Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Impact of the Restoration on the evolution of human consciousness (from a Barfieldian perspective)

March 23rd, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

From the perspective of Owen Barfield (1898-1997; best friend of CS Lewis and ‘the philosopher’ among The Inklings of Oxford); there has been an evolution of human consciousness from the beginnings of Man (the state he calls Original Participation) until now. Barfield never wrote about Mormonism, so far as I know – and exhibits no knowledge of Mormon scriptures, doctrines or theology – but Mormonism can be understood to have a clear place in Barfield’s historical account.

Very briefly, Barfield sees human consciousness as having begun with Man lacking self-consciousness and immersed-in the world (a state resembling that of early childhood, and dreams) – all was unconscious, mysterious, spontaneous, common sense.

Then, through several intermediate phases, there was a developing of increased self-consciousness and a sense of separateness from the world; until (from the 1400s approximately, most evident by the 1600s) a stage of alienation was reached in which each Man felt himself isolated and cut-off from a dead and non-conscious reality. This ‘modern’ phase is called the Consciousness Soul.

One step towards this was The Reformation, when Christian faith became extremely inward, and the near-exclusive focus became individual salvation – with, on the whole, little emphasis on the possibility of spiritual progression towards divinity during mortal life, or indeed after death (as in the phrase, ‘the tree lies where it falls’ meaning that the state of the soul at the moment of death is permanent).

Against this background, the Mormon Restoration, from 1830 onwards, can be seen as a move towards the state that Barfield terms Final Participation – which is one where Man carries-through self-consciousness into an understanding of spiritual progression towards divinity. Final Participation is, indeed, qualitatively the same state as full-divinity – which is why it is ‘final’ – because God is both agent (self-conscious) and also fully-participating in all of creation. It is the state in which there is no limit to knowledge, and all knowledge is potentially explicit.

Mormonism – conceptualised in terms of its theology – can be seen as a very conscious process of spiritual progression; in which – layer-by-layer – cumulative prophetic and personal revelations will clarify and make explicit much that was previously an incomprehensible ‘mystery’ in Christianity.

The first step came with the additional scriptures and revealed doctrines provided by Joseph Smith; but there was a built-in expectation that the process would continue with an unfolding of implications and more specific details.

This has been concisely stated in the LDS church’s summaries of God’s Plan of Salvation (or of Happiness) – with (as examples) greater knowledge of the nature of God; the insight that men and women are metaphysically distinct, and existed as primordial ‘intelligences’ in pre-mortal life before becoming (literal) children of Heavenly Father and Mother; the description of pre-mortal, mortal incarnate, and post-mortal resurrected states – with spiritual progression towards divinity possible in all phases; the doctrine of celestial marriage and a permanent dyadic, creative and fertile relationship of a deified man and woman as necessary for ultimate divine status – and so on.

Implicit in Joseph Smith’s revelations was a completely new metaphysics underpinning the theology – a pluralist, evolutionary, open-ended metaphysics – that has gradually become more evident (for those interested by it) with each generation.

My point is that Joseph Smith’s revelations – as they became clarified by later generations – can now be seen as a qualitative step towards Final Participation and a new, higher, evolutionary stage of consciousness which potentially (if that path is chosen) could begin during mortal life.

This aspect of Mormonism – as providing a basis for the evolution of consciousness towards something very like Barfield’s Final Participation – has remained mostly theoretical; probably because the CJCLDS has been in a state of more-or-less permanent siege from secular culture ever since it began.

(Modern secular culture is the greatest ever threat to salvation; since – by its multiple inversions of The Good – including but not restricted to an inversion of virtue – it is the only society in which official laws, rules, propaganda, practices etc. would tend to make individuals choose to reject Christian salvation even when the possibility of that salvation was believed to be true and real. In a nutshell, modern culture depicts Good as evil – and therefore mainstream society increasingly regards Christianity as not merely false, or sub-optimal, but as actively wicked – meaning that Christianity is tending to promote suffering and misery in this mortal life – in a metaphysical system by which mortal life is understood to be the only life.)

Not many people, other than myself!, have made a serious effort to understand the philosophical basis of both Mormonism and also the ‘Romantic’ tradition – which Barfield traces back to William Blake, Goethe, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Rudolf Steiner. But having done this; it seems to me that the Mormon Restoration provides the proper, and indeed necessary, Christian metaphysical framework – within-which the Romantic tradition can be understood to provide more specific detail and sound guidance for progression of human consciousness towards Final Participation.

 

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March 23rd, 2017 06:09:16

Why babies cry

March 20th, 2017 by Vader

My soul comes from better worlds and I have an incurable homesickness for the stars.

–Thus Nikos Kazantzakis

h/t Dan Peterson and “drballard

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March 20th, 2017 14:25:45

Isaiah ch. 19

March 12th, 2017 by Zen

I have been working on a kind of translation of Isaiah for a while now. Too many of us don’t read it, and liken it to ourselves, because it is hard to understand. My goal is to remove as many as possible steps between reading and understanding. This entails a significant degree of simplification (for instance, where I give modern equivalents to ancient things), but it also makes it easier to understand on the first read through. At least I hope it does.

Notice, that Isaiah is the master of the prophecy with dual fulfillment. This is a legitimate prophecy of socio-political events in Egypt in Isaiah’s time. But the more interesting and more complete fulfillment is a country in the last days that is the modern equivalent of ancient Egypt. Namely, the greatest world power, the center of education and culture but waning as to its influence. The center of education and culture. This is America.

Isaiah 19

1 The prophecy about America. The Lord will come swiftly, like a sudden storm into America and those things idolized by Americans will quake in terror. The Americans will be terrified.

2 I will set the Americans to fight against each other. Brother will fight against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city and state against state.

(more…)

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March 12th, 2017 22:54:42

His Majesty snarks

March 12th, 2017 by Vader

At headlines and other slogans:

(more…)

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March 12th, 2017 15:05:24

The Lord’s Mirror.

March 11th, 2017 by Bookslinger

I was in my mid 40’s when I came back to church in the early 2000’s.  Since then I’ve occasionally met flawed people with both obvious and non-obvious problems or challenges, though the exact nature or cause of their problem/challenge was not always clear.  Either immediately or at some point after meeting such a person, it occasionally dawned on me … “Oh, no. I have/do that too.”  And later… “Ahhhh. So that’s why people hate me.”  And later… “Eeek. I’m disgusting.” (more…)

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March 11th, 2017 10:32:29

Notice of the new Logan (X-Men) movie from Fox/ Marvel

March 09th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

(No spoilers.)

First of all: This is a 15 certificate movie and thoroughly deserves it! There is a lot of bad swearing and nasty, explicit, close-up violence.

BUT if you have appreciated some of the previous X-Men movies then you will not want to miss this one – which follows several themes from the first movie incarnations (before the recent alternative-timeline ‘reboot’ with new Xavier and Magneto actors), and brings them to a satisfying closure.

And the reason I write about it here is that there is a strong implicit theme of repentance and redemption in several character arcs; and several explicit and positive Christian references – at the beginning, middle and end.

(This may – perhaps? – have something to do with the fact that the lead actor – Hugh Jackman – is apparently publicly a Christian, from an evangelical home.)

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March 09th, 2017 04:19:11

Joseph Smith and personal revelation

March 05th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

I have seen it said that the universal availability of personal revelation is the core feature of Mormonism.

I believe this is a reasonable – albeit incomplete – statement, as I will try to show. Yet personal inspiration from God is not what the outside world sees when they observe the CJCLDS. They see a clear and strong hierarchical organisation, a seemingly exact doctrine, and a lot of rules and social practices. Being a Mormon superficially looks like a lot of externally-imposed obedience and not much inner-driven individuality.

(And this may of course, in the real world – in practice – actually be the case; but if so, it is an erroneous or at least sub-optimal situation.)

I think that the way personal revelation works can be seen in layers. Personal revelation is indeed primary – but one’s own personal revelations cannot work-out a complete religion in all its details, a complete way of living and understanding. Yet completeness is what is needed.

To put it another way; we cannot make sense of personal revelations without a context – some basic framework within-which revelations have meaning, and some way of linking multiple revelations together into coherence.

Therefore, Joseph Smith also provided a set of basic metaphysical assumptions about reality, and a basic narrative of the nature and intentions of God and the purpose of creation (The Plan of salvation), in-the-context-of-which personal revelations can have meaning. Mormonism therefore – and necessarily – has a different theology than previous Christianity; and one which is well suited to the goal of ‘everybody’ having multiple personal revelations.

But to have only a theoretical structure would not suffice for the establishment or survival of a religion – especially in face of persecution and attempted eradication. Therefore Joseph Smith also established a church – to teach, preserve and defend the revealed truths and an interpretation of the scriptures. The CJCLDS, with its hierarchy of revelators with widening scope of responsibilities, from the individual to the whole church via intermediate levels – as the hierarchy ascends between the rank-and file members, through steps and layers, up to the President, Prophet and primary Revelator.

This structure provides a necessary context for personal revelations; a way of making sense of them without the near certainty that a multiplicity of open-ended and unstructured revelation would (as happened in many Protestant groups) lead to chaos, schism and self-destruction.

In sum, it can be seen that Joseph Smith – in his multi-faceted work of presenting doctrines, providing inspired scriptures and founding a church organisation – provided exactly what was necessary for a religion based-on personal revelations to survive in the real world; a religion based on the ideal that personal revelations (including revelations of the validity of generalities such as scripture, leadership, authority) should be at the centre of all evaluations and decisions, and be the major form of guidance.

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March 05th, 2017 02:25:31

In Praise of Freshly Ground Flour

February 24th, 2017 by Bookslinger

We’ve long heard that whole wheat flour (with bran and germ) is more nutritious than white flour that has had the bran and germ removed.  

I’ve recently been grinding some wheat kernals, that I had in my food storage, into flour.  I’ve done both red winter wheat and white spring wheat, and learned a new thing.  Fresh ground flour has oil in it. The whole wheat flour that you buy at the grocery store has sat around long enough for the “volitiles” (oil, etc.) to have evaporated.   Fresh ground flour also has more flavor.  (more…)

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February 24th, 2017 15:45:17

Look Who’s Back – Movie recommendation

February 23rd, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

An English language version of Er ist wieder da/ Look who’s back, with its above brilliant and striking cover art, caught my attention in a bookshop a couple of years ago – and I bought it on the basis that it has been a sensational best-seller in Germany.

(I have a considerable interest in German culture and literature, and my brother and my wife’s brother both have German wives.)

The premise is that somehow Hitler is time-shifted to modern Germany, just as he was when he died, and has to make sense of it all. And Germany also has to make sense of him – which they do by assuming he is some kind of satirical comedian who never drops his impersonation.

It was quite intriguing, but I didn’t manage to get through much of the book. However I was interested enough to give the subtitled movie a try – when I discovered it was available on Netflix. The movie had been as successful in Germany as the book – being number one box office for a while.

I would highly recommend Look who’s back as extremely thought-provoking and also at times very funny (Hitler’s encounters with daytime TV, the internet, as a chat show guest etc.) – despite that it is overlong and sags in several points (the improvised sections – which I mostly skipped).

But the scripted sections of the movie were fascinating. The tone shifts back and forth between sympathetic and horrified, between making clear Hitler’s broad, powerful democratic appeal and personal charisma; and the terrible, disgusting quality of his doctrines and actions. I found myself as if caught by a hook, pulled back and forth, but unable to squirm free.

The result was, I found, a very complex argument which has stayed in my mind for several days – indeed, there haven’t been many recent movies which I found so interesting.

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February 23rd, 2017 13:03:34

Whence Pepe?

February 23rd, 2017 by MC

Image result for contemplative pepe

[Google Images result for “Contemplative Pepe”]

I have a theory about the rise of the Alt Right. Or maybe that’s too specific: I have a theory about why the American Right has become considerably more verbally aggressive, politically incorrect, and nationalistic over the last 2-4 years, a phenomenon that encompasses Trump and Trumpism, the Alt Right, the rise of Breitbart and Steve Bannon, etc. (more…)

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February 23rd, 2017 02:12:54

Free ebook: Thomas Merton – A Life Inspired.

February 20th, 2017 by Bookslinger

Free for a day or so at Amazon.  By Wyatt North.  I haven’t read it yet, but just wanted to alert others. (more…)

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February 20th, 2017 11:45:23

Worlds without Number

February 17th, 2017 by Zen

Now, lest we spend all our time on pessimism and trouble, (ahem, a recent lesson in church), I would like to share this:

It is fascinating enough for us to image exoplanets. But here is an example of exoplanets, imaged moving in their orbits.

Further images of other worlds.

And some Hugh Nibley lecturing on Cosmology and the plurality of worlds (I, II) in the Scriptures and ancient literature. The entire series is worth listening to.

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February 17th, 2017 21:43:17

Rome Burns and we are all holding Flamethrowers

February 17th, 2017 by Zen

At least Nero only fiddled.

(more…)

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February 17th, 2017 21:18:27

Predictions for the Next Couple of Years

February 13th, 2017 by Patrick Henry

The media has already mostly spent the last of its credibility openly throwing aside old norms to attack Trump. The effort failed and has failed. (more…)

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February 13th, 2017 15:30:41

What think ye of the poor?

February 12th, 2017 by Zen

The Poor you will always have with you. Matt 26:11

So, what are we going to do about it? (more…)

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February 12th, 2017 17:53:22