Thursday, 5 May 2016

Note: Change to commenting access

I am having increasing trouble with spam - and the changed setting now requires that commenters must have a Google account.

If you don't, and yet want to comment - you could send me an e-mail.

(Of course, even if you do e-mail, there is no guarantee your comment will get published; but then, you know how it is around here...)

Desert Island Music favourites - Beethoven is the celebrity choice

Favourite composers to take to a desert island
  1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven
  3. Johann Sebastian Bach
  4. Franz Schubert
  5. Giuseppe Verdi
  6. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  7. Sir Edward Elgar
  8. Giacomo Puccini

Favourite specific works
  1. Beethoven - Symphony No 9 in D minor 'Choral'
  2. Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor
  3. Schubert - String Quintet in C major
  4. Beethoven Symphony No 6 in F Major 'Pastoral'
  5. Elgar - Pomp & Circumstance March no 1 in D Major 'Land of Hope and Glory'
  6. Beethoven - Piano Concerto No 5 in E Flat Major 'Emperor'
  7. Elgar - Enigma Variations Nimrod
  8. Beethoven - Symphony No 7 in A major

Desert Island Discs is a BBC radio programme which has been going for more than 70 years. The idea is that some famous person, usually one residing in Britain, is invited to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item to take to an imaginary desert island - as a way of having a discussion about his or her life and opinions.

The above is the averaged list of the musical preferences of the hundreds of celebrities - what strikes me is how sound they are. The top three composers - Mozart, Beethoven and Bach - are exactly the same as Charles Murray extracted by his vast and systematic analysis of scholarship:

And the specific pieces most often chosen are all worthy  - if we allow Elgar's 'Land of Hope and Glory' its place due to English Patriotism.

It is interesting that although Mozart was the favourite composer. he does not make the top ten for specific pieces of music; which is probably due to his having written so many excellent and popular items in so many genres that the votes are thinly spread across them.

I wonder what the favourite Mozart items was? My guess would be the Requiem, due to its featuring in the play/ movie Amadeus - even though it is only partly by Mozart and not regarded as among his best works by scholars. What - if not the Requiem, then, should it be? For me: The Magic Flute; for most musically-informed people The Marriage of Figaro - but in a general poll, maybe the Clarinet Concerto?

Holy Communion - what is happening depends on conviction

Within the Anglican communion there are both Catholics and Protestants with the views of the nature of Holy Communion that you would associate with each of those.

The Catholics believed in the real and mystical presence of Christ in the bread and wine - so long as the Mass was conducted properly by a priest who has been ordained in a direct lineage from the Apostles. The Protestants regard Holy Communion as a memorial meal.

I used to attend an Anglo Catholic church for a short Mass at least once a week, and found the service and the actual taking of bread and wine very effectual: my feelings validated my own belief and that of those who conducted the service. Later I attended a Protestant (Evangelical) Anglican church and found that the Holy Communion was... mildly pleasant but inessential: my feelings validated the beliefs of those who conducted the service.

It seems to me that with Holy Communion, as a broad generalization, you get what you sincerely want and believe; if it is 'taken fully seriously' - as Anglo Catholics used to do (before most of them liberalized/ secularized), it is a renewal and a mystical communion. If you think of it as an optional-extra - the Lord's Supper performed, infrequently, simply because the Bible tells us to do it; then it functions as a memorial, but lacks any mystical aspect.

It seems to me that our hearts can discern these truths.

Once, not long after my conversion - and before I had recognized and rejected the anti-Christianity dominant in the Church of England, I participated in a Holy Communion conducted by a priestess. I wasn't thinking or worrying abut it, it was mostly experienced as a fairly normal service (for that church) until I took the bread and wine; at which point I was shocked by a powerful sense of wrongness.

That was, in fact, the exact moment when I became aware that women were not priests and that it was wrong to assert that they were priests - and that therefore I must stop prevaricating and delaying and 'sitting on the fence - must pick-my-side in the great Christian disputes of our era.

Because I currently attend a Protestant church, I seldom nowadays participate in Holy Communion; and when I do find myself indifferent to it (the 20 minute sermon is the focus of the service - whereas there was no sermon in the short Masses I used to attend); and I miss Mass.

But it is interesting that I reached a view on the validity of Mass by means of a very 'Protestant' exercise of individual conscience! I find a 'real' Mass objectively valuable to theosis, but Mass is not objectively necessary to salvation.

This may be supposed to be self-contradictory - that I would personally and subjectively evaluate the (small c) catholic church as objectively valid... but to me it seems obvious that this is how things are and ought to be. In a world created by God our loving Father for our benefit: honest, heart-felt understandings will converge upon truth.

Is poetry important? Great poets say not. Frost and Eliot - stays and fragments

These fragments I have shored against my ruins... TS Eliot in The Wasteland

A momentary stay against confusion... Robert Frost in The Figure a Poem makes

It struck me yesterday how nihilistic are these famous self-evaluations of their art by two of the great poets of the early 20th century - Why should anyone be interested by, make sacrifices for, dedicate their lives to either producing or reading 'fragments' futilely trying and failing hold back ruin or something which only momentarily interrupts a state of confusion before being snapped?

Answer - they aren't interested and don't make sacrifices or dedicate their lives; and real poetry has been declining ever since (even as subsidizied 'poetry' and its official, certificated criticism is a bloated profession).

All this is bound-up with the mass loss of faith in religion (and Eliot no doubt changed his mind after writing the above and when he became a Christian; but the above quote is the one that is remembered) - because, without God nothing can be more than a temporary, feeble, and ultimately futile delusion of apparent meaning and order in a world which is in reality nothing more than confused ruin.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Final Participation as the theosis of the future - Owen Barfield's scheme given its full Christian context

It was seemingly difficult for Owen Barfield to express clearly what he meant by Final Participation of human consciousness - indeed I think he exhibited a reluctance to be explicit on this point.

I now feel I have sufficiently understood Final Participation to re-explain it in my own words; but in doing so I take a step further than Barfield was willing to go in most public fora; and I think I can understand why.

To make Final Participation clear involves acknowledging its basis in Christianity - which has a tendency to alienate non-Christians; while at the same time claiming to move-forward-from, and in that sense 'supercede' Historical Christianity - which would tend to alienate most Christians: thereby leaving Barfield with only a very small audience!

Anyway, whether or not the above understanding is a correct guess: here is my understanding of the assumed historical sequence of Original Participation - going through various phases to our current almost wholly-alienated Modern Western Consciousness Soul - to Final Participation.

The key concept is theosis, which is the process of becoming divine. The consciousness of theosis therefore clearly depends on the concept of the divine: in becoming like-god it depends what we understand by god.

Original Participation was the situation of the first Men - who lived in hunter gatherer societies. They understood the divine to be something like energies in a process of circulation and transformation. Theosis was therefore the living daily experience of participating in these energies and transformations. The system was closed, all is as it was and ever will be. Man is part of the divine, but not a separate self.

This was the childhood of Man.

Then came the start of an increasing degree of self-consciousness, of Man as aware of Himself as an Agent with 'free will'; which brought with it an increasing sense of separation from the divine. At first the separation was only temporary and could be overcome by the activities of priest, performing rituals, in temples - and the ultimate aim was to restore each man into the divine. Mundane life was an exile - the aim was reabsorption of the individual self-consciousness back into the divine consciousness. Man conceived himself as as 'a worm', with the merest glimmer or vestige of autonomy - and that autonomy essentially wicked.

By stages, over many centuries, the separation of self-consciousness and awareness of the self as unique increased until it became almost (but never fully) complete; so that now and for many generations Man regards himself no longer as a worm, but as the only god - which either leads to absolute (but brittle) pride at his self-creation of his own reality out of nothing; or (and eventually) to despair at his belief that therefore reality depends on his own continuous creation and is therefore feeble and temporary and doomed to end with death - Man regarding himself as something even-less-than a worm.

At this stage theosis has stopped, is no longer a purpose, life has no meaning outside of the contigent and ephemeral and private subjective consciousness.

This is the adolescence of Man.

Final Participation is the renewal of a new kind of theosis in which God and the Self are both regarded as real (eternally real) - and there are many selves, each on the path towards divinity. So the aim is not immersive participation in divine energies; it is not reabsorption into the divine; but the aim of Final Participation is instead to participate in the process of ever more, and ever more loving and creative, relationships between the many eternal selves of Men on the one hand and God (in divine multiplicity) on the other hand.

Final Participation is Final because the system is no longer closed (as it was in Original Participation) but open-ended and capable of eternal expansion, as we as individuals each and collectively grow towards a divinity of the same kind and level as God - but an unique, and continually added-to divinity; and with many others (being added-to) all around us, in relationships with us, who are doing the same.

To move towards Final Participation we need to consider the nature of our relationship with the divine - and that we are to understand ourselves as immature and very-partial divinities - but that God has a loving and paternal relationship with us; so we need have nothing to fear from him and an attitude of trust and confidence in him as he will always want the best for us and work for that end.

For Final Participation, therefore, we need to see God as a person and a personal friend; and not somebody or some-thing vast and mysterious to be awed by and needing to be appeased, not somebody to be pleaded-with, nor an alien and incomprehensible being to be worshipped - and not an abstract infinite perfection which we seek to 'lose ourselves' into. At least, such attitudes cannot be foremost and regulative of our relation to God - but only background, exceptional and temporary.

Of Course, God condescends greatly to meet us at our level, and for that we should be grateful; but having said that we just need to put aside that fact and get on with the relationship at our own childish or adolescent level (just as a child knows that the adult is condescending to play, but the play cannot be play unless that condescension is 'forgotten' while the play is in progress). Respectful friendliness, trust, confidence - and an 'equality' which (like the child's in play with  parent, as he grows) is not less real for continually being superceded by higher levels of maturing and diminishing magnitudes of difference. 

Barfield - following Coleridge - saw reality in terms of distinguishable, dynamic but not separable polarities. The Polarity of Final Participation may be between God as an eternal and fully-divine person; and each of ourselves as eternal and partially-divine persons. The poles never to be united, but always bound-together in dynamic process, energized by that thing we could call Love - so long as we are clear that Love contains many positive aspects such as creativity, intelligence, power...

In sum - the movement from Original to Final Participation (leaving-out the long transitional state that occupies recorded history, and in which we still seem to be 'stuck') is therefore centred on the work of Christ; understood as enabling the change from theosis as loss of the self and reabsorption back-into the divine - to theosis as a stronger and maturing self-awarness and consciousness; closer and closer towards the adulthood of a full friend-like relationship between the personal loving God and his growing-up child.

It is the lived experience of this theosis which is Final Participation.


Note added: Having posted the above I almost immediately came upon an explicit confirmation of my interpretation on page 154 of What Coleridge Thought by Owen Barfield:

...The polarity God [polar-with symbol] Man is the basis of all polarity, in nature and elsewhere.

This leads to my final summary:

Original Participation = Divine Unity
Consciousness Soul = Human Separateness
Final Participation = Divine-Human Polarity

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Christianity and the absorption of Romanticism

If we wind-back over two hundred years to the beginnings of the Romantic movement in the West - to that great upwelling of human creativity and aspiration that is associated with the likes of Coleridge and Wordsworth and reached its culmination in the person and works of Goethe - we can see that it was addressing real and deep problems in Western Christianity, and indeed in Christianity up to that point.

We can also see that Romanticism on the one hand never went away but has always since been present - and on the other hand that Romanticism never got any further, indeed it never again got as far as it did in that first wave. Compare the 1890s, or 1960s resurgences of Romanticism with the original to measure the partiality, feebleness and corruption of later Romanticism - yet the impulse has never left the West.

Romanticism was indeed deflected and corrupted - especially into atheism and a focus on sex; but its original aspiration was not just good but in fact necessary: the assertion of Imagination to heal the alienation that had overwhelmed Modern Man with the advent of the Scientific Revolution from the 1600s and the dualism described by Descartes.

Christianity did not accept or include Romanticism, indeed ever since Romanticism Christianity has been fighting the long defeat against secular Leftism; and almost the only Christians who have survived as Christian have been those who rejected Romanticism and have remained alienated - those with materialist attitudes to the spiritual, those with a spiritual attitude to bureaucracy, those who accept the 'literalism' of the scriptures as if they were science textbooks (by some theoretical and dead version of science where it is a series of true statements).

These are harsh words to use against those who are desperately maintaining a glimmer of light as all around is engulfed in darkness - but the fact is that Christianity is not-good-enough; the deep problems it had when Romanticism arose remain and have hardened. It is possible that the alienated literalism of the strongest remaining types of Christianity is a double-edged sword: a defence against being dissolved in the evil relativism/ nihilism of modernity - but also a defect that guarantees continual shrinkage and eventual defeat.

By this account, the greatest success of Secular Leftism is to keep Christianity so continually on the back-foot that in fighting to prevent its absorption by Secular Leftism (which has been the fate of all mainstream Christian churches in The West) it has been unable to Romanticize itself - because that is what is required: Christianity must itself absorb Romanticism.

We need to do the mental exercise of re-winding two hundred years and absorbing, and Christianizing, the impulse of the Romantic movement.

This is done by purpose. Romanticism was all about process, but lacked purpose - because it came to reject Christianity. Christianity provides the purpose which can be used to organize Romanticism, to keep the good and reject the bad - and error, corruption and sin are shed as there is movement towards the goal.

In a sense, the lesson of the history of Romanticism is that purpose is almost-everything. Life is - or should be - a much more creative thing than was envisaged by The Age of Reason, a much more heartfelt and instinctual and spontaneous thing than envisaged by the Age of Enlightenment, a much more loving thing than ever was known to the logical Middle Ages.

Above all, Life should be One thing; and our reason, understanding and thinking must include that Life is One thing. Romanticism is, should be, that reorganzing of our reason, understanding, thinking... and then grasping and assimilating it by the Imagination.

Men are intrinsically imperfect beings, prone to error, prone to sin - but Romanticism saw that this was a feature not a bug: we are made this way (by God) for a reason, and a vital reason. For Christian Romanticism, life was not about a perfection of being and our failure to be it; but about the process of living, striving, creating, loving, erring, sinning, repenting and everything else... But all guided and shaped by Christian purpose.

It is the purpose which makes Christian Romanticism Good. Romanticism saw that it was a metaphysical error to suppose that good and evil could be separated in the actual human condition: they can and must be distinguished, but they cannot be separated - always both are there.

Always and inevitably both Good and evil - therefore this is part of God's plan, therefore it is necessary and not to be regretted or extirpated. We cannot be 'good' every inch of the way, therefore we are not meant to be good every inch of the way - we are meant alwyas (and every inch of the way) to aim at good.

(To be of Good Purpose, to be working for God's plan - a 'plan' which is more like organic growth and development toward establishing and maintaining a dense and diverse ecosystem, than it is like an engineering blueprint to be 'implemented' by Project Management).

This is of course what God Himself does - in our lives, to reach good involves bad - for example self-denial, suffering, hardship: only via these bad things can good be reached. So in our own lives. It would be fatal to try and extirpate all bad things - indeed that is the underpinning error of that Secular Leftism/ Liberalism which seeks above everything to eliminate suffering. It is fatal, and it is also paradoxical and impossible - we need to set-aside such futile hankerings. 

What God wants is not a paradox, but a direction. We take our mixed selves, living our mixed lives, and point them in the proper direction - and that is true and attainable and non-paradoxical Goodness; that is the Christianity we most deeply need: A Christianity which has absorbed Romanticism - a Romantic Christianity.

[For clarification of the nature and origins and fate of Romanticism, a start could be made with: ]

Monday, 2 May 2016

Why an elected Christian monarch is impossible; why good government of Western nations is impossible

A Christian monarch is one who rules as a servant of God - and on the assumption that he or she was chosen by God for the job, and is guided by God in this task.

This is only possible in and for a society which is, overall, Christian - and therefore wants to be ruled by a monarch who at least aims-to rule the society on Christain principles; wants to be ruled by a monarch who himself aspires to be representative of God's will on earth and in mortal life (as best as possible with imperfect people in an imperfect world).

Anybody who is elected owes their position to the electors - or more often to those who rig and fix the election - and not to God. The exception is when the electors are few enough to gather in a room, and devout enough to subordinate their wishes to what they perceive of the divine will; and devoted enough to their people to seek a good and universal Father (or Mother) to the nation.

But for the decision of such a small group of devout people to be accepted and binding; requires that the powers of the population-at-large acknowledge the authority of this group - and this can only happen on the basis of a geniune and shared religion.

The first conclusion is that good government is not possible in the West today, because the people have no religion and are secular rejectors. It is absurd to suppose that a Christian monarch could be planted atop our society, and allowed to rule impartially and lovingly - yet with power and authority - on behalf of God.

A society has to deserve a great leader, or else the leader will either not lead, or not be great.

So there is no possible system by which The West as it is could have good political leadership.

A good leader is usually Father to the nation - but our nations are in permanent rebellion against parents, and especially Fathers. A good leader operates on the basis of broadly-shared transcendental ideals - but The West does not believe in the reality of the transcendental.

A good leader rules for the general and long-term spiritual good of his people (his 'children') - but we want only material good, and specifically for ourselves, and we want it now

The West must first become religious, specifically Christian - and only then will good leadership become possible. And if, as seems likely, we do not become Christian; then we might as well forget about pining for good leadership - which is an irresponsible waste of our finite time; and instead concentrate our efforts and attentions on something attainable.   

Charles Williams novels on Kindle from amazon-uk for 'half a dollar'

The Inkling Charles Williams died in 1945, and came out-of-copyright last year - immediately, The Charles Williams Collection, including all his novels, has been issued as an ebook on Kindle by Karpathos publishers at a give-away price of 82p.

If you have been intending to read some CW but not yet gotten round to it, then now is the time. Most people find either The Place of the Lion, Descent into Hell or All Hallows Eve to be the best of these novels.

Place of the Lion was one of the key books that sparked-off CS Lewis's serious prose-writing with Lewi's Space Trilogy and Tolkien's Lost Road/ Notion Club Papers and the legends of Numenor - which eventually got into Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. General enuthsiasm for Place of the Lion among the Inklings (it was Nevill Coghill who 'discovered' it in 1936) also sparked the friendship leading onto Inklings membership three years later and for the rest of CW's life.

I found it a very potent book which worked on me after I had finished it, so I have returned and re-read it several times over three decades - each time liking it more. The special philosophical interest comes from the implications of Platonic Archetypes; but in general PotL is a compelling description of the invasion of mundane life by the super-natural - the profound realities. 

Descent into Hell is powerful and memorable, with a compelling inner logic. The philosophical interest is about the nature of Time: the novel convincingly displays the implications of divine time as described in Boetheius's Consolations of Philosophy (which is the understanding of nearly all mainstream Classical Christian theology - God outside of Time; observing past, present and future simultaneously - but not typically of Mormon theology).

All Hallows Eve is the most novelistic and flowing - presumably because it was written with the benefit of the Inklings criticisms and advice. Jack and Warnie Lewis felt it demonstrated an astonishing understanding of life after death.

(For me the elements of sadism in AHE are too prominent - and this is an undercurrent in all William's books except for Place of the Lion. It is a thing to which I am particularly sensitive and averse in fiction - a fact for which my family could vouch, when it comes to watching TV and movies. For example, I initially could not get-into the first book of Harry Potter - which I now love - beause I felt a careless cruelty about the way it described Harry being treated by the Dursleys!)

The other Charles Williams novels are interesting in patches, rather than enjoyable, to me - and I have never succeeded in reading any of them straight-through. The exception, and the most distinctive of them, is The Greater Trumps; which is half very good and half botched.

I don't regard Williams as a great or even canonical novelist - but three significant successes out of seven is not bad - and these include books which have meant a great deal to some of the great authorities of English Literature; notably including the prime arbiter of quality in the mid 20th century, TS Eliot. So, and especially at this price! - they are well worth a try.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Attempting briefly to explain the big picture about Life

By my current understanding there is pre-mortal spirit life and post mortal resurrected life, both of which are about theosis/ learning to become divine.

This is down to my (revealed, not logical) understanding that the basic purpose of creation is to enable/ encourage human spirits to become like our Creator and Father (i.e. at the same 'level' as him, so he can *fully* relate to us - this being his deepest wish, because otherwise his existence is relatively 'lonely' (although I also believe that God has a wife/ consort at the same level - i.e. our Heavenly , literal - tho not concrete, Mother) - or (to put it more positively) God may wish above all to live -ever-more abundantly - by the growth of loving relationships with a growing family of increasingly grown-up children.

This is naturally a vast task, and probably one taking an extremely long time/ great deal of experience and work - and never fully completed. But that is not a bad thing! rather it is what we are destined to do and our greatest conceivable and possible satisfaction. There is no hurry about this because it is a delight every inch of the way! (well, not every inch because of the suffering, but at every stage.)

Adding that there are things which can, at least by particular spirits, only be learned in this mortal incarnate life - not least by experiencing the negative side of things and through suffering - it seems a matter of common observation that (because of our free will agency) we find some thing very difficult to learn, and indeed - in practice, and over a finite timescale - some things we simply do not learn because we refuse to learn them.

To flesh out things in relation to reincarnation - my understanding is that most pre-mortal spirits need only what can be provided by a single mortal life; and that is the norm. But some need more than one life, and are offered the chance for another or more than another mortal life (always voluntary and chosen!); while others (who are, by one definition, mortal angels) have gained what they need from mortal life but choose to return to assist in this work.

As well as being united as children of the Father Creator (and Heavenly Mother) we really are and are meant to be unique individuals with unique paths all the way up to 'full' (but never finished) divinity!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Evolution of Empathizing and Systemizing - Bruce G Charlton & Patrick Rosenkranz

In the steps of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In the middle 2000s we had three family holidays staying in Greta Hall, Keswick.

This was the house found and initially inhabited by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), and later and for longer by Robert Southey - the poet laureate and the third, least but (personally) nicest of the Lake Poets who moved up to Cumberland from their early base in Bristol and Somerset. Greta Hall was much visited by Wordsworth and other luminaries of the era - and Coleridge's (unfortunate) wife stayed here (she was Southey's sister in law) when her husaband moved back south.

Coleridge was a tormented and difficult personality, an opium addict; and a world class genius in multiple fields including poetry, philosophy and theology. His influence was remarkable - and international - considering the disorder of his life and indeed his work. Coleridge could be said to have lauched the Romantic Movement - which has never yet gone away, nor has its destiny yet been fulfilled.

The book Lyrical Ballads that he co-published with Wordsworth (who was an even greater poet - regarded as a clear third in reputation to Shakespeare and Milton in English Literature), was probably the most significant single volume of verse in the whole Western literary tradition - nothing has been the same since. He was Britain's two-way link with the academic powerhouse of Germany - and the route by which Romanticism reached the United States via RW Emerson's 'Transcendentalist' movement - amplified by the major intellectual of the next generation, Coleridge's main 'disciple' and Emerson's best friend in Britain: Thomas Carlyle.

It really is quite something to stay in Greta Hall, and to work in Coleridge's study (now containing a a vast antique Chinese bed!) 

Indeed, we are returning for another visit this summer - when I am likely to be even more receptive to the place since I am immersed in Coleridge at present - partly through reading his works (in the astonishing and marvellous Delphi collection on my Kindle e-book - a whole library of Coleridge for £1.50! - thanks to Delphi I have much of the vast canon of Eng Lit carried in my bag much of the time), but mostly as refracted through the mind of another genius, Owen Barfield - in his astonishingly-profound and intelligent book What Coleridge Thought (1971).

Friday, 29 April 2016

What if The Lord of the Rings really *had* been an allegory of World War II?

Insanity is not subtle - if you need to explain it, there is no point in explaining it

I spent a year in the 1980s working as a psychiatrist participating in the admissions rota where I would cover all the medical work necessary in a large hospital overnight or at weekends.

Quite a few of the patients were brought in by the police, by ordinary police officers - who had been called to some incident and recognized that the person involved was 'mad not bad', and so brought them in for psychiatric evaluation instead of putting them into the cells.

The police were never wrong, in my experience. The people they brought in were always crazy - it was just a matter of sorting out what kind of crazy. In other words, an ordinary policeman was able to tell when somebody was insane - it was a matter of common sense (plus relevant experience).

But now? Craziness is built-in, high status, a marker of 'goodness' - increasingly compulsory.

It is hopeless to try and explain why crazy things are crazy - if they really are crazy, then everyone knows. But apparently everyone does not know - there is a bland acceptance of the insanities of political correctness which means that we are in the position of trying to explain, argue, prove that something obviously crazy really is insane...

Of course, this is characteristic of dealing with insane people - they have no insight. That is the nature of insanity - akin to nightmares in which we accept whatever extreme craziness and illogic the dream brings, after a the merest brief twinge of puzzlement. 

Indeed, such is the extremity of the situation, that the insane people label normality as crazy. And here is a clue....

The situation has arisen and continues because in the modern West normal people are impaired. They are indeed so impaired that they cannot do what every policeman used to be able to do - which is to recognize crazy.

What is the cause of modern impairment? Well, I have argued two main causes on this blog: genetic damage - population wide mutation accumulation over the past several generations (i.e. the posts labelled 'mouse utopia'). That means that nearly everybody is ill, and lacks spontaneous instincts which used to be taken for granted. People accept insanity because they are too sick to notice or be bothered.

On top of this is secularism: the atheist assumptions of all significant public discourse in the West: the assumption that there is no God, no soul, no afterlife, no supersensible realm - no transcendental purpose, no objective universal meaning to life... and the rest of it.

The developed world is itself insane because it has deleted religion; and Man without religion is insane.

Religion (of some kind) is natural, spontaneous, built-in. All societies everywhere have always been religious (a tiny minority of atheists make no difference) - life without religion is new, uncharted territory for humans. But now a whole public world and discourse of religious understandings, interpretations, explanations - religiously framed laws - religious reasons for significant actions of the state and of individuals etc... utterly gone.

The insanity of Man without religion was not immediately obvious, because the generations overlapped, and for many decades people were brought-up on a religious basis, and only abandoned religion in adulthood. But there was a tipping point evident in the mid-1960s, and now for fifty years (two generations) the West has been ever-more-completely functionally atheist (especially considering that most mainstream self-identified Christians have such a feeble faith that it makes zero observable difference in any way; not even to the litmus test issues of sexuality).

My overall impression is that although Modern Man is genetically impaired such that his instincts are weakened and deranged; even this is not sufficient to make him lose his basic orientation and discernment when religion is strong.

A strong religious society is, substantially, antidote to the behavioural impairments of mouse utopia.

This can be seen in the most profound marker of modern decline: the sub-replacement fertility universal in the entire developed world (less than two children per average women, usually much less when new immigrants are excluded) - this is (obviously!) a short path to irreversible decline and extinction.

Yet serious religion is indeed an effective antidote to sub-fertility - even among the very craziest sub-populations (i.e. the intellectual elites).

So - when confronted by the normal everyday experience of trying to explain to insane people why something insane really is insane... take a step back. Remember that it is the basic metaphysical framework which is wrong - it is the deletion of religion from life which is crucial.

Man must have religion and there is no arguing with 'must'.

Legitimate and constructive discussion is merely concerned with the choice of which religion.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

The innocent are full of bitterness and resentment, while the worst are full of passionate intensity

There have been situations when I was attacked in the past, where I felt the attack was without justice, that I had been harmed and that I was blameless. But perhaps precisely because of my innocence, my response was self-righteous and proud. I egotistically 'took on' the opposition, and became increasingly angry and vengeful.

The question of whether such a response is 'effective' in the real world then becomes irrelevant - because one has been corrupted.

I have experienced this in myself - and I have seen it in others - many others over the years. When somebody has been genuinely wronged and they are genuinely innocent, it is a special hazard - or so it seems to me. Such people may destroy their own lives in bitterness and resentment; and are very resistant to repentance because they feel themselves so much 'in the right' and therefore regard any attempt to help them 'move on' as taking sides against them.

This is an absolute tragedy, a waste of a mortal life, when a person will not let go of his or her grievances (against a parent, spouse, nation, race, bigot or whatever). Whether or not the grievances are 'legitimate' this strikes me as one of the commonest and deepest sins among older people - even without encouragement - but of course this is a sin which is encouraged by our culture of resentment and victim groups.

Note: As CS Lewis also said somewhere, on the other side of the coin: it is a grievous thing when one's own selfish, spiteful or simply careless actions have led to this sin in others - and may well have happened without one's knowledge.

1987 memoir of Durham University, a book club, and my first contact with Charles Williams

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

General Intelligence is a Goethian Archetypal Phenomenon - a draft paper

We are worse-off than mouse utopia - because of evil leaders

Reader may recall the Mouse Utopia experiment as interpreted by Michael Woodley and myself in terms of mutation accumulation, and my crude attempt to apply this to modern Britain:

It seems ever more obvious that the mass of people in the West are behaving in ways consistent with significant genetic damage - that shows itself in terms of social and sexual maladaptation, and a kind of 'indifference' to survival trending over into self-destructive (extinction-seeking) attitudes.

The idea is a group-selectional concept (which I got from the great evolutionary theorist WD Hamilton - in the second, 2001, volume of his collected papers Narrow Roads to Gene Land) that when an animal is carrying a significant mutational load, it will cease to struggle to survive and may even allow itself to die (or seek death) because its own elimination will tend to benefit the rest of the group (e.g. by dying it will cease to consume resources, leaving more for the 'fitter' members of the species; furthermore, and more importantly, it will eliminate the mutated genes from the gene pool - this was plausibly seen in the Mouse Utopia experiment with the increasing prevalence of non-reproductive sex and solitary behaviour among the males).

But this 'self-sacrifice' for the good of the species is only useful when the 'mutated' individuals are relatively rare, and the rest of the group have 'good genes' and are low in mutations. The thesis of Mouse Utopia is that the whole population of post-Industrial Revolution countries have suffered mutation accumulation (mostly due to the near elimination of intrauterine and childhood mortality which used to run at more than half of conceptions) for periods that vary between maybe seven to ten generations - going back into the 1700s in England for the upper classes to a few generations less for the lower classes (because there was a lag before the lower classes benefitted from the decline in mortality rates).

However, when the mutated individuals make up the majority, or indeed the entire population, then this indifferent, passive, extinction-accepting/ seeking attitude becomes near-universal - as we see today.

Clearly the parallels between mice and men cannot be assumed! - nonetheless, this may not favour men. Things are worse in modern Britain (and the West generally) than in the Mouse Utopia experiment in at least three respects:

1. The mice were cleaned and provisioned by the lab workers, so did not have to care for themselves;

2. The mice were protected from predators and colonizers - which they would have certainly been unwilling to resist;

3. The experimenters were benign and did not take advantage of the situation.

But in The West, including Britain, we do not have these advantages - we have to provision ourselves, we are unprotected from predators  and colonizers and our ruling elites have an aggressive attitude that aims to encourage extinction and to seek and suppress any remaining adaptive and self-preserving behaviours.

So while Mouse Utopia did not reach extinction for several mouse generations even after reproduction ended altogether, because the last of the sheltered and pampered mice lived long (and passive!) lives - the timescale to elimination, in terms of human generations, would presumably be much shorter for the modern West.

It might be assumed that men had an advantage over mice in being able to understand what is going on, and do something about it - however, in practice, this is not the case; and it seems we will stumble to our demise just as ignorant of its causes as if we were mice.

Added clarification: Our ruling elites are not evil due to being genetically damaged by mutation accummulation - that does not make people evil, but merely diseased, biologically un-fit; instead our leadership class are (on the whole) evil because they have chosen to serve evil - in other words, chosen purposively to destroy that which is good.

(Note: Acknowledgment is due to Michael Woodley for ideas included above which he described and we developed in conversation yesterday.)

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The modern desperate need for utopia (and Heaven)

It strikes me that one great appeal of the best (from my perspective the best!) fantasy novels, is their depiction of utopia in the sense of not an ideal but a 'good' society - and that this is a thing which is otherwise almost wholly lacking in modern culture.

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings has an unmatched range of good, believable and powerful appealing societies: The Shire, Tom Bombadil's little world, Bree, Rivendell, Lothlorien, Rohan, Minas Tirith - take your pick!

Lesser fantasy fails to provide any such vision of the good life (and is praised by mainstream literary critics for this lack - which they assert, from their nihilistic and purposively-destructive roots, makes it 'dark', 'edgy', 'realistic' and 'subversive' - the ultimate accolade of those who are ultimately motivated by despair and hatred) - and therefore cannot provide what we so desperately need.

Because utopia is a selective microcosm of Heaven, and Heaven is necessary for Hope - and Hope is a necessity for the good life.

What I would love to see is believable and realistic descriptions, creative depictions and speculative discussions on the subject of Heaven; and perhaps fantasy is the best vehicle for this at present.

Heaven has become (and not merely by accident - but also by purpose) unimaginable to modern man. Thus Heaven has become ineffectual: it must therefore be made imaginable, we need actively to imagine Heaven, and to engage with this imagination.

The Inklings and writers' groups - a review of Glyer's 'Bandersnatch'

Monday, 25 April 2016

A critique of Rudolf Steiner's early work on Goethe's philosophical perspective

The cosmic, objective Christ (a thought experiment)

Imagine that we knew nothing about Christ - that his life had been obscure, that there had been no gospels, that all evidence and memory of him had been lost.

Would the existence of Jesus then have any value?

Yes - because the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was of objective, cosmic significance - even if nobody alive knew anything about it!

In other words, Christ achieved at least two things which have permanent and universal value even if we know nothing about them: he took away the sins of the world; and he made it so that when every person dies he or she will be resurrected.

Those who knew or currently know nothing of Christ during mortal life, will be made aware of these true facts after their death; and will face a decision and judgment about whether they accept Christ's offer of salvation.

This is simply a fact of reality, independent of human knowledge, belief or experience. This is the cosmic, objective significance of Christ.*

*There is, of course, a lot more to Christ than this! But this much is given.