Follow the money to the gay marriage victory in Ireland

politics | May 24, 2015 | By Robert Moynihan

"Multinational companies like Twitter and Google have their headquarters in Ireland and they supported the 'Yes' campaign." —Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, in an interview yesterday with Vatican Insider on the outcome of the Irish vote approving same-gender "marriage" in Ireland
 
"So what happened? First, foreigners spent a lot of money to get this passed. Both sides have accused each other of relying on outside cash, but nothing could really match the scale of that poured into a 'Yes' vote. Second, the Irish were told that saying 'No' might damage their economy." —Tim Stanley, writing in England's The Telegraph on May 23 on the reasons the Irish voted as they did, in favor of legalizing same-gender "marriage"
 
The Irish referendum on May 22 on marriage (62% of the Irish are said to have voted "Yes," to allow same-gender marriage) continues to spark comment and reaction in Catholic circles.
 
But there is a lesson to be learned about this referendum which goes beyond the question of marriage itself, and beyond the question of sexuality and sexual immorality. For the cultural shift we are observing is occurring so rapidly, and so universally, that it seems clear that something else is happening on an even deeper level, something which is changing the very fabric of human consciousness, and -- as a consequence -- is changing moral judgments and societal organization. And it is this deeper level that we must struggle to understand more clearly, a level which includes the drive toward "transhumanism" (the develop of enhanced human-computer hybrids, and the "improvement" of the human being through genetic manipulation).
 
In other words, once again, what is at stake is not the "obvious" (legalization of same-gender marriage) but something even deeper (the nature of man, the nature of the human being, the extent to which this nature is "plastic," malleable, indeterminate, evanescent, detached from any "eternal" standard of being or behaving, or the extent to which it is linked to — or in the image of — some eternal, transcendent reality or being).
 
Along this line, of course, we will arrive at the questions of the existence of God, or the transcendent, and of the soul, and of the holy, which in a secularized and secularizing society are by definition completely meaningless questions -- meaningless because unrelated in any way to what is considered "real."
 
So we will finally arrive at the problem of rendering "meaningful" questions which have become meaningless to entire swathes of modern society — and, if the truth be told, to wide swathes also of the community of the faith.
 
And so the task of evangelization becomes the task of filling with meaning words and concepts that have been emptied of meaning.
 
The proliferation of global "social media" seems to offer a way for isolated people in small towns to escape the "narrow confines" of their "traditional views." People in Peoria, Illinois, participate in global forums, join international chatboards, initiate friendships in Poland and Peru. It seems like freedom.
 
But this "global conversation," by some strange alchemy, ends up introducing every participant, to a greater or lesser degree, to a certain "politically correct group think." Ideas and opinions which seemingly float in no particular place "on the net" begin to structure thought, to organize limits to belief. The chains which grip the mind are invisible, but inescapable. What emerges from a project ostensibly promoting individual expression is the most hive-like, non-individualistic global vision imaginable. The promise of freedom is broken in fact, and the media grind down dogmas and doctrines and traditions into a sort of minestrone of bytes and bits.
 
Concerning the Irish vote, three themes emerge:
 
(1) First, abuse cases, Church hypocrisy, and moral authority. The numerous cases of physical and sexual abuse of minors by Irish Catholic priests and nuns during the past half century — trumpeted by a gleeful secular media, but also often underestimated and even denied by Church authorities and by many faithful Catholics who simply could not believe such things could happen — effectively destroyed the once almost unquestioned high moral authority of the Church.
 
(2) Second, the influence of money. A flood of money from abroad, as well as concerns over the future economic consequences of the vote for Ireland — that is, a fear for the economic consequences of being  "out of step" with the global LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) agenda — evidently had a profound influence impelling the Irish to vote "Yes" and so to approve same-gender "marriage."
 
(3) Third, modern communications technology, and the underlying message and meaning of this technology in relationship to traditional moral teaching, and to the words which comprise that teaching.
 
Unprecedented technological changes in human communications technology during the past 200 years (from telegraph to Twitter) mean that individuals around the world — including in Ireland — are almost instantaneously subjected to, or influenced by, many new global "media" — news, videos, films, radio, popular music, internet, Twitter, Facebook, etc. — which did not even exist 100 or 50 or even 10 years ago.
 
Somewhere along the interface between these media and the human beings they are used by and affect, there are clues as to why human beings worldwide are changing their judgment so rapidly on many traditional moral teachings which, before this generation, were held universally for thousands of years.
 
Clearly, the traditional "transmission vectors" of ideas and beliefs — fathers and mothers speaking to their children, grandparents and uncles and aunts speaking in family gatherings, "village elders" speaking in community gatherings, and, yes, priests and nuns and evangelists speaking at Sunday Masses and in catechism classes — have been "short-circuited" and overwhelmed by these new "media."
 
And it will be important in this context to reflect on the deep meaning of Marshall McLuhan's words, when the great Canadian philosopher of communication theory (he lived from 1911 to 1980, and was a Catholic believer), told us that "the medium is the message" or even (a phrase he himself preferred) "the medium is the massage," in the sense that the mind is "massaged" by the medium until it relaxes and accepts the "message" of the medium.
 
Robert B. Moynihan PhD is the founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine.

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