Dr. Peter Kreeft: "We are living in a spiritual Hiroshima"
4/1/2008 7:12:00 PM
By Notes By Joe Wemhoff
-The Annual Parish Respect Life Coordinator Conference, Archdiocese of Chicago
How to Win the Culture War
Dr. Peter Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. He is an orthodox Roman Catholic, who has written over 45 books, and who contributes regularly to various Christian publications. Dr. Kreeft is one of the most eloquent voices for the Faith in America. This summary of Dr. Kreeft's remarks was prepared on March 9, 2008, by Joseph A. Wemhoff, from memory and from extensive notes taken during the talk. Dr. Kreeft has his own website at www.peterkreeft.com.
In the 1960s, the term "culture war" meant the conflict between the Establishment and the Counter Culture. Later, it came to mean the conflict between Science and the Humanities. The term became formalized with the publication of the book Culture Wars by James Hunter in the 1990s.
Pope John Paul II fueled the idea by drawing the distinction between the "Culture of Life" and the "Culture of Death." The term "Culture War" is simply a euphemism for the conflict between Christ and the Antichrist, with the stakes being the fate of the universe.
Sadly, today, the Antichrist controls all of the formal and informal means of education and information in America, including the media, news reporting, publishing, music, movies (Hollywood), etc. Today, pornography generates more revenue in America than any other industry except gambling.
This is not a new struggle-it has been going on since the Middle Ages. The Christian religion is now in decline, and the Antichrist is now winning, because he has convinced most people to bypass that simple word: reason. Most people today "feel;" they no longer "think."
We are living in a "spiritual Hiroshima." The Catholic Church is full of psychobabble. Our bishops have all the courage and behavior of rabbits. Since Vatican II, three-quarters of our nuns are gone. Sunday Mass attendance has declined from 75% to 25%. Belief in the Real Presence has dropped from nearly 100% to about 30%. The Catholic Church has lost the power to arrest the decline of our culture.
Properly said, ours is not a "Culture of Death," but a "Culture of Murder." There is the murder of marriage (divorce). There is the murder of the unborn (abortion). There is the murder of reason by militant feminists and by militant homosexuals. The cloning of humans promises to turn the "I am" of God into the "it is" of humanism. Science is promising eternal life by working to eliminate from humankind the "age and die" gene, which supposedly is not found in non-sexual species and in cancer cells.
Our words cannot defeat the Culture of Death, but God's words can.
Eucharistic adoration can conquer the Culture of Death.
Pope John Paul II spoke of a New Evangelization, which means not the preaching of new words, but the preaching God's timeless words to new generations of people.
It's easy to be busy; it's far more difficult to be holy. We need to start by being holy. We need to join God's jihad.
There is a tendency today to substitute "spirituality" for "religion." In the Bible, the Tower of Babel represents "spirituality," while Noah's ark-with all its sights and smells and inconveniences-represents "religion." It is not easy being a Catholic.
Consider that only God, angels, and human beings are persons. God did not become angelic to redeem them, but He became man to redeem humankind.
Human life is sacred for three reasons:
1. Men and women are created in the image and likeness of God Himself.
2. Human life is linked to God's life.
3. Human beings are destined to share in eternal life with God.
As portrayed in the book Christ and the University, the Humanities are ground zero in the current Culture War, in the battle between Christ and the Antichrist. This is because college professors now have the power over young minds that priests and saints and kings once had.
The dark, black spot at the center of intellectual thought these past decades is a deconstructionism which says that truth is nothing more than "the hypocritical mask on the face of power." We are lead to believe that there is no objective truth, and that all is relative. It used to be that Science was the source of deconstructionist ideas, but, scientists must deal in facts, and facts tend to be real. Now the Humanities are the major source of deconstructionism.
The only two moments of peace in history are in Genesis (before history) and in the Apocalypse (after history). All of human history in between is full of war and of spirits thirsty for the blood of children.
Pro-choice people will not-indeed, cannot-listen to reason. Pro-choice people are insane and will not convert to reason-they will attempt to convert reason. Dr. Kreeft cited several cases. In one of his books-which, he bemoaned, are read only by pro-lifers-he made an airtight, logical argument that tolerating abortion is tantamount to tolerating infanticide. Confronted with this logic, pro-choicers said, yes, Dr. Kreeft, you just showed us how infanticide is now OK.
During World War II, I.G. Farben GmbH of Germany made Zyklon B, the gas used to kill so many in the gas chambers. Today, a French successor company to I.G. Farben makes the abortifacient RU-486. Either the face of evil has changed little, or the devil has a limited range of business contacts.
There are five aspects of the Culture War to be considered.
History of the Jihad
Since the Middle Ages, humanity has been on a slow, ever-ascending upward slope of becoming smarter, healthier, and more technologically advanced, while, at the same time, being on a slow, ever-descending slope of becoming weaker morally.
God's grace will save us, but on two conditions:
1. We ask for it, which means that we must value wisdom and holiness more than cleverness and worldly riches.
2. We believe that God will deliver (not to believe is to call God a liar).
These past centuries, mankind has fluctuated between the sins of despair and presumption. Despair is represented by Camus and other Existentialists. Presumption is exemplified by Rousseau, the Enlightenment, and by New Age ideas and practices.
We are entering an apocalyptic age, which might be described as Brave New World or as The Abolition of Man-each of which, ironically, is also the title of a book by Aldous Huxley and by C. S. Lewis, respectively. We should recall that the Bible predicts that the Great Tribulation of the end times will be so bad that no flesh would survive if God did not shorten the days.
In the First Millenium after Christ, the Church won the world. But then, she became fat and weak. The Second Millenium has belonged to the Antichrist. We are now in the Third Millenium, and the outcome these next thousand years is anything but clear.
We need to remember that this world is not our home; heaven is.
Self-sacrificing love is the only way to be a self. Unfortunately, we are addicted to this world, and the Culture of Death is sustained by our idolizing this life. The Culture of Death "baits its hook" by our love of this world. Ironically, the only way to overcome the here-and-now Culture of Death is to focus on attainment of the afterlife.
We must die (symbolically, to this world) before we die (literally, in this world). To be a Christian is to be a martyr, at least in spirit.
The goal of "addicted" souls is happiness in this world, but, ironically, the desire to create heaven on earth leads only to the Tower of Babel. The Culture of Life must embrace symbolic death to this world, and literal death itself, as the doorway to eternal life.
Technology has abolished leisure. How many minutes per day do we spend on email? How many minutes per day do we spend on prayer?
The master can become a slave to his need for his slaves, while the slaves are the ones who are truly free. So it is today with modern man-we are slaves to our need for email, voicemail, texting, faxing, etc.
Who has the most leisure time in our world? Contemplatives, who spend their time worshipping the Lord of Time.
We should challenge ourselves to give Him fifteen minutes a day in totally focused prayer, and gradually work our way up to even more prayer time. It will change our lives. We need to stop doing and just be. But, it is difficult, for we are addicted to our "time-saving" ways.
The enemy fears prayer as much as Dracula fears the crucifix. Dracula takes blood; Christ gives His Blood. Dracula focuses on "my body;" Christ gives His Body in the Eucharist. Abortion is the anti-Eucharist, the perfect "sacrament" of the Culture of Death.
What Can We Do to Win the Culture War?
First and foremost, we must have faith, and we must feed that faith through:
1. Contemplative prayer
2. The sacrament of confession
3. The Eucharist
Weapons and Tactics
We must give a "Yes" response to God, just as Mary did: "Be it done to me according to Thy word." We must let God into the deepest parts of our lives and of our being. Please be a saint.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: Why do you use the word "jihad"? Is that really appropriate?
A: Primarily, the word "jihad" means "spiritual struggle." It is an accurate
word per se for what Christians are facing today.
Q: Is Boston College a Catholic university?
A: No, Boston College is a Jesuit university that used to be Catholic. My
mother says that I should not say anything about someone if I can't say
something good; my mother would not like the Theology Department at
Boston College. The Philosophy Department is pretty solid. In many ways,
Boston College is still Catholic. BC is not so far gone as Georgetown, but it is farther gone than Notre Dame. Like New York City, Boston College is both great and ugly.
Q: When asked whether heart disease or cancer is the leading cause of death in
the United States, it's correct to say "neither." The leading cause of death in
the United States is murder by abortion.
A: Thank you.
Q: Could you please comment on the sexual revolution?
A: The sexual revolution did not just change lives, it changed the sources of
Q: When will the tide turn on our "Catholic" college campuses?
A: It is turning now. Students today are a sort of "populist groundswell" for
orthodoxy, but "Catholic" college administrators/establishments "haven't heard about that yet."
Q: How happy are today's "liberated" people?
A: Not very. The best measure is the suicide rate. Since the 1950s, the suicide
rate among teenagers has gone up 500%.
Q: How can people today "not get it?"
A: They kill their consciences. And to kill your conscience, you must go
Q: How do you convert the insane?
A: You love them; you be honest with them; you talk with them; you be their friend; you pray for them.
Q: Would you ever allow one of your children to go to Boston College?
A: Three of my four children did go there, and they emerged "unscathed."
Seriously, some of my best friends are Jesuits. There is hope for Boston
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