Wednesday, March 21, 2007


The Barque of Dante - Eugène Delacroix
1822; Oil on canvas; Musee du Louvre, Paris

The excellent series to which Aramis alluded also speaks to the excruciating problem of the unforgiven. It is not triumphalism on the part of persons who are in a state of grace to say this, just because they know and practice the Sacrament of Penance. The Sacraments are gifts of God for real, living, breathing humans, free but for the recognition of one's sins and the need for absolution, repentance, and expiation. But, of course, this more than implies the need to demarcate sinfulness for what it is, not to attempt to normalize sin and call it "choice", "lifestyle", or "infringement of rights." René Girard says as much in a recent interview when he discusses the Ten Commandments.

The problem of unforgiveness sets up an escalating cacophony in the echo-chamber of our human cosmos. Bailie:
When we look out and we read the morning paper and we see the six o’clock news, we see ignorance and sin and insensitivity and all the rest of it. And sometimes we establish some kind of moral stance about it. But if we look at it as Christians, what we see is this crying out of this massive unforgiven. All the terrible things ... that are going to happen in the future are going to be committed by unforgiven people. And Jesus, as the [Misfit] in Flannery O’Connor’s short story says, “thrown everything off” by destroying the system that used to take away the sins of the world ‘on the cheap’ at the expense of the scapegoat. And so the unforgiveness festers. And Jesus now is ... giving us another way of taking away sin. The biblical God is not going to take away sin with a wave of the wand. Why?

This has to do with the whole theodicy question, why does God allow all the terrible things in the world. God is not going to take away at the wave of the wand because that would rob us of our freedom and dignity. God wants love and love has to be freely offered. And if you’re going to create enough freedom so that love can be freely offered, you’re going to have to live in a world made perilous by what people do with that freedom. You can’t have it both ways.

God has put all his bets on love and therefore on freedom. And therefore what we do with that freedom can be a catastrophe. But God is not going to take away our sins by robbing us of that freedom, because it would rob us of our covenantal love for our Creator.

How’s he going to take it away, then? He could only take away our sins ... on the cheap by waving a wand, but will take them away instantly if we ask to have them taken away. All we have to do is first recognize our sinfulness, or complicity, that is to say, “Hear the cock crow,” and the key is to ask for forgiveness -- and we can’t ask for forgiveness until we recognize our sinfulness, and we can’t recognize our sinfulness until we go to the pit of that little “machine” which used to wash it away and we suddenly see what we’ve been doing. We hear the cock crow and we have that moment of conversion. So his blood is shed so that sins may be forgiven, not taken away on the cheap -- and be forgiven be a moment of conversion. So his blood is shed so that sins may be forgiven -- not taken away on the cheap -- but be forgiven because we have recognized them and asked for forgiveness. And then, Jesus says, “Take this and drink it. This is my blood.”


Athos said...

And here is Exhibit ‘A’from The Jakarta Post:

Militants get between 14 and 20 years for beheadings of school girls

JAKARTA (JP): Panel of judges in Central Jakarta District Court Wednesday sentenced Muslim militants between 14 and 20 years in prison for beheading Christian schoolgirls in Central Sulawesi's town of Poso in 2005.

Hasanuddin was found guilty for masterminding the beheading, buying the machetes and leaving a handwritten note at the scene vowing more killings to avenge the deaths of Muslims in an earlier conflict on Sulawesi island.

Judge Udar Siregar was quoted by Elshinta news radio as saying that Hasanuddin's action can be categorized as terror crime, which could spark fresh religious violence in the Central Sulawesi towns.

Meanwhile, two other conspirators Lilik Purnomo and Irwanto Irano were handed 14-year jail terms in a separated hearing.

Religious conflict in Poso had left at least 1,000 people dead from both Muslims and Christians from 1998 to 2002.

A peace agreement ended the worst of the violence, but tensions flared after the 2005 beheadings and again in September 2006, after the execution of three Roman Catholic militants convicted of leading a 2000 attack on an Islamic school that killed up to 70 people.

In January, 15 alleged Islamic militants were killed in a gunbattle in Sulawesi. Several others were arrested, including three who have confessed to taking part in the beheadings.


It is my MT informed opinion that Islam is nothing more or less than a doubling rivalrous expression of the primitive sacred. Rival to what, or whom? Judaism. Period.

Athos said...

I invoke the prayers of Our Lady of Lourdes for the conversion of sinners, particularly those who feel not their unforgiveness only unholy wrath toward their enemies. Blessed Mary ever virgin, pray for us. +

Porthos said...

Amen to that. Nice work on the blog, fellas.