Friday, October 21, 2011

The Accidently-on-Purpose Essence of the Left

To summarize yesterday's post, "the subject partakes of the Absolute through its capacity for objectivity" (Schuon).

And as we saw, it is possible for man to be objective with regard to the natural/horizontal/quantitative world -- which wasn't controversial until the emergence of postmodern critical theory -- just as it is possible to be objective (i.e., to have accurate in-sight) with regard to the subjective/vertical world of qualities.

Indeed, the only thing in the world we may know directly and without mediation is the subject.

As the One bifurcates into absolute and infinite, or time and space, the object -- in a manner of speaking -- bifurcates into immanence and transcendence. We might say that immanence is the intelligible object, while transcendence is the comprehending subject.

But beneath this they are obviously "one in truth"; or, truth reveals their underlying unity, to be precise. Thus, any act of truth both reveals and is predicated upon the One; and the One is none other than the single Truth embodied in knower and known.

In any act of truth, "the essential takes precedence over the accidental" (Schuon). Conversely, lying liars and the lies they tell are always rooted in the accidental. You will have noticed that the first and last refuge of the leftist is a rapid retreat into the accidental, often for the very purpose of denying their own first principles, i.e., essence.

Pretty abstract, Bob. Example?

Okay, let us say that racial discrimination is wrong. The essence of this belief is rooted in our first principle, that all men are created equal.

The leftist also says that discrimination is wrong. Bueno. We agree. But in the very next breath, the leftist says that he wants to make it against the law to overlook race in hiring, college admissions, mortgages, and government contracts. "Wait a minute -- I thought you just said... "

"Shut up, racist!"

That last vulgarism reveals the leftist's actual first principle, which is that people who disagree with him are evil. It is one of the master keys to understanding the otherwise incoherent and intellectually dishonest ranting of the leftist. Slander, vilification, smearing -- these are "of the essence," not at all accidental. As we know, the leftist "believes he refutes an opinion by accusing the holder of that opinion of immorality" (Don Colacho).

The important point about a thought is its essence, not the accidents it comes clothed in -- language, skin color, class, gender, etc. Consequently, the left assures its own perpetual ignorance by systematically reducing conservative thought to its supposed hidden "motivations."

The same applies to the leftist's typical analysis of religion -- e.g., that people bitterly cling to their religious faith because of, say, economic insecurity. In true Marxian fashion, Obama will eliminate our economic insecurity and hence "cure" the citizenry of its religiosity.

Say, how's that workin' out for ya'?

Another example? Okay, yesterday I linked to a thoughtful video by Bill Whittle that so happens to reveal some essential things about the left. The leftist's considered response: "Bill Whittle is a moron."

Instead, we should learn our economics from this oddly smirking and cheerily passive-aggressive dude (do not attempt to endure more than a few minutes) who insists that we should indeed vilify "Wall Street" -- remember the leftist must vilify someone or something -- for the recession that ended in June of 2009. Failure to do so is analogous to failure to properly diagnose salmonella.

Notice that there is no interest in pursuing that thought to where it inevitably leads, i.e., "hey, how did those henhouse mothercluckers on Wall Street catch salmonella?," for it ends in vilification of the wrong entity: the state, and that is a thought the leftist must avoid at all costs. Indeed, the very purpose of "blaming Wall Street" is to misdirect our attention and seal our ignorance.

Notice also that the left, very much in contrast to its nihilistically libertine self-image, is all about "legislating morality," for what is morality but mastery of our impulses? But how exactly will legislation eliminate any of the seven deadly sins, greed included? What about government sloth? Hollywood lust? Racial pride? Economic envy? Michael Moore's gluttony?

Thus, "the left's theses are trains of thought that are carefully stopped before they reach the argument that demolishes them" (Don Colacho). And to paraphrase DC, a vocabulary of ten words is sufficient for the leftist to explain everything. Those ten would include racism, sexism, homophobia, greed, and "corporations."

Back to our main topic. "Perfect objectivity" would represent "perfect adequation of the knowing subject to the known object" (Schuon).

As such, this would coincide with the "perfect objectivity" of God, and the consequences that flow from this, e.g., truth, beauty, justice, virtue, etc. Each of these involves a harmony between principle and manifestation, appearance and reality, accident and essence. These are our "north stars," even though they can never be "perfect" in the herebelow. Rather: thy will be done in the terrestrial horizontal as it is in the celestial heaven.

Another key principle: "To say objectivity is to say totality" (Schuon) on every level. Thus, the fact that there is totality (or wholeness) at all derives from this higher (or deeper) principle of unity and totality.

Therefore, we have relatively autonomous domains represented by such disciplines as physics, biology, neurology, etc. And if any horizontaloid tries to tell you exactly how these relatively autonomous planes relate to one another, he is lying -- first to himself, then to you. For the distance between, say, matter and truth, is absolutely infinite (the bad kind) and unbridgeable from the bottom up. You cannot get here from there.

Now, a religion is a "cosmic totality," so to speak. Its purpose is, or should be, to provide a framework with which to situate ourselves and think about everything. In contrast, various sub-disciplines have sharp boundaries that prevent any such totality.

For example, physics leaves off where biology begins. There is some overlap, of course, but nothing truly essential.

To put it another way, physics is a necessary cause of biology, but not a sufficient one. The same applies to the relationship between biology and psychology. There is again much overlap, but the idea that truth or beauty could be reduced to biological categories is plainly absurd.

One of the things our friend Gödel teaches us is that a system can be complete or consistent, but not both. A "perfectly consistent" system will be incomplete, while a "perfectly complete" system will be inconsistent.

This applies to religious doctrines no less than scientific paradigms. Thus, a given religion can be more or less complete or "total," just like anything else. And yet, it seems that all religions claim this totality for themselves.

But this cannot be true. For example, Islam claims totality, but at the expense of key principles such as Incarnation, Trinity, and Resurrection. Conversely, Christianity has no fundamental objection to prophecy, so long as it is divinely inspired and true.

Out of time. To be continued...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Absolute Cosmic Bullshit of the Left

A few days ago I wrote that "just because the Absolute is not (exhaustively) expressible, it doesn't mean it isn't knowable; indeed, we cannot not know it and still think, since all thinking is rooted in it."

In response, reader Gabe Ruth wrote that he struggles "with seeing that this is self-evident. Are you saying that it is (self-evident)? I guess I mean more precisely, are you saying that the physical world cannot be the Absolute, and we can know this?"

Yes to the self-evidence of the first; and yes, the physical (I would say natural) world is not and cannot be absolute. I affirm that the Absolute Is, and that it is not the natural world; or, to put it in a less saturated way: O Is, and O is not ø. An even simpler way would be: O.

In contrast, it is not quite right to say that ø is not; rather, it both is and is not, since its "isness," or being, is borrowed from O. In other words, while the the Absolute is absolute, it necessarily entails relativity. Conversely, the relative cannot be absolute, for absolute relativity is an absurdity. Therefore, O entails ø, while ø implies O. Which is why one is only "nothing" to the extent that one is detached from God, or O. ø is always "manmade," similar to the idea that God sends no one to hell who hasn't chosen it for themselves.

In a typically lucid but extremely pregnant (yes, you can be more than a little pregnant) formulation, Schuon writes that "The prerogative of the human state is objectivity, the essential content of which is the Absolute."

Let's break that down. Unlike any other creature, the human being is capable of standing "outside" or "above" himself in a disinterested way, and apprehending the objective truth of things. If this were not the case, then science would be impossible, not to mention any practical notion of justice. Our judicial system is predicated on the idea that twelve human beings can consider the objective facts in a disinterested manner in order to arrive at a verdict. (The same applies a fortiori to constitutional democracy, without which there can be no "political justice.")

This notion of objectivity applies both to the within and without, or to the object and the subject. This is obvious in the case of science, since it is again founded on the idea that one may know the world in a disinterested and objective manner.

But what about the subject? Isn't it by nature "subjective?" Well, first of all, if that were entirely true, then science would be impossible, because all knowing would be fatally contaminated by subjectivity. But clearly, the subject partakes of objectivity, which is how and why it is able to know objectively.

The same applies to knowledge of the subject. For example, a routine part of conducting a psychological evaluation involves assessing a patient's capacity for what is called "insight." What this essentially boils down to is the ability to reverse one's gaze and look at oneself in an objective manner. It may come as a surprise to you -- maybe not -- how few people are capable of this. Generally speaking, the sicker the person, the less insight.

Really, it is astonishing what most people don't know about themselves. I often think to myself, "my God, I know more about this person in five minutes than they have learned about themselves in 50 years." I mean, really. What a strange way to live!

I might add that I am not necessarily speaking of the usual defense mechanisms such as repression or projection, through which the person systematically denies and splits off an unwanted part of the self. Rather, I am thinking of something more analogous to pre-scientific cultures that have not yet established the psychic capacity to view nature objectively. Obviously, science can only take place if the psyche isn't entangled with nature, so the latter can be apprehended in an objective manner.

The same applies to psychic reality, i.e., the self. In both cases, what is required is the colonization of a third dimension that "lifts" oneself, so to speak, above the flow of phenomena.

For example, in order to be a historian one must rise above history and regard its temporal passage from a higher vantage point. Likewise, in order to be a scientist of any kind, one must rise above nature. And in order to be a psychologist -- an adequate one, anyway -- one must have this same capacity as applied to the flow of psychic experience.

Schuon goes on to write that "There is no knowledge without objectivity of the intelligence," which is a very compact way of saying what we have just said above. Knowledge, intelligence, and objectivity are interrelated in ways we don't necessarily appreciate.

And we certainly don't appreciate the implications of this epistemological trinity. Indeed, for 50 or 100 or 150 years -- depending on where one draws the line -- the psychospiritual left has been engaged in a jihad against objectivity, which means that it is by definition at war with intelligence and truth.

Oh. That's explains a lot, doesn't it? Here, let Bill Whittle spell it out for you:

Note that Critical Theory applies to everything and everyone except the person who wields it. Which is why we have a kind of insight into the motivations of the left, of which the typical liberal is utterly bereft.

And how does the leftist deal with this? By projecting it into conservatives and fantasizing about the nature of our hidden motivations. But in order to do this in a productive manner, one must first have self-awareness, or personal insight. This is why a good therapist should undergo a lengthy personal therapy before he gets near a patient.

So liberals always deal with conservative arguments by imputing hidden malevolent (never benign) motivations, often in frankly absurd ways. The latest is that conservatives who support Herman Cain are racists. How can this be, you ask? I mean, liberals were obsessed with Obama's race, whereas conservatives couldn't care less about Cain's. But as Taranto helpfully explains, "white Republicans are so racist that they're willing to elect a black man president just to keep black people down. The absurdity of that formulation underscores the left's desperation to keep the idea of racism alive."

Now, just as there can be no knowledge without objectivity of the intelligence, "there is no freedom without objectivity of the will" and "no nobility without objectivity of the soul" (Schuon). This explains why the left's attack on objectivity redounds to the erosion of freedom, but also nurtures the awesome nobility of these elevated human beings:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Freedom, Reality, and the Power of Stupidity

All false religions -- and true religions falsely understood -- aspire to power rather than truth. The worship of power is, according to Unknown Friend, the source of all idolatry. We transparently see this in the new age movement, but also in traditional religious circles whenever God's absolute omnipotence eclipses man's freedom, and therefore, real existence. For reality and freedom are directly related, in the sense that if something isn't free, it is just a part of something that is; or, the whole is always more free than the part.

New agers basically co-opt religion for the purposes of exalting themselves and bolstering their own narcissism. As UF puts it, they want to "develop their own greatness without the rival grandeur of the Divine to discomfort them." This exercise is "fundamentally infantile," and atheists are certainly right to reject it.

Consider the titles of some of Deepak Chopra's books: The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Pocketbook Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams. The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence. Creating Affluence: The A-to-Z Steps to a Richer Life. Perfect Weight. Perfect Health. The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents: Guiding Your Children to Success and Fulfillment. The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want. Grow Younger, Live Longer.

This is all about the bad kind of gnosis, about some "secret" known only to the elect. Just splash some cash Chopra's way, and you will be blessed with financial success, spontaneous fulfillment of your every desire, perfect health, a long life, and even successful and fulfilled children! (As if one has the magical power to revoke a child's God-given free will, except perhaps by abusing them.)

In all of these books, you will notice that they have nothing to do with knowing God, but with being God. They prey on the rampant narcissism of our age, as if the answer to selfishness, dysfunction, and depression is more of what causes it. It doesn't just fly in the face of the Christian message, but of the central message of all legitimate spirituality, e.g., "If you want to become full / let yourself be empty / If you want to be given everything / give everything up" (Tao Te Ching).

It is no wonder that Chopra is also such a diehard supporter of Obama. He takes quite literally the childish idea that Obama represents a "quantum leap" in consciousness.

But if Chopra's kooky ideas are true, one naturally wonders: why do we need politicians, let alone illiberal statists, at all? In other words, if Deepak has the magical secrets which will fulfill our every desire, why would we care about some silly politician? Don't politicians simply become unnecessary middlemen between us and our desires?

Here again, we see how the anti-religious person cannot help being religious. He can deny truth, but it simply returns in some twisted form. Why would Chopra, of all people, believe in the coercive ideology of leftism, which specifically maintains that people have no power to change their lives for the better without a huge and intrusive state?

For Chopra, the state is the Father, Obama the Son, and high taxes the Ghastly Heist. If he actually believed a word of his books, he wouldn't only be a conservative, but a radical libertarian: just unleash the people and let magic take care of the rest!

UF also discusses the other extreme. I am not -- nor could I ever be -- one of those people who don't worry because "God is in charge." Free will is an irrevocable gift. It cannot be regifted, or revert back to its original owner. In the words of Schuon, we are condemned to freedom, and are always free to fall into the abyss, if that is what we choose. Indeed, this is the source of our dignity.

I am reminded of something a wise Supreme Court justice once said -- something to the effect that if the citizenry wishes to go to hell in a handbag, my job is to help them do so. In other words, this idea that the liberal elites of the Supreme Court are here to rescue the moronic populace through judicial tyranny is a modern innovation.

The purpose of the Supreme Court is not to deny our freedom just because one or two of them don't like what we did with it. I remember when the Supreme Court overturned some obscure sodomy law in Texas. Justice Thomas agreed that the law was "uncommonly silly," but this is utterly beside the point. For if the Supreme Court had the constitutional power to abolish silly laws, Democrats would be out of business overnight. Stupid laws are their raison d'être.

UF makes the critical point that the Christian lives with "the paradox of almighty God reduced to a state of extreme powerlessness." This seemingly counter-intuitive image is said to be "the most perfect revelation of the God of love."

This is quite radically different from the new age belief in a God who would leap down from the cross and, for a paltry $1995.00, sell you the magical secrets of fulfilling your every desire and deepaking your sleeping chopra at a weekend seminar in beautiful Sedona, Arizona, with one of Time Magazines top 100 heroes and icons of the 20th century!

It seems that many religious people, instead of overtly adopting the Chopraesque narcissistic grandiosity, simply project it onto the deity. It's the same infantile process, only externalized. As UF writes,

"their faith in God depends only on the power of God; if God was powerless, they would not believe in him. It is they who teach that God has created souls predestined to eternal damnation and others predestined to salvation; it is they who make God responsible for the entire history of the human race, including all its atrocities.... God is almighty, therefore all that happens is only able to happen through his action and his consent."

In short, "The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God of love who governs only by intrinsic authority of the Divine -- by truth, beauty, and goodness -- i.e., they prefer a God who is actually almighty to the crucified God."

What is the point of asking that "thy will be done" on earth as it is in heaven? This implies that in the upper vertical -- the celestial world, so to speak -- God's will is done "automatically," so to speak. But down here in the fog and haze of the lower pneumatosphere -- the terrestrial world, with its messy web of psychic crosscurrents -- this is not necessarily the case.

For there are many vertical degrees of being -- and therefore relatively autonomous horizontal planes -- between the top and bottom. Although God may intervene in this or that plane, he could not abolish the planes altogether -- i.e., the hierarchy -- without canceling out manifest existence entirely. Doing so would be analogous to, say, abolishing cells in order to prevent the possibility of cancer in the body.

Either human existence is real or illusory. If real, then so too is our freedom real. In fact, as UF writes, freedom "is none other than the real and complete existence of a being created by God." In other words, to be "free" and "real" are synonymous terms from the spiritual point of view. For if one is not free, then one is determined by something else -- or just an extension of some other entity that is real, whether genes or God, it doesn't matter.

But what is freedom? Freedom implies a kind of (relatively) absolute wholeness, or center, which is a mirror of the Creator, who is the "Center of centrality" or "Interior of interiority," so to speak.

Therefore, to illegitimately constrain or eliminate freedom is to do away with God. Again, no wonder that the religiously irreligious zealots of the left who reject our natural liberties -- and God -- imagine that government can somehow create freedom when it can only protect or oppose it.

Again: to be free is to exist. For the average OWS leftist who feels "unfree" as a result of some nebulous cabal of bankers, this is merely a projection of his own subjective absence of psychic freedom. To feel controlled by the "1%" is as crazy as a billion Muslims feeling controlled by 15 million Jews.

For the leftist, the state exists, and we become its extensions. Think of it. The average American already works for the state until what, mid-April? How will we be more free if Obama succeeds in moving it forward to mid-May or June, when government expenditures are 50% of GDP?

To the extent that one's mind is inhabited by quasi-autonomous parasites, these intrinsically limit one's freedom. And there's not a thing Obama can do about it. No one else can deliver us from hell or send us to heaven: "Love existence, and you have chosen heaven; hate it, and there you have chosen hell."

Likewise, "God is all-powerful in history in as much as there is faith; and he is crucified in so far as one turns away from him." And the Emperor, or legitimate ruler, reigns by intrinsic authority over free beings. Paradoxically, God must be a kind of "absent presence" at this center of freedom, otherwise we would not really exist.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Restoration of Faith through Reason

Books such as Meditations on the Tarot are generally regarded with suspicion by the typical religious believer, perhaps rightfully so, since it seems that there are no doctrinal safeguards once one is off the groomed slopes of the cosmic mountain and engaged in extreme seeking.

At that point "anything goes," or at least so it seems. There is no way to determine whether the person is speaking truth, whether he is a narcissistic sociopath trawling for attention, or whether he is just eccentric or even insane. Better to just stick with what we know: straight up scriptural revelation, even if it often clashes with other truths of the world, and sometimes flirts with frank absurdity.

This occurred to me in thinking about the idea of a universal metaphysic that is revealed through religion, even while religion can never be reduced to a mere metaphysic. As Schuon writes, "all esoterism appears to be tinged with heresy from the point of view of the corresponding exoterism," for it gives the appearance of man elevating himself above the plain meaning of this or that revelation. It seems to be an invitation for clever knaves to justify anything.

And yet, man has a mind and therefore a will to truth. This mind -- our most precious inheritance -- seeks not just information but understanding. As such, it is impossible for me to believe that our Creator would want us to assent to any doctrine that makes less than total sense to us.

In other words, he wants us to assent not just with body and heart -- or with will and sentiment -- but with our minds. And a mind that assents to what it doesn't understand has devolved to mere will, i.e., the will to believe. This has its place, of course, but faith should be a prelude to understanding, not an end in itself.

This occurred to me while speaking with a friend who is engaged in a "spiritual search," but who is already deeply involved in the Jewish faith. He was raised in a strictly orthodox world, and although he is now involved in a less rigorous branch, he nevertheless has obvious problems with what he regards as a kind of minute attention to iterations of the Law -- for example, avoiding broccoli since there might be a tiny insect lodged inside the flower, or not tearing perforated toilet tissue on the sabbath because it is a form of "work."

That said, he greatly appreciates the wisdom, certain traditions and rituals, the community, and the transmission of values to his children. But in Judaism, one has no right to pick and choose the parts one likes, for where does one draw the line? It reminds me of Neusner's A Rabbi Talks With Jesus, in which he listens to the Sermon on the Mount with "Jewish ears" and likes much of what he hears. But when Jesus places himself above the Law and puts himself in place of the Torah, it's a deal breaker.

In a way, we might say that there is a kind of dialectical flow from experience to doctrine to experience and back to doctrine. For example, Moses had some profound encounters with God, which are embodied in the Torah. Jesus comes along and seems to reverse the sequence, but after Jesus comes the Church that creates an updated doctrine -- the Catechism of the Catholic Church runs to almost 800 pages. But then Protestants come along and reject the whole thing. Protestantism becomes reified, so then numberless sects split off, especially in America, where people take religious experience seriously. But most of them make no sense, and are intellectually negligible.

It's probably easier to accept the idea that various experiences of God are all related, than the notion that there could be a kind of central doctrine that unites particular expressions of it. But this is what Schuon seeks to accomplish; or rather, simply "discern," since he was of the belief that it was already there to see, so long as one is capable of seeing it.

For example, he writes that only an esoteric approach can explain "and restore the lost truth by referring to the total truth; this alone can provide answers that are neither fragmentary nor compromised in advance by denominational bias. Just as rationalism can remove faith, so esoterism can restore it" (emphasis mine).

That is indeed a key point, for it implies that esoterism is a kind of "higher Reason" from which profane reason must be a descent. To paraphrase another comment by Schuon, something isn't true because it is logical, but rather, the reverse: things are logical because they are true.

By definition one cannot ascend to truth via (profane) reason, since reason can only prove the consequences of premises that reason cannot supply. Therefore, any time one accepts a truth, one is operating outside the closed system of logic (which was one of Gödel's points, precisely -- not that truth doesn't exist, but rather, that there are permanent truths not provable by logic).

So the truth embodied in revelation is clearly a descent from something higher. To try to ascend to this truth using only human tools is doomed to failure.

Rather, in order to comprehend it, one must make the effort to conform oneself to the plane from which it arises. This is not fundamentally different from any form of knowledge, say, quantum physics. Try as we might, quantum physics is never going to be reducible to, or explainable in terms of, Newtonian physics. This is because the Newtonian world is a kind of "descent" from the quantum world, the latter of which is "higher" or "deeper," at least theoretically.

Now, truth comes to man in various ways. Sometimes it comes from the outside, as when we were in school. But oftentimes -- especially as we grow older -- truth comes more from within. Schuon writes that the first kind is "formal," as it can be clothed in communicable symbols that are readily transmitted, received, and decoded without too much distortion (math would be the ideal of this form, since it can be conveyed with no loss of meaning at all).

But the interior type of knowledge is "direct and essential," Importantly, this is especially true of revelation, even though it would appear to come from the "outside."

But no one should believe that revelation is in any way analogous to mathematical knowledge that can be conveyed without ambiguity or distortion. Rather, as Schuon explains, the purpose of revelation is to awaken "interior truths" so to speak, by providing us with symbols to think about them, and without which truth is unthinkable. We could still "experience" it, but would be hard pressed to communicate and make sense of it.

Thus, for Schuon, "Revelation is Intellection in the macrocosm, while Intellection is Revelation in the microcosm."

This is again no different from any intelligible reality, for example, physics. In the case of physics, we confront an intelligible world that comes fully encoded in mathematical terms, as if the one mirrors the other.

How is it that the mind of man and the deep structure of the natural cosmos just so happen to harmonize in this transcendent manner? Why, it's almost as if the physical world is the objective instantiation of the math, whereas the mental world is the subjective apprehension of same. One might say that the sensible world is the macrocosmic revelation of mathematical truth, whereas mathematical intelligibility is its subjective revelation in the microcosm.

In any event, there is a Truth and a Way. And this Truth is not, and could never be, fully horizontal or reducible to something less than itself. Rather, it is a descent and appears before us as a hierarchy, as do the modes appropriate to various degrees of reality. One might say that it is a symphony.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Spiritual Free-Fall from Washington to Obama

Today's post is on the Emperor, and it could hardly be more timely, even though it was written three years ago, before Obama came along to foolfail its prophecy.

Indeed, I wrote at the time that "This is a timelessly timeless archetype, what with the likely election of a president who embodies so many elements that are the precise opposite of what this arcanum symbolizes."

For now, after three years of dissembling and misdirection, Obama is finally discarding the empty suit routine and nakedly displaying the divisive little tyrunt beneath:

"Obama’s reelection strategy" involves fomenting "full-blown cultural warfare against a large and diverse segment of society known as Republicans.... [H]e and his advisers seem to have decided... to mount a deeply polarizing campaign based on 'values' -- suggesting his vision for America is correct even if the economy is not right yet.

"But in waging this battle, Obama is saying nasty and dangerous things. He is promoting his own principles -- not just by touting their goodness, but by suggesting that Republicans hold to an offensive, even un-American, philosophy. By painting his opposition as not just wrong but evil, Obama risks dividing the nation in a profound and unnecessary way.

"Allegations that Republicans want sick people to die and hate homosexuals are caricatures you might expect of an extreme House member or a raving partisan running for local office. That a president would say -- or even believe -- such things is deeply disturbing."

But such slander of conservatives is par for the coarse and unrefined media, just as it is commonplace in academia and holy writ among the liberal rank and foul. In truth, demonization is the only weapon the left has, and the only weapon it has ever had. God, guns and gays -- hating the first, fearing the second, and promoting the third -- is what they are all about.

Our Unknown Friend begins with the observation that "the less superficial a person is -- and the more he knows and is capable of -- the greater is his authority." Specifically, "to be something, to know something and to be capable of something is what endows a person with authority."

Being. Knowledge. Capability. The more of these one has, the more intrinsic authority. And importantly, this won't be any kind of "official" or conventional authority. Rather, the person will spontaneously radiate the authority outward, from the center to the periphery.

(I remember Schuon saying something to the effect that the reason a pope or priest must be decked out in their finery is to convey this spiritual authority, even if they themselves personally lack it. And he didn't mean it in a disapproving manner.)

In turn, each of these categories has a dimension of depth. One can know superficially or deeply. One can do something adequately or with great depth, like the true artist.

But the most mysterious of the three is being. One of the primary purposes of religion is to develop depth at the level of being.

Now, consider Obama, circa 2008. First, what did he know? Pretty much nothing beyond the usual lies and absurdities one is exposed to in a leftist seminary, i.e., college.

Second, what had he accomplished? See #1.

Third, who is he? Yes, one could say "no one," except that spirit -- both good and bad -- abhors a vacuum, and soon enough rushes in to fill the void. You know the drill: people who reject God don't believe in nothing, but rather, in anything.

The other day I was reading an article about Schuon by the Orthodox Christian scholar James Cutsinger, whose initial experience of Schuon's "intrinsic authority" was virtually identical to mine. No one had to tell me that this man possessed authority. Rather, the depth of his authority was communicated directly, center to center:

"Nothing had prepared me for my first encounter with a book by Frithjof Schuon. I vividly recall reading the opening page, and then rereading it again, then a third time and a fourth time, before proceeding" (Cutsinger).

Now interestingly, this depth is not a matter of "complexity" or sophistication. Indeed, those things are often just tricks of the tenured to make one believe they are deep when their ideas would be recognized as utterly banal if conveyed in plain English.

Cutsinger agrees that "the words themselves were certainly not difficult, nor the style at all complex. Indeed, compared to many a modern philosopher's work, Schuon's books are noted for their simple, and often poetic, beauty. And yet for some reason I found myself unable to move with the speed I was accustomed to."

Cutsinger adds that it was as if he were running along the beach, and then suddenly found himself in the ocean. Very mysterious. In other words, he is merrily scampering on the surface of one reality -- call it earth -- but then, to his surprise, finds himself in a different medium, one that is at a right angle, so to speak, to our usual experience of the world:

"Here was a new medium, no less able to support my movement, but requiring an altogether different engagement. There would be no more running now. I would have to swim."

There is another corollary at work here, for just as it requires depth to apprehend depth, only depth can recognize shallowness and superficiality. This is clearly why so many shallow people believe Obama is deep, or nuanced, or even beyond that -- that he truly represents some sort of messianic or "transformational" figure. I feel as if his entire mind could safely fit into a little corner of mine. And I'm not bragging. I would assume that all Raccoons feel the same way.

Back to the Emperor. Among other things, the Emperor is the symbol of divine authority on earth. He is not a replacement of divine authority, but its horizontal prolongation. And along these lines, perhaps the most important point is that, as UF writes, "God governs the world by authority, and not by force. If this were not so, there would be neither freedom nor law in the world."

This automatically excludes an Obama from being a legitimate ruler, in that the left is all about governing by force. He will not "lure" you toward the good by his intrinsic authority, but compel you to "share" and "spread around" the fruits of your labor with his purely terrestrial power. And that's all it is: "I won." If he were capable of explanation, he wouldn't have to ram through unpopular legislation and demonize opponents.

God does not "compel" acceptance of his authority, or we would not be free. Thus, the typical atheist who asks for miracles in order for God to "prove" his existence is really asking for God to remove his freedom. But that is something God will never do. UF elaborates:

"One is free to be believing or unbelieving. Nothing and no one can compel us to have faith -- no scientific discovery, no logical argument, no physical torture can force us to believe, i.e., to freely recognize and accept the authority of God."

The atheist says to Jesus: "Come down from that cross, then I might believe in your power!" But power is not truth. Rather, truth is power. And the truth is, Truth is crucified in history, and yet, survives. And that is a powerful miracle.

In response to the original post, reader James commented that "It is a pleasure and a joy to serve someone who has real authority. It is a horror to serve under someone with no authority, just higher rank in a man-made hierarchy. You can learn all the important things about someone by imagining what it would be like to serve them."

This powerfully applies to George Washington, whose biography I am currently reading. One of the things that made him great -- and contemporaries testified to it over and over -- was the intrinsic authority he radiated. He was never a great military strategist, but was able to maintain the Continental Army through sheer force of his magnetic presence, under appalling conditions that truly boggle the mind.

It is indeed difficult to imagine how America could have succeeded without his being our effective leader for over sixteen years -- the eight years of his presidency and the eight-plus years of the war. As Jefferson wrote, "The moderation and virtue of a single character... probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish."

In other words, Washington's great power was in the realm of being: the Continental Army "always stood on the brink of dissolution, and Washington was the one figure who kept it together, the spiritual and managerial genius of the whole enterprise: he had been resilient in the face of every setback, courageous in the face of every danger.... The extraordinary, wearisome, nerve-racking frustration he put up with for nearly nine years is hard to express.... He labored under a terrible strain that would have destroyed a lesser man..."

And "at war's end" he sealed his stature, in that "he stood at the pinnacle of power, but he never became drunk with that influence, as had so many generals before him."

That is the kind of truly exceptional being at America's founding -- an exceptionalism the current clown demeans by his frivolous presence even prior to rejecting it with his inane speech.

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