Truth and "Truth," Freedom and "Freedom"
Paraphrasing Ratzinger, this is how man, instead of being in the image of the Creator, becomes his own idol. Such auto-idolatry "is the image of what Christian tradition would call the devil -- the anti-God -- because it harbors exactly the radical antithesis to the real God."
Thus, to the extent that we "liberate" ourselves from our divine prototype, we open the way "to dehumanization, to the destruction of being itself through the destruction of truth." Any radical liberation movement, whether Marxism, feminism, homosexualism, etc., ends up "a rebellion against man's very being, a rebellion against truth, which consequently leads man... into a self-contradictory existence which we call hell."
You know the old gag, "I don't believe in miracles, I only rely on them." Well, I don't believe in hell or the devil, I just struggle against their annoying powers and principalities every day.
About the self-contradictory nature of modernity. Me, I can't stand contradictions. If I detect one in my melon, I feel compelled to resolve it, or synthesize it at a higher level (or formulate an irreducible orthoparadox).
For example, the typical modern sophisticate will generally hold an implicit metaphysic which simultaneously renders freedom impossible while elevating it to a kind of absolute value. He never pauses to inquire into the real nature of freedom, i.e., what it is, how it got here, what we're supposed to do with it, etc.
But as Ratzinger says, "freedom is tied to a measure, the measure of reality," which is to say, "to the truth." Thus, "freedom to destroy oneself or to destroy another is not freedom, but its demonic parody." In short, freedom is not the measure of man, for if so, man truly is a big nothing, just as that big nobody Sartre said. Rather, man must be the measure of freedom, "otherwise it annuls itself."
Imagine believing that, since we are free to eat anything we want, we can live on sawdust and grass clippings. This obviously won't work, because our body is what it is, so our freedom to eat is conditioned by that prior truth.
The upshot is that just as there can be no I in the absence of the prior We, there can be no freedom in the absence of the prior Truth. Furthermore, the immediate implication is that freedom not only implies responsibility, but that responsibility is prior to truth. Here again, this is illuminated by Genesis, which shows that with man's freedom comes responsibility. But Adam prefers freedom without responsibility, and off we go.
"The truth shall set you free." This radical and revolutionary statement has not only lost its power to shock, but is probably ignored by most people. But to turn it around, the absence of truth means the absence of freedom. Thus, the Lie enslaves, the biggest and most tenured lie of all being the postmodern idea that there is no such thing as truth, only "truth" and therefore only "freedom."
Ratzinger calls this counterfeit freedom "a regulated form of injustice." For example, if we have a radical right to "sexual freedom," this means that human sexuality has no order, no telos, no reason except for one enclosed in Narcissus' own reflection. Being that this imprisonment is a "right," the right must be enforced, which is how it becomes against the law to decline to cater a make-believe marriage, or for a psychologist try to help a person overcome his homosexual urges. In the modern world, regulated injustice masquerades as freedom.
We only give a child more freedom as they prove themselves responsible enough to deal with it. Why then do leftists call for the "liberation" of Palestinian savages? Or, why does Obama treat morally insane mullahs as responsible adults?
We might say that truth is not in man per se, but reflected in man. Analogously, the moon is not the sun, but the light that reflects from it is not other than the sun. Thus, man must orient himself to the truth, and conduct himself in light of it. Ultimately our freedom exists in the space between us and God, which again is the antithesis of the narcissistically self-enclosed and self-regarding "freedom" of liberalism.
"Responsibility would thus mean to live our being as an answer -- as a response to what we are in truth.... This truth becomes visible in the mirror of God's essence, because man can be rightly understood only in relation to God." For real freedom is "the fusion of our being with the divine being..." (Ratzinger).