religion

Gnostics in the Woodpile

I recently read Elaine Pagels’ The Gnostic Gospels. It finally gave me a handle on why these books ended up in a jar in the Egyptian dirt, instead of in the Bible. (more…)

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Magicians of the Outer Right, Part Zwei – Power Plays

TRIGGER WARNING: There’s that bit in the beginning of the Book of Genesis about The Tree of Knowledge. The material below is all very well known and available to anyone with a browser. However, the weak of mind are strongly advised to cease and desist.

Ah, I see you’re still here. Very well:

My previous post on Magicians of the Outer Right was, admittedly, occult.

From Outside in’s links digest: “Mirror of obscurity.” Nick B. Steves roundup: “a rather cryptic post.” Some further explication was implied.

Steves also linked this:

The fact is Western culture has its own conception of power, a very naive construct that prevents us from noticing how things actually work. We seem to think people have ideas, and act because they believe those ideas, and power just comes out of the strength of those ideas. Call it faith in Christ, or Protestantism, or liberalism. Our conception of history is the history of ideas.

In the last 20 years or so, with the rise of the Web, this conception has been hyper-reinforced. I post my “Neoreactionary” arguments and evidence about how fundamental “right-wing” changes to society would result in peace, prosperity, less crime, happier children, more intelligence, less obesity and, in the long run, the breeding of unicorns that defecate gumdrops. Some SJW grrrl just out of Wellsley (or more likely, struggling to complete her Womyn’s Studies B.A. at a state university) posts that I’m a POS racist sexist LGBTIQ-phobe whose ideas would lead to death camps for everyone except white cismales. She argues that fundamental “left-wing” changes to society would result in equality, peace, equality, less crime, equal children and animals, equality of intelligence, social justice, racial justice, economic justice, sexual justice and, in the long run, Gaia defecating non-GMO unsalted manna that would feed the world and allow her to pay off her student loans.

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Opus Dei could school the neoreaction

I believe I first heard of Opus Dei in 1999 when I was working on a political campaign with a good friend who I would describe as a “devout” Catholic. I was interested in the Church at the time, mainly for its central place in the history of the West. My friend and I had numerous late-night discussions (beer for him, martinis for me) about history, politics and the Church. One night after we’d had a few he asked, “Have you ever heard of Opus Dei?” I hadn’t.

He told me a fairly amusing story about how Opus had tried to recruit him during his distinguished undergraduate career at Georgetown University. Someone invited him to an event at the Georgetown Opus Dei “Center for Men” and he hung out there a bit, but never seriously considered joining.

“Two interesting things about them,” he told me. “One, these guys would only drank one beer, then stop. Two, they had the Washington Post in the lounge, but the ads for women’s lingerie had been cut out.”

Despite his own intense faith, this wasn’t for him. He was at the School of Foreign Service studying to be a diplomat. Detractors of Opus Dei love to shout that it tries to recruit the best and brightest young Catholics who are planning to go into international relations, law, politics and journalism.

Of course, MSNBCBS, the Department of State, Senators and NGOs try and recruit the same set of people to work for them, but they’re Righteous Progressive Warriors for Peace and Justice, so that’s just fine.

My friend still had a copy of Camino they gave him, and he gave it to me to read. After that, I did some more research on the organization and its founder, Saint Josemaria Escriva.

At any rate, this post is not meant as a thorough history of Opus. The Wiki bio of Escriva is a pretty balanced presentation of the history and development of the movement. Some years later I read Dan Brown’s excrescence of a book and was much amused by the albino Opus Dei assassin. The traitorous FBI agent Robert Hannsen was a member, for what it’s worth.

At this point, the reader may fairly ask, what the hell has all this to do with Neoreaction? “NRx” is a mainly internet-based socio-politico-philosophical inquiry, not a religious order, has no leader that can be discerned, no structure, no history, no monuments or even office space. Opus has this:

opus-dei-hq-new-yorkBut here’s the crux (think about what that means): Neoreaction can only affect society if it gets elites to support its ideas, intellectually, financially and eventually physically. Right now, Western elites, the Princeton-Harvard-Yale-DC-Oxford-Davos-Brussels axis, are about 99.44% pure Cathedral Prog, (with a Ted Cruz thrown in for color). The tip of the NRx spear realizes that its real mission, at this point, is to recruit elites as supporters (or at least, sympathizers. Opus calls them “collaborators”). The Neoreaction doesn’t seek political power within the current liberal democratic nation-state systems of the West, nor is it a mass movement, nor is it interested in “members” who aren’t very intelligent. Like Opus Dei, NRx has a certain exclusivity that keeps it lean and focused, and at the same time seems to make even intelligent opposition lose objectivity.

Opus and the NRx bring out something primal in “Progressives,” because they’re impervious: men without shame or fear or guilt, at least of the kind that Progs use as a rhetorical hammer to threaten and bludgeon their opposition. “Conservatives” can’t stand for long against charges of racism or sexism or ableism or whate’er, because they’re liberals. Nothing enrages the Progs like a person who refuses to be intellectually cowed by charges of “hate.” A powerful, organized group of such people is their deepest secret fear.

Neoreaction isn’t there, yet, not by a long way. It might take some steps by imposing more demands on its followers, the same way that Opus does, and all the successful religions do. The “Mainline Protestants” have withered in direct proportion to their embrace of “inclusiveness” and their depiction of Jesus as your Special Boyfriend who won’t judge you, and who will always take you back despite the fact you cheated on Him.

Opus Dei demands you sleep on the floor once a week, arise the instant the alarm goes off and dedicate your every waking moment to excellence and to raising up your daily work to God.

There’s a hint of this in some Neoreactionary blogs, lately. While they have different forms, organization (or lack of it), and goals, Opus Dei and the Neoreaction have in common a distaste for the disgusting aspects of modernity and an ethos of raising up the Good, the True and the Beautiful. Of right reason guiding a right social order. Neoreactionaries need emulate Opus Dei in this way: to raise their standards, to conduct themselves as elites and to improve themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. The best way to spread the word is by living example.

Here’s some advice for conservatives: Use more stories and less talking points

Check out my latest piece in Taki’s Magazine. Here is an excerpt:

The Republican response to the otherwise tepid lecture showed the same promise at first. Delivered by Iowa’s newly-minted Senator Joni Ernst, the onetime pig-castrator regaled listeners with an engrossing story about growing up on a farm and working fast food in high school. She even admitted to wearing bread bags around her only pair of good shoes on rainy days. Unfortunately the hokey story didn’t last; the narrative soon collapsed into standard, red-meat talking points. Republican tropes about jobs and economic growth overwhelmed Ernst’s speech and drained it of its original, rustic flavor.

It was a shame. But playing it safe is typical for politicians. The question is: why was Ernst’s brief story so compelling? When polled by PolitiFact, many Iowans admitted to strapping bread bags around their shoes to protect them from bad weather. So Ernst’s anecdote had more than a grain of truth to it. But facts aside, there was something wholesome, even vivid, about the description of her childhood. It demanded attention.

America needs to get back to religion, no matter what libertarians say

Here’s a quick lesson for young, self-styled libertarians: Nick Gillespie’s punk-rock stylings and irreverent attitude are not a formula for success.

Admittedly, few in the budding millennial libertarian “generation” will believe me. They are busy celebrating pot freedom and the right to marry whoever they want. Clearly, somewhere along the line between Leonard Read and the New York Times-dubbed “libertarian moment,” freedom turned into blissful sodomy and getting stoned. Should the trend continue, libertarianism will wither, and rightly so.

Gillespie, who is a thought leader in the trendy libertine-leaning freedom movement, is championing the decline. From his soapbox at Reason magazine, he preaches the principles of free association and non-aggression. Much of his work is laudable; his wittiness is a great tool showing how foolish the warmongers in Congress are. But even the wisest jokester is not immune to stupidity. Gillespie’s attitude, anti-authoritarian as it is, is a road map of the perilous direction that libertarianism is trending.

In a recent diatribe, the black jacketed sermonizer attempts to correct Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on a topic of high importance: God and America. The governor, who is a convert to Catholicism, recently told a group of Christians and Jewish leaders the country has drifted away from God. This path is dangerous for America, he averred. As a possible 2016 presidential candidate looking to court social conservatives, Jindal was unambiguous about his warning, telling the crowd, “We have tried everything and now it is time to turn back to God.”

This is all wrong according to Gillespie. Issues of public policy, spending and debt, entitlement programs, civil liberties, and militarization are not matters of spiritual conviction. When it comes to politics, he maintains, “God has nothing to do with any of that.”

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Christian group that hosted Ted Cruz calling for an apology from the Weekly Standard

My latest at TheDC:

The group that hosted one of the largest ecumenical Christian gatherings to address religious persecution in years last Wednesday night, which was crashed in dramatic fashion by junior Senator from Texas Ted Cruz, is calling for an apology from The Weekly Standard for remarks made by senior editor Lee Smith on Twitter regarding the incident. Smith accused the crowd of showing its “ISIS face” when some in the crowd which included many Arab Christians booed the Senator for goading them with successively more politically-charged lines about Israel.

“There were people in that very room whose loved ones were killed by ISIS terrorists. Smith’s hate and bigotry should not be tolerated by The Weekly Standard,” IDC Senior Advisor Joseph Cella said in a statement to The Daily Caller.

The rest of his nasty comments at the link.

I emailed Bill Kristol for comment; haven’t heard back and don’t expect to. Condemning anti-Christian bigotry is not high on the Weekly Standard’s list of priorities.