Monday, November 22, 2010

Word War I and the Battle for the Bridge

Of the basis of religion, Birzer writes that it is rooted in "the recognition of a superhuman Reality of which man is somehow conscious and towards which he must in some way orientate his life" (all subsequent quotes are from the same book).

Thus, if man is the bridge that spans the ontological ocean between matter and spirit, then religion is the perennial clueprint that encodes the engineering principles, so to speak, of this bridge building innerprize. Conversely, if the radical secularists are correct, then man is just another bridge to nowhere.

Far from being an "opiate for the masses," it is modern secular ideologies "which serve as nothing more than addictive drugs for decadent and lost peoples." Most perniciously, they still treat man as a bridge, except that he becomes a bridge between the way things are and the way our elites would like them to be. In short, he becomes a bridge between big government and bigger government -- or between the powerful state and the omnipotent one. First they seduce us with the Mommy state, but then coerce us with the Daddy state.

Now, revelation does not -- cannot -- stop with the written word: "On the contrary, the whole history of Christendom is a continual dialogue between God and man, and every age of the Chruch's life, even the most remote and obscure, has some important lesson for us today" (emphasis mine). This would imply that the present is not more important than the past; but nor is it less so.

I find that traditionalists have a sort of inferiority complex about the present, and conversely, tend to idealize the past. But if each epoch of history is in some sense providential, then the question is, what is the metacosmic purpose of the present time in which we are living?

Perhaps it has to do with sanctifying the scientistic "reign of quantity" and bringing it back into harmony with timeless religious principles in a higher synthesis of spirit and nature. Which is to say, same as it ever was, for as Augustine wrote, to the extent that science and philosophy reveal truth about the world, "we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it."

In so doing, just as paganism was incorporated and sanctified by Christianity, perhaps our task is to sanctify these modern forms of neo-paganism. This endeavor is hardly opposed to science, but rather, attempts to place it in a context in which it is able to "become" or "reveal" what it actually is in the larger scheme of things. Science is not self-explanatory, but is explained by something transcending both science and certainly the scientist.

Another way of saying it is that postmodernity has shattered the unity of the world into ever-smaller, disconnected and isolated fragments, in a process that is indistinguishable from decay. But this is not just a passive process of entropy; rather, the forces of secularism oppose any attempt to put the cosmic egg back together into a greater hierarchical synthesis.

Thus, on a very deep level, secularism tries to impose a religiously anti-religious lowerarchy on the rest of us, which is what liberal intolerance is all about -- diversity, moral relativism, multiculturalism, political correctness, etc. Each of these, at its root, elevates division to an absolute.

In this specific sense, one cannot be "in love with the world" without hating God; for to love only the world is to reduce man to matter and therefore to a machine, and ultimately to a means rather than an end. But then secularism slips in its own teleology, converting man into a means of achieving wholly materialistic ends as defined by the "progressive" who substitutes terrestrial perfectibility for spiritual evolution.

Thus, there really are "two Americas," the one that exists in reality and the one that exists in the fantasies of the left, i.e., "Sugar Candy Mountain." Secular ideologies "promise much by taking much," which is to say, your soul.

Another important point is that the left must be intrinsically anti-family, since the family is the "first institution" and is obviously prior to the state. As such, it is a competitor with the modern welfare state, something that has become obvious vis-a-vis Western Europe or the black family in America.

Since man is a social animal, if his most intimate bonds are not with the family, they will be with something less. Should the family collapse, "society itself must collapse or change in a fashion so drastic as to be no longer recognizable." This is the sort of radical and fundamental change promised by Obama.

Indeed, this is what the whole debate about the re-definition of marriage is all about. It has nothing whatsoever to do with "homophobia," but with a prudent appreciation of the profundity of the issues involved -- i.e, not with homosexual "rights" but with heterosexual duties. It's like performing a needlessly radical experiment on a body that is already taxed and trying to maintain its health and equilibrium. Except the experiment is conducted by a handful of lawyers instead of doctors, so we can't even sue them for malpractice.

"There is a point at which the world of spirit comes in conscious contact with the world of matter. That point is man." Dawson felt that "most heresies have come from the inability to walk between the two extremes," so that "to privilege either the spiritual or material at the expense of the other is to verge into a modern form of Gnosticism."

Thus, in reality, man's "whole destiny depends on the proper co-ordination" of matter and spirit; since Man is a bridge, "the lower world is in some sense dependent on him for its spiritualization and its integration in the universal order." And man's true order does not -- and cannot -- come from the material and temporal world, but from the timeless and atemporal. To ignore this reality is to commit cluelesscide as it pertains to one's genuine humanness.

"All true progress comes from the proper use of language." As God "spoke" the cosmos into existence, man "speaks" culture into existence. If the family is the first thing undermined by the left, then language is the second. What is always most startling about leftist discourse is the inebriated and intoxicated abuse of language. Call it discoarse. They truly are at war with the Word, so we can say that Word War I has been going on since the beginning of human time. The contemporary left is just a new whine in a very old battle.

"The 'mastery' of professional historical methods and 'techniques will not produce great history, any more than a mastery of metrical technique will produce great poetry.' The true historian, or the metahistorian, will recognize that 'something more is necessary -- intuitive understanding, creative imagination, and finally a universal vision transcending the relative limitation of the particular field of historical study.'" Thus, the genuine historian must also be a poet in the true sense of the word.

History has both upper and lower vertical aspects, or infraconscious and supraconscious: "What we see in history is only a partial and uncertain manifestation of the spiritual activity which is taking place at once below and above the level of historical study." "We modern sophists... are the ones being unscholarly in discounting a higher power, a power unseen and unknown through our five physical senses, but recognized by all human cultures prior to the advent of modernity."

"Christian culture is always in conflict with the world," whereas leftist culture is always at odds with reality, i.e., the unchanging spiritual reality from which the world derives its meaning and man his significance. To perfectly adapt to the world in the manner of a Darwinian animal is to be a perfect animal. Man's task is surely to adapt, but to the real world of truth, beauty, virtue, and unity.

28 Comments:

Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Related: economic progress and the evolution of language.

11/22/2010 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"Another important point is that the left must be intrinsically anti-family, since the family is the "first institution" and is obviously prior to the state. As such, it is a competitor with the modern welfare state, something that has become obvious vis-a-vis Western Europe or the black family in America.

Since man is a social animal, if his most intimate bonds are not with the family, they will be with something less. Should the family collapse, "society itself must collapse or change in a fashion so drastic as to be no longer recognizable." This is the sort of radical and fundamental change promised by Obama."

I always thought that Christianity was intrinsicly anti-family, as in Luke 14:26:

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple."

Back in the day, I read this as saying "family bad", "church good". Or at least "your family bonds are contingent and must be discarded at a moment's notice if the need arises."

Of course, some workers bond with corporations and then are surprised when the corporations betray them.

I've seen that one in the past.

Of course, and Van will love this, I've never bene quite sure what the purpose of family IS.

11/22/2010 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

JP - for the purpose of family, see here. It's a fairly clinical take; should be right up your alley.

As far as Christianity being anti-family, clearly you were trying to digest meat before you had gotten past the milk stage.

11/22/2010 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Another important point is that the left must be intrinsically anti-family, since the family is the "first institution" and is obviously prior to the state. As such, it is a competitor with the modern welfare state, something that has become obvious vis-a-vis Western Europe or the black family in America.

Via Insty this weekend, there's an excellent article here on global demographic decline. Neo had some related thoughts here, too.

In short, the world is getting older. In a couple of generations, it will also be emptier. Even when governments finally wake up and realize that encouraging smaller families is a cultural death knell, there is little they can do to reverse the process, even though the solution itself is quite simple. Part of the issue really is the loss of faith in something higher; in a secular world, there's no compelling reason for any particular woman to inconvenience her life by having kids, or by having more than one child, no matter how much of a financial incentive is offered. Particularly if, as in China, the woman in question was raised an adored only child in a generation of adored only children, few of whom have ever been taught that there is gratification in setting aside one's own immediate needs for a couple of decades in order to care for a dependent human being, much less two or three.

Throw in the fact that women have been taught that they can have it all™, only to find out too late that it doesn't quite work out that way, and you have a recipe for massive human decline.

To reverse it is simple - women just have to have more children. But they won't do that without a reason that speaks to them more powefully than "finding fulfifllment in a career" and "being self-sufficient." Government service announcements about how great families are, coupled with massive incentive programs for bigger families, just don't cut it. The social stigma in being a traditional wife and mother and the perceived benefits of having few if any kids are just too strong.

What's needed, really, is a cultural revolution. One wherein traditional families and the importance of archetypal feminine and masculine roles are lauded and held up as the ideal - not just imposed from without by government fiat, but from where it counts, within the aspirations of individual men and women themselves. And of course, the only place you find that mindset is in families built on faith.

But maybe there's a silver lining. In a couple of generations, families of faith may be the only ones reproducing anymore. If they can manage to pass on their values to their children and their grandchildren, perhaps there will be a true decline in leftism and all its forms, as the younger generations grow up with an awareness of how terribly it always goes.

Then again, going by the Old Testament, people never really learn, do they?

11/22/2010 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

JP brings up an interesting topic.

There has always been a question as to whether family life was an impediment to spiritual life. The answer is complex and I think it was best dealt with by the Rishis of the Indus valley long ago.

They assigned stages to life, i.e child, young adult, "householder" (married with children), and then "man in the forest" (retreat for spiritual enlargment, separation from family and duties).

The Rishis imply that family life IS an impediment to direct spiritual attainment, but that it is important for worldly life, and the two have equal weight.

This ties in with Bob's "bridge" thesis. Both realms, the spiritual and the material, must be given their due.

The Catholics think that enough spiritual oomph can be had within the family and just seek to control or regulate unregenerate or antidivine passions.

Sex is always a problem, being it so animal in some ways.

Each raccoon must decide her own way.

11/22/2010 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

Julie brings up an interesting point about reproduction.

Although she states a decline in human numbers would be a bad outcome, let's think about this.

Lower populations may not be a bad thing, bringing in less competition for resources, more space for everyone to breathe in, etc.

We cannot assume more people is automatically better. The world population could probably be attrited down to about a billion (18th century level of population) without any jeopardy to the species.

And Julie's right, those that do value reproduction will get greater representation in the construction of culture.

But the bottom line is our species is at or above carrying capacity and is a long, long way from any danger of extinction.

11/22/2010 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

From the National Review article Bob linked:

"...the only explanation for the peculiar birth of the modern world is speech: At the beginning of the 18th century, people in the Netherlands and Britain began talking about commerce as a good thing — a novelty at that time. They gave dignity to the bourgeoisie. And that drove capitalism, giving birth to the modern world."

If modern man is to arrest the demographic decline, a similar spoken dignity needs to be given (or perhaps, returned) to the idea of the traditional family.

11/22/2010 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Veering in another direction (this post is full of tangenty goodness),

Another way of saying it is that postmodernity has shattered the unity of the world into ever-smaller, disconnected and isolated fragments, in a process that is indistinguishable from decay.

And thus the Fall is repeated in fractals.

11/22/2010 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The true historian, or the metahistorian, will recognize that 'something more is necessary -- intuitive understanding, creative imagination, and finally a universal vision transcending the relative limitation of the particular field of historical study.

This is why it is always wise to try to glean some knowledge of the biases of any particular historian before buying into their version of history.

11/22/2010 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger anon said...

That's pretty funny, citing Deirdre (formerly Donald) McCloskey in a post that also promotes "heterosexual duties", not to mention warning against "needlessly radical experiment on a body". Not that there's anything wrong with that.

11/22/2010 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

For those who are wondering, it's called the genetic fallacy. It is one of the left's major weapons.

11/22/2010 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I hadn't heard that term before. (In case I'm not the only one, Wiki here).

But yeah, I was just about to say that truth is truth, regardless of who speaks it.

There's another big distinction between leftists and classical liberals - we can concede that a point is valid regardless of the speaker, but for a leftist the speaker must be vetted before anything they say may be accepted.

11/22/2010 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

Spiritual people are split into echelons, with a few members on a high level (leaders or officers)over a greater number of mid-level people.

Hardcore raccoons (spiritual people who think about nothing else 24/7, for instance Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa) don't do the hokey-pokey, as a rule. Why is this exactly? Hard to say. But thats a fact.

Then comes the larger number of mid-level raccoons who marry and procreate enthusiastically. Very few if any of these move up to the majors. Why? We don't know.

When it comes to Jesus and his statements about hating the family, I theorize he was trying to flush some raccoon officers out of the crowd. Only the highest grade of spiritual people would resonate with statements of the sort JP alluded to.

If you're committed to the point where the Pope is at, let's say, you just don't think about the ladies any more.

Sorry to go long today. Great post, Bob.

11/22/2010 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

If it makes you feel any better, anon, McCloskey had some pretty wacky views about the 60s and 70s in the same article. They still don't invalidate the earlier point.

11/22/2010 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

BH says:

"When it comes to Jesus and his statements about hating the family, I theorize he was trying to flush some raccoon officers out of the crowd. Only the highest grade of spiritual people would resonate with statements of the sort JP alluded to.

If you're committed to the point where the Pope is at, let's say, you just don't think about the ladies any more."

Actually, I think I saw it as a straighforward instruction set to be applied to all people simultaneously.

That was in my "let's talk all of the instructions that were provided by Jesus and apply them in a straighforward manner."

Mechanical application of instructions. At the time, I'm pretty sure I viewed it as a straightforward equation.

Mortal life + Jesus's Instructions = Eternal life.

No good, beautiful, or true required. Just keep your actions as close to the ideal as possible, cross your fingers and hope you die in the end zone.

This was also the stage of my life where I was trying to understand why people had emotions when people cleraly only needed logic to make decisions.

If, then operations only.

11/22/2010 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger anon said...

It would be a fallacy if I said that McCloskey was wrong because of her unusual background. I didn't. I said it was amusing for you to be citing her.

11/22/2010 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Most perniciously, they still treat man as a bridge, except that he becomes a bridge between the way things are and the way our elites would like them to be. In short, he becomes a bridge between big government and bigger government -- or between the powerful state and the omnipotent one. First they seduce us with the Mommy state, but then coerce us with the Daddy state.

Apropos, Dr. Sanity:

"You can count on the fact that the policies of the progressive left will always end up enabling and exposing the worse aspects of human nature. These of course, are the same people who always come up with these utopian schemes that promise a veritable paradise of human love, compassion, kindness and brotherhood; and then deliver a toxic brew of hate, envy, and discord, greed and envy. You have to wonder how the "reality-based" community can be so completely clueless about something as obvious as the reality of human nature?

Perhaps, the best answer to that question is that, when it comes to themselves, the left is constitutionally unable to understand or accept the dark side of their own natures with any degree of clarity, let alone honesty. Hence, they fail to understand the more primitive sides of their own human nature--and in doing so, end up unconsciously allowing that primitive side (the one that seeks power over others, for example) to control their motivations and actions."

11/22/2010 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Julie says:

"You have to wonder how the "reality-based" community can be so completely clueless about something as obvious as the reality of human nature?"

It's not taught in school.

Plus, the older generations don't understand computers and other totally cool things so they must have no idea what they are talking about, generally.

Oh, and the idea that people are blank slates, you just have to make sure that you put the right information in. It's like a computer program. Blank slate + Proper Programming = Utopia.

It took me a good long time to realize that people have individual personalities that couldn't actually be changed through appropriate regulation, legislation, and technology.

I've still got residual "committed ideologue" (Puritan morality strain, not diversity/multicultural/socialist strain) and "adolecent upopian" in me.

From Shrinkwrapped:

"Meanwhile the committed ideologue, who with his extra dollop of Narcissism arrives at his ideology via an intellectual process, may simply be someone who relates poorly to other people. In his case, while he might love mankind, he doesnt have any particular connection to the individual man. This is common in ideologues who love the people but despise (devalued) people.

Finally, perhaps our hypothetical idealist has remained stuck in an adolescent Utopian position. He truly cares deeply about people and wishes everyone to just get along without strife. He is fearful of his own (and others') aggression and is committed to only doing good. Perhaps he wants to save the planet and realizes that only by controlling other peoples' behavior can the world be saved. His character is immature, poorly understanding of cause and effect, and thoughtlessly dangerous and controlling."

11/22/2010 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

And in yet another breathtaking display of leftist doublethink, traditional family life is great - provided you live in Afghanistan. There even in the cities it's like a village; therefor "The children are probably safer here than they would be in London, New York or Glasgow or many other cities."

Because, like, it takes a village to rear a child.

11/22/2010 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"But then secularism slips in its own teleology, converting man into a means of achieving wholly materialistic ends as defined by the "progressive" who substitutes terrestrial perfectibility for spiritual evolution."

At least secularism is self-refuting, so to speak.

It seems to have burned itself out during the 20th century.

The communist strain, at least.

I'm not quite sure why the libertarian secularist strain is still around, but at least that one can't really do anything.

11/22/2010 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger black hole said...

This leftist admits to her dark side and her need for power and influence.

Most of my cronies, though, can't seem to stop trying to camouflage their motives with do-good speaking and that annoys me. It shows weakness.

I continually have to remind them that we only hold what we have by enforcement of P.C. by any means at hand.

We are not nice people and should not be seen that way, as it dilutes the perception that we can reach you if you displease us.

Even at this university, which we supposedly control, there are defiant individuals here and there who say stupid things. We have to be vigilant; there is no resting.

11/22/2010 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Darn, wish I wasn't so late to the party today, I got to read, but couldn't comment... arghhh. Not much to add to the comments already made, other than to point a finger back in time to the present day:

"Most perniciously, they still treat man as a bridge, except that he becomes a bridge between the way things are and the way our elites would like them to be."

"Another important point is that the left must be intrinsically anti-family, since the family is the "first institution" and is obviously prior to the state."

Two more reasons I so rue rousseau.

11/22/2010 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Oh, and this,
"If the family is the first thing undermined by the left, then language is the second. What is always most startling about leftist discourse is the inebriated and intoxicated abuse of language. Call it discoarse. They truly are at war with the Word, so we can say that Word War I has been going on since the beginning of human time. The contemporary left is just a new whine in a very old battle. "

(See b.h.'s b.s. for further reference)

11/22/2010 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Van says, quoting Bob:

"Another important point is that the left must be intrinsically anti-family, since the family is the "first institution" and is obviously prior to the state."

Two more reasons I so rue rousseau.

Was rosseau the idiot who initiated state-worship, so to speak? Isn't he the guy who came up with the idea that the state was the embodiment of the national will or some nonsense like that?

One issue I have with the anti-family issue is that I also didn't think you were supposed to be pro-tribe. Tribe as a second institution outside the family.

I'm not trying to pick a fight, I just see Christianity (or true religion or whatever you want to call it) as a universalist and anti-tribalist construct.

Why stop at the dissolution of the tribe/village and not drill down all the way to the core family structure?

I say this as someone with no tribal sense of beloning and very little family sense of belonging. I'm not big on group loyalty of any kind.

I guess I'm asking more of a question of ideal social structure and development.

11/22/2010 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. Marriage and family, that first link I gave I thought covered it pretty well from a general societal standpoint. And the Coonifesto touches on it pretty strongly as well.

Christ nor Christianity are anti- family. What that passage meant goes far deeper than your surface reading; the fact that one should hate even oneself is a clue. To see oneself with True clarity is, unless one is immaculate, pretty universally appalling. And to look at one's family in a similar light, seeing all the ways they pull you away from the vertical is similarly awful.

Note, however, that Christ did not say in that passage to abandon them. And what is the church but a familial, tribal institution?

11/22/2010 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Or as Schuon put it:

Uniqueness: the Word is unique. The name of Jesus is a unique result of its mysterious identity with the Word. The soul us nothing; God alone is. It is a state of perfect humility in which the ego is annihilated through knowledge of its metaphysical nothingness before the uniqueness - the All-Reality - of God. Every natural movement of the soul is considered here as a form of pride, in the mystical sense of the word, that is as an attempt to set oneself up as a reality before the sole Reality of God, or again as the error of wishing to add something to the Unique, which would then no longer be unique.

11/22/2010 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

GE - you recommended another book this weekend . Thanks - reading it now on my phone. So far, a great read.

11/22/2010 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

bueno to hear-o
...

11/23/2010 03:20:00 AM  

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