Thoughts on modern religion

I was thinking about Japan, which from all of the accounts I have heard is a pleasant country that has entered the modern age without losing too much of its traditional charm. How does a country manage that?

Quoting WGD’s interview in Parallax Optics:

If I had to pin down a definition for iconoclasm that works, it is rapid, intentional, intergenerational change. That is, it is any intentional change that creates a discontinuity between a father and his sons. Progressivism is a cult of iconoclasm. We have had more unintentional change in the last two centuries than at any other point in human history, and progressivism has ridden that change into social disintegration, which has allowed will to power to overwhelm social restraint. To clarify, iconoclasm is a natural instinct, and is a useful tool in the right context. Divorced from its appropriate context, iconoclasm is a spiritual cancer.

I think the solution is having a countervailing cultural sense that opposes unnecessary changes–that is, a sense that some things are sacred.

If we start from pure animism and progress to today, we have an infinite supply of divine loci reducing down to one (or none). Each successive bout of iconoclasm was a valid coup, whereby the new, less idolatrous elite replaced the previous elite within the same ingroup. … What makes today special is that the postmodern sociopathic status maximiser has no ancient and powerful elite iconography to push off of and looks for anything that resembles divinity.

The difficulty, if you’re an American, is that so much of our “culture” is now created by corporations (were the favorite stories of your childhood the ones your parents made up for you, or did they come from Disney?) that it’s hard to find anything worth declaring sacred.

Within this context, the traditional American religion (Protestantism) has been lost. Church membership is plummeting across the board. Meanwhile, Progressivism has stepped into Protestantism’s shoes, replacing the original sin of fructal disobedience with the original sin of slavery and racism. An like all new religions, Progressivism can no longer stand the icons of its predecessor.

220px-18891109_arsenic_complexion_wafers_-_helena_independentTo be clear, even people who call themselves “Protestant” are, today, mostly Progressives. Progressivism grew out of Protestantism, yes, but its memetic immune system no longer recognizes itself as such, hence its attack on its own ancestral religion.

Just as advertisers will try to convince you that you have a problem you had never noticed before in order to sell the cure, for religions to spread, they also have to convince you that they have the cure to the problem you didn’t realize you had. (By contrast, already established religions only have to convince you to stick around and have children–which wasn’t all that difficult before the invention of birth control.) We are currently in what amounts to a religious frenzy which demands that we interpret even the most mundane events as evidence of man’s continued sinfulness, eg:

One of my kids thinks pasta is disgusting, and she expects her students to be okay with bat soup? This isn’t racism; this is a normal human reaction to unfamiliar foods–and she’s crying over it. God forbid she should ever have a disabled or autistic student with actual food restrictions.

What I’m for is formalising our faith into a more enduring religion. So many people have been so far below replacement for so long that they really do see the end of the world looming (their genes ain’t carrying on into the future), but for the rest of us, we need things to pass to our children – and more importantly their children – and connect them to what came before.

A lot of our problems probably stem from being in this historically unusual state of so many people having so few relatives around.

Underneath this is the level of machine language, completely inaccessible to normal humans, and largely inaccessible to even the most motivated. Humans generally do not belong on this level. Nobody really understands the Matrix as the Matix, but some (like Yarvin, imo) can understand it with some focus. Those who are able to comprehend reality on this level find it difficult, if not impossible to persuade others who cannot see what they see.

This is of course both the “red pill” and Plato’s allegory of the cave.

It is really distressing to look into reality and feel like suddenly you see all of the parts underneath, the things casting the shadows, and to yell at everyone that “hey, look, that’s not a dog, that’s a guy making his hands look like a dog!” and have most people just look at you like you’re crazy. Or to give a real life example, I see people arguing over this or that Democratic candidate’s policies as though they mattered when really, most voters will just vote for whomever gets the nomination, and the nomination will most likely go to whomever seems most establishment. All of this worrying over policies is meaningless drama.

That’s why I’ve got 1,000+ posts on this blog, after all: trying to explain my thoughts so I can communicate with others.

I’d still like to know WGD’s personal mechanism for decrypting the Real, even if necessity forces it to be framed in language that doesn’t sound sane.


11 thoughts on “Thoughts on modern religion

  1. >I’d still like to know WGD’s personal mechanism for decrypting the Real, even if necessity forces it to be framed in language that doesn’t sound sane.

    Apology in advance for a stream of consciousness reaction…
    Trying to summarize…
    1. Decryption is a group process and a generational process
    2. At some point (or at various points in your life) you choose a group – even if by default
    3. Your innate consciousness and unconscious memory are hard at work decrypting and are adequate to the task. You only need to relax and trust the intersection of ‘What my grandmother/Grandfather always told me’ and gut instinct.
    4. Final note on language that sounds insane.

    I think that it is far less important to *decrypt* the real than it is to act out the ritual of being a part of the community of those in the know; Those who are actively engaged in decryption. Human beings are herd animals, exist in a school, in a murmuration of beings, and need to have a physical, bodily sense of which direction the entire school is moving in.**

    **even if it is our role to swim in the opposite direction – we still need to feel the flow

    For a group of people having a priesthood that is dangerously mistaken regarding the natural of the Real might (or might not) be disastrous. See for instance various bible stories, Unitarians, Heavan’s Gate cult…

    On the other hand, for individuals, simply having a place in the herd, knowing how to act in that space, and acting out the rituals that reinforce that placement tends to have observable positive effects on health and well being.

    The problem with decrypting the real in any sort of scientific sense, and for any of the questions that people argue about endlessly, is that it requires multiple human generations to run the experiments. So you can sort of do what the Buddhists do and try to restrict your inquiry to the area that you can actually observe, or you can sort of shrug and say this is what worked for my parents and for my parents’ parents….

    Guy Finley has some interesting commentary on how adequate our ordinary senses and our ordinary experience is for dealing with nearly all the situations we encounter; our problems come from ignoring what we decrypt in the hope that things are not as they appear or that some deus ex machina or lottery ticket will save us. He insists that it is not that complicated. Just stop caviling and do what you know you need to do.

    The simple rules, focus on things I can actually accomplish today (Give us our daily bread). Work toward rewards that are far in the future rather than doing whatever pleases you in the moment…Basically all of the copy book headings… By the time we are old enough to have kids of our own we have enough life experience to broadly confirm that these things COULD be plausible. But part of being mortal is living at just one moment in time, and not being able to see both the beginning and the end of the experiment. So we are never really going to decrypt reality outside of a video game or “Edge of Tomorrow” or “Groundhog’s Day” movie.

    My understanding of WGD’s approach and the Catholic approach in general is to start with stories told by people who claim to represent generations and generations of experimental results; The Catholic church has a line of teaching that goes back to Paul, and to the Son of Man as he referred to himself, and hence back through David and Moses and to the original Son of Man himself, ie Adam aka ‘The Man’ back when he was ‘The Man’ because there was only one of him. So you start with the age old stories and wisdom, and you compare it to your own experience on at least a weekly basis. That is what Sabbath is for, really. Then you repeat. Just the same as Science, we have faith in the *process* and participating in the process is what makes us a scientist in one case, or a human being in the other (as opposed to a whale or an ape. But even they preserve things that work across generations.)

    If I understand him correctly (I haven’t read the book yet,) Bronze Age Pervert argues that any choice of religion or politics is essentially an aesthetic choice. Either you focus on and elevate the beautiful which is the traditionally sacred, or you elevate the ugly and which is the traditional profane.

    WGD talks about elevating the process of tearing down the sacred as an icon in itself, ie nihilism. While I do occasionally read or hear people proclaiming that they are dedicated to this, the logical conclusion is suicide. Most of them appear to be either lying to sell books or lectures or not long for this world and headed to an overdose or fall from a great height. These days I often recall the quote attributed to some Roman emperor (Ceaser?) when accosted on the road by a slave who demands “Please kill me!” The Emperor asks “So you are alive now?”

    The existentialists are correct in the sense that there are things that we cannot decrypt. They are wrong that we cannot live… as Jordan Peterson puts it.. live as if these things are true and exist. You can go to church, you can talk about it and tell stories. You can act out the old stories in the liturgy.

    I still struggle with listening to religious people talk sometimes. For instance: A person in my congregation talks about their experience being in a car crash and how miraculous it was that they survived a collision, a very sudden deceleration, a crushed vehicle, airbags etc. Only divine intervention, the hand of God himself could have saved them from such threatening circumstances. Praise God. Amen. — For myself, it is miraculous that a human being can climb into a machine, travel at 65 miles per hour in climate controlled comfort, steer around obstacles and not just go like an artillery shell on a fixed path, collide with a massive truck, veer across a road intersection and collide with a tree and an airbag, fly in a helicopter to a trauma center or even just ride in an ambulance with someone you have never met who comes along with the jaws of life and scoops you up and takes you to a hospital where other strangers care for you and nurse you back to health…. As an engineer, as someone who has studied Newton and Leibowitz’s calculus… I mean why should the area problem be the inverse of the rate problem and why should someone notice this and unlock a vast understanding of how to create motor vehicles and helicopters and figure out what interest rates to charge for a municipal bond to buy an new ambulance…. — So I have to remind myself that the miracles are very real, and the fact that it is not all magic and beyond understanding is the greatest miracle of all. So I really believe the same things as other people in my congregation. I feel the tremendous gratitude for life, and I fell the suffering as well. And I think of or explain the mechanisms by which God works using a different language than most people; because I am trained as a scientist and and engineer I like the language of science. But I am talking about the same things.

    And that is one of the greatest distinctions made by the Jews (and later Christians) of all; that there is nothing occult, nothing in the physical world that we cannot understand with study. But humans have free will, so even God will never figure them out.

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  2. I have the deep suspicion that we all are leaving a very long cultural way of life, it is going away completely. but the New way of life has yet to appear, except perhaps in a kind of vague foreshadowing. thus we all are now in a void between two completely different ways of life. the Old is indeed going away.
    the New? probably most of us might today be appalled if we knew what this new way of life is! be utterly different from the old. the “old” has been with us nearly from the beginning of mankind. the new might be seen by the few “religionists” still around , to be Satan driven! vinegar versus baking soda, both *cannot* co-exist in the same time and 3D space!
    would this new way really be of the “liberal left’s Dreams” of what we all should be like? like no sex identity, each of us can sex either gender and we all wear Clothes, not men or womens? pur socialism?
    but suppose even these Liberals, with their beliefs, are still within that matrix of the old way of life: they are only in “reaction mode” against it. the new way to come might have nothing to do with Liberal left social ideas whatsoever!
    at 78 years of life, I might not live long enough to see what is coming.

    the end of the world all right! the *entire* matrix of the 10,000+ years of human social, religious, political, and personal Identity concepts, might be what is ending!


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    • >I have the deep suspicion that we all are leaving a very long cultural way of life
      >the end of the world all right! the *entire* matrix of the 10,000+ years of human social, religious, political, and personal Identity concepts, might be what is ending!

      You well be right freestonew. But the more I read of history the more I see what you call ‘ the “liberal left’s Dreams” ‘ as very old heresies, ideas that have come, failed to bear fruit and been condemned, near forgotten, and discovered again. The pre Christian West I am told tended to see history as cyclic, as does the East. Christianity and rapid engineering expertise has led the west to see history as leading to progress, to a story that has an alpha and an omega, a beginning and an end. I don’t expect any of us alive today to see the end of history; Christ was speaking on a higher level of understanding the world when he said that the kingdom of God is nigh.

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    • I think, pretty much every day, about what the world must have looked like and seemed like to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. What would they have made of this hill or that little scoop of a valley; would they have liked this tree? Sunset makes me think of families gathered around warm fires and the appeal of sleep in a world without lightbulbs, and what it was like when someone got separated from his tribe and had to sleep alone.

      Our lives are so different.


  3. >The difficulty, if you’re an American, is that so much of our “culture” is now created by corporations (were the favorite stories of your childhood the ones your parents made up for you, or did they come from Disney?) that it’s hard to find anything worth declaring sacred.

    It is not a uniquely American difficulty so much as it is a uniquely American insecurity. Americans see themselves as consciously new and self-wrought. Truth is, everything comes from so shabby an origin. The Michelin guide was made to sell tires. The norms of the sacred Ivory Tower were a compromise between clergy, clerisy, and student for entirely mundane and petty reasons. The Taj Mahal is just for some dude’s wife.

    Why can’t Fenway Park and strange Jewish meat cylinders and Lion King and immaculate lawns be sacred? They basically are. They dominate our minds. We make sacrifice to them. Let no man blaspheme against apple pie and Betty Crocker.

    >Or to give a real life example, I see people arguing over this or that Democratic candidate’s policies as though they mattered when really, most voters will just vote for whomever gets the nomination, and the nomination will most likely go to whomever seems most establishment. All of this worrying over policies is meaningless drama.

    Ever since the early 20th century, more people go to college than ever before, so more people are indoctrinated into thinking they’re elites and their voice matters. The harsh truth is that it doesn’t. My voice does because my family’s voice mattered centuries and centuries ago, the end, tough titties. The modern situation is akin to someone that didn’t get invited to a house party finding out and showing up, and the hosts being too timid to show them the door. America has a narrative of being classless and free, ruled by the people, and pointing out that it isn’t does not make for good copy.


  4. I struggle with this a lot, as someone raised more or less cosmopolitan, in what you might call an inter-cultural (though not interracial) marriage, with small children. We neither of us have a church or faith, and no good source of these institutional tradition; our parents have tightly knit groups of friends, but we don’t even have that.

    I want to give my kids that community, that foundation which a religious community gives but I’m also not ready to pay the price: I can’t see myself joining a church, for example, because I feel no faith and don’t think I could attend services in good conscience, not having even been raised in any faith tradition. I don’t know the way forward.


    • Hi Jenny, I think vast numbers of people in America struggle with exactly what you describe, and it is a very difficult place to be. I am deeply sympathetic, and it parallels my own alienation. I know some of my friends and acquaintances with kids have found – by design or by accident – that moving to a different neighborhood/school has been profoundly beneficial just because some places have activities and institutions that draw families in, be it ymcas, sports teams or robotics clubs.

      >I can’t see myself joining a church… not having even been raised in any faith tradition

      I think most churches are a lot more ordinary than the way they are pictured in the current public media and imagination – Ordinary in the sense of ordinary people struggling with ordinary stuff – childcare, marriage, dating, illness, death of loved ones and the inevitability of our own deaths. Being part of a community where everyone has struggles can be very comforting in a very plain and human way.

      >because I feel no faith and don’t think I could attend services in good conscience

      This is part of the human condition and a huge part of even the most devout saint’s experience. You are among good company here.

      I think that its best to think of faith more as an action then a feeling. If you can get yourself out of bed and get your kids dressed and out the door to school and get to work then there is some faith at work, whether you feel alive to that faith or numb to it is just where you are at the moment. (If, on the other hand, you are lying in a gutter passed out after shooting up, then there might be some real shortage of faith.)

      >in what you might call an inter-cultural … marriage
      >I don’t know the way forward.

      One of the nice parts of the inter-cultural situation is it gives you an excuse to shop a bit; you can try this group or that group and you can take the parts that appeal to you or work for your family and neglect the parts that don’t. In the old days people generally didn’t have to shop for a community, they just were in one.

      I think it is important to note that many people, maybe even the bulk of people who attend mainstream churches may not be all that devout. Many are there because they want to be part of a community that desires wholesome activities for their kids, and fellowship with other people. They let other people worry about all the religious dogma stuff and just enjoy the music and visiting with people that they grow to like and otherwise wouldn’t see and visit every week.

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  5. Yea, this was already decided in the battle of Ten Kings

    Sikhi is a rediscovery of the Vedic steppe & a reconceptualization of the Vedic sovereign.”

    Rebellion. Danga = Chaotic Violence (Riot)

    View at

    No nation could exceed them in the rapidity of their fire…No men could act more bravely than the Sikhs. They faced us the moment we came on them, firing all the time…their individual acts of bravery were the admiration of all”


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