Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Mezze


Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in parts of the Middle East, the Balkans, Greece, and North Africa.

Call it the realm of the former Ottoman Empire.  I have been chewing on a few topics for several days.  Each of these could, perhaps, be turned into a complete meal but I am not in a position to devote the proper attention to each.  So, for now, I will just serve each as a small dish.  It is also equally likely, as is usually the case, that the mezze platter will be sufficient for the entire meal.

Diversity is Our Strength

If there is an overriding theme to the societal disaster that defines the current times, it is this slogan.  More specifically, it is the context in which this slogan is used.  Certainly, diversity can be a strength if ends are held in common; certainly, diversity is a strength if the rules of the game (the means) are respected. 

Can you imagine any social institution being successful if the individuals who make up such an entity are working toward different ends?  We see this in the least effective such entities; in the successful ones, we see that all individuals are working toward a similar end, purpose, objective.

Can you imagine any social institution being successful if the individuals who make up such an entity are all playing by different rules?  Each one defining how his role is governed, independent of the governance of the entity as a whole?

Further, the ends and means are completely interrelated: It isn’t that the ends justify the means; it is that the ends define the means.  Within such a framework, diversity is a strength: diverse skills, temperaments, capabilities, ideas – all moving toward a common end, all playing within a common framework of means.

Diversity is not a strength when the subject population does not hold to common ends and does not agree to play by common rules (the means).  In such a case, diversity is hell.  If the diversity of hell is where you look for your strength, feel free to welcome diversity as it is celebrated by the broader culture.

Everything is a Lie

Everything.  Out of the mouths of politicians, news reporters, journalists, thought leaders in sports and entertainment.  Well, not everything.  On the rare occasion we hear some truth from any of these, they are shut down and ostracized. 

Everything we are taught about history is a lie.  Not a little lie, like George-Washington-cut-down-the-cherry-tree lie; big lies – lies that have resulted in the deaths of millions and the cost of trillions.  The dead can be considered the trophies in the game rooms of the liars and the sacrifices of a worshipful population; the cost is going into the pockets of the same liars.   Whenever someone sticks his head up and says “wait, that isn’t true,” he is labeled a conspiracy theorist – before being shut down and ostracized.

Do you want to succeed by the standards of this world?  Be a champion of the biggest lie.  Do you want to survive?  Don’t openly challenge any of the lies. 

Do you want to do righteous work?  Speak truthfully.

The Meaning Crisis

To really feel the joy in life
You must suffer through the pain

-          Illumination Theory, Dream Theater

This idea of a meaning crisis has gained increased popular traction recently.  What is the meaning crisis?  A very complicated question.  It is easier to describe it by what is lacking in Western society than what it actually is, I suppose.  On one level, it can be captured by noting the superficiality of the material life – a life consumed with getting more stuff.  There is no depth in this life, no relationships, no connections of value, no reason to cherish the joy in life – because “more stuff” doesn’t bring joy to life.

But as I think about it, at its most fundamental level, it strikes me that the things that give life meaning are those things for which one is willing to die or kill.  Of course, what one is willing to die or kill for matters – a lot. 

Jeff Deist raised just such points (and quite a backlash) when he spoke at Mises University two years ago:

In closing, I’ll mention an email exchange I had recently with the blogger Bionic Mosquito. If you’re not reading Bionic Mosquito, you should be!

Well, yeah.  That’s true.  But you are already here…so….

I asked him the same hypothetical question I have for you: what would you fight for? The answer to this question tells us a lot about what libertarians ought to care about.

By this I mean what would you physically fight for, where doing so could mean serious injury or death. Or arrest and imprisonment, or the loss of your home, your money, and your possessions.

His answer? 

In other words, blood and soil and God and nation still matter to people. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance.

What in the West is worth fighting for?  Who in the West is willing to do the fighting? 

They shoot without shame
In the name of a piece of dirt
For a change of accent
Or the colour of your shirt

-          Territories, Rush

There are some answers.  There are those in the West willing to go overseas and kill people who have never been a danger to anyone in the West; there are those in the West who are willing to kill others because they wear the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood.

Beyond these?  Virtually nothing (other than family for some of us).  And given that these are the two best examples I can think of, it suggests something about the cultural degradation of the West.  Western society is willing to kill and die for evil purposes.

And this is, for the moment, the best description I can give of why there is a meaning crisis.  Well, this and having “diversity is our strength” shoved down our throats.  Oh, and knowing that everything told to us is a lie.

The Mess of Romans 13

Other than the end times interpretation by followers of the Scofield Bible, there is probably no misinterpretation of the Bible that has caused more harm than the “obey-the-government-at-all-times” interpretation of Romans 13 (and these two are certainly quite related today).  I have offered that Gerard Casey has provided one of the many good evaluations of this fallacy.

Just reading and listening to the Gospels, in how many cases is it offered that the governmental authorities were defied?  Not deified as in the standard interpretation of Romans 13; defied!  Jesus would not have survived his first years had this not been the case.

I know, I am the one pushing Christianity as the necessary foundation for liberty.  But organized Christianity – almost whatever the denomination – is so compromised morally and doctrinally.  I take comfort that this situation has been seen many times before and has been overcome.

It will be overcome again.  What would you expect, given He who is in charge?

Overturning Culture

I can’t remember which one of you wrote it and I cannot find it now, but we had an exchange on Jesus overturning culture some weeks ago.  I keep writing about the value of common culture, not overthrowing the culture but allowing it to evolve naturally.  The example was given by one of you of Jesus: He sure overthrew a lot of culture!

This has been on my mind since then.  When I consider the cases where Jesus overthrew the existing culture – usually to be found in passages where He is dealing with the Pharisees or which begin “You have heard it said…” – the examples I can think of off of the top of my head are all examples of overturning culture in favor of Natural Law.  In other words, Jesus makes clear that what many refer to as Judeo-Christian as the basis for Western civilization is simply Christian.  The Judeo part of the equation destroyed the love inherent in Natural Law.

I write often about the old and good law.  This means…not just old law – as the Pharisees would see it.  “Good” law is grounded in Natural Law (and I don’t mean to imply here physical punishment for all violations of Natural Law, as I do not believe this nor is this the example Jesus gave us).

Where Jesus overturned culture – again, from my memory – He did it in the direction of Natural Law, law that recognizes the proper ends for human beings.  You don’t get much better “good” law than this.

Conclusion

Of the five topics here, it is the last one – if any – that I might pursue further.  In the meantime, back to the mezze:

Meze is generally accompanied by the distilled drinks rakı, arak, ouzo, Aragh Sagi, rakia, mastika, or tsipouro.

Each of these drinks is regional – specific to a place.  I always choose based on the country (or restaurant) in which I am dining.  When in Rome and all that.  But my go to?  The one in my liquor cabinet?  I am a bit ashamed to admit it, but it is the state-owned Yeni raki from Turkey.  More bite than ouzo or arak, but what do you expect from Turks.  Add a little water and a little ice….

All I can say is…pass the bastirma.

9 comments:

  1. "Certainly, diversity can be a strength if ends are held in common; certainly, diversity is a strength if the rules of the game (the means) are respected."

    I really appreciate this statement. I suggest we all memorize this to use it as we encounter people who say that diversity is our strength. They probably mean what BM stated but are probably not aware that diversity can be a weakness at all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Diversity go all the way back, to american constitution
    The No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution is a clause within Article VI, Clause 3. By its plain terms, no federal officeholder or employee can be required to adhere to or accept any particular religion or doctrine as a prerequisite to holding a federal office or a federal government job.

    max

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent post!

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Do you want to succeed by the standards of this world? Be a champion of the biggest lie. Do you want to survive? Don’t openly challenge any of the lies.

    Do you want to do righteous work? Speak truthfully."--BM

    Since the first time I saw this, I've been mulling it over, coming back and reading it again and again, trying to grasp the full significance of the statement. It speaks to the heart of the matter in as succinct, yet profound way as I have ever seen. Well done, Bionic!

    Something like this played out in history some 3500 years ago. You can find the story in 1 Kings, starting in chapter 16, verse 29 and continuing through chapter 19. Two passages stand out.

    18:21--"And Elijah came to all the people and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him.' But the people answered him not a word."

    In a nutshell, we have those who have succeeded by telling lies, big lies, i.e., Ahab, Jezebel, the prophets of Baal. We have one, Elijah, who is doing righteous work by speaking truthfully. And we have those in the middle who are keeping their heads down, just waiting to see who is going to win before they commit to anything other than bare survival. Of course, as soon as the fire came out of heaven and burned up Elijah's sacrifice, they immediately jumped on the bandwagon.

    Problem is, today, we don't have an Elijah. Or do we?

    Second reference--19:13b, 14, and 18. "Suddenly a voice came to him and said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' And he said, 'I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left and they seek to take my life.'

    God then lets him in on a little secret. "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him."

    Elijah had just won a huge victory for righteousness, but ran like a scared dog when his life was threatened. Inevitably, God caught up with him when he had ample time to think in a quiet place. I like the way God went after him. "What are you doing here in a cave by yourself?", as if to say, "Why aren't you out there doing my work and speaking truth to power?"

    Incidentally, the number 7,000 isn't necessarily meant to be a literal number, but more likely is God's way of telling Elijah that he isn't alone and that there are innumerable men and women in Israel who still revere, honor, and hold to the Truth. This should encourage us that we are not alone and all is not lost just because it might look that way. It may get dicey and some of us may lose our lives before it's over, but eventually the Truth will win out.

    Magnificent essay, Mr. Mosquito, and the bastirma looks very enticing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Roger.

      "Problem is, today, we don't have an Elijah. Or do we?"

      A handful, perhaps: Ron Paul, certainly, but obviously his platform is not what it was when he was running for POTUS; Rand Paul, he has become better on many issues, but he may have thrown away the energy he inherited from his father's efforts by some of his earlier moves to fit into the establishment.

      I see Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute - and those associated with it.

      "...God's way of telling Elijah that he isn't alone..."

      I will guess that you are familiar with Isaiah's Job.

      https://mises.org/library/isaiahs-job

      Delete
  5. Hi Bionic,

    I imagine you've read last Monday's LRC article on "White Guilt and Christianity" by Jack Kerwick. If not, it's worth checking.

    It brought into relief some issues that have been taking form in my head of late. More specifically, this link between Christianity's celebration of the meek victim, and today's post-Progressive church of victimhood. It's something I noticed a while ago but never bothered to pursue, because attacking Christianity, or what's left of it these days, is counterproductive considering the other problems we face.

    Kerwick admitted to the intellectual debt that today's terminal effemination of Western culture owes to the Christian "victim worship" mindset (for lack of a better term). He even pointed out that the movements responsible for decoupling this mentality from the other tenets of Christianity which kept it in check - such as the Enlightenment - were *also* unique products of Christian culture.

    Anyway, I'm not here to knock on Christianity. Quite the opposite, in fact... but I'll have to annoy you with a few personal details. Up until my teens I was a fairly run-of-the-mill atheist Progressive-to-be. Then I discovered mises.org and the libertarian movement. Since then it's been a journey (aided by the likes of Hoppe and yourself) away from the pure NAP: at first I respected (and even flirted with) libertine lifestyles; today I'm unequivocally hostile towards them (more specifically against their claim not only to legitimacy, but to historical victimhood and State support).

    This process has not exactly moved me towards Christianity, however. In no small part because the Christians I see around me, insofar as they are concerned with pushing their world view (and many are not, being merely happy to count on more-or-less guaranteed forgiveness of their sins) seem to emphasize precisely those aspects that rhyme with the warbling of the church of victimhood. As Kerwick points out in his article, and you do here, most Christian denominations are no friends to Christianity these days.

    So with time I've drifted towards a mix of a stoic outlook on my fate and the world's, and a sort of Nietzschian disgust at people who hide behind empathy to justify their feeble, dissolute lives - matched by an admiration towards those who hold their own and don't easily bend to pressure, even if they're not exactly paragons of virtue otherwise. It's the sort of feeling that propelled the likes of Trump and Bolsonaro to the top despite all their failings, so it can't be so unusual.

    Finally, my point: as you know way better than me, the Christian faith once conquered a world of pagan warriors who lived off of raiding, fended off the armies of a religion built on conquest, and spread to every corner of the world. If the early missionaries could pull off converting Germanic and Viking chieftains, surely it's doable to take this contemporary mass of people who endured much at the hands of political correctness in the name of toleration, and show them the proper Christian way forward.

    But who's selling such a thing? That's what I feel is missing. In a very real sense, I and many others want to believe, but we're having to make our own way not just against the headwinds of secular cultural decay, but also many Christians who I feel are hardly worthy of the title.

    Just to be clear, I'm not asking for spiritual advice, though I wouldn't spurn it. I'm just wondering how exactly you see the present sorry state of organized Christianity ending positively, as you seem confident that it will.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nilo, thank you very much for this description of your journey.

      How do I see it ending positively, given the paucity of virtuous Christian leaders and the endless list of enemies of Christ in the pulpits...

      My primary answer lies in the fact of the reality of God's justice. But I know such an answer is not satisfactory to many.

      My practical answer: it is not natural for man to live this way - the destructive way of current Western culture. When I use the term "natural," this is in the context of Natural Law in the Aristotelian - Thomistic tradition.

      As it is not natural, it cannot last. We see the signs of it coming apart already - there is a meaning crisis in the West: on the one hand, all the nihilism, suicide, drug addiction and immorality; coming out of this, many who are searching for answers - for something that gives life meaning.

      Meaning is to be found in man pursuing his proper ends - working toward his proper purpose.

      This transition may not be very pleasant, but it is unavoidable. As Austrians (and now many economists from other schools) suggest, there must be a debt and economic reset. I think the same is true morally / culturally. Neither experience will be very fun.

      I will suggest watching videos from Paul VanderKlay and Jonathan Pageau - the first, Christian Reformed (Calvinist), the second, Orthodox. You might find these helpful.

      Delete
  6. Yes, I have read it before, the first time was probably at least 35 years ago. It didn't mean much to me then, not nearly as much as now. Thanks for the link.

    Isaiah’s job is a lonely road. Generally speaking, people will not listen to anything approximating the truth, especially if it's articulated to them by someone else. It’s too inconvenient and/or personally costly to adhere to. It means that people have to examine themselves, the ideas and beliefs they have, their attitudes, and literally change the way they think. Virtually no one is willing to do this because someone else says they should—even if God sent them.

    When the chips are down and they are desperate, most people will listen to the truth, but is does not follow that they will change. If they do, it’s not certain it will be for the better. Telling them there is a better way and expecting them to take it is almost always an exercise in futility and a waste of breath and time. This has to be understood by anyone who speaks the truth, but it does not create an excuse for keeping quiet. The truth must be told, always and forever, whether anyone listens or not. Putting it out there is my responsibility, causing positive change in the people who hear it is God's.

    I have closely worked for the last seven years with a man who is young enough to be my son. He is aggressively progressive and this has caused some lively discussions between us. Recently I have noticed a shift in his attitude, which tells me that maybe, just maybe, I might be having an impact on the way he thinks. He has the capability and potential of spreading his message widely and the thought has occurred to me that this might be the reason why I am here--not to educate the masses, but to train one person who will carry the load after I'm gone. Then again, maybe not. Quien sabe?

    “And when I’m dead and when I’m gone, I pray there’ll be one child born, in this world, to carry on...to carry on.”--Blood, Sweat, and Tears

    Not only is Isaiah's job a lonely road, it is also humbling. I’m coming to grips with the understanding that I’m not going to be famous or widely followed, but destined to live my life simply and truthfully. If God wants more than that from me, then He’ll have to say it in a way I can hear it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...not to educate the masses, but to train one person..."

      I feel the same way. For many reasons, I have done almost nothing to "grow" the reach of this blog. One of these reasons is that I feel that those who find something I write of value will decide on their own to follow. Of course, having many of my posts republished at LRC has helped in this regard. Given the reach of LRC, I feel that those who find things of meaning there will also then come here.

      Paul VanderKlay recently said something along the lines: "People tell me, 'Pastor, why don't you get up on the stage on Sunday morning and tell people they should stop doing XYZ?' To which I think, man, you just don't know how people work or think or act."

      But we don't stop trying. All we can do is our part.

      Delete