ON THE NATURE OF SIN, AND OF GOD
A Personal Soliloquy
by Tom Leonard
Edinburgh, Scotland May 16 2022; Original Sin
Like St. Augustine of Hippo, I believe that I was born with original sin,
a built-in urge to do bad things that relates to my recently perceived
narcissism. It has me taken a long time to realize this, only partly because of all the flack
and childhood and adult bullying I have received during my lifetime
e.g. due to my gayness and my ADHD. I can only hope that for me
'the good will outweigh the bad', and I would agree that 'faith without deeds
is useless'. In attempting to participate in good deeds,
I have, for example, campaigned for over ten years for the
better treatment of people with mental health issues, and more recently I have
advocated equal rights and gender recognition for transgender people
e.g. in religious environments.
My original sin may, or may not, have evolved from my ancestors. The last four generations include the ‘Why am I so perfect?’ ‘war hero’ who cheated on my mother, had my pet collie put to sleep and put an early end to my kindly Granny, the ill-fated grandparents who threw plates at each other while their children fled in fright, my subsequently religious great grandfather who killed another teenager in a brawl when he was fifteen, my namesake great great grandfather Thomas Leonard who captained a sailing barque to Sierra Leone for exploitative purposes, and the predatory son of the local rector who was reportedly dreadfully involved in the Tragedy of Peter Tavy of 1892 when two teenagers were shot to death outside the church by an insane lad who was later executed.
My more distant ancestors include the totally sadistic reverend headmaster of Bruton College, Somerset, who taught exquisite poetry, reportedly thrashed his pupils in the Hoskyns-Abrahall tower, and sent many of them off to die in Imperial wars. I do not regard myself as any better, in spiritual terms, than any of my ancestors. Our better natures need to do battle with our original sin, and we should always strive not to hurt others. Sometimes I fail.
Does Jesus exist? Yes. The crucifixion of the historical Jesus is regarded as a ‘verifiable historical event’. The ‘resurrected Jesus’ lives in the minds of all the people who welcome him into their thoughts, and He provides one way, among others, of helping people to communicate in spiritual terms with each other. Whether He will judge us in a ‘hereafter’ and whether He forgives all our sins are other issues, as is the existence of a ‘hereafter’ itself.
Does an All-Seeing Eye exist? Maybe, maybe not. If we are being ‘judged from above’ then some huge ‘computer in the sky’ would be needed to record all of our thoughts and actions. But maybe we are only observed by other people. Perhaps the entirety of humanity is the All-Seeing Eye, and it is our fellow humans who judge us. Maybe the All-seeing Eye is our group consciousness. Maybe the 'universes of our subconscious thoughts, as expressed in our dreams'' interlink in some complex and mystical fashion. Even the whales and dolphins or the trees could be processing our thoughts.
An All Seeing Eye, if it exists, could be interpreted as belonging to a Nestorian-style ‘Eternal Messiah’, the 'Alpha and Omega’ who has always existed, and always will exist, and of whom the living, physical Christ has been just one of many earthly manifestations. Jewish or Muslim people would presumably regard the eye as Yahweh's or Allah's,
17 May 2022; How much are we forgiven?
Parts of the New Testament are in contradiction as to whether we are to be forgiven for all our sins. I’m still dubious about some of the suggestions in the Gospel ‘ according to St. John’, and the Pauline Gospels, and I get more convincing messages, that relate to my real-life experiences , from the Synoptic Gospels.
For example, in Mark Ch 3, verses 28-30, Jesus is reported as saying,
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin,-for they have said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’”
I personally believe that the Holy Spirit is the human spirit that moves among ALL of us, and that all crimes against humanity blaspheme against this Spirit. A few examples of such blasphemy include
(1) premeditated murder for financial gain.
(2) the waging of unnecessary war (e.g. Putin, Blair, various American presidents, several Saudi princes, some Zionist leaders)
(3) Sexual abuse, of children or adults
(4) The protection by our political and religious leaders of sexual abusers/ predators against just prosecution.
(5) Forced sterilization, genocide, and other extreme forms of eugenics,
(6) Abusive slavery
I believe that many further crimes against humanity are similarly unpardonable. This is not to preclude the possibility that some blasphemers against the Spirit could be persuaded and enabled to lead useful and more decent lives. The powers that be have a responsibility to ensure that all victims are adequately compensated e.g. by the miscreant, and that the miscreant is actively deterred from behaving so badly ever again. (The Primates of England did not ensure this in the Matthew Ineson multiple rape case)
I have no right to personally judge whether another person has committed an unpardonable sin. However, I am entitled to suspect this and to either confront the person or to “stomp my feet” i.e. to take appropriate avoidance action.
18 May 2022: On the nature of our Creator (I refer to the Creator as ‘He’ where the male embraces all genders, or no gender.)
The precise nature of our Creator is unknown to humankind, on Planet Earth at least. He may well have encouraged a series of ‘big bangs’ as universes are created out of other universes. I regard the Creator as a ‘Spirit’ (e.g. called Yahweh or Allah) or collection of Spirits of unfathomably enormous complexity. He creates evil as well as good, maybe for some ‘higher purpose’ or as part of some ‘game’. Many of his sentient creations suffer terribly while being given the vibrancy of life. I regard Him as having intelligently created, among other things, our complex genetic and evolutionary processes, the complex geological systems within the planets that control the weather and hence life itself on the planet surfaces, and life wherever in our Universes life has occurred.
I now focus on Christian perspectives. If an All-Seeing Eye (e.g. the Eternal Messiah's ) exists, then it could be connected in some way to the Creator. Therefore the Creator could be continuously interacting with humankind during some online process. The human spirit itself could be part of the Creator. I see every reason to be able to assume the existence of a Holy Trinity, though my mind is still debating the way in which the Creator, the Possessor of the Eye, and the Spirit of Humankind interact together.
I believe my opinions to be consistent with the “spirit of Iona” and with the modern teachings of our institutional churches e.g. the various interpretations of the Holy Trinity embodied in the teachings of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Maybe the Council of Nicaea (AD 325) and the God-emulating Emperor Constantine the Great managed to get it right, in broad terms at least, though I follow the late Rev. Peter McDonald, a leader of Iona and Church of Scotland minister, by not concurring with all of the Nicene Creed,
The Empress Fausta was executed in AD 326, reportedly in a steambath, soon after the execution without trial of her young stepson Crispus, reportedly by cold poison. She was unforgiven by her husband Constantine, who then claimed that Fausta and Crispus had made incestuous love together.
The murder of the brilliantly successful Imperial heir-apparent Crispus was regarded by Constantine's pagan priestess as unforgiveable. In Christian terms, the murder appears to be a prime example of blasphemy of the Spirit.
The Hereafter: Maybe humankind will learn more about the Creator in our ‘Hereafter.’ I very much hope that a Hereafter exists where we will shed the evils of our mortal lifetimes and improve the lot of sentient beings in the future. If it doesn't, then the purpose of my own tortuous life would be much less apparent. Maybe I will learn the Truth of Creation from dear Crispus.