Until then . . .
My brain has been running on fumes these past few days. In light of this, I have decided to take a short break from blogging. I plan to return in a week or so.
Until then . . .
Alexander Solzhenitsyn's voluminous and damning magnus opus The Gulag Archipelago essentially documents the existence and workings of a smaller prison system embedded within a larger prison system. The larger prison system was comprised of all the social, political, and economic infrastructure and policies that made up the Soviet Union, while the smaller prison system was made up of the various forced-labor camps housing those who had violated the social, political, and economic policies of the larger prison camp. Provable transgressions against the Soviet Union and the communist cause more or less guaranteed removal from the larger prison system of general society, but this by no means meant every incarcerated gulag prisoner had been guilty of a indictable offense. On the contrary, Soviet gulags often overflowed with innocent people who could not understand why they had been singled out from the general prison population of the state and subsequently sentenced to twenty-five years of hard labor.
Most citizens of the Soviet Union understood that they were fundamentally prisoners of a totalitarian state; and they were perpetually reminded of this reality through the steady diet of decrees, regulations, restrictions, shortages, bureaucracy, denouncements, and propaganda that burdened their day-to-day lives. Nevertheless, given the choice, I suspect all Soviet citizens would have chosen to remain in the larger prison system of Soviet society over the smaller prison system of the gulags. Living in Soviet society entailed a great degree humiliation and suffering - the gulag, on the other hand, was nothing but humiliation and suffering.
As oppressive and limiting as the Soviet Union was, it still contained small pockets of freedom and happiness. You could, theoretically at least, work in a vocation in which you demonstrated aptitude or talent. If you possessed athletic ability, there was a chance you could be recruited into one of the state's athletic programs. You could enjoy small pleasures like a walk in the park, and so forth. If you welcomed risk, you could still get your hands on banned books and novels or other forms of art. You could pray and read the Bible in the privacy of your own home. You could attempt to defect or escape to the West or some other part of the world.
If you happened to be arrested, all of that disappeared. Life in the smaller prison system of the gulags was harsh and bleak. Whatever freedom you could experience was generally restricted to the space in your heart and the space between your ears. Simply put, the difference between Soviet society and the gulag was the difference between near-total slavery and total slavery.
Earlier totalitarian regimes used concentration camps and gulags to maintain their power. The gulags served as a reminder - no matter how bad things became in society, it was infinitely better than being imprisoned in a forced labor camp. Thus, the social engineering the Soviets managed to achieve was underpinned by the threat of brute force and total enslavement.
Through their Great Reset Agenda, our current totalitarian technocrats are implementing a more insidious form of social engineering to fortify their black iron prison and enslave the world - a form of social engineering that will convince its global citizens to willingly relinquish their current state of near-total slavery in favor of total slavery, which is being packaged and sold as a 'safe and just space for humanity.'
Call me a pessimist, but I feel the Establishment has an excellent chance of pushing this agenda through.* For starters, hardly anyone realizes that a global totalitarian coup has already taken place. The change was so swift, dramatic, and comprehensive that even those who recognized what was unfolding could barely keep up with the pace of events, let alone mobilize or offer resistance against it. As for everyone else - well, most are still waiting for a return to normal. But there will be no return to normal. On the contrary, our global dictators are already feverishly framing the old 'normal' as both unsustainable and undesirable.
What they offer instead is a benevolently-sounding new normal - a more fair, sustainable, and resilient future founded upon a new social contract centered on social justice, economic equity, racial equality, and environmental protection. This new normal will require drastic 'lifestyle changes' and monumental shifts in human thinking and behavior from individuals and a complete reconceptualization of civilization from all the world's nations. Technology will be at the heart of this 'safe and just space for humanity', and will form the core of a microsurveillance social credit system through which citizens of the world will be rewarded for good behavior.
Unlike the Soviet Union, the Great Reset's 'safe and just space for humanity' will not require the brute force of a small prison system to exist because 'the safe and just space for humanity' will become a comprehensive and all-encompassing prison in of itself - the type of prison most will not even recognize as a prison. And even if people do recognize it as a prison, they will not wish to escape it for the simple reason that life outside the safe and just space will be regarded as infinitely worse. In this sense, the Establishment is working to flip the Soviet model on its head. Soviet citizens feared the gulag because they knew it would increase their suffering; modern citizens will be conditioned to believe suffering increases beyond the gulag.
Ignorance is what separates the vast majority of people today from citizens of the former Soviet Union. Most modern people do not realize or will not accept that they had been living in near total-slavery before the birdemic and are now inching toward a world of total slavery. On the contrary, many will welcome the 'safe and just space for humanity' the Establishment proposes as an opportunity for a better, safer life. I suspect the majority of the West will gladly surrender whatever small freedoms they possess for the promise a more resilient, secure, and equitable future.
The few who do resist will be forced into circumstances where resistance will not only be futile, but utterly unworkable. In the here and now it has become impossible to buy groceries in a shop unless you wear a mask (in most places in the West). Now imagine how impossible shopping for food becomes if you have been 'deactivated' from a digital currency system. Imagine that and you start to get a sense of the kinds of tricks our technocratic tyrants are capable of pulling.
I suspect most will never consider escaping the open air concentration camp the world has become for the simple reason that they like it, crave it, and want more of it. As for the rest of us, any thoughts of physical escape will likely be tempered by the rather cold and harsh reality of having nowhere to go.
Considering the above, the current and developing global totalitarianism appears to be far worse than the totalitarianism people had to endure in the Soviet Union. True, we have not experienced mass starvation and mass executions (yet), but we are slowly being deprived of the state of near-total slavery - what most people refer to as 'the normal' - that Soviet citizens managed to cling to even during the darkest days of Stalin's reign. This realization should alert us to the freedoms that cannot be stolen from us, and motivate us to cultivate and defend those freedoms with every ounce of our being.
* The Great Reset Agenda may fail for a variety of reasons. For example, the Establishment may push the economic meltdown they are currently orchestrating too far and, thereby, precipitate full-out system failure. Another possibility is a sudden upsurge of good within the otherwise evilly-motivated aparachicks that helped usher in the global coup. Collective armed resistance and mobilization against the agenda is a possibility, but is increasingly proving improbable. Collective spiritual, more specifically Christian, revival is another, albeit extremely faint, possible, but once again improbable, obstacle. In light of all of the above and given current circumstances, the odds for the reset agenda, or some similar agenda succeeding, are quite favorable.
This is not a film recommendation; I am merely sharing some thoughts.
I classify Mike Leigh's 1993 film Naked as one of those I hate liking. When I saw the film for the first time shortly after its release, I distinctly remember harboring a favorable impression of it as I was leaving the movie theater, but this acclamatory assessment was simultaneously tempered by a sense of deep revulsion. Though it was an odd sensation to experience, I was not at all surprised by this contradictory response. Though I enjoyed the brilliant acting, clever screenwriting, and effective cinematography, I was repulsed by the world Mike Leigh depicts in the film.
The nausea I experienced did not stem from any gratuitousness or insincerity on Leigh's part, but rather from an acknowledgement of the film's jolting and accurate depiction of contemporary nihilism, alienation, loneliness, and despair. The spiritual darkness and hopelessness Leigh presents is extremely cutting and relevant, and I suspect this underlying darkness and hopelessness has only grown darker and more hopeless in the twenty-seven years since the film's release.
Whether exposure to darkness can help guide one toward the light is questionable. At the same time, being oblivious to the spiritual murk that masquerades as modern society probably does more harm than good in terms of recognizing and remaining in the light. Of course, Leigh offers the viewer very little in the way of light in this film. Cinematographically, the vast majority of the scenes are draped in inky tones of night and shadow; and the daytimes scenes are burdened by diffused, oppressive grayness utterly unblessed by even the slightest ray of sunshine. The locations feel cramped and closed, creating a sense of physical and metaphysical claustrophobia - tight stairwells, narrow alleyways, decaying stretches of urban wasteland. Whatever slivers of metaphysical light manage to penetrate the shadows are quickly eclipsed by the shadows of hopelessness.
The characters themselves exist in a vicious world of predator and prey. Most appear lost and zombified. Grounded in crushing materialism, they are, nonetheless, completely disconnected from the physical places they refer to as homes; unaware and unattached to any of the objects surrounding them. All are starved for love and authentic human connection, yet their attempts to attain these ultimately makes them either victims or victimizers. Johnny, the Mancunian main character, rips through this depressing ensemble of soul-wounded characters like a hurricane. Intellectual and intense, this loquacious, failed-Romantic anti-hero possesses enough perspicacity to pierce through the lies and listlessness of the modern world, but his overreliance on his intellect ultimately leads him into a metaphysical dead end.
Convinced humanity is merely a stage in the evolutionary ladder toward the eventual appearance of form of theosis in the guise of pure, God-like consciousness, Johnny finds no meaning or purpose for contemporary human life outside of this evolutionary role. Put another way, humanity's sole purpose is to prepare the way for an eventual higher form of being - a higher form of being in which humanity's only creative role is to passively live out its own determined, physical existence until the coming of the apocalypse, which will usher in the beginning of the next stage of evolution toward pure consciousness.
The inherent hopelessness of these metaphysical assumptions bleed into the whole film and are reflected by every downcast, deprived, and derelict character Johnny encounters on his pseudo Odyssey around London. Of course, the very notion of metaphysical assumptions are beyond the scope of most of the people Johnny meets, with the only exception being Brian, the middle-aged security guard who grants Johnny a few hours of reprieve from the cold and damp London night. Working in what Johnny describes as 'the most tedious job in England', Brian guards an empty building and spends the majority of each night contemplating the future while the city around him sleeps. Convinced his life has meaning, and that this meaning resides somewhere in the future, Brian ultimately rejects the hopelessness Johnny describes in a memorable metaphysical tirade laced with conspiratorial flourishes.
Over breakfast at a café the following morning, Brian quietly gives Johnny the advice the younger man so sorely needs. Don't waste your life. The words fall on deaf ears, for as far as Johnny is concerned life is already a waste. Thinking a waste cannot be wasted amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking in his mind.
The scene below contains the metaphysical tirade mentioned above. As far as I'm concerned, it's an excellent scene, even if the message it presents is anything but.
Warning: The clip below contains a fair bit of swearing.
. . . there's no stopping it.
The line is from Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. It appears midway through Book One and refers to the black magic-induced chaos Woland and his devilish crew unleash upon the unsuspecting citizens of the Soviet Union. I've been picking away at a rereading of the novel for over a month now, and every time I pick the book up I can't help but draw parallels between the witchcraft contained within Bulgakov's pages and black magic I sense in our own contemporary world. It's not so much a similarity of events, but rather a similarity of essence. As is the case in Bulgakov's novel, the devilry that has started in our world grows more intense (and absurd) with each passing day.
For example, earlier this week we learned that the US economy shrank at 32.9% annual rate between April and June - the steepest decline since the US government began records of this in 1947. How steep is steep? Well, the second steepest decline, which happened in 1958, clocked in at a mere 10%. Despite this awful figure, US stock markets continue push toward record highs, with the Nasdaq making all time highs (if I'm not mistaken). It's good to know the several trillion dollars of stimulus the government pumped into the financial system via the Federal Reserve is being put to good use. Trillions. A trillion contains twelve zeros - a number so big it would take you 31,000 years to count the number out. Where is this money coming from? Where is it going? What is it doing?
That contemporary economics is voodoo should surprise no one, but the dark sorcery does not end there. It spills into nearly everything, and it shows no signs of stopping. On the contrary, it looks like the bulk of it is just getting started . . .
I spent a bit of time contemplating the nature of joy today and arrived at the following thoughts:
1. Christianity is a religion of joy. How could it not be? But the joy permeating Christianity extends well beyond the joy we experience during our transitory mortal lives.
2. Christians must not limit their experience and comprehension of joy to this world in much the same way they must not limit their experience and comprehension of life to this world. To do so would entail restriction and over-attachment to the joys of this world, nearly all of which are ephemeral. Over-attachment to temporal joys could perhaps even lead to the pursuit of hedonism and a subsequent weakening of Christian life.
3. Detachment from and denial of temporal joy is not the answer. Christians should embrace all worldly joys that are aligned with Divine Will and Creation, but they should do so from the perspective of love. In other words, allow themselves to 'enjoy' worldly joy as an unenduring blessing/experience. They should not try to trap, preserve, or cling to the blessing/experience, but grant it the freedom to live out its course. Doing so should provide a glimpse of the enduring joy of eternal life based in freedom.
As I finished thinking about these things, it quickly dawned on me that the thoughts were not my own (which is the case with about 99.7635% of my thoughts), but rather the reformulated lines of William Blake's short poem, Eternity:
He who binds himself to joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise
Nearly every school I worked in back in my high school teaching days had some form of mandatory uniform policy in effect; and nearly every student at every one of those schools made a point of violating the policy every chance he or she could. Ties were loosened or lost, shirts were wrinkled or untucked, school crest patches were vandalized or blotted out, skirts were hiked or cut along the sides, and inappropriate leggings or jewelry were worn. Though some of these infractions could be attributed to teenager slovenliness, most were the result of a quiet, premeditated, but glaringly obvious form of protest and rebellion against authority.
I see the same phenomenon in play here in western Hungary with the mandatory wearing of face masks. As is the case elsewhere, Hungarians are required to wear face masks every time they enter a public place or private business. This includes most stores, offices, and forms of public transport. Hungarians in this area technically abide by the face mask rules, but like the uniform-wearing high school students I used to teach, the vast majority of Hungarians here make an absolute mockery of the mandatory policy that has been forced upon them.
The illustration above offers a good visual representation of what I tend to encounter whenever I enter a grocery store. For every person who properly wears a mask there are five others doggedly making a mess of it. The most common purposive mask fail is the exposed nose, which is quite popular among the elderly and women. A lot of men - yours truly among them - opt for the 'mask the chin' look, which keeps the mask somewhat on the face while simultaneously keeping the appearance of machismo and toughness intact. The masking of the nose but leaving the mouth exposed is a hit among smokers and the loquacious. A great many employees within the stores are big fans of the 'mask hanging from my neck like a chain' style. If there is an improper way to wear a mask, you can bet your bottom dollar a Magyar will take advantage of it.
Though I'm sure this sort of mask semi-compliance/disobedience is universal to some degree, here in Hungary it has taken on a luster all its own. Improper mask wearing has become a sort of duty abiding by some unwritten code of honor. Yes, I have seen store employees and security guards scold others for not having masks, but I have yet to hear anyone criticize anyone else for improper mask wearing. Moreover, scornful looks tend to be reserved for those who have the audacity to wear a mask properly in public. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a nation full of surly, uniform-hating teenagers.
I occasionally wonder if this blatant form of pretending to follow the rules while simultaneously breaking them can be traced to the residual effects of communism. Then again, it might run much deeper than that. After all, Hungary has a long history of enduring and somehow surviving foreign occupations and totalitarian regimes. I have heard some refer to Hungary's history as 'a long tale of victory through defeat.' Maybe this is an example of that dynamic in action. Perhaps the quiet refusal of obedience I witness now with masks is something that has hardwired itself into the Magyar DNA over the millenia.
Who knows? Whatever the case, it's fun to see and experience even if it does nothing to nullify the reality of the successful global totalitarian coup under which we are all currently living.
So yesterday was my birthday, and here's the greeting I received from one of oldest and dearest friends.
Thanks, Tom! (No, that's not Tom in the video.)
"Utopias now appear much more realizable than one used to think. We are now faced with a different new worry: How to prevent their realization."
- Nikolai Berdyaev
Back in March, the birdemic was the greatest threat in the world, and it was uniformly heralded as a harbinger of unprecedented destruction and death. This in turn prompted the implementation of an unprecedented series of draconian measures meant to save the world from imminent doom.
A mere two months later in May, racism suddenly and unexpectedly eclipsed the birdemic as the world's greatest threat. The global threat of racism was so immediate and profound that anyone rallying for cause of anti-racism was immediately exempted from having to follow and obey the social distancing and lockdown measures that had, until then, kept the world safe from unimaginable megadeth. The menace racism posed back in May also required the granting of special privileges and powers such as the right to loot, riot, vandalize, and terrorize with wild abandon.
We are now in July, and there's a new (actually, old) greatest threat in town - affluence. Make no mistake - the birdemic virus is scary and racism is evil, but the biggest danger the world faces today is people possessing a deal of money and accumulated wealth.
How is this a threat?
Well, a person with money buys things, and the more money a person has, the more things he or she will buy.
I still don't get it. How is this a bad thing? People with money buying things are called consumers and consumers are the engine of the economy.
Yes, yes, but most people with money are not really consumers, but over-consumers; hence, our economy is not really about consumption, but over-consumption. Overconsumption is killing the environment and creates global inequality - and we can't have that now, can we?
Before going any further, it is important to recall that the birdemic was never primarily about providing protection from a virus, but was instead a cover the Establishment utilized to obscure their successful de facto global totalitarian takeover.
Now at first glance, this defacto totalitarian takeover seems superfluous. After all, the global elite represents the famous top 1% of the world's population who control 50% of the world's wealth. This top 1% not only outrightly own half the world, but they effectively 'control' the 30% of the world population that effectively 'owns' the other half of the world. This, in essence, is the System.
The remaining 70% of the world's population - those who earn less than about 8000 euros annually - essentially owns less than 1% of the world's wealth. Though the people in this portion of the world's population have seen their standards of living and life expectancies improve in the past half-century, they continue to exist on the fringes of the System. In a set up such as this, what possible advantage could the Establishment gain from an outright global takeover? More importantly, why would these global dictators actively seek to transform the System that has served them so effectively and well?
From a purely material perspective, the global dictatorship's rallying cries against affluence and consumption make no sense at all. After all, the global elite owes a great deal of its accumulated wealth and power to the mass consumerism it has created and generated. On top of that, the Establishment has invested an inestimable amount of time, energy, and resources into encouraging people of the world to acquire goods and services in ever increasing amounts. This, in turn, has allowed the Establishment to grow even more wealthy and powerful. Following this logic, it would be in the Establishment's best interest to intensify consumerism rather than dampen it, especially since the bulk of the world's population are on the cusp of becoming functional consumers themselves.
Many argue the Establishment have recognized that post-World War II levels of consumption are no longer sustainable, and that the environment simply cannot sustain another two or three billion rabid, Western-style consumers. The Establishment are quick to push this narrative as well, as evident in a recent post in one of its premiere public relations outlets, the World Economic Forum (bold added):
A detailed analysis of environmental research has revealed the greatest threat to the world: affluence.
That one of the main conclusions of a team of scientists from Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, who have warned that tackling overconsumption has to become a priority. Their report, titled Scientists' Warning on Affluence, explains that true sustainability calls for significant lifestyle changes, rather than hoping for efficient use of resources will be enough.
The irony in all of the above is too glaring to dismiss or ignore. To begin with, it immediately dispels any notions of an eventual return to normal so many are counting on. Secondly, it lays bare the Establishment's main objectives in this birdemic era. The birdemic is not a temporary blip, but a turning point.
For decades the Establishment have promulgated affluence and consumption as a veritable panacea for mortal life. 'Getting and spending' was not only promoted as an ultimate virtue, but was deemed a genuine duty; the highest mark of success; a grand expression of personal freedom. It formed the foundation upon which everything else was measured. Though affluence and consumption were not without benefits, the Establishment has wielded both as weapons to ground man in the material and coax him to reject the spiritual, as the Elder Zosima so accurately observes in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (bold added):
Look at the worldly and all who set themselves up above the people of God, has not God's image and His truth been distorted in them? They have science; but in science there is nothing but what is the object of sense. The spiritual world, the higher part of man's being is rejected altogether, dismissed with a sort of triumph, even with hatred. The world has proclaimed the reign of freedom, especially of late, but what do we see in this freedom of theirs? Nothing but slavery and self-destruction! For the world says:
“You have desires and so satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the most rich and powerful. Don't be afraid of satisfying them and even multiply your desires.” That is the modern doctrine of the world. In that they see freedom. And what follows from this right of multiplication of desires? In the rich, isolation and spiritual suicide; in the poor, envy and murder; for they have been given rights, but have not been shown the means of satisfying their wants. They maintain that the world is getting more and more united, more and more bound together in brotherly community, as it overcomes distance and sets thoughts flying through the air.
Alas, put no faith in such a bond of union. Interpreting freedom as the multiplication and rapid satisfaction of desires, men distort their own nature, for many senseless and foolish desires and habits and ridiculous fancies are fostered in them. They live only for mutual envy, for luxury and ostentation. To have dinners, visits, carriages, rank and slaves to wait on one is looked upon as a necessity, for which life, honor and human feeling are sacrificed, and men even commit suicide if they are unable to satisfy it. We see the same thing among those who are not rich, while the poor drown their unsatisfied need and their envy in drunkenness. But soon they will drink blood instead of wine, they are being led on to it. I ask you is such a man free?
Zosima's insights shed light on the metaphysical confusion caused by the dissemination of affluence and consumption. Demonic forces have used this metaphysical confusion to reap damnation for centuries. Our own contemporary world demonstrates that affluence and consumption alone cause malaise, as exemplified by the term affluenza, which refers to a lack of motivation, a sense of guilt, and a feeling of isolation among those who have acquired a certain degree of wealth. On the whole, all of Western civilization is currently suffering from this malaise, which, at its core, is spiritual in nature. In this sense, the obsessive push of the affluence/consumption agenda has been extremely effective tactic for soul damnation. Despite its success, this tactic is now coming to an end.
The Establishment have flipped their stance. What was once considered virtue will now be treated as vice. More metaphysical confusion will ensue. Having said that, I do not believe this alone will be enough to convince most modern people to abandon their materialist/hedonistic ways. As a result, I expect the needed lifestyle changes the Establishment are advertising will be forced upon us in the same manner social distancing, mask-wearing, and lockdowns were forced upon us. It will become extremely difficult to maintain affluence and consumption when the mechanisms that create affluence and consumption are systematically dismantled and destroyed, which is exactly what the Establishment is currently doing within the fog of the birdemic and subsequent racism nonsense.
Despite entire ideologies erected in opposition to it, capitalism - another word for affluence and consumption - is not a wholly negative phenomenon. Utilized in the proper manner, with the correct moral and ethical (ultimately, spiritual) foundations in place, capitalism can provide individuals and society at large certain degrees of personal autonomy and freedom. The demonic forces guiding our global dictators are now working to eliminate this autonomy and freedom altogether.
Needless to say, the lifestyle changes the Establishment will demand of average citizens in the West - changes like the expectation of air travel, car-driving, dairy and meat consumption (check the linked essay above for more details) - will certainly not apply to them. I simply cannot imagine any of our elite giving up their affluence, their private jets, multiple homes, or animal-protein rich dinners for the sake of anything, but they will insist we give up our cars, houses, and overseas vacations for the good of humanity and the planet.
Then again, they won't to need to insist. They will simply remove the mechanisms that make those things possible. Thus, the influenza will cure us of our affluenza and help establish a 'safe and just space for humanity', which to me sounds like thinly-veiled code for hell on earth followed by eternal damnation.
Note added: A single blog post is not enough to cover this topic. I will have to return to it many times in the near future in order to properly flesh out the implications, but the general thrust of what has been outlined above must not be callously dismissed. The powers-that-should-not-be are insisting there will be no return to normal. As always, the spiritual aspects of these developments should be our primary focus.
Being unable to see the forest for the trees refers to the state of being caught up in details of a situation or problem to the point that it renders one unable to see the situation or problem as a whole. I generally agree with this sentiment of being blinded by details, but I have found the opposite can also be true - that involvement with details might actually shed more light on the whole than a general awareness of the whole ever could.
László Paál (1846-1879) is a good example of a painter whose involvement with detail - contrary to the popular expression - tended to add to the whole rather than detract from it. Appropriately enough, the details Paál became involved with were trees, but this thorough treatment of trees did not blind him to the existence of the forest.
Being locked down in rural western Hungary this spring provided me the opportunity to assess the accuracy of the old nursery rhyme regarding the spring/summer cuckoo cycle.
Cuckoo, cuckoo, what do you do?
In April I open my bill;
In May I sing all day;
In June I change my tune;
In July away I fly
In August away I must.
Adhering to the formula above, the cuckoos in my area began singing in April, filled the air with their calls all through May and early June, and changed their tune in the latter part of June and early July. Moreover, I have not heard any cuckoo calls at all in the past two weeks, which suggests the cuckoos here have flown away, just as the nursery rhyme said they would. The last line in the rhyme is still a bit of a mystery to me. Perhaps it refers to the young cuckoos leaving the nests of their host parents?
István Szőnyi (1894-1960) was a member of the famous Nagybána artist colony and was tutored under the mastership of Károly Ferenczy and István Réti. The influence of both masters is apparent in Szőnyi's work, particularly in his early paintings; but Szőnyi's influences were certainly not confined to Hungarian artists.
A good example of this is his painting Funeral in Zebegény (Zebegény being the small settlement the painter called home in the second half of his life).
There's a reason why the composition of this painting seems so familiar. A *little* touch of Bruegel the Elder perhaps?
Is that we do actually need a Great Reset, but as has been the case so many times in the past century or so, the reset the global totalitarian regime plans to implement around the world will be utterly opposed to the kind of reset the world, more specifically the West, so desperately needs.
The basic conclusion of The Great Reset initiative the World Economic Forum and other globalist organizations have embraced and are promulgating can be reduced the following premises. To begin with, the birdemic has exposed the inadequacy and fragility of the current System. On top of that, the birdemic has also laid bare the glaring global inequalities and injustices the System has created. These revelations entail that the 'normal' the current System has championed can no longer be justified, supported, endorsed, demanded, or maintained. On the contrary, the old normal must be willingly (or forcefully, take your pick) relegated to the dustbin of history in order to usher in a kinder better, fairer, more efficient, and more equitable societal, economic, financial, and human health arrangement known as the 'new normal', which will be led by the engine of 'stakeholder capitalism' that will measure its success according to well-being rather than cold, draconian measurements like GDP.
The irony of The Great Reset initiative is that its conclusion is ultimately accurate. Our world - particularly the Western World - is broken and has been broken for quite some time. In this sense, a reset is definitely needed. The problem with The Great Reset plan lies in its premises, none of which address that which is needed most, especially in the West - namely a spiritual reawakening leading to a Christian revival aligned with and oriented toward salvation and, ultimately, theosis. The Great Reset our totalitarian overlords have planned for the world, particularly for the West, is not only utterly unaligned with salvation and theosis, but will serve to actively orient individuals and society further away from any semblance of Christianity and the Divine, to the point that the very existence of serious Christianity becomes well nigh impossible at the collective level.
If this sounds like exaggeration or overreaction, then take a moment to consider some of the more significant 'resets' the global establishment implemented over the past century and the devastating results these various reboots and reorganizations had not only on Christianity, but also on Western Civilization in general.
A common theme runs through all previous reset initiatives - the denial of the spiritual in favor of the material. Every globalist-inspired reset over the past century has pushed the West further away from the Divine and closer to a world of pure materialism and spiritual desolation. Think about the bloody conclusion of "The War to End All Wars" for a moment. The sheer scale of death and destruction in Europe should have inspired an enormous collective outpouring of realization and repentance. Instead, the end of the Great War led to the forced collapse of empires and the Christian monarchical system in Europe and the rise of the League of Nations whose sole purpose was to ensure international cooperation to guarantee that a bloody conflict like The Great War - which was blamed primarily on traditionalism coupled with arrogant nationalism - could never again occur.
For me, the conclusion of the First World War does not mark the beginning of leftism in the West, but it certainly marks the solidification of leftism as the primary and dominant force fueling Western Civilization. Christianity was pushed to the fringes, replaced by purely material ideologies like humanism, utilitarianism, communism, capitalism, and nationalism. The rise of these ideologies not only devastated Christianity, but also laid the groundwork for more conflict. Rather than end all wars, the wrong turns taken at the conclusion of the First World War inevitably created the conditions for a larger and more destructive Second World War. Once again, the West was presented an opportunity to repent and choose a different path. Once again, the West declined this opportunity and barrelled headlong deeper into materialism. The prime objective of the reset following World War Two was global in scope and led to the formation of the United Nations. The world basically separated into two ideological halves - atheistic communism and atheistic capitalist democracies.
The conclusion of the Second World war created a period of enslavement for those stuck behind the Iron Curtain and a period of relative peace and prosperity for the average person in the West. From a purely material perspective, Western people had never had it so good, yet material abundance and endless consumerism quickly proved to be inadequate. Something was missing. People became restless and rebellious. Despite their riches and personal freedoms, they demanded revolution. Once again, the spiritual was denied and ignored. In its place the West embraced the Sexual Revolution, Vatican II, hedonistic rights - anything and everything that was diametrically opposed to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.
I could go on and on, but the basic point I want to make is this - the Global Establishment has reset the West and the world many times in the past. Every one of these resets was driven by the need to tackle a crisis and the ambition to alleviate suffering, increase happiness, and make the world a better place. Yet each one of these resets inevitably failed in the end because they were all based exclusively on temporal considerations that outright denied and worked against the Divine origins of Man.
The current Great Reset the global establishment is implementing at the moment is cut from the same cloth. Warm fuzzy rhetoric about equity and equality and well-being and kinder forms of this and that, but not a peep about the Divine or the spiritual or what is truly needed. If you find this criticism harsh, take a moment and visit the World Economic Forum's website and explore the issues that are all intrinsic to their planned reset: global governance, gay rights, the trans agenda, anti-racism, climate change, anti-nationalism, anti-populism, sustainability through financial and economic equity, transhumanism, and so forth.
So, what makes the current Great Reset initiative different from past reorganization efforts?
No past reset has ever attempted to achieve the totality contained within the current plan. I'm no fortune teller. I don't know for certain what the coming months and years will bring, but I do know this - should the Great Reset succeed - and it very well could because the Establishment has already gained complete control of practically all global mechanisms of power - it will mark yet another missed opportunity for the kind of reset the West really needs.
And from the way The Great Reset is shaping up, this latest missed opportunity could end up being the last one the West encounters.
This is Captain Obvious territory, but I think it's important to keep in mind that everything we are experiencing today in relation to the birdemic crisis is purposively designed to demoralize, depress, devitalize, destroy, and de-spirit in pursuit of one objective - damnation. (Yes, I like alliteration; sue me.)
Our new totalitarian overlords want to break us because they want to break God. The campaign they have unleashed comes at us from multiple fronts and from every conceivable angle. It attacks the mind, restricts the body, and, most significantly tempts the soul. What we are currently experiencing, ladies and gentlemen, is intense spiritual warfare. This is what it looks like. This is what it feels like.
Our overlords have pressurized everything and they are working to make this pressure ubiquitous and inescapable. This relentless demonic pressure is our new normal. With it, they wish to make the pain threshold the sole measure of our existence.
How much can you take? How far are you willing to go? Everyone's got a breaking point. What's yours?
I am ambivalent about what can be done to effectively push back against this new totalitarian world. At the same time, I am confident that the most effective push back rests in keeping our states of existence - state of mind, state of body, and state of soul - energized and elevated, especially when it appears there is nothing left to feel energized and elevated about.
Energy and elevation is the natural default setting for all serious Christians. How can it not be? After all, consciously recognizing and freely accepting the Truth is an energizing and elevating metaphysical phenomenon - a metaphysical phenomenon the forces of darkness hate with their entire being. Is it any wonder that they seek to deaden this energy and prevent this elevation?
The nature of this energy and elevation is dual. One element consists of the energy and elevation that exists at all times all around us, made perceptible by Holy Spirit and concretized by the reality of eternal life. The other element comprises of our own state of existence - the quality and perceptiveness of our minds, bodies, and souls. The fusion of these two elements represents the foundation of Christian Reality.
An elevated state of existence is not a call to happy-happy, joy-joy bliss and hedonism, but a determined and steadfast adherence to remaining aligned with the Divine and creating conditions in which the Divine remains aligned with us. This alignment brings forth the potential for the fusion that reveals Christian Reality; and it is this Reality the demonic powers are working hard to disrupt and, ultimately, destroy.
Whenever the demonic powers succeed in dragging us down, they succeed in dragging down the Divine. Whenever we succeed in energizing and elevating our state of existence, we succeed in energizing and elevating the Divine.
Energy and elevation are the last things the demonic powers wish to see or confront. Our duty is to ensure the demonic powers are forced to contend with an endless supply of both.
Some of my most recent posts have focused on Dostoevsky's short story The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, which I highly recommend, especially to those who feel an aversion to Dostoevsky's novels, which tend to be rather long and, in some cases, quite cumbersome. What makes The Dream of a Ridiculous Man such a great read is that in the span of about twenty pages, Dostoevsky manages to cover nearly all the major themes and ideas he later used as the foundations of his longer works such as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.
Reflecting upon The Dream of a Ridiculous Man these past few weeks reminded me a beautiful paint-on-glass animation of the story created by Aleksandr Petrov in 1992. The narration is in Russian with English subtitles and is well-worth a gander, particularly if you've never read the story before.
The nameless narrator in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Dream of a Ridiculous Man arrives at the following conclusion regarding the alienation, suffering, and nihilism - in his own words, the ridiculousness - that plagues human life on earth:
Love others as you love yourself. And that's all there is to it. Nothing else is required. That would settle everything. Yes, of course it's nothing but an old truth that has been repeated and reread millions of times - and it still hasn't taken root.
The old truth has indeed been repeated and reread millions of times and, a century-and-a-half later, it still hasn't taken root. To me, this indicates two possibilities. On the one hand, the core of the idea truly is ridiculous - nothing more than pipe dream and, as such, utterly unmanifestible and unachievable. On the other hand, the idea itself could be sound, but is forever misinterpreted and misapplied; hence, it has rarely been implemented in the manner in which is meant to be implemented.
For many modern people, the old truth is synonymous with The Golden Rule, which is often transcribed by the dictum to treat others as you would want to be treated. The Golden Rule spans many cultures and traditions and is generally interpreted as a call for people to be indiscriminate and tolerant in their interactions with others - to be kind, accepting, polite, gracious, open, giving, non-judgmental. Put simply, for most people The Golden Rule boils down to one basic doctrine: Be nice! After all, we want people to be nice to us, so we should do everything we can to ensure we are nice to them. If everyone is nice and plays nice, the world will become a place of infinite niceness. This is all fine and good at some level, but a world of 'niceness' is, at best, the application of The Golden Rule can bring about - and it certainly was not what Dostoevsky has in mind in The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.
Though The Golden Rule and the old truth in Dostoevsky's The Dream of a Ridiculous Man appear similar at first glance, they are in fact vastly different doctrines. This difference can be summed up in the key ingredient The Golden Rule lacks - namely, love. Without a firm grounding in love, the best The Golden Rule can aim for is a doctrine of utilitarianism - a society of niceness and civility. Theoretically, the rule is meant to appeal to our highest sensibilities and most noble understanding of what makes people happy. The application of this understanding leads to efforts to maximize the beneficial, useful, advantageous, and pleasurable; and, conversely, minimize the harmful, useless, disadvantageous, and painful. The old truth the ridiculous man exclaims in Dostoevsky's story certainly contains some of this, but the inclusion of love makes it a far deeper doctrine than The Golden Rule could ever be.
Though Dostoevsky understood the utilitarian allure of The Golden Rule, he knew the rule itself would not be enough. To begin with, he recognized the innate relativism of the utilitarian doctrine - a relativism that could only be controlled through some form of legalism. After all, how else would it be possible to define how people should and should not be treated. More importantly, he understood that the utilitarianism of The Golden Rule could very easily superimpose itself upon the tenet expressed in the old truth and, thereby, invert it to create a mode of being centered around the ego and relative, abstract notions of universal altruism rather than upon concrete and personal Christian love. Dostoevsky rejected universal altruism - a rejection he makes evidently clear in The Brothers Karamazov through his depiction of Ivan's inability to accept the viability of loving others as one loves oneself unless it occurrs under the guidelines of love at a distance. Thus, the Ridiculous Man's stated key phrase cannot be equated with the mere application of The Golden Rule.
Many modern people associate The Parable of the Good Samaritan from The Gospel of Mark with The Golden Rule. The same could be applied to "love one another" in The Gospel of John. In our contemporary world, the Biblical commands to love one another and to love thy neighbor as thyself have essentially been hijacked and appropriated by leftists as proof that, above all else, Jesus desired to establish a world of universal altruism perfectly analogous to The Golden Rule. What leftists - and many Christians - fail to include in these interpretations to love others as you love yourself is the prerequisite of loving God first. Re-establishing this omission helps clarify what Jesus and, subsequently, the Ridiculous Man really mean by the injunction to love others as you love yourself.
Loving God first has direct implications on the self a person should love. Making the love of God primary entails loving the self that loves God. The self that loves God is our highest self; our most authentic self; our real self; our Divine Self. That part of us most aligned with Creation and Divine Will. The part that comprehends the Truth most directly. The part that transcends our earthly circumstances and the confines of our ego. When the Ridiculous Man arrives at the conclusion that the secret to life on earth is to love others as we love ourselves, he is speaking from the Divine Self, not a false self. In others words, he is speaking from the Truth and not from lies.
The old truth can only manifest in reality if it is based on the Divine Self centered on the Truth because this is the only alignment that can create the kind of love needed to bring about deep and lasting change at both the societal and individual level. Attempting to establish some sense of the old truth from a false self is impossible, as the Elder Zosima makes clear in The Brothers Karamazov:
“Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to the passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself.”
Before he experienced his transformative dream, the Ridiculous Man was in a far worse position. Alienated, nihilistic, incapable of love, unable and unwilling to indulge his passions due to the seeming meaninglessness of indulging them, he decides his best course of action would be to simply commit suicide by shooting himself in the right temple. His encounter with the dismayed little girl before his dream demonstrates his inability to love. In a true-to-form altruistic manner, he dismisses the girl and instructs her to go to the police for help. He then treats her the way he wants to be treated by refusing to become involved with her or her suffering. Later, when he is back in his room, he realizes he feels sorry for the girl. This awareness has a discombobulating effect on him. On the one hand, his reason cannot understand why he should feel anything for the girl's suffering at all, especially since he was planning to off himself that very night. On the other hand, the pang of pity makes him understand he is not the meaningless zero his intellect had painted him out to be. After his transformative dream, the Ridiculous Man begins to love from his Divine Self, and he wishes to seek out the little girl he had rejected and chased away, demonstrating the acceptance of a concrete and personal form of love that does not shrink away from the suffering of others.
The old truth - loving others as you love yourself - only becomes viable if it emanates from the Divine Self. This aspect elevates it far above the doctrine of The Golden Rule. Another aspect separating the old truth from utilitarian altruism is the apparent misunderstanding that the old truth must strive to be universal and must also strive to establish some sort of altruistic earthly utopia. After his transformative dream, the Ridiculous Man devotes himself to a life of preaching in the hope of involving others in the Truth he has seen. At the same time, he knows most of his contemporaries will consciously reject his claims as ridiculous. Though he professes to love everyone, he practices his love with those who are willing to receive it - in this case, the suffering little girl. The same holds true for Jesus' commands. Only those who love God first are capable of loving their neighbors as themselves, whereas the instruction to love one another was directed specifically at the Apostles and not, as many claim, to everyone and anyone.
What the Ridiculous Man advocates for in the end is a world in which the "awareness of life is of a higher order than the laws of happiness." This awareness of life must include love that rises from the Divine Self and seeks to aid, comfort, and support the Divine Selves of others. Unlike The Golden Rule, the old truth does not concern itself with the laws of happiness, but rather with the awareness of life, which here means an awareness of Divine Reality.
Loving your neighbor as yourself is not about establishing a utopia free of pain and suffering - as is apparent in the Ridiculous Man's comprehension of the undesirability of the unfallen world he visits in his dream - but, rather, about aligning human consciousness with Divine Will and seeking to engage and support this aligned human consciousness in others to foster and sustain Reality and Creation. Dostoevsky intones this alignment would not usher in any sort of universal utopia, but it could usher in something even better, and, as the Ridiculous Man reveals at the end of the story - "if everyone wanted it, it could be arranged immediately."
When discussing Dostoevsky's ideas and beliefs concerning Christianity and God, most critics and academics focus solely on the intellectual arguments Dostoevsky presented through his fiction. More specifically, they tend to focus primarily on the style of reasoning the acclaimed author used to arrive at his affirmation of Christianity and the existence of God. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, it ultimately contradicts the encompassing conclusion Dostoevsky stresses in so many of his works - one cannot uncover the Truth by intellect alone.
On the contrary, Dostoevsky blames the sudden over reliance on the intellect in the nineteenth century - the over reliance on reason - for nearly all of the social and moral decay he witnessed and depicts in his novels. If anything, Dostoevsky cites the intellect as the chief vehicle through which people abandon faith in God and religion. Put simply, as far as Dostoevsky was concerned, proving the existence of God was more a matter of the heart than it was of the mind ( a point I hope to elaborate upon in a future post).
At the end of the short novella, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, the unnamed narrator drives this idea home by declaring, "You see, I've seen the Truth. I've seen it, and I know that men can be happy and beautiful without losing the ability to live on earth. I cannot - I refuse to believe that wickedness is the normal state of men. And when they laugh at me, it is essentially at that belief of mine. But how can I not have faith, since I have seen the Truth. I didn't arrive at it with my intellect; I saw it in its entirety, and it is inconceivable that it could not exist."
Though Dostoevsky recognized the primacy of the heart over the mind when it came to matters of faith, he did often resort to using reason to argue in favor of the existence of God and the eternal Truth of Christianity, as demonstrated in the passage below (an excerpt taken from an essay titled The Philosophy and Theology of Fyodor Dostoevsky:
For Dostoevsky, human beings are a unity of spiritual souls and material bodies, with the spirit being primary but somewhat limited by bodily incarnation. Of itself, the human soul is immortal, oriented to immortality and the divine, but like Dostoevsky himself (who called himself “a child of the age, a child of disbelief and doubt . . .”), a human person struggles with doubts and arguments about the meaning of life and the existence of God.
Dostoevsky himself even used reason to bolster his Christian faith and to argue with his religious opponents. He was most interested in using reason to argue for immortality, which he considered the “highest” idea of human nature. He offered proofs based on both reason and faith for personal immortality, such as
(a) the experience of lifelong human growth and development;
(b) the experience of the lifelong desire for moral perfection in pursuing the human good;
(c) the experience of lifelong human love of God;
(d) the need for life to have meaning beyond death;
(e) the need for a virtuous life to have rewards or punishment beyond death.
All of these led him to declare that “I cannot conceive that I shall not be” or that a divine being would create people with these innate traits who could not achieve their fulfillment.
William Wildblood has posted an incredibly incisive piece on his Meeting the Masters blog today. Coincidentally enough, it ties in very well with my own post from today concerning leftism's mission to render people defenseless against evil:
I don't think assault is too strong a word when what we are witnessing now is the attempt to expunge any notion of a spiritual component to the human being at all, one which will lead, if followed through to its natural conclusion, to the complete separation of earthly man and the spiritual realm to disastrous effect. There may still remain something called religion or spirituality but it won't be that at all.
It is now evident that the only way to preserve a real spiritual integrity in the world today is to reject modern ideology in toto. If you allow its tenets to enter your mind in any form they will act like a cancer and spread throughout your whole system. Any concession will eventually bring about submission to the idea that humanism (see previous post) overrides the reality of God. This is why such things as feminism, anti-racism and all the other -isms are pushed so relentlessly nowadays with the pushing becoming harder and harder and resistance increasingly depicted as sinful. The whole of modern thought is fundamentally an attack on God and if this wasn't always apparent, it surely must be now.
Just as people are currently being pressed into faceless, dehumanising, anonymity-creating, bureaucracy-conforming wearing of masks in an increasing number of situations under the guise of protecting yourself and (even more insidiously manipulative) protecting others, so many modern attitudes are presented as advances in terms of fairness, tolerance and compassion. Who would want to hold out against such things? But in the same way that mask wearing creates a culture of suspicion, distrust and fear and subtly modifies human behaviour and psychology in all sorts of adverse ways so these modern attitudes corrupt our minds on a spiritual level. By focusing on the purely human, using that word to refer solely to human beings materialistically considered, they cut us off from deeper spiritual truths. Which is, of course, the real intention.
We can tell this by the fact that the process never stops.
I encourage you to read the rest of William's fine post here. (As an aside, I also encourage you to become a regular reader of William's excellent blog, which is a veritable source of spiritual wisdom and discernment.)
"People with strong psychological boundaries cannot be exploited by psychopaths. Likewise, people with strong spiritual boundaries cannot be exploited by demons. Modern Leftism is all about training people not to defend themselves against evil."
The above comes from a comment Epimetheus left on yesterday's post. I am very aware of the truth the statement above contains and have written about this phenomenon many times on this blog. Nevertheless, Epimetheus's observation served as a well-coined and well-timed reminder for me. The prime purpose of modern leftism is to render individuals and whole civilizations vulnerable and powerless against evil for the overarching objective of individual and mass soul damnation.
That's basically it.
And within modern leftism we must include practically all (if not all) corporations, governments, global organizations, media, entertainment, sports, non-governmental organizations, education, politics, law, science, and yes, even organized religious institutions including most (if not all) Christian churches.
There is only one line of defense against leftism, and that line of defense is religion; and for Westerners, that religion is Christianity.
The eternal Truth Christianity has revealed is the only viable defensive wall an individual or group can erect against the perpetual onslaught of leftism. It is the only fortification in the world that can withstand the leftist siege because modern leftism essentially possesses no weapons with which it can breach a bastion of Christianity.
The only way leftism can breach Christianity's defenses is by convincing Christians that leftism is a force for good - that it intends no harm. Once this has been achieved, it doesn't take much for leftism to persuade Christians to abandon their positions along the rampart, willingly lower the drawbridge, and open the gate.
Unfortunately, over the past two centuries or so, leftism has done a rather stellar job of rendering Christians defenseless. It's come to the point where it is truly difficult to find any Christians willing to defend themselves or their religion.
Modern leftism - quite the remarkable training program, I must say.
Though atheists and non-Christians are faintly familiar with the instruction to love thy neighbor, they are unlikely, unable, or unwilling to ascribe the message to Jesus. Instead, they are more apt to classify showing love for neighbors within the nebulous category known as 'being nice.' This immediately raises a question: Is there any inherent difference between love for the neighbor and being nice? Of course there is!
To begin with, loving one's neighbor is preceded by loving God, a crucial point even self-professed Christians tend to neglect or forget. Put another way, true love for one's neighbour can only manifest if it is preceded by supported by love for God. Loving God first serves to concretize love for the neighbor and elevates it above murky, abstract notions of love. In addition, loving God first personalizes love of the neighbor, lifting it to the level of tangible relationship and interaction - of beings aiding and helping other beings.
In this sense, loving one's neighbor enters the realm of authentic compassion; the sort of authentic compassion that motivates an individual to help someone in need, all without the calculated expectation of receiving any sort of compensation or advantage in return. At the same time, practicing love of the neighbor does increase the likelihood of reciprocity - that the individual who helped his neighbor might one day receive aid from the neighbor when needed; however, true love of the neighbor should not be motivated by such expected stipulations. On the contrary, any love of the neighbor that expects the precondition of 'repayment' cannot be considered true neighborly love.
This is where loving God first and faith come into play. If an individual loves God first, he or she will have demonstrated this love through the love he or she has given to the neighbor; will understand that this in itself is enough; and will also sustain the faith that God will arrange things in such a way that aid will be extended to the individual when required.
I could elaborate on these ideas for pages, but the purpose of this post is not to dissect the various complexities of neighborly love, but rather to share my experience with it over the past week. Last Wednesday I entered the hospital to undergo a same day operation on my foot. Knowing I would not be able to drive home after the procedure, I had planned to take the bus to hospital and enlist the services of a taxi for the ride home. One of my neighbors somehow got wind of this and immediately insisted on taking me to and from the hospital by car. A few days later, another neighbor offered to drive me anywhere I needed to go until my foot healed. Another neighbor has helped my family by taking my wife grocery shopping. Yet another neighbor - a nurse by vocation - appeared unannounced and offered to change my bandages and provide any other assistance I might require.
Needless to say, I have found the outpouring of neighborly love I have received over the past week more than a little overwhelming. Much of this stems from my predilection towards independence and self-sufficiency. I generally like to care of things myself and am reluctant to 'burden' anyone with my own personal problems and troubles. At the same time, I have learned that it is both unwise and impious to refuse the offer of neighborly love when it is extended. Yes, impious. Impious in the sense that all adamant and unqualified refusals of neighborly love interfere with what I would describe as a divine process. Much has been said about the proper provision of neighborly love, but the proper acceptance or acknowledgement of neighborly love has often been overlooked.
My experiences over the past week have brought me much comfort and has deepened my faith in both people and God. At first I was tempted to wholly attribute the generous aid my neighbors have provided to the simple fact that I live in a small, rural settlement, but I can sense there is far more to it than that. Some of the neighbors who have helped me are friends - people I know and have helped myself in the past. Though I did not expect them to help me, their offers of aid did not surprise me when they came. On the other hand, some of the neighborly love I have received has come from people who are more or less strangers to me, and I cannot attribute their offers to assist me to anything but to the love of God.
Unsurprisingly, my experiences over the past week have inspired a great deal of thinking about what love of the neighbor implies. This post has not done much justice to the bulk of that thinking, but it will provide the vehicle through which I wish to express the following observation: Love thy neighbor is vital to Christianity. Nevertheless, love thy neighbor can only be vital to Christianity if it is properly interpreted and properly understood.
As is the case with so much of what appears in the Synoptic Gospels, the command to love thy neighbor has been thoroughly inverted and misapplied by the forces of leftism who have convinced many well-meaning Christians that loving thy neighbor entails a blanket, indiscriminate, abstract sort of love passively leveled at anyone and everyone, preferably through the channel of some bureaucratic system. This interpretation appeals to many because of its apparent indiscriminateness and unconditionality. But this indiscriminateness and unconditionality is, in fact, highly discriminatory and conditional, for it can only 'exist' by taking the love of God out of the equation. Without the love of God, this abstract love of the neighbor achieves the opposite of what it claims to do because it is built on a foundation of anti-love instead of genuine love.
Destroying love of neighbor that is based first on love of God appears to be one the goals of the anti-society that is currently being constructed, driven primarily through the vehicles of the recent (and in some cases, still active) social distancing and lockdown measures imposed by the birdemic crisis. Social distancing and lockdowns not only drive a wedge between neighbors - both proximal and motivational - but also invert the command to love God first by invoking fear and base survival instincts. More than that, SD and LD serve to undermine and reinterpret the vitality and necessity and neighborly love by claiming that remaining 'sheltered in place', 'avoiding others', and relying on official, bureaucratic channels to be the sole source of neighborly love are in themselves 'best practices' when it comes to loving thy neighbor and doing what is best for 'the common good'. I offer an example of this kind of rationalization below, taken from this site, issued about two months ago when the birdemic was cresting in many places:
While it makes sense for all citizens to follow the reasonable restrictions that have been imposed to contain the virus, for Christians doing so is also a matter of faith, charity and justice. After all, these are some of the stars we steer by:
I appreciate the allusion to celestial navigation in the above because it contains a truth - we all need stars to steer by, but we must ensure our navigational instruments are properly calibrated. We must also ensure we are using the right stars in the right way. Miscalculations and misinterpretation will cause us to go off course or, worse, run aground, especially when it comes to loving our neighbors.
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