The most important metaphysical assumption is the loving creator.
This is really The Key to understanding reality - and it is, indeed, the key to the possibility of understanding anything.
This key was given in the person and teachings of Jesus; but it is also directly-available to anybody and everybody by personal revelation of the Holy Ghost.
It is because God is creator that God knows; and it is because God loves us that he has made this a world in which we too can know.
And - assuming the truth of the loving creator - without knowledge of the loving creator, we will necessarily misinterpret, will fail to understand, everything in this world; because we will be attempting to understand reality in a false context: a context lacking a loving creator makes the world not-necessarily coherent, thus unknowable; and our own 'knowledge' (of any-thing, even of context) arbitrary or self-contradictory.
This is ultimately why Christianity was conducive to theology, philosophy and science... because the assumptions of Christianity make rational the hope that Man can Know.
Ultimately, the only reason to believe in the loving creator is that it is true; and that it is true can only be known by personal revelation, and by the further recognition that personal revelation is the ultimate form of knowledge. So this must also be assumed.
Once the loving creator has been believed, once known - had-faith-in; then (in principle) everything potentially makes-sense to us.
Conversely, lacking belief in the loving creator, there is no reason why we would be able to know anything - and indeed this is the implicit (sometimes explicit) position of other religions and of atheism: i.e. that Man does not understand anything.
In sum: more than just the reality of a creator deity is necessary for human knowledge - because real human knowledge also requires the loving 'attitude' of God (the creator) towards Men.
Thus a personal creator God, God-as-a-person (capable of love), is a necessary requirement for there to be any possibility of human knowledge.
But I have, certainly since age five when I began school and was first told stories from The Bible and showed naturalistic illustrations, felt an inner dissatisfaction and discomfort with the historical context of Jesus in Palestine. I found the Middle Eastern setting to be alien, and unappealing - and have never felt any serious desire to go and visit the Holy Land sites.
By contrast I spontaneously liked the settings for Northern, especially forest, stories of gods and the supernatural - and enjoyed such illustrations, and the general feel of (say) Wagner's Rhinegold opera. This even extends to equivalent places in North America - such as the Hiawatha environment (which is indeed a Christian poem).
CS Lewis felt much the same - and in both our cases this feeling was strong enough to repel us from Christianity for considerable periods. This is interesting, because it may well be such irrational cultural prejudices that prevent some people getting interested in Christianity - they shouldn't make such a difference (if we were serious people), but apparently they sometimes actually do; so it is worth thinking about them.
It would, at least, be reasonable to have accounts of Jesus that did not so heavily emphasise the Middle Eastern angle - or had other backgrounds. This kind of thing was, after all, normal in the past, in ages of greater faith - Shakespeare's plays are an obvious example: for instance one of his most English plays is Midsummer Night's Dream, which is supposed to be in Greece. Medieval religious art usually depict their subjects in the costume and setting of the artist's time and place.
This is yet another way in which the historical emphasis which overwhelmed Christianity from the New Testament 'scholarship' of the early 19th century (originating in the German universities) has been so very damaging to faith.
Yet Christianity is an historical religion - it is (or should be) the establishment of the reality of time as sequential and linear. Jesus was born in a particular time and place; and Christianity depends on there being a before and after the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
(This is one reason why mainstream Christian metaphysics - which emphasises strongly that God and ultimate reality is outside-of-time; and that time is merely a kind of temporary illusion of mortal earthly life - is so deeply and seriously mistaken.)
On the other hand, there could be ways of talking about Jesus that simply accept the historical context as true and necessary; and then emphasise the current situation - e.g. in which Jesus is now the on-going ruler of this world, and engages directly with each person via the Holy Ghost. We could jump straight into the everyday life of Christian engagement with these spiritual realities - and these could be discussed in any setting, whether contemporary or ideal or fantasy...
This is, of course, what CS Lewis did so successfully with the Narnia Chronicles; to some extent, he wrote about Jesus and Christianity in an environment which had a powerful spontaneous appeal to him, personally - and it turned-out plenty of other people found this effective too.
Here is a really important role for the Fantasy genre (and another reason why Christian hostility to Fantasy is counter-productive); a way in which the imagination can interact with the Christian essence - in multiple ways, preferably - to make Christianity something that is more spontaneously attractive to more people.
He may be gigantic (and green) - but he's not really jolly...
Because nations are too big - way too big; just as cities, corporations, charities, towns, villages, universities, colleges, research groups, schools - and their classes are too big...
Indeed, pretty much everything nowadays is too big - except for families.
But for this reason - nationalism is Not a Good Thing. It's preferable to super-nationalist entities such as the EU, UN, NATO, Multi-nationals, and those semi-secret conspiracies of the elites.
But although (for example) Brexit is better than Remain - it still isn't aiming at anything Good - quite the opposite! Let's not get carried-away by the battles of today: the lesser of two evils is preferable; but it's still evil.
If I knew then what I know now, I would do as follows:
Sit down with The Bible, in the (divinely-inspired) Authorised/ King James Version - and read Only the Fourth Gospel (ie. 'John's Gospel).
Try to read it as if you knew nothing else about Jesus, or Christianity; and read it, study it, live-with-it... under the assumption that it is true and was written by a truthful eye-witness whom Jesus especially loved.
You will (if you are like me!) find it one of the most beautiful prose compositions in the language - and perhaps that will be your overwhelming first impression: keep reading...
It isn't easy to read - but it makes its core points over and over again in different ways, and in different words; so that there is nothing important that is left ambiguous or unclear... so if you don't get it the first or second time, you will catch-on sooner or later.
Then you can go back and check you impressions and conclusions. Read it skimming through quickly, read it in-order; and also read slowly, it out of order: homing-in on parts of special interest.
Read the Fourth Gospel as if it was the only truly authoritative, first-hand source we had about Jesus - because, in a vital sense, it probably is. At any rate, read it as if there was nothing else and you had never heard anything else about what Christianity was, or should be - extract all this from the Fourth Gospel... And see what you make of it.
In other words, if you are thinking of becoming a Christian - extract the essence of what that means, what that is or might potentially be, from the Fourth Gospel. Don't read anything else, don't ask anybody else, don't think about investigating a church... until after you have grasped the nature and teachings of Jesus from the Fourth Gospel.
That is not what I actually did myself; but more than a decade down-the-line that is what I would advise - although probably few would agree with me!
This decline is for bad reasons - such as cynicism, self-conscious embarrassment and short attention span - as well as for potentially good reasons such as theosis; but either way it seems we must increasingly seek outside of ritual.
Ritual can be seen as a way of focusing and attuning attention to attain a more predictable spiritual result - ritual is therefore intrinsically narrow; and intrinsically likely to fall into ineffectiveness, either from incompetence on one side, or habituation on the other.
Rituals can create a narrow strength and at the same time create new vulnerabilities - precisely because of this narrowness, and because of one ritual being vulnerable to another. This is known among ascetic monastics: intense monastic practices may increase spirituality in a relatively predictable and focused way; but they also open the practitioner to demonic 'attacks' to which normal people are almost immune. This is why ascetic practices are done under supervision and by apprenticeship - and even then, the precautions don't always work and the seeker falls into the damning state of spiritual pride.
My vision of the future is one in which the process of theosis is broader and more creative; and perhaps takes itself more lightly rather than trying to achieve divinisation 'by assault'. as among ascetic monastics. An awareness of the inevitability of error - trial and error, and the necessity for frequent repentance; a recognition that success will be infrequent and short-lived, but vitally important nonetheless... such an attitude seems appropriate.
Where then does strength and courage come from? From the actuality of direct relationships with the divine (e.g. Heavenly Father, Son, Holy Ghost) and with angelic helpers - and from solid intuitive affirmations of personal revelations.
What about when the questions and challenges arrive too thick and fast for such slow and careful methods to cope-with? Well, then we can discover (by the above means) general strategies for dealing with classes of problems - the mass media, propaganda, educational systems, law etc.
We are in a transitional phase - as usual; and rituals may still have an important role; but they probably ought not to be at the centre and making-up the core of a modern Christian religious life.
This is one of my rare topical posts - triggered by something written by Rod Dreher - about literal witchcraft among the SJWs - this something that I have noticed myself over the years in the media (perhaps especially in Mind, Body, Spirit section books); although I have no personal knowledge of any such thing, so the whole thing could be a type of fake news.
In other words it is possible that the phenomenon of Social Justice Warriors witches is not real, just as the phenomenon of Alt-Right black magic used to elect Donald Trump is not real. In other words, that there is not-really any genuine widespread attempt, by people who believe in its reality, to use real black magic (summoning the aid of demons) to harm people.
Although the very fact that made-up stories of genuine White Nationalist Fascist Fundamentalist Christian magic terror groups is so mainstream media discussed and apparently acceptable suggests that here we have projection at work; with Leftists loudly and pre-emptively accusing their enemies of doing whatever they themselves are doing. I personally find this persuasive: that SJW witches are real precisely because the left have invented 'right wing' bogeyman they accuse of it.
So should we be worried? Yes - but Rod Dreher's worries are probably not my worries. I don't think there is any doubt that evil-motivated magic will harm the magic-user - harm in a spiritual sense: self-damn them. But many tens of millions of Westerners have already done this, have explicitly chosen moral inversion, and self-damnation, and advertise the fact and engage in active propaganda for the evil side of the culture war: the mass media is full of such people, and so are the ranks of the ruling elite in all major social institutions.
Those who summon demonic aid in their political activism might become willing dupes, obedient servants or even hand themselves over and be possessed by demons - by their own choice - and as such they do great evil (again, just look at the leaders of most Western nations and international organisations and mega-corporations). And that those engaged in this kind activity can harm innocents - by torturing, sexually abusing, or killing them as part of rituals.
But - despite the evidence claiming otherwise - I don't believe that magic users can do anything that demonic forces would not otherwise be able to do; such as remotely hexing or otherwise magically harming people unaware of them; casting a spell on someone to make them sick, or inflict pains and the like.
I'm not going to argue this - but personally I just don't believe it is possible in this world - it would be a denial of free will, which is a given; a denial that creation is of God.
And this seems to be the aspect that most worries most people about magic; that it will be used at a distance to influence and compel, to inflict pain and kill, to change weather, cause plagues to materialise, make bad luck, to defeat armies at a distance... that kind of stuff. I just don't think this can happen.
I'm pretty sure that evil magical rituals work only on the souls of those engaged in them; that individuals can gain pride, motivating lust and hatred, sadistic pleasure etc. as they surrender to evil - but they don't gain supernatural powers of surveillance or control.
So we should be 'worried' - or rather not 'worry' (not worry about anything at all, ever) but acknowledge. Indeed we probably ought to
anticipate this kind of thing happening in these End Times. I think the
valid prophecies seem to suggest that at an advanced stage of the End Times, mainstream evil will - indeed must - become explicitly demonic, and positively-evil.
We are currently in a transitional phase (an Antichrist phase) when witchcraft is practiced openly at a huge scale but where magic intent is denied; where demonic symbolism and rituals are routinely deployed but made a joke of; where the inversion of virtue, truth and beauty are normal but claimed to be merely an evolutionary advance upon The (same old) Good - much as modern conceptual art (e.g. Damian Hurst, Tracy Emin) is supposed to have evolved from Rembrandt. This corresponds to the Antichrist pretending to Be Christ.
This current phase of open-but-deniable Black Magic is presumably trending towards a situation in which the motivations are admitted; and that which is evil is pronounced to be Good. The Antichrist unmasks as Satan; or is replaced by Satan - and Satan is pronounced to be God, to be worshipped as God.
Unlike this current era of (feigned, dishonest) materialism; the final phase will be openly supernatural; the reality of God, angels and demons; souls; and continued life-beyond-death will re-enter mainstream public discourse - the truth of Spiritual Warfare will be acknowledged... but all inverted in value. However, this can happen only when enough people have become very thoroughly corrupted.
So, we've got that still to look forward too, I suppose.
Since communism; we have lived in a weirdly inverted world in which the elite, while remaining the elite and retaining their wealth, status and power; operate by creating, importing and sustaining a supposed proletariat of deserving 'victims'; the whole system functioning by extracting resources from a diminishing minority of full-time working taxpayers (i.e. the reviled 'middle class' - predominantly composed of native-born married men).
It is a weird world... The fact that almost-nobody can see what is factually the case; and instead regards this as a world in which the only group of people who do real work, and support the others; are actually the only group of people who are openly mocked, loathed and persecuted is perhaps not surprising - given that the workers are a shrinking minority.
But the further interesting and significant aspect is that the ruling elites are systematically and strategically destroying this system - which seems to benefit them so much; especially by importing truly colossal numbers of increasingly entitled and resentful dependents from around the world - in the UK amounting to one major city's worth per year (more than 10 million added to a country of 60 million in just 15 years).
Obviously this will destroy the system.
What will the result be? Well, on present trends, a wide-spread and
lasting state of widespread mutual envy, resentment, material greed and
fear. A low-level war of each group against all others, of fragile fake
alliances; a world in which the individual is defined by allocated
group; and thus a world in which groups cohere only by fear - and in
which self-destructive despair lies in wait whenever fear and hatred
So the elite are deliberately sawing-off the branch they rest upon: but why?
My answer is that the elite persons are the servile dupes of the real rulers - who are supernatural demonic forces of evil; this explains why the elite are Not ruling in their own best interest - nor the best interests of any humans.
And it is surprising how very few people recognise this fact!...
Well - no it isn't surprising - since this real-reality is ruled-out for almost everyone by the assumption that there cannot exist any such cause.
This is a weird world, it is a delusional world; but that is to be expected - insanity is inevitable - when the public world is one in which spiritual facts are ruled-out by prior assumptions that (because the assumptions are metaphysical) cannot ever be refuted by any possible evidence.
But insanity is maladaptive, necessarily - by ignoring crucially-explanatory causal realities, behaviour fails: it cannot sustain itself.
Consciousness is indeed the key - and the problem can be approached from several directions to yield this same answer: that (here and now, in our current situation) we must become aware of that which we used to take for granted, unconsciously - and must actively and knowingly embrace what we used passively to obey.
All this need to take place in a Christian frame - because consciousness without Christianity is a curse; and will be fled from into instinct, intoxication or passive obedience (as we see). And because without God (a personal God, the creator, who loves us each personally), there can be no knowledge.
The problem is seldom presented; but when acknowledged it is usually in terms of whom we should obey... The mainstream materialist media? A particular church? Our own pleasure seeking/ suffering avoiding instincts?
None of these will suffice, none of them are acceptable or effective. Unacceptable to our deepest, intuitive selves; ineffective in terms of this modern world.
We need each to 'dig' down to expose our fundamentasl assumptions to consciousness, so that we know what we have believed; then we should either consciously endorse these assumptions as solidities upon which we can build; or reject them - replace them.
But this is not a safe path - and it is worrying how many assumptions melt-away under the spotlight of consciousness and the tireless gaze of intuition. It is likely that we will be left with fewer assumptions; at any rate that is my experience. It is almost certain that we will be in a minority of one...
But those assumptions which remain after such a process are solid; we know them, and can defend and retain them against external attack because we do not regard external attackers as valid.
We can defend them in thought - I mean. Indeed, better than that - much better - they no longer need defending... They have become ultimately unassailable.
Of course; external power can influence, perhaps control, our mortal bodies; can terrorise us, perhaps, into doing or saying this or that; but once an assumption has been exposed and made conscious and intuitively endorsed... well, then we have it forever, we can't ever again be rid of it even if we want to - because then we will know that we are only kidding ourselves, and would not be rid of it.
We can nowadays, in The West, survive and thrive only on known certainties (both known, and certain) - and this process seems to be the only way to get them.
Published in the current issue of Oxford Magazine – by Bruce G Charlton
Review of: Jeremy Naydler. In the shadow of the machine: the prehistory of the computer and the evolution of consciousness. Temple Lodge Publishing: Forest Row, Sussex, 2018 pp xi, 373.
Oxford residents might have come-across Jeremy Naydler; since he often guides tours of the city and has given lectures to a wide range of local groups over recent decades. He is also a Fellow of the Temenos Academy, and teaches at their London headquarters. Or perhaps you have come-across him looking after flowers and vegetables in the suburbs? Because Naydler’s main lifetime job has been as a gardener.
He read PPE in the nineteen seventies and then pursued scholarly interests independently before completing a PhD in middle age; on the subject of the pyramid texts of Ancient Egypt. Since publishing books on this subject and on Goethe’s science in 1996; Jeremy Naydler has become, in my judgment, one of the most interesting and original living writers in Britain.
Naydler’s central concern is the interaction between human consciousness and human culture; and he is of the opinion (which I share) that changes in human consciousness have been a driving factor in cultural evolution; as well as cultural evolution having affected human consciousness. Hence the subtitle of this book: The prehistory of the computer and the evolution of consciousness.
What makes this book distinctive is that it is a prehistory of computers. In other words, it is about the stepwise change in human thinking and technology that led, over a span of thousands of years, to the situation in the late 20th century in which - suddenly – computers became first possible, then developed with astonishing speed, and then swiftly took-over first the material world and, increasingly, human thinking. For this progression to happen in just three generations from the first electronic computers until today, was possible only because all the necessary pieces were already in-place.
In the Shadow of the Machine is thus a work in the genre History of Ideas, and as such it is exceptionally thorough and carefully argued. The argument is broadly chronological, describing many steps in the development of each significant component necessary for the computers of today. And as well as describing the specifics of the technological changes; these are related to the necessary conceptual change in the people involved, without which the technological progression could not have happened, and would neither have been understood nor implemented.
Naydler starts with some of the most simple of technologies from the oldest societies of which we have record; such as the Ancient Egyptian methods for raising water; or, as another example, medieval clocks and renaissance calculating devices. He explains why there were periods when apparently-valuable technologies were known-about but not used; then quite rapidly, something changed and the technologies became widespread.
But computers are software as well as hardware; so Naydler also lists and discusses the changes in symbolic notation, language, numbers, logic and so forth – and how these were implemented in physical form – via cogs, punched cards, switches etc.
Then there is electricity; without which computers would have remained exceedingly simple and slow. One of the most fascinating themes of this book is the discussion of the mysterious nature of electricity (and electricity turns-out to be much stranger, and much less well understood, than commonly realised); and the way that its ‘reputation’ began as something dark sinister, alien, inhuman – but later took on increasingly positive connotations until it became so pervasive as to be all-but invisible.
In the Shadow of the Machine takes up right up to the early years of modern computers and the threshold of our current era, and concludes with some wise words about the implications of computers for the way we think – and the established and increasing degree to which our own thinking is entrained to being computer-compatible; such that we habitually think like machines, and tend to disregard any thinking that does not conform to this reduced mode.
In sum; this is a book of ancient history that is of crucial importance for the present and future.
In The Matrix movie (1999) there is a character called Cypher who chooses to live a life of pleasant delusion plugged-into the Matrix, rather than to live in reality where there is considerable hardship, deprivation, constant threat. For Cypher, 'red pill' reality is wholly negative (bad food, sexual frustration - the only relief being intoxication), whereas 'blue pill' life in the Matrix simulation has at least some positive features.
Cypher is a representative modern Man - a normal member of Western society: which is to say he is a materialist and a hedonist: he lives to maximise here-and-now pleasure and minimise suffering. For him it is better to live a fake life than a miserable one; and if life isn't net pleasurable then it is better to be dead and oblivious ASAP.
Contrast Morpheus: he seems happy, is positive about real life, and feels no fear. Why the difference? Because Morpheus is not a materialist - he is religious, and because (therefore) he does not live for pleasure but for meaning and purpose in an ultimate sense.
Cypher's life is meaningless and purposeless - whether inside the Matrix or outside of it; therefore he prefers the most pleasurable option. Cypher is also a traitor, quite happy to sacrifice or actively kill his 'family' when that seems likely to brings him more pleasure... and, from his perspective, why not?
When life is material and evaluated by pleasure - as it surely is for most mainstream, modern, people in the West - then Cypher is normal, and Cyphers's morality the only that makes sense. The Cyphers of this world do not want reality, because the 'reality' they are prepared to acknowledge has zero meaning; and if they are forced to take a red pill and inhabit their version of real-reality then they will seek intoxication, to return to the fake work of delusions; or will kill themselves (since they believe that biological death means the end of consciousness).
The red pill is therefore only valuable to the religious; to those who acknowledge reality beyond materialism, life beyond biology. This is why most people prefer lives of mass media addiction, plugged-into the Matrix of the internet and social media 24/7 - and why they are purposively and by choice hedonic, immoral, intoxication-seeking, and prone to despair.
Yet, to be a materialist hedonist is itself a choice - a metaphysical choice; such people have decided to reject the possibility of meaning and purpose and real relationships. In a nutshell, they have decided that God is not and cannot be real - the consequence being that nothing is real (except current feelings- and these are transient). They have then closed their minds to having made this decision and claim it has been forced upon them by 'evidence'.
They claim that it is Morpheus who is deluded; that Morpheus is living a lie, that Morpheus is the one who indulges in wishful thinking that prophecies are true, and Neo is the saviour; claim that Morpheus is pretending because living a lie happens to be more pleasurable to him personally.
And no matter what actually happens, they will continue to believe that life is nothing more than materialistic, meaningless hedonism - and that anything which Neo does to save is just-a-coincidence... No possible evidence is ever going to be sufficient to persuade the Cyphers that they were wrong, are wrong, have made an error of assumption. No evidence will ever suffice because their primary (denied) choice to reject God is metaphysically-deep, and therefore that primary choice frames their interpretation of whatever happens-to-happen.
Cypher is the normal, majority, representative modern Man because he has chosen to make his actual life, and all possible lives he might ever lead in any circumstances, meaningless - and he is stuck in this situation, permanently; because he will never admit that this was in fact a choice that he actually made.
There is a common notion that there could, in principle, be a ruling Matrix that was entirely an Artificial Intelligence; consisting entirely of computers - and that such could (for good or ill) administer reality.
But this is not possible, even in theory. The world of computers is a world of quantities, of numbers; and as such excludes the issue of which qualities - of the entirety of open-ended and interconnected reality - is being 'modelled' by the numbers.
But modern Man has become very adept at blinding himself to the presence of Beings in all functional systems - Beings with life, consciousness and purpose. The Scientist is left-out of science, The Bureaucrat ignored in a Bureaucracy. Yet he is always present, always making selections and judgements and over-riding The System - and necessarily so.
This will never go away - so if, or when, there is claimed to be a purely objective, quantitative, numerical System in place; there will always be, somewhere and probably concealed, a Being or Beings standing-outside and above The System and manipulating it, adjusting it; partly to maintain its processes, and overall in-line-with their purposes.
It is ultimately these Beings which matter; far more than any System, any Artificial Intelligence - and in some ways The System functions merely to conceal this reality. It is a case of 'Pay no attention to that Being behind The System...'.
And this is precisely why modernity is tending towards a single bureaucratic System; why all mainstream politics and media converge upon this version of the future; because The Matrix both facilitates and conceals the influence of demonic Beings on the world.
A convincing prophet meets The Saviour - offers cookies...
(NOTE: Many spoilers below.)
I have just rewatched The Matrix movie (1999) and I thought it was even better second time around. I had a memory that there was a flaw in that the martial arts scenes were over-extended - but (with the exception of the gunfight rescue of Morpheus) this is not really the case: there is something being told us with almost all of the phases of the various battles.
My impression this time around is that The Matrix is a really outstanding 5 Star movie; in which nothing goes for nothing - and where there is a very satisfying quality to the whole thing. I found it genuinely wise - in those parts where wisdom was aimed-at. The acting (and direction) of the principal actors is outstanding.
I was more aware of the spiritual dimension of the piece, too; there is an Old Testament like prominence given to prophecy (and the importance of prophets - ie. The Oracle). For Christians, there are several strong symbolic aspects (not necessarily deliberate - the authors aren't Christian), if we want to notice them: Morpheus as John the Baptist; Neo as Saviour who dies and is resurrected; Trinity (more loosely) as Mary Magdalene etc. But these I noticed afterwards, on reflection, rather than during. The end is not perfect - more than a touch of the inexplicit 'walking into the sunset' about it - but good enough to make the movie 'work'.
I think one of the aspects that helped me enjoy The Matrix more the second time, was that I set-aside the central nonsensical plot implausibility, which was apparently externally imposed on the film makers; of having the Matrix consist of human 'batteries' - their bodies providing energy to the Machines. Instead; I mentally-substituted the original conception that the machines were exploiting human minds and their computing power, and that an interconnected human neural network constituted most of the Matrix.
Having started watching the second Matrix movie; the sudden gap in quality and aspiration is very obvious. It's not that the sequels are bad - as movies they are fine - but that they are utterly different and at a much lower level of ambition (and therefore attainment). They also create the plot swerve and raggedness that makes it turn-out that Agent Smith is actually The One; whereas in the first movie it is unambiguously Neo - and this swerve destroys some of the coherent, satisfying, underlying, symbolism of the The Matrix.
Aside; I always regard it as a pity when a totalitarian dystopia is established by a 'fascistic' war and imposed by violence; whereas in this real world the analogous society is being incrementally and bureaucratically-implemented without significant resistance by the global ruling class; with the active support and cooperation of the linked bureaucracies and mass media. The real-world Matrix is actually-existing socialism; meanwhile the real-world rebels are characterised as Right Wing Reactionaries and enemies of individual 'freedom' (especially extra-marital-transgressive sexual freedoms).
Of course, such a truthful movie could never emanate from Hollywood, nor - specifically - from the makers of The Matrix. We have to make such adjustments ourselves, by our personal interpretative work.
I discovered this for myself by using Benzoyl Peroxide 10% as an antiseptic on a mosquito bite which looked as if it would get infected.
A blob of cream onto the bite, then this was covered by a sticking plaster overnight - because Benzoyl Peroxide is a bleach, and will bleach your clothing, bedding or towels if it is not covered, then washed-off carefully.
Within less than an hour, the bite had stopped itching, and the next day it had started to flatten-out - I generally had no further trouble.
To provide context, a mosquito bite will usually last me for 4-6 weeks, and itch for most of that time.
This first accidental experiment seemed promising; so I tried it a few more times over the summer (which was exceptionally warm, humid and mosquito-y), and it works for me as described above. Once I needed an extra second overnight treatment when a bite began itching again.
I've also found a couple of similar experiences reported on the interweb - so it seems pretty conclusive. Mosquito bites can apparently be cured with 10% Benzoyl Peroxide - which product is obtainable without prescription - it is mostly used to treat acne.
Note added: In the comments; CCL describes hypothetical possible mechanisms by which BP might work to help mosquito bites. Conventionally BP is supposed to have a dual-action - an oxidising antiseptic in the short-term and and a peeling agent over a few days. But the rapidity of the action I describe, suggests to me that BP is rapidly denaturing the mosquito saliva to prevent its irritating effect, and also disabling the local inflammatory immune response... in some way.
This is the first - perhaps only? - first-rank classical opera aria written by an English composer; here sung with a gorgeously liquid mezzo tone by Tatiana Troyanos, and accompanied to perfection by the great Charles Mackerras.
Recitative Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me,
On thy bosom let me rest,
More I would, but Death invades me;
Death is now a welcome guest.
Aria When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
From Dido and Aeneas (1983-8) - Music by Henry Purcell, words by Nahum Tate.
It was in the summer of 1991 that I developed a newly intense awareness-of, sensitivity-to, landscape - and that has remained with me. Certain 'views' and places evoke a powerful sensation.
The raw feeling has stayed the same, but my understanding or interpretation of this raw feeling has changed a great deal. Then I would muse on my genetic and cultural links to the place; and I would hope for some kind of real-world, material, and indeed political change.
In effect; then I was regarding affecting landscape, place, situation etc. as representing or signalling a means to some other end; a spiritual sign of hoped-for material change: change in my fortunes, economic improvement, a renaissance of culture.
In one word, the ecstatic feeling was secondary; and the base reason was that I was a materialist, and I believed only in that which was ultimately sense-perceptible, and I was sure that mortal life was the only life so my task was to have as pleasant a life as possible. Therefore, if evocative landscape was to have a real, rather than self-deceptive and delusional, value; it must therefore be some presage or hint at the direction some possible life change that would lead to my greater happiness.
(Later on, when I became interested in hunter-gatherer shamanism; I would try to sink-myself-into this feeling; to lose my self-consciousness by inhabiting it. This almost never worked! - or rather, if it did, then I would not (by definition!) be aware of its success.)
Now; things are different - partly in attainment, and more in aspiration. That same feeling is now grounded in an awareness that the feeling represents a reality; and specifically a reality in the realm of thinking.
Because I now have a very different set of metaphysical assumptions regarding the fundamental nature of reality; when I become aware of the feeling evoked by some place or situation and I am trying to interpret and understand what is going-on; I have a knowledge that this thinking is a reality, and that there is a relationship between my-self and that which I am regarding - a 'personal' relationship between Beings.
I am aware that distance is irrelevant when there is a shared basis in reality - because that shared basis is the only direct and proximate and real form of sharing. I don't expect to understand what this experience 'means' in any specific or explicit way - but I know that it does have meaning.
This is quite distinct from the idea of an experience being valuable 'in itself' - because value needs a context or else it is meaningless; and meaning requires purpose, so that context for experience must be dynamic, a process, a narrative.
Now, my context is creation, and the primary reality is in what might be termed 'divine thinking' - creation is God's thinking, and our knowledge-of and participation-in God's creation is also by thinking - and not, therefore, by the actions of material bodies.
In sum; when I experience that ecstatic feeling from landscape Now - assuming I remember and am able - it is not just a means-to-an-end but instead a permanently significant and direct experience.
The problem (for God) is to harmonise the individual free-wills of a multitude of men. This must be on the one hand a choice, yet on the other hand robust - permanent - if Heaven is to be viable.
It was the work of Jesus to enable free wills to harmonise in this way.
This could not be achieved by The Father - he could only subordinate wills, passively, by obedience to his laws. It could only be achieved by the Son.
This was possible because the real-divine self is universal - and thus selves are 'overlapping', but the incarnated body is capable of genuine agency. In this way, a choice of the real-divine self has universal consequences.
So, while thinking from false, or superficial selves is merely a personal and private fantasy; thinking from the real-divine self is a potentially-universal, shared reality. The 'mechanism' of salvation is consciousness - and by theosis - meaning that it is by becoming divine in our thinking that we attain to permanent salvation, in which state all wills are naturally aligned, because all are thinking from reality.
(Reality being the creation of God.)
In this sense, the mechanism of salvation by the incarnate Jesus, was that Jesus was thinking from his real-divine self, and whatever he achieved in his body was therefore universal.
But this becoming-divine (divination) of consciousness can only be chosen; it cannot be imposed. Thus Jesus need to be incarnated as a Man, to make this free choice.
In contrast, those who take a path of not-thinking, or of obedience merely to the father - and also those who choose a path of amplifying their purely-personal imaginings - cannot move to the level of universal reality that is Heaven.
It is love that enables the move; love that makes people want reality; hence the two great 'commandments' to love God and 'neighbour'. These commandments are not orders to be 'obeyed'; they are an objective description of the choices that are required.
Unless you love God and his creation and also your neighbours - who will dwell with you in Heaven - then you Will Not join it.
We join as individuals; but we then live in-creation with all others who live in-creation.
If you do Not want to live with these others in chosen harmony, because you love them; then you will Not inhabit creation. You will therefore live out-of-creation, in chaos; either consciously alone in your own imagination, or else unconsciously (unaware) alone in chaos (Nirvanah).
Choice is a necessary aspect of free will, which is a fact of existence; the creative harmony of Heaven cannot be imposed but most be chosen - and for Heaven to be harmony it must be chosen for love.
Not, of course, the specific person, his name and history; but yes.
Since we can have a relationship with the Holy Ghost, and have the possibility of direct knowledge from the Holy Ghost; we can know Jesus without being told.
We can know from death and its implications, that we need a saviour - who could offer us eternal life.
We can know from life and its problems and limitations, that we need to become divine; that we need theosis: we need to become Sons of God.
Thus we can know what we need and that we cannot get it for ourselves; and we could learn - directly from a relationship with the Holy Ghost - that we have, in fact, been granted what we need - if we choose to accept it.
So, even if there was no Bible, or we had no access to Scripture, or if it had been corrupted; or if Christian churches were absent or corrupted - we could come to know and love Jesus Christ.
In a piece at my Inklings blog (The Notion Club Papers) I take a brief, but representative and revealing, passage from the biography of CS Lewis by Alister McGrath. I interpret it as a microcosm of the escalating Spiritual War that has become all-pervasive - un-avoidable, choice-compelling - in these End Times.
What they think is important is trivial and false; what they suppose to be proven-untrue is not just correct but blindingly obvious to the meanest intellect; what they suppose to be based on evidence is simply assumed...
Every new idea they have is wrong and harmful; everything they want to abolish is better than what they want to replace it with...
The people they admire are manufactured fakes - the people they despise include saints and creative geniuses.
Their idea of beauty is viscerally ugly - they go to great expense and effort to erect vile and useless buildings and construct futile technologies.
They mock wholesome virtue and call it hypocrisy because it is flawed; and give medals, prizes and aristocratic titles to the successfully greedy, lustful, dishonest and exploitative - especially when they boast about their wickedness.
Their entire world view is a conspiracy theory of made-up paranoia; while they label common sense inferences based on plain facts as conspiracy theories.
They regard themselves as anti-authoritarian while believing anything and everything purely on the basis of their notions of high status provenance.
Most importantly, they despise and mock faith - regarding it as gullible, wishful thinking; their own faith is invisible to them, paradoxically denied by them - yet is responsible for all the above.
What is the point in compiling, detailing and trying specifically to combat the never ending, ever-worsening examples of the sheer, delusional insanity of political correctness?
Surely, after what you must know of, from personal experience and via trusted sources, about (say) three of these witch-hunts; then you must know they are a not-going-away reality?
And surely, people must have reached that point... what, ten, twenty years ago?
In 2010 when I was writing my first book on political correctness - Thought Prison (2011) - I refrained from providing examples of PC madness (although I knew, from direct personal 'insider' experience, of several) because it was long-since time to move-on...
We now know (don't we?) that political correctness, Social Justice Warriors, the the New Left or Cultural Left (whatever you want to call it) is not a temporary blip, it is not a pendulum swing to be corrected soon, it is not going away!
Unless and when it will go away, because of a massive cultural transformation; and this massive cultural transformation must be religious.
The transformation need not (perhaps probably, on present trends, will not) be Christian; but it will absolutely certainly 100% NOT be secular, nationalist, common-sensical, materialist-economic, or from a desire to preserve Culture.
We know (don't we, surely?) that none of these are powerful enough (here and now) to achieve the transformation needed.
And the transformation must be a transformation - sensible tweaks and adjustments will only make matters worse, because any temporary benefits in efficiency or productivity will surely go to those in-power (the Global Establishment and their puppets); and they will use the resources to fuel yet more, and more-rapid, PC.
We also ought to know that a collapse of The System will not, of itself, be enough to end the totalitarian tyranny... Although it may render The West open to more rapid and complete religious colonisation from elsewhere (if any such is viable).
Unless the hearts and minds of people change, the End Times will become obvious to those with eyes to see; and will proceed irreversibly to the end of all things on a timetable we do not and cannot know.
Currently, that seems by far the most likely scenario - but the only hope of its being delayed is if people stop being fixated upon the daily incidents of mass politics, disengage from fake participation in media events; and focus on the deep, religious causes and cures of our situation.
Because our real situation is religious, not political; spiritual not material; about damnation not suffering.
My mantra remains what it was in 2011: Choose your religion: because TINA (There Is No Alternative).
In response to a recent post - commenter CCL posed an important question about the incompleteness of knowledge. I had asserted that what is known of reality directly and without communication was true; whereas anything communicated was indirect, selective, biased and necessarily untrue.
Yet even the directly-known reality is incomplete, since we have limited capacity for knowledge, limited time and experience - and ultimately because unless we already know 'everything' including all possible relations of things, then we cannot know anything, absolutely.
This analysis would seem to suggest that, since both direct and communicated knowledge are both incomplete - and incomplete in unknowable ways; mystical knowledge is in principle prone to wrongness for similar reasons to communication. It might be inferred that since both are incomplete, and because the entirety the reality can never be know; we can never really know anything about anything!
But this paradoxical conclusion derives from an unstated assumption which is that true knowledge of reality is being defined in an abstract and absolute fashion - and having set-up this abstraction of infinite and perfect knowledge we then find that any actual knowledge is, by comparison with supposed infinite perfection, always and necessarily deficient...
Yet the abstraction of infinite and perfect knowledge has no necessary reality! It is merely something we have said or thought: a ghost - a vague un-understood, indefinable notion which we then find has apparently invalidated even the knowledge that there is such a things as this supposed infinite and perfect reality!
(In other words; even if there was such a 'thing' as infinite and perfect knowledge, how could a finite and falwed creature such as myself or anyone else ever know that it was indeed real and true?)
I realise that such infinite, perfect abstractions have been the bread-and-butter of philosophy and theology for some two and a half thousand years - but neither that duration, nor the great eminence of the names who wrote as if they really solidly understood such abstraction, does not lend them ultimate validity in face of the intractable paradoxes that result from them.
One way that people try to get-around this paradox is to posit a God who comprehends all infinite perfections (the 'omni' God that is infinite in all respects - knowledge, power, presence etc.). But even such an incomprehensible, un-understandable and non-Biblical entity as the omni-God does not overcome the problem of how you and I could know for sure of that God's reality.
The answer is that knowledge is neither absolute, nor infinite, nor perfect; but is always relative to capacity, experience etc. Truth is a full understanding to the limit of our capacity - attained by direct apprehension, or 'mystically' - but our capacity (etc.) for knowledge may increase.
A being of far greater capacity and experience than ourselves - such as God, the creator - is capable of far greater knowledge. And as the capacity and experience of God increases through time, and the work of his children, so God's knowledge will increase.
Since all beings are finite, there is no absolute-truth, knowable solely by abstract definition, lying somewhere infinitely beyond actually-known-truth. Or rather - there is no reason why we must believe, by metaphysical assumption, that this is a correct description of reality.
Let us then assume that knowledge is Not to be regarded as an abstraction (capable of infinite perfection) - and instead assume that Creation consists of actual Beings (alive, conscious, with purposes), including God the creator, in relationships with one another. Let us assume that that is the ultimate reality.
In other words, let us assume that the basic understanding of children (and - apparently - of the most ancient type of tribal societies) has this basically correct; that the true metaphysics is built-into us; and it is our job to become aware of it and to understand it - rather than to reject it in favour of man-made paradoxical abstractions.
The faceless massed hosts of Heaven? No, not really....
The most powerful argument of 'modernism' is probably its positive attitude to, its advocacy of, individuality. It's interesting how often the argument comes down this - and serious Christians nearly always seem to end up arguing against individuality and in favour of some kind of communalism, some kind of subordination of the individual to the group - or to God.
Now, this is wrong - I think we feel it is wrong, at a deep intuitive level (I certainly do).
Furthermore, mainstream modern materialist Leftism is in practice strongly anti-individual (ie. totalitarian); while Christianity requires an absolute agency of each individual.
But how did this confusion arise - with so many people, for so long, arguing on the wrong sides?
I think the root of The Problem is, as usual, metaphysical - it relates to mistaken fundamental assumptions of most Christians concerning reality. The particular assumption relates to incarnation, the embodiment of humans - how and when this happens...
I think most Christians start from an unspoken and unexamined assumption that all Men were - to put it crudely - stamped-out as identical incarnate souls (probably) at some point between conception and birth; and all differences have arisen since then. The (wrong) assumption that all of us started-out The Same, and that individual differences we observe in this world are an unfortunate consequence of mortal corruption - and so the supposed-aim is that (in resurrected post-mortal life) we ought-to end-up as again The Same. This is envisaged as being absorbed-into a uniformity - as when Heaven is pictured (usually mentally) in terms of massed and apparently-uniform hosts, choirs, worshippers, praisers, armies, obedient classes of persons.
(Yet, surely, this conceptualisation clashes absolutely with the life and teaching of Jesus in the Gospels?)
In contrast, my contention is that the incarnation of Men is fundamentally like that of Jesus Christ. It is accepted by most Christians that Jesus was alive (co-eternally with The Father) before he was incarnated on earth; and (as is standard doctrine for Mormons) I believe that the same applies to all Men.
If such a pre-mortal spirit existence is accepted for all Men, and not for Jesus only; then this harmonises easily with the understanding that we, each of us, always-were distinct individualities. We were each unique individuals from eternity, from before we were conceived or born - we were born as unique individuals - and that is our ultimate and divine destiny.
Our Christian God, the creator, does not want same-ness, does not want people to be identical with one another: the plan always was and remains that we are unique individuals who should live together in-love.
And this is why love must be central to Christianity - it is by love (as we may glimpse in the best mortal marriage, family or friendship) that different individuals may live, work, create together in harmony and with a mutually-reinforcing (synergistic) effect.
The original Problem for God was therefore (in a very simplified sense) how to create this reality in such a way that already unique individuals would - voluntarily, by choice, in knowledge, over Time - reach a situation in which all would create-together in a wholly-harmonious and mutually-reinforcing way.
God has no interest in making everybody the same, or subordinating the individual - except sometimes as a matter of temporary expediency during the long period of learning. But the primary nature and goal of God's reality is of individuals working towards a loving harmony of creation.
Therefore, I regard the modernist materialist advocacy of individuality as a perversion and distortion of what God really does want. And I regard the standard mainstream Christian opposition to this individuality as an error; induced by the temporary expediencies of what might be termed 'social policy' or 'church order' - which are important but not fundamental Christian Goods.
It is a problem of traditional concepts of Christianity that it tends to set-up very focal and specific centres of Good - and these are easily subverted. If there is an especially holy place, person, ritual - then it gets noticed, labelled, publicised - and will attract concentrated demonic attention. Goodness comes under siege, is forced to defend and defend, and - sooner or later - the defence is breached.
This is what has happened about sacred places and site of pilgrimage - the more they are identified and discussed, the more that demonic persons will swarm to them. Glastonbury is a clear example. The mainstream churches another. The reputations of great and good persons or events is another.
It happens with everything, because when there isn't much goodness, overwhelming force can be brought to bear - while if goodness is common and dispersed, then this takes much longer to defeat - the forces of evil must act serially, and move from one target to another.
This was, we can now see in retrospect, what was happening through the 1800s into the middle 20th century - individual instances of goodness were identified and - in series - attacked, corrupted, subverted, destroyed or inverted.
But nowadays, when good places, people, things are rare - they can all be simultaneously outnumbered and simultaneously besieged (if they do not crumble instantly in the face of overwhelming force). For example, there are only few people of leadership calibre in any specific domain of human activity, and only a few of these natural leaders are good people - yet when a good leader emerges anywhere, he can be, and soon is, identified, surrounded, neutralised and destroyed.
There is a lesson here, I think: Goodness must now be more inward, dispersed, individual, bottom-up - less dependent on specific and vulnerable material factors. As usual, we cannot rely on looking outside ourselves for strong and stable spiritual guidance (guidance that we need only to obey) - such needs to come from a direct relationship with the divine.
In the summer and autumn of 1978, I discovered several people and themes that have remained with me over the past four decades; and which have interacted in some of my deepest and most intense concerns.
Perhaps the first was coming-across the composer Michael Tippett's volume of essays called Moving into Aquarius, which I found in an English bookshop in Athens. This really fascinated me, and I read and re-read it - eventually writing a fan letter to the author, to which I received a nice reply from his assistant.
Tippett's writing (and, of course, some of his music - especially the oratorios and operas) was about the division between science and technics on the one hand, and the imagination and art on the other - he classical 'Romantic' problem, in other words. I had already been primed for this, both from my own experiences as a scientist/ medical student who was also active in music and drama; and from reading RM Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in August 1976.
Over the summer vacation I made another discovery of William Arkle's Geography of Consciousness in the Edinburgh city library, with its introduction by Colin Wilson - leading onto my first reading of CW's The Outsider. Again the Romantic theme; but this time addressed in terms of the states of consciousness. The idea was that we actually solve the Romantic problem - albeit intermittently and for short periods of time - when we attain to certain, higher states of consciousness. And, of course, this has remained central to my thinking ever since.
During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of that year, I attended a comedy review during which some intermission music was provided by a pianist and double bassist playing Bach, slightly 'jazzed'. This led first to Jacques Loussier, and then to Bach played 'straight' on piano; that is, to Glenn Gould - initially his LPs of The Well-Tempered Clavier, then to the Goldberg variations and the Partitas. Over the next months; I found a few articles and interviews on Gould and recognised that he was a player of exceptional intensity and inspiration: that he played-in and communicated that same state of 'ecstatic' consciousness which was discussed by Arkle and Wilson.
So I began to brood on these matters, and on the way of life of these living geniuses; and tried to move my own life in the same direction - in my leisure from a pretty intensive course of study at Medical School. I began to think along mystical lines, including notions such as special times of magical being, the possibility of remote empathic contact, and the 'touching' of minds - these being another kind of that 'alienation-healing' consciousness.
Of course much else was happening during this eventful era; but this Romantic theme (which nowadays makes up the bulk of my blogging) was firmly established at that time.
It is often said that mystical experience is ineffable, that is it cannot be expressed or comprehended... but this restriction applies to all possible communications.
Communication is, in the first place, always a partial, hence distorted or biased, summary of reality (because, in reality, everything is linked and there are an open-ended number of possible relevant factors) - and following that, the transmission and reception and comprehension of any communication is liable to limitations and errors.
So ineffability is a false and misleading definition. What is trying to be said is simply that the only truth about reality must be known directly, without any communication. Thus, all communication can do is point in the direction of truth - and to share a truth is for two or more persons directly to experience the same truth.
All true knowledge of reality is therefore a 'mysical' experience.
And any communication that claims to be true - whether it be in the form of mathematics, logic, science or anything else - is making a necessarily false claim.
I suspect that this is the general-language pointer at the truth which underpins the specifically mathematical/ logical assertion of Godel's incompleteness theorem. All Mathematics. Logic, Science is always incomplete - hence always wrong; and wrong in ways that that discipline can never know (because all disciplines are based on communications, hence are incomplete).
Direct or 'mystical' knowledge is therefore the only real knowledge; and each must know it for himself, from personal experience - else it is not known.
Looking-back over my (non-)career, one striking aspect is that I have always been a hard-line extremist. And still am.
Whatever ideas I adopted, I pretty quickly took them to an extreme such that I could never find anybody else (in 'real life' or on paper) that took them quite as far as I did. (Still true.)
Of course, this meant that I was nearly-always wrong about things; but after all, wrongness is nearly universal - so that doesn't distinguish me from the norm.
However, the fact that I followed-through the wrongness and did not back-off to being 'moderate' and fuzzy when things started getting absurd, was exactly what brought me to abandon one wrong idea after another.
And once I had lived-through this experince of knowing the wrongness from-the-inside, it meant that I really knew why these things were wrong; and could then move-on.
Insofar as I have made any contributions, this is exactly why. I kept-on thinking and inferring until eventually the exact nature of my error/s became crystal clear.
So, while I am a bit ashamed, I mostly don't regret being so wrong about so many things; I don't see how else I personally would (in the end) have discovered something of truth and reality.
It seems to me that William Arkle explained this (in terms I can grasp and validate intuitively) better than almost anyone else I have encountered.
Arkle generally used the word 'friends' (specifically defined) to try and capture what God wanted us to become (in the fullness of eternity) - meaning by this that God wanted to raise us to full divinity, to bring us to a spiritual maturity, such that we could become like ideal friends.
This raising and maturing of God's children is the purpose of creation - to provide the necessary experiences.
Friends is nowadays, however, a rather weak word - since most modern people have few (or no) friends in Arkle's sense - just colleagues, acquaintances, buddies... Friendships, as we know them, are far feebler than marriages and families (even the trivialised and besieged modern marriages and families)... how many friends would move house to be near a friend, or give-up work to look after an ill friend? It happens, but far less often than with spouses, parents or children.
In that sense family relationships are closer to what God wants from us - and Arkle used the analogy of a father's possible relationship with (for example) a grown-up son who has himself married and has a family; in an ideal situation when both become friends as well as remaining father and son. If this ideal is extended horizontally, to include non spouses and not family - we have a vision of the heavenly society.
As a picture of this ideal and its extension, the Fourth Gospel explicitly shows us Jesus and his disciples; and the siblings Lazarus, Martha and Mary; and Jesus teaches us the way that this love works.
We can also see how this Love grows and extends incrementally, person by person, through time - and not by some sudden generalised and imposed state of being. So we need tot suppose that Christians are supposed - suddenly and somehow - to love everybody in this world indifferently; and the same would no doubt apply in the eternity to come.
As both friends and as family we therefore have a vision of God's ideal, and we can see how and why Love is the central quality necessary; and we can see the reason for the emphasis on love in the Fourth Gospel. But this love is - in an important sense - incomplete; because it describes a static state; whereas we know that love is dynamic, fluxing, changing - we love people as we do things together...
So what is it that God wants that we do, ideally, in Heaven? The answer is simple enough - it is to participate in Creation; to become colleagues in the work of Creation.
But for this to be clear and comprehensible, we need to remember that God's Creation is composed of Beings, and only Beings. God did not create by some kind of celestial physics of life-less minerals; on the contrary, everything God created is and always has been alive, conscious and purposive. It is this living, developing Creation in which we are to participate. And this includes the creation, begetting, of persons - in a general sense the having of 'children'.
What God wants from us is two fold. We are God's children, and God wants us on the one hand to grow to become fully divine friends, bound by love; and on the other hand God wants us to participate in the divine work of Creation.
The two things go together, and indeed grow together.
Modern materialist Man seems to have decided that to be dead is like being permanently in deep sleep, unaware of the self, unaware of anything.
The ancient world also seems to have regarded death as like being asleep; but like dreaming sleep. The Hades of the Greeks and Sheol of the Jews were states of being much like the world of dreams - the self was feeble, agency was feeble, the individual had little control and was merely swept-along by events.
In the ancient underworlds, as in dreams; memories slipped away almost as soon as formed, motivations likewise; understanding likewise. To be dead was thus to be delirious, or demented - to become a ghost - living in a perpetual present mostly dominated (like dreams) by perplexed incomprehension, confusion, angst - but presumably with interludes of pleasure and satisfaction.
We should note, therefore, that the ancient understanding of death as underworld, Hades, Sheol was Not that all men 'went to Hell'. The state of dead souls was one to be dreaded, as a modern Man would dread delirium or dementia - but it was Not a state of perpetual misery or torment.
Among Rudolf Steiner's ideas is that our self is spiritual and not located, and our body is like a mirror for the external self; the self sees-itself in the body. A similar idea from Rupert Sheldrake is that memory is like an electromagnetic field - a radio signal - and the brain is like a receiver - a radio - which intercepts this field, interprets and broadcasts it.
Common to such ideas is the notion that the human brain, the body, are not the origin of our-selves; but these solid things are necessary for our immaterial/ extensive selves to become centred, focused, autonomous, agent...
Back to Steiner... he suggested that during sleep the consciousness and the self left-behind the living body - so deep sleep without dreams is our experience of merely being alive in the body, rather like a plant; whereas dreaming sleep was when we became 'located' with the consciousness outside the body, in the spirit.
By such an account, sleep is closely analogous to death; because with death the physical body dies - but not human consciousness. The body dies, but the soul continues. If our awareness becomes cut-off from our bodies; we might expect that the remaining consciousness would be incomplete, and we would experience its life much as does the dreamer.
An immortal soul detached from its living body is in much the same situation as the dreaming consciousness.
So - until the work of Jesus Christ - Man's death was universally like sleep, but like dreaming sleep; and this state seemed to be the permanent fate of the dead.
But since Jesus; the universal fate of Men has been resurrection; and resurrection reunites consciousness with the body; but with a permanent immortal body.
This suggests that resurrection would be analogous to awakening from dreaming sleep; and with a similar sense of renewed agency, freedom, self-awareness, control. The consciousness returns to its living body - but not to the mortal body left-behind a few hours ago; but instead to to a new living body, the resurrected eternal body.
The choice of Heaven of Hell is a choice of where this resurrected Man will dwell. Indeed, Hell was not possible until resurrection had been instituted.
In sum; BC there was universal Sheol but no Hell; after Christ Sheol was abolished, there was universal resurrection and the possibility of Heaven - but the coming of Christ was also the coming of Hell.
With Sheol there was no possibility of Men choosing Hell, because the dead lacked free will, so the dead could not choose. But Christ's gift of life everlasting brought the post-mortal capacity to choose - to choose evil, as well as to choose Good.
This is tough, intense, inspired music; and although I have listened to this piece hundreds of times over the past 39 years (various version by Gould and by many other interpreters), I haven't ever reached the bottom of it, or anything like - nor have I become fed-up with it.
As so often when Gould plays Bach, he shares the compositional credit in the sense that he recreates the music afresh (and differently from his album recordings). It is fascinating to watch him as he rocks his body and hums ('stimming' - for self-stimulating - as it is termed in Asperger's syndrome) yet without interfering with his hand control.
And look at those hands moving! They seem like weirdly shaped alien creatures; each pursuing its own independent agenda - and indeed each finger seems almost detached and autonomous of the hands.
The precision of playing is unsurpassed - and perhaps unequalled; and is especially evident in that Gould shapes each individual note, with as much attention to the note's ending as to its beginning - yet holds the musical idea with only the rarest and minor lapse in the sustained lines.
Gould's live playing is more accurate than any other great pianist I have ever seen; I only spotted one small actual mistake in the Aria and Canons (just about 9:50). Significantly, this is towards the end; and then there are a few mistakes in the separate Quodlibet - showing, I think, that Gould was becoming fatigued or losing the ecstatic state of concentration.
Gould is (in)famous for being the first great musician to eschew live performance - in his later career; and I think here we have the clues why. The way he played was so accurate, so exposed, and yet he made so remarkably few errors when playing well - that his standards were (even) higher than other greats, and even harder to maintain.
But such perfection was not attainable in live perfomance due to the need for sheer stamina: the exhausting travelling, setting up, socialising; the logistics of performance (new instruments, auditoria etc); the length of time he needed to play without a break. And Gould himself was so prone-to/ affected-by ailments and illnesses... That, in sum, I imagine it was excruciating for Gould (of all musicians) to be forced into playing suboptimally - to an external timescale; forced into 'faking it' for the audience.
Gould was subject to a great deal of ill-informed gossip (at least in the UK) about his technique - and some thought that he recorded exclusively because his pianism was faulty, and his playing needed to be patched-up by retakes and editing in order to pass muster.
Most of the Christianity of the past was too passive; and the powers of strategic evil have long-since worked-out how to deal with it...
Subvert/ corrupt the authoritative leadership, peer groups and high status intellectual influences; do the same for the texts, the interpretations, the rituals and symbols, morals and ethics... all can-be/ has-been repurposed for evil.
Anybody whose Christianity is passive, here and now, in the modern West, is like a ticking time-lock: sooner-or-later the door will open, evil will get-in and take-over.
To be passive is to be defensive - you only need one error or lapse and you are done-for.
Being active clearly isn't a matter of action, of behaviour; since
most of he most active people are among the most passive. Evangelism - yes! But evangelism to what: when so much has been repurposed?
to a basic, inner and motivational stance. I can't see any way around the fact that it must be individually-rooted and based on a direct knowing - I just can't see how this implication can be avoided (despite all the obvious and real hazards). Personal destiny needs to be found, known explicitly, and lived-by.
In essence we need to step outside The System - and everything external, objective and social (including actual Churches) is (more or less, usually more) inside The System.
Only outside The System can we found solid ground to work from.
But what kind of work, when so much is subjected, and we are intending to be active and to support the activity of others?
Outside The System is not imaginary, subjective, unreal - but the opposite: direct, personal, universal reality. That's the place we need to work.
But what specifically to do for me, here, now?
Well, nobody can tell you - you must actively discover it. That's the first active step.
One way it is crucial is consequential - in that it provoked the Chief Priests and Pharisees to decide that is was expedient that Jesus be killed for the greater good (a misunderstood true prophecy).
The Fourth Gospel - as nearly always - tells us the story as evidence that Jesus really is the Christ, sent by God, and would become (after his ascension) fully the Son of God.
Beyond this, there are two possible interpretations. The usual is that the miracle was restoring Lazarus to normal life; the other, which I think is the one we are meant to infer, is that the miracle was resurrecting Lazarus to the eternal life that Jesus promised to all who 'believed on' his name.
The Gospel is really pretty clear that we are meant to understand the raising of Lazarus as a real resurrection, that same resurrection which we are all promised by Jesus following our mortal life and death - and which Jesus himself experienced.
1. The Gospel establishes that Lazarus really is dead, properly dead, irrevocably; such that (because he is rotting - 'stinketh') he cannot be brought back to mortal life. Because of this, Jesus shares the general grief and wept - as is appropriate with real, permanent mortal death.
2. In the discussion between Jesus and Martha, he makes clear that Lazarus is to be resurrected.
3. Lazarus is entombed in a cave, blocked by a stone - which explicitly prefigures the death and resurrection of Jesus.
4. The references to the people witnessing the glory of God are appropriate to a resurrection. Glory is associated with the ascension of the resurrected Jesus - for people to see the glory of God in the resurrection of Lazarus suggests more than simply restoring him to mortal life. I am not sure; but I think it means that, in the act of resurrecting Lazarus - with the assistance of his Father, Jesus is displaying the power he will attain after his ascension to full divinity
With such in-your-face evidence - it is hard to explain the general mainstream view that Lazarus is Not resurrected. This I regard as an example of the way that scholars read the Bible through their pre-existing general theological considerations; and they seldom see the obvious, but only confirmation of the pre-existing theories of what they expect to find.
Most regard it as theologically vital that Jesus is the first Man to be resurrected - and therefore even the possibility of the resurrection of Lazarus is edited out of consideration.
Perhaps the supposed lack of further reference to Lazarus in the Fourth Gospel is seen as another problem - in that the first resurrected Man would presumably have some part to play in God's plan for Men.
But this is only a problem if you regard the author of the Fourth Gospel (never self-named, but self-described as the 'beloved' disciple) as John the son of Zebedee - however, if you regard the author of the Fourth Gospel as the resurrected Lazarus (as I do) then 'it all fits'.
Relevant passages in bold...
John 11: 1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.