Wednesday 22 July 2020

Pointing-out the obvious; trying to save those who don't want to be saved

Much of my kind of blogging is a matter of pointing-out the obvious; the idea being that (at least for Modern Man) we need to be explicitly aware of that which is important - that it is not sufficient to operate on the basic of unconscious, unarticulated and implicit knowledge.

However, it seems pretty obvious that if this is indeed a creat-ed world; then it is one where God wants us to do most things for ourselves, and from ourselves. (That is how this world is set-up.) Learning which is merely passively-absorbed from other people, other sources, is not really the point.

So, unless (as RW Emerson correctly saw) we are stimulated to think for our-selves by it; reading generally does harm rather than good, even when what is said is true and well-motivated.

Such are these times. What good is done by pointing-out to people during many weeks of lockdown that they are now living under a totalitarian system of government?

If people confined to their houses for 23/24 hours for weeks on end, and who must daily engage with the mass media to be told of the latest (oscillating) change to the laws - if such people are not able to notice the fact from their own resources; then why try to impose this knowledge upon them by argument?

The same question on a civilizational scale arises when we try laboriously to demonstrate (perhaps with statistics!) that policy X (and Y and Z, simultaneously) will destroy our village, town, nation, civilization...

This stuff is typically blazingly obvious to the meanest intellect - and those who cannot see obvious harm, who indeed actively-deny and argue-against the obvious, do so because they desire that harm.

And that is the situation.

Nobody needs to be told that the changes of 2020 constitute totalitarian tyranny, which will lead to more bad things, because it is obvious; and when a person/ an institution/ a nation does not perceive the obvious, this situation is not helped by making it Even-More Obvious.

What must be addressed is that covert, implicit desire which underlies the denial and block.

I mean such desires as the widespread conviction of the futility of our actual, experienced life; and a hatred of that nation and civilization which imposes such a life upon us; and the inner blankness, fear and despair resulting from such convictions.

We would understand this if we observed it in animals kept in factory farm, zoo or laboratory conditions on an artificial and unnatural (increasingly artificial and unnatural) regime. When (despite plenty of food and comfortable shelter) such alienated and captive animals cease to reproduce and essentially Give-Up on living, we may be saddened but we are not surprised.

The fact that Modern Man has similarly Given-Up under conditions of ever-increasing phsyical, psychological and spiritual alienation, should likewise be easy to understand.

Modern Men are creatures that have Given-Up due to their alien environment; even worse, most of them have chosen to remain in this environment, to defend their environment against all substantive criticism, and to refuse to leave. To reason-with such confined and tamed creatures is futile; to inform them of the specifics of their dire situation is somewhat cruel.

What such creatures most need is to be shown someplace better to live and how to get there. As Christians we can try to do that - but that is all we can do.

We cannot make people want the better world, we cannot even make them pay attention for long enough to understand what is on offer...

In fact there is not much we can do!

But what little we can do - we should do. DO it, and then pass-on to continuing our primary work in this mortal life, which is ourselves to do exactly what we recommend to the lost souls.

Because the fact is that we ourselves are in a situation almost exactly as bad as the deluded Masses...

Just that We know why this is bad, that there really is somewhere Good where we aim to be; and that we know how to get there.

For us; knowing is Not the problem, but Doing.

In sum - our modern Western situation is indeed analogous to a wild animal in a factory farm, zoo or laboratory; but where the door to escape is open, and the animals could - if they turned and looked - see the world outside their captivity...

But some fear to leave their comfortable captivity, others find reality boring. Yet others among the confined creatures are so deep in despair that they prefer not even to look at the free and wild world outside, and assert it is just an hallucination, or a tormenting trick of their captors.

Ultimately, the captivity of Modern Man is self-chosen, self-imposed; which is why they cannot see the obvious.   

Thus they despair, and pine, and soon become extinct amidst material abundance; thus they insist upon doing-so; thus they hate those who clarify that all this is their own doing.

The situation is what Christians often call 'Sin'.


tim s said...

Too true. The pain of knowing coupled with the weakness to make a decision and go with it is sharp & well deserved. Trying to move a whole family unit even further down the right road is all the more difficult without solid roots of culture and spirituality.

I had a vision last night of myself or standing against the horizon with my back turned and my face toward the setting sun with a coil of roots coming from myself, looping up behind my back and laying across my open hand, with the severed ends of the roots dangling above the ground. The vine withers. Pleas to go God for strength and good soil. May he help all who earnestly plea, even in their withered state.

Sean G. said...

"if such people are not able to notice the fact from their own resources; then why try to impose this knowledge upon them by argument?"

Argument is indeed useless but introducing an idea CAN be useful for SOME. I've read some notions on your blog that I was very critical of at first but then my own observations confirmed it. I wasn't convinced by argument (which is not something you generally do) but I wouldn't have seen it on my own.

Particularly with those we love I believe it can be fruitful to share without argument. What they do with that is of course entirely up to them.

Zach said...

Modernity is full of Dwarfs from Narnia's 'The Last Battle':

"They will not let us help them," Aslan explained. "They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own mind, yet they are in that prison, and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out."

Bruce Charlton said...

@Z - Exactly. Reading that passage was crucial in my conversion to Christianity, because I realised that I needed to meet God halfway.

Human free will (agency) is a reality, and so powerful that it can hold God the creator of the universe at bay. This is the intoxication of pride. We can deny God - we really can! But at the cost of rejecting love, rejection of God's creation, ultimate isolation.

It seems ridiculous to choose such ultimate negation for ourselves, forever; yet it happens; we see it happening all around us.

Ingemar said...

It's almost as futile as convincing people that mandatory universal masks are a totalitarian ploy.

Chent said...

"It seems ridiculous to choose such ultimate negation for ourselves, forever; yet it happens; we see it happening all around us."

I don't think it's an intellectual thing for most people. It is for me, for you and some other brainy guys.

For most people, it is not "I don't believe in God because I have a nihilistic worldview so any argument seems lacking in evidence and, hence, it cannot convince me". It is not about epistemology, as it has been for me and for you (as you have stated in this blog multiple times).

Most people are incapable of such a philosophical reasoning or are utterly uninterested in it. For most people, it is "I don't believe because I want to do what I want and God is an obstacle to do my will: it's easier and more fun not to believe". For most people, it's simply "non serviam". They thought "No God, no masters". They rejected God and now they have totalitarian masters.

At the end, they were given the choice between despair and limited pleasure. They chose despair and they will have less and less pleasure.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Chent - "It is not about epistemology, as it has been for me and for you (as you have stated in this blog multiple times)."

I would say it is not about epistemology, even for me; but about metaphysics! And I think this is very general; because people are brought up to regard reality as exclusively material, non-spiritual - and this is reinforced everywhere in the realm of public discourse.

Of course, this is unconscious and absolutely taken for granted - most people regard it as being a 'discovery' of science (rather than an assumption of science).

I was this way myself. For example, I could not see any place for an objective morality to exist in the world ultimately explained by astronomy and particle physics - there just isn't any place where 'morality' could exist. God seemed simply a superfluous hypothesis, not necessary.

This hits everyday life when ordinary people believe and assert that, for example, sexual morality is 'just a matter of opinion'; relative and open-endedly variable over time and between societies. There is no metaphysical basis to support any objective truth about morality.

In my experience, the idea that some course of action might be right and true despite everybody else in the world disagreeing with it is simply incomprehensible to modern man. The idea that God is a cause active in the world, likewise.

The idea that politics should ideally derive from religion, be controlled by religion - not the reverse, is seen as insane or dangerous fanaticism - despite that every historical society and much of the modern world believe it.

What all this means is that anyone who questions current arrangements or new policies, has no ground to stand upon other than expediency - yet genuine expediency is never clear, always perspectival, and in the end power defines what is expedient.

A major factor in my becoming a Christian was that as an honest scientist I could find no grounds in secular belief systems for being honest, except insofar as honesty was expedient. But by the 1990s honesty had become inexpedient in science - so why should any scientist remain honest? I 'knew' intuitively that all scientists must be honest, but there was no solid reason I could give for why; and I found myself in a tiny and dwindling minority among those who were driven by career, status, income etc - all of which were harmed by strict honesty.

In my opinion, nobody escapes metaphysics - least of all those who think it irrelevant.

Gary said...

God is honest (He has no deception) and our True Self is likewise honest, being made in His likeness and image.
Seeing honesty in others, resonated with you in a way you knew wasn't coincidence, or just randomly/deterministically derived preference (in other words, purposeless and baseless). And likewise, the growing dishonesty prevalent in what should've been an area where honesty was a non-negotiable and cardinal value , led you to posit that there is such a thing as "objective truth" if you were not to deny the Spirit.
Reality exists independently of man's likes and whims, AND is ordered by values.
This in and of itself is not enough to become Christian but it is a necessary first step. And as clearly portray in this post, even this fairly humble recognition is already very foreign to most modern men in the West.
Those who deny the value of metaphysics either don't WANT to think about it or are AFRAID to think about it, because the only coherent path conducive to human flourishing and the embrace of life and concsiousness is that reality is objective and value laden.
And because so many of us have gone far down the path of destruction and evil, recognizing this requires a baseline love of Goodness which seems to be too much.