In a recent post on the other sci-fi blog regarding the Seven Basic Plots, I wrote near the end:
The Tragic Mindset
Note that the deep story of Traveller is tragic: a great interstellar civilization destroys itself (and the surrounding galactic arm!) in a spectacular fashion, after centuries of success and stability.
Fair enough: even the greatest works of Man fall and shatter, or crumble into dust.
But even in the midsts of devastating setbacks, there are other small stories going on: quests, anti-monster operations, voyages, even comedies (often black comedy, true; but even genuine, happy comedies can occur).
But there’s more to tragedy than that… after all, the Works of Man must fail in the end, but that is not true for the Works of God.
Even more interesting: God became Man, so we can redeem this futile world of sin and death, and reach forward to a better world, of life and meaning.
The tragic mindset is perfectly reasonable for pagans, who believe that death (or nothingness/meaningless, or a frozen, unchanging eternity) is the inescapable future of mankind.
It is disappointing to see Christians adopt much the same viewpoint, but it certainly happens.
Instinctively, conservatives gravitate towards pessimism. This is also the outlook of fundamentalists, who are premillennialists, and who do not think any long-term reform can be successful until Jesus comes again literally to set up an international top-down bureaucracy. This is called the millennium. Similarly, the vast majority of Protestants who do not hold pre-millennial position are amillennialists. They teach that no long-term reform of any kind will transform civilization for the better. Martin Luther taught this doctrine emphatically. Generally, the Catholic Church holds to it. So does Eastern orthodoxy. This outlook stretches back to Augustine’s City of God (430). I wrote a book on this: Millennialism and Social Theory (1990).McAuliffe vs. Youngkin: “Too Close to Call!”
Unlike many Christians — including Van Til, a powerful thinker I respect — I don’t believe in defeat for what is good and right, in time and on earth. Christ did not only rise, He rose physically, in a particular time and place on Earth.
The Second Adam is the model: not the First, who knelt to and obeyed a poisonous snake.
Therefore, the world will — after quite some struggle, and more than a few setbacks — become a better, more just, more free, and more prosperous place over time. More ethical and law-abiding, too. It will not be a true paradise until the Second Coming… but it won’t be too far off. L
So I am more like an Earn Your Happy Ending kind of man: from Tough Times (even Tragedy and Defeat) to Repentance and Rebirth, to Learning to Walk… then Run… then Fly.
And Fight too. Successfully.
Most fights – including the key battles – are social, mental, or spiritual. But on occasional, there are physical life-and-death struggles.
It’s best to win those, too. Innocent life is of value, and thieves should be punished.
The physical world matters.
That is one reason why Christ rose physically, not just in spirit.