(Workers') Paradise Lost

Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 07 September 2016 - 15:20:10 | by admin

Heading off into the sunset: The concluding sequence in Pope Francis' latest monthly ''prayer intentions'' video.

We've now had chance to view the 9th in the series of Pope Francis' monthly ''prayer intentions'' videos.

As with so many of his earlier films, this latest clip fails to make any mention of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Trinity, the Church, sin and redemption, or the Gospel's urgent call to conversion for the sake of eternal salvation.

In failing to diagnose the deeper spiritual crisis, in his discussion of a series of economic, financial, ecological, educational, moral and human crises, Pope Francis once again restricts his message to the limited horizons of the temporal sphere.

It's odd, that, coming from the Vicar of Christ.

Christ or Chaos
A Very British Dystopia: The burned-out remains of an Austin Rover Metro GTA; another victim of the suburban gangs who lack faith and fathers in post-modern England.

Pope Francis' videos, like so many of the messages and policies which he instigates, appear to lack any conception of the associated problems of Original Sin, Actual Sin, Concupiscence and Spiritual Warfare.

As such, he consistently presents the world with the programme and goals of an impossible-to-achieve and totally earth-bound utopia.

I say impossible-to-achieve because, as Hilaire Belloc had so soundly grasped with his reflections on ''Christ or Chaos'', without Christ and His Grace coming to us through His Church, we are simply doomed to failure. The problems of sin, concupiscence, spiritual warfare, and even the natural limitations of our creaturely existence, require nothing short of divine assistance and remedies. This has ever been the message and power coming through the Catholic Church.

By avoiding these core messages of the real nature of Catholic mission, Pope Francis presents us with something which appears much closer to the supposed Workers' Paradise of Marxist lore.

That certainly comes across in his latest video: complete with cheesily smiling production-line workers in dark boiler-suits; and a concluding message about helping Pope Francis to build a society with the human person at its centre.

This is a message which smacks of materialism devoid of spirituality. It calls to mind the very first time that we ever wrote a negative critique of Pope Francis at this Torch of The Faith site. It was the 16th July, 2014, and we were reflecting on a meeting that Pope Francis had recently held in Rome with scholars, business representatives and people from various international organizations.

At that meeting, Pope Francis had said: ''Thank you for the help you give with your work, with your reflection to restore this unbalanced situation and to restore man, bring him back to the centre of reflection and the centre of life. He is the king of the universe! And this is not theology, not philosophy - it is human reality. With this reality we will move forward. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank You.''

It was gravely disturbing then, and it remains so now, to think of such words coming from the mouth of a reigning pontiff; for it is Christ Who is the King of the Universe and Who alone gives humanity its sublime and unprecedented dignity and worth. As Sacred Scripture and Tradition attest: without Christ, we can do nothing; with Him we can do all things.

Did the So-Called Workers' Paradise Ever Exist?
The burned-out carcass of a Mk II Vauxhall Astra estate (station wagon for US readers!) next to the grounds of a Victorian-era Catholic Church.

From Stalin's Russia, to Mao's China, by way of Castro's Cuba: anyone who has ever studied Communist economic systems will tell you that they are naturally doomed to failure. The dream of the Marxist workers' paradise is a myth that has turned into a nightmare for far too many people for it to still be presented as something good and wholesome.

This is true of all systems which are built without reference to God, to His rights over us or to the natural law.

We all have enough experience of living in post-Christian dytopias to understand this.

One trick of Communists to break up married couples and families, in order to make individuals more reliant on the State and compliant to its directives, was to issue workers' numbers to all individuals. These number systems could then be used to ensure that families were always kept apart by separate work schedules and shifts.

Whilst this was achieved through the use of the ''stick'' in earlier times, it has been accomplished much more bloodlessly in our own day.

In spite of all that was won for workers' rights in the UK in earlier decades, we presently have a system that is not only Godless but also devoid of humanity. As the Church has consistently taught: when God is sidelined, man also finds himself diminished.

A few years ago, I overheard three women working in a large supermarket. They were lamenting the fact that they had to work long shifts over a 7-day per week period. Although they were not church-goers they all stated that they never had time at home with their husbands or children, due to their own work patterns and those of their spouses. The extremely high cost of living in post-modern Britain had also forced them to always be out at work; sometimes even having to do two jobs just to make ends meet. Like so many in our culture, these poor women had quite simply become post-modern slaves.

Two Post-Modern Dystopias

1). The Urban Jungle

The images of burned out cars on these pages were taken by me during 2001. At that time, I was working as a ''church related community worker'' on a ''social justice'' team in a deprived borough near to Manchester.

The ''team'' that I worked with included a Catholic priest and several Catholic nuns who all dressed in lay clothes. Some of them had strange and un-Catholic belief systems, which included an odd amalgam of Marxist dialectic with elements of the New Age movement. Due to the denial of Original Sin by the ''power-suit and permed hair'' nun who line-managed me, it would be hard to honestly refer to her as anything close to being a real Catholic.

What these ''religious'' all had in common was a very earth-bound conception of their mission to the poor in the areas they worked. This soon brought me into a collision with them and their practices; for I held the Catholic conception that social justice and healthcare work with the poor were preliminaries to, rather than replacements for, the sharing of Christ's message of salvation and the sacraments with them.

In fact, I was even pulled up for trying to evangelize and for speaking about moral matters in the workplace! Things reached a really low point when the nun told me that I should be ''more professional'' by ''leaving my faith at home when I came to work.''

The final straw came when the priest tried to force me to attend a youth centre which was giving out condoms, messages about ''doing drugs safely'' and abortion-centre phone-numbers to local teenagers in his parish. When I tried to resist using arguments from conscience, he retorted that I should ''try and find a way to make my conscience fit the work that I was being paid to do.''

That was when I finally quit...

The problem was that beneath the economic, financial, moral and educational crises that the locals faced each day, lay the spiritual problems of Original Sin, Actual Sin, concupiscence and spiritual warfare.

To be fair to the priest, he was keen to help baptize someone who had missed the chance as a baby. However, when I tried to bring folks to Christ's truth through my work, the nun told me that I should not talk about faith or morals, but should instead find things that were ''life-giving'' to the local people...

Thus, instead of bringing Our Lord and His healing grace to the local problems of family breakdown, teenaged fornication and pregnancy, abortion, drug addiction, criminal behaviour, vandalism and violence, these liberals spent their days trying only to put the - at best temporal - band-aids of ''inclusion'', ''self-esteem'', ''equality'' and ''opportunity'' on their open wounds.

The liberals happily worked with agencies that were giving out condoms to young kids, facilitating abortions, and telling them to take drugs safely, because these agencies also helped the youths to take part in community-building ventures and charity work.  

And so, starved of true love and having no-one to help them to see right from wrong, the young men took to stealing and torching cars in their rebellious teenaged angst. One young lad even told me that this was his hobby. Each morning as I set off from behind the church's high security fence, I would pass a fresh batch of the scorched remains of stolen cars on the grass around the estate.

Without Christ these lads and their troubled neighbourhood had only chaos, but the Marxist-leaning social justice warriors cared more about their temporal ''life-giving'' experiences than the Risen Christ's offer of Eternal Life.

Perhaps one local lady summed it up best when she said that looking up to the stone cross on the church roof each evening gave her some hope in her life. 

The Call-Centre Control Room
Working in a Call-Centre Control Room: At the end of a restricted length headset cable, this was the closest I ever came to living like a battery hen...

When we returned from Steubenville ten years ago this summer, I had to take work in the call-centre control room of a major roadside recovery organization. When I compared my experiences there to the 9 years that I had worked in a high street bank in the 80's-90's, I recognized that, without God, our society had already passed a tipping point into nihilistic chaos.

Pope Francis' latest video presents a utopian picture of happy workers all pulling together and smiling cheesily at each other in the workplace. This is so far removed from the reality of daily graft, that one wonders just how much time today's Church leaders have spent getting to ''smell the sheep'' in their dioceses. They certainly seem to have been protected from real work.

It was St. Augustine of Hippo who famously said that, without God, all we can do is sin.

All the available jobs that I looked at when returning to Britain required Sunday working. That in itself marked a new and negative development in British society. My conscience would not let me do this for things like banking, sales or trading.

However, although unhappy about working on the Sabbath, we needed money to live and I thought that working for a roadside rescue group might be acceptable on a Sunday, as long as I could get to Holy Mass at some point during the day.

The control room atmosphere presented a microcosm of post-modern society. Each worker was issued with an electronic tag to wear on their person.

This tag opened the car park gate, the entry doors and the toilet door. Every entrance that the worker passed through was logged on the central computer. The system knew and recorded when you arrived for work, how long you spent in the loo or the lunch room, and how long before you logged on to your workstation.

This same computer worked out each worker's future shift patterns on a 24/7 rolling calendar based on the predicted requirements of the team. Some days you would work early mornings; others 9-5 shifts; and still others on late nights. Some weeks you would hardly be in work at all; others almost 7 days full on. There was no conception in any of this for time needed for God, one's family, the natural human body-clock, or for a regulated life of work and leisure. This was the computer-generated world of the call-centre employee. Welcome to the desert of the real!

The system even measured how long you were on-line taking calls all day. It recorded the average length of your calls and the time you were away for breaks and lunch. Each week a team leader would go through your statistics with you. If your calls were too long, you got marked down. If too short, you also got marked down! You couldn't even leave your workstation; like a tethered mule, the length of the headset cable was as far as you could wander during the shift. 

In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, the author presents a world where slaves are kept blissfully unaware of their slavery as long as they have their Soma drug to keep them happily tranquilized.

In the call-centre where I worked, I was distressed to encounter a culture wherein people were freely dealing soft drugs, taking hard drugs in the toilets and promoting all manner of pornography and homosexual, bi-sexual and heterosexual activity.

In the lunch hour, which could be at 5pm depending on your shift pattern, my jaw fell open to see everyone listlessly chewing their food like cows, whilst watching violent cage-fighting on a vast cinematic screen along the whole of one wall. As I observed the sea of glazed faces, each untroubled by what they were seeing beyond their sandwiches and coffee, I gasped: ''This is Ancient Rome!''

And call-centres also ''lighten the load'' for their staff by having things like a monthly ''Dress as a Chicken Day'' for charity. Talk about subliminal messaging...

One day a guy came in boasting loudly that he was going to make his girlfriend have an abortion. I was amazed that nobody even flinched. He repeated this for a few days and people gradually began talking to him about it, but in a very matter-of-fact way.

After getting a group of good Catholic friends to pray the Rosary in their homes, I left a letter on his desk with a ''10-week in the womb Little Feet badge'' and an offer of help from Angie and I in helping the girl to keep the baby. As you might guess, this led to my becoming something of a social outcast. I guess my ''social inclusion'' was not helped either by the discreet signs of the cross which I made before eating my lunch each day, whilst the daily cage fights raged above me on the big screen...

After this, some rough guy who was into occult movies began to steal my chair whenever I went on a tea-break. He never laughed to share the joke, but always let me know with a sly look that it had been his doing. One day, I took a phone call from someone who had just been in a major road crash with glass all over the road. At the end of the call, I logged off for a coffee to calm the old nerves a bit. Even then, that guy stole my chair and gave me the same sly sideways look. Aye, they were happy days...

The point of sharing these two examples of post-modern dystopia is to reinforce the truth that without Christ we do not have a happy and ordered world, much less a workers' paradise. Instead, we have simple chaos. This is because we are all sinners in need of God's grace.

In Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII set forth the Church's classical teaching on the issues of capital and labour. It is a timeless teaching which has been developed through subsequent Magisterial documents. Through these teachings, the Church has reminded the modern world of the need for true justice and of the eternal benefit of work done well for God, for others and for the building up of a strong and virtuous society.

There is a key line in RN 27, which recalls: ''If human society is to be healed now, in no other way can it be healed save by a return to Christian life and Christian institutions.''

Sadly, this is not the timeless message that will be received by anybody who takes the brief time to view Pope Francis' latest monthly video. Or most of the others in the ongoing collection.

Instead, they will be given a naive portrayal of a natural goodness which lacks authentic reference to God and the true state of fallen human nature in need of His grace and healing.

Convinced that, even without grace, ''Work Will Make You Free'', the smiling folks in the latest video walk happily off into the sunset.

This conclusion to the latest video also called to our minds the ending of the very controversial January video. That one had upset us and many other orthodox Catholics, because it appeared to relativize the Christ Child amongst symbols from various false religions. The fact that it was launched so near to Epiphany only made this more of an insult. In fact, it bordered on blasphemy.
We noted here soon afterwards that the January video concluded with a sequence featuring someone's bare feet before a setting sun.

We also pointed out that the baring of feet to something is viewed as paying that thing homage in Freemasonic lore. And, of course, sun worship is a key aspect of Freemasonry too.

Although we did not accuse Pope Francis of being a Freemason, we did draw attention to this unusual parallel when seen in the context of both the January video's religious relativism and the February video's call for a new economy and a new way of bringing everyone together. After all, the man-centred religious and economic paradigm represents another aspect of Freemasonic ideology.

Given the September video's seeming presentation of a Godless workers' paradise, and its call to help Pope Francis build a society with the human person at the centre, we would all do well to remember that, romantic though the setting sun is, it always comes before darkness falls.

Belloc was right: the real choice we face is between Christ or Chaos. Keep the Faith!