Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Abolition of Man

abolition_of_man_791

Men without Chests:

Lewis has a bone to pick with some modern educators. With British politeness and civility he sets out to destroy their arguments. What’s the trouble? These English teachers are spreading a philosophy that removes moral law. Someone isn’t truly “bad” for example, badness is the feeling that I have happened to attach to them because that is how their actions have made me feel. In the end these teachers create a world that is just facts without actual value and feelings without actual truth. Things are as they are, and feelings are what they are and that’s it, there can be no actual rightness or wrongness attached. He calls the “intellectuals” who attempt to dismiss moral law as “men without chests”. The reason of the mind remains, and the instinct of the gut remains, but the chest, the heart, the rightness and wrongness that makes a man and gives him courage is gone. Lewis calls this state a tragic-comedy as modern man continues to clamour for the very qualities they have rendered impossible.

The Tao:

Lewis argues that a moral law exists, just like natural law, it has existed forever in every culture, he refers to it as the “Tao” of course within the Tao there is lots of debate over which and how these moral absolutes fit in individual cultures and whether or not there is a deity connected, but outside the Tao there is no ground for criticism of it. You can’t “righteously” lob grenades at the idea of Tao, from a position outside of it. To make moral judgements against the system that allows you to make moral judgements while at the same time standing outside of it is utterly self contradictory. Lewis rejects the “innovators” who attempt to debunk the concept of absolute morality. It simply cannot be done, for example, care of offspring, is both instinctual and rational, therefore there is no need, say the innovators, to say that this kind of care is the “right” thing to do. Lewis is extremely dubious of our instincts being our moral guide and equally so our reason. When it comes to inventing new sources for value Lewis says: 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 to move in. For Lewis, This Tao we must treat as an absolute phenomenon like any other, and leave off this nonsense that it doesn’t exist.

The Abolition of Man: 

Lewis says “When “it is good” has been debunked, only what says ‘I want’ remains…I am very doubtful whether history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently.”

Man seeks to dominate nature by figuring everything out. We can see through things to the real thing which is raw nature, purely natural explanations for everything. The trouble is when man chooses to treat himself purely as raw material, raw material he will be. Lewis’ concern is that in our efforts to conquer nature, we ourselves become conquered by nature. We just become stuff, and the strong and smarter stuff wins, and what harm is there in that? Outside the Tao, nothing.

Lewis, who was eminently qualified leads us on a fascinating bit of history. It was not as some have said that the magic of the middle ages was replaced by the applied science of later centuries. Lewis argues that magic and applied science are twins. The middle ages knew relatively little magic, they were concerned more about gaining knowledge (mind), practicing virtue (strengthening the heart) & discipline. (controlling the instinct) In the 16th and 17th centuries men began to seek for ways to subdue reality in order to do as they wished. Magic failed, and died off, because it doesn’t work at subduing nature, but science lived on and thrived, of course, the good scientists were searching for truth before power, but the motive for science was contaminated from the start. When the Tao is reduced to a natural product, the cost to humanity becomes very heavy. If truth/morality is not actually a thing,  a reality, it will always just be manipulated by games players who want control.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

I’m about 20 years behind the times, but I finally got round to reading Harry Potter. Sadly I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. I know, I know, the stats are mind blowing, Harry is immensely popular, so maybe my expectations were unnaturally high.

I saw the book as a very average story with nothing to inspire me to greatness or challenge me in anyway. It did stoke my imagination some what but I was not captured by the story. I found myself having to endure parts of it.

This book is the adventures of rude, selfish, sarcastic, disrespectful, disobedient kids. Harry does have courage however, i’ll give him that. Nietzsche shows up in Voldemort when he says there is no right, no wrong, only power. This belief was the justification for his evil actions and it felt like everyone in the story was stepping to that tune more or less, that is, until the end. In the end Voldemort was not able to defeat Harry because true love is much stronger then any Nietzschein’ will to power idea. Thank God! So of course I loved that part of the story because it reminded me of the greatest love story of all time.

If there was a story about Harry’s mom and dad I might be interested in reading that. Throughout the book we got little snippets of their life. We learned that Harry’s dad willingly risked his life for his enemy Snape, this selfless, counter intuitive, counter cultural act bound Snape, I think, to stay on the path of love (that’s being very generous) instead of descending into the Nietzschien’ pit. We learned in fragmented fashion that Harry’s father and mother regularly battled evil, ultimately giving up their lives so that the weak (their infant child) might survive. Redemptive themes are the language of my heart, so I definitely appreciated that. Upon conclusion of Harry Potter I read the great classic Treasure Island, now that is a story that I couldn’t put down. Harry is a mere sapling next to the towering Red Wood that is Treasure Island.

Bury My Heart at Wound Knee

BuryMyHeart-740089

“the nations’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no centre any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.” — Black Elk

Between 1860-1890 the Indians of the United States of America were crushed.

What happened? by 1860 there were a few hundred thousand Indians roaming freely, at that same time over 30,000,000 whites had flooded into the United States, in just 30 years that number skyrocketed to 90,000,000. White people were coming to this new world in mind blowing droves, for a chance at freedom and an opportunity to make a better way for themselves. The white mans way was to settle down and harvest resources in order to become rich. Animals, minerals, land, and lumber, there was so much and it was just there for the taking the white people believed. But then there were those pesky Indians, they spoke a different language, they were “uncivilized” they were nomadic hunter/gatherer people, they just didn’t fit in.

So what do you do? The whites were largely of Christian heritage so exterminating them was not an option. But neither was “move back to Europe” an option. So the only logical solution was to make a deal with the Indians. In the end it wasn’t much of a deal. It was more a terms of surrender. — We are coming, we are taking over your land and eliminating your way of life. However, we will give you food to survive, and land to live on.  If you don’t agree to these arrangements we will hunt you down and kill you.

Whites are Superior — Many whites just simply made the assumption that indians were “less human”. After all whites were far more advanced in so many ways. The court report of one particular case in which two indians were hanged reveals this terrible imbalance of value. “We would never condemn a white man on such scant and insufficient evidence, however we trust we got the right ones and that justice was served.”  Colonel Chivington in a public speech in Denver affirmed the right to kill Indians even infants, by his notorious comment “Nits make lice!”

Manifest Destiny — Many whites, felt a bit uneasy about their treatment of Indians, and so they needed a grand justification for their actions of conquest. They found it in “Manifest Destiny” – The superior light of technology, learning, and the American way of government, politics, cities, farms and production was the enlightened path, it was therefore both necessary and justifiable to advance this righteous path westward at whatever cost.

Indians are people too — In 1874 a sympathetic general, teamed up with a straight shooting judge to help Indian Chief Standing Bear. Hi people were one of the few Indians tribes that were farmers, even though they were peaceful, open to Christianity, and had relatively little land they were shoved off of it and warehoused in a reservation hundreds of miles away. The judge concluded that “Indians were people too, and if they wanted to live peaceable somewhere like Americans they should have the right to” Standing Bear and his people, remarkably, were able to move back to their land.

Corruption — The reservation system proved to be incredibly lucrative for the ring of politicians & businessmen responsible for it. They were able to help themselves regularly to all that was designated for the indians, and since there was no accountability and the indians had no voice, they became rich while the indians suffered terribly on the reservations. This ring viewed the above court case as a direct threat to the reservation system, (and their personal wealth) so they worked tirelessly to discredit the ruling and make sure that the legal system remained squarely on the side of the whites.

Indians happy to kill each other — Tribal divisions had existed for centuries, many of the tribes were mortal enemies of one another. For many they preferred to work with willing White people to eradicate their tribal enemies. The Whites were only happy to oblige.

Breaking Promises — Lots of the promises to the Indians were made in good faith, and many of those promises in the early years gave the indians vast tracts of good hunting land. Its just that no one could have predicted the vast horde of white people that moved to America in the 19th century, and then there was the discovery of gold, and then the need to connect the east with the west, and then the need to farm to support the ever burgeoning white population. In the public eye it was no longer reasonable for 3,000 Souix to inhabit 25 million acres. When millions upon millions of whites were heading west intent to settle on the best possible land. So promises were broken. For most whites these broken promises were shrugged off — the situation had changed. Many Indians went to war over these broken promises, but they had no chance of winning against better equipped whites. — they mostly waged gorilla type war fare, and had small successes here and there, but bow’s and arrows can’t match the power of repeating rifles.

Media — America wanted a story, the media gave them one. A sensational story of savage scalp happy Indians disemboweling hard working honest settlers. Who cares about truth when you can sell a story, and this one sold. The great tragedy was these stories of mixed truth whipped up a fury of hatred and violence against all Indians. “The only good Indian is a dead indian” was the quote that rang through the news media, straight from lips of a general from the West, and so it was believed.

If all men white and red could have been treated with dignity and honour, if all manner of corruption could have been removed from the situation and if promises could have been honoured and true team work embraced when things got complicated do to the vast influx of whites, this story would have had a lot less tears attached to it.

Let faith be born in the watchers

Italian Baroque Painting of the Killing of Abel and the Banishment of Cain --- Image by © Geoffrey Clements/CORBIS  ORG XMIT: 12873731

Italian Baroque Painting of the Killing of Abel and the Banishment of Cain — Image by © Geoffrey Clements/CORBIS ORG XMIT: 12873731

Hebrews 11:1-4 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. 

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

Faith is the thing that keeps me sure that what I can’t see is actually true. The heart of faith comes in the knowing that God started everything, that he exists, and that he rewards those who seek him.

Faith was the M.O. of all our great hero’s starting with Able. By faith Abel’s sacrifice was offered and accepted. Abel’s faith in God makes all the difference. As Abel offers his sacrifice he is thinking, “I know God see’s this and hears this, I love God and I’m offering up the best I have to him.” God smiles.

Rewind all the way to Genesis 4. God speaks neither to Cain nor Abel at first. But for some reason, unknown to us, they both offer sacrifices.

Cain was the 1st to offer sacrifice. But he had no faith, if he had no faith why did he do it? Maybe it occurred to him that he might be able to manipulate God, impress others, improve his status? Attempting to use God as a means to an end has been an all to common fault of religion. In Jude 11 we find Cain listed with people known for their attempts to manipulate God and gain power. (Balaam, & Korah)

What is amazing to me is we have no record that God ever spoke to Abel, he simply trusted in his unseen God, he knew in his heart that he was accepted. On the other hand God had a full on conversation with Cain after his failed sacrifice. Even a “face to face” with God Almighty didn’t re-orient Cain on to the path of saving faith. Cain was for Cain and that was that. He believed in himself first of all. God could be a nice accoutrement, a convenient “side order” if you like, but Cain was his own main dish.

Faith says God is the creator not me. The possessor of faith willingly bows his knee to the unseen God. Cain wasn’t interested in that even if he heard the creators voice directly. And so it goes with many today, no amount of evidence will convince them that God exists. So what then? I think we should just keep doing what Able did. Give ourselves up to God in worship, by living righteously in the everyday (I John 3:12) and by worshipping God together. Let faith be born in the watchers.