Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Christmas Holiday 2018 …

Wishing and praying for a Very Merry Christmas for all my friends and acquaintances (and apparently a 100 or so followers and a few dozen other daily search engine hits).

Really small potatoes on the scale of things on the web, where The Donald gets thousands of hits with a poorly thought out ten word tweet, sigh, everyone is a one hit wonder these days.

I do hope that your Christmas has so far been as peaceful and blessed as ours has been here among the western frozen chosen … the happy (Any Small Town, Flyover Country ) Bagginses of the Plains.

Currently listening to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRXrqURyRy0 which is 3 hours of easy listening Christmas themed musical compilation. I also que up my Netflix fireplace video.

These are the best kind of fireplace really, which I can display on my 60″ flat screen monstrosity in the “living” room giving me all the esthetic benefits, sight and sound, of a cheerful fireplace scene with none of the downsides attendant in cutting wood, and smoke, and cleaning up the incessant ash piles, and the inevitable buildup in the chimney.

After the steady grind of a less than stellar year with many deaths, illnesses, and sufferings amongst folks we know and also some we don’t know but rather know of,  we here ended up having one of the best Christmases I can remember.

Our latest “Annus Horribilus”  ended with an excellent Christmas season both in the business and in the family. We celebrated Christmas Day with a gathering of family and feasted on a turkey and trimmings very nearly as large as the one in the Rockwell painting at the side. Our youngest family member is now coming up to 24 years old so we were spared the happy chaos of youngsters rowdily enjoying their holiday festivities.

Except for a short visit with other relates in our nation’s capital via Facetime, things were mercifully quiet and restrained here. We enjoyed much quiet commentary on the quality of the meal, the perfect turkey, the nice music and how mild the weather has been this year and how enjoyable everything was. Ironically, my vision of Christmas was for many years something along the lines of the song by The Chieftains – “St. Stephen’s Day Murders” featuring Elvis Costello.

These days my Christmas is more along the lines of this offering by Yo-Yo Ma, and Alison Krauss performing “The Wexford Carol”,   or, this song, written and sung by Jackson Browne, “On The Side of the Rebel Jesus”. If we seriously lived the revolutionary teachings of Jesus Christ, it would be a different world … I love this take on the Holy Season … living in a thoroughly pagan society, and heartsick at the suffering that flourishes everywhere in our nominally christian, capitalist countries. The numbers of homeless and hungry, victimized and disenfranchised powerless little people in both Canada and the US should be a source of shame to every person but instead … well, “I’m all right Jack.

Today is our fourth consecutive day off courtesy of Christmas falling in the middle of the week and a very welcome break it is having been limited to two days off at a stretch for most of the previous 8 years. It is overcast and snowing ever so lightly now and not too cold, a nice mild -15 degrees Celsius, which around these parts is almost shorts and sandals weather.

INGSOC logo from 1984

INGSOC logo from 1984

You probably know that I read a lot of blogs. There’s a lot of good, provocative, and perceptive writing going on in the blogosphere now. I wish I had the time to read everything.

Of course, blogs, like all things resulting from human activity, are subject to Sturgeon’s law, that of being 90% crap, and many who try to blog either become bored and quit, or have little to say which would be of interest to anyone other than their immediate circle of friends (a sort of “Facebook” post writ large).

But with so many people trying, even among the residual 10% of non-crap there are now thousands of people writing good content. And some of that good content I have alluded to in previous posts, most recently on the unlikelihood of any sort of cultural reform going forward in our society, and the stark reality of the passing of Christendom.

These days, most of what passes for entertainment falls into the twin categories of Dystopian fiction, or thinly disguised, and often not so thinly disguised, pornography.

Observed at arms length, we as a society, revel in blood, oppression, violence and sex of various colors and species in all our imaginary distractions.

And most dystopian fiction of the last 70 years or so centres around the eventuation of a godless totalitarian state enforcing draconian social control measures to limit and control the proles, the “citizens” and fashioning those organic resources into a more or less compliant state asset for the realization of inhuman objectives to “protect us for our own good”.

I am in mind of “That Hideous Strength”“1984” or “Soylent Green” or “Logan’s Run”,  or “The Omega Man”, or the more recent remake “I Am Legend” with Will Smith in the lead role, and others really too numerous to list here. it seems to be a frequently recurring theme in literature, film and most recently in online MMOGs.

I have referenced Wikipedia links for information on the above stories and movies with a very precise objective in mind. They often have good information but in using the Wiki one must always keep in mind their obvious, and very thorough Atheistic bias in going to great lengths to  Bulverize any reference to the divine in their information items.

The Wiki is perhaps one of the most obvious poster children for the “Material Naturalist” world view. I wrote at length about that world view and it’s goals and ambitions here and here. Those posts might provide an interesting backgrounder to why we are now living in a real life dystopean drama.

All the heroes in these modern religious myths are always Lone Wolf protagonists who rise up and take action against the monolithic state apparatus, by use of violence and subversion, and the mass audience for this product are the very people who are currently the “oppressed proles” in our current “dystopean” society.

One of my recent posts details why there will never be a real life uprising along the lines of all the admittedly entertaining fictional alternate realities with which our current crop of “bread and circus” addicts distract themselves.

The primary plank of the Material Naturalist world view is that there is no God, that everything in the universe is purely and simply the result of random biochemical processes and survival of the fittest, according to the so-called “Theory of Evolution” courtesy of the Universal Church of Charles Darwin.

There is no God, we are all an accident of evolution, there is no point to anything except return on investment, no moral values, no virtues, no good or evil outside the context of profit and power. Everything which we perceive is the result of random chance working on the basic inorganic constituents of the observable universe, and when we die that’s it, that’s all she wrote.

There is no soul, nothing spiritual, no intrinsic value in any human life beyond the market value of our chemical constituents and/or the possible net positive value we can add to the economy by our efforts during our lifetime, said lifetime to be optimized in relation to our productivity.

And beyond this world, relating to the unimaginably complex and numerous possibilities of “randomness”, there is the assumed but undiscovered possibility of endless numbers of more or less evolved “aliens” also living the same pointless random existence.

And the possibility of  “intelligent life” (i.e. creatures who could appreciate Bach)  is unquestioned … BUT, “real science” would say otherwise. I “borrowed” the next few paragraphs from a David Warren post from 2014 titled “Stardust”.

“For if life truly “evolves” by happenstance, as the Darwinoids do vainly preach, something approaching to human smarts would have appeared here and there many millions of years before us, wherever conditions were favourable. Indeed, given the speed at which humans suddenly “evolved” here, we could ourselves have appeared on Earth, millions of years before we actually did.

David Warren

David Warren

We are extremely recent, in geological terms; have been here less than a second, if the history of the planet were scaled down to one day. We’ve come a fair technological distance ourselves, since the last Earth ice age, a mere twelve thousand years ago, and the pace appears to be accelerating. Imagine what we could do given, oh, another million years, or hundred million. I daresay we’d finally figure how to get out and about.

The Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi, did this thought experiment before 1950. He realized that we did not need expensive, incredibly sophisticated tools, to detect extraterrestrial life. If it was there, it would already have got here.

He reasoned that, even if it could not defeat lightspeed, a sufficiently advanced material culture could send self-reproducing probes to colonize its home galaxy in a blink of exogeological time, then leapfrog galaxy to galaxy in all directions. It would transmit messages that could not be missed.

Any mathematical extrapolation of the number of planets in the universe that could, possibly, “evolve” life, is defeated by Fermi’s Paradox. The more possibilities there are, the less likely it has ever happened.

But of course, physics advances, and we now have a second indefatigable argument against ET. It developed from the “anthropic principle” in cosmology, which holds, tautologically enough, that the structure or “design” of the universe must be compatible with the existence of the conscious sapient creatures who observe it from within. (We would be they.)

Over the last few decades we have come to understand that life on earth absolutely depends on such an extraordinary number of extremely fine conditions, operating together at levels of coincidence that so stretch the odds, that the chance of finding another inhabited planet — even within something so large as our universe in space and time — is inconsiderably remote.

Jesus Christ, AD 30

Jesus Christ, AD 30

Or to put this another way, it appears dead obvious that the purpose of the universe was to make us possible. It would follow that our lives must be in some strange way — beyond any passing subjective enthusiasm — worth living. For Someone went to a lot of trouble to put us here.”

The Real Hero of OUR dystopean drama already rose up more than two millennia ago. The Rebel Jesus spread revolutionary teachings against the values, powers and things of the material world, the things that mattered a great deal to the authorities of His day. And they murdered Him, though there was “no crime in Him”, as Pilot declared. And the Light shone in the darkness and the darkness knew Him not.

Of all the works done by God in time and outside of Himself, the redemptive Incarnation of the Word is the greatest. Always we must be remembering that the vast universe which the materialists are so impressed with as “all there is” was formed in an instant in a “nothing” that GOD Himself had to create by withdrawing some tiny portion of his timeless Presence.

A Presence without beginning and without end drew back a portion of Himself and within that new “nothing” He created time and the material universe and all that developed in it after the Big Bang.

The Incarnation of the Word is the greatest work because it has for an end not a mere creature, however sublime and unrepeatable by man that may be, but GOD Himself, the eternal Word who, in time, assumed a human nature and a material human body in this  material universe.

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Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

It is the greatest work because it is the supreme manifestation of the merciful love of GOD, and the work which above all others glorifies Him; and it glorifies Him precisely in reference to charity, that is love, which is His very essence. It is also the greatest of His works because of the immense good it brings to all mankind. The salvation, sanctification, and eternal happiness of the whole human race depends wholly upon the Incarnation of the Word, upon Jesus, the Incarnate Word.   (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy” Meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 80).

*****

God the Father “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, (before time existed) that we should be holy and unspotted. … Who hath predestined us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto Himself. … In whom we have redemption … the remission of sins according to the riches of His grace. … GOD hath quickened us together in Christ … and hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus.” ( letter of Paul to the Ephesians 1, 4.5.7 – 2.5.6)

*****

Unlike the important things of this world GOD’s greatest work takes place in obscurity and silence, and under the most humble and most human conditions. Mary and Joseph are forced by civil authority to leave their humble home and to undertake a long journey. They travel on foot like the rest of the poor, in spite of Mary’s advanced pregnancy. They do not object and they make no complaint, but obey with promptness and simplicity. They are commanded by a pagan emperor, and they go, trusting in GOD’s Providence; GOD knows, GOD will provide; “To them that love GOD all things work together unto good.” (Rom 8, 28).

It is GOD’s will that His greatest work be accomplished here, in a wretched stable, in utter poverty, and Mary and Joseph embrace His will. They are humble and therefore docile to the will of GOD with complete humility. And GOD, as is His custom, made use of what was humble and despicable in the eyes of the world to accomplish the greatest of His works: the Incarnation of the Word.

And the winds do howl, and the waters roughen, and Christ, the Incarnate Word, has come and is always coming. It is something to think about, for no matter how you look at it — whether you are a traditional Christian (there can be no other kind), or  a perfectly conventional, orthodox material Narcissist — the message of Christmas is not, never was, and by its meaning never will be, “all about us.”  It is all about everything that is not us, as the Lord said to St. Catherine of Sienna, “I am GOD, You are not”, and that GOD loves us all with an absolute everlasting LOVE … He loved us from before time was and will love us so for all of eternity. So Trust Him … and come home, to the Father who loves you no matter what.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…

Cheers

Joe

This Too Shall PassAlways remember, “be charitable in your judgements, never take yourself too seriously” and of course, the ever relevant “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

Sometimes when I post, I look at my sig and wish that I’d follow my own damned advice.

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The Inner Struggle

God … Christmas … Peace

A Dhia Ghleigil, Oh Glorious God”, Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstall Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube (Voice From The Cloud)” (1996)

Dan Jurac Fine Art Photo of Hoar Frost_DSC2972_

Hoar Frost Sunrise – Dan Jurac

Now it’s snowing very lightly and bright sun – sun flurry? Pretty, were it not for having to clear it away regularly – 6 inches in the last 2 days, white Christmas and all,  -26 Celsius, light wind. All the world about me waiting breathless in frozen anticipation of rebirth. Maybe if we didn’t have winter and rebirth and summer we would not have these thoughts, conceived on a cold winter morning in a comfortable chair over a good hot cup of coffee, beside a warm stove. Reading Frank Sheed’s “Theology for Beginners” which informs my thoughts on “Spirit” today.

Best Christmas Day in years – surprised – was very depressed for weeks coming into Christmas and now everything is looking good. Christmas miracle? My thoughts this Christmas are focused on “Spirit”. The “Spirit” of Christmas, the “spirit” of love, the “spirit of “Peace” and a “spirit” of “Goodwill”. The spirit which animates us, our immortal soul.

Our soul is spirit, designed from all eternity to be in and with God. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; ” Jeremiah 1:5.  Without this soul/spirit we are nothing but a small pile of rotting offal. All animation, all creativity, all beauty, all quality, all selflessness, all thought, all action, all peace, and all fear, all comes out of the animating presence of our soul/spirit, without which we are nothing but rotting dirt.

Spirit” is the key. “God is a Spirit” so Jesus told the Samaritan woman. Unless we understand what a spirit IS we do not understand what He told her, and we do not understand what God IS. Absent the concept, the idea, of “spirit”, we find ourselves struggling to explain most of what we experience in life. Without even considering what “spirit” is, we simply accept it.

Spirit just fades into the background noise of our lives, like breathing, and drinking, and all the autonomous functions of daily life. We accept it without thinking and do the “Nodding Donkey” performance whenever someone else tries to explain where we came from or where we are going or why we are here. The same is true of all doctrines, they all include “spirit”. We actually are studying “spirit” all the time and the “mind” with which we are studying is also (a) “spirit”. All ideas have their source in spirit.

“The Beatitudes”, Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstall Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube (Voice From The Cloud)” (1996)

What is quality? We know it when we find it and we certainly know it when we experience it’s absence. But defining it in isolation is very hard. It is an idea, like fear, absent the proximate cause of “fear” we have a lot of trouble coming to grips with what exactly “fear” is … an idea.  Peace, another idea, maybe easier to conceive of as “the absence of fear”, but still impossible to explain except in the context or presence or absence of something else, some other idea.

And where do the ideas originate? I have heard some folks say that ideas originate in the “mind”, and they seem to use “mind” and “brain” interchangeably. But what is the mind? It is not the brain because it is obviously separate from the brain, although it is also obvious that the mind animates the brain.

Perhaps we can settle upon “spirit” being that in us by which we know and love, by which we decide. And spirit has power, it is the mind, the spirit, of man that manipulates the universe in which we exist, that creates the conditions by which we survive, that splits the atom. Atoms are stuff, without spirit, without mind, and everything in existence is just more stuff made up of ever increasing agglomerations of this “atomic stuff”, without mind, without spirit.

“Stuff” cannot know it’s own constituents, it is inanimate and unknowing. the atom doesn’t split the mind, or itself, it doesn’t even “know” that it has electrons, any more than our hand – removed from our animate body – knows that it is a hand or what it could be used for. But “spirit” knows. It doesn’t necessarily know everything but it knows and it knows that it knows and it also knows that there is much that it doesn’t know and it can even conceive that there are “things” or “concepts” or “ideas” which it knows that it does not know, and it calls these “mysteries”.

Mind/spirit splits the atom and drills the oil and calculates the trajectories and plots the course to the stars and builds the ships to travel there and it does all these things through it’s will by “using” the body to control the material world. But there is never any question of the body using the spirit. There is no doubt in anyone’s “mind” that we, the mind/spirit will the using of the body, not the other way around, no matter what we may claim upon waking up after a hard partying night.

Our body knows nothing, wants nothing, loves nothing. Bodily pleasure is not enjoyed by the body. It is the mind/spirit that wants, and the body reacts to our wants, providing the mind with sensual experience. It is the knowing mind/spirit that enjoys or dislikes the experiences of the body. A body without an animating mind is either in a coma (the monster on the slab) or dead.

I seem to be belaboring this point but I am simply pointing out that we in fact DO accept totally the idea of spirit and that it exists, independently of material “stuff” like bodies.  I assume that with only a little thought everyone would agree with that. Spirit produces what matter cannot. Spirit exists and is separate from the material universe. Spirit acts through will upon the material universe.

“An Taiseirl – The Resurrection”, Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstall Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube (Voice From The Cloud)” (1996).

So the Spirit exists, and is separate from the material. In fact the spirit is so separate from the material that it has no parts. This is perhaps the greatest mental leap we can undertake. To have the idea of an entity, which we all agree exists, and which we all agree is separate from the material world, and, the leap … which has no parts. The spirit, or A spirit, is one integral homogeneous contiguous whole.

Now a part is any element of, or in, a being which is not the whole of it, as in my hand or my foot is a part of my body or a wheel is a part of my car or an electron is a part of an atom but a spirit has no parts. There is nothing in it that is not the whole of it. There is no division of parts as there is in matter. Our bodies have parts, our creations and manipulations have parts, but there is no element in the soul which is not the whole soul.

The soul does an amazing array of things, loving, animating, knowing, but they are all done by the whole soul. The soul has no parts amongst which its activities are divided up. So, first let us think of anything we can think of that that occupies space. Think about IT whatever IT you have settled on.

One sees that any thing that occupies space must have parts. There must be bits and pieces which make up the whole but which each are not the whole. If it occupies space at all then there must be some spread of space which it occupies, some width or height or depth, in which the inside is not the outside. Space is nothing but what matter spreads its parts in.

An entity with no parts is superior to the need for space. A being with no parts doesn’t occupy space. That being and space have nothing in common. The partless being does not occupy space. We cannot see it, taste it, or feel it. It has no material existence and yet we all acknowledge that it exists and acts upon the material in space. Space is just emptiness. So we agree and have accepted that we have a partless being who occupies no space and acts through it’s will upon the material, part filled, world.

What we are talking about, at least at this point, is really what we think of as our “Self”.  We “judge” that this must be true and this act of judging is another manifestation of the partless being, occupying no space, and yet acting upon material space, and all it holds, through it’s will. So emptiness is not essential to existence and dividedness is not essential to action.

And judgement is perhaps the commonest act of the will. Judgement is the most frequent of all the willed “actions” which this soul/spirit exerts upon material existence. Judgement can only take place given one single undivided partless principle, or entity, to take hold of, draw together, and compare and decide, to “make the judgement”, and from that judgement to will action through the spirit’s power over the material world.

Now we can see that a partless being, a being who occupies no space, and which no element of it is not the whole of it, cannot be changed into anything else, that it cannot be destroyed by any natural process of the universe of parts because it does not occupy that universe of parts. It is invulnerable to forces and actions originating in the universe of parts, the material universe.

“Adoro Te”, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, from the album “Mater Eucharistiae” (2013)

Spirit is A, or THE, sort of being which, having a permanent hold on the whole of what it is, can never be other than what it is. Material things can be destroyed by acting upon their parts in such a way that the remainder can no longer sustain existence. What has parts can be taken apart. But a being with no parts which doesn’t exist in the material universe cannot be taken apart. It cannot end, It is immortal. Our own soul is such a being.

Our soul is the spirit we know best, wholly itself, forever itself, doing each thing that it does with its whole being, its whole self. And our soul is the least powerful of spirits. WE cannot create matter. We cannot create galaxies, or stars or … anything. We are pretty good manipulators of “stuff” which we find lying around but we cannot create any of the “stuff” by ourselves. Even the weakest angel is unimaginably superior and more powerful than us. Remember earlier when I mentioned ideas and concepts which we know we don’t know? Here lie monsters … and angels. The philosophers tell us that angels could, if they willed, destroy our material universe.

This is the first part of the journey… to arrive at a place where we acknowledge and accept that we are spirit, that our spirit/soul exists outside of time and space and has the power to will “affects” in the material universe which our material parts occupy physically while being animated by our spirit, our soul. Seeing this spiritual reality, understanding our eternal spiritual soul and it’s needs is the first step to detachment from the material.

Seeing this spiritual reality and the importance of our spiritual needs is the most important first step to growing out of childhood and detaching from material pleasures and things which, after all, are frighteningly mortal, doomed to die, doomed to pass away. The spirit, the soul is THE most important self. All the rest is nothing.

15 Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever.”1 John 2 (First Epistle of John Chapter 2) In some Bibles it is found in the book  “Catholic Epistles”.

I would guess thinking about the real time actuality of a real spiritual eternal soul is a big bite to chew. We will look at more next post

Cheers

Joe

wheat-harvest-time

Harvest Sunset

Always remember, “Be charitable in your judgements, and never take yourself too seriously”

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

A Christmas Message at Easter …

Eternity’s Sunrize, Bill Douglas

happy-resurrection-day-1-john-3-It is early morning, March 28th, 2016, sunny and warm, and conducive to self examination. So I have  begun reviewing all my previous posts with the aim of weeding out the garbage of anger and impurity and self regard or self pity, the petty tirades against my personal Strawmen, my perceived targets of opportunity attacked with uncharitable intensity because I hate these qualities so much in myself when I notice them.

easter-mondaySo far I have managed to wade through about 20 or so posts of previous years and the most surprising thing is that, even under the above lens, I find little so far to edit out or otherwise consign to the electronic trash bin. No doubt I have not yet reached the bad stuff, but I came across the following, however, which I felt invited re-posting. I once commissioned a piece of writing which fortuitously appeared around Christmas time and now I edit and re-post it because it also seems appropriate for the Easter season as well. The underlying theme is one of “all things not being about me”. The piece was titled:

On the New Orthodoxy

Albert_Chevallier_Tayler_-_The_Christmas_Tree_1911A Very Merry Christmas to all my friends and acquaintances (and possibly a couple of readers). I do hope that your Christmas has been as peaceful and blessed as ours has been here among the western frozen chosen … the happy (Any Small Town, Flyover Country ) Bagginses of the plains. After perhaps the worst year of my life we had one of the best Christmases I can remember. My own “Annus Horribilus”  (For those who just went “HUH?”  Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase, meaning “horrible year”.)  ended with an excellent Christmas season both in the business and in the family.

christmas2It is snowing now and not too cold and from all reports this is much better than they are getting back east.  I do hope the weather improves back east, rain in December sucks big time.  Cheer up you poor drowned rats, colder weather is coming your way.

You probably know that I read a lot of blogs. There’s a lot of good, provocative, and perceptive writing going on in the blogosphere now. I wish I had the time to read everything. Of course, blogs, like all things resulting from human activity, are subject to Sturgeon’s law, and many who try to blog either become bored and quit, or have little to say which would be of interest to anyone other than their friends   (a sort of “Facebook” post writ large). But with so many people trying, even among the residual 10% of non-crap there are now thousands of people writing good content.

At the risk of offending many in the 90% (myself included probably) , I take a moment to repeat “Sturgeon’s Revelation“, which was wrung out of him after twenty years of defending science fiction literature against the attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusions were that ninety percent of SF is crud.  Unfortunately for the critics, using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can equally easily be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, services, government programs, etc. etc, ad-infinitum is also crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other human endeavour.

Theodore_SturgeonThis is a rough paraphrase of Theodore Sturgeon’s remarks, from a talk given at New York University in 1951.  Even Kipling remarked on this aspect of human efforts in the late 19th century. It does seem at times that things have only gotten worse with the advent of the web and the web-blog but this has been an observed, remarked on, condition of humanity’s efforts for well over a hundred years now. Fortunately there are notable exceptions to this reality, namely the other 10 %; who continue to generate great work in spite of ridicule and troll-posts and many unwarranted attacks from other folks who simply can’t handle the fact that the rest of humanity does not necessarily agree with them or think like them.

Her Britannic Majesty the Queen delivers a Christmas Message every year, year after year, for at least the last 60 years or so and is frequently criticized at length for her efforts.  The BBC and even the CBC cover it in it’s entirety, although I often wonder why since she usually speaks of ideas and sentiments alien to modern Civ and the values of the media covering her presentation. This year’s was especially important; about reconciliation. But she is not the only one with a thoughtful message. (There is probably a good blog post on “Psychological Projection and Transference” in there somewhere but that is for another day.)

So with grateful acknowledgement to  http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/ , another WordPress blogger of much greater experience than myself, here is another thoughtful message composed by one of my favorite scribes. In the spirit of brotherhood, just see if it doesn’t generate some reality vibes … if not, that’s OK too, just consider who sent it to you and adjust your reality accordingly. It should be noted that David Warren has begun a new chapter in his long career of writing provocative, thought provoking pieces, moving to a new model that includes writing commissioned articles, the topics of which are suggested by the commissioning patron but the content of which David reserves the right to control. He writes very well. This is my unsolicited plug for his work. If you have a secret wish to see your own thoughts broadcast on the aether “Better said than I could say myself” then you might consider patronizing him in the New Year.

this is his first commission in this venue;

Morning Dew, The Wanderer, Adrian von Ziegler

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“Eerie sounds this morning, on the balconata of the High Doganate. It was the wind spinning in branches and eaves: dry chatter beneath a softening rainstorm roar. An old train-whistle moan blew through the crack of a loose sliding window. The city for its part remains unearthly  quiet, the usual crash of traffic damped below nature’s breathing. It is the sound that cars make when they are parked; of a million cars not driving to church on Christmas Day.

For those not shut in by age and illness, and even for most of them, there is no excuse for the loneliness that is hyped in the media at this time of year. The child Christ rests by His altar, and God is always near. Always, there is something to do, and there could be peace in any cell or hermitage, in prayer with and for the whole world.

Or one might wish to consider the nature of one’s loneliness: what it is, and what it is not. True loneliness is peopled by friends absent, displaced through space and time. Sometimes, in age, what was once a multitude has come down to a single soul, perhaps with his photographs of Christmas Past; or even without them, memories of love in a distant time. Dark, dark, they’ve all gone into the dark, and in a moment these memories begin to catch within his throat: that when I am gone, no one will be left to remember them, in this world where they were once so alive.

Old lady or old man in the corner of a room, languishing in a nursing home, waiting patiently on death row, for they have learnt there is no better way to wait; and more likely than not merely enduring the forced, professional, gaiety of strangers. It is the end of all their adventures. They have come to what is called, “the last place on earth.”

Those who have the decency to visit, may not realize that duties come with such chivalrous endeavours: the fair maiden must be won. Love that is not ardent is not love:  the visitor is bound by love to keep his promise. He must return. He must make himself wanted, must put light in those repining eyes.. I’m amused by the politicians of the nursing homes: those who arrive with a glad hand for everybody. By all means, vote for that person, and the jolly spirit that is cast around; it is a real
service. But the knights have fixed their attention. For love is in the eyes, that meet the eyes: the ardency of love, that takes one out of oneself and into the heart of every friendship. That is what tells you that you are not alone; that you have something better than a text message.

People are not only lonely in the “home.” It can be done anywhere.

For nine-in-ten, if not more, the loneliness is a pose of self-absorption. One is actually not feeling lonely, for anyone in particular, but rather more generally, sorry for oneself. Why? Because of course no one loves you. How could they, given the way you have behaved? Your whole life has consisted of abandoning people, from the moment their use to you had passed; and now they have all abandoned you, in quiet retaliation. They have lives too, after all; and their own commitments to self-absorption, their own agendas of self-will.

Western Civ, or we should call it more precisely, Christian Civ, had its orthodoxy — still observed in outlying places. This was not a set of rules, however complex; not a succession of algorithms delineated in base 2. It was a way of life, with ritual and custom. It encompassed huge variety, from generation to generation, and place to place. And yet it cohered: was held together by a Spirit, in all times and all places; and a common apprehension of that Holy Spirit. It was, “One nation under God,” except, a nation above all the little nations, themselves birds of passage. It was, as every high civilization, comprehensively hierarchical: a place for everyone, and everyone in his place. Such that: whatever one’s location, from chimneysweep to king, one existed to serve something higher. And all ranks met before the King of kings, which is to say, in church. A civilization can be defined by that in which it reposes Faith; by that to which it turns, not only in adversity. (“In God we trust.”)

In the fading of this Western, Christian Civ, we have seen a new civilization arise, appropriating all its goods for its own new purposes and building up a new orthodoxy. I have watched, all my life, this grim, solemn, methodical progression, from rites to rights.

The new civilization has its own cosmological conception (the Darwinite vision of randomness); its own moral ethos (wherein every person is a law unto himself); its own intellectual and aesthetic norms (establishing that not only beauty, but truth, and goodness, are in the eye of the beholder). It is governed by metastasizing rules and regulations — in which custom has, formally, no jurisdiction. Faith itself, and the conduct it has governed, is taken to be a purely personal matter, and all values associated with common belief may be dismissed as equally arbitrary. This leaves arbitrary “equality” as the one ideal: the value that denies all other values. Pope Benedict called this, “the dictatorship of relativism,” and those who resist its dictates may very well find themselves in court.

*
From thirty-five years ago, I recall a book that was on many coffee tables: The Culture of Narcissism, by Christopher Lasch. It was an essay in post-modern sociology, but in its season it clanged a big bell. Lasch wrote of the destruction of the traditional family by the “organized kindness” that had assumed its functions; of the radical movements that emerged in the ‘sixties to enforce the atomism that was the inevitable result. And then he plunged into psychological observation, reviewing everything from New Age cult affiliations, to the popular obsession with oral sex. By the 1970s, the typical American was displaying not some, but all the symptoms of what had once been diagnosed, in the psychology textbooks, as pathological narcissism (Any reader who is interested should also consult Lasch’s much-ignored sequel, The Minimal Self,  in which he spades deeper into the XIXth-century roots of this phenomenon, and defends the objectivity of his thesis against both critics on his Left, and inconvenient fans on his Right.)

We’re beyond that now. Even the word “narcissism” tends to be employed in pathologically narcissistic ways. And while that older, Christian worldview remains — now as a counter-culture, providing closed environments in which narcissistic behaviour is still instinctively punished — it is going underground. For this new orthodoxy also invaded, and made a conquest of most of the Church, as well as rolling over the “mainstream” Protestant congregations. The victory of narcissism is glaringly apparent in every single liturgical innovation of the New Mass: from the turning of the priest towards the people, to the stripping of the altar now placed between them; and in every direction from there. The new gestures, from the 1960s forward, distract consistently from the divine presence, and mediate a message that is “all about you.”

And so it is with the lonely at Christmas, (and Easter), vaguely remembering some other age. It is all about them. For most my age — and I am getting older — it has been all about us since time out of mind. We grew up in the Pepsi generation.

Those nursing homes are now filled with contemporaries of the Beatles and Elvis Presley, as one may discover in the foyer, when they’re wheeled down for a sing-along. Their memories of Christmas (and Easters) go back, increasingly, to broken homes, where what they actually remember is themselves being “in the way” of their parents’ private lives. Their memories, too, are free of church attendance, and so throw back to the commercialized sentimentality of treats and gift-wrapped, heavily-advertised products around a casually decorated Christmas tree, Easter egg hunts and chocolate bunnies and shredded tissue basket stuffing —  a kind of semi-annual pay-off for minding their own business. And, what is the most terrible thing I have seen in there, when that past is challenged, and anything better is proposed: that flicker of defiance, that parody of faith which still declares, after a lifetime of sin and error: “I’m as good as you are!” For it was a culture of narcissism to which they bought in.

This is the new orthodoxy, which Christians must be careful to respect, as tourists remove their shoes when entering a mosque. For it is considered extremely bad form, to disturb the votaries while they are at prayer, making their devotions to the pond image.

But the winds howl, and the waters roughen, and Christ was always coming. It is something to think about, for no matter how you cut it — whether you are a traditional Christian (there can be no other kind), or  a perfectly conventional, orthodox Narcissist — the message of Easter is not, never was, and by its meaning never will be, “all about you.”


__________________________

So Cheers, Happy Easter and a sincere toast to you, your health, and prayers for your future well-being in the anno Domini 2016 . If you read this far … Bravo!

Joe

This Too Shall Pass

Always remember, “be charitable in your judgements, never take yourself too seriously” and of course “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

Sometimes when I post, I look at my sig and wish that I’d follow my own damned advice.

 

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

The New Orthodoxy

On the New Orthodoxy

A Very Merry Christmas to all my friends and acquaintances (and possibly a couple of readers). I do hope that your Christmas has been as peaceful and blessed as ours has been here among the western frozen chosen … the happy (Any Small Town, Flyover Country ) Bagginses of the plains. After perhaps the worst year of my life we had one of the best Christmases I can remember. My own “Annus Horribilus”  (For those who just went “HUH?”  Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase, meaning “horrible year”.)  ended with an excellent Christmas season both in the business and in the family. It is snowing now and not too cold and from all reports this is much better than they are getting back east.  I do hope the weather improves back east, rain in December sucks big time.  Cheer up you poor drowned rats, colder weather is coming your way.

You probably know that I read a lot of blogs. There’s a lot of good, provocative, and perceptive writing going on in the blogosphere now. I wish I had the time to read everything. Of course, blogs, like all things resulting from human activity, are subject to Sturgeon’s law, and many who try to blog either become bored and quit, or have little to say which would be of interest to anyone other than their friends   (a sort of “Facebook” post writ large). But with so many people trying, even among the residual 10% of non-crap there are now thousands of people writing good content.

At the risk of offending many in the 90% (myself included probably) , I take a moment to repeat “Sturgeon’s Revelation“, which was wrung out of him after twenty years of defending science fiction literature against the attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusions were that ninety percent of SF is crud.  Unfortunately for the critics, using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can equally easily be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, services, government programs, etc. etc, ad-infinitum is also crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other human endeavour.

This is a rough paraphrase of Theodore Sturgeon’s remarks, from a talk given at New York University in 1951.  Even Kipling remarked on this aspect of human efforts in the late 19th century. It does seem at times that things have only gotten worse with the advent of the web and the web-blog but this has been an observed, remarked on, condition of humanity’s efforts for well over a hundred years now. Fortunately there are notable exceptions to this reality, namely the other 10 %; who continue to generate great work in spite of ridicule and troll-posts and many unwarranted attacks from other folks who simply can’t handle the fact that the rest of humanity does not necessarily agree with them or think like them.  Her Britannic Majesty the Queen delivers a Christmas Message every year, year after year, for at least the last 60 years or so and is frequently criticized at length for her efforts.  The BBC and even the CBC cover it in it’s entirety, although I often wonder why since she usually speaks of ideas and sentiments alien to modern Civ and the values of the media covering her presentation. This year’s was especially important; about reconciliation. But she is not the only one with a thoughtful message. (There is probably a good blog post on “Psychological Projection and Transference” in there somewhere but that is for another day.)

So with grateful acknowledgement to  http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/ , another WordPress blogger of much greater experience than myself, here is another thoughtful message composed by one of my favorite scribes. In the spirit of brotherhood, just see if it doesn’t generate some reality vibes … if not, that’s OK too, just consider who sent it to you and adjust your reality accordingly. It should be noted that David Warren has begun a new chapter in his long career of writing provocative, thought provoking pieces, moving to a new model that includes writing commissioned articles, the topics of which are suggested by the commissioning patron but the content of which David reserves the right to control. He writes very well. This is my unsolicited plug for his work. If you have a secret wish to see your own thoughts broadcast on the aether “Better said than I could say myself” then you might consider patronizing him in the New Year.

this is his first commission in this venue;

_____________

“Eerie sounds this morning, on the balconata of the High Doganate. It was the wind spinning in branches and eaves: dry chatter beneath a softening rainstorm roar. An old train-whistle moan blew through the crack of a loose sliding window. The city for its part remains unearthly  quiet, the usual crash of traffic damped below nature’s breathing. It is the sound that cars make when they are parked; of a million cars not driving to church on Christmas Day.

For those not shut in by age and illness, and even for most of them, there is no excuse for the loneliness that is hyped in the media at this time of year. The child Christ rests by His altar, and God is always near. Always, there is something to do, and there could be peace in any cell or hermitage, in prayer with and for the whole world.

Or one might wish to consider the nature of one’s loneliness: what it is, and what it is not. True loneliness is peopled by friends absent, displaced through space and time. Sometimes, in age, what was once a multitude has come down to a single soul, perhaps with his photographs of Christmas Past; or even without them, memories of love in a distant time. Dark, dark, they’ve all gone into the dark, and in a moment these memories begin to catch within his throat: that when I am gone, no one will be left to remember them, in this world where they were once so alive.

Old lady or old man in the corner of a room, languishing in a nursing home, waiting patiently on death row, for they have learnt there is no better way to wait; and more likely than not merely enduring the forced, professional, gaiety of strangers. It is the end of all their adventures. They have come to what is called, “the last place on earth.”

Those who have the decency to visit, may not realize that duties come with such chivalrous endeavours: the fair maiden must be won. Love that is not ardent is not love:  the visitor is bound by love to keep his promise. He must return. He must make himself wanted, must put light in those repining eyes.. I’m amused by the politicians of the nursing homes: those who arrive with a glad hand for everybody. By all means, vote for that person, and the jolly spirit that is cast around; it is a real service. But the knights have fixed their attention. For love is in the eyes, that meet the eyes: the ardency of love, that takes one out of oneself and into the heart of every friendship. That is what tells you that you are not alone; that you have something better than a text message.

People are not only lonely in the “home.” It can be done anywhere.

For nine-in-ten, if not more, the loneliness is a pose of self-absorption. One is actually not feeling lonely, for anyone in particular, but rather more generally, sorry for oneself. Why? Because of course no one loves you. How could they, given the way you have behaved? Your whole life has consisted of abandoning people, from the moment their use to you had passed; and now they have all abandoned you, in quiet retaliation. They have lives too, after all; and their own commitments to self-absorption, their own agendas of self-will.

Western Civ, or we should call it more precisely, Christian Civ, had its orthodoxy — still observed in outlying places. This was not a set of rules, however complex; not a succession of algorithms delineated in base 2. It was a way of life, with ritual and custom. It encompassed huge variety, from generation to generation, and place to place. And yet it cohered: was held together by a Spirit, in all times and all places; and a common apprehension of that Holy Spirit. It was, “One nation under God,” except, a nation above all the little nations, themselves birds of passage. It was, as every high civilization, comprehensively hierarchical: a place for everyone, and everyone in his place. Such that: whatever one’s location, from chimneysweep to king, one existed to serve something higher. And all ranks met before the King of kings, which is to say, in church. A civilization can be defined by that in which it reposes Faith; by that to which it turns, not only in adversity. (“In God we trust.”)

In the fading of this Western, Christian Civ, we have seen a new civilization arise, appropriating all its goods for its own new purposes and building up a new orthodoxy. I have watched, all my life, this grim, solemn, methodical progression, from rites to rights.

The new civilization has its own cosmological conception (the Darwinite vision of randomness); its own moral ethos (wherein every person is a law unto himself); its own intellectual and aesthetic norms (establishing that not only beauty, but truth, and goodness, are in the eye of the beholder). It is governed by metastasizing rules and regulations — in which custom has, formally, no jurisdiction. Faith itself, and the conduct it has governed, is taken to be a purely personal matter, and all values associated with common belief may be dismissed as equally arbitrary. This leaves arbitrary “equality” as the one ideal: the value that denies all other values. Pope Benedict called this, “the dictatorship of relativism,” and those who resist its dictates may very well find themselves in court.

*
From thirty-five years ago, I recall a book that was on many coffee tables: The Culture of Narcissism, by Christopher Lasch. It was an essay in post-modern sociology, but in its season it clanged a big bell. Lasch wrote of the destruction of the traditional family by the “organized kindness” that had assumed its functions; of the radical movements that emerged in the ‘sixties to enforce the atomism that was the inevitable result. And then he plunged into psychological observation, reviewing everything from New Age cult affiliations, to the popular obsession with oral sex. By the 1970s, the typical American was displaying not some, but all the symptoms of what had once been diagnosed, in the psychology textbooks, as pathological narcissism (Any reader who is interested should also consult Lasch’s much-ignored sequel, The Minimal Self,  in which he spades deeper into the XIXth-century roots of this phenomenon, and defends the objectivity of his thesis against both critics on his Left, and inconvenient fans on his Right.)

We’re beyond that now. Even the word “narcissism” tends to be employed in pathologically narcissistic ways. And while that older, Christian worldview remains — now as a counter-culture, providing closed environments in which narcissistic behaviour is still instinctively punished — it is going underground. For this new orthodoxy also invaded, and made a conquest of most of the Church, as well as rolling over the “mainstream” Protestant congregations. The victory of narcissism is glaringly apparent in every single liturgical innovation of the New Mass: from the turning of the priest towards the people, to the stripping of the altar now placed between them; and in every direction from there. The new gestures, from the 1960s forward, distract consistently from the divine presence, and mediate a message that is “all about you.”

And so it is with the lonely at Christmas, vaguely remembering some other age. It is all about them. For most my age — and I am getting older — it has been all about us since time out of mind. We grew up in the Pepsi generation.

Those nursing homes are now filled with contemporaries of the Beatles and Elvis Presley, as one may discover in the foyer, when they’re wheeled down for a sing-along. Their memories of Christmas go back, increasingly, to broken homes, where what they actually remember is themselves being “in the way” of their parents’ private lives. Their memories, too, are free of church attendance, and so throw back to the commercialized sentimentality of treats and gift-wrapped, heavily-advertised products around a casually decorated Christmas tree —  a kind of pay-off for minding their own business. And, what is the most terrible thing I have seen in there, when that past is challenged, and anything better is proposed: that flicker of defiance, that parody of faith which still declares, after a lifetime of sin and error: “I’m as good as you are!” For it was a culture of narcissism to which they bought in.

This is the new orthodoxy, which Christians must be careful to respect, as tourists remove their shoes when entering a mosque. For it is considered extremely bad form, to disturb the votaries while they are at prayer, making their devotions to the pond image.

But the winds howl, and the waters roughen, and Christ was always coming. It is something to think about, for no matter how you cut it — whether you are a traditional Christian (there can be no other kind), or  a perfectly conventional, orthodox Narcissist — the message of Christmas is not, never was, and by its meaning never will be, “all about you.”


__________________________

So Cheers, Merry Christmas and a sincere toast to you, your health, and prayers for your future well-being in the New Year. If you read this far … Bravo!

Joe

ParthianShot

“May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.”

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