I had no idea growing up as a Christian-thinking, mainstream, popular young man in the great state of Oklahoma in the 1960’s and 70’s that I would end up living a life that runs so absolutely obtusely with American culture. Yet, that is what happened, and I am writing to tell you how it all came about.
Really, I think that modern culture is what changed more dramatically, with incendiary fury in the 1960’s, to run obtusely with a formerly Christian-oriented society. The thought never crossed my mind as a youth that my country and the civilization of which it was born would detour with hyperspace speed to embrace the cold, secularist, anti-Christian, culture in which it glories today.
I also made a turn but in the opposite direction, toward a dogmatic religion so often despised today by the secular world called Roman Catholicism. Remarkable souls whom we call saints called me to it. I did not come to it on my own merit. However, the land where these heavenly friends led me infused my soul with peace and freedom and created in me a whole person. I was brought to authentic Faith, true Reason, and a sense of belonging and unity through Catholic Tradition with that Christian civilization, now almost dead, called Christendom whose high point was in the Middle Ages. My journey to the edifying spiritual highlands and clear air of Christendom through the wholeness of Catholic Faith, Reason, and Tradition is the story of this book.
If modern culture is making you physically, mentally, and spiritually ill with its selfish, mean-spirited, and shallow life styles along with its even more shallow Eastern New Age spirituality, then you should read this book. Even if you love the modern culture with its superficial Eastern spirituality, you still should read this book; though, you will not like it. Even if these words have no more impact on the world than that of shooting a bubble gun to stop a charging elephant, I believe that I need to speak them. According to G.K. Chesterton, this obtuseness of mine, what some may call “divisiveness” might just be an indication that I am truly alive!
“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” (Chesterton 2008)
In a certain sense, however, I would describe my situation differently than does that quote from Mr. Chesterton. I could say that at a point in my life I stepped on a rock, a rock that does not move, a rock that is two-thousand years old, and a rock whose own foundation antedates the physical universe. This is a very solid rock indeed.
I would not want you to get the idea that I merely am a reactionary, that I ran to embrace Catholicism only as a reaction against the rising tide of secularism. For you will soon find out that I am very much a conformist, perhaps one of the most conforming people you have ever come across. I conform to Catholic Dogma as a drowning man conforms his arms around a solid rock. The freedom and joy of discovering this rock of Truth standing firmly against the prevailing hurricane force winds of modern thinking will be the expanded thesis behind my story.
I wrote this story in the language of my heart. If everyone has a story to tell for the benefit of at least one other, then this writing represents my story. It is the outcome of my spiritual journey through the life-saving world of the Dogmas, Creeds, Traditions, and Scriptures of the two-thousand-year-old Roman Catholic Church. I do not intend it to be a scholarly work; though, it touches on many spiritual, theological, philosophical, and cultural topics. To some these words may sound like sweet music, to others like fingernails scraping a blackboard, and to still others like a muddled conflagration of thoughts. I pray I do not offend any person of goodwill, only that I might edify many.
However, that this writing often reflects a subjective sounding language of the heart should not obscure the main point of it. That point is that the spiritual journey I will discuss with you is on a very real path. What I mean by this is that the path is objectively available for every person on earth even though my description of it is subjective and based on my own experience. This is truly important. The joy, freedom, and life-saving grace of which I will speak in this book are not due to me being a special person with a unique spirituality, a worthy person, or someone called out as a leader among many. I am an average person with no real worldly importance. That means that everyone can, and I will argue should, take this journey. If you think that this story is about a special subjective experience that is just mine, well, you have indeed missed the point, and I will declare myself the poorest of communicators! I wish that you would follow this same path where you can have your own subjective experience based on the solid ground of shared, objective Truth. This path unifies us through objective Truth while allowing each of us to grow into the individuals whom God intended us to be, all by following the Dogmatic Roman Catholic Church! It is glorious! Only God could have conceived the path and founded it, and I will point out to you that he did do this. The Catholic Church is not “man-made” religion; it is a visible institution founded by a “God-man.” That is a life changing difference.
It is like this analogy: when you travel together with another person, you both travel the same road, objectively speaking, even though you may each describe the trip differently from your own subjective experience. You may describe different scenes or highlight different events, but it is the same road. This is a very important point to bear in mind while reading this book, for there are many today who view everything purely subjectively and assume that there can be no objectively true path for the world to follow. No one is supposed to say that there is objective truth, truth that can speak dogmatically about what is right and what is wrong, and about how to get to heaven and how to avoid hell. Least of all, no one should dare say that their road is the true one! Well, I am going to say just that. I will not say that your experience of that path necessarily should be like mine. However, I will say that the path itself, no matter how it affects you subjectively, is the true road to freedom, joy, and eternal happiness. Jesus Christ says that through the Scriptures, the Sacred Traditions, and the Magisterial teaching authority of his two-thousand-year-old Church. This path is true and solid ground.
I call my journey the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed. It is the only road to which I think true reason will lead you and is that road traveled with freedom and joy by untold numbers before me. In fact, by the design of God, all people are to travel it, for the Catholic Church is the only means to reach our ultimate destiny beyond the suffering world we share as humanity. God opened this road and wills that we travel it. He is a Father and wishes all his children to find their way out of the wilderness that puzzles us each day when we arise. He gave us his Son to lead us out of the Dark Forest.
That many do not choose to follow this path is the single most saddening thing in our world, for they choose not to follow the will of that Good God. They have the freedom to make that decision. The very radical freedom that the atheist, Eastern New Ager, or general secularist wishes to experience is given already by God; though, he usually does not understand this. God gave humanity the very radical freedom to accept or reject him. It is too bad that many more do not use that freedom to obey rather than disobey; for, the free act of obedience to God makes eternal beatitude an objective reality. This we know by the promise of God. It is the rejection of God, in exchange for an inauthentic, God-less freedom, that ultimately enslaves humanity, a fact I know myself to be an objective reality!
Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, opened this path for us, being brutally beaten and crucified by the non-believers of that day, without raising a finger to prevent it though he had the power to do so, that we might have the opportunity to travel this path of freedom with him. He rose from death, in real, physical, objective terms, as witnessed by hundreds, and he inaugurated in his Holy Spirit an institutional Church, the Roman Catholic Church, as his authoritative body on earth. Through this body, he walks the path visibly with every generation until he brings homer all willing to accept the way.
He desires that every person would accept it. This is why we must preach and insist upon this true gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, even in the face of a beautiful sounding humanism that speaks of a love for humanity but demonstrates hatred toward God and those who insist on obeying him. The atheistic or secularist humanist speaks of opening our hearts to a universal love while insisting that Christianity bears only intolerant hatred. As G.K. Chesterton brilliantly observed:
“There are those who hate Christianity, and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” (Chesterton 2008)
The words of Our Lord also come to mind when he asked what good it would do for a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul in the process. (Mark 8:36)
Any humanism that rejects Christ is not a lasting humanism; it is superficial. Christ rose from the dead; there is no other. Should not we pay attention to him? What rational person could reject a resurrected Christ? What God-less humanism makes sense in light of the resurrection? Mull that over for a while, and if you are, in fact, a person of true reason, you will not need to read the balance of this book; for, you have the key message. Christ is the objective reality! He is life! Why do we waste time with so many empty words and useless arguments favoring a world without him? It is nonsensical and very deadly to do so.
One might argue that in apparent contrast to what I am saying, organized and institutional religion is demonstrably very dangerous, as it seems to be at the heart of many a deadly war. Yet, the reason that religion has caused so much bloodshed is that the eternal destination of our souls is something for which we should be willing to fight! We should be willing more to fight for our religion than for our country, as that would be more rational. Our ancestors knew this well. Tell me I must sell my soul and reject my Catholic religion for atheism or a blasphemous one-world spirituality, and I am ready to fight! I want to go to heaven and do not intend to let you stop me. I agree with G.K. Chesterton that religious war, though undesirable, is far more rational than wars between nations:
“The Crusade was a religious movement, but it was also a perfectly rational movement; one might almost say a rationalist movement…But it certainly is the fact that religious war is in itself much more rational than patriotic war. I for one have often defended and even encouraged patriotic war, and should always be ready to defend and encourage patriotic passion. But it cannot be denied that there is more of mere passion, of mere preference and prejudice, in short of mere personal accident, in fighting another nation than in fighting another faith. The Crusader is in every sense more rational than the modern conscript or professional soldier. He is more rational in his object, which is the intelligent and intelligible object of conversion; where the modern militarist has an object much more confused by momentary vanity and one-sided satisfaction.” (Chesterton 2008)
Religion deals not only with the here, but with the hereafter! We are divisive because we love for Heaven’s sake, and I will explain that all to you in this book.
In discussing my subjective experience of this true path to freedom, I desire to re-present an age-old alternative to the depressing, deterministic, and oppressing world-view that chokes humanity today through either atheistic humanism or inauthentic and deceptive Eastern New Age spiritualism. In paradoxical coordination with a growing God-less humanism nurtured by atheism, the Western world is several generations deep into Eastern Hindu or Buddhist influences such that the true Western mind, as has been represented by Roman Catholicism for most of the past two thousand years, is all but lost. We are so lost in the notion that individuals in their own consciences can create a subjective Christ of their own meaning, without any authoritative institution, that we have ended up with non-Christian Eastern New Age philosophers writing books to teach us about Christ! Heaven save us!
The modern mind today cannot conceive of anything beyond relativistic morality, a denial of dogmatic truths, or the belief that no one can really know truth, which are all Eastern intrusions on the Truth of Christ’s concrete, dogmatic teachings to the contrary. Those today of Eastern spiritual orientation who dare to write of Christ as if he were a Hindu, Buddhist, or a source of New Age “enlightenment,” are not only spreading darkness, but they, in fact, have no authority to even teach this nonsense. The authority to teach Christ rests in the Church he personally founded and which has held the treasuries of the Faith for over two thousand years.
“In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left Bishops as their successors. They gave them ‘their own position of teaching authority.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 77)
“The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 85)
The claim that I can say to an Eastern thinker that he has no authority to teach on Christ is itself an incomprehensible notion to the modern mind. Statements like that will send it reeling. That is how far Eastern “subjective” and “non-judgmental” thought has sunk its claws into the Western world. For Christianity’s first one thousand five hundred years, this was not so at all. You know the old question, if God seems far away – who moved? Well, if Christianity in the West seems far removed from its traditional base, then I ask – who moved? It was not the Roman Catholic Church. The Church maintained a visible apostolic succession from the time of Christ. She holds the authority to teach that message taught by the original apostles.
My desire to write of this journey, as you will note in the first section, derives from my desire to share Truth and encourage others to walk this path with me. More importantly, it derives from a love for humanity. My words may seem difficult for some to swallow, but one expects this when sharing Roman Catholicism.
Mostly, I wish that those who read this book would choose to join me with multitudes of others in joyfully dancing and celebrating along this noble path to freedom. In fact, I call it The Freedom Dance, for those who called me to it were, in spirit, dancing joyfully and in freedom themselves.
I care only that nothing in this writing be opposed to the teachings of Holy Mother Church. My desire is to please Our Lord and Our Lady and to be in complete union with the Pope and the magisterial teachings of the Church. As you will soon discover, I care not for the opinion of any man, save that man Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He, who is the founder of the Roman Catholic Church, is the one who created all things, and there is no other. It will be to and before the founder of the Roman Catholic Church, the builder of Western Civilization, that all Powers, all Kings, all Presidents, all Court Justices, all Legislators, all Journalists, all Finance Ministers, all of Hollywood, indeed, every person on earth will kneel, and there is no other. For, “then he will judge between the nations and arbitrate between many peoples.” (Isaiah 2:4a) He is the mediator with the Father in heaven, and there is no other. Finally, I desire to please that sweet and holy Lady, the Mother of Our Lord and the Mother of God. She brought me from darkness into the light that is her Son.