Monday, 21 October 2019

Review of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

I listened to the audio-book version read by Johanna Ward - a top-notch narration

[No spoilers]

Late in the day, I have finally experienced the classic children's fiction The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (serialised 1910-11, published fully 1911).  I found this to be an absolutely first-rate novel; beautifully written and paced, funny and moving by turns, and with a highly original construction.

What I found original about the structure was that it had an almost unbroken incremental ascent from the sad, impoverished and negative tone of the beginning to the exaltation and affirmation of the end. The made the total effect encouraging, optimistic, healthy-minded and happy.

It struck me how unusual this is in terms of what I have come to expect from a narrative. The usual pattern is two-steps forward then several back - and most books that have a happy ending follow the classic romantic comedy shape of  'Boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back'.

That is, after things have been going well for the protagonists we expect that there will then be some serious setback; and that they will soon be staring disaster in the face; before, at the last minute, there is a turn of fortune and the positive resolution is achieved by some unexpected twist.

I kept waiting for this to happen with The Secret Garden - but it never really does. Instead, with the main characters starting in so low and miserable a state; the story is one of a series of challenges, tackled and overcome; rising step-wise to a happy ending. And this works!

The novel is naturalistic and plausible, yet it is about 'magic' - of an everyday kind that is all around us but unnoticed, or derided; it is about how life could be, and sometimes is - the main symbolism is of winter growing through spring to summer. The 'secret garden' is a real garden; but it is also an enchanted garden with an effect that is healing and exalting.

Altogether inspiring; and (in both senses) a good book.

The strangely chaotic nature of life, contrasted with the golden thread

Since I was (officially) adult, life has always seems strangely chaotic - 'despite' that my actual, externally-visible, life was much more ordered than most.

The chaotic-ness is not in anything spectacular but in the the way that some aspects of it, quantitatively most of it, crumbles away behind me on a daily, hourly, basis.

Life, it seems, is not a structure; not something that is built - piece by piece - into any kind of edifice. One can add pieces - but they won't stay where they are put - they will fall-out, they will distort or crumble.

When I look back - expecting to see an edifice - with evidence of my handiwork, I find my labours are not to be discovered. Most of what I did (and thought supremely important, at the time) I not longer 'remember'.

That is, I merely remember about it; but the memory is as unreal as a newspaper report or an advert. I - personally - am not there in the memory; even if I can see it through my past eyes, from my past perspective.

Instead there is something very different - a single golden thread that constitutes my mythical life. This represents what I have learned that was important - spiritually and eternally important - specifically important to me.   

This seems like a microcosmic clue to the nature of universal reality, to Heaven. Not everything is remembered; but what is significant to Heavenly Beings is permanent.

'Everything' is infinite and has no structure; what is truly remembered is because of its important relation the perspective of a Being. It is the consciousness of that Being which interacts with chaotic reality to create what we see as structure.

This is, indeed, the primary act of creation. It was God's interaction with primal chaos that began creation - all of significance depended upon the perspective of God (and God is incarnate; so God necessarily has perspective).

A great deal of what happens falls-away. This contributes to that feeling of chaos. But what matters does not fall away - this contributes to the feeling of life as cumulative, structural.

Of course, in mortal life, the falling-away is compounded by the impermanence of our bodies, and of earthly things. This aspect does not happen in the resurrected world of Heaven.

But in the eternity of Heaven, I would expect that still there is falling away, still not everything is permanent, still there will be trial and error - because this is an aspect of creation.

Whenever we have Beings, and relationships between Beings (and that is an approximation of ultimate reality), there will be a 'dynamic' living situation; and part of aliveness is perspective, and perspective means partiality.

Or, from the opposite perspective, it means focus - it means a permanent thread deriving from personal significance and importance.     

Sunday, 20 October 2019

"Hogwarts Hogwarts - Hoggy Warty Hogwarts" A round to sing with children

This little gem of a scene was inexplicably deleted from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie - a decade ago I learned the 'school song' with my kids, and we would perform it in the car.

Aside - the scene below would have been the best in the Half Blood Prince movie (indeed perhaps the best in all eight of the series) but it too was edited-out. It would have been inserted just before the Death Eaters attack Hogwarts, when Snape knew he would have to kill Dumbledore:

Is The System inherently evil, or merely corrupted - by Francis Berger

My penfriend Frank Berger has posted an outstandingly clarifying blog post today - short, punchy, exactly what is needed: 

People who perceive the evil gripping the West can generally be divided in two distinct groups.

The first group believes the system has been corrupted, and they advocate for the removal of the evil forces and elements that have caused the corruption. Put another way, people in this camp believe the system is inherently good, or at least was inherently good before dark interests debased it. Purge the evil from the system, the first group argues, and the system can be saved.

The second group, on the other hand, sees the system as purposefully corrupt and evil. People in this group believe the system has been designed by evil for the purpose of creating chaos and promoting damnation. Evil cannot be purged from the system because the system itself is evil embodied. Purging evil from the system would result in the elimination of the system (which is exactly what most in the second group believe should / needs to happen).

So where do you land? Do you see evil in a corrupted but otherwise good system? Or do you see only an evil system?

My comment: I see an evil system - but I am afraid of the implications of such an insight, and so I resisted it for a very long time.

Acknowledging that the system is itself designed for evil implies it needs to be destroyed - and the system is almost everywhere now. Destroying the evil system probably means disruption (and presumably, suffering, disease, death) on a scale never before seen.

I see that as a kind of death grip that evil now has upon the world - evil holds us to ransom - at least so far as this-worldly aspects are concerned. We have a situation in which the destruction of evil will almost certainly mean triggering the destruction of our civilisation - and therefore (almost certainly) our-selves and those we love.

More accurately, I think it means making this happen earlier rather than later - because evil is parasitic and un-sustainable - so such a 'crash and burn' will happen whatever we do; but by supporting the evil system, this inevitable collapse can be delayed.

But the price of doing so escalates. It gets harder and harder to delay collapse, and we would have to give more and more to sustaining the evil system for this to happen.

The only 'answer' - which would ensure we 'did the right thing' (rather than being drawn into ever-greater evil, as is currently the situation) is a really solid and motivating belief in the Heavenly Life Everlasting beyond death, attained through following Jesus with love.

This is why I try to emphasise the teaching of the Fourth Gospel - it is the Christian understanding that we most need now and in the days to come.

Covert drug dependence - or how prescribed drugs that create an illness are credited with curing it

In some ways, the editorial I wrote on Covert Drug Dependence was the most important-but-completely-ignored article that I ever wrote!

Covert drug dependence should be the null hypothesis for explaining drug-withdrawal-induced clinical deterioration: The necessity for placebo versus drug withdrawal trials on normal control subjects. Bruce G. Charlton. Medical Hypotheses. 2010; 74: 761-763.

(The core ideas are all drawn from David Healy - articulated in an adjacent article from the same issue of Medical Hypotheses - what I provided was the expression.)

Some edited excerpts:

Just as a placebo can mimic an immediately effective drug, so chronic drug dependence may mimic an effective long-term or preventive treatment...

The discovery of the placebo had a profound result upon medical practice. After the placebo effect was discovered it was recognized that it was much harder to determine the therapeutic value of an intervention than previously assumed.

An analogous recognition of the effect of drug dependence is now overdue, especially in relation to psychoactive drugs.

Just as placebo controlled trials of drugs are regarded as necessary to detect ineffective drugs, so drug withdrawal trials on normal control subjects should be regarded as necessary to detect dependence-producing drugs.

Nowadays the placebo effect is routinely assumed to be the cause of patient improvement unless proven otherwise. Placebo effect is therefore the null hypothesis used to explain therapeutic improvements.

The first aim of drug evaluation is now to show that measured benefits cannot wholly be explained by placebo.

This has led to widespread adoption of placebo controlled trials which compare the effect of the putative drug with a placebo. Only when the drug produces a greater effect than placebo alone, is it recognized as a potentially effective therapy.

The effect of withdrawing a drug upon which a subject has become dependent can be regarded as analogous to the placebo effect, in the sense that drug dependence resembles the placebo effect in being able to mislead concerning clinical effectiveness.

It may routinely be assumed that if a patient gets worse when drug treatment is stopped, then this change is due to the patient losing the beneficial effects of the drug, so that the underlying disease (for which the drug was being prescribed) has re-emerged.

However, this naïve assumption is certainly unjustified as a general rule because drug dependence produces exactly the same effect.

When a patient has become dependent on a drug, then adverse consequences following withdrawal may have nothing to do with revealing an underlying, long-term illness. Instead, chronic drug use has actually made the patient ill, the drug has created a new but covert pathology...

The body (including brain) has adapted to the presence of the drug and now needs the drug in order to function normally such that the covert pathology only emerges when the drug is removed and body systems are disrupted by its absence.

Eliminating drug dependence as an explanation for withdrawal effects cannot be achieved in the context of normal clinical practice, nor by the standard formal methodologies of controlled clinical trials. Just as eliminating the possibility of placebo effects requires specially designed placebo controlled therapeutic trails, so eliminating the occurrence of covert drug dependence requires also specially designed withdrawal trials on normal control subjects.

Our existing clinical evaluation procedures are not capable of detecting withdrawal effects. 

Even worse, current procedures misattribute the creation of dependence and harm following withdrawal, as instead being evidence of drug benefit with implication of the necessity for continued treatment of a supposed chronic illness.

The currently prevailing practices and assumptions systematically favours new drugs about which little is known.

Lack of evidence of dependence is interpreted as evidence of no dependence - perpetuating ignorance, and favouring new drugs about which we are ignorant.

In other words, as things stand; a drug that creates chronic dependence will instead be credited with curing a chronic disease.

Our current practice is precisely equivalent to chronic alcohol treatment being regarded as a cure for alcoholism - on the evidential basis that delirium tremens follows alcohol withdrawal, and alcohol can be used to treat delirium tremens!


Note: The prime example of covert drug dependence is psychiatric drugs - especially (so called) antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers.

For instance antidepressants cause serious withdrawal symptoms that mimic the illness for which they were prescribed. This is interpreted as some kind of chronic depression or other illness. And that person may be recommended to stay on the drug.

Whenever the patient tries to stop taking the antidepressant, he gets depressive symptoms. The longer he stays on the antidepressant, the worse the withdrawal depression becomes. He may take the antidepressant forever, on the assumption he has chronic depression and that the drug is doing him good.

Thus people who want to stop taking antidepressants - either because they don't want to take drugs forever, or because the drugs have bad side effects on them (such as emotional blunting and demotivation, sexual dysfunction, or intermittent suicidal impulses) find they can't stop taking them. As a result, antidepressant prescriptions have been going up and up.

Big Pharma makes tens of billions of dollars per year by causing covert drug dependence then selling it as long term, preventive treatment.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Are you a Christian or (just) a theist? What role does Jesus have in your theology?

To become a Christian it would seem necessary that Jesus has an important, probably vital, role in your understanding of divine activity - in addition to God the creator. All Christians regard Jesus as divine and necessary - but most Christians are unable satisfactorily to explain why.

And this is something that each must workout for himself, it seems to me; in practice. Because of this, for a long time I found it hard to be a Christian in any theoretically solid way - explanations kept crumbling...

(The ability of Christians explicitly to defend and explain Jesus seems to be increasingly necessary in the modern world - since naive Christians are falling to secular materialism with sustained high frequency.)

I was not satisfied with any of the usual explanations of what Jesus did, because they were either incoherent, or depended on an understanding of God and creation that (on living-with them) I sooner or later regarded as mistaken.

For me, any explanation leads on to further questions - until eventually I reach an assumption, and I must assent to this intuition: it must seem right at the deepest and solidest way I can manage, by sustained and intense thinking. I've reached such firm ground with Jesus - at least for the past few years.

I regard all theories of Jesus that start with an omnipotent God (who created everything from nothing) as fundamentally and necessarily mistaken - because such a God can do, and does do, everything - so there is by definition no need for Jesus.

This rules-out the entirety of traditionalist Christianity - Orthodox and Roman Catholic, and Protestant.

The only large scale theology left standing is Mormon; with its God (i.e. Heavenly Parents) who is wholly good by constrained by time and that creation is ongoing, continuing, open-ended; and began with pre-existent unorganised 'stuff' and the primordial spirits of men and women (who were embryonic Gods).

But, in my view, mainstream Mormonism errs in making Jesus primarily about atonement. This falls into being a double-negative theology of Jesus that I regard as refuted by intuition as well as the Fourth Gospel. Jesus came to bring us something more, life more abundant; not merely to undo sins and errors.

Because if Jesus was essentially an undoer, a negative figure, then that leads back to why God created the situation such as to require an undoer, but that undoer cannot itself be God... It also diminishes Jesus to be an undoer rather than the bringer of a great gift.

Yet, the strangest thing is that the work of Jesus is explained, repeatedly and clearly (albeit poetically) in the Fourth Gospel, which is about 2000 years old. If it can be read without a superstructure of preconceptions - the answer is there.

What do You think about thinking?

Clearly, there is something wrong withthe thinking of modern Man: I think we can agree about that - but what should be done about it?

Many mystical/ spiritual people are set against thinking, as such - they regard thinking as the basis of illusion (maya) and alienation, and therefore they try to stop thinking.  

Stop thinking and just be is the kind of advice.

The most usual method recoemmended is practicing some method of meditation.

But (unfortunately) for modern people the most easy and direct method of stopping thinking is intoxication; which is probably why the Eastern spiritualities of the Beatnicks and Hippies swiftly became drugs-orientated.

So; if stopping thinking is the ideal, then methods such as intoxication, deep sleep (or anaesthesia) are the most reliable methods; and death (i.e. suicide) is the most permanent. Suicide (or attempts at suicide) is not all that unusual among those who seek not to think - and suicide is made much more likely by most types of psychoactive drug usage.

The great breakthrough of Rudolf Steiner, in his first four books culminating in The Philosophy of Freedom, was that our proper goal should be almost the opposite: he argues that we need to trust our thinking much more fully than we do at present - and to strengthen and expand thinking.

One point is that if we mistrust our own thinking, we deal a deadly blow to ourselves - consciousness becomes alienated from our selves (our true and divine selves), as well as from the world. If we cannot trust thinking, we cannot trust anything - since everything we know comes through thinking.

The task is therefore ultimately to ensure that our thinking is trust-worthy - and in the meanwhile to learn to distinguish trust-worthy thinking from the kind of thinking that is not trustworthy (which is - for most people, most of the time - our ordinary everyday thinking, which we know from experience has something wrong with it).

I have termed this trust-worthy thinking Primary Thinking - and regard it as our consciousness of the real self; our awareness of God-within-us; an experience of the divine way of Being, in which a god knows explicitly, and is therefore able to be free.

(Since un-conscious knowing is not free.)

This idea of Steiner's was - I think - something new under the sun!

Instead of regarding the thinking Ego as The Problem which ought to be deleted; we regard thinking as The Answer.

We should try (as it were) to go through the Ego and out the other side. By which I mean that we ought to regard Primary Thinking as potentially a higher form of consciousness than either divine Ego-less hence unconscious Being on the one hand; or the mainstream modern state of alienated, solipsistic, relativistic and despairing consciousness.

The intent is that by strengthened and expanded thinking we should become aware of the divine that was previous unconscious to us; and therefore become able to join with the divine work of creation - rather than being unconsciously immersed-in and swept-along-by the divine. 

And one consequence is that our persepctive becomes pro-life. Fantasies of disovering the truth by not being fully human - by deletion of thinking through meditation, intoxication, or death - are replaced with an imagied future in which our thinking is as powerful as our instincts and emotions; and expanded to includes all that is deepest and best: the spiritual as well as the material.

Friday, 18 October 2019

When the arts and real science have died; what should creative people do instead?

Creativity in the arts and real science worked on the basis, now gone, that the objective will impose itself on the subjective. But nowadays, the mainstream view is that there is no objective; and even if there was it would not impose itself upon the subjective.

(The only modern objectivity is in subversion and destruction of the objective - because the realm of objectivity is oppression, is evil. Hence modernity is strategically destructive - has no long-term creative goal.)

Tradition says that the good/ true/ objective is imposed upon us - eg. by symbol, logic, ritual, or sacred institutions (of which there used to be many).

Such symbolism (what Rudolf Steiner termed the Intellectual Soul state - running approx. from the Classical Era dwindling to the end of the Middle Ages, after which there was a mere residuum) is what we used to point our consicousness back at the primal world of Original Participation - to put us into that trance state of lowered and lessened but immersed-in-creation consciousness.

But that has become all but impossible; infrequent and unsatisfying. Those days of symbols are gone. True (world class, powerful, motivating) art and science are dead.

Final Participation is good/ true/ objective - but each person must have it by subjective experience. It does not impose; it must be chosen - and by deliberate and active choice. This can only come by loving participation in the divine work of creation.

For this one must love creation, that is - love God.

Because it is God's creation that is good/ true/ objective - and we are a part of that creation; so it is the only possible source of the GTO.

The creation we must love is God's; and it is this love that enables us to participate-in creation.

Not to love God (and goodness, and creation, and the objective) is - like nearly all modern people (including artists and scientists) to be self-excluded from genuine creation. Instead there is the fake-creativity of mere-novelty, extrapoliation, selection and combination - plus dishonest hype (i.e. dead bureaucracy plus the mass media).

So there is indeed some-thing other than, better than, the arts and real science - which supersedes those 'symbolic' forms of creation; and that is Final Participation.

Owen Barfield's intellectual links with Rudolf Steiner - from Keri Ford

Keri Ford has done a really excellent 23 minute analysis of the relationship between Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield. For me, this matter is of first rank important in my own life and thought, and describes the unavoidable current crux of our civilisation; so I am delighted to have such a concentrated consideration of made available in this format.

One interesting and original aspect is that Keri draws upon Barfield's unpublished, semi-autobiographical novel English People - written from 1927-9 (which is available free online) - to demonstrate the point of contact between these two thinkers, and the way in which Steiner worked-upon Barfield in a manner analogous to Barfield's intense appreciation of lyrical poetry.

Near the beginning of the video, Keri also tackles the 'elephant in the room' about Steiner, that ultra-detailed and systematic bizarreness of 'objective description' of past, present and future which confronts anyone who tries to read Steiner.

Keri frames it very helpfully in terms of Steiner describing history as he observes it 'from the inside'; and that what we need to do is first acknowledge the validity of this project, and only then address Steiner's attempt - not by wholesale rejection - but by trying to do better.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

The genius of Johnny Morris

Johnny Morris was a genius of storytelling, and through my childhood a vivid presence. I've just discovered this radio documentary by him from 1960 - about the Isle of Portland, on the coast of Dorset. It is a masterpiece of its kind. A piece of old Albion!

Italian air force in the Battle of Britain! Mark Felton for military history buffs (especially World War II)

For the past few weeks I have been visiting daily the excellent military videos of Mark Felton. He specialises in telling fascinating snippet stories (about 5-20 minutes) of specific aspects of the 1939-45 war.

For example, today's story was an account of the Italian Air Force's surprising involvement in the Battle of Britain (the results were unimpressive... biplanes versus Hurricanes, massive losses due to accidents and mechanical failures etc.)

There are a series of really interesting pieces on the astonishing German high technology experiments towards the end of the war - such as the rocket-powered Komet fighter; the only rocket plane ever to be in active service:

Or the experimental 188 ton Maus tank - a crazily massive tank.

There are loads of other vids about particular operations, combats, dogfights, personalities - it's a real treasure trove; one of the very best YouTube channels I've ever seen.

Can we ever be certain about anything - should we be?

Plenty of people find uncertainty a stumbling block that prevents them taking up a religion; they feel that they are required to be certain about some religious truth or truths - yet they also feel that certainty is a merely psychological state that does not signify truth.

I may be certain about a thing now; but may become uncertain tomorrow - yet (presumably) the thing is true or not regardless of my state of certainty?

If, however, one recognises this mortal life as primarily a time of experiencing and learning, then it is not our job to achieve certainty, but to learn. The stages and phases of certainty are then seen as a part of the process of learning.

Of course this perspective itself entails being 'certain' that this mortal life is indeed about learning (rather than life being 'about' something else, or nothing at all); which ought to mean that there is a 'Cretan Liar' paradox at work: circular reasoning...

But it does not feel like that - perhaps because the idea that this mortal life is for learning does not depend on a single assumption, fact or type of evidence; but arises intuitively - and intuition is the basis of all possible knowledge.

John Fitzgerald's essay Resistance and Renewal

On his blog Deep Britain and Ireland, John Fitzgerald has a written version of a talk he presented a few days ago to a small gathering that was partly inspired by the Albion Awakening blog (currently dormant) which was a joint venture of myself, John and William Wildblood. Also present were Terry Boardman and Andy Thomas, whose work has featured here.

(Unfortununately, I couldn't be present because my chronic health problems prevented the necessary travelling to the far end of England.)

This essay is a major piece of work, and deserves full attention. I recommend copying, pasting and printing-out a version - as I did.

Here is a taster from the concluding section towards the end, which I hope will inspire you to read it:

Christ tells us in the Gospel that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed then we can move mountains. Faith is the most important element of all - far more than any head-based strategising or planning. It's difficult, because the anti-religious, anti-traditional currents of contemporary life claim the opposite, but we have to believe in ourselves, in each other, and in our country. All three levels - the personal, the communitarian, and that of the country or homeland - were conceived in the mind of God and have a divinely-imprinted destiny to fulfil.

Countries are real. They are living, concrete entities, not abstractions or so-called 'imagined communities'. Lewis shows us this brilliantly at the end of the final Narnia story The Last Battle, where, from the vantage point of eternity, we see all the countries in all the worlds - including England, including Narnia - jutting like spurs from the mountains of Aslan's country, shining like jewels, more solid and real than we ever perceived them down here in the Shadowlands.

Each country has its own inner essence - its charism, its individual gift - which needs, for the good of the whole world, to be drawn out and championed. As Ransom puts it, 'When Logres really dominates Britain, when the goddess reason, the divine clearness, is really enthroned in France, when the order of Heaven is really followed in China - why, then it will be spring.'

The Imagination - with a capital 'I' - is what we're especially blessed with in Albion, I feel. We see it in William Blake, of course, in Shakespeare, Milton, and Traherne, and, in more modern times, poets such as Kathleen Raine, George Mackay Brown, Edwin Muir, and David Jones. Tolkien, Williams and Lewis, as is well-known, conveyed profound Christian truth through the media of poetry and story. How right Williams was then, to portray Logres as the eyes - the visionary hub - of his reimagined Byzantine Empire.

Imagination, however, is not exciusively or primarily concerned with the writing of novels and poems. These are the fruits of our Imaginative labour but they are not its most essential aspects. What is absolutely key is the ability to see through and beyond the Sturm und Drang of daily political and social life and dig down deep to what is truly real. This is just what Ransom does in That Hideous Strength. To MacPhee's annoyance, he doesn't react to the grubby power-plays of the NICE. He doesn't launch a raid on their premises or expose them to the government or call in help from overseas. He refuses to be drawn. He declines to play the game on this tactical, newspaper-headline level. He knows that he is engaged in a spiritual conflict and that the real war goes on in Heaven. He waits, therefore. He watches and prays. He sits at the Lord's feet with Mary, while Martha (MacPhee) complains. Like Taliessin in Mount Badon, he sinks into contemplation and receives the help he needs from planetary angels who operate at a level far above that of the parry and counter-parry of political strife.

The problem, as I see it, is that all these figures - poets, novelists, fictional characters, ourselves too - have been swimming against the tide for a long time now; since 1066, in fact. My contention is that King Harold's death at Hastings was the moment when this country lost its spiritual bearings, and this turning away from the Good has become increasingly pronounced ever since. The Normans brought an expansionist mentality with them and a certain rapaciousness, which had previously been absent in England's ruling class. However noble - jumping forward a few centuries now - the motives behind the Reformation and the challenge to Charles I's authority might have been, the net result, in my view, was to encourage and exacerbate this mindset, flinging open the door to that mercantilism, industrialism, and mechanistic thinking, which Blake railed so mightily against and with which we continue to contend with today.

It hasn't always been this way though. In the last few hundred years before Christ, as Blake well knew, Britain, through the strength and influence of the Druids, was a centre of great spiritual power, with a reputation for the numinous which stretched far beyond Albion's rocky shore. This age came around again - on a higher, deeper, baptised point of the curve - in the Anglo-Saxon era, after the arrival of St. Augustine at Cantiisburg. The island then became a land of genuine saints and scholars, with monastic founders like St. Aidan, St. Hilda, and St. Cuthbert, and missionaries to Europe such as Willibord of Northumbria, Boniface of Wessex, and Alcuin of York, who became Charlemagne's chief adviser. We had high class historians and writers, St. Bede of Jarrow being the shining example here, who penned the highly influential History of the Church in England, plus artists of the highest calibre, as can be seen, for instance, in the wonderful patterns and pictures of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

King Alfred the Great, after the depredations of the Danish invasions, rebuilt our schools, had old books copied out, rewrote the law, and established excellent relations with the Pope and other European monarchs. His sons, Edward and Athelstan, were warriors and statesmen who created the conditions for political and national unity, while the reign of Edgar the Peaceable (959-975) saw a remarkable reform and revival of monastic life across the country.

This is the best of Britain, I feel. This, deep down, is what we're all about. These are the saints we need to pray to and the sovereigns we should strive to emulate. This is the mentality and worldview to tap into if we are to see the dawn of a third golden age - a synthesis of the previous two - a harmonisation and taking up of Britain's Christian and pre-Christian patrimonies. Lewis, again, shows us the way in That Hideous Strength, where Christ (Maleldil, as he calls Him) stands at the centre of the universe like the Sun, with the old gods - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter - circling around Him in the guise of the planetary angels, working in concert with Him for the transfiguration of our fallen world.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Has the Establishment decided to trigger (partial) collapse of The System, now?

It seems possible. The 'demands' of the current (Establishment-created, funded, organised and approved) 'Environmentalism' protests are such that they would cause rapid and irreversible collapse of the world economy with the deaths of several billions.

But this isn't a new strategy. The officially-advocated combination of open-borders and mass immigration from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia to the developed nations would have done the same already, had not these been slowed-up (somewhat) by mass resistance. Other examples could be adduced.

It looks as if there is a desire to trigger collapse of The System; and yet at the same time The System is the means by which the Establishment monitor and control the masses. So I assume that the apparent desire to cause total and irreversible collapse is not genuine. What seems to be aimed at is to begin a collapse; and then stop it part way - while the technological and organisational mechanisms of population-control remain intact.

My assumption, therefore, is that They are playing a high risk 'game' by which they wish to trigger the beginnings of a collapse sufficient to lead to mass demands for an openly and explicitly authoritarian global government of mass surveillance and micro-management.

This would fit with the fact that the Extinction Rebellion activist 'demands' are quoting official United Nations policy documents; and therefore these are policies that all the Western governments have already 'signed-up' for. Even if it seems like a novelty; this is a long-planned strategy for Them.

The Establishment are able - routinely - calculatedly to create social crises and then successfully to deny their obvious real causes in order to implement further authoritarian oppression (what David Icke terms Problem-Reaction-Solution).

A clear example is the huge and increasing London epidemic of murder, mostly stabbings, caused by the officially mandated policy of enforcing a massive, open-ended and increasing influx of (on average) violent immigrants. Thus was the problem created.

The public have reacted with fear, as intended. But this predictable consequence of mass immigration from chronically violent nations is re-branded 'knife attacks' by the media-political complex (attacks by knives, presumably). The solution? An acceleration of the (already advanced) totalitarian agenda - which entails wholesale disarming of the peaceful majority population, confiscation of all potential defensive devices; leaving them helpless, afraid, angry, resentful, vengeful etc. Some will demand protection from The Authorities; those who react violently (even in defence) will be viciously oppressed by The Establishment.

For the Totalitarians, whether the population becomes despairing or resentful, it is a win-win scenario. Because, let us not forget that for The Establishment, this is a spiritual war. Totalitarianism - with control of information and behaviour - is a means to the end of that inversion of values which is the best way of inducing people to choose hell. 

I think it possible that massive social chaos is the intention of the Global Establishment - on a larger scale than has been attempted since World War Two. Instead of using international war as the rationalisation for totalitarianism, there would be a deliberate creation of economic collapse leading to starvation, disease and endemic local violence. This would surely lead to urgent calls that Something Must Be Done; and the plans for what will be done are ready.

At this point, the same people who caused the emergency would then offer to 'solve' it - with tough new measures, requiring tough new powers - by making the world into a single global totalitarian regime, with themselves in charge.

(Of course the problems will not be solved - bureaucracies never solve problems; but will be sustained and managed - so that the process may be continued: progressive ratcheting of social control.)

Will this work? Yes, probably it will work - since the mass of Western people are godless hedonists, hence weakly-motivated and short-termist, hence easily manipulated.

The Western masses have shown themselves unable to foresee even huge and immediate consequences of major and psychotic legal changes; such as 'hate crimes', same-sex-marriage and legal assertion of the reality of arbitrary sexual identity.

These have led to an ongoing total reorganisation of the entirety of all social institutions - large and small, official and voluntary, public and private; and a cancerous bureaucracy to monitor and manage the process of wholesale human corruption - especially focusing on the exploitation and psychological/ sexual/ physical abuse of (ever younger) children (because the human Establishment are themselves corrupted by and for such abuse).

What might stop the plan? Perhaps the most likely scenario is that once it has begun, the collapse would become self-propagating by a version of the domino effect; positive feedback mechanisms would begin to operate and - in sum - the collapse could not be 'contained' and could not be reversed.

The large majority of the world's seven billion people would then die, from the usual apocalyptic causes, over a timescale of months.

And the Establishment would thus (accidentally, by over-reach) destroy the technological and organisational means by which they intended to monitor and control the masses. The survivors would return to a multitude of small and local social forms; and historically 'normal service' would be resumed (assuming the planet remains habitable in parts).

This is a spiritual war we live in, and the root cause is spiritual. 

Atheism is a mental illness for individuals, and an atheist society is insane. For the past several decades; all developed societies have been atheist in public discourse and by public policy; and the effects are working-through.

No developed societies are willing to defend themselves, to sustain their culture, or to maintain their population fertility. It is official doctrine that life has no transcendent purpose, no permanent meaning; and that all morals, aesthetics and standards of truth are arbitrary, relativistic and expedient.

As long as this is the case, nothing can be done to save the developed world, because fundamentally the world does not want to be saved. And when The West collapses, it will bring down almost everybody else (since the ability to sustain seven billion people on a planet that naturally sustains only about one billion is entirely and irreplaceably due to Western technology and organisation).

So, the only other barrier to the success of the Establishment agenda would be if the developed nations became sane. This would mean that their populations chose, en masse, to embark upon a serious and significant religious revival.

Only then would the inversion of values and corruption of motivations be reversed; only then would common sense and natural, spontaneous human evaluations be restored to a position of strength and effectiveness.

Whether or not this would save the majority of the world's people from extinction is doubtful - probably the die is cast in that regard. But we all die biologically, sooner or later; and the most important thing over the long-term of eternity is how we have lived and died in a spiritual sense.

That is what is at stake.

Monday, 14 October 2019

William Wildblood's Vision of Albion

Following a meeting devoted to the subject; William discusses the concept of Albion:

Albion is first and foremost a country of the imagination. That doesn't mean it is not real. It's a spiritual counterpart to the land of Britain. In Platonic terms you might see it as an archetype though I use that term non-literally. 

We will leave the debate as to how much of Britain and Ireland Albion comprises to others. For myself, being by blood half English, a quarter Scottish and a quarter Irish, I see it as centred in England but touching, though not incorporating, Caledonia and Hibernia (and Wales I'm sure!) which have their own spiritual identities. 

But it is important to understand that on this level there is no conflict between angels of the land. Behind every real thing there is a being and I see Albion as not just the spirit of the land but also a great national angel.

Read the whole thing...

Proto-SJWs and virtue-signalling - The 'complex' characters in Anthony Trollope's Barchester Chronicles

I've been watching the 1982 BBC TV adaptation of volumes one and two of Anthony Trollope's Barchester Chronicles. These are set in a fictional idyllic English Cathedral city in the middle 1800s; and I found that I was expecting the characters to fit the usual stereotypes familiar from modern TV and movies.

But Trollope does something very interesting and unusual here. The story is about the activity of political radicals in Barchester who propose a variety of reforms to the church. The Church of England is depicted as staffed by idle, nepotistic and corrupt upper class men; who get large incomes for little or no work.

For example, the Warden gets 800 pounds income from a hospital for a dozen old men, a position that has no duties. The Canon of the Cathedral has been living the high life with his family in Italy for more than a decade.

As a result of the radicals activities, the hospital is doubled in size to include old women; and has a Sunday school added and regular church services. The Canon is made to return and work for his living.

This is exactly the kind of plot we are familiar with from countless dramas - corrupt conservatives versus idealistic leftists...

However, Trollope provides a rare - but realistic - twist; because the corrupt conservatives contain all the kindest, most sympathetic - most truly Christian characters. The Warden himself, Mr Harding, is almost a saint; the only person who is capable of loving self-sacrifice.

While by contrast the radicals are a mixed bunch of dislikable, or inconsistent, folk - as indicated by their Dickensian names. Dr Bold - a gullible idealist who betrays his wife's family to the rabble rousing London press; Mrs Proudie - the new Bishop's snobbish and tyrannical wife; and the Bishop himself - weak, vacillating, without principles. And the vastly odious Obidiah Slope - the Bishop's hypocritical and scheming Chaplain (played by Alan Rickman in his first big impact role).

The result is a state of complex ambiguity in which the 'cause' is separated from the nature of motivations of the people; in which apparently high ideals are shown to have adverse consequences, in which the pursuit of public good is a mask for a more cynical, and overall more damaging, form of corruption than that which it purports to address.

Mrs Proudie and Mr Bold can indeed be seen as proto-SJWs, engaging in early examples of what we currently term 'virtue signalling'!

In brief, Trollope succeeds in writing that rarest of stories - one in which the nice people are on the 'wrong' side, while those who hold all the 'right opinions' are shades of nasty. More importantly, Trollope has the ring of truth about it - and (broadly speaking) very probably represented the actual situation in that era.

As a real life example, reading Ralph Waldo Emerson in the pre US Civil War years, it is clear that the activist Abolitionists were a bunch of monomaniacal fanatics - either very boring, or psychopathically dangerous. The nice and kind people were nearly all on the side of the status quo. Indeed, Emerson had to overcome a strong personal repulsion against the Abolitionists before he could embrace the cause of anti-slavery. And, of course, the actual consequences of coercive abolition were, in many respects, extremely bad - not least the killing and maiming of a very high proportion of the population. Yet such realism has become intolerable to the modern mind - we must have our slavers as nasty, and our abolitionists as saints.

So we get the paradox that mainstream middlebrow Victoria story of small town, upper class life is more genuinely tough-minded and truthful than the grimy sordidness of modern productions. But then, modern people mock the up-front and principled Bowderlisations of Victorians (designed to protect the innocent), while dishonestly imposing their own censorship in favour of moral inversion and the corruption of children.

So it's all of a piece, really. 

The slimy Mr Slope - low churchman and bachelor and proponent of puritanical public morality, gets rather too flirty with a married lady...

Review of The Transmigration of Timothy Archer by Philip K Dick (1982)

Although I have owned a copy of The Transmigration of Timothy Archer for nearly forty years; it was only this weekend that I actually 'read' it - that is, I listened to the audio-book version. I found it very stimulating.

The protagonist is a type that I thoroughly despise in real life: the 'trendy', leftist-radical, media-famous, apostate Christian bishop - indeed the central character was modelled on a real life example of the breed, who was apparently a friend of the author. However, such was the depth and multi-faceted nature of this book that my irritation took a second place behind my fascination at the issues and conflicts.

Although Dick was far more sympathetic to the Tim Archer character than I would have been - seeing him as a great man who did much good and whose quest was genuinely spiritual; overall the portrait is unsparing.

This includes the way that short-termist, hedonic, personal and selfish drives are retrospectively 'validated' by the intelligent and articulate (and legally trained) Archer; who fluently distorts philosophy and Christian theology into justifying whatever he currently wants to do. Also the ways in which the bishop is de facto a parasite upon the church in terms both of his status and also of lifestyle and financially.

Dick was a very smart and cerebral writer - in this respect much like Saul Bellow; there is a wide range of artistic and cultural references, and the engagement is sufficiently deep and sincere that the book comes-across as a genuine exploration (rather than a pretentious display of names). The novel doesn't merely discuss or talk-about, but actually does philosophy.

This is unsurprising given the extraordinary and frenzied nature of PKD's final years - during which he was continually grappling with spiritual and religious issues; reading, thinking, talking and staying-up through the night writing dozens of pages of exploratory philosophy - entirely for his personal reasons (not aimed at publication, although an edited selection of these writings was posthumously made available - in 2011 - as Exegesis).

Overall, this book succeeds in rendering the spiritual quest to know Jesus, to understand and practice Christianity, as a very exciting and supremely important business; a matter that grips and obsesses the characters. And this is surely a consequence of the fact that it was so for PK Dick himself - in late life.

Nobody - least of all Dick - would recommend anybody to emulate Dick's lifestyle and life choices, which were largely disastrous - but this books focus on important things. There is a relentless pursuit of truth, a sustained and repeated attention to primary questions... and these are of greater urgency now than when the book was written, since our culture has drifted so far into shallowness and despair, feeble motivation, brief-attention and gullibility.

Dick's attitude and world is only the start of wisdom for a person (a society) sunk in distraction and intoxication, but that is something we need now more than ever.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Did Jesus complete his work? Matthew and Luke say no; the Fourth Gospel (of John) says yes

One major difference between the Fourth Gospel and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke; is that the Fourth Gospel account is one of Jesus finishing his job after his resurrection and ascension.

We are told that Jesus has completed his work. Nothing more needs to be done - except for each person to choose whether or not to follow Jesus.

Whereas Matthew and Luke, with their assertion of a second coming, assert that the ascended Jesus had done only half the job.

The job would be finished only with the second coming of Christ.

Furthermore, the Acts of the Apostles (continuing Luke), and Paul's Epistles also assert that the efforts of Men - by teaching and organising, are needed in order to complete the work of Jesus.

By my understanding, both cannot be correct.

(Note: I believe that the Fourth Gospel is the correct teaching.) 

God's ethical problem: consequences of God making our primordial spirits into Children of God, without our consent

My understanding (mostly derived from Mormon theology) is that human beings began as what could be called primordial spirits - which had existed from eternity; and the first step in our development was to become Sons and Daughters of God.

That was God's most important act of creation, because it was the first step towards Men potentially becoming divine, mini-gods of the same kind as the resurrected and ascended Jesus.

The ethical problem, as I see it, is that as primrdial spirits we could not, therefore did not, consent to being made children of God. We could not consent because, until we became children of God, we were not capable of consent.

As primordial spirits we were incapable of understanding what it meant to become children of God, therefore it was something done to us.

We had first to become children of God, before we were able to consent to or choose anything; therefore it was an essential first step - nonetheless, that first step was coercive.

To put this in a nutshell; God bestowed consciousness upon us. This consciousness then made it possible for us to be agents, to have free will. Until there was consciousness, we could not choose to be conscious - therefore we were compelled, by God, to become conscious.  

There is a close analogy with raising children - here in our mortal lives. Parents have to begin by doing things to children - without the child's consent. Good parenting entails considerable compulsion.

A young child is (at least quantitatively) unable to consent; and it is not until later in development that consent becomes possible (for some, not all, people).

The factor that transcends the compulsion and 'makes it good' is love. When the parent is behaving with love, the compulsion is taken-up by the greater reality of love and seen as a means to the ends of love.

But if love is denied, or was not present, then we are left with the perception of plain compulsion of the child by the parents; with the parent merely compelling the child to follow the parent's agenda. 

Only during adolescence, does a child becomes able to consent; and an adolescent will often become (implicitly or explicitly) aware that much of their childhood entailed compulsion. They may see this as having been necessary and done with love; or they may instead conclude that they have been oppressed or exploited by their parents.

The adolescent coming-into adulthood may choose consciously to return to a loving relationship with parents; or may choose to sever all ties and reject the parents.

The fact of compulsion during development therefore necessarily (and rightly) leads to a crux, a time of decision. The parent makes a decision on behalf of the child; but for the situation to become right the mature child needs to endorse the parental decision.

This happens in an ultimate and divine sense. We must, sooner or later, decide whether we endorse the decision of God coercively to make us his children - or reject it.

I think it is the result of this choice that leads people to Heaven or not. To choose Heaven means to endorse God's decision, to be grateful for consciousness, to regard God as having been motivated by love. It means to dwell with God in divine creation, and to participate - whether passively, actively and fully - or something in-between - in that continuous work of creation.

(It can be seen how such an understanding of Heaven depends on the situation of love.)

To choose hell means that we resent God's choice, we regard it as having been made un-lovingly, for God's own purposes with which we disagree. Hell is the denial that God acted with love, or the denial that love is a sufficient reason for God to act.

This hell is what happens when a person is angry at God, at God's primal act of 'making' us his child. It is to accept the consciousness that was bestowed by God, but to reject God's purpose for which consciousness was bestowed. 

To choose hell therefore means that we choose to retain our consciousness and agency - despite its having being forced-upon us; but (motivated by hatred and resentment against God) to use this consciousness in opposition to God's purposes.

Hell is to use our powers of agency against the agenda of God - and instead for our own agenda.

There is another possibility. Some people dislike being conscious, and therefore would prefer to reverse the act of bestowing Sons and Daughters of God. This is broadly the choice of people that may be Hindus or Buddhists. They disagree with God's agenda of raising Men to a divine level of Being; and instead prefer to revert to the primordial state of Being. Being without awareness - simply being.

In principle this choice may well be made with full acknowledgement of God's loving intentions; but simply based on the conviction that 'consciousness is not for me'. God has made us his children, made us conscious - and as spiritual adolescents we say 'Thanks, but no thanks; I would rather not become divine'.

To such persons, God (I believe) offers Nirvana - which is a reversion to the primordial state of minimal consciousness, but dwelling in a situation of divine love, of 'bliss'. Simply being, moment by moment, unchanging, in a pleasant and comfortable state.

(Hence the impersonality, the foundational abstraction of 'Eastern' religions. It somes from the preference not to be persons, not to relate to God as a person - because these depend on consciousness.)

In sum, there is a moral problem at the heart of divine creation; which is the moment in our personal history when we were made children of God.

This was unavoidable; but the problem is dealt with when we each must later choose how we regard this act of bestowing consciousness, how we interpret it, what to do about it...

Then there will be (it is unavoidable) a decision - which we can now make, being agents with free will: the decison whether to accept the agenda of spiritual development towards divinity for which God made us consciousness; or to reject it.

And if we reject it; the decision whether we then consciously fight against God's agenda (since we regard God as selfishly-motivated); or simply opt-out of being Sons or Daughters of God - handing-back to God his unwanted gift of consciousness.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Eternal life - what does it entail? (considering that Beings are eternal, anyway)

Just below the surface; it is a puzzle that Jesus promises eternal life; when life is, apparently, already eternal. Souls do not die, and both Jews and pagans of Jesus's time (or leading up to that era) assumed that souls continued in a kind of underworld. What, then was so special about everlasting life?

What is being offered by Jesus is that we our-selves will live eternally - and that this includes resurrection, a permanent restoration of the body. Because - for both Jews and pagans - what of us that persisted in the underworld after we have died was no longer our-self.

The implication is that for we our-selves to live forever requires that bodies (our bodies) must also live forever.

This can't happen with our mortal bodies; they never were suitable for eternal use - from conception and birth there are problems, and through life these accumulate, and we die. So a permanent body must be another one that is (in some sense) the same as the mortal one, but not the same one.

This isn't really any mystery or paradox - because each person's identity (our identity) is based upon the linear continuity of our-selves through time. So resurrection is understandable as the continuity of our selves, souls, from eternity - going through a phase of mortal incarnation which is (for some reason that we don't understand) developmentally-necessary for the development of a resurrected body.

So, these are the necessary developmental stages of a Man. We must go-through these phases - spirit, mortal body, immortal body - if we want to become eternal selves...

But the essence of the necessity of Jesus's life (i.e. why Jesus was needed) is that the 'final' stage - of transition from mortal to immortal body - is one that requires our conscious assent; unlike earleir stages, resurrection does not 'just happen'.

We must want it, and we must want it in a particular way that includes wanting the consequences of it; which means that resurrected life eternal is not just about our-personal-selves living forever; but about the fact that to have this is to become gods - and participating in the 'ongoing work of creation'.

The two go together - resurrection and participation in creation; which is a clue to the fact that resurrection is itself an aspect of ongoing creation.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Atheism is the libertarianism of spiritual ecology

Atheists and Libertarians are both on the side of the mainstream of public discourse; that is, on the side of the Global Establishment, the mass media, and the interlinked bureaucracy - with their agenda of a single, totalitarian System of value-inversion.

Taken seriously, atheist assumptions would lead to paralysing despair - perhaps as the terminus of a brief phase of psychopathic hedonism.

But atheism never is taken seriously in public discourse; because all atheists are hypocrites - at root, because that there is no such thing as the sin of hypocrisy from an atheist perspective. In sum, there are no sincere atheists.

(Any atheist that did take atheism seriously would not participate in public discourse, would - indeed - keep his atheism secret; and would soon be dead. So we would never know about him.)

This is the same as libertarianism: there are no sincere libertarians. All libertarians are either hypocritical and self-contradicting; or else (usually, nearly always) they sell-out, as soon as it is expedient for them to do so. Why not?

(Libertarianism is just a career strategy - a bit like forming a start-up company in hope that you will become successful enough to be bought-out by one of the industry giants.)  

I think these facts are widely known - but come up against the question If Not, Then What? It seems that most modern people have pre-decided the answer must be 'Anything but Christianity' then they have painted themselves into a corner.

Until they recognise that Christianity is the answer, and set about finding out just how it is the answer; they are stuck in a hopeless trap, forever.

Note: I have been both an atheist - most of my life; and a libertarian - late 90s to mid-2000s.