The Great Myths of Modern Times – Myth #1

There are many obstacles to truth, are there not?  Some of these are personal, but the obstacles that are perhaps most regrettable, and most suitable for public discussion, are the philosophical ones that enjoy icon status in our culture: those untruths so pervasive that nearly everyone is aware of them, and many accept them without thought.  Some of these are widely known to be untruths or popular myths, and there are endless opportunities for us to shout them down, saving others from stumbling over them.  And yet often we do not.  Lives are crippled as a result, and we see it, but we remain silent.  Why does this have to be?  Why are we afraid to speak against noxious ideas in a culture that prides itself, perhaps prematurely, on its openness?  Perhaps it is because these ideas have been blessed by authority.  I’m not just speaking of the political-correctness establishment or the ultimate authority on everything:Hollywood.  Some indefensible ideas have been championed by great authorities of philosophy and art.  Some of the most gruesome falsehoods are enthusiastically promoted by the scientific community.  Since my career has been spent in the technical and scientific communities, I feel a particular duty to focus on those.  Unfortunately in questioning the philosophical statements of scientists, I will enrage almost half, I think, of the readers of this essay who consider science sacrosanct.  But I’m not afraid of them.  If they refuse to entertain a little critical thought, then they’re not as familiar with science as they thought they were.  As Nicholas Lash once accurately put it, they’re a bunch of smug, counterfactual whiggerers, and that’s putting it nicely.

In the following essay, of which this is the first part, I don’t intend to demonize positive cultural myths or legendary individuals.  Likewise, this is not a work intended to sling barbs at any particular religion, or, indeed, at any religion at all.  Organized religion, the Judeo-Christian traditions especially, for some reason, have endured an endless barrage from the guns of critics during the last century.  If there is anything wrong with preaching about loving your neighbor, I’m sure it’s been covered, so I have no criticism to add.  Neither do I wish to abuse the uneducated or dwell on common misconceptions.  I refer instead to the dangerous intellectual myths, popular fallacies, non sequiturs and lies, intentional or otherwise, under which the crème-de-la-crème of mankind has labored for the last century or so, causing profound harm to our perception of the truth.  Perhaps the most damaging of such lies is the arrogant notion that there are no modern myths!  Most prevalent among the educated, this over-confident self-exaltation has never been more misplaced, and I intend to show that we are not necessarily the most enlightened generation or even the brightest century, and that we have the myths to prove it.

Myth #1 – “Fear is a useful survival tool left over from the struggles of our ancestors.  Fear is a powerful motivating force in a way that love can never be.  Fear can be a healthy hedge against making mistakes.  Fear will keep you alive.”  [/myth end]

What parents, fearing themselves for the safety of their children, haven’t encouraged a little fear?  Sometimes it’s fear of physical harm and sometimes as a balance to natural over-confidence or arrogance.  But what a poor substitute fear is for the one thing that children, and parents, need to guard against both harm and arrogance?

The voice of fear in your heart has a pretty good gig, doesn’t it?  It not only compels you to fear things, but also strongly suggests that it is your very best friend, and you should be afraid lest you not follow its advice.  This 2-for-1 deal, this one-two punch, is so effective that if you have any inclination at all to be afraid, it can seem quite inescapable.  In the end, of course, truth is the enemy of fear.  When Jesus says that the truth will set you free, one of the things of which he means you will be totally free, is fear.  Repeatedly in the Gospels, he exhorts us to “Be not afraid!”  What part of that is so hard to understand?

Taking Jesus’ advice and looking at fear from the outside, it becomes apparent that it is more than just an emotion.  It is, indeed, a spiritual view – a spy glass colored dark – through which you see things only a certain way: a way that is adversarial to truth, indeed, a deception.  But more than a deception about things, fear is deceptive about itself.  Like the philosopher who challenges you to guess whether he is telling the truth after stating that everything he says is a lie, you can be sure that everything fear shows you is a deceit, especially what it claims about itself.  Fear strongly compels you to trust that it is in your best interests to be afraid, and while doing so, it hides its identity, confusing it with your own.  While you are afraid, you do not believe that you are being spoken to; instead you think the voice of fear is your own voice, not to be resisted but embraced as a refuge.  It is only later that you consent to resist and realize the truth.  It is not your voice, and it must be resisted, at least for now…..

Friends, can we not be frank about what fear is?  Must we continue the charade that it is a chemical process of our brains that may have some left-over evolutionary benefit?  What kind of chemical brain process practices overt malice and deceit and then covers its path?  Why does it hide itself?  It actually does the exact thing that foolish people have always unjustly accused God of doing.  Richard Dawkins and others have claimed that they would ask: “Sir, why did you go to such great efforts to hide yourself?” if they ever met the almighty.  Goodness, what a strange thing to ask someone who, in making all physical things, cannot himself be a physical thing, and yet has made himself known to virtually every human on the planet spiritually!  God surely does not hide himself.  But hiding himself is exactly what the “author” of fear does.  Yes, why not refer to him rather than it?  Let us ask as Tolkien asks in the Lord of the Rings: “Who causes the minutes to fall dead, adding up to no passing hour?” Tolkien is not speaking metaphorically or anthropomorphically.  He is referring to the Dark Lord.  Not a force.  Not chemistry.  Not imagination.  Being a devout Catholic who knew very well the reality of spiritual warfare and, incidentally, detested allegory, his Dark Lord of Middle Earth is a direct reference to the Beast of our world.

But even if we can agree that fear is an evil influence that must be avoided, is Jesus’ exhortation doable?  As weak human beings, can we really cast off fear entirely?  Can we get by without it?  As C. S. Lewis once remarked, even children instinctively know there is a “Bogeyman.”  To conquer fear, they must be taught to know that there is someone stronger than the Bogeyman.  To accomplish this in our own hearts, we may have to bust a few more myths.  [To be continued…]

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About GruntOfMonteCristo

Fearless and Devout Catholic Christian First, Loving Husband and Father Second, Pissed-Off Patriot Third, Rocket Engineer Dork Last.
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33 Responses to The Great Myths of Modern Times – Myth #1

  1. freedom1781 says:

    Very insightful essay.

  2. WaltzingMtilda says:

    Yea, like if Richard Dawkins ever met God he would have the stones to ask that. What’s that expression? All hat no something? (sorry, I’m from Pennsylvania…we don’t wear hats).

    Very well done, BTW. This is an issue I struggle with on a pretty regular basis.

  3. Response to GFC on the “Under Construction” thread:
    Even though people often claim that “fear will keep you alive” and treat it like an axiom, I believe fear always endangers you in BOTH body and soul. But you have to believe in an active and personal God in order to buy that. You have to believe that God is the one keeping you alive at all times of day, asleep or awake. Fear always rips you away from cooperation with God’s attempts to keep you alive (or not, eventually). It may seem that fear makes you more alert, but you have to ask yourself: “alert to what?” I would say: alert to the lie that your fate is in your own hands. How many times has fear ripped you out of “the zone” where you actually knew what you were doing? Then what happened? Exactly…

    • Nicely put Grunt and I knew you had it there all along. What is truely amazing is what this amazing body God has given us goes through and how it responds to fear.

      • gfcandinthatorder says:

        I will use an example, an experience that reminds me of a couple of things. 1 that time is really just a figment of our immagination which our minds cannot fathom anything but and 2 this awesome machine that God made for us (our body) and how it functions in many ways we cannot understand.
        I was driving home from work after a long hot day and traffic was ok. Traveling at 55mph on the Hwy. I approached this intersection where there was a stop sign for thise who wanted to get on or accross the Hwy. There was traffic on all sides and this particular car was stopped at the stopsign waiting to make a left turn onto the Hwy. to go the opposite way I was traveling. Having the right of way I continued and when I was abiut 35′ from the intersection this car pulled out righr in front of me and then saw me and froze right in the middle of my lane leaving me no where to go as there was anither car waiting for me to pass through the intersection, another om my right immediately behind the car that had just pulled out and another car going in the opposite dirrection doing about 55mph.
        what happened in the next second of my lfe seemed to me to transpire over about forever and doesn’t seem possible. I saw everything extremeky clear unlike anything in normal senses. All the cars in their places stopped and I saw the looks on everybody’s faces as I stompted the brakes and the sound of tires screeching was above all others. I heard breaking glasses things banging and people screming out all in turn. I remember every word and smell and sound and it seemed that I was moving at a quick pace thinking of a thousand decessions all at once and making them. Every bdy else was at a stand still almost completely still while I made many decessions. I saw an area about 7′ wide between cars and released the brake pedal so I could swerve ariund the car immidiately in front of me and the slam the brakes again to get just the right angle to whip around another car. As soon as I passed about 50′ through the intersection everything went through warp speed and I litterally saw stars as everytging went back to its normal speed. My passengers in my one ton van were all disheveled screaming and then awestruct hiw I had just done what I did. To thus day I am spellbound at God’s great mercy for my Guardian Angel Bingo who is constantly by my side working overtime, the lives that were saved that day and this awesome mind and body that God made.All instantaniously done while I was exhausted and tired.

      • An amazing story, GFC. You have an extraordinary guardian angel, there, and I’m glad you’re open to divine assistance, or you and many others might not be here now.

  4. Thanks Grunt. Sometimes I wonder if I can possibly portray what it is like accurately enough to give the reader an understanding of what we go through at a time like this. It always blows me away when I think about it. I try and remember it all the time lest I forget to listen to my Guardian Angel when I should. Also I will tell you from experience that when we sin our guardian angels shy away from us too. After all if we are in darkness they aren’t going to be around. It makes me shudder at the thought of not having him here by my side at all times.
    Just a thought for all those who drive; I say my prayers when I enter my vehicle every day. It is habbit and I have done this since I was old enough to drive. My father taught me that before he taught me how to drive. He has said his prayers every time he enters the car from the time he was married. He had an extremely bad accident when he was first married and the only thing to survive that demolished car that was hit by a semi-truck was my father and the statue of St. Michael the Arch Angel that was on his counsel and is still there today (the same one). My father walked away without a scrath.
    YEAH I PRAY AND I BELIEVE!!!!

    • I’m working on a series of angel stories for everyday life, GFC, and I can see I’ll have to ask you for some of yours, if you’re willing.

      • I am always willing to share wiyh a believer Grunt. I have had many interchanges with Bingo stating from a young age. I eventually learned, to some degree, how to lisyen to my guardian angel and that has saved me from countless bed things happening in my life and help others in theirs. Those who know me well know my guardian angel and how he works overtime protecting me in my life. He also has guided me to doing things ouy of the norm that have led me to the right place at the right time. I also kniw that sin drives him away from me. They are perfect beings and what offends God offends them also. I also believe in the darj angels such as lucifer that would like to take our life (spiritual one and physical one as well) to destroy all that is good. But that is another story huh?

      • Nice new gravatar, GFC! Love it!

    • freedom1781 says:

      “…I say my prayers when I enter my vehicle every day.”

      Me too! And I also pray for the idiots–er, I mean, other drivers–around me as well.

    • freedom1781 says:

      “…how to lisyen to my guardian angel…”

      GFC, how do you do this? I know my guardian angel is with me but I don’t listen very well to know when it is trying to tell me something.

      • Okay, I promise to work on a “How to listen to my Angel” segment and then I will post it. Just remeber that what I write is from personal experience and not from a book, however, I may use some old teachings that are proven techniques that help us “listen” to what it is we want to listen too.
        I will work on it and then I will post it here or hwere you want me to Grunt.

        Have a peaceful day.

      • Thanks for the response, GFC! When you get around to it, posting right here would be fine. If it’s all right with you both, I might build a formal post out of the conversation. In the meantime, let me pass along a quote from ZMalfoy from a conversation on her website:
        “When working with angels, rule #1 is that they are not God. One relates to them as dear and respected elder siblings, if anything.” I think I could agree to that, and I might also add that you do not need, nor should you attempt, to seek them out for any purpose except to ask for their prayers and protection, and even then it should be in the context of your prayers to the Lord God. I think Sharon has some good opinions and advice on the topic, and I’d invite her to add her own take on this when she gets a chance.

        In my experience, it’s your personal relationship with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that must come first. When you’re content to surrender your will to His, then you will slowly become aware of the constant action of the Holy Spirit all around you – in your life, the people around you, the physical world, even your job and in every breath you take and in every beat of your heart. Next you will start to see more clearly (what you see already) the actions of the Devil in the world, not as an independent creative being, but as a perverse, insatiable, twisting and destructive force.

        You will be amazed that you have ignored so much real, living, supernatural activity around you for so long. As long as you live in a state of grace, that is, in union with God and His will, you will also be aware that God uses his messengers to do His will, in defending and comforting us. As he allows, you may be permitted to see their actions, and you may be comforted by a touch or by words, but such things are rarely granted by request, except in extreme need. When you fall out of grace, which will happen daily, you will find yourself blind to all of this. There’s no sense begging God to bring you back. It is you who returns to Him. He never ceases to call out: “Come to Me.” Simply answer: “Amen. Let it be, Lord. I surrender.” When your eyes are opened again, the fear and desperation will be gone, and the way will be clear. When you see through God’s eyes, the eyes that see all the angels and all His good servants wherever they are, then you will also see them as you need to. But do not fear what He does not show you. Be assured that what you do not see, He sees perfectly well.

        I, personally, do not talk to my guardian angel (or angels), except to ask for protection and to gratefully pat the passenger seat next to me when I sense him riding shotgun. I’m assured of his existence by scripture, and I believe it, but nothing has been revealed to me about his name or any other detail. That’s all right with me. Maybe GFC can tell you more. I do have one instance, however, where I feel I was granted a vision of St. Michael after an incident with my son. I’ll add it below.

      • Sharon says:

        This could be a fun discussion with lots of blessings hanging on the side. Thanks for your kind comment, Grunt…..I just have a moment now to do a quick read, and for the moment will concur with your observation (including Zmalvoy) that angels are never to be seen as substitutes for (or avenues to) the care of the Father Himself, or the resources that are provided for in Christ. Hebrews 1:14 says “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”

        We’re warned in II Corinthians 11:14 that Satan can present himself as an angel of light, so it’s never safe to assume that angelic communication is always safe. There are evil angels whose intention is to deceive and destroy us. And it’s also true sometimes that believers don’t share their angel stories because of those concerns!—I’ve got a couple myself that I’ll toss in the mix when I have a little more time.

      • Can’t wait, Sharon. I second the caution, and add that St. Paul pointed out in scripture that ALL matters of the spirit must be tested as to their fruits, whether they be good or evil.

  5. Quick St. Michael story: Years ago we had an 18 month old son who was getting into a lot of trouble toddling around. He and his older brother (3yo) were at my sister’s place while my wife was helping paint a second story room. Inexplicably, the 3yo demanded that both women come downstairs and deal with 2 strange men who were standing in the courtyard outside the front door. Only problem was: no one was visible there. The women searched the courtyard while the kid insisted they were RIGHT THERE. Can’t you see them?

    The gals were deeply disturbed by this because they wanted to ignore it as a childish game, but he was dead serious, and I note that he’s never done anything like it before or since. Hesitantly, they climbed the stairs and resumed painting. Within minutes, the 18 month old suddenly climbed an appliance blocking the window and threw himself through the screen of the window 2 stories over the ground level courtyard, directly over where the invisibles had been standing. The women FLEW down the stairs and rushed to the side of the crumpled child who was gently sobbing on the ground.

    Long story short: I was called from work to the hospital to find our child screaming his head off while being secured to a CAT-scan tie-down board. Within an hour, the last trauma doctor shook his head and told us there was no evidence that this child had fallen at all, and we could go home. He had no bruises of any kind, and no concussion. Released from the doctors, he began to play as if nothing had happened. That night we all gathered to eat take-out chinese and talk about WTH had happened. During the meal the 3yo broke his silence to say how wonderful it was that “the angel” had caught his brother. We looked at each other, and remembered that only the 3yo had been in a position, chasing after his brother and looking out the window, to see him hit the ground. We questioned him endlessly, but he refused to say any more.

    After that, I wondered often how a spiritual being could physically “catch” a child. I was rewarded with an internal vision of St. Michael himself, bulging with muscles, and playfully wearing a catcher’s mitt and a big grin. My reaction was that we certainly did not deserve the intervention of the greatest of all the angels, the great chief of the Lord’s hosts. But then I remembered that my son (who fell) and I both shared the middle name of Michael, for a reason. He’s now in his mid teens, and he’s the most devoutly Christian boy I’ve ever met. We both continue to have a devotion to the good angel with the big muscles and a very good eye for falling children.

    • As an epilogue to this story, I’ll note that it’s disturbing to some when things like this happen. As ZMalfoy remarked once: “I’m glad your boy was being looked out for. It’s hard to understand why such intervention happens in some cases, but not in others. I suppose we should just be thankful when it does.” My response is that, as C.S Lewis pointed out, reality is more complex than we might first suppose:
      About why my son was saved and others were not is a good question and it’s the one everyone asks. But it’s never troubled me. As Jesus said, the Devil has demanded to sift ALL of us, and sift us he HAS. The Good Lord has allowed our family to suffer greatly, and I know that it must be so, just like He had to suffer on Calvary, in order to pay off our debt. But he has assured us that good comes of it if we remain faithful, and He has made that clear to us in many ways. He’s also made it clear that He ONLY allows what suffering is just, or that helps to purge us, and in any case, there is NO suffering that his Love cannot erase from our hearts and memories. I have no doubt that if it had been necessary, for reasons known only to Him, he would have allowed our son to be killed that day. But it was not part of the plan. I believe it was instead his plan to show my sister, who had dabbled in the occult and had lost much of her faith, that He and His angels are stronger than the forces of darkness that were haunting her at the time. As St. Pio said, there are no coincidences, and there was a reason that our innocent 3-year-old saw two men, dressed in black, standing outside my sister’s door that day. She had been sensing an evil presense for weeks. It wasn’t for our benefit that our son was plucked from certain death. And he wasn’t the only one saved that day. Now, what’s so hard to figure out about that?

      • Sharon says:

        The original piece you wrote here, Grunt, is so hefty for the mind and spirit. I realize I need to reread it all….won’t happen today, I don’t think. But your comment here as well is great stuff. One of the major things that will bring us peace, as we yield to God in the matter, is our heartfelt, faith-based acknowledgment of His Sovereignty. And stop asking Him to explain Himself. In a sense, He did “explain Himself” – in Christ. But in another sense, which Christ made reference to at times in dealing with the Pharisees and picky-pickies, if he did “fully explain Himself”–are we really so clueless to think that we would somehow then say, “Oh. Thank you. Now I see.” Good grief. The Apostle John, in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (just LOVE using the full title of that particular book…) in the first chapter got a good plain view of Jesus, the Christ–whom he had known in person, whom he trusted and loved and exalted—and the day that happened John did not say, “Wow, thanks, Lord. I really appreciate this. It explains a lot.” No. He fell on his face as though dead. We do well to bow before His sovereignty, hearts quaking in gratitude for His unspeakable kindness toward us.

      • Sharon says:

        Sometimes I think that we ought to consider a different question: “Why does He intervene to save or help anyone?” In some specific cases, Scripture also clearly explains why God will NOT intervene to “help” or “deliver” every person in every situation. There are many understandable reasons for some situations.

  6. If I am a firm believer (whcih I pray I am) and if My Sweet Lord decides to take one of my childrens lives while they are yet young, I must believe that His will to have my child in Heaven with Him is more important than mine in having him here on earth where always stands the posibility of a loss of Grace and Light. His Mercy is beyound my reasoning and God is Good!

  7. St. Anthony the Great (251-356) Wrote;
    When you are behind closed doors of your dwelling you should know that there is present with you the angel whom God has appointed for each man; the Greeks called him the personal daemon. This angel, who is sleeples and cannot be deceived, is always present with you; he sees all things and is not hindered by darkness. You should know, too, that with him is God, who is in every place; for there is no place and nothing material in which God is not, since He is greater than all things and holds all men in His hand.

  8. Angel
    While perusing the blog of a cousin of mine, I noticed a post for the Feast of Guardian Angels on Oct 2:
    http://thesouloftheapostolate.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/feast-day-of-the-holy-guardian-angels/
    She notices that angels are mentioned in Scripture 320 times!

  9. Sharon says:

    Two angel stories–the first is our son’s (when he was 5 years old); the second is my aunt’s.

    1. The epicenter of the 1971 Sylmar Quake in the San Fernando Valley was about 5 miles from our house in Van Nuys. DH and I struggled to get through the hallway to the bedroom where our 3 and 5 year old sons were. He got down by one bed and put his body over the one; I got down by the other and did the same. When things finally stopped, the whole world within 30 miles was pretty shook up; lots of serious damage; loss of life (my cousin was an RN at the Olive View Hospital where one whole end of the building fell off). No one went to work that day. We spent the day gathering our wits mostly. The next day, our oldest son said, “Mommy, are those men coming back?” I responded like most parents who are tired of trying to answer mysterious questions, and gave a non-answer, because I had no idea what he was talking about. But he persisted, “Mommy, aren’t those men coming back?” When I realized he wasn’t going to drop it, I said, “What men?” He replied, “The men who came to the house yesterday.” Ah! Now I can really be “parental” because I knew no one had come to our house the day of the quake, “No, J, there were no men at the house yesterday. Remember–after we got up from the quake, we went to the park.” “No, Mommy, I mean the men who were there DURING the earthquake.” (goosebumps right there)… and I questioned him very, very quietly, because I didn’t want to lead his answers,…..so I tried to ask casual and curious-like, “I don’t remember. What did they look like?” (He’s a little exasperated now….) “Mommy, they were the great big men wearing the white dresses. One of them stood at the end of E’s bed and one stood at the end of my bed.”

    So I explained to him, of course, that they were the angels that God sent to take care of him and his brother. Later on, I explained to him that often people standing around those who are being cared for angels don’t see the angels, and that was why I didn’t understand what he was talking about.

    2. In 1993, I picked up my elderly aunt in Fargo, ND to take her with to Montana to visit my mother (her sister). As we drove, we shared so many wonderful memories regarding how God had blessed our families over the years. She and her husband had thought so much of my Dad, and she shared some stories about that. Then she talked about how she and her husband, in their retirement years, had often spent days driving around the back roads of Montana (yeah, I know—that means most of the roads in Montana)….this was WAY before cell phones. They were often in very isolated areas, and while they tried to be wise about the maintenance of the car so they wouldn’t get stranded, it happened one day, of course. They were pulled off on a desolate and isolated stretch of country road 50 miles from nowhere, unpaved, no traffic at ALL. Her husband worked on the car for some time, and they were getting a little concerned. But he kept working at it and thought he would get it fixed. (He wasn’t all that handy about vehicles, so they were concerned.) They always trusted God for His care in their lives and this was no different.

    After he had worked some time, a man driving a truck came by, saw their situation, and pulled over and got out. He walked to them, just asking what the problem was, etc. and made conversation. She said he was wearing normal country/farm clothing, was a tall and fine looking man, and spoke to them so kindly. Then he said he would stay there until they were sure the vehicle was ready to go again. So after a bit, my uncle did indeed get it running, checked it out and it seemed all was back in order. So my aunt was still standing and talking with the kind gentlemen, while uncle slammed the hood down, picked up his tools and made ready to start it up to leave. She explained to me that she was standing about 20 feet from their car talking with the man. He just said, “Well, it looks like you folks are ready to go.” He turned to get back into his truck. She began to walk toward the car to join her husband, and after a couple of steps, turned to call “Goodby” and “thank you” one more time. There was no truck there. There was no man there. There had been no sound of a truck leaving in the 2-3 seconds intervening. So there ya go: an angel with a truck. (don’t know if it had a gun rack–probably not)

    God’s care for us is so fine. So very, very fine.

    My aunt told me she could tell me many more stories like that. He loves His people! That’s all there’s to it!

    • Two amazing and moving accounts, Sharon. Beautifully told. Thank you!

      I know that the angels watching over children stories, like your #1, are especially touching, but I’m very fond of the angels in desolate places stories like your aunt’s. Don’t know why. Perhaps because it’s so hard to believe, when you’re out in the faraway wastes, that you’re still not alone.

  10. Menagerie says:

    To accomplish this in our own hearts, we may have to bust a few more myths. [To be continued…]

    I hope you do indeed continue this someday, Grunt. It is a wonderful post, and I will be back to absorb it, as I have to do sometimes. Thank you.

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