Nearly all the nice people have long since abandoned Christianity; there are only more-or-less nasty people remaining (among whom I count myself).
Luckily, this doesn't matter - at least, nastiness doesn't matter in the ways that really matter.
Jesus was, of course - overall - a nasty person. He had his nice moments; but for the nice people he would certainly have seemed nasty. Jesus was, indeed, loathed and feared by the nice people of his era; because he upset and insulted people; he made others unhappy, miserable and afraid; he gratuitously stirred-up trouble of many kinds.
And Jesus had that defining nasty quality of not being bothered what other people thought of him.
The terrible, nowadays fatal, weakness of nice people is that they need to be regarded as nice by other people; their self-image is an internalisation of other people. Niceness is a deep conformity.
Yet here and now; our society has made it impossible for Christians to be nice; the great mass of culture has put us into a position in which to remain Christian is to be seen as nasty. Modernity has engineered multiple, sequential situations by which each Christian is 'put on the spot', where openly being Christian is regarded as nasty.
This only applies to Christians; because when those of other religions are isolated, put on the spot, and required to defend their religion - other people feel sorry for them. They are seen as victims. People from other religions are regarded as only superficially nasty, but deep-down they are always nice. Misguided, but still nice.
But people do Not feel sorry for Christians, because Christians are regarded as deep-down nasty. Therefore, Christians don't have to do anything much at all, in order to be seen as nasty.
For nice people this situation is intolerable. When put on the spot, they will capitulate - because when niceness is the core virtue, not to capitulate is nasty, in their own eyes.
Nice people therefore cannot accept that our society has become evil; that the masses are evil; that people running society, both churches and other institutions, are evil. And evil not in the usual mixed way, but strategically evil by intent. For nice people; it is just nasty to regard the Archbishop of Canterbury, the BBC, Oxford University, the European Union, the United Nations - as purposively evil.
Nice people cannot even entertain the hypothesis that these entities are evil, that our mainstream society is evil; for them, such ideas are necessarily paranoid, and ultimately therefore projected by nasty-folk: for them, to impute evil to the authorities and the masses is literally intolerable.
Such ideas are simply Not Thought. It is as-if basic-niceness is a Law of Nature, that must apply to all times and places and peoples.
It is a psychological necessity for nice people to believe that nearly everybodyand everything, everywhere is basically nice and well-motivated. Consequently, for nice people; the only true, deep, genuine nastiness is to assert that most people and institutions are corrupt and wicked, that our laws and regulations are intended to encourage evil and destroy Good.
We can say that for many earlier generations it was possible for nice people to be Christians; but that no longer applies.
Nice people cannot now be Christians. Here and now; all Christians are nasty; and any nice person that is currently Christian is destined to leave the faith, sooner or later, and probably very soon.
Which is not to say, far from it, that all nasty people are Christians! But to assert that real and solid Christians will henceforth be drawn from the population of nasties.
Thus will the Christian prophecies be fulfilled; and real Christians will be seen as an evil minority of nasty individuals; while the numerous nice Antichrists will assume the official mantle of the Christian churches, and all other species of moral leadership.
Jesus was nasty! Classic Bruce Charlton and so completely true and to the point! " I come to bring a sword not peace."
@William. Glad you appreciate it! Of course to the mainstream modern sensibility, nastiness is a plus.
The media and the general public push the illusion that Christians are obligated to be nice - meaning uber-tolerant, compromising doormats who are mandated to let everyone and everything just walk all over them. And if they don't, then they are somehow not real Christians.
I believe part of this purposive confusion stems from a conflation of Good and nice - that being Good necessarily entails being nice. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Jesus was always Good, which necessarily meant that He was not always nice. Good is opposed to evil, always, yet the media and most modern people seem to believe Christians have a duty to find reconciliation with evil. If they fail to do so, they are regarded as nasty, as Jesus was.
Christians should focus on the Good and on love. These are virtues. Being nice is not. Being Good and facing the world with love requires one be nasty when required, especially when confronting evil. A Christian can be "gentlemanly", polite, and perhaps even civil when confronting by evil, but nice? Christians need to wake up and stop allowing themselves to be held hostage by nonsense like being nice.
@Francis - "Jesus was always Good, which necessarily meant that He was not always nice. "
In a nutshell...
I have to admit that all this is easy for me to say - as I am Not a nice person.
Yes, spot on. This was a big theme in Iris Murdoch's work, flagged up particularly well in her aptly titled 1968 novel, 'The Nice and the Good' and also 'A Fairly Honourable Defeat' (1970) where she basically skins the 'nice' alive.
As far as I am aware I have not been described as nice for many years. I've been called lots of other things but not that, thank God. So whatever else has gone wrong in my life, I am greateful and glad to be apparently at least getting this right. Not to be 'a nice person' is, as you say, an absolute prerequisite for a spiritually serious person today.
Bards, shamans, etc, must also never be 'nice.' That would represent an intolerable slide into middle classness.
Good post. Good work.
To be nice is to be lukewarm and so to spat out, spiritually speaking. Or so the book of Revelation tells us.
@John - I think the thing is to be nasty and also on the right side - so I wouldn't include Iris M! I find that accurate negative critique just isn't sufficient, even when well done; at least it isn't nowadays.
Iris Murdoch did do some extremely effective portrayals of niceness, and A Fairly Honourable Defeat is one of her best. Unfortunately, I find that I just can't read her stuff anymore. My past enthusiasm for, and subsequent inability to read, Nabokov has followed the same trajectory.
IM always left a nasty taste for me, including her philosophy - even when I was young; with the exception of her first novel, Under the Net; which I greatly liked as a young man. I think Murdoch was always essentially an unrepenting Bad Person, at heart (as usual, corrupted from and by her sexuality); and - unsurprisingly - this affected everything she wrote, even/ esepcially when she strived to discuss and depict morality.
I agree with Bruce about IM. I read and enjoyed some of her books in the 80s and thought they showed a good deal of insight but it was all just intellectualised.
Then I saw a video of her interviewing the philosopher Krishnamurti who basically taught a kind of Buddhism for the 20th century.She just didn't understand him at all even though he exemplified the essence of the ideas she wrote about! She actually seemed rather dense and I realised that her books are just theoretical posturing.
This post is of course a restatement, in twenty-first century prose, of the theme of Blake's Everlasting Gospel, https://www.bartleby.com/236/58.html, which is full of flashes of inspiration but never attained a publishable form.
I have trouble accepting "nasty" as the mot juste, though I do understand that you want an antonym of "nice". What about obstinate or recalcitrant or difficult ?
this was incredibly prescient given what happened the year after. it not only became more true, but undeniable.
@llo - Thanks. I did 'call' the global coup of early 2020, in terms of its methods if not supposed-cause - https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2019/11/apocalypse-now.html - unfortunately my record is rather spoiled by the fact that I have also called several other things that *didn't* happen!
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