Friday, July 10, 2009

Saving the World, One Assoul at a Time

I'd like to try to complete my thoughts on Sherrard before moving on. The last chapter is entitled The Renewal of the Tradition of Contemplative Spirituality, and I think the ideas it espouses are only critical to the future survival of mankind. Put it this way: only the United States can save the world. In turn, only a renewal of classical liberal conservatism can save the United States. But only Christianity can save conservative liberalism -- including from Republicans.

But what will save Christianity? It sounds odd to say it, but it seems that Christianity is as much in need of salvation as its adherents. After all, one routinely reads in the MSM that Barack Obama is a "committed Christian." As are Al Sharpton, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter. If that is the case, then there is obviously something wrong with Christianity -- or at least how it is commonly understood. There is something scandalous about a theology that is so elastic that people with polar opposite values can claim to adhere to it.

So we have to resolve that problem, and the best way to do so is to return to a more interior understanding of Christianity, as originally intended. Anyone can go through the motions and pretend to be Christian. But as John reminds us, one thing you can't hide is when you're crippled inside.

As mentioned a few posts back, Sherrard begins with the idea that "to know oneself may be said to be a condition of knowing God." But "if one cannot know God without knowing oneself, one also cannot know oneself without knowing God." Therefore, "to be ignorant of oneself is to fail to achieve an authentic human life." But equally, "to be ignorant of God is to fail to achieve an authentic human life."

Thus, we are far beyond -- or beneath or behind -- issues of dogma. Rather, we are into the realms of psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. But not for their own sake. Rather, each of these disciplines specifically bears on spirit. Detached from spirit -- from God -- they have absolutely no intrinsic meaning whatsoever. They are just mind games.

Even on secular grounds, how could one ever claim to understand "reality" without understanding the nature of the knower? Let's take the mundane example of the Darwinian fundamentalist who blindly insists that everything is reducible to the random copying errors of natural selection. Fine. But tell me now, who -- or what -- is speaking? What in your philosophy permits random error to result in this thing you call "truth"? And what is the relationship between truth and the copying error you claim to be?

As you can see, Darwinism results in an "impossible" psychology and therefore an impossible mankind. The problem is, it explains everything on one level at the cost of unexplaining -- destroying, really -- every autonomous level above it.

It's the same with Marxism in all its varieties, including the crypto-Marxism of Dear Leader. In explaining history, it unexplains psychology, economics, religion, and pretty much everything else. It results in a worthless man -- worthless to himself, to God, and to other men -- as history proves again and again. And if America cannot save the world from Marxism, we will have a world of worthless men -- either infrahuman or "all too human," depending upon how you look at it.

America's founders knew that man only derived his value by virtue of his relationship to the Absolute. This is a fine example of how metaphysics -- the eternal science -- is enfolded in religion. For to see -- and it is a seeing, not a mere "knowing" -- that men are endowed by their Creator with life and liberty is to affirm that life and liberty have an absolute and infinite value. They are "unalienable." Anything short of this makes our rights quite alienable indeed, meaning, among other things, that we can surrender them to liberals for cash and other valuable prizes.

But like it or not, man is "condemned to the Absolute," and with it, to the infinite and eternal. Our intrinsic rights are not to be understood in some postmodern ultra-individualistic manner, as if liberty -- or life, or truth, or beauty -- could ever be detached from its divine source. Rather, the Creator is the source and therefore end of our liberty. To fail to understand this is to not know what a Christian is or what an American is. Period. Anything short of this is a perversion of truth. Man is free because he is potentially Truth + Will, or "truth in action."

But truth is only possible in light of the Absolute. In the absence of the Absolute there is only relativity and therefore no freedom, only a kind of "eternal lostness" that the left conflates with freedom. Such a man has no right to exist, being that rights can only be grounded in the Absolute, and this grounding carries with it certain responsibilities. Or, one could say that he is "responsible for Nothing," the ontological nothingness in which he is situated.

Let's return to the principles enunciated in the first paragraph before this post spins out of control. If it is true that only Christianity can save conservative liberalism, only individual self-knowledge can save Christianity. In a certain paradoxical manner -- about which we will have more to say later -- only man can "save" God. After all, God cannot -- or will not -- force you to believe. And if one can only know God interiorly, it is ultimately the colonization of our own interior space that will "save the world."

I don't know if that last claim sounds extravagant, but I take it quite literally. For the analytically informed psychologist, it is simply a truism that what is not known will be acted out. Thus, the less personal insight one possesses, the more likely one is to act out one's mind parasites in a pathological, impulsive, aggressive, sexual, envious, greedy, and/or self-defeating manner. This is why the Raccoon credo is Saving the world, one assoul at a time. You, of course, are the assoul.

Well, that didn't get far. To be continued.....

32 Comments:

Blogger Caprice said...

Thank you, Bob

7/10/2009 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

One Assoul's Opinion (i.e. customer feedback):
The post has a kind of "summary quality" to it, and has the feeling of the introduction to ... a future book, perhaps?


Now as stated before, I came to OC without any background in Christianity, other than impressions picked up from the culture. So a Big Question for me has been, "What is it?" Along with all the cosmology and connections, you hit on a key paradox facing a newbie:

There is something scandalous about a theology that is so elastic that people with polar opposite values can claim to adhere to it.

Thanks for including this in the equation. I have long felt that psychology is a crucial element in understanding and reconciling the scandal -- if only for oneself -- and you are uniquely qualified to investigate this.

Now we are to "save God," eh? A worthy task!

7/10/2009 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"As mentioned a few posts back, Sherrard begins with the idea that "to know oneself may be said to be a condition of knowing God." But "if one cannot know God without knowing oneself, one also cannot know oneself without knowing God." Therefore, "to be ignorant of oneself is to fail to achieve an authentic human life." But equally, "to be ignorant of God is to fail to achieve an authentic human life.""

And it has been the same conundrum since Delphi's "Know thyself"... the one who thinks that means just knowing yourself, will also think they are quite competent to know everything else - and probably will be fairly certain that they already do; and like Oedipus, will think that there is nothing more to gno about the clue than words of the clue state, and will dash off thinking they've just solved how to avoid murdering their Father and marrying their Mother - only to immediately murder his Father, and then marry his Mother.

Just as true understanding is a never ending excursion into the depths, anything which flatly presents itself as "the answer" is gonna lead to trouble.

Not surprisingly, if your answer doesn't at least touch on providing three perspectives, you'll lose your depth perception. Knowing Thyself, must mean not only knowing your own self, but must also include knowing what you are one of many selves Of, and gnoing how to dance the spiraling relation between your one and The One.

wv's trying to tell me something. 1st was 'dicold', 2nd is 'preptile'.

7/10/2009 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous lending tree said...

"There is something scandalous about a theology that is so elastic that people with polar opposite values can claim to adhere to it."

On the other hand, their is also something scandalous about a "theology" that is so elastic that it can claim Sherrard and Godwin--polar opposites if there ever were ones.

Sherrard:
Critic of modern science and the modern world
traditional
Lived without modern conveniences
Friend of Wendell Berry
Orthodox Christian
Friend to a number of Muslims and Buddhists

Godwin:
Lover of modernity (except where it conflicts with his agenda)
Hater of tradition--all premodern peoples
Considers Wendell Berry a moonbat
Devotee of Aurobindo the Mother--so far
Despises Islam and makes fun of Buddhism

7/10/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Our intrinsic rights are not to be understood in some postmodern ultra-individualistic manner, as if liberty -- or life, or truth, or beauty -- could ever be detached from their divine source. Rather, the Creator is the source and therefore end of our liberty. To fail to understand this is to not know what a Christian is or what an American is. Period. Anything short of this is a perversion of truth. Man is free because he is potentially Truth + Will, or "truth in action.""

That’s a keeper alright, and to deny it “… one could say that he is "responsible for Nothing," the ontological nothingness in which he is situated.”. As Coolidge said:
"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers. "

And in opposition to that understanding we've got goons, claiming to be defending "America" and its sole founding document, the "Constitution", which is somehow thought to be whole, complete and capable of being understood and applied with nothing more than a Websters dictionary.

ASStounding. Such people have not only no idea of what the Constitution is, but no idea of what America is, and even less idea of who they themselves are.

(Ricky, you might get a painful laugh out of this guy Garmon. I popped in on Amazon's discussion list for Levin's "Liberty and Tyranny" this weekend to see if it was any improvement over the nolife that filled the "Liberal Fascism" lists. Nope. There's this Garmon guy, a 'history and divinity' major, hyping his own book claiming not only what I just mentioned, but that according to Webster's dictionary, the only people that should be referred to as 'Founding Fathers' are those 55 at the constitutional convention.

Adams? Nope, out. Jefferson? Nope, out. Natural Law? Nope, out. "Nature's God" Ya kiddin' me?! Nope. out.I haven't seen such an example of someone demanding that there be no consideration of any depth in anything before. Flat words, or no words.)

7/10/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Gagdad Bob said...

Critic of modern science and the modern world: check
traditional: check
Lived without modern conveniences: define "modern"
Friend of Wendell Berry: never heard of him
Orthodox Christian: I tust my readers to correct me when I'm not
Friend to a number of Muslims and Buddhists: check

7/10/2009 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Looks like lendingtree didn't get its bailout.

7/10/2009 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Lending tree--no bailout said...

Bob said: "The main point I would emphasize is that all religions, in my view, must be reconsidered in light of the sort of cosmic evolutionary paradigm outlined in my book or by people like Ken Wilber. With regard to the East, this has been most ably and exhaustively enunciated by Sri Aurobindo, who had the benefit of a Cambridge education and integrated Vedanta with the modern world. In the West, virtually the identical task was achieved by Teilhard de Chardin, whose Phenomenon of Man situated Christianity within a cosmic evolutionary scheme."

Suffice it to say, Sherrard would vomit at these notions. Check.

7/10/2009 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> it seems that Christianity is as much in need of salvation as its adherents

This is very true, but only of Christianity in the modern West. The Faith is quite healthy in places like South America, Africa, China, etc. If the Spirit wills, I hope that someday they will come and re-convert us to Christianity (already starting to happen, actually).

7/10/2009 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Lending Tree:

I've written many times of how the traditionalists would not approve of my use of their ideas, any more than the vast majority of Christians approve of the traditionalists' use of theirs. For example, I wouldn't say that Balthasar would vomit at Guenon or Schuon -- he wasn't so brittle as that -- but he would unambiguously reject their interpretations of Christianity.

7/10/2009 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous lending tree said...

Warren,
So true. I think in part, though, most non-Western Christians don't have the problem of equating their political fundaments with their religious ones, whereas, in America, you find people saying things like, the only hope for the world is the United States, and such nonsensical claims.
This isn't to malign the United States--quite the contrary--but simply to point out that the Christian tradition has no absolute need for it, nor do its adherants. Obviously, it can serve its purposes, as can any country/political realm.
Indeed, the whole notion of "saving the world" is folly at its starting point. Reminds one of Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush, actually, making the world safe for democracy, and taking democracy to the world, etc--folly indeed!

7/10/2009 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Van,
I nearly spilled my tea. Hopefully I’ll recover.
But before I do, how does he know they weren’t there?

7/10/2009 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I agree with Scipio

'The most earth shaking event in secular world history was the creation of the United States of America. It was quite literally “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Nothing like it had ever come about. From the start she presented to the world a frightening thing, the possibility that the citizens of a nation might actually control the levers of power in a state. If she succeeded she would become a “dangerous nation” and a threat to tyranny around the world. Thus the hatred that European nations had for the new nation. None of them even believed that the US could possibly survive. It was a good thing for them that she did.

'The United States did indeed become a dangerous nation—dangerous to tyrants, that is. Here is a list of nations freed by her—and some of these were freed more than once: France, Germany, Norway, Finland, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Algeria, Morocco, Romania, Kosovo, Panama, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Denmark, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Montenegro, New Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand, Greece, Tunisia, Ukraine, Albania, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Libya, Korea, Japan, Italy.

'As a comparison, take a look at some of the players upon the stage of the world who are in the news today -- China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela. How many nations have they freed? None. And why should they free any nations? They are not in the business of freedom. They are in the business of slavery.'

*****

Bottom line -- there are really only two kinds of countries in the world: those whose asses we saved, and those whose asses we kicked. And two kinds of people: those who know it, and those who deny it for whatever crazy reason.

7/10/2009 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous lending tree said...

Christian's not approving Traditionalists is from want of understanding. Traditionalists not approving Godwin is from deep understanding.
Sherrard, is, however, a different point of view, still. He is not strictly a traditionalist, but an Orthodox Christian with traditionalist leanings. He and Balthasar would likely approve of each other.

7/10/2009 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, Christians just don't understand that Islam and Christianity are of equal value. How ignorant of them!

7/10/2009 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“None of them even believed that the US could possibly survive.”

I would add that “The Founders” (who?) had no idea, no guarantee; that they could do what they did. Everything told them, all of history: this. will. not. work. Even if it had been done before, the odds were shockingly against them based on their resources compared to their oppressor's.

7/10/2009 01:28:00 PM  
Anonymous lending tree said...

So American to rush to her defense when no one is even criticizing. And, of course, to end by saying, those who don't agree are crazy!

No one is arguing against the benign effects on the world of America, but simply Christianity's absolute need for it. God will find a way. Clearly, based on the morality of America's people, it's legacy is ambiguous to say the least.

7/10/2009 01:28:00 PM  
Anonymous lending tree said...

I would wager you could not find the word "equality" regarding religions in the writings of Schuon and Guenon.

Nonetheless, if you must, yes, it is ignorance. To be ignorant and not know it is no crime, however, and no traditionalist would criticize that. To persist in ignorance in the face of overwhelming evidence, is, however, a sin.

7/10/2009 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous lending tree said...

Finally got these damn comments up beyond 5.

7/10/2009 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Now you're just being willfully obtuse. I never said that America would save Christianity, but the precise opposite. But I'll let you have the last word.

7/10/2009 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Lending tree said...

Obtuse?!
How would you like to spend a month in the hole?

7/10/2009 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just want to clear up a few possible misunderstandings promulgated by LT. First, not all traditionalists vomit at the thought of Aurobindo, e.g., Jean Biès; second, that many of my favorite Christians have kind words for Aurobindo, including Valentin Tomberg, Swami Abhishiktananda, and Beatrice Bruteau; and third, that I consider myself more Christian than Aurobindean, although still hard at work on the Bridge, a la Abhishiktananda. The book I recently completed on Gregory Palamas elaborates many possible points of contact that I have discussed in the past.

7/10/2009 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous bob f. said...

"And in opposition to that understanding we've got goons, claiming to be defending "America" and its sole founding document, the "Constitution", which is somehow thought to be whole, complete and capable of being understood and applied with nothing more than a Websters dictionary."
Thus spake Van

There is a lot to be gotten from reading the Constitution many times, and checking that dictionary once in a while. Law school is a trade school; lawyers do not learn what the Constitution says; they learn what the Supremes say it says. Been there, done that, boring. So a few years ago I decided to just read the document and see what happened; sitting zen with the Constitution.
I still didn't have a good sense of what the document was and what it meant after reading it many times (just the important parts, like Art. I, Sect. 8)...until I read the Preamble.
The federal govt has only those powers granted to it by the people, who are the only source of all goverment power; therefore, if we do not possess a power as individuals, the government cannot possess it, which is why most of what the govt does is illegal, i.e., not granted by the Constitution.
Let me point out a couple of oddities I found by just reading the document.
First, it grants to the fed power of naturalization of immigrants, but says nothing about immigration. Therefore immigration is reserved to the States (see Amendment 10).
Second, the document enumerates three criminal powers granted to Congress, counterfeiting, felonies and piracies committed on the high seas, and treason.
Given the express grant of three criminal powers, there cannot be any others within the original document.
Nothing practical in these, but they do indicate how far we've come from the original vision.
The Supreme Court is the Papacy of the Constitution; consider adopting sola scriptura as your guide.

7/10/2009 03:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

Bob's the shrink here, but even I can see the thick passive-aggressive branch in this tree.

7/10/2009 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's not really so passive. The traditionalists can be quite totalitarian, not to mention cultish.

7/10/2009 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Bob F. said "Law school is a trade school; lawyers do not learn what the Constitution says; they learn what the Supremes say it says."

Friends, racoon's, countremen, lend me your ears:
I've said it before, I'll say it again, if you want to know and/or defend your constitution, your nation, your liberty, follow these links and pass them on!

The Founders Constitution, hosted by the by The University of Chicago and the Liberty Fund (which includes the Online Library of Liberty, one of the greatest free libraries, online or otherwise), and if you want to see the constitution for the first time or in a new light, I'm telling ya'll, read it here.

For instance, if you scroll down that contents page a bit, to the Preamble, there are 21 links there, from snippets to full documents, that give the background information and perspective that the Founding Fathers had in their minds regarding the Preamble when they debated, wrote, ratified (usually including the relevant Federalist and anti-Federalist papers, as here, Madison, Brutus & Patrick Henry) and later applied by early presidents and re-examined and explained how it was being implemented and interpreted by those who still understood it (Justice Joseph Story's commentaries on teh constitution are outstanding).

Indexes contains several ways of slicing and dicing the site, such as Index of Authors and Documents, which links or lists key documents by key figures of the times,

Index of Cases, which links to passages of key court cases that either established precedents, or from historic judgments which influenced how the first cases were judged

Index of Constitutional Provisions

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 6 which seems to be on Bob F.'s mind, dealing with Counterfeiting coins and securities.

Aliens & Citizenship... it is and incredibly valuable resource.

Those of you with your own blogs, or email lists, please, especially with the situation we are in today, publish this one, promote it. If We The People, don't understand what we have, and why... there will be no improvement, as a people, or a nation and I'll garauntee you, reading the linked information will help you to 'Know thyself', because as the Founders knew, to govern at all, you had to first be capable of governing yourself.

7/10/2009 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(Keep in mind the name "The Founder's Constitution", it only covers up to the first 12 amendments.)

7/10/2009 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

And to wrap that up a bit, Atlas has a link well suited for Gagdad, Coltrane: Wise One.

mmmmmmaaaAhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmoOo.......

7/10/2009 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Wow. Whatta great feast for all us hungry assouls, Bob!
Thanks!

Van-
Excellent suggestion! I put your comment and a link to Bob's post on my sidebar, 'cause well, I'm an assoul, and you assouls relly nailed it! Well said! :^)

7/10/2009 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

A wee bit OT, but irt the AI idiots out there, we do in fact have AI.
We call them lefties, demorats, rinos, anarchasses, socialists, commies, fascists, tyrants, bureaurats, and any assorted
ass ho's I might've missed.

Of course, listing the disasterous results of what these AI-ho's have done (and wanna do) would be tedious.
It's no wonder that they wanna create robots n' 'puters that are just like them. They wanna justify their eekgo's and bring "meanin'" to their miserable lives.
Kinda funny, 'cause they are clueless as to what justice n' meanin' is, and yet they are determined to have it.

Don't try to sail without a sail.
Skully wizdum #42.

7/10/2009 08:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, your views on the world situation seem solid. I doubt few would contest them.

On the detail level, what constitutes an "assoul" that has been saved? What saved it? What were the consequences of being saved? What kind of changes were wrought? Then what happened?

I would like to hear testimony in that vein.

7/10/2009 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

"Let's return to the principles enunciated in the first paragraph before this post spins out of control."

Or becomes a book discussing a new American renaissance, tracing its source back to the founding Springs. ;*)

7/10/2009 10:11:00 PM  

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