Fr George Rutler over at Crisis Magazine writes about denial in relation to the shooting in Orlando in the context of civilizational decline.
Denial is the typical first stage of learning that one is dying, and that applies to our culture. It certainly is so of Christian culture in many places, sometimes the result of lassitude as in Europe and harshly so in places of outright persecution, as in the Middle East. While the Christian population has been in steady decline for well over a decade, particular countries like Syria and Iraq have experienced a more rapid exodus due to terrorism and war.
Western commentators who find this inconvenient for their narrative, deny this not by outright refutation but simply by blithe ignorance. In recent weeks, little publicity was given to the burning alive of nineteen kidnapped Yazidi girls in metal cages. Or, of relevance to us at this moment, the throwing from a cliff of a man after gouging out his eyes and skinning him alive by the Taliban, Afghan militants at war with the U.S. who enjoy the support of Omar Mateen’s father. Mr. Seddique Mateen, a Sunni Pashtun who also promotes himself for the presidency of Afghanistan, denies that his son is a practicing homosexual. But these facts also frustrate the popular media who have portrayed the slaughter in Orlando as an argument for compromising the Second Amendment and proof that Christianity has created an environment hostile to sexual ambiguity.
Included is this historical tidbit.
In August of 1219 Saint Francis of Assisi went to Egypt and confronted the Muslim caliph at Damietta along the banks of the Nile, which is that river in Egypt. Contrary to some revisionist accounts, he thoroughly supported the Fifth Crusade, five thousand of whose crusaders had been slain by Muslims just four days before, and he boldly urged the Muslims to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
There is great denial regarding the brutality we are up against. A psychiatrist who used to blog under the name of Dr. Sanity has a great archive on psychological defences, such as denial and displacement regarding the fear engendered by the horrors of barbaric behavior by radical Islamists and how instead it was displaced onto George W Bush. You could poke your finger in his eye and not get beheaded or blown up, she argued. She stopped blogging in 2012. Her archive does not show up on her blog, but if you use a search engine and put in her name “Dr Sanity” and “denial” or “displacement” you will find the posts.
And then this piece by traditionalist Catholic historian Roberto de Mattei posted at Rorate Caeli on the meaning of poverty—and of what constitutes a poor Church for the poor since the Second Vatican Council.
The study to which Professor Cuniberto subjects the texts is that of a scholar who attempts to understand the basic theses, often concealed by deliberately concise and ambiguous language. On the theme of poverty, Cuniberto, brings to light two contradictions: the first is of a theological-doctrinal nature; the second of a practical nature.
In regard to the first point, he notes that Pope Francis, in contrast to what the Gospel infers, makes of poverty a material condition more than a spiritual one, thus transforming it into a sociological category. These exegeses appear, for example, in the choice of citing for the Sermon on the Mount on the Beatitudes, Luke 6, 20 and not the more precise Mathew 5, 3 (which uses the term “pauperes spiritu” that is, those who live humbly before God). Poverty, though, seems to be simultaneously an evil and a good. In fact, Cuniberto notes, “if poverty as material misery, exclusion and abandonment, is indicated from the very start as an evil to combat – not to say the evil of all evils – and is thus the primary objective of missionary action”, the new Christological significance that Francesco gives it “makes it contemporarily a value and, even more – the supreme and exemplary value.” We are dealing here, the philosopher stresses, with a complicated muddle. “Why combat poverty and uproot it when it is, on the contrary, a ‘precious treasure’, and even the way to the Kingdom? Is it an enemy to combat or a precious treasure?”(pp. 25-26).