As you may have heard, Baroness Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, 8 April 2013. She was the last surviving member of what writer Francis Phillips, in her well-written tribute to the Iron Lady, “Thatcher’s role in defeating Communism was her greatest legacy,” referred to as "the remarkable triumvirate," which also included Bl. Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan.
In addition to the passing of Baroness Thatcher, I was also struck this week by an article, “RINOs and CINOs: The Cult of Mammon and the Future of America,” by John Médaille, especially this observation:
Faith is not something optional, as certain liberals would have it; indeed, the claim to be standing on some 'neutral' ground is always bogus, always an attempt to gain an unfair advantage for one’s own faith by claiming it is not a faith at all. What is usually meant by this claim is a naïve and touching faith in something called 'progress,' a progress that advances by crushing or at least marginalizing any competing faith. The great questions of politics will always involve contending faiths, that is to say, contending visions of what constitutes the 'good' for men and society. Nor is this a question that can be settled by some' science,' for it lies completely outside the domain of empirical science and depends on sciences of a different orderI think this captures the pragmatic urge of many people, especially in Great Britain and the U.S., where we tend to be less explicitly ideological than in other parts of the world, which naïveté, especially when mixed an emotional appeal, only makes us more vulnerable. I think we can call this inadvertent ontological arrogance.
Before I go too far down the path I am heading, I feel I need to state that for there are many people who do not believe in God because they are unable to do so in good conscience. Such people are not militant atheists and probably describe themselves as agnostic when it comes to the proposition “God exists.” These people do not devalue or mock religious belief. There are many people who fit this description who recognize the contribution of Christianity to human civilization and its on-going importance. One example of such a person is the late Oriana Fallaci. These are people who support genuinely human values, the “men and women of good will” often mentioned by the Church's magisterium. However, there are militant atheists, who, with a straight face, see religion as a threat, but whose logic, when played out in history, has proven to be responsible for the worst horrors in human history and a death toll that exceeds all the horrors they rail against put together. It is even more sobering when one considers that the huge death toll was managed in one century, the twentieth, which was described by Pope John Paul II as “a century of tears.”
This brings me to something by Peter Hitchens’, “Atheism Kills, Persecutes, and Destroys. Wicked Things are Done in its Name.” I am not going to try to paraphrase his entire piece, but it is a wonderful example of the kind of yeoman’s work he does taking on the atheists of the global village, who are often not well-meaning, philosophically coherent, or historically astute:
The exasperating and yet comically unshakeable conviction... that the assertion of atheism is not a positive statement, that it is a mere passive absence, is directly contradicted by the death-dealing, violently destructive, larcenous and aggressively propagandist application of their own passionate and positive atheism by the Soviet authorities, as soon as they had the power to put their beliefs into action. If atheism is merely an absence, why on earth should it need to do these things to those who did not share its allegedly passive, non-invasive beliefs? And why, I might add, were both the Bolsheviks and the National Socialists so profoundly hostile to the idea of the Christian God (or, as Mr ‘Bunker’ would sniggeringly put it ‘gods’ )?Sadly understanding mischief as a law, instead of understanding the law as a means of building society, which requires some transcendent conception of the human person, has gone beyond imagining and become reality. The reason for this requirement is that it accords with reality, not a conception of reality, but arises from human experience.
Well, because these people, imagining mischief as a law, have set themselves up as their own source of good, and cannot tolerate any rival to their own beliefs, in the minds of men. One thing you can say for them: they understood very well what it was they believed
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oscar Romero, Maria Skobtsova, and the other martyrs, including St. Paul, who posed a threat to the power of the Roman Empire, attest, Jesus Christ is the only true revolutionary in human history. A revolution of love aimed at bringing about the Kingdom of God. In an address he gave at World Youth Day, held in Cologne, Germany in 2005, Benedict XVI told the young people-
only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world.Because there is no love without truth, the Kingdom of God is a place where all lies are dispelled. It is a Kingdom of truth and love, which is why it can also be a place of joy and peace. This brings me to a final piece, Dr. William Oddie's "Some think it ironic that pugnacious Mrs Thatcher should pray for harmony. But she was closer to St Francis than you may think." As Dr. Oddie also notes, that her contribution to ending the evil Soviet empire "was acknowledged again yesterday by Lech Walesa, who described her (not for the first time) as 'a great person.'"
In the last century we experienced revolutions with a common program - expecting nothing more from God, they assumed total responsibility for the cause of the world in order to change it. And this, as we saw, meant a human and partial point of view was always taken as an absolute guiding principle. Absolutizing what is not absolute but relative is called totalitarianism. It does not liberate man, but takes away his dignity and enslaves him.
It is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true. True revolution consists in simply turning to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love. And what could ever save us apart from love?