Sunday 9 February 2014

The Hogwarts Professor on five 21st century activities that thwart a mystical and Godly life


There are five 21st Century activities that separate us from a transformed vision and authentic theocentric human life: 

1. Classroom education, 
2. Following current events (‘news’), 
3. Watching screened images of any kind (film, video, tee vee), 
4. Eating processed food especially sweeteners and dairy, and 
5. Driving a car or even being driven about on a regular basis. 

But driving is much worse than riding.

Edited from:


The Hogwarts Professor is John Granger, an inspired and deep writer on Harry Potter matters, a devout Russian Orthodox Reader, ex-US Marine - and a penfriend. His list is not theoretical, but based on personal experience, What his list amounts to is, I think, a tested recipe for detachment from contemporary culture (1,2,3) - increased self-discipline and asceticism (4) and an attempt to maintain contact with surrounding reality (5). 

These Five would not be optimal for everybody - for other people, other things might take a higher priority.


Arakawa said...

Cars especially would be something that differs culturally. There are certain places in America where they are a survival necessity, and you'd have a hard time convincing people from those parts that Granger's item (5) makes sense.

I suppose it's in regions where there is adequate, or more-than-adequate public transit, but driving is seen as (effectively) a status symbol, that the choice becomes meaningful. In the First World I suppose that this would be places like Asia, perhaps Europe, and those few cities in North America where there is more-than-adequate public transit, but people tend to act as though they're in one of the driving-only parts of America.

I suppose you don't get more in contact with surrounding reality than crammed into a subway train running at full capacity.

On the other hand, in my own experience driving -- if done properly and sparingly -- can itself be a tool of ascesis. But I have the luxury of doing a very limited amount of it, so there is probably a tipping point where it goes from an exercise in concentration, to another way of 'zoning out'.

I suppose also the driving style and attitude has a huge role in the effect. Ideally, driving would teach you patience, but many people are impatient and aggressive drivers, who just reinforce their impatience when they drive. I suppose there's no evil in driving that you don't bring with you.

George said...

I don't think the contrast is driving vs public transportation, but wholly avoiding motorized transport as much as possible.

Samson J. said...

regions where there is adequate, or more-than-adequate public transit

Sheesh. And here I was thinking that when he said "driving is worse than riding", he was talking about riding *horses*.

Anyway, I wish that people would stop talking about private vehicles as a "status symbol". They may be that, but they aren't *just* that. Public transit is basically the worst thing in the world. During my mid-20s backpacking trip to London I first found it fascinating and fun to have the experience of taking the "Tube", followed by a black horror at the idea of riding it every day.

There is a sense in which I kind of agree with his point #5, and that is that cars make life go by too fast. Many has been the time that I have been out for a country walk, or bicycle ride, and thinking to myself how different our perspective on life would be if the fastest we could ever go was the speed of a horse-drawn carriage. You miss out on the beauty of creation if you're always zipping by at 100 KPH.

Wm Jas said...

I am a perpetrator of classroom education, and I do eat a fair amount of cheese -- but other than that, this list made me feel pretty good about my current way of life.

I use a car maybe once a week, preferring to ride a motorcycle if I can't walk. As for public transport, I'm not sure it's much better than being driven around in a car. In theory, it brings you into contact with other people; in practice, all the other passengers are glued to their phones, each in his own separate world.

MC said...

The uselessness of classroom instruction as the principal means of education is going to become increasingly obvious over the next few years for those who are observant.

I'm not sure I grasp number 5. If it's not for environmental or health reasons (and it does not appear to be), I don't see how driving is so much worse than riding in a train, on a horse, etc. In the U.S. not having a driver's license is a point of pride among young urban leftists.

George said...

Avoiding motorized sofas is about participating in your surroundings versus watching moving images behind glass.

Though any of us like our cars because we don't have to participate in the ugly unnatural environment of our American cities!

JP said...

"Though any of us like our cars because we don't have to participate in the ugly unnatural environment of our American cities!"

Don't want to interact with the ugly, primitive residents of American cities is more like it.

I did a lot more reading and thinking when I used public transit to get to work. When I drive, it takes less time but the time is not profitably used - I just space out while listening to music.

Samson J. said...

I am a perpetrator of classroom education, and I do eat a fair amount of cheese

CHEESE?! Get behind me, Satan!

I actually did not understand the dairy comment at all.

Anonymous said...

I obverse these rules, though not perfectly.

Although I am a serious biker, I was not convinced of the importance of rule 5 until I read all of the commentators.

Contra the sentiment expressed, people used to live fulfilling lives before automobiles became ubiquitous in the West. People were also less fat.

If you are chained to your automobile by a force outside your control (and I doubt the chain is as strong as you think it is) -- at least recognize the evil of that situation!