In this week’s commentary, Acton president and co-founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on Christmas, but also on the things weighing heavily on many hearts. Despite this being a joyful time, we are caught in perilous moment in history due to the meeting of various things: intellectual, financial, militarily, and theologically. President Ronald Reagan gave a similar address in 1981:
Rev. Sirico says:
How to get to the heart of the matter? That, as Shakespeare might say, is the rub. Yet, as a Christian who believes that the redemption of the world was effected by the Incarnation of Christ, I can certainly use the lens of the Incarnation to understand the state of the world and the people in it, even when, indeed, especially when things are perilous. That is what it means to affirm that Christology is anthropology, i.e., that in order to discover man and what his end truly is, one must study Christ, the perfect man.
If we want to go to root of the modern dilemma we need to identify the tendency that balkanizes reality, the principle of division. Think of that for a moment: The Scriptures present a vision of the origin of humanity as one of harmony and peace, serenity, and joy. This pervasive harmony permeated the relation of the transcendent God to the material universe which Genesis says was fashioned by his own hand and pronounced good. There was a union between God and the human family which he fashioned in his own image. Likewise, there was an intimate unity between man and woman, who were made stewards of the whole of creation, which likewise enjoyed an abundant and harmonious existence.
That was the original vision, but a counter and contradictory one entered into the world—a sinister spirit of division, conflict, dissembling. To dissemble is to be dishonest, or to camouflage the truth. It is an attempt to create a new reality juxtaposed to the truth. The primordial Dissembler lied and worked to get others to believe the lie.
What does this excursion into the Biblical account of human origins have to do with the dangerous moment I alluded to at the outset? And how does the Incarnation heal the division?
When we look at the history of ideas we see a relatively modern version of this principle of division in the works of Karl Marx. I know that explicit admissions to Marx’s influence are shunned in these days, but one compelling feature of his thought has morphed into a set of assumptions employed by many, perhaps because it carries for them an explanation for how the world works. This assumption of an intrinsic conflict at the heart of society is at play when unions pit workers against employers, or when feminists pit women against men, or when environmentalists pit the planet against the human beings who live on it and then when they advocate the resolution such class conflicts in more division and conflict.
The point is that lies dissemble and disassemble things. Truth unites and harmonizes.
Read ‘A Dangerous Moment with Promise.’ Merry Christmas!