Wednesday, July 16, 2008

For He is Gollum

P.Z. Myers is claiming to have obtained consecrated Hosts as part of his planned acts of desecration and sacrilege, which he still intends to carry out.

Of course, someone capable of this level of idiocy and groundless antagonism is also capable of lying through his teeth. I'm just saying.

But in pondering the whole Myers debacle, I've begun to consider something.

It's true that there is a time and a place for righteous anger, and that this anger is not a sin. But it's also true that the feelings someone like Myers provokes go way beyond righteous anger.

For some, these emotions could end up being just anger, plain and simple, or even wrath. We should guard against that possibility.

For me, though, I'm conscious of a growing awareness that what I really feel for Myers is not anger at all, but pity.

Imagine living your whole life under the illusion that the physical material universe is all that there is, or was, or ever will be. Imagine believing so much in the physical and chemical and biochemical nature of things that you look at a Rembrandt and see only flecks of random paint, which you agree have been arranged in a pattern which your mind has been socially conditioned to find harmonious. Imagine hearing a nineteen-year-old play a very difficult Beethoven piano sonata extraordinarily well and believing only that the action of the hammer on the strings inside the instrument have produced waves of sound which humans tend to find pleasant owing to untold ages of an evolutionary appreciation for the quality of rhythm, and that the phenomenon we call "talent" is really only an accident of genetics combined with sufficient time to practice.

Imagine living your whole life inside your coffin, a coffin of flesh that is quite literally killing you every minute, so that every now and again you erupt in acts of madness and terror no different from those of a man trapped inside a coffin of wood, who however resigned he has become to his fate cannot help moments and fits of scratching in desperation, and begging to be let out.

Such is the life of a man like Myers, and such is the motivation for his angry and hateful writings, his words of writhing imprecation at the God he can't quite allow himself to believe isn't really there.

Anyone who has read Tolkien remembers Gandalf's conversation with Frodo, about why Bilbo didn't kill Gollum when he had the chance. It was pity that stayed his hand, Gandalf says; and later in the books when he, too, meets Gollum Frodo is given the chance to understand. Frodo has imagined Gollum as some relatively powerful agent of evil, some monster who ought to have been struck down when Bilbo had the chance; but he then sees Gollum as he really is: small, weak, fretful, debased, shriveled, empty, hopeless, conniving, petty and carnal. The tragedy is that Gollum thinks he is great, that he is strong, that he is wise, that he is admirable, that he is forceful, that he is a font of wisdom, that he is still capable of powerful actions, that he is highly intelligent, magnanimous, and truly noble.

We should pray in our hearts for P.Z. Myers. For he is Gollum, and the only gift we have left to give such a man is the gift of pity.

1 comment:

Jennifer F. said...

You're so right. I guarantee you that behind his tough facade he does a lot of tossing and turning at night when the idea of his own mortality hits him.

Also, you have to pity a grown man who is spending so much time and effort on this. It's almost more sad from his point of view, that there is nothing sacred about these objects yet he is pouring so much energy into fixating on them, just for the sake of offending people to the applause of 17-year-old commenters with names like proud2Batheist.