Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Death of the Catholic Male: The Roots of Human Nature

When we discuss what I term "the death of the Catholic male", we must discuss two things first.  We must look at the roots of human nature, and how that nature has been corrupted by the adversaries of truth.

The question concerning man's purpose has been one that has been disputed at great length throughout history by philosophers, theologians, commentators, etc.  While it is true enough to say that our ultimate purpose is to know, love, and serve God, I'd like to go off into a different area.  What kind of creature is man?

The world says sometimes that man is a "sexual" creature with reason.    Everything is to be defined by our sexuality, whether it be the act itself, who we are as men and women (in a purely rationalist way), etc.  Other times, man is a creature of utility.  The worth of man is defined based upon what he contributes to society.  Other times, we are viewed as economic creatures, and more importantly creatures of class.  Our dignity is based upon our social status, and what class we belong to.  (Whether it be the caste of nobility or the socialist theory.)

There is a hint of truth to all of these theories, but they are ultimately lacking.  The church responds by pointing out the fact that man was not only made in relation to God, but in relation to fellow man.  When the Earth was created, Adam was given dominion over all creation.  Yet this did not define man.  What defined him was his special creation in God's status.  There was a certain uniqueness that separated him from the animals, namely the endowment of human reason.

This in and of itself however still does not define man, or make him complete.  While God saw His creation as "very good", we also hear "it is not good for man to be alone."  Now many will see in this statement and what follows to be God's plan of the call to communion between man and female.  While certainly true, I think this ignores something just as important.  When God creates Eve, He creates another human from the rib of Adam, from his nature.  Eve would possess the exact same dignity and special status as Adam.  More importantly, every human being on the earth from this point onward would share a similar inherent dignity, with rights according to that dignity.  From this very small moment civilization and society are born.

Here we see the greatest separation from the animal kingdom.  Combined with reason, our relationships with other beings constitute something essential to human nature.  This is the first and fundamental truth of masculinity.  There are those who believe that the most desired trait is that of "independence."  We see this in concepts of the ubermensch  to the concept of the "independent woman" so rampant in today's feminist culture.  Each in it's own special way preaches an individual over and above the other, having no need of relationship.  For as Nietzsche says "What is the ape to man?"  So we are called to be in relation to others.  The "independent woman" is feminism's answer to Nietzsche.  She too may rise above the primitive concept of communion with others.  She can do everything herself, and has no need of anyone to support or help her, certainly not a man!

The Christian understanding rejects both for a variety of reasons.  One is ultimately our status as created creatures.  We cannot be the source of everything.  This fundamental limit even in our first parents (before the entrance of original sin) had dramatic ramifications for civilization.  Strong as Adam could become, there would always be certain things he was incapable of doing.  Even those things he could do, there would be some Eve was better at.  Likewise, in society there are always certain things that one person excels at, and another person excels at something else.  Only through relationships with others can man really achieve anything.

Flowing from these differences, structures naturally develop.  Yet the ultimate end of any structure was God.  This meant that our actions had to be done in accordance with His will ultimately, not ours.  The pursuit of power in a man can never bring about true fulfillment.  Therefore in the masculine nature, there is an inherent sense of obedience to something greater.  While both men and women possess this, it is something far more profound in the man.  When the Roman Centurion gives his humble prayer to Jesus, he then describes how his life is defined by nature of command, whether commanding others or himself being commanded.

The modern world rejects this idea.  Obedience is to be constantly challenged.  If one is to suffer obedience, it is only to be until they can rise past it.  It is one tool like many that are in place until they can be overcome.  If the part of submission is to be resisted (in men and women alike), that of being a Dominus is to be encouraged.  In Latin, Dominus means Lord or Master.  The secular concept teaches us to use (and abuse) everything for the fulfillment of the self.  Whether it be using another person to satisfy urges in lust, exploiting a worker to increase your bottom line, lying to accomplish a goal, society really doesn't condemn them with any strong moral voice, if they are condemned at all.  The weaklings deserve it!  That person exists to fulfill my urges, my "needs".  The worker should be lucky he has a job at all, the ends justify the means!  The byproducts of this mindset are crystal clear in the 20th century.  We saw the eugenics movement (those who are a burden to "society", meaning the self, should be "put down"), the horrors of communism (where millions were massacred under the guise of "advancing" society, which typically meant the ambitions of the ruler), and the modern-day child sacrifice of abortion (a child I did not plan holds me back, I cannot be held back by anything or anyone.)  All of the attempts to resolve the problems this mindset creates, from a secular standpoint, have been found wanting, since they are ultimately arbitrary.  Those standards which have been imposed by one individual can simply be changed at will by another individual once they assume power.

Only with the Christian Gospel (almost all of these tenants are also included within Judaism, being that we both rely on the Old Testament/Torah) contains a way out of these traps for society, and for masculinity.  By emphasizing our status as created beings, we recognize our ultimate limits, and that there is a standard to which in the end we are accountable to.  Alongside this we must emphasize the importance of the individual dignity inherent within each individual upon creation.  The first principle guides our relationship to the second.  We cannot do something to another simply because it is within our power to do so.  Since all humanity was created for each other mutually, we cannot obtain complete "independence" from another, nor is it desirable.

In future columns we will examine this understanding more in-depth, by analyzing from the perspective of truth the concepts I mentioned above.

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