All Things Shining is a Wicked Book Indeed

Dreyfus and Kelly (D&K) connect their book, All Things Shining, with Melville’s book, Moby Dick.  Right underneath the title on the cover is a little image of a whale and Moby Dick is referenced throughout the book and they devote a full chapter to Melville’s whale tale right before the concluding chapter.  In All Things Shining, D&K lament that today’s secular age is remise of sacredness – missing all the shining things of a sacred world.  Their claim is that the lives of Homer’s Greeks and the Christians of Dante’s time lived lives rife with meaning in a bright and shining world – unlike our world today, which is an abyss of dark nothingness (nihilism).  Melville has shown D&K the way back into the bright lights of yore through Moby Dick, the book that Melville recognized to be a “wicked book,” but one that left him feeling as spotless as a lamb after having written it.  (143)[1] The “evil art” of Melville is rather obscure in his writing, and he might not have even consciously known what the wickedness was that he had written, and even D&K who seem to know exactly what the hidden evil of Moby Dick is struggle to clearly name it as they sift the lives and motives of the characters on the “hunt for the mighty sperm whale.”[2]  The way forward as discovered by Ishmael in Moby Dick is to find your own polytheistic truths and live in them in joy and in sorrow. (188)  Though D&K try to hide their malevolence in lengthy, rambling, quote-filled chapters, they directly call for an all-embracing dive into an old-school life of polytheism within our modern, technologically driven age.  They give this invitation void of any moral compass besides one’s own passions and subjective standard of morality.  I sense that what D&K have written is far more wicked than what Melville wrote because they directly call us to surrender ourselves to the gods – to be carried away (whooshed up) by them to wherever they want to carry us before the drop that will inevitably come as the sacred wave crashes. (220)

Mastodon Leviathan Album 2
This image reveals more of the complete picture of Mastodon’s Leviathan album that is a concept-album based on Melville’s Moby Dick

 

This “whooshing up,” D&K say, is when “[t]he most important things, the most real things in Homer’s world, well up and take us over, hold us for a while, and then finally, let us go” (200).  The name for this in Homeric times was the word physis which “was the name for the way the most real things in the world present themselves to us” (200).  D&K consider this whooshing up to be the sacred breaking into our world and shining for all to see and they explain that “[w]hen something whooshes up it focuses and organizes everything around it…” so that “everyone understands who they are and what they are to do immediately in relation to the sacred event that is occurring” (201).  Of course, the best that they can come up with as an example in our modern age is sporting events, when some player does something unimaginable during play… I guess I’ve just never been whooshed up when watching others play sports.  I have had such wooshing experiences at live rock shows in small clubs (when a crowd wide mosh pit erupts in unison or everyone’s face melts at a guitar solo that must be from the rock gods on high – though I’ve never had this moment at an arena or large festival show though – only small, shoulder to shoulder club shows, so I can kind of get what D&K are talking about in terms of responding in a way without thought to the physis overtaking the bystanders).

D&K’s focus seems to be on the wooshing that takes over a group of people as one individual in their midst is wooshed up by the gods.  They do not entertain the individual being struck by the sacred in a moment of isolation in nature (maybe floating in the middle of lake under the star lit sky) or while reading a book or watching a movie alone or laying on the floor listening to an album start to finish with headphones on and eyes closed – these are the times that I am overcome the most by a force outside myself that I could recognize to be sacred.  I don’t quite understand why their focus is on all things shining in crowds – apart from sports giving people a communal meaning their main wooshing up example was Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech on the National Mall.

This group response is where their evil really lies… because they have no absolute and objective standard of morality in their polytheistic endeavor.  D&K admit that there can be madness in the crowds, but they say we must be courageous and leap in to experience this polytheistic path. (220)  They understand that things can get turnt[3] “in new and more shining and meaningful ways” or maybe… “Sometimes, by contrast, one dances with the devil” (220).  Because we’re just getting wooshed up (overtaken by a force of the gods) in their paradigm of finding meaning, they explain that it is “[o]nly by having been taken over by the fanatical leader’s totalizing rhetoric, and [after having] experienced the dangerous and devastating consequences it has, does one learn to discriminate between leaders worth following and those upon whom one must turn one’s back” (220).

That final statement is brutally wicked.  Was Germany whooshed up by Hitler?  Um… Yeah.  But what if Germany had won the war?  Would Hitler then have been “the devil” when we know that the victor writes the history books?  Were many whooshed up into a violent frenzy during the multi-day LA Race Riots?  Um… Yeah.  Was the violence, arson, and looting justified?  Who gets to decide and why?  Were many whooshed up when they followed Jim Jones into his Kool-Aid suicide massacre?  Um… Yeah, and many realized they danced with the devil, but the doors were blocked by gunmen and it was too late to find a different partner to woosh them up into a new and shining dance.  Was Ishmael and the others whooshed up by Captain Ahab’s fanaticism to kill the beast?  Um… Yeah, but only Ishmael survived the whoosh!

The people who got whooshed in the examples I just provided were people who, according to D&K, hadn’t yet “acquired the skill” to let themselves “be overwhelmed” by the gods yet possess the “discrimination” to keep themselves from getting “drawn in by the rhetoric of the fanatical and dangerous demagogue” (221).   But remember, there is no way to “acquire this skill” until one has already “been taken over by the fanatical leader’s totalizing rhetoric, and experienced the dangerous and devastating consequence’s it has” (220).  An “evil art” indeed.

What D&K are selling is still essentially nihilism, which is what they are trying avoid, since they recognize nihilism fails to provide meaning in life.  They don’t et that their pitch is still nihilism.

By what standard is one to know if he is dancing with the devil or with the gods?  These whooshing forces were never all good in the Greek pantheon of the gods.  And since D&K aren’t really asking us to accept the Greek gods as being real, again I’ll ask the question but in a slightly different way, by what standard are we to judge what is good and what is evil?  The standard is one’s own opinion.  We can pick and choose what we follow..  In the end, this is still nihilism, a nihilism that has each man be his own god… because it’s truly each individual person who gets to say what whoosh is right and what whoosh is wrong, or if there is even a whoosh to be had at all.

What happens when there are two whooshing parties who come into direct contradiction with one another in terms of who they are and what they are to do and they each consider the other party to be whooshed by the devil?  Well here, we just landed back at what D&K want to avoid, sitting in the contemporary world with “no ground for choosing one course of action over any other” (15).   They offer that there are many gods that can whoosh us up and let us see the shiny good things as they really are, but we’re the final judges of what is shining or not.  Since we’re still the judges of what is right and wrong and what is sacred and shining in the D&K model of finding meaning in life, they’re still dealing the Nietzsche pill of being free to do what we whilt, which I prefer to label as Anton LaVey chose to name it – Satanism.  And in this label, we get the grandest understanding of how evil D&K’s book is – All Things Shining – because as Christians we know that Satan dances among us as an angel of light.  (2 Corinthians 11:14)

Satan deceives through telling lies, but his lies are tricky to recognize, because they’re steeped in truth.  In other words, his lies come to us in partial truths.  It is in this sense that I do try to approach all things as shining.  Every worldview and every culture and every religion and every zeitgeist has some elements of truth within them – I’m rather certain of this.  Christians would do good to point these truths out from time to time.  Since Christ’s claim is true that he is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), then all truth is God’s truth, no matter where it is found.  Where truth is found, declare it, use it, put it in its full context of which it is fully and directly revealed from God in the Bible.  The Apostle Paul did this when he quoted the philosophers of the Athenians (Acts 17).  We can do this too, but we must realize that when we seek the shiny things in life in this manner, we must always cling to the truth of Christ so that we are not deceived into the lie that all is one, and one is all, and that all that glitters is gold.[4]

The nuggets of truth that I am referring to that permeate all of the world are reflections of the Creator within his Creation.  In the Christian account of everything the world is now fallen from its very good original state at creation, but that does not mean that all is now evil within it… there is much that is good and much to be enjoyed and praised and thankful for within God’s world.  Through man’s natural knowledge that there is a God, known from what he has created, from God’s law written on the hearts of all men, and from God’s love for all of his creation in which he showers both the righteous and the wicked with good gifts in this temporal realm, the sacred things of beauty and truth bubble up all around us.  It is in this sense that I highly appreciate D&K’s call for us all to develop the “skills for responding to the manifold senses of the sacred that still linger unappreciated at the margins of our disenchanted world” (222).  It is here in the margins that I have seen people tend to embrace and enjoy the full freedom of being who they want to be, being their own god creating their own little kingdoms, and with their creative juices unstifled by the restrictions and conformity of society they really do shine and stand out among the herd, and people are drawn to such whooshed up individuals and they find their identity and meaning in such communities.   From my Christian perspective, they are letting the image of God that they bare (as broken as it may be) shine as they show off their creative abilities and flair, as they reflect their Creator that they may not personally know in the slightest.

In this way, all things are shining for a time.  Apart from God, however, there is no light – only darkness.  And God’s patience is running out.

 

[1] All parenthetical numbers are references to the page numbers within All Things Shining by Dreyfus and Kelly that was published in 2011 by Free Press.

[2] A line I stole from the epic song, “Nantucket Sleighride” by Mountain.

[3] Slang for “get really wasted and have a ton of fun” according to Urban Dictionary, but I’ve heard it used by many in Gen Z to refer to something very akin to getting whooshed up in a communal sense (and it sounds so much more lit to get turnt than to get whooshed).

[4] “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin lyric reference.

Are We Allowed to Question the Legitimacy of the Refugees Entering Europe?

I shared a Paul Joseph Watson article on Facebook entitled, “Twitter Says Telling the Truth About the Refugee Crisis is “Hateful Conduct”.  PJW added to his article when he posted it to Facebook: “I joked about how a “refugee” boat didn’t contain any women or children. Twitter said it was “hateful conduct” and possibly illegal. Yes, really.”

In reply to this article and comment I shared to my wall by PJW, a pastor from my denomination (LC-MS), replied:

“We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body but help and support him in every physical need.” and “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.” I’m going to believe a boat of refugees full of adult men are in fact refugees fleeing war, and that Twitter might be onto something.

Engaging with someone else who replied to his comment, he added:

I question anything posted in Infowars to be factual. It’s not illegal to say something mean or wrong. I do think Christians should remember they have a responsibility to put the best construction on their neighbor, especially as it relates to “the least of these.”

The following is my reply to him and anyone else who would like to give me feedback to my thoughts on why I shared the PJW article:

Thanks for sharing your word of caution.  I certainly consider it and take it to heart.  I do not like the sarcasm with this Paul Joseph Watson post, and I rarely share his videos due to his demeanor and language.  I almost didn’t share this article for that reason, but I’d like for you to consider why I did share it, and I welcome your feedback.

When you read the article that is linked, you can see that he said he posted with sarcasm as an attempt to shield this post from the Twitter thought police.  Directly stating the facts that none of the refugees on that boat were women or children and that none of them are from Syria would have blatantly been censored as hateful conduct.  Even masking the truth of his post with sarcasm got caught and censored.  That explanation helped me go ahead and hit share despite the sarcasm, because I did like the points that followed the opening explanation of the sarcasm.

There is a link in the article I shared to a New York Times post that “Social media giants including Facebook and Twitter are not doing enough to curb hate speech on their platforms and could face fines of up to $53 million if they do not strengthen their efforts to delete illegal posts, a German government minister said on Tuesday.”

The problem has become though that just speaking out against the migrant situation in many European countries is deemed hate speech.  For instance, the Daily Wire just posted today about a 70 year old woman in Sweden who is being charged with hate crime for posting on Facebook that migrants are burning cars and defecating in the streets.  That’s a hate crime for posting that, and she’s facing up to four years in prison for that.  Rapist in America don’t even come close to serving that amount of time for their crimes – think Brock Turner.  This 70 year old lady is getting the book thrown at her for simply reporting what is occurring in Sweden.  Here’s a link to the article, and I would hope you would trust the Daily Wire with the NeverTrumper, Ben Shapiro working for the Wire and being the person I saw who shared this article, “Woman, 70, Says Migrants Defecate in the Streets and Set Cars on Fire. Cops Charge Her With a Hate Crime.”  Now check out the details of the last few paragraphs and you’ll get a sense of what is going on the Muslim “no go” zones of Sweden.  The bulk of it can be found in video on Youtube, easily!

In our own country, from Patheos just a couple of days ago there was a post about a student reporter at Portland State University who was fired for sharing video of a Muslim explaining death for apostates under sharia law on Twitter.  The video was recorded at a Q and A interfaith panel in which a Muslim on the panel shared that killing non-Muslims “only applied in countries governed by Islamic law, but in those countries, “you’re given the liberty to leave the country.”  The students had the following to say to defend his posts:

“In my defense, I told the two editors that I had simply been relating the speaker’s words. While dozens of Muslim states do not consider apostasy or blasphemy a crime, 13 Muslim-majority countries punish these actions with death. The speaker was admitting as much, and as someone who has covered the persecution of atheists and apostates in Muslim countries, I considered that newsworthy.”

Here’s the link to that article: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/05/12/student-reporter-fired-for-sharing-video-of-muslim-explaining-death-for-apostates-under-sharia-law/

The level at which speaking out against the thugs on the Left brings hate upon the speaker has reached high levels.  For example, watch this video of a guy simply holding a sign that says, “The Right to Openly Discuss Ideas Must be Defended.”  That’s all the sign says.  He likely held it up at some sort of SJW protest or gathering, otherwise I have no idea how so many people railed against him calling him nazi scum and swearing at him, surrounding him and trying to physically rip the sign from him.  They won’t discuss ideas with him.  They only yell at him to shut him up.  He is calm and composed and not yelling back.  This is the direction we are headed even in America (the accents don’t seem American in this video), if you have followed any of the Antifa riots this year.  Watch and be shocked, and I saw this video posted by Paul Joseph Watson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81k93Guu-Oc

These few examples show how speaking out against anything related to illegal migrants and the impact of the many illegal Muslims in Europe (or any other SJW agenda) gets shut down hard and fast, by social media bans, sometimes by fines, sometimes by jail time, sometimes by violence.  It is these offenses that I shared the post to bring awareness to the movement to censure free speech, a part of what I see as fitting as defending my neighbor.

The defense also comes with raising awareness of how bad things are in Europe right now and how we could very well be going that direction ourselves.  Speaking for the good and defense of my neighbor is the point here and abroad is the point I had with the post I have shared.  Once legal migrants or refugees are in my community, I will certainly respond to the call to help them and support them with their transition.  If someone is in my community illegally and I know this, the best thing for me to do is to encourage that neighbor to get the proper credentials to be here legally.  In China, our local church encouraged a man from Nigeria to return back to Nigeria instead of stay in China against the law of the authorities that God put in place in China.  We helped him get a plane ticket back to Nigeria and we had church members escort him to the airport to ensure that he boarded the plane.  He stayed in my apartment for about a week.  I didn’t know he was in the country illegally at first when I let him stay; I just heard he needed a place to stay and some financial support.  Our church’s leader was from Nigeria.  It was really his play to send him back and to do what was right, coming to China with a proper visa.

As to the post I shared and the status of these men on the boat getting the ride to Italy, the article stated:

“According to the Institute for the Analysis of Multiethnicity (Ismu), 85% of asylum requests in Italy are from men, with only 4% from minors. Only 2.65% of those immigrating into Italy were awarded asylum status as refugees.

The UNHCR’s own data shows that, “Nigerians make up nearly a fifth of the arrivals in Italy, followed by the nationals of Eritrea at 13 per cent and then Sudan, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Somalia, Mali, Senegal and Bangladesh,” again emphasizing how the “refugees” are not even from Libya, they’re arriving from countries that are not at war.” (https://www.infowars.com/twitter-says-telling-the-truth-about-the-refugee-crisis-is-hateful-conduct/)

Did you read that before making your post to me?  The “refugees” arriving to Italy from Libya are not even from countries at war.  The bulk of them are from men, with only 15% being women and children applying for asylum.  Only 2.65% immigrating to Italy are awarded asylum status as refugees!

The article also stated:

“Although pro-migrant institutions have claimed that the majority of migrants entering Europe are women and children, the deluge of video evidence suggests otherwise.”

I have followed this situation for a couple of years now and the video footage in Europe is really bad!  It’s really bad at border crossings where semi-trucks are slowed crossing country lines.  Check this video out, just one of many of this kind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOkRfYHYJU8

If you want to understand better as to who these men are on the boats in the video that Paul Joseph Watson shared, you can check out the Spector link PJW put in the article that I shared: https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/04/are-we-helping-desperate-migrants-or-just-people-smugglers/  It’s not from InfoWars, so maybe you’ll trust it.  Here is its opening paragraphs that explain the situation:

“What is happening in the 300-mile stretch of sea between Sicily and Libya, day in and day out — in other words, what ‘we’ are doing there — is beyond reasonable doubt insane.

A sane person would assume that the 181,436 migrants (a new record) who made it by sea to Italy last year had done so under their own steam in flimsy fishing boats and dinghies at least some of the way across the Mediterranean. This, after all, is the message aid agencies and governments put out.

In fact, every one of those 181,436 was picked up by EU and non-government aid-agency vessels off the Libyan coast just outside the 12-mile territorial limit, then ferried across to Europe. The people-smuggler boats — more often than not these days dangerously unseaworthy rubber dinghies — chug out towards the 12-mile limit, send out a distress signal, and Bob’s your uncle.

Nearly all the migrants arriving in Italy are young men from West Africa, not refugees. They have the cash for a ticket on a smuggler boat (€1,500, give or take) so are not destitute. That’s getting on for £300 million in ticket sales last year. West African migrants are big business.”

And because of this nice EU service of complimentary boat rides into Italy, 250,000 more migrant boat people are expected this year.

The Express, again not InfoWars, but it was linked in the article I shared, states:

“EU officials said the vast majority of migrants who reach Europe turn out to be ineligible for asylum and will be sent back though they acknowledged deportations often proved difficult in practice.”

Many of these people inevitably end up filtering through Europe and remaining illegally.

Virtually all of this information was in the article I shared with plenty of links to sources other than InfoWars, most of the sources being from UK news agencies.

After reading all of this and checking out the links, do you really think these men on the boat are refugees?  Do you really think Italy, and other EU nations, being flooded by these migrants, many of whom are Muslims, is a good thing?  Do some searches on the number of Islamic terrorists attacks in Europe over the past couple of years?  How many of them stem from people who entered as “refugees”?

I see the post I shared as largely being a way of speaking out for my neighbor and to raise awareness against the ills of illegal immigration that comes under the guise of refugees.  Sin is lawlessness.  The bulk of the migrants just showing up in Italy right now under the guise of asylum seekers is lawlessness, if only a little under 3% are actually qualified for this status and are coming from non-war countries, and are getting there by paying a smuggler boat to get them far enough out to sea to get a free EU ride into the country.  Could you imagine a country the size of Italy being swamped with almost 200,000 of these migrants a year and growing with many of them not having an official reason they should be there.  How do you deport that many people? How do they assimilate?  What do you do with that great of a disproportionate amount of men being added to a society?  What do you do if the bulk of them are Muslim and this is a form of jihad?  Do you bury your head in the sand and say I have no right to question their legitimacy of being refugees or question the limiting of the free speech of those who do ask such questions?  What would loving my neighbor look like in this situation?  Do I want my immediate neighbors in my own country to know we shouldn’t fall for a situation that will produce such a state in America like what we see in the EU right now?  And do we know that we already have millions upon millions of people living in our country illegally?  That’s lawlessness, and lawlessness is sin, and the right thing to do as a loving concerned neighbor is call sin what it is and not support it and protect it.

 

24. The State of Pluralism

Contradict Cover Image (Small)>> Listen to Episode 24 Now! <<

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Andy is in the process of turning his book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, into an audio edition.  This episode is a sampling of the work in progress as he reads the first chapter.  The influence of Hinduism in the West with its connections to religious pluralism is addressed, which leads perfectly into next week’s episode asking the question, “Is it OK for Christians to do yoga?”

Reconnect Episode 13: God Is Too Big To Fit Into One Religion!

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Reconnect Episode 13
Do you want to have this conversation with your friends, small group Bible study, or class?  Here is the discussion guide that was used in this episode, free for your use: “No Religion Can Contain God!”. Please consider giving a shout out to Reconnect, andywrasman.com, and contradictmovement.org if you choose to use this discussion guide.  Thanks.

Subjective Morality – What is evil? What is good?

Dr. Evil memeIf morality is subjective, everyone would have their own opinion of what is good and what is evil.

The only possible absolute standard of morality is an eternal, good, and unchanging God. To have an absolute, objective standard of morality we must appeal to a standard above man. God is that standard and he has revealed that standard to us in Scripture. His Law is also written on our hearts.

Most atheists argue that there are objective standards that are derived from societal standards.  Societal standards however are not absolute. The consensus changes in each society and every society around the world won’t have the same consensus.  And technically, such a standard shouldn’t be considered objective, but subjective.