November 13, 2009

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Do signs of the times predict our future?

Cynthia DewesThere’s a fuss going on in Bloomington about signs on public buses paid for by atheists which read, “You can be good without God.”

In retaliation, an offended Christian paid for bus signs that read, “You can be good without God, but you can only be saved by Jesus.” Touché.

According to what I heard on the radio, there’s another controversy of a different kind going on somewhere in cyberspace over virtual learning. High school students who need to make up credits or earn more credits for graduation requirements sign up for virtual learning classes on their computers. The problem for some educators is the quality of the virtual instruction can vary from excellent to iffy. There are no legal standards for its use.

A student who had earned credits through virtual learning courses was enthusiastic about them. He said he had never liked history classes because teachers gave boring lectures about things which were not even on the final test! The online courses really got to the point because they were factual, short and snappy. Quick and painless, the student’s dream.

These examples of assault on religion and traditional moral imperatives, and the short attention span and instant gratification syndrome, persist throughout our culture. No one seems to want to spend time or effort to reach their goals, and the goals themselves are not always defined by concern for what is right.

Sports figures are routinely outed as illegal drug users, either for recreation or to enhance their athletic abilities. Professional athletes and high school sports kids alike all make excuses: The testing was faulty, jealous competitors are lying about me, it started as a legitimate cure for pain and then got out of hand, you name it. Even the Olympics, which are supposed to embody the courage and nobility of athletic endeavor, are tarnished occasionally.

A former president of the United States embarrasses himself and the nation with sexual improprieties while in office. Ditto the former governor of New York and the current governor of South Carolina. Congressmen, judges, mayors and policemen are reported almost daily as having misused their powers. Teachers and coaches, pastors, doctors and other role models also belong to the naughty club.

Corporations sometimes stomp on the poor, and some of the poor routinely manipulate the system, all for personal gain.

Heterosexual couples live together in serial relationships outside of marriage, often producing children who suffer poverty, neglect and cruelty. This is the exact opposite of the aim of marriage and family.

Meanwhile, homosexuals demand the right to marry, without children except by surrogates or adoption. This, too, is an end run on the Christian meaning of marriage and the family, not to mention what we used to call natural law.

However, the complexities of moral behavior have increased over time. So we think perhaps if we put less pressure on athletes or politicians or executives, they wouldn’t feel a need to cheat. Or maybe Christian kindness and mercy compel us to accept homosexuals in committed relationships or stable heterosexual cohabitation.

In light of all this, should we worry? Will our world one day be a godless, chaotic wasteland? Think about it.

Maybe we just need to slow down, reflect and pray, listen in all ways to people’s needs, and serve them when we can.

Because it’s only by personal example that we can ever hope to create and sustain a loving world.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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