How times haven’t changed

I was reading the first chapter of the letter of St. Paul to the Romans this morning before heading off to work, and his words sparked a memory of a particularly appropriate section of a great poem:

“Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,”
Said then the lost Archangel, “this the seat
That we must change for Heav’n?–this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since He
Who now is sov’reign can dispose and bid
What shall be right. Farthest from Him is best
Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme
Above His equals. Farewell, happy fields,
Where joy forever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail,
Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell,
Receive thy new possessor–one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than He
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free. Th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for His envy, will not drive us hence.
Here we may reign secure and, in my choice,
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell.
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n”

– Milton, Paradise Lost 1.242-263

It seems like many in our culture have imbibed these words of Satan. They have exchanged God for a pale semblance, their own works. What can we do to stem the tide?

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