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Wake Up and Smell the Catastrophe


(Patheos.Com) You know the theory that a frog put in a pan of water will stay there as the temperature rises and the poor thing doesn’t sense the increase in temperature and eventually boils to death.

The biggest problem with American Catholics is that the majority of them are asleep. Lulled by materialism, the good life and the cares of the world, they’re blind to the real crisis facing America and blind to the real crisis facing the Catholic Church. They’re frogs in a pan of water.

We need to wake up and smell the catastrophe. We need to be aware that the temperature’s rising.

The catastrophe is that certain implicitly modern ways of viewing the world have crept into our society and have undermined a Catholic world view. The first of these is relativism–the idea that there is no such thing as truth, or if there is such a thing as truth you can’t know what it is, you can’t express it, and you certainly cannot attempt to impose it anyone else. Relativism relegates all truth claims to personal opinion. You have your truth. I have my truth. You say po-ta-to. I say po-tah-to. If all truth is relative than anything goes. Think it through. If all truth is relative then you may do what you please and I must tolerate it.

The second poison in modern society which has seeped into the Catholic Church is utilitarianism. This is the belief that what is useful is what is good. We want our technology to work. We want our infrastructure to be efficient and economical, and that’s fine, but when we apply utilitarian principles to moral choices the result is deadly. Suddenly a person’s worth is determined by how useful they are or what ‘quality of life’ they have or whether it is costing us a lot to keep them alive. Utilitarianism has infected the mindset of Catholics so that they choose worship style, marriage choices and most every other choice according to what is useful, economic or practical.

The third thing that poisons modern Catholicism is sentimentalism. This is when people choose only according to what seems nice, compassionate or caring. We must, of course, be nice, compassionate and caring, but there are other criteria for choice as well, and if the only criteria for choice is to be compassionate, caring and nice, then what happens when it seems more “compassionate” to provide abortion for a poor woman or more “caring” to terminate the life of the aged or the infirm or the disabled? Sentimentalism combined with utilitarianism leads to death camps.

American Catholics who don’t think this will happen here are asleep. They’re like the frog in the pan of boiling water–the temperature increases bit by bit until they are boiled to death and all along they just thought it was getting more and more warm and comfy.

It’s Advent. Wake up and smell the catastrophe. Realize where this country is headed. Realize that already our hospitals have complicated “Do not resuscitate procedures” which are similar to England’s “Liverpool Care Pathway”. This euphemistically named procedure was first devised by caring and compassionate doctors to provide a way to care for terminally ill patients. Now it is being used to euthanize the old and even newborns with disabilities.

Wake up and smell the catastrophe. It is all much further along than you think. Remember the Nazis did not start out with thugs in leather boots with swastikas and skulls on their uniforms. They started with legislation by an elected government–legislation put in place by professionals in white coats who quietly began to weed out the mentally disabled, the infirm and the unfit.

Do you think it cannot happen here?

You’re a frog in the cooking pot…and the temperature’s rising.


Fr. Dwight Longenecker/Patheos



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