I ended my last letter on a hopeful note, lamenting the crude state of your children’s justice and expecting that when I turned my mind to yours, a system as noble as it is elegant would be discovered. Imagine my sadness, Father, the breadth of my disappointment, when I realised that this was not the case. In seeking a system befitting my Father most Supreme, I have found one barely distinguishable from the coarse (if well-intentioned) devices of his children. And Doubt, that ever wily and clever fellow, gleefully led me every step of the way, rejoicing as I agreed with him more and more and growing as my heart sank with sadness.
Naïve and hopeful I began with the basic premise that your justice, while perhaps a little beyond our feeble grasp, was balanced. I went in expecting to find a parity different from the vengeful excuse that exists amongst your children, an additive, complementary balance if you will. I sought a justice that was not simply better than ours in every way, but that was perfect, the ideal realisation of the flawed labours of your children.
My once little friend quickly rid me of any such expectations. With a few questions and some long words he showed me that your balance was just as negative, just as reductive, as the one’s I decried and railed against in my last letter.
Much like your children, the system you employ seems predicated on laws invented at will, with rewards promised for their obedience and punishments levied at their disregard. This disobedience of your laws is termed sin, the very manifestation of evil, and has been the crux of all the history and dogma put forth by the House and its members on the nature of your children. We are told that sin is within us, part of our very beings by virtue of our birth; we are, whether or not we like it, predisposed to displease you. And this disposition is itself born from sin, specifically the sin of the First Brother, Adam. It was for his sin that we were cast out of paradise, for his sin that we suffer daily in this our imperfect world.
It was at this juncture that Doubt stepped in, asking as always his signature question: Why?
My initial answer was swift, as you can imagine. The First Brother had disobeyed an express command from our Father; he had to be punished. I wish I could paint for you the smile that graced my friend’s face at this utterance; it was the very image of triumphant glee. Why? he asked me once again. Why did the First Brother deserve punishment? What purpose did his punishment serve? And perhaps more importantly, why did all his children thenceforth have to carry this burden with them for no other reason than the accident of their births? I had only just condemned the spiteful hearts with which your children justified their want for pain in their brethren; what could I say with regards to you?
I was lost for words, Father. One can understand to an extent the impetus behind some of the choices of your children. We honestly cannot afford to let wrong-doers go without punishment. As I stated in letters past, the world is harsh and cruel; allowing our siblings to run amok would result in such pain and destruction, especially upon the innocent, that we must keep the evil-doers at bay. We must protect ourselves by removing them; we must deter them by hurting them.
But this is not the case with you Father. If one says you cast our first siblings out for protection, one must ask what you were protecting. Your Book states that everything you made, you made for us. You gave us your earth, made us masters over every facet of your creation. Where you then afraid that Adam’s sin would damage the animals? Were you afraid that they would follow in his footsteps, those unthinking brutes that were not made in the image of the most amazing Father ever? If this truly was your intent you would have removed Eve. She fell first; she was the one tempted by You-Know-Who. If your intent was to protect, and perhaps reform, it seems you would have taken her out of the garden, put her in whatever prison a being of your stature could fashion, and educated her on the error of her ways. Instead you waited till she brought Adam down along with her, and then you cast both of them out, with no avenue for warning, no period for lessons. Where in all this is the intent to protect? Your punishment did not protect Adam; it certainly did not reform Eve.
If we say you tried to deter future sin, the question then follows: What did you deter? If the tales are to be believed, this was their first crime, their only crime. Once again, Eve offered a wonderful opportunity for you to manifest the preventive powers of your justice. She fell before Adam. She could have been removed, put, as stated before, in a non-paradise as a sign that disobedience would not go without cost, and then brought back upon her inevitable reformation. Adam would have seen this and known not to trifle with the will of his Father, and Eve? Her very readmission into your garden would have been proof of lessons learned.
As I sat in silence, pondering his words, Doubt pointed out something even more ominous: Your punishment of our first siblings did not simply fail to reform the sinner or deter the good or protect the innocent; it actually made them worse. You took two misguided children, afraid and confused, from a wonderful place of happiness and cast them into the coldest harshest world you could find, cursing them to till the soil without reward and to suffer doing the very first thing you commanded of them. This act seems almost foolish in hindsight, Father, for if your children could sin against you when they had everything, when they had no need to be desperate and selfish and cruel, how could you, a being that knows all, expect that when cast into a world that could turn the best of men into devils they would remain pure?
Anger, I answered. You were angry. We have oft been told of the wrath of the Father; one can only imagine the breadth of such anger at his children’s flagrant disregard for his commandment. And to that Doubt laughed. Anger? he asked. What is anger that my Father should have it? Anger is born of things unexpected, things unwanted. It is at its best therapeutic, at its worst useless. It is what your children, powerless and unable to control themselves, express when they do not get what they want. It is inherently childish and causes nothing but pain and fear to those who receive it. It does no apparent or inherent good, choosing instead to cow people into guilty or unwilling submission. And yet anger was the reason you destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Anger was the reason you flooded the earth. Anger was the reason you allowed pestilence and disease to ravage countless of civilisations the world over. We had sinned and you were angry. You, that knew everything and so could not have been caught by surprise. You, whose plans cannot be upset, who has known the end since the very beginning of time. You, Father, were angry with your children, and so you cursed us. And it was good, because you did it.
And with those last words Doubt struck against me a deadly blow, for this seemed to me to be the centre of your justice: You. It is barely different from that of your children. It does not appear motivated by a need to do any kind of ‘good’, but seems to be driven by an almost childlike motivation to just do. Your punishments have done nothing to help your children. They have not prevented further sins; they have neither protected us from future harm nor reformed us from past crimes. So glaring, in fact, was our lack of reformation that you saw fit to send the Brother-Saviour as an act of sacrifice for the many transgressions of your children, driving home once again the point that we are useless without your help – help, it seems, that took millennia to arrive.
Your justice is not even as good as the idealisation of your children’s crude attempts at better things. It is backed by the nebulous concept of your Will, and the inherent (if not at all apparent) goodness of all that you are. It does nothing but make you seem so loving, and we so terrible. Even your redemption is hollow, for it does not belong to all of your children. The Brother-Saviour and his first apostles stated many times that not all of us, not even most of us, would make it to the Great Upstairs. Like You-Know-Who our punishment lies in the depths of a fiery pit, a pit, we are told, that would last forever. This is the worst punishment of all, for even if one could justify the suffering and pain your children experience here on earth, the one that awaits those that do not have your favour is completely devoid of sense. It is pure pointless suffering. Forever. It does not seek to change, it does not seek to convert; it seeks only to punish. Those that make it there are beyond help, beyond reason, and instead of ending them you would rather they screamed in pain till the end of time. They have, after all, done evil things, and so they must be punished. The Justice of Your Children, your Justice, demands it.
I was crushed after his soft diatribe Father, for I could defend you no more. And to conclude his tirade he put before me a simple verse, culled from your Book and stumbled upon by chance:
“This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering— since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you… inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord…” —2 Thessalonians 1:5-6, 8
This is your Justice, dearest Father, a justice of revenge . And it, as with all things that proceed from you, is good.
With much sadness,
Your Prodigal Son