July 12, 2019
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I'm ashamed to say I only recently got around to watching Roberto Calasso's lecture on Rene Girard at Stanford University from 2014. It's refreshing to watch him dismantle the worldviews of those delicate Ivy League sensibilities (no disrespect to the often insightful Robert Harris). The scienceers (people who think that scientists are priests and that science, just shy of sexual satisfaction, will somehow make them happy) were quite disturbed to hear him say that concern for ecology is not enough to fix our problems, nor is neuroscience the end-all-be-all in human understanding.
The west has always been secular. It held onto a soteriological strain which often visits religions the moment they reach a peak of ecclesiastical ornamentation. Christianity internalized the Jewish law from which it descended and, thus, became a new church of ecclesiastical ornamentation. Many are well acquainted with the pairing of Buddhism and secularism, for instance. Less popular is the notion that Christ's incarnation into a body which could die, rise and then leave man alone could only ever result, theologically, in secularism.
It didn't, however, simply result in people no longer believing in God and going about their merry ways.
Ashrams, western orders of initiative magic and mega-churches all increase in volume in the most soulless of densely populated American cities like Las Vegas, Las Angeles... In places where both commodities and desires are born, spiritualities offer a form of parasitism which balance both. There are simply some sins which are worth the redemption they call for; all the better when discounted at an ungodly price.
One could think of detachment, in the far eastern sense, as being a different configuration of the commandment, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.' Only the 'Me,' in this case, could be considered the ground of being, which is the metaphysical principle behind the more hypostasisized, anthropomorphized concept we often call 'God' here in the west.
“During the winter, I had to dig holes that measured one metre [three feet] wide and one metre [three feet] deep. The ground was frozen. The mud was so hard that it took two days to dig one hole. It was incredibly challenging. My upper body was sweating; My fingers and toes were frostbitten. I also worked inside a coal storage facility, breaking apart coal,” he said.
He also described his “overwhelming loneliness” and eating “2,757 meals in isolation by myself. It was difficult to see when and how the entire ordeal would end.”
“In the spring and summer, I worked outside, eight hours a day, in the scorching sun.”
Lim said “he prayed without ceasing” during the ordeal and when not being worked to death he read books on North Korea and re-read the Bible in English and Korean five times. Source
Scale was never the Libertarian Party's forté.
Technology has provided us with endless opportunities to increase our intelligence but has severed our means of turning our knowledge into wisdom.
Utopia is nothing if not the belief that future pleasure can be purchased through present suffering.
Rene Girard saw mimetic rivalry as the constant theme of man's downfall throughout history. A devout Catholic, though not necessarily a biblical literalist, he would have equated it, perhaps metaphorically, with the work of Satan. Men mirror the desires of other men and take what they have away from them to have it for themselves.
I must not forget that at certain times when my headaches were raging I had an intense longing to make another human being suffer by hitting him in exactly the same part of his forehead
Secularism is a Christian phenomenon.