Oh my. Helen Rittelmeyer:
For the record, I think the Tocqueville point is mostly valid: “well-meaning matieralism” does yield a world “which will not corrupt the soul but noiselessly unbend its springs of action.” But that’s not why I think it’s important to have a theological understanding of suffering floating around our political vocabulary. There’s really only one defensible reason why I care (“the will to badass” being an indefensible reason), which is that I think the redemptive power of suffering is a fact about the world; it’s just true.
I don’t want to be mean to Ms. Rittelmeyer, because I don’t want her to like it. But the standards for determining what’s just true here are… elusive. The Tocqueville point is provably false. Wealthier, happier people are more creative and productive. Springs of action are unbent by depression and the demoralization of poverty. I know, I know. Booooring. But it is, as they say, just true. However, there is no second guessing the redemptive power of making things up.