One of the things I've been thinking about lately is how dangerous relativism is. It's dangerous not because of radical relativists who take it to the extreme, like most "isms." Relativism is dangerous because, unlike all the other "isms" you don't have to decide to be a relativist. It just happens. It creeps into our thoughts and way of life so carefully and deceptively... it's as if it were planned by someone who desires the destruction of the whole human race...
Last week I had a conversation with a few guys at work. We were discussing one of the guy's girlfriends and how she didn't like to hang out with "our group," basically because we scandalized her. I was arguing that, although I see her point in not wanting to be around people who drink too much and curse too loudly in public, as Christians, which she is, we can't shy away from people who are different from us. I said something like "I used to be a full-time missionary.. and you just have to learn that not everyone is going to be quiet, calm, and on their best behavior at all times." And one of the guys said "yeah, you were a missionary... but you weren't fully a missionary in your head."
Hold.the.phone. I was so offended that I could barely come up with a viable response. What does that even mean? How is this guy pretending to know what goes on in my head after knowing me less than 4 months?
But then I started thinking... how in the world have I been living in a way that would even allow him to say that? Holiness means to be set apart. The other guy's girlfriend, the one who doesn't like to hang out with us, sets herself apart, and everyone knows it. I, on the other hand, am right there in the midst of the absurdities, and people think my life as a missionary was all just a show.. or just something I did after college. Wake up call: I need to change.
But how? I thought I was dining with tax collectors and sinners... but have I, in the process, started to collect taxes as well? I can't physically set myself apart from scandal.. the Cross is scandalous. If I live under a rock or in a Church my whole life, how will I accomplish the will of the Lord to make disciples? Virtue is the middle of two extremes.. but is it a tightrope that I need to learn to balance on?
The conversation continued on and the subject of truth came up. Both of the guys agreed that truth changes depending on who you are... "unless I think murder is okay... then I'm just crazy," as one of them said. These are both very logical men and I was shocked to hear that they both submitted so unknowingly to the principles of relativism. I wanted to continue the conversation but we all had work to do, so we left it with me saying simply, "truth doesn't change."
Today at Mass I prayed that I would be changed by Jesus, and never be the same.
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
P.S. Does anyone know of any books or articles written by former Atheists about their conversion into the Church? There's a guy at work who is interested in learning more, but can't get past the idea that faith and science are incompatible.