Saturday, February 11, 2012

Strolling On Augustine, Patron Saint Of Guilt And "Just War"

It is true, then, and in no way false, that the devil's power is exorcised in infants, and that they renounce him by the hearts and mouths of those who bring them to baptism, being unable to do so by their own; in order that they may be delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of their Lord. What is that, therefore, within them which keeps them in the power of the devil until they are delivered from it by Christ's sacrament of baptism? What is it, I ask, but sin?

While strolling around Lake Merced, I can never help but be touched by beauty and innocence: nothing is sinful, because it is not capable of sin. The heron I spied last night in the bushes was not sinful. But perhaps he had read the writings of Augustine of Hippo and flew off because he thought that I was sinful. Because, Augustine was the creator of the concept of Original Sin - at least as we know it.

One of the basic tenets of today's Christianity is that all of humanity needs to be saved from sin. And most sects and denominations insist that we are all BORN in sin and therefore are prone to evil almost immediately. The more strident actually believe that man is literally born condemned.

And it was Augustine who put this concept into their heads. He was, in a sense, the creator of the greatest guilt complex ever: we're all sinners, we're all despicable, Christ hung on a cross and agonizingly died for our measly souls.


And with the guilt came the arrogance of the righteous - who reminded you that you were a filthy sinner. The Robert Jeffresses, the Lou Engles of our times are pummeling humanity with a sense of guilt. Their power is based upon on guilt. They take advantage of any and all feelings of guilt. It's the only way they can make conversions.


And Augustine didn't stop at inflicting a massive guilt complex upon Christians and would-be Christians everywhere: he also came up with the concept of "just war" in order to help assuage the guilt. Until Augustine, Christians were so pacific as to be unrecognizable to today's modern Christians: they were not allowed to participate in warfare of any kind - not even defensive warfare. But Augustine changed all that when he insisted that some wars could be just - if they were in defense of the innocent. Unfortunately, Augustine knew human nature all too well, and could foresee that the concept of just war would be taken to it's obvious conclusion: war justified for any reason. He didn't stop the righteously arrogant from creating such war.

It's almost impossible to fathom that one man could cause so much guilt, misery, righteous arrogance and destruction.

But he did. In the name of God.

I don't think I can forgive Augustine.