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Commentaries and observations about the conflicting moral beliefs and psychological issues facing our culture.
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2 February 2023
An Elder Ponders What Shall Not Perish
We all have something - or someone - of incalculable value in our lives. For some people, it’s a treasured object, a Maserati, for example, or a glittering Rolex or other emblems of caste and class.
These folks are usually driven by a more-than-ample ego which delights in symbols of affluence, often at the expense of traditional family life and the invaluable lessons which family imparts about the subtleties and nuances of giving oneself thoughtfully to others.
On the other hand, some people hold family at the center of their hearts and hopes. They learn to gratefully revere their core relationships, especially the traditional family, as irreplaceable treasures.
For these folks, the lessons and insights which they learn in the family become life’s cornerstones, the center of their identity, the origin of their character and values - for them, for those who love them, and for those they learn to love in years ahead.
To Destroy Family
History teaches us that the traditional family is our God-given core of stable community life and is, in fact, the historic foundation of cultures in which family values are honored and defended.
Today, many forces in America vigorously attack traditional family as a “male-dominated, white supremacist tool of oppression through the racist rigidity of Christianity’s intolerant moral codes.”
Efforts to destroy traditional family are common among groups such as Black Lives Matter and supporters of Sophie Lewis’s ideas, explained in her book "Abolish the Family." There, Ms. Lewis depicts traditional family as "a terrible way to satisfy all of our desires for love, care and nourishment."
Marxists, Progressive militants, Socialist ideologues and a host of ill-advised followers attack traditional family as capitalism’s dastardly sexist instrument which victimizes bourgeois classes who seek “inclusion” and “equity” and the right to kill unwanted babies as “liberation from forced pregnancy.” Traditional family values are, they say, capitalism’s technique to maintain power over private property, to limit “genderized” freedoms, to perpetuate rigid Christian morality, and so forth, ad nauseum.
To our nation’s detriment, we have only to look at some schools and corporations, some elected officials, professional associations and far too many “Woke” clergy to realize that the spiritual and cultural traditions of our Judeo-Christian heritage (centered around traditional family) are being annihilated with stunning effectiveness.
These are some reasons why I am concerned about the future of our nation and (much closer to my heart) about the intellectual and spiritual welfare of my grandchildren – and yours.
Children At Risk
My days as doting grandparent are long passed, but I frequently think of my grandchildren – two very bright college Freshman. I often recall, with nostalgic relish, the blessed days, two decades ago, when my Beloved wife and I would babysit them, feed them, play with them, and find ourselves happily immersed in enthralling moments of sheer delight amid the inescapable aura of childhood’s innocence . . . loving them all the while, simply for the pure sake of loving them.
Thus, I am ever so aware that countless intellectual and spiritual pitfalls exist in our culture. We’re daily exposed to rancid philosophies and corrupting ideas which seduce even some adults who know better (or certainly should). My grandchildren - and yours - inevitably encounter absurd ideas as they proceed into young adulthood and seek the gifts of maturity and discerning insight.
So, I pray my grandchildren - and yours - will safely traverse that period of life from the vulnerability of youth to the blessings of Wisdom, with its transcendent gifts of clarity of mind and will, well-reasoned thoughts and deeds, sincere heart and principled soul.
I have great hopes for them both, great faith in their ability to meet the relentless challenges of a morally imploding culture, which we elders never had to face.
What specific hopes do I hold for my grandchildren? Let me express my hopes and prayers for them – and yours, too.
To Hope Is To Live
Above all, I hope my grandchildren will find God’s peace in their lives and in themselves. I hope they will recognize the enormity of the gifts of life and Creation, and realize their best response is gratitude and a humbled sense of “Deo gratias” (“Thank you, God”) in the face of such astonishing goodness.
Certainly, life takes its toll on us all, but we always - always - have redemptive options and hopeful choices before us. So, as my grandchildren move through the decades ahead, they’ll encounter the costly lessons which Wisdom requires, but they will also have the choice to find the transcendent path.
Along that path, they will inevitably face five fundamental realities:
- ) the perishable nature of “things,” including our years upon this Earth and the uselessness of denial and subterfuge;
- ) the nagging burdens of vanity, excessive pride and the temptations to which flesh is heir;
- ) the obvious, yet soul-moving, value of true love, especially Christo-centric love incarnated in Him Who chose death as proof and promise of His fidelity to our fallen, yet ever-hopeful humanity;
- ) the necessity of giving one’s love to other persons not in flighty, shallow fashion, but always through virtues such as kindness and patience, empathy and self-restraint, moderated by prudence and humility and the readiness to face the truth about oneself;
- ) the ability to give love responsibly and receive the love of others, and not be overwhelmed by their own needs and urges; needs and urges which God’s love redeems if we ask.
My hopes may seem a tall order to some, but it is the path to which they are called . . . the path to which we are all called. The “secret” is, of course, to choose that path willingly and gratefully, knowing that every other path leads only to wonderment frustrated and, eventually, hope unfulfilled.
To Live Rightly Is To Love Responsibly
Our culture is filled with skewed, distorted notions of what love is, so I hope they will realize that true love - true love - is not simply an emotional experience, not simply a short-term “feeling” nor justification for consensual sex, as our pop culture endlessly preaches and shamelessly prompts.
Yes, love’s first flush is always emotional, often powerfully sexual, especially for the young and inexperienced - which is in accord with their budding sexuality. But Wisdom reveals that sex has little to do with the fidelity and self-sacrifice which true love requires.
So, as they mature, I hope my grandchildren recognize that the emotional sheen soon wears off, and true love - love that lasts - requires commitment of heart and mind, fidelity to virtue, and determination to remain morally truthful, reliable, prudent and accountable . . . qualities all too rare today.
I hope they soon understand that Nature established traditional marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. That’s why traditional marriage involves shared lifetimes in which husband and wife mutually learn to express the love and fidelity which defines their union, as their love grows and deepens in ways which only such marriage affords.
Much To Learn
I also hope my grandchildren learn that a commitment to true friendship - especially in marriage - makes demands on both persons for mutual empathy, self-restraint, sacrifice, diminishing egos and a fierce hold on truth.
This is also a tough lesson. Why? Because we’re all subject to regrettable foibles and errant urges of shared human nature. So, true love and fidelity to the Beloved does not guarantee that loving the other is without strife or misunderstanding. Indeed, there are times when painful truths must invariably surface, hard truths be shared, mutual intentions be made clear.
Facing hard and painful truths with the Beloved confuses and stymies us. Pain from someone we love seems contrary to our deepest need for trust and acceptance, especially from our Beloved. But candor and truth-telling - which are forms of “tough love” - are not only valid in marriage; they’re essential.
Because truth in marriage seeks the greater good, namely, 1) our mutual assent (even painfully given) to listen to one another, 2) our willingness to move beyond our defensive walls, and 3) our rejection of any deception or deliberate evasion between us.
At such times, loving candor is Wisdom’s costly crown.
This sort of “tough love” may be difficult even when reasonable. But hard truths shared are:
- the best way to love one another for the long haul;
- the best way to banish deception and to respect oneself and one’s Beloved;
- the best way to build mutual trust, which is the essential basis of all love;
- that’s why marital infidelity is a threat to every marriage: mutual trust is very difficult to recover;
- and that’s why fidelity in every phase of marriage is salutary and life-enhancing.
And that’s not all that I hope for my grandchildren,
We know love is kind, even when kindness is costly. In fact, when we are misunderstood, love tells us to still persist in kindness, even in silence. Why? Because true love is not boastful nor envious, not arrogant nor rude nor pushy about rewards. It does not advertise nor impress with sly modesty, and it certainly does not retaliate vengefully.
Love does not insist on always having its way, does not play “victim” nor assert its bruised and flailing ego for all to see. When love is snubbed or treated with indifference, it does not become irritable or resentful, or nurse grudges, nor wish others ill, nor return insult-for-insult in a childish, back-handed manner.
Furthermore, love never seeks to manipulate others under the guise of feigned interest or, worse, crass exploitation. It never rejoices in gossip or falsehoods or wrongdoing . . . but love does rejoice in the truth; quietly, perhaps, and always with gratitude.
So, I hope my grandchildren learn how to treat people responsibly and not selfishly. I hope they see that loving others in proper manner requires knowledge of their own motives, goodly measure of self-respect, gratitude to God and a listening, responsive heart.
Endless sources - including the Life of Christ - insist that self-respect involves true love of one’s self. That means:
- we are aware of our own needs and intentions;
- we are patient with our own foibles when we err;
- we are repentant about our sins, forgiving of our mistakes, and ready to seek forgiveness from others, when called for;
- we are always learning about ourselves, forever seeking and finding the goodness and forgiveness of God through Christ and His love for us …
Finally, Hope Springs . . .
So, I hope my grandchildren learn that love is intended to grow and flower within the traditional family, where we learn the nuances of gratitude, moral decency and responsibility. It is in the traditional family that God intends us to be touched by the grace of love given and love received.
Especially in family, we learn to be loving human beings who bear all things, who believe in one another, who hope and strive for all good and Godly outcomes, who endure all things with-and-for those who are our Beloved.
I pray my grandchildren will realize the grandeur and mystery of life and of Creation.
I hope they do not overlook the importance of Christian Charity in small, everyday moments, in a kindly smile or gentle words to those in need -- or, for that matter, a stern, honest confrontation when it’s appropriate and timely.
I hope they never lose sight of the Christian vision of life and reality, a vision richly enlightened by Revelation, as no other is.
I hope they never lose sight of Faith and Hope, which are central to our lives as Christians.
I hope they will look with awe at the stars, and realize that some of those blinking lights have traveled eleven billion years through "space," and are reminders of our Creator’s Will.
I hope they remember that everything we have in life is given as a gift, even the light from those stars, of which there are trillions upon trillions, so many, in fact, that they are uncountable in numbers and in distances.
In the face of Creation, our Christian hearts tell us that gratitude is the only reasonable response for us humans. And our knowledge, such as it is, seems so fragile and so small before God's Wisdom.
And, given all of this, I hope my grandchildren remember these truths:
- God is infinite in His caring for us;
- Even when pain and confusion are upon us, God is with us;
- God endows us with personal freedom so we may cherish and nurture our gift of life . . . or, most unwisely, reject and ignore our dependence on God as His children;
- Christ reminds us - in His gentle, forgiving way - that we have been created for our relationship with the Divine;
- To assist us each moment, Christ remains always in us and among us, repeatedly befriending us by His crowning act of love, His act of redeeming Charity;
- We are all called to accept His message of redemption and transcendence. Acceptance is a choice we can all make.
Finally, then, I hope my grandchildren will gratefully remember to say every day, many times each day: “Deo gratias, thank you, God,” for life and love and whatever else each day may bring, be it joyous or painful. I hope they say each day, “God, I do indeed thank you . . . for everything!” May it be so. May it ever be so.