MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Gilbert K. Chesterton’

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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bionic mosquito: Plain Thinking

Posted by M. C. on July 22, 2020

Men are fallen, and will remain fallen. That is a right view of the human lot. All fall short of whatever standard of “good” a man of integrity can offer. The rioters demand that we purge all sin from man – taking on a wrong view of the human lot.

Jesus demonstrated love. Yes, He washed Peter’s feet; he also called him Satan. This was love.

https://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2020/07/plain-thinking.html

Plain Thinking

…a little plain thinking would teach them how harsh and fanciful are the mass of their own ethics…

Heretics, Gilbert K. Chesterton (eBook)

Harsh and fanciful. A nice description of the “ethics” we are having shoved down our throats. Nothing of love, nothing of understanding the human condition, nothing or man’s right – true rights of life and property.

…how very civilized and very complicated must be the brain of the Tolstoyan who really believes it to be evil to love one’s country and wicked to strike a blow.

To love one’s country. An interesting phrase. To understand the phrase, one must understand what is meant by “love” and what is meant by “country.”

Love. Love is doing; it is action. Also, we all know 1 Corinthians 13, read at many weddings. It offers the feel-good part of love. Just one verse, to not make too long a cite:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

The entire tone is like this. It is really…lovely. Aspirational. An ideal at which to aim. But love is so much more:

Proverbs 3: 11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Hebrews 12 cites these verses from Proverbs, then continues:

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.

If you are not disciplined, you are not loved. Love entails disciplining, rebuking. Love holds to account. To love one’s country is not “my country, right or wrong.” There is no disciplining here, no rebuke.

What of country?

A country is a political state, nation, or controlled territory. It is often referred to as the land of an individual’s birth, residence, or citizenship.

A country may be an independent sovereign state or part of a larger state….

The word originates from the French:

mid-13c., “(one’s) native land;” c. 1300, “any geographic area,” sometimes with implications of political organization, from Old French contree, cuntrede “region, district, country,”

While today it is generally assumed to be synonymous with a political entity (a state), this has not always been true – and is not even true today. Examples today include:

The Kingdom of the Netherlands includes four separate countries: Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten.

The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The Crown Dependencies, which are not part of the UK itself, are also sometimes referred to as countries.

The Kingdom of Denmark includes three separate countries: Denmark, Faroe Islands, and Greenland.

There are others. “Country” holds a much more cultural and regional connotation than it does a political connotation. Country does not mean government; it does not mean state. I may love my country and feel animosity toward the institutions that have formal governance responsibility over it. Sounds about right.

Putting all of this together, to love one’s country involves acting with goodwill (including holding to account) toward those with whom you share cultural characteristics and regional ties. In this case, one can understand the evil in those who do not love country.

Returning to Chesterton:

A man approaches, wearing sandals and simple raiment, a raw tomato held firmly in his right hand, and says, “The affections of family and country alike are hindrances to the fuller development of human love;” but the plain thinker will only answer him, with a wonder not untinged with admiration, “What a great deal of trouble you must have taken in order to feel like that.”

Chesterton then contrasts the high living from the plain thinking that is the result of thinking like this:

High living will reject the tomato. Plain thinking will equally decisively reject the idea of the invariable sinfulness of war.

I had much trouble with this until I worked through a proper meaning of loving one’s country. In defense of one’s country, war is not invariably sinful. In defense of one’s state? Virtually always; at least given the historic examples we have where “defense” really meant “offense.”

High living will convince us that nothing is more materialistic than to despise a pleasure as purely material. And plain thinking will convince us that nothing is more materialistic than to reserve our horror chiefly for material wounds.

Material wounds in defense of one’s country are minor horrors for those who love their country. Losing that which one loves is a much greater horror.

Conclusion

In this matter, then, as in all the other matters treated in this book, our main conclusion is that it is a fundamental point of view, a philosophy or religion which is needed, and not any change in habit or social routine.

We live in a story, a narrative: “a fundamental point of view, a philosophy or religion.” This is what makes a country, and it is this which one can love: embrace, discipline, rebuke, defend to the point of war.

The things we need most for immediate practical purposes are all abstractions. We need a right view of the human lot, a right view of the human society….

Men are fallen, and will remain fallen. That is a right view of the human lot. All fall short of whatever standard of “good” a man of integrity can offer. The rioters demand that we purge all sin from man – taking on a wrong view of the human lot.

Jesus demonstrated love. Yes, He washed Peter’s feet; he also called him Satan. This was love.

Epilogue

Chesterton concludes this chapter with a thought quite appropriate for today:

Men take thought and ponder rationalistically, touching remote things—things that only theoretically matter, such as the transit of Venus. But only at their peril can men rationalize about so practical a matter as health.

We are pondering too much about our health right now. It is perilous.

Posted by bionic mosquito

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