Christians need to be much more wary than many are, of the danger of pride that results from a - primarily - this-worldly attitude - an attitude that places our-selves and human institutions as the priority; when the reality is that Christ's Kingdom is Not of this-world.
-- Bruce Charlton, This Worldly Pride of Some Christians
The excerpt above — taken from this post (read the whole thing) — sparked the following thought:
The choice to enter Heaven after death also depends greatly on a Christian’s ability or willingness to “let go of” this-worldly Christianity.
Heaven renders this-worldly Christianity unnecessary. Heaven is not liberation and salvation in the world but from the world, implying that this-worldly Christianity is one of the things we would need to be liberated and saved from after death.
What is this-worldly Christianity?
Berdyaev offers an interesting insight:
Full acceptance of the truth of the Gospel, consent to its actual realization, would lead to the destruction of the states, civilizations, societies organized according to the laws of this world - to the end of this world which in every way is opposite to the Gospel Truth:
therefore men and nations have corrected the Gospel, filled it with 'truths' of this world which were really pragmatic, because they were false and adapted to falsehood.
The inability of this-worldly Christianity to realize Gospel Truth is not a denigration of this-worldly Christianity. On the contrary, it serves as a reminder that there are clear and definite limits to this-worldly Christianity, limits we must be able to recognize and acknowledge when the time comes.
Whatever benefits (if any) we may have derived from this-worldly Christianity will have served their purposes and will no longer be needed.
This world was not created for the actual realization of Gospel Truth. The realization of Gospel Truth required Heaven, the Second Creation of Jesus.
Heaven is not and cannot be organized according to the laws of this world. As such, it cannot support anything that insists on being organized or committed to the laws and truths of this world.
The laws and truths of this world, pragmatic though they may be, have no place in Heaven. The same applies to the laws and truths of this-worldly Christianity.
I sometimes use the search function on other blogs that include them, but it never occurred to me that it might be a good idea to feature one on this blog.
Anyway, that has changed. I have added a search function on the blog for those interested in finding posts about particular keywords, phrases, or topics.
You can find the search box above the five-year-old photo of my gloriously sunlit mug (which I should update to remain more aligned with reality).
Today is the feast day of Saint Matthias the Apostle, who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot as the twelfth apostle after Jesus’ ascension. Saint Matthias Day usually falls on February 24, but the date gets pushed back to the 25th during leap years.
Here in Central Europe, Saint Matthias is regarded as an indicator of a potential early spring. Hungarians refer to him as Icebreaker Mátyás.
The folklore goes like this — if Saint Matthias finds ice on his feast day, he will break it. If he finds none, he will make it.
Temperatures have been mild lately, so there is no ice for Matthias to break. Also, if forecasts are trustworthy, he will not make any in the foreseeable future, either.
That means I had better shake off the winter cobwebs and start thinking about spring projects again.
Incidentally, today is also my son’s name day, though he goes by Mátyás, the Magyar version of the anglicized Matthias.
My recent post on the futility of obsessing about politics and using politics to fight evil led to some interesting comments and connections to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
Romantic Christian approaches to “fighting the power” are frequently viewed as passive or delusional. The sternest criticisms declare them “do nothing” approaches because they eschew confronting the enemy on predetermined battlefields using the same weapons and tactics the enemy utilizes, i.e., politics.
For the sake of brevity, I will avoid wading into great detail as to why fighting the enemy through such conventional means is virtually pointless and futile in this time and place. One needs to look no further than the abysmal failures of the past decade to recognize that fighting on any political battlefield does little more than play into the enemy’s hands.
No political battle I have followed in the past ten years has succeeded at stopping or even slowing the advance of evil. On the contrary, most of the political battles in the past decade — the big ones that got many of us, yours truly included, so optimistic about potential victories and turning points, i.e., Trump, Brexit, Orbán — have only served to accelerate or exacerbate evil in the world.
Knowing this, why does anyone continue harboring any trace of optimism about Trump’s possible return, or the rise of some supposed right-wing party in Germany, or the appearance of a new, maverick, anti-woke, libertarian leader in some country somewhere, or a group of truckers or farmers taking to the streets to protest against some draconian regulation?
Moreover, why do people continue nurturing battlefield fantasies about fighting evil in the fields and streets? I mean, seriously. Who exactly do you plan to fight, and who will fight alongside you?
Many people remain convinced that the people will rise when things get bad enough. My response? How much worse do things have to get? Here’s a news flash. When things worsen, people will almost certainly become even more yielding, manipulable, governable, passive, and compliant! Either that, or they will be manipulated into taking to the streets by the same forces they purportedly oppose.
Still, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that some viable and powerful political force does rise and engage the powers that should not be in open battle out on the field. Do you honestly believe the System has not prepared for such possibilities? That it would not ultimately use such an occasion to its advantage?
That aside, let’s go as far as to imagine that this political force engages the enemy in open battle and wins. Yay, us!
Okay, so the political force quickly takes control of the System. How do you think it will wield that power? How much different will its System actually be? Remember all the failed battles of the past decade because the kinds of people who lost those battles would presumably be the same kinds of people who would or could topple the current System.
Do these people strike you as the kind that could spark a spiritual reawakening among the masses? That’s important because a mass spiritual reawakening is the only thing that might turn the collective world in the right direction. Everything else is just chair rearrangement.
Think about all of that. Deeply.
To return to the main point about fighting the enemy through politics and its connection to The Lord of the Rings, I posit that there are ways of fighting that Sauron knows and ways of fighting that Sauron does not know, and I am firmly convinced that we must focus on the latter rather than the former in this time and place.
To support my point, I’ll turn to what Gandalf reveals to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli shortly after his reappearance in The Two Towers (bold added):
“The Enemy, of course, has long known that the Ring is abroad, and that it is borne by a hobbit. He knows now the number of our Company that set out from Rivendell, and the kind of each of us. But he does not yet perceive our purpose clearly.
He supposes that we were all going to Minas Tirith; for that is what he would himself have done in our place. And according to his wisdom it would have been a heavy stroke against his power. Indeed he is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind.
That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not entered into his darkest dream. In which you will see our good fortune and our hope.
For imagining war he has let loose war, believing he has no time to waste; for he that strikes the first blow, if he strikes hard enough, may need to strike no more. So the forces that he has long been preparing he is now setting in motion, sooner than he intended.
Wise fool. For if he had used all his power to guard Mordor, so that none could enter, and bent all his guile to the hunting of the Ring, then indeed hope would have faded: neither Ring nor bearer could long have eluded him."
Some vital points to consider concerning the passage above:
The analogy between The Lord of the Rings and our current situation has limits, but we can draw much wisdom from Tolkien's trilogy. However, it is wrong to assume that Tolkien believed only direct, physical battlefield confrontation could vanquish evil.
Although Romantic Christian approaches to fighting the spiritual war are individual and personal, they have one thing in common — they focus on fighting evil in ways that evil does not anticipate, cannot conceive of, and, ultimately, does not know, replete with the understanding that only such approaches can truly defeat evil.
Destroying the Ring is a deeply personal and spiritual matter in this time and place. It entails overcoming the temptation of wielding the Ring for the sake of power.
It entails not thinking like Sauron!
Many have likely seen this before, but it is new to me, so I thought I would share it.
Back during the lockdown, an art gallery invited people to recreate their own version of famous paintings. The following presents some of the "results."
A few more can be found here.
It needs to be said that politics are always based on lies, and, therefore, the expression of moral principle, not Christian but simply human, ought to mean a reduction of politics and their fictitious power over human life to a very minimum.
Politics is always an expression of the slavery of man. The astonishing thing is that politics has never been an expression even of intelligence, to say nothing of nobility or goodness.
-- Nikolai Berdyaev, Slavery and Freedom
If Brexit, the failed Trump presidency, and the ongoing faux-populist, illiberal democracy of Viktor Orbán have revealed anything, it is this — there is no hope in politics. None at all.
So why the obsession?
Moreover, politics contains no intelligence, nobility, or goodness either. On the contrary, politics is now a spiritual deathtrap, and anyone who remains fixated on, preoccupied with, and possessed by politics is a slave.
We are far past the point where one can obsess over politics and sincerely claim to be committed to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Far past the point...
Warning: A ranty, immature tone pollutes the following post. I apologize in advance, but I can't take these sorts of things seriously anymore.
Get ready for the big news, folks! You better sit down for this one. Are you ready? Here it is…
DEMOCRACY HAS BEEN INVERTED!
No, really! When you hear democracy, I bet you think of something like “rule of the people”, right?
Well, guess what? That’s not what democracy means anymore!
I know. Mind blown!
So, what is democracy now?
“Oh, it's the military, it's NATO, it's the IMF and the World Bank. It's the mainstream media, it is the NGOs, and of course, these NGOs are largely state department-funded or IC-funded. It's essentially all of the elite establishments that were under threat from the rise of domestic populism that declared their own consensus to be the new definition of democracy.
Because if you define democracy as being the strength of democratic institutions rather than a focus on the will of the voters, then what you're left with is essentially democracy is just the consensus-building architecture within the Democrat institutions themselves.
And from their perspective, that takes a lot of work. I mean, the amount of work these people do. I mean, for example, we mentioned the Atlantic Council, which is one of these big coordinating mechanisms for the oil and gas industry in a region for the finance and the JP Morgans and the BlackRocks in a region for the NGOs in the region, for the media, in the region, all of these need to reach a consensus, and that process takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of work and a lot of negotiation from their perspective.
That's democracy. Democracy is getting the NGOs to agree with BlackRock, to agree with the Wall Street Journal, to agree with the community and activist groups who are onboarded with respect to a particular initiative that is the difficult vote building process from their perspective.”
Boy, talk about epiphanies!
Democracy as a totalitarian power network that exists only to defend and propagate itself while simultaneously censoring, oppressing, and terrorizing the people?
Never in the history of the world has such an inversion of democracy taken place.
German Democratic Republic (1949 to 1990)
To think that democracy has nothing at all with the will of the people. That it’s just a game of smoke and mirrors meant to keep totalitarians in charge. Man, that’s something fresh.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (1948 to Present)
Here’s the kicker. Criticize the totalitarian power structure in the inverted democracies that comprise the West, and the totalitarian state will brand you a threat to democracy and an enemy of the people.
And let’s be honest, there’s nothing more reprehensible than an enemy of the people.
After all, democracy is there to protect the people from such enemies. When all is said and done, totalitarians are “people” people.
The People’s Republic of China (1949 to Present)
So, what are we to do? Isn’t it obvious? We have to win back our democracies! Our real democracies! Not the fake kind we have been sold by the intricate network of elite totalitarian organizations.
Well, there is one small problem with that line of thinking. It can be summarized as follows:
That aside, this Indian guru’s take is also worth considering.
Granted, he didn’t believe in God and thought Jesus experienced great disillusionment on the cross, but even from the foundation of those limited metaphysical assumptions, guru man was able to express the following insight-- an insight that seems utterly beyond the scope of most modern Westerners when it comes to Of the people, by the people, for the people:
Okay, sure...but, we still need to real democracy back. If we do that, everything will be solved!
Listen: I’ll come right out and say it.
The supposed inversion of democracy is itself an inversion.
It keeps individuals focused on the wrong things and prevents them from thinking about the things they really, really, really need to think about.
If you work your way back through the history of Western Civilization, you become acutely aware that there was always something that somehow managed to save the collective West.
That something was sometimes religion, an empire, a kingdom, a country, a great leader, a discovery, a successful military defense, a turning of the tables, a movement of peoples, or a new idea.
Within this framework, Western Civilization is a torch that a dying hand somehow always managed to pass to a hand of vigor or spirit. Or the torch was dropped but a vigorous, spirited hand managed to pick it up again.
The torch flame in the dying hand flickers. The dying hand has no intention of passing it to anyone. It wants to kill the flame before it drops it. It matters little. There are no vigorous or spirited hands waiting to take it or pick it up anyway.
The flame will die in the dying hand and fall unceremoniously into the sands of a handless desert.
One of the most challenging aspects of this time and place is overcoming the temptation to have the System like us -- approve of us, appreciate us, praise us, reward us, and embrace us.
We are all firmly situated in the System, with little chance of any other recourse, but our prevailing attitudes about this situation make all the difference. The same goes for motivation.
If we believe that the System is inherently good but merely flawed or corrupted, we will not attend to the inner guidance and discernment assuring us otherwise.
If we yearn for System accolades, acknowledgments, privileges, and laurels, we will not take the steps necessary to align ourselves more firmly with God and Creation.
We cannot avoid living the System, but we can eschew the System living within us.
Negative motivation is too weak to save us from the System's lures. Our motivations must be overwhelmingly positive. They must exist outside the System, and we should pursue them with a high-spirited sense of adventure and gratitude.
Living and thinking "dangerously" is everything but a drag.
Blog and Comments
Blog posts tend to be spontaneous, unpolished, first draft entries ranging from the insightful and periodically profound to the poorly-argued and occasionally disparaging.
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f er en c ber g er (at) h otm ail (dot) co m
Blogs/Sites I Read
Bruce Charlton's Notions
Meeting the Masters
From The Narrow Desert
Synlogos ✞ Aggregator
New World Island
New World Island YouTube
Fourth Gospel Blog
Trees and Triads