Friday, December 01, 2017

I Loved a Zombie

The purpose of freedom is to enable us to choose what we are in the depths of our heart. --Schuon, To Have a Center

Now, man is never radically free, obviously. We are not free to rewrite the past or be another gender. Unless you are on the left, in which case you are free to do these things. But is this actually freedom, or flight from it?

Yes and no. Just as we cannot be radically free, nor are we totally determined. Rather, a mixture of each: freedom and necessity, which -- it seems to me -- are like prolongations of infinitude and absoluteness on the human plane.

In this context, necessity consists of all the things that Must Be, whereas freedom is an orthoparadoxical realm of things that might be, AKA potential. But freedom itself is a necessity, nor can it ever be radically excised from Necessity itself, AKA the Absolute. Indeed, to do this -- to treat freedom and necessity as separate things -- is the essence of diabolical freedom.

As Schindler explains, "The moment the will becomes an expression not of goodness but of arbitrary power, an essential opposition is introduced."

In paradise -- or, if you prefer, the upper vertical realm from which we are an ontological declension -- the will is not separated from its telos in the good. To turn it around, to rejoin the will to the good is the royal road back to said paradise.

The point is, freedom is always relational. This is precisely what you would expect in a cosmos that is likewise relational -- AKA trinitarian -- right down to the ground. Therefore, diabolical freedom occurs the moment we descend into an atomistic universe, which is to deny God. Three times, as it were.

You can get this principle via Christian doctrine. That is not how I first encountered it. Rather, I cobbled it together from several sources, and only later realized I had stumbled on something Christians had been teaching for almost two millennia. For me, one big hint was the irreducible intersubjectivity of the mother-infant dyad. It's not that we are intersubjective because we were all once helpless babies.

Rather, the converse: ultimately, this dyad -- and the natural family -- is an icon of the interior life of the Trinity. Thus, just as it is a Christian heresy to posit a Father-God separate from the Son-God, it is a cosmic heresy to atomize man. Other heresies follow from this, such as pretending it is possible for a man to marry a man, or that it is possible to choose one's gender, or the belief that one can have a natural right to murder one's baby.

For which reason you could say that Satan's own definition of freedom was perfectly articulated by the Supreme Court: "the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." That case is called Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but it would be more accurately called SCOTUS v. Man, God, and Reality itself.

In reading that wacky opinion, there is just enough truth in it to make it appear plausible to the unreflective. We do indeed have the "freedom of meaning," but again, if we separate freedom from its proper telos, then it immediately reduces to mere willfulness and power. It then commits the cosmic inversion of placing man in charge of defining reality, instead of being an adequation to it -- in other words, a complete rejection of human privilege and a denial of the human station. From there, hell is right around the corner.

Literally. For just as reuniting freedom with its telos is the royal road to paradise, dividing them is the cosmic U-turn in the other direction: the progressive path of Good Intentions animated by Strong Feelings. And in fact, "reuniting" is itself a misleading term; analogously, you wouldn't say that you need to "reunite" the first and second persons of the Trinity, but rather, see that they can never be separated to begin with.

Back to how Bob stumbled upon all of this. It must have been providence as reflected through the holy happenstance of amazon surfing, which puts one in contact with books one would have never encountered in a thousand years prior to the internet.

Back then, your best shot at widening your world -- or rather, gaining access to the Wider World -- was via independent bookstores run by intellectually and spiritually curious and capacious (and inevitably eccentric) people. And even then, the Search was bogged down by a lot of randomness, AKA cosmic noise.

I'll try to be brief, so as to not get too sidetracked. The author in question was an apparently obscure philosopher named Errol Harris. I see he has a wiki page, so I am about to learn some things about him I never knew -- for example, that he was from South Africa. He wrote a lot of things with which I disagreed or were irrelevant to me, but perhaps the most useful was his critique of logical atomism, which might as well be another name for the metaphysic that gives rise to diabolical liberty.

Ultimately, Harris

concludes that science supports a worldview that is relativistic, holistic, organicistic, teleological, and hierarchical in character -- a worldview contradicted by the unconfessed atomistic, mechanical, and pluralistic metaphysical presuppositions of formal and mathematical logic that are wrongly privileged by philosophical empiricism.

Better than "relativistic" would be relational, but you get the point: the world doesn't consist of unrelated monads bumping around together in the void; rather, reality is, as Norris Clarke puts it, substance-in-relation. Being is communion. You could even say it is intimate communion. Some might even say it is love, but here again, that cannot be severed from truth and beauty. Indeed, when you so much as bear witness to a beautiful sunset, you are quite obviously on unspeakably intimate terms with the universe. You are knowing it in the biblical way, pardon my French.

I didn't start to "get" this stuff until I was well into my 30s, and even then only in a piecemeal fashion. I didn't yet see the One Cosmos. My son is on much more intimate terms with reality than I was at his age (12). For example, he has taken up photography, not just to shoot snapshots, but with a real awareness of beauty. If you had asked me about beauty at his age, I would have wondered if you were doubting that I was all boy (to put it euphemistically).

We are getting rather far afield this morning, aren't we?

I'm going to dive back into Schindler and double-check, but it seems to me that he keeps saying the same thing in a thousand different ways -- that freedom severed from its telos devolves to its diabolical counterfeit. Everything becomes a cheap shadow of itself, while swallowing up the reality to which it is supposed to point.

I suppose the final common pathway of the illness is the creation of counterfeit humans, AKA zombies. Which puts our present politico-cultural divide in a deeper context. Yes, we are experiencing a zombie invasion, with President Trump standing between us and a full-on zombie apocalypse.

This reminds me of something I want to mention before sliding into the weekend. I received an email from a reader asking me for advice on how a Christian is supposed to love our zombie invaders. It's an excellent question about which I have a lot of thoughts. I don't have time to spill them right now, but perhaps this will spark a conversation over the weekend. Here are some excerpts from the letter:

In the past few years it's become more and more clear to me that some animals are more equal than others, and some populations are being asked to adhere to a higher standard than others....

It's so blatant now; professors as well as the unwashed on places like Twitter are openly saying white people should be exterminated; they say this with absolutely no fear of sanction or consequence. We are told that for the good of the planet we shouldn't have children, but then we're told we must bring in millions of nons to buttress (replace) our aging workforce.

It's all around us everyday. It's all bullshit, this moral demand for egalitarianism coupled with constant anti-white sentiment. And it's here where my excruciating dilemma comes in. How do I hold in one hand what I know; and in the other hand hold my desire to draw close to God, who demands that I love my enemies, and treat everyone with compassion, as He treats us? Is there some way to balance this and keep my integrity, to not lie to myself or God?

.... So there it is, the splinter in my mind. I guess if I could encapsulate my problem it would be to ask how can I resist society's demand that I engage in genetic self-loathing and suicide and at the same time obey God's commands to love my neighbor (and enemies)?


Christina M said...

Translation: How do I love those who wish to destroy me?

Gagdad Bob said...

Seems to me that loving them accomplishes two things: 1) it annoys the hell out of them, and 2) prevents their noxious spirit from entering you and spoiling your fun.

And there are important modes of love that have nothing to do with bland niceness. Sometimes you have to love the hell out of people.

Gagdad Bob said...

You know, as in how Jesus tries to love the hell out of the moneychangers.

julie said...

Bob, you just summed up a part of my week. My boy has a friend he loves to hang out with and walk with after school, while we wait for her mom (who is invariably between 5 and 15 minutes late). Last year, the mom was friendly, chatty, invited us over, etc. This year, for reasons unknown to me, she went from "we should set up a play date!" to telling her older kid to tell my kid that we can't walk together anymore.

Thing is, while it is mystifying it is mainly just amusing. Although perhaps I take a little too much pleasure in smiling happily at her as we pass by, while she makes a face remarkably like the one men usually make on their sex offender apology tours...

julie said...

Thanks for sharing that email, by the way. It's a question I suspect is on the minds of most Christians these days, in one form or another.

Prayer helps, of course. Also understanding what compassion and love really mean.

I think it helps to look to the prophets and the apostles; they spent a lot of time dealing with people who hated them, and occasionally whom they hated just as much. Jonah comes to mind: he really didn't want to deliver his message of repentance to the people of Ninevah, preferring instead to let them suffer. We know how that worked out.

Paul was arrested, attacked, and should have been dead at least a time or two. Memorably, once when the Romans went to let him out of prison quietly, he stuck around and insisted that the local magistrate personally come down and publicly acknowledge that he had been grievously wronged. He wasn't petty or vindictive, but he also didn't take any crap.

Anonymous said...

You can love people, but it is also important to be able to control them. For instance, in the influence business, you don't want people too fixated on universal truths. Then you can't sell them your product, which may not be that great. That's how advertising works. You need to sell them on an alternate reality, your reality. Little Suzie needs the new doll, because it comes with toy RV and she can play camping. She needs that doll, darn it. And Suzie will convince her parents to shell out. That's the game.

Likewise, for a political movement, you want people to keep an open mind about your program and overlook any flaws it might have. Keep them scared, keep them anxious. Wow we better support so and so, or look what might happen....

The idea is to keep universal truths in mind for yourself, while at the same time not fostering that so much for other people. It sounds a little slimy, but what can you do?

This keeps the lucre flowing in this great land of ours. And is anyone getting hurt? Probably not.

Tritellevitz, New World Order. Add note, I am not Illuminati. I'm not with those pompous fools and their classical orchestra music. Good Freemasons, them I'll hang with.

son of a preacher man said...

Sounds like the business model of a serpentine fruit salesman

Gagdad Bob said...

Well, since no one is chiming in, I'll have to think of my top ten ways to deal with the dilemma described by our reader.


The world is your challenge, precisely. Let the world be the world, because that is what it is always going to be anyway. Your task is to participate in it, but from a transcendent point of view. If you think we're f*cked now, you are correct. But history teaches that this has always been the case.

Gagdad Bob said...


Always be practicing karma yoga, which means engaging in good works for their own sake, while renouncing any fruit thereof. Don't be good for a reward -- otherworldly or thiswise -- but because you love virtue.

Gagdad Bob said...


In the long run, all the idiocy in the world tends to cancel out.

Gagdad Bob said...


Davila: "Christianity does not solve 'problems'; it merely obliges us to live them at a higher level."

Gagdad Bob said...


God himself is crucified in and by history. That's called a hint. And "you shall be persecuted for my sake."

Gagdad Bob said...


Abandon mere horizontal hope and try to see things from the perspective of eternity.

Gagdad Bob said...


You can't change yourself. What makes you think you can change the world? However, this doesn't mean change doesn't take place. Unexpected vertical interventions are everywhere.

Gagdad Bob said...


There are no solutions, only trade-offs.

Gagdad Bob said...


Don't worry, it will all be over soon. Practice transcendental humor. Life is ridiculous. Don't wait until you are sick and dying before you realize this, but live your terrestrial life in light of its end.

Gagdad Bob said...


Nothing is possible without God, without whom you are condemned to an absurcular existence, devoid of liberating graces from above. Aspiration, rejection (of unreality), and surrender are the keys. You cannot lift yourself by your own buddhastraps, so the sooner you turn yourself in and surrender peacefully, the better.

Gagdad Bob said...

More from Davila:

-- The opposite of the absurd is not the reasonable, but the happy.

-- Only the unexpected fully satisfies.

-- He who wishes to avoid grotesque collapses should look for nothing in space or in time that will fulfill him.

-- Nothing that satisfies our expectations fulfills our hopes.

Gagdad Bob said...

-- In history it is sensible to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans.

Gagdad Bob said...

-- The waters of the West are stagnant, but the spring is unpolluted.

Gagdad Bob said...

-- Man can keep the page clean, but only God can write on it.

Gagdad Bob said...

-- We all have a key to the door that opens onto the luminous and noble peace of the desert.

Gagdad Bob said...

-- Man matures when he stops believing that politics solves his problems.

Gagdad Bob said...

-- We cannot escape the triviality of existence through the doors, but rather through the roofs.

Gagdad Bob said...

-- The only possible progress is the internal progress of each individual. A process that concludes with the end of each life.

Gagdad Bob said...

-- Common sense is the father’s house to which philosophy returns, every so often, feeble and emaciated.

-- Four or five invulnerable philosophical propositions allow us to make fun of the rest.

Gagdad Bob said...

Bottom line: don't worry. You will live long enough to see the defeat of your cause.

ted said...

That's a terrific top 10 Bob! I may re-post on my blog. I was challenged by #4. If there is a potential "internal progress of each individual", is that not change in itself. I'm assuming you may be mean this is not as a result of the self, but of vertical interventions in surrendering to God.

Gagdad Bob said...

You might say that man is a necessary but not sufficient cause of his own betterment.

julie said...

I'll second Ted, these are all great. And perfectly true.

Rick said...

Enemy is an interesting word. A few years ago I was under attack by let’s say a SJW though at the time I didn’t know the term. In contemplative prayer I realized this person was not my enemy. We were not “after” the same thing. I was nearly “in the way.” This realization was a huge relief to my stress and I’m not kidding I started to actually worry about her.
Bob do you think there’s anything to this; to asking oneself “is this my enemy?” Do we really have any? Or are most of our conflicts mostly disappointments, envy, frustration..? Merely crossed streams.
Neighbor is also a very particular word. I think it’s no accident and means someone in your path, (as in the case of the Good Samaritan) and not some imaginary person or group half a world away. As opposed to the causes and concerns and victims of the SJW are not actual people they’ve met (but rather people they read about or heard about in college etc). They’re worried about the imaginary victim rather than the one actually in front of them that they are attacking.
To hate Trump Supporters is actually to hate thoughts, not this person or that one.

Gagdad Bob said...

Concur with the latter for sure. The overwhelming majority of my interactions with other human beings are wholly pleasant or at least neutral. I often think of this in terms of the extent to which the media constantly presents us with things we don't experience in our day-to-day lives, thus magnifying them. If I only generalize from personal experience, the world looks rather different.

I would also like to put in a good word for hatred. Dennis Prager often mentions that scripture teaches that God hates evil. It's just that we need to be very cautious in our hatred, first, because it gives a kind of secret (or not so secret) pleasure, and second, because it is a magical way of absolving ourselves and elevating ourselves above others. Schuon says something about the need for it to be objective, which is to say, in conformity with its object, and not just dictated by blind passion.

Some further thoughts by Schuon (which also go to our reader's original concern):

"If God alone has the right to punish, it is because He is beyond the ego; hatred means to arrogate to oneself the place of God, to forget one’s human sharing of a common misery, to attribute to one’s own ‘I’ a kind of absoluteness, detaching it from that substance of which individuals are only so many contractions or knots.

"It is true that God sometimes delegates his right of punishment to man in so far as he rises above the ‘I’, or must and can so rise; but to be the instrument of God is to be without hatred against man. In hatred, man forgets ‘original sin’ and thereby loads himself, in a certain sense, with the sin of the other; it is because we make God of ourselves whenever we hate, that we must love our enemies.

"To hate another is to forget that God alone is perfect and that God alone is Judge. In good logic one can hate only ‘in God’ and ‘for God’; we must hate the ego, not the ‘immortal soul’, and hate him who hates God, and not otherwise, which amounts to saying that we should hate his hatred of God and not his soul.

"Likewise, when Christ says that it is necessary to ‘hate’ one’s ‘father and mother’, that means that it is necessary to reject whatever in them is ‘against God’, that is to say the attachment which serves as an obstacle in respect of ‘the one thing needful’. Such ‘hatred’ implies for those whom it concerns a virtual liberation; it is then, on the plane of eschatological realities, an act of love."

Gagdad Bob said...

More: "If love takes precedence over hatred to the point that there is no common measure between them, this is because absolute Reality is absolutely lovable; love is substance, hatred is accident, except in the case of creatures that are perverse.

"There are two kinds of hatred, one legitimate and one illegitimate: the first derives from a love that is the victim of an injustice, such as the love of God crying for vengeance, and this is the very foundation of all holy anger; the second kind is unjust hatred, or hatred that is not limited inwardly by the underlying love which is its raison d’etre and which justifies it; this second hatred appears as an end in itself, it is subjective and not objective, it seeks to destroy rather than to redress."

Gagdad Bob said...

And finally, "the main thing is to know whether in a particular case our pity for a given human substance should prevail over our horror for the accident that makes the individual hateful. For it is true that from a certain point of view, one must hate the sin and not the sinner; but this point of view is relative, and does not prevent one from being sometimes forced, as a matter of proportion, to despise the sinner to the extent that he identifies himself with his sin.

"We once heard it said that whoever is incapable of contempt is likewise incapable of veneration; this is perfectly true, on condition that the evaluation is correct and that the contempt does not exceed the limits of its sufficient reason, subjectively as well as objectively. Just contempt is both a weapon and a means of protection; there is also such a thing as indifference, certainly, but this is an eremitical attitude that is not necessarily practicable or good in human society, for it runs the risk of being wrongly interpreted.

"Moreover, and this is important, a just contempt is necessarily combined with a measure of indifference, otherwise one would lack detachment and also that fund of generosity without which anger cannot be holy. Seeing an evil must not cause us to forget its contingency; a fragment may or must trouble us, but we must not lose sight of the fact that it is a fragment and not totality; awareness of totality, which is innocent and divine, in principle takes priority over everything else. We say “in principle”, for contingencies retain all their rights; this amounts to saying that serene anger is a possibility, and even a necessity, because in hating an evil, we do not cease to love God."

Gagdad Bob said...

Churchill is someone who was able to hate righteously, without it overwhelming his essential magnanimity. For which reason the motto of his WW2 memoirs was:

In War: Resolution.
In Defeat: Defiance.
In Victory: Magnanimity.
In Peace: Good Will.

julie said...

Yes, this is all so true, particularly on the individual level. How many of us are likely to meet someone like a Podesta in our daily lives? Much more likely is the family member, friend or acquaintance who we might love, but is given over to some degree to leftist indoctrination. I don't know if I've ever met a person who didn't genuinely believe that their politics are born of a genuine concern for the well-being of their fellow man, no matter how misguided they may be. Knowing that, it is much easier to love them even if they are plunging into the depths of Trump derangement syndrome.

Conversely, if the rumors I've been hearing for the past year about many of our so-called elites are even a little true, the only proper response is indeed a legitimate hatred, which demands a crying out for justice - and yet, even so, the justice it demands should cause fear and trembling in every heart.

Some months ago I came across the prayer for an Act of Reparation. Whenever the news takes a particularly awful turn, I find I turn to it for comfort. Not as a seeking of indulgences, but simply because sometimes people are truly so awful I know of no other way to find my footing again.

God help us all.

Gagdad Bob said...

Be careful in wishing for justice! To paraphrase someone, in a just world no one would escape a whipping. Or, in the words of Davila, "Our last hope is in God’s injustice."

Anonymous said...

Such an outpouring of wisdom in the comments section, it is an embarrassment of riches. Thank you all.

In response to Rick regarding loving your enemies:

Trouble with enemies comes in two ways:

The first is, you have been nice and polite. You have no enemies. While your friends and family engage in spats, confrontations, and ugly scenes with their enemies, you are left side-lined, grinning, slowly going mad in your serene bubble. Oh God, anything for a break in this monotony.

The second is, you have been aggressive and opinionated. Now you have a surfeit of enemies, and you are bogged down in constant conflicts and are incurring losses of status or money.

The ideal is a happy medium. One or two enemies whom consistently engage you in mutual rancor, and are a joy to quarrel with or gossip about, makes for good living.

As far as love goes, others have expressed the solution. A detached contempt, a righteous anger grounded and supported by a love of all things and people, will keep you emotionally uncontaminated yet fully in the fray.

A good enemy, like a good friend, is a treasure. Can you think of which of your enemies you would loath to live without? You can secretly love them. But don't let them know.

Anonymous said...

.... So there it is, the splinter in my mind. I guess if I could encapsulate my problem it would be to ask how can I resist society's demand that I engage in genetic self-loathing and suicide and at the same time obey God's commands to love my neighbor (and enemies)?

Re: genetic self-loathing...

Perhaps the Christ will permit an observation from his brother...

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection."
- Buddha

Yes, we *should* love each and all.
Odd that some of us regularly exclude ourselves from the circle.

- shoe

Unknown said...

Bob said: "Be careful in wishing for justice! To paraphrase someone, in a just world no one would escape a whipping."

It's been several years for me now that this thought will course through my mind, depending on the context
(Ex: SJW ranting, things that promote genetic self-loathing, etc.):

'For many of us, "justice" looks remarkably like "revenge".'