“Biblical Series II: Genesis 1: Chaos & Order”

Today listening to part 2 of Jordan Peterson’s series on the Bible:

I appreciate his attempt to bring biblical stories back into relevance by examining them through a modern psychological lens. Very interesting stuff.

“The Truth About South Africa and Apartheid”

Very interesting. Worth paying close and careful attention to.

I feel here Stefan actually did a good job of being as objective and fair as he could.

“Cultural Marxism” (videos by Anekantavad)

“Cultural Marxism”:

“Cultural Marxism II”:

“Cultural Marxism III”:

Skipping part 4 in the series and heading on to “Cultural Marxism V” (including actual quotes from Karl Marx):

“Cultural Marxism VI”:

“Re: A Brief History of Feminism (Cultural Marxism VII?)”:

“Cultural Marxism VIII”:

Those were the best videos, IMO, out of a series created by Andy back in 2011.

I present these videos here simply as another perspective on the matter, considering how frequently I hear and read the term “cultural marxism” lobbed around these days online. Andy’s views don’t necessarily encapsulate my own views on this topic entirely, though I do share his recognition that this term is used so broadly and vaguely (plus has very little to do with Karl Marx’s actual expressed views) to where it’s rendered nearly nonsensical and is incapable of being accurately descriptive. It’s become a popular buzzword (at least in certain circles) lacking in clear content, which of course leads to the term obscuring more than it illuminates.

“Feminine Psychology and Masculine Ideology” — an excerpt from the book “Beyond Psychology”

Been wanting to transcribe more from Otto Rank’s book Beyond Psychology (1941), picking back up on page 235 at the beginning of chapter 7 titled “Feminine Psychology and Masculine Ideology”:

It has become a truism that man from time immemorial has imposed his masculine way of life upon woman, both individually and collectively. Traditions, likewise, seem to agree that woman not only willingly submitted to any man-made ideology which happened to prevail but was clever enough to assimilate it and use it to her own advantage. Less obvious, though of greater importance, is the complementary process, namely, that man, while imposing his mentality on woman, usurped some of her vital functions and thus unwittingly took on some of her genuine psychology, differing fundamentally from his own masculine ideology. Herein lies the most paradoxical of all psychological paradoxes: that man, who was molding woman according to his own sexual will, should have taken over into his ideological philosophy the love-principle so deeply rooted in woman’s nature. The conception of Agape, as we have seen, revived the vital principle of woman-love which had been lost in Antiquity, particularly in Greek civilization, where the original mother-goddess was finally replaced by the masculine ideal of the self-created hero.

This gradual replacement of an original mother-culture by the masculine state-organization appears reflected in the development of ancient religion, especially in the Near East, that is, in Asia Minor. Of particular interest to us is the recent study, already referred to, of such development which, documented by Biblical tradition, enables us to follow the successive steps, leading from the one form of social organization to the other. The material in question concerns the story of Petra, known from Biblical sources as “the Rock City of Edom,” which, from the time of Moses and possibly before that, controlled, for many centuries, a great transit route. In its early days of matrilineal succession, the deity was a goddess who, by acquiring a son first for the role of consort and later father, finally became masculinized herself in the form of a god.

Such development, characteristic of all early religions of civilized peoples, seems to reflect the gradual emergence of our later conception of family-types from an undifferentiated mixture of biological facts and supernatural ideologies. Yet, in a sense, this symbol of an original bisexual mother-goddess reveals to us the real story behind the mythical conception of the “first” man, as presented in later Biblical tradition. In order to be impregnated by man, woman had first to give birth to that man as her son, who, when matured, could become her mate and thus a father. The Biblical story presents, as it were, the end-phase of this development in a masculinized reversion of the fact that man is born of mortal woman. Primitive religion, on the contrary, abounds in pictures of a self-sufficient or (later) hermaphroditic goddess who originally creates life without the aid of man before creating man, who in turn creates her in his own image. Such speculations about the origin of man necessarily lead to an incestuous beginning, which, however, does not reflect biological facts but expresses an ideological need in man to blot out the mother-origin in order to deny his mortal nature. Herein is to be found the dynamic drive for man’s religious, social and artistic creativity through which he not only proves his supernatural origin (religion) and capacity (art) but also tries to translate it into practical terms of social organization (state, government).1

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[Footnote] 1 A German scholar, Ernst Bergman, designates these two antagonistic tendencies of human civilization in terms of the difference of the sexes as “Erkenntnisgeist und Muttergeist” (Breslau, 1931), meaning the spirit of knowledge as against the spirit of motherhood. He even speaks of a sexualization of woman by man.

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The primaeval mother-goddess, later associated with her son-lover who eventually as father usurped her place, seems to have been the prototype of the “Heavenly Queen” characteristic of all Near-Eastern religions, in which invariably a mother-goddess appears sexually related to a son. From Babylonian and Egyptian to Persian and Greek tradition we find this same pattern symbolized in the relationship of Istar-Tammuz, Isis-Horus, Maja-Agni, Tanit-Mithra, Kybele-Attis, Astarte-Adonis and Aphrodite-Hermes. Even in Christian tradition, traces of a similar relation of Christ to Mary can be detected as Robertson1 has suggested on the basis of an earlier myth of a Palestinian God—probably named Joshua—who appears in the alternate relations of lover and son to a mythical Mary. It is important, however, to bear in mind that Christianity does not represent a mere parallel to those ancient conceptions but rather a revival and re-interpretation of the original mother-concept which had given way to the masculinization of Eastern civilization. For in Christianity, this incestuous relationship is interpreted as a symbol of spiritual re-birth. This conception is expounded in Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus’ question as to how a man can be born when aged? Is it possible for him to enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born again? Christ’s well-known answer to this tricky question bears out his spiritual interpretation of the ancient tradition.

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[Footnote] 1 Robertson, John Mackinnon, Pagan Christs. N. Y., Truth Seeker Co.

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The gradual masculinization of human civilization, in my opinion probably the most enlightening clue to history, is borne out by mythical and religious tradition as well as by the development of social concepts and artistic creation. Mythologically, it is epitomized in the transition from an original moon-goddess characteristic for all early religion to the masculine sun-god who obliterates the moon. The transition—paralleling the above-mentioned religious concept of a mother-son relationship—is found in the widespread tradition of an originally female moon-goddess who was first supplemented by a masculine counterpart, a moon-god, in the role of son or brother, with a later development to husband and father. “These mythological traditions of all civilized and most primitive races have their sociological counterpart in the fact that the remains of the moon-cult also point to primitive conceptions of society, in which the woman still played a greater part than that which we find allotted to her in the patriarchal organization of high cultures with their sun-cult.”1 The best documented example of such masculinization, implying the denial of woman’s importance, is to be found in Egyptian tradition with its violent suppression of the moon-cult epitomized in the ancient Isis-religion by the sun-cult of Ra forcibly introduced by the heretical king Tutankamon. According to the original moon religion in ancient Egypt, the child was named after the mother, a matrilineal rule still reflected in the legend of Moses, the fatherless child. In this, as in all other traditions of the myth of the birth of the hero, the father was not eliminated, as Freud saw it in the light of his patriarchal philosophy, but was unimportant if not altogether unknown.

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[Footnote] 1Art and Artist, Alfred A. Knopf, N. Y., 1932, p. 125.

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As the repressed mother-cult is presented in such fragments of an earlier civilization, so we may find in other relics of ancient tradition further evidence for the once universal veneration of female creativity which was denied by man’s need of an immortality of his own. How far-reaching and in what unexpected directions such a search may lead can be illustrated by a suggestion of Dr. Murray’s, which she presents in connection with her discussion of this change of sex in the early religion of Petra. She points out that among the gods whose images—often merely oblong stones—have been found at or near Petra were several who were also honored at Mecca in the “Days of Ignorance.” This conjecture makes it likely that the “Holy Carpet” which covers the Kaaba was once the outward image of a goddess, which therefore had to be decently veiled. Such interpretation would explain the ceremonial circumambulation of the Kaaba during the ceremonies of the Haj as a relic of the ritual dances long ago, when pagan Arabs capered-round it naked and priests of Baal leaped up and down before the altars of a god who required human sacrifices. Both through their racial relatedness to the Arabs and the religious influence from Babylonia the Jews seemed to belong to this same cultural development to which they also appear geographically bound. Petra, which during its long history had changed hands frequently, was always snatched from earlier settlers by one of the many Arabic desert tribes attracted by its riches. In the Bible it is known as Edom because in its early days it was occupied by the Edomites, descendants of Esau and kinsfolk of the Jews. They had captured it from the Horites, who in turn had taken it from the Kenites under whom it was first known. The Biblical sources from which most of Petra’s history is drawn provide many examples showing how primitive and crude the Jews were in the day of their power.

There is one incident recorded from a later period which is completely out of place as far as religious ceremonial is concerned and which seems to have preserved in it another relic of an original mother-cult among the Jews, whose monotheism appears as the result of a long struggle against foreign gods who still betrayed the earmarks of an earlier mother-goddess. The episode referred to is King David’s dance before the Torah, an unheard-of sacrilege not only in the times before the building of the first temple but even in the early days of the Golden Calf—another mother-symbol. In the light of Dr. Murray’s suggestion about the original “sex” of the Kaaba it seems quite possible that the Torah which guided the nomadic Jews through the desert represented an original female symbol, a relic of the great Asiatic Mother-Goddess who had been replaced by Jehovah through the man Moses, in whom appears epitomized the transition from the mother-cult of ancient Egypt to the father-cult of monotheistic religion. The Torah proper, containing the new masculine Law of Moses, was—not unlike the Kaaba—carefully covered by the rich vestments inside of which it rested invisibly.

Christianity not only openly restituted the early importance of the mother-cult but likewise did away with its highly masculinized substitutes in Jewish religion and Roman statecraft. By spiritualizing the Oriental mother-cult, the Christian religion extended this genuinely biological conception into a universal love-ideology applicable alike to man and woman. We have shown how this spiritual love-conception of Agape gradually became contaminated with earthly, that is, sexual love-desires—a confusion of the two principles culminating in the romantic love-emotion. This semi-religious development precipitated what one might call a feminization of our Western world, resulting in our psychological type of man. The will-ful Eros and the yielding Agape were translated into psychological terms of “wanting” (will) and “being wanted” (loved), a moral re-evaluation which not only brought about a change of personality types but a change in the general mores of modern times.

This change of psychology in modern man calls for a new evaluation beyond our moral classification of masculine and feminine which shall take into account the more fundamental difference concerning the functioning of the will in the personality of the two sexes. Whereas man’s will in its free expression is simply “wanting,” in woman’s psychology we meet the paradoxical will-phenomenon of wanting to be wanted. Such reversal in the expression of the will raises the question as to whether we are to see it in another perversity of human nature or a genuine expression of woman’s natural self. This latter assumption would then presuppose that there always was and still is a woman-psychology, which has not only remained unrecognized throughout the ages but has been misinterpreted religiously, socially and psychologically in terms of masculine ideologies. First and foremost, through this confusion of the feminine Agape and the masculine eroticism, the religious conceptions of good and evil have been interpreted in sexual terms of “masculine” and “feminine”; that is to say, our social standards and values concerning masculine and feminine traits have become inextricably bound up with our moral notions of good and bad. According to this moral code, which Western man set up by interpreting nature in moral terms, masculinity became identified with strength, power, if not creativity—in a word, goodness; whereas femininity designates silliness, weakness, if not wickedness—in a word, badness.

In view of our previous discussions, it becomes obvious that what we meet in those moralistic qualifications is the age-old struggle of the rational self against its irrational nature. From the point of view of man’s rational psychology, “feminine” traits of emotionalism appear “irrational,” whereas in reality they represent human qualities of a positive nature. Since modern psychology is not only masculine but derived from our neurotic type of man, a great deal of its terminology originated from a misinterpretation of woman in terms of man’s sexual ideology. Such misinterpretation, as shown for example in the psychoanalytic conception of masochism, is not a modern invention but is deeply rooted in human language. For language, which originated as a free expression of the natural self, gradually developed into a rational means of communication voicing the predominant ideology. Thus, in contrasting masculine ideology and feminine psychology we have to guard against becoming involved in the intricacies of linguistic confusion inherent in human speech. In other words, we must first step beyond language in order to remain “beyond psychology,” made up as it is from a language already sexualized. Contrary to common belief, human language did not emerge like the love-call of birds and other animals as an expression of the male’s sexual urge for the female. True, language is masculine, but only in the sense that it was created by man to be used as a most powerful instrument with which to produce a world of his own by interpreting the existing world in terms of his masculine sexology.

The creation of the universe through Jehovah’s word, as the Old Testament presents it, gives testimony to man’s presuming to re-create the natural world in his own words. The Biblical story called “The Tower of Babel” epitomizes man’s ambition to change language from a means of self-expression into a tool for universal communication. The moral of this parable seems to imply a warning against man’s presumptuous attempt to “understand” everything by putting it into words. The fallacy of such an undertaking betrays itself in the vicious circle created by man who first named things in his own language, only to use the same language afterwards by which to “explain” them. Thus it seemed easy to prove—be it in religious, sociological or psychological terms—that this man-made universe was right. In reality, however, this creative ambition of man has produced ever-increasing confusion since the time of Babel, until in our day the world is actually at war about the meaning of words. Terms like communism, fascism, democracy seem to evade any clear definition, because it is not so much their semantic meaning which counts as the way they are used and the means they are used for.1

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[Footnote] 1 Soon after the German occupation of Czecho-Slovakia, Berlin sent a daily radio-hour to Prague in order to explain the political terminology of the Third Reich to its new subjects.

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In trying, at least temporarily, to keep out of this ideological word-war, we go back to the undeclared war on the border of the two sexes, that is, masculine versus feminine ideology. Here, because the only terminology which psychology furnishes us with which to explain woman is a masculine one, we find ourselves confronted by the same difficulty concerning human language. While the story of the Tower of Babel impresses upon us the linguistic confusion between man and nature in terms of national differences, here we encounter a more fundamental difference in the language used in traffic between man and woman. There actually are two different languages characteristic of man and woman respectively, and the woman’s “native tongue” has hitherto been unknown or at least unheard. In spite of her proverbial chattering, woman is tacit by nature; that is, she is inarticulate about her real self. Man, in his creative presumption, took upon himself the task of voicing her psychology—of course, in terms of his masculine ideology. This fundamental misunderstanding between the two sexes, speaking as it were different languages, appears in Biblical tradition at the beginning of things when Adam listens to the voice of the serpent, speechless by nature, and simply understands it his way. Mark Twain, an unsurpassed master of language, expresses this dualism in human speech when, in his “Diary of Adam,” the first man constantly complains about Eve’s interfering with his joyful task of naming things by suggesting different names for them.

The question as to whether or not this aboriginal dualism of verbal expression in man and woman is reflected in the two genders of various languages has become a source of heated debate among linguistic scholars. In approaching the problem from a new angle, that of man’s creative urge, I was disposed to assume, in conformity with the general view adopted in this book, that what we have to deal with is not a growth of language out of sex-acts or sexual activity but a comparatively late sexualization of language as a manifestation of the human creative urge which gradually usurps the parenthood of everything by bringing sexual connotations into its nomenclature. This sexualization of language is itself, then, a metaphorical way of expressing a “just-like”; that is, it gives name-forms to everything that man creates, “just as if” they were produced by him as the child is.2 It is very tempting, of course, to adduce the existence of genders in almost all modern languages as evidence of the sexual origin of languages; but such a conclusion is so superficial that most scholars, even when attempting to prove the sexual origin of languages, scorn it as unscientific. A really scientific approach proves for our living languages what Powell had already established as a result of his thorough investigation of Indian languages, when he says: “The student of linguistics must get entirely out of his head the idea that gender is merely a distinction of sex. In the North American Indian languages (and probably in the Bantu and the Indo-European also) gender is usually a classification method.” We find the classification of “higher” and “lower” beings, that presently became one of “male” and “female,” in the Semitic languages, which, even thus early, breathe the moral outlook of the East. Here, too, the primitives disclose to us the deeper sources, for (according to Powell) the main principle of their classification is to divide animate and inanimate objects.

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[Footnote] 2 A rather curious example is provided in the famous “Indian Bible,” as the first translation made in the colonies was called. Some scholars claim that the translation by the Rev. John Eliot was so faulty that the Indians could not understand it. But recently Prof. S. E. Morison came to the rescue of the translator by pointing out some of the difficulties under which Eliot labored. “Throughout the Bible, wherever the word ‘virgin’ occurs, Eliot uses a word that means ‘a chaste young man.’ That was because chastity was accounted a masculine virtue. They had a word for ‘virgin,’ but seldom any occasion to use it. No doubt it seemed much more suitable to the Indians to have the bridegroom met by ten ‘chaste young men.'”

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Thus the inclusion of primitive languages within the scope of our study has shown this phenomenon of grammatical genders to be but a part of a much wider and more complex system of classification; and this makes it all the more interesting to follow the phenomena of transition. Opposed to the two-gender system of the Indo-European, we have the Indian classification that we have just been discussing, based chiefly on the distinction of “soul” and “no-soul” (living and non-living), though, to be sure, there attaches to this a certain valuation as “personal” and “impersonal,” which reappears in the distinction of “masculine” and “feminine.” Most interesting of all are the transitional languages, which show the beginning of sexualization side by side with the old basis of classification. According to Meinhof, the developed system of the Bantu languages has more than twenty classes with special prefixes; and between them and our two-gender system we have, for instance, the Hamitic Ful, in which, above the old classification of nouns, is an overlying new system with only four headings: persons, things, big and small, whence, as the big pass into the class of persons, and the small into that of things, a twofold system is developed, corresponding to our division into masculine and feminine. This gives us a glimpse into the valuation-principle which eventually identifies persons, living, big and important things with man, and non-living, small and unimportant things with woman. This provides a striking parallel to the primitive’s belief regarding the immortality symbols (i.e.. the shadow) of man or woman respectively, stressing the immortality claim of man’s soul as against woman’s mortality, and subsequently assigning values to everything by dividing the world into things animate and inanimate, i.e. good and bad. The only problem here is: why does woman always come into the class of the evil, dangerous, and less valuable? This, as I have explained, arises from man’s urge to eternalize himself personally, an urge threatened by sexual propagation, of which woman is the representative; and so woman passes into what I have called the Not-I class, which includes dangerous as well as unimportant (and neutral) things.

This brief summary of the origin of human speech bears out man’s utter egocentricity, which can be supplemented by the fact that among the first things he named were the parts of his own body. Centuries before the Greeks formulated this basic egocentricity in the slogan of their whole civilization: “Man is the measure of all things,” it operated naively in primitive man. Starting from his own body as his “first field of experiment in his efforts to solve the problem of the ego and to discover its relation to the surrounding world,” man divided the visible universe, as it were, into two categories, the “I” and the “not-I.” The things he accepted, liked or needed he classified as belonging to the I-class, relegating everything else to the not-I class. By virtue of his belief in personal immortality, in which woman as the bearer of sexual mortality did not participate, she automatically became identified with the not-I class (wo-man—no man). Hence, all not-I things, which later formed the neuter class in European languages, were first considered feminine. Thus language, like all other basic human inventions, originated from the supernatural worldview and not from practical motives or rational considerations. Such origin explains the powerful role of words in magical practice, whereby the knowledge of the right word, kept as a secret in priestly tradition, could call a person or thing into being as well as destroy it.

While this genuine magic of words still echoes in our political and scientific slogans, language, which was at first religious, gradually became secularized. Hence is explained why any profanation of language was forbidden, and still is, for that matter, until language itself in its every-day use became profane. This process of deteriorization, known to linguists as “change in the meaning of words,”1 ultimately also led to the sexualization of language as a part of the whole masculine interpretation of the world.

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[Footnote] 1 In the process which reflects the changing mores, words tend towards a baser standard. Examples of such “moral degradation” of words can be amply found in every modern language. Not being sufficiently familiar with the history of the English language, I am taking a few examples from a letter to the New York Times. Mr. Jacques W. Redway, of Mt. Vernon, N. Y., writes on June 21, 1938: The opposite process, the covering up of a bad meaning by a nice word known as “euphemism,” applied essentially to everything which has to do with the two basic “unmentionables,” sex and death. Examples abound here, too, for every category; so we will just mention one which, having found expression in law, definitely characterizes the social philosophy of our times. The good old English word “bastard,” which is avoided in ordinary speech has been formally banned in New York by a statute approved April 9, 1925, and for it is to be substituted in all legal documents the term, “child born out of wedlock.”

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[Bolded mine. Some footnotes were omitted.]

Stopping for today on page 247. It’s proven to be an interesting book to read, though I won’t claim to have formed a strong opinion about all of its content. It’s interesting food for thought to take in and swish around with the rest. Though I am fairly familiar with arguments about the masculine origin and slant of language, Otto Rank adds an interesting perspective into the mix.

I intend to transcribe more from this book at a later date.

On the dual strivings of human nature and power — an excerpt from “The Heart of Man” by Erich Fromm

I’m still in the mood to reflect back on Erich Fromm’s writings, so I’ll continue on with transcribing, this time picking up his book The Heart of Man: Its Genius For Good and Evil (1964), beginning on page 7:

Man—Wolf or Sheep?

There are many who believe that men are sheep; there are others who believe that men are wolves. Both sides can muster good arguments for their positions. Those who propose that men are sheep have only to point to the fact that men are easily influenced to do what they are told, even if it is harmful to themselves; that they have followed their leaders into wars which brought them nothing but destruction; that they have believed any kind of nonsense if it was only presented with sufficient vigor and supported by power—from the harsh threats of priests and kings to the soft voices of the hidden and not-so-hidden persuaders. It seems that the majority of men are suggestible, half-awake children, willing to surrender their will to anyone who speaks with a voice that is threatening or sweet enough to sway them. Indeed, he who has a conviction strong enough to withstand the opposition of the crowd is the exception rather than the rule, an exception often admired centuries later, mostly laughed at by his contemporaries.

It is on this assumption—that men are sheep—that the Great Inquisitors and the dictators have built their systems. More than that, this very belief that men are sheep and hence need leaders to make the decisions for them, has often given the leaders the sincere conviction that they were fulfilling a moral duty—even though a tragic one—if they gave man what he wanted: if they were leaders who took away from him the burden of responsibility and freedom.

But if most men have been sheep, why is it that man’s life is so different from that of sheep? His history has been written in blood; it is a history of continuous violence, in which almost invariably force has been used to bend his will. Did Talaat Pasha alone exterminate millions of Armenians? Did Hitler alone exterminate millions of Jews? Did Stalin alone exterminate millions of political enemies? These men were not alone; they had thousands of men who killed for them, tortured for them, and who did so not only willingly but with pleasure. Do we not see man’s inhumanity to man everywhere—in ruthless warfare, in murder and rape, in the ruthless exploitation of the weaker by the stronger, and in the fact that the sighs of the tortured and suffering creature have so often fallen on deaf ears and hardened hearts? All these facts have led thinkers like Hobbes to the conclusion that homo homini lupus (man is a wolf to his fellow man); they have led many of us today to the assumption that man is vicious and destructive by nature, that he is a killer who can be restrained from his favorite pastime only by fear of more powerful killers.

Yet the arguments of both sides leave us puzzled. It is true that we may personally know some potential or manifest killers and sadists as ruthless as Stalin and Hitler were; yet these are the exceptions rather than the rule. Should we assume that you and I and most average men are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and that our “true nature” will become apparent once we rid ourselves of those inhibitions which until now have prevented us from acting like beasts? This assumption is hard to disprove, yet it is not entirely convincing. There are numerous opportunities for cruelty and sadism in everyday life in which people could indulge without fear of retaliation; yet many do not do so; in fact, many react with a certain sense of revulsion when they meet cruelty and sadism.

Is there, then, another and perhaps better explanation for the puzzling contradiction we deal with here? Should we assume that the simple answer is that there is a minority of wolves living side by side with a majority of sheep? The wolves want to kill; the sheep want to follow. Hence the wolves get the sheep to kill, to murder, and to strangle, and the sheep comply not only because they enjoy it, but because they want to follow; and even then the killers have to invent stories about the nobility if their cause, about defense against the threat to freedom, about revenge for bayoneted children, raped women, and violated honor, to get the majority of the sheep to act like wolves. This answer sounds plausible, but it still leaves many doubts. Does it not imply that there are two human races, as it were—that of wolves and that of sheep? Furthermore, how is it that sheep can be so easily persuaded to act like wolves if it is not in their nature to do so, even providing that violence is presented to them as a sacred duty? Our assumptions regarding wolves and sheep may not be tenable; is it perhaps true after all that the wolves represent the essential quality of human nature, only more overtly than the majority show it? Or, after all, maybe the entire alternative is erroneous. Maybe man is both wolf and sheep—or neither wolf nor sheep?

The answer to these questions is of crucial importance today, when nations contemplate the use of the most destructive forces for the extinction of their “enemies,” and seem not to be deterred even by the possibility that they themselves may be extinguished in the holocaust. If we are convinced that human nature is inherently prone to destroy, that the need to use force and violence is rooted in it, then our resistance to ever increasing brutalization will become weaker and weaker. Why resist the wolves when we are all wolves, although some more so than others?

The question whether man is wolf or sheep is only a special formulation of a question which, in its wider and more general aspects, has been one of the most basic problems of Western theological and philosophical thought: Is man basically evil and corrupt, or is he basically good and perfectable? The Old Testament does not take the position of man’s fundamental corruption. Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God are not called sin; nowhere is there a hint that this disobedience has corrupted man. On the contrary, the disobedience is the condition for man’s self-awareness, for his capacity to choose, and thus in the last analysis this first act of disobedience is man’s first step toward freedom. It seems that their disobedience was even within God’s plan; for, according to prophetic thoughts, man just because he was expelled from Paradise is able to make his own history, to develop his human powers, and to attain a new harmony with man and nature as a fully developed individual instead of the former harmony in which he was not yet an individual. The Messianic concept of the prophets certainly implies that man is not fundamentally corrupt and that he can be saved without any special act of God’s grace. But it does not imply that this potential for good will necessarily win. If man does evil he becomes more evil. Thus, Pharaoh’s heart “hardens” because he keeps on doing evil; it hardens to a point where no more change or repentance is possible. The Old Testament offers at least as many examples of evil-doing as of right-doing, and does not exempt even exalted figures like King David from the list of evil doers. The Old Testament view is that man has both capacities—that of good and that of evil—and that man must choose between good and evil, blessing and curse, life and death. Even God does not interfere in his choice; he helps by sending his messengers, the prophets, to teach the norms which lead to the realization of goodness, to identify the evil, and to warn and to protest. But this being done, man is left alone with his “two strivings,” that for good and that for evil, and the decision is his alone.

The Christian development was different. In the course of the development of the Christian Church, Adam’s disobedience was conceived as sin. In fact, as a sin so severe that it corrupted his nature and with it that of all of his descendants, and thus man by his own effort could never rid himself of this corruption. Only God’s own act of grace, the appearance of Christ, who died for man, could extinguish man’s corruption and offer salvation for those who accepted Christ.

But the dogma of original sin was by no means unopposed in the Church. Pelagius assailed it but was defeated. The Renaissance humanists within the Church tended to weaken it, even though they could not directly assail or deny it, while many heretics did just that. Luther had, if anything, an even more radical view of man’s innate evilness and corruption, while thinkers of the Renaissance and later of the Enlightenment took a drastic step in the opposite direction. The latter claimed that all evil in man was nothing but the result of circumstances, hence that men did not really have to choose. Change the circumstances that produce evil, so they thought, and man’s original goodness will come forth almost automatically. This view also colored the thinking of Marx and his successors. The belief in man’s goodness was the result of man’s new self-confidence, gained as a result of the tremendous economic and political progress which started with the Renaissance. Conversely, the moral bankruptcy of the West which began with the First World War and led beyond Hitler and Stalin, Coventry and Hiroshima to the present preparation for universal extinction, brought forth again the traditional emphasis on man’s propensity for evil. The new emphasis was a healthy antidote to the underestimation of the inherent potential of evil in man—but too often it served to ridicule those who had not lost their faith in man, sometimes by misunderstanding and even distorting their position.

As one whose views have often been misrepresented as underestimating the potential of evil within man, I want to emphasize that such sentimental optimism is not the mood of my thought. It would be difficult indeed for anyone who has had a long clinical experience as a psychoanalyst to belittle the destructive forces within men. In severely sick patients, he sees these forces at work and experiences the enormous difficulty of stopping them or of channeling their energy into constructive directions. It would be equally difficult for any person who has witnessed the explosive outburst of evil and destructiveness since the beginning of the First World War not to see the power and intensity of human destructiveness. Yet there exists the danger that the sense of powerlessness which grips people today—intellectuals as well as the average man—with ever increasing force, may lead them to accept a new version of corruption and original sin which serves as a rationalization for the defeatist view that war cannot be avoided because it is the result of the destructiveness of human nature. Such a view, which sometimes prides itself on its exquisite realism, is unrealistic on two grounds. First, the intensity of destructive strivings by no means implies that they are invincible or even dominant. The second fallacy in this view lies in the premise that wars are primarily the result of psychological forces. It is hardly necessary to dwell long on this fallacy of “psychologism” in the understanding of social and political phenomena. Wars are the result of the decision of political, military, and business leaders to wage war for the sake of gaining territory, natural resources, advantages in trade; for defense against real or alleged threats to their country’s security by another power; or for reason for the enhancement of their own personal prestige and glory. These men are not different from the average man: they are selfish, with little capacity to renounce personal advantage for the sake of others; but they are neither cruel nor vicious. When such men—who in ordinary life probably would do more good than harm—get into positions of power where they can command millions of people and control the most destructive weapons, they can cause immense harm. In civilian life they might have destroyed a competitor; in our world of powerful and sovereign states (“sovereign” means not subject to any moral law which restricts the action of the sovereign state), they may destroy the human race. The ordinary man with extraordinary power is the chief danger for mankind—not the fiend or the sadist. […]

[Bold emphases mine]

Stopping on page 14.

[Edited for typos on Dec. 11th, 2014. Apologies for the delay in re-proofreading.]

“Woman, Be Silent!” (plus my thoughts)

Tonight finishing listening to The Thinking Atheists’s podcast titled “Woman, Be Silent!”:

Rarely do I listen to podcasts of any sort, but I found this one interesting. Was already familiar with pretty much everything mentioned therein, but it was still worthwhile to listen to. I like the podcaster’s style and his decency toward guests. Very refreshing, especially for an atheist (just keeping it real). Provided me with food for thought.

Like the story of Lilith, which I’ve known about for several years but never really deeply studied up on. Should do that. (Btw, hence “Lilith Fairs” attended by feminists and lesbians.) The way I interpret that story is it represents the pre-domesticated woman.

See, this rise of civilization has been all about domestication. First humans aimed to domesticate animals, then came humans, with the rise in male-dominated (religious) hierarchies taking the role of domesticator of womenfolk (that being my current thoughts and understanding on that anyway). Just the way history shook out. And the “wild woman” is something that’s been demonized pretty heavily ever since. Sad fact of life apparently, says one modern wildish woman out in the crowd. The wild woman couldn’t be properly broken, which is a big reason why she’s been written out of history and left forgotten in religious circles — no one wants to speak her name except when condemning her. She’s considered a pain in the ass, unwilling to submit. Fell out of favor for a long time, yet, that spirit seems to be brewing back around again, though commonly in a distorted way that proves to be what some consider excessively hedonistic and promiscuous. Guess it comes down to one’s perspective on the matter. This is a time of sexual liberation but also of learning consequences resulting thereof. Can and does present tough lessons to reckon with.

I’ve been thinking about all of this wild woman vs. domesticated woman stuff for quite a long time as I’ve been forced to wrestle with my own lifestyle’s impact on myself and others. And I’m still left with a lot of mixed feelings.

On one hand, the push toward domestication disgusts me — it feels too unnatural, too restrictive at times, too often rendering what was once on some level regarded as sacred into popularized rubbish. Our needs aren’t apparently getting met, hence why we’re so prone to continue deceiving one another. We feel the need to explore despite it not being considered socially proper during certain life phases. And I’d argue we’re being driven into one another’s arms sexually all the more because so many of our other bonds have broken down. What at first seems like rampant hedonism on the surface might actually be a glimpse at the reality created through the utilization of remaining avenues of exploration and connection in a time when so much else is denied or rendered foreign to us. It’s a thought.

And on the other hand, there is a real need for self-control in each individual. We can’t just give into any and all impulses and whims — doing so will undermine the very values that we claim to esteem. Like loyalty and romantic faithfulness in a union. Most people can’t help but care about this (though I personally remain on the fence and in the outfield on the subject — double standards admittedly continue twisting me up). We value certain bonds over others, and each relationship sets its own parameters. But there still appears to be this need to deny desires at times so as to focus that energy on projects deserving to be catered to or bonds willfully being committed to. Because that’s the way life goes — we each have social needs and obligations. That requires a give and a take, which means not doing everything we might individually want whenever it strikes our fancy.

I know I personally struggle with some of this, as one highly individualistic and defiant one out in the bunch. Blame it on my immaturity if you must, but I’m still not sold on where to go from here. While I know that I don’t desire to resume my previous lifestyle since it wound up leading into some dark places, I’m not so interested in pretending to be someone I’m not in an effort to appease someone else’s ideal. Can’t do it anymore. Tried and crashed and burned. Epic and sad failure on my part.

I just don’t know what to do now other than take time to think and sort and ponder.

Getting back to the podcast, I really appreciate how well the podcaster treated the female Methodist pastor. Very respectful despite their differences in perspectives. My family is Methodist, and it is more lenient than Baptist faiths I encountered down South. Just to throw it out there, my ex-husband had been raised and home-schooled in a Primitive Baptist family where his father became a preacher. His father didn’t tolerate women wearing pants either, and he believed it was within his right to continue belting his adult daughters, to mistreat his sons, and to punish his wife physically. Very full of himself. So yeah, I understand much variation exists out there, especially comparing Southern experiences to liberal Christians up here in the Midwest. Big differences.

Also, I too appreciated Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel and would recommend it to others as food for thought. Very disturbing and illuminating read.

[Lightly edited on 10/7/2014 for greater clarity.]

One inquiry into what is religion

Tonight I came across Suicideforcelluloid’s video “What is religion?”:

Have only maybe maybe watched a video or two by him in the past, so not too familiar with that YTer. Mostly I viewed that in preparation for listening to Prof. Anton’s reply:

I’ll post here what I left in a comment on that video:

Wow. You said it ALL in this video! Thank you for responding on this topic — this inquiry is so important for all of us right now.

“Dogmatically committed to a hyper-hyper-rationality” — very good way to state it plain.

“Hyperationality…it’s imagining what will never be. To that extent it’s an irrationality…There’s more rationality in the person who accept the limits of rationality.”  Great explanation there.

That’s the problem in a nutshell with so-called “scientism” and is why atheism is coming to look like dogma dressed up in scientific cloaks. People collect and then conform and before you know it turn dogmatic in their share beliefs. Appears it goes hand in hand with rising populations and widening the net in how we’re affiliated.

“What is community?” really is the deeper question. We as individuals can’t survive without some form of community, yet what we’ve created is now causing us so many problems and is breaking up tight-knit communities everywhere. They’re rapidly going extinct—first tribes, then towns, then neighborhoods, now families are feeling the pressure—leaving us all out here to float around looking for what feels missing in our lives and trying to figure out how to connect and bond with very little knowledge of wisdom that might help. Instead we’re flooded with insecurity-poking magazine articles and fiction.

I really liked what you said about kids and parenting, because it is true that some people are made better people by becoming parents, and their children benefit from this. Love is what it’s all about, it’s what we need more of. Just sucks that there’s so much pressure on everybody to breed, as if that in itself is the key unlocking a meaningful life. Winds up becoming about adults using kids to satisfy their own longings, which rarely works out well for all involved. Would be ideal if we saw less of that and more parenting that comes from a place of wanting to pass on love and guidance and being able to do so.

You spoke about people being “sentenced to life” and on putting more weight on the death that will inevitably follow — that ties into my own views on abortion and why it can be seen as merciful (though many people react badly to hearing that). Life is sacred, so bringing people in willy-nilly without much forethought, not caring if they wind up raised by the foster care system because they weren’t adopted out, leaving them to the mercy of society without any promises of love and devotion from the people who created them — that’s just so incredibly harsh. If we accept that and wish to prize life, it seems to follow that it’s also our responsibility not to bring new life into being if we can’t provide love. To do so is cruel and creates broken people who then may turn around and take out their pain on others.  And being reminded of that by the news nonstop makes us feel all the more cautious and untrusting and disconnected.

What do you think the future may hold in store for communities?