Posts Tagged ‘determinism’

It’s a hard knock life for us. And I’m not just talking about lame movies. However much Solomon Kane bordered on the lame when I watched it not too long ago, I was half-overjoyed by the profundity of insight it offered on the human condition: Solomon Kane is a bit of a treasure hunter in the early 17th Century, violently and mercilessly making his mark on the world and receiving some decent bounty. One misadventure in Africa takes him into a fortress; notably, his enemies that were guarding it refuse to follow him in. As he ascends, his men slowly disappear, until he eventually reaches the throne room, entering in alone with the doors closing behind him. A short introduction and Solomon Kane is before the Devil’s Reaper, who has appeared to claim his soul after his life of violence. Solomon quickly displays some sophistic sword action, managing to elude the supernatural and later return home to England. I apologise for the necessity of recalling the opening of the film in it’s almost entirety, but let me continue. Clearly affected by this experience, Solomon commits to being a man of peace by spending the rest of his life in isolation at a monastery. Later on in the film he meets a small party of pacifist Puritans. One of them, Mr Crowthorn, reveals his military past:

“I fought in the Queen’s Army once, before I found my faith. Taking another man’s life, that’s not an easy thing to do, don’t you agree?”

Solomon replies:

“I must confess Mr Crowthorn, I was never more at home than I was in battle. Killing came easily to me”.

Solomon Kane in the film

That’s it right there. Mr Crowthorn and Solomon Kane approach Christian lifestyle completely differently. For Mr Crowthorn, his conversion and subsequent faith provide the necessary out and over, the new standpoint of meaning from which he can now view his old life of violence as completely without meaning. His faith is not a means to an end but an end in itself. If we take Mr Crowthorn for a type and read the entirety of his faith in this sense then even any hope beyond the grave is completely subordinated to the present, a live lived in the footsteps of Jesus. For Solomon, however, he does not know violence as empty and meaningless, but it remains to be the highest point of meaning he has yet experienced in his life, as the words at home indicate. His faith does not come naturally as a result of his conversion, but his faith and non-violence are the burdens he bears to withhold his damnation. He would much rather be exercising his bloodlust than living out the peaceful remainder of his life waiting for death, yet he knows he will be vindicated by maintaining this peace. Solomon’s lifestyle, if typified, is a more primitive, milk-and-honey faith, one that is only the means to an end and sacrifices the present for the future.

* * *

How does one make the move from the Solomon Kane faith of unwillful self-denial to the Mr Crowthorn faith of willful obedience? To realise and seek to overcome this disconnect is a part of the Christian tradition. One example is of Francis Xavier, a 16th Century Jesuit missionary, who challenges his own motivations:

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Shall I not love thee well?
Not for the sake of winning heaven,
Or of escaping hell;
Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Not seeking a reward–
But as thyself hast loved me,
O everlasting Lord!

To love for love’s sake is a higher expression and truer definition of love than one that gives thought to the self. I cannot discount this beautiful prayer. But what must be asked of all of these movements is, where ethically are they situated? With what motivations does Francis seek to change his motivations? Once Francis discerns the selfish nature of his faith, what dark-between must he enter into to complete it? In other words, why exactly does Francis desire to love for love’s sake (or for God’s sake)? If he desires to do so without thought of heaven and hell, and this includes in an implicit sense where he gives thought to any kind of reward, for example, more of God’s presence, then he need not desire to have a complete love because his desire is already an expression of selfless desire. If, however, he unwittingly seeks to be justified by moving from selfish love to complete love then he must necessarily arrive at this through incomplete love, his selfish love. In either case his primary desire annuls the destination desire. To put the words of Paul in another context, “Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!” (Romans 3:8 NIV).

* * *

If we ourselves cannot legitimately make the move from selfish to selfless faith (and I cannot talk of these in absolute terms, of course; each progressive move is from a less so to a more so, rather than a no to a yes), then the obvious prophetic answer must be that the cause must lay outside of ourselves. In one of the best games of all time, Ocarina of time, Link the protagonist must symbolically face himself half way through the game. Up until now he has slain various forces of evil that have been reclaiming his homeland, Hyrule. Half way through the water temple, Link finds himself in a seemingly endless, desolate, mirror-like room, with a tree and a pond in center. After looking around, a figure appears beside the tree. On approaching, the figure appears as Dark Link, a shadowy version of himself. Before Link proceeds any further, before he can confront Ganondorf, the source of evil who has been oppressing Hyrule, he must confront and overcome an entirely different opposition, himself. Naturally, this is impossible. We are ourselves; how then can we overcome ourselves? Link nonetheless proceeds… only to find that each strike is countered with equal force, and each raising of shield is mockingly mirrored. Could it be that Link cannot land a hit on his other self because he is in actuality aiming at nothing at all? Is suicide his only out?

This picture should give an indication of Link’s predicament. Note the player’s excellently good choice of having the war hammer equipped on c-down, which will make sense as you read on.

Yet self-overcoming depends on this: that our two selves are not identical. A chess master who plays the most honest game with himself can only finish in a stalemate, a technical non-event. Yet if the player had access on one side of the game to an extra couple of queens, this would throw out of balance the identicality of his selves and allow for greater variance in the outcomes of the game (as also does the turns-based element of chess, but for a master this would make little difference). Thus in Ocarina of Time, Link is matched with sword and shield but not fire or a war hammer. When Link wields the war hammer, Dark Link cannot counter with the same, engendering immediately non-identicality, and consolidating the partition of the self.

In Christian theology, grace is God’s way of giving us a war hammer. As before shown, it is impossible to legitimately love selflessly, as it must be arrived at through selfish love, or it is already arrived at. If the latter is the case it is because the Holy Spirit has reoriented my desire.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws”

(Ezekiel 36:25-26 NIV; cf Jeremiah 31:33-34).

Back to the example of Solomon Kane, he cannot legitimately make the move from salvation-oriented self-denial to contentment and meaning in peace, as his desire for the latter is an expression of the former. His completed faith must arise independently of his struggle for it, as he will only eternally lock swords with his selfish desires. The Holy Spirit must take his own initiative and act as a war hammer upon Solomon’s desires, thus redefining and redeeming them. From a Calvinist perspective, even Solomon’s asking for the help of the Holy Spirit is mediated by the Holy Spirit, so that God can complete Solomon’s salvation without flawed human involvement.

* * *

Yet what if Solomon is not blessed enough to receive this providence? What if he remains, to use the proper Calvinist terminology, truly reprobate? Must we depend entirely on divine caprice for the redeeming of our desires? Is there a way, in Jesus’ words, to enter the sheep pen without going through the gate (John 10:1,9)? Speaking of Jesus, what are all these conveniently passed over mentions, just a few examples from Matthew’s gospel alone, of reward (Matthew 5:12, 46; 6:1-18; 10:42; 16:27; 25:14-30)  and punishment (Matthew 8:12; 14:32; 22:13)? Is Solomon justified in missing half the point of the Gospel message just so he can secure his own salvation? Opportunistic hecklers of the Gospel miss the wisdom in Jesus’ admonishments based on reward and punishment: It is impossible to freely break from this orientation without the intervention of an external cause. If we remain selfish, let us continue in it and strive against it to eventually become selfless.

While causality blesses some, it is not yet impossible to attain the selfless orientation on your own means; it only requires a kind of coup d’état with selfish means. Further, this is only completely seen as selfish with a strictly prospective view of desire. Actions judged by their motivations through self-reflection may often be discounted, “I have been giving a lot of my time to that volunteer group, but originally only because I knew I needed to look beyond myself and that girl was pretty sexy too”. This requires some slaughtering of the literal meaning of motivation, but consider if motivations can not just be prospective (anticipating) but retrospective (reflecting). The previous example is one of prospective motivation. The volunteer group could have at the outset appeared unappealing, so the subject appeals to his responsibility and relationship opportunities to engage in something that requires self-sacrifice. These are the rewards. Retrospective motivation in this case is where reflection on completing the activity supersedes the original motivations, “I honestly had no interest in making soup for homeless people but after doing so I feel it’s more important than justifying my middle-class indifference and engaging casual flirting”.

The initiation of the Holy Spirit is not exclusive to Calvinist thinking but may be implicit in other evangelical/Protestant theologies. These theologies may allow for the movement Solomon makes with his selfishness into selflessness, but the assumption is also that Solomon makes the movement from asking help of the Holy Spirit to being moved by/moving with the Holy Spirit. This is to view conversion, as with Mr Crowthorn, as something drastically life-changing, a redefinition of all desires of the heart and patterns of the mind, in accordance with New Testament theology (eg. John 3:5-6; Romans 8:5, 12:2; 2Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22-24; Hebrews 8:10-11). The full conversion of Solomon would retroactively annul his original selfish desires with which he enters into it.

What is missing in this account of the Gospel is the progressive nature of faith. A few weeks ago somebody asked me to grow my hair. To grow my hair means I must decide every day to maintain my commitment, but to cut my hair I can decide on a whim. Not for everyone is faith like cutting your hair, which is once-off and can account for large changes; faith may also be like growing your hair. Therefore sometimes a life lived always asking for the help of the Holy Spirit is more of a reality than a life lived with the help of the Holy Spirit. And without the Holy Spirit, the constancy of always having to ask for his help and the commitment required to live out faith in his absence make faith more reminiscent of works-based salvation than Paul probably intended. But what out is there? Contrariwise to the film, if Solomon had maintained his unwillful life of self-denial, possibly he would have come to a point where his legalism would have been usurped by his greatest yet experience of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. The eventual meaning arising from the call to peace would act as a retrospective motivation upon the call, replacing his prospective motivation of self-preservation. Or maybe he would have continued to suppress his desire for violence until he died, without the real inner change testified to in the Gospel, and hoped that the Lord would look gracefully upon his self-righteousness.

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At an experiential level, free will will always be easy to argue for. Then people start reflecting, they see the world as cause and effect and realise that determinism is easier to argue for. Then they realise also that the way they experience life can not so easily be discounted. Free will still exists, but not as true freedom; it is subordinated into a happy illusion that hides our dark chains to causality.

I here present no argument for existence as truly free. In another post I have even discussed some impossibility around imagining this. But work with this assumption here for a moment. If freedom is just a shadow of some deeper truth in a determined world (where we don’t actually exist, but are just an expression of the existing whole), what if this deeper truth of everything being already determined is just a shadow of something even more eternal, something yet more foundational, an existence that is truly free? I’m not qualified to qualify my speculation with any spectacular argument. I can only examine the operative value of each view.

If free will is an illusion then it’s not one that we’re not happy to live with. How many people choose, after becoming aware of their determined existence, to live accordingly? You cannot live accordingly. You live as you have always lived, and revel in it, because your false freedom is the consolation of your true unfreedom. Free will as an experiential illusion is a friendly gesture from existence to deal with your true bondage.

If, however, we accept the inevitability of our every action and begin to live a life more conscious of this bondage then our days quickly become shorter and our nights longer. The illusion of causality greedily hides from us our true freedom. Check out this quote I recently came across:

If an outstanding event takes place, a catastrophe, for example, it could not not have taken place; nonetheless, insofar as it did not take place, it is inevitable. It is thus the event’s actualization — the fact that it takes place — which retroactively creates its necessity.

(Jean-Pierre Dupuy, cited by Slavoj Žižek in The Monstrosity of Christ, p.77).

To paraphrase, as we approach events that are ahead of us in time, there are infinite possibilities concerning how the event could pan out. But if we reflect on events already past then all possibility disappears. There is no “I could have saved some extra money for the bus ride home”. No, you couldn’t have. You couldn’t have because you didn’t. And now you have to walk home. As soon as you do something, the doing of that thing, its actualisation, means there is no fantasy ‘otherwise’. The only reason you couldn’t have not spent your money is because there is now no possibility for you to go back in time and choose differently; the passing of time fully consolidates your actions and makes any other possibility impossible. The only possibility now is ahead of now, in future.

Not going to happen.

Yet causality does not stop there. It creeps also into present and future. Once you make the same mistake more than once, you face the possibility that your lack of freedom exists not only behind you but also ahead of you. This is a passing thought. Then one day you come face to face with your unfreedom in the present. Now is the time when you will need those coins for the bus ride home. You know this. You will not make the same mistake again. Yet you choose to make this mistake again. You squander your last silver on whatever it is that forfeits your ride home. The logic of past necessity has crept into your present, and it has not long to take your future also. If I have done this in the past, if I choose to do it also now, though I could choose otherwise but do not choose because I also cannot, then it is likely that I will choose to do so likewise in the future.

I’m pretty sure I started this post with some conclusion in mind, but I’ll finish on that depressing note until something returns…

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In my yet tiny survey of continental philosophy I’ve now and again encountered the dichotomy of possibility and necessity. A corrupt definition may be something like possibility being that which could be and necessity being that which must be. But notice my imposition of time onto the definition, even if I change tense. Maybe there’s a simple definition of possibility and necessity that goes beyond something which could have or must have been. Notice also that could be and must be can be used in reference to present or future? But there are further imperfections in the choice of language. To say that something must be is not pure necessity; there is a tinge of possibility in the word must. Pure necessity is better represented by is. Something that is is much more necessary than something that must be, and with that the shortcomings of necessity as a word are also exposed: The purest necessity actually is actuality, because something that is actual is ironically more necessary than something that is necessary.

But here also time confuses things. Is only makes sense in English when used in the present. To describe something necessary in the future we can say that it will be, but we have no designation for actuality in the future. This is probably because our conception of time doesn’t allow for actuality in the future. The future by definition, in referring to something that will be, necessitates that something to not be presently. For example, to say that Terminator II is an awesome movie and it will still be awesome in the future requires us to differentiate between present awesome and future awesome, although they may be qualitatively identical. Because there is a future for the awesomeness of Terminator II to not yet be means that presently Terminator II is not future-awesome, but only present-awesome. Time has required awesomeness to make reference to it, a kind of acknowledging of the sponsors. Terminator II is always awesome. If something is, then it always is.

Even simply prefixing is with always, however, makes it impotent. Always, though expressing it means there is no operating exception, necessitates the possibility of an exception. To say something always is is to defend it against the accusation of sometimes-not-is, sometime-past-not-is (not-was-is) and sometime-future-not-is (not-will-be-is). The only half-satisfactory word for actuality in English is is, and it must be expressed without qualifiers, in its pure isness.

This kind of thinking has probably led some theologies to conclude that God is outside of time. Take for example this verse from the psalms:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

(Psalm 90:1-2 NIV).

The psalmist contrasts their human conception of temporal linearity (Before the mountains were born) with a transcendent conception of God (you are God). God’s actuality cannot be diminished by any idea of past, present, future, yet his actuality, his isness, is poetically intertwined with our understanding of time.

* * *

Actuality is purest necessity. What is pure possibility? Possibility I have found to be a much harder concept than necessity. It requires a much more violent overhaul of language than a definition of pure necessity. If we can constrain must be by naming it is, what can we do to free could? There is some necessity in saying that you could be a closet appreciator of geraniums. The necessity exists in another possibility: In postulating your abominable appreciation of geraniums I make reference to the possibility that you are indifferent to them, or better, despise them. These examples might be more comprehensible with numbers. Say there is a 0.98 probability/possibility that you could appreciate geraniums. The other 0.02 denotes the infinite number of ways in which you couldn’t. To say could recognises this other possibility, the 0.02, as a necessity which holds it back from being pure possibility. Notice how probability restricts us from understanding pure possibility. To say either there is a 1 or a 0 probability that you enjoy geraniums is to lean very heavily into actuality. At both ends of the scale of possibility there is only actuality.

There exists no opposite of is. Something can not-is, be non-existent, but non-existence is a form of actuality. There is no freedom in is, nor is there in not-is. Does the lack of a kind of superlative for could indicate a lack of imagination on part of the English language? Can we imagine a condition of complete freedom, or is our freedom always understood in reference to that which is not free?

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They say, “Evil prevails when good men fail to act.” What they ought to say is, “Evil prevails.” — Yuri Orlov (Nicholas Cage) in Lord of War

* * *

To have a fateful¹ outlook on life means to see everything as inevitable. There is no room for “What if that…” and “What if this…” Everything just is. So the fateful person accepts the inevitable. But it doesn’t always have to be negative, like Shakespeare’s famous introduction to Romeo and Juliet: “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes /A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life”, as if to say the tragic endings of the couple were determined by the stars. I was more worried about the fatal loins… Sometimes fate even seems to be on your side. “There was no way even I could have stood in the way of myself getting this job; it was meant to be” or “Everything good is coming to me lately”.

What’s this other word then, faithful? You might find, if you listen hard enough, that when most people say faithfulness, they’re actually saying fatefulness. The two just sound the same. Could they really actually possibly really be that much different? Yet at the heart of the Christian story, the very beginning, there is a rejection of fate; things are not the way they’re supposed to be. In the words of Switchfoot:

Dreaming about providence
And whether mice or men have second tries
Maybe we’ve been living with our eyes half open
Maybe we’re bent and broken, broken

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?

This particular mouse had plenty of second tries

* * *

In the Christian tradition (of mission, contrition and spiritual nutrition) God stands in opposition to fate: We were created for communion with God and creation, but we rejected this for other pursuits so that the position we are now in is not our fate; it is not meant to be². The deus contra fatum³ (God against fate) summarises holistic biblical theology in that God has dealt the death-blow to death/fate and is continuing his work to restore an Edenic earth, to restore what is meant to be. To pray “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10 NIV) is to acknowledge that God’s will stands in contradistinction to the state of the earth at present.

Jesus’ earthly ministry is teeming with examples of deus contra fatum. In one of my favourite examples, Jesus not only asserts the divine will against the fate of being born blind but he gives new meaning to it:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him[…]”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, made some mud with the saliva and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go”, he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” […] So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

(John 9:1-3,6-7 NIV)

The man’s fate was to live life without sight. Jesus’ reason for the man’s blindness is not so much a theodicy, a justification for his blindness in divine terms, as it is an intervention on divine terms. Of course the man wasn’t born blind for God’s purposes, but his blindness, on encountering Jesus, becomes a part of God’s purpose. Through Jesus’ redemptive work he gives the suffering a new meaning.

Paul heralds the deus contra fatum through his descriptions of the significance of life in Christ and Christian community. The gods are not an orgy of selfish caprice, demanding our sacrifices and punishing us for their own failures4, but the Lord himself would give his all for us (Philippians 2:6-8)5. We are not pawns in a chess game of cosmic-indifference, but loved more than we can imagine (Romans 8:38-39). All distinctions and inequalities that our birth and society thrust upon us are overcome in Christ and Christian community as we are adopted as children of God (Galatians 3:26-28) and citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).

* * *

Ah, that was refreshing. But it’s all a bit simple. In some very dark corners of your beloved God’s Word we come across an altogether different conception of fate, one that necessarily arrives in conceptualising existence both as not as it’s meant to be and in line with God’s sovereign rule. But rather than blissful submission to deus ut fatum (God as fate)6, the subject takes on the spirit of deus contra fatum, this time against God himself. This is to say that “Your will be done” can only be prayed regarding this caveat a couple of verses earlier, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8 NIV).

Abraham prefigures universalism in his confrontation with God before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. He persists in asking God to relent from destruction because there may be righteous people in the cities (Genesis 18:20-33). Moses prays that God will not show the extent of his anger to Israel after they turn to idolatry, although the Lord is determined to do so (Exodus 32:7-14). The evil king Ahab is promised by the Lord through Elijah to die horribly but, after repenting in light of Elijah’s words, God adjusts his intentions (1Kings 21:17-29). And, much to the prophet’s dismay, Jonah pronounces judgement upon the foreign city of Nineveh, who in turn repent, causing God to change his mind (Jonah 3:4-10 NRSV — many popular translations like the NIV avoid the awkward theology; cf James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8).

Anyone keen for some modern propheteering? Nineveh’s back up and running!

Surely God gets it together by the time of Jesus though? Or maybe Jesus represents a stronger affinity with this side of God, one more open to the challenges of the people who accuse God of fatefulness. It turns out that his first miracle, the inauguratory water into wine, is a reaction to motherly nagging (John 2:1-11). A Canaanite woman interrupts Jesus’ important ministry to the Jews and demands his attention when he feels the need to focus on other things (Matthew 15:21-28). And towards the end of his ministry he seems to desire otherwise than God’s plans for him (Matthew 26:39), culminating in disillusionment with God’s abandoning of him, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 NIV). These examples show both how Jesus changed his will in regard to the desires of others, and how he as God was at odds with God.

Of course, in each of the illustrations from both Old and New Testaments, one could, to avoid Pelagian/Arminian heresy, etc, and maintain the duality of God = good, person =bad, impose their own theology onto the stories and read them as opportunities or tests that God was giving to reveal the true hearts of the characters in them. I think it’s somehow better to read the stories at face value though, and give them some credit in themselves for what they’re saying. In the Book of Jeremiah, the Lord admits to this principle outright, although it’s more so regarding sin, punishment and repentance (which a lot of New Testament theology problematises, eg. Luke 13:1-5; John 9:1-3; Galatians 3:10-14), rather than such as intercession (the Abraham, Moses, Mary examples) or beseeching regarding your own undeserved suffering (the Canaanite woman):

If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

(Jeremiah 18:7-10 NIV)

* * *

The biblical story of King Hezekiah is another favourite of mine. The writer of 2Kings praises him for his trust in and following after the Lord, connecting this to the blessing that his kingdom received and saying, “There was no-one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him” (2Kings 18:5-7 NIV). Take that, David!7 The thing with this dude is though that he, like other examples listed here, contested what God had planned, in a similar situation to the Canaanite woman towards Jesus. Basically, the prophet Amoz comes up to Hezekiah when he’s sick to let him know that he’s going to die. Thanks for the heads up, bro! Hezekiah is disillusioned. He weeps before God so Isaiah comes to let him know that God has decided to give him another fifteen years (This story paraphrased from 2Kings 20:1-5). But the interesting thing is that Hezekiah doesn’t get up to a lot in these next fifteen years. He managed to have a son, Manasseh, who was twelve when Hezekiah died, but turned out to be a bit rotten, according to the historian (2Kings 21:2). Hezekiah had seen a great defeat of Assyrian oppressors prior to his sickness (2Kings 18:17-19:37), and in his extra years the Lord promised the end in its fullness (2Kings 20:6). But all of Hezekiah’s righteous achievements seem to me more so a part of his previous life, that within the parameters of God’s will.

God pwning the Assyrian army

Maybe his extra years were a display of God’s grace. In fact, Hezekiah didn’t explicitly ask for more years; he only wept because he knew his time was near (2Kings 20:3). Isaiah records a song attributed to Hezekiah that notes he was in the ‘prime of [his] life’ when Amoz announced his impending death (Isaiah 38:10). This is where the argument goes full circle. It is the embrace of both Deus ut fatum and Deus contra fatum: God against the God of fate. Is this not the most viable conclusion to draw on the Judeo-Christian conception of a sovereign God? That is, a God who oversees and is in control of all, yet opposes what is going on? As the serious King James translators put it:

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 KJV).

* * *

¹Fatalistic is probably a more recognisable term concerning the context, but for the sake of poetry!

²This, of course, is to avoid all that controversy around the Fall as a measure for God’s sovereignty (a euphemism for determinism). Oh, and that other controversy concerning the origins of evil, which is no doubt an uneasy paramour of the question as to whether God intended the Fall…

³Totally working on my Latin here to create the illusion of working within some historical theological parameters. Help me out if you can: deus (God, masculine, nominative) contra (against) fatum (fate, masculine, accusative). I was unsure whether to put fate in the nominative or accusative and what gender to use, but I’m pretty sure it’s the accusative because it acts as an object; the only reservation I had was that contra wasn’t a verb.

4Also a reading of Christianity that our theology often makes all too easy for us and the world around us to agree with.

5Paul’s embodiment of this complete self-sacrifice is an important example to make note of here, as it provides a good metaphor for Jesus’ cosmic humility in that it approaches the self-emptying from the perspective of the believer rather than Saviour: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel” (Romans 9:2-4, on Israel rejecting the Gospel).

6Does it still make sense if I replace ut for contra? Help me out here! And to what extent should I consider word order?

7Take that Jesus!???


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