Simone Weil and Donald Trump, the world as force and affliction.
Simone Weil wrote during the years leading up to the Second World War. She died in 1943. There is much that is curious and troublesome about her life—and death. She died of starvation by her own hand. Born a Jew, Weil is generally regarded as a Christian mystic. Until the end of her life she refused baptism. I see her as a woman with deep insight into the experiences of force and affliction. We all know who Donald Trump is.
“The Iliad, a poem of force,” her most well-known work, addresses the founding document of Western Civilization. Generally seen as an epic of war and heroes, Weil reads it as an account of what force does to people: those who use force, and those who suffer it. It subjects both to the empire of might.
Whoever does not know just how far necessity and a fickle fortune hold the human soul under their domination cannot treat as his equals, nor love as himself, those whom chance has separated from him by an abyss. The diversity of the limitations to which men are subject creates the illusion that there are different species among them which cannot communicate with one another. Only he who knows the empire of might and knows how not to respect it is capable of love and justice. (p. 181)
We live in an age of force, and contempt for those who suffer it. “Loser” has become a common term of abuse. About the concept of a loser, Weil reminds us that Christ was the greatest “loser” of them all. He lost so that we might be saved.
Weil’s is a heretical reading of the New Testament. Christ is the incarnation of God, come to earth to suffer as men and women suffer, and to die as testimony to this fact. The resurrection, so central to Christianity, is unimportant to her.
If the Gospel omitted all mention of Christ’s Resurrection, faith would be easier for me. The Cross by itself suffices me. (Weil, Letter, p. 55)
Resurrection is not important because Christ represents not God’s power, but his willing weakness, a rejection of all who equate God with might. Instead of being a God of might, God is the one who becomes one with the victims of history.
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