Lesson 48- False Shepherds going to Gehenna
As I finished my last program, I was commenting on how the Fish Effect, which is simply the social pressure for conformity which is exerted by all norms, was causing many shy and uncertain people to abandon their traditional norms in favor of new norms which are being put forward by an aggressive minority.
Jesus was right when he compared us to sheep because, like sheep, we are inclined to follow a shepherd rather than to strike out on our own. And this is not wrong because, as I said in my last program, we are norm-seeking creatures which organize our lives and our society around established rules for behavior. We live in communities which means that we have formed a common union around agreed upon norms for behavior. It is as John Donne once wrote, No man is an island no man stands alone. So dont be ashamed if you dont always think for yourself.
The world is too complex and varied for each of us to hold expert opinions on all topics and thus, in those areas where we lack sufficient information and knowledge, we turn ourselves over to those people whom we perceive to be better informed. These so-called experts then become powerful forces which are capable of pulling the group in one direction or another.
Thus, there will always be shepherds whom we will be drawn to follow. Once we have the courage to admit this, then the only issue remaining is whether these are good shepherds or bad shepherds. Are they leading the group in a direction which, in the long term, is beneficial for the survival of the group or are they taking the group in a direction which will benefit their interests in the short term but harm the groups interests in the long term.
For example, the push by gay activists to undermine our traditional views on sexuality may benefit them in the short term, but it will harm them and us in the long terms. Even gay people have a vested interest in heterosexual sex because that is how they got here. If all of their parents were gay there would be no gay people.
Thus, in their shortsighted effort to normalize their lifestyle, they are laying down premises which will be used as a foundation to lead society down paths that even many of the gay people never intended.
First, by divorcing sexuality from reproduction, they have helped to normalize the concept of recreational sex which, as a premise, opens up the door to all types of sexual expressions which, under the previous norm of reproductive sex, were considered abnormal. This was the point that Senator Rick Santorum was making when he warned that if the Supreme Court, in the case involving sodomy laws in Texas, made sexual expression a constitutional right, then it would prevent any state from legislating against any form of sexual expression taking place between two consenting adults. Thus, logically speaking, laws against incest and polygamy would become violation of the constitutional rights of those involved.
We should be very careful of what becomes a constitutional right because, once it is declared, it applies across the board throughout the entire United States and will rebound in directions never imagined by those who declared it. We should be even more careful of allowing a Supreme Court, composed of nine people, to make legal interpretations which have a binding effect on all of us that are in direct opposition to the beliefs, traditions, and expressed will of the majority of the people.
Once sexual norms move from the objective standard of reproduction, which is connected to the logical, scientific left lobe of our brains, to the subjective standard of recreation, which is connected to the impulsive, artistic right side of our brains, it becomes very difficult to find any type of sexual expression which is not normal. At the present time, the line has been drawn at between consenting adults but that is a line that is being blurred and challenged at this very moment. Once moral standards begin to eroded away, the unthinkable becomes thinkable and that is the first step towards it becoming do-able.
There are already forces who are arguing for positive incest based on the premise that ones first sexual experience should be with someone who really loves you and who loves you more than your parents. There are others, such as the National Association of Boy/Love, who are lobbying legislative bodies to eliminate the Age of Consent laws based on the premise that sex is a pleasurable experiences for both the child and the adult so, if the child is willing, why should the law prohibit it.
There is an international network of pedophile who advertise sex tours on the Internet informing other pedophiles of countries where young children are prostituted with little or no interference from the law.
But, you might say, that will never happen here. It is already happening here, as the good nuns who operate Covenant House in New York City will tell you. This ministry takes in runaway and deserted children who are living on the streets. A friend of mine, who like myself, contributes to this worthy ministry, decided to visit it. He said that lined up outside of the building were expensive cars driven by pimps who were waiting for the children to leave so that they could tempt or force them back into the world of prostitution.
And who are the customers? I once saw a documentary in which a young male prostitute was interviewed in which he said that the overwhelming majority of his customers were doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists, businessmen and other professionals. This seems to indicate that well educated and wealthy adults have become sexual predators to uneducated and poor children.
I once read an autobiography by a very famous movie star, who could have had many willing women in his bed. He bragged about the fact that he habitually visited poor areas in Latin America so that he could sleep with thirteen old girls. Obviously he, and other like him, had never heard or have chosen to disregard Jesus statement that it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea than for anyone to corrupt a young person.
Thus, I believe that some well intended gay people, who were not part of the radical fringe, have made a serious mistake by pushing for the normalization of their lifestyle. The moderate members of the heterosexual community, recognizing the gay communities legitimate complaints about gay bashing and harassment, tried to respond to their complaint by offering them tolerance but they wanted approval. And the price of that approval is the restructuring of our sexual norms which, not only applies to them, but applies also to many others.
Where before, they had always argued that their sexual preferences were inborn and beyond their control, we are now witnessing the impact of the new norm on our children as being gay among young adolescents has become cool. I have already mentioned how in the past year two of my students, one female and the other male, asked me Why is everyone gay today? and Why are all the girls bi-sexual? The answer is that norms attract and influence the behavior of people, especially young people.
I find it hard to believe that some of the nice, respectable gay people-and there are many who do not fit the wild stereotype of the gay bars and clubs - ever intended this type of outcome and, if they did, then shame on them. They have become part of a growing minority that is willing to turn reality upside down in order to accommodate their needs. And each time they do they unknowingly open the door to even more extreme deviations. This new mentality seems to say that my needs takes precedence over any general good and whatever norm has to be bent or broken is permissible so long as I get what I want and the natural order be damned! Of course, as I demonstrated in my talk on Situational Ethics, there is no way that anyone can claim a right to bend or break the natural order without, at the same time, logically granting others the right to do the same thing.
And so, as time passes, they will find themselves horrified by the actions of other people who took the path that they helped to build. As Shakespeare once wrote, Oh the tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive. Having rejected the obvious objective truth that the primary purpose of sex is reproduction, they told a Big Lie, and they will be caught in the web of the consequences flowing from their own premise. And, in order to maintain and defend this lie, they will be forced to weave greater and greater deceptions until truth will disappear completely.
We saw it happen with the abortion issue which began with the plea of accommodating our norms and laws to the needs of those with problem pregnancies and now it has reached the point where we have accepted abortion on demand and are destroying normal, healthy human being who are in the birth canal and even those who have been born. And now we will set it happen again with our norms governing sexuality.
It would have been better for the gay community to have accepted, like the rest of us, their roles as sinners and throw themselves on the mercy of God, then to have abolished the concept of sin. By taking the path of the normalization of the abnormal they have steered us away from normal sinning, which an All-Forgiving God is always ready to forgive and forget once we show an intention to repent and reform, towards the only sin that He cant forgive because it is a sin against the Holy Spirit of Truth. Homosexuality, like other sins, is forgivable but the denial that it is not a sin is not. Because it insists that the abnormal is normal it will never repent or reform and therefore it can never be forgiven. As the Bible says: Woe to him who calls evil, good, and good, evil.
We are all sheep and shepherds at the same time because, like sheep we are influenced by the example and lives of others and, at the same time, our own life and example are influencing those around us. Thus, our only issue is whether we or others will be good shepherds who are interested in what is good for the sheep or bad shepherds who are interested only in what is good for us. Let me say emphatically, it is not good for the sheep to replaced objective standards for morality with subjective standards. It is not good for the sheep, to undermine our objective norm for sexual behavior by replacing them with a free-for- all, whatever makes you feel good standard that undermines the existing norm upon which marriage and the family rests. It is in everyones best interest, including those who are inconvenienced or even harmed by these norms, to either to defend them, or at least, not to undermine them.
So far, I have discussed the implications that this issue has on the natural level and, I believe, they are serious enough. However, if the Church is correct in saying that there is a supernatural level which has eternal consequences, then the implications become even more serious. There is good reason to believe that the classic battle in the Bible between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness is really a battle between our rational nature and our animal nature. Our rational nature, which seems to correspond to what the Medieval philosophers called the Intellect and was the basis for intelligence, is capable of knowing primary purposes and objective truth. It was the sources of all logic and science and, because of this, it thought in terms of purposes and consequences. Our animal nature, on the other hand, lived in a world of intellectual darkness where blind impulses and instincts ruled. It was unable to know primary purposes because it was locked in a subjective world of feelings and thus it basic motivating principle was what Sigmund Freud called the Libido or Pleasure Principle and what philosophers called hedonism. Freud calls this animal nature the Id and said that its guiding principle was, if it feels good, do it! And if it doesnt avoid it!
To counterbalance the Ids mentally blind impulse towards pleasure which undermined any chance for humans living harmoniously together in organized society, Freud postulated a moral agent, known as the Superego, which, for the good of the community, had to bring these blind hedonistic impulses under control. Thus, for Freud, civilization resulted from a moral agent, known as the Superego, being able to bring a self-centered, hedonistic animalistic Id under rational control. This was accomplished when a third, or moderate principle, known as the Ego was able to find reasonable compromises between the wild impulses of the Id and the strict rules of the Superego. The social institution of marriage is an example of how this was done.
Medieval philosophers described the same relationship as the conflict between the Intellect and the Will. They described the rational intellect, which was the basis for all intelligence, as a small crippled man who could see, sitting on the shoulders of a powerful, blind giant called the Will. The Intellect could see the goal but had no power to move; while the Will had the power to move but couldnt see the goal. The Intellect, according to these philosophers, was made to seek the Truth which is the real goal or primary purpose of things; while the Will was made to seek the good and when they operated together they would find the Truly Good. However, if the Will went seeking the good without the Intellect, it ran the risk of ending up with a false good. It was the classic relationship between knowing and wanting. Since the Will, not being able to see anything in the objective world, was locked in a subjective world of feeling, it was very prone to evaluate the good according to its pleasure content. It knew hunger but it didnt know nutrition. It knew sexual pleasure but it didnt know reproduction. Therefore, since it was incapable of seeing the Truth, it was prone to missing the mark or target. In other words, it was prone to sin. Once again, the conflict seems to be between a Kingdom of Mental Light and a Kingdom of Mental Darkness.
Helen Keller, in a paper that I quoted in a previous program, described the world she lived in before she acquired language. She said that it was a world of mental darkness in which she didnt know God, nature, good or evil, or death. She said that she thought with her bodily sensations and that she was locked in a subjective world where she was unable to make any connection with others or the objective world. When she acquired language, she described it as being born again and as a blind man coming out of a world of midnight darkness. Only after this enlightening experience where she acquired language did she come to know God, nature, good and evil, and death. Why was this so?
Today, we know that what happened was that the left lobe of her brain, which is the seat of language, became activated and that she came out of the Kingdom of Mental Darkness into the Kingdom of Mental Light and Understanding. Thus, it appears that the left lobe of our brains is the essential difference between humans and animals.
Schopenhauer, the philosopher, noted that animals were all Will, which in todays understanding would means that they had, functionally speaking, two right lobes, because they were driven by blind impulses; most humans, he said, were mostly Will and little Intellect and, thus, unlike animals, were always rationalizing by inventing rational reasons for following their blind impulses. In other words, they only used reason to cover up and explain away their animalistic life style. And finally, he said, there were a few human beings, whom he thought were geniuses, who were mostly Intellect and just a little Will. These people had a dispassionate interest in knowledge because they valued knowledge and truth for their own sake. They wanted to know nature and its laws not so they could use them to make money but simply for the understanding. Of course, this is what Einstein was talking about when he spoke of his awe for the Higher Wisdom behind the universe which he claimed was the source of all true science and religion.
Thus, the left hemisphere of our brain, which seems to correspond to Freuds Superego and the Medieval philosophers Intellect is the source of logic and science and therefore corresponds to the Logos, which St. John says in John I was found in every human being. And of course, according to St. John and Christian theologians, this Logos is Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God. Without His presence in our mental makeup we, like Helen Keller, before she acquired language, would be in the Kingdom of Darkness and live like animals. That is, we would be locked in a subjective world of feelings and impulses. Thus, the movement towards the left hemisphere of the brain is towards the Kingdom of Light, while the movement towards the right hemisphere is towards the Kingdom of Darkness and the movement towards the Kingdom of Darkness is the movement towards our animal roots.
I believe that I have already mentioned in a previous program that the Old Testament word for hell is Gehenna and it means empty thought. In other words, hell, instead of being fire and brimstone, which is a physical terror, would be a state of mental unconsciousness, which would be a spiritual terror. It would be the state of being that Helen Keller found herself in during that period of her life in which she lacked language. Her testimony indicates that there is an essential connection between words and consciousness. For example, if we were to imagine that we, lacking a left lobe, were animals and were able to contemplate the question What is in this room? our answer, if we could give one, would be There is no thing in this room because, without words there is no way that we can separate or bring into consciousness the various objects in the room. Let me demonstrate.
There are people in the world who dont have elbows or wrists simply because their language has never made a separate distinctions between the various parts of the arm. There was a time when you and I didnt have cheeks, or earlobes, or lips because no one had yet taught us the words that made it possible to separate these from other areas of our body. They existed in reality but we were not consciously aware of them as separate entities until we named them. Thus, we could conclude that conscious thought and words are intimately connected and that people with larger vocabularies in any given area are more conscious of that area than people with smaller vocabularies. For example, my brother, a mechanic who knows how to repair a car, is more conscious of it than my wife who simply knows how to drive it. It therefore follows that any creature that lacks a vocabulary, as Helen Keller did during the first seven years of her life, is trapped in Gehenna or empty thought. Like her, they would be trapped in a Kingdom of Mental Darkness or unconsciousness, where, because they lacked the intellectual, logical, left lobe ability for language, they would never be able to analyze reality by breaking it into it parts through words. Therefore, because of this they were incapable of ever knowing the objective Truth which was the only thing capable of setting them free from the subjective prison of blind impulses and passions in which they lived. To use Schopenhauers terms, they, like animals, would be all Will and no Intellect. And that may be the hell of it. For, if, as St. Augustine said, our hearts were made for Thee O God and will not rest until they rest in Thee is true, then it means that there is a built-in eternal longing in all rational being for the Truly Good or the True God. And, without an active left hemisphere, which alone is capable of knowing the Truth, we will always be chasing false goods or false gods. Hell, therefore, from this perspective may correspond to what psychiatrists call free floating anxiety in which a person is in a constant state of anxiety because they sense that something is missing but they cant identify what it is.
I recently read an article about Mel Gibson, the famous movie star who produced and directed The Passion of the Christ in which he told of his return to his Catholic faith after years of trying to live the wild life of Hollywood stars. Having tried all the false goods or gods, he found within himself a longing that they couldnt satisfy. He was quoted as saying, I dont think theres a person living that doesnt have to experience that emptiness at some point, and really ask those big questions.
The Churchs theologians have taught that heaven is the Beatific Vision, which means to be in the presence of God, and hell is the absence of it. Thus hell would be an eternal longing for a homeland that one will never see, for a love that will never be consummated.
I hope that by now you are getting the gist of where I am going with this. Whether you listen Freud, Schopenhauer, Medieval philosophers, Helen Keller, or modern brain researchers, there is a strong sense that there is a conflict between our animal nature, which is rooted in flesh, and our rational nature, which is rooted in spirit. Furthermore, there is a connection between the Kingdom of Mental Darkness, or Gehenna, which is occupied by the devil and his followers, and the animal kingdom which Helen Keller occupied before she acquired language. If this is so, then it means that all of us were born in the same Gehenna or hell and that unless we develop and follow the Logos or Logic within us, we will never get out since only the Truth can set us free. It is interesting to note, that the devil has always been portrayed artistically as a man-like being having horns, a tail, and hooves for feet thereby suggesting a connection to the animal kingdom.
So what might be the spiritual consequences of our societys drift away from the objective to the subjective, from the left lobe to the right lobe, from the rational to the impulsive, from decisions based on facts towards decisions based on feelings? Well, everything in our analysis suggests that we, as a culture, are drifting back towards our animal roots as hedonism becomes the dominant philosophy among our young people who are being peppered with slogans like What ever turns you on, Baby! and Just do it! Therefore, instead of following the Logos within that is capable of leading them out of Gehenna, they are being encouraged to follow their blind impulses and passions which are leading them back into the Kingdom of Mental Darkness. Consider, for example, that the word amusement, which is what life has become for many of our children, means without thought.
Now this is disturbing enough on the natural level because it suggests that we, like all the great civilizations before us, are going down the path to destruction. Arnold Toynbee, a great historian, once said that no great civilization was ever murdered. They all committed suicide. By this he meant that they became great because of a concerted disciplined effort which involved self-sacrifice for the common good and they all collapsed when the succeeding generations lost that discipline and chose to live a life of personal hedonism. The invading armies that conquered them were only pushing over a civilization that was already dead from within.
So those who are leading us down the path of subjectivism, where personal feelings become the standard for right or wrong may, without intending it, be false shepherds leading us towards the death knell of our civilization. But even more important, if our spirit continues to live after the death of the physical body, they may be consigning themselves and us to the Gehenna or hell in which we were all born.
It may be that we have it all backwards. God isnt throwing anyone into hell. He is trying to get us out of Gehenna and that is why he placed His Logos within us in the form of the left lobe of the brain. It is also why, when we failed to follow the inner Logos, He decided send it in the form of Jesus to show us the way to eternal life. And what happens to those after they die who refuse to listen to either the Logos within or to the Incarnate Wisdom of Scriptures? Why according to the Bible, they continue to live in the Kingdom of Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Recently, on Spiritdaily.com, I came across an article concerning a former atheist who became a minister after he had a life-after-death experience in which he was attacked by the forces of hell. He said that they began to bite him and were attempting to devour him alive. Sounds like the animal kingdom, doesnt it?
Are you modern parents willing to give into your childrens hedonistic impulses and ease your consciences by passing it off as a phase they have to go through and thereby chance that at the moment of death they will find themselves in this situation? There is no way that we can know whether what happen to him is true or not. However, it is part of the human record. How much are you willing to bet or risk on your eternal salvation and that of your children?
I hope that this scared the hell out of you and that you in turn will scare the hell out of them. The stakes may be higher than we ever imagined!
The issue is not about being nice people because nice is not enough. The issue is about rational beings who are willing to follow the Truth even when our feelings and those around us are pulling us in a different direction. Jesus once said, Unless you reject your mother, father, sisters, brothers, children, indeed, your own life, you are not worthy to follow Me. And who is Jesus: the Truth and so many of us are willing to distort the Truth when it involves us or those with whom we have a close relationship.
Well, I see that my time is up. Here's Dom.