Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Narnia's elvish deficiency...

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http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/no-elves-another-reason-why-tolkien-did.html
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A Cosmic Cosmology

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A cosmology is a mythical account of the universe as it presents itself to the human mind; it needs to be poetic, symbolic, inspiring of a sense of awe and mystery. Furthermore, a complete cosmology should include the three levels of macro-, meso- and micro-cosm, in order to understand the nature of the universe, human society, and the individual’s relation to them.

I seem to crave - almost to demand - what might be termed a cosmic cosmology. The kind of thing that hree years ago I was blogging about:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/medieval-cosmology-looking-up-at-stars.html

This cosmic dimension - so rich in the Middle Ages - I find lacking from so much Christianity - especially on the Protestant side. But I find it too in Mormonism, with very appealing personal and narrative elements.



And also in the work of William Arkle:


And where I find it, I cherish it; on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis.

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Could science detect free will?

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No. There are many ways to explain this, but one way is to start from the fact that free will entails an un-caused cause (or un-moved mover) something which leads to action or behaviour that is not simply caused by what went before.

Could science discover such an entity? Could science detect an un-caused cause?

No. Because science assumes that all effects do have causes; and assumes therefore that any apparently un-caused action is actually an effect with unknown cause/s.

And, in actual practice, none of science is able to be absolutely adequate in terms of ascribing causes to the effects it observed- what usually happens is that an approximate (statistical, reasonably precise) association is taken to be sufficient to ascribe causation.

What never happens (because it is excluded by assumption) is that the inevitably imprecise and incomplete nature of scientific evidence is ascribed to an un-caused cause - to free will.

Form the perspective of science, free will is just a trumped-up 'God of the gaps' -  any gap between prediction and observation is put down to unknown causes, lack of evidence, incomplete understanding - never to free will.

Hence, science never can discover free will - because to science free will just looks like 'further research is necessary'.

Reference:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=free+will
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Evaluations and examinations through the ages

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/through-ages-difference-between-real.html
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The modern Left are Strategic Scavengers of Phase Four Nihilism

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Most of the Christian, traditionalist and especially the secular Right wing blogosphere seems to be devoted to analyzing and critiqueing who benefits from whatever happens to be the latest Leftist obsession/policy drive.

This strikes me as at best a pointless waste of time - and an unwitting emulation of the way that Marxists go about their business; and at worst a distraction from what is really going on: which is destruction.

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At the point we have now reached - pretty much all of Leftist policy can be summarized as: finding excuses for destruction.

The destruction is primary - and the consciousness-raising, the arguments and debates are just half-hearted, unserious, feeble, 'throw-them-a-bone' excuses for the destruction.

Indeed, lately even the excuses are being dropped, and replaced by using the raw power of the mass media (backed by the police and civil administration) simply to shove into the faces of Christians and traditionalists, whatever happens to be the current destructively-motivated policy.

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Somebody benefits from destruction - mostly scavengers of various types; but that is not the point. The point is strategically to destroy marriage, family, traditional morality and social order, beauty and truth.

This is not rhetoric: that really is the point of it - the underlying, primary, strategic point of it (which unifies the disparate multilevel and international activities of secular Leftism).

It is not complex, it does not require analysis, we do not need to know which particular group of scavengers is benefiting from which particular policy - and if or when we do know, we are no further forward. 

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The modern Left, which is the modern mass media, mainstream politics, public policy and the leadership of all large and powerful institutions; are simply and merely Strategic Scavengers - they arrange for destruction and then they live-off the consequences of destruction.

They are Strategic in the sense that their only 'policy' is to look ahead a bit, in hope of more-efficiently doing their work of destruction; in hope of of maximizing the quantity of destruction per unit effort over the long term by focusing on the megaton policies like SSM and principles such as Diversity and concepts such as Social Justice and Sexual Freedom.

They are Scavengers in they they intend to live off the consequences of destruction, keep their jobs, advance their careers, get more status and sex and pleasure, and delay suffering.

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But all Scavengers who think about it know that their success is only to be the last one standing - and that the more they succeed the shorter will be their triumph.

Still, they do it anyway; because they know no better, and deny that anything better is possible, and are savage in their scorn of those who do know better than themselves.

This is a very advanced form of evil that we are dealing with here - an evil that is cynically self-aware of its own futility; but which self-nourishes on its own cynicism.

In sum, this is Phase Four Nihilism:

http://www.oodegr.com/english/filosofia/nihilism_root_modern_age.htm#II

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Monday, 28 July 2014

Northumbrian Rock Art

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One of (many) wonderful things about Northumberland is the incidence of extremely ancient and mysterious rock carvings

http://rockart.ncl.ac.uk/ - which I invite interested readers to browse.

These carvings have the power to create a powerful feeling of connection with people of the past - and irresistibly lead to speculations about what these markings are for?

I have my own theory, naturally!, which is that they are symbolic maps - used for teaching about significant landscape features.

For instance, the concentric rings like those shown in the above illustration are representing 'hill forts' - such as this one at Lordenshaws (aerial photo):



and the carved lines represent either paths or rivers.

Since many of these landscape features will be undiscovered, lost or altered; and since I would not expect a symbolic map to resemble closely the actual landscape - my theory has the virtue of being both psychologically gratifying and essentially un-disproveable!

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The major constraint on the omnipotence of God

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(This is differently emphasized version of the basic argument to be found at http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/christians-dont-really-believe-that-god.html )

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The major constraint on the omnipotence of the Christian God is Christ: specifically the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

For Christians, the situation is that before the incarnation of Christ, God could not accomplish the salvation of Man; and after the incarnation of Christ, he could.

Therefore, in Time - the Christian God is not omnipotent.

This is such a very large and very significant constraint on the omnipotence of God, that to non-Christian monotheists it destroys mono-theism, in a way which they find shockingly offensive to God.

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The only sense in which the Christian God could be legitimately described as omnipotent, is by having God located outside of Time - in the sense that everything that will happen already has happened.

And therefore, for God to be omnipotent requires that the incarnation of Christ had already happened before it actually happened.

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If, and only if, a person can make sense of Life and Salvation on that basis (the ultimate-simultaneity of all things past, present and future - and the ultimately-illusory nature of Time, change, progress etc.), then you will be able to make sense of the Christian God being described as 'omnipotent'.

Otherwise, it is necessary to be clear that the Christian conception of God is not omnipotent - and to try and deny this is to provoke confusion.

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Why is it better to have a body than to live as a disembodied spirit? What is the theological function of the human body?

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Despite a constant 'gnostic' or 'Platonic' tendency among intellectuals to ignore or denigrate the body and emphasize and valorize the spirit or soul - the body is absolutely central and essential to Christianity; in the sense that one big innovation was resurrection: the promise of another life after death but not merely a soul-survival but another life in a body.

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But why? What is the body for - in a Christian theological sense: what is the function of the body?

In a nutshell: why is it (for Christians) better to have a body, than not to have a body?

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Because if it was better not to have a body, then we would not be resurrected - but only the mind/ spirit/ soul would survive death.

Indeed, more than this, there must be a very big advantage indeed to having a body - considering all the trouble it causes.

But what is that advantage?

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The idea that I wish to suggest here is that the body protects the soul.

Specifically, the body protects the soul from direct spiritual interference and influence by evil spirits.

This means that evil spirits (I mean Satan and his minions) can only get-at the soul indirectly, via the body - e.g. via enticing or tormenting the body - because the soul is protected in the body.

This sets up a situation in mortal life whereby evil can only 'get in' by being invited or allowed in. The default situation is that evil cannot get in. Because the body is protecting us, we have to actively open the door and ask evil to enter - give evil access.

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The contrasting situation could be seen during sleep if we suppose that dreams are happening 'in the spiritual realm', that our spirits become loosened from our bodies, and that in dreams we live as (almost, but not quite) 'naked souls' and experience (re-experience) living without our bodies.

But living as spirits this time not in Heaven and a good and loving environment but on earth and in mortal life, and among the fallen angels...

In dreams (specifically nightmares) there is perhaps a taste of what life would feel like if evil had a much more direct access to our souls; evil spirits attacking our selves, putting-in ideas and emotions, shaping the process and direction of our thinking etc.

Being awake and in a body we are protected from this.  

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So, there is a sense in which the body enables us better to withstand and resist an evil environment - which is another way of talking about being more of a developed self, more responsible, more autonomous, more of a free agent.

In other words, getting a body and having a body is a forward step in theosis or spiritual progression.

The body is what enables us potentially to withstand the problems of mortal life, in this extremely difficult environment of mortal life; with its great opportunities for learning and development - but commensurately great spiritual hazards. 

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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Did Britain (and the West, generally?) miss a Schumacher moment in the mid-1970s?

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This is a totally subjective feeling; but I believe that there was a 'moment' in between the publication of EF Schumacher's Small is Beautiful in 1973, and his Guide for the Perplexed in 1977 - when Britain, and maybe the West, had a sort of 'last chance' to get serious about Life - and sort-out the proper priorities; but chose instead not to get serious - to take the path of distraction and hedonism and shallow, expedient, careerist stupidity.

My recollection is that Small is Beautiful made it very clear that economics specifically, but politics and social aims in general - had to be conducted inside an overarching spiritual and religious framework about what is really important in life - or else, there really was no hope.

Of course not many people read Schumacher's book; but this feeling was in the air at the time - and emerged all over the place in popular culture: comedy, drama, documentaries, non-fiction, music, fashions, and in what people actually did  - I feel that there was a real and general appreciation that we were at a decision point.

But at the same time, there were the usual forces and concerns up-front - all sorts of materialism, careerism, manipulation, seedy dishonesty, snide satire and cynicism - and perhaps most of all there was the sexual revolution; getting more and more confident, more and more self-satisfied; offering more and more gratification (sensual, motivational and especially moral) for less and less work, sacrifice - and all of this on-offer without the need for hard thinking or hard choices.

Why did it go so wrong? People en masse (and without much in the way of serious dissent) chose (and it was their free choice, their responsibility) the short-termist, the easy, the selfish, the trivial; and most of all they rejected the spiritual, the religious and in the end the Christian - so by the time that Schumacher published his final (Christian, Roman Catholic) statement in Guide for the Perplexed, it already seemed to have missed the boat, to be too late - and to be a quixotic, futile gesture.

Britain had decided; and apparently the rest of the rest made exactly the same decision; and after that point it got harder and harder to make the right decision - but, to be candid, by that time there were not many people who were really bothered anyway.

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Note added: 

The final words of Small is Beautiful read: "Everywhere people ask: 'What can I actually do'? The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: we can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order. The guidance we need for this work cannot be found in science or technology, the value of which utterly depends on the ends they serve; but it can still be found in the traditional wisdom of mankind."

His biography makes it clear that Schumacher failed to practice what he preached - and did not set his own house in order - in fact did not really even try to do this with any seriousness and got caught up in media, celebrity and (of course...) the sexual revolution; and this failure was no doubt crucial in the scheme of things.

Schumacher's daughter Barbara summarized her Father's work: "At the centre of his message was the point that unless it is recognized that there exists something higher than man which gives a point to man's actions, then there can be not future worth contemplating."

What was this 'something higher"? It was generally known as Buddhist Economics, but Schumacher stated that it could 'equally' be known as Christian economics - but he quipped that if he had called it that, then 'nobody would have read it'. 

I find this a telling comment. He is almost certainly correct - Westerners could enjoy the notion of Buddhist economics, because it was unreal to them and seemed to make no demands. So probably it was already too late even by the mid-seventies. And, by waiting for six years before revealing that it was really, so far as Schumacher personally was concerned, Christian economics - perhaps he missed the moment and left it too late?

But either way, I still believe that there was a 'moment of clarity' - when there was a balanced choice between repentance (on relatively 'easy terms'!) and continuing the path to cultural alienation, despair, dishonesty and suicide. 

For each individual, it was perhaps a matter of hoping that 'somebody else' would take the lead on this; would set their own house in order, and behave accordingly... but 'somebody else' never did - or at least not enough 'somebody else's'.

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The Wittgenstein double-bind - and its solution

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I used to be very interested by Wittgenstein and his ideas

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=wittgenstein

although I now regard both W. and my interest in him as mistaken.

One aspect which I recall was that the only thing which enraged Wittgenstein more than people using his ideas without full attribution, was people using his ideas with full attribution - because they always misunderstood and misrepresented the ideas.

Wittgenstein himself did not publish anything after Tractatus - nothing of his 'late' philosophy; so this meant that there was only one way to know what W. was saying and that was to hear him say it - in his actual presence. And to be allowed to do this, one had to be a disciple.

So W. had disciples whom he controlled, not colleagues; and operated as a holy man or guru, not as an academic. This is, indeed, the basis of his appeal.

It is also a proper way to proceed in education - i.e. apprenticeship. Unfortunately, with his 'late' philosophy, W. did not really have anything worth teaching - as he himself was the first to assert, and was confirmed by W.s main patron and supporter Bertrand Russell.

In consequence, there was a weird cult of nothingness - moralistically critiqueing and denying this, then that, then something else... but from no discernible basis - swirling around the personality of Wittgenstein (and continually riven by accusations of misunderstanding and misrepresentation); and this cult proved extremely enduring: it was certainly still going strong twenty-five years ago (when I last looked).

But the phenomenon is fascinating. Of course Wittgenstein was a compellingly intense and uncompromising character - a one off; but it is remarkable that he became by far the most influential philosopher in the sphere of British philosophy - 'despite' - or was it precisely because - he 1. published nothing and 2. had nothing to say and 3. did his utmost to prevent anybody else from referencing or discussing his work.

Do colleges and universities indoctrinate their students? Only in bad habits

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Modern higher education does indoctrination as ineffectively and inefficiently as it does everything else - with the exception of inculcating habits of sexual licence, intoxication and laziness (which comes mostly from other students).

The only people who get effectively indoctrinated are the staff, whose livelihood depends on 'toeing the party line' - not the students.

But where does 'the party line' come from in the first place?

Easy - nearly all the the indoctrination in the modern world is done by the mass media. This is constitutes an immersive environment, available 24/7 - and most people are very completely addicted.

If you think about it; the rapidity of change of political ideas makes this inevitable - it could only be done-by and come-from the mass media.

College is far too-slow, is one-off, and has far too-long a lead-time to generate and implement rapid social change.

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Friday, 25 July 2014

What is formal education actually FOR?

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What is formal education (schools, colleges etc.) actually for? I mean really, properly-speaking?

It seems to have very little to do with literacy and numeracy rates - but even if it did, that can be accomplished by a few years of formal education.

It seems to have very little to do with the transmission of cultural-important knowledge - but even if it does, that can be accomplished by a few years of formal education plus personal study.

It seems to have very little or nothing to do with the inculcation of skills - since these require multiple repetition (drill) and reiteration (practice) which is rare-in, or altogether absent-from, modern formal education.

It seems to have little or nothing to do with developing 'critical abilities' or 'the ability to think' or 'reasoning' or logic or higher levels of cultural sophistication - since all these have either always been absent-from or else are-being/ have-been incrementally deleted from formal education. And when IQ is properly tested, it can be seen that almost all measurable differences in these domains are due to hereditary intelligence, and not to schooling.

It seems to have little or nothing to do with inculcation of good working habits such as hard work and conscientiousness - since most formal education (the great bulk of it) requires neither hard work nor conscientiousness - and such of these as are required are incrementally being eliminated. And when personality is evaluated, it can be seen that almost all measurable differences in hard work. conscientiousness etc. are due to hereditary personality and not to schooling.

It seems to have nothing to do with morality - since success in formal education is already and increasingly possible by cheating (i.e. by presenting another person's work as your own) - so in terms of incentives, modern formal education is a training in dishonesty.

So my conclusion is that, as a whole and on the whole, formal education as it actually is here and now has zero legitimate educational function - beyond the first few years.

It is NOT about culture, knowledge, skills, reasoning, good habits or good morals... and insofar is it operates (imprecisely and corruptly) to evaluate and rank individual abilities, it does so less exactly, more unreliably, and vastly less-efficiently than proper psychometric testing.

So...as a whole and on the whole (with a low percentage of exceptions at the individual or institutional level) formal education has zero legitimate functionality.

That's not very good, is it?

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Christian churches are about theosis/ spiritual progression, and are not a matter of salvation

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This is, for me - as a late adult convert to Christianity, one of the most important insights to make sense of world and historical Christianity.

The 'publicity material' for many or most (but not all) genuine Christian churches has tended to be exclusivist; claiming that only 'we' have the keys to salvation: that only inside the church can you be saved, and outside of this particular institution all are damned.

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There have been times when I have tried to believe this of a particular church, or even to make sense of it - but honesty prevents this. It is crystal clear that real Christians, and indeed the very best Christians, have existed across many denominations, and as members of many churches and of no particular church.

Exclusivist claims by churches in relation to salvation are therefore factually false. Exclusivist claims can only be, should be, interpreted as matters of expediency or strategy - as a concession to human weakness and vacillation; perhaps necessary on average, in some circumstances and for some people. 

(But it is better - preferable - when a church can function without making exclusivist claims in relation to salvation.)

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Therefore, my interpretation is that in Christianity there is one mystical church but many denominations and individual institutional churches. 

The one mystical church is the community of those who have repented and currently accept Christ's salvation.

(Others will join this mystical church later in life, and still more will accept Christ after death, when confronted with the reality of the situation).

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So what is the legitimate purpose of the specific, institutional churches?

Their proper purpose is to sustain faith and encourage the spiritual progression - the becoming-more-divinized, that is the theosis, or sanctification - of their members.

A good church is one which supports Christian faith on average and in individuals by various means - such as teaching, sacraments, prayer, study; by structures of legitimate authority and by informal social mechanisms.

A bad church does the opposite - and tends to destroy Christian faith on average, or in particular individuals.

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Therefore, each church can be judged on average, and also at the individual level. Some bad churches, which destroy Christian faith on average - such as the most of the mainstream and most powerful Liberal Christian churches within both Protestant and Catholic denominations - may nonetheless be helpful for specific individuals (for instance, those who fight these anti-Christian trends by staying in bad churches).

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So, denominations and churches are not about saving us, but about sustaining us in faith and moving us further towards the status of Sons of God. 

What differs in each church is the emphasis and scope. Some churches are happy with a moderate piety, others encourage members to scale the heights (and there are advantages and risks to each tendency). Some churches focus on celibacy and the monastic/ religious life - others focus on marriage and the family as the pinnacle.

The different emphases are not a matter of indifference, they do matter. Some churches have a better emphasis than others - especially in relation to particular times and places and people.

Some churches are much more correct than others in terms of what they teach, recommend etc. Some churches provide access and encouragement on a path to higher levels of spiritual progression than do others. Some churches do not even claim to enable high levels of theosis, but focus instead on evangelism. Some churches have an international scope and potentially a social-political role - but with all the hazards that brings, others are tiny and local and pure.

Some churches are competent and coherent, while others are a mess; some are mostly-uncorrupted, while others are full of fake Christians in leadership positions; some have a warmth of spirit, others are emotionally cool - or even cold.

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Specific churches and denominations are very important - they can be very helpful, or else a major hindrance to spiritual progression: In sum - specific Christian churches make a huge difference (for good or ill); but none of them are crucial to individual salvation.

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Diversity = Destruction

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It is a straightforward equation. Diversity ten years ago was bad enough to destroy any institution - but perhaps the concept sufficient remaining ambiguities or uncertainties that some honest and competent people might have failed to see the writing on the wall...

But diversity now is starkly revealed as a clear plan of destruction:

D. Diversity Defined. 

Previous diversity plans have focused on race, ethnicity and gender, which remain critical problems for UW-Madison. We recognize, however, that to achieve Inclusive Excellence a strategic framework should be expanded to include additional dimensions of diversity. This framework  defines diversity as: race and ethnicity; sex; gender, and gender identity or expression; marital status; age; sexual orientation; country of origin; language; disability; socio-economic status; and affiliations that are based on cultural, political, religious, or other identities. 

http://diversityframework.wisc.edu/documents/FrameworkforDiversityMay192014_2.pdf

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This is from the University of Madison Wisconsin, which for many decades has been the major institution for graduate training in the US - and presumably the world - and is therefore a representative powerful modern institution at the ideological 'cutting edge'.

Let's just unpack that list of priorities for multiplicities:

  1. race
  2. ethnicity
  3. sex
  4. gender, and gender identity or expression
  5. marital status
  6. age
  7. sexual orientation
  8. country of origin
  9. language
  10. disability
  11. socio-economic status
  12. culture
  13. politics
  14. religion
  15. other identities 
...and if it has any energy, resources or will-power remaining after getting all that stuff right; the UW-Madison can try to pursue whatever it used to do, you know education, scholarship, research... that kind of stuff. 

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What this represents is an end to the brief 'modern' era of functional specialization and a return to the primacy of religion/ ideology/ nepotism in public affairs - BUT with the critical difference that Diversity is an anti-religion, and anti-ideology, a nepotism which promotes everything except one's own family.  
Diversity therefore equals destruction - it is the destruction of any and all religions (but especially Christianity, obviously) and of all positive ideologies by which I mean, ideologies that aim at a particular state of affairs.

Because Diversity can only be destructive: whatever IS is insufficiently or inexactly diverse. Whatever IS must therefore be destroyed in order to make it MORE Diverse. And there is no conceivable or measurable end to it. Yesterday's Diversity is today's intolerable lack of Diversity.

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In sum: Diversity is the destruction of Good; and it is the destruction of all types of Good - however defined. All are chewed up and spat out by Diversity. 

More exactly, Diversity is the promotion of chaos by the destruction of Good; and then the re-naming of chaos as Good. 

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But... The age of functional specialization is past and gone; it was a blip in human history; people JUST DO NOT WANT IT any more (as you will agree if ever you have tried to argue in its favour as I have, many many times).

The age of de-differentiation is returned.

This must be accepted as a given; as a fact.

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So we have a choice - and only this one choice: the choice of religion/ ideology to which all institutions must conform.

The default choice - the prevailing and dominating situation - is the new Left, Politically Correct religion of no religion, and its anti-ideology of Diversity.

If implemented Diversity will destroy the functionality of all institutions, and then destroy itself. This destruction is sure and certain, and indeed fully intended by the architects of Diversity.

Or we can choose a positive religion or ideology.

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The de-differentiating society

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Modernity, the type of human society since the industrial revolution, was based on functional specialization - but modernity has been collapsing for a while, and a mark of this is de-differentiation: the loss of specialized functionality.

This is one way of looking at the takeover of Political Correctness in all major social domains: it is the loss of specialized functionality and the replacement of specific functionality with general political discourse across all domains.

So that mainstream churches are not about religion, they are about PC; the mass media is not about entertainment, it is about PC, the legal system is not about justice, it is about PC.

And in a very general way, functional criteria are ignored for all sorts of reasons, or no reason.

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These thoughts were brought to mind by a microcosmic incident which reflects and represent this macrocosmic situation described above.  John C Wright reports

http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/07/the-logic-of-illogic/

that the Science Fiction Nebula Award for short stories went to this story

http://www.apex-magazine.com/if-you-were-a-dinosaur-my-love/

which just isn't science fiction (but is a PC choice).

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This is exactly the kind of plain, stark, straightforward corruption which goes on... well pretty much everywhere in modern life.

The rules are bent, the rules are ignored...

Now, there is a place for bending or ignoring the rules, and that is to make space for the exceptional - the off-beat, the one-off, the sui generis of exceptional merit - because if you don't bend and ignore the rules, it will have nowhere to go.

But when the rules are flouted in favour of commonplace mainstream industrious mediocrity as exemplified by the Nebula short story winner - well then this is merely arrogant corruption and deliberate destruction of function... in sum this is itself decadence, promoting of further decadence, and both a symptom and cause of decline and destruction.

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And this kind of thing is happening everywhere and on a daily basis! Public administration, science medicine, education, the arts, the military and the police...

Reducing the effectiveness and efficiency of modernity (which was bad enough!) to the lying and posturing chaos of post-modernity - a situation so completely dishonest that it denies the observable reality of destruction, even as it celebrates its own destructive motivations!

Making exceptions for the unexceptional. Pah!

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*Why* worship God? (And is 'worship' the best word?)

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We might worship God (one God) because of His power, greater far than the power of any other entity - greater far than any 'other god' (as it gets phrased in the Old Testament); indeed, so much greater as to be immeasurably and greater.

This worship may be based upon fear of such power, and the hope that worship will be understood as a submission and a propitiation.

This sees the primary reality as legalistic - in other words, the universe is structured by relationships - and the relevant type of relationships are those which pertain in a 'state' - the relationships between a monarch and his subjects, and the relationships between subjects (of various ranks and roles).

To disbelieve in this concept of God is an act of rebellion against the legitimate monarch; and an anti-social act. 

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We might worship God because he created everything - including the other gods - which is perhaps an extension of worshipping God because of His power.

However, if we were to worship God because he created everything out of nothing, this potentially induces a different flavour to worship. Worship may then be akin to a recognition of fact. The recognition that everything is from-God, part-of God, sustained-by-God.

This is perhaps analogous to recognising and acknowledging that we are inside God. 
So 'worship' may get a more scientific ('physics'-like) flavour - of stating, swearing-to and living-by quasi-scientific propositions that represent this reality.

To disbelieve in this physics-like concept of God is seen as a factual or logical error, due to ignorance or insanity or a lie: a denial of what actually IS. Its harm comes from its dysfunctionality.

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The idea of God as Love is qualitatively different from the above - because it implies that we should love God because He loves us. But why love Him, and why Him above others and as God? What makes love of God different from love of a specific Man?

The answer comes from Him being our Father and us His children,and the value attributed to this primary fact - so, by this 'argument', family relationships take on and replace the 'structural' role which used-to come from God's creation of everything from nothing, or the relationships of monarch and subjects in a state.

To disbelieve in such a God - God as Loving father - is therefore primarily to exclude oneself from God's family - an act of self-exile - a decision to 'go it alone'.

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Whereas a God who is creator of everything from nothing 'ought' to be worshipped as an acknowledgement of the reality that everything depends on Him and everything is inside of Him; and God as legal monarch 'ought' to be worshipped as a matter of good order and proper deference; God as loving Father 'ought' to be worshipped as an acknowledgement of the reality that derives from relationships.

In other words, when God is (primarily) Love; the universe is conceptualized as structured by family relationships. These family relationships become the primary reality and the reason for doing things.

For Christians who regard God as Loving Father, it is relationships which provide the 'ought' that used to be provided by power or status.

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All metaphysical reasoning involves a decision or choice, whether that decision recognized and explicit or unconscious and implicit. the choice is to put some assumption at the root of things: and that fundamental assumption cannot be analyzed or critiqued exactly because it is the primary assumption, and everything else is secondary to it.

When it comes to understanding and conceptualizing God, we are in the realms of metaphysics; and the advent of the Christian revelations of God as Love led to a metaphysical revolution - with the transformation of God as Power, or God as Monarch into God as Father.

And the ultimate rules of this new Christian universe were not physics-like structures, nor were they like laws - but they were like the relationships in a family. 

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So, the primary, bottom line understanding of the structure of reality for a Christian is now family-relational, rather than quasi-scientific or national-legal. 

And the 'worship' of God naturally takes on a different primary flavour - because the proper attitude to God who is primarily understood as our loving Father, is different from the proper attitude to a monarch, or to an infinite power.

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

More thoughts on Mouse Utopia - phases of modern England and declining of social and sexual functional adaptations

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Further thoughts on the Mouse Utopia experiment, here described:
http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-demise-of-mouse-utopia.html

Some fanciful parallels between Mouse Utopia and modern England:
http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/modern-england-as-mouse-utopia.html

And what to look-out-for when mutation accumulation is suspected:
http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/what-signs-should-we-look-for-in.html
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The animistic consciousness: Review of “Dancing with a Ghost: exploring Indian reality” by Rupert Ross


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Rupert Ross. Dancing with a ghost: exploring Indian reality. Octopus publishing group: Ontario, Canada. 1992.

I would like to thank the blog commenter who uses the pseudonym Thursday (I also know his real name) for very generously sending me a copy of this book, because he believed – correctly – that I would appreciate it and learn from it. I don't suppose I would ever have read it otherwise.

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This book is about the difference in the thought-worlds of modern Canadians of European descent (such as the author, Rupert Ross), and the American Indians or Native Americans – especially those who have recently been hunter-gatherers – specifically the Cree and Ojibway peoples of Northwestern Ontario.

My brief summary of the book is that some of the descriptions of how these Indians perceive the world are among the best I have encountered – they really seem to take you inside the minds of these hunter gatherers – and, implicitly, our own pre-agricultural human ancestors.

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And what different minds they are!

It is this aspect of the book I found of such great value – and it is my intention to transcribe edited version of my favourite passages from the book over the coming days.

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What is not good about the book are the explanations for these differences: the explanations for why Indians think and behave so differently from whites are incomplete, incorrect and in general just wrong.

The preferred explanations are mostly cultural – i.e. Indians think and behave the way they do because of Indian culture; or Freudian-ish – e.g. Indians engage in binge drinking of alcohol because it releases their repressed anger.

And the explanations completely ignore the 'racial' – in other words they do not even consider the fact that Indians and whites are separated by hundreds or thousands of generations who have experienced very different evolutionary trajectories and selection pressures – so that now Indians and whites are (inevitably!) psychologically different in a way that is hereditary and genetic; and which therefore ought to be regarded as the main explanation for group behavioural differences that are so large and so powerfully resistant to social shaping.

In other words, in truth Indians (and recent hunter gatherers generally) are different from whites, mainly because Indians/ hunter gatherers are different from whites – and not merely because they have been brought up in a different culture.

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So, in reading this book – and I would recommend it to people like myself who are fascinated by the hunter gatherer mind – a degree of filtering and selectivity is necessary; there is a lot of angst and muddled-goodwill to be waded through in order to get at the good stuff.

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But the good stuff really is good! 

Edited from pages 81 through 85:


I earlier spoke of 'imaging' as opposed to 'imagining'. I suggested that the skilled imager visited times and places in advance of going there, and that during such visits he would experience as the sounds, smells, feels, tastes and sights of those times and places in his mind.



As he crouched on the trail reading a fresh physical sign, he would also be up ahead with his quarry , reading the signs available to it, sensing fully what it sensed.

He would, in fact, be able to inhabit two worlds, and for a significant part of each day he would trek back and forth between them...



In other words, for the skilled hunter gatherer there was life on two planes, equally vibrant, equally full and... equally accessible.



...It seems clear that such a conviction could not help but lead, ultimately, to certain other kinds of conclusions.



If, for instance, it is possible for a man to 'walk' through the spiritual (that is the imagined) plane, then he could not deny the possibility that others would be able to do the same... Each person who did this visiting thus ought to be able to encounter... others; suddenly the possibility of interaction with others on that plane becomes real.



Further, there would be no reason to conclude that such interactions could only be of a positive sort; it would therefore seem prudent to adopt a stance of vigilance even in thought, lest offence be given on that other plane. Ridding yourself of negative thoughts would be considered essential, if only to avoid antagonizing the spiritual dimension of others.



Because people were vulnerable on two planes, extreme circumspection was a central requirement.



...Reverence for (and perhaps fear of) ancestors becomes reasonable, for death on the physical plane does not means ceasing to exist on the other.



Fasting, vision pits and the seeking of protective Naming-Spirits are seen as reasonable precautions. 

Dreams themselves take on a different significance, being seen as … signals that are being channelled through [one's subconscious]; why would dreams not be the logical way for inhabitants of the spiritual plane to communicate?

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How do we know if a person, or a church, really is Christian?

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First, these remarks refer to self-identified Christians - people and churches who explicitly claim to be Christian, and explicitly regard themselves as Christian.

In this situation, the proper framing of the question is to ask whether some person or church who says they are Christian - and shows all signs of sincerely believing that they are Christian - really is what they profess to be and what they show signs of believing they are.

(When I say 'sincerely believing' I mean that we need to judge that a self-identified Christian person or church is not claiming to be Christian merely in order to attain some other non-Christian goal; an exclusion which would apply to many modern Leftist Liberal Christians - in fact a majority of the leadership in mainstream Christian churches.)

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When a person (or church) says he is Christian and we believe that this is sincere because he also behaves as if he believes that Jesus is his Lord and Saviour; then the principle is to approach the claim with charity, and with a genuine hope that the claim is true.

Then, observe the situation over time, check what is happening to that person or church.

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An example of a borderline but false claim of being Christian was Unitarianism - which seemed, initially, just like Protestant Christianity (from which it evolved) and involving the same personnel - but denying the divinity of Jesus. It was not completely clear at first, because the earliest Unitarians included people who seemed sincere and devout and well behaved - and were clever enough with words to seem to be able to explain that they still were Christians...

Denying the divinity of Christ would seem to be a clearly non-Christian belief anyway (although many Anglican Bishops and theologians would perhaps disagree) - but if the fact was not at first obvious, it soon became obvious by trajectory into apostasy of many well known Unitarians (such as Ralph Waldo Emerson) and of the Unitarian church itself - and this just increased with every decade.

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An example of the opposite situation is the Monophysite controversy which tore apart early Christendom.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/the-significance-or-non-significance-of.html


This vicious heresy war was concerning what - in retrospect - was a mere philosophical quibble: a distinction without a difference. We know this for sure because the  Monophysite church has continued for more than 1000 years to be self-professing and sincere Christians - who have show no tendency to collapse into apostasy.

The people who regarded Monophysites as non-Christians turned out to be just plain wrong.

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The same applies to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, although the difference from preceding Christianity was much larger.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/whats-wrong-with-christian-heresies.html

Mormons have always professed to be Christian, and shown all the signs of being sincere and devout in this profession.

Initially, it was understandable that mainstream Christians might regard Mormons as non-Christian, and this belief was assisted by the truly epic scale of mass media misrepresentation and just-plain-lying concerning their reporting of the early polygamous phase of Mormonism and of life in Utah.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/old-books-about-mormons-more-anti.html

But over the space of 184 years the CJCLDS shown no trend towards sliding into apostasy - therefore, according to the criteria I have outlined, and from any charitable perspective: Mormons, like Monophysites, just are Christians.

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Are Mormons Christians? Yes, of course! - or else, most Catholics and Protestants are not Christians either...

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What I find most ominous about the way that so many mainstream Christians reject the Christian status of the CJCLDS / Mormon church - is that the grounds on which they do so would also reject the vast majority of past and present members of their own Catholic and Protestant denominations.

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In practice, many mainstream Christian intellectuals regard philosophical doctrines as more important than Christianity; in the sense that they cannot believe that anyone who rejects their philosophical doctrines can really be a Christian.

This formally entails that their understanding of Christianity is contained-within the philosophical doctrines of Catholic or Protestant theology; or those bits of Catholic and Protestant theology which overlap.

To put it crudely, they put philosophy first, and fit Christianity inside it; and assert that anything outside the philosophy cannot be Christian

What does this mean for the mass majority of Catholic and Protestant children, simple people, and others who either cannot understand these philosophical doctrines, or cannot hold them in mind, or in actual fact believe in a God the Father and Jesus Christ who have (to all intents and purpose) exactly the same nature as is understood by Mormons?

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This must, indeed, be the case - because ordinary simple people simply cannot comprehend what it means to create from nothing, or to have a disembodied God who is located everywhere, or to have a Holy Trinity which both is three and one simultaneously - what is actually in their heads is pretty much what Mormons have as their 'official' doctrine.

Now either these Catholics and Protestants who actually believe in the Mormon God and Jesus are not really Catholics or Protestants; or else we regard being Catholic or Protestant as being merely a submission to a structure of authority and passive assent to a set of un-comprehended verbal forms.

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This is a terribly hazardous situation - not for the LDS, which is doing fine, and indeed is perhaps more devout than at any time in its history - but hazardous for Catholic and Protestant Intellectual Christians; because the temptation is to misrepresent Mormon beliefs - in order to be able to deny that Protestants and Catholics actually hold them - is hard to resist, and is clearly seldom resisted. 

The misrepresentation of Mormonism ranges from an ignorance which is understandable, yet is proud, wilful and refuses correction; through to an ignorance which is based upon pervasive bias; to a deliberate focus upon decontextualized peripheral aspects of Mormonism (pulled-out and held-up for ridicule as obviously crazy) while ignoring the core of actual Mormon beliefs and practices as they are lived; to plain and straightforward lying about Mormons (dishonestly rationalized by the desired-for end - of destroying the LDS church - justifying the means); to what I can only regard as a near-psychotic craziness on the topic of Mormonism which refuses to see the plain and obvious present day known realities, and instead focuses on the open-ended realms of the hidden and unknown, the arcane, the potentially possible, supposed analogies with other religions, and whatever evils attributed to Mormons (someplace at some time) that cannot conclusively be disproved.

(And, as always in human affairs, there are those Christians who are simply looking for an excuse to indulge in the exhilarating emotion of unrestrained hatred; in which case, unless this pleasure-in-hatred is repented, they may not remain Christians for very long.)

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Now - of course I do not expect that either Protestants or Catholics ever could or would accept Mormon theology - it is profoundly different, profoundly in the accurate sense of different way back at the level of metaphysical assumptions.

Also there are additions to Mormonism compared with Catholic and Protestant beliefs. But then there are additions (loads of them, and very profound ones!) in Catholicism as compared with Protestantism; and in many forms of Protestantism in actual practice - which incorporate magic, animism. Indeed, in general, since Protestantism lacks a central authority - and many forms have a very local form of organization, there are almost as many types of Protestantism as there are churches, home groups or individual worshippers. Who knows what additions, combinations, or new emphases these may have?  

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And I accept that there is evidence on both sides of Mormon claims. Certainly the evidence is not overwhelming. There is some good evidence that the LDS church is true (in the sense of essentially what it claims to be), and also some good evidence that it is not true: the evidence is in some kind of balance. In other words, the evidence either way is not decisive. The choice between the possibilities is a choice, the decision is not-compelled, and the choice must be made by each person.

Furthermore, the way that Mormonism was set-up, and the highly specific and concrete nature of its claims, leaves very little 'wriggle room'. This means that there are only two informed coherent attitudes to the CJCLDS - that it is true or it is a fraud: a deliberate deception by the founders and sustainers.

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So, the crux is that for Mormon unbelievers the choice is between on the one hand regarding the religion as a benign fraud - and on the other hand, regarding Mormonism as a fraud that is covertly malicious (since there is so little/ zero evidence of overt wickedness).

Nonetheless, if we are both honest and informed, it must be acknowledged that precisely this situation exists between all Christian denominations - that either someone else's denomination is true or a fraud; and that any Christian faith which comes from another denomination must be attributed to ignorance or accident.

However - this should never lead us to deny the reality of Christian belief in despite of what inevitably seems like organizational fraud, or doctrinal ignorance.

We must have a concept of Christianity which fully and at the highest level encompasses the faith of the the simple and the ignorant - and those of other Christian denominations who live by Christ, as best they may (which may be very well indeed, and far better than the intellectuals who profess to judge them on philosophical grounds).

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(I know that some will allow that individual Mormons may be Christian, but hold that the LDS church itself is not Christian. And they regard this as a problem because they believe that false theology will lead - sooner or later - to apostasy, and evil. Yet the apparent fact that this has not happened in the CJCLDS must either challenge their belief, or encourage them to look hard for signs of apostasy and evil in the modern Mormon church - evidence that it is going-bad; and if you look hard enough, you will of course find what you seek. Also, it is obvious that 'true' belief in a church does not prevent apostasy, or error or corruption. Thus the relationship between philosophy/ theological detail/highly specific official doctrine on the one hand - and on the other hand goodness and Christian faith is... well, at best extremely weak and probabilistic.)

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So, the status of being 'a Christian' must - and I really mean must - be non-philosophical and extremely simple; or else we will do terrible damage both between denominations, and also within denominations.

Therefore, the specific example of Protestant and Catholic attitudes to Mormonism leads us to a very important general topic that transcends the specific question of the CJCLDS - i.e. the definition of being 'a Christian', as contrasted with the definition of any particular Christian denomination.

I contend that the apparent desire to enforce a definition of Christian which includes both Catholic (Eastern and Western) and Protestants, yet excludes Mormons, will lead to falsity and wickedness - will indeed stoke hatred within-denominations and between sincere self-identified Christians; and will, in short, play-into the hands of the Enemy.

Because, a definition of 'Christian' which includes Protestants and Catholics yet excludes Mormons, will also and inevitably exclude most of the simple, the ignorant, the isolated, and the children among Protestants and Catholics.



Thus I would expect that honest and informed Protestants and Catholics would accept that it is possible for Mormons to be Christians (and good Christians) despite the philosophical/ metaphysical differences.

And if they do NOT accept this, then they need to agree that if Mormons are not Christians due to (for example) their supposed misunderstanding of the nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity - then the clear implication is that many and probably most Catholics and Protestants throughout history have not been Christians for exactly that same reason.

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A brief and preliminary review of The Son also Rises by Gregory Clark

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Gregory Clark. The son also rises: surnames and the history of social mobility. Princeton University Press, 2014.

In one word: disappointing.

In one sense this was inevitable, given that I regarded Clark's previous book (A Farewell to Alms - FtA) as a work of genius. Nonetheless, The Son also Rises (SaR) is disappointing in a disappointing way.

Whereas the facts and figures of FtA were structured by an underlying clear, explicit, comprehensible theoretical underpinning; the SaR reads like a compendium of new data - as-if a linked collection of papers. It includes a lot of empirical analysis - but the theoretical and explanatory basis seems either over-complex or muddled.

Also, the 'normative' or ethical concern over the good-ness or bad-ness of social mobility is intrusive and distracting - indeed, I regard this normative/ethical prominence as the main reason for the unclarity of the books theoretic basis.

Of course there is a lot of very interesting piecemeal data and analysis, evidence of a lot of hard work and thinking; but in the end the SaR is less than the sum of its parts.

What do I take-away from the SaR, so far (given that there are some of the inner sections I have not yet read - and may never read)?

Well, what I take-away from this book is that the whole topic of 'social mobility' is a stupid subject, a pseudo-discourse, a false frame for analysis, and (most of all) a fake ethical principle.

Therefore, given the astonishing abilities of Gregory Clark - a man who operates at an intellectual level far above my own - what I want is for him to try again with this mass of data.

What I would most like to see is that Clark set aside the whole 'social mobility' garbage - and instead present an honest, clear and explicit causal analysis, based upon a sufficiently simple and lucid and coherent theoretical basis.

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