Peapiiskop Chaput lääne ühiskonna kultuurilisest olukorrast ja suundumustest

Denveri peapiiskop Charles J. Chaput pidas mõne aja eest Slovakkias väga sisuka ettekande, milles ta analüüsis süviti lääne kultuuri hetkeolukorda ja selle suundumusi. Soovitan soojalt võtta aega, et see tekst läbi lugeda. Autor räägib asjadest, mille teadvustamine on ennekõike kristlastele ülehindamatult oluline. Toon tekstist välja mõned olulised momendid.

Esiteks sedastab peapiiskop Chaput, et täna lääne ühiskonnas prevaleeriv materialistlik-ateistlik (peenema nimetusega sekularistlik) ideoloogia on olemuslikult samane 20. sajandi “mõrvarideoloogiatega” — erinev on vaid selle avaldumise vorm:

Today, in an era of global interconnection, the challenges that confront Catholics in America are much the same as in Europe: We face an aggressively secular political vision and a consumerist economic model that result — in practice, if not in explicit intent — in a new kind of state-encouraged atheism.

To put it another way: The Enlightenment-derived worldview that gave rise to the great murder ideologies of the last century remains very much alive. Its language is softer, its intentions seem kinder, and its face is friendlier. But its underlying impulse hasn’t changed — i.e., the dream of building a society apart from God; a world where men and women might live wholly sufficient unto themselves, satisfying their needs and desires through their own ingenuity.

This vision presumes a frankly “post-Christian” world ruled by rationality, technology and good social engineering. Religion has a place in this worldview, but only as an individual lifestyle accessory. People are free to worship and believe whatever they want, so long as they keep their beliefs to themselves and do not presume to intrude their religious idiosyncrasies on the workings of government, the economy, or culture.

Autor jätkab selgitades, et täna avaldub see ideoloogia palju peenemas vormis, mistõttu on selle inimvaenulikku olemust märksa keerulisem märgata:

Today’s secularizers have learned from the past. They are more adroit in their bigotry; more elegant in their public relations; more intelligent in their work to exclude the Church and individual believers from influencing the moral life of society. Over the next several decades, Christianity will become a faith that can speak in the public square less and less freely. A society where faith is prevented from vigorous public expression is a society that has fashioned the state into an idol. And when the state becomes an idol, men and women become the sacrificial offering.

Cardinal Henri de Lubac once wrote that “It is not true … that man cannot organize the world without God. What is true, is that without God, [man] can ultimately only organize it against man. Exclusive humanism is inhuman humanism.”

The West is now steadily moving in the direction of that new “inhuman humanism.” And if the Church is to respond faithfully, we need to draw upon the lessons that your Churches learned under totalitarianism.

Mida peaks kristlased tegema, et sellele inimvaenulikule ideoloogiale vastu seista? Vastust näeb peapiiskop Chaput usu taastamises tõesse ja selle usu realiseerimises tegudes:

A Catholicism of resistance must be based on trust in Christ’s words: “The truth will make you free.” This trust gave you insight into the nature of totalitarian regimes. It helped you articulate new ways of discipleship. Rereading the words of the Czech leader Václav Havel to prepare for this talk, I was struck by the profound Christian humanism of his idea of “living within the truth.” Catholics today need to see their discipleship and mission as precisely that: “living within the truth.”

Living within the truth means living according to Jesus Christ and God’s Word in Sacred Scripture. It means proclaiming the truth of the Christian Gospel, not only by our words but by our example. It means living every day and every moment from the unshakeable conviction that God lives, and that his love is the motive force of human history and the engine of every authentic human life. It means believing that the truths of the Creed are worth suffering and dying for.

Living within the truth also means telling the truth and calling things by their right names. And that means exposing the lies by which some men try to force others to live.

Suur osa valest, mis vajab paljastamist, seisneb lääne tsivilisatsiooni portreteerimises moel, nagu sel ei oleks kristlusega kuigivõrd pistmist:

Two of the biggest lies in the world today are these: first, that Christianity was of relatively minor importance in the development of the West; and second, that Western values and institutions can be sustained without a grounding in Christian moral principles. Before I talk about these two falsehoods, we should pause a moment to think about the meaning of history.

History is not simply about learning facts. History is a form of memory, and memory is a foundation stone of self-identity. Facts are useless without a context of meaning. The unique genius and meaning of Western civilization cannot be understood without the 20 centuries of Christian context in which they developed. A people who do not know their history, do not know themselves. They are a people doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past because they cannot see what the present — which always flowers out of the past — requires of them.

People who forget who they are can be much more easily manipulated. This was dramatized famously in Orwell’s image of the “memory hole” in his novel 1984. Today, the history of the Church and the legacy of Western Christianity are being pushed down the memory hole. This is the first lie that we need to face.

Downplaying the West’s Christian past is sometimes done with the best intentions, from a desire to promote peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic society. But more frequently it’s done to marginalize Christians and to neutralize the Church’s public witness.

The Church needs to name and fight this lie. To be a European or an American is to be heir to a profound Christian synthesis of Greek philosophy and art, Roman law, and biblical truth. This synthesis gave rise to the Christian humanism that undergirds all of Western civilization.

On this point, we might remember the German Lutheran scholar and pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He wrote these words in the months leading up to his arrest by the Gestapo in 1943: “The unity of the West is not an idea but a historical reality, of which the sole foundation is Christ.”

Our societies in the West are Christian by birth, and their survival depends on the endurance of Christian values. Our core principles and political institutions are based, in large measure, on the morality of the Gospel and the Christian vision of man and government. We are talking here not only about Christian theology or religious ideas. We are talking about the moorings of our societies — representative government and the separation of powers; freedom of religion and conscience; and most importantly, the dignity of the human person.

This truth about the essential unity of the West has a corollary, as Bonhoeffer also observed: Take away Christ and you remove the only reliable foundation for our values, institutions and way of life.

That means we cannot dispense with our history out of some superficial concern over offending our non-Christian neighbors. Notwithstanding the chatter of the “new atheists” there is no risk that Christianity will ever be forced upon people anywhere in the West. The only “confessional states” in the world today are those ruled by Islamist or atheist dictatorships — regimes that have rejected the Christian West’s belief in individual rights and the balance of powers.

I would argue that the defense of Western ideals is the only protection that we and our neighbors have against a descent into new forms of repression — whether it might be at the hands of extremist Islam or secularist technocrats.

Peapiiskop Chaput selgitab, et ehk kõige suurem ja lammutavam vale, mida meie ühiskonnas kõikvõimalike pseudo-intellektuaalide poolt suure innuga propageeritakse, on seisukoht, et tõde ei eksisteeri (seda seisukohta peetakse selle väljendajate poolt muidugi tõeseks):

But indifference to our Christian past contributes to indifference about defending our values and institutions in the present. And this brings me to the second big lie by which we live today — the lie that there is no unchanging truth.

Relativism is now the civil religion and public philosophy of the West. Again, the arguments made for this viewpoint can seem persuasive. Given the pluralism of the modern world, it might seem to make sense that society should want to affirm that no one individual or group has a monopoly on truth; that what one person considers to be good and desirable another may not; and that all cultures and religions should be respected as equally valid.

In practice, however, we see that without a belief in fixed moral principles and transcendent truths, our political institutions and language become instruments in the service of a new barbarism. In the name of tolerance we come to tolerate the cruelest intolerance; respect for other cultures comes to dictate disparagement of our own; the teaching of “live and let live” justifies the strong living at the expense of the weak.

Et relativismil on rasked praktilised tagajärjed, nähtub selgesti abordi-probleemist. Samuti nähtub sellest, millises suunas liigub ühiskond, mis on aktsepteerinud oma kõige nõrgemate liikmete tapmise tugevamate liikmete seadusliku valikuna:

This diagnosis helps us understand one of the foundational injustices in the West today — the crime of abortion.

I realize that the abortion license is a matter of current law in almost every nation in the West. In some cases, this license reflects the will of the majority and is enforced through legal and democratic means. And I’m aware that many people, even in the Church, find it strange that we Catholics in America still make the sanctity of unborn life so central to our public witness.

Let me tell you why I believe abortion is the crucial issue of our age.

First, because abortion, too, is about living within the truth. The right to life is the foundation of every other human right. If that right is not inviolate, then no right can be guaranteed.

Or to put it more bluntly: Homicide is homicide, no matter how small the victim.

Here’s another truth that many persons in the Church have not yet fully reckoned: The defense of newborn and preborn life has been a central element of Catholic identity since the Apostolic Age.

I’ll say that again: From the earliest days of the Church, to be Catholic has meant refusing in any way to participate in the crime of abortion — either by seeking an abortion, performing one, or making this crime possible through actions or inactions in the political or judicial realm. More than that, being Catholic has meant crying out against all that offends the sanctity and dignity of life as it has been revealed by Jesus Christ.

The evidence can be found in the earliest documents of Church history. In our day — when the sanctity of life is threatened not only by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, but also by embryonic research and eugenic temptations to eliminate the weak, the disabled and the infirm elderly — this aspect of Catholic identity becomes even more vital to our discipleship.

Edasi näitab autor, kuidas abordi õigustamiseks kasutatav poliitiline retoorika viib üha selgemalt ühiskonna korraldamise poole mole, kus see, mis on õige ja mis vale, sõltub vaid nende suvast, kel juhtub olema võim:

My point in mentioning abortion is this: Its widespread acceptance in the West shows us that without a grounding in God or a higher truth, our democratic institutions can very easily become weapons against our own human dignity.

Our most cherished values cannot be defended by reason alone, or simply for their own sake. They have no self-sustaining or “internal” justification.

There is no inherently logical or utilitarian reason why society should respect the rights of the human person. There is even less reason for recognizing the rights of those whose lives impose burdens on others, as is the case with the child in the womb, the terminally ill, or the physically or mentally disabled.

If human rights do not come from God, then they devolve to the arbitrary conventions of men and women. The state exists to defend the rights of man and to promote his flourishing. The state can never be the source of those rights. When the state arrogates to itself that power, even a democracy can become totalitarian.

What is legalized abortion but a form of intimate violence that clothes itself in democracy? The will to power of the strong is given the force of law to kill the weak.

Relativistlikus paradigmas saab sallivuseretoorikast sallimatuse tööriist surumaks maha neid, kes ei nõustu väitega, et tõde pole olemas:

That is where we are heading in the West today. And we’ve been there before. Slovaks and many other Central and Eastern Europeans have lived through it.

I suggested earlier that the Church’s religious liberty is under assault today in ways not seen since the Nazi and Communist eras. I believe we are now in the position to better understand why.

Writing in the 1960s, Richard Weaver, an American scholar and social philosopher, said: “I am absolutely convinced that relativism must eventually lead to a regime of force.”

He was right. There is a kind of “inner logic” that leads relativism to repression.

This explains the paradox of how Western societies can preach tolerance and diversity while aggressively undermining and penalizing Catholic life. The dogma of tolerance cannot tolerate the Church’s belief that some ideas and behaviors should not be tolerated because they dehumanize us. The dogma that all truths are relative cannot allow the thought that some truths might not be.

The Catholic beliefs that most deeply irritate the orthodoxies of the West are those concerning abortion, sexuality and the marriage of man and woman. This is no accident. These Christian beliefs express the truth about human fertility, meaning and destiny.

These truths are subversive in a world that would have us believe that God is not necessary and that human life has no inherent nature or purpose. Thus the Church must be punished because, despite all the sins and weaknesses of her people, she is still the bride of Jesus Christ; still a source of beauty, meaning and hope that refuses to die — and still the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order.

Ja siit jõuab peapiiskop Chaput kokkuvõtteni, et lääne ühiskonna tulevik sõltub paljuski sellest, kas kristlased suudavad täita oma tsiviliseerivat missiiooni või mitte. Tsiteerin pikalt:

Let me sum up what I’ve been saying.

My first point is this: Ideas have consequences. And bad ideas have bad consequences. Today we are living in a world that is under the sway of some very destructive ideas, the worst being that men and women can live as if God does not matter and as if the Son of God never walked this earth. As a result of these bad ideas, the Church’s freedom to exercise her mission is under attack. We need to understand why that is, and we need to do something about it.

My second point is simply this: We can no longer afford to treat the debate over secularization — which really means cauterizing Christianity out of our cultural memory — as if it’s a problem for Church professionals. The emergence of a “new Europe” and a “next America” rooted in something other than the real facts of our Christian-shaped history will have damaging consequences for every serious believer.

We need not and should not abandon the hard work of honest dialogue. Far from it. The Church always needs to seek friendships, areas of agreement, and ways to make positive, reasoned arguments in the public square. But it’s foolish to expect gratitude or even respect from our governing and cultural leadership classes today. Naïve imprudence is not an evangelical virtue.

The temptation in every age of the Church is to try to get along with Caesar. And it’s very true: Scripture tells us to respect and pray for our leaders. We need to have a healthy love for the countries we call home. But we can never render unto Caesar what belongs to God. We need to obey God first; the obligations of political authority always come second. We cannot collaborate with evil without gradually becoming evil ourselves. This is one of the most vividly harsh lessons of the 20th century. And it’s a lesson that I hope we have learned.

That brings me to my third and final point today: We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates.

Mida tähendab see meist igaühe jaoks? Mida peavad kristlased tegema?

My first suggestion comes again from the great witness against the paganism of the Third Reich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The renewal of the Western world lies solely in the divine renewal of the Church, which leads her to the fellowship of the risen and living Jesus Christ.”

The world urgently needs a re-awakening of the Church in our actions and in our public and private witness. The world needs each of us to come to a deeper experience of our Risen Lord in the company of our fellow believers. The renewal of the West depends overwhelmingly on our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and his Church.

We need to really believe what we say we believe. Then we need to prove it by the witness of our lives. We need to be so convinced of the truths of the Creed that we are on fire to live by these truths, to love by these truths, and to defend these truths, even to the point of our own discomfort and suffering.

We are ambassadors of the living God to a world that is on the verge of forgetting him. Our work is to make God real; to be the face of his love; to propose once more to the men and women of our day, the dialogue of salvation.

The lesson of the 20th century is that there is no cheap grace. This God whom we believe in, this God who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to suffer and die for it, demands that we live the same bold, sacrificial pattern of life shown to us by Jesus Christ.

The form of the Church, and the form of every Christian life, is the form of the cross. Our lives must become a liturgy, a self-offering that embodies the love of God and the renewal of the world.

Küll oleks hea kuulda ka Eesti kristlike kogukondade juhte avalikult rääkimas kaasaja probleemidest sellise julguse, aususe ja selgusega ning kutsumas kristlasi üles oma missiooni täitma ja kogu ühiskonda oma suundumuste üle juurdlema. Kuid nagu juba tsiteeritud, on Kiriku esindajatel alati suur — ja tihti vastupandamatult suur — kiusatus Caesarile meele järgi olla.

Kahjuks saavad Kiriku hääle vaikimisel ühiskonnas paratamatult olema kurvad tagajärjed. Ühiskonna kriis ei leia aset mitte Kiriku tegevusest hoolimata, vaid paljuski just Kiriku lõhestatuse ja tema esindajate tegevusetuse tõttu. Peaksime ise meeles pidama ja kristlike kogukondade juhtidele meelde tuletama peapiiskop Chaputi sõnu, et esmalt tuleb teenida Jumalat ja alles siis Caesarit ning et “me ei saa teha kurjusega koostööd ilma muutumata ise osaks kurjusest.”

One Response to Peapiiskop Chaput lääne ühiskonna kultuurilisest olukorrast ja suundumustest

  1. Dexter says:

    Jumalaga on nii Idas kui ka Läänes probleemid, sest mõlemad taantatakse usult religioonile. Kallutatakse tekstid, jutud ja muu tegevus psühholoogiliselt või sisu ja vormiga arutelulikult ad homenie-likult ära. Ainus vahe ida ja lääne vahel on peitmise põhjalikus.
    Mis puutub kiriku õpetustesse ja kiriku või kõrvalteemadesse nagu ideoloogi, riik ehk institutsioonid ning meedia on sarnased oma levikult kultuurile ja võimult ajuvabad kui elu – pole võimsamat olekut kui eksistents siin hetkel.
    Kas ei võiks lihtsalt lõpetada kogu loodud konteptsiooni ja ajaloo kummardamise, ükskõik millise nurga alt?

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