Wednesday, 18 July 2018

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

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

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

The wrong way to answer this question is:

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

(Zzzzzzz... Snore...)

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

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

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

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

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

My conversion and the necessity for discernment

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

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

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

So I found no problem in making the confirmation oaths.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much depends on local conditions. 

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

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

I added a further clarification of my position:

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

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

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...over at Albion Awakening.

Monday, 16 July 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My review of the 2018 Chester Mystery Plays

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

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

Discerning God's will about obedience to a Christian Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Doorways to Albion - by William Wildblood

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

The disappearance of all real institutions - a fact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 14 July 2018

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

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

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

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

But nope.

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

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

Friday, 13 July 2018

Remission of sins? - wrongness in the Fourth Gospel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Albion Besieged - by William Wildblood

At Albion Awakening - an excerpt...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole thing...

In quest of Primary Thinking/ Final Participation in practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

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

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

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

England and the World Cup...

At Albion Awakening...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing what is being assumed - ie metaphysics

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

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

Thus arguments persist indefinitely...

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 9 July 2018

Paradise versus Heaven - post-mortal life

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Grateful for failures

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

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Heaven: CS Lewis versus the Fourth Gospel

From the Essay Transposition by CS Lewis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 5 July 2018

It was love in this world, by which Jesus was able to save people in this world

If love is the primary metaphysical reality - and love is a relation between persons (or beings) - then the way that Jesus saved Men must (presumably) have been by means of love.

Jesus created this world, and Men inhabit it (Men being, like Jesus, children of God). Love, in this world, made possible what Jesus did.

And that is why Jesus lived, as a child and adult; to build loving relationships. Jesus loved particular people: his mother, Lazarus, Mary and Martha, and the disciples. Jesus needed to build this loving group before he died - this was a major part of his ministry.

For example in John:13 Jesus addresses the disciples establishes a confirms and reinforces the mutual love between himself and the disciples, linked with salvation: 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

And in John:15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

So, Jesus made a world, in which loving relationships were present. Jesus was then incarnated into this world. He became bound to some people in this world by love, and these ('Christians') who loved Jesus were also bound by love to each other.

He died, was resurrected, and went to Heaven to live the life everlasting; and the love he established with Men in this world was what enabled us to follow him, through death and into Heaven.

This is not abstract; it was-and-is a matter of actual loving personal relationships between Christians and Jesus, and among Christians.

And it is the love for Jesus that makes us (after we have died) trust in him, and then want to follow him through death into life everlasting.

And love between Men that reached-out from the circle of disciples, and drew others into this family of mutual love.

James Hillman - evil genius; contrasted with his recent equivalent: Jordan Peterson

At one time I spent a great deal of time and effort in understanding, and attempting to live-by, the ideas of James Hillman.

Yesterday, I took a look at some of the online interviews with and talks by Hillman that have been posted over the years; and I can see what it was that appealed about him. He is extremely intelligent, articulate, creative - and consequently generative of interesting ideas.

The current successor to Hillman is, of course, another post-Jungian: Jordan Peterson - and the contrast is interesting. Peterson is also articulate and intelligent, albeit less so than Hillman, but he is not creative: JP is a summariser, not an originator.

There is a smallish political contrast: Hillman was a radical Leftist who worked in the in the sixties counter-culture and its descendants; whereas Peterson is a Left-libertarian. Hillman called himself a polytheist - but was only ironically so; and his main alignment was as an anti-Christian. Jordan Peterson is not a Christian, but is pro-Christian in his political alignment.

The thing is: James Hillman was evil - by which I mean that he was explicitly, strategically and self-consciously against Good (as Good is understood by Christians). Of course, Hillman said many good and true things, because all people have both Good and evil in them: but Hillman's alignment was undoubtedly evil.

By contrast Jordan Peterson, is on the Wrong Side in the Spiritual War that is Life; but he is not explicitly, strategically and self-consciously against Good.

Anyway, Hillman is an interesting case! As I watched him speak yesterday on various YouTube vids, I felt on the one hand a fascination at the ideas, and mode of expression; on the other hand a mounting distaste and discomfort - a kind of revulsion or disgust which built up the longer I watched. I was insidiously drawn-in; and also felt an increasing desire to flee...

I suppose what James Hillman was, was a kind of dragon! Much like Smaug of The Hobbit. Impressive, hypnotic, beady-eyed, witty, eloquent, sly, manipulative - and with a stone-hard heart!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Wildblood on Jordan Peterson; Fitzgerald on the Latin Mass &c.

Over at Albion Awakening:

William Wildblood: ...It is a truism that spirituality relates to the soul not the mind. The mind may be involved but it is the secondary participant in the endeavour. If it steals the show, as it rather seems to do with Professor Peterson, then you will probably get sidetracked into theory. What is the soul in this sense? I would prefer to answer that question by saying instead how it speaks to us, and that is through imagination, through intuition, through conscience and through faith. It is these things that will give us an entry into the spiritual world, not thinking about it which will leave us remaining on the outside. Perhaps that is Jordan Peterson's weakness. He approaches the metaphysical world through the mind but that world will only really give up its secrets when we step back from rational thought and give priority instead to intelligent openness to intuition...

John Fitzgerald: ...I was particularly struck by David Jones's 1943 painting, A Latere Dextro (a title taken from the Latin Mass antiphon above and meaning 'from the right side.') ... What we are looking at is the moment of Consecration in the Mass, the Traditional Latin rite which Jones saw as a unique repository of spiritual and cultural value, a link for him between twentieth century Britain and the country's Roman past. The priest, standing at the altar in the centre of the painting with candle-bearing altar boys behind him, lifts up the chalice in a medieval-style chapel of columns, curving arches and high, vaulting ceilings. We are present at a miracle. Ordinary red wine - the kind we might buy in Co-op or Marks and Spencer - is transmuted into the blood of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ...

The message of Jesus in one sentence (with notes)

To follow him through death to everlasting life.

Note: To want this entails a conviction of the weight and significance of death; and of the nature of life everlasting.

Note: To follow Jesus; we need to love, trust... that is have faith in Jesus. And in Jesus specifically - no-one and nothing-else will suffice; because nobody else can lead us through death to everlasting life.

And-then this gives a new, eternal frame to life; and changes the significance of everything in life.

Reading Tolkien's character from his face...

Turns-out to be an experience both surprising and exactly-as-expected; at the Notion Club Papers blog...

Think (honestly) about death: implications of mortality, and the existentialist assumptions of the Fourth Gospel

In understanding the New Testament, it is useful to consider the problems that Jesus is implicitly addressing; because they significantly differ from modern awareness.

In the Fourth Gospel, the 'answers' or 'solutions' that Jesus offers imply a background of existential awareness of the implications of mortality.

In other words, Jesus offers a resurrected life everlasting of a qualitative superiority to the possibilities of mortal, earthly life; and this offer implies that it is the problem of death that is being addressed.

So, when Jesus says we need to be born again, this addresses the problem that that this mortal life is not sufficient. When he talks of heavenly water or food, and contrasts it with ordinary well water and ordinary food (and even with the manna provided by God); Jesus is assuming that people recognise that the things of this world are not sufficient, do not satisfy... because they are cut off by death.

The resurrection of the body is a vital aspect; because any afterlife which is only of the spirit (and without the body) is not an afterlife for us as our-actual-selves - because pure spirits are not-the-same as incarnated spirits.

The miracles of healing are addressing that the problem of the mortal body is sickness and age: suffering - and Jesus heals these to show that the resurrected body in the life eternal will not experience such things.

And the decisive miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead is a demonstration of what all may anticipate 'from now on' - from the time of Jesus.

The Fourth Gospel is therefore addressing the rational and true existential despair of Man when he becomes aware of the reality of mortality, with its severance of the soul from the body and no prospect of their reuniting.

This in turn implies that in the era and place of Jesus's life, such existential despair was normal and general - general enough such that it did not need to be made explicit in the Fourth Gospel. The Gospel just assumes that mortality is a huge problem for people, and that anyone who offers an answer to this problem will be welcomed.

(Welcomed so long as the answer being offered is true and real: much of the Fourth Gospel is about Jesus proving that he really is divine, hence able to fulfil his promises.)

What about nowadays, in The West? A very different situation - at least explicitly, and on the surface. Modern people claim to find sufficient meaning, at least potentially, within the scope of mortal life. Mainstream modern people do not acknowledge that the fact of mortality has the existential implications which were generally experienced at the time of Jesus; indeed, such existential awareness of the centrality of death was popular, indeed fashionable, into the middle twentieth century, among the Existentialist philosophers (Heidegger, Sartre, Colin Wilson etc.).

What, then, is the mainstream modern attitude to death? That it is something to be avoided, for as long as life is pleasant - then something to be welcomed so long as it can be achieved without suffering.

But there is a huge dishonesty at work - a mismatch between what moderns say, and how moderns  behave. They say that life is sufficient; that they are satisfied to live well, die and face extinction; that to live in the residue of their actions and memories of others is enough (the fact that this obvious nonsense is so frequently and solemnly articulated is very significant).

Indeed mainstream moderns assert that it is a higher morality to embrace utter extinction; than feebly and childishly to crave eternal life like religious people do... Since modern materialist metaphysical assumptions rule-out the possibility of the spirit; such ideas can only be due to a combination of wishful thinking with some combination of ignorance, insanity and manipulative dishonesty.

So life eternal is rejected as both a possibility and hope by normal modern people; unless that eternal life were to become possible by progress in technology and medicine - in which case they would be happy to accept an eternal version of life-as-it-is - assuming disease, ageing and suffering could be eliminated from it.  (This is, of course, the transhumanist project.) 

Yet when it comes to behaviour (to 'revealed preferences' as economists call them); modern Western people don't really seem to appreciate life-as-it-is. The universality of sub-replacement chosen fertility is one strand of evidence; the engineering and embrace of Western population replacement by less-modern non-Western immigrants is another strand of evidence; the personal and cultural self-hatred of the intellectual and power elites is further evidence; the mass use of consciousness obliterating or numbing drugs is another thing, as is the mass scale of permanent self-mutilation by piercing, tattoos, scarifications etc.

On top of this there are the taboos against discussing death, sub-fertility, population replacement, self-mutilation... there is a significant combination of evidence that modern man is in a state of chronic and terminal despair plus evidence that this chronic and permanent despair must neither be acknowledged nor seriously discussed.

My diagnosis is thus that the modern mainstream West is In Fact afflicted by exactly the same existential dread of death and its implications as is addressed by the Fourth Gospel; but that we modern are in a deep state of denial. This denial is underpinned by materialistic metaphysical assumptions that exclude the possibility of the soul or spirit; but we also deny the existence our own metaphysical assumptions - claiming that these assumptions are not assumptions but instead rational deductions from obvious evidence...

Before the events and teachings described in the Fourth Gospel can have the effect on us that it had on the early followers of Jesus, before we can even want the gift which Jesus offered; we first need to become honestly aware of the existential implications of death.

Of course, such implications ought to be obvious, since they were known by all previous societies; and even in The West are known, at some point in their development, by all children. Nonetheless we deny them and refuse to think about them and they are excluded from public discourse.

We need to think-about death. Honestly.

The evolutionary-development of consciousness re-explained

If we start-out unconscious and immersed-in the whole world, including what we would now distinguish as the 'spiritual' - seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling the divine; and aware of its activities in our own bodies -  then as self-awareness/ consciousness begins to develop, so we incrementally separate-from the spiritual.

(This is part of an individual growing-up, and it is part of the history of Man; these two being expressions of the same underlying reality.)

At this stage we get ritual, formal procedures, special places and practices that re-connect us with the spiritual. It is because the connection has been broken, and a gap opened between the person and the spiritual, that special structures and processes are needed to bridge the gap.

So the emergence of religion, and magic, are evidence of some degree of separation... Man is no longer unconsciously immersed-in the spiritual, the spiritual is no longer integrated-with all of living; instead man is consciously aware of the need to reach the spiritual - and able to devise effective methods of doing this.

However, as consciousness continues to develop, as self-awareness increases; reaching across the gap to the spiritual gets harder and harder, and finally becomes impossible. Man is self aware; but cannot become aware of the spiritual - he cannot any longer see the spirits, he cannot heard the word of God, he cannot feel the presence of the divine. And if he stays in this state - pretty soon he denies the reality of the spiritual.

Modern Man is in exactly this state. Intensely self-aware as baseline; and without the capacity to perceive the spiritual. It is the state of alienation - of being alone in the universe; and for many it is inescapable except by the obliteration of consciousness (for example, by intoxication).

There are three possibilities. The first and usual path is to accept that alienation is reality and to deny the reality of the spiritual, including the divine. This leads to despair, and suicide in one form or another - nonetheless it is chosen by most people because in the short term it justifies and excuses total selfishness of motivation.

The second is to try and move back to the earlier stage of immersion in the spiritual - to try again to perceive the spiritual world: see ghosts and auras, hear voices of angels, smell/ touch/ taste the presence of the divine. This can happen fully only when consciousness is surrendered; and can happen partially only when consciousness is lowered by some self-intervention, by consciousness alteration. This, broadly, is the New Age attitude, of self-engineering; of consciously trying to diminish the level of consciousness; to surrender-to the spiritual.

The problem is that to succeed (which in practice seems impossible for most people) is to become un-conscious. To succeed is not-to-know that one actually-has succeeded...

The third path or possibility is to begin where we are, which is 'located' in our self-awareness; that is in our thinking. But to expand the scope and strength of our thinking to include the spiritual.

This depends on us regarding the spiritual as real and important - so we are not trying to fool-ourselves - to expand the scope and strength of thinking is an active choice, a conscious motivation - something we must want to do and must do in awareness of our doing. So, since this requires sustained effort, we need to know that it is worth doing.

That is our task. Success comes when our thinking includes the spiritual - includes, potentially, everything that we know to be real. Success is known when we inhabit this expanded thinking - we locate our-self in that thinking. And, and because, when thinking derives from our-self (our real self, not a 'persona' nor an automatic habit).

So the third stage is that - starting from a situation of being cut-off by our thinking; we instead reconnect in our thinking.

How? That is for each to discover and do for himself; knowing that it is what is wanted and we are capable of doing it. Learning to do it, doing it in freedom, and with positive intent and proper desire... these are part of the necessary process. 

As usual in this mortal life; it is part of the divine plan that - as much as possible - we do things for ourselves, by our own best efforts; since we are being trained for eventual godhood. I God did everything for us, we never would learn. 

Help is there and will be provided when personal efforts fail - but we need to be aware that the basic 'set-up' is that the world provides experiences, which we need to tackle and learn-from. 

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Why is higher consciousness 'higher'?

It is implicit in the ideas of Owen Barfield, and indeed in many others with an interest in consciousness, that to be aware is a higher state than to be un-conscious. Because to be a psychologically-mature adult is to be conscious of many things that in a child are unconscious. But why is it better to be conscious?

A first answer refers to agency - or 'free will'. Thus the adult may have agency, may control thinking, only because the adult is aware of what he thinks. He satnds outside of, observes, his thinking. By contrast, a young child is largely immersed-in his world, and (in his thinking) more-passively swept-along by it - there is little scope for agency. He thinks - but does not know that he thinks.

But even if agency requires consciousness - self-awareness; why is consciousness better than unconsciousness, why is agency better than being immersed-in and swept along?

It depends what is meant by 'better' - what is being asserted is that consciousness is indeed higher than unconsciousness - as an adult is higher than a child, and a human than a cow; but a young child may be (usually is) a morally-better person than an adult; and a cow may be a nicer creature than many humans.

What then does higher mean? The answer must refer to God's wishes and plans for people: divine destiny. My assertion is that God has various interlinked hopes and plans - some are moral, and some have to do with consciousness.

We can only talk in generalisations, and for some individuals divine destiny may be Not-growing up, and Not becoming conscious (for example, they may die as a child, or may have a mental handicap - and this experience may be a part of their soul's eternal destiny; intended from before mortal life for their benefit, to learn from it something vital). But on the whole, many humans are meant to go through adolescence into adulthood, to move from being unconscious to being conscious; and ultimately to become conscious in the divine way (to become Sons of God).

And divine consciousness is assumed to be most-fully self-aware, because fully agent: fully free.

So, as God is higher than mortal Man; divine consciousness than human consciousness; so higher consciousness is such because it is closer to the divine consciousness. Consciousness can be seen as a ladder from least to most, from (presumably, one average) the (supposedly) 'unalive' mineral world, plants, non-human animals, children, adolescents, sexually-mature adults - and more and more conscious adults.

The degree of consciousness constrains (that is it both makes-possible and also limits) the degree of agency, or freedom; and (I assume) God wants us each, enentually to become god-like in our agency; by choice, and apparently by incremental stages, throughout eternity; but also (usually, but not invariably) partially to experience divine consciousness, briefly at least, during our mortal lives here on earth. (This is theosis - the intention of becoming more god-like, during mortal life.)

In the end, whether we regard consciousness as higher than unconsciousness, freedom higher than passivity; whether we indeed regard thinking as primary, and ultimately more important than behavioural actions, depends on whether we choose to ally and align with God's hopes and plans - or not. Salvation, or not.

First salvation - at align with God's purposes; then theosis - to become more divine in our being and thinking.

As usual for Christians; we find that everything eventually depends on faith, trust, love - the first 'commandment' (to love God) is first for this reason: everything is built-upon it.

(Note: If we do not love God - then none of these distinctions matter. Perhaps only current happiness matters; and if current happiness is enhanced by the destruction of consciousness, or by destroying the capacity to think, to be agent and free in thought - or by being evil, according to God's distinctions ... well so be it.)

Monday, 2 July 2018

Could the Fantasy Inklings (i.e. the Notion Club) have solved Tolkien's flat earth problem, and initiated the Fifth Age of the world?

In what is perhaps my most ambitious (and speculative) Tolkien essay thus far - I begin with Tolkien's 'flat earth problem', and end with a vision of the future of modern Man; via an imagined (but unlikely) collaboration of JRRT with fellow Inkling, Owen Barfield.

Christianity aims-at maximum polytheism

The main point of creation is to make gods, as many as possible; living as a loving Heavenly family, and sharing the end-less work of creation.

The lesson of Christ's incarnation is that we Men are gods in our nature (albeit immature and flawed gods), and that God (the Father: prime creator) is a Man. So there is a continuum between mortal Men on the one hand; and creator gods such as the Father (who was the one prime creator) and the Son (Jesus Christ).

The Father is unique as prime creator, including being Father-creator of Men (including Jesus); and Jesus is the creator of this world (but not of the Men in it - as told and implied in the opening of the Fourth Gospel) - so creation is not restricted to the Father; creation has been done by both to Father and Son (at least).

Jesus tells us (clearly, explicitly, repeatedly in the Fourth Gospel) that if we know Jesus, then we know the Father; they are not the same person (else why would Jesus pray to the Father, defer to the Father, distinguish between himself and the father); but they are the same in nature: they are 'one' in love and motivation. And Jesus is a Man in his nature, therefore so is the Father.

Jesus is the Son of God, and tells us that we too can be Sons of God - we can be of the same kind as Jesus, and Jesus is of the same kind as God.

All this is perfectly clear and explicit in scripture; but it is obscured by the false (and wrongly-motivated) mania that Christianity 'must be' a monotheism. Yet it's a terrible and destructive error to try and argue that Christianity is a monotheism; because in a vital sense Christianity is an ultimate form of polytheism - maximum polytheism; (to repeat) that is the main point and purpose of Christianity.

Few, very few, errors have damaged Christianity as much as the attempt to insist that it is a monotheism: this was and is a primary error with often lethal and unavoidable consequences. It blocks understanding of the main purpose of mortal life. It puts an evasion at the heart of Christian theology. It institutionalises incoherence.

We need to be clear: the Father hopes for as many as possible of us Men to become gods and creators, like Jesus. That is what creation is for. There is only one God (capital g), one prime creator (albeit God may actually, factually, be - as I believe - a dyad of primary Father and Mother); but the plan is for there to be many gods (small g), many creators.

That's the main point of it-all.

Why didn't a supposedly-omnipotent God make men already-perfect and living in a perfect world?

This is the knock-down question for mainstream modern atheist-materialist people, especially when it comes to Christianity. And, so far as I can tell, it is the basis of a solid argument against the Christian conception of God.

If God is indeed omnipotent - as many mainstream Christians insist (at least when they are doing theology); then God could-have made us and the world any way he wanted them to be. At a stroke. Immediately. No route nor rigmarole: just straight-off ideal.

But God didn't do this, we are not ideal and neither is the world - instead God made things very flawed (as Men are and as this world is) - with the idea that at some future point people and the world should end-up the way God wants it to be.

For an omnipotent God to take this indirect and uncertain route to how-God-wants-things-to-be seems absurd, uncertain - and extremely unconvincing. Why on earth would an omnipotent God choose to proceed in such a contingent fashion, when he could simply make everything correctly, first-time? 

Of course, the problem is to do with the imputed attribute of omnipotence: the claim that God can do anything that it is possible to do.

The idea of an omnipotent God is not natural to humans, nor is it spontaneous for humans to presumae that their god/s are omnipotent; omnipotence is an abstract philosophical concept; it is not found in any clear, explicitly or unambiguous form in the Bible...

Presumably omnipotence was something which must have been introduced to Christianity (from various schools of Greek and Roman philosophy) after the period covered in the New Testament; and somehow this alien and hostile doctrine has worked its way into the very core of most Christian churches, at the level of mandatory, core dogmatic assertion.

So, most Christian churches and denominations regard the omnipotence of God as an intrinsic part of Christianity - and are forced into elaborate (and unconvincing) ways of trying to avoid the plain paradox of omnipotence.

Because if God is omnipotent, then there is no point or purpose to this flawed world or our mortal lives. Ordinary people see or sense this - and regard the theological explanations as evasions - and they are right to do so: they are evasions.

The reality is that God is working-towards Heaven, because that is the only route by which Heaven can be reached. And God calls upon us to work with him. Heaven is the future consequence of a loving alliance of God the creator and Men who inhabit his creation. 

Men cannot be created as they could and should be - as full children of God; Men can only become children of God by experiencing and learning; by their own choices and by God's help. It is, as I said, an alliance - both sides (God and each Man) are needed.

This world could not be created as the full intended state of Heaven; it was instead created as a place of learning and experience by which a Heavenly situation may be achieved; by mutual consent, by mutual love.

In the end we are pushed to a stark choice. Are things the way they are in mortal life and on earth because it is what an omnipotent God wanted? Or is this the best method/ process/ path by which God needs to proceed to get where he wants to be; to achieve his ultimate goals?

Since the Christian God is known to be Good, Christians are (I feel) pretty much required to believe the latter: i.e. that things are as they are, because this is the necessary way to get where we want to go.

We are the world are flawed because because God could-Not make people and the world the way he wants them to be.

And if we want a Heavenly state, we need to join-with God in this work of making.

Heaven is not just a destination, it is a joint-achievement: we are each called-upon to be Heaven's co-creators. 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

"No tale ever told that men would rather find was true"

The birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe* of Man's history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of incarnation. 

This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the 'inner consistency of reality'. 

There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. 

For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of primary art, that is, of Creation. 

To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.

From the Epilogue to On Fairy Stories by JRR Tolkien

Until a person has understood in his heart the validity of what Tolkien wrote above with no tale ever told that men would rather find was true; he has not understood Christianity - and does not know what he rejects, or accepts.

*A sudden and favourable resolution of events in a story; a happy ending