The Dignity of the Human Person, the Common Good and Critical Race Theory

This might be a bit of a ramble. On a previous post, Descent into Madness, I wrote about trying to get my brain around Critical Theory, that is the philosophy which is the foundation of the so called Woke belief system. It is difficult as Critical Theory is not really about employing critical thinking skills. It is about criticizing western civilization and it’s traditional structures and institutions.

It all boils down to a Marxist power struggle between the oppressor’s and the oppressed. Bishop Barron also attributes wokeism to Nietzsche and his disciple Michel Foucault. He writes in his recent article, WOKEISM” IN FRANCE: THE CHICKENS COMING HOME TO ROOST:

Now the legion of Foucault’s disciples in the Western academy continued this archeological project after their master’s death, looking especially into issues of colonialism, gender, homosexuality, and race. And what they found in all these areas, unsurprisingly, was a Nietzschean power struggle between oppressors and oppressed. Once awakened to this reality (woke), they endeavored to foment confrontation between the powerless and the powerful, and here the influence of Marx cannot be overlooked; indeed, one of Foucault’s greatest mentors was the French Marxist Louis Althusser. Appeals to order, social norms, objective ethical values should be swept aside, for they are but a camouflage for the real social dynamics. Vive la revolution! I trust that much of this is sadly familiar to any American who endured the worst of 2020’s social upheaval.

These theories are atheistic. They reject the idea that there is any objective moral order. Everything boils down to power. Those who have it; those who don’t. They also reject–or at least are suspicious–of science and logic, because they are instruments of oppression.

It seems–at least as regard to race–the Church is trying to reconcile Critical Race Theory into the Social teaching of the Catholic Church. I hope that I am wrong, because it is just not possible.

But. My favorite deacon and I were invited to a study day on zoom from the diocese. Full disclosure, I didn’t last much past the intro, and my husband lasted slightly longer. So it is possible I did not get the full picture. Sorry at our age we have to worry about our blood pressure as well as the well being of our souls.

The presenter began by insisting that we all have implicit bias. In critical race theory that is code for if your are white you are a racist. Period. It is the original sin of whites. To deny that you are racist proves that you are. To say that you don’t see a person’s color–as in Dr. Martin Luther Kings I Have a Dream Speech-is to be a racist. It is a zero sum game.

But it is not just a problem for white people. I read quite a few articles by black writers, who think the current anti racist rhetoric is harming black people by turning them into poster children for victimhood.

But I digress. Back to the Study Day event.

Then the presenter, bizarrely, went on to show traffic signs without words. You know the universal sign shapes that almost every country uses. So when we traveled in France a few years ago, when we saw a red octagon we knew to stop even though we can’t speak French.

Anyway he asked the audience what the signs meant. When it was answered correctly, the presenter claimed that to identify the signs with any one meaning showed bias.

Facepalm. Every driving test I have ever taken in several states requires that you identify unlabeled traffic signs in order to pass. Same in Ireland.

But the presenter claimed we are wrong to make assumptions. That is true about people. We should never judge people based on the color of their skin, body shape, attractiveness etc..

How in the heck does knowing that you should assume that a certain color and shape of a sign means something specific prove implicit bias? At the very least is was a very bad analogy.

I ended the session because I had a sick feeling in the pit of stomach that it was going to be down hill from there.

Yes racism still is a big problem. But we have come a long way from the pre civil rights era. As a Catholic Christian, I know that the only solution is to turn back to Christ. To believe deep in our souls that every human being is sacred, unique, unrepeatable, and created in the image and likeness of God.

Every human being bears the face of Christ. Even people who are mean and destructive and wish to harm us. The trouble is it takes an awful lot of grace to see some people as made in His image.

Donald Trump? Hilary Clinton? The backstabber at work?

Let’s face it we are living in a post Christian culture. It is getting harder for orthodox Christians to navigate it and live our faith without capitulating. Most people want to be liked. Even white martyrdom takes courage.

What we need from the Church is guidance on how to live as an intentional disciple. We need to learn how to suffer with Christ on the cross. We need to learn how to truly love our neighbor–and I mean the ones who are more like enemies. It is easy to love the neighbor who brings food when a loved one has died. Its not so easy to love the neighbor who tried to prevent your elderly parents from moving in with you.

In other words we need to turn away from our sins and turn back to God. Appealing to Critical Race Theory is not going to do it. It can only divide us.

Only Christ Unites.

Today is the feast day of Katharine Drexel who is the patron saint of racial Justice.

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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