Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Political Rhetoric and Freedom of Speech: Lessons from the Historic Tension between Communism and the Church IV

Please scroll down to read the first of four blogs on Political Rhetoric and Freedom of Speech: Lessons from the Historic Tension between Communism and the Church:

The kindred ideologies of Liberalism, Socialism, and Communism not only share similar principles but they employ similar methods. During one episode of The Fulton Sheen Program (1961-1968; not to be confused with Life is Worth Living), Bishop Sheen said that Communists will speak of peace and even promote co-existence but only with the intention of destroying their opposition. Communist regimes such as the former Soviet Union paid lip service to respecting the sovereignty of its neighboring nations and the religious liberty of churches. However, what followed was a policy of encroachment and desecration. Keep in mind, they always introduce their benign intentions with a smile. But when opposing parties are no longer in a position to resist, then their true colors come out.

Many U.S. politicians, political operatives and partisan media types are beginning to publicly endorse Socialism. In November of 2010, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell said the following to his liberal colleagues on his show: “Unlike you, I am not a progressive. I am not a liberal who’s so afraid of the word that I had to change my name to progressive. Liberals amuse me. I am a Socialist.” What Lawrence O’Donnell should have said is, “I am no longer a liberal or a progressive.” Usually there is a preliminary phase of embracing liberal principles. In any case, just ten to twenty years ago Lawrence would not have been able to admit such a thing with impunity. It probably would have cost him his job. Even actor Ed Asner, who played Santa Clause on Elf, voiced his admiration for Communism. Today political terms like “Socialism” and “Communism” are no longer taboo. The point is that Liberalism is but the embryonic form of Socialism. And depending on the political and social circumstances of a given country, Socialism is but the embryonic form of Communism.

Recall T.S. Eliot’s definition of Liberalism. He said that Liberalism “is a movement not so much defined by its end, as by its starting point; away from, rather than towards something definite.” Indeed, this movement is not aimed at principles. Its course of action is principally motivated by aversion or hatred to someone or something. As previously stated, it is animated with a spirit of protest. This is why many of its supporters can be quite discriminatory towards Christianity and without skipping a beat, turn around and exercise deference to Islam; almost to the point of servility. Bishop Fulton Sheen said the following in his book, Communism and the Western Conscience:

“Many follow Communism not because they are convinced that it is right, but because they have a hidden hate against something or somebody. Those who feel individually impotent to vent their hate upon a person or a class or an institution feel that if they joined Communism they could find a corporate expression for their pent-up animosities and their dammed-up hate.”

He went on to say that Communists- and here we can include the proponents of Liberalism and Socialism too –became disillusioned with their freedom which only produced chaos in their souls. As such, they opted for a Communistic or authoritarian dictatorship outside of themselves to organize their chaos. Sheen added that because they lost the power of self regulation from within, they seek a Communist-imposed regulation from without. The patrons of Liberalism, Socialism or Communism can have a seeming sense of righteousness and justice by hating the wrongs of others without any obligation to better their own lives.

What is therefore a threat against freedom of speech and religious liberty in America is this hatred that Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote about. A movement driven by the emotion is neither consistent nor principled. It will say one thing and do another.

As for Christians, in the last fifty years they have not been formed by the fullness of the Gospel. Passages that have to do with sin, hell, the devil, fighting the good fight, battling evil, God’s punishment or the severity that Jesus Christ repeatedly demonstrates throughout the four Gospels have all been de-emphasized. What is more, to publicly acknowledge that the Christ or the Church has enemies is considered to be impolite. But yet these truths are in the New Testament nevertheless. What the historian Christopher Dawson said in 1935 is no conspiracy; neither is it apocalyptic. What he said is the Gospel truth:

“For the first time in the world’s history, the Kingdom of the Antichrist has acquired political form and social substance and stands over against the Christian Church as a counter-church with its own dogmas and its own moral standards, ruled by a centralized hierarchy and inspired by an intense will to world conquest.”

In the United States, if the Conservative media is ever silence or restricted in its freedom of speech, the Catholic Church will be the next target. The sooner Catholics realize who threatens this right and who will be threatened, the sooner they can get to work and guard against future encroachments.