Thursday 25 May 2023

What are those who call for 'action, not words' really asking?

Dissident Christian websites, are usually inhabited by pseudonymous identities (or writing as 'anonymous'), who pour scorn on useless talk, and call instead for 'action', for doing something: organizing, confronting the problem etc. 

And with the implicit, when not explicit, assertion that those who 'just' try to understand, discuss or engage in spiritual activity (and don't fantasize about organizing militia) are not real men; are shirking responsibility; are (because they 'must be') lazy, cowardly, quietistic, pacifistic, self-pitying, miserable, terminally despairing... 

What is going on here? 

First, I always notice the absurdity of those who urge real, physical and manly action (danger, risk?) while sheltering behind pseudonyms. 

Second, some of these pseudonyms will surely be agents, provocateurs, Establishment snoops, trolls - and the like. 

But what of those who are serious - who sincerely desire to embark on well-directed and direct action in pursuit of Christian goals? 

What exactly are they asking-for, when they demand to be told what to do.   

My impression is that many are craving a well-motivated and strong group which they can join

Or, perhaps they believe that there already-is such a group, a particular church - for instance, and are seeking for it, or recruiting for it?

Or they may be asking that somebody (i.e. somebody-else - not the asker himself) get-on-with the task of forming and organizing some such group (i.e. the kind of group the asker feels that he would like to join); so that the asker can then join it, and join-in with its work. 

In sum - a lot of people (understandably!) want a tough gang that they can join, who will provide guidance of what-to-do, and strong backup for doing it. 

An understandable desire  - and one we have surely all felt at some time!

So why are such 'calls' so-often heard, for so many years - and yet, and yet... It never happens!

There are many reasons why it never happens, or else it would have happened. 

But the main reason is that things are much worse than those who demand action realize. 

Our society is much-more profoundly corrupted and demotivated than believed by those who believe that things can be turned-around merely by some sarcastic or scornful online cheerleader who is trying to discover a suitable gang he can to join. Much worse than one who vaguely hopes that (acting in response to his pseudonymous scorn) that somebody-else, somewhere, will be stimulated to form such a gang. 

In essence all the powerful 'gangs' are already-corrupted.

That is the powerful gangs are overall (and usually explicitly in several respects) anti-Christian, pro-leftist, and operate in accordance with the agenda of totalitarian materialism. 

In sum: the big, strong and thriving gangs are on the side of Satan and against God. 

What about organizing a bigger, stronger and more deeply-motivated gang in service to Jesus, to fight totalitarianism, leftism, and other forms of evil - and instead to impose Good? 

The first and deepest problem is finding enough and suitable personnel: enough who are properly-motivated, strongly-motivated, tough... 

Such people must also be willing to accept here-and-now significant disadvantage and harm - in pursuit of long-term good.

Ultimately what is needed is sufficient people who will be motivated to suffer (for sure), and (maybe) die, for that Good which they strive to bring-about. 

And that is exactly what cannot be found. 

To my mind; a pseudonymous commenter or blogger asking for 'action' has - by sheltering behind a pseudonym - probably already shown himself personally unwilling to take risk or suffer disadvantage; in pursuit of long-term goals -- no matter how sincere his inner desire for a better world. 

Therefore, the high prevalence and affected-tough attitudes of 'pseudonymous chicken-hawks' illustrates one important reason why it has (apparently) not been possible to recruit enough sufficiently-motivated people to form a new and strong movement against the left/ materialist/ totalitarians - and in favour of a Christian society. 

But there is usually more than one reason why some-thing good and desirable has-not-happened; and a further reason is that - here-and-now, as society is presently structured - organizations of sufficient size to be strong are bureaucracies. 

Bureaucracies are intrinsically leftist-tending, materialist in the procedures - and therefore have a continual tendency to become short-termist and expedient (hence weak).

Also, to recruit and sustain themselves and grow - and here-and-now organization must do-so in an environment in which personnel management, employment, workplace, accounting, loans and penalties... and a multitude of other constraints have built-in pro-Leftist and anti-Christian rules and laws. 

(This is probably a major reason why the largest and most potentially-powerful churches, have by-now all been tamed and conformed to the anti-Christian core agenda items - the Litmus Tests. Of course; many people are self-blinded to this reality; but that does not stop it from being reality.)

Thus, any strong organization will be bureaucratic, and any bureaucratic organization itself will be (to a significant and increasing degree) de facto leftist in its workings...

And to the extent it is Not conforming to the left-agenda; the organization will be diminished in its power to propagate and impose its views.   

A double-bind. 

In practice, therefore, either we are willing to start taking action on our own, in a situation where this will mean we suffer immediate disadvantage and increased risk, and without back-up...

Or else we will continue to wait - hoping to find a suitable and ready-made group that doesn't exist.

Or, waiting for 'somebody-else' to create such a group in a societal situation aggressively designed to prevent any such group arising and retaining significant power or influence. 

In sum; those who want to join an already-existing tough gang on the side of Good before taking any action themselves, are disappointed to find they don't exist. 

And those who want somebody else to organize such a gang for them to join, are likely to be waiting a long time...   

This means if we want action to be taken, we our-selves must take action essentially alone - without back-up, with our particular gifts and disadvantages, and from the exact situation in which we find-ourselves here-and-now. 

Because each who acts positively will be acting alone in an unique situation, there can be no generic good advice about 'what to do'. So - don't ask for it!

And because he is working essentially alone and with no back-up; anyone who is genuinely engaged in serious 'material' action to change modern society positively would be stupid to reveal his plans publicly! 

And here we come to another crux: the material versus the spiritual. 

Those who ask for action mean 'action in the material realm' - and they do not regard spiritual action as real. They regard spiritual activity as just an excuse for sheltering and hiding; for doing-nothing. 

However, given the realities; spiritual action must be primary, must come first, must be done before any realistic change that material action can possibly succeed

This is because personal action must genuinely be positive, must truly favour the Christian goals; and this means that Christian action absolutely-must be properly-motivated

Wrongly-motivated action will work against Good, and for evil - no matter what that action may be. 

Furthermore, well-motivated individual action must be strongly motivated, because otherwise it will rapidly fail due to the adverse worldly incentives; and this motivation must be 'from-within' because it cannot depend on institutional or social support. 

This world has-been structured so that we (as individuals) must be prepared to suffer and risk in the short-term, in order to have even a chance of betterment in the long-term.   

This means strong faith; which means a faith which looks beyond this material mortal world...

Which means spiritual strength must come first - or else no action will be taken, or the individual's good-intentions will fold and collapse at the first significant obstacle.

In sum: if you are Christian and want action, don't wait for other people to prepare your ground: do it yourself; working from your own unique nature and situation. 

But don't talk about it!

And don't forget that effective material activity for Good comes-from, and is fuelled-by, spiritual strength - deriving-from strong love-for and faith-in God, and with loving motivations dominated by our living hope of resurrection. 



William Wildblood said...

Spiritually speaking, action should derive from proper contemplation and it is that which will determine the nature of the action which may not seem so very active to the worldly mentality. Monks engaged in prayer are acting and there are solid grounds for thinking that this is the most powerful action there is, spiritually speaking.

But beyond all this the nature of the modern world is such that practically any action aimed at countering the mainstream narrative will be drawn into it and corrupted by it. It is better to stand apart from it completely though everything depends on personal destiny. There may be some who are called to more overt action and good luck to them. However, if we actually believe that these really are the End Times then we have to a accept they are not going to be able to do much to turn the tide. This is not an acceptance of defeat but an acknowledgement that the real victory does not lie in this world. Our action should be directed towards that victory which means much of it should be aimed at putting ourselves right with God which does require hard, unglamorous work with little apparent reward.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - actually I think a measure of the severity of these times is that we *cannot* stand apart completely from the System, from the 'mainstream' - or, at least, doing so would result in our swift death.

To survive, we must live in the world - and the world is evil both by intent, and increasingly pervasively in details - I think that is the baseline from which we should start; to avoid a false optimism.

But this is not a counsel of despair, merely an avoidance of comforting - but weak - delusion.

We can be 1005 confident that we would not be here-and-now and still alive were our salvation not possible, and our spiritual progress through our actual life possible. It is up to each of us.

The big, Big problem is helping others *spiritually* - which is much, Much harder to accomplish (and easier to do the opposite) than people seem to think.

I can't see any valid formula or program for 'helping others' - yet it also must be possible, do-able (or else we wouldn't be here and now), if only we can understand our unique situation, and do the specific needful.

William Wildblood said...

"not a counsel of despair, merely an avoidance of comforting - but weak - delusion. " Precisely.

Sometimes the desire to help others is just vanity. God will put us where he wants us and that is where we have to work.

Luke said...

What do you think are the alternative possibilities for organizations that are of a sufficient size
to be strong, than them being bureaucracies in the here-and-now as society is presently structured?

Similarly, with regards to alternative possibilities to decision making rather than committees?

Luke said...

Do you think that even in organizations of sufficient size to be strong which aren't bureaucracies, people end up attracted to the organization for the wrong reasons (because it's strong, careerist, materialist, power, glory, etc) and undesirable types end up in positions of power, so that more than likely such strong organizations.....are corrupted eventually by virtue of their very strength and this worldly ability to get things done?

Crosbie said...

I get the sense that those calling for 'action' have misdiagnosed their situation. They think their problem is the presence of evil, and they believe that only by actively fighting evil can they succeed. Whereas, of course, our problem is the absence of good.

Paul M said...

I have thought about helping others spiritually. I see prayer for myself and others as helpful for my guidance and strength from God to do what I should to do HIS will for my own life, to be an example of Christ-like behaviors for others, and to bear the difficulties in being routinely rejected and ignored. I see these "negative" experiences as educational (as in the sense of a medical doctor being excellent because of his or her exposure to many and varied cases of illnesses and patients) in practical and spiritual matters as a gardener might see compost. I don't see speaking words as effective, at least not initially. I have tried this! And if nothing I do helps on earth, then at least I know that Someone Good is watching. Perhaps the purity of our intentions and efforts will contribute very positively in a presently unknown ways.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Luke - The family, or genuinely close friends/ neighbours, are the only alternative to bureaucracy that I know of.

"people end up attracted to the organization for the wrong reasons" - Yes, but the problem goes deeper than that. That problem might be cured, but more fundamental ones remain.


@Crosbie. "Whereas, of course, our problem is the absence of good."

Exactly! That's it - in a nutshell!

Inquisitor Benedictus said...

The children of darkness are wiser in their generation than the children of light.

G. said...

the insight is all the better for the charity

Yeah, I would like to belong to that group too. I just don't think it exists, I don't know how to make it exist, and I don't even know if it is possible for it to exist. But in some sense my desire for the group isn't just a taste preference. It is a need.

Bruce Charlton said...

@IB and G - Thanks!... (I think...)

G said...

Certainly I meant it as a compliment! While continuing to be as stark as always, a deep strand of charity has touched your writing lately and it has moved me quite a bit.

Bruce Charlton said...

@G - In that case, thanks! Being charitable does seem rather unlike me, but who knows?

An increase of charity (assuming it's real) may be one of those things that either happen, or don't as a consequence of deeper changes; but can't genuinely be achieved by directed effort, can't be self-monitored or measured - A side effect, perhaps.