Tag Archives: Christianity

Christian Culture

Evo X asks why Star Wars is more popular than God. I’ll answer.

My parents were really into the Christian culture thing (my mom even owned a small Christian bookstore home business for a couple years) and so was I until some time in my early 20’s. I watched Veggie Tales, McGee & Me, the Greatest Adventures, Gerbert, and the rest. I listened to the music of Carmen and DC Talk (but not the Newsboys), and tons of Christian metalcore, punk, and hardcore (FaceDown Records!). I read the Left Behind, Wally McDoogle, Baker Street Sports Club (and spin-off), and Lightning on Ice series, among many others. I owned the Picture Bible (the Bible in comic book format), many of the Archie Christian comics, and Heroes of the Faith bible comics (which I thought were pretty cool at the time, because look at that blood and brain matter. That series was surprisingly gory for the Christian culture industry).

So, you can believe me when I say I know that there are people who do (or at least did) try to keep their kids in the Christian culture industry. As far as I can tell, some people in my church still do. I’ve seen kids in my church carrying around their Action Bibles and Christian manga.

The problems are many. First, it doesn’t work unless you isolate your children from non-Christian children. I enjoyed Veggie Tales, but when your friends at school have no idea what “Whoa I ate the bunny” is and are instead referencing the Simpsons (which you’re not allowed to watch) then you want to watch the Simpsons, just so you can understand what “Hi diddly ho, neighbourino” refers to. When the secular culture is omnipresent, its very difficult to confine your kids to Christian culture.

(This can lead to some ridiculous situations. If you can only listen to Christian music or have Christian cultural products, it becomes tempting to try to define what is Christian as broadly as possible, so you can enjoy what your friends do. Every even quasi-spiritual band is scouted for how Christian they were. I’ve watched as young Christians argued that Linkin Park is Christian).

Second, it’s limited. Sure, there are some comics, some shows, and some movies, but there’s only some (and even fewer which are actually good). How many times can your kids watch Veggie Tales before he gets bored? How may times can you turn on the Greatest Adventure, until you get sick of hearing it in the background, much less your kid? There’s more books, but still it’s limited. There are only so many Christian products being produced, you’ll eventually run out. I like metal, there’s some, but not very many, Christian power metal bands. I couldn’t fill my desire for metal on them alone.

Third, it’s comparatively crappy. Everyone, including almost every Christian, knows that Christian cultural productions are not very good. This is especially so in the area of movies and TV. The only truly good Christian movie I can think of was Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, which was created apart from the Christian culture industry. Most of the rest range from crappy to mediocre. As someone in our sphere (I think, I can’t find the piece), wrote on somewhat recently, it takes the whole support system of Hollywood to make a believable movie, and Christians just don’t have that.

It’s somewhat better in books, because those don’t require as much support, but even so: Left Behind was the Christian cultural phenomenon, but the books were decent at best (I read most of them) and the movies (I haven’t seen) were supposedly terrible. Wright’s the best contemporary Christian fiction author I’ve read (by far) and he’s outside the Christian culture industry. TheChristian talent pool is also much smaller, so the likelihood of a spectacular Christian writer is lower. As well, the need many Christians have for works to have an explicit Christian message and to eliminate vice (no swears or drinking) makes subtler and/or realistic stories more difficult, while also severely limiting some genres such as fantasy (ironic, given the predominance of Tolkien and Lewis in the genre, I know) or SF.

Music is also somewhat better. There are some solid bands, but still, Christian music is generally inferior. Besides the talent pool issue, one problem is the Christian music industry attempts to be relevant, which generally ends up meaning they’re chasing whatever trend is popular at the time. So, by the time they actually get around to writing and producing the music, they’re already feeling like mediocre derivatives of trends from a few years ago. KJ-52 is an excellent example of this. He is (was?) the biggest name in Christian rap, but he put out his first CD a year after the Slim Shady LP, and was signed to a Christian label a couple years later. He sounded like an Eminem clone chasing the trend (and naming one of his main tracks Dear Slim didn’t really dispel this). Most Christian music is like this, copying what was popular years, sometimes decades, before. The only genre I can think of where Christians really lead the fore is metalcore (I don’t know how or why Christians became such a strong presence in metalcore, although it might have something with the influence of Living Sacrifice).

The Christian music industry also has the problem of mainstreaming. There’s a general trend that as a Christian band distinguishes themselves and becomes more popular, they begin to tone down the Christianity and lose their distinctiveness. For example, my two favourite bands a decade ago were Disciple and POD. In their early stages, Disciple had a heavy, distinct, and somewhat vicious rap-metal sound with a very strong Christian message (most of their early CD’s contained a sermon as a closing track), but as time went on, they became more popular and started getting some mainstream attention. The music became more generic, less heavy, and the rap-metal sound was replaced by grungy heavy rock. The Christian message was heavily muted. Same with POD, who got a lot of mainstream attention for a Christian band. A band that had a song called “Abortion is Murder” and explicitly named Jesus in their first album, eventually moved to esoteric talk of Zion and Jah, sounding more Rastafarian than Christian. They also moved from a distinct, heavy rap-metal sound to a reggae-infused generic nu-metal. This process has repeated among countless other bands.

That being said, given the nature of the music industry, there are some great Christian bands out there. In metal, Theocracy is one of the best power metal bands, period, while Tourniquet played unique progressive thrash I have yet to see matched. I’m sure most other genres have similar examples.

Finally, a major issue for individuals is cost and availability. Christian stuff simply costs more and is available in fewer places. A mainstream CD costs from $10-15 (CAD) from HMV, which can be found in any mall. A Christian CD from a Christian bookstore is generally $15-20 (or more, I remember one Disciple CD putting me out $28), and you have to drive out of your way to get there. Even buying from Amazon it costs more. I remember the books costing more and the movies costing more. Amazon may be leveling this out, but I remember the price differences being quite significant.

So, the Christian culture thing is possible and people do it, but there are a lot of factors that pull against it and make it difficult. Bu even if you do do it, in the end, it doesn’t really work. Even if you homeschool, eventually your kid will join the rest of the world (unless you do an Amish colony type thing) and secular culture will get him. There’s a huge trend of Christian kids losing their faith in college and the Christian cultural industry is one of the contributors to it. Antibodies to secular culture needs to be built up while young so the child has a hope to resist it. For example, I’m the only one of my siblings to remain a practicing Christian, despite our upbringing in the Christian cultural industry and my parents attempts to limit secular culture. I’ve seen a number fo other families whose Christian-culture raised kids have strayed upon leaving high school. Some come back, some don’t.

A Facebook Poll asked people to list their favorite books; while Harry Potter came in first, 7.2% of people listed the Bible.

Obviously this is not a good way of comparing affection for Star Wars to affection to the Bible, but having interacted with people, 7% feels rather close to the actual percentage of real Christians.

This one is interesting, because despite my regular quotations of the Bible around here, I would likely not list the Bible as being among my favourite books.

I’m not fully sure how to explain it, but there’s something separate between the sacred and the profane. Important sacred things are measured by different standards than mundane things. I wouldn’t read my Bible for fun and enjoyment and I know of few Christians who actually enjoy reading scripture, yet it’s the book I’ve spent the most time reading by far. I wouldn’t call it my favourite book, but it is definitely the most important and influential book in my life. It’s simply measured differently.

Maybe a more relatable example will help. Amazing Grace is simply the most beautiful, emotionally moving song I know. Yet, I have never listened to it for entertainment. It’s not and has never been in my iTunes or on my MP3 player. I would definitely not call it my favourite song. It’s in a separate category all its own, along with other hymns. It’s set apart.

Relatedly, however much I love heavy metal, I’d strongly object if we added heavy metal worship music to my church. It simply wouldn’t be right.

That might be the problem with the Christian cultural industry, particularly music. It is trying to make the sacred profane and bringing the profane into the sacred. Worship music is set apart; the old hymns have a power and meaning to them. Translating that power, that meaning, into popular music is difficult. The Bible has deep truths, translating those into mundane stories of popular fiction is difficult, something only the most skilled wordsmiths are capable of doing right, which is why so much popular Christian literature is so heavy-handedly clunky.  It takes a lot of skill to produce Narnia, very few writers have that skill. While trying to make a mass market thriller spiritually meaningful is a near hopeless task.

One example of the profane infecting the sacred that really rankles me is Grace Like Rain. It’s a “redone” Amazing Grace in contemporary style that adds a course. The song itself is okay if you like CCM, but churches have taken to adding this to the worship music repertoire. So, you’ll be singing along to Amazing Grace, then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a pop music course of “Hallelujah, grace like rain…” will interject itself, completely ruining the power and atmosphere of the hymn. The sacred song is profaned by the injection of CCM.

The secular and the sacred are separate. Adding the sacred to the secular is difficult and the unskilled will ruin it. Adding the secular to the sacred ruins the sacred. (also, CCM should be kept out of the church).

Dear Pagan Reactionaries

The perpetual discussion between Christians and atheists/pagans on the hard right has once again come to the fore. Now I have nothing against you pagans, and am willing to work with you to remove the leftist virus. If you do work together with us, I am fine with the restored society allowing you all to drink mead and sacrifice goats to Odin, or whatever made-up rituals you guys invent for yourselves, as long as it’s not too degenerative. I have no problems with virtuous pagans, I respect them and endorse a live and let live attitude. I even have taken some shine to certain aesthetic aspects of paganism.

I also have no problems with reasoned discussions if Christianity is pozzed (it is and has been for a few decades at least). Although, paganism (and atheism for that matter) is far more feminized and pozzed than Christianity, so you don’t exactly have the high ground here. We can discuss history, and you can pretend it was Christians who destroyed Rome, even though Rome was already dying well before Constantine and Christians saved and preserved what was left to save in the Eastern Empire for another millennia. You can brag about how Odin and Thor are superior gods and complain about how Christians were evil destroyers of germanic paganism, even though everything you know about the Norse gods comes from manuscripts written and preserved by Christians. You can pretend your made-up rituals and religion represent authentic germanic culture and religion, while you reject the religion of your ancestors for the last thousand years to try to resurrect long dead gods. You can brag about the superiority of Western civilization while ignoring that there was no germanic civilization prior to Christianization.  That’s all fine. I have no problems with that.

But please don’t pick a fight with us. All the “cuckstains”, “dead Jew on a stick” and other silly attacks on Christianity add nothing to the discussion and have no purpose but to drive your allies away. I would prefer not to have in-fighting amongst us. Even so, while focusing on eliminating leftism would be preferable, we will fight you if you force us to. Christians outnumber you and every time Christians and pagans have gone against each other, the final result has been the same. If you force a conflict this time, it will be no different.

Instead, of fighting against each other and insulting each other, let’s work together to bring about the restoration. There’s no need for us to quarrel amongst each other. Then when all is set right, we can share a pint of mead.

 

On Theonomy

A few theonomists read my blogs, so theonomy comes up in the comments on occasion. Last week, Mycroft Jones asked me why I wasn’t a theonomist. So, here’s a response.

First, for those who don’t know much about it, theonomy is the political idea held by Christian reconstructionists, an offshoot group of Reformed calvinist fundamentalists (not those calvinists) who believe in theocracy, that the Mosaic law should be observed by modern societies.

The main reason I’m not a theonomist is that it is made clear in the New Testament that the law has been fulfilled, we are under a new covenant and are not longer beholden to the rituals and laws of the Mosaic covenant.

The symbol of belonging to the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants was circumcision. The Mosaic covenant was memorialized through the ritual of passover and enacted through the blood of sacrifice. Those not of the covenant, ie. the uncircumcized, could not participate in passover and could not enter the temple to participate in sacrifice rituals. Jesus was the final, ultimate sacrifice and his death created a new covenant, the ritual of sacrifice was fulfilled in him and the ritual of passover was replaced by communion.

In the Jerusalem Council, Paul, Peter, Barnabas, and the other disciples, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit decided that circumcision was not required of Christians.

The Jerusalem Council

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

(Acts 15:1-29 ESV, selected)

From this it is clear that Christians are not under the Mosaic covenant. This reaffirms Peter’s earlier vision:

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

(Acts 10:9-29 ESV)

Here is made clear that once was unclean was made clean. As Paul wrote in Galatians, we are no longer under the law:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

(Galatians 3:10-29 ESV)
http://www.esvbible.org/Galatians+3/

We are no longer under the law but under faith. He continues, specifically linking this to circumcision:

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

(Galatians 5:2-12 ESV)

We are not under the law, we are under grace. We are no longer to be circumcised as we are no longer in the Mosaic covenant, so we are not under the Mosaic laws. Christ has fulfilled the law. Theonomists are trying to bring the whole of the law upon themselves, to be justified by law, which leads to a falling from grace.

We are to follow the commandments of the new Covenant, those that are (re-)affirmed in the New Testament. The civil laws of the Mosaic covenant are nowhere reaffirmed.

That being said, I’m not necessarily opposed to theocracy, if it were a Christian theocracy and not a Mosaic theocracy.

None of this is to say that Mosaic law is to be ignored. It can and should still be used as guide and reference, but we are not bound by it.

****

Also, Jacob asked:

When you say “your people”, do you mean God’s people (Christians), or whites?

Both are my people.

Easter

The Death of Jesus

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

Jesus Is Buried

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

The Resurrection

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Jesus and Thomas

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of This Book

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

(John 19, 20 ESV)

Religion is Absurd

Spandrell points out a talk about religion calling it absurd:

And let me tell you how I think it’s been so successful. First of all there wouldn’t have been any societies without religion, without transcendental beliefs. Which are absurd. They have to be preposterous. The basic tenets are not false beliefs. They are preposterous beliefs. Something like Aristotle’s category violations, a “four-footed idea”. It’s not something that even has truth conditions. It’s not something that even has truth conditions. So it’s open to interpretation, which makes it so adaptable. That’s why you have sermons, and imams, and rabbis, and priests, giving you every week a new version of what it actually means, because the foundations of them are meaningless.

In this he agrees, at least partially, with Paul:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

(1 Corinthians 1:17-31 ESV)

Myth is True, yet it is also absurd, in that it is beyond verifiability or falsifibility, it exists outside the mere naturalistic material realm and is more True than any mere fact claim. Verifiability and falsifibility can discern naturalistic fact, they cannot discern Truth.

Yet, this absurdity does not mean it is meaningless, something which meaningless which he touches upon right away:

But you need meaningless ideas, unfalsifiable, and unverifiable. Otherwise, it’s a mere social contract of convenience which has an exit strategy and people can defect any time they want. Once you buy into this apparently absurd beliefs, and think about it, the more apparently absurd they are, the deeper the trust they engender. And stronger the societies are in competition with other societies. And Darwin of course was the first to point this out in The Descent of Man, saying : why do the heroes and martyrs come into being? They are willing to die and commit to this… what? What are they dying for? They’re not dying even for their families, because they know they are gonna die. They are dying for abstract ideas, abstract causes, which no other creature but man re subject. And human beings will do their utmost exertion for ill or good, not for the sake of kith and kin, but collectively for the sake of abstract ideas. And these abstract ideas are unverifiable, and unfalsifiable.

People will fight, work, and die for Truth, they will not do so for what is merely true.

This is because meaning is only found in Truth, yet Truth is beyond mere fact. Fact is meaningless; it exists, but in relation nothing.

The sky is blue! Who cares? Water is wet! Meh. 1.34159! So?

The fit reproduce, the unfit are selected out! And so? What does this mean to me?

Solomon was the fittest, he had 1000 wives and concubines. Yet:

And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 ESV)

There is no meaning in fact… Where is meaning to be found?

Man needs meaning, he needs myth. Myth makes man.

Facts are meaningless in themselves, Truth is not. Facts are only valuable when they have been given meaning by being subsumed in myth.

****

The content of religious beliefs are what people make of them at the moment. What they agree upon them at the moment. They aren’t fixed, they are forever adaptable. And that is why they are counterintuitive and absurd. Because if they were fixed, if you could give them propositional content, if you could falsify them, or verify them, they’d be stuck. So they have to be open.

Here the speech fumbles, at least regarding Christianity. The Truth of Christianity has not changed in two thousand years, as there is one Truth:

A carpenter nailed to a tree then resurrected.

Barring time travel, the ability to verify this event passed long ago. Even beyond that single Truth, the Christian Church has held to the same creeds for two thousand years. Through time and cultures there have been heretics and apostates, debates over theological matters, doctrinal changes, disagreements, and clarifications, different emphasises, and such and on, but the core truths have stood firm and the core teachings, repent and be baptized, have not changed.

Even with these changes the Orthodox Church has held the same views for two thousand years (with, as far as I know, the only major change being the temporary reversals on iconography), the Roman Catholic Church has held mostly the same views for two thousand years, and, until the last century of degeneracy, even within most Protestant churches core doctrines of particular denominations rarely changed.

Repost: Pleasures of the Flesh

Given the recent spat between NRx and the manosphere, I thought reposting this from 2013 may be of interest. (You can also check out this on reaction and PUAs).  Hopefully this is my last repost for a while and I can go back to posting regularly.

I’ve been noting in my Lightning Rounds that a few experienced players have been reaching the end of their run on the hedonic treadmill and are finding the whole experience unfulfilling. Last week, I wrote of how neither hedonism nor meaningless LTR’s will leave a man fulfilled. Now it seems Frost is suffering from player burn-out as well.

Except for a few men, playerdom will never be fulfilling in the end. Shallow pleasure does not bring contentment, only momentary happiness. Meaningless sex is simply the same effect as drugs, except one step removed (or more accurately, drugs are simply artificial inducements of effects similar to that which meaningless sex will bring). As with drugs, it will not satisfy, but it will become increasingly consuming as it becomes increasingly less pleasurable.

You will have sex, feel pleasure, then have but feel slightly less pleasure, and each time you will require more sex, more kinkiness, hotter women, and yet still feel slightly less pleasure each time. Meanwhile, you never feel the contentment you seek. The hedonic treadmill continues to roll until you either die or get off.

So, why not just ride for a while and get off at the right time?

The treadmill takes its toll even after you get off. Just as a carousel rider suffers as an alpha widow, so to does the ex-player suffer from the player’s curse.

A man who limits himself to one sexual partner has, by definition, the best sexual partner of his life with whom he is having the best sex of his life. The player, not so much. Any long-term relationship he may try will always be haunted by the ghosts of better sex and more beautiful partners of time past. The more partners he had prior, the more likely and stronger the hauntings.

There is no purpose to be found in hedonism, only emptiness.

I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:7-11, ESV)

Other men go make a different, but no less mistaken, extreme. Rather than pursuing meaningless sex from multiple women, they pursue meaning in a single woman. They find their identity and purpose in loving and serving another fallen person. This is as almost as empty as the meaningless sex, and will leave a man almost as hollow in the end. How is her value more than your own?

A man’s purpose of life can not be found in women or a singular woman.

If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to the one place? (Ecclesiastes 6:3-6, ESV)

So, where can purpose be in life be found?

For this, we can turn to Genesis:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

This is the first commandment; this is for what God made man.

Man’s purpose is to be found in filling and subduing the earth. Work was what man was created and/or evolved for. Man is meant to tame the land and to build from that which he needs and desires and to fill his tamed land with his own.

Man’s purpose is in building something greater than himself and then to create future generations to enjoy it.

Yet, there is a problem:

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19, ESV)

I have read this verse many times in my life, but only recently did I realize the full measure of agony contained within these words.

It is only in his work that man can find meaning, yet rather than something pleasurable, work is something difficult, bitter, and wearying.

How bitter this cup, that man’s purpose is to toil, yet his toil is naught but pain to him. To his even greater agony, when his toil is through and he surveys the work gained by through the sweat of his brow, he always knows that from dust it came and to dust it will return.

To find purpose, a man must always be working, always in bitter toil, yet know that all his work will eventually crumble in ruin.

I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2:18-23, ESV)

What is a man to do when all is vanity? How can man continue on, when all about his is rust and decay

Here is all for man to do:

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10, ESV)

A man accepts that life is vanity; he accepts that life is toil, but he continues. He finds what joy he can, knowing joy is illusionary, while working to build, knowing that his works will fade and decay.

A man’s purpose is to continue to build and enjoy the fruits of his labour even when he can not find meaning in the building or its fruits.

Creationism: The Modernist Frame

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while and have been observant, you may have noticed that I use created and evolved more-or-less interchangeably. At one time I was a strong creationist, but that was years ago. Now I tend use whichever one is more convenient. Evolution makes logical sense, the evidence I’ve reviewed seems to support it, and seems to be supported by those who know more than me about the science involved, so I accept it as fact. On the other hand, I would not be overly surprised if liberals and their pet scientists have constructed a false scientific narrative on this issue. Whatever the case, I accept evolution as fact but do not discount the possibility of creationism, and tend to use whichever happens to be most convenient at the time.

The veracity of evolution has no impact on my faith either way. Did God create man through natural evolutionary processes, did He create man through guided evolutionary processes, did He create man from ashes in a literal 168-hour period? It doesn’t matter. Maybe God was being literal when having man dictate His Word, maybe He was being figurative and poetic, maybe He wanted the focus to be on the more important underlying points, or maybe explaining 20th century biological science to iron age nomadic shepherds was not the point of the Biblical narrative.

This has been my position for many years. It doesn’t matter, but recently, I’ve begun to think that it dose matter but in a completely different way.

The problem with the creation/evolution debate is not whether one or the other is fact, but the entire frame of the debate itself. The whole creation/evolution debate is an example of both creationists and atheists being pwned by modernity. Any Christian jumping into that debate has already lost himself to modernism and its secular worldview.

Creationists have lost completely their conception of primal/mythic truth. They can not conceive of Truth apart from fact, so their faith rests on a literal interpretation of what is fairly obviously poetical and has a high chance of not being meant to be understood literally. They believe that if creation as written isn’t fact then it can’t be true and therefore the Bible is false and the faith is false.

This is false. Whether the literal creation is fact or not does not impact whether it is true. It is the myth, the Truth, of man’s relationship to God, man’s relation to nature, man’s purpose, man’s blessing, man’s relation to woman, and man’s sins. This is all true, whether or not the literal creation is fact. To rest the basis of the mythic truth of these claims on the fact truth of a poetic narrative of creation is to allow their greater humanity to be pwned by the modern’s soulless materialism.

As I said recently, “Modernism, in its essence, is the destruction of myth in the human experience and its replacement by fact, often false. Modernism is the entirety of truth being conquered by fact. Buying into the naturalist, materialist world-view is to swallow modernity whole.” To debate creationism as a science is to accept the modern frame. If you do so, you are already a materialist. You have accepted Nietzsche cry of “God is dead” and have embraced the death of metaphysics. You have embraced positivism as the only way.

By accepting the modern frame, creationism has made positivism their god.

Positivism has it’s place, the realm of fact. Science discovers fact, mundane truth, but it doesn’t discover Truth and it cannot create Truth, it cannot even create truth. To elevate science above its place is to destroy reason and Truth.

The creation myth is not a mundane truth under the yoke of positivism; to treat it as such is to degrade it. To look for Truth in science is to degrade yourself, to kill your own soul.

We can see soul-killing of the positivist approach to creation through the vulgar atheists. We can see them degrade themselves. They accept positivism in theory, but it kills their soul. So, to save their soul, they deify science and create a nonsense modernist morality based on rehashed puritanism. Simply read this from the statement of Aims and Principles of the American Atheists:

Materialism restores dignity and intellectual integrity to humanity. It teaches that we must prize our life on earth and strive always to improve it. It holds that human beings are capable of creating a social system based on reason and justice. Materialism’s “faith” is in humankind and their ability to transform the world culture by their own efforts.

Their positivism has so mutilated their mind and soul that they look at nothing and create a religious faith of it while decrying religion and faith. They need myth, they need Truth, but have none, so they have to make up blatantly self-refuting falsehoods to succor themselves. How could any mind not raped by modernism possibly “think” ‘I am nothing but an accident of material laws, therefore my life is to be prized’?

They deify themselves, they deify science, they deify ‘reason’, they deify humanity, because they have are broken creatures needing Truth, searching for Truth, in a system that denies the existence of Truth. It’s inhuman.

Don’t let yourself be pwned by modernity and positivism. Reject creationism; reject vulgar atheism; reject positivism; reject modernism.