at work remaking man in his own image and preparing him for glory. O Lord, says the psalmist,
I love the habitation of thy house,
and the place where thy glory dwells.
Sweep me not away with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
men in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes.
But this house is under attack, concerted attack from within and without. It has been under attack ever since the serpent, swollen into a great dragon, was robbed of its prey: robbed when the holy child was carried off safely to Egypt; robbed when the crucified Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven; robbed when a place of safety was found in the desert for the woman who had borne him. Absent that prey, the attack on man has been first and foremost an attack on the people of the covenant in its messianic form; that is, on the rest of the woman’s children, on the seed of Abraham whether spiritual or physical. Beyond that, it has become an attack on children as such—a macabre assault on their minds and bodies, inside the womb or without, a slaughter of the innocents that of late has reached frenzied proportions.
Let us keep our focus on the Church, however, for the Church is at the centre of the divine plan for humanity. No doubt you noticed that churches were the first habitations to be closed and the last to be opened. That’s a signal none should ignore, a signal that there was more to lockdowns than met the eye. Souls were assailed with fear porn. Laws were discarded and liberties abolished by executive decree. Bodies were subjected to experimental “counter-measures” that did unprecedented damage and little or no measurable good. But, in addition to all that, the Church’s very own laws were either abandoned or overruled. The Church’s divine mandate was set aside. The ministry of word and sacrament all but ceased.
That was not an accident. Those who were playing God had planned it. They deployed the same tactics Satan used on Jesus in the desert. The word of God was perverted, making it serve a purpose that was not God’s. The first great commandment was set aside. The love of God, who alone is to be worshiped and served, was forgotten. As for the second great commandment, “Love your neighbour as yourself” meant leaving the neighbour entirely alone, even in death. After that, it meant getting the shot, through which stones would become bread, a miraculous recovery would take place, and all the kingdoms of the world would be granted to Pfizer and Moderna.
The foundation for all this was not prayer and fasting, but rather the end of prayer and the beginning of masking—the withdrawal of our identities. Our identities would be returned to us in due course, when our lonely desert experience was ended, as numbers not names; as QR codes not human interaction; as geometric patterns, not faces. For the new identity is numerical. It is a digital identity, which is the only kind the Beast can recognize. Soon our currency will also be taken from us and returned in the form of a credit voucher. Our cities will be taken from us and returned as smart cities. The gulag archipelago will then be complete. Kheriaty is correct: “Digital IDs are a trojan horse that we should entirely reject.”
In a manner of speaking, however, we agreed to all this when, at Fauci’s signal, we began veiling our faces. Just as Moses veiled his face on his descent from Sinai, lest the fading of the glory that shone from it be remarked by man, so we veiled our faces during our descent into the bowels of the biomedical security state—that new, if rather sterile, golden bull of which we are speaking. Moses, of course, would remove his veil when returning to the presence of God. We kept them on, blasphemously in my judgment, even when approaching the altar of God. Fading glory indeed!
Thus were the churches, along with the kingdoms of this world, handed over to the perpetrators of the pandemic fraud. Such tactics had not worked on Jesus, but they did work on us. So successful were they that, when the churches reopened, many of them reopened only to recipients of the shot, rather than to all the baptized and to anyone who sought solace among the baptized. The churches were made parodies of themselves, serving the purposes of greedy and violent men, ambitious men who by imposing vaccine passports even in the city of God managed to strike a blow at the very heart of the Church.
Not for nothing are we told by our Lord to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” And we had best be praying thus, for the evil one is very much at work in all this. Does anyone still suppose that the whole exercise was merely a misunderstanding, an unfortunate over-reaction to what turned out to be a modest threat? Impossibly naive! There was and is so much more to it than that. Human identity is being reconceived along artificial lines. Brain waves are being “translated into zeroes and ones.” Human bodies are being altered at the molecular level. Human society is being reorganized and repatterned. Commerce and politics and medicine and religion are all being transformed. Man is being enhanced by man, in ways that lead inexorably to his diminishment.
Modern science is a product of Christian thinking about the creation. Modern technology is capable of great good as well as great evil. But the attempt at enhancement is hubris, and in the diminishment is hatred—hatred of God and all that belongs to God, especially the people of God. Hubris and hatred, I dare say, are being synthesized by those whom Aldous Huxley called the World Controllers into a simulacrum of the heavenly throne room envisioned in the Apocalypse:
Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads. From the throne issue flashes of lightning, and voices and peals of thunder, and before the throne burn seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God; and before the throne there is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind…, eyes all round and within. Day and night they never cease to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before the throne … singing, “Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created.”
This singing must cease! And it will cease, whenever peals of thunder come from the throne of Satan, whenever the horn sounds, blaring on your television or beeping urgently on your phone or pulsing from the implant in your hand—whenever the herald proclaims that you must bow down before the image that has been set up, the image of the god whose name is Emergency and whose herald is Fear. That precedent has been set.
As for eyes, oh yes, there are eyes! Eyes everywhere, more than a billion of them. Eyes above you, on the lamp posts and up in the sky. Eyes beneath you, in your gadgets and appliances. Eyes under your skin, the eyes of the Internet of Things. When you meet, you will meet under their unblinking gaze. And you will not be permitted to meet, to buy and sell, to educate or medicate, without the approval of those whose eyes they are, those who think to seize from God control over every living thing.
This is not yet, but it is coming. There is already a good approximation of it in China. It is being worked on by private corporations and public universities and government agencies. For men who would be as gods must emulate God—there is no other way. The only question is whether they emulate God by following the path of humility in Christ or whether they emulate God in the prideful fashion suggested by the serpent, the fashion of antichrist. As Augustine says in book nineteen, “pride is a perverse imitation of God … that wishes to impose its own dominion in place of God’s rule.”
4. How shall we respond?
Christians live or die, if they really are Christians, by the confession “Jesus is Lord.” He who humbled himself, who gladly subjected himself to the God and Father of all on our behalf, who for our sake suffered death on a cross, through his resurrection and ascension was made Lord of all. This age, this saeculum or present world order, exists for no other reason than that we may choose freely and gladly to be subject to him, to become citizens of his eternal city, the city of God. That is a city that is intelligent without being smart, a city in which there is a “properly ordered accord of cognition and action,” a city in which each is given a new name, a city in which there is peace without coercion, a city in which there is “a perfectly harmonious, perfectly ordered, enjoyment of God and of one another in God.”
That the gates to this city lie open is the open secret of the saeculum. Yet in his own day, some of his own people said, “We will not have this man to rule over us. We have no king but Caesar.” What a desperate measure for a Jew! Today it is the Gentiles’ turn. In what they refer to as the novus ordo saeculorum, they bow to a new Caesar, who will govern by AI, that putatively omniscient and omnipotent power that is indeed artificial but certainly not intelligent. For they too have rejected the Word made flesh, the Logos himself, the very source of intelligence, the true Light that enlightens every man that comes into the world. So they will govern by trickery and by coercion. They will govern by enticement and by fear. Their right hand is full of bribes, and in their left hand are evil devices.
I am asked how we are to respond. My answer is that we must respond with “weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.”
This means, first of all, that we must respond with the gospel, the everlasting gospel whose banner is borne in the heavens by the holy angels of God, far above the principalities and powers that have put forward their New World Order. We must respond, that is, with the only true antidote to fear and coercion. We must proclaim what is proclaimed in the second chapter of Hebrews: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”
It means, secondly, repentance. For that is not how we responded when faced with covid. In the same fear and panic our neighbours experienced, we did exactly what we were told to do by our new masters. We harkened to some of our own leaders who had been carefully groomed to do their bidding and convey their message. We put our trust in a pharmaceutical salvation and urged others to do the same. “Get the shot. Jesus would. If you don’t, you’re not welcome here.”
This was both a great mistake and a very grave sin. It was a spiritual and a theological failure of enormous import. The Son of God himself, born of a virgin, who came to deliver us from the fear of death, would undergo gene therapy at Bonnie Henry’s behest, for fear his covid might put him in hospital? Who says so, and by what authority?
We know now, of course, as he would have known then, that we were being lied to by those early, panic-inculcating images of people falling dead in the streets, though people actually are falling dead today, in consequence of those same therapies, people we loved. We know that we were being lied to about the shots preventing infection and transmission, as about hospital occupancy rates. We know that, in every brainwashing repetition of “safe and effective,” and every brazen appeal to “the Science,” the Faucis and Henrys and Hancocks of this world were playing us for fools. We know that all this was not a matter of innocent, excusable mistakes; that many were traumatized or impoverished or driven to take their own lives by the lies, the lockdowns, the mandates, the incessant fear-mongering. We know that families and churches and communities were divided and alienated. We know that the authorities themselves, even those in the very highest offices, provoked and encouraged this. If we don’t know these things, we simply haven’t been paying attention, or we lack what used to be called common sense.
These things cannot be swept under the carpet. Nor can our own complicity be denied. Rather, it must be confronted, repented, corrected. We ought to have known better. We ought to have discerned more quickly. We ought to have acted differently. We are not innocent.
Thirdly, it means teaching—teaching openly, in defiance of the false gospel of secularism—that human dignity is grounded in the imago dei and nowhere else, that human identity begins with the fact that God knows us and that we may know God, that we are invited to be his habitation, his temple. It means insisting that the churches assemble at God’s behest, not man’s, and take their marching orders from God, not man. Yes, and that the Lord is for the body and the body for the Lord; that the Christian submits to no orders from secular authorities about additions or deletions to the body and to bodily functions, but rather submits both body and soul to the One who made them and to him who redeemed them. Rightly was it declared at Barmen that there are no areas of our life in which we can be said to belong, not to Jesus Christ, but to other lords, for in every area we are justified and sanctified by him. The claims of other lords may in their way be legitimate and binding, but that way is a lesser way and that binding is never absolute; for these other lords, despite their lofty pretences, have not saved us and cannot save us.
This means, fourthly, that the Church must give its concerted attention to the theory and practice of civil disobedience, which was entrusted to it by Peter and the apostles. It is time to learn anew what it means to obey God rather than man; what it means to fear the Lord, first of all, and to honour the emperor with such honour and only such honour as befits those who fear the Lord.
We must repair the breaches in the temple walls, breaches made by acknowledging as binding law what cannot be binding law; namely, civil law that contradicts natural and divine law. Let us be absolutely clear about that. And let us be clear about this also: Government by emergency powers, in an iterative or perpetual state of exception, is not lawful governance, be it local, national, or international. It is the suspension of lawful governance. It is lawlessness in the name of law. It is anarchy from above. It is, as The New Abnormal points out, the path taken by Nazi Germany, where its worst excesses were justified in the same way and by the very same name—the name of that false god, Public Health, and of her elder sister, Eugenics, to which peoples of both the old and the new covenant were sacrificed under the Nazis. Anarchy from above, as Chesterton insisted, must be met with resolute resistance and reordering from below. It must be met by refusal of what is wicked and by rebuilding of what is right and just.
Fifthly, it means rejecting the health-first heresy, that disordering of man himself about which I wrote in The Catholic World Report back in August of 2020. Here’s the potted version: Augustine told us that to love the neighbour rightly we must help the neighbour learn to love God. And we must help her as the very creature God designed, a creature of body and soul. Medicine, he said, is anything that aids the body; discipline, anything that aids the soul. All aid to the body is ultimately for the sake of the soul, which is the higher part. The health-first heresy is the heresy that turns this upside down, subordinating aid to the soul to some putative aid to the body, putting medicine above discipline or even conflating the two. Which is exactly what happened in the covid pan-daemonium. Physician, heal thyself! It is in the Church, first of all, that the human being must be set right side up again, body serving soul and soul serving God.
Sixthly, then, it means cooperation with the Holy Spirit in building sound communities, communities oriented to God above rather than to man below. Where God is rightly sought through the one mediator, Jesus Christ, there will true humanity and human flourishing also be found. Only this kind of community, the community that seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, will find the courage to reclaim the right to educate its young, to care for its sick, to alleviate the poverty of the poor without undue interference by the state or by international agencies or by so-called public private partnerships—those fascist instruments by which large corporations take control of public policy. Only this kind of community will have the strength to protect itself and its neighbours from the ravages of the biomedical security state, which is all of a piece with what used to be called the welfare state, whose bills are now coming due, just as Leo XIII warned us they would. John Paul II renewed that warning in Centesimus annus:
In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of State, the so-called “Welfare State”. This has happened in some countries in order to respond better to many needs and demands, by remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. However, excesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoked very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the “Social Assistance State”. Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.
The communities we need today must be built on this principle, the principle of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity, so to say, is a hill to die on. Without it, our common life will become a common hell.
Lastly, taking up weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left means blessing and supporting the poor in spirit and the poor as such, defending them (as did the two saints just mentioned) against the rapacious rich. This will require, in ourselves, a certain detachment from earthly goods. It will require a share in the poverty of Christ, who though he was rich became poor for our sake, that we might become rich. For there will certainly be a price to be paid for resolute resistance to the Beast that is not merely diminishing but devouring man. This is what St Vincent Ferrer warned us of at the turn of the fifteenth century, when, taking a cue from his own time, he looked ahead and foresaw the temptations of our time, pointing out that those who cling to earthly goods and worldly status will do so by cleaving, not to Christ, but to antichrist. And who or what is antichrist, the man of lawlessness as he appears today, if not the rich man who bends whole nations and groups of nations to his own godless purpose, purloining and perverting concepts like “health” to do it?
In conclusion, I tip my hat once more to the Freedom Convoy that set out from this city and from this province, my native province, which is still busy politicizing medicine, destroying its integrity through the measures contained in Bill 36. I tip my hat to courageous men of medicine such as Aaron Kheriaty and Charles Hoffe, both present here this evening. I pray for them and their ilk, as also for the Dutch farmers, who are still carrying the torch for freedom in their own country and in the European Union. Indeed, I pray for everyone who refuses, whatever the cost, to submit to the Beast that replaces farms with factories, medicine with manipulation, names with numbers, veracity with mendacity. May God grant them the integrity, the resourcefulness, and the fortitude they require.
“But,” you say, “who can withstand it? There is none like the Beast!” Wrong. There is the Church of Jesus Christ, which is not a cooperation of men and demons but of men and angels; not a project of man only, but of God and all who trust in God. Despite Christian complicity in the advance of the biosecurity state, despite our failure to live the freedom Christians are called to proclaim, the Beast will not triumph. Indeed, the new abnormal will be overcome wherever the Church thinks like the Church, prays like the Church, speaks like the Church, and acts like the Church—until the Lord himself arrives in triumph, bringing an end, once and for all, to the Beast’s fancy about a perpetual state of exception.
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No amount of articulate writing will allow you to escape the fact that the underlying substance of your ideology ultimately makes no sense whatsoever.
I can tell that the author has been reading up in recent developments in AI/tech as well as future trajectory. Keep doing that! It really all IS coming, just like the eventual implosion of your remaining adherent base. Delusional rationalization of death is imminent.
this: “Delusional rationalization of death is imminent.”
should instead read: “The day is imminent when delusional rationalization of death is no longer required.”
I bet you took all the booster jabs.
Lol. Just the 2-part primary series and then 1 booster. At this point I’m good.
I bet you believe that vaccines are a “conspiracy”.
Nobody should be forced to get a vaccine, and it was very dystopian that we were in a situation where restaurants were asking to see your vax card before allowing entry (that’s gross even coming from someone who is pro vax), but that said, they work very well, aren’t a conspiracy, and anyone rejecting such basic facts is a moron.
I recently watched this video where a priest is discussing transhumanism. He said something absolutely hilarious and ironic which is that:
“It’s not that transhumanists want too much, it’s that they want too little.”
Now that is RICH, coming from the folks who are satisfied with merely faith (little) and don’t require proof (much). So I would say that you should want MORE than faith.
Sigh. Why do skeptics say such silly things with such arrogant confidence? It’s almost as though they are historically, philosophically, socially, and anthropologically illiterate. Or, not almost at all.
Again another highly ironic statement. You are the one who has an invisible buddy who is also completely undetectable and yet is nevertheless 100% real because you are 100% sure of that.
On whether we should kowtow to the new Caesar of Secularism, Dr. Farrow offers seven responses, including: “This means, fourthly, that the Church must give its concerted attention to the theory and practice of civil disobedience, which was entrusted to it by Peter and the apostles.”
On this response, St. John Paul II already taught (taught!) this: “Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a GRAVE AND CLEAR OBLIGATION TO OPPOSE THEM BY CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION [italics]” (“The Gospel of Life,” 1995, n. 73).
Ah, well, after our physical and cultural death spiral of nearly thirty years, there’s the imaginary arc-of-history thingy…so why not just watch the sitcoms and bobble-headed canned news, as an Aztec priest—cross-dressed as a Catholic layman—achieves the presidency, hell-bent to mandate even post-delivery infanticide?
Not to mention the added drag line of proliferating sexual debaucheries—as in blackmailing foreign-aid nations to roll with anti-binary ideology and even force-feed it to whatever school-age children make it past the abortion gauntlet (e.g., recently Sri Lanka).
Caligula at least had the excuse that he was probably insane. Wait, what?
All I can say is, “Wow!” Preach it, brother. Preach it one and all.
The dehumanization of Man is realized in the eclipse of God. Dr Farrow’s manifesto on the Beast v God.
Beast represents Satan, all the perversity perpetrated and accommodated by the alleged Biosecurity Security State. Coincident with other conspiracy theories much like that of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.
Farrow’s views aren’t farfetched. They’re too many plausible indications. My takeaway is Farrow’s alleged growing medico scientific corruption of the world. And its deleterious effect on the Church. Farrow addresses that corruption in Church obeisance to political medical pressure. What is not addressed here is the extent of Vatican compliance both in obeisance and similarity in vision. This doesn’t preclude Dr Farrow’s actual perception of the policies of the current pontificate, its willingness to accommodate theories of morality that in themselves diminish Man.
However we assess his essay, his solution is clear and absolutely correct. Adherence to Christ and the Church. As to how the individual Christian complies to that Farrow recommends disobedience. More in respect to government. For priests, our dilemma is that these policies are frequently imposed by hierarchy, policies that find favor with our pontiff. That will have to be well thought out by clergy, likely more consistent with resistance.
About the absolute difference between Man below and God above, versus Man as God, the referenced St. Augustine also had this to say:
“I entered into my inmost being […] I saw above that same eye of my soul, above my mind, an unchangeable light. It was not this common light, plain to all flesh, nor a greater light, as if it were, of the same kind, as though that light would shine many, many times more bright, and by its great power fill the whole universe. Not such was that light, but different, far different from all other lights. Nor was it above my mind, as oil is above water, or sky above the earth. It was above my mind, because it made me, and I was beneath it, because I was made by it. He who knows the truth, knows that light, and he who knows it knows eternity” (Book 7, Ch. 10:16).
“For the AI conceptualist, however, it is the commencement of the world to come, the beginning of a perfectly ordered cosmos, a safe haven in which there is no chaos because there is no freedom.”
There is ALREADY no freedom in the sense that “free will” does not exist. I’ve yet to hear a coherent definition of it. You can conceptualize the lack of free will with a simple thought exercise; some trivial philosophy. Can you “choose” your next thought? Of course not. Thoughts and subsequent thoughts only and always appear in our minds beyond our control. And since action is a downstream process, you are in no way whatsoever “free” to think or do whatever you want.
Andrew, good to see you, again posing challenging questions to sanity and reason.
You’re proposing that your own thought pattern here is totally unpredictable. And if you suddenly start jabbering about aliens and goblins that too would be unpredictable. But your patterns remains predictable to the reader. Unless of course your next comment will be jabbering about aliens and goblins?
Fr Morello, no, I said my own thought pattern is UNCONTROLLABLE. But I’m sure I’m quite predictable, and yet my being predictable only further bolsters my position that we are robots executing a program that we did not write. On the flip side, humans are also unpredictable as well. Chaos indeed.
My having provoked such a lengthy response from you suggests that the dilemma I put forward struck an intellectual nerve; that’s excellent. Because indeed, for free will to exist, you need to be able to freely “choose” what to think next. Problem is, that makes no sense, because for that to be the case then you would have to, before that, have chosen to be in that latest choice-making moment, but then before that you would have to have chosen to have chosen to be in that latest choice-making moment. This requires an infinite upstream set of prior choices and becomes immediately apparent to be NOT what’s going on in the mind. A logical absurdity. And that’s what free will is, a logical absurdity. As I said, it is incoherent as a concept.
Obviously the next thought one thinks simply appears in the mind without control, which is not the same thing as saying it appears “randomly”, because it is of course based on the current state of your mind combined with (maybe up to) all prior states.
whoops your response wasn’t that lengthy, I accidentally misread another comment as your name and thought you posted on it again. it’s good to be self critical =)
Andrew, apart from mutual criticism with a dash of sarcasm my concern is real, that is, for your sake. That is, you’re committing yourself, and all your creative possibilities toward what is good and beautiful, consigning yourself as an accident of nature, with some special advantage to think, and with no freedom except the willingness [a free decision] to disappear within evolutionary inevitability. You possess a soul, which is infinitely superior to invented technology.
A human soul is distinguished from the physical world in its reflexive realization of self as distinct from the physical. We can not only manipulate, we can investigate. The technology we create can only operate within the data and forms we invest. It cannot duplicate our intellectual faculty to assess the ever changing variables on the ground, nor our intellect’s capacity to create possibilities, the freedom required to assess them on new terms. As in trials with symbolic logic, the technology of logical inference by use of symbols cannot consistently and effectively duplicate human thought because thought with all its variables cannot be condensed in a symbol.
My hope is that you will come to realize your self defeating journey and accept the fullness of reality.
Andrew, be assured I have no issue with being acquainted on a friend basis with a robot. Although, unpredictability in human thought is infinitely more indicative of free will than robotic determinism.
Self criticism is strictly a human dynamic. Give yourself more credit as a scientifically curious human person suffering chronic skepticism with robotic features.
Andrew Williams…we are dismissively asked “Can you ‘choose’ your next thought?”
For a different thought experiment–since there is no “free will” to choose even our next thoughts–is to ask, therefore, why anyone should give a hoot about the electrons rattling around inside your bubble cranium might signal to your digital appendages attached to your keyboard? And whether your were even free downstream to “choose” to hit the send key, or not.
A less linear view than your own mind trap might we reflect instead on our past thoughts (past as in not future)–and even choose freely among them? And on the big screen, still in line with your subjective thought exercise, Islam projects such inert residue into an entire and fatalistic religion claiming 1.5 billion adherents. That is, God is totally inscrutable and arbitrary: He alone has free will, and we are not at all in His image. On your search “for a coherent definition of [free will],” they also default back to zero free will, with this impenetrable response: “we do not have free will, but Allah allows us to think that we have free will!”
The snake swallows its own tail by rationally disproving rationality. From countless illustrations of such, from the past, please feel free to choose freely (!) the one you like best…or, hate the most! Or both! And, feel free to let CWR readers to know what your synaptic electrons decide…
There appear a broad range of threads drawn together in the above article. I would like to restrict this comment to a question specifically on the Covid thread of the article. Frequenting the sacraments is what we Catholics do. Is Dr. Douglas Farrow suggesting that frequenting the sacraments always comes above every other consideration? Considerations like the health of self and others? Or even helping the odd donkey out of a hole (Luke 14:5)? And if a tiny bit like the St Jacek legend, a faithful firefighter rushed into a burning church to rescue the blessed sacrament from the tabernacle, would it be blasphemy to wear breathing equipment in Our Lord’s nearness? It appears to me that in the rush to draw all the threads together in his thesis, Dr Farrow has failed to give weight to the fact that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass continued even without direct lay participation for a fair while in many places. Personally I drew great strength from this reality. The source of all grace was present in the world at all times. The Son and the Father never withdrew the Spirit. I saw the experience as a call to go deeper into our prayerful reliance on God. And having people in the family who were extremely clinically vulnerable to the virus (one of whom was well medically qualified to come to her own conclusions about the risks without state direction), it was difficult watching Mass online as people greedy for the sacraments started risking infecting the Minister who we would have to consequently delay approaching to receive our Lord. In short, transmission vectors matter, and it pains me to hear respected and learned writers like Carl lend support for such continued and inflammatory anti-vax pot-stirring including as it does hints of mis-information about genetics. Dr Farrow’s rabble-rousing conflation of diabolical aims with societal directions, risks distracting readers from their personal agency in building peace. I truly appreciate much of CWR’s output, but on Covid comments you look to me at least, very iffy.
And, even if Dr. Farrow connects the dots too tightly (intermixing COVID politics with globalism), what if in today’s world we are now subject to compound half-truths and mandated total deceptions? What if the mask culture/fetish was a useless mandate imposed by elitist/ideological scientists with privileged access to government letterheads?
What if, at least, the translation of epidemiological uncertainties into mass policies had simply mandated protection for the vulnerable instead of placing entire societies on hold? On hold at enormous costs ignored: cancer patients untreated and now dead, a young generation isolated and set back two years and with a marked uptick in suicides, entire job-maintaining economies wrecked and government emergency budgets plunged further into long-term insolvency? What if hospitals weren’t paid to label deaths from pre-existing conditions ALL as COVID?
What if common sense still mattered?
And, why are the heavily subsidized marketers of COVID meds now using the cutoff at 55 years old (vs 65)? Too much unused stuff stockpiled on the shelves? Yours truly still sees drivers in cars, with their windows rolled up, still conscientiously speeding along wearing masks.
Here’s a recent assessment (and there are many, many others). Who needs AI when we already have a race of robots? https://townhall.com/tipsheet/scottmorefield/2023/02/05/latest-gold-standard-review-puts-the-final-nail-in-the-coffin-for-masks-n2619180
Here Zuppi is wrong, on principle, from 3 sides:
1. You can not automatically class every encounter with an abortion issue according to some over-arching need to always be stylish and unaffected.
2. You have to include moral bases that allow the pro-life position to advance and to curtail/remove the abortion ideations and practical accessibility.
3. You can not cut out the supposed “gladiator violence” side of the equation and defend and embrace the “abortion violence” side the equation.
That would be on principle. In common sense, Zuppi makes the absolutist error fixing them as “gladiators” to be sidelined because they don’t care.
The reference to the Roman myth helps to confuse the matters not clarify them. High sounding without moral content or direction, is off the wall.
Also depraved, since THIS content is not “grayness” that “may be accommodated”, Abortion law is the murder of the human person by law.
At 67 Zuppi is unable to orient the moral law to meet the minimum of faith and of humanity and of society.
Once again, John Allen is not merely reporting news. His reportage embellishes deformation and propels disinformation, like self-promotions.
“Itching for a brawl”, John Allen, “to settle it”?
All said in the Catechism: “Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.” –Catechism 675
Francis is already working for the coming new world global economy since before they shut down the global economy via Covid: https://francescoeconomy.org/
Thank you very much for this speech. Many of us felt on an island out here in 2020 and later as we actually heard deacons make arguments that wearing a mask is no big deal – it’s an act of mercy and then from the pulpit tell us we would be “martyrs only to ourselves and should completely isolate” if we refused the vaccine. The lack of understanding about what is taking place with this medico-pharma-industrial complex is just amazing.
My only answer to this article is the following:
The Paranoid Style in American Politics, by Richard Hofstadter
This was a weird mix, to be sure. Lots of good stuff out there on the psychology of conspiracy that’s worth reading.
Anyone with a semblance of knowledge of conservatism in the U.S. (actually, anyone with some basic knowledge of American history) knows that Hofstadter’s account was often skewed and ideological, to put it nicely. Heck, even avowed lefties have criticized it. (Go here for a punchy, short critique by a neo-conservative and here for a longer critique by a paleo-conservative.) You insinuate that Dr. Farrow’s analysis is “paranoid,” but not only has his analysis of matters in recent years been quite on point, he’s being proven correctly on a nearly daily basis.
To Thomas James:
Hofstadter culminates his article with the finding that “[p]erhaps the central situation conducive to the diffusion of the paranoid tendency is a confrontation of opposed interests which are (or are felt to be) totally irreconcilable, and thus by nature not susceptible to the normal political processes of bargain and compromise.”
About this “perhaps”…perhaps, also, the confrontation is not simply between “interests”, and perhaps cases do exist where–inside these packaged “interests”–the uncompromising and non-demonstrable first principle of non-contradiction actually applies? The luminary John Rawls proposes that such matters should be eliminated from democratic discourse altogether! Alternatively, some guy named Pope John Paul II observed “[a]s history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open and thinly disguised totalitarianism” (Centesimus Annus, n.46).
Hofstadter includes a quote from 1895—but in another quote from the same year, in the Harvard Law Review (1895) Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. advanced this sweeping “interest”:
“. . . I often doubt whether it would not be a gain if every word of moral significance could be banished from the law altogether. . . .” Earlier, he had written: “I think that the sacredness of human life is a purely municipal idea of no validity outside the jurisdiction” (Mark de Wolfe, ed., The Pollock-Holmes Letters, 1874-1932; Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1942; Vol. 2, p. 36).
Welcome to the culture wars and 2023!
I am beginning to understand the principle that determines which comments get censored, and which do not. If a comment so thoroughly refutes the author (i.e., a priest who recently held that the decline in vocations was the result of Francis’ papacy) that it makes CWR look very bad, it will not get posted. If the comment can be refuted, it will be posted, with a comment by the editor.
As for Hofstadter, I don’t know much about him, but yes, my point was that Farrow’s article comes across as a weird mix of classical theology and paranoid crazy sauce. And you are right, Farrow is usually on point. I loved many of his articles, which is why this one surprised me. I have studied conspiratorial thinking within the past few years (its psychology and logic), and I think the problem arises when people begin to pronounce on areas that are well outside of their area of expertise, such as infectious outbreak management, virology, immunology, vaccinology, epidemiology, public health, etc. In the article, the question was posed by the editor of First Things: “Where are the theologians?” That’s precisely the problem–a complete lack of awareness of the limits of knowledge. Why in the world would anyone think that a theologian is equipped to deal with questions on public health, infectious outbreak management, immunology, vaccinology, virology, etc?
There are lots of good resources today that deal with the psychology of conspiracy thinking, and I am quite convinced that it has everything to do with psychology, specifically anxiety, not to mention some very basic statistical errors, and a failure to appreciate the limits of human knowing.
“If a comment so thoroughly refutes the author…”
You give yourself far too much credit.
“As for Hofstadter, I don’t know much about him…”
I read his book The Paranoid Style in American Politics years ago, while also reading, at the same time, quite a bit of Russell Kirk. Kirk is far, far better. Not even close. For example, Kirk’s Enemies of the Permanent Things (among other works) is still very timely and filled with more than a little wisdom for 2023.
“Why in the world would anyone think that a theologian is equipped to deal with questions on public health, infectious outbreak management, immunology, vaccinology, virology, etc?”
What we’ve witnessed/experienced over the past three years was only partially about health, immunology, etc. And anyone who can read and think can certainly understand more than a little about those topics. But the bigger issues involve politics, ideology, and bureaucratic overreach. And theologians certainly should know a bit about those topics, especially as it regards human nature. So, the better question is: why in the world would anyone think we need to blindly follow experts when facts, data, experience, and commonsense indicate that we really should be questioning their motives, goals, arguments, assertions, etc.?
I’ve been away for a few days and would have replied sooner. I tried 3 times today to reply, but I just get so tired of fighting conspiracy theories and theorists, because nothing changes them. I like Douglas Farrow, but he just got caught in a trap that many who lack a rigorous background in this particular area of medical research (either vaccinology, virology, immunology, infectious outbreak management, and the complexities of public health, etc.) fall into. I am quite lucky to have a good friend who was the surgeon general of Canada and NATO to explain things to me, but I also spent years teaching the logic of the scientific method, which is something that theologians (especially Catholic ones) tend to lack (most of them seemed to have been trained in the old Aristotelian logic, which is fine, but the emphasis is one syllogistic form rather than the plausibility index of the premises and theses). Anyone in the sciences who speaks with a rhetoric of certainty simply does not know what he/she is talking about, which is why very good scientists understand that knowledge is very difficult to achieve and that “truth” is tentative. They know well that new data upsets the apple cart of our maximal consistent sets and drops what was the most plausible hypothesis to a less plausible rung on the ladder, and raises what was previously less plausible to the most plausible hypothesis. This happens all the time in the sciences.
When my friend commanded a hospital, he often ascribed conspiratorial motivations to many decisions and policies from the Federal government that he considered incompetent or sinister. When he later had to make those decisions himself or advise Cabinet or other authorities in their decision-making (with the benefit of knowing all the relevant factors and information), they were usually the same decisions that he had previously condemned in his ignorance. Unethical politicians (almost always Liberals) will sometimes ignore scientific advice and doing the right thing in favour of political expediency, but in situations like COVID with unavoidable harm and multiple competing interests to protect (some mutually exclusive), there’s no black & white and no good decisions, just the least bad decisions to try to prevent people from dying with minimum collateral damage, which unavoidably means a balanced restriction of individual freedoms that threaten the lives of others.
He has had to deal with national public health conspiracy misperceptions many times (Gulf War Syndrome, DDT, Agent Orange, Anthrax vaccine, MMR vaccine, Depleted Uranium, pesticides, etc.). He knows how much illness and deaths such misperceptions have caused (about 20 million dead as a result of DDT misperceptions) and how astoundingly expensive and time-consuming they are to defeat, usually hundreds of millions of dollars in studies to reiterate what has already been proven and up to a decade (or more) of sustained communication effort to overcome media and interest group misrepresentation, all of which is diverted away from useful measures to protect health and lives. Because of the multiple types and levels of science involved, it’s sometimes like trying to explain quantum physics to people who either don’t know or positively reject basic arithmetic. Many conspiracy proponents also have such fixed beliefs, pride, or ulterior motives that no amount of explanation or evidence can ever influence them. With respect to the thousands of armchair experts, there are 3 key truisms we should keep in mind: 1) an MD who is not a specialist in a particular medical subject matter has no better judgement than anyone else, 2) justification of a medical argument based on anecdote (as opposed to large generalized studies or broad scientific consensus) virtually guarantees that it’s false, and 3) assertions that are not supported by a broad consensus among the relevant specialist medical/scientific community are generally false.
People in this area know how many thousands of situation-specific medical, epidemiological, treatment capacity, economic, political, financial, etc. factors that must be considered and balanced in local/regional decision-making, hundreds of which change day to day. But not knowing the status of each of these thousands of factors for each locality, my friend knows that he is consequently completely unqualified (despite his vast medical background) to second-guess the region-specific decisions of those who do know this information. We would, of course, be free to confidently express dogmatic opinions with great certainty if we knew nothing about the subject, like most theologians.
I am quite convinced that conspiracy theories are fundamentally political propaganda.
I do think this article by Douglas Farrow was a mistake. It would have been great if he knew someone in this area of infectious outbreak management and who really understood the models. This particular area of science is utterly complex. Let me try to make an analogy. Think of someone who has just had a conversion experience (a Catholic). He happens to run into a fundamentalist baptist, who is arguing that the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon (Book of Revelation), and that the Catholic Church and all her teaching constitutes a serious departure from scripture, from mandatory celibacy, the papacy, the structure of the hierarchy, sacramental system, morality (i.e., against contraception), elaborate liturgy, etc–and he uses scripture to support his claims, as baptists typically do. To this new convert, all this sounds so convincing and to him it “makes perfect sense”. In fact, he says to himself, “this is common sense”. At this point, he needs to know a good Catholic theologian who has studied scripture for decades, studied the history of the Church, the history of theology, philosophy, dogmatics, ecclesiology, Greek, etc. Let’s say he meets such a person. This person will advise him that he’s making a mistake, that the arguments of the fundamentalist can be defeated, that it is wise to “trust the Church”, at least in the meantime, until he is able to show that the baptist’s understanding of things is way off base. The Catholic theologian has a big task ahead. He’s been studying theology for about 40 or so years, so things are just common sense for him, for he sees it all at a glance. But the new convert is going to have to be patient and listen carefully and learn. If he trusts the wrong guy, i.e., the baptist, on the basis that he “makes sense”, and that what he says accords so much with common sense, he is going to lead himself astray, and it will take years and years until he finally realizes it, if he’s lucky.
I’ve battled conspiracy theories all throughout this pandemic. It’s tiring. But I will say this. Those with a rigorous science background, especially in the area of molecular biology and stats, understand quite readily everything that I pointed out above. Those, however, who have a history background, or backgrounds in English literature, etc., tend not to get this stuff and have a propensity to fall for conspiracies. I am pro-life, 100%, but I have noticed that pro-lifers especially have a tendency to fall for conspiracy theories. The idea that this whole pandemic was contrived is just absolutely ludicrous, especially in light of government incompetence.