Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Have You Lost Your Christian Mind?!

I may have to set the Jesus thingy aside for the moment, since I haven't had the temporal slack to thoroughly plunderize Ratzinger, and I don't want to grow it alone. I suppose I could, but that would take even more time -- i.e., time for reflection, contemplation, and trialogue.

Also, I have a hard time planning ahead anyway. Not only does the spirit blow where it will, but this particular spirit can only blow where it will. You call it undisciplined, I call it spontaneity. Or multi-undisciplinary.

At the moment, I'm preoccupied with this nice-looking book (which I just started) called The Gospel and the Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life. It goes to many of the ideas we bandy about here, albeit in a less polemical, sharp-elbowed, and over-the-top manner. He's a professor, not a blogger.

The overall thesis of the book is alarming enough, even if stated in a dispassionate way. Stated in a bobastic way, it would be something like: failing to be Christian makes one intellectually insane. Or in other words, if the purpose of Christianity is salvation, this certainly includes a rescue operation of our capacity to think.

As always, Jews are a special case, therefore much of this may not apply to them; then again, you will have no doubt noticed how common it is for the irreligious (or even Reform) Jew to become intellectually -- and politically -- insane, so perhaps it will; we shall see. We are particularly interested to know if there is some identifiable point that the mind goes off the rails.

Genesis, of course, speaks to this, but in a rather general way: that is, we are all faced with the primordial choice of recognizing God or of being God. Even so, choosing the former is no guarantee of sanity; it's just that choosing the latter is a guarantee of intellectual un- or insanity.

For that matter, it is not as if self-identifying Christians don't lose their marbles. Hardly! We don't want to fall into the No True Scotsman fallacy. Therefore, we will have to inquire into why this is the case: how does the cure seem to become the illness -- as in, say, that homosexual-hating pastor, or Obama's demented mentor?

The No True Scotsman fallacy, by the way, occurs when confronted with a counter-example to a universal claim. Thus, if I affirm that Christianity allows one to think properly, you may reasonably ask: "What about Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Bill Clinton?" To which I indignantly draw myself to my full height and respond, "no true Christian would think as they do." (Similarly, our anonymous troll's favorite fallacy is the "no true progressive" dodge.)

Perhaps we will weave in a bit of the infancy narratives after all, specifically, the star that alerted and guided those Wise Men to Jesus. As Benedict writes, they not only "represent the journeying of humanity toward Christ," but "initiate a procession that continues throughout history."

Furthermore, they symbolize "the inner aspiration of the human spirit, the dynamism of religious and human reason toward him." Also, this makes the implicit connection between cosmos and Christ: there is now something fully in the cosmos that is fully beyond the cosmos: the Creative Reason is here with us, and creativity never stops surpassing itself.

That idea of an intellectual north star: everyone's got one, whether implicit or explicit. One cannot not have a metaphysic and still presume to think. The North Star is the First Principle.

It is possible to attack this question from either end: in other words, assuming one is capable of thinking, one may drill down to the principle that makes this possible.

To cite one obvious example, let's say I am thinking about natural selection. To the extent that I am truly thinking -- or thinking truly -- natural selection cannot possibly be the principle that is responsible for my ability to think about it. That's what you call an epistemological non-starter, because there is simply no way to get from natural selection to truth. This also explains why the metaphysical Darwinian is not only an unserious thinker, but cannot possibly be serious. It is the type of thing we can confidently reject out of hand as a false path.

However, atheism has its benefits, or it wouldn't exist. For example, it exalts the human mind (without the proper complement of humility). Such a mind cannot really know truth, but it can know a kind of pretend truth. It is similar to pretend wealth. Let's say I loan you a great sum of money. You will live large while the money lasts, but all the while you are accruing interest.

Likewise for one who enjoys the flood of cheap Darwinian cash. Eventually -- again, if you drill all the way down -- you will find that your principal is exhausted, and your mind is writing checks that the spirit can't cash. It's all just funny money, and you've been living in an ideological bubble, with one person of tenure living off the worthless checks of another until the whole thing collapses.

Kind of like what happened yesterday.

To be continued...


Gagdad Bob said...

A random example of a completely toxic mind.

mushroom said...

At least Brand has the excuse that he's done too many really good drugs.

What's the excuse for this one?

That's so bizarre that I actually went and checked the Onion's site to make sure CBS Detroit hadn't gotten it from them. I'm still thinking it's got to be satire.

mushroom said...

I guess I really ought to know this, but what is the opposite of No True Scotsman? Is there a fallacy for when we tar an entire group with the same brush because of the bad behavior of one or a few individuals?

A gunman shoots up a school so all people with guns must be homicidal maniacs.

A Catholic priest sexually abuses a child so all priests are child molesters.

A Democrat president commits adultery in the Oval Office and lies about it to a grand jury so all Democrats must be lying adulterers.

Wait, something about that last one ...

Paul Griffin said...

mush, I think the term you're looking for is: "Identity Politics"

Beguine said...

"Jews are a special case"?

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, being that they are (from our perspective) not only in the Judeo-Christian stream, but at its source.

Gagdad Bob said...

But what I really mean is that seriously religious Jews tend to be sanely conservative, while Jews such as "Rabbi" Michael Michael Lerner end up politically and intellectually insane.

ted said...

The chosen people when not choosing. :)

Gagdad Bob said...

I don't know if Ezra Klein is Jewish, but he's certainly messianic:

Obama’s speeches “enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it...

“He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.”

That is some Serious Crazy. Not to mention awful writing.

Gagdad Bob said...

The election poses an interesting problem for liberals. Obviously they can't tell the truth about their beliefs, or they'd be unelectable. But all the usual lies backfired yesterday, e.g., war on women, race-baiting, etc. Therefore, look for a new and improved array of lies. Maybe Obama will reveal some during his press conference today.

julie said...

For that matter, it is not as if self-identifying Christians don't lose their marbles. Hardly!

Indeed; it is perilously easy for people to go off the rails. Quite often, I suspect, as a result of insufficient humility.

In my study today, one of the questions asked pertained to 1 Peter 1:18-19 - how we experience redemption by the blood of Christ. I don't think a single person thought of Communion.

I don't mean to imply at all that my fellow studiers are going off the rails, but rather that they seem to have some massive blind spots on some topics (as people do), and the impression I have sometimes is that they are deeply opposed to anything that even hints at Catholicism. So on the one hand, they have a reverence for the Bible that is occasionally alarming, believing it to be supernaturally perfect, but on the other they don't seem to think Jesus was being serious about that whole "This is My body, this is My blood" thing.

People are funny.

mushroom said...

That's because transubstantiation comes off sounding more like a black mass to Protestant ears. As much as I've hung around Catholics and attended mass, I still just block that out. If it's right, I ought to be a Catholic, or, at the very least, I ought to have communion frequently and recognize what a heavy, powerful, and fearful thing it is.

Communion is, for the most part, the shame of Protestantism and evangelicals.

julie said...

I do get that, which is why I didn't bring up Communion, either - strangely, I think it would have sent the conversation off the rails and away from our study of God. These are good women, and it's clear their faith is deep and they're struggling to make it deeper. No point in reopening the schism.

As a Catholic I have no difficulty in finding their take on faith to be valid, but I suspect that no small percentage of them would be extremely hesitant to grant me the same courtesy. Not out of cruelty or snobbery, but out of a genuine concern for the state of my soul.

People are funny.

mushroom said...

This is said seriously: You really are doing the Lord's work. It's good for Christians to accommodate and adjust and adapt to and for one another. That's exactly what Paul is talking about in Romans 14 and 15.

My wife was Catholic and the kids went through confirmation and all that, so it's pretty easy for me.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

OT: Unfortunately, since there are more idiots than sane people in Washington state, they passed another gun control measure to punish law-abiding citizens.

In response, I joined the NRA (been meaning to, and they have discounts for disabled vets) and I also plan on joining the Chehalis rifle club.

Lewis county, where I live is mostly conservative/libertarian. We actually still have a high school rifle club!

Anyways, when my doc retires in a few years I do plan on joining Iowahawk in moving to deep in the heart of Texas.

Skully said...

All my exes live in Texas...

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Furthermore, they symbolize "the inner aspiration of the human spirit, the dynamism of religious and human reason toward him." Also, this makes the implicit connection between cosmos and Christ: there is now something fully in the cosmos that is fully beyond the cosmos: the Creative Reason is here with us, and creativity never stops surpassing itself."

To me, that's what makes the quest for truth, beauty n' goodness so fun and fascinating.
Of course, one must first want to gno to grow.

julie said...

Mushroom, any work of the Lord's I've done today is probably canceled out by the delicious feeling of schadenfreude I've been getting from the reaction of the Democrats. Especially the Chris Matthews meltdown.

Van Harvey said...

MSNBC was just a beautiful thing to see happen last night. Especially as the Senate kept ticking up 3...4...5...6...7.

Reality. It was like the first time they'd ever seen it.


John Lien said...

...that's why I live in Tennessee.

(well, I don't really)

Geography! (looking up Lewis county..clickety click...)


Pacific NW, Northern Cali, Vermont, England, Western Europe. The libs have made all the nicest places uninhabitable.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I gotta say the sounds of the left's wailing, gnashing of teeth and Lamentations is beyootiful to behold.
Metrosexual meltdown galore, feminazi fuming, heads exploding, and the rage, oh, the rage against reality is like watching a toddler throw a tantrum except several magnitudes more intense.

The GOP and Libertarians oughtta start sayin' the left is waging a war against reality, truth and common sense.

It's a bit heartening to see the lofo independents finally getting fed up with the ludicrous antics of the left.
When folks start getting hit in their wallets they tend to wake up angry. :)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi John,
Aye, they move in like locusts and immediately begin to eat the grains of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Too bad they don't all move to the paradise of Cuba, Venezuela, or some other leftist hellhole.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Dennis Prager gets slandered by the insane, "everything is rape" crowd:

No surprise there, but I'm glad Mr. Prager is outting their lies and standing up to them, unlike the Sarasota GOP leader who tried to throw him under the bus.

Gagdad Bob said...

Tuesday night I was trying to explain "the war on women" insanity to my son. He says, "but you're married to a woman!" That's true, I said, but for liberals it's the idea, not the reality, that counts.

Gagdad Bob said...

What's especially pathetic about the attack on Prager is that he is so attuned to female (and male) nature, in a way that would be impossible for a liberal.

julie said...

I was just watching a video on YouTube a couple of minutes ago, a song by a Saudi woman who wants to be able to sing in public and show her face without it being cause for bringing humiliation upon her entire family. American leftists really have no idea what it's like to live with a war on women.

The only down side to the video is that they seem to be using Betty Friedan as an inspiration; let's hope they have the wisdom to stop at simply being recognized as fully human persons with equal rights under the law, and skip the part where they call for the normalization of lesbianism and the eradication of men...