Thursday, August 11, 2022

Natural Law and the Meaning Crisis…

…or, as an alternative title: Must I Set Myself on Fire in a Public Display of Indignation….

Paul VanderKlay did a two-hour video covering a discussion between John Vervaeke and Jonathan Pageau that was hosted by Rebel Wisdom.  I watched PVK’s video, and the comment I left at his site regards this:

Two hours on a video that is focused on the necessity of natural law ethics and objective morality in order to live peacefully among other human beings and as the solution to the meaning crisis without ever once mentioning natural law ethics while dissing the idea of objective morality. 

Yes.  His entire video talked all around natural law but never mentioned it.  As for the term objective regarding morality and ethics, this was dismissed.

That’s really quite an accomplishment.  Thank God Karl is no longer around.  The tirades that would flow would be…Biblical!

Karl used to comment often at PVK’s site.  His frustration on the lack of focus on natural law ethics as necessary in this dialogue would often result in direct, blunt, biting comments.

I understand Vervaeke doesn’t want nostalgia. 

Vervaeke doesn’t want to go back to something.

He (and, it is clear, PVK) will have to contend with Lewis and The Abolition of Man on this point.

Why?  You know why (at least those of you who have been reading attentively over the years).  Citing Lewis from this book:

This thing which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. 

It is the sole source of all value judgements.  If it is rejected, all value is rejected.  If any value is retained, it is retained.

Unless you accept these without question as being to the world of action what axioms are to the world of theory, you can have no practical principles whatever.  You cannot reach them as conclusions; they are premises.

There has never been, and never will be, a radically new judgement of value in the history of the world.

The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

Nostalgia.  Nostalgia for traditional and objective ethics – the natural law.

Returning to my comment at PVK’s site:

It’s a good thing that there will be an eternity to sort this out.  At this pace, however, even eternity might not be long enough.

And then, a gift out of the blue – although, again, no mention of natural law at all.  A discussion between Jordan Peterson, John Vervaeke, and Jonathan Pageau.  This was complicated to follow, and it went on for 2.5 hours.  But I did find a few gems that were at the same time recognizable to me – including this million-dollar quote:

Monday, August 8, 2022

To Whom is the Apostle Writing?

Romans 13: 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

I have written often on this passage, and others which also speak to the relationship of the governed to the governor.  I have written of it from the view that the common interpretation is incorrect – or at least incomplete. 

For example, “governing authorities” does not mean simply those who occupy positions of monopoly authority: the state.  There are many governing authorities – including the Church and the family, and others such as universities, guilds, trade organizations, customers, business associates, etc.

Further, we run into the stumbling block of the authority that demands of us to act against our conscience – against God, if you will.  One cannot read these verses written by St. Paul and reconcile this simplistic understanding with the fact that he defied the authorities unto his death.  (Which, if we are to extend this example, suggests that, ultimately, accepting the possibility of martyrdom is both necessary individually and beneficial as a means to grow the Kingdom.)

But this post won’t go through all of this ground – as if the only group St. Paul is writing to is the governed.  Instead, let’s review what he is writing to those in authority….

3(a) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.

This is the role of those in authority – to be a “terror” to (other translations use the phrase “strike fear in” or some version of this) those who act in bad conduct.

3(b) Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,

The ruler is to approve of good conduct – not punish it, not make it illegal, not cancel it.  To approve it.

4(a) for he is God's servant for your good.

But if the one in authority is not God’s servant for good, then whose servant is he if he rewards evil?

4(b) But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

I think about what many refer to as “the Old Testament God” (as if He changed).  The “wrath” He poured out on the wrongdoers of Sodom and Gomorrah, the wrath He poured out in the book of Joshua.  It was wrath poured out on those who act in bad conduct – those who practice evil, and even glory in it.  That wrath was poured out even on those in authority….

5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Those who “must be in subjection” also include those in authority, else they will receive God’s wrath.  This is tough, a test of our patience and superficial sense of justice: God’s wrath when?  Through whose hand?  Unfortunately, you might say, this is where we, as Christians, are stuck.  Time works differently for God than it does for us.  How His wrath is shown may not always be to our immediate and worldly satisfaction.

6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

Because of “what” do we pay taxes?  The “what” is all of the things St. Paul has offered as required of those in authority: to reward good and punish evil; to be a terror to those of bad conduct, not good.  But there is more on this subject of taxes, and for this I turn to the time when Israel demanded a king, and the warning God offered regarding their demand:

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

When Revolution Comes

Louis XVI had called for the convocation of the Estates General, and as the year 1789 opened it began to assemble.

The Age of Utopia: Christendom from the Renaissance to the Russian Revolution, by John Strickland

He had no choice, really.  The state’s finances were a mess.  He would have the support of most of the first two estates – the clergy and the nobility – as long as no new taxes were involved.  The third estate was not so obliging.  More than mere financial reform was expected; they wanted to see action on many fronts, where critical views were now circulating on the shape and nature of the state itself.

Here is where the vision of Jean-Jacques Rousseau would be decisive.  None of the Augustinian anthropological pessimism for him.  “Man is born free, yet everywhere he is in chains.”  Man is not born evil, but good.  It is human society that corrupts him.  The restoration of innocence is possible, but only through a transformation of society.

A “general will” replaces the individual will.  This general will offers an escape from evil that is neither natural nor supernatural.  Idealism and self-sacrifice are required.  And, of course, revolution.

By the time the Estates General convened in May of 1789, revolution was already brewing.  The third estate demanded a national assembly to serve the interests of the majority of the population.  Louis scoffed, an insurrection was fomented, and on July 14 the Bastille was stormed.  Mostly symbolic by this time, except for the garrison manning this prison.  Massacred, and the commander beheaded.  Terror would soon Reign, replacing the reign of the monarch.

In the meantime, the self-proclaimed National Assembly created a constitutional monarchy modeled on that of Britain.

All Roman Catholic Church property was confiscated; monastic orders were dissolved.  In 1790 a law was passed, demanding that Roman Catholic clergy swear an oath of obedience to the revolutionary government.  Many would refuse to take the oath.

In 1791, Louis would attempt to flee France in disguise.  Discovered, he was forced to return to Paris.  In 1792, Austria and Prussia would invade France to defend the principle of absolutism; national conscription helped to keep this enemy at bay.

The Terror would now reach its full force: Roman Catholic priests chased down and hacked to pieces; the king and queen were publicly executed.  The guillotine reached its place in infamy – symbolizing the terror to come.

As is almost always the case, the most radical of the revolutionaries would be the ones to seize power.  The Jacobins, with their leader Maximilien Robespierre, were fervent utopians.  A deist who would not survive even a couple of years after this, would proclaim the aim of the revolution as a wish…

“…to fulfil the course of nature…accomplish the destiny of mankind…make good the promises of philosophy…absolve Providence from the long reign of tyranny and crime.”

This new France would be a model to all nations and a terror to oppressors.  They would seal their work with blood.

“That is our ambition.  That is our aim.”

The clergy and nobility were to be eradicated.  As an aside, the so-called nobility of our time (including many who feign Christianity) seem to believe that they can be spared this fate by also joining sides against the clergy.

Friday, July 29, 2022

When Revolution is Inevitable

A pamphlet ironically entitled The Fasts of Louis XV, for instance, described how the king’s agents regularly scoured Paris for girls to add to the royal “harem.”

The Age of Utopia: Christendom from the Renaissance to the Russian Revolution, by John Strickland

Two major revolutions followed the ideas of the Enlightenment.  One, the American, seemingly a mostly successful one for human liberty, offered a system which didn’t last even one hundred years – and, in reality, not even that given the founding generation’s proclivities of violating their own Constitution.

The other, French.  Unlike the American, there really is nothing good to be said for this one.  Of course, not that there was no cause for which to revolt.  And on one level, this is what Strickland examines here.  On a deeper level, which is the larger theme for Strickland in this third book of his four-part series, there is the divorce from God.  But in Strickland’s case, it is deeper still – a divorce from God and Christianity as understood by the universal Church until the eleventh century.

As it has been some time since I have commented on this book, a brief but relevant comment.  I have not yet found Strickland’s larger view convincing.  I am not speaking of the religious context, the doctrinal and theological differences that divided the eastern and western church.  I am considering the governance structures that came out of each – and how these would inform a healthy individual liberty.

In the West, and despite what many claim, there was a constant tension between Church and king.  Neither had complete authority over the other.  In this space, individuals who felt wronged by one could always appeal to the other.

Certainly, each side would try to assume more authority, and the balance would shift often one way or the other.  But until after the Reformation, such a monopoly was never achieved.  It is for this reason that I find no reason to identify as a state any governance entity prior to the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 or, perhaps, even the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.  There was no monopoly until these treaties, hence no “state” as we use the term.

Different in the East, where the governance idea was symphony – the emperor, a good Christian man, would govern as the ideal presented in places like Romans 13.  The bishops, supporting and subordinate to the emperor, would offer Christian counsel, and the emperor would accept such counsel.  Not surprisingly, it rarely worked out this way.

With this as background, I return to Strickland as his review of the French Revolution is worth considering.  As indicated in the opening quote, the reputation of the French monarch and the monarchy was one of filth and debauchery.  And, as if the moral issues were not enough, by the end of the eighteenth century, the finances were in crisis.

It is worth stopping to consider that in the case of the American Revolution and the situation of the colonies…the moral situation of the colonial leaders was not such – at least not in any sources I have ever read.  Further, prior to the Revolution, the finances of the local colonies were not a mess (saying nothing of the mess created during and after the war). 

In other words, for these reasons and others, the soil was different in America as opposed to France.  And this difference helped lead to the different outcomes.  Therefore, it is worth asking: what is the soil in the United States today?  And what might this mean for us in our time and the coming decades?

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Art of the Meme

A skill I do not possess…

bad cattitude (el gato malo) has written a three-part series on the value of memes in battling today’s demon-worshippers.  Part one is here, and the other two parts can be found via links at the bottom of each successive part.

A few key points:

a picture may be 1000 words, but a good meme is a treatise.

You know this, based on many memes you have seen.  If you aren’t sure, look at a few of the memes posted by the bad cat.

the information to rapidly make and rarify memes that refute what was once the primary modality of high-speed emotive messaging has completely pantsed the phonies and exposed the dumb-dumbs.

Yes, everything the cat writes is lower-case.

and dogmatists can’t meme.

Dogmatists being those who wish to control us.  In other words, it is a skill that they, like me, do not possess.

But what would they meme, anyway?  By the time they got around to doing it, the lie that they tried to pass off yesterday will have been exposed as a lie today.  The memes expose lies and hypocrisy.  It is the controllers that are at risk here.

A meme created by the left of Alex Jones saying the jab won’t protect you from getting covid or dying?  That would have had a shelf life of about three days.  The meme of Biden saying it will protect you?  That still sells – because the lie has proven to be a lie.

Conclusion

From Saul Alinsky:

RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”

RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”

RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”

Works for me.

Read the series by el gato malo.  Worth a chuckle, but also perhaps a small sign of hope.

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Mark of the Beast Slayer

You want this mark….

Ezekiel 9: 1 Then he cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, “Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.” 2 And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his weapon for slaughter in his hand, and with them was a man clothed in linen, with a writing case at his waist. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

There is one way out:

3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his waist. 4 And the Lord said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”

You really want this mark.  Sigh and groan over all the abominations in the city.

5 And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. 6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark….”

Like I said, you want this mark.

Conclusion

The beast slayer:

Revelation 19: 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Jordan Peterson’s Russia-Ukraine Do-Over

Early on in Russia’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine, Jordan Peterson decided to get educated, and chose as his teacher the perpetual warmonger Frederick Kagan.  The video of their discussion is here, and I wrote a short post covering the video here.

To summarize my thoughts on the video…

I made it through about 15 minutes of this garbage.  I could have heard the same thing in about two minutes on CNN.

A sampling of the many of the comments Peterson received as a result of his choice in teachers…

·         This interview was garbage from beginning to end.

·         NATO is not only a defensive alliance, it bombed Yugoslavia with no attacks from it on NATO members

·         I miss Prof Cohen.  And listening to this guy, who seems to be a typical Putin-hater, reminded me

·         Kagan is way off base. No mention of the Nazi brigades, no mention of bloated militarization of Ukraine, the illegal Maidan coup, etc. Everything is Putin, Putin, Putin. Donbas is mostly Russian speaking and they are a cancelled abused people. Kagan should take his academic ego and crawl back under his know-it-all rock. Bad choice JP! You can do better!

·         Kagan's failure to mention Ukraine's state sponsored neonazi forces shows his hand. I don't trust or believe him.

·         Frederick Kagan is schilling for the Neocons.

There were several suggestions that Peterson speak to John Mearsheimer.  One of which was mine.

Well, Peterson has taken a do-over.  But, first, an update on Peterson news.  He has recently joined the Daily Wire.  To me, something like this was inevitable – assuming Peterson’s health held out such that he could continue in his task of bucking (for the most part) the leftist turn of his liberalism.

So, with that, on to the subject video, entitled Russia Vs. Ukraine Or Civil War In The West?  The title suggests that Peterson is aware of something deeper going on than merely “Putin is the next Hitler.”

I won’t go through a blow by blow.  But here are the main themes (and I am not directly quoting Peterson, but offering a flavor):

·         I was pilloried for choosing Kagan as a teacher

·         I watched Mearsheimer

·         It turns out the situation is much more complicated than I was led to believe

·         Putin is concerned that the West wants to turn Russia into the same morally depraved hell-hole that they have forced onto Western society

·         The fight in Ukraine is a mirror of the civil war consuming the West

·         Whatever one might have as a complaint about Putin, he is a far better person than anyone who has led that country in over a hundred years.

Now, Peterson made a few mistakes – he kept messing up on the geography (“…the Russian speakers in the northeast of Ukraine,” etc.).  He didn’t touch very much on the history of Western antagonisms in Ukraine.  He also decided to get into the economic prediction game (“$300 oil”), which is an easy way for others to attack him if he is wrong on any of it.