Friday, May 31, 2013
In case you've forgotten the basics.
So then: Here is a brief tutorial on the Catholic conception of sin. Nothing, not even Satan, is purely evil. That’s because evil is fundamentally parasitic on goodEmphasis mine.
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In the same way with the even more inferior creature called Man — even the man we call Hitler — we find that all human sin is a radically disordered form of love, as Augustine tells us. Sin consists — always — in the pursuit of a good object by disordered means: putting what should be second in first place. In short, it’s not that the sinner doesn’t love; it’s that he loves things in the wrong order and puts, say, wealth or power (both good things) before persons or human beings before God.
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This frightens us, and we love to trot out the rhetoric of outrage at this point. “Oh, so poor Hitler meant well because he loved his dog!” we shout. “So I’m supposed to feel sorry for Ted Bundy who was only looking for love, eh?” Note the Manichaean thinking: Truly Evil People can’t possibly be motivated by love. Nor can they possibly be seeking happiness or a good end. They do what they do because they are bad right through. If we entertain the possibility that Charles Manson or Heinrich Himmler sought some good end just as we do, then we (gasp!) humanize the grave sinner — which is as good as saying that they “mean well,” which is as good as saying that what they are doing isn’t even a sin! Why? Because that’s what we tell ourselves to exonerate ourselves of our own sins.