Friday 31 August 2012

Peer review makes modern science relativist, but not subjective


It is an interesting puzzle to follow through how 'modern science' (in contrast with the almost extinct real science) manages to pull off the trick of being relativist - fundamentally manipulable by politics, the media and business - and yet to the people working in it (who pretend to be scientists) the whole thing seems objective.

The actual content of modern science is therefore no more truthful, no more linked to reality, than the world of marketing (of which it is indeed an offshoot).


Modern science is not even trying to seek or speak the truth; its participants are docile careerist drudges - yet to the people involved, the fact that they cannot directly express their own personal wishes and opinions creates an illusion that therefore the outputs of science are objectively valid.

The mechanism by which this is achieved is peer review - this places a committee between the individual and his decision. Pretty much all decisions in science are now underwritten by a committee of 'experts'.

The 'expertise' of these experts is itself underwritten by committees of experts - and expertise is created by adherence to expert-validated educational, training and experiential certification.

Peer review is a closed-loop in which personal integrity and the desire to understand the world has no place - indeed these are excluded, since they conflict with the bottom line of committee decision-making.


Thus science has gone from being a web of individuals to a web of committees; while individuals may have integrity, committees cannot have integrity; while individuals may be honest and motivated by the wish to understand reality - committees are not.

But committees do create an illusion of objectivity; consensus feels-like discovery, until science no longer makes discoveries but announces the attainment of consensus.

It is very difficult indeed to understand reality in a useful way (science); it is much, much less difficult, but still surprisingly difficult, to manufacture and hold consensus.

But the constraints on consensus are essentially psychological, in other words subjective and therefore relativist.


The distance between individual subjectivity and the output of committees is the distance which convinces the modern scientist that what he is doing is not 'merely' subjective - however, in fact, it is relativistic and open-ended in its relation to reality.

Indeed, it denies reality by underpinning the concept with peer review.


Cut-off from himself by peer review, hence alienated; cut-off from reality by peer review, hence futile; cut-off from God by nihilistic denial of reality (relativism); the modern scientist is left with nothing more than the daily distractions of careerism and hedonism.


Thursday 30 August 2012

Do Christians need priests?


I think this question has been terribly destructive in the history of Christianity - as have many other questions relating to what is necessary.

The human mind is dichotomizing - it is either/or - it is in favour of one thing or another - it never can hold a balance or state of indifference for long, especially when pressed.

Early Protestants seem to have loathed the way that the corrupt church (of many corrupt men) seemed to use its 'monopoly' over the sacraments as spiritual blackmail.

Perhaps this is why there is such a strange ambivalence among so many modern Protestants concerning the Eucharist/ Mass/ Lord's Supper/ Divine Liturgy - and with respect to priests, and especially bishops.

The hostility towards priests can only get worse as the corruption of modern priests and bishops becomes more extreme, and more obviously opposed to real Christianity and active against real Christianity.

None of this is cheerful; current and future Christians must expect to be living in a state of continual uncertainty and concern - and the clarity we all crave is not to be had, yet we must act decisively in our own lives, because the alternatives are so opposed that no compromise is conceivable.

So, we need to be utterly intransigent on core matters, yet all kinds of factors conspire to obscure what those core factors really are: on the one hand corrupt priests who zealously serve evil, on the other hand spiritual pride, whim, worldliness.

To be part of an evil bureaucracy at one extreme, at the other to be a freelance agent of evil.

We must seek to walk the middle way which is not a compromise but true: guided by what we seek rather than subordinating ourselves to devoted worldly support of what a dying world happens to have on offer this week.


Wednesday 29 August 2012

Protestant and Catholic: Conversion and theosis


One major reason that I regard Protestant and Catholic as complementary rather than in competition relates to their specialisms: conversion versus theosis.

Protestants are, or ought to be, experts in evangelism and mission - in getting people 'saved', and 'across the line' into Christianity.

What then?

Well, there is a period of strengthening the conversion, learning scripture and removing errors: and this may take many years.

So there tends to be a lot of repetition, and a focus on the moment of conversion, being born again.

The aim is perhaps to secure salvation, to make the state of being saved stronger. 


At some point some people begin to want more, or perhaps more accurately want something different (for whatever reason) - and Protestants tend to channel this desire, or this surplus energy, or the need to fill the days with activity into... well, Good Works principally - primarily more evangelism and mission (for which there is always a need) but also into Good Works like health care, social care, education...

The devout Protestant model of church once or twice a week, absent or infrequent (and non-mystical) Holy Communion, perhaps home Bible study groups, and extempore prayer is not well-suited to theosis.

(Protestants tend to be salvation egalitarians, to the point of being reluctant to acknowledge the existence of and gifts of those with exceptional Holiness - for example Saints.)  


But for Catholics, conversion is (or ought to be) the start of a process of sanctification (theosis, moving toward being a Saint in communion with God).

And this is aimed at by things such as frequent Holy Communion, ascetic practices, and frequent formal and ritual activity - ideally that kind of fusion of all aspects of life in pursuit of sanctification which reached its highest in Byzantium.


Theosis  is, in a way, orthogonal to conversion.

Theosis does not (until its highest levels) render salvation stronger - indeed it tends to risk salvation, by tending to encourage spiritual pride (which can overturn almost any state of salvation - so that very advanced ascetics may fall, presumably into damnation, even after many years of endeavour).

Nonetheless, theosis is probably the main thing which Christians should do after conversion is (reasonably) solid.


On this line of argument, Protestants secure salvation and then some Protestants will want to embark on theosis with a Catholic denomination.

But one major problem is that - while there are numerous successful Protestant evangelicals - there is a serious shortage of Catholic denominations orientated towards theosis. Few Roman Catholic churches seem to offer daily mass. Orthodoxy is weak in the West and does not pervade life. The monastic life is weak and rare. There are few living (or zero) models of advanced sanctification.

But in principle, as an ideal, it would be best (at least in a moderately Christian society) to have both strong Protestant and strong Catholic denominations.


Tuesday 28 August 2012

Christians and the Hot Button moral isues of the day


Are the mainstream Christian churches substantially corrupted by secular Leftism? Yes.

Is this a fact or mere opinion? It is a fact. 

How would we know? See below:


One test is very simple: and the test is exactly what the secular Left say it is. Where does the Christian church stand on the Hot Button issues of the day.


For more than 50 years the secular Left has rolled-out a sequence of Hot Button moral issues to create conflict with the Christian Churches - and these are almost all to do with sexual morality. Each of these sexual issues then becomes a political cleavage-point or litmus test for good versus evil as defined by the Left.

And before the sexual revolution of the mid 1960s, there were analogous challenges spread out over previous decades and indeed over a couple of centuries: the proposal to use secular historical scholarship to over-rule scripture was one of the first and deadliest; natural selection versus creation was a later one where a scientific metaphysical assumption was put forward to over-rule the Christian understanding of the human condition; and at various times abolition of slavery, pacifism and socialism have been the major issues.


In retrospect we can discern that each of these issues was a wedge - and that all were significant.

Acceptance of even one of these issues acts like a wedge, because the new principle expands incrementally to break-apart the unity and coherence of Christianity in the way that wedges were used to break-up a tree trunk.

This applies to the issues of sexual morality which dominate church-secular controversies today.


All of the Hot Button issues have been chosen by the secular Leftist system (whether chosen by blind, impersonal, systematic summated social forces, or chosen by evil intent) for their long-term potential to destroy Christianity (or subvert and rewrite it - which is the same thing).


None of these issues are insignificant, as the secular Left realizes - which is why the secular Left pursues these matters with such strategic zeal and ruthless aggression.

The secular Left are hard-line fanatics, the Christians try to be 'reasonable' and meet them half-way - with predictable results... 

In no instance will small-scale 'compromise' changes be acceptable to the secular Left - since their agenda is revolutionary and destructive - all small changes will simply open-the-door to further changes in the same direction.


Now, we now that this is the case; looking back we can see the same pattern again and again.

There is nothing for Christians to debate here; because debate implies the possibility of change and to be 'reasonable', to seek a mutually acceptable compromise, is simply for the church to surrender and to weaken itself for the next attack.

(The argument goes: "if you have already agreed to that - then logically you must also agree to this which is merely a consequence of that.)


All this the secular Left perceives with absolute clarity.

Yet Christians do not.

Christians continue to pursue the policy of appeasement, conceding and conceding to an aggressor who has stated quite clearly that he wants nothing less than your annihilation - consequently the mass majority of ever-yielding Christians are in a perpetual state of disappointment and are continually aggrieved that their decency is not being appreciated by their enemies - constantly shocked that their enemies are being so unfriendly!


But Christians need to wake-up.

Christians absolutely must reject the secular, Leftist anti-Christian agenda in its totality; including to go back and undo or reverse all the concessions and yieldings to secularism made over the past centuries.

All of them.


Because all the Hot Button issues were chosen by secular Leftism, all are wedges, all are capable of great destruction, all need to be decisively rejected, eventually all need to be removed.

Individual Christians need not, should not, try to understand the modernizing agenda from an assumption that it is 'well-meaning': it is not well-meaning - even when the individuals who pursue it are nice and decent people, it needs to be kept in mind that they are nice and decent people in the service of evil.

All and any future proposed 'reforms' originating from the secular Left therefore must be refused categorically and finally, without argument.

And any and all of the changes to Christian theology, morals, scripture, liturgy (etc.) originating from this sources need to be reversed.


We moderns have, we should recognize, been corrupted, such that we are incapable of 'judging for ourselves' - how can hedonistic chaotic addicts with the attention span of a gnat, near-zero Christian knowledge and even less sanctity, judge anything 'for ourselves'?

It is often said that scripture, reason and tradition ought to guide Christians: quite true. But we modern cannot read scripture, and our scriptures have been re-written; we cannot reason because we are ignorant, inattentive and incompetent; therefore we must focus primarily on tradition where this is clear, and tradition is crystal clear on all the Hot Button issues

- and we must let tradition guide our understanding of scripture and reason (i.e traditional understandings of scripture, traditional modes of reasoning).


Therefore, we moderns must be guided primarily by tradition, by ancient tradition, by tradition originating from before modernity - and especially when this tradition is clear and unambiguous among the Holiest of our Christian ancestors.


NOTE: This perspective on the nature of modernity can be seen throughout the work of Fr Seraphim Rose.


Monday 27 August 2012

What kind of Mere Christian are you? What is The Church? What are you *doing*?


This is something that - I think - requires individual discernment; as the teaching of many denominations is either that they and they alone are The Church and others are heretical (and often treated as worse that atheist), or else they adhere to an anti-Christian ecumenicism.

Here is something to think about:

If you believe in Mere Christianity, then perhaps you ought to support, with prayer and worldly effort, other Mere Christians who are successful in evangelical and mission work? - even if/ when you regard their type of Christianity as sub-optimal.

The kind of Mere Christianity which wins converts in most of the world at present is Protestant, evangelical - do you regard these denominations as really Christian; and if so, do you support them - or do you perhaps, instead, spend most of your effort denigrating them and distinguishing yourself from them?

You cannot be indifferent: If you are not for them, then you are against them.

Sunday 26 August 2012

What do libertarians think they are?


Libertarians always line-up with 'Liberals' on the hot button moral issues of the day - but present themselves as tough-minded rationalists about the economy, defense, federalism and the like.

In other words, Libertarians claim to be more effective and efficient Leftists: the have exactly the same 'ultimate' utilitarian aims in life, but claim to be better at reaching them. 

And this is why libertarianism is merely a hobby for a tiny minority of dissociated smart lads - because to be a Libertarian entails having a dual personality as regards ends and means: one part of the mind entranced by the vague, unbounded dreams of Leftism; while the other part operates like a hard-eyed manipulative Machiavellian.

Libertarians are fundamentally Leftist, hence fundamentally irrational; and Libertarians are superficially rationalist, hence anti-Left.

Libertarians imagines this combination means they have straddled and integrated Left and Right - but this is crude contradiction: incoherence, not synthesis.

Sadly, this criticism also applies to the secular Right in general: utilitarianism just is Leftism, their rationalism fights their Leftism; their secularism propels them into Leftism.

So there are only two side - the Religious Right and the anti-Religious Right (i.e. the Left). Everything else is incoherent, self-fighting, self-defeating.


Proof that God exists - only by Christ (adapted from Pascal)


Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament - over time, this confirmed he was the Messiah - or, at least, consistent-with being the Messiah.

But this fulfillment only happened over time.


Jesus said he was (the Son of) God, but why believe him during his ministry?

Answer: The miracles. Christ performed miracles - this validated that he had supernatural powers, and therefore his claims were plausible.

(It would have been no sin not to believe in Christ during his life - if it had not been for the miracles. They were enough to inspire belief among true seekers of salvation.)

So, he said he was God, and performed miracles as proof. 


But miraculous powers might be good or evil.

Although gifted with miraculous power, Jesus accepted crucifixion without resistance - this implied he was not evil.

Would an evil miracle worker do this? 


The Resurrection - (and the Ascension and the coming of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles, and their miracles) confirmed that Christ was God.


Since God was crucified by Man - he revealed the wretchedness of Man, that Man was evil and helpless and needed a Saviour.

(Not completely evil and completely helpless; but hope-less - requiring external help for salvation.)


Saturday 25 August 2012

Scriptural monotheism is necessary to defeat secular Leftism


This seems very obvious to me - although I cannot really think how to prove it; and indeed it is not the kind of thing that can be proved.

It simply seems that no secular materialist perspective provides the social coherence and individual solidity necessary to hold the line on anything.

Whenever I think of any secular materialist perspective it is obviously socially destructive.

But what of non-monotheist religions? Types of paganism? Religions without a deity? Non-scriptural monotheisms such as The God of The Philosophers, of the perennial philosophy, or generic spirituality?

They seem too weak, incoherent, subjective, fluid and yielding to beat secular Leftism; and even after secular Leftism self-destructs then they would - I think - give way before any Scriptural monotheism which remained.


Friday 24 August 2012

When 'complicated' issues are actually clear and simple


On the one hand we have secular Leftism for which issues are always clear and simple (clear and simple, that is, but not stable - today's clear and simple may be the opposite of tomorrow's.).

Christians tend to respond and resist by saying variations upon the theme of 'but it's more complex than that, there are further implications you have not thought about, further debate is required...'.

So we have clear and simple versus confused and complex... Guess who always wins?


In fact the 'hot button', litmus test moral issues of our era are perfectly clear and absolutely simple for Christians (I mean clear and simple for real Christians - not for the mass of Leftist-pseudo-Christians).

But the clarity and simplicity of the questions depends upon authority - tradition, the consensus of Holier (and more truthful, and more moral) persons from the past whose understanding was qualitatively greater than ours and whose insights we are not entitled to revise and whose guidance we must therefore accept.


But one facet of the impregnable pride of modernity is that it believes it has transcended authority and now depends only on reason and evidence.

In reality, society as it is now has dispensed with reason and evidence except at the level of sound-bites and fashion; and relies on emotional manipulation and coercion - however the disdain for authority is by now thoroughly entrenched.


And within Christianity.

Church structures are fundamentally overthrown simply because those with power (having thought about the matter for at least five minutes, and because change benefits them) cannot see any reason why they should not be overthrown.

Liturgy has become a maelstrom of experimentation in which beauty, dignity and profundity are the casualties to simplification or distortion - immediate appeal, immediate comprehensibility, obvious compatibility with secular values.

And scripture has gone the same way. Words are no longer dependent upon divine inspiration but can be re- and re- and re-'translated' in line with the latest scholarly or political fashions, to make them fun, and to make them (pseudo) understandable - leaving a leaden mixture of the trite, the bureaucratic and just plain made-up stuff.


But the big moral issues of our time are, for real Christians, no-brainers.

On the one hand there are the forces of today's secular hedonic Leftism; and on the other hand the two thousand consensus of the best Christians.

What is there to discuss, debate, think-further-about-the-implications-of...?




Private revelations, personal miracles


Christianity is about happiness because life is about happiness, as Pascal perceived - but the Christian must know his condition to be wretched - wretched and yet also with hope.

Nonetheless, wretched as we are, many Christians have had the blessings of revelations and miracles to confirm and sustain their faith: revelations (divine communications) to answer problems or provide guidance; miracles of many kinds.

These might be called subjective revelations and miracles - they are real, but they are not meant to be communicated.


Everyday revelations and miracles are personal, and seem intended to be personal - but the Christian faith, on the other hand, was set-up and built-up on public, objective miracles and revelations.

The miracles of Christ were necessary to show that he was a supernatural being. The miracles did not show what kind of supernatural being He was, not even that He was good (since evil miracles occur - or at least pseudo-miracles which can fool humans).

The revelations of Christ's teaching, the teaching of the Apostles and Holy Fathers - these were necessary to establish the Christian Church, and to correct its distortions and corruptions. Again, like the early miracles, these were 'for public consumption'.


But at this stage in the plan of salvation - the End Times, or something close to them - there have not been public revelations and miracles for some generations. Indeed, we are now (at least in The West) feeble in our faith and corrupted by worldliness, so both the average and peak levels of sanctity (or theosis) are much much lower than they used to be. Thus we could not understand major revelations and would misinterpret them, and we would disbelieve and argue against even major public miracles.


But the good news is that even we modern, feeble practising Christians are granted personal, private revelations and miracles. These are of immense value in sustaining our faith and guiding our lives, but are not meant to be communicated, nor should they be used as proofs of Christianity - and certainly not put forward as reliable benefits of becoming a Christian. They are not earned!

Private revelations and personal miracles would not convince skeptics, that is not their purpose - indeed the chance to 'disprove' them by offering alternative explanations would probably reinforce skepticism.

We need to distinguish between that which is given us by grace for our own benefit (and the benefit of those we love) which is as much a part of private discourse as the endearments of family life; from the large scale, public, overwhelming, faith-establishing events of the earlier church.

But while refusing to talk about our private revelations and personal miracles with any specificity (just as we would refuse to describe the specifics of our married lives), we can and should acknowledge their reality and importance, and be very thankful for them.


Thursday 23 August 2012

Platonism versus Christianity


I am re-reading, for something like the fifth time, The Place of the Lion (PotL) by Charles Williams

Several previous re-readings - and yet I had the experience of reading the chapter The Two Camps as if I had not seen it before. It seemed to throw light, indirectly, on the distinction between Platonism and Christianity.


PotL is a spiritual thriller about the Platonic archetypes 'invading' this world, and reabsorbing all the entities, including people, over which they have primary influence.

For instance, a woman who is primarily snake-like gradually becomes a snake, and would be reabsorbed by the snake archetype.

If the process was to continue to completion then this world - a imperfect world of change, decay, corruption - a world of Time - would be reabsorbed by the eternal and unchanging world of forms.


In a chapter called The Two Camps there is a discussion between Foster who sees this resorption as 'a good thing' - and who is himself joyfully being reabsorbed by the lion archetype en route to complete assimilation; and the hero Anthony who wants to stop the destruction of 'this world' of Time and people.

Foster says that there is only one choice: to acknowledge, accept, and enjoy resorption into the archetypes, or misguidedly to resist it - in which case one will be hunted by the archetype, which will inevitably track you down and overpower you. (This almost happens to Quentin.)

The choice, for Forster, is therefore between enlightened cooperation, and an ignorant and futile resistance. He regards the archetypal world as obviously superior in its perfection, and - anyway - overwhelmingly stronger than any creature, any human.


Anthony understand this but he nonetheless intends to try and stop and reverse the archetypal takeover, and save this (corrupt, decaying, tragic) world.

Anthony's reason is essentially - but not at all explicitly - Christian: he wants to save the world essentially because of his love for his 'girlfriend' Damaris and his best friend Quentin.

Anthony wants to save the world because of love for specific individual persons and their individual consciousness - albeit these persons are temporary, flawed, corrupt and all the rest.

Anthony does not want these people absorbed-into and extinguished-by 'perfect' eternal archetypes of vast power - because that would be an end of that which he loves.

In essence Anthony perceives some necessary value in individual human life in this world of Time.


Christianity contains much Platonism, and Platonism is a wonderful thing - the best philosophy. But without Christianity, Platonism has no place for individual persons, no need for this world in Time.

For a Platonist, the soul is the person, the body a decaying encumbrance - there is no good reason to be alive in this world once one has understood reality and can agree to assimilation to it. This world in time is like a mistake - it is just a temporary delay en route to static eternal bliss.

Christianity is about incarnate God, God with a body, who came into this world of time and change as an individual Man: Christianity thus validates this world, and validates individual Man, and validates the body (without which Man is incomplete - hence Christians believe in the need and reality of  'the resurrection of the body' - restoring the body to the soul).

Christianity thus regards this world as vital, and as a forum for love of firstly the individually incarnate God and secondly other individual incarnate persons.


Thus Anthony's attitude is Christian, while Foster's is Platonist; and the contrast shows the problem with pure, non-Christian Platonism - that Platonism is inhuman, anti-human, anti-life-itself.

For a Platonist, the quicker we can get-out from individual conscious life in Time, and become absorbed into eternity with annihilation of consciousness, the better.

And what stands between us and this is firstly: love of God incarnate as a Man, on earth and in Time; and secondly love of neighbour, love of other specific individual persons.


NOTE: I am not against Platonism, far from it; I am myself a Platonist - because in the first place it is more-or-less built in to Christian theology; and also because when subordinated to Christian theology Platonism allows some kind of comprehensible and rational answer to many vexing pseudo-problems of theology such as prayers for the dead, salvation of ancient virtuous pagans, prophets, and children. In a nutshell, the Platonism of Boethius - to about that level and extent - is of great value to intellectuals who are better at coming-up with questions than answering them. It was and is, I think, the loss of Platonism from Christian theology that led to many of the worst aspects of the Reformation and the consequent continuing fragmentation of The Church. It is noteworthy that the greatest cross-denominational Christian apologist of the past century - C.S. Lewis - was himself very much a Platonist, as can be seen in his book The Discarded Image - indeed all through his work. 


Wednesday 22 August 2012

Is there any *right* to have a "pain-free and peaceful death"? (aka wholesale humane murder)


From today's issue of The Independent (the most Leftist of British mainstream newspapers):

Locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson, who lost his High Court battle last week for the legal right to end his life when he chooses with a doctor's help, died today...

Last week following the legal ruling, Mr Nicklinson's wife, Jane - standing by her weeping husband's side - described the decision as "one-sided". She said: "You can see from Tony's reaction he's absolutely heartbroken." They said they intended to appeal against the decision.

Mr Nicklinson's daughter Lauren said last week that the family would keep fighting to allow her father to die "a pain-free and peaceful death". "The alternative is starvation," she said.

"Why should he have to starve himself to death when he could go (die) in a safe home with people that love him? "To think that he might have to waste away and starve himself to death is horrific and it makes me feel quite ill, to be honest."...

After the ruling, Mr Nicklinson said in a statement issued by his solicitors, Bindmans LLP: "I am devastated by the court's decision.

"I am saddened that the law wants to condemn me to a life of increasing indignity and misery."

Asked what would happen if the appeal fails, his wife said: "Tony either has to carry on like this until he dies from natural causes or by starving himself."


Almost all of the British mainstream media, and especially the BBC, are campaigning for euthanasia on request - starting-with some rare cases of chronic paralysis such as the above - but as the speaker makes clear, what is being asked for is nothing less than the legal right to "a pain-free and peaceful death" - which is de facto the legal right to being humanely murdered, including the legal right that somebody act in the role of humane murderer.


This is not at all shocking to the modern secular Leftist, because their evaluation of life is purely hedonic - and when the balance between pleasure and pain tips too far in an adverse direction they regard it as the duty of the State to end things - simply out of compassion for suffering.

Of course, the vast majority of humans throughout human history have had painful deaths, unpeaceful deaths - deaths without 'dignity'.

For example, two of my greatest Christian heroes Blaise Pascal and Fr Seraphim Rose suffered horrible terminal illnesses lasting for some weeks. They would have been prime candidates for humane killing.

But in fact, most people have bad deaths - and by the criterion of 'a pain-free and peaceful death' would be 'deserving' of humane killing.

So this is not a trivial or minor matter, not at all - once the principle in is place that deaths ought to be pain-free and peaceful then the vast majority of people will be humanely killed - not least to be 'on the safe side' when suffering seems a likely prospect and to prevent it.


Of course there have been pagan societies of the past - such as Ancient Rome, or the Japanese in the Samurai era - when suicide became almost the normal way to end life.

But these societies did not kill themselves in order to avoid pain and be peaceful - (as I understand it) the Patrician Roman killed himself to avoid all his property being confiscated by the state if he were executed; a Japanese noble in order that his death be equivalent to death in battle.


Mr Nicklinson, 58, died at his home in Melksham, Wiltshire, this morning following a rapid deterioration in his health after contracting pneumonia over the weekend. He had suffered from locked-in syndrome following an accident in 2005 and wanted a doctor to be allowed to terminate his life...

Professor Penney Lewis, professor of law at the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King's College London, said today that Mr Nicklinson's plight would continue to raise questions about a change in the law, after being denied the right to die by High Court judges last week in a landmark ruling.

(Emphasis added.)


What is clear is that this has nothing to do with a 'right to die'. It is clearly acknowledged that this man could refuse food, as he apparently did for the days leading up to his death (reported elsewhere), and then he would die - and in fact he died within a few days of refusing food.

The whole crux of this campaign is not the right to die, but the right to die painlessly - which is de facto the right to be killed before there can be any suffering.

It has a conceptualization of life that regards any form of suffering, even temporary and terminal suffering such as humans have endured through all history - as utterly intolerable, such that nothing is worse, such that being murdered humanely is a right and to murder humanely a vital social function.

This just has to be the most clear cut example of moral inversion which can be envisaged; going against the most basic and uncontroversial and universal Natural Law.

And yet this is now the mainstream, normal, enlightened viewpoint among modern Western elite opinion - such that those who hold it are moralistically angry and outraged that anybody could object to their proposals.


Just take this on board.

The campaign to legalize wholesale humane murder is not an extrapolation, not science fiction - this is what is happening now.

This is the state of cutting edge, widely-supported secular morality.

This is not something being covertly or indirectly argued - it is a straightforward proposal supported by many or most high status people, pretty much all the mass media and university ethicists and experts of many stripes.

People feel good about themselves for supporting wholesale humane murder, because as good secular Leftists they regard suffering as the worst thing.

People feel very angry against those who block wholesale humane muder, they hate the people who oppose wholesale humane murder - because these people are cruel, they are deliberately inflicting suffering upon helpless people at the end of their lives.


The situation is beyond parody: the situation is an everyday fact of modern life.


Note - I would not like to give a false impression: I remember clearly what it was like to believe that wholesale humane murder - properly done, by decent sensible properly-trained people - would indeed be a vital element in continued human progress. To my former secular hedonic self, removal of that basic terror of the process of death seemed like a fine thing, crucial to peace of mind. To object was evil, reactionary, insensitive, indifferent. We moderns had got beyond such barbaric harshness. Only since I became a Christian did the scales drop from my eyes.


Is there anything else like Tolkien?



Good-nasty = Snape. But who are the nice people on the side of evil?


Traditionally, for Christians, Good and evil are understood in terms of the 'unseen warfare' or 'spiritual warfare' between (one the one hand) God and the angels and (on the other) Satan and his demons - humans are the location of this warfare, rather than its instigators - and the main decision of each person is which side they will take.


At the same time, some people are mostly nice, while others are mostly nasty.

And there need not be much or any correlation between Good-nice and evil-nasty: indeed, the character type of Good-nasty is a favourite in literature.


A recent example of Good-nasty is Severus Snape - who is probably the most interesting and moving character in the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.

Yet, the lack of a framework of spiritual warfare means that the secular perspective misinterprets Snape as a 'morally ambiguous character'.

Snape is not morally ambiguous - he is nasty, as is abundantly demonstrated throughout the series. However, like Harry, he has Rowling's prime twin virtues of Courage and self-sacrificing Love - and these mean that he has chosen the side of Good, as it emerges near the very end of the seven volumes.

Throughout the series we should not be in doubt that Snape is nasty - what we are unsure about - and what the novels mislead us about - is the answer to the question: What side is Snape on ?


In the Harry Potter series, the background of unseen warfare between God and the Devil is only hinted at - and superficially replaced (for much of the series) by Dumbledore versus Voldemort: nice versus nasty, kind versus cruel.

Yet in the Deathly Hallows we recognize that Dumbledore is sometimes nasty, has several nasty traits, has a history of cruelty.

At the secular level, this subverts the moral clarity of the novels - but not if a backdrop of spiritual conflict is acknowledged.


The real conflict in Harry Potter, and in Lord of the Rings and in the Narnia books, is between God and evil - and the bottom line evil is not cruelty but heresy: evil wants to be worshiped as God.


This is clearer in Tolkien and Lewis - but there are sufficient hints in Rowling that this is 'The Dark Lord's ultimate purpose: to be worshiped as an immortal god. Voldemort is, of course, cruel - but it is his indifference to others (e.g. killing Cedric Diggory as 'the spare'), his treating them merely as a means to his end, which is portrayed as his worst sin. They exist only to serve and worship him.


My point would be much clearer is there was a nice but evil character to mirror Snape as nasty but Good - however, I don't think there are any.

Indeed, this is a major deficiency in most modern/ recent literature and narrative art: the way that nastiness and evil are conflated.

Evil people in books, movies, on TV always turn-out to be nasty (cruel, sadistic etc) whereas in real life many of most devoted the servants of evil are (mostly) nice, and not especially cruel.

Can anyone come up with a good example of a genuine, clear cut nice-evil character from art?

Or life?

Somebody really nice, and really evil?


Tuesday 21 August 2012

Tough men in flip flops? Epicene-macho defined


For a few years I have notice a particular style: tough-posing young men, stripped to the waist with well-defined muscles (due to weight training and steroid use) striding around the big city wearing shorts and flip-flops...

(Flip-flops are those rubber sandals held on by a pillar between the big toe and the index toe - Australians call them 'thongs'.)


This fashion was initially affected by upper-middle class young men, primarily sporty or Jock types who play rugby football, do vigorous athletics, or ski/ snowboard or something of that ilk. 

But the posing torsos and thongs now seem to have spread to more working class would-be hard-men.


Tough guys in flip-flops!?

Hard men with drug-sculpted muscles!?



This is epicene-hardness. This is non-macho masculinity.

This is Hollywood/ Comic Book tough-guy.

This is a girl's idea of the a man of action - a mobile, jointed, pussy-footing mannequin.  


What can be hoped-for from such stuffed-shirtless? 

Can a nation be defended against the forces of evil by young men in flip-flops?

To ask is to answer.

If people violate natural law because of saturation propaganda - why the propaganda?


In trying to understand the crisis of the West, there is a tendency to stop with description - and indeed with a secular perspective that is necessary.

From a secular perspective there is no answer to 'why' - things have happened this way because this is the way things happen.


So, the Christian and secular Right can agree that modern Western society increasingly operate on the basis of reversing, inverting whatever is spontaneous and Natural and has been known to humanity forever:

1. What was evil becomes virtue, and what was good behaviour is at best a hypocritical mask but in fact is an authoritarian, repressive, misery-inducing, sadistic, crushing, tyrannical... (etc)

2. What seems or seemed beautiful is Kitsch, lowbrow, sentimental, evasive fantasy - the aesthetically admirable is brutal, bare, inhuman, unappealing, violent, viscerally disgusting, subversive, despair inducing... (etc)

3. What was simple truth becomes contested, relative, uncertain, ambiguous, power-imposed; experience is challenged by statistics - statistics is refuted by single examples; reality becomes a thing made and remade, not discovered; truth is defined by virtue (ie. the inverted virtue of modernity); the people are invoked for validation by elites, who regard the people as knuckle-dragging savages and refuse their clear demands; sophisticated propaganda becomes the ultimate truth... etc


Everyone on the Right pretty much agrees on the above and a lot more - but why did this happen?

What lies behind this change, what drives it?


The secular Right generally identify a particular (elite) human group which has driven the above changes, and who benefit materially from such changes; they are the evil ones who have originated wrong ideas, imposed them and tricked the populace and so on.

True enough, but why? And who? And do they know they are doing it? And why don't they stop?


The problem is that secular perspectives are unclear about the nature of evil. They see that people who pursue evil are not usually themselves evil - and are confused about where the evil may be.

The traditional Christian Right have no problem with all this because they perceive that evil is not located in individual people, nor in the behaviour of particular groups of people; but evil is a transcendental force in the world.

For Christians, purposive evil in the world is located not in people but in the fallen angelic powers opposed to God - in immaterial persons known as Satan, the devil, demons and so on. That is the location of evil, that is its purpose and driving force.


The evil is not primarily in people, nor in groups; these are not in themselves evil, but the evil forces of the world are those who serve evil.

Good and evil are themselves clear cut and unambiguous (although our knowledge of them is incomplete and distorted) - and the decision which side to serve is potentially clear cut and unambiguous (although evil, of course, muddies the waters by its subversion and inversions).

Actually serving Good or evil is not clear cut and ambiguous, but the will to serve one or the other is cc&un-amb.



The continual, 24/7 saturation propaganda for evil; the moral and aesthetic inversions, the pervasive relativism and dishonesty which are inflicted upon Western humanity by the mass media, government officials, education, the legal system etc. - these do not have their own primary agenda, but are activities in service of, driven by, purposive evil - which is why the participants are so often nice people.

Nice people often make excellent servants of evil.


A brief answer to why things are the way they are is therefore that many individual humans have willed, have chosen, to serve evil - and as the consequences have accumulated it has become harder to choose Good.

To choose evil is rewarded in the short term by comfort, power, status, diversions; to choose Good is to be punished; Good choosing people diminish in status, lose money, are shunned and vilified, made to suffer in numerous ways, find their choices narrowed.

So evil choices generate more evil, and make easier further evil choices.


In the spiritual warfare between Good and evil, on this world, in this life, in Time; evil will win - eventually, sooner or later (maybe sooner).

And that is the process we are observing.

It is the latest manifestation of purposive evil at work in the world, and an accumulation of the weight of sin.

That is why we suffer coordinated and motivated anti-Good mass propaganda - despite that there is no obvious focus for it.

That is the bottom line explanation.


Monday 20 August 2012

What ended the close friendship between JRR Tolkien and C.S Lewis?



What do people really want?


In a world of saturation hype, where the mass media and its offshoot of electronic communication, permeates life with a frequency and level of detail many orders of magnitude beyond anything ever before, the distinction between what people 'want' and what they get has become very difficult to discern.


At one level of simplification people want exactly what they get; looked at differently they get what they get, whether they want it or not - and the media neutralizes any potential opposition.

Looked at differently again, this is a futile topic in the absence of knowing something of what people ought to have; and the topic of what people ought to have is itself futile, unless it can be discussed objectively - in terms of 'ought' lying outside of humans.

(Otherwise the whole thing degenerates into dividing humans into interest groups, and siding with one or another.)


So... unless the topic of what people really want and what they get can be referenced to something non-human, objective - then we might as well shut-up about it because all that we are doing is taking sides...

and taking sides is, in itself, an arbitrary decision depending upon who we are and our own experience.

And modern secular analytic and critical discourse just is various elaborations and disguises of "I want this because I want it". 

Thus modern secular discourse: futile cycles within futile cycles.


Sunday 19 August 2012

Who, among living people, I would most like to meet for a long conversation...


Christopher Tolkien: as the last Inkling; as the editor of the History of Middle Earth, especially The Notion Club Papers - which I have spent so many hundreds (?) of hours inside; and as an intense, fascinating and (to me) almost-wholly-mysterious personality.


Who would you most like to meet for conversation, and why?


For moderns, authority implies committee


Praise the King of Heaven - or the supreme Soviet of Heaven?


It is astonishing how nearly all modern people automatically and moralistically believe that authority should be, must be, vested in a committee.

They think it right that all important decisions be made by a group of people (preferably voting).

If there is to be a Head of some institution, then they should be the head of a committee, elected by a committee, reporting to a committee ('accountable'), removeable by a committee.

Committees decide pretty much everything and everywhere, therefore - and where they do not, they stand behind and undermine personal authority.


This, naturally, subverts Christianity (I mean real Christianity) - since Christianity is about personal authority.

Yet if modern people were deciding how the universe ought to be run, they would have God as Chair of a committee, with all the tasks of the world done - not by individual angels - but by committees of them appointing project managers.

God would not be praised by choirs of angels, but congratulated by formal vote.


Indeed, moderns would prefer to have a god elected by his creatures.

And, in a sense, that is precisely what they do have: the modern world is dominated by an elected god.

God is a monarch, currently in exile; Satan is 'the people's choice' as democratically-elected dictator.


It will be one of the signs of societal repentance when we recognize that the Eastern Orthodox equation is quite simple and correct:

God is a monarch, ergo man should be ruled by a monarch; there are no committees reported in Heaven, there should be none on Earth.

Authority is personal or it is not authority, but instead its opposite.


(NOTE FOR PEDANTS: Valid Ecumenical councils were choirs, conducted by the Holy Ghost - certainly not committees.)

Saturday 18 August 2012

Christianity OR Western Civilization


If we could have both, that would be the best, that would be great. 

But from where we are, or from where we are heading - our choice, I fear, will be: one or t'other.


Right wing bloggers use support for Western Civilization as a platform to try and unite the Christian and secular Right - but the two movements are pulling in opposite directions on this issue.

At bottom, the secular Right think Christianity is nonsense - useful nonsense, perhaps; but nonsense is clearly not their priority: they support Civilization over nonsense.


The Christian Right mostly love Western Civilization; but, after all, Civilizations come and Civilizations go - they are finite: they always come to an end.

Civilizations never last very long.

Not compared with an immortal soul.


Friday 17 August 2012

Is fascism nationalist?


Following my negative definition of fascism as a secular (not religious), anti-egalitarian (reacting against Leftism, to at least that extent) and non-monarchial form of government...

(Insofar as fascism is monarchial, religious and/ or egalitarian - it is to that extent not fascism. of course, pure forms or types of political system are seldom/ never seen in reality - or at least not for long...)

, and considering the discussion in the comments,

there arises the matter of whether fascism was nationalist?


The answer, I think, is that successful fascism was nationalist.

Because fascism is a secular form of government, unless there is a strong nationalist sentiment, fascism cannot achieve the cohesion necessary to defeat Leftism.

And this is why fascism was a temporary phase during the early/ mid twentieth century - because strong nationalism is merely temporary (immediately post-religious) phase, and rapidly dwindles in just a few decades.


(Modern nationalism is merely a sub-type of Leftism - the self-award of victim status to a whole nation.)


So, a non-nationalist fascism was possible, but it would probably be small and weak. The fascisms which were successful enough to get themselves a piece of power were nationalist. 


What about Christian Socialism? Does it make sense?


Many, most, people do not notice that Leftism is primarily and intrinsically anti-Christian - and one reason they don't notice is that in the early decades of English Leftism, and even extending into a few people still alive today, there were real Christians who were Leftists - Christian Socialists.

In the Nineteenth century into the twentieth there was FD Maurice, HH Kelly, Charles Gore (great and Holy Anglicans), there was the Anglo-Catholic movement - and there was an economist called RH Tawney who led to a school of 'ethical socialism' which included some people I know as friends, including the late Norman Dennis.

Does Christian Socialism refute the idea that the Left is intrinsically anti-Christian?


No it doesn't.

English Socialism is based upon an error, indeed multiple errors - the primary error being that the industrial revolution - while creating a minority of extremely wealthy individuals, led to an economic decline for the working class.

In other words, the error was that the industrial revolution led to increased economic inequality, and that therefore the solution was greater equality.

In reality, the opposite was the case. The industrial revolution involved population growth and productivity growth - so per capita wealth increased, and the greatest share went to the poor.

For perhaps the first time in human history, from the time of the industrial revolution, the poor had more surviving children than the rich.


English socialism was an error simply because the new urban poverty was concentrated and public in its squalor hence impossible to overlook, while the much more severe rural poverty was dispersed, private, invisible.

Upper class people of a type disposed towards socialism simply did not notice poverty when it was most severe - when the children of peasants (no matter how many were born) pretty much all died of starvation or disease, and only those born to wealthier parents had a realistic chance of surviving to adulthood.


So English socialism had a twin basis in economic error, and a misplaced rural nostalgia.

The economics was a plain error, since if it is economics that you are worried about, it is capitalism which has improved the condition of the poor - not socialism.

The rural nostalgia (most notably of William Morris) was misplaced in so far as its focus was economic - urban conditions were indeed hellish, but they were considerably more prosperous overall.

If economics is to be the focus, the bottom line was that the urban poor had more to eat. The benefits of rural living are not economic.


Of course, even though Leftism in its English socialist form was based on error - many of its motivations were good.

But the stubborn refusal to admit the foundational economic error, decade after decade, utterly corrupted socialism.

The focus on alleviating poverty shifted as the poverty was progressively abolished by the continued operations of the industrial revolution - instead of the ancient definition of poverty as (primarily) starvation and lack of clothes and shelter; poverty was redefined as relative, as a matter of inequality - and inequality, difference, was newly defined as intrinsically unjust.


The least-wealthy were the new poor - among a population living among universal luxury, those with fewest, or lowest status, luxuries became 'the poor'.

Yet socialism contrived to retain, by educational propaganda and the mass media, the same angry zeal and impatience concerning relative poverty as has driven it when the concern was with death by starvation.

Instewad of being angry about actual poverty; Leftists were now angry, very angry, about injustice - which could be detected wherever needed; defined and re-defined at convenience.


In the early 20th century, Socialism became an economic theory (the 'command economy' in communism, or the 'planned economy' in Britain), in rivalry to 'capitalism', for improving economic growth and for a 'fairer' distribution (failing to recognise that the distribution of economic benefits of the industrial revolution was from its very origin already strongly egalitarian).


What has all this to do with Christianity?

What indeed.


Certainly socialism does not come from Christianity - since there were some 1800 years of Christianity before socialism. 

Certainly socialism was not a legitimate Christian response to the new spiritual problems of the industrial revolution - since socialism is an economic theory, and the industrial revolution improved the economic conditions of the poor. The idea that socialism would help was based on a mistake.

Christianity does not legitimately come from socialism, not even in the new and specific conditions since the industrial revolution - since an economic focus for life is an intrinsically anti-Christian stance.


The vast majority of devout Christians have not of course been Leftists (were indeed opposed to Leftist ideas); and the vast majority of committed Leftists have not of course been Christian (were indeed opposed to Christian ideals).

So the Christian Socialists are a tiny minority, where these two separate systems overlap...

Are they correct or deluded?

They are deluded, Christian Socialism is not a novel and coherent synthesis - but is merely (at best) two separate systems in the same mind: unintegrated, unintegrable.

Most often, Christian Socialism is a consequence of error, or a consequence of dishonesty.


But humans are error prone creatures - our information is incomplete and biased, and our reasoning is defective, and we are easily influenced.

Yet error - honest error - typically becomes obvious within a few decades.

"By their fruits shall ye know them" - and the fruits of Leftism are rapidly and reliably anti-Christian, as can be seen within one or at most two generations.

That Christian Socialism was a heresy was apparent within a few decades, the intrinsically anti-Christian nature of Leftism obvious in all Leftist controlled states within a few decades (sometimes even faster).


Therefore, the only Christian Socialism which is good, is that which is based upon an honest economic mistake due to ignorance - but the error of Leftist economics soon became dishonest, and in order to preserve Leftism the error had to be preserved - which led to systematic lying, and then (and now) to systematic and coercive imposition of lies.

So Leftism is now objectively evil - indeed by far the major source of societal evil in the world (by societal evil I mean added to the irreducible minimum from original sin).

Indeed it now looks as if Leftism was the greatest triumph of evil in the history of the world.

So Christian Socialism is (and always was) an oxymoron, self-contradictory, self-refuting - intrinsically destructive to the Christian element of the compound name.


Thursday 16 August 2012

Mormon Fertility blog


I have created a blog to archive the three studies of British Mormon Fertility I have done with supervised undergraduate students over the past three years.

The main purpose of these studies was:

1. To see whether British Mormon fertility was similar to US patterns (it is, so far as I can tell) - and therefore to determine whether the critical factor is the religion or instead something specifically to do with the circumstances of US Mormons.

(The characteristic fertility pattern seems to be characteristic of Mormons as such, rather than of US Mormons specifically.)

2. To try and understand the factors which affect Mormon fertility - and whether these are religious factors, or some other factor.

(Not yet clear, but results are consistent with the idea that fertility is mostly a consequence of one or more aspects (or in combination) characteristic of Mormon Christianity.)

Two are listed - another to come, plus some reflections on the implications.


Two possible bleak futures for Christianity - protestant and catholic


If present trends continue the future of Christianity is bleak (at least in the West).


If secular Leftism triumphs, then I would foresee all church hierarchies being completely subverted to Leftism - or else crushed.

Therefore Christianity will survive but only in an extreme protestant form, dispersed in small and secret groups (such as 'home churches'); without the aid of sacraments and priests, based on scripture (perhaps memorized? if printed copies are suppressed) and prayer.


If another religion triumphs, then Christianity will survive but only by submission, and by acceptance of permanent second class (and exploited) political status.

This would require that Christians be cohesive, and they would necessarily be coerced into a single (small 'c') catholic denominational unit - and the Christianity would therefore be episcopal and sacramentally based (the church controlling the sacraments).


But Christianity will survive, that we have been promised, by the prophecies - however these also say Christianity will, by the end, be small - Christians will be few.

What 'few' means in terms of actual numbers is unknown - but certainly implies a small minority of Men.

Will those few be few and scattered? Or few and a single cohesive unit? Who knows...


Wednesday 15 August 2012

“To remove God is to eliminate the final restraint on human brutality” - Alister McGrath


This quotation from the theologian Alister McGrath is a variant of the Dostoevsky quote translated as "Without God all things are permitted".

McGrath focuses on the effect of atheism on morality or Virtue, Dostoevsky's applicability would embrace the othe transcendental Goods of Beauty and Truth - in the sense that without God then there is no final restraint on either dishonesty (lies, hype, spin, propaganda) or beauty (ugliness, horror, banality).


The evidence that McGrath and Dostoevsky are correct is quite simple:

The Twentieth Century.

The 20th century witnessed several enormous atheist political regimes in The Soviet Union, Germany and China - where the implementations of evil were of a scale and thoroughness and of a duration never before seen in human history.

In other words, the removal of God can be seen to have eliminated the final restraint on human brutality. 

Of course this is not sufficient 'proof' for those who deeply wish to deny the link; but that is the case for all forms of evidence for anything and without any exceptions.  


But to focus exclusively upon ethical aspects of religiously-unrestrained immorality is to miss the fullness of catastrophe which atheism has visited upon humanity - by removal of final restraint because these societies were equally societies of unprecedented institutional dishonesty and ugliness.

In sum, atheism enables the denial of natural law - of all spontaneous ('natural') human acknowledgments of truth, beauty and virtue - and denial implies inversion.

Atheism enables denial of natural law - it does not compel this denial, but it enables the denial to happen when this is expedient. 


Because humans always take sides, always exhibit a prefernce, are unable to be neutral.

So when natural law is denied primacy, it is not merely ignored, but reversed.

So we get societies - such as our own - that celebrate the destruction of good, for its own sake; societies that actively will evil - and this is the particular horror of the twentieth century into the twenty-first.


The particular horror of the twenty-first century is that because we are still atheists (indeed, even more so) we have learned nothing from the twentieth century (or, mislearned irrelevant lessons), and have gone a long way towards replicating its specifically modern evils; 'restrained' from doing so only by what appears to atheist modernity as irrational, unenlightened residual conditioning from the bad-old-days.

So the only things keeping modern societies from un-restrained evil are precisely those things which modernity regards as most dangerously evil; and which it is striving so zealously to eliminate.

And it is clear that elimination of 'restraint' is not the worst of things; the worst is that, without God, restraint inverts into its opposite: coercive advocacy of that which was previously restrained.


Tuesday 14 August 2012

Reading Pascal's Pensees


It was only two years ago I bought the Penguin translation of Pascal's Pensees in a secondhand bookshop in Cheltenham.

I was already a Christian and had been so for a more than a year; but it was reading Pascal that make Christianity 'click into place' for me.

If I had read Pascal before I became a Christian, I probably would not have understood enough about it to understand that Pascal proves that Christianity is the only religion which answers to Man's need.


Pascal is talking to modern man - which is in itself a miracle, considering he wrote nearly four centuries ago. He describes the human condition, the predicament - and he shows how Christianity 'fits' the need.

He also clarifies that only Christianity fits the need - this was, for me, perhaps the most amazing insight. All the other religions of the world, and secularism, fail to meet the need even in theory.

This is a remarkable thing. Christianity seems to atheists like wish fulfilment, insofar as atheists know enough about Christianity to know what it is, and this is substantially accurate.


But it raises the question of why other religions are not like wish fulfilment - if religions are merely opiates of the masses, or mechanisms of social control, or projected fantasies of happiness etc - then why is it only Christianity that actually does the job of offering a believer so much - indeed everything!

As Pascal clarifies, Christianity is what we would want to be true; and the main question is whether it is true - if it is true, and you understand what Christianity is, then you would be irrational to reject it.


But why do other religions offer so little and that little either grossly inadequate to human need or utterly irrelevant?

Why is it that - even in their ideal outcomes - no other religion gives what humans want?

Why is it that the the paradise or ideal outcome for all other religions is either horrible, obviously inadequate or meaningless? 


Is it because other religions are honest and only Christianity is 'pie in the sky'?

Or is it because only Christianity is true and real, and other religions are not aimed at truth, are deceptions - not least in deceiving humans that they want, or ought to want, the paltry 'rewards' which other religions offer.


Pascal seems to me just about the most intelligent person I have encountered (or can appreciate) - qualitatively far above my own mind in terms of his ability to analyse and comprehend.

And having acknowledged this - it was astonishing to me to find that Pascal focused on prophecy and miracles as the major evidence for the truth of Christianity specifically - and I found myself convinced, and recognising that of course these were necessary in order that Christianity be specifically (uniquely) true.


But what I got from Pascal as from nobody else, was this sense of him having sketched-out the ultimate nature of reality for Man - almost as if he sketched it in the air - and then showing the essence of Christianity and how it answered to the state of Man - so that either Christianity had been cobbled-together specifically to fit the exact needs of Man; or else it was true.

Then the shock of recognising that it was true.

And that this truth becomes obvious to those all who seek it, but remains hidden from those who do not seek it; and that it was necessary that this be so...


The universe clicked-into place.


Monday 13 August 2012

A perfect picnic lunch


I have been having a lot of picnic lunches since I was 12; and this has been our major family activity.

I love the independence of of carrying lunch with me, so I can sit down anywhere to eat at anytime I fancy (usually earlier than other people).

The minimum basic requirements can be reduced to a few elements, numbered in order of importance - elements can be added, in sequence, from lower in the list as time and need allow.

The following is what I personally like - naturally, when other people come along, their preferences also need taking into account.


1. A drink. A bottle of tap water is probably as good as anything when you are out and about.

2. Sandwiches (plenty of). Four slices (min) of normal bread, or (better) a couple of doorstep slices (each about an inch thick). Filling - (i) Peanut butter, (ii) Cheese and chutney. 

3. Crisps.

4. Fruits: washed and in a polythene bag: e.g. grapes, small tomatoes, an apple.

5. Something sweet, preferably with chocolate or chocolate, or buy an ice cream when you return to civilisation.


And, of course, a book - always carried (but not necessarily read).


So the minimum picnic lunch would be water and peanut butter sandwiches - although some could include a bit of jam as well, for variety.


Three reasons to be hopeful


That so many people buy, read, re-read and love Lord of the Rings.

That so many people will expend their own time and money to visit beautiful countryside, view old architecture and listen to old music.

That there are still loving marriages and families.


Sunday 12 August 2012

What is fascism?


The definition must be reasonably close to popular usage, yet precise enough to distinguish fascism as a twentieth century phenomenon.

Here is my suggestion - alternatives are invited:

Fascism is a form of government characterized by explicit anti-egalitarian ideals, and with a non-monarchical head of state.


A fascist state is an anti-egalitarian republic.

(Where republic denotes that the head of state is not a monarch, and that the state is not intrinsically religious.)

Thus fascism is a reaction - defined more by what it is not, than what it is - a reaction 1. against the egalitarianism of the mainstream left; and a reaction 2. against the divinely-ordained monarchy and/or 'theocracy' (rule by priests) of the traditional (religious) Right.

The Nationalism, which has been a very obvious feature of some fascisms, is therefore regarded as a second-order phenomenon - essentially a means for creating social cohesion: replacing on the one hand religious cohesion, and on the other hand the egalitarian ideology of Leftism.


Why is Christianity so complicated?


As I tried to understand it, and when I try to explain it, it often strikes me that Christianity is a bit complicated. The essence cannot be explained in a sentence, not even in a paragraph.

At one time in my life I thought that this complexity was because Christianity was not true, therefore it lacked the concise precision of science and was forced to create a model of reality which I found difficult to hold in my head all at once.

Now I recognize that Christianity is complicated because of The Fall, because of Original Sin.


The 'original plan' for humans was a simple one, but the complexities introduced by the fact of free will of angles (i.e. the fall of angels, Satan and the demons) and the fall of man (shortly described in Genesis, but its consequences everywhere) then made the Christian plan of salvation considerably more difficult to summarize.

Christianity as we have it is God's Plan B - therefore to understand it requires that we know Plan A, how it went wrong, and how it was set right.

That, I think, is the main reason why Christian salvation is somewhat slow to be explained.


Saturday 11 August 2012

Steve Jobs - a genius? Probably... but what kind of genius?


Having read this thoughtful review of the biography of Steve Jobs

provokes further thought on the nature of genius.


Jobs certainly had the kind of psychology characteristic of a potential genius

and his personal contribution seems clear, so the answer is yes - Jobs was a genius...


And Jobs was a genius of something difficult - the fusion of revived modernist design with user-friendliness, and convenience, and snobbery...

But a genius of something that did not need to be done, and indeed something about which it could be said, it would have been better if it had not been done.

Insofar as Apple Macintosh has done net harm to the world, by its amplification of novelty-seeking distraction to a anti-art form (modernist 'art' being anti-art), then Jobs was an evil genius.

(Apple-mania is a defining trait of the ruling elite, is utterly characteristic of the ruling elite, and amplifies the typical traits of the ruling elite - so the evaluation of Apple is an evaluation of the validity of the ruling elite; its characteristic motivations, beliefs, behaviours and methods.)

But yeah - Jobs was a genius, has all the hallmarks.


Conceptualizing free will


To understand free will, it must be distinguished from choice.

Will is always free, but choices are constrained.

Our will, therefore, is conceptualised precisely as that which is free. The will is that which is under our control.


For Christianity, it is the will that is primary - to be a Christian involves willed faith, willing that Christ is accepted as Lord, willing love of Christ and neighbour - and so on.

Indeed, it may be clearest to suppose that this is the full scope of will - it is that which constitutes a person's primary orientation  - and perhaps that is all that it does.


Will is therefore dichotomous: for Christ or for oneself, for Love or for Pride.

All the rest is choices, and constrained by circumstances - but the will is free to point ourselves in one direction, or its opposite.

We may label the directions variously, but perhaps that is on the one hand all that will does, but what it necessarily does.


Will thus is free, and points in one direction, or the other.

Determining which direction is our primary task, upon which all else depends.



Become a Christian first: stop sinning later (if you can)


I suspect that there are some people who do not become Christians because they (quite honestly) believe that they cannot stop sinning. (Most likely the sin they have in mind is sexual.)

They suppose that if they tried to become a Christian, but found that could not stop doing this particular sin, then they would be chucked-out of Christianity anyway, so why bother even trying...

In sum, they imagine that their inability to stop sinning prevents them becoming Christians - and that they must first stop sinning, then become a Christian: but they are as wrong about this is it is possible to be.


Christ came to save sinners, save people who are sinners, the Christian Church is for sinners.

You do not have to stop sinning before you become a Christian - the proper sequence is you become a Christian first, and then (try to) stop sinning.


But the fact is that nobody can stop sinning, they may defeat one sin (the one that most worries them) but always there will arise another or many more sins, and they will discover (after becoming a Christian) that they always have been sinning in ways they had not previously considered or noticed.

If people had to wait until after they were good before becoming a Christian: 1. There would be no Christians and 2. There would have been no need for Christ.


After becoming Christian, some have found the help to stop a particular type of sin which plagued them (for example alcoholism) - but many others have not been able to change.

But they are still Christians, indeed fully Christians, normal Christians; so long as they recognise the reality of their sin (that is, they do not pretend it is not a sin) and sincerely repent, and try again, and again.

So long, that is, as they recognize Christ as Lord. Everything else, the fruits of conversion, can follow afterwards, but even if they don't follow afterwards, you can still be Christian so long as that is your will.


(Anyone who imagines he is free of sin is not a Christian and is indeed in profound spiritual danger.)


All this is just a plain fact about Christianity, absolutely clear for 2000 years - and yet somehow modern people have been deceived into thinking that to be a Christians you must first be nice.

You may be a very bad sinner, you very probably are; and/but you can become a Christian now, at this very moment, without waiting, without preliminary preparations or purifications. Straight away.

There is nothing to stop you, and nothing in your past that would be able to prevent you.


Will to become a Christian because you believe it is true - be clear about that fact: and only then consider the difficult, indeed torturing matter, of 'joining a church', choosing a denomination, getting baptized or confirmed...

(All this can be a prolonged, difficult and dismaying business in a world where the Christian church, all denominations, have been so extensively corrupted and infiltrated by secular values, primarily Leftism. Still, we must will to become a Christian first, hold to that fact, and regard these institutional complications as necessary but secondary and subordinate challenges.)

You will not know, until you are a Christian, what the implications of Christanity may be, so you must become a Christian as a first step; just the first step - but it is the single most important step, a step into a new world which you can only begin to know only after you are in it.


Friday 10 August 2012

Best comic classics in English


A comic classic must be re-readable, must be read spontaneously (and not prescribed in courses), and must be not only enjoyable but also funny on re-reading.

The best comic work generates a kind of 'depth' from the world it creates - this world must be delightful.

Farce is not comic - because it is heartless.

But in the lists below this category excludes 'great' literature which is also comic - to get onto the list the work must primarily be comic (although almost never exclusively comic).


Best comic novel: Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis.

Best comic travelogue: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

Best comic novelist: PG Wodehouse, especially Jeeves stories

Best writer of comic verse: Lewis Carroll

Best writer of comic poetry: John Betjeman

Best comic playwright: Tom Stoppard (early)

Best comic 'diary': Diary of a Nobody by George and Wheedon Grossmith


Thursday 9 August 2012

Thought Prison - complete text version now online


Now it's a year post-publication, I've posted a text version of my book Thought Prison, online at

If anyone notices any typos or other errors, I would be grateful if you could leave a comment here or e-mail me at hklaxnessatyahoodotcom. 


Christianity for the 'not-nice'


Too often Christianity is portrayed as a matter of being nice - of emulating a 'gentle Jesus meek-and-mild'; the idea that real Christians are hardworking, good-tempered, friendly, placid, sensible, empathic, conscientious... Good Citizens.

But what about people whose personalities are not-nice; who are the opposite in one or more respects: aggressive, dominant, lazy, solitary, crazy, irritable, inconsistent, unfriendly, impulsive - can the not-nice be Christians?

To ask the question is to answer it: of course!


Yet there is perhaps an expectation that becoming a Christian will also 'convert' the not-nice person into a nice person: will make an inconsistent and moody and wild guy, into the meek-and-mild, regular stereotype.

And if this does not happen, if the convert is not remade into the agreeable, empathic, sociable, conscientious ideal - than maybe the conversion was not real...


Yet personality is mostly inherited and mostly stable throughout life - so people seldom change much in their personality type - although they may change in response to different circumstances.

In terms of personality theory - when I refer to 'not nice' I am talking about people (most often men, but a smaller proportion of women) who are high in Eysenck's Psychoticism, low in the Big Five traits of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, low in Baron Cohen's trait of Empathizing.


What would a Christianity for the not-nice type look like?

In the first place, there would be a major role for repentance and no possibility of hypocrisy since the not-nice Christian would very obviously not live-up-to the law, would not live by the rules - and so would be characterized by sinning and repenting rather than by not-sinning.

The vital thing would be that the not-nice Christian must acknowledge their failure to live by true and good standards of behaviour, and never try to re-define sin in terms of what they themselves can accomplish.


They must say - this is right; but I can't do it.

I keep trying but I keep failing, and I must repent and ask forgiveness.

But this is right.


Yet in a crisis, when something heroic needs to be done, and done now and reckless of consequence.

A single, profound, extreme, symbolic act - an insistence a refusal to comply... then the not-nice Christian is your man.

Such are numbered among the Sainted martyrs.

Christianity for the not-nice might have regular elements - indeed it might be highly-supervised and regimented as the life of a monk of the life of a soldier for Christ (eg a Knight Templar).

By such means of external discipline, by obedience by fasting, heroic prayer vigils and so forth - sustained over years and perhaps decades - the inconstant and wilful personality; the ego, the pride; was subdued and dissolved into communion with God.


But in terms of self-discipline the rule would be: if frequent then brief, if prolonged then structured.

So the practice of regular, daily, low mass in the Roman Catholic church was a good way for the not-nice to maintain the faith - the practice of attending a very short mass first thing in the morning, every morning as a skeletal structure for life.

Long services and the like would need to be structured and would need to deploy all possible aids to attention and absorption: uniforms and vestments, solemn architecture, traditional ritual, formal and serious words and music.

This was the major devotional activity of JRR Tolkien who was - in many respects - a classic not-nice type of Christian, in that although he was empathic and sociable (a nice man), he was also irritable and impulsive and had great difficulty in sticking at jobs and seeing them through to completion.


Another model is the Eastern Orthodox idea of a Fool for Christ - a person whose apparently crazy, impulsive and seemingly-'random' acts are perceived to carry a Holy meaning; and to serve as a form of instruction for the community.

(A similar type was seen in the Ancient Greek characters of Socrates, to some extent, and Diogenes, as an extreme instance. And some of Shakespeare's 'fools' seem to be intended in this fashion.)

Such Holy Fools may indeed come to be regarded as Saints.


So here we have at least three ideal patterns or odels for the not-nice Christian: the supervised monastic or quasi-military life, where impulsive irregularity is coercively tamed by asceticism and routine; the use of regular, structured short religious practices; and the full-blown crazy Saint whose apparent indifference to the comunity, to status and standards, to social values is in fact divinely-inspired critique of the worldliness of the Good Citizens.


Re-readers and once-readers


C.S Lewis often emphasized that it was re-reading that made a classic; and a book - no matter how good - which only invited a single reading, was comparatively deficient.

Also that the relatively small group of re-readers formed the most important literary audience. Lewis himself did not feel he had read a book until he had read it more than once, and would often reserve judgement.


JRR Tolkien, on the other hand, claimed seldom to re-read - and that he always enjoyed the first reading the most, when the 'bloom' was on the (and therefore that a book could be diminished by being read too young - as when Lord of the Rings was first-read by ten year olds).


I myself am a re-reader, and tend to feel that if a book is not worth reading more than once it is not worth reading once; yet I recognize Tolkien's point.

I also know people who have read books once and been transformed by them, and never gone back to re-read.

Indeed I know several (extremely well-read) people who essentially never re-read novels - and of course thereby end up with a much wider experience of literature.

(The greatness of Lord of the Rings is that it is often the only book which some voracious once-only readers will go back and re-read - and the same may apply to the Harry Potter series.)


A re-reader like myself might go on holiday with half a dozen 'old favourites' while a once-reader will take a set of newly purchased (or borrowed) books, looking-forward to the freshness of repeating that first (and only) experience of reading.


Wednesday 8 August 2012

Who is second to Shakespeare: Prose and Drama


In a recent post:

the discussion established that in English poetry the authors which comes after Shakespeare are Chaucer, (+/- Spenser), Milton and Wordsworth.

I'd like to do the same now for prose and drama.

1. English Prose: This is easy - there are only two books of prose with comparable impact to Shakespeare: the Book of Common Prayer and the Authorised Version of the Bible (King James Bible).

So, the second-best prose writers to Shakespeare in English Prose are Thomas Cranmer, William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale and various other collaborators.

But if the fact that the second greatest writers of English prose are translators and a (kind-of) committee (albeit divinely inspired) is hard to stomach, then it gets much harder to identify a second placed writer.

I would put forward Samuel Johnson.

2. English Drama: This is easy - aside from Shakespeare there is only one dramatist in the English language who is productive and quotable enough to stand near him: George Bernard Shaw.


Tuesday 7 August 2012

The therapy of sin


Sin induces guilt, and guilt craves therapy.

The physical problem is the guilt, but the metaphysical problem is sin.


Guilt can be induced in the absence of sin, guilt can be amplified to manipulate.

And therapy for guilt can be split off from sin - guilt can be removed by psychotherapy, which can be individual or social, and consists in denying the sin, or the reality of sin-as-such.

And therapy for guilt can be pharmacological (drugs - prescribed or not, such as alcohol).

And therapy for guilt can be to distract from guilt and displace it with another emotion (the mass media approach to therapy).


Do any of these affect the reality of sin? No - they affect the awareness of sin as a possibility and a state, they affect the awareness of sin as an emotion.

It is as if pain was abolished but not the pathological causes of pain - a person might be torn and mutilated or feverish and prostrated, but feel no pain and deny the reality of pathology.

Deny the need for a cure, reject even an effective cure if offered.


But this would be a delusion, a denial of reality - the denial of pathology being itself a pathology.

But how if the reality of reality was denied?

How if single, objective, eternal truth was regarded as a nonsense concept?

How if what someone felt (here and now) was all that was regarded as valid - and reality, pathology and sin were alike discredited as meaningless (indeed manipulative) concepts...


Once somebody was in that situation, once a society was in that situation - how could they ever get out from it - I mean escape logically, by argument?


Why would such a person, such a society, be interested by a savior, when they feel they have nothing to be saved-from except bad feelings induced by the idea that they might need saving?


Monday 6 August 2012

Intelligence, personality and genius


I have collected most of my blog postings and publications on the topics of Intelligence, Personality and Genius on an archival blog of that name

These constitute by far the most popular topic on which I blog - in terms of page views - so I thought that it might be convenient to have them lodged in one place.

If I have any more ideas on these themes, I will post here and archive a copy there.


What is the most urgent priority for the West? A litmus test


The Left (which is intrinsically, primarily secular) would answer something like... equality, social justice, an end to oppression... (yawn) or whatever...

The secular Right might answer something like law and order, an end to mass immigration, the restoration of patriarchy...

But the Christian Right would say mass conversion, a Great Awakening, a re-birth and growth of Christianity in the West (first repentance, then faith - in that order).


For the Christian Right, good can only come via Christianity - and to attempt to attain the good before Christianity is simply a direct route to Antichrist - that is, to evil in the guise of good, evil in Christ's name.


Thus the answer to the question of the most urgent priority for the West is a litmus test of basic political allegiance; and marks a cleavage line between Christian and secular politics.

A cleavage line where real Christians are on one side; and the seculars of various types and stripes are on the other side - fighting each other, but synergistically working-against Christianity (whether deliberately, directly and explicitly; or unconsciously, indirectly and implicitly).


For Christians (and all real Christians are on the Right - however confused they may be on this matter, whether they acknowledge this fact, or not) Christianity must come first immediately, cannot wait for anything, must not be put-off until after whatever: it is the priority now and forever.


How should we measure general intelligence using IQ tests?


General intelligence (g) is a construct used to explain that (in group studies) each and all cognitive abilities are co-correlated - being good at one implies being good at all the others. The hypothesis is that this co-correlation of abilities is due to a single underlying ability of general intelligence or g, with specific abilities (having various levels) on top of g.

Since g cannot be measured directly, IQ is derived from measuring cognitive abilities and putting people into rank order for ability - for instance, measuring one, several or a lot of cognitive abilities in 100 people, marking the test, then putting the 100 people into rank order (best to worst marks) - highest to lowest IQ.

(The validity of IQ testing comes from the fact (and it is a fact) that the rank order on the IQ test is statistically highly significantly correlated with a wide range of outcomes including exam performance, job performance, health and life expectancy.)


So IQ is ultimately a matter of rank order in tests.

The actual IQ score a person gets comes from a statistical manipulation of the rank order data, to make the distribution into a 'normal' or Gaussian curve, and the average score of a 'representative' population into 100 with (usually) a standard deviation of 15.

This is the 'standard curve' of IQ, since it is the standard against which individuals are measured.

The standard curve is constructed such that it describes the proportion of people that would get a particular IQ score - for example, an IQ of 115 is one standard deviation above the average and therefore about 16 percent of the population would have an IQ of 115 or above.


But there are difficulties in generating an IQ score for individual people, and in moving between the rank order data generated in a group study (used to generate the 'standard curve') and the score of an individual person doing an IQ test.


The individual score in an IQ test ought to be measuring a fundamental property of human ability (a property of the brain, roughly speaking).

Yet many or most IQ tests in practice require non-g abilities such as good eyesight, the ability to read, ability to move hands and fingers quickly and accurately; they require concentration (that a person not be distracted by pain or other interferences), many tests require stamina, a degree of motivation and conscientiousness in completing it... and so on.

In other words there are a range of non-g related factors which might reduce the test score for non-g reasons.

This means that the most valid measurement of intelligence is the highest measure of intelligence in a person.

So the best way to measure intelligence is for a person to do a series of IQ tests on different occasions and to take the highest score as the true-est score.


BUT this must also apply to the standard curve used to generate the IQ score.

The standard curve must be constructed from the highest IQ score of (say) 100 randomly chosen people - and these highest scores put into rank order and made into a normally distributed curve with the correct properties.


Yet this is not what happens.

The standard curve is typically generated using a one-off test on the representative sample, but the individual IQ is derived from the best performance in an IQ test - this systematically biases individual IQ scores towards being higher than they really are.


Of course, there are great logistical difficulties in using multiple tests (on several occasions) and best performances to generate a standard curve - much easier to get a representative group together just once for testing.

But this emphasizes the imprecision of individual measures of IQ.

If an individual gets their IQ score from a single test, it is likely to underestimate their real g, if the test is done in a way or at a time when their performance is impaired.

Yet if the individual has several tries at IQ test on different occasions, in order that their best possible level of performance be used to generate their real, underlying g, then this will overestimate their IQ.

(Doing several tests and taking an average does not work, because the bad performances drag-down the average.)


So, in practice and as things are - I do not feel that individual, one-off personal IQ measurements can be regarded as precise.

Probably individual IQ should be banded into roughly half-standard deviations.

Something like average as 96-104, above average as 105-114, high as 115-124, (above this 'g' begins to break-down as the component tests lose co-correlation) very high as 125-140, and above that we have the super-high and strange world of potential geniuses.

(Below average would probably be a mirror of this - but the meaning of low IQ is a bit more variable, and the levels may be very low.)

But IQ differences between individuals of less than half an SD (less than about 7 or 8) are uninterpretable - even around the average.