Saturday, 10 November 2018

The hungry sheep look up for metaphysics... and are given morals

The quote is slightly adapted from Charles Williams; it struck me as both absurd and true.

Absurd, because of the idea of the modern masses looking up from their mobile phones and asking their Christian pastors (which they don't have) for metaphysics!

(However, if they did; they would still be given morals.)

But the statement is true, nonetheless - in the sense that nothing less will suffice to address the modern malaise than a different basic understanding of the nature of ultimate reality.

Christianity gets nowhere in stressing morals rather than metaphysics; because morals depend on metaphysics; and when the basic understanding is modern materialism, then morals will inevitably be some species of the hedonistic (as well as incoherent): there is nothing else for them to be.

But when Christian metaphysics is dry and abstract - as so much of mainstream traditional Christian theology is dry and abstract; and as Charles William's own metaphysics was dry and abstract - then the sheep may feel that their fundamental problems are not being addressed.

The sheep find The World - the world as described by their assumptions and as experienced in daily life; and indeed them-selves as people, as souls - to be utterly dull and deadly: hence the mobile phones.

Modern Romanticism, as accessed via those mobile phones, and social media; is nothing but distraction, escapism, superficial stimulation: thus cumulative despair. It is just politics, sex and pleasure; the mere stimulation of responses - anger, hatred, resentment, schadenfreude, lust, laughter, luxury, smugness etc.

What the sheep need, what they 'really want' is a Romantic Metaphysics that is true, hence liveable. They don't know they want it; but nothing less will suffice.

Metaphysics needs to be Romantic, hence desirable; and True, hence liveable.

Luckily, it is.

But so far, Romantic Christians have done a poor job of explaining their metaphysics - often because they understand it in ways that are abstract, over-complex, too systematic - until Romantic metaphysics sound like just-more-bureaucracy...

Charles Williams fell into this trap with his writings on Romantic Theology. His basic ideas were exciting: that falling- and being-in love could be a path of Christian life; that a life of creative activity could be a path of Christian life; that life was an adventure quest and we were part of an altruistic and mutually helping fellowship.

But when Williams got down to specifics; the exciting ideas dissolved into complex, incomprehensible terminology. More crucially, Williams's detailed ideas were either wrong or simply incoherent.

In fact, Williams could in practice make around-himself a world of Romance, in which he and his circle of friends, disciples, colleagues could live their lives. It was this magical personal charisma that so impressed so many people; which made Williams so popular and admired.

But this was the person, not the metaphysics. Once Williams had died, it could be seen that his writings held only the shadows of that ecstasy in living that the man' presence could impart.

So, the problem of Romantic metaphysics remains unsolved.. at least by Williams. But there is an answer.

The answer can be found in the writings of fellow Inkling Owen Barfield; albeit again in a complex and abstract way. The answer can also can be found in William Arkle, and at times much more simply expressed; but Arkle is hardly known.

Probably, in practice, people will have to solve it for themselves or it will not be solved at all. And one would suppose that there are strong incentives to do so. Yet who - of the millions of mainstream, miserable, modern hedonists - is making any serious attempt?

There exists an answer. But one thing is sure: without personal effort, there will be no answer.