Monday, October 17, 2011

The Spiritual Free-Fall from Washington to Obama

Today's post is on the Emperor, and it could hardly be more timely, even though it was written three years ago, before Obama came along to foolfail its prophecy.

Indeed, I wrote at the time that "This is a timelessly timeless archetype, what with the likely election of a president who embodies so many elements that are the precise opposite of what this arcanum symbolizes."

For now, after three years of dissembling and misdirection, Obama is finally discarding the empty suit routine and nakedly displaying the divisive little tyrunt beneath:

"Obama’s reelection strategy" involves fomenting "full-blown cultural warfare against a large and diverse segment of society known as Republicans.... [H]e and his advisers seem to have decided... to mount a deeply polarizing campaign based on 'values' -- suggesting his vision for America is correct even if the economy is not right yet.

"But in waging this battle, Obama is saying nasty and dangerous things. He is promoting his own principles -- not just by touting their goodness, but by suggesting that Republicans hold to an offensive, even un-American, philosophy. By painting his opposition as not just wrong but evil, Obama risks dividing the nation in a profound and unnecessary way.

"Allegations that Republicans want sick people to die and hate homosexuals are caricatures you might expect of an extreme House member or a raving partisan running for local office. That a president would say -- or even believe -- such things is deeply disturbing."

But such slander of conservatives is par for the coarse and unrefined media, just as it is commonplace in academia and holy writ among the liberal rank and foul. In truth, demonization is the only weapon the left has, and the only weapon it has ever had. God, guns and gays -- hating the first, fearing the second, and promoting the third -- is what they are all about.

Our Unknown Friend begins with the observation that "the less superficial a person is -- and the more he knows and is capable of -- the greater is his authority." Specifically, "to be something, to know something and to be capable of something is what endows a person with authority."

Being. Knowledge. Capability. The more of these one has, the more intrinsic authority. And importantly, this won't be any kind of "official" or conventional authority. Rather, the person will spontaneously radiate the authority outward, from the center to the periphery.

(I remember Schuon saying something to the effect that the reason a pope or priest must be decked out in their finery is to convey this spiritual authority, even if they themselves personally lack it. And he didn't mean it in a disapproving manner.)

In turn, each of these categories has a dimension of depth. One can know superficially or deeply. One can do something adequately or with great depth, like the true artist.

But the most mysterious of the three is being. One of the primary purposes of religion is to develop depth at the level of being.

Now, consider Obama, circa 2008. First, what did he know? Pretty much nothing beyond the usual lies and absurdities one is exposed to in a leftist seminary, i.e., college.

Second, what had he accomplished? See #1.

Third, who is he? Yes, one could say "no one," except that spirit -- both good and bad -- abhors a vacuum, and soon enough rushes in to fill the void. You know the drill: people who reject God don't believe in nothing, but rather, in anything.

The other day I was reading an article about Schuon by the Orthodox Christian scholar James Cutsinger, whose initial experience of Schuon's "intrinsic authority" was virtually identical to mine. No one had to tell me that this man possessed authority. Rather, the depth of his authority was communicated directly, center to center:

"Nothing had prepared me for my first encounter with a book by Frithjof Schuon. I vividly recall reading the opening page, and then rereading it again, then a third time and a fourth time, before proceeding" (Cutsinger).

Now interestingly, this depth is not a matter of "complexity" or sophistication. Indeed, those things are often just tricks of the tenured to make one believe they are deep when their ideas would be recognized as utterly banal if conveyed in plain English.

Cutsinger agrees that "the words themselves were certainly not difficult, nor the style at all complex. Indeed, compared to many a modern philosopher's work, Schuon's books are noted for their simple, and often poetic, beauty. And yet for some reason I found myself unable to move with the speed I was accustomed to."

Cutsinger adds that it was as if he were running along the beach, and then suddenly found himself in the ocean. Very mysterious. In other words, he is merrily scampering on the surface of one reality -- call it earth -- but then, to his surprise, finds himself in a different medium, one that is at a right angle, so to speak, to our usual experience of the world:

"Here was a new medium, no less able to support my movement, but requiring an altogether different engagement. There would be no more running now. I would have to swim."

There is another corollary at work here, for just as it requires depth to apprehend depth, only depth can recognize shallowness and superficiality. This is clearly why so many shallow people believe Obama is deep, or nuanced, or even beyond that -- that he truly represents some sort of messianic or "transformational" figure. I feel as if his entire mind could safely fit into a little corner of mine. And I'm not bragging. I would assume that all Raccoons feel the same way.

Back to the Emperor. Among other things, the Emperor is the symbol of divine authority on earth. He is not a replacement of divine authority, but its horizontal prolongation. And along these lines, perhaps the most important point is that, as UF writes, "God governs the world by authority, and not by force. If this were not so, there would be neither freedom nor law in the world."

This automatically excludes an Obama from being a legitimate ruler, in that the left is all about governing by force. He will not "lure" you toward the good by his intrinsic authority, but compel you to "share" and "spread around" the fruits of your labor with his purely terrestrial power. And that's all it is: "I won." If he were capable of explanation, he wouldn't have to ram through unpopular legislation and demonize opponents.

God does not "compel" acceptance of his authority, or we would not be free. Thus, the typical atheist who asks for miracles in order for God to "prove" his existence is really asking for God to remove his freedom. But that is something God will never do. UF elaborates:

"One is free to be believing or unbelieving. Nothing and no one can compel us to have faith -- no scientific discovery, no logical argument, no physical torture can force us to believe, i.e., to freely recognize and accept the authority of God."

The atheist says to Jesus: "Come down from that cross, then I might believe in your power!" But power is not truth. Rather, truth is power. And the truth is, Truth is crucified in history, and yet, survives. And that is a powerful miracle.

In response to the original post, reader James commented that "It is a pleasure and a joy to serve someone who has real authority. It is a horror to serve under someone with no authority, just higher rank in a man-made hierarchy. You can learn all the important things about someone by imagining what it would be like to serve them."

This powerfully applies to George Washington, whose biography I am currently reading. One of the things that made him great -- and contemporaries testified to it over and over -- was the intrinsic authority he radiated. He was never a great military strategist, but was able to maintain the Continental Army through sheer force of his magnetic presence, under appalling conditions that truly boggle the mind.

It is indeed difficult to imagine how America could have succeeded without his being our effective leader for over sixteen years -- the eight years of his presidency and the eight-plus years of the war. As Jefferson wrote, "The moderation and virtue of a single character... probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish."

In other words, Washington's great power was in the realm of being: the Continental Army "always stood on the brink of dissolution, and Washington was the one figure who kept it together, the spiritual and managerial genius of the whole enterprise: he had been resilient in the face of every setback, courageous in the face of every danger.... The extraordinary, wearisome, nerve-racking frustration he put up with for nearly nine years is hard to express.... He labored under a terrible strain that would have destroyed a lesser man..."

And "at war's end" he sealed his stature, in that "he stood at the pinnacle of power, but he never became drunk with that influence, as had so many generals before him."

That is the kind of truly exceptional being at America's founding -- an exceptionalism the current clown demeans by his frivolous presence even prior to rejecting it with his inane speech.

13 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

I remember Schuon saying something to the effect that the reason a pope or priest must be decked out in their finery is to convey this spiritual authority, even if they themselves personally lack it.

Also, to the converse, there are those who would be unable to recognize real Authority if it did not come clothed in obvious finery.

10/17/2011 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I feel as if his entire mind could safely fit into a little corner of mine. And I'm not bragging. I would assume that all Raccoons feel the same way.


True, but the thought gives me the creeping horrors; it may be small, but the miasma would be fierce with that one...

10/17/2011 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The moderation and virtue of a single character... probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish."

In other words, Washington's great power was in the realm of being


Interesting. That's certainly a perspective that wouldn't be taught in school these days; to the believing mind, it would almost seem as though the American endeavor was sanctioned by a higher power, as it were...

10/17/2011 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Open Trench said...

Those endowed with intrinsic authority should wield it generously. Timidity will not do in these times.

Homework Questions: Pick one and post a response today.

1. You've been appointed Governor of California. How would you exercise your authority first?

2. What part of the "Communist Manifesto" should we re-read in regards to the Wall Street Occupation Army?

3. Your best friend develops a liking for Obama. Deal-breaker or bury the hatchet?

10/17/2011 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I feel as if his entire mind could safely fit into a little corner of mine.

Indeed it would. As Fred Allen might say, it would fit "in a gnat's navel and still have room left for three caraway seeds" and Larry King's integrity.

10/17/2011 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

He is not a replacement of divine authority, but its horizontal prolongation. And along these lines, perhaps the most important point is that, as UF writes, "God governs the world by authority, and not by force. If this were not so, there would be neither freedom nor law in the world."

I have been thinking about how the Kingdom would operate. Lewis said it would be morally conservative -- obviously -- but socially liberal. I understand what he meant but it is easy to misinterpret. We are so used to seeing "liberalism" enforced at the point of a gun that most people cannot imagine it any other way.

Even "do the right thing or go to hell" is, I think, generally the wrong message to take from the New Testament.

10/17/2011 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Hi Mushroom! Your comment here made me think of Fr. Stephen's most recent post - but I see from your comment there that you've already seen it :)

Point being, to serve with love is the point, and no amount of force or intimidation can make that happen, whether it's at gunpoint or fear of hellfire.

10/17/2011 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

There is a horrible irony in this, that the value conservative would never even wish to amass riches in order to impress (much less intimidate) his fellow man. Nor does he have unbound desires which require ever greater funding to retain pleasure. Helping those who actually need and benefit from help is for such a person its own reward.

But for those of the opposite mind, of course, all these motivations are taken for granted.

10/17/2011 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Being. Knowledge. Capability. The more of these one has, the more intrinsic authority. And importantly, this won't be any kind of "official" or conventional authority. Rather, the person will spontaneously radiate the authority outward, from the center to the periphery."

Yep, and it's hard to identify what it is about them that seems so self-evidently... deep, but it comes from the power of their depth.

"In turn, each of these categories has a dimension of depth. One can know superficially or deeply. One can do something adequately or with great depth, like the true artist. "

Hopefully this doesn't seem to off the wall, but it struck up a memory of a break through I had with one of my kids on math, many moons ago. It had to do with an algebraic equation, part of which was a deep exercise in long division, and he was having real problems with it and why he was having to do it. I don’t remember his exact question, but it was something along the lines of the old 'Why do I have to do this? I've got a calculator, I don't need to!'

And the gist of my reply was that having the answer wasn't important, that in fact he had the answer already, the left side of the equation was exactly the same number as the number given on the right side, they were both stating the same number, but you don't know it. THAT is what you are trying to solve here; not getting the answer, but understanding that the question is the answer, but written in a way you don't yet understand. Understanding how to read the question gives you an understanding of the 'answer' which a calculator can never supply you.

That the answer, was not separate in any way shape or form, from the question, if you understand how to read it, they were one and the same, that (much simplified),
(2 * 9)/6 + (6-4)
, is just another way of writing 3+2 which is just another way of writing 5. Your little brother can scrawl the numeral '5', but he doesn't understand the meaning of it in the way you are able to, when you are able to 'solve' an equation like this.

'5' for your little brother, is just a bendy line. '5' for you, is a deeper understanding of how everything fits together, even when you are mistakenly thinking it is all separate and unrelated.

When you understand that, you will be able to write '5' in a way your little brother can't yet imagine, even though he can draw the exact same numeral.

Your little brother can push the buttons on the calculator and get the answer too, but only you understand what it means, and that's the important part of being his older brother.'

Heh... looking at it there, it's surprising that the light clicked on for him, but it did.

10/17/2011 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

THAT is what you are trying to solve here; not getting the answer, but understanding that the question is the answer, but written in a way you don't yet understand.

I suspect kids have called their parents into the Family Services Hotline for less this. You could easily have had your door kicked in by heavily armed social workers. :)

10/17/2011 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Mushroom said "I suspect kids have called their parents into the Family Services Hotline for less this."

LOL. We were skyping with Ryan this weekend, from Al Dhafra AFB (It IS the best of times, it is the worst of times), and he was telling us about an argument he was having, and winning, with someone who outranks him, and he realized partway through the argument that he was doing to that guy, exactly what I used to do to him, arguing the same way, getting him to set out what he took for granted as the facts, and then blowing them away by showing how they couldn't possibly connect to the rest that they all knew was true, and he was simultaneously glad to be winning the argument and Royally P'O'ed at doing it as I would, that he nearly ended the argument to spite me.

He didn't of course, he plowed him into the ground, but he was ticked about it.

We were all laughing our butt's off... together... half a world away.

;-)

10/17/2011 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jewel said...

This is only slightly off-topic, but Bob...really! When did you become a vicious honey badger? Assuming that is what the red-eyed sharp-fanged, bloody frothing animal in the upper right hand corner bearing your name is.

10/18/2011 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That looks like a rabid honey-badger, which I can only assume gives even less of a &*^# than an ordinary one...

10/18/2011 07:56:00 AM  

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