The essay below is the fifth in a series by Takuan Seiyo. See the list at the bottom of this post for links to the previous installments.
"Blind monks examining an elephant", Hanabusa Itchō, circa 1888
The Bee and the Lamb
By Takuan Seiyo
Embracing the elephant (continued)
To regain the cognitive “top-10%,” traditional Christianity would have to give up its fundamentalism and obscurantism. Blaming “secularism” for the ills of the West is spurious when it’s “faith-based”, reason-defying religious assertions that on the one hand have eased the way for Socialism and xenophilia (aka Roger Scruton’s oikophobia) to corrode the West from within, and on the other have repelled born-into-the faith intellectual heavyweights and cognitive prodigies in droves since the early 18th century.
“It is this deep impression of supernatural truth, "wrote Edward Gibbon, another of those prodigious quintifectas that the British peoples used to produce in such profusion, “which
has been so much celebrated under the name of faith; a state of mind described as the surest pledge of divine favor and of future felicity, and recommended as the first or perhaps the only merit of a Christian.”
“Accordingly,” continued this 18th century British historian, polyglot scholar, parliamentarian, officer and gentleman, “to the more rigid doctors, the moral virtues, which may be equally practiced by infidels, are destitute of any value or efficacy in the work of our justification”.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire from which these lines are excerpted took Gibbon 12 years to complete, beginning in 1776. The “conservative” voting into office any churchgoing moron who has good orthodontics framed in engaging smiles, is over 5’10” and married with children and not fornicating, will be outraged by the salvos Gibbon fired at Christianity in this multi-volume masterpiece. He would be only slightly less outraged by Gibbon’s dislike of Judaism and his wondering in horror what would have happened if Mussulmans won the battle of Poitiers and the Koran would now be taught by Oxford professors demonstrating to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.
As it were, the Saudi-financed Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies is now in … well, I won’t tell you; it’s the kind of question that highschoolers flunk in countries run by multiculti space cadets. Oxford is as well where the aforementioned local bishop voices support for the amplified Muslim call to prayer, so congruent with the 14th century lanes of this once-Saxon town and the traditions that once made Great Britain great.
Returning to Gibbon, his treatise on the fall of Rome and the weaknesses of Christianity found its most ardent admirers among contemporary giants of the Anglo-Scottish-American Enlightenment like Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, William Robertson, David Hume and Benjamin Franklin, and statesmen-philosophers like Horace Walpole (another Anglo quintifecta). It had a place of pride in the libraries of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Carlyle, Winston Churchill and countless other heavyweights. But what’s significant about the names iterated above is that almost all of them had an estimated IQ of at least 150. That’s not just Charles Murray’s top 10%, but the top 0.09%.
IQ, even genius, has no necessary bearing on wisdom, common sense, morality or character. That’s why a smart elite that’s not wise is worse than useless. Intellectual brilliance does not insure against the fancies of craziness, whether Martin Luther’s (est. IQ 170) ranting against reason, heretics, Jews or the abodes of the Devil (e.g. in a Swiss lake), or Ted Turner’s (I.Q. 128) donation of $1 billion to the U.N. Third-World cesspool and championing of every cause of the kooky Left, from Obama to global warming.
Luther’s dismissing Copernicus as “upstart astrologer” and citing on the authority of Moses that six thousand years ago the world did not exist, are well known. More significant is his reviling Reason in passionate terms as “poisonous beast with many dragon’s heads” or “the Devil’s greatest whore… eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed… [and have dung thrown in her face]”.
Contrary to Luther, faith justifies nothing but itself. It’s a tautology. Old revelations had physical symptoms remarkably like modern migraines. But a reasonable inference may be made as to the existence of God by observing the doings and ecological function of a bee [let’s call it Hypothesis A]. A reasonable inference may be drawn that except for the supernatural stuff, the basic story of the life and ministry of Jesus as told in the Gospels is true despite their mutual inconsistencies [Hypothesis B]. A reasonable hypothesis may be argued that if we posit A and B, inference C is that A and B are connected. But no reasoned deduction can be made that B equals A, or that one knows and can define the precise nature of that connection. Therefore, it’s presumptuous to assert that every word that unknown and non-contemporaneous writers ascribed to Jesus — including all the lamb and turning of the cheek lines — is the immutable Word of God, hovering in a supernatural dimension outside of time and space.
The 120+ IQ people still run things, and they have either abandoned Christianity (mainly in Europe) or are milquetoast Christians (mainly in the U.S. and U.K.) forever worrying about bigotry in Britain or “racial injustice” in America, but not about the survival of Britain or America. And that survival depends on attracting a large number of them to its cause, as well as turning Christianity itself from an agent of the West’s self-evisceration to an agent of the West’s self-revivication.
The situation is dire. The Muslim fanatic chased from his own Muzland finds refuge in England to preach the enslavement and mass murder of Anglicans while receiving lavish welfare from Anglican taxpayers and vocal support from the Anglican Primate and bishops. If that’s not crazy, what is? And the Muslim is not the crazy one.
In the United States, the Congregationalist Hartford Seminary (est. 1833) expounds on its website at length about its paving-of—the-road-for-Islam activities, including this 2011 study boasting that “the number of American mosques increased 74 percent since 2000” and — Hallelujah! — “Islamic houses of worship are ethnically-diverse,” which in current Duckspeak means that the culturally enriching dispensers of the magic of Strength in Diversity are not only Arabs but also North and West Africans, Pakistani and Talibani, Bosniac, Chechens and other cousins of Washington, Jefferson and, of late, Roosevelt and Truman. As if this glorious contribution were not enough, Hartford is also committed to “providing leadership education to marginalized communities,” which translated from Duckspeak means the Black, the mestizo tribe of La Raza, and women. No doubt, when generous patrons provide more funding, other marginalized categories will be added to this rainbow, though for sure not reactionary, churchgoing Polaks.
Not that the Catholic Church itself would care for such uncool ethnicities. Among others, it operates Catholic Charities USA that bills itself as “a professional association and social justice movement” committed to “Racial Equality and Diversity.”
Racial Equality is anathema to God, for if it weren’t, Poles would have been born with greater ability to shoot hoops, and Blacks would have been born with greater ability to solve differential equations. That part alone, equal outcomes for all, is enough to make of a former empire a dusty province fit for cubicle serfs toiling in the bowels of the Ministry of Truth and preyed upon by imported yahoos — all probably under the colonial administration of a people that has not yet ascended to Echelons Above Reality — say, the Chinese.
The “Diversity” part of the charming formula hints at Catholic Charities’ being one of the primary contractors for the U.S. Federal Government’s master plan of electing for itself another people; in this case through the proactive sucking in of 7th century “refugees.” Catholic Charities’ rationale for this is, first, that Jesus himself was a refugee and, second, “Our history as a faith community has been as an immigrant church in an immigrant nation.”
Both statements are fatuous babble. Jesus was a Jew born in a semi-Hellenized country of 700,000 Jews, and removed temporarily to a next door, semi-Hellenized country of 1,000,000 Jews (plus 7 million others) — and no welfare, “racial justice,” “hate crimes,” ADL or ACLU. But Catholic Charities USA imports thirdworlders ranging from Somali Bantu to Burmese Lhotshampas. These are transplants not only from vastly different cultures, but from different centuries. If Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus had found refuge in 1st century Peru, there would have been some parallel here.
As to the “immigrant nation” bromide, by the time George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were born, their families had lived in America for 100 years. They were no immigrants who founded the United States. Besides, there is hardly a nation on Earth that isn’t an immigrant nation. The founders of the Vatican immigrated to Etruscan land and, for racial justice’s sake, should both return that land to the Etruscans and encourage immigration by the Somali Bantu. The Japanese once lived somewhere between Mongolia and Korea. So much for Progressive drivel.
Catholic Charities has offices in many American cities, busily importing and planting wonderful diversity in the “immigrant nation.” They brought in the Rwandan “refugee” Beatrice Munyenyezi to Manchester, New Haven, where she is now on trial for her participation in genocide. They boast how “Kurds have changed Nashville”, as the Kurdish Pride Gang undoubtedly has. As the primary Tennessee fiduciary agency for the U.S. feds’ project of replacing America’s root stocks with alien barbarians, Catholic Charities probably plays down such predictable consequences as the 29 Somali Bantu gangbangers on trial in Nashville for trafficking Somali girls as young as 12 for sex in several American cities. More on such benefits of imported Wonderful Diversity — and that’s just in one state, Tennessee — here. All this is financed by the U.S. taxpayer, and implemented mostly by Christian charities. What could possibly go wrong for people of faith, the little Lambs?
The church weighs in heavily on the yin side in the West’s Empire of Yin. Gone are the yang forces that once complemented it: hierarchy based on manly virtues, attachment to the soil, ethnic and cultural homogeneity, and still-felt vibrations of Roman and Greek cultures.
The tilt toward the feminine and dissipative (i.e. “peace, equity and social justice”) is in compensation for past yang excesses. Like the Judaic precursors, for instance the prophet Samuel urging King Saul to slaughter the Amalekites, the Church has had centuries of yang eruptions. Catholic Popes sired multiple children and rode off to battle in resplendent armor (e.g. Julius II). Arnaud Amalric, Cistercian abbot and papal legate, asked by the commander of the crusader army how to deal with the besieged town of Béziers, including its women and children, answered, “Kill them all, the Lord will recognize His own." The year was 1209, but the Cathars of Béziers were French Christians, if fundamentalists. That hurts.
Nor are the Protestants immune to this charge. The word ‘roundhead’ still inspires wrath in Ireland, 260 years after its denotation expired. Old townhouses in Holland still contain secret nooks where Catholics worshipped in fear. Michael Servetus perished not in a Catholic but a Calvinist bonfire. Women in 17th century Puritan New England or Lutheran Scandinavia were treated as though those were still the times of 1st century’s 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.
Hence the counter-amplitude. Tossed about pendulum-like by cosmic forces they do not understand, modern day Western Christians serve the forces of entropy and decay instead of the earlier contractive but harsh paradigm. They are convinced, however, that they are continuing the good works of [Augustinian canon] Erasmus, Pope Pius IX (1792 — 1878) or [Archbishop of Canterbury] Thomas Cranmer (1489 —1556).
Erasmus (1466 — 1536) in particular has been adopted by the forces of Christian and post-Christian yin as the patron saint of the European Community and its socialist-multiculti-Islamocuddly doing away with itself. But while all three Christian greats and others in their vein were ecumenically oriented, liberalizing opponents of strict dogma and deeply learned humanists, their critical inquiry was bound in respect for tradition; their analytical reason, by faith in the transcendent; their ecumenism, by discrimination; and their humanism, by the concern for the survival and prosperity of their own kind.
What emanates now from important Christian leaders, not to speak of such bona fide faithful as the Johnson, Carter, Kennedy, Bush, Blair, Brown and Atlee names adduced in a previous chapter, is something entirely different: it is secular solipsism and utopian eschatology masquerading as enlightened Christianity. It harks back to 2nd century Gnostics and not to the great Christian thinkers of the Renaissance or Enlightenment. It’s the lamb lying down with the lion that’s still a lion. It’s redistributive socialism and minorities-exalting Progressive doctrine that has nothing to do with the recognition of God’s presence on Earth.
In contrast, in that part of Europe that was protected from the Progressive virus by the Iron Curtain, the Church is much stronger, but still mired in lowbrow superstitions of the lower cognitive classes. Catholics in Poland still aver that the Virgin Mary is Queen of Poland but prefer not to notice that the queen’s name was Miriam and she was a married Jewish mother in Israel. Hungarian Christian bigots revile Jews as foreign Semites, discreetly omitting that Jews not only conceived Christianity but were Christian and even European very long before the Hungarians were — respectively 1000 and 700 years earlier. If the Croat Catholic Church has begged Gods’ and mankind’s forgiveness for its horrific role in the genocide of Serbs and others (e.g. here, here and here), I haven’t heard about it. The Antisemitism of the Orthodox churches, notably the Russian and Greek, has no modern peer outside of Islam, and their anti-Catholicism has no parallel on the Catholic side (though in the past it did).
Protestant Western churches could lend some of their benevolent ecumenism and Biblical historicity to their Central and Eastern European brethren. But they should learn from the latter’s resilience, connection to the mystic chords of memory, centeredness on the home ethny, and an unabashed support for traditional, masculine values. It’s not in vain that the latest bridge in Slovakia is named after Chuck Norris, but Chuck’s home country can’t rename itself fast enough after Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, and soon enough, Harvey Milk, too. Western churches might learn as well that tolerance is not surrender, and compassion for the poor is meted out to individuals through the virtue of private charity, and not to social classes through the vileness of the Socialist state.
A shift away from a socialist-redistributive agenda and toward historicity might bring Christianity overall closer yet to another truth: the grinding material poverty of the little people in 1st century Palestine has long ago vanished in the West. But ugliness and charmlessness and psychological warps stemming from these afflictions are greater and more intractable than those based on material wealth.
Scratch a mega-murderer like the chicken-like chicken farmer Heinrich Himmler, terrorist like Yasser Arafat , communist revolutionary like Antonio Gramsci, militant socialist feminist like Betty Friedan or Tarja Halonen, unhinged lefto-media flamethrower like Alex Pareene or Rachel Maddow or a super-rich, world-repairing narcissist like Soros or Bloomberg, and you reveal a neurotic ugly duckling in high school, physiognomy too repellent, or stature too short, or sexual signals too weird to gain acceptance among peers, with painful hurt inflicted by members of the opposite sex.
It’s those ugly ducklings that grow up with the burning mission to show “them,” to control other people’s lives, to inflict punishment, to enforce “social justice” because God’s injustice in the distribution of beauty cannot be redrawn, to become so powerful or rich — by any means — that any beauty, whether that of a woman or a painting, may be got on a whim.
A church fully awakened from Platonian stupor and no longer responsive to socialist cues would minister to the ugly and infirm more than the poor, and catch them at a very early age too, for they inflict much damage later on. The notion of life’s essential unfairness and the expression “cross to bear” are relevant, but even more so would be the Stoic idea that virtue is indifferent to the slings and arrows of fortune such as genetic inheritance (looks, health), parental advantage (family standing, wealth) or even the shadow of impending premature death. Painfully forged virtue and valor are the antidote to losing in fortune’s lottery of genetic—parental advantage, and the healthy society values them more highly than it does the winners in that lottery. Hello, Socrates; Goodbye, supermodel.
The rationalization of Christianity could draw to it many more adherents from among the cognitive elite. This would amplify religion’s function as a damper of transcendence on the lucky few who are usually prone to narcissism, disdain for the little people and hubris. And hubris kills and destroys, as the Greeks knew so well but our midgets don’t. At the least, they are guilty — all of them, everywhere — of what Nicholas Nassim Taleb calls “epistemic arrogance.”
For a very long time, the Judaic and then Christian creeds have served to instill in the high and mighty a sense of humility and accountability before a “higher authority.” As God says to Job [Job 38:4, KJV]: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.” This has worked for the benefit of the ruled since early Biblical times (e.g. the prophet Nathan v. King David), and many times in European history, e.g. Pope John XXII repeatedly admonishing the cruel, despotic (and pervert) King of England, Edward II, for his malfeasance.
In addition, Christianity centered around the historical Jesus rather than the theological one could help unite a large number of cognitively equipped Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox, Lutherans and Laterans, Pre-millenialists and Post-millenialists, Pascal wageres and “Cultural Christians,” Baptists, agnostics and even atheists honest enough to admit that Christianity and Western Civilization are one laminate. To scour and polish it is one thing; to delaminate is to kill it.
All those might, at last, perceive that they are rowing the same boat in stormy seas, its floatability depending on their harmonious cadence. Each faith can be permitted its own carry-on baggage, as long as it renounces claims that God’s truth is locked in its own satchel and no other. Each would have to admit humbly that it’s a blind man touching a different part of the same elephant. The theology and rituals of each should be respected by one and all, as long as the adherents acknowledge that theirs, just like their co-passengers’, is tinfoil wrapping a more solid but ineffable core, tied with a ribbon of tradition, warm remembrance of childhood, mother and father and a natural reluctance to take a sharp cognitive blade to warm and fuzzy parts of the self.
The second condition for a berth is that everyone forgets who killed whom in the past. The third is the recognition that this is a particular Western ark, and its sole function is to ensure the survival and enlightened thriving of the Western peoples. The Buddhist-Taoist-Confucian longboat is another worthy vessel, and it’s not any Christian’s business to extol his over theirs. The Chinese, Japanese and Hindu peoples too have had many spiritual masters who, though blind just as their Christian counterparts are, touched the elephant as surely as any Christian has.
About Islam, the less said the better; let it suffice that it belongs in neither boat. It is a basic rule that the louder the clamor of exclusive franchising rights to God and the stiffer the penalty for disbelief, the greater the distance to God. Islam’s distance is the greatest.
England’s most famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, a critic of British schools providing religious education, says that government ministers of all three parties are not religious believers themselves but believe that belief is good for others. Meanwhile a British-via-Pakistan baroness, Sayeeda Warsi, a practicing Muslim herself and prominent Tory, decries what she calls “Europe’s aggressive secularism” and urges Europeans, in forums as diverse as Oxford and the Vatican, to be “more confident” in their Christianity. But then, of course, promoting Christian superstition within the tolerant framework of postmodern Europe creates a larger berth for Islam’s superstition as well. It’s the “Abrahamic religions” shtick that leads to sharia creep.
It might be better to excise the fallacy and fantasy from Christianity, if the prize includes the excision from the West of the fakery — and danger — of Islam. After all, when Muhammad pbuh took verbatim dictation from the Archangel Gabriel and later rode off to heaven right from where the Jews had once had their exclusive God franchise, and within sight of the site of Jesus’ resurrection, he was merely plagiarizing his PhD dissertation in theology, sort of like Martin Luther King Jr. 13 centuries later but with more woeful consequences for the original authors.
The glow of Jesus has come to us distorted by the distance light has to traverse over 2000 years to reach the here and now, bounced along the way off such cracked mirrors, bent copper pans and dented silver chalices that the Gospel writers and Church leaders have been, and all men are. It’s miraculous that unknown outside a little sliver of a remote, benighted province at its inception, and multiplexed with great noise as it has been since, the transmission has reached us at all. Admitting that we don’t know where the noise ends and the transcendent music begins could rebuild a stout foundation for a new Christian spirituality. “There lives more faith in an honest doubt,“ wrote one of the great 10-percenters of the 19th century, Alfred Tennyson, “than in half the creeds.”
If admission of errors in doctrine and action is made openly, a stronger case for the merits of Christianity can be made as well. Moreover, such errors and resulting offenses are evident in the history of all the Abrahamic religions, and though mostly ended for the Jews when their theocratic nationhood ended shortly after Jesus’ ministry, it continues in Islam, stronger every day. Similarly, though the litany of whitey’s crimes is now recited by 8-year-olds in every school between Berlin and Auckland, Whites under African or Muslim rule, whether as slaves or just minority prey, have suffered more than Africans or Muslims have suffered under White rule. Had Africa invaded Europe in the 18th-19th centuries rather than Europe Africa, neither this computer nor this writer could have existed.
Second, such valuable Greek and Roman elements as are integrated in Western civilization — above all the Greek curiosity about the workings of the universe and veneration of beauty — became so through the work of many brilliant clerics, of which Pope Sylvester II (950—1003) was not the first, and Abbot Gregor Mendel (1822—1884) was not the last. As to the great gathering of beauty in Christianity, unique among all religions, one need only spend an hour in a medieval cathedral or in a museum of Renaissance painting, or listen to sacred music by composers ranging from Palestrina (1525 - 1594) to Lauridsen (1943- ).
The other great merit of Christianity is that it transplanted to Europe, and from Europe to America and the rest of the world, the Hebrew Bible’s ideas of the autonomy of the individual that’s subject to God alone. From this came the rejection of ancient practices that the Jews first rejected: human sacrifice and slavery. From this too came the concept of Natural Law and Jefferson’s immortal words about men created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, the legitimacy of Governments based solely on the consent of the governed. Which brings us finally to the Founding Fathers and their Nature’s God.
(The concluding chapter of this multipart essay will appear next month.)
|1.||Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776, reproduced in Edward Gibbon, The Christians and the Fall of Rome, Penguin Books, 2004.|
|2.||How many of us have read Luther, let alone in German as he ought to be read? I haven’t. It’s impossible to be an expert in all the disciplines one is trying to harness in a panoramic view of the affairs of man. For the reader interested in ascertaining the veracity of the ubiquitous Luther quotes on rationality, they are referenced in multiple secondary sources per “Martin Luther, Works, Erlangen Edition volume 16, pp. 142-148.” Other quotes of similar nature, including in the original German, appear in the Web-accessible facsimile of History of the Christian Church, volume 6, Philip Schaff [professor of Church History, Union Theological Seminary], C. Scribner’s, New York, 1888.|
|3.||Randel McCraw Helms, The Bible Against Itself, Millennium Press, 2006, pp 33 -39.|
|4.||It’s not enough to posit that a reasonable inference “may be made.” An atheist would challenge that immediately. However, a written work must have boundaries of space, and therefore topic. Judging that the typical reader of this will be a Westerner at least friendly to Christianity, I had to leave out most of the argument that might be directed at the unfriendly ones.|
|5.||The irony is that Jesus probably did speak those lines, and all the eye-of-the needle things and the parables. It comes across from deep reading and reflection by a layman such as this writer, but has been confirmed many times by brains of genius (e.g. Jefferson) or deep studies of learned scholars (e.g. Ehrman, ibid.). But that was the message that the yang-ravaged Jews of 1st century Judea, preparing for the imminent end of the world, needed to hear. We, 21 centuries later, are ravaged by yin.|
|6.||Population estimates for 1st century Judea and Egypt are by the distinguished 19th century German historians Theodor Mommsen (also classicist, archeologist, Nobel Prize) and Adolf von Harnack (also a Protestant theologian who argued some of the ideas about the Gospels relayed in this essay).|
|7.||The overreach in this statement is intentional. The Virgin Mary, by the way, in addition to having been Rabbi Yeshua’s mother, is the Christian version of the ancient Slavic goddess Marena, and of the Far Eastern bodhisattva (saint, enlightened being) of compassion Kannon (Japan) - Guanyin (China).|
|8.||To make a point, I often say to by-the-book Christian fanatics (I avoid Muslims or Jews of that ilk) that if one accounts for the cultural differences and removes the outer wrap of theoretical dogma, the truest Christians now alive are the Jains. Another statement that does not endear me to God’s self-appointed franchisees is that there is more of God in my cat than in any book of theology.|
|9.||There are legions of well-meaning academic fools eager to enlighten us about the wonderful unity of the Abrahamic religions that portends The Brotherhood of Man and World Peace. A recent offering is Jesus and Muhammad: Parallel Tracks, Parallel Lives by New York University professor F. E. Peters. But in a recent case, an American judge and Muslim convert, Mark Martin, dismissed an assault case against a Muslim who had attacked an atheist, on the ground that sharia obligation of the former— to assault those who insult the prophet Mohammed — overrode the American Constitution’s free speech right of the victim.|
Takuan Seiyo is a European-born American writer living in exile in Japan.