Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The real unforgivable sins

One of them is despair:
Despair, ethically regarded, is the voluntary and complete abandonment of all hopeof saving one's soul and of having the means required for that end. It is not a passive state of mind: on the contrary it involves a positive act of the will by which a person deliberately gives over any expectation of ever reaching eternal life. There is presupposed an intervention of the intellect in virtue of which one comes to decide definitely that salvation is impossible. This last is motived by the persuasion either that the individual's sins are too great to be forgiven or that it is too hard for humannature to cooperate with the grace of God or that Almighty God is unwilling to aid the weakness or pardon the offenses of his creatures, etc.
Everyone feels daunted once in a while. Despair is the considered and willing rejection of God's grace. If we do not ask for forgiveness, our sins cannot be forgiven hence why it is considered an unforgivable sin. As the encyclopedia goes on to say, despair is often accompanied by the sin of heresy.

The sin of despair is about our lack of hope for a happy eternity. Despair about our life in this world doesn't rise to the same level, but it remains a temptation.
Other days, I reverted to my old habits to an extent–spent breaks and lunch hours reading blogs and web pages and posting tweets. Listened to the “news” on the radio on the way to work. Read entire articles about the war, or whatever it is, in Yemen and the one in Syria and the one, apparently in Kenya. Am I the better for this?
During those evenings there has been more anxiety, less energy, and, strangely, even more tweet reading and “reacting.” It’s not really that anything is so bad about what my friends are saying and posting; in fact, given the quality of the blogs and Twitter accounts I follow, the content is well written and on point about the problems of our age, and what ought to be done about them…yet I can feel a certain negativity, even despair, being driven right into my soul by all of this. There is such a thing as pessimism porn, and though I don’t see it as the main thrust of the Reactosphere or the Dark Enlightenment, he who hath eyes to see knows it’s there.
I don't care for the more pessimistic corners of the alt-right. Many writers focusing excessively on the negative eventually give it up for the lack of return and recognition. It's a difficult balancing act. Most men - myself included - write a blog to address problems and propose solutions. We all recognize that the culture has become fundamentally broken with the ascension of liberalism, feminism, and the social justice ideology. It's a way for us to compare notes. We have in common the experiences of trying to live normal lives inside a progressive dystopia.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn suffered in the gulag for years. He rediscovered his Christian faith and it gave him the hope necessary to persevere. Victor Frankl wrote in his book Man's Search for Meaning that people can endure almost any kind of suffering so long as they believe it's for a reason. The concentration camp prisoners who had something which gave them hope, often religious faith, lived longer than those who didn't.

Fortunately, we aren't experiencing the same kind of physical and spiritual torment that Solzhenitsyn and Frankl endured. America's decline is plain to all with eyes to see, but we still enjoy many blessings. The lessons offered by Frankl's book and Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago include developing mental toughness, spiritual discipline, and a sense of hope.

In the short term, I'm very much a pessimist. It's likely (but not inevitable) that Hillary will be elected president next year. The Church is still infected with liberalism and the clergy still routinely offer progressive buffoonery instead of true doctrine. Straight white men are still checking out of a society that excoriates them just for existing. Marriage continues to decline as an institution, both in participation and in legal privilege. I expect the shooting will begin in earnest in another 20 years.

But I have hope for a happy eternity with God's help. Believe it or not, I'm hopeful about the world as well. Liberalism is incoherent and inhuman. It's as doomed to fail as Soviet communism was. I probably won't live long enough to see that, but I'm as confident of it as I am that the sun will rise and the tides will ebb and wane. So cheer up. Count your blessings. God love you.

h/t: Free Northerner, who deserves congratulations for reaching one million hits.

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