Friday, November 29, 2013

Progress would be So Easy if it weren't for F*cking History!

If progressives are on the right side of history, why then must they always lie, cheat, and steal in order to get there? This has been going on since Marx, and yet, they still get away with it.

For once I'd like to see a progressive just get out of the fucking way of history, and let it take its course. But no. They always have to force their future on a recalcitrant present by any means necessary -- for example, most recently by ending the filibuster.

This is because, for the progressive, truth is not a value. Rather, "progress" is both the goal and the measure, so history, rather than truth, provides the verdict.

Thus, if you can ram your ideas into history, you win. That's why Obama will never concede that ObamaCare is a failure, because to do so is to bow to the verdict of history. Conversely, if ObamaCare somehow survives, progressives are proved right. Simple as.

After all, no collectivist bowed to the world-historical verdict of 1989. Instead, they just mutated into new forms of cultural Marxism, e.g., climate change, multiculturalism, the redefinition of marriage -- anything to undermine history's clear winner, that is, American style classical liberal conservatism.

The Era of Big Government wasn't over, because that can't happen. That was just to lull you into letting your guard down. They pretended it was over for the same reason a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his chest pretends to surrender. Surprise!

Not only does progressivism fail to bring progress, it backfires, every time. In short, it is King Midas in reverse: the left transforms "virtually everything it touches into rubble. Sometimes it happens quickly; sometimes it takes generations. But it is inevitable.... whatever the left transforms in its direction is damaged, and often destroyed."

With education the left has succeeded in stunting, warping, and misinforming millions of souls. But they want the body too, hence, the ineradicable dream of state run healthcare.

It's one thing for clueless well-to-do liberals to sing the praises of public education while shielding their own children from its malign influence by sending them to elite private schools. It's another thing entirely to force socialized medicine upon us, because should they succeed, then the entire system goes down with it.

It's not as if there will be safe enclaves -- the equivalent of private schools -- untouched by the disaster. Rather, there will be less innovation, fewer doctors, fewer miraculous new drugs, waiting lists, death panels. It's like dumping poison into the far end of a lake while imagining it won't effect your expensive lakefront property.

Frankly, despite the leftist takeover of education, a motivated soul can still find and assimilate truth. Indeed, in spite of it all, it is easier today to access truth than ever before. But a sick man who is motivated to get well can't just track down a book or go online. It's great to be an autodidact. But autosurgery is another thing entirely.

If there are fixed rules, then the left cannot win. And for them, the most irritating rules of all -- perhaps tied with the laws of human nature -- are embodied in the Constitution, so it has always been Job One for them to find a way around it, starting with Woodrow Wilson.

In a piece called An Outbreak of Lawlessness, Krauthammer writes that "If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning."

It's like allowing the home crowd -- since they are the majority -- to change the rules of the game if their team is behind. Likewise, "If we could make constitutional changes by majority vote, there would be no Constitution." (Next up: the twenty-second amendment; note how the author implies it was forced upon us by Republicans, when only two states voted to reject it.)

Recall what was said above about progressives always having to lie and cheat in order to force "progress" upon us. In the case of ObamaCare, it became the Law of the Land thanks to outrageous lies, bribes, secrecy, mob rule, and procedural trickery. Okay, good enough. New rules. We'll find a way to deal with them.

But for the left, the rules are only the rules if they are favorable to the left. Otherwise, there are no rules. Thus, Obama's "violation of the proper limits of executive power has become breathtaking." In "urging both insurers and the states to reinstate millions" of canceled plans, "he is asking them to break the law. His own law" (ibid.).

Interestingly, Obama becomes indignant at the idea that congress should so much as think of changing or defunding the law legally: "Remember how for months Democrats denounced Republicans for daring to vote to defund or postpone Obamacare? Saboteurs! Terrorists! How dare you alter 'the law of the land'" (ibid.).

So, the rule of law is treacherous, while the rule of liberals is intrinsically virtuous.

Must be nice to have history on your side.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mankind: Last Word in Creation or Lost World of Miscreants?

I suppose it's no coincidence that Genesis depicts man as God's last creation: the consummation, the crowning touch, the final act, the pièce de résistance.

How'd that work out?

Hmm. I see that Berdyaev proposes one answer to that question: "Only in Christ is the problem of man resolved."

That quote precedes a chapter entitled God's Latest Image. Recall that our last few posts explored the nature of the Eternal Being. We will now proceed to look into the claim that man is the very image and likeness of this eternal being.

One thing we're all dying to know is how man can be the image of the sovereign good, and yet, be such a flaming assoul. What went wrong? Who goofed?

One proposition we can affirm at the outset is that science does a poor and inadequate job of addressing such questions. This is because science can (honestly) deal only with the is, not the ought (and even then, only the surface of the is, not the hidden depths). We can all stipulate that man is a problem child.

But even in so-stipulating, there is the implicit suggestion that there is some way man oughtta be. And science ought not pretend it knows how or why we oughtta.

It seems that man cannot live in the absence of this Ought. And to live in the land of Ought is to know transcendence. No animal fantasizes about slowing the rise of the oceans, or giving free healthcare to illegals, or aborting babies. Rather, those battles are all fought in the land of Ought. Which hints at the nature of the problem, since the Ought cuts both ways, with roughly half the population believing we ought to do things we ought not do.

With that in mind, let's plunge ahead and see if Berdyaev has any answers. Here's one: "All attempts at external perception of the world, without immersion in the depths of man, have produced only a knowledge of the surface of things."

Thus -- and this would be a central tenet of our merry anticult -- depth of world and depth of soul are covalent. There are things so shallow that only a tenured person could believe them, just as there are realities so profound that only the deep person can see, know, and touch them.

Or, let's just say that the world has this surprising and inexplicable dimension of depth. Why surprising? Well, for starters, no other animal has it. Take away food, threats, walks, and testicles, and an adult dog falls asleep, because there is "nothing there." But for man, there is always an inexhaustible something there. Boredom is an animal holdover, an atavism.

Are there such beasts? Oh my yes, and they are the source of much mischief. Liberals, for example, are people who are so bored with their own lives that they want to mess with yours. They ought not be doing that. And yet, they spend their lives telling us what we ought to be doing! That's not irony, that's a truism.

Well, there is some irony. For example, any spiritually normal person knows one ought not lie, especially about important matters (there are degrees of lying). And yet, Obama and the Democrats promulgated a network of lies in order to commit the most massive consumer fraud in the history of the country. Why? Because if they didn't, then you wouldn't do what you ought to do, which is support the government takeover of healthcare.

Berdyaev puts forth another principle that is dear to our headlights: "The act of man's exclusive self-consciousness of his significance precedes every philosophical perception." If you take this to its ultimate conclusion -- or if you reverse direction and understand the principle it is based upon -- you will see that this is actually a logical/metaphysical way of affirming the truth that man is in the image of the Absolute, for which reason he may know or be aware of absoluteness.

And this is something that must be affirmed by theist and atheist alike, on pain of being unable to affirm anything. In other words, in affirming the non-existence of God, the atheist is implicitly affirming his own significance, otherwise why take him seriously at all? How, for example, is his testimony superior to that of a rock, or a worm, or any other contingent fact at the periphery of existence?

So: "like an absolute a priori," the self-evident significance of man "precedes every philosophic perception of the world..." This is one of those things that cannot not be the case, for "if man were to consider himself as one of the external, objectivized things of the world, then he could not be an active perceiving subject." He would be entirely contained by the world instead of being able to contain it.

But can man really authenticate his own significance? How would that be possible? It is not possible, which is why materialists always speak out of both sides of their buttocks, one cheek shouting "listen to me!," the other one admitting that we should pay no attention to his gaseous pronouncements. This gives rise to the battle cry of the tenured: "Look at me, I'm nothing!"

If we continue following our line of reason -- that man's significance precedes his philosophical perceptions and statements -- we arrive at the startling conclusion that anthropology is prior to ontology. Or again, to express the same truth in biblical terms, I AM precedes It Is; which is just another way of saying that behind, beyond, and beneath it all there is a Person, not an object, or an equation, or whatever other alternatives there are (and there aren't many).

But does this not aggrandize man? Well, yes and no. It only aggrandizes man if we yank him out of his proper context and presume that he is the reality as opposed to the image. When man makes himself the measure, then it's time to reach for your revolver.

We must always remember -- or never forget -- that "Man is the meeting point of two worlds." Now, these two worlds can be distinguished in various ways, but any attempt to eliminate the complementarity -- not dualism -- results in pathology. The leftist can attempt to drive out transnature with a pitchfork, but she always comes back. Likewise, one can attempt to make the world go away via sub-religious fundamentalist magic, but it too always returns.

So it's... complicated: "With equal firmness," man may hold "the most contradictory ideas about himself, equally justified by the facts of his nature... now one of these natures, now the other, seems to prevail." Again, this redounds to an ultimate antinomy, that man is on the one hand "the image and likeness of God," and on the other "a drop in the ocean of the necessities of nature."

Pneumacognitive dissonance. Just gotta tolerate it. For "with almost equal right we may speak of man's divine origin, and of his development from the lowest forms of nature." In short: vertical and horizontal. It's where we are, and one ought not pretend otherwise.

It is almost incomprehensible how a tiny bit of nature... should dare to rise against nature and demand his rights as a descendent of another world, as a being with another destiny.... Man is not only of this world but of another world; not only of necessity, but of freedom; not only out of nature, but from God.... In his essence, man is a break in the world of nature, he cannot be contained within it. --Berdyaev

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Man is a Clearing through which Freedom Passes on the Way to its Source

The remodel marches on, now into the Food Preparation Area. But in their boyish zeal to demolish our vintage 1964 WifeSaver kitchen, the wrecking crew seems to have wrecked our telephone service. So, no internet. But the wife informs me that her car has a "wifi hotspot," so I should be able to post this. If so, these brutes will be relieved to learn they haven't caused a 24 hour setback in the progress of theology.

Still, it doesn't feel right. For example, usually I at least check out Drudge to see if there are any world-historical irruptions I need to know about. But I'm completely unplugged from the hysteria du jour.

So, yesterday we were discussing how God's freedom redounds to our creativity. One could also circumnavelgaze it the other way 'round: God's creativity redounds to our freedom. Think about that one for a moment: a genuine creation eludes even the grasp its creator, because it is never a predictable or fully determined product reducible to antecedent conditions.

In other words, the creative production cannot be explained by its necessary or sufficient causes. Rather, there is always an "x-factor" of genuine freedom tossed into the mix, and freedom is irreducible to anything other than freedom. If you are not the first one to be surprised by your creation, you're doing it wrong.

Imagine, for example, composing a song. In so doing, one is creating something that has never existed before, and which will never exist unless one brings it into being. Obviously, the canons of Mozart, or Monk, or Mingus, would never have existed if those three hadn't brought them into being. And even the most complete description of a composer's brain, right down to the last synapse, would not equip one to predict his next tune.

Better yet, imagine a person. Today, thanks to science, no one but a liberal can deny the fact that each person is an utterly unique genetic configuration that has never occurred before and will never happen again. Here we see an implicit connection between freedom and uniqueness. In a formula I have stolen in the past, freedom is individuality lived. You might say that personhood is the highest instance of freedom we can know. And since God is a person... Or, since God is freedom, he must be a person, right?

"Only a personalist doctrine of the world," writes Berdyaev, "can give meaning to creativity." Such a doctrine "recognizes the originality of personality, derived from nothing outside or general, from no other means. God is a concrete personality and therefore a creator: man is a concrete personality and therefore a creator..."

As such, there is a critical orthoparadoxical corollary to the truth that all men are created equal. That is to say, because they are created, they are necessarily created unequal. But that is a rather infelicitous way of putting it, partly because it is expresses it in the negative. What we really want to say is that because we are created, it is evil for the state to pretend that we are all identical and to force us to be the same, e.g., buy the same health insurance.

Here it is useful to distinguish between our abstract equality and our concrete differences. As it so happens, this parallels God's own abstract necessity and concrete identity. Or in other words, God surely must be. But just how he is is partly determined by how things play out in Him. Otherwise one is placed in the awkward position of denying freedom in God, and in turn placing man (assuming our freedom is real) above God.

Much of this is apparently controversial, so it is gratifying to see that Berdyaev has my back: "The concept of the Absolute is the extreme limit of objectivizing abstract thought. In the Absolute there are no signs of existence, no evidences of life." This is the God of whom we may posit blank existence, but nothing more -- similar to the abstract mankind that is created equal.

But if we leave it there -- God as abstract Absolute, a la Aristotle -- then we "deny all movement in Him," and "are compelled to deny that he has creative power." For as alluded to above, "the creation of something new is linked with potentiality." Man surely has this potentiality, in that "he is not actualized to the point of losing all possibility of change and movement." Why then should God be so deprived?

Well, in traditional theology change is identified with imperfection. Thus, God is presumed to be absolutely changeless.

But aren't there certain types of changelessness that are imperfect or evil? I'm currently reading Barbara Tuchman's classic A Distant Mirror, and in a sense, it is one long indictment of the implications of venerating the idol of Changelessness -- or what Hartshorne calls the sin of etiolatry, i.e., idealizing God-as-cause to the total exclusion of God-as-effect (which, in the process view, becomes an inspiraling new cause).

In point of fact, if one is going to be intellectually consistent, a God incapable of change makes both the world and man "meaningless and absurd." We are necessarily "useless to God," for we are denied "all possibility of novelty, creativeness, freedom, all of which mean a break-through into the closed system of being."

For Berdyaev, the whole existentialada reduces to bad comedy if freedom isn't real and meaning is just an illusion. Conversely, if freedom is real, it means that both "man and the world answer the call of God, and hence this is not [just] God's answer to himself."

Likewise, "God does not force us to recognize Him, as do material objects." Rather, "He appeals to man's freedom." Thus, God is not fundamentally stick but carrot: not a threat, but an attractor. Or in other words, humanly speaking, he is not material or efficient cause, but rather, formal and final cause. He lures us from above and beyond rather than goading us from behind or below, as do natural (i.e., horizontal) instincts.

Here we see the fundamental distinction between the horizontal and vertical worlds. Like all animals, man is in the horizontal world. Unlike other animals, he also spans the vertical world. Thus, as Berdyaev explains, "for this reason he is not included completely in this world of necessity: he transcends himself" and reveals "a freedom which does not derive from this world."

Now, only God can create a being. Man can surely create, but the one thing he cannot create is another being. And when he attempts to do so, he creates a mess. Nevertheless, the left never stops trying. The left can create perfect slaves, subjects, automatons, clones, parasites, intrusive busybodies, human ATMs, LoFo lemmings, and skin-encapsulated grievance mongers, but it can never create the New Man and New World of its fantasies.

In conclusion, God must be understood, not as a diminution of man's freedom and activity, but rather as the condition which makes these possible.... Faith in God is the charter of man's liberty. Without God, man is subject to the lower world.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Creativity is God's Freedom

Internet traffic being what it is during the holidays, posts may or may not appear the rest of the week. I'm thinking they probably will, because I don't want the traffic in my head to get backed up. At least until Thursday.

We've been having a leisurely dialogue with brother Berdyaev, now moving on to his thoughts on The Eternal Being, or the One who cannot not be. Of this subtle being, he makes the excellent point that

"The whole problem is that I must discover what God has concealed from me. God awaits an act of freedom on my part, free creativeness" (emphasis mine). Thus, "My freedom and my creativeness are my obedience to the mysterious will of God."

Remember, freedom and creativity are almost synonymous, for one is impossible in the absence of the other, and both are "ultimate." We might think of freedom as the last -- or first -- word in God, but freedom is meaningless without creativity, and God is obviously not meaningless. Rather, his freedom is his creativity and vice versa, and the two together generate a ceaseless flow of meaning: a trialectic of creator-created-meaning.

What about our freedom? Some people wonder why God didn't create human beings to automatically obey his will, but this would deny the possibility of both freedom and creativity in us. Rather, we must, as Berdyaev suggests, freely respond to God in our own creative way.

We are obviously co-creators of the creation, as we've already discussed. But I would suggest that God's love extends so far as to permit us to be "co-creators" of him as well. This may sound shocking when first heard, but it is precisely what is maintained in process theology, and one doesn't have to get all heretical to see that this is indeed what sets Christianity apart: in the oft-repeated formula of the early fathers, God becomes man so that man might become God.

Now obviously, we do not become God literally. Rather, you might say that God is inflected through the human person, like clear light through a prism. Human sanctity is none other than a free collaboration with God, permitting another instance of (lower case i) incarnation. Such an "imitation of Christ" is only possible because there was a Christ to imitate -- that is, a complete infusion of, and identity with, God and man.

I believe Berdyaev would say that the Incarnation fundamentally changes man, forever. Because of it, man has capacities that did not previously exist -- or existed only in potential -- one of which is this more intimate divine-human partnership.

Of this partnership, Berdyaev says that "God is the Lover, and he cannot and does not wish to exist without the loved one."

Some may object to the "cannot," but in my opinion, this is precisely the point of the Trinity: that to not love would violate God's very nature. And love obviously implies the other, who has his own freedom and creativity with which to respond to God's primordial love. Nothing in the Trinity can be "forced," or "compelled," or "automatic," or "determined." IMGO (in my grandiose opinion).

Berdyaev agrees that "love is realized in the mystery of the Three-in-one, which is equally above and below, in heaven and on earth."

And although Hartshorne came later, Berdayaev is in agreement with him that the notion of a static and absolutely unchanging God -- "pure act, without potential, self-satisfied, and needing nothing" -- is of Greek, not biblical origins.

At the very least, we must appreciate the orthoparadox that "absolute rest in God is joined in Him with absolute movement." You might say that his "need" for the other is perfect, whereas ours is clouded by self-interest and other middling relativities.

Think about it: in the Bible it is suggested that we should strive to be perfect, like our father in heaven. Now, if God were the static being described by Aristotle, this would mean that humans should likewise be "without potential, self-satisfied, and needing nothing." Does this sound like good advice to you? If so, you are more Buddhist than Raccoon Dude-ist.

An orthoparadox is not a contradiction but an irreducible complementarity. Thus, "God's longing for another, for a loved one and that loved one's free answer of love is an indication, not of incompleteness or impairment in the being of God, but rather of the plenteous fullness and perfection of His being."

We won't dwell on the question of suffering in God, because either you accept it or you don't. I do. Again, I think the doctrine of absolute immobility is a Greek import.

Longtime Raccoons will recall that I use the symbol (↑↓) to designate our creative partnership with God, or O. Let Berdyaev explain why:

"All the complexity of religious life, the meeting and communion of God and man, is linked with the fact that there are two movements and not one: from God toward man[↓], and from man toward God [↑]." Ultimately the two arrows are one open spiral, and this openness is the space of freedom, of love, of creativity.

I think people who believe in predestination essentially posit a metaphysic of pure (↓), which absolutely denies man's freedom, because everything is a monistic and deterministic (same thing) God. In such a view, our genuine freedom and creativity are denied, because God causes everything directly (as in Islam).

It is fair to say that scientism, or any other form of materialism, is a kind of pure (↑), with nothing there to meet it at the other end. Thus, it is an exercise in utter vanity, a vacuous striving with no possibility of meaning, let alone truth -- like trying to pull oneself up by one's own pathetic jokestrap.

Here again, Berdyaev agrees that a religion of pure (↓) -- based only on the "one movement from God toward man, only upon the will of God" -- "would be quite simple." That is, "life in the world would be easy, it would be easy to realize the Kingdom of God." Nor, with no freedom, would there be any tragedy.

In the face of a senseless tragedy or evil, one often hears some variant of "well, it's God's will, so it must be good." I don't know about you, but that is not a God I can accept. As Berdyaev expresses it, "Autocracy in heaven is quite unjust on earth" -- as is any top-down tyranny.

Just about out of time. We'll leave off with one more refreshing blast from Berdyaev:

God does not lord it over men.... He does not demand the slavish worship of a bond-servant. God is freedom; He is the liberator, not the master. God gives a sense of liberty, not of subjection. God is spirit, and spirit knows no such relationship as that of master and slave.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

See What Happens, Barry? This is What Happens When You F*** a Hundred Million Strangers in the Pocketbook!

WALTER: Is this your handiwork, Barry?

Barry does not respond.

WALTER: Is this your bill, Barry?

DUDE: Look, man, did you--

WALTER: Dude, please!. . . Is this what you meant by "fundamental transformation," Barry?

DUDE: Just ask him if he -- ask him about the insurance, man!

WALTER: Is this your signature, Barry? Did you actually sign something written by Reid and Pelosi without even reading it?

DUDE: Is the website yours?

WALTER: Is this your website, Barry?

DUDE: We know it's his fucking website, Walter! Where's my fucking doctor, you Marxist hack? And who stole my Social Security number?

WALTER: Look, Barry. . . Have you ever heard of Jimmy Carter?

DUDE: Oh, for Christ's sake, Walter!

WALTER: You're going to enter a world of pain, son. We know why you're suddenly calling it the ACA instead of ObamaCare. We know you stole the election --

DUDE: With the fucking IRS!

WALTER: With the fucking IRS. And we know that this is your signature legislation, Barry.

WALTER: This piece of shit is beyond the wildest dreams of your worthless commie father, isn't it, Barry?!

DUDE: Congress is gonna cut your fuckin' dinero off, Barry.

WALTER: Ah, this is pointless.

WALTER: All right, Plan B. You might want to watch the polls, Barry.

He is heading for the door. The Dude, puzzled, rises to follow him.

WALTER: This is what happens when you FUCK a hundred million STRANGERS in the ASS, Barry.


Walter is striding down the lawn with his attache case looking like a charging MSNBC host. Without looking back at the Dude, who follows:

WALTER: Fucking postmodern language problem, Dude.

He pops the Dude's trunk, flings in the briefcase and takes out a tire iron.

WALTER: Maybe he'll understand this.

He is walking over to the presidential limo.


CRASH! He swings the crowbar into the windshield, which shatters.


CRASH! He takes out the driver's window.


Lights are going on in houses down the street. Distant blue dog Democrats bark.





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