Tuesday 29 September 2020

The Death Spiral of the Left

The ceaseless rush of everything leftwards, meaning towards an egalitarian levelling down (with, naturally, a presiding elite) cannot be resisted though it should not be accepted on that account. Nonetheless, though reactions will spring up, these will sooner or later be swept aside because they do not have sufficient sustaining power in a world that has turned its back on spirit. It's all about first principles, and the assumption of practically everyone today is that all human beings are basically equal in all circumstances. This, which is a materialistic view, has never been thought by any previous society. For Christians, everyone was equal or potentially equal in Christ but not as far as this world was concerned. That way lies the inevitable descent to the lowest common denominator. Then there is the idea that everyone is equally subject to the law, but that again was not regarded as extending to every aspect of society, seeing no difference between king and commoner as king and commoner. It was just that the law stood over everybody, and that was because the law was rooted in God. 

But today notions of higher and lower have been largely abandoned, and this destructuring of structure and dismantling of order has left a world in which competing groups all struggle for power, paying lip service to the idea of a common humanity but really seeking advantage for their own little tribe. The end result will certainly be conflict unless that is offset by some form of political totalitarianism in which hard won freedoms are lost, bartered away in exchange for supposed security and stability.

I was unwillingly drawn into an argument with an enthusiastic feminist the other day. (Unwillingly because there was nothing to be gained). She took her feminism as a self-evident truth. She believed everyone had been oppressed by white males until recently who had lorded it over the rest of creation, subduing it to their dominating will. She asked me why I thought men and women should not be treated as completely equal, and when I responded that framing the question in that way put the matter as how the two sexes should stand to each other on a false footing, was unable to comprehend what I meant. I said that the real point was that feminism degraded the feminine by turning women into ersatz men, thereby destroying a harmony that relied on complementary opposites working together to their mutual benefit, and she countered that men had always exploited and controlled women. She insisted on casting the whole question in terms of power as leftists invariably do, and accused me of wanting to return to a past in which men held all the power, and women just had to go along with that. I said that those who were against modern feminism did not regard the past as a perfect example of how things should be, but that the cure lay in reform rather than revolution which is what has actually taken place. Rather than thinking in terms of power, we should be thinking in terms of love, support and respect, all things feminism erodes because of its unremitting focus on power.

I mention this conversation because what it demonstrates is that if the right meets the left on its own ground, allowing it to frame the parameters of the debate according to its own terms as it has done for so long, it will lose all the arguments. What it must do is set up new territories, and these must be rooted in the spiritual order as traditionally understood, though adapted to the modern sensibility with its increase of personal agency. For instance, if asked, as in the example above, whether men and women are equal, one could reply that this is a meaningless question. In one sense, of course they are equal. In another, they are different and meant to be. The differences may have been exaggerated in the past but that is no reason to deny or minimise them now. Working with the differences properly creates harmony but feminism, in the same way as does its alter ego, male chauvinism, simply brings about discord.

Because leftists are ideologues, often dogmatic ideologues, they try to force reality into their theories of how it should be. This never works. Instead, we must see what human beings actually are and build from that. But what human beings actually are must include the spiritual dimension because that is part of what they are. In fact, it is the essential part of what they are even in this world, and if it is denied no political system will ever work. Ideologies arise when people lose touch with their instincts and fail to develop intuition. They are the mark of the ignorant intelligent which is why they are so prevalent in our day. They always lead to separation from reality because they arise from the separated mind, that is to say, from self-enclosed thought divorced from God.

We see in the contemporary world all the inbuilt flaws of liberal democracy coming home to roost. It is said that any system is only as good as the people participating in it which is true enough but some are still better than others, and democracy clearly had many benefits. Now, though, it appears to have reached some kind of end game as its flaws become more pronounced and take over the whole system. Democracies generally start off as limited in their extent but, by their very nature, soon move into universal suffrage as equality is taken to mean what it says. But universal suffrage, attractive as it may sound to the superficial thinker, inevitably leads to the triumph of quantity over quality. The less able are given the same rights as the more able, and from then on collapse is only a matter of time. Whether that be into tyranny, as Plato thought as people turn to a perceived strong man to maintain order, or some form of societal breakdown remains to be seen. The fact is that what we call leftism, a materialistic liberal egalitarianism, will always end in the destruction of the good, the beautiful and the true. It is part of anti-creation, the reversion of matter to its raw form, a sin against the Logos. 

Nicolai Berdyaev sums it up in a quote I have mentioned before on this blog, "The demand for a forced levelling, which comes out of the lower levels of chaotic darkness, is an attempt to destroy the hierarchic cosmic order which was formed by the creative birth of light in darkness, an attempt to destroy human personality itself." Believe it or not, this is the real motivation behind what manifests in this world as the Left, and which is doing so particularly forcefully now.

Thursday 24 September 2020

You Are What You Think

Sometimes I discuss spiritual matters with non-believers, and sometimes with ardent non-believers who do not just dismiss religion and spirituality but see them as positively pernicious, the product of superstition and ignorance. Often on these latter occasions I end up being accused of ad hominem arguments in which I supposedly play the man not the ball. I have to concede this is very probably true but that is because of my sense when I speak to a person like this that they believe what they believe, or refuse to believe what they want not to believe, because of the sort of person they are.

The root of faith is in the will not the mind. There is plenty of evidence for God in scripture, nature, the human mind and life itself, but there is no overwhelming intellectual evidence nor meant to be since that would remove the essential role of free will in the matter. This means whether we believe or not depends on the sort of person we are, on a natural tending towards God or one away from him. God is truth and love so this means that whether we believe or not is ultimately down to whether we respond to, value and treasure truth and love, particularly whether we do so above ourselves  Doubt is permitted, that is a normal part of the human experience, but outright rejection is not. And even doubt should not be a permanent or dominant state.

I will not go so far as to say that good people believe in God and bad people do not but, in spiritual terms, there is certainly an element of truth in this. If you accept God that means your heart is open to the spiritual heart of the universe, and this essentially is goodness. If you reject God that means your heart is closed and that essentially is evil. You may be a moral and virtuous person in your everyday dealings with other people, but that means very little if you refuse to acknowledge your Creator. It implies there is an egotism and a self-will within you that denies and rejects the source of all truth and beauty and goodness. In this sense, you are what you think.

Critics of this point of view will point to the many people who claim they believe in God but behave badly. I would say two things to this. Firstly, we are all sinners and fail many times. What counts is whether we repent our failures and sincerely try again. Secondly, there are, of course, many hypocrites and self-deceivers who use God for their own ends. These people clearly do not believe in God. If you believe in God, you love him and keep his commandments or, at least, try to keep them. There is belief of the head and belief of the heart. I am talking about the latter here which is the only one that counts.

Friday 18 September 2020

A Word on the Reduction of Posts Recently

Like, as I have discovered, several other bloggers who plough more or less the same furrow as I do, I haven't felt like writing much recently. I must confess to a kind of spiritual lethargy by which I mean I don't feel I have anything particular to contribute just now, and don't see what there is to be said that hasn't already been said many times in terms of the general state of things today. My impression is that the next phase of the current crisis, political, social, moral, but most of all, of course, spiritual, is brewing, and we are waiting for that. When it does come there will be plenty to say, I am sure. In the meantime, I have decided to lie low. I will still post from time to time but for the immediate future I am mostly just going to watch and pray.

Should anyone have any questions I would be happy to try to answer those.

Sunday 13 September 2020

Jesus and Healing

Those who would recast Jesus as a humanist and social reformer must ask themselves why he, who could multiply small amounts of food to feed a multitude, and heal the sick, even raise the dead, did this kind of thing so rarely.

Modern attitudes, and I include many modern religious attitudes, regard philanthropy as the highest spiritual action. This, to such a mindset, is the practical working out of compassion. The relieving of worldly suffering is what all religious people are called to do as a spiritual duty. More than duty, it is evidence that they practise what they preach. If they don't actively support measures tending in this direction then how can they be called spiritual?

This is not what Jesus taught or demonstrated in his life. Yes, he did come to relieve suffering but he knew that the root of suffering lies far deeper than the body, and if you make that your focus you are really just covering up a wound with a plaster. Jesus loved human beings more than anyone before or since but he also knew what human beings actually are, that they are not material but spiritual beings who have lost sight of their spiritual origins and true nature. The philanthropist seeks to improve worldly life and remove suffering. He tries to ameliorate living conditions and bring about practical changes that will make people happier in this world, not just on a physical level but a psychological one too. But this did not appear to be of any concern to Jesus. For him, the problem of life had to be addressed in a totally different manner. He confronts human suffering at an existential level, seeing it fundamentally as alienation from God.

This is why the Christian talks so much of sin, to the disapproval of some who think that concentration on sin just focuses on the negative and we should focus instead on the positive in order to bring that out. But it is precisely sin, which is acting in opposition to God and the reality of our true being, that is the barrier to the real positive. You cannot see something that is obscured unless you remove that which obscures it. You cannot know spirit, however much you may talk of it and fill your mind with the idea of it, unless you remove that which stands in the way of its realisation, and that is sin.

Jesus came to this world to address the issue of human suffering which is why he took on the burden of suffering himself. But he knew that the cause of human suffering is sin, the identification with the ego in one of its many manifestations, and so this is what he asks us to confront in ourselves. He did sometimes heal the body but his real mission was to heal the soul. The two are not in opposition but they are radically different and this is something that the modern world frequently fails to understand.

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Atheism and God

Those of us who believe in God and who think that such a belief is the most important thing there is have a responsibility to make sure it is the right God we believe in. I mean by this that it is the highest and best representation of divinity to which we give our allegiance. Generally speaking, our belief in God will be modified and affected by certain ideas we might have about God. That is an inevitable outcome of how we as human beings are. At the moment, we are outside God so our sense of him will be to a large extent mentally bound. There may be certain occasions during which we experience something of the majesty and wonder of God but these pass and we are left with the memory which we then adorn with our own thoughts about it. These will necessarily reflect something of ourselves.

Atheism is one of the great evils of our time but it is clear there are two sorts of non-believers. There are those who don't care about God and who may be relieved there is no God because they can get on with their lives without being concerned with someone looking at them. They consider they have greater freedom now, that is to say, freedom to do what their ego wants. They actually have less freedom because true freedom can only be found in God as only he can release us from the constraints of the separated and alienated self.

But then there are those who react against antiquated notions of God. We have evolved intellectually over the last few centuries and some previously held ideas about God may have been outgrown. These people do need to explore a little more deeply and learn to separate divine reality from human notions about it. Nevertheless, it could be said in their favour that what they are rejecting is not God but false ideas about him. This is part of a growing process but it means they may now experience life as without meaning and as a consequence turn to spiritually harmful ways of behaviour. However, show them a God who can satisfy their doubts and they could well return to a more developed faith.

If you are an atheist, is it gladly or reluctantly? If the former, you are a true atheist and that is a problem which one day you will have to deal with. If the latter, then I would suggest you deepen your ideas about God. Many of the beliefs people have about him, both non-religious and religious people, are the reflection of their own minds and do not indicate anything about God as he truly is. God is a mystery beyond understanding of course but perhaps a way to approach him that does not do him an injustice is to think of him as the fundamental 'I' behind all consciousness, the root subject of the universe which reflects him in expression. This 'I' he then bestows on us as our own individual self. We are his children. 

Then you must know that God is good. Good must be prior to evil because everything in itself is good. Evil can only mar the good by corrupting or attempting to destroy it in some way. You cannot destroy what has not already been created and you can only make bad things by deforming good things. Thus, the basic driving force in the universe is good. 

These two facts about God tell us that the universe is founded on a person and that person is pure good. I don't say this can be proved as first principles are beyond intellectual proof which can only deal with the results of first principles. These just are. But taking them as base reality releases the mind from the cramped darkness of ignorance, opening it up to a spiritually expanded world of light and truth which in itself is a higher kind of proof.

Ultimately, a universe without God is meaningless. The, shall we call him, bad atheist either doesn't think about this or doesn't care. The good atheist does care and that is the potential cure for his ailment. He has rejected God because he seeks truth but the God he rejected was only a human one. If he persists in an honest search for truth, he will find the true God.

Saturday 5 September 2020

Love Must Be Spiritual or It's Nothing

If we believe in God and we believe that God is love then we have to question what exactly love is. Because if God really is love then love acts in some strange ways or so it seems. But first, can we accept that there was no real idea of love outside religion until recently when secular thought borrowed it and made it its own? But secular thought interprets love or compassion as a universal, equally applicable to everyone which doesn't make sense because only a universal God can really love universally. This tells us that the secular idea of love is not actually love at all. It's just a theory about love. And love as a theory is meaningless. Love cannot be reduced to an ideology. At least, it can but then it is killed.

If God really is love what then is this love? It cannot be something that wants to make everyone happy all the time because that is not how things are. So, if we accept that God is love we must also accept that love involves suffering or, at least, acquiesces in suffering. It is not just about being empathetic or compassionate but something a lot deeper and more mysterious than that.

I think we can attempt a definition and say that love, spiritually considered, wishes for the increase of good in the loved one. It doesn't just want happiness. It wants goodness and truth and it wants them to be established in the person loved. Now, this leads us to the critical question of what are goodness and truth? Is it good always to remove suffering? Then God is not good. Is it good always to bring joy and peace? Then God is not good. We have to explore further.

You see, we can't understand love without a proper metaphysics. Everything comes down to the matter of first principles and what a human being actually is. If you don't understand that then you cannot understand love and how it works in the world. Love can only be a spiritual thing because it depends on the unique individuality of the one loved. Secular thought which does not recognise God denies spirit and is on that account materialistic but there is no individuality in materialism. We are all just the product of natural forces with no real core identity. Individuality has to be a spiritual thing if it is real. There can be no love without spirit and so there can be no love in a world without God.

The good that love seeks to increase is spiritual good. We don't understand this. We understand material good but to seek to increase material good will often work against spiritual good because it will obscure, or even supplant, it. Spiritual good relates to our reality as spiritual beings and so it seems that really to understand love we have to see ourselves as spiritual beings and know what that means. What it chiefly means is loving the true good which is God. From this love flows all other love.