Wednesday 31 October 2018

The marriage and miracle at Cana - Fourth Gospel

After Jesus was identified as the Messiah and baptised by John, and after he had collected some disciples; the first incident in the Fourth Gospel is the marriage at Cana, the turning of water into wine; which is described as the beginning of the miracles.

The marriage at Cana describes Jesus's wedding (i.e. it identifies Jesus as the bridegroom - this interpretation being confirmed later in John 3:29). And then Jesus does his first miracle; why then?

My understanding is that the marriage was the moment when Jesus assumed his ministry - at the late age of thirty. I assume that the baptism by John what made it possible; the marriage was what made it happen. This is my interpretation of the governor's comment, addressing Jesus: 'thou has kept the good wine until now'.

Presumably, this was why this miracle was done at this time - as a sanctification of the marriage; that this marriage was, compared with an ordinary marriage - symbolically and literally - as wine is to water.

Otherwise, this miracle of transformation seems rather a rather feeble, even trivial, achievement; at least by comparison with Jesus's miracles of healing. Yet we are told that it 'manifested forth his glory' - so there must have been something very important about it.

(Note: Unfortunately, I get the feeling that there is something wrong with the Biblical text of this episode - especially 2: 3-5, where there is both an impression of alien interpolation and of omission.) 
Note added: I suspect that the marriage of Jesus being followed by the performance of miracles is related to the dyadic nature of fully creative divinity. This is implied by Mormon theology, with its assertion that celestial-eternal marriage is required for full divinity; and full divinity is characterised by the procreation of spirit children. This would suggest that it was necessary that Jesus was celestially-married in order that he would attain full divinity, with the same fullness as his Father (albeit, the Son lives and creates within the creation of the Father). 

John. 2: [1] And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: [2] And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. [3] And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. [4] Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. [5] His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. [6] And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. [7] Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. [8] And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. [9] When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, [10] And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. [11] This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.(...) John. 3: [27] John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. [28] Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. [29] He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

Institutional convergence and institutional addiction (Is the world trying to tell us something?)

'Convergence' is a useful and apt recent usage to describe the process by which all modern Western institutions are becoming one kind of socio-politically-orientated organisation; all these organisations are becoming bureaucracies; and all these bureaucracies are joining to make a single, ultimately global, totalitarian (hence evil) system.

For more than fifty years there has been a general trend towards institutional corruption in The West; if corruption is defined as an institution purposively-failing to pursue its designated function.

Convergence is now, already, established as a universal fact: socio-political considerations are primary in all organisations that are large, powerful or high status.

There is zero institutional resistance to convergence; all institutional power is now in favour of continued, universal convergence; the drive is everywhere to extend its scope and pervasiveness.

The world is trying to tell us that institutions are evil. 

But we don't want to hear this. 

We remain institutionally-addicted. People so much want what institutions pretend to offer, that they are self-blinded to the reality of actual, achieved, increasing convergence.

Leaving aside the materialist consequences of converged institutions (inevitable socio-political collapse) we need to consider the spiritual aspect; because it is that failure which drives convergence.

When all institutions are net-evil; goodness is to be found in individuals or nowhere. 

If we want to be Good, we must take personal responsibility.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Rudolf Steiner's copius blethering about initiation and spiritual training

Rudolf Steiner was a first rank genius, whose insights are all-but indispensable; but there is no mystery about why his achievement is not more widely appreciated. The fact is that the bulk of his writings are nonsense and blether.

The nonsense is perhaps most obvious - I mean the truly vast volume of material purporting to provide detailed factual information on everything under the sun - and indeed concerning the sun itself, and planets too - the universe and everything in it. Perhaps the culmination was the eight volumes of lectures on Karmic Relationships, purporting to describe the several reincarnations of famous historical figures - following each spirit through these incarnations.

Then there are systems of education, medicine, agriculture and so forth. (And architecture - but I find Steiner's architecture and sculpture to be viscerally horrible - esepcially the current Goetheanum and surrpounding buildings.) Having evaluated a fair sample of such books, I now simply avoid them. For instance, I have spent most of my life reading, thinking, practising medicine and education; and Steiner's writings on these medicine strike me as wrong at every level, while the writing on education in mostly-wrong. Both are crudely systematised in a way that Steiner himself taught me to recognise as Ahrimanic; i.e. materialistic and bureaucratic.

(However, Steiner's early writings on science are absolutely brilliant!)

So much for the nonsense - what of the blether? Well, another problem is that even in some of Steiner's most valuable books/ lectures post-1894 - works on themes of consciousness, thinking, attaining human destiny - writings that contain material I am very keen to understand, on a topic in which Steiner has unique value - there is a tendency for him to launch into screeds of blether.

Especially so concerning (supposed) initiation and his (suggested) methods of spiritual training. To be candid; I regard this material of Steiner's as being mostly a mixture of wishful thinking and dishonesty. As I read, my bullshit-detectors are continually sounding...

I shall give an extended example. The Stages of Higher Knowledge (1905) is a book that contains much wisdom and many insights - it is not a book that I can ignore. There are three main themes: Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. The lectures on Imagination and Intuition have considerable value, in my opinion. However, the lecture on Inspiration I find to be almost entirely bogus.

I would advise the reader to follow the link, and read for himself - but I will cite a few passages of the kind that set-off my alarm bells:

Occult training therefore undertakes to indicate how the human being may make his feelings and his will impulses productive in a healthy way for Inspiration. As in all matters of occult training, the need here is for an intimate regulating and forming of soul life. First of all certain feelings must be developed which are known only to a slight degree in ordinary life. Some of these feelings will be hinted at here. Among the most important is a heightened sensitiveness to “truth” and “falsehood,” to “right” and “wrong.” Certainly the ordinary human being has similar feelings, but they must be developed by the occult student in a much higher measure. Suppose someone has made a logical error. Another sees this mistake and corrects it. Let it be clear how great is the role of judgment and intellect in such a correction, and how slight the feeling of pleasure in the right and displeasure in the wrong. Surely this is not to claim that the pleasure and corresponding displeasure are non-existent. But the degree to which they are present in ordinary life must be illimitably raised in occult training. Most systematically must the occult student turn his attention to his soul life, and he must bring it about that logical error is a source of pain to him, no less excruciating than physical pain, and conversely, that the “right” gives him real joy and delight. Thus, where another only stirs his intellect, his power of judgment, into motion, the occult student must learn to live through the whole gamut of emotions, from grief to enthusiasm, from afflictive tension to transports of delight in the possession of truth. In fact, he must learn to feel something like hatred against what the “normal” man experiences only in a cold and sober way as “incorrect”; he must enkindle in himself a love of truth that bears a personal character; as personal, as warm, as the lover feels for the beloved.

I find this dishonest; because this does not describe how Steiner himself attained Inspiration - he actually did it primarily via the insights into thinking from his early philosophical and scientific studies culminating in The Philosophy of Freedom (1894). Yet when Steiner wrote the Stages of Higher Knowledge he had been involved in teaching, through the Theosophical Society, only a few years. I know of no evidence that any of his pupils at this time - or indeed at any time, achieved anything like the level of higher consciousness that Steiner achieved. Indeed, in the past century of Anthroposophy, the only individuals who seem to have attained anything like Steiner's level of insight - Valentin Tomberg and Owen Barfeld - both did so largely independently of Steiner, via philosophical study, and without this 'training'. 

As a test, he must patiently, over and over again, place before himself this or that “true” thing, this or that “false” one, and devote himself to it, not merely to train his power of judgment for sober discrimination between “true” and “false,” but he must gain an entirely personal relation to it all. — It is absolutely correct that at the beginning of such training the human being can fall into what may be called “oversensitiveness.” An incorrect judgment that he hears in his environment, an inconsistency, and so forth, can cause him almost unbearable pain. — Care must therefore be taken in this respect during training. Otherwise great dangers might indeed result for the student's equilibrium of soul. If care is taken that the character remains steadfast, storms may occur in the soul life and the human being still retain the power to conduct himself toward the outer world with harmonious countenance and bearing. A mistake is made in every case in which the occult student is brought into opposition to the outer world so that he finds it unbearable or wishes to flee from it entirely. The higher world of feeling must not be cultivated at the expense of well-balanced activity and work in the outer world; therefore a strengthening of the power to withstand outer impressions must appear in corresponding measure to the inner lifting of the feeling life.

This strikes me as just made-up-stuff; abstract and confused, over-dramatic and sensational; and nothing to do with actual students following any actual course of training. And there is this business of 'power'...

Practical occult training, therefore, directs the human being never to undertake the above-mentioned exercises for developing the feeling world without at the same time developing himself toward an appreciation of the tolerance that life demands from men. He must be able to feel the keenest pain if a person utters an erroneous opinion, and yet at the same time be perfectly tolerant towards this person because the thought in his mind is equally clear that this person is bound to judge in this way, and his opinion must be reckoned with as a fact. — It is, of course, correct that the inner being of the occult scientist will be ever more and more transformed into a twofold life. Ever richer processes come about in his soul in his pilgrimage through life, and a second world becomes continually more independent of what the outer world offers. It is just this twofold existence that will bear fruit in the genuine practice of life. What results from it is quick-witted judgment and unerring certainty of decision. While anyone who stands remote from such schooling must go through long trains of thought, driven hither and thither between resolution and perplexity, the occult scientist will swiftly survey life situations and discern hidden relations concealed from the ordinary view. He then often needs much patience to synchronise with the slow rate at which another person is able to grasp something that for him comes swift as an arrow.

Who is this 'occult scientist'? Steiner is talking as if from long experience of many people going through a prolonged, careful, closely-supervised training that has been successful - yet this cannot have been the case. And anyway, the whole way this is written strikes me as strongly pretentious; more like indirect moral self-advertisement than a genuine attempt to be helpful. 

Take, for instance, a feeling of anxiety or fear. It can be crystal clear that often fear or anxiety is greater than it would be if it were in true proportion to the corresponding outer event. Imagine that the occult student is working energetically on himself with the aim to feel in no instance more fear and anxiety than is justified by the corresponding external events. Now a given amount of fear or anxiety always entails an expenditure of soul force. This soul force is actually lost as a result when fear or anxiety is produced. The student really conserves this soul force when he denies himself fear or anxiety — or other such feelings — and it remains at his disposal for some other purpose. If he repeats such processes often, he will build up an inner treasure of these continually husbanded soul forces, and the occult student will soon find that out of such economies of feeling will arise the germs of those inner images that will bring to expression the revelations of a higher life.

This 'soul force' is what I mean by inappropriate materialism and systematisation - it is a false precision; and indeed it doesn't sound plausible that any such thing exists at all. Students promised that they may conserve, build, be able to direct and use accumulations of soul force? No, this has a distinct flavour of misleading manipulation. 

But it would not accomplish much to remain at a standstill with only such economies as those indicated above. For greater results, still more is necessary. A far greater treasure still of power to create feeling must be supplied to the soul than is possible in this way alone. For instance, as a test, one must expose oneself to certain outer impressions, and then wholly deny oneself the feelings that “normally” arise as a result. One must, for instance, face an occurrence that “normally” excites the soul, and absolutely and totally forbid oneself the excitation. This can be accomplished either by actually confronting such an experience, or by conjuring it up imaginatively. The imaginative method is even better for a really fruitful occult training. As the student is initiated into Imagination, either before his preparation for Inspiration or simultaneously with it, he should actually be in a position to place an occurrence imaginatively before the soul with the same force as if it were in fact taking place.

Initiation rears its ugly head. Steiner talks as if there are established schools of initiation, taking students through incremental steps towards higher consciousness and greater 'power'. Force and power... Yet there are no such students, and the only school of initiation is the one that Steiner is in the process of setting-up.

Now the soul powers that are stored up in the student's inner being by self-denial of “normal” feelings, as indicated above, are riches that would undoubtedly be transformed into Inspirations even if nothing else came to their aid, and the occult student would experience how true thought images arise in his soul, representing experiences in higher worlds. Progress would begin with the simplest experiences of supersensible events, and slowly more complicated and higher ones appear, if the student continued to live inwardly according to the suggested directions. — But in reality such occult training today would be entirely impractical, and nowhere is it carried out where work is undertaken earnestly. For, if the student wished to develop “out of himself” everything that Inspiration can give, he could undoubtedly “spin out” of himself all that has been said here, for example, about the nature of man, human life after death, the evolution of humanity and of the planets, and so forth. But such a student would need an immeasurably long time to do it.

Again, we are given the impression of an established, reliable, valid system - in place - indeed operating in several places; and with a large experience of the various problems and pitfalls. The student has only to follow the instructions patiently, earnestly. But if he does not - if he goes it alone, or studies with anytbody other than Steiner; then his progress will be hazardous, and immeasurably slow...

In any case no hope can be given that he will make rapid conquests in the higher worlds through any exercises whatever, unless he has at the same time set out to ponder incessantly upon the communications, purely narrative, that have been given from a competent quarter about the events and beings of the higher worlds. — Now that such communications are actually being presented in literature and in lectures, and so forth, and the first indications are also being given for the exercises leading to knowledge of higher worlds (as, for example, such indications as are presented in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment), it has now become possible to learn something of what formerly was communicated only in strictly guarded occult schools. As has been frequently mentioned, it is owing to the special conditions of our time that these things are and must be published. But also, on the other hand, it must be ever again emphasised that while it has thus been made easier to acquire occult knowledge, sure guidance through an experienced occult teacher is not yet to be completely dispensed with.

"it has now become possible to learn something of what formerly was communicated only in strictly guarded occult schools"... Well, this is a concentrated example of what I mean by blethering bullshit. Steiner is engaged in a 'soft sell' here; creating a framework of hopes and warnings, all of which point at what he, uniquely, promises to provide. Yet, a century later, we can see that Steiner could not provide what he promised (or else nobody was able to follow the path prescribed).

Anthroposophy was supposed to be a path, a way, a spiritual process - and Steiner was here purporting to describe this path. But the method did not work - and instead Anthroposophy has become the preservation, study, learning and implementation of all of Steiner's findings/ assertions.

There was no method of training, initiation was a fantasy; then, as now, we do this alone - or not at all.

How fast could CS Lewis read? How fast can anybody read?

CS Lewis was renowned as a fast reader - and one with outstanding recall and comprehension of what he wrote. Kevin McCall estimates how quickly Lewis could read (about 550 words per minute/ 70 pages an hour); and puts this into a context of research on reading speeds.

My own natural reading speed has always been much slower than this - probably about 100 pages per day; so, even as a teenager the Lord of the Rings took me about a fortnight to complete (given that I had to read, and do, other things as well as read!).

Any faster felt forced and was less enjoyable; it would be a torment to read at the necessary rate for a course of study in English Literature - a novel every day or two; quite apart from the fact I would have-to to read things I didn't want to read.

Of course I was adept at 'skimming' of online text when I was the editor of Medical Hypotheses; since I had to 'read' and select everything for a large monthly journal. Let me see... at peak there was probably about 240 pages/ 200,000 published words per month selected from 600,000 words submitted - which makes very roughly 20,000 words per day to read/ skim - evaluate - select? But this was a part-time job (I was 80% full time academic); so...

Well the skim-reading must have been very fast, and needed to be very fast. But Not too fast for me, judging by the journal's performance indicators. The fact is that I had a natural aptitude for that specific job! - and it shows what is possible (even for a slow reader, like me) when vocation and avocation are aligned. 

Monday 29 October 2018

Ultimate metaphysics and Mother in Heaven

In understanding metaphysics using the deepest and most spontaneous kind of explanation; I need to dispense with mathematics, physics and 'science' in general.

My aim is something much more like those Ancient Egyptian myths of primal beings - gods and titans emerging from chaos; or the folk stories about 'totem animals'... Instead of particles and forces we have beings with motivations.

As I have previously posted I have a personal intuition/ revelation that confirms the Mormon teaching (independently endorsed by William Arkle) that God is both Father and Mother (a 'dyad' - complementary - the whole God consisting of an eternal union of man and woman).

The implications are tremendous, and only incrementally becoming clear to me.

One is that this is the truth behind the principle of 'polarity' as articulated by Coleridge and clarified by Barfield. 'Polarity' is a concept derived from the physical sciences - hence is only a model: the reality is our Heavenly Parents.

Thus, the two interdependent forces - centrifugal and centripetal - about which Coleridge talks; and from the interaction of which, all may be derived in a dynamic and self-renewing way; are actually the primal man and woman.

If we ask what is the difference between the Father and Mother, we have actually taken a step away-from the primary reality, because our answer can only be in terms of abstract qualities - whereas our  divine parents are the irreducible units from-which all else (including all abstractions) are derived.

Our Heavenly parents are what they are. While we can know and understand them empathically, by direct intuition - because we are their children and of the same kind - we must (in the attempt to communicate) resist the false temptation to describe them in terms of lesser qualities, or to analyse them as quantities - and then to regard these partial, distorted, abstracted descriptions as the reality.

Heavenly Father and Mother differ; qualitatively and complementarily (to make a living unity in-time); but this difference can't be captured by a static, structural 'personality description'. 

Creation is the consequence of their love; and that is why love is (as the Fourth Gospel tells us) the prime relationship in the universe of creation. Nothing is more important than love; because love (between our Heavenly parents) is the causal basis and reason for all of creation (including, of course, the creation of ourselves, as children of God).

Having reached this point; it seems very important to pay more attention to both Father and Mother in the nature of God; this duality is neglected yet must be of prime importance. If this was physics, we would not neglect one of a polarity - how much more important when it comes to God.

Indeed, this seems a matter of urgent importance.

Original versus Final Participation - and the Consciousness Soul (which we currently inhabit)

Owen Barfield's terminology of Original and Final Participation represents an important distinction, whether by that name or some other.

Original Participation happens in early childhood (and early in human pre-history); reality is unconsciously and spontaneously apprehended; reality is obvious - it is 'out-there'. We see or hear, and we just-know what everything is and what it means.

In OP we are immersed-in reality, and just accept it as obvious, without thinking about it. We are in creation, directly in-contact; and we are swept-along by creation.

It was our unconsciousness and our lack of agency that made this immersion-in-reality possible.  

In the stage of Consciousness Soul - now; we still suppose that reality is out-there, but we must consciously construct its meaning using logic, science... by abstraction and system-building. This, obviously, involves thinking - but that thinking is not a part of the abstraction and system building (unnoticed, ignored, denied).

So we are conscious of reality as a problem, and because conscious we are 'free', 'agents'; yet our consciousness of our-selves knows-itself to be cut-off from reality - because reality is out-there, and we are in-here.

In-here is experienced as real, yet out-there is supposedly the only reality...

We, in-here, can only make theories, have hypotheses, build 'models', about what is out-there - hence the ubiquity of alienation: we know we don't have direct access to reality.

In the end, nothing seems real - neither the self in-here, nor 'reality' out-there

Final Participation 'notices' that thinking is always and necessarily used in understanding reality; therefore reality is both in-here and out-there - reality is, in actuality, located in the process of thinking.

But not, obviously, in all kinds and instances of thinking... For example, the thinking of Consciousness Soul is not about reality (just theories, models, hypotheses); but the thinking of the Original Participation was about reality... however it was unconscious and passive and didn't know explicitly...

So... Final Participation is the same spontaneously apprehended reality as Original Participation - but conscious of itself.

And, being conscious of itself, it is an active participation; it participates in the creation of reality.

In other words, Final Participation is divine thinking.

A word for the living, conscious, purposive, created reality - made of Beings

I was brooding on the need for a word to encapsulate the basic metaphysical assumption that created reality is living, conscious, purposive - that it is made of Beings; and seeking a term I was fiddling around with Greek roots...

Perhaps 'anthropo' to start with? In the sense of things being more-or-less like Man - and then maybe something about 'consciousness'?

So I looked-up the Greek word for consciousness; and discovered that there was not one; seemingly, the Ancient Greeks had no word, no concept, no need for 'consciousness'...

And then I thought Of course not! I knew that already from Barfield. The Greek consciousness was much less self-conscious, much less-differentiated, much more-immersed in reality (which was self-explanatory). For them reality almost simply given - via the senses. More child-like.

The Ancient Greeks began the historical process of abstraction - but they only began it... it wasn't far advanced.

But the problem remained - a word for the perspective I assume; a conscious version of that world view into which we are all born...

But maybe, therefore, it doesn't need a word, because it isn't a theory?

Implications of resurrection

I hadn't thought much about the implications of resurrection; but they are far-ranging.

It isn't just a matter of the self being reunited with a body that (this time) doesn't die; because the self and body are (this time) permanently united; and the resurrected self-body is an indestructible unit.

Indestructible, and changing; because dynamic, loving, creating... indeed only that which is dynamic can be permanent - because self-generating.

(Anything static would, over eternity, erode-away.)

Since there is no disease, corruption, ageing, trauma or death - this presumably makes much else permanent. Resurrection is therefore, presumably, the necessity of that choice between heaven or hell, creation or chaos, family or solitary self.

Sunday 28 October 2018

So, what do you think about Jordan Peterson Now?

I have blogged about Jordan Peterson half a dozen times over this past year; and these posts gathered quite a lot of comments (by this blog's modest standards).

I haven't qualitatively changed my views - but I do know a lot more about him, not least via Vox Day's blog, than I did last time I wrote.

I always thought that he was a net-harmful cultural influence (mainly because of the way that people respond to him) but I would now consider that JP quantitatively does a great deal more harm than good. This took a while to unfold, because Peterson is doing a soft-sell, playing a long game; so the balance of evil/good has incrementally increased as his fame and influence has spread. 

I am curious to know what readers currently think about this chap, who is clearly an international commercial phenomenon - apparently his lectures sell out everywhere, yet it costs more to go and see him talk than it costs to go to the opera!

So - what do you think? 

Theories can *never* be disproved by facts - The quantity and quality of 'evidence' is completely and totally irrelevant

Science is about theories, and is indeed theory-driven - when it is being done properly (which, nowadays, is almost-never). One implication of the primacy of theory; is that theories can never be contradicted by facts.

This ought to be a truism - since everybody 'knows' about Thomas Kuhn's 1962 Structure of Scientific Revolutions; but the book was fatally misleading, because it called metaphysical assumptions 'paradigms' - and people have since assumed that paradigms were something distinctive to science.

There is a stubborn notion that scientists ought-to abandon theories when they are contradicted by observations; but from-within a theory (and all science is done within theories - albeit the theories are seldom recognised, often denied) observations never contradict the theory. There are always many (unbounded in number) of possible alternative explanations for an observation, or for the assertion of a fact.

For example, and it may indeed be true, the provenance of a fact may be challenged: i.e. a reported fact/ observation is disbelieved because the reporter is not trusted; because - that is - he is regarded as incompetent, ignorant, corrupt, insane or deliberately-misleading. 

This can be seen in public discourse. Two major scientific theories, upon which (it often seems) almost the entirety of modern policy hinges, are psychological differences between men and women and racial differences in intelligence. From the perspective of normal science, there is a colossal amount of evidence that there are significant biological differences between men and women, and between races, that affect behaviour in multiple ways.

But public policy is based upon the assumption that all such sex and race differences are a consequence of social circumstances. We can see, as a matter of everyday reality, that once the assumption is in place - all actual and possible observable differences between men and woman, or races, will be found due to social policies and practices - and Not due to biological differences. There is no possible evidence, and no conceivable amount of evidence, that can ever contradict these assumptions under any circumstances.

This shows that evidence is irrelevant. Completely and totally irrelevant.

Of course, evidence is cited by both sides; but that is rhetorical and expedient, not scientific - because the quality and quantity of evidence have no effect on the conclusion. And this applies all through science. It is only within a set of assumptions that evidence has the effect of changing sub-theories; when it comes to different assumptions, evidence is irrelevant - calling something 'evidence' is just an aspect of persuasion, or coercion.

This is pretty much undeniable as a description of how things are; and the usual response is to ask for greater 'rigour' in science, in applying science - or perhaps greater honesty (because dishonesty is endemic and pervasive in modern professional research). But these don't address the fundamental aspect that assumptions utterly and necessarily over-ride facts.  

What is needed, but which almost-never happens, is a thorough examination of the assumptions - a recognition of the fact of assumptions, a clarification and a critique of these assumptions... Do we really believe our assumptions? - or are they unconscious, unexamined, implausible?

This is what is needed, but this is precisely what is resisted - tooth and nail, by fair means and foul - resisted step-by-step, with escalating vigour, and with no surrender: in a fight to the finish. People Will Not acknowledge their assumptions, because one of their core assumptions is that they do not have any assumptions; but that their personal views are wholly a product of evidence, facts, observations...

What a weird situation! A world in which evidence, facts and observations are utterly and completely irrelevant - yet a world in which everything is supposedly dictated-by evidence, facts and observations...

We inhabit a world wholly dependent on human judgment (wrt. assumptions) - that is simultaneously a world which claims we have zero need for human judgement!

Why does human consciousness 'evolve'?

That human consciousness has changed throughout history, and before history, is an assumption I make; having been persuaded of this by Owen Barfield and his mentor Rudolf Steiner.

Most obviously, the world of a young child is different from the world of an adult; the world of a hunter gatherer different from the world of a modern urbanite - we need to understand these differences in terms of a process of developmental-unfolding towards divinity. 

I am therefore using the word 'evolution' in its older and more general sense of 'developmental unfolding' according to a plan. And in this instance, the developmental plan is a destiny; because it refers to a divine-plan.

So, one big question is: Why should God want human consciousness to unfold through various phases across the course of human existence?

The answer is: To provide a range of experiences to different men at different points in history; each experience tailored to the specific needs of each specific Man - so that by learning from these life-experiences, men may grow in divinity (the process called theosis).

Behind this lies the assumption that each human being has a pre-mortal spirit life, before he or she is incarnated on the earth - and in this life we have reached a point of development that would benefit from different kind of experience in mortal life.

(This is therefore an explanation for extended mortal life; that is extended beyond the simple fact of being incarnated and then very soon dying - which has been the experience of most humans through history: i.e. dying in the womb, during birth or as an infant. I am here trying to explain why some people, including you and I, live a more extended lifespan.)

So, our pre-mortal selves are 'placed' (by God) into a 'tailored' time, place and situation where it is most likely we will encounter and learn-from the experiences we most need. The evolution of consciousness through human history is part of the 'tailoring' of earthly, mortal situations to provide the most useful experiences for our individual theosis.

(Of course, there is no guarantee we will each and all choose to learn from the experiences, we may - as it turns-out - reject the 'lessons' experience teaches us, and draw false conclusions. Nonetheless, the lessons are provided.)

And this is the reason why there is an equivalence between the changes of human consciousness through human history; and the changes in human consciousness during biological development from child, through adolescence, to adult-parent-hood. The changes through human history provide (in individually-tailored fashion) the full range of experiences that are relevant to pre-mortal spirits that need to develop-through particular phases.

Thus, the modern Western experience provides a quality of human experience never before seen in human history; and our era and situation therefore has a special value for those of us who have been placed-into it.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Mozart and the first romanticism

Sextet Act 3 of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro - conducted John Eliot Gardiner

Reading Novalis recently, has made me think some more on what Romanticism was 'meant to be' - which is a healing of the rift between head and heart, between enlightenment rationalism and animistic primitivism, science and arts, mundane reality and idealistic fantasy - so that we move on to something whole, unified and (necessarily) new. 

Of course, Romanticism was hijacked by one-sideness - by political radicalism replacing the head, and sexual revolution the heart. But there were several works by a few Masters who showed what was possible - this ensemble from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro (1786) is a very early example. 

Mozart wrote a fair bit of sublime music in the last years of his life; but few pieces attained the Romantic integration of this one. The opera as a whole is rather poisoned with cynicism - politics from from the Beaumarchais original, with a sexual spice from the librettist Da Ponte. The general average of musical composition in Figaro probably the highest of any opera ever; but a few pieces stand-out as taking things to 'another level' - arguably above the work of any other opera composer; one is the 'Letter Duet' and another this sextet. 

(Only equalled in some duets and ensembles of the later Magic Flute.)

The medium of Romanticism was childhood, rural themes, and fantasy (the supernatural) - but of themselves all of these are an archaism, an attempt to recover lost unity and innocence in un-consciousness. However, the attainment of true Romanticism was to do this in a fully conscious, purposive and thought-full way. 

The music of this sextet illustrates what I mean: it has both the simplicity and innocence of a happy young child, and an effortlessly sophisticated, absolute, conscious technical mastery - this making the musical equivalent (before the fact) of the best work of Blake, Coleridge or Wordsworth (also Goethe and Novalis).  

The music of the later named Romantic Era - by contrast, tends to be one-sided; or - in the case of Beethoven - attains a comparatively strained ego-mastery: very appealing and admirable (I listen to Beethoven more than any other composer except Bach); but a consciously-heroic, 'gigantic', overwhelming, synthesis-of-multiplicity in the subjective-mind of the artist. 

Whereas the Absolute Masters of Romanticism did this in much smaller scale, briefer, more fully-achieved forms - in which the universality opens-out from the work, rather than being squeezed-into it - Blake's lyrics and aphorisms, Wordsworth's short poems, the Novalis Fragments... 

Evil needs an echo chamber

Managerialism is totalitarianism - hence (obviously) evil; yet most middle class people are (pretty much) managers; not least because managers (having passed the point at which they outnumber functional people) control the purse-strings and dictate the conditions of service.

But also, managers need to be paid more; because:

1. (Almost) everybody hates being a manager - and only does it for the money. (Evidence? When did you hear of a retired manager staying on to do a bit of unpaid managing? Yet doctors, teachers, scientists all do this - or did before managers wrecked their jobs; and poets, novelists, dancers, musicians nearly always work for nothing (or, indeed, net pay-to-work).

2. Modern managers know that they do harm - that they are parasites.

This means that managerial morale is a problem (as, of course, is the morale of those they manage - but that's a different story). So how to improve managerial morale? Public Relations, is the answer - managers employ most of the working journalists and advertisers in inventing, running, writing-for the ubiquitous 'in house' e-mails, journals, newsletters, updates, special lectures, lecture series, conferences, and 'weeks' (womens' week, diversity week, transgender week etc).

These are partly for propagandising the managed staff - but, I think, mainly for the managers to try and convince themselves that they are doing an important, beneficial job - and doing it well.

Scope and limitations of Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom

There is, perhaps, no more-important book that The Philosophy of Freedom (PoF) by Rudolf Steiner; yet it is, of course, limited in its scope - and potentially misleading.

Steiner himself apparently took several years to see its limitations (after-which he became a, very-unorthodox, Christian), and never properly acknowledged the fact that PoF was written from something like an anarchist/ Nietzschian/ anti-Chrstian stance. He pretended that the later Christian and spiritual metaphysics was latent in, and implied by, the PoF - which untruth makes the book extremely bizarre, and deeply puzzling to the spiritual-Christian reader...

It is possible to read PoF as a free-standing and self-justifying work; and indeed I think it likely that that is the best, perhaps the only, way to understand it. Contextualising the work can only come after it has been understood. So I would recommend accepting the book's implicit premises while reading it - until the overall thesis has been grasped. There is a useful website called The Philosophy of Freedom which does exactly this.

This way of reading PoF accepts Steiner's assertion that he has proved his thesis with 'evidence' (evidence from logic and introspection) - and it therefore accepts the book's self-designation as epistemology - and its function in terms of a libertarian-anarchist rationale for absolute individuality. 

But further reflection reveals that PoF is metaphysics, Not epistemology; it is asserting a thesis about the structure of reality, not merely about knowledge of reality. But only if PoF were true epistemology (and only if epistemology could deliver on its promise of assumption-free knowledge - which in fact it cannot ever do!) could PoF legitimately use evidence to prove its thesis - since if the thesis is true, it changes the nature of what-counts-as evidence. And this is to assume what is being proved - and so the argument undercuts its own legitimacy.

At the level of epistemology (as is usual/ universal with epistemology), PoF is therefore circular reasoning - and the reader can only choose either to enter the circle and believe its truth; or else reject it. And on what possible legitimate grounds (other than prior metaphysical assumptions) should he make such a decision?   

PoF leaves-open such questions as why reality really-is the way that it is described by PoF; and if it was - how could we ever know the fact?

Most importantly, the book simply asserts that freedom is the ultimate value - which many or most people would dispute. PoF asserts that a real morality must be independently arrived at and embraced wholly by the individual from his own resources - yet this is the opposite to traditional ideas; and there is no way (other than a kind of mockery) rationally to argue that the one morality is better than the other; except by asserting the (assumed, never proved) primacy of freedom, autonomy, agency...

Furthermore, in order to explain clearly; PoF presents a very simple model of how cognition is inserted into the world, which it splits between sensory phenomena and the concepts requires to make sense of them. This is very helpful, but must be transcended since, again, it is a circular model and gives no idea of how we could know its truth, or its limitations.

(Did Steiner personally observe his consciousness being instered into the world, and the effect it had? Does he personally know what life without/ before consciousness is like? Can he compare individual morality with universal morality to confirm that they are one? Clearly not - so where does this knowledge come-from?)

None of these limitations to PoF are a significant problem if we read it from the Christian metaphysical perspective that there is a loving creator God, we are his children; and creation was set-up and continues mainly to make possible the development of human consciousness towards a divine situation in which freedom/ autonomy/ agency are indeed prime goals.

From such a perspective PoF is revealed as being about both individual agency and the cohesion of reality; because they are the same. The true concepts by-which we understand the perceived world are the same as those of God's creation; and the truly-agent individual is able to participate in God's on-going creation - which is the purpose of the evolutionary-development of consciousness towards freedom and autonomy.  

But we need to bring this metaphysical perspective to our reading of PoF - it is not to be found within the work itself.

My advice is to do just this - and then to read it!

Friday 26 October 2018

Understand that what we are seeing is 'things coming to a point': and that this is our best hope

I know I have said this many times over the years I have been blogging, but not all current reader have been around that long; and it is terribly important to understand!

(To see what I have previously written - word-search 'coming to a point'.)

In the public domain, the mass media, the politics-government, in education and all other major social systems we are seeing 'things coming to a point' - this process is very far advanced, continues, is apparently accelerating.

The phrase comes from That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis, which is available free online at Project Gutenberg in Canada; it means much the same as what people imply by the misuse of the word 'polarisation' - it means that Good and evil are becoming so extreme as to lose the grey areas and be starkly separated; it means that there is no neutrality and every-thing of any possible public significance is now-and-increasingly either positively/ actively/ purposively-Good or positively/ actively/ purposively-evil.

This creates all kinds of problems, suffering, hardship, But in a world such as this one, coming to a point is a Good-thing. By 'Good' I mean in a spiritual and eternal sense - not a materialist and this-worldly sense. The process is Good for our souls, even when it is bad for our minds and bodies.

It is Good because it is better than the alternative; which is more of the same as we have been getting for the past fifty years; and which has led-to, is leading to ever-more, materialism, hedonism, short-termism, hopelessness, cowardice, despair... and consequently the active-embrace-and-propagation of lies, ugliness, sin and all other forms of evil.

The news, the law, the workplace, the schools and colleges, the mainstream churches - are pushing the evil agenda more and more aggressively, extremely, and rapidly. Whether this is because they can't help themselves, or because they feel that all opposition has now been crushed - or whether they fear that people might wake-up and push back (or from some blend of these) doesn't really matter: It Is Happening.  

Because things are coming to a point, it gets easier to notice and understand what is happening; and this a Good because it is something that each individual can only do For Himself. If he does not do it For Himself, then it merely passive, therefore it has Not Actually Happened.

Of course, so far, things have been coming to a point, Good and evil are ever-more-clearly distinct - and people have been choosing evil en masse. So be it. People have agency, people can choose evil, and they are apparently doing so in very large numbers. If so, they have made their choice and Will live with that choice (unless or until they repent it, which usually gets harder with time).

This is a test for everyone: it is a test for Christians. Christians are confronted with worldly-expediency versus spiritual virtue again and again, every day and in multiple situations; and their response (I mean their response in their own thinking) will necessarily go one way, or the other way.

Our true motivation is recurrently being tested, hence refined and strengthened.

This is Good and we ought to be grateful; because this is exactly theosis; it is how we grow in divinity (or the opposite).


Excerpt from Chapter 4 of That Hideous Strength, giving the origin of the concept of 'Things coming to a point':

"Have you ever noticed," said Dimble, "that the universe, and every little bit of the universe, is always hardening and narrowing and coming to a point?"

His wife waited as those wait who know by long experience the mental processes of the person who is talking to them.

"I mean this," said Dimble, in answer to the question she had not asked. "If you dip into any college, or school, or parish, or family--anything you like--at a given point in its history, you always find that there was a time before that point when there was more elbow-room and contrasts weren't quite so sharp; and that there's going to be a time after that point when there is even less room for indecision and choices are even more momentous. Good is always getting better and bad is always getting worse: the possibilities of even apparent neutrality are always diminishing. The whole thing is sorting itself out all the time, coming to a point, getting sharper and harder. Like in the poem about Heaven and Hell eating into merry Middle Earth from opposite sides . . . how does it go? Something about 'eat every day . . . till all is somethinged away.' It can't be eaten, that wouldn't scan. My memory has failed dreadfully these last few years. Do you know the bit, Margery?"

"What you were saying reminded me more of the bit in the Bible about the winnowing fan. Separating the wheat and the chaff. Or like Browning's line: 'Life's business being just the terrible choice.'"

"Exactly! Perhaps the whole time-process means just that and nothing else. But it's not only in questions of moral choice. Everything is getting more itself and more different from everything else all the time. Evolution means species getting less and less like one another. Minds get more and more spiritual, matter more and more material. Even in literature, poetry and prose draw further and further apart."

Mrs. Dimble with the ease born of long practice averted the danger, ever present in her house, of a merely literary turn being given to the conversation.

"Yes," she said. "Spirit and matter, certainly. That explains why people like the Studdocks find it so difficult to be happily married."

"The Studdocks?" said Dimble, looking at her rather vaguely. The domestic problems of that young couple had occupied his mind a good deal less than they had occupied his wife's. "Oh, I see! Yes. I dare say that has something to do with it. But about Merlin: what it comes to, as far as I can make out, is this. There were still possibilities for a man of that age which there aren't for a man of ours. The earth itself was more like an animal in those days. And mental processes were much more like physical actions. And there were--well, Neutrals, knocking about."


"I don't mean, of course, that anything can be a real neutral. A conscious being is either obeying God or disobeying Him. But there might be things neutral in relation to us."

"You mean eldils--angels?"

"Well, the word angel rather begs the question. Even the Oyéresu aren't exactly angels in the same sense as our guardian angels are. Technically, they are Intelligences. The point is that while it may be true at the end of the world to describe every eldil either as an angel or a devil, and may even be true now, it was much less true in Merlin's time. There used to be things on this earth pursuing their own business, so to speak. They weren't ministering spirits sent to help fallen humanity, but neither were they enemies preying upon us. Even in St. Paul one gets glimpses of a population that won't exactly fit into our two columns of angels and devils. And if you go back further . . . all the gods, elves, dwarfs, water-people, fate, longaevi. You and I know too much to think they are just illusions."

"You think there are things like that?"

"I think there were. I think there was room for them then, but the universe has come more to a point. Not all rational things perhaps. Some would be mere wills inherent in matter, hardly conscious. More like animals. Others--but I don't really know. At any rate, that is the sort of situation in which one got a man like Merlin."

"It all sounds rather horrible to me."

"It was rather horrible. I mean even in Merlin's time (he came at the extreme tail end of it), though you could still use that sort of life in the universe innocently, you couldn't do it safely. The things weren't bad in themselves, but they were already bad for us. They sort of withered the man who dealt with them. Not on purpose. They couldn't help doing it. Merlinus is withered. He's quite pious and humble and all that, but something has been taken out of him. That quietness of his is just a little deadly, like the quiet of a gutted building. It's the result of having laid his mind open to something that broadens the environment just a bit too much. Like polygamy. It wasn't wrong for Abraham, but one can't help feeling that even he lost something by it."

"Cecil," said Mrs. Dimble, "do you feel quite comfortable about the Director's using a man like this? I mean, doesn't it look a little bit like fighting Belbury with its own weapons?"

"No. I had thought of that. Merlin is the reverse of Belbury. He's at the opposite extreme. He is the last vestige of an old order in which matter and spirit were, from our modern point of view, confused. For him every operation on Nature is a kind of personal contact, like coaxing a child or stroking one's horse. After him came the modern man to whom Nature is something dead--a machine to be worked, and taken to bits if it won't work the way he pleases. Finally come the Belbury people, who take over that view from the modern man unaltered and simply want to increase their power by tacking on to it the aid of spirits--extra-natural, anti-natural spirits. Of course they hoped to have it both ways. They thought the old magia of Merlin, which worked in with the spiritual qualities of Nature, loving and reverencing them and knowing them from within, could be combined with the new goeteia--the brutal surgery from without. No. In a sense, Merlin represents what we've got to get back to in some different way. Do you know that he is forbidden by the rules of his order ever to use any edged tool on any growing thing?"

Are things essentially different? Or the same? (Be careful what you assume.)

A lesson of science ought-to-be that as soon as one assumes a distinction, a separation - it can never be overcome unless that assumption is removed.

For as long as the assumption lies-in-place (ignored, forgotten, undetected), a whole world of empirical investigation and hypothetical modelling cannot ever heal the breach made by that assumption.

The same applies to failure to acknowledge a distinction - when one has assumed that two are really one-and-the-same... A whole world of 'evidence' cannot break that assumed unity apart.

Yet one or the other is true - so we must know which!

Thursday 25 October 2018

Imagine a perfect young-childhood

It is difficult - but you may recall a barely conscious state of happiness; from life unfolding in a way that was new and exciting, cosy and safe; surrounded by the love of family, and the adventure of new friends.

Then imagine becoming fully conscious in that same thought-world.

That is our destiny (as God wants it): Final Participation.

It is what we have already known, in glimpses - but we ourselves changed. 

Reader survey: If you lived in Middle Earth - where (and when) would that be?

Would the Golden Hall at Edoras in Rohan (as envisaged by the Two Towers movie) be your favoured abode? 

The survey is posted at the Notion Club Papers blog. Your response is awaited there.

Experiencing the night sky

To experience the night sky is, for an English person, an uncertain joy; clouds may roll and obscure the most anticipated and rare of astronomical events.

Sky watchers are thus compelled to live for the moment; to be nourished by whatever happens to be - and it is never the same twice; although neither is it utterly different from previously (most of the stars are, after all, 'fixed').

Once we have discarded the materialistic frame (vast, empty, meaningless space full of condensing, clashing, exploding gases grinding-towards nothing in particular...); there is always a sense of Beings trying to communicate with the watcher, instantaneously - at the moment of observation (and not, say, many light years ago!)

This opens the mind to the simultaneity of reality; that we can think-, feel-with, know-with many Beings without space being a constraint, because each experiences a common reality.

In sum: I know that star, and that star knows me - and for a reason that is, as yet, unconscious; but which may become conscious, indeed should become conscious.

This is what draws me out, night after night; and by which I value and remember even brief flashes of sightings of some astronomical event.

For instance, this morning it was a full moon whitely back-lighting an extraordinary sky field of hundreds of aligned clouds with gaps between - and Sirius still blazing through the branches of a tree, as the sun dawned.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Mencius Moldbug - his part in my downfall

Mencius - Confucian philosopher...
 and Mencius Moldbug... separated at birth?

I realise that it was as long ago as June 2007 that I first heard of Mencius Moldbug - now self-unmasked as Curtis Yarvin. As can be seen from the link, I heard of him from being a regular reader of the libertarian economics blog of Arnold Kling - and that in itself shows the scale of change that I have undergone in the past 11 years.

In June 2007 I was myself a libertarian-conservative, an atheist (with post-modern New Age leanings) - and my philosophy of life was a kind of utilitarian hedonism based on an application of natural selection theory to human affairs. In other words I was unusual, extreme, a trouble-maker... but still very much within the socio-political-ideological mainstream.

Like most such people, my main concern was that the others of my ilk were always selling-out: and I mean always! For example, I once spent a morning 'advising' Boris Johnson at the House of Commons - and it became clear that while he expressed all the right ideas, he never actually did any of them. The behaviour of economists, libertarians, democracy advocates and indeed the entire mainstream during and after the 2008 (fake) 'economic crisis' made this baked-in corruption clear and certain.

What I first realised from Mencius M. was that this was in the very nature of the supposed-Right in a democracy - such aspects were constitutive of the very system, and would never change for so long as the system remained - and furthermore the system was very resilient.

While I was reading and commenting on Moldbug's weekly 10,000 word essays, and exchanging e-mails with Curtis Y, I began to become a Christian. Along with MM I began to realise that demotivation was perhaps the deepest problem for those opposed to The Left. The mass of Leftists were also demotivated but this mattered little since their strategy was destructive; and destroying is easy, opportunistic, does not need to be strategic; while a credible Right would need to be strategic, consistent, and disciplined.

In retrospect, I think my conversion to Christianity was tainted by these political insights and attitudes, in the sense that I saw the alternative to as lying between Eastern Islam and Western Christianity; and therefore looked to Christianity to provide Western social cohesion. This, in turn, meant that I was drawn to the Episcopal, catholic Christian churches (and, for similar reasons, Mormonism) - and the first couple of years after I became a Christian (around 2008-9) those were the avenues I tended to explore. Although I was also drawn to Conservative Evangelical churches on the basis that they obviously did an much better job at attracting and motivating young people - which seemed to be essential.

By this time, I had 'parted company' with Moldbug. Although he too was obviously interested in the tough, traditionalist Christian churches (such as the Roman Catholic SSPX, and the Church of England under the Stuart monarchs) - he retained his focus on secular politics-economics - and (incoherently with his other views) began elaborating (to quote TS Eliot) a system so perfect that Men would not need to be good - this error was picked-up and run-with by the Neoreactionary movement. 

I don't know whether Mencius Moldbug's blog was decisive to me - probably not - but it was certainly helpful in actually breaking, permanently, my by-then-brittle faith in libertarian, centre-right economics as the basis for human society.

For which I am grateful.

Novalis and Final Participation

Novalis sculpted by the aptly-named Fritz Schaper - perhaps the most beautiful of great thinkers?

I have been aware of the 'German Romantic' Novalis (1772-1801 - he died of TB at age 28) for a long time, but also knew I was not ready to tackle him.

And indeed I misjudged the nature and scope of his achievement; since I assumed Novalis was solely a lyrical poet and romantic novelist - yet I know from experience that this kind of achievement is not translatable.

(I have tried and failed to appreciate lyrical poetry and poetic prose in translation so many times that I have ceased trying.)

Yesterday I felt ready - and discovered that Novalis was a philosopher, scientist and professional mining engineer who wrote on these - and all other - subjects for a projected Encyclopedia (lost for c. 150 years and only translated into English 11 years ago).

I then encountered some of his aphoristic/ 'fragment'-ary philosophical writings; and have seen enough to recognise that Novalis was someone who was embarked in the same cultural project as ST Coleridge; and that - like Coleridge - he was himself writing from a state of consciousness that had attained Final Participation (no wonder Barfield was so powerfully drawn to Novalis!).

After just a day, it already looks like Novalis will be joining my very small and select pantheon of those who (like Goethe, Blake, Coleridge, Steiner, Barfield, Arkle) significantly understood the single most-important issue of human developmental-evolution as it presents to Western consciousness.

George Macdonald's struggles with faith

I am listening to the audiobook of Michael Phillips's biography of George Macdonald (1824-1905).

Having wished to explore this great influencer of The Inklings (especially CS Lewis), I yet found myself unable to engage with any of Macdonald's actual writings - I can't attune to his wavelength... and reading/ listening-to a biography is a tactic I sometimes use in trying to 'get-into' an author.

At present Macdonald is a student at King's College, Aberdeen University; and in a long process of defining and rejecting the un-Christian aspects of the Calvinism of his upbringing - with its (substantially) un-loving God.

My understanding is that McD could not accept (what he had been taught) that a loving God would create a person who was certain to be damned and eternally tormented. I agree that this is unacceptable, to a Christian - and, of course, it destroys the value of free will.

I believe McD then determined upon a universalism of salvation (I haven't reached this point of the biography yet; but I have read that this was McD's mature view); which of course denies human agency/ free will. So hat' won't really do

Any-way... it struck me, for the nth time, how much trouble Christians make for themselves by their determination about infinities and absolutes... That God must be Perfect in all happiness, goodness etc, Omni-potent, -scient and so on and so forth - such that Men have nothing to do other than to obey, to conform to God's will.

And yet it seems pointless for a God of perfection to make creatures only to have them choose only to assimilate wholly to his nature. Obedience seems (by this account) the only valid use of human agency - the correct choice is single and predetermined, even when the outcome of choice is not.

As so often, it is traditional, classical, metaphysical and Not Christian assumptions that are the problem - and which compel Christians to choose between incoherent alternatives.

Those early church Fathers (what actually happened is mostly unknown), who insisted that the only real Christianity must accept their metaphysical (but non-Gospel) prejudices regarding the nature of deity, certainly have a lot to answer for!

Tuesday 23 October 2018

The difficulty of thinking-about-thinking

Thinking-about-thinking is something that we all ought to be thinking-about (I think)...

You see the problem?

Falsely-assuming, wrongly-directed, superficial and manipulated thinking is pretty close to being the core modern problem; yet it is a problem difficult to 'fix' - because it relies upon false/ wrong/ superficial thinking to discover and implement the solution...

I personally find most of what has been written on the subject to be unhelpful, because it falls prey to this boot-strapping paradox (ie. in trying to fix thinking with defective thinking ones is trying to lift oneself off the ground by pulling hard on one's bootstraps).

In particular, I find it painful and ineffectual try try and turn my thinking around to examine itself, as oft-recommended - this feels like trying to rotate my eyes backwards by 180 degrees, in hope of seeing the eyeballs: I can't do it, but even if I could - it wouldn't work...

But on the plus side; real and true thinking is always-going-on somewhere in our minds - albeit ignored and buried; and some-times it comes to the surface.

Yesterday it happened. I found my thinking suddenly clear, self-validating, and able to know reality wherever it roamed. This didn't last long; but I had the advantage of recognising what was happening, and regarding it as true and valuable.

The experience reminded me that real thinking puts down roots into that which is divine in us, and thereby - potentially - comes into direct contact with the thinking of all other Beings that are thinking from their divine selves. All sense of being alienated or cut-off from reality has gone; and I know myself a part of on-going divine creation.

What specific knowledge we get in such a state depends on where our attention is directed - which we control (since we are agent beings), and our own capacity to know.

I strayed from this state by (mistakenly, misusing agency) trying to think of non-realities - and thereby fell-out-from the thought-realm of the divine and into the usual externally-inculcated work of theories, hypotheses, models... of propaganda and manipulation. And so my thinking went back to its usual wrongness, superficiality, dishonesty.

My point here is that primary thinking really is attainable - albeit seldom and briefly. But we need to 'ask the right question'. It is less a matter of discovering and practising some special (esoteric?) method; and more a matter of transforming our ordinary, alert and purposive actual thinking - of having it suddenly put down roots into the real self...

Of the stream of thinking suddenly coming-alive and being intense, powerful, comprehensive.

That's what it feels like. 

The political theatre of Brexit: righteous conflict versus fear & resentment

It is clear, from reading newspaper headlines at the supermarket, that the Brexit process is in a phase of contrived political theatre, staged for the benefit of the gullible masses. But what is the strategy behind the Brexit pseudo-crisis: what is intended by those directing the play?

Immediately after the Brexit vote, for just a few days, there was the possibility (the danger - for the global Establishment conspiracy of demonic servants) that Brexit was about to become a righteous conflict, a showdown between two sides that (very broadly, very approximately) represented Good and Evil, God and the Adversary - with Brexit and Remain approximating for these. There was a 'danger' that Brexit might encourage and energise the ordinary, decent, middling people - and even that it might lead to a spiritual and Christian re-awakening...

Righteous conflict is Good, because necessary for Good: it is, indeed, what we most need, everywhere in this world. But the people of Britain failed this test, and soon allowed themselves to become re-absorbed into the fake conflict of mainstream politics - the same old faces; and mainstream politics has only one side in terms of ultimate objectives - and that side is evil in its various manifestations.

Because the people behind the current Punch-and-Judy show in the mass media do Not want a clear resolution to Brexit, either way. Although they certainly prefer Remain to Brexit; they want even more to have the UK (and everywhere else) locked-into a perpetual state of incrementally-escalating fear and resentment - because that is precisely the Hellish hope.

This plan seems to have gone perfectly: the Brexiteers feel cheated, because they have been cheated by being offered a fake Brexit-in-name-only which fails to include the prime reasons for Brexit - just like the EU but worse.

While the Remainers have developed their already-existing paranoid spitefulenss, and now hate and fear the tens of millions of Brexiteers even more than they did before. Because they now realise that the Brexit-people comprise a majority of the country that the Remainers pretend to rule, and that therefore their 'democratic' legitimacy lies in shreds. Yet, of course, the Remain elite cling to their power, with the increasingly obvious sham-excuse of protecting from 'racism' the newly arrived ten million-plus population of resident migrants whom they have invited to live in Britain - to live, that is, at the expense of the Brexiteers.

So Brexit has been shaped-into a win-win scenario for the powers of evil; and indeed this outcome was inevitable for so long as Britain remained a secular society that believes only in hedonic materialism.

Unless or until this spiritual fact changes, all political change and all stasis will continue to be turned to harm.

How could it be otherwise?

Ninety percent of Sturgeon's Law is crap

Sturgeon's Law is along the lines that - for any given field of endeavour, or Life itself - 90% of what comes-out is crap.

It's intention was, apparently, to argue that even when there is good, worthwhile, valid work to be found - say, in science fiction writing - nonetheless, the bulk of work in the field will be crap: but that 90% of crap ought not to put us off engaging the whole field. We should, it is implied, simply seek-out the good-stuff and ignore the crap.

Another example is that even in the time of Shakespeare, most of the plays written were crap; and indeed a lot of Shakespeare's own output was crap: as is indeed the case for Mozart (who is highly regarded for relatively very few, sublime late pieces from the hundreds of bits of trivial crap that he wrote). I daresay (and this is implied in Plato's dialogues, in reference to the sophists) the large majority of Athenian philosophers at the time of Socrates were mere crap-spouters... but then there was Socrates, there was Plato... and so Greek philosophy was redeemed. 

Maybe this used-to be true - but the Law became popular at a time when it had become false; because 100% of most things is crap.

My impression is that people cite Sturgeon's Law to mean something-like the opposite of its original intent: - they use it to suggest that in any field of obvious crap - such as the modern mass media, mainstream politics, professional science, classical music - there will always be some (?10%) of truth, virtue, beauty, worthwhileness. Yet in these examples there is only crap.

The presence of vast volumes of crap does not - in any way - guarantee the presence of gold in its midst. Just because most of what is produced is always crap, this does Not mean that any of the crap is any good: most crap is simply that - and nothing else.

And this shouldn't be a surprise - because it is hard for anything Good to survive in an unceasing torrent of crap; and therefore, mostly, it does Not survive.

Monday 22 October 2018

Lifestyle blogging...

In line with the general practice of lifestyle bloggers and social media addicts, I though you would be interested to see a photo of my breakfast (sort of); and perhaps, from now on, I should take a photo of every meal I consume, every cafe or restaurant I happen to visit; so that you can envy me my fun existence, and think I am cool... (i.e. cooler than you).

Because we are both (are we not?) deeply insecure people who require to impress and receive validation from strangers and casual acquaintances and mutually-exploitative 'friends'... who covertly despise us and want nothing more than to see us brought low and publicly humiliated...

So what could be better?

In this spirit: here is my (probable) lunch:

The new meaning of Command and Commandment in the Fourth Gospel

There is a sense in which the nature (and history) of Christian churches hinges upon understanding the implications of command and commandment. There is a sense in which the Fourth Gospel (of 'John') amounts to a redefinition, a change in meaning, of command/ ment, and thereby of the nature of what Jesus intended to happen after his death.

If we focus on the use of command/ ment in the Gospel, we can see than the early Old Testament assumption about what this means is subverted by its usage, until it is gradually made clear that the OT assumptions of the Master-servant, Law-obedience model of the relation between God and Men; needs to be replaced by a new 'model'.

In a nutshell: obedience unfolds and is redefined through the course of the Gospel. As Jesus explains (really very clearly, with repetitions in different words) just how he wishes his followers to behave and how they should relate to him, and to each other.

The wishes of Jesus are actually very obvious; but also very different indeed from how 'things turned out'. 

12: 49-50 - For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

This first mention of commanding sounds much like the OT Master-servant relationship - command means law, law implies obedience - blind obedience when the reason for command has not been understood. A top-down model. But...

14:15 and 21 - If ye love me, keep my commandments... He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

So far - what Jesus says is still compatible with the OT - but wait!... Jesus introduces love; and this ought to make us suspect something new and different is going on; because love is not something that can be 'commanded' in the sense of ordered: a command to love cannot be obeyed. One cannot (think about it...) rationally make a Law to love.

The simple fact that we cannot obey an order to love is (I think) obvious once pointed-out; but has failed to register because (it seems) that the Ancient Hebrews operationalised 'love' as 'obedience' - and people (apparently) ceased to notice that obedience isn't really love... 

But Jesus is about to change this. What that fact of not-commandable-love means is that the first and primary two commandments - to love God and neighbour - cannot be 'commands' in the sense in which people usually tend to understand them. The concept of 'command' being used must be different from 'order' - and this is made clear later in the Fourth Gospel. 

From Chapter 15: 12-17 - This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love...

Here is Jesus's new understanding of what command means. To 'abide in love' means something like a harmony of purpose, based on mutual love. And this is clarified by Jesus telling the disciples explicitly that their relation is one of loving friends and Not of Master and servant; that they are not supposed to obey blindly without comprehension - but that he will provide the understanding that is necessary for the disciples to obey from loving harmony of purpose.  

Jesus is asking for love, faith, trust, friendship and loyalty - all of which is distinct from the obedience of a servant due to his Master. Duty may be ordered - but love cannot. 

Therefore, a man must want to be a member of Jesus's 'family'. The community of Jesus's followers is being envisaged as a group of mutually loving friends who mutually love Jesus - that is, as a Christian family, a family of Christians - whose harmony of purpose derives-from this love. And the disciples are specifically told that the proper relationship is not any more to be in the old command-and-obey; Master-and-servant form.

As things happened, a Christian Church was formed, a legalistic organisation based on the assumption that love could be commanded in the sense of being ordered by a Master, and that people could and should obey (if necessary, without comprehension) - like servants.

But it certainly looks as if Jesus went to considerable lengths to explain that this was not what he wanted from his disciples - and that he envisaged his followers as cohering like a family, not as an organisation (legally regulated); growing-from loving personal relationships and a high vision of (family-like) friendship.

Jesus seems to be instructing his discples to discard the OT Master-servant, order-obey, uncomprehending, legalistic relationship; and for it to be replaced by a harmony of purpose, based-on loving friendship, knowedge of Jesus (provided to each individually by the Holy Ghost) - and presumably 'enforced' by mutual loyalty (rather than duty) deriving from the characteristic loyalty among loving family members.

Note: from the above one can certainly see why it was decided to demote the Fourth Gospel to a subsidiary and dependent role - implicitly inferior to the Synoptics and Pauline Epistles. Because when I regard the Fourth Gospel as the most authoritative source on Jesus's life and teachings, and read it in isolation, it does seem to contradict a lot of what has come to be taken for granted - and presumably that fact or problem was noticed by the compilers of the Bible and early scholars - who decided implicitly to disregard the internal evidence of the primacy of the Fourth Gospel, in favour of embedding it in a mosaic of other authors.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Christian v Pagan; Right v Left - what we believe matters...

William Wildblood writes that, more now than ever before, what we believe matters; and no rational adult is exempt: there is no neutral ground:

What we believe reflects what we are. What we reject also reflects what we are. 

There is an argument that different people might simply be focusing on different aspects of the whole and that the truth lies in a reconciliation or integration of various beliefs. No one is completely right and no one is completely wrong. 

I'm afraid this won't do. Like all false arguments, it has elements of truth but there is a fundamental reality that must be acknowledged first before these lesser subsidiary truths come into play. If that is ignored then the lesser truths don't have much significance. 

For instance, pagans might be open to aspects of reality that Christians do not acknowledge. Indeed, they are. However the reality that the spiritual Christians uphold is of a higher order and more profound nature than that of the pagans. It is more comprehensive, deeper and, quite simply, truer. 

Likewise with right and left. The right, when true to itself, sees everything in the light of God, the left sees everything in the light of humanity or that nebulous concept 'the people'. 

Both may be valid. One is considerably more so. They are not equivalent.

Read the whole thing.

The modern college is inefficient, ineffective, too-expensive, and - therefore - very bad at political indoctrination

Bottom-up meets top-down...

A lot of Christians (as well as those secular people who are opposed to politically correct Leftism) regard colleges as major agents of indoctrination - because they do indeed purposively aim to indoctrinate their students.

But colleges do a terrible - and inefficient and expensive - job at indoctrinating (just as they do at educating).

What the total environment of the modern (mostly residential) college does extremely effectively and efficiently is to corrupt its students. 

And corruption (in its various facets) - is (from the point of view of those to sustain the system) the main job of college.

Think about it - from your experience: the typical college leaver is not well indoctrinated, but she has been (very obviously) corrupted.

The expensiveness, and consequent debt, is a feature - not a bug; since it creates dependence on The System which has done, and is doing, the corrupting.

Who exactly are these people who want colleges to be corrupters? Well, there are two groups. The first, at the top, are the demonic powers and those humans who serve them. The second group, at the bottom, are the great mass of people who want to attend college...

To a significant, and often dominant degree, those who wish to attend college, desire to be corrupted: that is, mostly, why they are going.

So there is a top-down with bottom-up collusion and collaboration in corruption. No wonder college does its job so well!

So - one can see why the system of 'higher education' is so robust, so supported, so defended; so large and still expanding!