May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Anslem, Nietzsche, Goodness, Nihilism & The Good News

I wrote in a  previous post here about how we Christians are responding to the incessant attacks on Christians and our Church. Mostly we respond as victims, the zeitgeist of victimology infecting even us.

I recently read an article by a guy, T L Jernigan ("On Anselm's God & the Virtue of Existing"-Touchstone), contrasting St Anselm and Nietzsche. The ideas here are his, I take no claim to them, only my response to the article.

 Nietzsche we all know said God is dead. Anselm we don’t know so much about. He was the 11th Century Archbishop of Canterbury. His main thing was to prove the existence of God by combining science, logic and reason with experience and knowledge of the Divine.

He said, God is good, so reality is good. I remember a sermon or reading from awhile ago, that said at each stage of creation, God saw it was good. So what could be better than good?

Anselm: “We believe that you are the thing than which nothing greater can be thought…it is the one thing to have something in the understanding, but quite another to understand that it actually exists…And certainly that than which nothing greater can be thought cannot exist only in the understanding. For if it exists only in the understanding, it is possible to think of it existing in reality, and that is greater.”

Existence is good. It’s great in fact!

Then here comes Nietzsche, who considered existence horrible and horrid. It’s something inflicted on us.

Nietzsche: “Oh wretched, ephemeral race, children of chance and misery, why do you compel me to tell you what it would be most expedient for you not to hear? What is best of all is utterly beyond your reach; not to be born, not to be nothing.” Jeeeeez, sad to be him.

Life is tough, and maybe some sometimes would like it to end. Augustine thought: “while [the suicidal man’s] error make him believe that he will no longer be, his nature makes him wish for rest, that is to say, an increase in being. It is why, since it is impossible not to love being, the fact that we are must not be a reason for us to show ingratitude toward the goodness of the creator.” (Being and Nothingness) I'll just bet you Nietzsche loved persons and sometimes even life. I would suggest he loved life so much he spent his life trying to understand and explain it. Volumes worth!

Sometimes we just need a break. We need to lie beside still waters. God provides it when we need it. Nietzsche isn’t wanting a rest, he wants it all to end. Nihilism. Would one expect anything else when one thinks God dead? With God dead there is no redemption, no rest, only endless suffering.

Now we live in a Nietzschean world. Euthanasia is good. Abortion is good; what better than to snuff out existence before a soul is aware of it? Suicide is good, we’ll even murder you while telling you you’re committing suicide.

A universe created by goodness, surrounded goodness, inhabiting goodness. We are created in His image, and it is good. I’ll be anti-Nietzschean, thank you very much. I think one of the things that moved me out of Buddhism is that it’s nihilist. From nothing to nothing. Ultimately I couldn’t accept that.  

John Paul II: “…the first and basic good for every creature…All other good derive from this basic good. I can only act while I am. Man’s multifarious works, the reasons of his genius, the fruits of his holiness are only possible if the man-the genius, the saint-comes into existence.”

I came from these ideas in the article heartened, and know that we mustn’t fall into Nietzschean thinking that life is horrible at its base, and it’s best if we snuff it out however we can. Sorry for the sad man, he’s a bad man.

We can’t whine as Christians, bemoan our plight; especially here in the New Amerika where it’s lawsuits, harassment and government suppression and threats, and we aren’t getting slaughtered like in the Middle East, or imprisoned/murdered like in China.

To back into our Christianity with just a taint of Nietzschean nihilism, or defeatism is to exhibit a weakened faith, a not serious belief of redemption. Not a serious knowledge that Life is Goodness and that God will not forsake us, Christ will return, and all we have to do is live scriptural, Spirit-filled lives.

Witness sensibly by showing understanding and talk to people from their perspective using their language, be careful of our words, listen to them (you have two ears and one mouth), be of service. James: “If you are wise and understand God’s ways prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” By this way we can take control of the helm and move the ship of humanity back to God, by sharing the Good News.

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