Anthony B. Robinson, a pastor of the United Church of Christ, has an op-ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer discussing the origins of the Iraq war in religious perspective. He points to the role of religious conservatives espousing a dualistic Manichaean worldview, in which the world is starkly divided between good and evil, which are in conflict. Acceptance of the good, the soul, will allow triumph over evil, the body.
Early Christians regarded Manichaeism as heretical precisely because it blinded people to their own capacity for evil and encouraged gross self-deception.
In this account, there is a striking similarity to psychoanalysis, which also posits the capability of each of us to desire or commit that which is viewed as “evil.” Psychoanalysis considers dualism to be a manifestation of the defense mechanisms of splitting an projection. For psychoanalysis, salvation, to use the religious term, arises from acceptance of one’s true nature, of one’s “drive” or desires in all their rich detail. Not being a theologian, I can’t tell how similar this is to the Christian views that Robinson discusses. It appears that for them, as well, the goal is to accept one’s nature while doing right. Perhaps if could be said that, for both psychoanalysis and this version of Christianity, the Kingdom of Evil is Within Us. In any case, the article helps to place the current war, and the so-called Global War Against Terrorism, in a broader moral framework.
December 9th, 2005