President Barack Obama’s speech at Hiroshima last week seemed quite interesting and insightful. It was a moving secularist manifesto quite in line with the agenda proclaimed at the Georgia Guidestones monument. As such, it was rather heavily tainted with a humble hubris, which tended to decry the crimes of our ancestors, while asserting that we have the ability to rise above those crimes. In reading it, I could not help think of Christ’s denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the
memorials of the righteous, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not
have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.” Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you
are the children of those who murdered the prophets. Now fill up what your ancestors measured out.
One rather seductive statement in his speech was, “The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of the atom requires a moral revolution as well.”
Although this sounds like a call to conversion, it is actually indicating a need to change our moral orientation to bring it into alignment with the demands of our modern age.
But the objective moral standards of our Judeo-Christian heritage do not need to change, since they are rooted in a God Who is Truth and Who is both truthful and faithful to us. It reminded me a bit of those who were so adamant about reforming the Church’s liturgy that they ignored the proper order of priorities, which asserts that each of us need reform.
Liturgical renewal in reverent and docile obedience to the Holy Spirit is good, but the “reform” of the liturgy in order to conform it to our profane and, at times, even perverted agendas is dangerous. What is relevant to me and my agenda is rarely in full harmony with the Divine Revelation entrusted to Christ’s Church. What was really needed was a moral revival (Or I should more accurately express it in this age of secularist amorality, a moral resuscitation). Authentic human conversion cannot be founded on a purely materialistic and pragmatic foundation.
Without the discipline of an authentic humble, docile and accountable spirituality rooted in the whole truth of God, humanity has no hope of lasting growth and development. History has repeatedly shown us how the lack of respect for objective moral truth leaves humanity in a condition where technology inevitably leads people to enslavement by addictions and/or perversion. As one of our Founding Fathers succinctly said, “A people that will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.”
President Obama also told us “… we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.” Aside from the fact that his own Administration has consistently promoted a degradation of historical literacy among our youth, so much so that even some Harvard and Yale students manifest total ignorance of major events in America’s history, this statement is flawed. Human history is often slanted to promote the agendas of the powers-that-be. For example, sixty years ago, Planned Parenthood promised that the contraceptive-abortifacient pill would lead to stronger family unity and a reduction in domestic violence. And fifty years ago, it began to assert that abortion-on-demand would bring an end to child abuse and child neglect, since every child would be a “wanted” child. Looking directly into the eye of history has shown both those assertions to be obscene lies.
Yet Obama insists that Planned Parenthood must be subsidized with half a billion dollars a year to help perpetuate the social devastation that has come upon our world through these and other lies promoted as part of the sexual revolution.
Looking history directly in the eye also is unproductive. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to point out, there is a big difference between a thermometer and a thermostat. And whereas history may serve as a thermometer, only the gracious gift of Divine Revelation and the awkwardly beautiful wisdom offered by Christ crucified can be transformative. And by opening our hearts, our homes and all humanity to that transformative gaze of Divine Mercy and intimacy, humanity can finally come to discover and realize its true dignity as God’s image and likeness.
The secularist agenda embraced in Obama’s Hiroshima speech thus brings us to confront some serious questions. Can humanity discover the wisdom to constructively control our technology without also discovering a reverence for the sacred and an accountability to objective truth and virtue? Are people to be conditioned into peaceful beings or converted by being embraced more deeply into the mystery and the ministries of divine love and truth?
The only way to transcend the perversions of history, then, is to humbly and contritely allow ourselves and our history to be embraced more fully into eternity by participating more deeply in the saving and reconciling graciousness of Christ crucified.
Spero columnist Rev. Thomas Collins is a Catholic priest who serves the people of Virginia.