Monday, June 06, 2016


The Gandhi Nobody Knows came in over the transom.  The sender laughingly asked if "Richard Grenier" was my nom de plume, because he thought that it sounded a bit like me.  I took that as a compliment, but even if were possible for me to write this well in 2016, I certainly couldn't in 1983 when it was written.  I did recognise it, and was sure I had posted it before but it doesn't show up under search.  Perhaps it was in a larger discussion and it was in a post with many links.

It is slightly more interesting now, because of the Rob Bell's video where he is outraged that any Christian would claim that "Gandhi is in hell." (You will see this portrayed as Bell merely questioning that anyone could be so certain, but watch the video.  He is outraged that one of his heroes is thought unworthy, however carefully he chooses his words.) Bell is more than a little over-certain himself, but I think most Christians would regard Gandhi as some sort of good guy, practically a Christian, and certainly more Christlike than many believers.

The larger question of the Righteous Pagan - of Plato, Akenhaten, Chaucer's Troilus, all those philosophical souls in Dante's Limbo, of Emmet in Narnia - is not as interesting to me as it perhaps should be.  I am much with Lewis on this, that we don't know and it is best not to inquire foolishly into the actions of God. Those charged with setting out doctrines may not have much choice and must consider the import of entire books of the Bible, sometimes down to the level of examining individual verses in comparison with each other.  My blessing on them, as I don't want to do it.

But. Ahem. Gandhi is in no way on that list.  He has been elevated to some Cartoon Gandhi.  Cartoon Gandhi might be in Cartoon Heaven, I suppose. The real one had some real evil in him.


Roy Lofquist said...

"The real one had some real evil in him."

Hear, hear

Sam L. said...

I recall reading somewhere he thought Jews should just let themselves be killed by the Nazis. That would be some "real evil".

Assistant Village Idiot said...

You recall correctly. He thought it would at least be a glorious example.

This from a man somewhat representing a country of half a billion people who he knew the British were not going to kill to the last one, or even very many. The threat of that half a billion - and the British had seen their behavior at religious festivals when they got worked up was the implied threat behind Gandhi's pacifism.

There are a similar number of wooly-headed cliches attributed to the Dalai Lama, but to my mind he's head and shoulders ahead as the go-to guy for Eastern religion in modern times. He sometimes shocks his own followers.

I read once, but have never been able to track down, Ho Chi Minh saying "Had Mohandes been born in a French colony, he would very early have gone to his final destination." Gandhi's moral power was based not on his decency but that of the British.

Edith Hook said...

"Had Mohandes been born in a French colony, he would very early have gone to his final destination."

Or, if Ghandi had stood up to the Japanese when they invaded India.

Texan99 said...

All of us have some real evil in us; that doesn't necessarily tell us much about whether we're on a path to avoid Hell in the end. I think it's possible to hold healthy, defensible views about whether someone's behavior should be lauded or condemned without arrogating to ourselves any firm conclusions about whether that person will ultimately be saved. Seems to me God gave us lots of firm, clear instructions about how to act and how to approach Him, and practically no information about exactly what was going to happen to other people who did or didn't listen to what He had to say on these subjects. So if someone holds Gandhi up to me as an example, I'll probably agree that Gandhi had much to teach me on some subjects, while declining to follow his example on others. I'm never, under any circumstances, going to get into an argument over which of us is most "Christlike." It's not in my job description.