Friday, August 04, 2017

Liberation (from reality) Theology

It's Friday, so time for... another rambling freeform post, I guess. Possibly very offensive material ahead, but it is what it is. I won't stop until I've offended and alienated every last reader!

Lest anyone think I'm bagging on Protestantism, first of all, I'm only bagging on Luther, who strikes me as a gold-plated madman. But let's give some equal time to Pope Francis, who, with all due respect, is some combination of crazy, stupid, ignorant, indifferent, and/or demonic.

I can say that because I'm not a formal member of the Church. Rather, I only love the Church -- especially the Nonlocal Church Triumphant, what with all those visible saints and hidden cluminaries who continue to enrich my life immeasurably, but also the true Church Militant consisting of local Christians "who struggle as soldiers of Christ against sin, the devil, and 'the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.'"

I can't help it. It's what I really think, especially after reading The Political Pope. Seriously: has there ever been a pope this loved by Christ's enemies and persecutors?

I can't vouch for the scholarship of the author, but he provides evidence that "liberation theology" was invented by the KGB, who even came up with the misleading name. It was an explicit attempt to infiltrate and influence the Church, to convert people to communism "through the judicious manipulation of religion," "the secret task of which was to incite Latin America's poor to rebel against the 'institutionalized violence of poverty' generated by the United States."

I still remember Pope John Paul confronting that Marxist priest on the tarmac in Nicaragua in 1983 and ripping him a new one: YOU MUST STRAIGHTEN OUT YOUR POSITION WITH THE CHURCH! Truly, the sainted Pope could hammer Francis with the identical words. Marxism or Christianity. It's one or the other, Padre.

For the record, I myself was probably at peak leftitude in 1983, so I very much sympathized with the chastened priest. I can't say I regarded John Paul the way I do Francis, because I wouldn't have thought of the former as demonic, just a reactionary malefactor steeped in magical thinking getting in the way of Progress.

Pope Benedict too "repeatedly warned the faithful to reject 'liberation theology,' a Marxist-inspired ideology disguised as concern for the poor..." But Francis is doing his best to rehabilitate this heresy, praising its "high concept of humanity," reinstating defrocked priests and condemned theologians, and appointing these purveyors of anti-Christian doctrine to important advisory positions.

Likewise, in reference to free market capitalism he tellingly deploys the left-wing smear of "trickle-down economics," and proclaims that "inequality is the root of all evil." He seems better suited to Occupy Wall Street than the Vatican.

Oh yeah, I remember. God punishes Adam and Eve because they trigger Him with loose talk about a natural right to private property. The snake puts it in Eve's ear that socialism is both false and unjust, and God responds by kicking them out of their Venezuelan paradise.

Beyond ironically, the actual origin of evil may be traced to "Satan's refusal to accept inequality." Satan rebels out of envy, as "he couldn't tolerate his lesser status." The mere existence of God is a wound to his narcissistic sense of entitlement.

There is nothing in the Commandments in praise of equality. Indeed, the first and fourth commandments mandate cosmic hierarchy and inequality (in reference to our local and nonlocal parents), while the ninth and tenth instruct the faithful to STRAIGHTEN OUT YOUR POSITION WITH ENVY! As in, STOP IT!

But as Churchill well knew, socialism is the ideology of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of ENVY. Gospel, mind you: ultimately the anti-gospel of the anti-Christ. And prior to its badness is its ignorance, in that "Being precedes Truth" and "Truth precedes the Good" (Pieper):

Truth, then, is the prerequisite of justice. Whoever rejects truth, whether natural or supernatural, is really 'wicked' and beyond conversion.... 'All laws and rules of conduct may ultimately be reduced to a single one: to truth.'

For the virtue of prudence resides in this: that the objective cognition of reality shall determine action; that the truth of real things shall become determinative.... This in turn necessitates that the egocentric 'interests' of man be silenced in order that he may perceive the truth of real things, and so that reality itself may guide him to the proper means for realizing his goal.

Oh, and covetousness "means more than the disorderly love of money and property." Rather, it includes "immoderate straining for all the possessions which man thinks are needed to assure his own importance and status," an "overriding concern for confirmation and security."

It reminds me of something Schuon says about how each assimilation of a truth results in a little death for the ego. Truth "is dependent upon the constant readiness to ignore the self," on "the limberness of real humility and objectivity" (Pieper).

The point is, moral action must be rooted in truth, i.e., an objective perception of reality. Now, socialism is very much a subjective perception of reality, which is to say, no reality at all. Look at Venezuela: it is what happens when passionately moral actions (giving those idiots the benefit of the doubt) are rooted in desire instead of truth. The roads built by the Good Intentions Paving Company travel in one direction only.

And if this book on Francis is correct, then he is one of them -- a member in good standing of the Socialist Church Militant. Fellow member Cornel West calls him "a gift from heaven." Talk about damning with fulsome praise.

Of course, I would love to be wrong. But it is difficult to conceive of a cosmos in which praise from the likes of Cornel West isn't a grave indictment.

The left claims that the guilty party in a conflict is not the one who covets another's goods but the one who defends his own.

Envy differs from the other vices by the ease with which it disguises itself as a virtue.

The devil can achieve nothing great without the careless collaboration of the virtues.

There is no noble substitute for gratitude.

The error lies not in dreaming that secret gardens exist, but in dreaming they have doors. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Bad Religion Drives Out Good

Is that true?

In economics, Gresham's Law is the principle that bad money drives out good. This is because, as Prof. Wiki explains, "if there are two forms of commodity money in circulation, which are accepted by law as having similar face value, the more valuable commodity will disappear from circulation." Human nature being what it is, people will hold on to the good stuff and pass along the bad.

Now, the ultimate purpose of religion is simply conformity with the nature of things, both horizontal and vertical. Or in other words, it is not only true, but the ground, substance, and telos of Truth. Obviously, religion speaks to "ultimate truth." But reality is easily displaced by a spectrum of alternatives, all the way down to the lie and beyond, to a hatred of truth itself.

It is one thing for anti-religious ideologies to reject truth. That is their purpose. But when religion does it, that, it seems to me, is taking the name of the Lord in vain.


Okay, Douthat points out that the fundamentalist movement of the early 20th century was in reaction to certain scientific developments:

[T]he challenge of Darwinism and biblical criticism threw this style of faith into crisis. From the 1920s onward, American Evangelicals responded by retreating into the intellectual cul-de-sac of fundamentalism..." In so doing they "gradually embraced interpretations of the Bible that would have been foreign to earlier Christian authorities...

How foreign? Well, it's a bit like a parallel form of Marxism that provides "all the answers to anyone willing to embrace its self-enclosed system of interpretation." You have only to believe one falsehood, and the rest follows.

Marxism is not a philosophy in any meaningful sense of the word, but precisely the opposite, being that it isn't open to the world, but rather, a closed system superimposed upon the world. As such, it is a kind of omniscient methodological stupidity with no cure within its own resources. Still, it has probably been the most successful ideology ever at persecuting and banishing truth.

Every year the university cranks out thousands of young adolts in whom bad ideas have driven out the good.

Yesterday a friend mentioned that his niece recently graduated from one of these neo-Marxist seminaries with the sincere delusion that she is so stained by White Privilege that she is nearly paralyzed with guilt. She is actually considering giving away all her material possessions, which is a refreshing departure from the usual procedure of forcing the rest of us to give up ours in order to assuage their morally superior guilt: the statism of the left is virtue signaling by proxy.

Nor is fundamentalism a philosophy. And proud of it! From its standpoint, it is merely a case of driving out bad -- which is to say, satanic -- ideas. Again, Luther was of the belief that all ideas emanating from man are bad. For him the intellect is depraved along with everything else. He was trained at an institute that had

rejected the rationality of the Thomist tradition, teaching that human ideas have no real relation to things but are mere labels or symbols for what the mind perceives.... He resolved the dilemma by deciding that the crucial element in reconciling an individual to God was a spontaneous act of faith, in return for which God granted justification.

This leads directly to "the modern misconception of faith as an essentially irrational position, a sacrifice of reason to religious duty, as if there were some virtue in the suspension of the proper faculties of the intellect for God's sake" (Rao).

Boom. Bad religion drives out good. Which results in a defective map of the vertical. Meanwhile, the left's triumph over reason leads to a collapse of the horizontal. What is liberation theology but a lame attempt to resuscitate the vertical with a bad map of the horizontal? Conversely, what is Antifa style leftism but a sick attempt to enliven the horizontal with a bad internalized map of the vertical? (In other words, leftism is in the end a sick and deviant religion.)

For different reasons, both camps have forsaken the link to objective reality. No wonder they fight so! Is there a way out of this mess? Well, yeah. It's called Christianity.

In Thoughtful Theism, the author quotes one of his professors, who -- after rolling his eyes -- informed him that "The debate about evolution is not a debate between science and religion, and never has been. It is is a debate between atheists and Protestants." And Muslims, I suppose.

In any event, Boom. Both sides believe the existence of God is at stake, but they are wrong. And they are wrong because they have rejected a traditional metaphysics which easily accommodates evolution.

As per the title of this post, "Popular things aren't usually the best quality things. But they are popular, so they spread like wildfire" (ibid.). But as far as the Raccoon is concerned, no one will ever disprove the existence the Absolute, the disproof being proof of its existence.

Bottom line for today:

It seems to me that the heart of the cultural conflict we face today is not between religions, or between religion and irreligion. It seems that the heart of the conflict we have always faced as human beings is between rationality and irrationality.... rationality and theism go together hand in hand (ibid.).


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Rupture: God and Man, Intellect and Truth

Brief timeout for a reset: everything we've discussed in the last month or so has revolved around the question of how to distinguish between good and bad religion.

The new atheist crowd simplifies matters by insisting that all religion is bad religion because religion is bad. Why is it bad? In a word, because it is untrue, which is to say, because it fails to comport with reality, AKA the Nature of Things.

Similarly, the rank-and-file believer simplifies matters by maintaining that his religion is right, while all the others (including atheism) are wrong.

Can it really be this simple? First, what does the atheist mean by "reality"? This is actually a compound question, conflating reality with knowledge of it. In other words, 1) is there an ultimate reality, and 2) can we know it?

But that boat sailed long ago, when Cap'n Kant divided appearances from reality. We can never have real knowledge of things, only of our own categories. Reality is what it is, and we are what we are, and never the twain shall meet. Except maybe in a thoroughly irrational religiosity. But even if religion touches the noumenon, we could never know it. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but we can have only faith, not knowledge.

So: if you believe there is a reality and that man may know it, you are actually on our side, which is to say, the religious side, even -- or especially -- if you are a "scientist." Scientists are not philosophers, but a few of them are beginning to realize -- with great alarm -- that the practice of science is completely incompatible with a leftist metaphysic.

For example, you may pretend one sex is the other, but that's just fantasy, not science -- not reality. You may pretend that illegal immigrants don't suppress wages, or that an unborn human isn't a human, or that women are equivalent to men, or that a high tech civilization can run on solar energy, but these aren't even beliefs, since a belief requires some basis in reality.

I said above that a belief in reality places science on the religious side of the divide. Check me on that. It places science on the orthodox Christian side, as exemplified by Thomas Aquinas. Other religions -- including even post-orthodox versions of Christianity -- downplay or dismiss man's ability to know the truth of reality. And modern and postmodern philosophy are too sophisticated (in the original sense of the term, as in sophistry) to believe such a naive proposition. Deconstruction is simply the reductio ad absurdum of man's exile from an intelligible reality.

And, sorry to say, Protestantism is founded on the principle of man's total depravity, including depravity of the intellect. Just as there is a convergence between orthodox Christianity and science, there is a strange convergence between (original) Protestantism and deconstructionism, in that both would agree that knowledge of reality is an insane pretension.

The separation of intelligence from world results in the separation of truth from will. For Luther, "reason is the devil's harlot" and "can do nothing other than blaspheme and desecrate everything that God speaks and does." For Luther -- as for Islam -- a "rational theology" is an insult to God, since it presumes to enclose and limit his arbitrary will.

This is the original Rupture, and it probably goes back to Genesis 3. What, after all was that about? For Luther our primordial Rupture is complete and total, i.e., man from God and therefore intellect from truth. No longer are there degrees of sinfulness, rather, just Sin and unmerited Grace, either/or. And there's not a damn thing you can do about it, because anything you do is already drenched in sin.

Postmodern philosophy says something quite similar: for example, if you are white, then you are steeped in racism. Pretending otherwise is simply evidence of your bad faith. You are totally depraved by the original sin of racial animus (or sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc.).

By the way, none of this is to suggest that this or that modern-day Protestant rejects Thomist metaphysics and is on board with deconstruction. Nevertheless, the first Protestant not only sharply protested the rationality of the Thomist tradition, but insisted that the attempt to reconcile faith and reason was frankly demonic.

Bottom line: if someone claims that faith and reason are incompatible, don't look at me. That's Luther's claim, not mine. In protesting against reason, methinks he protested too much.

At any rate, Douthat begins with two important points, that "every human culture is religious -- defined by what its inhabitants believe about some ultimate reality, and what they think that reality demands of them"; and "American democracy, while formally secular, has always depended on religion to provide a moral framework for its citizens..." As such, "the eclipse of Christian belief has led, inevitably, to the eclipse of public morality and private virtue alike."

As history played out, mainstream American Christianity ended up deviating markedly from Luther. Most notably, the Founders posited truths that are self-evident and rights that are unalienable. Luther would not have been on board with either. Why would he, if man is totally depraved? As he charmingly put it,

Peasants are no better than straw. They will not hear the word and they are without sense.... Like the drivers of donkeys, who have to belabor the donkeys incessantly with rods and whips, or they will not obey, so must the ruler do with the people; they must drive, beat, throttle, hang, burn, behead, and torture, so as to make themselves feared and to keep the people in check.

These goads will continue until morale improves -- which is to say, until faith and will are in alignment. Don't pay attention to the intelligence, which is just a proud and rebellious usurper.

Not to belabor the point, but the mainstream American Christianity of the founders wasn't like that. But now we have the worst of both worlds: purely faith-based religiosity on the one hand, and the power-based metaphysic of the left on the other. Oddly, both are rooted in the will and estranged from the Intellect of the Founders.

Douthat quotes a passage by Auden, who poses the question: "If, as I am convinced, the Nazis are wrong and we are right, what is it that validates our values and invalidates theirs?"

Note that there is precisely nothing in contemporary leftism that can anchor any objection to Nazism. Multiculturalism and moral relativism specifically assert that there is no objective way to affirm that one culture is superior to another.

Ironically, Hitler believed that political conflict is a matter of the stronger will prevailing. Once you have jettisoned objective truth, all that's left is power and will. Which is why -- "ironically" -- the only organized form of fascism in America is the quintessentially leftist Antifa movement.