What comes to mind when you think of masquerades? Balls? Phantom of the Opera? Costumes? Beautiful dresses? Charades? Harmless fun or deceit and treachery?
Today or a by-gone era?
Masquerading about is certainly not something relegated only to previous centuries. Neither was (is) it without controversy then or now. Let’s see how the masquerade applies today after first taking a peak at the past for a bigger perspective.
The Masquerade Balls date back to the 14th and 15th centuries; they began as part of Europe’s carnival season according to Savannah Cox [All That Is Interesting author ]. She states that “when tied with the Venetian Carnival celebrations, masquerade balls (of the past centuries) were rife with decadence, gluttony and a large amount of lust.” Gradually, the balls retreated from popularity until Count John James Heidegger of England revitalized them during the 18th century by “bringing costumes from Venetian balls to public dances in gardens across London. This helped transform the night of sin synonymous with unescorted ladies and drunkards into an occasion for The Man of Taste. And while some disputed the immorality and influence of the masquerade ball, particularly in colonial America, the pomp of the glamorous dances once again saw the masquerade ball grace some of the finest halls in the world.”
This in part explains how and why masquerades can be bewitching. The false show or pretense pulls many of us into the make-believe and some of us get stuck there or do things based of falsehoods rather than reality. Some simply can’t see beyond the various masques (masks) used to deceive or pull off the bluff. From 1957 - 1968, a ‘reality show’ entitled To Tell the Truth was quite popular and was a modern day masquerade filled with intrigue and entertainment. According to Brian Washington [ <Sargebri@att.net>] To Tell the Truth featured a person of some notoriety and two impostors who tried to trick a panel of celebrities into thinking that he/she was the real Mr. or Ms. So and So. The object of the game was to bluff well enough so that the celebrities would vote for the imposter. Each vote earned the person up to $250.
Similarly, twenty - first century online role playing is another modern era masquerade. Assuming an avatar or an alter-ego is entertaining to many people. Like the great balls of the past, this type of masquerading seems harmless enough to those seeking a temporary escape from reality. Yet for some, it becomes addictive and thus problematic.
But there are more serious masquerades that are occurring today that we need to think about. These re-make reality into make-believe and visa versa. For example, let’s begin with a forewarning against making theological appropriations that are too limiting with regard to the Creator and then apply it to everyday life.
Father Maurice Zundel warned that we have to be on guard against making “theological appropriations which have amounted to a true catastrophe in the sense that we too often limit Father to Creator, Son to Redeemer and Holy Spirit to Sanctifier. This produces a false sense of divinity.” In a nutshell it reduces God to something He is supernaturally superior to! This mis-appropriation inverts the truth about God! Father Zundel warns us that we also have to be on guard against making loose human appropriations. For example, Father Zundel explains that just as there can be no marriage unless there is nuptial reciprocity, there is no bride without a bridegroom and no parent without having a child and no child without having a parent.” [Magnificat, April 30, 2015. 372} And that is where the Great Masquerade of the 21st Century obfuscates and confuses many.
The great masquerade began during the Fall in the Garden of Eden. It continues today when it is argued that divorce does not harm women and children - that difficulties in marriage can be settled by not attributing fault to anyone. In fact some have argued that divorce helps to lift up children and women. It has even been argued that divorce helps children by creating circumstances whereby they now have 2 mothers, 2 fathers, and 4 grandmothers instead of the usual numbers. Few argued that family pyramids that get too top-heavy tumble far too easily. Has anyone asked the children about their feelings and preferences? Most assuredly, the adults invovled try and convince the children rather than the other way around.
The Grand Masquerade confuses couples into thinking that children are the problem whereas dogs and cats are not. It tricks people into white-washing the existing social problems out of fear of being called judgmental. It creates so many illusions, many of us don’t know which problem to attack or with what degree of vigor. It treats the family as being a myriad of relationships and configurations whereas in fact, it still takes one father and one mother to create the child even though that child may not ever know his/her biological parents! The masquerade also tends to position parents as incapable of doing what's right and presume that it takes a village to raise a child when in fact it takes a strong family to create the welcoming village. It arms teenagers with enough arrogance and independence to do what they want while still on their parents’ dole without calling for actual conseqeunces.
Previously, society was concerned about the effect of divorce, remarriage and out of wedlock births on the larger society. Today, those worries are mostly background noise to previaling arguments for women’s rights (but only as far as sexual freedom concerns), income re-distribution, climate change, religious freedoms, hate speech, same sex marriage, gender transformation,, cloning and surrogacy and other assisted reproduction techniques. etc.
We have spent too many years and decades making theological misappropriations with regard to God and his Creation and the actual status of the human creature. We have botten confused by the various masquerades around us. Wrong headed philosophies have inserted themselves into our everyday thinking making it seem as if we have it all right only to see that we have headed in the wrong direction.
Just yesterday, I heard a political commentator ask a presidential candidate this question: “As you know there is not one type of family anymore, what are you going to do about the various problems in the various families?” That is a zero-win scenario for any politician. Those that pretend they can easily address this are simply creating another masquerade. Those that suggest the solutions are tough come across as thoughtless, bigotted, and losers. It will be difficult to escape the masquerading that is for sure but always possible.
It is never too late to unveil the masques. Begin by asking tough questions of everyone - friends, family and other persons of influence - in all the right ways. Sort out your own mis-appropriations and false assumptions from the truth. Seek the truth and it will set you free of the masquerade. For example, when told that two fathers are better than one; ask how and why. Seekl truth not opinion. Ask about the real yearnings we all have- to know, love and serve God. Ask about the real psychological, social, spiritual, emotional and economic consequences of every social issue in question. And let’s keep asking until the masquerading is over.