Wednesday, 31 December 2014

On NOT understanding the 2008 economic 'crash'

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More than six years have elapsed since 'something' happened in the world economy - but what it was, and what its significance was, I am less clear than I supposedly was then - Now I don't believe anybody at all knows (even if plenty think they know), and I don't really trust anybody on the inside to tell me even of what they do know!

What I personally know, from observation and experience, is that nothing useful at all has been learned from 2008.

Or if it has been learned, then it has not been acted-upon. Because absolutely nothing constructive has been done - and many, many anti-economic, anti-productive things have instead been done; and therefore I am sure that economically things now are in reality much worse than they were in 2008.

What I strongly suspect is that politicians in the West have learned multiple ways of invisibly inflating the currency and covertly stealing from the savings of their productive populace - by combinations of borrowing, printing money, and stealth taxes.

And this wholesale secret theft is incrementally increasing year on year to subsidise what are clearly massive (multi-million) expansions in the numbers of barely-productive and non-productive population who have luxurious standards of living; and in general to create a facade of fake prosperity based on confiscation/ borrowing-fuelled bribery, corruption and subsidy.

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The year 1800 - the Beginning of the End (Times)

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1800 was when people began to notice that the world had changed - first in England, Scotland, Wales - then rapidly visible through Western and Central Europe and the United States.

It was the industrial revolution, it was modernity - the escalation of functional specialization in social functions; within a generation it was the permanent and progressive rise of secularism, nationalism, leftism, and the occasional temporary secular backlashes against leftism.

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1800 was the inflection point for human biology - when birth rates (fertility) progressively became more important in population growth than death rates (mortality) - when the demographic transition began to sweep across the world, with self-suppression of fertility lower and lower, until from the 1960s it became sub-replacement.

Productivity of food and other essentials grew; trade and communications expanded in scope and speed; public health and medicine made breakthroughs upon breakthroughs which were implemented...

World population began to increase more rapidly up to seven-fold the 1800 level, and is still rising - with perhaps another 20plus additional percent to be born (whether or not they live); as the modernized world intervened in the un-modernized world to reduce mortality while fertility remains sustained above replacement.

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In Christian terms, 1800 was the point when it became clearer and clearer that the end times had begun; the latter days.

And about 1800 was when Joseph Smith the Mormon prophet was born, and by 1830 the Book of Mormon had been discovered and translated, and the CJCLDS organized as a sign of arrival of the latter days; and the Mormon church has since waxed in size and devoutness and range of influence as mainstream Christianity has waned - a glowing beacon in these ever-more-gloomy times.

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Of course, human free will, agency, continues to operate (at least, it operates wherever humans 'believe in' it, and do not deny its reality). So destiny is fixed - and God works to ensure that all will turn-out as prophesied; but the time-scale and specifics are not fixed - and the end times can be delayed, and even temporarily reversed, by human choices and actions.

Yet, in these times constraints are established and grow, certain possibilities dwindle and die, the mass suffers decline - the consequent features have been described and can be observed: they are indeed overwhelming in a worldly sense.  

But not overwhelming of our souls - unless we choose to allow to accept them as such.

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For each of us as individuals, these tidal civilizational changes must be regarded as temporary and transitional; in the context of hope for, and expectation of, an eternal life of happiness.

And this eternal happiness will, if we let it, spill-over and back into this earthly mortal life - to encourage and heal and maintain courage.

So we live in a Mouse Utopia of declining fitness and capability, of existential exhaustion seen in an ageing, cowardly, hedonistic society characterized by declining marriage, near zero children, and endemic corruption, distraction and dishonesty.

All this must be recognized and repented. But that is not the whole story. For those who make the choice to accept it; there is courage, faith, hope and love germinating, growing and thriving here-and-there, even among the darkening ruins.

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Genius promotes group cohesion (mostly)

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/how-is-genius-useful.html
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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Fairly-recent and worthwhile additions to my diet - not available when I was a child

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Pink seedless grapes. Seasonally available - but by far the best grapes I have ever had. (These still aren't available in Spain.)

Macadamia nuts - (rather an infrequent item) not like other nuts in terms of texture, and a valuable addition to mixed nut combos.

Tomatoes sold 'on the vine' - this has improved the flavour of my favourite 'vegetable'.

Kiwi fruit - again not something I have terribly often, but they are significantly different from anything else, and I am glad they are available. 

Filtered milk - eg Cravendale. This one is important. I drink a lot of milk; and this is far better - as well as more reliable and less likely to be semi-rancid - than anything I ever had as a child. 

Sausages - are so much improved compared with the low-meat/ high cereal/ high-gristle-content things of my childhood (all that was then available) as to be almost like a different food.

But not everything has changed - for example a major part of my current diet still includes peanut butter, mature cheddar cheese, and Shreddies.

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Monday, 29 December 2014

Genius is a DWEM thing: which is why modern elites deny its reality, its importance, its heterogeneous distribution, its decline

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/genius-is-dwem-kind-of-thing-hence-its.html
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The psychology of abstract suicide deriving from secular altruism - the 'hypocrisy' of Western elites is a necessary consequence of self-destructive policies pursued by cowardly and short-termist people

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While The West as a culture is clearly suicidal - and suicidal in a long-term, planned and strategic manner - it is interesting to analyse how this arises as an indirect consequence of altruism being the greatest Good, the highest-valued virtue in a secular Leftist society.

While pretty-much all of the other (one-sided and partial) virtues of The Left have by now been discarded, altruism - favouring others above oneself - remains as the ultimate.

And, in a secular context, where reality lacks any objective basis, altruism becomes necessarily subjective and relativistic - which means that altruism has become, in practice, defined in terms of the effect on 'me'.

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Since in secular modernity there is no objective concept of doing Good - Good has been reduced to pleasure, and pleasure cannot be measured or quantified in other people - so 'doing Good to others' has been redefined as 'doing harm to myself'.

In a modern, 'relativist' context, without God; instead of doing-good to others; secular Left altruism is redefined as doing-harm to myself.

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Modern political altruism is therefore a mass, cumulative consequence of the ethic of 'doing harm to myself' but refracted through human short-termism and cowardice.

That is, a modern secular Leftist sets-out to harm himself - but is thwarted by his own cowardly short-termism, and he ends-up doing harm to other people similar to himself.

He tries to help 'the other' by hurting himself, ultimately by killing himself - but lacks the moral resources to implement his plan on himself - and therefore (guiltily, but effectively) expends great effort and ingenuity personally to avoid the consequences of his own advocated policies.

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Because secular modernity has rejected religion, specifically Christianity, then it has no basis for educating, supporting or enforcing the full range of Christian virtues including courage and prudence - and modern culture is notably cowardly and impulsive (short-termist).

So the most moral modern secular people want to be good by being altruistic, and can only understand altruism to be what harms themselves - but they lack the courage, self-discipline and long-termism actually to implement this morality upon themselves personally.

Therefore, modern secular Leftist morality advocates an abstract form of self-harm - in which the advocate can (in a cowardly and short-termist fashion) work towards self-harm and suicide (which he regards as 'altruism') yet in practice to do his utmost to avoid these bad consequences falling upon himself, now.

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The typical moralistic Leftist therefore advocates policies which harm other people like himself now - and finds excuses (or just feels guilty - 'liberal guilt') for the fact that his own position remains insulated from these bad consequences, in the short term.

The typical moralistic Leftist therefore has policies against his own interests - his sex, class, race, social situation - but in practice exempts himself as much as possible from these bad consequences, because he is a short-termist coward who lacks the real Christian basis to be anything else.

So we see strategic, abstract 'class warriors' who in practice accept knighthoods and peerages; strategic abstract egalitarians who are the ultra-rich; those who in principle argue in favour of high taxes, yet avoid paying them; white family men who occupy high status jobs but who argue that blacks, women and those of unconventional sexuality should ideally occupy such jobs; those who favour population replacement by mass immigration in the West elaborately cocooning themselves from the social destruction and suffering this brings; those who strategically and abstractly crusade against 'private' schools and health care (i.e. against the possibility of going outside state-controlled provision) yet avail themselves of its advantages; those who advocate a 'small carbon footprint' yet who travel everywhere by private jets and dwell in vast and wasteful mansions - and so on and on and on through all the other gross hypocrisies of the Left.

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It is indeed absolutely normal and inevitable for the powerful Left elites to invent ever-more new pseudo-moral policies which are imposed by ever-more laws, taxes, subsidies, regulations and mass media propaganda at an international, national, local and institutional level - yet themselves, personally to evade the ethics they themselves have invented as much as they possibly can.

What seems like hypocrisy is simply moral weakness operating in a context of a self-destroying ethic; secular Leftist altruists believe-in suicide - that is, they believe in the self-destruction of people-like-themselves, but - precisely because they are secular, hence relativists/nihilists - they have no basis for all-round virtue, so they do their utmost to squirm-out-of the consequences of their own policies.

They have enough moral strength for only one virtue, thus any Good which may come from the pursuit of that single virtue is undone and more, by the failure to pursue other virtues and by the unrecognised, denied and unrestrained evils out-with the one-eyed pursuit of altruism.

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'The personal is political' means, in practice, that politics is for 'other people', for the general good, for abstract altruism; but not for me.

For such reasons, pursuit of any single virtue always leads to great sin: monomania is always net-destructive of Good.

In secular modernity, the monomania is for altruism - altruism redefined in the only way that secular modernity can recognize. 

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Sunday, 28 December 2014

The West cannot be saved, because it wants to die; but persons can be saved, and their lives transformed into joy

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The West cannot be saved, because it is secular.

And because The West has no religion, there is essentially nothing to save.


The West has no essence, is merely contingent - just a time-slice through an always-changing, self-subverting, and continually-inverted aggregation of attitudes, beliefs and practices. 

So culturally, the West is purposefully, strategically destroying itself - always, as a continuous process. 

And biologically The West is destroying itself: by choice the Western population have long since ceased to replace themselves; by strategy it is replacing its own population - and from existential terror (and deliberate wicked intent) this whole subject is taboo, denied, lied-about. 

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The West is not even trying to save itself; indeed The West has self-destruction built-in, woven-in, pervasive.

How can you save something which so much wants to kill itself? Something which regards every effort to keep it alive as an aggressive act of torture


Take your eye off Western Civilization for just a moment and it will be swinging from the rafters with its own belt around its neck...

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/should-western-civilization-be-saved.html

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So long as The West has no religion, it cannot be saved; and there is only one possible religion for The West: Christianity. A Christian revival is the only hope. But there is no sign of this happening - all the large mainstream self-identified Christian denominations are primarily secular, hence are well down the path of killing themselves (where they are not already long-since dead).

Only (real) Christians can perceive this clearly; so what should Christians do? 

The choice is either a greater focus on politics and policies, on laws and society, on constitutions and systems... As our numbers and power ever-diminish, to argue harder and harder to reverse the juggernaut of secularism who have near-zero interest and knowledge of Christianity, but ever greater hostility towards what they suppose it to be?...

Or to switch attention away from politics altogether - to ignore the adverse oceanic tides of mass secular movements, and the corruption and dishonesty of most churches leaders, and instead to focus attention on bringing the message to persons, one individual at a time?

To be always fighting-against (and net losing), or to be positive for (and sometimes winning)?     

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If we focus on the big picture - then being a Christian in The West is to be a miserable failure; but, if we focus on the person, then to be a Christian is to experience a deep and mostly hidden well-spring of courage, love, hope, meaning, purpose, belonging - secretly to be gloriously happy despite whatever happens on the surface.

It is impossible to exaggerate the difference that this makes to me, and to every Christian; it is an almost exact inversion of what it was not to be a Christian - when every pleasure was potentially available, nothing was forbidden - but never hope, never happiness.

The secular modern is afraid to probe too deeply, because he is sure there is nothing underneath - all is surface. He is afraid to look ahead, because he has decided that will be nothing there. To him, all human lives are failures because they end in decline, suffering, and death - biography is tragedy (either unfulfilled promise or the disappointment of all desire).

His strongest principles are without foundations - and therefore will almost certainly be discarded when they become inexpedient, or even if they are not discarded then this will be an arbitrary gesture. His most profound yearnings can only be fulfilled in imagination - which is to say they will not be fulfilled, and are delusions.

He sees Christians as torturers because they talk of eternal life, and of the disciplined and constrained path which leads to it - and for modern man that means snatching away the pleasures which are all that make life bearable, and the hope of extinction which is all that makes life endurable.

For such a man, life equals 'existence'; eternal life equals eternal torment.

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As Christians, we may be able to save someone, or more than one person, from this horrible existence; and the benefits are not deferred, not only after life and in eternity - but immediate, in this life, here and now and straight away.

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Our resources are finite, our effort and enthusiasm requires realistic grounds for optimism.

Therefore, let's stop monitoring and trying to turn-back the civilisational tsunami of secular nihilism - but ourselves drowning in pessimism.

And instead adopt the positive, optimistic, realistic goal of saving a few people: saving them into invincible joy.

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Saturday, 27 December 2014

More on Arthur and Avalon

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Continuing from

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/supposing-king-arthur-really-was-buried.html

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When considering ancient written sources, including scripture, the modern emphasis is to assume the null hypothesis that if they are 'wrong' (i.e. factually inconsistent with other sources) in one respect, then they are 'unreliable' hence should be ignored.

Well, this is one assumption; but it is likely that ancient writers - who were mostly religious men, mostly apparently deeply religious men, for whom writing was a semi-sacred activity - were more truthful than modern historians - who are essentially just clever careerists.

More truth-full - but truthful in that way which is natural and spontaneous to humans - and in a way that is different from the post-religious and pseudo-scientific idea of truth which has dominated the West for recent generations.

The truth they are attempting to convey is the essence of the story, not the specific details.

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This is not an un-sophisticated way of writing - it is indeed perhaps more sophisticated than modern culture, in the sense that Chaucer is more sophisticated a writer than anyone alive; and everything which Chaucer wrote which can be checked against other sources shows many changes of detail - deletion, expansion, new material etc.

But it is likely that we modern reader lack the training and skill to read this kind of writing as it was read at the time - and we probably miss the truth of it: miss that which was most important to Chaucer's contemporaries.

(CS Lewis remarks that the interlace method of composition, so popular in the high Middle Ages and extending to Spenser's Fairie Queen, was popular for centuries - yet is generally too difficult for modern people to follow: we cannot hold the structure in our heads, nor recognise the logic of it. There are likely to be many other examples.)

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When an ancient writer is being truthful in a 'literal' sense - or the nearest equivalent, then he simply copies, or he memorizes word for word (or as closely as humanly possible, under the circumstances) - this is how certain specific prophecies or ancient laws are transmitted. They may be cast into a song or chant, then repeated and repeated until learned by heart.

When transmitted in this fashion, there is often inconsistency within and between texts - because the focus is on the specifics and not the generalizability.

Think about proverbs or maxims. These are traditional ways of transmitting advice, rules for living - all are accepted as true (none are denied or dismissed); yet maxims often (apparently) contradict each other; and the wisdom is in knowing which one to apply in a particular circumstance. 

This is demonstrated in the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien (who knew allabout these things) when the Fellowship is about to set out, and Elrond and Gimli engage in a 'battle of proverbs' (as Michael Drout calls it). Elrond says that no member of the company (except Frodo) is required to go all the way to Mount Doom. Gimli dissents, and replies with the proverb "Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens"; to which Elrond replies "Let him not vow to walk in the dark who has not seen the nightfall"; Gimli: "Yet strong word may strengthen quaking heart"; "Or break it" - finishes Elrond.

This shows that all traditional wisdom is regarded as true (nobody wise denies the validity of a proverb) 'despite' that proverbs superficially contradict one another.

This should also be assumed to be the case with pre-modern textual evidence, properly understood (unless deliberate dishonesty is being attributed - and this should be regarded as less - not more - likely than in modern scholarship).

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So, when we read something like Geoffrey of Monmouth's - History of the Kings of Britain - we should not consider it invalidated by the inconsistencies with other sources; rather, we need to try and read it such that we are aware of different genres at work within the piece and being alert to those moments when the truth is being given...

Rather as the Bible must be read as containing many genres such as (what we moderns would refer to as) history, poetic songs, mythic stories, parables, fables, philosophy, guides for living, maxims,  and so on - rather than read 'literalistically' as if it were wholly an instruction manual on a sentence by sentence basis (and therefore full of inconsistencies).

As it is, the small, clear, clockwork minds of modern secular scholarship confidently reads their ignorance and lack of sophistication into ancient works, and into the evaluation of ancient works; insensibly and uncritically - yet dogmatically; accepting its own arbitrary and self-imposed exclusions and over-simplifications as necessarily correct; such that the truth and validity of ancient writing is summarily rejected - and its wisdom and reality is hidden and/or condescended to.

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And this only refers to written sources, and to those written sources which survive.

The spoken, 'oral', sources may be lost entirely or mostly, especially secret knowledge; and most importantly the tacit knowledge of the skilled crafts (or 'mysteries' as they were called - as in the 'mystery plays' performed by the guilds) - which can only be handed on by prolonged contract between master to apprentice... these are left out if we focus on surviving written texts interpreted by the latest fashions in secular (careerist) academia.

Thus, things which were crystal clear to the masters of the past are utterly obscure to modern professional historians and other 'scholars'; and - this being the problem- are 'therefore' vehemently and scornfully rejected by moderns.

As someone who was apprenticed in the guild of the ancient mystery of Medicine and also in Science, I have seen this modern cynicism prevail. Many things of great importance that were once very clear and obvious - things clear and obvious (clear and obvious, that is, to one of adequate knowledge and skill - one who has been apprenticed for many years and has learned from his masters) are now routinely (and indeed compulsorily, in the law courts) utterly denied, and re-framed as the product of socialization/ brainwashing.

Ignorance, lack of skill, lack of relevant knowledge; the dumb, numb, overconfidence of the man who knows just one thing (e.g. statistics) - such deficits and deficiencies are now dominant; because their perspective is easily explained to the majority of equally dumb, arrogant idiots; and easily rendered into formulae and rules that can be 'objectively' (but without rationale) be monitored and enforced.

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To get back to Arthur - anyone who wants to know for himself the truth about Arthur, or Merlin, can never find it using the mentally-maiming conventions of modern secular scholarship - and would need to learn a very different way of reading and thinking about ancient sources than is enforced now.

And therefore he would be well-advised either to keep his discoveries/ inferences to himself - or else to refrain from arguing within the current conventions of career-effective academia - to frame those discoveries in another genre: story, song, poem, fable, parable...

Because, whatever is (if it is to be found) the true and necessary and valuable meaning of Arthur and Merlin and the rest; this truth (and it is a truth) is something or some-things excluded a priori by the methods of modern history, archaeology, textual scholarship.

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Friday, 26 December 2014

Supposing King Arthur really *was* buried at Glastonbury?

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So far as I can tell, modern historians and neo-pagans seem united in regarding the 1191 discovery at Glastonbury Abbey of King Arthur and Guinevere's tomb as a fraud.

But the evidence that it is a fraud is itself very tenuous - and the matter in reality hinges upon prejudice applied to what would seem to be inevitable minor discrepancies in the scanty records.

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Modern historians and neo-pagans are mostly very different people, but they are united in prejudice against the medieval monks; and effortlessly assume that they fabricated the whole discovery for cynical and materialistic reasons.

On the other hand, if we assume the Abbot and monks were honest and true (but fallible), then it is reasonable to assume that they did indeed discover Arthur's tomb; and certainly that is what everybody believed for the next few hundred years during which Glastonbury grew to become one of the largest, finest most visited Abbeys in Britain, with a magnificent library.

When the Religious Houses were robbed and destroyed by Henry VIII, Glastonbury Abbey and its monks were treated with exceptional brutality, and the place was looted by the authorities and then the locals who benefited from robbing the sites for a considerable time.

Along with the library, Arthur's tomb, which has been the centrepiece of the Abbey, disappeared (apparently) without trace. Somerset became strongly anti-Catholic - and since the early twentieth century the town of Glastonbury has been dominated by a socialistic, neo-pagan, Gnostic, syncretic - in a word 'anti-Christian' - sensibility.

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But suppose that Arthur's tomb really was discovered and restored and revered in Glastonbury Abbey - that leads to a rather different narrative than the usual one; and one that is far less flattering to the post-Catholic authorities and Somerset locals.

If we were prejudiced in favour of Medieval Catholicism and the Abbey, rather than the modern Leftist establishment and post-modern New Age 'counterculture'; then we might see Glastonbury and its history as a horribly cynical example of victim-blaming - in which vilification of the monks was used to justify murder, wrecking and looting; and history was re-written from the perspective of these self-serving lies.

Modern Glastonbury would then be the degraded consequences of the systematic destruction of ancient, legendary Britain - including her most potent hero, Arthur - and the severing of our magical and mythic links with that era; while falsely posing as a continuation of the very same legendary tradition which it in reality destroyed

If we add to this, the that the legend that Glastonbury (by Joseph of Arimithea) was actually the very first Western Christian community was also true - then the whole story takes on an epic and tragic form.

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So much hinges on our interpretation of that 1191 discovery of Arthur's tomb. If it was not the fraud, that 'everyone' now believes it to be - if it was real; then an extraordinary 'alternative history' opens back onto a lost inheritance of mythic history.

The matter of Britain, and her once and future destiny, take on a very different complexion.

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

What was then (and is now) convincing about the truth and reality of Jesus Christ?

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Then and now are different.

Then (not a complete list):

1. Prophecy - that Jesus was (had a strong claim to being) the heir to the throne of King David, King of Israel - this was the predicted lineage of the Messiah (sent by God).

2. The miracles- especially raising of the dead. This implied supernatural power.

3. The endorsement of John the Baptist - regarded as the holiest man alive.

4. The charisma, personal authority, intelligence and learning of Jesus himself.

5. His resurrection. 

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Now (again not a complete list):

1. Personal revelation/ being born again - an intuitive conviction.

2. Tradition, historical evidence (including historical evidence of the above five listed factors)

3. The (only) complex, complete and coherent theology/ philosophy.

4. The societal fruits of Christianity, the socio-political consequences of the faith; or, negatively, what has happened when Christianity has been abandoned - the fruits of apostasy.

5. The psychological fruits of Christianity - the personal consequences of the 'experiment' of Christian belief and living (or, negatively, the personal results of abandoning faith, Christian morals etc).

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So the situation, the evidence, then versus now differs almost completely.

But the basic human condition remains: Christianity is a choice.

There is substantial evidence in favour, but the positive evidence all has deficiencies and limitations, and can always all be subjected to critique and questions; and there is also evidence against - therefore, as always, the situation is not conclusive or compelling in either direction.

Then and now, a choice must be made, a commitment is required.

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Happy Christmas to all my readers

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Thank you for reading, thank you for your comments, and thank you for tolerating my unpredictable yet inflexible censoring and editing of comments.




If you don't already know Tolkien's Father Christmas Letters, then you are in for a treat next year.

http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/review-of-father-christmas-letters.html

http://wayneandchristina.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/the-father-christmas-letters-4/

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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Why do people revere god/s? Three reasons to revere a god who is *not* defined as an omni-god

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Not all of the following need or should apply in any particular instance.

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1. Power

Historically, this must surely have been the main reason. A god is worshiped because he or she is powerful; not to worship might cause punishment, to worship may be rewarded.

A powerful god need not be good, but might indeed be evil. So, worship of power is not 'good' but rather expedient.

This is much the same psychological mechanism as applies to attitudes to a Chief, King or Emperor.

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2. Parent

A god may be reverenced because he is Father or she is Mother - either personally and/or to the group, the nation. God is our creator; such a god made us Men.

The reverence of a parent is natural, spontaneous; and that this reverence is a good thing has been implanted into us (although it can, of course, be over-ridden by other factors.)

Love between parent and child can be regarded as good if we assume that its goodness comes from the goodness of god - otherwise it is just a contingent by-product of natural selection.

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3. Creator of all things

A god may be revered because he created not only us as persons, but also the world we inhabit.

Such reverence is based on gratitude - what is has been made, was made by God and 'given' to us.

The concept of creation implies that god made things as they are, made them into what they are - it does not imply they were made from nothing. Indeed, creation is spontaneously understood as an act of shaping and forming pre-existent 'stuff'.

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4. By rational necessity

This is the philosophical doctrine that god is necessary, and that therefore (by a chain of reasoning) it is necessary to worship god.

Not to worship god is regarded as a product of ignorance or confusion. Not to worship god is regarded as not-so-much evil as illogical.

This is associated with the omni concept of God who can do anything rational and is outside time and space: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent; and who created everything from nothing.

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Personally, I revere God because of 1, 2 and 3 - but not 4.

The point is that there are still at least three reasons to revere/ worship, be grateful to a god - even when the validity of an omni-god is denied.

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JRR Tolkien was more creative while CS Lewis was more intelligent... comparing the two friends

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/tolkien-was-more-creative-lewis-was.html
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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

William Arkle - Colin Wilson - William Arkle. The wheel comes full circle

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Just over a year ago, Colin Wilson died -

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/colin-wilson-has-died-1931-2013.html

This led me to think back on how I had discovered him, which led me to look again at the work of William Arkle since it was the Foreword to Arkle's book which led me to Wilson's The Outsider, and then on to dozens of other books (including The Craft of the Novel, which provided the structure of my MA-by-research thesis in English literature).

Since last year, I have read again many of Wilson's books, including the excellent Spider World scifi series for bedtime read-aloud purposes, and also filled-in some gaps, by reading for the first time books of Wilson's that were new to me.

And I also re-engaged with Arkle for the first time since I became a Christian; to discover he provided some things that were very helpful to my Christian life - in particular, Arkle has swiftly become my number one 'go-to' author to get-me-out-of moods of spiritual depression, to get me re-orientated with basic things.

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But whereas in the past I regarded Arkle (when I thought of him, which was seldom) primarily as a Wilsonian - as 'contained-within' Wilson's ideas, and an amplification of certain aspects of them - I would now regard Arkle as having provided what was potentially (and should have been in actuality) the foundation and completion of Wilson's ideas.

Because Colin Wilson - despite many and enlightening insights - never achieved a cohesive metaphysical system or synthesis; never provided something upon-which you could base your life - which would provide meaning, motivation, purpose; a basis for the transcendental goods of truth, beauty and virtue;  a basis for human relationship and each person's relationship with reality.

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From the beginning to the end of his writing career, Wilson was at root a 'a seeker' and a commentator on the work of others. It seems he was prevented from achieving a synthesis by a rejection of religion as 'the answer' (explained in his second book Religion and the Rebel of 1957).

Indeed, Colin Wilson was trying to create something that did the work of a religion, yet was not itself a religion - something which did not require 'faith'. He failed, as all others who attempted this have failed, simply because this is impossible, paradoxical.

What Wilson needed was to embed his own work within a larger religious framework; and this was exactly what Arkle did - Arkle's work was presented as a way of understanding Christianity.

If Wilson had better understood his friend William Arkle, understood Arkle less selectively and more fully; and had taken Arkle more seriously in his own right (and not merely as someone who exemplified and amplified Wilson's own concerns) - then this might have provided Colin Wilson with the crucial piece missing from the vast jigsaw of his philosophical reflections.

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So now the wheel has come full circle for me: I began with Arkle as my prime (albeit brief and shallow) interest; took a 35 year arc of diversion through the vast productivity of Wilson as being regarded as more basic than Arkle - as 'containing' Arkle; and now find I have returned to regard Arkle as more fundamental than Wilson: with Wilson resting-upon the metaphysics of Arkle (which itself rests-upon Christian scripture).

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The genius of Isaac Newton - exemplifies the Creative Triad

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/isaac-newton-as-archetypal-creative.html
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Monday, 22 December 2014

Why intuition is characteristic of creative genius

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/what-is-intuition-mode-of-thought.html
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Shakespeare, Milton and the King James Bible?

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Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespear and Milton and The Bible; and dont sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.

Henry Higgins speaking to Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

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Shakespeare: yes, of course, and pretty much maintained in England now.

Milton: no, does not deserve this place. Indeed nobody else is in the class of Shakespeare and the Authorized Version of the Bible.

But if a third name is needed then Johnson is the most deserving - Samuel Johnson - who bestrides English letters as a colossus: author of the first real dictionary, the first real critic, arbiter of good taste and morality; and writer of many first rank personal essays, anthology-quality poems, and a novel of high class. And a permanently-influential prose stylist of magisterial distinction.

But the King James Bible is the only prose (if we include with it that other Anglican classic The Book of Common Prayer) that can stand comparison with Shakespeare; as acknowledged even by GB Shaw (who was a communist, Irish, and an atheist); but the KJB has been rejected and abandoned by all of the larger (so-called) English churches.

I am happy to state that it is indeed possible to be English and a real Christian and yet to reject the Authorized Version of the Bible as the basis of your Christian scriptural life^ - but would add that such a person has something seriously wrong with him.

Either he is ignorant (and in need of education) or else he is making a large error of judgment.

So, for someone who is both a Christian and English: the Triad should be Shakespeare, Johnson and the Bible - but the greatest of these in The Authorized Version.

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^Note: The AV should be the basis of an English Christian life - but need not, of course, be the sole translation used. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Jesus Christ is our Saviour. But saviour from what?

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Christians call Jesus Christ "our saviour", or simply The Saviour - but it is not clear to secular modern people what we mean by this; indeed, I believe that the meaning (or emphasis) has changed over the centuries, because Christ did not save us from just one bad fate; but from many, many bad things - and different people at different times feel themselves in need of different savings: so that what I understand Christ as saving-me-from may not be your understanding.

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At the time of his ministry and for many centuries, Christ was understood as saving us from death; and by 'death' people meant that the soul would usually endure in a (literally) nightmarish underworld (Sheol, Hades etc) where we would persist forever as demented, gibbering, desolate ghosts.

In effect, death meant death of 'the self' - death of consciousness and the will - but not an end to existence.

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Christ was also saving us from sin; and it seems clear that through most of history Men felt this to be necessary: felt that we absolutely needed to be saved from our sins; and that if we were not saved from our sins, then we would be tormented by them forever. 

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But modern Western Man does not feel himself in need of saving from death - because he regards death as extinction and therefore the end of suffering (not death as the doorway to endless suffering, as in the past).

And modern Man does not feel he needs to be saved from sin, because he regards 'sin' as an arbitrary cultural category - and Modern Man has redefined many sins as virtues, virtues as sins.

So in effect, Modern Man 'saves himself' from sin by promoting, enforcing, and believing, legislation and propaganda to abolish any sin he cannot stop or does not wish to stop; and making new sins from whatever threatens the continuation of this process.

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But Modern Man still needs to be saved - he needs to be saved from meaninglessness, purposelessness, existential isolation, alienation, and nihilism (the sense that all truth, beauty and virtue are 'relative'; that values are 'subjective', that nothing is really-real).

Modern Man needs to be saved from the retrospective pall cast by the meaning-destroying pseudo-reality of death-as-extinction; and the nothingness of a world where profundity is repeatedly dissolved and remade, and where Man is become a mere conduit for ever-changing psychological manipulations.

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Another thing Man always has needed saving-from is suffering; the suffering of this world.

And Christ saves us from this suffering in two ways, at two levels. In the first place he offers a significant, albeit partial, alleviation of suffering in this world - mainly by putting suffering into a perspective of eternal hope.

An analogy would be the suffering of childbirth. Childbirth can be agony: in a purely physical sense childbirth may be as painful as torture - but the suffering is put in the perspective of a parent participating in the birth of a child and this makes a very big difference. Indeed, the perspective utterly transforms the meaning of pain, and drastically reduces the suffering.

And secondly, the long-term effect of suffering is likewise transformed by Christ - because there is the prospect of complete healing from all the ill effects of suffering at the resurrection.

So all earthly sufferings are re-framed by Christ as temporary.

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Christ is still our Saviour, as before; but now Christ is perhaps primarily (upfront) most-often our saviour from the void.

Christ is now, mostly, our saviour from the denied but pervasive existential terror that nothing really matters.

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With salvation it is not a matter of either/ or; but a matter of all-this-and-more.

Because death, sin, suffering and alienation are all facets of the same evil fate - therefore Christ is The Saviour.

However, maybe when we state this great truth to non-Christians, we need to consider what they personally most need saving-from.

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Great yearning nobility: Bach - Busoni - Ogdon

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This is one of my very favourite pieces of music - the Chaconne movement from JS Bach's Violin Partita number 2 in D minor (certainly one of the finest things he ever wrote) - transcribed for piano by the titanic  perfomer-composer-intellectual Ferruccio Busoni - and played by England's best-ever pianist John Ogdon (1937-1989). 

This recording, then, is greatness multiplied, concentrated and captured on tape. It evokes in me a state of mounting yearning, growing but never quite satisfied - because pointing - with surety - beyond any possible experience of this world.

Starts at 01:01: 17 (1 hour, 1 minute, 17 seconds)


Saturday, 20 December 2014

For those who are kept from Christianity by uncertainty, by unsureness

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If my own experience as an atheist and agnostic is generalisable, many modern people find themselves stuck in a mid-ground - profoundly dissatisfied with the mainstream secular world view yet unable to believe Christianity because - by secular evaluative criteria - it seems arbitrary, uncertain and conflicted.

They are mentally paralysed by question upon question about the validity of Christianity, and even the definition of Christianity - life is full of questions and each answer merely leads to more questions!

They know that 'faith' is necessary; but this seems in the first place arbitrary, secondly, dishonest, and thirdly they are pre-convinced that it would be ineffective, since to know that everything depends on faith is itself eroding of faith!

So they are stuck - neither one thing nor the other.

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Some suggestions:

You have a false and misleading model of how certainty and sureness is achieved. You have some notion that certainty is a product of logic and science - yet if you think further you will know that science is never certain and logic is controversial and errs (professional science and philosophy have been for centuries in a flux of change, at times overturning even the fundamental assumptions).

So it never has been and never will be possible to base you life on that kind of empirical/ rational certainty - it has never existed.

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Social institutions - including churches - are human institutions, prone to error, prone to corruption.

The modern secular public realm is very obviously dishonest, manipulative, destructive - in a word evil. So, no help can be expected from them - but rather hindrance and subversion - from everyday human social interactions, and from the mass media, and from the official communications of social organisations such as government, law, education, health services, the police and military...

However, the mainstream Christian churches are also deeply implicated in this generalised corruption and destructiveness of modernity.

So the churches in general cannot be trusted, and the individual people who represent the churches cannot be trusted - and anyway, trust in any specific Christian church or person can only come after Christian faith, and not before it.

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So, there is only one place on which certainty may be built, and from which certainty can be extended - and that is your own fundamental, innermost, bottom-line heart; your real self, which is the deepest sense you have of your own self.

Your real autonomous free self; inside and independent of your social interactions and the manipulations of human communications and pressures.

It is to this real self that you must turn for certainty - which you must ultimately trust.

At the same time, you know that this real self is hard to access, and it is hard to know for sure that you have understood and interpreted it accurately - that you are not merely expressing wishful thinking, or being manipulated.

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Some tips:

1. Don't talk about your real inner self with other people; don't tell other people what you believe it says.

In a world of endemic corruption talking about your innermost discernible self will only increase the difficulty of locating and reading the real self; because of increased and more effective obstruction from the false self, the false self of corruption and manipulation, which is hiding your real self.

2. Accept on the one hand that your real self is the ultimate authority; yet that your understanding of your real self is both partial and prone to distortion.

Therefore, once you have decided that you understand something about the fundamental evaluation of your real self; you need on the one hand to accept it and build on it (since it is the best knowledge you have), while on the other hand you must be on the alert for feedback from your real self.

In this mortal incarnate life, you cannot avoid mistakes. The idea is that we act, because we must act; and often, inevitably and necessarily, we then repent our sins and errors to try again.

Your real self will tell you when you have made a mistake, a mistake about the evaluations of real self, or some other mistake in life.

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But why should this real self be regarded the bottom-line, indeed why should it be regarded as valid at all?

Now, when you are a Christian you will know that the real self 'has God in it' - the real self is 'placed in us' by God for our wise guidance. And the Christian will have other sources to test and correct what we suppose to be the promptings of our real self - there is scripture, church authorities, church traditions and history... but these are not available to the pre-faith, pre-Christian, who is our current focus.

So what about the modern skeptic-atheist-agnostic who is stuck? Why should he trust that there really is a real self, and that this real self should be trusted above all other sources of knowledge?

My assertion is not that he should trust the real self, but that as a matter of fact - this is what he already does.

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I assert that he already trusts his real self - but that the knowledge and insights of this self are very partial, very simple, unsystematic, personal - and therefore he allows them to be overwhelmed by the mass of public falsehood in which he is swimming.

I am urging that he should hold-fast-to and build-upon the knowledge he already has from his real self, and work from that - ignoring that it is small and simple and incomplete - and that it is contradicted by socially-accepted knowledge.

In the privacy of his own mind he should hold fast to that knowledge of the heart - no matter how tiny it may be - and place it above and beyond the mass of nonsense, falsehood, and manipulation that is the bulk of his thought.

If this can be done, then certainty and sureness and faith are the consequence and reward. 

Start with a tiny glowing-coal of certainty and sureness - and it really does not matter how tiny - but here at last is something utterly solid, secret, secure and unassailable; from which, bit by bit, more and more may be built.

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A remarkable, exciting and hard-hitting episode in the Book of Mormon - Alma: Chapter 30

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I am currently reading through the Book of Mormon carefully and in proper order, and yesterday I came to a really hard-hitting section - the book of Alma, chapter 30 - which describes the activities of 'an Antichrist' named Korihor

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/30?lang=eng

To clarify - this episode happened before the birth of Christ - since the BoM depicts a Christian society living by explicit faith in Christ, on the basis of the confident expectation of Christ - based on prophecy.

Thus this 'Antichrist' came before Christ - and worked to erode the belief in his future coming: the faith upon-which was based this Christian society.

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One very striking thing about this self-contained episode is that the Antichrist figure's criticisms of Christianity are presented in explicit and harsh detail.

I found this quite shocking in the context of a work of scripture: shocking, but wise and useful.

Because Korihor's arguments are immediately recognizable as the current secular-skeptical-atheist critique of Christianity, and religion in general; and therefore especially valuable to modern Christians.


**

Edited from Alma verses 22 - 28

And it came to pass that the high priest said unto him: Why do ye go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people that there shall be no Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings? Why do ye speak against all the prophecies of the holy prophets?...

Korihor said unto him:

Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.

Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage!

Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true. 

Ye say that this people is a guilty and a fallen people, because of the transgression of a parent. Behold, I say that a child is not guilty because of its parents.

And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ

And ye say also that he shall be slain for the sins of the world - And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.

Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God!

a being who never has been seen or known, who was nor ever will be!

**

The various ways in which Korihor is dealt-with - in context of an ancient Christian society which practices that freedom of worship necessary to real Christianity - is also very striking.

This Antichrist is first tolerated, then dealt with mercifully - even therapeutically; and only when Korihor refuses to stop his actively-subversive and antisocial behaviours are sanctions reluctantly requested and imposed - but not by the authorities, instead miraculously by the hand of God.

After which Korihor confesses - but yet he does not repent or repudiate his ways. 

The story finishes with Korihor's grisly end, and draws a moral of of caution against trusting the promises of the devil.

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Altogether, I find this a vivid and compelling mini-narrative, of great current relevance; and overall the equal of, while distinct from, any episode in the Old Testament

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Friday, 19 December 2014

My scientific conceptual breakthrough of this year...

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/red-queen-natural-selection-mutation.html
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Martyn Lloyd Jones interview with Joan Bakewell - post-Christian Britain on the cusp between Old and New Left in 1970

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This is a fascinating 20 minute TV interview from 1970 - another era - with the influential evangelical Protestant pastor Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones (1899-1981).

(Despite significant theological differences; I have a great fondness, respect and admiration for MLJ - and would regard him as one of the very best preachers I have come across  - see much more at http://www.mljtrust.org/ )

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What makes this significant is that the interviewer is someone regarded as a doyen of the British media and a figurehead for mainstream Leftist modernity - Joan Bakewell, now a Baroness.

At this time, Bakewell was nearly always referred to as 'the thinking man's crumpet'  - 'crumpet' being a slang word for a 'fanciable' young woman - but typically of low socioeconomic status and low intelligence; while Bakewell was upper class, a Cambridge graduate, and an insider of the Leftist artistic elite.

In sum, Bakewell was iconic as the original attractive, intellectual, go-ahead woman media figure in the UK; and was an advocate of the sexual revolution both professionally and in her personal life. In the 1960s Bakewell had a long-term 'affair' with Harold Pinter while both were married to other people - Pinter himself being the iconic radical playwright of that era and a later recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature. 

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So the confrontation - as it were - in this interview was very much the Old Britain versus the New; and the subject matter of 'modern man' brings this to the fore.

But 1970 was on the other side of the modern domination of the West by hysterical politically-correct secular Leftism; and reveals a lost era of civility and consecutive thought. Bakewell shows she is amused by, and is rather condescending to, Lloyd Jones, but unfailingly polite and reasonable.

MLJ is not badgered or interrogated but given all the opportunity he needs to make his views lucid. TV viewers of that era could see both sides present their views as they wanted, and make up their own minds.

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But such 'neutrality' was an inevitably-brief transitional stage, 1970 being a time 'on the cusp' between the Old Left as relative underdogs and the New Left as overseers and commissars.

Still, a fascinating social document.

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The Book of Jer3miah on DVD (directed Jeff Parkin & Jared Cardon)

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This is more of a notice than a review, but having much appreciated the novelization of this Mormon 'supernatural thriller',

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/review-of-kindle-novelization-of-book.html

I eventually decided to 'treat myself' by rather expensively importing the original DVD from the US.

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The series was made by students at Brigham Young University on a microscopic budget, and released in twenty (approx) five minute segments a week at a time, broken into two series. Given these constraints, it works very well as a whole and in some parts - but is inevitably uneven in quality and structurally clunky.

As well as being exciting and intriguing, it is a serious work - an earnest work - which is mostly about religion in the modern world; and about the possible situation of someone who is a fairly normal boy yet (we sense) potentially a major prophet, gradually coming to an awareness of his destiny in a situation when evil forces are powerful, organized, pervasive - and know things that he does not.

As such it has much to suggest concerning proper living in a situation where evil is both seductive and high status; the difficulty of wise decisions in a situation of incomplete knowledge - and thus the near inevitability of failures and therefore the humbling (humiliating) need for repeated repentance and learning from experience.

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Since I am not a massive fan of the thriller genre, I tended to like best the in-between sections on 'student life' - in particular the protagonist's large, and larger-than-life, room-mate Porter Coolbrith - played by Jeffrey Blake.

In my judgement, Blake's performance was evidence of a really exceptional naturalistic screen actor - whose distinctive physique ought to assure him of a livelihood in character roles (although, like most men in the profession, he probably would not fully come into his own until he was - or looked - middle aged).

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Anyway, The Book of Jer3miah - both as book and DVD - has been something that got into my daily thoughts and dreams (in a good way!); so naturally I regard it a considerable achievement. 

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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Real functional creativity, versus the parasitic pseudo-creativity of fashion

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/creativity-is-transcendentally-opposite.html
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Homes of famous writers - RW Emerson and CS Lewis - and the best reason for a pilgrimage to experience them

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It is a strange thing to visit the home of a famous writer, and to be moved and inspired by the experience; because in many way, at many levels, the activity is clearly bogus.

To visit, decades or even centuries later, what is now a museum; a place mostly re-decorated, re-equipped and preserved rather than a working home... in a sense it shouldn't mean anything.

And of course, most of what it does mean is what we bring with us.

Most but not all.

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The happy memorability of my visit to Ralph Waldo Emerson's house in Concord, Massachusetts is something that has stayed with me. The trick of memory makes me suppose Emerson standing in his hallway wearing his 'gaberlunzie' (a large dressing gown) - and I recollect the simple Aeolian harp placed near an open window (silent, at the time I saw it).

Partly this was from was a touching sincerity about the staff - who seemed very decent people, and who referred to 'Mr Emerson' as if he might at any moment return from a walk in the woods.

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Or, The Kilns - home of CS Lewis. Although this was very straightforward suburban house of not so long ago; I nonetheless walked around it - and the grounds - in a kind of daydream. 

What was touching was the amount of love and work which had been put into rescuing and restoring the place - the actual house had been, for example, very dirty when inhabited by Lewis: ceilings and walls and soft furnishings stained with tobacco, and the carpets permeated with ash  - Jack and Warnie Lewis apparently did not use ashtrays, due to some belief that ash was 'good for' carpets.

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So most of what is experienced is brought, much is a recreation rather than a survival of the past - but is there something more?

Does the actual stone, brick and wood - the architectural shapes, and landscape layouts - preserve memories of the past?

Yes, very obviously so - I would have thought. If the houses had been demolished and the materials removed to the foundations, or the building utterly lost but rebuilt as an accurate replica somewhere else, then visited - this magic would have been lacking.

But the continuous existence of the actual place itself sometimes preserves some residue of the people who had lived there for for many years.

This works for houses, villages, towns cities and even nations - in different degrees. The continuation of their structure in situ typically preserves the past in arcane ways - ways that may be available for us to experience, and this fact certainly can 'make a difference'. 

And that is what we travel on pilgrimages to experience.

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Structured emotions in the psychology of creativity

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/creativity-as-process-and-outcome-of.html
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Best British long poem of the Twentieth Century - A drunk man looks at the thistle by Hugh MacDiarmid

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I have just discovered that the greatest British long poem of the Twentieth Century (in my opinion!) - that is A drunk man looks at the thistle (published 1926) - has been put onto YouTube, being read by its author, Hugh MacDairmid.

[See above or : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt2gOOtrYRc ]

Up to twenty years ago I had read pretty much everything published by and about Hugh MacDiarmid - which was the pen name of Christopher Murray Grieve (1892-1978).

On reflection he was a terrible man who liked and wanted terrible things, on the whole; but his early poems written in his own version of a Scots dialect are simply sublime, and for a few brief years he was certainly inspired.

Sublime IF you can get to grips with the difficult dialect and arcane vocabulary. This, very few people have ever done, and fewer as the years go by; so I almost never recommend reading him to other people.

But here is one of my favourite passages from A Drunk Man:

O wha's the bride that cairries the bunch
O' thistles blinterin' white?
Her cuckold bridegroom little dreids
What he sall ken this nicht.
For closer than gudeman can come
And closer to'r than hersel',
Wha didna need her maidenheid
Has wrocht his purpose fell.
O wha's been here afore me, lass,
And hoo did he get in?
—A man that deed or' was I born
This evil thing has din.
And left, as it were on a corpse,
Your maidenheid to me?
—Nae lass, gudeman, sin' Time began
'S hed ony mair to g'e.
But I can gi'e ye kindness, lad,
And a pair o' willin' hands,
And you sall ha'e my breists like stars,
My limbs like willow wands.
And on my lips ye'll heed nae mair,
And in my hair forget,
The seed o' a' the men that in
My virgin womb ha'e met. 
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At the time he wrote The Drunk Man, MacDiarmid was 'making' these poems from already existing poems and translations, and his explorations in Jameson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language.

His own English Language (i.e. non-Scottish) poetry written up to that point had been hopeless (although his prose was distinctive in a strangely '1890s' sort of way) - and his later attempts were also mostly poor - clunky, contrived, utterly devoid of lyricism.

But for a few years in the 1920s he seems to have been a channel for an unique and amazingly sure-footed type of poetic spirit which worked for expression in Scots dialect - I really don't think he knew what he was doing, nor was he in control of it.

After the peak of A Drunk Man, he quarried out a few more pieces from the residue of this spirit - notably the implausibly wonderful and assured 'Harry Semen' (I would have thought it beyond-possible to write a beautiful and uplifting poem with that theme - look it up) - while his other writings and speeches and public persona was ranting and raving and boasting with an embarrassingly-wilful, incoherent, sophomoric petulance about anything which entered his head - but mostly totalitarian utopian communist nationalist politics.

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When all has been said, to produce such a quantity of lyric poetry of the highest class is so rare and valuable that I am prepared to filter the gems from the dross: Or, as MacDiarmid truly said about himself in a lucid moment:

"My job, as I see it, has never been to lay a tit's egg, but to erupt like a volcano, emitting not only flame, but a lot of rubbish."

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

My life - in a nutshell (I wish)

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The butterfly, a cabbage-white, 
(His honest idiocy of flight) 
Will never now, it is too late, 
Master the art of flying straight, 
Yet has - who knows so well as I?- 
A just sense of how not to fly: 
He lurches here and here by guess 
And God and hope and hopelessness. 
Even the acrobatic swift 
Has not his flying-crooked gift.


By Robert Graves (1895-1985)

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Are reactionary rants useful - or counter-productive?

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I have done more than my fair share of common-sensical, skeptical, reactionary ranting; sadly, it is quite possibly what I am best at and what commenters like best.

A case can be made, and is made often, that such things are at least useful and perhaps necessary - however, people get a taste for doing and reading such things, and that taste is addictive, and it is possible to spend hours a day going from blog to blog reading anti-Leftist rants, take-downs and satire.

Some people imagine that there is an anti-Progressive blogosphere where you can go to find 'the truth' about the modern world - where the mass media can be dissected and analysed and reality discerned behind the shadows...

Given that political correctness goes from strength to strength, all this kind of stuff strikes me as being likely to be part of the problem rather than the solution.

Anyway, I have had enough of it; and am going to try harder to stop writing it and stop reading it. The problems of modernity are too deep and too pervasive to be susceptible to polemic.

If I cannot inspire people to good, then I cannot do anything useful.

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Review of The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L Jagi Lamplighter

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L Jagi Lamplighter, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, 2013. pp 380.

This was one of the most wholly enjoyable books I have read for some time, thoroughly entertaining and thoroughly interesting; an experience especially welcome coming from an author new to me. And unusual; given that I am increasingly hard to please, therefore not always reading fiction nowadays. I may go for a few weeks without having a novel 'on the go' - and even longer if re-reads are not counted.

It is in the Young Adult fantasy genre, set in a co-educational boarding school for sorcerers - something like a more wholesome and hopeful Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams: that is to say, a highly intelligent and witty fiction, bubbling with ideas.

The action is seen through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl who - as well as being an untrained sorcerer - has (inherited from her mother) a special power of memory, with total recall and rewind facilities. This ability is central to the plot - and depicted very convincingly. She is just starting at school, and the action of the book unfolds over the first days, consisting of detailed scenes almost in 'real time'.

As might be expected from a young teen heroine and in the 'girls boarding school genre' (a few Enid Blyton examples of which I read as a kid); nearly all the characters are depicted as very good looking, but in different ways and degrees; and life is seen through a lens of friends and friendship-groups. In addition, each child and teacher seems to have some distinctive magical or personal ability - rather like Marvel or DC superhero teams - so the characters are not inter-changeable.

My point is that the style is light, humourous, somewhat detached. Although there is plenty of emotion and action; these have a 'classical' objectivity - more like a Shaw play or a Mozart opera, than the emotional focus of Shakespeare or Puccini! Rachel Griffin has its passions and romances; but is a world away from the 'hormone storms' and doomed love of most YA fiction. The young heroine is precociously intelligent, sensible, philosophical as well as empathic - and consequently dominates the situation in a way which is essentially feminine - but tom-boyishly feminine. 

So, from my perspective, Rachel Griffin was a completely-successful example of its type - and had me beguiled and mentally-stimulated throughout. And I was pleased to note that this is the first of a series, and there is another Rachel Griffin book for me to look forward to!

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Monday, 15 December 2014

The primary physics metaphor in New Age spirituality - Energy!

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Following from my comment that Christians (including myself) seem over-keen to use Physics metaphors -

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/why-do-we-so-often-use-physics.html

I remembered that the same applies to many New Age spiritualities, in their focus upon 'energy'. This is particularly striking in New Age therapies - 'Alternative Medicine' - for example explanations of acupuncture focus on energy channels. Sometimes these arcane energies may be felt, visualized, manipulated - even photographed.

Kirlian photograph

This is not always the case - for example, homoeopathy employs pre-modern styles of reason by analogy or 'similarities' and the causality uses a more 'magical' style of reasoning - and the modern theorizations are more chemical than physicsy.

But there is an awful lot of talk about energies in New Age discourse - energy sometimes being used in a manner than is more like 'motivation' or 'drive'.

But perhaps this is always the way when physicsy metaphors are used in religion - they naturally take on more psychological/ biological attributes - as when New Agers talk about the 'balance' of energies (i.e. a non-physics way of talking about energy).

Or perhaps it is more that religious metaphors tend, if not actively prevented, to revert to the undifferentiated explanations which were natural to humans long before science - so they almost never stick strictly to their chosen metaphor; but in usage it becomes less bounded and more generalized.

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Note: It was originally my brother who pointed this out to me. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Leftist moral inversion is the ultimate in hypocrisy

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Leftists are quick (and dishonest) to accuse Christians of hypocrisy when they fail to live-up-to their own high standards.

But this is not (usually) hypocrisy - just the nature of 'aiming. Furthermore, Christianity is essentially not about living a sinless or perfect life - which is explicitly declared to be impossible for earthly mortals - but instead about repenting for our failure to live by ultimate standards.

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Accurately, a Christian hypocrite would be one who explicitly claimed personally not to sin, when in fact he did: it is a form of dishonesty - a false claim to high moral status.

But Christian hypocrisy palls into insignificance compared with the standard, routine, modern, mainstream secular Leftist hypocrisy: which is to sin, and then change morality so that that sin is redefined as good.

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This is completely normal for the pioneers and prophets of secularism and Leftism - especially in relation to sex.

The spokesmen of the radical Left, from Rousseau through HG Wells, (Bertrand) Russell and Russell (Brand)  - and what a catastrophic and complete decline in quality of famous progressive personnel the final name in that list represents! - the most influential and celebrated Leftist leadership have consistently engineered  official morality around their personal weakness and wickedness.

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So, if a Leftist wants to have sex outside marriage, practise assembly-line promiscuity, or get divorced, or take drugs, live as a sponger and parasite, practice professional hatred, seduce by dishonest manipulations... then their 'moral' code is simply re-engineered to say that actually all of these things (and anything else they happen to want to do) are actually good...

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Sin is defined as 'the new good', and if this angers, offends and disgusts anybody then that is good too - because (by definition) these people deserve it - being hypocrites.

In mainstream secular Leftism, [fill-in-the--blanks-with-whatever-I-personally-fancy] is first excused, then propagandised as not just self-indulgence; but actually worthy of celebration and lavish reward because on the side of equality, freedom, excitement, tolerance, spontaneity, fun, diversity - and against religion, tradition, hierarchy, patriarchy, marriage and families.

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So the mandatory pretence is now that sin is actually good (properly understood); and good is actually the very worst evil; and consequently the new moral exemplars are actively and openly selfish, hate-filled and hate-propagating, behaviourally-incontinent, lying, cowardly sub-mediocrities (mediocrity is actively preferred, because any form of excellence is - to a real but limited extent- good).


This is hypocrisy on steroids, hypocrisy in a massive stadium with light show and surround-sound - hypocrisy with the backing of the government, the law, the mass media, the education system - deep state-hypocrisy enforced by the tax office, the snooper and the mob - hypocrisy with a megaphone and a truncheon - hypocrisy at the end of a gun - hypocrisy with spies and drones and bombs.

Old-style Christian hypocrisy had nothing on this.

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Note added: Secular Leftist hypocrisy by moral inversion is the hypocrisy of great power - because only great power can change the rules, and re-define its own sins as virtues, and can force or persuade society to conform to these new ethics.

Secular Leftist hypocrisy is also self-destroying, a species of nihilism - which, paradoxically, provides its motivating  pseudo-altruistic basis. 

Thoughtful secular Leftists recognize that rigorous implementation of their programme will sooner or later destroy themselves and everything they regard as good - but they interpret this fact as evidence of their own disinterestedness: evidence that they are not - therefore - ultimately selfish.

This, then, is the consequence of rejecting God: an ethic of total destruction re-interpreted as an ethic of impartial altruism!

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Is it true to say that there is no escaping metaphysics? Yes. And No.

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"There’s no escaping metaphysics." 

There is a sense in which this statement is true, but another sense in which it is false - and a snare to Christians.

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The sense in which metaphysics cannot be escaped is that our explicit understanding of reality necessarily happens within a structure - so that when we are self-conscious, or communicating, we will be doing so from some metaphysical position.

The sense in which "there is no escaping metaphysics" is false, is that we can change our metaphysics, we can choose our metaphysics - and it is possible and normal for Christians to have a variety of metaphysical positions.

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It may be asked on what basis we change or choose our metaphysics? The answer is that these are various, and they vary between denominations.

The Transubstantiation schism in the medieval Catholic church was, as I interpret it, a dispute between the Roman church who asserted that there was only one true metaphysics of the bread and wine at Holy Communion - and that this had been given by revelation to the Roman church - all other metaphysical understandings being false, therefore sinful.

The Orthodox and Anglican Catholic churches refused to make any specific metaphysical system of what happened to the bread and wine 'true' but pronounced it a mystery and - in effect - a matter for personal revelation or local opinion, including having no expliict view at all on the matter.

The Roman Catholic Church is distinctive in making *many* metaphysical and philosophical questions into a matter of general revelation and doctrine - with explicit and specific explanations declared true and all others false. Outside the RCC the emphasis on metaphysics varies with time and place - and some metaphysical explanations are regarded mandatory while others as more-or-less expedient.

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But the overall picture of Christendom through the ages is one in which metaphysics is an expedient, which ought to serve a faith whose basis is much more than philosophy.

In sum, Christianity properly regards philosophy as an imperfect, incomplete and biased attempt to make explicit a reality which just is much bigger and more various than philosophy can comprehend.

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Therefore a Christian can (and sometimes should) change his metaphysical beliefs without ceasing to be Christian; and there is more than one metaphysical way of being a Christian (although some may be overall better than others, and some will be better than another for particular purposes); and indeed there are (there must be) non-metaphysical experiences in Christianity above and beyond the scope of philosophy - the metaphysics only comes-in when people attempt to make explicit and communicate the basic experience.

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In that deep sense, metaphysics is (merely) an artefact of the process of explanation; and it is the limitations on explanation which necessarily cause the limits of metaphysics.

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(The above is derived from my response to a posting and a comment by Kristor Lawson at The Orthosphere - http://orthosphere.org/2014/12/11/the-limit-of-theology ).

Friday, 12 December 2014

"Don't *judge* me!" - What does it mean? Is it valid?

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The phrase 'Don't judge me!', and the many variants upon it, means - do not morally evaluate me.

Behind this lies the assumption that it is extremely hazardous morally to evaluate people because:

1. We are subject to prejudice

2. Our information is incomplete

3. Our motivations are corrupt

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All of these are correct - it is the inference drawn from them which is false - that inference being that because '1, 2, 3' therefore we ought not to make moral evaluations.

This is, I would have thought, fairly obviously both self-refuting nonsense in its logical structure, and also perniciously evil in its intent.

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And this is true even in its softer (more evasive?) form- which is that judgement should be suspended pending 1. our moral re-education to root-out self prejudice and instead favour 'the other', 2. further, open-ended (yet still inevitably partial) empirical investigation, 3. our purification of motive (in the direction of universalist altruism).

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What can reasonably and rightly be asked of all people is that they be prepared to revise their initial (and necessary) judgement on the basis of further experience, knowledge, and genuine personal spiritual development.

We must and we do judge, everything and always - and must therefore do it here and now, and do it on the basis of what we already know and how we actually currently are as people

- but if we get to know better or become better people, that is to say objectively better - which objectivity entails we adhere to a metaphysics that there is reality, and reality is knowable; then we must be prepared to revisit that judgement.

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Who rules the West: Sword and/or Book?... or something new: the Mass Media?

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In Plough, Sword and Book: the structure of human history (1988), the international superstar anthropologist Ernest Gellner expressed in his title the classic tripartite division of all agrarian, pre-industrial societies into a ruling class of 'sword' and 'book' - i.e. warriors and priests - in various combinations; presiding over a mass of productive peasants (i.e. 'plough').

This is, of course, a simplification - in particular leaving-out the skilled middle class (craftsmen, merchants, doctors) who neither function neither as priests nor warriors yet have a highly significant role.

Nonetheless, as a description of the ruling class, Gellner was expressing what most people believe is not just true - but necessarily true: most analysts believe, or at least they assume in practice, that all past and all possible societies are ruled by a combination of warriors and/ or priests.

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The Neoreactionary Right certainly believe it; and interpret modern society as a variant of rule by priests or theocracy; with the priestly class termed The Cathedral (or, previously, the Clerisy; sometimes the Establishment); and modern Leftist/ Liberal/ Progressive politics are therefore regarded as a sub-type of a priest-dominated religion.

However, I think this is a mistake; and that in fact in modern developed societies, especially since the mid-1960s, the traditional Sword and Book ruling classes have been subordinated by the Mass Media.

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I argue this in numerous previous blog posts on the mass media, and in my recent book Addicted to Distraction

http://addictedtodistraction.blogspot.co.uk/

So I believe that the Mass Media is now the primary ruling social system, and that it is functionally different from a social system based on a priestly class.

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The main difference is that a priestly ruling elite - or theocracy - functions by imposing a church at the head of social organization; and the church has a definite, relatively specific, structure and personnel.

However, the modern society ruling class of the Mass Media has no definite or positive structure and no definite priest-like personnel - because its primary and essential function is negative rather than positive.

The modern ruling elite is not accurately termed a theocracy because it has no god - and no-god is a crucial deficiency for any theocracy! The modern elites is, indeed, an anti-theocracy - because is does not just passively omit, but actively excludes serious god-talk from the public arena.

It is anti-theocratic because it regards no god as real, and all gods as arbitrary, relativistic constructs - constructs which are made, and can be remade, by the mass media and associate subordinate social institutions (e.g. government, civil administration, NGOs, the legal system, police and education).

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In a nutshell, the modern supreme ruling elite centred in and around the mass media is not - over the long term - in favour of anything in particular - certainly not god or any specifiable kind of religion; rather it is against things - and the things it is most-actively against vary over time. Over time, it is against everything.

The modern elite's aim is not to define, impose and maintain any particular religious utopia; rather its aim is to subvert, destroy and invert many (and in principle all) spontaneous and actually-existing forms and structures.

The modern ruling elite is therefore not located in any specific institution (such as Harvard or Oxford, or the Supreme Court, or the civil administration) - because all of these are themselves subject to continual subversion, destruction, and inversion - all elite institutions have-been and are continually being re-made.

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Nobody is in control, nobody is going anywhere in particular; but the dominant class are subverting, destroying and inverting everything, everywhere, including themselves - not all at once, but in rotation and over time.

They are not self-consciously aiming at total nihilistic destruction (at least, only a handful of them are) but total nihilistic destruction is the modern elite's revealed preference.

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