Life Among the Ruins

By Solange Hertz

The world is showing all the signs normally associated with old age. If it appears to be going mad, there is every reason to believe its madness is the senile dementia of the superannuated rather than the crazed exuberance of youth. Compared with the children of adamic times and the patriarchal progeny we read about in Scripture, the youth of today appears to have been born senile. Widespread attention deficiency, loss of moral balance, carelessness in discerning the real from the imagined and a general inability to cope with any situation beyond the immediate are not symptoms of youth, but of old age, when the working connection between past and present gradually disappears with the memory, and salutary interaction with the next generation becomes as difficult as it was with the previous one.

Contemporary art babbles like old people, and science spins fairy tales for grown-ups which are taken for true. Meanwhile, frantic insistence on ever greater independence and freedom of conscience is forging an anxiety-ridden society seeking relief in drugs and compulsive rhythms, with suicide the final viable solution.

Begun in earnest are the “dangerous times” St. Paul told his protégé the Bishop of Ephesus would come in the last days, when “men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked, without affection, without peace, slanderers, incontinent, unmerciful, without kindness, traitors, stubborn, puffed up and lovers of pleasure more than of God” (2 Tim. 3:1-4).

These are not characteristics of juvenile vitality, but of decrepitude. St. John Chrysostom’s faithful friend St. Nilus predicted that men and women would become “unrecognizable.” Having exhausted its ability to absorb proper nutrients and eliminate the toxins building up physically and spiritually, the body politic by dint of camouflaging itself with palliatives, is taking on all the allure of an embalmed corpse.

Not that its condition resists diagnosis, for the world is known to have suffered all along from a congenital terminal illness. Scripture reveals in its very first verse that it cannot last forever in its natural state. Inasmuch as, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” the world had no existence at all before time was created along with it. It is finite because it is created, but because it was created of matter, its every dimension has limits, not only in space but in duration.

Without God’s cooperation, nothing goes on indefinitely. After the Fall God had to tell Adam that like the rest of material creation, “Dust thou art and into dust thou shalt return” (Gen. 3:19), and the Psalmist would sing,

“In the beginning, O Lord, thou foundedst the earth: and the heavens are the works of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest: and all of them shall grow old like a garment” (Ps. 101:26-27).

This truth, whose disclosure conditions all human knowledge, had to be revealed to Adam, for he would have had no other way of knowing such a thing. Had God not told him otherwise, he would have expected the world to go on ceaselessly renewing itself, especially that vigorous world integrated by grace and undisturbed by temptation or any other problems which was the only one he had any experience of before sin entered it.

Scientists speaking of a universe “expanding” limitlessly are only reasoning logically from what they can see, as Adam would have. Without taking God’s revelation into consideration, how can they possibly know the true state of affairs? Like Heraclitus and his ilk in every generation, they see the world’s eternity in terms of constant flux and never-ending natural cycles. Panta rei! Constant change spells stability.

So susceptible are men to this endemic delusion, that God became man in order to tell them once more, face to face, that “Heaven and earth shall pass away!” This cannot be disbelieved with impunity, for unlike material creation, “my words shall not pass away!” (Matt. 24:35).

So far there has been no way of ascertaining how long Adam had lived before the creation of Eve, but it must have been no inconsiderable while, for he had time to name “all the beasts of the earth and all the fowls of the air,” which in Hebrew is a way of saying that he studied the nature and quality of every other animate being on earth and catalogued them all. He must have been quite happy by himself among all the pleasures of paradise, for it was God and not he who determined that “it is not good for man to be alone.” When God brought him the animals “to see what he would call them,” so that he might call “all the beasts by their names,” He was in fact preparing Adam for the creation of Eve, for he had to be shown that he really was alone, and why, unlike the beasts, “there was not found a helper like himself” anywhere among them to be his mate. (Gen. 2:19).

Having seen for himself that human nature was unique and essentially different from all other forms of life on earth, Adam would have laughed heartily at the theory of evolution, which holds that men share a common ancestry with animals. But here again, errors of this kind are only to be expected where human reasoning operates independently of revelation…

Scripture records that it was only after eating from the forbidden tree that Adam said, “I was afraid,” and that he “and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God,” who till then had been accustomed to speaking with them familiarly, “walking in paradise at the afternoon air” (Gen. 3:10,8). The cause of their sudden paranoia was accurately determined by St. John when he wrote, “Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear; because fear hath pain, and he that feareth is not in perfect charity” (1 John 4:18).

Conversely, when love of God is cast out, as happened in Eden, fear rushes in, bringing with it every irrational phobia ever aired in the confessional or on the psychiatrist’s couch. Where “the charity of many shall grow cold” (Matt. 24:12) epidemic anxiety and panic attacks will become the norm. — from Apostasy in America