God of the Philosophers : God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob :: Map : Territory.
In no other system of government might a libertarian so enjoy the satisfaction of his principles, as in that of a sagacious king.
The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men’s weapons,
the more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever people are,
The more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.
Therefore the sage says:
I take no action and people are reformed.
I enjoy peace and people become honest.
I do nothing and people become rich.
I have no desires and people return to the good and simple life.
- Tao Te Ching 57
The stripline is a technique from fishing that has been adapted to sales – making it doubly appropriate for evangelists.
Anyone who has for very long been a conservative – let alone a reactionary – will find himself from time to time buffeted about by some acquaintance who is in the grip of a physiological syndrome endemic among liberals:
Rebellion → dysfunction → weakness → fear → anger → hate → dysfunction …
As it happens, my family and I have over the last few days been weathering a barrage of slings and arrows hurled by a few outraged liberals, on account of our extremely mild but public utterances of ritually impure ruminations on the latest waves of innovation in public policy. It’s painful, and above all tiresome. But one grows accustomed to it, over time. Until the Great Awakening, there will be no alternative.
This won’t be the last turn of the worm, to be sure; but it is hard to see how he could twist himself up any further than this, without brasting all to flinders.
My wife and I were exploring Sonoma County this last weekend. It is a beautiful, hilly, forested redoubt, a difficult hour and a half north of San Francisco, and so spared the downside of American urban life, while at the same time blessed with abundant good cheeses, markets, restaurants, chocolates, beer, and the like – wines, too, of course, with gorgeous world-class vinyards on every side – and most importantly for yours truly, good coffee. We stopped at my favorite chain, Peets Coffee of Berkeley (Alfred Peet is the fellow who started the North American coffee craze with a little store in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, about forty years ago), with their glorious oaky smoky dark roasts, as dense and roborative as beef. My wife stopped in to the restroom, and returned with this photo:
Your Orthospherean correspondent from the front lines of the culture wars – the San Francisco Bay Area, where the bleeding edge of Progress works its way relentlessly into the drugged and comatose body politic of the West – was riding an elevator down to the street last evening when he witnessed a short indicative conversation. Two colleagues of some other firm boarded the car, chit-chatting: a man of late middle years, conservatively dressed (for San Francisco – i.e., actually wearing clothes, that were clean, and tidy, and newish, and identifiably masculine), and a pretty, portly young woman dressed in painter’s jeans and a polo shirt (also conservative by SF standards). With only a few facial piercings, she was clearly not a transgressive type.
“… so your wife is OK with that,” says he, “… is ‘wife’ the right word?” You could hear the edge of anxiety in his voice; perhaps he had committed a fatal faux pas.
“Sure is,” she responded cheerfully, “it’s all legal now. We even have a certificate to prove it. It was funny: when we went down to apply for the license, we had to swear we weren’t related.”
“Ah!” says he, visibly relieved at his narrow escape from Othering, “always good to be sure you weren’t marrying your cousin!”
They both chuckled. As did your correspondent, a moment later, walking to the train, shaking his head at the absurdity of it all. It can’t be long, of course, before the alert bureaucrats of San Francisco are taught to realize that, gay “marriage” being legal, the question about pre-existing familiar relations between proposed spouses is irrelevant, if not downright discriminatory. Why should the forms of the law presume that reproduction is at all associated with marriage? It is not, any more. So all such questions – sex, age and number of the spouses, “religious preference,” whatever – are a waste of time, and an invasion of privacy too. Would the City have denied a marriage license to two lesbians if they were indeed cousins, or sisters, or mother and daughter? Had they tried, there would have been massive demonstrations by tens of braying protesters, heavily covered by the international media, and the bureaucrats would instantly have mended their ways.
The logic of this thing is adamantine.
In a conversation with several other Christians, someone mentioned some atheists who are declaring themselves de-baptized. They have a hokey ceremony incorporating a hair-dryer, and witnesses, and a celebrant: the whole nine yards.
It can’t be done, of course, any more than pigs could fly. Once baptized, always baptized.
A young Evangelical in the company responded, “You gotta wonder: if they are really atheists, *why do they care*?” We all exploded in laughter. Someone else said, “It just goes to show you that despite what they say about baptism being meaningless superstition, in their hearts they don’t really believe it is.”
You can’t rebel against something you know does not exist.
The sacrificial victim consecrated to the god of any cult must always be pure, clean, unblemished, the first, best fruits of the harvest. Nothing less will do; anything less would be unworthy, an insult. This is why the firstborn was sacrificed, or the king, or children, or virgins, or captured enemy soldiers who, like an innocent animal, were not sullied by any of the sins of their captors.
In ancient Judah, two goats were needed for the most important sacrifice of the year, on the Day of Atonement, because one of them had to take all the sins of the people to itself and be driven out of the City – this was the scapegoat – to cleanse the City and her people in preparation for the rite, so as to prevent any pollution of the sacrifice of the other pure and unblemished goat. As the goat sacrificed to YHWH had to be ritually clean, so did all the ministers of the sacrifice: the people themselves, the priests, and the High Priest. So before the sacrifice of the goat to YHWH, the sins of the people had to be laid upon the scapegoat, and he driven beyond the firmament of the City’s pale to the desert waste where demons had sway over chaos and desolation. In practice, the scapegoat was driven over a cliff of Mount Azazel, the high place in the Judean desert that was the house and temple of the demon Azazel and his coterie (as Olympos was the mountain house of Zeus, and Zion the mountain house of Melchizedek, the Mighty Righteous – YHWH).
The scapegoat was a sacrifice “for Azazel.” If the scapegoat had not assumed the sins of the people, then they themselves would have been “for Azazel” – for, no man can serve two masters. The ritually impure are doomed to be given to Azazel at the Last Judgement. These are they who have not by then been washed of their sins in the blood of the Lamb.
For the most part, my posts here at the Orthosphere fall into two categories: current affairs on the one hand – politics, economics, public policy, the culture wars, etc. – and on the other philosophical theology. It is not surprising that our site statistics show the latter sort of posts are generally far less popular and interesting to visitors than the former. Only one of my philosophical posts makes it into the top thirty that I have published since the Orthosphere began. It is The Holy Trinity: A Simple Explanation for Children. Though it is fairly recent, it is the fourth most visited post I have published; every day it gets at least a few hits from Google searches, so it is likely to keep rising in the rankings.
Why is that? Why does the Trinity matter to people?
I mean, sure, it’s hard to explain the Trinity, especially to kids, and kids have questions, so there must be lots of Christian parents searching for a good explanation on any given day. But this raises a set of deeper questions. If the Trinity is so hard to explain, why did the Fathers make it so central to the Faith? Why do the creeds take their structures from the Persons of the Trinity? And, what is so important about creeds in the first place? Why can’t we dispense with these troublesome, incomprehensible formulae, and just love God and each other? And, for Heaven’s sake, why should a profession of adherence to the Nicene Creed – it began and remains the baptismal vow – be the threshold and test of Christian faith?