From Eden to Gethsemane – as Hollywood laughs
The Pirates of the Caribbean star Keira Knightley has joked that being Catholic is a preference. “If only I wasn’t an atheist, I could get away with anything,” she joked. “Just ask for forgiveness and you’d be forgiven. It sounds much better than having to live with guilt.”
Asked if Heaven exists and what would she like to hear God say when she arrives at the Pearly Gates, Hunger Games actress Julianne Moore, a confessed atheist, quips: “Well, I guess you were wrong. I do exist.”
In Celebrities in Hell: A Guide to Hollywood’s Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, author Warren Allen Smith provides biographical sketches of famous people who dared to have dissimilar belief systems, a list of who’s who that includes Marlon Brando, Marlene Dietrich, Christopher Reeve, George Clooney, Jodie Foster, Katharine Hepburn, Woody Allen, Uma Thurman and a host of other megastars idolized by millions.
I sat down, respectfully disallowed others to disturb as I scrutinized the book, and found out that Smith’s book is not about “bad people perceived to go to Hell” but a denial of Hell, as he puts it blatantly: “Hell is a theological invention!”
The denial of a good God logically leads to the denial of the reality of Hell and Heaven. And the denial of Hell is a denial of sin that leads to it.
The existence of Hell’s torments prepared for hardened sinners is held by the Christian world but not by Oscar-winning actor George Clooney. Raised with a deeply practicing Catholic roots in Georgetown, Kentucky, Clooney now is a certified atheist-agnostic. “I used to go to confession every week…,” he told Larry King (February 16, 2006).
The actual existence of sin is being negated. Sins, like adultery and stealing, are not moral acts anymore. There’s no such thing as a transgression of God’s commandments, such as dishonor of parents or bearing false witness against your neighbor.
According to a newfangled way of thinking, there is human weakness, a psycho-emotional frailty, a kind of complex, the likes of which are schizophrenia, messianic or Oedipus complex – or plain and simple human weakness. The AI-robotics-nanotech man, woman and child should not feel guilty because, they say, it is not healthy.
Early this year, the Philippine President lambasted not only the Biblical creation story and the doctrine of Original Sin but also God Himself. “What was the sin? Bakit original?” he asked, “nasa womb ka pa, may kasalanan ka na?”
For him, the Biblical story of a snake tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit is ridiculous. Then Eve in turn gave it to Adam and “so kinain ni Adam. Then malice was born,” he said.
That Adam and Eve committed the first sin, the Original Sin, and that eventually all thinking men and women became prone to sin is outside the radar of belief of Knightley, Moore, Clooney, and all ex-Catholics – but it doesn’t it make untrue.
Today, more than ever, the menace and the moral consequences of sin are undeniable. The intentional poisoning of society by fake news and gossiping, ethnic cleansing and class hatred, massacres, human slavery, dishonor of parents, clerical sex abuse, slander, and EJK in our theoretically “technologically sound” paradise of the Third Millennium – aren’t these symptomatic of a spiritual menace we call sin?
And rivers of blood and oceans of tears in our supposedly civilized society – and a crucified Savior?
The earliest moral case of fratricide can be found in the story of Cain brutally killing his own brother Abel. But Cain would have not done it unless there was an inclination to evil in his soul, would he?
From the Garden of Eden we go to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we find our Blessed Lord on His knees – agonizing in His body, soul and heart the vicious consequences of Adam’s Fall and our own personal sins.
Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God, crushed and brokenhearted while contemplating the heavy weight of the sins of the world, caused Him inexpressible sorrow and pain.
Sins of women, sins of men (rape, shootings and murders, terrorist attacks and the murder of the innocent kids, the worship of money), sins of the past, the present and the future, sins committed in high places, sins done in the dark alleys, wicked designs, yetzer, and more sins – all factual dark realities in our human society.
The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world paid the dear price for this. His sweat, which became noticeable after the agony was over, resembled drops of blood. Medical science calls it hematidrosis.
Let them laugh out loud but, as for me, to know Adam as the source of sin has led me to understand better the most beautiful thing that ever happened to humankind, that is, Jesus as the source of grace and mercycame, tightly embraced me, a sinner, and gave me hope.
Jose Mario Bautista Maximiano ([email protected]) is the author of The Signs of the Times and the Social Doctrine of the Church (Salesiana, 1992) and The Beginning and the End (Claretian, 2016).