Aim Rightly

We hear a lot about equity nowadays, and that is why we are really bothered by “double-standards.”

After all, why should one person or group be governed by one set of rules and another by a different set? Or why do those who seem tasked with implementing equity, be it in the political, social, or financial realms, feel the need to make personal exceptions for themselves?

Why are large fuel-consuming jets taken to environmental summits, or fine food served at conferences about how to feed the hungry? This sounds hardly equitable.

As we all experienced draconian measures in response to the coronavirus that have invaded and upset the flow of daily life – measures carrying catastrophic social consequences that still stand in need of computation – perhaps many have also experienced rightful indignation over various government officials ignoring the very measures imposed upon their constituents.

But in a way that became small peanuts when compared to the blowback that began occurring when the measures started to go questioned. Something was rotten in Denmark, as the saying goes. So as things progressed and the scrutiny intensified, especially as stories and information kept changing from those in charge, an irony emerged: the same people who treat religion with contempt, who belittle those of Faith as ignoramuses and blind followers of authority, suddenly started demanding it from the masses. It was kind of fun to be like a god.

Science was invoked as an infallible authority (interesting how the viability of the unborn still goes ignored); dogmas were established, and new commandments were drawn up, complete with what constituted virtuous behavior. The expectation was for everyone to obey. Those who raised concerns became the new heretics for this emerging new religion that insisted on some form of blind faith.

But one irony tends to breed another.

For what is being demanded is not “faith,” and the Church would be the first to point that out. Never has the Church separated right reason from the virtue of faith.

In fact, her entire patristic and scholastic Tradition reveals the Church inviting the use of reason and critical thinking – the asking of questions – for the understanding of what she proposes for belief. The entire method of St. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, is a forum of questions, objections, answers, and resolutions.

True, grace is needed to ultimately make an act of faith, but even that is not against right reason. An act of faith simply admits where reason has limits, but such would not include an assent to contradictions. God expects us to humbly use the minds He gave us to arrive at the truth He desires us to know for the salvation of our souls. He is the Light that enlightens every man who comes into the world so that we can reasonably discern the credentials and credibility of Christianity.

This is why a recent paper published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers merits comment here. The paper is quite critical of those who question the measures imposed in response to the coronavirus, not because of their failure to cite science in their objections, but – and here is the double-standard – because of their use of the same science and data to draw different conclusions. How dare this happen! It is almost reminiscent of the man born blind who challenges the Pharisees when he grew tired of their constant banter over who cured him: Thou was born wholly in sins and dost thou teach us? (Jn. 9:34)

The most embarrassing part is that the paper even admits that the criticism of such measures is actually grounded in “more scientific rigor, not less.” Since the outcome is different, however, and perhaps since it exposes a propagandist agenda, like those Pharisees who expelled the cured blind man from the Temple for confessing Christ, the paper accuses those critical of the measures of employing “weaponized critical thinking.”

Perhaps this marks the latest version of domestic terrorism. How opposite the methods of Holy Mother Church, who accepts scrutiny because it makes the Truth of the Gospel shine more brilliantly. How contrary to the Church’s insistence on freedom and the use of critical thinking to arrive at these saving truths of holy religion.

How different the work of the Holy Spirit who patiently enlightens the soul to understand the dogmas proposed by the Church so as to judge rightly about them and live accordingly.

At the end of the day, there is no matter more critical, and that requires the discipline of critical thinking, than salvation and where we spend eternity. Pentecost is all about that.

Perhaps those who demand blind faith in their new religion while criticizing the Spirit’s methods over what true Faith is really about should consider whether they have weaponized their critical thinking into some act of spiritual suicide. How they miss the equity and freedom that comes with belief in the True Faith.

Veni Sancte Spiritus!

May 21, 2021