26 August 2009

Something that should be remembered

The theologian Tertullian said that one of the pleasures afforded to the saved in Heaven is being able to watch the torments of the damned in Hell.

I don't believe in such things, but if I did, I'd be imagining that, right about now, Mary Jo Kopechne is getting her popcorn ready.


Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Well...if there was such a place...there is also an old saying that it is better to reign in Hell,than to serve in Heaven. My choice either way would have to be Hell.

26 August, 2009 06:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can be wicked, Infidel! My my... ;)

26 August, 2009 10:03  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I try.....:-)

26 August, 2009 11:33  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It's been disappointing, to say the least, to see how many bloggers and other writers have tried to downplay Chappaquiddick in their assessments of Kennedy. It's a compromising of principles in order to whitewash a beloved personality -- in a word, hypocrisy, not unlike what the rightists do when they downplay their leaders' endless sex scandals.

Except that sex scandals are really rather trivial in most cases; no one would care about them much if those same Republican leaders hadn't based their ideological identity on preaching sexual purity at others.

Chappaquiddick was not some trivial sex scandal. A person died because of Kennedy's actions and inactions. Did he go on to do a lot of good later in his life? Of course. Can all of that outweigh what he did, and failed to do, at Chappaquiddick? Never.

Fortunately, Google search trends suggest that the public has a more balanced view of things (I ignore Rosin's snark about "tabloid selves").

27 August, 2009 07:48  
Blogger Daniel Wilcox said...

Tertullian's claim is the sort of reprehensible claim that led me finally to totally reject the Christian religion.

Here, again, strangely, we have ethics being decided by politics. I remember all the Christians condemning the Kennedy brothers and all Democrats,
defending Republican Christians who were also guilty of immoral actions, (though I don't know that any of them led to the death of a young woman).

22 November, 2017 15:57  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I assume Tertullian was a sadist. It's hard to imagine anyone but a sadist being able to believe in Hell and a "just God" at the same time.

This post was perhaps more unseriously written than the topic deserves, but my point was that some actions really are bad enough to make a person irredeemable, and this is an example of one which qualifies.

I was not aware that you had "totally rejected the Christian religion". From your blog I had the impression that you still self-identified as Christian, which is why I described you as such here. If that's incorrect, I apologize.

22 November, 2017 20:05  
Anonymous PsiCop said...

Pardon this second late comment due to your "obituaries" post.

What a coincidence! I just commented on the assassination of Hypatia, and included its backstory revolving around Cyril of Alexandria, about whom I'd composed a blog post, owing to his career being such a sterling example of Christian conduct at its finest. Now, you open this with mention of Tertullian ... about whom I wrote a similar blog post, explaining what makes him an "ideal" Christian and the wonderful legacy he left behind.

Would that more Christians these days were familiar with Tertullian's writings, too. FYI I quoted the passage in his writings you referred to, in that post ... in case anyone wants to read it in context.

03 September, 2018 18:15  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

The Montanism example illustrates how sectarian disputes within Abrahamic religions usually end up being settled by force in the end. Maybe that's why they wind up so authoritarian -- the most authoritarian sects are best organized for crushing their competitors, so they're the ones that survive and end up becoming the "orthodoxy".

Tertullian would fit in well with those Christians today who relish the thought of unbelievers who ignore them being punished for eternity. Oddly enough, I don't feel the same way about them -- I just want them stripped of their power to hassle everyone else.

05 September, 2018 03:54  
Anonymous PsiCop said...

There's no doubt Tertullian was depraved and savage. If he'd had a military career (theoretically that was possible, since tradition says his father had been a centurion), I have no doubt he'd have happily participated in the bloodbath which was the Year of Five Emperors. He was also obsessively puritanical. But "authoritarian" is a label which I think is anachronistic when applied to any Christian prior to the Edict of Milan. Christianity wasn't as "underground" a religion as many think it was, in the Carthage region, but still, it was not officially recognized. Any Roman of the period who was truly "authoritarian" wouldn't have wanted to be Christian in the first place. Christians were, virtually by definition, non-conformists.

Of course, "authoritarianism" can be relative, and contained inside the Christian movement. In that regard, Tertullian and other heresy-hunters like Irenaeus could be called "authoritarian." But that only extended just so far, inside the boundaries of Christendom, and could only reach as far as as other Christians were willing to listen.

As for Montanism (which back in the day was called "the New Prophecy"), for the most part it was the very opposite of an "authoritarian" form of Christianity. Its main trope that set it apart from the rest of the movement was that the Holy Spirit had become active again (in a manner similar to the first Pentecost) and was capable of speaking through any believer at all. Man, woman, high-born or low, Greek, African, Iberian, it didn't matter ... all Christians could be, and arguably were, "prophets." That notion alone threw a wrench into the works of the nascent Church hierarchy (which hadn't even settled into existence by then). Any Montanist Christian could, at any time, erupt in "prophecy" and make virtually any declaration at all.

Montanism also was kind of an ascetic form of Christianity. Montanists didn't get married, and any married people who converted to the movement, often became celibate. (This may well have happened with Tertullian, based on what he wrote to his wife.)

One more thing that might appear surprising: In some places, which likely includes Carthage, Montanism overlapped with the more conventional Christianity (if one can even say there was a "conventional" Christianity at the end of the 2nd century and start of the 3rd). Some congregations had a mix of Montanist and non-Montanist members. In a lot of cases this was not seen as problematic. It's very likely Tertullian became a Montanist while still part of his usual congregation ... and there's no reason to assume he was the only one. Tertullian also wrote a lot of his work, including the landmark tome Adversus Marcionem, after he became a Montanist. And in spite of his being part of this movement, his works were still respected and transmitted far and wide within Christendom.... [Cont'd in next comment]

05 September, 2018 21:03  
Anonymous PsiCop said...

[Cont'd from prior comment] Pardon my rambling, but I don't think Tertullian was all that "authoritarian." No, I think with him it was personal. He had a puritanical tendency, and Montanism appealed to him for that reason. For example, he thought not only divorce was forbidden, but that widows/widowers shouldn't be allowed to remarry, either. He also hungered for power and influence, but for some reason didn't seem to get enough of it as a "conventional" Christian. He probably saw a chance to have more influence and control within the community of Christians in "the New Prophecy."

Keep in mind: If he'd wanted to promote a doctrinaire, strict, hierarchical form of the religion, "the New Prophecy" surely was not it! There were other Christian thinkers who'd been engaged in such campaigns (e.g. the aforementioned Irenaeus), and other far-stricter versions of the religion, but what he did was quite different.

No, he picked a version of Christianity to promote, and try to control, which fed his puritanical nature and vast ego. He later picked a fight with another version (i.e. Marcionism) that fed his ego to fight — which was another version of Christianity which also happened to overlap the rest of the Church within the Carthage district, and which didn't have a profound ascetic nature.

Again, pardon the length of this. Early Christianity's history is a complex subject, and it lived in a world that's now alien to us. Understanding it is not a simple process, so brevity isn't in order.

05 September, 2018 21:04  

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