Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Render unto Lois Lerner what Belongs to Obama... or Join Apparatchiks Anonymous!

In a chapter on Islam, Caldecott points out that -- very much in contrast to Christianity -- it endeavors to overcome "the gulf between man and God" via politics, i.e., "by attempting to establish a theocratic state."

Conversely, "the very fact that Christians were not 'under the law,' made possible the modern conception of a purely secular state..." Indeed, many writers locate the foundation of the secular state in Jesus' advice to fork over to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.

However, I wouldn't be so quick to link Jesus to a particular political philosophy, at least based on that crack alone. Clearly, he is making a statement about spiritual priorities and about the overall purpose of life. He's not enunciating a theory of governance. Besides, context is important. What would he say in Nazi Germany? "Render unto Hitler what belongs to Hitler." I don't think so.

Anyway, I think we can all stipulate that there is, by definition, a gulf between man and God. How to bridge it? First of all, it is axiomatic that man cannot do it from his side alone, otherwise he would be God (or God would be him, to be precise).

The diverse religions are essentially defined by their differing methods of divine linkage. Both Islam and Judaism do so via conformity to the Law. Buddhism and Vedanta do so by illuminating and eliminating one of the partners from the law firm, i.e., satori and moksha, respectively. Christianity bridges the gap from the other end, via the Incarnation.

Thus, in a way -- and I don't intend this as a critique, just a description -- only Christianity can literally do the job (at least for one person), since again, no matter how perfectly we conform to the law, we will not somehow be transformed into God. What distinguishes Christianity is the claim that the task has been accomplished, and that we may participate in it via divine adoption.

About that ontological gap between heaven and earth. It is interesting how similar leftism is to Islamism, because both approaches attempt to force salvation on us via politics. Obama is just the latest nitwiteration, nor is he the last, since leftists, by definition, do not learn. Leftism cannot be corrected or cured, only awakened from.

But every "from" implies a "to," so I might add that -- similar to alcoholism -- there is no non-spiritual cure for leftism. Note that the alcoholic shifts his allegiance from the bottle to a "higher power" that can restore him to sanity -- to O, as it were. Just so, the leftist must transfer his allegiance from the state to that very higher power who created us free and equal to begin with, prior to the state.

(Reminds me of an old post called Apparatchiks Anonymous, reprinted at the end for your amusement.)

This might be an opportune time to discuss another recent (for me) book, called Jesus Purusha: A Vedanta-Based Doctrine of Jesus. Caldecott mentions it in The R of B, so I picked up a copy. For only 57¢. Yesss!

The incongruous cover of the book makes it look like some kind of vaporous new age crock of native American Choprababble, but it is anything but. Almost all books are too long. This is one of the rare exceptions that is too short. It's rather dense and concentrated, and some of his definitions are on the idiosyncratic side.

In any event, it's not so much a Vedanta-based doctrine of Jesus -- in which Jesus is demoted to guru, swami, divine salesman, or even avatar -- but rather, a Christian assimilation of the Upanishads. It strikes me as completely orthodox, and does no violence whatsoever to the creed in order to make it fit into a vedantin metaphysic. Thus, it is not some shallow attempt at ecumenism, integralism, or synthesis, but a real metacreative brainwave.

However, I'll just stick with the parts I understood, since this guy seems to be above my praygrade.

The book takes the form of a series of letters "from the ashram of Jesus Purusha" to an English monk, setting out the theological position of the former. In so doing, he attempts to explain to the monk that his approach is not only orthodox, but highlights previously unappreciated implications of orthodoxy, since Vedanta provides the linguistic tools to do so.

Indeed, Davie shows that the metaphysical underpinnings of Vedanta supply "the precondition of orthodox Christology" -- the metacosmic principles by which something as flat out strange as Christianity is even possible, let alone true. It definitively relieves us of the need to appeal to myth or miracle in order to pull it all together. Which most Christians don't seem to mind doing, but that's no way to convince the rabble in the skeptic tank.

Davie speculates on the possibility of contact between India and ancient Palestine. Why not? Then again, who knows? Given the very nature of vertical murmurandoms, they will obviously strike down in distant temporal and geographical locales. Thus, we shouldn't be surprised that the Vedas announce that "In the beginning there was only Prajapati. His word was with him. This word was his double." Same memo, slightly different formulation.

This I found most provocative. Let's say that Jesus, instead of appearing in Palestine, had been born in India. He is gathered with the disciples, and asks the question, "Who do you say that I am?"

How would "an Indian Simon Peter" have responded? Yes, "thou art the Son of the living God." Except that in India, this would have been something of a commonplace, owing to the avatar principle.

No, this would have to be something different from your garden variety mangod. Davie suggests that the title "Christ" can mislead, since it is wedded to a specifically Jewish worldview. Is it possible that this title is part of a larger category?

Davie suggests that Simon Peter would have responded with something to the effect of, "You are the eternal Purusha," which is to say the "cosmic man" made flesh. This is very different from the usual Atman = Brahman available to all mortals as part of our standard equipment.

You might say that this realization (of Atman = Brahman) is equivalent to the Judeo-Christian doctrine that we are created in the image and likeness of God. That being the case, every man is ultimately God (i.e., is "not other" than God), even while God is obviously no man.

But to say that Jesus is the Purusha is another thing entirely. He is not a mangod, but rather, the Godman.

And with that, I'd better stop for the day. To be continued.


As promised, the Apparatchiks Anonymous 12-step Program:

1. We admitted we were powerless over the intoxicating dreams of socialism, and that our lives and governments had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a power far greater than our own omnipotent egoic fantasies of total control could restore us to true liberalism.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the Source and Guarantor of our liberty.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of the well-intentioned failures and frank evils of socialism.

5. Admitted to the Creator of our Liberty, to ourselves, and in a live phone call to C-SPAN, the exact nature of socialism’s wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have the Creator of Our Liberty undo our college education and remove all these defects of ideology.

7. Humbly asked Him to cancel our subscription to the Times.

8. Made a list of all races, genders, and classes our government programs had harmed, and became willing to make amends by ignoring their constant whining, and preferably laughing at them.

9. Made direct amends to such people by realizing we have nothing to apologize for.

10. Continued to take a personal inventory, and when we were again tempted to abuse ideology for the purposes of blotting out reality, just got drunk instead.

11. Sought to improve our conscious contact with the Source of our Liberty through prayer, meditation, and listening to Rush Limbaugh.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other leftists, even if it meant being denied tenure, disinvited to dinner parties, unfriended, and generally slimed by our intellectual inferiors.


ted said...

You got that book for 57 cents used, and now it's $2.25. A 400% increase by "the Gagdad effect."

Open Trench said...

I was clean for two days...then I slipped. The cause was this very cool Thai massage place. Coco the hostess stated she did not massage conservatives. So I told her I was a Democrat.

It was kind of worth it but now I feel unclean.

Gagdad Bob said...

I guess not all happy endings have a happy ending.

mushroom said...

OT, whatever else we have or don't have in common, we share a warped sense of humor.

Gagdad Bob said...

Well, Raccoonism isn't really a doctrine but a sensibility, so that would explain it. You can pretty much know all you need to know about someone by finding out what makes them laugh.

Gagdad Bob said...

I find it profoundly alienating to be in the presence of people who don't get my humor, which I guess is almost everyone.

It's been quite gratifying to have a son, because I've been able to help form his sense of humor from the ground up.

ted said...

And when you combine sophisticated witticisms with dick & fart jokes, you get quite the cocktail.

It's cost me a couple girlfriends.

mushroom said...

Most of the time, in face-to-face conversations, I stick to self-deprecating humor. I have heard that when I was younger I could be kind of scary and knocking on myself was always a good way to put other people at ease.

Anyway, I was judging the book by its cover. Since I don't ever buy anything over the internet, it will probably cost me $22.50.

Gagdad Bob said...


Man, you are missing out on the greatest gift to frugal slackers since the invention of the clinical psychology license!

ted said...

On another matter, I am looking for some feedback and insight.

In my inner circle, I've been besieged with conspiratorial-minded people. While I understand many out here are not happy with the current regime, I have a difficult time with people who see grand scheming with everything from 9/11 to UFOs to the Illuminati. It comes across as distorted paranoia, or a immature way to isolate a causal relationship within a complex world.

Rick said...

I've heard a few conversations end with the other person saying, "I don't like Seinfeld."

Rick said...

"I find it profoundly alienating to be in the presence of people who don't get my humor, which I guess is almost everyone."

You know it's really unfortunate how you can't hear me laughing only all.the.time. It's gotta be the primary reason why some people do stand-up -- the feedback.

Gagdad Bob said...


Most ideas about reality are just a form of paranoia, which is really just a premature closure of the psychic field. It results from a combination of laziness, fear of ambiguity, and discomfort with mystery.

I would recommend looking into the Klein/Bion distinction between the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions for a good understanding of why paranoia is so ubiquitous.

mushroom said...

I did, one time, use an iTunes gift card to buy a song. I could download that. I still have $14.01 of the $15 -- if it's not expired.

For something I did at work, somebody gave me a $25 Amazon gift card, which expired before I could figure out a way to not give them my address (yes, I do write code for a living).

I realize when I call Midway and give them my CC# that it goes into the same database as it would if I did it on my computer, but at least I'm talking to somebody. You'd be surprised how many of techies are closet Luddites.

Gagdad Bob said...

Also, in the absence of religion, politics has become the central means for people to express and contain existential anxieties and conflicts that are universal and insoluble.

Gagdad Bob said...

I also think we're going to continue to see a lot more persecutory/paranoid/conspiratorial ideation as a direct result of the coming of age of all those kids who have been raised by strangers instead of their mothers. It's gotta come out somehow.

mushroom said...

I find that massive doses of cynicism and skepticism tend to inoculate me against paranoia. I just don't believe anybody, including the conspiracy theorists.

Rick said...

Yes, as in the difference between laziness and exhaustion.

ted said...

That's great Bob, and I never quite thought of it in that way. I'm finding paranoia can't be argued out of at all (must like leftist thinking).

Gagdad Bob said...

Ted -- Absolutely. Paranoia cannot be reasoned with. It's like a huge slab of concrete in the head. A fascinating phenomenon though, even if the paranoid person is a bore.

In any event, most modern ideologies are just vehicles to contain and articulate paranoia, e.g., feminism, AGW, the racial grievance industry, etc. I might add that there is definitely a certain kind of conservative who uses conservatism in this way, e.g., the World Net Daily types.

But one must always separate the truth of a doctrine from the diverse (and often primitive) uses to which it may be put. Or in other words, misuse does not negate legitimate use. People absolutely need psychic containers in order to live, so we shouldn't be surprised that the more desperate among us cling to their political misery like a security blanket. It's far preferable to self-generated misery.

Gagdad Bob said...

When I was in college there was a t-shirt that said REAGAN HATES ME -- a perversely comforting thought for a certain type of loser.

Having said that, Obama really does hate me.

ge said...

Laughter is so ....holy & unique & important I'm tempted to say it's my religion. or at least something I grokked greatly in...DaFreeJohn...Bataille, Mr G Bob, & Uncles like Osho & Crowley too had super senses of humor, accounting for much of my admiration of their schtickz. Andy Kaufman!
Howard Stern...

Then there's the subj. of [does] humor [belong] in music [?], another topic there entirely

burst out laughing

Gagdad Bob said...

Was just showing the boy some of Kaufman's wrestling-related humor. He was to humor what Socrates was to philosophy: he didn't just talk about it, but totally lived it.

Gagdad Bob said...

And Stern -- haven't heard him since he left free radio -- but to be able to make you laugh to the point of tears for 20-25 hours a week -- that kind of puts to shame a stand-up comedian who spends a year working on a ten minute routine, doesn't it?

julie said...

The danger with Stern was when some of his routines got people laughing so hard they'd just about crash the car on the way to work. Not that I ever heard him during a commute, but I know people who've had that problem a time or two.

Re. the paranoia, I have some family members who were true believers in the spaceship trailing Hale-Bopp. They seemed to come to their senses a bit after the Heaven's Gate thing, but it sounds like recently they're starting to believe in UFO stuff again. Or rather, it seems like the cultural tide of paranoia is shifting back from political conspiracies to Aliens. And Mermaids, apparently.

Rick - what do you even say to someone who doesn't like Seinfeld? They may as well come from a different planet.

mushroom said...

Free Republic -- which is in decline these days -- is rife with people wondering if Snowden is a plant by the Obama administration to distract from the IRS scandal.

Some people want to be seen as clever. Their imaginative capacity often greatly exceeds their reasoning ability. They come up with bizarre contrarian interpretations for events that would seem to have fairly obvious and simple explanations.

Since these interpretations are generally not easy or even possible to disprove, they can glory in their superior insight.

Then again, maybe I'm the only one who does that.

River Cocytus said...

Yes, Stern was funny. It's always been a conflict for me, because I honestly enjoy a lot of vulgar humor (but there is a line.)

Some of Stern's stuff though was just getting pornstars on there and hanging out with them. That's kind of weird.

But then, Stern is a weird guy.

One thought about laughter - they say it has a social purpose, i.e. suggesting that people merely laugh to say, 'oh we're part of the same group.' But that seems to demand a further question - why would they assume that, even intuitively, instinctively, unless laughing at the same thing genuinely related to a similarity of character?

Best joke I saw in awhile:

"Eric Holder should resign and join Antony Wiener for a presidential bid in 2016. The ticket would be called, "Wiener/Holder""

The rest of the joke tells itself.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, much of what Stern did was just crass and juvenile, but I guess you have to cross the line in order to know where it is...

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

About that ontological gap between heaven and earth. It is interesting how similar leftism is to Islamism, because both approaches attempt to force salvation on us via politics. Obama is just the latest nitwiteration, nor is he the last, since leftists, by definition, do not learn. Leftism cannot be corrected or cured, only awakened from."

Excellent Bobservation! know, Howard Stern has nothin' on you, Bob. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

At least not in the metaphysical humor dept..

ted said...

I'm on the right board. Huge Stern fan, and still listen to him on satellite. But I miss the days when they goofed on Jackie. That was some of the best radio!

Oh, and F--- Jackie.

Gagdad Bob said...

You could say that Stern ruined radio in the same way the Beatles ruined rock music: people with zero talent tried to imitate them and just produced crap, but the masses couldn't tell the difference.

Open Trench said...

I started to put together a stand up routine, and then my wife nay-sayed me and hurt my feelings.

Example of one of my jokes: "Here in Silicon Valley we are wired, man. Even this spider in my apartment has its own web-site." (Drum roll).

i'm tempted to proceed just to show her I can make people laugh.

I need some original jokes. These have to be never-heard before new. Anyone want to donate one or two?

i can start with just six minutes of material at the open mic next Tuesday.

ge said...

Stern Trivia Scraps--
Name that speaker!

"Shut UP! Sit DOWN!! I told you not to be stupid you moron."

"Gina Dance!....Peepee Dance!! Fom Fooze!" [all spoken as monotone gutturally-strugglingly-nasally as possible]

"Quickdraw McGraw and Baba Booey I'm thinking of getting."

"God don't take me yet I got more feet to taste..."

"I just want to apologize to my wife Nancy...Please don't make a mockery of this... I'm seriss" [hangover-slurred]

1. Stern's Dad at his recording studio when Howard but a lad
2. Jerry the postman and Gina Girl
3. Boy Gary
4. Jerry imitating Mother Teresa
5. Jokeman Martling

For years my morns were gladly built around the Show laughing til weeping.
[the show's secret weapon: Fred Norris]

mushroom said...

I offer these to those who have not seen them with some trepidation. The language is extremely offensive. Watch them in order because you need to get a sense of the characters

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Rick said...

Julie - I usually just say, "We can't hang around anymore."
I'm kidding of course.

But it gets weirder, two examples:

One friend gets all my jokes and loves them. And I get and love hers, which is to say, we're pretty weird.
But everything I know I learned from Seinfeld! I don't have the heart to tell her that part.

Another friend, who never misses when Seinfeld comes to the local casino here, which is every year, invited me and our wives to see this other stand-up guy that he loves. It was the most painful thing to sit in a small audience with your friends for eternity while everyone is laughing and you think it's horrible. You have to sit there and try to smile. At least smile. It's strange. I can't really describe it. Never experienced it before.

But the point being, how could my friend and I "get" Jerry to the 14th decimal place and totally miss on this other so-called comedian?

Rick said...

Stern is great to tears no doubt.
But Jerry at stand-up these days -- I was sick of laughing after 2 hours. My face was literally exhausted from it.

Stern's radio is to Jazz as Jerry's stand-up is to Classical.

julie said...

Re. missing when you think something should be a hit, it's probably inevitable. No matter how much you and a friend have in common, there's always going to be at least one thing where you're totally different. If there weren't, you'd basically be the same person.

That said, yeah, it's always weird when you feel like the only one in your group who doesn't see the humor in something. Or conversely, when you think something's hilarious and everyone else either shrugs, or slowly backs away...

Rick said...

"when you think something's hilarious and everyone else either shrugs, or slowly backs away"

That happens to me all the time -- that's short-endurance pain -- like tearing off a band-aid. This sitting through a Hillary campaign speech. I shoulda thought to fake a stomach virus. Because I had to get otta there. But my brain was incapacitated. From the torture.

Bob said...

I am so glad I came to the comments. I especially appreciated Bob's explanation of the paranoia that is so boringly prevalent in the rightosphere. I linked here: