Those of you looking for an enjoyable light novel need look no further than Spice and Wolf by Isuna Hasekura. The translation put out by Yen Press reads quite easily and still manages to have a lot of character. In particular, one of anime’s most beloved characters, Holo, can be read in all her sly wisdom, cunning repartee, archaic usage, culinary enthusiasm, and love of liquor. Besides Holo, the other characters, especially the protagonist, feel compelling. I cannot but love how the medieval setting reminds one of the Baltic Crusades and how Hasekura attempts to create a merchant hero who adheres to the code of contract law. (Very interesting and unusual.) Also, the novels cover more adventures than the anime ever will.
However much fun these novels are, they never fail to needle me a little. The tales are written from an atheist’s perspective, which varies from disdain to curiosity in regards to monotheism as practiced by the Church. This Church is reminiscent of the medieval Catholic Church, but their theologies don’t square perfectly. One of my favorite pot shots has to be Holo’s “The universe is too big for it to have been created by a single god.” How limiting the word kami must be on the Japanese theological imagination!
But, the present pot shot in question has to do with the idea of God looking down on us maliciously. Quid stultum! There is no malice in God! God possesses a supreme goodwill towards His creatures, which may easily be perceived by the fact that man, the most God-like thing in creation, finds his greatest joys in love: loving family, friends, country, other people, and God. Do you think a malicious God would create beings who find their greatest happiness and joy in loving and serving others? No! How easy it is to perceive that God loves us and is Love Himself by looking at our nature and the world God created! No doubt, Mr. Hasekura would be surprised to know that God loves how Hasekura exercises his talent more than Hasekura’s thousands of fans across the world!
“But, does not God punish us for our sins? Is He not wrathful because of our transgressions? Might not this be called malice?” Does a father’s anger toward his children bear the stamp of malice or goodwill? The father’s anger bears the stamp of goodwill because he wishes for the bad behavior of his children to be replaced with good behavior. He does not want vicious children but virtuous ones. God our Father truly treats us as a good father does his children. A father is more willing to scold his children than strike them. It is only the child who shows no proof of repentance who needs to fear the rod. We are scolded when our sins drive us to prayer, Scripture, or other works of repentance. We are struck when we refuse to be scolded and run away from God. But, God shows no malice in striking us, but His goodwill.
After all, how often do our evil habits tend toward a worse sin? A million venial sins may not add up to a mortal sin, but habitual venial sin has often brought people to grave sin when left unchecked. Suppose we suffer an embarrassment, affliction, or physical harm through God’s will because of our vices. These occasions often serve for us as a reminder to pursue virtue and abandon vice.
My main point is that even that quality of God which is most likely to be misunderstood as malice, God’s anger, actually proceeds from a good will. We do things which make us love ourselves, others, and God less. God is good enough to strike us with the rod when we give no head to the lead of His staff. But, perhaps we should see precious little of God’s wrath if we were simply more ready to be taught–whether by the Bible, holy inspirations, philosophy, or good examples–or sought His mercy and presence more sincerely in confession or the Eucharist. Perhaps then, we might escape all punishment, just as good and wise children who accuse themselves to their parents whenever they commit a fault often do!
Reblogged this on Contemplans Profundes and commented:
An excellent post by Medieval Otaku on how Spice and Wolf misunderstands the true Justice of God.
Thanks for reblogging this! I’m glad that you enjoyed the article.
Truth be told, Holo probably sees the Church for what it is – a bunch of people out to get her for completely irrational reasons. What those people do is considered Christianity-in-practice – no wonder she doesn’t think much of the religion, either,
Arguing for a perfect ideal hidden behind the skewed interpretations put into practice is something a believer does. Were Holo to find a deeper truth about the world, she would be unlikely to label it “God/Christianity”, since she holds no attachment to those terms and what they actually represent in her world.
Now hold on here – let me understand you properly: are you saying that if a religious person behaves badly then God is at fault but if a non-believer does the same then it’s not God but themselves? Or are you saying that Holo’s perception of God is flawed by her example of religion? That, sadly, is all too common…
Or is your point that the ideals of the Church aren’t perfect because they are never put into practice? You may be missing the subtler meanings of the word “perfection” if you don’t see it as something to be striven for but not attained… Or shall we allow that the word “perfection” is now as flawed as the word “literally” in common use and is therefore attainable in the everyday life of a person?
Oh no! God can never be at fault, because God–perfect goodness, justice, mercy, and love–is above wrong-doing. Or rather, that wrong-doing has no place in God. If a religious person behaves badly, then they are not listening to God and merit punishment–actually more than the non-religious person who knows less or nothing about God. But, the religious person will confess his crimes to God and strive after repentance, by which in practice the religious person is punished less than the non-religious person despite the fact that the non-religious person’s particular sins are often less culpable. Though God’s mercy saves sinners, God’s mercy must be sought by those who know of it!
Church corruption and the Church’s persecution has flawed Holo’s perception of God, but the main reason Holo’s perception of God is flawed is because she has not sought Him. After all, Holo’s life extends to far before the time the Church came into it! If she had sought Him through pondering creation or other means of seeking wisdom, she would have a better perception of God. I am reminded of Alexandre Dumas’s remark on Milady’s swearing while kept imprisoned in the novel The Three Musketeers: “She blasphemed the God she never tried to know.” Though, the remark about “looking down with malicious intent” was actually thought by Croft Lawrence, and I think that it reflects the author’s view on the subject of God’s justice. My article was trying to show that God is more angry because of our impenitence than because of our sins themselves and by means of His anger tries to move us to repentance. After turning back to God, He immediately meets us with mercy: “His anger lasts but a moment, but His favor for a lifetime.”
We can surmise from medieval’s quotes in the article that Holo doesn’t believe in God. This means she will not judge God in any way – He doesn’t exist to her so there would be no point at all in doing that.
Further still, she will not refer to God and/or Christian beliefs when judging the Church and its followers. She will look at their actions and judge them according to her own moral code. Since from her perspective, those actions mostly include trying to kill her for no reason, it makes sense for her to judge the Church as a bunch of crazed maniacs.
Imagine leaving your house in the morning only to have a guy leap at you, knife in hand and screaming “Die you demon! Glory to Shiva!”. I can’t imagine you would care to research the guy’s religion and analyze whether his desire for your death for the glory of Shiva makes sense. Even if you do feel like doing the research, you must first get away or the guy will stab you to death!
So my point is that while you can disagree with what Horo is thinking, her thought process is perfectly understandable considering what she knows of the Church/Christianity. And yes, you could also phrase that as her perception of God being flawed by her example of religion.
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That’s pretty much the view one would expect Holo to have on the Church. Her only fault might simply be allowing herself to be worshipped, but she does not ever seem to have been attached to her cult. It’s interesting to read C. S. Lewis’ The Discarded Image and to apply the medieval understanding of the “longaevi” (nymphs, fairies, sprites, etc.) to Holo. The Church of the world of Spice and Wolf seems only to have taken the fourth view: that the longaevi are all demons. But, this view was more popular later in the medieval period and through the Renaissance, “…which is closely connected to the Renaissance phobia about witches” and “goes far to explain the degradation of the Fairies from their medieval vitality into the kickshaws of Drayton and William Browne” (138). It will be interesting to see if some Churchmen ever appear who have a more positive and accurate view of Holo: “…a third rational species distinct from angels and men” (134). After all, most medievals conceived every part of creation as being jam-packed with a variety creatures–all of them good, and Holo would fit within that understanding of the universe.
Should Holo develop a good set of metaphysics, it might not be Christian; but it would certainly have to include God. After all, God is the only term which we can call God non-equivocally and non-analogously. (I follow St. Thomas Aquinas here.) Over-Soul, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Lord, Great Spirit, etc. take a word which refers to something less than God and applies it to God by analogy. But, the word God only refers to God, not also to anything less than God. Unless you know of another word which does not also refer to a creature?
But, your comment reminds me of an interesting thing about paganism during the time of St. Augustine: philosophical pagans were either monotheists (Stoics, Peripatetics, Neo-Platonists) or atheists (Skeptics and Epicureans). Even the Church relied on terms and ideas from pagan philosophers to help explain Christian theology. I bring this up too show that there is a certain unity among people who believe in an underlying spiritual reality on the the point of God. The idea that there can be more than one god eventually became untenable in the Western philosophy, though knowing the exact nature of God also heavily relies on revelation. After all, how much about an infinite Being can we know unless He tells us about Himself?
I’m not sure what you’re trying to convey about the importance of the term God. The word “god” is an ordinary noun, pointing to many deities, most of which Christianity considers to be false. In English, thanks to the efforts of the Church, you can use the capital letter to imply you’re talking about the Christian god, but this distinction is not possible in German (all nouns start with a capital letter), Japanese (no capital letters at all) and the like, and it is not like English is the language of God or anything.
I’m guessing you might mean that any “good set of metaphysics” must include an Absolute, and however you label that Absolute, the term will end up being a synonym of the term God. This makes sense from a Christian point of view, but it is not like atheists (and other groups) don’t have their own metaphysics, and many of those do not include an assumption about the existence of any such being/concept/thing.
As for the final paragraph, I don’t really see any problems with there being multiple gods. The thing is, if you want God to be the final mystery, multiple gods probably won’t do the trick, since they almost necessarily imply there being something more (and likely greater than those very gods). A system like the three persons of the trinity is probably as close as you can get away with multiple gods. In this case, you could theoretically have as many “persons” (gods) as you want. Of course, the trinity doesn’t make sense under classical logic, so as an explanation it only works on faith.
You’re quite right in that I believe that God refers to the Absolute Being, Creator of the Universe, or Prime Mover, which a good set of metaphysics can’t do without. Otherwise, one makes matter eternal and reason derive ultimately from dead matter, both of which strike me as wrongheaded. I do know that matter itself is indestructible, but the forms which matter can be destroyed. How can something which is always undergoing change have always existed? Through such considerations, one must eventually come to the idea of Absolute Being, which the word God expresses exactly.
The original use of god in Germanic languages must have referred to various pagan gods, which were the highest beings imaginable in their worldview. However, with the advent of Christianity, one learns that the term god is misapplied to such beings. Even if they did exist, they can’t compare to Infinite Being, to Whom the word God is more appropriate. Therefore, we use the word god equivocally when speaking of pagan gods (unless in a fantasy setting, I suppose), but properly when referring to the True God. So, I think that Holo would have to stop using the word god to refer to things less than God if she came to realize that the universe had a Prime Mover who is Infinite Being, which is about as far as philosophy can take one.
But, concerning the above, I think that we mostly agree. Or, at least, so it seems.
Conversely, I’m not sure if the word kami was ever understood to refer to the highest beings in the world. I mean, Shintoists believe that every word has a kami associated with it! The Japanese need to say “o-kami-sama” in order for us to understand that they want to refer to the Lord, but, I’ve also seen them address gods of various shrines in this way–at least, in anime.
With the Trinity, I think that the concept is not illogical, but there is no way for anyone to discover the Trinity except by divine revelation. St. Thomas and others have used classical logic in addition to revelation to explain it, but as for ever truly being able to understand the Trinity–that smacks of impossibility. But, we are always trying to understand more thoroughly the things which we claim to know, right? 🙂 For example, I think there exists a suitable explanation of the Trinity with the Father as the principium, the Son as the Knowledge of the Father, and the Holy Spirit as the Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father. These relationships preclude the possibility of any other Persons in God and God still being a perfect unity. How to explain this rationally? That’s for a better mind than me!
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Yes, I think we agree on the basics. There are various possible metaphysical systems, but many of those are not particularly attractive.
Please don’t even bring up kami-sama -_-. Even the Japanese don’t know what they are referring to with that (try asking when you catch them red-handed). There is Iesu-sama for Christianity, Oshaka-sama for Buddhism, personal names for the various kami, and then there is kami-sama which can mean any of the above at any time -_-.
No, I don’t believe the word kami was ever really intended to point to an absolute being. The first kami myths explain the creation of Japan, not the world.
I would like to see the explanation of Trinity through classical logic you mention, since it seems to me extremely easy to show how the idea is contradictory
G = God, F = Father, C = Christ, S = Son
G = F AND G = C AND G = S AND F =/= C AND F =/= S AND C =/= S
IF G = F AND G = C
THEN C = G = F
IF C = G = F
THEN C = F
However, this contradicts one of the assumptions:
C = F AND F =/= C <= always false
Which is why Christian explanations of the concept are always quite lengthy and call upon "shades of meaning" and other murky terms. If you provide a clear-cut explanation, you'll always bump into the above.
Of course, useful though it is, classical logic is an abstract system not guaranteed to capture/explain all in the world. And there are other logics I know less about which might be able to explain the Christian idea.
I never knew that about kami-sama. I always felt that the Japanese had someone in mind when they said it.
You know, I had not thought about reasoning about the Trinity through using a syllogism, which is a cornerstone of classical logic. So, let me retract what I said about St. Thomas using classical logic to discuss the Trinity: he probably found Aristotle little help in elucidating this concept. This webpage summarizes what St. Thomas Aquinas thought on the subject: http://www.aquinasblog.com/16-trinity.html. Essentially, Aquinas relies upon the idea of relationships in God and the idea of consciousness entails.
In any event, I don’t suppose I’ll understand the Trinity any better on this side of eternity. 🙂
I’m sure the 10% or so of the Japanese who consider themselves religious have a good idea about what kami-sama means to them, but what about the other 90%? You don’t have to be Christian to say “jeez”, “goddammit”, or “God only knows…”, and I think the Japanese kami-sama might work that way, too.
Thanks for the link, I’ll look into it!
It’s a good link. It’s the best philosophical explanation of the Trinity which I’ve heard.
That’s rather true about swearing. I had a rather amusing experience the other day. I ran into a Japanese person who kept saying “Jesus!” at certain intervals. It felt somewhat forced. Then, the realization hit me that Americans are looked upon as having coarse speech. So, he was using a mild oath in order to try to fit in. xD
Swearwords often sound silly coming from a foreigner’s mouth. I had a German acquaintance who couldn’t speak a word of Polish, but of course vile swearwords were the first thing people taught him. Then he went around making everyone laugh with his light-hearted approach to and funny pronunciation of those normally taboo words.
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“G = God, F = Father, C = Christ, S = Son
G = F AND G = C AND G = S AND F =/= C AND F =/= S AND C =/= S
IF G = F AND G = C
THEN C = G = F
IF C = G = F
THEN C = F
However, this contradicts one of the assumptions:
C = F AND F =/= C <= always false"
Since G, F, C and S are all infinite it is as valid to multiply them as it is to add them (which is to say it's a viewpoint rather than a mathematical truth). It does give rise to the fact that any combination of them is equal to any other though which is kind of helpful. The argument then becomes: is G/F (or F/S, G/C etc) = 0, 1 or infinity? And what does that mean?
Despite what it might look like, the line of thought I presented is a syllogism and not a mathematical equation. I dare not perform any mathematical operations on God, lest the heavens smite me xD.
Yes, well, we wouldn’t want that would we? 😛 Nonetheless when the parts of the syllogism are infinite it doesn’t fail to balance. Interestingly if we arbitrarily but not unreasonably assign any member of humanity a value of 1 compared to God’s infinite being then G/(F*S) = 1 according to at least some mathematicians which gives you the situation where C = 1 (from G=F*C*S because adding and multiplying infinity is the same operation unless you are trying to use “countable infinities”) and also C = infinity which is what we maintain as Christians.
Or, to put it another way, maths cannot contain the mystery and entirety of God and why should it when it is a human construction? And I would say the same applies for logic, too.
Actually, Cyrtus does say the same thing when he replies to me: “Of course, useful though it is, classical logic is an abstract system not guaranteed to capture/explain all in the world. And there are other logics I know less about which might be able to explain the Christian idea.” But, he is right that one runs into problems when trying to express the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity though using syllogism. Essentially, if one tries to express the doctrine through syllogism one must come to one of two conclusions: 1) God cannot be Triune or 2) that each Person is a mode or expression of God rather than a distinct Person (Sabellianism). For example, a thinker who believed in the second would claim that God the Father also suffered on the Cross, not just God the Son. I think that both of these views are heresies.
But, I must reiterate that Cyrtus’s syllogism does show the problem with trying to express the Trinity according to Classical logic. The only error in it is that the three Persons are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The term Christ comes into play when we consider the Incarnation, when God the Son united human nature to His divine nature in His Person. Christ is fully human and fully God with neither nature effacing the other.
The best way to understand the Trinity is that God the Father is the foundation of the Trinity. God knows Himself fully. Since God is infinite, this self-knowledge must also be infinite, therefore also God–in this case, the Word of God or God the Son. God the Father infinitely loves the Son and the Son infinitely loves the Father, which infinite Love is also God–in this case, God the Holy Ghost. These three persons share the same essence or substance, hence each one is God. Since this infinite essence is one and the same for all three persons, they are the same God; but, since there exist three distinct relationships for all of three, there are three distinct Persons in God.
Try to wrap your mind around that! Even in Heaven, we won’t perfectly understand it through all eternity!
I wanted to have Father, Son, Spirit at first, but that would end up with two “S” words xD. Didn’t think about “ghost” ;).
Ach, I saw the problem myself! But with Ghost, one has two G’s, so you can’t win. You simply must use Latin in this case: Unus Deus et tres personae–Pater, Filius, and Spiritus Sanctus. 🙂
I have a slightly different thought process going into this one than the above.
“Do you think a malicious God would create beings who find their greatest happiness and joy in loving and serving others? No!”
The problem here is that love is a neutral quality. Utter sociopaths can fall in love with another person, regardless of whether or not they lack empathy. It actually happened to me, twice. People have killed, maimed, slaughtered, and destroyed more in the name of love or unrequited love (Of country, of religion, of a woman or man…) than they have in the name of any other thing. All of nature destroys in the name of love, or at least sex.
Heck, what SATAN ultimately is after is a form of non-romantic love with passion that actually surpasses the romantic sort (Which is part of why what he’s after is a convoluted logical fallacy he could only create by distancing us from God). I wouldn’t call the existence of our obsession with love proof of a just God. If anything, it’s proof that God IS Love…But not of whether love is itself good. (See drugs for why “feels good” and “actually is” are not synonymous). You must rely on Scriptural teaching for that one.
“God our Father truly treats us as a good father does his children. A father is more willing to scold his children than strike them.”
Ah, but even a good father of an unrepentant little monster wouldn’t solve the problem by setting his own kid on fire. Forever (Us). Or knowingly trap his kid in a pointless, endless cycle of hatred and guilt (The demons).
Your concern about love is why many languages have several words for the concept, depending on the type. E.g. the Greek eros/storge/philia/agape or the Japanese koi/ai. The erotic kind of love is universally seen as the lesser one, for the reasons you mention.
We have many words for love in english but we are so lazy in thought that we rarely use them at all, let alone correctly: Caring, adoration, lust (or any equivalent word for physical love that hasn’t been labelled as a sin, which lust would only be in the absence of any other accompanying flavour of love I think), cherishing (or is it cherishment?) and worship to name but a few…
People harp on about the Eskimo and their many words for snow but in English there are (I am told) over three hundred words meaning “mud” or “muddy”. Well, we do get a lot of rain here in Britain 🙂 but my point is that those words are so rarely used!
By the way – on a semi-related note – I was pointed to a web site that was a collection of photos of geographical features along with the (mainly obscure or archaic) words used to describe them. I can’t find the link but if anyone knows the site I would like to rediscover it.
One must remember that love is the fundamental emotion of the soul. The second thing to remember is that God created all things good; hence, love–as the fundamental emotion in a rational being–must be good too unless it becomes unnatural or perverted. When I combine “loving and serving others,” you must know that I speak of love united with a good will. Generally, when one refers to love perverted from its natural and reasonable state, we get things like lust, greed, envy, and other capital sins. Perverted love is not true love!
I can’t see the devil as a loving being. After all, he wanders about the earth seeking whom he can devour. He envied God His place at the top of the universe, and he envies the beatitude Our Lord won for humanity through His death on the cross. Satan wishes eternal misery for everyone and everything. That is not love but hate!
In the beginning of Dante’s Inferno, the gate of hell reads: “Sacred Justice moved my divine Architect./ I was raised here by divine omnipotence,/ Primal Love and Ultimate Intellect.” Love Himself created hell! It might seem more merciful to have not created hell, but who is more merciful than God? The only way for hell not to have existed would be for either every rational being to have chosen God or for God to have created no persons–beings who are able to know and love.
“When I combine “loving and serving others,” you must know that I speak of love united with a good will.”
I am aware, but many many people…many…have honest and heartfelt, passionate love that distorts and ruins the lives of everyone around them. Love can drive you to do things like slaughter people in the name of religion, torture a guy to get the location of your kidnapped daughter (A fictional but completely believable example), go to war out of honest and true love for your country…The list goes on forever.
And none of that love is cruel, or distorted, or perverse. I’m isolating it to just what you’d call the godly kind, and already we can account for more horror than I can fathom. Sometimes misery is caused not by sin, but by conflict inherent in the idea of giving special attention and benevolence (love) to a specific person.
If anything, what this proves is that ONLY by adhering to Christ’s commandment to literally be in love with “everyone” can love be a benign force in this world. Otherwise it divides more than it saves.
“Satan wishes eternal misery for everyone and everything. That is not love but hate!”
Ah, but what actually causes that envy? The desire to have something you do not possess. What Satan wanted was our admiration and worship (That which was owed to God) and devout followers of a deity can tell you what worship actually is: Obsessive, overwhelming love and gratitude and admiration. Fear, too, actually— Comes with loving something that far above you.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s even capable of loving anyone himself, but what he’s after is very definitely love. You’d call someone who seeks love without providing it a parasite or tyrant.
“Love Himself created hell! It might seem more merciful to have not created hell, but who is more merciful than God?”
And there’s the paradox inherent in the existence of a place like Hell. Purgatory, a place where people would burn away their sins so that they could enter the presence of God, IS actually a merciful place and makes a LOT more sense.
But, if love drives one to do wrong, one’s love is perverse or disordered. After all, God must be our first love, and we love God by following the moral law: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). To break the commandments of God in order to do what one thinks is best for other people falls in the category of pride. In certain cases, we are more lenient to people who break laws or rules for the sake of those they love because of the good end of their deeds–certain cases, mind you!
Among the examples you gave, to kill others simply because they do not believe in one’s religion can never be excused. After all, how can one claim to love God if one has no qualms about killing one’s fellow man? Self-defense is the only justification for killing.
The other two examples you give seem a bit ambiguous to me. Spies have no protection from being tortured, and certain classes of criminals are worse than spies. The case of the kidnapped daughter reminds me of the movie Dirty Harry. Was Dirty Harry right or wrong to get the location of the girl who was suffocating to death through torture? Did the murderer have a right to bodily comfort and medical treatment while his silence was killing another human being? I could not have acted differently from Dirty Harry except out of cowardice. If there were more uncertainties as to whether the perpetrator really knew where the girl was or if the threat to the girl were less than death, torture, or severe abuse, then torture could in no-wise be right. But, the answer does depend on circumstances.
In the case of serving one’s country by killing enemy combatants, may all people love their country so dearly! Though the taking of enemy life is painful and miserable, a nation can justly demand such service, and its citizens are just to follow their country’s commands. The only case where one would have problems would be if one’s country fought an unjust war–like in the case of the Axis countries in WWII. Even then, the citizens of these countries would still have the right to defend themselves against the attacks of the Allies, such as by manning AA guns against bombers.
However, your point that love, by singling out particular people for benevolence, can lead to misery among those who do not receive such benevolence is quite right. But, this is a problem of human and material limitations rather than the benefactors actually willing evil for the people whom they love less or cannot help.
Satan’s sin combines envy, pride, and perverse ingratitude. Is the self-love left even worth the name love after being so twisted? I suppose, but only on a very basic level which does not compare with what we usually signify by the word love.
Purgatory does make a lot more sense, and I think that more people go to purgatory than hell. The chief difference between the souls in hell and the souls in purgatory is that the holy souls had a good will at the moment of death: though guilty of sin, they repented of it and loved God. The damned neither repented of their crimes nor loved God. If there is an iota of repentance in a soul, God will save it! But, after receiving showers of grace and neither repenting for sins nor loving God, what more is to be done for the damned? In the case of the fallen angels, they knew God much more than even the greatest saint on Earth knows Him, but they refused to serve God, making their refusal more complete.
Anyway, I see no problems with hell, but perhaps I’m too hard-nosed on the subject? But, it is my faith in God’s mercy that makes me hard-nosed.
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Time in the Internet is a very strange thing. This is a discussion from five years ago, from when I was still a college student, but as I just discovered it today, I feel the urge to respond and add my two cents. I´ve always wondered if the Batman kind of torture, so to speak (to cause fear and pain without permanent consequences), is morally admissible. On the one hand, pain intended to break an evil will by making the guilty participate in the pain he causes to his victims is part of the rationale of both Criminal Law and punishment in general, which is both salutary and required for justice to be maintained. And a punishment can have other non-competing purposes aside of the main ones of self-defense and moral and social reform, such as prevention and disarticulation of existing criminal structures or, as in this case, stopping a threat.
On the other hand, it seems to me that there are some aspects of human integrity that cannot be even purposefully violated without becoming vile, not even in cases when even killing may be justifiable: most obviously the sexual or forcing another to sin, even if he has an erroneous conscience, and I would argue that purposely causing permanent damage to the psyche, and probably intentional mutilation and crippling fall into this category as well. Even leaving them aside, suffering must always rely in a measure, that of the crime. The intent to break someone by punishment cannot exceed that measure: it is ultimately up to him if he brokes or not.
Concerning hell for angels and humans, reading the Book of Malachi in the Bible I reached the conclusion that the thing is, the sun of justice and the everlasting fire are one and the same. Or, the problem is that for a human being or an angel rejecting God and love fundamentally and forever, in a way that trascends time, His loving presence, His triumph and His reign are in fact, when the masks and illusions are gone, physical and mental torture. When Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing they did was hide from God, as His presence was unbearable and they felt naked. He Himself gave them clothes. Sin, evil chosen from the inside, is the true death, so to see God while being a sinner, evil, would bring this deadly contradiction to the surface and mean hell to us: the Israelites knew that, that nobody on Earth can see the Lord and live.
Thus, Christ´s Incarnation and Sacrifice were necessary for us to be able to see God “face to face”. A number of the words of Our Lord in the Gospel, specially the Gospel of John, deal with the matter of seeing the Father through Him. He became a Man, redeemed us and came to the presence of the Father. Eternal glory in Heaven is described as the vision of God, or beatific vision. Through His Cross and Resurrection, we truly die, yet come to live by His love, and enter His glory. So the tragedy of those who are naked before the Glory without a place to hide , and thus suffer in mind and body (as in the parable of the Wedding), created for choosing love and eternally distorted by a free, unflinching and trascendent choice not to love, cannot be avoided. And nothing more can be done for them without negating truth and love, which God cannot do either. It is in the very nature of temporal realities to give pass in time to the eternal ones that give them meaning and that they point to. And just as the stories concerning the saint who has trascended time at a point will always convey his glory, were there stories about the damned, they would convey his misery. At infinite distance, I think that something slightly akin to that tends to happen with the greatest literary characters.
For me, the only question left is why not making them stop existing and return to nothingness at this point. While this is a mistery, I think it is worth considering that God sustains every existing being in existence by virtue of His love for that being. So on this point I cannot but think that, contrarily to our gut feeling, even an existence of suffering and evil is better than no existence at all. That may be the reason why even Hell is mercy.
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