Saturday, November 17, 2012

Liberalism: "Satanic Rebellion Against God?" (The Thinking Housewife)

The Amish
Biblical "Literalists."
Absolute pacifists.

What if they're right?

Dear Fred,

Thanks for forwarding "The Thinking Housewife's" link to Bonald.

I have inserted my comments in his text below.

In passing, I will mention that Bonald's interpretation of events sub specie aeternitatis has value but tends to reject The Incarnation by retreating to the un-manifest "Word."

As children of God, blessed by the bounties of Earth, our work is to further the Incarnation in this world, that beloved "place" where God sent His child.

Who would flee what God so loved?

Chesterton nailed it: "The work of heaven alone is material; the making of a material world. The work of hell is entirely spiritual."

Pax tecum


What consolation? An inner dialogue

November 4, 2012 by bonald

This is really it.  We’ve lost, and the Left has won.  My grandchildren will be brought up to despise everything I venerate.  All trace of the sacred will be lost. (Alan: Bonald assumes that "the sacred" manifests "only" by imposition-of-tradition and sees "no" role for ongoing revelation. Nor does he believe that reverence, wonder and awe are rooted in The Ground of Being with corresponding resonance in the human heart. Whether Tertullian realized the full importance of his inspiration, it rings true that anima naturaliter christianaThe conservative urge to impose traditional control belies an essential faithlessness, a radical inability to see - or even look in the direction of - The Living God. "Destructuring" always precedes "restructuring" and, by nature, looks very much like destruction. Despite the devotion and widespread evangelization of The Early Church, Chesterton saw 700 years of Dark Age as a necessary "cleansing of the palate." I do not know if humankind will reprise such profound soul-searching, but without it, the Middle Ages and Renaissance would not have happened. Consistent with conservative "literalism," paradox and irony are not at Bonald's disposal.)
Don’t you think you’re being a bit premature?
What about differential fertility?  ”The future goes to those who show up for it” and all that.
They control the schools, the media, and the culture.  It doesn’t matter how many children we have, because they’ll just take them from us.  That’s the worst part–our own children turned against us(Alan: The religious right impresses me as essentially faithless, and not only faithless, but desperate. Having substituted belief in The Living God with doctrinal and dogmatic simulacra, they "puff" themselves  into pious semblance of belief by fiery insistence on their own rightness. As I see it, they are not "preaching to the choir" - as it appears - but trying to convert themselves.)
What about the Muslims?  I’m sure they won’t give up without a fight.
I’m sure they will.  They’re already reliable communist voters throughout Europe and Obama supporters here. (Alan: "Already reliable communist voters throughout Europe." Let us remember that communism and atheism are insolubly wed and that Muslims embody the most single-minded Faith-in-God of any people on Earth. Until "born again Bush" waged Whimsy War on Iraq -- a war which, ironically, Iran won! -- American Muslims always voted Republican, and by decisive measures. Indeed, if only 60% of Floridian Muslims had voted for Bush in 2000, instead of the 70% who did, Al Gore would have won the presidency without dispute.
That’s just because the Left offers them the most goodies.
Exactly.  They could stand up to atheism or they could pursue their material self-interest and indulge their urge to stick it to the white man.  That will always be the choice, and the Left will lead them by it to destruction. (Alan: "Their urge to stick it to the white man..." At the bottom of this allegation lurks paranoia like a Moray eel in a coral crevice. For Christ's sake! Leaders of Christendom have crusaded against Islam for a millennium -- right through Dubyah's Whimsy War and now droning into Pakistan -- most often waging these wars with the bizarre justification that God's designated "smiters" were "recovering the Holy Land." Is there not, at least, an argument that "whites" have an irrepressible urge to "stick it" to the brown/black man? For those with eyes to see, Christian fundamentalists and Islamic jihadists are mirror images of each other - textbook exemplifications of "mutual projection.")
Still, you can’t extrapolate from current trends.  Something might happen that would cause humanity to change course.
It hasn’t changed course in the two and a half centuries since liberalism appeared.  There are good reasons to think it can’t.
But what about Leftism itself?  Many conservatives, even among our friends here, think Leftism is inherently unstable.  In that case, it must eventually give way to something else.
It’s all wishful thinking.  Leftism is the most solid and stable social force that’s ever existed.  Prosperity enhances it.  Hardship enhances it.  Upper class snobbery and lower class resentment both feed it.  It succeeds deftly in making powerful groups–government bureaucracies, client minorities, etc–dependent upon it.  All the most energetic and intelligent sectors of society are committed to it.  It is almost infallibly successful in passing itself off from generation to generation.  Economic, demographic, and ecological disasters may come, and Leftism may even be their cause, but it doesn’t matter, because Leftism is optimally situated to profit from them. (Alan: "All the more energetic and intelligent sectors of society are committed to it." Does Bonald mean what he seems to say? That conservatism is based on lassitude and stupidity? These hypotheses "sound" right, certainly insofar as American conservatism is informed by Bible Belt idiocy. Consider Republican hero, Ted Nugent. Do Christian conservatives apply any litmuses to their bed partners? "Heavens no! Goody two shoes would never sleep around!" Revealingly, their non-Christian champion, Mitt Romney, proved that any debased alliance is acceptable, including the abjectly meretricious.
All right, suppose–for the sake of argument–that all this is true.  Why does it bother you so much?
Why?  Because my enemies own the future! (Alan: American conservatives are thoroughly invested in The Past. Given their lack of interest in The Future, why wouldn't liberals occupy a forward-looking niche? Does Bonald think conservatives have a right, perhaps an obligation, to be stupid? That they are "entitled" to prevail without even contesting The Ground? Again, I recommend George McGovern's essay, "The Case for Liberalism: A Defense of the Future Against the Past" Notice that McGovern describes Past and Future with unabashed candor. Clearly, The Left intended to "colonize the future." Conservatives were neither hoodwinked nor blindsided. Is it possible The Right is so addled as to deliberately ignore the self-evident?
And you, being a conservative, own the past.  Doesn’t that make you even?
The past doesn’t exist.  It’s gone.
It exists as much as the future.  In fact, I would say that owning the past is better, because knowledge of it, and thus “ownership”, is a surer thing. (Alan: Conservatism's quest for "Principled Certainty" induces devotees to abandon the highly-contingent work of a better Future, seduces them to shun the fullness of mucky Incarnation, motivating them to flee back to The Word with its uterine promise of safety, simplicity, purity and untroubled irresponsibility. Either God - or "The Invisible Hand" - will "take out the garbage." There is no need to trouble themselves.) I suppose one might say that really neither past nor future exist at all, except as remembered or anticipated by the present, but that view has some troubles.  It would imply a preferred reference frame, and the laws of physics as we know them show no evidence for such a thing.  Plus, there would be no way to make sense of God’s eternity.  Worst of all, it would mean that that statements about the past can’t really be true or false (except as statements about what is remembered), because there is no existing past to make them true or false.  Then crimes forgotten by everyone really never happened, which is immoral as well as absurd to imagine.  Let us say, therefore, that both the past and the future exist, but, like distant points in space, they are simply not present to us.  Let us say, as our Faith and reason require us to, that eternity also exists, as the mode of being (or even–to stretch it a bit–the perspective) in which all times are simultaneously present.  Don’t you see how progressive you’re being, thinking that the future is automatically some sort of preferred time, a time that’s somehow more important than any other time? (Alan: Religious conservatives assume that judgment is primary. In my view, we are all appalling sinners who had best pray for The Court's Mercy. Absent mercy, every one of us is queued for a rocky ride - whether in "the after-life" or as we review what we have done from the vantage of our death bed. Is it not plausible - even probable - that God, in "His" inscrutability, and prompted by His "love for the world," is at least as merciful as "He" is judgmental? Or, as often happens in human courts, is mercy not likely to follow judgment? Perhaps by suspending judgement? Or even by being indulgent - clemency or a commuted sentence?  Would mercy not, at minimum, put an end to "failed experiments" by ushering them out of existence rather than torment them, forever, in an Unquenchable Lake of FireWhat adamantine hardness instills the unshakable belief that Judgment is primary?  Unalterable. Final. Eternally punishing. Such judgment is not human but lithic - something inorganic, something inhuman. Not the image in which we are made. As a rule, rigidity infects absolutists, spellbound by the Thunder Sky God who rules large swathes of the Old Testament. Afraid to anger this tyrant, "the fearful" fall prey to a frame-of-mind we might call "Latter Day Stockholm Syndrome." To break this "enchantment," it is helpful to recall that "Thunder Sky God" ordained --- not merely the "moral option" but the moral obligation --- that "rebellious children" be stoned to death by the collective effort of every male in the community. 

In essence, the God of Israel commanded the slaughter of children for the crime of... being children. Islam never conceived a moral mandate as barbaric as killing one's own kids, and not compassionately "as one might put down a rabid dog" but killing them in concert for the trivial "offense" of "passing through adolescence." Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is not now, nor ever was, "the word of God."   If my view is wrong, I hope to be set straight. Absent correction, I hope "the spellbound" will ask why "this" God is worshiped uncritically. Lamentably, "fundamentalists" proclaim a great deal of nonsense, not because The Living God requires "defense," but because they must defend their own "card houses." Replace self-certain self-righteousness with real faith - shadowed by doubt - and it no longer matters if one's house of card collapses.
"Psst, Abraham. Yaweh here. Prove that you love me. Slit your son's throat."

Get parents to kill their kids "for God sake's" and you can get them to do anything.

One year after Easter mass, my mother -- an extremely devout Catholic -- 
said, "I don't believe God would ask Abraham to kill his son."

Go Mom!

Time For Catholicism To Shelve All Traditions And Text That Represent God As A Terrorist
You are confusing very different things.  At death, God does not judge a man’s life as a whole; He judges the current state of that man’s soul.  You must remember that the unity of meaning imposed in a drama is a peculiarity of that art form.  In a well-structured tragedy, all elements of the plot are locked together and produce a sense of necessity.  It is this overall dramatic logic that determines the end, both how the plot resolves itself and what that resolution means, not vice versa.  A man’s real life, however, is full of “subplots” whose meanings don’t have to match each other or some overall narrative arc.  Let us take the case of the man who lives a good life until the end, when he turns away from God.  Is it true that his earlier good deeds are stripped of their meaning and value?  
Certainly they lose all the value they would have had for him.  (Alan: Such presumption borders self-apotheosis: "Move over God, I believe you're sitting in my chair." These pretenders to the Throne of Omniscience leave nothing to the Magnum Mysterium. Ironically, Christianity is a "mystery religion." But modern Christians have grown obsessed with "infallible knowledge" and so belittle God by shrinking "Him" to their own petty measure.) He might as well have spent his life drinking and fornicating, for all the difference it ended up making to his salvation.
Becky Fischer, Jesus Camp
True, but is that the only measure?  Does “good” always have to mean “good for…”?  Can we not also say of an act of charity or courage that it is good that it happened–not good for anyone or anything necessarily, but good in itself?  Such acts, I would say, have their own value and beauty.  Even when all their effects are wiped out and they are totally forgotten, it will always be good that they happened.
Let me propose a thought experiment.  Suppose in one hundred years, Leftism has completely won.  It is so successful in getting people to join its rebellion against God that every human being alive is born reprobate. (Alan: "Leftism's rebellion against God?" Look. Human existence plays out in fields of polarity.  The belief that "Right" can exist without "Left" results in the absurd supposition that a bird can fly with one wing. On the other hand, the religious right's presumption that they are not in rebellion -- despite their uncompromising quest for impossible monopolarity -- suggests spiritual blindness, not salvific fidelity to "The Mind of Christ.") Then some natural catastrophe strikes and the human race is obliterated.  Then the Left’s “ownership of the future” would consist in ownership of one century.  Would you really be so jealous of that?
No, but the fact that humanity has not yet suffered such an extinction event shows that the chance of one happening on any particular century is pretty small.  It is likely that humanity has much more time than that left.
Yes, but the point is that that time is finite.  Every man’s life ends in the grave, and species are no different.  Setting aside Christ’s physical return to Earth–which would end any anti-religious victory pretty decisively–humanity must eventually go extinct, even if it takes millions or billions of years.  Eventually, the last sentient being will die, and time and erosion will erase even the physical traces of the dead civilization.  It will be as if humanity, and all its loves and aspirations, had never existed.  So don’t talk to me about “ownership of the future”.  Move the flag far enough forward on a timeline, and no one can claim it except inanimate matter.  Save your jealousy for the dark energy–if it exists–and allow some compassion for the Leftists, who–regardless of who wins this war–are just as mortal as you.
Is all this talk about the extinction of humanity really supposed to cheer me up?
Well, we don’t deal in cheap consolation here.  You are right to be discomforted by transience, by the things you value in this world passing away, but you haven’t thought it through all the way.  You’re still looking for redemption in time, a special magical time you call “the future”, but what you should be realizing from all of this is that you’ll never find it there.  You must look to eternity.  From the perspective of eternity, virtue and good deeds are never futile.  From the perspective outside of time, outside of anyone’s interest, it is good that they have happened.  Sacrifices made even in this doomed war against Leftism, provided they spring from true charity, have an eternal value.
All right, I suppose the issue of who gets the last batch of souls isn’t really the most important thing.  But there is another cause for despair, namely that the Enemy gets many more of them.  Suppose–as is quite likely–that humanity continues on for millennia, so that the total number brought up to join in the Left’s Satanic rebellion ends up numbering in the hundreds of billions.  Surely this is a catastrophe even from the perspective of eternity. (Alan: Crass quantification -- coupled with the Manichaean presumption that Satan "quite likely" ends up with "hundreds of billions" of souls -- reveals a mindset of self-terrorization, determined to scare itself with the psyche's own shadow. Yes, the shadow exists... and, along with it, moral ambiguity. Courage, when finally embraced, is the ability to live with ambiguity, not deny it. To believe God's Will can be known precisely is hubris-on-parade, flag-wrapped arrogance, the reduction of both The Word and The Word Incarnate to the heresy of Christian Nationalism -- in sum, the utilitarian corruption of religion to make barbarism seem sacred. A few years ago, 89 year old Air Force general friend, A. C. confided: "It seems we haven't fought a good war since World War II." Yet every right-wing Christian beats the drum for any Goddamn war conjured by "the authorities." Currently, this reflexive commitment is climaxing in Palestine and Iran. Kneejerk belligerence (prompted by the blinding self-certainty of American Exceptionalism), does not bode well for "personal salvation." "On that day many will call out to me: Lord did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, perform many miracles in your name?

"One of the most disturbing facts that came out in the [Adolf] Eichmann trial was that a psychiatrist examined him and pronounced him perfectly sane. I do not doubt it at all, and that is precisely why I find it disturbing. . .  The sanity of Eichmann is disturbing. We equate sanity with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with prudence, with the capacity to love and understand other people. We rely on the sane people of the world to preserve it from barbarism, madness, destruction. And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are the most dangerous. It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missiles and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared. What makes us so sure, after all, that the danger comes from a psychotic getting into a position to fire the first shot in a nuclear war? Psychotics will be suspect. The sane ones will keep them far from the button. No one suspects the sane, and the sane ones will have perfectly good reasons, logical, well-adjusted reasons, for firing the shot. They will be obeying sane orders that have come sanely down the chain of command. And because of their sanity they will have no qualms at all. When the missiles take off, then, it will be no mistake." 
"A Devout Meditation in Memory of Adolf Eichmann" in Raids on the Unspeakable." Thomas Merton  
Have you ever wondered why the Fathers of the Church didn’t despair?  After all, most of them believed that the total number of souls saved is a very small fraction of the total.  They thought this even about the last age of men, after the Incarnation when the Church was visible and the ordinary means of grace readily available.  How much more perilous they imagined it to have been before Christ, when the world (outside of Israel) was steeped in pagan darkness. (Alan: Sound arguments can be made that Aquinas was more encouraged by the "light" he found in "pagan darkness" than the darkness "inside ancient Israel." It is cautionary to recall that the Jewish prophets always faulted their fellows, excoriating them as infidels. Yeshua's own prophecies found fulminating fault with his philosophical fellows, the Pharisees - alive and well in every generation.) Like you, they thought that most of the generations of men will end up having passed without benefit of the gospel.  It’s just that they thought that most of the generations of mankind were in the past before the Incarnation, while you think that most generations are in the future after the Church Militant is destroyed.  From the perspective outside time, there’s not much difference, and yet they never saw this as a reason for discouragement. (Alan: I wonder what Christ would have thought of "The Church Militant." "Put up your sword Peter." Yes, put up your sword. The Amish "get it." And notably, the Amish are a strong and growing Christian sect, prospering in their blessed pacifism, impervious to the political calamity Bonald bemoans. In the Amish we witness an entire society of "biblical literalists" -- heirs to a centuries' old conservative tradition -- but also resolute believers that the Bible enjoins Absolute Pacifism. What if the Amish are right? Or, more likely, what if religious diversity is ordained by God "Himself" and The Cardinal Sin is any sectarian expectation that "true" believers -- and only "true" believers -- embody God's will? I have good friends belonging to a literalist Christian sect that sees no impediment to abortion because the Bible offers no guidance on the topic. If the Gospels are a repository of eternal Wisdom, is it not surpassingly strange that the most burning issues on the conservative Christian agenda -- homosexuality and abortion -- are not even mentioned in The Gospels? Not one word. The cognitive dissonance arising from this "pass over" is noisier than Krakatoa.)

Shouldn’t they have?  If they were right, and Christ had really been born a mere generation or so before the end of the world, wouldn’t it have meant that He was born too late because only a small number of the totality of mankind were left for Him to help? (Alan: Lapsed Catholic friend Paul has long held that Christianity relies ton pretzel logic to impose "coherence" on "The Official Story."  Consider where pretzel logic leads Bonald: "If they were right, and Christ had really been born a mere generation or so before the end of the world, wouldn’t it have meant that He was born too late because only a small number of the totality of mankind were left for Him to help?" Is this theology? Or contortionsim?)
You must remember that, from the perspective of eternity, human civilization and even the mass of humanity are very small things, a tiny corner in the mansion of being.  The vast–indeed infinite–expanse of being is God Himself.  You imagine that if humanity rejects God, He will be like a pathetic deposed dictator shut out from the big vibrant world that will carry on its business as well without Him.  Foolish man!  It is humanity that is exiling itself from the source and plenitude of Being.  If everything outside of God should join Satan in rebellion and hellfire and be utterly degraded, God would still outweigh everything else, and existence would still be good overall.  If every human being but Christ Himself should reject grace and be damned, humanity itself would still be saved because Christ Himself outweighs all the rest of us.  As the New Adam, He contains all of humanity, and his obedience would be the definitive response of Man to God, even if Christ were the only one to make it.  But in fact, we have reason to think that there have been many saints, and each of these saints has a supernaturally good will, so that each of them would trump the mass of humanity, who have only naturally bad wills.
You are right.  From the perspective of eternity, I should say that God will always be there in His Heaven, and that’s the main thing.  But I have a hard time keeping this perspective.
That’s mostly because you don’t try.  You pray far too infrequently; you have allowed your spiritual life to atrophy.  When you spend all your time thinking in time rather than eternity, it’s no wonder that the former comes to seem more real to you.  In fact, I would say that you should be very grateful to be living in such wicked times.
Yes.  The manifest transience of this world is a blessing; if the world weren’t falling apart, few men would ever think to look beyond it.  If you could find anything but God in which to take comfort, you would never come to Him.  Faith does not come naturally to a man like you.  You would much rather put your trust in demographics or plausibility structures or other things that seem to you more solid.  God put you in this time for a reason, because this time–degraded though it is–is the time that gives you personally the greatest opportunity for holiness.  You asked what your consolation should be, and the answer is that it must be God and nothing else.  All other supports are falling away.  You must cling to Him. 

Alan: Although "clinging to Him" has a certain propriety, it is urgent that we see God - as Mother Teresa did - primarily in the manifest "face" of the poor. It is the alleviation of suffering through service, communion and material aid -- both publicly and privately endowed -- that commingles us with the least of our brethren, that embeds us in The Incarnation, that makes us vital members of The Mystical Body.

"The Left" measures success by how many people it helps. 

"The Right" measures success by how many people it doesn't have to help. 

Yet "the poor are always with us." 

John Kenneth Galbraith observed that "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." 

Absent our personal rootedness in the fellowship of The Indivisible Human Family -- particularly our fellowship with those who are oppressed by "The Moneyed Mighty" -- any abstract determination to "cling to Him" turns its back on "the world God so loved that he sent his son into it." 

I have yet to meet a Christian who was not unsettled by Chesterton's illuminating view of heaven, earth and hell: "The work of heaven alone is material; the making of a material world. The work of hell is entirely spiritual." Chesterton unsettles us because, in truth, we should be unsettled.

There is not an American "exceptionalist" who takes-to-heart the Italian proverb: "A full belly does not believe in hunger." 

To paraphrase Bill Clinton: "It's the materiality, stupid!" - not the illusion of discarnate spirituality. 

But what does Clinton know? 

Slick Willy's black soul "is on the high road to Hell" - a prospect that inspires giddiness in America's pseudo-Christians as they look down from "the parapets of Heaven" to rejoice in the torment of The Damned. 

I have no truck with such nonsense. 

I think no Christian should... if a healthy soul is held in esteem. 

The Mercy Sisters who taught me from kindergarten through 8th Grade were crystal clear: "Catholics need not believe that a single soul is damned to Hell, not even the soul of Adolf Hitler. We hope for the salvation of all." 


It comes down to mercy. 

And the surest way to free oneself from the rigid presumptions that inspire Bonald to make unmerciful calculations about hundreds of billions of lost souls -- and the correspondingly minute cadre of saints -- is to realize that the full range of Christian belief is "all over the map" and that the chances of any one Sect "getting it just right" are vanishingly remote. (Indeed, the chances of any one sect not getting something grievously wrong is vanishingly remote.)

To summarize this "line of reasoning," consider Amish pacifism. 

If these Anabaptists are right - and cheer-leading any war is an abomination in the sight of God - perhaps it is time to set aside our obsession with the "convenient judgment of others" in order to proceed with actual works of mercy, works that Paul Ryan's atheist guru would spit upon... indeed would defecate upon.  (Re-read Galbraith. Re-read the Italian view of a full belly.)

Learn more about Romney-Ryan's "Godly values" at "Mormonism, Christianity and Ayn Rand" -

Christian conservatives feel good about themselves only when they "feel" "certain" of their own salvation, an obsession that strikes me as essentially selfish, an obsession that would be better shed to make way for living the Incarnation through service to the poor. 

But no.

Like "kicking the dog" to vent splenetic ill will, the easiest way to feel righteous about one's self (which is to say the easiest way to feel "self-righteous") is to see others as "damned." 

This judgmentalness --- writ large across The Bible Belt --- is a recipe for intolerance, bigotry and hate.

The core justification is this... 

Since God does not tolerate "the damned," what can be more righteous than a person's alignment with God's judgmentalism and subsequent "service" as His "smiting hand?" 

And so belligerence -- and its subset, capital punishment -- become "virtues."

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." Blaise Pascal (Pascal was a notably devout Christian.

Dedicated epistemophobes, conservative Christians ignore the people they bed with.

Although dead these 44 years, Thomas Merton probes the "Godly values" of contemporary conservatives and concludes that "the best, imposed as the norm, becomes evil."


"The Best" --- not just the good... or the mediocre... or the morally compromised --- but "The Best"... becomes evil.

There is not a Bible Belt Christian (nor Catholic affiliate) who will entertain the prospect of "the best becoming evil" even though proof is "right before their noses" - looking back at them in the mirror. (That said, I trust God's mercy has them all "covered." Nor do I deny the evident evil in myself.)

But the larger issues "in play" are biblical "literalism" and the use of inflexible, dogmatic orthodoxy to damn people to Hell.

What is biblical "literalism" - this unorthodox late-comer to the world stage?

By definition, "literalism" is functionally impossible since Yahweh's "self-definition" -- "I am who am" -- is a resounding reference to Being itself.

Subsequently, when words are used to translate the "Ground of Being" into something other than "The Living God," then "The-Reality-that-IS-prior-to-words" acquires a linguistic veil, becomes derivative. 

No longer is God what God IS, but becomes God as we think "He" is.

At best, words summarize, condense, provide guidance through simplification.

They also make Reality -- The Ground of Being -- into something smaller than it IS. 

This reduction -- this literal belittlement -- can be of tremendous use. 

But make no mistake. 

Even the original Greek texts of the New Testament were, to some extent, distorting translations of the underlying Reality.

The whole sequence of translation -- first from Yeshua's native Aramaic into Greek, then to The Vulgate, then to other languages -- insured that even more "got lost in translation." 

Once human beings believe that "the derivative" is "primary," they depart from Chesterton's definition of religion as "putting first things first."

Thus convinced that "the derivative" is "primary," they defend the derivative as if their lives depended on it... which, in a sense, they do... but primarily the lives they "imagine," not the lives that would be realized by the immediacy of revelation. 

In the end, "the letter of the law" -- at least in the sense that "literalism" depends on aggregates of "letters" and not on the unadulterated "am-ness" of The Living God -- tethers the spirit. 

Again, I emphasize that scripture study, accompanied by deep contextualization, can be very fruitful. 

But scripture is always shadowed by the diabolically subtle temptation of bibliolatry so that over-dependence on scripture prompts many Christians to believe they must have Absolute Definition of Truth or they are "lost." 

As reality plays out however, it is this insistence on absolute definition which itself conduces to bewildering "lostness."

Rather than spend time-and-energy on the self-serving distinctions between "the saved" and "the damned," the following gospel passage strike me as fundamentally redemptive. 

"You will know them by their love for one another." 

In other words, "the proof is in the pudding," not in the recipe (as important as the recipe may be).

And so, Yeshua states flatly that the incarnation of love is the surest sign of salvation without making any "sectarian" reference concerning "which" dogmatists pre-qualify. 

All that matters is a person's Love for "the other."

God is love and love is non-sectarian. 

Love exists within church and without church.

Although Luke 9: 49-50 directly contradicts Matthew 12:30, it is a revealing passage: "John, answering, said: Master, we saw a certain man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said to him: Forbid him not; for he that is not against you, is for you."

Not only does Yeshua dismiss sectarian litmus, he establishes a bar that does not require any sectarian belief at all: "He that is not against you, is for you."

I have no doubt that Yeshua is merged with Love (and Love is merged with Yeshua) so that anyone who Loves -- be s/he Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, animist, atheist -- is "in Christ" even if they've never heard the name and whether or not they subscribe to the written testaments; indeed whether or not they express a verbal formula declaring their acceptance of "Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior." 

We are also blessed with the story of 
The Good Samaritan wherein the punctilious priest bypasses the battered man thus letting his self-referential dogma obstruct the reality of Love. The Samaritan, on the other hand -- despised throughout Jewry for lacking doctrinal purity and liturgical propriety; indeed considered an inheritor of blasphemous abomination -- has moral stature that towers over "the priest" and, by extension, over other fixated defenders of wordy orthodoxy.

I am not sure I agree with the following quotation, but whenever I contemplate the devastation wrought by bibliolatry - particularly in The Bible Belt - I always recall the view of Benedictine abbot Dom Aelred Graham who called the bible "the most over-rated book in the world."

The Thinking Housewife (who originally linked to Bonald's essay) will not post my annotated version of "What Consolation?' even though it makes good sense and describes a workable method whereby "the biblically shackled" can break their bonds. 

Like other blinkered Christians, Ms. Wood cannot bring herself to value deeply-contextualized Truth over "settled values" preserved by disproportionately partisan adherence to The Past

By refusing to employ honorable epistemology, conservative Christians have become Christianity's worst enemy, undermining and marginalizing the credibility of God-Love while each overvalues his or her particular brand of "faith alone."

Tragically, conservative Christians are not content insisting they - and they alone - are "the only people who are saved." 

They further force the issue by bolstering their putative superiority by "fingering" the damned. 

"The Thinking Housewife," Laura Wood, whose beautiful mind is riven by a fault line to make San Andreas look like a crack in the sidewalk, is sufficiently convinced of her omniscience and unimpeachable righteousness to casually categorize Barack Obama as "anti-Christian." (... by my lights, code for 
The Anti-Christ.)

In the very act of attempting to dignify her own unimpeachability, 
The Thinking Housewife impeaches herself.

Who knows? 

In the eyes of God, maybe Barack HUSSEIN Obama is anti-Christian. 

I doubt it.

What I do not doubt is Merton's observation:
"Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can."  

If "passing judgment" persuaded "sinners" to embrace 
metanoia, there might be some utility in the practice.

But, over time, it has become an open secret -- even among Christian conservatives -- that human beings hate to be judged and as soon as they detect the supercilious stare of "the self-righteous," they become more entrenched in their ways. 

Judgmentalness warms no heart; changes no mind. 

In my experience, judgmentalness is the most certain way that "the righteous" damage the souls of others. 

Ironically, it is the chief way they damage their own as well.

Matthew 7

1 Judge not, that you may not be judged,
For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye?
Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye?
Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote from thy brother's eye...
20 Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.
21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?
23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

There will be those who are certain -- and not only certain, but 
absolutely, unshakably certain -- that they have prophesied in His name, cast out devils in His name and done many miracles in His name. But when they call out to Him, he will not recognize them.

No doubt He's referring to Satanic liberals...

The profoundest truths are paradoxical. 

"The terrible thing about our time is precisely the ease with which theories can be put into practice.  The more perfect, the more idealistic the theories, the more dreadful is their realization.  We are at last beginning to rediscover what perhaps men knew better in very ancient times, in primitive times before utopias were thought of: that liberty is bound up with imperfection, and that limitations, imperfections, errors are not only unavoidable but also salutary. The best is not the ideal.  Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.”  
"Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander,” by Thomas Merton


I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. "Well, there's so much to live for!" "Like what?" "Well... are you religious?" He said yes. I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?" "Christian." "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant ? "Protestant." "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" "Baptist" "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" "Baptist Church of God!" "Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off. 
 Emo Phillips


I recommend Bill McKibbens' "The Christian Paradox: How A Faithful Nation Gets Jesus Wrong" - 

"Pacem in Terris and World Government": (Pacem in Terris is an excellent guide to what we humans would wisely do if we intended to feed the entire Human Family rather than slacking off once the bellies of "the self-satisfied" are filled.)
On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 11:25 PM, Fred Owens <> wrote:

This dialog takes it to another level  -- judging the election in light of the eternal  -- the link is from the Thinking Housewife

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