[This post is aimed for men and women, and while it will have an obvious Catholic flair, I believe it will have value for all my readers.]
One of the biggest problems when trying to explain the Truth to someone, whatever that Truth might be, is that sometimes the Truth is incompatible with that person’s mental framework.
What do I mean by “mental framework?” Well, the best explanation I can give is this: it is the set of mental tools and instructions/skills for both viewing the world around us and determining how it works. Essentially, it provides a canvass upon which we can paint reality and thereby interpret it.
How does this relate to my first statement? Simple: sometimes people lack the mental tools and instructions/skills which would allow them to be able to see the Truth, or to perceive that they have strayed from it.
Consider the following proverb: when all you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.
The same applies to our mental framework of reality. When all we have is a mental hammer, our mind will only consider nails, and only see solutions that involve the use of nails.
A person caught up in this will not believe themselves to be irrational. In fact, they can appear and act very rational at times. Their explanations can be clear, thoughtful and at times seemingly brilliant. But at the same time they are very, very wrong- and the person has absolutely no idea of this.
What this means is that no matter how carefully your explain the Truth to someone, if that Truth is incompatible with their mental framework, you are wasting your breath. They just won’t get it.
Unfortunately, those who are caught up in the Spirit of the Age- modernism or liberalism or whatever you wish to call it, all suffer from serious defects in their mental framework. They cannot grasp certain core Truths, because their view of how the world works, of how things are and ought to be (there is no separately the two in their mind), simply is incompatible with the Truth. To accept the Truth would require that they reject, either consciously or unconsciously, certain of their core beliefs about how the world works. Naturally enough, this is a terribly uncomfortable demand upon one’s psyche- a demand that most will reject outright. Unless a person is willing to confront the dissonance between what we want things to be, and what the Truth demands them to be, he or she will be blind to just how out of step with the Truth they really are.
I should know- I was one of these people once. Perhaps I still am to a degree- after all, the rot runs deep.
Here is one case in point: Is the Pope a Feminist? And what’s “Wives Submit” mean anyway? Given the length, I won’t quote the whole thing. Instead, I ask my readers do so to help understand my post. [Hat tip: Julian O’Dea]
The author is a self-described Catholic. He claims to be both explaining and upholding traditional, universal Catholic (but I repeat myself) teaching. To be on the same page as the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church.
He is, of course, doing no such thing. Rather, he is fully caught up in the Spirit of the Age. Whatever his intent, he is defending a modernist/liberal interpretation of Scripture and Church teaching. One need only read older Church writings (and not even that old- see Casti Conubii, for example) to see just how “off” the author really is. Anyone with an open mind (that is, a mental framework freed from at least some of the constraints of the Spirit of the Age) who reads the homilies of St. John Chrysostom and then compares it to the piece I linked will be able to see that disconnect, that dissonance. That isn’t merely a cultural shift- they are on completely different pages.
Many Christians (from many different faith traditions) have expressed surprise about how so many other so called Christians find it so easy to bash the Truth and support positions that are in some cases openly heretical. The answer need not be only a dysfunctional mental framework, but by itself would likely suffice. Even those with no ill intent, such as the author here, can be led astray and lead others astray if they are caught up in the Spirit of the Age.
This problem with mental frameworks is why it is so essential for the Faithful to focus on the things of God, rather than the things of the world. The world, with its cultural institutions and modes of thought, aims to confuse us and muck up our mental framework. As a result, we will find it more difficult to turn towards God, as our ability to understand Him and His ways will be hindered. Consider these words of St. Paul:
18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apol′los or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; 23 and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
(1 Corinthians 3:18-23)
The “wisdom of the world” is another way of describing the Spirit of the Age. It seems wise to men, but is folly with God. It confuses us and blinds us. So be wary of it. Accept that the wise people of this world will call you foolish if you follow the ways of God.
I have more to discuss on the subject, but that will require future posts. Here are two quick extensions. First, this same process can be applied to “the Red Pill” and “the Blue Pill.” Those who have defective mental frameworks will have difficulty swallowing the Red Pill, and likely throw it up. Second, thoughts on how one might break free from the trap of a defective or dysfunctional mental framework have given me another metaphor to use, rather than the Red Pill/Blue Pill metaphor, or The Glasses.