Hey! Coming off a long, fun weekend. Something was clarified for me at some point — perhaps while staying up till 3 in the morning playing poker and a new card game I hadn’t played before but thoroughly enjoyed — and that is this: it’s fine to feel kind of bad about having to get rid of those people who are so singularly focused on besting everyone around them all the time, but it’s morally repugnant not to get rid of them because you feel bad about it. I realized something while hanging out with people who have a lot in their lives that could allow them to really pull that “I have better things/circumstances/potentialities etc. than you. Or you. And you. Therefore, I am am better/I win/you lose” or whatever. You don’t have to be that way. And if you are that way, you have some pretty serious insecurity issues and, in the event you try to make people feel really bad about the things they have by comparison, you really kind of suck. Because being thankful for the good things in your life is something everyone should reflect on and, if you allow yourself to be around people who put down your good things as not good enough, it makes it difficult to feel thankful sometimes. So, morality dictates that in order to be free in spirit enough to be thankful, you have to remove the impediment. Sure, that can be sad if the impediment is a person from whom you expect better behavior. But it has to be done. Sad. But hopeful. Always hopeful. Anyway, I found something in this book — I always turn to Clive when I need help with this stuff — and I’ll put it below. It makes sense to me. But now, other things…
Okay, the Olympics opening ceremony kind of made me understand why Romney was slightly more critical than everyone thought he should be. It was like a light bulb went off. As for the controversy here, I’m just going to say it: this piece is beautiful. Unbelievable and haunting. It is my favorite kind of dance and hit me in the stomach. But I see nothing about memorializing the London dead. Rather, I see a celebration of ideology. You can dislike that assessment it you want but as someone who’s been dancing her whole life, I’m pretty well versed on where choreographers are going in their theme. So, I actually think NBC has played this one rather well.
Speaking of dance, thanks for the heads up on this Ali P. This is on the list. At the top.
Yes. Dana Vollmer, you made me go swim laps Sunday. You kick and I’ve never seen fly faster. Indeed, The Olympics has never seen it faster.
And, while they should have taken the relay, Lochte was just beautiful here. Look forward to seeing Phelps swim fly tomorrow…
Seriously Newsweek? Look down. Shark.
I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully ‘All will be saved.” But my reason retorts ‘Without their will, or with it?’ If I say ‘Without their will’ I at once perceive a contradiction; how can the supreme voluntray act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say ‘With their will,’ my reason replies ‘How if they will not give in?’
The Dominical utterances about Hell, like all Dominical sayings, are addressed to the conscience and the will, not to our intellectual curiosity. When they have roused us into action by convincing us of a terrible possibility, they have done, probably, all they were intended to do; and if all the world were convinced Christians it would be unnecessary to say a word more on the subject. As things are, however, this doctrine is one of the chief grounds on which Christianity is attacked as barbarous, and the goodness of God impugned. We are told that it is a detestable doctrine-and indeed, I too detest it from the bottom of my heart-and are reminded of the tragedies in human life which have come from believing it. Of the other tragedies which come from not believing it we are told less. For these reasons, and these alone, it becomes necessary to discuss the matter.
The problem is not simply that of a God who consigns some of His creatures to final ruin. That would be the problem if we were Mahometans. Christianity, true, as always, to the complexity of the real, presents us with something knottier and more ambiguous–a God so full of mercy that He becomes man and dies by torture to avert that final ruin from His creatures, and who yet, where that heroic remedy fails, seems unwilling, or even unable, to arrest the ruin by an act of mere power. I said glibly a moment ago that I would pay ‘any price’ to remove this doctrine. I lied. I could not pay one-thousandth part of the price that God has. already paid to remove the fact. And here is the real problem: so much mercy, yet still there is Hell.
I am not going to try to prove the doctrine tolerable. Let us make no mistake; it is not tolerable. But I think the doctrine can be shown to be moral, by a critique of the objections ordinarily made, or felt, against it. First, there is an objection, in many minds, to the idea of retributive punishment as such. This has been partly dealt with in a previous chapter. It was there maintained that all punishment became unjust if the ideas of ill-desert and retribution were removed from it; and a core of righteousness was discovered within the vindictive passion itself, in the demand that the evil man must not be left perfectly satisfied with his own evil, that it must be made to appear to him what it rightly appears to others- evil. I said that Pain plants the flag of truth within a rebel fortress. We were then discussing pain which might still lead to repentance. How if it does not-if no further conquest than the planting of the flag ever takes place? Let us try to be honest with ourselves. Picture to yourself a man who has risen to wealth or power by a continued course of treachery and cruelty, by exploiting for purely selfish ends the noble motions of his victims, laughing the while at their simplicity; who, having thus attained success, uses it for the gratification of lust and hatred and finally parts
with the last rag of honour among thieves by betraying his own accomplices and jeering at their last moments of bewildered disillusionment. Suppose, further, that he does all this, not (as we like to imagine) tormented by remorse or even misgiving, but eating like a schoolboy and sleeping like a healthy infant-a jolly, ruddy-cheeked man, without a care in the world, unshakably confident to the very end that he alone has found the answer to the riddle of life, that God and man are fools whom he has got the better of, that his way of life is utterly successful, satisfactory, unassailable. We must be careful at this point. The leas~ indulgence of the passion for revenge is very deadly sin: Christian charity counsels us to make every effort for the conversion of such a man: to prefer his con-
version, at the peril of our own lives, perhaps of our own souls, to his punishment; to prefer it infinitely. But that is not the question. Supposing he will not be converted, what destiny in the eternal world can you regard as proper for him? Can you really desire that such a man, remaining what he is (and he must be able to do that if he has free will) should be confirmed forever in his present happiness–should continue, for all eternity, to be perfectly convinced that the laugh is on his side? And if you cannot regard this as tolerable, is it only your wickedness–only spite—that prevents you from doing so? Or do you find that conflict between Justice and
Mercy, which has sometimes seemed to you such an outmoded piece of theology, now actually at work in your own
mind, and feeling very much as if it came to you from above, not from below?
You are moved not by a desire for the wretched creature’s pain as such, but by a truly ethical demand that, soon or late, the right should be asserted, the flag planted in this horribly rebellious soul, even if no fuller and better conquest is to follow. In a sense, it is better for the creature itself, even if it never becomes good, that it should know itself a failure, a mistake. Even mercy can hardly wish to such a man his eternal, contented continuance in such ghastly illusion. Thomas Aquinas said of suffering, as Aristotle had said of shame, that it was a thing not good in itself; but a thing which might have a certain goodness in particular circumstances. That is to say, if evil is present, pain at recognition of the evil, being a kind of knowledge, is relatively good; for the alternative is that the soul should be ignorant of the evil, or ignorant that the evil is contrary to its nature, ‘either of which’, says the philosopher, ‘is manifestly bad’.’ And I think, though we tremble, we agree.
The demand that God should forgive such a man while he remains what he is, is based on a confusion between , condoning and forgiving. To condone an evil is simply to ignore it, to treat it as if it were good. But forgiveness needs to be accepted as well as offered if it is to be complete: and a man who admits no guilt can accept no forgiveness.