Paul VanderKlay was asked to give some further detail on his comment: when you try to bring heaven down to earth, you bring hell up with it. The discussion begins here, in this video.
Summarizing his comments: In the utopia we want to create, there will be no mosquitos (why did he have to use this as an example?), so we will eradicate these. We come to find this also has the effect of eradicating bees. Well, no problem, they sting. But then what? No pollination, no plants, flowers, fruit, etc. You get the idea. Introducing Jonathan Pageau into his reply: we need to leave room on the margins for things that we don’t like – like mosquitos.
These comments from PVK got me to think further into the matter, going further into some of Pageau’s thoughts. My quick reaction, via a reply at PVK’s channel:
Regarding PVK’s statement: “when you try to bring heaven down to earth, you bring hell up with it.” I understand this in the context of the various utopias we have been peddled, each leading to the death and destruction of millions. But, to dive under this surface, I am going to stumble through this, but perhaps this helps…. Merging a bit of Pageau to get at this
Heaven is, it seems to me, a totalizing system, all inclusive, nothing at the fringe or margin. Only God can know what is good and what is evil, and it is the good that is in heaven and that is heaven. In every meaningful way, all who are in heaven (however one understands this to mean) are included fully. Not to say all are carbon copies of each other; just to say that in all meaningful ways all are fully included.
Bringing such a totalizing system down to earth is not possible because earth is fallen. Inherently, there are fringes with fallen creatures. We do not understand all about all when it comes to good and evil. To eliminate these fringes (as in heaven) requires bringing up hell on those at the fringe. The totalizing system of heaven, brought to earth, is hell for those at the fringes.
Again, sorry for the rambling. Maybe this helps.
I would like to work through this some more. Now, this will require a bit of background for those not following this conversation.
First, we can understand the point of what happens when man attempts to bring heaven down to earth and the resultant hell that is unleashed. Take any “ism” of the last few hundred years, all promising some utopia or another. Each one came to tears, to death, to starvation, to guillotines, to gulags, to death camps, etc.
Communism, socialism, fascism, modern liberalism (growing from the strain of classical liberalism that removed God from view). Each of these “isms,” promised heaven on earth, but instead delivered hell; and, not coincidentally, each in varying degrees excluded Christianity and God. Each of these “isms” also excluded natural law.
Returning now to Pageau: he has described the social system into which the West is moving as one of total inclusivity. For example, he does so here in this video examining a speech given to the ADL by Tim Cook of Apple. Pageau’s video is only about twenty minutes long, and you will listen to it more than once if you listen at all.
Pageau summarizes Cook. There are only two things that matter in this new social system: total inclusivity, and don’t oppose the system. In other words, everything is to be included except those who don’t agree to include everything – these people will be excluded. (As an important aside, while finding room to mention Judaism and Islam, Cook utters not a peep about Christianity in this speech.)
Pageau offers (I don’t recall if it is in the above-mentioned video or in others; he has discussed this many times) that Christianity always leaves room at the margins. One can think of it in terms of leaving grain on the edges of the field for the poor. Another example is how God was angry that David took the census – an act where everyone had to be counted, with none left out.
We can consider today: while not perfectly, Christianity has left room at the margins – those on the periphery of society. One can summarize: we are to love our enemies, care for the poor and sick, defend the weak.
When it comes to humans, imperfect and fallen as we are, there will always be those at the margin. Christianity teaches love toward those at the margin. Man cannot be purified by man; this, then, is respected by Christian teaching.
So now I come to heaven…and hell. Whatever one believes about these terms, I think I can safely say (at least for those who believe something of these terms): in Heaven, it is all good; in hell, it is all evil. Each “system” is a totalizing system, total inclusivity – a utopia, if you will. There is no evil at the margins in heaven, just as there is no good at the margins in hell. There is no margin in either place.
So, why does a totally inclusive system work in heaven (and hell), but not on earth? It works because, unlike man, God truly knows “good” and “evil.” Man does not know perfectly the good nor perfectly the evil. Any attempt to place firm boundaries around what man believes he knows of these can only result in faulty lines – because man is imperfect. Besides, the line between good and evil runs through each one of us – there can be no utopia of good or evil with creatures such as these.
Unlike those who would eradicate mosquitos (or racism, or sexism, or transphobia, or alcoholism, or poverty, or homelessness, etc.), God understands the ramifications of changing one thing, of changing man’s nature. Only God can perfect man. Every being in heaven is complete, fully conforming to the totality of perfection toward the good, just as every being in hell conforms fully to the totality of perfection in evil. This is not to suggest all are equal (one of the follies of utopian earthly “isms”).
So, what happens when man attempts to bring this utopia of heaven down to earth? He brings up hell with it. He cannot change man’s nature – this composite of good and evil; only God can do this. For man, force must be employed, but will only succeed in changing behavior, not nature. Therefore, it takes the most evil among us, those gladly willing to employ force, to bring such change to fruition. Those who are most evil are very good at one thing only: bringing hell on earth.
In every case over the last centuries, when man has attempted to bring about this utopia, hell has followed. We see glimpses of it again in the West in the name of stamping out racism (a term that must be left undefined in order to remain a perpetual weapon): stores are looted, diners can’t eat, individuals are pummeled, comments are censored, people are cancelled – both virtually and in real life.
Fr. Stephen Freeman expands on this point of utopia, speaking of modernity and beginning here. A few snippets (not direct quotes):
People talk about wanting to make the world a better place. You’re not going to make the world a better place; Chesterton said this well before I did. We think this will come through politics. It doesn’t happen – it never has and it never will.
We see the improvements in technology and goods that have come via modernity, and believe ourselves to be able to achieve similar results toward the improvement of man. We cannot bring the Kingdom of God on earth. It is from God, and will come without your help – you can’t bring it on, nor can you stop it from coming.
Man’s attempts will just bring up hell.
More from Fr. Freeman
Those who think the church can be used in the political world have been co-opted. If this is how you think the Church should influence the world, you need to be something other than Orthodox!
I would broaden that to all Christians of all stripes. However, his point is one of size, whereas mine is one of scope.
If you want to use your church to influence politics, go to the Baptists or maybe the Catholics. They might be large enough to influence things in politics – they are much bigger.
“We can’t even get them to spank the Turks.”
Sounds like something an Orthodox Christian would say…and with good reason!