Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Materialism and Mysticism: The M&M’s of Delusion

Philosophy identifies three important “transcendentals” which form a Trinity of sorts: truth, goodness, and beauty. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. What you may not know, however, is that they are ontologically connected. That means that beauty is rooted in goodness which is in turn rooted in truth. Truth determines what is good and goodness determines what is beautiful. Saints are beautiful because they are good and they are good because they live according to the truth. We act according to what we are.

What’s so wonderful about Catholicism (okay there are way too many things that are wonderful about the Church to limit it to one!) is that she sees things as they really are. This means that it is only in the Catholic Church that you can find the fullness of life. Though you may find some profound truths in other religions, they each miss something terribly important about what it means to be man. This is true of Protestants, pantheists, polytheists, and pig-headed atheists.

Now as the title indicates, I’ve broken the symptoms down into two categories: materialism and mysticism. Both have limited interpretations of reality and humanity. Materialism, in general, stresses the material world around us. Radical materialism rejects the existence of spirit, teaching that reality is only what you can experience with your senses and discoverable through the scientific method. Mysticism, on the other hand, stresses spirituality over the material world. Extreme mysticism rejects the existence of matter, calling it an illusion to be overcome through spiritual enlightenment. This is the reason why science grew predominantly in the Christian West and not in the Orient.

Catholicism sees and unites both matter and spirit because both are good in themselves and both make up the nature of man. Our divided world has attempted to divorce faith and reason. Atheists sided with “reason alone” while Protestants sided with “faith alone” – neither has the slightest idea of what faith and reason truly are! The late John Paul II described faith and reason as the two
wings of a bird flying upwards toward God. Materialists and spiritual mystics are grounded to the earth, not chained down by God but wounded rather by their own self-mutilation.

Catholicism sees the truths of reality. Everything else sees partial truths and delusions.

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