Saturday, July 12, 2008
Heroes, Anti-Heroes, Nihilism & Hope
A yearning for heroes, for courage, for chivalry ... in an age of anti-heroes. We may not believe these virtues are possible anymore, having been thoroughly disillusioned by what Paul Ricoeur called the hermeneutics of suspicion, as well as our own relativist and downward spiraling of behavior toward one another.
Collectively, Europe has felt this despair since World War I. It took the United States till the sacrificial preparation and frenzy of the 1960's - Vietnam, the Nixon White House, Woodstock, the prestigious human sacrifices of JFK, MLK, Jr., RFK - to catch up in the despair department.
But now we're in a new century. Is the human race more hopeful? Hardly. Now in the neo-pagan West we're busy about the transvaluation of all values, setting marriage, family, sexuality, animal rights, etc. on their ears in weirdly merry efforts to make nihilism into normalcy.
Girard, of course, pegged this as "the crisis of distinctions" in his social and psychological taxonomy of the primitive sacred. Those kicking away prohibitions and taboos are as pleased as rain forest cultural throwbacks at first seeing their reflections in a hand mirror, cooing and grimacing at their false self seen staring back at them in pagan worship of concupiscent desires.
We may not believe virtue can any longer exist, but we wish it did. Maybe now is the time for the Prodigal Son (Lk 15) of western civilization to "come to himself." Maybe it is time for those wallowing in hog slop to look up and recall that the Catholic faith teaches that there is a solution to our despair, our mortality, our sin. It recognizes our fallen state in Original Sin, our need for a Savior, the grace of God in providing a Savior - Jesus Christ the Lord, and the grace can provide us to live again in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
Signs exist that we long for, yearn for something far greater than neo-pagan, nihilistic gutter life. The question is, will the West find what created and made Christendom great before we either fall into final cultural collapse or succumb to the Scimitar's sharia?