Saturday 30 November 2013

If you gave away antipsychotics/ mood stablizers, free of charge, to anybody who asked for them - almost-nobody would want them


The current mass drugging with antipsychotic/ neuroleptic drugs (now often re-named as 'mood stabilizers') is a phenomenon unique in the history of psychoactive drug over-use.

In the past, over-used psychiatric drugs were ones that made people feel obviously better in some obvious way - and they were drugs that therefore people wanted to take.

The over-prescription was mostly a matter of doctors giving-in to strong patient demand.

This would apply to nearly all of the blockbuster psychotropic drugs in the post 1945 period from 'minor tranquillizers' such as Miltown, Librium and Valium to psychostimulants such as Dexedrine, Ritalin and Provigil.

The minor tranquillizers reduce anxiety and make people feel relaxed and pleasant (much like alcohol) and improve sleep; psychostimulant increase energy, reduce fatigue, improve concentration, promote weight loss... People, understandably, want these effects, and therefore many people want to take these drugs.

But of course all these drugs also have undesirable and serious side effects, and most of these emerge only in the longer term; also they may also be addictive. And that is why a good doctor will advise caution with using these drugs - they are superficially and immediately appealing; but deep down and over time they may do more harm than the obvious benefit.

But basically these types of drugs make people feel better and in some ways function better - even though this may just be temporary.


However, antipsychotics/ neuroleptics do the opposite (pretty much) - they reduce energy and motivation, and make people feel indifferent and dulled at best, and miserable and unable to experience pleasure at worst - as well as creating dependence and having serious and often permanent side effects, especially a form of induced Parkinson's disease called Tardive Dyskinesia.


If you gave-away psychostimulants, or had them on sale at pharmacists without prescription and no advertizing, there would be vast demand - people want them...

But if you could give-away antipsychotics at the street corner to anybody who asked, and (after giving them a try) almost nobody would take them.

Who would anybody want to take a drug which made them feel like a zombie - dead inside?


Therefore the current mass drugging with antipsychotics/ mood stabilizers happens because, in one way or another, antipsychotics are being forced-upon people.

Traditionally, it required legal coercive power (or the threat of using such power) to force many or most patients to take antipsychotics. Patients usually needed to be forcibly committed to hospital, or put onto a compulsory treatment order - and given long acting injections whether they liked it or not...

But nowadays it is doctors 'strongly recommending' patients to take these drugs 'or else' something terrible will happen; or parents forcing their children to take antipsychotics/ neuroleptics on medical advice.

Essentially, the current mass usage of antipsychotics is evidence of an extraordinary level and effectiveness of propaganda - to the level of near-universal brain-washing - especially the widespread usage of "take them or else" terror tactics based on faked and incompetent pseudo-science.


Of course, once people have been bullied into taking antipsychotics for a few months, then they produce dependence, and it becomes difficult, sometimes impossible to stop taking them without very severe side effects such as a full-blown psychotic breakdown on withdrawal.

So people will continue taking the tablets, despite that they make you feel like a zombie.


My point is that there really is no precedent for what is happening now with mass usage of antipsychotics.

This phenomenon of mass drugging with agents that make people feel and function worse is evidence of the immense power of the psychiatric/ Big Pharma complex.

Mass drugging with anti-psychotics not only has nothing to do with patient demand, it has emerged in the teeth of patient demand - widespread antipsychotic usage is the opposite of patient demand.

But once the patients have been hooked on these drugs that make them feel worse, then they have no choice but to continue to demand them.


Therefore, in my opinion, the evil of the present situation is unique in the history of psychopharmacology - we are in new territory.

In the past profit was made from giving people what they wanted, but which would harm them in the long term; now profit is made from giving people what they do not want, and which will harm them in the long term. 

The situation is so bad that decent people cannot comprehend it, cannot believe it is really happening - has indeed already happened. 


Friday 29 November 2013

Is the human mind a product of natural selection? If so, we could not know it


We think we know that our minds are products of natural selection.

If so, then our minds are merely evolved adaptations selected because they were associated with differentially-higher reproductive success.

But a mind which is merely a consequence of natural selection to increase differential reproductive success, is not a mind selected to apprehend objectively true knowledge about the world.

Therefore, since it is a product of the human mind, which is not selected to know objective truth but merely to enhance reproductive success; knowledge of natural selection cannot be regarded as objectively true.


We do not know that our minds are products of natural selection.


When was I happy? Not when I used to think I was


When I look back on my life, I find that since being a Christian my memories have (mostly involuntarily) undergone considerable, radical re-evaluation - so that things I used to regard as happy events or happy times may now have been reallocated to a very different category: things I repent.

Contrariwise, that slender golden thread of personal memories which always went through, and referred to private and family things, solitary contemplation, a few writings and musical moments, mostly everydayness and seeming-triviality but seen in a numinous light.

Since I became a Christian, this thread has become clearer - more prominent, more luminous to memory - and following it back, I see that the happy times have a very mundane quality such that they are of essentially zero-interest to other people - and indeed inexplicable.

This perspective is very subversive of the way we talk about happiness  in which happiness is linked to doing certain types of event such as holidays, successes, the sepcial treat, the foreign and the spectacular.

Seldom do I read or speak of anything which captures the mundane reality of the deepest and true-est happiness.

But here is one, from Living at the End of Time by John Hanson Mitchell - 1990:


Whenever I crossed the meadow with my children on summer evenings the year I lived in my cottage, we would select a few stones from the ground and thrown them in front of... bats and watch them dive to investigate.

Sometimes it would seem to me, standing there in the pale evening while my children tossed stones to the sky, that this was the way the world should be-- a simple life without praise or blame, casting lures to bats on green evenings.

I know just what he means...


Thursday 28 November 2013

Old books about Mormons - more anti-Mormon than I could possibly have imagined...


I spent an interesting few hours looking through some old books about Mormons which were in the collection at The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne - a prestigious provincial club and library dating founded in 1793.

What I found surprised me in several ways. There were plenty of books on "The Mormons" dating from about 100 years ago - which was the first surprise; the second surprise was how very, very strongly anti-Mormon they were; the third surprise was the utterly outrageous things they said.

The oldest account was of Lord Redesdale's visit of 1873 (published in his Memoirs of 1915):

Brigham Young was all-powerful, bearing a more undisputed mastery than king or tsar or kaiser. He was a law unto himself, and had his Vehmgericht, or rather was also a secret court unto himself. True, there was no Folterkammer, no eiserne Jungfrau, but those old methods were out of date ; the revolver and the bowie-knife were swifter and as sure ; Jordan was the oubliette. There has been some attempt to deny the existence of the Danites or Destroying Angels who were Brigham Young's executioners. That is futile, for the men, as I can testify, were as well known in Salt Lake City as the Prophet, and the Old Man of the Mountain himself was not more faithfully or more bloodily served by his hashishin than was the Lion of the Lord by his band of bravos. There were whole-sale murders like the Mountain Meadow Massacre, but there were also other crimes, secret murders actuated by private spite, jealousy or lust, the stories of which are well known to those behind the scenes in Zion. It was not healthy for a man to incur the wrath of the Prophet or of the leading Saints. It was not conducive to long life to love a maid or wed a wife upon whom the eyes of one of the holy ones might have fallen.


The Mystery of Mormonism by Stuart Martin (1920) presents itself as a balanced view - in between the official church history and the more sensational anti-Mormon books.

Its introduction ends like this:

Since Mormonism was born in that small wood its story has been mostly tragic, with here and there a gleam of heroism lighting up the dull, terrible sadness of pitiful, wasted effort and misguided action. The scars of its sufferings are plainly marked upon Mormonism ; and, if the creed is to live, its final adjustment to the demands of the civilisation of the twentieth century has yet to be made. The author has tried to indicate what that adjustment demands of Mormonism, and how the finer men and women of the Church shrink from the coming crisis. When the adjustment takes place — as it inevitably will, though most likely by slow degrees — the Mormonism of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young will be strangled in Utah, and the last vestige of its abominations will disappear.

The final word is as follows:

As for the religious part of Mormonism, its doom is clear. It is the author's belief that before long it will be attacked, and it will crumble before the attack. Its wave of fervour is nearly spent, and in the day when it is finally attacked by its opponents this organisation, which has been a thorn in the flesh of the great American Republic since it was founded in 1830, will vanish as a creed. In that day Mormonism — the Mormonism which has quarrelled with every neighbour it has had, the Mormonism the history of which is one black page in the story of the United States — will cease to exist. Rent by internal schisms, attacked by forces as relentless as Knowledge and as powerful as Time, it will ultimately totter to a gaping grave ; to a tomb dug by itself. When that day comes, the last vestige of the abominations of Mormonism, as its founders intended it to be, will disappear from the earth, and the name of Joseph Smith will be but the memory of a man who, in his delusion, founded a gigantic fraud.


That may sound pretty extreme - however Brigham Young and the Mormon Empire by Frank J Cannon and George L Knapp (1913) goes even further. This has Brigham Young engaged in wholesale castration and assassination related to his "modern gospel of human sacrifice".

That's correct: human sacrifice.

After that there isn't really any further to go.


Still, the other books had their moments.

I Woodbridge Riley's The founder of Mormonism: a psychological study of Joseph Smith Jr (1902) has the following heading for its final section: "Was He Demented or Merely Degenerate" (he seems to suggest both at once).

R Kauffman and RW Kauffman take a different angle in The Latter Day Saints: a study of the Mormons in the light of economic conditions (1912) - they see the Mormon phenomena from a socialistic perspective in terms of just another instance of capitalistic exploitation, on a gigantic scale. But for the Kauffman's that is all any religion ever is.


If the books written about the Mormons were indescribably hostile and foolish - books written by visitors to Salt Lake City tended to be very positive.

Charles B Spahr wrote an interesting account of America's Working People (1899,1900) in which he visited New England, Chicago, The South and various other places to report on conditions. He was very impressed, on the whole, by what he saw in Salt Lake City:

The general level of morality is unquestionably high. Inquiry at police headquarters confirmed the Mormon claim that the Mormon population hardly figured at all among those arrested for crime or disorder, or among those who ministered for gain to criminal and vicious tastes.

But the statistics were the least trustworthy signs of the high morality. The real evidence of it was in the care for the poor, the temperance, the thrift, and the public spirit, that were apparent.

There was, however, one point upon which the impression revived was distinctly unfavourable, and this was the supremely important matter of sexual morality. (...) But what I heard from frank and conscientious Mormons in deprecation of these charges, even more than what I heard from Gentiles in their support, convinced me that the sin of polygamy in the fathers was bearing its fitting fruit in an epidemic of sexual immorality among the children. (...)

Nevertheless the impressions I received in the streets and from the testimony of scandal-hating people, without regard to creed, convinced me that sexual morality in Utah was much lower than in any other American community I had visited, and but little higher than in Continental Europe.


That point point about sexual morality being a weak point (the one-and-only weak point) of Mormons a century ago, makes for an interesting contrast with modern times. And it is perhaps an encouragement to modern Mormons.


A Church of England Priest the Rev. HW Haweis published Travel Talk in 1896 in which he reported on a vist to Salt Lake City of 1893:

...what I saw and what everyone may see spoke for itself. I saw a happy and contented people, a clean and sanitary city (...) neat houses and prosperous farms, well-behaved children, venerable elders, agreeable and cultivated ladies... 


The fascinating thing is that we now know that the travellers' eye witness accounts were correct, and the surprising numbers of people who wrote specialist (referenced, supposedly scholarly) books about 'The Mormons' - several of which were distributed some 5000 miles way to Newcastle upon Tyne England - were wrong; very wrong, absurdly and wickedly wrong.

This strikes me as an early example of political correctness based on and in the mass media. 


One more matter. When I became interested in Mormonism a few years ago I got the impression that the Mountain Meadows Massacre was something which had been hidden and suppressed until recently; and it was an atrocity that modern Mormons were supposedly having to come to terms with.

Not so. It features in all these early anti-Mormon books and the Rev Haweis goes so far as to remark on the "everlastingly quoted Mountain Massacre".

So, not such new news, after all...


All in all - my morning in the library confirms CS Lewis's advice on the value of Reading Old Books.


Wednesday 27 November 2013

Why does the Nazgul's pterodactyl smell so bad?


What is that elusive 'real intellectual' quality?


I am a 'real' intellectual - and have been since I was a small child, when people used to call me Professor.

But I do not think this is a matter of IQ - or at least that is not what makes me an intellectual while most people with the same or higher IQ are not intellectuals.


In fact, most of the most highly intelligent people are certainly not intellectuals in the sense that I mean.

And some not very intelligent people by adult standards certainly are intellectuals - in other words youngish children who would score less than average (less than 100) on an adult-marked IQ test; yet who very obviously are intellectuals, as I was.


Furthermore, in modern culture, the overwhelming majority of the most successful people in intellectual domains are not intellectuals - although they may be, usually are, clever enough to disguise themselves as intellectuals in their public productions, such as writings, if they want to - and this disguise may be very difficult to penetrate, even for another intellectual - but if you happen to meet them it is very soon obvious that they are faking it.


So, being a 'real' intellectual is not primarily about high cognitive ability - although it seems to require high cognitive ability. There is some qualitative difference or distinction which marks an intellectual, and from early childhood - and it is more like a bias than an ability, and it is a masculine quality - yet it is not detected by standard personality testing... 

It seems that some sympathetic and objective non-intellectuals can detect this quality in children, but they tend to get it mixed up with cognitive ability - so anyone who excels at exams or other educational evaluations gets regarded as 'an intellectual'; so the category of intellectual gets swamped by non-intellectual (sometimes extremely non-intellectual) high achievers.


My impression is that intellectuals can recognize each other, and perhaps only intellectuals can reliably detect this quality - just as only highly gifted 'musical' people can detect natural musicality in others - although modern life seems designed to suppress the natural ability to make this distinction, as well as to prevent anyone acting upon it.


I get the strong feeling (reading history) that much of intellectual life used to be dominated by real intellectuals such as myself - who were picked-out, identified during childhood by other intellectuals - 'given' a niche in the intellectual world, and trained for it by prolonged apprenticeship (while allowing that mistakes are made and corruption occurs so that non-intellectuals would sometimes be selected by error or for wrong reasons)...

- rather than (as now) real intellectuals competing for niches via competitive evaluations; excellence in which is always quantitatively dominated by non-intellectuals.


But probably, the non-competitive, 'recognition' system can only work when the intellectual niche is not especially comfortable, when in fact the job of being an intellectual is materially poor and in some ways deprived; so that nobody would want to 'be an intellectual' unless it suited their nature.

Or, on the other hand, when the intellectual world is primarily amateur; then a 'pure' system of selection by-intellectuals-for-intellectuals could (and sometimes does) operate.

Or a mixture of both - as when universities were dominated by a combination of impoverished scholarship boys, paid for by some form of chritable patronage, and self-funded amateurs from a wealthy background.  


Tuesday 26 November 2013

Patience is a virtue - but why?


Pacience is a poynt, thagh hit displese ofte.

Opening phrase of Pacience, a Middle English poem by "The Gawain Poet". Poynt means virtue. 


That patience is a virtue, and why patience is necessary, is evidence of the fundamental nature of reality.

So often, we are taught by the best authorities, patience is the proper Christian response. Not always appropriate - but certainly patience is usually both necessary and good.


But why? Why is patience needed? Why cannot things be as they will be, as they should be: but NOW?

The answer is: Because Time is linear, sequential: Because the world is causal, and causes and effects take time to eventuate: Because things take time to happen - and in the mean-time we must wait.


It takes time to get from situation A to situation B - and in between the two situations of A and B may be the free will, the agency of sentient beings, which may help or may hinder; thus the pathway from A to B may not be predetermined, even when the fact of eventually moving from A to B is certain. Reality may need to take a variety of routes, to find a way around, to fulfil the will of God - and this takes time.

To be impatient is to deny this fundamental reality; to be impatient is to deny the reality of reality - that is nihilism.


Why don't things happen instantly? If they could, then patience would not be necessary and would not be a virtue. 

If the ultimate reality of the universe was that there was no Time, that ultimately reality was outside of Time - and if God was omnipotent, and if everything that happened anywhere was God's direct doing - then there would be no need for Patience because things could be made SO in an instant.

But because the universe is within Time, things cannot be made SO in an instant; but events must work through in sequence - which takes time.


Even the salvation of Man took time to work-through - hundreds or thousands of years from Adam to Christ, filled with prophets and History; some thirty years of the life of Christ - the hours in the Garden of Gethsemane and the hours on the cross; the dozens of hours from Good Friday to Easter Day. And so on.

If the coming of Christ and his work took place in historical Time, linearly and sequentially - we can only infer that this was necessary; it was necessary because that is how reality really is.


Things almost-never are done in an instant - to wish that this were so may be a snare; things almost-always need to be worked-through.

And in the mean-time: we must be patient.


Monday 25 November 2013

Today the single most profitable drug in the world is an antipsychotic - the same type of drug that was given to Soviet dissidents in psychiatric prisons


Medicine is going backwards overall - especially psychiatry - due to gross over-prescription of ineffective, unneccessary, harmful and dangerous drugs that ought to be used rarely (if at all) - supported by an ocean of pseudo-scientific research of extreme and calculated dishonesty.


The best example of the phenomenon is that Ablify/ aripiprazole is the biggest selling drug in the world (1.5 Billion dollars of sales in a Quarter - that is to say SIX BILLION dollars per year).

Aripiprazole is an antipsychotic/ neuroleptic major tranquilliser that works by inducing Parkinson's disease in a dose-related fashion.

In particular, antipsychotics demotivate people, rendering them passive and indifferent. It was for this reason that antipsychotics were forcibly prescribed to political dissidents and Party opponents in the psychiatric prisons of the Soviet Union.

The antipsychotic drugs also cause a form of permanent Parkinsonian brain damage called Tardive Dyskinesia. They also cause increased rates of suicide.

In the West these drugs were traditionally given for Schizophrenia and a few other severe psychotic states; but real schizophrenia was never common and is becoming rarer:

The excuse for zombifying so many millions of modern people, including children, with antipsychotics is by creating a new (fake) diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

And 'treating' this fake diagnosis with antipsychotics re-named as a new (fake) category of drugs called 'mood stabilizers' -


Antipsychotics aside, a look through the other agents on the Wikipedia list of largest grossing pharmaceuticals as of June 2013 is to see a litany of mostly actively harmful (on average) and inferior agents ('me-too' derivatives of of 'me-too' derivatives); combined with the outcome of gross overprescriptions of grossly overpriced useful drugs of modest value to small numbers of people with rare conditions (but with prescriptions amplified by sales manipulations - such as the use of randomized controlled trials used as marketing tools).

This list of drugs is a microcosm of what is wrong with modern medicine; and the amount of money listed in the sales column tells us why.

We are living through a truly staggering era of high profit mass poisoning by prescribed pharmaceuticals, masquerading as the era of 'Evidence Based Medicine'.

Things are almost certainly much, much worse than you realize.

It is distinctly likely that you yourself are already a past or present victim of (unneccessary) prescribed pharmaceutical poisoning - and almost certain that (assuming present practices continue) you will soooner or later become one.


Read Pharmageddon by David Healy - 2012 to appreciate the scope and scale of this.

What would happen if The Right 'rebooted' modernity, purged the mass media and took over all leadership positions? Or, How the mass media is like the One Ring


A comment to yesterday's post from 'Christian in Hollyweird' suggested a comparison between the mass media and the One Ring of Tolkien; and asks Boromir's question - can we use the One Ring against Sauron?

In other words, can the mass media be used against the Left?

This is a good question - indeed it is a test question for my thesis that the modern Left IS the modern mass media - in a definition of the mass media to include not just print, broadcast and internet media - but also government propaganda (civil administration), education and all other few-to-many communication systems.


An example of the Boromir parallel would be the idea, proposed by Mencius Moldbug and taken-up by many of the blogosphere secular Right, of taking-over the mass media in toto - by purging the mass media leadership of all Leftists and replacing them with sensible, realistic people (i.e. Rightists).

What would happen if this societal 'reboot' was to succeed and the Right really did take-over?


The two possibilities are 1. That the vast power of the mass media/ One Ring would become available to the forces of Good; or 2. That the mass media - being intrinsically Leftist - would inevitably turn the Right into the Left.

To me it seems obvious that the second possibility would certainly happen - the Right would become the Left; because the nature of the mass media is that it cannot be used, but will itself use.


(In this sense the mass media has used the Old Left, and now cast it aside. Because for a century or more the Old Left was focused on the proletariat, the native-born working man, and his grouping such as Trades Unions. The mass media/ primary-Left is primarily anti-Good; and this true Leftism used the partial-Leftism of the partly-Good Old Left (with its genuine desire to alleviate poverty, its William Morrisite socialist utopias, its residual ethical/ Christian aspects) for as long as this worked towards net destruction. But now, the New Left is much more wholly destructive, and its old-time heroes of the proletariat are not just cast-aside and ignored, but their destruction is actively-sought and well-advanced.)


The Right could only sustain the power of the mass media in its vast attention-seeking, mind-filling and hyper-addictive form by subordinating itself to the fundamental grammar of the mass media, its modus operandi, the evaluations of the mass media - and by so doing, the Right would become Leftist - which is to say subversive, destructive, anti-reality - hence reality-denying or 'nihilist': hence anti-Good.


My conclusion is that the choice is we can have either The Good or The Mass Media - since the mass media cannot be taken-over by The Right, only the reverse.

Therefore, for a society to reverse Leftism entails destroying (not taking-over) the mass media; and, in our own individual minds, escaping the toils of Leftism means first to escape from the mass media in our lives.

So Gandalf was correct and Boromir was wrong: nobody can use the Ring to overcome the Dark Lord without himself becoming a Dark Lord.


Sunday 24 November 2013

God of the philosophers versus God of revelation


CS Lewis cited by Martin Moynihan

From a memoir I sleep but my heart watcheth - in the collection We Remember CS Lewis edited by David Graham , 2001:

[A questioner]: "Well, what is God?"

That's a facer, one thought.

"God", said Lewis, "is self-subsistent being, cause of himself."


Lewis's definition is of the God of the Philosophers - a philosophical definition of God. Thus an inferred definition, a definition which could be made only by a trained intellectual, and only be understood by a trained intellectual.


Blaise Pascal in the appendix to Pensees, describing his religious experience as noted down and carried by him:

"God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob - not of the philosophers and scholars." 

Pascal's answer to the question of 'What is God' is therefore NOT to describe God in terms of a philosophical definition nor of His Properties; but to say God is He that is told-of in the Bible, He that is Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ - and also our Father - we being his children. 

Pascal's answer is history, fact, story - explicitly not philosophy. 


Lewis's answer was designed to be acceptable to, find common ground with, a non-Christian intellectual who already believed in the categories and methods of Classical Philosophy - but the cost was to build-into Christianity, from its very axiomatic definitional basis, a set of philosophical categories and assumptions which have nothing to do with actual revelation - nothing to do with the described experiences of the ancient Hebrew Prophets of the Old Testament and how they knew God; nor with the teachings and actions of Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament. 


Pascal (himself one of the greatest of philosophers) was teaching that the proper answer to What is God is to refer to revelation, to our knowledge and understanding of the experiences and teachings of scripture and Christian authorities. 

It is NOT to answer with philosophical definitions that 1. Beg all the most important questions and 2.  Put God onto an intellectual plane incomprehensibly far above 99 percent of humans - past, present or future. 


Pure utilitarianism in The day of the Doctor - Dr Who 50th anniversary episode


No spoilers coming-up in this, BTW - the following is an abstract discussion. 

I watched the 'Dr Who' 50th anniversary edition yesterday having begun to watch in 1965 with The Web Planet - I use the scare quotes to indicate that although the revived series (since 2005) has many enjoyable aspects - the modern protagonist is not the real Doctor Who since he 1. Behaves like a superhero and 2. Is a sexual being - who makes frequent smutty comments and snogs girls almost as much as did Captain Kirk.

Anyway, the episode was enjoyable in the series's now usual flashy and self-referential way, and with sweetness and depth to it in parts.

But it revealed the inadequacy of the utilitarian ethic that forms the basis for 'Dr Who' and many other similar adventure series: I mean the idea that 'The Doctor''s goal is to save lives and prevent or alleviate suffering, on the largest scale possible.

So the dilemma for much of the Day of the Doctor episode revolved around how many people's lives could/ would be saved if 'The Doctor' does X, compared with if he did Y (when both X and Y led to extremely large numbers of innocent casualties).

I think the starkness with which this dilemma was presented in Day of the Doctor showed very clearly that utilitarianism does not work as an ethical frame and leads to morally unacceptable dilemmas - when both options are wrong - and in which ethical 'deliberation' is reduced to an elite expert combination of knowledge and skill, concerned with numbers, statistics and probabilities.

(I won't say how this specific dilemma was solved/ avoided - but the method is itself specific, not general, because it leaves utilitarianism intact as the underlying ethic, without solving the serious problem of inadequacy revealed so starkly in the earlier plot.)


Saturday 23 November 2013

Mass media mini-book coming-up - It is NOT about who is holding the megaphone


I've recently finished the first draft of a mini-book on the modern mass media - a subject which I have been blogging about for a while. It'll emerge, in due course, from the University of Buckingham Press who also published Thought Prison and Not Even Trying.

As usual, I go further than anybody else in stating my case - and will presumably end-up by alienating all moderate and sensible people!

The world view depicted is one in which the mass media (regarded as a system) has become the centre of Leftism (hence the centre of anti-Christianity); and therefore the main headquarters of Satan in the world today.

The book depicts a world not of media 'bias', but a world where both the form and content of the mass media combine first to erode, then to make almost impossible, The Good.

This is NOT a matter of who is holding the megaphone - which is the current semi-correct/ mostly-wrong secular Right explanation - instead the mass media is the megaphone, but nobody else is holding it.

Rather the megaphone is holding everything else - who are trapped by their addiction to what the mass media provides - the mass media is now primary reality in the secular West.

Thus it is not the usage of a 'neutral' mass media which is evil, but the existence, the actuality of the mass media which is itself intrinsically evil - the displacement of real reality by mass media representations is in itself the insanity and wickedness of the politically correct Left.

So self-cure of media addiction becomes the first and essential step in soul-saving; and autonomy from the mass media, indispensable to a true religious revival.  


Friday 22 November 2013

Sex scandals are more common (and worse, and indeed actively-promoted) in an age of moral relativism


The latest major UK sex/ fraud/ incompetence scandal

shows the open-ended corruption which is made possible by abandoning objective Christian sexual morality.

The point about the Reverend Paul Flowers is typical of modern sex scandals - he was somebody who already  - openly, explicitly, boastfully - engaged in sexual practices that clearly transgressed traditional Christian morality.

Indeed, it seems he was admired for doing so, and this is not surprising since sexually transgressive behaviour is nowadays regarded as admirable, and taken as a positive qualification for any high status job.


Modern sexual morality is merely a matter of some sort of fluid, arbitrary, legal borderline between acceptable and unacceptable, morally-OK and morally-wrong.

Modern sexual morality is unclear, it is constantly shifting, it is a matter of opinion - when the rules change then (supposedly) right and wrong changes along with them...

So, the situation is in place where a person in a position of responsibility has been appointed with full (insider) knowledge of their non-traditional sexual behaviour - and there is no point at which is becomes clearly necessary to stop them, because all their transgressive sexual behaviours up to that point have been tolerated or even approved.


The scandal of Jimmy Savile revealed that he practiced mass-production assembly-line promiscuity in the BBC London studios - and that 'everybody' knew about this, the behaviour was tolerated by all, and no doubt envied by some of those who tolerated it.

Wholesale, aggressive, crude promiscuity did not stop Savile being awarded a British knighthood and a Vatican knighthood (he was probably the best-known Roman Catholic in the UK); it did not stop him being on close personal terms with the Queen and the Prime Minister and so on downwards.


So, where is the line of sexuality? The answer is clear but unwelcome to modernity - the line is drawn by traditional Christian marriage.

Attempts to draw a wider line of morally acceptable sexuality have all failed, because the line will not hold.

Indeed, it seems clear that the forces of evil only ever want to move the line in order to move it again and further until all lines seems arbitrary - and morality is re-defined as doing whatever you want, so long as you can get away with it.

The legalization of routine divorce was - it turned out - only a prelude to the dilution, then destruction, mockery and demonization, of real marriage. Likewise, the acceptability of extra-marital sex was - it turned out - only a prelude to the likes of Jimmy Savile and Paul Flowers - and all the others who preceded them, and more that we do not know about.


Thursday 21 November 2013

What was the Middle Ages about?


By C.S Lewis's account, France was the centre of Medieval Europe - and the centre of French medieval life was scholastic philosophy (University of Paris), courtly love (the Arthurian cycle, the Song of Roland) and the Crusades - and the great Cathedrals, especially Chartres.

[CS Lewis. What France Means to You, 1944 - republished in We Remember CS Lewis edited by David Graham, 2001].

Given that this characterization also applies to at least the mainstream and high status part of English life, this explains why I can never wholly 'get behind' the Middle Ages - why I can't ever really regard it as a golden age - and certainly not as the ideal or best age.

The core of the mental life of the middle ages (with the exception of the great cathedrals) include things that I roundly dislike (courtly love) and the others about which I am decidedly ambivalent (scholastic philosophy and the cathedrals).

This even affects my appreciation of the truly great trio of English medieval poets - Chaucer, Langland and the Gawain poet.

I love them all, but not whole-heartedly - rather in selective parts; thus I cannot regard myself as a true-blue medievalist: not a solid Chestertonian, nor even a full-blown Lewisite.


Wednesday 20 November 2013

Group portrait of an Inklings meeting?


The big problems (usually) cannot be averted - but that does not mean we should continue to make them worse


Yesterday's post was an attempt to describe the problem of overpopulation - which is not something that can be understood by focusing purely on population: indeed the bulk of the problem arises from the mind-set which sees 'population' statistics (numbers of people) as as isolate-able concept.


But over-population is linked to differential population reproduction - such that the average individual in The West is in the mid forties, while in other parts of the world in their late teens.

(Just think about that! Some places where half the population is above 44; others where half the population is below 18!)

And differential population growth/ decline is related to massive recent and current population migrations.

And both population growth/ decline and movements are linked to massive cross subsidies from developed places and people to undeveloped places and people.


The general perception of this whole thing is embedded in the weird world view of the New Left secularism - so that in the first place people are unaware of what is happening, in the second place they are not allowed to discuss what is happening, in the third place insofar as they have any opinions on what is happening they are either wrong or irrelevant...

At the end of the day - if the reality of the world situation can be communicated - then it is simply too much for people to take on board; because the problems are so vast, and probably - very probably - some kind of vast crisis seems unstoppable.

So often this is the case: the people who advocate looking at the Big Picture are either dishonest about what they see; or if they are honest, their heads explode.


My angle is that it is not up to us to look at the Big Picture and solve all problems before they arise; but to try and be sensible and prudent - in particular to try and stop making things worse.

What is happening nowadays, in terms of population, is very bad indeed; not just because of over-population, but because of the changes in the composition and distribution of over-population; because of what fuels over-population - the unrealism, the inability to acknowledge the consequences of short term action, the inability to make tough decisions which are worse in the short term in order to be better in the longer term - and an hysterical perspective which has it that dumb, selfish, short-termism is the only compassionate way to behave...

The current situation is that people continue to do almost everything possible that makes the population problem worse - now and into the future; and they do this (in a sense) because they cannot see a way of curing the problem.


Because we cannot altogether prevent disaster, people continue making the situation worse; in effect people refuse to stop behaving badly, because to behave properly would not be a complete answer.

We thus have a public, and increasingly private, ethic of helplessness; based on dichotomous thinking of an all or nothing kind - characterized by the set-up that because 'all' is impossible, therefore we must chose nothing; because behaving as sensibly as we can does not solve all the problems and may not avert disaster, then we might as well do nothing - indeed, the reasoning goes that we therefore might as well continue to make matters worse...

I don't think this is a caricature: I think this is how people so things nowadays; how people excuse themselves from even trying to behave sensibly.


Across the board we see a pattern of denying that there is a problem until the point when it becomes so big as to be undeniable; at which point its size becomes a reason for doing nothing - not even changing the direction of our efforts - because 'it is too late'.

This is a sickness, a state of sin, at the heart of our secular hedonic Leftist civilization - it is a product of profound existential despair, and the cowardice of demotivation - it is permeating a lot of people, right into their hearts - and it will be fatal unless cured.


Tuesday 19 November 2013

Why do demographers keep under-estimating the size of peak world population?


Why do population projections keep underestimating the size at which world population is supposed to level-off, so that maximum population keeps getting revised upwards?


The answer is that demographic projections are typical of the social sciences in regarding all humans everywhere as interchangeable units (after controlling for age and sex differences) - and therefore the population projections have two false built-in assumptions:

1. That all populations in the world are the same in terms of psychology - and will therefore behave the same way given the same environmental stimuli.

This is false with respect to races, and also religions/ no religion.


2. That human psychology remains constant over time - that the population-relevant behavioural characteristics are not changing over time - not undergoing 'secular changes'.

This is also false. Since both are highly heritable general intelligence is declining while heritable personality is changing due to differential fertility (only slightly modified by differential childhood mortality - which is nowadays very low) - in ways that will reduce economic productivity.

Indeed, I believe (based on historical changes in simple reaction time data) that the rate of change in human psychology is very much faster (about twice as fast) as most people have so far assumed.


But as well as applying biologically due to natural selection, secular change in human psychology also applies at a societal level due to cultural selection - for example, secularization and apostasy have been a major reason for the collapse of fertility below replacement level in all developed countries.

Furthermore, the work of Eric Kauffmann shows that those religions, and especially traditional (anti-modern) denominations within religions, that support larger families are growing in their differential representation - which amplifies future population growth when offspring are retained within fertile denominations.


So we can be reasonably confident that the world population will keep growing until something stops it - famine and disease probably, backed by lethal violence, and perhaps (in the West) the novel phenomenon of mass suicide.

Or maybe the ruling elites will escape mass media influence, snap-out-of their Leftist psychosis, embrace real Christianity, and take sensible action to prevent the mega-horrors to come?

Ha! Only kidding...


Monday 18 November 2013

The over-promoted society versus the over-competent society


We live in an over-promoted society

And the basic reason for this is a two-fold consequence of the industrial revolution:

1. The industrial revolution led to a rapid increase in economic productivity which led to increased per-capita wealth, reducing mortality rates (especially childhood mortality) and driving an expansion of the population.

2.  The reduction on childhood mortality differentially applied to the children of the poorest, least intelligent, least hard-working, most impulsive, sickest - i.e. the least 'fit' in biological terms; such that after a few generations reproductive success became almost entirely a matter of fertility; and the wealthiest, most intelligent, hardest-working, most diligent and healthiest used modern technology to reduce their fertility to significantly sub-replacement levels.


Therefore, at the same time as economic opportunities were expanding (due to increasing productivity) the abilities of the population were declining - resulting in a double-whammy of over-promotion.

Offspring generations who were less cognitively competent than their parents generation (and, offspring who were indeed, on average, less cognitively competent than their own parents - due to the accumulation of deleterious mutations) - would nonetheless end-up working in a job requiring greater cognitive competence than their parents.

Such that there has been a perceptible decline in the competence of each functional stratum of complexity to make the over-promoted society in which we live - a society where (for instance) people who would make a poor-quality mid-level bureaucrat are actually allocated to jobs requiring a high-quality high-level bureaucrat.

And of course they can't do the jobs, so the jobs are either done badly or simplified towards a level where they can be done adequately - by enforcing routinization, protocols, strict procedures and the like.


In the Middle Ages the situation was the opposite - the Middle Ages was an over-competent society.

Most of the children who survived to adulthood were children of the middle and upper classes - yet there were insufficient social niches at their parents' level for them to occupy, since there was essentially a fixed number of positions at each occupational level: a fixed number of Priests, clerks, merchants, skilled craftsmen etc. - and any expansion of their numbers would simply suppress their standard of living.

Only a very small proportion of the children of the lowest classes, the mass of peasants, would survive to adulthood. (I will leave out the small number of landed aristocracy from this analysis.)

This meant that there was continual net downward-mobility; with the children of the skilled middle class necessarily going down the social scale to become low-skill or unskilled landless farmers, serfs, peasants and the like.

Since cognitive ability and personality is mostly hereditary; consequently, people at each each social stratum tended to be over-competent for the jobs they did - in cognitive terms they could easily master their jobs, and could have worked at a higher level - but could not do so because there were no available occupational niches.


This was the world up to about 1800. A world in which there was more talent than could be used. Where almost everybody could easily master their job.

There was no point in training or educating more people for skilled middle class jobs, because these jobs could not be expanded - there were as many people in skilled jobs as was 'needed' (i.e. as many as could be paid for).

This was a society of great demand for education from the over-competent lower orders, where the ploughboy or shepherd could be a great poet, of hunger for books and information, where there was great scriptural and devotional knowledge and long complex sermons in church, a society of mutual and self-education, and one of widespread 'home schooling' (there was a high level of home taught literacy in England long before there were many schools).


After the Industrial Revolution suddenly there was more money, more food, more resources - and there was all this over-competent talent apparently 'trapped' in the lower orders.

And this was the world in which socialism emerged - socialism in its earliest form of a meritocracy of the talents; a society in which the highest positions would be open to those of ability as well as (or instead of) to those of noble birth; socialism as in essence a facilitating of the movement from the middle to upper class; but also - and increasingly - rationalized by facilitating the movement from lower to middle classes.


But now, a century and a half down the line - or more - we have a very different world in which there is no problem of talent trapped in the lower orders, but rather of a generalized deficiency in the kind of abilities necessary to renew, sustain and run the kind of complex society we have inherited; and in which there is a continual dumbing-down of public discourse and educational standards, rampant cheating in exams that are anyway undiscriminating with respect to intelligence, widespread lack of enthusiasm/  resistance to education - and all the rest of it.

This (and more) is the result of the transition from an over-competent to an over-promoted society; ultimately driven by demographic change combined with a reversal of the direction of natural selection from advantaging greater 'fitness' to lesser fitness...

Or, more exactly, a change in the nature of the 'fitness' that it has selected to such an extent that modern biological fitness - meaning those traits which reproductively are advantaged - is almost the opposite of what fitness was 400 years ago.


The family metaphor/ reality combines unity with difference


It is very difficult in theology to avoid either:

1. Collapsing everything into a single static ONE.

2. Breaking-up everything into a multitude of distinct and autonomous MANYS.

The metaphor (or reality) of family relations is one way - probably the only easily-comprehensible and psychologically-effective way - of doing this.


In a family all are related - hence there is unity; but each family member is a recognized individual, one-of-a-kind (even among identical twins) - hence there is uniqueness.

(At a higher level, each family is linked with others in a 'clan' or extended-family - hence unity; yet each family is recognized as different. And so-on upward. )


Break the family, and this breaks down.

In modern secular society each person is either one of humankind - which is so large a unity that it has no felt unity in the absence of smaller, nested, hierarchical unities (not least since the borders between humans and animals are fuzzy, for secular modernity); and there is the individual, one of a kind person - but so individual (one is six billion) as to be incomprehensible.

To have a unity of seven billion and a uniqueness of one-in-six-billion are necessarily abstractions; and abstractions are psychologically unreal - so a person's unity with other and also their individuality become alike theoretical rather than experiential.

Alienation from the group, anomie of the individual... That's modernity; that is the lived reality for many, and the reality for all on the other side of the destruction of the family.


So the family is indispensable for society - and the truth of family relations also indispensable for theology; because only life as essentially familial can explain, in a way that is both comprehensible and real, how it is that the world is both one and many - that everything is both God and also itself.


Sunday 17 November 2013

Modernity: social differentiation but biological de-differentiation


The systems theorist Niklas Luhmann defined modernity in terms of functional differentiation - that social functions become increasingly specialized and autonomous (yet coordinated) - for example the division of labour in a factory, or the economy; or the specialization of philosophy from theology, science from philosophy, biology from science, and zoology from biology.

When exactly this differentiation began is difficult to be sure, but clearly it accelerated from the industrial revolution.

However, shortly afterwards it seems that the biological specialization between human beings may have begun to undergo accelerating de-differentiation.


The theory runs like this: for almost all of human history, there was a very powerful selection pressure acting upon infants and children - far more babies reached advanced pregnancy and were born than  survived to adulthood and themselves reproduced (this especially applied to males, among whom losses were greater at every stage - unless this pattern was specifically affected by contrary social practices).

But from the industrial revolution onwards, this stopped happening. A greater and greater proportion of infants reached adulthood, until in some parts of the world it approached 100 percent - and (probably) the major selection pressure of human history all-but ceased to operate.

Since each human is born with a few new and damaging genetic mutations, this implies a generation-upon-generation accumulation of deleterious genes.


What effect would this have? Well, as Geoffrey Miller has described - since about half of genes are involved in brain function, the brain is a huge 'mutational target' - so deleterious mutations probably affect brain function more than anything else.

This, I guess, is a major cause for the substantial decline in intelligence (measured objectively by simple reaction times) since the industrial revolution. (I am assuming that intelligence is something related to speed and efficiency of central nervous system processing; impaired by the same process that impairs reaction times).

But another affect would (I think) be a reduction in specialization; a reduction in the differences between people in terms of their specialized abilities - a reduction in high levels of specific excellence.

This would mean that differences between people in terms of functional ability would become more a matter of random variation (merely due to the deleterious effects of genetic mutations, pulling each person down from optimal functioning in different ways and by different degrees simply according to the actions of these mutations); and less a matter of different people having different specifically evolved adaptations.


So, it may be that the same broad period of human history - the modern era, post-industrial revolution - has been witnessing an increase in social complexity (differentiation) but a decrease in biological complexity (of differences between people related to specialized human abilities).

And perhaps that the reduction in biological complexity is now affecting social complexity - first causing a plateau in social complexity, then a decline in social complexity - a simplifying, a de-differentiation of society - for example in the imposition of crude political ideas over all functional social systems (ie political correctness/ New Leftism).


Saturday 16 November 2013

The meaning of life and/or being alive


Joseph Campbell - from The Power of Myth:

People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That's what it's all finally about. 


Before I became a Christian I was a kind of New Agey, neo-Pagany kind of person - and I owned some thirty or more books by and about the Jungian mythologist Joseph Campbell. 

On the other side of conversion, I can see that although Campbell was anti-Christian (or rather, post-Christian: believing that Christianity was utterly discredited and exploded by modernity) he was importantly right about many things - but that, again and again, he fell down in his reasoning by creating artificial dichotomies - as with the above quotation.


I would modify the above quote to read something like:  

People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. That is true; but it is not enough. 

What we are also seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and also with God (in other words with reality); so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive as well as knowing where our life should be aiming, and why.

That's what it's all finally about.


I think Campbell was correct in recognizing that modern Western Christian life, perhaps especially church life, is often deficient in the experience: the resonance, the rapture, of being alive. 

But this is not a fault in Christianity as such - but in the partiality and biases of some denomination or groups of people - sometimes driven by motives of caution and fear about the possibility of demonic influences getting mixed-up with the rapture of being alive. 


I personally find that Christianity has greatly amplified and enhanced my experiences of 'being alive' because now I know what to do with these experiences - I know that they are real (not illusions), objective (not subjective), permanent (not as evanescent as my memory), and significant (being the elements of Heaven). 

Whereas Campbell could only say that these things were a part of human psychology - at most a part of universal human psychology (the collective unconscious) - therefore just temporarily important for personal fulfillment and growth; and in terms of the universe as a whole: nothing.


So, my opinion is that Joseph Campbell was right to highlight an important and debilitating deficiency of much modern Christianity, wrong to assume that his Jungian mythologizing solved it; and wrong to assume that Christianity was incapable of absorbing what was valid and good about his mythological insights. 


Friday 15 November 2013

How do Leftists continue to feel rebellious when they have won?


Although Leftism is dominant in all of the developed world, and ever-more-tightly controls all the large and powerful social structures, Leftists continue to feel that they are rebels.

This seems absurd in terms of power structures, but the truth is that the Left really are perpetual rebels - whatever has happened they want more. Whatever 'progress' has been made, in their hearts they feel (correctly) that in reality nothing-has-changed.

This was brought to mind by an advertisment for a conference promoting (not discussing!) better jobs for women in higher education. Women wanted access to university - they got it; women's colleges - they got them; abolition of men's colleges - got it; a majority of undergraduates - got it; equal numbers of junior academics - got it; leadership of the two most prestigious universities in the world (Harvard and Cambridge) - got it... Relevant laws and regulations deliberately, explicitly and quite openly and proudly favour women.

And yet, and yet... things are really, at root, when you look closely enough - still 'the same', still unequal; and therefore higher education apparently needs re-organising, permanently to enforce the domination of women (qua women) on pretext of eradicating the remaining inequalities.

So, plenty of work for the radicals still to do! And if they get what they want today, then they will have another shopping list by tomorrow.

To be a Leftist is indeed a state of perpetual rebellion, because no matter how far you have pushed, there is always another boundary to transgress and some resistance to further transgression. And so long as there are boundaries and resistance, then the situation is still - in essence - 'the same' - the plucky radical rebel bravely fighting against the overwhelmingly greater forces of reaction and oppression.

And this is the truth of it - not an illusion.

To be a Leftist is ultimately to align your-self (your wishes) against reality.

Nothing ever really changes, you can never win; therefore you need never stop feeling yourself a rebel. And it you like feeling yourself to be a rebel - then you need never stop feeling like a rebel: you are one!

It is your-self against... well against everything!

Indeed, the situation is precisely analogous to Satan's rebellion against God.


Thursday 14 November 2013

What happened next?


At last - after years of web-searching - I have identified and located what I recall as THE most hilariously OTT classical music album cover of all time - from (I think) about 1980.

Talk about 'smouldering' Latins - there is literally smoke-rising between the two pianists (from a strategically-located cigarette...).

I still recall shedding helpless tears of laughter when I first saw this - crazy stuff...


"Our Father" - by Peter Mullen


From a homily on The Lord's Prayer by Rev Dr Peter Mullen 

We note that it starts with Our. Of course each individual stands before God and his own conscience and must take personal responsibility. But when Our Lord told his disciples to begin this prayer with Our, he was reminding them – us – that we are a community of souls. Each man is responsible for himself, but no man is an island. Our stands for our shared concerns, our shared life together.

But the prayer moves in the very next word from ourselves to God. And what a sensational move it is – for we are told to think of God as Father. The word used by Jesus is truly astonishing. It doesn’t mean as in “When did you last see your father?” Or “Just wait till your father gets home!” It was the Aramaic word Abba which means dad or daddy. It is the affectionate word, not the stern title. Now for a simple prayer this is stunning.  In the first two words we are identified as a community of souls under God. our Father. And this God who made the sun and the other stars, Maker of all things, Judge of all men, we are told to call him our dad. The Lord’s Prayer is more revolutionary than you think.

Father, who art in heaven. So the moral rules are not ours; they are not set by the community; morality is made in heaven. Morality is transcendent and values are absolute and not to be mucked about with as our petty committees, commissions and politicians think fit. So here we are living our lives, but living them under God. “There is no life not lived in community and no community not lived in praise of God”. I have always loved that line from T.S.Eliot. But T.S. Eliot takes seventeen words to tell us the truth. Jesus takes only two: Our Father.

Hallowed means holy, awe-inspiring. Can there be anything more awe-inspiring than the commandment to call the ruler of the universe your dad? This is a brilliant setting up by Our Lord of what looks like a contradiction in terms. God is close enough to be called dad, but he is strange, transcendent and terrifying enough to be hallowed. All creation and all values emanate from this hallowed centre who is God himself.
Thy Kingdom come is a prayer for God’s rule to apply to us. Before you pray this prayer, be careful you understand what you’re praying for. It’s a bit like the three wishes: be careful what you wish for – you might just get it! God’s Kingdom is the rule of justice and righteousness. Do you really want that? We have all heard trendy parsons praying for justice in various parts of the world and for what they like to call social justice in Britain – by which they mean, Please God don’t let the Tories get in. But justice is much more troublesome than that.
Justice means getting what you deserve. So before you pray Thy Kingdom come, ask yourself, Would I like to get what I deserve? I suspect only Mr Pecksniff and Mr Bulstrode think so well of themselves that they would like to get what they deserve. It is self-righteous people – those full of self-esteem – who glibly and thoughtlessly ask to be given what they deserve. The saint, the truly godly person, is scared stiff of asking to be given his desserts – because he knows he is unworthy. God help us if we ever get what we deserve!
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Do you want God’s will to be done in your life? I say in your life and not as the sanctimonious guardians of correct thinking mean, in Iraq or Africa or the United Nations. I ask this because you can be sure that God’s will for you is not what you will for yourself. What do most people want? Health for themselves and their families. To have a bit more money. What you’ve got is never quite enough is it? You know the saying, You can never be too rich or too thin. And added to these things, most people want a bit of recognition – some clowns want a lot of recognition: to be thought well of by one’s fellows.
Well, to be thought well of by ones fellows it is necessary not to think well of yourself. What is God’s will for you? It has nothing to do with seeing you comfortably off and all your peers saying Yes Mr Smith, three bags full Mr Smith. What a fine fellow you are! God’s will for you is that you surrender your will to him. Self-esteem is not a virtue. It is a sin. And God wants you to will to love him, serve him and obey him. The Gospel tells us to love God with all our heart. This is misleading in an age when heart is a word associated with touchy-feeliness and sentimentality. The original word in the Gospel means something much more like will, or deepest desire, what you hold most dear. That is what Our Lord refers to when he says, Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
You want God’s will to be done in your daily life? Then you are asking for God to turn your heart away from yourself and towards him, to seek his will. This means prayer and service, denying yourself and turning to God and the interests of your neighbour: actually being more interested in God and your neighbour than in yourself. As Jesus said, Take up your cross and follow me. So just think twice – when you pray Thy will be done, that’s what you’re praying for.
Give us this day our daily bread. That is, not what you’d like over the foreseeable future, a long-term investment to make sure I’m kept in the manner to which I have become accustomed. In fact the one thing you can guarantee about the foreseeable future is that it’s not foreseeable. You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans. Your daily bread is not what you’d like at all. It’s what you need. And it’s what you need only for the immediate present. For the spiritual warfare you must constantly be fighting against your own evil and selfish impulses.
The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer of crisis. It imagines us as under attack from evil all the day long. Some of this evil comes from outside ourselves. But most of it lurks within us – in our own sin and weakness and lack of devotion; in our self-esteeming persistence; in our failure to love God. Give us this day our daily bread is then a prayer for spiritual resources in the immediate crisis. And the embodiment of it is sacramental. Stop being full of yourself. Come to the Blessed Sacrament as often as possible and be filled with the bread of life, the life of God instead.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. It’s another of Our Lord’s jokes. For we don’t forgive those who trespass against us. We say, D’you know what that bastard’s done to me now? I’ll settle his account, make no mistake! Here Jesus is using supreme irony to teach us something overwhelmingly important. He is drawing our attention to the fact that we know, deep down, that we don’t readily forgive one another. He is telling us just how wonderful the love of God is – for while we do not forgive one another, God still forgives us. As St Paul says, God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Of course, the understanding that God forgives us – bad as we are – ought to give us pause for thought and encourage us to try to forgive those who wrong us. But there’s nothing soppy about this. Forgiveness does not mean condoning evil. And if what the other bloke is doing is against God’s will and God’s kingdom, God’s revealed purposes, then the right thing to do is to rebuke him. This is the justification for righteous warfare, for the criminal law and for discipline in the church. Forgiveness is not laxity. As the Spirit said to the church at Laodicea, because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. 
Lead us not into temptation. The pathetic modern version of this, I remember, was Do not bring us to the test. And all I could ever think when I heard this was that God didn’t want me to go to Lord’s to watch the Aussies. It is often said that God does not lead us into temptation. How strange then that it should say at the beginning of chapter four of St Matthew’s Gospel: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And he was tested there. We must remember that Christianity is the religion of crisis. We are being told every moment that we must decide. The evangelicals are right to talk about making a decision for Christ. But they are wrong if they think this is a once-and-for-all event.
Crisis, I tell you. Crisis. There is no escape from it. Beautifully and shockingly put Eliot: For the pattern is new in every moment/ And every moment is a new and shocking/Valuation of all we have been.
In the crisis there is nothing for it but to cry out, Deliver us from evil! This is the climax of the Lord’s Prayer to which it has been building all through. When newspapers talk about evil, they mean foreign dictators and home-grown paedophiles. When Tolkein or J.K.Rowling write about evil, they mean goblins and witches. When bishops talk about evil they refer to earthquakes and floods and stockbrokers. But the evil Our Lord says we must pray to be delivered from is our own evil.
And what does our evil consist in? Entirely in this: in our willing compliance with our worst instincts; in our obsessive desire to excuse ourselves; in that accursed thing self-esteem; in our refusal to admit our selfishness; in our coldness towards God; in our luke-warmness about our faith; in our lack of passion and zeal for Christ; in our half-belief and paltry commitment; in our preoccupation with anything but God. For the theme of the Lord’s Prayer is that everything except God and our relationship with him is trivial and beside the point. The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that every impediment to our total being with God be removed. There is nothing else but God and his love:
For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory; forever and ever. Amen
Note: Peter Mullen is a penfriend. He is an officially-retired Church of England Priest whose faith is based upon the doctrines and usage of The Book of Common Prayer and the Authorized Version of the Bible (i.e. the 'King James' Bible). In other words he is a rare living example of what used to be the mainstream in the Church of England, but which is now almost extinct. He is also known as a writer and editor of anti-PC books, often deploying robust humour and satirical wit.

What is the value of undergoing a mass media withdrawal and detox?


I have suggested that the mass media is an addictive drug for modern Man, and that it is necessary to undergo withdrawal and detoxification.

But why? Withdrawal and detox are unpleasant experiences – and to be a non-addict in a world of dedicated drug-seekers and -users can be socially isolating.

What benefits lie on the other side of the costly process of curing mass media addiction?


The major benefit is to become psychologically independent of the drug pushers. An addict needs his fix; and mass media addicts need ever larger and more frequent doses of their drug which makes them utterly dependent on the media providers.


It is not good to be dependent on drug pushers such as the mass media, because they will say or do whatever is required to create new addicts and expand their consumption of existing addicts. In a word the pushers exploit their clients.  

The exploitation involves extraction of money (as with advertising), of attention, of time... It involves shaping of the mind by social, political and ideological propaganda. It involves pushing lies, and suppressing truths; promoting approved morals and demonizing disapproved morals.

And all kinds of other exploitations both short-term, tactical, individual-level exploitations (such as wholesale sexual manipulation and predation by media celebrities); and long-termist, strategic, socially-attitudinal manipulations (such as creating a public climate in which successful sexual predators are admired and rewarded with honours, prizes and praise).  


In a nutshell, to be dependent on the media is to be exploited by the media, in so many possible ways that they cannot all simultaneously be defended against.


Any media addict is therefore being manipulated – whether they realize it or not; and being induced into attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that advantage the manipulators – whether they realize it or not.

And that is why everybody needs to undergo the painful process of mass media withdrawal and detox.  


Wednesday 13 November 2013

It seems that all actual religions are honest about what they themselves offer (but wrong about other religions)


I find it very striking - although I don't know of anybody else who does - that actually existing religions seem to be honest about what they offer their adherents.


One might have supposed that the easiest thing would be to offer adherents 'the moon', or 'pie in the sky' - wondrous, extravagant rewards in return for their adherence; and yet this seems very seldom to have been the case.


For instance, life for a Roman Stoic seems to have held nothing to look-forward-to.

The Norse pagans depicted life as a grim and hope-less struggle against impossible odds; victory was temporarily glorious and admirable, and defeat could be delayed - but defeat was inevitable and the all men and the gods too would die - and the world destroyed and ruled by 'giants'.

The Eastern religions offer their adherents very little, except avoidance of something even worse. Hinduism offers escape from the horror of perpetual reincarnation; Buddhism offers escape from suffering but at the cost of annihilation of the self (i.e. death of the individual).


In general, Christianity seems to offer more, far more, than any other religion - greatly more than the ancient Judaism it displaced; we must die but after this there is resurrection in a perfected body, forgiveness of all sins, and eternal life in communinion with God and in His presence.

And the most recent Christianity, Mormonism, offers even more than mainstream Christianity: not only eternal resurrected life with God, but to live this life in a marriage of total spousal love and with a perfected family community; also the possibility of eternal spiritual progression after death, perhaps including full divinization.


It is striking that even secular atheists are honest about what they offer: i.e. nothing at all in objective terms and in the long run; only short-term and subjective feelings, enhanced pleasure and diminished suffering (which indeed they do offer).


If the human grasp of truth is always, to some extent, partial - then maybe our rewards will be commensurately partial.

Thus: if you are a good pagan, your destiny and reward will be pagan. And the closer you are to the truth, the greater will be your destiny and reward.


Why this should be, I do not know - unless it be that God constrains things thus: that He will not let any actually-existing religion claim more than it offers...

At most it seems a religion can falsely claim that the offers of other religions are false, and that its own meagre offerings are all that could be expected or wanted - or even that its promised horrors are in fact delights!

But the bare factual basis of religious claims seem always honest - so far as I can tell.


The error of most actual religions is not, therefore, in what they promise, but what they threaten. The error is to deny the validity of what others say, and to assert that others are damned to hell.

The reality is, perhaps, that the other are damned just as they are rewarded, according to their own criteria of what constitutes their destiny and reward - therefore, the best hope of a pagan is not very far from a Christian's idea of hell. An atheist's best hope is annihilation of the self, much like a Hindu...


But there is no reason for a Christian to assert anything more horrible as the destiny of non-Christians than other religions already describe as 'what happens'.

And, maybe, the best religion (among actual religions) - the true-est religion, is that which offers the most...


What endemic loneliness tell us about secular modernity


Loneliness is the huge undiscussed problem of modernity.

But perhaps the most striking thing about loneliness is that almost nobody does anything to cure it.


Instead of curing loneliness, people distract themselves from it; mostly by losing-themselves in the mass media, and also by drink and drugs, sex, travel and other stimuli.

And these distractions are a cause of, or contribution to, much of the evil of modern life.

Perhaps the clue is that loneliness drives people to seek these distractions - so the forces of evil want people to be lonely, and to remain lonely, because:

1. Loneliness itself makes people miserable.

2. The attempt to achieve distraction from loneliness is a continual pressure towards sin - because most distractions are either sinful or involve an opening-up towards sin (for example propaganda, situations of temptation etc).


Perhaps the most usual cure advocated for loneliness is 'friends' - friends are supposed to be 'good' in and of themselves; modern people desperately want friends - and as many as possible to provide 24/7 cover.

Yet such desperation for friendship leads to a lowering of standards, to false friends; and false friends are a powerful - for many people an irresistible - inducement to evil.


The fact of loneliness, its miseries and inducements to evil, and the fact that social institutions which provide a cure for loneliness (e.g. marriage, the family, college, monastery) have been continually attacked and often destroyed by modernity...

And the fact that nothing whatsoever has been done to improve the situation - despite unprecedented resources...

All this tells me that loneliness is no accident - it is not an accidental side-effect of modernity, is not an unfortunate cost for greater benefits: but is strategic; and that the forces of evil do what they can to make and sustain loneliness as a weapon against the Good.

If, at its best family life is a foretaste of Heaven; then loneliness is a foretaste of hell.