Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Spiritual Gnosis vs. Progressive Gnosticism

It's a shame when one perfectly good word gets tarred by another through no fault of its own. A case in point is genuine spiritual gnosis vs. the political "gnosticism" discussed by the philosopher Eric Voegelin. In the April 7, 2008 National Review, Jonah Goldberg has a very insightful article on the politics of left wing gnosticism as it pertains to the Obama campaign, a campaign that goes to the very core of the left's spiritual pathology. It again demonstrates what happens when one abandons the "authorized" channels of religiosity for manmade ones, which ends up elevating man to a god and politics to his religion. In so doing, it collapses the critical distinctions between time and eternity, natural and transnatural, freedom and constraint, and other essential complementarities within which man lives -- and without which, he isn't a man at all.

As an aside, it is ironic that Obama is hailed as someone who can "unify the nation," when he can't even unify his own party. To the contrary, this has been the most divisive Democrat campaign in 40 years. The things they say about Hillary on left wing sites far surpasses the invective of conservatives, if only because the left is so much more handy with expletives than ideas. I don't like Hillary because of her policies, whereas the far left loves her policies but hates her because she stands in the way of their messiah.

One difference between gnosis and gnosticism is that people without spiritual gnosis -- e.g., atheists and materialists -- are necessarily "exterior" to the domain it discloses, and yet, proclaim this infirmity to be a kind of superiority. In contrast, a person who is not seduced by the group fantasy of gnosticism is in a superior position to judge it, since he remains within the confines of objective reality. In this regard, it would be interesting to know how many of Obama's supporters claim to be "irreligious" (or, like Obama himself, belong to heretical gnostic Christian churches that preach a spirtitually upside down "liberation theology"), as this would tend to confirm my view that real religion is the best defense against false ones.

We shouldn't be surprised that the spiritual path of the left mirrors the stages of purification, illumination and union, only in reverse. First comes union with the new messiah. For example, Goldberg notes that "Obama recruiters are encouraged to proselytize not by talking about 'issues' but by testifying about how they 'came to' the candidate..." In short, there must be a "conversion" process, a "metanoia," in which the scales suddenly fall from the Obamian's eyes and he "sees" the truth and joins the cult.

Goldberg writes that "Obama’s apostles include his wife, Michelle, who insists she is 'married to the only person in this race who has a chance at healing this nation.'" In this regard, she has testified that “We need a leader who’s going to touch our souls because, you see, our souls are broken.... The change Barack is talking about is hard, so don’t get too excited, because Barack is going to demand that you, too, be different.”

Thus, after one merges with Obama and is illuminated by the Truth for which he stands, ones commences with the hard work of purification, as we struggle to make ourselves worthy of the grace we have received. In other words, ask not what Obama can do for you. Ask what you can do for Obama.

Goldberg cites numerous examples to show how much of the messianic language that encircles Obama "is more New Age than New Testament." He quotes Gary Hart, who says that the Anointed One "is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians,” but is an "agent of transformation in an age of revolution,” whatever that means. Likewise, the dreadful spirit hustler and enlightenment pimp, Deepak Chopra, claims that Obama represents “a quantum leap in American consciousness,” while another pneumapath and career guru, Eve Konstantine, says that he “is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings.... He’s our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence.” (Deepest knowings? She doesn't even know that "knowings" isn't a word.) And Oprah Winfrey suggests that Obama doesn't only "speak" truth but is the Truth who will help us “evolve to a higher plane.”

Of course, in left wing gnosticism, God does not work through the individual. Nor does he work through the interior collective, or any kind of "higher we." Rather, he works through the instrument of that coerced labor camp known as "the state," which will take control over the spontaneous order of the free market and attenuate the true "interior bonds" of civil society. For progressives, liberty is not the solution, it's the problem, because it tends to lead to the exercise of free will, which in turn emphasizes the sanctity of the individual.

The heart of Goldberg's piece involves a discussion of Voegelin's point that progressivism is a political religion and therefore a form of gnosticism. This religion has "two core assumptions. First, it condemns the existing world as broken and alienating, plagued by evil forces preventing a complete and happy restoration of man’s spiritual and material life."

So the progressive, in his own garbled way, recognizes that man is "fallen." However, "the gnostic promise, to borrow a phrase from John Edwards, is that 'it doesn’t have to be this way.'" Thus, the second assumption; as Russell Kirk observed, these religions promise "a mode of deliverance or salvation from the prison of the world for man through a secret gnosis." By manipulating people with the right policies, we can create a "'kingdom of heaven on earth' -- not coincidentally, a phrase invoked by Bolsheviks, progressives, fascists, and every other variety of utopian collectivist. This effort to lasso the hereafter and pull it down to the here-and-now was dubbed by Voegelin 'immanentizing the eschaton'" (Goldberg).

Different demoninotions of leftism will have different secret formulas and incontations to create their utopia. For Marxists, "the secret lay in the intricacies of scientific socialism.' With just the right manipulation of material or historical forces we could -- ta-da! -- create a land where each lives according to his need.... For the progressives, the trick was giving ourselves over to the social planners and gnostic 'ideologists of Christ'.... today, the secret is Barack Obama." Goldberg cites a creepy video "in which children testify about the dire state of the world." It then "cuts to a baby opening a copy of The Audacity of Hope, complete with a whispery spirit voice promising a 'secret.' The video concludes with one child after another announcing that the secret is -- Barack Obama."

As I mentioned above, the wave of Obama support rides on a deep structure of religious energy that is unrecognized by those most susceptible to it. In fact, as Goldberg says -- and I have argued in the past -- "the craving to create a heaven on earth is the inevitable consequence of a godless society." Or, to paraphrase Pope Benedict, "the loss of transcendence leads to the flight to utopia."

The very definition of "totalitarianism" is the "existential rule of Gnostic activists": "Indeed, the story of totalitarianism is the story of men trying to replace the allegedly discredited old God with one of their own creation." So de-divinization always preceeds the "redivinization" of explicit left wing brainwashing. This is certainly how it worked for me in college. First you discredit religion, and then replace it with with a pseudo-religion that occupies the vacant spiritual territory. It took me years to undo this ironically named "higher education."

From this follows the worship of man -- not even Man as Such, the image and likeness of the Creator -- but usually a man. "Or, in Voegelin’s words, they 'build the corpus mysticum of the collectivity and bind the members to form the oneness of the body.” In short, we finally become the ones we’ve been waiting for. Or, more accurately, you will be forced to wait upon the narcissism and self-victimization of the infantile ones constituting the progressive mob.

Perhaps tomorrow we'll get into the actual meaning of true gnosis.


NoMo said...

I just wanted to be the first to say, "brilliant". This deserves a WIDE audience. Thanks!

Although I don't believe the dems have a speck of a chance this time around (it's just too scary), better understanding what's driving the mania is crucial.

dloye said...

What nomo said! I don't think the wider audience will read it, but the refrain keeps running...
"just drink the koolaid." Sadly, freedom means we can just keep trying to fill the holes in our lifes with drugs, material goods, celebrities and whatever other distraction serves to mask the pain. Thus as a society we've become vulnerable to cult psychology, and politics as religion.

Yes please push farther on gnosis. Meanwhile may we all push back on BHO, and keep pushing. The man as president? Well it ought to scare us all.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

In contrast to the false profit BO, who offers his law, a law that proceedes from his will, I prefer this:

"To me Moses is all men grown to gigantic proportions.
He was a man of immense ability, immense emotions, immense humanness and immense dedication. There is something of Moses in each of us — the more there is, the better we are.

It is interesting to note that once Moses climbs Mt. Sinai and talks to God there is never contentment for him again. That is the way it is with us. Once we talk to God, once we get his commission to us for our lives we cannot be again content. We are happier. We are busier. But we are not content because then we have a mission — a commission, rather.

Moses is the keystone to every man's ethical code. He was the first man of record in history to conceive of the law as separate from the will of a ruler, to choose whether a man should live by grace of law, or law by grace of man. In a literal sense Moses lives at every council table today."

Charlton Heston

The spiritual pathology Obama (and the left) tries to force upon us, is the exact opposite of the free gift of God.

Those like Obama can't conceive of the law as separate from the will of a ruler.
Therefor there is no truth or justice in Obama's "law".
There is only tyranny.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"...real religion is the best defense against false ones."

That's a keeper, Bob!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"In other words, ask not what Obama can do for you. Ask what you can do for Obama."

Bravo Zulu Bob! That's a slam dunk description of the submanbama!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The very definition of "totalitarianism" is the "existential rule of Gnostic activists": "Indeed, the story of totalitarianism is the story of men trying to replace the allegedly discredited old God with one of their own creation." So de-divinization always preceeds the "redivinization" of explicit left wing brainwashing."

The tower of babble erected to Obama the mama...that
ill-loonimating city of the abyss.

QP said...

Bob, Just finished making this post into a PDF to launch into cyberspace. I consider it a new front in the counteroffensive for Team Truth. With boundless gratitude, qp

Dusty said...

This was an awesome post, Bob! Interesting topic.

Alan said...

What a post - a density of intensity!

spiritual gnosis vs. progressive gnosticism:

sublimating the physical vs. repressing the spiritual.

Integration vs. uncontrolled eruption

Freedom vs. slavery

bob f. said...

"Lord of the Flies" anyone?

We can only hope a grownup, the naval officer, shows up in time...

Jim said...

Bob that was one fine post.

B Hussein O would be a disaster for this country and I think the rest of the world. His anger and rage could spill over in a foolish reaction to an international incident. It may be similar to Clinton's stupid bombing of Christians in Bosnia to defend Mo's boys, who would, if they could bomb, the U.S.

And fugetabout his socialist domestic policies. He should alarm every American that loves his country.

will said...

>>We shouldn't be surprised that the spiritual path of the left mirrors the stages of purification . . . <<

It really is monastic, in a sense, this leftist insistence on purification. Thus "re-education camps", diversity/sensitivity training, the whole nine yardage of PC crap.

Example: Mao's "Cultural Revolution" - those accused of counter-revolutionary thought, if they were lucky enough to survive, were held in cells, forced to admit their mental "contaminations" - an aping of the spiritual self-examination you'd find in a monastery.

Speaking of Mao - those Chinese thugs who accompanied the Olympic torch in England and France . . . you could see the dull but brutal light of political "purity" right there.

As far as BHO's call for "unity" - as J Goldberg points out in Liberal Fascism, the fascist progressives always call for Unity with a capital U. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but did not JC say he came not to bring peace (unity) as the world counts peace, but rather the sword of separation?

Anonymous said...

dilys here:

A young blogger cited by Classical Values has it pegged: ObamaSpeak as the manifestation of a legacy of the Evangelists of  “Fake Wisdom thought” conceived in the anti-rationalist atmosphere of the Antebellum South.

credential-less Pathological Liar to be interpreted as Eloquent, Articulate, and Charismatic, because the color is right. With Obama, America’s moral compass is disappearing into a dimly lit layer of “pretend-thinking” and “Fake Wisdom Thought”....

Yes, credential-less. Every time he or Mrs. O'Articulate opens his or her mouth, my Harvard Law degree becomes worth less than a plugged Lincoln penny.

Anonymous said...

"As an aside, it is ironic that Obama is hailed as someone who can "unify the nation," when he can't even unify his own party. To the contrary, this has been the most divisive Democrat campaign in 40 years."

Of course, given that there is no substantive difference between the two democrats, they must resort to divisive tactics. It reminds me of the Republican primaries of 2000, and I found this from McCain's campaign manager:


Again, that was an instance where the two leftists, in this case Republicans, had no real differences, and therefore, needed to resort to smearing to secure "victory".

Lisa said...

I simply cannot understand the fascination with this man they call Obama. From what I can see he is just another fascist/marxist racist who wants to take our money. You are so right about him trying to replace God with himself. I'm surprised these anti-religion "progressives" are so enthralled and get all tingly over him. Personally, his Sharpei smile really creeps me out, superficially speaking, but his ideas are what really scare the bejesus out of me!

ximeze said...

bob f. said:
"Lord of the Flies" anyone?

Say bob f, you must have been watching the Patraeus/Crocker hearing today too. Yup, those boys on the island have set up a Senate Committee to put themselves on display.

We can only hope a grownup, the Army officer, shows up in time...

Anonymous said...

IN our group of seers we refer to Barack Obama as "the hidden spear."

For any who wish for the rise of Mars, pleasure awaits. Obama will write his name as large as Napoleon, although not as large as Alexander the Great.

He will ask for, and recieve, our blood and treasure in heaps which make the current expenditures look paltry.

Breatherian said...

Obama reminds me of Wiley Brooks. Will you bring me to Earth Prime, Barry?


mushroom said...

Wiley Brooks? -- how about Wiley E. Coyote? -- or perhaps that's the HillBill.

I saw part of the smug Senate smarmy smearing. "Please don't try to shatter our concrete illusions with the truth." I'd say "Lord of the Flies" is a good call.

Bob said: We shouldn't be surprised that the spiritual path of the left mirrors the stages of purification, illumination and union, only in reverse. First comes union with the new messiah.

First the Borg assimilates you. First the Zombies bite you and turn you into one of them.

Bob said: and I have argued in the past -- "the craving to create a heaven on earth is the inevitable consequence of a godless society." Or, to paraphrase Pope Benedict, "the loss of transcendence leads to the flight to utopia."

Perhaps the opposite is also true. Is there a desire by some Christians to see hell on earth? The dystopian vision of the Left Behind series certainly did not sell millions of copies based literary merits.

River Cocytus said...

Lord of the Flies ... here ...

Also, interesting stuff...

Van said...

You know, I'm often fascinated with peoples perceptions of the end of civilization... always seems to end in nuclear war, or Omega Man/I Am Legend like scenario's - what they often don't get is that, well yes, those would end civilization - but they are not necessary for the end of civilization. The end of civilization doesn't require the destruction of our buildings and cool stuff - just the destruction of our civility, our art, our integrity – our way of life. When we end our reverence or even recognition of the Good, the Beautiful and the True - we end civilization - doesn't mean you won't still be able to earn a paycheck, or more likely, collect a welfare check.

If BO leads us down the socialist path, the rest of our civilization will go away, because there will be nothing there to retain it.

Don't wait to become a remnant folks, stop it in its tracks now while you still can. Don't let the innocous "Oh, he seems so nice" go by without a gut check of "Yes, but will you still think so when breast cancer patients are put on a four month wait list for chemotherapy?" or "Will you feel as good when heads are again rolling in Iraq?" or "Will it put a smile on your face when your child is forced to volunteer for universal public service?

When Bastiat's definition of the State is realized as "... the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else", how many smiles will you be able to spare through the weariness of supporting everyone else? How much generosity will you experience as you try to hide away any and as many 'valuables' (you know, sugar, soap... toothpaste) without your neighbor catching on that you have some... when Barry is pressing Change! getting the economy going again! by having farmers again destroying tons of crops, disposing of 'excess' livestock in pits, pouring excess milk down sewers- while people starve all around, just as happened last time when it was FDR's Folly .

Or you could just ask why the post racial candidate of good feelings had a delegate fired for warning her neighbors kids not to climb around so high in the tree like monkey's - as she often said to her own grandkids as well. "As for Obama, he displayed his post-racial outlook by saying he saw no racism and that the woman obviously meant no harm since she said the same of her own grandchildren. Just kidding. In fact, the Obama campaign persuaded Sliwinski to step aside as a delegate calling her remarks "divisive and unacceptable."

The nice guys nice intentions won't need to destroy our buildings to destroy our civilization.

Golem14 said...

Bob's posts often seem to mirror some point I happened to be thinking about just a day or two before (syncoonicity, I guess)-- in this case, I'm in the middle of re-reading Vladimir Solovyov's "War, Progress, and the End of History". One of the characters is a political-gnostic type called the Prince, who expounds a kind of atheistic Christianity (minus the Resurrection, etc.), and another character, "Mr. Z.", says to him:

"...you not only admit with everyone else the fact of death as such, but you raise this fact to the position of an absolute law which does not in your opinion permit of a single exception. But what should we call the world in which death forever has the force of an absolute law if not the Kingdom of Death? And what is your Kingdom of God on Earth but an arbitrary and purposeless euphemism for the Kingdom of Death?"

You can tell whose side Solovyev is on! Anyway, I recommend the book very highly because it touches on a lot of what's being discussed here-- it was written in 1899, but I think the points made in it are still relevant.