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Friday, September 3, 2010

Living the Faith on a High Wire...

A month ago, I started writing this faith blog, which I named, Living the Faith on a High Wire but I never explained why.

The imagery actually comes, believe it or not, from a 19th Century Atheist German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who among others, is said to have influenced Adolf Hitler.

Nietzsche used the high wire image in a metaphor, where he describes Christianity as a man walking on a high wire. During his story, a clown appears and jumps on the high wire, making the man lose his balance and shudder in fear. The clown continues teasing and challenging the man until he falls and dies. Nietzsche used the metaphor to demonstrate the uncertainty of those who believe in God and that in the end, we would realize, He doesn’t exist. Nietzsche became famous for proclaiming the “death" of God. (Let’s put aside that fact that Nietzsche had a mental break down and died in an insane asylum.)

While disagreeing with his conclusion, I do see an interesting truth in Nietzsche’s metaphor. Today’s Christian walk of faith is much like that of a man walking on high wire, in a society determined to make us lose our balance and fall; thus the high wire concept for the blog was born.

But, as I thought of what I could contribute to a “faith” blog, I realized that I’m not a theologian. I’m not an expert, or scholar, or clergy or have a Master’s Degree in philosophy. All I am is a lay Catholic, with an interest in learning and living the faith to the best of my ability.

That is what this blog will be mostly about. I will write about my own struggles, perspective, observations and attempts at living the faith as a husband, father, son, brother and Christian that, while born into the Catholic faith, didn’t really know what that meant until slightly over four years ago. Since then, I have been passionately and devotedly studying, learning and, with God’s help, growing in faith.

Though still a novice, I like to think of myself as a student of the Church; its teachings, its defense, its logic, its history and its beauty.

So, my attempt at living the faith will serve as a big part of what this blog will address.

As I mentioned before, living the faith in today’s society is not easy and requires a great deal of equilibrium to keep from falling flat on our face.

God-fearing people of faith are often marginalized and maligned by a, more and more, secular and, at times, outright anti-Judeo-Christian culture. All you have to do is turn on the TV, go to a movie, or pick up a newspaper and you will hear and read blatant attacks on Christianity, religion and God.

Other multi-media sources, in a more subtle, but just as damaging way, attempt to be “politically correct” and inoffensive to the point where Truth is diluted to the point of confusion. As a result, many believers have lost perspective on what is true and even what truth IS.

So, God and organized religion, with claims of an “Absolute Truth”, is shunned, sneered at and kept at a distance. Instead of a unifying source of hope and love, God is often portrayed as a dividing force, a taboo topic to avoid and easily ridicule.

The separation of God from society begins with our children. Prayer, and anything associated with God, which was part of the American fabric until the early 1960's, has been rooted out from public schools. In its stead, kids learn a non-religious worldview, where God has nothing to do with reality and only science and materialism matter.

In doing this, our children learn a skewed perspective of humanity. They learn about the physical world but not the spiritual; the body but not the soul, which, according to those of us who believe, is what separates us from animals. If you think about it, in public schools, our kids are learning basic atheist doctrine since they are taught that humanity is nothing more than evolved animals.

Meanwhile, pop-culture icons and celebrities on TV, movies and the music industry continuously take pot shots and mock sacred symbols, God and religion; showing a special disdain for the Catholic Church, the largest Christian institution, with over 1 billion faithful around the world. Is it a wonder why many kids stop practicing their faith by the time they get to high school?

And, schools are not the only place where God has been removed from society. Anti-religious groups file lawsuits to remove a cross in the desert, prayer from military services, the Ten Commandments from courthouses, references to God in our currency and any part of public life in the name of “freedom”.

In the meantime, while God is being extricated from American society, the family is suffering a slow and painful death with divorce rate surpassing 50%, including among Christians. As marriages dissolve, the family is being redefined and left vulnerable to the influences of society.

Pope John Paul II once wrote, "As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live”.

Still some wonder why morality, commitment, and faith have deteriorated and our children are growing up in a materialistic, self-centered and hardened world. Self-restraint, love, and sacrifice, virtues which made this country what it is today, have given way to self-pleasure, indifference and selfishness and the almighty dollar has gained more relevance then the Almighty God.

So those of us who openly profess, live, and defend our faith are sometimes labeled "religious fanatics" and walk on a spiritual high wire; balancing what society accepts and promotes as normal behavior with what Judeo-Christian morality and ethics accept and teach. Living the faith today is often counter-cultural and leaves one open to criticism and scorn.

One of the greatest Christian writers and philosophers in modern times, G.K. Chesterton, once wrote, “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

This blog will attempt to go against the stream. While my perspective will be aligned with Catholic teachings, I hope people of good will and other faith backgrounds can identify with the issues and struggles that I face and can appreciate my observations, perspective, and comments. Aside from my thoughts, I will also use links to writings, videos and other sources that may be of interest.

In God’s Glory, let’s proceed…

[photo credit]

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