On Martyrdom September 2, 2006Posted by Sobek in Gardening.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to subject any of you to more of my views on martyrdom. You can get your fill of that here.
As it turns out, I was reading last night before bedtime, and I came across this, from The Brothers Karamozov:
“That morning Gregory had gone in Lukyanov’s shop to buy something, and the owner had told him a story about a Russian soldier who, while serving somewhere far away, on the frontier, had been taken prisoner by Asian tribesmen. Under threat of torture, he was ordered to renounce the Christian religion and be converted to the Muslim faith. He refused and underwent the ordeal. They flayed him alive and he died a martyr’s death, praising and glorifying Christ…
“‘It’s about that soldier, sir,’ Smerdyakov said in an unexpectedly loud, brisk voice. ‘Even if his act was very brave, I still think he would not have sinned if he had rounced Christ on that occasion, as well as his own baptismal vows, so as to save his life for good works, which in time would have made up for his moment of weakness.’
“‘What do you mean, would not have sinned? You’re saying wicked things and you’ll go straight to hell for it. They’ll roast you there like mutton,’ Mr. Karamazov declared.
“‘As for the mutton, sir, that’s not so. I won’t get into trouble for it there. I couldn’t if there’s true justice,’ Smerdyakov declared sententiously.
“‘What do you mean “if there’s true justice”?’ Mr. Karamazov said, gaily egging him on and nudging Alyosha with his knee.
“‘He’s just no good, that’s what!’ Gregory suddenly blurted out, glaring at Smerdyakov.
“‘Don’t you be in such a hurry to call me names, Mr. Gregory,’ Smerdyakov parried with quiet self-assurance. ‘You’d better try to work it out for yourself. If I happen to be in the hands of Christ’s enemies and they demand that I curse the name of God and renounce my holy baptism, my reason tells me that I have the right to do it, and that there would be no sin in doing so.’
“‘You’ve already said that. Don’t just keep repeating it again and again — prove it!’ Mr. Karamazov said challengingly.
“‘Just listen to the miserable cook!’ Gregory hissed scornfully.
“‘Again, don’t be in too much of a hurry to call me names instead of trying to reason things out, Mr. Gregory, because the moment I say to my captors, “No, I’m no Christian and I curse my God,” I at once become anathema by God’s highest judgment and am banned from the Church, just as if I was a heathen — all that not within a second of when I say it, but the moment I think it; before a quarter of a second has passes after I’ve thought it, I’m already excommunicated from the Church. Isn’t that right, Mr. Gregory?’
“‘You’re anathema and you’re damned already!’ Gregory exploded suddenly again. ‘And how dare you argue after that, you scum, when…’
“‘Stop that, Gregory, don’t keep abusing him like that,’ Mr. Karamazov interrupted him.
“‘Why don’t you wait a short moment, Mr. Gregory, and hear what I have to say, because I haven’t finished yet. Because at the very moment when God damns me, at that exact, precise moment, it’s just the same as if I’d become a heathen and my baptism is taken away from me and no longer counts. Don’t you agree at least with that?’
“‘Come, my boy, get to the point quickly,’ Mr. Karamazov urged, sipping his brandy with relish.
“‘Well, then, if I’m no longer a Christian, it’s not a lie if I told my torturers when they asked me whether I was a Christian or not. Because by that time God Himself has stripped me of my Christianity, just for having thought it, before I even said one word to them. And if I was already stripped of it, how could they accuse me in the other world of renouncing Christ since, before I could renounce Him, I had already been deprived of my baptism? It’s the same as for a pagan Tartar: who could hold him responsible, even in heaven, Mr.Gregory, for not having been born a Christian, and who would want to punish him for that, since no one can strip two hides off the same ox? Besides, God Almighty Himself, even if He decides to punish the Tartar after he dies (since it’s impossible not to punish him at all), would give him only a very small punishment, considering that a Tartar cannot be blamed for having been brought into this world by infidel parents…”
Geezer notes that Captain Ed is on the topic, too. It seems everyone wishes they were as cool as us.
But you’ll note that Captain Ed’s topic is a little different from mine. I was discussing, not whether Centanni and Wiig had some responsibility to die for the faith (or the West, whichever the case may be), but whether I would do so. And in that sense, I come to the same conclusion as Captain Ed: regardless of whether I am willing to die for my faith, I’m not about to ask anyone else to die for my faith. Like Ed, I reject David Warren’s characterization of the situation as something we can “understand: not forgive.”
Dex has a different angle, examining the topic of our general resolve, as a culture, to win this war, in conflict with our basic belief in freedom of religion:
“It’s not manliness we lack; it’s the will to do what’s against our shared American values. But as rogue states get ready to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, we’re running out of other options.”
Well, assuming we want to win, he’s right. But there are those who don’t think that’s such a necessary point.