Obedience Boys All

Adam Gopnik explains how Shakespeare was a law-gospel guy:

Shakespeare also believed in forgiveness in a way that we don’t. Really rotten people get forgiven, in the comedies and romances, at least, in ways that still make us uneasy. In “The Tempest,” “As You Like It,” “Twelfth Night,” bad actors get easy outs. Even Shylock isn’t killed. Dr. Johnson thought the moment when Hamlet delays killing Claudius in order to deprive him of any chance of forgiveness was “too horrible to be read or to be uttered.” We are much more ostentatiously compassionate and much more effectively vindictive. Small incidents of plagiarism end careers—not a rule that Shakespeare himself would have escaped—and sexual sins can place their perpetrators forever beyond the bounds of redemption. In Shakespeare, rotten people do rotten things, but if they stick around and say they’re sorry they are forgiven. By contrast, we feel everyone’s pain, forgive no one’s trespasses.

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9 thoughts on “Obedience Boys All

  1. What would Shakespeare have done with the Clintons? Anthony Weiner? Bill Cosby? Nixon? Not sure Chuck Colson would have made a compelling character for the bard though. I’ll say it again — the fascinating thing to me about European crime drama series is how they struggle with the concept of law apart from any Xian understanding of forgiveness — “much more ostentatiously compassionate and much more effectively vindictive” sums it up pretty well.

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  2. Jesus (paraphrase): I came to release captives, recover sight… free the oppressed

    Us to our souls : Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities…, Who heals all your diseases

    Paul (paraphrase): I pray the eyes of your hearts may be enlightened to know the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe in accordance with the working of the strength of His might; and to be strengthened with that power, according to His glorious might

    https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1680&bih=933&q=pardoned+cartoon&oq=pardoned+cartoon&gs_l=img.3…4738.8528.0.9405.16.10.0.6.6.0.87.797.10.10.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.10.795…0j0i30k1j0i5i30k1j0i24k1j0i10i24k1.OXc8A0OAc1s#tbm=isch&q=pardoned+cartoon+col+2:13-14&imgrc=hoBWg-zfHbsgZM%3A

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  3. I am part of the smug elite, because I didn’t vote for Trump. But then again, I never vote for or against anybody. Not that I think my not voting keeps me loyal to only Christ’s kingdom. But it does seem to me that “the obedience boys” imagine that they are people who have now been so liberated that the antithesis between law and grace does not apply to them.

    To sinners, the demand for absolute righteousness is not good news because we cannot perform it. The law is good, holy, and just. We, however, are not.The good news announces God’s gracious salvation of elect sinners.. The law demands works. Grace gives even the receiving of grace. Law and grace are distinct categories. It may seem pious to say that all of God’s Word is grace but it’s not particularly because when we do that, we tend to turn the good news into bad news. The law never becomes gospel. Those who are justified in Christ are free, by grace, to see ourselves honestly before the law , confess our sins, and to seek to live to Christ.

    America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil. Before the settlers, before the Indians… the evil was there… waiting – William S. Burroughs

    http://idler.co.uk/article/trumpss-victory-is-a-ham-fisted-protest-against-neoliberalism

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  4. To quote Gopnik: “We are much more ostentatiously compassionate and much more effectively vindictive. Small incidents of plagiarism end careers—not a rule that Shakespeare himself would have escaped—and sexual sins can place their perpetrators forever beyond the bounds of redemption. In Shakespeare, rotten people do rotten things, but if they stick around and say they’re sorry they are forgiven. By contrast, we feel everyone’s pain, forgive no one’s trespasses.”

    John Y: Only the elect get their sins forgiven- so I don’t think it is just a matter of sticking around and saying you are sorry. Most people don’t really believe that all of humanity is born guilty and condemned in Adam. So everyone is rotten without the gospel.

    The really rotten sins have changed in contemporary culture. The ostentatiously compassionate send the really rotten sinners to the American prison gulag (the USA has the most non-violent offenders incarcerated than any other nation-state in the world) and then welfare, rehabs or shelters if they are lucky. And then you find the following at the numerous spiritual 12-step programs- to quote David Foster Wallace from his book, INFINITE JEST:

    “And nobody objects for fear of losing the respect of the strong-willed oldtimers who dominate the meetings for the benefit of the “pigeons” who have less than a year of sobriety: Gately’s sponsor Francis (‘Ferocious Francis’) G., the Crocodile that Gately finally got up the juice to ask to be his sponsor, compares the totally optional basic suggestions in Boston AA to, say for instance if you’re going to jump out of an airplane, they ‘suggest’ you wear a parachute. But of course you do what you want. Then he starts laughing until he’s coughing so bad he has to sit down.

    The bitch of the thing is you have to want to. If you don’t want to do as you’re told — I mean as it’s suggested you do — it means that your own personal will is still in control, and Eugenio Martinez over at Ennet House never tires of pointing out that your personal will is the web your Disease sits and spins in, still. The will you call your own ceased to be yours as of who knows how many Substance-drenched years ago. It’s now shot through with the spidered fibrosis of your Disease. His own experience’s term for the Disease is: The Spider. You have to Starve The Spider: you have to surrender your will. This is why most people will Come In and Hang In only after their own entangled will has just about killed them. You have to want to surrender your will to people who know how to Starve The Spider. You have to want to take the suggestions, want to abide by the traditions of anonymity, humility, surrender to the Group conscience. If you don’t obey, nobody will kick you out. They won’t have to. You’ll end up kicking yourself out, if you steer by your own sick will. This is maybe why just about everybody in the White Flag Group tries so hard to be so disgustingly humble, kind, helpful, tactful, cheerful, nonjudgmental, tidy, energetic, sanguine, modest, generous, fair, orderly, patient, tolerant, attentive, truthful. It isn’t like the Group makes them do it. It’s more like that the only people who end up able to hang for serious time in AA are the ones who willingly try to be these things. This is why, to the cynical newcomer or fresh Ennet House resident, serious AAs look like these weird combinations of Gandhi and Mr. Rogers with tattoos and enlarged livers and no teeth who used to beat wives and diddle daughters and now rhapsodize about their bowel movements. It’s all optional; do it or die.”

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  5. btw, the wire video was supposed to convey the bafflement and complexity of contemporary culture, i.e., it’s almost impossible to separate and distinguish the good guys from the bad guys.

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  6. Always appreciated people wrapping up Shakespeare in the amount of words that would fit on a Bazooka Joe comic from the bubble gum…

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