Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Hope and Change, AKA Resentment and Coercion

Well, to be honest, I haven't had time to get much further in the Jesus trilogy, so this post will consist of beating one idea to death. But it's a terribly destructive idea that deserves to die, and not just at the ballot box.

Both Balthasar and Chesterton make much of the very idea of God-as-child. The former speaks of "the eternal mystery of the childhood of Christ" flowing "into the eternal childhood which is given to men: hope."

For if you think about it, hope is indeed the essence of childhood. Why? A number of reasons, but I was thinking of how children are always changing and growing. They are like little arrows that always point toward their own telos -- which is to say, perfection, or completion, or maturity. I would suggest that America is infused with this idea -- or rather, that the very idea of America is infused with Christian hope in the sense we have just stated.

What I mean is that there is no reason for hope in a static society: things are as they are and will be as they will be because they have always been this way (and this way is decreed by the gods, so it is not for us to change it).

Against the American ideal is the European import of Marxism, which both sees and creates static classes. Sowell touches on this in his indispensable Intellectuals and Race: just as the caste system tethers individuals to their societal place, thus depriving them of hope, multiculturalism seals people into so many boxes of petrified failure. The difference is that the leftist exchanges hope for envy, thus the crude appeals to race, class, sexual preference, etc. In other words, the leftist croctrine of diversity

"tends to freeze people where the accident of birth has placed them. Unlike the caste system, multiculturalism holds out the prospect that, all cultures being equal, one's life chances should be the same -- and that it is society's fault if these chances are not the same." So instead of hope for betterment, the left promotes resentment of the better off, accompanied by a demand for "social justice," which is simply envy with a truncheon.

So, one man's hope is another man's hell. Which, of course, is playing out all over the country today. If only the people who were deluded into voting for Obama in 2008 could exercise a little self-awareness, and appreciate that we are now living in the reality that in 2008 was only a "hope." This is it. This is what happens when Christian -- or at least American -- hope is displaced by Marxist resentment.

Did we see the future in 2008? No, only the present. Obama supporters blinded themselves to the present in order to indulge a fanciful hope that is both anti-American and un-Christian. It makes their world go around -- in a downward spiral.

As Sowell states, "the caste system preaches resignation to one's fate," while "multiculturalism preaches resentment of one's fate." Unlike these, Americanism kicks fate in the nuts and says get outta' my way!

Imagine placing children into unchanging castes; or imagine that we didn't move through school grades, but rather, were assigned one grade for life. The idea is preposterous, but not as preposterous as the left's "war on women" or its crude appeals to racial hatred, fear, and stupidity.

Jesus, of course, makes a point of counseling us to be as children, but surely he doesn't mean this in any pejorative sense -- i.e., to be as naive, credulous, and easily led as a Democrat.

Again, what characterizes the child? Well, for starters, a child is what man uniquely is, in the sense that -- alone among the animals -- he specializes in immaturity because his neoteny never ceases.

To say neoteny is to say neo-nate, which simply means "new birth." Thus, to say that man must be "born again" implies that one must not conflate, say, biological and spiritual birth, in that the former happens just once.

Now a child, just because he is constantly learning and therefore "permanently immature," is not thereby a little nothing. Rather, he is the very symbol of our own eros shot into the heart of the divine center. We are all as children growing toward our proper end.

The psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott once wrote an article on the psychodynamics of shoplifting, suggesting that it wasn't so much motivated by want or by greed, but by hope. That is, in the instant the shoplifter is engaged in his theft, he is temporarily buoyed by the hope that the painful emptiness at the core of his being will be filled. But it never is, so he must repeat the process in a compulsive manner.

More generally, as Boethius wrote, if the mere satisfaction of desire were the cause of happiness, "there is no reason why beasts should not be thought blessed, whose whole intention is bent to supply their corporal wants." By extrapolation, a life of pursuing false hope converts man to an animal.

In any compulsion, there is an existential component of hope; but this is not real hope. Rather, it is merely a defense against hopelessness. Nothing is more deflating than an illusory desire satisfied, because its satisfaction co-arises with hopelessness. In fact, we could say that any compulsion -- and few people are completely free of them -- is simply hopelessness deferred.

For this reason, gratitude is the best revenge -- even a preemptive strike -- against the wily one: "Gratitude is a virtue that allows us, not only to be content with little things -- this is holy childhood -- but also to appreciate or respect little things or big things because they come from God, beginning with the beauty and the gifts of nature; one must be sensitive to the innocence and mystery of the divine works" (Schuon).

But leftist ideology rests upon an ontology which inverts the order of the cosmos, elevating existence over and above essence. In so doing, it essentially sanctifies a perversion, as it instantiates at its very foundation false hope. That is, we all know ahead of time that the fanciful schemes and discredited economic ideas of the left can never "deliver the goods" -- not the material goods and certainly not the spiritual ones.

32 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

The idea is preposterous, but not as preposterous as the left's "war on women" or its crude appeals to racial stupidity.

Though it is awfully entertaining when these leftist aims - feminism and diversity - come into conflict and they begin to eat their own, as in last week's catcalling video.

11/04/2014 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Thus, to say that man must be "born again" implies that one must not conflate, say, biological and spiritual birth, in that the former happens just once.

Just yesterday, I was asked about my "Come to Jesus" moment, the assumption being of course that I had one specific moment when I realized, "I'm Saved!"

I didn't have one to offer, instead describing my life as a process of turning toward; I don't think she really understood. It wouldn't surprise me if someone doesn't take me aside shortly and ask if I'm ready to know Jesus, convinced that I am at risk of burning in hell...

11/04/2014 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

(and this way is decreed by the gods, so it is not for us to change it)

In the Islamic version of hide-and-seek, instead of "olley-olley oxen free", they say, "olley-allah ahkbar".

11/04/2014 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

On come-to-Jesus moments -- Jes' raapeet this prayer after me!

I can tell you when I started back -- June 18, 1984. I'll let you know when I get there.

11/04/2014 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The psychology of shoplifting is probably like the psychology of gambling. I don't know any shoplifters, but I have several family members who will work for months to have enough money to lose.

11/04/2014 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I remember one profound cosmic-tumbler moment in like the spring of 2003 or maybe it was 2004. It was like a total awareness of personal sin, in a way I had never understood before (or since). It was like someone literally gave me a powerful drug that lasted several hours. I guess I've never mentioned it in the blog before. Still not sure what to make of it, since I've never committed a sin....

11/04/2014 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Gambling definitely follows the same dynamic: it's all about the hope.

11/04/2014 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I've had the occasional profound cosmic tumbler moment, but being that they tend towards (?!?!) experiences, they don't really lend themselves to public discussions. Mostly not even mentioned here, much less anywhere else, because sometimes there's just no way to eff the ineffable. Even moreso with people who, though religious and faithful, have some very essentially different ideas about the cosmos from oneself.

I'd echo the claim about never having committed a sin, except that living in Florida I'd be afraid to find myself on the receiving end of an unexpected lightning bolt...

11/04/2014 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Heh - that reminds me, things I've learned recently: in the Catholic church, when you are baptized all of your past sins are absolved; no confession required. So if you come in as an adult, and were never baptized as a child, you can honestly say (for a few minutes, at least) that you've never committed a sin...

11/04/2014 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It would probably be counted in seconds for me.

11/04/2014 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger katzxy said...

Julie at 12:04

That makes sense, but on another level it seems too legalistic.

Having done that, my experience was of a deeper awareness of prior sin, and the knowledge that baptism was a milestone (a big one indeed) on the journey of turning towards.

11/04/2014 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, I think that is how it is usually understood. Baptism is an initiation; I'm sure there are some who experience it in that purely legalistic sense, but if so they are almost certainly missing the point entirely, and I would suspect it is unlikely to do them any good...

11/04/2014 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

Rather, it is merely a defense against hopelessness.

Lots of jumbled thoughts today. I think this is (or can be) a more complex mechanism. It seems like there are two "hopes" at work in these dynamics. The first, which you mentioned, is the hope that "this time, the happiness will stick." However, we've all experienced the letdown when that one doesn't come through for us.

So now we have this guilt about something we've done that we can't change. What to do with it? Project, blame shift, deny, split, whatever defense mechanism we can come up with, and here is the second, more insidious hope: "this time, the absolution will stick." Guess where we tend to go running when that hope fails?

So it seems like in order to avoid feeling the deep hopelessness of our situation, we have two false hopes, and when one fails us, we quickly switch to the other. Because the other options are full-blown insanity (which it seems like more and more people are opting for...), or else the self-admission that we are not capable of dealing with our own guilt or absolving our own sins and need some One to do it for us...

Maybe not as eloquently worded as I saw it in my head, but I think got my idea across.

11/04/2014 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

julie said: they are almost certainly missing the point entirely, and I would suspect it is unlikely to do them any good...

Oh, I don't know. In some ways, I think it's like signing up for military service. Even if you do it as a joke, someone on the other end of the transaction takes it very, very seriously.

I have always thought that Flannery O'Connor's short story Parker's Back was the story of a man inadvertently bringing down the Grace of Heaven upon himself. O'Connor had a haunting, powerful vision of Grace...

11/04/2014 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, that's an excellent point; you've just reminded me that I should really know better, and I stand corrected. In fact, it is for similar reasons that I think it very unwise for people to play around with satanism and the occult, even if they are atheists. Though of course, being atheists they are that much less likely to think it could possibly be anything but a joke.

I guess maybe what I have in mind is the sort of person who takes the absolution as a form of license. For instance the apocryphal mafioso who goes to confession and thus sees no reason to curb his life of crime. Such a one takes a legalistic approach to faith, while completely divorcing himself from the spirit (or so it seems from the outside).

11/04/2014 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

julie said: Such a one takes a legalistic approach to faith, while completely divorcing himself from the spirit

Really, what they that sort of person is saying is that they believe in God and His power (otherwise, why bother with the confession/baptism/what have you?), but they think they can manipulate Him into doing their will, which is comedically self-defeating to the point of not even being wrong.

I think it very unwise for people to play around with satanism and the occult

People that do so make the same mistake in the opposite direction, as they are seeking something more powerful than man, but somehow less powerful than themselves or else for some reason willing to submit to their will. Growing up in Mexico meant seeing a lot of this mess running around out in the open.

11/04/2014 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It's just business, Lord, nothing personal.
Or IOW's there's a compartmentalization going on.

Of course, it's ludicrous but I have found myself doing that from time to time.

Patti used to say "guys are lucky, they can compartmentalize better than women can."
But it can also be a curse, because it can become a major stumbling block in relationships, particularly our relationship with God.

11/04/2014 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"As Sowell states, "the caste system preaches resignation to one's fate," while "multiculturalism preaches resentment of one's fate." Unlike these, Americanism kicks fate in the nuts and says get outta' my way."

Damn straight. Resignation n' resentment is a hellish way to go through life.
I'd much rather kick fate in the 'nads and thank God for my blessings,

11/04/2014 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Did we see the future in 2008? No, only the present. Obama supporters blinded themselves to the present in order to indulge a fanciful hope that is both anti-American and un-Christian. It makes their world go around -- in a downward spiral."

If one cannot or will not see (and learn from) history then one cannot properly seethe present (aka reality).

Of course this doesn't stop lefties from thinkin' they can predict the future.

11/04/2014 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

To paraphrase Saint Bill of the Cosby Show:
"We brought you into this world.
And we will take you out."

A warning to all politicians everywhere. Accept your victories and defeats with great humility.
Our republic yet lives.

11/05/2014 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Amen.

I was just looking at Bob's Twitter feed. His last comment from Nov. 2nd suggests he's a prophet; I'm not a smoker, but this morning I almost feel as though I need a cigarette...

11/05/2014 05:18:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ha - and the spin goes on. I just saw this headline at Yahoo:

"Who won the 2014 midterms? Hillary Clinton."

11/05/2014 05:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Where I live, it still went about 60/40 to the Dem candidate for congress. Our district includes places like Malibu, where they are so wealthy they can afford being Democrat.

11/05/2014 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"...In any compulsion, there is an existential component of hope; but this is not real hope. Rather, it is merely a defense against hopelessness. Nothing is more deflating than an illusory desire satisfied, because its satisfaction co-arises with hopelessness. In fact, we could say that any compulsion -- and few people are completely free of them -- is simply hopelessness deferred."

It seems like the compulsion is always a struggle against what you know can't be, the attempt to shortcut reality.

The desire to force what cannot in truth ever be, to inexplicably come true (itself a turning away from Truth), as opposed to hoping that what truthfully can be, will be.

Real Hope, it seems to me, always comports with what you know is good and true, even when particular events seem unlikely, fundamentally you know it Can be and Should be.

Doesn't every compulsion depend upon somehow pulling off the opposite?



11/05/2014 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Bob, looking at the voter registration numbers here for Broward, the numbers are 50% registered Democrats, 25% Republicans, and 25% other. Crist won my county by 70%. Fortunately, enough of the rest of the state was sane...

11/05/2014 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

My fat, boss-hogg-esque Republican Congressman won with about 64%. He's not a bad ol' boy, just an idiot. I don't need to vote for him, so I always go Libertarian on that race. We've gotten the Libertarian up to almost 8% now. The Democrat got around 27% -- and there were some write-ins. I'm hoping one of these days the L's pass the D's so we can have a two-party system.

11/05/2014 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/05/2014 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Luxury!

Guy next to me says we have a gay guy in a coma as a state rep who won reelection -- by a wide margin.
True story, he says.
I should know this, but I try not to look.

You think it's easy.

11/05/2014 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Julie - I don't have twitter.
Bob says the Coz is a prophet, or you say Bob is a prophet?

11/05/2014 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I don't have the Twitter, either, but if you click the link in the sidebar you can still see Bob's page. Just X out of the sign up form.

11/05/2014 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Danke schoen.
BRB

11/05/2014 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

The desire to force what cannot in truth ever be, to inexplicably come true (itself a turning away from Truth), as opposed to hoping that what truthfully can be, will be.

Oh!

11/05/2014 05:30:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home