Wednesday, July 17, 2013

efforts and outcomes

written on a tablet. no apologies for type-os.

I have thought and read a great deal about theodicy over the years. That is the study of evil, not usually evil in the abstract Manichaean, metaphysical sense, but in the why do bad things happen to good people sense. it was this interest that compelled me to write my doctoral thesis on the Book of Job, for instance. it's fodder for melancholics, such as your's truly.

Christianity is the ultimate theodicy-religion - Buddhism too, for that matter - but whereas the latter offers no solution to the problem of evil, metanymius Christianity does. The former tells us that evil is real and a tragedy of human invention, which requires God's resolution. And God solves it in a very unexpected manner - through divine incarnation and vicarious atonement.

Anyway, I am just reflecting that for as much as we would maintain that God works all things for the good of those He is saving, still, life is pretty crappy sometimes. ( I don't know if it's wholly moral to be happy, in light of the compassion to which all Christians are called. who cannot but feel guilty in light of the exceeding joys he is given to enjoy? But it is not better to ignore them than it is to over-indulge).

I am reflecting on the failed promises of my civilization. It is our highest calling to pursue wisdom, and this value is ostensibly endorsed by all our institutions, but it is exceedingly difficult, especially given our enormous wealth, to do this great thing. I feel like a member of that very small circle gathered around Socrates in his last hour as depicted in the Phaedo, whom Socrates counsels to continue to pursue wisdom. Limitless money is poured into music, entertainment, violence, sport, etc., and yet how many times has there been assembled a group to actually listen to a Socrates? I have been a devoted student of wisdom for more than twenty years - yes, I started to read philosophy at 15. I have  amassed a huge indemnity to the government while working toward this goal. (society loves wisdom enough to lend me money to study at about a 7% rate of interest, which is an overall sad statement.) Here I am passionately devoted to knowledge, having read thousands of books, writing now things left, right and centre, and yet jobless, without prospect, contemplating any number of practical solutions, none of which actually involve courting lady wisdom.

I am not too weak to dig ditches, nor too ashamed to beg, but it is a sad thing that I have had to do so during this courtship, and may have to for the rest of my life.

Back to theodicy - where does God fit into this disappointment?

He has cared enough to vex me.