If you’re looking for some reading to kick off this Lenten season, you could do a lot worse than this meditation from Tony Esolen:
Suppose I commit a grave sin. It does not matter what sort it is. The materialist says to me, “Yes, you did wrong, according to the customs of our age, and perhaps even according to the dictates of reason, if you follow them to their conclusion,” though of course no one is going to consult a book of modern rationalist philosophy before robbing a bank or deflowering the neighbor’s daughter, and it is much to be doubted that the book would decide the matter anyway. “But,” he continues, “you were programmed that way.” And here it does not matter what form the programming takes. “In fact, there really isn’t a ‘you’ who committed the action; we only use that pronoun because we can’t practically live otherwise. Now then, don’t you feel better?” Well, no, I don’t feel better. I feel immeasurably worse. For now I am even farther from forgiveness and healing than ever I was. When I committed the sin, at least I bore the dignity of sin; it was a weight on my shoulders, but it was a weight I took upon myself, and a weight that might someday be lifted. Now I am told that the weight is simply a part of my makeup; it will never be lifted; I should not even care whether it is lifted.