Onward and Downward
A sociological view of the death of everything
The Existential Jesus
by John Carroll
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Man was created a rebel,” Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor admonishes the silent Christ in his prison cell, “and how can rebels be happy?” The burden of freedom, the responsibility of finding—or creating—one’s own purpose and meaning without the guidance of authoritative, inherited creeds and values, is too heavy for all but a few. The rest of us cannot endure for long the tensions of uncertainty. We must, at some point, stop questioning, quiet our doubts, turn away from moral and metaphysical inquiry and toward life. Untrammeled skepticism ends in paralysis. This is true of societies as well as of individuals. No purely rational justification can be offered for trust and self-sacrifice. But without them, social life is chaos, a war of all against all.
Until a few hundred years ago, this problem scarcely existed.
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