Friday 8 October 2021

"The hill to die on?" Ask the question, and you have already joined The Enemy

A false metaphor is a gift to the devil; and the metaphor of choosing the right hill to die on is an example. 

Behind the phrase is the idea that we are engaged in the kind of war where generals strive to locate their troops on the most advantageous ground for a decisive - win or lose - battle. 

This analogy is then misapplied to the spiritual war of Good and evil by those who imagine that they are on the side of Good, to create the fake problem of choosing which 'issue' it will be most advantageous to 'make a stand' upon. Until that point, the assertion will repeatedly be made (whether explicitly or not) that this is not the hill I choose to die upon. Because?... the issue is too trivial, it is not decisive, my position is too weak, there is insufficient support etc.  

So the person voluntarily retreats, quietly yields - or maybe complies with public wailing and hand-wringing - but complies; he will 'keep his powder dry' for the great and decisive conflict to come; when eventually he will reach that much-anticipated hill on which he will fight to the death...

Yeah, sure...

But The Enemy is not seeking a final decisive conflict - but doing every-thing possible to avoid it; instead the enemy strategy is to encourage endless incremental yieldings of ground - until there are no more hills. Until victory has already been achieved. Every single decision not to fight on this hill materially aids the enemy strategy. 

The metaphor is false, misleading, and plays directly into The Enemy's hands.

Adherence to Good is primary, therefore real resistance to evil is not like that

How it really works is this: Each time ground is voluntarily yielded to evil, the position of Good is weakened, and The Enemy is strengthened.  

The correct analogy is repentance (which means acknowledgment that sin is indeed sin, and rejection of it as an ideal). 

The only repentance is repentance Now. 

To say to oneself - I will repent later; to plan repentance - is Not to repent at all. It is, indeed, to render later (planned) repentance false, therefore impossible. 

Either we repent now, or we have (as a matter of fact) rejected repentance. Either we resist now, and every-thing that is evil, or we have chosen to comply and joined-with Satan. 

Every such failure, every chosen compliance, strengthens the enemy, and brings Them closer to Their goals. 

Every yielding increases Their harvest of damned souls, because by it we are adding our-selves to the forces of evil. 

Every untruth harms the cause of Good by joining our efforts with the Prince of Lies.

And vice versa... (so be hope-full)

Things really are That Simple. 

Thank Heaven!


Nym Coy said...

Owen Benjamin speaks of "A hill to grow on"

Jacob Gittes said...

@Nym: I like Owen. I've met Owen. Owen makes a living from his fans sending him money, and thus has a farm and hill to grow on (literally) that would be hard for many now to create. He does, however, encourage his fans to stand up to the evil of the birdemic, and to take the consequences of standing up, with the idea that God will provide something better if you say, lose your job due to saying no to the birdemic regime.
The implication is that you will find something better in this world when you make these stands. That the growing non-compliant community with thrive and network or grow in this world, in this life. It's a hopeful idea, and I hope that these hopes are founded in reality.
I can't help but think, however, that the Beast System we are living in has a plan to neutralize attempts to win in this world. We shall see.
There is a legalistic belief among many in certain dissident right communities that if you deal in "good faith" with the Beast System using their supposedly existing laws of commerce, and phrase things the right way, that you can defeat the mask and vaccine mandates, etc. For example, 'I, a living man, claim ownership of my body and genetic code..."

I'm very skeptical that the System deals in good faith, and that it is compelled by some spiritual law to abide by its own rules. It's an interesting idea, but seems to have no backing in traditional Christian ideas.

Lucinda said...

"when eventually he will reach that much-anticipated hill on which he will fight to the death...

Yeah, sure..."

So good. I love this.

A said...

Speaking of Owen - he has talked about this back and forth (positive and negative) game as something the enemy seeks. I have noticed it's very unhealthy and it feels spiritually like a trap, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I feel spiritually unwell when engaging in the constant reaction to the latest evil. That there is something wrong about pointing fingers and saying "oh no, look at this new evil!"

It does seem to create fear. It brings attention to the enemy (validation?). It seems a great distraction from our actual spiritual mission from God - from growing, loving, and creating.

Certainly it is difficult to grow, love, and create when someone is constantly sabotaging it, beyond normal entropy, but it appears we have a False Opposition who does absolutely nothing - never points anyone to the good - but just stands mouth agape pointing at some new way evil practices evil.

Most people *want that* though - myself not exempt. Most people don't tend to find it as interesting or attention grabbing to discuss growing and creating. For example, your posts on Romantic Christianity and Heart Thinking tend to have less comments. We are drawn in, distracted, and disrupted by being constantly on the defensive (protect my kids, protect my body, protect my job, etc.).

I clued in on microcosm on my own life as a tactic of the enemy: it seems whenever spiritual progress starts to get made there is a material problem that suddenly appears and interferes or tries to distract. We have it on a "virtually" overwhelming societal basis with the all pervasive media (as you pointed out). As Christians though we should be somewhat above that. Whether in the catacombs, a communist gulag, facing wartime food shortages, disease, or even everything perfectly well - we should primarily be striving in the same direction spiritually and not put that off until the latest stroke by the enemy passes (or doesn't).

Jacob Gittes said...

"it seems whenever spiritual progress starts to get made there is a material problem that suddenly appears and interferes or tries to distract."

So true.
Thank you for the post Bruce, and Nym and Mr. Andrew.
I need to personally refocus on pursuing the good and rejecting the bad, and focusing less on the possible repurcussions for myself, my insignificant career, and worries of "what might" happen. Bruce has mentioned numerous times on how that "what if" thinking can be such an energy drain and distraction.
Onward to the good! Away from the bad!
Bless everyone today.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MA - "it seems whenever spiritual progress starts to get made there is a material problem that suddenly appears and interferes or tries to distract. "

My feeling is that this is natural and indeed part of the basic design of this world. If God intended that we would make long term and incremental spiritual progress - the world, and we our-selves would be different.

(...And we would see a lot more examples of people who have achieved progress... And Christians would be qualitatively better than other people, whereas they aren't necessarily and often are worse behaved; but that was exactly what Jesus implied when he said that he came to save sinners. Christians are those who know and repent their sins - are keen to discard them at resurrection; and sure they want to follow Jesus to Heaven - but this does not by any means always lead to better behaviour when personality and circumstances are adverse.)

The plan (as I understand it) is that we learn from this mortal life; and often spiritual progress is subordinated to the imperative of supplying us with new learning-experiences. So long as we are sustained alive, we will be given experiences from which we can (and should) learn - there is always something worthwhile for us to do.

If we focus too much on this life, this can feel like a step forward and then slipping back to where we were before. But another way of thinking about it is that the progress is real but not in this life but the next (resurrected Heavenly life).

After all, we cannot make lasting progress in this life, dominated by change and decay, and subject to death. What seems most important is to deal with the experiences that come our way and expect the benefit to be clear only after death - even when experiences seem like repetitions; this either means we have not yet learned, or we are failing to see that they are not repetitions but new lessons.

cae said...

@Mr. Andrew - I totally agree with everything you wrote!

@Bruce - "The plan (as I understand it) is that we learn from this mortal life;"
While I agree that we are intended to learn from this life, I do not believe that every single thing that happens has been planned by God.

The fact is: there are demonic forces in this world, and they are 'not' (currently, at least) subject to God's plans, otherwise God Himself would be complicit not only in societal evils (government corruption, etc.)
- but also in seriously insane, horrific acts (toddlers being tortured to death by young boys, an actual news item)...

And you can't just hide behind the idea, 'God works in mysterious ways, and we can't know what any given soul is intended to learn' when it comes to the really horrific stuff that goes on in the world -

- your metaphysics has to apply to everyone in every, either 1. stuff happens that God did not intend or 2. God is complicit in some seriously sick which case He would not be worthy of our love.

Bruce Charlton said...

@cae - " I do not believe that every single thing that happens has been planned by God."

Me neither - indeed I have written dozens of blog posts on this point over the years. There is God, there are demonic powers, there is each Man's agency, and the agency of every living Being (and in this animated world there is no non-living 'things' - only Beings).

But at root God is creating this world all of the time; and God does not creatively sustain us alive without a reason - and so long as we are alive there is something (at least one thing) we would benefit from learning.

Bruce Charlton said...

In other news:

You can see from the detailed discussions in this article that - very sadly, since I benefitted from his work in the past - Ed Feser is another casualty of the spiritual challenges of the past 18 months.

He fails the decisive birdemic litmus test, and does not genuinely recognize the nature and reality of the spiritual war and the consequences of the global totalitarian coup. And you can see the corrupting effect this failure of discernment is having.

But Feser's use of the 'hill to die on' mantra shows, in and of itself, that he has by now switched sides from that of God to anti-God. Another one bites the dust...

Grey said...

It is not rational to trust either the competence or the goodwill of the beurocrats and corporations pushing the MRNA treatment. It can be as clean-cut as that, and I think presented like that Dr. Feser would concede.

So much of his article is wasted decrying people who have specific, uncommon, and possibly unlikely fears about the jab and trying to distance himself from them. But I feel he never really addressed the core problem above, and that alone is reason enough for any decent person to resist, now isn't it?

AnteB said...

I was surprised and saddened by the Feser article. I have considered Feser a very good writer and thinker.

As you have written many times before Charlton, it appears to be very dangerous to make loyalty to the institutional church the primary value.

Even before the birdemic something has rubbed me the wrong way about the spirit in which Feser and some others write and think about things. If the primary value is to conform to and articulate the position of the institutional church in all things, can you be be fully and honestly committed to the pursuit of truth?

Another disturbing thing is the bureaucratic spirit among those who make the institutional church paramount. If a church leader says something that seems patently false or seems to contradict the faith, the apologist will carefully parse the words of the statement, and then study old pronouncements and canons of the church and in turn parse the wordings of the of those texts and then invariably come to the conclusion that the concerns one may have are overblown. For me that is a clearly unspiritual way to approach things.

That way of approaching things is also dangerous today. If the powers of this world want a concession from you, an act of loyalty, then there is no danger in conceding (in the mind of the apologist) because the church have not opposed that act, may even encourage it, so it is clearly not "a hill to die on".

Bruce Charlton said...

@AB - I agree with you; but I think that thing have changed and what used to be a reasonable, perhaps the best, way of being a Christian (i.e. loyalty and obedience to a sincere church) is no longer an option. We must put conscious individual discernment First, or perish.

William Wildblood said...

I don't really know Ed Feser though I have glanced at his blog once or twice. But this piece seems positively serpentine to me, using all kinds of intellectually-based arguments to gloss over and obscure a basic spiritual reality. He sounds like a lawyer. I think AnteB has hit the nail on the head. When your spiritual path is completely tied to an institution it becomes more important to conform to that institution than to conform to truth. You effectively become worldly.

William Wildblood said...

Reading it back that comment sounds more critical than I intended especially the use of the word 'serpentine' which was unnecessary and wrong. But I do think there was a kind of rationalisation about that article and that it missed the deeper truths behind the whole crisis which can only be understood on a spiritual level.

Edward Feser said...


My post is making a very narrow point, directed specifically at Catholics who think that use of the Covid-19 vaccines is morally ruled out because of the connection to abortion, specifically. They think that this is an anti-abortion hill to die on. I am simply pointing out that that is not true, given long-standing moral principles that these same Catholics had no problem with prior to the Covid situation. Hence to see this particular issue as an epic pro- vs. anti-abortion conflict is simply to mischaracterize it and waste time and energy.

If you want to make a "hill to die on" case on other grounds, fine. But that is tangential to the specifically Catholic/anti-abortion set of issues I was concerned with, and your remarks above unjustly read more into what I wrote than is there. The question isn't about whether to fight an enemy or a battle, but rather about how correctly to characterize the nature of a particular battle, how significant it is compared to other battles in the same war, etc.

Tony said...

This comment by AnteB amused me:

"As you have written many times before Charlton, it appears to be very dangerous to make loyalty to the institutional church the primary value.

Even before the birdemic something has rubbed me the wrong way about the spirit in which Feser and some others write and think about things. If the primary value is to conform to and articulate the position of the institutional church in all things, can you be be fully and honestly committed to the pursuit of truth?

This is funny because, if anything, Feser is known widely as a man who regularly CONFRONTS the modern institutional Catholic authorities in ways they are quite unhappy about. For a case in point, he is one of the most outspoken critics of the modern Catholic hierarchy's anti-death-penalty stance, and wrote a book on that very issue.

As for the question about being "fully and honestly committed to the pursuit of truth": any Christian (and this is most certainly NOT limited to Catholics), the only "difficulty" that their faith generates in the pursuit of truth is that sometimes there may be an appearance that their faith is incompatible with some "truths" found through other sources. For all Christians, the uniformly correct response to this difficulty is to say "well, that means I have more work to do, because I know God is the author of all truth and it is impossible for one 'truth' to contradict another 'truth', and as of right now I am not able see them as compatible." Recognizing more work to do to find the fuller truth that reconciles (or corrects) the appearances so they don't conflict is definitely NOT being dishonest or being not committed to the pursuit of the truth. It similar to the kind of intellectual honesty a good scientist has to apparently conflicting sets of data, or apparently conflicting theories equally supported by data: a tension that he refuses to "resolve" merely by ignoring the dispute, a tension just plain lives with until he has a solution.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ed - I'm happy to print your comment; but I don't want to engage in argument. My hope is that you might think seriously about what I have said.

Neverthelessly said...

It seems to me that Feser's position has been mischaracterized entirely here in the comments. Feser is not making an affirmative case to take the vaccine, nor for the mandates. He is merely clarifying the issues generally, so that individuals in these particular circumstances are best able to judge consistent with the principle of subsidiarity, attaching the moral weight appropriate to such decisions. There are several reasons for and against taking the vaccine or mandating it, none of which, morally speaking, are for Feser present. Feser in conclusion therefore restates the orthodox position in such circumstances, which is to leave to persons the freedom to decide, without concealing morally relevant - or morally irrelevant - knowledge from their judgment.

Bruce Charlton said...

@N - What you state is actually the core of the matter at issue.

How a question is framed is not usually a matter of logic, but a matter of assumptions. Therefore, how a question is framed is a form of moral pre-judgment: that is revealing of the nature of moral assumptions.

For example, when we read typical bureaucratic prose analysis and policy, or mass media reports and know that these both represent a kind of public reality; these are revealing of a certain world-view quite aside from their specific content.

The same applies to modes of philosophical analysis. When what is experienced and asserted as a major moral choice is re-presented as somewhat trivial and incremental; then this is done by an assertion of what the 'real' issues actually are, and how they relate. But there are other ways of framing the matter within which this same minor matter is actually of *major* personal, social and - most importantly - *spiritual* significance and implication.

There are many people who did not notice the evil-Satanic-dominated global totalitarian coup of early 2020; despite that almost all the Christian churches in the world were closed (and sacraments suspended) for many months.

How can people who have not noticed, or deny, such a colossal and obvious world-historic event be expected to have a correct understanding of the matters which eventuate from it?

Bruce Charlton said...

@N - Enough comments, thanks. These issues have been hashed-out here in detail over the past year and a half. e.g.

Grey said...

I see, I and possibly others though you were making a broader case than you were.

Thank you for clearing that up.

I agree that framing an argument properly is like preparing a battlefield properly, and would tend to agree that because the abortion ramifications are by no means new or unique to the MRNA issue it isn't the right line of argumentation to use in opposing it.