Saturday, February 28, 2009

No Hating Allowed!

Our society sees hate as an undesirable thing. As early as Kindergarten and preschool, we are taught not to hate; some legislators even want to pass laws prohibiting what they call "hate speech" in public settings.

But how did our culture obtain this dislike for hate? Why do we have this aversion to hatred?

Our civilization has been greatly influenced by the New Testament, one of the most widely-read documents on the plant. A little analysis of this text is illuminating: the Greek words which underlie the English translation into words like hate, hated, hating, and hates occur between 11 and 38 times in the entire text. If we classify these occurrences, we find situations of people hating each other, people hating God, people hating things, people accusing others of hating them, and a few other circumstances. The one case which we do not find is God hating any person. According to the New Testament, God hates some things, but He never hates a human being.

God hates, for example, violence, stealing, lying, and other such things; but He doesn't hate any man, woman, or child. Although He hates violence, He doesn't even hate the person who commits it.

This extreme tendency to avoid hatred is the source for our culture's antipathy to hatred.

It also sets our community, whether you call it Western Civilization or European Culture, apart from other nations, in which hatred is allowed, encouraged, and even required of its population. Given our society's efforts to get rid of hatred, it is difficult to understand that in other parts of the world, leaders teach and encourage hatred.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rousseau's Religion

Hobbes, Bossuet, and Locke all embraced some form of the Christian belief system (either Anglicanism or Roman Catholicism). While Rousseau affirmed the necessity of religion, he repudiated the doctrine of original sen, which plays so large a part in all different versions of Christianity (in Émile, Rousseau writes "there is no original perversity in the human hear"). His endorsement of religious toleration would be ironic, had he not meant it seriously: he claims to be tolerant, but in the same chapter of the Social Contract demands that anyone who doesn't agree with his idea of a "civil religion" be put to death! His assertion that true followers of Jesus would not make good citizens was based on his claim that Christian soldiers wouldn't fight as savagely as pagan soldiers.

Rousseau's political critique of Christianity was twofold: first, that it divided religion from the government; second, that Christianity asserts that no ordinary human is perfect. Rousseau, on the other hand, believed that religion had to be united and intertwined with the government, and that human beings are born perfect: and that human beings and human society can be perfected and kept perfect if only we will follow his guidelines!