Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Absence of God entails nihilism; but God alone does not cure nihilism (the cure requires Jesus Christ)

Absence of God causes nihilism. But the mere fact of the reality of God does not solve nihilism. God is necessary but not sufficient.

This is indeed why Christianity is necessary. If God was sufficient, there would be no need for Jesus - and Judaism/ Islam would be better (being more simply coherent and not having that distraction).

God is an essential part of the solution to nihilism - God is the primary creator. And creation is love-in-action.

Nihilism is solved (for God as well as for ourselves) by creation - more exactly by our choice in permanently joining creation as eternal and divine (i.e. resurrected) Men. We do this because of love.

The solution to nihilism is participation in loving-creation.

When I state baldly that it is The Solution - more exactly it is the solution for those for whom it is the solution: me for example.

I can understand why loving-creation might not be the solution for someone incapable of love (for example) - such a person might not have a solution to nihilism (e.g. a genuine psychopath).

Or, a person who deeply and permanently disliked all Men and prefers solitude to family (e.g. perhaps a genuine adherent of ascetic negative Buddhism who has no attachment to anything).

What about the past? - when Men had god/s but were not-Christian - and were not nihilistic? The answer relates to the evolution of consciousness. In the past (and still, for some Men in the present) their consciousness is not sufficiently developed that they can be nihilists - a nihilist must be sufficiently self-aware to recognise he is not the universe.

Young children, also, are not nihilists - because children do not distinguish them-selves from the not-self. They are (almost wholly) immersed-in reality.

What of Satan - what does he offer? To those who cannot or do not love; it may be the 'promise' of having consciousness abolished, so as to escape nihilism in just-being - and that state of just-being made pleasurable by using other beings for that pleasure.

So the answers to nihilism (in those sufficiently developed in consciousness to experience nihilism) include to join loving-creation on the one hand; and annihilation of consciousness (and the capacity for nihilism) on the other hand. 

To put it simply, God made creation so that there was a purpose and meaning in the midst of chaos (chaos entails nihilism); and creation is an opt-in cure for nihilism for those of us who want it.

Note: The above post is an edited and expanded version of a response to WmJas in a comment thread to an earlier post: https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2019/06/the-incoherent-insanity-of-having.html

Monday, 17 June 2019

My lame claim to fame - I'm featured in a Michael Crichton thriller

It's his 2006 novel Next - in which there is a page describing an article I wrote as an editorial for the journal I then edited: Medical Hypotheses.

(A couple of my friends were shocked by this when lying on the beach absorbed in their holiday reading...)

As a result, the idea was picked up and featured by the New York Times as one of their big ideas of that year. And, presumably, because of that - it has been featured in Wikipedia ever since.

I don't think much of the idea, myself. Not one of my best...

This is the text:

British Researcher Blames Formal Education - Professors, Scientists "Strikingly Immature"

If you believe the adults around you are acting like children, you're probably right. In technical terms, it is called "psychological neoteny," the persistence of childhood behavior into adulthood. And it's on the rise.

According to Dr. Bruce Charlton, evolutionary psychiatrist at Newcastle upon Tyne, human beings now take longer to reach mental maturity — and many never do so at all.

Charlton believes this is an accidental by-product of formal education that lasts well into the twenties. "Formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity," which "counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity" that would normally occur in the late teens or early twenties.

He notes that "academics, teachers, scientists and many other professionals are often strikingly immature." He calls them "unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact."

Earlier human societies, such as hunter-gatherers, were more stable and thus adulthood was attained in the teen years. Now, however, with rapid social change and less reliance on physical strength, maturity is more often postponed. He notes that markers of maturity such as graduation from college, marriage, and first child formerly occurred at fixed ages, but now may happen over a span of decades.

Thus, he says, "in an important psychological sense, some modern people never actually become adults."

Charlton thinks this may be adaptive. "A child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge" may be useful in navigating the increased instability of the modern world, he says, where people are more likely to change jobs, learn new skills, move to new places. But this comes at the cost of "short attention span, frenetic novelty- seeking, ever shorter cycles of arbitrary fashion, and... a pervasive emotional and spiritual shallowness." He added that modern people "lack a profundity of character which seemed commoner in the past."

This Romantic era and the end of all groups...

Rudolf Steiner prophecied that there would be a second coming of Christ 'in the etheric' from about 1933 - and somehow Anthroposophists still believe that this has actually happened; despite that the 'evidence' for this event includes the coming to power of National Socialism in Germany!

And since the hippies of the middle 1960s, there has been a constant undercurrent with waves of belief in a happening and incipient New Age of the spirit, of enhanced consciousness. The term New Age itself became popular in the 1980s with much activity related to neo-shamanism, neo-paganism etc.; and in the late 90s the coming millenium led to another crest of expectation. Then there was another surge of excitement related to the Mayan Calendar ending on the winter solstice of December 2012.

There is currently, I think, another post 2016 resurgence of belief that there is an awakening of Western Man, a mass seeing-through of the lies and propaganda of the Illuminati - this supposedly signalled by a increased populism and higher profile (including banning) of people like David Icke, Julian Assange and Alex Jones specifically, alternative/ 'conspiracy' theories of politics and society more generally. Many apparently expect major positive spiritual and consciousness change - and soon.

What fascinates me is not so much the expectation, but how - time after time - people can become convinced that the New Age is actually happening.

People who claim that there are more people haveing more spiritual experiences (more visions, more miracles, more paranormal events...); that there is a massive change enhancement of spiritual interests - a shift away from materialism, consumerism, the mainstream. That people are becoming more idealistic, more elevated in consciousness and so on. Not just the hope of change, but a conviction that chnage is already ongoing and afoot.

I have heard such things claimed by hundreds of people, spread over many decades; and flying in the face of very obvious, massive and relentless (albeit stepwise and incremental) increases in materialism, consumerism, politicisation, bureaucracy, progressive narrowing of minds and public discourse; increases in surveillance, propaganda advertising, micro-social control. 

How does this happen? How can people believe the opposite of what is obvious in the face of what one would suppose to be contrary evidence?  If the burning of the Reichstag really counts as evidence for the second coming of Christ (as I have heard several eminent Anthroposophists claim), then surely anything can prove anything!

My feeling is that it is to do with the way that groups work on the individual - and the way that  individuals have usually known truth. The New Age types of spirituality are strongly associated with 'group work' of various kinds, and I think it is the 'psychodynamics' of groups that explain the sense of objective spiritual progress that comes to grip so many minds so strongly.

A small intense group can, it seems, come to believe and validate almost anything. The groups have experiences together - whether that be visions, mediumship, channeling. or experiences in relation to UFOs, megaliths or crop circles; and the process by which knowledge and emotions reflect back-and-forth within the group, combined with relations of authority and discipleship and emotional dependence and support, can create an experience of amplification and increase - that is felt as a generalised awakening in The World.

On top of this the expansion of mass media and bureaucracy has affected all forms of organisation - so that there are more books, materials and media generally on almost every topic - including all kinds of spirituality. Organisations that survive have (almost always) either become very intensely inter-personal (as described above) - or else have grown, combined, become professionalised, subsidised... become gripped by the perspective of management, public relations and propaganda (as can be seen from web pages and brochures).

So that it becomes normal within nearly-all groups to perceive that things are moving in the desired direction. After all, that is what people in groups tell each other, and to be a group-member that must be believed.  

This is another reason why I think that this Romantic era implies the end of all groups except for the family, marriage and close friendships (usually dyadic). In sum; I have come to believe that all other forms of human groups have become agents for creating and sustaining delusions.

The New Age delusion, in its various forms, is just one of many such. And the way-out is for each individual to take full responsibility for his own assumptions, love, faith, beliefs and hopes; and adhere strongly only to those personally affirmed by direct intuition.

In this sense, we are On Our Own - but of course, we are never truly on our own, and that is the other side of this Romantic era; we are in society with the divine, the dead and all those whom we love. And it is the reality of that relational experience which makes possible the radical autonomy that is being compelled upon us.

The incoherent insanity of having forgotten God

Solzhenitsyn famously, and accurately, stated that the root of the problem of our time and culture is that Men Have Forgotten God. This is just a fact - but when Men have indeed forgotten God, then that fact is invisible to them, because their thinking has become incoherent as a consequence.

I know this from both side, because I was an atheist from most of my life; and I know that my thinking was intractably incoherent. I even knew it at the time. Being an honest person, my life was a sequence of attempts to find some kind of basis for morality, art and science - and the sequential discovery that I could not find any such basis.

Socialism, liberalism (social democracy), environmentalism, Small-is-Beautiful distributism, anarchism, conservatism, libertarianism, pragmatism - trying to be apolitical... I was interested by many (non-God) spiritualities at different times. I was sometimes Establishment, other times bohemian. I kept seeking and changing, because - when pushed - nothing made any sense. 

My profoundest intuitions were therefore in continual danger of erosion - because if one's fundamental convictions are false and incoherent, then one becomes a victim of circumstance, and convictions can drift open-endedly - in practice, nearly always in the direction of mainstream social norms; because - why not?

Because Men have forgotten God - are all sorts of incoherent nonsense has become mainstream - and what is mainstream has become mandatory - because why not? Indeed nearly everything pushed by the mass media, politics, the bureaucracy, the churches and charities is not so much wrong as incoherent nonsense.

What can people who have forgotten God do when incoherent nonsense (e.g. feminism, antiracism, multiculturalism) is pushed at them, when they can make no sense of the world and of their lives? When self-contradiction is built-into law and enforced by employers.

When every organisation and institution, everywhere, is corrupting and collapsing; but collapse and corruption is celebrated as a A Good Thing. Destruction and chaos are relabelled creative diversity - because when God is forgotten there is no difference.

Without God there is no purpose, without purpose there is no meaning - so obviously nothing makes sense; obviously nothing ever can make sense.

Yet, as children of God, we cannot help but look for purpose and meaning - we cannot help seeking, but by denying God we have ensured in advance that our search will certainly be fruitless. Any truth, beauty, moral conviction; any meaning or purpose we think we have found in one place - will certainly be contradicted by those we find in other places - because there is nothing to hold it all together.

Modern Man - each and individually, has chosen to assume that God is not and never was, so all is mechanical; and it has both made him mad and unable to detect his own madness.

Every individual is equipped with what he needs to know God, discern purpose and find meaning in Life. When he does not do this, but instead bases his existence upon a denial of coherence, then he has only himself to blame.

Modern Man - one at a time, person by person, each in his freedom and responsibility - is insisting that life is nonsense; and finds confirmation of this assumption everywhere he looks and whatever happens.

If insane incoherent nonsense is what Modern Man wants, that is exactly what he will get. 

Note - What we have is insane incoherent nonsense. Nonsense can be coherent - like the world of Lewis Carroll; insanity can be coherent - with systematic delusions; incoherence can be sane - like that of the unintelligent and uninformed. We have them all together and at once. Because without God - why not? 

Further note: I think that a big problem among modern people is that they expect nihilism passively to be 'solved for them', without activity on their part, without decision, without choice, without the exercise of free agency. Indeed, for modern Man it is a measure of authenticity when life irresisitibly imposes itself upon us - whether we like it or not. But, for modern man - with his high level of self-awareness - that rules-out any answer; thus the path of attempting to extinguish consciousness by numbing with distractions or immersion in virtual reality media; or intoxication with drugs/ sex and other overpowering stimuli. 

How truth is both objective and subjective

Yesterday I described how men and women characteristically - but in different ways - tend to regard Truth in a passive and materialist sense, as being That Which Overwhelms. Men by the overwhelming of imposing force, women by the overwhelming of social (especially peer group) consensus.

But that is, of course, potentially to leave out the spiritual aspect of life - the divine aspect; since the overwhelming is mostly (women especially, but nearly always men too) done by 'other people'.

And so we have these 'operational definitions' of truth that are, in practice, very 'relativistic' - in the sense that if lots of people, or just a few powerful/ high status people, decide something - then we are naturally - at a materialist level - inclined passively to accept it as true.

As I say, this is truth as 'that which overwhelms'; such a truth 'comes from outside' each us us - we are 'victims' of truth. If that was all-there-is top truth (in practice) then there could be no truth - because consensus isn't truth, power isn't truth...

If there is to be truth at all - and if that truth is to be something we personally endorse, rather than being compelled to submit-to; then there must be a higher truth that is not psychological but objective; and active, not passive. Because if truth is merely the external coercing, and our-selves submitting - then it would not be something that we personally would want. We would be merely slaves to truth.

(Obviously!) on the other hand, truth can't be something we make-up for ourselves - as a kind of wishful thinking.

Yet for most people these are the only choices - truth is either seen as that which is imposed (which in practice is usually 'other people'), or whatever-I-say (which is truth-as-delusion, since truth is private and unique).

In sum - these are demonic views of truth - with the choice being submission or pride, a hierarchy of coercion - we submit to the truths of those more powerful, and impose our own truth upon those whom we can dominate: i.e. the hierarchy of Hell.

This is another argument for the Goodness of Final Participation. That the truth that is Good, the truth which Saves, the truth which brings us towards being ourselves gods in harmony with the purposes of God - all these are the truth of Participation. They are voluntary truths in the sense that the truth is God's creation, we choose to endorse the purpose and nature of that creation, and because of love we joining our-selves to that ongoing work of creation.

So truth is not compelled but chosen - hence subjective; and truth is also objective and not just a figment of my mind, but has universality. And truth is mine, because I contribute to it; and truth is for anybody else who also chooses the heavenly life of collaborating in the work of creation.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Venom (2018) - The inverted world of professional movie reviewers

I watch several movies a week on tv with the family - mostly kids' movies, superheroes and scifi; and (like so much else) movie reviews are a microcosm of 'what's wrong' with our society.

I seldom read the reviews when the film comes-out, but generally check them after I've seen it for myself; and have found a reliable pattern of inversion. In other words, the professional critics, writing for the mainstream media - with pretty high consistency, give positive reviews to bad movies, and damning reviews to good movies.

This fits the pattern throughout the mass media which I noted in my Addicted to Distraction book: the mass media present bad as good and good as bad; except when they praise a good thing for a bad reason, or damn a bad thing for a bad reason.

Movie critics objectively display two characteristics - the first is moral inversion, the second is servile obedience; so that reviewers all evaluate in lockstep, revealing that their 'opinions' are dictated - and these opinions are all anti-Good (anti-God, anti-Christian, pro-sexual revolution, pro-totalitarian). They are also incompetent at a very basic level - incapable of evaluating scriptwriting, directing, acting, editing and the other aspects of movie making.

All of which is exactly what would be expected from the products of modern mainstream bureaucracies.

The most recent example was the superhero movie Venom (2018) which was panned by the critics, and received the very low rating of 29% (from about 300 critics) on Rotten Tomatoes aggregator. Meanwhile the audience rating on the same site is 81% approval from over 30,000 reviewers, which gets it exactly right. The critics are wrong, as usual; Venom is a clearly above average - but not all time great - movie.

Venom was an unusual, and satisfying, movie experience. Unusually, it began slowly and built up to end very well - and it was the right length. (So many movies start well but end poorly, and are overlong - because edited sub-optimally.) The protagonist acting from Tom Hardy was very good. And there was significant, and rather inspiring, character development from not just the hero, but the alien parasite - that caught me by surprise!

The macrocosm can be seen in the microcosm - to know the essence of what is happening in the secret enclaves of the evil global establishment, we only need to watch a movie then read the reviews.

Remember the Matrix! - an idea for encouraging primary thinking

I quite often find myself stuck in a low level of consciousness. Striving against this, attempting to raise my superficial, passive thinking towards Primary Thinking is ineffective. Not just ineffective but also frustrating and despair-inducing.

It is indeed a classic example of the error of trying to use will-power to 'take heaven by storm' (as if God did not want the best for us) - or the old error of trying lift oneself by pulling on the bootlaces.

Last week I wrote of the helpfulness of some passages by Rudolf Steiner in which he talked of 'reading between the lines of life' - and that this was the place to look for, and find, the divine. My post triggered a beautifully-written and well-expressed response from SK Orr on the Steeple Tea blog.

So, what I need is a reminder - something to put my mind onto the right track; and a thought that the phrase Remember the Matrix might suffice.

This phrase appeals because it puns on the movie 'The Matrix' - but the meaning of matrix here is that within-which something is developed and grows. Thus the word 'matrix' derives from womb - and this fits with the hunter gatherer idea of nature as a nurturing mother.

So, it is my intention to remember the matrix, to recall to mind the background of life that sustains us and enables everything; the primary reality of a world in which nearly everything 'works' most of the time - without which the bad stuff could not happen, because there would be nothing for it to happen-to...

In the beginning - what were we (you and I)?

There was no beginning in time - because all Beings are eternal, including you and me. There is no time at which we were not.

What are Beings? Beings are uncaused causes, origins of action - not merely consequences.

And all Beings are self-sustaining and indestructible; beings develop, they transform - but they never began, they always were; and they never end.

So, there is no primordial self, no irreducible minimum to which has been added. Rather, when we became children of God, our Heavenly Parents; that was A beginning - the beginning of us as Persons.

However, it was not The beginning - we existed, and always had existed, before we became children of God. And that is (in a sense) why we can be free, why we are agents. We develop and change through time, but we have no beginning, we are defined by lineage - we always were.

That is who we are.

Men and women have different operational definitions of reality - more on the dyadic relationship

For men, reality is loyalty; it is that to which we are loyal; and men's loyalty goes to that which they can depend-upon - to that which is solid. And solidity is seen in terms of ability to dominate - to dominate others, to dominate the situation - to impose-itself upon things. So - for men, truth is that which dominates.

For women, reality is derived from interaction with others (especially other women, but people generally). Reality comes, therefore, from that in the woman that is reflected by others - that from other women that is reflected in herself. The validation is in emotional support - that which sustains her. So - for women, truth is that which sustains.

Both dominating truth and sustaining truth capture an important 'half' of reality. Both are partial, both are prone to error, manipulation and abuse. The two together, not fused but separate and complementary, are a microcosm of reality in its wholeness. And that is not one-sided but rather a simplified (because finite) completeness. So the dyad is stronger than either alone; the dyad of a man and a woman is, potentially, the complete Man.  

Effort and forcing are inappropriate, counterproductive, in the spiritual life

On the one hand, if we do nothing - then nothing will happen.

But it is abundantly clear that to make the spiritual life and act of 'will power' is ineffective at best or disaster and self-damnation at worst - essentially because (absent the proper spirit, whose absence makes the spiritual quest necessary in the first place...) that entity which wills-with-power, can only be a false personality, and not the real self. Will power can only dig us deeper into our delusions.

In his booklet The Hologram and Mind, from about 1990, William Arkle wrote (this is edited from the full account at the link):

We can imagine that the synthesis of question and reply happens through a method which is as subtly as the genius of mind is subtle. And yet, the two processes of question and answer are clear and distinct. 

The ability to pose a good problem or ask a good question is as much a part of the genius as that which is liable to bring forth a good response. 

The attitude of trust on the part of the questioner is also an integral part of the value of the reply. The fact that effort and force is alien to the correct working of this creative synthesis is apparent in the realisation that the' reference beam' of the hologram of mind (which corresponds to the nature of God) is only too glad to give of its best to the 'working beam' (which corresponds to our our true self). 

God does not need to be either forced or even coaxed. Pressure of this sort is almost equivalent to rape, and simply shows that the individual has not reached the level of evolution of consciousness which knows how to behave with proper respect. 

Such an immature person has not realised that force is distorting the question being asked, and preconditioning the answer.

My interpretation:  This is about as strong language as Arkle ever uses, when he compares to attempted-rape the use of effort, force, coaxing in relation to asking God (our Heavenly Parents) for answers. Since God loves us, since we are God's children - there is no good reason for such an attitude.

God is only too glad to give of his best to each of his children; and to strive and strain to compel God's help can only come from a misunderstanding, a false understanding, an inversion of God's relation to us.

So we ought not to strive and strain - what then? I would say to 'remember' - as when William Wildblood, in his recent book, reminds us to Remember the Creator. The spiritual life is mostly a matter of remembering.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

How can a genius of Romantic Christianity affect society more widely?

This question arises when comparing the 'impact' of Rudolf Steiner - who founded an international society and movement; and William Arkle, who died known only to a 'handful' of people and remains almost wholly obscure.

In general, the most valuable kind of genius is one who dicovers something 'simple'; that is, something that was difficult to discover (because, in fact, it was Not discovered until the genius did it) but, once discovered, easy to learn.

This can be seen by technologies such as the bow and arrow, wheel or arch, whose origins are unknown, were absent from many (or all) ancient cultures, and were (I believe we can infer) discovered by specific persons (i.e. geniuses) in particular times and places.

More recent examples would include the technologies of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, which were adopted quickly and widely - oince the intellectual heavy lifting had been done by specific geniuses (who often gained nothing personally from the inventions)

Rudolf Steiner was a genius of Romantic Christianity; but he made many serious strategic errors; and in the end embedded his major (and simple) discoveries in a vast structure of mostly-dubious factual-assertion; which formed the (infallible) scriptures of a bureaucractic Anthroposophical Society; housed in a grandiose headquarters of concrete (in both senses) buildings; engaged in all sorts of formal/ procedural/ bureaucratic institutional activities relating to education, medicine, agriculture, the arts etc.

In sum, Steiner attempted to 'impose' his esoteric message on the world via an organisation, by a stepwise process, that is - by a kind of compulsion - and this is an internally-contradictory, hence ineffectual, strategy.

The outcome is that it is very hard to find the core spirit of Steiner anywhere in the world; except among a handful of individuals who are essentially outside of the Society and institutional structures (and even these Steinerites usually remain captivated by the Ahrimanic distortions of their Master, rather than discarding them).

In sum, that of Steiner which we can perceive is merely the distortion. 

By contrast, except for a few disciples (who have not, apparently, made public their thoughts) anyone who has come to share Arkle's ideas must re-experience them for himself.

In other words, insofar as he has affected people, Arkle can only have influenced other people via imperceptible esoteric and direct spiritual routes. One who would share Arkle's thinking, needs to do so on the 'plane' of ultimate and universal reality - since their is neither System nor Institutions to 'educate' him. 

The question is whether the existence and effect of such esoteric and direct ways of sharing are really-real (or just wishful thinking).

It strikes me that William Arkle, especially in his pictures and his 'simple' prose pieces - such as Letter from a Father, Equations of Being and the Late Prose items - made some very simple spiritual discoveries that therefore could be learned rapidly and applied very widely.

Arkle's core insight is that we can come directly and by experience to know the detailed and personal love of God the Creator for ourselves; which will give us a great confidence and faith in our own lives.

And the fact that we are God's children means that we have a share of his divinity, and this will guide us through - enable us to learn from - all possible experiences that our life brings us.

The point is that all this is knowable for ourselves, once we know about it. It is effective, if we genuinely believe it is true. The insight is very simple, and our life can be very simple.

Of course, in works like A Geography of Consciousness or Hologram and Mind; Arkle also produced works with a great deal of complexity, involving metaphors drawn from physics and engineering.

The underlying message remains simple, and I think these complex works were produced as a form of persuasive rhetoric in response to the typical kinds of questioning of modern intellectuals, who are unable to take-seriously or to believe the truth of anything that is simple and obvious.

These works of Arkles function mostly like the mathematical 'working' done to convince a skeptic, when the actual result may be simple; they provide models or analogies of spiritual truths that strike us as childishly obvious; and by that hope to get past the 'watchful dragons' of the modern skeptical intellect (based upon deep and denied reductionist assumptions and dishonest arguments).

It would seem to me that Arkle 'must have' had a considerable influence on The World; since someone of his spiritual quality could not help but have done so! But not, of course, by the normal, perceptible, means of 'communication'.

Instead, I regard the creative insights of Arkle as having made a permanent addition to the primary thought-world that is the basis of divine creation. Anyone who engages in primary thinking, who has direct intuition, may therefore encounter Arkle's insights for themselves and without ever having heard of Arkle.

As a genius, Arkle was able to think some things for the first time; but now they have been-thought - and these thoughts are available to 'everybody' who would not have had the genius to create them anew from scratch.

Since Love is primary and a part of creation; I would further emphasise that the 'spead' of Arkle's ideas depends upon love. The 'range of effect' is therefore set by the scope of Arkle's love, and the difference made will be initially in realtion to that scope.

For example, when Arkle painted something with love that embodied his genius insights, those things will have been strengthened and sustained by that love - in an objective fashion: they will have been 'Romanticised' in an objective and universal sense. A better known example would be Walter Scott or Wordsworth, who permanently transformed the power of The Scottish Borders and the Lake District (and similar landscapes) to inspire and elevate us - even for those who have never read either.

I am suggesting that - as an example, but much more widely - the Scottish Border and the Lake Distict were objectively changed by Scott and Wordsworth - we who lovingly-experience them now, do so in a way that is qualitatively different from the way such landscapes were experienced 300 years ago - and indeed we cannot recover the way they used to be regarded. And later on Tolkien further modified our experience of landscapes.

The new experience is unlocked by shared love.

This can be explained (to use the terminology of Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom) in terms of the concepts we use to interpret the raw perceptual data and memories of these places - our concepts are, when they are true, drawn from the universal, impersonal store of divine creation - and this store has been modified by the 'final participation' of human geniuses.

This, then, (as a general mechanism) is the main way in which a spiritual genius like Steiner or Arkle affects the world; not by their communications, and certainly not by institutional transmission - but by participating-in, and permanently transforming, the ongoing nature of divine creation - henceforth available to all that are attuned to it. 

How should we relate to 'spiritual beings'?

Since I believe that the world is ultimately composed of Beings in Relationships; and that creation is held-together by Love - how should we, personally, relate to such Beings?

Our task, in this Romantic era of human development, is to become conscious of that which is unconscious - therefore the other Beings of created reality.

This means, becoming aware of the direct knowledge of reality, that is already in our thinking

We are in a position of un-consciously knowing by direct intuition (because we are each a part-of reality, and began by being passively immersed-in reality) but failing/ refusing to:

1. Make this implicit intuited knowledge conscious
2. Recognise the validity - the truth - of this intuited knowledge

We need therefore to learn (consciously) what we already know (unconsciously) and to know that it is true.

Thereby we re-establish contact with reality (such as we all had in our earlier development, as young children - and such as mankind had in earlier and 'tribal' forms of society) - but our thinking remains free, conscious - hence divine in quality.

We need to overcome our prejudice, as moderns or as traditionalists, that 'truth is compelled', that truth is enforced upon us - and especially by that which we perceive (by 'facts', by 'evidence'). But that is a child's understanding of truth, and that is to be a passive servant of truth.

Our destiny (should we choose to accept it) is to develop the same (divine) quality of thinking as God, en route to becoming a grown-up participant in creation: this quality of thinking is conscious and free, because to be free and actively-participative (not passive) it must be conscious.

So - how should we hope to relate to spiritual beings?  

Not by 'communication', not by something like seeing and hearing and conversing - because that would be to return to the passive state of child-like perceptual dependence.

(And, in fact, such 'visionary' experiences are anyway difficult/ impossible for many modern people without some degree of impaired consciousness - illness, exhaustion, drugs etc. And then the need for cognitive impairment casts doubt on the reality and validity of visions...)

We relate to spiritual beings as we should relate to the world as a whole; by becoming aware of what is already unconsciously present in our thinking, and by recognising the metaphysical validity of the resulting awareness.

The process is indeed self-validating - if we allow it to be.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Married relationships - Patriarchy, Feminism or Dyadic (the Mormon experience)

Yesterday I was re-reading this-blog commenter 'Lucinda's excellent 2015 article from the Mormon Blog - Millenial Star. I certainly agree with the substance of what Lucinda says, but I noticed that there was a 'hang-up' in the comments about nomenclature.

For example, disputes about about the 'real meaning of Patriarchy; or (elsewhere) I have seem 'complementary' used as a synonym for 'de facto feminism'. I don't intend to quibble over this - but will make my meaning of these and other terms clear, as we proceed.

My general stance is that there was a long history of Patriarchy in human society, but around about 1800 there was a change in Western human consciousness (or human instincts) concerning the ideal way that men and women ought to relate - particularly in marriage.

This was a part of the Romantic movement in thought - and I regard Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints (beginning with the production of the Book of Mormon and the formation of what became the CJCLDS in 1830) as part of this Romantic movement.

My belief is that this Romantic movement in thought ought to have led to a new kind of dyadic (or complementary - in the original sense of that word) relationship between men and women. Mormonism bases this upon the solid metaphysical assumption that men and women are incomplete parts of the 'whole' human being; and that the divine ideal of the complete (i.e. fully divine) Man is a 'celestial' (i.e. dyadic and eternal) marriage of a man and woman.

This divine idea, then, ought to be reflected in our earthly ideals. However this has not yet happened.

In mainstream secular Western culture, we have instead had materialistic feminism; which is an incoherent, Leftist (hence destructive, evil motivated) perversion of the truth of the underlying spiritual ideal. Yes, we had the impulse for a New relation between men and women; but No - not feminism - which foments perpetual resentment and (even pragmatically) simply does not work. So not feminism - then what?  

What of Mormonism? My interpretation is that Mormonism was diverted by adverse circumstances first briefly into polygamy under Joseph Smith (multiple spiritual, not physical, spouses for men and women - intended to bind the Saints into a single extended family); then (under Brigham Young) into several decades of Patriarchal polygyny (plural wives for the senior Mormons) - and from about 1900 the current pattern of an ideal of eternal monogamy.

Current Mormonism is regarded as highly 'Patriarchal' by comparison with current secular norms; especially because only men are priests and there is an ideal of men as leading the household and women being mothers and homemakers. But spiritually there is a strong element of dyadic complementarity to Mormonism, which is evident by comparison with Conservative Evangelicals.

And ultimately this is related to the Evangelical concept of God as a man; while the Mormon God is a Heavenly Father and Mother. But the womens' role in the CJCLDS has always been much more important than in traditionalist mainstream Christian churches; with the Mormon Relief Society a very early feature, and a full range of 'parallel' women's organisations (and significant local, national and international positions of responsibility) within the church.

Thus, the true underlying position of Mormonism is that men and women are complementary 'partners' in their marriage. When this is made into a regulatory generalisation, into official guidance, it comes-out very much like Patriarchy; since on-average this broadly reflects the situation for the majority of men and women.  If we must have 'laws' then these must be 'patriarchal' - because the feminist alternative is much worse.

But in an ideal situation, the dyad of earthly spouses would be able mutually to find their own, perhaps unique, complementary compatibility; based on their own specific natures and dispositions, and the way that an individual marriage evolves over time - with age, with fortune, how many children or their absence, with diseases and disasters etc.

In this sense, all solid and lasting marriages on earth must sometimes be complementary, when circumstances dictate; but for the Romantic view of men and women this is the ideal, not just a regrettable necessity. 

Dyadic marriage, with each man and woman forging a flexible and complementary, permanent and committed, relationship, is - I believe - the proper and truly Romantic ideal for modern men and women; on earth as we hope it shall be in Heaven.

More ancient archaeology from Northumberland - the Duddo Stone Circle

 Duddo stones under perfect conditions, beautifully photographed - but not by me...

An account, and pictures, of my own experience can be found at Exploring Ancient Archaeology in Northumbria.

That shattered tower - Smailholm

Rain on the lens is the guarantor of authenticity...

I recently had a very enjoyable visit to Smailholm Tower, near to Kelso in the borders of Scotland. This is one of the finest remaining Pele (or Peel) Towers which are scattered across the borderlands and beyond (there are several within a few miles of Newcastle upon Tyne; and we are about 60 miles from the Scottish border).

Peles are essentially miniature castles, and the best defense against raiders during the era of the Border Reivers (lasting for a few hundred years up to the early 1600s). Smailholm was the 'ultimate' pele - verging on a castle; in that it had a superb vantage point atop a rocky outcrop, and a solid outer wall enclosing a 'barmkin' containing a feasting hall and some other buildings.

Whereas I get the impression that most peles were simply meant to be an overnight shelter against small, mounted raiding parties until help from the rest of the surname (clan) arrived in response to a signal fire. A solid oak door might protect the cattle etc. below, and access to upper levels only by a ladder and trapdoor above the beasts. Indeed, peles merge-into the lesser 'bastles' which are fortified houses, with a raised, defensible door up some external stairs (again, the animals were kept below).

A bastle (rems of...)

Anyway, it was well worth a visit (thanks also to the informed enthusiasm of the manager, Paul), and contained much more than we had expected. The displays (concerning the Reivers, Border Ballads, and Walter Scott) were illustrated by crafted dolls, which I found surprisingly effective.

 Depicting the chilling Border Ballad of the Fours Marys - handmaidens of Mary Queen of Scots

Smailholm was once well known from a passage in Walter Scott's Marmion, referring to a period of his childhood when he was convalescing in a nearby village, and how the tower stimulated his imagination. 

And still I thought that shattered tower
The mightiest work of human power;
And marvelled as the aged hind
With some strange tale bewitched my mind,
Of forayers, who, with headlong force,
Down from that strength had spurred their horse,
Their southern rapine to renew,
Far in the distant Cheviots blue,
And, home returning, filled the hall
With revel, wassail-rout, and brawl.

Methought that still, with trump and clang,
The gateway's broken arches rang;
Methought grim features, seamed with scars,
Glared through the window's rusty bars,
And ever, by the winter hearth,
Old tales I heard of woe or mirth,
Of lovers' slights, of ladies' charms,
Of witches' spells, of warriors' arms;
Of patriot battles, won of old
By Wallace wight and Bruce the bold;
Of later fields of feud and fight,
When, pouring from their Highland height,
The Scottish clans, in headlong sway,
Had swept the scarlet ranks away.

While stretched at length upon the floor,
Again I fought each combat o'er,
Pebbles and shells, in order laid,
The mimic ranks of war displayed;
And onward still the Scottish Lion bore,
And still the scattered Southron fled before.

From Marmion by Walter Scott

Thursday, 13 June 2019

The West cannot be saved, because it wants to die; but persons can be saved, and their lives transformed into joy

The West cannot be saved, because it is secular. And because The West has no religion, there is essentially nothing to save.

The West has no essence, is merely contingent - just a time-slice through an always-changing, self-subverting, and continually-inverted aggregation of attitudes, beliefs and practices. 

So culturally, the West is purposefully, strategically destroying itself - always, necessarily as a continuous process. 

And biologically The West is destroying itself: by choice the Western population have long since ceased to replace themselves; by strategy it is replacing its own population - and from existential terror (and deliberate wicked intent) this whole subject is taboo, denied, lied-about. 

The West is not even trying to save itself; indeed The West has self-destruction built-in, woven-in, pervasive. After all, how can you save something which so much wants to kill itself? Something which regards every effort to keep it alive as an aggressive act of torture

Take your eye off Western Civilization for just a moment and it will be swinging from the rafters with its own belt around its neck...

So long as The West has no religion, it cannot be saved; and there is only one possible religion for The West: Christianity. A Christian revival is the only hope. 

But there is no sign of this happening - all the large mainstream self-identified Christian denominations are primarily secular, hence are well down the path of killing themselves (where they are not already long-since dead).
Only (real) Christians can perceive this clearly; so what should Christians do? 

The choice is either a greater focus on politics and policies, on laws and society, on constitutions and systems... As our numbers and power ever-diminish, to argue harder and harder to reverse the juggernaut of secularism who have near-zero interest and knowledge of Christianity, but ever greater hostility towards what they suppose it to be?...

Or to switch attention away from politics altogether - to ignore the adverse oceanic tides of mass secular movements, and the corruption and dishonesty of most churches leaders, and instead to focus attention on bringing the message to persons, one individual at a time?

To be always fighting-against (and net losing), or to be positive for (and sometimes winning)?     

If we focus on the big picture - then being a Christian in The West is to be a miserable failure; but, if we focus on the person, then to be a Christian is to experience a deep and mostly hidden well-spring of courage, love, hope, meaning, purpose, belonging - secretly to be gloriously happy despite whatever happens on the surface.

It is impossible to exaggerate the difference that this makes to me, and to every Christian; it is an almost exact inversion of what it was not to be a Christian - when every pleasure was potentially available, nothing was forbidden - but never hope, never happiness.

The secular modern is afraid to probe too deeply, because he is sure there is nothing underneath - all is surface. He is afraid to look ahead, because he has decided that will be nothing there. To him, all human lives are failures because they end in decline, suffering, and death - biography is tragedy (either unfulfilled promise or the disappointment of all desire).

His strongest principles are without foundations - and therefore will almost certainly be discarded when they become inexpedient, or even if they are not discarded then this will be an arbitrary gesture. His most profound yearnings can only be fulfilled in imagination - which is to say they will not be fulfilled, and are delusions.

He sees Christians as torturers because they talk of eternal life, and of the disciplined and constrained path which leads to it - and for modern man that means snatching away the pleasures which are all that make life bearable, and the hope of extinction which is all that makes life endurable.

For such a man, life equals 'existence'; eternal life equals eternal torment.

As Christians, we may be able to save someone, or more than one person, from this horrible existence; and the benefits are not deferred, not only after life and in eternity - but immediate, in this life, here and now and straight away.

Our resources are finite, our effort and enthusiasm requires realistic grounds for optimism. Therefore, let's stop monitoring and trying to turn-back the civilisational tsunami of secular nihilism - but ourselves drowning in pessimism.

And instead adopt the positive, optimistic, realistic goal of saving a few people: saving them into invincible joy.

Reposted and edited from December 28th 2014

“Like and equal are not the same thing at all.” Actually, they Are the same - and that's the problem...

“Like and equal are not the same thing at all.” ― Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time (1961).

I've just finished reading (i.e. listening-to-the-audiobook-of) A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle; which is a US classic of children's fantasy, but which I never really heard of until fairly recently.

It is certainly a worthwhile book, with several very effective and enjoyable parts - although I found that, overall; it lost narrative pull as the book went on (it seemed to have too much explanatory exposition), it did not end fully-satisfyingly; and therefore I would not (at first reading) regard it as first-rate (not - for me - in the same class as The Hobbit, Narnia, Wind in the Willows etc.).

But an aspect that I much liked was the explicitly Christian and mystical element to the book; its presentation of Life as a spiritual conflict, its making of a loving (esoteric and eccentric) family into the main agent for Good.

However, the title phase “Like and equal are not the same thing at all.” jumped-out at me as a false statement, and representative of a belief that has (over the past fifty-plus years) been very wholly destructive of The West.

Perhaps naturally, this became one of the best known, most quoted, phrases from the novel.

For totalitarians, communists, socialists and nowadays the politically correct and Social justice Warriors; for things to be Equal' they must be The Same; so - since we (supposedly) favour Equality - then society must become homogeneous, which means totalitarian (since sameness requires an all powerful authority to enforce it).

'Eqaulity has been, for serious Christians, a Trojan Horse; a smuggled-in deception, later deployed to attack (and substantially destroy) the citadel of the faith - indeed equality has replaced Christianity in the mainstream churches. 

Wrinkle in Time (in characteristically modern, particularly American, fashion) tries to oppose this by drawing a distinction between 'eqality' which is good (e.g. because the US declaration of independence, quoted prominently and approvingly in the novel, says "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."); and on the other hand likeness, alikeness, sameness - which are bad.

But we should recognise that all attempts to distinguish an ethic of equality from sameness will fail; do fail, have failed. 

So, the result is that all attempts systematically to promote equality, as an over-arching ethic, end-up by promoting sameness, and justifying totalitarianism - which is intriniscally evil.

If enforced sameness is an evil, then so is equality. 

Monday, 10 June 2019

Upwardly-mobile Gamgees: Notes on gentlehobbits and commoners...

 Sam and Rosie apparently remain common folk, but some of their children marry into the Hobbit aristocracy

Over at the Notion Club Papers blog

Sunday, 9 June 2019

"Reading between the lines" of Life: Detecting the spiritual in personal life

Rudolf Steiner has some deeply suggestive things to say about this matter; in which he subtly asserts that the spiritual in life is to be found in exactly those aspects that are taken for granted - the backdrop of 'normal', everyday assumptions and experiences of things going well, not collapsing or exploding.

In a different way, he is making the same recognition that I came to in respect to the science of biology; when I realised that there 'must be' a vast positive, creative, purposive background in order that biology be possible.

This seems extremely difficult to describe with any precision; perhaps because it is the ocean in which we dwell; but it goes far beyond any specific instances (such as synchronicity) to notice that there are innumerable things that must 'go right' at every moment of every day; if The Whole Thing is not simply to collapse into chaos.

We should not really take for granted all the ways in which we don't die, and continue to perform innumerable functions and fulfil innumerable tasks (like walking down the street from one end to the other!).

As I say, it is to big and all encompassing really to 'explain' in the same way that we can explain smaller and more specific instances. But here are some excerpts from a lecture by Steiner (GA 181 - Berlin,5th March, 1918 - excerpted as Lecture 9 here) which may be helpful.

...A man was accustomed to take a certain walk daily. One day, when he reached a certain spot, he had a feeling to go to the side and stand still, and the thought came to him whether it was right to waste time over this walk. At that moment a boulder which had split from the rock fell on the road and would certainly have struck him if he had not turned aside from the road on account of his thought.

This is one of the crude experiences we may encounter in life, but those of a more subtle kind daily press into our ordinary life, though as a rule we do not observe them; we only reckon with what actually does happen, not with what might have happened had it not been averted. We reckon with what happens when we are kept at home a quarter of an hour longer than we intended. Often and often, if we did but reflect, we should find that something worthy of remark happened, which would have been quite different if we had not been detained.

Try to observe systematically in your own life what might have happened had you not been delayed a few minutes by somebody coming in, though, perhaps, at the time, you were very angry at being detained. Things are constantly pressed into one's life which might have been very different according to their original intention. We seek a ‘causal connection,’ between events in life. We do not reflect upon life with that subtle refinement which would he in the consideration of the breaking of a probable chain of events, so that, I might say, an atmosphere of possibilities continually surrounds us.

If we give our attention to this, and have been delayed in doing something which we have been accustomed to do at mid-day, we shall have a feeling that what we do at that time is often — it may not always be so — not under the influence of foregoing occurrences only, but also under the influence of the countless things which have not happened, from which we have been held back. By thinking of what is possible in life — not only in the outer reality of sense — we are driven to the surmise that we are so placed in life that to look for the connection of what follows with what has gone before is a very one-sided way of looking at life. 

If we truly ask ourselves such questions, we rouse something which in our mind would otherwise lie dormant. We come, as it were, to ‘read between the lines’ of life; we come to know it in its many-sidedness. We come to see ourselves, so to speak, in our environment, and we see how it forms us and brings us forward little by little. This we usually observe far too little. At most, we only consider the inner driving forces that lead us from stage to stage. Let us take some simple ordinary instance from which we may gather how we only bring the outer into connection with our inner being, in a very fragmentary way.

Let us turn our attention to the way we usually realise our waking in the morning. At most, we acquire a very meagre idea of how we make ourselves get up; perhaps, even the concept of this is very nebulous. Let us, however, reflect for a while upon the thought which at times drives us out of bed; let us try to make this individual, quite clear and concrete. Thus: yesterday I got up because I heard the coffee being made ready in the next room; this aroused an impulse to get up; to-day something else occurred. That is, let us be quite clear, what was the outer impelling force. Man usually forgets to seek himself in the outer world, hence he finds himself so little there. Anyone who gives even a little attention to such a thought as this will easily develop that mood of which man has a holy — nay, an unholy — terror, — the realisation that there is an undercurrent of thought which does not enter the ordinary life.

A man enters a room, for instance or goes to some place, but he seldom asks himself how the place changes when he enters it. Other people have an idea of this at times, but even this notion of it from outside is not very widespread to-day. I do not know how many people have any perception of the fact that when a company is in a room, often one man is twice as strongly there as another; the one is strongly present, the other is weak. That depends on the imponderabilities. 

We may easily have the following experience: A man is at a meeting, he comes softly in, and glides out again; and one has the feeling that an angel has flitted in and out. Another's presence is so powerful that he is not only present with his two physical feet but, as it were, with all sorts of invisible feet. Others do not, as a rule, notice it, although it is quite perceptible; and the man himself does not notice it at all.

A man does not, as a rule, hear that ‘undertone’ which arises from the change called forth by his presence; he keeps to himself, he does not enquire of his surroundings what change his presence produces. He can, however, acquire an inkling, a perception of the echo of his presence in his surroundings. Just think how our outer lives would gain in intimacy if a man not only peopled the place with his presence but had the feeling of what was brought about by his being there, making his influence felt by the change he brings...

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Addiction is evil

There is a lot of addiction around - and I used the expression myself in the title of a book about the Mass Media.

Addiction could be defined as a psychological response to captivity, by which the captive ends-up desiring and serving that which holds him captive.

(Somewhat, although not exactly - and from a different cause, like Stockholm Syndrome among kidnap victims.)

Addiction is an actual evil, because it is a choice

An addict is not just dishonest about his basic situation; but because dishonest he actively endorses and advocates his dependence as a good. An addict is morally-inverted and a systematic liar.

As when a heroin junkie extols the benefits of the drug (there have been several example in literature), and organises his life around the drug, and his primary aim becomes enhancing the experience of fixes - this justifying dishonesty, theft, violence, prostitution, even murder. 

A real addict does not want to be free of his dependence. And it is this quality which I seem to see all around me in the modern West - it is indeed characteristic of the modern West.

The typical modern is truly addicted to the Mass Media and Social Media - his life is organised by and around these.  He does not want to be free of this dependence, but will justify and advocate his state. He will expend tremendous time, money and other resources to enhancing these experiences.

And media addiction exhibits the classic signs both of craving and escalating dosage.When temporarily prevented from using media, there is mounting agitation - and the user takes a fix as soon as possible - immediately after the restriction or prohibition has been lifted.

More broadly, modern Man has become addicted to mainstream modernity itself. Many examples could be picked - addiction to politics, bureaucracy, fashion, and of course - sex. Modernity is literally and extremely addicted to sex.

Not, mostly, to doing sex - but thinking about it. Sexual reference and stimulus, sexual identity and preference, sexual advertisement and craving is everywhere, almost all the time, and escalating - but instead of acknowledging their dependence, and wishing to be free from it; moderns embrace their state of dependence.

There is no such thing as neutrality on any significant issue in Life; and when something is not regarded as bad it will be regarded as good.

When dependence is not repented, it will be celebrated: it will become addiction, and thus a sin.

Materialist Nationalism - is Bad: Christian Nationism (i.e. Nation-ism) - is Good

A 1930s-ish Railway Poster of the Yorkshire Dales - illustrating a selection of British Light Music 
- both poster and this type of music have significant (residual) elements of Christian Nation-ism

The decisive problem of actually-existing political Nationalism - even in an ideal form - as a philosophy-of-life is that it entails a morality based upon a de facto assertion of the superiority-to-alternatives of a way-of-life; including that the likes of Theresa May as Prime Minister, Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, the UK military in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and major social institutions such as the BBC, the NHS and the legal system... need to be endorsed as being representative major facets of the current nation. 

This means that even when (as is the case) materialist Nationalism is a lesser evil than the EU/ Globalism, and when it is the best-available-alternative - it is Not Good Enough. This, simply because it is a type of the modern pathology of spiritual and Christian-denying materialism/ positivism/ reductionism.

(Materialist Nationalism is, in fact, merely a slightly moderated version of the exact anti-Christian, spirit-denying agenda of the evil of demonic Globalism.)

Christian Nationism (i.e.Nation-ism) could be a name for something altogether superior and Good.

Let's say that Christian Nationism expresses the reality of a mystical England of which each Englishman is mystically a member.

This means that the materialist manifestations of nation (such as Theresa May, the BBC and the NHS) can be recognised for what they are - anti-nationists, strategically opposed to and destructive of the spirit of Christian Nationism.

I would add that ultimately the Christian aspect of Christian Nationism needs to be a Romantic Christianity. Why? Because the materialist, institutional aspects of Christianity are very-fully corrupted and anti-national.

Therefore the Christianity of Nationism must be Romantic - that is to say based in, derived from, a personal, spiritual, intuitive knowledge of the reality and Christian destiny of the nation of England; this is something that each must feel and know for himself, not least because there is no solid, clear, unambiguous, external source from-which such values can be derived.