Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Christian Self Destruction

Christianity is a fundamentally sacrificial religion.  Can it survive? God first, last and always. The believers are only relevant as part of God's "plan".  What is this plan?  It is faith based and transcendental.  Is it actionable as in "sell all your earthly possessions and follow me"?    The fundamental centrality and importance of God is Ten Commandments #1. YOU become exalted by your sacrifice to and for God. God is #1-you are ancillary and only something in his care and protection.  You gain true humanity and  heaven by true humility.  Does thinking bad of ourselves free us to be good? This drives success based, goal oriented people crazy.  To lose is to win or to say it differently to win is to lose.  Exalt yourself-lose, exalt God-win.

As a cultural idea this is frighteningly naive.  To undertake having a servant mentality works against your earthly interests as it compounds your heavenly treasure.  No matter what happens--God will save you if you put your trust in him.  Maybe not here on earth but surely where it matters.  So if your sacrificial strategy loses here on earth then we gain eternity for having the nth degree of faith.

This is very convenient and not at all provable.

Should our self interest be a rough guide to action?  Frankly, how could it not be?  How can one be essentially altruistic?  If one were, it would be sacrifice for no discernible purpose except demonstrating one's capacity for self abnegation.  When ones says I am dependent on Christ--I put him ahead of everything else, we should ask, How is this possible?  I have to get up everyday and do something.  How do we know God's requirements for EVERYTHING?   Jesus is always right there helping.  Really?   HE does not need my belief, I do.  His desire is for me to be a full and complete person. 

I am a human AND spiritual person.  Some mix of both.  Should I say my human nature is irrelevant and my spiritual nature is my true identity?  What would Socrates injunction to "Know thyself" mean if it was not a product of some mental effort rather than faith profession?  Christianity is a closed loop.  Life everlasting is gained by valuing the only Life we know as insignificant as possible.

Justice is getting what you deserve.  None of us pleaded for consciousness.  We were gifted it.  When we want to know God we have only our self to discover him.  It is OUR action to accommodate him.  If he is spinning the story then our responsibility is listening.  So to what do we commit?

So I became a cultural Christian.  I suppose that is a denomination like Baptist, Evangelical, Methodist, or Catholic.  We have some minor differences......Do I love God?  Uh-Yes? And as for loving Jesus-sure why not?  Miracles, as an idea, give me a problem.

I mention these concerns as prelude to the question of whether a Christian nation can succeed? or whether defining it that way necessarily imposes a strict requirement of failure and redemption in Heaven.

The Enlightenment project began 400-500 years ago as a realization that engaging the World could lead to Progress in a way that reliance on God could not.  The Renaissance started a human self improvement project that retained its church based moral center as a comfortable home base but pushed out to explore what was possible and what could be improved.  The human improvement project flowered and became the industrial revolution and the science/technology revolution.  The story of man's conquest of Nature to moderate its determination of his fate.  In 1860 Darwin made it more obvious that the Christian worldview that humanity had grown up with, was limited, and Progress, as a pure ideal, took its place.  Man had religion as an adjunct not as a foundation and his vision turned from Gods will to Man's will be done.  Religion mouthed the old comfortable words but society really believed in a scientific future.

Progress still rules as the central organizing principle of society.  Religion sustains but Progress is driving the change we experience. Progress and rationalism however have lost their direction.  They are no longer guides.  Our clear vision has turned dreamlike and slides into nightmare.  Progress doesn't lead anywhere--and rationality can't fix it.  We can only throw up idols and dance madly to make them meaningful.  Nobody believes really believes in them.  The old religion is a leaky vessel for our new cutting edge philosophies but many attempts are being made to refurbish it.  The thoughtful among us are not persuaded.

Our challenges are not only philosophical.  Industrialism is toxic.  Economic growth forever is impossible.  Progress is becoming decline and tending toward collapse.  We have a litany of existential problems.  There are the Near Term Extinctionists (NTE) and the Extinction Rebellion cohort.  Climate change proponents have a model of action that says everyone must immediately stop what they are doing and do nothing or join the climate change movement.  You are either for us or against us.

And the deniers.  They don't buy that the only thing to do is shut down the system we know and currently are operating under.  They quite rightly ask, isn't it what is providing for us all?  We can't quit what we know how to do.  So either we must or we won't and it seems likely to me that we won't until conditions mandate it.  It is hard to imagine shrinking carbon release at all(we never have despite 50 years of talking about it), much less by say 10% per year and of course inconceivable that we could quit using fossil fuels in the next 20 years.  It would be rational to first stop the growth in CO2 production, then take steps to reduce it, and as we succeeded, more steps to minimize it.  But we have no philosophy of LESS.  We have changed from 500 years of growth and progress to needing something else and we have no vocabulary for it.  Everybody should strive to live on 1/2 their income.  Those of us who are rich might find that difficult and uncomfortable but the majority of people in the world living on $2 a day would die on $1 a day.

So there may be no political decisions to make.  There are no Rational options.  There is simply nothing useful to do except conserve oneself.  Preach sustainability.  Aim for what it could be.  Make do with less.  The new motto:  Success is less.  Who is going to endure this sacrifice while the clueless and uncomprehending are building their dream homes, collecting their favorite toys, and making airline reservations?

So is it war then?  Diplomacy by other means?  Lets talk about globalism then.  A world organization of some kind that would help all nations and people work together to solve BIG problems.  If we look at the arc of western history we see it coalesce from many localities into principalities into nations and the first beginnings of a world order.  But now that progress has slowed and decline begun, it is impossible to create a freely chosen viable world order. But Totalitarianism may yet triumph.  It could be some dystopic 1984-like system but entropy would continue to operate and re-localization will gradually occur.  Strong nations will be in play for many years or at least as long as the modern financial system lasts and then smaller political units will form.  Big is most protective and has the most freedom in a balance of power world.  People will try and retain those structures but infrastructure requires energy and that will be diminishing. Few regular people want globalism and it is proving to be unworkable anyway.  The modern corporation has made its play at running a transnational enterprise but it is under attack.  Modern multinational gangs like the Mafia, Exxon, IMF, Colombian cartels,  Mexican drug gangs, or Russian oligarchs also have significant international power and are an "alternative" organizing principle.  Globalism was an ideal because Progress demanded it but with the shakiness of our  global financial arrangements that goal of international comity will not be succeeding.

The task of dismantling complexity to prevent catastrophic failure unfortunately triggers failures that can lead to conflict.  How could our American Empire give up power and influence voluntarily?  We would have to be prepared to accommodate to what other people want.  To leave Iraq and still want their oil will cost us more money for the oil.  But that should be the aim of policy.  A better global citizen,  not becoming a better more powerful hegemon. Empires collapse and so will America's.  When is the Second Coming?  After 2000 years, Tomorrow is not likely that day.

No comments:

Post a Comment