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Nothing Further Beyond

What we are looking at is not the boyhood of free thought; it is the old age and ultimate dissolution of free thought. It is vain for bishops and pious bigwigs to discuss what dreadful things will happen if wild skepticism runs its course. It has run its course. It is vain for eloquent atheists to talk of the great truths that will be revealed if once we see free thought begin. We have seen it end. It has no more questions to ask; it has questioned itself. You cannot call up any wilder vision than a city in which men ask themselves in they have any selves. You cannot fancy a more skeptical world than that in which men doubt if there is a world…If any eager freethinker now hails philosophic freedom as the dawn, he is only like the man in Mark Twain who came out wrapped in blankets to see the sun rise and was just in time to see it set.

Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton, 1908

Lately, perhaps coinciding with the publication of my Dinosaur: A Dystopian Story, I have noticed an acceleration of sorts–not just in the world, whose tempo I fully expect to continue accelerating until it can accelerate no more–but in my own private world of acquaintances and friends. All of them seem to be asking me some variation on the following question. Why is it that, although you have never been happier than you are now, your cynicism concerning the future is so horrifically bleak?

The first phrase isn’t terribly interesting to dwell upon, but I will briefly address it. I believe I am happier than ever before firstly because my brain has finally stopped growing, and consequently I now know who I am and roughly who I will be. Secondly, because I have tackled roughly 10,000 hours of serious reading and writing and have at least begun to produce the kinds of literary materials that may justify my existence. Thirdly, that in materialistic terms I have found, and can now only reduce, the amount of “stuff” capable of making me feel sufficiently entertained (indeed, if I do have a longer life ahead of me than I currently anticipate, I will probably exit the world in a state much like that of Diogenes, the philosopher who threw away his cup when he saw a child drinking with cupped palms). And fourth, that either by persistence or mere maturity, my prayer and meditation practices have truly become my primary source of joy, to the extent that I feel like I could know happiness even in a jail cell so long as I occasionally had quiet.

Now for the future, and why I feel as though my personal fate does not intersect with it.

It seems to me that human nature does not change, only human circumstances. We in the First World have done a fine job of eradicating the environment we are adapted to–and with the spread of the internet, the difference between the First World and ‘other worlds’ will soon be negligible. This is, far more-so than the absence of any particular tradition (for tradition is the byproduct of fixed circumstances), the explanation of the current age’s psychological pandemics. Which pandemic is at the forefront of the collective consciousness changes day to day, but a few that immediately come to mind are mass shooters and other sorts of suicidal attack, transgenderism aka gender dysphoria, social isolation in particular of the quite young and quite old, and (somewhat related to the penultimate example) abortion and nursing homes. One might place postmodern philosophy (if it can even be categorized as one recognizable thing) over and above them all.

In each of these examples, the commonality is rather obvious: technology has begun to rule humanity more-so than humanity rules technology. The ape’s toys have made a toy of their ape. Without putting too fine a point on it (since there is no going back, no matter how persuasive the argument), none of these ailments exist in “the real world,” the environment we are adapted for; they are all in the same genus as obesity and vitamin D deficiency–unthinkable for 99.9% of our existence, and capable of being eradicated overnight by a sufficiently large solar flare. Our current lack of values and common sense is solely due to the fact that we can currently set aside all values and common sense without immediately dying as a result. Without the coddling of modern conveniences, we would be indistinguishable from our ancestors in the blink of an eye. “Progress” requires an armchair.

It is not for me to say what should have happened, only to deal with what has happened. Such is the atmospheric perspective from which I concluded that I can never have children, for a parent is a teacher of sorts, and I do not know how to teach a game with no rules. In my case this has proven fine. The writer is a greedy sort in regards to their time and mental energy; compound that with the fact that I am an even more anemic personality than the average writer, and it seems patently obvious that it would take divine intervention to render me a passable husband or father. Others of course cannot accept this fate–but there is nothing I can do for them except offer a brotherly hug.

Nonetheless, the permanent bachelor is still a social animal, unless he possesses a private island which houses a sustainable farm. So what is my concern, if not the absence of mate and offspring? My concern is that, like Lot sojourning in Sodom, I may soon find myself intruded upon in my own home, though I wish only to be left alone and to do the same for others. When Lot’s neighbors burst into his house and attempted to rape his guests, he rebuked them. Their indignant reply was the Bronze Age comparable to saying, “Oh, so you think you’re better than us, do you?” One suspects Lot could very easily have rejoined, “In this case? You’re damn right I do.”

There are two such instances already looming overhead, either or both of which seem effectively unavoidable within the next twenty years and perhaps within the next decade.

The first is (unbelievably, in that I already need say it), the acceptance of pedophilia as “just another sexual orientation.” No, God damn it, no. I will not–I cannot–stand by while we excuse the rape of children. I don’t know how we’ll do it or precisely when we’ll do it, but I am assured that some of us will try. I have seen the Slippery Slope, but no fallacy.

The second, which is better-known to the average Westerner in the guise of fictional dystopia, is a physical tyranny. What do I mean by physical tyranny; aren’t all tyrannies physical? Oh yes, but some more than others. There is a tyranny akin to asking a demon to dwell within one’s body like a vessel, thereafter to never be freed of it in waking or sleeping or by any second-guessing or outright rebellion. It is what the tech-savvy might currently call a “permanent biometric,” a cyborg-like implant or adornment to the body, for identification, record-keeping, accounting, and tracking/surveillance purposes. Today, in the COVID era, this would most likely emerge as the expedient and universal means for “vaccine passports” or medical certificates (the quandary of lost dogs: give them something they can’t lose). However, the foundation of Western Civilization predicted some 2000 years ago that the primary purpose of such a thing would be economic:

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Revelation 13:16-17

Either of these scenarios is an absolute dealbreaker for me, and ought to be for anyone who fancies themselves to be moral or traditional or classical or conservative or moderate or libertarian or–more generally–not of the Luciferian “Evil, Be Thou My Good” crowd. Indeed, this need not be said on paper, but it need be said off paper due to the fact that drawing such a line in the sand will prove utterly inconvenient if and when it is crossed. Those who are unwilling to be inconvenienced by their values do not have any values. History proves that many persons hold values in name only. Even the apostles deserted their savior when the rooster crowed.

But why, without absolute confirmation that these things will occur, would I dwell on them or in any sense plan my future around the expectation of their occurrence? Well–setting aside the deluge of books and links that I could assemble on either topic to prove, not only that they could occur, but that they are in the process of occurringI treat them as inevitable because, philosophically, they already are so. As my epigraph quote by Chesterton explores, we have already broached the intellectual or spiritual non plus ultra (“nothing further beyond”). The only evidence of a shred of decency left within the public psyche is that we still need to make excuses for our schemes. For that is the lion’s share of what our discourse has become–the invention of convenient explanations for why the unacceptable is actually acceptable when we and ours do it, but not our enemies. If you were to cull this from the daily deluge of cable TV brainwashing, you would be left with naught but middle-aged frat boys and sorority sisters staring mindless and mute at the camera lens through inches of makeup and botox.

If a religious precept rules the world today, it is not the Ten Commandments or the Five Pillars of Islam but the little-known refrain of Thelema: “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” Which Dostoevsky had rendered decades earlier (without endorsing the sentiment) as “all is permitted.” Strangely enough, Christianity and Islam anticipated this state of affairs (as did most every classical religion), predicting it would become so serious that the entire world would at its end fall into the hands of a devil-incarnate individual (“Antichrist,” “Dajjal,” etc). I recently saw a meme; it said “The man who most resembles Lucifer will most succeed in the world.” Doubtlessly the meme was intended to be figurative, but it is rather interesting that the corpus of prophetic texts takes this literally.

Freud, Darwin, and Marx are often treated as “the usual suspects” for this state of affairs, but I find this inaccurate. Freud, though kickstarting a layman interest in psychology and the financial plenty of the modern counselor, is at most an accessory to the other two. Darwin was a good Christian who thought the Creator made changes to His creation incrementally rather than all-at-once, a not-too-difficult proposition for those who know that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Marx represents the main rarity among the group, perhaps the first total materialist since ancient Lucretius, who, believing in a vicious Darwinian (-ian being different from Darwin himself) universe, somehow still managed to be surprised that the same vicious rules apply to human economics. “Game theory” had yet to be popularized.

No, if I had to assemble the usual suspects it would be Nietzsche, Foucault and Derrida, the secular trinity of Western liberal arts. Nietzsche is the adult in the room–the other two tug at his sleeve from time to time. The apex of his thought was that, in a godless universe, mankind should invent its own meanings rather than waiting in vain for them to be given or discovered. He clarified: “there are no facts, only interpretations.” Nietzsche is famously witty and smug and difficult to translate, so the extent to which he meant these quips literally is always up for debate. Suffice it to say that Hitler, whom he accidentally inspired, and postmodern academics, whom he inspired with an unknown degree of intent, opted to take him literally. Nietzsche filled the kiddie pool with “the truth is that there is no Truth”; Foucault and Derrida swan-dived to its very bottom. The personality of Derrida escapes me, in that he fails to make much of an impression; chiefly he seems to have dedicated his life to using language to argue that all language is viciously manipulative yet simultaneously meaningless (yet he himself was neither manipulative nor meaningless?). Foucault, on the other hand, is blatant: a very clever being with some very ugly proclivities who was in need of sufficient excuses. Foucault has recently been outed as a pedophile who preyed upon the especially impoverished, but long before this was well-known, he stated that it was an honor to die from STDs “for the love of boys” (paraphrase, as I don’t feel like dignifying him with an exact quotation).

Nietzsche’s last written sentence before he went mad (recently his madness has instead been attributed to an STD), was “Dionysus, or The Crucified.” In Nietzsche’s symbolism, Dionysus is the most significant god of the Greek pantheon, and the one most related in personality to the Biblical Lucifer. With a slight squint, as the pen ink rips down the page like a gouging knife, it appears as though Nietzsche went mad at the realization that he had spent his whole life trying to escape Jesus and Satan, only to come full circle. It is also notable that he did not wish for the book he was working on at the time, The Will to Power, to be published. It was, and its title has provided postmodernism with its ultimate credo: in the absence of objective Truth, there is only the will to power–might makes right, etc.

Lately, the older liberals (meaning over the age of 30) who I discuss postmodernism with seem to have quietly disavowed these Priests of Nothingness. Yet, when I place the capstone upon the argument–the very conclusion Nietzsche came back around to–they recoil. There are many ways to put it, but the plainest might be: there is no goodness without objectivity. This is revolting to them, because it immediately brings to mind the inquisitors’ cry, that there is no such thing as a good atheist because all goodness comes from God. My proposition of course is not so hamfisted, for I know the latter to be untrue–I have seen atheists exercise greater kindness than their religious peers. I believe they misunderstand me precisely because they dwell in a conceptual universe wherein man is defacto the highest authority–that is their non plus ultra.

My position is that there is no goodness without objectivity, and God is the sole standard by which anything is rendered objective. In other words, belief in God is not the litmus test of goodness; goodness is the litmus test of belief in God. “We shall know them by their fruits.” I will take the kind atheist over the unkind believer, for “faith without action is dead,” but action without faith may be but an understated sort of faith.

Nonetheless, words matter, and exceptions do not invalidate the rule. Some individuals may manage to reach God’s objective good without knowing it is objective or godly, but civilizations rarely, if ever, do. This is simply the law of averages; everything trends towards the bell curve of mediocrity. If one wants to hit an acceptable target they must aim high; postmodernism effectively states that there is nowhere to aim. In its most recent and most deranged nuance, it is even “wrong” (a meaningless, arbitrary term by their own definition) to ask anyone to aim high, due to the fact that we are all metaphysically equal but physically unequal. In other words, any sort of standard is “bad” because some individuals will inevitably attain it easier than others. Such is the short-circuiting of compassion, the Too-Much-of-a-Good-Thing, which Chesterton and Rene Girard both rendered as “Christian values without Christ.” Nietzsche loathed pity and exulted excellence, so perhaps this is where he, like Darwin and Marx, would consider his current cultists to be a bridge too far.

Speaking of bridges, I fear I may have burned one recently, when I wrote the following to a very intelligent atheist friend.

Such is my conception of the believing man: not the one who dogmatically ascertains what awaits him, or fanatically detests what currently envelopes him, but finds his transcendent principles indispensable to his own conscience even if they lack reward here-or-there. Such is the tender little scrap that I have to offer this great maw of a subject. I love and want to be one of the ones that aspires without guarantee of attainment. Or whose decisions are informed as though they are stewarding a precious soul, however nondescript that word may be. I feel no dread of nothingness nor particular yearning for Heaven. I have always thought that if Eternity has any truck with individual human beings, then we are already in it now and probably were in it before birth—such seems the definition of the word to me…It may well be that if God wants your belief He will either have to prove Himself to you, or alter your definition of what constitutes proof. For my own part, I can confess that while I enjoy our correspondences, and writing about such topics in tales such as Wastrel and Dinosaur, in my private life I have tried my very hardest to let all of these words, all of these semantic snares and history-long arguments, go. On the days when I manage to do so, I occasionally experience a perfect peace, without exaggeration, which in my estimation of this universe is itself a miracle. Perhaps like you, with the having of ‘tendencies’ rather than overt allegiances, I have made great progress in the last few years to allow myself to trust the few fundamental matters of conscience and intuition that I harbor alone, since the opinions and strategies of others have only ever cast me into doubt and dread. The one person whose words have never led me wrong is Jesus Christ—be it due to illusion, bias, or something more. To put it as frankly as decency allows, I no longer care to be Correct—for, indeed, if we are incapable of Objectivity, then there is no such thing. All is unfixed opinion, flavors of the month, manipulations of the masses, etc. Like [my character] Peter, I am no longer at all afraid of being the last foolish, naïve ape on the space rock. Indeed I relish it, so long as being so lets me experience this peace that surpasses understanding, for I see it and find it nowhere else.

an email

I haven’t heard from this person since. I suspect the taboo sentiment herein is the utter devaluation of human intellectualism (at least philosophically) in the absence of God. And yet, sticking to the dictionary definition of words and my best comprehension of reality, that which lacks objectivity is subjective, that which is subjective is arbitrary, and that which is arbitrary is naught but monkey noises. If this is truly the state of affairs in the search for truth, then the search for truth is indeed a red herring and a waste of time. One would be better suited to take up science or drug addiction, ala Rick Sanchez.

Meanwhile, my discussions with younger leftists go roughly as follows (verbatim):

C: Epistemology is how we know what we know. Saying Objectivity aka Truth does not exist is tantamount to saying we don’t really know anything but our own asinine opinions…Basic shared truths be it 2+2=4 or “murder is wrong and should be punished” are foundational to society. Without them, given a few decades, you don’t have a society.

Anon: None of what you say is true or backed up by evidence, it’s entirely conjecture, there is no such thing as objective truth, social norms are important but the idea that they’re actually real is complete nonsense, the only reason people believed dumb shit like that in the first place is because people believed god existed.

C: “None of what you say is true.” “There is no such thing as objective truth.” Pick one.

Anon: both of those things can be right, I don’t have to pick one

C: Considering there is no objective foundation to prove/disprove anything, I will accept your Lebowskian proposition. We are just two apes with two differing opinions, everything is Will to Power, guess it just comes down to who’s stronger.

Anon: yep

C: (If we weren’t friends and this wasn’t the internet, this is when the weapons come out and the society kills itself, kiddos)

Anon: well the entire foundation of society is based on lies so people realizing that and society falling apart is par for the course

Quite the round trip.

I asked another, whom is supposedly advanced in mathematics, whether math or the laws of math are discoverable elsewhere in the universe? In other words, if another species somewhere else were to become as or more intelligent than we are, wouldn’t they draw some of the same conclusions about the mathematical logic under-girding physical reality? Answer: “No, math is axiomatic, not discoverable.”

Axiomatic: self-evident or unquestionable.

Oxford Languages

I’m giving that person the benefit of the doubt and assuming they knew I don’t expect for an alien race to “discover” the Arabic numerals or even base-ten.

I wouldn’t waste time thinking about these youngsters if they acted as defeatist as their philosophical positions inherently are. However, they have ditched God without ditching zealotry. Such youthful postmodernists are perhaps the most resentful beings who have ever lived, even though they are all products of the most prosperous time and places in history. This actually makes quite a lot of sense. If you are sold on the idea that “Reality is whatever we say it is,” only to then find aspects of Reality not to your liking, you would not be amiss to attempt to force the world into your image, rather than the mature zen of “accepting what we cannot change.” When these are the primary politicians and voters, I suspect we will witness a new guise of The Will to Power that might make even Stalin blanch.

Finally, I have reason to suspect my dealbreakers (and many, many others) will be broached sooner rather than later due to what the atheist would call intuition and what the believer would call mysticism. In short, I have since circa 2012 been visited by dreams and answers to prayers which have told me so. This is of course of little interest to the skeptic, except to add that several of these eccentric and quite detailed predictions have already come true. Indeed, only a very few remain. This moves us into the realm where you must conclude I am lying to you in order to entirely disregard these ‘hunches’–your call. I will share a few.

I had a dream that The Temple Institute–a creepy synthesis of American evangelicals and Israeli Zionists who wish to rebuild the Third Temple and recommence the Abrahamic sacrifices–would soon receive the perfect red heifer which they need in order to consecrate the new temple. Months later, they announced their perfect specimen had been born.

I had a dream that I was at a big public event, a sports stadium by the looks of it. The crowd in front of me turned around, stared, pointed, and asked “What are you doing here?” They gestured as though I was lacking something that would allow me to blend in with them and deserve to be there. Just then, the most terrible voice I have ever heard, a synthesis of beast and man, began to talk from the center of the stadium. They all turned away from me to look at the speaker with adoration. As I turned around to leave, repulsed by the speaker and its sycophantic crowd, the hallway exit was pitch black, and a glowing hand was holding itself out to me. Its palm had a great nail-hole in it. I knew I could not stay, but that to take the hand was to die. Later, I happened across a Youtube comment where a stranger had had the same exact dream. Only 1/3rd of this has come true, so far.

Something else that may be of use…I got something very powerful about a new form of social media that involves directly sharing dreams and feelings through a brain interface, where we now only share analog images and opinions. This is, apparently, to be one last indicator before things go ultimately awry. Its tagline or general gist is “Language of Love.”

Finally, without doubling the length of this already considerable verbosity, I take for a sign of the times the considerable failure of formal religion in the First World–not even on the grounds that it has lost traction to convert new souls or influence culture, but that it has rotted from within. I have examined this phenomenon formally in an essay called “Warhol and the Impersonation of Christ” (available under Deus Non Machina in my Publications page). But informally, I would take for my most recent example a certain camp here in the U.S. that has long been known to be a place where Southern Evangelical “elites” send their children. I know these people quite well–indeed it’s surprising I never attended the camp. Needless to say, some of the camp leadership have been abusing their wards in myriad ways. But that isn’t the most shocking part. No, the most shocking part is how many parents knew and either chose to stay silent, or actually TOOK BRIBES in order to stay silent. These Christians’ kids were raped at a Christian camp, and they said “please and thank you” afterwards. And while such horrific irony comes as no surprise to the nonbeliever, anyone who even harbors the faintest hope that The Church is in sync with The Holy Spirit has no choice but to despair. Thankfully, these almost incomprehensible degenerates do not at all represent the global Church–but the fact that they are even adjacent to it is sickening. (Speaking of mysticism, once while immersed among such people, teenage me prayed to the effect that I sensed something very wrong, and couldn’t understand how such evil could be palpable among the Church. The reply I heard, to my horror at the time, was “I do not know them; depart.”)

So, dear friends, you may conclude the End Times cannot be near, for no apocalyptic catastrophes are befalling us. I maintain the essential apocalyptic catastrophes of the End Times have already befallen us. And even if I am wrong, the only alternative–courtesy of Bill Gates, Ray Kurzweil, and the friends of Jeffrey Epstein writ large–is to effectively become The Borg and export our bullshit across the galaxy. No thanks!

#Cancelled: What the Center-Right is Missing

[the people’s] object is more righteous than that of the nobles, the latter wishing to oppress, while the former only desire not to be oppressed.

Machiavelli

Cancellation Online

When #cancelculture first entered the vernacular, it was perhaps only deserving of an eyeball-roll. An adult comparable to cyberbullying–where the solution was either to turn off one’s device for the day or simply refuse to apologize until the digital mob dispersed–it arguably provided a Rightwing comparable to the whiny complaints of “triggered snowflakes” on the Left. The endless fodder it lent to Rightist talking heads such as Ben Shapiro and Stephen Crowder even rendered it rather insincere–everyone needs a hobby, and complaining about affluent conservatives being #cancelled (or jeering at Lefties being “DESTROYED with FACTS and LOGIC”) was ours.

Other than a few worst-case exceptions, wherein said mob went after the #cancellee’s very livelihood by doxxing them and pressuring their employers, this state of affairs appears to have continued uninterrupted until 2018’s Alex Jones affair (here and here). In roughly a day, the internet’s most infamous Rightwing conspiracy theorist was expunged from all significant social media platforms–only his homebase at Infowars.com was left intact. In a single-stroke, the single-mindedness of Big Tech was confirmed, and with it, the defense of “Platform-Not-Publisher” was called into doubt.

Said defense, briefly, is as follows. If social media companies are platforms, they are not responsible for what individual users post, which is a great legal boon whenever content of questionable legality ends up on said platforms. If they are publishers, they are responsible for all content on their platforms. The definition becomes very murky indeed when the platform acts like a publisher by deciding to remove that which it does not like, even though that content is perfectly legal. In the common tongue, this subject is most often invoked when an average liberal defends platform #cancellation by saying, “they’re a private company; they can do what they want” (the one and only case where you will find the Left habitually defending/shilling for corporate rights).

An even simpler way to put it may be found in the statement, “Don’t love it? Leave it.” Such was the implication whenever social media companies appeared to be biased against the Right; you may not be allowed on Twitter or Facebook anymore, but you are perfectly welcome to build your own platform that will be hospitable to your views. This continued to have some validity even after Alex Jones’ and David Icke’s #cancellations; their personal websites were left up, their products available for sell, etc. It diminished the size of their soapbox in the public square, but it didn’t cut out their tongues.

However, this too was shown to be a sham during early 2021’s Parler incident (here and here). Parler was one such case of literally “not loving it and leaving it” and “building one’s own platform”; it quickly became a refugee camp for all of the center-Right that had been #cancelled off the larger platforms. When Amazon Web Services, the provider for Parler’s very website, decided with very little warning to discontinue business with Parler, the entire platform was (temporarily) relegated to Winston’s memory-hole. The message was clear. Big Tech has no intention of letting its ideological opposition build their own platforms if they can help it, and, emboldened by the refusal of incompetent or insidious U.S. leadership to enforce anti-trust / anti-monopoly laws against them (or legally define them as publishers), they no longer have any incentive to hide that fact.

Cancellation Offline

Still, one may continue to sleep well at night with the knowledge that all this drama and political pettiness is confined to the internet–right? Unfortunately, #cancellation has escaped the lab of the internet and begun to spread IRL (in real life). Indeed, it is a massive mistake to assume that such segregation between unreal and real, digital and analog, still exists in a reliable, predictable, or enforceable sense. And even if it does, it is certainly not long for this world.

Some of my favorite recent examples, other than the pulling down of monuments, are the #cancellations of Shakespeare (here and here) and Dr Seuss (here and here and here). Roald Dahl’s family also got in on the fun by self-flagellating over their cash-cow’s wrongthink (here and here), while the likes of Disney and HBO have wishy-washily began removing or at least restricting some of their classics, ranging from Peter Pan to Gone with the Wind.

The common motives shared amongst these scatter-shot #cancellations are fairly well-established. It’s usually one of two things. Either, Representation Of is being confused with Endorsement Of, or one is engaging in Presentism (judging the past by present standards). However, I do not wish to dwell overly-long on either as many center-Right pundits do, because I do not believe the cultural upheaval these varied instances indicate is merely due to such logical inconsistencies and fallacies. It appears to me that the issue at hand is infinitely larger than a mere misunderstanding.

#Cancelculture did not happen in a vacuum. Like everything else of importance, it has a history and a legacy that can be traced. In some sense it has always been with us; the devices of rhetoric to strawman and ad hominen one’s enemy are older than the ancient Greeks, and Machiavelli enshrined such political machinations in his The Prince. Acolytes and aftermaths of Marx such as the Frankfurt School and Vienna Circle were quite open about the ways in which Reality Itself must be made utterly pliable and redefinable if the revolutionary utopia is to be achieved. Nietzsche, the leftist existentialist who accidentally inspired Hitler, taught that humanity’s only “salvation” is to generate its own meaning(s)–an ahistoric and quite possibly apocalytic proposition. Saul Alinsky, political mentor to the Clinton dynasty, modernized Machiavelli in his Rules for Radicals by summarizing that the whole of politics is to A. have no rules of one’s own and B. make one’s enemy have, and live up to, their own rules. This can be witnessed in real time as shrewd Democrats politically beat clueless good-ole-boy Republicans to a bloody pulp.

Additionally, every American and European college student for the past half-century has at least been cursorily initiated into the postmodern/deconstructionist cult of Foucault and Derrida, whose teachings can be rendered roughly as this: in the godless Darwinian universe, there is no objective Truth or inherent Meaning; therefore, every attempt to proclaim or even suggest such Truth or Meaning, be it in civilizations, artworks, or language itself, is a manipulative lie–a stratagem of game theory to move bananas from one ape to another. Therefore, “salvation” is to destroy all such constructs, leaving ourselves enlightened from any such value judgements. I refer to the latter two in particular as the “Evil be thou my Good” crowd, after Milton’s Lucifer.

So, while we continue to mentally masterbate to the cheeky cleverness of Shapiros and Crowders, who snicker at the (admittedly, very many) “useful idiot” leftists who spend their whole lives effectively defending the proposition that “the truth is that there is no truth,” we are utterly missing the fact that whether they are right or wrong does not matter. Debate itself is predicated on the good-faith principle that one idea can be shown objectively superior to another. The postmodernist/deconstructionist dwells in a subjective, Lebowskian universe wherein absolutely everything is “just, like, your opinion, man.” Their credo is that of morose gods and mediocre parents: it is, because I say so. This is a mindset that quite literally cannot be reasoned with. And it is being wielded to great effect by big-brained ideologues who are more than willing to let resentful plebeians parrot such soul-destroying propaganda. These elites’ own children, of course, will never be exposed to it–or, if they are, it will only be as an opportunity to gloat at how the low IQ may be incentivized to kill themselves.

So, I humbly suggest that we stop marveling at what our postmodernist/deconstructionist neighbor or nephew or niece or cousin or child has just posted to Facebook, and start thinking about what to do when they eventually send armed thugs to our doorsteps. If you think that is not the trajectory we are currently on, it’s time to be an adult, hit pause on Netflix, and read The Gulag Archipelago. “It could never happen here” is a fallacy as bad or worse than those the far-Left have pledged allegiance to.

“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Solzhenitsyn

On Dr Seuss’s #cancel-ling

Are you worried, dear, about Doctor Seuss,
When there’s a Hunter Biden on the loose?
He’s a bagman all across the land
From swampy D.C. to old Iran
And he belongs in a pillory
Right next to Hillary
For the unencrypted emails he did type
While puffing upon his crack pipe

Are you worried, dear, about Doctor Seuss,
When there’s a Joe Biden on the loose?
When not sniffing little girls’ hair
He can be found, oh, where?
Excusing Chinese genocide cuz
Things are just different over there

Are you worried, dear, about Doctor Seuss,
When those who don’t read or write rule the roost?
You’d never trust them to babysit
But for sending teens to war they’re fit?
Their money-laundering puts the mob to shame
But for their trite speeches we give acclaim

Are you burning, dear, the Doctor’s books
Because you crave approval, and adoring looks?
Then you are the history we repeat
For we read it only by flame in the street.

-CLW

First Story of 2021 Now Available!

C.S. Lewis once said “I was with book, as woman is with child,” and writing this story has helped me understand his sentiment. While I have certainly experienced an urgency to churn out a final draft before, this project was accompanied by what I can only describe as mortal dread. There was no logical reason to ask such a morbid question, but ask it I did: will I live to finish it–and what if I don’t?! This was also the first time that I was truly able to confess to a confidant, “My characters are saying things I didn’t expect them to say.” I have heard other, better authors describe a similar mid-draft realization that they are no longer in control…Let us hope it portends the same for me.

I hope–and frankly expect–never to experience such literary dread again, because, while I undoubtedly have much room to grow in terms of writing purely entertaining stories, this is likely the most meaningful story that I can muster. On the surface, it is about a near-future, wherein a One-World Leader visits the last person alive who dares to oppose her. But, much like an iceberg, its heaviest mass lies below, in the barbs these mortal enemies trade and the ramifications of their divergent beliefs. I have often thought that fiction writers are merely philosophers who are afraid to be boring, and this piece at least proves it in my case.

I am also pleased to offer two forwards, one by the ambitious sci-fi project VivaEllipsis.com, and the other by my dear friend Professor Hoheisel. I should also add that this work–like most valuable things on Earth–was forged somewhat in tragedy. The person to whom it is dedicated, an esteemed Doctor both of medicine and of philosophy, passed away shortly after reading it. It was he who told me I was capable of, and ought to tackle these subjects, and so I did. Indeed, the last communication I ever had with him was to the effect that he was pleased by the dedication, and looked forward to discussing it in depth. I hope to hold him to that, one day.

2021 Reading List

I can’t be the only weirdo that plans out their reading ahead of time–can I?

I thought I might share my reading list for the new year, either to inadvertently suggest a few titles for you, or to prompt you to share your own.

P.S. I may only be able to begin, rather than completely finish, the longest of these sets (Library of Presidents), unless I’m willing to bump something else to ’22, which I don’t think I am.

WW1 & WW2:
The History of the First World War Commemorative Edition
History of the World War by Frank H Simonds
The Second World War by Churchill

Pre-World War Combat:
Folio Society’s Middle Ages set
The Campaigns of Napoleon by David Chandler
Bourrienne’s Memoirs of Napoleon
The Complete Josephus

USA:
Easton’s Library of Presidents set
Sandburg’s Lincoln set

Science:
The World of Mathematics by James R Newman
The Book of Popular Science set
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Diamond
The Selfish Gene & The Blind Watchmaker by Dawkins
Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman

Novels:
Thousand Cranes by Katabawa
The Ark Sakura by Abe
The Key by Tanizaki
Rashomon and Other Stories by Akutagawa
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez
Hunger by Hamsun
The Mists of Avalon by Bradley
Library of America #79, compilation of Raymond Chandler
Story of the Eye by Bataille
House of Leaves by Danielewski
Kafka on the Shore by Murakami
Snow Crash by Stephenson

P, Q, ‘Cuties’ & Weimar 2.0

In the ’90s and early 2000s, conservative politicians frequently made what was widely deemed to be a gaff, by equating homosexuality with even rarer sexual proclivities such as pedophilia. If we humor ‘gay rights,’ what’s next, they worried? (Anecdotally, this seems to be around the time that the concept of the ‘Slippery Slope’ had a word appended to its end: Fallacy). This, moderates and liberals replied with conviction, is a false equivalence; your average homosexual is no more likely to engage in pedophilia than your average heterosexual. This seemed fairly reasonable, and the case was closed.

Until the acronym ascended. LGBT. Suddenly Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals were all in the same category. Instead of remaining separate and sovereign, these ‘communities’ were all reduced to the same acronym-soup, which really just means one thing: not hetero. Thus the acronym constantly expands to absorb any sexual ‘orientation’ that doesn’t (without scientific intervention) perpetuate the species. But there is a notable exception thus-far to the acronym that only a few Twitter-verse extremists have dared to append: P.

Due to the acronym’s all-consuming, non-hetero nature, P-for-pedophile certainly fits the bill. It’s just not nearly as marketable as the others, due to the little problem of consent. This has already been worked out somewhat with the acronym MAPS: minor-attracted-persons. MAPS is an attempt to argue that just because one is born-like-this does not necessarily mean one acts-like-this. First prediction: a big feature film featuring a MAPS main character as a pitiably tragic figure persecuted by a hetero world is on the way. I give it five years max. This film will not show the character acting upon their impulse; rather, the character will be rendered heroic by some stoical refusal to act upon their impulses. A great big bow at the end will be taken–yes, I care about consent so much that I sacrificed my own sexuality out of altruism. Not a dry eye at the film festival, likely. With that Trojan Horse firmly lodged into the public subconscious (‘MAPS’ are people too!), we can then start the clock on celebratory media about actual, active pedophiles. The old Slipper Slope ‘Fallacy,’ at it again.

The reason I am so confident about this prediction is because the test-run has already occurred, in the guise of Netflix’s Cuties. This French film (ahh, those risque French, whaddaya gonna do?) directed by a black woman (so you know it’s Empowering!), is, in the director’s opinion, a Feminist coming-of-age story, wherein a young girl reconciles her independence with her strict religious upbringing via dance. So it’s a ripoff of Footloose, right? Not quite. What all of this buzzword drivel actually describes is: a squad of prepubescent girls Shaking That Ass in public and posting porn of themselves in private. If summaries are to be believed–as I don’t feel like bleaching my eyeballs just yet–this includes gratuitous closeups ala those 2000s ‘cheerleader’ movies (where airbrushed 25-year-old actresses portrayed highschoolers) and even some onscreen nudity (when it isn’t merely being implied). As a cherry on top, the film’s villain is the burka-garbed Muslim mother of the main character, who dares to try and prevent her child from being an amateur pornstar before the age of consent.

This film, ladies and gentlemen, is a shit-test (gauging How Much Shit someone will put up with before they push back). If you do not cancel your Netflix subscription now, you are all but guaranteeing that my first prediction will come true. Cliche though it may be, Life really does imitate ‘Art,’ in the sense that Hollywood & Madison Avenue are unquestionably the arbiters of what is normal or admirable in the USA. This strategy–of pushing the social boundaries to locate exactly where they are, and then deploying subtler, cleverer messaging to alter them–has played out before with fantastic success. It will be no different in this case, unless Americans decide that this particular line in the sand is immovable.

None of this should be surprising, given Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘suicide’ last year and his female pimp’s arrest this year. Searching his name, along with ‘flight logs,’ tells one everything they need to know about the opinion of the uber- rich, powerful, and famous concerning pedophilia. If you think they will not now endeavor to make their debauched pastime widely acceptable, then you are one camel short of a caravan.

It is rendered even less surprising when one considers that this powerful-pedos-run-the-world ‘theory’ (now more like the Theory of Gravity than the dictionary-definition) has always been a key tenet of ‘conspiracy theory,’ including the Q or Qanon one that gained popularity around Trump’s candidacy. Click to 1:30 at the first video below for the most official summary available, in the least amount of time possible.

The question then becomes, were all those conspiracy crackpots right, and if so, how? Did they manage to discern the terrible truths of this world before concrete evidence emerged? As a student of literature, I certainly believe this is possible. Indeed, I hope to one-day write in-depth about the literary ‘breadcrumb trail’ that may have first led conspiracists to this conclusion. However, there is a simpler, Occam’s Razor-esque explanation to the accuracy of their educated guess: they knew it was and would happen because it had already happened before.

The phenomenon of child prostitution is history’s surest warning sign that an empire is about to fall. It happened in Rome before the barbarians put them out of their misery, and it happened with great documentation in Germany’s Weimar Republic between World War 1 and 2. Indeed, few history books will admit the obvious: the decadence of the Weimar Republic is what made Nazism possible. The veterans of World War 1 returned to a ruinous and despicable motherland where the utter devaluation of their currency forced women and children into prostitution to avoid starvation. Gazing upon this, these vets, including an Austrian named Adolf, resolved to become its exact opposite, and to engage in the starkest reactionary movement possible against the culture that made it possible. Right or wrong, they looked upon Weimar’s media and finance sectors, then generously populated by Jewish immigrants, and decided that they knew who to blame. You know the rest.

Our leftists are very comfortable to continue careening towards ‘progress.’ But they are wholly underestimating the penchant society’s pendulum has for swinging in the opposite direction when it is pushed too far, too fast. Second prediction. If they continue attempting to normalize pedophilia, they will be reminded–be it by a mass movement, or just a ‘lunatic fringe’ (of mostly young men with nothing to lose) that still believe in that antiquated idea called Morality. And at that time, I suspect that I will be reminded of Thoreau’s observation: in wicked times, a man’s only place is the jail-cell or the grave.

Cancelling Netflix is the absolute least we can do. “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48).

Mandatory Vaccination

USA Today has finally let the other shoe drop, and I’d like to commend the authors (three professors of medicine, law, and bioethics) on being frank. It’s refreshing.

Defeat COVID-19 by requiring vaccination for all. It’s not un-American, it’s patriotic.

Make vaccines free, don’t allow religious or personal objections, and punish those who won’t be vaccinated. They are threatening the lives of others.

Unlike most opinion pieces today, riddled with intentional and unintentional vagueness, this one leaves me with only one question: what punishment do you have in mind? (They list a few ideas, but none that would totally contain potential spreading).

Because these professors take the example of conscientious objectors versus draft dodgers, I suppose that is where one must start. So we’re probably talking about massive fines (quarter-of-a-million) or imprisonment. Actually, considering most Americans do not nor ever will have that kind of cash on hand (especially since we’ve just nuked our economy due to this very same fear of death), imprisonment is probably the only feasible option.

So, to the professor of bioethics in particular, I would like to further narrow down the question: How is it ethical to imprison unvaccinated persons together during a pandemic? The subtext of course being that this all but guarantees they will contract C*VID19, whereas they would have otherwise been playing the odds, like every other animal during every other outbreak of anything, ever. Or, is the plan a house arrest, and if so, how would it be enforced? We are, after all, in the midst of #abolishthepolice. Are the brownshirt volunteers already organized to guard these house arrests? And how are we going to denote the homes of the deplorables? A spray-painted Star of David across the doorposts, perhaps?

But one doubts the logistics and/or bravery required to enforce house arrest, so we’re back to that insane, crazy, no-good, #cancelled Alex J*nes’s territory with his “FEMA camps will be converted into concentration camps” scenario. Boy, oh boy! Is anyone else just waiting for the 2020 alien invasion at this point? Just to clarify: assuming any such concentration or imprisonment isn’t a death camp outright (a rather generous concession at this point in the nation’s political discourse), all of the filthy unvaccinated will catch C*VID19, so the implied policy is this: If you will not let the government save you, it will do its very best to kill you instead. A nanny state worthy of Casey Anthony. And a fitting homage to Japanese internment–ostensibly permissible this time since it isn’t racial in its discrimination.

I must admit, when I wrote about the American church being wholly unprepared for persecution (and the possibility of the long awaited Mark of the Beast doubling as some vaccine/passport/business license portmanteau) last week, I wasn’t expecting such a sudden manifestation. But such is the world of the singularity, I suppose–a new reality with each morning’s dawning. So let’s get Big Picture again–and this time we’ll deal with being an American in addition to being a Christian.

When the Antichrist comes, he brings peace (albeit one eventually revealed to be false or temporary). So, right off the bat we know that anyone who does not take his Mark is going to fall prey to a Patriot Act & NDAA reasoning: if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Worded slightly differently, this simply means: go with the flow or get dashed against the rocks. It’s a kind of National Security gaslighting, wherein the citizens must convince their government that they are not a threat (guilty until proven innocent) rather than the other way around. In philosophical terms, this takes Hobbes’ Leviathan (the state as mutual protector, whom loses the right to fealty in proportion to the external harm it fails to protect its citizens from–or causes to them internally) and inverts it. The individuals whom were to be protected by their fealty must now protect the state’s interests with a self-sacrificial fealty that defeats the state’s very purpose. I would term this inversion, ‘state for its own sake.’

Somewhere in here lies the all-too-real consequences of differing ideologies that our often impotent partisan bickering has obscured over the last few decades. A significant portion of this country is and has been all but begging for a Leftwing, quasi-Marxist ‘state for its own sake,’ wherein they are perfectly content to throw out the Constitution (the mutual protection compact) so-long as doing so accomplishes the unironic utopia that they have in mind. One need only listen to them for a few minutes to gather a few things. One, they are solipsists (other people are not genuinely real to them; they simply react with others on a you-make-me-feel good, you-make-me-feel-bad basis). And two, this solipsistic lack of imagination renders them incapable of understanding the complexities of a society that is inherently comprised of self-interested individuals. In other words, it is easy for them to flippantly say, Just give everyone free food, because they can imagine themselves being gifted a lifetime supply of free food. But what they cannot possibly imagine is the incredible (indeed, currently impossible) collaboration between individuals that would be necessary to achieve such a Star-Trekian feat. Another way of summarizing them would be to say: they know what feels good, therefore they believe they know what is good as a matter of course.

Contrast this, if you would, with the classical view I attempted to sketch in the aforementioned Christianity piece. This is certainly the less feel-good of the two worldviews, for it can be summarized as:

  • the acknowledgement and acceptance of inherent pain/difficulty
  • an economics of scarcity (and indeed, the determination of value via scarcity), be it scarcity of resources, time (i.e., the realization that all flesh must die), or even talent (men are obviously not equal to one another in a literal sense)
  • a belief in Transcendence (something greater than wretched, mortal mankind) derived, not just from religious dogma, but from man’s very desire for Something More, in contrast to all other animals that are truly adapted to this environment and thus do not experience discontent within it

Christianity is firmly planted upon or rooted within this classical view. It differs from the pagan classics only in that it 1. depicts Transcendence coming down to man, instead of man (largely in vain) aspiring upwards to it & 2. in doing so, it offers a vicarious solution, wherein Transcendence gifts itself to us precisely because of our inability to perfectly grasp it ourselves.

Consequently, the political difference between these two views can be summed up in one word: Trust.

The Constitution, while not inherently Christian, at every opportunity elects the classical view: Men are fallible and corruptible, entropy and degradation are the rule rather than the exception, and, in spite of (or even because of) this, Transcendence may flourish when cultivated and guarded. This abject lack of trust in human nature is not self-flagellation, but vigilance: if we are going to lay our hands upon the Good and True, we must remain ever aware of the fact that we are not naturally good or truthful. This ‘Transcendent Cynicism’ is particularly evident in Benjamin Franklin, whom to the question of what sort of government the United States would be, famously responded:

A republic…if you can keep it.

He was the oldest of the founding fathers; indeed, compared to the others he was more a founding grandfather. He had seen more politicking as ambassador to France than many of the others put together had or ever would see (remember, quite a few of them retired from their posts back to their farms, as opposed to the current life-long bureaucrats we’ve become accustomed to). In this he was as internally balanced as his external ‘Renaissance Man’ accomplishments suggest; he was undoubtedly a hangable Liberal in his time, but he never forgot a curmudgeonly distrust for the nature of man that a classical education bequeaths. Some of the Constitutional whippersnappers were undoubtedly less cynical (the currently celebrated Hamilton being one), but nonetheless they all followed his and Jefferson’s advice about checks and balances, separation of powers, etc.

The consequence of their political distrust is this most prosperous of all nations. Yet, like all comfortable individuals or groups, our vigilance has waned. We’ve grown doughy and dull and drank a bit too much of our own Koolaid about acceptance and diversity and Being Nice at any cost. Those who have studied the fall of Rome cannot help but see similarities; it almost appears that decadent societies willfully commit collective suicide, be it out of despair or to let new mutations flourish. Personally, I cannot help but see this opinion piece as another such example, wherein three men whom have ostensibly flourished at the teat of American classical values (and two of whom likely took the classical Hippocratic Oath to do no harm) call for those very values to be trampled in favor of the State for its Own Sake.

Let me clarify that last sentence, as I fear it’s easy to miss why I so confidently assert that these professors are of the State for its Own Sake. It isn’t just because they are chucking the Constitution in favor of what’s currently in vogue among Coastal elites / the DNC. It’s because they trust the motivations of their State and themselves in this matter wholeheartedly. In other words, these men (whom are, at least in their careers, clearly capable of parsing great complexities) have here treated of an incredibly complex issue–perhaps the most complex we have faced since the Civil Rights movement–in roughly ten pithy and self-assured paragraphs. They write as though they are the God they almost certainly do not believe in. The tone of their confidence is so perfect that it at first reads as though they are totally devoid of ego (a trick of masterful rhetoric, not unlike Lucifer’s dialogue in Job). One would think that such intelligent men would approach this grim subject with a certain trepidation, perhaps even fear and trembling. But no, they have the solution and they’re here to bequeath it to the otherwise helpless plebs. This is the best evidence of their anti-classical, State for its Own Sake persuasion. The same may be seen from Marx all the way down to Alinsky: prose without compromise, concession, quandary, or, to an eerie degree, curiosity. They do not set their pen to paper until their minds are wholly made up. For them, writing is not an exploration but a declamation. A single word for this might be, simply, propaganda. (All sides of political arguments utilize propaganda as the dictionary defines it, but, as you are currently witnessing, the classical persuasion is far more likely to make concession and generally not act as though it is God’s Satan’s gift to the world).

This clinical form of persuasion puts me in mind of T.S. Eliot’s quip about the world ending with a whimper rather than a bang. It strikes me that, if some Antichrist figure were to arise in the present moment, it would most likely not be Nostradamus’s ‘great squawker Hissler’ (H*tler). That style is too militant and demanding to seduce our obese and anemic collective. No; if he were to come today his would be a voice that states with sultry bedside manner, ‘Please remain calm; there’s nothing you can do. Just leave it to the professionals.’ Certainly that is what is being asked in the USA Today piece. Stop resisting. Just do it. Be reasonable. We’re just doing our jobs. A standard-fare speech to the guards of every gulag ever.

To tie a bow on all of this mess…

  • I don’t know if the C*VID19 vaccine will actually be mandatory.
  • I don’t know if it will be based on Pasteur’s theory of antibodies, or the gene-editing of the mRNA approach.
  • I don’t know if it will be a one-and-done or endless boosters as antibodies fade and mutations form.
  • I don’t know if there is anything truly special about C*VID19, or if we’ll start mandating similar vaccine regimens for anything and everything that could possibly send human beings where they are going (the grave) a little earlier than expected.
  • I don’t know if the labs developing these vaccines are ethical and moral, profit-driven, or a mixture of both.
  • I don’t know if these vaccines are actually safe, or if we’re going to be guinea pigs for side-effects that won’t be fully understood for years to come.
  • I don’t know if taking such a vaccine is significantly less dangerous than just taking my chances with C*VID19.
  • I don’t know but that I might feel the same even if C*VID19 were considerably more fatal.
  • I don’t know if this would be THE Mark of the Beast or just a dress rehearsal (conditioning a populace to the general idea).

Here’s what I do know:

  • I don’t trust strangers or human nature in general.
  • The only entity I trust unquestionably is the Lord God Almighty.
  • I am definitely going to die, one way or another, now or later.
  • Some values are more important than prolonging a life destined to end anyway.
  • Between being ‘patriotic’ with a pulse or dead with a deity, I’ll take the latter, considering life is ‘a single page bookended by eternities…’
  • A man chooses. A slave obeys. -Andrew Ryan, Bioshock

 

 

The Last-Century Church

I. What Matter of Man Is This?

Consider Socrates. We know of his existence 2nd and 3rd hand, because he did not write down his own teachings. We can feel confident that he existed, because various independent sources confirmed him even though they disagree in other respects. But we cannot, for example, but sure that Plato’s Apology, which is written as though it is an exact reproduction of Socrates’ words, is actually a word-for-word quotation. Yet, few philosophers or historians are bothered by this uncertainty, because the gift which Socrates left us–the Socratic method–retains its power regardless of how accurately we know the man himself. Indeed, the Socratic method would remain just as relevant even if the man known as Socrates were revealed to be a fictional character.

The same is patently untrue of Jesus Christ. The relevance of Christianity depends upon Christ’s historical reality. ‘If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain,’ (1 Corinthians 15:14) summarized Paul. Jesus’ resurrection–history’s one and only instance of death itself being defeated–is the proof of his teachings. Without the resurrection, Jesus would at best be rendered a mere Buddha-lite on the philosophical scale, since he would have claimed the power to defeat sin and the wages of sin (death) for us vicariously without actually demonstrating that ability. C.S. Lewis rendered this matter definitively in Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Thus ‘belief in Christ’ is inextricable from belief in the historical reality of his resurrection. Anything else puts one in the category of Thomas Jefferson–taking a razor to the Bible to excise the miraculous passages, leaving only some tatters of ethical advice that, frankly, can be got from other, earlier sources.

I mention all of this to pose the following question. Why, if the historicity of Christ’s resurrection is crucial, do today’s theologians neglect to consider his historicity in general? By ‘in general’ I mean this. There was something about Jesus that struck a chord with many of the pagan Romans that he encountered. First, a centurion at Capernaum (Matthew 8) asked for his servant to be healed, and the way he asked it was with such decorum that Jesus ‘marveled’ that his was a greater faith than he had seen in all of Israel. Then, Pontius Pilate interviewed Christ and thereafter declined to have him executed, even though ego, peer pressure, and mere convenience said to do otherwise. Finally, a centurion at the site of the crucifixion (likely someone who had seen many a Jew hung upon a cross) was overheard to say ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God!’ I would like to pose that very few Christians today, especially in the developed world, and especially again in the United States, could even attempt to provide a historical explanation for this phenomenon, because Jesus is so rarely considered in a general, historical context by pastors or the endless churn of modern Biblical commentary books.

Here is how I would briefly attempt to answer the question. The vast majority of pre-Christian and/or non-Christian classical literature is tragic in nature and genre. Be it Mesopotamia’s Marduk and Gilgamesh, Egypt’s Isis-Osiris-Horus-Set, Greece’s Zeus and Heracles and Achilles, Hinduism’s Arjuna and Krishna, India & China & Japan’s buddhas, etc., all of them basically have the same formula (even more basic than Joseph Campbell’s summary).

  • The world is extremely hostile and painful.
  • Only a rare few (heroes) can excel in such an environment.
  • Even those rare few lose everything in the end.

To take this a step further–these stories are a summary or starting point for the philosophy of the ‘Mystery Schools,’ or the inner workings of the ancient religions themselves. This could perhaps be cursorily re-rendered as:

  • Accept the hostility, pain, and transience of the world.
  • Become a hero (aka, the exception to mediocrity/normalcy).
  • Those who do so reap a reward for doing so outside of the world/after death.

The latter step is often lampooned by atheism as both unprovable and immoral, since to the untrained ear it sounds as though one is being told: ‘be moral in return for cash and prizes.’ However, anyone who studies the Mystery Schools for long, and in particular the people they were known to produce, comes to suspect that this cause and effect are inseparable. In other words, there is no room here for disingenuously doing good, because the ‘reward’ for doing this good involves, or is primarily about, becoming good. Summarized in a phrase, the reward sought by the Mystery School is a ‘spiritual evolution.’

From this one can determine that most every culture before a certain date thought:

  • The world is inherently tragic
  • And there is something very wrong with us that needs to be fixed/improved.

(Those fringe groups that disagreed with these points and instead, looking at man’s existential situation, concluded ‘I see nothing wrong here,’ were considered devil-worshippers and deviants.)

Their solution to the world’s tragedy and man’s flaws?

  • Try very hard to fix yourself.

This was, to say the least, found wanting, although the Mystery Schools and their broader religions saw no present alternative. Thus even Judaism’s King Solomon–blessed (?) by God to be the Wisest Man in the World–penned Ecclesiastes, perhaps the most depressing book in the world, whose recurring refrain is:

Everything is meaningless!

Now consider the three Magi whom followed the Star of Bethlehem and (eventually) found the young Jesus. They were, though lesser than Solomon, arguably in the same philosophical boat. They had trained all of their lives to transcend the tragedy of existence and attain the awaited ‘spiritual evolution.’ Yet one strongly suspects that none of them felt they had actually succeeded in doing so. Then one day, the stars told them something that had never been told before. How to render what they ‘read’ in the sky likely requires a better mastery of astrology and Zoroastrianism than I have, but I imagine it was roughly this:

  • An exception to the tragedy of the world, and the imperfection of men, has arrived.

And this, I would argue, is precisely Christ’s general historicity. He is The Exception in Mankind’s Story. Note: Mankind’s Story is accurate, and he is an Exception to it. An exception does not invalidate a rule, unless the rule states that it cannot be excepted. Indeed, if Christ were not the Exception to a verifiable status quo, he would not be significant. To recognize The Savior is to recognize that the world needs saving.

To be fair, current Christian theology often skirts this theme with the idea of Faith versus Works salvation, and it is possible that some pastors take care to note that every spiritual-religious tactic before Jesus Christ was Works-based. But on the whole, I feel that the developed/American church has so frail of a grasp upon the classical world (both the world before and during Christ’s lifetime) that this fine point is rather easy to miss. And my evidence for this missed point is unfortunately far more than mere conjecture.

II. Who Do We Think We Are?

The legacy of Christ’s disciples and the 1st century church is of faith during persecution. Of Christ’s 12 disciples, only one did not die tragically as a direct result of association with him: John, the author of Revelation (we’ll get back to him). Other, regular believers met their end at the Roman coliseum in its now unimaginably gory games. The three Apostolic Fathers, men who were ordained by Christ’s apostles to great effect, were:

  • Polycarp…burned at the stake
  • Clement I…drowned at sea
  • Ignatius of Antioch…fed to lions

This legacy continues unabated to this day in the undeveloped and developing worlds. Christ predicted numerous times that this would be the case, even summarizing his call to salvation fatally as “Pick up your cross and follow me.” So, if anything were capable of surprising Christ about his own church, it would arguably be that some portion of it would enjoy a period in the absence of persecution.

If the world is tragic, and man is imperfect, and Christ is The Exception to the status quo of mankind’s world, then it stands to reason that Christ’s followers will be persecuted as an aberration. One might even say that a Christian’s mundane existence ought to be more tragic than that of nonbelievers, in the same way that a Christian’s transcendent existence is far richer, since they have already been granted the ‘spiritual evolution’ through faith in Christ rather than paganism’s works.

Thus, a lack of persecution is actually a troubling sign. It signals that a portion of the Church has come back into alignment with the world to the extent that the world no longer finds it overtly abhorrent. This concern reaches a fever pitch when we consider that the Bible calls Satan ‘the god of this world’ (2 Corinthians 4:4) and does not appear to contradict the validity of this offer (Matthew 4):

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Yet, American Christianity has become downright notorious for:

  • its insulation from persecution
  • the great expense of its campuses (indeed, the conflation of physical buildings with the metaphysical Church)
  • the hefty salaries of its staff, sometimes comparable to or exceeding the private sector
  • cramming donuts and coffee down one’s throat before worshipping, then rushing out to lunch after worshipping
  • Irreverence during worship such as gossiping with fellow believers
  • Displays of monetary or sexual status upon the guise of ‘dressing up for church’
  • Nationalism (flags upon the dais as though God is on America’s side, rather than the other way around)
  • selective legalism, wherein homosexuality is wrong but divorce is fine, etc
  • the extremity of the ‘Health & Weath’ gospel, as though our homeless carpenter-messiah wants you to have two vacation homes and a luxury sedan
  • the insidious subtlety of ‘Optimism with a side of Jesus’ theology, wherein believers are taught to always look on the temporal bright side…while living in the world ruled by Satan

Thus I am forced to conclude that the American church has perfected the art of having Too Much of a Good Thing. We have managed to reduce the sacredness of John 3:16 to a trite meme, wherein–because we have “fire insurance”–everything is rendered fine and dandy, and we’re free to frolic like puppies through fields of wheat and StAcK tHaT cAsH mOnEy. We then have the audacity to wonder why young Americans are no longer interested in going to church. It’s because our churches aren’t particularly different from anywhere else in the country–excepting that their entertainment factor isn’t really up to snuff, and the wifi’s a bit slower.

This leads me to ponder what would happen if the Mark of the Beast came on the scene tomorrow. The excuses for taking it are obviously going to be colossal. If none may buy or sell without it, then refusing it will initially result in becoming socially marooned, with the tools and calories at one’s immediate disposal constituting one’s only options. For Americans, this will likely be the first time they’ve experienced such a thing. In this existential paralysis, the fear of death will onset. Suddenly people who suspect to varying degrees that God wants them to be happy here on earth will realize that their faith is about to get them killed. Not just they but their family members may starve or be murdered if they do not take it. All of their neighbors are taking it. Everyone on social media is taking it. Some of their church friends are taking it. Maybe even their pastor is telling them to take it. The Rapture hasn’t happened yet, so this can’t be It? God wants the best for you–‘plans to prosper and not to harm’? Etc.

Of course, some theologians attempt to write off John’s eschatological prophecies as symbolic of his own time…but that does nothing to eliminate all of the other Biblical portions, including the Red Letters themselves (Matthew 24), that deal with the massive persecution of believers during the End Times. To say that the American church is in danger of getting caught with its pants down (‘like a thief in the night’) seems an audacious understatement. In fact–how many American Christians even know Revelation well enough to recognize its signs if they were to occur? How many pastors have been crystal-clear that:

  • An Antichrist will take Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and declare himself to be God
  • He will compel all to take his ‘Mark of the Beast’
  • Those who do not take it will die or be killed as a consequence
  • Jesus has not returned unless it is in the heavens with an angel-army and reality-rending terror upon earth (anything else is an impersonation)

…much less the other relevant details of John’s visions?

Brothers, sisters…The entire world was just ‘shut down’ for the first time in history. ‘Smart tattoos‘ or ‘drawn-on-skin technology‘ are about to be the new Must Have accessory. There is talk that a gene-editing (mRNA) C*VID19 vaccine should be a mark so as to easily attest to immunity. Microsoft has patented ‘060606‘ for cryptocurrency payments based on body activity.  Elon Musk thinks we have just five years until Artificial Intelligence begins warping reality beyond human control. His solution is Neuralink–inserting a chip into the brain to become symbiotic with A.I. None of these things definitively spell ‘Mark of the Beast’ yet, but they sure do rhyme. I recommend making your decision now before necessity forces it upon you. It is not unreasonable to plan for the eventuality that you are the Last-Century Church.

If you are not a believer and instinctively recognize what is being said here, please follow these tried and true instructions (Romans 10), then share them with those who will listen:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

 

NMAAHC & The Pendulum

I was recently amused to learn that Washington D.C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has taken it upon themselves to define ‘whiteness. My first thought was, surprisingly, from the leftist parlance: cultural appropriation. My next thought: Please tell me no Anglo-Saxon-themed museum has responded to this by defining ‘blackness.’ Yet, however ill-conceived or ill-fated this attempt to define may prove, my knee-jerk reaction to it was ultimately unbefitting of the attempt’s gravity. Like individuals in Sherlock’s presence, a great deal of useful information can be extrapolated from them, despite the fact that it is not the information they hoped to convey.

Perhaps the most visceral part of the definition, a graphic titled ‘Aspects and Assumptions of White Culture in the United States,’ has very recently been removed. Thankfully, I had a suspicion that this might occur, so I saved it in order to reproduce it here under Fair Use. You may find it at the end of this post.

To summarize that graphic, it defines the main aspects of whiteness as: individualism, the nuclear family, the Scientific Method, Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian/European culture, Protestant work ethic, and (paraphrasing to condense) capitalist ambition/competition.

Despite the fact that there is nothing controversial or surprising within these aspects, I found myself having to re-read them several times. After all, I was not reading a web page by a white supremacist group–this was produced by an organization rather the opposite (one hopes, anyway). So why, when I was expecting to be chastised or at least criticized for my ‘whiteness,’ was I being complimented at every turn? I considered and quickly ruled out that I was being patronized. No, the authors are quite sincere. The plain fact of it is that the NMAAHC meant for me to feel critiqued by these aspects. To them, these aspects are insults. Cue Led Zeppelin’s ‘Communication Breakdown.’

Rather than laud any of these aspects–seeing as how they have already been so thoroughly explained and defended in Tarnas’s Passion of the Western Mind, Pontynen and Miller’s Western Culture at the American Crossroads, and (less intellectually but more viscerally) in the cultural triptych formed by the King James Bible, the Complete Shakespeare, and the Lives of Plutarch–I would like to briefly dwell on their opposite or alternative. I would render this list as: collectivist, unscientific, anti-work and/or anti-goal-oriented, pagan, socialistic, no emphasis on the value of time in accordance with its finite nature (RIP supply & demand), group AKA mob or vigilante ‘justice,’ and devoid of logico-literary-communication.

Now, perhaps it is just me, but when I stare at the list of anti-‘whiteness’ aspects we’ve just constructed, it seems to me that we have merely described the Bronze Age. Now, I have nothing against that Age objectively. Subjectively I would only return to it kicking and screaming. But objectively I suppose I’m glad it happened, what with the linearity of time. I’m not going to dwell on this Bronze Age issue much more, because I don’t want to strawman the NMAAHC by pretending they are calling for the opposite of their ‘whiteness.’ Certainly they are not, because by their own definition of ‘whiteness,’ American museums themselves are arguably a product of ‘whiteness’, and thus they as an institution would have to disband in order to accomplish their own strawman-goal. Since they have not, we may assume that is not their goal (unless they are blatant hypocrites).

None-the-less, the fact remains that they are either:

  • passive-aggressively critiquing the aspects of ‘whiteness’ without providing viable alternatives
  • or, implying the alternatives to ‘whiteness’ by defining ‘whiteness’ and leaving one to imagine its opposites as we just have.

In the first case, they would effectively be those pseudo-revolutionaries who know how to destroy with no intention or ingenuity to create afterwards. In the second case, they would be akin to what I can only render as Rousseauian primitivists–viewing the Bronze Age as more romantic than the USA’s present situation, while lacking the character to voluntarily abandon their present situation ala the Amish, or Chris McCandless, or immigration to another country closer to their ideal. I will go no further in psychoanalyzing them, since it is impossible to narrow down which option is more likely from afar.

Besides, these two possibilities are roughly comparable in the following sense. The first is like a petulant child that breaks but cannot fix; the second is like a petulant child that dreams but will not do. Both, in adults, are states of spiritual dwarfism, reeking of the resentment that Nietzsche lampooned as:

You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue.

Actually, pagan Nietzsche perhaps doesn’t go far enough. I believe there is another quote more consistent with the latent resentfulness herein, when one considers the absolute havoc that would portend a Bronze Age-ified United States:

So farewel Hope, and with Hope farewel Fear,

Farewel Remorse: all Good to me is lost;

Evil be thou my Good…

That, of course, is Milton’s Lucifer speaking.

It dawns on me that this is probably why the political pendulum is never static for long. The Rightwing in power becomes a trite broken record, fretting over how to endlessly Conserve values when those values have no valid threats. The Leftwing, on the other hand, develops a moral panic or maladaptive perfectionism that ultimately eats itself, because Progress’ing eventually becomes the sole value, even when it calls for Progress’ing away from crucial victories already attained. Thus those who wholly depend upon and exist by virtue of, say, free markets or scientific methodology or Justice Systems (Hobbes’ Leviathan?), come to feel very clever indeed when critiquing those things as though they can do better, without having demonstrated even the slightest evidence that they can in fact do so. This is perhaps, as the Brits say, on the tin, since ‘Critical Theory’ suggests the pitiable state of being a critic

Critic. n.

A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.

-Bierce, Devil’s Dictionary

In parting, I would like to concede the following.

1. I do not believe that the presence of melanin or lack-thereof can actually/literally/Objectively be assigned any metaphysical quality. In other words, in the same way that I do not believe a black Labrador has ‘blackness’ beyond the fact that it is colored black, or that a white Labrador has ‘whiteness’ beyond that fact that it is colored white, I do not believe that much of anything is conveyed by the coloration of human beings beyond the utility of ‘look at that white guy over there’ or ‘look at that black guy over there.’

2. Insomuch as one disagrees with #1, I consider one to be bigoted, regardless of what coloration they are pretending to elaborate upon.

3. However, insomuch as the NMAAHC’s description of ‘whiteness’ could be accurate if they were correct–I would admittedly be proud to have or be that ‘whiteness.’

4. Yet, seeing as how this ‘whiteness’ is obviously a metaphysical construct separate from mere unalterable coloration, one must concede that these are qualities any person could potentially possess, meaning it is a matter of character rather than ‘race,’ and thus should not be called ‘whiteness’ (unless one wishes to reference the Biblical use of whiteness as symbolic of innocence and/or redemption).

5. Insomuch as the NMAAHC has made any person whom is not ‘racially’ white feel that they are disqualified or less qualified to achieve the aforementioned characteristics of ‘whiteness,’ I consider them to be a net negative upon humanity that ought to cry themselves to sleep each night in shame.

6. This recent collective resurgence of racial obsession is just a byproduct of the economic ruination caused by the coronavirus lockdown. Per historical norms, the lower classes are beginning to blame and scapegoat one another for the ruin brought upon them by their upperclass overlords. Insomuch as anyone perpetuates this blame-game, I find it stunning and regrettable that you were the quickest sperm.

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