Thursday, 31 May 2012

Difference between Western and Eastern Catholic Church - Robert Byron

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From Robert Byron - The Byzantine Achievement, 1929

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The psychological difference between the two Churches lies at bottom in their temporal outlook.

To the Greek, who by nature lives entirely in the present, the conception of future resurrection and future afterlife is obscure. To the Roman it is as clear as his own hand.

The result is that while, for the Roman, the whole impulse of religion is in essence eschatological, woven with the idea of post-human progression, for the Greek it is derived from the desire to seek transfiguration, not in the future, but the present.

The Roman, in this life, is concentrated on the problems of sin and grace: his eyes are fixed on the below; the other world, though parent of his activity, is far off.

For the Greek it is here. He lives in two worlds at once, and his eyes are on the upper of them; the Eucharist is not so much a means of grace as 'a medicine of immortality'.

While in Roman opinion, God became man that man's sins might be forgiven with a view to future immortality, in Greek it was that his human nature might be deified, not in some future state, but now.

This for the Roman the prime function of religion is an ethical one, the regulation of conduct.

For the Greek it is the piercing of the sensory veil, the justification of the divine spark in man with its extraterrestrial affinity, God.

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COMMENT: I'm with the Greek on this.

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Destroying Truth to deny unwanted Christian truths

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It is a simplification, but broadly correct, to regard intellectual anti-Christianity as the root and basis of Leftism.

In other words, Leftism is what you get when anti-Christianitry is rationalized and systemized.

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Because the desire of secular materialists is not to refute Christianity (refutation of something rational has only a temporary effect) but to discard Christianity permanently.

Not to out-argue Christianity but to set it aside without argument.

And to do this by changing the subject for mankind - by changing the nature of public discourse such that Christian claims are rendered un-discussable.

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This has been achieved through the past half century; but at terrible cost: the cost of destroying reason and putting metaphysical assumptions off-limits.

Error is now entrenched and intractable in the public arena.

Professional discourse is bureaucratized.

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Truth talk now is to be found only by active seekers, rarely, in private; and mostly in books not people. 

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Reason versus repentance (reason is useless)

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For much of my life I was a kind of rationalist, using reason, logic, evidence to persuade both in person and in polemical articles.

And the internet is full of such people - in particular the secular Right pins everything on the strategy of reasoned and evidential debate as a way of changing things, of getting good decisions and policies.

Well, it doesn't work - not even a little bit.

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There are many many situations of which I have in-depth knowledge and in which I have been involved - where the rational position is crystal clear and unambiguous; the evidence and logic are irrefutable; the argument is won - yet this makes no difference at all.

And I mean zero difference.

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Evidence, logic, reason - this just isn't how humans work...

(except for short periods of time among a tiny and self-selected elite in specialized domains).

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Certain it is that people do not make sacrifices for the future well being (comfort, peace, safety, security) of their culture and civilization.

(Because if you live for comfort, peace, safety, security - than that is what you live for; and you will not be willing to sacrifice sure and certain, here and now and personal c.p.s.s. for the mere hope of a possible share in future social c.p.s.s.)

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We all know that our civilization is destroying itself actively and purposefully; but we should also know that reason is absolutely definitely and for sure not going to stop this from happening - it will not make any difference at all, may well make matters much worse (by raising antibodies against itself).

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Only one thing could reverse our suicidal trajectory, and that is repentance: an explicit admission (to ourselves and to others) that we were wrong, wrong, wrong.

Wrong, that is, about (pretty much) everything core - everything fundamental and of the greatest relevance.

A seismic upheaval of repentance would be necessary to reverse the massive inertial decline, the multiple self-inflicted fatal woundings that are afoot.

Short of this, nothing will have any effect.

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This is why the secular Right is deluded by its own rationality: it is not a matter of tactics - the secular Right is futile in principle because it misunderstands the wellsprings of human motivation and action.

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Only religion could save us - yet of course religion must be embraced because it is true; not because it would (perhaps) save civilization.

(And, of course, to save this culture and civilization the religion would have to be Christian.) 

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It is not that a religious revival would necessarily save civilization, of course not!

But that without religious revival civilization certainly will not be saved.

Because without religion, men are not motivated to make the vast necessary sacrifices.

Men of reason and utterly without religion are men without chests, men of straw, sub-men - they cannot sustain or save anything at all - except their own skins, in the short term. Certainly not a nation or a culture.

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But will it happen? Will culture, will civilization be saved by repentance and Christian revival?

Here in the UK it certainly does not look like it, not at all: I see neither signs nor glimmers of this.

I see rather a population of psychotic leaders, and psychodramatic self-absorbed masses - united only in relentless hedonism and a desperate, hourly search for self-esteem.

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On present trends the UK, England, will lose culture, civilization and Christianity.

England will simply break-down, break-apart, and each fragmentary bit get dominated and filled-up by something else altogether.

But if anything is to be saved, the first step must be Christianity and after that - we shall see...

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There is no such thing as amoral

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To tolerate, approve or actively advocate a policy on the basis that it is amoral (or supposedly has no moral significance) is to advocate immorality.

'A-moral' is therefore a dishonest or delusional characterisation of im-moral. 

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This is a sub-category of the fact that there is no such thing as neutrality - except that to advocate neutrality is, indeed, to take the side of evil.

Everything, without exception, has a moral dimension - or, more accurately, everything is more or less Good, more or less evil (Good is moral, beautiful and true in unity - evil is the destruction of these).

And this is a sub-category of life being recognised as a field of unseen or spiritual 'warfare' - with every  choice we move closer either to Heaven, or to Hell.

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Indeed, the characterisation of something as amoral is a particularly insidious form of wickedness - because it helps create a mode of analysis which purports to elude the intrinsic Good-evil axis.

It tries to suggest that some things are 'not significant' (not worth worrying about) which is a step towards saying that nothing is significant - nihilism, in other words.

Amoral is part of the bureaucratic mindset.

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Power but no rule

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We live, in the West, in a society where the greatest power lies with the mass media.

(As we in the UK have discovered recently: Prime ministers come, Prime Minsters go; the nation swings Left, the nation swings 'Right' - but real power, the grey (or red) eminence behind the throne - continues through such changes.)

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But of course the mass media cannot rule - thus there is no 'government'.

The mass media is powerful because 1. the media are crack cocaine dealers, suppliers of that addictive drug called distraction upon which our society is utterly dependent on an hourly basis; and 2. the media fills our thought and shapes our thinking - defines our education, evaluation and arbitration; and 3. the media can destroy anyone or any institution - can destroy history itself - at will, on principle or at a whim.

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The mass media, as a hive mind, is the focus of power and yet it does not rule. 

Obviously it cannot rule. This is sometimes described as power without responsibility - the situation is much worse than that, because responsibility is not merely being eluded by the mass media - rather, for media responsibility is intrinsically impossible.

The mass media cannot rule, but it can (and does) prevent anyone else from ruling.

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Monday, 28 May 2012

Put not thy faith in institutions

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I grew up in a world which put faith in institutions.

Leaving aside the church for a moment (since I was an atheist) I was among people who had faith in the United Nations, and the European Economic Community (now European Union), the United Kingdom, England, the Labour Party, the National Health Service, Universities and more abstract institutions such as Science and Education.

Such things were regarded as net good, that is good in essence and on average, good on the whole, tending towards good...

I now perceive that none of these are worthy of faith - indeed all modern institutions are net bad, bad in essence and on average, bad on the whole, tending towards evil...

Yet I have not found any worthy substitutes. 

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This world is one in which people seek institutions in which to put their faith - I do it myself, somehow I can't help myself - yet for honest people this has become harder and harder.

We seek some grouping or activity in which to place our hopes and to which we wish to dedicate our best efforts.

Yet we are thwarted in a search for worthy institutions with which to ally ourselves.

Indeed, it is probable that there are none - indeed why should we expect there to be any?

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The hardest thing for Christians to accept is that this applies also to the official mainstream churches and denominations. If we consider any large, powerful Christian church, we will find that its leadership is driving it away from the Good and into closer alliance with secular hedonistic modernity.

At an institutional level, large and powerful Christian churches are net bad and to support them as a whole is, I am very sorry to say, to support the forces of evil.

(Of course, this has been the usual situation in evil societies - the churches become corrupted - sometimes heretical elements in the churches have led corruption. )

And, conversely, any net Good church - worthy of overall support - will be small and weak.

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Since most of us work (and worship) in large and powerful institutions, we need to get used to the fact that the good elements which we admire and would wish to support are minority, local and dissenting - usually beleaguered, declining or on the verge of extinction.

Our choice is to be one of these dwindling islands within the large and net-evil institutions en route to being swamped; or to work in a weak and tiny institution that is good-on-the-whole.

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This applies to churches and denominations.

Real Christians have a choice: to be a persecuted minority within an overall (on average) wicked and corrupt large and powerful church, or whole-hearted members of a church that is overall good but small and weak (or something quantitatively in between).

If a Christian is a member of one of the larger and more powerful churches, he will either be in an embattled minority or essentially corrupt.

(And, of course, most of the embattled minorities are themselves essentially corrupt! - embattled minority status is of itself no indicator of goodness.)

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We are not on the winning side, and the desire to be on the winning side - and part of something large and powerful - is a force tending towards our own corruption.

What we need to remember, what ought to give us hope, is that everything good we do has an effect.

Not that it might have an effect, but that it does have an effect: not a contingent effect somewhere down the line, but an instant, universal and eternal effect the consequences of which may be obscure and take time to unfold.

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Not that we necessarily know how or where it has an effect - probably we never will know anything of this (at least not while we are in this world) - but that every single personal, obscure and apparently-'insignificant' act of good is in reality of vast import.

The more difficult our own situation, and the more overwhelming the might of evil institutions brought to bear on Christians, the more Christians are made to feel futile: the more clear should be the universal (albeit mysterious) power of individual acts or tiny and temporary alliances.

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Sunday, 27 May 2012

The problem of Slytherin

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http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/slytherin-problem.html

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Attitude to democracy - the litmus test of a reactionary

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Question: What is the difference between a Conservative and a Reactionary?

Answer: A Conservative is pro-democracy; a Reactionary is anti-democracy.

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A negative attitude to democracy is pretty close to being the litmus test of being a Reactionary - democracy is so pervasively regarded as 'a good thing' in modern culture that nobody is indifferent to, unsure about their answer to, this question.

Anyone who is pro-democracy is - whether they know it or not, whether they are religious or not - objectively on the side of the Leftists/ Liberals/ Progressives (and, indirectly, atheists) - however moderate or gradualist a member of this tendency they may be.

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(And the same applies to all non-religious persons - if you are not religious, you are not a Reactionary - because atheism intrinsically and necessarily leads to Leftism, is indeed the root and motivation of Leftism - surely that is obvious by now?)

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Saturday, 26 May 2012

The only jobs worthy of respect - according to W.H Auden

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From an essay by WH Auden in I Believe: the personal philosophies of twenty-three eminent men and women of our time. London: Allen & Unwin 1941.

The only jobs known to me which seem worthy of respect, both from the point of view of the individual and society, are being a creative artist, some kind of highly skilled craftsman, a research scientist, a doctor, a teacher, or a farmer.

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This discusses a big problem for many people - I mean the problem of trying to find and work-in 'a job worthy of respect from the point of view of the individual and society'.

As a mid-teen the above passage by WH Auden made a big impact on me, since I was thinking about jobs. I agreed with the above list, more or less, at the time I read it - these were worthwhile jobs, others were not.

But now...

1. Creative artists. Not even trying, highly professionalized ugliness-makers.

2. Highly skilled craftsman. As a hobby, yes; but as a job?

3. A research scientist. A docile and dishonest bureaucrat.

4. A doctor. Dying species, salesman for Big Pharma.

5. A teacher. State propagandist?

6. A farmer. A subsidy-farmer.

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My point is that all of these few jobs which used to be 'worthy of respect' have been thoroughly infiltrated by the state, bureaucritized, made into cogs in a machinery that does harm. It has become, ahem, a challenge to do respectworthy work in any of the above categories.

This means that nearly everybody is doing work which is not worthy of respect.

(And of those who imagine they do, then this is a delusion or dishonesty.)

Which means that (being honest and clear-headed) we all are beavering away busily at despicable activities which tend to make things worse...

And the situation seems inescapable.


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Friday, 25 May 2012

Questioning Dumbledore's professional competence

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http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/how-was-dumbledore-great-headmaster.html

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Corrosive college

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A residential college ought to be organised, busy and supervised (and Christian) - but when (as now) it isn't then it reflects the character of the students; which is that this period of life is characterised by the highest lifetime levels of neuroticism (moodiness), extraversion (need for the company of others, intolerance of solitude), and generally lower conscientiousness (poor concentration, need for distraction) and less empathy than later adult life.

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And modern college students are too old - college should begin the the mid-teens, and end before twenty; when humans are biologically at the peak of learning ability.

(And of course the vast majority of people should not go to college, but only those who are intended for the intellectual professions.)

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The problems of modern college are not real problems but societally self-inflicted problems: they are the kind of problems you get from doing something you don't need to do and shouldn't be doing in the first place.

In fact, college is one of those Leftist 'benefits' - I mean the sort of Goods that are the outcome of re-labelling damage as construction. As when a cripplingly expensive, intellectually harmful, morally corrosive waste of human life is relabelled as an unchallengeable benefit, nay human right.

It is on a par with relabelling crime as vibrancy, parasitism as injustice, self-gratification as the highest virtue and entitlement...

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Modern college is a multi-valent anti-Christian force of civilizational destruction - instilling addiction, destroying motivation, inculcating the metaphysics of hedonistic nihilism...

No wonder college is so popular with the Left! 

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Thursday, 24 May 2012

I'm *not* going to believe it - and *you* can't make me

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The phrase above pretty much sums up my own attitude to Christianity through most of my life. All I knew for sure was that I didn't want to be a Christian (I wanted to be and do, what *I* wanted to be and do); and I defended this rather specific unbelief by a fluid mixture of reason and emotion.

In general, I thought of myself as far more intelligent and rational than Christians, far more honest and tough-minded.

Yet I always knew and sometimes said that if a Roman Catholic apologist (I always assumed that this would be a Jesuit, for some reason) could ever pin me down, then I could be defeated by logic - because these guys had memorized and practiced all the answers to every possible objection.

But I still knew that I was right because Christian rationality was, I believed, a facile achievement of post hoc reasoning - reasoning from the result to the premises. So I would reject all this scholasticism, without even meeting it, because I knew in my guts that they were wrong.

It was a heady feeling to know that nobody could persuade me of Christianity, that I could always find reasons not to believe, whether reason or gut feeling, and that therefore I would remain un-defeatable as the master of my own private destiny.

I was, in fact, a case history of the overmastering power of pride: pride revelling in pride; and this not just by accident but as a matter of highest principle and core conviction.

Pride as the primary Good, the highest value.

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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The success of the demythologizers

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From Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, page 202

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We know from our experience that the demythologizers have very effectively undermined the faith of vast numbers of young Christians.

...we would estimate that nearly half the students who enter Catholic colleges as believers exit as unbelievers...

...this loss of faith is in some measure surely due to the influence of demythologizing teachers...

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Psychological reasons for unbelief 

The most powerful psychological motive for unbelief, as distinct from the most effective argument to undermine belief, is... almost always moral rather than intellectual.

That answer is addiction to sin and selfishness...

1. Addiction to power in this world... [nobody advocates detachment or unworldliness]

2. Addiction to lust, our society's favourite pastime... [sex addicts are not objective]

3. Addiction to greed... [our society relies on greed for its survival]

4. Addiction to worldliness... [acceptance and popularity - whereas the prophets and martyrs were neither]

5. Addiction to freedom...[doing your own thing, accepting yourself as you are, self-assertiveness].

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COMMENT

I recognise the power of demythologizing - the kind of 'unmasking' which was pioneered by Nietzsche and has come in waves such as logical positivism, or the other isms; and in science and medicine in the form of applied statistics.

The basic method is to tell stories of how it was that (stupid people) used wrongly to believe x, but we (intelligent people) now perceive and can explain their errors.

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Demythologizing is a purely destructive weapon, it will apparently undermine and ultimately destroy whatever it is used against; but it is never used against itself.

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(That is power at work. The greatest destructive power is the mass media - which has such reach and operates using such procedures that it can moralistically destroy anything. Secular Western societies are helplessly addicted to the mass media; as addicts they will take, have-to-take, whatever drug the media is pushing. But the media destruction is only used systematically and strategically against perceived enemies of the Left.)

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So debunkers feel as if they are superior in rigour and skepticism.

As undergraduates, they sit in judgement over Saints, prophets and martyrs; over the great scientists and authors of the past; over their parents and all previous generations - they look at some evidence, they evaluate for a few minutes or hours, and they pronounce their judgements...

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But does this have any validity? They do not know, because metaphysics is taboo - being regarded as useless, dull, a wicked distraction; so it is impossible to discuss the assumptions and rationale and applicability of demythologizing tools. 

Young people are equipped with universally destructive tools, but are not allowed (or able) to discuss what they do, or when to use them.

Young people are intellectually equipped with chisels, saws and sledge hammers; but not with hammer and nails nor screws and screwdrivers - not even with riveting guns. 

They can dissect, slice and smash - approved enemies, or obstacles to their own gratification - but they cannot build.

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But what a situation! - that Catholic colleges, private colleges, set-up to promote Catholicism, actually destroy Christian faith by means of the intellectual and social environment they have created.

And they do this among grown-ups - people who have reached an age of 18 plus without losing their faith! - but who have their faith eroded by attending Catholic college!

And everybody seems to accept this - parents choose to keep on paying-out heavy tuition fees and sending their kids away to remote colleges - only to have these pampered institutions destroy their children's faith!

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Christians are voluntarily subsidising their own destruction (in this as in many other ways).

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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Anglican monasticism

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I have been visiting the last of the major English Anglican men's monastic foundations - The Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, Yorkshire.

(The other two large and famous Victorian foundations - Society for the Sacred Mission at Kelham Hall and the 'Cowley Fathers' in Oxford are now only vestigial.)

This was my second visit after three years, and my overall feeling was that the brethren was in good heart (including signs of replenishment with new vocations and tremendously improved plainchant!) and perhaps are emerging from the 'bottleneck' which threatened their survival.

Although, since their foundation by the early-'liberal' theologian Charles Gore, the CR have been (in my view) significantly weakened by their Leftist background in Christian Socialism (indeed, some of the most pernicious aspects of modernism in Christianity are beating on the door and permeating worship, relating to the adjascent and linked theological college); yet my sense is that the power of monasticism is greater than all this and will prevail.

Especially, the regular round of the (in this instance, four-fold) daily office, and observation of the great silence, seem to have a spiritual potency that hard to match - creating something mysteriously greater than the sum of its parts.

One of my conclusions is that a monastic revival (among men) would be just about the most valuable sign for the Christian church at present; and that even Protestant churches ought to be experimenting with supervised forms of celibate and disciplined Christian group living for unmarried men.

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Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Kreeft & Tacelli. THE best book for seekers?

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I have previously suggested Peter Kreeft's annotated edition of Pascal's Pensees (Christianity for Modern Pagans) as the best book for modern, intellectual Christian seekers - but now I am inclined to change that recommenation to Handbook of Christian Apologetics: hundreds of answers to crucial questions by Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli.

Whatever the choice, it is clear to me that Peter Kreeft is a treasure - Christians have been very lucky to have him.

Kreeft is by so great a margin the best (wisest, clearest, most enjoyable) of living Christian apologists and explainers (of whom I am aware) that it is very hard to identify the second best.

Given the state of things, we really don't deserve anybody this good - still, there he is.

Be thankful we do not get what we deserve.

http://www.peterkreeft.com/home.htm

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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Audiobook Lord of the Rings reviewed

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http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/audio-book-lord-of-rings-read-by-rob.html

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

How metaphysics is different from science (in a nutshell) - from Ed Feser

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I shall (I hope) always be grateful to Ed Feser for enabling me (after several decades of failing to get the point) to understand the nature of metaphysical reasoning and how it differs from natural science (in his short book on Aquinas).

Feser really is a great explainer (and to be a great explainer is to be an exceptionally intelligent person of a special kind).

Anyway, he has done it yet again in a book review which I have excerpted and slightly edited below (in order to make his argument more generally applicable).

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http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/05/not-understanding-nothing


A critic might reasonably question the arguments for a divine first cause of the cosmos. But to ask “What caused God?” misses the whole reason classical philosophers thought his existence necessary in the first place. 

When somone begins by suggesting that to ask “Who created the creator?” suffices to dispatch traditional philosophical theology, we know it isn’t going to end well.

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In general, classical philosophical theology argues for the existence of a first cause of the world—a cause that does not merely happen not to have a cause of its own but that (unlike everything else that exists) in principle does not require one.

Nothing else can provide an ultimate explanation of the world.

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For Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, for example, things in the world can change only if there is something that changes or actualizes everything else without the need (or indeed even the possibility) of its being actualized itself, precisely because it is already “pure actuality.” Change requires an unchangeable changer or unmovable mover.

For Neoplatonists, everything made up of parts can be explained only by reference to something that combines the parts. Accordingly, the ultimate explanation of things must be utterly simple and therefore without the need or even the possibility of being assembled into being by something else. Plotinus called this “the One.”

For Leibniz, the existence of anything that is in any way contingent can be explained only by its origin in an absolutely necessary being.

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But most atheists simply can’t see any difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator, versus arguing in favor of an eternally existing universe without one.

The difference, as the reader of Aristotle or Aquinas knows, is that the universe changes while the unmoved mover does not, or, as the Neoplatonist can tell you, that the universe is made up of parts while its source is absolutely one; or, as Leibniz could tell you, that the universe is contingent and God absolutely necessary.

There is thus a principled reason for regarding God rather than the universe as the terminus of explanation.

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One can sensibly argue that the existence of such a God has not been established. (I think it has been, but that’s a topic for another day.)

But one cannot sensibly dispute that the unchanging, simple, and necessary God of classical theism, if he exists, would differ from our changing, composite, contingent universe in requiring no cause of his own.


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A political reading list for Christian Reactionaries

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Now I have your attention...

There is no such reading list - that is to say, there is no political reading list for Christian Reactionaries.

(And if you are looking for one, you should perhaps examine your motivations in doing so.)

A Christian Reactionary must be a Christian first, and political only secondly (or indeed not even secondly but some larger number) - and I don't think there are any books of politics which put things the correct way around.

Rather, the reading list is, or should be, the works of your most esteemed spiritual guides; but read for their politics and their political implications.

So my personal suggested reading list would include JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis (who wrote very little about politics, explicitly), Fr Seraphim Rose (who did write quite a lot about politics) - and from recent reading Fr Herbert Kelly.

http://tinyurl.com/c7r56xt  - (PDF booklet summarising and quoting Fr Kelly on Theology).

In sum, these are simply my spiritual fathers, when being read for their political insights; and being read in the expectation that where my current political views and evaluations differ from theirs, it is likely that I am the one who is wrong - especially when their views and evaluation methods seem 'outdated'.

Your spiritual guides may well be different, but the method could be the same.

Plus, of course, the Bible should be read in the same manner; and written records of Church Tradition (e.g. lives of The Saints and Martyrs) may guide us in similar fashion.

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Death, the soul and the body: Insights from Tolkien

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http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/what-happens-after-death-insights-from.html

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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Demographic change just IS natural selection in action

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When discussing examples of natural selection which are empirically observable within human experience,

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/evolutionary-philosophy-versus-specific.html

...I forgot to mention one very relevant example: global demographic change.

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It is a neglected fact that global demographic change, which has been extremely rapid for the past couple of hundred years, and is apparently accelerating, is simply natural selection in action.

That is, demographic change just is (nearly always) a matter of differential change between populations with heritable differences, significantly due to these heritable differences.

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All that is required for natural selection to be operating is some causal relationship between the heritable differences and the demographic change, and Bingo! that is the process of natural selection; algorithmic, doing its stuff.

And there has been a heck of a lot of this going-on within living memory.

For instance, European populations have gone from about a quarter of the people in the world to less than half of this.

What's more, of the now existing European population, more than half the women are too old to bear children; so there is a lot more natural selection yet in store.

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Is there a causal relationship? Yes of course there is. The differential population changes in the human gene pool are (mostly) due to differential fertility; and fertility is causally related to IQ and personality amongst other heritable attributes; and IQ and personality differ both within- and between- populations. 

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How come this very obvious fact is missed? Missed despite massive and rapid demographic changes - so massive and rapid that they are visible on a year by year basis to anyone who is awake and in possession of a normal perceptual apparatus?

Well, as usual when obvious facts are missed or mislabeled, the root of the problem is Leftism in its modern form of political correctness.

Demographers (as mainstream academic Leftists) do not believe, exclude a priori, any possibility of different human populations being heritably different in ways that would affect reproductive success.

Demographers regard all humans as interchangeable units - or, more accurately, they regard all human differences as due to culture, hence superficial, hence (in principle, it is assumed) malleable - hence of no significant biological relevance.

Demographers are, as a species, merely economists-with-a-twist, merely number-crunchers, non-biological, blank-slaters: but with the difference that the dependent variable of interest is not 'goods' (such as wealth, productivity, production or whatever) but (in effect) reproductive success.

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With demographic change as a clear and certain example of natural selection in the world of our own experience, we yet again we see the bizarre fashion in which the dominant Leftist intellectual culture combines a dogmatic belief in the only-indirectly-inferred reality of human macro-evolution (e.g. the evolutionary origin of the human species purely by contingent, historical and local selection pressures operating on undirected genetic variation); combines this relatively speculative knowledge with an implacable hostility to the blatantly obvious and undeniable (to any honest person) reality of adaptive micro-evolution within the human species.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/evolutionary-philosophy-versus-specific.html

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Adaptive evolution within the human species just IS global demographic change (amongst other things).

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To think of it a different way, the human species, considered as a total gene pool, is different now than it was when I was born: not just bigger, but with significantly different balance of gene frequencies. In principle, such change might be due to random drift or natural selection. A few moments thought will reveal that it was the latter - some alleles have increased in frequency, and others decreased, (substantially) because of their impact upon reproductive success.

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Co-inherence as 'magic'

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http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/charles-williams-regrettable-tendency.html

*

What do I miss from evangelical Anglicanism?

*

Of the three Anglican churches I attend with regularity, although semi-detached I am most involved (including my children's activities) with one that is evangelical and protestant.

Since I am sure that evangelical protestants have a fully valid path to salvation, the question arises why I also (apparently) 'need' to worship at an Anglo-Catholic and an old-fashioned BCP-using Anglican church.

What do I miss in an excellent evangelical Anglican church that these other churches provide?

In no particular order:

1. A full, traditional Anglican liturgy, in 'traditional language' and with formal, composed prayers and collects.

2. Frequent holy communion, and the attitude that this is a sacred rite.

3. Saints, as an ideal for life, mentioned in prayer.

4. Theosis - the idea that different people are by different degrees advanced in holiness - leading up to Saints but including various levels of spiritual advisers.

5. Monasticism and the life of 'a religious' - conceived as the ideal path, potentially the highest path (but with greater spiritual hazards than a lay life): the idea of monks as spiritual leaders.

6. The recognition that we live in a world populated by a multitude of intermediate spirits (angels and demons) between man and God - that things like the sun, moon, stars, major landscape phenomena, nations, human associations, and individuals have their own angelic 'guardians' or intelligences.

7. Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

8. Prayers for the dead.

9. Making the sign of the cross.

*


NOTE - Although not the subject of this post, I suppose I ought to mention what I do get from evangelical Anglicanism! Primarily, sound Biblical teaching and prayer - and this as a consequence of courage and vigour in the faith. Optimism, energy, humour; youth and families - the sense of a proper church demographic. Evangelism (obviously). Tough virtuousness.

*

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Lame Joke as a permanent feature in modern life

*

The form of pseudo-art termed 'installation' - which at best expensively and elaborately instantiates some momentarily-diverting shock or notion; has led to the permament erection or construction of The Lame Joke as a feature of modern life.

An entity which is mildly-amusing on first viewing is made into something which must be viewed hundreds of times, with exponentially increasing weariness and irritation.

*

Ladies and Gentlemen I present:

The Lame British Coins-of-the-Realm Joke

[see also http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/money-as-measure-of-cultural-decline.html ]

*

The Lame Sculpture Joke


*

The Lame Collapsing Fence Joke




*

Breaking the tyranny of linear and sequential causality - Sheldrake

*

Looking back on my engagement with the work of Rupert Sheldrake last year, I can see that the greatest benefit was to free me from the tyrannical grip that linear, sequential causality had upon my imagination.

Since this was the reasoning style I used in science and medicine, it had become not just habitual to me - but I felt that it was the only truly valid mechanism by which the elements and parts of the universe were in relation to one another.

Sheldrake made me see that this was an assumption, a metaphysical assumption, and not a discovery.

In understanding field thinking about causality I saw that it was different-from linear sequential thinking (I had tended to think it was a different way of saying much the same thing), and thus opened my mind to the possibility of other ways in which the parts of reality influenced each other.

Also, field thinking clarified for me that influence may be across time and space - or rather, that the idea that this does not happen is a simplifying assumption in (most types of) science; rather than a necessary constraint.

I then realised that that linear sequential causality had been locking me into a view of reality which was necessarily unrealistic, hopeless and meaningless (not that other ways of thinking about causality are the opposite - real, hopeful, meaningful; but that when linear sequential causality is monolithically dominant, then reality is necessarily appalling to the human mind).

The specific details of morphic fields and morphic resonance may be a more- or less-accurate and complete metaphysical description of reality - ultimately, they can be at most a metaphorical hence partial summary of reality - but that was not their most important aspect for me.

What is most important is that I now perceive that the lack of an explicit, linear, sequential causal chain between phenomena may indeed rule-out useful scientific analysis (of the kind with which I am familiar); but this lack does not rule-out a causal connection between phenomena.

*

The stupidest modern atheist criticism of Christianity

*

...is that Christianity is a ridiculous fairy tale when compared with the real problems of life such as war, starvation and disease.

And that to preach the gospel to people suffering from w, s & d is therefore insulting, disgusting and obscene when what these people need is peace, plenty and health.

*

And yet Christianity arose, grew and has reached astonishing levels of devotion in situations of human fear and suffering far beyond anything suffered by modern atheists, or indeed by anyone alive in the modern world (except for certain diseases).

Many of the greatest works of Christianity (by the Disciples, the Apostle Paul, Boethius...) were actually written under conditions of imminent torture and death; many others under conditions of extreme voluntary ascetic deprivation - fasting, freezing cold or parching heat, isolation...

*

What really is insulting, disgusting and obscene is to preach atheism, and therefore nihilism, to people living under conditions of war, starvation and disease - because this is to preach that their lives have been, are and will be meaningless and purposeless; and that they and everyone who they know and who ever have lived exist alone in a universe of pain from which any relief is partial and evanescent; and then they and everything they value will be annihilated leaving no trace.

*

Atheism is merely an indirect way of preaching the necessity of immediate despair and urgent suicide.

Nihilism may clear the path to a wider range of gratifications and diversions for healthy but jaded hedonists living trapped inside abstract fantasies and under conditions of peace, prosperity and comfort...

But atheism is not just stupid but indeed is pure poison - existential torment - for people living in contact with the real world - with war, starvation and disease.


*

Of course there is another common, and opposite, atheist criticism of Christianity - which is that people are Christian only because of war, starvation, disease and other extreme hardships - and this is why they invent and cling-to such nonsense. But that when you get intelligent and knowledgeable people living in peace, prosperity and comfort and with leisure to reason and critique; only then do they become able to reject self-gratifying fantasies, and can at last see through the illusions of religion, and perceive the meaninglessness and purposelessness of reality. 

In one view Christians are seen as avoiding harsh reality by fantasy; in the other view Christians are seen as overwhelmed by harsh reality and therefore unable to be rational.  

In one view atheists are self-perceived as braver than Christians in terms of honestly facing-up to the horror of reality; in the other view atheists are self-perceived as more rational than Christians precisely because their reality is much pleasanter and they are not required to be brave. 


Atheists will often oscillate between these two opposite criticisms.


*

Sunday, 13 May 2012

State Christianity - a good thing, yes, but what kind of thing?

*

I favour State Christianity - on something approximating the Eastern Roman Empire/ Byzantine/ Orthodox/ Holy Russian model - and in this often find myself in disagreement with both Protestants and Roman Catholics - and with some statements of CS Lewis (who, at times, wrote against 'theocracy' as the very worst form of government).

*

But I believe this disagreement is due to misunderstanding of how State Christianity ought to work.

State Christianity is not about forced conversions nor even compulsory devotions - at least, these are certainly not the essence of the matter.

State Christianity is based on the accurate recognition that there is no such thing as neutrality: the State will either favour Christianity, or it will favour something else (another religion, atheism, communism or whatever).

*

What does it mean, then, to 'favour' Christianity?

To understand, look at modern England, or the USA or any similar nation in the Anglosphere or Europe. Nowadays the State favours the secular perspective, such that all analysis in public discourse, all criticisms and all justifications of policy are done in secular terms (usually 'utilitarian' - that is aiming at increasing happiness or reducing suffering - never mentioning salvation).

*

Consequently, wherever a modern person may turn, and whatever he may do, he will be confronted with communications and discourses that exclude, conflict-with or deny Christianity.

This happens at schools and colleges, in commercial interactions, from government agencies, and of course the mass media world of advertising and entertainment.

Simply walking around the corridors and streets, he will be saturated with the secular perspective - his emotions and passions will be stimulated; his motivations will be played-upon and manipulated in a manner purely secular, subversive-of and excluding the Christian. 

*

By contrast, imagine all this in reverse.

A world where all of these sources of communications and discourses tended to be consistent with, or to support, Christianity - so that wherever they turn they will be reminded of Christianity, and familiarised with, schooled in, trained in Christian modes of discourse and evaluation.

Where the creative and brainy people would be paid (not forced, or no more than they are now forced) to put their best efforts into Christian-supportive work, rather than as now enlisted to destroy Christianity directly and indirectly. Where artists, musicians and architects would be expected to create beauty, not sickening ugliness and soul-killing emptiness; where writers would be expected to be truthful - not bureaucratically-forced to lie in the service of profits and power.

That is what the State can do for Christianity. Support a Christian-friendly milieu rather than (as now) supporting a Christian-hostile milieu.

*

So long as the State is a secular realm, then of course the State will support a secular perspective - therefore the State and the Church must ideally work together.

Or, to put it the other way around, if we actually aim at separation of Church and State, as many modern Christians do, then we are aiming at the creation of a large, perhaps the largest, realm of modern life as independent of, autonomous from, Christianity - and this is exactly what we get.

Then the secular State will (as institutions do) grow and extend its sway, encroaching upon the Church, until everything is secular.

In Britain we have reached that point.

*

How this is specifically arranged is a secondary matter - and of course any possible arrangements will be corrupted because humans are corrupt - but that is the proper aim of society: a harmony of state and Church, with no secular realm.

***


Note: I suppose it is necessary to clarify that a Christian State is something which emerges from an already-Christian population, and then encourages the process to continue. The Christian State is not something parachuted in, landed on top of a secular society. When the Roman Empire became Christian under Constantine, it was a recognition of the state of affairs and the dominant trends, more than an imposition: but once the State had been Christianized then this led to greater devoutness and a higher state of Christianity (in the Eastern Empire, especially) than had been possible before. Or, to put it briefly, when Christianity was under an anti-Christian state the Saints were martyrs - who died in and for the faith; under a Christian State the Saints were characterized by advanced ascetic holiness and wisdom.


*

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Argument errors of Christian reactionaries - using Leftist reasoning

*

It is counter-productive (strengthens the enemy) for Christian reactionaries to argue against some Leftist policy on the basis that it:

Upsets people. (Somebody is always upset by everything.)

Is inefficient. (Liberals don't care about efficiency.)

Is dysfunctional. (Liberals take functionality for granted - if they did not, they would not be liberals.)

Wastes money. (Liberals don't care about wasting money. Indeed, they equate wasting money - their own money, or other people's - with altruism.)

Is silly/ absurd. (Liberalism operates by taking more and more silly/ absurd things seriously.)

Is trivial. (For Liberals nothing is trivial if it opposes Liberalism.)

On the basis that procedures ought to be neutral. (Procedural neutrality is impossible, and its pursuit is evil - what matters is deciding which side will be favoured; and that should be the side of truth, beauty and virtue. The task is for procedures to achieve a Good result - not for procedures to be neutral.)

*

Arguments Christian reactionaries should use against Leftist policies:

They are destructive of Good/ Truth/ Beauty/ Virtue; are evil/ dishonest/ ugly/ sinful.

They do not conform to Reality.   

*

Of course none of these arguments will convince Liberals - indeed they are meaningless to to the Liberal perspective. What then?

Just keep repeating and repeating them anyway.

Because these arguments are the proper reasons for Christian reactionaries to argue against things: Good reasons; the real reasons; true,  beautiful and virtuous reasons.

*


(At some level whatever they may say or do, Liberals know for sure that they are wrong. Objectively, finally, ultimately wrong. And that is why they are anti-life; why they live for distraction and destruction; why they idolize the evil, selfish and self-mutilating; and why they are fixated upon sterility, suicide and euthanasia. Never in human history has there been such visceral loathing as Liberals feel for themselves: they want their own extinction more profoundly than they want anything else.+)

*

(+ Lest I be misunderstood: Liberals know for sure that they are wrong, but they do not know that we are right - they believe that we are wrong, but they do not know what is right. They know that they are wrong now because they know they have changed their Liberal beliefs several times already and will have to continue changing their beliefs every few years. So they know their current Liberal beliefs cannot be right; and they also know that whatever future Liberal beliefs they may embrace will only be for a while; since they will be equally unstable. Their tragedy is that they know that Liberalism is false, ugly and evil - but they think they know the same about Christianity - so they have no hope and cannot find rest. Except, temporarily, in forgetfulness, that is in ceasing to be conscious - hence ceasing to be human. Thus they yearn to become animal, or for permanent distraction, or - as they mistakenly suppose will happen - to have consciousness finally annihilated by death.)

Tolkien as philologist - and Christianity

*

http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/tolkien-philology-and-theology.html

*

Friday, 11 May 2012

Reality is objective, universal and permanent (*not* subjective, private, evanescent)

*

The biggest lie of secular Leftism is that reality is subjective, private and personal, a matter of temporary emotions and experiences...

This is a lie, and the secular Left know it is a lie, and this is demonstrated by the fact that they will not allow any anti-Left thoughts to exist anywhere in anybody's mind, nor will they allow contradictory private behaviour anywhere, nor will they ever regard as trivial public expressions contrary to their taboos.

All breaches of ideal Leftism are (or may be) treated with the utmost seriousness, are never forgotten nor allowed to fade.

For the Left nothing is trivial - when it is anti-Left.

*

And in this, the Left is absolutely correct: nothing is trivial.

Everything that happens everywhere is (or may be) of permanent and universal significance.

*

The secular Left want to demoralise its opposition by a paradoxical ideology of 1. the supremacy of the individual and 2. the triviality of  the individual.

But that which is behind the Left knows that there are no individuals.

*

Christians should know this too: everything matters, and it matters forever - there is no such thing as an individual - we are all in it together.

There is no subjective, all is objective.

Even 'delusions', wrong ideas, are objective; because all ideas and emotions, whether true or false, are part of reality.

*

The Left knows this - it promotes delusions, because it knows that if delusions exist in human minds then they are objectively real in their effects. Delusions make a difference.

The Left promote ugliness and subverts beauty because they know that the effects are (instantly) universal - the Good is damaged, and permanently.

The Left will lie, habitually, and for no apparent visible gain; because every lie is public and significant, every lie is effectual in the subversion of Good. No lie is trivial - every lie stands to the credit of evil, now and forever.

The Left mocks virtue and delights in the inversion of morality and the denial of wickedness; every time vice is relabelled as virtue, then reality is permanently stained.

*

Th Left knows that everything matters forever, and the Left itself acts on the basis of this knowledge.

This is why the Left never sleeps, is always active in its work, always seeking new horizons, fresh targets and schemes.

*

The Left is a demonic spirit for the destruction of Good - and every act of destruction is significant because irreparable.

*

What the Left fears above all is repentance.

This world cannot be washed and made new, but the individual soul can be cleansed by repentance.

It is vital to the Left project for this fact to be obscured, and itself trivialised by labelling it as subjective, private and personal - irrelevant.

Yet Christian repentance is perhaps the most significant act a person can make, and is always needed.

*

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Implications of living under an elite of evil madmen

*

I have been arguing - that our ruling elite are evil and insane (rather than being well-meaning fools, corrupt careerists or clever sillies).

So what?

Tactics and strategy.

*

Tactics - there is no point in using argument, persuasion, reason or evidence on evil mad people. It will just inflame them.

Do not set out to educate, raise-consciousness, permeate culture - if they do not ignore you, they will listen carefully and learn, and use the information to plan counter-measures.

Either defend yourself by main force, or don't defend yourself. 


*

Strategy.

Avoid the crazy wreckers if you can - keep communications to a minimum - lest you personally become a part of their delusional system.

Do not read their stuff, listen to their propaganda, nor seek their advice, nor expect their support, nor their agreement.

(You already know what they will say: variations on Good is bad, bad is Good - impose lies, destroy beauty and make ugly, virtuous people are evil and selfish hedonists are admirable, yeah yeah...)

*

Do not build broad alliances with crazy evil people, the alliances work one way and against you.  

Work around-them, within constraints - do not work with them.

*

You will be accused of being paranoid: don't argue the point, don't provide evidence, don't defend yourself.

But take extra care about those who make the accusation.

*

Meanwhile pray - for repentance and conversion - a Great Awakening. Godly and good government.

Pray for courage. 

Think of the present and eternity - try not to think of the future, not to speculate on scenarios nor to make plans, except at times when decisions must be made.

*

Avoid resentment against the evil madmen - or hatred will consume you. So pray for a soft, warm, loving heart.

*

Adapted from the works of CS Lewis, Fr Seraphim Rose and the martyrs of communism.

 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Libertarians, Open Borders and the Welfare State

*

One of the most mistaken arguments that I hear repeated comes from libertarians (mostly) - and I used to believe it myself.

It is that an open-border, unrestricted immigration and migration policy would be optimal so long as there is no welfare state to distort the market.

*

This argument seems to derive from drawing an analogy between immigration-migration and free trade: since libertarians are convinced by Ricardo's 'law' of comparative advantage (that trade increases efficiency, and benefits both sides on average), they wish to apply the same principle to people as they do to economic goods.

So unrestricted movement of humans is seen as 'free trade' in humans.

*

The main, deepest, arguments about this is the same as applies to free trade: that economic theory is an extremely simplified, partial, biased account of reality - like a toy model of balls and sliding rods representing a vastly complex dynamic reality. Of course simplification is a necessary aspect of all science. But it does entail that the applicability of any economic principle can never be assumed to be general, but must always be demonstrated in specific instances.

*

But the specific argument against the equation of open borders with free trade is that it only works if you are genuinely prepared to treat humans exactly like economic goods.

*

If too many economic goods are imported, and are not wanted, they may be dumped or allowed to rot - the libertarian argument applies the same logic to people.

If the existence of a welfare state is supposed to make a difference to the viability of free trade, then it means that libertarians are proposing that if unrestricted human movement across borders leads to a gross excess of humans in one place, far in excess of economic need, then they will be allowed to starve to death.

Indeed, the libertarian argument entails that - assuming the population of the host nation do not want, as individuals, to support the economically-surplus population, they will be made to starve to death whether they like it or not.

*

In fact, most libertarians don't mean exactly this - they assume that the lack of a welfare state would stop the migrant populations from moving in the first place - and that they would stay-put and starve to death in the counties of their origin.

So the problem would, libertarians tend to say, never arise - or rapidly be self-correcting.

But this is to introduce further, and implausible, assumptions about human motivation.

If borders are open, there is no compelling reason why poor people would not move en masse to rich places, welfare state or not; and no reason to assume that the amount of such movement would be titrated against the supply of welfare state, charity or any other form of resource transfer.

*

So, whether they recognize it or not, libertarians linkage of open borders with elimination of the welfare state entails accepting that the host population enforces starvation-to-death upon economically surplus migrants - which is indeed, to treat people as economic goods.

Yet, libertarians mostly would not accept that open-ended numbers of excess migrants be corralled and starved to death (in situations where the host population do not choose to support them, and where the arrivals are disruptive to the libertarian host society).

Therefore the argument made in favour of open borders and unrestricted human moment on condition of the elimination of ther welfare state is dishonest - since most libertarians will not (or would not) accept the logical consequences of their policy that humans be treated en masse in a fashion precisely analogous to economic goods.

*

NOTE: 

The Leftist argument in favour of open-borders is different from the libertarian in that it either ignores the effects of welfare states on human motivation or approves it. Unlike libertarianism, which is a hobby of intellectuals, Leftism is of course mainstream and almost universal in modern politics (including the media, education, public administration and the law).

Modern mainstream politics is in favour of unrestricted immigration and open borders - and can only excuse the universal disregard of this moral imperative as an unprincipled exception (i.e. as a pragmatic immorality). 

Thus principled Leftists press continually for open borders and unrestricted movement of humans across the world, on egalitarian and moral (rather than economic) grounds: as a mechanism of re-distributing and equalizing resources between the wealthy and poor peoples of the world. 

This method precisely depends-upon an open-ended commitment to the continuation and expansion welfare state of each developed country, so that US or UK or Swedish or Australian welfare becomes - in effect - a universal entitlement. By this Leftist account, economically surplus migrants must (as a matter of moral principle) be supported by the host nation for as long as they need support - and up to the same standard of living as the host nation - by coercive extraction of resources from the host population (i.e. taxes) without limit. 


So the essence of the difference between libertarianism and Leftism in their favouring of open borders is that libertarians would enforce the starving to death of economically surplus immigrant populations; while Leftists would enforce the starving to death of the economically productive host populations. Both are of course wrong; but Leftism is worse because more dishonest, and more rapidly and completely destructive.

Or, consistent and principled libertarians are evil for treating people as economic goods, Leftists are evil for their aggressive totalitarian commitment to destroy all societal order based on natural law. 


*

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The centrality of co-inherence to salvation

*

http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/centrality-of-co-inherence-to-salvation.html

*

Doing real science after the corruption of science

*

The following is a version of the deleted-ending of my forthcoming book Not even trying: the corruption of real science


*



Real science is still possible, but in the future real science could happen only under what are likely to seem rather restrictive conditions.

Still, restrictive or not – they are perfectly possible.

*

Drawing together the threads of this book – the conditions for real science can be summarised as:

  1. Reconnect

  1. Bind yourself to the iron law of truth

  1. Follow your motivation

  1. Find a Master

  1. Be an amateur

  1. Read the real literature

  1. Get methods from the problem

  1. Critique yourself

  1. Communicate truthfully


1.      1. Reconnect with the tradition of real science. To do real science from where we now are is a matter of ‘reconnecting’ with a broken tradition. You are in a similar situation to the scholars of the dark ages in Europe who tried - and succeeded - in keeping alive a slender thread of classical learning handed on from the broken Western Roman Empire (the Eastern Empire centred in Constantinople being largely inaccessible).

2.      Truth is an iron law. Only do science if you are genuinely motivated to discover the truth and will practice the habit of truth.

3.     2. Follow your motivation. Your motivation to discover and describe truth will need to be somewhat specific, as the advantage of science comes from focusing time and effort somewhat more narrowly than is normal – but no more narrowly than you spontaneously feel is interesting.

4.      3. Find a Master. You must spiritually apprentice yourself to a Master. This may be someone you can actually work with on this earth; but more likely someone you have never met - and it may be someone who died a long time ago. But you need someone to model yourself upon, learn from and imitate. By ‘imitate’ I mean empathically-identify-with such as to intuit their essence, and then try to model your own behaviour on this intuited essence. So this will be someone to whom you will pay close attention, and in whose presence you will spend a lot of time (although this time and attention may be to printed words – articles, books, histories, memoirs biographies etc). Nonetheless, although in a spiritual condition of apprenticeship, you will physically be working mainly in solitude.

5.      4. Be an amateur. Do not expect to make real science your livelihood. Devotion to truth almost certainly means you must practice science as: 1. A self-funded amateur; and 2. Out-with the normal career structures of science, including outside the professional research literature - since otherwise you will almost certainly be corrupted by the requirements. If you are a professional researcher you will spend most of your time fighting-off your own corruption by ‘the system’, and will have little enthusiasm, energy and effort left-over for real science.

6.      5. Read the real science literature. You need to understand what is already validly known. The answer is ‘probably not all that much’ – but either way you need to discover it. But where should you look? The short answer is to start again from scratch and use ‘discernment’ (which needs to be developed). Believe what you personally observe, and what people whom you trust are sure about. Probably, you can read only old research literature, except when you have specific reason to be highly-confident that a particular modern researcher is honest and reliable.

7.      6. Derive methods from your problem (not vice versa). What you actually do - your methods - will depend on your talents, your interests, your opportunities – these will arise from the interaction between yourself as an individual and the ‘problem’ you are tackling. Your methods might be theoretical or empirical. If theoretical they might be critical or constructive. If empirical they might be statistical, observational, experimental. And so on. It is hard to be more precise than that.

8.      7. Critique yourself. Critique will be, in the first place, self-critique – if you are obsessed with your ‘problem’, thinking about it a lot and looking for relevant knowledge and alert for observations; then this will happen spontaneously.It need not be contrived nor forced, it is merely a consequence of being bound by the Iron Law.

9.      8. Communication. Communication is dictated by the nature of what is available, whether you have any co-workers etc. But whatever the mode of communication it must, non-negotiably be compatible with absolute truthfulness. This usually rules-out peer reviewed communication – since this will usually entail changing your communications in order to achieve publication.

You must never get into a situation where what is published in your name is anything other than the truth as best you understand and can express it.

*

Monday, 7 May 2012

Taking church bells for granted

*

As a child, living in a village in Somerset, I got used to the sound of church bells - specifically the sound of change-ringing.

*

(Citing from my own memory and experience, I haven't checked this:)

There are usually six or eight bells - the lowest is called the tenor.

Change ringing usually begins with a descending scale, ending with the tenor; then change ringing introduces variations by swapping the position of two bells at a time in a predetermined mathematical sequence, but still ending each six/ eight note sequence with the tenor.

Something like:

1 2 3 4 5 6
2 1 3 4 5 6
2 3 1 4 5 6
2 3 4 1 5 6
2 3 4 5 1 6
3 2 4 5 1 6  etc.

Church bell 'compositions' are therefore the various mathematical sequences which take the bells back to the original descending scale.

*

To ring all possible combinations of the bells would obviously take a very long time (depending on the number of bells) - and usually there is just a shortish sequence of a few minutes, so I presume these are short simple compositions or a segment of a long sequence, perhaps?

Obviously I don't/ can't listen attentively to bell for long periods and can't recognise exactly what is going-on in terms of mathematical sequences; but something like the above is usually what is happening - the swapping of position of two bells in the sequence, ending with the low tenor.

*

The difficulty of change ringing is to keep the sequence of bells evenly spaced, despite making these changes in the order of bells (and keeping track of the sequence, because the ringer has to know what he is going to do before he does it) - and constrained by the fact that a bell cannot be run early, but only held-back and delayed.

(I think I recall that, for mechanical reasons, church bells can normally only be held-back by one position in the sequence - i.e. its ring delayed by only one position in the sequence - not two; and this is the reason for the method of changes.)

*

Anyway, since I moved up north from Somerset thirtysomething years ago, although there are church bells everywhere here, I have never at any time nor place heard good change ringing, never heard anything to match Backwell village church and the surrounding areas.

Certainly not at Durham Cathedral (I once lived next door) where the bell ringing was (forgive the expression) diabolical.

*

Bad change ringing is uneven, and the whole thing usually collapses when two (or more) bells end-up overlapping or ringing at the same time - sometimes one sequence starts before the other is finished.

*

What I did not realise at the time is that Somerset was special. It must have had - I presume (I haven't checked) - a great tradition of bell ringing, which is far from universal.

It is an example of the way in which, as a child, we take things for granted.

England is a land of near-universal church bells, and of change ringing; but good bell ringing is very far from universal, in fact it is very rare indeed.

*

Any brief yet comprehensible technical corrections to the above would be warmly welcomed! But I was mainly concerned to emphasise my own level of comprehension as an untutored but keen listener to church bells.

*

*

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Tom Shippey - the only indispensable Tolkien scholar.

*

http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/tom-shippey-great-tolkien-scholar.html

*

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Not on my wavelength

*

It is a strange phenomenon, which may have little or no significance, but I often find that there are authors who I feel I ought to like, but who I just don't get or else who 'rub me up the wrong way' and create irritation and hostility.

*

An example is John Henry (Cardinal) Newman.

I have read quite a lot by and about Newman - most recently a full biography; and despite recommendations form authors whom I admire, and the fact that he is the patron Saint of the new Anglican Ordinariate, I continue to dislike him personally in such a way that this prevents me getting any good from his writings.

The dislike is not strong, more like a low-grade annoyance, but it blocks the necessary receptivity.

*

I suspect this is exactly what it seems, one of those instances when - as in everyday life - you can't seem to get along with somebody; there is a persistent awkwardness.

For me, this crops up all over the place - things I want to like but can't.

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So as to be somewhat even-handed between Western and Eastern Catholicism, I could mention the artistic style of icons as another thing to which I cannot warm.

As an idea, I like icons; I like the general effect in a church or home (indeed, I like it very much) especially when combined with mosaics - but as individual things, from an aesthetic perspective (whether Greek or Russian or any other I have seen), I don't appreciate icons, find them a negative experience.+

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It applies to places. Italy for example. Despite everything wonderful that was or is in Italy and came from Italy, and despite all that everyone says, I just don't warm to the idea of Italy - something about Italy annoys me and always has.

(I once set foot there, for about 4 hours on a day trip from Austria, and found its effect on me just as negative as I feared.)

Rome as an idea or ideal does not attract (whereas the idea of Byzantine Constantinople, despite the icons, is almost literally intoxicating).

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There doesn't seem to be anything one can do about such aversions; we just have to work-around them - as we work-around our irrational aversions among people with whom we must, nonetheless, get along.

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+ Note - I think this may be related to the un-Englishness of icons. If England had remained Orthodox, then perhaps there would be an English style of icon-writing - maybe something like the illustrations of Pauline Baynes (based on the Luttrell Psalter)

 

Friday, 4 May 2012

England, and The Church of England, as a latent Byzantine polity

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It is, perhaps, surprising that Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the Church of England, who appoints the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and who (via her parliament) controls many aspects of the Church.

In modern times, and indeed for most of its history, this has been a mostly (not wholly) malign influence - sometimes called 'Erastianism' - meaning the State controlling the Church.

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It is particularly malign that the Prime Minister and the House of Commons have usurped almost all of the Monarch's prerogatives - so that the PM actually chooses the Archbishops, and it was a vote in the Commons that rejected the 1928 revision to the Prayer Book (not that I favour that revision - I do not).

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And yet, the fascinating things is that - although perverted and inverted - the Constitution of England is, in its basic shape - very much like the 'ideal' (I mean, ideal to me!) constitution of the Byzantine Empire.

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For instance, the Monarch of England is meant to be by the Grace of God, chosen by God (and not, therefore, hereditary, nor appointed by Parliament - except when these procedures lead to the correct answer).

The Monarch chooses the Patriarch (Archbishop of Canterbury) who rules the Church, yet the Patriarch could (in principle) excommunicate the Monarch and exert other types of authority over him.

The Monarch chooses the Government by asking the leader of a Party to form a government - usually this is the 'winner' of a general election; but it could be someone else.

The Monarch can also dismiss any government for breaching the constitution (this actually happened in 1975 when the Queen's representative dismissed the Australian government led by Gough Whitlam). 

And many of the primary aspects of English life retain the form of being done in the Monarch's name, and by his authority.

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For a Christian reactionary, this situation is strange.

In real life the English constitution has been and is being used to impose an atheist, anti-Christian and Leftist democratic agenda; but in principle, if the English people became devoutly Christian Monarchists - pretty-much everything essential is in-place to make England a Byzantine Monarchy.

All that would be required is to remove all committees and votes, reverse the direction of power; and to live by the spirit of the constitution instead of merely by its letter.

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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Societal collapse due to the end of science

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Quite aside from the insanity of the Left, which will end Western civilisation prematurely, modernity will collapse anyway, due to the end of science.

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It is scientific revolutions (and technological breakthroughs) which caused and sustained modernity; modernity being the growth of productivity such as to outstrip the growth of populations.

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In an important sense it is economic growth (growth in food production and also the production of other essentials) which underpins modernity.

Indeed, as Ernest Gellner saw, modernity depends on economic growth in two ways: firstly to keep people alive, and secondly to maintain coherence - because modern societies are societies of material bribery (rather than societies of material coercion and spiritual bribery, as in the past).

But economic growth depends on significant and frequent breakthroughs in productivity (more stuff for fewer man hours), and breakthroughs in productivity derive from science-technology broadly conceptualised.

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And breakthroughs in science-technology - what do they depend on?

Well, I believe they depend upon creative genius - in other words breakthroughs were generated by the high density of creative geniuses (in relatively few cultures) who were positioned such as to make a difference by their work.

Yet there are no creative geniuses any more (or too few, or if there are enough, then they are not able to influence things). 

Not enough creative geniuses = no modernity.

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No creative geniuses (or not enough of them) means no breakthroughs (or not enough of them); which means stagnant productivity - indeed declining productivity due to the evolution of parasitism (e.g. bureaucracy, economically inactive populations etc).

And stagnant or declining productivity means the end of modernity which means societal collapse leading to population collapse and a new equilibrium at much lower total population (and population density).

The first collapse will be of cohesion, since the population cannot be bribed when there is not enough with which to bribe them.

And to impose cohesion by force and religion instead of bribery would itself end modernity.

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The second collapse will be of starvation, disease and predation (mostly by people) - the triple major causes of human mortality

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Modernity was therefore merely a temporary escape from the Malthusian Trap, lasting about 8 generations, driven - it seems, by the coincidence of a high density of creative genius in the West (and the conditions which enabled them to be effective in societal transformation) - all of which factors have by now disappeared.

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Presumably, society will return to its pre-modern level of complexity - agrarian states, cohering due to a mixture of military coercion and religiousness.

This will happen, sooner or later, but on a timescale of decades not of centuries.

The only major uncertainty is - which religion?

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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

What is the harm of libertarianism?

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Given that it has zero chance of attaining power or introducing its favoured policies - what is the harm of principled libertarianism?

Simply that it is destructive. It helps to destroy the traditional order, it helps to destroy hierarchy, it helps to destroy existing sources of countervailing power.

So, libertarians supply arguments which are used or exploited by Leftists with which to atomise society - to break down professions, guilds, unions, protections, privileges insofar as they help maintain the traditional (existing) order.

Libertarians want freedom of the individual from all forms of authority, but the only authorities they are actually allowed to subvert and usurp are those forms of authority which the Left dislikes. A one-sided liberation, always tending to assist socialism.

Libertarians help create the chaos and weakness which is then used by Leftists to create their statist, communist, socialist, politically correct society.

This happens because it is much, much, much easier to destroy Good than to create Good.

The libertarians (sincerely) believe that they are only destroying the Good in order to introduce something Better (better, that is, from the perspective of efficiency) but that doesn't actually happen, because libertarians are so weak.

They can accomplish the easy task of destruction, but they never accomplish the vastly more difficult task of making something better.

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Note: I was a libertarian - mostly from the early 1990s to the mid 2000s; and although I considered myself standing in opposition to the Leftist and politically correct intellectual mainstream, and although I did meet up with some trouble and strife; I was remarkably tolerated, and it seemed remarkable to me at the time.

But, in fact, the tolerance was more than remarkable - it was sinister; in the literal sense that my libertarianism was being 'used' as a 'tool' of the Left that was directed and selectively deployed. When not useful to the Left, libertarianism was simply ignored or over-ruled.

However, against this background of Leftist tolerance for libertarianism (a tolerance based on self-confidence that libertarianism is helpless against the Left when it comes to power) there are periodically - at least annually - blood sacrifices of libertarians who make the mistake of applying their analysis to the politically correct taboos. 

But libertarians who steer clear of the Leftist taboos are given almost limitless tolerance - serving the Left as ideological resources and providing a self-gratifying illusion of the Left tolerating dissent. 
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Metaphors for sin

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1. The Good as a series of interlocking Laws - sin as law-breaking. This metaphor has become over-dominant, literalized and dangerous.

2. Sanctity as being turned-towards God, orientated towards God; sin as the act of turning away, damnation as being permanently turned-away from God (closed off, from pride).

3. Sin as a dark and opaque stain, marring the purity of white light - Tolkien's favourite metaphor. Used by CS Lewis to explain original sin spreading through humanity.

4. The Good as warmth and light, sin as coldness and shadow - e.g. Russian Saints who may survive extreme cold, and Saints who are surrounded by a glow.

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