Chapter V – Spiritus Mundi: Babylon
“Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.” – City of God, Book XIV Chapter 28, St. Augustine
The Christian religious world view is a theology of history that presents an eternal struggle between opposed powers: the forces of darkness incarnate in Babylon, the City of the Earth, and the hosts of light represented by Jerusalem, the City of a Heavenly and Divine origin. Babylon, stands for unregenerate humanity ruled by the spiritus mundi, a spirit that is the antithesis of the Gospel of Christ, whose character is the denial of the Cross and the celebration of self-love in the three lusts or the three concupiscences: “the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)
The spiritus mundi is a psychological orientation that extols the carnality of man and affirms the happiness of his animality. This orientation of the psyche, of the soul, directs towards the flesh, and towards the Earth. It cancels the power of the Sign of Redemption, the Greek Tau, by annulling the spirit in the human being in its celebration of vice and its derision and its denial of virtue. It presents a “concupiscence of the flesh” for it poses the animal order in the human person as the end of the activity of the rational soul. The flesh is concupiscent, that is, it seeks lust, avarice, and gluttony. A concupiscence that sets as good the seven capital vices, comprehending them as an authentic expression and a progressive life of human freedom. In contemporaneous times, the lust of the flesh is evident in the general adoption of hedonism as an acceptable rule of behavior. Clearly, human development has been accompanied with the concomitant rejection of the Judeo-Christian moral heritage, a development that is certainly visible in the change of social mores and attitudes in relation to human sexuality and of the status of the female gender. Specially, in the developed countries, societies emphasize the happiness of the temporal age, the enjoyment of the present existence in contraposition to the beatitude of the Eternal Kingdom. The openness towards the understanding and the love of human sexuality, is an artifice that has been turned into a powerful means of temptation and of lasciviousness that sets believers on the path towards a febrile faith, or even, towards nonfaith. The means of communication, the press, the cinema, television, and particularly the Internet, present engaging depictions of human sexuality that in consequence, influence the behavior and the lives of the faithful in contradiction to the Ten Commandments. The cinema and television regularly display depictions of nudity, violence, and sexual acts that oppose the natural law, and the Divine law. The demotion of the Judeo-Christian moral heritage has contributed to the current condition in which fornication, adultery, homosexuality, abortion and contraception are presented as the norm of moral behavior. Pornography is a special scourge that destroys the moral foundations of society, deprives sexuality of its natural end, renders the human conscience insensitive to sin, and cancels spirituality and the soul in the human person. The spiritus mundi, is the Adversary of the Gospel of Christ and evidences vice as acceptable conduct for the human being. The current times, elevate the glory of the hedonist life and the satisfaction of the needs of the flesh are comprehended to be the final end of human activity, since, in the last analysis, the human being is merely an animal.
Vanity resides in “the concupiscence of the eyes”. The spirit of the world is one that is marked by the character of the emphasis on the appearances. The present man is characterized by superficiality, by a condition that sets the existence of the human being on the surface of his person, rather than on the unconscious depths and important breadths of the rational, spiritual, and immortal soul. Vanity, a love for the comfort of existence and for the things of the Earth is taught commonly and the human creature is regularly concerned with the satisfaction of apparent needs that in reality, have no necessity and which do not offer lasting happiness, but only momentary joy. Post-modern culture places a focus on the enjoyment of material life; through music, the cinema, television, the Internet and the press, humans are educated into a consideration of ends that values the cult of the body, the modern tendency of fashion and regularly present an attractive appearance, the pursuit of a career that would offer wealth, honor, and prestige, the possession of goods – such as homes and automobiles – that convey prosperousness and technological advancement. Fashionable attire appears to be an end of urban socialization as teenagers and adults prove their visible need to present a good impression, and even impress through clothing that is suitable to generate envy and respect, romantic interest, and sexual attraction. Very often, the spirit of fashion is a spirit of immodesty, irreverence, and rebellion. Contemporary music reflects and is an influence on the vain aspirations of the present population with its glorification of materialism, superficiality, sexuality, violence, and criminal behavior. Hip hop is a cultural movement borne out of the rap music genre which emerged among the African American population and which during the decades of the 1990s and the 2000s was evident for its misogyny and vanity, its celebration of promiscuity, and its popular expression of crime as a necessary means of survival, and as an acceptable way of life that permits a management of poor social and economic conditions. Concupiscence in the eyes signifies a tendency towards an attitude of the soul that focuses on sense. Qohelet, in the book of Wisdom decries this behavior of man: “Vanity of vanities… Love for novelty[…]
The most serious lust of the human psyche, is pride. Pride is one of the seven capital vices whose character is directly opposed to charity and humility. Pride, is the elevation of the self above the Divine Personality and is termed “the disorder of the intellect”. The human creature has reasons to experience pride. Over the centuries, humanity has realized suprahuman feats in its achievement of civilization through the technological conquest of the natural and physical world, the accumulation of an encyclopedia of knowledge on manifold areas of reality, and the improvement of human, social, and political conditions. Mankind has erected a City of Man apart from Divine Reason, and above the religious authority of the Magisterium, the Teacher of the Nations. At present, the rapid pace of human technology is the greatest cause of human pride. The human being has increased in the capacity to convey information through the scientific mastery of physical electricity, matter and abstract computer language. The 21st century, is the Age of Information and of human Technology, an age in which man radically alters the manner of interpersonal relationship between individuals and creates inventions that bridge space, time, culture, and thought. The primary utility of the cellular phone is the communication of voice and radio signals of the electromagnetic spectrum transmitted to satellite towers in space. Currently, the cellular phone is a device that functions as an alternate personal computer, with the capacity to transmit voice and sound, but also image and video over a network and the Internet. It has become an indispensable means of communication and of transmission of information between human individuals and access to a cellular phone also represents an economic investment in the process of social ascension and the initiation of the acculturation into the progressive language and spiritual atmosphere of the post-modern globalized world. A reality that is also verified in the advances in the personal computer itself. The personal computer in the developed nations has metamorphosed from a source of private leisure into a means of the achievement of profession, and in fact, a vehicle of the current civilization with its desire for progress and its emphasis on novelty, and its tentative at offering the human individual the capacity to realize his inherent potential. The social media such as Facebook and Twitter are in current times, an instantaneous reflection of the cultural zeitgeist displaying in their post-modernity, a representation of certain dynamism and the cosmopolitan multiculturalism of a multi-polar world; social media are a powerful vehicle of self-expression, an increasing replacement for tangible social interaction, a means for organization and politicization, and a reality of the paradoxical disappearance of the privacy of authentic individual identity in the face of an omni-competent and totalitarian State. The attempt at offering a solution for the solitude and the anonymity that is the consequence of urbanization and economic development reveals the post-modern crisis of solidarity and community erased a century ago by collectivity, mass production, and mass organization. The “pride of life”, which the Apostle identifies, is the reason for the current predicament and the question that technology faces is that of the erection an authentic and human community within a manner of life that is regulated by mechanics and characterized by artifice. In short, it is the problem of the creation of a community of persons, rather than a society of individuals.
Love is the central power that animates the rational creature. Babylon, the City of Man, seeks to build its edifice on a love that is the antithesis of the altruism that is the essence of the Gospel of Christ: self-love. The love for man, for his self, as the center of spiritual life and rational activity that is elevated above the love for God, who ought to be the heart of the human soul. Self-love is a disorder in the consideration of man’s final end, which is communion with God. Love of self is a positive quality that resides in the human person and that is a natural inclination of the human soul, in truth, a necessary and good love for one’s own existence. Nevertheless, self-love in current times has mutated into an egotism that results in a certain infantilism, a difficulty, voire, an impossibility for the human person to relate fundamentally with God and with neighbor. In retrospect, self-love, is pride, and is the reason for the misery of the human creature and the cause for the persistence and the continuance of Evil on the Earth. Post-modern man displays an inordinate love of self, and the emphasis on the love of the human self apart from Divine Law and Divine Grace actually contributes to destruction, a definite nihilism apparent, in perhaps, the innocent generalization of an act that constitutes a fundamental violation of the natural law: suicide.
The spiritus mundi results in the rejection of God and of His Law, in an attempt at the affirmation of human autonomy and independence from Divine rule. The City of Man seeks to realize human progress apart from the Creator, rejecting the antique wisdom that once placed in religion the justification of human existence and the true realization of human happiness. Babylon, the lost City, represents unregenerate humanity possessed by lust, content in its ignorance of Divine Truth, fascinated by the adoration of animality whose sole orientation is the rational realization of the natural good of the Earth.