Friday, 6 March 2015

How to conceptualize civilizations?

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In the first place, civilizations are short lived things compared with Men. We Men are eternal entities, eternal stretching in both directions; but civilizations are finite, and sometimes very brief.

Nonetheless, they set a context for our mortal lives; so it is important to recognize that the analogy, the metaphor, the model by which we explain civilization sets constraints on how we understand them - and so some extent how we understand ourselves.

Most discussion of civilizations is quasi-scientific, often very quantitative: nowadays to do with statistics of one sort or another, in an earlier time, to do with histories of conquest and conquerings. Oswald Spengler rejected this for a biological, organismic model - history as analogy with growth, vitality, seeding, disease, senescence and extinction.

But this is also extremely limited; and indeed grossly insufficient in terms of how the soul yearns.

Another framework is to look at civilizations in terms of intellectual and/or artistic 'achievement' - viewed with a long-termist perspective: philosophy, architecture, fine art, science and technology, poetry and literature... Yet although this is superficially inspiring, it soon palls and drags us down; and we notice the disturbing mismatch between The Man and the Civilization on the one hand, and The Accomplishment on the other hand.

To dwell inside the aesthetic framework becomes a dismaying, demoralizing, and even an un-aesthetic experience - it leads with apparent inevitability to the poseur, the dilettante, the pundit and the art dealer rather than to the sage: the man of depth and wisdom.

As eternal beings we crave an understanding of civilizations which includes divine aspirations - a context of God's plans, or hopes; and our own.

Closer to what we want is to understand civilizations in terms of spiritual warfare, the fight between good and evil, obedience to God and rebellion against him. But of course, warfare is sub-optimal, warfare may be necessary - but it is not what we most hope for.

What we do most hope for is something creative (creative in a very general sense - a making of things that are good).

So, best (it seems to me) is to understand civilizations in terms of spiritual progression, in terms of the striving (and otherwise) of Man and Men for higher levels of divinity, for God-like-ness, of participation in the ultimate work of creation and creativity - of progress in this goal, and corruption away from this goal.

A salvation and theosis story.

Indeed, once this spiritual evolution/ devolution analogy has been noted and explored, all other analogies of civilization seem grossly and dangerously impoverished.

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Religion and the Rebel by Colin Wilson (1957) - an Outsider Mormon perspective

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I have just had a careful re-read of Colin Wilson's follow-up to The Outsider, Religion and the Rebel - and found it thoroughly worthwhile and stimulating.

Wilson self-consciously takes up the baton from Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West (1918) which is given a fairly extended analysis, supplemented by consideration of some other rather analogous 'big picture' historians such as Toynbee.

Wilson accepts the conviction, dating especially from the early twentieth century, that the West needs 'a new religion'. The perspective of 1957 therefore works on the assumption that Christianity has failed, in its mainstream aspects anyway. Events since have, of course, confirmed this - at least in a broad-brush socio-political sense.

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In Religion and the Rebel, Wilson gives biographical summaries and analytic interpretations of numerous representative figures from the existentialist tradition - some secular, but mostly Christian. These include mystics such as Boehme, Anglican monastic revivalists such as Farrer, Law and the early JH Newman - and the book culminates with the philosopher AN Whitehead who is regarded as the most important modern figure.

Wilson's other analytic frame is The Outsider - who is regarded as a type of socially-rejecting-social-reject proto-genius that is generated by end-phase civilization in an attempt to reverse the decline and revitalize the civilization. Most of the figures discussed fall into the Outsider category in some way - for instance, Wittgenstein is an Outsider having an Insider philosophy, while AN Whitehead is the opposite.

As often happens in my reading, I found myself broadly agreeing with the diagnosis, but not the prescription. In particular, I feel that 1956-ish was a time, perhaps the last time' when the Western civilization was 'meant' to re-evaluate and re-structure its goals and move into a new phase. This didn't happen, and we instead opted for 'more of the same' - and plunged into the still dominant and fluctuating combination of hedonic consumerist materialism with self-hating and self-destroying Leftism.

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What of the 'new religion'? How did that idea fare?

I was brought-up on this idea from the work of Bernard Shaw - which is given considerable emphasis in religion and the Rebel - Shaw's choice was Creative Evolution, as outlined in my favourite of his plays Man and Superman, and the later dull, clunky and unperformable Back to Methuselah. This idea was dead-in-the-water, in terms of being a socially-viable and effectively motivating religion, but distracted and stimulated a few people for a while - the philosopher CEM Joad and the mystical nature writer John Stewart Collis (both teenage favourites of mine) for example.

The New Age movement is the most obvious New Religion - but this has proven itself to be merely a semi-effective way of individual coping-with the consumerist materialism of modernity. New Age discourse is conducted in an eclectic, semi-serious tone of ironic detachment ('if it works for you...', take it or leave it) - and the really serious and motivating ideology in New Ageis secular Leftism; radical politics is the only subject that New Agers really get 'passionate' about. So New Age is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

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From my personal stance as a believer in Mormonism, what always strikes me about these overviews is that from 1830 there was a New Religion of exactly the kind that Colin Wilson hoped-for - that is, something Christian, real and motivating, that was also a fresh start, and which left-behind those aspects of Christian metaphysics and philosophy which seemed to have become ineffectual or counter-productive.

Of course, Mormonism was tiny in the years leading up to 1957, and even now the profoundly original and transformative metaphysical and philosophical aspects of Mormonism are hardly appreciated, even among Mormons - the 'new religion' is seen as (and in general functions as) a way of life, rather than an astonishingly transformative set of ideas.

But Mormonism pretty much has done, and does, what Bernard Shaw, Oswald Spengler and Colin Wilson wanted from a new religion. On the other hand, Mormonism stands at the furthest pole from the kind of bohemian existentialist life exemplified and practised by Colin Wilson in 1957.

Yet, in principle, there is no reason why there should not be existentialist bohemian intellectuals who regard those who practise Mormonism and who administer the LDS church as being an elite 'priesthood' who are regarded as an authoritative source of guidance.

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Accepting that not every Man can live the highest path, and that the path of an active Mormon is too strait and narrow ever to become universal, there is scope for a wider form of non-practising Mormonism - which humbly and explicitly accepts itself as a lower calling, but from this situation tries to be supportive of the higher calling, and tries to make the kind of contribution which is difficult for the high status people.

I am thinking of a situation much the same as lay Roman Catholics who accept that they are operating at a lower level than priests, and non-monastic Eastern Orthodox (including priests) who accept that they are operating at a lower level than ascetic monks.

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In terms of Wilson's terminology, I tend to regard Mormonism is the New Religion he hoped for - and a religion of socially-minded Insiders - because Mormonism has continued to grow and thrive as the West declined. However, it has not had a visible positive impact on Western civilisation in general - its benefits have been mostly restricted to Insiders.

But there is, I believe, also room for Outsider Mormons of one sort and another (inside the church and outside it too), who support the Insiders, and accept the reality and validity of the framework they provide.

It is Insiders - with their ability to organise and cooperate - who may change the world and save (some of) the West. But Outsiders may also be necessary - or at least useful. 

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Outsiders, by their nature, cannot themselves live inside the communal and disciplined structure of society, of the priesthood - yet, so long as they are loyal to the goals, Outsiders may legitimately aspire to make a positive (albeit rightly low status) religious contribution.

Organised Religion is substantially (but not entirely and not as its core) about social cohesion. Outsiders are those who live psychologically out-with social cohesion (being an outsider is primarily a state of mind: e.g. Wittgenstein mostly lived physically inside the walls of Trinity College, Cambridge); they are loners not joiners.

But loners need not undermine society, it is possible that loners are functionally (albeit intermittently) necessary to society - rather as the shaman or the hermit has apparently been necessary to past societies.

Indeed, Outsiders are by their nature and location in a position to do things that cannot necessarily be done by Insiders. And so Outsiders may perhaps turn-out to be necessary to Mormonism in the long run - and via Mormonism to The West - as they have seemed to be necessary to Philosophy, Literature, Art and Science.   

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Oswald Spengler on the causes of mutation accumulation, William D Hamilton on group selection

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/spengler-on-demographic-trends-leading.html


http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/wd-hamilton-describes-rise-and-demise.html

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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Just how bad are things? And why are they SO bad? And what must we do about it?

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I regard things as very bad indeed. I recognise that this view is not generally accepted - most people would say that things are bad but not much worse than usual. But I regard that attitude as the final straw in clinching just how bad things really are.

What sets us apart from earlier societies is moral inversion; that the bad things are openly promoted as good by politicians, government agencies, the legal and educational systems and in the mass media.

Naturally this confuses people - since in the past people have usually been bad despite official exhortations to do good. In earlier times the officials were usually hypocrites, but paid lavish lip service to the importance of being and doing good - now they urge and reward and coerce people to do be bad, and attack good - while reversing the labels.

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What do I personally regard as the strongest evidence of things being extremely bad, in my country of England?

The high and rising addiction to the mass media, that people will not believe their own experience and knowledge but instead believe the mass media. The grossest example is the ignorance and denial and total lack of interest in truly massive, rapid and multi-faceted demographic transformation.

http://addictedtodistraction.blogspot.co.uk/

The collapse into sub-replacement fertility among the most intelligent, best educated and wealthiest people - the taboo against noticing this, discussing it, doing anything about it. 

That inverted and pathological sexuality are propagandised, and defended by draconian regulations, laws, and managed-mobs. Two landmark examples are the Jimmy Savile affair- where the most widely promoted moral exemplar of recent decades was revealed to be a monster of depravity; and the still unfolding revelations of industrial scale paedophilia in Rotheram, Oxfordshire etc.

Related to the last - that the British establishment does not just tolerate, but vigorously-protects systematic racism, violence, torture, mutilation, slavery and disciplinary-homicide when it occurs among recent migrants and immigrants.

http://thoughtprison-pc.blogspot.co.uk/

The fact that a majority of young, and a large minority of older, people practise and proudly-display escalating levels of permanent self-mutilation in terms of tattoos, piercings and the like.

In the public area of communications, people are dishonest nearly all the time. This applies not just to politicians and bureaucrats, advertising and the mass media; but equally to schools, colleges, science, medicine, law, the police, the military, and of course the mainstream churches. Every statement is hyped, spun, selective, distorted, designed to mislead and seeded with outright lies. The very discourse of our time, thus our capacity for reason, is rotten - and ineffective.

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That is a short list of a few of the things which most strike me and come to mind.

But how can this happen? How can all this be going on with either ineffectual resistance or tacit approval of the mass of the population?

There are many answers, and many factors contributing; but the deepest answer and underpinning reason is the lack of religion in the UK.

At a profound level, the mass of British people deny - correctly - any absolute legitimacy for themselves and their convictions; and therefore collude in an agenda of multi-pronged self-destruction.

People try but cannot convince themselves of the validity of any secular rationale for modern peace, prosperity and comfort - and in this they are absolutely accurate. Our unprecedented material well-being and amusements - based on the inherited gifts of past geniuses - does not justify anything; certainly selfish abundance does not justify the kind of tough, long-termist, explicitly discriminatory policies required to safeguard and sustain a complex civilisation.

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Bad things will go on happening, and will go on getting worse and more urgent, and will continue to be ignored, misinterpreted and forgotten; unless or until there is a mass religious revival - which would almost certainly require the emergence and intervention of some leader of goodness, genius and great good fortune.

Because these deep problems are a consequence of a national state of nihilistic demotivation which is both severe and widespread; religious revival, which should of course be a Christian revival, is the one and only and absolutely necessary basis for doing anything which is net-constructive.

(If we try to solve the major problems without religion, we will surely, one way or another or in many ways, end-up using the (un-repented) 'Boromir Strategy' of using the One Ring to fight Sauron. We will - like the secular Right - try to defeat the evil of Leftism and try to make a better world by fostering hatred, greed and pride - in other words, the weapons of The Enemy.)

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Of course, such pragmatic criteria are not a reason for becoming Christian - the only and sufficient reason to become a Christian is that it is true: objectively true and really real.

(If another, non-Christian religion was the subject of a Great Awakening, then realistically this would simply be a different form of societal demise - a different route to what would amount to the same destination: i.e. the collapse and replacement of Britain by something else.)

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In sum, the more bad things happen with the approval of the ruling elites and the badder they get, the more tempting it is to try and stop these bad things by arguing and organising against them - but that is a counter-productive waste of time.

In sum, as things stand, the United Kingdom does not deserve to survive, knows it does not deserve to survive,and that is why it is allowing and encouraging its own demise.

The answer is that we must deserve to survive; by having a higher goal, and being motivated by serving that higher goal: Christianity.

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The only strategic stance - at the general, socio-political level - which is not fundamentally a waste of time or counter-productive is Christian evangelism; to try and promote, in whatever way we can best think of, a religious revival.

I have not the slightest flicker of optimism that this is actually happening - but it could happen, so there is ample room for hope.

Start here and now and with yourself.

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Become a Christian (because it is true) but don't straightway join a church (because most are anti-Christian)

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Everybody should become a Christian, and if you aren't you should do it today - do it now.

But - at least initially - become a Christian first, and don't leap into joining a church.

Obviously, this does not apply if you believe that only one church is THE Christian church - but few Christian's truly believe that.

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The problem is that at least 90 percent of actually-existing self-styled Christian churches are anti-Christian in overall tendency and effect - Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist etc.- typically, they all lead their flock astray.

Indeed, all the large, powerful mainstream churches in the UK are - at their senior levels especially - primarily 'front' organisations for Left Wing politics - Christianity is merely a rationalization for their primary agenda of political correctness.

So, why join a church that will try to make you a worse Christian, or not a Christian at all?

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Even among the (say) ten percent of real Christian churches, at least half will be unsuitable for you personally, for one reason or another.

Either they will be just not-helpful, or so alien and unappealing that it will be a constant battle merely to attend, to engage and to stay active.

At a conservative estimate - if you become a Christian and join a church then there is a ninety-five percent chance that church will not help your new faith, or will actively try to erode it.

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Clearly, it is much the best thing to be inside and engaged-with a real Christian church - but that is much easier said than done.

Therefore the safest strategy in the UK is to become a Christian in haste, but to be slower and very careful about choosing a denomination; or else you will likely have cause to repent at leisure your precipitate act of premature church membership.

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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The stumbling block of loving God above all else

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The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.

Mark 12:29-30

This was a stumbling block to me as a child at a Christian school. Not only did I not love God more than my family, I did not want to love God more than my family - and I felt it was wrong to love God more than my family. I can distinctly remember thinking this during a prayer when I was about six years old, and mentally denying the doctrine.

Even now, I think it is quite wrong to highlight this teaching, and try and compel young children to assent to this doctrine of loving God more than anything - because many of the best of children will usually interpret the command as that they are supposed to feel more love for God than for their parent, grandparents or siblings - and in practise this could only be achieved by loving their family less.

Furthermore, the doctrine - in the mind of a child - can easily become one of terror rather than love: fear of reprisals from God from failing to love him enough.

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Indeed, this first and greatest commandment is a subtle teaching - and not one to be taken in isolation. It is perhaps a thing which needs to be true indirectly and implicitly; rather than made a matter of explicit and specific assent.

For many or most people, including children, the love of God can not - in this mortal life - be as direct and straightforward a matter as love of actual people. Attempting to force the issue, by trying to think about God as much as possible, praying as much as possible, repeating words about loving God as much as possible are all strategies that can easily 'backfire'.

Yet, of course, this is essential to Christian life. So what is the answer?

1. To regard the first commandment as a part of theosis or spiritual progress, something towards which we strive throughout life; rather than a basic essential requirement for all Christians.

2. To regard God our Heavenly Father as a person, as our actual Father, whose primary and always-present characteristic is love. This makes Him easier to love and may reduce the chance of mistakenly regarding Him as a tyrant.

3. To focus on our love for the person of Jesus Christ, rather than God the Father - this is stated to be sufficient according to scripture. It is, of course, the mainstream strategy of 'evangelical' Christians - who focus almost exclusively on the New Testament, especially the Gospels. This is reasonable, since Christ is the essential focus of Christianity - while God the Father is not.

So, it seems not absolutely necessary for any one of us to attend to God the Father in daily life; His vital role is to explain the nature and mission of Jesus Christ.

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Furthermore, love is not best considered as a feeling, it is not necessarily something at the forefront of consciousness. For many people, their deepest love is something which structures their life, rather than being at the front of our conscious deliberations for most of the time. Some (I am one of them) are very expressive of love - but this is not a necessity; and some very loving cultures and families and marriages do not go in for statements, hugs or tears.

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My understanding of the absolute necessity of loving God above all else is metaphysical rather than psychological - that without this, all other loves (including the love of Jesus) lose their meaning and function.

The supremacy of our love for God is that it makes all other loves possible - it makes other loves a matter of eternal significance.

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Monday, 2 March 2015

Getting at your True Self

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One of the biggest problems nowadays is getting at your True Self; in a world which is characterised by innumerable schemes and devices for erecting and maintaining a False Self - underneath which the True one may be buried so deep as to be all-but cut-off from contact with the outside world; creating a situation when a person's responses and actions are (so far as can be seen) wholly dictated by superficial and artificial processes.

Yet we, each of us, absolutely need to get at our True Self, because it is that which is our indispensable guide in living.

How, then, to get at this True Self?

1. Know that it is there. Know that there is a True Self; and know also that there is a near 100 percent certainty that it will be almost inaccessible to you - and that you are currently operating on the basis of a False Self which has been elaborated through later childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

2. Know the general properties of this True Self. These are two-fold: it is your eternal and proto-divine essence; and it is God within you, which became joined with your personal essence when you were made as a Son or Daughter of God.

3. Be able to recognise your True Self - this is less quick, less easy; and involves experiencing the True Self as providing you with discernment of the heart - your deepest and realest judgement.  

4. Trial & Error, inspiration and intuition, reflection and the results; to discover your personal best methods of connecting with your True Self.

5. Practise the best methods so you can use them as and when required.

6. Use the True Self. It is the one essential - as well as the most powerful, flexible and reliable - 'tool for living' at your disposal. You certainly need it to get started in a spiritual life; at the minimum to identify for yourself the primary source of authority, wisdom, valid experience and example. And once you have located this primary source - matters become easier, faster, more secure.

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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Not far from the Kingdom of God

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This is one of my most beloved episodes in the Gospels - when Jesus and a Scribe gradually and unexpectedly recognise that they are both on the same side.

Here is the simply wonderful dramatisation from the lds.org web site:

https://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/the-greatest-commandment?cid=HPFR022015710&lang=eng

video

There is so much that is good about this. It strikes me as very clearly an eye-witness account - so vividly does it jump across the intervening two millennia. It shows that friends may be found among one's enemies - by those with discerning hearts. It shows great generosity of spirit on both sides; and love of truth.

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More on the reflexive rejection of Harry Potter by Christians

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Continuing from

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/how-us-evangelical-christians-threw.html

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It probably seemed like the safe and sensible thing to do for serious Christians to reject the Harry Potter novels when they first became popular.

After all, what chance was there that something so popular could be Christian? Past experience would say - very little chance.

What was to distinguish this series of books from hundreds, thousands, of others? - why treat them any differently?

What harm could come, after all - they probably thought - from 'playing it safe'? From rejecting and banning and trying to suppress these children's' stories among Christians?

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And yet many serious Christians were wrong; and a great, perhaps unique, opportunity was lost.

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There is a great lesson here, for those who are prepared to learn it; the lesson that you cannot 'play it safe' in life: There is no safe.

Safe now may be wrong; a bad decision in the long run.

Formulae are deceptive, They may work most of the time, and then lead us badly astray. If we stick to them despite negative feedback, they may lead into pride and hatred. 

There is always the need to listen to the faint but insistent warning bells which sometimes intrude when we are most confidently and unthinkingly 'playing it safe' and sticking to the usual simple rules - but when we are, in actuality, refusing to take responsibility for our own choices.

When we are using 'just obeying orders' as an excuse for shirking the discernment of the heart.  

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Saturday, 28 February 2015

How US evangelical Christians threw away the greatest opportunity for Christian evangelism in several decades - the Christian attacks on the Harry Potter books

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Discerning Christian scholars of the Harry Potter novels by JK Rowling - such as John Granger (Eastern Orthodox), and Jerram Barrs (Calvinist Protestant) - have proved beyond reasonable doubt that these books are profoundly Christian in their attitudes and messages and in many symbolic references; and this is confirmed explicitly albeit discreetly in the text and authorial interviews.

(I have also written about this on this blog - the pieces can be found by word-searching 'Potter' and 'Christian'.)

The Harry Potter series has also been a sales sensation, and have reshaped the whole publishing environment.

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This should, of course, have been the greatest possible news among evangelical-minded Christians of all denominations - the best news in decades! - a tremendous opportunity for those who want to spread the word, and encourage Christians in their faith.

Instead, a sizeable number of influential Christians in the USA launched and sustained an aggressive, ill-informed and slanderous (false, dishonest) attack on the Harry Potter phenomenon; so that Christians labelled these books as anti-Christian in intent and tendency - and did their best to prevent their own and other children from reading them.

http://www.bethinking.org/culture/jk-rowling-and-harry-potter

The Christian anti-Rowling attacks were avidly encouraged by the mass media (which should have been sufficient to warn serious Christians of what was going on).

The result has been a disastrous lost opportunity and self-inflicted wound for Christianity:

1. The most popular books in decades have been labelled, and interpreted, as if they were anti-Christian; and instead distorted into a frame which supports the dominant culture of secular Leftism.

This was a tragically lost opportunity for Christianity in the West - perhaps the biggest lost opportunity for several decades.

2. For Christians, the depth and faith strengthening beauty of these books has been lost.

3. The author seems to have been astonished and wounded by these attacks from Christians; and from subsequent interviews and published novels it seems very probable that she has become apostate, has changed sides - and now consistently takes a pro secular Leftist (and implicitly anti-Christian) stance.

Clearly this was very wrong of her - but my point is that this corruption and change in JKR was (in my view) probably begun by the vile and hysterical attacks on her personally and on the HP books by Christians.

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One consequence may have been that the very popular movies based on the books, which followed a few years later, almost-entirely deleted the Christian elements - and indeed inverted some of the primary moral and spiritual messages of the novels.

Given the innate tendency of movies to usurp the understanding and interpretation of novels,this was a further deep wound inflicted on the potential-for-good of the Harry Potter series.

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In conclusion, the Christians who campaigned against Harry Potter seemingly ended-up inflicting very serious damage on Christianity, and doing the work of Satan.

How did this happen?

There were good and bad intentions at work - as usual.

The good intentions were thoughtless and lacking in discernment - regarding the HP books with prejudice rather than actually reading them with sympathy. This attitude means that inevitably Christians will reject on a priori grounds any Christian phenomenon successful among non-Christians, and any potential major opportunity for evangelism.

The bad intentions were the usual ones - seeking any 'plausible' excuse to indulge in hatred, moral showboating and status striving, the pleasures of controlling and bullying others...

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The Harry Potter phenomenon handed Western Christians a great opportunity. The same applies, of course, to the Narnia books by CS Lewis, and the Middle Earth books by JRR Tolkien.

That opportunity remains - but an aggressive and influential minority of US supposedly-'evangelical' Christians are working against this great opportunity - by gifting this Christian literature to anti-Christians: handing it to them on a plate!

Unsurprisingly, this kind self-destructive lunacy by Christians has been given every possible encouragement and amplification by the secular Leftist mass media.

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The damage has been done - water under the bridge - why write about it?

Well, now that the scenario has played out, now that the scale of damage can be surveyed; those serious Christians who participated in the slandering of Harry Potter should now be able to see the extent of their error, and to repent.

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Friday, 27 February 2015

The astonishing size and duration of social or civilizational impact from a single Great Man

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/we-underestimate-impact-of-great-men.html
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Doubt is a bad thing - not a good thing

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Doubt is a part of life - it is one of the trials of human existence - it is inevitable; but it is not a good state to be in.

Doubts are temptations to sin - we all get them, but must strive not to yield to them; and when (as happen) we do yield to our doubts - then we need to repent.

We live in a society which does nothing else so effectively as plant doubts, water and grow doubts - and encourage doubts to seed, spread and make more and yet more doubts...

This is also a society of unprecedented nihilism, irreligion, cowardice, lack of principle and mainstream moral inversion - and the ground for this situation was prepared by two or three centuries of the 'cult of doubting' among the elites.

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Certainly we can and should learn from overcoming our doubts - and can be made the stronger for the experience; as we can and should learn and grow from overcoming any other of our sins. Christ came to save sinners, and that includes doubters.

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But certainly we should not celebrate doubts! Certainly we should not make heroes of those who live in a perpetual state of doubt. Certainly we should not encourage and admire people who argue in favour of their doubts, propagandise their doubt, or who pride themselves on supposedly superior insight/ sensitivity because they doubt!

That is the very last thing we ought to do with doubts!

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What harm is done by (dishonest) verbal denials of the Good? Harm to theosis, but not so much to salvation

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What harm, what kind of harm, is done by the kind of superficial and merely-verbal denial of the Good - denials of truth, beauty and virtue; denials of the reality of reality - which are now mainstream and increasingly mandatory in public discourse?

(I refer to the officially-sanctioned inversions of especially morality, but also truth and beauty, which are now compulsory. A person or institution that refuses actively and positively to support, indeed to show-enthusiasm-for, the progressive Leftist agenda of inversion is now punished harshly and the trend is for more and more-severe punishments.)

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So a person, a committee, an organisation articulates denial of Good and proposes the desirability of the unreal, untrue, wicked, ugly - what happens at the ultimate level of God's plan of salvation and theosis?

My suggestion is that their main harm of this stuff is to block spiritual progress.

Such denials don't necessary damn us - because we can, as private souls, snap out of them in a moment - and it seems likely that this will usually occur after death when we are confronted by the truth or reality.

But such denials probably block us in theosis - block us in the main business of life (after salvation is secured) which is to become more like Jesus Christ, more like God, more divine.

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The result is that - even when he is saved - modern man is, in the mass, at an extraordinarily low spiritual level, at an extremely undeveloped stage of sanctification.

In the past there were Good men of great spiritual stature; equally there were wicked men who were spiritually-advanced; that is, there were god-like geniuses of good and evil - the evil being those men who developed far towards divinity then changed sides.

Nowadays mediocrity is the normal and almost exclusive rule: mediocrity of the saved and the damned alike - there is a great and infinitely-important gulf between them in fate, in decision; but as individuals there is not much to choose.

In modern conditions, the saved are not very Good, the damned are not very evil.

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Mormonism is a paradigm shift of Christianity

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I want to articulate here something about Mormonism that is almost always missed by almost everyone - including Mormons.

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Mormonism represents nothing less than, nothing other than, a paradigm shift of Christianity.

It is Christian and it is new; Mormonism 'saves the appearances' of Christianity (i.e. it is Christian) while underpinning them with an utterly different by systematic metaphysics.

Mormonism is an utterly novel way of being a Christian. It is about as different-yet-coherent way of being a full Christian as it is possible for the mind of Man to conceive.

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Thus Mormonism amounts to a re-explanation of everything in Christianity that needs to be explained; while leaving unchanged that which makes Christianity Christian.

Core, essential Christian belief is unchanged; but underpinned by a qualitatively-different theoretical structure.

Mormonism is not a melange nor a bricolage of earlier beliefs and practices - neither is it an evolutionary development of earlier Christianity; it is a creative re-synthesis of Christianity.

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I think the systematic, metaphysical, structural aspects of Mormonism have been grossly underestimated - indeed there has been near-zero engagement with these matters at the level of philosophical discourse, or in terms of the history of ideas and the history of civilizations.

One may legitimately be amazed by, inspired by, or appalled by the sheer radicalism of Mormon re-conceptualization - but it is simply an error of ignorance or prejudice to fail to appreciate the truly remarkable scope and thoroughness of Mormonism as an intellectual achievement.

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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Addicted to Distraction - Psychological consequences of the Mass Media by Bruce G Charlton - available online

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My most recent book is now available online, complete - 26,000 worda approximately.

If you want to read it, I recommend you copy, paste, maybe edit - then print out.

http://addictedtodistraction.blogspot.co.uk/
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'Whether or not God exists' is a fake problem

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The modern question of 'whether God exists, or not' is a fake problem, a pseudo-problem.

We know that God exists.

(We all know this by revelation and experience; built-into us before we were born into this mortal life: We are born knowing it - and there never was any significant dispute about this obvious fact until very recently in human history.)

The proper question is what we do about it.

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God exists - but there is a choice concerning what we, personally, are going to do about the fact.

We do not have to be grateful to God for what He has done for us, nor do we have to love God. We can choose to blame God for what He has done for us, or not done; we can choose to hate God.

In other words, we can choose what side to be on: God's side; or not-God's side.

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We know that God exists, and we can only claim not to know God exists by also claiming ignorance of all the profoundest, deepest matters.

Modern Man has taken this route: modern Man has tried to escape the dichotomy of being either/or for/ against God by pretending not to know about God.

Having done so, modern Man finds that he is forced to deny knowledge of all Good.

Thus modern Man (who falsely claims 'not to know' whether or not God exists) is forced to be a 'relativist', indeed a nihilist; modern Man is forced to claim that truth, beauty and virtue are equally uncertain, as equally unreal, as he pretends God to be.

In denying the reality of God, modern Man denies even the possibility of meaning and purpose.

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(Because if we cannot know the reality of God, we cannot - by exactly the same arguments - know the reality of Good. If God is merely an evidence-free subjective assertion, then so is Good.)

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The fake assertion that he 'does not know' whether or not God is real is the condition that stuns, dismays, paralyses modern Man - which makes him hate himself, his life, his civilisation - which drives him into self-distraction and self-delusion.

Behind this pretence-piled-upon-pretence; we all know that God exists: that is not the problem.

The true questions relate not to existence but to matters such as the nature of God, his motivations, his relation to us, our responsibilities and destiny; and the implications of the answers for our own un-evadable choice: pro or contra.

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Note: I use the singular God as a short-hand which implicitly includes 'gods'.  This is an argument for deity, not for monotheism.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

My MA thesis is online, apparently

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Well, who'd have thunk it? My thesis The Literature of Alasdair Gray, which was awarded the degree of Magister Artium by the University of Durham, England in 1988 - is available online!

http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/6450/1/6450_3750.PDF

So you can all read it, and I will set a test next week...

It was a one year research degree in English Literature (like a mini-PhD), and I lived in University College, Durham - which is in a castle


And ate my meals at high table in the Hogwartsian Great Hall


It was certainly one of the most enjoyable years of my pre-married life - full of reading, arts, writing, ritual and good conversation - but got me into rather bad habits of self-indulgence and dependence on external stimulation; so that it was followed by a rather miserable 'down' from which I did not emerge for several years.

I thought my thesis was pretty good for just one year's work - the second half of it (the library work) was later published as a book chapter.

Strangely, although this year briefly made me into the world expert on Alasdair Gray; and although I later went to live near him in Glasgow, got to know him pretty well and helped him in little ways with several novels and plays; I haven't re-read anything of his for a long time or kept up with his later work... so it goes.

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Do geniuses spontaneously 'hijack' and deploy social intelligence to use in their creative thinking?

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/genius-and-social-intelligence-high.html
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Was Jesus really a scapegoat? Not essentially

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While there are some reasonable parallels to the analogy; Jesus was not really a scapegoat for Man.

Not, that is, one who was punished for the sins of others; not even one who was willingly punished for the sins of others (which a scape goat never really can be - at most the goat might placidly accept the unjust punishment).

Indeed it is dangerous to regard scapegoat as the master metaphor of what Christ did; because, surely, no matter how we try to spin it, we could never wholly accept the principle that it was right to punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty?

No - Christ was essentially the giver of great gifts, the bringer of great Goods; bringer of the good news.

He was one who added; not one who took-away.

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The necessity of genius

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/the-necessity-of-genius-for-societal.html
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40 years before Mencius Moldbug - Mormon Apostle Ezra Taft Benson describes 'The Cathedral'

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I was listening to a speech given in 1968 at Brigham Young University entitled "The Book of Mormon warns America" by Ezra Taft Benson - who was at the time an Apostle of the Mormon church, and later became the President.

http://www.latterdayconservative.com/ezra-taft-benson/the-book-of-mormon-warns-america/

http://speeches.byu.edu/index.php?act=viewitem&id=1619

This was at the height of the explicit culture wars, when the confrontation between the atheist New Left and traditional Christianity was at its most obvious - and before the Left had taken over all the large and powerful institutions.

From a perspective of 2015, this is a very remarkable speech - especially in terms of its tough, uncompromising, style. This was before political correctness made us accustomed the Right only being allowed to use euphemism and indirectness in prestigious public media and in open discourse - we are now easily shocked and scared by the upfront expression of common sense. Leftism was simply, and accurately, called Communism. Socially destructive Leftists were simply called 'traitors'.

(Sophisticated modern people have no concept of loyalty, so 'traitor' is a snigger-word.)

In terms of his analysis of how Leftism operates in America, Benson's analysis is essentially identical with that of the influential blogger Mencius Moldbug - the focus on communists and communist promoters in government agencies, the legal system, academia and the media (i.e. what Moldbug calls 'The Cathedral).

Here is a selection of quotations:

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The Book of Mormon points out how these ancient conspirators were able to fill the judgment seats, usurp power, destroy justice, condemn the righteous, and let the guilty and the wicked go unpunished. Do you see any parallel between this and the present-day decisions of our Supreme Court?

President McKay has stated that the Supreme Court is leading this Christian nation down the road to atheism. I believe the court is also leading us down the road to anarchy and atheistic communism. Here is the net effect of a few of their decisions:

Communists can work in our defense plants... Communists can teach in our schools...Communists can hold offices in labor unions... Communists can run for public offices...Communists can serve in the merchant marines...
The Supreme Court justices would probably have been accused of treason if they had dealt in this manner with the Nazis during World War II. 

How does one explain the court’s attitude towards the communist conspiracy which is a much greater threat than the Nazis ever were?...

I have not even covered the areas of how the court is hamstringing the police, destroying property rights, encouraging civil disobedience, undermining state sovereignty, and so forth.

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We have mentioned briefly the help which the communists have received from our Supreme Court. Suffice it to say that they have penetrated every major segment of our society... the news media, the schools, the churches, the unions, etc. 

But their greatest desire and most successful drive has come from their effective penetration of government.

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We extend the advantage of diplomatic recognition to their puppets when they come to power. We send them billions in foreign aid. We’ve trained their pilots. We ship them wheat. Through cultural and other exchanges, their spies come to America. We supply them know-how. We extend them credit. We buy their goods. Their propaganda goes through our mails at our expense. We’ve helped them in their conquests through secret agreements.

Our government does all it can to keep the anti-communists from coming to power in any country. 

And once we’ve helped the communists to take over a nation such as China and Cuba, we do all in our power to keep the anti-communists from freeing their land. We even negotiate with these butchers and sign treaties with these criminals who have no respect for treaties. 

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The vast majority of American citizens and federal employees are loyal to our Republic. But there are a few traitors whose numbers are growing and who are in key positions to influence and help shape government policy.

In fact it is becoming increasingly apparent that appointment to high government office today is not hampered by one’s past affiliations with communist fronts or one’s ability to follow the communist line. You don’t need to look further than the President’s Cabinet and recent appointments to the Supreme Court to find ample evidence of this fact... 

Parrot the communist line and you can expect to be glamorized by the liberal news media and pushed to the front. But take a strong anti­communist position and you can expect to be passed over, smeared, and silenced. And this has happened and is happening to too many great and distinguished Americans to be accidental.


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The communists could not do this all by themselves. They knew that communism would also have to be built by non-communist hands. And so, as in the past, they use, to suit their purpose, the misguided idealist, the political opportunists, the dupes and fellow travelers, and the ignorant and apathetic Americans...

He knows that some of his greatest successes have come with programs which have been sold to the American public as ways to fight the communists but which in reality had the net effect of promoting communism.

This has been true of our foreign aid program. Designed, supposedly, to help nations, its overall effect has been to keep socialist governments in business, enhance the communists, discourage free enterprise and demoralize the anti-communists.

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And so on...I quote above Benson's own words, but even harder things are said in citing approvingly quotations from others.

What do I infer from this? That what would have been, and would still be, depicted by The Cathedral as hysterical paranoia about 'Reds under the Bed'; was not just accurate, but an underestimate of the reality and trends.

That the stakes were clear by 1968, and the broad outlines of what has come to pass in the political system were clearly apparent - since Benson gives every appearance of speaking from a generally-understood perspective.

In particular, there was clarity that communism/ Leftism/ The Cathedral was absolutely hostile to Christianity - which was why Benson was giving this speech - and a recognition that the rise of communism causes the decline of Christianity.

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(In this respect Benson gets it right where Moldbug gets it wrong - communism was and is anti-Christian and atheist in nature, and it does not make analytic sense to regard it as a Christian heresy. To point at the post-communist corrupted pseudo-Christian churches and accuse them of causing Leftism is an example of victim-blaming. The Leftism of most modern church leaders is more akin to Stockholm Syndrome, the pitiful parrotings of the chronically abused, than it is to the masterminds of Leftist strategy.)

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What was not apparent in 1968 was the extent to which communism/ Leftism would achieve its goals primarily by the sexual revolution - by 'rights talk' applied to anyone who advocated sexual practices out-with faithful marriage.

The potential for the initially merely-libidinous sexual revolution to be deployed politically, to add-to the 'civil rights' based race alliance by pandering to women, the sexually promiscuous, those with psychopathologies and so on - This process was insidious, cumulative and surprising in its scope, effectiveness and destructiveness of tradition, Christianity and pretty much everything that was good about The West.

But in terms of where communism/Leftism was located in the USA, and how it operated; the politically-mainstream Benson was using the same analytic frame as was rediscovered forty years later by Mencius Moldbug - the main difference being that Moldbug was coming from an atheist Leftist then Libertarian background, while Benson was speaking from a rooted Christian perspective.

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