At Adam Piggot's blog there is an interesting and important post about the question of first things first, and our motivations for doing things.
For me, this is one of the matters that has come to a point recently - in other words, the gray areas have disappeared, and all activities are ruled by the consequences of a stark black-or-white choice between two sides: the mainstream of global totalitarian leftist materialism, or Christianity.
This means that no activity is intrinsically good, but only good insofar as it is motivated by, and rooted in, having made the choice of God, divine creation and Jesus Christ. Without that motivation, any activity you can think of will be turned towards evil by the overwhelming wickedness of The World.
The particular activity under discussion was lifting weights specifically, and in general training in regimes designed to encourage toughness and fortitude. The primary debate was whether such activities would intrinsically tend to make a man more masculine, or more effeminate.
This (slightly edited) is the comment I left at Adam's blog, where I try to widen the discussion to any and all activities - but to understand its context, do go and read the original post.
One of the great lessons of my life is that no activity is intrinsically good. None At All.
For me - the temptations were (at various times) literature, classical music, medicine, academic scholarship and science - I had the idea that doing these, learning and practicing them - would be 'good for you' - make you a better person, make you deeper, nobler... whatever.
But I found that greater knowledge and experience was totally disillusioning. For example, meeting and conversing with musicians in the best orchestras, people whose lives had been dedicated to their high craft and whose days were spent playing the greatest music under the greatest conductors... was usually a stunningly disappointing experience! The best doctors and scientists I met were usually shallow and trivial. I got to know plenty of more-or-less famous authors - one or two were interesting and independent-minded; but most were unbelievably superficial, unthinking and naïve doctrinaire leftists! And so on.
The past two years have extended this even further and into the churches.
All religions and All Christian denominations have overwhelmingly (with but few noble individual exceptions scattered across the churches) apostatized, supported globalist totalitarian agendas - and eagerly ceased their supposedly-core spiritual activities.
What is stunning is that this happened across the board - from Roman Catholicism that is rooted in the Mass and rigorous philosophy, through evangelical Protestants who base everything in the Bible's inerrancy, through Mormons who built a parallel society and focused on good works and clean living, through Eastern Orthodox who claimed that tradition would be a sure safeguard against fashion and temporary pressures - to Anglicans who claimed that a combination/ synthesis of these would be the best defense of the faith.
All these and others very rapidly capitulated to closures and ceasing of core activities, without time limit; and with their leaderships fully endorsing this shutting-up-shop, spouting leftist globalist lies (about the birdemic, climate, racism, trans etc) and their members overwhelmingly compliant.
I interpret this as telling me that no Christian 'activity' or theoretical basis, or philosophy or any-thing - is decisive in keeping someone a real Christian, when a genuinely strong (courage-inducing) and individual motivation is lacking in its members.
And when that motivation goes above and beyond the church considered institutionally. In other words, the dominant motivations need to be transcendental, spiritual and not-of-this world. With such motivations, many activities and beliefs may be spiritually-helpful (even including 'lifting!); but without it, none are helpful - and all become snares.
It probably was not always thus - probably at one time in a different context, there were intrinsically-good practices.
But as of 2022, motivation is almost-everything. More exactly, the situation is asymmetrical: Some activities are certainly bad for you; but none are intrinsically good - unless also well-motivated.
Yes this is a very important point. It's a great deception to think that there is an objective set of things that can make you a truly better person. There are things that tend towards goodness, of course, but even they can be turned into a means of corruption. Religion is the foremost, being the platform of man's best and worst tendencies. Art is certainly another. This is one of the reasons Christ says you have to become a child to enter the kingdom of heaven. Only the simplicity of the child is useful; love and only love, in the most childlike way, will count for anything at all in the end. By comparison, all the great art works of humanity are looked on as vanity of vanities, as Ecclesiastes says, if they are without love to redeem them. This is why I don't like hearing Christians going on endlessly about the fall of Western civilisation; as if Christ just came to inspire Bach and Michelangelo, and give people something to talk about pompously. "Western civilisation" falls because it's another vain, loveless creation of men, who prefer their idols (like art and culture) to the love of God and neighbour; Renaissance palaces and Baroque churches are not the kingdom of heaven. St John of the Cross told a nun who was worried about God's judgement that in the evening of our life, we will be judged solely by how we have loved.
It’s funny because common sense would seem to knock a lot of this out. A man can lift weights and be a coward, and many of the bravest men in history would have no idea what a deadlift was. Same goes for many good things, rich men can be saints or sinners, beautiful women can be kind or cruel. We’re talking basic “learned it from fairy tales” as a child knowledge. Being physically strong undoubtedly has some physiologically masculinising effects, but you can still be very in masculine since man is more than a body.
Specifically when it comes to masculinity a lot of weirdness comes in, a lot of surface thinking even among Christians. John Eldredge in Wild at Heart picked up on this phenomenon which he called something like “posing”.
Strangely apropos, as my son has recently gotten into weight-lifting, and I've had to guide him to not do it as an end-in-itself.
Especially in the "man-o-sphere," a lot or almost all the talk is about techniques to "win" by cheating or rhetoric or psychological manipulation.
An ex-manosphere guy named Roosh finally left that stuff behind, and even deleted and stopped selling his old books, after he converted to the Orthodox Faith.
With motivation, we seem to become able to do miraculous things. Without it, the strongest, high-IQ person seems to founder and peter out.
People who are really good at music or being doctors etc. can't give you any secret insight into it, because its inherent to them. They can't teach you how to do it any more than you can teach them how to do what you do. It all flows from insight not teachable stuff. Either you can, or can't.
In the same way I would say you can't teach how to or be taught how to be a Christian. You just either are or aren't. Which gives a bit of light to the paravle of the tares. Either you are one of the people God sowed in the field (which is the world) or the devil sowed in the field. Meaning Christians are ingerently so, even if they happen to not know they are one; and non-christians are inherently not (even if they think they are one). And by their peck position you shall know them.
I've been thinking about this recently as well and came to the conclusion that this ultimately tied to the curse after the fall.
"And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
In the garden, God provided for our physical needs so we could focus on what really mattered in life - communion with Him. Post the fall, the curse guarantees that we will have to toil to meet our physical needs, and the more we toil, the less time we have to fulfil our prime directive.
The resurrection would once again restore creation to its intended purpose - communion with The Great I Am.
It's nonsensical to call out women or men as acting as the opposite sex. There are activities that are enriching the self or there are not. There are those who are anti-life, anti-self, and demonic, not masculine or feminine when they "ought" to be otherwise.
Thinking about how far gone democracy is in "expanding the franchise" I can't call those men who decided upon that as unmanly, but as anti-self. "Acting" for others is always the simplest way to deceive oneself.
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