I see this shared a lot, and it’s probably the case that bringing it up is redundant, because my hope is you’ve become so sick of my writing about religious memes that you will never share them again out of simple fear of further boredom. But I wanted to say something extra about this meme, because I think it’s weird.
It’s weird because it is exactly analogous to saying “Some people take insulin because they have diabetes. I don’t have diabetes, so I don’t even need to take insulin!”
The idea that what we should be concerned about is desire and not action, that what separates the preterit from the elect, or the “self-damning” (his word) from the Penns, is some mysterious and unconscious internal purity, is anathema to me.
There’s an old legend I got from a Time Life Enchanted World book, and which I’m telling from memory. The king has to decide which of two warriors is the bravest. One, he learns after research, is completely fearless, like Chinese Gordon, and strides into danger as though contemptuous of death; the other is always terrified, but sucks it up and goes on the most dangerous quests and sallies anyway (like Raoul Wallenberg). It will not blow your mind, I trust, when the king chooses the second warrior. This may be doing violence to the word “bravest,” but it still feels right. What matters is how you play your hand, not just the miracle of being dealt shoot-the-moon cards.
All the people who share Penn’s words–do they disagree with this principle? Do they want us to ignore what we do and dig down to find what we would have done in…what, a state of nature? A hypothetical state of nature that none of us have been in, where no authority figures ever punished or chastised us, and we magically stumbled upon goodness and mercy on our own?
We have different value systems, my friends.