The Spiritual Free-Fall from Washington to Obama
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.