The Light of the Incarnation in a Dark World

As Christmas approaches and this decade ends, it would be worth our while to consider the current situation we find the world in. The existing social and political landscape in the West reminds me of Charles Dickens’s great novel, A Tale of Two Cities, where he presents a dichotomous view of things:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…

Although, Dickens was writing his novel within the context of the events leading up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror which ensued, the juxtaposed imagery still applies to our contemporary climate. In some senses, we are living in times of great progress with respect to the exponential advancements in science and technology; our understanding of the cosmos and the microscopic world has dramatically increased in recent decades, revealing a world we could have never imagined. Furthermore, at the end of 2018, The World Bank reported that, globally, extreme poverty was at its lowest point in recorded history. Even though there is a lot of work to do to minimize worldwide extreme poverty, this is an extremely encouraging trend. However, despite these significant achievements, humanity in many respects is regressing into the nether regions of absurdity.  There are plenty of examples of this, but a brief discussion of a few will suffice to paint a dire situation.

The Many Faces of a Crumbling Post Judeo-Christian World

We are living in a time where university professors, politicians, Hollywood celebrities and others are forcefully pushing the ideology of socialism; these people, followers of Karl Marx, want to push their agenda like Josef Stalin, but they themselves want live like Warren Buffet.  The hypocrisy and/or ignorance of these people is astounding. If they would only take the time to study economics, history and even listen to the experiences of those who have fled from communist states they would see the many pitfalls of socialism.  If Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn knew where we have ended up, he would be rolling in his grave.  This is truly reprehensible given the known failures and perils of socialism; something that has most recently been witnessed in the destruction of Venezuela, which offers but a glimpse of full-blown socialism at work, where the inflation rate has recently hit 830,000 percent  and minimum wage has risen over 3,000 percent.  You need exorbitant amounts of money to buy very little; in other words, you’re better off replacing cash with toilet paper.  Of course, the Marxist apologists will argue that this does not represent authentic socialism, nor do many of the other failed socialist experiments. How many times do we have to run this failed experiment? How many millions more must die? The truth is that economic systems require incentive-based structures in order to promote efficient economies, something socialism simply cannot produce, for in this system, there is no incentive.  And in case you’re wondering, no, Scandinavian countries are not socialist.

What’s more is that the same groups of people are also pushing a social justice agenda, one that has not only penetrated our secular institutions such as government, universities and both elementary and secondary education, but also Catholic universities. The seeds of these social justice principles run very deep into our culture.  Indeed, the whole cultural Marxist game of identity politics as being played throughout the Western world is creating an unprecedented divisiveness between conservatives and liberals, as I have argued, in a piece I wrote in April of 2018, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.:

We have veered far away from King’s dream. Western civilization is experiencing a divisiveness that is completely antithetical to spirit of his message.  The main culprits are radicals on both the political right and left. However, the radical left has had much more dominance over culture, especially since the 1960s, through its control of many academic institutions and major media outlets.  Leftists follow the postmodernist Jean Francois Lyotard’s dictum that truth is disseminated by those who control it, and they exert such control by shutting down, suspending and demonetizing social media accounts, as well as by “de-platforming” speakers on university campuses… As for identity politics, it leads to one being judged by the colour of one’s skin [sexual orientation, gender, religion, education, class, disability etc.] rather than the content of one’s character, shattering the appeal of King to transcend groupthink and tribalism, silencing his call to see the intrinsic worth of every human. MLK defended the imago Dei and so fought for equal rights for all people, at all times.

The inanest example of cultural Marxism is manifested within the totalitarianism of the transgender activist movement. Recently, JK Rowling was lambasted for stating the obvious: that sex is real and immutable. This is an example of the left eating itself. Rowling is someone who writes gender-inclusive books and is very leftist in most of her views, but this does not satisfy the trans-activists. The medical profession is kowtowing to transgender ideology and compromising the health of young children by promoting the idea that sex is mutable and that pumping them with hormones is a moral thing to do; this is tantamount to child abuse of the worst kind; and whistleblowers have warned that gender dysphoria is being over-diagnosed causing 35 resignations. Those who speak against this insanity are consistently silenced and others are terrified to speak against it. Good psychologists – those who maintain some level of sanity, like Oren Amitay in Toronto – have been “cancelled” for speaking the truth on trans issues, an insane ideology that is totalitarian in how it is enforced, but lacking any credible scientific, medical, philosophical, and theological backing. Just how totalitarian? An Iowa man was sentenced to prison for 15 years for burning an LGBT flag. It’s an unkind thing to attack a group in such a way, but is the sentence proportionate to the crime? Nevertheless, the greatest pushback are coming from those who have suffered from transgender ideology; the first gender ‘detransition’ conference took place.

The persecution of Christians throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa has been met with a deafening silence in the West. The mainstream news in the West has paid little to no attention to this tragic situation which is near genocide levels; it’s only recently that media outlets like the BBC have been giving this the attention it deserves. To be clear, I’m not arguing that Christianity is the only religion that is being persecuted. However, I would argue Christians are currently the most persecuted religious group in the world. I’m talking about a persecution at a level close to genocide. The hatred for traditional Christianity and what it embodies is prevalent throughout the West, in the more benign sense with governments, social groups and widespread throughout the academy, but to label this persecution would be an insult to our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are enduring unspeakable acts. Nevertheless, those hostile to religion do not realize that the Church and her truth are the historical bedrock for the view that the human person has intrinsic value, as well as the progress and development of the scientific revolution?  To aggravate things even more, politicians such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton can’t even state that Christians are being persecuted at the hands of Islamic terrorists. Take for example, Clinton’s tweet regarding the attack upon Christians in Sri Lanka during Easter: “On this holy weekend for many faiths, we must stand united against hatred and violence. I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers and travelers in Sri Lanka.

We haven’t even touched upon climate alarmism and its activists. Greta Thunberg and others should focus more on learning about the complexities of climate change, economics, history, the nature and philosophy of science and its provisional status of induction; and most importantly Jordan Peterson’s rule # 6: “set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.” Meanwhile, a brilliant scientist who has recently discovered how bacteria can turn plastic into harmless waste and provide a potential solution to plastic waste was turned down for Time’s person of the year.

Finally, what to say about President Donald Trump’s impeachment? The editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, penned a scathing piece against Trump, calling for his removal. In my view, it was not a very level-headed analysis, although much of Trump’s temperament may rub certain Christians the wrong way, but so what? We should remember that he has delivered on most of his promises, at least partially – this is a better tract record than most world leaders. Christianity Today (owned by George Soros) is kowtowing to political correctness and they don’t present any serious argumentation as to whether there was any real justification for his impeachment. Moreover, Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham who founded CT disavowed the article and called it immoral. For Christians who support CT’s position, take into consideration, psychologist James Dobson’s response:

The editors didn’t tell us who should take his place in the aftermath. Maybe the magazine would prefer a president who is passionately pro-abortion, anti-family, hostile to the military, dispassionate toward Israel, supports a socialist form of government, promotes confiscatory taxation, opposes school choice, favors men in women’s sports and boys in girl’s locker rooms, promotes the entire LGBTQ agenda, opposes parental rights, and distrusts evangelicals and anyone who is not politically correct. By the way, after Christianity Today has helped vacate the Oval Office, I hope they will tell us if their candidate to replace Mr. Trump will fight for religious liberty and the Bill of Rights? Give your readers a little more clarity on why President Trump should be turned out of office after being duly elected by 63 million voters? Is it really because he made a phone call that displeased you? There must be more to your argument than that. While Christianity Today is making its case for impeachment, I hope the editors will now tell us who they support for president among the Democrat field. That should tell us the rest of the story.

As you can see that the world is in shambles, despite progress in some avenues. In what world are we living?

Orwell Meets Derrida

What happens when George Orwell’s notion of ‘big brother’ and Jacques Derrida’s ‘method’ of deconstructionism as applied to social issues collide? Something that is very sinister; a collective madness that is penetrating Western civilization. But what are these ideas about? And what does their collision entail? The postmodern philosopher Jacques Derrida espoused an approach to textual analysis known as deconstructionism. However, its application has extended way beyond textual analysis. A thought-provoking confession was made by Derrida on deconstructionism in his work, Moscou aller-retour, as it relates to connecting the abstractions and methodological issues in his epistemology to political activism, where he pinpoints, of all things, Marxism: “Deconstruction never had meaning or interest, at least in my eyes, than as a radicalization, that is to say, also within the tradition of Marxism in a certain spirit of Marxism.”  This reveals the true agenda behind postmodernism and deconstructionism. Furthermore, it is utterly relativist in its morality and epistemology. Postmodernism, as philosopher John Searle has observed, is a world that is turned upside down. It is the ones who were “suppressed” who now act as the suppressors; however, they do not achieve dominance through rational argumentation but rather through decrying oppression and marginalization. Those who claim to be powerless have ironically gained power through their “powerlessness.”  These are overt attacks on the very fabric of the West’s Judeo-Christian roots, the basis for the scientific revolution, the foundations of law, and the intrinsic value and dignity of all human persons, to name a few.

In George Orwell’s novel, Ninety Eighty-Four, the character of Big Brother, who heads the totalitarian state of Oceania, subjects the citizens of the state to perpetual surveillance through the scrutiny of the authorities via telescreens.  In the Western World we are experiencing mass surveillance through the state and social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. It is not enough that mainstream media with its propaganda, or as others would call it “fake news”, is in the business of misinforming and indoctrinating the public. Moreover, Trudeau’s Liberal Government has made a commitment to regulate “hate speech” on social media, but of course, a precise definition of ‘hate speech’ is never given. It is just another excuse to censor people who hold unpopular views. The question remains: what is hate speech and who defines it? Government? No thanks. It is worth noting that the term ‘hate’ in Canadian jurisprudence is nowhere to be found. However, “hatred” is defined in case law. What the Criminal Code does prohibit though is “hate propaganda” which is defined as: “any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide…” Undoubtedly, free speech is under assault and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, also known as postmodernism’s poster-boy, is a leading figure in such an assault. An arbitrary definition of “hate speech” can lead to very dangerous precedents such as a transgender woman being accused of hate speech for wearing a t-shirt stating they were still male. Thus, on the one hand, you have a denial of metaphysical and moral truths, while inconsistently attempting to affirm such a thing – something which is logically incoherent; and on the other hand, you have massive surveillance and censorship to ensure you do not deny these untruths. It’s worse than an Orwellian nightmare, it is a relativistic morass which is forcefully submerging its citizens in a sea of absurdities. In the aforementioned examples, we can see the ramifications of these two abhorrent ideas, especially when combined.

The Incarnation as The Solution

Now that I have painted a grim, but realistic picture of the world that we are ensconced in, we can now explore how to transform it.  It is obvious that secular ideologies left to their own devices have nothing of true worth to offer society and individual human persons. Whatever worth they may possess is borrowed from Christian beliefs. The reason that one can, to some extent, act ‘morally’ in the world without belief in God, is because each and every human person was created in the image of God, and His law imprinted on their hearts. (cf., CCC, #1860).  Make no mistake about it, that both surveillance/governmental control/totalitarianism and deconstructionism are attacks on not only the fabric of the West, but the human person, his free will, to speak and to act, on the intrinsic value of humanity, and even on God Himself.

In the absence of God, we are left in a relativistic quagmire; one where falsehoods reign through authoritarian rule. It is of no coincidence than many secular commentators are moving from the left to center and right of center. They are also demonstrating a greater openness to Christian values. This is a direct effect of the immoral, corrupt and bankrupt practices and ideas emanating from the left – some of which we have already examined. The fact of the matter is that truth exists and it does matter! It matters in every domain of existence, despite pop culture’s incoherent claim that everything is relative/subjective. What’s the solution? A return to our Christian roots, and to return to worshiping God, as He has decreed.

The Incarnation is the greatest gift to humanity and the created order. God entering the world is the culmination of truth, love, goodness, mercy, and forgiveness, as the beautiful opening verses of John’s Gospel exemplify. Undoubtedly, Logos is a vital concept to both western philosophy and theology. Its roots can be traced to Heraclitus who used the term to signify both order and knowledge.  In Christian theology, Logos is the “word” as represented in the prologue of the Gospel of John (John 1:1-5) and is the Second Person of the Trinity. Logos is also explicitly identified as Jesus in the Gospel of John (John 1:14-15).  Moreover, the concept of Logos is fundamental to Christianity in particular, and the West in general. It is fundamental to our capacity to reason and speak. It is part of our existential connection to God, as God creates through His Word; it is a way that we part take in creation and creativity through speech, by intellect and love. This is why free speech is so fundamental to our existence. The free exchange of ideas helps regulate the good from the bad and avoid violent conflict. It is a necessary component for our survival as a human species.

Human history has demonstrated over and over again, that humanity on its own is incapable of resolving the existential dilemma that gnaws away at our heart and soul. In the absence of an all-loving God, as found in the Person of Jesus Christ, we are still entrenched in our sin and own deception. Every human that has ever introspected about the meaning of life and our purpose recognizes that we have estranged ourselves not only from God, creation, others, but also ourselves; there is an unfillable void within the heart and soul of every human. There is an indelible stain that can only be removed by love of God.  The Incarnation is the deliverance of such a predicament. It is logic that will help us dispel untruths as propagated by social justice and other cultural falsehoods. It is credible science that fits the evidence, which in turn will help us to truly understand creation. And finally, it is love, forgiveness and mercy, that will help us to push forward the message of truth and hope that the world so desperately needs. The light of the Incarnation is our only hope to rescue us from our individual and collective despair amidst such a dark period in human history. So, this Christmas season let’s set our eyes on the true significance of this celebration – the birth of Christ and the promise of His everlasting gift to humanity: salvation.

A very Merry Christmas to all!

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Scott Ventureyra completed his PhD in theology at Carleton University/Dominican University College in Ottawa. He has published in academic journals such as Science et Esprit, The American Journal of Biblical Theology, Studies in Religion, Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review and Maritain Studies. He has also written for magazines such as Crisis and Convivium and newspapers such as The National Post, City Light News, The Ottawa Citizen and The Times Colonist. He has presented his research at conferences around North America including the Science of Consciousness in Tucson, Arizona in 2016. His newly released book: On the Origin of Consciousness: An Exploration through the Lens of the Christian Conception of God and Creation is now available, for an autographed copy you can contact him through his website: www.scottventureyra.com or email: scott_ventureyra@hotmail.com.