Tuesday 2 November 2021

The 'medieval soul' in 2021

Note: The 'medieval soul' is what I will call Rudolf Steiner's category of the 'intellectual soul' and it describes the way that people thought and behaved in Classical Greek, Roman and Medieval times - up to the changes of the 'modern' period (beginning around 1500 and becoming dominant from around 1800). 

The medieval soul tends to assert the unique and exclusive validity of a particular set of symbols and rituals to mediate between Man and the divine; and to assert that these are objectively effective, regardless of the intentions of the Men involved. 

And when Men are in the medieval soul phase of human development, these symbols and rituals will effectually induce contact with the divine in a powerful and reliable fashion.  

As of 20201, however, we are now well-advanced into the modern phase of consciousness, and the medieval soul has almost gone. 

The traditional symbols and rituals which used to be so powerful and reliable that Men built their lives upon and around them; have now become weak and un-reliable - and for many people have ceased to work at all (nor do people even want them to work). 

But the medieval soul does retain some residual activity and effectiveness in some people for some of the time. 

For example, after I first became a Christian there was a few years during which symbol and ritual in the church was powerful - despite my dawning awareness that it was seldom or never taken with full seriousness by the administering priests or other members of the congregation. 

Such waning of effectiveness of symbol and ritual in my-self mirrored in miniature the large trends in culture: and the sustaining of such practices with sufficient strength through time seems now to happen extremely seldom, and for ever fewer people.  

From early 2021 (and the successful international coup, excused by the birdemic) the World subjected Christendom to a severe test as to whether churches that professed the medieval soul really did believe-in (i.e. live-by) their professed belief in symbols and rituals as necessary and unique mediators. 

And the global churches (leaders and laity) overall comprehensively failed this test. 

The modern soul seems in practice to operate on the belief that that the symbols and rituals are Here-and-Now (whatever they may have been in other times and places) means to an end

And, regarded as means, symbol and ritual are not just less effective than before - but insufficiently effective. They are now not effective enough for our needs.  

That is my point here: On the one hand it is easy to argue convincingly that the traditional systems of symbol and ritual are 1. better than nothing, and 2. much better than the value-inversions of mainstream and official culture. 

But, and this is the crux: better than nothing and better than evil does Not mean that traditional symbols and rituals are good enough. They aren't. 

Therefore, over recent decades, and especially the past year-and-a-half; I think that we have been shown - as clearly as such things ever can be show - that traditional symbol and ritual (of whatever tradition) is Not Good Enough. 

By which I mean, traditional Christianity is not-good-enough to withstand the (unprecedented) strength and ubiquity of the current global onslaught of evil. It has failed comprehensively. 

This does not imply that everybody should abandon the traditional churches - because so long as symbol and ritual provides You with extra courage, strength and Good motivation; then it is justified. 

But it does imply that we have reached a point at which honest consideration seems to lead inexorably to the conclusion that symbol and ritual are Now a means to an end, and should be regarded as such. 

Some will do without those particular means - and will use different means to the same end; others will need to adopt a different attitude to the means and ends. 

Yet symbol and ritual cannot now (or cannot convincingly) be regarded as having the same kind of objective and inexorable effectiveness as they did for the medieval soul - we now recognize that we cannot rely on them, as it was once possible to do.  

Thus effective Christianity must and will change, and from a basis in individual discernment - or else Christianity will continue rapidly to perish by assimilation into the global totalitarian evil - as all large and mainstream Christian churches have apparently chosen to do. 

Some should and will continue working with the traditions of symbol and ritual - but now infusing them with a new conscious and chosen subjectivism; and thereby re-vitalizing them (giving them new life). 

Others will follow other paths. 

We are lucky to be alive now; when such matters have become clear - instead of living during the recent generations where there has been incremental weakening of tradition, and Christians have been sleepwalking into the arms of Satan.


jas said...

was it the case that in the classical/medieval period religious belief was not private but community act upheld by 'auctoritas'? Therefore symbols has community-wide acceptance which was shared down generations. Do you think this community-based authority will come back?

R.J.Cavazos said...

Somehow this reminds me of the book by Julian Jaynes. It was long ago and a rough slug but the idea of human consciousness changing (could be evolving or devolving perhaps) in light of what we have seen in the last century makes sense.

Bruce Charlton said...

@RJC - It is derived from Barfield, not from JJ - https://www.owenbarfield.org/read-online/articles/bicameral-mind/

@jas - I am saying that the change in consciousness was driven by developmental-evolutionary changes in Men's minds (under divine influence), not by social changes - so therefore the medieval-style objective power of symbol-ritual will Not come back.