Spirituality for Today – June 2010 – Volume 14, Issue 11

The Greatest Superstition

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

In many ways, the United States tends to follow Western Europe like a little boy following his big brother. There is nothing inherently disturbing about that trend except in the area of practicing the Christian faith. Throughout much of the European continent, Christianity has been battered and beaten. Concomitant with this fact, the moral character of many of the member nations' political creeds has diminished the value of human life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable. The situation, however, is not completely bleak. Faith does survive and is hale and hardy in many areas. The Muslim population (excluding the radical element) and that of other faiths enhance the degree of spiritual influence. But, for the time being, atheistic secularism has great influence.

A map showing Western EuropeWestern Europe

If history holds true, believers in America will pay heed to the events in Western Europe. Although, I must admit that the reason for such an inclination escapes me. One accurately may state that the situation across the Atlantic is not a recent phenomenon and still faith in the United States is vibrant and dominant. Yet, the proselytizing of an anti-God agenda is increasing and its influence on both public and private institutions is becoming more evident. Judeo-Christian morality maintains a degree of compatibility with the secular dogma regarding the general benefits of peace, order, justice, and the opposition to violence and brutality. There is a break, however, in this conviviality when encountering the secular notion of the supremacy of self and the Judeo-Christian mandate of love for God and neighbor. This perturbation hardly is quieted by the public rants of some truly ungodly preachers representing some fringe "religious" groups and by the dismayingly persistent scandals within main-line churches. While the vast majority of the faithful see through the sins of human nature to the deposit of divine truth, yet I fear that in the upcoming years in this fair land, the battle line will be drawn between belief and unbelief.

Inpatient for heaven, numerous individuals throughout the ages have attempted to structure and implement various styles of secular utopias. These efforts have ended in ruin. Any system that negates the spiritual in human nature and depends on the righteousness of what remains is doomed to failure. Someone once said, "When the supernatural is taken out of the natural, what is left is the unnatural." When God is replaced by the ego and the primary moral force becomes politics, the resulting societal tug-of-war leads to the coercive unity of the totalitarian state. Recent Western history has rolled out examples of new world orders such as Communism, Fascism, and Nazism featuring atheism as an essential part of their political and social paradigms. Despite the horrors visited upon the world by these parties, many have yet to learn the lessons of human depravity and wickedness wrought by their existence. These political entities have spawned numerous "children" among the nations of the world today. There are those who would assert that copious amounts of blood have been shed by groups and nations in the name of religion. Ruling out the fanatics who adopt religion as the stage upon which they exercise their fanaticism, I would opine that more pedestrian motivations such as the acquisition of power and wealth were at the root of these "religious" wars. Certainly, the teachings of Jesus Christ would not sanction such aggression. Even in those conflicts where the impetus is either self-defense or a truly just cause, God must weep at the failure of his children to find peaceful means to settle disputes.

In the last analysis, the existence of God is not a matter of human affirmation or negation. The issue is whether or not the individual person has opened his or her heart to the presence of the sacred. Or at least, a person grasps a moral sense that influences him or her to choose a manner of living that exhibits the qualities of God's love. If a person is thoughtful, I think it rare that he or she could not recognize a fundamental longing that only God can satisfy. I am reminded of a lyric from the song I Am I Said by Neil Diamond: "But I got an emptiness deep inside, And I tried but it won't let me go." The desire, indeed, the demand for human life to have a meaning, a purpose, and a destiny beyond mere existence is at the root of one's being.

Faith is a gift that raises the human being beyond the limits of reason. Faith is that grace that allows one to appreciate the hints of God's presence in creation and, especially, in the authentically loving acts of human beings. Faith is that stronghold that defends the individual from falling prey to that greatest of superstitions – that man is God.