Wednesday, 18 July 2018

How to answer, and how Not to answer: "Do you believe in God?", or "Are you a Christian?"

Both questions have the same answer, assuming it is true, and that answer is:

Yes! And now let me tell you what I mean by 'God' and 'believe'...

The wrong way to answer this question is:

Well, that all depends on what you mean by 'God' and 'believe'; because you may not mean the same thing as I do by these terms; and in fact there is great variation in usage; and indeed the very possibility of meaning for such terms depends on the conceptual scheme within which these terms are being deployed; and...

(Zzzzzzz... Snore...)

The right way is called witnessing to one's faith. Nowadays this requires courage - in public discourse especially.

Yes, you will necessarily be misunderstood, since an atheist cannot understand God and Believe in the same way as a Christian; since Christian understandings are ruled-out in advance by assumption.

But that is what is required of a Christian: affirmation of faith.

To answer the other way is an evasion. A deniable-evasion, true - but an evasion nonetheless.

Such a person is either too afraid, or too ashamed, publicly to identify himself as a Christian; and while this cowardice may be understandable given the negative sanctions, it is a sin - and the fact needs acknowledging and repenting.

My conversion and the necessity for discernment

When I became a Christian aged 49; under the influence of CS Lewis and following his advice, I simply joined the nearest Church of England congregation, and immediately arranged to be confirmed (I had been baptised as a child).

To help confirmation I joined a discussion group at another CoE church down the road.

At this point I simply accepted that being a Christian meant joining, and pledging obedience to, some church or another; so that whatever I was asked to promise in the confirmation ceremony must be right. Anywhere I disagreed, I must change, and it was my job to work towards church doctrine.

So I found no problem in making the confirmation oaths.

Nowadays, I could not do this; partly because I was very quickly forced into discernment among the profoundly disagreeing, mutually hostile, factions of the Church of England, with the two churches I was attending being on opposite and hostile sides.

(This was very fortunate; because in most places in England all Church of England congregations are on the anti-Christian side; I was lucky enough to have a real Christian Anglican church within a mile of my home.)

This situation of 'my' two churches being on opposite sides of the battle, meant that I personally needed to discern (as a matter of urgency) which side was right and which was wrong. I could not be guided by passive obedience to any external standard without prejudging the issue of whose guidance to follow. Even the theological authorities I selected for guidance disagreed on the litmus test issues. It had to be my decision.

Eventually, this worked-through into my realisation that all conscious Christian faith in modern circumstances just-is based-on individual discernment; which means that the nature of Christian life is not what I used to assume.

When Christian life is based-upon (rooted-in) at least one, major and defining, act of individual discernment; then this means that individual discernment has greater authority than any specific and actual church.

This is an unavoidable fact (under modern conditions), and not an assertion.

And as such, it seems to me that we are all required to use individual discernment in our personal Christian life as much as possible; rather than (as is usual) trying to deny it, and trying to pretend that we are merely living in obedience to external authority.

To put it another way, and despite the many pitfalls and dangers of this path; modern Christians ought-to-be explicit that their primary beliefs derive from a direct relationship with God; and not, therefore, from obedience to any particular institution, denomination, Church.

Of course, developing individual discernment in relation to any specific issue takes time and effort; therefore it is an ongoing process, never completed. And in the meantime we will probably want to make a discernment that 'X' (e.g. a church, a pastor, an author...) is a reasonable source of guidance which we will obey (passively, as it were) for the time-being.

But eventually, Modern Man seems to be called to a Christian faith in which the goal is to test and discern each element for our-selves. And a specific, actual, church or Christian group may help this process - may help it a lot. On the other hand, as with the church I first joined, an actual church may confuse, mislead and corrupt the Christian.

Much depends on local conditions. 

Most people need a group of some sort in order to function in society; but better no congregation than a false church - better a few, perhaps scattered, companions in Christ, than attempted-obedience to a large and powerful bureaucracy whose leadership are strategically net-evil.

Note: This post is, in part, a response to an ongoing discussion at the blog Dark Brightness (which I read regularly, and would recommend). 

I added a further clarification of my position:

My concern is that, in these end times, our psychological need for membership of a group may overwhelm our spiritual need for a *Christian* church; it may be the major temptation, and may be the reason why the devout are perhaps especially vulnerable to Antichrist (as implied by some Biblical prophecies).

It seems that our only defence is to discern well, to learn and practise discernment, and to trust our best and most solid discernment over external authority (*despite* the obvious hazards and dangers of this...)

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

William Arkle understood better than anybody the first and most important metaphysical assumption

Which is that this reality was created by a God whom we can know as our loving parent.

With this understanding in place, and confirmed by our direct intuition; we can then infer many things about the purpose of creation: why God created us, what he wants from us, and more.

Arkle understood this better than anybody I have come across. And he was able to express this understanding very simply and beautifully - for example in his Letter from a Father.

Other philosophers begin from other places, and sooner or later there is always a gaping hole at the centre of their philosophy - and God has to be introduced to hold-things-together, but at this late stage God looks unconvincing; like a place-filler.

But if we can begin by knowing God, as a person; and by experiencing God's love for us each and all; then everything necessary to theism falls-into-place.

(But not the role of Christ... that cannot, or cannot easily, be inferred from the assuimption of a loving Father God - the need for Jesus stems from the nature of pre-existent reality, the constraints upon the Father.)

John Fitzgerald is remembering the martyred Tsar Nicholas II and his family...

...over at Albion Awakening.

Monday, 16 July 2018

The difference between being an atheist; and being a theist but not a Christian

Being an atheist is incoherent and leads to nihilism; not being a Christian means being hope-less.

This difference used to be understood by almost everybody - Christians and non-Christians; but centuries of muddle and evasion have obscured it. A-theism, that is not-believing that there is any god - means that there is no creator, reality is not created, and therefore reality has no meaning or purpose. Stuff just is; and nothing more can be said about it.

That is atheism. And there have been very few genuine atheists up until recently - but there are quite a lot now; and atheism is mandatory in public discourse in the West - which is why things will necessarily collapse.

What about Christianity? We need to understand that - properly understood - Christianity is the only hopeful religion. All men should want Christianity to be true, and if they do not, then that is because they don't understand things. The afterlife of Christianity may not be your idea of perfect happiness, but no other religion is hopeful except by contrast with a miserable mortal existence.

This was obvious in the early years of Christianity - when the only questions were whether or not Jesus was who he claimed and whether he really could deliver on his promises. Everybody at that time, and for a long while afterwards, knew that if Jesus was who he claimed to be, and if he really could deliver his promises of eternal resurrected life in Heaven; then that was better than any known alternative.

The reason for Not being a Christian - for many centuries - was that you didn't believe that Jesus really was the son of God, and/or you didn't believe he really could lead us through death to life everlasting.

This is quite a different situation from what exists here and now, in the modern West. Modern Man is usually an atheist who thinks that Jesus's claims cannot possibly be true. Not that his claims happen to be factually-wrong; but that they are meaningless.

In other words Modern Man is thinking nonsense - because he is trying to argue from incoherent premises in an incoherent reality. In reality, he assumes the un-reality of God, and of creation, and absence of order, meaning, purpose - and from this assertion of ultimate chaos he assumes that Jesus could not be true, because the atheist already-assumes that nothing is true; not really true.

By contrast, for a theist, a religious person, a believer in creation/ order/ meaning/ purpose to deny the truth of Christianity, is a perfectly coherent thing. He is simply saying that Jesus did not really exist, or that he was a fraud/ liar/ madman; that his Heaven is not a real place - and that therefore a less happy, a sad, outcome in life is the best that can realistically be hoped-for: whether that be a Paradise, endless reincarnation, Nirvana, painless unconsciousness, or whatever.

But he would, if he has understanding, know that it would be better if Christianity were true and that he personally could avail himself of its promises.

Christians need to be clear that Jesus's claims were extreme. A Man was claiming to be the Son of God and to have created this world, and much else. These are astonishing claims - and it is not surprising that many or most people did not believe them; even when backed up by what appeared to be amazing miracles, the endorsement of the holiest prophet alive (John the Baptist), by fulfilment of prophecies, by the resurrection. All of these might have been false - there is no 100% sure way of knowing that they were true.

And modern Man has none of these. He has 'historical' reports, which he needs to believe is uniquely and in a special way true (because normally secular history is full of errors and constantly changing its story). And he has intuition - but he also needs to believe that is, or can be, true. He has personal miracles in his own life - but needs to believe that miracles are possible in general, and also that these specific events are miraculous.

Yet there are always alternative explanations for any 'fact', or any 'evidence'. This is the case for science and it is the case for Christianity. Evidence is never ever conclusive and compelling. We must, and always do, believe despite this immovable fact - but the modern ignorant and incompetent belief that evidence should, can (and does!) dictate belief; stands in the path of understanding reality.    

What, then, of evil? What of those who know that Christ's promises are true; but they refuse them? Well, one thing that can be said of such persons (whether they be demons or mortal Men) is that they cannot be happy about their situation and prospects! Not to be Christian need not be insane or incoherent; but it is necessarily miserable.

Someone who is mastered by pride, or resentment, or envy, or is consumed by a lust for sex or inflicting pain... and therefore rejects Heaven, hates God, loathes Jesus and Christians; such a person has rejected everlasting happiness... this may, indeed, be a source of the pride and disdain. Pride i having rejected the 'easy' or 'cowardly' or 'sentimental'... pride at embracing permanent pain. This is a real phenomenon, and I have certainly felt it myself; and seen it in others. 

But we ought to be clear about the options and possibilities; and it seems that many people are not clear; they are incoherent. They deny God but also assert morality and claim to know meaning and purpose; when religious they claim to be unsatisfied by the promises of Christ and to 'prefer' other religions on the false ground that they offer more or better outcomes.

Modern people are the stupidest, the most unrealistic people ever; presumably because they are so dishonest, and think so little, and are so distracted, and refuse to join-up assertions and refuse to acknowledge that this is what they are doing and failing to do. They live in a miasma of half-wishes, half-thoughts, transient feelings, vague hopes.

But the issues are actually clear and simple; and almost everybody used to be able to see the situation and possibilities. Now people see neither.   

My review of the 2018 Chester Mystery Plays

At Albion Awakening, I review the most recent version of the Chester Mystery Plays.

(Above is a pretty-realistic - I think! - depiction of God the Father; holding a plastic drink bottle...)

Discerning God's will about obedience to a Christian Church

When I became a Christian, I had the idea that it was necessary to be a member of some specific church or another: that the Christian life is a church life: that a Christian's job is to be obedient to the True Church.

In other words, the institution came first, and it was my job (as a Christian) to be guided by that external authority. 

The burning question was which church I ought to join. And that I could not decide; because in every direction I turned, the further I went, I more I got a strong and increasing feeling that it was not for me; that it was wrong for m; often that it was actively-harmful to my Christian life. 

So, in the end, my main decision was a matter of whether (or not) to over-ride my intuition not to put myself under the authority of a specific church.

I eventually decided that this negative intuition was probably a divine guidance; and I have continued to believe-so since (which is now more than five years). The implication is that I do not acknowledge the spiritual authority of any church or denomination; but instead regard some of them as sometimes helpful, but sometimes harmful, institutions.

Some specific churches provide valuable Christian resources of direct relevance to my condition; and one of these I support financially and in other small ways. None provide anything that is of specific relevance to my normal Christian living; so I do not attend any church regularly, or engage with any socially.

Of course, I have no idea how other people's deepest intuitions are prompting them - and my own intuitive guidance may change at some point in the future; but the above describes the process by which I reached my current situation.

The only consistent advice I could give would be that there is no deeper validation that one's own strong and sustained intuitions about divine destiny as it applies to you, personally. That 'bottom line' conviction may lead you to subordinate your Christian life to an external authority; or it may not...

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Doorways to Albion - by William Wildblood

An enjoyable piece at Albion Awakening, in which William Wildblood describes some of his favourite English places; including 'The white cliffs of Dover [should read 'Sussex' - see below]', Avebury and Tintangel Castle...

The disappearance of all real institutions - a fact

I keep having the experience of looking-at or thinking-of a church, or school, or job, or place... and realising that - institutionally it has gone. And that it has not been replaced.

A lovely cathedral, a college, an ancient village; some activity like teaching, farming, scholarship, law... I realise that these have gone... What remains is the shell, and the deep, universal spiritual reality - but at the practical, everyday, functional level they are all gone; they have all been replaced by bureaucracy, which is totalitarianism, which is evil.*

Of course, no evil is total because there cannot be pure evil in terms of purpose (it would revert to chaos) - but all of these are now evil (overall, as net-effect, and by intent). They all lack any core, they all serve dishonest expediency; and that is ultimately harnessed to strategic global evil - the demonic agenda.

This is what people, en masse, have chosen; by their rejection of creation, of God, of meaning and purpose, of any spiritual reality.

By their rejection of Jesus. (And this rejection applies to most, almost all, self-identified Christians.) They want other-things more, much-more - stuff, distractions, sex, power; or daydreams of these...

When there is no cohesion or reason - this is what you get, inevitably.

So far, so uncontroversial - for readers of this blog anyway. We all know that this is the case - but what next?

The other realisation that I cannot shake is that this is irreversible. Real, good, functional institutions are not coming back.

Why? Because all evil institutions are self-destroying (sooner or later) - and real institutions have been decisively rejected, even by those who suppose they support them. Essentially nobody lives by the belief that institutions are more important than individuals - least of all those who run the institutions, who have power in them.

(The people who run the institutions, who advocate their priority, in practice - therefore in reality -  are merely serial parasites upon institutions; which they treat as hosts to be sucked dry for personal benefit, then discarded.)

I think that we are heading for a post-institutional future. Like it or not. Meanwhile, the remaining institutions will all be - ever-increasingly - fakes and frauds.

This is a hard teaching! Because it means that all groups, groupings and organisations will be evil; and only individuals and families and close friends will be good.

But that seems already to be the case, pretty much - and where not-yet that is always the trend.

The Good News is that, if all this is correct; God would not put us into such a situation (we would not, as pre-mortal spirits have volunteered for it) without good reason; so there must-be ways that we can and should learn from it, to our benefit.

*Note: To clarify... If we see a beautiful old church, some inspiring countryside, or contemplate a craft such as farming, or profession such as priest, doctor or scientist, or a nation such as England ... the surface may be beautiful, the depths (the myth, or deep history) may be good - but the middleground, the everyday functionality, its explicit purpose, the mission statement and policies, the procedures and processes, and the personnel... these will be already and increasingly evil-orientated and loathsome. 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

I have an inherited indifference to/ dislike of all games/ puzzles and the like

I dislike all forms of games and puzzles - card games, board games, computer games - chess, draughts and the like - quizzes and puzzles whether linguistic, symbolic, mathematical, knowledge based - role playing games, fighting games, questing games...

I have never yet encountered any such thing that failed to leave me stone cold, and induced escalating dysphoria when compelled to participate.

I would much rather do nothing at all, then pass time in such ways. I don't regard this as a virtue; indeed there are several games I would rather like to like: chess, scrabble, crosswords, Dungeons and Dragons... I would like to like them, also, in order to be sociable -  not least with my family...

But nope.

It's not that I regard games as trivial because I spend my time well, either; I waste a really tremendous amount of time... at least, I don't accomplish anything visible or useful with it. 

So far as I know, only my father shares this trait in full - I have never heard of anyone else.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Remission of sins? - wrongness in the Fourth Gospel

When reading the Fourth Gospel, some passages stand-out as wrong.

How these passages got-into the text I am reading is not really important to me - clearly there are many times and ways it could have happened; and equally clearly, when dealing with divinely inspired and sustained texts the normal understandings of secular 'historical' scholarship are inadequate and misleading.

(Mostly, the provenance of error is unknowable because there are an open-ended number of possibilities; it is the provenance of truth which is vital.)

The Fourth Gospel has a form, a method, a shape - overall it is a highly-perfect work, perhaps the most perfect of all sustained works; this means that errors stand out. Furthermore, the gospel is true, and known-as-such; so wrongness stands-out.

From Chapter 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe...

The italicised are wrong, furthermore they are detached from the narrative - which runs straight from verse 20 to verse 24. .

Verse 21: The analogy between the Father sending Jesus, and Jesus sending the disciples, is basically-false.

Verse 22: Jesus has previously explained at length that the Holy Ghost cannot come to the disciples until he has ascended to Heaven - so he cannot breathe the Holy Ghost onto them at this point.

Verse 23: The bald statement that the disciples are being given power to remit/ retain sins (whatever that may mean) is at odds with the rest of the Gospel. The possibility that the disciples be given power over sins, or that such a remission is even necessary or coherent, is in stark contradiction to the overall teaching of this gospel - in the sense of having nothing-to-do-with the rest of the gospel. Furthermore (in this gospel), whenever Jesus says anything as important as this would have been; he always says it several times, in several ways, generally in several places; to ensure it is appreciated and understood.

(Why were these verses wrongly interpolated? Well, at the cost of contradicting the core gospel message; it seems fairly obvious that these verses imply that Jesus ordained his disciples as a priesthood analogous in power and status to himself, and as necessary to salvation. Maybe that explains why they were inserted at some point?...)

The Fourth Gospel is - on the one hand - hard to understand; being expressed in an unfamiliar way; on the other hand it is understandable by anyone who gives it sufficient of the right kind of attention - because it is a window onto universal consciousness.

The fact that the Fourth Gospel is a human product, as well as divine, will not block that possibility - because God is on both sides of the situation: as-it-were present in the text and also as a part of our-selves: present (not in perceptions, not in mental concepts) in the thinking of the real self.

Furthermore; if one is reading the gospel for the best kind of reason - that is, as a kind of meditation/ prayer, for personal and direct knowledge (rather than in order to extract from it rules and regulations for general, public communication and control) -- then the process of understanding, or knowing, is itself of great value and greatly satisfying.

Understanding the Fourth Gospel is not really a finite task that could be done and finished-with; nor is it 'objectively' checkable whether or not the task has been achieved. This is because when talking about the Fourth Gospel - we are only talking about it.

Knowledge comes first - but the communication of knowledge, and its reception, is a different matter altogether.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Albion Besieged - by William Wildblood

At Albion Awakening - an excerpt...

Where do we go from here? The vote to leave the EU was a cry for help and a last-ditch attempt to stop the corruption of the soul of the country and its absorption into a Europe which is itself being taken over by an atheistic, materialistic bureaucracy that recognises nothing of a transcendent nature; indeed, by its policies and ideals actively seeks to suppress anything of that nature...

There are still enough people who realise at some level that something important is being left out of the reckoning and that man cannot live by bread alone. Even though bombarded by materialistic propaganda, seduced by consumerism and cheap entertainment, led astray by the sexual revolution and deprived of any real spiritual education, there remains a core of truth in many people that will not just lie down and die. 

Everything comes down to motivation. Do people really want truth and goodness and beauty or will they rest content with fake imitations of these things as long as they are comfortable, well-fed and entertained?... 

In the popular imagination England saved Europe from Napoleon and she saved Europe from Hitler, and there is some truth in that though obviously she did not do this on her own. Without her allies she would have failed and there is a lesson in that. What she needs to do now, though, is save Europe from itself. 

But if she is to succeed in that she must rediscover a national identity and that must be based on her past, even on an inner mythology that embodies the best of the national spirit, the spirit of the angel that is Albion. 

At the moment, Albion is under siege with few to defend its (his? her?) reality but if we can throw off our besottedness with trivial entertainment and make contact with the depths of the imagination then we will find Albion there waiting for us...

Read the whole thing...

In quest of Primary Thinking/ Final Participation in practice

This may seem to be a paradox; but it seems possible to pursue Primary Thinking/ Final Participation in a deliberate and purposeful fashion - and without falling into the trap of trying (and inevitably failing) to coerce the higher consciousness to a lower agenda.

Primary Thinking must come from the real self - so we need to attend to the real self and strengthen its influence. The real self has its own agenda; and that agenda is intrinsically aligned with Creation - because to think with the real self is to participate in divine creation.

The direction, or subject matter, of primary thinking cannot be imposed; but needs to be recognised - having recognised it, we need to harness our will to that matter. This may be resisted by our lower, contingent selves - since the creation agenda does not pursue this-worldly-expedience or advantage; and may not make much sense to us.

But if we can recognise a spontaneous, inner impulse from the Real Self, then by following that, we may experience more Primary Thinking: more explicit, more frequent, more intense...

This has (apparently, so far as I can judge) happened to me over recent months through my reading of the Fourth Gospel (aka. the Gospel of John). I felt a sustained, inner-derived urge to understand this gospel, above all other scriptures; to understand Jesus in light of this gospel; and I have followed this urge.

And I have reported some of the outcomes in this blog; although the primary outcome was actual direct and wordless experience - the blogging is merely a selective summary, expressed in language.

And this activity has been associated with a considerable increase in Primary Thinking, with a considerable increase in intuitive knowledge. I am now better able to recognise Primary Thinking when it happens, and am able to practise attending to it, taking it seriously, and according it authority.

I now, retrospectively, perceive that this wish to read and re-read the Fourth Gospel, to brood over it, was an impulse coming from my Real Self.

This may be a general lesson. If or when we do feel such an impulse - we should evaluate whether it is from the Real Self; is, perhaps, the Real Self trying to break out from the mass of distractions, false personalities, and evil impulses that make up the everyday mind.

This is something that could only be discovered, not imposed; and perhaps that is a quest that many people could benefit-from? The quest - that is - to discover the subject matter, activity, situation, person or whatever it may be - that their Real Self most deeply and sustainedly wishes to be the medium for its own growth and strengthening.

And having discovered it; do it: pursue this as the medium for theosis, by means of an explicit recognition and prioritising of Primary Thinking.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The book Tolkien wrote especially for Me! The Notion Club Papers, which I am currently re-re-re-etc-reading.

I have been reading it for several days, but only manage to get through a few pages a day because, there is so much to arrest attention and provoke meditation.

Not many people seem to agree with me; few seem to be at all interested by it, and nobody else (so far as I know) is obsessed by it in the way that I am ; but, in a sense, that only makes the fragmentary-book more special, more of a personal possession: a posthumous and secret gift.

England and the World Cup...

At Albion Awakening...

Laws do not lead to an increase of good - but only good motivations (The woman taken in adultery, from the Fourth Gospel)

The whole story of 'the woman taken in adultery' is fascinating (see below); but its core seems to be in the phrase He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

This is contrasted with I think Jesus is Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

So, the essence of what is going on here is the clash between the law: objective and public definitions of behaviour versus subjective, private and motivational facts. When Jesus says that only he that is without sin is entitled to stone the women; he is saying that the motivational state of a person is what makes an act good.

Even when a law comes from Moses, and even when its transgression is certain, and when there is a prescribed punishment... this way of morality is not Good. Jesus is pointing out the evil motivations of the people who want to stone the woman; and on reflection each potential stoner recognises this fact; and recognises that this evil motivation (vengeance, disgust, sadism, lust... whatever it may be) destroys the rightness of inflicting the punishment.

Jesus is not discussing how to set-up a system of justice or how to run a society; he is talking about true morality; and making clear that true morality is Not a matter of having a set of rules and implementing them impartially and with factual correctness.

He is saying, instead, that true morality is a thing of Man, it is about the motivations of Man - and that Good morality is only to be found when a person's motivations are Good.

So, to be good, to do-good, a punishment - or any other kind of judgement - must be Not be 'implemented', but must come from a loving heart, and for the right reasons. Jesus is, here as in many other places, stating that The Law is Not the ultimate authority - but is on fact orthogonal (nothing-intrinsically-to-do-with) to Goodness.

The new dispensation of Jesus is that Goodness comes only from a loving heart: from right-motivation.

John: 8 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life....

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Food/ meat/ flesh versus drink/wine/ water in the fourth gospel

It strikes me that the overall pattern of this 'symbolism ' is for food etc to refer to earthly, mortal love while drink etc refers to post- mortal and Heavenly love.

The emphasis on Jesus eating and feeding is about his love and care for us, in this life; and this is the significance of him sharing a meal withe the disciples after resurrection (continuing concern).

While the passages on drinking (and probably baptism) are about the nature of resurrected Heavenly life, among Jesus's followers.

On top of this are the passages referring to qualitative enhancement of eating and drinking, that Heavenly life is greater in form than this life.

So, eg the Samaritan woman at the well is being told of the greatness of life everlasting in Heaven, for followers of Jesus;  by contrast with what she already believes from her existing religion, and its benefits in her life.

So food etc and drink etc are kinds of love. Drink is is first commandment - love of God (specifically Jesus); food etc is love of neighbour, the second commandment.

Knowing what is being assumed - ie metaphysics

A recurrent problem in discussions is that each side has different assumptions but conducts the argument as if it could be resolved by evidence...

And when any attempt at clarifying thes matter is dealt with by rejecting the attempt as ludicrous 'semantics ' or evasive/ obscurationist philosophizing...

Thus arguments persist indefinitely...

This blocking of metaphysical awareness is a major and extremely successful strategy of demonic evil... It has been at work for centuries and is now very nearly complete.

Why has this happened, why so hard to resist and combat? I think because the comparison of metaphysical assumptions entails intuition, and intuition as the proper basis of thought has been denigrated by almost all institutions.

So, the situation is that the only and necessary answer to perpetual error and ignorance, and manipulation by evil is to build on explicit and intuitively-examined assumptions.

We need to evaluate, with our whole selves, that upon which we have built. And, when found unsatisfactory, change it.

Nothing is more important, here-and-now... But to understand why requires that same metaphysical reform. It's inescapable, and each can only do it for himself.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Paradise versus Heaven - post-mortal life

Heaven is distinctive to Christianity, because Heaven is based upon love, and love requires other person's and beings; love is mutual, dynamic, open-ended, potentially endless...

Whereas, Paradise is self-gratification, that is a world devoted to My gratification.

Paradise excludes Heaven, if Heaven contains persons, because persons are free agents and never can be dedicated to 'My' self-gratification - they have real independence of being.

Heaven is a post-mortal place and state of persons and beings who have aligned with the creator and creation, by affiliation with Jesus Christ and with those who have made this affiliation ( "Christians").

Paradise has one real person only, everything else being under that person's ultimate control.

Heaven is a family of friends and relations, Paradise a tyranny of one Master and many slaves.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Grateful for failures

The most impressive examples of divine providence in my life, were in the way that failures to achieve what I wanted, were so necessary in directing me towards my most vital good fortune. It didn't always seem that way at the time - but in retrospect, it was important that I did not go too far in the wrong direction; I very often needed to be stopped.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Heaven: CS Lewis versus the Fourth Gospel

From the Essay Transposition by CS Lewis.

I believe this doctrine of Transposition provides for most of us a background very much needed for the theological virtue of Hope. We can hope only for what we can desire. And the trouble is that any adult and philosophically respectable notion we can form of Heaven is forced to deny of that state most of the things our nature desires. There is no doubt a blessedly ingenuous faith, a child’s or a savage’s faith which finds no difficulty. It accepts without awkward questionings the harps and golden streets and the family reunions pictured by the hymn writers. Such a faith is deceived, yet, in the deepest sense, not deceived, for while it errs in mistaking symbol for fact, yet it apprehends Heaven as joy and plenitude and love. But it is impossible for most of us. And we must not try, by artifice, to make ourselves more naïf than we are. A man does not “become as a little child” by aping childhood. Hence our notion of Heaven involves perpetual negations: no food, no drink, no sex, no movement, no mirth, no events, no time, no art.

Against all these, to be sure, we set one positive: the vision and enjoyment of God. And since this is an infinite good, we hold (rightly) that it outweighs them all. That is, the reality of the Beatific Vision would or will outweigh, would infinitely outweigh, the reality of the negations. But can our present notion of it outweigh our present notion of them? That is quite a different question. And for most of us at most times the answer is no. How it may be for great saints and mystics I cannot tell. But for others the conception of that Vision is a difficult, precarious, and fugitive extrapolation from a very few and ambiguous moments in our earthly experience, while our idea of the negated natural goods is vivid and persistent, loaded with the memories of a lifetime, built into our nerves and muscles and therefore into our imaginations.

Thus the negatives have, so to speak, an unfair advantage in every competition with the positive. What is worse, their presence – and most when we most resolutely try to suppress or ignore them – vitiates even such a faint and ghostlike notion of the positive as we might have had. The exclusion of the lower goods begins to seem the essential characteristic of the higher good. We feel, if we do not say, that the vision of God will come not to fulfil but to destroy our nature; this bleak fantasy often underlies our very use of such words as “holy” or “pure” or “spiritual.”

We must not allow this to happen if we can possibly prevent it. We must believe – and therefore in some degree imagine – that every negation will be only the reverse side of fulfilling. And we must mean by that the fulfilling, precisely, of our humanity, not our transformation into angels nor our absorption into the Deity. For though we shall be “as the angels” and made “like unto” our Master, I think this means “like with the likeness proper to men” as different instruments that play the same air but each in its own fashion. How far the life of the risen man will be sensory, we do not know. But I surmise that it will differ from the sensory life we know here, not as emptiness differs from water or water from wine, but as a flower differs from a bulb or a cathedral from an architect’s drawing. And it is here that Transposition helps me.

While Transposition is one of Lewis's best and deepest essays; nonetheless I diagree very strongly with some aspects of it; but more to the point - Lewis disagrees strongly with the account of Jesus's teachings in the Fourth Gospel.

The problem is the above passage starts with: any adult and philosophically respectable notion we can form of Heaven. This sets off warning bells! It then parodies the child’s or a savage’s faith - and then conflates the silly with the profound - harps and golden streets and the family reunion. 

But the family is the best, and literal, picture of the nature of reality; and of the pupose of creation.

Then Lewis says what he understand Heaven really-is like: perpetual negations: no food, no drink, no sex, no movement, no mirth, no events, no time, no art. 

Contrast this with the repeated demonstrates in the Fourth Gospel of how the life everlasting is about qualitative enhancements, trasformations of earthly things.

When I read this kind of passage in Christian writers such as Lewis, it becomes clearer to me why Christians through the ages have had trouble in explaining the faith, and making it appealing - and why its joy and Good News are so often obscured. I personally can feel the appeal of the Via Negativa, and its roots in Greek Platonic philosophy; but to the mass of Men, such a life is a real horror and terror.

No wonder that even the simplest depiction of an afterlife in terms of an earthly paradise, have such appeal to so many people. No wonder the appeal of Christianity has so often been in negative terms of escape from a Hell of torment...

Unless and until Christians can know Jesus's message as Good News, and Heaven as a desirable place and situation - we really don't have much of a chance at saving those who need it!