Restless Heart of Darkness — Part Three

I am engaged in the difficult task of explaining an insight it required my dull brain several decades of experience and one moment of epiphany to see.

Again, in all fairness, this is something which I assume nearly everyone but me has seen for years: but to me it was an intellectual adventure, as shocking as opening a hidden door and coming across the Minotaur in the center of his bone-littered maze. Many others no doubt have trod here before, but still I feel the excitement of discovery, for I have found the heart of the labyrinth.

I have been puzzled for years how it is that so many otherwise wise and educated people can be Leftists; why so many otherwise compassionate people simply overlook the bloodthirsty enormities routinely perpetrated, applauded, excused, and rationalized by the Left, from prenatal infanticide to lauding Che and Castro and other butchers of men; why otherwise honest men approve of the Orwellian lies of Political Correctness, which corrupts both speech and thought; why so many otherwise good and faithful Christians routinely ignore Christian teaching and cling to the shibboleths of Political Correctness on any point where the two worldviews differ; why so many good people so routinely support, applaud, and encourage so blatantly vile an evil.

It is too obvious for the blindness to be anything but willful, and yet it does not seem to be willful, for who can will the destruction of themselves and all they hold dear? How is it possible for so many children of the most blessed, most powerful, most successful, most wealthy, most free, and most benevolent nation history has ever known to hate it? Why are the heirs of Western Civilization the enemies of Western Civilization?

The epiphany visited me in the space of a single hour, along the course of three conversations with honest men I happen to respect, despite our deep differences of opinion.

It was as if I suddenly could see clinging to the countenances of these otherwise honest and able men, the Facehugger from ALIEN which had been invisible up until that point, whose long proboscis entered their skulls though mouth and palate and shot poison into their brains. I wondered why they did not tear the Facehugger away, and breathe free.

Not to spoil the surprise ending, but the reason the exploded into my awareness like a bolt was this: they have nothing else. They leave the alien thing lodged in their brain, eating away their happiness, ruining their lives, spoiling friendships and darkening the light of heaven for the simple, tragic reason that without the alien thing, they would be lonely.

I mentioned the first discussion and one of many, many nondiscussions which clicked the first two tumblers into place in the process of unlocking this moment of insight. Here is the next.

SECOND DISCUSSION: I Forged My Own Life.

The next clue came during a particularly elliptical conversation about the alleged demerits of Disney: there were some in the conversation who despised Disney because his films retell fairy tales without the gore and horror found in some of the Brothers Grim versions, as when the evil stepsisters in CINDERELLA do not have their eyes pecked out by songbirds, blood and vitreous humor dripping down their screaming cheeks, and because Disney tacks happy endings on tragedies, as in the Disney version of CATHEDRAL OF NOTRE DAME.

The basic point being made was this: children should be exposed to all the horrors of real life as young as possible, and kept away from any stories which give them hope. There are no miracles. There is no magic. No marriages are happy endings. You cannot fly. Curse God and die. Give up. Shut up.

As with all Abolisher ideas, it starts as a perfectly reasonable-sounding notion. In this case the notion is that telling children that to “wish upon a star” is enough to win the battles of life without hard work, self discipline, and suffering is deceptively optimistic. The idea is that the child will grow into a more realistic view of life if the fairy tales he sees depict hard work and self esteem as the source of victory, rather than fairy magic.

This sounds reasonable at first. Who wants to raise a child to have faith in something, like an omnipotent and benevolent God, which will disappoint him, rather than have faith in something much more true and practical, like our omnipotent and benevolent and utterly ruthless Political Leadership, which never disappoints anyone?

But the idea that Disney sugar coats his bitter medicine is patently false. There is more evil and it is more horrible to a child in any Disney animated film than you will find in a ‘Progressive’ and optimistic show like STAR TREK. Any show where you have to die and get resurrected to overcome the evil is not a show that promises easy victories.

I will point at the evil Witch in SNOW WHITE, along with the death and resurrection of the heroine; the slaver who turns children into mules in PINOCCHIO, not to mention Monstro the whale, who engulfs the father in a symbolic death and resurrection before the boy suffers a true death and resurrection; the imprisonment of DUMBO’s mother, and his humiliation as a clown, and the symbolic feather of hope which alone allows him to prevail; the death of BAMBI’s mother; the humiliation of CINDERELLA, and her ‘Magnificat’ moment, when, as in the Canticle of the Virgin, the proud are cast down and the humble are raised; The loss and death and resurrection in Peter Pan, not to mention Captain Hook; the false accusation in LADY AND THE TRAMP, and the mess created by the Siamese Cats; the curses and thorns and thunder and flames unleashed by the she-dragon in SLEEPING BEAUTY, with yet another symbolic death and resurrection; and frightening spectacle of the devilish mountain come to life in the Night on a Bald Mountain sequence in FANTASIA … What is a Klingon compared to that?

Need I go on? Need I also mention the sea-witch in LITTLE MERMAID, the huntsman in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (with yet another symbolic death and resurrection), the evil sorcerer in ALADDIN, the scheming brother in LION KING and the father slain before his son’s eye, the  sinister magistrate in HUNCHBACK whose song of lust conjures up images of hellfire…

The idea that Disney does not scare the peanut oil out of little kids’ brains, and confront the wee ones with death, curses, dragons, monsters, more death, injustices, pirates, even more death, loss, loneliness, and on and on … it is simply a lie unworthy of refuting.

No. Any child watching a Disney movie has the idea driven into the depths of his tender soul, and fixed there as if with nails, that evils and horrors exist, and pain, and loss, and death.

What Disney gives, as all sound fairy tales must give, is a eucatastrophe, a good and miraculous ending beyond hope, with joy as huge as woe, and the terrible, secret promise that if you wish upon a star, heave will send salvation in some secret disguise, to resurrect you.

Allow me to quote the Apostle of Common Sense, Mr GK Chesterton:

“Fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination.

“What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.”

Hence what the Abolisher wishes to abolish is not the fear caused by a fairy tale, but the hope, for he finds it to be a false hope.

To the Abolisher, all hope is false hope.

All hope? No, not quite. Some Abolishers, at least, retain the Enlightenment faith in mortal man, that most warped of building beams.

The conservation dwelt for a moment upon the scene in SLEEPING BEAUTY where the three fairies rescue the Prince out of the dungeon of the beautiful but evil witch (so sue me, I always thought she was beautiful). He is told that only truth and righteousness can overcome the evil power of Maleficent, and he is given a magic sword and shield. The fairies protect him from the gargoyles and hobgoblins of the castle, and brush away all their stones and arrows into bubbles and flowers, for his fate in not to be stopped by them.

Then, in a scene that hardly seems in keeping with the gentleness of Disney, the evil fairy in a whirlwind of fury appears before the prince, and sheds her beauty forever for hate’s sake, and becomes a monster, announcing, Now shall you deal with me, O Prince, and all the powers of Hell!

I voiced the opinion that this climactic scene was perfectly true to life, truer than any documentary, since indeed this is exactly the way life works. No man by his own effort can free himself from the dungeon of sin, despair, and death, but by supernatural intervention by a higher power. And yet that power, not because of any ineffectiveness or indifference, cannot fight man’s final battle for him, but only provide the weapons of truth and virtue, which are magic indeed, enough to slay monsters, and defy not merely some, but all the powers of Hell.

The sacraments and gifts from heaven will do their part; man must see to it that he does his, if true love is indeed to conquer all, as all prophets have promised it shall do.

Ah, but the rebuttal to this was swiftly said: my interlocutor thought the scene was a cheat, if not a lie, because the fairies aided the prince. No man needs any help to win life’s battles, or to achieve his dreams. And no help is coming.

This was said, not by a bricklayer, but by a writer, and I fear I swooned in astonishment. Many questions whirled in my pounding head, to which I, strangled with surprise as I was, could give no tongue.

I wondered where he thought his ideas came from? From himself, or from the muses, or whatever name one gives to the mystery of inspiration? Where did the traditions and tropes and tools he used in his writing come from? From himself? Or from his masters and teachers and ancestors? Where is his fame come from? From himself? Or from the kindness of his audience, the grace of good fortune, the smile of heaven?

I must have gasped out some question along these lines of some sort, because he polled all who were listening to the discussion, which was not a small number of people, and asked them who was responsible for their success, in art or in life? Themselves? And all but two raised their hand.

Everyone in the room was content to take credit for the blessings in their lives, as if it were no more than their just wage, the merited reward of their own works.

It is an inescapable truth that no man can take all credit to himself and at the same time feel any gratitude to any for his blessings. If you earned it, it is not a gift. If you earned it by yourself with no one’s aid, you owe no thanks to anyone.

And this indeed was the attitude, which I take to be the modern attitude. The Abolisher triumphantly announced that he needed no good fairies, no magic, no grace, no gift from heaven to achieve all his dreams. He disdained to take a magic sword of the elfland; he would forge it by himself, for himself, or do without.

I had a prophetic vision then, and saw how Sigfried, who did indeed forge his magic sword for himself, and relied on none but his own strength, came to an end. For he is foredoomed to fall speared in the back, a coward’s blow, by Hagen, a man with the heart and heritage of a dwarf. The man who lives by himself cannot escape his fate, which is to die by himself.

I hope I will not be understood. I do not mock. I bow my head almost in respect akin to fear. I salute the melancholy, doomed, and gloomy pride of this sad and great pagan with whom I spoke. I do not doubt his word, no, not by an iota, the tiniest of letters. I think he is entirely responsible for his life, and he accepts no aid.

And he will die, and his loved ones will die. Some of his loved ones will die in slow pain, and others in merciful swiftness. Some will die before him, so that he will weep by their graves, and there will be no consolation; and some will die after him, so that they will weep by his, and likewise find no consolation.

I bow my head, because at once, as if with a stoke of lightning, I saw that he and all his kind live in a universe which is a sepulcher.

To be sure, it is a coffin of appalling vastness, fifteen billion lightyears in radius, too large for the imagination of man to comprehend even its smallest moiety, godlike in its sheer magnitude of size: but it is a coffin nonetheless, an airtight coffin, hermetically sealed with all the stars trapped inside, and all within are the prey and sport of death and entropy. Everything dream and everything done inside the sepulcher will come to nothing in the end. Escape is not merely impossible, it is unimaginable.

They cannot wish upon a star because to them the sky is black. There are no stars, nor Star-Maker, nor light.

For the pagan, there is by definition no outside, no other realm, no home to which to return, no happy ending, no elfland, no magic, no hope, and if you wish upon a star, you are a childish fool.

And if you pray to that sovereign Providence who fashioned the stars,  when all the Sons of Light shouted aloud for joy, then you are both fool and enemy.

For the noble pagan did not spare to tell all his audience how terrible the false beliefs of the Christian were, and how strong and great the fairies and spiritual beings and princes of the middle air he worshiped were. No, I am not speaking in a metaphor: the man was an occultist.

By no means is every Liberal, Leftist, Progressive, Nihilist, Socialist or other Abolisher of Man a warlock trafficking with unseen powers in hopes of worldly gain; but they all share his goal and his spirit. Only their methods differ.

Let me explain what I mean. I propose that, with minor variations or precursors, in the modern world, there are only three true and honest philosophies which make an honest attempt to deal with the intolerable truth of the world of despair and death in which we live.

Here again is the intolerable truth: Without hope of heaven, without true love, every single desire and aspiration of any kind whatsoever is in vain, for in time, long or short, all pleasure will be gone, and even the pleasure of memory will fail as memory fades.

Death comes unto all estates: princes, prelate, potentates, both rich and poor of all degree. His awful strike no man can flee. Timor Mortis Conturbat Me.

Even an elf as immortal as Oberon would perish when the Earth is swallowed by the sun; even a living machine, long ago having lost all trace of his human origin, who flees beyond the further star, will in time be overcome by entropy, degrade, and perish.

The three ways to deal with this are this intolerable truth: Hedonism, Stoicism, Christianity. Stoicism is true to the character of the noble pagan; Hedonism to that of the ignoble.

When I speak of pagans, I do not mean only those who serve the classical gods and spirits of wood and mountain, sky and underworld. I include their modern brethren who believe in nothing but mortal matter and mortal minds.

Those who speak in cold tones about how life is a Darwinian war of all against all, and pity and mercy have no place, but the state needed self sacrifice and noble courage to fall in battle if the state is to survive — such men are pagans even if they are atheists, because they are Stoics. They are dignified and noble, but doomed, for in their world mankind is the most rough and tough hardcore streetfighters in the circus of life, and we will flourish until some monsters rougher and tougher overwhelm us, and go down fighting, gaily, to the unmarked grave. Read Robert Heinlein’s STARSHIP TROOPERS if you want an undisguised dose of such rhetoric.

Likewise, those who speak of life as a hunt for pleasure, the soaring fumes of wine sparkling in the sun or the profound kisses of women in the dark, and that the deep matters of the end of life or the ends of life need not concern us, for today we laugh, and scorn those who mock our fellowship and cheer — such men are pagans, even if they are atheists, for they crown themselves with floral wreathes and loll at ease like lotus-eaters. Read BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley to see the logical outcome of such a philosophy in action.

Hedonism seeks to distract the mind with pleasures, and find fulfillment in them, as a means to turn away from the looming and silent inevitability of death. It says, let us eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Stoicism turns to look at the oncoming night, and, knowing their is no remedy, seeks to train the soul to die without fear or tears. The choice is to die with dignity like a man or to die shrieking and begging like a slave. The stoic logic is cold and irrefutable: man has no power to avert death forever, nor to escape pain, but he does have to power to do his duty and to adjust his mind to reality, and live according to nature, that is, according to logic. What he cannot avert or avoid, such as death, he accepts with tranquility; what he can avert and avoid, such as falsehood or immodesty or cravenness, he rejects absolutely.

The Stoic teaches that man can only find what tranquility is open to him, within his own mind, where he is sovereign, but in absolute obedience to reason, which is to say, to the conscience. And he leaves the world to inflict pain and wounds and death upon him when so events decree, and he suffers without fear and without regret, knowing that these external things are indeed indifferent to him. He takes firm hold only of what is in his grasp, namely, his soul, and he does not reach for things beyond him, namely, his fortune and his body and his life.

The Christian is akin to the Stoic in despising the world, but surrenders more, even his own soul, in to hands he trusts more than he trusts his own, and he hopes for more than merely tranquility and the hope of enduring pain with dignity. He does not resign himself to death, because his Master has overcome it, and promises to share the endless joy of that infinite victory with any who follow Him.

For the pagan, wishing on a star, or holding a feather of hope to help one to fly, or trying to overcome the rude nature of our birth so as to grow one day into a real boy, all these things, if at all, are pleasing distractions.

They are the distractions of the hedonist, the child’s version of sex and drugs and rock and roll, and the suicide by morphine in the needle of a Euthanasia doctor, once hope for luxurious pleasure in life is gone.

For the Christian, wishing on a star is childhood practice to train the sterner mind of young women and men to wish upon the Bethlehem Star. Holding onto hope as thin and light as a feather is practice to train for grasping angel’s feathers as they bear us aloft in rapture. Seeing puppets made in the image and likeness of man grow by miracle into the higher life of man is a practice for man growing into the higher life into which he is made.

Fairy tales are sometimes claimed by the pagans to be their special property, growing from their traditions. Nonsense. They are as thoroughly Christian as diatonic music, or chivalry, or the Gothic Arch, or the romance, or the Julian calendar, and the pagan names for months and weekdays mean only that those lesser gods are now vassals of our greater.

Greek tragedies, I grant you, belong to the pagans, and express in perfect clarity the hopelessness of a world where death leads either to nothingness, or to the endless suffering of an endless torture-wheel of reincarnation.

No doubt some alert reader will object that there are many other views of life, many other ways of addressing the tragedy of the human condition aside from these three. What about the Eudaimonism of Aristotle, or the sober philosophy of Confucius? What about the mysticism of Lao Tzu, the sublime visions of Theosophy, the rash boldness of Nietzsche, or the Millenarianism of Marx? What about the faithful Mohammedan or the observant Jew? Surely none of these fit into those three categories.

If the categories are taken in their broad sense, these three suffice: whatever is not done for duty and not done for pleasure is done for the sake of the divine. Buddha preached a mystical form of Stoicism, but it was still an attempt to reject the attachments human nature forms to vain and transitory life in this world. Confucius sought the good in the discipline of the social order, and this was to serve humans ends defined by duties and pleasures: a combination of Stoic and Hedonistic philosophy. Nietzsche was a pure hedonist, but his pleasure was in spiritual pride, and he scorned bodily pleasures. Mohammedanism is an offshoot of Christianity and Judaism is a precursor, but both place faith in God rather than in duty or pleasure. In sum, there are only three reasons for any ethical imperative: you should do this because you want to (or you should want to, considering your long term best interest); you should do this because you ought to (and it is noble to do as one ought, no matter any pain involved); you should do this because God wants you to.

If I wanted to be technically accurate, I would distinguish between Hedonists, who seek base and bodily pleasures only, and Epicureans, who seek the longer lasting and truer pleasures involved in a clean conscience, good fellowship, the educated life and the uplifted sentiment — but even this endless essay must have some metes.

Back to the matter:

So the second clatter of the tumbler falling into place was hearing this sad, doomed voice of a tired old man, old as Nestor, still talking with the zest of youth about how he had created his own life himself, by his rules, made himself, saved himself, and owed nothing to any.

And I seemed to see his face, still boasting vainly and smiling an empty smile, as it might look if he were trapped in a coffin of glass like Snow White, and sinking every deeper into a dark and silent ocean with no farther shore and no bottom, drifting slowly out of sight into oblivion, void, and darkness. If his nerve does not break, he can spend his last hours in the airless oblong box playing with his fingers and toes, or writing brave sonnets in his blood on the inner surface of the cover.

Do not think for a moment I mocking or joking. I would honor and salute any man brave enough to face that prospect unafraid. All my life I sought such stoic courage as that, and indeed, deemed it the only prize in life worth having: the Stoic fortitude to live life without craving life. Ah, but experience is a cunning jester. The only time I ever lost my fear of death and become a true Stoic was the hour when the Holy Spirit came to me and baptized my soul, and became a Christian and left the vain and empty arrogance of Stoicism behind forever. Throwing my Stoic philosophy to the wind, I found the Christ returned that and more to me.

Because Christianity is the fulfillment and perfection of human nature, and humans should not fear death, not after death is swallowed up in Christ.  Stoicism, much as I admire it, was an early attempt to abolish human nature, by decreeing certain fears and desire absolutely central to human nature, such as the desire for life and fear of death, to be illogical and unbecoming.

Let us return to the question from whose seed this oak of vast and sprawling essay sprung. Why are the Abolishers of Man filled with hatred for all things normal to human sentiment and human pleasure, of which Disney, by his sheer charm and goodwill, surely must serve as the best example of optimist, hope, wishing upon thosee highest and fairest and brightest of things we call stars?

Why are the Abolishers so angry, so unhappy, so noisy, so bent on destruction and on self destruction?

I will tell you the secret of happiness Oriental sages sought in vain for eons. It is gratitude. When you are grateful for it, a spoonful is a feast. When ungrateful, a feast is a spoonful.

The Abolisher have fled their source of strength, which is Christ. The noble ones fled to Stoicism or some form or variation of it, such as Buddhism, the hardheaded willingness to take the harsh world at it is, without complaint.

The ignoble ones fled to the harem and the barroom and the opium joint, seeking to drown their awareness of life’s harsh reality in the soft haze of distraction and entertainment. The ignoble pagan becomes infantile and whiny, and wants his Nanny and Nurse to do everything for him, from wipe his bottom to pat his fluffy head and feed him pablum: these cravings are shifted by a psychological maladjustment to the government in this modern time, hence, the modern Liberal movement.

Do you see? The noble pagan condemns Christian hope as if it were the false haze of distraction and diversion of the ignoble pagan. The noble pagan cannot tell the difference between the ignoble pagan’s desire for the opium of paradise, and the hard command of Christ that we take up our crosses and follow Him. One moron actually called Christianity the opium of the masses.

Hence, the noble pagan thinks hope is false and despair is truth.

When one knows despair, there is no room for gratitude. Hence, no gratitude, hence, no happiness.

They can never be happy, and so their hearts are restless.

Another quote from Chesterton is here needed:

…The pagan was (in the main) happier and happier as he approached the earth, but sadder and sadder as he approached the heavens. The gaiety of the best Paganism, as in the playfulness of Catullus or Theocritus, is, indeed, an eternal gaiety never to be forgotten by a grateful humanity. But it is all a gaiety about the facts of life, not about its origin.

To the pagan the small things are as sweet as the small brooks breaking out of the mountain; but the broad things are as bitter as the sea. When the pagan looks at the very core of the cosmos he is struck cold. Behind the gods, who are merely despotic, sit the fates, who are deadly. Nay, the fates are worse than deadly; they are dead. 

The common bond is in the fact that ancients and moderns have both been miserable about existence, about everything, while mediaevals were happy about that at least. I freely grant that the pagans, like the moderns, were only miserable about everything — they were quite jolly about everything else. I concede that the Christians of the Middle Ages were only at peace about everything — they were at war about everything else.
The mass of men have been forced to be gay about the little things, but sad about the big ones. Nevertheless (I offer my last dogma defiantly) it is not native to man to be so. Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live. Yet, according to the apparent estate of man as seen by the pagan or the agnostic, this primary need of human nature can never be fulfilled.

Joy ought to be expansive; but for the agnostic it must be contracted, it must cling to one corner of the world. Grief ought to be a concentration; but for the agnostic its desolation is spread through an unthinkable eternity.

This is what I call being born upside down. The sceptic may truly be said to be topsy-turvy; for his feet are dancing upwards in idle ecstacies, while his brain is in the abyss. To the modern man the heavens are actually below the earth. The explanation is simple; he is standing on his head; which is a very weak pedestal to stand on. But when he has found his feet again he knows it.

Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small. The vault above us is not deaf because the universe is an idiot; the silence is not the heartless silence of an endless and aimless world. Rather the silence around us is a small and pitiful stillness like the prompt stillness in a sick-room. We are perhaps permitted tragedy as a sort of merciful comedy: because the frantic energy of divine things would knock us down like a drunken farce. We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels. So we sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence, while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear.

Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.

(Alas, I am not done yet. On to part four.)

47 Comments

  1. Comment by wormme:

    Not to dismiss your epiphany, which I’ll be studying for some time, but your argument of three philosophies is needlessly complex. Two are all that is needed:

    We are the product of either chance or design.

    Either matter created mind, or mind created matter. Both concepts are appalling. If matter created mind then the universe is but a tomb. If mind created matter then we are but constructs. Mechanisms. Dreams. We are eternally inferior. Neither possibility is tolerable to us, as we are now.

    Yet one is true.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      With all due respect, while your insight is quite clever, it speaks to a different point than what I was addressing. You say there are only two possibilities, both of which, as we presently are constituted, are intolerable to us. You are explaining why it is inevitable that beings both in love with life and in love with pride find this intolerable.

      My question is different. Given the premise that the human condition is intolerable to the human spirit, what is the possible reactions or psychological strategies to deal with it?

      Let me suggest that there are only three possibilities to your two intolerable truths: those who love the pleasures of life and who are willing to abandon all pride and dignity are the Hedonists, who live like swine. Those who love pride and who are willing to abandon love of life are Stoics, and they die with the dignity of a Socrates or a Cato of Utica. Those who surrender both love of this life and pride in the vanities of this world are martyrs in Christ, and they live for a life beyond this one, and a purge of the burden of pride, which we see to be sin.

    • Comment by John Hutchins:

      Or matter and mind are co-eternal and a fullness of joy comes via a perfect joining of matter and mind. So that we are children placed in a nursery by our parents to learn how to live and with help overcome our errors so as to be able to return to them as heirs, if we are declared worthy by the anointed heir.

  2. Comment by sparrow:

    Very helpful – really enjoyed this 3 part series. It reminds me of the despair I came from before He graced me with the theology virtues of faith and hope. Your posts reminded me of the ugliness I had forgotten when life was dark and hope was dead and everything seemed pointless. I tried both the hedonistic and stoic models and did both poorly and was unhappy with both. How amazing it was that from that pit God condescended to grant me life and joy. Thank you so much for reminding me – you stirred up gratitude in me; what a gift and act of spiritual mercy.

  3. Comment by Brian Niemeier:

    “And if you pray to that sovereign Providence who fashioned the stars, when all the Sons of Light shouted aloud for joy, then you are both fool and enemy.”

    Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

  4. Comment by KFJ:

    Without even breaking a sweat, I can counter your Procrustean theological taxonomy with at least one counter-example: Gnosticism. The Gnostic/Christian dichotomy runs perpendicular to your Stoic/Hedonist one.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Fair enough. I will add a line to the essay showing that heresies of Christianity fall into the same camp as Christianity, and react to the tragedy of the human condition in the same way.

    • Comment by John Hutchins:

      I don’t agree with you that Gnosticism is itself a dichotomy with Christianity. There are and were quite a lot of various forms of Gnosticism, some of which are very much Christian. In specific Evangelicals, Christian Science, and Mormonism (my own faith) while all being very different from each other, each takes as central to their metaphysics, and their conceptions of salvation, ideas which are attributed to gnosticism by Catholic polemics and found in various gnostic texts discovered in the last century.

      There are also forms of Gnosticism which can only be considered to be mystical hedonism, which is probably the form you are thinking of as it is often what is meant by the term, due to Catholic polemics and this appearing to actually be the most common form both anciently and currently (to the point that the other current Christian forms are not often considered as gnostic).

  5. Comment by Darrell:

    Mr. Wright

    I think that you might find interesting Fr. Stephen’s series of blog posts on “The Modern Project” as many of his conclusions are not dissimilar to your own.

    http://glory2godforallthings.com/2014/01/10/the-modern-project/

  6. Comment by Aurini:

    Thank you for the brilliant essay.

    Something I’ve been pondering lately is the Satanists. Those who know that God exists – those who must know, for it is the foundation of their works – yet choose to manipulate the threads of the divine for the purposes of nihilistic control over other Men.

    I can understand the abolishers – the leftists – whatever you wish to call them. Rebellious pride mixed with pleasurable distractions, eventually culminating in a narcissistic shell, an event-horizon of the soul, wherein all the torments of Hell are eternal. At some point they rejected Hope, chose not to overcome their twisted nature, and now suffer the agony of their self-imposed misery.

    That I get.

    But the Satanist doesn’t get twisted up behind an event-horizon, he never denies the existence of that thread, he tugs and pulls on such threads to manipulate others into the event horizon. Far worse than a cult leader, who merely elects himself God, and pulls on the strings of human consciousness which the divine threads are meant to connect to – the Satanist has brook with the divine. And yet he uses it for evil.

    Perhaps these people are just another form of abolisher, a more nuanced narcissistic shell, but I suspect there’s more to it than that. They’re rare, and very hard to spot, but they’re out there.

    If you ever have thoughts on the matter I’d love to hear them.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I know many noepagans and witches, more than I know Christians, but I do not know any Satanists. Neopaganism is a form of Christianity which has been adapted for our politically correct age. It has nothing to do with real paganism, which involved sacrifices to gods actually believed to exist, and the believe in virtue, chastity, honor, and so on. Neopaganism is more like an abortive technology than a faith, an attempt to control the spirits to control the world to one’s benefit. It is relativistic, pluralistic, non-dogmatic, bland, dull, fireless. There are no neopagan martyrs.

      Satanism is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. As best I can tell from which little I have read of the writings of Satanists my suggestion is that we should take them at their word.

      Namely, they hate God for his goodness, and because their pride forbids them to bow the knee. They would rather go to hell than be happy in a subservient position. I assume they do not know or do not care who is going to win the War in Heaven, but they side with Satan because that is where their heart is.

    • Comment by Stephen J.:

      I don’t know any actual practicing Satanists either, but I did peruse Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible at one point; the interesting (for a certain value of that word) thing I hadn’t realized is that LaVey’s brand of “Satanism” is, in fact, consciously and formally atheistic. The book in question defines all the “Satanic” habits of thought, emotion and mind as simply what one must do to win one’s conflicts and get what one wants, and any of the self-conditioning rituals that use Satanic imagery are formally stated to be mere psychological props that work for the same reason any consciously practiced motivational habit works. It’s a Satanism which claims “Satan” doesn’t exist, except as an imago in your head for all your repressed passions and drives which will let you get what you really want if you just unlock them.

      What terrified me about the book was that if I had been the Devil, and I was looking for a way to get people to damn themselves, this is precisely what I would have told them. Screwtape’s “Materialist Magician”, indeed.

      • Comment by Aurini:

        Your final paragraph is bang-on.

        Satanists preach atheism, but cleave to private theism (Anton LeVey’s authorized biography openly states his belief in the supernatural, despite his claims). From what I gather the Priesthood’s first two rules are:

        1. Don’t be stupid.
        2. Don’t be a solipsist.

        They are more than happy to promote such solipsism in their followers, however. Solopsists are easy to manipulate – ergo, why the mainstream culture promotes solopsism, it keeps people in a state of obedient little consumerism.

        For the record, I’m fairly confident that most of the ‘directors’ of our society are neither Satanists, nor are they part of some Illuminati Cabal – they merely use the same tactics due to the logic of institution. The company which is willing to market solipsism to its consumers is the company that grows big. You’ll sell more Levis by equating them with sex, than by demonstrating the quality. Only a solipsist would fall for that tactic, but with the breakdown of the Church we’ve got a lot of solipsists these days.

        The actual Satanists are hidden in plain sight, generally dressed up as people fighting for the Good. One of the great ironies in life, is that one of the best ways to sabotage another person is to give them good advice which they aren’t ready for. You can take a text with is 99% true, mix in 1% falsehood, and a whole bunch of advanced-knowledge which the target audience isn’t ready for – and bam! You’ve got a legion of solipsists hanging off of your every word.

        The vast majority of these people are, in fact, nothing but twisted up narcissists – but there are a few of Lewis’ “Materialist Magicians” out there. They’re working with metaphysical knowledge which is largely absent these days.

        >Satanism is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. As best I can tell from which little I have read of the writings of Satanists my suggestion is that we should take them at their word.

        >Namely, they hate God for his goodness, and because their pride forbids them to bow the knee. They would rather go to hell than be happy in a subservient position.

        I think you might be right. The one lie that I hear from them rather frequently, is the rejection of hierarchy. The “We’re all equal!” mantra (though, granted, this is ubiquitous).

        Of course, without an explicit, acknowledged hierarchy, you get a secret hierarchy. But most people don’t notice this.

        :/ I hope that didn’t go too “Conspiracy Theory” – generally I avoid this topic because it makes one sound like a snake handler.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          I am a bit of a conspiracy theorist myself, but only in the sense that I think that a common set of ideas, values, and warped philosophical principles will make large numbers of people work toward the same end state, even if none of them has that as a conscious goal. I do not believe in some comic book Vandal Savage running the Illuminati which only Vic Sage, the Question, can penetrate: but I do believe that a philosophy which defines ‘the good’ as whatever increases personal liberty — but never questions the wisdom of any choices (even self destructive or suicidal ones) — will makes it so that any partisan of that philosophy will give aid and comfort to any social movement heading in the direction of ever greater liberty. This, alas, means that if the direction if greater liberty is the direction of libertinism, of dishonesty in business, of sexual perversion, and of flight from reality, then all the partisans convinced of the philosophy will follow each other anywhere, even off a cliff.

          Does that make sense? I believe all the major news media are in a conspiracy against conservatism, against God, and for the antichrist, but only in the limited specific sense of that the vast majority of newsmen are liberals, and the liberal worldview produces a similarity of outlook and a similarity of priority which makes the media all follow each other, even down the slippery slope of honest reporting by unnoticed slow imperceptible degrees into the mire and muck of propaganda partisanship.

          • Comment by idontknowbut@gmail.com:

            Lewis’ Screwtape says that the warping of ideas is orchestrated by fallen angels, and that attempts to partition debate into two wrong sides are driven by the influence of the Adversary on people who rarely know who they serve. I think he was right–there is a vast conspiracy, too vast for us to see, in which our human adversaries are mostly pitiable pawns.
            We live in a sea of influences, mostly guided by the prince of the power of the airwaves, and our struggle is not against flesh and blood.

      • Comment by robertjwizard:

        Shamefully, way back in the 80′s, I, for a time, a short time, “practiced” LaVey’s Satanism and was quite familiar with his book. Also, it stands as no mystery to me now how I eventually gravitated to Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

        The satanist, at least in LaVey’s variety, extols the seven deadly sins and advocates the indulgent participation in each. It is only atheistic from a Nietzschean point of view, that God is manmade as all his gods were. The status of Satan himself is ambiguous, referred to as a force rather than a personage. The concept of the Devil as a personage was a Christian “bogeyman” conjured to scare away those nature fearful of indulging in the nature of the flesh. But regardless the Christian God is the god of the weak, stifling man’s proper satanic role as carnal beasts – a nature that we should indulge in “religiously”.

        It is not too terribly difficult to figure out any Satanic position. Just take any Christian position and turn it on its head. If Jesus says to offer the other cheek when struck, the obvious satanic counter would be to smash the hell out of the person.

        The rest of the book devolves into the voodoo of hilarious incantations.

        It is also worth noting that LaVey’s, and I assume most of these cultists, view of Christianity is on the level of a common, ignorant, disgruntled teenager. For instance he refers to the immaculate conception as the conception of Jesus, when it actually refers to the conception of Mary.

        Also such pearls of wisdom as the prohibition against masturbation was a master move of religionists to induce guilt because they knew man couldn’t keep his hand off himself, and so could gain power over his indulgence by inducing guilt over performing it.

        The satanic credo on sex is the libertarian/libertine credo of our age – I quote from The Satanic Bible (and if I may say, writing this post is making me ill):

        Satanism encourages any form of sexual expression you may desire, so long as it hurts no one
        else.

        • Comment by Mary:

          Reminds me of a poster who all but frothed at the mouth when I asked the obvious question — how can you tell (in advance no less) whether it will hurt someone else?

          Ending with the sulky conclusion that I ought to be able to just tell.

        • Comment by Arakawa:

          “It is not too terribly difficult to figure out any Satanic position. Just take any Christian position and turn it on its head. If Jesus says to offer the other cheek when struck, the obvious satanic counter would be to smash the hell out of the person. ”

          Perhaps, but there’s a far more subtle deception as well, wherein Satan presents a visible counterfeit of the things of God — plastic food, with zero nutritional value for the spirit.

          An uncontroversial example: God institutes the Sabbath, because it is death for man to spend every day of his life mired in worldly labours and enjoyments, such that the things of the spirit are entirely drowned out. To this, the Enemy brings forth Pharisees, who also institute the Sabbath, and sternly forbid man to do either good or evil on that day; not realizing that this is a net win for Hell, because the man who does good will be choked and stifled by such a commandment, but the man who does evil will do evil regardless of what the Pharisees instruct.

  7. Comment by AkHaephestus:

    Mr. Wright,
    I must respectfully disagree with you. The Despairing self creators are not Stoics, they are Satanists disguised as Cathars. The Psuedo-Stoics are do not share the dark and terrible vision of the Sagas, nor the pious moderation of a Boethius, comforted even in prison by his love of Truth. They are much worse than the stoics, for even as he persecuted the Church, a Christian might profit from the wisdom of Aurelius’ meditations. Sven the Bloody handed makes no secret of his interest in your nubile daughter, and will forthrightly face you in battle. Better to conquer or go to the halls of feasting than forget that courage is the first of the nine virtues.

    Consider
    When enemies attack their country do they
    a) march out to meet the foe, to defend the graves of your fathers and the temples of your fathers’ gods. Your own mother’s slap still stinging your face as she tells you she would rather your shield served as a funerary bier than be known as the mother of a Coward. or
    b) succor her enemies and deride her defenders, calling themselves superior for pacifism, shunning war. and yet demand the protection of the City Walls should the enemy succeed.

    How do these moderns Honor the Marriage Vow
    a) strictly each man keeping only his one wife, lest they anger Mighty Hera, or prepared to start a blood feud over improper courtship
    b) Use Clintionian weasel words to justify seducing young maidens, and to promote sodomy as “healthy”

    In matters of law and contracts, or punishment of crime, do they?
    a) have strict codes, rigidly enforced, terrified of what happens to Oath Breakers. Meting out Death for murderers, whipping or humiliation for drunkards each according to the gravity of the offense
    b) treat the laws and constitutions with utter contempt, shopping courts and legislatures till they get the result they desire. then holding said result as holy writ.
    Coddle murderers and give them 20 year reprieves through contempt for justice. Create a whole slew of crimes unknown to common law, merely to ruin the lives of respectable citizens.

    In matters of story telling and the teaching of youth do they
    a) Hold its as a sacred trust, that the young men should be brave, pious, and honor his superiors, to esteem wisdom, revere the elders, ancestors and the gods. To shun hubris, be mindful of the folly that lies down that road, lest ye be destroyed.
    b)Tell the young that they have nothing to learn from their elders, to mock the brave as suckers, to deride wisdom, hard earned, as outdated and foolish. To glory in their own over inflated and puerile accomplishments.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I am not sure we disagree. The modern age is ruled by what I called Ignoble Pagans, that is, those who deal with the despair of the human condition by seeking temporary pleasures.

      The only thing I said was that the one person to whom I was speaking when we discussed Disney movies claimed to have created his whole life by himself, and I took him at his word. I think he has the bold and Stoic character I perceived. But he is indeed rare.

      So, I vote (b) in every question. The Pagans would be shocked by the folly and depravity of the Postmoderns. Our culture is subpagan.

      • Comment by Aurini:

        The majority of upper-class Liberals – despite advocating degeneracy amongst the masses – tend to lead fairly proper lives themselves. The divorce rate is low amongst the upper classes, and military service is honoured, so long as you’re an officer, and so long as you don’t express ‘militant’ ideas.

        There are the overweening culture of Ignoble Pagans – victimhood, pacifism, free love – but the upper classes tend to avoid such things, or at the very least use them responsibly.

        Heck, even Joe Biden claims to own a gun, despite advocating for gun control.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          Agreed. That most of the partisans of indecency and evil and themselves happily married, decent, and non-evil is one of the mysteries that this essay is seeking to explain.

          • Comment by John Hutchins:

            The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism. Longhairs, beards, necklaces, LSD and rock, Big Sur and Woodstock come and go, but Babylon is always there: rich, respectable, immovable, with its granite walls and steel vaults, its bronze gates, its onyx trimmings and marble floors (all borrowed from ancient temples, for these are our modern temples), and its bullet-proof glass–the awesome symbols of total security. Keeping her orgies decently private, she presents a front of unalterable propriety to all. As the early Christian writers observed, Babylon always wins: in every showdown throughout history, Satan has remained in possession of the field, and he still holds it.

            – Hugh Nibely, “What is Zion? A Distant View”

            • Comment by Mary:

              The fun is that nowadays we get the self-righteous harlots and publicans, only too eager to thank God that they are not like other people—self-righteous, goodie-goodie, hypocritical—or even like this Pharisee

              • Comment by John Hutchins:

                Nibley covers self-righteous harlots and publicans specifically in that same work, I just didn’t quote it.

                Pride is always the danger when one has, or think they have, received, or understood, something from God.

    • Comment by Mary:

      Should I post it again? I posted it in this blog earlier this week. . . but I shall be shameless.

      A Cliche Came Out of its Cage

      1

      You said ‘The world is going back to Paganism’.
      Oh bright Vision! I saw our dynasty in the bar of the House
      Spill from their tumblers a libation to the Erinyes,
      And Leavis with Lord Russell wreathed in flowers, heralded with flutes,
      Leading white bulls to the cathedral of the solemn Muses
      To pay where due the glory of their latest theorem.
      Hestia’s fire in every flat, rekindled, burned before
      The Lardergods. Unmarried daughters with obedient hands
      Tended it. By the hearth the white-arm'd venerable mother
      Domum servabat, lanam faciebat. At the hour
      Of sacrifice their brothers came, silent, corrected, grave
      Before their elders; on their downy cheeks easily the blush
      Arose (it is the mark of freemen’s children) as they trooped,
      Gleaming with oil, demurely home from the palaestra or the dance.
      Walk carefully, do not wake the envy of the happy gods,
      Shun Hubris. The middle of the road, the middle sort of men,
      Are best. Aidos surpasses gold. Reverence for the aged
      Is wholesome as seasonable rain, and for a man to die
      Defending the city in battle is a harmonious thing.
      Thus with magistral hand the Puritan Sophrosune
      Cooled and schooled and tempered our uneasy motions;
      Heathendom came again, the circumspection and the holy fears …
      You said it. Did you mean it? Oh inordinate liar, stop.

      2

      Or did you mean another kind of heathenry?
      Think, then, that under heaven-roof the little disc of the earth,
      Fortified Midgard, lies encircled by the ravening Worm.
      Over its icy bastions faces of giant and troll
      Look in, ready to invade it. The Wolf, admittedly, is bound;
      But the bond will break, the Beast run free. The weary gods,
      Scarred with old wounds, the one-eyed Odin, Tyr who has lost a hand,
      Will limp to their stations for the last defence. Make it your hope
      To be counted worthy on that day to stand beside them;
      For the end of man is to partake of their defeat and die
      His second, final death in good company. The stupid, strong
      Unteachable monsters are certain to be victorious at last,
      And every man of decent blood is on the losing side.
      Take as your model the tall women with yellow hair in plaits
      Who walked back into burning houses to die with men,
      Or him who as the death spear entered into his vitals
      Made critical comments on its workmanship and aim.
      Are these the Pagans you spoke of? Know your betters and crouch, dogs;
      You that have Vichy water in your veins and worship the event
      Your goddess History (whom your fathers called the strumpet Fortune).

      C.S. Lewis

  8. Comment by guido.jorg:

    This is an interesting essay. I agree to a large extent.

    However, although I see your point regarding the plot of Disney cartoons, due to their self-censorship, I do not see Disney ever making something truly POWERFUL, judged from the sense of the development in a traditional novel.

    Would Disney EVER make a literal adaptation of 1984? But why not show it to children? They can read it; so why can’t they be shown it?

    Why pull punches? That is why Japanese animation has large popularity here in Europe, among many age groups, which is surprising from a Western perspective on cartoons. It has more variety and often more lasting impact.

    Consider a typical Eastern plot. What happens if enemy soldiers enter the city? “As you would imagine,” they casually execute everyone and plunder the town. Perhaps the hero or heroine has good luck and there is a happy ending. Sometimes there is a bad ending; but why censor what happens in between?

    Self-censoring simply restricts the subject matter on which the film can be based, does it not? And the subject matter tackled is 50% of the impact that film, series, novel, etc, makes. Isn’t it?

    Disney, for instance, would NEVER produce 1984, Cato, Hyperion, Water Margins, Hakkenden. Nor will they ever produce the Lensmen, or the majority of science fiction novels. However, why should they be “unfilmable”?

    Notice that Disney will never produce the animated version of Kayn, Babi Yar, or Life and Death in Shanghai, while Japanese studios MIGHT actually do it.

    (Barefoot Gen, From the New World, Megazone 23,I,II, Serial Experiments Lain, Kino’s Journey, Hakkenden, Berserk, Grave of the Fireflies, Texhnolyze, Shiki, Shigurui, Sonic Boom Squadron, Legend of Galactic Heroes, etc.)

    Therefore I would not say that the demand for absence of self-censorship in media has anything to do with people thinking with their socialist hat on. Socialists love censorship. Did the USSR or China produce any gruesome films? Not one.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I have only two questions, which I do not mean a rhetorical questions. (1) Do you have any children in the 5-10 range?(2) Have you ever been desperate, desperate, to find some animated feature length film to which to take them, something you could also enjoy as an adult — Something for which you would be willing to spend, say, up to 70 dollars to take your whole family?

      I will say, speaking only for myself, that the moment Disney started making gruesome films, they would lose all the good will they have built up around their brand name for decade after decade after decade.

      I assure you Disney knows its audience, which includes many grateful parents, including me.

      • Comment by DGDDavidson:

        I formerly disapproved of Disney’s Disneyfication, but I think you have convinced me, not only that Disney ought, in producing children’s movies, to keep them child appropriate, but that Disney movies contain sterner content than we give them credit for.

        I recently read the original Bambi, which easily beats Watership Down for the title of bloodiest and most violent children’s book about fuzzy animals, and I watched the Disney adaptation soon after to compare. Disney almost entirely eliminated the violence and altered the story a great deal, but, as you say, he wouldn’t have drawn parents and their small children to the movie if he’d made a literal adaptation.

        If I have any objection to Disney films, it is that they often drain the works they adapt of their spiritual content. The original “Little Mermaid” is a Christian allegory, and Bambi, which was written by a Jew, is a depiction of a man’s (or a deer’s) spiritual journey and his realization of God. But you’ve demonstrated to my satisfaction that Disney movies end up making fine Christian allegories anyway, even if Uncle Walt perhaps didn’t know it.

        • Comment by Carbonel:

          Bambi is not, and never was, a children’s book. It’s a German novel, for adults, “A Life in the Forest.”

          That people don’t realize that Disney’s source material mayn’t be for children probably speaks more to a failure of education than a failure of adaptation. After all, I adored the Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare as a child: they prepared me very well for the time when I was old enough to fall in love with the work of the bard. I read Bambi and Kim solely because I liked the Disney films, and am the better for it.

          I wonder how many found the real “Little Mermaid” because of the excellent Disney film (I went in prepared to loathe it) and then read the other wonderful stories by Mr. Anderson?

    • Comment by The Ubiquitous:

      I realize that you mean animated films, but do you realize that Disney as a brand is not about adult films, while Disney as a conglomerate produced:

      1. Judge Dredd (1995)
      2. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
      3. The Rock
      4. An American Werewolf in Paris
      5. The Sixth Sense
      6. Apocalypto
      7. The Prestige
      8. The Count of Monte Cristo
      9. Pearl Harbor
      10. (Most Coen Bros. films.)

      &c. ?

      These are all made through Touchstone Entertainment or the now-defunct Hollywood Pictures. I don’t know which of these are gruesome, but they certainly are adult.

      If anything, the disconnect between “gruesome” and “animation” is an American thing. Basically, you don’t get more gruesome in American animation more than The Nightmare Before Christmas, or Coraline, or The Corpse Bride, or ParaNorman, and that’s a very closely related family of animated movies. You see the same thing in

      In fact, what major animated film from any Anglophone country has any amount of gore? Or, for that matter, sex? (I’m sure there are a few this side of Ralph Bakshi, but there certainly aren’t all that many.) This is a cultural thing, not a Disney thing. If anything, Japan is the outlier here — maybe Korea too, I dunno — and not American animation.

  9. Comment by The Ubiquitous:

    They leave the alien thing lodged in their brain, eating away their happiness, ruining their lives, spoiling friendships and darkening the light of heaven for the simple, tragic reason that without the alien thing, they would be lonely.

    Any single one of your ideas makes the best story in the world, and the rest of it is just execution. Here I come, Microsoft Notepad —

  10. Ping from Lightning Round -2014/02/05 | Free Northerner:

    […] The hopelessness of the left. Related: The heart of the leftest is empty and lonely. […]

  11. Ping from The New Blather » We must become saints:

    […] essay has four parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four. It is a long read, but should be of interest to anyone who, like me, finds himself […]

  12. Comment by Centurion13:

    This place amazes me. No trolls, not one. Everyone does their homework. Everyone is polite and what is more, I feel humbled and raised up at the same time, just reading the comment section. The essays themselves? They put into words things I have been feeling for decades, but was unable to put a finger on.

    More than anything else, it reminds me of the first time I picked up “The Screwtape Letters”. Thank you for writing these things, Mister Wright.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      We have plenty of trolls here. When I say homosexuality is illogical, they do not show up. When I say that Liberals and Leftists are trying to impose censorship and uniformity of thought on the American public (as well as on Science Fiction writers) they show up, not to defend themselves against my accusation of their totalitarian wet-dreams, but to call me a homophobe.

  13. Comment by Centurion13:

    I have noticed that a lot of the Liberal/Leftist types tend to do that – attack, attack, always attack. Economy of effort, it appears, as they slander you (satisfying their egos) and erode your position (you’re only operating from prejudice or emotion, so your statements are not based on reason. You can’t help saying what you do because you’re a bigot or whatever. So there’s no reason to pay attention to you).

    Naturally, this is their only position ever – even with each other, and you should see the fur fly over at the atheist boards when, as often happens, someone sniffs ideological taint in someone else’s comments. As with many Islamists, they are their own worst enemy when there is no ‘outside’ to attack, to unite them (however briefly).

    But you know all this.

    I do, however, detect a bit of the lure of the Internet (and its massive audience looking for titillation) behind all the recent atheist activity. It would seem that some (not all) don the Atheist mantle not because they are burgeoning narcissists, or raging egoists, but simply because they are attention whores. They’ll do or say anything for a LOL, as long as it is acknowledged by folks on the Web. The more outrageous the better – and I suspect they also make up a goodly number of the trolls we see.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      even with each other, and you should see the fur fly over at the atheist boards when, as often happens, someone sniffs ideological taint in someone else’s comments. As with many Islamists, they are their own worst enemy when there is no ‘outside’ to attack, to unite them…. But you know all this.

      Actually, no, not at all. No atheist I knew or read when I was an atheist behaved in this way. Are atheists different from merely seven years ago when I was an atheist? Did someone drop the intelligence-destroying bomb on them?

      Or, I should say, even back when I was an atheist, I saw the difference between rightwing atheists, who, by and large, were atheists because they saw no need to hypothesize an intelligent creator to explain nature; and leftwing atheists, who, by and large, were atheists because they were mad at God because they didn’t get a pony when they prayed for a pony.

      • Comment by robertjwizard:

        As Dylan said, “The Times they are a-changin’”

        I would say Centurion13 is talking about the New Atheists, and they were just getting started when you were leaving camp. Sure, Hitchens and Dawkins were out there telling people religion and faith should be publicly scorned and treated with contempt. But it takes time to raise an army of drones, the army is out there now.

        The Old Atheists are a dying lot – dying literally, converting, or de-evolving into New Atheists, I do not know.

        So, yes, someone did drop an intelligence destroying bomb on them.

        I went searching for a choice quote for you from an atheist forum. There were thousands to choose from. From lack of grammar, spelling, awe inspiring ignorance, malice, abuse, foul language, locker room behavior, to just plain outright ridiculous claims. I spent – strike that – wasted 2 hours entranced by it all.

        But I managed to pick one out of many (heh, that will be a pun in a second).

        Theocratic fascists betrayed American values when they changed the national slogan of E pluribus unum to “In God We Trust”. It amounts to treason in my opinion.

        I’m laughing.

  14. Comment by Centurion13:

    Huh. Well, several years back I ventured over to the Internet Infidels board. And about a year ago, I visited some of the atheist blogs. It took a strong will to just observe and not jump in with a witty rejoinder. I am afraid I gave into temptation at least once.

    That said, I saw a furball over at Pharyngula and many nasty remarks in the comments section of other atheist blogs. Mostly, Christians seemed to fight shy of these places – and even Stan of Atheism Analyzed was hard-put to deal with the tide of invective when his comments weren’t being deleted outright – so the regular ranks of atheists appeared to be having at each other, venting their ‘impenitent spite’.

    It would seem there are rabidly feminist atheists, many of them male, and then there are atheists who see few limits on their personal behavior at atheist social gatherings. I believe one of the offended was a character named ‘SkepChick’. Those guys were going round and round.

    Apparently, declaring the moral high ground to be whatever you happen to be doing at the moment (a tradition of the atheist and, it seems, the Left in general) is eventually going to get you into trouble, even with other atheists. It exposes the whole ‘Will to Power’ thing for what it is… a regression back to the Law of the Jungle, where whoever has the biggest stick decides what is Right. For today, at least, or until someone with a bigger stick comes along.

    Ay, geez. Declaring Man to be merely another animal DOES have its drawbacks. One of them is that acting like an animal is expected. The howls of protest from those lower on the food chain that it’s not ‘fair’ would be ironically amusing if it weren’t so painful to watch them when THEY get the upper hand. And do the same things.

    • Comment by Arakawa:

      “a regression back to the Law of the Jungle, where whoever has the biggest stick decides what is Right.”

      To be fair to the Jungle, Rudyard Kipling did point out that the Jungle actually has many sensible and somewhat fair Laws; whereby it is a significant improvement over many Internet forums.

      • Comment by Centurion13:

        Oh, I have NOTHING against the Law of the Jungle. But as to whether it is sensible or somewhat fair is almost beside the point: it’s the Law animals live by (in this corrupted world) and is not meant for men.

        If by ‘sensible’ and ‘fair’ you mean that it does not contain treachery, hatred, and delusional ‘world-making’ all floating on a continuous stream of rampant egoism, then in that sense, it has one advantage – it’s clean.

        Or at least cleaner to contemplate. I have to gird my loins before I venture into one of those places, and these days I will not do it unless a link sends me there. The very walls of the blogs are papered with hatred and, as C. S. Lewis put it, ‘impenitent spite’.

        Imagine yourself looking through your monitor into a little room where everywhere vertical surface is covered with Stalin-era slogans and pictures. Imagine that in the center of that small, uncomfortably warm room is a sallow-faced skinny young man, his face smooth and unlined, dressed in this [http://www.soviet-uniforms.com/items/_110/110.html].

        He is seated behind a large wooden desk that takes up most of the room, and on it are various models of machines which you recognize as past attempts at perpetual motion. He has his feet on the desk and in the center of his blotter is a Soviet-style Makarov pistol, with clip in place and the safety off.

        He is lazily watching you through half-lidded eyes, his cap pushed back. A dying fly buzzes on the floor in the corner – it spins in circles as you watch, then stops. You can hear music coming through a small radio on a small table in the corner. It sounds like this [www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5j54CFvzKo].

        This is what one of those blogger sites is like. It sends shivers up my spine just thinking about it. Would YOU willingly step in?

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