First, let me start off this post with a disclaimer.
DISCLAIMER: I’m a non-expert. I have little kids. Half of this is theory; the other half good intentions. Nonetheless, nothing goes better with the theme of “Mercy Killing” then a post about parenting. If I’m late to the “Mercy Killing” blog theme, I plead parenthood. Which for those of you without children means that half of my brain is consumed with irrational arguments about who gets the peanut butter first and whether or not the Big Bad Wolf is real.
I’m fairly certain you haven’t made the connection. What, you ask? Between “Mercy Killing” and parenting, of course. The connection is not that little instinct parents have to put a fussy kid out of his or her misery. That is not mercy, that is justice. Come on and give that kid a nap, already. Nonetheless, the connection between the theme of “Mercy Killing” and parenthood is simple: the Nazgûl are screaming overhead, the wall has been breached, and western civilization is crumbling all around us…
…And some of us have kids.
Nothing is more frightening than a discussion about “Mercy Killing” than a discussion about “Mercy Killing”. What I mean is that when you are a parent, all of these abstractions — as my friend likes to wax all Danske about — cannot remain abstractions for more than a minute. You don’t talk about this stuff over carmel lattes, instead, it deserves Scotch — on the rocks. Times of war, where death and life are faced head-on — lived in the tangible terminology of bravery, sacrifice and freedom, are times when the pub is the center-piece of the town. Today, Starbucks is our tavern, and that should tell us something about ourselves.
Because when you have kids, a latte won’t cut it. (I’m not advocating for drunkenness, I’m simply observing that we live in a time when life is viewed as a kind of light and fluffy cappuccino. The irony is that we are drinking these fraps smack-dab in the middle of Helm’s Deep.)
The culture of death (a.k.a., the culture of contraception) has impotently thrust upon western civilization more ills than I can recount in this post. Let me just point out an obvious one: children themselves have become an abstraction. We talk about them as an accessory, banding about little memes like: “They are the greatest things that can happen to you”. Even Catholics think about these “great things” in less than human terms, not because our faith or even our humanity informs the idea but rather that the culture we live in so forcefully, so programmatically, reinforces the theme. However, we are only victims of this pedagogical rhythm of death because we are sipping the lattes. So, naturally…
…put down your latte.
Which leads me back to the title of this post. In order to keep our kids Catholic, we have to reject that part of our society that is luring us into self-centered, materialistic, everything-is-okay-as-long-as-you-have-the-new-piece-of-tech way of living. That is the greatest enemy of our day. Great evils never lure the great masses, but it is the small vices that make the masses innocuous to the unthinkable. The Germans did not buy into gas chambers, they bought into labor inequality. Once they thought about the Jew in terms of an abstract obstacle to their economic flourishing, they could ignore the unthinkable as long as it was not wrought at their hands. We are at the same moment in history.
Pick up your faith.
You know what I’m talking about. That thing that has been laying in the corner for a few months. That is how we will keep our kids Catholic. Ce n’est pas très facile: We must remain Catholic. Through and through, there is no substitute for a faith lived, in public and private, with true devotion, piety, sincerity, and conviction. We cannot practice our faith sipping metaphorical lattes, because we do not live in such a time. The moment we declare a détente is the moment we lose. Don’t rest. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop fighting.
Because if anything, the culture of death has robed our society at large with the more specific bravery that comes necessarily with parenthood. It is no longer built into our fabric, but that doesn’t mean we have to give it up.
In fact, our faith and the times demand we do not.