April 21, 2014

Heritage on Religious Freedom and Same-Sex Marriage

A new policy paper from The Heritage Foundation warns that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex unions “poses significant threats to the religious liberties of people who continue to believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.” These threats are acknowledged by both those who support and those who oppose redefining marriage, according to to Thomas M. Messner, a Visiting Fellow in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at Heritage. Some “talking points” from Same-Sex Marriage and the Threat to Religious Liberty:

– Judicial decisions redefining marriage to include same-sex unions state that limiting marriage to men and women is a form of unacceptable discrimination against homosexuals.

– The freedom to express the view that marriage involves a man and a woman will come under growing pressure as courts, public officials, and private institutions come to regard the traditional understanding of marriage as a form of irrational prejudice that should be purged from public life.

– Individuals and institutions that believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman could lose access to government benefits and become subject to costly lawsuits under nondiscrimination laws that protect sexual orientation, gender, and marital status.

– Given America’s long history of protecting the basic human right to religious liberty and the role of religious liberty as a pillar of free society and liberal democracy, lawmakers have a serious obligation to uphold religious liberty and to provide exemptions where laws would force people to violate their religious beliefs.

In California, opponents of Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative that affirmed traditional marriage, are turning their ire on the Mormons. According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints “got into the thick of the California battle when officials issued statements encouraging members to actively support the ban. All told, Latter-day Saints are estimated to have given, by some counts, as much as $22 million to the effort.”

Proposition 8 was backed by Orthodox bishops in California and won strong support from blacks and Hispanics:

Exit polls showed that 70 percent of black voters, and a majority of Latino voters, voted yes on Proposition 8, one likely reason why the measure won a slim majority in Los Angeles County, where pre-election polls had suggested it would lose, even though it lost by a huge margin in the Bay Area.

Comments

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    Chuck says:

    Personally i could care less if someone wants a union with another of the same sex; they do not answer to me.

    Up here, however, some want to force priest’s who do not agree with it to perform the ceremony. I draw the line anytime freewill is interfered with-and such is the case in Canada.

    I’m glad it was voted against. Hopefully you’ll be guaranteed your right to religious freedom before this law is passed.

    I’m not too sure how long we’ll have ours.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Chuck writes:

    Personally i could care less if someone wants a union with another of the same sex; they do not answer to me.

    Can’t have it both ways Chuck — moral relativism and freedom. They can’t coexist. If you value freedom, and it appears you do, then moral behavior and social arrangements have to reference something more than whether or not someone answers to you.

    More to the point, “freewill” is not enough on which social arrangements (like marriage) are decided. If a man wanted to, say, marry his daughter and both agreed, do we allow this? Or how about polygamy? “Freewill” is a prescription for moral anarchy, and moral anarchy is a prescription for tyranny, if by “freewill” you mean we get to do whatever we want to do as long as both parties consent to the act.

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    Reader John says:

    The Heritage Foundation is correct. A few candid same-sex marriage supporters even admit that there’s a conflict between gay rights and the freedom of traditional religious views.
    I suspect that the Church needs, soon if not now, to get out of the business of solemnizing this oddity that Massachuetts and Connecticut call “marriage” (and which other states will be calling “marriage” soon, too) and stick to the nystery of Holy Matrimony.
    Indeed, if Orthodox people want Holy Matrimony without the state’s legal status of “marriage,” why should the Church care? The state’s institution is now essentially no more than a seal of approval on consensual erotic pairings; is there not now as much scandal in participating in the state’s sad parody as there is in bearing children outside it?
    Yeah, I’m playing Devil’s Advocate a little, but I fear that the approval of Proposition 8 is a blip of sanity on the radar screen of chaos, and that the Church needs to be taking steps to insulate itself from State control. It will be a relatively long time before the State tells the Church who it must admit to its Mysteries.

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    Chuck says:

    Forgive me, Holy Father, but was there a magical time in human history where moral relativism hasn’t existed? What is sin if not the pinnacle of this relativism? There’s only ever been moral anarchy in the world since the fall-this is a simple reality.

    There has always been 2 ways of living.

    1) According to the will of God-Abraham, Noah, and those that followed.

    2) According to our own will-Cain, people in Sodom, Gomorrah, etc, and others who “did what was good to them”.

    We know the Truth; we follow the path of Abraham, and those who have done the will of God since the beginning which is true freedom. To the world freedom means doing what they want. If this wasn’t true sin would not exist.

    Throughout history mankind has had freewill-we have had a choice to make. Even in the garden this freewill was in action; otherwise Adam and Eve would not have been able to sin.

    Those who are not Christian, and do not follow the will of God, can be morally relativistic-in fact they must be. Is it right? No, of course not. They do, however, have the freewill to choose that path.

    Can we? No; unless we categorically deny the will of God. We have the freewill to choose, and remain on, God’s path as well.

    As to the question of who they answer to i would have thought this a basic understanding: they answer to God alone as we all do.

    Are they Christian? Do they answer to the Church? Do they answer to a confessor? If they did they may not be sinning any more, but they have freewill as we all do, and may just choose to sin anyway.

    Same sex marriage will happen-it’s just a question of when. In fact it’s an anomaly in history that it isn’t legal-the same is true of abortion, and other sins. None of these are new, and all have been practiced since the fall whether legal, or otherwise. Law doesn’t stop sin.

    Polygamy is a bad example-it’s protected under freedom of religion, and is openly practiced. In fact St. Paul says bishops should have only one wife so it was practiced even in his time. The Canons have changed that though.

    Fathers marrying daughters, mothers marrying sons, sisters marrying brothers, brothers marrying sisters, etc, has been practiced for eons in some societies actually-it’s nothing new. In fact God, in the Torah, had to address this problem so we understand it as sin now. Even now some practice it in secret.

    Are these sins right? Of course not. The world, however, is, and always has been, relative. To deny this is to deny man is fallen.

    The question isn’t whether the world is morally relativistic, but whether we are.

    Do i value freedom? Yes, but i’m a realist, and as i said in another post-freedom in the world is smoke and mirrors. It is all dependent on who is in power at the time; we have only been as free as the government allows us to be at any given time-history proves this reality.

    In fact even the meaning of freedom has changed. Now it’s directly linked to purchasing power. So long as people can go to the temple of mammon and shop they believe themselves to be free. So long as they can acquire wealth they are free-the more you have is related to how free you actually are, and thus the quality of life you have.

    I hope for freedom, but i don’t believe it has existed since the garden, and won’t until the end of days. I hope the government will care enough to protect the rights of all it’s citizens, but honestly i don’t expect them to; again-history proves this reality. This is why i have never believed civilization has existed; it can’t when fallen man is involved. There has only been civilized people, who choose God’s will, living in the world.

    Freewill means people have a choice to sin, and tyranny is a choice that some make. I accept this fact-as a realist, and a Christian, i must. Tyranny doesn’t care about mutual consent; it forces it on people.

    Will i oppress to protect my rights? No. It’s antithetical to my Faith. I’ll not compromise my Faith for rights i feel i’m entitled to anymore then i would compromise my Faith if it became illegal.

    As i said, hopefully your right to religious freedom will be preserved before this law is passed. Up here i’m not too sure how long we’ll have ours because of the way our law is written.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Chuck, way too much stuff here. This is an essay. So, to keep it brief:

    The world, however, is, and always has been, relative. To deny this is to deny man is fallen.

    Not really, at least not in the sense of the broad certainty and finality that you imply. It used to be that when people did wrong, they knew it was wrong but did it anyway. Now they think the wrong is right. That’s relativism.

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    Reader John says:

    I don’t care to wade into the relativism discussion, but I do know some things about law, and am loathe to let legal balderdash go unchallenged.

    Chuck writes:

    Same sex marriage will happen-it’s just a question of when. In fact it’s an anomaly in history that it isn’t legal…
    Polygamy is a bad example-it’s protected under freedom of religion, and is openly practiced.

    Both propositions are quite false.

    If Chuck means there has always been homosexual sodomy, I’d agree. “Same-sex marriage,” however, is an effort – unprecedented, I think, despite a tendentious “scholarly” book of a few years ago – to entitle sodomy to the same governmental status as marriages wherein “the marital act,” to use an expression the very quaintness of which tells us how far we’ve strayed, is possible. It also, in my more amateurish opinion, is an effort to afford homosexual sodomy equal moral status through the power of fallacy (“if it’s legal, it much be unobjectionable”).

    Polygamy is not protected under freedom of religion. I believe the Supreme Court case to that effect was Reynolds v. United States in 1894 – a prequel to Utah statehood. It may be “openly practiced” for some men to have multiple sexual partners in their home, and to call it “marriage” under what the press calls the “fundamentalist” Mormon Church. But those guys get no tax or other government benefit beyond the wife the state recognizes, and they are in peril of bigamy prosecuton.

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    L.Coman says:

    It used to be that when people did wrong, they knew it was wrong but did it anyway. Now
    they think the wrong is right. That’s relativism.

    This is very well said! They knew it was wrong but did it anyway. But they were ashamed of their ways … When did the shame go away? Do they really think the wrong is right?

    We watch the news and see a man kissing the hand of an other man while placing a ring on his finger… Is seeing it on TV making it right? No! This sin has been around always, but in hidden, small scale ways.

    When did it strat to be promoted on TV as “an alternative way of life”? It should be called “an alternative way to die” because there is no transmission of life in these “marriages”.

    What is this fight for? For good, for life? No, it is a fight against life! Life is under assault by the forces of death. The fight for the same-sex marriages is only one batlle, part of a large assault on the family that has been going on for decades now.

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    Chuck says:

    Not really, at least not in the sense of the broad certainty and finality that you imply. It used to be that when people did wrong, they knew it was wrong but did it anyway. Now they think the wrong is right. That’s relativism.

    Sins were wrong long before some became illegal, and people thought them right. This was long before relativism entered our language. All we’ve done is gave it a term.

    Legality doesn’t define sin anymore then it can cause Virtue.

    If Chuck means there has always been homosexual sodomy, I’d agree. “Same-sex marriage,” however, is an effort – unprecedented, I think, despite a tendentious “scholarly” book of a few years ago – to entitle sodomy to the same governmental status as marriages wherein “the marital act,” to use an expression the very quaintness of which tells us how far we’ve strayed, is possible. It also, in my more amateurish opinion, is an effort to afford homosexual sodomy equal moral status through the power of fallacy (”if it’s legal, it much be unobjectionable”).

    Polygamy is not protected under freedom of religion. I believe the Supreme Court case to that effect was Reynolds v. United States in 1894 – a prequel to Utah statehood. It may be “openly practiced” for some men to have multiple sexual partners in their home, and to call it “marriage” under what the press calls the “fundamentalist” Mormon Church. But those guys get no tax or other government benefit beyond the wife the state recognizes, and they are in peril of bigamy prosecuton.

    If anything we’re returning to an ancient meaning of marriage in society; it actually doesn’t mean anything except a contractual merger between 2 people. This was done in some societies for same sex couples. They were rare, but they did happen.

    Common law marriage is an example, and is actually against the Christian definition of marriage. There’s no need to even have a ceremony let alone the entire Mystery of Marriage; it’s been considered outdated for decades. Same sex marriage is just a progression of this ideology.

    To the world the law defines morals. In fact, it always has. If it is illegal it must be wrong. If it is legal it must be right. We can see this in all societies throughout time to today.

    Thus Christians could be martyred in Rome, Jews could be slaughtered in Germany, etc. All made legal, and thus okay in the eyes of most of the populace.

    You’re not amateurish thinking this-it’s a simple reality.

    Thus prohibition made drinking bad while doing drugs was good; literally you could go into an opium den without being accosted, but you could be arrested in a gin house.

    Now it works differently. We can, literally, legally drink ourselves to death because alcohol is considered okay, but drugs are illegal thus considered bad. Both, in reality, can be just as bad as the other.

    It’s why the Holocaust can happen even today; all it takes is a law making it so, and the masses might follow it depending on the prevailing popular thought, and the star quality behind it.

    Civilization has never existed because of this mentality. Civilized people have lived in society.

    I was referring to the Canadian Constitution actually, forgive me for the confusion. In ours polygamy is protected under freedom of religion.

    We watch the news and see a man kissing the hand of an other man while placing a ring on his finger… Is seeing it on TV making it right? No! This sin has been around always, but in hidden, small scale ways.

    I’m sorry to say, Mr. Coman, but it’s actually yes. Propaganda has been a tool for centuries. Today it’s instant in the medium of both TV, and the internet.

    Is there a star to promote it? More attention, and people will actually think it’s okay; it has an endorsement after all. As smart as mankind can be we can be as equally stupid.

    It has never been small scale even when sodomy was illegal. It was hidden though. The fact we cannot see something, and only hear of it rarely, does not mean it doesn’t happen often. Tens of thousands came “out of the closet” when sodomy was made legal.

    Many suspect abortion may have happened as often, or slightly less, then they do right now in clandestine clinics. No one knows, however, as records were never kept. It has always been done throughout history though; including the practice of forced miscarriage.

    This fight hasn’t been taking place for decades, but for millennium.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 8. Chuck writes:

    Sins were wrong long before some became illegal, and people thought them right. This was long before relativism entered our language. All we’ve done is gave it a term.

    The term relativism deals with how people think about certain behaviors; with cultural and social mores. Laws follow these mores, but they also have a teaching function, that is, people assume because some things are legal, they are also “right,” that is, morally proper.

    This slide into moral and cultural relativism is fairly recent. Sen. Moynihan wrote about the cultural ramifications of this cultural shift in his speech Defining Deviancy Down in 1993. Read more about that here: The Politics of Deviance.

    Get a good definition of relativism here: ISM Central.

    If anything we’re returning to an ancient meaning of marriage in society; it actually doesn’t mean anything except a contractual merger between 2 people. This was done in some societies for same sex couples. They were rare, but they did happen.

    Not really. Heterosexual marriage is part of the order of creation. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. The Church reveals, nurtures, and contextualizes marriage as a sacred relationship — just as it does with all of creation. Even non-Christian cultures recognize this on a very basic level, since almost all cultures see marriage as between one man and one woman. (It has a lot to do with St. Paul’s teaching that the visible things of the world — the fabric of creation — reveal things about the invisible Creator).

    Just because people do not recognize (or believe) marriage has a sacred dimension does not say that marriage can be defined to mean whatever we want it to mean — a point you seem to be making here. Nor does it mean the potential for sacrilizing marriage does not exist (it does, as part of the creation). But let’s carry that forward. If the Church recognizes abortion as a grave sin, does it mean that aborting children is of no moral consequence if you don’t hold to Church teaching? You would have to argue that it has no consequences whatsoever, given the way you reason about marriage. Aborting unborn children is wrong it seems, only if you believe it’s wrong. That’s relativism, BTW.

    Relativism has huge cultural implications, a point you inadvertently make in your comment:

    It’s why the Holocaust can happen even today; all it takes is a law making it so, and the masses might follow it depending on the prevailing popular thought, and the star quality behind it.

    …even though you misunderstand how this evil came about. Laws don’t determine what is right; laws reflect a moral consensus about what is right and what is wrong. As mentioned above however, laws also include a teaching function, that is, laws that allow wrong behaviors end up making the wrong appear right. That’s what is really behind such projects as the defeat of Proposition 8. Prop 8 was not about homosexual marriage as much as it is about the cultural sanctioning of homosexuality (and the Church was right to publically oppose it).

    Start grasping how the conflict about moral visions in the culture really functions, and you will begin to grasp how such evils as the Holocaust (and the Gulags) were unleashed. A good place to start: The Theological Roots of Nazism and Stalinism.

    While your at it, reread Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Address, and ponder how seriously he took his call to bring truth into the world, as evidenced by his bold worlds spoken at the epicenter of the American educational establishment. Clearly he believed the truth was not to be contained “under the bushel” (as “private opinion” in the parlance of our age), but needed to be proclaimed — both in private life, which he revealed through his suffering in the Gulag, and in public, revelealed through writing and speaking.

    Why do I mention this? First of all, the speech is brilliant and the moral courage inspiring — no relativism here! Secondly, the privatization of the Christian faith is a subtext working throughout you post. You need to examine that too.

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    L.Coman says:


    I’m sorry to say, Mr. Coman, but it’s actually yes. Propaganda has been a tool for centuries. Today it’s instant in the medium of both TV, and the internet.


    First, I would appreciate if you drop the “Mr.” part.

    No, the answer is still no. It does not make it right! It might appear right in the eyes of ignorant people. Even “pseudo-religious” people might accept if as being right because they thing it does not hurt anybody if we let them “marry”. They are very wrong, dead wrong in fact.

    As soon as you accept evil, it does not take too long to see the effects:
    ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ banished by California
    Schwarzenegger signs law outlawing terms perceived as negative to ‘gays’
    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=58130

    More than this: same thing happening in Britain shortly after it:

    http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Soc/soc.culture.yugoslavia/2008-02/msg00000.html

    This suggests that the process does not happen randomly, It is being “orchestrated” at the higher level. The desired overall effect is the one I already mentioned: to undermine the family. This evil masquerade as good to be realized. They say these people love each other. Or they say : we fell in love and we say “I do …”. Poor people! Only if they knew that what they are doing has nothing to do with love. The true, perfect love is the concern for someone’ eternal salvation.

    This fight hasn’t been taking place for decades, but for millennium.

    The propaganda is way more effective now because of both TV, and the internet. The TV and the internet are gifts from God, but they are being heavily misused. We can see the result of this propaganda: a huge number of divorces and less children in the family. This situation is only decades old, perhaps half a century.

    As smart as mankind can be we can be as equally stupid.

    I would say that the smarter one consider himself the greater the chances are that he/she is stupid. I would rather seek to be wise, not smart. There is a subtle difference between “smart” and “wise”. There are/were many unlearned wise people. And many of the truly wise people became saints.

    The term relativism deals with how people think about certain behaviors; with cultural and social mores. Laws follow these mores, but they also have a teaching function, that is, people assume because some things are legal, they are also “right,” that is, morally proper.

    This slide into moral and cultural relativism is fairly recent.

    Perhaps relativism came into being after 1905 when Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity. It deals with the laws of physics as seen from different frames (in the moral relativism this would be the moral laws as seen by people with different backgrounds). There is a particular inertial frame of reference in which physical laws hold in the same and simplest form. This particular frame has an equivalent in the moral relativism:
    the Church teachings.

    In the teaching of the Church we have the moral laws defined in the simplest form. The pseudo-educated and pseudo-religious people fail to see and understand these fundamental truths.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 10. L. Coman writes:

    Perhaps relativism came into being after 1905 when Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity. It deals with the laws of physics as seen from different frames (in the moral relativism this would be the moral laws as seen by people with different backgrounds).

    In a sense, yes. Paul Johnson writes in “Modern Times” that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity has a revolutionary effect in the social sciences much like the Darwinian hypothesis had on the social sciences when it first came out (the latter is my point, not Johnson’s). In fact, he opens the book with Einstein. (Great read, BTW.)

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    L.Coman says:

    In a sense, yes. Paul Johnson writes in “Modern Times” that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity has a revolutionary effect in the social sciences much like the Darwinian hypothesis had on the social sciences when it first came out (the latter is my point, not Johnson’s). In fact, he opens the book with Einstein. (Great read, BTW.)

    Since we are talking about relativism, the expression “Great read” is overfilled by it. A great read for whom (what kind of people will find it great, what kind of background education, beliefs should they have)? For what purpose is a great read: educational, informational …?

    So, first thing I look up and see who Paul Johnson is:
    Paul Johnson is a British journalist and historian who writes passionately about the grim history of geopolitics in the twentieth century. I would like to know more about him before I read his books. Is he an atheist?

    The philosophers did not solve any problem, they only define notions. But look at what Kant says:
    ” Two things fill the soul with admiration and respect, the starry heaven above us and the moral law within us”.”

    The moral law within us! Is there, planted by the Creator. There is nothing relative about it.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Paul Johnson is a “great read” for several reasons. First of all, he is a first rate historian. Secondly, he’s a very good writer. His books are a pleasure to read. Thirdly, a Christian moral sensibility guides his writing. This latter point is important. Historians generally employ either neo-Marxist or Christian categories. It emerges from what I call their “deep-structure” thinking that shapes the final narrative they produce.

    (For those interested in these things, when one of the first and most influential neo-Marxist historians abandoned his path and converted to Christianity several decades back, it caused a firestorm in the academic world. They even became pro-life.)

    Johnson is a practicing Catholic.

    Regarding Kant. He was right of course, but he thought this internal indicator was sufficient to hold on to the existence of God in a society that was growing increasingly irreligious, and even anti-Christian (Nietzsche and all that) — a kind of philosophical Pietism in a way. Of course the blind faith in the idea of progress (Darwin et. al.) had not yet hit the horrors of WWI.

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    L.Coman says:

    Regarding Kant. He was right of course, but he thought this internal indicator was sufficient to hold on to the existence of God in a society that was growing increasingly irreligious, and even anti-Christian (Nietzsche and all that) — a kind of philosophical Pietism in a way.

    The moral law within us should be sufficient to hold on to the existence of God in a society. If the society started to grow irreligious, this is a sign that the moral law within an increasing number of people has been broken already.

    As soon as a compromise is made, the evil starts to built up around it. There is not such a thing as a “small sin”. We know of a small sin that turned the Creation upside down: Adam eat the apple. Adam did not obey God’s commandment.

    Same thing happens when a person does not obey the moral law within him: he does not obey God. As soon as he does that (and does not repent) he starts to walk outside the perimeter of the good, he starts to walk into darkness.

    The feminist movement is an obvious example of people walking into darkness. Their goal is to achieve equality with men (which seem to be basically reduced to prosperity and sexual “freedom”). In the name of this equality they claim the right for abortion, which is the killing of an defenseless baby. There is nothing “manly” in such an act. Abstinence would be something that requires strength. This would make them look psychologically powerful(I do not think that the feminists want to look physically like men).

    This movement, as well in the same-sex marriage movement are examples of people walking into darkness. The activists are doing the devil’s work and people caught into bondage to sin are following them.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    All morality and moral teaching stem from a particular cosmological/anthropological understanding.

    Christian morality flows from faith in a loving, triune, creator God who not only formed man in His image and likeness but freely united Himself with us in the Incarnation and through us to His creation, entering into our suffering that He might overcome death and restore us to full communion with Him.

    Secular morality is, properly speaking not really morality, it is simply ethics, i.e, a contrived order of behavior that guides folks in the direction of what seems to be the best for everybody. There is no understanding of man as being. People may have value, but nothing is sacred.

    Too often we allow legalistic thou shalt not’s to replace the transformational communion with the living God that is the fount and source of genuine morality. We turn the sacramental life to which we are called into a dead idol.

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    L.Coman says:

    Too often we allow legalistic thou shalt not’s to replace the transformational communion with the living God that is the fount and source of genuine morality. We turn the sacramental life to which we are called into a dead idol.

    Our world is broken, very likely, beyond repair. We are back to the time of ancient idol worship. The modern idols are many: money, sex, TV, games, or “having fun” … People are addicted to about everything. Addiction means lack of freedom. In this world of enslaved people the activists come along and do their evil work, very often from the shadows. They describe their doings as good and other people (not as evil as them, but obviously not very mindful) come to help them.

    Turning the sacramental life into a dead idol is one of the worst thing. The brokenness that we experience today come from the fact that the Holy Canons and the Ecumenical Councils’ decisions are unnoticeably being replaced by the Constitution.

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    L.Coman says:

    Note 13. Having these additional information, the book
    “Modern Times” by Paul Johnson seem to be at least a “good read”. Its length (over 700 pages) seems to cover more than history. If it were to be just a history book would be way too long for the relative short period of time that it covers.
    The fact that a Christian moral sensibility guides Johnson’s writing makes me interested in reading it. I do not have a lot of free time and many of us do not have. However, it is definitely better to replace the TV with a good read. The TV is a terribly efficient source of distraction from the faintest form of spiritual life.

Care to comment?

*