Thursday 22 April 2021

The prepper delusion

This is from last year - but the delusion is getting worse: more common, more deeply deluded. 

This is because prepping is fear and pride based; fearfully aiming to save our mortal skins (for a bit longer...); and smugness at (mistakenly) regarding oneself as able to do so (with a sufficient supply of preserved foods, 'guns and ammo'.

(wrt. 'Guns and ammo'; there is also, very evidently, a covert lustful anticipation of having a 'good excuse' to shoot, maim and kill lots of other people against-whom one harbours a burning resentment.) 

'Prepping' is of value for a limited span of possibilities, and when it comes to the main possibility confronting us here-and-now - which is civilizational Collapse; Prep is essentially irrelevant... If we regard the current world crisis, the totalitarian takeover, the increasingly overt and aggressive civilizational suicide; as essentially a spiritual phenomenon; then it becomes primarily important to think about salvation rather than survival; and about theosis rather than preparedness.

The great and urgent need is for people to deal-with their overpowering (and sinful) emotions and motivations of fear and resentment; and to stop using these as a way of temporarily staving-off incipient despair. 

It is for this fear-less-ness that we should be striving - and not for the delusory goal of a world with nothing to fear. 

The proper answer to fear is simple but not easy. Not easy yet within the capacity of every individual; no matter how physically un-prepared they may be (and for most people, prepping is not even an option due to their age, health, physical condition, environment or other circumstances). 

The answer is Christian faith - and from that faith comes hope - and that hope is directed beyond our inevitable death and at the resurrected life in Heaven which no earthly power can take from us - should we choose to accept the gift. 

The evidence of history, and - if we try it - our own experience; is that Christian faith absolutely abolishes fear - always and everywhere. 

Of course we cannot individually always (or even mostly) be paragons of faith (we are, after all, all sinners); yet when we cannot have faith we can always repent its lack - and that will suffice. 

When we fear or experience resentment, we can always repent it - and that will suffice. 

Even if we despair (which amounts to a total loss of faith in the promises of Jesus Christ); we can always recognize and repent it - and that also will suffice. 


Stephen Macdonald said...

The core point here is of course completely true. I'd not go as far as Bruce in maintaining that owning "guns and ammo" is always completely pointless, or always to do with repressed bloodlust. (Though I do respect that point of view, just as I respect the many pacifist Christians I know while disagreeing with them -- I also know several Christian peace officers who can and will kill in defense of others).

In my part of Canada (a few km from me) almost exactly a year ago we had a mass murder of two dozen innocent people by an armed madman. One of the only survivors was a man whom the killer knew to possess a gun -- he passed over that home on his rampage.

I own a gun but the thought of using it causes me to shudder. I pray it never, ever becomes necessary. However I have one for similar reasons that I have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in my home. However remote the possibility, I don't want my family to be harmed if I can prevent it. I believe God wants us to remain alive as long as we're able to serve Him.

Now, this all somewhat tangential to Bruce's core point re prepping as a supposed hedge against civilizational collapse. I agree with Bruce there without qualification. I do have some spare food and water, however that is because on occasion our region is hit by severe hurricanes that can knock out services for weeks. I hope I have no illusions about "riding out" the actual End, should it come while I'm alive.

Bottom line: Bruce does all of us a service in inviting us to examine our spiritual health with respect to any of these preparations to prolong mortal existence. I have similar feelings when it comes to Christians who seem completely obsessed with praying for miracles when someone is dying of natural causes -- especially around the natural end of life.

Michael Dyer said...

Luke 12:16-20 comes to mind.

It’s not exact, but it outs me in my mind. There’s always sensible preparation against the vicissitudes of life, but it’s not really in our hands.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MD - Yes, but why not provide the text!

Luke 12:16-20 King James Version

16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nova - It is always about motivation, and I am talking about the motivations as I infer them in the kind of people I mean.

It is not about what we do or don't do to prepare, but what motivates it: this worldly, or next worldly?

This worldly preparation may, or may not, be expedient for a particular person in a particular place and time - but so what? That's just the minutiae of personal living and how can I comment on such matters?

And, after all, why should anybody need to encourage modern people to be more Worldly and more Expedient!

Matthew T said...

@Nova -

Nice to see a fellow Bluenoser on here. ;)

Bruce Charlton said...

ToTheRightRon has left a comment:

"Very apropos post for the times. Over the last few years I've been working towards insulating myself from the "world system" a little at a time, step by step building in robustness. Having been influenced by NN Talebs "fragile/robust/antifragile" formulation I reassessed everything and let's say, "put feet to my prayers". I found this formulation to be very much in line with my study of the book of Proverbs and aligned well with Bible principles in general.

"Some metaphysical truths easily translate into materialist applications. If you construct your material life on a foundation of sand, making yourself "fragile", is it not tempting God to ask for his material blessing?

"Our material lives are completely constructed on faith in the system. We give our money to the banking/investing "masters of the universe" to multiply it for us. We go into servitude (debt) to the same "masters of the universe" to have the nice suburban home, newer car or go on vacation/holiday. We have willingly given the system the leverage it needs to control us and then bemoan how evil seems to triumph over Good. Where your treasures are there will heart be also. The system offers us great treasure if we commit to the system.

"Eliminating debt (leaving servitude) and downsizing can eliminate fragility. Following the ants lead can build in robustness. But obsessing on the material side can also lead to the prepper obsession. It is all just a vapor that will soon vanish away. I've heard the prepper siren song but haven't turned aside. Your comments about firearms cuts to the quick. Thankfully, I've had the same revelation, harboring murder in your heart for those who are seemingly tools of evil and the Evil One is itself an evil "root of bitterness" that will take root in your soul, defiling yourself and others.

"There is a lot to unpack in your post, thanks Bruce. I apologize for the stream of consciousness wall of text."

A said...

Thanks for the post! This is a question I had on my mind. There is such a thing as prudence, but more important is Faith.

I think prudence includes the LDS recommendations to have several months savings in both money & food, which is in fact neglected by those who have total faith in the system.

steve said...

Perhaps excessive prepping is bad.
But it is beyond me why someone who seeks to become slightly independent from the global totalitarian system by becoming more productive and resilient by producing some of their own food, herbs and providing for their own self defense, saving their capital rather than relying on the morally bankrupt establishment is irrelevant and contrary to Christ's teachings. Only if one lets himself become prideful with an overly narrow view of what living the gospel is all about can one adopt such a mindset.

Rich said...

Another gem! Thank you, Bruce, for sharing your wisdom.

Bruce Charlton said...

@steve "But it is beyond me why ..."

It should not be beyond you to understand why people to do want to expend a great deal of thought, time, and resources to becoming "slightly independent" of The System, when they remain in fact *totally*-dependent on The System (on a timescale of a few weeks).

This has been the case with the Ahrimanic System of recent decades, where dissidents and enemies are sought out and may be eliminated or assimilated; but is even more the case with the Sorath turn toward sheer spiteful destructiveness.

This was seen in microcosm, with last summer's manufactured and funded international race hatred and conflict. The prospect is not merely loss of law and order, but inversion - where The System (for the first time in history) uses its power and resources actively to destroy civilization.

I think that the Prepper-mentality *grossly* is not only delusional about what it can accomplish; but also grossly underestimates the severity of our situation. The events of 2020-21 (including, in the US, the fake 'election' and that fact that nothing substantive was done about it by the supposedly brave and principled Prepper-types) have only caused doubling down on a strategy which has obviously failed.

Publicly-proclaimed, gun-toting Preppers strike me as engaging in macho-posturing which sounds more like loud whistling in the dark (to advertise 'I'm not scared!') than representing a genuine alternative to anything; the motivational roots in fear and despair are all too obvious.

Understand I am not against prudence in food, defense, whatever; but all these *might* do is buy a little time, a few days extra, maybe a few weeks. And then?

Up against the forces in play Now?... It is peashooters against battleships.

The material war is lost, globally. It was lost because the spiritual war was first lost (at the civilizational and national levels, and in the churches).

But Christians can win the spiritual war in their own hearts.

Why re-fight lost wars against impossible odds? We should fight where we can win.

Andrew said...

The most thorough prepper scenario has a self-sufficient farm with capability to perhaps last a few years, but even then is dependent on the reemergence of a “medieval village” civilization level and opportunities to rebuild once the system finishes collapsing away in the cities.

If the system is still functional enough to go Zimbabwe on farmers or nothing re-emerges after several years, even the best hopes are gone.

Doc said...

Interesting post. Gone through the whole cycle myself until a series of dreams: one after another in a single night where every scenario was undone in minutes when something small was overlooked.

It did not lead to despair but reevaluation. You cannot add more time to your journey, so why worry? Fear not.

We shifted priorities to some sustainable homesteading, but mainly because we enjoy it. If we ever need to, we will share it with others until we run out.