Saturday, 28 February 2015

How US evangelical Christians threw away the greatest opportunity for Christian evangelism in several decades - the Christian attacks on the Harry Potter books

Discerning Christian scholars of the Harry Potter novels by JK Rowling - such as John Granger (Eastern Orthodox), and Jerram Barrs (Calvinist Protestant) - have proved beyond reasonable doubt that these books are profoundly Christian in their attitudes and messages and in many symbolic references; and this is confirmed explicitly albeit discreetly in the text and authorial interviews.

(I have also written about this on this blog - the pieces can be found by word-searching 'Potter' and 'Christian'.)

The Harry Potter series has also been a sales sensation, and have reshaped the whole publishing environment.


This should, of course, have been the greatest possible news among evangelical-minded Christians of all denominations - the best news in decades! - a tremendous opportunity for those who want to spread the word, and encourage Christians in their faith.

Instead, a sizeable number of influential Christians in the USA launched and sustained an aggressive, ill-informed and slanderous (false, dishonest) attack on the Harry Potter phenomenon; so that Christians labelled these books as anti-Christian in intent and tendency - and did their best to prevent their own and other children from reading them.

The Christian anti-Rowling attacks were avidly encouraged by the mass media (which should have been sufficient to warn serious Christians of what was going on).

The result has been a disastrous lost opportunity and self-inflicted wound for Christianity:

1. The most popular books in decades have been labelled, and interpreted, as if they were anti-Christian; and instead distorted into a frame which supports the dominant culture of secular Leftism.

This was a tragically lost opportunity for Christianity in the West - perhaps the biggest lost opportunity for several decades.

2. For Christians, the depth and faith strengthening beauty of these books has been lost.

3. The author seems to have been astonished and wounded by these attacks from Christians; and from subsequent interviews and published novels it seems very probable that she has become apostate, has changed sides - and now consistently takes a pro secular Leftist (and implicitly anti-Christian) stance.

Clearly this was very wrong of her - but my point is that this corruption and change in JKR was (in my view) probably begun by the vile and hysterical attacks on her personally and on the HP books by Christians.


One consequence may have been that the very popular movies based on the books, which followed a few years later, almost-entirely deleted the Christian elements - and indeed inverted some of the primary moral and spiritual messages of the novels.

Given the innate tendency of movies to usurp the understanding and interpretation of novels,this was a further deep wound inflicted on the potential-for-good of the Harry Potter series.


In conclusion, the Christians who campaigned against Harry Potter seemingly ended-up inflicting very serious damage on Christianity, and doing the work of Satan.

How did this happen?

There were good and bad intentions at work - as usual.

The good intentions were thoughtless and lacking in discernment - regarding the HP books with prejudice rather than actually reading them with sympathy. This attitude means that inevitably Christians will reject on a priori grounds any Christian phenomenon successful among non-Christians, and any potential major opportunity for evangelism.

The bad intentions were the usual ones - seeking any 'plausible' excuse to indulge in hatred, moral showboating and status striving, the pleasures of controlling and bullying others...


The Harry Potter phenomenon handed Western Christians a great opportunity. The same applies, of course, to the Narnia books by CS Lewis, and the Middle Earth books by JRR Tolkien.

That opportunity remains - but an aggressive and influential minority of US supposedly-'evangelical' Christians are working against this great opportunity - by gifting this Christian literature to anti-Christians: handing it to them on a plate!

Unsurprisingly, this kind self-destructive lunacy by Christians has been given every possible encouragement and amplification by the secular Leftist mass media.


The damage has been done - water under the bridge - why write about it?

Well, now that the scenario has played out, now that the scale of damage can be surveyed; those serious Christians who participated in the slandering of Harry Potter should now be able to see the extent of their error, and to repent.


Friday, 27 February 2015

The astonishing size and duration of social or civilizational impact from a single Great Man


Doubt is a bad thing - not a good thing

Doubt is a part of life - it is one of the trials of human existence - it is inevitable; but it is not a good state to be in.

Doubts are temptations to sin - we all get them, but must strive not to yield to them; and when (as happen) we do yield to our doubts - then we need to repent.

We live in a society which does nothing else so effectively as plant doubts, water and grow doubts - and encourage doubts to seed, spread and make more and yet more doubts...

This is also a society of unprecedented nihilism, irreligion, cowardice, lack of principle and mainstream moral inversion - and the ground for this situation was prepared by two or three centuries of the 'cult of doubting' among the elites.


Certainly we can and should learn from overcoming our doubts - and can be made the stronger for the experience; as we can and should learn and grow from overcoming any other of our sins. Christ came to save sinners, and that includes doubters.


But certainly we should not celebrate doubts! Certainly we should not make heroes of those who live in a perpetual state of doubt. Certainly we should not encourage and admire people who argue in favour of their doubts, propagandise their doubt, or who pride themselves on supposedly superior insight/ sensitivity because they doubt!

That is the very last thing we ought to do with doubts!


What harm is done by (dishonest) verbal denials of the Good? Harm to theosis, but not so much to salvation

What harm, what kind of harm, is done by the kind of superficial and merely-verbal denial of the Good - denials of truth, beauty and virtue; denials of the reality of reality - which are now mainstream and increasingly mandatory in public discourse?

(I refer to the officially-sanctioned inversions of especially morality, but also truth and beauty, which are now compulsory. A person or institution that refuses actively and positively to support, indeed to show-enthusiasm-for, the progressive Leftist agenda of inversion is now punished harshly and the trend is for more and more-severe punishments.)


So a person, a committee, an organisation articulates denial of Good and proposes the desirability of the unreal, untrue, wicked, ugly - what happens at the ultimate level of God's plan of salvation and theosis?

My suggestion is that their main harm of this stuff is to block spiritual progress.

Such denials don't necessary damn us - because we can, as private souls, snap out of them in a moment - and it seems likely that this will usually occur after death when we are confronted by the truth or reality.

But such denials probably block us in theosis - block us in the main business of life (after salvation is secured) which is to become more like Jesus Christ, more like God, more divine.


The result is that - even when he is saved - modern man is, in the mass, at an extraordinarily low spiritual level, at an extremely undeveloped stage of sanctification.

In the past there were Good men of great spiritual stature; equally there were wicked men who were spiritually-advanced; that is, there were god-like geniuses of good and evil - the evil being those men who developed far towards divinity then changed sides.

Nowadays mediocrity is the normal and almost exclusive rule: mediocrity of the saved and the damned alike - there is a great and infinitely-important gulf between them in fate, in decision; but as individuals there is not much to choose.

In modern conditions, the saved are not very Good, the damned are not very evil.


Mormonism is a paradigm shift of Christianity


I want to articulate here something about Mormonism that is almost always missed by almost everyone - including Mormons.


Mormonism represents nothing less than, nothing other than, a paradigm shift of Christianity.

It is Christian and it is new; Mormonism 'saves the appearances' of Christianity (i.e. it is Christian) while underpinning them with an utterly different by systematic metaphysics.

Mormonism is an utterly novel way of being a Christian. It is about as different-yet-coherent way of being a full Christian as it is possible for the mind of Man to conceive.


Thus Mormonism amounts to a re-explanation of everything in Christianity that needs to be explained; while leaving unchanged that which makes Christianity Christian.

Core, essential Christian belief is unchanged; but underpinned by a qualitatively-different theoretical structure.

Mormonism is not a melange nor a bricolage of earlier beliefs and practices - neither is it an evolutionary development of earlier Christianity; it is a creative re-synthesis of Christianity.


I think the systematic, metaphysical, structural aspects of Mormonism have been grossly underestimated - indeed there has been near-zero engagement with these matters at the level of philosophical discourse, or in terms of the history of ideas and the history of civilizations.

One may legitimately be amazed by, inspired by, or appalled by the sheer radicalism of Mormon re-conceptualization - but it is simply an error of ignorance or prejudice to fail to appreciate the truly remarkable scope and thoroughness of Mormonism as an intellectual achievement.


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Addicted to Distraction - Psychological consequences of the Mass Media by Bruce G Charlton - available online

My most recent book is now available online, complete - 26,000 worda approximately.

If you want to read it, I recommend you copy, paste, maybe edit - then print out.

'Whether or not God exists' is a fake problem

The modern question of 'whether God exists, or not' is a fake problem, a pseudo-problem.

We know that God exists.

(We all know this by revelation and experience; built-into us before we were born into this mortal life: We are born knowing it - and there never was any significant dispute about this obvious fact until very recently in human history.)

The proper question is what we do about it.


God exists - but there is a choice concerning what we, personally, are going to do about the fact.

We do not have to be grateful to God for what He has done for us, nor do we have to love God. We can choose to blame God for what He has done for us, or not done; we can choose to hate God.

In other words, we can choose what side to be on: God's side; or not-God's side.


We know that God exists, and we can only claim not to know God exists by also claiming ignorance of all the profoundest, deepest matters.

Modern Man has taken this route: modern Man has tried to escape the dichotomy of being either/or for/ against God by pretending not to know about God.

Having done so, modern Man finds that he is forced to deny knowledge of all Good.

Thus modern Man (who falsely claims 'not to know' whether or not God exists) is forced to be a 'relativist', indeed a nihilist; modern Man is forced to claim that truth, beauty and virtue are equally uncertain, as equally unreal, as he pretends God to be.

In denying the reality of God, modern Man denies even the possibility of meaning and purpose.


(Because if we cannot know the reality of God, we cannot - by exactly the same arguments - know the reality of Good. If God is merely an evidence-free subjective assertion, then so is Good.)


The fake assertion that he 'does not know' whether or not God is real is the condition that stuns, dismays, paralyses modern Man - which makes him hate himself, his life, his civilisation - which drives him into self-distraction and self-delusion.

Behind this pretence-piled-upon-pretence; we all know that God exists: that is not the problem.

The true questions relate not to existence but to matters such as the nature of God, his motivations, his relation to us, our responsibilities and destiny; and the implications of the answers for our own un-evadable choice: pro or contra.


Note: I use the singular God as a short-hand which implicitly includes 'gods'.  This is an argument for deity, not for monotheism.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

My MA thesis is online, apparently

Well, who'd have thunk it? My thesis The Literature of Alasdair Gray, which was awarded the degree of Magister Artium by the University of Durham, England in 1988 - is available online!

So you can all read it, and I will set a test next week...

It was a one year research degree in English Literature (like a mini-PhD), and I lived in University College, Durham - which is in a castle

And ate my meals at high table in the Hogwartsian Great Hall

It was certainly one of the most enjoyable years of my pre-married life - full of reading, arts, writing, ritual and good conversation - but got me into rather bad habits of self-indulgence and dependence on external stimulation; so that it was followed by a rather miserable 'down' from which I did not emerge for several years.

I thought my thesis was pretty good for just one year's work - the second half of it (the library work) was later published as a book chapter.

Strangely, although this year briefly made me into the world expert on Alasdair Gray; and although I later went to live near him in Glasgow, got to know him pretty well and helped him in little ways with several novels and plays; I haven't re-read anything of his for a long time or kept up with his later work... so it goes.


Do geniuses spontaneously 'hijack' and deploy social intelligence to use in their creative thinking?


Was Jesus really a scapegoat? Not essentially

While there are some reasonable parallels to the analogy; Jesus was not really a scapegoat for Man.

Not, that is, one who was punished for the sins of others; not even one who was willingly punished for the sins of others (which a scape goat never really can be - at most the goat might placidly accept the unjust punishment).

Indeed it is dangerous to regard scapegoat as the master metaphor of what Christ did; because, surely, no matter how we try to spin it, we could never wholly accept the principle that it was right to punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty?

No - Christ was essentially the giver of great gifts, the bringer of great Goods; bringer of the good news.

He was one who added; not one who took-away.


The necessity of genius


40 years before Mencius Moldbug - Mormon Apostle Ezra Taft Benson describes 'The Cathedral'

I was listening to a speech given in 1968 at Brigham Young University entitled "The Book of Mormon warns America" by Ezra Taft Benson - who was at the time an Apostle of the Mormon church, and later became the President.

This was at the height of the explicit culture wars, when the confrontation between the atheist New Left and traditional Christianity was at its most obvious - and before the Left had taken over all the large and powerful institutions.

From a perspective of 2015, this is a very remarkable speech - especially in terms of its tough, uncompromising, style. This was before political correctness made us accustomed the Right only being allowed to use euphemism and indirectness in prestigious public media and in open discourse - we are now easily shocked and scared by the upfront expression of common sense. Leftism was simply, and accurately, called Communism. Socially destructive Leftists were simply called 'traitors'.

(Sophisticated modern people have no concept of loyalty, so 'traitor' is a snigger-word.)

In terms of his analysis of how Leftism operates in America, Benson's analysis is essentially identical with that of the influential blogger Mencius Moldbug - the focus on communists and communist promoters in government agencies, the legal system, academia and the media (i.e. what Moldbug calls 'The Cathedral).

Here is a selection of quotations:


The Book of Mormon points out how these ancient conspirators were able to fill the judgment seats, usurp power, destroy justice, condemn the righteous, and let the guilty and the wicked go unpunished. Do you see any parallel between this and the present-day decisions of our Supreme Court?

President McKay has stated that the Supreme Court is leading this Christian nation down the road to atheism. I believe the court is also leading us down the road to anarchy and atheistic communism. Here is the net effect of a few of their decisions:

Communists can work in our defense plants... Communists can teach in our schools...Communists can hold offices in labor unions... Communists can run for public offices...Communists can serve in the merchant marines...
The Supreme Court justices would probably have been accused of treason if they had dealt in this manner with the Nazis during World War II. 

How does one explain the court’s attitude towards the communist conspiracy which is a much greater threat than the Nazis ever were?...

I have not even covered the areas of how the court is hamstringing the police, destroying property rights, encouraging civil disobedience, undermining state sovereignty, and so forth.


We have mentioned briefly the help which the communists have received from our Supreme Court. Suffice it to say that they have penetrated every major segment of our society... the news media, the schools, the churches, the unions, etc. 

But their greatest desire and most successful drive has come from their effective penetration of government.


We extend the advantage of diplomatic recognition to their puppets when they come to power. We send them billions in foreign aid. We’ve trained their pilots. We ship them wheat. Through cultural and other exchanges, their spies come to America. We supply them know-how. We extend them credit. We buy their goods. Their propaganda goes through our mails at our expense. We’ve helped them in their conquests through secret agreements.

Our government does all it can to keep the anti-communists from coming to power in any country. 

And once we’ve helped the communists to take over a nation such as China and Cuba, we do all in our power to keep the anti-communists from freeing their land. We even negotiate with these butchers and sign treaties with these criminals who have no respect for treaties. 


The vast majority of American citizens and federal employees are loyal to our Republic. But there are a few traitors whose numbers are growing and who are in key positions to influence and help shape government policy.

In fact it is becoming increasingly apparent that appointment to high government office today is not hampered by one’s past affiliations with communist fronts or one’s ability to follow the communist line. You don’t need to look further than the President’s Cabinet and recent appointments to the Supreme Court to find ample evidence of this fact... 

Parrot the communist line and you can expect to be glamorized by the liberal news media and pushed to the front. But take a strong anti­communist position and you can expect to be passed over, smeared, and silenced. And this has happened and is happening to too many great and distinguished Americans to be accidental.


The communists could not do this all by themselves. They knew that communism would also have to be built by non-communist hands. And so, as in the past, they use, to suit their purpose, the misguided idealist, the political opportunists, the dupes and fellow travelers, and the ignorant and apathetic Americans...

He knows that some of his greatest successes have come with programs which have been sold to the American public as ways to fight the communists but which in reality had the net effect of promoting communism.

This has been true of our foreign aid program. Designed, supposedly, to help nations, its overall effect has been to keep socialist governments in business, enhance the communists, discourage free enterprise and demoralize the anti-communists.


And so on...I quote above Benson's own words, but even harder things are said in citing approvingly quotations from others.

What do I infer from this? That what would have been, and would still be, depicted by The Cathedral as hysterical paranoia about 'Reds under the Bed'; was not just accurate, but an underestimate of the reality and trends.

That the stakes were clear by 1968, and the broad outlines of what has come to pass in the political system were clearly apparent - since Benson gives every appearance of speaking from a generally-understood perspective.

In particular, there was clarity that communism/ Leftism/ The Cathedral was absolutely hostile to Christianity - which was why Benson was giving this speech - and a recognition that the rise of communism causes the decline of Christianity.


(In this respect Benson gets it right where Moldbug gets it wrong - communism was and is anti-Christian and atheist in nature, and it does not make analytic sense to regard it as a Christian heresy. To point at the post-communist corrupted pseudo-Christian churches and accuse them of causing Leftism is an example of victim-blaming. The Leftism of most modern church leaders is more akin to Stockholm Syndrome, the pitiful parrotings of the chronically abused, than it is to the masterminds of Leftist strategy.)


What was not apparent in 1968 was the extent to which communism/ Leftism would achieve its goals primarily by the sexual revolution - by 'rights talk' applied to anyone who advocated sexual practices out-with faithful marriage.

The potential for the initially merely-libidinous sexual revolution to be deployed politically, to add-to the 'civil rights' based race alliance by pandering to women, the sexually promiscuous, those with psychopathologies and so on - This process was insidious, cumulative and surprising in its scope, effectiveness and destructiveness of tradition, Christianity and pretty much everything that was good about The West.

But in terms of where communism/Leftism was located in the USA, and how it operated; the politically-mainstream Benson was using the same analytic frame as was rediscovered forty years later by Mencius Moldbug - the main difference being that Moldbug was coming from an atheist Leftist then Libertarian background, while Benson was speaking from a rooted Christian perspective.


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

How Mouse Utopia perhaps allows the imposition of Political Correctness?


Sacred places

There are sacred places - some very personal (sacred perhaps only to me) - but others, it seems, have properties generally recognizable. This ruined medieval chapel was once a national place of pilgrimage - probably associated with an appearance of Mary holding the infant Jesus.

Very near my home, in a suburb of a big city, yet the chapel remains a place of worship and is tended - in its way - by ikons, homemade crosses, prayer cards, varied stautuary...

Extraordinarily, some of these small and mobile and unwatched tokens have been there for many years.

Have they been thus far protected by some magic about the place and reverence residual in most people?

Yes - thus far, they have. 


From a poem by William Blake:

The fields from Islington to Marybone,
To Primrose Hill and Saint John’s Wood,
Were builded over with pillars of gold;
And there Jerusalem’s pillars stood.

Her Little Ones ran on the fields,

The Lamb of God among them seen,
And fair Jerusalem, His Bride,
Among the little meadows green.

Pancras and Kentish Town repose
Among her golden pillars high,
Among her golden arches which
Shine upon the starry sky.

The Jew’s-harp House and the Green Man,
The Ponds where boys to bathe delight,
The fields of cows by William’s farm,
Shine in Jerusalem’s pleasant sight.

She walks upon our meadows green;
The Lamb of God walks by her side;
And every English child is seen,
Children of Jesus and His Bride.


Monday, 23 February 2015

The busyness of Mormons - compared with me...

The busyness of serious Mormons (specifically Mormon men) arises naturally from the three life priorities of family, church and work.

Families are the priority. There should be as many children as can be raised decently; and families must be given adequate time and energy.

The LDS church absolutely depends on members to run it, and good works are mandatory. There are 'callings' to numerous necessary specific part-time, unpaid church jobs (of which the heaviest may be Bishop and Stake President, but many are very time-consuming, and at unsocial hours).

Work for Mormon men must be harder than for most people; because there is a tithe to support the church, a larger than usual family (indeed, the family should ideally be grown until it uses-up all surplus income), missions to be saved and paid for, more education than usual to be paid for. And this means the added busyness of careful, detailed budgeting.

In sum, to do all this; active(devout) Mormons almost-must be busy- and by all accounts they are. Very.


This is as it should be; this is the way the world runs.

And most people seem happier to be busy - and being busy at good things is the best kind of busy - and I say nothing against it.

Busyness has a cost, of course - in terms of depth, contemplation, originality, spontaneity... but it probably is a cost that is (nearly always) worth paying - at least the good things of life - family and church; and also work, and therefore 'society', are beneficiaries of the cost paid.


But for myself, I cannot tolerate a life of busyness.

I have tried, several times, and failed to lead a busy and efficient life - but I simply cannot make myself do it.

Like Thoreau, but probably more so, I absolutely require a life 'with a broad margin'.

If I am not getting it, the need grows to become irresistible; I become possessed by a kind of slowly-exploding rage until I have (by whatever means) created an adequate margin.


All this is exacerbated and enforced by my not having a great deal of energy - I fairly soon tire of anything; even supposed leisure activities like watching TV. I find 'fun' especially exhausting. It seems that I need (or at least want) a lot more unstructured time, and also sleep, than most people.


I cannot justify this - and it would probably be wrong to try. It all sounds like - and no doubt is - self-indulgence.

I can claim that I would not do what I do, unless I was not busy - but them who cares about what I do? And is it any more, or better, than what other much busier (and more socially valuable people) do? No. Not really. Not remotely. 


I know that if everyone was like me, there would be no society; humanity would collapse into chaos, and go extinct.

Thank Heavens for busy people! Salt of the earth! - but I am not one of them.


Note: I should clarify that although I am not 'A Mormon'  - not a member nor even an attender of the CJCLDS - I believe all the Mormon doctrines and fully support the church and its leadership.

The divinisation of man (theosis) is the primary aim of reality (salvation - albeit essential - is but a means to this end)

Although seldom formulated in such terms, it is perhaps the greatest triumph of Mormonism to have recognized and implemented in practice the understanding that God's great purpose for this universe is that Man should become divine; and that salvation - although vital to this aim - is but a means to that end.


For any real Christian, God is firstly and completely a loving entity; and God is our Heavenly Father who loves us as his children.

What, then, can we infer that our God of love wants primarily? As a loving being, He wants others with whom to share love - which is why He had children; and these children should include some who grow to the same general level as himself (i.e. adult with respect to God Himself) - as this is the highest form of love of which we know.


This apparently means that, although God surely loves us as 'immature' children (just as we love so much our own young children) it is a part of this love of immature children that (in a timescale of eternity) we hope that at least some, perhaps as many as possible, will ideally and voluntarily mature and 'grow-up' to become sufficiently like in adult-nature to ourselves that there can be the possibility of the fullest possible reciprocity of loving relationship.

(Mature to be like in nature, but different as individuals - there would be no point in loving an array of identical persons; there is no need for more than one distinctive person. The loving nature of God includes the implication that each individual is unique and individually valuable because of their uniqueness.)

Indeed, as a wholly loving being; for God there would be no limit to how grown-up these children should become in relation to God Himself; and no limit to how many such children there should eventually be.

(Although - equally - it would always be desirable to have young children, still-growing, in the family).


Thus theosis, the growth in God-nature, in divinity, would seem to be our loving God's main purpose in making and sustaining the universe of reality; and in begetting us, His children.

Salvation - that is, the process of incarnation, death (separation of body and soul), resurrection (reuniting of a perfected body and a purified soul) and eternal life can therefore be seen as 'merely' means to this eternal end of theosis.


(Salvation is apparently essential to theosis, but is not an end in itself - salvation is a stage on the pathway of theosis. Because if salvation was the primary goal then there would be no point in life and living - since there would be no point in being born as incarnate mortals - we would be better to be born and stay as angels in Heaven; because in living we are always at risk of losing salvation. This surely suggests that mortal incarnate life must be about gaining something so important that it is worth the risk of losing salvation. That 'something' is God-like divinity.)


The divinization of Man throughout eternity is the primary purpose of reality, of our God of Love; and all else (including salvation) is instrumental with respect to theosis.  


Sunday, 22 February 2015

My repentance theory of Christ's Atonement (stimulated by wanting to complete the argument of Terryl Givens's Wrestling the Angel)

I have been reading Terryl L Givens's most recent scholarly book about Mormonism - Wrestling the Angel - The foundations of Mormon thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity (Oxford University Press, 2015), and my verdict is that the book is simply superb.

By my evaluation; Givens is one of the most sheerly intelligent writers alive, and also a man whose thought processes and evaluations are extremely congenial to me - he is 'on my wavelength' in an intellectual sense, and has a similar set of priorities in the domain of theology and religion.

In general, I find Givens's account and explication of Mormon theology to be completely satisfying; the exception is The Atonement, the various theories of which he explores in a useful and thorough fashion, before concluding that (as a statement of fact) there is no satisfactory and comprehensive Mormon theory of the Atonement - its importance is central to modern Mormonism, but its nature and operations are essentially regarded as a mystery.

While I hope that this suffices for most people, I am continually 'bugged' by a personal need to understand - or at least know more about - the nature of the Atonement; and having finished Givens's book I felt that for the first time I may be able to articulate a theory which satisfies me - which, in other words, satisfies the constraints I understand to be necessary for an adequate theory from a Mormon metaphysical and theological perspective.


In a nutshell, this theory is the idea that Christ's Atonement was about repentance, rather than sin as such; and that Christ's sufferings (in the Garden of Gethsemane and on The Cross) were a suffering of the agonies of repentance for Man - rather than a suffering of the sins of Man.

By his Atonement, therefore, Christ enabled all Men to repent and be saved - by the simple (and 'easy') act of accepting Christ's supreme act of vicarious repentance - this replacing the 'impossible' demand of Men to repent each and every one of their sins individually and wholly.


How do I get to this theory?

The basic 'set-up' is my conviction that human agency (or free will - the ability of all men to be a 'first cause' or 'unmoved mover' - i.e. genuinely to choose from within ourselves and not as a consequence of prior causes) is due to our eternal pre-mortal existence and primary autonomy.

In other words Human agency is not from God, not a gift from God - it is a given fact of reality; which God must work-around, and which God cannot overwhelm or obliterate (even if He wanted-to - which I do not think he does).

Agency just is a fact of existence.


So the Atonement takes place against a back-drop of ineradicable agency - God's 'problem' was to advance Men towards divinity in this context. It seems that incarnation and mortality are absolutely necessary for Man to make spiritual progress towards divinity - therefore I infer that the single most important thing about incarnate life is death.

Death is the gateway to incarnate immortality.


I accept that we all, as pre-mortal spirit, volunteered to undergo life on earth and death. But the big problem anticipated for this 'plan' would have been that mortal life of earth entails sin (we are too weak, temptations too numerous and strong), and sin renders us unfit for resurrection to immortality.

(If we - as we are in mortal life - were resurrected to immortality, then that would be a kind of Hell; to benefit from resurrection our souls must be purified and our bodies perfected and yet we remain our-selves - and this process of pre-resurrection purification and perfection can only be done with our consent.

This is salvation - being saved to eternal life ('life' referring to incarnate immortality, as our-selves).

Resurrection to happiness depends on repentance - and that is all it depends upon. 


My understanding is that nobody - none of the pre-mortal spirits which we were - would be so reckless and foolish as to volunteer to risk mortality under such difficult conditions unless there was special provision that salvation would be easy and straightforward.

If our individual salvation required recognition, acknowledgement and repentance of every single sin; then salvation would be a rare occurrence - perhaps nobody would ever be saved.

Thus, provision was made that mortal men should be saved by the vicarious Atonement of Jesus Christ - He would save us; and all that each of us would need to do would be freely to choose to to accept Christ's act on our behalf.


So the divine Son of God was incarnated and died - and by this account Christ's death was the single most important thing he did; but his death would not have been efficacious unless he had also performed the Atonement; and the Atonement must be about repentance.

Without Christ's Atonement, repentance would be de facto impossible - since there is too much to repent, and because our knowledge of what needs to be repented is partial and distorted.

So, as mortals, we could never know the full extent of our transgressions - and therefore we would not even know what had to be repented.

And while we were 'working through' discovering and understanding all the multitude of things that needed repenting, then we would be accumulating more sins...

Because the nature of repentance is recognition and acknowledgement - repentance is knowing that we have objectively sinned which is vital; and knowing how so many of our attitudes and actions are at-odds-with the divine plan.

In a nutshell, full repentance requires a full knowledge of reality, and knowledge of our denials of reality (denials by thought and deed).

Since this is impossible, it can only be done for us. And it was done, by Christ's Atonement.


I take it as axiomatic that for a Christian,  Christ's Atonement must be absolutely necessary. That is, necessary to the salvation of Men.

Since repentance is a psychological act; then this psychological act must be made effective.

Since specific repentance for each and every sin is impossible, effective repentance absolutely requires that repentance be simplified to a single decision that encompasses all other decisions. 

It was Christ's Atonement that made repentance into a single decision. 


My understanding is that before He died, Christ repented all the sins of everyone who had lived and died up to that point - all who lived before Him - and it was the pain of this vast act of Atonement which he apparently underwent mainly in Gethsemane and on The Cross.

After His death and resurrection, Christ continued, and He continues, to repent the since of all who lived and died after He did, and those live and die now - and He continues to suffer for that reason.

So Christ's Atonement made effective repentance possible - from this act, we may by a single choice accept that God loves us, that He is wholly good; and that God's plans are for our benefit - and by repentance we permanently ally ourselves with these plans.


The Atonement gave mortal life on earth a fail-safe mechanism. 

This was necessary.

Many or most - or perhaps all - people who are incarnated as Men, and who volunteered to be incarnated as Men, lead terrible lives which render them in need of repentance on an epic and virtually impossible scale.

But this need will have been fore-known, and our Loving Father who wants everyone to be saved (that is, everyone who will consent to be saved - He cannot force anyone to be saved - nor would He wish to compel them even if He could)... our Loving Father made provision for this outcome; so that we would be saved anyway by the shortest and simplest and most-accessible of acts: the simple acceptance of the gift of full-repentance which Christ did for us, and which He offers to give us. 

Because of the Atonement we have nothing more to do than recognise the nature of this gift and accept it; and our reward is the happiness of eternal incarnate life as our-real-selves (with a purified soul in a perfected body).


Even the weakest person born into the worst circumstances can achieve this acceptance of a gift - when each of us was and will be presented, after death, with a restoration of our pre-mortal state of full understanding of the divine plan.

Of course, we will (as free agents) be able to reject this gift - and to choose damnation.

This is why mortal incarnate life was and is a real risk, and why it was essential that all who underwent it (all of us,that is) were volunteers who knew the risks.

Mortality offers the possibility, even the probability, of spiritual progress towards divinisation; it also contains the ineradicable risk that at the end of it all, we might reject salvation and damn-ourselves.

Our loving Father would not have set up this plan of salvation unless the odds of salvation were stacked in our favour; so the odds are indeed stacked in our favour - and to do this was the work of Christ's Atonement.

But no matter how favourable the odds of salvation - salvation cannot be guaranteed, because of the primary reality of agency.


Saturday, 21 February 2015

The law of compensation?

The idea of compensation seems to be built into humans at some level - I mean the assumption that if a person has some obvious defect then there will be some compensatory gift, ability or virtue.

I would say that there is not much empirical evidence for this being true, probably more against it being true - but it seems to be something we feel or expect anyway.

Therefore; I assume the law of compensation is a metaphysical truth, something built-into us as a principle of reality - something which is true despite appearances.

If we knew more, and saw more (more widely, more deeply), then we would all perceive compensation at work all of the time; but, as it is, the reality of compensation is more like a hunch, a suspicion, or a hope.


Friday, 20 February 2015

Reality is relational

My understanding is that marriage, family and true friendship are derived from eternal reality.

These are not merely earthly inventions or expedients or means to desirable worldly ends - they are not merely the source of analogies for our understanding of Heaven... instead these fundamental relationships of marriage, family and friendship are a product of our pre-mortal personal experience of ultimate reality.

(They may also be a product of direct divine revelation.)

Marriage, family and friendship are eternal forms, eternal templates - their existence on earth is in (albeit imperfect, incomplete, partial and distorted) conformity with the basic metaphysical structure of everything.

To rebel against the ideals of marriage, family and friendship - to subvert, attack and invert these relations - is therefore to deny reality and join the revolution on the side against against Truth and Good.

It just is - one way or another - to adopt destruction as the primary goal and ethic.

Not a small matter...


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Could Mouse Utopia explain political correctness? A matter of attitudes...

Mouse Utopia term is explained below ^

It is possible, perhaps even plausible, that the usual type of explanation for the self-hating, self-destructive insanities of New Left Political Correctness may be insufficient - and that in reality the core, permissive, necessary factor has not been socio-political but instead biological.

If the Mouse Utopia scenario is accepted, then since about 1800 in England (where the industrial revolution began), and starting with the upper classes (who were the first to benefit from lowering child mortality rates, and also the first to reduce fertility) then new and almost always deleterious mutations have been building up generation upon generation.

These mutations are 'random' and their effects fall randomly in the genome - how would they show themselves?

The answer is they would affect behavioural traits that are quantitative fitness measures (such as general intelligence, which has apparently declined rapidly and substantially over the past couple of centuries); and mutations would also have an early and rapid effect on behavioural traits that are the most sensitive and subtle, such as social and sexual adaptations.


In particular, I think the first affected traits would be attitudes.

I think that attitudes are extremely sensitive to even slight pathology, sickness, dysfunction of many types; and would therefore change before actual behaviours changed.

Thus, an early sign of Mouse Utopia would be changes in attitudes, especially social and sexual attitudes - and since mutations are nearly always harmful what we might see was...

Maladaptive changes in social and sexual attitudes.


By maladaptive I mean tending to reduce personal (and group) survival, and reduce reproduction.

Well... it fits with political correctness, like a glove.

Not proof - but the social and sexual domination of modern Leftism seems to be consistent with Mouse Utopia.

Also posted at:


^ The Mouse Utopia hypothesis (deriving from Michael A Woodley) is that the relaxation of the historically very harsh forces of natural selection - especially the near abolition of child mortality in recent decades - has led to a generation-by-generation, objectively-dysgenic accumulation of deleterious mutations that are incrementally destroying the adaptiveness of the human species.

This process has been accelerated by a reversal of the historical pattern of reproductive success which started from the early and mid 1800s in the West, to favour the reproductive success of the lowest in intelligence (= highest in mutation load), and on average of lower social class and status. In other words, differential fertility has favoured those who would, on average, be carrying the heaviest load of deleterious mutations - while those who would be expected to have the least mutations have declined to severely sub-replacement fertility.

Every life is a failure?

I am re-reading Colin Wilson's easily book Religion and the Rebel (1957) which begins with an autobiographical essay describing the period of his teens and early twenties when it seemed to him that every human life was a failure - and his own determination not to fail.

I can remember feeling almost exactly the same way - and indeed I think it is an almost inevitable perspective for any reflective atheist who sees human life purely in terms of mortal life - and excludes the possibility of a pre- and post-mortal life.


The basic problem with all mortal lives is death - and that is why from a purely mortal perspective all lives must be seen as a failure.

Because when mortal life is all there is, then there can no 'right time to die'.

Death either leaves unfulfilled the potential of early promise, or cuts-short achievement at its peak, or else it comes after achievement has declined - and after a period of dwindling, suffering, dependence...


This leads to the temptation of suicide (or indirectly engineering one's own death) among those who wish their life to make a satisfying trajectory and whole, by timing their own death.

(This, for instance, seems to have been a Samurai ideal, and is also found among Western 'Romantics' of the past couple of centuries.)

Well, that is the theory - but if we are honest with ourselves - at a gut level a life terminated by suicide does not really strike us as a success; even a calm or a more-or-less calculated suicide such as Arthur Koestler and his wife's suicide pact; or an indirectly by self-engineered demise like Lawrence of Arabia killed by habitually reckless driving, or the multitude of those who die of 'accidental' alcohol or drug overdoses in a context of deliberate addiction.

So, from a secular perspective, all biographies are tragedies of one sort or another; all lives are (more, or less) wasted.


So, when is a life not a failure? The answer is that some lives are a success when considered from the context of eternity. If we take a step back from mortality, we see that mortal life looks very different.

From the perspective of a believer in pre- and post-mortal life, mortal life is a finite episode in an unmeasured 'eternity' coming both before and after. Such a period is of extraordinary significance, however it turns-out - and at least some human lives can be seen as extremely positive in their nature and achievement.

Indeed, it may well seem that many, perhaps most, human lives have been successful in these eternal terms - in other words, success in life is that we are in a better situation at the end of our mortal existence than we were at its beginning.

Of course, by this account, failure is also possible; which is why success from an eternal perspective is an objectively meaningful evaluation - and not merely a matter of sticking-on an arbitrary 'success' label.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Repentance is Free Will weaponized against sin by Christ; our ultimate invulnerability against the world

Given that repentance is vital to the Christian in a world where men are weak and temptations are many and strong,

more needs to be said on the subject.


Repentance is a psychological act that is made possible - in other words it is made effective - by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

If it was not for Christ, then repentance would be merely a state of mind, or a change of mind; but because of Christ it is made effectual - because of Christ, repentance saves.


Humans have Free Will, that attribute does not depend on Christ, but the main, the primary function of Free Will is to repent.

Everybody, in every situation, is able to repent if they choose. And every act of repentance will be effective in negating the spiritual consequences of error, failure, weakness, sin, exhaustion, gullibility... everything.


The set-up is that we can always repent everything; because of Free Will repentance simply cannot be stopped or prevented by any power on earth, and because of Christ it is always effective.

This is each person's ultimate invulnerability against the world. And it was necessary that each person be so powerfully protected in order that earthly mortal life be 'a risk worth taking'.

If it were not for repentance, it would be better not to be born as incarnate mortals - but simply to be spirits in Heaven; because without repentance we would have near-zero chance of getting through life without becoming much worse than we began it, and would be be almost certain, after we died, to make the disastrous choice of pride, rejection of God and Hell.

But, by sending Men into mortal life equipped with repentance, which is Free Will weaponized against sin by Christ - this evil fate was prevented; unless after death we actively-choose Hell through refusal to repent that which we know is sin.

Christ made this defence for us by his life, death and resurrection; and he made it for everybody (including those who lived before Christ).

Repentance works for everyone in all circumstances - including those who have never heard of Christ.

What then is the point of telling people about Christ, what is the point of being Christian?


The first answer is that if we know about Christ it ought to make us better at, and more thorough about, and less resistant to repenting.

If we know how the world is set-up - that ought to be a help.

(Of course, sometimes, self-identified 'Christianity' becomes distorted and corrupted, and makes matters worse not better. For instance 'liberal Christianity' which denies the need for repentance of some sins; which indeed encourages pride in some sins is worse than 'nothing' - i.e. worse than Man's natural, spontaneous, 'animistic' religion.)


The second answer is that repentance, although essential, is not the end of the matter.

Living life is also about theosis, sanctification, spiritual progress or 'divination' - in other words, mortal earthly life is an opportunity to grow-up, mature and become more god-like - which is our destiny through eternity.

But, for us mortals, that glorious work and privilege only comes on the other side of repentance; only comes if our safety through life is assured by repentance. 


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Three 1969 Reggae Classics

I liked this music very much as a kid! I still find the beat almost irresistible.

The basis of the reggae beat is a 4/4 rhythm.

1. Rhythm guitar (or something) chopping chords on the off-beats - 2 and 4.

2. Snare drum hard on the third beat of the bar.

3. Bass guitar syncopated across the bars.

These early reggae (or rocksteady) groups had a simply wonderful loose-limbed quality to the way they played.

Perhaps my favourite - The Liquidator; featuring the ultra-attacking sound of a Hammond organ. I love syncopation - and the Hammond solo work is like a demonstration answer to the question 'what is syncopation?' :

Long Shot (kick de bucket) always sounded very amusing - I only now realize it is about a horse dying during a race (lyrics provided):

And this - having forgotten the title I have been looking for it on you tube for many years - only found it this evening, and listened for the first time in... 35 years? Called The Return of Django


Why is mortal life so full of temptations and problems; why are (most) people so unstable, foolish and quick to do evil?

Important questions.

Our understanding of the basic set-up of life, the human condition, God's plan of salvation; needs to take into account the nature of things as we experience them.

Although Men are seeded with divinity, and have inklings of the highest aspirations, and are capable of love; we find ourselves to be unstable, foolish and prone to lapse into wickedness when confronted with a world of temptations and problems.

Christ, by contrast, did not sin - He was tempted and suffered - but He was strong and wholly good. We, however, are not like that.


From this I infer that the yielding to temptation is not necessary to our spiritual growth - it is better to resist temptation (like Christ).

BUT - the basic situation is that we cannot in fact resist temptations. Although we are not intended to fail in any specific situation, the fact is that as weak creatures in a world of temptations and problems, we will fail - again and again and again.

We are therefore meant to learn by trial and error.  


So the primary weapon for humans against the world is not resisting temptation, is not 'being good' - the primary weapon is repentance.

We will fail, again and again, and therefore the important thing is what we do when we have failed.


Repentance is a tricky concept - but one way to think of it is that Christ made it possible for all humans to repent under any and all circumstances.

Repentance is (now, because of Christ) always possible to anyone; and always effective.


In a sense, we are here in order to repent; repentance is in one vital thing we must do, and can always do.

By this account, pride is simply the refusal to repent - therefore pride is the worst possible sin.

All the ultimate wickedness in the world can (crudely) be reduced to this - pride preventing repentance.


This may seem negative - but the other side of the coin is that life is an adventure with real stakes; but a safe adventure.

We must do our best, but we will fail again and again to achieve what we aspire to and to avoid what we want to avoid.

However we are ultimately safe and our immortal souls and eternal happiness cannot be harmed by anything the world can throw at us - so long as we repent in a final and ultimate sense.

Minimally, that is what life is for: to try, fail, repent.


(The topic of 'what exactly is repentance?' will require separate consideration. Here I want to establish that repentance- whether explicit or more usually implicit - is the single most important thing in this mortal incarnate life; without which it would - literally - have been better not to have lived at all.)


Monday, 16 February 2015

Crossing another line

A few days ago I saw for the first time a frontal facial tattoo on a 'normal' woman. She was in her thirties, I guess, conservatively dressed in a sensible coat and fleece hat; and she had a coloured flower something like 7 cm in diameter tattooed on one cheek.

The first and most important line crossed is having a tattoo of any kind anywhere - once the moral principle against voluntary permanent self-mutilation has been violated, this opens the door (personally for individuals, and socially) to further, more visible, more viscerally-shocking violations.

(Leaving aside circus acts and ex-prisoners), at first, tattoos were placed so they could be concealed by clothing - never on head, hands, or feet.

That was violated about a decade ago en masse, first on feet and ankles among women - who are the most tattooed sex; then on wrists and hands, then more recently on the back of the neck, then behind the ear.


People used to tell me, and some still do, that tattooing in the UK was just a fad and would stop when the youngsters saw tattoos on old people. But instead the tattoos just get more common (especially in women), more numerous, more prominent, much bigger - and now it seems we have moved into a new phase of frontal facial tattooing.

I have never seen one word said against tattoos in the mainstream mass media - and instead there is indirect encouragement of many kinds and in many ways. For instance tattoos are lovingly depicted on high status and beautiful celebs, and even 'nobility' (Dame Angelina Jolie, Dame Helen Mirren); they are always treated as sexy (which for modern people is the highest possible praise); there are newspapers discussions about which are the best tattoos - implicitly accepting that the practise of tattooing is good, and only the execution worthy of discrimination.

In sum there is an established mainstream media taboo against criticising tattooing - presumably at first 'justified' on the usual politically correct grounds; and now on the grounds that the majority of young women (and a large minority of young men) are tattooed, 'therefore' we ought to accept it, and indeed 'learn to love it'. 


What is most disturbing is that people have ceased to be shocked, surprised or even to comment on what is (in world historical terms) an extraordinary phenomenon; and surely the most obvious external sign and index of the inner state of modern Western society.


Sunday, 15 February 2015

The (potted) self-destruction of the Church of England - by Peter Mullen


Published in the Church of England Newspaper 6 Feb 2015
The Times has reported that the Church of England is to rewrite the Catechism “for a secular age.” Impossible. The church leaders have already emptied English Christianity of all Christian content. You think I exaggerate? Well, please read on…
First they ditched all the ancient dogmas which were good enough for St Augustine and Lancelot Andrewes but very clearly not good enough for the likes of J.A.T. Robinson, David Jenkins and John Hick. The Virgin Birth, they said, was based on a misunderstanding of a verse in Isaiah. Besides, for thoroughly paid up scientistic modern types such as Robinson, the Virgin Birth was just one of those things “I can’t believe.” 
Same with the Resurrection: it’s a made up story to express the disciples’ “experience of new life” after Our Lord’s crucifixion. Never mind that there’s no possible accounting for new life if Jesus remained dead. Then the miracles went as well. Only “acted parables,” that’s all. The feeding of the five thousand was a lesson on – wait for that drippy, churchy word – “sharing.” A socialist picnic provided by Jesus who was not the Son of God but, as Malcolm Muggeridge once said, only “the Labour party member for Galilee South.” 
Are you looking forward to your reward in heaven? Don’t bother: eternal life is not a continuation of Christian life after death but only “a superior quality of life in the here and now.”
Then they turned their attention to our traditional texts: the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. These were frankly offensive to the politically-correct modern ears of our terrifically progressive House of Bishops and General Synod who abolished sin and replaced it with self-esteem. So they gave the push to “the devil and all his works” because they don’t believe in the devil. We’re all far too “come of age” to dwell on the uncomfortable fact that we’re “miserable sinners.” 
At the wedding there’s no caution against “fornication” and “carnal lusts.” Men are no longer “brute beasts with no understanding.” And the modernisers have even managed to work a miracle of their own: they have removed “vile bodies” and “worms” from the funeral. They probably think we’re none of us going to die anyhow. Death is so last millennium.
Doctrine cast aside. The real Bible and the real Prayer Book discarded and dismissed in a protracted fit of contempt for beauty and truth. What remained then for them to destroy? Christian morality, that’s what. The Ten Commandments were simply “too judgemental” and so they had to be replaced by act utilitarianism, situation ethics, which means that you decide what’s good on the hoof, on the spur of the moment. 
This was excitedly described as “the new morality” when it first appeared in the 1960s. It was no new morality, but only the old immorality in a miniskirt. So there’s no sin, no devil, nothing to acknowledge, nothing to bewail. There really was no need for the Son of God to come and redeem us then, was there – except to transform us into sentimental egalitarians and diversity mongers?
I love Reinhold Niebuhr’s description of our contemporary “liberal” Christianity: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgement through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Why should anyone pay any heed to the tosh they teach now? 
I said “liberal” Christianity, but its practitioners are a very long way from the display of liberality. They agree only with those who agree with them, and anyone who affirms traditional Christianity is effectually unchurched. The liberal ascendancy began in the 1960s when the modernisers in the episcopate first out- gunned the traditionalists, and they have simply promoted themselves and their own sort ever since.
The liberals operate a form of bureaucratic demagogy chiefly through the General Synod. This is how it works… 
“Progressive” motions are brought before Synod and, when these do not receive the required majorities for their implementation, they are simply brought back again and again until the liberals get the results they desire. 
In the late 1980s, there was one outstanding example of this. The vote for women priests was defeated. When the numbers were announced, the then Archbishop of York, John Habgood, spoke. He said, “The motion has been lost. Now we must consider how to proceed.” Of course, if the Synod were the democracy it pretends to be, someone would have pointed out to the Archbishop that, in cases where a motion has been defeated, you don’t proceed. In fact the liberals’ tactical performance in Synod is a sort of ecclesiastical Trotskyism.
Now that the process of the church’s secularisation has been completed, one man at least will be pleased. That man is Rowan Williams [the previous Archbishop of Canterbury] who, in one of his last speeches before his retirement, told us that the church had a lot of catching up to do with secular mores. In other words, be ye not transformed by the renewing of your mind, but be ye conformed to this world.
So the result of all this is that the church which was for centuries pretty representative of the nation, governed by hierarchs who were High, Low or Broad, is now a secularised hegemony. It resembles an elite society for ethical experiments, its policies and pronouncements indistinguishable from those of the soft Left; and very occasionally of a harder Left. 
So what is there left for the archbishops and bishops to do? To preach their adolescent politics and their infantile economics and, from their palaces or perhaps a quiet corner in the House of Lords, write nagging letters to the coalition government.
Our liberal hierarchy has given up believing in Scriptural authority, thrown out the English Bible and the English Prayer Book, trivialised the liturgy and revolutionised the historic services which were our rites of passage to reflect the diktats of politically-correct and thoroughly secularised personal and social morality. 
Is there anything which they have not given up? Yes. They have not given up those other things that belong to their traditional role: their seats in the House of Lords and, of course, their palaces.
I suppose we should at least be thankful for that.
By Rev Dr Peter Mullen

NOTE: This systematic and continuing self-destruction by the CoE was not just a local sideshow - because the Church of England was the dominant and founding unit of the Anglican Communion, which was (after Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and due to the British Empire) the third largest Christian denomination in the world.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

How do we *know* that God is Love; and what are the implications (or, some of them)? (Reference to Nirvana)

There is more than one way that we may come to know that God is Love; but ultimately there should be an experience of personal revelation leading to a choice which can become personal conviction; this also confirmed by the authority of people (and books etc) that personal revelation tells us is valid. 

It seems to me that the clear and repeated (and new, clear, unambiguous) message of Jesus in the Gospels is that 'God is love' first-and-foremost; and that love is primary; and I think the rest of the Bible needs to be understood by that principle - even when (as in the Old Testament) the people of the time sometimes understood it differently.


The main reason I have come to favour and believe Mormon theology, is that it has gone further than any other to base itself upon God being essentially loving (including being prepared to follow-through the necessary implication that this must mean a less-than-omnipotent God); and how this implies a universe ultimately based-on relationships between personages/ agents; and I can see how this has worked-out and continues to unfold in practice over the past 180 years.


Now that I am personally convinced of the nature of God as love; then whenever I come across something in life, history or the Bible which seems to contradict this (such as the descriptions of Hell which apparently make it into everlasting and agonizing punishment inflicted on Man for the sins of Adam and Eve - i.e. God inflicting infinite and total punishment for a finite and partial transgression) then I know that this is a human misunderstanding of what is really going-on.

Even when I cannot (at present) think of a coherent alternative explanation which preserves the essentially loving nature of God; then I trust that there is such an explanation: if only I knew more and was more intelligent.


As an immature and rather weak and only partly-good child of God I cannot expect to know everything; nor can anybody.

But we can all trust our loving Father; and indeed only a (wholly) loving Father is worthy of total trust - even if His powers necessarily are limited and constrained; and even if He may be capable of mistakes.

Over the long run of eternity, because God does indeed love us wholly, and is indeed of immense power and intelligence (immense being too small a word!) - He will heal us of any and all sufferings and sorrows (heal us, but not make it as if we never had suffered).


I don't really understand how Christ's atonement did this for us (I cannot imagine the process; I have not had that revelation) except that Christ's incarnation, death and resurrection was done for us - for our healing; but also it was done for Christ's own ability to heal us. Christ had to become Man in order to be able to heal us, somehow it enabled him to do what could not otherwise have been done.

(But not because of satisfying the demands of divine 'justice'! That is a silly and cruel pseudo-explanation, although often well intentioned.)

Anyway, at some deep level of how reality 'works', personally undergoing the sequence of incarnation, death and resurrection was necessary to Christ's power to save us.) It seems clear that it is also necessary that if we hope to follow Christ, we too must go through this same process.


But the whole thing is voluntary, chosen, at every major step. So if (having died) we do not wish to follow Christ and become his friend - then we can have (or can experience) an impersonal and seemingly-timeless bliss in absorbed awareness of the good-ness of ultimate reality (i.e. Nirvana) - for as long as we wish to experience it, which might be forever.


I assume that some people (some pre-mortal spirits) chose this fate instead of choosing to be incarnated on earth, and I think we too can - after having experienced incarnation and death - decide to return to this Nirvana 'state of being (but perhaps as resurrected Men rather than discarnate spirits) instead of progressing further in divine-human relationships - we can, as it were, choose to live in a state of abstract love, rather than personal love.

This is not what God hopes from us as an ideal; otherwise there would not have been any reason or necessity for incarnation, death and resurrection(and I think this aspect of mortal life as therefore having been 'futile' is sensed by Nirvana seeking religions).

But our loving Heavenly Father would not 'force upon us' a relationship with him which could only truly be chosen, and with the only alternative being Hell.

God, as our wholly-loving father, deeply and wholly wants us each to be happy; so He allows us to choose this Nirvana despite that this choice negates the reason for us originally having chosen incarnate mortality - while hoping always that at some point in eternity we may choose to 'wake-up' and resume spiritual progression as a resurrected person living in loving relationships with other resurrected persons.


(That's how it seems to me - in very broad principle; but the details are filled-in by reasoning, and are surely more-or-less inaccurate.)


Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Lord of the Rings in five highly insightful minutes


Which religion should I choose - and on what grounds should I choose? A suggestion

Find a religion - or if you are already Christian, then a denomination of Christianity - which warms your heart more, the more you discover about it; which focuses on what you consider most important; which (to put it bluntly) 'offers' that which you most deeply need.

And then see if it is true.

If it is true (using the standards of truth you sincerely believe are appropriate to evaluating a religion), then you are home-and-dry; but if it is untrue - then keep looking.


This is not so ridiculous a suggestion as it may seem! Because it is very striking that how little most religions offer as a reward. 

For example, you might imagine that liberal Christianity offers a lot - since liberal Christians have abandoned all the demanding and tough aspects of being a Christian - but it doesn't work like that at all!

With liberal Christianity you don't have to worry about Hell, but then liberals don't believe in Heaven either (if pressed, they will say that Heaven is an attitude of mind we may hope to experience on this earth, during mortal life). Liberal Christians pretty much  accept secular Leftist morality on the sexual revolution - so the church approves sex outside marriage and with a wide range of choices; but then sex has no religious meaning, no transcendental stability, no magic about it at all! Sex has gone from being sacred to being a diversion.

My point is that it might have been expected that liberal Christianity would offer its adherents everything they wanted, all at once; but it doesn't and indeed no religion does. From a perspective of fulfilling our wishes, all religions apparently give with one hand and take away with the other - you never gain license without losing power. You never destroy restriction without losing direction.


I am not (NOT NOT) saying that all religions are the same and therefore a matter of indifference! But I am saying that there is a kind of basic honesty about religions, by which they seem to end-up offering only what they can give.

Liberal Christianity can alleviate worry about what might happen after death, but only by making death an extinction. Buddhism can alleviate the pain of attachment to this world, but only at the cost of making each reincarnated life a matter of indifference, merely a means to an end - and the end is annihilation.

And 'Heaven' - what is it? Some say a sensuous paradise, some say a bliss of absorption into timeless divinity, some say we retain our sexuality and live with our families, some say we lose our sexuality and are absorbed in worship...


The thought experiment is one putting aside doubts for a moment, and of saying: I can have what I want: here it is. Now what?

Why should this work, as I think it does? The reason is 'metaphysics'. Each religion is, in part, a metaphysical system- a description of ultimate reality; and metaphysical systems have an innate desire to be simple, comprehensible, and coherent. 

So whatever principle a religion places at the centre and as the focus of its metaphysical system will- in order to be believable - affect all other aspects of that metaphysical system: the principle will organise the metaphysics around-itself. 

Therefore, whatever a religion regards as most important will necessarily take what it needs from the rest of the religion; so, no religion offers everything, because to offer everything would be in fact to offer nothing (nothing except a string of utterly unconvincing claims).

For a religion to work, it needs a metaphysical system; and for a metaphysical to work it must be simple, comprehensible and coherent- and this happens automatically (no matter how much religious professionals try to stop it) ; and that metaphysical system can only convincingly offer one that at the cost of another thing: that is 'life' (as we call it).


It will, I think, be found that for most religions we would not want what they had to offer even on the assumption that they really do offer everything they claim.

But we may be fortunate to find a religion or a denomination that offers just exactly that thing which we most profoundly desire of existence; only better expressed than ever we could have done for ourselves.

Keep looking: what you want is probably there, somewhere.

(I am pretty confident I know roughly where that will turn-out to be; but you need to find it for yourself. )


Creativity in normal, average people


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Intuition comes before Evidence, Imagination before Reason, Meaning before Facts

For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.” C.S Lewis.

So, we need both reason and imagination - but which comes first?

The answer is imagination - because truth must have meaning before it is truth (otherwise it is just decontextualised 'facts').

This is a matter of crucial importance.


If we are talking about reasons for being a Christian, or for being one kind of Christian rather than another, then we are confronted with external Evidence and our own Intuition - but which comes first?

Most Christians would probably say evidence comes first, but they are wrong: the answer must be intuition is primary.

Because it is only by intuition that we know the validity of reason, and the evidential nature of evidence.


Evidence cannot support evidence, without obvious circularity (e.g. we cannot coherently use the Bible to prove the evidential validity of the Bible). Intuition must underpin evidence - intuition must underpin whatever it is that we regard as evidence - or else we are simply not making that decision for Christ which we know to be essential to Christianity.


The validity of intuition - or rather its necessity - implies divine revelation: implies indeed personal divine revelation as the bedrock of Christian faith. Otherwise there is no reason to assume that intuition is at all valid, given that we all know so many instances when intuition is not valid, when it is changeable and has been mistaken: we all know that intuition is fallible.

But validity is not infallibility. Nothing is infallible - but some things are valid.


Mormonism recognises that there is doctrine given by revelation to prophets, recorded in scripture, and transmitted by the church; but that this ought to be validated (in all significant respects) by personal revelation: for instance personal revelation of the validity of the prophets, scriptures and church authorities.

This recognises that intuition (in the form of personal revelation) is potentially and ideally the strongest, most enduring, most considered and tested basis of Christian faith.


Christianity should not be afraid of intuition - should not pretend that it can do without intuition; should not be paralysed by the fact that intuition is often - perhaps usually - wrong.

Because there is no alternative to intuition: Intuiting is unavoidably the basis of all Christianity, which is unavoidably a religion of the heart.

As Christians, we just are agents, we just do have choice, and Christ can only be accepted by autonomous intuition.


It is simply not Christian to accept Christ on the basis of reason, authority, tradition, expediency - or, for that matter, coercion; it is not Christian to accept Christ on the basis of any external factor.

External factors are relevant and very important - but they are secondary.

The bottom line, which is necessary and sufficient, is for each individual to choose Christ in his heart, from within his own resources, because he feels intuitively that Christ is real, true, good and loving.


Note: The choice of Christ need not be conscious, or at an identifiable moment; often a person may only know that they have-chosen Christ. He or she may not know how, when or why this happened, only that the choice was made. That is enough: it is not necessary to know more.

The Gum Gatherer by Robert Frost

There overtook me and drew me in
To his down-hill, early-morning stride,
And set me five miles on my road
Better than if he had had me ride,
A man with a swinging bag for 'load
And half the bag wound round his hand.

We talked like barking above the din
Of water we walked along beside.
And for my telling him where I'd been
And where I lived in mountain land
To be coming home the way I was,
He told me a little about himself.

He came from higher up in the pass
Where the grist of the new-beginning brooks
Is blocks split off the mountain mass --
And hopeless grist enough it looks
Ever to grind to soil for grass.
(The way it is will do for moss.)

There he had built his stolen shack.
It had to be a stolen shack
Because of the fears of fire and logs
That trouble the sleep of lumber folk:
Visions of half the world burned black
And the sun shrunken yellow in smoke.
We know who when they come to town
Bring berries under the wagon seat,
Or a basket of eggs between their feet;

What this man brought in a cotton sack
Was gum, the gum of the mountain spruce.
He showed me lumps of the scented stuff
Like uncut jewels, dull and rough
It comes to market golden brown;
But turns to pink between the teeth.

I told him this is a pleasant life
To set your breast to the bark of trees
That all your days are dim beneath,
And reaching up with a little knife,
To loose the resin and take it down
And bring it to market when you please.


COMMENT: This is one of my favourite of Frost's poems - for the wonderful uplift and delight of the last six lines.

As (almost) always with Frost's best work, this poem is about what it is about (i.e. meeting a gum gatherer); and also about poetry - the writing of poetry: about being a poet; and then again about life, about the human condition.

(The gum being a poem - brought alive by the reader, when the dull roughness comes alive and 'turns to pink' when it is chewed in the mind and by the heart. And that is also our own communications with fellow Men - we need them for our communications to communicate.)

That ending is the wish the poet has (and the yearning we all each of us have); that my life - getting my living - should be simply an overflow of what I spontaneously want anyway most to do; just a gathering of the natural fruits of nature and my nature - merely a matter of 'loosing the resin' and bringing it 'to market' - when I please!