Wednesday, 3 April 2019

In this Ahrimanic age, Christianity should eschew doubling-down on Ahrimanic responses to the threat of mainstream materialism

I have found a modified version of Rudolf Steiner's schema that evil can be distinguished in two forms - Ahrimanic and Luciferic - to be a valuable tool.

The Luciferic is (roughly) the impulsive, instinctive, self-gratifying, psychopathic kind of evil - as characterised by the frenzied violence and torture of unbridled war; or the greedy lustfulness that drives the sexual revolution. This tended to be the dominant form of evil in ancient times - and of course it still continues.

But that does not capture the modern form of evil - which may originate in this kind of 'id'-driven thirst for instant gratification; but which takes this and operationalises it in the form of definitions, laws, regulations, and bureaucracy - enforced by omni-surveillance and micro-control mechanisms. This is the Ahrimanic - a cold, rational, systematic form of evil.  

In other words, the distinctive and dominant form of evil of this time, of modern times, is totalitarian. The Ahrimanic is the totalitarian, bureaucratic, strategic...

It is the evil of a whole society organised in pursuit of evil that has been pre-defined as Good. It may be an evil without pleasure; evil as an industrial process - a crushing, icy evil. The modern sexual revolution is presided-over, guided, implemented - not by passion crazed Caligulas - but by stony-eyed officials.

The problem is that almost all the real and serious Christian denominations and churches (I mean the best churches - not those that are liberal, apostate, vaguely-Christianised-leftist organisations) still seem to regard evil as Luciferic; and respond to its threat (or try to respond) by doubling-down on the Ahrimanic aspects of Christianity.

For example, the sexual revolution is seen by Christians as primarily about the Luciferic - to be opposed by better organisation. Whereas the real problem is not the work of lust-crazed individuals seeking pleasure; but the Ahrimanic, incremental, planned strategy of a vast army of drab, cold-eyed, strategising bureaucrats; armed with United Nations mission statements, European Union laws, International consensus definitions, guidelines, terms-of-service, models of best practice etc etc.

All too often the Christian response to the sexual revolution has been along exactly the same lines as the totalitarian bureacrats. An increase in planning, systems, supervision; a greater number and precision of rules; tougher enforcement - and so forth.

This is to fight ice with more ice; to fight Sauron with the One Ring. Such a Christianity presents the individual with what looks like nothing more than a choice of rival bureaucracies - one powerful and growing, the other small and collapsing. A choice of two would-be totalitarian monitoring and control systems. Both alienate, both are evil in form.

One can either be crushed by secular materialism, or crushed by religious practices...

The answer to the dominant Ahrimanic evil cannot be merely a different version of the same. Nor can it be a version of old-fashioned Luciferism; which is, anyway, an impossibility...

The middle sixties saw a massive cultural upsurge in the Luciferic (turn-on, tune-in, drop out - let it all hang out etc.) and that would-be explosion of the id and the instinct, merely fuelled decades of ever-expanding and further-encroaching bureaucracy. Nowadays, the Luciferic 'liberation' serves merely as an excuse for ever-more Ahrimanic constraint.

If evil comes from some combination of the domination of the Genital urges (Luciferic), and the raionalism of the 'Left Brain' (Ahrimanic) - what is needed is the Heart. And that is something new, something untried - but something profoundly Christian.

What Christianity needs cannot be captured in any formula or rule (that is just more Ahrimanic stuff) - in a totalitarian age we cannot expect to protect Christianity, or even to be Christian, by adhering to any principle of truth, or any flow-diagram of validity.

Nor can we fall into the trap of regarding anything other than the systematic as Luciferic, hence evil. There is a third way - the way of Jesus - and that is the only Good way. 

We must acknowledge the individual person in relation with God to be the fundamental unit of truth, beauty and virtue. This has been said many times before - but never done. A religion of the heart must be rooted in persons, not abstractions; because only persons can love - yet love is objective, the primary basis of all creation, the heart of Christ's teaching.


Andrew said...

I have seen a useful schema of evil that uses the terms the spirit of Jezebel and the spirit of Pharisee which I believe corresponds closely to Steiner's.

-Andrew E.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Andrew - I have made my own version of what Steiner says : as usual in his later career, he goes into (what I regard as) maniacal detail about even his valid concepts, including predictions of when *exactly* Ahriman will incarnate etc. (If you are interested, he was scheduled to be born at the millenium.) Caveats aside, I have found the distinction very clarifying.

Francis Berger said...

You raise some excellent and insightful points here. Fighting bureaucratic evil with bureaucratic religion does seem counterproductive, to say the least.

I have only a cursory knowledge of Steiner, but the terminology to describe the two forms of evil helped me to better understand each as distinct from the other rather than merely a different aspect of the same thing. You are correct - most people do not truly comprehend cold bureaucratic evil or see it as evil at all.

The Social Pathologist said...

We must acknowledge the individual person in relation with God to be the fundamental unit of truth, beauty and virtue. This has been said many times before - but never done. A religion of the heart must be rooted in persons, not abstractions; because only persons can love - yet love is objective, the primary basis of all creation, the heart of Christ's teaching.

You're really skirting the edge here Bruce.

Seriously, how does the above view differ from Postmodernism; which denies any objective truth, only subjective interpretation?

Then there is the other problem: what is love? The English language permits many ambiguities in its definition.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP I can't cover everything in one blog post! The metaphysical answers are all over this blog, repeatedly, for the past few years - developed from Barfield, and Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom. This refutes the choice of two incoherent alternatives that traditional philosophy provides.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - I don't expect you to agree to this but:

Love is the metaphysical principle of cohesion that is fundamental to creation: it is the background, basis of creation.

First there were Beings, Thinking. Love's origin is the primal love of our Heavenly Parents (Father and Mother, Male and Female), which initiates creation.

Desert Rat said...

Bruce, your are right. The establishment of a personal relationship with our Heavenly Parents is the heart and soul of religion. To know Them is to know Truth for they ARE Truth. I can testify to this but also that, for me, it has been a long, hard road and is full of potholes and detours. I expect to struggle to maintain the relationship until the day I pass from mortality. But on those occasions when Mother and Father are close all of the cares and confusions fall away and a great clarity descends. And the Love is beyond description. That I fail to maintain this always or express it poorly or fail to live up to Them is wholly my fault.

Thank God for Jesus.

Churches exist solely to facilitate the establishment of this relationship and when they take up tasks not directly contributing to achieving this they fall into error and eventually become as much an obstacle to achieving this as any other mortal organization aimed at lesser matters.

Harry J said...

Who or what exactly is my Heavenly Mother?

Bruce Charlton said...

@HJ -