Tag: emotion

Emotions Rampant

Emotions Rampant posted in Eleison Comments on February 9, 2019

In another interesting article from the regular bulletin of the American TFP (Tradition, Family, Property, January 4th edition), John Horvat observes and criticises a widespread phenomenon of modern society – emotions running out of control, and dominating people’s lives. Again (cf. these “Comments,” 590 of Nov. 3, 2018), from a Catholic point of view, the international TFP may be open as an organisation to more or less severe criticism (notably for by-passing the true Church), but its American bulletin has many thoughtful yet accessible articles for today’s Catholics having to live in a godless world. How Wisdom helps People Destroy the Dictatorship of the Emojis by John Horvat is one of these articles.

An “emoji” is one of those small digital images or icons used to express an idea or emotion, especially the tiny smiley or frowny faces freely available on computers and easily inserted in a text to express any one of a variety of emotions. Horvat uses emojis as a concrete example of the frequency with which emotions figure in today’s society. He argues that emotions are not bad in themselves, but they are presently playing too large a part in daily living, with disastrous results for the whole of society. When people do not want to face the reality of a world that includes hardship and suffering, then feelings prevail over facts, says Horvat, and instead of thinking they emote, so that, for instance, raw emotions fuel the anger politics that are rocking the world. Where it hurts to have to think, in order to work out why the world’s problems are as they are, on the contrary emotions make me feel good, and so I prefer to emote. But emotions have a necessarily incomplete grasp on reality. Here is why many a good wife has valuable instincts and intuitions, but she recognises that these need to be subordinated to the normally higher reasoning of her husband (not to his tyranny). And here is why our emotive politics of today are so crazy. And why the Newchurch of Vatican II and its Conciliar priests are so effeminate.

So why is reasoning superior to emotion? Because reasoning belongs to the higher part of man, to his mind and will, whereas human emotions belong to his higher and lower parts, to his passions and will. Certainly Our Lord and Our Lady had emotions. Our Lord wept over the grave of Lazarus (Jn. XI, 35). Our Lady suffered intensely when she lost her 12-year old Boy (Lk. II, 48). But just as by her reason she submitted her motherly grief to His mystery (Lk. II, 50), so He submitted 21 years later His human agony in the Garden of Gethsemane to the will of His Father in Heaven (Mt. XXVI, 39). For whereas all animals have sense appetite or passions, responding to sense stimuli from outside them, only the rational animal, man, has also the higher faculty of will which responds to intellective information fed to it by his mind. This intellective or rational dimension of man is wholly lacking to all the non-rational or brute animals.

Now nobody in his right mind accuses any non-rational animal of committing sin. At worst it is only following its instincts. This is because right and wrong are perceived only by man’s mind and performed as such by his will. That is because only by having mind and will does man have a conscience aware of sin (Jn. I, 9), making him able to sin. That is why man’s will must follow his higher reason and control his lower emotions, neither crushing them too tightly nor letting them completely go, but harnessing them in accordance with reason, with what his natural reason (Jn I, 9) tells him is right and not wrong.

It follows that if men want to sin, they will begin by dulling or obscuring their conscience, and they may well finish by denying that they have reason at all, and by affirming that animals are just as rational as they are. Anywhere in between they will let their emotions loose so that they no longer have to think, but are free to wallow in their passions. Horvat does not go this deep, but in fact this modern unleashing of emotion is part and parcel of modern man’s total war on God. God has only to get out of His own universe so that man can take His place, and do with it what he likes. Dear God, have mercy upon us!

Kyrie eleison.

Men’s Authority

Men’s Authority posted in Eleison Comments on May 28, 2011

Two young men, uncertain of getting married, begged me the other day to write a manual on how men should be men. Theirs was a real cry of distress: “When should we be nice with women, and when should we be firm? We just don’t know any longer!” Yesteryear the answer to that question was common sense for many a man, but authority today has been so widely undermined by liberal propaganda that the problem of exercising it in marriage may be one reason why now numbers of young folk prefer simply to live together rather than get married. What follows is not a manual, but it may at least point our two musketeers in the right direction.

St. Paul says: “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. III, 14,15). In other words all fatherhood or authority amongst God’s creatures is modelled upon and derives from the fatherhood and authority of God himself. As Dostoevsky has one of his characters say, “If God does not exist, then I have no business being an army officer.” So it stands to reason that if men chase God out of their society, as he is being chased today out of the whole wide world, then all authority is radically undermined. In the individual, reason will be unable to govern the passions, in the family the father will be unable to control his household, and in the State democracy will come to seem the only legitimate form of government.

Now within the family, who, observing daily life, can deny that men are stronger than women in the use of reason, while women are stronger than men in intuition and emotion? Watch any sitcom if you doubt it. Now feelings have their rightful place in life and they are scorned, like one’s wife, at one’s peril, but they come and go, they are unstable and as such they are a guide, but not a reliable guide, to action. On the contrary if reason discerns what is objectively true and just, it is stabilized by the fact that objective truth and justice are above any individual or his feelings. Therefore reason may listen to feelings, but it must rule them. That is why men have, as men, a natural authority possessed only exceptionally by women, who have as a rule other qualities. That is why the man is naturally the head of the family and home, while the woman is naturally its heart.

But the liberalism which rules the modern world dissolves all sense of objective truth or justice. By so doing it deprives the reason of its object, and of its objective anchor in a reality above and independent of the reasoning subject. Reason being the prerogative of men, liberalism hits the men before it hits the women, whose feminine instincts are not dependent on reason. By the same token liberalism undercuts the authority of men which comes down from conforming to what is above them, ultimately divine Truth and Justice, and it makes all use of authority become arbitrary.

Therefore, young men, in all your dealings with men or women, seek to be true and just, and turn to God for the help necessary to discern truth and justice amidst so much untruth and injustice and arbitrary misuse of authority all around us today. Then act upon what you discern, and you will re-build your manly authority from above, in a world undercutting it from below. In brief, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. VI, 33).

Kyrie eleison.