Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Christian Cure For Religion

No time for a post made of all-new materials, but almost enough to properly edit this precogitated one from exactly five years ago, which is likely before you were born again anyway. Although it was essentially dug up at random, wouldn't you know, it addresses concerns that have lately been bubbling up or trickling down into my local CIA branch (the Cosmic Intelligence Agency).

For example, near the end of yesterday's post I mentioned that "If one takes the long view of man, I believe one will see something like the following: a kind of original immersion in mythological subjectivism, followed by a gradual awakening (at least in the Christian West) to an objective apprehension of the exterior world (which sees the first stage as hopelessly childish), followed by a return to, and recovery of, our original position, only now able to assimilate "the world" (in the scientific sense) into its grand meta-mythos. In a way, it's like thesis-antithesis-synthesis, in this case, of cosmos, man, and God."

I bumped into similar concerns in Jacques Maritain's Introduction to Philosophy, which attempts to take the Story of Wisdom as far back into the recesses of history as the evidence will allow.

What is somewhat new to me is the attempt to sketch a kind of linear development between what amounted to mere animals to the full flowering of philosophy represented by Plato and Aristotle. Prior to that, there were innumerable false paths and nul de slacks that left man enslaved to his lower nature. Clearly, something had to happen -- something extra-genetic -- in order for man to awaken to his full potential. As for why an animal supposedly fashioned by the random accidents of natural selection has this infinite potential -- well, don't ask. I mean, don't ask the tenured.

In any event, this unexpected discovery of the true path "must be regarded as extraordinary when we consider the multitude of wrong roads taken by so many philosophers and philosophic schools" (ibid.).

For Maritain, philosophy is none other than wisdom, "the wisdom of man qua man." Interestingly, he suggests that the full flowering of Greek philosophy c. 600 BC was not just a development but a recovery, something that Schuon and other perennialists maintain. For example, as Joseph Campbell well knew, the truths of various primitive myths, no matter how degraded or corrupted, often betray a kind of metaphysical blueprint. This common deep structure, according to Maritain, suggests a "primitive tradition, common to the different branches of the human race and going back to the origin of mankind." (BTW, that book I linked to yesterday was Campbell's magnum opus in his lifetime study of these primordial myths.)

To the extent that this collective wisdom existed, it "inevitably deteriorated," as "little by little the rust of oblivion gathered upon it, error defiled it, and it fell prey to the corruptions of polytheism and the more degraded forms of religion," e.g., sacrifice, magic, idolatry, global warming, etc.

I'd better stop now, because I'm running out of time to edit the old post. But let's read it in light of what has been suggested above:

In the Coonifesto I wrote of the "big bang" of consciousness that occurred around 45,000 years ago, when genetic Homo sapiens sapiens crossed the vertical threshold into actual humanness, an event that is most vividly memorialized in the beautiful art that suddenly appears in the more trendy caves of the Upper Paleolithic.

However, it is a bit of an understatement to say that human cerebration wasn't necessarily a cause for celebration, since we continued roving about in what anthropologists call "bands" of hunter-gatherers, but what we now call "urban wilderness gangs," or "the NBA." Each of these gangs numbered about 50 homie sapiens, and each gang was at war with all of the others. Paranoia ran deep, because any encounter with another roster of creeps would usually result in violence, death, serious injury, rape, or theft of your bling.

Therefore, according to Nicholas Wade -- and here is something I hadn't considered before -- the evolution from foraging to settling down, or what is called "sedentism" (i.e., "wifing your baby-mama"), represented a revolution nearly as radical as the creative explosion itself. In fact, Wade says exactly this:

"Archaeologists have little hesitation in describing the transition to sedentism as a revolution, comparable to the one that defines the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic 50,000 years ago when behaviorally modern humans emerged from their anatomically modern forebears."

The human ingression into the interior of the cosmos -- the vertical -- truly occurs at what might be conceptualized as a "right angle" to history as such. The first dramatic evidence of this right angle occurs roughly 45,000 years ago, but it turns out that the revolution of sedentism was hardly less dramatic, in that it went against the grain of most everything that had passed for humanness up to that time. The biggest hurdle was that humans had to learn to somehow get along in larger groups without killing each other. In order to do this, they had to develop a more abstract way than kinship to forge a unity. In a way, they had to develop a deeper understanding of abstraction itself.

Now, perhaps you may have noticed that one of the points of my book and blog is to widen, so to speak, the "arc of salvation" so as to encompass the entire history of the cosmos, beginning before the big bang and venturing into future (or spatially vertical) realms beyond ego. But if one considers Genesis esoterically, it does this as well.

One of the supernaturally odd things about scripture is that it is always one step ahead, somehow awaiting us when we arrive there. As such, it speaks -- with great wisdom, I might add -- of both of these revolutions that preceded the formal arc of salvation that begins with the covenant with the ancient Israelites. Somehow collective or archetypal memory of these primordial events -- events which occurred before the dawn of writing -- is encoded in scripture.

Someone yesterday complained again about my tendency to get sidetracked when I promise to write about a certain topic, but Coons, this is very easy to do when you are trying to write about the entire cosmos. In doing so, you have to develop a certain wide angle frame of mind that doesn't lend itself to dwelling in particulars for any length of time, at risk of losing the vision of the whole.

Here is a perfect example of a cosmic artery that I could venture down and which could justify an entire book, but I don't want to get too sidetracked here. Suffice it to say that the fine book The Beginning of Wisdom goes into great detail about what the Torah has to say about human behavior before the covenant, and it is does not flatter mankind. It is so much more deep and wise than the typical PC romantic view of human nature that it is somewhat breathtaking.

Trad Coon Joseph forwarded me something by Frederick Turner (I don't know the source), who writes that "The most ancient of the religions of history, Judaism, might be the deepest taproot of human religion, our strongest and clearest connection with the whole creative history of the universe. Judaism's collective mythic memory goes back even before the Black Sea inundation, over seven thousand years ago, with hints in the Cain and Abel story of the dawn of the Neolithic revolution, when the farmer Cains replaced the hunter-gatherer Abels [i.e., the revolution of sedentism and the beginning of human sacrifice]; there is even a kind of reflected whisper, in the story of Eden, of the time when humans first recognized their own uniqueness as animals and imagined their own personal death [the big bang of consciousness 45,000 years ago]."

In fact, scripture contains many references to mans' default religion, human sacrifice, as the Torah is even honest enough (for how could it not be?) to document the Jews' own backsliding in this area (spiritually untutored man's "default God" is Moloch). To this day, I would guess that the majority of useless academics will argue that human beings were not cannibalistic despite the mountains of evidence that they were. Again, this just emphasizes how much more unblinking wisdom there is in Genesis than in gliberal academia. Genesis is anything but politically correct, which is perhaps one more reason that leftists despise it so. Naturally, scripture explains them much more adequately than they could ever explain it. In fact, it is perfectly accurate to say that Genesis "saw leftists coming" in a number of delightfully ironic stories.

There are many good books on mankind's practice of human sacrifice, but perhaps the best one is Violence Unveiled by Gil Bailie, because he places it in the context of the overall arc of salvation. I cannot possibly do justice to his full argument here, but in his view, mankind at large was actually in desperate need of a cure for religion, and Christianity turned out to be this cure. "Ironically," Jesus was a victim -- and as a result, a permanent reminder -- of one of the things he came to cure, the ritual scapegoating of victims in order to forge social solidarity and drain off the violent impulses. For nothing creates social cohesion and temporarily eases the war of each against all so much as when everyone's aggression is hypnotically focused on a sacrificial victim, in a process that represents "unanimity minus one."

Once you understand the sacrificial mechanism, you only see it everywhere. It is a sort of master key that explains the inexplicable, especially in regions outside Judeo-Christendom untouched by the arc of salvation. To cite one obvious example, what do you think it is that maintains any semblance of solidarity in the entire Muslim world (or the U.N., come to think of it) -- including, sad to say, the majority of Muslims blessed to be living in the Judeo-Christian world? What unifies this disparate group that would otherwise mindlessly be killing each other, as they are doing in Iraq?

Obviously, it is the ritual scapegoating of Jews. I have no opinion as to whether there may actually be some obscure light of vertical revelation contained somewhere in Islam -- the existence of certain Sufi sects argues that there might be, but they represent far, far less than 1% of all Muslims, and nowhere are they considered remotely normative. No, sorry to say that what unifies the Islamic world -- including wretched Muslim spokesholes such as CAIR -- is human sacrifice. But this irrational obsession with hatred of scapegoats is not an "aberration" if we consider the entire arc of salvation, including the period of time before the old covenant, i.e., Phase I.

As I mentioned yesterday, not only did the ancient Jews begin to reflect superior ideals that far surpassed their contemporaries, but these ideals have still failed to permeate into many modern groups -- e.g., in Africa, China, and Islam. Not only that, but the modern West has produced its own permanent counter-revolution in the form of the international left, which, since it rejects the cure for religion, is reverting back to primordial religion -- undisguised born-again paganism in the form of body mutilation, magic (almost all new agers and integralists are leftists), infrahuman entertainment, the cult of celebrity, blood worship (multiculturalism), pantheistic environmentalism, sexual license unbound from any sacred context, etc.

To be continued....

10 Comments:

Blogger JP said...

"Therefore, according to Nicholas Wade -- and here is something I hadn't considered before -- the evolution from foraging to settling down, or what is called "sedentism" (i.e., "marrying your baby-mama), represented a revolution nearly as radical as the creative explosion itself."

So, in order to actually get anywhere you have to stop wandering around aimlessly.

2/23/2012 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Sedentism is also the only thing that permits the creation of high cultures, since it's the only thing that creates any kind of durable slack.

2/23/2012 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Verdiales said...

Do gypsies languish when they turn sedentary?

2/23/2012 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"...For nothing creates social solidarity and temporarily eases the war of each against all so much as when everyone's aggression is hypnotically focussed on a sacrificial victim, which represents "unanimity minus one.""

'Unanimity minus one'... 100-1... hey that leaves the 99%, and focused upon the 1% today by the OWS.

Sacrifice we must, eh?

2/23/2012 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Great re-run Bob!

Good insight Van.

"...since it rejects the cure for religion, is reverting back to primordial religion -- undisguised born-again paganism in the form of body mutilation, magic (almost all "new agers" and "integralists" are leftists), infrahuman entertainment, the cult of celebrity, blood worship ("multi-culturalism"), pantheistic environmentalism, sexual license unbound from any sacred channel, etc."

So true, and it doesn't seem to be a function of education or SES. My wife and I hung out on the fringe of a tribe of hippies back in college.

Hell, I walked in that direction myself for a few years. Kind of starts off as, "I don't need that repressive Christianity" and before you know it you are in a drum circle, insufficiently clothed and going on about earth spirits.

2/23/2012 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Nothing else like this on the web, Bob. Press on, you and your cohorts. I come here for encouragement and inspiration and I don't leave empty-handed.

2/23/2012 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Well, if there's nothing else like it, then I guess it's down to me, 'cause no one else is going to come right out and say it. Still, it is puzzling that it occasionally speaks to a few others as well.

2/24/2012 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

"Hell, I walked in that direction myself for a few years. Kind of starts off as, "I don't need that repressive Christianity" and before you know it you are in a drum circle, insufficiently clothed and going on about earth spirits."

It helps if you can take some sort of long view of things.

Since I was extremely interested in cosmology until about age 12, the long view comes easily to me.

2/24/2012 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger Kv0nT said...

Oh Cooniest of all coons! Thank you for this post. In my opinion it is one of your best. Your points concerning human sacrifice are spot on. Moloch, Akhenaton, these very first examples of organized religion are key to understanding the very nature of humanity, and go to explain why Jesus was such a transformative wellspring.

2/25/2012 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Atticus said...

Get thee to Rene Girard. Begin with Violence and the Sacred and you will see your insights come alive.

2/27/2012 04:10:00 PM  

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