Sunday, 24 July 2011

If history is myth; then modern socio-politics is also myth

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Since the core Inklings project (as made explicit in the TCBS and Notion Club) was the recovery of history as myth; this project (which I too embrace) naturally extends to modern politics, to our current interpretation and understanding of what has happened, and what is happening.

We need, that is, to get away from - or rather subordinate to secondary status - the usual secular explanation, prediction and agenda for what happened to our culture (political, economic, scientific/ technological, socio-psycho-logical etc) - and over-arch these with a 'mythic' (but naturally mythic and True) understanding.

This will enable us, indeed encourage us, to take a step back from the noise and lies of 'current affairs', alliances and interventions, to focus on the task of recovery and reconnection, and to 'work' at an altogether different level and in an altogether different mode (because with altogether different objectives).

This step back becomes not just possible but absolutely necessary since the mythic analysis makes clear that unless the myth is restored then all our efforts (no matter what their explicit intentions) will turn to the Enemy's benefit.

But the myth in question is the fullness of Christianity; that is a pre-modern Christianity in which the world is 'animate' (that is what myth means) and this animate world is understood and prophesied in Christian terms.

So, by this account, the Inklings were trying to backfill-Christianity - that is to fill-in the mythology 'behind' Christianity so that it will again become animated and comprehensive.

This includes a pre-modern cosmology (as described by Lewis's medieval lectures and essays); a conception of the world in which animals, trees landscapes were alive and in relation to humans (as depicted in Narnia and Middle Earth); and in which the world there was a restoration of purposive influences for Good or Ill: God and Devil, Angels and Demons (including gods and goddesses and nature spirits; and for Tolkien there was national, racial, linguistic and familial spiritual heredity.

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8 comments:

Alex said...

But the myth in question is the fullness of Christianity; that is a pre-modern Christianity in which the world is 'animate' (that is what myth means) and this animate world is understood and prophesied in Christian terms.

According to a worldview of great antiquity, 'nature' was thought to be animated by gods and spirits of every description. These often capricious agents could inflict calamity or bestow favours for many inscrutable 'reasons'. They had to be propitiated by the staging of prescribed rituals.

But in Christian philosophy of life, as theologian Thomas Derr observes, "man does not face a world full of capricious and ambiguous gods who are alive in the objects of the natural world. Instead he believes there is one supreme creator God whose will is steadfast. Nature, (as ordained by Almighty God) exhibits regularity, dependability and orderliness. It is intelligible and can be scientifically studied".

In other words, monotheism liberated us from the bondage of ancient myths which 'explained' the world to a pre-scientific understanding. We can now investigate Nature on the theological assumption that God has created a universe which is regular, predictable, and open to systematic study.

The fullness of Christianity cannot be restored through myth - at least not for me.

bgc said...

@Alex - "man does not face a world full of capricious and ambiguous gods who are alive in the objects of the natural world. Instead he believes there is one supreme creator God whose will is steadfast. Nature, (as ordained by Almighty God) exhibits regularity, dependability and orderliness.".

But surely that is only a partial truth - what of miracles, for instance? And that applies also to the following:

"In other words, monotheism liberated us from the bondage of ancient myths which 'explained' the world to a pre-scientific understanding. We can now investigate Nature on the theological assumption that God has created a universe which is regular, predictable, and open to systematic study."

But when do you think this liberation occurred? Relatively recently, and incompletely. Certainly not until half way through the second millennium.

"The fullness of Christianity cannot be restored through myth - at least not for me."

The question is whether this is a psychological observation, referring to yourself - which is absolutely understandable but merely indicates the problem of modernity; or whether there is a reason why you reject this - whether you think that the ancient view has been *refuted* perhaps?

Kristor said...

On the one hand, as Alex says:

As for all the gods of the heathen, they are but idols; * but it is the LORD that made the heavens.
- Ps 96:5

On the other, as the Inklings and bgc say:

For the LORD is a great God; * and a great King above all gods. - Ps 95:3

How to parse this apparent contradiction? There really are gods, and they really do animate nature (so that nature is, not only replete with spirits, but itself animate); but they are not capricious, and cannot be propitiated, and should not be worshipped; for they stand sempiternally about the Throne of their King in the Temple in Heaven, singing forever as they shine, "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth." At the same time, of course, they minister each to their particular domains, of whatever extent - a cosmos for each seraph, perhaps, and for a given angel a crossroads or a spring – as the genii thereof, guiding them each in the way that the LORD would have them go, with the result that natural regularities form a fit subject of scientific research.

bgc said...

Having recently read Peter Kreefts excellent book on Angels and Demons

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2011/03/angels-and-demons-and-good-society.html

And amplified by a comment of Kristor from last week, I am becoming convinced that angels - traditionally understood - are probably the key to re-animating the world.

Again, Tolkien may be of some help in recovering this perspective; sincer the Valar are (explicitly confirmed by Tolkien) gods (or senior angels) below the One God; and there are ranks of lesser angels including Sauron, Saruman and Gandalf.

(However, Tolkien's lower angels can and did once breed with humans - albeit an elf human - which is different!)

As CS Lewis proved on many occasions, all language in metaphorical - never wholly literal; and angles are the way that early Christians were able to comprehend the organization of the universe; since an unmediated God is too abstract for human comprehension (which has been made obvious by the historical collapse of mainstream Liberal Protestant Churches into nihilism).

The only thing that stands in the path of such recovery is not reason, nor logic, nor history, nor philosophy - and certainly not science - but the ingrained snigger of the ruling elites - which is apparently more powerful than all of the above.

... Hmmm I am going to have to post this comment on the main blog...

ajb said...

"that is a pre-modern Christianity in which the world is 'animate' (that is what myth means)"

Could you expand on what you mean in the parenthesis?

bgc said...

@ajb - well spotted. That parenthesis packed 25 years of thought into a few words. I shall need to consider it at greater length in a full posting.

Kristor said...

"Tolkien's lower angels can and did once breed with humans ..."

So did the angels of Genesis 6:1-4:

1. When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,
2. the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.
3. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
4. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

bgc said...

@Kristor - That is remarkable - I have never noticed that (hardly surprising) nor seen it referenced (or else overlooked the reference). I will need to ponder and explore the implications.

But of course Tolkien will have noticed and known.

In his mythology, he regarded the infusion of angelic, and elvish, blood into the lineage of Men as a source of ennoblement (wisdom, knowledge, artistry) - specifically the divine/ angelic came from Melian wife of the High Elf Thingol father of Luthien - and Luthien married the man Beren to found the 'half-elven' lineage of which Aragorn was a remote descendant.