Niels Bohr finally told Einstein "stop telling God what to do", and the government of the Church of Rome is thinking about letting God do what he wants with the souls of unbaptized children. This would make Christian doctrine at least as merciful as some Aboriginal clans who believe the souls of miscarried or stillborn children are transmigrated as koala bears.

Closing down the Limbo of Children is a good thing, but so was the theory's original intent. The Limbo of Children was built in the human imagination by people like Peter Abelard in an attempt to mitigate the cruelty of medieval Christianity. It was a time of absolutes, and the construction of Limbo eased human suffering for mothers and fathers who thought their lost lambs were burning in Hell because they hadn't been baptized.

Limbo is an easy target for the goyim to make fun of, but I have a sentimental attachment for the Limbo of the Fathers, the supposed home of the virtuous pagans who were born, lived and died before the time of Christ. They rest "in Abraham's bosom", with the possible exceptions of Shakespeare's Falstaff and myself, who will sleep in Arthur's.

That first generation of Christians had a problem, as if the Romans weren't enough. If knowledge of Christ was a ticket to Heaven, what about their beloved grandparents, dead these many years, who wouldn't know a Christian from Adam? If you love your grandma, you wouldn't want to see her roasting in Hell with Nero...? The "Virtuous Pagans" teaching solved this psychological problem, and reconciled Heaven with the pagans' Elysian Fields. Imagine the day care, with babies swaddled by Aristotle, toddlers dawdled on the knees of Odysseus-- it would resemble the school of Chiron the Centaur, who taught the Greek heroes on Mount Pelion.

(The Harrowing of Hell, the story of Jesus rescuing the Virtuous Souls of antiquity from the maw of Death, is a later medieval construct that would make a smashing film. If Titian kept painting, I imagine there must be a "Rescue of Spartacus by Christ", which shows the trained warrior and the carpenter comparing scars.)

The Roman Catholic Church, which takes more time to turn around than an ocean liner (just ask Francis of Assisi or John XXIII) is not so much a medieval institution as a cautionary example of the perils of success. That Roman fortress, full of climbers, corruption, and holier-than-thou politicians, has almost no relationship to the human problems of the parish priest. The pedophile scandal shows (again!) how easy it is to hide in a bureaucracy. Still, I suspect that the Vatican's study of theology-- and I'm speaking as a believer-- is not entirely a wasted effort. Theology has been an attempt by the human mind to negotiate our understanding of the unreadable Universe we find ourselves in, and if humans look silly trying to parse the meaning of a disaster or whether God worries about our sex lives, whaddya gonna do? There are some howlers in old Psychology and Physics textbooks as well.


Anonymous said...

I recently heard that the origin of the word and concept of limbo means "hem of heaven." Clearly the early Catholic church was not going to consider that God was without mercy and would allow a baby to be condemned to hell. This is unlike many others who quickly reply that if Jesus is not your pal, you are not ones who will experience eternal bliss.

Regarding those pre-Jesus ancestors? Two points. First, Jesus transfiguration on the mountain indicated that indeed Moses and Abraham were already there (as were Elijah and a few others who were taken there). Secondly, many fine Catholic scholars believe that when Jesus "descended into hell," he did so to lead those OT faithful into heaven. After all, the Messiah was to unite the 12 tribes. If Jesus was the messiah, he accomplished this.

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

I suspect that the focus on OT figures and uniting the 12 Tribes of Israel was due to the ancient authors clinging to their hope of being "special", "Chosen" above all others. Sure, Jesus loves everybody, but the Philistines and the Bambuti pygmies have to get in line behind the Christians and the Jews because really Yeshua loves us best. He just doesn't say so in public, because he's Jesus.
If there is a Hell-- and by Hell, I mean separation from the Divine whatever that is... No one in Heaven will be completely free so long as one soul is still in prison. Either we all get on the train or nobody gets on the train. This is an inclusiveness more in keeping with the Amida Buddha than the resurrected Christ separating sheep from goats. I hate to admit it, but this means we'll have to wait for even Hitler to open the door that's locked on the inside. If a messiah really did harrow hell, he would be the last one out the door and turn the lights out when he left.