Friday, 17 November 2017

Barriers to primary thinking and final participation

What are the barriers that tend to prevent us from living in primary thinking and achieving final participation?

The answer is partly interference from modern culture - partly its unprecedented number and pervasiveness of distractions, but mainly its materialist, anti-spiritual, anti-religious metaphysics. This means that any inklings a person may have of the reality of primary thinking, or experiences of final participation, will typically be interpreted in subjective terms - and therefore as an ephemeral, unreal product of wishful thinking.

But another factor is that primary thinking requires consciousness; it is not merely a matter of 'instinct'; therefore we cannot 'relax' into it, but must attain it purposively and actively. The typical spiritual guidance tends to recommend a passive process along the lines of the sixties mantra of 'turn on, tune in, drop out'- or a meditation practice which is negative and aiming at assimilation with the divine, rather than a conscious participation.

On top of these, there is the near-totalitarian dominance of modern culture; especially, in recent decades, via the mass media and social media; on top of the shallowness and mutual exploitativeness of most social interaction in an age where public discourse is actively hedonic or crushingly bureaucratic.

The combination - in the wider context of generalised Christian apostasy - can be interpreted as a triumph of purposive evil; in other words, that demonic powers are largely in control of the world, especially via the most powerful and influential global (especially Western) institutions. And, once this spiritual fact is sensed (and perhaps especially when it is consciously recognised) it may create a variety of counter-productive reactions.

For example the response may be despair in face of such (apparently) overwhelming power. Despair is rightly described as a sin - because it is a denial of the hope (and promise) of Jesus, and a surrender to evil.

Or, a realisation of the scale and nature of evil may alternatively lead to the mistake of 'fighting' evil on its own ground, and with the enemies own weapons (such as mass media propaganda, or political organisation).

Whereas the proper response is to recognise the presence of evil in our own hearts, and to regard our own soul as the proper battle ground; and to 'fight' on the divine grounds of ultimate universal reality - in other words, by primary thinking to participate in God's work of creation.

This is exactly what the vast apparatus of evil is trying to prevent us from doing - for them, almost anything else is preferable to you or I doing this.

Even one single solitary individual person attaining final participation via primary thinking for any length of time; represents a colossal set-back to the agenda of evil. Furthermore is is an ongoing defeat of whose origin they are not aware, and cannot become aware - because it is intrinsically Good and its level of operations is invisible to, far above and beyond the possibility of demonic perception.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Was William Blake a proto-revolutionary-socialist? Umm... No!

But how did such a massively, bizarrely, obviously false idea gain such wide currency? Over at Albion Awakening I suggest it was (as so often) a matter of metaphysics...

Most difficult opera aria ever? Possente Spirto from Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607)

This is pretty much the first surviving opera - certainly the earliest to retain a place in the performing and recording repertoire - however, at its centre is an 'impossible aria' for the lead character Orfeo.

What makes Possente Spirto impossible is that there are extremely long and sustained musical phrases, which ought to be sung without taking a breath - and therefore must be done at a reasonably quick tempo; also if performed too slowly the music loses cohesion, and becomes dull.

However, embedded within these long phrases are decorations - runs (short notes, going up and/or down the scale) and repeated notes (sometimes called Monteverdi 'trills', but not really so, because a trill is a rapid alternation of two notes). These decorations are extremely difficult to articulate at the necessary speed, to differentiate each individual note clearly from the notes on either side.

And especially the machine-gun-like rapid-fire repetition of single notes (i.e. that 'Monteverdi trill') is something which singers are nowadays simply never required to do  - and hardly any singers can get anywhere near to achieving it; but instead just slur over the repetitions; with a great reduction in the dramatic power.

Here the aria is done by Anthony Rolfe Johnson in a very highly-regarded performance (with probably the best modern conductor of this music) which you can follow on the score; however - if you do this - you can see quite clearly that ARJ is just-not singing all the notes of the rapid passages - nor is he separating the rapid repeated notes.

The nearest any singer gets to articulating all of the written notes was probably Nigel Rogers; who (I once heard him say in a radio interview) needed to study some kind of Eastern folk singing tradition (I can't recall which) in order to develop a technique that is alien to the operatic or choral tradition.

Rogers voice was neither loud, nor (to my ear) was it particularly sweet-toned - however, by attacking the rapid decorations (with an almost hair-raising effectiveness!), he achieves a dramatic quality (in the right way) which is overall more effective than his many later rivals.

Judge for yourself:

Anyway - this first great tenor aria is perhaps the only one that is also impossible; at any rate it seems very unlikely that there will ever (ever again?) be a tenor who has all the qualities of tone, power and agility necessary to sing Possente Spirto as well as it might potentially be sung.

Thoughts on thinking: thought during a migraine

The Owen Barfield Blog continues to grow - with 33 cumulative reposts since it began just a few weeks ago.

Today's post there is a particular favourite insight, or confirmation, that I recently had during the lucid period of a severe migraine under-treatment:

The conviction that primary thinking of the real self is identical with Owen Barfield's Final Participation.

Which is to say that such thinking is intrinsically true, creative and loving.

Such is a brief and partial glimpse of what it is to be a god - that is, to become (for a time) fully what were are from the beginning of Creation destined to become: Sons and Daughters of God.

(But, in the meantime, we still have much to experience and to learn; which is why such experiences are - necessarily, because by intent - infrequent and incomplete.)

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Compleat Lecturer- 3: Lecture theatre size and design - now published in Oxford Magazine

The Compleat Lecturer- III: Lecture theatre size and design

Bruce Charlton

Oxford Magazine. 2017; No. 389 (Fifth Week, Michaelmas Term): 11-12

A perennial question is the ratio of teacher and students in a class: one teacher to how many students? How large a lecture class can effectively, or optimally, be taught at once?

I would argue that for specifically educational purposes (as contrasted with entertainment, or mental stimulation) there is something like an absolute maximum size for teaching lectures; which size depends upon how good a lecturer, how well-designed the lecture theatre, and how motivated and disciplined are the students.

For average situations, this maximum is about two hundred – and numbers in excess of this (e.g. those sitting far away) will probably be getting very little from the lecture while – by their disengagement, and inattention – be damaging the experience of the rest. With too-large lectures, only some smaller proportion of the class will truly be engaged and actively-learning: this situation constitutes a type of fake teaching, because it pretends to something it cannot deliver.

At one time I mostly lectured in a steeply-raked, two-tier Victorian-built theatre that sat about 250, and yet the lectures ‘worked’, because none of the audience were very far away from the lecturer (the balcony seating jutted forward over the lower seats), so despite the numbers there were good acoustics and sight-lines. Furthermore, the large classes were usually of cohesive, highly intelligent and motivated groups (e.g. medical or dental students) - keen and able to learn.

But that was an ideal situation; not readily transferable to other circumstances such as sub-optimal lecture theatres, and mixed-subject classes including less-motivated, less competent students. As a broad generalisation, applicable to most lectures (by most lecturers to most classes) the ratio ought to be no more than about one-to-a-hundred; that is the lecture theatre should not usually be larger than a hundred seats (assuming that the genuine intent is that all students present may be engaged in active classroom learning).

A hundred students in a class is actually a very large number; and keeping classes down to this size (and only as big as this, in a reasonably well-designed venue) would not be regarded as an onerous constraint by any serious educational institution… however (by what they actually do, rather than what they say) sadly few institutions really are serious about education.

So there is often pressure to push above even this maximum class size; for example by using audio-visual amplification technology to address many hundreds of students in vast, or multiple-simultaneous, venues… These, I can only regard as pseudo-lectures; and they have little to do with a serious attempt to provide real education.

At most, such situations may attain the level of those ‘dictation-transcription’ lecture of the Medieval universities; in which both lecturer and audience have ‘engaged autopilot’. But in an era of abundant, accessible and good quality textbooks, such exercises are largely redundant; and insofar as far too many modern lectures conform to this description, then this probably accounts for the generally poor reputation of the lecture method.

In fact, if modern students have only attended ‘PowerPoint’-style presentations to audiences numbered in their hundreds; in which the proceedings occur in the dark, making note-taking impossible; surrounded by people on laptops and mobile phones, browsing the internet and social messaging; the invisible teacher merely an amplified, disembodied and un-localised voice reading-off the slides; and the entire substantive content available in lecture handouts or on the internet - then these students have, in fact, never actually experienced a real lecture.

Such unfortunate students are being palmed-off with a dishonest simulacrum of what lectures can and ought to be.

The size of audience that can effectively be lectured-to partly depends on the specific venue. Indeed, lecture theatre design is very important – and many (probably most) lecture theatres are significantly (sometimes grossly) unfit for purpose.

For small classes, the specifics of a lecture theatre are relatively less important – since everyone can see and hear what is happening; but as the size of the class increases, the design becomes more and more important; until with large classes (above about 100) only the very best-designed lecture theatres are adequate.

It is necessary that the audience in a lecture be in audio-visual contact with the lecturer. In general, the closer the physical proximity of lecturer and audience, the better. For big classes this means that the lecture theatre must have a steep rake; that is, steeply-sloped seats (as in a traditional theatre – some Medieval lecture theatres were positively vertiginous in this respect!); so that all students are close enough that they can clearly hear and see the lecturer and any visuals, because the sight-line is above the heads of the students sitting in front.

Another aspect of sight-lines is that all members of the audience need to be able to maintain ‘eye contact’ with the lecturer. This implies the lecture theatre should be well lit, with plenty of bright lights especially at the front where the lecturer and writing boards are located. In sum, the level of brightness in a lecture theatres should be more like a bright kitchen (500 Lux) than a gloomy bedroom (50 Lux). As well as encouraging eye contact, and maintaining alertness, bright lighting also enables lecture notes to be created more effectively.

Naturally, the benefits of a bright environment also mean that the ‘house lights’ (illuminating the audience) should be kept-on for most of the lecture – with the whole room lit such that everybody can see everybody else. The practice of showing slides on a screen in a dark room should be kept to a minimum (when it is not possible to eliminate slides altogether).

As well as sight-lines, the lecture theatre acoustics must be good; including an absence of background noises and external noises (e.g. from traffic, builders, or conversations from students passing outside). Sound-proofing is necessary both to avoid distraction, and in order that all students present can easily hear what is being said without artificial means of amplification.

The use of microphones may sometimes be unavoidable for some lecturers and some venues (even I have occasionally been forced into this by laryngitis – although I have trained myself to ‘project’ the voice like a stage actor). But microphones should be discouraged and the usage of amplification regarded as exceptional - since electronic reproduction interposes a psychological barrier between lecturer and audience. (For example, most amplification systems do not localise the voice to the exact place from which the lecturer is speaking – which creates an alienating dislocation.)

Of the other ‘sensory’ factors, the most important – and most neglected - is ventilation. Lecture theatres simply must have an ample flow of cool air – because a warm, stuffy, humid lecture theatre may become soporific such as to render a lecture futile. Therefore it is better for the lecture theatre to be a bit too cold than too hot; and too draughty than too stuffy. After all, in extremis the lecturer and students can always wear an extra layer!

Furthermore, and vitally; taking lectures seriously means building enough lecture theatres of the necessary size, and designing them to be effective environments for learning. There is no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ – colleges should simply find and copy the best examples of lecture theatre design (which are often the oldest). Any motivated lecturer or serious student will be able to say which are the best lecture theatres - unmotivated lecturers and non-attending or unserious students should have no say in the matter!

The Jerusalem Suite - by John Fitzgerald

John Fitzgerald has posted one of his wonderful essay-fictions at Albion Awakening. Here is a taster:


...I was right about that. Jerusalem was a joy to sing. It really was. Our raw but eager voices boomed, echoed and rebounded around the Hall, bringing (for myself at least) a marked sense of release, of vast spaces - inner and outer - opening up.

The melody's dignified, gently rousing lilt soothed and settled my mind while triggering a powerful longing for a depth and quality of being - both individual and collective - which I suddenly and starkly realised I'd wished for more than anything else throughout my young life but had so far only partially experienced, if at all.

Blake's fantastic words - the molten lava of his language - 'countenance divine', 'clouded hills', 'burning gold' - had a poetic and spiritual potency which I had encountered in only a very few places - the Narnia books mainly, plus Roger Lancelyn Green's retellings of Greek, Norse, Egyptian and Arthurian legends.

Mrs. Elms, to be fair, had told a few good stories in this mould too. She was from the West Country and had often held forth about Joseph of Arimathea and how he'd brought the Holy Grail to Glastonbury and planted his staff on Wearyall Hill, bringing forth the miraculous thorn tree which flowers every year on Christmas Day. All these tales played a pivotal role in my life, giving me that mythic, archetypal sustenance which the somewhat desacralised, post-Vatican II Catholicism of my youth believed the world no longer needed.

I was ready for Jerusalem, in other words, and when we sang it that morning it felt like I was coming home - to myself, to God, and to my friends - to that wider mystery I had always dimly perceived and had reached out for through both my reading and my yearning for camaraderie - a double-edged quest for a 'Round Table', if you like - all through my time at St. Catherine's.

'I will not cease from mental fight,' we sang, and the sun smashed through the windows, transforming the Hall into a golden bowl of warmth and light. I've always had a vivid imagination, it's true, but I swear at that moment I heard a voice in my ear. An old man's voice. Foreign. East European or Middle-Eastern. 'Before you leave this school,' it said, 'you will see the Holy Grail.'

I was so shocked that I missed the next line - 'nor shall my sword sleep in my hand' - but made sure I was back on track for the last two - 'till we have built Jerusalem, in England's green and pleasant land.'

It felt, all of a sudden, like a matter of life and death that I should sing those two lines loud and well. If someone had asked me why, I could only have replied, 'the old man expects it of me.' But who that old man was and why he had spoken to me, I had no idea at all

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

What we cannot do and What we must do

My understanding of what needs to be done combined with what can be done is crystallising around the insight that the necessary change is up-to individuals; and that the hope of group-action seems more-and-more like a fantasy which is serving as an inner-excuse to delay each of us from taking individual action.

The spiritual and religious awakening of The West cannot be forced - it needs to be active, conscious, deliberate; and this active stance must be from the choices of free individuals.

It seems to me that all powerful and influential groups and institutions are now overall and by leadership intention on the side of evil (evil meaning destruction of the Good: the true, beautiful and virtuous).

The mainstream channels of communication have long been closed to opponents of Leftism; but now the alternative media and personal social media accounts are being incrementally harassed, blocked and closed-down under the 'fake news' or 'anti-extremism'. or 'conspiracy theory' rationales.

Furthermore, all groups which pursue a Christian agenda - or indeed any policy opposed to the New Leftism of totalitarian bureaucracy excused by the sexual revolution, antiracism, and the class war - is now actively been sought-out and attacked without restraint.

In the past year the line has been crossed from media firestorms, personal ruin and sackings, into the billionaire-sponsored and police-protected and media-promoted, planned-violence of 'antifa' and similar SJW goons and thugs...


My point here is Good can only happen if we, as free individuals, set about doing it in our own autonomous, conscious, active and divine thinking; nothing else will suffice - and under current circumstances there is no excuse for delay because alternatives are absent...

Read the whole thing at Albion Awakening...


Monday, 13 November 2017

PC Insanity: Defining the nature of psychosis in atheistic Leftism

Leftism (in its modern Western form of the New Left/ Political Correctness of Social Justice Warriors) is essentially atheism - hence strictly insane.

I shall term it PC insanity.

Atheism leads (inevitably, albeit by stages, incrementally) to a species of insanity - and it is important to understand the nature of this endemic madness.

Atheism leads to insanity because it entails a denial and rejection of that which is intrinsic to Man: an awareness of the divine and universal. Hence there is an assertion of existential isolation - consequently futility. Despair and a suicidal self-hatred is the outcome.

However, on the way to this outcome there is the PC insanity, a pervasive psychosis, that we see all around us. Political Correctness is not identical with any specific psychosis known to mainstream psychiatry - but has elements of all four of the primary types: schizophrenia, mania, melancholia (depression) and the delusional disorders.

With schizophrenia PC insanity shares 'paranoia' - i.e. delusional self-awareness, persecutory ideas and the belief that everything is about 'me'; also an underlying existential fear.

With mania PC insanity shares aggression, irritability, interfering querulousness, extreme (but brittle) grandiosity and pride, indiscriminate and fickle physical lust; and a frantic and distractible energy.

With melancholia PC insanity shares guilt, despair and the yearning for escape into suicide (in the belief that death is the end of all consciousness).

With the delusional disorders (e.g. delusional jealousy, persecution, erotomania) PC insanity exhibits resentment and projection: attributing to others that which is most powerfully experienced and feared in oneself; and sometimes 'dysmorphic' somatic delusions of bodily abnormality - the fixed and false belief that something is physically 'wrong' that needs to be surgically 'corrected'.

Please do not imagine I am joking about this! The modern mainstream West really is insane, and this is reflected in widespread beliefs and behaviours that truly are delusional in their nature, conviction and intensity.

Fortunately PC insanity is curable. And the treatment is available to anybody and everybody, free of charge. And is instantaneously effective (although it may take a considerable time, perhaps longer than a mortal lifetime, to make a full recovery).

But the cure is available only from a single provider, who has a monopoly on production and distribution: His name (make a note of it) is Jesus Christ.

The divine behind the everyday


This was one of William Arkle's most frequent themes - an ordinary, everyday scene of a breakfast tea set, but illuminated by divinity. For me it captures the 'holiday' feeling of (potentially) any morning in which we awake with a proper understanding and attitude to Life. 

It also reminds me of the delicious Foreword to A Geography of Consciousness (1974), which I believe to be a collaboration between Arkle and Colin Wilson:

Imagine that you open your eyes in a dark bedroom. You know it is morning outside, because you can see the cracks of light at the edge of the heavy curtains; it looks like a cold, grey light, and you suspect it is raining. You think of the things you have to do when you get up, and they all seem dreary.

Finally you yawn, cross to the window, and draw the curtains.

Sunlight streams in, marvellously warm!

You open the window, and the air smells warm and fresh. The feeling of dreariness vanishes. It is replaced by an eager desire to get your breakfast and get outside.

A moment before, your consciousness has been 'hanging back', like a dog that doesn't want to go outside on a cold day. Now it is straining at the lead, pulling you forward.

What was it like to Be Jesus?

 Walk with me by Greg Olsen

In trying to imagine what Jesus felt as he lived his life; it comes to me that he experienced it as a Man does (and should).

In particular, Jesus did not know what would happen until it was happening. However (unlike you and I) when it was happening - when Jesus was actually in the situation - he always knew exactly what to do: he knew and did the right thing.

Yet, until that moment, nobody could have said what 'the right thing' was - indeed, Jesus himself could not have said it: he needed to live it to know it.

This was an unique ability of Jesus. He recognised these moments, not by prediction nor by prophecy but as they arose - in general, he recognised the prophecies were happening (certainly he could not have said in advance-detail how the prophecies were going-to-be fulfilled).

Unlike ourselves; for Jesus life was Not trial-and-error. Yet neither did Jesus know his path before he trod it: rather, his path unfolded under his feet as he walked...

For example, and perhaps the most significant example; it seems that Jesus did not fully know why he was here nor exactly what he had to do, until it was done - until 'it is finished'; at which point he died.

This was to live in perfect faith. Not to live by unconscious instinct, neither to 'manufacture' a life of rules worked-out in theory beforehand; but knowing precisely what to do, exactly when it needed to be done - knowing this sometimes from within, and sometimes by asking in prayer.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Airbrushing the Russian Revolution

Is the Russian Revolution itself being subjected to the same airbrushing fate as Trotsky and co?
Now you see them, then you don't...

So, the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution - probably the greatest disaster in the history of humanity - certainly of the past century; has slid-by over the past few days and the media response has been - (all-but) silence.

The current younger generation know essentially nothing about the Russian Revolution - certainly they don't realise that in terms of human death, leave aside intensity and duration of deliberately-inflicted suffering, it was incomparably the worst regime in history.

Not least because the USSR was so extravagently praised and promoted by so many powerful and prestigious people in Britain, France, Italy, Germany the US and elsewhere - and so widely and devastatingly emulated in further communist revolutions worldwide.

Plus it led directly to the reactions of Italian fascism and German National Socialism - hence (among other things) to World War II. No communism: No fascism. No Lenin: no Hitler.

Consequently, because the Russian Revolution led to such a huge amount of evil, my expectation was of a massive celebration - especially from the mainstream Western mass media (especially from the BBC).

But that didn't happen - which seems to suggest that that the evil Global Establishment has decided that the best strategy is to continue to pretend that communism never happened; or at least to keep the whole thing vague and dull and distant.

If They want to 'airbrush' the Russian Revolution from history - then the least that Christians can to is the opposite: keep reminding people about Soviet Communism: including what was quantitatively by far the most vicious and sustained persecution and extermination of Christians in the history of the faith.

Hardly anybody knows about this - and fewer are interested - and the communists did not keep records of their dirty work, as the Nazis did; but the faithful remnant of the Orthodox church - and Solzhenitsyn - collected a great deal of data.

The Russian Revolution is a very big thing to try and shove down the memory hole; but in this current media/ distraction-addicted era, to obliterate from consciousness the biggest and baddest event of the twentieth century is all in a day's work.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The right approach to marriage is the right approach to Life (Truth, Reality)

Marriage is not passive - however, being in love is a passive experience - it is spontaneous, overwhelms us, sweeps us along. And that is a good thing - an ideal thing - so far as it goes...

Marriage (a thing of mature adults, maker of mature adults) needs to be active, the husband and wife need to make an effort - they need to be conscious of what is happening, what are the options - and they need to make choices. Presumably some choices will be made wrong, need to be identified and repented, and so on.

But it is clear that a loving marriage is not sustainable nor will love grow if the husband and wife do not take an active part, are not motivated.

A marriage is a microcosm of Life; because ultimately Life is about love, and about the relationships between entities - men, women, angels (the premortals and the dead), God the Father, and Jesus Christ - for example.

Truth and Reality are a part-of, embedded-in, derived-from this network of relationships - they are not abstractions. They are more like a 'meeting of minds' (and a meeting of bodies) than anything else.

We need both to be in love, and to be deliberately motivated toward love.

'Life's like that'. 

We can't be passive in married love, nor in Life; but both need elements of being overwhelmed by impinging reality. We can't merely be active in married love, nor in Life - we are not 'given' marriage and we cannot construct a marriage or the world entirely from our own minds.

(This is good, because we are meant to become free - free in our chosen, loving, eternal 'collaboration' with God's creation.)

It's quite simple really! In Love and in Life we are given half what we need, and the other half we must provide: reality, Life, Truth and Reality are the product. They are not present until both halves are brought together - in the activity we call thinking.

Thinking is necessary to (adult, mature, divine) Love and Life, both.

Friday, 10 November 2017

That deadly passivity fantasy

I suggest that there is a prevalent fantasy that anything valid is something that we will be compelled to believe; that we will be swept-along by reality, willy-nilly, like-it-or-not...

That a true religion or ideology is one where will be forced (by overpowering conviction) to be good, happy, fulfilled.

And that we should believe nothing less than this; that the real truth is non-optional and enforces itself - pushing aside all agency, all freedom.

We feel that we ought to be helpless in the face of reality - that we do not need-to meet reality halfway; because if it was really-real then we would not need to make any effort or choice. To deliberate, discern and choose to acknowledge truth is seen as dishonest self-manipulation.

This fantasy is encouraged, and is deadly - because Man's destiny is to become ever-more conscious, free, agent and divine - which means we must remain autonomous, active, clear-headed and knowingly-detached.

That which is good can only be chosen, from the depth of our true self.

And if we absolutely insist on passivity in-face-of truth, then we insist upon evil: and, of course, that is precisely what we are getting...

Why is Jesus inexplicable? Even/ especially to Christians? Because he is, like all persons, unsystematic...

Christians, from the Apostle Paul onwards, have always had the problem of trying to explain Jesus - especially what he did and why.

In other words the problem of trying to fit Jesus into a system.

We do this for not better reason than this is what we do; or for a host of 'bad' (or at least temporary, expedient) reasons to do with 'running society' - all of which seem to conflict with Jesus in some very fundamental, deeply-worrying sense.

But Jesus was a person, and when it comes to people (or at least, refers to any actual person whom we love) we don't try to fit them into a system that explains what they are 'really' doing, or what they are really 'for'. Rather, we recognise that persons come before systems; and systems are merely fitted-around people for secondary, temporary and expedient reasons - and these reasons are indeed often bad reasons; reasons that end-up with us regarding persons as mere cogs, subordinate-to and in-service-of the system.

The decision is stark - either we see Jesus as primary, or the systematic explanation of  'what Jesus did' as primary. And the proper answer ought to be obvious, once the matter has been lucidly stated.

The Gospel of John (my core source) gives us a Jesus who is a man, deep, utterly consistent yet absolutely unpredictable - judging each 'case' correctly, yet not according to system. A Jesus so unsystematic that he will not even reject the totality of a system (such as the Hebrew Law) because that would be merely to fall-into yet another system.

Jesus is fully divine, as well as a Man, hence he discerns, evaluates, judges from that divine self; above which nothing stands, because that divine self knows more than any system.

This is the nature of true judgement. It is not a means to an already-known end, neither is it subjective nor arbitrary - true judgement is a knowing of the reality of the situation, hence knowing what - specifically and exactly - should be done in this exact instance. And this true judgement is true morality.

Jesus is presented as exemplifying this - the example of Jesus is to show us the nature of correct discernment, true judgement, true morality (and not to provide us with yet-another-system to shackle, distort and usurp knowledge of the truth).

Jesus - across the gospel - is asking us to accept him, personally (not some system), as the primary reality, and the bottom line.

And knowing Jesus is not, never has been, an abstraction, because as well as God he is a person, an eternal person, who (since his resurrection and ascension) remains always in-this-world as well as 'not of this world'. 

And we can know a person. A person is something we can know.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

What to do about The News?

Clearly The News is one of the primary mediators of evil in the world; but what to do about it?

Obviously we should not 'believe' The News; and should try to avoid exposure to it - but we cannot avoid it, it is forced upon on and literally demands a response. If we do not believe it, then what do we believe instead?

Simple negation or reversal would be ludicrous and counter-productive (on the basis that the most dangerous lies are veined with truth - contradiction of The News would be merely to exchange one falsehood for another). Another trap is to 'decode' the news, using a balance of sources, or 'alternative media' sources. This is just another loop back-into News obsession and enslavement - obsessive and addictive News-engagement disguised by 'trying to get to the bottom' of a 'story'...

A first step is to recognise that those who produce The News have 1001 tricks to manipulate us, and so long as we rely upon News we cannot outwit The News. Since we do not know the 'real' answers underneath the manifold deceptions of The News, and cannot find relevant information except via the media itself, even the attempt to find 'the real answer' increases the domination of The News.

Yet, if we don't believe The News, what do we believe? What 'alternative source' can there be which is untainted?

Churches are no use; because they are tainted as well - and as long as they comment on The News in public discourse they also rely on The News; the churches are drawn-into the problem and become part of it - The News gets woven-into the church teachings, into prayer, into priorities...

The News is public communication, and what opposes The News is intuition: private knowing. Direct knowledge of ultimate reality - which is, in principle, universally accessible; but accessible only by intuitive thinking of our Real (which is divine) Self.

But typical modern Man lacks access to intuition - because his mind has been filled with automatic cognitive processes such that his real Self is inactive; and because modern Man denies the reality of the divine, and his fundamental assumptions therefore regard intuition as necessarily a subjective delusion rather than direct knowing.

Consequently, even when modern Man knows in his heart that The News is wrong (a common feeling, perhaps), and even when he knows what is real and true - this state-of-knowing is ignored and indeed suppressed; because of its provenance in (presumed) mere-subjectivity and wishful-thinking. 

The location of News in public discourse leads to the requirement that we communicate about it; and the discourse is poisoned with lies, evil perspectives and covert materialist assumptions. One who speaks from intuition, and who tries to justify and defend intuition using the resources of public discourse, will find in doing-so he is weaving and strengthening one or other element of corruption.

So - we encounter News, we are compelled to respond in some way, we can neither believe nor automatically-contradict; yet we cannot be selective and interpret without accepting corruption...

The answer is to interpret from our own intuitive and direct knowing, and be honest about the provenance of our direct knowing - to state our conclusions, but not to engage in trying to defend or convince.

Of course this speaking-from-intuition is a conversation-stopper; but when it comes to News, that is necessary. And of course, it seems crazy or simple-minded - but that too is unavoidable: evil is held-in-place by expediency.

We must do the inexpedient for the sake of our salvation and spiritual development. And in doing so there is a chance - but no guarantee - that we may point others at the same intuited truths we have come to know.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The importance of polarity in Your metaphysics

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834

The Owen Barfield Blog continues to grow swiftly - two posts today; one of which is about a topic I would recommend to almost everyone: polarity.

Because this is an idea about the fundamental nature of reality, polarity is not easy to get-ahold-of. But, equally, because it is an idea about the fundamental nature of reality, once grasped it 'changes everything'. You will realise to what extent, and for thousands of years, unjustified assumptions have led to insoluble pseudo-problems, and confidence-sapping incoherence.

In a sense, in putting forward polarity, ST Coleridge was pre-equipping Western Civilisation with the weapon it needed to resist exactly what has since destroyed it: anti-Christian, secular Leftism. 

But polarity is more than that: it is what is needed to rationalise, and explain to ourselves, the next and destined step in the historical development of human consciousness - of our self-awareness in relation to reality.

So polarity is about as important as anything in philosophy - yet it is terribly hard to communicate; indeed it cannot be communicated. The best that can be done is to point people in the direction that they should be searching, and to encourage them to find-out in the only way possible: for themselves.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

What is the meaning of The Spiritual?

It is difficult - I would say impossible - satisfactorily to define The Spiritual, except as a 'diagnosis of exclusion'.

In other words, the spiritual is that which is not material;

or, the spiritual is the immaterial.

This was, indeed, the definition of spiritual suggested by Owen Barfield (after are careful examination of the history of language); and while it is correct, it is not fully satisfactory - because the definition of 'the material' has been fluid through time, in a way that shows the reality of the spiritual as being (more or less)

that which contemporary modern culture regards as unreal.

For example - mathematics was, at one time, regarded as spiritual, mystical - and Mathematicians were if not theists (believers in a personal God) then at least deists (believers in an impersonal creating-deity). This was the case for many - perhaps all - of the great early scientists such as Newton. However, the development of modernity included mathematics within science, and excluded all non-scientific uses and functions of mathematics to the realm of pseudo-science or 'superstition'.

A more recent example is quantum theory. As Barfield remarks, this branch of physics has many spooky and immaterial aspects which would normally have made it a spiritual subject; however, it has been included in mainstream science and any consideration of the general implications of quantum theory for human life have been ruled-out and (as with mathematics) consigned to the realm of pseudo-science and ignorant superstition.

In sum; mathematics and quantum theory are now regarded as de facto material...

Continued at Albion Awakening

Life outside The System?

In 1986 I read a book by Don Cupitt called Life Lines - which purports to provide a complete typology, a map, of possible spiritual lives. It failed to do so, because its assumptions were wholly reductionist, materialist and positivist.

(The book's, the author's assumption were indeed, covertly typical of modern intellectuals, and perhaps especially those like Cupitt engaged in what they suppose to be Radical Theology; in that for them the bottom line of reality - that which was assumed but not argued-for - was the Leftist agenda. In other words; the moral concerns and impulses of then-current-Leftism are the only assumptions that are Not subverted - everything else is up-for-grabs.) 

Life Lines was, indeed, a typical 'postmodern' book of that era - critiqueing The System, but - because its critique was based on System assumptions, in-the-end arguing that it was incoherent to suppose that there was anything but The System - there could be no escape, no opt-out - because there was nowhere (no coherent thought-space) to opt-out-into...

At any rate, this was a work representative of the assumptions and mood among mainstream humanities intellectuals over recent generations.

Its error was that it excluded the divine; and the divine is that place and space which is outside The System. That which is divine in Man is beyond The System; and that is why and how we can (almost all of us) be dissatisfied by The System - because we do not always-and-inevitably view The System from inside-it; instead we are able (and sometimes compelled) to view The System from outside - when we are thinking from our Real Self, which is our divine self.

So it is neither unusual nor paradoxical to view The System from outside, to dwell outside The System, to yearn for a better life outside The System.

No matter how large, complex, pervasive The System becomes; we know what it is like to live differently. Of course, for much/ most of the time we are being propagandised, exploited, pandered, numbed and compelled by The System. But - unless we choose otherwise - we know with intuitive and experiential certainty - that there is more.

The role and function of modern intellectuals such as Don Cupitt and the other mainstream Postmodernists (such as Derrida, Foucault, Rorty, and the hegemonic theorists of liberalism, feminism, antiracism, postcolonialism etc.) has been to persuade us that what we know by intuition and experience is actually delusional. That the only reality is The System, and it is incoherent, ignorant, exploitative to assert otherwise.

The surface plausibility of this idea comes from the fact that The System controls communication and interpretation - so any writer, artist, musician (etc.) can (and will) be interpreted within-system - at least by 'authoritiative' and mass communications. The System assumes it is everything, and everything considered by The System thereby becomes a part of it.

As usual, the fault lies in metaphysics - postmodernists were/ are merely restating their own assumptions; they make assumptions, forget them, then rediscover them wherever they look - and take this as evidence proving their original (forgotten) assumptions...

Meanwhile, we - each of us - know differently. What is needed is (merely) a metaphysics that explains the validity of what we already-know.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Noble rendition of "O du, mein holder Abendstern" (Wagner aria)

A truly gorgeous aria from Tannhauser, which shows that (in his early years, when the mood took him) Wagner could be a great melodist. Here played beautifully by the Vienna Opera House band and sung by Tom Krause - one of the best baritones of his era: a performance noble, focused, lyrical and powerful; which caused horripilation, then loosening of the tear ducts...

Which (self-identified) Christians are sliding down a slippery slope?

The proper answer is: It All Depends On Motivation; or, to be clearer: it ALL depends on motivation.

There is not 'safe way' to be a Christian - at least there is not in the modern West. All denominations, all churches, all unaffiliated Christians - no matter what their organisational structure, creed, traditions, practices, discipline or lack of it, direct personal experiences; all and every one of them are going-to slide down the slippery slope into apostasy IF they aren't properly motivated.

And, by contrast, if they are properly motivated, then they may be found in almost any denomination; because of the extreme variation in persons, circumstances, and between specific churches or congregations.

Motivation is (pretty much) everything. Doing everything right for the wrong reasons is utterly worthless - that is crystal clear from the New Testament. And on the other hand being properly motivated suffices (with repentance) no matter what.

But do we know our own motivations for sure? Well, we better had (and if we do not know, we had better find out as quickly as possible) - that is all I can say; because nobody else knows for sure. And if we know our own motivations are correct, then we can and should Stand Against The World (because the world is badly-motivated, and sure to be wrong). 

Does this uncertainty mean that we should refrain from judging the motivations of others? Of course not! We absolutely must do this - but again, we must know our own motivations for judgement, if we are not to be dangerously wrong. 

Motivations are everything; therefore conscious and correct awareness of our true motivations is also everything.

This is one reason (not the only reason) why - in this era - consciousness has become imperative; that of which we are unconscious will avail us nought.

None of this is of any use in persuading other people of the rightness of our own motivations - and that is as it should be. We never should try to persuade people of such things... If they cannot intuit our true motivations, and are unmotivated to try; then there is Absolutely Nothing we can do about the fact. 

All systems (without exceptions) are always wrong...

All systems lead (whether fast and direct, or more slowly and via loops) to the same end-point.

All systems treat individuals as components, less-than-fully human, less-than-divine - hence all systems are alienating and coercive: all systems are un-free (since system has priority, and unless coercive and un-free the system will not function).

From this perspective, literally-ALL organisations, institutions, ideologies and religions - all laws and rules and principles and procedures - all mathematics and science - are merely-systems.

Yet (of course) this world is made and sustained by systems - that is by abstract, incomplete, biased mere-models. Even our criteria of what works, what is wanted, are expressed in terms of systems...! Man creates system, and then is enslaved by it.

Confronted by apparently hopeless odds, we first become resigned to system - then we try to love what cannot be avoided: we try to love our submission, our dehumanisation - we count-our-blessings and ignore the rest; we 'focus on the positives'... we seek distraction, displacement, some combination of rationalisation and intoxication.

That is, we try to suppress consciousness, one way or another. Which happens to be the very worst thing we could do - the only certain road to self-damnation (self-damnation being the only damnation).

We strive to be happy and willing servants of evil, actively working for the imposition of greater evil - because we see no other option; yet this cannot be done, since under-all we know what we are really doing. Hence the modern malaise, hopelessness, despair - self-hatred, slow suicide, a desperate self-damnation.

Read the rest at Albion Awakening

William Blake and the depth of our error

To read William Blake's work with sympathy, with empathy - as I am currently doing - is to discover an exposure of cultural error of far, Far greater depth and extent than is currently acknowledged almost anywhere.

Blake sees the deep problem in a way of thinking - 'system': which is adopted for all kinds of reasons that boil down to power; and all kinds of reasons that reduce to an evasion of Christ's deep teachings.

The way of thinking that Blake excoriates has been given so many names - reductionism, positivism, scientism - but if considered as system thinking, or thinking in terms of abstract models, then it is pervasive among intellectuals as far back as history goes.

The thing is... modern culture is so familiar by Blake's kind of insight that people are bored by it. Presumably they regard 'system' as unavoidable - and certainly it is necessary to civilisation. We know it, and 'know' that nothing can be done about it - so we would rather not think about it.

But with system comes the absolute necessity of alienation, compulsion, the use of men as functionaries, the degradation of men to something much less... To accept system to to accept all this. To accept system is a fundamental statement of human priorities.

And with system, generation upon generation, cumulatively - as system becomes bureaucracy, all bureaucracies link, and bureaucratic system expands into every corner of life, in finer and finer detail - monitoring and regulating and defining thought - comes loss of our true selves (replaced by selves which serve the system, or react-against it).

Comes the destruction of any possibility of a true relation of our-selves to reality...

And comes a frantic state of distraction, of displacement activity, of despair and of a state of inner deadness that is almost indistinguishable from death - Man as walking dead: Man as zombie.

Hardly any individual - and no group or institution - stands outside this corruption. The Christian churches were apparently overcome by system not long after the death of Christ, and all modern churches are systemised, massively, too.

System has, indeed, infected and swiftly overcome all movements intended to expose, critique, or destroy system; such that all 'escape routes' merely loop-back-into the system... such are the temptations of power.

(This we see in the counter-cultural radical movements of the 20th century, many of whom embraced Blake as a hero - somehow ignoring that Blake's work is saturated in lived, experienced, primary Christian sensibility. Because Blake rejected Christianity as system - they supposed that he rejected the primacy of Christ!) 

But system is not inevitable, it is not a part of the human condition, Blake depicts the opposite to system in his works, and it is not just attainable - but natural to everybody. Instead, we persist in a metaphysics which generates system, we persist in asking questions that presuppose system, we assume system almost as our first assumption - then lose sight of this primary assumption...

If Man's future depends on discarding and going beyond system-thinking, as Blake assumed and I agree; then we have a long way to go before we reach a point at which such a colossal decision could be made and held-to.

But we can glimpse such a situation in the work of Blake - if we are prepared to approach it empathically and individually; and not merely to re-systemise it...

Saturday, 4 November 2017

How did reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings affect Your life?

 Having had some interesting and enjoyable comments on this theme, over at The Notion Club Papers; I invite readers of this blog to contribute their own memories and reminiscences...

The British Myth - Arthur and The Grail

William Wildblood writes

The notion of Albion Awakening is tied up with the so called British myth as described by Geoffrey Ashe in his book Camelot and the Vision of Albion. This includes such ideas as the discovery of the Holy Grail and the return of King Arthur. 

Taking the second first, the well known story is that Arthur did not die after his final battle against a treacherous usurper, a kind of Judas figure, but was spirited away to a realm somewhere between heaven and earth to be healed of his wounds prior to one day returning and leading his country to a new Golden Age... 

The Holy Grail is more mysterious. Was it the cup used at the Last Supper and therefore symbolically or even literally the container of Christ's blood? This is how it is usually presented but it has antecedents in a Celtic cauldron which had the power to bring dead men back to life... Its loss has led to the desolation of the natural and spiritual worlds as experienced by human beings ever since. Its rediscovery by the worthy leads to spiritual transformation. 

Nowadays King Arthur is just seen as a legendary figure built up from a composite of real and imagined sources. He's not even a king, just a war leader who may have won an important battle against the Saxons and perhaps held them at bay long enough for them to have become more Christianised when they eventually did conquer this country. Clearly a real dark age Arthur was more like this. 

But the Arthur of the imagination is not like this at all. He is a far grander and more noble figure. The trouble is that by reducing Arthur to history we lose contact with the imaginative version and with the power of that version to inspire... 

Read the rest at Albion Awakening...

Friday, 3 November 2017

Imagination can be evil but Primary Thinking (Final Participation) is always Good

Considering the implications of the current fulfilment of Owen Barfield's 60 year old prophecy which I posted earlier today, this brings out the vital difference between imagination - on the one hand - and what might be termed intuition.

Imagination is (roughly) the pictures and other representations in the mind; while intuition can be understood as direct knowledge of reality. Imagination refers to reality, inuition is reality (albeit fragmentary).

Direct knowledge of reality is, of course, a divine attribute - and attainable by humans only to a partial and intermittent degree (at most!). Such intution happens during what I have recently termed primary thinking, which I consider to be the same thing as what Owen Barfield terms final participation.

Primary thinking means thinking in the universal realm of reality (not thinking inside our heads, but thinking in a universal realm) - which is necessarily true; while final participation refers to the fact that this is a participation in creation - 'final' because it is to join with God in this ongoing work, and there is no further for participation to go than this.

So - imagination is a higher form of thinking than the literalistic, yet it may be false and distorted - it may be dishonest and ugly. In fact, nowadays in The West, most products of imagination are thus corrupted; and even among the greatest geniuses of imagination (in the arts, for example) there is a great deal of such corruption, especially over the past 200 years and more as we get more recent, until at present most of the best products of Western imagination (novels, poems, movies, TV, music, painting, sculpture etc) is net-evil.

Whereas intuition is always real, true, good and beautiful. And it is intuition for which we must all strive as our very highest priority - for each of us as individuals, and for our society at every level up to the highest.

Implications of a sixty-year-old prophecy by Owen Barfield

Barfield was a Christian; who understood the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ as an event of cosmic significance - the inflexion point of human (and divine) history.

He saw history as centred upon the divine destiny of enabling the increasingly divine nature of each person and of humankind in general - of both Men and Man. And the centre of this divine destiny is the evolution of consciousness towards the god-like state of Final Participation - that is full consciousness of everything; which is a necessary prerequisite for becoming full Sons and Daughters of God.

 Yet our divine destiny of Final Participation has been ignored, then rejected, by nearly all individuals and all the Western societies; and this is the cause of Barfield's prophecies negative coming true - indeed leading to a spiritual situation even worse than he articulated.

On the other hand; it is not too late. As individuals we may - by our irresistible free agency - choose to return to the path of destiny; and if enough individuals do this - then so will society at large.

More at the Owen Barfield Blog

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Why are people so blind?

The main reason is that they lack an underlying metaphysical system which would not merely notice things, but regard them as significant exemplifications of reality; then they lack the religious imperative to do anything about it (when doing anything would probably lead to short-term suffering with a high degree of probability).

So the blindness of modern Man is not difficult to understand - he has no reason not to be blind.

But what is God doing all this time? Modern Man avoids reality - yet reality is truth beauty, virtue in unity - unreality is evil... How come nearly everybody is living in a state of evil, and yet regarding themselves as Good?

Well, of course they don't really regard themselves as Good all the way down to the core of their true being - however their delusion does go a long way down; probably far enough that they would choose to reject Christ even if 100% convinced of his reality and truth - they want damnation - want to reject eternal life in Heaven, because ultimately they prefer it.

But again why? Or, how could it be expected that people be better in a society of such pervasive corruption? When all the leaders of all the institutions are corrupt? When the mass media, and the linked bureaucracy of government, corporations, law, police etc... are all corrupt. When the mass media and bureaucracy are united in propagating corruption, pushing surveillance and micro-control, punishing deviation...

Why has God allowed such circumstances to develop - and at the same time be 'invisible' to the great mass of the hedonic-utilitarian soul-denying populace?

We are being pushed back and back, being stripped of all valid authority, the churches are doing more harm than good, we have nowhere to turn...

Until we recognise that we have everything we need, available to us each and personally. And that is the point.

We need to be weaned of passivity, dependence, secondary-ness - we need to know all directly, for ourselves, by experience. And we are being forced-back into exactly that situation...

Eventually we will be confronted by stark reality, and the reality of our own capacity, our adequacy, the adequacy of Life for its necessity - and will choose then either to live by reality, or against it.

Note added: My assumption is that God ultimately intends for us to become like him in nature, which means an evolution (theosis) towards autonomous agency; towards knowing directly and for-ourselves, rather than indirectly from others via communications. This is more a question of shifting the balance between ways of knowing, than it is a matter of either/ or, all-or-nothing. But part of becoming spiritually grown-up is the transition from immersion-in and child-like passive obedience to external communications  from God - towards active-knowing-of Reality based on that which is divine-in-us; and conscious choice in-favour-of working-with God. A move from unconsciously participating in God's creation; to consciously participating in the work of God on creation.

Further note: We really must hold-onto the fact that the reason why people are so blind is Not that they don't know; the answer is not that people be shown - the answer must go much deeper: the answer must go as deep as revising our primary and most fundamental assumptions. Only then will seeing lead to knowing.  

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Soulmates, love and sex

At its most fundamental level, our Will is divine and therefore harmonises with our divine destiny - our true Will is therefore something we can be true-to, or false-to; but the true Will is not something we can choose or command.

Furthermore, for most people (not everybody) our strongest experience of beauty is related to love and the opposite sex - hence (for Christians) with marriage. This combination of factors raises the possibility that the right marriage partner for us (that is, our soulmate) will one day arrive in our vicinity.

This would not be an accident; but the result of exactly that same divine power which is causing us to know ourselves via our experiences in this world. The right partner in marriage is the best possible experience we can have of our unconscious and unrealised nature.

Such a partner may well be chosen, but in our pre-mortal spirit life; as a major element of our destined experiences.

(Such experiences may be destined - however, our response to experience is not destined; since we are free-agents.)

The physical aspects, emotions, desires, aspirations of sex can be seen as the true Will working through at many levels through mortal experience. And sex is extremely complex and far-reaching, since it represents destined purposes and desires that our conscious personality may know little or nothing about.

The power of sex is therefore the power of Will; and therefore not subject to our choice - we cannot decide to fall in love; we can only decide whether to live truly by love, when it happens, or not.

And this is a part of the decision whether to live truly by everything, or not.

And this is to be true to our real-Self, or not.

Paraphrased and adapted to express my own views more exactly, from William Arkle's A Geography of Consciousness (1974) - mostly the chapter Beauty, plus elements of the chapter Will.

Owen Barfield Blog continuing...

My new Owen Barfield Blog is continuing to grow, daily. Today's post is about the great sweep of human destiny:

In the beginning Men were merely primordial selves immersed in the ocean of universal consciousness; and the history of everything has included the progressive and incremental separation of these selves from the universal primary reality.

We began as immersed in universal reality - joined with everything, and everything joined with us - with permeable selves... We end with a Self that is aware of its own separation from things, from other people, from memories - and even from its own thoughts...

Why? Because separation is necessary for freedom, for agency; we must first be separate in order to be free. And free in order, ultimately, to share the divine status of the Creator - because God is free...

So we begin by participating in the whole of reality - that was given. But our selves were only feebly independent, and not sufficiently separate that we could be free agents. Then a process began in the history of the human race, which is recapitulated in individuals - we developed agency by separation of the self from everything else.

At some moment the self is cut-off from everything else - and therefore unfree, because isolated. So there is a step beyond, which is a return to participation with universal reality...

The self now needs to - voluntarily and by an effort - engage with universal reality in a free relationship; knowing that this is happening...

This is not a matter of thinking about universal reality - it is a matter of thinking universal reality; in other words, by thinking in order to become part of it: by-doing-thinking to participate-in-it.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

What concerns God - an aphorism from William Arkle

We must seek not to concern ourselves with God so much as to concern ourselves with what concerns God

William Arkle - A Geography of Consciousness (1974) from page 206
Picture by William Arkle -

The above sentence strikes me as profoundly wise, and a challenge to all serious Christians. If we come to an understanding of why God created us, and what he wants from us; we may find that God wants us to become more and more divine until, eventually, we are so much like him that we can beome divine-friends; co-workers in the creation. He has made this world for such a purpose - to provide the necessary experiences. That, then, is God's main concern about us. If so; it is likely that God does not want our constant attention (as is generally assumed) so much as he wants that we pursue this path he has made for us. 

When I was a post-modernist

My views, my 'ideology', changed often and frequently through my teen years and adult life as I zig-zagged ny way to Christianity in middle age - in one such phase I was a pretty-much a post-modernist (more-or less from late eighties to early nineties - but publications listed below took a while to reach print).

My most-cited publication of this sort was probably this book chapter about post-modernity in health promotion - published in a multi-author sociology volume.

I also wrote about medicine and post-modernity.

And my essay on Robert M Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance was written while I was deep into the shallows of Robert Rorty.

I find it hard to imagine myself in this postmodern phase - but the evidence is there. One of the perils of prolific publishing, I suppose...

The fighting pastor

A priest or pastor needs to be the tough kind of sheep herder we associate with the young David from the Old Testament; that is a defender of his flock against wolves, bears, lions and whatever else threatens them.

This is the proper nature of Christian church leaders, especially in times when the faith is threatened; otherwise, what is the use of churches at all?

Church leaders need to be courageous in defense of their lambs against whatever threatens them most. 

It requires no great powers of spiritual discernment to recognise the utter incapability, unwillingness and collaborationist culpability, of the leadership of current mainstream churches in Albion...

Read more at Albion Awakening...

Monday, 30 October 2017

How Romanticism came of age - Owen Barfield explains...

At the Notion Club Papers blog, I describe how Owen Barfield (back in 1944) pointed-to the solution to the most important problem of our time and place: the role of Imagination for modernity in The West... This being, in fact, the second time that the question had been answered (the first being in the works of Rudolf Steiner between 1886-94).

Something changed in human consciousness... Now we must have metaphysical foundations for fundamental convictions

The basic understanding I derive from Owen Barfield is that human consciousness changed with the advent of the Romantic era (building-up from the middle of the 18th century) - and that this movement was uncompleted since its impulse was either denied or corrupted.

The proper direction of Romanticism was towards a new 'synthesis' of traditional and modern (of spirituality and science) - but this did not happen.

One aspect of this failure has been that the insights and lessons of Romanticism have Not been included in the modern world - indeed they are alien and utterly excluded. This is obvious when we consider the paradigms of modernity: the bureaucracy and the mass media - there is no integration at all, and in practice only the materialist is considered decisive.

What I conclude is that for the modern sensibility, we must have a metaphysical basis for that which is primary. The failure to resist even the grossest insanities of modernity is because we lack a solid metaphysical base.

In theory, we could be ruled by 'common sense' - in practice common sense has zero traction in modern conditions - we need to have rock-solid metaphysical reasons for anything that matters.

This applies in religion too - including Christianity (e.g the major litmus test issues of male priesthood, and the status of homosexuality implied by same-sex marriage). The weakness of Christianity in the face of the sexual revolution is partly, essentially, due to weaknesses in the traditional metaphysical basis of Christin understanding of the sexes and sexuality. Such weaknesses are being brought to the surface, exposed, for the first time in history.

The only way forward is on the basis of metaphysics - what is conscious cannot be made unconscious; cannot because it is God's will (Man's destiny) that Man become more and more conscious - en route to becoming divine. This is an essential aspect of theosis under modern conditions.

What used to be done on the basis that it was prudent, expedient, natural, spontaneous... such things must now be done on the basis of fundamental metaphysical conviction - or they will not be done at all.

Fixing metaphysics requires a certain honesty - because it entails acknowledging that we know what is right, but cannot explain it metaphysically - and this means admitting that the traditional metaphysical accounts are inadequate. Traditional, mainstream Christianity does not have-all-the-answers, even after two thousand years, because the problems of modernity are novel.

(Purposive Evil has learned through history, and has found a new and highly effective way of attack - as described in Screwtape Proposes a Toast, by CS Lewis.) 

If Christians won't admit this, then they will not be able to fix the problem.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Until the Western nations can make policy for explicitly Christian reasons, there is no reason for optimism

I often repeat the fact that the Western nations are paralysed and doomed to self-destruction until after a spiritual Christian revival: as things are now, all secular policy is lethal (overall).

This is because all secular policy is based on the false materialist metaphysics, which intrinsically denies any purpose or meaning to life.

And any (overall) good policy must be aiming at the good - and if the good is not Christian, then it is a false-good at best.

More usually modern Western public policy is a strategically net-evil policy; masquerading as promoting freedom, justice, happiness, wealth or something - for example the legal and procedural changes relating to the regulation of sex and sexuality over the past half century are all evil (i.e. deliberately destructive of good) by intent of those with power and influence who pressed for them.

Modern Western ethics are rotten through-and-through - tainted from top to bottom. These ethics will work-through to evil, inevitably. From where we are now, no good can come by the methods that are allowed and effective.

There can be no incremental approach to repentance and renewal from within the existing system; we must reach outside the materialist mind-set and see the world as created, and humans as intrinsically purposive.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Weekend illumination from William Arkle

A luminous late painting by William Arkle from sometime 1980-2000

Prayer and Meditation compared

A personal account by William Wildblood at Albion Awakening.

What is true philosophy?

True philosophy is defined by its aim, not its methods.

The aim is for the individual to get back to his fundamental assumptions, to perceive which of his assumptions really are assumed (and not merely based-on other assumptions) - the aim is for the individual to be confronted by his pure assumptions.

That is the fundamental philosophical situation. Philosophy is something each must do for himself - others may help, but none can do it for you.

But the fundamental situation is not what is put-into words, not what is described; but it is the actual 'inner' situation that words are trying to express.

If that fundamental situation can be contemplated, then a person has attained to philosophy: that is to self-knowledge - specifically to direct (not theoretical) self-knowledge.

(Summarised by the first self-conscious philosopher, Socrates, quoting from the temple of his God: Know Thyself. Implicit is that this knowledge of of primary assumptions. This is the basis of true philosophy.)

What happens next? Who knows? Because the fundamental situation is the realm of freedom, of agency; of the real self and ultimate reality as known by that self.

But from that confrontation comes wisdom - true philosophy. 

Thus, true philosophy is rooted in inner, esoteric insight. The real Socrates was - and knew himself to be - primarily a religious mystic.

(The dialectical, questioning philosophical method associated with Socrates is only one method of attaining the aim - and a very limited one, because dominating, coercive, humiliating; thus likely to evoke push-back rather than assent. The subject of Socrates questioning was apparently sometimes a 'stooge' whose behaviour was dissected and debunked in public; and this method was implicitly aimed-at the attainment of philosophy in the audience, not the subject. But probably the real Socrates worked mostly in private, one-to-one or in a small group of friends - as shown in the early dialogues. For a lucid account of the real Socrates, as contrasted with Plato's use of him as a mouthpiece, see Paul Johnson's Socrates: a man for our times, 2011.)

Friday, 27 October 2017

New Owen Barfield Blog

A new blog of my work on Owen Barfield is now emerging.

My rationale for this blog can be found on The Notion Club Papers - which is my Inklings blog. 

What made me read The Hobbit?

I read the Hobbit aged 14, and shortly afterwards The Lord of the Rings: which changed my life permanently. After the Hobbit - much followed.

But what were the factors that made me read the Hobbit in the first place?

The uselessness of mindfulness

Mindfulness is being heavily (albeit dishonestly) pushed by many institutions at present; the practice is useless at best - harmful in its strategic intent.

If Western institutions were teaching prayer in the absence of Christianity, that people should just be praying but not to anybody or anything in particular - but because the process of praying is somehow good-for-you, the incoherence would be obvious.

Mindfulness is a fragment of Buddhism - a partial means to the ends of Buddhism, in which context it makes sense. But what kind of sense can it make without any religious objective?

Well, this religious practice is supposed to be a kind of therapy, or to make people feel good. That's all. It is like advocating going to church every week to enjoy the singing. In other words, it is shallow and at the level of pleasure.

But mindfulness is presented as if it is a spiritual activity, good for the spirit.

The question is why, aside from bureaucratic empire-building and perhaps the promise of a more effective or compliant workforce, mindfulness is being pushed - by whoever is pushing it.

My best guess is subversion of religion. Promoting pseudo-Buddhism is subversive of Christianity (in a Western context) and also subversive of any possibility of genuine Buddhism.

The implicit teaching of mindfulness education is that what matters about religion is not truth, but how you feel - putting religion on a level with entertainment, social media, alcohol and drugs.

Since real religion is the only genuine threat to the mainstream modern Establishment - this is  plausible to me. 

The usual 'at least' cover story is used to protect the subversion; 'at least' people will have a little bit of religion, 'at least' they will be encouraged to set aside some time away from media for thinking (albeit thinking about nothing, and with no purpose)...

Maybe mindfulness could be a gateway to real religion? This might be semi-plausible if almost exactly the same kind of content-free 'spritituality' hadn't already been tried multiple times since the Beat generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 60-70s and the New Age movement of the 80s... 

Well, did all this partial and diluted religiosity lead to more genuine religiousness, to more genuine spirituality? Look around - the obvious answer is no No NO! It led to, facilitated or permitted a vast expansion of materialist bureaucracy and totalitarianism on one side; a culture of hedonic distraction on the other.

And there we have our answer as to why mindfulness is popular among the bureaucrats and micro-managers...

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Brief Notice: The Good Place on Netflix

The Second Series of The Good Place, a sitcom/ serial-drama, is currently running on Netflix.

It is a really excellent philosophical and character-based comedy: funny, fast-moving, twisty, gripping, and extremely clever!

But, you must watch it from the beginning of the First Series, and in order...

The Compleat Lecturer: The special effectiveness of lecturing - in Oxford Magazine

The Compleat Lecturer – 2: The special effectiveness of lecturing
Bruce Charlton
Oxford Magazine, Second Week, Michaelmas term, 2017: 8-9

The Compleat Lecturer – II: The special effectiveness of lecturing

Lectures work – when done well and used appropriately; but nobody seems to know why. And the lack of an accepted rationale for the method seems to make people feel guilty about using lectures.

Typically lectures are taken for granted (which makes it unlikely that they will be improved); but the attitude is often hostile, and sporadic attempts are made to replace lectures with almost-anything-else in the name of innovative teaching. However, such experiments are usually short-lived. In modern mass higher education systems, it is impractical, and unaffordable, to replace lectures with a sufficient quantity of individual or small-group teaching. Attempts to do so, in any more than an ineffectual and token fashion, merely lead to less-teaching; not better-teaching.

Yet pragmatic realism about the lack of viable options is not a positive reason in favour of promoting lecturing as a valuable method in its own right; nor is it likely to guide or inspire good lecturing.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence of lectures’ specific effectiveness comes from what people actually do, rather than what people say. I find it highly significant that lectures have been especially used in teaching the most quantitative and systematic sciences, and for intensive professional training courses such as medicine, engineering and law. In other words, lectures have been a focus of teaching in exactly the situations where transmission of knowledge is most vital, and in subjects where relevant learning is most validly measurable. This is an indirect argument in favour of their value.

(Of course, lectures will only get you so-far; and individual teaching by direct and sustained personal contact or ‘apprenticeship’ - supported by ‘drill’ or repeated practical exercises - remain absolutely essential methods for learning specialized and high level skills.)

Taking these observations of long tradition and their place in serious professional education together, there seems to be ample prima facie evidence that lectures are a good teaching method in many circumstances and for many students. However, it is not generally understood why lectures are useful - or, at least, plausible positive explanations why good lectures are effective are not generally articulated. And because their rationale is not understood, the conduct of lectures has often been changed in ways that tend to make them less effective.

I believe that the effectiveness of lecturing can best be understood by taking into consideration what is plausibly known of ‘human nature’. In brief; lectures are effective when, and insofar as, they tap-into spontaneous human social behaviours, as these are understood by the various psychological disciplines.

Therefore, the primary and specific reason for their effectiveness, is essentially that lectures are a form of spoken communication, which is delivered to an audience by an actually present, authoritative and perceptible person, through a series of repeated social interactions.

A lecture can be considered as a formally-structured social event whose pattern fits some aspects of evolved ‘human nature’; and when that basic event is well-designed and ‘exploited’ in a lecture, this situation artificially manipulates instinctive human behaviour in order to improve learning.

As well as being spoken communications, lectures are properly delivered by an actually present individual person. This living presence creates a here-and-now social situation which unfolds in real time. Because humans are social animals, we are naturally more alert and vigilant in actual social situations.

What makes the lecture a ‘social event’ is the potential (even when, as usual, not actually realised) for two-way communication. Think of the difference between attending a play in a theatre and watching a movie: a theatre audience is typically much quieter and more focused than that of a movie. Because, although in practice the actors and audience almost-never communicate individually; the reality of human presence has a powerful effect on the activity, alertness and concentration of individuals in the audience - especially in a theatre when the audience can be seen and heard from the stage.

In lectures, this factor of presence works mainly by actual sensory-contact (mainly visual and auditory) between lecturer and audience. The situation of real-time social communication makes students spontaneously more vigilant than when alone with a book or computer, because a student’s failure to pay attention can be observed.

A properly-conducted lecture also exploits the psychological disposition to attend to persons of authority in social situations. In effect, the formal lecture is a mutually beneficial ‘collusion’ between class and lecturer: the class lends authority, and the lecturer uses it, in mutually-valued pursuit of effective education. Indeed, the physical structure of a well-designed lecture theatre - the arrangements of seats and stage - enables a situation in which a group’s attention is spontaneously focused on the lecturer; and this physical structure, of itself, artificially generates authority in the lecturer.

Most evolutionary psychologists would agree that humans were naturally selected to attend-to, and thus better remember, the words of authoritative, high-status individuals. The lecture situation is that socially-effective collusion whereby a class of students implicitly, by their silent attention, temporarily creates a psychological state of authority for the lecturer with the purpose of making learning more effective. This situation ought to be mutually gratifying as well as for mutual benefit: to have authority bestowed-upon-him is gratifying to the lecturer; and the resulting enhancement of attention and memorability is gratifying and beneficial for the students. The justification is improved motivation, and therefore learning, all-round.

It is, indeed, precisely because the authority structure of a formal lecture is so powerful an instrument for focusing attention and improving learning that the lecture medium can be abused for propaganda purposes – for example by political or religious orators who orchestrate mass-meetings or rallies. Because lectures can so effectively exploit human psychology, lectures are indeed intrinsically an imposition by one upon the many. The justification for such a potentially-hazardous asymmetry of power, and a factor that tends to prevent abuse, is the requirement that the lecturing process must genuinely be motivated by a shared ethic of education.

A further important factor is that the social interaction of a lecture is repeated. The syllabus of a qualification such as a degree is organized into units typically called courses – and as a generalisation it seems to work best when each course is given by a single person. The reasons are probably psychological – but the psychology seems to constrain the educational possibilities.

Lecturing requires some stability; the lecturer and the class need to get to know each other – and in particular the class needs to get-to-know and learn-to-trust the lecturer, which takes time and repetition. Until this trust is established, the student will experience an inner resistance to learning which is hard to overcome. The first couple of lectures may be entertaining or they may be dull, but they are seldom fully ‘educational’ in any substantive sense – it is only later in the course when some solid understanding and knowledge is likely to be transmitted. Therefore one-off lectures by multiple lecturers should be avoided; and multiple (team) teaching likewise avoided.

Also, the lectures in a course should be given reasonably close-together; at least once a week, and ideally more often – to assist and accelerate this process of class members developing familiarity, and indeed getting to know each other: as well as bonding the class into a psychological unit, so they develop a cohesive group personality.

Discovering the distinctive group personality of a class, and adjusting the teaching to its needs, is one of the things which keep lecturing fresh and enjoyable. Just like people, no two classes are exactly alike in personality - and some are quite delightful!