Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Problem With Apologies...

...Is that I maintain that 2000 years of Christian influence has been, far and away, a good thing. In fact, more than a good thing: a spectacular thing. A hulking tower of accomplishments that, though imperfect, represents the pinnacle of human accomplishment throughout the entirety of history.

In those 2000 years, I see absurd heroics and intellectual contributions. Monasteries filled with men spending their lives copying the best of the best greek works so as to preserve the knowledge for future generations. Yes, I know - they decided that some of that shit wasn't worth the effort, and a good share of Greece's fart jokes and lesbian poetry went up in flames as a result. Considering I'm not the one with the ink and the razor and the limited supply of paper in hand, I'm going to say that the Christian monks are owed a debt of thanks by modern humanity.

I see the historical spread of humanism, the idea that there is an innate dignity universal to human beings, such that each human life has intrinsic value and thus should be treated as something precious - regardless of race, nationality, lineage or otherwise. Yes, I know, this is speciesiest and leaves out (among other things) orangutans, but last I checked the orangutans don't give a shit anyway.

I see the building of thousands of hospitals, of charity work, of the promotion of the idea (connected to that non-secular humanism) that suffering anywhere is a problem, in some way, for everyone, and thus there is nobility in alleviating the ills of humanity. Yes, I know, they also didn't provide abortion services, much less contraception, but for some reason I find the inability to help some people fuck without remorse to be a distant secondary concern to trying to find ways to keep people from dying of their wounds in an era where germ theory wasn't well-established in the minds of men.

I see societies banding together to fight defensive wars against foreign powers that sought to convert the entirety of the west, and the world, to Islam by force - scores of sacrifice, not exactly a string of total victories, which ultimately ended in (thankfully) a stalemate that allowed western civilization to remain and thrive. Yes, I know, you also had atrocities and inquisitions, just like we've had in every goddamn war prior to and after the crusades, but until someone manages to run a successful war with a serious body count and no sketchy decisions being made by any party who ultimately mattered, I'm going to say that on the whole it's a good thing people were willing to fight against would-be invaders.

I see the creation of the university system, the preservation and introduction of brilliant philosophical insights, the birth of science itself, and more. I see, time and time again, accomplishments - lasting accomplishments, ones we benefit from to this day - being had by the dreaded Christians. Why, even (but not exclusively) white, male Christians who apparently frowned upon sodomy.

I'm not denying that mistakes were made, and abuses were performed. I am saying that for every aspect of Christian history that some wag can stand up and say 'That was a bad thing, someone should apologize for that!', there are at least ten things any reasonable person should look at and say, 'Wow, thank God for what they did, we're in their debt - someone should praise them for their accomplishments!'

And this is why I have started to reject, for lack of a better term, the Sorrow Culture that's popular among Christians and "Christians". No, I am not sorry for Christian history. I think it is, by and large, one long list of tremendous accomplishments inspired by a vision of God and faith. I do not apologize for it because it needs no apology. To criticize it without conceding the vast amount of contributions it has made to the world - contributions that we draw on to this day - is an injustice I want no part of. I no more consider it 'noble' to apologize for it without reservation than I consider it fair to leave the description of Martin Luther King as 'serial adulterer' and little more.

To act as if Christianity is nothing but 2000 years of mistakes that modern Christians need to apologize for is to become a psychic vampire on Christian individuals. It is to present a warped, dishonest view of history. It is to give exactly the opposite message that needs to be given to a culture that treats both Christ and Christians as the punchline of a joke. I don't consider this 'noble'. I don't consider this 'a positive influence on the culture'. I'm more than done with defending it or treating it as praiseworthy. 

And if you have any concern about how Christianity is conceived among people in and outside of the Church, you should be done with the Sorrow Culture too.

1 comment:

Craig said...

I see nothing to disagree with here. Personally, I don't see a lot of "apologies without reservations" ... but when I do, it irritates me just as much.

Even when it comes to specific incidents, Christian history usually comes out rather well when being compared with actual history and not visions of how things might have been.