Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
In this newsletter we will continue to reflect on the importance of tradition in the broad sense, to understand how the common traditions of mankind confirm the truth of the sacred history of Genesis, and to show how these traditions hold a key to explaining the collective amnesia of mankind regarding the true history of mankind from creation.
Mythical “Evolution of Religion” Debunked Long Ago
When I was a student in the 1960’s at what were considered the best schools in New York City, I was taught the conventional wisdom in mainstream anthropology, that “primitive man” had a “primitive” religion based on spiritism, which evolved over hundreds of thousands of years into monotheism. According to this view, Moses “invented” a particularly sophisticated form of monotheism for which he took elements of the pagan myths circulating in his Near Eastern environment and fashioned them into the Creation and Flood accounts in the Book of Genesis.
I do not remember anyone in any of my classes, teacher or student, ever calling into question this secular dogma on the evolution of religion, but it is funny to realize that this “accepted view” had already been utterly falsified in serious scholarly circles long before I was born. Thanks to the work of scholars like Fr. Wilhem Schmidt, who carefully examined the testimony of missionaries and explorers who had interacted with “primitive” peoples all over the world, it had become evident by the middle of the twentieth century that the original religion of mankind was not “polytheism” and “spiritism,” but monotheism. Typical of the multitude of testimonies collected by Fr. Schmidt and other researchers was the testimony of the first Catholic missionaries to the Kingdom of Baganda (now Uganda):
The first Catholic missionaries to Uganda were the White Fathers, members of the Society of Missionaries of Africa, founded in 1868 by the Archbishop of Algiers, Cardinal Charles Lavigerie . . . According to the White Fathers:
The ancient religion of the Baganda had been monotheistic. They had worshipped the Creator of all things under various titles: Katonda, the Creator; Mukama, the Master; and Seggulu, the Lord of Heaven. The worship of Katonda, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, was in the early days the basis of public and private morality. The ancient Baganda were said to have been remarkably honest and loyal in their dealings with each other, and to have had a strict code of morality which frowned on polygamy and even forbade immodest talk. When the White Fathers arrived in the Kingdom, the reigning Kabaka was Mutesa I. Mutesa’s reign had begun in 1857, and has been characterized by a strong Arab influence, resulting from extensive commerce between the Arabs of Zanzibar and the East Coast of Africa and the Baganda. For guns, powder, beads and cotton-cloth the Kabaka, who controlled all the wealth of the country, bartered ivory, both black and white. Unfortunately, the Muslim traders also introduced perverse behavior into the Kingdom that the Baganda had never practiced and for which they did not even have words in their language. Kabaka Mutesa had adopted these perverse practices and had begun to impose them on his retinue, especially on the young men of his court.
When Fr. Simon Lourdel appeared for the first time at the court of the Kabaka, he excited the admiration of the king by his practice of priestly celibacy. The Kabaka himself had about 900 wives and although he was strongly attracted to Christianity by the words and example of the French missionaries, he could not bring himself to contemplate putting away all of his wives but one. In October 1879, the Kabaka went so far as to repeatedly request Holy Baptism at the hands of Fr. Lourdel, but Fr. Lourdel explained to him that he could only receive Holy Baptism if he resolved to obey all of the teachings of the Church, including her teaching on Holy Matrimony. This the Kabaka could not accept, and so he rejected the grace of Holy Baptism for the time being. In the meantime, however, a number of young people fell in love with the Truth that emanated from the words and example of the missionaries and soon the first catechumens of Baganda began to prepare for Holy Baptism.
The Baganda memory of a time when their ancestors practiced strict monotheism and monogamy points to a common element of the traditions of mankind—the memory of a time when their connection to the Creator was lost and the chain linking them to their original ancestors was broken.
In his fascinating book Eternity in Their Hearts, missionary researcher Don Richardson records numerous accounts of pagan peoples who retained a vivid memory of the events recorded in Genesis 1-11 right up to modern times, prior to any kind of Christian evangelization. A typical example involved the Santal people of what is now India and their vivid memory of how in their estrangement from the Creator of all things they fell into demon worship:
In 1867 a Norwegian missionary named Lars Skrefsrud began to evangelize the two and a half million called the Santal north of Calcutta in India in their own language.
When he proclaimed the Gospel, the elders responded warmly and said that Thakur Jiu had not forsaken them. Thakur meant “genuine” and “Jiu” meant “God.”
Lars found that the Santal had a memory of the one true Creator God.
They remembered Adam and Eve, the corruption of mankind after the Fall, and the preservation of Noah and his family on “Mount Harata” after a global Flood.
Their descendants migrated eastward until they reached a range of high mountains.
Discouraged, they made a covenant with the Maran Buru, the spirits of the mountains.
A Santal sage named Kolean explained:
“In the beginning we did not have gods. The ancient ancestors obeyed Thakur only. After finding other gods, day by day we forgot Thakur more and more until only His name remained.”
“In this present age it is said by some,” Kolean continued, “that the sun god is Thakur. Therefore, when there are religious ceremonies . . . some people look up to the sun . . . and speak unto Thakur . But our forefathers taught us that Thakur is distinct. He is not to be seen with fleshly eyes, but he sees all. He has created all things. He has set everything in its place, and he nourishes all, great and small.”
Not the least fascinating part of this account involves the distinction between Thakur, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and the Sun. As modern theologians, like Fr. Stanley Jaki, argue that the days of Genesis One cannot be 24-hour days because “there cannot be days without the sun,” we find pagan peoples remembering the distinction between the Creator and the sun as a creature—the very distinction that the Church Fathers offered as the reason for the distinction that God (and His servant Moses) revealed between the creation of light on Day One and the creation of the sun, moon and stars on Day Four of the Hexameron. As long as our ancestors remembered God’s Revelation that He created the Sun on the fourth day of the Hexameron, it was impossible for them to become sun-worshippers. However, as soon as they lost their connection to God’s creation revelation, they easily fell into sun-worship, as did the Egyptians, the Aztecs, and even the Hebrews of the first millennium B.C., when they lost their way and forgot the “sacred history of Genesis.”
Lost Trails Lead to Dead Ends
Most, if not all, of the readers of this newsletter have experienced losing a trail—probably more than once in the course of a lifetime. Here in North America, according to one report, around 2,000 hikers get lost each year while hiking, leading to numerous Search and Rescue (SAR) operations to locate and extract lost hikers:
[One] study analyzed 100+ news reports over the past 25 years to identify the most common ways adults in North America got lost while hiking in national parks and wilderness, what they did to survive, and how they made it out alive. Forty-one percent of the survivors began their odysseys, which ranged from a half-day missing to 90 days, by accidentally straying from the trail. Another 16 percent fell off trail and couldn’t find their way back.
Losing the trail can happen to anyone. It’s not about veering off to get a closer look at the wildflowers or to capture a better landscape photo. According to Andrew Herrington, a survival instructor, search and rescue team leader, and wildlife ranger in the Smokies, it happens to alert, experienced hikers too, most often at what he calls a decision point on the trail. “It could be an actual trail junction,” he says. “It could be a social trail; a little path that leads off to an overlook or something like that.” Or it could be—in the case of Sue Clements, a 53-year-old hiker from Ohio who, in 2018, didn’t survive getting lost in Great Smoky Mountains National Park—a water bar that seems like a trail, but funnels down into a maze of rugged, heavily vegetated terrain.
Not surprisingly, studies show that the number one way that hikers get lost is by not staying on the designated trail. What is more surprising is that most lost hikers do not walk around in circles. They more often wander in squiggly lines, not straight lines, sometimes bending back across a spot they already crossed. According to experts in search and rescue, people who are truly lost in the wilderness rarely travel farther than 100 meters in any one direction.
Reflect on the significance of that fact for a moment.
No matter how intelligent a person may be, once he has become totally disconnected from a trail, he has more and more difficulty finding his way back. He invents a series of possible ways back to the trail in his mind, but his inventions often fail to correspond with reality. He pursues one hypothetical trail, but finds no confirmation of it; so, after a mere hundred meters, he pursues another hypothetical trail with the same result. This behavior finds a perfect analog in the behavior of modern man since the so-called Enlightenment. Until then, Christian and pagan societies traced their ancestry back to the Tower of Babel, to the Flood and to Creation. The Catholic kings and queens of Europe could trace their lineages back to Japheth, and, from Japheth, all the way back to Adam.
With the advent of the so-called Enlightenment, thinkers like Rene’ Descartes and Immanuel Kant called all of this into question. Like hikers who had left a well-marked trail, they began to invent new ways to orient themselves in the universe. An important consequence of this disorientation was the loss of connection with their flesh and blood past. Like hikers desperately trying to orient themselves after losing a trail, they began to invent a new past. Instead of accepting the tradition of their ancestors and of the Catholic Church, that the first created things were created “at once” from the beginning of time, they began to imagine that these things came into existence gradually, through the same kinds of material processes that they could observe in the present. Soon they had created their own myths regarding the origin of the sun, moon, and stars over long ages of time, the gradual formation of the rocks of the Earth, the production of plants and animals, and, finally, man.
However, like lost hikers who rarely travel farther than 100 meters in any one direction, the modern-day prophets of the past continually contradict themselves and each other with their wild conjectures, since none of them has any connection to the first period of human history, the record of which was handed down to them, inerrant, in the sacred history of Genesis and in a more or less garbled form in the traditions of the various peoples of mankind. The farther they stray from the authentic traditions of the Church and of mankind, the more disoriented they become, inventing more and more fantastic fictions to explain the origins of man and the universe, always speculating, but never arriving at any solid truth.
Let us thank God that He has granted us the grace to retain or regain our Faith in His creation revelation and in the sacred history of Genesis. And let us use the DVD series “Foundations Restored” and the other resources that He has provided, so that all of our brothers and sisters in the Faith can rediscover and embrace that Revelation.
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,
P.S. In September I will make a far-reaching road trip for the Kolbe Center with a mid-point presentation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on September 19. If anyone can arrange a talk or a seminar anywhere between Virginia and Kansas-Missouri to the west or between Kansas-Missouri and Wisconsin to the north before the 19th, or between Wisconsin and Virginia after the 19th, please let me know, so that we can plan accordingly.