Thursday, 26 February 2015

Addicted to Distraction - Psychological consequences of the Mass Media by Bruce G Charlton - available online

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My most recent book is now available online, complete - 26,000 worda approximately.

If you want to read it, I recommend you copy, paste, maybe edit - then print out.

http://addictedtodistraction.blogspot.co.uk/
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'Whether or not God exists' is a fake problem

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The modern question of 'whether God exists, or not' is a fake problem, a pseudo-problem.

We know that God exists.

(We all know this by revelation and experience; built-into us before we were born into this mortal life: We are born knowing it - and there never was any significant dispute about this obvious fact until very recently in human history.)

The proper question is what we do about it.

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God exists - but there is a choice concerning what we, personally, are going to do about the fact.

We do not have to be grateful to God for what He has done for us, nor do we have to love God. We can choose to blame God for what He has done for us, or not done; we can choose to hate God.

In other words, we can choose what side to be on: God's side; or not-God's side.

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We know that God exists, and we can only claim not to know God exists by also claiming ignorance of all the profoundest, deepest matters.

Modern Man has taken this route: modern Man has tried to escape the dichotomy of being either/or for/ against God by pretending not to know about God.

Having done so, modern Man finds that he is forced to deny knowledge of all Good.

Thus modern Man (who falsely claims 'not to know' whether or not God exists) is forced to be a 'relativist', indeed a nihilist; modern Man is forced to claim that truth, beauty and virtue are equally uncertain, as equally unreal, as he pretends God to be.

In denying the reality of God, modern Man denies even the possibility of meaning and purpose.  

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(Because if we cannot know the reality of God, we cannot - by exactly the same arguments - know the reality of Good. If God is merely an evidence-free subjective assertion, then so is Good.)

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The fake assertion that he 'does not know' whether or not God is real is the condition that stuns, dismays, paralyses modern Man - which makes him hate himself, his life, his civilisation - which drives him into self-distraction and self-delusion.

Behind this pretence-piled-upon-pretence; we all know that God exists: that is not the problem.

The true questions relate not to existence but to matters such as the nature of God, his motivations, his relation to us, our responsibilities and destiny; and the implications of the answers for our own un-evadable choice: pro or contra.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

My MA thesis is online, apparently

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Well, who'd have thunk it? My thesis The Literature of Alasdair Gray, which was awarded the degree of Magister Artium by the University of Durham, England in 1988 - is available online!

http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/6450/1/6450_3750.PDF

So you can all read it, and I will set a test next week...

It was a one year research degree in English Literature (like a mini-PhD), and I lived in University College, Durham - which is in a castle


And ate my meals at high table in the Hogwartsian Great Hall


It was certainly one of the most enjoyable years of my pre-married life - full of reading, arts, writing, ritual and good conversation - but got me into rather bad habits of self-indulgence and dependence on external stimulation; so that it was followed by a rather miserable 'down' from which I did not emerge for several years.

I thought my thesis was pretty good for just one year's work - the second half of it (the library work) was later published as a book chapter.

Strangely, although this year briefly made me into the world expert on Alasdair Gray; and although I later went to live near him in Glasgow, got to know him pretty well and helped him in little ways with several novels and plays; I haven't re-read anything of his for a long time or kept up with his later work... so it goes.

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Do geniuses spontaneously 'hijack' and deploy social intelligence to use in their creative thinking?

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/genius-and-social-intelligence-high.html
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Was Jesus really a scapegoat? Not essentially

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While there are some reasonable parallels to the analogy; Jesus was not really a scapegoat for Man.

Not, that is, one who was punished for the sins of others; not even one who was willingly punished for the sins of others (which a scape goat never really can be - at most the goat might placidly accept the unjust punishment).

Indeed it is dangerous to regard scapegoat as the master metaphor of what Christ did; because, surely, no matter how we try to spin it, we could never wholly accept the principle that it was right to punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty?

No - Christ was essentially the giver of great gifts, the bringer of great Goods; bringer of the good news.

He was one who added; not one who took-away.

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The necessity of genius

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/the-necessity-of-genius-for-societal.html
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40 years before Mencius Moldbug - Mormon Apostle Ezra Taft Benson describes 'The Cathedral'

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I was listening to a speech given in 1968 at Brigham Young University entitled "The Book of Mormon warns America" by Ezra Taft Benson - who was at the time an Apostle of the Mormon church, and later became the President.

http://www.latterdayconservative.com/ezra-taft-benson/the-book-of-mormon-warns-america/

http://speeches.byu.edu/index.php?act=viewitem&id=1619

This was at the height of the explicit culture wars, when the confrontation between the atheist New Left and traditional Christianity was at its most obvious - and before the Left had taken over all the large and powerful institutions.

From a perspective of 2015, this is a very remarkable speech - especially in terms of its tough, uncompromising, style. This was before political correctness made us accustomed the Right only being allowed to use euphemism and indirectness in prestigious public media and in open discourse - we are now easily shocked and scared by the upfront expression of common sense. Leftism was simply, and accurately, called Communism. Socially destructive Leftists were simply called 'traitors'.

(Sophisticated modern people have no concept of loyalty, so 'traitor' is a snigger-word.)

In terms of his analysis of how Leftism operates in America, Benson's analysis is essentially identical with that of the influential blogger Mencius Moldbug - the focus on communists and communist promoters in government agencies, the legal system, academia and the media (i.e. what Moldbug calls 'The Cathedral).

Here is a selection of quotations:

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The Book of Mormon points out how these ancient conspirators were able to fill the judgment seats, usurp power, destroy justice, condemn the righteous, and let the guilty and the wicked go unpunished. Do you see any parallel between this and the present-day decisions of our Supreme Court?

President McKay has stated that the Supreme Court is leading this Christian nation down the road to atheism. I believe the court is also leading us down the road to anarchy and atheistic communism. Here is the net effect of a few of their decisions:

Communists can work in our defense plants... Communists can teach in our schools...Communists can hold offices in labor unions... Communists can run for public offices...Communists can serve in the merchant marines...
The Supreme Court justices would probably have been accused of treason if they had dealt in this manner with the Nazis during World War II. 

How does one explain the court’s attitude towards the communist conspiracy which is a much greater threat than the Nazis ever were?...

I have not even covered the areas of how the court is hamstringing the police, destroying property rights, encouraging civil disobedience, undermining state sovereignty, and so forth.

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We have mentioned briefly the help which the communists have received from our Supreme Court. Suffice it to say that they have penetrated every major segment of our society... the news media, the schools, the churches, the unions, etc. 

But their greatest desire and most successful drive has come from their effective penetration of government.

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We extend the advantage of diplomatic recognition to their puppets when they come to power. We send them billions in foreign aid. We’ve trained their pilots. We ship them wheat. Through cultural and other exchanges, their spies come to America. We supply them know-how. We extend them credit. We buy their goods. Their propaganda goes through our mails at our expense. We’ve helped them in their conquests through secret agreements.

Our government does all it can to keep the anti-communists from coming to power in any country. 

And once we’ve helped the communists to take over a nation such as China and Cuba, we do all in our power to keep the anti-communists from freeing their land. We even negotiate with these butchers and sign treaties with these criminals who have no respect for treaties. 

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The vast majority of American citizens and federal employees are loyal to our Republic. But there are a few traitors whose numbers are growing and who are in key positions to influence and help shape government policy.

In fact it is becoming increasingly apparent that appointment to high government office today is not hampered by one’s past affiliations with communist fronts or one’s ability to follow the communist line. You don’t need to look further than the President’s Cabinet and recent appointments to the Supreme Court to find ample evidence of this fact... 

Parrot the communist line and you can expect to be glamorized by the liberal news media and pushed to the front. But take a strong anti­communist position and you can expect to be passed over, smeared, and silenced. And this has happened and is happening to too many great and distinguished Americans to be accidental.


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The communists could not do this all by themselves. They knew that communism would also have to be built by non-communist hands. And so, as in the past, they use, to suit their purpose, the misguided idealist, the political opportunists, the dupes and fellow travelers, and the ignorant and apathetic Americans...

He knows that some of his greatest successes have come with programs which have been sold to the American public as ways to fight the communists but which in reality had the net effect of promoting communism.

This has been true of our foreign aid program. Designed, supposedly, to help nations, its overall effect has been to keep socialist governments in business, enhance the communists, discourage free enterprise and demoralize the anti-communists.

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And so on...I quote above Benson's own words, but even harder things are said in citing approvingly quotations from others.

What do I infer from this? That what would have been, and would still be, depicted by The Cathedral as hysterical paranoia about 'Reds under the Bed'; was not just accurate, but an underestimate of the reality and trends.

That the stakes were clear by 1968, and the broad outlines of what has come to pass in the political system were clearly apparent - since Benson gives every appearance of speaking from a generally-understood perspective.

In particular, there was clarity that communism/ Leftism/ The Cathedral was absolutely hostile to Christianity - which was why Benson was giving this speech - and a recognition that the rise of communism causes the decline of Christianity.

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(In this respect Benson gets it right where Moldbug gets it wrong - communism was and is anti-Christian and atheist in nature, and it does not make analytic sense to regard it as a Christian heresy. To point at the post-communist corrupted pseudo-Christian churches and accuse them of causing Leftism is an example of victim-blaming. The Leftism of most modern church leaders is more akin to Stockholm Syndrome, the pitiful parrotings of the chronically abused, than it is to the masterminds of Leftist strategy.)

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What was not apparent in 1968 was the extent to which communism/ Leftism would achieve its goals primarily by the sexual revolution - by 'rights talk' applied to anyone who advocated sexual practices out-with faithful marriage.

The potential for the initially merely-libidinous sexual revolution to be deployed politically, to add-to the 'civil rights' based race alliance by pandering to women, the sexually promiscuous, those with psychopathologies and so on - This process was insidious, cumulative and surprising in its scope, effectiveness and destructiveness of tradition, Christianity and pretty much everything that was good about The West.

But in terms of where communism/Leftism was located in the USA, and how it operated; the politically-mainstream Benson was using the same analytic frame as was rediscovered forty years later by Mencius Moldbug - the main difference being that Moldbug was coming from an atheist Leftist then Libertarian background, while Benson was speaking from a rooted Christian perspective.

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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

How Mouse Utopia perhaps allows the imposition of Political Correctness?

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/how-could-mouse-utopia-lead-to.html
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Sacred places

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There are sacred places - some very personal (sacred perhaps only to me) - but others, it seems, have properties generally recognizable. This ruined medieval chapel was once a national place of pilgrimage - probably associated with an appearance of Mary holding the infant Jesus.

Very near my home, in a suburb of a big city, yet the chapel remains a place of worship and is tended - in its way - by ikons, homemade crosses, prayer cards, varied stautuary...

Extraordinarily, some of these small and mobile and unwatched tokens have been there for many years.

Have they been thus far protected by some magic about the place and reverence residual in most people?

Yes - thus far, they have. 

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From a poem by William Blake:

The fields from Islington to Marybone,
To Primrose Hill and Saint John’s Wood,
Were builded over with pillars of gold;
And there Jerusalem’s pillars stood.

Her Little Ones ran on the fields,

The Lamb of God among them seen,
And fair Jerusalem, His Bride,
Among the little meadows green.

Pancras and Kentish Town repose
Among her golden pillars high,
Among her golden arches which
Shine upon the starry sky.

The Jew’s-harp House and the Green Man,
The Ponds where boys to bathe delight,
The fields of cows by William’s farm,
Shine in Jerusalem’s pleasant sight.

She walks upon our meadows green;
The Lamb of God walks by her side;
And every English child is seen,
Children of Jesus and His Bride.

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Monday, 23 February 2015

The busyness of Mormons - compared with me...

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The busyness of serious Mormons (specifically Mormon men) arises naturally from the three life priorities of family, church and work.

Families are the priority. There should be as many children as can be raised decently; and families must be given adequate time and energy.

The LDS church absolutely depends on members to run it, and good works are mandatory. There are 'callings' to numerous necessary specific part-time, unpaid church jobs (of which the heaviest may be Bishop and Stake President, but many are very time-consuming, and at unsocial hours).

Work for Mormon men must be harder than for most people; because there is a tithe to support the church, a larger than usual family (indeed, the family should ideally be grown until it uses-up all surplus income), missions to be saved and paid for, more education than usual to be paid for. And this means the added busyness of careful, detailed budgeting.

In sum, to do all this; active(devout) Mormons almost-must be busy- and by all accounts they are. Very.

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This is as it should be; this is the way the world runs.

And most people seem happier to be busy - and being busy at good things is the best kind of busy - and I say nothing against it.

Busyness has a cost, of course - in terms of depth, contemplation, originality, spontaneity... but it probably is a cost that is (nearly always) worth paying - at least the good things of life - family and church; and also work, and therefore 'society', are beneficiaries of the cost paid.

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But for myself, I cannot tolerate a life of busyness.

I have tried, several times, and failed to lead a busy and efficient life - but I simply cannot make myself do it.

Like Thoreau, but probably more so, I absolutely require a life 'with a broad margin'.

If I am not getting it, the need grows to become irresistible; I become possessed by a kind of slowly-exploding rage until I have (by whatever means) created an adequate margin.

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All this is exacerbated and enforced by my not having a great deal of energy - I fairly soon tire of anything; even supposed leisure activities like watching TV. I find 'fun' especially exhausting. It seems that I need (or at least want) a lot more unstructured time, and also sleep, than most people.

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I cannot justify this - and it would probably be wrong to try. It all sounds like - and no doubt is - self-indulgence.

I can claim that I would not do what I do, unless I was not busy - but them who cares about what I do? And is it any more, or better, than what other much busier (and more socially valuable people) do? No. Not really. Not remotely. 

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I know that if everyone was like me, there would be no society; humanity would collapse into chaos, and go extinct.

Thank Heavens for busy people! Salt of the earth! - but I am not one of them.

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Note: I should clarify that although I am not 'A Mormon'  - not a member nor even an attender of the CJCLDS - I believe all the Mormon doctrines and fully support the church and its leadership.
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The divinisation of man (theosis) is the primary aim of reality (salvation - albeit essential - is but a means to this end)

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Although seldom formulated in such terms, it is perhaps the greatest triumph of Mormonism to have recognized and implemented in practice the understanding that God's great purpose for this universe is that Man should become divine; and that salvation - although vital to this aim - is but a means to that end.

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For any real Christian, God is firstly and completely a loving entity; and God is our Heavenly Father who loves us as his children.

What, then, can we infer that our God of love wants primarily? As a loving being, He wants others with whom to share love - which is why He had children; and these children should include some who grow to the same general level as himself (i.e. adult with respect to God Himself) - as this is the highest form of love of which we know.

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This apparently means that, although God surely loves us as 'immature' children (just as we love so much our own young children) it is a part of this love of immature children that (in a timescale of eternity) we hope that at least some, perhaps as many as possible, will ideally and voluntarily mature and 'grow-up' to become sufficiently like in adult-nature to ourselves that there can be the possibility of the fullest possible reciprocity of loving relationship.

(Mature to be like in nature, but different as individuals - there would be no point in loving an array of identical persons; there is no need for more than one distinctive person. The loving nature of God includes the implication that each individual is unique and individually valuable because of their uniqueness.)

Indeed, as a wholly loving being; for God there would be no limit to how grown-up these children should become in relation to God Himself; and no limit to how many such children there should eventually be.

(Although - equally - it would always be desirable to have young children, still-growing, in the family).

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Thus theosis, the growth in God-nature, in divinity, would seem to be our loving God's main purpose in making and sustaining the universe of reality; and in begetting us, His children.

Salvation - that is, the process of incarnation, death (separation of body and soul), resurrection (reuniting of a perfected body and a purified soul) and eternal life can therefore be seen as 'merely' means to this eternal end of theosis.

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(Salvation is apparently essential to theosis, but is not an end in itself - salvation is a stage on the pathway of theosis. Because if salvation was the primary goal then there would be no point in life and living - since there would be no point in being born as incarnate mortals - we would be better to be born and stay as angels in Heaven; because in living we are always at risk of losing salvation. This surely suggests that mortal incarnate life must be about gaining something so important that it is worth the risk of losing salvation. That 'something' is God-like divinity.)

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The divinization of Man throughout eternity is the primary purpose of reality, of our God of Love; and all else (including salvation) is instrumental with respect to theosis.  

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

My repentance theory of Christ's Atonement (stimulated by wanting to complete the argument of Terryl Givens's Wrestling the Angel)

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I have been reading Terryl L Givens's most recent scholarly book about Mormonism - Wrestling the Angel - The foundations of Mormon thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity (Oxford University Press, 2015), and my verdict is that the book is simply superb.

By my evaluation; Givens is one of the most sheerly intelligent writers alive, and also a man whose thought processes and evaluations are extremely congenial to me - he is 'on my wavelength' in an intellectual sense, and has a similar set of priorities in the domain of theology and religion.

In general, I find Givens's account and explication of Mormon theology to be completely satisfying; the exception is The Atonement, the various theories of which he explores in a useful and thorough fashion, before concluding that (as a statement of fact) there is no satisfactory and comprehensive Mormon theory of the Atonement - its importance is central to modern Mormonism, but its nature and operations are essentially regarded as a mystery.

While I hope that this suffices for most people, I am continually 'bugged' by a personal need to understand - or at least know more about - the nature of the Atonement; and having finished Givens's book I felt that for the first time I may be able to articulate a theory which satisfies me - which, in other words, satisfies the constraints I understand to be necessary for an adequate theory from a Mormon metaphysical and theological perspective.

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In a nutshell, this theory is the idea that Christ's Atonement was about repentance, rather than sin as such; and that Christ's sufferings (in the Garden of Gethsemane and on The Cross) were a suffering of the agonies of repentance for Man - rather than a suffering of the sins of Man.

By his Atonement, therefore, Christ enabled all Men to repent and be saved - by the simple (and 'easy') act of accepting Christ's supreme act of vicarious repentance - this replacing the 'impossible' demand of Men to repent each and every one of their sins individually and wholly.

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How do I get to this theory?

The basic 'set-up' is my conviction that human agency (or free will - the ability of all men to be a 'first cause' or 'unmoved mover' - i.e. genuinely to choose from within ourselves and not as a consequence of prior causes) is due to our eternal pre-mortal existence and primary autonomy.

In other words Human agency is not from God, not a gift from God - it is a given fact of reality; which God must work-around, and which God cannot overwhelm or obliterate (even if He wanted-to - which I do not think he does).

Agency just is a fact of existence.

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So the Atonement takes place against a back-drop of ineradicable agency - God's 'problem' was to advance Men towards divinity in this context. It seems that incarnation and mortality are absolutely necessary for Man to make spiritual progress towards divinity - therefore I infer that the single most important thing about incarnate life is death.

Death is the gateway to incarnate immortality.

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I accept that we all, as pre-mortal spirit, volunteered to undergo life on earth and death. But the big problem anticipated for this 'plan' would have been that mortal life of earth entails sin (we are too weak, temptations too numerous and strong), and sin renders us unfit for resurrection to immortality.

(If we - as we are in mortal life - were resurrected to immortality, then that would be a kind of Hell; to benefit from resurrection our souls must be purified and our bodies perfected and yet we remain our-selves - and this process of pre-resurrection purification and perfection can only be done with our consent.

This is salvation - being saved to eternal life ('life' referring to incarnate immortality, as our-selves).

Resurrection to happiness depends on repentance - and that is all it depends upon. 

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My understanding is that nobody - none of the pre-mortal spirits which we were - would be so reckless and foolish as to volunteer to risk mortality under such difficult conditions unless there was special provision that salvation would be easy and straightforward.

If our individual salvation required recognition, acknowledgement and repentance of every single sin; then salvation would be a rare occurrence - perhaps nobody would ever be saved.

Thus, provision was made that mortal men should be saved by the vicarious Atonement of Jesus Christ - He would save us; and all that each of us would need to do would be freely to choose to to accept Christ's act on our behalf.

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So the divine Son of God was incarnated and died - and by this account Christ's death was the single most important thing he did; but his death would not have been efficacious unless he had also performed the Atonement; and the Atonement must be about repentance.

Without Christ's Atonement, repentance would be de facto impossible - since there is too much to repent, and because our knowledge of what needs to be repented is partial and distorted.

So, as mortals, we could never know the full extent of our transgressions - and therefore we would not even know what had to be repented.

And while we were 'working through' discovering and understanding all the multitude of things that needed repenting, then we would be accumulating more sins...

Because the nature of repentance is recognition and acknowledgement - repentance is knowing that we have objectively sinned which is vital; and knowing how so many of our attitudes and actions are at-odds-with the divine plan.

In a nutshell, full repentance requires a full knowledge of reality, and knowledge of our denials of reality (denials by thought and deed).

Since this is impossible, it can only be done for us. And it was done, by Christ's Atonement.

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I take it as axiomatic that for a Christian,  Christ's Atonement must be absolutely necessary. That is, necessary to the salvation of Men.

Since repentance is a psychological act; then this psychological act must be made effective.

Since specific repentance for each and every sin is impossible, effective repentance absolutely requires that repentance be simplified to a single decision that encompasses all other decisions. 

It was Christ's Atonement that made repentance into a single decision. 

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My understanding is that before He died, Christ repented all the sins of everyone who had lived and died up to that point - all who lived before Him - and it was the pain of this vast act of Atonement which he apparently underwent mainly in Gethsemane and on The Cross.

After His death and resurrection, Christ continued, and He continues, to repent the since of all who lived and died after He did, and those live and die now - and He continues to suffer for that reason.

So Christ's Atonement made effective repentance possible - from this act, we may by a single choice accept that God loves us, that He is wholly good; and that God's plans are for our benefit - and by repentance we permanently ally ourselves with these plans.

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The Atonement gave mortal life on earth a fail-safe mechanism. 

This was necessary.

Many or most - or perhaps all - people who are incarnated as Men, and who volunteered to be incarnated as Men, lead terrible lives which render them in need of repentance on an epic and virtually impossible scale.

But this need will have been fore-known, and our Loving Father who wants everyone to be saved (that is, everyone who will consent to be saved - He cannot force anyone to be saved - nor would He wish to compel them even if He could)... our Loving Father made provision for this outcome; so that we would be saved anyway by the shortest and simplest and most-accessible of acts: the simple acceptance of the gift of full-repentance which Christ did for us, and which He offers to give us. 

Because of the Atonement we have nothing more to do than recognise the nature of this gift and accept it; and our reward is the happiness of eternal incarnate life as our-real-selves (with a purified soul in a perfected body).

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Even the weakest person born into the worst circumstances can achieve this acceptance of a gift - when each of us was and will be presented, after death, with a restoration of our pre-mortal state of full understanding of the divine plan.

Of course, we will (as free agents) be able to reject this gift - and to choose damnation.

This is why mortal incarnate life was and is a real risk, and why it was essential that all who underwent it (all of us,that is) were volunteers who knew the risks.

Mortality offers the possibility, even the probability, of spiritual progress towards divinisation; it also contains the ineradicable risk that at the end of it all, we might reject salvation and damn-ourselves.

Our loving Father would not have set up this plan of salvation unless the odds of salvation were stacked in our favour; so the odds are indeed stacked in our favour - and to do this was the work of Christ's Atonement.

But no matter how favourable the odds of salvation - salvation cannot be guaranteed, because of the primary reality of agency.

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

The law of compensation?

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The idea of compensation seems to be built into humans at some level - I mean the assumption that if a person has some obvious defect then there will be some compensatory gift, ability or virtue.

I would say that there is not much empirical evidence for this being true, probably more against it being true - but it seems to be something we feel or expect anyway.

Therefore; I assume the law of compensation is a metaphysical truth, something built-into us as a principle of reality - something which is true despite appearances.

If we knew more, and saw more (more widely, more deeply), then we would all perceive compensation at work all of the time; but, as it is, the reality of compensation is more like a hunch, a suspicion, or a hope.

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Friday, 20 February 2015

Reality is relational

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My understanding is that marriage, family and true friendship are derived from eternal reality.

These are not merely earthly inventions or expedients or means to desirable worldly ends - they are not merely the source of analogies for our understanding of Heaven... instead these fundamental relationships of marriage, family and friendship are a product of our pre-mortal personal experience of ultimate reality.

(They may also be a product of direct divine revelation.)

Marriage, family and friendship are eternal forms, eternal templates - their existence on earth is in (albeit imperfect, incomplete, partial and distorted) conformity with the basic metaphysical structure of everything.

To rebel against the ideals of marriage, family and friendship - to subvert, attack and invert these relations - is therefore to deny reality and join the revolution on the side against against Truth and Good.

It just is - one way or another - to adopt destruction as the primary goal and ethic.

Not a small matter...

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Could Mouse Utopia explain political correctness? A matter of attitudes...

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Mouse Utopia term is explained below ^

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It is possible, perhaps even plausible, that the usual type of explanation for the self-hating, self-destructive insanities of New Left Political Correctness may be insufficient - and that in reality the core, permissive, necessary factor has not been socio-political but instead biological.

If the Mouse Utopia scenario is accepted, then since about 1800 in England (where the industrial revolution began), and starting with the upper classes (who were the first to benefit from lowering child mortality rates, and also the first to reduce fertility) then new and almost always deleterious mutations have been building up generation upon generation.

These mutations are 'random' and their effects fall randomly in the genome - how would they show themselves?

The answer is they would affect behavioural traits that are quantitative fitness measures (such as general intelligence, which has apparently declined rapidly and substantially over the past couple of centuries); and mutations would also have an early and rapid effect on behavioural traits that are the most sensitive and subtle, such as social and sexual adaptations.

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In particular, I think the first affected traits would be attitudes.

I think that attitudes are extremely sensitive to even slight pathology, sickness, dysfunction of many types; and would therefore change before actual behaviours changed.

Thus, an early sign of Mouse Utopia would be changes in attitudes, especially social and sexual attitudes - and since mutations are nearly always harmful what we might see was...

Maladaptive changes in social and sexual attitudes.

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By maladaptive I mean tending to reduce personal (and group) survival, and reduce reproduction.

Well... it fits with political correctness, like a glove.

Not proof - but the social and sexual domination of modern Leftism seems to be consistent with Mouse Utopia.


Also posted at: http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/mouse-utopia-as-explanation-for.html

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^ The Mouse Utopia hypothesis (deriving from Michael A Woodley) is that the relaxation of the historically very harsh forces of natural selection - especially the near abolition of child mortality in recent decades - has led to a generation-by-generation, objectively-dysgenic accumulation of deleterious mutations that are incrementally destroying the adaptiveness of the human species.

This process has been accelerated by a reversal of the historical pattern of reproductive success which started from the early and mid 1800s in the West, to favour the reproductive success of the lowest in intelligence (= highest in mutation load), and on average of lower social class and status. In other words, differential fertility has favoured those who would, on average, be carrying the heaviest load of deleterious mutations - while those who would be expected to have the least mutations have declined to severely sub-replacement fertility.

http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Mouse+Utopia
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Every life is a failure?

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I am re-reading Colin Wilson's easily book Religion and the Rebel (1957) which begins with an autobiographical essay describing the period of his teens and early twenties when it seemed to him that every human life was a failure - and his own determination not to fail.

I can remember feeling almost exactly the same way - and indeed I think it is an almost inevitable perspective for any reflective atheist who sees human life purely in terms of mortal life - and excludes the possibility of a pre- and post-mortal life.

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The basic problem with all mortal lives is death - and that is why from a purely mortal perspective all lives must be seen as a failure.

Because when mortal life is all there is, then there can no 'right time to die'.

Death either leaves unfulfilled the potential of early promise, or cuts-short achievement at its peak, or else it comes after achievement has declined - and after a period of dwindling, suffering, dependence...

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This leads to the temptation of suicide (or indirectly engineering one's own death) among those who wish their life to make a satisfying trajectory and whole, by timing their own death.

(This, for instance, seems to have been a Samurai ideal, and is also found among Western 'Romantics' of the past couple of centuries.)

Well, that is the theory - but if we are honest with ourselves - at a gut level a life terminated by suicide does not really strike us as a success; even a calm or a more-or-less calculated suicide such as Arthur Koestler and his wife's suicide pact; or an indirectly by self-engineered demise like Lawrence of Arabia killed by habitually reckless driving, or the multitude of those who die of 'accidental' alcohol or drug overdoses in a context of deliberate addiction.

So, from a secular perspective, all biographies are tragedies of one sort or another; all lives are (more, or less) wasted.

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So, when is a life not a failure? The answer is that some lives are a success when considered from the context of eternity. If we take a step back from mortality, we see that mortal life looks very different.

From the perspective of a believer in pre- and post-mortal life, mortal life is a finite episode in an unmeasured 'eternity' coming both before and after. Such a period is of extraordinary significance, however it turns-out - and at least some human lives can be seen as extremely positive in their nature and achievement.

Indeed, it may well seem that many, perhaps most, human lives have been successful in these eternal terms - in other words, success in life is that we are in a better situation at the end of our mortal existence than we were at its beginning.

Of course, by this account, failure is also possible; which is why success from an eternal perspective is an objectively meaningful evaluation - and not merely a matter of sticking-on an arbitrary 'success' label.

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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Repentance is Free Will weaponized against sin by Christ; our ultimate invulnerability against the world

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Given that repentance is vital to the Christian in a world where men are weak and temptations are many and strong,

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/why-is-mortal-life-so-full-of.html

more needs to be said on the subject.

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Repentance is a psychological act that is made possible - in other words it is made effective - by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

If it was not for Christ, then repentance would be merely a state of mind, or a change of mind; but because of Christ it is made effectual - because of Christ, repentance saves.

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Humans have Free Will, that attribute does not depend on Christ, but the main, the primary function of Free Will is to repent.

Everybody, in every situation, is able to repent if they choose. And every act of repentance will be effective in negating the spiritual consequences of error, failure, weakness, sin, exhaustion, gullibility... everything.

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The set-up is that we can always repent everything; because of Free Will repentance simply cannot be stopped or prevented by any power on earth, and because of Christ it is always effective.

This is each person's ultimate invulnerability against the world. And it was necessary that each person be so powerfully protected in order that earthly mortal life be 'a risk worth taking'.

If it were not for repentance, it would be better not to be born as incarnate mortals - but simply to be spirits in Heaven; because without repentance we would have near-zero chance of getting through life without becoming much worse than we began it, and would be be almost certain, after we died, to make the disastrous choice of pride, rejection of God and Hell.

But, by sending Men into mortal life equipped with repentance, which is Free Will weaponized against sin by Christ - this evil fate was prevented; unless after death we actively-choose Hell through refusal to repent that which we know is sin.



Christ made this defence for us by his life, death and resurrection; and he made it for everybody (including those who lived before Christ).

Repentance works for everyone in all circumstances - including those who have never heard of Christ.

What then is the point of telling people about Christ, what is the point of being Christian?

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The first answer is that if we know about Christ it ought to make us better at, and more thorough about, and less resistant to repenting.

If we know how the world is set-up - that ought to be a help.

(Of course, sometimes, self-identified 'Christianity' becomes distorted and corrupted, and makes matters worse not better. For instance 'liberal Christianity' which denies the need for repentance of some sins; which indeed encourages pride in some sins is worse than 'nothing' - i.e. worse than Man's natural, spontaneous, 'animistic' religion.)

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The second answer is that repentance, although essential, is not the end of the matter.

Living life is also about theosis, sanctification, spiritual progress or 'divination' - in other words, mortal earthly life is an opportunity to grow-up, mature and become more god-like - which is our destiny through eternity.

But, for us mortals, that glorious work and privilege only comes on the other side of repentance; only comes if our safety through life is assured by repentance. 

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Three 1969 Reggae Classics

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I liked this music very much as a kid! I still find the beat almost irresistible.

The basis of the reggae beat is a 4/4 rhythm.

1. Rhythm guitar (or something) chopping chords on the off-beats - 2 and 4.

2. Snare drum hard on the third beat of the bar.

3. Bass guitar syncopated across the bars.

These early reggae (or rocksteady) groups had a simply wonderful loose-limbed quality to the way they played.

Perhaps my favourite - The Liquidator; featuring the ultra-attacking sound of a Hammond organ. I love syncopation - and the Hammond solo work is like a demonstration answer to the question 'what is syncopation?' :



Long Shot (kick de bucket) always sounded very amusing - I only now realize it is about a horse dying during a race (lyrics provided):



And this - having forgotten the title I have been looking for it on you tube for many years - only found it this evening, and listened for the first time in... 35 years? Called The Return of Django

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Why is mortal life so full of temptations and problems; why are (most) people so unstable, foolish and quick to do evil?

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Important questions.

Our understanding of the basic set-up of life, the human condition, God's plan of salvation; needs to take into account the nature of things as we experience them.

Although Men are seeded with divinity, and have inklings of the highest aspirations, and are capable of love; we find ourselves to be unstable, foolish and prone to lapse into wickedness when confronted with a world of temptations and problems.

Christ, by contrast, did not sin - He was tempted and suffered - but He was strong and wholly good. We, however, are not like that.

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From this I infer that the yielding to temptation is not necessary to our spiritual growth - it is better to resist temptation (like Christ).

BUT - the basic situation is that we cannot in fact resist temptations. Although we are not intended to fail in any specific situation, the fact is that as weak creatures in a world of temptations and problems, we will fail - again and again and again.

We are therefore meant to learn by trial and error.  

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So the primary weapon for humans against the world is not resisting temptation, is not 'being good' - the primary weapon is repentance.

We will fail, again and again, and therefore the important thing is what we do when we have failed.

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Repentance is a tricky concept - but one way to think of it is that Christ made it possible for all humans to repent under any and all circumstances.

Repentance is (now, because of Christ) always possible to anyone; and always effective.

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In a sense, we are here in order to repent; repentance is in one vital thing we must do, and can always do.

By this account, pride is simply the refusal to repent - therefore pride is the worst possible sin.

All the ultimate wickedness in the world can (crudely) be reduced to this - pride preventing repentance.

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This may seem negative - but the other side of the coin is that life is an adventure with real stakes; but a safe adventure.

We must do our best, but we will fail again and again to achieve what we aspire to and to avoid what we want to avoid.

However we are ultimately safe and our immortal souls and eternal happiness cannot be harmed by anything the world can throw at us - so long as we repent in a final and ultimate sense.

Minimally, that is what life is for: to try, fail, repent.

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(The topic of 'what exactly is repentance?' will require separate consideration. Here I want to establish that repentance- whether explicit or more usually implicit - is the single most important thing in this mortal incarnate life; without which it would - literally - have been better not to have lived at all.)

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Monday, 16 February 2015

Crossing another line

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A few days ago I saw for the first time a frontal facial tattoo on a 'normal' woman. She was in her thirties, I guess, conservatively dressed in a sensible coat and fleece hat; and she had a coloured flower something like 7 cm in diameter tattooed on one cheek.

The first and most important line crossed is having a tattoo of any kind anywhere - once the moral principle against voluntary permanent self-mutilation has been violated, this opens the door (personally for individuals, and socially) to further, more visible, more viscerally-shocking violations.

(Leaving aside circus acts and ex-prisoners), at first, tattoos were placed so they could be concealed by clothing - never on head, hands, or feet.

That was violated about a decade ago en masse, first on feet and ankles among women - who are the most tattooed sex; then on wrists and hands, then more recently on the back of the neck, then behind the ear.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/women-as-victims-of-modernity.html

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People used to tell me, and some still do, that tattooing in the UK was just a fad and would stop when the youngsters saw tattoos on old people. But instead the tattoos just get more common (especially in women), more numerous, more prominent, much bigger - and now it seems we have moved into a new phase of frontal facial tattooing.

I have never seen one word said against tattoos in the mainstream mass media - and instead there is indirect encouragement of many kinds and in many ways. For instance tattoos are lovingly depicted on high status and beautiful celebs, and even 'nobility' (Dame Angelina Jolie, Dame Helen Mirren); they are always treated as sexy (which for modern people is the highest possible praise); there are newspapers discussions about which are the best tattoos - implicitly accepting that the practise of tattooing is good, and only the execution worthy of discrimination.

In sum there is an established mainstream media taboo against criticising tattooing - presumably at first 'justified' on the usual politically correct grounds; and now on the grounds that the majority of young women (and a large minority of young men) are tattooed, 'therefore' we ought to accept it, and indeed 'learn to love it'. 

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What is most disturbing is that people have ceased to be shocked, surprised or even to comment on what is (in world historical terms) an extraordinary phenomenon; and surely the most obvious external sign and index of the inner state of modern Western society. 

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/fashion-therapy-enhancement-self.html

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Sunday, 15 February 2015

The (potted) self-destruction of the Church of England - by Peter Mullen

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Published in the Church of England Newspaper 6 Feb 2015
The Times has reported that the Church of England is to rewrite the Catechism “for a secular age.” Impossible. The church leaders have already emptied English Christianity of all Christian content. You think I exaggerate? Well, please read on…
First they ditched all the ancient dogmas which were good enough for St Augustine and Lancelot Andrewes but very clearly not good enough for the likes of J.A.T. Robinson, David Jenkins and John Hick. The Virgin Birth, they said, was based on a misunderstanding of a verse in Isaiah. Besides, for thoroughly paid up scientistic modern types such as Robinson, the Virgin Birth was just one of those things “I can’t believe.” 
Same with the Resurrection: it’s a made up story to express the disciples’ “experience of new life” after Our Lord’s crucifixion. Never mind that there’s no possible accounting for new life if Jesus remained dead. Then the miracles went as well. Only “acted parables,” that’s all. The feeding of the five thousand was a lesson on – wait for that drippy, churchy word – “sharing.” A socialist picnic provided by Jesus who was not the Son of God but, as Malcolm Muggeridge once said, only “the Labour party member for Galilee South.” 
Are you looking forward to your reward in heaven? Don’t bother: eternal life is not a continuation of Christian life after death but only “a superior quality of life in the here and now.”
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Then they turned their attention to our traditional texts: the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. These were frankly offensive to the politically-correct modern ears of our terrifically progressive House of Bishops and General Synod who abolished sin and replaced it with self-esteem. So they gave the push to “the devil and all his works” because they don’t believe in the devil. We’re all far too “come of age” to dwell on the uncomfortable fact that we’re “miserable sinners.” 
At the wedding there’s no caution against “fornication” and “carnal lusts.” Men are no longer “brute beasts with no understanding.” And the modernisers have even managed to work a miracle of their own: they have removed “vile bodies” and “worms” from the funeral. They probably think we’re none of us going to die anyhow. Death is so last millennium.
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Doctrine cast aside. The real Bible and the real Prayer Book discarded and dismissed in a protracted fit of contempt for beauty and truth. What remained then for them to destroy? Christian morality, that’s what. The Ten Commandments were simply “too judgemental” and so they had to be replaced by act utilitarianism, situation ethics, which means that you decide what’s good on the hoof, on the spur of the moment. 
This was excitedly described as “the new morality” when it first appeared in the 1960s. It was no new morality, but only the old immorality in a miniskirt. So there’s no sin, no devil, nothing to acknowledge, nothing to bewail. There really was no need for the Son of God to come and redeem us then, was there – except to transform us into sentimental egalitarians and diversity mongers?
I love Reinhold Niebuhr’s description of our contemporary “liberal” Christianity: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgement through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Why should anyone pay any heed to the tosh they teach now? 
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I said “liberal” Christianity, but its practitioners are a very long way from the display of liberality. They agree only with those who agree with them, and anyone who affirms traditional Christianity is effectually unchurched. The liberal ascendancy began in the 1960s when the modernisers in the episcopate first out- gunned the traditionalists, and they have simply promoted themselves and their own sort ever since.
The liberals operate a form of bureaucratic demagogy chiefly through the General Synod. This is how it works… 
“Progressive” motions are brought before Synod and, when these do not receive the required majorities for their implementation, they are simply brought back again and again until the liberals get the results they desire. 
In the late 1980s, there was one outstanding example of this. The vote for women priests was defeated. When the numbers were announced, the then Archbishop of York, John Habgood, spoke. He said, “The motion has been lost. Now we must consider how to proceed.” Of course, if the Synod were the democracy it pretends to be, someone would have pointed out to the Archbishop that, in cases where a motion has been defeated, you don’t proceed. In fact the liberals’ tactical performance in Synod is a sort of ecclesiastical Trotskyism.
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Now that the process of the church’s secularisation has been completed, one man at least will be pleased. That man is Rowan Williams [the previous Archbishop of Canterbury] who, in one of his last speeches before his retirement, told us that the church had a lot of catching up to do with secular mores. In other words, be ye not transformed by the renewing of your mind, but be ye conformed to this world.
So the result of all this is that the church which was for centuries pretty representative of the nation, governed by hierarchs who were High, Low or Broad, is now a secularised hegemony. It resembles an elite society for ethical experiments, its policies and pronouncements indistinguishable from those of the soft Left; and very occasionally of a harder Left. 
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So what is there left for the archbishops and bishops to do? To preach their adolescent politics and their infantile economics and, from their palaces or perhaps a quiet corner in the House of Lords, write nagging letters to the coalition government.
Our liberal hierarchy has given up believing in Scriptural authority, thrown out the English Bible and the English Prayer Book, trivialised the liturgy and revolutionised the historic services which were our rites of passage to reflect the diktats of politically-correct and thoroughly secularised personal and social morality. 
Is there anything which they have not given up? Yes. They have not given up those other things that belong to their traditional role: their seats in the House of Lords and, of course, their palaces.
I suppose we should at least be thankful for that.
By Rev Dr Peter Mullen
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NOTE: This systematic and continuing self-destruction by the CoE was not just a local sideshow - because the Church of England was the dominant and founding unit of the Anglican Communion, which was (after Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and due to the British Empire) the third largest Christian denomination in the world.
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