Wednesday, 25 April 2018

An overview of what is wrong, here and now...

From William Wildblood - over at Albion Awakening.

A snippet:

At one time, I thought of writing a book on the deviations of modernity but lost interest as the whole thing would just have been one long round of negativity.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised I would have ended up including practically everything about the world today in my analysis of what was wrong with it. Its art, its politics, its science, its philosophy, its culture, its education and even its religion. 

For nowadays each one of these serves to sidetrack man from his true mission of self-knowledge. None of them really helps to align him with it. Each one is, to some degree, destructive of truth. Most of them are based on lies and reduce humanity to a spiritually shrunken version of itself.

The prospect was too unpleasant to contemplate. I didn't want to appear, even to myself, a miserable moaner with nothing good to say about anything.

That having been said, the negativity is not in me but in the world as it is today and though a book is too much for me to do, a post on this blog will make the point just as well....

Read the whole thing...

Denying pre-mortal spirit existence seriously weakened Christianity

I believe that we, all of us, existed as pre-mortal spirits; and that we chose to be incarnated into this mortal life (from which we will be resurrected). This doctrine, I got from Mormonism, where it is a key part of the revelations from Joseph Smith; but I believe it because of direct intuitive experience...  because I 'remember' that it was so.

(That is the proper - although not sole - reason for believing any key Christian doctrine; indeed until one has such a personal revelatory conviction, any belief tends to be 'just a theory', and thereby feeble or fear-based.)

However, as Terryl Givens makes clear in his scholarly book When Souls Had Wings (OUP 2009) - this idea of pre-mortal existence is Biblical, and was a belief of several of the early church Fathers, before it was 'oulawed' as heretical by later church councils.

Nonetheless, the belief in a pre-mortal spirit existence has remained a minority thread within Christianity throughout its entire history - and could perhaps be regarded as heterodox rather than heretical.

Anyway, having understood and assented to the reality of pre-mortal life; I have come to realise how much mainstream Christianity lost by excluding it and instead insisting that our souls were each created from nothing sometime between conception and birth.

For a start, the exact point at which the newly-created soul is joined with the body seems important, yet all arguments I have seen on the topic seem unconvincing, arbitrary.

Secondly, when the soul is newly-created from nothing, then there is no possibility of our having agreed to incarnation - leading to the 'I didn't ask to be born' notion, so common in modernity. People understand themselves to have been 'thrown-into' the world. Whereas I believe that we did ask to be born - each of us, individually; we were offered the possibility, and each of us actively chose it. Those who did not so choose, remained as pre-mortal spirits.

Because the baseline assumption of mainstream Christianity is that we were incarnated without consent, this creates a big problem when someone has a life of extreme suffering - because it seems that God has forced that soul to endure extreme suffering, like-it-or-not...

This problem is compounded by the common mainstream Christian assumption that damnation and eternal suffering in Hell is the default outcome of mortal life; and that it is very difficult to avoid this outcome, so that (probably) most people/ nearly everybody ends-up in Hell. Such a nightmare scenario is, to say the least of it, hard to reconcile with God as our loving Heavenly Father... It seems more like an act of gratuitous cruelty, only somewhat ameliorated by the slim chance of eternal happiness.

In other words, under the standard scenario, it is statistically better never to have been born. Yet we are born. ...Which apparently refutes the Christian description of the loving nature of God.

However, if we acknowledge and believe (and know) that we were pre-mortal spirits who freely chose incarnate mortal life en route to resurrected eternal life; then this life can quite simply be made sense of in terms of its being the necessary step of obtaining a mortal body, which can via death become an eternal body; and as a finite period of experience and learning through-which 'theosis' we may (if we choose well) become more-divine in our natures, leading-into in our eternal post-mortal life.

This scenario has a further indirect implication, which is that we would not have been likely to choose our own incarnated mortality unless there was a reasonable chance of avoiding permanent damnation into Hell. It therefore fits with the idea (which I believe to be scriptural) that salvation is a gift (from Jesus) which we must actively reject in order to be self-consigned to a chosen Hell of eternal suffering.

(This is part of the Mormon model of post-mortal life being, for nearly everybody, a matter of levels of 'Heaven'; of essentially pleasing places, with grades from a materialist paradise at the lowest level; to a highest level including close friendship with our brother Jesus, partnership with God our Father, permanent celestial marriage, and participation in the primary work of divine creation... Hell being a reality of eternal suffering chosen by the deliberately unrepentant (prideful) and calculating (Good-hating) sinner: the conscious rejecter of Heaven.) 

In sum (and I could say more) it seems to me that the doctrine of pre-mortal spirit life is something close to an essential for a coherent Christian faith if it is to provide a scenario of mortal life that is consistent with our knowledge of God as our loving Heavenly Father who made this world and this life for the  benefit of all his children.

I would therefore urge all Christians who do not already have a conviction of pre-mortal life, to consider this matter with seriousness, and diligently to seek personal revelation on the topic.

Understanding where you, personally, came-from is (or should be) experiential

Belief means something like truth and faith, and that means something like what a loving child of loving parents feels about them - So... belief in Jesus is that Jesus can, and will, lead us to life eternal...

But life eternal instead of what? Eternal is not being contrasted with temporary, as probably most moderns would assume. Life eternal is about the fullest possible form of life - and it being contrasted with a mere and partial survival of the soul-with-body after death.

But why by belief in Jesus? Because it was necessary; it was the only way it could happen.

(Without Jesus - this mortal life on earth would not be worth having - as many people have intuited.)

You need to understand for yourself, and one neglected aspect means to understand for yourself where we came from (as our selves, as the ultimate 'I') - that is, where we (personally) originated...

Not just as a theory, but understand as an intuitive experience.

We therefore need to remember.

Have you ever tried, seriously, to remember your origins? Not much could be more important than doing-so...

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The divine nature is concerned primarily with love and creativity; not with holiness

In the following excerpt edited from an essay in The Great Gift by William Arkle, the author explores the qualities that God most hope for us to display in our mortal lives:

God doesn't want holy and righteous and over-good beings to share his life with him. He wants these qualities in their proper proportion but only as secondary natures to the Divine nature itself, which is loving and caring and ongoing and friendly and creative.

That is the thing which you and I care about in our friends and you and I care about in our children. We don't want them to be over good, over cautious, over holy; over avoiding making mistakes, in a hurry to earn some recognition of being a very good and saintly character.

Such behaviour would go against the sort of quality which we would look for in our children. These may be spin-offs from a proper development of our own children but they wouldn't be the primary objects we would look for in our children. The primary ones would be affectionate, wholehearted friendship.

You see that friendship to us, and I'm sure also to our Creator, is more important than our ability to avoid making mistakes.

As soon as we make a mistake we become, so to speak, unholy, unsaintly, unrighteous and not good. But in correcting those mistakes we gain understanding, and when we have truly gained a lot of understanding we become wise, and when we become wise we realise that wisdom is far greater than holiness or goodness or righteousness as we understand those things.

For wisdom is the highest expression of love in action and from it such qualities as holiness, and righteousness and goodness are spin-offs. They are not the primary objective of wisdom. The primary objective of wisdom is to be itself - wisely to he its loving creative nature. Wisely, that means to the best advantage of all its friends and all the situations that it is aware of.

If we take a narrow view of the Creator's purpose for us, it might be the attainment of the ability to stay in a heavenly world that He created for us somewhere. To do that, the sooner we become holy and good and free of any sort of mistake the better.

But if we do that, then we are surely going to limit our ability to learn; to learn to understand who we are, to learn to understand all the qualities that are available for us to understand, because we will limit the mistakes that we are going to make and, therefore, we will limit the understanding that comes to us through the correcting of those mistakes...

Edited from the essay "The Resolution of Grief" from The Great Gift, by William Arkle

Why do people care so much about religion?

Because they Do.

Naturally, people care more about religion than any other 'big idea' - more than about politics, nations... and certainly more than about their own comfort, convenience, peace and prosperity.


But it is probable that the reader finds this an incredible, perhaps ridiculous, idea. Probable that he looks within himself and observes: "Well, I don't care much or anything about religion!"

That may well be true. Because this blog is read mostly in the West, in developed nations, among the intellectual or leadership class - and this class of people (including you, me...) are mentally sick.

They (we) are insane - as can be seen from their behaviour; which is not just passively indifferent to the primary realities of life (marriage, family - as well as religion); and passively doing nothing to sustain the living conditions they supposedly value (for example science, technology, education, law have all been allowed to become destroyed, utterly, by politics) -- but they are also strategically destroying themselves and their living conditions by multiple active means...

(I mean: Politically correct leftist policies of many types from socialism, multi-culti, diversity, antiracism, and the sexual revolution; through mass im/ migration, through the global warming fraud, to deliberate incitement of civil and international conflict by systematic propaganda of resentment, entitlement, fear...)

In fact - religion is the One And Only Big Idea that people naturally, spontaneously care about.

Delete religion (or alternatively corrupt, subvert and invert it) and the result is simple demotivation and despair - alleviated by self-distraction, aimed-at suicide.

Our culture has deleted religion. Modern political 'substitutes' simply don't work - because nobody really cares about politics.

They just don't - politics is almost-entirely a mixture of covert selfishness, idle gossip and projection; which are insufficiently strong motivators - and insofar as politics is a real motivator it is feeble, unstable, subjective - useless for the heavy-stuff of living.


Why do people care so much about religion?

Why wouldn't they? Because religion is real (albeit distorted fragments of reality); and religion is about truth, life, consciousness - the fundamental assumption - and these are necessary.

And nothing else except religion even tries to provide them.

Of course there has been frequent, massive and hostile disagreements about religion in the past... but never the idea that religion didn't matter.

Never that religion was purely subjective.

Never the idea that religion could simply be deleted from Man and Society, and this deletion would actually improve Man and Society!...

That's just crazy. As religious people can see all around.

It amounts to the cardinal sign of insanity - lack of insight... The non religious are so crazy that they cannot perceive the fact - it's the one fact they cannot perceive; despite the chaos in their minds and the chaos all around.

So crazy that each individual supposes he is the only sane thing in a mad universe...

And the escape begins with recognising that fact. 

Monday, 23 April 2018

Modern Christians should Not, as a rule, answer direct and simple questions about their faith (Instead, request prior explanation and/ or disengage)

According to what I have heard (eg. in relation to our duty to evangelise for the faith) Christians are generally supposed-to be ready to answer any questions by anybody at any time...

I disagree.

For this to be a sensible thing, we Christians need to be reasonably confident that we understand the assumptions behind the question in the same way as does the questioner. But - in the modern Western nations, here and now - most questions about Christianity are not merely based on ignorance, but on falsehood and misrepresentation.

So if somebody asks Are you a Christian? we cannot, and should not, assume that the questioner understands, even at a basic level, what 'Christian' means, or what 'being a Christian' entails.

Therefore, if you simply answer: Yes!; then you have very little idea what that answer means to a typical modern person, except that it almost-certainly does not mean the same to the questioner as it does to the answerer.

You have, in fact, probably thrown-away the opportunity for genuine evangelisation.

Typically, the average modern person will be asking a 'heads I win, tails you lose' question; and will simply have their prejudices reinforced by a Christian returning a simple answer to a simple question. This is counter-productive. 

If not, then what?

When trapped by another's assumptions, we simply-must make clear that our own assumptions are different - that is far more important than a confident, snappy riposte.

Modern Christians have been locked-into a category by mainstream social and professional discourse - therefore we cannot participate in such discourse. We must disrupt that discourse by our response; we must Not simply tick the box or follow the flow-chart...

This Does Not Work.

(Nor is it truly honest.) 

What we should do is quite simple - and that is to ask back what that particular person means by their question; and only when we are satisfied that we understand what assumptions lie behind the question, will we answer it.

Something along the lines of "I am happy to answer your questions, but I need to understand more clearly what you are asking me by Are you a Christian, Do you believe in God, Do you believe in life after death, Do you believe in miracles...

Doing this need not take long, a few sentences will suffice assuming that the questioner is sincere. And if the questioner is not sincere, then that fact should come out pretty quickly too; then we can disengage.

Because the above is what Jesus himself often does in the gospels!

When he is asked the wrong question, or the question is a trap, or he gets asked the same question more than once, or people show that they will not believe him whatever he says - then Jesus disengages - he explains what is happening, or moves away, or says nothing...

In your face and unasked-for impersonal preaching, pat answers, prepared answers, standard answers... all these are now useless to evangelists; since modern culture has pre-immunised the population against them - and they are exactly what fulfils the negative stereotypes. 

What exactly to do depends on the specific person and the specific circumstances - and if these can be judged well and we answer honestly according to how we understand things here and now and as prompted by intuition and the Holy Ghost... well, then we might actually do some Good.

The incoherence of the 'racism' concept

Racism is one of the most tired and tendentious of all themes; but William Wildblood has some fresh and wise things to say on the matter.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Introducing Stephen Hayes - a modern English eccentric, Christian, writer, apple-grower...

Over at Albion Awakening, I introduce Stephen F Hayes; who has been enthusiastically pursuing several important and inspiring lines of work (theoretical and practical) for quite a while, while I remained oblivious of the fact.

Such 'discoveries' are a great treat for me - especially when the people are English, since there aren't many such characteristic individuals still active in my homeland.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Depth of character, strength and integrity; leathery, craggy, strong, warrior-like toughness and individual responsiveness: the kind of wisdom that God most values

William Arkle, a self-portrait done as a young man - and depicting something of the 'warrior like toughness' he valued...

I have extracted and edited the following passage from an essay entitled Wisdom in William Arkle's The Great Gift, of 1977. In this section Arkle explains why this world is well-designed to develop those 'tough' qualities in us that are necessary to our becoming fully grown-up individuals. 

So, although God could have made this world a kind of paradise; that would not have given us the possibility of becoming godlike ourselves - we could have remained 'angelic' servants, passively dwelling in permanent happiness, but could not have become sons and daughters of God, ultimately co-workers in the unfolding of creation.  

Great strength and a great wisdom and a great love cannot arise if an individual has not passed through the gate into the world of knowledge of good and evil. It is only on the other side of that gate that great strength will be required to recover from mistakes, and it's only on the other side of that gate that great mistakes will be made and great understanding developed in order to recover from those mistakes.

So we can see that the great wisdom of God is shown in him not interfering with the processes of life in order to 'tidy them up', do away with disharmony, abolish those crosscurrents of life that help stir the pot of experience and produce a rich soup of opposing currents, values, desires and attitudes.

Yet, at the same time, Wisdom is certainly not indifferent to suffering; and the fact that lived experiences produce a stumbling and a faltering, and that mankind has at times to be rescued and brought back to a reasonable level of buoyancy again from which further movements and further experiments can be made.

Wisdom is always on the lookout for a situation which has gone too far, and become so negative that nothing of value can arise from the situation anymore.

Then wisdom will try and suggest to an individual who is stuck in such a situation that there is a way out which that individual hasn't yet seen. Thus although our Wise God will stand back and allow people to make mistakes; he will also rescue people from mistakes when those individuals cannot rescue themselves.

We can see that Wisdom is a very deep awareness which is continually balancing-out all the processes engaged in building deeper and deeper characteristics into the individuality which exists in each of the divine children of the Creator.

Wisdom is encouraging each of us divine children to grow into a level beyond childhood, a level which is more mature than childhood, a level of growth in which divine friendship can occur between each of us and our Creator.

Wisdom will forever be observing the balance occurring in experience, particularly at a physical level, in order that this absolute value can be extracted and made use of in every situation.

So that wisdom is not so much engaged in 'easing the burden of life', as it is engaged in the harvesting of the fruits of the burdens of life.

Wisdom develops an ability to see that the harvest in life is not at the level of ease, happiness, bliss and joy... but instead exists in a level of 'beingness' in our nature which is at a very deep level of strength, integrity and selfhood.

So we are saying that the deep wisdom which exists in the Creator's nature, and which we can learn to understand, is a deep wisdom which values not only the individual who is a friend to each other individual, but values the depth of character and strength and integrity, the leathery, craggy, strong, warrior-like toughness and individual responsiveness that each individual can develop in their own right.

And Wisdom recognises that individuality which doesn't have this strength, and doesn't have deep experience, is less valuable.

Although all the divine qualities of heaven are something we must have an experience of, at least a taste of, Wisdom recognises that, these 'tough qualities' need to be understood and lived at this outermost physical level of the universe. they must be appreciated in terms of their opposites.

Wisdom recognises that there are three things that we need to achieve.

Firstly, our unique separate being-ness.

Secondly, the objective understanding of values, which produces the ability to understand the real quality and value of all things.

Thirdly, we must achieve that strength and integrity necessary to support both the being and the understanding.

It is here on earth, as it is; that these experiences have been made available for us, and to a degree which they may not be available for us in any other possible form of experience.

From Wisdom, in The Great Gift - by William Arkle (1977)

Friday, 20 April 2018

Joining gangs

It is a temptation to want to join a gang - and it is a temptation felt by Christians as much as anybody. Some gangs of the past were good, overall (e.g. some churches at some times and in some places; some guilds, some professions...).

But the time has come when all the main gangs are bad.

We still feel the urge to join a gang, usually because we are more afraid than ever (whether for ourselves, or our loved ones) - yet any gang we might join that has the power to protect us will actually make us worse, will make us more afraid (of the gang itself); and will not protect us: in this world our loyalty will count for precisely nothing.

This is the existential crisis of this era - the end of all gangs.

We are being forced into a stark choice; and maybe that is no accident.

Different objectives of Eastern and Western religions

In this excerpt from William Arkle's essay Reality (from The Great Gift, 1977) he discusses the difference between the Christian idea of an eternal life that retains our ultimate self-hood; and the 'Eastern' objective of annihilating the self (which is seen as an illusion).

This corresponds to the Christian idea of God as 'outside'/ separate from/ not-identical-with his creation; as contrasted with the Eastern idea of God and creation being an ultimate unity and including ourselves.

Arkle argues that our loving God probably allows people to attain to the Eastern state ('Nirvana') if that is what they genuinely yearn for. But, he regards God as wanting us to become gods - deified selves; and having created reality with that aim.

Within your universe of values you have to discover and find for yourself this more essential and more valuable level, and to learn to separate it out from the less essential and less valuable level, which is your outer personality self fulfilling its needs. The inner, spiritual, essential self is working to fulfil its higher needs, but often it is being prevented from doing that by the activity of the outer personality self, which is grabbing all the attention in order to fulfil its own level of needs. Maslow spoke very clearly about this situation, so if you’ve had the chance to read Maslow’s books you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Now that is your reality; you can’t get out of that, unless perhaps it’s possible to destroy your own ego. I think what some Eastern religions, some forms of Buddhism, do is to take away the separate stance of the ego, which is one of the gifts which the Creator has given to us, and it unifies its own reality with the greater reality, not in the form of becoming a friend of that reality, but in terms of neutralising its own ability to be separate.

This attitude combines its attention and energies with the attention and energies of the bigger system of creation, which we could call the system of the Supreme Being, and, in this way, it seems to destroy its own separate existence and become a part of the Creator’s existence, but I don’t believe this is what the Creator wishes of us, or wishes for us, and if you believe in a system rather than a Creator, I don’t believe it’s the best way of making use of the system.

In the deeply religious sense, I believe that the Creator stands outside the system, and we can have an understanding of his Being in that way. We can make friends with him in that way if our own reality remains a strong and separate reality while we are becoming aware of the nature of that Being we call Creator.

I think it’s also possible to become a part of the energies which are the most ethereal level of creation, and this would be a sensation of continuing bliss, if you like. One would then bask in the rays of the Creator’s creative intention, just like a physical person would enjoy standing under a warm shower, and one could lose one’s reality in that way, in the enjoyment of standing under that warm shower and enjoying its warmth and its activity, and letting go of every other form of reality, every other form of responsibility, every other form of identification.

In that way, one returns to the womb of one’s being, but I don’t think one has actualised or accomplished the purpose of the potentiality which has been given to our being. But on a smaller scale, we have to deal with the overcoming of the outpost of the substitute personality ego if we want to become established in our proper essential higher reality; which is to say, our own essential divine being.

In order to achieve the awareness and the ability to be with our true self, to be according to our true self, to respond with the nature of our true self, we have to learn to eliminate the activity of the outer self, which has taken over the activity of living from our bigger, whole self. But this is a difficult thing to do, and everyone who is trying to do it will tell you the same thing – that it is a difficult thing to do.

How long it will take is not in anybody’s ability to say, because everybody does it in a different way, and takes a different time to do it.

Excerpted from the essay 'Reality', from The Great Gift, 1977.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Creativity and the family

Note: Perhaps William Arkle's greatest contribution to my Christian faith has been in the area of divine purpose, which is the subject of this essay

By understanding (through direct intuitive knowing) something of God's nature, purpose, and love - or, by hearing suggestions of such matters, and testing them ourselves by prayer and meditation - we are given The Key to this world. 

Another Key is the family; which (in its ideal form, readily extrapolated from our own experiences and yearnings) is a microcosm of the whole of reality. 

Here, then, is an except from the Divine Purpose essay by William Arkle: 

We realise that there are people who are able to conceive of this manifest universe as an outgrowth from some haphazard life which is fumbling its way by accidents from one thing to another. I cannot sustain such a theory since I am aware that the organisation of matter has to reach an extremely high degree indeed before life can even begin a fumbling of any sort. Our time and attention is too valuable to remain in, what are for me, such unproductive fields. We must observe all things, but not limit them to the tangible and the 'scientific', particularly when we realise that our own consciousness is neither tangible nor 'scientific'.

My observations lead me to a purposeful God, a living responsive creative source, whose motives we may begin to discover in the way of our own nature and environment are formulated. Many of these qualities have become so clear to me that I would like to bring them to your notice in a direct manner. To you, my propositions may well be faulty and insubstantial, but I will endeavour to place them before you in an order which seems to me to have some relevance.

Let me start with a simple thing. You will have noticed that those people among us whom we sense to have gone furthest in the development and expression of their nature have shown clearly that they attach greater importance to qualitative matters than quantitative ones. (By this I mean that they can be seen to be concerned to do one thing really well rather than many things less well. They are people who for instance, would rather write one good book than several indifferent ones, who would choose one deeply valuable friendship rather than many semi-friendships.)

They are also concerned to be strong, but not powerful, concerned to add value to life and other people, never to take it away. They try to fulfil themselves in such a manner that they also fulfil others. They appear to gain as much satisfaction from the quality of experience they can afford to others as they gain for themselves. They seem to share their life with others while at the same time drawing out the possibilities of those others. In a word they endeavour to make all things freshly 'new' and thus non-repetitive.

If we call this manifest universe creation, then these people want to be creative within it. They would appear to be the ones who achieve real friendship and who also add creatively to the life about them. They see the value in their creative living in terms of adding to the significance of life, but not in any form of cleverness which may well detract from the significance of life. So they do not seek to be important, yet they have a clear-cut hierarchy of values which would enable them to recognise the best things in people and the best people among things.

Such individuals, if they do influence people profoundly, take care not to do it through any form of power which over-rides the individual wishes of those people, for, more than any others, they value the uniqueness and autonomy of individuals. Every individual is valued as another unique polarity of life with whom an endless variety of expressions is possible. The loss of any individuality is an absolute loss to all living potential, and the diminishment of any individual (in respect of the deepest level of that person’s being) the greatest of tragedies.

Now I have been making this point because what I want to observe are principles which I feel can take us a long way into the understanding of the creative impulse. If we, out of our experience, follow human nature up to its highest expression we get well into the nature we expect belongs to that of the spring of creation. If we then combine with this the situation of the family group, we already have a good motive and a good method of achieving that motive.

The workings of the family group can be observed closely by us, and can be seen to be an excellent way of developing the potentiality of an individual in such a way that the child takes on the reality of its separate existence in a gradual way, and then is encouraged to stand alone.

In the proper family relationship the child is instinctively aware that the ties of childhood must be broken and then, ideally, replaced with an entirely voluntary friendship. I say ideally because it is quite rare for the full cycle of the family to be fulfilled, for this requires a number of mature attitudes which do not often arise. The parents have to be wise, and the child has to be wise, and so too few children succeed in becoming real friends with their parents, certainly in the deep sense of their true being.

I observe that the friendship of true being can arise in our world, but I also notice that so few people are able to demonstrate the characteristics of true being, that it does not arise very often. I must then say that the true friendship of true being is a rare phenomenon and we have much to learn about the nature of this relationship.

From The Great Gift, by William Arkle (1977). 

Why are the global elites getting so crazy-careless? - Are they afraid of something looming?

Maybe - as I argue here; but either way, it does provide more favourable conditions for a mass spiritual awakening: a real Christian revival.

Why The Owl Service is best: Ressentiment and Alan Garner

Alan Garner has often claimed to be motivated, as a writer, by anger - which he present as a righteous anger on behalf of others. But the sad reality is that he is all-too-often motivated by ressentiment: Nietzsche's term for a selfish, brooding, envy and spite - resentment, a kind of pride.

My conviction is that Garner began, all-but free of resentment - so in the first two books (Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Moon of Gomrath) it is absent. But it makes an appearance in Elidor as class consciousness - and, for me, significantly mars that book.

But with The Owl Service, which was written next - and perhaps because it is set in Wales rather than Garner's native Cheshire, giving distance - the ressentiment is taken-up into the story; and is overcome triumphantly in one of the best endings of any book, ever.

Consequently, the Owl Service is the summit of Garner's achievement - a 'perfect' (ie. unimproveable) book for older children to set alongside the greatest in that genre.

With Red Shift, the ressentiment returns in force, with endless brooding-on, depiction-of, the problems of a working class intellectual (i.e. Garner himself, or how he sees himself). And the pretentiousness of writing style (belated late modernism - of the Ezra Pound, Basil Bunting type) becomes solidified and inescapable.

His last novel, Boneland, ends with a categorical repudiation (to me, a betrayal) of the vision of his early novels - consigning them to a psychotherapeutic pseudo-reality.

After all, in the end - Garner's great gifts and vision and dedication and honesty are all overwhelmed by his lack of spiritual development - by his spiritual degeneration through adulthood. Since the writing is constrained by the man; how could it be otherwise?

Nobody - through a long life - not the genius artist - not anybody; can escape the malign consequences of rejecting God, of setting oneself against God...

The problem of fuzzy thinking...

...Is a common one for me. Indeed, I seldom seem to have a really clear head, except in the mornings - and even then not always.

It is a difficulty in concentrating, at one level - a tendency for thoughts to drift passively. More insidiously, the thoughts don't properly connect-up - one thought does not arise from another in a linear sequence, but they hop around - sparking and fizzling and doing nothing useful.

And yet, although dependent on external stimulation, I feel cut off from it. Because when thoughts are merely being-triggered, and don't amount to anything sustained, then one is (pretty much) stuck inside the buzzing confusion of the mind.

Of course, some extreme event or disaster will summon the energies - but that is just another version of passivity...

What I want is for thought to come from me, from the real me - and for that thinking to obliterate the gap between myself and everything else.

When this desired situation arises (or is, somehow, induced) then there is a sense of omniscience... not of 'knowing everything' but that everything being-thought is real. Everything I think IS.

This is to participate in creation, working from my own small but distinctive corner of creation.

It's rare; but that is what I am supposed to be learning to do.


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

What is the greatest imaginable gift?

Excerpted from The Great Gift (1977), by William Arkle:

If we achieve the ability to observe clearly from the ground where this imagination is free and relatively unconditioned we can begin to ask ourselves the question, "What is the greatest and most valuable gift I would like to be given?"

We should take a long time to delve into our whole private universe to come-up with the best possible answer. I think that the answer we would find we arrived at would be that the greatest and most valuable thing we could ever wish for is 'Ourself'.

We would find, I believe, that, when we had become satiated with all the immediately beautiful and delightful things that our imagination first of all thinks it would like, such as 'the heavenly life' with all the attributes of peace, beauty, serenity, love and bliss, then, and only then, might we begin to realise that there was something we might learn to value even more.

This deeper value, I feel, would be based on our realisation that we were not able to use and develop our independent creative and responsible faculties in such a heaven.

Now these independent creative responsibilities require all our integrity and effort to function properly because, if we look at them, we will discover that there is only one thing which they want to be engaged in, and that is the discovery and expression of 'the impossibly beautiful and valuable thing'.

Our real independent spirit is not truly interested in doing the possible beautiful things, although it does them as a proper part of its natural and responsible behaviour. This spirit is more truthfully always preparing to take a deep breath and try to do some wonderful thing that it can only aspire to and cannot already achieve.

This is a fact which stems from the truth of our Being which reflects the nature and attitude of the Creator.

I shall now turn the tables and say that, if we next use our independent imagination and put ourselves in the place of the Creator, there is nothing we will be able to come-up-with as a more worthwhile thing to create than a means of bringing into existence some other real independent beings with whom we could enter into creative living as friends and sharers of one another’s experience.

And then we can look at what we consider the nature of friendship to be, and find out why it becomes such an important part of our experience.

We have a deep desire to share our independent imaginative and creative living with other independent beings.

To bring an impossibly beautiful thing within the scope of our expression is a very desirable achievement, but to be able to share the values of the achievement with other independent sources of appreciation and valuation, such as another person who is your friend, is even more desirable.

We feel that to get the greatest benefit from our creative endeavours we must share the fruits of the endeavour with others.

From the essay Creative Friendship.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

On 'being musical'

I am a fair bit above-average in my 'musicality' although I've never performed any instrument to a significant level: that is, I hear what is going-on in music, and it affects me quite powerfully.

This is a plus when it comes to the appreciation of good music, well-performed - but is, under normal circumstances, more of a curse.

For example, a powerful memory of childhood (still with power to alter my mood) is the leaden misery of attending church; mainly due to the miserable hymns, miserably performed.

Even as a young child, I only liked a few hymns, and I only liked these when they were performed well - by which I meant with sincerity and dedication...

To hear bad hymns, or to hear any kind of hymn drearily intoned at about half the proper tempo and with a further rallentando at the end of each verse, and with an indeterminate-number-of-beats gap between verses... To hear a sluggish and rasping church organ, or fluting and over-articulating boys choir...

All this for me this was not-merely not-enjoyable, but actively unpleasant: a kind of moment-by-moment torment.

Even nowadays - music is seldom 'background' for me; in the sense that when I dislike it, it makes me feel worse.

In sum, I find it all-but impossible to ignore music; and since there is a lot more bad music than good, and a lot more bad performance than good; this does considerable net-harm to my mood.

People who don't really appreciate music, people whom music does not-much affect, will find this pretentious or feeble-minded; but so far as I can tell it is hard-wired - and I am stuck with it.

And, quite likely, it is an impulse towards my greater than usual desire for solitude: by avoiding other people, I avoid their music and the almost-inevitable depressive effect that has on me.


Monday, 16 April 2018

Dreaming Sleep and Death/ Hades/ Sheol

It strikes me that dreaming sleep (of the usual, broadly nightmarish or bewildering kind) is often like the 'underworld' death as envisaged by the Ancient Greeks (Hades) and Ancient Hebrews (Sheol) - that is a 'demented', passive state of very partial awareness - with perplexity as the dominant emotion.

In sleep; life happens-to-us and we strive, and fail, to make sense of it, and to cope with it. Our minds are porous and connected with the dream environment - we are like the 'gibbering ghosts' of the underworld.

In dreams the environment affects our mind - and our mind affects the environment in a reciprocal causality. We are acted-upon rather than acting: there is no freedom in a dream...

The gift of Jesus is to be born-again, to waken from this unending nightmare - awaken to resurrected eternal life - that is by incarnation to be separate from the environment and act to act in free agency from it; to be alert and conscious and creative in relation to the environment rather than swept-along passively, uncomprehendingly, in perpetual bewilderment.

Dreaming sleep is a temporary death - although modern Man assumes that death is a non-being much like deep sleep: unconsciousness and oblivion, rather than the underworld, nightmare state of dreaming sleep. But by dreaming sleep, of the nightmarish/ bizarre/ confusing/ helpless kind... we can know what it is we are being rescued-from.

Jesus came to rescue Man from the inevitability of the underworld nightmare of death - by resurrection; and with the offer of a gift of life eternal, which is a creative state of divine being.

(But death is necessary: to be reborn we must die; and death is bitter vinegar, as well as purifying hyssop.)

Centrality of the Holy Ghost (i.e. Jesus)

We are born as children of God, thus have within-us that which is divine.

As such we can recognise, we can know the Holy Ghost - which is divine.

Indeed, the Holy Ghost is Jesus Christ himself, which he sent after his ascension; as is expedient for us because the Holy Ghost is universal; available to all Men.

To believe in Jesus is the same as to trust, have faith in, and to love the Holy Ghost. (And vice versa.)

This, everyone and anyone can do - no matter what their personal circumstances.

Because all have a divine self, and all have access to the Holy Ghost.

And this is to be 'A Christian'. A real Christian.

(Even if when you have never heard of Christ; even if/ when Jesus is misidentified or misunderstood explicitly...)

Because what Men say, what Men teach is contingent and cannot be 'controlled' (even if God wished to control it).

What is needed must - in contrast - be certain, universal, immune to Men's wishes or abilities, and the uncertainties of circumstances.

What is needed must not depend upon prior knowledge.

And what is needed must be sufficient (even if it is not optimal).

Obviously so: Jesus loves us and is the creator and sustainer of this world; and he would surely not have left us with anything less?

*Why* do we need to know that the people who run the world are evil?

Not, I hasten to add, in order that they might therefore be stopped... That is a different matter of probabilities and choices involving multiple 'other people' as well as God's plans.

The real reason is essentially twofold - first that we be not misled; and secondly that if our discernment cannot detect the ruling evil, then we are ourselves deficient.

I mean that when a person cannot detect evil when they encounter evil; then there is something seriously wrong with them. Often this wrongness is self-inflicted (people do detect evil - at first, but over-ride their own alarm systems, ignore the evil - and end-up denying evil, hence serving evil).

But if we do not recognise the evil of the powers of the world, then they will divert us away from God and from Jesus Christ. In a thousand and more ways; evil powers will consume our attention, effort and time in thinking/ feeling/ doing things that are not what we ought to be doing.

Yet, knowing the evil of the powers of this world is only a beginning. It does not make us right, of course.

But it is - for most people - impossible to function as we should function in this world (which is, after all, a world in which a single, vast, linked, totalitarian bureaucracy and social manipulation system penetrates everywhere and into all human affairs) unless we understand that the world is against us: that what the world wants for us is the opposite of what God wants for us (including that the world wants us to deny the reality of God).

This is the flipside of economic/ political/ legal globalisation and the vast expansion of the mass/ social media... In the past people didn't need to know much about the nature of powers of the world (which were local and limited in scope, anyway). Now we pretty much have-to.

It used to be possible to be 'neutral' about the motives of the Big Powers and Top People, or at least to ignore the issue... But now we can only choose between regarding them as overall-Good, or net-evil.

And upon that decision may hinge our eternal destiny.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Falling out-of-love with cricket...

My earliest blog (that wasn't merely a repository) was about cricket - it was called The Doosra, and was somewhat focused on the question of how this method of bowling was being attempted by a new breed of offspin bowlers.

I came late to an enjoyment of cricket - it was the summer of 1992, the 18th June, second day of the Lord's Test Match - and I was listening to Test Match Special on the car radio as I drove back to Glasgow in Scotland (where I then lived) from an overnight stay in Kircudbricht. I think the only reason I was listening is that - in this rather remote part of Scotland, Radio 4 Long Wave was the only accessible channel, and that was broadcasting cricket...

My original interest was to discover what 'leg spinner' meant; and this proved surprisingly difficult! But after that my interest in cricket grew rapidly, and was mostly focused on the craft of spin bowling.

(I can't do it myself; and never have been able to bowl or throw without shoulder pain - even as a kid; so the interest was purely theoretical. Indeed, I was permanently put off playing cricket as soon as we were compelled to use a hard leather ball instead of a tennis ball, from about aged 10 - due to repeated finger injuries. Yet the fact that in India and Pakistan (especially) they uses a duct-taped tennis ball for cricket up to semi-professional level doesn't seem to have impaired their prowess one whit.)

Anyway, my love of cricket became integrated with daily life - and (as for many people) reached its peak in the famous 2005 Ashes (i.e. England versus Australia) series; then had a second peak when England won the beat Australia-at-home in 2010-11. 

When T20 (20 overs per side) cricket was invented, I at first enjoyed it a lot; although I immediately saw that the bowlers should be allowed five overs maximum, each, instead of the current four, if the game was to retain the proper balance.

But domestic franchise T20 cricket (led by the Indian Premier League; IPL) became a vast money spinner, as a monochrome slugfest of about 8 runs per over or more; while 50 overs-per-side one day cricket and 5-day test match cricket have dwindled.

Currently I find the IPL unwatchable - a huge, dull, fake; and test matches duller and more depressing with each series; and am only really engaged by good 50 over cricket in the context of a five match competition or the World Cup...

For me the decisive moment was the year the Doosra was banned - 2015. (Especially the banning of the world's premier spinner - the immaculate Saed Ajmal.)  It was banned (rather than modifying the laws of cricket to accommodate this delightful innovation, as had happened often in the history of the game) essentially because the batters found it too hard to deal with when trying to hit sixes, and it limited the colossal run totals in T20...

Anyway, I have fallen out of love with cricket. The essence of cricket is personality; and the longer forms of the game provided unmatched opportunity to see personality unfold in a competitive context. Cricket really could be a microcosm of Life. But with its commercialisation and simplification, that has ceased to be the case - and cricket players in context of actual matches have become almost as dull as tennis players, swimmers and cyclists; and nearly as thuggish and graceless as footballers...

Plus, political correctness has, and it took a long time, finally penetrated and permeated the heart of cricket; destroying truthfulness and integrity, and making everything beautiful into a political/ bureaucratic attitude - as it always does...

I still watch in hopes - and there are still highlights (the England versus New Zealand series recently was good, far better than The Ashes - although the 'crowds' watching were tiny). But the fact is that the love has dwindled, the magic has all-but gone.