Pursuit of Percipience

the blog that nobody reads which I write to silence the voices in my head

Tag: history

Informalities and Frivolties

My dad used Old Spice. He also grew up in WW2 Germany and emigrated to Canada alone when he was sixteen. He started up his own business after dropping out of high school, got married, and had kids.

He grew up in a time when the formal and the informal had their proper places. The informal stems from the formal, and the formal is foundational. We don’t always want to live in formal mode — life would be too serious then. We want to be able to lighten things up a bit in our day to day lives. I don’t want to call my dad “father” all the time; I want to call him dad or papa most of the time. However, my ability to call my dad “dad” rests on the fact that first I call him “father”.

These days in the west, informality, and thus frivolity, have taken over. The foundation of the formal is crumbling and no one takes life seriously enough. (No one, that is, except the revolutionaries we see yelling and screaming at the universities. But they too have no formal foundation to build upon.) Even a product like Old Spice has to embrace the shallow video game culture in order to sell….

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Old Spice deodorant

I suppose the West will have to create a new formal foundation before it can mature to its next stage of development.

Further reading: Fatherlessness and the Rise of the Shaving Industry

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There’s No Going Back

Once a person, or a group of persons, enters into a covenant with Jesus, there are only two paths forward: progressing from glory to glory, or progressing to become something worse than what you were before entering the covenant. One path that is not available is to go back to a previous stage of development.

Today in the West, Christian morality has become an autoimmune disease. Whereas is the past, Christian morality was a cure to the disease of sin, now that same morality is being used to justify all kinds of destructive and evil ideologies.

The way forward now is not to try and get back to the days when people respected Christian beliefs, although did not believe themselves. The way forward now is either to become something worse than we were before ever hearing of Christianity, or to move on to a more glorious state. To move on to a more glorious state requires a newer and stronger dedication to Jesus. Will it happen? Is it too late?

The Age of Empires

empire

The Fate of Empires written in 1978 by Sir John Glubb (1897-1986) is an illuminating essay on the life cycle of empires, which turn out to be very much the same for different empires around the world and through the centuries.

You can read the essay for yourself here, and I highly recommend that you do. But in this article I will try to give you a brief overview of what Glubb writes.

First, Glubb argues that the life span of empires tend to be the same: about 250 years, or ten generations (if a generation is considered to be 25 years)….

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Each empire seems to progress through four main stages: 1) The Age of Outburst/Pioneering/Conquest; 2) The Age of Affluence; 3) The Age of Intellect; 4) The Age of Decadence.*

First, in the Age of Outburst, often a group of hard working, aggressive people, who are not in any strong position of power already, rise up and take control. Perhaps they move in and take the power over from an older empire which is far along into its decadence stage, or perhaps they move in on a less developed culture and dominate it. This age is characterized by exploring men with fearless initiative and military conquest of older orders.

Second, there is commercial expansion ushering in the Age of Affluence. With one power controlling many sections of land comes ease of travel, common currency, common language, law and order — all of which allow people to trade extensively. If the empire is large, it will cover several different cultures in different climates making available many various goods to consumers all over the empire. Great wealth grows during this age.

Third is the Age of Intellect. With affluence comes a decline in “courage, enterprise, and a sense of duty … [and] the first direction in which wealth injures the nation is a moral one.” (Glubb) The general outlook of the citizens of the empire move from one of service to one of selfishness. While the Age of Intellect creates advances in science and technology, and while it also creates a culture of reason, debate, and argument, it also leads to division in the empire as the common good obvious in the previous ages becomes muddied in the endless chatter of the intellectuals. While the problems created by the selfish culture can only be solved by renewed selfless service, the intellectuals believe they can solve the problems with their new ideas. It doesn’t work and the culture weakens and loses self-esteem.

When the system holding the empire begins to degrade, the empire enters its final stage: Decadence. The people have lost sight of why the empire should even exist and have little to no desire to preserve it. Glubb gives some signs which show an empire has entered this last stage: civil dissension, an influx of foreigners (who do not conform to the host culture), frivolity, a decline in religious belief and morals, and a welfare state. The heroes of the first ages of the empire, warriors and leaders, are replaced by pop-stars and celebrity chefs. Glubb also points out that in the age of decline more and more women want to enter into positions of power previously only held by men. He doesn’t go into why, but it is interesting to point out. (A confusion of gender seems to be a factor in the Decadence stage.)

Glubb asks the important question: Can we learn from history? His answer is yes, if we actually study it — if we actually study world history instead of only our own empire’s history. Only when we learn to prevent the Age of Decadence by not becoming selfish and lazy in the Age of Affluence can we hope to break through the continuing fate of empires.

Further reading…

First Things: Camille Paglia’s Teaching

The Case Against Western Civilization by James B. Jordan

You can also watch a fairly lengthy video on the fall of the Roman Empire by Stefan Molyneux here.

I also highly recommend James B. Jordan’s book Crisis, Opportunity, and the Christian Future

*Glubb divides the life span of the empire into six stages: 1) Pioneers; 2) Conquest; 3) Commerce; 4) Affluence; 5) Intellect; 6) Decadence. I’ve compressed it to four for the sake of simplicity.

The Art of the Argument (Brief Book Review)

The Argument favours the intelligent, the prepared, the resourceful, the courageous, and the well-trained. The Argument rewards intellectual and moral virtues of every kind. The Argument promotes the most civil to the highest reaches of influence in society, and demotes fools and bullies to the basement of irrelevance.
~Stefan Molyneux

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The Art of the Argument, written by Stefan Molyneux, is a primer on logic, reason, and debate. The book is primarily written for today’s younger generation — those who belong to the “snowflake” generation — but it is good for all ages and all who do not know how to argue without relying on emotion and subjectivism.

So, if you’ve ever heard someone say, “Hate speech is not free speech,” or you have said that yourself, allow Stefan to explain to you why free speech is essential for any civilized world, because without the ability to openly discuss our differences and problems, we can only resort to violence.

Molyneux gives many examples of how to present a logical and objective argument — not in order to defeat an opponent, but rather to discover the truth. “The Argument is beholden to a third party – the truth.” (Location 1530 on Kindle)

I can recommend this book if you enjoy debate and see a need to speak out against the attack on free speech rising in the west today.

I gave it 4/5 stars.

In the Fullness of Time

hourglassBut when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
~Galatians 4:4-5 (NKJV)

Why couldn’t have Jesus been born to one of Eve’s virgin daughters?

Why did God “fumble” around with Israel for hundreds of years before finally sending the One person who could save humanity from its fallenness?

One answer that could be correct is that God wanted humanity to mature to a certain point before sending Jesus.

When Jesus did come, there were two important things that had happened by that time: 1) The Roman Empire had advanced to the furthest point humanity could ever hope to advance to without Jesus; 2) Israel had regressed to the lowest state it could ever regress to thus completely disqualifying them of their God given purpose in the world.

Let’s start with Israel. Israel was a kingdom of priests to the nations; to act as mediators between God and the world. Just as original humanity was created to image God to creation in wise stewardship, and image creation to God in thankful worship, so Israel was created to image God to the nations and the nations to God. When they followed that purpose they were at peace with the nations, but when they rebelled against it, they were at war with the nations.

The number one issue which turned the Israelites away from their calling was the worship of the gentile gods. Read through 1 & 2 Kings and see the pattern: Israel worshipped false gods, there was a time of discipline from God, there was repentance, things got better. Finally, God had enough and sent Israel into exile. If they weren’t going to fulfill their calling, they would lose their nation and position as mediators. The exile was temporary and Israel was later allowed to go back to Jerusalem, rebuild the city and the temple.

Notice, when reading the Old Testament, the Israelites didn’t deal with demons at all. Elijah didn’t go around casting out unclean spirits from individuals. The war was with the false gods.* However, when Jesus came onto the scene, there were demons everywhere, and Jesus never had to rebuke the Jews for their worship of Baal. This is illustrated in the parable found in Luke 11:24-26….

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (NKJV)

The Israelites were purged of their gentile god worship in the exile, and never fell into that again. But, by the time Jesus came, the Jewish people had fallen into something worse: they made their own religion into a false god. No longer were they acting as mediators between God and man, leading gentiles to salvation — now they were actively keeping people out of the kingdom through their false interpretation of their covenant with God (see Matthew 23:15). They couldn’t have made a more heinous mistake, and were worse off then than before the exile.

When reading Daniel 2 & 7 and Revelation 13, it can be seen that the Roman Empire was a conglomeration of the three empires which came before: Babylon, Persia, and Greece. After Babylon fell, Jerusalem and Judah became the spiritual heart (the Holy Land) of those empires. Israel was no longer a sovereign nation, but as far as God’s calling for the Jews was concerned, what came after the exile was more glorious than what was there before (see Jeremiah 31:31-40 and Zechariah 2:1-13).

The Roman Empire was the furthest development of those empires; it was the combined strength and wisdom of the greatest societies that existed before the rule of Jesus. Where was humanity to go from there but downward? It was time for the true King of the world to come and take His place. That is illustrated in Daniel 2 & 7 — the kingdom of God comes and crushes the old empires and consumes the world.

It is somewhat of a mystery** as to why God would want humanity to progress to a certain point before acting. That is true for our own personal lives as well. If God would act sooner, things would get better quicker, right? But, if humanity was created to grow and mature over time, then this action of God makes sense, to a certain degree anyway. Children don’t always understand the actions of their parents, at least not until they’re old enough to do so.

We must trust that in the fullness of time, or when the time is right, God will act, and the best possible outcome will result.

Here is a related message by James B. Jordan in which he discusses the maturation process of humanity…..

 

*I realize that there were demons behind those false gods.

**N.T. Wright in his book The Day the Revolution Began writes this:
“…the ‘continuing exile’ [the exile into Babylon and the continued subjugation under Gentile powers afterward] of Daniel 9 and many other texts, was not just a long, dreary process of waiting. It was the time in which the strange power called ‘Sin,’ the dark force unleashed by human idolatry, was doing its worst precisely in the people of God. God’s people were captive, enslaved, to Babylon and its successors and to the dark powers that stood behind them. What God was doing through the Torah [the law], in Israel, was to gather ‘Sin’ together into one place, so that it could then be condemned.” (Page 286)

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