Monday, October 05, 2009

What's the opposite of uber?

I'm wearing my mustaches long these days, but I am not a fan of Nietzsche. I am in his debt today, however, for a new line of self-interrogation. (That is what philosophers are good for, right?) I read this description of Nietzsche's critique of Christian morality (from Joseph Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth):

"Nietzsche sees the vision of the Sermon on the Mount as a religion of resentment, as the envy of the cowardly and incompetent, who are unequal to life's demands and try to avenge themselves by blessing their failure and cursing the strong, the successful, and the happy."

I suddenly asked myself, "Am I a Christian because I'm weak?"

The argument could be made. I'm certainly much better off in a Christian-influenced environment than in a world of supermen. As a short, nearsighted man with rather slow reflexes and not much skill at making money, I wouldn't fare so well among the strong and successful, especially if they were cut loose from law and conscience.

I remember a moment in elementary school when I informed a persecutor that, in the way he was treating me, he "wasn't being very Christian." But he was a superman--the tallest kid in fifth grade--and he responded simply, "I'm not a Christian." Didn't know what to say to that.

So I am capable of using Christian morality in the service of power, attempting to control others who are stronger than me. Even if it doesn't work very often (I actually can only think of times when it failed), I should pay attention to this capability. When are my appeals to God's favor for the weak mere power plays for my own advantage? Thank you, Nietzsche, for this.

At the same time, I wholeheartedly embrace Christian morality and God's favor for the weak. What's right is right, even if my motives for supporting it will never be purely right.

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