Friday, 11 May 2007

Elpis and the nihilist

Hope is a dangerous thing. Our lord Zeus knew this only too well. That's why he made Pandora close the lid on her jar, just before this most potent of evils could escape. They called it Elpis.

Neitzsche had this to say of the story;

Pandora brought the jar with the evils and opened it. It was the gods' gift to man, on the outside a beautiful, enticing gift, called the "lucky jar." Then all the evils, those lively, winged beings, flew out of it. Since that time, they roam around and do harm to men by day and night. One single evil had not yet slipped out of the jar. As Zeus had wished, Pandora slammed the top down and it remained inside. So now man has the lucky jar in his house forever and thinks the world of the treasure. It is at his service; he reaches for it when he fancies it. For he does not know that that jar which Pandora brought was the jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for the greatest worldly good--it is hope, for Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment.

Even the most rational and 'sane' amongst us hope. Quite what numinous spirit we're trying to evoke in doing so, I'm not so sure. Most frequently we hope for ourselves and those closest to us. Yet sometimes we hope for strangers. Mojoey for example, (an atheist and self identifying existentialist) hoped the other day for the stranger on his flight in the midst of a heart attack. Right now, I'm hoping that the parents of the missing four year old Madeline McCann are reunited with their daughter. Regardless of the mounting odds against them.

Now, I don't want to come over as some amoral parsimonious git, but you have to wonder; am I really hoping that my beautiful Meg never gets abducted? And did Mojey hope that he'd not have a heart attack? I hope he doesn't too, actually. See, there I go again!

So, are our 'altruistic' hopes, nothing more than projections of our own fears and demons?

Many of us find our universe to be arbitrary, pointless and utterly indifferent. I count myself amongst them. Hope, in these respects, must then be a hope against odds and probabilities. For example, we may hope that the paramedic doesn't get held up by traffic (that ultimate randomness), on his way to the RTA victim. We hope that the right people, say the right thing, in the right circumstances to ease the troubles in the Middle East.

Sometimes it seems that our hope has paid off. Madeline may yet be found safe and well. Peace in the Middle East, however unlikely, may well break out. The RTA victim could well be saved.

Of course, it would be ludicrous to think that the power of our collective hope influenced the outcome of these events. Wouldn't it?

Not for those who pray.

Now, I have nothing against prayer per-se. In fact, I think it can be quite beneficial, if only because it helps the person express their problems in a structured manner. This can be a step towards thinking things through.

I do however, have a problem with attributing fortunate outcomes simply to divine intervention. It implies to me, a form of learnt helplessness, nihilism even; that the only action necessary in life is hope.

Out of morbid curiosity, I've been lurking around "The intercession superhighway". Here you can post your own prayer, and harness the "hope power" of others as they repeat your missive to the lord.

Now, as I've said, I don't have a problem with this. In fact, I find myself hoping for some of the poor bastards who tell of their tragic tales. What is chilling about this site however, is the section where people post how their prayers have been answered. Here's a sample;

The infection has been cleared up and the swelling is finally down. Thanks all who have prayed.

MY nephew has been healed by God! Praise his holy name, and thanks so much to you and everyone else who was praying for him. Here I am copying you the bulletin I posted. Thanks to all of you who were praying and asking God to healed my nephew he is out of danger, the infection left, he gets to keep his arm, and he will still need to be under treatment though. Thanks for your prayers

I ask for prayer from every intercessor around the world to start praying for Godly men and women to rule over us in every area of our lifes. In our schools, in our governments, in our police force, and any other place where they excercise authority, and make rules and laws that affect our lives and the lives of our children. It is time for the body of Christ to start taking dominion in this earth. We do it by prayer, and watch the hand of God move. To God be all The Glory.

I have been praying this prayer for about almost a year now. I have seen answere in the form of the judges now sitting on the supreme court. The fact that partial birth abortion is now outlawed. We must now pray for Mexico. They are going to become the abortion capital for the USA thaks to planned parenthood.

Yes, it is amazing, but it seems as if our FAITH is abounding more and more each day...PRAISE YOU LORD JESUS!!!!!

Please keep me in your prayers. I have another interview for a part-time library assistant job next week. Please pray that God would help me to remain calm, confident, & make eye contact.

I recently had an interview from Aegis! :) Praise God!

Thank you to all who have been kind enough to pray for us. Things HAVE gotten better and we are feeling a greater center of peace in the Lord and with the waiting. As always, He is ALL in ALL and ALL we really should desire. Everything else is 'gravy'.

Please pray for me to be blessed with a little more finances, I need my washer fixed and the lock on my door. thank you.

I got my washer machine fixed still waiting on God to send someone to fix my door lock. God is good!!,all the time. amen. (I think someone is taking the piss a bit)

Please pray for me, I have asked the Lord for money to pay off a HELOC and other bills. I have returned to church and finally joined a church after 4 years and want to do right by God in the way of giving. I do not want to lose my house. I believe that God will and can do this, I just need an answer. I have to pay the money by tomorrow.

Pray for Kym & Scott to be able to sell their house, property and businesses - for the Lord to send them someone willing to pay a fair price for it all so they may retire and Kym could move to a less stressful environment. (Hmmn)

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