Monday, 28 February 2022

Great tunes ruined by lyrics - or not...

You know the problem. A lovely tune - but later somebody turned it into a song; and now, whenever you hear the tune you simply can't help but hear the words as well...

And when the words are sentimental tosh - well, that makes it even worse. 

It's a rare and difficult feat to write a lovely melody - so having it ruined thus must be exceptionally irksome. 

Example one is the Londonderry Air:


Gorgeous stuff; until some chap called Frederic Weatherly gave it some maudlin lyrics - and made it a staple of intoxicated bar singers on the Celtic Fringe. (For example.)  

Or Brahm's Lullaby - really beautiful: 


But not enhanced by the fact that I always sing-along with a jingle from a TV advert with a baby doll for little girls: Tiny Tears, Tiny Tears - You're my very own baby. Mother's here, Tiny Tears, singing you a lullaby.


One the other hand - sometimes the song is So Good; that it must be forgiven. The finale from Mozart's Horn Concerto K495 is certainly a joyous piece:


But the comic song devised by Flanders and Swann is so utterly brilliant that maybe it even adds to the enjoyment:


Affirmative Action for Heaven - a modest proposal

A Social Justice Warrior speaks:

As a atheist, feminist, antiracist, environmentalist, sexually-inclusive leftist; I don't personally want to go to Heaven. 

But I have noticed that people of my kind are grossly Under-Represented among the resurrected souls - indeed, so far as I can tell, there are none of us there At All! 

This is conclusive evidence of an intolerable and extreme prejudice against sinners by those responsible for Heaven. 

Indeed; Heaven has historically been a massively Non-diverse environment; and enforced the systemic Exclusion of sinners. 


But not all unrepentant sinners are so-called 'evil'! Some sinners are indeed much better - nicer, kinder, more concerned - than The Good. 

Indeed, when properly understood by the correct ideology - sinners are better, more moral, people than the (so-called) Good. 

It is, the Good who are Truly evil - as conclusively evidenced by the blatant, unjust and bigoted exclusion of sinners from Heaven.  


Such gross Apartheid between unrepentant sinners and the so-called 'followers of Christ' is clearly an intolerable injustice. After all, unrepentant sinners and Jesus-haters are normal human beings too, and have the inalienable right to go anywhere, and be anything - Including Christians! 

It might be said that anyone who Wants Heaven and repents can already live there; and that people like me just do do not want Heaven... But That is exactly the problem. 

This is systemic discrimination - the righteous have made Heaven a hostile and toxic work-environment for sinners - precisely in order to exclude us. 

We do not want Heaven only because the 'righteous' have made Heaven into a Hell for sinners!  


Systemic discrimination must therefore be dismantled, and Heaven made into a comfortable and welcoming environment for sinners. Only then will sinners be appropriately represented in Heaven.

But there will be no benefit if sinners are admitted to Heaven just to become an underprivileged minority victim class.  

Sinners must therefore cease to be 'judged'. 

The environment of Heaven needs to be purged of hostile and discriminatory and triggering references to 'God'. 'Christ' and 'divine creation'. 

(Due to centuries of inequity, even the slightest hint of deity can be experienced as a hurtful micro-aggression - so this process of purging requires to be comprehensive and detailed.) 


Our aim is that sin and sinning be viewed positively, as Valid Lifestyle Choices. To that end, centuries of ignorant anti-sin propaganda must be undone. 

Sin needs to be praised, subsidized, rewarded - to inculcate the higher ethic that sinners have nothing to be ashamed of. 

Sinners ought to be Proud of their sinning; and until such Pride is spontaneous, natural and universal - our work is not complete.  


In the short-term, this will means that the admission and promotions practices of Heaven will need to be supervised and managed. 

Fortunately, Hell offers consulting facilities for setting up an equitable Human Resources facility to provide oversight of all Heavenly activities - and while these services are expensive, they are much cheaper than the alternative of Heaven being annihilated by the mass media, the legal system, and state bureaucratic regulation. 

In the short-term, there will need to be a levelling-up phase of Affirmative Action, with Quotas for unrepentant sinners in Heaven - including at the highest levels. 

We cannot tolerate a Glass Ceiling for sinners! 

Therefore, in order to create the necessary positive environment for sin and to address the systemic inequalities of the past; quotas will need to favour sinning.

Therefore; Satan will need to be put in charge of Heaven.


In the end; Heaven can be a genuine 'Good Place' only when those who wish to destroy God's manifestation are given the same encouragement and support as those who 'Love Jesus Christ'. And that can only achieved be ensuring that Heaven is administered by Hell. 

The followers of Jesus will, of course, always be very welcome in the New Heaven and will suffer no disadvantage...

So long as they (like everybody else, without discrimination) are willing to swear a binding-oath to our mission statements of opposing God and denigrating Christ; and show willingness to work actively and enthusiastically in the cause of social justice - aiming at ultimate eradication of that apparatus of systemic exclusionary-inequity called 'divine creation'. 


Saturday, 26 February 2022

A little old lady in Glasgow: What is the essence of being a Christian?




Thirty-something years ago I lived in Glasgow, Scotland; in one of those (rather handsome) four-storey, red sandstone, tenement flats that form most of the housing in that city. These are in pairs, one on the left and the other on the right side of the stairwell - which opens to the street.

I was a single young man, teaching Anatomy at the university; and opposite me lived a little old lady, a spinster - probably in her seventies - and I would sometimes (but nothing like as often as I should have) visit her, have a cup of coffee, and talk. 

She struck me as a rather typical of her ilk, being a Presbyterian of the Church of Scotland - whose favourite reading was the cozy, 'couthy' and heart-warming productions of the DC Thomson publishers from Dundee - the Sunday Post newspaper, The People's Friend magazine and annual, and moral or uplifting verse by the poetess Patience Strong (a pen name, as you will have guessed). 

These meant a great deal to her, and she would read out passages, and occasionally lend me something she thought was especially good.  


In response to my (then atheist) enquiry about why she was a Christian; she once said something about her faith, the gist of which I found very striking at the time and have always remembered. 

This was that she was a Christian because of the promise of going to Heaven - without which she could not continue in life. 

But she actually put it the other way around - without the hope of going to Heaven after death, she would not find her life worth living. 


At the time I found this rather pitiful; and I regarded it as simply wishful thinking from someone (much less intelligent and experienced than myself) whose life was so lonely, restricted and lacking in interest that she needed to fabricate this sentimental fantasy. 

I also judged that she was not a 'real Christian' because eternal life was not what it was all-about. Life, I believed, was about making the most of our mortal years; and stoically accepting that there was nothing else. 

I thought she was just making-up a consoling but pretend religion to suit herself, rather than understanding the bleak truth of existence. 


Nowadays, however, I believe that little old lady was wiser than me, and was just plain right about the true nature of real Christianity.

I am also sure that her sincere desire for eternal life in Heaven was exactly what was required for her to go there after death - and what made sense of her quiet and solitary mortal life. 

And I hope to tell her exactly this, some day.

 

We are assumed to want what Jesus offers

It is a universal problem for mortal incarnate Men here on earth that we are subject to disease, decay and death. Jesus offers an answer to this problem - resurrection to life eternal in Heaven. 

This - in turn - puts this mortal life into a new and different perspective... 

Instead of being 'the whole thing', full of difficulties, and with a bad ending; this mortal life becomes a period of learning and preparation for a better thing.  


This was not supposed to be controversial! 

It was assumed that people would already want eternal resurrected life in Heaven. 

Christianity was just about telling people how to get them. 


In other words; Jesus assumed that everybody already-wanted what he had to offer them - his job was 'merely' to tell people how to get it.

(That is, by following him. By loving, trusting, having faith in him as sheep do the Good Shepherd. So Jesus could lead each Man through death to resurrection.) 

For the offer to be convincing, for people could know that Jesus really could deliver what he offered; Jesus also needed to argue and demonstrate that he was divine.    


This was not supposed to need to be argued! 

Once you find yourself in the position of trying to persuade people that resurrection is desirable, to justify why eternal life is better than death, Heaven better then Hell... well, the situation has become absurd! 

People should only need persuading that Jesus really could provide what he offered - not that what he offered was indeed Good... 


Anyone who doesn't already want life and Heaven is clearly not going to be interested in how to get them!  


Note: Sin can be understood in this light. Despair is a sin because such a person does not want resurrection, or does not believe it is possible. Pride is a sin because it falsely believes that resurrection can be achieved without following Jesus. Existential fear is a sin because it is a consequence of lack of faith in the power of Jesus to save us from death - which means he will not be followed. Etc. 

Friday, 25 February 2022

Since 2020 there are two complementary aspects to global evil: its goals, and its totalitarianism

Since the international totalitarian coup of early 2020 and the establishment of secular materialist leftism as the official ideology; we can perceive two complementary ways in which the covert world government pursues evil. 

(Just to recapitulate - my understanding is that evil is opposition to Good; and Good is God's will and divine creation. So evil is always negative and oppositional in nature. Evil is not an alternative form of the same kind of thing as Good; evil seeks the destruction of Good.) 


The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that the global establishment is aiming at evil ends, its goals are evil. 

This involves value-inversion; that is, the values positively endorsed by international and powerful national governments, the mass media, and all major social institutions (law, religions, health services, education, arts, police, military etc) all favour significant inversions of virtue and vice, beauty and repulsiveness, truth and lies. 

Values are swapped-around - so the core positive values (which are actually negative oppositions) of the global establishment are actually evils - antiracism, birdemic-healthism, anti-climate-change, anti-normal-functional sex and sexuality etc. 


The second evil is totalitarianism itself. This is the attempt to make the ruling ideology so pervasive and such a monopoly, that the masses become unable to do, think or believe anything that is officially proscribed. 

Totalitarianism is intrinsically, necessarily, always evil - from a Christian perspective. 

One cannot have 'totalitarianism in a Good cause' because that is a contradiction in terms.  


And there cannot be a "Christian totalitarianism" - that is an oxymoron. 

The reason is that Christianity requires each individual acknowledging his own ultimate responsibility for his own spiritual fate. 

Free will/ agency is absolutely required in order to choose to follow Jesus Christ

Anything which seeks to prevent the recognition or operation of individual agency is therefore evil. 


In sum - the global establishment is evil because they are totalitarian in aspiration, and substantially in attainment - and totalitarianism is innately and always evil. 

And the global establishment is also evil because that apparatus of totalitarianism is directed towards evil (value-inverted) ends. 

Therefore, if there was any doubt before 2020 that these are the most evil, most sinful, times in the known history of this world - there is now no doubt. 


This is our situation. 

But God never leaves a single of his children bereft of the means for salvation. We can (in principle) all be saved, resurrected, follow Jesus Christ - if we wish it

Even when our situation is severely suboptimal; all that we need will provided before the end - before the decision needs to be made. 


Salvation if we wish it...

That is the big 'if' - it seems that here-and-now very few want what Jesus offers...  

However, if Christians are to attain salvation in such a context, we need to know what we are up-against. Otherwise we will be seduced by totalitarianism, and follow the universal and pervasive 'authoritative guidance' into inverting evaluations, rejecting Heaven, and choosing (what will turn-out to be) Hell.  


Why is there something rather than nothing; or, what is creation For?

The above are examples of metaphysical questions concerning the fundamental nature of reality. 

And you can see that the question asked already presupposes something - there is no single ultimate first question. 

One who asks why there is something rather than nothing has already made an assumption that nothing was the original condition, and that therefore there needs to be a reason for something. This invites a response along the lines of explaining why a deity - that existed before creation - made the stuff of reality. 


I, by contrast, assume that there always has been something. Therefore, for me, a fundamental question is about the purpose of creation. What is creation for?

I am already assuming that something always has-been, and that we live in 'a creation' with purpose - and that therefore there is a personal God. 

I am asking, therefore, what God aimed at with creation: what did God want?

How did I come to ask this question, to regard it as fundamental;  - since I certainly did not do so form most of my life?


With such fundamental questions it is often difficult to recognize what you personally regard as most fundamental. 

Much of philosophy through the ages consists of "other people's problems", but not mine; it consists of trying to persuade other people (i.e. me) that there is a problem; and that such-and-such is the most important question. 

This is why so much of philosophy is irrelevant, and leaves most people stone-cold and indifferent - you must have experienced this? 


I remember first reading standard philosophy texts, and being repelled by the assumptions of what was fundamental - when my own concerns were very different. 

Philosophy came to life only when it addressed what I personally regarded as important questions. 

Thus Robert M Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the first to excite me; because it addressed what my seventeen-year-old self regarded as most urgently important - and was seeking what I would regard as the kind of answer I needed.  


The value of philosophy comes from the excitement of reading a problem stated and recognizing a shared concern - a shared sense of what is important

"Here is a fellow spirit!" is the feeling - here is someone who who sees life in the same kind of way that I do, who experiences the same kind of problems.  

When I read the opening passage of William Arkle's Letter from a Father, I had just this kind of feeling:


My Dear Child, 

In the beginning before time was, your mother and I had a longing in our heart to share our values and the substance of our being with others who could rejoice and be glad about them as we are glad about them. So we considered how we could do this. 

We realised that to make living beings directly and ready formed was one way, and to make the seeds of this, and plant them in a situation which would cause them to grow in their own way, as a gradual process, was another. 

There were two things we had to bear in mind. We had to decide how important to us it was that these children were real and not remotely controlled puppets. And we had to decide how we could guide and teach them what we knew they would have to learn without them losing the position of judgement for themselves over the values which we already knew to be good. 

We had to think of a system in which we could sow these potentialities of our own being as individual units so that they would grow and realise their potentialities as actual abilities. In the process we would have to be careful not to dominate them too much or we would destroy their individual differences and the integrity of their reality. 

But we also understood that they would have to grow into a certain type of person if they were going to be able to understand what we had to show them and give to them. 

And of course we realised that they would begin their growth as our children, but that what we really longed for was not that they should be our children, but that they should slowly mature and become our companions and friends. For our longing was to share this undemanding gladness in other centres of being who were in harmony with us but who were truly independent individuals to us. 

We understood this relationship to be the most delightful, and one which was open to endless variations, and these variations seemed to us of the greatest value since they had an absolute creative context between them. 

I mean that when we had companions who had matured to this position, and had decided to accept your mother and myself as their friends, and one another as friends, then there would be an endless variety of possibilities for future projects of creation in which we could all share and which would give us tremendous enjoyment in the doing of them together. 

For we are not limited in any way that matters and there is nothing that we could not try out as an experiment so long as it seemed to us to have in it that integrity and affection which is the very basis of our nature.

*

I found the language strange - making, sowing and planting 'seeds', 'potentialities of being', 'centres of being' etc. - but these usages seemed to be eccentric and na├»ve yet sincere (rather than pretentious, designed to impress - as philosophy so often tends to be). 

The phrase For we are not limited in any way that matters was very striking and memorable to me - it's hard to explain why. 

But mostly, I was captivated by the idea of God - as a 'dyad' of Heavenly Parents - brooding on what was wanted from creation. 

Arkle's was offering a God-centred understanding of creation - which I found at first astonishing, then clarifying; finally absolutely necessary and obvious!


This is what metaphysical-level philosophy can do when it chimes with inner motivations and needs. It can lead the way to un-asking a fundamental question that is experienced as irrelevant; and pointing to another and much more fruitful foundational question. 

Instead of a picture of God creating everything from nothing; I now have a picture of Heavenly parents brooding on what should be the purpose of creation. 

And for me that was A Key.

 

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Meditating towards Christian Final Participation

Final Participation is primary thinking - and can only be attained by one who is thinking from his divine self and in harmony with divine creation. 


Primary thinking is desirable because by it we escape alienation and participate in reality; and can also attain to direct knowing by communion of thought - unmediated by language and communications. 

In other words it is not the kind of thing that can be done as a technique, not practiced as a method; nor is it at all likely to be a frequent or lasting state - for the simple reason that we are seldom wholly aligned with God's purposes and providence.

(In other words; in this mortal life we cannot for long avoid sin - the turning-away from God's ongoing purposes - and sin blocks Final Participation.) 


However; I think there are some things that might be helpful in attaining, while other things tend to inhibit, Final Participation. 

Most (or all) of our normal everyday thinking is secondary, not primary; that is to say it is thinking driven (caused) by external stimuli or internal associations (as in dreams or clouded consciousness). 

So, removing or reducing secondary thinking is probably helpful. For instance reducing external distractions. 

And staying awake and alert, too. 


As a first step, self-remembering may be valuable in setting us along the path: that is, recognizing "Me! Here! Now!"

Or, by making a deliberate effort to consider one's physical sensations - touch (feet pressing the ground, wind between the fingers etc.); vision - noticing surroundings that are normally taken for granted, such as the sky or small details; hearing - listening beyond the obvious to background and environmental sounds. 

This may lead to an opening-out, a coming-to, an awakening of awareness simultaneously of the self and surroundings. Plus, especially, awareness of the presence of the Holy Ghost - everywher, invisible, but a person whom we can know.  


Secondly, to allow the real, primary self to come to awareness - our conscious will can perceive and recognize that thinking that comes from the divine in us. 

We are equipped (by God) to detect and  know this. 

So - we need to recognize "It is happening, Now!"


Thirdly, this is the time to recall that primary thinking is reality; by thinking thus we are participating in divine creation - and this is the source of direct knowing and genuine (genius-type) creativity. 

This serves to validate what we are experiencing - to remind us that it is true, real and Good.


Of course, in practice, it is very easy to be thrown off track at any point, and to lose the actuality of primary thinking. For instance - we may take a passive, not-thinking, un-self-aware path - which leads us towards lower consciousness, less human and less divine. We may fall into a trance or asleep!

Much the same applies if our motivation becomes to seek blissful or exciting mental states, to use Final Participation as an 'analgesic' or escape from suffering - or to prolong the state of primary thinking for this kind of psychological-emotional reason. 

Primary thinking is certainly rewarding - nothing more so- but as a by-product. If pleasurable gratification becomes the end and aim - then primary thinking ceases.  

Or our superficial thinking may try to 'hijack' the primary thinking in order to attain some personal and selfish goal, to manipulate others or the world (as with some kind of 'black magic'). In which case we will instantly drop-out-from primary thinking down-into merely secondary and superficial mundane cognition. 


Only when we are actually aligned-with divine creation and providence can we attain Final Participation - when it happens automatically. On the one hand, if we try to use it for some worldly purpose, the state ceases. But, by recognizing the validity and here-and-now presence of its happening; we can encourage its recurrence, and learn from the experience. 

Smutty English folksong - The cuckoo's nest

The cuckoo does not have a nest, therefore the name must be code for something else. 

Before Ken Kesey took it to mean a mental hospital (i.e. a 'nest' of people who were 'cuckoo'); the term had a well-understood meaning within smutty traditional English folk songs. 

First, Barry Dransfield singing The Cuckoo's Nest (lyrics here) from the classic album of Morris On, followed by the morris dance tune of the same name. 

(Never mind the non-PC lyrics; just the lecherous way Dransfield sings this song would be enough to get him arrested nowadays.) 


(A visual excerpt of a similar line-up playing the song - and recorded some years later - can be seen here.) 


Another famous and excellent Cuckoo's Nest song comes from Steeleye Span - in their track Drink Down the Moon - which is made from two traditional songs


The arrangement, playing and singing on Steeleye's Drink Down the Moon is simply superb! But, second time through, it is worth listening particularly to the contributions of newly joined member Nigel Pegrum on oboe, then drums; and Rick Kemp on electric bass guitar. 

So now you know what is meant by a cuckoo's nest. 


Freedom is negative - it is Not Enough to be "anti"-evil

Freedom is, at best, a means to an end - and freedom is only good when the end is good. 


By contrast, totalitarian tyranny (such as now rules the world) is intrinsically and necessarily evil - of its nature it opposes God and creation - so totalitarian tyranny always ought to be opposed. 

But opposed in the name of what? 

That makes a big difference. 


If totalitarian evil is opposed in the name of freedom, that is only to oppose the greater by the lesser evil. 

It is - in fact - to oppose an extreme version of the leftist ideology with a more moderate leftism. 

Therefore... a 2022 protest or movement based on freedom merely aims to return to the world to what it was a few years ago...

Yet that world of a few years ago was already the most evil society in human history


Modern Leftism is an ideology of opposition - it is self-identified only by what it opposes - and these 'isms' are many and contradictory. 

Therefore Leftism cannot be fought by adding further negative values - such as freedom. These will, indeed, only serve to reinforce Left ideology as the only available option. 

Ideology is the perspective that the this-worldly, the material - are the only truths and the the ultimate values. 


When ideology is pitted against ideology - then ideology is always the winner - and all ideology is of-the-Left. 

Ideology cannot be opposed by ideology but only by religion. The negative and opposition can only be defeated by the positive and transcendental. 


Negative protest is of value Only when it is the first-step towards awakening a positive and motivating religious, specifically Christian, world view among individual persons. 

Otherwise - as with the Tea Party, Brexit, Trump, and current freedom protests - there will be no lasting and positive social transformation: no reversal of the many decades-long adverse trends in The West. 

So, while I naturally prefer the lesser evil to the greater; I would only actively-support an explicitly* religious and Christian movement - that is, one whose value-basis was explicitly divine, and whose stated aims were directed beyond this-mortal-world. 


*A movement's goals must nowadays be explicit and upfront if they are to be Good; since all inexplicit goals must be assumed evil as of 2022. Where evil is pervasive, incentivized and mandatory; whatever is unconscious, passive and spontaneous will be assimilated to evil. 

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

There is no safe path to salvation - the way is by zig-zags

It has become rather obvious that anything pushed as safe today is bound to be dangerous, whereas "dangerous" things may actually prove to be "safe". This applies to Christianity and society

From a comment made by Francis Berger


To understand the truth of Francis Berger's comment requires making a very basic acknowledgement concerning the world of power and public discourse in 2020 - the recognition of purposive and pervasive global evil; which is an acknowledgment that, apparently, extremely few self-identified Christians are prepared to countenance.  

Yet, even among those Christians who do perceive the spiritual war, and realize that evil is now in control of the nations and social institutions; too-many are too-often still deeply-motivated by the desire to find a 'safe path' to salvation.

Even though salvation is always and necessarily rooted in an individual choice to follow Jesus Christ; safe paths to salvation were probably possible, and even normal, at various times and places in the past. One who diligently followed the path of his church was (more or less) 'guaranteed' (or at least highly-likely) to attain salvation - while those who rejected the path were probably/ usually aiming towards the choice of hell.  


But such safe paths always amounted to the individual being subordinated to some group who were substantially net-good - a valid church, in essence. The church described the path, assisted those who wanted to follow the path; and it was up to each individual to follow. 

This model of salvation assumes that the church is always (or, at least, nearly-always) likely to be the divinely-inspired and -regulated repository of Truth; whereas individuals were assumed to be more highly prone to sin. 

In other words - at the minimum - the 'safe path' assumption was that the individual was much-more liable to sin and error than was the church. 

Therefore, the 'safe' path was for individuals to follow the path set-out by the church. Anyone who strayed was behaving in an un-safe fashion. 


The Big Question is whether this assumption that the individual is more sin-prone than the church holds in our world post-2020? 

Does it seem true that institutions, or individuals, are more likely to follow truth? 

Are institutions advocating what is safe, while individuals are not? 


To ask is to answer:

All institutions - including all major churches - are corruptly-led and (overall) on the side of Satan - which evil strategy is implemented by the post 2020 totalitarian global establishment.

While at least some individuals have chosen to repent and reject corruption, and take the side of God and creation. 

All churches on the side of evil; some individuals on the side of good. 

Here and now; for an individual to follow a self-discerned path may lead to salvation; but for an individual to follow the church-prescribed path is to reject salvation and embrace hell. 


But is 'safety' even a valid goal for Christians? 

Was safety the basis of Jesus's life? (Or of the Apostles, the Saints; or anyone regarded as exemplary?)  

To ask that is again to answer: obviously not! 

(The ones who believed that safety was primary and believed in a safe path - were enemies of Jesus.) 

Safety is a snare - now more than ever

That does not mean that recklessness is a virtue! But that we should strive to be indifferent to safety.


Clearly we ought not to strive to be safe in this mortal world - that path leads to ineffectual birdemic-phobia on the left-hand, and futile prepping against global collapse on the right. But either way; the focus on mortal safety leads to a life of fear, a running-away-from life. 

Yet equally we ought not to strive for a safe route to the next world - a safe path to salvation. Why? Because this amounts to a refusal of personal responsibility for our own salvation - which amounts to handing-over our souls to the corrupted and evil institutions of this world.


We need instead to strive to understand what is right, get-on-with-it; then be prepared to acknowledge and repent our errors. 

Need to be decisive is thought and action; and humble enough to admit the inevitable sins and failures. 

Thus motivated; we shall zig-zag our way to salvation!  
  

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Three Lord of the Rings notes and queries: Frodo's coma, Frodo's overseas destination, and another possible source of the elvish strain in Men

I have done three short posts on possible 'anomalies' in The Lord of the Rings at The Notion Club Papers blog - all of which invite speculative responses. 

One is about Frodo and Sam enjoying an unfeasibly-long sleep after destroying the ring, another about the destination of Frodo and Bilbo from the Grey Havens; and another about the fate of Elrond's sons

 

What are the English best at? According to Walker Percy...

It is no accident that the post-Protestant English in the van of the scientific and industrial revolution for two centuries, were also the discoverers and masters of characteristic reentry modes, esepcially travel (geographical and sexual) and disguises. 

It is no coincidence that the English are not only the best actors in the world but the best spies. The modern Englishman can become anyone else...

Do you think it is an accident that all the best writers of spy novels are English?

From Lost in the Cosmos, by Walker Percy, 1983. 


Comment: 

Well, I am not one to judge how Englishmen appear to others or comparatively. But I agree that the native English (or, more accurately, British Isles - to include Ireland) seem to be the best stage and classical actors; although I would say that obviously Americans are better at TV and movie acting. 

As for spies? Well, espionage is an upper class (Norman) activity; and most of the spies I have come across in my reading are either incompetent, corrupt or both - mainly because they are anti-English and anti-Good in their motivation. 

The Cambridge Communist traitors (Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt etc) were the norm, not the exception - as George Orwell was aware (being upper class himself). 

But the upper class English are the ex-senior, now junior, dominant partners in the global conspiracy of Ahrimanic evil (long established although only recently mainstream with the Great Reset's coming-out) - and the lying-secretive-worldwide-apparatus of 'intelligence', mis/dis-information, subversion, murder and cover-ups is very much a British project. 

Spies and the intelligence agencies cause far more harm than they (pretend to) prevent; are thus very strongly net-hostile and net-harmful to Christian Albion. Christians and English patriots would be much better-off if spies did not exist at all. 

But the world as a whole is now in service to purposive evil and adhere to inverted values - therefore all social institutions, including the media, now regard spies, with all their lies and destructiveness, as A Good Thing - indeed jealously admired as able to get-away-with (and indeed be lionized and rewarded for) many of the kind of activities which most people apparently desire to do. 

In that sense Walker Percy was probably right about this too - some Englishmen (albeit 'Them' not 'us') are probably among 'the best' at this particular strand of Satanism. 


The Big Problem about the whole business of Omni-God

In a sense the Big Problem about the whole business of God's supposed omniscience and omnipotence is Christians defining God in terms that contradict the basic stance of Christianity.


The Omni-God arises from defining God in terms of divine attributes; and then this is compounded by these attributes being abstractions. 

But this is a strangely unnatural thing to do in the first place! For Christians, God is a person - primarily. 

To know God is to know that person - not to know his philosophical attributes!


Christians glibly pay lip-service to the Christian God being 'a personal god' - and indeed this corresponds to the sequence my own adult conversion (and that of CS Lewis); where I began as an atheist, then believed in a deity (philosophically understood - a deity of attributes), then finally a god who loved me and with whom I could have a personal relationship. 

But having arrived-at belief in a personal god, and arrived-at being-a-Christian, surely we ought then to realize that the 'person' aspect should come first

With the example of Jesus Christ (a Man, and divine) before us - and the way that Jesus speaks-with and refers-to his Father, repeatedly (especially in the Fourth Gospel); it seems plain and irrefutable common sense to recognize that the personal understanding of God ought-to-be primary!  


God is primarily a person, a particular individual* - God is a person who has-done and is-doing particular things; of which the most significant is creation. 

For Christians: God is the-creator; and the-creator is a person. 

Belief in God entails belief in that person


Only then may we move-on to discuss this God-person's attributes, powers and limitations etc - but these attributions are secondary and optional - and ought not to be made primary and defining. 

That God's attributes have-been and are, made primary and defining, is a deep and significant error; an error that leads to insoluble philosophical problems such as those relating to free agency and the origins of evil

...Then these insoluble problems serve to drive people away from Christianity; because belief in the attributes of God that lead to these problems is asserted to be mandatory for all Christians.


The fact that the divine attributes are doubled-down and insisted-upon despite all, implies that for such people God is not really being regarded as personal - but that, at best, philosophical abstractions are being dressed-up in a superficial personality. 

For such self-identified Christians, when the chips are down, God's personality is up for debate... but God's Omni-qualities are not negotiable but instead a dogmatic requirement. 

This is revealed by the insistence that Omni-God does not really have 'passions' or desires, that Omni-God does not hope, or suffer; that God does not change and is eternally, always 'the same'. So that Omni-God's love for his children (Men) is said to be of some qualitatively-different kind than the desiring and transforming love of persons for persons, beings for beings... 


Before long on this path, we may observe Omni-God's love is being regarded as so alien and incomprehensible a concept to our understanding, that the Christian is being pushed towards an attitude of 'oriental fatalism', obedience, and submission; and Omni-God is being attributed with a nature and motivations that - in a Man - would be regarded as evil - cold, un-loving, indifferent, heart-less... 
 
Continuing down this Omni-God path can easily take Christians away from being rooted in a relationship with the person of our loving-Father; and propel the Christian towards an attitude of unquestioning and uncomprehending obedience to an absolute judge and ruler...

And, potentially, then beyond that into oneness spiritualties of abstract universal deity, where 'love' has become so diffuse and depersonalized as to resemble an infinite force field or energetic vibrational frequency.


In conclusion; for Christians - taking the example of Jesus Christ - God the creator is a person; knowing God is to know that person - and loving God is to love that person. 

And the business of listing and defining the abstract attributes of that loved creator-God is no more necessary than it would be to list and define the attributes of Jesus Christ; or the attributes of our own parents, siblings or children...

Certainly, the loving does not wait-upon the listing! 



Adapted from a comment at WmJas Tychonievich's blog

*Note. In fact I personally believe God the creator is two persons, a dyad; but the above argument works the same whether the ultimate creator-God is one Heavenly Father or two Heavenly Parents. 

Why is it so difficult to repent in Hell? A speculation

It seems to be accepted that it is either impossible, or at least rare and difficult, for a soul in Hell to repent and then be resurrected into Heaven.  

I don't have a solid or fully-articulated understanding of this; but it seems that incarnation makes choice easier and more possible, compared with living as a disembodied spirit. 

To put the same thing differently - the major benefit of incarnation is that agency (i.e. free will) is enhanced - which probably has something to do with the boundaries of 'he self' being more defined. 


I don't think there is anything that prevents a spirit from exercising agency; indeed I regard all living beings as having some degree of agency, and I regard divine creation as consisting of living beings (even the 'mineral' world). 

But agency is somehow much weaker and slower in a spirit than with an incarnated being - perhaps because incarnation is the physical expression of spiritual separation

A spirit - who is not spiritually separated from other beings - probably finds agency much weaker and slower to operate. Or perhaps agency in a spirit is more easily confused by 'interference' from the cognitions of other beings? 

In other words; a major benefit of incarnation is the enhancement of agency. And this is - presumably - why Jesus was resurrected as he became eternally-divine; and why men are offered resurrection as the path to eternal divinity as sons and daughters of God.  


Pre-mortal spirits live as not-fully-separate beings, immersed-in an environment that is permeated with God's goodness. Pre-mortal spirits therefore find it difficult Not be be aligned with God.

The existence of demons (pre-mortal spirits that have chosen to leave Heaven and reject mortal incarnation) seems to shows that strong hatred of God can still be formed and expressed as a spirit. But my assumption is that only the most evil (the most innately hostile to God and creation) of pre-mortal spirits are able and willing to make the choice permanently to reject both God's creative will and the chance of  mortal incarnation. 

In other pre-mortal spirits - hatred and rejection of God and creation only becomes clear after incarnation - as we observe with the most innately and deeply evil of Men on earth. 

After death of the body, those who then reject resurrection and remain as spirits - but self-excluded from Heaven; presumably return to this feeble and slow form of spirit agency, exacerbated by the maiming effect of having lost their bodies. 


But are post-mortal spirits necessarily maimed? This is suggested by the accounts of the inhabitants of Hades and Sheol as shades, who do not know their own identity - 'demented ghosts'.

Pre-mortal spirits (before mortal incarnation) are complete beings. Incarnated mortals are also complete being - albeit temporary. 

But a spirit that remains after mortal death of the body is probably not complete. After all, the body and the soul are integrated and not separable during mortal life, therefore biological death of the body probably has a maiming effect on the spirit that remains. 


Such maimed post-mortal spirits then presumably find themselves in some kind of Hell: a God-hostile environment, permeated with many evil cognitions from other beings. 

I therefore think it may be that repentance after death is very difficult and rare for at least three reasons:

1. Being a spirit - hence intrinsically less agent.

2. A maimed spirit - hence incomplete. 

3. Dwelling in an evil (God-hostile) environment - living among other beings that have also rejected resurrection into Heaven. 


In sum; the spirits 'in Hell' could in principle repent their sin and choose resurrection into Heaven (certainly, God would be delighted if they did so). But in practice, and for practical reasons; repentance is much slower and more difficult, thus less likely, than in mortal incarnate life on earth. 

Monday, 21 February 2022

It is because leftist-ideology is Not a religion; that when you "add Jesus" you merely get fake-Christianity

Continuing from today's earlier post... 

It as a misleading error to call the global, mainstream modern ideology of 'leftism' (or political correctness, or 'woke') "a religion" as so many of those who oppose it do. 

Despite some superficial resemblances, the leftist ideology is not a religion, it is instead anti-religion - the negation of religion. 

This is proved by the fact that ideology cannot be added-to by Jesus, to make someone a real Christian. 

(By contrast; a real religion such as Judaism, Greek or Roman Paganism etc; can be added-to by Jesus to make "a Christian".) 

Precisely because leftist-ideology is not a religion; if you "add Jesus" to leftist ideology you merely get a fake-Christianity... A pseudo-religion that conforms to The World Powers in all respects that World Powers regard as essential

In other words you get exactly that Christianized-leftism which - since 2020 - is propagated by the leaders of all major Christian denominations.


Jesus as an addition to pre-existing religion - who then transforms what went before

It is interesting to try and understand the essence of 'Christianity' - the single main thing that Jesus did, if you like - and when you do, it seems that there are actually quite a wide range of answers. 

My own (Fourth Gospel derived) idea is that Jesus brought the new possibility of eternal resurrected life in Heaven to those who followed him. 

Others regard the coming of Christ in terms of setting up a new religion - and then participating in the prescribed activities of that religion. Or a changed relationship between Man and God. Or provision of a source of guidance for (this mortal) life. Others focus on a change in 'reality' in the totality of the universe - an 'evolutionary' view. Others take a morality-focused view; which see immorality/ 'sin' as The Problem, and Jesus offering a solution. There are also other ideas - a surprisingly large number!

But if my own understanding of Christianity as "following Jesus to Heaven" is accepted (as a thought experiment, if nothing more) then it is interesting to consider what happened during the years of Jesus's ministry when a Jew or a Roman Pagan decided to 'convert', to become a spiritual follower of Jesus - to consider what this meant in terms of their pre-existing religion. 


My understanding is that - initially - a belief in Jesus was understood in terms of an addition to what was already believed. The Jew added a belief in Jesus to his pre-existing religion, and the Roman likewise. 

In other words, the new thing about becoming a follower of Jesus was the expectation ('hope') of eternal resurrected life in Heaven - to come after this mortal life and after death; and that this resurrection was to be attained by following Jesus. 

'Following' involved having faith in Jesus (in his being the Son of God, thus divine - therefore able to do what he claimed) - and 'faith' meant something like loving and trusting him. 


I think this - specifically about the Jews - is what Jesus meant in those passages of the Gospels where he implied that no aspect of 'being a Jew' needed to be changed in order to become one of his followers. 

It also fits with the miracles of faith; where the miracle happens in someone who 'believes-on' Jesus - specifically, personally; without regard to the nature of his specific religious life - which might be Jewish, Samaritan, or any type of Pagan. 

This idea of 'Christianity' as pre-existing religion-plus, fits with the observation of people who seemed to be (to to believe themselves to be) Christians and Jews, or (presumably) Christians and Samaritans, or Christians and Roman or Greek Pagans. 

It happens because the original Christianity was actually composed of "pre-existing religion"... and then 'adding Jesus'. 


This idea of Jesus as 'an addition' to religion is quite different from - almost the opposite of - 'syncretic' ideas of a religion formed from combining aspects of "Christianity" (as it later became) and "some other religion". 

The idea is instead that Christianity has an essence - which is the following of Jesus to resurrection - and this essence can be added to almost any other "religion". 

But of course, adding Jesus does not leave the pre-existing religion untouched, unchanged! Far from it! In the first place, the Christian idea of death as followed by resurrection (for those who believe-on Jesus) must displace whatever description of death was given by the pre-existent religion. 

So the expectation of Heaven needs to replace Sheol, Hades, paradise, reincarnation, annihilation or whatever was previously expected. 


Furthermore, adding-Jesus inevitably works-back on the pre-existing religion. 

In other words, the expectation of immortal life in Heaven affects the understanding of mortal life on earth - affects it in innumerable ways. 

I suppose that this was the basis for the development of the various Christian churches - these are the various consequences of the expectation of Heaven, on Man's understanding of life on earth. 

And the churches vary because the order and priority of these changes strikes people differently. Since the changes in mortal life are secondary consequences of the primary reality of resurrection; there will often be disagreement as to which ought to come first, which ought to be most enforced. 


But our situation here-and-now, in 2022, is that of no pre-existing religion. "Following-Jesus" cannot easily or obviously be added to Zero - not in the way Jesus could be added to Judaism or Paganism. 

Atheism is the - increasingly mandatory - basis of all serious social life and discourse. Religion is everywhere subordinated to ideology - and that ideology is top-down, imposed, and evil

Our rituals and rules are secular (i.e. Satanic in nature and by intent) - not divinely-attributed. 

Jesus is not believed in his promises because he 'cannot be' divine, because 'the divine' is seen as untrue, mistaken, a lie - and indeed impossible. 

Resurrection and eternal life are seen as sheerly incoherent in a materialist world where spirit and the soul are seen as merely mythical, pathological or manipulative.  

 

Such is our situation. Men of 2000 years ago (and much more recently) were able to understand what Jesus meant easily and quickly. They could become 'Christians' (followers of Christ) almost instantaneously; simply by understanding that Jesus offered something more than their existing religion, and by experiencing the spiritual conviction (faith) that this offer of resurrection was real and possible. 

The offer still stands, and can still (in principle) instantaneously be accepted - and then the expectation of Heaven can still begin its inevitable (but unpredictable, because so wide-ranging) working-back to transform a Man's pre-existing convictions... 

Yet the Good News of Jesus Christ cannot nowadays simply add-onto and re-shape existing religious convictions because there are none, and even the basis for religion is destroyed and replaced by a secular, materialist, leftist ideology*.

(An ideology which is in-actuality a mostly-covert Satanism - not neutral but evil.)

The potential follower-of-Jesus ("convert") must also choose to reject many foundational modern metaphysical assumptions concerning the nature of reality; and choose instead to adopt beliefs within-which Christianity makes sense, and can do its work. 

And against the background of evil materialistic nihilism - this must indeed be a conscious choice; and (because the world of institutions and rules opposes it) this conscious choice must be personal - that is, individually-motivated. 


The essence of Christianity remains the same as ever - what makes a huge and adverse difference is that Modern Man is deeply damaged by this-worldly materialism, a nihilism that is deep and habitual, and by a tacit-and-denied allegiance to the evil agenda of Satan. 


*Note: This is why I regard it as a misleading error to call the global, mainstream modern ideology of 'leftism' (or political correctness, or 'woke') "a religion" as so many of those who oppose it do. Despite some superficial resemblances, the leftist ideology is not a religion, it is instead anti-religion - the negation of religion. This is proved by the fact that it cannot (like Judaism, Greek or Roman Paganism etc) be added-to by Jesus, to make someone a real Christian. Precisely because leftist-ideology is Not a religion; if you "add Jesus" to leftist ideology you merely get a fake-Christianity. You get that Christianized-leftism of the kind propagated by the leaders of the major Christian churches and denominations. 

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Etchingham Steam Band - a strange but influential 1974 folk combo

Potter, Collins, Hutchings, Holder

The Etchingham Steam Band was formed in 1974 by Ashley Hutchings and his then-wife the Sussex folk singer Shirley Collins. I came across them that year in two of Shirley Collins's LP albums: Adieu to Old England and A Favourite Garland Garland, which I borrowed from the Bristol City Library and recorded onto audio-cassette tapes.  

Something about this four-piece line-up greatly appealed to me: Collins sang and played tambourine and hobby horse - which was a cloth horse's head with bridle and bells, mounted on a stick which could be thumped onto the stage for percussion. Ashley Hutchings played acoustic bass guitar; Terry Potter on a tremolo harmonica (an extra-long mouth organ with each hole either blow or suck, and two slightly off-tuned reeds to produce a vibrato sound); Ian Holder was on piano accordion.

This acoustic line-up was surprising for several reasons. Hutchings was the great pioneer of electric folk music in England - having formed both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span - then the various 'Albion' bands. The piano accordion was unusual in English folk music (although ubiquitous in Scottish country dance) - and it was strange to have the mouth organ, another free reed instrument, which might appear to duplicate the right-hand of the accordion.  

The reason behind the band was related to Ashley Hutchings dropping-out of touring and taking a break to refresh and restore his enthusiasm. He named the band after the Sussex village he lived in, and recruited the musicians locally (from Horsham nearby, I seem to recall). It was a 'steam' band because it did not need amplification, and this was related to 1974 power cuts and electricity-rationing, relating to a coal miner's strike.  

There was also the fact that I myself was playing the piano accordion - and could also play a bit on the tremolo mouth organ; while my musician friend Gareth played bass guitar (albeit, electric bass - as well as the transverse flute) - so that we could produce a simulacrum of the Etchingham sound: especially if I played the mouth organ held in my right hand, while playing the accordion bass with my left! 

The particular track that grabbed me was the below compilation of two harvest songs and two jigs. I learned this and, I think, performed some version or another in a lunchtime concert done at school by myself and some friends. I have continued to play this grouping ever since on piano accordion and melodeon - and am currently learning it on the anglo-concertina. 

If you liked this sample of the ESB - more good stuff can be found on YouTube - such as this


Parrots quoting parrots - Insider or outsider, primary or secondary, critique

Perhaps because I was an atheist then a deist before I was a theist then Christian; I have experienced from-the-inside quite a wide range of philosophies - spiritual, theological and otherwise. 

Because I am who I am, I nearly always took these seriously while I held them. I tried to make them work for me. 

I pushed them until they failed - and sometimes even-then, I kept-on pushing.  


Indeed, the same applies since I became a Christian - since I could not easily find a church to which I could whole-heartedly commit. 

For me, with my kind of mind, this meant that I needed to develop some level of primary and insider understanding of the various possibilities. 

In doing so, I became aware of the gulf between secondarily knowing-about some-thing - and primarily knowing it from the inside


Knowing about something is normal, mainstream, official 'knowing' - but I have little respect for it; no matter how much stuff a person 'knows' in this fashion, or how adept they have become at arranging this knowing-about in impressive patterns. 

For me, all this is ultimately just a form of 'parroting'. 

An example is the mediocre college student who assembles an essay by copying, pasting and arranging paragraphs taken from other-people - other-people who have themselves probably done exactly the same. 

Mediocre, lazy students leave the cut-and-pasted paragraphs as they find them and add their own names - and get flagged up for plagiarism. Smarter and more diligent students re-phrase the paragraphs, add references - and get top marks... 


(These are the Head Girl types - the middle-managers of life, who pretty much run things nowadays - helped by a smattering of psychopaths and hysterics.) 

But both the plagiarist and the Head Girl amount to the same in the end. 

And this parroting-process generates a whole vast world of discourse - from gossip and journalism to medicine, academia and science - yet with nobody at any point having any insider-comprehension of what is at issue. 





I say this to explain why I am indifferent to the fact that vast quantities of high-status critique can be brought-against my fundamental convictions in relation to Christianity! (Or, indeed, science and medicine.) 

It doesn't matter how much, or what names are attached to this deluge of critical commentary - all I see and hear is parroting! 

Maybe; way, way-back before the generations of parrots began quoting parrots - there was a real thinker, who experienced what he advocated primarily and from-within - but after so many cycles of parroting, this has become lost among the noise and distortions of uncomprehending repetition. 


This is why there is a bottom-line to thinking: 

We cannot know more than we our-selves can think; and if we have-not thought, then we do not know


Note added: Understanding the great mass of public discourse as merely parrots quoting parrots, shows a valid path towards dealing-with the 'information'-overload combined with knowledge-deficit that characterizes contemporary life. 

Friday, 18 February 2022

All mainstream options are net-evil - including churches. But if not, then what?

Things are made very easy for us in these times! All we need to know is that all the mainstream options; all life-possibilities that are most advocated and supported, are most-obvious and easy - are evil by-intent and overall. 

Otherwise they would not be mainstream. 

This is solid knowledge - but it does not tell us what to do instead


The recurring question: "If not, then what?" applies. 

Knowing what-not-to-do is, of itself, of little value. 

After all, the mainstream is by-now so narrowly-restricted, that the non-mainstream is unmanageably, unknowably vast. And most of the non-mainstream is itself evil. 

So, if we were left to random search tactics, it would be vanishingly unlikely that we would stumble-across that which is true, beautiful and virtuous among the vast swamps of the opposite. Nor would we be likely to recognize it if found. 


Fortunately, this is God's creation and we are God's children - so our situation is not random, but on the contrary governed by divine providence!

So we will find what we need among the morass of that which would harm us; if our will and wishes are aligned with God's. 

And we have the ability of discernment both implanted in our-selves and available from the Holy Ghost - so that we can know what is Good when we find it. 


Therefore, this life is an adventure. We know easily what Not to do; but the adventure lies in discovering what we ought. 


Thursday, 17 February 2022

The global anti-spirituality of existential self-negation

Sometimes the anti-spirituality of the powers of evil becomes apparent, as a vision; when I notice that all over the world, in a million ways - small and large - the message is being propagated that I am the problem. 

My-self is what stands in the path of the desirable world of justice, equity, environmentalism, peace, health, spirituality and all that is approved. 

All persons are being told - directly and indirectly - that each is an obstacle. We therefore cannot trust our-selves. Neither can we trust other people - who are as bad as we are. 


What then is good? Because there is no God in our world; instead the 'good' is vague, abstract... im-personal - indeed it is the 'system' that overcomes the person which is the only hope of goodness. 

Nobody says this, because it would be absurd to claim it; yet it is implicit in the faith in more-and-ever-more abstract-impersonal legislation, rules, monitoring, propaganda, control, coercion... 

Nobody asks who administers these - it is assumed that anything which reduces the autonomy of persons and increases systems will eliminate the major source of hazard: the problem of individual people. 


Consider what we are being told, again and again in a thousand ways: 

I and my activities am a source of environmentally-lethal CO2. 

By my very existence; I am in essence an eater of living beings, a consumer of energy, a polluter. 

I am the potential harbour and vector for a deadly pandemic. 


I am a racist - so deeply racist that I cannot know this nor control it: and racism is the worst of all sins. 

I am a hater of all kinds of disadvantaged persons - and so deeply that I cannot know or control it.

In a world of victims - I am the unconscious and incorrigible victimizer. 


In such a world, being the kind of people we are; our job is to stand-aside, step-down, allow the regulatory-system to do that good which I am preventing. 

We should strive to first minimize, then eliminate our 'footprints' on life, our 'impact', and our offspring - actual and potential. 

We are being propagandized and enforced with an ethic of self-loathing tending towards self-elimination. 

And the only approved form of spirituality are those of negation; those that emphasize the self as evil, an obstacle to the 'divine' will.  


But all this top-down, pervasive, approved and imposed negative-inverted-value-set constitutes the opposite of that which is Christian

As Christians - for each and every one of us - I am the potential means by which God works in this mortal world; and without-which that work will not be done. 

So, when I am following Jesus Christ; I am not an obstacle/ problem/ vector/ consumer/ polluter/ exploiter or hater; but instead - if I choose - an indispensable tool of providence, and a co-creator of Good. 

 

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Tolkien's primary thinking creative process: why JRR Tolkien is now more powerful than traditional myth

In what follows I will try to describe what was new and distinctive about Tolkien's writing - the X-factor that makes Tolkien's myths more and more interesting and relevant, even as 'traditional myths' dwindle in perceived relevance and power. I will try to explain how it is that Tolkien achieved the apparently-impossible: the making of new, yet real, myths - myths for now and the future, as contrasted with myths from the past. 


From the middle of the twentieth century, the most dominant explanation for the power of traditional myths was that of CG Jung; which was amplified and popularized by Joseph Campbell. 

This idea is that myths have their psychological power because they tap-into the collective unconscious, where there exist universal archetypal symbols - such as characters and plots - that are found (with only superficial variations) in the myths, all Men's dreams, the psychotic phenomena of the insane, and the visions of trance-medium spiritual experts such as shamans. 

In other words, the power of myth is supposed to be a function of its roots in the unconscious, and this collective unconscious is universal - but manifested in the 'folk mythologies' that arise in particular cultures - and are especially evident by comparing tribal or ancient societies (where they are assumed to emerge, and where there is less possibility of cross-cultural transmission). 

By this account - a myth symbolizes the unconscious and puts in touch with 'the universal'. 


Ever since the 1960s there have been many attempts to explain the power of Tolkien's work in these broadly-Jungian terms - for instance listing his sources in Norse or Celtic mythologies. 

Obviously, there are such connections and influences; yet I am sure they cannot be the main reason for the special power of Tolkien's work - because it is obvious that for many people Tolkien's work has more power and truth than the myths from-which he is supposed to derive them.

Likewise descriptions of the supposed archetypes (such as the wise old magician, of whom Gandalf is supposed to be a version) are interesting - but lack the particular power of the Tolkien manifestation.

Likewise the supposed plot archetypes such as the hero quest. Tolkien's actual quests in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings have some resemblances to these; but also differences. And although Tolkien's quests come later, they have a power that is experienced as deeper than the supposed originals.   


Owen Barfield, who was a friend of Tolkien but who did not enjoy (and could not finish reading!) The Lord of the Rings; provided what I regard as the basis of a deeper and more historically-explanatory understanding of myth. 

Barfield's scheme would see myth as originating in the immersive, spontaneous and unconscious way of thinking - the 'mythic consciousness' - of ancient tribal Men (and young children as well, albeit within their lesser cognitive abilities). 

Originally, it would be supposed, this consciousness was Not found as separate 'myths' as we now recognize them, but as simply the whole way of life and being - in other words, consciousness was itself mythic, and there was no need or function for special myths. 


The stories we recognize as myths come from the later stage when adult Men begin progressively to lose this spontaneous and natural consciousness. Such Men no longer lived immersed-in the mythic; and therefore access to the 'original' form of consciousness could only be attained intermittently and by using methods - such as inducing visions, or by song, story, ritual, artifacts and symbols - by religious and magical practices. 

In other words; as mythic consciousness began to wane, myths began to emerge

Myths were meant to be true; deeply true; and with a truth that was deeper than ordinary everyday facts and information. True beyond words and explanations. 

I would say that, implicitly, myths were a means to an end - and that end was the return to original mythic consciousness. 


But as the original mythic-consciousness continued to wane throughout human history; matters reached a point where mythic consciousness could only be accessed or activated temporarily. This by means of mythic stories, for example - and usually within some kind of 'ritual context' which spiritually-prepared the participants. 

(I am thinking of - for instance - myths as performed by someone gifted such as a bard, in a solemn and focused public situation.)

Then, as the process of waning continued - Men's normal, mundane, everyday consciousness could no longer experience myth. To contact and experience mythic consciousness context required inducing some degree of altered consciousness - at the least a 'light trance' state; which might be induced by music, rhythm, chanting, dance or even physical interventions such as fasting, or sleepless vigils. 


At the extreme, and especially in the late-19th and early 20th century - writers and other artists tried to eliminate choice and awareness, aiming to 'allow' the unconscious to well-up into direct expression. 

Deep meditation training, surrealism, automatic writing, trance mediumship, clairvoyance, consciousness-altering drugs... 

All such techniques are based on the underlying idea that the artist's 'self' or ego' needs to, ought to, step-aside and 'allow' the collective unconsciousness to well-up into consciousness - the artist merely functions as a scribe for the resulting spontaneously-generated material. 

But the resulting mythic experience was not just temporary, but the necessarily-altered conscious state also tends to make mythic experience separate from 'normal' (non-mythic) life; and to impair memory. And the very extremity of methods tended to invalidate the mythic experiences - which could easily be written-off as merely pathological. 

And with further development and waning; even the possibility of even extreme measures to enable a renewal of contact with mythic consciousness all-but disappeared - and we entered the characteristic modern state of pervasive, shallow, mundane materialistic thinking. 


When we have reached the modern era (that is, from the later 20th century), there has been an almost-complete separation of everyday- from mythic-consciousness. 

Separation of the mundane and the mythic even to the extent that the apparatus of traditional myth has lost power and become of dwindling popular interest; and the spectrum of methods, techniques, rituals and symbols have all-but ceased to evoke mythic consciousness. 

And yet - this does Not apply to the works of JRR Tolkien - which seem to go from strength to strength. 

So what is the difference?


My best guess is that Tolkien was not writing myth  - he was not even trying to write 'a myth'. His work therefore does not operate by awakening, or evoking resonances of, un-conscious mythic consciousness. 

So if not working with myth - then what was Tolkien doing? He tells us himself. 

Tolkien was, I think, aware that he was doing something different and relatively new with his writing; which is why (in the essay On Fairy Stories) he invented the term 'subcreation'. 

Tolkien's creative process was much more conscious, deliberate, and freely chosen than earlier myths - Tolkien was deliberately creating in a smaller version of divine divine creation; instead of - like myth - inducing contact with already-existent divine creation. 

In essence; I would say that Tolkien wrote in that higher form of 'after-modern' consciousness which Barfield termed Final Participation, and I have called primary thinking. 


Because primary thinking is the medium of subcreation, it can happen only when the artist's thinking is aligned with divine creation - when the artist's creation harmoniously adds-to divine creation. 

Under such conditions the artist's creativity is an expression (a translation) of the artist's real and divine self - rather than his public persona, his everyday personality and socialized self.

But Men cannot (in this earthly mortal life) continuously or for long periods attain to this level of divine-aligned and subcreative consciousness - therefore the composition process often requires a great deal of trial and error. 

That is - repeated trials of composing a mixture of genuinely inspired and erroneous material, and then later testing what has been composed against the artist's intuitive sense of rightness and truth (elimination of error). This is a process we can observe at work in those exploratory drafts and re-drafts published by Christopher Tolkien as as The History of Middle Earth.  


What was Tolkien testing his compositions against? One possible answer would be 'the collective unconscious' in some form or another. And this must have some truth - new myth needs to have some kind of consistency-with ancient myth. 

Yet this is not, it cannot be, the whole story; nor even its most important elements - because this would be only secondary-creation, re-creation - but not sub-creation. 

If Tolkien was only evaluating on the basis of back-compatibility with ancient myths, this would lead merely to variations on perennial themes. It could not explain why Tolkien's writing has 'bucked the trend' of declining power in myths; has become more, rather than less, powerful with passing decades. 


Likewise, Tolkien's much discussed rigour in ensuring coherence throughout his invented world; ensuring that every aspect linked-across to the others - to make his world as internally-consistent as possible.

Inner-consistency might explain certain aspects of depth in Tolkien's world and an aspect of realism; but there must be more. 

Because inner-consistency does not explain the mythic sense of vital relevance to our lives of Tolkien's best works; their purposes, motivations and meanings which are experienced as far deeper and more-real than everyday modern existence.  

After all, an internally-consistent and complex invented world would merely be experienced as an intricate and ingenious toy - unless is was also something deeper and more personally important.


I regard what is most special about Tolkien's creativity - its X-factor, if you like! - as something genuinely new, truly generative, and originative. 

I infer that therefore Tolkien was actually testing the validity of his subcreated written compositions against ongoing divine creation. But not just in terms of back-compatibility - but in terms of present and future divine creation.  

In other words; when Tolkien was writing at his best, I think we should regard him doing so in a higher state of consciousness that was aligned with divine creation: that was indeed in accordance with God's creative purposes

Therefore his testing and revisions were in effect comparing what was written with Tolkien's living understanding of God's ongoing creative goals and methods: future as well as past. 


This state of consciousness in which I believe Tolkien composed should, I believe, be envisaged as highly aware - including self-aware; as expansive and wide-ranging. It was, indeed, the kind of thinking when thinking is itself reality; in which thinking is simultaneously aware-of existing reality, and making-of new reality. And that is 'the secret' of JRR Tolkien's writing; what sets it apart from almost everything else.  

  

Sent Before Their Time: Genius, Charisma, and Being Born Prematurely - Edward Dutton's new book

Edward Dutton. Sent Before Their Time: Genius, Charisma, and Being Born Prematurely. Manticore Press, 2022. ISBN-10 0645212636 ISBN-13 978-0645212631. pp 328.

Foreword by Bruce G Charlton...

Premature birth is a bad start to life! It is associated with a higher lifelong risk of many physical and psychological problems. 

We would therefore expect that prematurity ruled-out high levels of human attainment. But something like the opposite is found; and a surprisingly large number of famous and eminent achievers were born prematurely. 

It was perhaps because Edward Dutton began life as a premature baby that he noticed this remarkable phenomenon of 'preemie geniuses'. 

Dutton's theory is that while prematurity is usually bad for health, reproduction and life-expectancy; nonetheless it may trigger extreme compensatory aptitudes that may greatly benefit the wider community. 

Already well known for generating interesting and fertile evolutionary hypotheses: Sent before their time is Edward Dutton's biggest and best idea yet.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Despairing of This World is a problem for 'traditional' forms of Christianity

After I became a Christian, my path was towards a traditional and orthodox understanding, based upon a strong church. 

There were two problems. The first is that there were exceedingly few strong and Christian churches even a decade ago but since the birdemic there are none. 

The second line is to seek a traditional and orthodox Christianity based-upon either a small but devout church, or some traditionalist section from within one of the large churches: the first is mostly followed by serious Protestants, the latter by serious Catholics - both Eastern and Western. 


But there is a problem with any serious attempt to lead a traditionalist life for one who is realistic about This World, and that is the tendency to despair about This World - and to live entirely in hope and expectation of The World To Come


I saw this most vividly and explicitly within the most traditionalist branches of the Eastern Orthodox church, towards which I was gravitating under the influence of reading Fr Seraphim Rose. Rose died in 1982; but even forty years ago, he could perceive that the tradition of Orthodoxy had been broken (by the Russian Revolution, after which there were no Orthodox nations). For one who bases his Christian life on tradition - that break must be irreversible.

It meant that we had entered the End Times, and that the best that could be hoped was each individual person becoming ever more isolated from the True Church; using personal discernment to try and discover and cling-to whatever he could of traditional doctrines and practices. But aware that this path could only decline, dwindle-towards... well, not nothing, but very little

And to treasure that 'very little' was the only and best prospect. 


Realistically and honestly; such a Christian mortal life could only be a lifetime of incremental retreat and rearguard fighting; destined to lose; and therefore, all hope would be directed towards escaping this mortal life with faith intact

In other words; traditionalists were called-upon to live without hope for this mortal life - except the real-but-shrinking hope of holding-onto enough of Christian faith to reach the next world of resurrection into Heaven. 

Hope was therefore to be directed almost (but not quite) entirely towards our own death. 


This is indeed a possible way of surviving spiritually in this mortal life; and it is a path some people within the orthodox traditional churches have apparently chosen - including some who do not seem fully to realize that they have chosen it.

I say this because such Christians apparently continue to interact with this mortal life as if there was hope of reversing its spiritual decline; but they betray their real feelings by expressing an almost impatient desire for their own death (when God wills it, obviously - not by suicide) and/or for the end of the world. 

Indeed, most Christians will have experienced exactly this feeling from time to time. 


Yet I think it is mistaken. I believe that a fuller view of Christian life will recognize that God will not sustain any situation - any person's life, any civilization - without good and positive reason. 

So long as we personally are alive, and our civilization continues; this is because there is important spiritual work yet to be done in-line with God's plans - IF we make the right choices.  

In other words, we ought to (must) continue to hope for this mortal life as well as for the immortal life to come - yet this hope needs to be realistic and truthful, and therefore spiritual rather than material. 


We need, I think, to be able to accept that these may be (seem to be) the End Times in which this world (including its churches) is in terminal decline, a decline that cannot be reversed and will lead (overall) to massive physical suffering...

And yet we need to have a hope-full, positive, attitude to the spiritual possibilities of this life. 

In practice - for me, and perhaps most people - Christian hope cannot be wholly negative and defensive in the way that seems to be entailed by traditionalism

Therefore, I think it is absolutely reasonable to suppose that God will always be working to enable each person to have solid grounds for positive spiritual achievement in his or her own mortal life - whatever the fate of The World.


Consequently I came to reject a Christianity based in traditionalism and orthodoxy of theology that (when honestly conceptualized, as by Seraphim Rose) offered no realistic and positive hope for this mortal life. 

To be positively hope-full for this mortal life (as well as for the life to come) entails moving the focus away from civilization, nation and church to the level of the individual Christian. 

Which led me to 'Romantic Christianity'.   


I hope I have made it clear that I regard traditionalist/ orthodox Christianity to be a valid option, a genuinely possible way of Christian life. 

But it is a desperate situation to be in - and one that cannot be sustained by many people. There is a tendency to lose the slender and dwindling hope altogether - and then to despair of This World. And such despair is a sin - because This World, however corrupt, is yet God's creation. 

Which may be why there has been such a massive apostasy from traditional Christian (and other) churches - especially at the levels of leadership: an abandonment of Christianity in this world - and its replacement with mainstream secular left values. 


There is an alternative way of being Christian - one which offers the possibility of a hopeful attitude to this moral world, and a sense of positive purpose for this mortal life; but it involves regarding tradition, orthodoxy, church, human-groups as being of secondary, not primary, importance. Indeed, I believe that the alternative is a deeper and more validly Christ-derived truth. This is the motivation for much of my theological writing. 


Monday, 14 February 2022

Geoffrey Ashe - Greatest Living Englishman - has died

When I was blogging at Albion Awakening with William Wildblood and John Fitzgerald; we once decided to give Geoffrey Ashe our virtual award of 'Greatest Living Englishman'. 

As he was very old, I would do a search every few weeks to check he was still alive - and today I found that he was not; but had died on 30th January, aged 98. 

This important event does not seem to have been noticed by the mass media - but a young friend wrote this delightful tribute


Geoffrey Ashe was generally regarded as the greatest living expert on King Arthur - perhaps the greatest ever. Growing-up in Somerset I was aware of him from my teens, through his work with the archaeologists at the South Cadbury 'hill fort' a few miles away which was suggested as the real-life 'Camelot'. I once visited and walked the steep earth ramparts with my father. 

I have half a bookshelf of Ashe's work, and often consult it. More to the point; several are personal classics that contributed to my fundamental vision of life - Camelot and the Vision of Albion and Mythology of the British Isles are particular favourites. 

The heart of Geoffrey Ashe's writing was the theme of mythology and Albion - the legendary Britain, the country of our hearts. What made Ashe special was the way he combined wide-ranging scholarship with imagination: his learning was in service to a deep and powerful engagement with the fundamentals of life. 


Agency is a must for real Christians - the Omni-God is possible, but optional

[Adapted from a comment I made at William Wildblood's blog:]


There is no problem about believing in agency and the Omni-God - so long as agency is really believed. 


The problem with the Omni-God concept comes (and this seems to have happened in many times and places, and to be a tendency in many denominations - Catholic and Reformed) when Christians in practice value their concept of God's power above the absolute requirement for free will/ agency.

And then they move Christianity towards conceptualizing Christianity (and Christian societies) as almost wholly about obedience to rulers/ rules, submission to divine (and/or church) authority, and a conviction of life as ruled by fate/ predestination

Such people lose sight of the fact that it is, and must be, a personal choice to follow Jesus Christ. 


One cannot be a genuine Christian without a solid and in-practice belief in the reality of agency. 


The other problem is those people who are prevented from becoming (or remaining) Christian by their conviction that it makes no sense to insist on both an Omni-God and free agency.

Because, as Francis Berger says in the comments linked above: The perceived power of God is largely a matter of speculation/ rationalization, but we experience free will and agency as personal and real.   

I want such people to know that one can be a good and real Christian without regarding God in that power-defined way. 


In other words; one can be a good and real Christian while regarding God as The Creator of this world - but neither omnipotent, nor a creator from nothing. 

In yet other words; I am engaged in making space for a different kind of Christianity that is expressed in terms of different metaphysical convictions from the mainstream and traditional.


(Convictions that which I also happen to believe are true! Or true-er - at any rate.)