Friedrich Nietzsche, b. 1844-Oct-15

I’ve sat through exactly one sermon in my life that I got something worthwhile out of — the sermon when the pastor read out a list of writers whose books no decent, godly person should allow in his home. I can’t remember the entire list now, but there was only one writer whose books I didn’t already have: Friedrich Nietzsche.

So I picked-up a copy of Twilight of the Idols next time I was at Barnes & Noble, and I’m glad I did. Nietzsche was a true freak-of-nature genius, and his frank contempt for pious buffoons is endlessly refreshing.

  • Plato was a bore.

  • Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.

  • He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

  • In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point.

  • To the sort of men who reach out for power under Judaism and Christianity, — that is to say, to the priestly class — decadence is no more than a means to an end. Men of this sort have a vital interest in making mankind sick, and in confusing the values of “good” and “bad,” “true” and “false” in a manner that is not only dangerous to life, but also slanders it.

  • The ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is a condition of the heart — not something that comes ‘upon the earth’ or ‘after death’.

  • The very word “Christianity” is a misunderstanding — in truth, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross.

  • “Faith” means not wanting to know.

  • The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

  • A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

  • In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.

  • There are no moral facts.

  • Christianity destroyed for us the whole harvest of ancient civilization, and later it also destroyed for us the whole harvest of Mohammedan civilization.

  • I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty — I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind.

You get the idea. Nietzsche was the first to grasp — or, at least, to say aloud — that Christianity could not possibly survive the confluence of the revival in the 1850s of critical scholarship applied to the ancient texts which comprise the Bible, and Darwin’s theory of evolution; events have proved him correct.

That is why the Pious have ever since blackened his name. Reality always has the last word, however.

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This post is re-published annually on October 15th.

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Dismal theology-related quote for the day

Five years ago, I moved from the Bible Belt to New York City and ran headfirst into an unexpected language barrier. Sure, I could still speak English as well as I always had. But I could no longer “speak God.”

By this I mean that spiritual conversations, once a natural part of each day for me, suddenly became a struggle. Whether I spoke to a stranger or a friend, the exchange flowed freely so long as I stuck to small talk. But conversations stalled out the moment the subject turned spiritual.

Before relocating, I worked as a part-time minister at a suburban congregation outside of Atlanta. Before that, I had attended a Christian college and seminary. All my life, I used religious language daily in my home and community, rarely pausing to think about the meaning of my words. But I was not in Georgia anymore.

Jonathan Merritt

What makes this opinion piece so striking is that Marritt never considers the most plausible explanation of all — that the world outside his bubble knows that his narrative has no more intellectual dignity than Jack and the Beanstalk.

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In the upper midwest

It’s true that the south does not have the snow and sometimes-brutal cold of the upper midwest, but the south also does not have the colors of autumn. Though a lot of last week’s trip to Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula was overcast, there was no missing the seasonal change.

Dawn and I stayed off the highways and stuck to the two-lane state roads, traveling north along the west side of the Lower Peninsula near Lake Michigan, and then south on the east side along the edge of Lake Huron. Some miscellaneous observations:

  • We saw only two Confederate flags the entire while. Similarly, there is nowhere the density of churches in rural northern Michigan as in rural North Carolina. In other words, there are a lot fewer backward-looking reactionaries up there.

  • Michigan has done a lousy job of protecting public access to the Great Lakes. Lake Michigan is practically unapproachable, and Lake Huron is easily accessed in only the northernmost quarter of its shoreline.

    Lake Superior is easily accessed everywhere. I don’t know, though, if that is because the winters are so miserable in the Upper Peninsula that there is a lot less development, or if the National Lakeshore designation prevents development.

  • In spite of the gabble about “southern hospitality,” midwesterners are far more direct, open, and friendly than southerners. It is a different culture, and healthier.

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Dawn and I are headed to northern Michigan for the fall colors; posting will resume October 15th.

Road to Copper Harbor, 2017

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Deepity of the day

I’ve about decided that people who can’t tell that John Piper is an idiot with nothing useful to say actually are no damn good.

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