At the risk of wearying readers with variations on the theme of Truth, these “Comments” will make further comment on the summary of Wojcieck Niemczewski’s Culture as religion; the post-modern interpretation of the relationship between culture and religion, quoted here last week. For indeed we must save our souls, and one deep danger in the way of saving our souls is the blinding of our highest faculty, which is our minds, upon which follows immediately the corruption of our hearts. And the deepest danger for our minds today is the universal assumption that ideas do not matter, that truth is not important. See how Vatican II preferred modernity to faithful Catholicism, notably in the Conciliar document of Gaudium et Spes, and then how the Society of St Pius X preferred the Conciliar Romans to their faithful Founder, and in each case, how the large majority of priests and lay-folk followed along.
Let us begin by laying out Niemczewski’s thoughts in order, so as to see where he is coming from and where he is going to: 1 There is no objective God because “God” is the subjective fabrication inside each one of us. 2 Therefore the old “truths” of yesterday’s religion and philosophy no longer have any foundation. 3 Moreover they no longer fit today’s real world, which is changing in all domains and faster than ever. 4 Worse, they are actually blocking modern progress, or the “culture of choice” which enables us to adapt to change, and which guarantees the freedom of each of us to put together his own way of life. 5 So to remain adaptable to modernity, post-modern man must accept this non-universal and non-obligatory “culture of choice” which imposes on man neither norms nor any being superior to him. 6 In conclusion, truth must give way to liberty, religion to culture, and direction to drift. 7 Therefore down with Truth, up with the “culture of choice”!
Alas for post-modern man, there is a reality outside his mind, as close to him as his own arms and legs, and this extra-mental reality has laws of its own, in no way dependent on his mind. For instance if he has tooth-ache, he will have to go to the dentist and not to the fishmonger. And these laws are not only physical but also moral. For instance if a poor girl has an abortion, she is not going to be able to wish away her pangs of conscience, however much she would like to. The free-will of each of us human beings is unquestionably free – hence the possibility of Niemczewski’s “culture of choice” – but that culture of choice can only function inside and not outside of the structured framework of the laws of extra-mental reality, physical and moral. Thus for my eternity I am free to choose Heaven or Hell, but I am not free to choose to break seriously the moral law and still go to Heaven.
The ancient Greeks in their prime pre-dated Our Lord’s Incarnation by hundreds of years, so that they had no benefit of supernatural grace or illumination. But just naturally they observed – they did not invent – the grave and unavoidable consequences of human beings rearing up against the moral structure of human life, and they gave that rearing up a name – “hubris,” today we would call it “pride.” Thus Niemczewski’s presentation of the “culture of choice” begins by denying God and ends by defying Him, but while he may bend men’s minds in favour of his “culture,” he is powerless to bend the eternal and ineffable Existence of God, or the eternal and absolute necessity of Truth. For instance, if there is no such thing as truth, then that at least is a truth. Hence in denying all or any dogma, nobody is so dogmatic as the Freemasons, and in their subjective undermining of all doctrine, nobody is so doctrinal as the Modernists and Neo-modernists.
In brief, a man like Niemczewski is refusing to recognise that around mankind’s arena of choice is a ring of reality which is not of man’s choice. The churchmen of Vatican II are refusing to recognise that the Deposit of Faith cannot be modernised. And the leaders of the Newsociety of St Pius X are refusing to recognise that the Conciliar Romans are fantasy merchants. The “culture of choice” will finish by costing all of them dearly. It may cost them their eternity if they cannot come to their Catholic senses.