Lesson 69- The Role of Moderates
Well I hope that you are not reeling from my last program. There were a lot of heavy, complex concepts that I laid upon you, many of which would have benefited if I could have drawn some diagrams for you. As I talked, I kept reaching for the chalk and looking for the blackboard. But, unfortunately, radio doesnt give me that option. After reviewing the program, I also realized that I didnt use the best verbal description because I kept referring to the Hegelian Dialectic as a triangle and what I described was an inverted triangle with the base on top and the point on the bottom. Therefore, for future references let me use the picture of an upright triangle with the base on the bottom and the point on top. With this as our visual representation, the left corner of the base of the triangle would be the Thesis; the right corner would be the Antithesis and the point of the triangle would be the Synthesis. The Synthesis then splits into the base of another triangle with the Synthesis becoming a new Thesis in the left hand corner and a new Antithesis in the right hand corner. Once again they unite into a Synthesis at the point of the new triangle. Each time this happens, the Truth, through a dialectical process, is purified of some misconception and takes one more step closer to the Ultimate Truth or God. I hope that this makes it easier for my listeners to understand how the dialectic works. However, this was not the only problem in my last program.
Another problem arose because I was presenting concepts that might have been threatening to some peoples basic beliefs, including my own. So before I go any further down this path, let me slow down and clear up anything that might have been confusing.
First, I want to apologize to one of my listeners who thought that I had insulted her Hispanic heritage when I gave the example of an Hispanic family in the West Indies who, because of a genetic defect, had daughters that turned into males when they reached puberty. First, this is the only case that I have ever heard of and it certainly doesnt happen to Hispanic women in general or for that matter to any females in general. My wife is half Puerto Rican, and I can assure you that it didnt happen to her.
Second, the point that I was making is that there is a closer relationship between the two sexes than we ever imagined. The evidence indicates that the basic or default sex is female since during the first seven weeks of our existence, we are all females with our sexual organs, for the most part, contained inside our bodies. And those of us who were created by a sperm with an x chromosome meeting with the x chromosome of our mothers egg, will remain female. However, for those of us who were created by a sperm with a y chromosome that met with the x chromosome of our mothers egg, our ovaries dropped outside of our bodies and became testicles, our wombs healed over, and our clitoris enlarged to become a penis, and we were transformed into males. The nipples on our chest are the only remaining evidence that we were once on the path to becoming females.
At this point, if you feel like your world is falling apart as some of your basic assumption about reality are being challenge, my advice is what Pope John Paul II has been saying as we entered the new millennium: Dont be afraid.
As Christians, we have nothing to fear from the truth. The Churchs position is that there can never be any conflict between faith and reason and whenever they seem to clash it is either because we have misunderstood something in the deposit of faith or that the scientific evidence that clashes with our faith is incomplete or erroneous. Therefore, when new scientific evidence reveals something that seems threatening to the faith, the Church reserves judgment and takes a wait and see attitude and, only after its own army of theologians and scientist have investigated and pondered the issue will it give it final opinion on the topic. Thus, unlike our Protestant brothers and sisters, who, lacking a Magisterium headed by the Pope, the Church is able to enter the new while preserving what is good in the old.
In other words, the Church is a living example of the Hegelian Dialectic in which the Thesis, which is the deposit of faith, is constantly being challenged by Antitheses, which are new ideas and insights that challenge this deposit, and the Church through the Magisterium sifts through the evidence for and against the new information and creates a Synthesis which preserves what is good in the old while it incorporates what is good in the new. This is called organic growth because, just like a living body, it is always growing and changing while, at the same time, remaining the same. That Truth is growing and evolving should not surprise us because Jesus Himself had told His Apostles that there were many other things that He had to reveal to them but that they were not ready to receive them. Therefore, after His ascension into heaven, He would send them the Spirit of Truth who would teach them all things. It is interesting to note that it is the left lobe of our brains, which is the Logos or Logic within us that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, which is the truth seeker and the source of all science. And, since John I says that Jesus was the Logos of God who created the universe and all of its laws and He was found in every human being, then whatever truth science reveals comes from Jesus Himself.
Our Protestant friends, on the other hand, tend to go to two extremes. The fundamentalist evangelicals, who are committed to solo scriptura or scripture alone, often outright reject scientific findings that seem to contradict their understanding of the Bible and, consequently, back themselves into intellectual corners where they must constantly ignore or reject the gathering evidence which supports the new idea. On the other hand, liberal Christians Churchs treat the Bible and the traditions of the Church as baggage left over from previous time that no longer applies to our present situations. Therefore, they begin to modify the deposit of faith to match current theories until their identity as Christian churches is either blurred or completely compromised. The fundamentalist evangelicals are a Thesis that permits no Antitheses and therefore they are caught in repeating the same formulas over and over again. Their position is summed up in a bumper sticker which I saw that says: The Bible says it; I believe it; and thats the end of it! The liberal churches are Antitheses that, instead of wanting to integrate with the Thesis, want to replace it. The Church, on the other hand, is the Synthesis which, while protecting the eternal truths contained in the Thesis, is willing to integrate new and deeper insights coming from the Antithesis.
The Hegelian Dialectic is also a model for political or intellectual positions. The Thesis is the conservative position and it serves the valuable function of preserving what is. The Antithesis is the liberal position and it serve the valuable function of proposing what should be. And the Synthesis is the moderate position that integrates what is with what should be and creates a new what is.
In fact, we could even compare these positions with Isaac Newtons Laws of Motion. Newtons First Law of Motion is a body at rest will remain at rest until it is acted upon by an outside force and a Thesis or Conservative at rest will remain at rest until it is acted upon by an outside Antithesis or Liberal. Newtons Second Law of Motion is that a body in motion will remain in motion until acted upon by an opposing force. Thus, an Antithesis or Liberal in motion will keep pushing for change until he meets an opposing force. Translated this means that conservative will never move or change unless they are acted upon by liberals. They will follow a pattern of Thesis to Thesis which will always result in Thesis. It is based on the theory that life is about existing by repeating a circular pattern. But liberals will never stop unless the conservatives forces push back. They will follow a pattern of Antithesis to Antithesis which will always result in more Antitheses which leads to chaos. It is based on the theory that life is about constant change and development. However, as Will Durant, a famous historian concluded: When freedom (or the antithesis) destroy order (or the Thesis) the need for order will destroy freedom The conservatives or Thesis represent the forces of Order and Stability, the liberals or Antithesis represent the forces of Freedom and Change and both have their advantages and disadvantages. In fact, by looking at the Hegelian Dialectic as our model for change we can conclude that todays Liberals are tomorrows Conservatives since the Antithesis or Liberal Principle, once it succeeds in integrating or synthesizing itself into the Thesis, becomes part of the New Thesis and, like all Thesis, it will begin to protect its identity by resisting any changes. Thus, the liberals of the 1960s who demonstrated for abortion, civil rights, womens rights and other liberal causes while singing We Shall Overcome, now, because many of their issues have become part of the status quo resist any demonstrations by counter-revolutionary forces who stand outside of abortion mills while singing We Shall Overcome. When they were on the outside looking in they were for free expression and public demonstrations. Now that they are part of the status quo they want legal restraints on free expression and public demonstrations. For example, Gloria Steinam, a leading feminist, who spoke eloquently for free expression during the fight for feminist issues, tried to gag another feminist by refusing to allow her to speak at a convention when she tried to speak against some part of the feminist platform.
Also, the same liberal forces that used public demonstrations to gain their own agenda, demanded that the government use the RICO laws to prevent pro-life people from blocking the entrances at abortion mills. These laws, which were created to seize the property of organized criminals that resulted from their criminal activity, have been used to take the property of people who have been arrested for blocking the door of an abortion mill. I know of one man who lost his housebecause liberal lawyers argued that he was involved in a criminal conspiracy when he met with other pro-lifers to plan their demonstration. Alan Dershkovich, a liberal law professor at Harvard, warned his fellow liberal that by misapplying these laws to pro-life demonstrators, they threaten the right of all groups to protest against public policy. Had these laws been applied to the demonstrations of the 1960s, Martin Luther King and others would have lost all their property. So, as I said, according to the Hegelian Dialectic, todays liberals, are tomorrows conservatives.
No society can ever progress if conservative forces resist every change no more than life can progress through asexual reproduction in which a one-cell creature keeps cloning itself over and over again in a circular pattern. But no society can even exist if liberal forces refuse to let it stabilize by joining and integrating their views with the existing system. Just as the male sperm must penetrate and join with the female egg to create new life, so an antithesis must penetrate and join with the thesis to create an new synthesis.
And that is why the Thesis or Conservative Principle, like the Female Principle, is the default or foundational principle. It is always the beginning point and the ending point for all change because we need order to exist and freedom to develop and development always presupposes an existing order from which it launches itself. In fact, as Will Durants quote suggests, faced with a choice between freedom and order, we will always choose order and that is why in chaotic times, people, according to Durant, will always go looking for a dictator to restore order. Freedom is a luxury and by-product or an orderly society and it is threatened by two groups: conservatives who resist all change and liberals, who create a backlash, because they dont know when to stop. And that is why, in a free society, it is the moderates or Synthesis who are the backbone which hold the society together. They are the forces which allow for organic growth by integrating or synthesizing what is good in the old with what is good in the new.
Let me show you how this works by using some issues in current history.
In the 1970s, liberal forces pushed the envelop of change by using the Supreme Court to issue the Roe v. Wade decision which made it illegal for any state to limit a womans desire to have an abortion. Notice that I said desire not right because prior to Roe v Wade society did not consider than any mother had the right to kill her child. The Thesis prior to this was that, generally speaking, abortion was consider as the killing of a human being and thus was either prohibited or limited by all of the fifty states. The liberals argued that abortion was necessary to deal with the issues of problem pregnancies which threatened the life or health of the mother and unwanted pregnancies either within or outside of marriage that, according to them, led to unsafe illegal abortions performed by unqualified people in unsanitary conditions.
At the same time, they argued that world population was out of control and that unless the birth rate dropped to zero population growth, the earth would not be able to produce enough food or provide enough resources to meet our needs. Thus, contraception, which before was considered to be immoral and in some cases illegal, became their battle cry for world survival. And when contraception failed, there was always abortion to eliminate reproductive mistakes.
The reproductive purpose of sex was de-emphasized while its recreational aspects were emphasized. Young people were told that so long as they used contraceptives to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, there was nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage.
Of course this entirely ignored the fact that although we might be able to give them a pill or device to prevent pregnancy, there was no pill to protect them against the emotion damage when they gave the most intimate part of themselves to another person who was simply using them for their own gratification. The secular humanist forgot that they werent animals that simply invested their bodies in sex. They were human beings who invested their selves and the rejection and desertion that followed casual or uncommitted sex left deep emotional scars.
In addition, as the new premise of recreational sex replaced the old premise of reproductive sex, it opened the door for the normalization of sexual activities, such as homosexuality, which were previously considered to be abnormal. Having lost its moral compass, the society went into an ethical tailspin.
We were in the midst of a Cultural and Sexual Revolution that seemed unstoppable. The poet Yeats described a similar revolutionary period with the following words:
Things fall apart the center cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the earth
The best lack all conviction
And the worst are full of passionate intensity
Lets analyze what he is saying. Thinks fall apart means that chaos or anarchy is occurring because the conservative or existing Thesis of society is under attack by the Antithesis or liberal forces who want to change it. The center or Moderate forces, who are the best that lack all conviction, have been neutralized by subjective philosophies like Existentialism which teach that there are no objective standards for right and wrong and therefore these moderates are unable to bring about a Synthesis between the contending issues that exist between the liberals and the conservatives. However, although the Moderates have been neutralized with statements like Whos to say?, or Different strokes for different folks! the radicals on both the conservative right and the radical left are absolutely certain about their agenda. In other words, they are full of passionate intensity.
For example, ultra-conservative Catholic, upset by any change, are sure that they are more infallible than the pope and reject anything new and begin to form splinter groups like Pius the Tenth Movement; while ultra-liberal Catholic, attracted to everything new, also believing that they know more than the Magisterium, form groups like Catholics for Choice! However, the future of the Church lies with the Moderates who, remaining faithful to the Magisterium, accept the cosmetic changes in the liturgy while remaining loyal to traditional values.
And what is true about the Church is true about society in general. The conflict between ultra-conservatives and ultra-liberals finds it logical resolution in the synthesis of the moderates.
Let me return to the abortion issue to illustrate my point. Liberal forces serve a good purpose when they point out defects or deficiencies in the status quo through constructive criticism. Conservative forces serve a good purpose when they resist every change until it has proven its value and compatibility with the status quo. Thus, society works best when both liberals and conservatives are doing their jobs properly. And when this happens, it allows moderate forces to find an acceptable synthesis that combines what is best in both. So lets look at what was wrong with the status quo in the 1950s that liberal forces had a right to attack.
First, it is obvious that at some point in time the human race would have to decrease its population in terms of the ability of the resources of the earth to support it. Both of my parents came from families of nine children and that was pretty much the norm for many families at that time. When the population was small and the death rate was high, it was necessary to reproduce at this rate. However, as modern medicine decreased the infant mortality rate and the death rate in general, the population started to increase at an alarming rate. This led some scientists to predict an ecological disaster unless the birth rate was brought under control. They predicted that unless the birth rate dropped to zero population growth within the next 50 to 100 years, the earth would become a festering cesspool of pollution and we would all be facing starvation. In their panic, they began to call for a total restructuring of our sexuality. Recreational sex had to replace reproductive sex as a norm; contraceptives had to be developed and promoted as ways to block conception while still allowing people to derive pleasure from sex. And, if contraception failed or if irresponsible people practice recreational sex without taking the necessary precautions, then we needed to have abortion as the final eraser for unwanted pregnancies.
Also, at that time, many people were totally ignorant of how sex worked or how to bring it under rational control. My aunt on my fathers side told me that when she got married during World War II, she asked her mother how she could delay having children while her husband was in danger of being killed in the war. My grandmother said, Do you think I would have had nine if I knew the answer to that question? Thus, many women had one pregnancy on top of another because they didnt know how to space their children. Therefore, liberal forces argued that we needed to talk more openly about sex and that the schools needed to provide young adults with better sex education. Both of these were probably necessary changes.
Thus liberals, as liberals are prone to do, began to push for radical changes and conservatives, as they are prone to do, began to resist any change. Thus far, the Hegelian Dialectic was working as it should with one force pushing in one direction and the other pushing in the opposite direction. A problem arises, however, when the conflict fails to resolve itself into a synthesis that combines what is best in both.
Hegel once said that any good idea taken to an extreme becomes a bad idea. Reproducing the species is a good idea but if taken to an extreme, it becomes a bad idea. Bringing population under control is a good idea but if taken too far, it too becomes a bad idea. Thus, what is needed is a midpoint that, while asserting our need and responsibility to reproduce the species also asserts that there are rational boundaries to how many children a person ought to have. And it was the Church that provided this midpoint.
Contrary to popular perception, the Catholic Church is not against birth control. The Church recognizes the need to keep reproduction in line with the resources of the earth and the ability of each family to support children. In other words, it agreed with the ends of the secular forces that were concerned about population growth but it disagreed with their means. Therefore, while accepting the need for population control and family planning, it resisted all attempts to change our sexual perception by replacing reproductive sex with recreational sex. It realized that if we changed the basic premise for sex, we would open up a Pandoras Box that would change the very nature of sexuality. Therefore, following a position derived from both the Bible and Natural Law, it called on its members to resist artificial means of birth control and choose instead natural family planning. Since I have already described natural family planning in previous programs, I wont bother to explain it here.
The important thing is that by doing this it kept the focus of sex on its primary purpose of reproduction and blocked any efforts to replace it with the secondary purpose of pleasure. Of course it was criticized by secular forces outside of the Church and by liberal forces within the Church for being old fashion and out of touch with the modern world. While they rushed to judgment and panicked, the Church, with its long-term memory, weighed the situation and came up with a balanced answer that, while recognizing the present needs that were identified by liberal forces, preserved those ancient truths defended by conservative forces. This is because the Church, with its commitment to the higher order or Wisdom from which all natural primary purposes flow, thinks on the macro level that is concerned with the big picture and the long-term while the people of the world, centered on their own micro world of personal interests and satisfaction, are concerned with the small picture and the short-term. They have little or no awareness of St. Thomas principle that secondary purposes, which are often personal and subjective, are alright so long as they either help or at least dont interfere with primary purposes which are general and objective.
Unfortunately, not only do the people of the world fail to understand the Churchs position but so do many Catholics. The problem is that so many of our priests and teachers are either ignorant or unqualified to explain it to the rest of us. Therefore, the wisdom of the Church falls on deaf or resistant ears and even those who would benefit most from the Churchs premise, fail to understand the rationale for its position. For example, the environmentalists who often are the greatest supporters of population control by any means necessary and are opponents of the Churchs position fail to see that it is the Churchs premise that is most compatible with their own views. We will never learn to respect the natural order and how to live in balance with its laws until we understand that there are natural primary purposes on the macro level that take precedence over our secondary purposes on the micro level. We will never solve the ecological problems of the earth until human beings, no matter what their numbers, learn to respect the natural order and to operate within its laws.
So what has experience taught us about the decision of the world to follow its secular gurus while ignoring the wisdom of the Church. Well, here are some of the consequences that we are reaping from what we have sown.
First, Europe and the United States are on the path of genetic suicide as their population rate continues to drop well below the replacement level. It was recently reported that the population of the United States has dropped by 38%.
Second, Islamic and Third World populations will replace them as dominant forces in world culture. Thus, Christianity is being replaced by Islam in many areas, not through conversion, but simply because their birth rate is much higher than those of Christians.
Third, recreational sex, having replaced reproductive sex in the minds of many people, has open the door for all types of sexual consequences. Young people who used to be told emphatically by parents to not play around sexually are now being given a mixed message of dont play around but if you do protect yourself. Every young person knows that this means its alright to play around. The result is, given the general irresponsibility of young people, that the number of children born outside of marriage has increased by 400% since the 1950s. The problem has become so bad that we had to normalize it by changing the negative term, broken family, with the more positive, single parent family. The number of abortions since Roe v Wade is over 42 million. Where the number of divorces before 1960 was 1 out of every 6, it is now 1 out of every 2. Also, 62% of todays marriage dont last more than 4 years. Sexual activity, according to my students, begins for many in the 5th grade or, according to some, even earlier. Sex education in our public schools has been dominated by the attitudes of Planned Parenthood and other liberal sources. As a result, students, having failed to heed the advice to use contraceptives, are now being told to replace normal sex with oral sex and mutual masturbation. Homosexuality, once consider to be abnormal, has moved from tolerance to normality as straight students tell gay students that they envy them because being gay is so cool. Our entertainment industry keeps pushing the envelope in terms of vulgarity and sexual promiscuity. Prime time TV is following suit as fornication, adultery, and homosexuality become common place in their story lines. Sexually transmitted disease have reached epidemic proportions and it has been estimated that over 50% of the students in the Philadelphia school system carry one or more sexually transmitted disease.
Need I go on with this litany of negative consequences. We are simply reaping what we sowed and have no one to blame but ourselves. It just as the poet Yeats said:
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the earth
The best lack all conviction
And the worst are full of passionate intensity
If we dont wake up to this, the liberal forces who are raising these antitheses to our traditional values will continue to push the envelope. I have already mentioned that there is a NAMBLA Society composed of pedophiles who are urging state legislators to change the molestation laws to allow sex with children. Their motto is sex before eight or else it is too late.
These liberal forces, like Newtons Second Law of Motion, will continue in motion until they meet an opposing force. Fortunately, there are conservative forces which are active in doing this. However, they are dismissed as religious fanatics by the liberal media because they argue from a religious basis. What is needed is for Moderate forces to join ranks with them armed with rational arguments and objective evidence that they cant rationally dismiss. In other words, we must have philosophical and scientific argument based on logic and evidence to back up our religious beliefs.
We fall into their trap when we argue that abortion is wrong because each child has a soul created by God, no matter how true that is. This allows the other side to argue that we are imposing our religious belief upon them. We would do much better by arguing from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the violation of the unborn childs civil and human rights. The Declaration of Independence, which contains the philosophy upon which our nation was built, clearly states that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And the Constitution clearly states that no person shall be denied life, liberty, or property without due process of law and that no state can deny any person the equal protection of the law.
By doing this we make our position, which is an antithesis to the current thesis, more palatable and convincing since it is being presented in a form based on premises which are already part of the status quo.
Well, I see that my time is up. Let me take up in my next talk this issue of making our arguments palatable by couching them in term with which the other side is in agreement. Heres Dom
Well, I see that my time is up. Heres Dom.