Saturday, 24 November 2018

Any (more) questions?

 Puzzle the donkey...

Since quite a lot of people asked questions a week ago - I thought it might be worth providing a chance for some more...

35 comments:

saladin89 said...

Do you drink alcohol?

Are there any books you recommend for a person who is a theist but unsure if Christianity specifically is the answer? The more books the better.

Do you read the news?

Thanks from Norway

Bruce Charlton said...

Do you drink alcohol?

No - but for health rather than moral/ religious reasons: it increases my blood pressure, triggers migraine, and (even a single glass) gives me a very unpleasant hangover.

Are there any books you recommend for a person who is a theist but unsure if Christianity specifically is the answer?

Not knowing anything about you - I can't make a genuinely helpful recommendation. You might try reading Only the Fourth Gospel ('John') as if it was the Only source about Jesus (trying to ignore everything else you have ever read or heard). First see if it feels intuitively true and valid; if you think so, then try to understand what it says about Jesus.

One thing this Gospel seems to say is that the Holy Ghost will (or can) tell us Everything we Need to know (i.e. without needing to be told, without need for books) - However, the trouble is that our minds are so full of misinformation and false motivations that it is hard to 'hear' the spirit.

The more books the better.

Perhaps it would be better to find One book that speaks to you, and mull over that one for a good while...

Do you read the news?

I look at the headlines - because I literally can't avoid them; and to see what the demonic powers are trying to make us think, and think about today.

Chip said...

With your medical background, I wonder if you have any thoughts on the flu vaccine.

ted said...

I believe your revitalization of Christianity through direct experience, Romantic Imagination, Albion traditionalism is a worthy effort. Yet, it is quite idiosyncratic and has no institutional grounding beyond some bloggers. I know you frown on many Christian denominations with their corrupt institutions, but would it not make more sense to make change on the "edges of the inside" of one of these? Starting any new movement requires much energy, not to mention all the practicalities of organization, money, etc. Most don't go anywhere after the founders pass on.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Chip - I don't have any deep insight excpt a mistrust of official medical receommendations stemming from when I used to be a Public Health doctor working for the NHS 25 years ago. I used sometimes to have a flu immunisation in the winter - but for the past 7 plus years I have instead been taking 25 micrograms vitamin D supplement during the winter; and I have avoided flu during all those years. So far so good.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ted - I'm not doing any work on changing institutions; and I can't see a 'movement' as possible or beneficial here-and now.

I did that kind of thing for about 25 years (writing, lecturing, meetins, starting a magazine) and it was either completely ineffectual or else actually counterproductive (e.g. due to being hijacked by bureaucrats, or serving to rally opposition).

I'm not totally disengaged in that I support a specifci local (conservative evangelical CofE) church with which my family has a longish connection - but it would be wrong for me to try and influence it; not least because it does what it does very well.

There are several specific churches I would like to see thrive - and I would love to be able to get help from a church (without handing over responsibility) - but it just happens that there are none suitable and in range.

My specific recommendation would be that each individual needs to determine these matters from serious intuitive revelation - and some will already be in a church, may remain, may seek to influence without weakening it etc.

Matthew T said...

What are your top five tourist sites in the UK (that readers of this blog would appreciate)?

alexi de sadesky said...

Longtime reader. I wholeheartedly agree with your and Arkle's foundation of existence. I've read nearly every post of yours and only a couple of time have you addressed psychedelics, and in those moments you've admonished them. I am wondering if you have ever tried any psychedelics? I ask because the people I've met who have responded to our understanding of reality in a positive way have generally been people who have had some psychedelic experience. Before meeting a number of people who've had this experience my bias would have told me they would be duped by some demonic force into believing in free love or some such nonsense. After having multiple conversations with mulitiple people who have had experiences and come to very similar conclusions to you and Arkle I am being forced to reconsider what these experiences have to offer for people clouded by the modern world.

Thank you for all you do.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ads - The answer is no. So maybe I'm a counter example?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Matthew - It's hard to recommend to other people - because my own requirements for a holiday centre are not everybody's but four would probably be...

Keswick
Oxford
Stratford upon Avon
Hay on Wye

Shannon said...

Another long time reader here. What are your thoughts on cremation? My mother surprised me over the Thanksgiving holiday when she said she wants to be cremated when she dies. Immediately, I was struck with the sense that cremation is nihilistic. The thought of it is discomforting to me, but I'm open to another perspective.

Korppi on oikeus said...

What is your quest? What is your favorite colour?

Jared said...

Hi Dr. Charlton. I have a question related to spiritual development.
I have the opportunity to do some writing in my life, like in my journal and when I comment on this blog and when I write emails. But it's been a real problem that my writing is even more prideful and cryptic than my spoken communication.
What helps you with your writing and how has it helped you with your spiritual development?

Hrothgar said...

Have you ever given any thought to the idea that real cultural and religious revival within Christendom could still occur, but would have to at least originate on its historical fringes?

I'm thinking particularly of Russia and South America, which have been undergoing something of a religious revival recently, especially the former, and do not number among their problems those three which in combination have proved particularly paralzying to the "West" in recent years and will continue to effectively undermine any chance of reform till it is too late. These are, I think: large-scale genetic decline; the widespread loss of individual courage; and an invicible complacency, based on the naive supposition that the present state of material success, based almost wholly on the past achievements of far more able people than now exist (or where they still exist, are systematically blocked from contributing) will simply continue of its own accord indefinitely.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Shannon - I think it's a question that can't be addressed in isolation, but only in context of a particular world view. On the one hand, and given that people's bodies may be lost or destroyed, the question cannot be central; on the other hand it is clearly not trivial. I don't have any clear opinion on the matter.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Koo - To attain Final Participation, as much as possible; to do what is required to attain it. In broad terms this is the quest of our era in human history - at least in The West.

I don't have a favourite colour!

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jared - I suspect this is probably unusual, but I learned to write by writing scientific papers; therefore I couldn't write until I was about 26-27 and had published a few. I think what it did was make me unselfconscious about the process of writing - it enabled me to look at what I had just-written in an objective way.

Once I had made this breakthrough I was able to write a lot of publishable prose (academic, journalistic) more easily and quickly than most people. But I never succeeded in writing poetry or fiction - the two skills seem to be quite distinct.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Hrothgar - I certainly have considered this - but if this were to happen it would surely amount to a cultural replacement rather than a revival; which would merely be a different version of what is already happening.

Another topic for specualtion is what-if China became a Christian country? - a scenario that requires only a modest extrapolation of current trends...

But none of these address my concern, which is England; and what we are Meant to do.

William Wildblood said...

Would you mind if I responded to the question on psychedelics, Bruce? Don't publish this if I'm butting in but I would like to offer my experience.

I took LSD a few times up to the age of 22, and also morning glory seeds which are a natural equivalent. It did give me an insight into a non-material reality and, to that extent, could be regarded as a valid spiritual tool. But, and it's a very big but, what are you actually doing when you take a drug? You are looking for an experience and, what's more, an unearned experience. What has this got to do with proper spiritual practice which concerns loving God and seeking to purify yourself of egotism and sin so that you may better coordinate yourself to him? It is surely valuing God's gifts (which are his to offer not yours to take) above God himself.

Moreover, what you encounter through drugs may seem to you to be spiritual if you compare it to normal reality but there are many levels of being above the physical, and drugs are much more likely to open you up to psychic but non-spiritual levels in which dwell many kinds of beings, by no means all benign.

What is the history of drug taking? How many people has it made better people? How many saints has it produced? Can you imagine Jesus recommending drugs? Or the Buddha for that matter or any true teacher? It is a diversion away from true spirituality followed by those who want to take the kingdom of heaven by storm, and steal what is not theirs by right.

Drugs may give materialistic people a sense of higher reality and reorient them to spirituality but that is all they can do. Consequently, the best that can be said of them is that they can point in the right direction. But that is their only virtue. In all other respects, they are spiritually damaging and so one experience is enough.

The people you have met who have been changed by their psychedelic experiences are like those Jesus admonished who sought for a sign. Maybe in this benighted age many of us do need a sign but it is far better to qualify for entry into higher spiritual consciousness by changing one's lower nature than by trying to force the higher down into the lower through artificial methods or even, to forestall arguments, natural ones. It is the old story of the ego trying to acquire spirituality on its own terms without making the necessary sacrifices. And, just as much to the point, it will never work.

So, while there may be a certain validity in trying psychedelics once in this hard-hearted age, there is none for continuing with them after the experience has been gained. That way lies spiritual disaster. And "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed".

Lucinda said...

What do you think is the nature of what divides good/moral humour from bad/immoral humour?

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Thanks for that - I was hoping you might chip-in.

@Lucinda - Probably the best short-answer is *motivation* - in the sense that anything, even really good humour, can be misinterpreted, or subjected to a perverted understanding.

So one would need to infer the motivation behind the humour to judge its morality. Of course, as with any inference, one may be mistaken; but that is what we need to do as best we can. Indeed, I would say it is what we we *must* do; but also be prepared to revise our initual judgment in light of further or better evidence.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Are we being invited to puzzle the donkey, or is Puzzle the donkey's name?

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - It's what we doctors call a 'pun'...!

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Ah, it's a Narnia reference. I had completely forgotten. Should probably reread those books one of these days.

Peter said...

Do you have a reading list for Romantic Christianity of authors/poems?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Peter - yes indeed:

https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-lineage-of-romantic-christianity-in.html

Matthew T said...

Do you think other writers may have been "inspired" in the same way as Tolkien? The more that time goes on, I think of Orwell, for example - bright guy, of course, but he nailed it SO well that I suspect some spiritual insight.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Matthew - Quite a few - and I often write about them; by you may mean something rather specific by 'inspired' if you use Orwell as an example. I regard Orwell as knowledgeable rather than inspired - he knew what was going-on, and understood the long-term nature and motivations of the UK ruling class (in its various facets, including the Leftist intelligentsia).

Matthew T said...

you may mean something rather specific by 'inspired' if you use Orwell as an example

No, you've answered the question, thanks.

Ugh said...

Are you still taking questions? What are your thoughts on individual divinity as opposed to the divinity of the community. Are we to be focused on the supremacy of the individual over a collective community of other like minded believers. I always thought Jesus was speaking about (me) the individual with his teachings and parables not a group working as one. I thought that was a major revelation over eastern philosophies that seem less individualistic and more group oriented.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ugh - I am assuming that there have been changes in this over the course of human history; there used to be a solid emphasis on each Man as primarily part of A People - in the Old Testament the empahsis is on the People of Israel.

But I believe that the advent of Christ Began (or, was intended to begin) a very gradual move towards the individual - and this reached its peak from about 1750; when Western men began to experience the world from a state of isolation within their own minds. This is where we find ourselves - this is our starting point.

It is from this extremity of individualistic isolation that we must move outwards and forwards to experience all the rest of reality - again but in a different way.

Karl said...

Has John B. Calhoun's mouse utopia ever been replicated?

Given the money that is spent in often vain attempts to end infestations of mice in human dwellings, the spontaneous disappearance of Calhoun's population should have attracted commercial interest. Maybe we've been doing it wrong. Maybe instead of arsenic, we should be giving our house mice unlimited supplies of kibble and bedding - our houses already offer controlled climate and protection from wild predators. What threshold level of comfort leads to extinction? And why is there no research funding for these questions?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Karl - No it hasn't. I guess you know about my writing on the topic?

https://mouseutopia.blogspot.com/

The extinction seems to have had nothing to do with overcrowding or comfort, as such. I think house mice are still subject to considerable predation - which would presumably maintain genetic quality.

Karl said...

Since we have never kept a cat, I don't know what would have preyed upon our house mice, unless it was centipedes?

But of course we kept their food supply as scanty as we could. Really, we would not have wished to replicate the intermediate stages of mouse utopia in our house, even if the ultimate extinction were certain.

But I am serious in wondering why the original mouse utopia hasn't been replicated, only with modern gene sequencing. And why not vary the conditions in an effort to understand the threshold for the deleterious effects?

Chiu ChunLing said...

It's an expensive experiment with a depressing result that implies a harsh truth that modernists (including the vast bulk of today's scientists) would prefer to ignore. Probably nobody would try to replicate it, modern scientists would claim it would be unethical (some cast that aspersion on the original experiment, since Calhoun had already noticed a fair trend in earlier, less comprehensive, experiments on mice populations with no natural selective pressures).

Snakes and various other small predators are a commonplace danger to mice (cats, foxes, and wolves are all more extraordinary dangers). Most large predators don't need to be particularly larger than their prey. And some can be smaller, spiders can and do kill young mice (not easily or safely, but it's less dangerous and pointless than biting humans, for which spiders are justly famed).