Friday, January 14, 2011

Religious Causation and the Climate of Love

Q: What caused that evil assoul to murder six people?

A. Jared Loughner.

Q: What causes liberals to imagine that causes outside Jared Loughner caused Jared Loughner to murder six people? (We are assuming, of course, that he is capable of distinguishing right from wrong.)

A: That is impossible for the liberal to answer, owing to the infinite regression of liberal fantasies about psychic causation. If everything is caused by something less, then so too are liberal ideas about causation.

But the short answer is usually college, where young adults go to eliminate their common sense, the first step in indoctrinating them with liberal ideology. If you can get a person to doubt the most obvious things, then you can get them to doubt anything, from truth, to free will, to objective morality. And this is the space the liberal exploits in order to fill with their nonsense.

As I have mentioned before, just because someone pretends to be irreligious, it hardly means that they actually are. If you consider the fact that virtually all human beings for all of human history have been religious, we're talking about something that is so deeply ingrained in the human being that it would be folly to imagine that one could so easily slip out of this reality by a mere conscious declaration. (Indeed, adopting the moronic view of the psychic determinist, what actually causes the person to reject religion? Perhaps it is just the climate of anti-religious bigotry among our elites.)

It is critical to bear in mind that religion is not just a content, but a container. It is not just a belief system but a dynamic mode of thought. And in order to comprehend religious truth, one must deploy this mode of thought, even if (as is usually the case) it is done unconsciously. No one needs to do it consciously, which is one of the beauties of authentic revelation, which has been "pre-thought," so to speak, by a mind vastly superior to ours.

While the average person routinely draws upon the religious mode of thinking, they have no idea they are doing so -- any more than the person who falls in love is aware of all the unconscious processes that contribute to this phenomenon, and without which it could not occur. No one employs logic to will themselves to fall in love. And it would be absurd for a rationalist to come along and say they don't believe in love just because it escapes their little net of reason.

Rather, once the person enters the "space" of eros, they are entering a kind of ancient cathedral that long antedates their own personal existence. Hidden forces begin to emerge, as if one is suddenly thrust upon the stage of a very old play. Remember?

I do, partly because I was by no means prepared for the forces that were unleashed when I was 17. For a weaker man, it might have been, in the words of Sonny Boy Williamson, her funeral and my trial, but the point is that there are human realities that it would be foolish to pretend we understand, or that we can simply "reject" with our local ego. Nothing could be more naive.

The same obviously applies to religion. Much better to simply acknowledge that one is religious rather than to pretend one has escaped this vital and pervasive mode of thought. For the consciously religious person, it is strictly impossible to escape religiosity as a consequence of our deiform nature. In other words, the plain fact of the matter is that human beings are in the image of their Creator. The absolute abides within us, which is why we may know absolutely -- which is another way of saying know, full stop. It also means that a spark of the "uncaused cause" indwells us, i.e., divine freedom.

Think of what happens when one becomes a mother. It is as if a whole new computer program kicks in. One doesn't have to accept it. Rather, one can only reject it. Many "born again" experiences are analogous to this, in that the person's "religious mode" has suddenly come on line, so they are able to see and understand a whole new dimension of reality that was there all the time, but had gone undetected without the software to discern it. It is no different than what words look like to the illiterate -- just random squiggles.

Which is why when we say that for the leftist, "nothing is sacred," we mean that ironically. For as soon as one says that, the leftist takes offense, which only proves that something is indeed sacred to the leftist, even if it is only irreverence and blasphemy. But the point is, one cannot actually be human and be unaware of the reality of the sacred, even if one idolatrously displaces it to profane objects and ideas. You can even reverse-engineer a person. Find out what is sacred to them, and you have discovered their religion.

I still remember quite vividly when my religious mode came on line and I suddenly found myself on the "other side." I don't want to romanticize this, because it is such a common experience, perhaps only made more noticeable for someone who had made the journey all the way back up from ideological atheism. As I mentioned in the book, it was analogous to those magic eye pictures, in which the third dimension suddenly pops out at you. Or do you pop into it?

Now, a religious practice largely involves maintaining and deepening one's involvement with this previously hidden dimension. At first it might be dimly perceived, or perhaps one moves in and out of it. One reason why I still struggle with conventional religiosity is that I cannot imagine, say, going to a religious service once a week and thinking that that is in any way sufficient to maintain contact with O.

Importantly, the idea of weekly worship evolved in a context that was thoroughly religious. It wasn't as if there were no religion for six days and then religion for one. But because of the radical secularization of our culture, we truly need to develop and internalize our own "private cathedral" that is with us at all times. Modernity brings countless blessings, but we must also be aware of the costs, for there is generally no blessing without a curse (and vice versa).

These blessings are mostly in the horizontal/quantitative mode, which can easily hypnotize and seduce us away from the vertical/qualitative which confers meaning upon them -- just as a disproportionately religious culture can be pulled away from the world, so it remains stuck in an unevolving socioeconomic rut. To be excessively in or out of "the world" is to push a partial truth beyond the breaking point. Rather, we should be in but not of, as the Man says.

The real Cosmos is not and cannot be synonymous with what materialists call "the universe." The universe is an abstract construct employed by scientists to help explain and frame their data. It does not actually exist, except as an abstraction. You might say that it is the (merely) logical residue of the living Cosmos, the latter of which is the ordered totality of being, as reflected on both the macro and micro scales ("as above, so below"), and in both its interior and exterior aspects (subjective and objective).

In turn, the cosmos cannot be synonymous with the Creator (pantheism), but is, however, incomprehensible in his absence. The world is none other than God, but God is not the world.

Now, each of us is born with certain invariants which constitute our true or essential self. However, these categories remain empty potential unless they are actualized in life. We are all "driven" to achieve this unique potential, something the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas calls our "destiny drive."

The word "drive" is probably misleading, because this doesn't operate like other drives, which are more mechanistic and past-to-future in their orientation. Rather, the destiny drive is clearly teleonomical, operating in a future-to-present, or top-down manner. Sensing one's destiny feels very different than discharging an urge. Furthermore, it is not a repetitive or one-time-only sort of thing, as in "What did you do last weekend?" "Oh, I gratified my destiny drive. I think I'll do it again next Saturday."

Rather, the destiny drive mysteriously applies to the whole of one's life, not just to an isolated part of it (in fact, analogous to the cosmos, you could say that it is the implicit totality of one's being, which naturally must be disclosed in time, for it cannot possibly manifest all at once). It is the ultimate organizing principle on the subjective-micro scale of human existence. Obviously it is not coterminous with the ego, which is a general function that most everyone has.

The ego is more like hands or teeth -- which is to say, a tool for navigating around internal and external reality. Just as soma is in psyche and psyche in pneuma, the ego is in the self.

The ego is unique in the way that a snowflake is unique. Yes, every snowflake is distinct, but it's a distinction without an essential difference. No snowflake surpasses "snowflakiness." Like the egos of Hollywood, everyone is different, but they're all the same flake. Alec Baldwin is no flakier than Sean Penn, and they both smell about as sweet as a Rosie or Roseanne.

Bolton discusses this question of uniqueness in Keys of Gnosis, but I would use slightly different terminology. That is, I would say that each snowflake is an individual, but they are not individuated. Only a human being can individuate, which is to say, achieve a destiny which is unique to him. Everything else in the cosmos simply is what it is; only man is orthoparadoxically both who he is and is not yet.

So yes, there is a kind of "predestination," but it is very different from the materialistic predestination of a snowflake. Human beings alone can become something they are not, and thus arrive at the wrong destination. No one has to tell a pig to be one, but you can never stop telling a liberal to be a Man.

In fact, there can be a fine line between destiny and fate. Only destiny is within the realm of providence, whereas fate implies its opposite.

Now, a universe of pure providence would be indistinguishable from a universe of pure fate, and therefore, devoid of destiny. Under a system of pure providence, only the whole system has a destiny, which is no destiny at all. This is a monist metaphysic that Obliterates the value of the unique individual.

In a materialistic context, hard determinism reduces one to a plaything of genes, physics, and chemistry, while in a Christian context, predestination reduces one to a praything of God. And in an Eastern context, one is just a preything of maya. But the whole point of traditional Christian metaphysics is that time is both real and irreversible, so that true and eternally valuable novelty occurs within it.

"For this reason," as Bolton explains, "supposedly spiritual teachings for which the total system is the only real agent [i.e., monism] are only disguised expressions of Fate," and fate is not providence, let alone destiny. Predestination explains precisely nothing, but unexplains everything of concern to us.

Rather, providence and destiny work with the freedom left over by fate, and are manifest "in the ordering of things by a benign intelligence which leads souls to a good which seems to have been pre-ordained for them, or for which they seem to have been made" (Bolton). Interestingly, we are able to recognize fate as fate, because it is a "constraining force" that can never totally contain us, and which we could not recognize "unless there were something in us which did not belong to it."

But at the same time, providence could have no meaning unless it existed over and against the "unfreedom" of fate: "[T]he Catholic idea of co-operating with Providence is linked to the idea of realizing one's individual Form or Exemplar." Thus, it is not so much that "God is my co-pilot." Rather, I am God's co-pilot, a formulation that uber-Coon Meister Eckhart would have appreciated, had he known about airplanes, which he might have used to flee from the authoritarian forces of fate in religious garb.

By the way, although airplanes crash, that is not what they were designed to do. Yes, you need a blueprint to create an airplane capable of crashing, but that is not the purpose of non-Muslim airplanes. As such, as Bolton says, there is no grounds for a "negative predestination," since creating something to fail is a contradiction of terms.

Fate has to do with those things over which we have little power, "a kind of order manifest as necessity, constraint, and coercive causality, which includes purely random events" (Bolton). For example, we are fated to die, or to live with sexual tension, or to toil for our daily bread, or to endure dopey comments from trolls.

This is very different from our destiny. Fate generally interferes with our destiny, but even then one must be cautious in leaping to conclusions, for in hindsight our lives can often look like a trail of fate which led to our destiny. Here I think that fate can serve approximately the same purpose as entropy, discussed in yesterday's post. An organism can never eliminate entropy; rather, it uses entropy by dissipating it in order to maintain its dynamic equilibrium.

Likewise, we can "dissipate" fate to achieve our destiny. In this regard, fate has a way of underminding the "best laid plans of mice and men," plans that likely came from the ego, not the Self. Thus, fate can often serve the purpose of eroding the ego's pretensions of control. This may sound a bit abstract, but it's not. For example, I have a sense that this blog has to do with my destiny -- who knows, maybe even yours, but that's for you to discern.

But I could never do this with my ego in the way. Rather, I can only achieve "control" of my destiny by giving up egoic control. I could never do this with effort. Quite the opposite. Each morning I abandon memory, desire, and understanding, in order to make a little raid on the wild godhead. So, even if I'm wrong, let it never be said that I wasn't truly, uniquely, and unprecedentedly wrong in the way only Bob could be: deeply wrong to the very core of his being. Which is the only right way to live.


julie said...

So, even if I'm wrong, let it never be said that I wasn't truly, uniquely, and unprecedentedly wrong in a way only Bob could be


Just so; thanks for sharing...

By the way, although airplanes crash, that is not what they were designed to do.

Re minds me of something I was thinking recently, about the phrase "you can't get the toothpaste back in the tube."

People usually use that phrase in a kind of fatalistic sense, as though the toothpaste were never meant to come out and now the unpleasant consequences must be dealt with. But while toothpaste can certainly be misused, wasted, or squeezed out at the wrong time, the whole point, the raison d'être of toothpaste, is to be squeezed out and put to a purpose - presumably cleaning teeth, although in fact it has quite a few uses - and not to remain safely ensconced in a tube for all eternity.

And when in life something happens that can't be undone, wishing you could reverse the occurrence is in some ways akin to trying to reverse fate and simultaneously thwart destiny. Or in other words, sitting around longing for a golden time when the toothpaste was still safely in the tube will do nothing to either clean your teeth or cleanup the blobs from the bathroom sink.

mushroom said...

One doesn't have to accept it. Rather, one can only reject it. Many "born again" experiences are analogous to this, in that the person's "religious mode" has suddenly come on line...

This reminds me of the early struggle I had being brought up in a "born-again" evangelical environment. They kept telling me to accept something that I had never rejected and to do so publicly. (I was always a shy, backward boy ;) It was almost like I had to reject the truth in order to accept it.

Which sounds a lot like destroying the village to save it.

Also the fate versus destiny distinction is worthy of a lot of thought.

Anonymous said...


Speaking on the doctrine of predestination, my dad said out of all the people he has ever met that expressed a belief in predestination never believed they were one of the ones who were predestined to go to hell.

Magnus Itland said...

That reminds me of how many people claim to suffer from low self-esteem, while the many with far too high self-esteem all seem clueless about it...

julie said...

Yikes - I have seen our nations destination, and it looks like something Homer would fantasize about; all that's missing is an endless supply of donuts and beer.

Giant, oversize onesie jammies for grownups. Soon to be shuffling down the aisles at grocery stores and shopping centers near you.

God help us all.

Nagarjuna said...

Do you think your idea of "universe" is the same or largely the same as Ken Wilber's holarchical, quadratic "Kosmos"?

Gagdad Bob said...


mushroom said...

Where do you cross the line from clueless troll to slightly spooky cyber-stalker?

Though I have been thinking there are a lot of things that make sense to analyze on X-Y axes.

For everything else I prefer double-bitted axes. You can always keep one edge sharp.

julie said...

You just have to be careful with the backswing...

walt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gagdad Bob said...

The problem is, spell check is of limited help for me....

njcommuter said...


I'm afraid I have nothing of value to your other readers; this is for you.

Thank you for the time and effort and yourself that you pour out here. Or is it the eternal in the container of yourself? Either way, and allowing for what I don't understand and what I misunderstand, I judge your words well worth the time and effort to read. You might say "read religiously"; I won't, not feeling in command of such powerful pun.

Thank you.

Jack said...

What's worse about college is that it is perhaps the ONLY time most attendees are every going to bother to even remotely engage with ideas, books, worldviews etc and to waste this brief window on such obvious crap--basically learning how to NOT think clearly-- is beyond tragedy.

I don't think most can or will ever recover. It would take--at the very least-- continually challenging oneself with new ideas and an open, relentless pursuit of truth to get over the damage done in college.

But let's just up and admit it-- that's too much work and gives most a headache to read books and such and such (many of my "college educated" friends tell me I "think too much", a definite problem in their eyes, it seems). Better yet is the fact that it is much easier to claim that there is no truth and that to say otherwise is oppression, plain and simple!

Voila! You are an instant genius!! And obviously so much smarter than all those knuckle-draggers who still think that there is truth and that it takes a certain kind of focused effort (forget that it takes virtue...oh my, how quaint!) and dedication to find even a glimmer of it.

And these are the same people who call Sarah Palin "stupid".

Gagdad Bob said...

It is surreal that the same people who didn't notice that Nancy Pelosi is a bona fide imbecile try to make an issue of Palin's intelligence.

julie said...

Ain't that the truth.

Speaking of Palin, I have to say I like her a lot more after seeing her show. I'm ambivalent about her as president, though it should go without saying she couldn't possibly have done worse than the Won, but anyone who could put up with a camping trip with Kate Gosselin with that much grace - and still have a great time - deserves some serious respect.

Jack said...

I think Palin did a great job with her response to the Tucson shootings. I was impressed. Though that is a far cry from endorsing her as a serious candidate for President.

While I recognize that long term political experience might be considered a negative by some, and in more than a few ways, I just can't seem to stomach the ever decreasing requirements for being elected President.

Many on the Left made a stink about Palin's lack of experience, which at the time seemed odd considering Obama's obvious lack of same.

Still, a few years experience as a serious working politician can't really be a positive thing when we are talking about one of the most difficult, demanding and important gigs out there: Leader of the Free World (do people even say that anymore?)

I like Palin more as I get to know her better and can actually see what she is made of (ironically, idiots like Krugman have *helped* her cause in that sense) but I have yet to see her as a good choice for President.

Maybe that will change.

Gagdad Bob said...

It would depend entirely upon who Palin has around her -- say, Jindal for VP, Bolton as DefSec, Newt at state, Rudy as AG, Romney at treasury, and Ann Coulter as chief of staff....

Gagdad Bob said...

No, Ann Coulter as press secretary -- comedy gold on a daily basis!

Magnus Itland said...

I finally got along to peek at Confusius' Analects, and sure enough, the guy went and plagiarized my political theory.

2-1. The Master said, "He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it."

2-3. The Master said, "If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame.
If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good."

So basically, what matters is: Does this person have virtue? Is this person radically free in their own heart, so that they practice virtue not because of the law or because of fear, but because it is the right and proper thing to do? Those who have steadfastly ruled their own heart, acquire an aura of majesty which makes them fit to direct others. But who has this today?

julie said...

Re. the dream team, I'm not a big Coulter fan, but she would just be awesome as press sec. Leftist heads would explode on a daily basis.

With a lineup like that, there might even be hope that the tides of Socialism could be turned somewhat. Or if nothing else, at least there'd be a cabinet without criminals. It's nice to dream, anyway...

walt said...

The Master also said, "Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application?"

Which is a comment on this blog, I'd say.

njcommuter said...

Bolton for State. Ollie North for Defense.

I could stand Hugh Hewitt for Chief Flak. Newt for Chief of Staff, I think.

Palin for Secretary of the Interior.

Bill Whittle for Education.

I wonder if the no-longer-young Thomas Sowell could be persuaded to take the Treasury job?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Bolton discusses this question of uniqueness in Keys of Gnosis, but I would use slightly different terminology. That is, I would say that each snowflake is an individual, but they are not individuated. Only a human being can individuate, which is to say, achieve a destiny which is unique to him. Everything else in the cosmos simply is what it is; only man is orthoparadoxically both who he is and is not yet."

So basically, one is achieving their destiny when one taps into their Otential?
"Achieving" in the sense of "keep on keeping on" in one's journey fullfilling one's destiny, not a final destination kinda thing (am I done yet?).

"So yes, there is a kind of "predestination," but it is very different from the materialistic predestination of a snowflake. Human beings alone can become something they are not, and thus arrive at the wrong destination. No one has to tell a pig to be one, but you can never stop telling a liberal to be a Man."

Outstanding post, Bob! BZ! I loved the comments too. A veritable gourmet buffaye where every dish is belicious!
Well, except for Nag's who shouldn't be playin' with fire anyway, let alone tryin' to cook.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Greg Gutfeld for UN Ambassador. Why? Just to piss 'em off.

Doc Zero as speech writer. Actually, lots of good conservative bloggers could pitch in for that.

Sherriff Joe Apaio for Homeland Security.

Robert Spencer as special advisor on Islamofascism, foreign and domestic.

Julie is right, if we picked cabinet members lefty head explosions would be a daily occurance.

Anonymous said...

Palin to replace Rodham? sounds good! altho' I would like someday to declare SP the PILF, that's
"President ...."

lability said...

It is not good to be allied with red state values.

Flannel shirts, smokers, blue collar, angry, etc.

Shotguns,beer, duck hunting, country music, etc.

Homer said...

A woman is a lot like beer. They smell good, they look good, and you’d step over your own mother to get one.

New US Order said...

ON behalf of the State of California, I declare to the people of Arizona.

The Arizona governor and the legislature must step down and accept terms to be dicatated by Jerry Brown.

All weapons must be surrendered to California authorities.

If these conditions are not met the California National Guard will declare a state of martial law for all Arizona counties and will occupy all Arizona cities.

cc: Governor of Arizona

Anonymous said...

Ugh, you are so tiresome. Don't you ever get bored of dictating rules and instructions to people who couldn't care less?

julie said...

Heh. More evidence that Queeg has lost all touch with reality.

Gagdad Bob said...

Hard to tell if he is demon haunted or just mentally ill.

julie said...

Either way, it's been sad to witness. I was never really a commenter over there, but for a while he seemed like such a good advocate for truth.

Gagdad Bob said...

I have literally never seen such a precipitous change in a human being, certainly not a healthy one. He even used to be on Dennis Prager's show, as Prager thought (and I agree) that he was doing work of world-historical importance in publicizing the evils of Islamism.

julie said...


Makes me wonder, after all the books I've read in recent years, if this isn't a harsh example of what can happen when brilliance and achievement are combined with a certain lack of humility and grounding in the Real. In blogospheric terms, he was like a rock star for a while. Part of why I never commented there was that the conversations were too big; I figured it was pointless to add anything, since I'd just get lost in the shuffle.

Hell, maybe that's the underlying motive behind the banhammer. Introverts who get too much attention don't always cope with it in healthy ways...

Northern Bandit said...

Have been in motion for last while. Now catching up with OC and some others including David Warren who a couple weeks ago wrote:

I was very moved to see, from Egypt this week through the Internet, pictures of so many Muslims who -- in defiance of Islamist threats to explode more bombs -- stood outside the Coptic churches during the Christmas services, in solidarity with the Christians inside, holding as symbols boldly aloft both the Cross and the Crescent.

These, and not the "Islamists," are the Muslims of true faith. The Islamists are the true atheists, or worse: for they invoke a god who makes demands of them indistinguishable from the devil's.

That sums such matters up about as well as I've encountered.

ge said...

my favest song by the fairer sex ever, always?

Van said...

"By the way, although airplanes crash, that is not what they were designed to do."

Amazing how often it is that what seems unnecessary to say, in fact desperately needs to be said.

Van said...

Gagdad Bob said "It would depend entirely upon who Palin has around her -- say, Jindal for VP, Bolton as DefSec, Newt at state, Rudy as AG, Romney at treasury, and Ann Coulter as chief of staff....
No, Ann Coulter as press secretary -- comedy gold on a daily basis!"

OMG - you just gave me a way to seriously consider Palin for President!

philmon said...

Heh. I've pretty much lived my life flying by the seat of my pants. I've never really had a plan. Is that what it means to not have your ego in the way.

And it is true, while I spent many years in misery when I look back it almost appears to me that it was in preparation for ... what I am doing now, and I don't mean my job.

I mean my family. I married into a family. Got two instant kids, already well in progress. And I can't quite escape this feeling that, considering the experiences I went through in my past ... that I was prepared for and sent to them to help them in their situation. By something.

Can't prove it. But there it is.

I'm uncomfortable with the idea that I'm somehow specialized to the task in that to say so implies something of braggartliness. It's something like the hesitancy I feel toward singing in public, even though people don't seem to mind and sometimes encourage me to. But without that encouragement, there's this little "who do you think you are?" voice that holds me back.

But like I said, there it is. I have this feeling I was prepared for them, and perhaps ... they for me. They filled a hole for me that needed filling.