Formerly the Thinking Catholic Strategic Center
What, exactly, is this thing we call ethos? The dictionary will tell you that it defines the characteristic spirit or attitudes of a community.
Doing good critical thinking on any matters other than purely material or mathematical requires the consideration of certain social objective truths upon which the larger society is founded. If the question under consideration is strictly within the realm of, say, chemistry or physics, then the only external givens or axioms that need be considered involve pre-established scientific theory or law and proven mathematical formulae.
But as the subject under consideration moves into the realms of the social, cultural and political, there is another set of fixed external truths that increasingly come into play. These objective truths come out of what we call our cultural ethos. Our ethos defines who we are, what kind of people we are, and how we may be expected to behave.
Invariably, these external objective truths come out of religion.
It should be safe to state that as a universal truth; I'm sure if it's not true for some ethos in some culture, someone will point it out soon enough. From the arctic circle, to tropical rain forests, to deserts, plains and steppes, to mountain regions, to islands of all sorts, and to big cities, the cultural ethos encountered will have come out of the religion of the predominant ethnicity or current culture being observed.
The single thing, the glue, that links freedom from crime, economic freedom, and that quality which we all call human decency, into one recognizable behavior system is the Ten Commandments. The first ones deal with our personal and collective relationship with God, or our faith; the rest deal with our relationship with each other in society, or our works; which is to say, our morality. If our faith is right in the first place, our good works will naturally follow, almost on auto-pilot. Each social commandment carries with it strong implications of certain attitudes and rights, which bear strong similarities to those promoted by ideals of Democracy, and free markets, and the American ideal. It is on these rules of morality that the civil law and the ecclesial law must agree if society is to live harmoniously.
On the First Tablet that came down the mountain with Moses were those first Commandments spelling out our relationship with God - the basis of our theology.
These First Commandments were all summarized into the
First Great Commandment, as follows:
On the Second Tablet that came down the mountain with
Moses were those last Commandments spelling out our relationship with
each other, and our fellow man - the basis of our morality.
These Last Commandments were all summarized into the
Second Great Commandment, as follows:
It is primarily in the First Tablet Commandments defining our religious ethos that we all most significantly begin to diverge, between Jews, Catholics, and the various denominations of Protestants. These are the Commandments of relationship with God, which represent a basis for Ecclesial Law but should not ever be addressed by Civil Law, except that no civil law should seek to outlaw or interfere with them. The Second Tablet Commandments defining our cultural ethos represent those moral rules which we all, in our diversity, hold most in common. Christians and Jews of all variety recognize them in Ecclesial Law, and these are the standards that all civil law should be based upon.
Before addressing the cultural ethos what we hold most in common, let's talk about our religious ethos differences.
First, let's look at the rather glaring difference between the Jewish and the Catholic religious ethos.
I think everyone will agree that no one can keep all the whole Law perfectly. The Jews have an annual Day Of Atonement to ask God's forgiveness for their transgressions of the Law. Which is an admission that they are unable to keep the Law in its entirety without violating "the least of its precepts." What we are all called to do is keep the whole Law in the letter and in the spirit; but we are imperfect human beings. This notion still carried into Christianity, as St. James said "whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point is guilty of it all." [Jas 2:10; Gal 3:0; 5:3]
The major turning point between the faith ethos of the practicing Jew and the faith ethos of the practicing Catholic revolves around Who Jesus Christ was, and is. Catholicism says He was the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and, God. Judaism disagrees with that teaching. Thus, some major religious cultural differences, since the Christians-only New Testament clearly put aside much of the 613 Commandments of the Mosaic Law, and even changed the Sabbath day observance from Saturday to Sunday, the Lord's day, the day Christ rose from the dead; but Judaism rejects the New Testament, retains the Old Testament, and all of the Old Law.
Does this mean that the Jews can't make it into Heaven, because no one gets to Heaven except through Jesus? Don't bet on it; I'm not the final judge of salvation and neither are you. Much is made, by many, of the Catholic doctrine that says outside the Church there is no salvation. But most of the "experts" who put an absolute literal spin on that one sentence of the doctrine while ignoring the rest, never even mention the other doctrine that says that the Magisterium alone is the final interpreter and teacher of Tradition and Doctrine. All Catholics are called to listen attentively to the Magisterium.
Pius IX said, in an allocution on December 9th, 1854:
And then in his encyclical Quanto conficiamur moerore he said:
The Catechism teaches that Justification is achieved through a cooperation between God's Grace and man's Free Will. If a man seeks God according to the light he is given, he has every chance at Justification. It is not ours to know any of the mysterious ways of God, let alone how He judges anyone.
Jesus Himself told us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all made the grade, although none of them ever heard the name of Jesus in all their Earthly days. He told the Samaritan woman at the well that salvation is from the Jews. We know that all mankind, including Jews, represented by the incited mob, and Gentiles, represented by Pilate and the Romans, participated in the prophesied final sacrifice of our Lord. We can say that we are all, without exception, redeemed by Christ’s death on the cross — Christians, Jews, Moslems, even animists living out in the rain forests, by 1 Tim. 2:6, 4:10, 1 John 2:2. But our full individual benefit from the redemption that Christ provided is still contingent on our individual free will response to it, to the degree that we are not invincibly ignorant of it.
The most immediately observable cultural differences brought about by this major religious difference in ethos involves the religious Jew's attempts to remain Kosher, under the Old Law, and therefore maintaining at least a partial separation between themselves and all non-Jewish members of the larger culture.
Many today contend that the only differences among Catholics, in Catholic practice, liturgy, adherence to teaching and so forth are related to whether one is a Conservative Catholic, or a Liberal Catholic. This is absolutely wrong. There is no such thing as Conservative Catholicism and there is no such thing as Liberal Catholicism. There is only correct Catholic teaching; and, of course, there is incorrect Catholic teaching. What we are talking about is Orthodoxy - correct, traditional, most widely recognized teaching - and Heterodoxy, which may be defined as opposing Orthodoxy. A Catholic teaching is either correct, or it is incorrect. There is only one Catholic Church, and there is only one Catholic Church teaching.
The religious as well as the moral guiding ethos of the most orthodox Catholics is quite easy to describe. It's all spelled out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The most orthodox practicing Catholics embrace everything that's in it, with no exceptions, reservations, modifications or hesitations. But heterodox Catholics will pick and choose from among the Catechism's Magisterial teachings the ones they will live by, and how rigidly they will adhere to any of them, as a simple matter of cultural convenience.
The Catholic dioceses of Arlington, Lincoln, Peoria, Wichita, Bridgeport, Omaha, Atlanta and Rockford are all quite orthodox in their Catholicism, due to the orthodox teaching of their diocesan Bishops. And you will find no priest shortages in these orthodox dioceses. Quite the opposite; you will find an over-abundance of priests. The one thing they all have in common is complete and absolutely orthodox teaching of Catholic faith and morals, unvarnished, with no compromises. The ancient, unchanged Catholic ethos is clear and present in these dioceses.
But most of America's dioceses display a different ethos, which in some dioceses approaches the "whatever" ethos of the blowing-with-the-wind agnostics and atheists. The reason is that most of America's diocesan bishops are either heterodox in their own Catholicism, or, they are too weak to properly fulfill the requirements of their office.
We have before us the disgraceful situations in which Catholic priests and bishops participate in and help someone to not only commit open sacrilege, but to do it in a publicly scandalous way. Such as giving Holy Communion to the world's most recognized public champions and political sponsors of abortion, and to open, professed, public sodomites, and to non-Catholics like the Clintons, who don't even believe in the Catholic Eucharist, or anything else the Church teaches, and so forth. Kerry and Kennedy and the Clintons of the world are so publicly at odds with Catholic Church teaching that they may quite accurately be called anti-Catholics, and yet they brazenly come forward for Catholic Communion, and are helped to commit open, scandalous sacrilege by Catholic clerics. What kind of a supposedly Catholic religious ethos do these priests and bishops thereby project to the larger world, and encourage their lay followers to adopt for themselves?
I have talked about "official" heterodox Catholic teaching at the hands of American bishops in many different WebPages and articles, including even the Home Page, but most particularly in the Cafeteria Catholic 1, Cafeteria Catholic 2, Cafeteria Catholic 3, Cafeteria Catholic 4 and Cafeteria Catholic 5 pages. All of these present examples of a heterodox Catholic ethos that appears to be dominant in America.
Note well that, in the Roman Catholic Church, the diocesan bishop has sole responsibility for proper Catholic catechesis in his particular church (diocese or archdiocese.) Pius IX taught us about the principle of invincible ignorance, and how the invincibly ignorant can get into Heaven. But John Paul the Great taught us that those responsible for invincible ignorance will go to Hell.
America needs more bishops like Lincoln's Bruskewitz, and fewer like Cincinnati's Pilarczyk.
And more of America's Catholics need to become thinking Catholics.
Who's a Christian?
First, what we must all hold in common, if we would call ourselves Christian, includes the Christian Creed, which is our public and solemn profession of faith. The Nicene Creed was drawn up in the General Councils of Nice in 325, and of Constantinople in 381, to condemn heretics who denied that Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are God. The doctrines of the Creed are the strongest doctrines in Catholicism, and they define Christianity. The Creed forms a summary of the life of the Christ, and has its basis embedded throughout the New Testament. The Creed joins the Commandments in the Christian ethos. This is the Credo; all practicing Catholics are required to publicly profess it out loud at every Mass.
This is an exact English translation from the Latin Credo that comes down to us through the centuries and millennia. I submit that anyone who cannot truthfully profess the whole thing is not a Christian, and operates from another religious ethos. I believe that just about every major Protestant denomination does indeed profess it.
Some of those sects who do not and cannot truthfully profess the Creed are quite significant, in size, wealth and influence. Some cannot profess the Creed because of a claim to some later, post-Apostolic era Revelation and/or Prophets claimed to be of equal or greater religious authority than
Some even believe in multiple gods, some deny the Trinity, and some make Jesus into an angel. Included among these non-Christian religions, or cults, or whatever they are, are the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons, among others. The behavior-guiding religious ethos of these sects is foreign to Christianity, and, for some of them, even their cultural ethos is radically different from ours.
Now, these people may consider themselves to be Christian, and they may be recognized by the civil authorities and the IRS as Christian, and many in good charity may refer to them as they refer to themselves, as Christian. But none of those things make them Christian, and the Catholic American Thinker does not recognize them as Christian. I don't know what they are, but I do know what they are not, and Christians should not just stand by and allow them to hijack the Christian name for themselves. Christianity is not an anything goes religion, yet; although it may appear to be moving in that direction. To my knowledge these sects have never been condemned by the Catholic Church, because their founders were never Catholic, and they didn't break off from Catholicism, but from Protestantism. So, they are not Catholic heretics, because they never proclaimed any heresy inside the Church. Many if not most Protestants agree that these sects are not really Christian.
Solidly embedded within the guiding religious ethos of many of the newer Protestant denominations is the rather strange notion of absolute assurance of salvation. Many of these disciples claim for themselves that they are saved, and the most frequent question they will ask anyone else is, are you saved? In the guiding ethos of the Catholic, we are redeemed, or purchased at a great price, by the blood of Christ shed for us at Calvary. And we are born again of water and the Spirit [John 3:3] through the Sacrament of Baptism. The predominant Protestant ethos denies that being born again has anything to do with Baptism; but the unavoidable presence of the word water in John 3:3 is problematic for that view. You can't get that word out of the verse, and you can't explain its presence there other than that it's speaking about Baptism. In Matt 28:16-20 we see:
I submit that this is what Jesus is talking about in the Baptismal discourse with Nicodemus in John 3:3 that so much of Protestantism misinterprets. John 3:3 made Baptism a requirement for Christian justification, but it gave no permanent assurance of salvation.
There are TV Fundamentalist and Televangelist preachers who insist that being "born again" as in John 3:3 involves proactively turning to Christ, and, accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior, repenting of sin, and turning to God with the whole heart as a little child. Which is not a bad thing to do. Once you have done that, they claim, you are saved. And some of them will claim further that your new salvation cannot be undone, no matter what you do. Including turning or returning to a life of sin; any sin, even genocide. This belief has actually become part of their ethos; note that it opposes the Catholic ethos.
St. Paul obviously disagreed with this interpretation. By the religious ethos described above, Paul was "saved" by his rather shocking religious conversion experience that began on the road to Damascus. But if he was already saved, then, why did he need to be Baptized? In Acts 9:18-19 we read:
Again in Acts 22:16 we see another version of the same story, in which we read:
Now, why would Paul need to wash away any sins through Baptism if he was already saved in perpetuity? Yet some of today's preachers will preach that all you have to do is make an Altar Call at church, announce that you've accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, and if you really mean it, you're set for life. Nothing you or anyone can do can undo your salvation, see? This points out a truly major behavior-guiding difference between the Catholic religious ethos and the Protestant religious ethos (of some Protestants, not all.)
But this very popular notion so prominent in the Protestant religious ethos flies in the face of Jesus' own words. Look at Matt 25:31-46, for instance:
Don't look now, but our Lord is here talking about our works, and how we are to be judged when He comes. He will find us in a state of grace, or in a state of sin, depending on how we have been behaving, not on how we might have proclaimed ourselves saved, once upon a time. This is part of the orthodox Catholic ethos. He tells us in Matt 24:13 But he who endures to the end will be saved, indicating that there is a need to endure and to persevere in the face of temptation. This agrees with the Catholic ethos that insists our free will is involved in our salvation, not just once, but every day and potentially even every minute of our lives. After our Baptism, our salvation is ours to lose, by our free will choices.
God speaks to us through Romans 11:22-23:
And in Hebrews 10:26-27:
And in 2 Peter 2:20-21:
St. Paul warns quite specifically against declaring yourself or anyone else "saved" in 1 Cor 4:3-5:
And Paul worries that even he could fall away and lose his reward, in 1 Cor 9:27:
And Paul instructs us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, in Phil 2:12:
Which doesn't sound like Paul felt that salvation was anything anyone could be assured of. Scripture alone pretty well refutes the notion of assured salvation in the Protestant ethos. In the Catholic ethos, we see ourselves as redeemed by the blood of Christ, born again of water and the Spirit through Baptism, working out our own salvation in fear and trembling, one day at a time. But, we can still be fairly confident, as we practice our orthodox Catholicism. I can testify that, once converted, it is not difficult to stay out of mortal sin. (For a discussion on mortal versus venial sin, see the Catholic Prayer page.) The best salvific tool we have is our well developed, behavior guiding, orthodox Catholic ethos.
Which brings us to the two major defining Protestant dogmas, which are Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) and Sola Fidei (Faith alone,) which are at the core of the Protestant religious ethos, and both of which oppose the Catholic religious ethos. To my knowledge, all denominations, including even those who call themselves non-denominational, who adhere to these two dogmas are, almost definitively, Protestant denominations. Both dogmas were first defined by the Augustinian monk and Catholic priest Martin Luther, when he broke away from the Church Christ founded, and the Protestant church(s) was (were) born. Even the non-denominational denominations that hold to these two dogmas trace their ancestry back to Martin Luther, the first Protestant. And so they really are denominations of Protestantism, regardless of what they choose to call themselves.
Scripture alone is refuted by Scripture itself, as we see the first rule of Scripture study in 2 Peter 1:20-21:
The men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God are the Apostles. The same Church that co-authored the New Testament, with the Holy Spirit, retains the right to interpret it for others, and to interpret and teach from the sacred Deposit of Faith from which it came. But in the prevailing Protestant ethos, each man is his own interpreter, and potentially his own new denomination. Yet Scripture tells us that there is more than Scripture to consider in learning and following in The Way, as Paul instructs us in 2 Thes 2:16:
But, the holding of the Catholic religious ethos has nothing to prove here. If the Protestant ethos holds that Scripture is all that is needed by man for his salvation, that there is no need for any other authority or hierarchy or capital-T Tradition needed, then, they ought to be able to show by what authority they hold to such a strange thing. Certainly not Scripture; we've seen where Scripture refutes individual lay interpretation, and I submit that there most certainly is no Scripture that establishes Scripture alone as the sole authority either for salvation, or for teaching and/or learning Christianity. Scripture alone is a myth. (There will be more on this in planned future pages on The Reformation and on The Bible.)
It's a similar situation with Faith alone. The Protestant ethos holds that man is saved / justified by faith alone and holds, incorrectly, that Catholicism holds that man is saved / justified by works alone. The Catholic ethos holds that man is saved / justified by unmerited grace, which must be cooperated with by faith, and once faith is perfected, it will manifest itself in works. The Catholic Church does not and never did teach that man is saved by faith alone, or by works alone, or by anything alone.
The only place in Scripture where the words works and alone, or the words faith and alone, are found together in the same verse is in James 2:24:
So we have it in Scripture itself that man is not saved by faith alone. And yet, the solidly established Protestant ethos insists that you can save yourself through absolutely nothing but faith. Even though the other dogma of Scripture alone is in that ethos, and we've just seen what Scripture has to say about faith alone, turn on your TV and you'll hear some Protestant preacher holding forth on salvation by faith alone.
What can I say?
Moving on to morality.
The preceding religious ethos discussion based itself on divergent interpretations of the First Tablet Commandments, summarized into the First Great Commandment, from which spring our religious beliefs and practices. As we have seen, within Western Culture, they are quite diverse. But we now turn to the cultural ethos which is based upon the Second Tablet Commandments, summarized into the Second Great Commandment, from which spring our moral beliefs and practices. Here, we all share much more common ground. Differences here are based not so much on whether we are Jew or Catholic or Protestant, but on the strength of our Judeo-Christian belief, or our unbelief.
As I said at the beginning of this WebPage, each Second Tablet commandment carries with it strong implications of certain attitudes and rights, which bear strong similarities to those promoted by ideals of Democracy, and free markets, and what has become known as the American ideal. It is on these rules of morality that the civil law and the ecclesial law must agree if a Western Culture society is to live harmoniously. Let's look at what rights are implied in these Commandments.
For thousands of years the world has recognized that these Commandments represent what are called the wise restraints that make men free. When any of them are weakened, so is freedom weakened. Only so long as we all agree to adhere to these quite reasonable rules can we trust each other and cooperate together. When that is no longer the general case, we begin the decline into barbarism. Even in the absence of faith, these wise restraints remain the best rules for human conduct ever written, and they remain the best possible foundational basis for civil law. This is what all the world knows as morality.
The original source of early conformity to this morality came from the motive of obedience to Divine will; unfortunately, much of that original motive is lost in America today, at least in civil law, although much of the morality remains, even if only a residue in civil law. Even in many pagan nations, you will find today direct application of “our” morality, because it is so widely recognized as natural law, as practical, and as very nearly indispensable for the predictable and peaceful conduct of men as social beings.
It is in this area that Judaism, Catholicism and Protestantism most agree with each other, and hold the most in common. Differences stem from recognition and adherence to various sub-doctrines that flow from the Commandments, not from the Commandments themselves. For instance, there is disagreement in the area of sexuality and chastity doctrines that flow from Thou shalt not commit adultery, as seen in diverse views of such topics as divorce and remarriage, and even in abortion, and so forth.
However, although there may be denominations that seem weak, or, if you prefer, neutral to subjects like abortion-on-demand, to my knowledge there is no recognized Jewish, Catholic or Protestant minister who clearly promotes it. And if any minister does promote it, then they, like those ministers who proclaim the goodness and promote the social-acceptability of homosexuality, are generally recognized by the wider culture to be heterodox ministers, outside the norms, who are not representative of the larger faith community to which they claim to belong. The fact that one Protestant denomination appears today to be splitting itself into at least two separate denominations over the issue of homosexuality does not, at this moment, appear to be of momentous importance to the overall Western Culture Ethos in America, which still condemns homosexuality and other forms of illicit sex.
So we see that we have certain inalienable rights implicit in the Commandments. Our Declaration Of Independence enumerates more, including Equality, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We have our Constitution, which establishes a purely representative government, described by Lincoln as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our Founders insisted on a Bill Of Rights establishing the notion of citizens not being subservient to government, but cooperative members of their own government, before they would ratify the Constitution of the United States of America. So, lets look at the original Ten Amendments that formed our Bill Of Rights at the time of Ratification.
By these rights, we can see that the American cultural ethos might differ from the General Western Culture ethos of which it is a part, in that Americans might see themselves as more individually independent than other Westerners who do not have for themselves such a Bill Of Rights.
In the American ethos, no one dictates our religion to us, or takes it from us, or suppresses it without the expectation of very strong and eventually successful resistance. Likewise our guns, and our houses, and our political pamphlets (or, today, our blogs), and our free associations, and so forth. So long as our activities are within the law we have every right and every expectation to not be dictated to by our government, or by anyone.
All of this freedom demands of parents, God-parents, the extended family and ministers that all American children be carefully raised to be instilled with a well formed conscience, recognizing first the very reason and purpose for being, and second, possessing a good foundation in the Laws of God, and finally, respect for the laws of America. The American ethos is, after all, a reflection of our collective sense of morality, and our morality most naturally and most effectively springs forth from our religion. We are an overwhelmingly Christian nation whose largest religious minority is Judaism, and our common American cultural ethos therefore springs forth from our Judeo-Christian belief.
Does Unbelief even have a guiding ethos?
We have seen that the errors of the Modernist Heresy brought about in Western Culture a marked over-emphasis of Material Science over Theological Science, and gave birth to the antagonistic and very proactive anti-Judeo-Christian belief system called Secularism. The most visible effects of Modernism and Secularism involve large numbers of Western people who have become practical atheists. A practical atheist is defined as one who goes about his life and his daily business as if God did not exist, or, in other words, as if he were in truth an atheist. While he may still profess a religion, and he may attend some liturgy once a week, he lives all the rest of his life just as if he had no religion at all.
As a man loses touch with external, objective, behavior-guiding principles of life - either his personal sense of morality or his culture's ethos - he no longer lives a directed or a purposeful or an identifiably moral life. He begins to randomly drift on the ever changing currents of culture, and to aimlessly blow with the varying winds of politics. Judeo-Christian morality emphasizes the other. When that's gone, emphasis shifts to the self. When there are no longer any external truths, our thoughts turn inward.
Practical atheism inevitably leads to actual atheism, not only for the individual, but for those around him. A practical atheist may not be expected to raise believing children, or to even set a good example for others as a believing role model.
In the Catholic Prayer page I talked about getting through dryness in prayer, and crisis in faith periods with repetition and self discipline. By praying "Lord, for whatever I lack this day in faith, let me make up for in faithfulness, in acting as though my faith were perfect. Lord, help me through these prayers and strengthen my faith," and then, through self discipline, praying the Rosary, or the Psalms, or singing your favorite Hymns, or whatever repetitious prayers might be most efficacious for you. Eventually, by your continuous acts of faithfulness, your strong faith will return.
I submit that the reverse is also true. If you live enough of your life as a practical atheist, as if God did not really exist for you, you will become a real atheist. In habitually acting as though you had no faith, you will eventually lose whatever faith you have.
As I said earlier, the original source of early conformity to the morality on which the Western ethos is founded came from the motive of obedience to Divine Will. The atheist doesn't believe in any Divine Will. To the agnostic, there may or may not be a Divine Will, but who can know it? The practical atheist and the weak believer don't even think about it, except maybe on rare occasions after a sermon on some Saturday or Sunday, unless there's a football game on TV, or the fish are biting, or golf-trumped-church again.
In the absence of any willful submission to Divine Will, what motivates conformity to the larger cultural moral ethos, which, hopefully, is backed up by civil law?
The sight of a very large cop, with a club and a gun, and the knowledge that the cop practices regularly with his weapons, and that a defining part of his job involves the application of physical force to uphold the law and maintain order. And that he has backup readily available, and that society in general and the courts in particular stand behind him.
The only reason for the atheist to remain within the norms of society is the possibility of being hit by the cop and/or thrown into jail. Atheism is amoral. Atheism defines what is right or wrong not by any external moral norms, which for him do not exist, but only by outcomes of actions, after the fact, not before. If the outcome of an action can be predicted to be or actually is good for him, then it was right; if it could be predicted to be or actually was bad for him, then it was wrong. Once the practical atheist or weak believer inevitably becomes an actual atheist, he has no identifiable morality, or any fixed external moral rules to live by. So the only motive for the atheist to stay within the law is the visibility of the cop, and he will stay within the law, at least while the cop is in sight.
Once God is gone, there is a very large void in the psyche of the atheist, and nature abhors a vacuum.
Bishop Sheen noted that most people think than when someone becomes an atheist, that he will believe in nothing, but this is wrong. He will believe in anything. The void created by the loss of an ethos can easily be filled with an attractive ideology. And the void created by the absence of God can be filled by anything, including even a person, such as a Hitler, or a Stalin, or a Mao, once a complimentary ideology has been adopted.
Once the new atheist accepts the notion of materialistic atheism, which says that all there is and all that exists is matter, he is ripe for conversion and acceptance of the dogmas of Darwinism, Freudianism and Marxism. Each of which is a spin-off denomination of their parent religion of Scientism, which is itself a spin-off denomination of its parent religion of Modernism.The new disciples of materialism will be lead down the path by all of TTRSTF4 who are the world-recognized apostles and preachers of Darwin, Freud and Marx. And their belief will be strengthened by the SLIMC1 , who have become the chief apologists for the new faith of materialism and its various denominations, and the systematic opponents of the whole Western Culture ethos.
We have discussed the destructive effects of Darwinism, Freudianism and general dogmatic materialism on the scientific method and on the objective quest for Truth. But all that pales in comparison to the damage done to the Western Culture ethos by the dialectic materialism born of Marxism. Western Culture has its guiding ethos. Marxism has no ethos; what it has is an ideology, and it seeks to grow by replacing any existing ethos it encounters with its ideology.
As the external ethos is weakened or destroyed, random ideologies become more important, because, as Marxism has proved, it is possible for ideology to replace ethos. The current Western Culture political argument is between the Left, Liberal, Marxist-Socialist position, and the Right, Conservative, Capitalist, Democratic position. Most people have never really studied and do not understand the vast moral differences between these positions. Let's refresh, with some brief, nut-shell explanations. Compare the brief overview given at the Pure Democracy Definition page to the brief overview at the Pure Pure Socialism Definition page.
As we look into the historical and practical application of Marxism in real life, keep in mind the previously addressed implicit rights that flow from the Commandments, and the civil rights that flow from our Bill Of Rights, particularly, but not exclusively, the First Amendment protections of our religious expression and practice. Which was (and is) suppressed, by Marxism, everywhere it ever gained power. Killing the Western Culture ethos was (and is) Job One for Marxism.
All the horrors of the twentieth century, including the holocaust, the gulags, the terror-famine of the Ukraine, Soviet and German concentration camps, German and Soviet application of slave labor, the Communist Party purges, various mass murders, the forced movement of whole populations, the subjugation of nations, and on, and on, and on, were all brought about by a direct opposition and complete repudiation of the religion and the cultural ethos of Western Civilization.
Those who think that Western Culture caused these events need to go back and re-read the history of them. It was the opposite. It was the total rejection and repudiation of Western Culture's religion, values and guiding ethos that directly caused all of these events.
Marx called religion a mass delusion, and his Communist Manifesto attacked "the state" as the instrument of oppression, and attacked religion and culture as the ideologies of the "Capitalist class." He hated religion. However, it's difficult to not see the religious over-tones in Marxism as it has been historically applied.
The Nationalist variant of Marxism is instructive. The Nazi (Nationalist Socialist Worker's Party) variant of Marxism of Adolph Hitler was supposed to be purely materialistic. Hitler, who said that National Socialism is essentially Marxism, also said of Christianity that it was the worst thing that ever happened to humankind, and that it was the tool of the Bolshevik and the spawn of the Jew. What moved into the void of Godlessness was The State. The Fatherland. It became The God-State, and the highest calling one could have was to somehow serve The God-State. As the leader, Adolph Hitler became The God-State Personified. The adulation he received appeared to be worship.
Look with fresh eyes at the old films of Nazi Germany and Hitler. Look at the speeches, the electrified faces, the huge parades, the oceans of flags and symbols, the varied and elaborate uniforms, the music, the bodily postures, gestures and obvious fervor; does it all not all smack of religious Liturgy, and does it not have all the trappings of a form of Liturgical Devotion? Giant icon-like portraits of Hitler were everywhere, and he was quite literally idolized as a god, and he who denied god, made himself to be a god, knowingly or otherwise.
The Internationalist variant of Marxism is also instructive. The Bolshevik (International Communist Party) variant of Marxism established by Lenin and taken over by Stalin was also supposed to be purely materialistic. What moved into the void of Godlessness was The Party, and the highest calling one could have was to somehow serve The Party. As the leader, Lenin (and later Stalin) literally became The Party Personified. The adulation they received appeared to be worship.
Look at the giant icons of Lenin and Stalin; huge portraits everywhere, giant bronze statues, huge crowds filing past or standing and gazing in clear reverence and awe, at the icons and at Lenin's body, preserved on public display as a holy relic, with millions making pilgrimage over the years.
And it was the same in China; to this day you might have to hunt for a public gathering place in China where there is not a giant iconic portrait of Chairman Mao looking at you.Here in America, today's Marxists wear what to all outward appearances are very benign and friendly smiles, but which are, beneath the facade, quite sinister. They don't refer to themselves as Marxist or Communist any more, those terms having fallen out of fashion even in Leftist circles, but that is what they are. They prefer terms such as Liberal or Moderate. Hold fast to your foundational ethos. Remember, and never forget, your moral as well as civil right to not have The State, or The Party, or anyone, ever dictate your religious preferences to you. And pay special attention to how the SLIMC1 , at every opportunity, both subtly and openly, sometimes demonizes and always shows in a bad light, our Western cultural religious belief. Judeo-Christian belief is trivialized or mocked, at least; Christian believers in general and Catholic believers in particular are openly demonized as The Religious Right Wing. Through their efforts, Constitutionally guaranteed Christian religious expression is legally censored and suppressed in the American public square.
Beware. The SLIMC1 is, essentially, materialistic-atheist and Marxist, and it seeks to make us all into atheists. Even while it works to increasingly suppress religious expression everywhere in America, it points its public finger at us and makes us into the bad guy. The Left, with the SLIMC1 in the lead, despises Western Culture and the Western ethos. The fall of The Wall and of the Soviet Union notwithstanding, Marxism is still with us, under new names, and using newer terminology. Today's Leftist is yesterday's Communist, and today's Global Village is synonymous with yesterday's Communist Utopia. The Marxist ethos, if you can call it that, is nothing but a blind ideology. Just be aware.
Question: Is there any ideology anywhere that is more antithetical to the ideals of America, and that is more religiously intolerant than Marxism?
Islam exists, primarily, for the purpose of expanding itself.
The word Jihad translates to struggle; the two types of Jihad are the inner faith struggle, and the external struggle for the expansion of Islam. While all Moslems are not external Jihadists, all Moslems support external Jihad. It is considered by them to be holy war, and their active participants are holy warriors, even when they sneak around to murder innocent people. When they die in this murderous activity, Islam considers them to be and treats them as martyrs. Islam obviously does not even interpret such simple words such as murder and innocent in the same manner as do Jews and Christians. This is more than merely an alien ethos. Apparently Islam's guiding ethos shares with Marxism the belief that the ends justify the means, a rule that the Judeo-Christian ethos denies.
The guiding ethos of Islam is quite clearly antithetical and antagonistic to the Western Culture ethos. Islam is completely incompatible with the American ideals. The religion of Islam flatly opposes and is openly hostile to the religion of Judaism and the religion of Christianity. And all other religions.
The claim that Islam is a religion of peace is false; it is, definitively, the religion of war. The claim that Jews, Christians and Moslems are all people of the Book is also false. Anyone who says we are all people of the Book has never read the Book, or has never closely examined Islam.
Islam teaches that there are three worlds, or domains, in which we all may live on Earth. These worlds or domains or houses are found in the consistent teachings of Islam. Look them up on the internet.
Dar Al-Islam, the house of submission, refers to lands under Islamic government. The name implies a high degree of religious security, defined as freedom to fully and completely practice the religion of Islam out in the open. If a Moslem practices Islam freely, then he is considered to be living in Dar Al-Islam, at least in his immediate neighborhood, even if he happens to be living in some secular or otherwise non-Islamic land. Dar Al-Islam is a domain of peace and not war.
Dar Al-Sulh, the house of Truce, or of Temporary Peace, describes a Moslem community that is established in a foreign land under non-Islamic government but representing a minority still too weak to wage open Jihad. After the community is well established, firm and growing in strength it will change to the third domain.
Dar Al-Harb, the house of war, refers to all areas outside of Islamic governmental rule and any Islamic residence or occupation. This is where Christians and Jews and Atheists and Buddhists and Hindus, etc., and, perhaps even especially, atheists, secularists and Marxists live.
As I said in the Islam and the Jews page, in the most ancient tradition of Islam, the entire physical world is divided into Dar Al-Islam, the house of God, and Dar Al-Harb, the house of infidels and unbelievers. Jihad, the external struggle, meaning the Holy War, represents the actual, physical struggle of Islam against "infidels." The most common usage that I find of the word Jihad is to achieve the goal of expanding the borders of Dar Al-Islam at the expense of the borders of Dar Al-Harb by force. We're talking about physical, worldly borders here, not anything spiritual, and not any kind of free-will conversion. What we're talking about here is either absolute submission or death. Conversion by the sword. Of both religion and government.
Much is made these days of the use of ethnic and religious profiling to identify terrorists before they can sneak in among us and murder more of us. As I said above, all Moslems are not external Jihadists, but all Moslems support external Jihad, as part of their religious ethos and their cultural ethos, which are one and the same. In a similar manner, all Moslems are not terrorists, but all Moslems support Islamic terrorism. And, most importantly, all terrorists in this War On Terror are Moslems. No exceptions. And, so far, they are all of Middle-Eastern origins.
Question: Why should we use profiling to pre-identify the Middle-Eastern Islamic murderers?
Answer: Because we are not known to be a suicidal or a stupid people.
The current, and very slick, tactic-become-strategy of Islam in the ongoing War On Terror is to form organizations not affiliated with nations, sort of like the NGO (Non Government Organization) setup in the UN. These organizations can have branch offices in multiple nations, and hidden cells in many more. In some cases they might virtually merge with the government of one or more states, but they maintain the appearance, at least, of separateness. When they launch their sneak-attack military-like raids across international borders, the "nations" they partner-up with and operate out of can claim innocence, a word that has significantly different meaning to Jews and to Christians than it does to Moslems.
Here are some of these organizations that have kidnapped or tortured or murdered Americans in recent history, and are considered to be the enemy in our War On Terror:
Question: How many members of any of these organizations is not a Middle-Eastern Moslem?
As in, not a single one of them. There is not one single Baptist, Presbyterian, blue-eyed Swede, Cherokee Indian, Jew or Catholic among them. Every single one of them is a Moslem with no exceptions.
Question: How many of the home-grown terrorists who have been captured or killed in the War On Terror in various countries were not Moslems?
Again, every single terrorist yet identified in the War On Terror is a Moslem. There is nothing difficult about this. All Moslems are, and should be, suspect. Why on Earth would they not be suspect? All the terror and sneaky murderous acts in this War On Terror are coming out of Islam. It's part of their ethos. Jews and Christians don't ever do these kinds of things, because their guiding ethos forbids it. So why would an airport security person "randomly" scrutinize a Jewish grandma who is standing in between two Middle Eastern Moslem men, who did not get randomly selected for security screening? Not using profiling is ludicrous.
In the Judeo-Christian ethos, there exists a separation between ecclesial and civil law, which is to say, between church government and state government, that recognizes the differences between the Spirit and the Flesh, or, the Soul and the Body.
The two most antithetical ethos' to that understanding are represented by Marxism and Islam, both of which intend to radically combine all power under one ruling order. The only real difference between Marxism and Islam is that Marxism seeks to crush all religious belief entirely, and Islam seeks to force all religious belief to submit to Islam.
At the moment, the greatest danger to the Western Culture ethos, and to the whole world, is represented by the resurgence of militant Islam. It is still not widely recognized by the Western leaders in this War On Terrorism, at least publicly, that the real enemy is not some minority within Islam, but Islam itself. It is the ideology of Islam that must be attacked, at the core. And the only glimmer of hope I see involves people in Islamic lands becoming free, through the spread of Democracy.
Democracy is a form of government that is antithetical to Islam, which insists on total civil as well as ecclesial control. As people gain a Democratic voice and increasing representation in their own government, they will move away from the fiercer and more intolerant tendencies of Islam, and perhaps eventually, away from Islam altogether. Becoming more independent carries with it the practical demands of doing more independent thinking, and the more independent thinking people do, the better they will get at it.
When independent thinkers see what the Western ethos proclaims, that salvation is all tied up with cooperation between the unmerited Grace we all have and our own free will choices, perhaps they will move away from the false ideological ethos that holds up a sword and demands, rather than offers, salvation by conquest. Which takes free will out of it, and sounds very much like armed robbery. Submit or I'll kill you.Leftist Hollywood snobbery and the SLIMC1 may mock our faith and demonize us as radical and Right Wing and religious zealots, but in truth they owe a great deal to the glorious history of the Western Civilization that they so despise. And so does the rest of the world.
Where is your ethos, and how is it doing, and is it an ethos you can be proud of?
Pray for America, and for the President; and pray for victory of belief over unbelief, and over false belief.
Sarcastic Acronym Hover-Link Footnotes: For the convenience of those readers using devices that lack a mouse, these footnotes are provided for all webpages, in case any webpage contains any hover-links. (If you don't have a mouse, you can't "hover" it over a link without clicking just to see the simple acronym interpretation. Click a footnote link to see the gory details.)SLIMC1 Secularist Liberal Intellectual Media Complex
Culture=Religion+Politics; Who Are We? Vic Biorseth
The Brilliantly Conceived Organization of the USA; Vic Biorseth
Return to the BLOG page
Return to the HOME PAGE
Subscribe to our Free E-Zine News Letter
Respond to This Article Below The Last Comment
Date: Mon Nov 21 08:23:29 2011
Location: Dublin Ireland
I am a practicing Roman Catholic. I find this site extremist in views and am quite disappointed with its outlook. By the way, the troubles in Northern Ireland, particularly in the 1970's were a dark chapter, and involved people who purported to practice Catholicism on 1 side. Such people actually detonated the Omagh Bomb in 1998. This lost me about 10 friends, who de-friended me as a result.
Date: Tue Nov 22 06:01:29 2011
From: Vic Biorseth
I’m sorry about your “finding” and your disappointment.
I try very hard to stay strictly in tune with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Great Council documents, Papal pronouncements and ecumenical letters; if anything in this webpage or anywhere on this entire site strays from the official teaching of the Catholic Church, I hope you will point that out for me so that I may immediately correct it.
If in your estimation the Catechism of the Catholic Church is in any way extreme, then, you may color me extreme.
Please point out for me the Roman Catholic doctrines or teachings recommending or even permitting the use of bombs or any other acts of terrorism – I haven’t been able to find them.
Do not make the error of laying blame for the sinful acts of evil men at the feet of the Church our Lord founded.
Date: Sun Oct 12 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
Changes pursuant to changing the website URL
and name from
Thinking Catholic Strategic Center to
Catholic American Thinker.
Pulled the trigger on the 301 MOVE IT option June 1, 2014. Working my way through all the webpages. .
Date: Sat May 30 17:50:20 2015
From: Nicholas Landholdt
Location: Odessa / Texas / Rep. of Texas (under seige)
I'm surprised you claim that major Protestant sects are Christian since they reject the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. Where does the CCC claim these sects are Christian?
Date: Sat May 30 2015
From: Vic Biorseth
Paragraph 1271, quoted as follows:
Anyone Baptized by anyone, with proper intention, with water, and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is an "imperfect" or "incomplete" Catholic, and a Christian. For there is only one Church anyone may be Baptized into in that manner, and it is the one Church founded by Christ upon Peter. Whether they know it or not, whether they like it or not, most Baptized Protestants are Catholics, although not full formed Catholics. And, yes, they are Christians.
Date: Sun Jul 03 07:37:40 2016
From: DR.ASHIS MOHAPATRA
Location: Bhubaneswar , India
Really the meaning of cultural ethos is a debatable issue in contemporary world, especially among religious thinkers.But the motto of cultural ethos is applicable to global culture as per its theoretical definitions.
Date: Mon Jul 04 2016
From: Vic Biorseth
Dr. Ashis Mohapatra:
I don't see what's debatable about it, in the contemporary era or any other. A people are either an identifiable people, meaning they have a common driving and directing ethos, or they are not.
If a "people" lack a common ethos, then they are randomly oriented, miss-directed, disordered and chaotic to the point of not even being an identifiable people, or a unique human culture. Let alone a nation. Or even a family.
I don't know what the motto of "global culture" is because there is no such thing as global culture.
See Suicidal Diversity.
Date: Wed Aug 03 18:24:01 2016
From: abdltmonem othman
Location: la calif usa
I admire your fervor and enthusiasm for maintaining the faith in god irrespective of our different interpretation of god providing we are honest and truthful in our search for him through faith and work.
I think you are aware that all moslem countries now under the subjection of the jewish-christian alliance and all the phrases you have used in speaking about islam are no longer applicable. The truth my human brother is that there is only one religion,one god ,one humanity ,one earth and the only decisive factor in our evaluation now is truth and justice and no longer the different labels are in use. personally I feel I belong to judaism to christianty to islam to all other religions in their original purity before being corrupted by unwise interpretations. picnic
Date: Thu Aug 04 2016
From: Vic Biorseth
There is no such thing as any Moslem country now under domination of any Jewish-Christian alliance. However, there are such things as Jewish and Christian populations under brutal Islamic domination in Moslem countries.
The Koran has not changed; the Bible has not changed; the Torah has not changed.
The notion that there is only one religion among all men on earth is nonsense. Worship of YHWH, Jesus Christ and Allah operate under separate and incompatible theologies. Only Judaism and Christianity share a common morality and common moral code; Islam is, morally speaking, completely on its own.
You cannot possibly belong to Judaism, Christianity and Islam at the same time and be true to all three religions. If you tried to do that, you would have to either convert all the way to Islam or commit suicide.
Human cultures may evolve, change, dissolve and emerge in different forms, but Objective Truth does not ever change. No matter what you, or I, or all of us collectively ever think about it, reality is reality, and truth simply does not change.
It is our calling to objectively seek it, find it and embrace it.
Never be lukewarm.
Life itself demands passion.
He who is indifferent to God has already forfeited his soul.
He who is indifferent to politics has already forfeited his liberty.
In America, religion is not mere window dressing and citizenship is not a spectator sport.
Do not allow our common destiny as a whole people to just happen without your input.
Seek the Truth; find the Way; live the Life; please God, and live forever.
Catholic American Thinker
Free E-zine Subscription
You will receive immediate email newsletters with links to new articles as they are published here. Your email is perfectly secure here; we use it only to send you the
Catholic American Thinker
and absolutely nothing else.
"We belong to the Church militant; and She is militant because on earth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass Her destruction. Not only in the far-off centuries of the early Church, but down through the ages and in this our day, the enemies of God and Christian civilization make bold to attack the Creator’s supreme dominion and sacrosanct human rights.”--Pope Pius XII
"It is not lawful to take the things of others to give to the poor. It is a sin worthy of punishment, not an act deserving a reward, to give away what belongs to others."--St. Francis of Assisi
Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.—Winston Churchill
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.—Ayn Rand
If you can't find the page you're looking for, try the