Friday, January 09, 2015

The Cure for Living in the Comfort of Your Own Delusions

As mentioned yesterday, primitive forms of thought are more concrete and less symbolic. While there are still symbols, they are understood concretely, which very much goes to Commandment #2 against idolatry, idolatry being the quintessence of what is called symbolic equation, that is, conflating the symbol with what it symbolizes, as if "this drawing really is Bob Dobbs."

As an aside, I think it is important to read the Commandments as going against human nature, otherwise why would they be necessary? Their existence seems to imply that there is a default setting in human nature that moves in the opposite direction: toward polytheism, idolatry, theft, murder, envy, etc. What I would say is that we have higher and lower natures (or vertical and horizontal), and that a central purpose of the Commandments is to tease the former from the latter.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the question of freedom, specifically, whether human beings have an innate desire for it. Like most westerners, his appreciation of freedom is so fundamental that he had difficulty accepting my belief that freedom is not a universal value, for if it were, human history would appear very different than it does.

Rather, God has to first liberate a people and teach them to sanctify their liberty -- to never forget the God who brought them out of slavery. The good news is that roughly 30% of these people still remember, and have not succumbed to the ambient spiritual I-AMnesia.

We have already touched on some of the unappreciated blessings which Christianity brought into the world, but here is where it all starts, with the vertical ingression of the divine freedom on earth. After that it is just a question of widening it out. And obviously the struggle is ongoing. This morning I read that the Islamic slavers are holding people hostage in a Jewish market. What a diabolically appropriate metaphor of human history: the divine freedom vs. demonic slavery.

We have discussed in the past how freedom developed in the west, in particular, in America. The earliest Americans did not have an abstract notion of freedom which they set about applying to human relations. Rather, they first lived it, and only afterwards drew the abstract conclusions from the lived experience. You might say that freedom was first concretely embodied -- you know, incarnated -- before it was mentalized and eventually enshrined in the Declaration.

This is quite the opposite of the French Revolution, which began with the abstract ideology of pinhead philosophes, which it then attempted to force upon the populace in a top-down manner. (This is one of the themes of the excellent The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left.)

We see this same pattern in contemporary America, with tenured pinheads and political sociopaths using various groups as guinea pigs to live out their pet theories. Look what they did, for example, to the black family by interfering with its organic evolution. Although this has resulted in the destruction of millions of lives, the left will never be called to answer for the crime in this life or in this world.

Siedentop goes into how Christianity was first understood in rather concrete terms, at least among pagan peoples for whom there was a greater psychopneumatic developmental leap. For example, he notes that in the 6th century, the Mass "was assimilated to the immemorial habit of offering 'sacred' meals to ancestors." Thus, "Despite their new beliefs, Christians continued to feed the dead."

Which, I think, is preferable to the way of Islamists or tenured revolutionaries who simply hold a gun to your head or sword to your neck and invite you to accept their new abstraction.

Siedentop notes that "Only in the seventh century did the Eucharist -- the Mass -- lose this quality of a 'meal' relayed from the family to the dead." This is a fascinating observation, because it demonstrates how Christianity only gradually cured man of religion -- or of one of the default religions of mankind, ancestor worship.

As the more abstract understanding of the Eucharist is setting in, we see a parallel development, a "profound change" involving "a new fascination with the 'day of judgment,' the fate of the individual soul after death." People -- individuals -- increasingly worried "about sin and its consequences for the individual on that final day of reckoning."

You might say that this is the birth of anxiety as we have come to know it. Or, it is a redirection of whatever it is that preceded anxiety -- just fear of the external world, I guess -- toward the internal world.

So, "little wonder" that scholars such as Peter Brown "identify in this questioning a new depth of self-consciousness -- which is to say, a more individualized picture of the way things are."

And back to my own long cherished Pet Theory, we also see "the beginnings of a clearer separation of moral from physical phenomena," accompanied by an "all-important struggle within the self to create an upright will." In other words, man had to first discover the voluntary in order to perceive the involuntary. Which is maybe why Islamist slaves have no understanding or appreciation of freedom.

This developmental shift has other delightful ramifications, for example, a new distrust of merely deductive argument in favor of a more empirical approach -- you know, actually observing the world instead of simply accepting the axioms, principles, and models of authorities. People at the leading edge of cosmic evolution "began to strip intentionality from the physical world" -- i.e., disentangle world and psyche -- which is a prerequisite of the scientific method.

One has only to argue with a post-Christian liberal to appreciate how impossible it is to reason with people who have no clear distinction between the external world and the projected content of their own minds.


Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Islam: concrete, literal, and enslaving, three sides of the same coin.

1/09/2015 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

People at the leading edge of cosmic evolution "began to strip intentionality from the physical world," which is a prerequisite of the scientific method.

Even today, I think, a great many people have a very difficult time with this, especially when something bad happens. That is, when misfortune strikes there is often an underlying assumption that one is somehow being punished, when really it's just that either sometimes bad things happen, or sometimes we do things that have negative consequences. Especially, I think, over things that feel intensely personal, such as a bad health event like a tumor or a miscarriage. There are Christian communities who believe that if one prays hard enough, or properly enough, good things will happen... and thus conversely, bad fortune is an indicator of sinfulness.

Even after two thousand years, some mentalities are very hard to correct.

1/09/2015 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Multiculturalism: accepting other peoples' delusions as valid, while equating one's own beliefs with delusions.

1/09/2015 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


That is a tricky one, because to separate the mental from the physical is not necessarily to separate the vertical from the horizontal, e.g., the working of grace.

1/09/2015 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think the difference centers around forced projection of horizontal content vs. a more passive openness to vertical phenomena.

1/09/2015 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, just so. Reminds me, I received Metaxas' Miracles for Christmas; interesting read, though I don't know if I'd call it Raccoonish. Had I not had some interesting experiences of my own over the years, some of the personal tales he includes at the end would have pegged my BSometer to the breaking point. Instead, I can only wonder.

1/09/2015 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yeah, Miracles was ultimately a disappointment, as are his other books. Generally one can only be so intelligent if outside Tradition.

1/09/2015 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yeah. Plus, for a book like that to have a wider appeal, it can only be so challenging.

1/09/2015 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Concrete, backward, and mind parasite-infested.

1/09/2015 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"In Haiti, a key way to improve mental healthcare is to work with religious leaders from Catholic, Protestant and voodoo faiths"

Wow. One of these things is not like the others.

1/09/2015 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, except one can imagine how Catholicism could at least provide a concrete bridge from voodooism where Protestantism cannot, as in today's post on how pagans gradually transitioned from ancestor worship via the Eucharist.

Of course, the witch doctors of the left would argue that weaning people from voodooism is cultural genocide.

1/09/2015 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...


It occurs to me that the average Protestant might consider Catholicism to be voodoo with a nicer reputation.

1/09/2015 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Concrete. Maybe the victims can sue the guru for severance pay.

1/09/2015 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, my. I laughed, but really that's awful. How warped must a man's mind be to voluntarily unman himself while letting the guru carry on with all the womenfolk? I like how this guy is called an ascetic, when it is pretty clear that he is precisely the opposite.


Re. Bob Dobbs, that's another one I got for Christmas...

1/09/2015 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Better than Dianetics, the Book of Mormon, and Deepak Chopra's latest combined.

1/09/2015 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Bonus: if you don't feel like reading the contents, it doubles as a flip book.

1/09/2015 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Is it the first or second? The first is much better. Writing it required tremendous familiarity with a range of occult weirdness.

1/09/2015 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I don't know. I got the link from your sidebar some years back, and added it to my wish list. Says "Revised in 1979," if that helps.

1/09/2015 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's probably the one. Don't gaze at the cover too long or you'll scorch your soul.

1/09/2015 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Bob sez:
For example, he notes that in the 6th century, the Mass "was assimilated to the immemorial habit of offering 'sacred' meals to ancestors." Thus, "Despite their new beliefs, Christians continued to feed the dead."

Read part of a book once. Chesterton's St. Francis. He mentioned that the first 1000 years of Christianity were spent curing Europe of paganism. I wasn't sure what he was getting at. Makes more sense now.

1/09/2015 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, very good point. Likewise, think of how long the Jews have spent trying to cure the world of polytheism.

1/09/2015 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"As an aside, I think it is important to read the Commandments as going against human nature, otherwise why would they be necessary? Their existence seems to imply that there is a default setting in human nature that moves in the opposite direction..."

Yes there is - falling downnnnnnn.....!!!

1/09/2015 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, as to what John said, there's the old joke about how if you want to be a pagan, you should really join the Catholic Church. There's great truth in that, in that it does have ways to reach the full range of humanity, from the most concrete to the most intellectual.

1/09/2015 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The communion of saints, guardian angels, the divine feminine, theophagy, sacred spaces, a godman... What's not to like for a pagan?

1/09/2015 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

IRT the Commandments being against human nature, or at least against fallen human nature as Van points out:

Leftists, and not an insignificant number of conservatives/libertarians provide excellent examples. of this.
For example, I have often heard people say that they consider themselves to be good, or mostly good, and that every human in the world has this inate goodness and that evil is relatively rare, except for conservative Christians, who are obviously more evil than muslim terrorists.

It's no coincidence that people with those views also think that every human yearns for liberty.
Now, I think it is true that everyone wants to be free to an extent.
For example, Islamists wanna be free to force others to believe as they do or else, and leftists wanna be free to force everyone to be a slave to the state, mob rule and to follow their proven bad ideology.

But there is no real liberty unless one is willing to allow others to have individual liberty.
Relatively few humans want real freedom.

Note that those who don't want real liberty, and who consider themselves good, have no problem thumbing their nose at the Commandments to not hurt other humans by lying, envying, stealing, lusting, etc..

They may give lip service to the Golden Rule but they never follow it.

1/09/2015 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"It occurs to me that the average Protestant might consider Catholicism to be voodoo with a nicer reputation."

Aye. Having read comments at some of the conservative sites such as Townhall there is indeed some Protestants who are quite vocal about the "evils" of Catholicism.
Some are very obsessive about it too. I guess it makes them feel morally superior or something.

Every once in awhile I'll reply and say "lighten up, Francis."

1/09/2015 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the irrational and ahistorical nature of that crowd is pretty marked. They seem to think Jesus wrote the Bible instead of it being selected and assembled by the Church.

1/09/2015 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I mean, I'm not Catholic but facts are facts.

1/09/2015 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Precisely. Reminds me of those, mostly on the left that attempt to equate the Crusaders to muslim terrorists.
Obviously, they are unaware or deny that the Crusades was a defensive response to an Islamic attack on the West.
Without the Crusades Islam would've prevailed.

This is another example of the dangers of PS concreteness.
They miss the irony of what would happen to them under Islam.

1/09/2015 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

An outstanding post by Dan Greenfield:

1/09/2015 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I was just reading too about how the Crusades gave an otherwise, er, "multicultural" Europe a more distinct identity because of the common enemy. If only that could occur now!

1/09/2015 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'm not an expert but I'm certain the Crusaders didn't tolerate any dhimmis in their midst.

I would venture to say that the Crusades was a big leap towards the idea of liberty.
Especially considering how close they came to losing.

The odds were also stacked heavily against our Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. A Crusade against tyranny.
Proving that Divine Providence exists.

1/09/2015 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Re: the non-universality of Freedom. That's a fun debate-bomb to throw in a room full of tenured, inbred thought.

In our own culture we can see how many choose slavery and can't be redeemed out of it by money alone. The sad truth is that it takes generations of Truth to teach us freedom. Haiti is not prepared for freedom. Much of Cuba is no longer fit for freedom. Mentally and culturally everyone is always prepared to not be oppressed, but few are prepared to work out a life in the borderlessness of freedom.

1/10/2015 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Addendum: the borderlessness of freedom is anarchy in the horizontal, but life and peace and order in the vertical. It's why the vertical must come first, to help the horizontal look like it.

1/10/2015 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, just so.

Or put another way, most people want a carapace, when what they need is a spine. But if the spine isn't developed and the carapace is taken away, all that's left is a blobby invertebrate.

1/10/2015 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Like Republican leadership that hopes to do away with Conservatives... jellyfish.

1/10/2015 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I do love the new Captcha application. It is almost a swearing-in for the Raccoon. "I'm not a robot."

Just one little click of internal determination is really all it takes. "I am not an animal!!" would also be fun.

1/10/2015 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Oh this is good, because as I was reading this post, I was thinking of the word, "constrained" freedom. Twitter steps up with linkage to Bill Whittle.

1/10/2015 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the Captcha, only downside is, it doesn't usually say anything interesting. I did get "safic" yesterday, but figured it was aimed at someone else.

1/10/2015 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Joan said "...I was thinking of the word, "constrained" freedom. Twitter steps up with linkage to Bill Whittle."

And I was immediately thinking of Thomas Sowell's (lol, autocorrect Sooo wants that to be 'Scowls') A Conflict of Visions . Of course, Whittle, being Whittle, was there way before me.

1/10/2015 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I miss Whittle's essays, though. Don't know why, but most of the time I'd rather read it than have to watch someone just talk, no matter how much I like them.

Come to think of it, I always had a hard time sitting through lectures, too...

1/10/2015 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"In reality, the liberal ideological comfort zone is incredibly narrow. If an issue can’t be turned into a critique of America... then the conversation must be pulled in that direction. It’s simply where their minds go. Rhetorically they have to fight every fight on home turf." (rdbrewer)

Excellent comment at Ace by Brewer.

1/10/2015 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Bottom line: Islam is not the cause of Islam, and if you disagree, you're an Islamophobe, in which case Muslims are instructed to strike terror in your heart and cut off your head (Sura 8:12). And fingertips, which seems redundant.

1/11/2015 08:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Allah said...

Allah is not redundant! Off with his head and fingertips!

1/11/2015 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

First we'll cut off your head and then, if you make us really mad we'll cut off your fingertips!

Rage! Rage against the light!
Rage! Rage with all your might!
Throw Timmy in the well!
Kill the infidel!
Get your rage on!
It's for Allah mon!
Rage against the profit!
Just like our Prophet!
Wage in rage!
Kill that sage!
Blow up that snack bar!
Allah ackbar!

Just give rage a chance!
With or without pants!
You know Allah wills it!
So go on and kill it!

Engage in your rage!
Don't be a sage!
Thinking is for the deads!
That's why we cut off their heads!
When we be really hips!
We cut off your fingertips!

Yakkity yak, just attack!
Imagine all the killing!
It isn't hard to do!
Unless your blade is dull!

1/11/2015 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That last song is by the Islamic band
Rage Against The Latrine!

1/11/2015 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

First they came for the.... Actually, they came for everybody, and the left still said nothing.

1/11/2015 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I was going to try a thought experiment yesterday wondering what the mainstream left would do (or rather say, since we already know they wouldn't do anything) if a bunch of prominent Western feminists organized a slut walk in a Muslim country - Saudi Arabia, for instance (stop laughing, I'm trying to imagine a world where their principles have some modicum of meaning) - and the entirely predictable happened: the sluts out walking with their arms and legs shockingly exposed would be arrested, raped, and possibly even executed. Not necessarily in that order. Who would they side with? The rapists or the slut walkers?

Then I realized, that pretty much already happened with Lara Logan; if memory serves, she didn't get much support or sympathy from the left...

1/11/2015 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Dear Raccoons,
Mushroom, Dwaine has an important message at his blog.
He can really use our support right now and our prayers.
I know he is hurtin' and it's difficult to know what to say during times like this but I also know how much it means.

Dwaine is our brother and I know everyone here loves him dearly so let's let him know.

1/12/2015 03:52:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks, Ben.

1/12/2015 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Thanks Ben.

1/12/2015 06:00:00 AM  

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