Contradictions

Clipped from my e-mail to someone I know

It was the dead of night, as I drove through southern Ontario hunting for asbestos [during my time at an environmental company]. The voice of a seemingly frail and introverted young man droned in my right ear–a maladroit reading of G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” by a Librivox volunteer. Chesterton weaved an aesthetically satisfying narrative with his prose, temporarily strengthening my faith in his conclusions. I felt a small chill as he suggested that Christianity’s critics were contradictory–accusing it of too much optimism, too much pessimism, and so on–not because this fellow was a very “odd” shape, but perhaps because he was the “right” shape, and had offended the worst parts of all of them.

There is, however, another possibility. The criticisms of Christianity may seem inconsistent because Christianity simply produces inconsistent behaviour in people, and in both cases it is worth criticizing. A schizophrenic patient might think his doctors inconsistent for relating to him so differently at different times, but there is a reason for this.
There are optimistic thoughts, feelings and statements that come out of Christianity, and examining them alone, we can see that they are overly optimistic. There are proclamations of fire and brimstone, and we can see that they are more pessimistic than anything.
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