Friday, April 15, 2011

Thought of the Day IV

Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in your name, and beyond the grave they will find only death. But we will keep the secret, and for their own happiness we will entice them with a heavenly and eternal reward. For even if there were anything in the next world, it would not, of course, be for such as they. It is said and prophesied that you will come and once more be victorious, you will come with your chosen ones, with your proud and mighty ones, but we will say that they saved only themselves, while we have saved everyone. It is said that the harlot who sits upon the beast and holds mystery in her hands will be disgraced, that the feeble will rebel again, that they will tear her purple and strip bare her "loathsome" body. But then I will stand up and point out to you the thousands of millions of happy babes who do not know sin. And we, who took their sins upon ourselves for their happiness, we will stand before you and say: "Judge us if you can and dare." Know that I am not afraid of you. Know that I, too, was in the wilderness, and I, too, ate locusts and roots; that I, too, blessed freedom, with which you have blessed mankind, and I, too, was preparing to enter the number of your chosen ones, the number of the strong and mighty, with a thirst "that the number be complete." But I awoke and did not want to serve madness. I returned and joined the host of those who have corrected your deed.  I left the proud and returned to the humble, for the happiness of the humble.  What I am telling you will come true, and our kingdom will be established.  Tomorrow, I repeat, you will see this obedient flock, which at my first gesture will rush to heap hot coals around your stake, at which I shall burn you for having come to interfere with us.  For if anyone has ever deserved our stake, it is you.  Tomorrow I shall burn you.  Dixi.
-The Grand Inquisitor to Jesus in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

It almost sounds like Dostoevsky foresaw the rapist priest scandal from a century in advance.  And he knew full well just how much corruption religious institutions are capable of.

1 comment:

  1. I disagree with your interpretation of the passage; you've taken it entirely out of context. In actuality, Ivan (through the Grand Inquisitor) is defending organized religion and ONLY organized religion, if only as a means of reversing the damage Jesus did (actually or allegorically) in the story of the temptations. Through an institution such as a powerful church, the majority men can be "freed" through the power and the deception by the few.

    It's pretty impudent to quote Dostoevsky in a critique such as this. The credo he himself developed: "There is nothing more beautiful, more profound, more attractive, more wise, more courageous and more perfect than Christ, and... there cannot be... Moreover, if someone proved to me that Christ were outside the truth, and it really were that the truth lay outside Christ, I would prefer to remain with Christ rather than with the truth." (Letters I 195)

    I'm not saying I agree with Dostoevsky -- or with Ivan -- or with the Grand Inquisitor -- but I do object to your usage of the selection :)