On Finding One’s Own Way to Hell

“If any man err from the right way, it is his own misfortune, no injury to thee; nor therefore art thou to punish him in the things of this life because thou supposest he will be miserable in that which is to come.”  

John Locke, “Letter Concerning Toleration” (1689)

“If I should attempt to characterize the Democratic party in the most general way possible consistent with accuracy, I should call it the party of Individual Liberty . . . . It believes in the right of each man to go to heaven or hell in his own way.”

Daniel Greenleaf Thompson, Politics in a Democracy: An Essay (1893)*

I must begin by making clear that I do not believe that Individual Liberty defines the Democratic party of today.  The Democratic party of today stands like Cerberus in defense of the peculiar peccancies of its coddled clients; but it is otherwise modeled on the popular stereotype of the Spanish Inquisition.  Far from believing in the right of each man to go to heaven or hell in his own way, the Democratic party of today requires each man go to hell in the Democratic way.

I am by nature attracted to the old Democratic party.  This is not out of high-minded admiration for the political philosophy of John Locke, but rather out of a congenital dislike of being bossed and a jealous love of my own opinions.  I have an ornery streak.  Added to this is the unsociable indifference with which I can watch all but my nearest and dearest set foot to the highway to Hell.

But experience and reflection have forced me to temper my natural natural anarchism, while study has taught me that John Locke’s tolerance was nothing but dynamite to raze one church and clear ground for another.

The next line in Locke’s “Letter Concerning Toleration” reads: “nobody, therefore, in fine, neither single persons nor churches, nay, nor even commonwealths, have any just title to invade the civil rights and worldly goods of each other upon pretense of religion.”  What Locke actually meant was that deists and atheists should be left in peace to prosper, multiply, and gather strength, until they at last had power sufficient to invade the civil rights and worldly goods of churches and Christians upon the pretense of secular humanism.

Secular humanists do not intolerantly punish a man in the things of this life because they “suppose he will be miserable in that which is to come”.  They do not suppose there is a life to come in which he could be miserable.  Secular humanists intolerantly punish a man in the things of this life because the existence of such a man offends and makes them miserable.

Secular humanism is a fierce orthodoxy and a fierce orthopraxis; but this orthodoxy and orthopraxis has no end outside of itself.


*) Daniel Greenleaf Thompson, Politics in a Democracy: An Essay (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co. 1893), p. 53.

12 thoughts on “On Finding One’s Own Way to Hell

  1. Pingback: The Odd Couple | Winston Scrooge

  2. “What Locke actually meant was that deists and atheists should be left in peace to prosper, multiply, and gather strength, until they at last had power sufficient to invade the civil rights and worldly goods of churches and Christians upon the pretense of secular humanism.”

    Right. We were conned. It is “tolerance for me but not for thee”

    Every country has an official religion, because the law has to allow what is good and forbid what is bad. So it needs an ideology that defines good and bad, and that is a religion.

    So when Christianity stopped being the official religion, the Enlightenment started being the official religion. It was a matter of time that our religion would end up persecuted.

    • Yes, there has to be an official value system and an official reason why that value system isn’t just a convenient fiction.

  3. Go to any leftist website with comment strings, and type in “We are answerable to our Creator, and NOT the government,” and you will see the punishment that secular humanism will put out.

    • Leftists believe we are answerable to Leftists. They think some freak of evolution cause them to be born with a moral sense.

      • Moderate liberal is not a definite category. I’m a moderate liberal by some measures. I wish there was more public land and have a live-and-let-live outlook on life. Many moderate liberals are not woke but they are defenseless against woke. We all seem to be more or less defenseless against woke, but nice moderate liberals are especially defenseless. It’s as if these moderate liberals have AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency) against the virus of Leftism.

  4. People are seldom thinking of themselves they are passing accusations of general intolerance about. My limited and perhaps selective experience is that only Christians and Jews are ever conscious of their own shortcomings and prejudices – and not even a majority of us. When religion is singled out right from the start as something that is deserving of tolerance it should be a red flag, not because the sentiment is not true, but because the speaker, believing himself innocent, is exempting himself from making any changes. It is rather like the many preachers from my day who would begin their Christmas admonishment against materialism by confessing to some small sin of greed of covetousness, to show that they, too, understood this temptation, just like ALL YOU WICKED SINNERS WHO ARE MUCH MUCH WORSE. The technique of copping to a tiny amusing sin of lust or unforgiveness (in the distant past) is a manipulation.
    So the message soon becomes “All the problem is caused by those religious people who are intolerant. We others, not having a religion, can’t possibly be guilty. So you guys should become more like us: irreligious.” A psychiatrist friend used to talk about “the truths people use to lie with.” this is one of those.

    • I agree there is manipulation in the technique you describe, but I not sure what else one can do. I suppose I should not claim to sin in ways I have not, but confessing to small sins in the past can establish sympathy. Maybe the smallness is the problem. A man wrestling with alcohol might be encouraged by the confession of a former drunk, provided the drunk was not censorious, but he would be disgusted by the confession of a tittering former tippler.

      I do not advocate religious tolerance because religion is not (contra Locke) all in your head. Every religion has manifest material expressions, and many of these can be quite obnoxious or offensive. I’m happy to grant every religion some portion of the earth in which its followers can make their own way to heaven or hell, but I don’t wish to see its manifest material expressions in my everyday world. Many years ago, when I was as barely a Christian as it is possible to be, I read a magazine article about Jews who were ridding public squares of Christmas manger scenes. I understand that the manger scene is, to them, obnoxious and offensive; but their removing it (and its subsequent absence) is obnoxious and offensive to me. Intolerable, really.

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