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This is a quote from Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. It is talking about the French Revolution and La Guillotine, but it has s very subtle undertone that applies to more than that era and that machine.

 

[La Guillotine] was the sign of the regeneration of the human race. It superseded the Cross. models of it were worn on breasts from which the Cross was discarded, and it was bowed down to and believed in where the Cross was denied...it was taken to pieces, like a toy-puzzle for a young Devil, and was put together again when the occasion wanted it. it hushed the eloquent, struck down the powerful, abolished the beautiful and good...the name of the strong man of Old Scripture had descended to the chief functionary who worked it; but, so armed, he was stronger than his namesake, and blinder, and tore away the gates of God's own Temple every day.

 

 

First, isn't that beautifully put and very chilling?

And second, could not any vile mechanism, engine, or even an idea that a society propagates, in measures do the same?

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It does give me the chills, but not in a good way. Whereas, he is obviously against the guillotine and believes Satan is behind its power, he also thinks it eroded the power of the cross and weakens heaven's gates. He does seem to be a child of the Age of "Enlightenment." A bit like the children of the 60s -- two steps away from God, sure they're teaching the right direction, and raising others to go even further away.

 

I see this as the first generation to teach univeralism, and see where it has taken us over the decades.

 

Brilliantly worded, but chilling indeed.

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Chilling in a bad way, certainly.

 

Hm. Interesting concept. I guess I didn't take it as him meaning the guillotine eroded the power of the cross, so much as he is showing you France's perspective in a sarcastic way, showing you what he really thinks of the revolution and its ghastly ideals: In the mind of the French the guillotine held more worth than the cross and was worshiped instead of God. They had forgotten the cross and Christianity, and with it forgotten morality and human decency, shearing off the heads--the gates of God's own Temple--of people better than themselves every day. 

 

What about the quote indicated the seedlings of universalism to you?

 

 

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You're absolutely right that Dickens' description could be applied to many other things and be perfectly apt. Dickens used it his way to set the mood he needed for his story. We could the same kind of verbal irony in a completely different description of our own, to generate a similar impression of madness on some other group where madness has broken out. It's happened enough, in the pages of history, and Dickens worried about where it would happen next.

 

His particular use of the guillotine would be particularly effective in his intended audience (the English) because it was a tool that had never been used by his audience, and so pointed squarely at someone else. Yet it might cause some to think, and Dickens needed to make a particularly chilling point. The French aristocracy brought on their revolution by treating its peasant-folk as terribly as the British aristocracy of Dickens' time was treating their own. Dickens greatly feared that what had happened in France could someday happen in England.

 

He'd written quite a number of stories, highlighting the terrible plight of England's poor. In this book, he warned that there could also be consequences. If some of his fellow countrymen couldn't be bothered to care about the poor, they might be persuaded to care about their own necks...

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20 hours ago, Emily Waldorf said:

[La Guillotine] was the sign of the regeneration of the human race. It superseded the Cross. models of it were worn on breasts from which the Cross was discarded, and it was bowed down to and believed in where the Cross was denied...it was taken to pieces, like a toy-puzzle for a young Devil, and was put together again when the occasion wanted it. it hushed the eloquent, struck down the powerful, abolished the beautiful and good...the name of the strong man of Old Scripture had descended to the chief functionary who worked it; but, so armed, he was stronger than his namesake, and blinder, and tore away the gates of God's own Temple every day.

 

 

First, isn't that beautifully put and very chilling?

And second, could not any vile mechanism, engine, or even an idea that a society propagates, in measures do the same?

 

I don't particularly find it beautiful as much as I do wordy.  Sorry.  Neither do I find it chilling, but I do find it sad that so many people worshiped it.

 

And sure, any idea except the gospel could do the same.

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20 hours ago, Emily Waldorf said:

What about the quote indicated the seedlings of universalism to you?

There was always something a little off with Dicken's stories in my mind. Something like the era I grew up in. All the good traits God works in his people, even hell and Satan, but with no mention of God himself. So I did some snooping on him.

 

He was a universalist. Now I see it in his writings.

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    The "Age of Enlightenment"?

    "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"

     (Matthew 6:22&23)

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A very sad reminder of the power of an idea. Something that has occurred over and over in the history of mankind. Consider, survival of the fittest and the theory of evolution influenced both Marx and Hitler. Even though Hitler despised communism, they were both influenced by the same theory - one in targeting superior races, and the other for the evolution of mankind (particularly, mankind's culture - social darwinism). Little known fact, Stalin killed more people than Hitler, and Mao Zedong killed more people than Stalin - but even so, Margaret Sanger and planned parenthood has killed more human fetus' than Hitler and Stalin put together. Eugenics - (birth control, abortion, euthanasia, etc.) is still rampant in our world, and it stems from the same theory. In fact, a little known tidbit of history is that Margaret Sanger targeted African Americans and other people groups she saw as unfit as targets for birth control and abortion - so as to not propagate the unwanted. WSU has a memorial for heroines, and Margaret Sanger actually has a plaque in it that has a quote from her saying, "No child should be unwanted." - but the context was if the child is unwanted, it should not exist. 

 

Modern day la guillotine? ... ... ... "Free love".

 

And it is still affecting us today.

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I think you could argue there are more, yes. C. S. Lewis said the most dangerous ideas are not the ones being argued, but the ones being assumed. For instance, ideas most people assume (whether verbally, mentally, or practically)

 

- that man is basically good

- truth is relative

- it's only bad if you get caught

- it's no big deal if no one else gets hurt

- freedom means no restrictions

.... the list can go on and on... some of these sound nice and we want them to be true, but we know they are not. Others we know are not true, but we act like they are all the time. 

 

Ideas have consequences, even and perhaps especially those we assume and do not actually consider directly. Furthering the previous example of free love, that idea of free love has affected our society in more than just the death count through euthanasia and abortion (f.y.i., euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide used to be legal in the United States only in Oregon. Now it is legal in Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.) Free love has also affected how we approach relationships - think of the break down of the family, the high and rising divorce rate as well as rising cohabitation rates and single-parent households. It's now about 50% of the nation that is made up of single-parent households. It all can be stemmed back to the idea that we should be free to love. It's a wonderful idea, being free to love, but the implications of that idea means freedom from the responsibility of a long-term relationship, freedom from the responsibility of children, freedom from the responsibility of truly caring for the other person's needs above your own... etc. Free to love whom we want degenerated quickly into free to love whom we want when we want wherever we want - ie. no restrictions (going back to freedom means no restrictions...). The decline of the family is tied to the fall of education in America and the rise of many cultural taboos that have now become common place. So many things are interconnected. It can be very depressing considering them all; however, the opposite is also true. 

 

Good and positive things are also powerful and interconnected in our society. It is easy to focus on the guillotines and miss the miracles around us. Britain indeed was in a terrible strait at the time of Dicken's writings, but one of the major movements that brought Britain out of it and into the "Golden era" was the work of people like Williams Wilburforce who worked tirelessly and literally spent his life to do two things. One is commonly known - to stop the slave trade, but the second is less known. He felt called to renew morality and ethics (according to Scriptures) to England. He saw the slave trade ended. He did not see his second goal accomplished, but others came alongside him and after him that continued his crusade, and it led to a revival that did not just spread across England, but it spread across the globe. 

 

We can remember the dismay, and depression of Elijah who felt alone in a nation that had rejected God to follow foreign idols, such as Baal, and even when Elijah performed a great miracle by calling down fire from heaven, he dismayed because the queen sought to end his life for it. However we should not forget that after his despondency, God showed Elijah many mighty things but only revealed himself from within a whisper and comforted Elijah saying He had reserved for himself 7,000 Israelites who had not bowed a knee to any idol. 

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