“If God is dead, anything is possible,” mused Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor in 1880. but it was Friedrich Nietzsche who set himself to the task of showing what that meant in the real world. In 1887 he wrote his Genealogy of Morals, which is the best and clearest introduction to Nietzsche’s life project.
His project was largely to kill conscience or die trying. “The bite of conscience,” he wrote, “like the bite of a dog into a stone, is a stupidity.”
Conscience is a word that means “with knowledge”, and we all know its bite can really hurt. It’s that bite Herod Antipas got in the first few verses of this week’s Gospel reading. And it really hurt.