This week, Pat Robertson expressed an opinion about the earthquake in Haiti.
Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it … They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. … They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to god and out of this tragedy …
Lots of people are writing about this. Including progressive Christians who make the fairly obvious point that Pat Robertson is an asshole. That this is not "good" or "my" or "loving" Christianity.
But, what has my left eyeball rolling around like a unicycle for thetans, is that this isn’t any kind of Christianity. The world in Pat Robertson’s head must have the silliest rules ever. I think he’s a Calvinist Animist from the Conan universe. I think his god has been drinking.
1) Who the Fuck is "Haiti"?
There’s this country of about nine million people, founded on genocide 500 years ago, then re-founded as a slave market and molasses factory. After the uprising there were constant colonial and civil wars. Between different tribes, euros and mercenaries. The Island of Saint Domingue solidified into Haiti and the DR decades later.
In 1791, one group of rebels stabbed a goat.
In Pat Robertson’s world, this act of barbecue means every single person who lives on that island, forever, is legally bound to Satan.
How do you get that kind of authority? In the Old Testament, even a King of Israel was punished personally. For the Nation to be corrupt, it had to be clear that they were all falling away. Even then, they were punished at the time. God never rang the doorbell 100 years later to say "GREAT GRANDSON OF COW FUCKER! EAT LIGHTNING!"
I wonder how many times Pat has used the word "Sodom." He can’t possibly have read the story.
Then Abraham approached [the LORD] and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. … Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?
The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake." …
Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?"
He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."
Pat Robertson’s god would call YHWH a pussy.
This is all assuming you throw out the New Testament. Because …
2) Who the Fuck is "The Devil"?
This guy is what you would call a composite character. Without Jesus and Revelations clarifying things, the Serpent of Eden is just a snake. The character in the Book of Job could possibly be squared with the snake as God’s in-house provocateur. If you squint. Moloch and other foreign gods are completely alien to this. So Christ meeting the Adversary in the desert and the Apostles warning about Satan’s universal nature and influence … you need that to get a Devil.
But the Devil can not do what Pat Robertson requires of him.
Hell in the gospels is explicitly individual. As is deviancy from God. As is demonic possession. Christ warns people not to stand behind the beliefs of their family or tribe, because their own conscience will be examined by God and is vulnerable to temptation. No one’s action can damn or save "their people."
Individual ethics are up there with "forgiveness" and "renouncing wealth" as things Pat Robertson rejects. But with those go his Devil.
So I’m not sure who Haiti’s angry farmers would bargain with, at the price of someone’s running water and children later.
3) How the Fuck Would "Haiti" "turn to God"?
Original Sin doesn’t work that way. Because that’s the only basis for anyone being inherently guilty. And it doesn’t work that way. First of all, it can’t be recast by human action, on account of, and I’m quoting here, "a flaming sword."
It beats Paper.
A world where Haiti has its own separate relationship to God is a world of several gods. If you can cross a border or be born into tribe X, and be governed by different rules for grace and punishment than someone else, then that arrangement, that separate face of god, is a new world. You are back to leaving dead animals at the treeline to appease Bob, the Hobgoblin.
Most pagans 2500 years ago didn’t travel much. So they weren’t globally aware of just how many gods there must be. Nor did they have the time or incentive to think about what it meant if every tribe claimed a father spirit, and every lake got its own nyad. Awareness of that makes Robertson’s world surreal. The only parallel, in tone, is to modern fiction. With his certainty about the relative rules, he’s way more American Gods than Gilgamesh, and way more Conan than anything.
Conan: What gods do you pray to?
Subotai: I pray to the Four Winds… and you?
Conan: To Crom… but I seldom pray to him, he doesn’t listen.
Subotai: [chuckles] What good is he then?
Conan: He is strong! If I die, he will ask me, "What is the riddle of steel?" If I don’t know it, he will cast me out of Valhalla and laugh at me. That’s Crom, strong on his mountain!
Subotai: Ah, my god is greater.
Conan: [chuckles] Crom laughs at your four winds. He laughs from his mountain.
Subotai: My god is stronger. He is the everlasting sky! Your god lives underneath him.
Maybe President Preval should import, curse, and punch a camel in the face. I know he’s busy trying to clear the roads for trucks carrying food and water, and to bury his dead relatives. But since leadership in Pat’s universe revolves around bullshit with animals in the woods, It’s clear he’s falling down on the job.
6) Does Morality Exist?
In a world where someone 200 years ago bones a witch and you experience earthquakes, are there any ethics?
Best case scenario: moral choices can be made once, and god is easy to manipulate. Since he respects the borders we draw, and considers people born into certain sins depending on the politics of their grandfathers, I could save you all from sin right now.
We charter a boat and find an uninhabited island in the Pacific. Hell, we can find one with some natives or Muslims in Indonesia. Kill them all, then quickly put their bodies on a raft and push them away. The island thus empty, we declare it a new country. Then we get together and yell JESUS FOREVER NO TAKEBACKS! Put our fingers on our noses, spin around three times. Boil a monkey. Whatever.
Presumably, centuries would pass. Our descendants would include as many decent people, saints, pedophiles and jerks as anywhere else. But a cushion of grace would deflect all bad weather, disease, crop cycles, and skin rashes. If the god we created by founding a new country has a Heaven, all those people would go to it.
In fact, you could say that collective punishment is very nihilist. The only way to stay sane is to be ignorant of it. If you know your own personal actions are meaningless in the eyes of god, and can rationally see the world as one big machine for dicking with you, I don’t know if your world is better off than one that has free agency, but also bad weather.
I know which one is easier to talk about on television.
Oh, and it was either The First Republic or Napoleon I, depending on who’s counting. Though, way to slip and name the guy who backed the Confederacy. Pat probably thinks the Scots rose up under George Wallace. His head is filled with tiny oiled potatoes. I’d like to dropkick him.