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Erosion and Hope

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

I hated Geography at school. I hated it because it tried to be both rigorous and uncertain and often just dull for being neither one nor the other. All the measurements were statistical and general trends were taken to laws. To be honest, I think different teachers and different teaching methods would have helped. As a former teacher, I have to accept that my method for teaching mathematics would not have brought the best out in every single student I have taught. These days, it is an expectation of teachers not just to do our best, but to do the best that can be done anywhere.

That is an unreasonable and silly demand, but leaders in education who have to reduce everything to soundbites in order to do justice to the smallness of their thinking and laziness in building an education community embrace this shoddy idea and force it down the throats of the simple educator. A school motto, appropriately chosen, can certainly inspire; however, this needs to be done with care. My school motto was appropriately Benedictine: ora et labora – Pray and work! This is reasonable, sets the tone and gives each person, teacher and pupil alike, a guiding principle. Something like “The best that can be done anywhere” is unreasonable because it is nebulous, fosters unnecessary competition to constructive collaboration with others, and ultimately promotes a fear of failure. Such a soundbite erodes confidence.

And that is something I did learn about in Geography in (I think) the second form. Erosion is something that occurs via seemingly innocuous means. It is said that the Little Bird of Svíþjóð sharpens its beak on a rock every thousand years and, on the first day of Eternity, the rock will have been worn away. Of course, Eternity is Timeless, but one can see the principle of erosion at work. Over time (possibly centuries, millennia or aeons) little repetitive actions leave an appreciable and indelible mark. Erosion is a sure and certain way of getting rid of rocks. And it is the Devil’s way of trying to get rid of The Rock.

It doesn’t take much looking at the state of the Church and Christian belief in general to see how this erosion is working. On all sides, the Devil is playing the long game by exploiting human nature and, indeed, the transience of human beings to bring down the Rock of Our Salvation and render it of none effect.

Erosion always happens at the cliff face where it is exposed to the elements. Evil is an absence of Good, and the cliff-face between the two exists actually within the rational soul because the rational soul has the free choice between good and evil even if that choice is influenced and affected by ambient good and evil. We are born in sin but not born sinners. Our human nature, while good in itself being creatures of God, is eroded by sin. Were each one of us totally evil, totally lacking in any good, there would be nothing to save. If the human will is so corrupt, why is it to be saved? Why does our Lord adopt a human will as well, if not to transform that as well?

Yet, our flesh is corrupted by Evil which has got in through the fracture caused by the First Sin, and none of us can escape that. It is because Evil has the capacity to erode us, eat us away, that we require Salvation. Our Lady may have been sinless, but she still needed to be saved from this erosive Evil as much as any of us. Death and sin come hand in hand. Even if we don’t sin, the presence of sin around us is lethal. That’s why we all need salvation and why it is easier to save the sinless (in particularly the unborn) than the sinner.

There are several different types of erosion, for example attrition, hydraulic, abrasion, and dissolution. The little bird of Svíþjóð works his erosion by abrasion; acid rain dissolves the White Cliffs of Dover; the chain gang breaks rocks through attrition; the sheer power of water can burst a dam at speed, or slowly fracture a rock by freeze-thaw action. And the Devil uses all of these to try and break the Church.

The sheer inhuman actions of human beings to others is enough to batter people’s faith that they leave the Church. We can see this most clearly in the recent actions and covers-up of paedophile priests. Their actions tar the whole priesthood in the eyes of others, and the fall from the faith convinced that the evil of one means that the whole institution is evil. Sometimes it is hard to see round this war of attrition. The only antidotes are Justice and Mercy. Every action of every human being can be forgiven save that sin against the Holy Ghost. We have to dare to forgive and we have to dare to confess in order to be forgiven. Given the sheer magnitude of some human actions it is easy to see why this is hard and looks to be impossible.

The actions of the secular world abrade the morality of Christians. Tu Quoque arguments are often powerful when they pit the majority against the minority. Christians know that sexual activity outside marriage is sinful and yet it seems to become acceptable because the people who warn against it are in an ever decreasing number. Little wonder that this also leads to a form of freeze-thaw action within the Church whereby what is socially acceptable enters into the Church and slowly forces a split through a series of amendments to canons and practices. We see Christian poetry replacing readings at the Eucharist. Once that has established, Christian poetry is replaced with secular poetry; secular poetry with poetry from different faiths (just to be inclusive); poetry from different faiths with readings from the Q’ran. Slippery slope arguments aren’t always the best arguments but can become so when there is evidence that the slope is indeed slippery in the first place. Once Christian morals have been eroded by abrasion from the outside and eroded by sheer hydraulic action of the waters of chaos from the inside, the structure becomes less believable. The antidote is to reject the authority of the secular world over the doctrine of the Church. The trouble is that the doctrine of the Church is under the same erosion because the whole idea of objective truth is being eroded by the same abrasion and hydraulic action.

Finally, the Rock suffers from dissolution through the direct hatred of people who see it as a force of regression and oppression and fail to see that it is they who are under the subjugation of evil. The pernicious cultural Marxism (which does exist as a thing and is happening throughout every sphere of life) is particularly acidic as its adherents claim the moral high ground without basis and use their might to attack the church through secular means. In the West, this is done through the law courts. Their aim is to dissolve the Church through depriving it of the resources to keep it going. This includes the media through which the Church can broadcast its message. The Social Justice Warriors both within and without the Church brand those of us who adhere to the Traditional Catholic Faith as bigots, misogynsts, homophobic, transphobic et c, because these words (though fantastically misapplied and abused) are convenient. Once they can label the Church with these negative aspects, they can draw the supports away hoping the edifice will collapse.

We need to recognise this erosion carefully. It has already resulted in fractures within the Church, though my confraternity in the other Continuing Anglican jurisdictions are bucking this trend. We cannot let the caustic nature of SJWs, the moral relativity of Society, the deluded liberal element within the Church, and the scale of human depravity pull us away from the loving arms of our Crucified God.

What is the Church to do in amidst uncertainty?

God has given us a remedy for uncertainty at every level. It is called Hope.

Christian Hope is real and it allows us to cling on to God in the raging tempest. Hope is the mechanism by which we can find certainty within uncertainty. Even when Truth itself is being threatened we hold tight to what we know to be true even if the proof of it escapes us for the moment. That proof and evidence will come because God is faithful. We trust God because He is not an abstract proposition but the Supreme Rational Being and who develops a relationship with His Church at the level of the person as well as the level of the Whole.

There is one incontrovertible fact, no matter how hard the Devil tries, He cannot obliterate Good, because he cannot obliterate God. The best he can do is to try and erode the Good out of God’s creation, but even there he fails because every thing that God has created exists and derives the very fact of existence from God. In that the Devil is a creature of God shows the goodness of God and that is why the Devil is so lunatic because he seeks to rip the goodness of his existence from himself. Such is his hatred of God that he would rather burn in Hell than find Eternal bliss. It’s utterly incredible that one would choose this path, but it’s true that not even the Devil can escape the love of God. That’s why Hell burns: it burns with the fury of souls that want to possess their own good rather than the good that is given to them as a gift from the love of God.

Goodness cannot be destroyed. It can be eroded and leached from creatures, but while that creature exists, there is good in it. This is why the priest offers the Chalice of Salvation for His own benefit, for those present and for the WHOLE World. The sting of Erosion is based on the Lie that it is possible for all Goodness to be taken away from creation. Even in the most corrupt human organisation lies the dignity of being human in the first place, lives so precious that God seeks their preservation and salvation at the cost of His Son.

Yes, there are priests and bishops (and deacons) who have abused their position for their own despicable pleasure, but there are so many clergy who do not. And even those abusers can be forgiven, though Justice dictates that there must be an appropriately severe penalty in order for reconciliation to occur.

It’s easy to worry about Erosion that is taking place in our Society. It is truly overwhelming and it seems that there is such little that can be done. But, as I say, the Christian mechanism to deal with states of uncertainty is Hope. Believe me, if your faith is being tested hold firm to God even if He seems unlikely. The erosive forces of evil are deliberately targeting you to get you to give up. Pray hard, and trust even if it seems laughable to do so. Recite the Creeds – all three of them – and hear the Church speak through the centuries bearing witness to the reality of God. Seek out righteousness in your life and stick with it even if you fall: God’s forgiveness is a reality and total, His mercy endures forever! And He wants you to endure forever too! Stick with it: you are NOT totally depraved.

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