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Religion, Liberalism, and the Relationship between Obligations and Entitlements


The following is from the family history that I'm in the process of compiling for my children and grandchildren.

Somewhere along the way I became an altar boy.  I never really liked the job very much.  That's what it was for me, a job.  It involved a lot of kneeling, which I was never very good at.  There was nothing to lean on while kneeling to even relieve some of the load on the knees.  It was a little bit like torture, especially because there weren't any soft cushions to kneel on, and there never was any heat in church at the time (There was no coal available to stoke the furnace with).  However, even though I didn't actually learn Latin (The liturgy still involved saying the Mass in Latin, and I had to learn by rote to be able to speak the responses in Latin), I did develop an ear for it and even comprehended many of the words, after all, many of the words in the German language have their roots in Greek or Latin.  Perhaps because of that found I it easy later to learn to speak Spanish.  There were some benefits that came out of the job.  I loved to ring the church bells.  One learned to be on time because of that, because it wasn't permissible to be late for it.
     I loved to be in the church tower and set the bells swinging, especially on days when the larger ones had to be sounded — one could at the end silence them by hanging on to the rope and be pulled up, way up, right up to the ceiling of the ringing floor.  I also loved to go up all of the way to the top of the steeple and look out.  It was the next-best thing to flying to be able to look down at the world from a different perspective and to even be able to see down on birds flying through the air.  Even the sounds that floated up were totally different -- a bit muted, but so many more of them arriving at the same time.
    One had to be careful not to be on the bell floor when the clock sounded, because when one was close to the bell when it struck, it was painful to the ears.  The church tower played an important role in our lives.  It was at the centre of our community and had clock faces on all four sides that could be read by me accurately from as far as 2 km away.  I demonstrated that ability to my parents on many occasions when I showed them where we spent our time playing.  Little did I realize that by doing so I eliminated all possible excuses for ever being late for supper.  I could never say that I forgot to wind my watch or that I couldn't find anyone who would tell me the time.
    I never got used to the smell of incense.  Although I didn't find it to be objectionable, it made me sick, and that's no joke.  But I was involved in all of this for a few years and became a little bit more familiar with the liturgical calendar.  I had a hard time understanding what all of the pomp and ceremony had to do with the teachings of Jesus.  However, one of the benefits of being an altar boy was that on the whole, it kept me away from trouble that I would without any doubt have become involved in otherwise.  Another one was that I became fond of organ music, particularly that by Bach.
    From age-14 on I became increasingly less involved with the rituals of the church.  But, I must tell you, I'm sorry now that I drifted away.  I think that my life would have turned out differently if I hadn't.  I think that my growing distate for religion was not the right road I took at one of the crossroads in my life.
    Quite seriously — but I only know that now because I'm looking back — if our family would have led a religious life it would have had a better chance of remaining together.  I thought that common sense, my common sense, was better than a common set of rules.  I am guilty of arrogance, liberalistic arrogance.  I failed all of you.  I wouldn't have done so if I wouldn't have been too arrogant to listen to my elders.

When we look back, we can determine where we took a certain direction in life.  We can only tell with certainty where our decisions took us, but we can't tell if other decisions would have taken us to something better or more enjoyable.  What I'm certain about, now that I have had many years to think about it all, is that a life without religion is full of perils for which there is no remedy.  Religion may be looked upon as a crutch by many people, however, we face so many problems in our lives that a sturdy crutch comes in handy at times.
    Religion still provides many rules for people to live by and make them live a better life than that which they would if they were to live without them and try to live just by secular laws.  Secular laws miss one important ingredient.  That is that, although they are being created based on constitutions that in turn had largely been created at a time when religion was still a part of everyday life of the majority of people, secular laws seldom — and these days purposely never — include protection for aspects of society that at one time were taken for granted and were enshrined in the religious laws that people used to live by at the time our constitutions were written.

Few people have the moral strength to live truly good lives without the help of religion.  Our secular laws all grew out of the laws of the church, but they aren't a complete and wholesome replacement for the laws of the church.  The laws of the church are based on thousands of years of tradition and experience, with a view toward the future (one should even say, Eternity. Right?).  The laws of governments are based on what is currently politically correct.  The latter — today especially — most certainly doesn't include a view of the future, but, rather, is currently an attitude of "live for today, and to Hell with tomorrow."
    The laws of religion may seem wrong to many of us in many ways, but I think that they are more often right than wrong, whereas the opposite most certainly appears to be true of the laws of the government.  I wrote my best thoughts about that in the appendix in the section on "THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BE A PARENT" in my comments following the subsection "U.S. Supreme Court" at the end of the article for The Liberator.  If you want to read those notes, now is the best time.
    I know that some will point out immediately that I'm contradicting myself, because I included also information in the appendix (of the family history for my children) that would indicate that the Church played an irresponsible role in the persecution of the Jews under Hitler.  If you think so, think also that you should hold your horses a bit (I love writing like this.  It allows me to finish my sentences, even whole thoughts, without being interrupted).

When Pius XII was the Pope, he did speak out against the Nazis and what they were doing, extensively so, but perhaps not enough, and too late.  However, when he appeared to be supporting the Nazis, he wasn't the Pope yet.  Aside from that, even if the RC Church itself or any other religious denomination appears to be breaking its own rules, does that prove that those rules are wrong, or does it prove that everyone fails to follow them at one time or another?  I would rather live by rules that are right and even idealistic and use them as a goal that I can try to achieve, than only to live by rules constructed by our governments, rules that are clearly deficient and often impossible to meet, rules that violate the basic human rights of individuals and families alike, rules that violate the sanctity and meaning of life itself, rules that are bringing chaos to all of us.
    What promise is contained in any of our governments' laws?  Which of them contains one single promise for a better life?  Which of those rules constitutes a realistic or ideological goal that all would want to strive to achieve?  Is there one that we would want to aim for?
    Let's just take a look at a comparison of the two major ideologies that are opposing one another.  On the one side we have religion; on the other liberalism.  You may want to change some of the attributes that I'm listing here and substitute your own for some, even add new pairs.  But tell me whether in the end the outcome in that table is much different.
 

 

RELIGION

LIBERALISM

Individual Rights — Subordinated to God & Society,  Obligated to Others 

Individual Rights — Based on Entitlement,  Subordinated to No-one,  Obligated to No-one

Life is Sacred from Conception

Life is not Sacred (55 million abortions/year); Increasing Demand for Euthanasia and for Assisted Suicide

Future of Families & Society is Prime Goal

Instant Gratification is Main Goal

Without Families there can't be a Future

Families are a Burden — Who Wants Them?

Everyone is Responsible for their Actions

Everyone is a Victim of Circumstances

Love is a Must, Hate is Contemptible

Love is Desirable, Hate not Contemptible

Absolute Truth and Objective Reality (If the law says, "don't do it," don't)

Relative Truth and Subjective Reality (If it feels good, it must be okay to do it)

 

Granted, religion has not transformed mankind into something that has come even close to meeting its idealistic objectives.  But if you look back through history, in Western Society it has done a fine job of bringing mankind out of the dark ages — which began around 400 A.D., brought about by centuries of escalating liberalism — into a somewhat more enlightened society by the end of last century.
    The escalating liberalism that has been at work since the end of the eighteenth century apparently brought about liberation of individual rights, but in reality, especially during the last twenty years, it has brought about escalating hatred by one gender against another, the destruction of many of the values that protected the rights of the family and all individuals, and mounting and accelerating inflation as a result of having to pay for all of those entitlements.
    At the level of an individual family, it is far easier to bring up children within the framework of religion and its doctrines, than to bring them up within a framework that doesn't permit anyone anymore to be able to judge what is right or wrong.
    At the level of larger groups, starting with groups at the level of families, it is far easier to achieve cooperation for a common goal within the framework of religious idealism, than it is within the framework of victimology, entitlement and blaming that is encouraged to such an inordinate extent by liberalism.
    The majority of the most enjoyable achievements that I can think back to in my life came not from personal achievements, but rather from the achievements that were accomplished in cooperation with others for a greater good, whether those were achievements within the context of employment or within a private context.  Some of the best memories in my life go back to times when we as a family, either my own or ours, achieved something as a team for the good of the family.  At no time were these achievement more enjoyable than when they arose in times of the greatest need.  Even when no success was possible, just the satisfaction arising out of the enjoyment of cooperation with others more than made up for the sense of disappointment if the efforts were futile.  What does liberalism have to offer to bring about such satisfactions?

It seems to me that at a very fundamental level, liberalism is the destroyer of the common good, because it promises entitlements to individuals and thereby makes those entitlements a burden for all others.  Liberalism has abrogated the concepts responsibility and obligation.