An awful metaphor
So, this is the post I mentioned on the Blasphemy Day one. I was bouncing around TVTropes, as I sometimes do, and I found myself following a link to Fundies Say The Darndest Things. Now I generally avoid FSTDT, since it’s more likely to fill me with anger and despair than anything else. In fact I really should have learned by now, I’m far better off with sites like Raising My Rainbow since reading that tends to make me smile.
Pretty obvious now that I think about it. Stories of a gender nonconforming child with a loving family determined to let him be who he wants to be: Good. Collection of the worst quotes made by people who appear to be a danger to themselves and others, many of whom seem to have untreated mental illnesses, which is usually treated as a freakshow for people to laugh at: Bad. And yet I just couldn’t stop myself from clicking the link.
So, here’s the quote that started this post. It’s from 2006, hardly breaking news. As I thought about it, I realized that I had to write about it, and then as my mind branched off into different tracks I decided to do the Blasphemy Day post first. I will reproduce it here below the fold.
All men are judged since birth.
Atheists and unbelievers reject the pardon of the judgment, that is in Christ.
I will try a parallel story:
It is as if you are on death row.
The son of the warden states “I will be judged in your stead, not only yours but for the rest that is on death row.”
The warden finds that is acceptable in the law.
They kill his son in your place.
Some on death row will claim what the son did, and be saved from judgement..
They will say I believe that judgment upon the warden son, and have peace with the warden.
Atheists look at that the work that wardens son did and reject it.
Atheists say that is not a bright thing to believe on his son.
Atheists say they are not even in prison.
And there is no warden.
Why do we need to claim any thing about his son.
So they focus on a system of being good, and keeping the jail house tidy.
When judgment day comes, you will find the warden is not only unimpressed with your good tidy record.
But he is is a tad upset that you rejected the sacrifice his son personally did for you.
The judgment will be carried out, with a firery wrath;
It will serve as a example to the glorify the mercy of the warden, and a example of what occurs to those who reject his mercy.
Where do you start? I’ll admit my first thought was rather trite, “Wardens don’t have that authority.” But ignoring the superficial errors, look at the justice, or lack thereof, of this scenario.
I mean, it’s patently absurd to treat one person as a sort of whipping boy for others and say “well, now that this random bystander’s been executed, you’ve paid your debt to society and are free to go”. That’s not justice, nor is it mercy. Mercy wouldn’t demand blood, and justice would care whose blood.
There’s also the clear dissonance at the end, where rejecting the “mercy” of the warden results in “firery wrath”. Mercy refused does not provoke wrath, that’s not how mercy works. That sort of “You should be grateful, or else” attitude is common in abusive relationships of all kinds, though.
But it’s worse than that, because in this analogy we start out on death row. We committed no crime to be sentenced to this, we were born there. We were sentenced before birth, without legal defense or counsel. Victims of an arbitrary system that punishes us for the crimes of distant ancestors, now long dead.
We have never met this warden or his son, we hear conflicting stories about them all the time, and while the rumors say that some are executed and some pardoned at the warden’s whim, everyone who leaves goes through the same door, never to be heard from again.
But I think the part that gets me the most is that Takkrill sees this as an appropriate parallel. Life is like a prison sentence, and who you are and what you do isn’t as important as who you suck up to. Thank the tyrant for killing someone else in your place, and you go free, otherwise you’ll be sorry.
I can’t quite get my mind into a place where this makes sense, but when I try to imagine the kind of life that might lead someone to think this, I just want to sit in a corner and cry.
There are something like 40,000 different Christian religions, and they have a wide range of different specific dogmas. Also, I know that the loudest, the ones I hear from the most, tend to be the most repressive and blinkered, those who are not only in denial of reality but also actively working to spread their dogma into schools and government. So my perspective is probably a little skewed, I’m aware of that. But this image, where we’re totally at the mercy of an invisible tyrant who cares nothing for justice and meets disobedience with terrible cruelty seems very common.
The idea that we are somehow tainted, that we start out bad and need some outside assistance to be good, seems so horrible to me. Especially when “eternal damnation” is in play. Think about it, this is saying that we are so awful that we deserve to be tortured forever, without mercy or reprieve, simply for existing.
Or perhaps because Adam & Eve ate the forbidden fruit. But that’s a problem, you see, because we now know that the Garden of Eden was never anything more than a story, it didn’t actually happen. The various Christian faiths haven’t really settled on a way to deal with that, yet. Some of them are adapting, calling the story allegorical, for instance. Others are doubling down on ignorance, pushing creationism and fighting against science and education, either not noticing or not caring that in effect they’re working towards a new dark age.
I really hope that second type fails.
So yeah. I suppose compared to Takkrill I’m lucky, because while I do sometimes feel hopeless and trapped by the circumstances of my life, I don’t think it would ever have crossed my mind to represent life as a prison. I hope in the six and a half years since that post Takkrill has had a better life than one comparable to a prison run by an unseen madman.