Andrew Fellows interacts with Abraham Heschel’s book “The Sabbath” and builds a theology of rest by looking at how we interact with space and time.
“Both belief and doubt have become increasingly fragile as individuals inhabit a liminal space between the two.”
Andy Patton, L’Abri
“The leaders must lie to the masses, and those lies must be captivating so that the masses will beg for more. The alternative is to stare reality in the face with no protection by way of self-serving myths. That existential confrontation is deathly and suitable only for the marginalized. Mass society itself is possible only if the majority is put to bed by a lullaby, otherwise called the myth that defines the population’s cultural identity.”
– Benjamin Cain,
Civilization requires Myths, and Myths are Absurd
Benjamin Cain’s blog Rants within the undead god is a disturbing – but important read.
Civilization requires Myths, and Myths are Absurd
“An unsettling implication of this hypothesis, that every large population holds itself together by suspending disbelief in a cultural fiction, is that even the so-called modern, secular West depends on myths in that respect… because these myths are fictions, they’re necessarily preposterous when viewed from an outsider’s vantage point… Moreover, in so far as you can be sociologically objective about all such myths, including the domestic ones, you can find yourself an alienated outsider to humanity in general, so that the conventional way of life that happens right in your midst will likewise seem as absurd as the one you’d find in a remote land or time.”
“In reality, the chance to exercise power over others attracts not the best but the worst members of society, namely psychopaths. Decent individuals would abhor the opportunity to dominate others, fearing that such a temptation would naturally corrupt their character. Meanwhile, zealots with the most ambition who leap at the chance to “serve” the nation or the market are actually the most likely to be inwardly monstrous. Outwardly, these “leaders” will be attractive, since the electoral and promotional processes are superficial, but ethically the winners will be disproportionately predatory or parasitic.”
“Abstract systems dominate in the bureaucratic jargon of businesses and governments, in the dehumanizing rhetoric of militaries, and in the mass production of merchandise.
“Take, for example, Big Agriculture’s practice of torturing millions upon millions of domesticated beasts to cut down on the costs of feeding pampered, short-sighted consumers such as you and me. Pig farmers keep sows in isolated gestation crates that are so small, the sows can’t turn around. The female pigs spend their entire life in these steel crates, except for the brief periods twice a year when they give birth. Whereas medieval peasants had no conception of the brain’s importance to the mind, biologists today understand that pigs are highly intelligent and social animals, so that we have no such excuse for failing to realize that not being able to turn around or interact with other pigs must constitute torture for those animals.
“…we sophisticated modern folk imprison and torture pigs because our myths enable us to regard the animals as machines whose suffering serves a greater good… whereas consumer societies delegate farming to huge corporations that serve not God’s laws but the capitalistic imperative to struggle greedily to maximize profit. The gestation crates are kept from public view, so that most moderns never see living pigs. All we care about are the products we pay for, the bacon and hamburgers and ribs… (It is) the modern penchant for abstract systems which blinds us to the anomalousness and thus the preciousness of life… Living pigs are not really objects or machines; they’re just mistreated as such by faceless corporations that compartmentalize unpleasant truths. . And if modernity is defined by the myth that capitalism matters more than traditional spirituality, the inhumane practice of torturing millions of animals for the mass production of food will continue as though we needn’t be ashamed of it, just as the practice of animal trials persisted for centuries because the medievals didn’t know better.
– Benjamin Cain. [Read the full article at:
Article by Richard Norman in New Humanist.
“Listen to the cry of a woman in labor at the hour of giving birth – look at the dying man’s struggle at his last extremity, and then tell me whether something that begins and ends thus could be intended for enjoyment.”
– Soren Kierkegaard
In his essay The Travesty of Self-Help Advice the blogger Benjamin Cain (“Rants within the undead God”) rips into self-help charlatans. You could throw in your Word of Faith televangelists here too: his essay is incisive and unsparing. An important riposte to all the insufferable motivational mumbo jumbo. Mind you: Cain is scathing about religion in general, and yet I welcome his rant.
“Outside of the academy, self-help platitudes have largely substituted for philosophical literature. This is both pitiful and fortunate. The pity is that the advice peddled by self-help writers is abysmal…”
“If the masses of sheeple are happy, because they’re uninformed and indoctrinated with self-help claptrap, it would be as rude to wake them as it would be to spoil a child’s fantasy about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.”
“…the self-help garbling of philosophy is meant to provide excuses for the sociopathy of the richest one percent. When translated into a reality-based form, minus the veneer of happy-talking obfuscation, the self-help advice is to believe we’re permitted to be anything at all, even something monstrous such as the sociopaths who have “earned” the greatest success in business or politics…”
“Thus in self-help fantasyland it’s heads I win, tails you lose. If you want to be an astronaut and you happen to be one of the very few who succeed in that endeavour, a self-help charlatan would depict you as being basked in the further glory of having “stayed true to your heart,” of not giving up and so forth, forgetting the ever-present luck factor in everything that transpires. But if you fail, and most of us would, that’s because you gave up too soon…”
“The hidden significance of this piece of advice is that it follows the liar’s maxim to wrap the lie in the truth, to disguise the dishonest intention… the charlatan slides from saying that we create our inner world, to saying that we create our outer one too, which would be magical. You can “change your thoughts,” but according to the advice you likewise “have the capacity to change your emotions and also your reality” (my emphasis). The latter part is just tacked on, but the gibberish metaphysics is supposed to fill in the gap. Thus, if you focus on what you want, the “Law of Attraction” will kick in, which works like a magnet for spirituality and morality.”
“What passes for self-help wisdom and thus for philosophy, for the nonphilosophical masses is a travesty. But the content of self-help advice should be distinguished from its function. What self-help gurus say is laughable, but the effect of these lessons must be to reinforce the more appalling aspects of Western culture that aren’t self-justifying. In short, the powerful few co-opt philosophy, religion, and any other source of information, spinning a narrative to defuse the potential for resistance to their domination.”
“…the self-help charlatan’s job is obviously just to cash in on mass ignorance.”
“What Pascal overlooked was the hair-raising possibility that God might out-Luther Luther. A special area in hell might be reserved for those who go to mass. Or God might punish those whose faith is prompted by prudence. Perhaps God prefers the abstinent to those who whore around with some denomination he despises. Perhaps he reserves special rewards for those who deny themselves the comfort of belief. Perhaps the intellectual ascetic will win all while those who compromised their intellectual integrity lose everything.”
– Walter Kaufmann, Critique of Religion and Philosophy