Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Why I am neither a reactionary nor a modernist

I equate modernity (that is secular Leftism in all its forms - including all mainstream and non-religious parties) with arrested adolescence - which is the worst thing.

I equate religious reaction with our spiritual childhood.

Now - if forced to choose between perpetual adolescence and childhood, I would certainly choose childhood. But that is not what is on offer from religious reaction, starting (as we are) from here-and-from-now: what is offered is a partial and self-conscious return to the closest-possible simulacrum of childhood - therefore not childhood itself.

This is still somewhat better than full-blown Leftist modernity, but it is not stable - and it is sad, because it knows itself to be based on a kind of self-deception, a self-blinding.

The difference between my traditionalist views in 2011 (e.g. when I wrote Thought Prison, influenced by Eastern Orthodoxy via the monk Eugene/ Seraphim Rose) and my views over the past three or so years is that now I have been persuaded (by Owen Barfield, the early Rudolf Steiner, William Arkle - and by Barfield's reading in ST Coleridge) that the spiritual adolescence of modernity was intended (I mean divinely-intended, as our human destiny) to be a transition to an adult form of spiritual and Christian consciousness which Barfield calls Final Participation and Steiner terms the Spiritual Soul.

In other words, because I now see a way forward past modernity to something better than traditionalism in Christianity, I no longer wish to go back.

Especially considering that I believe in the truth of Mormon Christian metaphysics; this puts me in an even smaller minority than when I was a 'mainstream' Christian traditionalist c 2009-13 - perhaps indeed a minority-of-one.

So be it: that is where I best perceive the truth of things to be.

8 comments:

Chiu ChunLing said...

I'm minded immediately of the injunction to become as a little child.

And I see no way to really escape it, in the end. But it is worth noting that the quality of a child we are asked to emulate not not characteristic of all children at all times. Children are often lacking in humility, and this is when we rightly call them childish.

Speaking of "reactionary" religion, I'm somewhat minded of the behavior of those who consider that they have no need to go further than adopting whatever outward ordinances and rituals are common in their church. That they (and their churches) are complete and have no need to continue growing and striving. That they are quite grown up and fully mature on their own merit. That is to say, they are spiritually childish.

But periods of childishness are not the whole of childhood. We are not advised to be that sort of children. But I think that the command to be as little children is really concerned with merely recognizing that we are, in fact, spiritually little children. I doubt that it can be considered that anyone who has not died and faced God's judgment could be considered as anything but a toddler in spiritual terms.

I tend to believe that we must be closer to being developed to physical godhood than spiritual divinity, because that is the easier part of the journey. So we are closer to having the physical powers of God than the spiritual wisdom and insight. By that measure, I have to say it is premature for anyone who does not have at least the miraculous powers of Christ to speak of not being a little child spiritually.

I certainly see a good many people who I suspect are less bad as little children than I am, but not a lot that are not still little children.

lgude said...

I'm neither a reactionary nor a modernist also, but see it a bit differently. I have no argument with the evolutionary idea of progressing from original to final participation but I would be harder on leftism and easier on the religious past. Today's leftism is I think an unconscious regression to the hunter gatherer stage driven by the instincts precisely because our instincts evolved under hunter gatherer conditions. Survival was best served if all material resources were shared equally. Anyone who has felt the force with which hunter gatherers enforce equality of outcome will recognize the instinctive attraction of 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs'. So when the university graduate in the Che shirt delivers my cappuccino I see him as an adolescent only in body - as lost to the possibility of adult adaption as Augustin's friend Alypius was lost to the spectacle of the colosseum. As to adulthood I would say that since about the first millennium BC individuals have been able to reach spiritual adulthood in an organized way. Julian of Norwich's "Condition of complete simplicity, costing nothing less than everything." comes to mind, as well as what you said about William Arkle in your previous post. Or the present moment awareness that the Buddha deemed "the gate to the Deathless". While mindful of the futility of talking about such matters somewhere along the way it becomes clearer at some point that there is, indeed, a treasure buried in the field. One may even notice that selling all that one has means nothing less than everything. But the collective? I don't know, but I have no reason to believe there is any immediate danger of widespread spiritual progress. I suspect that in the hundred thousand years or so that humans slowly emerged that original participation was the common condition, but with the development of agriculture and the possibility of differential development that a very small minority discovered that they were of mystical temperament and began to find their way to something like Barfield meant by final participation.

Bruce Charlton said...

I'm not sure if I follow you, but I think I agree!

The phrase in the King James/ Authorised Version of the Bible (which was, by my understanding, divinely inspired for English speakers) is 'become as little children' - and the 'as' tells us that this is not a literal instruction to return to childhood, but something more like becoming a child in essence or in some vital respects.

Bruce Charlton said...

Igude - It's a good point to raise; and I wrote about this matter in my pre-Christian days

https://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/evolpsych.html

So I agree that there is *something* instinctual about socialism/ equality - but I also believe that this is and *always was* deceptive; because the actuality is never hunter-gatherer simplicity and always a state with total power and and a micro-level wholly-pervasive bureaucracy.

And Leftist leaders have for 150 years refused to learn from this, to take-note of the feedback of reality, which means that by revealed preference statism and bureacracy (the opposite of nomadic trabalism) is what they *really* want.

Jason Steiner said...

I work in a business where a lot parents bring their children. What strikes me is how the kids skip...nearly every little girl skips and a surprising number of boys do as well. I see it as an expression of joy, a genuine excitement of being alive. I'm not suggesting adults start skipping but whatever happens to socialize us to take that joy out of us is definitely a bad thing.

Bruce Charlton said...

O have noticed this too, it seems quite spontaneous, and a sign of happiness.

Anonymous said...

I think that the quote - Being as children - , (...to be able to come - near God in the Heavens - ... ), has more to do with the inherrent, and also the well needed, the completness, and the holesomeness, in which specifically children show - Trust - ....
Most children are capable of a holehearted, and of a complete, of a holy and a total, - Trust - , towards their - Fathers and Mothers - , (but also others)...
I believe that it is this their capacity of - holeheartedness -, and complete and devoted trust, which is wht is meant when there is talk of - Becoming like children - . ......(which is not so easy when people no longer are children, or have lost their capacity of - total trust - , and - total love - , and so forth....

But, at the same time, Paul talkes of - becomming full grown - , in Christ....(but perhaps for this to happend, there is the need of the - childlike - , complete, holeheartedly, capacity for - trust -....
(And also, the - full and complete trust - , is said to be able to - drive out fear -, and also to replace fear so that - love - (trust, hope, courage and so forth), can grow in its place....

(And also, not to forget : - Do not be afraid. He that is - within you - is stronger than - he that is in the world - ....and so forth....)
JB

lgude said...

Thanks Bruce. Now I get the 'as children' point. Just finished your piece on the evolution of instincts and that is just the sort of thing I am talking about. My experience with Aboriginal people makes that ground familiar. When I add a spiritual and moral dimension I think that balancing these instincts only gets us so far because I think both have a positive and negative form. Equity seeking movements dominated by murderously dominant individuals such as Stalin, Pol Pot or somewhat less so Maduro is regression just as is the Mafia or your local bikie gang. The suggestion that it is more satisfying to seek equity within small groups - not whole populations seems right to me. I think I try to live that way among a small circle of friends where I give what I can and take what is given.