The persisting evil of domination/control, the complex of “bad” ideas, and more…

New at bottom of this opening section: The impulse to domination in Christology (the transformation of common man Jesus into Lord Christ mythology- Brinsmead commentary), Martin Durkin on domination in climate class warfare, and musings from yours truly on this same issue of the base impulse to society-wrecking domination.

Why our hesitancy to purge our narratives/belief systems of the dangerous ideas that have, from the beginning of our history, incited and validated our inner inheritance of animal impulses? I give the nod to Solzhenitsyn’s point that the real battle of good against evil takes place inside every human heart, against what Campbell termed “the animal passions”. Most notably the “evil triad” of impulses to tribalism (exclusion of differing others), domination (coercive intervention to override the freedom of others, to control others), and destruction of the differing or competing other (punitive, retaliatory justice).

Our primitive ancestors, responding to the primal human impulse for meaning, manufactured ideas of deities (humanity’s highest ideal and authority) to validate the impulses and behavior that dominated their primitive existence. We excuse them for not knowing any better. But to continue affirming those same ideas/themes today is inexcusably irresponsible. And we see the same old outcomes of violence across today’s world.

The US military guy was right (during the ISIS eruption of insanity in Syria years ago) to state that you can destroy those violent groups with military force, but if you don’t go after the ideas that drive them you will only see more such eruptions of violent insanity. Hence, Hamas and Iran today.

See new material below on “Metaphysical bullshit”, apocalyptic and the challenges to the 2nd Law dominating the cosmos, and some Brinsmead “thought provokers”.

The Iranian attack on Israel brings to the fore, once again, a persistent threat to peace in our world. No, not primarily the actors involved in these “eye for eye” cycles, but the core ideas, themes, beliefs that deform human minds with tribal hatred and commitment to punitive destruction of differing others.

And this is not to deny the responsibility to take defensive action in the face of irresolvable commitment of attackers to extermination of differing others. Pacifism does not work, especially not in the face of religiously-inspired hatred that renders human minds delusionally oriented to irrational visions of apocalyptic millennialism.

Until we face head on and address the themes that continue to shape human narratives both religious and “secular/ideological”, we will not get to the root of this persisting problem of society-destroying violence. By avoiding the root contributing factors we only tinker around the edges. This is not to deny the importance of ceasefire and appeasement/settlement initiatives. They are critical in the short term, but they do not go to the root of the problem if we leave in place the very ideas that continue to deform human minds and lives, as they have across multiple millennia.

Unfortunately, many of the themes that I refer to are considered “sacred” and it is deemed “blasphemous” to confront and discredit them. So we back away fearfully and go back to tinkering with surface reformism projects that leave the root contributing factors in place.

When will we learn? As my friend Bob Brinsmead says, “We become just like the God that we believe in”. That is a message to all religious adherents, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or other (i.e. include the true believers in the “secular/ideological” versions of the same mythical complex of ideas- bad ideas given differing expression but embodying the same core themes).

Give me a day or so and I will once again put up the insightful comments of Harold Ellens, Arthur Mendel, Zenon Lotufo, and others, on the personality-deforming influence of bad religious ideas. “Bad” to distinguish from the good ideas in the religious mix, just as Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstsoy distinguished between the “diamonds/pearls” of Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s Christology.

The full complex of bad ideas/themes/beliefs involved- Notably, the “lost paradise (better past), decline toward apocalypse, demand for sacrifice/punishment, purging of “evil” threat to life, need to heroically engage a righteous war against a demonized enemy, and promise of salvation for true believers in a restored paradise or new millennial kingdom”. This complex is representative of a larger body of myths.

As repeated here often- This same complex of ideas that has descended to us from the earliest human mythmaking, now dominates crusades like climate alarmism (“a profoundly religious movement”) and generates the same old destructive outcomes as we are seeing in the anti-human, anti-civilization decarbonization crusade dominating today’s world. Historians have done the detailed research on the core ideas and the consequent patterns that unfold under the influence of such ideas.

Sources: Arthur Herman (The Idea of Decline In Western History), Richard Landes (Heaven On Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience), Arthur Mendel (Vision and Violence), Zenon Lotufo (Cruel God, Kind God), and more…

On another note: Here is some recent comment from Bob Brinsmead to a discussion group. Bob’s comments are in response to a fellow participant in the discussion group who takes a defensive stance regarding the New Testament gospel’s material that is attributed to Jesus. Bob and I take the position that very little in the gospels was actually taught by Jesus- i.e. notably the anti-sacrifice insights and related material. The rest was put in his mouth, material created by later writers that affirmed Paul’s Christ myth and blood atonement theology, the dominant theme of the rest of the New Testament.

This from Bob Brinsmead: April 14, 2024

“The issue, ___, is that all that is branded Jesus does not come from Jesus – not by a long shot! Indeed, most of the material that is written about Jesus did not come from Jesus at all. A lot of legendary material got added to the claims made about him after 70 CE and after members of the Jesus family were dead, after the apostles were dead, and after so much Jewish history and records were almost totally erased by the 70 CE event.

“This made it possible for later writers to invent and add legends and embellishments quite independent of any real history because so many of that era were not around to refute it. No one to this day can even prove what year Jesus was born and what year he died. Matthew and Luke exhibit an amazing 10-year difference re the time of his birth. The pretended “biographical” material” of his life was written not only many years later, but by non-Palestinian authors in far-away foreign lands, in another language and culture – and they did not always understand the culture, laws and even the geography of Palestine. We have not one eyewitness record of the birth, life, and death of Jesus.

“Like what happened with Moses, there are great gobs of material put into his mouth by lying priests or churchmen, or as Jefferson said, “inferior minds.” We have a very limited access to any solid information about the historical person. What he taught is more certain than who taught it, and the essence of what he taught is so simple it could be taught to another while he stood on one leg because the rest would only be commentary.

“Much of the New Testament is composed of forged documents which were supposedly written by persons who died long before they were written – six of them in the name of Paul, two in the name of Peter, two Gospels in the name of two of Jesus’ apostles, and other phoney names ascribed to other documents to give them the appearance of having apostolic authority when in fact they were written many years after the apostles were dead. Altogether these post-apostolic churchmen did to Jesus what the “lying priests” did to Moses.

“And you ask- Why then did Christians begin to worship Jesus if it was not a result of the impact of his person? It is clear now from history that the first Jesus movement which was wholly Jewish, including his own family, brother James, and later descendants called Ebionites, did not worship Jesus or claim he was a Divine man. The teaching of his divinity became a cardinal feature of the Christian religion, but this was a radical departure from the teaching of Jesus who claimed to nothing but “the son of man” (i.e., only human).

“For another example of the Christian departure from the clear teaching of Jesus, I refer to Paul’s statement that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture.” This was directly opposed to the teaching of the real Jesus who was passionately opposed to the practice of any blood sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. John the Baptist and Jesus came in that prophetic tradition of rejecting sacrifices… totally! The prophets of the Old Testament did not believe that the elaborate sacrificial system was part of the law of Moses. They said this was added by lying priests to enhance their prestige and power.

“Some of these prophets were killed by the priesthood for challenging their hegemony. That opposition to sacrifices – a diabolical institution that goes right back to a very dark pagan history that was borrowed by Israel, for a long time included human sacrifices. There were always Jews who opposed this wretched institution. There were other great thinkers outside of Israel who shared this antipathy to sacrifices – men such as Pythagoras who would not even wear a woollen garment derived from sacrificing animals. Even after the voice of the prophets was silenced, there were Jews who maintained this antipathy to sacrifices. This opposition to the temple sacrifices was widely held among the Essenes in the first Century. When the prophetic voice was revived in John the Baptist, he inaugurated a baptism in water at the Jordan for the remission of sin.

“This was a direct assault on the entire priestly institution of sacrifices at the Jerusalem temple. Jesus joined this temple protest against blood sacrifices for the remission of sin. He freely declared the forgiveness of sin without a blood sacrifice.

“Citing an OT prophet, he declared “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” Jesus’ teaching was against the whole idea that any shedding of blood was required for the remission of sin. The whole reasoning in his Sermon on the Mount was against it. And for his temple protest he was killed by the priesthood just as the OT prophets were killed by the priesthood.

“When the Hellenist followers of Jesus fled to Antioch, they began to claim that Jesus was the Christ who died as the supreme sacrifice for human sin. At first Paul opposed this teaching bitterly and then suddenly took it up (Paul never persecuted those thousands of Aramaic believers in Jerusalem, but only the Hellenists abroad). The teaching that Jesus’ death was an atoning sacrifice was in direct conflict with the teaching of Jesus. The reason why the NT Gospels skirt around the real point of what really happened when Jesus “cleansed the temple” is that they wrote under the influence of Paul’s apocalyptic interpretation of the death of Jesus. But as Patricia Williams says in “Where Christianity Went Wrong”, “it was ignorant and arrogant” for Christianity to teach this after Jesus had so explicitly opposed any need for a sacrifice.”

The long-term project for future “peace and love”-

Put this within the big picture story of humanity- the long-term trajectory of the human story, of humanity making an exodus from animal existence to learn to live as human, which has been very much about an exodus from animal-like retaliation and moving toward human existence defined by the ideal of no conditions love. Its all about the meaning/purpose thing- our primary impulse as human. Qualifier: Its never going to be utopia but an always improving trajectory toward a better future…

A notable guidepost and inspiration along the way… Wendell Krossa

“Love your enemy because God does”, Historical Jesus.

Why do we keep returning to focus on this Jesus material? Because it is the single most profound insight ever offered to humanity to solve the stubbornly persistent problems of tribal thinking, hatred of differing others, and punitive destruction of offending others (i.e. the “evil triad” that summarizes the worst impulses of our inherited animal brain). All three are dealt with in a profoundly consciousness-altering manner by a simple six-word statement that sums the message, stories, and behavior of Historical Jesus, a person entirely opposite to the Christian “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament. (A side note: The Christ myth of Paul buries the insights and message of H. Jesus. Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy stated well that the Jesus “diamonds were buried by Paul’s dung”. Their words, not mine.).

This six-word summary of the Jesus message went beyond anything ever offered previously over the history of humanity. There is no other statement anywhere in the history of human communication that gets the ethical element along with the validating ideal/idea as well as this does.

The Akkadian father of 2000 years earlier got the behavioral element right in telling his son to “Befriend your enemy”. But then he did not yet get the validating theology right when he advised “Make sacrifice to your god”. He still believed that deity was retaliatory in nature and had to be appeased with blood sacrifice. The old theology of cruel gods threatening and using violence to solve problems (i.e. justice restored through violence).

That primitive theological pathology- Gods demanding violent sacrifice- presents a deformed ideal for people to follow. People from the beginning have appealed to their views of deity as their highest ideal and authority to inspire, guide, and validate their behavior.

“Basing behavior on similar belief” (some human-created view of God) is as old as humanity. It stems from our primal impulse to meaning. We have long reasoned intuitively that if we are created for some purpose then it is natural to try to understand and explain the purpose and then fulfill it. Hence, the endless projection of our speculative explanations out to define some metaphysical creating Source.

Jesus was the first in history to get both the behavior and the validating belief right, in terms of our highest ideal of love. He stated, “Love your enemy because a non-retaliatory, unconditionally loving God does”. So be like that God (i.e. mimic your good Father, be like Daddy).

The “stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory God” (James Robinson), as presented by Jesus, transforms theology entirely as never before. His insight points to the “God beyond God” that Joseph Campbell talked about (transcendently beyond definitions, categories, words).

In all historically previous deity theories, whether in mythical or more formal religious traditions, the gods were retributive, the ultimate executors of retaliation in ultimate judgment and punishment of all human imperfection (threat theology). Jesus rejected all that in stating- “There must be no more eye for eye justice. But, instead, love your enemy because God does. How so? God gives the good gifts of life- sun and rain for crops- to both good and bad people alike. No retaliatory punishment of the bad ones. No discrimination between people. No exclusion of anyone. Only generous unconditional love to everyone, the same” (my paraphrase of his teaching).

Jesus challenged the long history of human belief and overturned the core themes of mythical and religious traditions. He presented something strikingly new and revolutionary, and profoundly upsetting to good religious, moral people who believed in retributive justice. Try to get something of what he did. It was breathtaking for its scandalous “blasphemy” and it nearly got him killed just as he was starting his public teaching career.

Note in Luke 4: 16-28, where he read a passage from Isaiah 61:1-2 about proclaiming good news, and freedom and favor from God. But then he left off the next statement about proclaiming “the day of vengeance of our God” because that was the theology that he rejected. And it thoroughly pissed off the people listening to him. In a rage they tried to throw him off a nearby cliff. His rejection of retaliatory justice offended their sense of righteousness.

This ethical/theological insight of Jesus transforms mythical and religious belief entirely. It goes to the very core of human narratives, to the single most important theme in human thought that has dominated all narratives across history- i.e. the theological ideas that are the cohering center of religious belief systems and embody humanity’s ultimate ideal and authority- deity.

The Jesus insight (his “stunning new theology”) is the singularly most liberating insight ever offered, in that it liberates from the psychopathology of threat theology that has cursed human consciousness for millennia- i.e. gods threatening punishment of human imperfection through natural world events like natural disasters, accidents, disease, and predatory cruelty. In overturning threat theology, the Jesus insight then promotes liberation from our inherited animal impulses- i.e. the drives to tribalism, domination, and punitive destruction of enemies. These inherited animal drives have long been validated by mythical/religious themes of gods as tribal deities, dominating deities, gods that execute punitive destruction of enemies as proper justice.

With the Jesus insight on non-retaliatory, unconditional deity, we overturn entirely the old validation for tribalism, domination, and punitive destruction of differing others. The life-giving root of these impulses is cut completely.

Now to set forth a larger background context for the Israel/Iran conflict, here is some summary comment on the “baddest” of the worst of bad religious ideas. I am framing the big picture with a reposting of comments from psychologist Harold Ellens and psychotherapist Zenon Lotufo regarding their material on the influence of bad religious ideas on human personality and society. My point here is that the fundamental themes of primitive mythologies have not faded from human narratives and consciousness but continue to exert influence today in the great world religions. These ideas have also been given new embodiment in so-called “secular/ideological” versions, as in Marxism, Nazism, and the climate alarmism crusade. The old narrative themes still impact our consciousness, lives, and societies, often to great harm, and even to mass-death outcomes.

Here is my more complete summary of what Ellens and Lotufo refer to as “Cruel God” ideas. My point is to outline the supporting themes of which “Cruel God” is the central idea, the cohering center. I argue that basic themes of the “lost paradise, apocalyptic, redemption” complex of myths have dominated all primitive mythologies, later religious traditions, and now still dominate human narratives considered “secular/ideological”, and even scientific.

Main features of the “lost paradise/decline to apocalypse/demand for redemption”: Wendell Krossa

(1) The widely held belief that there was an original paradise that was subsequently ruined and lost. Consequent to this myth there has been deeply felt guilt/shame across the millennia over purported human badness/sinfulness that caused the ruin of the original paradise. Based on this foundational myth, early humans constructed the related belief (2) that we are now being punished for our sins- i.e. punished via the natural world (natural disaster, disease, accident, predatory cruelty). Add also the associated belief that (3) life, following the ruin of paradise, has been declining toward an apocalyptic ending as the great end-stage punishment for having ruined paradise.

Primitive logic continued to manufacture a growing complex of myths. Early awe at the natural world led to the belief in (4) spiritual forces behind all elements of nature, eventually anthropomorphizing those forces into personal gods. Gods of wind and storm, voicing and venting rage through thunder and lightning. Gods of trees and stream, gods of animal species, even gods of rocks. Gods behind earthquakes, drought, disease, and other natural disasters.

And where the natural world erupted harmfully, ancient logic concluded that the gods were angry and punishing people for their sins. Some creative mind then suggested (5) that the angry gods could be appeased with food offerings or blood sacrifices. The life of an animal as a substitute for human life?

Hence, shamed and guilty for being “bad to the bone”, further early mythmaking re-enforced intense inner and outer social pressure to make some atoning sacrifice, especially in order to be saved from the ultimate threat to humanity, the ultimate in divine rage and threat of punishment- i.e. the divine threat of a looming apocalyptic punishment in the destruction of the entire world, a graphic form of the great early fear of “return to chaos”.

Consequent to this primitive mythmaking, we hold the deeply felt archetypal need to be forgiven, reconciled/restored, and “saved”, because we are taught to believe (based on millennia of having such ideas beat into human consciousness) that we have become separated and alienated from our Source/God, because that deity is thoroughly pissed at our imperfection (inherent “sinfulness”). We must get right again.

And then to juice acceptance of the complex there is (6) the element of hope in some promised salvation for true believers (the “saved”)- whether in a restored paradise or the installation of a millennial paradise, a heavenly kingdom.

Further to this complex, note the widely held belief in a hero’s quest. This further shapes the primitive mythical complex of “lost paradise/apocalypse/redemption”- i.e. that we must engage a righteous battle against some evil enemy/monster that threatens our world, that we must violently conquer the enemy/monster, we must punitively, even violently, purge the threat in order to “save the world”. The threat is usually defined in terms of differing others in the human family viewed and demonized as intolerable “enemies”. Once the violent purging of evil is accomplished, we can then fulfill the hope for a better future- for some utopian millennial paradise to be installed.

Further to the mix of beliefs- To fully intensify human fears of angry deity, add also the accompanying threat of after-life harm in fiery hells. The fear of death and the need to be saved from that, especially saved from the threat of after-life harm, intensifies human fear of death. After-life harm as in ultimate divine condemnation, judgment, and threat of eternal exclusion and punishment (hell). Fear of death incites the survival impulse and renders people susceptible to the most irrational salvation schemes proposed by those who alarm them. Fear is also often behind rage and violence.

Critical to overturning the above complex of bad ideas, go to the great cohering Center of all ideas, the monster Gods that validate entire complexes of mythical fallacies in human worldviews- i.e. the views of Cruel God theology- angry, threatening deities- that affirm the entire complex of myths of lost paradise, looming apocalypse, and schemes for redemption.

Further shaping the complex of inherited mythical ideas…. Zoroaster’s overarching myth of cosmic dualism (a great Good deity locked in eternal battle against an Evil entity). Cosmic dualism, as the ultimate archetypal model or ideal, intensifies the human impulse to tribalism and the belief of many people that in joining some religion (or other “just/righteous” crusade) they put themselves on the right side of a battle against a purported existential threat, some enemy that is intolerably evil, that must be eliminated in order to “save the world”. When people affiliate with what priests tell them is the “true religion”, they then view themselves as the specially chosen righteous ones on the side of the good God, fighting God’s great war against evil. Human action in varied apocalyptic millennial movements then takes on cosmic status and such people cannot be reasoned out of their irrational salvation schemes. Watch as support for the salvation scheme of decarbonization continues with ever-increasing zeal from the lead prophets of climate apocalypse.

“Monster deity” beliefs, at the core of mythical complexes of ideas, incite the similarly monstrous impulses in humanity to tribalism, domination, and punitive destruction of others. The validating beliefs work in tandem with the impulses- i.e. behaviors validated by beliefs, ethics validated by theology. And you get the outcomes of endless cycles of violence, human group set against differing human group, even to mass-death outcomes such as in the “secular” versions of such pathologies- i.e. Marxism, Nazism, and now emerging in environmentalism (i.e. decarbonization). Members of each new apocalyptic millennial crusade believing that they are the elect or chosen people of God, more special and enlightened than differing others who are caricatured and framed as unbelievers and enemies of God, the “satanic” infidels/deniers.

Hence, my insistent argument here to go to the ultimate root of the problem that you are trying to solve- what some psychologists/theologians call the “monster God” or “Cruel God” theology that energizes and validates the entire complex of related bad religious ideas.

We can understand the nature of primitive logic that has been deformed by the mythology of that ancient era, the worldview of that era. They didn’t know any better. But to continue to embrace and promote the same complex of themes today is inexcusable and irresponsible. Its just profound ignorance and denial of reality. Yet these themes still dominate world religions and many secular/ideological belief systems also.

More- The hero’s quest has long been deformed by the above distortions of primitive mythology. Wendell Krossa

The fact that bad ideas have deformed the hero’s quest is evident, notably, in people demonizing differing others as “enemies”, and the in endless retaliatory responses to differences of all kinds. We miss the true battle of life where we all face the same common shared monster and enemy at the root of many of our problems- the monster God (once again- deity as tribal, dominating, punitively destructive) that validates our monstrous inherited impulses to tribalism, domination, and punitive destruction of differing others. These impulses and the gods that we embrace to validate such impulses constitutes the monster inside us all.

Again, this is what Solzhenitsyn meant that the real battle against evil takes place inside every human heart. This is the real hero’s quest. This is where we gain insights, attain human maturity, tower in stature, and become what we are supposed to be.

Note: In defensively protecting the “lost paradise/apocalypse/redemption” themes in our own religious traditions, as the originating sources of these themes in other “secular/ideological/scientific” versions, are we then playing a role in perpetuating a psychopathology, a destructive mind virus in public consciousness?

Qualifier note:

Granted, people who hold the above complex of myths may not do so with conscious intention and full awareness that they are profoundly mythical/religious ideas. They may have received them in some other form such as Marxist ideology where they are framed as “scientific history”, or as in purported “climate science”. But be aware, whatever version of these that you hold, the core themes, or contents, are the same as the more primitive mythical/religious versions.

A reposting of Ellens and Lotufo

Psychotherapist/theologian Zenon Lotufo (quoting psychologist/theologian Harold Ellens) explains how images/beliefs, notably images of ultimate reality and ideals like deity, how such images influence human consciousness, emotion, motivation, and response/behavior in daily life. Both men affiliated with the Christian tradition. Ellens was a US Army chaplain. There is no throwing of stones from without the religion.

Quotes from Lotufo’s book “Cruel God, Kind God”:

The Introduction states that, among others, “(Lotufo) explores the interface of psychology, religion, and spirituality at the operational level of daily human experience… (this is of the) highest urgency today when religious motivation seems to be playing an increasing role, constructively and destructively, in the arena of social ethics, national politics, and world affairs…” (An insert quibble- “seems to be playing an increasing role”. Nah. Religious motivation has never faded from playing a significant role in human affairs.)

The destructive outcomes of “religious motivation” are particularly notable, in a very public manner and definitely “increased” manner, in the “profoundly religious” climate alarmism crusade and its destructive “salvation” scheme of Net Zero decarbonization (“save the world”). Note the intensifying and spreading harm from Net Zero and renewables zealotry, in societies like Germany, Britain, and California. Climate alarmism exhibits the same old themes and destructive outcomes of all past apocalyptic crusades.

Lotufo then notes “the pathological nature of mainstream orthodox theology and popular religious ideation”.

He says, “One type of religiosity is entirely built around the assumption or basic belief, and correspondent fear, that God is cruel or even sadistic… The associated metaphors to this image are ‘monarch’ and ‘judge’. Its distinctive doctrine is ‘penal satisfaction’. I call it ‘Cruel God Christianity’… Its consequences are fear, guilt, shame, and impoverished personalities. All these things are fully coherent with and dependent on a cruel and vengeful God image…

“(This image results) in the inhibition of the full development of personality… The doctrine of penal satisfaction implies an image of God as wrathful and vengeful, resulting in exposing God’s followers to guilt, shame, and resentment… These ideas permeate Western culture and inevitably influence those who live in this culture…

“Beliefs do exert much more influence over our lives than simple ideas… ideas can also, in the psychological sphere, generate ‘dynamis’, or mobilize energy… (they) may result, for instance, in fanaticism and violence, or… may also produce anxiety and inhibitions that hinder the full manifestation of the capacities of a person…

“The image of God can be seen as a basic belief or scheme, and as such it is never questioned…

“Basic cultural beliefs are so important, especially in a dominant widespread culture, because they have the same properties as individual basic beliefs, that is, they are not perceived as questionable. The reader may object that “God”, considered a basic belief in our culture, is rejected or questioned by a large number of people today. Yet the fact is that the idea of God that those people reject is almost never questioned. In other words, their critique assumes there is no alternative way of conceiving God except the one that they perceive through the lens of their culture. So, taking into account the kind of image of God that prevails in Western culture- a ‘monster God’… such rejection is understandable…

“There is in Western culture a psychological archetype, a metaphor that has to do with the image of a violent and wrathful God (see Romans, Revelation). Crystallized in Anselm’s juridical atonement theory, this image represents God sufficiently disturbed by the sinfulness of humanity that God had only two options: destroy us or substitute a sacrifice to pay for our sins. He did the latter. He killed Christ.

“Ellens goes on by stating that the crucifixion, a hugely violent act of infanticide or child sacrifice, has been disguised by Christian conservative theologians as a ‘remarkable act of grace’. Such a metaphor of an angry God, who cannot forgive unless appeased by a bloody sacrifice, has been ‘right at the center of the Master Story of the Western world for the last 2,000 years. And the unavoidable consequence for the human mind is a strong tendency to use violence’.

“’With that kind of metaphor at our center, and associated with the essential behavior of God, how could we possibly hold, in the deep structure of our unconscious motivations, any other notion of ultimate solutions to ultimate questions or crises than violence- human solutions that are equivalent to God’s kind of violence’…

“Hence, in our culture we have a powerful element that impels us to violence, a Cruel God Image… that also contributes to guilt, shame, and the impoverishment of personality…”.

As Harold Ellens says, “If your God uses force, then so may you, to get your way against your ‘enemies’”.

Add also that the themes of (1) tribal dualism (true believers favored/saved versus unbelievers who are rejected and destroyed), (2) domination (deity as dominating Lord, Ruler, King that validates human forms of domination- state leaders, authoritative priesthoods, domineering fathers…), and (3) ultimate violent destruction of the differing others (apocalypse, hell)… these themes, sacralized in deity as ultimate ideals and authority, then serve to re-enforce the same features in the adherents of such belief systems. People become and act just like the God that they believe in.

OK, now how about in the messy present, the here and now– and sorting out the pathology of harsh and excessive vengeance from “just war” defensive action, as per, for example, Chinese sage Laotzi’s advice to defeat your attacking enemy but then after defeating him, you must reconcile with the enemy. He advised- “Do not gloat triumphally and humiliate your enemy in defeat”. Do what the Allies did after WW2 and post-defeat, restore the offenders back into the human family.

Recognize that harsh responses to assaults (with too many civilian deaths), such “go berserk” responses that are intended to teach an unforgettable lesson, most often will not make the intended point to enemies. “Iron fist” vengeance responses incite more bitterness, hatred, and determination to take further retaliatory response and perpetuate the eye for eye spirals into the insane maelstrom of violence.

So where to next?? What is rational and “proportional defense” in the heat and cloud of the mutual hatred that is often unleashed during war?

One cautionary qualifier is always warranted no matter which parties are involved in cycles of violence.

All of us are always responsible to “maintain our own humanity in the face of evil”. To ensure that we do not lose our humanity.

As Joseph Campbell stated: “For love is exactly as strong as life. And when life produces what the intellect names evil, we may enter into righteous battle, contending ‘from loyalty of heart’: however, if the principle of love (Christ’s “Love your enemies”) is lost thereby, our humanity too will be lost. ‘Man’, in the words of the American novelist Hawthorne, ‘must not disclaim his brotherhood even with the guiltiest’” (Myths To Live By).

How do we do this? We orient our minds to humane ideas and related responses/behaviors that will help ensure that we maintain our humanity in all situations.

For one: We should always embrace a plan for a future where we have to cooperatively live with our enemies, even next door to them. It has to be a future where we mutually commit to break free of the endless downward spirals of ‘eye for eye’ treatment of one another (“getting even… tit for tat… justice as punitive destruction…”). Meaning, a mutual understanding to rise above and resist the impulse to retaliatory responses to offenses, knowing that retaliation renders us petty and inhuman. Add here that there is no future in perpetuating tribalism that too often fuels accompanying hatred, division, and punitive retaliation toward differing others.

But yes, in the present we are responsibly obligated to defend ourselves from, especially, those committed to our downfall, to overturning our freedoms and way of life, as in Russian and Chinese aggression and long-game goals of overturning the Classic Liberal world order to impose their totalitarian collectivism on humanity.

And this obligation to defend applies even more to the Israel/Hamas/Iran situation, where Israel’s neighbors are committed to repeated violent assault and eventual extermination of all Jews.

With Israel the defense issue is complex because you are left with no option but to take forceful defensive action against those committed to your extermination and who refuse to surrender peacefully. You have no other choice but to eliminate that threat because the Hamas leaders have told you that they will attack “again and again” (using ceasefires to recover, re-arm and prepare for the next assault), till you are exterminated. You cannot reason with the irrational, religiously-inspired tribal hatred that fuels such groups.

And these recent Hamas/Iran assaults push us again to confront the religious ideas that incite, guide, and validate such savagery such as committed by Hamas on Oct.7.

Religious ideas are the most dangerous of all because “men never do worse evil than when they do it in the name of God”. Or as Blaise Pascal stated it: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction”. The belief that God smiles on one’s treatment of others with brutality is the greatest delusion to fall prey to.

This site has long engaged and repeated a notable complex of religious ideas (presented above) that have deformed human consciousness for millennia, ideas that have endlessly incited and validated our worst inherited impulses to harm one another. These ideas continue to dominate the world religions and have even been embraced in the modern era in new “secular ideological” versions. These ideas shaped Marxist violence in the 20th Century and continue to incite and guide the resurging Marxism of today. They also shaped Nazism and are now shaping environmental alarmism. Historians who research “apocalyptic millennial movements” have traced these ideas/themes in the above movements and their destructive impacts.

I would repeat Richard Landes summarizing statement regarding Hitler and the Nazis: If you dismiss Hitler as just another madman, then you have missed the real point of that insanity and you have learned nothing. And you will just repeat the same mistake of not confronting the inciting/validating ideas behind such movements. We need to understand the power of apocalyptic millennialism to incite societies toward mass-death crusades.

Landes and others have set forth the endlessly repeated patterns in apocalyptic movements, how the thinking of true believers develops throughout the life of a movement, and the dangerous outcomes of minds possessed with the fallacy of apocalyptic millennialism.

The fuller complex of apocalyptic millennial myths (again, outlined above) includes the idea of a lost paradise (something ruined and lost that must be recovered/restored), the subsequent decline of life toward the threat of imminent apocalyptic destruction, the felt need to make a sacrifice, the demand to actively purge the great threat to one’s society and existence- i.e. some demonized enemy that must be exterminated in order to protect oneself from extermination, the demand to heroically engage a righteous battle and slay the monster/enemy, the evil, and then, having exterminated the evil threat, the achievement of the promised millennial utopia or restored paradise- i.e. true believers acting as agents to exterminate evil then prepare the way to bring God down into life (to walk again with God in the garden as Adam and Eve supposedly did in a purified world).

A critically dangerous feature to note in relation to apocalyptic millennialism is the belief of true believers that they must become “active agents” to ensure that the apocalypse will actually occur, to instigate the violent purification of evil from the world, and that then becomes the preparation for the installation of restored paradise or new utopian kingdom of God.

The comments below on ISIS apply to Hamas, Iran, and in a wider manner also apply to most religions as well as to “secular/ideological” crusades. It’s the same old ideas in differing versions, whether religious or secular, and the same old outcomes.

Remember also, Ellen’s point that the belief in a God who uses violence to solve problems, as in the Biblical God, that violent deity then becomes the inspiring model that validates followers to also use violence to solve problems.

This author below (Boston University) analyzes how ISIS operated in Syria but, again, the beliefs and principles that ISIS followed are similar across all such movements. These same beliefs and principles apply to Christian apocalyptic movements, as well as to the secular/ideological versions of these movements.

I insist repeatedly that it is the same complex of ideas behind these varied religions, and their secular cousins. The same ideas that incite and validate tribal dualism, hatred of the differing others, and punitive destruction as justice or righteous battle. Ideas that shape emotions, thinking, motivation, and response/behavior.

Where ISIS believed that if they would attack then the Mahdi (Muslim savior) or God would intervene to finish the destruction of the enemy, and purge all evil from life, so Christians share similar beliefs in an apocalyptic ending and purging, and the descent of Lord Jesus to bring in the paradisal kingdom, heaven on earth. Do not doubt how these beliefs can incite true believers to take action to ensure the prophesies become fulfilled.


“Many Muslims anticipate that the end of days is here, or will be here soon. In a 2012 Pew poll, in most of the countries surveyed in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, half or more Muslims believe that they will personally witness the appearance of the Mahdi. In Islamic eschatology, the messianic figure known as the Mahdi (the Guided One) will appear before the Day of Judgment….

“ISIS is trying deliberately to instigate a war between Sunnis and Shi’a, in the belief that a sectarian war would be a sign that the final times have arrived…

“Violent apocalyptic groups tend to see themselves as participating in a cosmic war between good and evil, in which ordinary moral rules do not apply….

“Like other apocalyptic groups in history, ISIS’s stated goal is to purify the world and create a new era, in which a more perfect version of Islam is accepted worldwide….

“Appealing to apocalyptic expectation is an important part of ISIS’s modus operandi. And goading the West into a final battle in Syria is a critical component of the scenario.”

The author of the above also notes that Muslim clerics urged their followers to engage jihad as “a sign that the end is nigh”. Again, true believers engaged “active agency” (violent agency) to precipitate the onset of the end of days. They engaged the purging of the evil enemy, to thereby prepare the way for God to fulfill the true believer’s millennial hopes by intervening to establish the new heavenly kingdom.

These are the elements of the very dangerous theology that is operating behind the Hamas and the Iranian attacks of today, and also behind related groups. Richard Landes, along with others, has detailed the patterns in these apocalyptic millennial crusades, and the special danger when these movements shift toward the belief that they face an “exterminate or be exterminated” stage of conflict. That is the desperation stage where true believers feel that they must actively incite the final purging of the world, a great Armageddon battle, in order to prepare for the descent of God to install their hoped-for paradise.

A sidebar note: Similar “destroy life to save the world” beliefs operate in climate alarmism- another “profoundly religious movement”. Look what is happening with the insanity of decarbonization that is the cutting edge of de-development, de-growth, de-civilization, and its looney-toon cousins like de-carceration of violent criminals, and de-prosecution (Hey, crime is way down, says the FBI. But smart fact-checking folks come back with- Of course it appears to be down, because you no longer prosecute violent criminals and their crimes. Duh.)

This comment from Landes on Nazism as similar to the Islamic extremist versions of the same apocalyptic millennialism where true believers feel they must engage active agency to ensure their end of days prophesies are fulfilled, notably in starting great final apocalyptic battles with enemies:

“The religious world out of which Hitler’s particular millennialism arose was that of the theosophical trends… In Germany it took a peculiar turn toward a racist mythology known as Ariosophy…. The ‘Great War’ (WW1) was only the opening act of the final drama… racist Ariosophists saw it as the onset of the final apocalyptic battle…”

Then more from Landes on the apocalyptic millennial movements of our day…

Landes’ chapters on the emergence and development of Marxism are good on the psychology of totalitarianism- i.e. the feverish dreams of perfecting human society into a millennial paradise freed of the evil of this present world order, the subsequent failure of the dream to materialize, and then the disillusion and bitterness with failure (cognitive dissonance). Disappointment, says Landes, then trips a switch and the apocalyptic millennial zealots shift to “coercive purification”- i.e. to force the arrival of the millennium. This is the “active apocalyptic” stage of such revolutions- i.e. to purge the old world in order to prepare the way for the new world. Today’s apocalyptic movements exhibit beliefs and actions that are no different from Zoroaster’s apocalyptic vision (circa 1500 BCE) that divine violence would exhibit itself with molten metal burning over the earth to purge away the evil, and through that purging, thereby open the way to restore the lost paradise or install the new kingdom.

Says Landes, “When the believer awaits no God or supernatural force to intervene, apocalyptic transformations must take place as a result of human action, and both the destruction of the old world and the building of the new become key events. Even using the term secular in a religious sense, ‘secular’ apocalyptic is virtually synonymous with active, indeed hyperactive apocalyptic: humans replace God as the active agent in the creation of the millennium… This peculiar… aspect of secular millennialism- the complete shift of responsibility, of agency, from divine to human forces- sets many of these movements on the road to totalitarianism.”

Out of disillusionment with the failure of their socialist revolutions, Landes notes the common response of Marxist apocalyptic millennialists to double down on the dream (“upping the ante”) and then to abandon gradual democratic transformation to, instead, embrace coercive purification as in purging the evil that prevents the onset of the millennial dream, exterminating those who block the onset of the millennium (i.e. whether opponents, or fellow socialists who differ, or those who lack similar zeal for the millennial crusade).

Leaders of apocalyptic millennial movements such as Marx, Lenin, Mao, and others, embraced violent coercive purification, justified by their proclaimed conviction that they were doing so out of compassion, out of love and concern to free people from their enslavement to the old world order. And where the oppressed don’t cooperate, then they must be forced to be “free”. And if many must die to achieve the dream of greater collective good, so be it. Sacrifice is believed necessary to achieve the greater good of the new world order- “brutal violence that must inevitably pave the way to the kingdom of love and brotherhood.”


“Marx’s millennial ideology operated as he hoped: it triggered repeated attempts at violent active cataclysmic apocalyptic movements (revolutions)… (but) like to many apocalyptic hopefuls, European radicals faced terrible disappointments with all the cognitive dissonance such experiences inflicted… How did the most determined of the modern (apocalyptic prophets) handle that dissonance? By clinging to the millennial promise; by redating the apocalyptic moment into the near future (postponing the event horizon) and by reframing the apocalyptic scenario and insisting that, to bring redemption closer, one needed to force things by a worst case scenario. If the millennium had not arrived yet, it was because things were not yet bad enough.… (Landes notes the resentment and anger produced by disappointment)…

“Like so many disappointed apocalypse hopefuls, the revolutionaries opted for coercive purity… apocalyptic scapegoats were targeted… Marxism increasingly, indeed with every disappointment, grew more violent and authoritarian…

“In the same way that the Xhosa chose (i.e. the 1856-57 apocalyptic movement in South Africa), with every disappointment to pursue coercive and scapegoating responses to failure, to seek still more self-mutilation in order to earn the millennium, so did some Marxists in pursuit of theirs. The worse it got, the better…”.

“Totalitarianism… is not so much inherent in ideology, as it is in certain millennial ideologies that, following the ‘logic’ of an active and violent apocalyptic scenario… attempt to perfect the world. The ‘logic’ of coercive purity ultimately attempts to destroy… human freedom… totalitarian societies want ‘salvation’ and demand the people’s ‘soul’… their obsession with ‘redeeming’ their chosen people at any cost to private life… their terrifying willingness to engage in ‘coercive purification’ as a means to accomplish their visionary goals with the stunning number of lives lost as a result.”

You will never solve the violence the eye for eye cycles until go to the root influence like these apocalyptic millennial myths and make fundamental changes in narratives, replacing these violence inducing themes with better alternatives. We have long had the alternatives… the Jesus insights, along with others like Laotzi’s, Mandelas, Gandhis and more…

See below- “Humanity’s worst ideas, better alternatives”, or “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives”.

Now back to the Israeli/Hamas/Iran situation…

Further notes on “defensive” response: Wendell Krossa

Most of us can understand that “eye for eye” cycles of payback, punishment, revenge leads too often to destructive outcomes, even to potential eruptions of mass-death. But oh, the complexity of real-world situations.

First, most can recognize that pacifist responses just don’t work in the face of intractable evil, committed evil. Attackers, like the Iranian proxy Hamas, are committed to the total destruction of Israel, to the extermination of Jews. And they do not appear willing to surrender peacefully. What then would be the rational, reasonable response to such commitment? And if Iran gets nukes, do we doubt they will act similarly crazy? So what does “legitimate defense” mean now in the face of such madness?

And for all his faults (that’s my nod to the need to make a distinction between personality and policy), Trump understood that you don’t tell these threatening groups what your response will be. Let them keep guessing. Keep them off guard. Biden, before Russia invaded Ukraine, re-assured the Russians that there would be no US soldiers on the ground to counter any attack, and if they took the Dunbas region, he would do nothing. Re-assuring there would be no pushback if they attacked. How did that work out?

So with others threatening violent attack, like an aggressive Iran, Biden keeps re-assuring them that the US does not want conflict and will do nothing, and to add to his proclaimed non-response, he scolds Israel for taking defensive action that is among the most humane anywhere (i.e. warning civilians of coming bombing raids).

Biden and Co. don’t seem to get that we are facing threats that are not rational, not amenable to reason and peace initiatives, and that live, as bullies do, by aggression, unless stood up to. At least Trump would have kept them guessing and that may function more effectively as a preventative to attack.

And also in the mix of Hamas insanity is the irrational element of hatred fueled by religious ideas, hatred as an advanced and divinely approved state of righteousness. Hamas and co-groups are death cults that idolize martyrdom, death as glory, and fighting and dying for God as the road to blissful eternity. You cannot reason with such God-besotted minds, you cannot appease such zealotry. The only rationality involved is the psychopathic manipulation of goodwill for advantage over the long term (i.e. agree to ceasefires in order to recover and re-arm for further attacks).

My point in this- pacifism (much as we may admire the spirit of the pacifist) does not work in a world of bad actors committed to destruction of those who disagree with them. Add psychopathy to the mix- the absence of empathy, the lack of any concern for the harm that is done to others.

No people are more dangerous than people fueled with religious beliefs like apocalyptic millennialism. It incites the most basic of survival fears, paranoid fears of existential threats from demonized enemies out to dominate or exterminate. Such beliefs have incited mass death movements like nothing else in history. Landes, Mendel, Herman, and others detail how such ideas fueled, not just religious apocalyptic millennial movements, but also the Marxist and Nazi mass-death movements and now influence the environmental decarbonization crusade.

So what does legitimate defense and responsibility to protect the innocent mean? Do we want to wait till Iran is nuclear armed to find out? That is religiously incited and validated hatred of the differing other. That means it’s a notch above normal hate. It is God-approved hate and destruction. Like those Crusaders of a millennium ago praying in the streets of Jerusalem as they slaughtered Muslims, till the blood ran as high as their ankles- the blood of men, women, and children. They prayed and thanked God that they could take part in the slaughter of God’s enemies.

So are pre-emptive strikes to disarm such threat the best call now? We can only hope the political and military leaders will make the right calls, tempered by awareness of the long-term goal of acting humanely now as necessary for an eventual more peaceful world.

Here is more of the Landes comment on apocalyptic millennial movements, critical to understanding either the religious versions as in Hamas/Iran, and the secular versions as in Marxism and climate alarmism

Selected quotations from “Heaven On Earth” by Richard Landes, specifically from his Ch. 9 on “Democratic Millennialism” as in the French Revolution that turned horrifically violent.

Landes’ insights on the dynamics operating in the French Revolution are particularly helpful in understanding the emergence of authoritarianism in left-wing or progressive movements today as outlined by Christine Brophy in her research on “Narcissism Behind Left-Wing Authoritarianism: New psychological research finds that behind the progressive ‘be kind’ agenda often lies a far darker set of motivations”.

Note, in particular, the extreme danger that arises as apocalyptic millennial crusades begin to fail and the apocalyptic true believers, facing humiliation, loss of influence/power, and fearing retaliation from opponents or from their own fellow believers, then become desperate to fire up zeal and keep the crusade going at fever pitch. This is when some turn to the violence of “coercive purification” that leads to mega-destruction and mass-death outcomes (think here of the increasingly mad push for Net Zero decarbonization despite growing evidence of widespread harm to both humans and the natural world).

This research (Brophy, Landes, and others) probes “the dark side of compassion”, how proclaimed compassion for victims has repeatedly turned violent and even led to mega-death outcomes as we saw with Marxist regimes over the last century that proclaimed their crusades were liberation movements for the poor and oppressed. You will get my drift of applying this to climate alarmism, and its decarbonization “salvation” scheme, that is already causing significant increased mortality among the most vulnerable, the people that leftists have long claimed they were most compassionate about- the victims they claim to fight for.

And acknowledging the element of “bothsideism”, the Right also needs to confront its own impulses to the same dark side of compassion and consequent resort to “coercive purification” responses and policies.

I would recommend, along with Landes’ book, read also Arthur Mendel’s “Vision and Violence”, David Redles’ “Hitler’s Millennial Reich”, and Arthur Herman’s “The Idea of Decline in Western History”. All give some sense of the profoundly religious nature of the narratives that shaped Marxism and Nazism, and now shape environmental alarmism/climate alarmism. Many young “secular materialists” of today, even claiming to be “atheist”, appear to have little awareness of how profoundly religious their beliefs really are. And, as primitively and irrationally mythological, how their beliefs are entirely distorting of reality and life.

Richard Landes quotes (in some of these quotations Landes is quoting others), see full chapter for much more detail:

“The tale of the French Revolution… constitutes a key story in the grand narrative of Western freedom… as one of the two inaugurating events of the modern world… a progressive demotic millennial movement- one inspired by a desire to perfect the world through egalitarian ideals. It entered apocalyptic time with an active, transformative scenario- legislate the just society in the context of widespread popular enthusiasm. But gradually, as the ‘voluntaristic’ effort failed, and with the inauguration of what they called the ‘Terror’, adopted an active cataclysmic scenario (only through merciless violence could the transformation come)….

“The close connection between the secular and religious manifestations of demotic millennialism… modern revolutionary thought is a more effective form of millennialism… How then did such non-, even anti-religious beliefs have anything to do with millennialism?… the secular turn of millennialism came… from a shift from passive to active apocalyptic scenarios, which involved a mutation in the response to the failure of apocalyptic prophecies…

Then Landes comments on the newly aroused desire in the French population for equality, the awakening of hopes for a better life and future, “A return to paradise on earth and the entry of apocalyptic discourse into public life… now is the time to fundamentally change the social order and passions swing from wild enthusiasms to paranoid panic…. and retaliation soon follows… no one dared to contradict the intoxication which swept up everyone’s spirits… the historian underestimates at his or her own peril the power of enthusiasm at such moments”…..

This is the result of the stirring of hopes in France for the new world of democratic millennialism- “The expressions of messianic joy that swept through France, flying on the wings of a suddenly potent ideology of human dignity and freedom, equality and fellowship”. This was a rebellion against the old oppressive aristocratic order….

“Millennialism doth make many hopeful fools… For the French Revolution, the millennial hope lay… in Rousseau’s theories of freedom and the general will… the desire of all… in reality, freeing the popular voice could lead to mob violence and vigilantism… the most idealistic of the revolutionaries believed that liberty went hand in hand with virtue….

“The descent of the Revolution into terror constitutes the most troubling issue for historians, particularly ones who thrill to the messianic slogan ‘liberte, egalite, fraternite’… Terror was predetermined by the ideology…. Looking at the advent of the Terror as a result of millennial disappointment… The problem of the revolutionaries, as for all apocalyptic believers, arose when, inevitably, their millennial premises proved false. Apocalyptic time does not last long; millennial moments rapidly lose their ardor. And when they do, they come crashing down to earth…

“Then the revolution began to tread the path of suspicion and distrust, from betrothal to betrayal… they believe that their trajectory goes straight up it the orbit of millennial salvation, and the cognitive dissonance of finding themselves still stuck in the banal reality of human failure and corruption… fills them with fear and loathing…

(Note on revolutionary’s impatience) “Once in power… revolutionaries would see to it that all of society corresponds to their model of purity and perfection… with little or no experience in compromising pragmatically with reality or with opposing points of view and… they would have little patience with anything or anyone inconsistent with their theories. If character and biography predisposed the revolutionary rationalist to totalitarian domination, the ideological heritage guided him to it and justified the way he used it… Their response, the ominous formula: ‘They must be forced to be free’…

“Millennial movements provoke apocalyptic responses…

(Landes then comments on the megalomania of apocalytics, their belief that they are at the center of cosmic history and all history culminate in their efforts- existential- and this provokes naturally hostile reactions from others) “They do not admit that domestic problems and foreign threats are due to their errors. And even honest disagreements from opposition are now viewed by the increasingly paranoid revolutionaries as from “the malevolent will to undermine the new and glorious experiment- the work of traitors to the revolution… Their opponents were not brother exercising their newly granted freedom; they were diabolic traitors”…

“The revolutionary vanguard now passed into the most extreme form of the paranoid imperative- ‘exterminate or be exterminated’…

“In revolutionary France paranoia carried the day… the logic of the Terror followed a classic… psychological and apocalyptic dynamic. Once successful, the best of intentions and finest expressions of demotic values launch an egalitarian experiment at once immensely powerful and enthusing, and also extremely vulnerable… the fear of vengeance from the now overthrown powers becomes a major concern…

“All too often, in these experiments that come to life in bursts of megalomaniacal enthusiasm, fears of vulnerability give way to ruthless paranoia… Historians have puzzled over the seeming incongruity of the pacifist sentiments of precisely the most bloodthirsty drivers of the Reign of Terror…

“Terror… serves as the destructive force that clears away the rot of the old world… And when God fails to inflict the terror, the task falls to those who could carry out God’s millennial promises… Anxiety, paranoia, and apocalyptic bloodlust… To active transformational apocalyptic believers… disappointment brings primarily humiliation… to active cataclysmic ones…

disappointment brings panic at the retaliation that will surely result from failure. (Apocalyptics) typically behave aggressively… when the expectation (of the old passing away in apocalypse) the ‘revelation’ becomes a nightmare of anticipated retribution. When this realistic fear joins with the cosmic humiliation of prophecy failed, such post-apocalyptic activists can plunge headlong into the paranoia of ‘exterminate or be exterminated’…

“Paranoic produces aggression… first fear, then aggression… exacerbated it …with both provocative rhetoric and behavior… to ask for acts of pragmatic calculation … defy the very logic of millennial ambitions…

“Rousseau’s dictum that… the general will could ‘force a man to be free’- became the driving ideological force of the Terror, or, in religious terms, ‘coercive purity’… a ruthless coercive purity that forces then to be ‘free’ in a state that uses terror to exact conformity… apocalyptic thinking… rationality… quickly cede to the imperative of sustaining the heat of apocalyptic time…

“In their disorientation, anxiety, and fear of vulnerability, the people demanded blood. It reassured them. It allowed them to project the evil and feel aggrieved; it slackened their thirst for vengeance…

“Millennial passions ride believers, digging their spurs deep into their mount’s flanks…

“The apocalyptic turn from transformative to violent even cataclysmic scenarios, from persuasion to coercive purity, had begun in earnest and brought with it a shift from demotic to imperial millennialism…

“Linguistic purity… The way in which the language question played out in the French Revolution follows closely the pattern of capacious diversity turning into dogmatic uniformity that so consistently marks the shift from demotic, voluntaristic to hierarchical, coercive apocalyptic styles….

“Revolt of the Vendee in 1793… Both sides slaughtered each other with the pitiless violence so characteristic of the earlier Christian religious wars…

“The mindset of the revolutionaries once they had shifted toward coercive purity has all the earmarks of a self-justifying paranoia. As they threaten and victimize their opponents, they bathe in a sea of self-pity and sense of their own victimization… ‘Here we are faced with a paranoic streak, a strange combination of the most intense and mystical sense of mission with a self-pity that expressed itself in an obsessive preoccupation with martyrdom, death, and even suicide’. In its worst forms, this paranoid omnipotence complex produces the apocalyptic principle of the most nihilistic of cataclysmic scenarios: ‘Destroying the world to save it’…

“And yet all the time, these agents of apocalyptic destruction insist they have nothing but the best intentions… Terrible hopes produce terrible loves. Indeed, the bloodiest crusading can present itself as an ‘act of love’…

“Historians of revolutionary France have shown little interest in understanding their Revolution in light of the dynamics of other millennial movements. The… French Revolution was such a movement, that its shift to terror was characteristic of millennial movements that take power… the psychology of messianism with its zeal, contradictions, and megalomaniac paranoia… tracked the slide of well-intentioned believers from an imminently perfect world into a nightmare of self-destructive terror…

“The phenomenon of millennialism… the link… between (exalted) ideology, (less exalted) emotions like revenge, paranoia, and rage, and (murderous) action. Perhaps one of the major blocks to recognizing the link derives from the profound attachment of progressives to those who claim to work for ‘the underdog’, sympathy for whom is ‘a psychological feature common to all humanitarian movements’…

“The history of leftist revolutions has, with terrifying regularity, gone from espousing the highest progressive values in the early stages, to mega-slaughters of their own people in subsequent stages, all to a chorus of approval and excuses from fellow travellers…

“They look at the psychological dynamics… about what circumstances… led the revolutionaries to tread so extraordinary path of betraying the very values with which they started… current dramas playout similar dynamics… this political debate about the excesses of well-intentioned leftist revolutionaries… they are the inheritors of the millennarian and apocalyptic collectivisms of Antiquity and of the Middle Ages…

“The denial that they are millennialists among both the eighteenth-century secular actors and their twentieth-century admirers at once disguises these origins and fuels the worst kind of repetition…

(quoting Nemo) “1793… is millennialism. It is a shameful religion, unconscious of itself because it presents itself as atheism, secularism, and materialism, but actually functions psychologically and sociologically as millennialism. I call this ersatz religion the ‘Left’ with a capital L, taking the word not in its parliamentary or partisan sense, but in its spiritual sense, a mysticism that will not brook discussion, resists all rational objection based on facts, and, on occasion, lifting whole mountains…

“I would like to propose a different kind of ‘millennial’ reading of the Revolution…. Let us consider the entire episode millennial, one in which we find, over the course of an apocalyptic curve, a characteristic shift from transformational demotic to cataclysmic hierarchical millennialism… the apocalyptic millennial one focuses specifically on a central paradox: the clash between perfectionist ideals and bitter disappointment…

“A sincere liberal impulse produced the ‘neo-liberals’… the more perfectionist the search for the millennium- ‘absolute freedom’- the more devastating the failure and the more violent the response to it. Nor need that failure derive from ‘pure’ motives: the base fears and desires that inform everyday decisions can mask themselves in ‘idealistic motives’ both as private and public justification….

“It is precisely the ‘good conscience’ of the totalitarian, the conviction that he does this for his victims, that he is ‘saving’ both them and others, that marks the true believer… (Communists in Russia) at the highest pitch of apocalyptic time, turned to state terror as a solution to the disappointments they faced…

“Neither external circumstances nor ideology alone make for the potent brew that leads to terror and its institutional offspring, totalitarianism. Rather, it is what happens to demotic millennialism (‘democratic political messianism’) when its millennial premises have failed, and cognitive dissonance set in precisely as the revolution feels threatened from without and within. At once fear and impatience seize hold of at least some of the actor, who believe that they alone can save the perilous situation… they turn a transformative scenario into a cataclysmic one, where they ‘up the ante’ and move from persuasion to coercive purity….

“These patterns may be powerfully compelling… it would happen again- often in even more violent forms- in Russia, China, Syria, Iraq, Cambodia, Iran. But such developments are not inevitable; it had not happened in the US in 1781, nor would it happen in Israel in 1948… the circumstances of external threat and internal dissension, militated for totalitarianism, rather than a democracy of tolerant dissent…

“(French Revolution)… 1789 was the voluntaristic transformative, and 1793, the coercive cataclysmic apocalyptic drive for demotic millennium… 1793 came as an unanticipated response to its failure whereby the same revolutionaries transgressed to many of the very values they initially upheld. And until we begin to sort out what makes some revolutions like the French and Communist ones, turn in their disappointment to coercive purity and others to retreat from that headlong dive into apocalyptic mega-violence, we cannot hope to learn how to deal with future manifestation of revolutionary millennialism, homegrown or foreign.” (End of quotes from Historian Richard Landes).

Landes then takes this into his next chapter (“Egalitarian Millennialism”) to explain and confirm that Marxism was/is an apocalyptic millennial crusade, despite Marx and Engel’s efforts to frame their ideological revolution as “secular/scientific history”. He shows how the French Revolution shaped Marxism and Nazism, and later environmentalism. Added note: Former socialist Muravchik in his history of collectivism (“Heaven On Earth”) notes that a critical difference between the French and American revolutions was the French push to include “equity” (equal outcomes) as the responsibility of states to guarantee. The American revolution would only protect “equality” as the general principle of equal status/rights/freedoms and opportunity, not equal outcomes.

Related material

And on that old persistent psychopathology of apocalypse:

There is nothing more irresponsible and insane than panic mongering over looming apocalypse. Traumatizing a generation of young people and pushing alarmed populations to embrace irrational and destructive salvation schemes like decarbonization. In the name of common human decency, stop it.

The cutting edge of the resurging totalitarianism/collectivism in the West today (more on patterns in alarmism movements) Wendell Krossa

Those among us who want to vent their pathological impulse to control others, the totalitarian impulse, begin by manufacturing fear of some purported “crisis/emergency”. They incite people’s survival impulse, thereby rendering people more susceptible to their “salvation” schemes (i.e. “save democracy, save society, save the world”).

H. L. Mencken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary”.

This madness of insanely exaggerated alarmism is beaten into our consciousness daily in media. Just note the endless stream of alarmist news titles with terms like “catastrophic…. Emergency…. Crisis…. Worst on record…” and other terms affirming apocalyptic prophesies that the ‘end-is-nigh’. Add the obsession with endless setting and resetting of “end of days” dates to intensify a sense of imminent danger.

Panic mongers, driven by the narrative feature that the hero must vanquish a monster/enemy in order to save something, then in their perversion of the hero’s quest, create a monster, an enemy who they claim poses a great existential threat to life, to all. They then demonize the enemy as the worst ever, or as in their climate alarmism crusade, make the claim that natural weather changes today are “the worst on record ever”. The point in demonizing your enemy is to justify treating them inhumanely. So you first need to dehumanize as much as can- smearing with the ultimate pejoratives of evil, as “Hitler, Nazi, racist, bigot, terrorist, threat to democracy, threat to life and the world, etc.”.

Once you have alarmed people with threat, and your enemy as the greatest threat ever, now your targeted population of people will clamor for salvation. Add the element of chaos to the mix (sense of collapsing law and order, collapsing society- a favorite go-to technique of nihilist, anarchist revolutionaries whether ideological or religious).

Marxist scholar, James Lindsay, on a recent Joe Rogan podcast (episode 2119) noted that the open US southern border is contributing to the collapse of systems in US cities thereby creating an environment that the state can then use to institute strong measures such as the military now patrolling New York subways (he cautioned about “conspiracy theories” but added there was evidence to back such concerns).

Chaos and collapse enable the panic-mongers to prep populations to embrace their salvation schemes with promises to lead them to salvation. Much as WEF head Klaus Schwab argued that Covid chaos and lockdowns provided the model for climate lockdowns and the opportunity to institute his “Great Reset” where market capitalism would be changed for a new economic system along the lines of the anti-democratic Chinese model that he greatly admires (also admired by Justin Trudeau and his colleague Chrystia Freeland who is on the WEF board).

As noted above, also add “imminence” to your mix of panic-mongering. Now you have created the situation where you are justified to act immediately with “coercive purification” responses. Immediacy of threat justifies rejecting the normal protocols of freedom and democracy as a dangerous block to saving the world, and those dissenting to your salvation schemes now pose a dangerous threat to all. Hence, they must be censored, silenced, banned, even criminalized as intolerable threats to all that is good. Dissenters to coercive state approaches then face smears as advocates of “Russian/foreign disinformation, proponents of hate speech, racism, domestic terrorism, threat to democracy… etc.”.

Relating this to the left-wing assault on liberal democracies, the new totalitarian collectivism being forced onto societies… Often under the guise of noble crusade for “safety” as in protecting people from “harmful disinformation, hate speech, racism, bullying, etc.” ( ). In reality the Brussels forceful police intervention to shut down a conservative conference for “safety” reasons was “a cowardly cover for an ulterior motive… They tried to shut down this conference because they know that national conservatism is the greatest threat to the totalitarian, liberal NGO-cracy in Brussels”.

And this illustrative piece… “Governments are creating a fake hate panic to censor, interfere in elections, and imprison their political enemies: Watch what’s happening in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, Brazil, and the EU”, Mar. 22, 2024, Michael Shellenberger


“A few weeks after the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, the Director of the FBI said, “Our most immediate concern is that violent extremists—individuals or small groups—will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives. That includes not just homegrown violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization but also domestic violent extremists targeting Jewish or Muslim communities.”

“And indeed, in the three months after October 7, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 3,291 anti-Jewish incidents, which was a 361-percent increase compared to the same period one year prior.

“But the terrorist attacks the FBI Director warned about never arrived, and all but 56 of those 3,291 incidents were nonviolent, consisting of hate speech, vandalism, and rallies. And ADL has inflated its recorded number of nonviolent incidents by counting certain political speech as hate speech….

“In truth, most forms of violence have been declining in Western nations for centuries, even millennia.

“To the extent governments and NGOs are recording more so-called “hate speech,” it’s because people today are far more likely to label speech “hateful” than were people just a few decades ago. By almost every measure, our tolerance of racial, sexual, and religious minorities is at an all-time high.

“And we should also be very wary of governments hyping terrorism since it leads to abuses of power. After 9/11, the hyping of terrorism fears allowed the US to invade a country we never should have invaded, occupy a country we shouldn’t have occupied, use kidnapping and torture as standard operating procedures, and violate fundamental civil liberties.

“Now, it appears that the US and other governments around the world are hyping hate in order to weaponize the government against their political enemies.

“Ever since the 2019 shooting in New Zealand, governments have been using so-called hate speech, fake news, and misinformation as justifications for censorship. In Ireland, the government is pushing hate speech legislation that would allow police to invade homes and seize phones and computers. In Canada, Justin Trudeau is pushing legislation that would allow the government to sentence individuals to life in prison for things they said….

“The focus on so-called “hatred,” “harmful content,” and “extremist content” is dangerous. What one person thinks is extreme, another person may view as common sense.

“For the government to decide what is “extreme” is a way of labeling someone as a potential terrorist threat. We saw this clearly with the Trudeau government’s outrageous suppression of the Canadian trucker protesters in Ottawa, in which people’s bank accounts were frozen simply for supporting the anti-vaccine mandate protest movement…

“There is no reliable connection between people’s beliefs and violence. Attempting to stop violence by censoring speech is totalitarian and Orwellian. It effectively criminalizes speech and creates a new category of “pre-crime,” as depicted in the dystopian film Minority Report….

“The Biden administration is trying to portray Trump supporters as violent extremists…. governments routinely abuse understandable public fears in order to take away our fundamental rights, including our ability to criticize the very people who are seeking to censor us.”

More from Shellenberger on the pathology of today’s totalitarianism

“The Narcissism and Psychopathy of Seizing Trump’s Assets: Attorney General Letitia James could freeze the Republican front-runner’s back accounts, thus interfering in the presidential election, and rattling financial markets”, Mar.23, 2024, Michael Shellenberger, Alex Gutentag

And another– “They want to keep you afraid: Here’s the good news, it will only work if you let them”, Michael Shellenberger, Mar.19, 2024

And this on terrorizing and traumatizing kids with profoundly irresponsible climate alarmism. First, the adults terrorize the kids with wildly exaggerated claims of climate change and then worry about the emotional and psychological impacts of what they have promoted and propagandized children with…

“How long before climate change will destroy the Earth?: Questions from 10-14 year old kids’ Eric Worrall, Mar.21, 2024

“My question – where is the climate class action lawsuit on behalf of kids who suffered mental health damage at the hands of climate educators?…

“In Australia, research shows 43% of children aged 10 to 14 are worried about the future impact of climate change, and one in four believe the world will end before they grow up….

“How did we let this education disaster happen?

“There is zero chance anthropogenic climate change in the foreseeable future will make the world uninhabitable for humans. The proof is that our monkey ancestors thrived in a much hotter world. The Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, 5-8C hotter than today, was the age of monkeys. Our monkey ancestors thrived on the abundance of the hothouse PETM, and colonised much of the world, only retreating when the cold returned.

“If a bunch of monkey ancestors with brains the size of matchboxes could figure out how to thrive in a hothouse world, we could certainly manage.

“Having said that, it is doubtful if anthropogenic CO2 could recreate anything like the hothouse conditions of the PETM, even if we burned every scrap of recoverable fossil fuel on the planet. Not only is the CO2 band of the atmosphere almost completely saturated, which severely limits the impact of additional CO2 on global temperature, the Earth has experienced significant geological changes since the PETM such as the establishment of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current 33 million years ago, which continues to exert a substantial cooling effect on the global climate. The Earth’s current geology is currently aligned so strongly against warming, from a geological perspective we are in the middle of an ice age, the Quarternary Glaciation.

“But kids are not being taught this basic science, this unequivocal proof that even if global warming occurs, global warming is not a threat to human survival and prosperity.

“What really outraged me, a sizeable fraction of kids (1 in 4) believe the world will end before they grow up. Some of them feel guilty about “consumptive practices” they believe are wrecking the planet, which presumably includes eating meat and other high carbon, high calorie foods which kids need to develop to their maximum potential. Even worse, those children have been made to feel a deep sense of responsibility – even though, as kids, they have very little responsibility for the state of the planet.

“How many of those one in four kids who believe the world is about to end will turn to hard drugs or other self-destructive behaviours, to escape the pain and guilt and feelings of responsibility, which have been inflicted on them by climate educators? Because we know climate despair is driving kids to abuse hard drugs: Leading rehab specialist Dr. Wodak testified in a government inquiry in 2019 that fear of climate change is a major motivation for kids giving up on life…

“Future generations will look on our era of “climate education” as an age of collective child abuse, and will wonder why nobody stood up to the abusers and put a stop to it. Because there will be a tomorrow, and a day of reckoning….

“This outrageous situation is just begging for a smart lawyer to launch the mother of all class actions, on behalf of drug addicts and mental health patients whose lives were ruined by climate educators.”

The facts on weather

Quotes from the “Executive summary:

“This report refutes the popular but mistaken belief that today’s weather extremes are more common and more intense because of climate change, by examining the history of extreme weather events over the past century or so. Drawing on newspaper archives, it presents multiple examples of past extremes that match or exceed anything experienced in the present day. That so many people are unaware of this fact shows that collective memories of extreme weather are short-lived.

“Heatwaves of the last few decades pale in comparison to those of the 1930s – a period whose importance is frequently downplayed by the media and environmental activists. The evidence shows that the record heat of that time was not confined to the US ‘Dust Bowl’, but extended throughout much of North America, as well as to other countries, such as France, India and Australia. US heatwaves during July 2023, falsely trumpeted by the mainstream media as the hottest month in history, failed to exceed the scorching heat of 1934.” (Full report at link above)

Why are media, hysterical over any warming events, dead silent on this global cooling? Cold is the far greater threat to life, with 10 times more people dying from cold every year than die from warming.

“Unusual Cold Plagues Both Northern, Southern Hemispheres… Arctic Sea Ice Strengthens”, P. Gosselin, Mar. 24, 2024


“Unexpected snow in Saudi Arabia

“In the desert of Afif, west of Riyadh, it snowed unexpectedly, both citizens and tourists were shocked….

“Last year (2023), parts of Saudi Arabia saw its first snowfall in 100 years….

“Freezing Australia

“This past week, the Australian continent saw temperature anomalies of up to 28°C below the multi-decadal norm, affecting large regions…

“–57,9°C in Greenland

“Temperatures in Greenland have fallen sharply as the thermometer in Summit showed -55.1 °C on Saturday.

“On Monday it got even colder, falling to -57.9 °C, That’s about 15 °C below the seasonal norm….

“The exceptional cold in the far north has contributed to Arctic sea ice extent to be above the average for the period 2011-2020, and is rapidly approaching the average for the period 2001-2010…

“Obviously the Arctic is surprising the experts, who warned that sea ice there was supposedly in rapid decline.

‘Unusual, record-breaking cold in India

“Intense cold persists in Indian cities like Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, Chandbali, Paradeep and Baripada, which are experiencing record-breaking low temperatures. On Wednesday, many places in the eastern state of Odisha experienced the coldest March days ever. In Bhubaneswar, a maximum temperature of only 19.2 °C was recorded yesterday, breaking the previous record of 24.3 °C by a whopping 5°C!

“In northern India, snow from the north is bringing down temperatures in the lower latitudes in central and southern India. In many cities, including the eastern metropolitan cities of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, Chandbali, Paradeep and Baripada, record low March temperatures were recorded, beating benchmarks from the 1970s and beyond.

“Record low in New Zealand

“In the southern hemisphere, where summer has come to an end, the temperature in Whanganui, New Zealand dropped to 4°C on Wednesday morning, the second lowest March temperature in the town’s history….

“New lows recorded in Australia

“A severe cold snap has hit southeastern Australia. In the mountains of New South Wales, there was frost in the Perisher Valley with temperatures as low as -5.7°C. This is only 1.4°C above the national record for the month of March…

“Temperature in Antarctica plummets to near -68°C

“On March 21, the seasonal minimum at Concordia dropped to -67.7°C, from -67.4°C on March 20. Antarctica is cooling, the data is clear…”

“Full report (in German) at EIKE.”

“Metaphysical bullshit”? Yes, but…. Wendell Krossa

“Let’s get rid of all this metaphysical bullshit”, argued an exasperated atheist. OK, I basically agree, wise guy. There is too much primitive metaphysical stuff distorting reality in our worldviews. But get the full extent of the problem- primitive metaphysical ideas still dominate human narratives, in both religious and secular/ideological, even scientific versions. Notably the themes of “lost paradise, life declining toward something worse, toward apocalypse, and demand for sacrifice/redemption”.

Take the theme of Declinism. Arthur Herman (“The Idea of Decline in Western History) rightly notes that the idea of Decline is “the most dominant and influential idea in the world today”. Declinism is the central feature of apocalyptic mythology (life declining toward something worse, toward ending). And be real clear that this is metaphysical myth that is entirely distorting of the real state of life. Julian Simon has exposed the fallacy of Declinism in his brilliant Ultimate Resource.

Further, the survival fear that Declinism arouses feeds the felt need for redemption, salvation, survival. Hence, the willingness of alarmed populations to submit to salvation schemes that demand some sacrifice to appease either wrathful God, vengeful Gaia, angry Planet or pissed Ma Earth, punitive Universe, or payback karma.

And the great sacrifice/salvation scheme today? Decarbonization- the front for de-development, de-growth, de-industrialization, de-everything, as in a return to primitivism. All to “save the world”.

So to our pissed atheist friend, when you decry “metaphysical bullshit”, are you including your own embrace of the very same themes noted above, in their secular/ideological and scientific versions? Like the Declinism that dominated Marxism, Nazism, and now dominates climate alarmism. Take your exasperation with the metaphysical to its destructive influence in all narratives, both religious and secular.

Most are unwilling to reject the metaphysical themes of “lost paradise/apocalypse/redemption” because they resonate with deeply embedded archetypal ideas, and consequent felt needs that have been beaten into human consciousness and subconscious for millennia. And those ideas continue to generate guilt and shame over our purportedly ruin of an original paradise. Hence, the continuing felt need to appease, make atonement, especially with self-punishment as essential to the demand for sacrifice (suffering as redemptive).

And on another note:

During recent demonstrations in the US people chanted “Death to America”. That has stirred recognition of the failures of a multi-culturalism that just welcomes immigrants without requirement that they leave some of the more barbaric values of their home cultures and embrace the values of Western Classic Liberalism or liberal democracy.

“Honor Killing” is one illustrative example of a barbaric home country value that must be rejected entirely. This belief is rooted in the ancient mythology of “shame/honor” thinking. That if someone feels their honor has been besmirched, that they have been offended and shamed in some manner, then they claim the right to retaliate, to punish the offender, even to use punitive violence to restore their offended honor. And hold your horses, this is not a “racist” discrediting of other cultures. Keep reading as I take this barbaric belief closer to home.

We had a notable Canadian example of this imported barbarity, in a family where the 3 daughters began to enjoy Western dress and dating. That enraged the father, wife, and elder son. It offended their sense of honor. So they killed the second wife and three daughters in a canal drowning. That was the outcome of the shame/honor mythology of that home culture. And the parents and older son went into prison adamant that they had done the right and just thing, according to the value of their home culture. They had to “cleanse shame and restore their offended honor”.

And now my point goes wider…

Most of us feel revulsion at such barbaric ideas and behavior. But then take that revulsion closer to home, perhaps uncomfortably close. That same shame/honor belief dominates our Western religions as a central feature of the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This is the belief in the “holiness of God” and that this feature in deity takes precedence over the feature of love in deity. Christians will argue in defense of “holiness in deity as the supreme attribute of God”, stating that God, as holy, must punish all sin. Human sin offends the holiness of God, it shames God’s honor, and so God must rightly cleanse that shame and restore his honor by punishing someone.

As Harold Ellens so graphically expresses it- God is enraged at human imperfection and in response must kill someone, either us or his son. So he murders his son in a bloody human sacrifice. And this mythology has dominated the Master Story of Wester civilization for millennia.

Zenon Lotufo (Cruel God, Kind God) quotes Ellens: “There is in Western culture a psychological archetype, a metaphor that has to do with the image of a violent and wrathful God (see Romans, Revelation). Crystallized in Anselm’s juridical atonement theory, this image represents God sufficiently disturbed by the sinfulness of humanity that God had only two options: destroy us or substitute a sacrifice to pay for our sins. He did the latter. He killed Christ.

“Ellens goes on by stating that the crucifixion, a hugely violent act of infanticide or child sacrifice, has been disguised by Christian conservative theologians as a ‘remarkable act of grace’. Such a metaphor of an angry God, who cannot forgive unless appeased by a bloody sacrifice, has been ‘right at the center of the Master Story of the Western world for the last 2,000 years. And the unavoidable consequence for the human mind is a strong tendency to use violence’.

“’With that kind of metaphor at our center, and associated with the essential behavior of God, how could we possibly hold, in the deep structure of our unconscious motivations, any other notion of ultimate solutions to ultimate questions or crises than violence- human solutions that are equivalent to God’s kind of violence’…”. (See full Ellen’s statement below)

The Christian argument in defense of holiness (shame/honor) is that God cannot just freely forgive sin but must first rebalance an upset and offended justice in the cosmos. God, as holy, is obligated to make all wrongs right by punishment.

But why can’t God just forgive freely as Jesus advocated- unconditionally forgive, as argued in the Matthew 5:38-48 or Luke 6: 27-36 summaries of the teaching of Jesus? Just refuse to engage “eye for eye” retaliatory, punitive justice?

Note also how Jesus illustrated this free forgiveness and free acceptance in his story of the Prodigal Father as representing his “stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory, unconditionally loving God” (paraphrase of James Robinson with my additions). That Father did not demand a sacrifice first before forgiving and welcoming the wasteful son back. He ordered a free celebration banquet with no prerequisite demands. Unconditional love.

So many similarly bad similar ideas as punitive justice still dominate our narratives and continue to incite and validate bad behavior. The root of the problem is that too many bad ideas have been projected onto deity, given the protection of the untouchable “sacred”, along with barriers to questioning or challenging, such as threats for blasphemy. Hence, bad ideas remain untouched and honored as ultimate truth and right. Hence, humanity’s long-standing ultimate ideal and authority- i.e. deity- has long validated similar thinking and behavior in people.

So go to the real root of the problem and solve it there thoroughly and for the long-term future.

Note also the Mennonite theologians point that punitive Christian theology was the basis for punitive Western justice systems and Ellens’ point that punitive justice in deity influences the same response and behavior in humanity- i.e. punitive justice.

Netflix has another good series out on the problems with Western criminal justice systems- i.e. “Unlocked: A jail experiment”. Listen to those prisoners stating bitterly that “they (the guards) treat us like animals”.

Yes, incarcerate repeatedly violent people but don’t treat them punitively like animals. They are human and respond better to being treated as humans. And additionally, humane treatment of failing others is how we also maintain our own humanity in the face of evil. We degrade and dehumanize our own selves by treating others inhumanely.

The Western orientation to punitive justice operates as a significant block to more humane treatment of criminal offenders. As a lead prison official at Attica said after agreeing that he would prefer the Danish restorative justice approach, but it would be very difficult to engage because “The American public wants punishment”.

Offended holiness (imbalanced eye for eye justice) demands cleansing of shame and restored honor.

This response to a friend in a discussion group who regularly defends the idea of apocalypse, Wendell Krossa

“___, you are trying to salvage the single greatest distortion of reality in history- apocalyptic. The idea of the cosmos, life, and the trajectory civilization declining toward something worse, toward collapse and catastrophic ending distorts the true state of these trajectories. There used to be a cosmic version of this- i.e. the heat-death of the universe but that has been challenged by the discovery of things like eternal cosmic expansion, along with increasing order and complexity. Julian Simon goes over Stephen Hawking’s waffling over the domination of the Second Law in the cosmos and life, in “Ultimate Resource”.

“Other physicists came forward years ago with good material on how the Second Law serves the greater purpose of creating more order. Note the physicists Huber and Mills on this in their books (“Bottomless Well”, etc.) arguing the Second Law is subservient to a greater trend in reality- the creation of more order, more advanced forms of order/organization/complexity.

“So with life on this planet- increasing organization and complexity. Then add Freeman Dyson’s points that if this planet does peter out, then we will by that time already be “Greening the Galaxy”, taking life to other younger planets in our galaxy.

“Its like Jared Diamond’s narrative of civilizations collapsing as the sole truth about civilization. But he misses the larger picture that human civilization overall, while individual societies collapse and disappear, the overall human venture has gone from strength to strength, advancing constantly to ever better states, till, as rightly states, today we are in the best time ever to be alive on Earth.

“The fallacy of apocalyptic distorts this fact and truth entirely. And Paul’s Christ myth is most responsible for fostering and promoting this fallacy of decline toward apocalypse in Western narratives and consciousness to horrifically damaging outcomes for the past 2 millennia. Time to let it go. We have a much better narrative today. And it started with Historical Jesus rejecting apocalyptic in his “Love your enemies because God does”. How so?

“The context. He stated there should be no more eye for eye retaliation. He based that ethic on his stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory God. He said, stop the eye for eye justice thing because God doesn’t do eye for eye. Instead, God gives sun and rain to all alike, both good and bad. So if God is non-retaliatory, then God will not engage the ultimate act of retaliation- an apocalyptic destruction of the world as the great payback punishment for human sinfulness. Kind of simple logic, eh.” Wendell Krossa

See also this article on the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It illustrates how apocalyptic mythology even permeates “science”.

“Life Need Not Ever End: New interpretations of the laws of thermodynamics suggest the infamous ‘heat death’ hypothesis, which foretells the end of all life and organization in the universe, might not hold”, Bobby Azarian, Feb. 28, 2023


“Bobby Azarian is a cognitive neuroscientist, a science journalist and the author of the book “The Romance of Reality: How the Universe Organizes Itself to Create Life, Consciousness and Cosmic Complexity.”

“Perhaps the most depressing scientific idea that has ever been put forth is the infamous “heat death hypothesis.” It is a theory about the future of the universe based on the second law of thermodynamics, which in its most well-known form states that entropy, a complicated and confusing term commonly understood to simply mean “disorder,” tends to increase over time in a closed system. Therefore, if we consider that the universe is itself a closed system, the law seems to suggest that the cosmos is becoming increasingly disorganized. It has also been described by many as “winding down.”

“As such, the second law appears to hold a chilling prophecy for humanity in the very long term. Essentially, it would seem to imply that life is doomed — not just life on Earth, but life anywhere in the cosmos. Consciousness, creativity, love — all of these things are destined to disappear as the universe becomes increasingly disordered and dissolves into entropy. Life would merely be a transient statistical fluctuation, one that will fade away, along with all dreams of our existence having some kind of eternal meaning, purpose or permanence. This bleak idea is known as the “heat death hypothesis,” and the prophecy foretells a future where all pattern and organization has ceased to be. In this cosmological model, everything must come to an end. There is simply no possibility for continual existence.

“Fortunately, the gloomiest theory of all time may just be a speculative assumption based on a misunderstanding of the second law of thermodynamics. For one thing, the law may not be applicable to the universe as a whole, because the types of systems on which it has been empirically tested have well-defined boundaries. The expanding universe does not. Secondly, depending on how one interprets the second law, the inevitable increase in entropy may not correspond to an increase in cosmic disorder.

“In fact, some leading scientists are beginning to think that the cosmos is becoming increasingly complex and organized over time as a result of the laws of physics and the evolutionary dynamics that emerge from them. Seth Lloyd, Eric Chaisson and Freeman Dyson are among the well-known names who have questioned whether “disorder” is increasing in the cosmos. Outside of physics, complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman, neuroscientist Christof Koch and Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil all believe that the universe is not destined to grow more disorganized forever, but more complex and rich with information. Many of them have a computational view of the universe, in which life plays a special role.

“As Paul Davies, a prolific author and a highly respected theoretical physicist, wrote: “We now see how it is possible for the universe to increase both organization and entropy at the same time. The optimistic and pessimistic arrows of time can coexist: The universe can display creative unidirectional progress even in the face of the second law.” In other words, if we understand the second law better, we can see that it does not actually prohibit the continual growth of complexity and order in nature.

“Essentially, the heat death hypothesis seems to imply that life is doomed — not just life on Earth, but life anywhere in the cosmos.”

“This is the cosmic narrative that the theoretical physicist and author Julian Barbour proposes in his new book “The Janus Point: A New Theory of Time,” which has received praise by some trusted names in the physics world, such as Martin Rees, Sean Carroll and Lee Smolin. Barbour believes that the second law — at least as it is popularly interpreted — does not apply to the universe as a whole, since it is always expanding due to the mysterious force known as dark energy. The old story of increasing cosmic disorder, Barbour concludes, may turn out to be the complete opposite of what is actually happening. Because the universe is not a bounded system, order can continue to increase indefinitely.

“Barbour is not alone. David Deutsch, the father of quantum computation, has expressed a similar view in his bestselling mindbender “The Beginning of Infinity,” in which he argues that there are no fundamental limits to knowledge creation. This is a much stronger claim than Barbour’s, because it specifically suggests that life in the universe need not come to an end.

“Life is a crucial part of the cosmic story because the growth of complexity and organization enters a new phase when biology emerges. Life is a special form of complexity: It has the ability to create more complexity and to maintain organization against the tendency toward disorder. In a universe expanding without limit, the ability of intelligent life to continually construct complex order may not be limited by the laws of thermodynamics in the way once imagined.

“This story of continual complexification would seem to go against the second law, a rock-solid pillar of physics. Remember, though, that both the first and second laws of thermodynamics were conceived before we knew the universe was expanding. To understand if these laws are applicable to the universe as a whole — and not just systems inside the universe — we must briefly explore the history of thermodynamics and understand its relationship with the phenomenon we call life….” (see full article at link above).

Thought provokers from Bob Brinsmead:

“Love that is not unconditional is not authentic love”.

“There are no really bad people, just bad ideas that lead people to do bad things”.

More of the “Best of Brinsmead”: Bob’s response to a fellow discussion group participant. This post by Bob tackles the issue of domination, the second of my “evil triad” of inherited animal impulses- i.e. (1) the impulses to tribalism (us versus them divisions), (2) domination (alpha control of weaker others), and (3) punitive destruction (extermination of competing others).

Bob Brinsmead: “___, this is a sensible article by Zarley. Thanks for sending it.

“Most good scholars would agree with Zaley that Paul does not call Jesus God. Zarley goes as far as to question whether Paul teaches his pre-existence. I have noted in the past that F.F. Bruce said he could not be sure if Paul taught that Jesus pre-existed, but I think Paul suggests it when he says that Christ was that Rock which followed Israel in the wilderness, and as God’s agent who slew thousands of those who were disobedient.

“I wish Zarley had commented on this passage in 2 Corinthians which suggests a pre-existence. I’ve also read a good Jewish scholar who says the belief that the Messiah pre-existed with God was held by some Jews. But biblically speaking, pre-existence can be ambivalent in that whom God foreknows already exists in the mind of God.

“But the important point is that what Paul’s Christology demonstrates clearly is that Christology was an evolving road. The road to the full Deity of Jesus was a 400-year road. Paul does not even suggest that Jesus was virgin born. Neither does the book of Mark which is a post-70 CE work. John does not need any virgin birth because he puts the origin of Jesus in the context of the eternal Logos. The virginity of Mary also was another evolving doctrine which took a long time to develop, including “the Immaculate Conception” which most Protestants would not know is about the parents of Mary and her birth.

“These were all part of a fermenting and developing Christology in a Greco-Roman culture. It was a long time after the first century before the Arian controversy arose. Arius proposed that the Sonship of Jesus meant that Christ was preceded by the Eternal Father. Athanasius argued that unless Christ was fully God and fully man, he could not redeem the race by bridging the gulf between God and man that was incurred by the Fall.

“Even with the Creed that settled that dispute, it took about another 400 years (according to Guthrie, a Jesuit scholar) to get Arianism defeated, and mainly by the kings of the Barbarian nations who one by one were converted to the Athanasian faith in this fashion: first the females of the king’s household would be converted by the subtlety of a bishop, and then the king would be won over by the females in his house. Then to please the ladies the king would decree that any Arian in his kingdom should be put to death. Christology was not only bathed in the blood of Christ, but in the blood of a lot of heretics too.

“I would suggest that the greatest mistake in this history was the first step of investing Jesus with the title of Christ. This was a title that Jesus not only rejected during his life, but excoriated it along with its apocalyptic expectations. The messianic expectation was contrary to the whole spirit of Jesus who repudiated the apocalyptic lust to reverse the dominion held by one’s enemies. That would include the apocalyptic hope of the book of Daniel that the dominion would be taken from “the beast” and given to the son of man, along with the saints.

“With Jesus, this whole concept of gaining dominion over others was anathema. He said that greatness consisted not in dominion but in servanthood. The greatest of all (God) is the servant of all who does not desire to have dominion over anybody. His kingdom is not a kingdom of coercion and monarchical dictatorship but a kingdom where all engage in freely serve others just like God does. The kingdom of love for all is a kingdom of freedom for all.

“When Jesus was on earth there were some who wanted to make him Messiah/King by force, but he would have none of it, because any son of God must do as God does. The temptation to possess dominion was, as Nolan points out in Jesus Before Christianity, one of the great temptations which Jesus resisted. Then how do we explain that within a short time after his death so many of his followers clothed him in a title he had resisted with such passion?

“There are now not a few Christian thinkers who realize that Christianity now finds itself saddled with all these titles and claims for a Christ of the church’s making – claims that make the religion about Christ appear triumphalist, arrogant, exclusive, intolerant, and not at all winsome in our present Global Village. In this situation the teachings of Jesus begin to look appealing, but the teaching of Christology looks appalling.”

Ah, I love clarity of thought and speech. Go Martin, go. And yes, this is about the fundamental divide in societies between elites and commoners/populists.

“Climate Change is Class Warfare”, Martin Durkin, April 18, 2024

Quotes (see full article at link above):

“The planet is boiling like a pan of porridge. We face the possible extinction of all life on earth. ‘Science’ says so. Anyone who questions it is a demonic scoundrel….

“Hmm. And yet, it is clear to anyone who has paid the slightest attention, that the tired, hysterical predictions of the climate alarmists (made repeatedly over four decades and based on their hypothetical computer-models) have proved to be spectacularly wrong, again and again and again. It does not take much digging (we have the internet these days) to discover that the outlandish claims of climate alarmists are flatly contradicted by lots and lots of perfectly good scientific evidence and data.

“We’re not talking here about fringe science put about by whackos. We’re talking about official data – mainstream science, published in respected journals. (Some of it is featured in my ‘climate-denier’ film, Climate: The Movie, available for free online).

“The world is not boiling. We are, as any geologist will tell you, in an ice age – one of the coldest periods in the last 500 million years. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is not unnaturally or frighteningly high. Compared to the last half billion years of earth’s history it is extremely low. And there is no evidence that changing levels of atmospheric CO2 (it has changed radically many times in the past) has ever ‘driven climate change’…. Hurricane activity is not increasing, nor are the number of wildfires, nor are the number of droughts, and so on and so on. This is what the official data say. You can look it up….

“The climate alarm is not supported by scientific evidence. It is supported by bullying, intimidation and the censorship of anyone who dares to question it. Climate catastrophism is politics, shamelessly dressed up as science….

“At any social gathering, you can pretty confidently predict who will think what about climate, by asking them about taxes and regulation. People who love the Big State can’t get enough of climate chaos. People who want lower taxes and less regulation will roll their eyes and say rude things about little Greta.

“Across the Western world, the state has grown enormously over the last century, vastly increasing the number of people whose livelihoods depend on state-spending, and whose jobs are related, directly or indirectly, to government control….

“We are, as more people are beginning to realise, engaged in a class war. On one side, the tax-consuming regulating class that feeds from taxation and bosses us about. On the other, the rest of us in the private sector, who rather resent paying taxes and being told what to do and how to live our lives.

“This is the real basis for the consensus on climate change…. This is not a small group of people. It is an entire class. It is, if you will, the ruling class. It controls our civil service, our schools and universities, large parts of our arts and science establishments and much of the media. It is an intolerant class, deeply aware of its own interests. The taboo that surrounds climate scepticism is a reflection of its power.”

Added note: Wendell Krossa

Its interesting to keep an eye on the persisting dualisms of our societies where a few persistently seek domination over others. The pathology of domination has been present from prehistory, whether in the age-old “big man/chief” of primitive societies dominating weaker members of the tribe, or in the lords, kings, nobles of the Middle Ages, dominating the rest- i.e. the peasant hordes. It is always this elites versus commoners divide.

The deep historical background to this societal dualism and division? The base tribalism impulse of small band of kin against other small bands of extended kin, whether in animal or early human societies. And further within larger groups you get more dualisms of all kinds, such as the class divisions of larger later historical societies.

Richard Landes (Heaven On Earth) notes that across history societies have been divided by basically between elites and commoners. Arther Herman (The Cave and the Light) shows the struggle between the two dominant approaches to organizing human societies from the Greeks on down- i.e. the approach of collectivism (Plato’s Ideals/Forms that should shape the ideal society) versus the approach oriented to the individual (more Aristotle’s approach).

I would offer that the divide between elites and commoners can be understood as elites embracing collectivism with its centralization of power and control. And commoners represented by the Classic Liberal approach that disperses power among competing individuals and institutions, protecting the freedom and rights of all equally, ensuring commoners have individual self-determination and control over their lives.

The struggle of mature humanity is to overcome these divides, learning to view all as equals in the one human family, no matter their position in society’s hierarchies, and especially within hierarchies to treat all as equals despite differing roles.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.