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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

bionic mosquito: Making Dogma

Posted by M. C. on August 12, 2020

As Christianity is destroyed, it is not being replaced by nothing; there is no possibility of a void in religion. There will be a new creed:

Today, one side holds a much stronger conviction of their creed than does the other; those desirous of destroying Western Civilization are far more religious than those who claim to defend it. It is a religious community willing to put words into action. This shift has been ongoing for centuries, accelerating rapidly before our eyes in the last months and years. We haven’t seen the worst of it yet:

Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer.

And you thought it couldn’t get worse after we accepted that boys could be girls and girls could be boys. Chesterton offers that it will get sillier than even this (and, therefore, more serious).

http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2020/08/making-dogma.html

The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas. But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas.

Heretics, Gilbert K. Chesterton (eBook)

Many animals make tools. Man is something more; man makes dogmas. Man piles conclusion on conclusion, developing a philosophy, a religion. By doing so, he becomes more human and less like a tool-making animal.

Therefore, if man is to be considered as advancing, “it must be mental advance in the construction of a definite philosophy of life.” And he must consider this philosophy right, and other philosophies wrong.

Does this mean to suggest a rigid process – once one conclusion is reached, it can never be altered or challenged. I would think not. It does mean that it must be understood well by those doing the challenging; the reason it was once accepted must be understood as well. this should be expected of those challenging existing dogma.

Since the Enlightenment, if not the Renaissance, man in the West has worked to overturn long-developed dogma – dropping one doctrine after another, growing evermore skeptical. Challenging definitions, finally sitting as God – with no creed and no foundation:

…he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.

Coming to the point where man believes in absolutely nothing – or, at least, nothing comprehensible.

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer.

But aren’t those who are most certain of their philosophy also the most bigoted? Chesterton says no:

In real life the people who are most bigoted are the people who have no convictions at all.

Our time offers stark examples of this: the bigoted are rioting on the street, holding no conviction other than destruction; the bigoted are chastising you for not wearing a mask, holding no conviction for science. They know nothing of truth, all-the-while claiming, violently, to be the keepers of the truth.

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas. The man of no ideas will find the first idea fly to his head like wine to the head of a teetotaller.

We see this in the empty heads filled with ideas of violence and revolution; we see this in the empty heads believing that they are all front-line soldiers in the war on a seasonal virus.

Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed.

We really know nothing of what we believe until we are challenged. As we are challenged, we better understand the commonsense, or lack thereof, of our beliefs. This is certainly true of our inherited Western traditions. It is playing out evermore visibly today, with the growing cultural and political divide in society. Yet Chesterton saw this coming more than one-hundred years ago:

The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed.

As Christianity is destroyed, it is not being replaced by nothing; there is no possibility of a void in religion. There will be a new creed:

A creed (also known as a confession, symbol, or statement of faith) is a statement of the shared beliefs of (an often religious) community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets.

Today, one side holds a much stronger conviction of their creed than does the other; those desirous of destroying Western Civilization are far more religious than those who claim to defend it. It is a religious community willing to put words into action. This shift has been ongoing for centuries, accelerating rapidly before our eyes in the last months and years. We haven’t seen the worst of it yet:

Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer.

And you thought it couldn’t get worse after we accepted that boys could be girls and girls could be boys. Chesterton offers that it will get sillier than even this (and, therefore, more serious).

Conclusion

There are no rationalists. We all believe fairy-tales, and live in them.

There is no life void of narrative. We see the narrative of those sucking the joy out of life, those smashing windows and those wearing masks. They live in a narrative and fervently believe the narrative.

It must be the same for us, those in search of peace and liberty in this world:

Let us, then, go upon a long journey and enter on a dreadful search. Let us, at least, dig and seek till we have discovered our own opinions. The dogmas we really hold are far more fantastic, and, perhaps, far more beautiful than we think.

Without this, there is no life, there is no liberty.

Posted by bionic mosquito at 12:28 AM

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The Greatest Political Strategist in History – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 20, 2020

With this laborious introduction out of the way, let’s begin.  The political strategist of whom I am speaking is Antonio Gramsci.  Malachi Martin summarizes the importance of Gramsci, in his book The Keys of this Blood:

…the political formula Gramsci devised has done much more than classical Leninism – and certainly more than Stalinism – to spread Marxism throughout the capitalist West.

What is that formula?  Gary North explains: Noting that Western society was deeply religious, Gramsci believed that…

…the only way to achieve a proletarian revolution would be to break the faith of the masses of Western voters in Christianity and the moral system derived from Christianity.

Religion and culture were at the base of the pyramid, the foundation.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/07/daniel-ajamian/the-greatest-political-strategist-in-history/

By

The year 2020 is not passing quietly.  We are witnessing events unthinkable even a few months ago: keep your anti-social distance, wear a mask when entering a bank, follow the arrows on the floor of the supermarket, all sporting events cancelled, homeschooling – even for university students – is approved by all corners of government and society.  Most relevant to this discussion: pot shops, liquor stores, and abortion clinics are essential, churches during Holy Week are not.

Add to this the protests – more specifically the riots.  Police told by government officials to stand down.  Those who intend to defend their lives and their property are the ones judged – by the media, and potentially by government prosecutors and courts.  Oh yes: protesting and rioting wards off viruses – no need for masks.

What, of all of this, is directly relevant to you?  Why did I feel it appropriate to change the topic of this lecture in the last days?  We are living through massive cultural changes.  While culture always evolves, in the last several decades the changes have been revolutionary – and I use that term purposefully.  These changes are aimed right at you and those who sat in your place over the last decades.  The purpose is to create soldiers for the revolution.

What I hear of college, and it also is true in business and government, are stories of various cultural indoctrinations – made ever-more intense given the pretext for these recent riots.  Politically correct speech to include even compelled speech, cancel culture, self-flagellation, a fight for the gold medal in the oppression olympics.  If you disagree with any of this, you are a fascist.  To further cement this indoctrination, a requirement to take classes that tear down Western Civilization – even saying those two words in anything other than a scornful tone could be costly.

There is a purpose behind this, a strategy.  Events that we have been living through recently are not spontaneous or random.  This is not accidental.  These events are the result of a political strategy designed to strip us of our liberty.  It is an insidious strategy.  It is also very effective.

Whether knowingly or not, those carrying out this strategy are using the playbook of the most successful Marxist thinker in history.  Given the damage this strategy has done to the freedoms of the West, I consider him to be the greatest political strategist in history.

And this is what I would like to discuss.  Before beginning, I must give you fair warning on two points: First, much of this Marxist playbook sounds an awful lot like the wishes of simplistic libertarians – libertarianism for children, as a good friend once labeled this.  I will come back to this point more than once.

Second, there will be a lot of discussion of western tradition and culture in this lecture.  Inherently this will include Christianity.  But if you want to understand the enemy’s playbook, then this cannot be avoided.

Now, I know many libertarians push back hard on this topic: Christianity is unnecessary for liberty, in fact it is an enemy to liberty.  I will only ask that you keep in mind: the most successful Marxist thinker in history believed that Christianity is the enemy of communism; it’s what stood in the way of communism’s advance in the West.  For now, I ask that you stay open to the possibility that he was right – because, when I look around me today, he sure appears to have been right.

With this laborious introduction out of the way, let’s begin.  The political strategist of whom I am speaking is Antonio Gramsci.  Malachi Martin summarizes the importance of Gramsci, in his book The Keys of this Blood:

…the political formula Gramsci devised has done much more than classical Leninism – and certainly more than Stalinism – to spread Marxism throughout the capitalist West.

What is that formula?  Gary North explains: Noting that Western society was deeply religious, Gramsci believed that…

…the only way to achieve a proletarian revolution would be to break the faith of the masses of Western voters in Christianity and the moral system derived from Christianity.

Religion and culture were at the base of the pyramid, the foundation.  It was the culture, and not the economic condition of the working class, that was the key to bringing communism to the West.  To be fair to Gramsci, he didn’t start this ball rolling; the West was doing a fine job of damaging its cultural tradition.

One can point to elements of medieval Catholicism, the Reformation and Renaissance, the Enlightenment (as I have previously discussed), and postmillennial pietist Protestants (as Murray Rothbard so clearly demonstrated), as all contributing to this destruction long before Gramsci hit the scene.  But without these cracks in the armor, Gramsci would never have been successful.

What is our current condition relative to Gramsci’s objectives?  I could speak to the destruction of the family, the loss of all meaningful intermediating governance institutions, the absurdity of a good portion of what passes for university studies today, especially in liberal arts and humanities – all of which are symptoms of the crumbling of the ultimate target at which Gramsci aimed.  We have, this year, been given indisputable evidence as to the success of his political strategy, in the response by Christian leaders to the coronavirus.  Just as one example, from Kentucky:

When I asked [Bishop John Stowe of the Catholic Diocese of Lexington] what he would say to a pastor planning Easter worship, he was blunt: “I would say it’s irresponsible,” he said. “It’s jeopardizing people’s lives.”

I know we live in a fact-free world, but was it ever wise to believe that we were facing the Black Death?  In pre-modern plagues, did Christian leaders act this way?  The simple answer to both questions is no, yet we have churches closed during Holy Week.  I cannot think of a better symbolic representation of the destruction of Christianity in the West.  Such is the success of Antonio Gramsci.

Who is Antonio Gramsci?  He was an Italian Marxist (more accurately, an Italian communist), writing on political theory, sociology and linguistics.  His work focused on the role that culture and tradition plays in preventing communism from spreading through the West.

Gramsci was born in 1891 and died in 1937, the middle of seven children.  Hunchbacked, either due to a malformed spine from birth or a childhood accident, it is not clear.  One of the stories has him falling from the arms of a servant down a steep flight of stairs.  Though his family gave him up for dead, his aunt anointed his feet with oil from a lamp dedicated to the Madonna.  Ironic.

Continuously sickly, until the age of fourteen a coffin for him was kept at the ready in his bedroom.  His father was thrown in prison for political cause and his mother, somehow, kept the family alive.

Prior to leaving Sardinia for Turin and university, he was a nationalist – Sardinia for the Sardinians.  Upon arriving in Turin, he came upon the automotive factories of Fiat.  It was here that he found the class struggle: workers and bosses.

World War One made this clear: half a million Italian peasants died, while the profits of industrialists rose.  He left university and began writing.  He founded a newspaper: L’Ordine Nuovo, The New Order, with its first issue delivered on May Day 1919.  He was a founder and leader of the Communist Party of Italy, and a member of Parliament.

With Parliamentary immunity suspended by Mussolini, he was sent to prison.  Several years later, a prisoner exchange was proposed by the Vatican: send Gramsci to Moscow in exchange for a group of priests imprisoned in the Soviet Union.  Mussolini put a stop to these negotiations in early 1933.

It was during his time in prison when he wrote his famous Prison Notebooks, describing the contents as “Everything that Concerns People.”  It comprised over 2,800 handwritten pages.  Twenty-one of the notebooks bear the stamp of prison authorities.  Given the risk of censorship, he used bland terms in place of traditional Marxist terminology.

Though completed by 1935, these were only published in the years 1948 – 1951, and not in English until the 1970s.  By 1957, nearly 400,000 copies had been sold.

Suffering from various heart, respiratory and digestive diseases, he was eventually transferred to a prison hospital facility.  On April 25, 1937 – the same day that he received news that he would be released – he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died two days later.

Through his notebooks, he introduced several ideas in Marxist theory, critical theory, and educational theory.  Most important was the idea of Cultural Hegemony, which was the unifying idea of Gramsci’s work from 1917 until he died.

Cultural Hegemony: Why hadn’t the Marxist Revolution swept the West by the early twentieth century?  Gramsci suggested that capitalists did not maintain control simply coercively – as Marx would describe it – but also ideologically.  The values of the bourgeoisie were the common values of all.  These values helped to maintain the status quo, and limited any possibility of revolution. Read the rest of this entry »

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Walter Berns and the Cult of “Patriotic” Sacrifice | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 18, 2020

Berns thinks he can solve a fundamental problem of modern America, and
wait till you hear what that problem is. People in America aren’t
willing to sacrifice their lives to the state. They are too much devoted
to their own selfish interests. To overcome this dire state of affairs,
we need to establish a “civil religion” in the guise of patriotism.

Think public service programs. Emphasis on “Program”.

https://mises.org/wire/walter-berns-and-cult-patriotic-sacrifice?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=b4fc4d239a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_07_17_06_30&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-b4fc4d239a-228343965

In his great new book The Problem with Lincoln, Tom DiLorenzo brought back an old memory. As Tom points out, Walter Berns, who taught political science at Cornell and then worked for the American Enterprise Institute, was one of the main figures urging us to worship Honest Abe. He quarreled with the main Lincoln idolater, Harry Jaffa, but I’m not going to go into what they fought about. Rather, I’d like to focus on an argument in Berns’s book Making Patriots (2006), to which Tom refers.

Berns thinks he can solve a fundamental problem of modern America, and wait till you hear what that problem is. People in America aren’t willing to sacrifice their lives to the state. They are too much devoted to their own selfish interests. To overcome this dire state of affairs, we need to establish a “civil religion” in the guise of patriotism.

Berns acknowledges that America was founded on individual rights, but he thinks there is a difficulty with overemphasis on Lockean rights to life, liberty, and property. No doubt, these have their proper place, and it is not a small one. But “patriotism means love of country and implies a readiness to sacrifice for it, to fight for it, perhaps even to give one’s life for it. But, aside from the legendary Spartans, why should anyone be willing to do this?…why should self-interested men believe it in their interest to give their lives for the idea or promise of their country?”

Things were different in the ancient world. In classical Athens, no conflicting loyalties stood between the citizen and his city: “Athenians were enjoined to be lovers of Athens because they were Athens—in a way, by loving their city, they loved themselves—and because, by gaining an empire, Athens provided them with the means by which they gained fame and glory.”

By no means does Berns seek to restore the ancient city. Quite the contrary, he recognizes that the “institutions of both Athens and Sparta were ordered with a view to war, and, precisely for this reason, neither Athens nor Sparta could, or can, provide a model for America.” Since the rise of Christianity, allegiance no longer can be undivided. The soul of the religious believer does not belong exclusively to the political community, and the great mistake of the French Revolution was its futile attempt to uproot the church and restore the ancient ways. The founders of the American Republic avoided this trap. So far, so good.

But Berns now asks an odd question. If Christianity cannot be eliminated, how can as much as possible of the unity of the ancient city be restored? His answer—and it is not a bad one given his premise—is that religion must be rigidly confined to the private sphere. In that way, the state may proceed toward its great tasks, unhindered by the scruples of believers. Though believers may practice their faith unmolested, they must realize that private conscience must always bow before the law.

Our author makes entirely clear that, on this matter, he is a thoroughgoing Hobbesian:

with the free exercise of one’s religion comes the requirement to obey the law regardless of one’s religious beliefs….Whether a law is just or unjust is a judgment that belongs to no “private man,” however pious or learned, or, as we say today, sincere he may be. This means that we are first of all citizens, and only secondarily Christians, Jews, Muslims, or any other religious persuasion.

Thus, if your religion forbids you to fight, Berns would grant you no right to avoid military service. It may be a prudent policy for the government to make room for conscientious objectors, so long as they number but few. But their status is a privilege, and Berns does not hide his dismay with the Supreme Court for making “the exception the rule for anyone willing to invoke it.” No wonder Murray Rothbard said that Berns is an enemy of freedom.

So much for religion—or, rather, so much for religion that extends beyond devotion to the state. What is to replace it as an object of popular devotion? We cannot, of course, rely on so egotistic a notion as natural rights; instead, we need a national poet around whose work the emotions of the people can concentrate.

Fortunately, one is at hand: Abraham Lincoln. “As…Shakespeare was, or is, to the English (and Robert Burns to the Scots, Gabriele D’Annunzio to the Italians, and Homer to the Greeks) so Lincoln is to us; he is our spokesman, our poet.” Lincoln gives Berns exactly what he wants. His winged words, especially the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address, remind all Americans “that freedom is more than being left alone, that there is a price to be paid for it.” The great bloodletting that took place during Lincoln’s crusade was an essential means to bond all Americans together in love.

Berns’s argument rests on a false premise. Why should we think that a free people needs to be bonded together to defend their hearths and home from attack? Wars are rarely justified, but in the case of a genuine invasion, people don’t need a civil religion to defend themselves. Certainly we don’t need a religion that worships Lincoln.

 

Author:

Contact David Gordon

David Gordon is Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute, and editor of The Mises Review.

Be seeing you

 

 

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bionic mosquito: A World Without Christianity…

Posted by M. C. on April 30, 2020

https://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2020/04/a-world-without-christianity.html

bionic mosquito

A World Without Christianity…

…is a world without the possibility of liberty.

Tom Holland has written a book: Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World. At some point, I will read this book and write something about it; I have heard enough from him in interviews that the book seems very worthwhile.

This post is based on one of these interviews, conducted by Glen Scrivener. Glen Scrivener is an ordained minister and evangelist. My following notes pick up at the 29-minute mark; however, the entire interview is worth listening to.

GS: There are many humanists who say Christianity played a part in Western liberal values, but even without Jesus Christ we would have got to where we are.

TH: (chuckling) No. and it’s so odd because it tends to be people who valorize science and Darwin and the theory of evolution… [prior to Christianity] there is nothing at all about the emergence of the qualities or the values or the teaching of Christianity at all.

I don’t recall if it was earlier in this interview, or in another interview with Holland, but Holland describes the Roman world into which Christianity was born. Anyone not a male Roman citizen demanding any sort of rights would be sent to death. Any male Roman citizen had the right to have sex with anyone of any age in any orifice of his choosing. Things like this.

All of this was considered right, and good. It was only in Christianity where the slaves were given equal dignity in God’s eyes, where women had the same rights in marriage and sex as men.

GS: You cannot get these from other sources?

TH: If you want a sense of what the world might have looked like without Christianity you can look at India, where you have very rich philosophical tradition, a very rich tradition of worshipping gods, you don’t have something that emerges and wipes that out.

Certainly Christian-like values did not emerge from India.

TH: I can absolutely imagine a world where Christianity doesn’t emerge, where what the Jewish Scriptures offers to Gentiles remains highly appealing, so there’s a kind of churn of conversion. But because the difficulty of becoming a Jew is such, it could never become universalist on the scale that Christianity does.

It didn’t before Christ; there is no reason at all that it would have been different after Christ.

GS: Could we, though, have generated some sort of human rights [absent Christianity]?

TH: I don’t see why you would. Why would you? The idea that human rights kind of hangs in the ether waiting to be discovered is as theological as believing that the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and sits at the hand of God the Father. It requires a leap of faith.

It is interesting: we consider that natural rights “hang in the ether waiting to be discovered,” and this is true enough. But I think it is only true enough if one first accepts that man is made in God’s image and that God, in Jesus, gave us the means by which to understand proper virtues.

TH: The difference is that Christians recognize the divinity of Christ requires belief, whereas lots of people just assume that human rights exist, but they do not. They are a result of various legal developments in medieval Christendom. It doesn’t just spontaneously emerge.

Prior to and outside of Christianity, societies didn’t thrive by practicing what we today consider proper (i.e. Christian) ethics. Societies thrived via violence and brute force.

TH: The idea that humanists propagate, that science “proves” [the value of liberal values] is grotesque. Science is a mirror in which you see reflected what you want to see. The Nazis used science to justify racial genocide, liberals use it to justify “let’s hug the world.” But both of them reflect the cultural prejudices of people who are looking in that mirror of science.

Holland then describes his view of the fall from Christianity, which he says happened as a result of the two World Wars and people realizing the evils of the Holocaust. I will only say, that the fall happened long before, and Nietzsche’s madman saw this. Holland even references Nietzsche’s “Death of God,” so I do not follow his thinking here at all. He continues:

TH: We no longer needed the devil, because we had Hitler. We no longer needed hell because we had Auschwitz. So, whenever people want to do what is right, what is good, they look at the Nazis and do the opposite of what the Nazis did. The worst insult you can give anyone is that they are a racist or a Nazi.

This kind of [modern liberal] thinking sucked everyone in – universities, politicians, and churches. Therefore, the church no longer determines what people think. Whereas humanism is a kind of a Christian heresy, humanism has become so hegemonic that it has made the church kind of humanist.

This is why church attendance in the west is shrinking – who needs the church when all they do is regurgitate what is offered everywhere else?

GS: So, what would you like to see Christians preach?

TH: I see no point in bishops, preachers or evangelists just recycling the kind of stuff that you can get (chuckling) from any kind of soft left-liberal, because everyone is doing that. If I want that, I will get it from a liberal-democratic counselor.

Holland then describes the incomprehensible truth of Christianity:

TH: If you are a Christian, you think that the entire fabric of the cosmos was ruptured by this strange singularity where someone who is God and man sets everything on its head. To say its supernatural is to downplay it. If you believe that, then it should be possible to dwell on all the other “weird” stuff that becomes part of the Christian package.

Really, no one else is offering this. It sounds like a pretty good product differentiation strategy.

TH: I don’t want to hear what bishops think about Brexit; I know what they think about Brexit and it’s not very interesting. If they’ve got views on original sin, I would be very interested to hear that.

Original sin is a perfect example: if you are a woke liberal, you think “how awful, how terrible; Augustine was a terrible guy.” But watching the kind of shrillness of people convinced of their own virtue, howling down “sinners,” you realize that the concept of original sin keeps us all honest – we are all sinners.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn would write that the line separating good and evil passes right through every human heart. Every single one. Original sin; we are all depraved.

TH: Without original sin, you get a horrible hierarchy of virtue. You get exactly what atheists tend to criticize Christianity for. Christians always have a sense of their own sin; it keeps them honest.

And this is what we see around us today. The hierarchy of virtue is upside down. The greater the evil and the more depraved, the higher up the ladder it goes.

Conclusion

Removing Christianity from community life, as was accomplished in the Enlightenment, has led us to this place. I am reminded of Friedrich Nietzsche, from Twilight of the Idols:

When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet… Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands.

Do you remember what Holland said about the ethics in pre-Christian Rome? There is nothing that keeps us from this.

Is liberty possible in such a world?

Be seeing you

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bionic mosquito

Posted by M. C. on August 29, 2019

Can you imagine any social institution being successful if the individuals who make up such an entity are all playing by different rules? Each one defining how his role is governed, independent of the governance of the entity as a whole?

http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/

Mezze

Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in parts of the Middle East, the Balkans, Greece, and North Africa.

Call it the realm of the former Ottoman Empire. I have been chewing on a few topics for several days. Each of these could, perhaps, be turned into a complete meal but I am not in a position to devote the proper attention to each. So, for now, I will just serve each as a small dish. It is also equally likely, as is usually the case, that the mezze platter will be sufficient for the entire meal.

Diversity is Our Strength

If there is an overriding theme to the societal disaster that defines the current times, it is this slogan. More specifically, it is the context in which this slogan is used. Certainly, diversity can be a strength if ends are held in common; certainly, diversity is a strength if the rules of the game (the means) are respected.

Can you imagine any social institution being successful if the individuals who make up such an entity are working toward different ends? We see this in the least effective such entities; in the successful ones, we see that all individuals are working toward a similar end, purpose, objective.

Can you imagine any social institution being successful if the individuals who make up such an entity are all playing by different rules? Each one defining how his role is governed, independent of the governance of the entity as a whole?

Further, the ends and means are completely interrelated: It isn’t that the ends justify the means; it is that the ends define the means. Within such a framework, diversity is a strength: diverse skills, temperaments, capabilities, ideas – all moving toward a common end, all playing within a common framework of means.

Diversity is not a strength when the subject population does not hold to common ends and does not agree to play by common rules (the means). In such a case, diversity is hell. If the diversity of hell is where you look for your strength, feel free to welcome diversity as it is celebrated by the broader culture.

Everything is a Lie

Everything. Out of the mouths of politicians, news reporters, journalists, thought leaders in sports and entertainment. Well, not everything. On the rare occasion we hear some truth from any of these, they are shut down and ostracized.

Everything we are taught about history is a lie. Not a little lie, like George-Washington-cut-down-the-cherry-tree lie; big lies – lies that have resulted in the deaths of millions and the cost of trillions. The dead can be considered the trophies in the game rooms of the liars and the sacrifices of a worshipful population; the cost is going into the pockets of the same liars.  Whenever someone sticks his head up and says “wait, that isn’t true,” he is labeled a conspiracy theorist – before being shut down and ostracized.

Do you want to succeed by the standards of this world? Be a champion of the biggest lie. Do you want to survive? Don’t openly challenge any of the lies.

Do you want to do righteous work? Speak truthfully.

The Meaning Crisis

To really feel the joy in life

You must suffer through the pain

This idea of a meaning crisis has gained increased popular traction recently. What is the meaning crisis? A very complicated question. It is easier to describe it by what is lacking in Western society than what it actually is, I suppose. On one level, it can be captured by noting the superficiality of the material life – a life consumed with getting more stuff. There is no depth in this life, no relationships, no connections of value, no reason to cherish the joy in life – because “more stuff” doesn’t bring joy to life.

But as I think about it, at its most fundamental level, it strikes me that the things that give life meaning are those things for which one is willing to die or kill. Of course, what one is willing to die or kill for matters – a lot.

Jeff Deist raised just such points (and quite a backlash) when he spoke at Mises University two years ago:

In closing, I’ll mention an email exchange I had recently with the blogger Bionic Mosquito. If you’re not reading Bionic Mosquito, you should be!

Well, yeah. That’s true. But you are already here…so….

I asked him the same hypothetical question I have for you: what would you fight for? The answer to this question tells us a lot about what libertarians ought to care about.

By this I mean what would you physically fight for, where doing so could mean serious injury or death. Or arrest and imprisonment, or the loss of your home, your money, and your possessions.

His answer?

In other words, blood and soil and God and nation still matter to people. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance.

What in the West is worth fighting for? Who in the West is willing to do the fighting?

They shoot without shame

In the name of a piece of dirt

For a change of accent

Or the colour of your shirt

There are some answers. There are those in the West willing to go overseas and kill people who have never been a danger to anyone in the West; there are those in the West who are willing to kill others because they wear the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood.

Beyond these? Virtually nothing (other than family for some of us). And given that these are the two best examples I can think of, it suggests something about the cultural degradation of the West. Western society is willing to kill and die for evil purposes.

And this is, for the moment, the best description I can give of why there is a meaning crisis. Well, this and having “diversity is our strength” shoved down our throats. Oh, and knowing that everything told to us is a lie.

The Mess of Romans 13

Other than the end times interpretation by followers of the Scofield Bible, there is probably no misinterpretation of the Bible that has caused more harm than the “obey-the-government-at-all-times” interpretation of Romans 13 (and these two are certainly quite related today). I have offered that Gerard Casey has provided one of the many good evaluations of this fallacy.

Just reading and listening to the Gospels, in how many cases is it offered that the governmental authorities were defied? Not deified as in the standard interpretation of Romans 13; defied! Jesus would not have survived his first years had this not been the case.

I know, I am the one pushing Christianity as the necessary foundation for liberty. But organized Christianity – almost whatever the denomination – is so compromised morally and doctrinally. I take comfort that this situation has been seen many times before and has been overcome.

It will be overcome again. What would you expect, given He who is in charge?

Overturning Culture

I can’t remember which one of you wrote it and I cannot find it now, but we had an exchange on Jesus overturning culture some weeks ago. I keep writing about the value of common culture, not overthrowing the culture but allowing it to evolve naturally. The example was given by one of you of Jesus: He sure overthrew a lot of culture!

This has been on my mind since then. When I consider the cases where Jesus overthrew the existing culture – usually to be found in passages where He is dealing with the Pharisees or which begin “You have heard it said…” – the examples I can think of off of the top of my head are all examples of overturning culture in favor of Natural Law. In other words, Jesus makes clear that what many refer to as Judeo-Christian as the basis for Western civilization is simply Christian. The Judeo part of the equation destroyed the love inherent in Natural Law.

I write often about the old and good law. This means…not just old law – as the Pharisees would see it. “Good” law is grounded in Natural Law (and I don’t mean to imply here physical punishment for all violations of Natural Law, as I do not believe this nor is this the example Jesus gave us).

Where Jesus overturned culture – again, from my memory – He did it in the direction of Natural Law, law that recognizes the proper ends for human beings. You don’t get much better “good” law than this.

Conclusion

Of the five topics here, it is the last one – if any – that I might pursue further. In the meantime, back to the mezze:

Meze is generally accompanied by the distilled drinks rakı, arak, ouzo, Aragh Sagi, rakia, mastika, or tsipouro.

Each of these drinks is regional – specific to a place. I always choose based on the country (or restaurant) in which I am dining. When in Rome and all that. But my go to? The one in my liquor cabinet? I am a bit ashamed to admit it, but it is the state-owned Yeni raki from Turkey. More bite than ouzo or arak, but what do you expect from Turks. Add a little water and a little ice….

All I can say is…pass the bastirma.

Be seeing you

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Tolkien, Christianity, and the State | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 22, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/tolkien-christianity-and-state

The conservative intellectual movement is having an existential crisis, of sorts. It’s one that has long been simmering but only recently thrust into the light after First Things published New York Post opinion editor Sohrab Ahmari’s attack on the failings of what he termed “French-ism.” According to Ahmari, French-ism means defending a pluralistic liberal society in which we treat our political foes with dignity and respect, despite disagreement. Conversely, Ahmari argues that Christians must abandon liberalism and use the state to crush Christianity’s enemies and “enforce our order and our orthodoxy” upon them.

A glance around at the current state of affairs makes it easy for Christian conservatives and libertarians to become disheartened and, consequently, at least sympathize with the illiberal intentions of people like Ahmari. To those frustrated with the encroaching leftist darkness, it may seem that Ahmari’s way is the only option left to them. Fortunately, as author and philologist J.R.R. Tolkien might have told us, it’s not.

The comparison between Ahmari and Tolkien is worth examining. Indeed, Tolkien wasn’t merely a vastly imaginative and adept fantasy writer. He was also a Christian thinker steeped in robust Catholic thinking — something Ahmari himself claims to be. But their ideas on what the common good looks like are wildly disparate. Unlike Ahmari, who believes the only possible manifestation of the common good is his own, Tolkien colored his work with a clear message of pluralism. The renowned trilogy The Lord of the Rings (LOTR), and even some of Tolkien’s lesser-known work such as Farmer Giles of Ham, emphasizes the need for diversity and the freedom for different groups and people to live in a way that best suits them. In real life, as in Tolkien’s fictional realms, this decentralization doesn’t lead to a perfect society, by any means. But the alternative of centralized direction by the state — as proposed by Ahmari — leads to even worse consequences, as the amount of power flawed humans have at their disposal increases.

As recently as fall 2017, Ahmari was defending liberalism. Now, sadly, he craves Tolkien’s One Ring of Power, believing it necessary to order things in accordance with his conception of the common good. In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien confronts this sort of militant belief head-on. Indeed, the wizard Saruman the White began as an agent of the good, but, gradually, he came to crave power and control. In the process, he fell in with the ranks of evil. While later attempting to sway Gandalf to join him in his alliance with the forces of darkness, Saruman tries justifying his naked power grab. “Our time is at hand: the world of Men, which we must rule,” he says. “But we must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the wise can see.” Sound familiar?

To the Sarumans of our world, people are incapable of being left to their own devices. Clearly, Ahmari now believes that a powerful hand of the state is needed to shepherd people into making correct decisions — pesky leftists who disagree simply must be crushed. A troubling and ever-increasing number of conservatives agree. Now we see hearty, open endorsements of banning payday lending, capping interest rates, and the reimposition of blue laws. All in the name of the common good.

Strangely enough, the Ahmari camp seems to think that support for freedom is condescending to the blue-collar American. In response to a recent article of mine addressing why reimposing blue laws that regulate commerce on Sundays won’t boost church attendance, Ahmari took to Twitter to claim that I look down on people who work Sundays as being “peasants.” But it’s Ahmari who sees everyday people as ignorant plebeians incapable of running their own lives. Why else propose using the power of the state to impose his vision and values upon them?

We have no evidence that if he and his ilk were somehow handed power, they’d grant the dignity of autonomy to the same people for whom they clearly have no respect now. Indeed, it would likely look frighteningly similar to the way Saruman and his lackeys treated the hobbits of the Shire after they took it over and attempted to impose upon them their conception of “the good.”

It may be that Tolkien and Ahmari’s differing views on power stem from a fundamental disagreement about the nature of good and evil on this earth.

Tolkien, for his part,believed that evil can’t be vanquished entirely — not on this earth, at least. Indeed, in his eyes, the battle against evil was nothing but a long defeat: a losing rear-guard action in a world corrupted and defiled by sin. LOTR, after all, is set in a post-collapse world in which the great powers of good are but mere shadows of their former glory. Alas, even in victory, the bad is always encroaching. In fact, later in life, Tolkien began a sequel to The Lord of the Rings entitled The New Shadow, in which, 100 years after the fact, the forces of evil and corruption once again stir.

Tolkien’s mythology echoed the Christian belief that evil will eventually gain dominion over the earth until the penultimate battle in which it’s overthrown and a new earth is created — free from the marring power of sin and evil. It’s precisely why Tolkien thinks that using the Ring of Power won’t work — limitless power only leads to further evil here on earth.

Whether he means to or not, Ahmari exudes a belief that the strength of man alone can deliver some form of temporal victory for Christians. For him, good can be established in this fallen world — no compromise necessary. But his rant against French-ism comes across as a delusional power trip comparable, one might say, to Boromir’s fantasizing on the slopes of Amon Hen about leading hosts of men to crush Mordor once he has the Ring of Power. Unlike Boromir, however, Ahmari isn’t even a mighty prince of men. He’s an editor at a tabloid newspaper.

Gandalf or Saruman? Boromir or Faramir? Denethor or Theoden — who do we wish to be? Tolkien knew this was a choice that would continually face those seeking to do what’s right.

In urging Christians to use the Ring of Power against their enemies, Ahmari is heedless of the danger it poses to themselves and others. While Ahmari may argue that fighting for control of the state is a moral necessity for Christians, thinkers like Tolkien adeptly show that far from being a Christian duty, such actions actually have the opposite effect. Christians can try to wield the Ring of Power for good, but it will inevitably lead to evil.

Be seeing you

Rationalist Judaism: The Ring of Power

 

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Mayor Pete and the Crackup of Christianity – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 18, 2019

It seems to me Pat Buchanan has resigned himself to the fact that the US is lost.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/04/patrick-j-buchanan/mayor-pete-and-the-crackup-of-christianity/

 

“(T)here is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” said Hamlet, who thereby raised some crucial questions:

Is moral truth subjective? Does it change with changing times and changing attitudes? Or is there a higher law, a permanent law, God’s law, immutable and eternal, to which man’s law should conform?

Are, for example, the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, Christian teaching and natural law unchangeable and applicable to all men at all times? Or can some of the 10 be consigned to the dumpster of antiquated moral prohibitions?

This question has been brought straight into the presidential primaries by Pete Buttigieg, breakout star of the spring of 2019.

“Mayor Pete” is proudly gay and living happily with his husband.

He says God made him the way he is, and he is living the life God intended for him. Raising the same-sex marriage issue himself, the mayor defiantly taunted Mike Pence:

“Yes, Mr. Vice President … it has moved me closer to God. … That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand: That if you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is not with me. …Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

Buttigieg declared his candidacy Sunday, and his bid ensures that America’s deepening moral divide will be front and center in 2020.

Our culture wars will not be ending anytime soon.

This weekend, General Social Survey data revealed that Americans who profess to have “no religion,” 23.1%, now exceed Catholics, our largest religion with 23%, and Evangelicals at 22.5%. And the “nones” have grown by 266% since 1991.

As for the mainstream Protestant congregations, together, they are not half as numerous as those Americans who profess no religion.

Added to our racial and ethnic diversity, America is growing more diverse religiously, de-Christianizing with all deliberate speed…

How does a nation so divided ever come together again?

How can a nation, many of whose elites are so ashamed of its history and heritage and deplorable other half — as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic … and bigoted” — credibly claim to be a shining city on a hill or a light unto the nations?

America is today as powerful, prosperous and free as any nation the world has ever seen. And we have used that wealth and freedom to create a culture and a society many of our own people and much of the world now see as dissolute and decadent.

Post-Christian America, in many ways, is beginning to mirror what we were once taught that the pre-Christian Roman Empire looked like.

Indeed, if the mayor’s lifestyle is moral, Christianity got it wrong for 20 centuries.

Be seeing you

 

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Perversion of Prayer – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 24, 2017

https://lewrockwell.com/2017/04/jim-fedako/perversion-of-prayer/

Certainly, Syria’s Assad is a vile man, as was Saddam. However, Assad also allowed, for the most part, Christians to lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and reverence. Still, American Christians scoff at such silliness. Why pray to be left alone when you should be praying for military might and world domination?

So, today, American Christians arrogantly pray for the end to Christianity in the Levant. And not a silent end, but a vicious end once Assad falls and the allies of the US (including local franchises of Al Qaeda) deliver their rage and fury on what remains of Christianity in Syria.

Christianity has been the intentionally hidden causualty in all our Middle East exploits. Like Bush II said about Christian suffering ‘you can’t have everything’.

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Will Christianity Perish? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 15, 2017

https://lewrockwell.com/2017/04/patrick-j-buchanan/will-christianity-perish/

Whatever they did for democracy, the U.S. interventions in the Middle East and the vaunted Arab Spring have proved to be pure hell for Arab Christians.

In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Christians were left alone if they did not interfere in politics. Indeed, they prospered as doctors, lawyers, journalists, academics, engineers, businessmen. A Christian, Tariq Aziz, was Saddam’s foreign minister who negotiated with Secretary of State James Baker to try to prevent what became the Gulf War.

Before 2003, there were still 800,000 Christians in Iraq. But after a decade of church bombings and murders of priests, their numbers have plummeted. When the Islamic State seized a third of Iraq, Christians under the group’s rule had to convert to Islam and pay a tax or face beheading.

Where are the gains for religious freedom and human rights to justify all the bombings, invasions and wars we have conducted in the lands from Libya to Pakistan — to justify the losses we have endured and the death and suffering we have inflicted?


Truth be told, it is in part because of us that Christianity is on its way to being exterminated in its cradle.

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