A Dark Echo of Christian Martrydom

 

Throughout millennia, suffering and sacrifice have always been respected. For example, Simeon the Stylite lived on ever increasingly high pillars alone in the desert to devote himself to G-d. Hindus have a long tradition of torturing their body to advance the strength of their soul. Buddhists have similar traditions of starving themselves to death. (though that’s controversial in Buddhism.)* Shia Islam seems to focus on flagellation and hitting yourself on the head with a sword (Grisly imagery contained in this link.

In animistic traditions, the Cheyenne and Crow tribe practiced a ritual known as the sundance where they pierce their skin and attach themselves to a tall pole. The list goes on; sacrificing your bodily health to attain spiritual prowess is a pretty normal thing.

Personally, I’ve always found the more grisly sacrifices offered up to a higher religious goal a little disturbing. But regardless of personal feelings, such practices are so universal that they illuminate a fundamental human reality. People have long associated suffering with holiness and holiness is part of every culture. I propose that the modern leftist obsession with victimhood is a continuation of the human inclination to make suffering holy. What’s more, there is an odd echo of Christianity in the leftist worship of victimhood. 

Jesus Christ was the absolute personification of innocent victimhood and the ultimate in sacrifice. It is no coincidence that following him were untold numbers of martyrs. But people under the sway of the leftist echo of Christianity, confuse victimhood with holiness. If they are a victim, they become more beautiful and nobler. That’s a large part (and a largely unspoken part) of what constitutes identity politics.

Dostoevsky saw a version of this yearning to be a righteous victim in his Book, The Brothers Karamazov. The Brother Ivan pointedly observes that Katerina Ivanovna’s love for his brother, Dmitri, emerges out of a sort of victimhood pride.

And the more he insults you, the more you love him—that’s your ‘laceration.’ You love him just as he is; you love him for insulting you. If he reformed, you’d give him up at once and cease to love him. But you need him so as to contemplate continually your heroic fidelity and to reproach him for infidelity. And it all comes from your pride. Oh, there’s a great deal of humiliation and self-abasement about it, but it all comes from pride.”

Katerina Ivanovna wants to abase herself in order to feel that she is a more a victim and thus, holier than others. This was always a thing but lately, it’s been picking up,

Take the wave of fake hate crimes that are going on in America at the moment. It reminds me of the fake miracle-workers in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Traditionally, these hucksters would manufacture fake religious artifacts and makeup stories about divine intervention in order to fool religious people. But those flim-flam men and women understood that there was a deeply venerated religion to imitate. You won’t find many Buddhist hucksters in the Europe Middle Ages for example but they’re always a few of them in Buddhist countries.

The veneration of victimhood creates a demand for victims just as the devotion of the divine creates a demand for miracles. This is why college campuses are the main incubator of hate crime hoaxes. They are the most fervent of believers in the holiness of victimhood.

The people themselves who commit the fake hate crimes might be sociopaths indifferent to lying or they might have an unhealthy compulsion to hurt themselves and perhaps worst of all, they might have a perverse idea of what holiness is. Though it must be said that they can be all three.

https://youtu.be/LjZqI6QvUyc?t=346

I suspect that the true believers are the most destructive of the hucksters. They view themselves as actually being holy victims but feel stiffed when people don’t hate them for their minority status. So even as they falsify stories, they believe that they are actually holy in some sense. The lie is justified because it serves a greater and nobler truth. It reminds me of a lyric about mental illness and religion by Johnny Cash.**

Have you come here for forgiveness?

Have you come to raise the dead?

Have you come here to play Jesus

To the lepers in your head?

Dr. Bastiat and I have politely disagreed about the nature of third motivation in the Jussie Smollet case. Dr. Bastiat thinks that Jussie did it in order to obtain more money and fame. I think that while self-promotion was part of his motivation, I think he has an unhealthy spiritual malady where he needs to feel that he is a suffering victim. He wants to play a black Jesus to the Trump voters in his head to paraphrase the late Johny Cash.

Dr. Bastiat also brilliantly noticed this celebration of victimhood in American pop-culture.

My wife and daughters enjoy reality TV shows in which contestants sing and dance in front of judges, attempting to win a prize. Like most competitive endeavors on TV now, from golf to the Olympics, the program includes a brief personal story about each contestant, so you can get to know the competitors a bit. This generally includes a statement by the competitor, in which he/she will explain why they think they should win.

Do they say, “I’ve worked really hard at this, and I hope that my hard work will be adequate to win this competition?” No. They engage in competitive victimhood and self-sacrifice: “So my Mom overdosed when I was 13 and one of her sister’s boyfriends started beating me up so I lived under an overpass and sold my body to make money to buy insulin for my baby brother while I practiced my singing by volunteering in the local children’s hospital and singing to the babies in the NICU. Gosh, I love those kids.” The singing competition matters, but the self-sacrifice rivalry is where the most vicious competition happens. It may seem odd, competing at being non-competitive, but this is how you gain the upper hand in modern America.

The emotional incontinence of the left is partly explained by this reverence. I was working a blue collar job the night Trump got elected. Everyone there was like, “Huh. I didn’t think that would happen.” Then, even the Hillary Clinton supporters, moved on with their lives. This was not at all the case with the educated classes. On the AMU, a group voice chat with fellow Ricochet members, the nurses and the people who worked in law offices told me a story after story of glorious suffering. (It was like they were serving me a large schadenfreude cake frosted with a schadenfreude topping with schadenfreude sprinkles.) But my moral weaknesses aside, those on the left feel it necessary to demonstrate their suffering. It used to be considered good manners to stoically resign yourself to a political loss. But higher education did a fairly good job of ending that.

My living in China for a few years seems to support my theory that this veneration of the suffering victim is an echo of Christianity. The Chinese feel no guilt for being strong. They feel slighted that they were bullied by other countries for so long. The pain of the Tibetan and Uighyur minorities mean little not only to the Communist Government but to the average Han (majority Chinese ethnicity). There is an inferiority/superiority complex that China has with Japan and America but they don’t present themselves as hapless victims. They don’t want to be victims; they want to be strong.

This also perfectly explains why lefties hate black and gay conservatives and why they are indifferent to Ayan Hirsi Ali. This is why Israel gets no points for being gay-friendly. Gays cease to become holy when they aren’t victimized. When people reject the victimhood narrative, they are apostates from the religion of victimhood and holy suffering. This is also why the hundreds of millions of people who are well fed because of capitalism don’t matter to leftists. There isn’t any holiness in steadily improving your lot in life. In fact, wanting to have a nice car and a nice house and health care plan with extra options in case something goes south is indecent. It detracts from your victimhood and therefore your holiness.

The veneration of the suffering victim is the real reason that socialists hate capitalism. Capitalism may help the poor but it does it in a way that doesn’t have much to do with spiritual development. Because victims are holy, socialists have to make capitalism unholy by saying that it makes the rich richer by making the poor poorer. If uplifting the poor were the main motivation of socialists, they would be some version of free-marketers. Literally, every society that has made their poor population not poor has had some version of a free market economy. It may be a free market economy with less taxation or more taxation or less regulation or more regulation but it has always been a freeish market. This central fact of human history means nothing to them but the spiritual appeal of the victim means everything.

Everything in the present is an echo of what came before. I am an echo of my mother and father’s genetic makeup and my writing is an echo of what I have read before. The tradition of American democracy and liberty are a golden echo of the Scottish and English enlightenments.

But sometimes echoes become distorted and garbled and what was once a beautiful composition becomes a jarring and malaphonic cacophony. Think of the Nazis playing Mozart or Beethoven in their rallies. We should recognize that the modern leftist view of victimhood is a dark echo of Christianity rooted in the darker parts of our nature that worship suffering for suffering’s sake.

* Buddhism has a concept called the Middle Way which many people interpret as being against the mortification of the flesh.

**I’ve been informed that the original song was written by U2 and not Johny Cash. In my defense, the Johny Cash version was better.

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There are 71 comments.

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  1. Gary McVey Contributor

    This is one hell of a post. I’m not saying I agree with it, though in a lot of respect I do. I’m certainly not saying I disagree with it, though in a couple of ornery respects I’m sure I would on closer examination. But how many internet posts demand and deserve to have us return to them throughout the day? To argue, sure, but maybe to learn as well?

    • #1
    • July 2, 2019, at 2:53 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  2. Dr. Bastiat Member

    This post is one of the most brilliant things I’ve read in a long time.

    I’ll comment later, when I have more time to think it over. 

    • #2
    • July 2, 2019, at 4:52 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  3. Stina Member

    Huh. I see some of this in my own arguments here. Where I have it in common with my generation is the skepticism of capitalism, the rejection of material wealth beyond necessities, and an attitude that there is such a thing as too much money and stuff.

    I don’t go as far as they do, but I do recognize that material well-being generally goes hand in hand with spiritual malaise. Much of my current walk in my faith is tackling this in my personal life.

    • #3
    • July 2, 2019, at 5:17 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    This sort of really thoughtful stuff always seems to come out of the quiet guys & gals.

    Very interesting observations and pulling together of historical/social threads here Henry. 

    • #4
    • July 2, 2019, at 5:23 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  5. D.A. Venters Member

    I’ll tell you why I’m suffering. I’m suffering because I don’t have time to think about and comment on this post at the moment. Not sure how much I agree with it, but I appreciate the chance to think about these themes. I hope to revisit it and comment later this week.

    One tiny quibble because I can’t let it go, because I’m a pedantic jerk. The line from the Johnny Cash song is from his (fantastic) cover of U2’s “One.” The author of those lines is, I believe, Bono. I like the Johnny Cash version much better, but both are awesome.

    • #5
    • July 2, 2019, at 6:16 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  6. Songwriter Member

    Henry Castaigne: This is why Israel gets no points for being gay friendly. Gays cease to become holy when they aren’t victimized. When people reject the victimhood narrative, they are apostates from the religion of victimhood and holy suffering.

    Just one of several sentences that made me stop and read again. The entire post will cause me to think on the subject for some time, I suspect.

    Victimhood=holiness in the Church of the Left.

    Maybe the most intriguing post I’ve read here in a long while. And that’s saying something at Ricochet.

    • #6
    • July 2, 2019, at 6:42 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  7. Arahant Member

    Stina (View Comment):
    I don’t go as far as they do, but I do recognize that material well-being generally goes hand in hand with spiritual malaise.

    Only for those who get things backwards, which is a very human foible. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” For those who are first prosperous in the spirit, there is no malaise when wealth and prosperity come. It is those who seek wealth, acquire it, and realize they still are not happy who have the problem. Those who have prosperity as a byproduct of seeking the kingdom of God are doing just fine, thank you very much.

    Because it does come at various points in life, I refer to it as the “Is this all there is?” syndrome.

    • #7
    • July 2, 2019, at 7:08 AM PDT
    • 21 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Well put-together, Henry.

    • #8
    • July 2, 2019, at 7:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Dr. Bastiat Member

    This post should have 50 likes by now.

    Wake up, people.

    • #9
    • July 2, 2019, at 7:28 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Stina Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    This post should have 50 likes by now.

    Wake up, people.

    Well… this post needs coffee first.

    • #10
    • July 2, 2019, at 7:31 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Dr. Bastiat Member

    Stina (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    This post should have 50 likes by now.

    Wake up, people.

    Well… this post needs coffee first.

    Fair point. 

    • #11
    • July 2, 2019, at 8:32 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. MarciN Member

    This is a wonderful post, and it is a generous way to view humanity. I think it may be true on some extremely deep level.

    But my own theory of what causes people to relish their victim status is just basic laziness. :-)

    When I think of the hundreds of things I should be doing each day to take care of myself, my family, my friends and neighbors, my house, my town, my church, my state, my country, my world–every waking minute should be filled with constructive activity. It’s not. Instead, I waste countless hours on things that are of no importance whatsoever. I have a pile a rationalizations to excuse my sloth, and petty victimizations are high on the list. It’s so easy to say, “Well, if that person would do or had done A, I would do or would have done B. Yay! I’m absolved!”

    We will take advantage of any excuse that comes our way to avoid work. :-)

    • #12
    • July 2, 2019, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  13. Dr. Bastiat Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    This is a wonderful post, and it is a generous way to view humanity. I think it may be true on some extremely deep level.

    But my own theory of what causes people to relish their victim status is just basic laziness. :-)

    This is going to be an awesome thread. I can’t wait!

    Great point, Marci. There are a lot of ways to look at this topic.

    …thinking…

    • #13
    • July 2, 2019, at 8:58 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Kay of MT Member

    Henry Castaigne: Everything in the present is an echo of what came before.

    I most certainly like this suburb post. Sometimes we suffer and are traumatized, as January and Feb. was nearly more than I could bear. However, I have given that up and now focusing on others. I hate being a victim, very embarrassing.

    • #14
    • July 2, 2019, at 9:00 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  15. Jimmy Carter Member

    MarciN (View Comment):
    But my own theory of what causes people to relish their victim status is just basic laziness.

    I don’t know if I would call it laziness, but I would call it the path of least resistance. 

    Which is easier? To study and practice at a vocation or trade to get better and improve Yer lot in Life? Or claim that You can’t succeed because Yer a “victim” of something?

    To study and practice at a vocation or trade means willing to fail, and You will, and prolonging gratification; and those failures are Yers for all to see. Claiming to be a “victim” means it’s someone else’s fault; deflecting Yer failures.

    • #15
    • July 2, 2019, at 9:15 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  16. Barfly Member

    Frails and weaklings have always sought victimhood status – it’s a life strategy. They’ve been doing it since before we had language. Chimpanzees do it.

    Humans are more advanced, of course. In humans perceived self-victimhood takes on a new dimension. The emotion of self-pity develops a shell of protective thought. A perpetually weak mind, particularly one without a firm backstop like religion, develops a whole complex of excuses and privileges. Weaklings are prone to feel that they may do what they want and may ignore any responsibilities they find unpleasant. That’s where Antifa brownshirts and Pete Bootyjudge come from.

    Their problem isn’t their lack of religion per se, it’s their individual mental frailty. Even the religious, as you note, are prone to chasing victimhood. But for most of the weak dullards, religion is the one thing that could give them enough strength to become fit to live well among us.

    • #16
    • July 2, 2019, at 9:52 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. SkipSul Moderator

    One quibble while I think it over. The song you quote was covered by Cash, but was a U2 original.

    • #17
    • July 2, 2019, at 10:46 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    @Henry Castaigne, I’ve been thinking along similar lines. The holiness of the suffering victim, and therefore of whole classes of people, explains why the lowly non-victims are often attacked for blasphemy when they even dare speak of such things. When a conservative talks about racial issues, the Left often doesn’t care what he actually says. Just the fact that he’s treading on the sacred ground of the holy victim races is a sin. Or if he dares to be less than warmly supportive of some individual saint.

    Of course, I’m not talking about conservatives actually saying bigoted things. They might even be condemning racism. It doesn’t matter.

    • #18
    • July 2, 2019, at 10:57 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  19. SkipSul Moderator

    Henry Castaigne: This is why Israel gets no points for being gay-friendly. Gays cease to become holy when they aren’t victimized. When people reject the victimhood narrative, they are apostates from the religion of victimhood and holy suffering.

    I was having a similar discussion with friends earlier today and I made a similar point to them.

    The talk was about the very weird and very rapid shift, post Obergefell, to militant trans-rights, and how the gay rights community is increasingly at odds with the trans-rights community (particularly the militant ones).

    I must say, it’s amusing as heck to me to see now the squabbling on their own side between the normal homosexuals, who are content to move on, and the militants and the trans who are now ruining the party. All you need to do is look at the rhetoric – lots of use of the term “hate” for anyone not completely on board with this. I expect it won’t be long before the trans militants turn on the normal homosexuals, and I wonder if the media will go along with that agenda or not. They’ll have to decide, and sadly I think I know which side they’ll choose – they always choose the cultural marxist* side, and that will mean the gays will be branded as bigots eventually too. Intersectionality is a [redacted].

    It’s rather like how the Left, after a couple of generations post-holocaust of defending Jews, is now increasingly calling the Jews “haters” or “bigots” – in this case much of the media, when having to choose between defending Jews and defending their current pet groups, has chosen to bury the Holocaust. Jews are not allowed to be victims anymore in the cultural marxist dialectics, so they must be defeated. Jews are back to being less than human, horrible oppressors, etc. I’ll be surprised if gays are spared that treatment in time.

    I’ll try to unpack a bit of that.

    Cultural Marxism is best understood as understanding the world only in a dialectic as a perpetual struggle of the oppressed versus the oppressors, except where Hegel would argue that all conflicts end in a synthesis, the Marxists teach that each synthesis is merely another power inversion. “The Jews had their turn being the oppressed” in their view, and are now the new oppressors – they therefore deserve no more sympathy for any past sufferings. So I think it is turning now with gay rights – they’ve mostly gotten what they wanted, even their own cheerleading month where everyone is socially pressured to rainbow the heck out of everything (or be branded a bigot), but for the trans militants it’s not enough. There were some interesting stories last week about how now the gay community is being accused of… oppression, simply for not buying into radical gender theory. In the cultural Marxism dialectic, someone always has to be the oppressor, and the oppressed must always be championed.

    • #19
    • July 2, 2019, at 11:06 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  20. SkipSul Moderator

    MarciN (View Comment):

    But my own theory of what causes people to relish their victim status is just basic laziness. :-)

     

    I think a lot of it comes down also to wanting an explanation or justification for things. We hate to think that who we are, or what has happened to us, is random or out of not just our control, but anyone’s control. Why else do we hear the laments about “why bad things happening to good people”, or “everything happens for a reason”, or “when Gd closes one door, he opens another” – these all stem from the same source.

    Why do so many movies have clear villains and clear victims and clear heroes? That’s how we want the world to work. And that’s how we see ourselves too – as heroes in our own stories, with others as supporting characters of one kind or another, or arch villains out to get us. I’ve seen that sort of self-centeredness at work too, where one person decides another is somehow their particular nemesis, then warps their entire job into a daily heroic (to them) struggle to defeat this “monster”. Of course, for anyone not wrapped up in that delusion, the would-be hero is really a sociopathic maniac who is probably making life miserable for everyone around (and is maybe even unwittingly someone else’s personal nemesis because of that). They’re so convinced that the world is black and white, good and evil, and structured, that they cannot cope with the thought that it could all be out of anyone’s control.

    • #20
    • July 2, 2019, at 11:36 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  21. Dr. Bastiat Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    But my own theory of what causes people to relish their victim status is just basic laziness. :-)

     

    I think a lot of it comes down also to wanting an explanation or justification for things. We hate to think that who we are, or what has happened to us, is random or out of not just our control, but anyone’s control. Why else do we hear the laments about “why bad things happening to good people”, or “everything happens for a reason”, or “when Gd closes one door, he opens another” – these all stem from the same source.

    Why do so many movies have clear villains and clear victims and clear heroes? That’s how we want the world to work. And that’s how we see ourselves too – as heroes in our own stories, with others as supporting characters of one kind or another, or arch villains out to get us. I’ve seen that sort of self-centeredness at work too, where one person decides another is somehow their particular nemesis, then warps their entire job into a daily heroic (to them) struggle to defeat this “monster”. Of course, for anyone not wrapped up in that delusion, the would-be hero is really a sociopathic maniac who is probably making life miserable for everyone around (and is maybe even unwittingly someone else’s personal nemesis because of that). They’re so convinced that the world is black and white, good and evil, and structured, that they cannot cope with the thought that it could all be out of anyone’s control.

    Awesome point.

    • #21
    • July 2, 2019, at 11:47 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. SkipSul Moderator

    Henry Castaigne:

    Jesus Christ was the absolute personification of innocent victimhood and the ultimate in sacrifice. It is no coincidence that following him were untold numbers of martyrs. But people under the sway of the leftist echo of Christianity, confuse victimhood with holiness. If they are a victim, they become more beautiful and nobler. That’s a large part (and a largely unspoken part) of what constitutes identity politics.

    Dostoevsky saw a version of this yearning to be a righteous victim in his Book, The Brothers Karamazov. The Brother Ivan pointedly observes that Katerina Ivanovna’s love for his brother, Dmitri, emerges out of a sort of victimhood pride.

    And the more he insults you, the more you love him—that’s your ‘laceration.’ You love him just as he is; you love him for insulting you. If he reformed, you’d give him up at once and cease to love him. But you need him so as to contemplate continually your heroic fidelity and to reproach him for infidelity. And it all comes from your pride. Oh, there’s a great deal of humiliation and self-abasement about it, but it all comes from pride.”

    What you say is key: the particularity of Christian martyrdom.

    Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his crossdaily, and follow Me.For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9: 23-26, NKJV)

    It is supposed to be the goal of the Christian life to attune and submit one’s own desires, thoughts, and passions to the will of the Almighty – to, as it is often put, die to the self. It’s right there in the most recited prayer of Christendom: “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”. But righteousness does not come from martyrdom, instead it leads directly to martyrdom. There’s nothing holy in merely being a victim, but one may be a victim because one is already holy (or trying to be so). Those who have died truly* for Christianity have done so out of devotion and love.

    If I speak in the tongues[of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13: 1-3, NIV)

    If you are martyring yourself for yourself, for your own glorification and victimhood badge, then you no martyr at all, but a fake. You lack love, and you should take a hard look as whose will you really are serving.


    *There was an early Christian heresy that was vehemently denounced by the Church fathers, popular in North Africa during (I think) the early 3rd century, that deliberately sought out a form of perverted martyrdom. They would intentionally provoke fights with soldiers and officials (sometimes by clubbing them even), so that they could be tortured or killed. The church at the time condemned these loonies.

    • #22
    • July 2, 2019, at 12:49 PM PDT
    • 18 likes
  23. Western Chauvinist Member

    Great post, Henry. I might phrase it a little differently — these lefties are self-righteous (self-justified), as in, all good comes from them (self-deification, since there is no Yardstick against which to measure) and, therefore, anyone who disagrees with them must be evil — but our arguments rhyme. It’s a victim/oppressor dynamic that drives them.

    • #23
    • July 2, 2019, at 1:23 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  24. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne Post author

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    There’s nothing holy in merely being a victim, but one may be a victim because one is already holy (or trying to be so). Those who have died truly* for Christianity have done so out of devotion and love.

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    *There was an early Christian heresy that was vehemently denounced by the Church fathers, popular in North Africa during (I think) the early 3rd century, that deliberately sought out a form of perverted martyrdom. They would intentionally provoke fights with soldiers and officials (sometimes by clubbing them even), so that they could be tortured or killed. The church at the time condemned these loonies.

    That Christian heresy sounds like the original Jussie Jussie Smollett type leftists.

    To your earlier point about suffering, the Elder Zosima in the Brother’s Karamazov would have agreed with you to avoid suffering for the sake of suffering but not to turn away from suffering that is natural and/or necessary. He advised Alyosha not to become a monk because to do so would be an unholy way of avoiding suffering. Rather, Alyosha needed to go into the world and help his brothers in the spirit of Christian love. Which is harder than being a monk because his brothers weren’t the easiest people to get along with. He gave Alyosha alot of suffering in order to improve the world and his own soul. 

    Father Ferapont is the opposite of Elder Zosima. The Elder Zosima when he meets with the laity, tries to ease their suffering while getting them to improve their behavior. It’s basically a form of talk therapy with religious underpinning. Father Ferapont is too busy living in hut in the woods and fasting to bother with the laity and accuses Zosima of not being a devoted enough Christian for eating jam while talking to ladies. He never improves the morals of anyone else and he never eases anyone suffering but he lives in a hut and barely eats anything so in his mind that makes him holier than everybody else. 

    Luke 18: Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector 

    10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

    • #24
    • July 2, 2019, at 1:57 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  25. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne Post author

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    SkipSul

    One quibble while I think it over. The song you quote was covered by Cash, but was a U2 original.

    While that may be true, the Johny Cash version is much better. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGrR-7_OBpA

    • #25
    • July 2, 2019, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. SkipSul Moderator

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    SkipSul

    One quibble while I think it over. The song you quote was covered by Cash, but was a U2 original.

    While that may be true, the Johny Cash version is much better.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGrR-7_OBpA

    I prefer the U2 version myself.

    However, even Trent Reznor said Cash’s cover of Hurt was superior to the original.

    • #26
    • July 2, 2019, at 2:02 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  27. SkipSul Moderator

    BTW – I love Brothers Karamozov. It is such a complicated and wonderful book at every level.

    • #27
    • July 2, 2019, at 2:03 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. Percival Thatcher

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    BTW – I love Brothers Karamozov. It is such a complicated and wonderful book at every level.

    It is a fantastic book.

    Henry, you do realize that as brilliant as he may be, Ivan specializes in being wrong. He loathes Fyodor Pavlovich, but all his reason and logic cannot find fault with the way Fyodor behaves in what Ivan believes to be a Godless universe. And when Smerdyakov tells him that the adoption of Ivan’s philosophy is what freed Smerdyakov to behave as he did … at the end, Ivan is either going to find God or go crazy.

    • #28
    • July 2, 2019, at 2:27 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  29. Western Chauvinist Member

    As one who suffers due to natural afflictions (both our girls have serious congenital medical problems), I find it consoling when someone says, “God must love you very much to let you suffer so.” I anticipate that, because God is just (Justice), our rewards in heaven will be great (barring falling into mortal sin). And I fight self-pity ferociously, knowing how damaging it is to character and seeing how others suffer (because we’re often in that environment at Children’s Hospital). I’m not quite at the point of being “joyful” as in FSC’s post about facing death as a Christian. If it weren’t my kids and I was the one suffering (directly, not vicariously), I might be there. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would be because death is a release from temporal suffering. But, it’s my kids, so it’s hard.

    This is the struggle that religion and the promise of heaven help to alleviate. We adopt delayed gratification unto death. And we’re encouraged to be grateful for our many, many blessings. None of this character tempering is available from the religion of leftism. It’s tragic. 

    • #29
    • July 2, 2019, at 2:56 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
  30. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne Post author

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    This is the struggle that religion and the promise of heaven help to alleviate. We adopt delayed gratification unto death. And we’re encouraged to be grateful for our many, many blessings. None of this character tempering is available from the religion of leftism. It’s tragic.

    The idea behind leftism (as well as much of traditional enlightened liberalism) is that we can make it so that you don’t suffer. It is true that economic growth and science can prevent alot of suffering. Because of the incredible success of those two things we don’t seem to focus on how to confront the unavoidable suffering of human life.

    • #30
    • July 2, 2019, at 4:46 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
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