Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Vectors And Churches

     Lately the days on which I feel there’s little or no point producing a piece for Liberty’s Torch have been more frequent than not. Sometimes I manage to emit something despite that “what’s the use?” feeling. Sometimes I resurrect something from my immense archives. Sometimes I simply declare a day off and absent myself to other duties and pleasures. The common factor is the sense that what I’m doing here achieves essentially nothing.

     It’s worse when the email-bag bulges with denunciations and vilifications. I’m fairly good at shrugging them off, but there’s still something disheartening about the weight of them. Are that many people that perfectly convinced that anyone who disagrees with them must be evil? And does that large a fraction of them have enough bile to spend it on so minor a figure as I? Don’t these folks have anything better to do with their time?

     I know, I know: What’s the point of asking rhetorical questions? But this is the perennial malady of the thinker: when there’s nothing substantive to ponder, he ponders crap like this.

     All the same, now and then this process will allow me to sift a nugget out of the midden. Today, it comes from our beloved Ace:

     Half of America now consists of barely-functional lunatics, and it's best to avoid them for all sorts of reasons....

     Sometimes I pass on stories the lunatics are gibbering about. This Trump Tower in Russia deal, for example. It's not actually laziness -- it would be easy enough just to link it and say "This is probably bullshit." I just did a very easy link in the previous post.

     Takes no time or effort.

     But I sort of would like to do more than that -- by which I mean doing less. Rather than even acknowledging these stories and putting up some kind of half-thought rebuttal to them, I'd like to do more.

     By doing less. By not even acknowledging them.

     The man’s got something there. Giving head space to the ravings of the mentally ill does not serve any positive interest. Inasmuch as those aforementioned lunatics shriek their gibberish over channels devoted to such things, one might logically conclude that those who want to know about them have the means. There’s no need to add any further bandwidth to the dissemination of their ravings.

     Moreover, Ace’s attitude strikes me as better than any alternative:

     As I do not wish to be infected by the viral lunacy consuming half of this country, so too do I not wish to be a vector of that lunacy, infecting other people.

     If this crap is contagious, best not to spread it around, right?

     Which brings me to the subject of churches.

     If you’ve never read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer, it should be at the very top of your to-be-read list. Hoffer’s analysis of the typical mass movement as “a compact and unified church” explains the behavior of those who enlist in such a movement with absolute accuracy. His many observations about the organization of such movements and the attitudes they inculcate and reinforce point to the essence of the contemporary mass phenomenon: it is religious in nature.

     The function of a religious congregation is to provide “a home” for those who accept the religion. Such a “home” has two functions above all others:

  • The presence of others reassures the individual believers that their belief is acceptable;
  • Similarly, the community of believers reinforces that belief by the weight of its numbers.

     The less well substantiated the belief, the more important to its adoption, retention, and perpetuation is the congregation. Consider any contemporary religion – yes, including mine – and ask yourself how long an individual believer, separated from all his fellows, could hold out against the adverse opinions of those around him. I’m here to tell you: it takes more strength of conviction than you’d find in 99% of Mankind.

     The congregation isn’t an important vector for its creed; that would require nonbelievers to immerse themselves in the congregation, which doesn’t happen often. However, the existence of the congregation provides doctrinal reassurance to the individual believer: if he’s at all evangelically inclined, it will assist him in his efforts to make converts.

     The American Left is such a congregation. Its social aspect is critical to its endurance; leftists associate almost exclusively with other leftists. Not only does that “keep the faithful in the pews;” it also precludes “contamination” by propositions antithetical to the Left’s doctrines. Note how neatly this meshes with the Left’s strategy of colonizing large organizations and rendering them hostile to any opinions other than those it approves.

     When the contemporary Right started to coalesce, largely through the agencies of talk radio and the Internet, the Left’s church felt threatened for the first time since the New Deal. That’s the natural behavior of churches with mutually contradictory doctrines. Political churches, unlike the sort associated with more conventional faiths, will see one another as enemies to be fought. The prevailing ethical levels among the respective congregations will determine which side chooses what tactics, and what responses they’ll evoke.

     It is noteworthy that today’s Leftists and Rightists are largely unsuccessful at spreading their faith. The uninvolved have come to regard both as too noisome to bother with, despite the enduring differences in civility of their congregants. So the battle is between two “compact and unified” faiths, neither of which has a Chinaman’s chance of making converts from the other side and precious little more of adding to its numbers from the uninvolved.

     In this we see an echo of the 2016 presidential election. Though he ran as a Republican, Donald Trump was openly unaffiliated with either church. He proposed policies and undertakings that both rejected. The uninvolved, with modest assistance from the church of the Right, elevated him to the White House, while “church ballots” gave Congressional majorities to more conventional Republicans. That gave us the current situation in Washington, where the Republicans on Capitol Hill exhibit a distinct disinclination to collaborate with “their” president. The frustration of those who supported Trump and his prescriptions is considerable.

     Party politics, including the doctrines promulgated via party platforms, has been largely neutralized by ideological schisms. The clearest doctrinal battles are now at lower levels: the state governments, which are largely Republican-dominated. (A brief look at Texas and California tells us all we need to know about them.) It is from the state level that the doctrinal vectors of the next couple of decades will emerge, as state governors and legislators who’ve achieved some success attempt to bring their policies to the federal level. Meanwhile, the “established churches” of Left and Right will likely remain locked in a standstill until new forces arise to render them irrelevant. Perhaps that’s as it should be. For those of us who merely want to live quietly, the path of prudence just might be to stand off from all of it...preferably well armed.


Don K said...

I rarely comment, for I usually feel I have nothing substantive to add to your ideas.Your defense of Christianity is OK with me, but not so much Catholicism itself. But those are your beliefs. I respect them. Your comment regarding the weight of negative comments reminded me that it was the weight of negative comments comments that helped bring about the demise of Steven den Beste's wonderful blog.

I read your blog daily. I believe you have something to say. I use some of your ideas as grist for my rhetorical mill when I have occasion to engage those on the left.

The number of blogs I read is diminishing. Like you, I am coming to the realization that all the words we expend matter little. The Deep State is gonna do what the Deep State is gonna do. Even the Heroic Trump is having difficulty, And...he is in the position where his words really do matter. Frequently.

I will continue to read your thoughtful blog until that day when you say: "What the Hell..."

syd B. said...

Your thought that you are not making a difference is rubbish. You have a gift of deep intellect and a rare skill of communicating your thoughts. Combine that with your clear view of the world and you're the Progressives' worst nightmare. I can't tell you how many times I've copied your words (always giving appropriate credit) and pasted them in various forums to either bolster a point or to introduce your views to others. I don't believe I am alone in doing this, so your words are being seen by many more than just your loyal readers here.

With all that is going on at the moment and the left's all out attack on democracy, I would say your platform has never been more important. So, enough with the self pity and get on with what you do like nobody else, in my opinion. Use truth, common sense and at times, a heavy dose of humor, to enlighten.

God Bless.

Christian Mountaineer said...

You do not need to publish this (it is your site anyway! :). I hear your groanings concerning the Catholic church. I hear complaints from people in the thousands of denominations (I have read studies that state there are and estimated 25,000 to 30,000 denominations in the U.S. alone). 30,000 ways to worship God in the way "PEOPLE" choose. The scriptures state that there is one hope, one faith, one baptism. The scriptures state that there is only one gospel:
Galatians 1
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

The complete gospel had already been taught by this time (v 8.) The Koine Greek parsing supports this. Even if a supposed angel would teach mankind something different...we are to disregard it. A few examples of people stating that an angel told them; Mohammed. Joseph Smith. The inspired Paul tells us to pay no attention to false teachers but cling to the truth which has already been taught. My wife was raised to be a faithful Catholic, but around 19 years old (before I knew her) she began to notice huge discrepancies between the scriptures and the Catholic dogma. She mentioned this to her boss and they had a Bible study series. She went to several local priests etc. with scriptural questions. Each one told her to pray about it. They could not give a scriptural answer. This ignited my wife's search for truth. She found it. It was difficult to find...and it still is. Lot's of great people in the denominations. However they have one thing in common to which I will refer to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “God offers to every mind a choice between repose and truth. take which you please--you can never have both." I stumbled onto this quote over 20 years ago and it confused me. It was making a comparison between truth and repose. I knew what truth was, but this "repose?" Anyway I finally found the 1800's definition of repose: "Trusting someone to tell you the truth"
We are to always be wary that someone may be teaching falsehoods... even back when the gospel was taught:
1John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
A person has to know the truth in order to spot falsehood.
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

Matthew 22:29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.

Anyway, hope this helped.

Reg T said...

Fran, I'd like to make two points: first, I was raised as a Catholic (French Canadian family which moved to New England) but left the Church at the age of 14 (we've discussed the reasons before, not need to repeat them here). My first wife attended Catholic services in San Diego where we lived, and I attended with her for the first year of our marriage (1985-1986). At that time, what I saw is echoed very loudly in Mountaneer's comment above - "10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."

What I saw was a change in the services from what I believe was the true gospel to what the Church thought would "please man", perhaps in filling the pews that were becoming emptier as time went on, part of which was the change to the vernacular, instead of following along with the English translation in the missal (which I enjoyed enough to cause me to take Latin in junior high and high school). It certainly did not encourage me to return to the faith. This was even before I saw the first example of a "folk mass", with guitars, and the "kiss of peace" crap - I refused to swap spit with the rest of the congregation - that was part of one service I attended with my first wife (my last mass, as I recall, and as an aside, I have been with my second wife for 23 years and until death do us part).

Second, I sort of agree about the Left and Right being religions, although I think the Left operates more as a cult. I think the Right is more of an actual religion, entailing principles of value which relate to the Golden Rule, the notion of the rights of the individual, and the worship - if I may - of the Judeo-Christian moral code, even by those of us who are agnostics and atheists. [Allow me to insert that the 6th Commandment was in fact "Thou shalt not murder", NOT "Thou shalt not kill" - I am completely comfortable with killing those who need it, if I ever run across one (or more) of them. Child molesters come to mind. Or those who would harm those I love, no matter what clothing or uniform they might wear.]

My 88 year old step-mother, whom I love dearly, is a member of the cult. She has decided to hate Sarah Palin, and now Trump, not for any factual reasons, but because her cult hates them, and she takes it on "faith" that there are good reasons to hate him, including of course some of the lies that have been written and spoken on TV about them. Strangely enough, she has never had a bad thing to say about John McCain. She must have accepted that he is actually a member of her cult, and I she would be correct in her assumption, if she indeed holds that belief, although she has never mentioned him.

Of course, RINOs are merely an off-shoot of the cult, somewhat like preachers who eschew the robes and collars of established religions, holding forth in the same clothes as their supplicants (although often costing _many_ times the price of their clothes), preaching a faith that _sounds_ different in many ways, but worships the same ends.

Please don't stop writing. While I may not always come to quite the same conclusions as you do, you make me think, and clarify issues for me in a way others do not. I would sorely miss reading what you have to say.