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Jon Stewart’s take down of ACORN is quite funny, but as a friend of mine said this morning, the real story is that anyone is shocked or suprised by this stuff.  On display in the ACORN videos is the true mind of the underclass in America.  A mind ground down by poverty, made vicious and mean by the failure of Christianity, made weak and subservient by entitlement and victimology, and made cynical, violent, and desperate by a system of double standards and spoils which leaves them on the outside looking in.  A mind that scoffs at the law, thinks nothing of child prostitution, accepts political corruption as a fact akin to gravity, views other people as nothing but pieces to be played.  If you ain’t playin’ you gettin’ played, play-uh.

I see this mind every day in the courtroom as a District Attorney.  It is sad and tragic, yes, but worse, it is dangerous.  America, including her tea-parties, rides on this powder-keg like some deranged Major Kong falling through the air waiving Obama protest images like cowboy hats.

On the other side is the boomer mind, which is arguably the mind animating the tea-parties themselves.  It is a mind grown fat on entitlement, made weak, stupid, and sebservient from excess and conspicuous consumption, made hypocritical and self-centered by the failure of Christianity, and grown cynical and desperate by a system of spoils and double standards that they only now are realizing is threatening to leave them on the outs.

What both the underclass and the boomers have in common is dependence on the State (they are relationships of mutual exploitation) and, in my judgment, the inability or refusal to work.  America has ceased being a people who work for themselves.  Self-government cannot long last in this climate.  For if you won’t work for yourself, eventually you will be enslaved, perhaps even willingly.

Solomon understood.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Caleb,
    Because I’m busy in the woods, I’ve only got time for one small point re: your ACORN apologetics, and congrats on posing your interpretation of the social dichotomy…I love this search for the truth of things!):

    “On display in the ACORN videos is the true mind of the underclass in America. A mind ground down by poverty, made vicious and mean by the failure of Christianity, made weak and subservient by entitlement and victimology, and made cynical, violent, and desperate by a system of double standards and spoils which leaves them on the outside looking in. A mind that scoffs at the law, thinks nothing of child prostitution, accepts political corruption as a fact akin to gravity, views other people as nothing but pieces to be played.”

    I don’t recall, and I may be wrong, the same or similar behavior overall among the ‘poor’ during the Depression. That is to say there was NOT a significant increase in crime during the Depression while crime in the hood today, e.g. black on black crime, is seven or eight times higher than crime in primarily Caucasian neighborhoods. Why is it different now? What caused this horrific social breakdown and are we even allowed to ask this question?

  2. Even for Friedman, that essay was particularly breathtaking. Even some of my acquaintances on the left were red-faced about that one.

  3. “the failure of Christianity” is a drum you beat twice here.
    The United States has no state religion, for all some like to trumpet “we are a Christian nation”. Those areas heavily informed by faith, e.g. Lancaster County, PA, are still chugging along at a full-tilt buggy pace.
    It would be helpful if you’d pick up the other end of the argument. Proper Christianity has been supplanted, particularly in the inner city, by an ecumenical squishy secular Thing With No Name.
    And, while Christianity may fail in specific instances, the Christ remains immaculate.

  4. As usual, there is a danger in overgeneralizing (all the underclass are this way, etc) But considering the statistics on the rape of children that live in the projects (upwards to 80%)it doesn’t surprise me that they don’t feel very hopeful, and accept as usual the unthinkable. I also suspect that drugs have the seeds of the difference in the crime stats between the great depression and this one. Meth doesn’t make anyone sensible.

    One thing that is true is that people are being shackled against doing for themselves. There are government laws about lead in children’s toys, which include Sarah down the street trying to make some money by selling homemade teddy bears while Mattel (!) is exempt. People in suburbs aren’t allowed to have chickens, let alone legally sell the eggs. Children don’t learn how to make money for themselves (if they are even allowed to play on the streets!) because what can they do? Newspaper routes are a thing of the past. I think we have a couple of generations cut off at the knees.

  5. I’m afraid I don’t follow Caleb’s logic when he says that the “boomer mind…is arguably the mind animating the tea-parties themselves.”

    If anything, the anecdotes from the average tea-party protest gives evidence that they are blue-collar, middle-income Americans who want their government to recognize limits in the same way that they have to recognize limits at home. How does this square with the blanket, unsubstantiated statement that they are animated by a “mind grown fat on entitlement, made weak, stupid, and sebservient from excess and conspicuous consumption, made hypocritical and self-centered by the failure of Christianity, and grown cynical and desperate by a system of spoils and double standards that they only now are realizing is threatening to leave them on the outs”???

    I realize that Caleb is trying to point out that the failure of personal responsilibity is not limited to the lower-income underclass, and on this point he is right.

    However, I don’t see why he attacks the tea-party protests, which, if anything, are proof that there might yet be something left of the virtue necessary for self-government.

  6. I get tired explaining this to white people from nice white places. Can you really be so obtuse, so blind to the obvious?

    Bob: Have you read some FBI stats on Irish on Irish crime from the 1860s, or Italian on Italian crime from the 1930s? Even if all you have to go on is pop culture representations and some vague sense of stats from the teeveenews, I fail to see a qualitative difference in depravity between “Gangs of New York” and “Boyz in the Hood.”

    The one difference that does seem reasonably historically valid and instructive is that white ethnic immigrant ghettos of the past enjoyed a less regulated society, less centralized, less “professionalized,” and more accessible government. There were no hangups about violence and aggression. While spectacular violence involving guns and bombs may have been restricted mainly to the Italians, a much higher baseline tolerance, expectation of, and love of violence prevailed in a thoroughly unPC male-dominated society where prostitution was probably more legal and less marginalized than it is today. Ward politics were like your dim conception of what ACORN must be like–but more effective for advancing enterprising pimps/politicians. Overall, there was much greater upward social mobility for white ethnic underclass ghettoes; it was predicated on them being able to become white/assimilated into the WASP-controlled mainstream.

    Proliferation of drugs has something to do with the comparatively stagnant nature of the black urban ghetto, but the most important difference it may have relative to its preceding (and still coexisting) white counterparts is that no other group has started with so few resources, so many disadvantages, and such powerful opposition from the two main ideological camps in mainstream politics. Our national program is devastatingly effective, and the black on black crime you notice is the intended result–a sign of the program’s effectiveness, as is your type of hand-wringing, which is the kind of input politicians use to call for more prisons and more welfare. Arrest and molest the males, cycle them through prison, and pen them in their own filth while offering free food and money as an incentive not to work and to have children–does anyone really believe this is anything other than the closest thing we can get to helotage? http://www.classicauthors.net/carlyle/SartorResartus/SartorResartus25.html

    The socially radical elements among the groups menacing enough to have gangs and mafias (Jews, Irish, Italians) were able to get a leg up at a time when the mixture of criminality and politics was still pretty normal, mainly because there was not much anyone could do about it from a standpoint of untouchable, uncorruptible principles of pure justice. “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” is the antidote to all the fantasy myths of “untouchable” sheriffs who clean up the town in a fair fight, like Jesus with a six-shooter.

    The “failure of Christianity” is an interesting, cryptic idea. I would say it is more of the failure of semi-Christianized Europe at the beginning of modernity (1500s) to further augment its understanding of order and “policy” to be able to absorb or simply co-exist with Machiavelli minus all the moralistic denial that the bourgeois mind has used to cope with political reality since then.

    Machiavellians are the men who shoot Liberty Valance and do what is necessary in corrupt environments. Batman as “the Dark Knight” is the current iteration of America’s semi-conscious perception of this truth. We don’t know how to have and don’t really want to have an honest politics and an honest public sphere which is one where you bring a gun to a gunfight and shoot enemies in the back from the shadows when possible.

  7. Adam, from the article I linked:

    “Last year, we spent $456 billion on Medicare, and it is the fastest growing major government program. How likely is it that the people protesting Obama’s Medicare cuts will stand with Republicans if they propose cutting that program even more to balance the budget? They will switch sides in an instant. The elderly will fight anyone who tries to cut their benefits even as they hypocritically demand fiscal responsibility and rant about the national debt. The elderly are the reason why we have a national debt.”

    I said, “arguably,” which has already been snarkily pointed out. And elsewhere I have defended the tea-party-ers.

    https://www.frontporchrepublic.com/?p=6038

  8. Gerontitis,
    Dude, that was great stuff…much appreciated and enjoyed. I go ahead and drop these little bombs and no one pays attention, but you did and thank you.
    I do hope you petition the FPR Editorial board for permission to submit a more expansive explanation/apologetics of the black urban phenomenon therein described so eloquently, which is totally derailed by the reality of a significant majority of blacks who are educated, speak English, get married, raise their young in families, pay taxes, serve the community/nation in a myriad of ways and are a part of the majority culture.
    And, silly me thinking it was merely a question of human beings making a choice between those archaic concepts of good and evil, just like everyone else.
    And, is ACORN a criminal enterprise?

  9. Caleb,
    A little cynical for my evening digestion, but probably an accurate summary of what a hard-working D.A. sees nowadays. But I have absolutely no idea what you mean by “the failure of Christianity,” especially when couple with “vicious and mean” and “hypocritical and self-centered.” Is it sociology you are referring to, or theology? Is it the Church (or churches)? Is it Jesus? What, exactly, has failed? Or is it a slick insider line that doesn’t have to be explained to us on the outside? I am asking a real question here, not being smart-ass at all. In the context you use it, the phrase is completely mystifying.

  10. Maybe the problem is that Nietzsche’s Christianity has succeeded, and in that sense, Christianity has failed.

    Concurrently, the AARP is the devil’s spawn.

  11. After reading and re-reading this piece, a tip-o-the-hat to Brother Caleb. In four or five short paragraphs he’s managed to insult and piss off a very broad swath of the American citizenry! And, how has he accomplished this?
    By telling the truth!
    Now the question is: Do we want to hear the truth?
    And, I’m really looking forward to his answers to John Willson’s queries.

  12. Mr. Willson’s questions are indeed legitimate and deserving of a thoughtful response, which I may get to in a bit.

    As to the cryptic nature of my prose, I aspire to mimic the great Voegelin, about whom Prof. Altizer once remarked to the effect that: “Voegelin is clear and obscure at once, and his clarity is indistinguishable from his obscurity.”

  13. Re: the failure of Christianity

    A few different responses:

    1. Gerontitis is on the right track in his first supposition, and probably hits the mark in his second.

    2. Forgive me the bad manners of quoting myself and linking elsewhere, but it can’t be helped.

    A few bits, provided here for context, and excerpted below.

    http://japery.newpantagruel.com/2005/09/14/among_the_detritus_of_the_storm_calvinism_intelligent_design_and_the_end_of_friendship.php

    http://deregnochristi.org/2007/09/19/does-reformed-christianity-have-a-common-law/

    http://www.newpantagruel.com/issues/2.3/natural_law_the_death_penalty.php?page=all

    http://deregnochristi.org/2007/10/03/re-paganizing-the-church/

    *** FIRST QUOTE ***

    Anglo-catholics like Lewis, Tolkein, Chesterton, Eliot, etc., all understood the Church as a crypt in which the essential and primary blood and soil paganism of Europe was embalmed and allowed to stare up at us out of the waters. Think Tolkien’s ghostly undead kings of the past coming back to help the heroes/true church at its time of need. I don’t know exactly what Tolkien meant by that, but they are a cursed and unfriendly lot. This isn’t really redemption but a lingering paganism that speaks to this not entirely appropriate collaboration and amalgamation between Christianity and paganism in the west, which Protestantism/enlightenment/modernity has tried to efface and now has completely forgotten. This forgetting has caused all kinds of problems which was the most basic point of Tolkein’s books. The foremost problem is that Christianity as a depaganized political religion is Liberalism, radicalized and out of whack with reality in which one must at times do evil and even commit mortal sins for temporal goods that are the charge of those with political power. And then seek absolution in the magical appeasement of the gods. The medieval church allows, or found a way to admit and cope with this. It is a deal with paganism. Take it away and you get a devolution from Protestantism into liberalism. You get the new American personal faith Christianity (evangelicalism) with the magical thinking of overbought homes on ARMS and credit cards and daycare and building democracy in Iraq and all the other delusional magical thinking of late-modernity in the capitalist-state. And you get a whole new class of materialist therapeutic witchdoctors rising up to give the newest incantations: ‘your best life now!’ ‘your purpose driven life!’ or whatever.

    So now we see American Christianity “emerging” more and more into universalism. It is in the water. All roads lead to ruin as Eliot knew. And for those who see this, the desire for “tradition” or whatever you call that which is largely lost and haunting us is a partly sick desire to unearth the dead.

    We are at a dangerous crossroads. Messing with the dead is dangerous stuff. But it must be done. But like Tolkein understood, it can only be done by the “true King,” by the church, and even this is not without debilitating and compromises. This is connected to what I have been arguing about being able, at least occasionally, to admit that the narratives of tradition and church history are to an extent myths that legitimize what I would call the “mojo” … or the magic … the authority of the church. The simple yet profound truth that at the very bottom, we have very little to go on other than “because the church says so.” So this is in part what I mean by repaganizing … that our churchmen need a hint of witchdoctor in them, or if you prefer, a touch of Gandalf or Merlin. They have “powers” as my kids would say. This is completely flattened out in a rationalistic modernizing deracinated disenchanted liberalizing protestant culture. And the inchoate need for magic and appeasement of the gods gets shifted in very unhealthy materialist directions which can be exploited by those who understand the psychology.

    *** SECOND QUOTE ***

    The key point to understand is that Bottum’s argument is not aimed at the death penalty per se, but rather at the very heart of the possibility of imposing natural law in the modern state. When, in the wake of religious wars, old Christendom attempted to do away with political theology altogether by demythologizing history (and the state along with it) and by rationalizing all order as nothing more than a social contract, it made the conscious decision to rely on positive law—law established by man according to procedural rules previously agreed to by social contract—alone. In this context any attempt to impose historic justice can never be more than the exercise of raw power which erodes the procedural foundation of positive law and justice. The exercise of substantive power requires a political theology or myth within which the social experience of power can be placed and understood as an ordering rather than disordering pressure. Absent the myth, all openly acknowledged power must be capable of tracing its genealogy back to the positive contractarian law. If this demythologized state can be said to have any political theology at all, it is that procedure is its God, and state functionaries are its priests. The faithful may present their petitions and grievances only through the functionary by acts of obeisance at the altars and temples of procedure. …

    [But] cosmic justice cannot long be denied in a healthy society. Even after Christ—especially after Christ and his dismantling of the Israelite system of political life under the direct revelation of God—we remain men under nature, and as such owe a debt to nature. Cosmic justice will either be brought in the back door by masterless men who hide what they are doing behind what Eric Voegelin called the “immoral swindle of consent” or they will more honestly bring it in through the front door and theorize on the basis of naked power and particular interests. …

    The chief concern of political theology in the historical form is to differentiate between the idea of mankind under the natural will of God and the idea of a remnant people within mankind living under his special revelation. This concern reaches the height of critical clarification in the Israelite experience which developed the symbols of “exodus” and “exile” to communicate it. With Israel, untangling the thorny problem of both mankind and a remnant within mankind becomes the central problem of order. On the one hand there is mankind ordered under the will and judgment of God and on the other hand there is a chosen remnant ordered under a specific covenantal revelation of God’s presence. In Israel, these areas are clearly distinct and kept so by guarding strictly the boundaries of race, geography, and ritual. In this way the problem of order is simplified. When Israel permits the boundaries to blur, disordering pressures are introduced. This is the situation Christianity and the Church took over from an exhausted Israelite order and radically transformed through the introduction of the symbol of the Incarnation–the immanent presence of God in the world revealed universally.

    The chosen remnant is no longer easily identifiable by blood heritage or geography or even, thanks to St. Paul, by adherence to covenantal forms such as circumcision or dietary laws. Rather the remnant is set apart by the invisible binding of individual hearts to the universal revelation of God in the blood of the new covenant–that is, in Christ. This, as Bottum recognizes, has a demythologizing effect on all pre-Christian political theologies. The problem of order in history can no longer be understood simply as a distinction between mankind under nature and a covenantal remnant, for now the covenant is universal and man must live under both the old law of nature and the new law of the spirit. Put another way, achieving a functional political theology which will successfully clarify the relationship between the church and the world is made exceedingly difficult by the existence of a universal chosen community not contained within any temporal boundaries. This problem of pouring new wine into old wineskins becomes central in teachings of Jesus, Paul, and in the struggles of the early church.

    In practical terms this becomes a problem of the conflict between worldly political powers subservient to the law of nature on the one hand, and the covenant of grace made between God and his universal people through the incarnation on the other. How ought the incarnational revelation of right order under the will of God be brought to bear on the instruments of power and those who wield such instruments? The resolution of this problem is first proposed by St. Augustine and went something like this:

    The City of God, his chosen people (the church), live scattered and intermingled within the City of Man (mankind as a whole). As such, they are exiles in a world which takes on the Hebraic symbol of a new Babylon. It is of vital importance to understand and keep in mind that Babylon is not a symbol of disorder–rather it is the symbol of mankind in the drama of life under the will of God absent the special revelation of the covenant. The City of God shares in and has a special role to fulfill in this drama–it participates in the natural drama of life ordered under the will of God within the City of Man. …

    The City of God must pay its debt to nature, but it tempers its participation with the covenantal experience of knowing that this mixing of the cities will not last forever and that there remains a higher law of the spirit; it places hope for its full historical satisfaction beyond the eschatological horizon. While the covenantal representative can participate with the city of man in the struggle for order under the law of nature, he does so knowing that the process involves him in compromise and disorder when measured against the covenantal revelation of grace in the Incarnation. By necessity, the covenantal representative can pursue cosmic justice under nature’s laws but never without generating the experience of tragedy by which the natural law is leavened with Christian guilt, responsibility, confession, penance, mercy, and the symbolic drama of participation in the sacramental overcoming of evil with good which represents the final reality of that conquest which is yet to come. …

    Yet difficulties persist. Because the City of God is ordered by a revelatory and divine choosing, and is not subject to the law of nature, when it moves into the world of Babylon it is forced to adopt the symbols developed by mankind as it has struggled for order under nature–i.e., natural law. In other words, as the church pays its debt to nature it must do so by adopting symbols (the symbols of cosmic justice, for example) generated by the experience of all of mankind outside the church. This makes it awkward, at the least, for the Christian church to act, as Neuhaus asserts, as the guardian of “the truths of nature and nature’s God.” …

    By recognizing and articulating clearly the source, location, and function of both the natural law and the Christian law, and by understanding them as mixed in an age that was passing away but which contained “loved things held in common,” Augustine made a key breakthrough in the development of political theology which in its fundamental form remains valid today–a penitent, tragic political theology bound to pay an ongoing debt to nature yet cemented by a love that is both universal and particular: it transcends the City of God and orders all mankind; it is also concerned with the things of this world–“the things which are passing away”–and not with the things to come. However, this Augustinian balance has always been precarious. When the tension between the natural law and the Christian law collapses, the result is a disordering pressure either towards a rolling back of the protective shadow of the Christian law and engagement in the world wholly under the stark glare of nature which rewards only power and results in open tribal and political conflict, or towards a Gnostic denial of the reality of the law of nature and ideological attempts to remake the present age into the age to come.

    *** THIRD QUOTE ***

    [Protestant] Christianity never absorbed the English tradition of common law which has always set it somewhat at odds with its own early Anglo culture in that it tends to “constitutionalize” all questions. This tends to erode any possibility of the friendship of the political community as disputes are maximalized and tilted towards war of all against all.

    Here is how all this strikes me, and why I think it is important. With its modern anthropology and weak ecclesiology, Reformed Christianity has tended to divorce the community of men from one another and from God the father, promoting instead an intense focus on individual sin under the judgment of an all-powerful and inscrutable God. The problem, of course, is not a recognition of divine wrath and judgment, or the acknowledgment of individual sin, or that God isn’t inscrutable, but that all those things can become horribly twisted when preached from a standpoint of enlightenment anthropology and ecclesiology.

    Historically, this is how things have played out: Protestantism (and particularly Anglo-Puritanism) bred Deism which bred Atheism and a multitude of ever more marginal reaction and reform movements seeking secure ground in and between the extremes of neo- and paleo-Calvinism, with Evangelicalism arising as a somewhat post-Calvinist solution that sometimes borrows from both ends.

    The paradox of the Reformation was that new instruments of control and communication made unprecedented levels of unity conceivable and possible, thereby rendering the old unified-pluralist order based on common law eradicable and thus unacceptable. That is to say, it could be refused and so it was. The end result was the amplification of old divisions, and not a few new ones, arising out of the quest for unity. Christendom could never be understood as “christian” or “united” in the protestant, legal-textualist sense, and protestant unity devolved to mutual acquiescence in necessarily legal confessions: the advent of the constitutional church; the church as an “idea” rather than a fraternal existence with one another and with God under his will. In the political realm, it was the centuries old Anglo tradition of common law that preserved the English political community from the worst ravages of Europe’s transitioning from loosely feudal configurations to massively centralized and nationalized secular states; this dynamic also created the unique phenomena of the English Reformation and the Anglican Church.

    I am speculating that it was the Anglo/Scot Reformers insistence on the possibility of a real break from Rome (and from Canterbury) without claiming catholicism (that is, they abandoned older conceptions of unity in favor of legal-textualist unity) which resulted by necessity in the abandonment of common law traditions and in a constitutionalized faith. This later played directly into the hands of the burgeoning deism of enlightenment philosophes intent on national identities and secular utopian fantasies, especially the moderate Anglo-American ones who didn’t themselves believe but continued to push protestantism on the masses as a good thing to inculcate the democratic ideals of the new constitutional man, keeping him working hard, and within the confines of the positive law. The result is depleted theology wherein God’s main role is “Guarantor of the Moral Order.” Good for business and good for the State. The legacy of this can be seen all over the place ….

    The end result of an Reformed/Enlightenment account of man, God, and the law, is a declension not just of religious man, from Christianity to various post-Christian deisms, agnosticisms, and atheisms, but also of political man from self-sufficient freeman and bulwark of a convivial order of fraternal interdependence to dependent and servile victim and suckler on the constitutional teat. To be a member of the post-Christian constitutional community is to be saved not by friendship but by election, which quickly becomes entitlement and birth-right. Such a political order must, by necessity, end in the many universalisms of the protestant church, both outright religious universalism and the more restrained universalism of civil religion which stops at national borders.

    *** END SELF QUOTES ***

    3. Now, I could have and perhaps should have just quoted Voegelin, who’s Ecumenic Age is probably the place to begin on this thorny question, and whose work has most influenced my own theories, such as they are:

    *** EV from CW v.12 pg. 294-95 ***

    It is the guilt of Christian thinkers and church leaders of having allowed the dogma to separate in the public consciousness of Western civilization from the experience of “the mystery” on which its truth depends. The dogma develops as a socially and culturally necessary protection of insights experientially gained against false propositions; its development is secondary to the truth of experience. If its truth [pretends] to be autonomous, its validity will come under attack in any situation of social crisis, when alienation becomes a mass phenomenon; the dogma will then be misunderstood as an “opinion” which one can believe or not, and it will be opposed by counter opinions which dogmatize the experience of alienated existence. The development [in the fourteenth century] of a nominalist and fideist conception of Christianity is the cultural disaster, with its origins in the late Middle Ages, that provokes the reaction of alienated existence in the dogmatic form of the ideologies, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The result is the state of deculturation with which we are all too familiar from our daily talks with students who are caught in the intellectual confusion of a debate that proceeds, not by recourse to experience, but by position and counter position of opinion. Once truth has degenerated to the level of true doctrine, the return from orthodoxy to “the mystery” is a process that appears to require as many centuries of effort as have gone into the destruction of intellectual and spiritual culture.”

  14. To clarify on Carols assertion of a couple generations “cut off at the knees”….we should be so lucky because then we would be easier to control. No, it’s much worse than that, its a couple generations cut off at the neck, with the head discarded and the bodies attempting to justify their fruitless existence by making brains a pejorative.

    All of it, urban and rural decay, joblessness, nihilism, predatory behavior…..have been fed by fifty years..if not longer in a campaign denigrating independent thought and action, self-respect, learnedness, reflection and the antiquated pursuit of being one’s brothers keeper. The old Public Education Standard of “Works Well With Others” is only beneficial when the overall paradigm of intelligent work is worth a damn. The Cult of Efficiency has erected a kind of reverse Panglossian Army suffering a Cartesian Jones where we categorize in triplicate an extended program of breezy illiteracy that is vulcanized to gullibility. The gibberish doggerel that has been dished out to the service economy consumer proletariat and its underclassmen has been adopted as a kind of new-age pidgin of built in surrender. This cruise spends its entire itinerary circling the Island of the Sirens. Victimhood is institutionalized and expanding, providing fertile territory for those who know how to work the system. Incarceration is the Booming Business of the Future. Why anyone is surprised by the zero-sum denouement of our ongoing Cartesian Jag is beyond me. It’s not that the technological force of Descarte’s worship of category and dissection is innately bad….it isn’t, much fine and ennobling and beneficial technological advancement was unleashed. There is inarguable logic and benefit to Cartesian Order and clarity but only if this Order and Clarity is checked and balanced by an appreciation of natural systems and mystery. However, machine culture has weakened the will, softened us up for things almost exclusively sybaritic , elevating physical sensation to godhead and removing the checks to ruthless Cartesian efficiency.

    “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”. This supposes the mind was ever in the bargain. We are fast approaching a point of abject befuddlement that will make anarchy actually preferable if only for its efficiency at culling the weak. The irony is that the intellect was venerated originally by a system that has manifested within itself a dark revenge upon things intellectual.

  15. This is, arguably, the finest example of scholarship seen in a very long time not so much on this beloved site but on the entire internet, or anywhere else for that matter.
    And, so in hypostatizing the Christ within the tension EV spelled out between the theologica mystica and theologica dogmatica and the resultant alienation,we are faced with the recovery of a “mystical or experiential” theology known and acknowledged, as EV tells us, as far back as the work of Origen.
    So, how wrong headed is the “dogmatic” consciousness? Does it truly inhibit the indwelling of the Christ in the consciousness of modern man, and must we return to a completely “experiential” relationship with the God of the Universe, through his Son? And, if so, I for one don’t have a problem with that, simply because EV is correct in declaring “…one cannot stress strongly enough the status of a gospel as a symbolism engendered in the metaxy of existence by a disciple’s response to the Son of God.”
    And, EV hits the proverbial nail on the head with:
    “Through God and men as the dramatis personae, it is true, the presence of the drama partakes of both human time and divine timelessness, but tearing the drama of participation asunder into the biography of Jesus in the spatiotemporal world and eternal verities showered from beyond would make nonsense of the existential reality that was EXPERIENCED and symbolized as the drama of the Son of God.”
    Thank you Caleb, for focusing the discussion. The back-to-the-land, or any other more humane/environmental friendly movement is irrelevant in the current condition where we have lost the experiential transcendent reality that must be regained in order to live on this planet as we were intended.
    So that requires the question, how do we recover the knowledge of the Divine Presence in existence which has been derailed by dogma? And, we are truly required to seek God, to love God, to exist as his creation, and in this existence, this metaleptic communion, do we truly actualize being. We cannot be man, until we love God.
    And, so Caleb I see you, joined hip-to-thigh with the Reformation, joining in this exchange of ideas with any number of Catholic scholars
    and what does that portend? Perhaps, we can consult EV one more time:
    “The apparent contradictions dissolve into the use of the same symbols at various levels of comprehension, as well as at the different stages of enactment, until the Christ is revealed, not in a fullness of doctrine, but in the fullness of Passion and resurrection.”
    Of course, we need your overview of the recovery…at your convenience, but elaborate and in some depth!
    Thanks for your ‘comments’ Caleb, I believe you are seeking, questing, and searching for the truth of reality in the manner of a philosopher.

  16. Caleb, Thank you for catching me up on many things I could not have found for myself. I will sift through the Voegelinian background and try to put it in perspective about my questions. It’s a big chunk, and thanks for being serious about it. I don’t think that Gerontitis helps much in his comment about “Nietzsche’s Christianity.”
    And Gerontitis, way above: “I get tired explaining this to white people, from nice white places.” You then follow with sociologese; not quite on-the-mark comparisons with “white” ethnic groups. It amounts to one more attempt to explain away the terrible state of the black underclass. Let me offer an example that is real and relatively close to our times. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a privileged man at every stage of his life. I say that relative to you, to me, to most people of any tribe I have known. He chose to reject Place, Limits, Liberty in favor of a “liberation” that required an antinomian collectivist political theology which accelerated us to the situation that you get tired of explaining to white people. I don’t mean this unkindly, but I think you have “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” all wrong.

  17. Thanks Bob and John. Bob, I will elaborate at some point. But a good starting point is The Chairman’s observation that no one is obligated to participate in the disorders of his age.

  18. EV’s oft stated comment that we have no obligation to be stupid is my all time favorite and one of those aphorisms that keep a perpetual smile on my face.

  19. The Reformed anthem of ‘salvation by faith alone’ helped breed these evils among us. When people are taught that their behavior has no bearing on their salvation, the results will be plain to see.

  20. I commented on this over at Postmodern Conservative, but was curious as to thoughts from here,

    “We have, in so many ways, lost virtue overall in this nation. As Strauss I believe said in Natural Right and History (and I now paraphrase), “a free government presupposes virtue in the people.”

    We have those who “expect” government to solve all of their problems and thus remain mired in perpetual adolesence. We also have those who cavalierly say “stay out of my way” with no conception of the imperative of marrying virtue to freedom in order for freedom to be anything other than a slippery slope to anarchy (and eventually authoritarianism as a response to that anarchy).

    I greatly fear where we are going because I fear that we will not recover the belief in greatness and transcendence that transforms man into something more than a sophisticated animal.

    We must appreciate more than materialism in order to rise above a certain form of raw bestiality. If we do not do this, we will constantly slide towards that bestiality.

    I have argued that we must reembrace, as a society, a belief in God and fight the forces of levelling secularism. If, as a society, we fail to do this, I think there is only one place left to go (and perhaps Stegall referred to this in his comment to his own post at the Front Porch)- Zarathustra’s Cave.”

  21. Dear Friends:
    I kept waiting for someone to reply to Dennis on the Reformed understanding of grace, but finding none, decided to do so myself. The Reformed view of salvation is that redemption is by faith alone, but it is a faith which never stands alone. By that, I (rather Paul the apostle) means that the only basis of salvation is our faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Both Romans 4 and Galatians 3 in the New Testament prove that rather conclusively. But we also recognize that saving faith must have good works to evidence it, so in the words of James of the New Testament, such faith is dead. There is no contradiction between the two New Testament writers at all. One (Paul) proves clearly that Jesus was not lying on the cross of Calvary when he stated that our redemption is accomplished, that it is sufficient for all who believe in Him alone. The other (James) tells us that we must show that faith by our good works for God and others, especially those of the house of faith. Thanks for the opportunity to make this point. David

  22. Mr. Myers: And then there’s the parable of the sheep and the goats, which suggests that the judgment is a judgment of works but is conspicuously silent on the matter of faith. Our loyalties can hardly bear the weight of these mixed signals. May I recommend swimming the Bosporus?

  23. I may be late to this party, but not too late to leave a Bobservation, from an original thinker and author, who also blogitates, at One Cosmos, on “the mystery” using mental gymgnostics, metaphysical comedy and laughty jehovial witticisms.

    From yesterday’s post:

    […] “Traditional metaphysics always makes a distinction between the God-being and the God-beyond-being — between the personal God that can be named and thought about and the Supreme Reality that is beyond name and form. The former is the cataphatic God about whom we may talk, debate and theologize in a somewhat linear way, while the latter is the apophatic God which so utterly transcends our categories that the most we can say about it is what it is not. Various formulations are “fingers pointing at the moon,” and although they are “doorways” into the divine mystery, one should not mistake the finger for the moon. In the end, God cannot be “known,” only undergone.

    Most rank-and-file religious people have never heard of the God-beyond-being and might even be offended by the idea. They have a clear conception of what God is like, and don’t want to be reminded that the real unconditioned God blows away those mental idols like a tornado through a Buddhist sand painting convention… which, by the way, is the whole point of a sand painting.” […]

    Link here to read Bob’s complete post.

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