“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." John 8:44
I keep seeing people - often those who should know better - saying how “confused” they are, or feel. So, let’s take a few minutes to think about that problem carefully.
How is “confusion” created?
From the darkening of the intellect…
The problem is that we’ve mostly forgotten how to think, so we can’t spot logical contradictions or errors, or if we do we can’t clarify or identify them as such. We might have a “feeling” that “something is wrong” but there are no intellectual tools for sorting it out reasonably.
Confusion usually happens when we are presented with a logical contradiction, when things we see and hear don’t “add up” or “make sense” compared with what we know, or think we know. A logical contradiction is a mental error, identified very early by ancient Greek philosophers as a fundamental violation of the Laws of Rational Thought. In other words, an attempt to re-create the Real in its very foundations.
It’s simple when you read it:
“Contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time.” I cannot both be in the room and not in the room at the same time and in the same sense. A thing and its negation cannot be the same thing. No is not the same thing as Yes.
I wrote something about it all here that might be useful:
“No Third Way: the fundamentals of rationality” where I explain how one can learn to figure out what is and isn’t true, and make yourself immune to “fake news” and conspiracy paranoia.
The feeling we have in a state of confusion, that always results in a person with a normal mind when confronted with a logical contradiction, is the “static,” the disquiet and emotional disturbance that psychologists have started calling “cognitive dissonance.” It’s what happens in our brains when we can’t make sense of something we’re seeing, hearing or experiencing. It comes when we see something that doesn’t accord with what we know or think is true, when what we can see plainly with our ordinary senses is not the same as what we’re being told, but we are nevertheless required not to “believe our lying eyes”.
…to the weakening of the will…
We have a lot of problems in the modern world - the 1st World, at least - because people have never had any training in rational thought, and we have had what we must now call the Principle of Anti-Rationality slowly turning into the guiding principle of our societies. Anti-Rationality is what gives us the very popular, but totally nonsensical, idea that “feelings” are more important than facts.
We are told that because a teenager “feels” like a different sex, we are obliged to treat her that way. This mania for feelings - that started gaining ground in the institutions in the 1970s - has gone so far as to make “hate crime” laws around the western world to enforce it. We are at the stage with this that a male sex offender can be placed in a woman’s prison simply by declaring that he “feels” like a woman himself. Feelings, that the Church Fathers used to call "the passions,” are now judged to be the highest of all laws, supplanting any consideration even for simple biological facts.
This idea - that itself generates a great deal of that static - has left many people in a state of weakness, of mental and emotional fragility, unable to have the emotional strength to stand firm on what they really do know is true. They are so brainwashed into the Primacy of Feelings that they are slaves to their fear of offending, to the point, for example, that they will call a man a woman and vice versa if they are told to.
It is this that has produced the weak-knee’d responses to ALL of the political, psychological, philosophical and ideological attacks we have experienced in the last 60 years. The Anti-Rational Principle - that nearly everyone younger than me (55) has been fed by every source…school, television, movies, friends, parents, advertisements… everything, their whole lives, has left most people emotionally ill-equipped, too weak to stand against those forces. The Anti-Rational Principle is simply the attempt to live as though the Three Laws of Rational Thought - the fundamental laws of reality - either don’t exist or don’t count.
It has especially rendered modern Christians - who have rarely been taught the difference between genuine supernatural charity and "being nice” in a social sense - powerless and helpless. We are told we must never disagree with anyone, we must never upset anyone, that to do so would “drive that person away from the Church”. Particularly if we are English and have a national disposition to never making waves or a fuss, a cultural terror of “giving offence,” we have become willing slaves to the deliberately manufactured social terror of ever standing up and defending what is Real.
…to surrendering of freedom…
Twenty years ago, the consequences of standing up for the Real were merely social. But in our collective cowardice we have let it go on so long that now standing up for the Real can not only threaten a person’s livelihood, but land him in prison. We see the cringing and grovelling of our entire leadership class to the likes of Antifa and the self-declared Marxist organisation BLM because of their own failure of spine in defending the Real. And we see what we saw in the last year - entire nations held hostage, half a world literally hiding indoors while lunatics rampage, pillage, burn and kill.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
In the Catholic Church…
that buzz of static comes when we hear a churchman saying things that contradict the Faith, or opposing Scripture, or the teaching of previous popes or the Fathers of the Church. It comes when they contradict things they themselves have said in the past.
And it comes most of all when he is elliptical, evasive, obscure, equivocal and circumlocutory or when his words and his actions don’t match up. It comes when he talks a good talk about “mercy” and “accompaniment” but is cruel and tyrannical in his actions, when he is partial in his determinations, favouring with fatherly smiles and approval - and benefices - politically, morally or theologically questionable groups and individuals, while ruthlessly persecuting others who are faithful.
And most importantly comes when they say or do things that contradict or oppose their reputation as “conservatives,” or some other narrative process we have come to believe is true. It comes, in other words, when we are confronted with plainly observable realities that we have been told all our lives by our leadership cannot possibly be true. This is when they contradict not reality itself, but a constructed narrative framework by which we have been taught to understand the world.
Mainly, we have been taught that the Church is divided into “conservative” and “liberal” camps, and that this bishop is in this camp and this other one is in that camp. We become disquieted by cognitive dissonance when we start seeing breaks, glitches, in that narrative framework, but because a narrative framework is so fundamental to our understanding, our ability to make sense of things, that we often turn to denial - and the anger and lashing-out that comes with that - rather than face the difficult process of objective investigation and the possible necessity of re-framing our way of understanding reality.
“But why is Bishop Soandso endorsing this pro-abortion politician?! I heard him say good things about [X] and everyone says he’s a conservative! It must be media lies. The media lies all the time. You can’t believe these bloggers...”
“But the pope can’t possibly contradict the Faith! That would be impossible, so therefore it isn’t happening. He must be misinformed. It must be the translations. People around him are all betraying him…”
The excuses are never-ending but they are manufactured out of fear and refusal to look plainly observable facts squarely in the face.
And this epidemic disease, this fungal infection of pleasing the world, of assuaging feelings and pretending it will make the Real go away, has not been the norm in the Catholic Church only since March 2013, but for over 50 years. Why would a “conservative” pope like John Paul II give pectoral crosses to Anglican laymen dressed up as bishops? Why would he preside over those bizarre festivals of religious indifferentism at Assisi? Why would he appoint men like Walter Kasper, Godfried Danneels, Rembert Weakland and Roger Mahoney as Cardinals? Why why why…??
All these things look to us like contradictions - these and many more are things no “conservative” is supposed to do - so we start building entire cottage industries of online episcopal and papal apologists explaining away these apparent contradictions… But if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that they never do quite satisfy, or quell the disquiet we feel.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
We fix it by doing the hard thing - breaking out of the Matrix and pursuing the Real
“The liberal/conservative narrative framework is insufficient to explain the reality we see.”
With this simple sentence, I launched myself out of the mainstream Catholic Church and into a whole new wonderful world of confronting the Real that we call “Traditional Catholicism”.
It was the admission I was finally forced to make to myself about 2002, when I had been confronted with the rampant, and blatant formal Modernism in some of the most famous “conservative” communities of nuns I was visiting. I came home and simply had to rethink my assumptions about things. What I saw just didn’t fit the framework. I couldn’t force it. But if you think it was easy or fun, think again. It wasn’t either of those things, but it was unavoidable. The metaphorical ground I had been standing on would no longer hold the weight of the Real I was being asked to hold up. There was no choice but to jump.
It took a long time and a lot of work. Interior work of teaching myself to accept and trust the reality I could see, and exterior work of re-ordering my life to be in keeping with that reality. But I think it’s only having done that work that I could ever have become useful to anyone else. No one can. If you’re constantly frantically trying to build up mental defences against what you plainly see, and against the cognitive dissonance you feel, all your resources mental and spiritual, are put to work on yourself, and there’s nothing left for anyone else.
You can trust your eyes if you have courage
The Real reasserting itself can appear confusing if the person observing it has been living in UnReality for a long time and has underdeveloped strength of mind and will. But that’s not a reason to despair, at all. These are spiritual and mental muscles you can build up with work, with the forthright confrontation of fears.
In fact, that’s precisely what the whole process of growing in holiness that the Desert Fathers and saints talk about; the shedding of self-deception, of delusion and falsehood, egoism and personal preferences, and the wholehearted embrace of the Real - the source of all Realness, Christ Himself. It takes courage, but in fact mostly the kind it takes to jump into cold water - once you’ve done it, you find it feels a lot better than the heat on the beach.
If the things you thought were true weren’t actually true, then the Real can cause emotional disturbance. In brief, you can be freaked out by Reality if you’ve spent your life accepting UnReality. The cognitive dissonance can come when you are insufficiently confident about what you know is true, in the form of anxiety that can easily be mistaken for “confusion”. You know what’s true, but you haven’t developed the spiritual backbone to stand by it in your own mind. That’s OK. Just try a little bit. A little bit by a little bit is how we get stronger in mind as well as body.
The truth is that it is the condition of the Church for the last 50 years that has been confusing, false, discordant, contradictory and chaotic, and it is the contradictions we have seen but tried to dismiss and explain away that created that chaos. And the regime of UnReality has allowed the concomitant evils we have all had so forcefully shoved in our faces.
What we are seeing happening this week and for the last eight years with the attempt by a pope to suppress and stamp out the ancient Faith, is the end of that regime of UnReality. This is waking so many people up, it is getting to the point now where only those who have a dishonest reason - who are invested somehow - will continue to try to defend the UnReal.
Lies are being revealed to have been lies. Because it has been so normal for so long, Catholics have forgotten just how many lies we have been told to accept for the last 5 decades. It might not be nice to realise you’ve believed lies, but at least you can rejoice with me that you don’t believe them anymore, that you’ve come to understand that you’ve held to a false or inadequate narrative framework.
Walk away from them. Forget about them. Be fearless and investigate the Real. Ask the questions you’ve held back, and really seek answers. The “confusion” and all the discomfort of it will dissipate like morning fog.
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