The fool hath said in his heart,
There is no God.
— Authorized Version
And then there is the chattering, more insolent, moron who presumes to speak in His name. That would be Pat Robertson.
— Absolutely Unauthorized Verision
Theodicy is a technical term, a survivor from the days when philosophers and religionists argued the (seeming) paradox of a benign God who created a fallen world. If God is good, why does he permit evil?
Over the centuries, the question has absorbed great minds. Milton’s Paradise Lost, written to “justify the ways of God to men,” is the example nonpareil: theodicy in 12 books and (glorious) iambic pentameter.
It’s an almost archaic inquiry these days, but if anything could revive the subject it might be the puzzling existence, in a putatively benign creation, of Pat Robertson, the egregious televangelist and sometime politico south of the border.
I never thought we’d get a new Paradise Lost out of the paradox of an omniscient Being who tolerates/allows the founder of The 700 Club opening his mouth on a regular basis — Robertson being a scant peg even for the trim matter of a haiku. But after hearing his demented mewling the day after Haiti experienced its earthquake, the world may be ripe for a seminar on this question: Can a merciful Creator co-abide with the mental ejecta of Pat Robertson?
Here was poor Haiti in rack and ruin, with countless thousands dead, the entire country forlorn and in shocked despair, and, with the camera rolling, the “Christian” Robertson rattled on in full high ignorant babble mode about the country “being under a curse” from some ancient “pact with the devil” in the days of Haiti’s founding.
The still-living in that country had yet to lift their dead out from under the rubble, had yet to begin the count of loved ones lost or maimed, and the smug pastor was, in effect, telling them the earthquake was their own fault. A swab of the Dark Ages on 21st-century television.
Who made Pat Robertson God’s press secretary that he should speak for Him? The man is an obnoxious ignoramus, whose gruesome commentary in this case casts a shadow, not on the Deity who can (thank Himself) endure any assault, but on the office of the Presidency of the United States; in that, at one point, the pietistic witling actually shamed that office by running for it.
He, Robertson, fulfills every agitated secularist’s caricature of a “dedicated” Christian. If Pat Robertson didn’t exist, Richard Dawkins (with a little midwifery from Christopher Hitchens) would have to give birth to him.
The “double-take” is mainly confined to cartoons these days, but if you want to experience a full neck-swivel of bewildered astonishment, read or watch (YouTube records everything) Robertson’s exquisite ramblings on Haiti’s “curse” and that long ago “pact” with the devil that — obviously — in Robertson’s eldritch theology, has cost poor Haiti “all that woe.” Soap bubbles have more tact and certainly greater intellectual heft than Pat Robertson.
Robertson’s outburst is pure gold for the “enlightened” secularist view our age holds of the Christian outlook. It will continue to be mined in the late-night monologues, stuff the op-eds of “progressive” papers, and will serve as justifying illustration for the demeaning hostility that is a marked feature of much modern thinking on faith.
Surely some of the charity that is at the centre of the creed Robertson embraces would have inclined him, at an absolute minimum, to the courtesy of silence. I return to the consideration that he once ran for the presidency. If his politics are in the same territory as his theology how did that candidacy even survive its bare announcement? He wouldn’t have won a caucus of the ancient Druids.
What Robertson chillingly calls his mind is an attic of obsolete and ugly demi-thoughts. Unfortunately, for real Christians, and for the even greater number of people with simple good sense, the “pastor” has chosen a very ill time to “share” some of the most feeble of them. In the great rebuke that was once, I believe, administered to a legislator from Kentucky, “he should not be let out of doors, lest he blight the crops.”