Monday, September 26, 2005

Christianity is an ultimately pessimistic world view.

All living hope in Christian doctrine leads to the hard stop of apocalypse, and the foundational understanding that humanity will increasingly degrade as it approaches this dark horizon. Under this cognitive shadow the visceral value of living pales, and becomes survival and preparation for what is "real": cataclysm and judgment. The hope of Christianity is not in this world but the next.

Once the predicted hard stop has been reached, judgments are made without regard to love or forgiveness; these are temporary virtues not eternal. The early Christian leader, Peter, encouraged Christians to care no more for this world than a dead person does, advocating complete abandonment of faith in any positive value in human life for faith in a positive value for death. In this light the, "Gift of Life", is a gift only in that man may prepare for judgment, using love and forgiveness to keep himself clean.

This leaves modern Christians in an awkward mental position; the better living life becomes the less it reinforces their world view, with loss, disaster and tragedy actually strengthening their position. This provides some understanding of the oft observed lens which this world view is shown through. It is natural for us to see more of those things in the environment that we wish to see, meaning we will always wish to reinforce our understanding of the world, our world view.

Christianity also relies upon a belief that each human being is born bad, infected with a sickness of failure and wrong action. Through no individual fault or action every human is automatically doomed and deserves never ending pain. This is just one of the seeds of pessimism. There are many. No amount of positive spin can fully escape the pessimistic foundation of this world view. Theologians of the modern age have worked to match the positivism of humanism, to make Christianity a positive set of beliefs but with limited effect. The main reason for this inability to progress is an unwillingness to reassess the core seeds of pessimism deeply entangled in doctrines.

Protestant fire-insurance and Catholic purgatory may be out of fashion, but their roots are still in Christian doctrine, and they still craft the lens of our world view. Yes, Christians seek the truth, the light but through what lens do they find it? We may yet have a generation of Christians who are brave enough to weed out the seeds of this negativity that corrupts their pursuit of truth. We have not yet, but we may yet. It takes individuals who care enough to find their own ford in the river, to question what they hold dear, and to risk the ugly stares of those who do not try to understand.

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