Thursday, October 06, 2016

Figuring out Duterte's theology (or the lack of it)

I love our president for his candor. In fact, his seemingly disorganized meandering speeches, though at times excessive (I hated his Hitler comparison, but the guy apologized), shows a man of very practical thinking, a man who absconds abstractions. Of course, this does not mean he does not possess the faculty for abstract thinking. The guy is a lawyer and lawyering is one job that requires a very meticulous and logical intellect, but it just seemed that he avoided the rigorous scrutiny of details which leads to, as former VP Binay accused Mar Roxas and Pnoy of,  "analysis paralysis." 

But what I find most interesting about the man is how he disarmed the meddling clerics of different churches and how he virtually shut the door of Malacanang to their faces.

Presidents, because they fear the religious unthinking (not all of them, just the unthinking) mob, have this tendency to listen to theological but highly impractical suggestion of the clerics. 

No go, appointed son of God.
But not Duterte...

It is well known that Duterte is a friend of Pastor Quiboloy, the self proclaimed "appointed son of God" (BTW, I'd love to see his appointment papers) of the Davao based Kingdom of Jesus Christ church. During the campaign period, Quiboloy gave his church's resources to support Duterte's candidacy including his private jets. 

There's no such thing as free lunch, Quiboloy was not doing this for his love of Duterte or to bring glory and praises to his appointed father in heaven, God.  He was expecting to be appointed as a spiritual adviser to Duterte like what the past presidents had done with church and cult leaders who has financed and supported their elections. I don't know if there's even a law that say's a president could have a spiritual adviser, but I guess the position was invented to appease these bloodsucking clerics. Though the title does not mean anything, it does give the holder of the title influence in the government; the card could open doors.

I suppose Quiboloy was after the appointment to give a sense of legitimacy to the outlandish cult he leads. 


Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, Quiboloy's hope was quashed when Duterte didn't even mention his name to thank for during his inaugural speech. Quiboloy was hurt but the elected president stood his ground and rejected any spiritual position for the alleged "appointed son of God."

But Quiboloy and his cult is provincial compared to the Roman Catholic Church. The Church has exerted great influence in government and even played king maker in Philippine politics. The church, because of its antiquated dogmas, has stymied a lot of government programs especially the reproductive health law which after fourteen years of stonewalling, the government finally won under Pnoy's term.

Duterte has made known his contempt of religion from the beginning. The church has always used morality as its primary weapon in criticizing what it perceives to be morally questionable government activities and programs. When it attacked Duterte for his alleged sexual immorality and murders, the president did not flinch instead it engaged the church in mudslinging to the chagrin of many religious Filipinos.

Awkward, Pope!
His blasphemous (to the Catholics) cursing of Pope Francis and his attacks on the church's child sexual molestation cases and how the church has protected its ranks from accountability showed a deep  Nietzschean contempt for organized religion. A contempt rooted from experience.

What does this make of Duterte? Is he an atheist or an anti-theist?

A couple of days ago I saw a video of the president asking where is God? He was talking about the death and the justice. Pain and suffering in the world is one 
question where the Christian religion have difficulty reconciling with God because in the Christian faith God is the absolute. This means that evil, the root of suffering, cannot be given a separate and independent personality which equals God. Though common Christians believe that evil is the enemy of God, the anti-thesis of God, and there's idea that God is in constant battle with Satan, this idea or picture is actually blasphemous because God is the absolute, the ground of being, and there is no other like him or equal to him. 

Photo from ABS CBN.  I hope you guys don't take this
photo down.
This doctrine makes the problem of evil problematic for the Christian faith because the only possible explanation for evil and suffering is that God made it to be. The toned down idea that God allowed suffering just doesn't hold water because it makes God a cruel sadist. 

Anyway, though the president's question seemed impertinent, it does touched real issues. It also show his religious and human side. I could only surmise that he does not accept the mythologies and the bibilicism spewed by the pulpit to bring comfort to the suffering. He is not counting on divine justice for the victims of heinous crime, instead he is offering something concrete for the victims by instituting the death penalty.

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