I’m not going to get too into the OCA scandal here. Not out of piety, but simply because I expect this sort of thing out of people in power, and find it generally uninteresting. Hero worshippers are always bound for disappointment.
The one comment I do want to make is about the monstrosity of the culture warrior crowd. All of these penis, anus and vagina obsessions are, in essence, anti-human. Real victims, victims of rape, receive no sympathy in the singleminded pursuit of rooting out the suspected homosexual. There is no moral outrage at real crimes, only with regard to the imaginary “sodomite” lurking in the shadows, plotting against their Great White Hope.
Another example of this insanity is on the AOI blog, where Jacobse is calling for temperance in the comments, declaring his intent to delete any speculation on Met. Jonah’s misdeeds. Really? On the very same blog which makes unsupported, unfounded, claims of the synod’s supposed “gay agenda”?
The point that has to get their goat, more than any other, is that the “gay guy” was on the right side of this dispute. The one they so “righteously” persecuted, to the point of outing on an anonymous blog, was the moral one.
This, surely is the key to understanding Marxism’s renaissance in the west: for younger people, it is untainted by association with Stalinist gulags. For younger people too, Francis Fukuyama’s triumphalism in his 1992 book The End of History – in which capitalism seemed incontrovertible, its overthrow impossible to imagine – exercises less of a choke-hold on their imaginations than it does on those of their elders.
Blackwell-Pal will be speaking Thursday on Che Guevara and the Cuban revolution at the Marxism festival. “It’s going to be the first time I’ll have spoken on Marxism,” she says nervously. But what’s the point thinking about Guevara and Castro in this day and age? Surely violent socialist revolution is irrelevant to workers’ struggles today? “Not at all!” she replies. “What’s happening in Britain is quite interesting. We have a very, very weak government mired in in-fighting. I think if we can really organise we can oust them.” Could Britain have its Tahrir Square, its equivalent to Castro’s 26th of July Movement? Let a young woman dream. After last year’s riots and today with most of Britain alienated from the rich men in its government’s cabinet, only a fool would rule it out.
An interesting talk on genes and how they relate to free will and determinism, with asides on American Exceptionalism and so forth. Gleevec (the drug I used to be on) gets a mention as an exception to the general lack of medical advancement on the gene research front. Also a nice discussion on how the free market has failed in developing these types of drugs, and how the two exceptions she mentioned were in fact bankrolled with public and charitable money.
With healthcare in the headlines again, with a surprisingly semi-rational ruling by the Supreme Court, we can see how the bourgeois notion of rights (or liberty, etc) have been used to predictably obfuscate the issue. One can read some “Orthodox” reactionary takes here, here, here, here.
Really, I tend to think all the “Healthcare is a Human Right” stuff to be counterproductive. There is nothing inherent about “rights.” They are not “God given” or otherwise. Rights are pure social constructs. Where ever they occur, they are simply a societal delineation of what is (in theory) universally acceptable/unacceptable, marking where one person’s freedom begins and another’s ends. What place does property rights have in a hunter-gatherer society? Similarly, at what point does it become a human right to be guaranteed modern medical care? Really the notion of inherent rights is absurd.
Since a right is a delineating line, it is no surprise that reactionaries clothe their speech in lofty words of rights, liberty and personal freedom. The healthy person does have a greater degree of freedom without universal healthcare, at the expense of the freedom of the ill, of course. The real issue at hand is; what is the moral obligation of society? That is the crux of the argument which dissipates the fog. Given that we live in a society with the wealth and resources to provide for the sick and the suffering, we must weigh the moral obligations. Is there a greater moral obligation to ensuring the greatest possible care for the sick, or to the freedom of personal responsibility for the healthy (ie, to be able to choose not to plan for future sickness, which in itself impacts a society that deems its responsibility to not allow immediate death without treatment, regardless of one’s “choice” in this regard)? The Christian answer to this question is rather obvious.
Similarly and related, we have the same question relating to society, as embodied by the government, “taking from the rich and giving to the poor” (as though the rich are rich in a vacuum unrelated to exploitation of the very same poor). We often hear the reactionary “Christian” argument about allowing the rich the right and opportunity for moral good, by allowing them instead to be philanthropic. Again, what is society’s greater moral obligation to? The moral obligation to giving the wealthy a greater opportunity for philanthropy, or the moral obligation to ensure care and a reasonable standard of living for the poor? Again, the Christian answer, the moral answer, is obvious. Leading to the case of healthcare, wherein the choice of obtaining medical insurance is really only a real choice for relatively healthy, moderately well off people. So, again, the choice/right/ liberty of one person comes at the expense of another, that is, the sick and the poor. This leads us again to the Christian moral obligation to the poor, sick and suffering, and the general lack of special obligation to the healthy and wealthy.
We don’t live in a vacuum. Our “rights” directly impact another’s. One person’s freedom comes at the expense of another’s. One’s “right to personal responsibility” comes at the price of another’s life, and when a person shrieks in terror about their liberty and dollars being taken, the question of moral responsibility shows the type of human being they are, reveals their moral worth (or, lack thereof, in this case).
For those who haven’t noticed, I have now removed the “authors” portion of this blog. I think it is now certain that the idea of co-blogging will never come to fruition. My cousin had a fairly hilarious inaugural post concerning his accidental attendance of a Catholic Geocentrist conference, but due to some painful circumstances, the post will never see the light of day. Though I still like the idea of co-blogging, this time it was not meant to be. For now on, this blog is my personal blog, and (hopefully) I will soon get to creating an about page, and so on, to reflect these changes – which in effect, change nothing.
We do not know if everyone followed Christ when he rose from hell, nor do we know if everyone will follow him to the eschatological heavenly kingdom when he will become “all in all.” We do know that, since Christ’s descent, the way to resurrection has been opened for “all flesh,” salvation has been granted to every human being, and the gates of paradise have been opened for all who wish to enter through them. This is the faith of the early church, inherited from the first generation of Christians and cherished by Orthodox tradition. This is the never-extinguished hope of all those who believe in Christ, who once and for all conquered death, destroyed hell, and granted resurrection to the entire human race.
-Bp. Hilarion Alfeyev, Christ the Conqueror of Hell
One of Bp. Hilarion’s closing thoughts in this book is the impact the above mentioned theological understanding of Christ’s decent into Hell has upon theodicy. If we are to look at suffering, death, etc., even to the point of divinely mandated mass death, through a lens absent of any sort of finality, where movement from one mode of existence to another does not impact one’s ability to escape hell and so forth, we can come to an understanding of God as benevolent parent, rather than manevolent judge. I think there is a lot of weight to the argument, and I hope at some point he choses to delve into the matter a little more deeply. Theodicy is generally my greatest religious obsession and “stumbling block.”
Yet, another aspect of this soteriological concept is its impact upon the very universality of Christianity. A thought that came about whilst reading the following:
This is how one should answer the standard critique of Christian universalism: what this all-inclusive attitude (recall Saint Paul’s famous “There is neither male nor female, neither Jew nor Greek”) involves is a thorough exclusion of those who do not agree to be included into the Christian community. In other “particularistic” religions (and even in Islam, despite its global expansionism) there is a place for others, they are tolerated, even if they are looked upon condescendingly. The Christian motto “All men are brothers,” however, also means that “Those who are not my brothers are not (even) men.” Christians usually praise themselves for overcoming the Jewish exclusivist notion of the Chosen People, and encompassing the whole of humanity—the catch here is that, in their very insistence that they are the Chosen People with a privileged direct link to God, the Jews accept the humanity of other people who celebrate their false gods, while the Christian universalism tendentially excludes nonbelievers from the very universality of humankind…
But Christian universality is not the all-encompassing global medium where there is a place for all and everyone—it is, rather, a struggling universality, the site of a constant battle. Which battle, which division? To follow Saint Paul: not the division between Law and sin, but between, on one side, the totality of Law and sin as its supplement, and, on the other, the way of Love. Christian universality is the universality which emerges at the symptomal point of those who are “part of no-part” of the global order—this is where the accusation of exclusion gets it wrong: Christian universality, far from excluding some subjects, is formulated from the position of those excluded, of those for whom there is no specific place within the existing order, although they belong to it; universality is strictly codependent with this lack of specific place/determination.
Or, to put it in a different way: the accusation against Saint Paul’s universalism misses the true site of universality: the universal dimension he opened up is not the “neither Greek nor Jew but all Christians,” which implicitly excludes non-Christians; it is, rather, the difference Christians/non-Christians itself which, as a difference, is universal, that is to say, cuts across the entire social body, splitting, dividing from within every substantial ethnic, etc., identity—Greeks are divided into Christians and non-Christians, as well as Jews. The standard accusation thus, in a way, knocks on a open door: the whole point of the Pauline notion of struggling universality is that true universality and partiality do not exclude each other, but universal Truth is accessible only from a partial engaged subjective position.
-Slavoj Zizek, The Parallax View
If we are to absolutize hell, damnation, then there is some weight to Zizek’s argument. There is the a “universalism” which is defined against the Other, the justly damned unbelievers and sinners, who never become truly human. The righteous elect, chosen by God, and the evil sinners, less than human. There cannot be a way in which we can concieve of hell and redemtion that is not openended, and yet claim that Christ redeemed human nature as such. There is then no weight to such statements as, “neither Jew nor Greek,” the concept of theosis and so forth. If human nature is redeemed, yet men are eternally damned, then the obvious conclusion is that either only part of human nature has been redeemed, only part of the world is “made new,” or that these beings are less than human – less than being, even.
So, no, the concept is not “neither Greek nor Jew but all Christians,” even if this is the view of many – esp. among Western Christianity – but rather, the concept is precisely “in Christ.” The universality of Christ is exactly that it has opened the way regardless of one’s “partial engaged subjective position.” Zizek is part of the Christian universal redeemed human nature. There is no exclusion in Orthodoxy.