The Storm Before The Quiet Man

As far as I can see, there are only two reasons to read Culture Wars magazine: you either are a victim of this culture seeking to understand why and how you and/or people you love got burned by the forces controlling our culture and you want to overthrow it, or you are one of its victimizers playing a cultural support role and you want to learn of potential threats which may lead to its overthrow.

This essay is directed to both kinds of readers, in order to answer the former and convert the latter. 


Culture Wars’ motto is “No social progress outside the moral order.” This observation of Pope Pius XII both accounts for the present culture of the West and points to its antidote. Its standard of judgment applied to that culture, the verdict would be that our society is a degraded one whose human flourishing has been decisively checked. This is so because our civil institutions have been severed from their roots in the moral order. Halt that severing and you overthrow this culture and restore social progress.

In order to understand both why that is so and how that is so, we first need to know and appreciate something about the nature of God, namely that He is One God and in Him there are Three Divine Persons. Next, we need to appreciate that God is the Creator of everything that has being and all that has being bears his trinitarian stamp. That is, all things, like their Maker, are things both one and three. Things being one and at the same time three is an example of paradox and a paradox is a seeming contradiction. Contradiction and paradox get used all the time in our day as synonyms, but they are actually foils, as glass is a foil to diamond and not another word for it. That’s important in understanding the nature of life and death and their respective hallmarks and authors. Life is characterized by paradox and death is characterized by the contradicting of God’s inherent design of things by severing the life-giving connection in each and every thing that is. 

Let me explain by putting before the reader a statement taken from the Book of Sirach: “All things go in pairs by opposites, the one consolidates the excellence of the other.” ( Sirach 42:24) What Sirach is pointing up is the nature of every living thing, whether physical or non- physical, consisting in the union of two complementary parts. Take any living thing: a tree, for example. A tree is the fruit of a particular seed being planted in a specific soil. Seed and soil are the tree’s parents. The seed and the soil are complementary goods whose union results in the tree’s conception. Sever the seed from the soil and you have severed their union. Sever their union and you will never get a tree. The soil will still possess the potential to give the tree life. The seed will still retain its potential to give the tree life, but the seed and soil will have to be united in an unbroken bond for a tree to be given life. Sirach’s wisdom is confirmed: All living things are composed of a pair of opposites whose union gives them life. 

What is true of material things is also true of the immaterial. The intellectual life is characterized by making connections between facts. Facts severed from each other are dead facts. It is the connections between them which give life (Christ) to the mind. The editor of Culture Wars is on our radar because he knows how to connect the dots which tell the truth about what is going on. Rejectors of the connection between facts are, therefore, rejectors of Christ. These seek to divert our attention and keep facts in isolation by calling the making of connections between them “conspiracy theories”. 

So, to repeat, all things that have life are the result of the joining together of complementary opposites; they are trinitarian in composition. They are composed of:

Element one (complement of element two)

Element two (complement of element one)

Union of both

God sees that this created thing is good. In this is Sirach’s “excellence”.  

So we know what gives a tree life and if the conditions are right, the tree will grow and thrive and be a joy to behold. But what if you want the tree to die? You would have to sever the connection between its roots and the nourishing soil as with an ax which deals the tree a cutting blow. 

There is a word in English for just that. The word is debauchery and it comes to mean the worst kind of vicious behavior. Debauchery, in other words, is another word for sin because every sinful act is an act of separating, of severing complementary opposites. A related word is heresy. Heresy is derived from a Greek word meaning to pick apart. Sin is an act which severs the connection between complementary opposites and initiates decomposition. The words heresy and debauchery remind us just how horrific the results of sinful actions can be. The word sin itself means to sever. It derives from the Germanic word from where we get our word sunder, as in “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). Do you hear the echo of Sirach in the Gospel passage? The New Testament consolidates the excellence of the Old Testament.

I would like to explore some more examples of things which go in pairs by opposites in the order of things, in the hope that, what they will reveal is the inner workings of a culture of life and a culture of death. Then we can’t be tricked about their differences and we can learn, simultaneously, how to revive our moribund culture. First though, we must pause to consider the nature of Christ, for I am saying that another name for the connection between all complementary opposites is, in fact, Jesus Christ. And it follows, therefore, that a culture which is thriving will be one with Him at its center. 

The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is a paradox. He is true God and at the same time He is true man. He condescended to unite to his uncreated Divine nature our human nature in order to become the bridge between the Family of God and the family of man whose perfect union Original Sin, that is to say, the first severing of the complementary opposites of God and man, shattered.


This is just an excerpt from Culture Wars Magazine, not the full article. To continue reading, purchase the April, 2019 edition of Culture Wars Magazine.

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