A Nietzschean Objection to Christianity

“What is it that we combat in Christianity? That it aims at destroying the strong, at breaking their spirit, at exploiting their moments of weariness and debility, at converting their proud assurance into anxiety and conscience-trouble; that it knows how to poison the noblest instincts and to infect them with disease, until their strength, their will to power, turns inwards, against themselves–until the strong perish through their excessive self-contempt and self-immolation: that gruesome way of perishing, of which Pascal is the most famous example.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, as cited in Bertrand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy, 766.

Bertrand Russell:

“Speaking of Spinoza (Nietzsche) says: ‘How much of personal timidity and vulnerability does this masquerade of a sickly recluse betray!’ Exactly the same may be said of him, with the less reluctance since he has not hesitated to say it of Spinoza.” – 767

David counters:

Praise be to the Lord,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.

The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 28

On Manliness

You’ve met a man, so you say? How dare you use that wraith of a word? Yes, the ghost of manliness still haunts us to remind us that we are its killers. Do you know what that word once meant with all its embodied virility and strength? Perhaps you meant that you met a man like Gilgamesh the great king of Uruk. Your man, has he built the walls of Uruk-Haven, opened the mountain passes, fought the bull of heaven, and carved in a stone stela all his toils? What ambition does your man have? Or perhaps, he is more like David, with his cunning and righteous honor? Does your man brave death to face those who defy the name of God? Has your man withheld his hand from smiting his most loathsome enemy merely for the sake of God’s name? Yet, perhaps, this man of yours is different entirely. Perhaps his manliness is one of wisdom and piety. Has he governed his people well and made peace like that reluctant ruler, Numa Pompilius. Has your man seen the folly of youthful strife? Has he, by his strength of character, sealed the doors of Janus’s temple, washing clean hands filthy with blood? Or rather, is he like Gaius Mucius, who realized that while war may be inevitable it is better to die and freedom to be preserved? Tell me please, what is this man like, if you choose to call him that. Or if I may be so bold to ask, is he like that man, incredibly enfleshed who gave humanity its truest vision of manhood? Would he, like Jesus, courageously face death to serve and to call men and women to a higher vision of humanity, one which sees as its highest calling the service of the glory of God? Does his passion against sin burn to the point where he could brazenly flout the insidious religious traditions which enslave mankind? Would he bear with patience the consequences of others sin? Does he love like the lamb of God? Please, tell me if your man dares even to admire these men. If so, perhaps by the grace of God, you can say you’ve met a man.

On Life

Yes, they have accused us of destroying life, rather than living. We, the mystics, they say, have rejected utterly the power of the plus in exchange for the zero. Yet, it is not we who destroy. No, we who have seen the faintest glimpses of the overworld, we who have seen out of the cave, we love life more than all others. We have not foisted the burden of original sin on anyone. The reasonable men have all uttered one final “I do not understand” as death has pressed itself on them. The reasonable men have thought to vanquish all enemies. Like great Theseus, they have chosen the highways of our land to rid us of the ferocious beasts. Yet, as they swing their clubs, they kill one only to reveal another. Then finally, like Theseus, they withdraw. Or rather, their bodies withdraw like the bodies of all reasonable men have withdrawn before them. The reasonable men pass with all their plusses utterly negated while they deny even the possibility of it. We do not rejoice at their realization. No, we lament. We do not equivocate over the bitterness of death. We utterly reject it. We will refuse to accept the setting darkness, as ones who have seen that the sun rises again in the east. So we look east with expectant eyes. Just as original sin presses itself on all of us, so also the dawning from the east presses itself on us. How can we pretend that mankind has not seen it? How can we deny the reality of it? If just one of our kind stepped from this cave and lives to tell of it, shall we not heed? No, we, the mystics as they say, hold life as our highest end. We will live and do live. We live because one of our kind lived before us.