Bad-tempered pope

What’s the pope furious about?

[The pope] has reiterated the existence of Hell and condemned society for not talking about eternal damnation enough. A furious Pope Benedict unleashed a bitter attack during a sermon while on a visit to a parish church and said: “Hell exists and there is eternal punishment for those who sin and do not repent. The problem today is society does not talk about Hell. It’s as if it did not exist, but it does.”

He’s furious because today society does not talk about Hell? That makes him furious? Really? Well what a horrible sadistic cruel wicked little man then. (Little morally, mentally, ethically, cognitively. I don’t know whether he’s little physically or not, and I don’t care.) What a very nasty piece of work – wanting everyone to be more terrified of eternal punishment; thinking the fading away of that foul idea is a bad thing. I’ll tell you what: his being furious about that makes me furious. I’ll tell you why: because this is no joke: people who believe it really do suffer torments of fear, for themselves or for other people. The good ones do – the nasty ones, like the pontiff, relish the thought.

And another thing. How does he know? Whence comes this ‘Hell exists’? Where does he get this ‘It’s as if it did not exist, but it does’? How does he know it does? What’s his evidence? Why should anyone believe him?

Pope Benedict unleashed his fury during a visit to the tiny parish church of St Felicity and the Martyr Children…Using the Gospel reading of John where Jesus saves the adulterous woman from death by stoning by saying “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”, Pope Benedict said: “This reading shows us that Christ wants to save souls. He is saying that He wants us in Paradise with Him but He is saying that those who close their hearts to Him will be condemned to eternal damnation.

So, in the pope’s view, Jesus is saying love me and you get to join me in Paradise, but if you refuse to love me, you’re condemned to eternal damnation and eternal punishment. Well that’s an interesting idea. The first thought that occurs to me is how difficult it is to love someone like that, which means that the whole deal is a trap – a double bind – a lose-lose bet. ‘Love me or I’ll tear you to bits slowly.’ That doesn’t work, you know. Really – it doesn’t; it backfires. I’ll explain. It’s the ‘I’ll tear you to bits slowly’ part – it puts people off. However well-intentioned they may be, however willing to comply, those six words simply make it impossible. My advice would be to stop with the ‘Love me’ bit – wait and see what happens. There’s always plenty of time to come in with the threats. But to include the threats right in the same sentence where you command love – that’s bad planning. Is that still not clear? I’ll explain more carefully. We can’t love people who promise to torture us for not obeying them. (Yes yes, unless we’re masochists; never mind that.) We can’t even admire or respect them; we can’t even be neutral. No – we develop an instantaneous low opinion of them; very low indeed.

It’s also odd given that Christians set so much store by free will. What kind of free will is that arrangement? Either love this guy on command, or be tortured forever. There’s no freedom about it, not in any direction, neither if you say yes nor if you say no; not even if you do nothing but just stare aghast like a rabbit in the headlights.

What a very nasty piece of work.

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