Tuesday 2 October 2012

Devilish doodlings

by Kim Fabricius
Cardinal George Pell –
Death by climate – went to hell.
The archbishop, frying, said, “Jesus, it’s hot!”
The devil, denying, said, “Hot?  No, it’s not.”

What is the difference between Global Warming Denial and Holocaust Denial? Both are ideologically motivated and doctrinaire, overwhelmingly from the right. Informing both is quack science, and sustaining both are bogus statistics. Both concern anthropogenic phenomena reliant for their implementation on exceptional technological sophistication and public moral indifference. Both consolidate their identities by appealing to conspiracies against them. But here is a difference: the number of deaths due to Global Warming will finally, sickeningly, far surpass the Eight Million.

Certainly a great deal, if not all, human evil is a product of the inferiority complex.  Satan is the archetypal case.  He wreaks his havoc because, due to self-esteem issues, his “sense of injur’d merit” (Paradise Lost, I/98), he’s soooo pissed off.

The problem with writing fiction about Satan is that it’s really hard to make him the minor character he is.

Satan is the supreme intellectual. Sexual sarxian vices are mere peccadilloes compared to the sins of feverish cogitation. Of course, Satan may come on as a sexual predator, and boast of his amorous exploits, but remember, he is a liar. In fact, the Devil is impotent.

Being “spiritual” but not religious, and averse to the somatic, the material, and the quotidian messy – these too are characteristic of the demonic.  Satan – OCD for sure.

On Judgement Day, God will ask us not what we have done, or what we believe, but what we desire, what we love.

“Unforgiven Sinners” is any empty set.  If there are any sinners in hell, it is not because they are unforgiven but unforgiving – of themselves as well as others. 

Acknowledgements I’d like to see in a book on theodicy: “I dedicate this book to Satan, without whom it could not have been written. God, of course, carries the can for all the many errors it no doubt contains.”

What is the Free-Will Defence but the title of a theological Just So Story that for the liberal theodicist lets God off the hook of the Holocaust, and for the Arminian infernologist lets God off the hook of Hell?  And this is supposed to be a win-win discourse?  The apotheosis of human “choice” on the one hand, and either a morally repugnant or an impotent deity on the other? 

In the parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-8), Jesus (in)famously praises a crook for his sense of urgency, presence of mind, dedication, resourcefulness, and cunning.  A contemporary version might be called the parable of the Desperate Junkie.

When God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the knowledge-of-good-and-evil tree, he was saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

John cried, “Repent!”, not “Repaint.”  Not “Change the decor”, but “Here comes the wrecking ball!”

Mirabile dictu: thirty years of ministry and I’m still a Christian.  I put it down to the suffering and sorrow I have seen and shared, and to the unpleasant confrontations with intellectual and moral squalor. With a not altogether ungrudging nod to the Holy Spirit.

You can always spot an optimist: they are the ones who laugh at their own jokes.

“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers …”
Jeez, I see a bunch of constellations like Orion and Cassiopeia named after pagan mythical figures.  And what’s with the Babylonian/Egyptian astrological signs, a goat, a crab, a scorpion …? 
O Lord, our Sovereign, how crummy is your astronomical marketing technique!

Despair is God’s strange way of keeping faith honest.

Happiness is a banquet for sharing; sorrow is a meal-for-one, picked at alone.

“Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing” (Matthew 13:34).  And the scribes and Pharisees said, “We’ve been counting the number times you use the word ‘Yahweh’ and ‘faith’ in your stories.  The concordance does not look good.  Furthermore, you seem reluctant to tell the crowds ‘The Torah says …’ on a whole raft of issues.  This excision of God from your manifesto is a scandalous affront to the national narrative. We’ll be endorsing Caiaphas.”

It is (as Eliot observed) a sign of faith’s decay when the Bible is judged on its artistic merits – and (I would add) when church music isn’t.

“Hey Jesus,” said Satan to Jesus at Golgotha, “the Romans are about to round up your disciples, rape your mother and sisters, and torch the town of Nazareth. And you’re just gonna hang there?”

Question: What is the “invisible church”? Answer: The Christian Right.

If the famous parable of Jesus were an allegory of religion and American politics, the brigands who mug the nation/world and leave it for dead would be the Religious Right, the passing priest and Levite would be Democrats, and the Good Samaritan would be – an atheist.

God invented the church to give atheists a fighting chance.

Once there were the New Atheists. Now there are the New New Atheists. Sort of like the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea. Prognosticating from the membership of the Popular Front of Judea, I suppose we can look forward to the Post New New Atheist. 

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