Fight and Build

Way of NehemiahWhen I first took over managing The Socratic Catholic several months back, I laid out an idea for what I called “The Way of Nehemiah.” For those who don’t recall, Nehemiah was a Jewish leader who returned to Israel from the Babylonian captivity in order to help his people rebuild their city.

Nehemiah’s task was not an easy task. The Jews were surrounded by enemy nations and had to continuously fend off attacks, even as they worked to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. As recounted in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, “Of them that built on the wall and that carried burdens, and that laded: with one of his hands he did the work, and with the other he held a sword.”

In other words, God’s people had to fight off enemy attacks and build for the future, both at the same time.

I believe that we as Catholics face a somewhat analogous situation today. There is evil all around us, including within the Church Herself, and those evils must be vigorously combatted.  But it’s not enough for us to fight. We must also be building.

Even as we push back against the forces of darkness, against “the spirits of wickedness in the high places,” we must be nourishing our Catholic enclaves with the good, the true, and the beautiful. By doing this, we will be laying the groundwork for the new Christian order that is to come at whatever time God in His wisdom has appointed for it.

As an example of what I mean, I would point out that oftentimes many of us, as Catholics, have been asked to participate in boycotts of individuals or companies that have in some way offended God. It is good and important for us to do this sort of thing, for as Richard Burton eloquently puts it in his portrayal of St. Thomas Becket in the 1964 film, “The kingdom of God must be defended like any other kingdom.”

Again, though, boycotting—a means of fighting evil—is not enough. We shouldn’t be content with refusing to give our financial support to that which is bad. We should also actively support that which is good. And there is much that is good.

Even in today’s corrupt world there are many devout and talented Catholic individuals in the fields of art, literature, music, business, and so on, though oftentimes they are not well known. It would be excellent if we could discover and support these people. In this way, we could help their work have a greater impact on society, and we would be able to be more confident that our money wasn’t being used to further wicked causes.

Promoting and supporting the positive alternatives to the trash that the broader world offers would also be beneficial to us in that it would keep us from focusing too much on that which is negative. It’s easy to get caught up in the scandals that surround us every day, and this can sometimes lead to bitterness or even to despair. As Catholics, though, we need to recognize that God created the world good, and that there is still plenty of good left in it. It’s up to us to find that good, to support it, and to encourage it so that it might grow and help reshape our society.


– Nicholas Kaminsky




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