Wednesday 30 May 2018

How bad are 'things'? (Has Satan won?)

This is a major issue in my (so-called...) Life!

I think 'things' are very bad indeed - but hardly anybody agrees.

And I know exactly why: because we have been inculcated since birth with the idea that 'things' amount to current material conditions: and the idea that an Evil regime is one that deliberately causes excessive suffering and death.

Clearly that is the general idea of a bad life; all the future dystopias that are so popular nowadays in movies, on TV, in adult and - especially - teen fiction; are dystopian precisely because the rulers deliberately imprison, torture, and kill people in large numbers - often without reason (or, at least, the nastiness is disproportionate to the reason for it).

The usual villain is someone who enjoys inflicting pain and killing people. Also - modern villains are, almost always, depicted as snobbish, racist, sexist... (so-called...) Right Wing. Hence the idea of Hitler as the archetype.

The idea of Evil as socialist, feminist, and favouring the historically repressed - is off-the-map. hence the fact that Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot (ie. the vast majority of Evil totalitarian dictators of recent memory) are down the memory hole.

The idea of a spiritual dystopia is off-the-map.

It is literally incomprehensible that an Evil society (much like Huxley's Brave New World) might satisfy all material needs, might refrain from tormenting its citizens, and keep the population distracted and pleasured.

For a Christian, this means (so far as observable, public life is concerned) that Satan has won. Not that Satan is win-ning, not that Satan will win unless...

But that Satan has - here and now, and as things actually are - has won.

Past tense. Done.

In public discourse; the idea that Evil is primarily spiritual - that is that Life is about salvation and damnation, about souls rather than bodies, about eternity rather than now-and-next - that idea is not merely omitted, not merely suppressed and excluded: it has-been and is sense-less, literally incomprehensible.

That is the current situation.

Hope resides in the fact that public discourse does not represent private thoughts and feelings. Not yet, at any rate.

But, as the mass media and especially social media continue to expand - we are getting ever closer to that situation: I mean when public is all.

In sum: Satan has won in the public realm - and the current spiritual war is over the private realm.

Yet this isn't much of a war, so far - it is only being fought on one side, on Satan's side

Since the public - en masse, by their revealed preferences and behaviours - want, ASAP, to fuse their once-private thoughts and feelings with the public realm.

From where I stand: that's how bad 'things' are.


Chent said...

A good description of the situation. We are told that God will win at the end, but everything appears so gloomy and dark. Sometimes, I think that the wrong ones are us and we are only the members of a religion in extinction. Such as the Hinayana Buddhists that said (about V d.C): "The real religion is dying". They have been extinct for 1500 years (current Buddhism is not hinayana).

Sorry, Bruce, I know that despair is a sin (I learned it from you). But it is difficult to have hope when you see how things are going and you see Satan wining each game.

William Wildblood said...

Here's what Jesus had to say about the present time. From Matthew chapter 24.

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."

So in a weird sort of way you could see the current darkness as a cause for optimism. If even the 'elect' could be deceived as Jesus says a little later then things have to be bad. But they have to be really bad, about as bad as can be, before the darkness is swept away and the light can dawn. Perhaps all possibilities have to be worked out before truth can reassert itself.

whitestone said...

The question on my lips is. What is god doing while all this is going on? Some kind of divine intervention might be called for.

Bruce Charlton said...

I personally don't feel despair (or, not often) - In fact the clarity makes things simpler.

Reading the Fourth Gospel - it was the same when Jesus was alive, the same for his disciples... yet the Gospel is joyously hope-full.

We know what to do.

And the passages on the blind/ those who see; those who love/ hate the world; tell us what to expect.

Also, I find that knowing the endemic corruption prevents a recurrent temptation I have to put my faith in worldly institutions.

In a deep sense, it is 'easier' for us than for previous generations. Such are the latter days, the end times.

j. barrett said...

I believe it was Bruce himself that wrote something to the effect of "the Earth is a school and not a playground". We are simply nearing the final exam. Stand ready to show what you have learned. Is theosis possible without a great test?

Be assured, whoever comes through the other side of this uncorrupted will be indomitable. Even more exciting is, perhaps this is only the first rung? What if the next domain is harder still? What joy!

I often reflect on what it would mean to be a spiritual thoroughbred, to not merely endure but to prevail.

John Fitzgerald said...

I think Satan had a big win in last week's Irish abortion referendum. The sight of people singing and dancing in celebration of such a monstrosity in the 'land of Saints and Scholars' has to rank as one of the most saddening and shocking events of my time on this Earth. Desperate, desperate stuff. As bad as anything I've ever seen.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Well, it was always inevitable that Satan should 'win' in certain arenas.

Social media platforms like Facebook are essentially refined sources of narcissistic supply. It is as inevitable that they should reflect the appetites of narcissists as that brothels should cater to sensualists. The mass media generally has always been preferred by people who desired to have others tell them what to 'think' rather than how to think, it is no surprise that opinions that don't require thoughtful reflection should come to dominate there.

Since before the time of John the Baptist, it was a commonplace for true prophets to be lone voices crying in the wilderness the unpopular message of repentance.

Until the wickedness of the worldly brings down their own monuments to their vanity and pride on their heads. It always happens that way, for the devil will not save his children in the end. Even if Satan wanted to avert the vast human misery of a decadent civilization collapsing, it would not be possible without removing the decadence. And it's not like Satan really wants to avoid the misery of the fools that chose him.

He just wants to try and inflict it on those who reject him. But that's beyond his power two...because it is only over the carnal mind and sensual life that Satan has power.

Bruce Charlton said...

@jb - The interesting thing is that it does not (for most people) feel like an exam. This is where my faith comes in: I firmly believe that God intervenes (as he does in CS Lewis's fiction) to ensure that nobody chooses damnation without being given the clarity to recognise that it is not inevitable, that there is an alternative, that it is never-too-late.

This is an article of faith; because I cannot see into another's soul - and a corrupted person would be likely to lie about or deny their moment of clarity then wrong choice.

So maybe it is not very much like an examination... Perhaps the prodigal son parable is a better comparison?

@JF - It is horrible. Knowing 'how things have worked out' in mainland Britain, it is particularly gratuitous and dishonest. But it is a natural, almost inevitable, consequence of materialism.

@CCL - Wise words.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Except for "two", that wasn't any kind of cleverness, I just wasn't paying attention there.