Due to my experiences growing up in a dysfunctional East Coast WASP family, it took me a while to realize that Christians and Christianity were not individually and collectively out to get me. It took me longer to simply accept that believing in a book that was originally written in a language that no one alive speaks today, that paradoxically contains an account of “The Tower of Babel,” could be anything other than wishful thinking. Rather, I tend to be drawn more toward Jungian or Eastern accounts of the universe even knowing that metaphors don’t always accurately translate an author’s intent due to the fluctuating perspectives of humanity and language over time, geography, politics, and culture.
After a twenty-year career as a technical writer, with plenty of work in marketing, politics, finance, nutrition, and history, and coming from a highly religious and dysfunctional family (various New England Protestant denominations) with political activism (in The Democratic Party—since the 1960’s) part of our heritage, I don’t actually take anyone’s language-based account of “truth” at face value. Rather, my adoption of “truths” is more toward an intuitive basis as well as the effects of such a “truth” on my own well-being and productivity.
Today I have friends who are Christian who kindly and indulgently accept my own delusions. I can even pray with them without irony because I don’t accept that to be Christian means that one has a member’s-only entrance pass to “Heaven” or that there’s only one way to get there; therefore one heartfelt and sincere prayer is just as good as another. Whereas, my concept of “Heaven” equates more or less to “Nirvana” in the Hindu sense even if my actual knowledge of Hinduism is sparse.
My interest in religions primarily focuses on the fact that they all seem to originate as or devolve into intuitive representations of mathematical/economic pyramid schemes framed for the demographics that require the most direction: children and consumers. Everyone knows what to eat (buy) and when, what holidays to observe by consumption, when to work, and when to rest. There is therefore stronger wording on “Do’s” and “Don’ts” than toward the dual nature of all values, that is, ultimately a balance between forces of nature in infinite dimensions. Moreover, the notion of endless growth followed by the logical consequences of a dearth of resources for the population seems to me to be better geared toward wealthy investors best equipped for Boom/Bust market swings whether they go Bullish or Bearish and thereby in a position to perpetuate their ownership of all available resources and positions of power. All religions have a mysticism aspect which emphasizes the cyclical nature of trends, populations, and demographics, over repeatable cycles, based on adherence or lack thereof of the values listed in the religion.
I am no atheist nor do I accept the designation “agnostic” even if I can honestly say that I have no proof to back up my own beliefs that is not hopelessly biased. My belief system doesn’t have a name therefore I have for convenience adopted the name “gnostic” with a small “g”. It goes along with my “libertarian” beliefs with a small “l”.
However, it is not as if I am so morally incorruptible as to not be open-minded to a pyramid scheme that would actually cherish and nurture me. Of course, it would also have to jive with my own ethics. I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. My survival instincts are pretty well honed but my amygdala won’t permit me to violate my ethics. Therefore, I won’t be applying for a Secret Service job any time soon however I am open to alternatives in that regard (you know where to find me!)
Recently however I found out that there is a belief among some Christians that a lot of the problems today which I personally recognize as problems (racism/race-pride, nationalism, fascism, feminism, eugenics, utopianism, and a cult that calls itself, “science”) stem from an ancient thought-rift between peoples of Greece. Namely, at some point in ancient history philosophy forked between Platonism and Gnosticism (with a capital “G”), with the latter group deluded into believing that God-like wisdom and power is possible through learning and knowledge. Listening to the pompous Richard Dawkins or Al Gore it would seem that this delusion is in full flower today.
I have to thank a Disqus commenter named “zen” for pointing me toward Eric Voegelin. Here is a summary of a portion of Voegelin’s ideas:
Eric Voegelin on Nazi Political Extremism
by Clifford F. Porter
From: Journal of the History of Ideas
Volume 63, Number 1, January 2002
pp. 151-171 | 10.1353/jhi.2002.0008
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) is not as well known among historians as he is among political theorists, yet he has had a continuing influence on both German Social Democrat and Christian Democrat political leaders. His early life is very much a reflection of both the intellectual developments and the chaos of Germany and Austria between the wars. Voegelin’s analysis of Nazism is worth revisiting by historians because it delineated the Nazi rationale for the Holocaust in the early 1930s, even if the Nazis themselves had yet to move towards mass murder early in the regime. Voegelin was not prescient enough to predict the extent of the Holocaust, but he understood that the ideological rationale of Nazi violence was unlimited. Furthermore, his description of political extremism as Gnosticism in 1952 is valid for explaining why an individual might support the Nazis and then voluntarily commit extraordinarily vicious acts to try to realize the dream-world of the Third Reich.
The political, economic, and social chaos in Austria after World War I was the catalyst for the young Eric Voegelin’s studies of the essence of ideologies and the ideologists who promoted them from both the left and right wing. As National Socialism grew, so did his experiences with and understanding of extremist political ideologies. Contemporary intellectual debates between neo-Kantian and existentialist methodology, however, did not help penetrate to the essential causes of political extremism. His experiences in America in the mid-1920s were essential for his development away from what he characterized as narrow methodological provincialism to an empiricism open to philosophic questions, including spiritual questions. By 1938 he had theorized that ideologies were political secular religions that substituted the state for divine reality. [Emphasis mine.]
Because of this interpretation, Voegelin’s approach to totalitarianism has been characterized as an outdated ersatz religion model, better suited for the Cold War. The ersatz religion model worked reasonably well to describe similarities the National Socialist movement had with religions, but Voegelin recognized that it did not penetrate to the essence of ideologies. His understanding of ideologies matured after World War II into his theory that ideologies were Gnostic quests for absolute certainty that caused alienation from reality.
Voegelin thought that the search for certainty ultimately required excluding any evidence to the contrary of the ideology; therefore, ideologies limited the individual’s view of human reality to the immediate world. Furthermore, although ideologies are founded on a kernel of truth—e.g., proletarians are sometimes oppressed—ideologists become quickly alienated from reality as a consequence of their own quest for certainty about meaning in existence. The consequences of alienation are that ideologists pursue the perceived immanent good and try to eliminate the perceived immanent evil, thereby rationalizing criminality and even murder. Violence is inherent to extremist political ideologies.
It sounds to me like Voegelin and I have a lot in common.
This brings me to the modern concept of “beauty” in a woman which, foremost it would seem, is about “youth” and health. Having been young once, I recognize the allure of young women even if I also recognize the difference between admiration and molestation. It is my belief that admiration paradoxically originates from self-worth whereas fixation and molestation (which are two sides of objectification) both arise from a low sense of self-worth (unless one is merely unapologetically role-playing or masturbating—not all objectification is “bad”).
Therefore, I believe that my father’s (and sister’s) psychological, physical, and sexual torment of me was evidence of a low sense of self-worth and my mother’s tacit permission of these acts was evidence of hers.
Although I don’t pretend to be a great beauty, in the context of my immediate family I was apparently a magnet for lust and envy even before I had any idea of how to manage such reactions. Ironically and perhaps hypocritically, although I disdain the cult of beauty as it is practiced in Southern California with all the procedures and products required to maintain it, I think today that had my mother had cosmetic surgery to correct the damage to her lower abdomen muscular wall incurred as a result of two caesarian sections, such as to correct her protruding belly, I would be a very different person today.
On one hand, my mother has an overdeveloped sense of modesty and thrift which stand in juxtaposition to an overdeveloped sense of pride (in her “education”, talents, and industriousness which include an eye for beauty and design). On the other hand it is clear to me that her envy of my relatively unmarred waistline and other features considered beautiful and youthful (I am, unsurprisingly, younger than my own mother) causes in her a sense of entitlement to a share of my value as a human being. Her notions of Feminism and the supposed abuse she suffered as a young woman by being the target of vulgar remarks from men she considered her social inferiors perversely buttresses her sense of entitlement to my time and energy. She assumes that I am strong while she is vulnerable and weak. Specifically, she desires for me to intercede on her behalf in the various continuing battles she devises with my father and sister, with no loyalty whatsoever to me in that exchange. By that last I mean that she just as easily betrays my confidences to them—or anyone who will listen—as she slips on or off the mask of “victimhood”. It is therefore tremendously difficult to serve as her advocate even when she successfully enlists me and I in turn spill her secrets anonymously while personally uncertain whether I do in fact wish to be “found out”.
However, she couldn’t have trained me better to navigate the rhetorical wars of the internet if she had done so intentionally. I understand that words are supposed to induce in me an emotional or irrational reaction such as I sympathize with victims and admire winners. Naturally, the victim-worshiping/parasite-excusing dominant culture finds my lack of predictable response threatening, which is its own irony.
While I don’t regret my failure to perpetrate my dysfunctional family tree I can now accept in myself that even though I do not call myself a Christian, I am in no measure morally inferior to my mother. (My relationship to my father is more complex.)
An essay on beauty in a Christian wife reminds me that my priorities in life are at least as moral as those of my mother, who continues to seek my advice and validation of her life choices even though I am technically (in the eyes of Statist Christians) sinning in my committed, romantic, open relationship without benefit of marriage.
Unlike my mother, I devote myself to the needs and well-being of my Dominant. Highest in my priorities is to care for my own person such as to be pleasing to all of his senses, to serve him, and to be a credit to him.
In that sense I agree with this piece:
If a husband has this need [an attractive wife] and his wife refuses to change, it becomes very hard for either to have a fulfilling, happy marriage. The husband understands that his wife simply doesn’t care about him enough to meet one of his deepest needs, and feels trapped at best, and tempted by other women at worst!
While “temptation” is, in my view, interpreted in an over-broad manner by both Christians and Feminists, I do extend some blame to my mother in terms of my childhood abuse for failing to act fully as a wife to her husband. Using their daughters as pawns between them, my parents did not give me a healthy example of parenthood. Of course I also blame my father but since he does not hold himself today as my “moral” superior and has I believe done his best to make amends with me, I don’t hold the same feelings toward him as I do toward my mother. Meanwhile, my mother seems to be incapable of facing her role in the abuse of both of her daughters other than her choice of husband, which, if she doesn’t regret she acts as if she does albeit otherwise helpless to manage the outcome.
This view also puts me at odds with Feminists who seem to believe that not only is pedophilia the worst thing to befall a female but that their ideology and the narcissism of the modern age are not to blame for its increase.
Such beliefs are also held by many in the public BDSM community in the United States to the extent that ironically many women in the submissive/bottom/masochist role consider themselves “feminists” and in need of protection from “persecution” from “The Patriarchy”. However it would seem that protecting themselves from the ravages of time or potato chips is too much responsibility for most. Indulgence for all weaknesses feminine is practically dogma in the public BDSM community. Considering that “power exchange” requires that all actors be of individual agency in order for it to not be labeled abuse by the greater community, the notion that women have less agency than men (and therefore require indulgence) conflicts with the notion of “empowered” feminists.
Such a situation is also found among many Christian communities where “submission” of a wife to her husband is undermined by social norms and the greater civic culture and thereby is rapidly being legally defined as abusive. (Please see http://www.canadiancock.org/2014/09/29/after-she-kills-you/ by John Hembling if you fear being murdered by your “submissive” partner or otherwise set up to make it look like that’s what happened.)
Since many in the BDSM community profess to have “poly-amorous” or “open” relationships, the problem of a female submissive whose own assumed psychological damage does not result in physical aesthetic violations at least in middle age is considered a threat to community stability. This is nothing new. I’m familiar with this phenomenon since the ’80’s. On another level, it would appear that many committed wives and unmarried submissive women resent threats to their own established hierarchy within their intimate circle. Count me out. This state of affairs means that even a “submissive” female partner might not be interested in satisfying all of her Dominant’s sexual needs albeit of course “variety” isn’t possible to satisfy unless it is her job to solicit his alternative partners for the endeavors. (A job that I’ve never been particularly good at as women aren’t the prey I was designed to hunt.)
Meanwhile, as I avoid the steely eyes of envy in my peers with less control over their health and appearance than I do, I resent their own self-complacency even more than the bitterness. Perhaps this is my own baggage. I wonder retrospectively whether my mother’s refusal to even wear a corset in the privacy of my parents’ bedroom was in some part due to Feminism, and whether her refusal to cater to my father’s tastes—for a slimmer woman—resulted in his own failure to follow through on his myriad and sundry career and business ambitions to a successful outcome. Some might say this is “evolution” whereas I tend to blame Eugenics.
With my father barely working or simply dreaming of his next scheme and my mother perpetually involved with myriad activities outside the home it is no wonder that no one thought to actually watch over me in terms of protecting my interests (hovering over me while leering doesn’t count). As the perpetual “new kid” in each of the nine school systems I was enrolled in it is no wonder that I sought my own validation, admiration, and approval in father and mother substitutes at a young age. While I don’t apologize for my past promiscuity and diverse sexual experimentation, it helps to understand the origins of this behavior in terms of who I am today—an unapologetic flirt with hopelessly high standards.
Similarly, I blame “attachment disorder” for much of the hedonism and nihilism which substitutes for intimacy today. Apparently all the toxic ideologies of our modern age don’t comprise a gnosis of this phenomenon.