Dismantling The Da Vinci Code by Sandra Miesel

19 01 2014

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code by Sandra Miesel

“The Grail,” Langdon said, “is symbolic of the lost goddess. When Christianity came along, the old pagan religions did not die easily. Legends of chivalric quests for the Holy Grail were in fact stories of forbidden quests to find the lost sacred feminine. Knights who claimed to be “searching for the chalice” were speaking in code as a way to protect themselves from a Church that had subjugated women, banished the Goddess, burned non-believers, and forbidden the pagan reverence for the sacred feminine.”
—The Da Vinci Code, pages 238-239

The Holy Grail is a favorite metaphor for a desirable but difficult-to-attain goal, from the map of the human genome to Lord Stanley’s Cup. While the original Grail—the cup Jesus allegedly used at the Last Supper—normally inhabits the pages of Arthurian romance, Dan Brown’s recent mega–best-seller, The Da Vinci Code, rips it away to the realm of esoteric history.

But his book is more than just the story of a quest for the Grail—he wholly reinterprets the Grail legend. In doing so, Brown inverts the insight that a woman’s body is symbolically a container and makes a container symbolically a woman’s body. And that container has a name every Christian will recognize, for Brown claims that the Holy Grail was actually Mary Magdalene. She was the vessel that held the blood of Jesus Christ in her womb while bearing his children.

Over the centuries, the Grail-keepers have been guarding the true (and continuing) bloodline of Christ and the relics of the Magdalen, not a material vessel. Therefore Brown claims that “the quest for the Holy Grail is the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene,” a conclusion that would surely have surprised Sir Galahad and the other Grail knights who thought they were searching for the Chalice of the Last Supper.

The Da Vinci Code opens with the grisly murder of the Louvre’s curator inside the museum. The crime enmeshes hero Robert Langdon, a tweedy professor of symbolism from Harvard, and the victim’s granddaughter, burgundy-haired cryptologist Sophie Nevue. Together with crippled millionaire historian Leigh Teabing, they flee Paris for London one step ahead of the police and a mad albino Opus Dei “monk” named Silas who will stop at nothing to prevent them from finding the “Grail.”

But despite the frenetic pacing, at no point is action allowed to interfere with a good lecture. Before the story comes full circle back to the Louvre, readers face a barrage of codes, puzzles, mysteries, and conspiracies.

With his twice-stated principle, “Everybody loves a conspiracy,” Brown is reminiscent of the famous author who crafted her product by studying the features of ten earlier best-sellers. It would be too easy to criticize him for characters thin as plastic wrap, undistinguished prose, and improbable action. But Brown isn’t so much writing badly as writing in a particular way best calculated to attract a female audience. (Women, after all, buy most of the nation’s books.) He has married a thriller plot to a romance-novel technique. Notice how each character is an extreme type . . . effortlessly brilliant, smarmy, sinister, or psychotic as needed, moving against luxurious but curiously flat backdrops. Avoiding gore and bedroom gymnastics, he shows only one brief kiss and a sexual ritual performed by a married couple. The risqué allusions are fleeting although the text lingers over some bloody Opus Dei mortifications. In short, Brown has fabricated a novel perfect for a ladies’ book club.

Brown’s lack of seriousness shows in the games he plays with his character names—Robert Langdon, “bright fame long don” (distinguished and virile); Sophie Nevue, “wisdom New Eve”; the irascible taurine detective Bezu Fache, “zebu anger.” The servant who leads the police to them is Legaludec, “legal duce.” The murdered curator takes his surname, Saunière, from a real Catholic priest whose occult antics sparked interest in the Grail secret. As an inside joke, Brown even writes in his real-life editor (Faukman is Kaufman).

While his extensive use of fictional formulas may be the secret to Brown’s stardom, his anti-Christian message can’t have hurt him in publishing circles: The Da Vinci Code debuted atop the New York Times best-seller list. By manipulating his audience through the conventions of romance-writing, Brown invites readers to identify with his smart, glamorous characters who’ve seen through the impostures of the clerics who hide the “truth” about Jesus and his wife. Blasphemy is delivered in a soft voice with a knowing chuckle: “[E]very faith in the world is based on fabrication.”

But even Brown has his limits. To dodge charges of outright bigotry, he includes a climactic twist in the story that absolves the Church of assassination. And although he presents Christianity as a false root and branch, he’s willing to tolerate it for its charitable works.

(Of course, Catholic Christianity will become even more tolerable once the new liberal pope elected in Brown’s previous Langdon novel, Angels & Demons, abandons outmoded teachings. “Third-century laws cannot be applied to the modern followers of Christ,” says one of the book’s progressive cardinals.)

Where Is He Getting All of This?

Brown actually cites his principal sources within the text of his novel. One is a specimen of academic feminist scholarship: The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. The others are popular esoteric histories: The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince; Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln; The Goddess in the Gospels: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine and The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail, both by Margaret Starbird. (Starbird, a self-identified Catholic, has her books published by Matthew Fox’s outfit, Bear & Co.) Another influence, at least at second remove, is The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker.

The use of such unreliable sources belies Brown’s pretensions to intellectuality. But the act has apparently fooled at least some of his readers—the New York Daily News book reviewer trumpeted, “His research is impeccable.”

But despite Brown’s scholarly airs, a writer who thinks the Merovingians founded Paris and forgets that the popes once lived in Avignon is hardly a model researcher. And for him to state that the Church burned five million women as witches shows a willful—and malicious—ignorance of the historical record. The latest figures for deaths during the European witch craze are between 30,000 to 50,000 victims. Not all were executed by the Church, not all were women, and not all were burned. Brown’s claim that educated women, priestesses, and midwives were singled out by witch-hunters is not only false, it betrays his goddess-friendly sources.

A Multitude of Errors

So error-laden is The Da Vinci Code that the educated reader actually applauds those rare occasions where Brown stumbles (despite himself) into the truth. A few examples of his “impeccable” research: He claims that the motions of the planet Venus trace a pentacle (the so-called Ishtar pentagram) symbolizing the goddess. But it isn’t a perfect figure and has nothing to do with the length of the Olympiad. The ancient Olympic games were celebrated in honor of Zeus Olympias, not Aphrodite, and occurred every four years.

Brown’s contention that the five linked rings of the modern Olympic Games are a secret tribute to the goddess is also wrong—each set of games was supposed to add a ring to the design but the organizers stopped at five. And his efforts to read goddess propaganda into art, literature, and even Disney cartoons are simply ridiculous.

No datum is too dubious for inclusion, and reality falls quickly by the wayside. For instance, the Opus Dei bishop encourages his albino assassin by telling him that Noah was also an albino (a notion drawn from the non-canonical 1 Enoch 106:2). Yet albinism somehow fails to interfere with the man’s eyesight as it physiologically would.

But a far more important example is Brown’s treatment of Gothic architecture as a style full of goddess-worshipping symbols and coded messages to confound the uninitiated. Building on Barbara Walker’s claim that “like a pagan temple, the Gothic cathedral represented the body of the Goddess,” The Templar Revelation asserts: “Sexual symbolism is found in the great Gothic cathedrals which were masterminded by the Knights Templar . . . both of which represent intimate female anatomy: the arch, which draws the worshipper into the body of Mother Church, evokes the vulva.” In The Da Vinci Code, these sentiments are transformed into a character’s description of “a cathedral’s long hollow nave as a secret tribute to a woman’s womb…complete with receding labial ridges and a nice little cinquefoil clitoris above the doorway.”

These remarks cannot be brushed aside as opinions of the villain; Langdon, the book’s hero, refers to his own lectures about goddess-symbolism at Chartres.

These bizarre interpretations betray no acquaintance with the actual development or construction of Gothic architecture, and correcting the countless errors becomes a tiresome exercise: The Templars had nothing to do with the cathedrals of their time, which were commissioned by bishops and their canons throughout Europe. They were unlettered men with no arcane knowledge of “sacred geometry” passed down from the pyramid builders. They did not wield tools themselves on their own projects, nor did they found masons’ guilds to build for others. Not all their churches were round, nor was roundness a defiant insult to the Church. Rather than being a tribute to the divine feminine, their round churches honored the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Actually looking at Gothic churches and their predecessors deflates the idea of female symbolism. Large medieval churches typically had three front doors on the west plus triple entrances to their transepts on the north and south. (What part of a woman’s anatomy does a transept represent? Or the kink in Chartres’s main aisle?) Romanesque churches—including ones that predate the founding of the Templars—have similar bands of decoration arching over their entrances. Both Gothic and Romanesque churches have the long, rectangular nave inherited from Late Antique basilicas, ultimately derived from Roman public buildings. Neither Brown nor his sources consider what symbolism medieval churchmen such as Suger of St.-Denis or William Durandus read in church design. It certainly wasn’t goddess-worship.

False Claims

If the above seems like a pile driver applied to a gnat, the blows are necessary to demonstrate the utter falseness of Brown’s material. His willful distortions of documented history are more than matched by his outlandish claims about controversial subjects. But to a postmodernist, one construct of reality is as good as any other.

Brown’s approach seems to consist of grabbing large chunks of his stated sources and tossing them together in a salad of a story. From Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Brown lifts the concept of the Grail as a metaphor for a sacred lineage by arbitrarily breaking a medieval French term, Sangraal (Holy Grail), into sang (blood) and raal (royal). This holy blood, according to Brown, descended from Jesus and his wife, Mary Magdalene, to the Merovingian dynasty in Dark Ages France, surviving its fall to persist in several modern French families, including that of Pierre Plantard, a leader of the mysterious Priory of Sion. The Priory—an actual organization officially registered with the French government in 1956—makes extraordinary claims of antiquity as the “real” power behind the Knights Templar. It most likely originated after World War II and was first brought to public notice in 1962. With the exception of filmmaker Jean Cocteau, its illustrious list of Grand Masters—which include Leonardo da Vinci, Issac Newton, and Victor Hugo—is not credible, although it’s presented as true by Brown.

Brown doesn’t accept a political motivation for the Priory’s activities. Instead he picks up The Templar Revelation’s view of the organization as a cult of secret goddess-worshippers who have preserved ancient Gnostic wisdom and records of Christ’s true mission, which would completely overturn Christianity if released. Significantly, Brown omits the rest of the book’s thesis that makes Christ and Mary Magdalene unmarried sex partners performing the erotic mysteries of Isis. Perhaps even a gullible mass-market audience has its limits.

From both Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Templar Revelation, Brown takes a negative view of the Bible and a grossly distorted image of Jesus. He’s neither the Messiah nor a humble carpenter but a wealthy, trained religious teacher bent on regaining the throne of David. His credentials are amplified by his relationship with the rich Magdalen who carries the royal blood of Benjamin: “Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false,” laments one of Brown’s characters.

Yet it’s Brown’s Christology that’s false—and blindingly so. He requires the present New Testament to be a post-Constantinian fabrication that displaced true accounts now represented only by surviving Gnostic texts. He claims that Christ wasn’t considered divine until the Council of Nicea voted him so in 325 at the behest of the emperor. Then Constantine—a lifelong sun worshipper—ordered all older scriptural texts destroyed, which is why no complete set of Gospels predates the fourth century. Christians somehow failed to notice the sudden and drastic change in their doctrine.

But by Brown’s specious reasoning, the Old Testament can’t be authentic either because complete Hebrew Scriptures are no more than a thousand years old. And yet the texts were transmitted so accurately that they do match well with the Dead Sea Scrolls from a thousand years earlier. Analysis of textual families, comparison with fragments and quotations, plus historical correlations securely date the orthodox Gospels to the first century and indicate that they’re earlier than the Gnostic forgeries. (The Epistles of St. Paul are, of course, even earlier than the Gospels.)

Primitive Church documents and the testimony of the ante-Nicean Fathers confirm that Christians have always believed Jesus to be Lord, God, and Savior—even when that faith meant death. The earliest partial canon of Scripture dates from the late second century and already rejected Gnostic writings. For Brown, it isn’t enough to credit Constantine with the divinization of Jesus. The emperor’s old adherence to the cult of the Invincible Sun also meant repackaging sun worship as the new faith. Brown drags out old (and long-discredited) charges by virulent anti-Catholics like Alexander Hislop who accused the Church of perpetuating Babylonian mysteries, as well as 19th-century rationalists who regarded Christ as just another dying savior-god.

Unsurprisingly, Brown misses no opportunity to criticize Christianity and its pitiable adherents. (The church in question is always the Catholic Church, though his villain does sneer once at Anglicans—for their grimness, of all things.) He routinely and anachronistically refers to the Church as “the Vatican,” even when popes weren’t in residence there. He systematically portrays it throughout history as deceitful, power-crazed, crafty, and murderous: “The Church may no longer employ crusades to slaughter, but their influence is no less persuasive. No less insidious.”

Goddess Worship and the Magdalen

Worst of all, in Brown’s eyes, is the fact that the pleasure-hating, sex-hating, woman-hating Church suppressed goddess worship and eliminated the divine feminine. He claims that goddess worship universally dominated pre-Christian paganism with the hieros gamos (sacred marriage) as its central rite. His enthusiasm for fertility rites is enthusiasm for sexuality, not procreation. What else would one expect of a Cathar sympathizer?

Astonishingly, Brown claims that Jews in Solomon’s Temple adored Yahweh and his feminine counterpart, the Shekinah, via the services of sacred prostitutes—possibly a twisted version of the Temple’s corruption after Solomon (1 Kings 14:24 and 2 Kings 23:4-15). Moreover, he says that the tetragrammaton YHWH derives from “Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah.”

But as any first-year Scripture student could tell you, Jehovah is actually a 16th-century rendering of Yahweh using the vowels of Adonai (“Lord”). In fact, goddesses did not dominate the pre-Christian world—not in the religions of Rome, her barbarian subjects, Egypt, or even Semitic lands where the hieros gamos was an ancient practice. Nor did the Hellenized cult of Isis appear to have included sex in its secret rites.

Contrary to yet another of Brown’s claims, Tarot cards do not teach goddess doctrine. They were invented for innocent gaming purposes in the 15th century and didn’t acquire occult associations until the late 18th. Playing-card suites carry no Grail symbolism. The notion of diamonds symbolizing pentacles is a deliberate misrepresentation by British occultist A. E. Waite. And the number five—so crucial to Brown’s puzzles—has some connections with the protective goddess but myriad others besides, including human life, the five senses, and the Five Wounds of Christ.

Brown’s treatment of Mary Magdalene is sheer delusion. In The Da Vinci Code, she’s no penitent whore but Christ’s royal consort and the intended head of His Church, supplanted by Peter and defamed by churchmen. She fled west with her offspring to Provence, where medieval Cathars would keep the original teachings of Jesus alive. The Priory of Sion still guards her relics and records, excavated by the Templars from the subterranean Holy of Holies. It also protects her descendants—including Brown’s heroine.

Although many people still picture the Magdalen as a sinful woman who anointed Jesus and equate her with Mary of Bethany, that conflation is actually the later work of Pope St. Gregory the Great. The East has always kept them separate and said that the Magdalen, “apostle to the apostles,” died in Ephesus. The legend of her voyage to Provence is no earlier than the ninth century, and her relics weren’t reported there until the 13th. Catholic critics, including the Bollandists, have been debunking the legend and distinguishing the three ladies since the 17th century.

Brown uses two Gnostic documents, the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary, to prove that the Magdalen was Christ’s “companion,” meaning sexual partner. The apostles were jealous that Jesus used to “kiss her on the mouth” and favored her over them. He cites exactly the same passages quoted in Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Templar Revelation and even picks up the latter’s reference to The Last Temptation of Christ. What these books neglect to mention is the infamous final verse of the Gospel of Thomas. When Peter sneers that “women are not worthy of Life,” Jesus responds, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male . . . . For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

That’s certainly an odd way to “honor” one’s spouse or exalt the status of women.

The Knights Templar

Brown likewise misrepresents the history of the Knights Templar. The oldest of the military-religious orders, the Knights were founded in 1118 to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land. Their rule, attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, was approved in 1128 and generous donors granted them numerous properties in Europe for support. Rendered redundant after the last Crusader stronghold fell in 1291, the Templars’ pride and wealth—they were also bankers—earned them keen hostility.

Brown maliciously ascribes the suppression of the Templars to “Machiavellian” Pope Clement V, whom they were blackmailing with the Grail secret. His “ingeniously planned sting operation” had his soldiers suddenly arrest all Templars. Charged with Satanism, sodomy, and blasphemy, they were tortured into confessing and burned as heretics, their ashes “tossed unceremoniously into the Tiber.”

But in reality, the initiative for crushing the Templars came from King Philip the Fair of France, whose royal officials did the arresting in 1307. About 120 Templars were burned by local Inquisitorial courts in France for not confessing or retracting a confession, as happened with Grand Master Jacques de Molay. Few Templars suffered death elsewhere although their order was abolished in 1312. Clement, a weak, sickly Frenchman manipulated by his king, burned no one in Rome inasmuch as he was the first pope to reign from Avignon (so much for the ashes in the Tiber).

Moreover, the mysterious stone idol that the Templars were accused of worshiping is associated with fertility in only one of more than a hundred confessions. Sodomy was the scandalous—and possibly true—charge against the order, not ritual fornication. The Templars have been darlings of occultism since their myth as masters of secret wisdom and fabulous treasure began to coalesce in the late 18th century. Freemasons and even Nazis have hailed them as brothers. Now it’s the turn of neo-Gnostics.

Twisting da Vinci

Brown’s revisionist interpretations of da Vinci are as distorted as the rest of his information. He claims to have first run across these views “while I was studying art history in Seville,” but they correspond point for point to material in The Templar Revelation. A writer who sees a pointed finger as a throat-cutting gesture, who says the Madonna of the Rocks was painted for nuns instead of a lay confraternity of men, who claims that da Vinci received “hundreds of lucrative Vatican commissions” (actually, it was just one…and it was never executed) is simply unreliable.

Brown’s analysis of da Vinci’s work is just as ridiculous. He presents the Mona Lisa as an androgynous self-portrait when it’s widely known to portray a real woman, Madonna Lisa, wife of Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo. The name is certainly not—as Brown claims—a mocking anagram of two Egyptian fertility deities Amon and L’Isa (Italian for Isis). How did he miss the theory, propounded by the authors of The Templar Revelation, that the Shroud of Turin is a photographed self-portrait of da Vinci?

Much of Brown’s argument centers around da Vinci’s Last Supper, a painting the author considers a coded message that reveals the truth about Jesus and the Grail. Brown points to the lack of a central chalice on the table as proof that the Grail isn’t a material vessel. But da Vinci’s painting specifically dramatizes the moment when Jesus warns, “One of you will betray me” (John 13:21). There is no Institution Narrative in St. John’s Gospel. The Eucharist is not shown there. And the person sitting next to Jesus is not Mary Magdalene (as Brown claims) but St. John, portrayed as the usual effeminate da Vinci youth, comparable to his St. John the Baptist. Jesus is in the exact center of the painting, with two pyramidal groups of three apostles on each side. Although da Vinci was a spiritually troubled homosexual, Brown’s contention that he coded his paintings with anti-Christian messages simply can’t be sustained.

Brown’s Mess

In the end, Dan Brown has penned a poorly written, atrociously researched mess. So, why bother with such a close reading of a worthless novel? The answer is simple: The Da Vinci Code takes esoterica mainstream. It may well do for Gnosticism what The Mists of Avalon did for paganism—gain it popular acceptance. After all, how many lay readers will see the blazing inaccuracies put forward as buried truths?

What’s more, in making phony claims of scholarship, Brown’s book infects readers with a virulent hostility toward Catholicism. Dozens of occult history books, conveniently cross-linked by Amazon.com, are following in its wake. And booksellers’ shelves now bulge with falsehoods few would be buying without The Da Vinci Code connection. While Brown’s assault on the Catholic Church may be a backhanded compliment, it’s one we would have happily done without.

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Sexual Re-connection By PETER KREEFT

7 12 2013

 

Sexual Reconnection

To see that the Sexual Revolution has been radical in thought as well as behavior, just look at the revolution in language. When people use the word “morality” today they almost always mean sexual morality. That’s a remarkable new development, an astonishing narrowing; it’s as if we started to use the word “state” to mean only Russia, or the word “technology” to mean only “computers”. The reason for the new development is obvious from my two comparisons: sex, Russia, and computers are where there have been the most radical revolutions.
No one speaks of a revolution in any other area of morality. No one speaks of the Property Revolution or the Bearing False Witness Revolution. In fact the rest of the natural moral law is pretty much still in place. Almost no one defends terrorism, sadism, cannibalism, insider trading, nuclear war, environmental pollution, rape, hypocrisy, torture, or murder. We are still “judgmental” about those things. But if it has anything to do with sex we dare no longer be “judgmental”.

Look at the non-impeachment of President Clinton. No U.S. President would ever have survived public revelation that he was any of these immoral things I just mentioned, or even a deliberate liar about anything else except sex.

Look at abortion. No one defends killing innocent, defenceless human beings, except for sex. That is what abortion is. The whole purpose of abortion is backup birth control and the whole purpose of birth control is to have sex without babies. If storks brought babies, Planned Parenthood would go broke. Sex is the motor that drives the abortion business.

Look at divorce. Suppose there were some practice that did not involve sex that had the same three scientifically provable effects that divorce has. First, it betrayed your most solemn promise you ever made to the person you said was the most important person in your life. Second, it was child abuse, it maimed your children’s psyches, it made a happy life and a happy marriage and family much, much harder for those vulnerable little people you brought into the world and who remained largely dependent on you for their future. Third, it infallibly guaranteed that your society would die, would self destruct. No society in history has ever survived without stable marriages and stable families. It is the one absolutely indispensable foundation of everything else, for it is the first and most intimate way that individuals form communities and emerge from selfishness. But these three things are exactly what divorce does. More than that, it’s a form of suicide, the suicide of the new person, the two-in-one-flesh created by marriage. How healthy would you think a society is if half of all its individual citizens committed suicide? But half of our families commit suicide, and society is composed of families, not just of individuals. But divorce is tolerated and accepted because it’s about sex. Suppose it was proved that something else, something not connected with sex, had these three effects. For instance, smoking, or single malt scotch, or ferris wheels. You’d have absolute prohibition, not tolerance.

The moral revolution is confined to sex. We are not allowed to steal another man’s money without being put into jail, but we can steal another man’s wife. You cannot betray your lawyer without being severely penalized, but you can betray your wife, and SHE is severely penalized. You cannot kill bald eagles or blue whales without being a criminal but you can kill your own children as long as you do it a second before the two blades of the scissors meet in the middle of the umbilical cord rather than a second after, or a second before the body emerges from the birth canal rather than a second after. What kind of logic is this?

Obviously the mind behind the Sexual Revolution is not overly attached to logical consistency, and there is little hope of changing the mind that defends that revolution by logical arguments, however infallible they may be. You need more than logic to unscramble the brains of an addict. The argument will find no soil in the brains to grow in because the brains are already scrambled. Do you really think sex addicts can think more clearly than drug addicts? If anything, it’s the opposite. Drug addicts don’t usually defend their addiction with elaborate rationalizations and new philosophies of moral relativism; sex addicts almost always do. And only about 5-10% of Americans are drug addicts, probably about twice as much as that if we include alcohol. But the vast majority are sex addicts. According to a recent poll, over 50% of the men who attend Church every Sunday are addicted to pornography. That’s not 50% of men, or even 50% of Christian man, but 50% of the small, elite cream of the crop who are in church every Sunday. It is a literal epidemic.

What then do we need to defeat this revolution, which has brought about such immense destruction, and eventual death, to families, and eventually to society? Reason, logic, argument, science, facts, common sense, compromise, return to tradition – none of these are strong enough. What is strong enough? Only one thing. Nothing less than Jesus Christ will do.

Why? Because the heart of the error of the Sexual Revolution is the identifying of love with sex. Christ undoes this fundamental confusion by showing us – not just telling us but showing us – what love is.

The Beatles are right: all you need is love. But not the kind of love they mean. Why is it true that all you need is love? Because God is love, and all you need is God. If you have God plus ten million other things, and if I have God alone, you don’t have a single thing more than I do. Love and the lack of love transforms everything else. We’d all rather be in love in Detroit than divorced in Hawaii.

Christianity centers on two equations: God is love, and love is (revealed in) Christ. Look at this second equation. Do you want to know what love is? Look at Christ. I Corinthians 13, the most popular chapter in the Bible, read at nearly ever wedding, is a description of Jesus Christ. It’s not an abstract definition of an ideal, it’s a concrete description of the historical fact of Jesus Christ. As Pope John Paul II loved to say, Jesus Christ shows man to himself. Without Christ we do not know ourselves. We are like a dog in a cage at the airport who has chewed off his own dog tag with his name and his address. He does not know who he is or where his home is. That’s us without Christ. For He’s the Mind of God! He designed us, for God’s sake. I mean that literally, not profanely: He designed us for God’s sake. For the God who is love. But what kind of love? A new and different kind, and that difference was so radical that it converted the world. It wasn’t theology that converted the world, it was love. Mother Teresa converted souls without number just by being what she was, a saint, an example of this new love, this total love, this Godlike love.

Jesus predicted that would happen. He said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.” If that love was something already known, if it was romance or erotic love or liking or compassion or philanthropy or civility or fairness or justice or mercy, all of which are wonderful things, but if that was all it was, if the love Christ was talking about was not radically new and different, then He could not possibly have meant what He said. It would contradict itself. It would mean: “The world will see the difference between you and them by the fact that you all share the same kind of love. They will be able to distinguish My disciples from everybody else by the fact that their kind of love is not different from everybody else’s.”

It means, of course, exactly the opposite. Our human loves are forms of desire, feeling, eros, need. These need-loves are very good things. Men need women and women need men, physically and spiritually and socially and emotionally and biologically. And children need adults and adults need children. And teachers need students and students need teachers. But the love Christ brings is the love God is, and God does not need anything. God is sheer gift.

That’s why Jesus came, and why He died, and why He shed so much blood. He didn’t have to. One drop would have saved the world. Why did He give 12 quarts? Because He had 12 quarts to give.
Now let’s connect this new love, this love that is the very nature of God, with sex. The Sexual Revolution has disconnected it; we need to reconnect it. How? First of all in our thinking, and then in our acting. Without the right thoughts, we won’t do the right acts. Without a road map, we won’t find the right road.

We’ve already seen how radical the Sexual Revolution is. It’s a radical change in behavior, of course, but even more radically, it’s a radical change in thinking. And the most radical change in thinking is not an addition but a subtraction. The single most radical result of all the immense amount of sex education that we’ve had in the last 50 years has been not a new knowledge but a new ignorance: ignorance of the most essential thing about sex, the essential meaning and purpose of sex, the very essence of sex. Sex creates babies. They’re not accidents! Pregnancy is not a disease. They’re what sex does if you let it do its thing. Sex makes new immortal persons. Sex is incredibly, magically, supernaturally creative because it images the Creator. It’s part of the image of God. That’s why the first time the Bible mentions “the image of God,” in Genesis, it immediately mentions sex: “And God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God created He him: male and female created He them.”
No official teaching in the Church’s 2000 year history, no official document, has ever been so hated, despised, ignored, and disobeyed as Humanae Vitae. What is the most unpopular teaching of the Church today? Nothing comes even close.

We moderns think sex is for us; it isn’t; it’s for our children. We moderns think we’re so enlightened because we’re not legalists any more, we’re personalists, we’re about people, not about laws or rules or commandments. We think of the people who make sex, and we want those people to have fun and be happy. Which is fine, but we’re so fixated on the fact that people make sex that we’ve ignored the fact that sex makes people.

But we’ve redesigned it so that it doesn’t make people any more. We’ve contracepted it. But since it is God’s way of creating, we’ve contracepted God. That’s exactly like redesigning the Mass so that you put a condom over the priest’s mouth when he’s about to say This Is My Body so that Jesus can’t come and create the miracle of transubstantiation, because you don’t want that new life, all you want is the thrill of playing at it. That’s what contraception is. It’s putting a condom on God, putting a barrier or a diaphragm between God and the miracle He might otherwise perform in you.

No official teaching in the Church’s 2000 year history, no official document, has ever been so hated, despised, ignored, and disobeyed as Humanae Vitae. What is the most unpopular teaching of the Church today? Nothing comes even close. It’s the teaching of the Church about sex that is by far the main reason the world hates and fears the Church today. For the Church is “judgmental” about our society’s addiction and real religion. False religion, false gods, can be overcome only by true religion, by the true God.

Humanae Vitae was prophetic. The Pill was a nuclear bomb. It split the atom of the family by splitting the atom of sex, splitting its pleasure from its fruit, its unitive from its procreative end, splitting sex from life.

How does Christ revolutionize the Sexual Revolution? Not by turning back the clock, not by a new Victorianism, not by opposing religion to sex, but by showing their real and profound connection. What is that connection?

It’s exactly the opposite of what Freud thought it was. Freud argued that religion is only a poor substitute for sex. Christ shows that sex is a poor substitute for religion, for real religion, that is, a kind of religion Freud knew nothing about. Freud thought love was a substitute for lust. Christ knew that lust was a substitute for love. If Freud were right, it would follow that the more sex you have the less religion you want, so that happily married people who have a lot of happy sex would become atheists. It doesn’t happen. The predictions are not verified. The data falsify the theory. Sexually active people don’t become atheists. Even in college. The college hookup culture has turned colleges into free whore houses, a randy man’s impossible dream. But even these men, and certainly their free whores, are not happy atheists. They’re neither atheists nor happy. Satisfying their sexual hunger is not satisfying their spiritual hunger any more than it did for St. Augustine. It looks as if God isn’t a poor substitute for sex but sex is a poor substitute for God.

But let’s be honest, among all the substitutes for God, sex is a pretty good one. And that’s because it’s a kind of icon of God. Eros is an image of agape. And the love between the sexes is an image or icon of the love between the persons of the Trinity. Only very good things can become addictions and idolatries. No one gets addicted to paper clips or worships mud. You can’t make a religion out of washing machines. But you can make one out of sex.
In short, by God’s design in creating us, we are hardwired for the spiritual marriage, for becoming one with God; that’s why we are so thrilled at becoming one with each other, as the images of God. As we are images of God, the sexual union is an image of union with God. It is an appetizer of Heaven, a faint image of the Beatific Vision.

Sex is close to religion because the ultimate end and center and point of all true religion is a spiritual marriage to God. That’s what we are designed for, that’s the only thing that will keep us in unbored ecstasy for ever. That’s what the Bible says. The last event in human history, at the end of the Apocalypse, is the marriage between the Lamb and His bride, Christ and His Church, God and man. That’s the end, point, purpose, highest value, greatest good, meaning, consummation and perfection of human life.

Why is sex such a thrill? Because it’s one of the few things in life that’s like that. It’s literally an ecstasy – the word means “standing-outside-yourself”, self-forgetfulness, self-transcendence, the overcoming of that hidden inner loneliness that every one of us brings into the world with that wonderful and terrible little word “I”. The “I” is restless until it becomes a “We”. And ultimately, that’s because God is a “We”.
It’s not the physical excitement that’s the greatest excitement in sex, it’s the personal excitement of knowing that this other person has accepted you into his or her inner sanctum, body and soul. It’s the intimacy, the oneness, the we-ness, when we know that the one we love loves us, when the two streams of loving and being loved meet like two beams of light becoming one, or two rivers of volcanic lava blending. The two really do become one, and paradoxically, in that one moment when they are the most totally lost in each other, each one discovers the deepest secret of his and her own individuality. At what other moment do lovers attain the peak of their individual fulfillment if not at that moment when they are the most totally lost in each other? Why does that happen? Because that’s what God is: and that’s why that’s the ultimate law of life: the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, that that’s the only way it lives. You lose your life, and that’s the only way to find it. You give, and that’s the only way to receive. You forget yourself, and that’s the only way to find yourself. It’s a kind of mystical absentmindedness. You become the other, without ceasing to be yourself.

There are other peak experiences in life that can give you some of that thrill, that are similar to sex, but they are usually much weaker and rarer. Great music, for instance, or surfing a great wave. But God designed sex to be the #1 way. That’s why He didn’t design babies to come from listening to Beethoven or from hanging ten in the tube.

In short, by God’s design in creating us, we are hardwired for the spiritual marriage, for becoming one with God; that’s why we are so thrilled at becoming one with each other, as the images of God. As we are images of God, the sexual union is an image of union with God. It is an appetizer of Heaven, a faint image of the Beatific Vision.

St. Thomas Aquinas says: “No man can live without joy” (i.e. without ecstasy, which is much more than happiness, because happiness can be somewhat under your control and therefore boring, but joy is always a gift and a surprise). Aquinas continues: “No man can live without joy; that is why those who are deprived of true, spiritual joys, necessarily go over to carnal pleasures.” The origin of the Sexual Revolution is religious. The Revolution could not have happened without the loss of true religion, the loss of spiritual joy, the loss of religious passion, the passionate love of God. The Revolution could not have happened without that, and also without the Pill, of course, which allows us to have sex without consequences and lifelong responsibilities. We have given up the two deepest, longest, greatest joys, the eternity-long love of God and the lifelong love of spouse and family and children, the two joys that come from the most total self-giving, the radical adventure of holding back nothing; and we’ve given these up these two great dramatic things for what? For the shallower, temporary, smaller pleasures that are so small because they have to hold back something, hold back total self-giving which includes fertility and family and future and commitment. These are crazy adventures. What a crazy adventure kids are! Having fits is less crazy than having kids. And we are bored and therefore unhappy because we are hardwired for the all-or-nothing, wild, total romance and all we find is some cool, controlled kicks.
So we lie. We pretend we are happy. Our most basic social liturgy is “How are you?” And the answer has to be “Fine,” even if your dog just died, your mother in law is coming to live with you forever, your kids think you’re a dork, and your wife is collecting the phone numbers of divorce lawyers. We’re all fine.

If we’re all fine, how come the suicide rate for teenagers rose 5000 per cent between 1950 and 1990? What could possibly be a more unarguable index of increasing unhappiness than that?

And how does Jesus Christ answer that? What does Christ have to do with the Sexual Revolution and its causes and its consequences? Everything. Because Christ alone gives us intimacy with God, and that’s the thing the Sexual Revolution is looking for but doesn’t know it. As Chesterton said, When the adulterer knocks on the door of the brothel, he’s really looking for a cathedral.

Therefore Christ alone is the answer to the Sexual Revolution. Because nobody else gives us intimacy with God.
What I’ve said will strike some of you as bizarre. How dare I bring these two things together, Christ and sex? I must bring them together, because they are the two most passionate things in our lives, and because they both are revelations of the same God, the God of love.

What I’ve given you is the essential point of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. That is the Church’s answer to the Sexual Revolution. The Church always responds to new heresies with new definitions, new insights, new restatements of eternal truths. How important is this response? As important as the Sexual Revolution. The importance of St. George depends on the importance of the dragon. The importance of Dr. Von Helsing depends on the importance of Dracula.

What I’ve given you is the essential point of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. That is the Church’s answer to the Sexual Revolution. The Church always responds to new heresies with new definitions, new insights, new restatements of eternal truths.

And how important is the dragon, or the Dracula of the Sexual Revolution? Well, that depends on how important the family is, for exactly the same reason: because the Revolution is doing a Dracula on the family.

And how important is the family? It is only the foundation for all human society, and the source of the greatest human happiness (and, when messed up, the greatest human unhappiness), because it is the image of God. God is not a lonely individual. God is a family.

I think the family is even more important to God than doctrinal orthodoxy, because the family is the very image and presence of God among us. Islam and Mormonism are both theological heresies, but they are multiplying faster than Christianity, and God is blessing them because Mormons and Muslims today are much more faithful than Christians are to their families, to sexual morality, to marriage, and to procreation.

Muslims tried to conquer Christian Europe for 13 centuries with the sword, and failed; they are succeeding now with a far more powerful weapon: mothers. They are having children and families, and Christians aren’t. Therefore God is giving them Europe because they deserve it and we don’t.

This is outrageous because neither Muhammad nor Joseph Smith is the answer to the Sexual Revolution. Christ is. He does not just teach the Big Picture, as the Pope does; He IS the big picture. He does not just teach us the Word of God about sex, he IS the Word of God about sex. He does not merely teach the spiritual marriage, He IS the spiritual marriage. He is the whole meaning and end and point and consummation of sex, and of our whole lives, in this world and in the next. He is the Mind of God, He is the inventor of sex the icon and the mediator of the Heavenly ecstasy, the mystical marriage, of which it is the icon. To know Him is to know the meaning of all things. Outside of Him, we do not know God, or ourselves, or the meaning of life, or the meaning of death, or the meaning of sex.

There is more than that to say about a Christian anthropology and about a Christian philosophy of sex. Many more things than this are needed. But nothing less.

 





Why doesn’t everybody believe that there is a purpose in Life?

23 06 2013

why deosnot every one believe that life has a pBecause some people think there is no real purpose or destiny to human life! They believe that only the things we make, like cars and watches, have design and purpose in them. We know what the purposes of these objects are because we designed them. (For instance, we know that the purpose of a car is transportation, and the purpose of a watch is to tell time.) But the things in nature, like trees and stars, were not designed by any human beings, so we do not know their purposes as we know the purposes of the things we design. So some people believe that there are no real purposes in the things in nature, but only in humanly designed artificial objects.
But one of the things in nature is human beings. They are not artificial objects! They are not artifacts like cars or watches. We did not design human nature; we only carry it on, by reproduction.
So the people who deny that human life has any real purpose argue this way:
If only artifacts have purposes, while things in nature do not; And if we are things in nature rather than artifacts; Then we have no real purpose.
So the answer to the question “What is the purpose of my existence?” is that there is no real purpose; we can imagine or make up any subjective purposes we want, but there is no objectively real purpose to human life. Life is purposeless, pointless, meaningless, in vain. “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Eccl 1:2).
This is the worst philosophy in the world. For it denies us the things we need most: meaning and purpose; a reason to live, learn, grow, and endure.
Meaninglessness is unendurable. Even pain isn’t as bad as meaninglessness. We can accept pains if they are meaningful: for instance, the pains of childbirth, or the pains of sacrificing for someone you love, or even the pains of martyrdom for a good cause. But we cannot accept meaninglessness. Even pleasures are not worthwhile if they are meaningless. (That’s why a billionaire can choose to commit suicide.) And even pains are worthwhile if they are meaningful. (That’s why a woman wants to give birth to a baby.)
The idea that objective things have no purpose is really atheism. For if God is real and if He created and designed everything, then everything has a purpose.
We can see some of the purpose of the things in nature. For instance, we can see that one of the purposes of stars is to enable us to think. For (a) if we did not breathe and bring oxygen to our brains, we could not think; and (b) if there were no green plants, we could not breathe, since their photosynthesis replaces carbon dioxide with oxygen; and (c) if there were no sun, there could be no green plants, for green plants need sunlight and heat, and (d) if there were no stars, there would be no sun, for the sun is a star. Therefore, if there were no stars, we could not think.
But many of the things in nature have designs and purposes that are not clear to us. They do not seem to be useful for us. (For instance, we wonder why God made so many mosquitoes.) So it takes a little faith, a little trust, to believe that everything has a purpose and that “all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Rom, 8:28), though we do not see this. This is especially true of things that make us suffer. We do not always see how suffering has a good purpose.
But if the Creator is all-wise, all-good, and all-powerful, then the quotation above from Romans 8:28 is true. If He is all-good, He wants what is best. If He is all-powerful, He is able to bring about what is best, in the end. And if He is all-wise, He knows what is best.
And since we are not all-wise, we do not know what is best in the long run. That is why we have to trust Him with all those mosquitoes and even with much worse things, like cancers. He knows how to bring greater goods out of great evils. That is what He did two thousand years ago on the Cross of Calvary when He brought about the greatest good for us, the greatest gift we have ever been given–salvation from sin and the ability to enter Heaven–through the greatest evil that ever happened, the torture and murder of Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who ever lived, the man who was God Himself.
Christians believe this. Many people don’t. Can Christian give them any reason to believe their religion’s answer to the question “Why do I exist”?
The best reason we can give them is ourselves: our love and our joy. You can’t argue with the happiness of a saint.
The greatest love, and the greatest joy, is mutual: it comes from both loving and being loved. The next-greatest joy comes from loving, even without being loved back. Even this second-best joy of loving without being loved back is greater and deeper than the third joy, the joy of being loved without loving. That is why saints are so happy: they are never in the third level of joy but always in the second or the first. (In fact, since they know God always loves them, you could say they are always in the first.) That’s why the prayer attributed to Saint Francis says:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light and where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, may I always seek not so much to be condemned as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

By Peter Kreeft





Forgive a killer ? Impossible!

12 06 2013

Forgive a killer ? Impossible!

Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive. John Gualbert belonged to a rich and noble family. In his boyhood he was brought up in piety, but when he grew up, the attractions of the world deceived him, and he plunged headlong into the life of pleasure it offered him. He even began to think that dissipation and a life of pleasure were privileges that belonged to the position in life in which he was born. It happened that his oldest brother, Hugh, had been killed in a quarrel with a gentleman of that country. John formed the resolution of avenging his death by taking away the life of the man who had slain him.
One Good Friday, as he was coming from the country into Florence, he met his brother s murderer in a narrow defile, from which there was no possibility of escaping. In a moment his sword was in his hand, and, full of anger and the desire of revenge, he rushed forward to plunge it into the breast of his enemy. But the man, without attempting to escape, cast himself at his feet, and, stretching out his arms in the form of a cross, cried out : ” I conjure you by the passion and death of Jesus Christ, Who on the cross forgave His murderers, and prayed for them, do not kill me.”
John, remembering that that very day was the anniversary of Our Saviour s death, at once drew back. He threw away his sword, and, stretching out his hand to his enemy, said to him in a tone of sweetness : ” I will not refuse you what you have asked me in the name of Jesus Christ my Saviour. Not only do I grant you your life, but I also give you my friendship. Pray to God to pardon me.

“This story makes me sick,” some say when they hear this story. Some ask me, “I wonder how you’d feel about forgiving the Gestapo if you were a Pole or a Jew?”

So do I. I wonder very much. Just as when Christianity tells me that I must not deny my religion even to save myself from death by torture, I wonder very much what I should do when it came to the point. I am not trying to tell you in this book what I could do—I can do precious little—I am telling you what Christianity is. I did not invent it. And there, right in the middle of it, I find “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sin against us.” There is no slightest suggestion that we are offered forgiveness on any other terms. It is made perfectly dear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven. There are no two ways about it. What are we to do?
It is going to be hard enough, anyway, but I think there are two things we can do to make it easier. When you start mathematics you do not begin with the calculus; you begin with simple addition. In the same way, if we really want (but all depends on really wanting) to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo. One might start with forgiving one’s husband or wife, or parents or children, or the nearest N.C.O., for something they have done or said in the last week. That will probably keep us busy for the moment. And secondly, we might try to understand exactly what loving your neighbour as yourself means. I have to love him as I love myself. Well, how exactly do I love myself?
Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness or affection for myself, and 1 do not even always enjoy my own society. So apparently “Love your neighbour” does not mean “feel fond of him” or “find him attractive.” I ought to have seen that before, because, of course, you cannot feel fond of a person by trying. Do 1 think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I am afraid I sometimes do (and those are, no doubt, my worst moments) but that is not why I love myself. In fact it, is the other way round: my self-love makes me think myself nice, but thinking myself nice is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. That is an enormous relief.
For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are. Go a step further. In my most clear-sighted moments not only do I not think myself a nice man, but I know that I am a very nasty one. I can look at some of the things I have done with horror and loathing. So apparently I am allowed to loathe and hate some of the things my enemies do. Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.
For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.
Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again.
The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker.
If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything—God and our friends and ourselves included—as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.
Now a step further. Does loving your enemy mean not punishing him? No, for loving myself does not mean that I ought not to subject myself to punishment—even to death. If one had committed a murder, the right Christian thing to do would be to give yourself up to the police and be hanged. It is, therefore, in my opinion, perfectly right for a Christian judge to sentence a man to death or a Christian soldier to kill an enemy. I always have thought so, ever since I became a Christian, and long before the war, and I still think so now that we are at peace.
It is no good quoting “Thou shalt not kill.” There are two Greek words: the ordinary word to kill and the word to murder. And when Christ quotes that commandment He uses the murder one in all three accounts, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And I am told there is the same distinction in Hebrew. All killing is not murder any more than all sexual intercourse is adultery. When soldiers came to St. John the Baptist asking what to do, he never remotely suggested that they ought to leave the army: nor did Christ when He met a Roman sergeant-major—what they called a centurion. The idea of the knight—the Christian in arms for the defence of a good cause—is one of the great Christian ideas. War is a dreadful thing, and I can respect an honest pacifist, though I think he is entirely mistaken.
What I cannot understand is this sort of semipacifism you get nowadays which gives people the idea that though you have to fight, you ought to do it with a long face and as if you were ashamed of it. It is that feeling that robs lots of magnificent young Christians in the Services of something they have a right to, something which is the natural accompaniment of courage— a kind of gaity and wholeheartedness.
I have often thought to myself how it would have been if, when I served in the first world war, I and some young German had killed each other simultaneously and found ourselves together a moment after death. I cannot imagine that either of us would have felt any resentment or even any embarrassment. I think we might have laughed over it.
I imagine somebody will say, “Well, if one is allowed to condemn the enemy’s acts, and punish him, and kill him, what difference is left between Christian morality and the ordinary view?” All the difference in the world. Remember, we Christians think man lives for ever. Therefore, what really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or a hellish creature. We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating.
We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one’s own back, must be simply killed. I do not mean that anyone can decide this moment that he will never feel it any more. That is not how things happen. I mean that every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year, all our lives long, we must hit it on the head.
It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible. Even while we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves— to wish that he were not bad. to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, jot feeling fond of him nor saving he is nice when he is not.

I admit that this means loving people who have nothing lovable about them. But then, has oneself anything lovable about it? You love it simply because it is yourself, God intends us to love all selves in the same way and for the same reason: but He has given us the sum ready worked out on our own case to show us how it works.
We have then to go on and apply the rule to all the other selves. Perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that that is how He loves us. Not for any nice, attractive qualities we think we have, but just because we are the things called selves. For really there is nothing else in us to love: creatures like us who actually find hatred such a pleasure that to give it up is like giving up beer or tobacco. …C.S Lewis








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