Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Distinquishing the Pseudo from the Real

Pseudo is a word we attach to anything that is not true, not genuine a sham. Often used in respect to adherents of some teaching, politics, religion in a pejorative way. We are dealing with the phony the bogus and the tragedy is most of the followers are sincere.

Catholicism has always been a little skeptical about experiences that were distant from the reality in which we live. In the encyclical of Pius X on the Doctrines of the Modernists, the following are the words we read. 

"This is their manner of putting the question: In the religious sentiment one must recognize a kind of intuition of the heart which puts man in immediate contact with the very reality of God, and infuses such a persuasion of God's existence and His action both within and without man as to excel greatly any scientific conviction. They assert, therefore, the existence of a real experience, and one of a kind that surpasses all rational experience. If this experience is denied by some, like the rationalists, it arises from the fact that such persons are unwilling to put themselves in the moral state which is necessary to produce it. It is this experience which, when a person acquires it, makes him properly and truly a believer."

This is not the understanding of religion or the way we are to come to the truth that a Catholic would accept. We see how this understanding permits the unlimited possibility of beliefs and tragedies that result from jettisoning our mental faculties. Sincerity is an admirable quality but it does not take the place of truth.

In the Catholic Times, a member of a pastoral research team gives us his ideas on the pseudo ideas that are prevalent in our society. He recalls seeing on a wall the words: "Make the abnormal, normal." A wry smile came to his face for he remembers the past and the ways we tried to justify many of the actions of the government.

He recalls the words of Confucius who was greatly opposed to the pseudo for it distorted the meaning of justice and truth. The writer considers the Sewol tragedy a case where we see distortion, fabrication, and concealment-- no transparency. However, the time has come where the darkness will give way to the light and lies to the truth.

In the time of Jesus, we also had pseudo teachings and teachers. They worked against the welcoming and solidarity of the community and brought in idols that restricted freedom.

Jesus came to remove the chaos and replace it with the cosmos. In these times of upheaval, we drink new wine from new wine skins and pray for the eyes to see what is phony. We need to ask for the gift of wisdom to distinguish the pseudo from the real.