James Toner contends that our response to the barbarity around us is often one of moral stupefaction.
A callus, the dictionary informs us, is “a thickened and hardened part of the skin or soft tissue, especially in an area that has been subjected to friction.” There we have a description of our contemporary moral condition. We have been subjected for so long to the “friction” of so much moral mayhem that we have been stupefied by it.
A few years ago, I gave a homily about abortion. After Mass, the visiting priest chastised me, “Jim, you seemed downright angry during that homily. You can’t preach if you’re angry!” I was compelled to disagree, “Father, we’ve had many millions of abortions in our country. Isn’t that something to be righteously angry about?” (See Eph 4:26.)
We are no longer righteously angry at the evil swirling about us. One is reminded of Bishop Fulton Sheen’s admonition: “A mind that is never stern or indignant is either without love, or else is dead to the distinction between right and wrong.”
Why should we be indignant when society permits, indeed applauds, the killing of babies inside and, even after birth, outside the womb; the growing acceptance of legalized “mercy killing”; the presence of a homosexual lifestyle that is cheered even on Catholic campuses; the accompanying desecration of marriage; and the ubiquitous use of contraception – despite Pope Paul’s dark prophecies (Cf. Humanae Vitae, #17), which were altogether tragically fulfilled this last half century?
Transgendered people; work in progress toward blending humans with animals, machines, or plants; three-parent embryos; development of servant-class apes; cloning and cryogenics – we live in a veritable playground for Dr. Frankenstein. Small wonder that Father Schall has written: “Human nature itself lies on the operating table, ready for alteration, for eugenic and psychic ‘enhancement,’ for wholesale redesign.”
There’s a new Grand Inquisitor, but he has a scalpel in his hand, and he looks just like Kermit Gosnell. We grow ever closer to our own Island of Dr. Moreau, where chimeras and cyborgs beckon. The New Tower of Babel is a research hospital. Coming soon: human bodies without brains, our own human body-parts stores. The supposed fruits of genetic manipulation are the new Holy Grail.
James H. Toner
Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Air War College, and author of Morals Under the Gun and other books. He has also taught at Notre Dame, Norwich, Auburn, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Holy Apostles College & Seminary.