Category Archives: Anthropology

The War of 2 Tongues

1280px-Disputa_con_los_doctores_(El_Veronés)_grande
The Child Jesus preaching in the Temple.

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The purpose of human language is to communicate truth.

This is saying which is agreed upon by nearly every member of humanity. But we often forget how profound its implications are.

Saint Thomas says, that the truth of which we speak here, is the right relation between the human mind and reality as it is.  The discovery of truth, then, is the discovery of the right way to understand the reality which is around us or inside us.

But we often forget the other word in this universal definition of human language: communicate.  “Communicate” is word which comes from the Latin verb meaning “to build up together” or to “to share gifts with one another”.  In the definition of human language we see the profound social aspect of speaking and its goals on the level of society: sharing and the promotion of the perfection of one another.  The communication of truth therefore is the fulfillment of the inherent goals both of communication and of truth.

What I have just written could be called the philosophical or anthropological principles of human language. Not just of any one particular human language, but of all human language.

The other tongue

An individual human language is also called a “tongue” from the fact that each language requires for its proper enunciation a way of enunciation which is habitual and requires the tongue which speaks it to adapt accordingly.

But there is another sense of the word, “tongue”, which I want to employ here: this is the sense in which the word means not one kind of human speech, but an entire different philosophy or definition of human language.

Because just as human language according to its natural or proper definition is a set of spoken sounds, which can be recorded in written forms, for the sake of communicating truth, so, if one changes the final purpose of human language, one, as it were, gives birth to an entirely different tongue, on account its altered purpose.

And such a tongue exists. And it has a name, not from its human author, but analogously from the first being which used communication for another purpose: Satan.

Satanic language is a system of communication for the purpose of sharing falsehood, and not for building up or the sharing of gifts, but for tearing down and theft and robbery, and ultimately for murder.  As Christ said of its author:  “Who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning” (cf. John chapter 8: read this whole chapter to see both Tongues at work)

This other tongue, since it is not creative except of deception — as it has no other reason for being — uses the words of human language and creates new words which serve to hide the lie under the appearance of truth.  We can easily recognize these lying words, because of their novelty, and not just any novelty, but a novelty used to overthrow the words which have been used from the beginning.

Every tongue gives birth to its own Culture

Now it is a fact of reality and a truth of anthropology that every unique tongue gives rise to  unique culture. This is because the language according to which we speak is the default form for our way of thinking and perceiving.  And hence every language gives birth to its own culture: every language, not only in the sense of modes of human speech, but also in the sense of which I speak here, of the two purposes of speech.

The summit and perfection, the culmination and fulfillment of every language finds itself and its salvation in Christ, and in particular, in the preaching of the Gospel, the good news, which is the greatest gift we can share verbally and the greatest truth we can communicate.

The characteristic of a human language which is thus baptized is that it means what it says and says what it means, and both in the most profound way. We see this in Sacred Scripture, where though the Hebrew Language was chosen by God to prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah, it speaks in vagaries and in a dark and obscure manner, quite unlike the Koine Greek which the Apostles sanctified for the preaching of the Gospel, which reveals clearly and openly the Salvation which comes from the Incarnation of the Eternal Word of the Father. Shadow passes to light, figure and prophecy to reality and fulfillment.

This is true even on the historical level. Because in very many such cultures, it was the preaching of the Gospel which gave rise to the historical forms of their human languages or at least fixed them in written form as a monument to the ages, and provided a millennial bridge from one generation to the next for the preservation of meaning and signification.  We can see this especially in the Latin language, which once understood can grasp the meaning of what writers from the 5th century before Christ to the 19th century after the birth of Christ are saying.  We see this especially in languages which had their birth or genesis after the preaching of the Gospel, as for example, English, a language which in its present form knew not disbelief until disbelief was introduced from another land.

The tongue of Satan also gives rise to its own culture. We can see this in the way those who oppose the Gospel have ever acted: denying the plain meaning of words, denying that words have meaning, denying that words mean things different than other words.  This attack on human language is a necessary technique of that Tongue which serves to break down the other by the employment of deception.

This technique gave rise to a false and misleading way of reading the Old Testament, so as to convince all who read it to deny that Christ was its fulfillment. It created an entire commentary on the Old Testament filled with vain and false tales and strange and novel doctrines which aimed all with that same purpose.  This way of denying Scripture gave birth to a sect in which attacking the good and attacking Christianity was a practiced habit of mind and speech.

All peoples, however, who abandon Jesus Christ and all groups who reject Him, must follow in the same path, because you cannot reject Incarnate Truth without attacking the truth incarnate in every word and speech or thought of mind.

Thus we see this Other Tongue in action in the errors of Nominalism (the philosophical position which says that words do not name anything real), Modernism (the theological heresy which holds that everything in religion comes from sentiment, not God) and the global push for a new form of humanity, divorced from reality and wantonly joined to unnatural falsehoods.

This war of two tongues is most evident in the fight to defend the life of children in the womb and at birth. The entire maniacal and diabolic industry of death and genocide makes its every move on the turn of the meaning of an old word or the invention of a new word to conceal their murderous intent.

Another recent example of this war is the recent study by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, in which the destruction of Sodom is insisted to be a punishment for a lack of hospitality not for a lack of chastity. Still another, is seen in the verbal gymnastics used to insist that Benedict resignation were valid or conformable to the Code of Canon Law also gives rise to entirely new words (Bennyvacantism) used to conceal lies and entirely new ways of reading Canon Law (munus = ministerium), Catholic Doctrine (infallibility does not prevent a heretical pope), or the Bible (the Gates will not prevail means they can succeed some times), which are invented solely for one purpose, to deny the truth.

The war between Satan and Saint Michael the Archangel began with a war of communication with entirely two different tongues. The war of cultures among men also has its source in a war of Two Tongues. I hope, therefore, that this post enables you to discern these Two Tongues and these Two Cultures better. Of them Saint Augustine wrote eloquently in his Book on the City of God, in which he spoke of Two cities: one founded on the love of God unto the contempt of all other things, and the other founded upon the love of self unto the contempt of God.

 

 

How to eSquander your Civilization

In the Last 60 years, there has been a profusion of writers lamenting the collapse of Western Civilization. Whether measured by the statistics of increased crime, increased family problems, loss of virtues, political or economic or ecclesiastical instability, most Catholic and Christian thinkers are in agreement. Western Civilization is in decline.

A google search for “the Decline of Western Civilization” seems to bolster this observation: 147,000 search results for this exact phrase, and this, in English only.

Butler Shaffer expressed a common, popular conception of this decline when. in 2009, he observed

It is interesting — albeit not pleasant — to witness the collapse of Western civilization. A vibrant system that once was productive of the material and intangible values supportive of human well-being, has reached a terminal state. Civilizing principles and practices that found sufficient — albeit inconstant — expression in Western societies, have deteriorated into an acceptance of corruption — provided it is carried out in high places — and the celebration of violence — provided it is directed against plausible categories of wrongdoers. In such ways has the multi-trillion dollar looting of taxpayers on behalf of an entrenched corporate-state plutocracy combined with the ongoing conduct of endless wars against endless enemies to send a morally, intellectually, and economically bankrupt culture to an awaiting black hole.

The editor of the Rogue Government Blog, wrote in 2010, that the collapse of Western Civilization was a complex consequence of non-rational political and social actors. He founds his analysis upon the observation that civilization is based upon, what he calls, “rational self-interest”, and that when the general population fails to cultivate this, internal order in the society fails, and the civilization collapses:

If reasonable men can agree to these rules, then society can become prosperous and enjoyable. If they reject them, then man is locked into a constant political war for resources. These ideas and ideals can be categorized as “rational self-interest” and extended to imply not only political but also economic principles. Rational self-interest entails mutual cooperation and trade of the fruits of one’s freely chosen labor so that people in a just societal order can pursue happiness of their own accord and allow others to do likewise. The proper and dignified life for man is one of personal challenge and triumph over obstacles, and the laissez-faire economic order provides all but the most helpless, clueless, and lazy the opportunity to eventually succeed.

When the clueless, the lazy and indolent are rewarded for such behavior, entropy takes over, and the end of civilization is inevitable, especially when these disgregational forces are impelled by political networks, such as socialists, progressives, and communists.

However, the Evangelical writer, James B. Jordan, writing in 2007, went deeper into the problem regarding the whole notion of “Western Civilization”. In the first installment of seven part essay, he drew attention to the fundament relationship between religion, history, and founders of culture:

Once that tradition is gone, the culture cannot be put back together. Cultures are not like stones in a wall, which if it crumbles can be rebuilt. Rather, cultures are like Humpty Dumpty. When an egg and its yoke are broken, then all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put it back together again. When a culture is gone — and ours is — the only valid possibility for the future is to lay the foundations for a new culture. Within the history of a culture, a Josiah can rebuild it; but when a culture is gone, new Abrahams are needed. When things fall apart, and the center can no longer hold, we must be Abrahams. Otherwise the rough beast will take over Bethlehem.

All these views of society collapse are cogent and not to be discounted. A recent Russian author, Dmitry Orlov, writing about the collapse of the Soviet Union, has studied the phenomena of society collapse in this new book, The Five Stages of Collapse; recently reviewed by Carolyn Baker, in April of this year. Orlov has proposed 5 solutions to each of the 5 aspects of society collapse, though he limits himself to a merely material analysis.

My own views as a Cultural Anthropologist

The entire concept of “civilization” is a very complex one, which cannot be summarily explained by simply one methodology or analysis. We can look at aspects of culture or society organization and seek to discern the causes and forces which are molding and changing them. But hard and fast empirical rules/laws are not to be found in the human sciences, simply because man is a free agent, not a necessary agent. Moreso, when you admit, as Christians do, that man is God’s creation, called by Him to eternal life, and ever the subject and object of His merciful interventions into History.

One aspect, therefore, I’d like to remark upon, is what I call the eSquandering of Civilization. The proliferation of electronic devices and means of communication, their fascination for the weak minded and those inclined more to sentimentalism and experientialism that rational cognitive reflection or meditation, is leading the vast mass of mankind to reduce his societal relationships to artificial means.

This is only a trend, not an absolute factor, as obviously, we still have predominately human personal interactions. But the trend, however so small, is having a remarkable impact on several particular aspects of society, which I enumerate here:

  1. The first of which is the neglect of reading serious literature.
  2. The second of which is the neglect of writing about serious matters.
  3. The third of which is the neglect of listening to what others are in fact saying.
  4. The fourth of which is the neglect of refraining from making an immediate reaction or comment.
  5. The fifth is the neglect of reflection or reasoned meditation.

Each is having an impact on a different aspect of what it means to be a civilized human being.

Take for example the constant use of the Internet and TV-services. The annual cost alone per family is squandering financial resources which could be used to purchase books for a family library, and thus create a permanent heritage of useful and worthwhile information accessible to themselves and their descendents. Instead, they pay monthly fees for monthly services, the utility of which is momentary, the value of which is temporary, and the effect of which is merely utilitarian, based on pleasing the emotions or serving practical affairs of daily life. The resulting loss to the book industry, means that thinkers who are worth being read, cannot get published; and thus society as a whole loses the precious gift of their contribution to civilization, which is thus squandered by neglect.

The lack of writing about serious matters, is causing the loss of the ability to think in a reasoned manner, because you cannot express yourself in writing about a serious topic, in a manner worthy to be listened to, without using the tools of reason. This means the loss of the acquisition of skills for writing, and thus the loss of future writers who would have influence the betterment of civilization by their contributions. The squandering of talent.

The neglect of listening is the most serious problem. Because without listening there is no communication or social relations based on reasoned discourse. And that means the utter collapse of society organization. The squandering of human relationships.

The neglect to refrain from immediate reaction, is reducing individuals’ ability to act on a rational basis rather that on gut-feelings or suspicions. This is leading to the formation of a culture based on irrational impulses, and thus to the creation of a new barbarism for societal order. The squandering of humanity.

The neglect to take time out and think seriously about a problem before speaking or writing or acting about is, is the final blow to civilization. It is leading the next generation into a culture where decision making skills are woefully lacking or impaired, when the decisions regard long term planning, prudential discernment, and the selection between what is lasting and what is ephemeral. And that means the next generation will not be able to sustain the civilized order when it is put at risk by calamitous events or urgent or severe problems. The squandering of intelligence.

A Christian solution to eSquandering

We are seeing the collapse of Western Civilization for all of the above reasons. We need to return to Our Lord and Maker, Jesus Christ, and learn again from Him, what it means to be human, civilized and rational. This we can do only with faith, prayer, and repentance from a culture of sinful preoccupation with the ephemeral, which is merely the result of an age which is so forgetful of God, that it is becoming oblivious to being itself.