Topics in this section: The hardest saying ever- “Love your enemy” (It’s not about pacifism). De-fang the death monster. Transform and liberate the core of human consciousness with the unconditional ideal. A brief summary of the history of bad religious ideas. Blurb on environmental alarmism (Celebrate CO2- the food of all life). Post on stirring the dreaming impulse in young people (their essential goodness). Apocalyptic incites destructive salvationist responses (the relationship between fear and “defensive” aggression). An Independent taking a poke at Progressive intolerance.
See qualifiers just below that respond to the common tendency of many people to dismiss history’s hardest saying- “love your enemy”- as just too impractical to deal with evil. The qualifiers note the responsibility of love to restrain violence while acting restoratively toward all offenders. Remember, Nelson Mandela embraced “love your enemy” as the most practical approach for avoiding civil war in South Africa. It worked powerfully to spare that country the horrors of violence that were unleashed around the same time in Rwanda and Serbia where they abandoned love of enemy.
Bob Brinsmead: “There is only one kind of authentic love- unconditional. If love is not unconditional, then it is not authentic love”.
Post from online discussion group:
“Not to beat this to death but just a comment re ____’s struggle with “Love your enemy because God does”. This is the single most important statement ever made by any human. There is nothing comparable anywhere in human thought or writing.
“’Love your enemy’ points to the most important ethical standard ever discovered by humanity, the ideal that gets us to the authentic nature of love- the highest human ideal.
“’Love your enemy’ gives us the single most profound insight into theology and the unconditional reality that is God. And that means it is the single most important insight into human meaning and purpose, our primary impulses. Nothing else gets us closer to what it means to be human, to what is the purpose of the cosmos and this planet. It tells us that there is “universal no conditions love” at the core of all reality. And it tells us that God created this imperfect world as an arena where we come to learn unconditional love.
“Do not dismiss or downplay the importance of this one statement that is the real diamond in that Christian context that endlessly tries to undermine it with the religious themes of retaliatory and punitive violence (i.e. angry deity punishing human imperfection and demanding salvation conditions).
“Many try to dismiss ‘love your enemy’ as too impractical for real life, as too mushy, not manly enough, not “just” enough (not proper “payback justice”). Not good enough to deal with evil. Tell Nelson Mandela that.
“Better, wrestle with it, embrace it as the one thing that will get you closest to fulfilling the purpose for which you chose to come to this life. The one thing that will unlock all the great secrets or questions about life and reality.
“Love your enemy”.
Note: Our real enemy in life is within each of us- our inherited animal brain with its base impulses to tribal dualism (us versus others), to alpha domination of others, and to exclude and destroy the differing others. This inherited animal is the real monster that we face in life and must conquer. And we remember that we are not our brains. We are something much better. We are most essentially beings of love, in our core authentic human self.
Further posts from discussion group:
(Note: Someone in an online discussion group dismissed the statement of Jesus- “Love your enemy”- as too soft and feminine. It was not masculine enough to deal with violent attackers like ISIS. This person argued that the hard saying to love enemies was just too impractical for life in an often violent world. Our response is that love never abandons common sense. Love is responsible to restrain violence and to hold others responsible for their behavior. The real issue here is how we maintain our own humanity in the face of inhumanity from others. How do we create and engage something better than the endless downward cycles of payback vengeance that render us all petty and infantile, and that have deformed human existence.)
My comment on this line of discussion…
“Interesting back and forth here, ____. In one sense this comment is typical of much response to history’s “hardest saying”. Many view “love your enemy” as a call to impractical pacifism. That’s why, in my summaries of Matt.5 and Luke 6, I leave out the following statement to “turn the other cheek”, as it only affirms the incorrect assumption that this passage is teaching pacifism. Too many people conclude that “love your enemy” means lying down and singing Kumbayah in the face of violence like ISIS. They conclude that “love your enemy” is useless for dealing with violent people and human brutality.
“We need to formulate new presentations of the spirit and application of “love the enemy”, with added qualifiers that include the responsibility of love to restrain evil and to protect the innocent, while doing so with restorative intent and approach. Look at our human rights codes today that hold us to the standard of treating prisoners of war humanely.
“And note the historical examples of General Grant treating the Confederates with mercy and restorative justice after the Civil War (Lincoln- “Malice toward none. Charity toward all”). Or McArthur treating the Japanese restoratively after the horrors of WW2. So also the Allies in Germany.
“Many today understand that “love your enemy” is a baseline definition of authentic love and they practice it in diverse ways. Remember Nelson Mandela practicing his own version of “love your enemy” in South Africa and thereby sparing that country the horrors of civil war.
Post from Bob Brinsmead re this line of discussion:
“There are times when a parent must intervene to discipline a child, to arrest a spiral of bad behaviour. But it makes all the difference whether the parent does this by flying into an uncontrolled act of retaliation to assuage frustration and anger, or if it is done for the long term benefit of the child. I might also point out that in most civilized countries of the world, such as Australia and most of Europe, the death penalty is never imposed with even the worst of criminals.
“A few years ago, for instance, Norway did not impose the death penalty on one of the worst mass murderers in history. He is still in prison and recently took the prison authorities to court on the grounds of inhumane treatment. The Court of Justice upheld his appeal.
“All these things such as the humane treatment of prisoners of war, the humane treatment of prison inmates irrespective of their crimes, the rejection of capital punishment out of respect for all human life, is what we might call the exercise of “political love.” Great thought leaders like Martin Luther King had a lot to say about the exercise of political love. It is a political and civil exercise in unconditional respect for human life. That is the term used by Harold Ellens.
“Yet the Australian authorities, that will not execute any criminal or prisoners of war, will at the same time send soldiers overseas to kill Taliban insurgents – or ISIS, or in the case of World War 2, Nazis. This is not a contradiction of the principle of “political love.”
“There are occasions when a rampant murderer might have to be killed as clearly the lesser evil measured against having more people killed. But if he is captured alive, the law demands that he be treated humanely. If he is hungry he must be fed. If he is sick or wounded, he must be given medical attention (i.e. like the Boston bomber). And he must not be executed out of respect and reverence for human life.
“This raises the interesting theological/ethical question of whether these human standards are higher than what the Bible sometimes imputes to God. Does the biblical God behave as well as humans? E.g.- Australia has not executed the Port Arthur mass murderer of about 20 years ago. It will not execute him even if he lives 100 years. Is your biblical God as good as that? Our prison rehabilitation program may not succeed in reforming some prisoners, but it does not cease to try on that account. Does God give up on some rebels, or will Robert Thomson’s “Hound of Heaven” eventually succeed?” (end of Brinsmead quote)
Another post (W. Krossa again):
“Like Jefferson and Tolstoy, I would pull the diamonds out of their religious/biblical context (Matthew 5-7, Luke 6) and restate them this way: “Love your enemy unconditionally because God does. While at the same time restraining bad behavior (violence). Treat your offender with restorative intent and justice (sun and rain generously given to all alike, both good and bad). And do not judge/condemn others for their imperfections (i.e. the specks in their eyes) but remember your own faults (i.e. the beams in your eye).”
“I am with you here- that our greatest enemy is within us. Our real enemy is our inherited animal brain and animal impulses to tribal dualism, domination of others, and the exclusion and destruction of others. That is the real monster that we all face in life and must conquer. Richard Gere tried to make a similar point just after 9/11 (i.e. the real enemy was the tendency to violence that is in all of us) and was booed by the New York crowd that felt he was being too mushy and conciliatory toward the Islamic enemy. They wanted payback. He was being too Buddhist and feminine.”
“My being baffle-gabbed over all this, is about perplexity at not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Why not hold a view of God as transcendently unconditional, yet recognize that in this imperfect world, love is responsible to restrain bad behavior and encourage responsibility in others. Yet holding “unconditional respect” for all people while doing so. We know that our ideals shape the direction that we take and the approaches that we use with others. The ideal of unconditional love pushes us toward more restorative intent and applications.
“Unconditional respect for all” as per Harold Ellens may be more helpful in expressing this. “Unconditional grace” was another term that he used.
“Re your comment on “love your enemy” and your feeling that we are ‘ripping it out of context…invoking it as a universal absolute for all occasions.’
“Not at all. The point that Bob and I have made many times before- we are all responsible to maintain our humanity toward others in all situations, even as we restrain violence and ensure the safety of others (just war, imprisonment of repeatedly violent people, and so on). Why these distinctions are so hard to grasp puzzles me. As Bob says, there is only one kind of authentic love- unconditional or universal love.
“Look at Gen. McArthur treating the Japanese restoratively after the war, bringing Japan back into the world community. We have many such examples in just our lifetimes. People in diverse ways “loving some enemy”.
“Love your enemy” was the most powerful corrective ever offered to counter a long history of ‘eye for eye’ retaliatory violence. It has had an immensely humanizing impact on humanity since. Look at how it has moderated Christian violence over history. It still inspires all sorts of people to be and do better.”
“Again, it’s about corrective balance. We have emerged out of a more violent past where eye for eye dominated human relating and the studies on violence show this (Payne, Pinker). So as humanity matures across history we see a movement more in the direction of unconditional treatment of one another. This is the point of the “love your enemy” comments. About a humane ideal that takes us all in a better direction, gradually over history, just as humanity has been doing. This is something to celebrate, and not deride as some sort of pathology.”
De-fanging the Death Monster
Humanity’s greatest fear has always been the fear of death. Ernest Becker outlined this in his famous book ‘The Denial of Death’. Most of us recognize that we have to face this monster head on and find some way to conquer it, some way to alleviate the sting of its inevitable threat to life. We do this in order to live a life free of debilitating fear. It does not work to just deny its presence as the concluding fact of every life.
How to de-fang the monster? First, I hold a “spiritual” view of life and reality. Not religious, but spiritual. A critical distinction. My “spiritual” is informed by all sorts of things, from quantum mechanics, brain/mind research, consciousness research, Near-Death Experience research, and the good insights from across history. Something like what Dr. Pim Van Lommel covered in ‘Consciousness Beyond Life’.
And to the contrary, I have purged my thinking of bad religious ideas that have long exacerbated the human death fear.
Religious beliefs across the millennia have intensified natural human fear of death with horrifically terrorizing myths of after-life harm, of an angry God threatening judgment, condemnation, exclusion, punishment, and destruction (Hell). Take this for a starter- there is no such thing as Hell. That is the perverse product of over-heated religious minds filled with hate for the “evil other” that differs from them. And there no such reality as angry deity threatening judgment, exclusion of anyone, or ultimate destruction. There never has been any such reality. We now know the original fail in early logic that arrived at such perverse mythical conclusions (i.e. that natural disaster, disease, and accident were expressions of angry gods punishing human sins).
We now have the stunning insight that behind life there is an inexpressible Love at the core of all. Death is the liberation into that Love and Light. As numbers of NDErs tell us, death was the best thing that ever happened to them. It was something entirely different from what their religions had taught them to expect. Many of them report that, having experienced an infinite Love, they no longer fear death.
The point? All are safe in the end, safe in an incomprehensible unconditional love. We all come from love, we exist in love every moment of our lives, and we all return to love in the end. This insight blows all bad religious ideas right out of the water. It is a loud shout out to everyone, to not fear death.
OK, but what about the preliminaries, the dying process? Leonard Cohen used to quote his friend Irving Layton who said this about death and the dying process, “One hopes that the preliminaries will not be too uncomfortable”. Cohen was responding to someone who asked him what he thought about death. He replied that he was not afraid of death itself but held the same concerns that we all have about the dying process- the preliminaries. We all hope that it will not be uncomfortable.
Doctors now re-assure us that with modern medicine they can moderate pain successfully and relieve most discomfort in those dying. I watched my father die in a hospice and saw the pain moderation medicine grant him a surprisingly “not uncomfortable” dying process. I hope to be so fortunate also but I realize that not all achieve the same comfort. This is why modern right-to-die freedoms are another critical option here.
Further, the NDE people offer some other helpful insights here. They say that family members watching someone die actually suffer more than the dying person. The family may feel distress at what they observe the dying person going through. But people who come back from death say that while their body showed signs of suffering, they had already left that body and were in a place of great peace, love, and bliss. They say that they even tried to communicate to watching family members that they were fine and not suffering pain or distress.
This insight can offer relief to those who have lost a loved one to some horrific accident or violent event. I think of the Swiss researcher who found that many who suffered catastrophic falls while mountain climbing recounted later that they had left their bodies during the fall and did not experience the final painful ending. Others say similar things about drowning, that after some initial panic they were engulfed in peace and bliss, on leaving their bodies.
These insights are for those who can accept them. My conclusion- take comfort where you can find it. We have a lot to work with today. I view the NDE movement as a loving Father re-assuring his frightened children that everything will be alright in the end.
And if it is not alright, then it is not yet the end (this last bit is borrowed from Bob Brinsmead).
(We never minimize human trauma and suffering. Common empathy enables us to feel intensely all suffering. But the human impulse for meaning then pushes us to orient our consciousness to finding hope and meaning in greater reality, in ultimate Love.)
The imperfection of life, and at times the outright horror from natural disaster and human brutality, can traumatize and overwhelm sensitive human spirits. But ultimately everything will be all right because there is an incomprehensible and transcendent Love at the core of reality. An absolutely no conditions Love.
Unconditional love redefines entirely our understanding of Ultimate Reality and the meaning of all things. It overturns the entire complex of pathological ideas that we have inherited from conditional mythologies and conditional religions (i.e. how to appease and please deity or karma, how to meet the conditions for some salvation scheme). World religions, both Eastern and Western traditions, have never communicated to humanity the true nature of ultimate reality as unconditional love.
The “threat theology” of world religions (i.e. judging, punishing, destroying gods), and their salvation conditions, has long darkened human consciousness with the unnecessary psychic burden of fear, guilt, shame, obligation, and anxiety. There has never been any angry, retributive deity that people must appease or please. The best “spiritual” insight today recognizes that there has always been only “no conditions Love” at the core of reality and life.
That core Love has incarnated in all humanity, in the common human spirit, and expresses itself in all diverse human goodness. Contrary to religious mythology, we are not essentially fallen, corrupt, or sinful beings. Yes, we have inherited an animal brain, and a long past in animal existence, with the base impulses to tribal dualism (us versus differing others), alpha domination of others, and the tribal exclusion and destruction of some competing other. But critical to recognize here- We are not our brains. We are not our animal past. We are most essentially love. This is the true nature of our authentic human self.
Our essential human nature as love is evident in the gradual improvement of humanity across history. Note the amazing decline in violence over our history (see, for example, the research of James Payne and Stephen Pinker). Note our successful endeavors to make life something better. As Julian Simon said in Ultimate Resource, in net terms we are more creators than destroyers. Media, oriented to the aberrational dark side of life and to disaster, do little to enlighten the public regarding this long-term improving trajectory of life.
(See also David Altheide’s Creating Fear: News and the manufacture of crisis. News media, says Altheide, are not truth-tellers but entertainers competing with the rest of the entertainment industry. What dominates entertainment? Apocalyptic decline and disaster.)
Look at the main indicators of the true state of life. Today we live longer, we are healthier and wealthier, and we continue to improve our world. This is not to deny that problems still exist all over the world. There is a huge ‘Duh’ hanging over this recognition- the world is still imperfect. But there is no evidence of an overall decline of life toward some looming disaster and collapse. Apocalyptic mythology has always been a great lie. Overall, life has been improving across the millennia.
And most important to recognize in the face of today’s environmental alarmism, CO2 and warmer temperatures are not a threat to the world, but instead, bring an immense benefit to life. See, for instance, “Celebrating CO2” by Patrick Moore.
We are all members of the one human family and we all return to the same unconditional Love in the end, after our stories have been completed here. This unconditional ideal redefines human meaning and purpose. It tells us that our stories are most essentially about learning what love means, and how to express our core nature as love, notably as embodiments of unconditional love. We mature as human persons when we orient our lives to universal love (Joseph Campbell- see his outline of human story just below).
This site probes the bad ideas that cloud our understanding of unconditional reality, bad ideas that incite too much bad thinking and bad behavior- i.e. tribal dualism (true believers versus unbelievers), domination of others (human subservience to alpha gods, alpha priesthoods, and alpha power-holders in business and government institutions), and the exclusion and destruction of differing others (us versus some “evil” enemy that must be destroyed in apocalypse and hell). We are something much better than all this.
Note: I embrace unconditional as the defining feature of deity in spite of the offense that it causes to conventional understanding of justice as some form of payback. This site treats thoroughly the issue of natural/social consequences to behavior and the responsibility of love to restrain bad behavior while maintaining a restorative attitude toward all human failure.
Some big picture issues
The same complex of ideas has been behind incalculable violence across history- i.e. the apocalyptic millennial template, both in its religious versions, and more historically recent “secular” or ideological versions. Apocalyptic millennial themes have long incited, guided, and validated mass-death movements. This has to do with the belief/behavior relationship. This relationship is at its worst when people use bad religious ideas (notably, inhumane versions of deity) to validate their inherited animal impulses. I am talking about the animal/sacred relationship.
This site probes the larger and long-term picture and the great background themes that have long shaped human systems of thought/belief, worldviews, and life. There are all sorts of questions about possible relationships between things (correlations). For instance, there is endless promotion of alarm over the claimed decline and potential collapse and ending of life. What impact does this have on populations? Some have pointed to links between fear and addiction issues (i.e. opioid crisis). Arthur Herman says that the despair-generating ideology of Declinism (i.e. life is declining toward disaster and collapse) has become “arguably the single most dominant and influential theme in culture and politics in the twentieth century”. What might be the possible relationship of Declinism to depression as the number one illness across the world? And what about the relationship between fear and aggression?
Consider these background apocalyptic millennial themes, still dominant in our religions and ideologies, and how they might impact public consciousness and life.
History of Bad Ideas
It all began with The Original Error, actually a two-part error in early logic.
The two worst of all bad ideas were that of “punitive deity” and the related myth of “essential human badness” that deserved punishment, with ultimate punishment in apocalypse and Hell. These two were combined in the myth of “angry gods punishing bad people”. These two bad ideas then formed the foundational theme of most ancient mythology, then subsequent world religions (the salvation industry), and have now found expression in “secular” versions of the modern era, like 19th Century Declinism and environmental alarmism (i.e. vengeful Gaia or angry planet punishing corrupt, greedy humanity).
The critical issue with bad religious ideas- they incite and validate our worst inherited animal impulses, the impulses to tribal dualism (believers versus unbelievers), to alpha domination of others, and to exclude and destroy the competing other (the “evil other”, the unbeliever).
The Great Correction
The Great Correction was the insight that the central ideal in the human search for meaning, i.e. Ultimate Reality or God, was not punitive, but was love, and love of an incomprehensible nature- absolutely no conditions. This was a stunning new understanding of humanity’s highest ideal and authority- deity. Corollary to this: the related insight that people are essentially good, and not fallen, corrupt, or sinful. Yes, humanity has an inherited animal brain that emotes base impulses. But we are not our brains. We are something much better.
The discovery of Love at the core of all reality liberates consciousness entirely from ultimate fears and concerns- i.e. fears of ultimate after-life harm. And Love at the core of reality liberates us from one of history’s most oppressive beliefs- that the bad things that happen in life (i.e. accidents, natural disaster, disease, tragedy, cruelty of others) are some form of punishment from deity or karma.
The discovery of no conditions Love at the core of reality was subsequently buried in religions like Christianity with its demand for a supreme condition to be met- the sacrifice of a god-man to pay for sin (see, for example, Paul’s letter to the Romans). Historical Jesus research offers some detail on the contradictions between Historical Jesus and conditional religion (i.e. sacrifice or salvation conditions). Note for example, James Robinson’s work on “the stunning new non-retaliatory theology of Jesus” as contrasted with later Christian retaliatory theology.
There are diverse motivating influences behind bad behavior, whether personal, social, political, economic, or other. But religion has always played a prominent role in providing ultimate ideals to meaning-seeking, purpose-seeking humans. Our great religious traditions have provided both good and bad ideas to inspire, guide, incite, or validate human behavior. The result of holding bad ideas with good ideals has been “cognitive dissonance” in religion (see Zenon Lotufo’s Cruel God, Kind God). Some of the bad themes that have long dominated religion have now been given “secular” expression in contemporary ideologies. Terms have changed, but core themes have remained the same.
This site argues that the human future lies with unconditional. Joseph Campbell used the term “universal love”. Unlimited love is another related term. Unconditional redefines Ultimate Reality entirely. It purges humanity’s highest ideal and authority- God- of all the base features that have accreted on deity from past mythology and religion. It sets a new standard for human meaning and life. It is the supreme understanding of the great human ideal of love. Unconditional takes love to its most humane expression.
Insert on apocalyptic millennialism (the core bad ideas)
Apocalyptic millennialism plays on two fundamental human emotions- fear and hope. Apocalyptic incites fear of looming disaster and millennialism inspires hope for salvation into paradise. But millennial hope is a perverse form of hope based on the expected destruction of your enemies as essential to achieving your utopia. It is more humane to ground hope on universal or unconditional love.
Post from discussion group:
“The question is not so much this minor aberrational badness in humanity but the more general human goodness. The insight that at core we are all beings of love and light, our most essential self as human spirits.
“So the question- how to touch that, to inspire it to break forth. How to help young people make that transition to mature adults, to incite them to make their unique contribution to making life better. How to help them orient themselves to universal love and thereby tower in stature, to become the hero of their story.
“It is about stirring the dreaming ability in young people- to help them believe they are essentially good and they came to life to learn love, to help spread love in life, and to do whatever interests them in diverse ways to making life better. Think Borlaug, Mandela, creating companies and jobs for others, peace-making diplomacy, all sorts of arenas for human creativity in medicine, agriculture, sports/entertainment, trades, service industry, engineering, science, and on and on. All the diversity that is humanity and life.
“But that basic idea of making some positive contribution to life, to make life better. That they have some unique personal mission or purpose in all this. That only they can make.
“And encourage them that goodness is generally succeeding in life. Life is now better than at any time before in history (medically, economically, peace-wise, and so on). Julian Simon (Ultimate Resource), among others, has detailed the improving trajectory of life.
“We are here to contribute to making life better for ourselves and others. So tell young people to get as much education and training as they can. Then earn as much money as they can. The simple fact is that more wealth enables you to do more good. Then tell them to do as much good as they can in the area of their interest. They should add their own unique contribution to life in whatever areas. Tell them- go into life, be good and do good to as many people as they can.”
Blurb on environment (Collusion issues? How about the collusion between environmental alarmists and alarmist media?)
Environmental alarmists have been terrorizing public consciousness for decades with the two-part apocalyptic scenario that warmer temperatures and rising CO2 levels are going to cause some great catastrophic collapse and ending to life. Pardon my French but this is upside down nonsense. In net terms, warmer climate with more basic plant food (CO2) is immensely beneficial to life (see for instance, the Introductory Statement to the Protest Petition of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine).
We have been in an “ice-age era” these past millions of years. Temperatures and CO2 levels have been abnormally low, and plant life has been stressed with the pre-industrial CO2 levels that were below 300 ppm. Now, with the slight rise of CO2 to above 400 ppm, plant life has rebounded with a 14% increase in plant productivity since 1980. The world is greener today. Healthier. The biosphere is more robust. More CO2 is a great benefit to life because atmospheric CO2 is the primary food of all plant life. It is not a pollutant or poison. More CO2 is not threatening some apocalypse. We do not need a “war on carbon” (Richard Branson), which is to say- a war on life itself.
Good science has shown that while CO2 has a warming effect, this influence is overwhelmed by other natural influences on climate such as the three-way cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, and the ocean/atmospheric coupling. These natural elements show stronger correlations to the recent climate change that we have seen.
The point? Given the current uncertainty in climate science as to the human contribution, you cannot demand that people stop using fossil fuels and hope to adjust some CO2 climate knob and control climate. The alarmist salvation schemes are costing humanity trillions of dollars of lost growth and harming the poorest people the most, without making any discernible impact on climate.
Historians have made the stunning discovery that the same set of bad ideas- “apocalyptic millennialism”- has been behind much bad behavior over history. This includes the long history of religious violence, and the more recent violence of secular mass-death movements in the Twentieth Century.
These apocalyptic millennial ideas have shaped most religion across history. This template of ideas continues to dominate public consciousness today in varied human ideologies and worldviews including materialist/atheist worldviews. Arthur Mendel has summarized the devastating outcomes of these ideas in stating that “apocalyptic millennialism has been the most violent and destructive force in history”.
Keep in mind the relationship between fear and anger/rage. Apocalyptic alarmism has always incited fear and aggressive “defense” against proposed threats. The outcome has often been salvation programs that have caused immense harm to many others.
Apocalyptic millennialism was “secularized” in 19th Century Declinism (the most dominant ideology across the world today), and then became the inciting force behind Marxism, Nazism, and environmental alarmism. Note that Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative led to the consequent deaths of tens of millions of people. That harm continues with the anti-fossil fuel movement and the consequent fuel poverty in places like Britain.
This site offers a potent response that goes to the root of the problem of bad ideas to overturn the apocalyptic millennial template entirely and offer a new centering ideal, an authentically humane ideal that inspires the best of the human spirit. The unconditional alternative deals with the fundamental human impulse for meaning as it relates to “spiritual” realities.
Note on Progressive intolerance: The comment just below comes from my position as a fierce “Independent” (float like a butterfly, take nectar wherever you find it, then move on). Both sides in our great social divides (i.e. Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative) have beneficial things to offer life. But both sides also have disturbing tendencies that need watching. One important concern today is the growing intolerance evident in Progressivism.
Note that contemporary Progressivism is the latest expression of historical collectivism (i.e. variously known as Socialism, Leftism, or modern Liberalism). Arthur Herman in ‘The Cave and the Light’ traces the descending history of the collectivist and the individual models, down from Plato and Aristotle to today’s world.
Collectivist movements have always tended toward central control approaches for organizing human society. Today central control is effected through excessive taxation policies and regulation.
Progressives instinctively react to individualism as more about selfishness and greed, hence they believe that individuals need to be controlled for their own good, and for the “greater good” or common good. This view of individualism as being more about selfishness and greed gives the Progressive the sense of holding a morally superior position compared to the individual orientation of alternative approaches.
But central control approaches have always had problems with concentrating power and thereby unleashing the totalitarian impulse in societies, even though an “unintended consequence”. The growing intolerance of contemporary Progressivism has been evident in recent Leftist opposition to alternative viewpoints or approaches (i.e. violent opposition on college campuses to alternative expression, and also violent opposition on streets to alternative views). Intolerant central control is an ongoing threat to freedom.
It is disturbing to see in recent polls that one in five young people today believe it is OK to use violence to shut down those that disagree with them.
We also see this Progressive intolerance toward alternative views in the environmental alarmist movement. Recall the recent (2016) effort by the US Attorney General to criminalize skeptical climate science, and the call by alarmists (e.g. Hansen, Suzuki) to imprison energy company CEOs. Also, note the general media favoring of alarmist science over skeptical science.
These are worrying trends emerging from contemporary Progressivism.
Quote from below: How apocalyptic became “the most violent and destructive force in history” (Mendel).
Apocalyptic mythology incites a variety of responses. It incites the fear of looming destruction, and the consequent felt need for “defensive survival” responses in order to eliminate the threat that is believed to be behind some prophesied collapse and destruction.
We saw the Nazis argue that the Jews presented an apocalyptic threat to the Aryan race in Germany and therefore that threat had to be eliminated in order to “save Germany”. We saw Rachel Carson present the same narrative of looming apocalypse in terms of threatening chemicals like DDT. The consequence of her alarmism was the unnecessary death of tens of millions of people that were denied the protection of DDT.
(For historical detail on how apocalyptic millennialism has incited mass-death movements see research of Arthur Herman- The Idea of Decline; Richard Landes- Heaven on Earth; Arthur Mendel- Vision and Violence; and David Redles- Hitler’s Millennial Reich: apocalypse and the search for salvation.)
Environmental alarmists continue to incite fear of looming apocalyptic destruction from industrial civilization and its fossil fuels. They insist that we must “save the world” from fossil fuels by slowing industrial civilization, and we must radically alter the energy sources of our civilization. This is costing humanity trillions of dollars from lost development and failed renewable schemes. See Global Warming Policy Foundation reports online.
Apocalyptic also incites the felt need to encourage or induce an apocalypse in order to purge some evil threat from the world (i.e. the use of “coercive purification” to purge evil, Richard Landes). We must purge some corrupting thing, some old corrupting order (i.e. industrial civilization) so that the world can be saved and we can then restore the lost paradise, or install a new utopia, a more perfect world (our hoped-for millennium).
And this brings up the issue of “cataclysmic” versus “gradualistic” approaches to life (see comment on Mendel below). Apocalyptic has often incited the impatient millennialist hope for cataclysmic or instantaneous change, and the inevitable violence that is necessary to bring this drastic change about (again, coercive purification).
Apocalyptic thinking exhibits the unhealthy desire of Gnostic escapism- to escape this imperfect world, to escape from the gradual and slow historical processes of change, to escape from the imperfection of life into some immediately-established perfect world (utopianism).