The video below is a kind of allegory on the truth. In the video the truth is symbolized by a “Lutin” an small caretaker of a house who orders everything and keeps it clean. And this is what truth does.
Enter a woman, harsh and mean. She has just bought the house and enters upon on it. Disdain is written all over her.
She is a symbol for the modern West and those who reject truth and disdainfully hurl overboard even the most obvious parameters of truth in the Natural Law, let alone the truth of the Scripture.
Observing the house all in order, she moves through scoffing. To her it is old, outdated, and she begins to disrupt its order. Her first encounter with truth, symbolized by Lutin, is to see him, wince, conclude he is ugly, and throw him in the trash.
But the truth won’t be so easily shown the door! I am mindful of an old quote by, of all people, Elvis Presley who said, Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.
Truth, the Lutin, responds by returning quietly and restoring order as she moves about disrupting and disdaining the order and sanity of the house. Yes, he does so quietly at first. But seeing this woman is a hard case he reveals himself and offers her his hand in friendship. She rejects him and continues her destructive rampage, seeking to oust him and his influence.
He seeks her conversion by issuing various small punishments, hoping to bring her to her senses and then once again offers friendship. But outraged she seeks only to kill him. Sadly she succeeds. But in killing the truth, she sees the destruction of everything. For truth had sustained the house and ordered it. Now, having wholly and finally rejected the truth, complete destruction and chaos ensues. All order is lost and fundamental structures collapse.
Welcome to the 21st Century West which, having rejected the most basic and fundamental truths about God, the sacredness of human life, the meaning of human sexuality, marriage, and family, and the need for self-control, is seeing all the basic structures collapse. Of these times Jesus said:
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matt 7:26-27)
Here is a video that powerfully illustrates the Lord’s warning.
And of Lutin, the personified truth quietly at work sustaining and ordering the home, I am mindful of a quote on the truth by the Ancient Philospoher of India, Chanakya: The earth is supported by the power of truth; it is the power of truth that makes the sun shine and the winds blow; indeed all things rest upon truth.
Surely for us Christians we know the Truth of whom Chanakya speaks: Jesus, who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He is the Logos, who sustains all things in Himself showing forth the logike (logic) and order in all things. (cf John 1: 3; Col 1:17).
Did this Woman, successfully kill the truth? Of course not. But the truth is dead to her and she suffers the consequences of the dismissal she has made. And thus for us in the West, God is still calling, reaching out the hand of truth. But, like this woman, we in the West are experiencing the increasing consequences of our collective rejection, even hatred of the truth revealed by God in his Word, Sacred Tradition, and in his creation.
And though perchance the West does fully collapse, yet the truth lives on. The truth will out. I am mindful of the words of the Dr. Martin Luther King:
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
Enjoy and learn from the video.
26 Replies to “An Allegory of the Truth and an Important Warning in a Creative Video”
Apologetics aimed at convincing Protestants of the Truth didn’t work very well in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and they don’t seem to be working very well with our 21st century religious indifferentists either. What we need, Monsignor, is an apologetic that speaks to the unrecognized yearnings of the 21st century heart: the yearning for justice, for good fellowship and good cheer, for beauty. The Church has all these things, and has them in abundance. Natural law theory? It’s plausible, just as are the various proofs for the existence of God, but plausibility is not certainty, at least not for 21st century mankind. If Aquinas’s arguments for the Truth of the existence of God were persuasive, rather than merely suasive, then we’d have few atheists or agnostics indeed, and few people who were religiously indifferent. Instead we find ourselves surrounded by a raging sea of hostility to faith and to the Church. A new apologetic is needed.
Re the Protestants (sucha diverse and divergent group) two thoughts occur. The Liberal Mainliners are going away fading to nothing, or something so small as to be irrelevant. The Evangelicals I think will grow closer to Catholics mainly due to the old adage: “Fighting brothers reconcile when a maniac is at the door.”
The Evangelicals have surprised me more than once. Their faith is astounding and they LIVE it. Some come very close to Catholicism in so many ways. At least i can say they are not lukewarm nor are they hesitant to live their evangelical lives trying to bring souls back to Christ. I have learned so much from them.
Thomas Gallagher, you greatly underestimate the power of willful ignorance and the metaphysical ruptures that began with nominalism and continued through the “Enlightenment,” protestantism, and positivism. Thomistic metaphysics and natural law are as necessary as they ever were — there is just a lot of systemic hostility toward them that is built into Western thought. We shouldn’t abandon these pillars of truth in favor of “justice, good fellowship and good cheer, and beauty.” We should live them and teach them in a way that shows how they are intrinsically related to those qualities you mentioned. Our previous two popes, great teachers that they were (and more familiar with the Balthasaarian approach that you mention than you or I ever will be), both taught that Thomistic metaphysics and natural law were indispensable in our subjectivist modern age. A new evangelization is needed, but it needs to involve salvaging these pillars of truth that you call suasive.
BmTh, have you ever met a single person who was converted from agnosticism or atheism to Christianity by having Aquinas’s arguments for the existence of God patiently explained to him or her? I have never met one. Perhaps you have, and I’ll defer to your experience if you have done so. One point of fact, however: you are incorrect in asserting that Pope Benedict XVI claimed that Thomistic metaphysics were necessary to the modern world: read his “Introduction to Christianity” for lengthy strictures against Aquinas: whose philosophy he argued is too pat, too ready with boilerplate answers to difficult questions. Amen, Benedict.
I find your posture to Thomas puzzling, since I don’t think that the advancing of Thomistic arguments IS a common approach of the Church today. Most moderns, including the typical Parish priest or catechist simply do not have the sophistication or philosophical background to understand, let alone repeat Thomas Aquinas. That said, in certain more rarefied circles, I do know Catholic converts who have been very impressed, even converted by the Catholic intellectual Tradition, to include Thomas. Isn’t there enough room in the world for different approaches?
I also rather doubt that Pope Ratzinger, even in his earlier years would have used words like “pat” and “boilerplate.” At the time he wrote that book of course, there was an existent critique of Thomas in most academic circles. But the Church has since returned more to him as did Benedict.
That said, It seems valid to say that the place for Thomas is not firstly in Kerygmatic evangelization. Rather he is more foundational and to be found in systematic theology and higher level discussions.
Yet this must be clear, one of the glories of Catholicism is the “hoary crown” of her intellectual tradition which has in fact brought many fine academics, both Protestant and atheist, into the Church. Just watch a few episodes of the “Journey Home” to appreciate that.
Many thanks, Monsignor, for your clarification of the role of formal arguments in evangelization. I’m sure it comes from your experience as a priest as well as from your philosophical thinking. I too watch Marcus Grodi’s “The Journey Home.” It’s astonishing how many of the program’s guests have been converted by reading the Church Fathers. Read the Fathers, Blessed John Henry Newman said, and they will lead you back to Rome. I don’t recall hearing very many of the guests talk of the scholastic tradition as an influence upon them, except perhaps for guests who were lapsed-and-returned Catholics. P. S. The word boilerplate is mine, not Pope Benedict’s, but in “Introduction to Christianity” he quotes Emil Brunner: to equate the God of faith with the God of the philosophers is to turn the Biblical conception of God on its head and substitute a definition of God in place of the God who is “not-to-be-defined.” Benedict goes on to show a close connection between the God of Faith and the God of the Philosophers (his words, not mine,) in keeping with the Catholic intellectual tradition, but then he sharply distinguishes (Ignatius Press edition, pp. 146-148) the ways in which the God of the Philosophers differs from, and falls short of, the God of Faith: Our God is pure Love, and thus “truth and love are originally identical . . . where they are completely realized they are not two parallel or even opposing realities but one, the one and only absolute.” All I’m suggesting is that if we want to show this God of Love to 21st century man, we must go beyond an appeal to truth . . . to appeal to the deepest longings of the human heart. This means reaching well beyond the philosophical demonstration of God’s existence.
OK, but beware of false dichotomies, such as saying that an appeal to truth is somehow divorced from the deepest longings of the human heart. There are diverse things necessary there are many approaches that work in different settings and for different people. Its no either/or scenario here.
You’re absolutely right, Monsignor, and right to insist that different approaches work for different people. That’s precisely what I’ve been arguing! I don’t think I’ve fallen into dichotomous thinking at all. Part of the genius of our Catholic Faith is that there is One Way, One Truth, One LIfe, but a thousand different ways of approaching Him.
The equation of truth and love is not a critique of Thomism at all, nor is it Benedict’s critique at this point in the text. For Thomas, as for all the scholastics, there is a convertibility of the transcendentals, in other words, “truth and love are identical.” This is the ground of the Summa, the Summa Contra Gentiles, and of de Veritate. This is not to say that the very Augustinian Benedict does not have a critique of Thomisim, its just that this isn’t it.
Intelligent Design is the Fifth Way given by St. Thomas Aquinas. Even though many Evangelicals aren’t aware that the argument goes back to Aquinas, they don’t tire of voicing it. I trot out his First Way often enough to people.
I’m afraid you are mistaken. For a great overview of the fith way fifth way church out Edward Feser’s book titled Aquinas. But I will try my best to tackle it here. For a brief comparison between the two, ill attempt to shed some light. The intelligent design (ID) states that things are so complex and extremely intricate that there is no way a God could not be possible. Take for example someone coming across a watch. looking upon the watch and seeing how complex it is, the persion would think that there must be a watchmaker. they apply the same this analogically to the universe.
Now on the outside the fifth proof of God’s existence by St. Thomas Aquinas does sound allot like intelligent design but it comes down to a very important difference, and that is the metaphysical understanding of nature. Aquinas shows that each individual thing (substance) has in it’s very nature a final end. An example is that the eye’s final end is to see, or the final end of your heart is to pump blood. This should come as no surprise as the philosophy of St Thomas (and his predecessor Aristotle) are built on common sense. Now the problem with ID is that they reject this metaphysical understanding of the world. An important point to remember is that Aquinas wanted to prove that God is necessary here and now!! Not that he could set the world up and them let it run, but that for there to be anything God must be, and be holding the universes in existence. ID holds that God could step back or out if the picture. Aquinas states that that’s inconceivable because God must be there to direct the object to its final end.
This I hope, helps even though I’m sure I butchered that explanation.
The Truth will set us free but to get free is going to really hurt. We in the west just have too much stuff. We have forgotten what real suffering and what looks like. If it were possible to take every American and drop each in a favela in Brazil. A shanty town beside a sewage filled river maybe. How many of us would not go crazy but the people who live there now know what life is really about. Short of a disaster I don’t know how we fix this trend. It wouldn’t happen of course but maybe a law that requires every couple in America to adopt a child or two from the impoverished populations around the world even in some parts of the US. We would give those children a chance and the new “parents” would see first hand what the lack of truth means. Instead of the latest version of game console, a family with a safe home, clothes that are reasonably clean and a class room where the teacher doesn’t have to worry about being killed for not teaching the way the government wants.
A starting point would be for everyone (Catholic or not) to do a real examination on conscience. Thank you Msgr. Pope for making me stop and think. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa
Great video, and spot on analysis but I saw another side to it. No wonder the woman did not want to take the hand of truth when his first act was reactive and punitive! No wonder she saw him as a threat! It’s a good reminder that to present the truth in any effective way, it’s best to have a relationship with the person and there is a real role for cheek-turning. This week a friend of mine from Maine was in town and confided over dinner that she and her partner of 25 years had “married.” It took a lot of courage to do that because she knows my position on the subject. I suppose I could have been cold and upbraiding–and felt a little guilt for not at least saying something to the effect of “you know that’s wrong, don’t you?”– but instead I told her I was glad that she had someone with whom to share a deep friendship. Conversation continued and she pointed out she knew she hadn’t entered into the sacrament but saw no other way to sort out such things as taxes, inheritance and–most importantly–to ensure that the person most important in her life would be able to visit her in hospital…something that, if we Christians had acted out of charity in developing visitation rules –rather than power and right–would never have happened. We ended the conversation with my invitation back to Church–she was raised Catholic–to find that she really is welcome and the there is much there for her to love in return. If she takes me up, of course, change is inevitable–but first she must feel welcome to come in the door. It’s a fine line between confrontation and charity and which works best when….it’s that great both and again!
Well to push back a little on the expectation that we need to varnish the truth etc. There’s an old saying, that “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” And this fact is pretty clear that, at the dawn of reason little children often receive the truth with irritability and a sulking attitude that they must share and that there are actually other people with legitimate needs. I suppose your point and mine need to balance each-other.
As for the video, I don’t agree that the first interaction was negative. His first act is to appear silently as a welcoming sentinel and she reacts by throwing him in the trash. He still stays silent and tidies up behind her and only then has the moose shock her and he trips her up as a mild humiliation.
I agree–our views balance each other (you did see that I said you were spot on, right?) . I do not think we are to varnish the truth, but I do think we ought to do our best to say it when and how it has the best chance of being received in so far as that is possible. Sometimes that is in a confrontational way, sometimes not.
It’s also interesting to me that you see his being silent at the staircase as an interaction and I suppose it is in a way—but the first time she actually sees him as something (one?) real with which (whom?) she can interact is when he trips her up, then sticks her feet in the floor–and then extends his hand in friendship. Different perspectives again, perhaps still to be in balance. (And just for the record, not sure I consider a backward fall mild humiliation….that may be my age speaking…) Thanks for a wonderful post that was the subject of much discussion at our adult ed class this morning!
You might be able to extend the analogy to cover this distinction: the truth seems like a passive thing, easy to mistake as no more than an ornament – until we start working against it. Then we see it when it bites us in the bum, so to speak, and may then think that it is attacking us rather than simply “defending itself,” so to speak. (Since in the video offenses against the order of things and direct assaults on the truth are one in the same.)
Interesting video, Monsignor!
A huge part of our society’s problem is public education. I know you have touched on this subject numerous times, but it bears repeating – people do not know how to think. And they don’t know how to think because they were never trained. Very few people understand the concept of truth, and very few people are searching for it. Very few people realize how irrational they are.
We live in a society where everyone wants to be “open-minded” … to avoid any accusations of being “closed-minded”! But the purpose of keeping an open mind is to test things, and to search for truth (“what is” as opposed to “what is not”). The goal though, is to FIND it, and end the search – as opposed to never finding anything and just being open to everything!
In our schools, children are being taught “multiculturalism”, “diversity” and “tolerance”. They are being taught “what’s true for you may not be true for me” (“relativism”) This way of thinking and teaching has originated in our universities, where teachers are trained. Is it any wonder our teens are lost and confused? Is it any wonder our society is upside-down?
As you rightly point out, however, the truth will out!
The video could have been visual adaptation of chapter VIII in Orthodoxy, “The Romance of Orthodoxy” by GK Chesterton. After a thorough deconstruction of the deniers of truth, this is how it ends:
“…Not only is the faith the mother of all worldly energies, but its foes are the fathers of all worldly confusion. The secularists have not wrecked divine things; but the secularists have wrecked secular things, if that is any comfort to them. The Titans did not scale Heaven; but they laid waste the world.”
Reminds me of something G. K. Chesterton said. I can’t remember his exact words or where he said them, but it was something to this effect: we might receive a playground only to discover that there is no one who remembers or knows how to play. Maybe she fought and battled, scrimped and saved to buy the house, only to discover that she didn’t know how to live in a house. The little dude in the house made me think of the natural law, which is the same as calling him truth.–or love. Without the spirit of the house, the house won’t stay standing. What happens in the sequel to this video?
Beatiful allegory. This time you overcame yourself. I loved the post.
Loved your “fighting brothers will reconcile when there’s a maniac at the door” so true
and gives us hope.
Interesting that the woman’s first reaction to Lutin was scorn, and that she immediately dumped him into the trash. He was in a friendly and welcoming pose, but she wanted no part of him. Perhaps because he is homely and unfashionable.
In the eyes of many, the Truth offered by the Church is both homely and unfashionable, and should be dumped unceremoniously in the trash. How sad for all of us…Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
It’s an interesting choice to portray the modern West as a feminist.
I had the same thought. It made me think of C.S. Lewis’s description of the West as a bitter, angry divorcee.
I am Thomas’s son. This Lutin is obviously a figure of Christ, and the allegory cogently captures the situation. I lament the moral decline of the West in its haste for “freedoms.” The only true freedom comes from doing the will of God.
If the West is to survive, I believe we need another Great Awakening as has happened in US history. This time let us hope that more Americans will follow the truth espoused by the New Evangelization of the Catholic Church. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the USA became predominately Catholic in all the Church’s riches?
As a Jesuit priest pointed out to me recently, Jesus had a lot of influence, yet he couldn’t convert the Roman Empire. While five hundred years later his seed planted in the Church did convert the Roman Empire. Let’s join together as Christian brothers and sisters behind the banner of Truth and Love to bring the West to its knees.
Msgr. Pope, thank you for the allegory. Whatever philosopher you choose to support the truth with works so long as he brings you to Christ. You do an admirable job of defending truth as the medicine the West needs to get its house in order.
Comments are closed.