Some years ago, I heard a homily that has stuck with me ever since. It was in Easter, and the priest noted that while we try to approach Easter each year with a sense of newness and wonder, for most of us, it's quite familiar. We've celebrated Easter before, so what else is new?
He answered his own question by pointing out that every year is different. We are older, we may have kids now, or our kids may be moving out, etc. Life brings constant changes, even if they are incremental.
He was right, of course. The Easter I celebrated this spring was vastly different from the one I celebrated in 2019, when lockdowns were unheard of, or in 2020, when we were unable to attend Mass in person.
So it was with this week's Gospel readings, which is the famous passage where Jesus creates a string of paradoxes surrounding faith, but also says that those who cannot leave their parents and children for him, are not worthy of him. That passage always rankled with me, because how could a loving God demand that I put aside those people? We are commanded to honor our parents, and what parent would cast aside a child?
This year I see it differently. I realize that this life is not all that there is. If God calls, we must answer, and He will see to it that my parents and children are taken care of.
That is probably the biggest difference between believers and those without faith in God. If this life is all there is, then death is a nightmare, the worst thing ever. Pleasure must be taken as often as possible, because its joys will fade.
It is clear to me that the top rungs of the social ladder have lost faith in God, and believe that nothing else matters besides their time on earth. Cheating is something they admire, and cleverness is superior to courage. A person willing to die for faith or conviction is a sap and fool.
All of that is predicated on there being nothing else; on the Unseen being non-existent. At this late date, I don't that that view is logically sustainable. I have experienced too much of the spirit realm to believe otherwise.
I'm also starting to wonder if the "evangelical atheists" aren't trying to convince others to abandon faith so much as reassure themselves.
This is also why one gets Yard Sign Calvinists, who - unable to reach God - seek social salvation through virtue-signalling.
J.R.R. Tolkien had an interesting take on the "end game" of a society that turns to darkness. His description of the fall of Numenor is very much reminiscent of where we are - people becoming status-obsessed, proud, willful, and above all hardening their hearts against God, doubling down on their rebellion.
There's a lot of that going on, too.