Wednesday, January 24, 2007

To Each His Own

Much of the previous discussion has centered on the idea introduced in class that one chooses to go to Hell. Dante believes that due to the existence of free will, all those residing in Hell have chosen to go there. I would agree that God has given us free will that we might choose to love him by accepting his grace as redemption from an inherently fallen/sinful nature. On the other hand, those who reject this love(along with His mercy), according to the law of a just God, must spend eternity in Hell(or in the absence of the God they have willfully rejected). As Flannery O’Connor wrote, “God made us to love Him. It takes two to love. It takes liberty. It takes the right to reject.” Interestingly, as O’Connor here points out, love is defined by our ability to reject it. So there exists a decision to be made for each of us. In theory, the choice seems simple. And yet, as the large crowds in Dante’s Hell attest, many have chosen to reject this love – thereby rejecting God. But why would one choose to reject a loving God? Although there are multiple reasons, differing from one person to the next, the problem of evil is one repeatedly discussed in theological circles. Many people struggle with the existence of evil in a world created by a loving God. How could an all-powerful, loving God allow evil to exist? A little-known theologian once explained it to me like this:

"In order to remove the possibility of evil, God would have to remove Freedom, but doing so would also eliminate Love.
Love is the greatest good for any creature, but it is impossible without Freedom.
Love, in its essence, is a “choice” and, therefore, seems to be God’s purpose in giving man Freedom.
Thus, God allows evil for the purpose of a greater good which is Love"(CCC apologetic curriculum).

On a lighter note, another guy I greatly admire once explained it to me like this:

“If God dwells inside us like some people say, I sure hope He likes enchiladas, because that’s what He’s getting”(Jack Handy, Deep Thoughts).

“My young son asked me what happens after we die. I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt, and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth – that most of us go to Hell and burn eternally – but I didn’t want to upset him”(Jack Handy, Deep Thoughts).

1 comment:

Annette said...

Natalie: these quotes remind me of one of my favorite take-home points from my favorite book of all time: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. In the very last chapter, the count leaves a note for a younger friend, in which it reads:

“As for you, Morrel, this is the secret of my conduct towards you. There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of living.”

This reminds me of what you and Flannery O’Connor have said. What is good if there is nothing to compare it to? What is love if there is nothing to compare it to? Evil makes good and love that much more sweet.

Love Jack Handy too!