Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Beauty and the Beasts

If truth is what we must know, then beauty is what we must create and virtue is what we must cultivate. Therefore, the path of the Raccoon is one of continuous discernment, which automatically precludes the sort of bland "all-is-one" approach favored by many of our trolls. For to dis-cern is to sift and separate; according to Webster's it is "to detect with other senses than vision," "to come to know or recognize mentally," and "to see or understand the difference." It is to know by seeing directly, not by discursive logic (which it transcends but does not violate).

So this path surely involves "seeing the differences," but not with Darwinian eyes, which see only what the genes want them to see. For example, a frog will starve to death before eating a perfectly good insect that isn't moving, or die of thirst before drinking a California wine. But the way of the Raccoon involves recognizing the differences between truth and error, appearances and reality, beauty and ugliness, virtue and sin, ego and Self, Petey and Deepak. To be objective -- which no mere animal can do -- is to touch the Absolute.

You will have noticed that we have two main types of trolls, one no better than the other; on the one hand, we have the self-refuting materialists, bonehead atheists, and scientolaters, such as Ray -- those metaphysical yahoos who think that myopia is just another kind of vision; on the other hand, we have the new age "integralist" types whose real beef, if you scratch beneath the surface, is with discernment, or with thought itself. The former live in a world of geometry with no music, while the latter live in a cloud with no boundaries.

I suppose we also get the occasional leftist troll, but they are almost always marked by an acrid soul stench that suffuses their every utterance -- a "bad will" that is functionally the opposite of discernment, so that it sows confusion and generates vulgarity and stupidity.

For the proud scientolaters there is hope, since they still seem to value truth and logic, at least within a very narrow range of application. And for the fuzzy new-age integralists there is hope, since they still seem to value compassion, although in such a way that it loses its value, being that it is without the discernment and severity that imbue it with integral truth. But the leftists are truly in love with falsehood, ugliness, and rebellion, so they can't be helped, at least by me.

Yesterday, one of the "cloudy" types took issue with my statement that the Raccoon wages a battle on two fronts, "against those who reduce religion to a kind of dense and stupid materialism, and those who turn materialism into a dense and stupid religion (lizards and other scientolaters who are refractory to human Intelligence, and who would childishly eliminate the realm of eternal truth and the uncreated intellect that may uniquely know it)."

For the cloudy type who hates conflict and judgment (which he confuses with judgmentalism), the task is to merely efface the gulf between good and evil or truth and error by oozing platitudes and calling it "enlightenment" or something equivalent. These new age blobs render everything indistinct, which creates a kind of inverse image of enlightenment, in that it is a unity "from below" instead of "above." It doesn't transcend thought, but fails to even reach it.

This becomes abundantly clear when you read their writings, which cannot fail to demonstrate "where they are coming from," which is to say, below. I often crack on Deepak, but I could just as easily pick on dozens of other self-proclaimed gurus who manifest the identical errors, not just in terms of the content, but in the very form of their thinking. Suffice it to say that they are not "thinking in O," or they could not believe what they believe.

Here -- not to get too sidetracked, but let's examine the latest idiocy from the Enlightened One, Deepak. Like all members of the Reality Based Community, he persists in the belief that we are losing the war in Iraq, mainly because he deeply wishes for us to lose, i.e., for evil to prevail over good.

First of all, Deepak calls the United States a "pitiful, helpless giant," and says that "History is repeating itself almost verbatim today in Iraq" and that we must "face the reality that wars are not always won" (ironically, a reality he cannot accept, since his side is losing).

As with Vietnam, we just have to admit defeat and surrender to the genocidal monsters, although Deepak clearly believes that we are the genocidal and imperialistic monsters. As such, he declares that we must not only end the war, but "make reparations for the immense devastation we recklessly caused." Our brave men and women did not liberate Iraq, nor are they attempting the bring the light of democracy to a part of the world where it has never existed. Rather, like Nazi Germany, our efforts in Iraq are nothing but "a naked exercise in national pride." Thus, "The giant had to swagger across the world stage, bringing war where there was no cause."

Do you see how this wicked man lives in an upside down world -- intellectually, morally, and even aesthetically, as revealed by his barbarous and graceless use of language? Furthermore, he conceals it all under the pompous and sanctimonious belief that he is spiritually superior to the rest of us, operating out of "higher consciousness." He also -- not surprisingly -- insists that that vacuous, chronic liar, Obama, will bring the same "quantum leap" in politics that Deepak brings to spirituality: "So far he's relied on realism, flatly telling the public that the war has been a debacle."

Oh, really? Unlike Deepak, Obama's very problem is that he knows he cannot get elected only with the support of idiots, hate-mongers, and the reality-challenged. In short, he is trying to finesse a way to court normal people without alienating his base of crazies.

Anyway. Enough ugliness. Back to beauty. Again, I've been reading this collection of Schuon's writings on art, beauty, and aesthetics, so I think I'll just reflect on some of the thoughts it has provoked. (All quoted material is from the book.)

Again, one way the Creator manifests his qualities to us is through beauty, both through "virgin nature" and through genuine works of art. This itself provides a hint, for when man acts as "creator," he is exercising his deiform nature by imitating the Creator -- at least to the extent that his artistic creations mirror divine qualities. Art is no less a human need than knowledge, since "Man lives by Truth and Beauty."

I am sure that most Raccoons are well aware of this, which is why we are magnetically attracted to both, which must be "metabolized" and interiorized; they must be woven into our very substance, so that the soul may "realize" its intrinsic Truth and Beauty.

All other animals are creatures; only man is both creature and creator. Again, this means that we span creation vertically and "axially," from top to bottom. "Man by his theomorphism is at the same time a work of art and also an artist; a work of art because he is an 'image,' and an artist because this image is that of the divine Artist."

Yesterday a new toll left a curious comment objecting to my statement that I try to express perennial truth in a novel way (a la jazz improvisation), whereas scientific truth by its very nature is subject to change, and does not fundamentally value novel expression; in other words, only in spiritual expression is beauty a necessary component, as it involves more "total" or integral truth.

Another way of saying it is that "Human art, like divine Art, includes both determinate and indeterminate aspects, aspects of necessity and freedom, of rigor and joy." Thus, science expresses "relatively necessary" truths which cannot account for our freedom to know and express them, nor is there any necessary component of cosmic "joy," or ananda, in them. (Although there is obviously a kind of "passional joy" involved in the scientific pursuit.)

But real art memorializes "the interference of the uncreate in the created, of the eternal in time, of the infinite in space, of the supraformal in forms; it is the mysterious introduction into one realm of existence of a presence which in reality contains and transcends that realm and could cause it to burst asunder in a sort of divine explosion."

So creation itself is just such a "divine explosion," and human art is a remembrance of this explosion, which the profane artist confuses with mere rebellion or "transgression." Bad art is explosive as well, except that it explodes reality, not illusion -- just as Deepak crudely explodes decency, truth, and felicity of expression.

In ether worlds,

A self-willed division, expulsion & exile, and badda-bing, badda-

BANG!

a wondrous thunder rends it all asunder. The molten infinite pours forth a blazen torrent of incandescent finitude, as light plunges an undying fire into its own shadow (oops! a dirty world) and falls in love with the productions of time...
--The Coonifesto

88 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

You wrote, "...for to discern is to sift and separate..."

I was reading this last night, written in the 1920's:
"Not all can learn to discern the real from the false; but he who can will not receive this gift of discernment free. This is a thing of great labor, a thing of great work, which demands boldness of thought and boldness of feeling."

Again, methinks there is a certain angle on things that goes beyond "differences of opinion" -- and this angle is not visible to some, or requires an effort they are just not given to.

You mentioned recently in a comment "loving routine," in the sense of loving discipline. Not all have tasted this; many re-coil (literally) from it.

7/15/2008 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

According to Schuon, and as well many others, there is a requirement of Grace in all genuine encounters of any kind, including Truth. Without God's participation, all remains in the realm of falling short (sin). The grace required may be very small, hardly noticeable, like the compensation for windage in a long shot. If the distance to cover is short, then the windage won't matter much. If the distance is truly long, then windage is critical.

Perhaps what we discern is the lack of God's grace. That is what we criticize, if it is not simply that we give another horizontal opinion in the graceless flatland. Especially to attempt the vertical, as in Schuon's false prophets without the required Grace of God is to fall seriously short.

7/15/2008 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Therefore, the path of the Raccoon is one of continuous discernment, which automatically precludes the sort of bland "all-is-one" approach favored by many of our trolls."

Yes indeedy. Along similar lines, I'd recommend "In Praise of Prejudice" by Theodore Dalrymple,

"Today, the word prejudice has come to seem synonymous with bigotry; therefore the only way a person can establish freedom from bigotry is by claiming to have wiped his mind free from prejudice. English psychiatrist and writer Theodore Dalrymple shows that freeing the mind from prejudice is not only impossible, but entails intellectual, moral and emotional dishonesty. The attempt to eradicate prejudice has several dire consequences for the individual and society as a whole. "

Lance, if you're still out there, he also hits on a couple of J.S. Mills philosophical missteps.

7/15/2008 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Walt, I think that there is a question of the level of intelligence of a certain kind and the matter of will to use it in a certain way.

Without intelligence coupled with will, there is no discernment.

With respect to discipine, if you have too much discipline you are considered OCD.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2014244.stm

Speaking of discernment, I've managed to discern that Ray is not secretly posting as Christopher. I've also managed to discern that Van is not posting as me, but that was pretty easy to do.

I cannot yet discern how long Ray will spend bogged down in yesterday's comments section with Van and me. But that's much more prediction than discernment.

7/15/2008 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I still believe that in a certain sense, beauty too is "found", like truth is. But to focus on the "found" would grossly misrepresent the proportion of transpiration to inspiration. Famously, the sculptor "finds" a statue in a block of stone, but then must expend great energy - and in time, great attention to detail - to bring it into our shared world.

(This is the exact same problem I have with virtue: Knowing it has become amazingly easy, by God's grace; but bringing it into the world seems to take a disturbingly long time and more persistence than I could have imagined. In fact, if I had known, I would probably not even have tried.)

7/15/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Sorry about the double hit. I am not sure what happened.

It is commonly known that few are even interested in Raccoon knowledge. It is evident from this blog that many don't understand even if they are interested, thus all the trolls...

Since this is the case, if not many men can actually attain this knowledge and it is clear that many men are required to govern the world, then it is also clear that the world will be governed in ignorance no matter the form of government.

Left or right makes little difference either, except with the caveat that Traditions may help greatly and should not be left very far behind.

This is a land of predominantly Christian temperament. It would be hoped that the separation of church and state, while in some sense essential, does not drive us into a churchless state.

Fortunately, it seems clear that churches are thriving. If one is in the Tradition but does not know Truth, it may be that Tradition saves. Schuon thinks so.

7/15/2008 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Magnus, good comment.

There is an intermixture of found, revealed and conceived. When we see a play, Aristotle's much debated "cathartic" response, is, I think, an 'aha!' response to new or reinforced ideas, and as we grasp the concepts, the ideas, we mentally engage in the action of the play, gaining virtual experience. But putting those newly acquired ideas and virtual experience, into action and into deeper understanding and habit, is a process that takes more than virtual understanding, it takes living as above, so below.

And that is hard. There is no shortage of the virtual virtuous.

But then so is not doing so.

7/15/2008 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

From Erasmus's link: "As a religion catholicism does rather tend to emphasise personal responsibility, guilt and right and wrong. "Any strong teaching that emphasises these issues in a very powerful way could be additional pressure for somebody who is prone to feeling guilt in the first place. "It could well be a factor contributing towards the development of an obsessional-compulsive coping strategy."

Yeah... much better off just turning your mind off and floating downstream....Now... there's some folly for ya.

7/15/2008 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Van, That's neat.

I didn't realize that the link was self-refuting. I only remembered that I read it some time ago and threw it up here.

7/15/2008 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Erasmus - despite being mentioned specifically in today's post, it wasn't really addressed to me, but rather to the '"cloudy" types'. So there's no reason to comment here, is there?

7/15/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Ray,

Since you have free will, that decision resides with you.

7/15/2008 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Christopher, I'll repeat what I said over at Walt's this morning:

"True. This does not change the fact, though, that some forms of government are inherently better than others."

And apropos your comment

("This is a land of predominantly Christian temperament. It would be hoped that the separation of church and state, while in some sense essential, does not drive us into a churchless state.

Fortunately, it seems clear that churches are thriving. If one is in the Tradition but does not know Truth, it may be that Tradition saves. Schuon thinks so.")

and something I was mentally chewing on a couple of weeks ago, Glenn Reynolds has an article up today about vaccine denial. Imagine Judeo-Christian values and traditions as the vaccine.

7/15/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

ray... did I miss something, or did you mix your days up? Time travel... the paradoxs are such a pain.

7/15/2008 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

ray, I humbly suggest that this is the world for you:this place is for you
"...Within 17 days, the Creature Creator community had produced a total of unique monsters that exceeded the number of known species on Earth. Wright noted that God had done the same amount of work so in 7 days. Doing the math, he pointed out that Spore fans were roughly 38% God (.38 God units), and should far surpass 1.00 God by the end of the year. And, given the original goal of 100,000 monsters for the four months, the current count—which is over 1.7 million—is impressive. He expressed hope that the pace could further exceed his expectations: the goal of three God units seems possible..."

If you're looking for a way to quantify God, they seem to have what you're looking for.

7/15/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Van, I was referring to "the self-refuting materialists, bonehead atheists, and scientolaters, such as Ray" in today's post. I just checked, it's the 15th here, too. (I wonder if I rate all three, or just one or two? I wouldn't presume to call myself a perfect bad example. :-> )

7/15/2008 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Julie, It cannot be the government that should enforce Christian and traditions, in that even in the beginning of our nation, when most European settlers were in fact deeply religious, it was already so sectarian and divided over fine points of Christian values and traditions, that they all mainly agreed to a separation of church and state.

Our situation is now different but it cuts both ways. The secular groups have grown less religious but there are Christian churches that are experiencing huge growth, for example the non-sectarian groups which form huge "program" churches in so many locations, not unlike Schuler's Crystal Cathedral.

Also there is a parallel growth of non-Christian religions in the nation. Even many of the New Agers as they age are entering various traditional forms.

So it is by no means clear how strong the secular movements will eventually be, just as eventually the Russian communists stumbled and lost their empire. To keep the good fight going is required, but draconian means are probably not required. Neither did we have to nuke the Russians.

7/15/2008 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"it was already so sectarian and divided over fine points of Christian values and traditions, that they all mainly agreed to a separation of church and state."

Not true at all. The assault on religious freedom didn't begin in earnest until the 1950s and 1960s. For example, school prayer wasn't banned until 1963.

7/15/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

errant messiahs
wander a fractured landscape
denuded by death

7/15/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Again, one way the Creator manifests his qualities to us is through beauty, both through "virgin nature" and through genuine works of art. This itself provides a hint, for when man acts as "creator," he is exercising his deiform nature by imitating the Creator...

I am reminded of the passage I was taught as a child rendered in the King James as, "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

The word 'workmanship' is often translated 'creation'. I think -- without going back to my Vines -- that it can have the connotation of 'master work', or 'masterpiece'.

God manifests truth through His 'art', and His 'works of art' follow suit.

To discover that I am a work of art isn't too surprising since I have been thought to resemble something a cubist dragged in.

7/15/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Ray does have a F.A.Q. of sorts. I did not realize that.

Sorry, Ray.

http://ingles.homeunix.net/rants/atheism/argfromevil.html

7/15/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"...that they all mainly agreed to a separation of church and state."

To the early settlers minds, I think what they sought was more of a separation of church from state, but regardless of how it is phrased, that 'separation' didn't come to mean, publicly, antagonism or exclusion, or to mean that those involved or interacting with the state must have all religious taint expunged from them, their words and actions, until the mid 20th century. By that time there were three generations of proregressively de-educated people awash in the populace, eager to either seem educated or unconcerned.

7/15/2008 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Christopher,
I in no way meant that government should impose or enforce religious values or traditions. Rather, my point was that in a society whose culture is largely based upon Judeo-Christian values, even those who do not believe in the source of those values benefit - are protected, in a sense - by the culture of those who do believe in the Source.

When secularism/ atheism is believed by a minority of the population, that minority still benefits from the positive effects of living in a Western faith-based culture such as ours. It becomes easy to think that people are basically good, because in our culture, that is generally true. Remove the Source however, and people become increasingly selfish and nihilistic. Just look at the birthrates for largely secular and atheist countries around the world; they are dying out. A culture removed from Meaning fills the void with meaninglessness and materialism, in spite of what individuals within that culture may do to create meaning in their own lives.

Also, what GBob said.

Mushroom, I hope your eyes are at least on the same side of your head! :D

7/15/2008 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Elephant said...

I'm just going to say this out of the blue like jumping into a sky blue swimming pool.

In re, from the post: "To be objective -- which no mere animal can do -- is to touch the Absolute."


A few months ago, on my birthday, a friend (semi-flatlander) accused me of being arrogant because I claimed to try to be objective. The conversation was like nails and ropes. I think his real trouble, hatred, anger, fear was of the Absolute, i.e. God. He also at one time accused God of being arrogant for asking people to worship Him (and that was one reason he could not accept Christianity.) Well, how's *that* for arrogance?! Going to continue on with reading now.

7/15/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I would definitely recommend Novak's On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding for anyone who wants to get past the usual liberal talking points and find out what the Founders actually thought about the relationship between God and state.

7/15/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

GBob, please read carefully. There were Christian denominations that disagreed with each other and so the question was not religion in general, but which form was to rule, as in England the king was identified with the Church of England and this was not to be tolerated. No one form of Christian theocracy was going to be accepted. The separation of church and state was on those grounds at the beginning of our nation.

7/15/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Christopher:

You are incorrect. There is nothing whatsoever about "separation of church and state" in the Constitution. What there is is a statement that congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a state (meaning federal) religion. It certainly didn't forbid state governments from being as religious as they like.

7/15/2008 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger lance said...

Van: I am around and thanks for the heads up on the book. I will see if I can find it at my local used book establishment.

On a different note wasn't the separation of church and state concept one that was intended to stop there from being a state mandated church with some kind of king figure at the head much like the church of England was. Also isn't it worthwhile to note the religious differences between the initial founders of America?

7/15/2008 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Roger Kimball puts it well:

"Jefferson’s anti-clericalism –- it was an unattractive part of his Enlightenment kit -– is well known.... Secularists often quote Jefferson’s brusque dismissal of religion in Notes on the State of Virginia (”It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”) But they somehow never get around to quoting the passage that occurs a few pages later: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of people that these liberties are the gift of God?”

... "Jefferson was even more respectful of religion, and specifically Christianity, as the foundation of liberty and public virtue. On his way to church one Sunday, Jefferson was met by a friend:

“You going to church Mr. J. You do not believe a word in it.”

“Sir [Jefferson replied], no nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example. Good morning Sir.”

7/15/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Sure, Julie, they are on the same side -- one right above the other -- 8
for vertical stereoscopic vision.

7/15/2008 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

GBob, we are quibbling now. I didn't say that separation of church and state was explicitly placed in the Constitution as we have it in the current struggle. I know what the Constitution says and that's what I take it to be, on the Federal level. The States look after themselves, and yet there is a sh*tload of legal precedent that much of what is federal applies to states as well. There's other stuff like the IRS as well. But render unto Caesar, or move to Idaho before you have the shootout.

7/15/2008 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "...for anyone who wants to get past the usual liberal talking points and find out what the Founders actually thought about the relationship between God and state."

Definitely a worthwhile investigation to make. From the Amazon blurb on Gagdad's reference,

""In one key respect, the way the story of the United States has been told for the past one hundred years is wrong," writes Michael Novak. "To read most philosophers and historians of the American polity today is to learn that America is an historical embodiment of secular philosophy, the Enlightenment.""

Yep. I really began my research of the Constitution and the Founders with the Objectivist point of view in my head of "They were men of the Enlightenment seeking to free Man from Religion and the constraints of society...", but as John Adams said, 'Facts are stubborn things", and I soon discovered in reading the literature of the era, of the Founders own words, and of the traditions they were raised in, believed and fostered, that outside of a few cranks such as Ethan Allen, that position was bunk. Additional point of fact, emphasizing Dalrymple's point (linked to above) that prejudice can't and shouldn't be excluded and doesn't in fact hinder discovering your own errors, because, as pointed out in today's post, discernment involves identifying what things are, an objective examination of not only the facts you discover, but the facts ‘as you know them’ as well, with Reality.

Having a point of view doesn't in any way prevent you from discovering that your point of view is in error (which contrary to the views of some cloudy trolls, I often find myself to be in), the only thing that prevents that is the ultimate prejudice of pretending to have no prejudice (and of course of there being no right and no wrong).

A good example of how the Founders, and the founders of the Founders, were deeply religious, and committed to creating a state which didn't interfere with religion, but was in no way irreligious, can be found here, which I came upon awhile back in searching out some links for ray to miss, leading up to John Hooker, a key founder of Connecticut:

"The principle of individual freedom must first be established securely in the public mind, and to that business the party of Independents devoted its energies. In the theory and practice of Independency two fundamental rights were implied: the right of the individual to determine his own belief, uncoerced by external authority; and the right to join freely with his fellows in the institutional expression and spread of such belief. In order to realize the first, it was a necessary preliminary to establish the right of free inquiry on a firm constitutional basis-the principle that the state shall safeguard the citizen in the exercise of such right, and not hinder or thwart him; and in order to realize the second, it was necessary to establish in social practice a much more fiercely disputed principle, namely, the right to proselytize, to spread one's views freely, to endeavor to make them prevail over contrary views."

Also worth noting is the Original Connecticut Compact, a good fifty years before John Locke put the ideas into Reasoned print, in his Two Treatises on Gov't.

(and of course, there's the fully referenced line by line examination of the U.S. Constitution at The Founders Constitution, hosted by the University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund)

7/15/2008 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "What there is is a statement that congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a state (meaning federal) religion. It certainly didn't forbid state governments from being as religious as they like"

Correctamundo.
(aaaaa little Fonzie lingo there)

7/15/2008 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Bye the way, GBob, I have no quarrel at all with the idea that the significant presence of principled and religious people in our society benefits all of us. However, as a non-Christian and deeply principled person myself, I have a problem with the idea that I would have to conform to specifically Christian forms of worship in order to get all the benefits of living in the USA.

I worship in my own way, which includes often happily singing overtly Christian music and saying the Lord's Prayer daily (though I omit the last Protestant statement in it). But I also chant Sanskrit Mantra and utilize a certain very old ritual related to Taoism.

I am not the only guy born and raised in the USA who would object to an overtly Christian government.

7/15/2008 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

christopher said "...as a non-Christian and deeply principled person myself, I have a problem with the idea that I would have to conform to specifically Christian forms of worship in order to get all the benefits of living in the USA."

As a non-Christian and deeply principled person myself, who recites no prayers on any regular basis... I find that that worry, fear and assertion seems to come from non-Christian and anti-Christian, not from Christians, and certainly not from any commonly held principles of the Founders. A recognition of the pre-eminence of Christianity among the Founders and in America today, is in no way a threat to your personal idiosyncrasies - unless you are intent on finding them in 'the facts as you know them'.

7/15/2008 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Dennis Prager had a wonderful guest on yesterday, Natan Sharansky, talking about his new book, Defending Identiy: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy. He makes a convincing case that if we ever lose our Judeo-Christian identity, we are doomed. I agree entirely. I don't want to live in a country with secular or Buddhist values, but with the values upon which the nation was founded. I really don't like the way Buddhist countries are run, unless they have imported Western values, as in the case of Japan.

7/15/2008 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous son of a preacher man said...

Also, being the preverbal "backslidin" Christian, I concur with Van.

7/15/2008 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Lance said "On a different note wasn't the separation of church and state concept one that was intended to stop there from being a state mandated church with some kind of king figure at the head much like the church of England was. Also isn't it worthwhile to note the religious differences between the initial founders of America?"

Hey Lance, good to see you. As Gagdad noted above, 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...' meant the Federal Gov't shall do nothing of the kind, aside from the fact that a few states did have state religions, the modern disinterpretation of their intent, is shear lunacy (read prevarication). And, yes, a little look into... oh say the origins of Pennsylvania and Maryland alone, will show religious differences between the Founders founders, and the Founders themselves... but that didn't lead them to think the Fed Gov't should in any way exclude religion, they just didn't want the Fed telling particular states how, or whether, to worship.

7/15/2008 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Shroomster, that's gotta give you excellent

c
8
n

vision

7/15/2008 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

GBob, as a man born and raised in the USA I agree with you. I too would rather we keep basic Christian values here. I don't think I have to worry that much about it because as I noted, there is significant Christian church growth in certain locations.

However, I will also admit that my preference it is at least in part a feature of indoctrination and that many of these values are not intrinsic to the Truth. I lived two years in Bangladesh, 1967-69, and while I am glad to be American, I also woke up to the wider world, including some of the valid criticisms of America. One thing that surely happens is that we tend to "ghetto-ize" in truly foreign climes and the natives notice.

7/15/2008 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Christopher,

"I am not the only guy born and raised in the USA who would object to an overtly Christian government."

If you think that anyone here thinks Christianity should be compulsory in any way, shape or form, you have completely misunderstood the original point and the subsequent arguments.

My point was about culture, society and tradition. It is a simple fact that when the majority of a population holds Judeo-Christian values - not just a belief in God, but in free will, personal responsibility, charitable giving, the Golden Rule and the rule of law, to name a few examples, that population is likely going to be happier and more successful than a society steeped in fatalism or nihilism. To see what happens when a nation loses its Judeo-Christian values, one only has to look to England as an easy example, but the evidence is everywhere. You don't even have to leave the US - just look at San Francisco.

7/15/2008 02:16:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Julie, we have no contest, I left the Bay Area to move to Oregon in 1973.

7/15/2008 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This is again why I am deeply opposed to the "integralists" who imagine that they are "evolutionary" when their rejection of tradition is entirely retrograde and appeals mostly to college kids (of any age) and numbskulls. We would end up with a nation of Deepak Chopras, who enjoy freedom but would never fight for it, and who in fact have contempt for those who do.

Same problem with the radical scientolatry and anti-intellectualism of an LGF. Again, it's a battle on two fronts.

7/15/2008 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ximeze... cool alpha-omega on the 'coon
there!

7/15/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

And here's a free will experiment report...

http://www.csom.umn.edu/assets/91974.pdf

7/15/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "...that population is likely going to be happier and more successful than a society steeped in fatalism or nihilism..."

That fatalistic idea of "God Willing", is noted as being a key reason for the Iraqi's, and particularly the Iraqi armies, backwardness, in " God Willing: My Wild Ride with the New Iraqi Army" by USMCR, Capt. Eric Navarro. Looks like is his talk on Book TV is still available online.

7/15/2008 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ximeze... cool alpha-omega on the 'coon there... must be an in8 characteristic of the species.


:-P

7/15/2008 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Erasmus, yes determinism is a dismantling of Reason and necessarily a deadening of the soul. Once you remove not only the idea of your having any choice about your life, but 'you' from your decisions, no sense of a vertical self can long remain.

See our nagInteOy trolls for running examples.

(Sooner or later I'll put that my post up on that on my site... my dog ate my htmlwork)

7/15/2008 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

determinism = soulicide

7/15/2008 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

From time to time, new facets of the jewels of Indra's net shine forth. Every Tradition has a time before which it was not on the planet. The Perennial Philosophy was that which Schuon championed. Concerning that glory he respectfully insisted that each of the Traditions had a view of Truth as understood from within the Tradition. Presumably there are still has unenvisioned facets. The final True place of the Traditions is probably not fixed, nor indeed does one of necessity surpass another. All can be criticized from the outside, as Schuon asserted flatly. If that place outside has a "within" with a view of Truth, then a new Tradition may be born.

How shall we recognize such a thing? How often has the beginnings of such a thing risen and fallen in the hidden history of man? Why is it necessarily so that God will protect a faith against the vicissitudes of the planet, especially when there are more than several around already?

Who shall fight for the new faith, but the new followers? Who fights for Christianity but Christians?

Please do not lump people into us and them. Or at least only do it in the shooting wars where it is psychologically appropriate becauses it is time to kill. Otherwise understanding the Perennial Philosophy should in fact create responsibility to the body of ALL believers (as I already know Schuon held to) of whatever Tradition if not the whole of mankind.

7/15/2008 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Well, for starters, while I learn from Schuon, I am not a "disciple," nor do I consider him infallible.

As for the rest of your comment, I often have difficulty understanding your point. What's wrong with being concise and precise? In other words, first determine exactly what you want to say, and then dress it up in the linguistic extravagances if you still feel it necessary.

7/15/2008 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

In other words, Raccoons are a "plain speaking" folk, occasional appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

7/15/2008 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

(Whew - so it's not just me...)

7/15/2008 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Erasmus said...

I'm pretty sure that Haiti has the same problem with fatalism.

7/15/2008 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob lists some categories of trolls, but he forgot one..the professional. I troll because that's what I do, and I'm good at it.

Any given doctrine can be nipped and tucked into better shape by judicious trolling, which boils down to constructive criticism.

Think of a remora fish on a ray, plucking off parasites, or of a pack of wolves culling weak caribou from a herd.

It is a Darwinian process but applied to ideas instead of animals.

Think QA, think quality control. Any ideology that passes through this blog gets my scrutiny.

It has to cohere to the family of ideas into which it is to take its place. It must fit in to the prevailing doctrine.

It must pass muster of the test "Does it promote healthiness, happiness, and balance?"

If not, then it must be pushed on.

I don't care about the particulars of Bob's doctrine, just the "shape" of it. The overall mass of its verbiage must be rendered beautiful and symmetrical, and the rough burrs sanded off. It is an art-form.

Bob is out of whack in the areas of unity and equality. He has high scores in sincerity and surrender.

Nothing personal.

7/15/2008 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

christopher said "...The final True place of the Traditions is probably not fixed, nor indeed does one of necessity surpass another. All can be criticized from the outside, as Schuon asserted flatly. If that place outside has a "within" with a view of Truth, then a new Tradition may be born. "

I think I was actually following you through your first paragraph, but you kinda went to pieces after that.

"How shall we recognize such a thing? How often has the beginnings of such a thing risen and fallen in the hidden history of man? Why is it necessarily so that God will protect a faith against the viciss..."

I think Phil Gramm was recently speaking to that way of speaking.

I wonder if you're confusing the Truth of a particular religion with the appropriatness of its associated practices for the culture and its time. There are doubtless many horizontal practices associated with Religions from the early fertility cults, on up to the present, which would be inappropriate (for instance "Bring back the foreskins of the enemy..." doesn't fit well with modernity) outside their cultures and times, while the Truth of them (assuming there was some) remains valid.

There were and even are associated customs and practices of Buddhism, etc, which, taken literaly, are not appropriate for modern life. Period. That doesn't lessen or invalidate the Truth itself, only that method of expression. To paraphrase Baba Rama Rumsfeld, "A Religon goes into practice with the people its got."

Once a particular Truth becomes more clearly understood and expressed in the culture, those practices must upgrade from horizontal instruction, to Vertiphorical understanding. Or die away. A light reading of the Old Testament can pop up many examples of where the Judeo/Christian traditions have done just that ... if you have trouble thinking of any, consult Mssr's Harris, Hitchens or Dawkins, who will gladly point out what they flatly don't understand.

"How shall we recognize such a thing?"

The short answer is that those within a dated and calcified culture, won't. They won't witness, recognize, or admit it. wahabislambies being a case in point.

If they don't catch up with the cultures that are no longer mired in prehistoric times, that have already realized the truth scale practices of that religion in the common everyday world, then they will soon go the way of the old fertility cults, and if they don't moderate their practices, they will end up passing into history in probably a similar fashion as the old cults did - via rivers of their own blood.

7/15/2008 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

ayawnymous said "... Bob lists some categories of trolls, but he forgot one..the professional..."

I'm sure you're paid what you're worth.

7/15/2008 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Van,

Maybe not so much passing into history in much rivers of their own blood as lost in Las Vegas, broke, but with a comped room, and married to someone they met twelve hours ago.

7/15/2008 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Professional troll:

Short of becoming a Marxist and voting for Obama, what would your advice be for pursuing unity and equality?

My sense is that you're confusing "unity" with "totalitarianism" and "equality" with income redistribution, or "envy in action."

7/15/2008 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Anonymous 05:05:00,

Can you please call yourself QA Troll or something? You'll be needing Van to quality check your quality checking. "Anonymous" is so 20th century.

7/15/2008 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

;-)

7/15/2008 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Troll. It's time to disabuse you of a misconception or two.
You are not necessary.
You are not amusing.
You contribute nothing of value.
You are the drunk at the wedding.
The heckler at a Vegas show.
The ant swarm on the kitchen counter.
The loud stereo in the next campsite.
You are the guy who thinks a little extra cologne will cover for not bathing.
The same guy who wants to make sure you can hear rap on his car stereo three blocks away.
The cell phone at the movies.
The tailgater in the SUV.
The tagger with his spray can.
You are flatulence in the elevator.
You are the line at the DMV.
The fender bender at rush hour.
The insect in the salad.
The litter on the beach.
You are a mosquito.
I'll give you one thing. You're clever. That and a dime will get you ten cents worth of something.
Please go be clever somewhere else.

JWM

7/15/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

You are LaFayette in my ice box!

7/15/2008 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

But clever?

JWM, you're getting soft.

7/15/2008 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Dang! I picked a bad day to be out of town!

(I know, Van; you needn't say it!)

7/15/2008 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Wow, you missed a major rhubarb between Dupree and LaFayette about some stolen beer and a purloined bicycle. I don't want to get involved, but I suspect there will be fireworks later.... If they don't get in by 10:00, I'm locking them both out....

7/15/2008 07:06:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Dupree:
See Confucius on the clever...
Maybe Van can get a quote from Waley. I can't find the book just now.

JWM

7/15/2008 07:06:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Ahhhh, I get it. Nudge nudge, wink wink.

7/15/2008 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous reverse psychologist said...

Don’t listen to ‘em, Troll. You're funny and you don't give me the creeps at all. Please stay.

(RR)

7/15/2008 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm guessing Lafayette will be walking funny in the morning...

7/15/2008 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

...just saw Lafayette passed out south end up at the tattoo parlor with Dupree flipping through the pattern book, a look of glee on his face.

I called a taxi. Make that 2 taxis.

7/15/2008 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous LaFayette said...

You're a couple of real comedians.

7/15/2008 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos of more serious discussion, this is an interesting article (Via Vanderleun's sidebar), demonstrating once again what happens when Judeo-Christian values and a culture based on faith are replaced by rabid secularism.

***

Tattoos, huh? Foolish Lafayette - if he's not careful, he might wake up one of these days with some extra dimensions added to his ink...

7/15/2008 09:46:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Ho! ... ask LaFayette what "Andrew Sullivan Was Here" means.

7/15/2008 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Heh - okay, I'll bite. What does it mean, Lafayette? (Cuz it sounds pretty scary to me, or at least it would be if I were male ;)

7/15/2008 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

JWM,

Was it this one?

Clever talk and a pretentious
manner are seldom found in
good people.

-- Confucius

7/15/2008 10:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Troll Betting: What's the over/under on the number of posts before a troll undermines his own argument ?

"Bob is out of whack in the areas of unity and equality. " - a non-unifying and non-equalizing statement if ever I heard one.

Question: Are all trolls here male?

7/15/2008 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous highschool jock said...

you were all geeks in school, yes?

7/16/2008 12:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Johan said...

Some late notes about free will..

Well, science is all about looking for laws and finding (material/physic) causes. That’s the simple reason why science (of today at least) will never produce any evidence or proof of the free will. It simply cannot. The scientific method can only find that which points to determinism, because determinism is in the very center of the strictly scientific view of the world. The seekers of the laws of the universe will never "find" that which does not have a law.

So the question is, does freedom follow any laws? To state that it does looks like one huge contradiction to me.

Or to paraphrase Bob's about logic and truth - "does something work because it has a law, or has it a law because it works"?

Maybe freedom doesn't "work", it simply "is". Or rather, freedom is the "space" between that which is...

7/16/2008 01:40:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Johan - Science isn't inherently 'deterministic'. Non-determinism is accepted in Quantum Mechanics, because it's been demonstrated.

7/16/2008 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

A reflection on the history of "separation of church and state" in the U.S. around the Founder's time: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0604.waldman.html

"Indeed, the one group that would almost certainly oppose the views of 21st-century evangelicals are the 18th-century evangelicals."

(Not calling anyone here 'evangelical' or otherwise, it's just an interesting point.)

7/16/2008 05:48:00 AM  
Anonymous ersamus said...

highschool jock,

Not so much a geek as son of the superintendent.

When the principal and teachers are ultimately overseen by your father, high school is different.

7/16/2008 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

ray,
Regarding Free Will, Volitional Choice; indeterminism and determinism are both in opposition to it. To say that you have no free will because all you do is determined by events other than 'choice', or that you have no free will, because all you do is just a matter of random chance, is still to say that you have no Free Will, Volitional Choice.

7/16/2008 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Hey there mister linky, gotta a functioning link to your evangelical article? Considering the fact that most of the modern world has forgotten or evades what the founding generation knew, the premise is somewhat less than surprising - what would be surprising, would be to find that the article identifies anything actually relevant or of substance regarding the issues.

7/16/2008 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Van - The link works for me, if you select it, but here you go. Also, you could always Google for the phrase that I quoted from the article, with the enclosing quotes.

And in terms of free will, I might as well provide you with another link. It's not quite the same topic, but the first paragraph sums up my attitude pretty well. I wasn't claiming that free will was random chance, I was just pointing out that science is not inherently 'deterministic' as was claimed.

7/16/2008 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Johan said...

Ray:
I think you get my point anyway.

7/16/2008 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

ray said "I was just pointing out that science is not inherently 'deterministic' as was claimed."

Ya know, I was actually hoping that that wasn't the point your were trying to make. So you're saying that science doesn't really approach investigation and experimentation based on a clear chain of events and deductions... but instead sometimes just randomly and for utterly inexplicable or predictible reasons, just begins mixing stuff and zapping stuff?!

Come off it... I begin to think that you deliberatly miss peoples points just to provoke us... no one could really be that daft.

I don't have time for it this moring, but your 'free will' explanation is philosophicaly unacceptable. To be agnostic on the subject, is little different than proclaiming that there is no such thing, and will inevitably lead to the disasters of a deterministic mindset.

7/17/2008 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Van - Actually, you missed my point. All I was saying is that science has demonstrated the ability to accept, and work with, even phenomena that aren't deterministic. That's all I meant by science not being 'deterministic' - in scare quotes - as Johan said.

Indeed, I've noted before a potential test that would scientifically demonstrate a soul, or at least that something was going on in the brain not accounted for by current theory. Indeed, such an observation must, in principle, be possible if there are souls anything like they are posited.

7/17/2008 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray, the point is that your point misses the point. I don't think that Science discovering, through deliberate and rigorous steps, that there are results it will not be able to precisely determine in advance, quite qualifies as painting science as being willing to behave in a non-deterministic fashion, or refutes the idea that its modern conception is centered around a deterministic view of the world.

And in the context of what Johan wrote about free will:"...Well, science is all about looking for laws and finding (material/physic) causes. That’s the simple reason why science (of today at least) will never produce any evidence or proof of the free will. It simply cannot. The scientific method can only find that which points to determinism, because determinism is in the very center of the strictly scientific view of the world..."

I don't see how your comment sheds any additional light to that, undermines his point, or even shows that "... science is not inherently 'deterministic' as was claimed.".

"science has demonstrated the ability to accept, and work with, even phenomena that aren't deterministic. That's all I meant by science not being 'deterministic' "

Science has, and has from the beginning, had to accept and work with data and processes it couldn't explain, but that is not nearly the same thing as "not being 'deterministic'", you're really equivocating on determinism, and it just doesn't fit.

(You could perhaps apply your link to Johan's "The seekers of the laws of the universe will never "find" that which does not have a law.", but that is fairly widely beside the point of his comment on determinism and free will... and besides, Bells Theorem practically amounts to (or aspires to being) a law itself.)

P.S. I see in full page view your original link was complete, but in comment view, which I normally use, it's clipped off.

Re Your experiment to test for the existence of a soul... my guess is that it is unlikely to ever be practicable (I doubt there are 'transmission towers' or their equivalents in the body, but that's just my unsupportable supposition), and more likely to be only go in the same way as your earlier link (last week?) on experiments 'proving' that the brain tricks us into thinking we have free will, by arriving at answers before our realization of them.

7/17/2008 09:40:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home