Rightwing pundits keep trying to tell me What’s So Great About Christianity. Well, I think I understand where they’re coming from, now.
In the remote Penza region of Russia, a group of Orthodox Christians has barricaded itself inside an underground bunker to await the Apocalypse, which it believes will come to pass in May next year. Better still, the group contains in its number four children, including an eighteen-month-old baby, who are obliged to await the Apocalypse in temperatures dropping to minus 10 degrees Celsius.
The group has nothing in the way of sound empirical evidence to support the claim that the world will end in May 2008. But that’s OK, because “While reason helps us to discover things about experience, faith helps us discover things that transcend experience.”
And yes, the leader of the cult–under whose orders the Penza group are sitting out the end of the world in an icy cave–may be currently undergoing evaluation in a psychiatric facility, but surely all this means is that he now sees “in color what we previously saw in black and white.” And isn’t this whole episode a demonstration of the fact that “Christianity makes of life a moral drama in which we play a starring role and in which the most ordinary events take on a grand significance?”
And sure, you could always make the argument that these cultists have an ethical duty to look after the welfare of the children in their care–and that this duty involves not indoctrinating them and holding them hostage in below-freezing conditions. But Christians, you see, live sub specie aeternitatis. And isn’t it “better [for those kids] to suffer wrong than to do wrong?” And if the kids die of exposure out there, why should we worry? “The secular person thinks there are two stages for humans: life and death. For the Christian, there are three: life, death, and the life to come. This is why, for the Christian, death is not so terrifying.”
Face it, heathens. The people in that cave in Russia are “pursuing [their] higher destiny as human beings. [They] are becoming what [they] were meant to be,” because Christianity “not only makes us aspire to be better, but it also shows us how to be better.” By barricading oneself in a remote cave to await an event one has no reliable evidence will come to pass, stockpiling weapons, holding children against their will in below-freezing conditions, and threatening to blow oneself and one’s fellows up if anyone tries to intervene.