coromandal


a hangman’s metaphysics

Being responsible and accountable is a good thing, right?  Nietzsche says it is sought by people who want to punish and judge. Those who want to punish make requirements for accountability / will.

People are described – by authorities and priests – as free so that their intention and will are fully transparent, conscious and traceable so that blame and guilt can be easily assigned.

In growing into ‘being’ the filter of will and accountability is added by moralists which makes a world infected by guilt and punishment. The goal of the immoralist is to rid the world of guilt and punishment by removing the requirement for accountability and will.

The lesson?: beware the tricks of rule makers and moralists, especially the manipulation of the concept that people are free which really means that people are free to be guilty.

Here is Nietzsche:

We no longer have any sympathy today with the concept of “free will.” We know only too well what it is—the most infamous of all the arts of the theologian for making mankind “accountable” in his sense of the word, that is to say for making mankind dependent on him…. I give here only the psychology of making men accountable. Everywhere accountability is sought, it is usually the instinct for punishing and judging which seeks it. One has deprived becoming of its innocence if being in this or that state is traced back to will, to intentions, to accountable acts: the doctrine of will has been invented essentially for the purpose of punishment, that is of finding guilty. The whole of the old-style psychology, the psychology of will, has as its precondition the desire of its authors—the priests at the head of the ancient communities—to create for themselves a right to ordain punishments, or their desire to create for God a right to do so…. Men were thought of as “free” so that they could become guilty; consequently, every action had to be thought of as willed, the origin of every action as lying in the consciousness (whereby the most fundamental falsification in psychologicis was made into the very principle of psychology)…. Today, when we have started to move in the reverse direction, when we immoralists especially are trying with all our might to remove the concept of guilt and the concept of punishment from the world and to purge psychology, history, nature, the social institutions, and sanctions of them, there is in our eyes no more radical opposition than that of the theologians, who continue to infect the innocence of becoming with “punishment” and “guilt” by means of the concept of the “moral world order.” Christianity is a hangman’s metaphysics.

FREDERICK NIETZSCHE Twilight of the Idols, 1889



when God’s not looking

Here is a description of bait and switch on the macro scale.  The worshipers of Dionysus experienced ecstasy – a feeling of communion and immortality – through rites of wine and dancing.  One can argue – as this author does – that this joyful rite was replaced in the Middle Ages with the relatively sober Christian rite of the eucharist.  The church tamed – neutered? – the rite of communion with God and drove drinking and celebration out into the secular world.

Through secularization, the potential for ecstasy was dialed back drastically and the sacred act of ecstasy became mere drunkenness and fights.

What would it take to reinduct a sense of the sacred into the art of drinking heavily?  In our current mindset, a drunk drinks to forget.  To drink alone is taboo.  Drink is measured out, like pills at a pharmacy table:  more than one or two and we have a word for people like you. In the pre Medieval view, on the other hand, a woman drank to commune with god and to feel her immortality.

Here is Ehrenreich:

Inevitably, something was lost in the transition from ecstatic ritual to secularized festivities — something we might call meaning or transcendent insight.  In ancient Dionysian forms of worship the moment of maximum “madness” and revelry was also the sacred climax of the rite at which the individual achieved communion with the divinity and a glimpse of personal immortality.  Medieval Christianity, in contrast, offered “communion” in the form of a morsel of bread and sip of wine soberly consumed at the altar — and usually saw only devilry in the festivities that followed.  True, the entire late medieval calendar of festivities was to some degree sanctioned by the Church, but the uplifting religious experience, if any was supposed to be found within the Church-controlled rites of mass and procession not within the drinking and dancing.  While ancient worshippers of Dionysus expected the god to manifest himself when the music reached an irresistible tempo and the wine was flowing freely, medieval Christians could only hope that God, or at least his earthly representatives, was looking the other way when the flutes and drums came out and the tankards were passed around.

The result of the Church’s distancing itself from the festivities that marked its own holidays was a certain “secularization” of communal pleasure.

[…]

Without a built-in religious climax to the celebrations — the achievement, for example, of a trancelike state of unity with the divinity — they readily spilled over into brawling and insensate drunkenness.

Dancing in the Streets: A History of Public Joy, Barbara Ehrenreich, p 93.



stateless and nationless

More unvarnished critique of the American religion from an interview with the British academic Terry Eagleton. I think the best definition of vanity, from the point of view of Christianity, is to use scripture to cover for your largely errant belief system.  I’m using child labour; let me stress this passage on talents.  In fact let me move the talents passage to the heart of what I believe, and conveniently forget the rest.  It would also be useful and soothing to work in my nationality and its state of blessedness over all other people.  That way consequence is diminished as I do whatever I want.  Easy peasy.

Eagleton, in a mini jeremiad, says God won’t be used that way.  He won’t let you use his name in that manner.  He won’t let you take it and use it in vain for your vanity.  From the interview —

NS: Though of course the Christianity you present doesn’t sound like a lot of the Christianity one hears in the public sphere, especially in the United States.

TE: I think partly that’s because a lot the authentic meanings of the New Testament have become ideologized or mythologized away. Religion has become a very comfortable ideology for a dollar-worshipping culture. The scandal of the New Testament—the fact that it backs what America calls the losers, that it thinks the dispossessed will inherit the kingdom of God before the respectable bourgeois—all of that has been replaced, particularly in the States, by an idolatrous version. I’m presently at a university campus where we proudly proclaim the slogan “God, Country, and Notre Dame.” I think they have to be told, and indeed I have told them, that God actually takes little interest in countries. Yahweh is presented in the Jewish Bible as stateless and nationless. He can’t be used as a totem or fetish in that way. He slips out of your grasp if you try to do so. His concern is with universal humanity, not with one particular section of it. Such ideologies make it very hard to get a traditional version of Christianity across.

–Religion for Radicals: An Interview with Terry Eagleton, Nathan Schneider, The Immanent Frame

resources:

author: Terry Eagleton

interview:  Religion for Radicals: An Interview with Terry Eagleton

website: The Immanent Frame



pilgrim’s progress john bunyan
February 27, 2010, 4:33 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , ,

From the maps:

A PLAN of the ROAD from the CITY OF DESTRUCTION to the CELESTIAL CITY.

Highlights on the way:

CITY OF DESTRUCTION

SLOUGH OF DESPOND

MOUNT CALVARY

HILL OF CRUELTY (?)

VALLEY OF HUMILIATION

VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH

VANITY FAIR

PLAIN CALLED EASE

VINEYARDS

RIVER OF DEATH

CELESTIAL CITY



if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you

Author Terry Eagleton takes to task Ditchkins – his name for the two headed beast:  Hitchens and Dawkins, who have been churning out books in support of atheism and reason and challenging the idea of God.  Eagleton illuminates Christian faith from a left perspective which serves to balance out all of the crapola about God that you get over here in this center right nation.  He talks about the blood and radicalism and necessary death of faith, and leaves out the riches and mansions:  Darwin is a child with a silly addicting dream, he says.  Without equivocation he tells us that to love is to live and if you really love, people will want to kill you.  Without equivocation, that this is the central truth.

The whole article is worth reading; here it is.

Here is the excerpt –

Jesus hung out with whores and social outcasts, was remarkably casual about sex, disapproved of the family (the suburban Dawkins is a trifle queasy about this), urged us to be laid-back about property and possessions, warned his followers that they too would die violently, and insisted that the truth kills and divides as well as liberates. He also cursed self-righteous prigs and deeply alarmed the ruling class.

The Christian faith holds that those who are able to look on the crucifixion and live, to accept that the traumatic truth of human history is a tortured body, might just have a chance of new life – but only by virtue of an unimaginable transformation in our currently dire condition. This is known as the resurrection. Those who don’t see this dreadful image of a mutilated innocent as the truth of history are likely to be devotees of that bright-eyed superstition known as infinite human progress, for which Dawkins is a full-blooded apologist. Or they might be well-intentioned reformers or social democrats, which from a Christian standpoint simply isn’t radical enough.

The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you. Here, then, is your pie in the sky and opium of the people. It was, of course, Marx who coined that last phrase; but Marx, who in the same passage describes religion as the ‘heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions’, was rather more judicious and dialectical in his judgment on it than the lunging, flailing, mispunching Dawkins.

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching, Terry Eagleton, The London Review of Books

resources:

author:  Terry Eagleton

essay: Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching,

journal: The London Review of Books



the narcissistic ties of blood
May 17, 2008, 1:04 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,


Ah, how I loathe the culture wars.  We are walking out of a battle field now, one on which the definitions of family were ravaged.  Here is a clearer view.

The prevailing orthodoxy claims that family is foundational to good society and living.  They emphasize blood lines and values and remove their kids from public schools.  It is a loving inward gaze.

The alternate view is that such self love can lead to territoriality and fear of the outsider. And it seems that when asked, most people believe that family values means looking beyond the family.  Maybe that’s what loving your neighbour is: that to really love, we must look past ourselves, our bloodlines, our tribe, and try to understand and love ‘other’ people.

Salon-The U.S. News article cited a 1997 poll in which 75 percent of 950 adults said moms with kids under 3 who work outside the home are threatening family values.

Coontz-You know these polls change from day to day depending on how they’re phrased. If you phrase the question, “Are women who work neglecting their kids?” the overwhelming majority will say no. In many cases, because it is the only vocabulary people have to express their concern, they’ll use the conservative term “family values,” but when you press people on what they mean by that, they’ll define it in a totally different way than the right wing does. The public defines it in terms of teaching your kids to look beyond the family. They define it in terms of reaching out to get involved in community activities. Whereas the right-wing definition of family values is extraordinarily narrow — even in terms of the history of Christianity. Christ was quite anti-family. He said that family bonds can interfere with your commitment to the larger Christian community. And the early evangelicals took pains to always talk about the Christian household, to indicate that you had to reach beyond the narrow, selfish ties of sexual attraction and the narcissistic ties of blood in order to look out for the larger community.

May 20, 1997, “Christ was quite anti-family”, STEPHANIE COONTZ ON THE WAY WE WEREN’T — AND ARE, Salon.com



chooseth me! chooseth me!
February 24, 2008, 7:07 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

Incredibly, the Puritans saw America as a saviour nation, and themselves as chosen by God.  What arose was a civil religion that with abandon mixed the mandate and machinations of the state with that of the church.  More breathtaking still to hear this same idea taken up by power brokers today to advance ridiculous and meddling policy.

“For Bellah and others, the deepest source of the American civil religion is the Puritan-derived notion of America as a New Israel, a covenanted people with a divine mandate to restore the purity of early apostolic church, and thus serve as a godly model for the restoration of the world. John Winthrop’s famous 1630 sermon to his fellow settlers of Massachusetts Bay, in which he envisioned their “plantation” as “city upon a hill,” is the locus classicus for this idea of American chosenness. It was only natural that inhabitants with such a strong sense of historical destiny would eventually come to see themselves and their nation as collective bearers of a world-historical mission. What is more surprising, however, was how persistent that self-understanding of America as the Redeemer Nation would prove to be, and how easily it incorporated the secular ideas of the Declaration of Independence and the language of liberty into its portfolio. The same mix of convictions can be found animating the rhetoric of the American Revolution, the vision of Manifest Destiny, the crusading sentiments of antebellum abolitionists, the benevolent imperialism of fin-de-siècle apostles of Christian civilization, and the fervent idealism of President Woodrow Wilson at the time of World War I. No one expressed the idea more directly, however, than Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana, who told the United States Senate, in the wake of the Spanish-American War, that “God has marked us as His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world.”

Wilfred M. McClay, The Soul of a Nation