Wednesday 22 December 2010

2010: The year in review


2010 has been, even before it ends, an exceptionally eventful year in terms of my ideas and beliefs.


The major psychological events of 2010 were (roughly in order):

Getting to grips with the Byzantine Empire; as a strong, enduring, extremely devout, and positive Christian society. 

Discovering the works of Fr. Seraphim (Eugene) Rose. I have gone on to read most of what he wrote and the massive biography by Hieromonk Damascene.

Via Seraphim Rose, discovering Eastern Orthodox Christianity - in particular the key doctrine of theosis (without which Christianity does not fully make sense).

Reading Blaise Pascal's Pensees.

Revising my opinion of the state of Science from 'critical' to 'dying'.

Understanding that Western societies' capability to 'control nature' has been declining for some decades.

Getting to the bottom of political correctness (more or less) and recognizing that it is enormously more powerful and pervasive than I had previously realized; that it has much deeper roots; and is essentially irreversible from within mainstream Western society.


2010 feels like much more than a year in terms of psychological development.



dearieme said...

It occurred to me that this book review might interest you.

Rollory said...

"the Byzantine Empire; as a strong, enduring, extremely devout, and positive Christian society. "

Strong in what sense?

From my reading, I break down the course of the Eastern Empire into three phases: 300 years of losing ground to the Arabs, 300 years of recovering some lost ground, 300 years of losing the remaining ground to the Turks.

The 800-1100 period was (excluding Theodosius) the high point, and coincided with the decline and disunity of the Arab Caliphates. Whenever the Byzantines faced a unified Islamic enemy, they steadily lost. There was, from what I can see, a distinct lack of purpose over the long term - there was absolutely no equivalent to the Reconquista, which (in broad terms) started with Muslim armies in central France (and only a completely disorganized set of Frankish tribes opposing them) and ended with the fall of Granada, unified nation-states, and the great explosion of Western European civilization across the world. (It was the Spanish and Portuguese, who had been at the forefront of the generational struggle, who were then at the forefront of global exploration. I don't think this is an accident.)

Spiritual strength, if it can not translate into real world success - if, in fact, it translates into real world _weakness_, which seems to have been the case with the Byzantines, who got their reputation as canny diplomats precisely because they were unable to impose themselves militarily - is not something I consider of much use. The Russians might be a counterexample in terms of long-term purpose and achievement among the Orthodox, but the Russians and Byzantines are very different peoples.

And I still would point out that the French monarchy started circa 500 AD (earlier if you count it starting from Meroveus), lasting to 1789, with exactly two serious interruptions: the terminal ineffectiveness of the Carolingians, requiring the election by the Peers of a new dynast, Hugues Capet (and they chose so well practically every member of modern European royalty can trace their ancestry to him), and the Hundred Years War - in which the legitimacy of the French king was endangered only by force imposed by a foreign power - a power which was, in fact, attempting to impose a basically feminist rule; that women and men could be counted equally in terms of measuring descent and ruling ability. This monarchy built a nation and a people as strong and healthy and united as any you care to name. I count that as greater success over a longer term than what the Eastern Empire managed - which tended to be, to stem the tide of decline with greater or lesser effectiveness.

(Of course France is sadly diminished today - the 1600s were the high point, with the 1800s as Indian Summer - but even from the start, the best days of the Eastern Empire seem to have been behind it.)

Bruce Charlton said...