Solzhenitsyn—are there Evildoers?

solzhenitsyn_time_1974

As the act of an evildoer? What sort of behavior is it? Do such people really exist? We would prefer to say that such people cannot exist, that there aren’t any. It is permissible to portray evildoers in a story for children, so as to keep the picture simple. But when the great world literature of the past—Shakespeare, Schiller, Dickens—inflates and inflates images of evildoers of the blackest shades, it seems somewhat farcical and clumsy to our contemporary perception. The trouble lies in the way these classic evildoers are pictured. They recognize themselves as evildoers, and they know their souls are black. And they reason: “I cannot live unless I do evil. So I’ll set my father against my brother! I’ll drink the victim’s sufferings until I’m drunk with them!” lago very precisely identifies his purposes and his motives as being black and born of hate.

But no; that’s not the way it is! To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.

Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble—and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even lago was a little lamb too. The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.

Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.

Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed. How, then, do we dare insist that evildoers do not exist? And who was it that destroyed these millions? Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.

THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Bono on Jesus, Karma v. Grace

bono

(Excerpt from the book Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas)

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched

Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:

Bono: If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

Excerpt of an interview in the blog The  Poached Egg read in  Bono on Jesus...

(Excerpt from the book Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas)

1st Centuary “Christ Hymn” of Colossians 1:15-20 translated by F.F. Bruce

Link to F.F.Bruce’s article  The “Christ Hymn”of Colossians 1:15-20

The First Strophe (1:15-16)

F.F. Bruce 1910-1990

F.F. Bruce 1910-1990

He who is the image of the invisible God,
Firstborn before all creation,
because in Him all things were created —
things in heaven and things on earth,
things visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions,
whether principalities or powers —
they have all been created through Him and for Him

The Transitional Link (1:17-18a)

He indeed is before all things,
and they all cohere in Him;
He is also the head of the body, the church

The Second Strophe (1:18b-20)

He is the beginning,
Firstborn from the dead,
that He might be preeminent in all things,
because in Him it was decreed that all the fullness should
take up residence
and that through Him, [God] should reconcile all things
to Himself,
having made peace through the blood of His cross — [through
Him], whether those on earth or those in heaven

(F.F. Bruce’s translation).

Miriam Webster’s Definition of STROPHE

1—a : a rhythmic system composed of two or more lines repeated as a unit; especially : such a unit recurring in a series of strophic units
b : stanza
2—a : the movement of the classical Greek chorus while turning from one side to the other of the orchestra
b : the part of a Greek choral ode sung during the strophe of the dance

The Christ Hymn, Colossians 1:15-20

Defined Faith

The Colossians Christ Hymn is one of the most important passages in the letter to the Colossians and relates Christ to his identity in God, in creation and in the church universal. It lies in the first chapter of the book and reads as follows:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
Whether thrones or dominions
Or rulers or authorities—
All things were created through him and for him.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body, the church.

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
That in everything he might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
And through him to reconcile to himself all things,
Making peace by the blood of his cross,
Whether on earth or in…

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