Wednesday 25 April 2018

Deviations of Modernity

At one time, I thought of writing a book on the deviations of modernity but lost interest as the whole thing would just have been one long round of negativity. The more I thought about it, the more I realised I would have ended up including practically everything about the world today in my analysis of what was wrong with it.  Its art, its politics, its science, its philosophy, its culture, its education and even its religion. For nowadays each one of these serves to sidetrack man from his true mission of self-knowledge. None of them really helps to align him with it.  Each one is, to some degree, destructive of truth. Most of them are based on lies and reduce humanity to a spiritually shrunken version of itself.  The prospect was too unpleasant to contemplate.  I didn't want to appear, even to myself, a miserable moaner with nothing good to say about anything.

That having been said, the negativity is not in me but in the world as it is today and, though a book is too much for me to do, a post on this blog will make the point well enough. After all, there isn't that much to say when you get down to it. All these deviations tie up together and come from the same place. They are all a denial of the fullness of what a human being is. They restrict humanity to how it appears to be in this world. They don’t all do this in the same way and to the same degree, but each does it to some extent.

For instance, science has long mistaken the part for the whole and simply denied those aspects of being it cannot access by its frankly fairly limited methods. It hobbles itself by its obsession with what can be measured. The contemporary artist is too fixated on himself as the artist and his response to the world. He fails to see further than himself. And that’s not even mentioning the striving for originality. To be original really means to go back to the origin of things and that is clearly God. What artist of the last hundred years does that? Some, certainly, but very few and hardly any whose work is acclaimed.

When philosophy is severed from the intellect, meaning the intuitive faculty of the mind not the rational, it becomes sterile. It concerns itself with concepts that have no bearing on reality as it is but simply with things as they are thought. It is reduced to theory, mind games and empty abstractions. For if philosophy is not rooted in the good, the beautiful and the true, it is useless.

Politics now is what people resort to when they have no spiritual understanding. It is based on the denial of man as a spiritual being. It treats him as existing only in and for this world, and either attacks his individuality or over-asserts it. Consequently, it is practically always the vehicle for some form of oppression. In the modern world, politics has become a means of separating human beings from truth and is at the forefront of the attempt to reconstruct them in a new form that has no connection to what they really are or should be. In this it takes direction from the materialism of science, the spiritual aridity of philosophy and the misconceived misrepresentations of art.

Unfortunately religion and spirituality are also weakened forces. The former usually lacks an inner dimension that would give it spiritual power, and its adherents may be well-intentioned but do not sufficiently appreciate the reality of which they speak, tending, paradoxically enough, to emphasise the horizontal dimension of being over the vertical. The latter is too often vague and self-centred, either seeing reality as a pantheistic mush which aligns all too easily with contemporary atheistic attitudes, or else diminishing the spiritual quest to a search for the true self thereby denying proper transcendence. I generalise, of course, but, while there may be many individuals who do not fall into these categories, present day forms of religion and spirituality largely do, particularly in their more public aspects.

So where is one to turn? The fact that there is no outer support nowadays tells us that we have to go within. God now wants each person to find the truth inside themselves and to be their own spiritual support. This is both a test of their integrity and also a way for them to develop the insight required to become truly spiritual and not just passively so. This path is not without problems, never mind its difficulty. The possibility of illusion and self-deception is always there, but if we work to purify our minds of attachments and selfish desires and wrong thinking, and open our hearts to truth then we can make headway in modern times despite its anti-spiritual bias. In fact, it may be that by seeing through the modern deviations and benefitting from their plus points, because they do have them as anything must, we can make more headway than might otherwise have been the case if we lived in more spiritually understanding times. What are these plus points? Chiefly, I would say, the focus on the individual and the desire to understand not just follow. These have led to the many deviations referred to but they also have their positive side if they are harnessed to correct spiritual understanding. That is, if they are seen as servants rather than masters.

You cannot understand the contemporary world if you do not see it as the closing phase of a long cycle in which openness to spirit is gradually shut off and human beings become trapped in matter. At the same time, you will not understand it if you do not grasp how forces antithetic to God, supernatural forces taking advantage of the times, are trying to reframe human beings without reference to their higher nature. This is all presented as a good with resistance to it an evil, the reverse of the truth. It may be a pseudo-good when defined by its own terms, and unfortunately most people nowadays, without any basis in real metaphysics and lacking insight, are seduced by it and go along with it. Many even line up to promote it, thereby fighting for the devil while fondly believing they fight against him. Of course, those who do this do not have truth in them, or not enough real response to it, which is why they can be exploited, but they are convinced they serve the good. The devil uses much subtler tactics these days or perhaps it just seems so in the context of the times. But to present good as evil and evil as good is one of his favoured methods of corruption, and it deceives many especially when the full force of public discourse is behind it as is usually the case these days.

Let's end on a positive note. It seems to me that as the official line on what reality is becomes more absurd and more untenable, as it must because once something has started going downhill it will carry on until it reaches the bottom unless something powerful stops it, people will start to wake up. Maybe not a majority, but the truth that is within us all will surely reassert itself amongst many when they are faced with ever more flagrant challenges to goodness, truth and common sense. At any rate, the increasing divergences from truth will bring us all to the point at which real choices have to be made. Will we then meekly conform to the outer indoctrinations of society and the world or will we listen to the voice of our Creator within us? This will be both an opportunity and a test. Let us pray that we will be equal to it. 


Wurmbrand said...

"The fact that there is no outer support nowadays tells us that we have to go within. God now wants each person to find the truth inside themselves and to be their own spiritual support. This is both a test of their integrity and also a way for them to develop the insight required to become truly spiritual and not just passively so."

This sounds to me, though, like a characteristically current notion of spirituality. What disagreement would your statement get from, say, Angela Merkel, or Oprah Winfrey, or Barack Obama, or a BBC pundit?

Edwin said...

I think you are right about all of the above, but I cannot help feeling apprehensive about your counsel to rely on "intuition." If you could specify more clearly what you mean, perhaps this would be helpful. I cannot help recalling what Chesterton wrote about what happens when you tell Jones to worship the God within: Jones will likely end up worshiping Jones. If one tries to discern the truth through a supra-rational reliance on what might be considered personal revelation, even if aided by Scripture and tradition, the possibility of being deceived by a number of factors is very great. But, it would seem we have to take that chance, as no help is forthcoming from the usual quarters and, perhaps, we are meant to stand on our own legs, even if they are a bit wobbly and give way now and again. This is not easy for a one-time traditional Catholic who prized doctrinal clarity and sacramental practices. Perhaps, I have some growing up to do.

William Wildblood said...

Well, I don't mean only within and I do say the possibility of illusion and self-deception is always there unless we submit to purification of heart and mind which none of the people you mention would remotely contemplate doing, not properly and sincerely anyway. They fall into the pantheistic mush bracket. I do think we have to make the truth our own but it should always be seen in the light of Christ. This surely is what is meant by divinisation or theosis.

The fact is that real outer support just is not there nowadays, not from where I'm standing in England anyway. And even if it were we would still have to make the truths of the spiritual path our own. But our intuition does always have to be measured against revelation.

Edwin, intuition is a real thing. It is the spiritual intellect. Just because great numbers of people call emotions and personal preferences intuition does not alter the fact of its reality. Again, we can only know it if we have genuinely dedicated ourselves to God and sincerely seek to do his will. I agree with all you say about Jones worshipping Jones when he seeks the God within but I think if we bow to the Creator in our hearts, as well as seeking him within, we will be all right. But, yes, God out there always comes before God in here. He's in both places though.

It all depends on humility, I suppose. If we have that, we should be protected against the grosser spiritual errors. If we don't, well, you know!

But I do acknowledge concerns about 'going within'. It is risky but it's probably a risk we have to take if we are to grow as we should. It's a tightrope but if we fall we have only ourselves to blame.

Wurmbrand said...

William, would you say that only the person who goes within can know if he has really found the truth, and he knows this by the intuition of which you speak?

I'm not looking to debate with you so much as to understand what you're saying.

I take it from what you say that someone else can, sometimes, tell if someone else is not speaking from the truth; you're able to discern this of Merkel, Winfrey, et al. But you evidently take this much farther; there's no real outer support nowadays, in England. This seems to me to dismiss what I would suppose is still many Christian brothers and sisters; they cannot offer you support.

I would think that the humility of which you speak, however more profound it must be than this, should include a humble acceptance of people who profess the Faith and evidently try to live by it, as brothers and sisters in Christ (so far as one is able to judge -- of course only God knows the heart). There would, then, be some support possible, however flawed any given Christian, including oneself, is.

We cannot and must not judge other people's hearts, but we can judge confessions of faith, in the sense that someone does or doesn't confess the Holy Trinity. Belief in the creeds, the administration of Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar, the preaching of Christ's cross and resurrection, the hope of our own resurrection, etc. would be marks by which we could perceive that, yes, there was support for us there, and there were those who we, in turn, can support on this pilgrimage.

So I'm wondering how close all this is to what you mean to say.

I think, myself, that in our time humility is, indeed, as you say, called for, and we should not look to scale the heights that we may associate with the saints, but we can be encouraged by their example, by those of faithful Christians of less spectacular life (I just finished the Autobiography of Richard Baxter, for example), and by the aforesaid brothers and sisters.

I hope you'll say more about all this. Thanks.

Bruce Charlton said...

Unless a person's Christian faith has been entirely unconsciously absorbed in a situation where there was no alternative - every Christian faith will be based upon at least one intuition...

For example that the priesthood of a specific church is the source of truth, or the interpretation of the Bible taught by another church is authoritative etc. Having made that single intuition - to trust the goodness and rightness of an institution utterly - everything else may be taken on authority.

But that same intuition tells us that - here and now - the authority of actually-existing churches is in many specific points unsupported/ contradicted by intuition.

Therefore, external sources of authority are subject to our personal intuition.

Or, to put it another way, this is an extension of the core Reformation insight that nothing necessary stands between a man and God - the communication is direct, not mediated via any human authority.

That is intuition - direct communication.

Churches may help, or - more often, nowadays in the West - hinder; a specific priest or pastor may help or hinder; but God's speaking with each directly is the ultimate authority and arbiter.

And this is made possible by God being both within us (because we are God's children) and outside of us (God is the creator).

William Wildblood said...

What Bruce says is what I meant only better put. Intuition is God's voice within us. He speaks to us outwardly through revelation and true religion and inwardly directly. Just because many people mistake their own voice for God's does not invalidate that. It just means they have a lot of work to do.

William Wildblood said...

Wurmbrand, I'm not sure what is happening with the comments here but I only saw your second one this morning (for me in England) well after posting my second comment last night even though it appears to have been posted an hour before. Anyway, here is my reply to your second comment.

By outer support I mean official public religion which, for me at any rate, seems much diminished in spiritual power, almost as if the further away you get from the source the weaker it becomes unless reinvigorated by saints. But I certainly don't reject support by other individuals, brothers and sisters in Christ as you say, not at all. I personally have found great support from writers and commenters on this very blog and elsewhere too. And if I didn't think I might be able to offer some small modicum of support myself to others struggling, as we all are nowadays, in the swamp of materialism and atheism, I wouldn't bother writing here, though that is to clarify my own thoughts as well.

So, I am not meaning to reject help and advice from fellow travelers (to use a term stolen from a very different context!) in in the slightest. We can't do without it.

But, all that having been said, I still think that we have to develop our own spiritual faculties. I think God wishes that because he wants us to become more like him. We are made in his image but, as yet, that image is only half-formed. We can only really know him when we start to become like him and that does mean sharpening our intuitive perception which is basically a sort of direct (albeit limited) insight into the mind of God.

If we are fortunate enough to find full spiritual support in a religion or a community, that's wonderful though even then we cannot just be passive. We always have to exercise our own discernment and discrimination. But the fact is many people just can't do that nowadays or, if they can, they reach a point when spiritual hunger pushes them to go further. I would never deny the risks of going by intuition and it should certainly be checked and balanced by scripture and revelation. However, I do feel it can also supplement, interpret and deepen one's understanding of these. After all, Christ did say that he had much more to say to his disciples but they couldn’t yet bear it.

This is what I think anyway!

Wurmbrand said...

William, thanks for taking time to respond to my second as well as first message.

I'll conclude my responses to this posting with a few thoughts, to which you may wish to respond.

I try to imagine myself as a first-century inquirer -- let's say, as a gentile with an interest in sacred writings, cults, etc. I've been impressed by the survival of the Jews as a distinct people whose cultus is centered around "Moses and the prophets." They seem strange to me, but their persistence over against both the localism of some pagans and the syncretism of others impresses me. Their insistence on one God who must not be depicted contrasts in a way that fascinates me with the familiar depictions of the many gods and their carnal loves.

I have become aware, further, that one group of Jews welcomes gentiles, as brothers, when they are baptized, having pledged themselves and their families to Jesus, whom they say has executed most shamefully on a cross, but rose again, appearing to hundreds of His disciples, who are the core of a community of followers of His way.

They meet on the first day of the week to worship Him, to pray for themselves and all people, to distribute goods as others have genuine need, to expound the Hebrew scriptures, which, they say, have been fulfilled in our own time. They partake of a rite involving bread and wine, but which they say is a communion of the body and blood of the risen Lord. I note that they are often calumniated, but in my experience the accusations made against them seem doubtful.

So I'm intrigued, and learn that they teach and, when someone is ready, he may be baptized into their brotherhood, which they conceive to be a real life in their Lord. Likewise one's little children may be baptized, etc. My inquiries lead me to learn that they have no notion of someone being a follower of the way, without participation in their common life, as if one were a solitary student of, say, Plato.

So that's a scenario that seems to me to be historically accurate. In later centuries some Christians did, to be sure, become hermits, but their Christian life never started in solitude. You never hear that someone baptized himself, and I think it would be many centuries before you would hear of private masses, which were criticized as an innovation.

In recent times, in (for example) the Soviet era, Christian life might be conducted out of sight of the authorities, and in locations other than church buildings, but it did not become an essentially solitary thing, except in a temporary emergency (e.g. let's say a young Christian man being a sailor on a military ship).

It would seem that such church-life must continue even though one also, to be sure, attempts to live a pious life when away from the fellowship, too.

William Wildblood said...

I'm not sure what to say in response because what you write is undoubtedly historically true. But it's hardly the scenario that prevails nowadays and that's the problem. Maybe my experience is different, growing up in the Church of England in a country in which religion has long ceased to be taken seriously even by many of the people who still call themselves religious as far as I can tell.

But also I would point to the difference, often remarked on in these posts, between salvation and theosis. Maybe for the former a community-based life and faith is enough. In fact I'm sure it is if followed seriously. But the latter I think does require something more and that's what I am most interested in. To really become what God wants us to be we have to learn to transfer what I'm afraid I have to call our centre of consciousness from a merely human to a higher level and that does demand the cultivation of direct spiritual insight.

But this post is actually about the deviations of modernity and how to counter them. Too many contemporary forms of religion go along with or, at least, don't sufficiently stand out from them, and that's the problem I sought to address with this question of a lack of outer support.

I think we probably agree a lot more than we disagree and even the disagreements are just slightly different approaches to the same end. Thanks for taking the trouble to comment on this post. I do appreciate your questions which make me think about my own assumptions.

Wurmbrand said...

Thank you, William!

Moose Thompson said...

Excellent post William. Reading through the comments I get a sense that some are uncomfortable relying on intuition and personal revelation to seek God over tradition and Christian orthodoxy. Both William and Bruce are promoting ideas that would be branded heretical and damnable according to (at least) the dominant Christian traditions. So those of us brought up in such traditions are understandably tentative especially given the weaknesses we perceive in our human nature.

On the other hand, times are changing and traditional worldviews are articulated in modern ears alongside a plethora of other worldviews, some of which are more comprehensive in explanatory power and relevance to modern life. Tradition is failing the more the culture is fragmented. But we can still see the paradigm given by society to replace tradition, namely scientific materialism, is false and dangerous. You and Bruce do make a powerful case for a sort of inner Christianity.

Now if you are correct in that we are to rely more on intuition in this era, this begs the question, what was Christ's intention for the church given the development of Orthodoxy as we know it? In other words if we can find a deeper truth within than in the external traditions, then why historically speaking did God allow the development of the external orthodox tradition that isn't entirely true?

I suppose the simple answer is that the traditions needed to spread and be sustained over generations to have lasting influence. Apparently humanity heretofore hasn't been ready for a more direct form of Christianity. I suppose an incubation period was required? I'm just curious if you have any thoughts on this question.

Wurmbrand said...

Moose, a question for you.

I mean no offense, but your remark leaves me thinking: "What about the kids?"

It seems very characteristic of the modernity that people here at AW do not like, to have little interest in or regard for the atmosphere in which such few children, as are still being born, grow up. Women wait till the shadow of menopause is on the horizon and then conceive some poor kid who, supposing he is not aborted, will wear purple and be put in daycare at 8 hours' age. Meanwhile the adults are free to follow the dreams that have been, in fact, implanted in them.

But I think too much commentary here, and I might as well pounce on yours, is also written without reference to the children. So if it's all about intuition, what, if anything, are the kids to be taught? It really is not satisfactory for me to teach my child simply that this is what seems to me, intuitively, to be true. What -IS- true? What must be passed on for kids to learn? I think they need to be taught the Creeds (Apostles' is easy to memorize, and they should be familiar with the Nicene),
the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, selected Bible verses and Psalms, etc. Isn't there, in fact, a great deal they must be taught, so that as they grow they can test what they are told outside the home, can test their feelings, etc.?

I am conscious of a feeling of impatience regarding talk of cultural renewal that sounds like something to be done, in fact, not only by, but for, a lot of highly-educated adults who appear never to think of... the kids. So, over to you, Moose, and anyone else willing to think with me about these things.

William Wildblood said...

I think we are living at a time when the old order is changing and a new order must develop. But the new must be built on the old as the New Testament was built on the Old Testament. Much of what I have been writing about here and elsewhere is to do with the fact that modernism rightly thinks that change is required but wrongly, indeed very wrongly, thinks it must come by brushing away and ignoring the past.

We can only progress from past ways and start to build the truth of God into ourselves rather than rely on it outwardly from tradition, authority etc when we have fully absorbed the lessons of tradition and authority. If we reject them, as the contemporary world appears to have done, we are much worse off.

So intuition and personal revelation must deepen tradition. If they go against it or reject it then they are wrong. But in that case it is false intuition and false personal revelation, and the history of New Age teaching is littered with those.

So, as I said, it's a tightrope but I still think it's one we must walk. It's why anyone who walks this path has to be extra careful and really take the necessity for humility seriously. Of course, nothing is really new and all we are required to do now is what many of the saints have already done which is to take Christ's teaching completely to heart. In the past simple faith might have been enough but now faith, while still essential, has to be supplemented by greater understanding and a requirement to enter more deeply into the life of the spirit.

I don't know if the churches can adapt to that. At the moment they don't seem to be doing so and it's possible that they may have to be cut right back so that eventually greater growth can take place. The church will surely continue to exist because it does guard the public truth of Christianity and you can't just have lots of individuals doing their own thing. You need a community and a central body. But it may have to be drastically pruned and perhaps even have a grafting of something else to reinvigorate the stock. I don't know about that. I do know that nothing stays the same and God does want us to go further up and further in.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - "So, as I said, it's a tightrope but I still think it's one we must walk. "

Yes, it's a tightrope in the sense that perils lie on both sides; however that applies to All Possible Options - certainly it applies to actually-exisiting churches.

The church Is Not A Safe Path!(Whether any actual church ever has been a safe path is doubtful, but leave that aside.)

Those who criticise and warn non-institutional Christians and threaten dire hazards, are doing so from an equally or more hazardous and difficult position - which is, trying to be a real Christian *within* an actually-existing Modern Institutions... that is *also* called a church.

To talk about church membership and obedience to church authority as if these represented a kind of hazard-free, easy route to salvation and theosis is absurd and dishonest, as it obvious to anyone with eyes!

We may yearn for simplicity, to escape from difficult discernment, to hand-over personal responsibility to authority; but this yearning is itself a snare insofar as these things are sought for in this-worldly institutions; all imperfect, some very corrupt.

Life just is, and is meant to be, difficult - a matter of experiencing and learning. 'The path' is that direction we strive for - it isn't really like a tightrope. To try and avoid hazard is itself one of the hazards - because it is a delusion.

Christianity just-is a middle way kind of religion; not a compromise, but one in which both extremes are wrong and to hold to a narrow path, or rope, without stepping-off is impossible and undesirable.

(And the attempt to do this and enforce this; is infantilizing, paralysing, and an evasion of God's purpose in creation.)

Repentance of sin is the heart of the Christian life, not freedom from sin, not inerrancy.

Moose Thompson said...

Wurmbrand - excellent question, one that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Unfortunately I don't have a good answer, but I will share a few thoughts with you.

Practically speaking, most likely I will find a church that I don't disagree with too much to send my children to and raise them in that tradition. I actually don't think an esoteric path is for most people at least at historically this has been the case. Traditionalists distinguish between exoteric and esoteric religion which can be helpful. I simply don't think its possible for many adults to understand certain things by having it explained to them, let alone children. The external structures are probably necessary.

It follows then that we should hope that the traditions would persist. As for new types of traditions or communities developing, I really don't know and feel to say anything on that matter would be beyond speculating.

As WW says however, a simple faith may not be enough. A child growing up in the modern world, unless sheltered will come into contact with a confusing myriad of influences. I view the modern world pushing mostly spiritual poison, so it is a scary and onerous consideration for parents. I would hope there is way to innoculate children against things like worldliness, materialism, scientism, nihilism/meaninglessness, selfishness/amorality, dishonesty, pornography, drugs, advertising, economic exploitation and so on. Likewise I would hope to instill in my children several moral and metaphysical principles and a worldview at odds with the nihilistic scientism.

I tend to think that the modern world presents an illusory picture of the world and the good life to people, one that fails to satisfy and leads to pain if assimilated. It may be (and I'm speculating a bit here) that there is purpose in this. That it is seeing the reality through the illusion that we grow and come into a deeper contact with reality. It may be that younger generations will be prodded more intensely to wake up from the matrix to the benefit of their souls. We can hope, but of course I really don't know.

In any case I would love to hear any ideas you or anyone else may have on raising children in the modern world. Parenting seems like it will be walking a tightrope indeed.

William Wildblood said...

Wurmbrand, your question certainly is an excellent one and it's concerned me a lot. I have two children, now aged 16 and 12. Naturally I've wanted to bring them up with a religious understanding and we did go to church on most Sundays when they were younger though now its more high days and holidays. I've never tried to push my beliefs onto them but I wanted them to have a thorough grounding in Christianity because if you don't have that as a basic foundation then the more, for want of a better word, esoteric or intuitive stuff is just dangerous and can easily lead you astray. I gave them children's versions (with good illustrations, important, I think) of the Bible and taught them the Lord's Prayer and the Creed. I got them to watch films like Jesus of Nazareth and even Ben Hur! All that is important I think.

Now the 16 year old unfortunately has little time for religion because she's more caught up in 'reality', i.e. school work and the horrible social media they all get sucked into. God is not 'cool' but we still talk occasionally about prayer and I try to tell her that she should keep it up when she goes to bed, even if it's just to thank God for what he's done for her during the day and ask him to watch over her. Very simple things but that's where you've got to start and maybe, in fact, that's where you end up too.

What I am trying to say is that children must be exposed to religion to counter what Moose rightly calls the spiritual poison of the modern world and I think it should be standard Christianity, nothing fancy or out of the ordinary. Then when they get older they can make their own choices based on their current perceptions. But they really must have the basics and or else it will be very hard for them to walk a straight path. I was fortunate enough growing up to go to a school in which morning prayers and hymn singing took place. I didn't take it that seriously at the time but now I realise it gave me an invaluable grounding in real things, things which modern children just don't have.

Wurmbrand said...

Moose, you asked if (and others) had thoughts on "What about the kids?"

Here are some of mine -- maybe you'd like to say what you think about some of them.

1.Their parents are intended to be the most important teachers for young children, at least, but young children don't think in the abstract, much, at least. They respond to narratives and to what they see. When you dependably take your children to church every week, you are conveying to them, powerfully, that this matters. This is what we do. They need to internalize that before they are of an age to start asking questions about why we do this. They need to hear the sacred history that, if they are baptized, they belong to. It's probably good for them if there is, in the home, what the Orthodox call a "beautiful corner," with the Bible and icons or other pictures that relate to biblical tradition. Of course they need to be accustomed to table prayers, prayer before setting out on a journey, prayer at bedtime, &c. It is probably good if much of this prayer is in a set form of words.

A Bible verse that I often think of is Deuteronomy 29:29: "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and unto our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."

2.It's probably good if, on the one hand, the young children do not hear their parents criticizing the pastor, the choir, etc., and, on the other, if they are not afraid of parental anger if they say something "irreverent" about what they saw at church.

Parents have to decide if Sunday School (if it is offered at their church) would be good for the children. It's a relatively recent feature of the church, so far as I know, and not commanded by God. It can be good; I'm just not sure it always is.

"...not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the Day approaching" (Epistle to the Hebrews 10:25).

3.They need to learn the concept of sin, in ways that are suitable to their age and experience. We must think we are smarter than Jesus if we think "sin" is an outdated concept.

Wurmbrand said...

(continuing to respond to you, Moose)

4.It's probably good, if one can, to have lots of time with the children in the outdoors -- not necessarily with the idea of "bringing up" matters of the Faith, but because, after all, that gets them away from the highly processed images of popular entertainment and social media, etc.

5.The Christian faith is more, but it isn't less, than a matter of words, spoken especially as well as written, so let the children love to hear their parents' voices. The children must be told what to do and what not to do at times, but they should often hear their parents speaking in a well-mannered, unaffected way to one another and to them. It should be a normal, everyday thing for them to talk unhurriedly with their parents, which implies an ascetic endeavor by the parents who will have to restrict their own time with television, social media, and so on. But when we are on our deathbeds, we will not look back with bitter regret at the time we could have spent online. Happy those dying people whose children will be there at the deathbed, with words of Christian comfort and unhurried presence. To go from there to the Master's presence: "Well done, good and faithful servant" -- now that would be something.

C.W. Bradley said...

The idea that modernity has a divine impulse behind it and is part of a natural cycle – rather than being an aberration – makes sense. It explains why modernity has been so powerful.

I want to believe that evolution of consciousness is a good thing, but I just can’t. If there had been no Fall, it would be wholly good but now it seems like human beings have gone wrong at such a fundamental level that modernity will just be a disaster; something to get through with as little destruction as possible rather than an opportunity (I shudder to think what the Transhumanists would do with higher consciousness).

When I look at myself (or the state of humanity in general), I am certain that I (and most other people) am not ready to turn within and be our own spiritual support.

Perhaps (just as this post suggests regarding reincarnation only a few (such as the saintly, the nearly so, or those with a special destiny) are meant to develop their spiritual intuition and individual discernment. The challenge of modernity may be something quite different for the rest of us.

William Wildblood said...

C.W. Bradley, your remark makes me think that perhaps the truth is that modernity really does have a divine impulse behind it but is also an aberration. That is to say, the impulse has been wrongly reacted to and mistranslated to the material level when it should have been applied spiritually, if not straightaway then very quickly. Perhaps you’re also right that it is the consequences of the Fall that has done this.

Nevertheless, the opportunity is there for those who wish to grasp it. I don’t mean that we should rely completely on ourselves. Only that we should rely a lot more on ourselves than previous generations may have needed to. This could all be an experiment and a test. Maybe we are in the process of taking some kind of exam.

Bruce Charlton said...


"Perhaps ... only a few (such as the saintly, the nearly so, or those with a special destiny) are meant to develop their spiritual intuition and individual discernment. "

I don't think it has anything to do with being saintly - Jesus Christ offered us salvation on very 'easy terms'; belief on him. We are not meant to spend our lives on worrying about salvation (we have it if we want it and are prepared to pay the price of repentance); but on getting on with the job of leaning to be better sons and daughters of God, becoming more god-like.

God is conscious of everything, nothing is unconscious to him. From this we infer that that entails being 'born again' which means (I think, partly) not simply passively accepting; but awakening to become aware of what we are doing, of our sins and other errors, of the choices that confront us, making conscious choices... Knowing that we know.

Unless we become conscious, active, and know things explicitly in our thinking - then we are increasingly likely to be manipulated into sin and error, sleepwalked into self-damnation.