Poor Nietzsche. Half genius, half insane — and after his untreated syphilis advanced far enough, totally insane.
The trigger for his breakdown was when he saw a horse being beaten. He threw his arms around it, sobbing. He never recovered, and ended his days in an insane asylum.
For all of his attempts to portray himself as a bad boy, Nietzsche (a pencil-necked mouse of a man whose one true love, Lou Salome, refused to sleep with him even once), was in real life anything but. For one thing, he was far too sensitive for his own good, even though he tried to pretend he wasn't sensitive at all. As hard as he tried to not to, he identified with victims, and that's why the horse being beaten broke him.
In one of his writings, "Dionysus vs. the Crucified," Nietzsche wrote about two totally different religions — one based on taking the point of view of the victimizer, and the other that takes the point of view of the victim.
The first religion he correctly identified as pagan, and it has nothing to do with the silly "kinder, gentler" faux-paganism that those repulsed by what Christianity has become are today trying to create (or in their minds, recreate).
The second religion Nietzsche identified as Christian. Although an atheist, he was in some ways more Christian than those who today profess to be. He could at least identify with those victimized, something today, in my opinion, many Christians cannot do.
The pagan god Dionysus, Nietzsche pointed out, was not the god of drinking and partying and having a good time. He was the god of drunken rioting, destruction, and at times tearing people to shreds. And although it sounds counter-intuitive, he was also a fertility god.
We've all seen Dionysus. Every time you see a mob of people rioting and destroying things, and breaking into businesses and carrying off the merchandise and hitting innocent people in the head with bricks, the way Reginald Denny was on the receiving of one, that's Dionysus at his worst.
There are many different myths about Dionysus — apparently each Greek town had its own version — but all of them employed the same concept: a god who is slain — in fact dismembered — and then restored to life. That's one of the reasons he was a fertility god — he died and then was reborn, just as the crops were every year.
Some of the ancient Greeks did engage in drunken destructive festivals, which brought the disapproval of the authorities, who feared revolution. A government afraid of revolution? We can use the Dionysian slaughter of the French Revolution as an example of that fear (if you want to understand ancient myths, look for the modern equivalent).
These drunken destructive orgiastic rites were finally tamed by being turned into plays, such as the ones about Oedipus and Agamemnon. In the original communal festivals, people, after their rioting, felt "cleansed" —then later, after the plays took the festivals' place, the same catharsis sent them home rid of what Aristotle famously called "pity and fear."
One of the most ominous things about these festivals is there was always a scapegoat, one onto which the sins and frustrations of the community were projected. Often they were killed. Later, in the theater, the characters were the scapegoats, only this time they were fictional and died imaginary deaths.
Scapegoating is why today in destructive rioting there are always people — the "oppressors" — who are targeted for attack (sometimes these scapegoats have been dead for hundreds of years, such as the infamous "Dead White Males" responsible for every problem in the U.S., and, indeed, the world).
After the rioting and attacks are over, those involved — however temporarily — feel renewed and rejuvenated, because they have "cleansed" themselves, not of their pity and fear, but their resentment and hate.
This scapegoating is the main thing Nietzsche noticed about Dionysus. All pagan religions, he told us, are Dionysian. They take the point of view of the victimizer; the scapegoats are always guilty and were killed for the utilitarian "greater good."
Christianity, on the other hand, for the first time in history took the point of view of the victim. As the Gospels show, Jesus was the innocent victim, although the religious leaders of the time considered him guilty ("It is expedient that one man should die for the sake of the people").
The Russian writer Dmitri Merejkowski saw the same division that Nietzsche did: he believed all religions could be divided into two basic ones: in the first, Man sacrifices Man to Man. In the second, God sacrifices Himself to Man.
Today, the French philosopher and theologian Rene Girard, author of Violence and the Sacred and Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, is probably the most well-known writer about scapegoating. Not surprisingly, he has been influenced by Nietzsche, whom he considered a prophet. A crazed one, but still a prophet.
Girard thought the function of a scapegoat was to renew society, however imperfectly, and another theologian, Walter Wink, agreed with him, calling it "the myth of redemptive violence," i.e., the world can be reborn through violence.
Girard has suggested scapegoating should have ended with Jesus' sacrifice, because it was the first time in history the scapegoat was considered innocent. Before that, he tells us, people always thought the scapegoats deserved exactly what they got.
The psychiatrist M. Scott Peck said scapegoating is "the genesis of human evil," because when they do it people ignore their own guilt and other flaws and project them onto other people, whom they believe have to be destroyed to rid the world of whom they have defined as evil.
In the 20th Century the Nazis and most especially the Communists (who were far, far worse than the Nazis), were masters at this killing of those they defined as scapegoats, and therefore damned as evil. Each thought their society would be renewed after violently getting rid of their scapegoats.
Each of those ideologies, as Merejkowski wrote, sacrificed Man to Man. And, as Nietzsche predicted, each were worshipers of Dionysus and his destructive frenzies. His observations allowed him to predict the carnage of the 20th Century — and in his opinion, beyond.
I've read estimates of 177 million to 200 million people in the 20th Century killed in various wars. All, ultimately were scapegoats; all, ultimately, were sacrificed to Dionysus.
All this applies to Christians? To some, yes, I believe it does. I've heard them referred to as Christian Zionists, or more insultingly (or maybe just more accurately), Rapture monkeys or Rapture nutters.
I consider these types of Christians to be Christians in name only. CHRINOs, you might say. They do little more than give lip service to the teachings of Jesus, and would be much more honest if they just called themselves Zionists, since many of them think more of Israel than they do of Jesus.
Perhaps I should just call them worshipers of Dionysus.
At first these people, who have cobbled together their beliefs out of unrelated passages in the Bible (courtesy of two itinerant preachers named John Darby and Cyrus Scofield), thought the Soviet Union was the anti-Christ, which was going to invade the Middle East and bring about the end of the world. When that didn't pan out they started pinning their hopes on the Islamic world. First the U.S.S.R. was the scapegoat; now it's Muslims.
What these people hope to do is to kick-start the Apocalypse so Jesus will come back, destroy his enemies — currently Muslims; who knows who's next? — kill about two-third of the Jews in Israel and convert the rest, and then rule over a reborn world. That's why they have to support Israel — they are convinced it's the only way they're going to be Raptured into Heaven. Which means they don't have to first die to get there.
Israel comes first for these people; Jesus, second. They don't know this and certainly wouldn't believe it if told.
Unfortunately, these people are Biblical literalists, and when this idolatry of the written word takes hold of people, it invariably leads to the justification — indeed rationalization — for the worst of crimes.
To describe these "Christians'" doings in one word: Dionysus. These people want the world to erupt in slaughter, disease, starvation and war —the ultimate party hosted by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — so their scapegoats will be destroyed, and then the world reborn. If that's not worshiping Dionysus in the worst possible way, then what is?
Dionysus belongs to what Mircea Eliade called "the myth of the eternal return." This myth has roots in non-Christian classical civilization, and in it the creation of society is followed by the degeneration of it and then by regeneration.
This notion helped the ancients deal with the uncertainty of the future, just as it helps CHRINOs deal with our uncertain future. Although, in their minds, there is nothing uncertain about it.
The writers I've quoted are telling us when certain groups of people believe society (or the world) is degenerating, a scapegoat must be found and destroyed (currently, the Islamic world, followed by the entire world), so society can be regenerated (the return of Jesus).
I doubt any of these CHRINOs has any conscious understanding that they worship a Greek god and also believe in a pagan concept — the Myth of the Eternal Return. Or, better yet, that they are scapegoaters par excellence, since they want to sacrifice the entire world, not just a goat, the way the ancient Hebrews did.
CHRINOs want to blood-sacrifice to their God millions of Muslims, Jews and Christians who do not believe as they do — in fact, everyone who does not believe as they do.
The most perverse things about these CHRINOs is that, contrary to what they so fervently tell us, they no longer believe in the sacrifice of Jesus.
If they really believed Jesus took the sins of the world onto himself to appease the wrath of God (and this belief is courtesy of St. Anselm), they wouldn't want to visit their own sins — their Dionysian slaughter and death/rebirth — onto the world. They wouldn't have replaced Jesus with Dionysus.
They wouldn't have sought political power (defined by Jesus as Satanic in one of his Temptations) in their attempts to start Holy World War I in the Middle East, or helped put into office George Bush (whose favorite "philosopher," Jesus Christ, apparently personally told him it was okay to start two unnecessary wars).
The political power of these people can be crushing. Bush once criticized something Israel did, and he received 10,000 angry emails from them. He never made that mistake again.
That's the rub. These people would just be harmless crackpots except for the fact they have gained such political influence they used the power of the State to start two wars, both still ongoing and with no end in sight.
These CHRINOs, with their lust for their "Left Behind" best-sellers, don't want to be around when the hammer comes down. They want to avoid the riots and dwell in their fiction until they get wafted up into Heaven — the Rapture — so all the unsaved can suffer the Tribulation. They want the world to end and be regenerated but expect to be watching it from on high. They don't want to experience the drunken rioting and destruction, the wars and disease and starvation.
Instead they want to read about those things vicariously, the way the Greeks had their Dionysian festivals turned into theater, then instead of going home purged of pity and fear, they expect to leave the theater permanently.
In fact, they appear to have no pity at all, but a lot of fear, which they have purged through their delusions. Perhaps they are also engaging in some gloating and self-righteousness, too. (Aristotle noticed their attitude in his Poetics, when he wrote, "If an enemy kills an enemy, there is nothing to excite pity either in the act or the intention... ")
I am not familiar with any belief in the history of the world to rival this perversion of Christianity, this replacing of Jesus with Dionysus.
CHRINOs have no guilt over what they expect, and indeed, they should be consumed with it, and as such, give up their beliefs. Where is their contrition, their sorrow for what they believe and want? It doesn't exist. They have no empathy for the innocent. They take the point of view of the victimizer, not the victim.
Instead, they believe they are innocent, their hands free of blood, because to them it's God's will. And they don't want to see it any other way.
When the Rapture and Tribulation do not happen (being that both are unbiblical), how are these people going to atone for what they've done? They won't. Instead of accepting responsibility they will instead find scapegoats and turn on them. But who will it be? That I don't know. Their own leaders, like obese blasphemer John Hagee? I certainly hope so.
Jacques Barzun, in his book, From Dawn to Decadence, wrote, "When people see futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent. The term is not a slur; it is a technical label. A decadent culture offers opportunities chiefly to the satirist... "
Since what CHRINOs believe is both futile and absurd, it is not only decadent, but a parody of Christianity. That is why it is so easy to mock it. I'd have to describe these people the way Erasmus did in his time: "Christians... enslaved by blindness and ignorance."
I close with something Girard wrote in Violence and the Sacred: "Men can dispose of their violence more efficiently if they regard the process not as something emanating from within themselves, but as a necessity imposed from without... violence and the sacred are inseparable... violence seeks shelter in religion."