Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ode to the Unimpressed

Someone asked if Christianity and misanthropy are compatible. And here is a part of the answer to the question: Biblical morality does not categorically proscribe a hatred of humanity in general--that is, it does not proscribe absolutely every form of hatred of human beings, and the rightness of any hatred of human beings is therefore contingent upon the particular nature of that hatred.

I point backward to my time as a substitute teacher. One day at a junior high that I was working at, one particular student had strongly disrespected authority (in the person of me myself), and the guy therefore disgusted the living daylights out of me--couldn't stand the thought of him. Thing is, after the period was over and a new class of students came into the classroom I had completely forgotten about this student. But later in the day a memory of him jumped into my head for some reason; I couldn't stand the thought of him at that moment--a completely repugnant, repulsive, unlikable thought as was the person. Well, that's hatred by (one) definition. But you don't want to say that one's being repulsed by someone is necessarily evil or wrong. Therefore, hatred of human beings is not absolutely wrong.

On the other hand, anything falling under the rubric of "hatred" apart from this is probably bad in every instance. For it seems that there is a more malignant form of hatred that exists, one which is wedded with malice and unforgiveness or which comes from what is more-or-less a conscious decision to hate the person; this is something which does not seem permissible.

Meanwhile, "misanthropy" may also be used to denote a dislike or distrust of human beings. If you accept that use of the word, then misanthropy certainly is not categorically incompatible with Christianity or biblical morality. If you don't like people, you don't like them--nothing in the Bible to condemn that sort of thing. And if you don't trust people in general, good for you; for the Bible itself paints a dreary picture of post-Edenic man with his inclination toward sin and rebellion and his tendency to do things that are variably rash and dumb. In fact, if you are a Christian misanthrope in a weak sense of the word "misanthropy," then good for you. A Christian misanthrope is one of the most realistic persons one can encounter on this planet, and his viewpoints are tainted by neither optimism or pessimism.

Of course, because such a person is realistic he remembers that man is made in God's image and is to be respected on that basis. For one of life's great paradoxes is that despite the fact that, yes, there are low-lifes and human scum out there, these people are still human beings and man is still made in the image of its Creator, a creator who sends rain and causes the sun to shine on the righteous and unrighteous.

Fin. Now then, what say the Brights about this matter?


D.B. said...

Interesting thoughts, Kwame. I wish I could give a few more thoughts, but I have been sick and my head has been pounding.

I wonder if the initial thoughts you had on the repulsives thoughts toward the kid in your class is similar to how God feels about the sin in our own lives.

I think we like to view our God as forgiveable in light of our sins, but He really can't stand it...

Definately a paradox in how we are to view others in our "world"- a more fleshed out version of hate the sin, love the sinner, perhaps?

Perhaps not what you were going for, but that's what I gleaned from it anyway. :-) Sorry if I completely misrepresented your view. Blame it on the Alka Seltzer. :-)

Kwame E. said...

Oh. Well, you know that Zicam is now accused of robbing people of their sense of smell, right? Ya really have to watch what medicines you're taking nowadays. I prefer zinc lozenges for early colds and milk for stomach acid myself.

D.B. said...

The zinc does not taste very nice. I am more for swallowing Alka Seltzer quickly and leaving it at that. :-)