The best is enemy of the good.
The profoundest truths are paradoxical.
Monday, March 23, 2015
The Thinking Housewife: "We Can Be Pretty Sure That Many Good People Are Roasting In Hell"
"Good Christians" Presaging The Islamic State The burning of 16th-century Dutch Anabaptist, Anneken Hendriks, who was charged by the Spanish (Catholic) Inquisition with heresy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabaptists
My single most memorable UT lecture was on the Protestant Reformation and Predestination, a talk that focused eternal damnation as Christendom's most crushing fear.
Assuming that Hell exists -- and that the interplay between divine justice and divine mercy finally condemns (or allows) many people to spend eternity roasting in an unquenchable lake of fire -- it is then understandable (perhaps necessary) that "believers" experience such surfeit of angst that they will devise any rationale to convince themselves they are "saved."
One such rationale results in The Thinking Housewife's conviction that "many good people are roasting in Hell."
According to the fore-mentioned UT lecture, "Predestination" was originally contrived to allay fears of eternal damnation by positing an Order of Being in which there was no advantage in fretting over salvation/damnation since the fate of all souls was pre-ordained.
Despite the internal logic of Predestination, its paradoxical effect was to convince people that Predestinationitself was another horrifying "angst agent" prompting believers to "do something" to "prove" their salvation.
"The Politics Of Horror In Conservative Evangelicalism," 2009 Outstanding Academic Title
It was not enough to believe that God's favor was a "done deal" decided "before the beginning of time."
To impute preemptively supreme power to God left humans absolutely powerless.
In this world view, Divine Omnipotence became the Evil Twin of intolerable human impotence.
And so, Protestants who subscribed to the "new" world-view of Predestination (and "sola fide" salvation by "faith alone") became manic hyper-producers whose obsession with personal salvation contributed mightily to the emergence of modern Capitalism, an economic philosophy that has become a quasi-credal tenet of American Christianity, an article of faith so deeply submerged in personal (and collective) unconsciousness that most people neither question it nor see that it begs question.
Conditioned by Catholicism's communitarian tradition (and not Protestantism's rugged individualism), Pope Francis has made it his mission to deconstruct Capitalism's Golden Calf.
Within the Protestant framework of "salvation logic" it was still believed (at least technically) that Predestination and "sola fide" salvation were The Will of God but, by dint of relentless productivity, industrious devotees could secure enough material advantage to "adorn" their lives with "good housing," "elegant clothing," "rich food" and other cosmetic baubles which God Himself would surely bestow upon "The Saved." To complete this picture, God, in his majestic Justice, simultaneously withholds material blessing from "the homeless," "the unclad," "the hungry" and "the thirsty" so that no one would (nor should!) dress the wounds of the poor except feral dogs licking the ooze-pus in search of serendipitous protein.
Make no mistake! God properly rewards "the industrious" while punishing "the indolent."
In meta-level context, I contemplate religious conservatives -- the direct lineal heirs of Pharisaism -- and marvel that, despite their self-certain moral perspicacity, they are incapable of conceiving any moral blow-back from their unfailing support of Uncle Sam's perpetual belligerence in Vietnam, Iraq, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Panama, Granada (!?!), Iran, the Philippines etcetera.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations
In the end, The Thinking Housewife's "salvation logic" -- propelled more by fear than love -- has no choice but to envision the eternal torment of billions (including intrinsically "satanic liberals") so that their holocaust might certify her goody-two-shoes salvation.
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
If The Thinking Housewife's perceived relationship between salvation and damnation is categorically different from "kicking the dog" to make oneself feel superior, I fail to see the distinction.
True believers whose religious outlook is ultimately ruled by self-interested "reward/punishment paradigms" cannot -- in fact, must not -- dedicate themselves to "the corporal works of mercy" (indeed to any kind of "overarching mercy," especially when it focuses "the least among us") since it will destroy the "righteous" cornerstone on which their hope of salvation is laid.
If personal "salvation" depends (in any significant way) on "walking the walk" -- and not just "talking the talk" -- it is plausible (if not likely) that "putting doctrine ahead of service" results in the kind of jot-and-tittle legalism that concentrates "the doctrinaire" on their individual salvation -- mostly by "crossing T's and dotting I's" -- while the salvation of others, particularly the poor and oppressed, is just not very important.
"Since they're going to Hell anyway, why bother?"
When "the left hand knows what the right hand is doing," the quest for personal salvation becomes a quid pro quo exchange mechanism rather than heartfelt goodness welling up to "do the right thing" because "virtue is its own reward."