December 23, 2012

"Colonel Sanders in the sky"

The late Christopher Hitchens was a fascinating guy. Brilliant. But one of his peculiarities was that he lost about 50 IQ points whenever he attacked Christianity...

Fr. Dwight, Hitting on Hitchens:

...He goes on revealing his total misunderstanding of what religion is all about: “It (religion) comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance and other infantile needs).”

His chronological snobbery is incredible. Why does he suppose that modern man is not in need of comfort, reassurance and knowledge and that there were not people in primitive times who got along quite nicely without any extra comfort, reassurance and knowledge? Had he met a tribal warrior in the primeval jungle who was about to spear him and eat him for dinner I doubt whether Mr Hitchens would have recognized someone who was suffering from an infantile need for reassurance and comfort. In fact people then and people now are pretty much the same deep down. Some need knowledge, reassurance and comfort. Some do not.

The point is, these needs (or the lack of them) are not the reason for the development of religion. Instead human beings–both ancient and modern–sense that there is something else “out there.” They see the beautiful, ordered world around them and deduce that there is a mind behind the order and beauty. Within the human heart (whether it is in need of reassurance and comfort or not) there is a religious instinct.

Human beings are not so much homo sapiens as homo orans. Finally, Hitchens makes the common sophomoric mistake of thinking that the primitive religious quest was about knowledge, reassurance and comfort. This is because modern Christianity is mostly about knowledge, reassurance and comfort. Has Hitchens actually studied the primitive religions he pontificates about?...

...The idea that religion could provide knowledge, reassurance and comfort was a much, much later development. Even the earliest teachings of the Christian church did not offer much in the way of knowledge, reassurance and comfort. Jesus Christ was not your buddy who walks with you the beach and has golden hair and cuddles little lambkins. He was, instead, the fearsome judge of all–the King of the Universe and the Almighty Son of the Father. Neither was God the Father the warm and cozy, kindly sort of Colonel Sanders in the sky we modern soft Christians have imagined. He too was the Lord God–the Creator–to whom one day you would have to give account....

"Colonel Sanders in the sky." I like that!

Posted by John Weidner at December 23, 2012 5:18 PM

Yes, I'm struck by all the "be not afraid!" commands in the Bible readings. People have forgotten what "awe" originally meant. I do find it very typical that what passes for Modern liberal thought is so parochial, if only in a temporal sense in this case.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at December 24, 2012 7:18 AM

Good point about "be not afraid."

What Jesus said about discipleship was unimaginably radical, but we can't see it now. The concepts have lost their punch. He certainly wasn't offering comfort, except in the ultimate sense.

Things like, "Let the dead bury their dead." Burial was of absolute importance at that time. Unburied bodies defiled the land. If no one else would do it, even a High Priest or a Nazarite was required to bury a neglected body, even though this would cause extreme ritual impurity.

Likewise "Drink my blood." [John, chapter 6.] Consuming blood was forbidden to Jews—it could even be a capital offense! Washing feet—in Jewish law a Jewish slave could not be required to wash anyones feet! It was just too degrading.

Or, "you must become as a little child." Imagine discarding all your hard-won knowledge and certainties, all your life skills, and starting over like you were an awkward 13-year old? No comfort there; most people would rather die.

Posted by: John Weidner at December 24, 2012 10:01 AM
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