"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

May 13, 2011

Answering Some Staggering Naivete

The primary moral consideration of Christianity - for the individual - is self preservation.

Christianity, in even its most tolerable anabaptist and antinomian forms, posits an all powerful creator God who has seen fit to structure the universe in order to test the inhabitants of a single planet revolving around a single star, among billions of stars in a single galaxy among billions of galaxies.

Failure to pass this test will result in an eternity of suffering, ordained, planned and meticulously applied by the same God who wrote the test. An outcome which is itself foreseen and foreordained. Assuming for a moment that the Christian God possesses the attributes commonly assigned to him - omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience - he cannot but know in advance who will fail this test for membership in eternity. And although he is at every juncture of events, at every point in the universe,  and with complete knowledge of all outcomes, real and potential, he lets it all happen in a manner guaranteed to condemn the majority of His creations to an eternity of suffering.

Let's put this into some perspective. Let's imagine that an infant is born in the US at the very moment I hit the publish button. That it is a female, and will therefore have a life expectancy of about 78 years. Let us assume that this infant is tortured from the moment she is born until the moment she expires, almost eighty years into our world of possible futures. That for each and every moment of her existence someone is deliberately causing her pain and harm.

A horrific, unjust and mind numbingly cruel existence, no?

Let's be clear.

We're not talking the scrapes and booboos with band aids on them sort of harm. This is about Biblical harm. This is the God who thought it just to have the women of his enemies torn open and left to spill out on the sand. The motherfucker who recommended the cleaving in two of children, as an object lesson. Who prescribed the death penalty for back talk.  Demonic tortures and lakes of fire suffering, folks. Complete and total agony, alienation and torment. All consuming damnation and violation.

Eighty terrible years of it.

A long time. A long fucking time.

The sort of person or being who did this to a person would rightfully if somewhat tamely be called a monster. All words are deficient to describe the kind of creature who could savagely torture a person for eighty years. I don't think the collective languages of the human race have yet included a strong enough term to embody this level of depravity.*

Now, let's consider the age of the universe so far. About fourteen billion years, give or take. Or one hundred and seventy five million eighty year lifetimes. Since there is no consensus on how long the universe will last, and with it being quite possibly "flat" and containing enough "dark matter" to perhaps expand indefinitely, let's assume for a moment that the universe has a shelf life of about fifteen trillion years. That is one hundred eighty seven billion five hundred million eighty year life spans.

According to his own alleged Book and the reports of his believers over a duration of nearly one quarter of all recorded human history, the Christian god will torture you for longer than that. For ever. It will never stop. The alleged founder of Christianity is not unclear here. You will experience this unending torment for "bad" thoughts. For thinking about a man or woman "lustfully." For falling in love and fornicating with a person of the same gender or sex. For being drunk. For denying that He exists. For praying the wrong way. For eating shellfish, if you believe Him when he says he did not come to abolish the Law. For speaking in anger to a brother. Which, if you've ever had a younger brother, is a guarantee of damnation. For just being born.

For just being born. That's the Christian doctrine. You were born condemned to everlasting suffering.

It's like He wants you to fail. Human languages ought to have a description for the sort of monster who sets up tests you absolutely cannot but fail, who only rescues those whom please him, and who shitkicks to slavering destruction anyone who does not. Something to the right of "raping torturing disemboweling murdering pederast psychopath."

You will be consigned to damnation and an unending, ceaseless eternity of torment for offenses and crimes you commit against this God over a period of time that will perhaps only be one two hundred billionth the total duration of the universe.

Christians know this about their faith. It's why they place such a heavy emphasis on "salvation." Salvation means begging the monster not to torture you for ever, and then despite the firm knowledge that He is in fact a monster, taking His word on it when He unctuously promises He'll deliver your from His chamber of endless suffering because you were so terrified that you begged Him nicely not to bully you for eternity.

Christian practice and belief center on preventing this exact and terrible outcome. The Christian ethic is about keeping an inconceivably psychopathic cosmic bully placated enough to give his besty best sycophants a pass in the hope that he'll focus his monstrous eye on somebodies else, somebodies stupid enough to forget to beg, and beg correctly - so that he'll torture them** for two hundred billion eighty year life spans before he does it all over again. And again. And again.

Despite what some good and naive people think, this is not compatible with communism.***

* - a bit of an exaggeration on my part. There is a word. It's "God."

** - A point not to be neglected. Christianity excludes. It separates the sheep from the goats. You get to heaven because someone else went to hell. That's pretty damned antithetical to communism.

*** - Hell, it's not even compatible with the very worst years of the Stalinist dominion. Stalin's victims got to die and finally be done with it.


davidly said...

I like this logic. It effectively anticipates the "but that doesn't represent the true message" argument.

Though, if I might: There are some myths among us which might serve as a profound insight into this thing we are going through. And they are open-source (re: individual reinterpretation, addenda, books, etc.), although the authors appear to have failed to note in every case the precise changes upon "republication". And I'd hate to think that Wikipedia would be thought the creation of The Omniscient Web-Master.

Why do people forget that the biggest part of the myth is the idea that the Words had been dictated from a god?

Based on the universal nature of so much of that archeology, one must be skeptical of any attempt at cloaking them in absolutes and using it to garner subservience up until the hereafter. I am the master of my own domain, I'll take my chances with what comes next, thank you.

As a side note, as it relates to Christendom, the film 'Rapture' with Mimi Rogers has a great ending, though I don't recall the whole thing to be all that recommendable.

senecal said...

Early christianity flourished among the poor, dispossessed and persecuted. It's message was hope. Jesus' message was that the poor shall inherit the earth, not a bad message, unless you're of the ruling class. The damnation trope came later as the Church tried to establish its secular power.

It's easy to attack that side of it. Maybe you should consider the delusory message of hope as the more insidious.

Jack Crow said...


Damnation was original to Christianity. And while Origen's view obviously did not win out, he even accepted at a very earl date that sinners would suffer for a very, very long time, before God got around to saving everyone. Christianity is a punitive faith.

And the view of Christianity as being the early exclusive demesne of the downtrodden is popular, but not historical. Christianity was embraced by Roman patrician families at an early historical moment, and it was they who would provide the bishops, church lands and Church structure from very early on.


I did anticipate the essence versus expression argument. I don't find it convincing, though I understand why people make it. I have immeasurable regard for Christians like Bonhoeffer or Kolbe - people who read in the Gospels a reason to live extraordinary lives. But their individual interpretations and choices don't really alter what Christendom, and then Christianity, are and were: the material manifestation in a belief that God was such a monster that he must be placated in order to prevent eternal damnation. The Church used excommunication effectively for almost fifteen centuries, because salvational anxiety ran that deep.

Elsewhere, Cuneyt argued that Nietzsche saw an overlap between Christianity and socialism. Having not read the Neetch in the original language, I must rely on translators (Kaufmann and Hollingdale, mostly) and reading those translations, it seems more accurate to say that the Neetch understood the underlying motivation of early Christianity and early socialism: resentment (or, to keep his usage, resentiment).

I think that's a valid accusation, but it's not the same as saying that Christianity and Socialism are compatible. The socialist view assumes that humans are capable of making a decent society in our lifetimes, with the material at hand. The Christian view, well, does not. The Christian ethic depends fundamentally on human depravity. Socialism rejects that depravity as a universal, and assigns it its proper place - among the ruling class.

Is there room to accept Nietzsche's accusation in a critique of socialism? I think so, because I also believe resentment to be incompatible with the need to live with others. It'd be interesting to read others' take on the same.

Peter Ward said...

It had to be J.R. Boyd, didn't it?!

But Lady Poverty is a good source of laughs--I hope he keeps at it.

senecal said...

Jack: there's nothing elitist or patrician at all about Jesus' words or acts, by themselves, as reported by the first three gospels. I consider the core Jesus a revolutionary, a trouble-maker, with some doctrinal dressing added later to conform with the by then conservative institution of the church.

Jack Crow said...

Jesus' words establish and describe a kingdom. Kingdom. A kingdom. With him on top. With an earthly vicarage run by a priesthood from its very first days. James and Peter and the twelve were a priesthood, an aristocracy of faith. Christianity, especially for the Johannine and Pauline branches which were to merge in only about seventy years time, embraced and sacralized slavery, obedience to earthly power and eternal damnation.

Jesus was as revolutionary as a Tea Party proto-fascist. Christianity has always been conservative. The Romans didn't find umbrage with it because it was revolutionary. They suppressed it because its God was unseen and therefore impossible to incorporate into the State religion. But the early church was a systemic hierarchy run by Roman patricians, or by the desposyni* in Antioch and Palestine (that is, people claiming hereditary leadership and priesthood, through relationship to the alleged Christ figure, one Jesus the Nazirite).

Never mind the bloodthirsty monster who populates the pages of The Apocalypse of John.

* - blood relatives of The Master, the boss, the despot

Gabriel said...

Mr. Crow,
This is a willfully disingenuous portrayal of a tradition whose impact on humanity has been closer to a net good than any other in history. Like all things built of men, particularly those that gain power, it has some sorry chapters in history. But to focus on the evils committed by the hierarchy is to ignore the true church, the body of Christ. Not that it is unblemished by evil acts by majorities, but it is certainly unfair paint the picture as one-sidedly as you have.
As regards theology, the point is not that God is a blood thirsty monster, but that man is fallen and requires outside assistance to even know which way is up and then follow it. As a sometime misanthrope, I'm surprised you think this is a crazy position. As a believer, I think the adoption of Christianity by the empire was one of the greatest tragedies in its history (which is easy to say from our enlightened, pluralistic viewpoint, I admit). Power does what it do.
I think that the antiwar movement should hold Christian feet to the fire until the cognitive dissonance is unbearable. I can sympathize with your impatience and assumption of rank hypocrisy among the faithful, but as I have said, I am now in your camp on many issues, and I am not endowed with greater than average moral sense. John Caruso's concept of the DOTIGOTUS is a very good thing to keep in mind when arguing with people that really believe anything.
Please forgive the disjointed thoughts.

Jack Crow said...

Christianity is not "closer to a net good" than anything else in human history.

Maybe vaccines, soap, washing machines or regular dental care.

But not the tradition of salvational anxiety and unremitting holy war.

And "man is fallen"? That's the source on good? How so?

Let me try this out on my kids. I'm sure after I spend ten or so years teaching them that they're incapable of rescuing themselves from depravity they've inherited just by being human, that they're so fundamentally sinful that God has to murder people in order to get them to pay attention, they'll just wake up one day and decide to make the world like, um, good or something.

Fuck that, thank you.