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Sin, Damnation, and Disclaimers | Catholic Life

Sin, Damnation, and Disclaimers

As usual, this post is half tongue-in-cheek and half deadly serious. My hope is that with enough of these I may not have to post as many disclaimers and explanations. Of course it is not most efficient (or material, formal, or final for that matter!) to include jokes in a post intended to prevent further confusion, but I just can’t help myself!

Every day I learn something new. Recently I learned that the real reason that God made Josh the head of our home is so that Josh can point out the obvious to me. Like the fact that, even though I am only celebrating my second anniversary of reconciling with Augustine, I was born with a profoundly deprived nature deeply ingrained Augustinian view of the world.

Basically, Josh would say that when I think about sin I am off by myself with three Augustine-lovers somewhere in sight, and the rest of the world in in, well, wherever it is that the rest of the non-Augustinian world is.

I think of the world as God, and degrees of not-God. I think of sin as everything that decreases the God and increases the not-God1.

The presence of sin in the world is so obvious to me that I simply cannot understand those who do not see things this way. It does not matter whether you tend to think of things in terms of original sin or structural sin (I personally embrace believe in both!), that which is not-Good, not-Beautiful, not-God–however you choose to think of it–is so clearly real. No matter how “good” I am, I will always live in a world that is burdened by sin. All will be well, but in my little human life there still remain huge gaps of non-wellness. And so talking about sin is quite natural and almost causal for me.

But then whenever I dare to hint at it (and I do typically feel as though I am only hinting) people misunderstand and are even offended that I could imply that they might possibly be sinning! I am then struck with a double-confusion: first I am typically writing about myself, and so do not know why others imagine that I was implying that they are sinning, and secondly I do not understand why anyone should be surprised to find sin in her life when it so clearly permeates all of our lives.

My view of hell and damnation follows quite naturally from my view of sin. I believe that hell is real. I also believe that God is willing that none should perish, and that God’s willing is infinitely more powerful than any human insufficiency. So I am one of those who believes in a very real, very empty hell. It is incomprehensible to me that any of my readers might possibly be in danger of damnation.

Yet I know that hell is the absolute absence of God. And in my own life I have been given the gift of awareness of how I bring hell upon myself through my lack of love for God. I am aware of swimming in sin and breathing grace daily.

Which brings me to the fact that I do not think of sin and hell as scary or threatening. I am not scared because only threats are scare me; reality simply is, and this is all reality for me. I am continually aware of God as Love. I dread not the wrath of God, but the sadness of God. I do not relate to God as a parent who might be upset by my failings, but as a lover whose day I want to make a little bit brighter. And oh how very crushing it is to have the one whom we love reject us through apathy!

So I rely on my earthly lover to not only provide an example of how I should love, but also to tell me when others are completely misunderstanding me because they somehow manage to live without a constant consciousness of sin.

And maybe I’ll sit here singing “I’m just an Augustinian girl in a Pelagian world!” while writing a list of all the ways in which I am oh-so-very non-Augustinian.

1. See! There is proof that I am not really Augustinian. It would not make any sense to a real Augustinian to say “increase the not-God!” Take that, Josh! Guess I won’t just accept everything you say after all! Which goes to show that I am not only not Augustinain, I am also non-Monicanian!

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2 Responses to “Sin, Damnation, and Disclaimers”

  1. Dawn Farias 20. Nov, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    “I dread not the wrath of God, but the sadness of God.”

    Totally. And I’m not smart enough to understand the rest of what you said. ‘Spose I need to go do some reading. I think I might have a battered college copy of Confessions around here somewhere. Is that on the right track? 😉

  2. Kacie 22. Nov, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    Great post! My husband Isaac would appreciate this one as well. :) I’ve heard people say that the current Pope is more heavily influenced by Augustian theology such as this than most are…

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