I recommend Angel Millar’s article on Strength, Spirituality, and Masculinity against Materialism at his People of Shambhala website. Millar argues that modern men have largely relinquished spirituality, ceding it by default to women who have, naturally, feminized and caricatured it.
I am humbled and pleased that the editors of The New York Review of Science Fiction have given the feature position to my article on William Olaf Stapledon, “Contact, Communion, and the Marriage of Minds,” in the latest number of their publication. “Contact” is the much-edited version of the talk that I gave last July at “Doxacon,” a colloquium on the crossroads of science fiction and religion. I believe that the essay will be of interest to readers of The Orthosphere. Stapledon was a greatly conflicted thinker, tempted by atheism, but unable to shake his profound intuition that the universe is not reducible to matter and the void; that existence has a divine ground. His fiction and non-fiction alike address the issue. I try to put Stapledon, as the subtitle of the essay puts it, “in context.” The context is the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, which I interpret as, partly, a religious displacement.
I offer an extract below –
Once the investigator grasps Flammarion and Lowell, along with the whole of late-Romantic plurality discourse, in this way [as a vestige of Medieval cosmology,] much of the peculiarity in their exposition begins to make sense. When Flammarion seems to adhere to a Darwinian vocabulary, making free use of the term evolution, he never means what Darwin or Darwin’s materialist followers meant by the term. On the contrary, the evolution that concerns Flammarion is that of mind, which he regards as the self-articulation at the microcosmic level of the macrocosmic consciousness – Dieu dans la Nature. In a Times story for 10 November 1910, Flammarion told the reporter, “I believe there are denizens on Mars, and that they are superior to us.” Flammarion opines that the Martians “ought to resemble [what humanity] will be several million years hence, inasmuch as Mars is a much older planet than the earth.” Flammarion believes that the Martians have made several attempts to communicate with humanity, the first one “hundreds of thousands of years ago” and the last one “a few thousand years ago.”
Lowell, who knew Flammarion, writes in the same vein. In his three-part Atlantic article from the summer of 1895 (June, July, August), he argues that the phenomenon of the canals “points to a highly intelligent mind behind it.” Martian sentience must take the form of “a mind… of considerably more comprehensiveness” than the human. Such things as “party politics,” Lowell insists, “have had no part” in the elaboration of the system of planetary irrigation – the canals whose courses Lowell had so painstakingly mapped.
According to Lowell, the very study of Mars exerts a spiritually transforming effect on him who undertakes it. He learns to “look at things from a standpoint raised above our local point of view,” to “free our minds at least from the shackles that of necessity tether our bodies,” and to “recognize the possibility of others in the same light that we do the certainty of ourselves.” As Lowell writes in Mars as the Abode of Life, “Turning to Mars with quickened sense, we witness an astounding thing,” a globe “where life at the present moment would likely be of a high order.”In the plurality discourse of the fin-de-siècle, then, the reader will detect the stubborn persistence of a cosmological view that actual modern science tells us is an outmoded and distinctly unscientific way of comprehending the celestial universe. This late-Medieval way of thinking cosmologically sees the universe as creation; it sees the heavens as instinct with symbolic significance, pervaded by mind in the form of the plural, extraterrestrial humanities, and as responsive – at least potentially – to the effort, not only to establish contact with those humanities, but to come into communion with the sum and total of their shared consciousness.
Imagine that, after having made a thorough study of the issue, you have been convinced that anthropogenic global warming is real and that its effects will be catastrophic for humans. However, in your studies, you have also come to treasure the scientific enterprise. You realize that coercion is utterly incompatible with the spirit of free enquiry on which science rests, and since government by its very nature involves coercion, you think it important for the purity of science to maintain a Separation of Science and State. Although you are convinced that global warming is real, man-made, and dangerous, you realize that people of good will disagree with you, and you decide it would be wrong to impose your beliefs on them. Therefore, you decide that the government should design policy according to what you are convinced is the dangerously false belief that carbon emissions are not a worry, and to avoid any taint of Science-State collusion, the entire subject of the greenhouse effect and the evidence for it should be concealed in public schools. If climatologists want their children to be brought up differently, they can send them to private schools. You defend this position of government ignoring the whole issue of global warming as one of “neutrality” between those who think it something urgent to counter and those who think it unreal or unimportant.
This is the position of a Christian who supports the Western ideal of “separation of Church and State”. Don’t doubt that basing education and policy on false moral and religious beliefs (promoting sin and impiety) will have grave consequences for millions of souls. And don’t imagine that there is anything neutral about established atheism.
And so, probably, do you. I learned this from Rebecca Searles of the Huffington Post, who recently claimed that you are entitled to call yourself a feminist if and only if your answer to the question, “Do you believe men and women should have equal rights and opportunities?” is “Yes.” Furthermore, says Ms. Searles, if you answer “No,” “you probably suck as a person.” Continue reading
Several recent news stories indicate a certain impatience among Conservative Catholics. Perhaps they are signalling that they are not going to be quite as quiescent for this Pope as they were for Paul VI.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the radical traditionalist SSPX, gave a homily recently in English in which he criticized Pope Francis quite harshly. He accused the Pope of being a modernist, of making the situation in the Church 10,000 times worse, and of dividing the Church. Strangely, the Vatican apparently felt the need to respond to these criticisms. Cardinal Pell, a ConservaCath member of Pope Francis’s new-fangled privy council, got the job and said: Continue reading
My good friend-and-colleague at SUNY Oswego, Richard Cocks, who teaches on the Philosophy Faculty, has a discussion of the contradictoriness of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Existentialism at Angel Millar’s always-provocative People of Shambhala website. The article is succinct. I strongly recommend it to aficionados of The Orthosphere. The article is entitled “Nietzsche: Allure and Misunderstanding on the Left and Right.”
Here is a sample:
The saint of acceptance tries to accept everything as a consequence of unconditional love. But when he tries to accept Nature, he finds endless death and no mercy. Better and worse. Strong and weak. Out of love and compassion he will send the weak to the gas chambers and deny their pleas for help because in not accepting their fate, the weak are rejecting LIFE. They must be shown the light. Those who seek to protect the weak are the naysayers.
My article on ancient atomism appears at Angel Millar’s People of Shambhala website. In particular, I undertake a reading of Lucretius’s great poem On the Nature of Things, a strange mixture of bold speculation that anticipates modern physics and cosmology more interesting perhaps for its fairly concerted critique of sacrificial religion. I offer a sample –
Posterity knows only a little about Lucretius and much of what it knows it gleans from autobiographical references in his poem. The poem itself is paradoxical. Alleging to explicate, for the sake of a potential recruit, the scientific truths discovered by Epicurus, the truths that will redeem life for the one who accepts them, On the Nature of Things couches itself in the language of insistent evangelism, making of its intellectual hero, as George Santayana noted in his study of Lucretius in Three Philosophical Poets, a secular saint. The poem attests a powerful experience on the part of its author, which can only be described as spiritual conversion, which he then wishes to foster in another. Already in the generation just after Epicurus, his followers acquired the habit of referring to him under the honorific of soter or “savior,” an etiquette that imitated in turn a propaganda device of Alexander’s successors, the Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasts. Lucretius, whose time and place knew the afflictions of political breakdown, picks up this thus slightly tainted habit.
Is it just me, or nowadays is every other writer at First Things a self-professed “gay Christian”? Not that I object to people who are fighting different temptations than mine, but it does warp the magazine’s perspective on the great battle of our age. One would think that all this fighting over same-sex “marriage” was motivated by concern one way or another about how sodomites organize their lives–about making them happy, regularizing their dalliances, or saving them from mortal sin. No, this is a battle over the meaning of all the existing heterosexual marriages, a fight to defend the patriarchal family and with it the sex roles that give our lives grace and nobility. What is most missing from our spokesmen is not a vision of how celibate homosexuals can avoid loneliness, but an honest statement of what marriage should be: of indissolvability, of masculine and feminine roles properly embraced, of male headship. Get that straight, and it will be obvious to anyone that such an institution is necessarily heterosexual. Of course, we won’t hear this from any conservative publication or even from Rome itself, even though all of it is clearly and definitively laid out in sacred Scripture. They begin the argument already fatally compromised.
That’s not the subject of this post, but as you’ll see, it’s related.
When I discovered First Things a decade ago, it was a tremendous consolation to me. It was the first intellectually serious, unapologetically orthodox and conservative Christian publication I had found. To this day, when I imagine what an ideal conservative magazine would be, I think of First Things as it seemed to me when I first encountered it. Here were historians, theologians, philosophers, and political scientists taking the Church’s side against the world, rather than scolding the Church and apologizing to the world for Her inexcusable failure to get with the program.
At the center of it all was Richard John Neuhaus, who brought something indispensable to the whole endeavor.
Quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children . . . foster human flourishing and they improve our economic productivity in the process. There is no trade-off between equity and efficiency, as there is for other social programs. Early investment in the lives of disadvantaged children will help reduce inequality, in both the short and the long run.
The early childhood interventions he favors involve government and quasi-government employees visiting poor people’s homes; giving parents advice, encouragement, and parenting classes; putting children in special “enriched” daycare; and etc. These interventions are to start at birth.
Much could be said about these ideas. The evidence for their effectiveness is substantively weak, and they are sure to have unintended consequences. Furthermore, they are a foreshadowing of the liberal order’s intent to continue its advance into domains previously reserved to parents. And there is something off-putting about an economist claiming a program has “no trade-off.”
One thing is for sure, though. There is an elite push for this kind of program. None of Heckman’s many other ideas during his long and impressive career generated the kind of buzz this one is generating. Taking for granted that the proposed program will not work, what is the elite’s motivation in putting it forward? Why are we going to do it? Continue reading
“No religion in politics” means “no religion in right-wing politics.”
If a shoddily interpreted saying of Christ can be marshalled to support socialism, sodomy, or sacrilege, the “no religion in politics” crowd will be the first to jump on the bandwagon.