Getting Rid Of Our Sins

When asked why he had converted to Catholicism, G.K. Chesterton replied, “To get rid of my sins”. This is refreshingly concrete in comparison with all the wuffle you get from some other quarters, about “spiritual dimensions” and so forth. It goes well with the Catholic Church’s treatment of sins as specific acts, which cuts through the verbiage of self-exculpation by good intentions.

We know what sins are, and most of us know why a man might want to get rid of them. The only problems here are how you do it, and whether you have really done what you imagine you have.

To start with, if getting rid of sins means making the acts not to have happened, then that is impossible. We did them, period. If the offended party is still keeping score, then it is difficult for us to obey the prime human directive of thinking ourselves to be good people. For the Jews, it is for our victim to forgive, nobody else, and if he doesn’t then we must stay unforgiven. We have forgotten how startling the Christian dodge truly is, when someone claims to forgive us for the acts we have committed against someone else. His grievances have been bought at a discount by a factoring company, or rather sequestrated, so that he no longer gets a say. All sins, they say, are against God, so the injured party is now out of the loop. Very convenient for the sinner, as the original victim might pronounce a malediction rather than absolution.

And how do we know that the sequestrator of our wicked acts has forgiven us? We are told so by his self-appointed representatives. So that’s all right, then. If there were no God and the forgiveness of our sins were a complete delusion, then the world would look exactly as it does now. So on those grounds we can disagree with Chesterton as to whether he really has gotten rid of his sins.

An alternative to outright delusionality is reworking of one’s sins. By this I mean adopting a world-view in which your sins become virtues. Although fairly difficult with high crimes, the indulgence of sin under new names becomes extremely easy for such things as pride (e.g. in not being a sinner like you), censoriousness and vindictiveness. Chesterton himself burned down no abortion clinics, but he did transform his dedication to beer into a championship of Christianity against an early incarnation of the Eurabia theory.

Posted on July 24, 2011 at 13:59 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, The Longest Con, Miscellaneous

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