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Don't tell me this thread is dying already!?  :blink:  (Kidding).

 

Seriously though, somebody toss out a thought. Rant. Don't rant. I don't care. It's a whatever-goes thread.

 

Okay, you asked for it!

 

THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY

 

In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, the writer (Paul?) says that “the mystery of iniquity is already at work….” And he might have added—“and has been since the beginning of history, and will be until the end of the world.”

 

In BILLY BUDD, Melville paints a psychograph of the Master-at-Arms Claggart:

 

“In a list of definitions included in the authentic translation of Plato, a list attributed to him, occurs this: "Natural Depravity: a depravity according to nature." A definition which tho' savoring of Calvinism , by no means involves Calvin's dogmas as to total mankind. Evidently its intent makes it applicable but to individuals. Not many are the examples of this depravity which the gallows and jail supply. At any rate for notable instances, since these have no vulgar alloy of the brute in them, but invariably are dominated by intellectuality, one must go elsewhere. Civilization, especially if of the austerer sort, is auspicious to it. It folds itself in the mantle of respectability. It has its certain negative virtues serving as silent auxiliaries. It never allows wine to get within its guard. It is not going too far to say that it is without vices or small sins. There is a phenomenal pride in it that excludes them from anything mercenary or avaricious. In short the depravity here meant partakes nothing of the sordid or sensual. It is serious, but free from acerbity. Though no flatterer of mankind it never speaks ill of it.

 

“But the thing which in eminent instances signalizes so exceptional a nature is this: though the man's even temper and discreet bearing would seem to intimate a mind peculiarly subject to the law of reason, not the less in his heart he would seem to riot in complete exemption from that law, having apparently little to do with reason further than to employ it as an ambidexter implement for effecting the irrational. That is to say: Toward the accomplishment of an aim which in wantonness of malignity would seem to partake of the insane, he will direct a cool judgement sagacious and sound.

 

“These men are true madmen, and of the most dangerous sort, for their lunacy is not continuous but occasional, evoked by some special object; it is probably secretive, which is as much to say it is self-contained, so that when moreover, most active, it is to the average mind not distinguishable from sanity, and for the reason above suggested that whatever its aims may be--and the aim is never declared--the method and the outward proceeding are always perfectly rational.

 

“Now something such an one was Claggart, in whom was the mania of an evil nature, not engendered by vicious training or corrupting books or licentious living, but born with him and innate, in short ‘a depravity according to nature.’”

 

Luther says that Original Sin is

 

“That original sin (in human nature) is not only this entire absence of all good in spiritual, divine things, but that, instead of the lost image of God in man, it is at the same time also a deep, wicked, horrible, fathomless, inscrutable, and unspeakable corruption of the entire nature and all its powers, especially of the highest, principal powers of the soul in the understanding, heart, and will, so that now, since the Fall, man inherits an inborn wicked disposition and inward impurity of heart, evil lust and propensity….”

 

Writers like Paul, Augustine, Luther, and even Melville, will have nothing to do with Keats’ notion of “the holiness of the heart’s affections.” Rather, they see the heart as a boiling cauldron of egotism and lust.

 

As Melville’s says, what he is describing in a man like Claggart is not the doctrine of Total Depravity found in Calvinism, but something else, something found only in some men, and not in the whole human race. Thus, it is unlike Original Sin. It is more like what Edwin Arlington Robinson calls “a small Satanic kink” in the mind, maybe what we today would call a psychopath.

 

The serial killer Ted Bundy seems to fit most of Melville’s criteria:

 

“These men are true madmen, and of the most dangerous sort, for their lunacy is not continuous but occasional, evoked by some special object; it is probably secretive, which is as much to say it is self-contained, so that when moreover, most active, it is to the average mind not distinguishable from sanity, and for the reason above suggested that whatever its aims may be--and the aim is never declared--the method and the outward proceeding are always perfectly rational.

 

“Now something such an one was Claggart, in whom was the mania of an evil nature, not engendered by vicious training or corrupting books or licentious living, but born with him and innate, in short ‘a depravity according to nature.’”

 

Just substitute “Bundy” for Claggart. Melville’s says “not engendered by vicious training.” Bundy tells us his upbringing was normal, in a loving Christian family. So one of the usual suspects--being from a broken, violent home--is eliminated. And Melville says that “their lunacy is not continuous but occasional.” Bundy tells his interviewer James Dobson:

 

“Ted: Even all these years later, it is difficult to talk about. Reliving it through talking about it is difficult to say the least, but I want you to understand what happened. It was like coming out of some horrible trance or dream. I can only liken it to (and I don’t want to overdramatize it) being possessed by something so awful and alien, and the next morning waking up and remembering what happened and realizing that in the eyes of the law, and certainly in the eyes of God, you’re responsible. To wake up in the morning and realize what I had done with a clear mind, with all my essential moral and ethical feelings intact, absolutely horrified me.

 

JCD: You hadn’t known you were capable of that before?

 

Ted: There is no way to describe the brutal urge to do that, and once it has been satisfied, or spent, and that energy level recedes, I became myself again. Basically, I was a normal person.”

_____

 

I believe that the pedophile priests had much the same experience. I mean, they didn’t plan on being that way. In fact, many, if not most of them entered the priesthood figuring that the closeness to God and the sacraments of the Church would prevent them from acting out their desires. Sadly in too many cases, this did not prove to be the case.

 

The fate of such priests and ministers of the Gospel is tragic, not only for their victims, but also for the perpetrators themselves. Using their free will, they acted with the best of intentions, taking actions that they supposed would enable them to control their vicious tendencies. And they were willing to devote their lives to this quest for control. But it does seem that there was something stronger than their will at work. This is what we call ‘the mystery of iniquity.”

 

They do seem tailor made for Calvin’s theology—predestined to sin. But they’re really more like Melville’s—that is, the behavior of people like Bundy and pedophiles is that of only a minority of human beings. Most of us are far from perfect, but tend to remain on a pretty even keel, at least not falling into such heinous sins as murder, rape, or corrupting the young.

 

What are we in the hands of the great God?

It was in vain you set up thorn and briar

In battle array against the fire

And treason crackling in your blood;

For the wild thorns grow tame

And will do nothing to oppose the flame;

Your lacerations tell the losing game

You play against a sickness past your cure.

How will the hands be strong? How will the heart endure?

(from Robert Lowell’s “Mr Edwards and the Spider”)

 

This is already too long, so I’ll subside now—except for one last thought from James Lee Burke, in the Dave Robicheaux novels, “Psychopathic behavior is not a psychological problem, but a theological one.”

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Well Aletheia , "You know its hard out here for a progressive Christian..... "

 

A clergywomen told me about a male member of her congregation . He had told her once that even though he loved his Lord and saviour, he was mad at Jesus. He couldn't understand why Jesus never wrote anything . Why he didn't tell people how he wanted his church set up , how it was supposed to be organized, what command structure was it supposed to have etc. He then asked her, if he was bad, for having those feelings. She assured him that he was entitled to his feelings and questions and that Jesus did not love him any less.

 

I assume that Jesus could write. The Gospels record him reading from the scriptures in the temple, so I don't think he was illiterate . Yet , he chose not to write his teachings down in his own hand. Even an obscure person like Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching)wrote something down , but we have to receive Jesus' teachings second hand as it were.

 

MOW

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Great post John.

 

I had never heard that Bundy quote before. He killed my sister's best friend here in Utah. :( I've always had a particular loathing for him.

 

Total depravity is a doctrine that blows my mind. I find myself getting angry at men like Calvin and Luther, long dead. I'm able to "own" (that's not quite the right word) the doctrine of 'original sin' from something like the Eastern Orthodox perspective (which I never knew was so different from most interpretations).

 

Evil like what is found in certain humans bothers me, and muddles my brain. If, as your post pointed out, such persons were psychotic all the time, we could chalk their behavior up to brain damage of some sort. But more often than not, they are not insane and often have very high IQ's.

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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Even an obscure person like Lao Tzu  (Tao Te Ching)wrote something down , but we have to receive Jesus' teachings second hand as it were.

 

Hi MOW.

 

I've wondered the same thing from time to time. A couple of months ago I was reading something, not sure what now, when it dawned on me that it's better that Jesus didn't write anything. It sounds absurd now, as I write this, but it seemed so clear at the time.

 

I do believe that an epistemological distance between us and God is necessary. I think free will is that important. Perhaps Jesus' not writing anything directly plays into that?

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Even an obscure person like Lao Tzu  (Tao Te Ching)wrote something down , but we have to receive Jesus' teachings second hand as it were.

 

Hi MOW.

 

I've wondered the same thing from time to time. A couple of months ago I was reading something, not sure what now, when it dawned on me that it's better that Jesus didn't write anything. It sounds absurd now, as I write this, but it seemed so clear at the time.

 

I do believe that an epistemological distance between us and God is necessary. I think free will is that important. Perhaps Jesus' not writing anything directly plays into that?

 

Albert Schweitzer holds that Jesus thought the end was near. If so, this may be why he didnt' write anything.

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What makes anyone believe that Jesus DIDN'T write anything down. Just because mopes like us (the opinion of the elite?) don't know of such materials doesn't mean that such things do not exist.

 

There's lot's of stuff out there that has been found, IMO, that will never-ever see the light of day, let alone be openly shared because that is too threatening to the status quo. Stability you know. In the course of my twenty or so years of research I've run across lots of sly references to hidden sources that are known about, but are not available to scholars, let alone the general public.

 

In his revolutionary book, Jesus the Magician, Morton Smith expands our knowledge regarding the Book of Mark , and suggests a high likelihood that fully two thirds of the original book are not available today. The Dead Sea Scrolls took decades to be fully revealed because of the fears regarding what they might contain. As I've mentioned before, there are numerous hints that the CIA was involved in the original handling of some of the scrolls, and lord knows what that was about.

 

I might also remind you all that our government was heavily into the development of mind control techniques in the 50's. This work all went behind the black curtain in the 60's, and if these technologies are being actively used today, we wouldn't know it, we'd only be forced to live with the results of their use.

 

The clandestine intelligence budget is in the neighborhood of $45 billion a year. That can pay for lots of clandestine stuff, and IMO, especially when one considers information falling out of the sky concerning clandestine monitoring of citizen's communications and extreme rendition and torture practices, there's lots of smoke and probably plenty of fire.

 

I am not, by nature, a paranoid or dark side personality. However, I know enough about all this and have found enough information concerning such matters to deeply believe in the truth of it all.

 

Conspiracies do exist. They are what have driven western civilization since the days of the Egyptians and Sumerians. The bible begins the tale of humanity with a consipracy story in which the first two humans plot against G-d to have their way in the world in which they have been placed.

 

C'mon people. Wake up and smell the apples! Smell the swamp! Look at the forest!

 

Gotta stop now and go out and buy some aluminum foil so I can reline my baseball caps.

 

flow.... B)

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- Just because mopes like us ... don't know of such materials

 

- stuff out there that has been found, IMO, that will never-ever see the light of day

 

- that is too threatening to the status quo

 

- decades to be fully revealed because of the fears regarding what they might contain

 

- CIA was involved in the original handling of some of the scrolls

 

- mind control techniques

 

- we wouldn't know it, we'd only be forced to live with the results

 

- clandestine intelligence budget

 

- clandestine stuff

 

- clandestine monitoring

 

- Conspiracies do exist

 

- I am not, by nature, a paranoid ... personality

 

 

 

Quiz: Which of the above statements is not like the others?

 

 

 

How's did the tinfoil shopping expedition go flow? Followed much? Monitored much? :P;)

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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Hmmmm... Gee AR...how digital of you to take things out of context and make a list. I thought that you understood that I only post things that I believe to be at least probable, based upon my research and experiences, which have been stranger than you could probably imagine. Many of these experiences took place in a renowned institution of higher education, among learned researchers.

 

It has all caused me to compare our world with that detailed in Orwell's 1984, and for me it has been close to that since 1984. By the way, Orwell's real name was Eric Alan Blair. Hmmmm...could all the Blairs that negatively affected my history also be a coincidence ?

 

But things have gotten much better. I don't look back in anger very much any more. It's so non-productive. I tend to ignore much of the obvious these days, even when things are thrust into my pathway in an intentional manner so that they are very hard to ignore.

 

The shopping went well. A few years ago things improved so much that I could switch from heavy duty foil to regular. Heh, heh, heh !

 

flow.... :D;)

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Hi Flow

I kind of see your point that maybe Jesus wrote something and it could have been suppressed. I could have said that as far as we know Jesus wrote nothing. However it is equally possible that Jesus just didn't trust the written word that much.

 

One of Jesus' " hard sayings" was something like " you've heard it said you shall not kill, you shall not commit adultry. But I say if you look on a woman with lust you've commited adultry with her in your heart, and if you say "you fool" you 're destined for the hell fire." (I'm paraphrasing here since these words are pretty well known).

 

These words usually anger liberals more than conservatives( although they can't keep these impossible moral codes either). Zen writer K Leong says that both sides miss the point. He believes that Jesus was deliberately being ridiculous and absurd in setting up these impossible moral codes, to show that enlightenment does not come from following codes. Humanity can usually get around rules like "do not kill" ,"do not steal". They just apply the Golden Rule of "whoever has the gold makes the rules " If a rich man steals a whole country he's just a great explorer or statesmen. If a poor man steals a belt buckle he'll be hung," says Chuang Tzu .

 

Maybe Jesus felt that truth was something that was beyond words.

 

MOW

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MOW

 

I believe that He was attempting to teach us that truth always reveals itself over time, especially since we are reflections of the natural world, and that is the way it was created and how it functions. The truth in any situation is usually not obvious, especially early on in any situation. It must reveal itself.

 

The process of inventing patentable devices or processes also follows this chain of logic. To be patentable it must be novel, have a certain utility, and must be NON-OBVIOUS. As you said, one path to truth is to accentuate the absurdity of something to the extent that it's true attributes become more obvious.

 

IMO, this is the great truth of the scriptures. If we read enough stories of how others coped with the toleration of illogical and immoral acts on the part of others, the truth of their actions and importance of their choices will always demonstrate themselves to be true or false in society over longer periods of time, and this is how G-d intended true histories to unfold themselves.

 

IMO one can still see all this by simply turning on the television and watching the news. But of course most of the stories there are chosen and fleshed out for us by corporate media moguls so that we reach certain conclusions that are pre-determined for us. Am I being too cynical, or simply being realistic ? All is not maya yet, but we're certainly closing in on it.

:unsure:

flow....

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C'mon AR. Y'all ( my cousins from Mississippi are visiting this week) know that it's much more fun, and usually better for your health, to pretend than to deal with what may be real. I'm just conforming to the behavior of most of our brothers and sisters in dealing with this messy and deceptive world.

 

Love and Peace,

 

flow.... :P

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Y'all ... know that it's much more fun, and usually better for your health, to pretend than to deal with what may be real.

 

Actually, in all seriousness, I'm a mildly avoidant personality type. It's something I've struggled with since I was very little. I 'avoid' in order to not have to deal with certain feelings. I can't even watch the local news because it causes massive anxiety attacks.

 

Thing is, I don't pretend that things are different than they are in order to deal with what may be real. I just don't deal with them at all.

 

Whew. Confession truly is good for the soul.

 

:huh:

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Ahhh yes AR. Avoidance and evasion, the guideposts of the 21st century being.

 

But then this is the essence of non-violent protest as taught to us by King, Ghandi, et al. You do not confront the really bad stuff until it's time. Kind of reminds me of an old Orson Wells wine commercial. The bad stuff ALWAYS wants to confront you to elicit an ill considered reaction, but one must not play its game. It must be forced to play your game. But then, I've always believed that life is not a game but a great story written by the author of history that unfolds itself to our understandings in the fullness of time..

 

Actually I've done a large amount of avoidance and evasion myself in ways I never imagined possible when young. I believe that it all stems from a sensitivity that one develops to an environment (physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural) that constantly seeks to judge one's behavior and mete out unjust punishments whether they are deserved or not. I would refer you to my and fatherman's observations regarding the "indigo children". Could be that Jesus was the first and will be the last.

 

Whether or not certain people really are different from what has come before, I believe that we can all agree that this is all happening everyday before our eyes for some great reason.

 

I believe that this is a degree of what we all are experiencing these days. We've both got a lot of company it seems. But I can tell from how you think and what you say that underneath it all, you are a brilliant and worthwhile person. Maybe it won't get better, but hang in there anyway. It's the only choice we have as long as we're walking around and breathing. And I would continue to not watch the news too much, since it's likely part of the game and not the story IMO.

 

flow.... :)

Edited by flowperson
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A couple of months ago ,there was an article in Alternet exploring the relationship between the "suburbanization" of America , and the growth of the conservative megachurches. It was not only the suburbs that the article talked about but the even further removed "exurbs", which I guess are suburbs of the suburbs.

 

Being an urban dweller myself ,I don't know much about suburban mindsets. I

don't like generalizations , but I was wondering if there is a connection.

After all The Rapture would be the ultimate suburb . I'm sure some of you live in the suburbs. Any thoughts on this?

 

 

MOW

Edited by MOW
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Your post made me think of the charge that some Christians make against other Christians about "cherry picking" bible verses. (I'm not saying that you are doing that.)

 

In actuality the entire bible is cherry picked. It's made up of a bunch of little books, which in turn are made up of a bunch of smaller stories, written by different people, that don't always agree with each other. (That's why your post made me think of this.) In addition, the books that currently make up the bible were picked out of numerous books to make up the canon. And the Luther took a few out, to cherry pick the protestant bible. Wow. That's a lot of cherry picking.  :D

 

I am outside the norm in that I don't mind it, the contradictions. I try to look at the "big picture," but I also am willing to take each verse as it stands on it's own.

Actually, the biblical writers and those who assembled the Hebrew and Christian canons weren't hung up over contradictions either. Otherwise, why would there be two creation stories back to back in Genesis that are quite different. Kings and Chronicles covers much the same period of Israel and Judah, yet are quite clearly very different in their points of view: one pro-royal and the other anti-royal in sentiment.

 

Also there are a number of variant details in the Gospels--even regarding Easter morning--which, one would think, the editors would want to be in full agreement to the point that they would edit out the contradictions...that is, if avoiding contradictions mattered. There are even some places in the Gospels where a careful reader could catch Jesus himself misquoting scripture! Were they bothered? Apparently not. Should we be? Hell, no! :)

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I sometimes wonder if the differences were intended to be corrections. Did the writers of Matthew or Luke write the story differently because they had the one in hand and thought that it was wrong so they wanted to correct it and wrote it the way they saw it.

 

or

 

Are the versions simply theological in nature and the differences are there because they are intended to reflect the theology of the writer.

 

Or maybe both?

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