Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Deepak Chopra

Brandon's friend Joshua sent us a video recording of a four-way debate on the reality of Satan. The participants were Deepak Chopra, Mark Driscoll (pastor of an ultra-conservative mega-church in Seattle), and two other people I never heard of, Bishop Carlton Pearson (a former fundamentalist, now a liberal Christian) and Annie Lobert (founder of Hookers For Jesus). This was on ABC's Nightline.

The debate was mildly interesting, but, as with most debates, there was very little (if any) true dialogue--mostly just people talking past each other.

One of the most frustrating elements for me was Chopra's schtick about "there is no good and evil" and "God is higher than good and evil." Of course I've heard it before, and it's not a self consistent idea. Implicit in the use of the terms "higher" or "beyond" is a notion of good vs. bad or at least good vs. less good. If there is such a thing as enlightenment, and if enlightenment is to be sought after, then it must be better than ignorance. Thus enlightenment is good, ignorance is bad.

But I think I may have figured out what Chopra really meant. I think he just wants to take the shame and guilt out of our notion of bad. For him, evil is a reality, but it is not something that anyone can be blamed for. People do bad things, but they shouldn't feel bad about it.

Chopra clearly does want to continue making value judgements (as do all people who say they don't), but he just wants to subtract any feelings of remorse or anger from the equation. We should admit that we do evil things, have evil impulses, etc., and we should change, but we should not have any negative emotions toward evil.

And that's a position I can respect, even though I disagree with it. I just wish he would express himself more clearly.

As for why I disagree: I don't think feelings of remorse and anger are inherently bad or unhealthy. They are unhealthy when they are disproportionate to their cause, or if a person has no way of moving through and past them. But when they are proportional to the actual, intentional evil acts committed, and when they are accepted and worked through, they are a normal, healthy, and appropriate response to the reality of evil. Anyway, that's what I think.

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