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The Dictatorship of Relativism

This is a phrase Pope Benedict XVI used in a homily prior to being elected as Pope. So what is relativism? I heard it on my annual retreat and realized that I couldn’t define it easily even though I have heard it often. Here’s a definition you can find on Wikipedia:

Relativism is the idea that some elements or aspects of experience or culture are relative to, i.e., dependent on, other elements or aspects.

Basically its an idea that says there aren’t any absolute truths. Kind of like saying, “What’s true for you many not be true for me.” Looking at our society in America today you can see this exhibited by the fact that we allow the legal murder of innocent human beings while agonizing over what color cars should be (California is considering outlawing black cars to “save” energy). How can we be so concerned about something as meaningless as the color of an automobile while we allow and I dare say, some even encourage, taking innocent life?

Getting back to Pope Benedict, here’s the text out of which the title of this post comes:

How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves ¬ thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf Eph 4, 14). Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching”, looks like the only attitude acceptable to today’s standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires. However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an “Adult” means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today’s fashions or the latest novelties. A faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature. It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the knowledge to judge true from false, and deceit from truth.

There are absolute truths that we can’t deny. I think it’s very interesting that so many people today profess the need for “tolerance,” which I think is a way to hide their belief in relativism, but then they become very intolerant of you when you believe differently than they do. They are acting irrationally by saying and doing the very thing they claim you shouldn’t say or do.

There is such a thing as a natural law and a natural moral law. Faith is real and so is God. He made us and we need to trust in Him. That is why a regular reading of sacred scriptures is so important. To get to know Him better and do our best to follow His truth.

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