Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Devil in Perelandra Part 2

The second point I want to talk about is: Absolute individualism and independence is the goal of human existence. At first he argues that this is God's will: "...Maleldil [God] is beginning to teach you to walk by yourself, without holding you by the hand....You are becoming your own. That is what Maleldil wants you to do."(pg. 99) He then repackages it as her disobedience is her duty to future generations. How can your children have a better life if you don't disobey now? He then introduces her to the sin of vanity. He encourages her to disobey for her own good, regardless of anyone else.

To summarize the previous paragraph

You can see both of these arguments in the world today. Our society values individualism and independence at all costs. It's seen as a virtue by some to completely neglect family and devote oneself to your career. You have to be "true to yourself" and you can shirk all responsibility to "find yourself."
 
"Everything in moderation" counseled Buddha. "For everything there is a season," says the Bible. "Everything in moderation, including moderation," said Oscar Wilde among others. This absolute proposed to us by the devil is not virtuous, but neither is it's opposite "absolute conformity."
 
We need to strike a balance. There has to be the individual and the community.
The only thing we have to conform to is God. We need to be true to what God wants from us. "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2) We can trust that anything that God wants us to do will not ultimately hurt society.

We need to be "true to ourselves" but not to the denigration of our responsibilities to society and, most of all, our families. The family is the fundamental unit of society, not the individual (CCC, 2207). As such, we cannot shirk our responsibilities in the face of some kind of hedonistic impulse.

We also have the freedom to reject community when community is going against the will of God. Even though we cannot put ourselves above our communities every time, there will be times when it is necessary. Jesus had to go by himself to the mountain to pray, we also need our alone time to recharge. Also, we are obligated to follow our conscience when society tries to lead us astray.

So, absolute individualism is wrong, but so is absolute conformity.

Life of Brian- "We're all individuals"
 
 

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