Friday 31 May 2019

Demons with a thumb in the scales: why have all Western societies 'drifted' always-Leftward?

The first step was Western people abandoning Christianity - from the top (most educated, high status, powerful) people on downwards. Abandoning by dilution (liberal Christianity, Christian socialism, socially-orientated nonconformism etc), and by increasing adoption of atheism (aka agnosticism).

A society that saw the world as created, purposive and having objective meaning for every person - and was ultimately orientated towards eternity; was replaced by a society that saw the world as a mixture of accidents and determinism - and only acknowledged meaning and purpose the span of mortal life, and the reality of the material/ measurable/ perceptible world.

It became mainstream, normal, and mandatory in the public sphere to regard life as (at bottom, in reality) a matter of subjective personal emotions on an axis of pleasure and suffering. Therefore, there could be no real idea of progress, of positive change - either for individuals or for society as a whole. Everything was necessarily known to be adrift...

The abandoning of Christianty as primary, was therefore - also and necessarily - an abandonment of long-term (strategic) purpose. 

But if everything was adrift - how come the drift was always towards atheism and the political Left? (Such that the most 'Right wing' mainstream political parties today are far to the Left of the most ardent socialists of seventy years ago. But so rapid is this drift now that we can see it over a timescale of just a few years.)

So that we have a literally insane society that has lost the capacity to speak, apparently even to think, with any coherence about anything? (No matter how urgent and important.) Yet we never significantly drift out of this insanity, but always deeper in.

By my understanding, if drift was genuinely the whole story, the overall movement would have been random - back-and-forth or zig-zags - but not overall directional.

If people, and especially the most educated, high status and powerful people) are indeed adrift on the tides - bobbing-around without organisation or direction; then what is it that has ensured that the tide is always receding?

This is where the demonic comes-in. If we assume that there are such creatures as demons - supernatural and eternal beings who oppose God, love and creation; and are working in that net-direction; then it becomes reasonable to suppose that as men abandoned Christ and saw themselves as arbitrary bundles of short-lived emotions, then demonic power would become decisive.

As we lost the overall Christian purpose and direction and began to drift, then the overall demonic purpose would necessarily and increasingly dominate (because there was no other). 

If demons indeed have a thumb in the scales, tipping them always towards their anti-Christian, anti-Good agenda - then there could be no concerted opposition to this from the drifting of Modern Man. Each Man would see his situation as drifting, yet the tide would always be receding.

The patterns on the surface of the sea might include faster movement with the tide, or short counter-movement against the tide; but at the end of each generation the range of surface movements would have receded a bit further as the tide ebbed.

There have been, it seems likely, different kinds of demons dominant at different points in world history. And the kind that have become increasingly dominant throughout modernity have been termed the Ahrimanic.

Ahrimanic demons are those whose evil is organised, systematic, bureaucratic, materialistic, totalitarian. The evil is cold, humanity-denying, objective, spirit-denying, quantitative (and quality-denying).

(These are not the only kind of demons. For example, others inflame lust, sadism, spite, pride, gluttony etc. But it is the Ahrimanic type that are now by-far the most powerful and least recognised. Unrecognised probably because they have not often or recently been dominant for human society - it was the Industrial Revolution - with its division of labour, massive expansion of trade and technological innovations - that created a situation in which the Ahrimanic could thrive.)

The demonic thumb of this type is what has been pressing-down on all forms of social organisation, as well as upon individual modern Men, with increasing strength for the past two centuries. Such demons have affected all forms and types of organisation - including the Christian churches - so that our world experience is nowadays of encroaching and tightening bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy is evil intrinsically, and it tends towards greater bureaucracy and greater evil. It is - I suggest - the primary weapon of the main type of demons that are both the most influential, and simultaneously the least detected and opposed, in these modern times.

The demonic thumb is mostly experienced as the pressure of bureaucratic, System-atic, humanity-denying organisation; and until this is known as evil we will remain helpless to resist the Leftward tidal drift; even if we are (currently) Christians. 

When The System has become net evil - it must end

Assuming that this mortal life is an experience for learning what we need for eternity; there comes a point at which The System (which nowadays is a totalitarian global bureaucracy, mostly administered by docile servants and possessed slaves of demons) become net evil and must be allowed to destroy itself.

Creation is Good, and conversely evil is anti-creation. It is the Good within and around The System that enables it to accomplish anything, and when this Good is withdrawn The System will collapse.

Consider your own experience of working in your local branch of The System, within any branch of the single global bureaucracy = any institution, organisation or corporation of more than moderate size and power...

You will recognise that such groups function nowadays Only by those people who perform their function despite the institutional incentives. Those individuals who do exactly what they are 'supposed to do', function as almost-pure 'managerial' parasites; and an organisation that best fulfils its bureaucratic function is almost-wholly a-functional and actually-parasitic.

It is the Good people and those who (some of the time) do Good things, against the spirit and letter of what they are 'supposed to' do, who maintain the world in face of the mass of evil people and the evil that all Men do much of the time...

All that is necessary is for the Good people to stop doing Good, and everything will collapse; and since The System is ever-more orientated towards the prevention of Good and enforcement of evil - this point will inevitably arise so long as The System survives. As The System develops, the Good will simply become unable to do Good.

So, either The System will collapse soon because it implicitly seeks its own collapse; or else The System will collapse later, when it has sufficiently suppressed the remaining Good.

Thus evil is self-limiting, by its nature. Obviously.

Of course, the collapse of The System will not - of itself - do any Good at all; but would only do Good if the experiences led to spiritual learning.

The collapse of The System would lead to the deaths of billions of people, but of itself that is a neutral fact - since everybody will die sooner or later. The question is what happens to these people after they die; and that is mostly a matter of what these people want... Their inner motivations, their spiritual (or otherwise) aspirations - whether they are motivated by (real, objective) Love or by (subjective, evanescent) pleasure...

Nothing (I believe) is more important than a person's basic assumptions concerning the nature of reality, of Life, of his place in the scheme of things and what he ultimately wants. Is this world one with prupose and of meaning? Is there a niche for each individual within purpose and meaning? What is the role of freedom, and what its possible aim?

It would potentially be of incalculable value if such matters could become the subject of thinking.

Thursday 30 May 2019

Why are the intellectual English facetious (even when they are not actually funny)

Wilde certainly did not invent English facetiousness, but permanently re-established its fashionability 

The facetiousness of the English intellectual class is a genuine National characteristic. It can be seen in the triviality and unrelenting forced wittiness of every-day conversation in the universities (from the newly arrived student to the senior professors) and in mass media - from the sniggering of TV and the tabloids, to the glib smugness of elite productions such as the Economist and the Financial Times.

It is found in medicine, law, and all the professions. And it has spread to include more people all the time.

Facetiousness is high status, and earnestness a sign of unintelligence and/or dangerous fanaticism.
But facetiousness is something that precludes genuine attainment - and for the best artists, musicians, writers, creative scientists etc, facetiousness was a pose that needed to be dropped when serious work was afoot; only to be resumed when 'normal life' was resumed.

So, facetiousness made the intellectual class radically and ineradicably two-faced, and unintegrated as personalities. It was what made many of the great geniuses of England intolerable as people to the geniuses of other nations (e.g. cultural Germans such as Wittgenstein, Karl Popper). And intolerable to working class geniuses (such as DH Lawrence and Colin Wilson.)

Indeed, probably the reason why I have always noticed and disliked this aspect of Englishness is that I have the hereditary earnestness of someone from a working class background. 

And this lack of integration, further, was a weakness at the heart of English life since the terrible religious civil wars of the seventeenth century.

My guess is that this facetiousness emerged in the period of the Restoration (King Charles II - for instance the 'Restoration comedies') and became dominant in the middle 1700s (the author Laurence Sterne was an exemplar).

My interpretation is that it was related to the rise of the Romantic impulse, which came first among the upper classes - then worked down. Facetiousness is a denial of Romanticism, a keeping-in-place of Imagination, so that imagination would not disturb the growing materialism; the growing pragmatism, bureaucratization, scientism which underlay Britain's rise as a world power and the first industrial nation...

The positive excuse for facetiousness was probably to avoid the religious wars. The rationale was that if religion was made a superficial matter, then it would not motivate people enough to fight about it. This was true, people were thus demotivated; and it was effective in that specific goal.

(The lower classes found this intolerable, and there were several nonconformist (i.e. not state religion) revivals among them from the late 1700s onward. But then they, too, were incrementally affected by facetiousness - perhaps mainly via the mass media and the sexual revolution.) 

But the demotivation did not stop there - far from it - it became all-pervading (esepcially after 1945, and more so fater 1967).

Because we have a national ethos of facetiousness, the English (and British more generally) are probably among the most demotivated people in world history. And therefore among the least able to learn from spiritual experience.

Primarily political? Politics versus religion and the nature of modern demotivation

Building on the point made in yesterday's post; it could be said that the majority of Westerners are primarily political in their motivation - and in this group are mostly those who are atheistically-political, but also a range of people who are religiously-political (with a variety of religions and denominations).

It might be asked: What is wrong with being primarily political? The answer is that it does not work as a strategy for life - because it is insufficiently motivating. This can be seen everywhere in the developed world among all groups that have abandoned religion as their core value system.

This is evidence that being primarily political does not work, anywhere or among any group, as a long-term strategy for human living. That seems to be a fact - for what its worth - which is not much, since one aspect of being primarily political is a denial of facts. Since, the more political a person, group or nation becomes; the less concerned they are about reality - and all genuine facts derive from a knowledge of reality. 

Of course, this is the opposite of what the primarily political say - they say that it is religion which distorts and denies reality and facts; and in support they will provide a great litany of falsehoods and distortions... (such as the myth of Galileo).

Why? because religion (taken as primary) can and should be about reality; while politics (taken as primary) can only be about 'psychology' - can only be (at bottom line) about how people think, feel, are made happy or miserable etc - and one thing we all learn is that how a person or group thinks, feels and is happy of miserable is labile and incoherent. Politics is as incoherent as its bottom line in human emotions.

Jumping ahead several steps - my point is that a world in which politics is primary, and in which people operate on a basis of being primarily political, will be a demotivated world in the medium to long term.

Almost anything can be made or become a strong motivator in the short term (sex, for example; but also any of the many carrots and sticks of the modern mass media, any of the incentives of a modern employer...) - but not many things work as motivators in the medium to long term; not many things are able to provide strong and strategic motivation.

In fact there is is one thing that can provide a strong and strategic motivation - and that is religion, and furthermore only some religions.

But we live in times when almost all religions (for one reason or another, or for several reasons) fail to provide a ready-made motivation

Past generations could usually choose to go along with - become motivated by - a strong, local, social religion. these are pretty much destroyed, and usually corrupted to be primarily political - hence not-motivating.

Therefore (as I understand things):

1. We must become primarily religious - or else our motivation will be too feeble to live; and we will in practice pursue a life of short termist pleasure seeking, long termist suicide.

2. We must put in considerable individual work on our religion - we must actively do for our-selves most of what was (in the past) passively absorbed from already-existing religious institutions.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

The two faces of modern nationalism

I've written a lot about nationalism over the past decade, because it seems that far too many people have pinned their hopes on it in the belief that nationalism is a way-out from the incremental suicide of The West... It is not.

Nationalism is far too feeble a motivator in Western societies here and now; it amounts to little more than a lifestyle choice. And indeed nationalism has historically only been a strong motivator very temporarily, and for the first post-religious generation after Christianity was abandoned.

In our modern West, nationalism has two different faces -

1. Secular Nationalists/ Christian Nationalists

2. Nationalist Christians

The distinction is between those for whom nationalism is the bottom line - and who may be also be mainstream atheists, or Christians - or indeed neo-pagans; and those for whom Christianity is the bottom line. (In this respect is does not matter much whether the nationalists are secular, Christian or pagan - because their motivations are not religious; hence their motivations are inevitably feeble.)

In this modern world, all those for whom religion is Not the priority are all in the same category, which is: demotivated and doomed.

And on the other hand, those for whom Christianity is the bottom line, and whose nationalism appears within that context, are qualitatively different. A genuinely religious perspective is (almost always) an absolute requirement for a coherent (hence courageous) life.

Only when a (first) devoutly religious Christian (secondarily) becomes a nationalist, is nationalism given a solid base in motivation hence courage. 

And only such nationalism is Good nationalism. Nationalism that is not rooted in religion is merely a variant of mainstream hedonic materialism - it is just a difference of opinion about which groups should be favoured by The System.

And for a Christian, it is mainstream hedonic materialism that is the primary enemy, the primary evil, the 'Ahrimanic' demonic side of our pervasive spiritual war.

And in that war, those who are primarily-nationalists are on the wrong side; even when they are not quite so bad as the globalist left.

Note added. Secular Nationalists will complain that all the mainstream Christian Churches are corrupted by Leftism (which is true); but they therefore decide not to have anything to do with Christianity. Yet these same people regard all the mainstream Political Parties as corrupted by Leftism (which is true) but in this instance, instead of having nothing to do with politics; they instead decide to expend considerable time, effort, resources in reading and thinking about Nationalism, trying to develop a more-correct political philosophy - and perhaps even working upon a new and less-corrupt Political Party. If someone was really serious about Christianity, he would not regard his relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ to be restricted and determined by the range of possibilities that happen to be offered by his current local churches. A serious Christian would put at least as much effort into developing a true personal faith in the face of (despite) church decline/ corruption/ treachery, as a serious Nationalist puts effort into following blogs, debating issues, reading magazines and texts, attending meetings, canvassing votes and planning direct actions. Our revealed preferences, our actual choices, show our underlying lack of seriousness about religion. For modern Man, the feeblest excuse is sufficient to give up entirely on Christianity. For example, many are eager to find an excuse to eject Christian faith because it constrains their sexual gratification. Instead of becoming a Christian outside any church; such eagerly declare themselves morally disgusted by 'the whole Christian thing', and promiscuously embrace whatever forbidden sexual practices happen to appeal under cover of 'right wing' idealistic nationalism. 

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Iceland refutes nationalism

I went to Iceland 20 years ago, and became fascinated by the place such that I read about 40 books and read the online Iceland Review for a couple of years.

It seemed an unique place - almost every person was descended from the Viking settlement, almost everybody was related to everybody else and knew the exact degree of their relatedness. They have their unique language and a great literature - even in the 1990s the sagas were still a matter of everyday discussion. The population was about 270,000 and it was like a single extended family. It seemed to me that the future of Iceland's culture was assured, and that Icelanders would surely look after themselves - why not?

Well, it hasn't happened, Iceland has gone the way of everywhere else - just as bad as if they had been in the European Union. Their fertility rate is below replacement levels, yet the population has been bloated by the nations first significant immigration for hundreds of years - coming from all over the place - new arrivals will soon amount to 15% of the population. The population of this little island has increased by a staggering 25-30 percent - entirely from recent migrants.

Thus Iceland refutes nationalism. There couldn't be anywhere in the developed world that was more strongly nationalist than Iceland 20 years ago, that was more conducive to nationalism, and that had more cohesion. Iceland was among the wealthiest countries in the world, per capita; and had every imaginable reason to remain distinct and separate.

None of that made any difference whatsoever - Iceland are exactly as bad as everywhere else. Ergo Nationalism Is Useless. It's a waste of time. Forget it.

What is missing? Religion of course. Having abandoned Christianity (like everywhere else in The West) Iceland is destroying itself - strategically, purposefully, moralistically (like everywhere else in The West).

Man cannot live without religion, because without religion Man has no reason to live. The evidence is all around us - but our Godless assumptions render evidence ineffectual.

We will incrementally destroy ourselves unless we get religion, and the getting of religion must come first - because you couldn't get a more deep-rooted, biologically and culturally-based nationalism than Iceland - and it made No Difference At All

Love and Time = Creation

What Owen Barfield (drawing on Steiner) terms 'polarity' - I have reformulated as Beings in Relationship.

In other words, polarity is described abstractly in terms of a self-generating distinction, a dynamic process - but ultimately I understand this is terms of the Beings that constitute reality having Relationships.

When it comes to Creation - the relevant Relationship is Love.

To put it differently - When Love between Beings acts over Time, there is Creation.

This applies to God - it is God's Love acting through Time, that is Creation. (In other words, the process of love between beings in intrinsically creative.)

However, when Time (process, change) is Not mediated by Love; then we have evil - because any relationship other-than Love is anti-Creation.

So the Good/ Positive situation is of Creation (made by Love through Time).

Not-Love (anything other-than Love) is a negative situation - and is destructive of Creation.

(This is evil and the situation is hell. Absence of Love is hell.)

Not-Time is No-Creation; it would be Stasis; it would be neither Good nor evil; neither Heaven nor Hell - but Just-Be.

(Not Be-ing - just Be, just mere Existence.)

This situation is the Nirvana asserted by 'Eastern Religion'.

Note: This clarifies why Christians should acknowledge the reality and necessity of Time - and should set-aside pre-Christian hangovers and metaphysical errors (common to almost all mainstream, classical Christian theology) about God being outside-of-Time, or a state of Timelessness being the highest state. One would have thought (hoped) that the incarnation of Christ in history would have made this clear - but apparently not. Unless there is Time, there would be no Good, no direction, no Freedom - and no Love. Thus Time is necessary for Christianity; without Time, Christianity is refuted. It is a superiority of Romantic Christianity that it regards Time as necessary and intrinsic. 

The commandment to love God (above all else) - what does it mean?

If it seems like nonsense to command love - clearly we are misunderstanding the instruction; since the modern idea of love as intense emotion cannot be 'commanded' (although it can sometimes be manipulated).

I think the meaning of the commandment to love God is quite simple: it is that we must acknowledge the objective reality of love. And that this acknowledgment should be the foundation of all else.

Pick that apart... Love is a reality, therefore not an illusion; it is something that is of universal validity and knowability - therefore not just a 'psychological' emotion that happens 'inside' an individual person's head and body. Since it is a foundation; love is potentially eternal - therefore not a temporary, fragile, corruptible thing.

The commandment means that love is The most important thing that Beings can do.

Furthermore, as well as being real - love is Good.

We are being told that love is the primary value; that love is more important than anything else.

And told that there is No Conflict among loves.

When we think there is a conflict, it is because of our failure to understand.

There is no conflict among loves for the same kind of reason that there is only One right course of action in any circumstances. So-called 'moral dilemmas' are merely a consequence of trying to reduce the unique specificity of true morality to a System of (inevitably, intrinsically) generalised, simplified and partial Laws.

True Morality is the One Right Path. True Love is which sustains creation and enables us to participate in creation.  

In being asked to love God first and foremost - we are actually being told that love of different Beings and (and love of so-called Things) can never be in conflict - that all specific loves (eg of specific people) are instances of the general objective reality of that love which holds-together the universe of reality.

We are Not being commanded to love God 'more than' our wife, children, parents... we are instead being told that the objective value and goodness of these specific loves is only possible because we inhabit a creation that is itself founded-upon love.

Because, if we did Not inhabit a loving creation; then love really-would-be just a private emotion in a mortal world - love would be certain to decline with age and disease, sure to be destroyed by death.

So, the commandment to love God first and foremost is actually that which enables, sustains and makes serious all other loves. It is simply a recognition that love is the cohesion of creation.

Monday 27 May 2019

Martha's perspective: Mary Magdalene and the death of Lazarus in the Fourth Gospel

I have been reading Chapter 11 of the Fourth Gospel (the 'raising of Lazarus' episode) to understand the role of Mary and Martha, sister of Lazarus.

I am reading this with the conviction that Mary of Bethany is the same person later referred to as Mary Magdalene, and that she was the wife of Jesus (they married at the water-into-wine feast in Cana, described earlier in the Gospel). I also assume that Lazarus was the 'beloved disicple', and author of the Fourth Gospel. All this is covered in my mini-book on the Fourth Gospel.

This means that - at the time of the events described in John: 11, Lazarus was still dead - and therefore he must have been writing on the basis of some other person's account. Therefore, this section is one of the few parts of the Fourth Gospel where the author is not an eye-witness.

The internal evidence of Chapter 11 suggests that the eye-witness the resurrected consulted was Lazarus's sister Martha, since she is the central character.

Mary was not, I assume, available to be consulted; since the Gospel was written some time after Jesus's ascension; and Mary, as the wife of Jesus, had presumably died-resurrected-ascended with her husband (as seems to be indicated when Mary met Jesus as the tomb and he made the 'touch me not' series of comments indicating they will both ascend to Heaven to be together. In other words, at the time of the Fourth Gospel was written, Mary was 'dead'.

So, we get the events of the raising of Lazarus from Martha's perspective. This is why her conversation is reported in detail, but not the conversation between Jesus and Mary (since Martha was not present (Mary is made merely to repeat a part of what Martha had said).

A striking aspect of this passage, is contextual: the suggestions that Mary was important and had some kind of following - as would be expected for the wife of Jesus.

Apparently Mary was 'in the house', with a group of The Jews, who then followed her when she came to Jesus (supposedly thinking she was going to weep at the grave). And in verse 45 there is a reference to The Jews who came to Mary.

It seems likely that Mary - wife of Jesus and sister of the recently-deceased disciple of Jesus - was a person of some importance, and the focus of public interest or concern, but Martha was not.

John.11 [1] Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. [2] (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) [3] Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. [4] When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. [5] Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. [6] When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. [7] Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. [8] His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? [9] Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. [10] But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. [11] These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. [12] Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. [13] Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. [14] Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. [15] And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. [16] Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. [17] Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. [18] Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: [19] And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. [20] Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. [21] Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. [22] But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. [23] Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. [24] Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. [25] Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: [26] And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? [27] She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. [28] And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. [29] As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. [30] Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. [31] The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. [32] Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. [33] When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, [34] And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. [35] Jesus wept. [36] Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! [37] And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? [38] Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. [39] Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. [40] Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? [41] Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. [42] And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. [43] And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. [44] And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. [45] Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. [46] But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

Sunday 26 May 2019

The most-alliterative decent-quality verse I've ever seen

Has been posted at William Wildblood's blog.

Sixteen lines, and (since this is William Wildblood) every word begins with W; it makes sense - and even has a certain Old/ Middle English rugged grandeur..

Take a look...

The Fish Can Sing - by Halldor Laxness, 1957 (Translated by Magnus Magnusson)

This is certainly one of my favourite novels; and, I would say - despite that it is translated from the Icelandic - one of the best I have read. I can pick it up, open it anywhere, and immediately be transported to the land between the Tjornin pond and the sea-edge in Reykjavik around 1900.

A book of a very particular, unique, poetic, surreal and humorous atmosphere - full of the strangest, yet simultaneously most commonplace, characters; a book quite unlike any other.

Including being unlike other books by Laxness. I have read about six of his novels, and each was extremely different from all others - except in the underlying signature: a flavour and style of prose. In Laxness, time is slowed-up to reveal the epiphanic significance of each moment, the way that each moment unfolds an ultimate significance.

Despite all this; the novels do not contain answers - because Laxness himself did not have answers. He understood the detailed nature of the problem of human life; he understood some of the things that needed to be fixed in life - but he did not know the Big Picture, indeed he probably denied the reality of any Big Picture (was indeed hostile to any who claimed to know it), and so his books are always sad at a deep level.

This book is sad with knowledge of the child's life of unconscious immersion in the world of spirit - lost to adults, lost in history. There is an indirect exploration of Taoism - as the yearning for restoration of this life - and simultaneously the knowledge that this cannot be more than a superficial and bracketed (and thus insincere) recovery of that lost innocence.

The hope is that, for moments, there can be a recovery and satisfaction in art - in this book in song, in another book in poetry, in another in 'folklore' - and there can indeed be such moments. But there is an awareness that if moments are all, and these moments lost in change and mortality - if that is All There Is, then they they are mere pleasantly-delusional sticking plasters on the Big Problem.

Nonetheless, this book does a great deal - more than nearly all books; and it crease a trance-like state in which knowledge becomes experience. To read The Fish Can Sing - translated by Magnus Magnusson* - is to experience its world and people. It's up to each of us to learn from that experience.

*Magnus Magnusson was a household name in Britain through the 1970s onwards, mainly for presenting an extremely popular (indeed iconic) TV quiz called Mastermind, also for various TV documentaries. I exchanged a few e-mails with him nearly 20 years ago in relation to his Halldor Laxness translations - which are among the best translations of anything I have ever read. Coincidentally, some of MM's direct descendents are friends of my close family, although I've not met them.

Thursday 23 May 2019

Herding cats? - individual evaluation and agency is the only proper opposition to totalitarianism

If Romantic Christians want to oppose totalitarianism, there is a temptation to 'organise', to create an oppositional 'army' (an 'army of liberation'); but - even if it were possible, which it is not - that would essentially be the Boromir Strategy - Hey lads, let's use the One Ring to fight Sauron!

Because the core problem is The System, and organisation involves creating a Sub-System with The System - using System features such as money, laws, media etc - then attempting to use this Sub-System to destroy The System.

It never works because it can't work.

This was brought to mind on this day when UK people are having an election for MEPs, i.e. members of the European Parliament - and there is a chance to register a vote in favour of Brexit. A Brexit 'party' (a Sub-System of The System) has been created, plus a couple of other Brexit possibilities. So this is a protest election, therefore a chance for each individual vote to be 'make a difference', perhaps?

But to make a political party, to support a party, to join an election, to vote is to participate in The System; is to become complicit - and to become a part of the controlled-opposition (spiritually to join oneself with Emmanuel Goldstein, who is The System's manufactured-fake enemy). To vote is the Boromir Strategy...

If not, then what? If I suggest that organising, voting, participating-in The System is actually making-things-worse - then what should people do instead?

('Instead', since whatever we have-been doing is clearly ineffective.)

Instead, we should beach of us become really and truly self-motivated self-evaluators, agents who thinf for our-selves, from our freedom - who believe not what we are told but what we know from personal experience understood by direct intuition, who think not as we are told but as what arises from-with; be individuals whose behaviours can neither be predicted nor manipulated en-masse.

We should behave like cats; and cats cannot be herded.

Thirty-plus years ago - government Health Service policy broke ineffectually over the barrier of General Practitioners - Family Physicians - because each was an independent agent, and spiritually each was stubbornly independent (for better and for worse - but independent).

I worked in the NHS bureaucracy for a couple of years, and the government officials often complained that that trying to control General Practice by changing policies and rules was like herding cats - their exact words - in other words it could not be done, because GPs were not predictable in their behaviour; under the same policy, each was likely to go off in his own direction, without regard for the group.

It did not much matter what you did to one GP, because most of the others regarded themselves as living in a different world. In practice, The System either had specifically to control each GP as ?50,000 separate units; or else there would not be much control.

That was then, this is now> Now there is a massive system of detailed (patient by patient) online surveillance and monitoring, a single imposed-contract for all, and the work and payments is broken up into multiple separate (monitored) units; and GPs are increasingly organised in increasingly-large groups. The GP is de facto (when not in practice) an employee of The System.

British GPs are no longer cats but instead sheep - or, increasingly, archetypal-movie-lemmings; who were, in reality, being herded off cliffs by unseen Disney technicians...

(An exact analogy for Western Man with respect to the Global Establishment.)

And what applies to GPs in microcosm applies to Western Man. This is what it is to live under a totalitarian system - no longer to be an agent, not to have one's own unique motivation, to be monitored and manipulated in large, impersonal units, by bureaucratic systems of rules, incentives and punishments. 

We need to become cats, cease being lemmings.

From 'Team building away-days' to Demonic rule of the world

It must have been two or three decades ago (depending on one's job) that Team Building, and Away Days became a part of corporate and institutional life here in Britain. These are (cynical) attempts to manufacture a kind-of temporary and transferable 'loyalty' that can then be (temporarily and transferably) be exploited by the organisation.

Another thread was the advent and increase of internal propaganda - so that public relations units came into existence, and expended considerable energy on 'advertising' to the employees of the organisation itself - magazines, newsletters, weekly 'festivals', banners, posters, meetings, TV screens... all propagandising about the organisation's mission, successes, importance, virtue etc.

There was also a great increase in the general ideological monitoring of employees - a reintroduction and inversion of the pre-modern era when all people in all groups were expected to support the state religion, attend compulsory church services, adhere to mainstream religious morality in their private lives - and where all social institutions would aim to enforce this. It again became normal for a person not to be appointed, not to be promoted and to be sacked for failing to practice the approved ideology. 

As usual, such events were misunderstood to be an expensive waste of time and resources, because they were ineffective at achieving their stated, explicit goals - distracting people from the fact they such behaviour was instead achieving unstated, implicit goals.

Thus the modern organisation was equipped with the apparatus of the typical secular totalitarian state; thus the modern organisation was made into a unit of the totalitarian society.

What this actually means is that all institutions became very similar - in their core, mandatory, ideological activities. And this means that all organisations become inessential, replaceable, disposable...

What this means is that from the individual perspective, there is no reason for loyalty to any social group - since all groups are merely versions of the same ideology, and all groups are mere expediences.

What this means is that all people with power and responsibility - I mean the managers, the chief executives and the like - have no interest in the organisations they administer. They all do a job, and that job is transferable to other organisations that ostensibly do other things - indeed, that is the normal career path. A CEO might run a cheese factory, then a charity, then a university, then a government department, then a bank, then the United Nations...

What this means is that predatory management is normal, indeed almost compulsory; and extends to the very top of society. Every Boss is exploiting the organisation for his career, and is perfectly happy when the organisation declines, goes bankrupt, or is taken-over - so long as his career trajectory continues upward.

And this, as I say, goes all the way to the top - to the Head of State - the Prime Minister, President or whatever. People seem surprised that Heads of State behave such as to destroy their 'own' political parties, but this is just normal careerism. People seem surprised that Heads of State strategically and sytematically works to destroy the nations that they ostensibly head-up, but this is just normal careerism.

The only point at which this disloyalty stops is - presumably - the Global Establishment; which I believe to be demonically controlled (and indeed possessed).  At thta leye either you are loyal to the agenda of evil, or else you are your-self incorporated as a part of it.

Thus purposive, strategic evil permeates the world, pretty much from top to bottom. Of course They don't make everything that everybody does all or the time into evil - that is much too difficult; and indeed evil can only (in principle) be partial if it is to be effective...

However They are running this world at the level of all major organisations, institutions and corporations; and it is important to acknowledge the fact. 

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Two decisive differences between Christianity and Eastern Religions (such as Buddhism)

Despite significant similarities between the lifestyles, morality, and some ritual and mystical aspects of Christianity and Buddhism, there are at least two decisive differences.

For Christians:

1. The person of Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary.

Exactly the way in which Jesus is necessary, and exactly how this 'works' has various explanations among Christians; but for all Christians Jesus Christ is not merely an optional-extra (not merely a teacher or prophet or helper) - but an unique neccessity.

2. God the creator is a personage, and stands to us as a loving Father to his children.


These differences have many and various implications, which differ among Christians; but these differences - shared among Christians of many denominations - constitute a core difference and distinction between Christianity and the Eastern religions.

Subtract them from a consideration of Christianity, and one does indeed have many shared aspects - but, once one has extracted them, the residue is no longer Christianity.

Goethe's urphaenomenon - the point at which one must stop asking questions (and why)...

Goethe said that in science, and presumably elsewhere, there comes a point where one must stop asking questions, stop analysing phenomena into smaller and smaller units and causal interactions - and this point he called the urphaenomenon - which translates as 'original phenomenon'.

One must stop questioning because the phenomenon is indeed 'original' that is it is an origin, which is also to say it is one of the primary creators of reality.

Ultimately, this might be understood as one of the 'origins' of creation - one of the phenomena that existed before divine creation - from which the divinity created; or else (by a different metaphysics) as one of the primary 'units' that were created by the divinity.

So reality began with urpheanomena; and what we perceive is a consequence of interaction between, addition of, transformation of (etc) the urphaenomena. They are the deepest attainable level of reality.

If we try to (pretend to) dissect the urphaenomena, or try to explain what causes them to be as they are - then we err; we get it wrong. Precisely because the urphaenomena are what make explanation possible, they cannot themselves be explained.

Instead of being-explained, the urphaenomena need to be understood. And we potentially understand them by an act of intuition.

How? Because by real, primary, intuitive thinking we may know directly. That is we may know by thinking ourselves that which is real - the tought is identical with the reality. We can - indeed - only know the urphaenomena directly (and not other kinds of phenomena), because urphaenomena are the only real and universal phenomena; we cannot know other kinds of things in this direct way.

Goethe was mostly concerned to define urphaenomena in relation to biology, to emphasise the livingness of living things; the way in which biology was based on a process of development, metamorphosis, transformation - and could not be understood in terms of physical structures (like DNA or brains) or physical processes (like diffusion or neurotransmission). When we do (try to do) this, we simply stop doing biology by treating the living as if it was not living - destroying the very basis of biology. Goethe also asserted that colour was ultimately an aspect of biology - and thus an urphaenomenon that cannot legitimately be redescribed in terms of combinations of wavelengths.

My opinion is that Goethe made a vitally important point - but my own understanding is that all of reality is living (or a part-of some-thing living) so there is no ultimate difference between physics-chemistry and biology - except that the difference is in the opposite direction than usually asserted (ie. all physics is ultimately biology, and indeed all biology is ultimately thinking - and all thinking is ultimately not-biological!)

I would say, more simply than Goethe, that the urphaenomena are Beings.

When we get to the level of disussing Beings we are at the level where free will or agency applies - in other worlds, the level where 'selves' are uncaused causes. We cannot understand a Self by looking inside it, nor by analysing it, nor by breaking into components - because this would be to break the Self, so that it was not being regarded as a Self. The one thing that cannot be done to a Self - qua Self - is to explain its 'inner workings'. Whatever we might suppose we have found; if is really is a Self, then we cannot have found its inner workings.

What we can do, perhaps, is to understand the process by direct knowing, by identification, which means to 'participate' in the process itself - which is at the level of ultimate reality, which is (a kind of) Thinking.

This is the way we (sometimes, briefly) understand or 'know' another person. And it entails loving that person; because love is the absolute necessity for direct knowing. Only by loving the phenomenon can a scientist know a phenomenon - thus real science is not a methodology but a product of sustained and truthful mtoivation to know reality. 

In sum, we can legitimately keep asking questions as to what-causes-what, until we get back to the origins of causes; until we get back to uncaused causes; at which point we must stop, because there is in reality no observable cause of the uncaused; because we have reached the point at which this particular chain of causes originates.

Romantic Christianity and morality (especially the sexual revolution)

I should first say that Romantic Christianity is for adults, for post-adolescents. It is, in other words, a product of the modern adult consciousness.

It is for all Western adults, because all modern Western adults are Romantic; and all may (if they want it) choose to accept the gifts of Jesus.  

But I need to say this because this means that Romantic Christianity is neither intended-as nor suitable-as a Christian way of bringing-up children - raising kids is still, essentially, pretty much the same as it was in the era of traditional Christianity. In other words, for pre-adolescents guidance must necessarily be external, and therefore a Christian environment is the key (home, school, church, books, 'media' etc).

But beyond adolescence lies the destiny of a Romantic consciousness, and the new thing needed is that this be a Christian consciousness.

One major concern about Romantic Christianity relates to morality - and in these times and this place, this means primarily sexual morality. Traditional Christianity was pretty clearly defined in relation to sexual morality; and mainstream modernity has as its (perhaps) core value the Sexual Revolution in its various dominating phases.

The Sexual Revolution is, of course, ever 'advancing' its scope (despite the contradictions) via advocating positively divorce, extramarital promiscuity, abortion, feminism, homosexuality, sadomasochism, transexualism and so on 'forward' toward paedophilia and I don't know what next - the stages of dominance of which define modern culture.

Traditional Christianity is clearly against the sexual revolution - on various grounds: for example the teachings of scripture, the authority of the church, the primacy of tradition, the rigorous implications of theology. Now, all of these grounds are 'external' - so Romantic Christianity requires that they must be validated by internal and intuitive understanding and assent.

The problem has often been that the Romantic impulse has, since the time of Lord Byron and Shelley, often been used as a reason to reject traditional sexual morality - by simply claiming that one does not find intuitive confirmation of 'conventional' morality; and that - on the contrary - inner conviction validates unfettered expression of one's own current lusts and desires.

This 'morally relativistic' way of reasoning has become 'official' over the past several years; so that the sexual revolution requires no greater validation than that claim that it would make some person or group unhappy, or simply unfulfilled (here and now) if they were prevented from doing some sexual thing that they currently very much want to do. If, that is, the 'thing' is currently approved-of by the mainstream sexual revolution at that particular point - and this has changed, and reversed, through recent history. For instance, 'Weinstein-type' promiscuous behaviour was strongly supported, positively-media-depicted, and leftist-advocated in the late 1960-70s, when 'hetero'-sex was officially regarded as merely a pleasurable type of physical exercise; not to be taken seriously.

This validation of extended sexuality began by being applied only to 'consenting adults in private' and was presented as toleration; but has swiftly been extended to public situations and to children of any age and it is now necessary that extending the sexual revolution (in officially approved direction) be actively and publicly embraced - and this positive attitude is compulsory. 

It certainly seems (to traditionalist Christians) as if Romantic Christianity is either sure to be distorted to rationalise the sexual revolution (as happens all the time among the mainstream churches, and by 'liberal' Christians'). But then, the fact is that anything can-be/ has-been/ is-being perverted to rationalise the sexual revolution - whenever the motivation to do so outweighs the desire for truth.

The way I think of it is that the intuitions of Romantic Christianity do not merely 'validate' the truth of sexual morality as it is (partially, with some distortions) represented by the various traditional Christianities (which situation would suggest that the intutions are not necessary, because we could take traditional moal codes as a short-cut to where we wanted, ultimately, to go). Instead, what happens is that by Christian intuition we are able to know for our-selves that sexual morality arises-from ultimate and universal reality.

We personally tap-into the very source of morality, in the nature-of-things - that is in God's creation. 

But this direct knowledge of ultimate sexual morality is Not in the traditional form of general laws and rules about collectives of people; instead (as Rudolf Steiner makes clear in Philosophy of Freedom).

What would be (can be) discovered is that morality is on the one hand absolutely specific to each situation, and also absolutely objective - there is always just one right thing to do, and one only.

And this we can know for-ourselves, and can only know for-ourselves - although equally the judgement of what we may say or do is open to the unique and direct evaluation on others who love us*.

*But only those who love us - because only such have the ability to know directly concerning our souls - by contrast, with other strangers and secondhand observers, they will merely be applying general principles to general situations.


What difference did Jesus make to history? How did The World change in AD 1-33?

In the Fourth Gospel, much is made of the question of whether Jesus was King of the Jews; and, if so, what this meant. The conclusion seems to be that he was indeed 'king' but not in the usual sense of the word.

Jesus was king, but not of this world. So, the advent of Christ was not, apparently, intended to usher in a new kind of politics and social organisation...

The life of Jesus himself seems to have made little or no immediate and large impact on anything in this world - it was only after several generations of growth in the Christian church that the world began to change.

From the moment he became divine (at his baptism by John); what Jesus immediately did - with permanent effect - was to change what happened after death.

The situation was immediately changed for all of humanity that had lived before Jesus and died, and all who died from that moment onwards. This is indicated, and was demonstrated, by the miraculous example of Lazarus, a man that Jesus loved who died and who Jesus resurrected to eternal life.  

This is worth remembering - since it is easy to suppose that Christianity is 'about' living in a certain kind of social or political arrangement. That is how many or most religions see things, and it is how Christianity has often seen things.

But of course Christianity is not just about ourselves as individuals, because it is about love. I think that Jesus's ministry was substantially about planting a seed of love among Mankind. What was needed was that there were people who knew that: 1. That Jesus was the Son of God and 2. Loved him.

When Jesus died, he left behind a small family of Christians. It was Not an 'organisation' - it was a group of people joined by their love of Jesus And of each other.

So The Christians formed a network of love that was joined to Jesus. This is - and always has been - the true 'church'.

How this loving family of believers relates to society and to politics is extremely varied by time and place, and the extent to which it is reflected in formal organisations is likewise extremely varied. But it is the family structure of Christianity that is primary.

In sum: Jesus had an immediate effect on the afterlife, by his offer of resurrected, eternal divine life. And he had a delayed effect on society by his founding of a family of believers, who grew through history (or not) by person to person inclusion in a 'loving web' of Christ-believers.

Monday 20 May 2019

What does Christianity add to theism? What difference does Jesus make?

There are several theistic religions - which have a personal and creator God - but what difference does Jesus make? If God is The Creator - then why should we need to bother with Jesus?

Answer: Jesus is what enables us to share divinity. 

That is what Jesus adds to theism. Without Jesus, the gulf between God and Man is infinite and unbridgeable.

But Jesus is Man and God, and he joins the God-Man gap - showing it is not infinite.  

With Jesus Man can also be God.

Furthermore (and most important to each of us), Jesus bridges the gap between our-individual-selves and God; making it possible for you and me and everyone to share divinity.

Because Jesus offers us resurrection to life eternal - which just-is divinity. We shall, if we follow Jesus, become immortal, indestructible, participators in creation - while remaining our-selves!

With Jesus - you can/ I can become a god, as was Jesus. Jesus is 'about' our sharing of divinity - Jesus removes that measureless gulf betwixt God and Man which is left-open-forever by theism-without-Jesus.

So Jesus is important if 1. We personally wish to share in divinity; and 2. if we believe that this goal is indeed possible for us to attain personally, by the means Jesus taught.

If we don't want to become divine - or if we don't believe it is possible (or if we believe it is incoherent nonsense to want to become divine) - then there is indeed neither valid point nor purpose in Jesus.  

Note: Like CS Lewis - when converting to Christianity from atheism (in my case being an atheist from about age 6 to 49) I went through the phase of theism (believing in a personal God-creator, but in a non-denominational way) before I became Christian. Understanding the need of Jesus Christ was not something that came naturally or easily to me. And indeed I continue to find most of the explanations for why Jesus is necessary (and therefore why God the creator is insufficient) to be incoherent; inconsistent with the Fourth Gospel (the heart of scripture), and/or inconsistent with core Christian values - such as God being our loving Father and we his children. This is why I continue to seek ways of expressing the necessity of Jesus in ways that are both coherent and simple enough to be of practical value. 

Jesus saved us from sin - but what is 'sin'?

Jesus was fully in harmony with - aligned-with - God's creative purposes; but we mortal men are not.

We may partly - sometimes, but briefly, wholly - be aligned with God's creative purposes; but nobody (except Jesus) has always and in every respect been in harmony with creation.

Therefore all Men are sinners.  And Men can do nothing about this, because in mortal life we are all flawed and there is always change (and the possibility of change); there is disease, corruption, decay - and death is inevitable.

Sin is not being aligned with creation, not being in harmony with God's will.

By analogy sin is being turned away from God's creative purpose; turned in some other direction than where God wants to go.

Repentance can mean 'turning' - so repentance is to turn and face in the direction that God wants things to go; it means to be in harmony with divine creation.

Jesus saved us from sin because he made it possible for us to be aligned with God's will fully and forever - but on the other side of death; by any of us who so chooses to follow Jesus through death to eternal and divine life. That is to be saved from sin.

Meanwhile, this mortal life is intended as a time of experiencing and learning - which is why it is subject to disease, corruption and decay; and why it is not possible to be always and wholly aligned with God's creative purposes. 

Note: What people usually call The Sins are, properly, actions (including thoughts) that are observable consequences of the real sin, which is inner and motivational - which is the state of being not-aligned with (including opposed-to) divine will.  

Twentieth-century Buddhists according to Owen Barfield, discussing CS Lewis, in relation to Alan Watts

From Owen Barfield on CS Lewis (1989) ed. GB Tennyson, page 13:

Lewis had spent his early manhood striving in all sincerity to experience living what Alan Watts has called 'The Supreme Identity'. 

Lewis's very success in that endeavour - compared with the average run of idealists, who do not even make the attempt - proved to him that insofar as the experience is genuine and not merely a complacently fancied experience, it reveals itself as a theoretical truth but a pragmatical error. 

It is and can be an intellectual experience only. 

When it comes to the will, there is no identity, and the prayer must always be 'They will be done', just because my own will, if I look it squarely in the face, is a rag-bag of lusts and feeblenesses and terrors.  

Not for Lewis, therefore, are the lofty strivings of the twentieth-century Buddhist and his condescending smile as he contemplates Christianity and all other formulated religions.

This is also my conclusion. That 'twentieth-century Buddhists' - i.e. more generally Western advocates of Eastern deistic religions - are (to use another and blunter terminology) complacent hypocrites (i.e. do not rigorously practice what they preach) and self-aggrandising advocate of the dark side (because they refuse to acknowledge and repent their lusts, feeblenesses and terrors).

Harsh, I know; but that is my evaluation - on similar grounds as Barfield describes for Lewis. Here and now and for us; Buddhism and the like are not just an ineffectual spiritual dead-end; but an inducement to self-justified embrace of the dark powers - and thus associated with joining and fighting-with the wrong side in the unavoidable spiritual war. (As did Alan Watts.) 

For us; God must be personal, and our religion must be Christian. No alternative. Doing this - each of us, for his own life - is not straightforward; but the conclusion to be drawn from such difficulties to get to work on making it possible

Sunday 19 May 2019

Video Interview with Bruce Charlton on Romantic Christianity in relation to JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Owen Barfield

Keri Ford has interviewed me (it lasts about 30 minutes) on the subject of cultural and spiritual importance of the Inklings; focusing on my Notion Club Papers blog and Owen Barfield blog.

Among other things; I explain the origins, meaning and significance of Romantic Christianity - and why it is the single most important matter for our time and place.

Saturday 18 May 2019

How can we be free agents if we can't control our own thinking?

(Following a comment from 'David' yesterday...) 

There seems to be a contradiction between the idea that we are all agents - with free will, able to make up our own minds etc; with the observation that we cannot control our own thoughts. in other words, we observe that thoughts come to us unwanted, intrusive thoughts - and that we cannot hold our attention onto things for very long, but our thoughts drift away onto other subjects.

The apparent contradiction is that agency seems to require control of thinking, yet we are not able to control our thinking.

My understanding is that this apparent contradiction arises from a false and incoherent model of thinking. 'Control isn't the right word' (because if thinking is controlled, then it is not free) but in this contradiction, we are assuming that freedom of thinking requires that consciousness always has full control of what we think (else it would not be free, but just controlled).

We are falling into a false dichotomy: either thinking is controlled, in which case it is not free; or esle thinking is not controlled, in which case it is random, purposeless. Or perhaps we are saying - either thinking is controlled and unfree; or else it is just epiphenomenal mental activity that just follows chains of inner association - in which case it is hardly 'thinking' at all. 

Modern thinking allows only two options - caused/ controlled or uncaused/ random - neither of which is free.  

Can I do better? Well, first - we are not always free agents; but we may sometimes be free agents. It is pssible for the human organism to be unfree in its behaviour (and thinking); or to be free.

But what is free, agent thinking?
That which does the free thinking is the Self. That which is conscious of the content of thinking is Consciousness, and Consciousness is different from the Self. Consciousness 'observes' thinking that is 'coming-out-of' the Self.

The Self is a divine entity, a Being - in physics terms the Self it is a self-generating process. (A process that generates itself.) That process is real thinking, free thinking.

Because the Self is self-generating, thinking is Not merely a product of external influences.   

We cannot know what is going-on 'inside' the Self. If we could understand its 'inner workings', it would not be the Self, and it would not be free. Analysis must stop at the Self.

In other words, Beings are primary units of reality, ultimate units that cannot be further analysed. Reality is made-of Beings (among other things). Beings think (among other things).

Therefore the 'control' of thinking contradiction, arises from a distorted expression of our knowledge that the thinking of Beings is a primary reality, and that thinking is the primary manifestation of Beings.

Friday 17 May 2019

High elves in Woody End - enchantment in the Shire

At the Notion Club Papers blog, I discuss one of my favourite scenes in Lord of the Rings - the point at which our heroes first encounter magic for real.

The individuality of angels and their fall

I used to find it difficult to understand the fall of angels. Living in Heaven in the presence of God, why would they rebel and become demons?

I now find it easier to comprehend, since I regard each angel as an individual, and some are evil by nature.

More exactly, I don't regard angels as a separate creation from Men - but as pre-mortal Men, as pre-mortal spirits. And all Men are agents - have free will - since each has existed from eternity, and has a part of him that is uncreated, divine, co-eternal with God.

In other words, before we became part of divine creation as children of God, we were already beings; and like all beings were alive and had consciousness and individuality.

I regard the goodness of God as a project, into which God hopes to bring as many as will willingly join. But as some men were made children of God it will sooner or later have become apparent they wanted no part of God's plan of loving creation; and of these some were actively hostile. It was these actively hostile spirits who became the demons; and whose motivation is the destruction of creation.

(I suppose that there are also pre-mortal spirits who simply opted-out of the scheme of creation - and dwell eternally alone and inactive.)

God loves all the children, including the demons; and administers creation thus. It is not possible, in principle, to summarise how this works - because every single one of God's children is an unique individual, with an unique disposition and motivations; and all are agents, able to choose.

But some choices are irrevocable (because true agency entails that we can make permanent choices). So God's creation takes all of this into account.

It is well to think of this symphony of unique and free voices - good, evil and indifferent - that constitutes creation, when we suppose that we have detected some contradiction - or unlovingness - in the world as we perceive it.

"It's not on the agenda!" (It's never on the agenda.) - How modernity becomes all-about 'implementation' and excludes assumptions

One of the tools of totalitarian bureaucracy is that fundamental decisions of principle (mission statements, aims and objective etc) arise from the Black Box that is committees voting; and after that is simply implemented through the levels of hierarchy down to the individual.

The assumptions are taken as 'given'. It is never the 'right time and place' to raise objections...

Where, for example, do the current missions, our social principles come from? I mean such principles as diversity/ inclusion, the feminist and antiracist agenda, the 'anti-carbon' agenda, the pro-sexual revolution agenda?

Just exactly by whom, where and when was it decided that these are to be primary organisational principles of our entire society? By what right were these things made social priorities?

And then, just exactly where, when and by whom is it regarded as an appropriate venue to challenge these and their like?

It is a great advantage of Globalism that such decisions are ultimately located at such remote levels as the United Nations and the European Union; so that by the time they reach you and me, they are untouchable - our job is always merely to implement them and never, ever, under any circumstances is it legitimate for us to challenge them.

We are simply required to 'trust' that - somewhere and somehow, wise and impartial and well-motivated people have established that these are morally correct and coherent ideals.

Thus the real locus of conflict in this modern world is precisely the time and place in which the vast and unitary edifice that is the Global bureaucracy meets with the individual person: where we are each told what is our role in implementing these organising principles.

Wemust obey. But our personal job is not merely to obey, but to embrace these organising-principles. We must not merely Do them but we must Love them. Our personal moral system must become these principles; if if they do not then we are some species of 'denialist'.

(Denialist is the new term for what used to be called dissident in the days of the Eastern Bloc; but while, in The West in the 1980s, it was regarded as cool and courageous to be a dissident; nowadays it is regarded as dumb and evil to be a denialist of any agenda principle of the Global bureaucracy.)

So, it is not an accident that - somehow - there never is an 'appropriate' time or place for you personally to discuss the rights and wrongs, the desirability, of the strategically-evil organising principles that dominate the world.

So there is no choice for us but to resist at that time and place where the totalitarian bureaucracy impacts upon each of us personally. We are each on our own.

We are each confronted with By-Far the largest and most powerful apparatus of evil that has ever existed.

We either resist at that point, or we capitulate. 

It is quite simple, the choices are crystal clear; although extremely difficult.

Note: Resistance is primarily, and most importantly, in thinking, not in doing. Because thinking is not isolated, but connected; and it is thinking that totalitarianism aims to control - in order that we personally actively-choose damnation. The evil of our modern world is an evil of thinking, evident as an evil of motivation - of understanding and intent. This is not reducible to action, because action is intrinsically constrained and may be compelled. Thought, however, is free; and that freedom guaranteed by the creator. That is our personal responsibility, and if we elude that responsibility - we personally will take the consequences. 

Thursday 16 May 2019

Some understanding that the individual is ultimate, is perhaps the major spiritual superiority of Modern Man

Modern man is inferior to past Men in many, probably most, respects - and it seems likely to me that there are more evil people alive now in The West, in total and as a proportion, than in the past and elsewhere. However the news is not all bad! - and Modern Man has one important superiority that may, in the end, prove crucial to his salvation and spiritual progression towards divinity.

That superiority is his sense of being an unique individual, who bears an ultimate responsibility for himself - as contrasted with being a person defined by a social role or social group (caste, class, profession etc). .

Of course, this understanding is partial and distorted, and has been largely inverted in its significance (for example being diverted into the pseudo-identities of the hedonic sexual revolution; or diverted into the materialist and resentment politics of socialism, feminism, antiracism etc).

But (I believe) underlying such materialist distortions and inversions there is a solid but unconscious spiritual knowledge that we should only be satisfied when we are fulfilling our own and unique destiny. 

Modern Man is unaware of this underlying knowledge, because he denies the reality of the spiritual; but it is there - and indeed it can be seen in his dreams and fantasies, as well as in the perversions of Leftist socio-politcs. The result is an intractable self-contradiction: Modern man hates to be defined, even as he embraces victim definitions; wants to be free even while insisting on totalitarianism; craves depth and connection and love - even while agitating for ever more and intrusive and mechanistic bureaucracy...

What is necessary is easy to state, difficult to achieve: awareness of what is unconscious, understanding that this is spiritual (not material) in nature; and living by this in one's thinking: a transformation of our thinking to embrace intuition as primary.

But this would not have been possible for many or most people in the past - even in theory; because apparently this aspect of human consciousness - this individuality - has developed, unfolded and spread-out, throughout the history of Man.

Now - we are (in the West) in a situation where it has happened; Modern Man, Now, just is an individualist, just is intrinsically and immovably dissatisfied by anything less than an unique destiny tailored to his distinctive nature.

There are innumerable ways this can be, is being, distorted (such as the offer of fake individualism in virtual reality, or fashion, or pick and mixed from a narrow spectrum of mandatory choices...).

But this is the destiny of men, as divinely ordained, and I think Christians therefore need to accept individuality as given, and work with it, in the direction God hopes for us. 

The "evidence" trap: Why so many modern people are 'stuck' in materialism

To move beyond materialism is not easy - it is a well-constructed trap. For many (or most) people in the West; it isn't just a matter of 'opening your mind' to other realities; because what we think we want is self-contradictory...

Most people - when pressed - will say (along the lines of ) "I can't believe in the spiritual world without evidence".

By evidence they mean either a vivid personal miracle ('inexplicable' by materialism) - like hearing a voice that they believe to be God telling them something, especially when backed-up by a vision of a being that they are 100% convinced (with zero possibility of error) is an angel, or Jesus or a similar authority; accompanied by an overpowered conviction of the validity of this experience; and that one's memory and verbal expression of the experience is perfectly accurate and complete...

(Hmm, we can already see problems about asking for a miracle, can't we?)

Or else they mean something that official (government-certified, mass media disseminated) 'science' has told them, and that 'everybody' whom they respect (like primary school teachers, or wise people David Attenborough) assures them really is real and objectively true (like CO2-driven Anthropogenic Global Warming, or that one's sex is a choice...).

Yet the fact is that - unless they already have a change-of-consciousness, unless they develop a new way of thinking - these people would not be convinced of the spiritual realm either by a miracle or by science.

Because they would explain-away any miracle in materialist terms (error, coincidence, hallucination, delusion, dishonesty, manipulation etc.); and because science foundationally and by-assumption excludes the spiritual, so must inevitably fail to produce evidence for the spiritual.

Indeed if science did produce evidence for something spiritual - such as telepathy, or near death experiences - it would, by becoming science, cease to be spiritual; and would instead be explained materialistically.

What this 'circularity' of the argument tells us is that materialism is a metaphysical assumption, not the result of evidence.

In modern public (and private) discourse; we have already assumed that reality is material; and we will interpret all possible evidence in that light.

(i.e. Materialism is Not based-on-evidence; instead, materialism determines what counts as evidence.)

Therefore to demand 'evidence' before we will be convinced of the spiritual just makes no sense! It is just a mental trap. It simply ensures that you (and everyone) will remain trapped in materialism - whether it is true or not.

This means the modern person has, in reality, a choice: to remain inside the metaphysical assumption of materialism or not. And if not, he will need to assume a broader reality that includes a spiritual reality.

The one impossible thing is to be 'agnostic' - because there is no ground from-which to be agnostic about this question.

(One could of course change one's mind, back and forth, between materialism and acknowledging the spiritual realm. Indeed this is likely, across a lifespan. Such psychological fluctuations are part of the human mortal condition. But at any moment one is either a materialist or not - and to assert agnosticism as a current situation is an error or dishonest.)

How to choose, and on what grounds? There are just two main ways in which people choose their metaphysics:

1. Unconsciously and passively to absorb one's assumptions from the social environment (from 'other people'), and - because the process is passive and unconscious - to assert the objective factuality of assumptions by denying that they are assumptions, and denying that there exists any choice...

2. To become consciously aware of one's assumptions and to choose them.

One what grounds? This can only be on the basis of expilicit intuitive reflection - choosing what one intuitively knows (from the heart, at the deepest level one is capable of reaching, where knowledge is most solid) to be the truth about the reality of things.

This is another instance that modern life is becoming very simple and dichotomous, and evil is operating by trying to convince us that life is Not simple!

To win, evil simply needs to keep us confused. So far, evil is winning...

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Why do modern totalitarian dystopias induce existential despair? (Rather than courageous resistance)

The answer is simply that both the totalitarian societies and the 'rebellious' heroes are both Godless.  Genuine, rooted and cultural Godlessness is demotivating, induces despair - and cannot support courage. 

The two great dystopias are Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell - both induce in the reader a feeling of helpless despair. The reason is quite simple - that AH and GO were both products of the twentieth century during which Christianity was abandoned - and first of all by the upper classes.

The characteristic despair of 20th century art is not really to do with the world wars; but with the replacement of Christianity by a this-worldly, leftist ideology. It was not about the horror and pain of massive conflict, it was about the newly-narrow perspective from which any war (or poverty, disease, or any kind of suffering) was understood and evaluated.

From that perspective, when the solitary individual (or tiny group) confronts a massive, oppressive society; society can be the only winner.

Because this is a 'war' in which there is only one 'side': and that side is society. There may be various dissident individuals; but each is up-against the interlocking power and propaganda of The System, with a relatively-immense capacity to propagandise and censor, bribe and seduce, or torment and punish.

And since the assumption is that human life begins at birth (or conception) and is terminated by death - whichever side wins in this-life, wins forever. Any society that controls (nearly) all of human life therefore is capable of infliction (what is assumed to be) total suffering.

When Orwell wrote his book, he hoped that it would provide an effective warning and preventive against totalitarianism; but because his dystopia is Godless it has had the opposite effect. What we see all around us in the West is a mass population embracing totalitarianism; in the hope that it will be 'benign' and lead to a totally-happy life. This is popular transhumanism - focused around the provision of virtual realities via electronic media.

Totalitarian transhumanism is rational - within its narrow and rigid frame of understanding. If biological life is the entirety of human experience, and political 'solutions' have comprehensively failed; then our only hope is that it will be happy (or, at least, free of suffering) - and most people have reasoned that the only hope of happiness is technological and therapeutic.

People believe in a benign Global Establishment - headed by multi-billionaires and the large media and technological corporations - because they have nothing else to believe-in. If only they can believe that the globalist Elites are benign in nature and intent; then they can hope for a virtual, drugged and technologically enhanced life of pleasant feelings (with perhaps a bit of actual sex, interspersed) - which is the highest life that modern Godless Man can conceive-of.

So a 'good' totalitarianism is the highest aspiration - by contrast, an evil totalitarianism, one that exploits and torments its people, is the worst horror.

But the typical modern Man; totalitarianism is a given, indeed it is necessary - because only if a society can be totally monitored and totally controlled, would it be possible to eliminate suffering and to provide pleasurable stimulus to all. So, any extension of centralised surveillance and bureaucratic control is welcomed - so long it can semi-plausibly be presented as a step towards universal pleasure, comfort, and convenience.

This is important to (real) Christians; firstly because it explains why it is likely that (assuming we live long enough, and Western societies do not collapse) we will all be living under a hostile totalitarianism, in which most citizens will be keen to destroy Christian institutions on the basis that they interfere with transhumanist totalitarian plans.

All Christian institutions that can be detected will be destroyed; or subverted and inverted. 

And secondly because this will be a test of our faith. especially our belief in Heaven, and in Jesus's promise that any can attain to Heaven who will follow him.

Because we will very probably each be compelled to live in a vast, overwhelming, globally-interlinked Totalitarian System; without institutional support; and without realistic hope of escape or victory... in this mortal life

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Classic musical cliches

For a sob story:

For snake charmers, belly dancers or generic North African street scenes:

And (saving best for last) For any romantic situation (especially with an exotic setting):

(Mantovani, natch; stunningly arranged by the marvellous Ronald Binge.)

Monday 13 May 2019

Charles Williams and necessary encouragement - John Fitzgerald writes

I feel we need a sense of the vast array of spiritual forces lined up on our side - the serried ranks of angels and archangels and the Communion of Saints, who watch over us and encourage us at all times.

There have been novels and films aplenty, over the years, about the demonic influences pressing against us, but little concerning the powers for good who work invisibly for the salvation and transfiguration of individuals and nations. This is precisely the kind of awareness we need at this time - a breaking open of the small, empirical self and a growing consciousness of the all-embracing pattern that holds us, nurtures us and makes us active participants in a meaningful universe.

A happy, fulfilled society should be a partnership between those here now, those gone before us, and those yet to come. But such wide-ranging vision will always feel beyond us if we cannot perceive the spiritual reality that surrounds and enfolds us. 'In my father's house are many mansions,' says Christ in St. John's Gospel. There is no-one better, for where we are now in history, at pointing the way to these mansions than Charles Williams...

By John Fitzgerald. Read the whole thing at The Notion Club Papers blog.

Andrew Baker interviewed by Keri Ford

Keri Ford has posted a delightful illustrated interview with the English composer, brooder on landscape and place, and mystical Platonist Andrew Baker.

Andrew describes the history of his creative obsessions, and the nature of his inspiring philosophy; with references to CS Lewis and Owen Barfield - among many others...

'Constraints' on intuitive knowing (or Primary Thinking)

(Note: These are not really 'constraints', because they are not externally imposed. Nor is 'limitations' the right word. I am simply talking of the nature of intuitive knowing)

I am trying to think with the heart; that is, trying to think primarily - such that my thoughts will be realities (not merely 'about' realities...). I am trying to know intuitively, by an act of direct apprehension (and not indirectly, by making and testing hypothetical models).

And I find that this is not possible for much of the stuff in my thinking. As expected; because primary thinking is self-validating, and much of what I think is not valid.

Even more: much of what I think cannot be validated because it is Abstract - hence systematically-distorted in un-knowable ways.

Much/ Most (perhaps all) of what I am fed (to 'think about') by the mass media, government officialdom, propaganda at educational institutions and workplaces... the general world of public discourse... is Abstract. It is disconnected from the reality I experience and know. It is made up of definitions, models, hypotheses, 'concepts', 'ideals' (aims and objectives, mission statements, slogans) and the like - many of these are incoherent or nonsensical.

There is no connection between my living and this content from the very beginning.

So much modern 'thinking' takes place in this realm of Abstraction! Discussions of economics, ethics, fashion... everything, pretty much. The assumption behind it all is that My Life is a subset of these Abstractions - and the Abstractions are real, and if I cannot related my life to the Abstractions, then it is my fault.

The Abstractions (Democracy, Social Justice, The Environment, The Economy, Peace, Climate...) are the real reality - it's my job to conform to this reality...

The Abstractions are real because that is what Everybody is talking about, all the time - especially powerful people. They are real because they are on the agenda, they are voted-about, they lead-to public policy, to law - to all manner of decisions...

It is the Abstractions that tell us about the future, what to love and what to fear; tell us what to think and believe and approve about the future; and then we organise our entire world because of these Abstractions.

The world is organised to encourage or discourage 'trade', nations aim at 'growth'... then Trade and Growth are destroyed to control the Climate... The the destruction of Trade and Growth are inverted by reference to Sustainability. There are phenomena like Immigration, Diversity, Human Rights... and we are told why-they-are-Good; or we try (by thinking-about 'evidence', and by reasoning) to understand whether they really are good...

But these are Abstractions. Such knowledge is based upon simplified models, and 'tested' using perceptions which we know are not true (seeing is not believing, neither is hearing - especially not when it comes to generalities) - so we can never know about such things. The questions are ill-formed, the evaluations are of unknown meaning...

In sum, intuition does not work on Abstractions - how could it? We can know intuitively (only) about that which can be grasped intuitively.

We might know the validity of some Abstraction like an aspect of mathematics, or about the coherence of a theory - but that tells us nothing about actual, real world 'applications' of such generalities...

Thus, we can intuit about Abstractions, but we cannot intuit the extent to which Abstractions apply to specifics - which is what we are very often trying to do.

In fact, I think that the low reputation of intuition partly derives from the fact that it can-not (therefore should-not) be used to evaluate the kinds of things that feature as Most Important in modern public discourse.

We cannot intuitively answer such questions as whether women are equal with men in modern society - or whether they should be - or what it would mean if they were. We cannot intuitively know what people mean by racial prejudice, what race 'is' (or is not), whether racial prejudice is responsible for racial differences - and what any such differences mean.

Almost the entirety of the content and theme of major discourse is beyond intuition, because unreal. And this has a profound effect on us. We live inside a System that is not just evil or trivial, but which is untrue, hence incoherent, hence permanently and incurably disorientating

We can (and should) be 'using' intuitive knowing to understand well-formed questions about 'concrete' (especially personal) realities such as the goodness or evil of individuals in public life, or the effect of new changes, the quality of actual buildings or landscapes, the beauty of some piece of music - and of course in dealing with the human beings (and animals, and plants) of our lives; the Creator, Jesus, spiritual beings etc...

Such questions cannot be answered by hypothesis and evidence; can only be known by direct intuition - and we need to learn to rely upon that which (potentially) works, not that which which we know for sure cannot work.

The ability to use intuition forms a kind of litmus test of reality. The great mass of modern phenomena are beyond the scope of intuition because they are not really-real - and this is why there is unbounded and intractable capacity for error in modern life.  

The conclusion is that our public world is based upon unwarranted - indeed unwarran-table - assumptions; and is unverifiable by direct intuition. We are prevented from primary thinking so long as we are engaged in this bureaucratic-media system...

But then, we knew that in our hearts already, surely?