Dear Internet Diary,
I was just confronted by a belief I had not yet challenged. Those pesky things can sometimes elude me for years! I'm talking about the belief that Jesus' Suffering was the worst suffering anyone could endure.
I was listening to Julia Sweeney--Pat, from Saturday Night Live. She has a one-woman show called "Letting Go of God." She described the day she realized that there is no God. This suffering concept occurred to her sometime before she realized we all really die, for real. She said she could think of a lot of people that have suffered more, and for much longer, than Jesus supposedly did. Including her brother, who suffered from cancer.
I was shocked and surprised when I heard myself saying, "I never thought of that!" Just one more belief - virus supressed. Makes me wonder how many more of them are floating around in my system!
I have heard of this suffering idea before. I've read that the reason christians do not sacrifice anymore is that they acknowledge Jesus' sacrifice as being final. Any subsequent sacrifice would be vlasphemous to the suffering of Jesus. In this world, Jesus' suffering is kind of like the Speed of Light. We can only hope to approach it, but if you hypothetically could match it, you become it. So Jesus is the Ultimate Suffering, and Suffering Ultimately makes you Jesus. No matter how much pain you are in, you have to acknowledge that Jesus suffered more. That's what makes Christianity immoral. That suffering is holy, therefore as good as it gets. We do not want suffering. We want to get away from suffering. I guess their argument is, the more suffering on earth, the better it will be after death, or something crazy like that.
That would be inconsistent, however, with the idea of God's Grace. We're not supposed to be worthy of heaven, that's why God is so good. You're scum, but God's such a nice guy, if you scratch His back, he won't put throw you into a lake of fire or fill your intestines with parasites. So it doesn't matter, in this doctrine, how much you suffered or if you never suffered at all. What's happening with the hair-shirt, flagellation, and constant guilt people is some kind of just-in-case scenario. You never know when the devil could be tricking you or living inside your flesh, so just a few more punishments could do the trick.
It's all about hating the world, people. But it makes no sense. Human suffering is a fact of life, and some people suffer more than others. We shouldn't have a World Suffering Olympics. We should be trying to end suffering, not canonizing those who suffer. But don't be an asshole and tell POW survivors, or tell sick children that their weekly spinal taps, or chemotherapy vomiting is "nothing special. Now, what Jesus went through, that's suffering."