Category Archives: Wokeism

“Thou shalt not be a white supremacist” really isn’t about that

-by Karlo Broussard

“When you hear the sentiment “thou shalt not be a white supremacist”—it’ll be dressed up a bit, but that’s the meaning—you can rest assured that the moral absolute being expressed here isn’t really about white supremacy. Sometimes it amounts to a form of relativism called global or total, which claims there is no truth. (You’ll find some prominent examples of “thou shalt not be a white supremacist at that link.) Other times, it stops just short of claiming that affirming objective truth is itself a marker of white supremacy—not quite, but it’s pretty close.

Consider, for example, how many cultural institutions recently have been making decisions solely on the basis of some minority status. For example, Joe Biden explicitly announced that he would replace outgoing Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer with “the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.” The National Football League recently announced that all thirty-two teams in the league must hire an offensive coach who is “a female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority” for the 2022 season. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires racial quotas to be met for a film to qualify for the Oscar for Best Picture. An associate professor at NYU wants “a more racially balanced pattern of citation” in academic papers (and he’s not the only one), and the curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art lost his job for allowing art by white men in his galleries.

The implication in all the above examples is that if an ethnic or racial minority is not given priority in decision-making, then the decision-maker is privileging white people and thus is a white supremacist. This version of the modern absolute “thou shalt not be a white supremacist” might not be tantamount to total relativism. However, it sure is a sister of it.

Consider how truth in each of the above examples is strapped in the back seat of the car—or better yet, thrown in the trunk—and race is put in the driver seat. To value something primarily based on race implies that the truth of the thing’s value is not of the utmost importance. It’s a form of practical relativism: living as if there’s no truth, even though you might not verbally or intellectually affirm that there’s no truth.

Take President Biden’s SCOTUS choice, for example. For Biden, the truth of a person’s legal scholarship was not a primary concern. Rather, race (and the person’s sex) was most important. Even though he may affirm that there’s truth concerning the quality of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s legal scholarship, there may as well be no truth about it, since that wasn’t the primary criterion by which he made his decision, although it should have been.

The same line of reasoning applies to the other examples. The truth of a person’s offensive coaching skills is sidelined (pun intended) in the place of his ethnicity. The spotlight is turned away from the truth of a person’s acting skills in favor of his race. A person’s ethnicity is more fitting for an academic journal than the truth of his scholarship. The truth of the quality of art is replaced by the color of the artist’s skin.

These examples might not entail a total rejection of objective truth, but they do strongly imply that there might as well be no truth at all, since it’s not worth considering as a criterion for determining a course of action when it should have been.

Now, let’s clarify what we are not saying. We’re not saying white people should be given preference for the above roles. Nor are we saying non-white people should be excluded.

We’re also not saying that we should never preference a race for a film role. If you’re telling the story of the horrors of slavery of African-Americans in America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, then it’s fitting to have African-Americans, or Africans, play the slaves, since they look most like the historical victims. To look elsewhere to fill these roles would be as unfitting as, say, having a white European male play Bruce Lee. Nor are we denying the fact that some institutions may be racially biased in their decision-making, or that some institutions may have inherited practices that have roots in racial prejudice.

What we are saying, however, is that the above attempts at racial equity show that the modern absolute “thou shalt not be a white supremacist” is not really concerned with truth absolutely, because it is not concerned with the truth about justice. Choosing to hire someone or accept some good based primarily on a person’s race is an injustice. It introduces a disorder between the distribution of a good and its proper cause.

St. Thomas Aquinas tackles this issue using the example of a professorship (Summa Theologiae II-II:63:1). He notes that “having sufficient knowledge” is the proper cause for being hired as a professor, not being named “Peter or Martin,” and not being rich or a relative. Hiring someone to a professorship based on these criteria would be an injustice, since the good of being a professor is not due to someone who has a particular name or how much wealth he has. The good of being a professor is due to having appropriate knowledge for such a position

Similarly, to distribute some good—whether it be a judgeship, a coaching position, an Oscar, a journalistic citation, or a coveted slot on the wall for art—based on race is an injustice. Race is not a proper cause of such goods. Such goods are due only to those whose skills are proportionate to the goods being distributed

Just imagine if President Biden had announced, “My nominee for the Supreme Court justice will be a white man.” Surely, the entire society would have been in an uproar (except for true misogynistic white supremacists). And everyone would be justified, because being a white man has nothing to do with being elected to hold a seat on the Supreme Court.

The same goes for the other examples listed above. Gary Garrels, the San Francisco curator who lost his job, is right: we can’t allow ourselves to fall into “reverse discrimination”—that’s to say, unjust discrimination.

The above decisions not only undermine the truth of justice with regard to distributing goods based on disproportionate causes, but also amount to an injustice particularly to non-white people. This method of selection basically says, “Non-white people are not able to be a proper cause of the distributed good in question.” How is that not racist?

In the end, the modern absolute “thou shalt not be a white supremacist” turns out to be the thing it claims to despise: white supremacy. And such absurdity is due to displacing truth from the driver’s seat when truth and truth alone should be determining the course of our actions.”

Love & truth,

Woke Relativism

“Truth cannot contradict truth.” -Aristotle’s First Principle of Non-contradiction, Metaphysics IV (Gamma) 3–6, especially 4

Quid est veritas? – Pontius Pilate to Jesus, Jn 18:38

“What is truth? Pilate was not alone in dismissing this question as unanswerable and irrelevant for his purposes. Today, too, in political argument and in discussion of the foundations of law, it is generally experienced as disturbing. Yet if man lives without truth, life passes him by; ultimately he surrenders the field to whoever is the strongest.”
—Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) from Faith and Politics

The anagram of “Quid est veritas?” is “Est vir qui adest” (“’It is the man’ before you.”).

-by Karlo Broussard

“For many years, relativism was the craze in apologetic circles. It was a primary target for apologists because it was part of the modern cultural landscape. “You have your truth, I have mine” was the catchphrase.

Some have suggested that relativism is long gone. David Brooks, a political commentator, argued a few years back for The New York Times that although American college campuses used to be “awash in moral relativism” as late as the 1980s, it is not so anymore. Rather, Brooks argues, “college campuses are today awash in moral judgment” and are a hotbed for what some have termed the “shame culture”—a culture in which unmerciful moral crusades are initiated against those who violate the absolute moral values of inclusion and tolerance (oxymoron). You can’t shame people and be a moral relativist at the same time, so it’s said.

This idea that relativism is dead seems to have gained traction even among some Christians, non-Catholic and Catholic alike.

But I’m not sure this is entirely true.

It’s obvious that most people today affirm certain moral absolutes—“thou shalt not be a white supremacist,” “thou shalt not be intolerant,” “thou shalt not be a judgmental, hateful bigot,” etc. On the surface, people who say these things don’t seem to be relativists of any sort, whether intellectual or moral. But when examined more closely, such moral absolutes turn out to be code for some form of relativism.

Consider, for example, “thou shalt not be a white supremacist.” In 2017, the president of Pamona College (Claremont, California), David Oxtoby, wrote an email to the entire campus in response to protesters who had shut down a speech intended to be given by Black Lives Matter critic Heather Mac Donald. In the e-mail, Oxtoby expressed his disapproval of the shutdown, arguing that it conflicted with the mission of Pamona College, which is “the discovery of truth” and “the collaborative development of knowledge.”

A group of students responded to the e-mail with an open letter, claiming that “the idea that there is a single truth. . . is a myth and white supremacy.” The letter, written by three self-identified black students and signed by at least thirty others, further stated that “historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity . . . as a means of silencing oppressed peoples.” The implication of these statements seems to be that there is no such thing as objective truth, which is what philosophers call global or total relativism, the most universal relativism of all.

Other institutions express this idea, too. For example, in 2021, California’s Instructional Quality Commission proposed for a mathematics curriculum framework the use of a document entitled “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction.” This manual gives a list of indicators of “white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom,” one of which is a focus on “getting the right answer” and teaching math in a “linear fashion.” The manual goes on to state, “The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false,” concluding that “upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates ‘objectivity.’” Apparently, for this California Commission, the truth that two plus two doesn’t equal five is false, and to claim otherwise is white supremacy. This is global relativism at its height.

Another example is the Minnesota Department of Inclusion and Community Engagement. On its website, the department provides a “list of characteristics of white supremacy culture.” Like the California Commission, it lists “objectivity” as an indicator of white culture and defines it as “the belief that there is such a thing as being objective.” If there’s no such thing as being objective, then there doesn’t seem to be any room for objective truth.

Now, someone might say “objectivity” here doesn’t mean objective truth, but only freedom from biased or cultural influences. Perhaps. But the language of “objectivity” seems to be coming from the same echo chambers as the California Commission, which clearly identified “objectivity” as pertaining to right and wrong answers.

Moreover, the document says other things that suggest it’s denying objective truth. Just a few lines below, under the same heading “Objectivity,” it identifies “white culture” as “requiring people to think in a linear fashion and ignoring or invalidating those who think in other ways.”

Well, to think in a linear fashion is to argue for true conclusions based on true premises. If such thinking is white supremacy, and thus morally repugnant, then seeking to know objective truth is morally repugnant. It’s hard to see how seeking objective truth would be morally repugnant unless you’re denying the existence of objective truth.

But let’s grant for argument’s sake that by “objectivity,” all the document means is freedom from biased or cultural influences. What would be the implication? If the implication is that what we think is true is mere cultural conditioning, then it amounts to a form of cultural relativism. If the implication is that we can’t ever be objective enough to know what objective truth is, then it at least amounts to a form of skepticism, which makes objective truth irrelevant, since we can never know it. That’s not relativism, but it’s definitely a sister!

So much for “thou shalt not be a white supremacist.” What about “thou shalt not be intolerant”?

Suffice it to say here that what many people mean by tolerance is the acceptance of everyone’s beliefs as equal and valid. Let that one sink in for a moment! If all beliefs are equal and valid, can there be such a thing as absolute truth? Of course not! There can be no objective truth if all beliefs are just as good as another. Therefore, when decoded, “thou shalt not be intolerant” is nothing more than masked relativism, and its global form at that.

Now, if by “tolerance” someone simply means that we ought not to coerce people into believing what we believe, then we have no qualms. But most of those who tout this moral absolute don’t have this kind of tolerance in mind. It’s more of the egalitarian tolerance mentioned above.

This sort of decoding also applies to the modern absolute of “thou shalt not be a judgmental, hateful bigot.” But for our purposes here, such a moral absolute is code for we must accept everyone’s lifestyle choices, as if they’re all equal and valid—a similar line of reasoning to the tolerance absolute above, just restricted to moral choices.

Now, lifestyle choices can be equally permissible only if there is no objective truth about such choices. But if there’s no objective truth about lifestyle choices, then there’s no such thing as objective morality. That’s moral relativism. And if the charge is meant just to demand approval of certain sinful sexual behaviors, then that’s not moral relativism—it’s just special pleading, wrapped in a cloak of moral relativism.

So relativism might be dead for some who jump on the bandwagon of modern moral absolutism. But for many, relativism is still alive, coded within the language of modern moral absolutes. We just need to decode such absolutes and expose them for the relativism they are.'”

Love & truth,

Christopher Columbus, Human Rights Champion

“In popular myth, Christopher Columbus is the symbol of European greed and genocidal imperialism. In reality, he was a dedicated Christian concerned first and foremost with serving God and his fellow man.

Peering into the future, Columbus (1451-15­06) could not have anticipated the ingratitude and outright contempt shown by modern man toward his discovery and exploration of the New World. Few see him as he really was: a devout Catholic concerned for the eternal salvation of the indigenous peoples he encountered. Rather, it has become fashionable to slander him as deliberately genocidal, a symbol of European imperialism [1], a bringer of destruction, enslavement, and death to the happy and prosperous people of the Americas [2].

In the United States, the vitriol directed against Columbus produces annual protests every Columbus Day. Some want to abolish it as a federal holiday, and several cities already refuse to acknowledge it and celebrate instead “Indigenous Peoples Day” [3].

This movement to brand Columbus a genocidal maniac and erase all memory of his extraordinary accomplishments stems from a false myth about the man and his times.

The so-called Age of Discovery was ushered in by Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) of Portugal. Prince Henry and his sailors inaugurated the great age of explorers finding new lands and creating shipping lanes for the import and export of goods, including consumables never before seen in Europe. Their efforts also created an intense competition among the sailing nations of Europe, each striving to outdo the others in finding new and more efficient trade routes. It was into this world of innovation, exploration, and economic competition that Christopher Columbus was born.

A native of the Italian city-state of Genoa, Columbus became a sailor at the age of fourteen. He learned the nautical trade sailing on Genoese merchant vessels and became an accomplished navigator. On a long-distance voyage past Iceland in February 1477, Columbus learned about the strong east-flowing Atlantic currents and believed that a journey across the ocean could be made because the currents would be able to bring a ship home [4]. So Columbus formulated a plan to seek the east by going west. He knew that such an ambitious undertaking required royal backing, and in May of 1486, he secured a royal audience with King Fernando and Queen Isabel of Spain, who in time granted everything Columbus needed for the voyage.

On August 3, 1492, Columbus embarked from Spain with ninety men on three ships: the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria [5]. After thirty-three days at sea, Columbus’s flotilla spotted land (the Bahamas), which he claimed in the name of the Spanish monarchs. Columbus’s modern-day detractors view that as a sign of imperial conquest. It was not—it was simply a sign to other European nations that they could not establish trading posts on the Spanish possession [6].

On this first voyage, Columbus also reached the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. He stayed four months in the New World and arrived home to fanfare on March 15, 1493. Unfortunately, the Santa Maria ran aground on Hispaniola so was forced to leave forty-two men behind, ordered to treat the indigenous people well and especially to respect the women [7]. But as Columbus discovered on his second voyage, that order was not heeded.

Columbus made four voyages to the New World, and each brought its own discoveries and adventures. His second voyage included many crewmen from his first, but also some new faces such as Ponce de León, who later won fame as an explorer himself. On this second voyage, Columbus and his men encountered the fierce tribe of the Caribs, who were cannibals, practiced sodomy, and castrated captured boys from neighboring tribes. Columbus recognized the Caribs’ captives as members of the peaceful tribe he met on his first voyage, so he rescued and returned them to their homes [8]. This voyage included stops in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

-human sacrifice, Codex Magliabecchiano

-cannibalism, Codex Magliabecchiano

The third voyage was the most difficult for Columbus, as he was arrested on charges of mismanagement of the Spanish trading enterprise in the New World and sent back to Spain in chains (though later exonerated). Columbus’s fourth and final voyage took place in 1502-1504, with his son Fernando among the crew. The crossing of the Atlantic was the fastest ever: sixteen days. The expedition visited Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, and was marooned for a time on Jamaica.

Most accounts of Columbus’s voyages mistake his motives by focusing narrowly on economic or political factors. But in fact, his primary motive was to find enough gold to finance a crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims, as evidenced by a letter he wrote in December 1492 to King Fernando and Queen Isabel, encouraging them to “spend all the profits of this my enterprise on the conquest of Jerusalem” [9]. In this, he believed he was fulfilling conditions for the Second Coming of Christ. Near the end of his life, he even compiled a book about the connection between the liberation of Jerusalem and the Second Coming [10].

Columbus considered himself a “Christ-bearer” like his namesake, St. Christopher [11]. When he first arrived on Hispaniola, his first words to the natives were, “The monarchs of Castile have sent us not to subjugate you but to teach you the true religion” [12]. In a 1502 letter to Pope Alexander VI (r. 1492-1503), Columbus asked the pontiff to send missionaries to the indigenous peoples of the New World so they could accept Christ. And in his will, Columbus proved his belief in the importance of evangelization by establishing a fund to finance missionary efforts to the lands he discovered [13].

Contrary to the popular myth, Columbus treated the native peoples with great respect and friendship. He was impressed by their “generosity, intelligence, and ingenuity” [14]. He recorded in his diary that “in the world there are no better people or a better land. They love their neighbors as themselves, and they have the sweetest speech in the world and [they are] gentle and always laughing” [15]. Columbus demanded that his men exchange gifts with the natives they encountered and not just take what they wanted by force. He enforced this policy rigorously: on his third voyage in August 1500, he hanged men who disobeyed him by harming the native people [16].

Columbus never intended the enslavement of the peoples of the New World. In fact, he considered the Indians who worked in the Spanish settlement in Hispaniola as employees of the crown [17]. In further proof that Columbus did not plan to rely on slave labor, he asked the crown to send him Spanish miners to mine for gold [18]. Indeed, no doubt influenced by Columbus, the Spanish monarchs in their instructions to Spanish settlers mandated that the Indians be treated “very well and lovingly” and demanded that no harm should come to them [19].

Columbus passed to his eternal reward on May 20, 1506.

[1] Carol Delaney, Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem (New York: Free Press, 2011), xii.

[2] See

[3] Marilia Brocchetto and Emanuella Grinberg, “Quest to Change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day Sails Ahead,”, October 10, 2016, accessed April 7, 2017,

[4] The sailors of Columbus’s day did not believe the earth was flat, as is commonly believed, but were afraid about the ability to get home after sailing across the ocean.

[5] Columbus demanded a patent of nobility, a coat of arms, the titles of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and Viceroy and Governor of all discovered lands, plus 10 percent of the revenue from all trade from any claimed territory. Isabel agreed to these terms and both parties signed the Capitulations of Santa Fe on April 17, 1492. See Delaney, Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, 68.

[6] See Delaney, Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, 92.

[7] Ibid., 109.

[8] Ibid., 130.

[9] Ibid., vii.

[10] The book was titled Libro de las Profecías or the Book of Prophecies.

[11] Delaney, Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, 83.

[12] Daniel-Rops, The Catholic Reformation, vol. 2, 27.

[13] Ibid., 159.

[14] Ibid., 97.

[15] Columbus, Diario, 281. Quoted in Delaney, Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, 107. Columbus was a literate man, which was rare for the day. He recorded his observations of the New World in his diary and ship’s log, at a time when keeping logs was not standard practice.

[16] See Delaney, Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, 181.

[17] Ibid., 142.

[18] Ibid., 153.

[19] See Samuel Eliot Morison, trans. and ed., Journals and Other Documents on the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, vol. 1 (New York: Heritage Press, 1963), 204. Quoted in Delaney, Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, 125-126.

“Prior to European contact, journals, letters, and reports prove the New World was not an “egalitarian society” as author, Howard Zinn, claims.

Instead, sources reveal slavery, genocide, sexual exploitation, trafficking, polygamy, violence, sacrifice, and even cannibalism were part of the culture.

Indigenous Slave Trade

According to reports, “wherever European conquistadors set foot in the American tropics, they found evidence of indigenous warfare, war captives, and captive slaves.”[i]

Christopher Columbus recorded in his journal that he “Saw some with marks of wounds on their bodies, and made signs to ask what it was, and they me to understand that people from other adjacent islands came with the intention of seizing them, and that they defended themselves. I believed, and still believe, that they come here from the mainland to take them prisoners.” [ii[

Indigenous Cannibalism

Upon Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the New World, he befriended the Taino tribes and became awar of their horrific experiences with Carib tribes, a barbaric people.

The Taino people warned Columbus of “extremely ferocious…eaters of human flesh who “visit all the native islands, and rob and plunder whatever they can.””[iii]

Reports reveal that the Carib people preferred to eat infants and adult males. Dr. Diego Chanca, a medical expert who traveled with Columbus reported, “When the Caribbees take any boys prisoners, they remove their genitalia, fatten the boys until they grow to manhood and then, when they wish to make a great feast, they kill and eat the young men, for they say the flesh of boys and women is not good to eat.”[iv]

Indigenous Sex Trafficking

Eye witnesses reveal that, “In their wars upon the inhabitants of the neighboring islands, native peoples capture as many of the women as they can, especially those who are young and handsome, and keep them as body sex slaves, eating the children produced, only raising the children they have with women from their own tribe.”[v]

According to contemporary sources, “Dr. Chanca described that the Caribs enslaved so many women that, “in fifty houses we entered no man was found, but all were women.”[vi]

The culture Columbus stumbled upon was one that depended on sex labor, subjugation, and cannibalism of offspring.”

[i] Fernando Sanos-Granero, “Vital Enemies: Slavery, Predation, and the Amerindian Political Economy of Life (Austin University of Texas Press, 2009)

[ii] Columbus, The Journal, 38.

[iii] Nicolo Syllacio, “Syllacio’s Letter to Duke of Milan, 13 December 1494” in Journals and Other Documents on the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison (New York: The Heritage Press, 1963), 237.

[iv] Diego Chanca, “Letters of Dr. Diego Alvarez Chanca”, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1907), Vol 48, 442.

[v] Ibid

[vi] Chanca, “Letter of Dr. Diego Alvarez Chanca”, 442

Pray for the world,

Can Catholics Get Woke?

Noelle Mering

“The woke movement seems to sense that it can grow parasitically off the residue of religion until it has replaced it.

One of the reasons woke ideology has been successful at making inroads among Christian communities is that it feeds off the Christian precept to offer compassion and aid to the marginalized and suffering. This leads to a lot of confusion about whether or not Christians can get woke, with many seeing it as the natural outgrowth of that Christian precept. But as I write in my book, Awake, Not Woke (TAN Books), on both a human and a spiritual level, wokeness is an ideology that harms far more than helps.

It is imperative that we identify how it operates, as it often mimics Christianity, compounding the confusion. Even as society grows more secular, the woke movement seems to sense that it can grow parasitically off the residue of religion until it has replaced it.

One example of how this happens is in connection with the Christian concept of repentance. Under threat of cancelation, people caught on the wrong side of wokeness will often repeat some version of the phrase doing the work in their apology: “Yes, I see where I was wrong, and I am committed now to doing the work.”

On its face, this phrase might strike us as a harmless and even helpful indication that the offender is reflecting on his errors or harmful biases and seeking to undo and repent of them. In this light, it can be compatible with Christian habits of examination, confession, and repentance. This is likely what your nice progressive Aunt Susan thinks is all the phrase means.

Doing the work of woke re-education, however, means coming to see all facets of society through a lens of power and oppression and becoming activists in their undoing. That Aunt Susan does not see the bait-and-switch involved is crucial to the success of the movement.

Here is an incomplete list of what is ultimately involved in doing the work:

  1. Reframing our perspectives to see every person, event, and interaction (no matter how insignificant) through the lens of identitarian group conflict. As celebrity author and woke race guru Robin DiAngelo famously said, the question in any given human interaction is not did racism take place, but rather how did racism take place.
  2. Seeing all Western thought, literature, institutions, ideas, philosophies as fraught systems of oppression and colonization that must be de-centered, destabilized, and disrupted.
  3. Dismantling our understanding of objective moral law and intelligible bodily meaning. Our bodies can mean anything (which assumes that they mean nothing). Sexual repression is an internalized form of political oppression. According to Critical Theory, the academic underpinning of wokeness, moral principles are obstacles to personal liberation.
  4. Committing to silencing (in ourselves and in others) any thoughts or concerns that question the ideology. Such resistance is either false consciousness, if we are in the oppressed group, or further evidence of our complicity and privilege, if we are in the oppressor group.
  5. Committing not to be silent (“silence is violence”), but to use our voices only in support of woke-approved views. (The logic of 4 and 5 combined show how we devolve into compelled speech.)
  6. Seeing that everything is political. Friendships, family, religion, knitting, cooking, even gardening.

While the phrase doing the work is far more loaded than what a good-willed person might suppose, in a deeper way, it is astonishingly reductive. Borrowing from Marxist conflict theory, the woke break apart the world into simplistic binaries of the oppressed and the oppressors. Within any given individual, various identity combinations might mitigate or intensify his victim status and corresponding right to be heard or need to repent. How have I participated, unwittingly or not, in the sins of my ancestors or systemic webs of injustice? Or how have I been harmed by them?

Moral stature is given not according to character, but according to victimization, which creates endless motivation to uncover culprits outside oneself.

This reduction of the moral life into collectivized culpability detached from moral law is irreconcilable with the Christian faith. Though the actions at first glance might bear similarities, Catholicism is directed at reconciling the penitent to God, whereas doing the work is directed at conforming the penitent to the ideology.

The Catholic call to self-examination is both more penetrating and more personal. It is also respectful of the reality of human nature. Four guidelines helpful for confession are that the penitent should be concise, clear, complete, and concrete. These simple guidelines serve to help us see ourselves with clarity and humility.

The human desire to see ourselves and have others see us in a good light can easily corrupt our vision. We are prone to hiding our faults—to deflect, to excuse, to generalize, to conceal. We want to avoid acknowledging our sins plainly and simply. When life goes poorly, we look for anything outside ourselves to blame.

Woke ideology exploits this. Stoking anger and resentment serves well the cause of revolution. But it also obscures our understanding of God’s mercy and love. We reduce Him in our imaginations to a harsh taskmaster rather than a loving father.

While we can hide for some amount of time from ourselves, we cannot hide from God. He already knows what we are—which is good and bad news. The bad news is that He knows our sins. The good news? That means that His love for us is far more sincere and intimate than we might have supposed. In knowing our need, He comes to reveal to us the depth of His love.

Woke ideology is both reductive and totalizing. It is parody of the C.S. Lewis quote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” By doing the work, we begin to see everything as signs and shadows of the power and hatred of man. Through God’s grace and the sacraments, by contrast, we begin to see everything as signs and shadows of the mercy and love of a Father.”

“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.” -1 Peter 5:8

“Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” -Mt 25:13

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” -Eph 5:14

“But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” -Mt 24:43-44

Awake, not woke.