Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Structured emotions in the psychology of creativity

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/creativity-as-process-and-outcome-of.html
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Best British long poem of the Twentieth Century - A drunk man looks at the thistle by Hugh MacDiarmid

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I have just discovered that the greatest British long poem of the Twentieth Century (in my opinion!) - that is A drunk man looks at the thistle (published 1926) - has been put onto YouTube, being read by its author, Hugh MacDairmid.

[See above or : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt2gOOtrYRc ]

Up to twenty years ago I had read pretty much everything published by and about Hugh MacDiarmid - which was the pen name of Christopher Murray Grieve (1892-1978).

On reflection he was a terrible man who liked and wanted terrible things, on the whole; but his early poems written in his own version of a Scots dialect are simply sublime, and for a few brief years he was certainly inspired.

Sublime IF you can get to grips with the difficult dialect and arcane vocabulary. This, very few people have ever done, and fewer as the years go by; so I almost never recommend reading him to other people.

But here is one of my favourite passages from A Drunk Man:

O wha's the bride that cairries the bunch
O' thistles blinterin' white?
Her cuckold bridegroom little dreids
What he sall ken this nicht.
For closer than gudeman can come
And closer to'r than hersel',
Wha didna need her maidenheid
Has wrocht his purpose fell.
O wha's been here afore me, lass,
And hoo did he get in?
—A man that deed or' was I born
This evil thing has din.
And left, as it were on a corpse,
Your maidenheid to me?
—Nae lass, gudeman, sin' Time began
'S hed ony mair to g'e.
But I can gi'e ye kindness, lad,
And a pair o' willin' hands,
And you sall ha'e my breists like stars,
My limbs like willow wands.
And on my lips ye'll heed nae mair,
And in my hair forget,
The seed o' a' the men that in
My virgin womb ha'e met. 
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At the time he wrote The Drunk Man, MacDiarmid was 'making' these poems from already existing poems and translations, and his explorations in Jameson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language.

His own English Language (i.e. non-Scottish) poetry written up to that point had been hopeless (although his prose was distinctive in a strangely '1890s' sort of way) - and his later attempts were also mostly poor - clunky, contrived, utterly devoid of lyricism.

But for a few years in the 1920s he seems to have been a channel for an unique and amazingly sure-footed type of poetic spirit which worked for expression in Scots dialect - I really don't think he knew what he was doing, nor was he in control of it.

After the peak of A Drunk Man, he quarried out a few more pieces from the residue of this spirit - notably the implausibly wonderful and assured 'Harry Semen' (I would have thought it beyond-possible to write a beautiful and uplifting poem with that theme - look it up) - while his other writings and speeches and public persona was ranting and raving and boasting with an embarrassingly-wilful, incoherent, sophomoric petulance about anything which entered his head - but mostly totalitarian utopian communist nationalist politics.

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When all has been said, to produce such a quantity of lyric poetry of the highest class is so rare and valuable that I am prepared to filter the gems from the dross: Or, as MacDiarmid truly said about himself in a lucid moment:

"My job, as I see it, has never been to lay a tit's egg, but to erupt like a volcano, emitting not only flame, but a lot of rubbish."

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

My life - in a nutshell (I wish)

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The butterfly, a cabbage-white, 
(His honest idiocy of flight) 
Will never now, it is too late, 
Master the art of flying straight, 
Yet has - who knows so well as I?- 
A just sense of how not to fly: 
He lurches here and here by guess 
And God and hope and hopelessness. 
Even the acrobatic swift 
Has not his flying-crooked gift.


By Robert Graves (1895-1985)

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Are reactionary rants useful - or counter-productive?

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I have done more than my fair share of common-sensical, skeptical, reactionary ranting; sadly, it is quite possibly what I am best at and what commenters like best.

A case can be made, and is made often, that such things are at least useful and perhaps necessary - however, people get a taste for doing and reading such things, and that taste is addictive, and it is possible to spend hours a day going from blog to blog reading anti-Leftist rants, take-downs and satire.

Some people imagine that there is an anti-Progressive blogosphere where you can go to find 'the truth' about the modern world - where the mass media can be dissected and analysed and reality discerned behind the shadows...

Given that political correctness goes from strength to strength, all this kind of stuff strikes me as being likely to be part of the problem rather than the solution.

Anyway, I have had enough of it; and am going to try harder to stop writing it and stop reading it. The problems of modernity are too deep and too pervasive to be susceptible to polemic.

If I cannot inspire people to good, then I cannot do anything useful.

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Review of The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L Jagi Lamplighter

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L Jagi Lamplighter, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, 2013. pp 380.

This was one of the most wholly enjoyable books I have read for some time, thoroughly entertaining and thoroughly interesting; an experience especially welcome coming from an author new to me. And unusual; given that I am increasingly hard to please, therefore not always reading fiction nowadays. I may go for a few weeks without having a novel 'on the go' - and even longer if re-reads are not counted.

It is in the Young Adult fantasy genre, set in a co-educational boarding school for sorcerers - something like a more wholesome and hopeful Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams: that is to say, a highly intelligent and witty fiction, bubbling with ideas.

The action is seen through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl who - as well as being an untrained sorcerer - has (inherited from her mother) a special power of memory, with total recall and rewind facilities. This ability is central to the plot - and depicted very convincingly. She is just starting at school, and the action of the book unfolds over the first days, consisting of detailed scenes almost in 'real time'.

As might be expected from a young teen heroine and in the 'girls boarding school genre' (a few Enid Blyton examples of which I read as a kid); nearly all the characters are depicted as very good looking, but in different ways and degrees; and life is seen through a lens of friends and friendship-groups. In addition, each child and teacher seems to have some distinctive magical or personal ability - rather like Marvel or DC superhero teams - so the characters are not inter-changeable.

My point is that the style is light, humourous, somewhat detached. Although there is plenty of emotion and action; these have a 'classical' objectivity - more like a Shaw play or a Mozart opera, than the emotional focus of Shakespeare or Puccini! Rachel Griffin has its passions and romances; but is a world away from the 'hormone storms' and doomed love of most YA fiction. The young heroine is precociously intelligent, sensible, philosophical as well as empathic - and consequently dominates the situation in a way which is essentially feminine - but tom-boyishly feminine. 

So, from my perspective, Rachel Griffin was a completely-successful example of its type - and had me beguiled and mentally-stimulated throughout. And I was pleased to note that this is the first of a series, and there is another Rachel Griffin book for me to look forward to!

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Monday, 15 December 2014

The primary physics metaphor in New Age spirituality - Energy!

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Following from my comment that Christians (including myself) seem over-keen to use Physics metaphors -

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/why-do-we-so-often-use-physics.html

I remembered that the same applies to many New Age spiritualities, in their focus upon 'energy'. This is particularly striking in New Age therapies - 'Alternative Medicine' - for example explanations of acupuncture focus on energy channels. Sometimes these arcane energies may be felt, visualized, manipulated - even photographed.

Kirlian photograph

This is not always the case - for example, homoeopathy employs pre-modern styles of reason by analogy or 'similarities' and the causality uses a more 'magical' style of reasoning - and the modern theorizations are more chemical than physicsy.

But there is an awful lot of talk about energies in New Age discourse - energy sometimes being used in a manner than is more like 'motivation' or 'drive'.

But perhaps this is always the way when physicsy metaphors are used in religion - they naturally take on more psychological/ biological attributes - as when New Agers talk about the 'balance' of energies (i.e. a non-physics way of talking about energy).

Or perhaps it is more that religious metaphors tend, if not actively prevented, to revert to the undifferentiated explanations which were natural to humans long before science - so they almost never stick strictly to their chosen metaphor; but in usage it becomes less bounded and more generalized.

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Note: It was originally my brother who pointed this out to me. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Leftist moral inversion is the ultimate in hypocrisy

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Leftists are quick (and dishonest) to accuse Christians of hypocrisy when they fail to live-up-to their own high standards.

But this is not (usually) hypocrisy - just the nature of 'aiming. Furthermore, Christianity is essentially not about living a sinless or perfect life - which is explicitly declared to be impossible for earthly mortals - but instead about repenting for our failure to live by ultimate standards.

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Accurately, a Christian hypocrite would be one who explicitly claimed personally not to sin, when in fact he did: it is a form of dishonesty - a false claim to high moral status.

But Christian hypocrisy palls into insignificance compared with the standard, routine, modern, mainstream secular Leftist hypocrisy: which is to sin, and then change morality so that that sin is redefined as good.

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This is completely normal for the pioneers and prophets of secularism and Leftism - especially in relation to sex.

The spokesmen of the radical Left, from Rousseau through HG Wells, (Bertrand) Russell and Russell (Brand)  - and what a catastrophic and complete decline in quality of famous progressive personnel the final name in that list represents! - the most influential and celebrated Leftist leadership have consistently engineered  official morality around their personal weakness and wickedness.

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So, if a Leftist wants to have sex outside marriage, practise assembly-line promiscuity, or get divorced, or take drugs, live as a sponger and parasite, practice professional hatred, seduce by dishonest manipulations... then their 'moral' code is simply re-engineered to say that actually all of these things (and anything else they happen to want to do) are actually good...

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Sin is defined as 'the new good', and if this angers, offends and disgusts anybody then that is good too - because (by definition) these people deserve it - being hypocrites.

In mainstream secular Leftism, [fill-in-the--blanks-with-whatever-I-personally-fancy] is first excused, then propagandised as not just self-indulgence; but actually worthy of celebration and lavish reward because on the side of equality, freedom, excitement, tolerance, spontaneity, fun, diversity - and against religion, tradition, hierarchy, patriarchy, marriage and families.

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So the mandatory pretence is now that sin is actually good (properly understood); and good is actually the very worst evil; and consequently the new moral exemplars are actively and openly selfish, hate-filled and hate-propagating, behaviourally-incontinent, lying, cowardly sub-mediocrities (mediocrity is actively preferred, because any form of excellence is - to a real but limited extent- good).


This is hypocrisy on steroids, hypocrisy in a massive stadium with light show and surround-sound - hypocrisy with the backing of the government, the law, the mass media, the education system - deep state-hypocrisy enforced by the tax office, the snooper and the mob - hypocrisy with a megaphone and a truncheon - hypocrisy at the end of a gun - hypocrisy with spies and drones and bombs.

Old-style Christian hypocrisy had nothing on this.

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Note added: Secular Leftist hypocrisy by moral inversion is the hypocrisy of great power - because only great power can change the rules, and re-define its own sins as virtues, and can force or persuade society to conform to these new ethics.

Secular Leftist hypocrisy is also self-destroying, a species of nihilism - which, paradoxically, provides its motivating  pseudo-altruistic basis. 

Thoughtful secular Leftists recognize that rigorous implementation of their programme will sooner or later destroy themselves and everything they regard as good - but they interpret this fact as evidence of their own disinterestedness: evidence that they are not - therefore - ultimately selfish.

This, then, is the consequence of rejecting God: an ethic of total destruction re-interpreted as an ethic of impartial altruism!

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Is it true to say that there is no escaping metaphysics? Yes. And No.

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"There’s no escaping metaphysics." 

There is a sense in which this statement is true, but another sense in which it is false - and a snare to Christians.

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The sense in which metaphysics cannot be escaped is that our explicit understanding of reality necessarily happens within a structure - so that when we are self-conscious, or communicating, we will be doing so from some metaphysical position.

The sense in which "there is no escaping metaphysics" is false, is that we can change our metaphysics, we can choose our metaphysics - and it is possible and normal for Christians to have a variety of metaphysical positions.

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It may be asked on what basis we change or choose our metaphysics? The answer is that these are various, and they vary between denominations.

The Transubstantiation schism in the medieval Catholic church was, as I interpret it, a dispute between the Roman church who asserted that there was only one true metaphysics of the bread and wine at Holy Communion - and that this had been given by revelation to the Roman church - all other metaphysical understandings being false, therefore sinful.

The Orthodox and Anglican Catholic churches refused to make any specific metaphysical system of what happened to the bread and wine 'true' but pronounced it a mystery and - in effect - a matter for personal revelation or local opinion, including having no expliict view at all on the matter.

The Roman Catholic Church is distinctive in making *many* metaphysical and philosophical questions into a matter of general revelation and doctrine - with explicit and specific explanations declared true and all others false. Outside the RCC the emphasis on metaphysics varies with time and place - and some metaphysical explanations are regarded mandatory while others as more-or-less expedient.

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But the overall picture of Christendom through the ages is one in which metaphysics is an expedient, which ought to serve a faith whose basis is much more than philosophy.

In sum, Christianity properly regards philosophy as an imperfect, incomplete and biased attempt to make explicit a reality which just is much bigger and more various than philosophy can comprehend.

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Therefore a Christian can (and sometimes should) change his metaphysical beliefs without ceasing to be Christian; and there is more than one metaphysical way of being a Christian (although some may be overall better than others, and some will be better than another for particular purposes); and indeed there are (there must be) non-metaphysical experiences in Christianity above and beyond the scope of philosophy - the metaphysics only comes-in when people attempt to make explicit and communicate the basic experience.

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In that deep sense, metaphysics is (merely) an artefact of the process of explanation; and it is the limitations on explanation which necessarily cause the limits of metaphysics.

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(The above is derived from my response to a posting and a comment by Kristor Lawson at The Orthosphere - http://orthosphere.org/2014/12/11/the-limit-of-theology ).

Friday, 12 December 2014

"Don't *judge* me!" - What does it mean? Is it valid?

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The phrase 'Don't judge me!', and the many variants upon it, means - do not morally evaluate me.

Behind this lies the assumption that it is extremely hazardous morally to evaluate people because:

1. We are subject to prejudice

2. Our information is incomplete

3. Our motivations are corrupt

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All of these are correct - it is the inference drawn from them which is false - that inference being that because '1, 2, 3' therefore we ought not to make moral evaluations.

This is, I would have thought, fairly obviously both self-refuting nonsense in its logical structure, and also perniciously evil in its intent.

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And this is true even in its softer (more evasive?) form- which is that judgement should be suspended pending 1. our moral re-education to root-out self prejudice and instead favour 'the other', 2. further, open-ended (yet still inevitably partial) empirical investigation, 3. our purification of motive (in the direction of universalist altruism).

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What can reasonably and rightly be asked of all people is that they be prepared to revise their initial (and necessary) judgement on the basis of further experience, knowledge, and genuine personal spiritual development.

We must and we do judge, everything and always - and must therefore do it here and now, and do it on the basis of what we already know and how we actually currently are as people

- but if we get to know better or become better people, that is to say objectively better - which objectivity entails we adhere to a metaphysics that there is reality, and reality is knowable; then we must be prepared to revisit that judgement.

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Who rules the West: Sword and/or Book?... or something new: the Mass Media?

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In Plough, Sword and Book: the structure of human history (1988), the international superstar anthropologist Ernest Gellner expressed in his title the classic tripartite division of all agrarian, pre-industrial societies into a ruling class of 'sword' and 'book' - i.e. warriors and priests - in various combinations; presiding over a mass of productive peasants (i.e. 'plough').

This is, of course, a simplification - in particular leaving-out the skilled middle class (craftsmen, merchants, doctors) who neither function neither as priests nor warriors yet have a highly significant role.

Nonetheless, as a description of the ruling class, Gellner was expressing what most people believe is not just true - but necessarily true: most analysts believe, or at least they assume in practice, that all past and all possible societies are ruled by a combination of warriors and/ or priests.

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The Neoreactionary Right certainly believe it; and interpret modern society as a variant of rule by priests or theocracy; with the priestly class termed The Cathedral (or, previously, the Clerisy; sometimes the Establishment); and modern Leftist/ Liberal/ Progressive politics are therefore regarded as a sub-type of a priest-dominated religion.

However, I think this is a mistake; and that in fact in modern developed societies, especially since the mid-1960s, the traditional Sword and Book ruling classes have been subordinated by the Mass Media.

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I argue this in numerous previous blog posts on the mass media, and in my recent book Addicted to Distraction

http://addictedtodistraction.blogspot.co.uk/

So I believe that the Mass Media is now the primary ruling social system, and that it is functionally different from a social system based on a priestly class.

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The main difference is that a priestly ruling elite - or theocracy - functions by imposing a church at the head of social organization; and the church has a definite, relatively specific, structure and personnel.

However, the modern society ruling class of the Mass Media has no definite or positive structure and no definite priest-like personnel - because its primary and essential function is negative rather than positive.

The modern ruling elite is not accurately termed a theocracy because it has no god - and no-god is a crucial deficiency for any theocracy! The modern elites is, indeed, an anti-theocracy - because is does not just passively omit, but actively excludes serious god-talk from the public arena.

It is anti-theocratic because it regards no god as real, and all gods as arbitrary, relativistic constructs - constructs which are made, and can be remade, by the mass media and associate subordinate social institutions (e.g. government, civil administration, NGOs, the legal system, police and education).

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In a nutshell, the modern supreme ruling elite centred in and around the mass media is not - over the long term - in favour of anything in particular - certainly not god or any specifiable kind of religion; rather it is against things - and the things it is most-actively against vary over time. Over time, it is against everything.

The modern elite's aim is not to define, impose and maintain any particular religious utopia; rather its aim is to subvert, destroy and invert many (and in principle all) spontaneous and actually-existing forms and structures.

The modern ruling elite is therefore not located in any specific institution (such as Harvard or Oxford, or the Supreme Court, or the civil administration) - because all of these are themselves subject to continual subversion, destruction, and inversion - all elite institutions have-been and are continually being re-made.

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Nobody is in control, nobody is going anywhere in particular; but the dominant class are subverting, destroying and inverting everything, everywhere, including themselves - not all at once, but in rotation and over time.

They are not self-consciously aiming at total nihilistic destruction (at least, only a handful of them are) but total nihilistic destruction is the modern elite's revealed preference.

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Why do we so often use Physics metaphors in theology? Why not use biology, or psychology?

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I do it myself! - examples are all over this blog: when I am trying to understand or explain God, I feel drawn into using physics-type or mathematical models and metaphors.

Of course it goes back to (what is known of) the earliest Greek philosophers - who regarded ultimate reality in physicsy ways - as elements such as fire and water, in terms of processes such as movement or stasis...

There isn't so much of this in the Bible - but it is there, for example in the use of Light and Dark as primary metaphors.

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Yet, is this really helpful?

Does it not usually amount to explaining one difficult-to-understand thing, by employing some even-more-difficult-to-understand-thing?

I have myself, on this blog, have tried to explain the peculiarities of mortal life compared with Heavenly Life, and of the nature of dreams, in terms of the theory of General Relativity...

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Yes, I know that physics and mathematics are capable of great precision of expression; but it is an immovable fact is that not many people really understand these matters - even/ especially the people who deploy physics professionally seldom have a true grasp.

It would surely be better to use biology or psychology as our main metaphors - since these are more comprehensible - but then there is 'physics envy' (analogous to Freud's - nonsensical- concept of 'penis envy'), to which thoughtful biological scientists allegedly tend to be prone...

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And perhaps, especially among intellectuals, there is a yearning towards impersonal abstraction as being the bottom-line of life - as the final and secure escape from mortal, worldly suffering: this seems like the motivation behind the main 'Eastern religions' such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and behind the deisitic/ Platonic religion of physicists such as Einstein and Roger Penrose.

But Christianity is about a personal God, and His personal incarnate mortal life, and has at its centre the personal 'emotion' of Love.

So what is Christianity doing, dabbling in physics as its bottom line explanatory model?

Good question!

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Did Jesus's public ministry begin because Joseph had died, and Jesus therefore became the heir to David's throne: rightful King of the Jews?

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Following on from:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/jesus-was-literally-king-of-jews-by.html

When his legal Father Joseph died, Jesus then became the rightful heir of, or at least a credible claimant to, the throne of Israel; King of the Jews, by his lineal descent from David.

So, at that point, and with that status, he entered and began his ministry.

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Seems to make sense...

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The Compleat Lecturer

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The beginning of an on-going mini-booklet in which I try to encapsulate my 'philosophy' of lecturing - which was implicitly the mainstream in my medical school of 35 years ago - following on from a few hundred years of tradition. Now, however, I am left as, apparently, the one and only practitioner of the art and craft in the vicinity.

http://baronofjesmond.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/the-compleat-lecturer-concise-guide-to.html

When I read descriptions of the great lecturers of the past, such as CS Lewis - who for a couple of decades was reputed to be the best in Oxford - I find it impossible to imagine them creating the same kind of impact by flicking through 'Powerpoint' slides in a pitch dark room, themselves invisible, and their amplified words intoned via a surround-sound public address system; their students not writing anything for themselves, not creating their own personal set of notes (treasured ever after); but instead passively watching a glowing screen and listening to a droning, disembodied voice - or else surreptitiously browsing the internet and social messaging.

It is the difference between actual teaching and learning, here and now; and 'I can always read the handouts later, or watch the video online' - but never actually getting down to the mentally-hard business of paying intense attention, and focusing exclusively on the matter in hand.

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"No one is more merciless than a Goliath who thinks he’s a David"

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A perfect explanation for the hysterical, un-proportionate and unrestrained,  aggression of the modern, politically correct Left.

The author of this definitive bon mot is 'MC' - one of the bloggers at Junior Ganymede; and it comes in the course of a posting concerning recent mass media-driven agitprop/ subversion within the CJCLDS:

http://www.jrganymede.com/2014/12/09/whos-your-ingroup-anyway

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Is this the most beautiful baritone 'aria' you never heard of?

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The Qui Tollis from Haydn's Paukenmesse - starting about 2:27.

I only happen to know this because I sang tenor in the chorus of this Mass for a school production: one of the most enjoyable choral experiences of my life.

The baritone solo was done by Nigel Townsend, my favourite music teacher, and he sung it beautifully.

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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Jesus was literally King of the Jews, by genealogical descent - says James E Talmage

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This is an idea that, for whatever reason - but rather shockingly it now seems to me, has never crossed my mind: I mean the idea that Jesus would have been the actual, earthly King of the Jews; were it not for the Roman takeover.

If this is correct, then it puts a very different perspective on some of the events described in the New Testament: allowing them to be taken at face value, rather than figuratively.

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Two genealogical records, purporting to give the lineage of Jesus are found in the New Testament, one in the first chapter of Matthew, the other in the third chapter of Luke... 
The all important fact to be remembered is that the Child promised by Gabriel to Mary, the virginal bride of Joseph, would be born in the royal line. A personal genealogy of Joseph was essentially that of Mary also, for they were cousins... That Mary was of Davidic descent is plainly set forth in many scriptures; for since Jesus was to be born of Mary, yet was not begotten by Joseph, who was the reputed, and, according to the law of the Jews, the legal, father, the blood of David's posterity was given to the body of Jesus through Mary alone.
Our Lord, though repeatedly addressed as Son of David, never repudiated the title but accepted it as rightly applied to Himself. Apostolic testimony stands in positive assertion of the royal heirship of Christ through earthly lineage, as witness the affirmation of Paul, the scholarly Pharisee: "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;" and again: "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead."
In all the persecutions waged by His implacable haters,[Pg 87] in all the false accusations brought against Him, in the specific charges of sacrilege and blasphemy based on His acknowledgment of the Messiahship as His own, no mention is found of even an insinuation that He could not be the Christ through any ineligibility based on lineage. Genealogy was assiduously cared for by the Jews before, during, and after the time of Christ; indeed their national history was largely genealogical record; and any possibility of denying the Christ because of unattested descent would have been used to the fullest extent by insistent Pharisee, learned scribe, haughty rabbi, and aristocratic Sadducee.
At the time of the Savior's birth, Israel was ruled by alien monarchs. The rights of the royal Davidic family were unrecognized; and the ruler of the Jews was an appointee of Rome.  

Had Judah been a free and independent nation, ruled by her rightful sovereign, Joseph the carpenter would have been her crowned king; and his lawful successor to the throne would have been Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
From Jesus the Christ by James E Talmage, 1922 

The saddest thing of the past 25 years - the unthinking, unrepented, almost universal drift Leftward of once-decent people and institutions into a whirlpool of the inversion of Good

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The title says it. Over the past 25 years or so, I have watched appalled as almost every person and institution that previously I respected and admired, or even loved, has gone over to the dark side. This has been a terribly sad thing.

It is not that these people and groups have nothing good in them - of course they do. But it is a matter of balance - what once did more good then harm, had the heart in the right place; now does more harm than good, and the heart is fixed upon lies.

The people and institutions have succumbed to the inversion of Good: they have substantially relabelled virtue as wicked and vice as the-new-good; they have become habitually dishonest, systematically exaggerating their positives and deliberately concealing their negatives; they pronounce ugliness to be beautiful, and give awards to the hideous and soul-destroying anti-aestheic worlds they make.    

People who were once sensible and decent, organizations that were once working for sensible and decent goals, have thus by increments capitulated to the prevalent secular, Leftist evils; ideas that are superficially merely wrong or nonsensical or 'a matter of opinion' but which - once adopted - reveal themselves to be malignant cancers, actively and pervasively and terminally-destructive of Goodness in its manifestations.

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It is like (and perhaps not just 'like') demonic possession: once fine churches, colleges, hospitals, schools, charities, professions like medicine and law... now spewing slight variations on the same corrosive stuff about diversity, social justice, global warming, inclusiveness...

If you want a clear example of great goodness turned to the service of evil, take a look at the web pages of The Salvation Army: http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/ - it is all there, all the hype, the weasel words - the fingerprints of a modern Leftist bureaucracy corrupted by state subsidies and indistinguishable from the propaganda of government offices. [See note below.]

In fact take a look at the web pages of any and all large and powerful organizations and you will nearly-always see exactly the same underlying purpose at work.

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And this has most often happened without any observable crisis, and without much in the way of objection - no visible or audible protest beyond a few private grumbles.

And - having been very thoroughly corrupted - there is no perceptible awareness among persons or organization that they have, in fact, changed sides - that they are no longer even trying to do what once they were trying to do; but are now dominated by the slogans and pseudo-goals of a political correctness which is almost wholly dishonest and destructive.

And without such awareness, there seems no prospect of repentance.

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All this is terribly sad to me - a population, including many friends and ex-mentors, that has slid insensibly into very thorough, very comprehensive wickedness.

The main explanation is - I think - weakness; the weakness that comes from lack of roots - and the lack of roots from a lack of faith in anything real, objective, solid. In this respect the adherents of 'liberal' religion are indistinguishable from the prevalent agnosticism, atheism and New Age spirituality - all have drifted down the same slippery slope at the same rate and ended up in the same place of corruption, and flaccid, spiteful, aimless destruction of the Good.

So, the sadness is that so much which I thought strong was not strong; so much that I thought brave was not brave, so much that I thought principled was not principled. 

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These are not men and women who have been broken by the system, crushed by overwhelming forces; rather, they are men and women who drifted feebly into corruption by incremental steps; because they were simply floating, bobbing-along like a buoy broken from its anchor, in an increasingly wicked world - floating, especially, in that sea of lies, sensation and despair that is the mass media.

The mass media has carried almost everybody and every organization into this deeply sad state of hollow horribleness, which is in fact a maelstrom, a whirlpool downward - so that there is an acceleration, and more powerful suction, as time goes by.

And - even worse - even among those who are not in that state, almost all people and institutions that remain on the side of net-Good are perceptibly drifting towards that whirlpool: it is a matter of 'not yet' rather than of them holding firm.

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This situation provides near certain grounds for pessimism: for believing that things will get worse; but it is not, after all, grounds for despair.

This passage from the Gospel of John (Chapter 10: 26-30) explains why: it is a source of immediate consolation, and solid grounds for ultimate hope. Jesus is speaking:

Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.

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No matter what kind of world we live in, no matter if everyone around us has fallen; if we hear and follow our Lord then his hand is about us - and nothing on earth can pluck us from his hand. 

We are ultimately safe. We have hope based on that certainty. 

And that certainty is what motivates, en-courages and enables us to fight back; to look about us at what may be done, and do what we personally can, in what manner we personally can, to save some others. 

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Added: I used always to be referencing Nihilism by Eugene Rose (later Father Seraphim Rose) - but I still regard this small book as the best and deepest description of the scope and nature of that modern malaise which I call secular Leftism (or political correctness).

http://www.oodegr.co/english/filosofia/nihilism_root_modern_age.htm#V.

Inter alia he explains why the above mass apostasy from The Good has happened, even/ especially among erstwhile kindly, decent folk:

Nihilism has become, in our time, so widespread and pervasive, has entered so thoroughly and so deeply into the minds and hearts of all men living today, that there is no longer any "front" on which it may be fought; and those who think they are fighting it are most often using its own weapons, which they in effect turn against themselves...

Nihilism is but one side of [the modern] Revolution. Violence and negation are, to be sure, a preliminary work; but this work is only part of a much larger plan whose end promises to be, not something better, but something incomparably worse than the age of Nihilism. If in our own times there are signs that the era of violence and negation is passing, this is by no means because Nihilism is being "overcome" or "outgrown," but because its work is all but completed and its usefulness is at an end. The Revolution, perhaps, begins to move out of its malevolent phase and into a more "benevolent" one--not because it has changed its will or its direction, but because it is nearing the attainment of the ultimate goal which it has never ceased to pursue; fat with its success, it can prepare to relax in the enjoyment of this goal...

Nihilism is, most profoundly, a spiritual disorder, and it can be overcome only by spiritual means; and there has been no attempt whatever in the contemporary world to apply such means.

The Nihilist disease is apparently to be left to "develop" to its very end; the goal of the Revolution, originally the hallucination of a few fevered minds, has now become the goal of humanity itself. Men have become weary; the Kingdom of God is too distant, the Orthodox Christian way is too narrow and arduous. The Revolution has captured the "spirit of the age," and to go against this powerful current is more than modern men can do, for it requires precisely the two things most thoroughly annihilated by Nihilism: Truth and faith.

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Note: Since I browsed the Salvation Army website yesterday, I have been 'spammed' with advertising from them, asking for money, situated on numerous of the web pages I have looked at - presumably via a cookie. This kind of high pressure marketing pretty much says it all that needs to be said about what has become of the Salvation Army.

The inner-directed, inner-fuelled personality of creative Genius

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http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/the-difference-between-conscientious.html
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Monday, 8 December 2014

Additional excerpts added from my new book - Addicted to Distraction: Psychological consequences of the mass media

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http://addictedtodistraction.blogspot.co.uk/

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The reality of Destiny entails belief in a personal deity (albeit, perhaps implicitly)

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My family has been enjoying re-watching (on DVD) the 2008 BBC series of Merlin, each episode of which begins with a voice-over (from the magical dragon):

In a land of myth, and a time of magic, the Destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young boy. His name... Merlin.



In this series there is an interesting difference between the surface and depth. On the surface all references to religion in the court of Camelot have been excluded: there are no priests, to the extent that when Arthur is crowned it is done by the castle librarian (mischievously named Geoffrey of Monmouth)!

But, because the whole story arc is driven by the entwined Destiny of Merlin and Arthur, although no official religion is mentioned, nonetheless a benign deity is necessarily implied by the reality of Destiny.

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It seems that when it comes to serious imaginative literature, Destiny is a necessity - whether it is given a name or simply assumed - as in Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter. And where there is Destiny there must be deity; and not just any deity but a personal god.

Because Destiny necessarily implies that the world is planned with a purpose that includes both the group (society) and also the individual - and this can only be a consequence of there being a god with a personal concern with both 'nations' and individual persons; and both power and  the will to plan and shape multiple events of the world.

Of course, many people who believe in Destiny - or behave or create in ways that demonstrate such an implicit belief - would deny a belief in deity, and perhaps especially deny a belief in a personal god.

Nevertheless, that is exactly what they are assuming; and their failure to recognize and acknowledge the fact must be a failure of rational consistency or of honesty.

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On this basis, an implicit belief in a personal god is much more common than would be suspected. For instance, anyone who really believes in the validity of the Hero Quest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhk4N9A0oCA

is covertly a believer in personal deity.

So, rationally, such a person's next step ought to be to understand, to find out more about, this personal god in which they already believe.

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Previous reference: http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/his-name-lermin.html
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God is, and must be, both out-with and with-in us. Christians need to be more explicit about God within us

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When Christians think of God - we should do so from a dual perspective that he is both out-there - external to us; and also within us - inside our awareness.

(We are Sons and Daughters of God: that is how God is IN us.)

However, the externality of God has been much more greatly emphasized in Christianity, to the point that it has been seen as a religion of 'some God up-there in Heaven, telling us what to do' - because the externality of God has in times and places been used to make a religion of rules and obedience only.

By contrast, 'Eastern' religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism often have a much stronger emphasis on a god-within - that we are ourselves gods, and that the way to contact the gods is to look within - by meditation and spiritual disciplines.

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In the nineteen fifties and sixties, the spiritualism of the time made much of this difference between Western Christianity with its God out-there, and Eastern mystical traditions which look within.

Reading Joseph Campbell, who was raised as a devout Roman Catholic in the Irish tradition of the early 20th century, he makes this contrast repeatedly and persistently in explaining the difference between West and East - and he personally had rejected the externalizing 'objective' concept of Christianity and embraced a 'subjective' inner directed Eastern spirituality.

For people like Campbell (brought-up Christian), Eastern spirituality was about a fresh and exciting emphasis on personal growth, creativity, aesthetic appreciation, embrace of modern science - it was all positive, expanding, joyful. 

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But a god who is merely inner is inadequate, just as a God who is outer is inadequate - very obviously so.

A god who is merely inner is just our-selves - and such a religion is (or soon becomes) a disguised form of self-indulgence; while a God who is merely outer is just a tyrant, running a political system (it would perhaps seem more noble to defy such a purely external god than to worship him). 

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Joseph Campbell had had a solid grounding in Christianity as a child, therefore when he embraced an inner-orientated Eastern Mysticism, in reality he was bringing the effect of that up-bringing with him into the East, and was living a hybrid.

Likewise, the actuality of Eastern religions is that there is a very large element of the external gods about them; gods who set rules and expect obedience - and this objectivity may be very heavily emphasised in the lives of ordinary adherents.

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But it is a damning indictment of the Christianity Campbell grew-up with that it had drifted into a near-exclusive emphasis on the externality of God. That style of Christianity emphasized obedience to rules to the extent of crushing the qualities of personal growth, creativity, aesthetic appreciation, embrace of modern science which Campbell and others like him actively needed.

Yet God must be out-with us in order that He explains anything; in order to structure our lives and to make us a community of believers, in order that life has purpose and meaning.

And God must be carried with-in us in order that the meaning of life may be experienced as alive; that we have a personal destiny as creative, imaginative, exploring individuals.

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So to find God we can look outside; and we also can look inside.

God is wherever we are because he can always be contacted in prayer, and God is wherever we are because we always carry him around.

We can pray to our Father in Heaven, and we can do this in a group and share the experience; and we also can meditate, attune with our inmost being in solitude - and we will find God there too.

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How is this achieved? - mostly through knowing God in a relationship - as our Heavenly Father. God is out-with me because he is not me - he is another person. And God is with-in me because I am my Father's Son, and my Father is therefore intrinsic: part of my make-up.

To use a biological metaphor - I am unique, in being a one-off combination of heredity and experience and specific circumstances; but I also have genes which I got from my parents, and which I share with all other humans - men and women.

Therefore, I am both generic and distinctive.

And I must be both to be Human.

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So Christians should take care not to neglect God within us - actual Christian doctrine and life should never make it possible to draw the outer versus inner contrast that Campbell experienced and taught.

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