The moment of crisis has come.
“What crisis?” gentle reader may be asking.
The attentive, therefore skeptical, reader of the “meejah” will hesitate before giving his answer. That answer will depend on the point-of-view he has developed over the years, and his deeper affiliations.
Is there a crisis in the Church?
Oh yes. From what I understand of Church history, we have been in a state of crisis for some centuries now: twenty to be exact. Before that, the Life of Christ was one long crisis, and before that, the Jews hobbled through one crisis after another. They live through parallel crises today.
That there is a crisis in the Vatican, I will not deny. There is always a crisis in the Vatican. Given a living former pope, and an enthroned one subverting ancient Catholic customs, we have a newsworthy crisis now, but on a tour of the centuries one will easily find worse.
But most people around here aren’t Catholic; and most Catholics, as polls demonstrate again and again, aren’t very serious.
A proof comes when you ask them about “The Crisis.” They are likely to cite something in the news. And, it will be a “secular,” i.e. profane crisis, having nothing to do with their immortal souls.
There are crises in every country of which I am aware. In the United States, for instance, there is an all-consuming crisis, even though the country has the highest “standard of living” yet recorded in any conventional way. Still, there is shooting and civil war promised after this year’s elections.
Move to another country, however, and you are bound to discover another crisis there.
In youth, as I recall, there was always a crisis. It was worse than that. Everywhere, it seemed, the evidence of fallen man, and too, fallen nature, was to be “enjoyed.” I use that last word out of an attempt at neutrality.
Here, a young lady I know has a crisis. Her very young, rather clever son is being indoctrinated in a public school about “climate change” (or whatever it is being called this morning). He has become engaged, and depressed. His mother cannot resist the testimony of his teachers, who while obviously uneducated themselves, keep mentioning “97 percent of scientists.”
This is one of innumerable “crisis” factoids. It is constantly repeated. Notwithstanding, it is laughably untrue. But it was manufactured to promote the crisis.
By now, only schoolteachers believe it, and not always those. That the world will end in several years, unless a communist dictatorship is promptly declared, and encouraged to impose a high-tech reign of terror, has become an article of faith for many of the young.
In my childhood, we were going to have a thermonuclear war. Then: nuclear winter, and so forth. That was unless we disarmed, in unconditional surrender.
The focus on crises suffers if they multiply too much, and so various alternative environmental and demographic crises have been more or less forgotten. Around the world, starvation and other symptoms of abject poverty pass away. A real crisis requires political intervention, as in places like Venezuela, North Korea, or Iran.
Although we haven’t yet nearly run out of oil and gas, or become (except in cities) even arguably overpopulated, the “crisis of unsustainability” continues to be upon us. All we must do is think of something that hasn’t been proven sustainable yet. The latest campaign is on drinking straws.
Myself, I was never able to appreciate plastic bags. I do now. Paper bags will be the next to go. Did you know that their environmental impact is worse than plastic? And that anything buried in a landfill is likely to last longer than if you burn it? (For energy, perhaps. Or warmth.)
Well, I am counting on gentle reader to supply further crises, for this column has a finite length. My own immediate choice would be fire alarms. We had the latest crisis, in my apartment building, in the wee hours this morning. It was false, as usual, and no one fled outside, but the deafening screech of the alarm continued for half an hour, until the firemen turned it off.
Truck back-up alarms are also driving me crazy. I think I would count them as a crisis.
I’m not counting personal crises, although they also happen to everyone. But unless you are a celebrity – and the majority of us seem not to be – there will be no publicity. You’ll just have to panic all by yourself. If you’re lucky, someone might care enough to panic with you.
Or remain soothingly calm. For after all, what’s the worst that can happen? You might die. Everyone might die. As a matter of fact, everyone WILL die. The only question is when and how.
We have, if you will, a crisis of crises, each of which persists until people get bored with it. But with imagination, another crisis can be invented. And those who live, as consumers of crises, need not be deprived of a crisis for long.
They are addicted. How did this come to be?
My own explanation is (can you guess?) a Catholic one. The crises are filling a hole left in private and public life by the absence of Christ.
More globally, wherever you go – and this includes the Islamic realm – the nullification of ancestral religious practices contributes, directly, to the success of fanatical crisis mongers of one sort or another. They babble in a void.
If we didn’t have an apocalypse, someone would have to invent one. Indeed, someone has. For phenomena ranging from terrorist bombings to Little Greta have this in common: a crisis that is clearly post-religious is being promoted, for alarmist minds.
This is why, here in the West, or anywhere, I have come to recommend Christ. There are many reasons, to leave for other columns, but my reason for today is as a cure for trauma.
*Photo: A defaced image of Jesus outside the Mar Shimoni Church in Bartella, Iraq [Harper’s Magazine, December 2018]