One of the downsides to surfing the internet is that we can get bombarded by mixed messages on a whole range of topics. News junkies may eat this up but for most ordinary folk all the contradictory information can get a bit confusing and even aggravating.
News from the world of health, medicine, and science is a constant source of confusion. One day, for instance, we’ll read about a study that says caffeine is bad for you, and then a couple months later we’ll read another study saying caffeine is good because it can stave off Alzheimer’s. Or we’ll read that man-made global warming is causing the polar ice caps to melt and all coastal cities are going to end up under water. But then we read that, no, the oceans are not going to rise; the computer model that was used to make that prediction was terribly flawed.
Commentary about social issues, the economy, and politics that offer contradictory opinions are just about everywhere, too. Are we or are we not still a racist country? Is the economy improving or are we headed for a crash? Is more government or less government better?
And even when it comes to religion we get conflicting opinions. Our country is a Christian nation; no it’s not. The Pope is a Socialist; no he’s not. Islam is a religion of peace; no it’s not.
A Lone Message On Which There is Consensus
There is one message I’m seeing more and more, however, on which there actually does seem to be a consensus – the message that there is a war on Christianity underway.
Orthodox Catholic writer Rob Dreher, writing at The American Conservative, is one of a number of Catholic writers who have been saying Christianity is under attack for quite some time now. Dreher has offered up his “Benedict Option” as the best way to deal with the war on Christians and Christianity. The Benedict Option calls for Catholics and Christians to form tight-knit, self-supporting communities to keep the faith and ‘ride out the coming storm’ until saner times return, much like the Benedictine Monks did in the Middle Ages.
Some members of the clergy also seem to be realizing that Christianity and Catholicism are under attack. Monsignor Charles Pope and Father Dwight Longenecker each wrote columns within three days of each other at the National Catholic Register recently saying pretty much the same thing – gird your loins because the battle for our faith is on.
Monsignor Pope was pretty blunt in his remarks which were aimed primarily at bishops and priests who are seemingly content to continue preaching namby-pamby sermons that ignore the changes taking place in our culture today.
“There is a growing consternation among some Catholics that the Church, at least in her leadership, is living in the past. It seems there is no awareness that we are at war and that Catholics need to be summoned to sobriety, increasing separation from the wider culture, courageous witness and increasing martyrdom.
“It is long past dark in our culture, but in most parishes and dioceses it is business as usual and there is anything but the sober alarm that is really necessary in times like these.”
Father Longenecker was a bit more subtle saying that because Catholicism embraces the whole truth, “it is bound to offend almost everybody everywhere who only hold to part of the truth or to a distorted part of the truth.” But he concluded his column saying, “So, if you want to be a faithful Catholic, buckle up your sword and take your shield. There’s going to be a battle.”
Optimists vs. Pessimists
The optimists amongst us may be inclined to say that such pessimism and ‘doomsday’ prophets have always been around, and yet we are all still here, so don’t take them too seriously. But every once in a while a doomsday-like scenario does take place and the prophets who predicted it seems wise indeed. Many people saw the Civil War coming years before it started while others insisted a war between the states would never happen, that saner heads would prevail. Likewise, some saw the rise of Nazi Germany leading to World War II, and even the Holocaust, years before the first Blitzkrieg started and the first concentration camps were built.
Occasionally, however, there are only one or two lone voices, like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, trying to warn us of something dire. David Wiedemer, for instance, who in 2006 predicted the 2008 financial crash, said in his 2010 book Aftershock that we are living in a “bubble economy” and what happened in 2008 is only the beginning of the financial problems to come. Dr. Ron Paul echoes these same sentiments and advises people to buy gold and stock up on food. The majority of the financial gurus and economists, however, insist that what we are experiencing is just a bump in the road; not to worry, the Fed will take care of everything.
Since hope always seems to spring eternal, though, most people want to believe that things will never get as bad as the doomsayers prophesize. This is because to a certain extent we all suffer from confirmation bias – the tendency to want to view events and data in a way that confirms our own opinions and viewpoints. This is why, for instance, liberals frequent liberal websites while conservatives tend to read conservative websites.
What To Do about The War
It’s probably not a bad idea, however, to keep in mind a project management rule of thumb: plan for the worst and hope for the best. Keeping this advice in mind can make the difference between a project that is successful and completed on time, and a one that is fraught with problems and just keeps dragging on. But this rule of thumb is also pretty good advice for living.
I don’t have a crystal ball, I can’t read tea leaves, and the Holy Spirit has not blessed me with the gift of prophecy, so I have no idea what the future holds. It does seem though that the evil one is working real hard with the secular progressive moral relativists to get people to abandon their Christian and Catholic beliefs.
As Catholics though, we also have a big ace up our collective sleeves. In addition to planning and hoping, we can also pray the rosary and ask for our Blessed Mother’s intervention.