The laws of karma and retributive justice aren’t actually laws, you know

I’ve been lucky to have never received a chastising letter from an administrator like the one below. A former professor at San Diego State University made a suggestion that a university provost receive an accelerated review — that is not a condemnation, but a recommendation that an impartial committee evaluate his performance — and the provost was a mite bit upset. He responded by asking Jesus to shower him with an unending curse.

I’m thinking that the suggestion for an accelerated review was wise and justified, and maybe there is more to the story than the former professor has made public. The provost has resigned from his position.


  1. chigau (違う) says

    Why is a Christian talking about Karma?
    Is he some kind of heretic?

  2. hemidactylus says


    Hinduism (or dharmic religions in general) and Christianity perhaps share belief in just desert. The outcome for being a bad person differs- reincarnation lower on the scale of life versus eternal prodding with Satan’s pitchfork. Some Christianities believe in free will so the person is responsible for their punishment. Fatalistic Christians assume the reprobate was predestined for hell.

    The quote above assumes free will so is not Calvinist. I do not know how free will is treated with reference to the wheel of life in Hinduism.

    Whether fatalistic or not the just world fallacy is at play in both religions though post death outcomes are incongruous.

    In the Christian version if God grants free will but foresees our outcome, the blame still falls on his shoulders due to omnipotence. He chose the world in which someone pisses off the provost. The provost should be mad at God.

  3. wzrd1 says

    @hemidactylus, it’s been my experience that karma exists in one way.
    When people tire of an asshole’s shit, the backlash is rather severe.

  4. says


    When people tire of an asshole’s shit, the backlash is rather severe.

    Like everyone did of yours?

  5. weylguy says

    It’s called an imprecatory prayer. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the school in question had been Falwell’s Liberty University, but how in hell did this arise at San Diego State? Have religious wingnuts now infiltrated California’s state university system as well?

  6. hemidactylus says

    I may have misspoke on Calvinism as apparently Calvin allowed for some choice, but how much power to influence your eternal fate?

    “ “Man is said to have free will,” wrote Calvin, “because he acts voluntarily, and not by compulsion. This is perfectly true: but why should so small a matter have been dignified with so proud a title?””

    And there seems to be room for a virtue ethics where people might work at changing their engrained characterology. Reminds me a little how Dennett tries to bootstrap a limited form of compatibilist free will (contra Harris). Learn something new every day :-)

    But can we change our predetermined fate?

  7. says

    My father had an old French friend, who used to use the term “Immanent justice” – it has a better ring to it.

    The whole idea that the universe keeps score, somehow, is really amusing. Especially when you see people like Henry Kissinger who live despicable lives and grow old and die surrounded by respectful authoritarian ass-kissers.

  8. Susan Montgomery says

    So, if you try to combine predestination with social contract theory, do you get the Doctrine of Calvin and Hobbes?

  9. blf says

    Does the Doctrine of Calvin and Hobbes combine predestination with social contract theory?

    The mildly deranged penguin, who claims to have taught Calvin all he knows, and also claims to keep Hobbes as a pet Dalek,† says not really. The Doctrine is not known for cheese, or for anti-pea, or indeed for anything beyond the current joke, and is most certainly not known for predestination, causality, or consequences. Whilst not quite a perfect ad hoc system, the Doctrine has far more in common with Situational Ethics or Relative Morality than, say, Right, or Wrong, or even Retrospective Rights & Rongs.

      † Most people would think Calvin is the wannabe-Dalek, but that is just a diversion, says the mildly deranged penguin. He(Calvin) is actually quite mild-mannered, polite, with no signs of megalomaniac intentions, except for a healthy dislike of peas. Hobbes has to be sedated, chained down, and kept in padded isolation, otherwise he tears up the comics pages before embarking on a much more justified annihilation of the Universe.

  10. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    may the my Lord Jesus, shower you with harm and hurt.
    oh, I’m not cursing you, just telling Jesus to do what he promised: to HURT you

    gleefully telling someone they are hoping the police come, and saying they aren’t wishing them to get arrested, is quite contradictory. // Without being a psychologist, I call this “cognitive dissonance”
    nice to he resigned

  11. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    Have religious wingnuts now infiltrated California’s state university system as well?

    In a word? Yes.

    They don’t have to infiltrate. Unlike the wingnuts who deeply believe that liberals should be fired from university positions for being liberal, the vast majority of the left half of the US political spectrum believes that competence in one’s academic speciality should be the determinant of whether or not someone joins the faculty, and once there, one’s willingness to do administrative work to the exclusion of research and teaching has everything to do with advancement. As a result, conservatives get hired all the time, and those who stay long enough to achieve tenure before they announce that they’re sick of the whippersnappers and their carousing and complaining will make a fairly smooth transition into university governance.

    I saw it happen with two different people at two different universities who had no business running any significant portion of any university. They both hated teaching, but had somehow gotten tenure. In both cases they quickly left the teaching behind to those who wanted to do it while they went up the ladder to shout down at the teachers about how they should do it.


  12. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    The Law of Retributive Justice:

    When someone smites you on the cheek, pick up a bludgeon and return the pain and damage to that person a million fold.

    Huh. Well, it may not be a Natural Law, but except for lacking the flamey bits, I guess that is pretty Christian: Call once for the existence of god to get a review and get your flesh seared for a million millennia before re-upping for eternity.

  13. mond says

    I don’t like you and I hope doesn’t like you, but a million times more?

  14. zetopan says

    “So, if you try to combine predestination with social contract theory, do you get the Doctrine of Calvin and Hobbes?”

    Definitely not! The Doctrine of Calvin and Hobbes is far more coherent and reasonable.

  15. zetopan says

    “It amazes, still, how hurtful religious people can be”

    When you claim to have *the* ultimate authority or morals on your side everyone else is horridly immoral no matter how much better they actually are than you. Hence all of the actual crime in the true believers community. Look at the history of religion for outstanding examples, there are even a plethora of current examples readily available.

  16. Hatchetfish says

    Damnit Marcus, you got my hopes up there: I have a Google news alert set for any sign of Henry sparing us his odious presence, thought maybe I’d missed it.

  17. says

    I was impressed by the letter’s passive aggression. “I like you so little that I won’t do anything bad to you to get even, but God will.”

    That sounds vaguely arrogant, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s vagueness.

  18. Bruce H says

    Hey now, the provost specifically said that he was not — I repeat, not — placing a curse upon the professor. Because subtext is not a thing that exists.

  19. unclefrogy says

    it is really funny how so many of the followers of “the Prince of Peace” are so quick with the death threats and curses.
    You might think that they really did not believe much at all.
    uncle frogy