Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Blake, Albion, Jerusalem and the nature of prophecy

The Last Judgement - by John Martin


People are unaware of their positive values, explicitly those which hold Albion together - they are, indeed, unaware of what is Albion; of our bounds and content.

These were made by past genius - and not by known work, but ultimately by the thinking of past genius; these discovered, remade, added to the soul of Albion.

William Blake wrote poems, such as Jerusalem - which is widely known and sung; he painted and illustrated, composed lyric poems, aphorisms, and vast prophetic verses... But Blake's true role in Albion was to remake the nation at so deep (or high) a level that it is beyond perception; and not fully-knowable as a communication.

The principle act of Blake was his direct knowledge of reality, and then his shaping of reality... The reality of God's creation; that reality which can be known directly by you, or by me, or by anybody (now, or in the future). This is the imperishable legacy of Blake - and there were other as well as Blake (Langland, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton...).

So Blake's poem Jerusalem (to take an example) is true - when it was conceived it became true because it was written-into creation; that is the nature of prophecy.

For you and I to talk or write or read about creation involves us in indirectness, in symbolism, in 'communication'. But we can understand each other when both of us stand-before the poem Jerusalem as it is written into creation.

(Everything else is indirect and second-order; to contemplate creation alone is primary, sure; because direct.)

**
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire;
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold;
Bring me my Chariot of fire.
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Jesus Was Left Wing

Or so we are sometimes told. But is it really true? Almost the definition of the left, certainly the modern left, is the denial of God. And even if God is allowed he is assuredly not the Father. Moreover Jesus taught that his kingdom was not of this world. This is a picture so far at odds with a leftist position, which ever seeks unrealisable utopias in the here and now, that really nothing more need be said to make clear that Jesus and the left have very different priorities.

But there is a lot more. We can set aside the point that Jesus's aims were purely spiritual and there are still no grounds for the statement made in the title of this piece. For a start, Jesus emphasised sin and the need for repentance, hardly a left wing preoccupation. He taught forgiveness but this was wholly dependent on turning to God. Its benefits were not to be handed out to everyone regardless of the state of their soul or whether they admitted their fault in terms of being a sinner or not. The forgiveness of sins demands acceptance of full individual responsibility and is not offered as a natural right.

The statement that Jesus was a liberal or leftist is meaningless anyway. There was no such thing until a little over 200 years ago. To make this claim is to project a contemporary ideology backwards to a time when it didn't exist and wouldn't have made any sense to anyone even if it did.

But again, let’s ignore that and assume that you can transport Jesus from 1st century Galilee to the 21st century West and quickly run through some of the reasons why people say he would have sympathised with the left of today.

They say he was a rebel who was against tradition and the establishment. The truth is the opposite. He was for tradition. He said "I have not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, I have come to fulfil them". That's pretty clear.  He deepened and expanded the Law but he built on what came before. He did not seek to destroy it and build something new. That's not how God works. And the only establishment he condemned was the corrupt establishment of the day which went by the letter rather than the spirit of the law, and who exalted themselves over God. Besides, against the establishment? Jesus was the true establishment.

The protagonists of this point of view like to claim that Jesus belonged to the ‘live and let live’ fraternity, and didn't judge or condemn anyone. I don't know where they get this idea from. Well, perhaps I do but it's a distortion of his real teaching. Jesus told us not to judge because he knew the human tendency to go in for self-righteous criticism of others rather than look to oneself. This does not mean there is no right or wrong. No judgement means no truth. It means everything is relative, nothing is better, nothing is worse and, eventually, nothing is even good and nothing is bad. This is the antithesis of what Jesus taught. He constantly condemned the sinner and the unrighteous. He even threatened them with hell and destruction. But what he didn't want was for us to use the shortcomings of others to excuse or ignore our own, or to condemn with hate in our hearts. Certainly he loved the sinner but he was ruthless in his denunciation of sin. The leftist affects to love the sinner and, as a result, excuses or denies sin thereby leaving the sinner mired in his sin. If you really do love the sinner, as Jesus did, you seek to release him from his sin not encourage him in it on the spurious grounds of non-condemnation. That's not love. It's complicity in sin. Jesus admonished the crowd chasing the woman caught in adultery but he did not stop there. He told the woman to sin no more.

Liberals mistake being nice for loving but what is the greater love, that you support someone walking over a cliff or you turn him back? Love does not confirm someone in their errors but directs them towards the truth.

Next, the liberal tells us that Jesus was all about peace and love, and therefore he would support us rather than the war-mongering hate filled right. I’m sure that Jesus would not condone either war-mongering or hate coming from any quarter but it cannot be denied that he specifically said that he did not come to bring peace but a sword. That he would set husband against wife, daughter against mother and so on. Of course, Jesus taught peace and love but not peace and love on any terms, not fake peace and love. He taught real peace and love which can only come when you walk in the light of spiritual truth and give your heart to God, the living God before whom the liberal refuses to bend the knee.

Jesus did not teach equality. We may all be one in God but not as individual men and women.  He recognised and respected tradition. He was not a revolutionary.  That was Judas, the man who preferred radical politics to religion, the same Judas who ostensibly wanted to sell an ointment used to wipe Jesus’s feet and give the money to the poor. But what does St John tell us about that? “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and took what was put therein.” If anyone ticked the left wing box it was surely Judas.



I'm not claiming that Jesus was what we would today call right wing but the concerns of traditional religion are surely closer to what he taught that those of the contemporary left which actually oppose them at many points, most specifically with regard to the centrality of God.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Saint Edward the Confessor


St. Edward the Confessor by Aidan Hart
www.aidanharticons.com

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Today, October 13th, is the feast of St. Edward the Confessor, King of England from 1042 to 1066. A 'confessor' is one who suffers for the faith but is not called upon to die for it. Edward is so-called to distinguish himself from St. Edward the Martyr, the boy king whose three year reign was brutally terminated by jealous nobles in 978.

Edward was born around 1005 in Islip, Oxfordshire. His mother was Emma of Normandy and his father Edward the Martyr's infamous successor, Ethelred the Unready (978-1016). Ethelred was a weak and vacillating king. Under his disastrous stewardship, the country lay exposed to sustained and ferocious Viking attack and was eventually conquered by Canute the Dane in 1016. Edward and his mother took refuge in Normandy, remaining there until 1041 when invited to return by Hardicanute (1040-1042), Canute's son and last representative of the Danish conqueror's English dynasty.

Edward became king in 1042 upon Hardicanute's premature death. He reigned for 24 years, a long time by Anglo Saxon standards. Opinion is divided as to the merits of his reign. Some historians view him as an astute, sharp-minded ruler, while others criticise the passivity and indecisiveness that created such confusion around the succession paving the way for the William the Conquerors's seizure of the crown nine months after Edward's death.

Edward did little during the first half of his reign to endear himself to the English nobility. He surrounded himself with Norman advisers, excluding the powerful Anglo-Danish Earls from his inner circle. In 1051 a party of Norman visitors sparked a riot in Dover. Edward ordered Godwin, Earl of Wessex, to punish the English offenders. When Godwin refused, Edward sent him into exile along with his family. The following year Godwin returned at the head of an army. The Witan (the Anglo Saxon parliament) declined to support the king and Edward was forced to back down. His Norman advisers were sent home and Edward began to withdraw from public affairs, leaving the administration of the realm - including a series of wars against the Welsh - first to Godwin and then,  after his death in 1053, to his son, Harold. He focused his energies instead on the construction of a great church in the heart of London. Dedicated to St. Peter, it became known as Westminster Abbey and stands today as Edward's lasting legacy to his kingdom.

Edward, first and foremost, was a man of God. Religion was his passion and he may, in many respects, have found greater fulfilment as a monk than a king. His wife, Godwin's daughter, Edith, might have concurred. Edward had taken a vow of celibacy in his youth and this, extraordinarily, appears to have remained in place even after his marriage in 1045. He had a great reputation for holiness amongst the people, however, as illustrated in this legend. Edward, it is said, was riding one day to a chapel dedicated to St. John the Evangelist when a beggar asked for alms. Edward had no money with him so he took off his ring and gave it to the man instead. A few years later, in the summer of 1065, two English pilgrims were travelling through the Holy Land and became stranded. They were helped by an old man who told him he was St. John the Evangelist. He was carrying the ring Edward had given to the beggar some years previously. He asked the pilgrims to return it to the king, telling him that in six months time he would meet St. John in Heaven.

Edward was also believed to have been blessed with the gift of healing. He began the royal custom of touching sick people to cure them, a tradition which continued for nearly 700 years until the advent of George I in 1714. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, written some 550 years after Edward's reign, we see this exact property discussed by Malcolm and Macduff as they plot their return to Scotland from the safe harbour of Edward's court:

MALCOLM: 
Comes the king forth, I pray you?

DOCTOR: 
Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched souls
That stay his cure: their malady convinces 
The great assay of art; but at his touch -
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand -
They presently amend.

MALCOLM:
I thank you, doctor.

MACDUFF:
What's the disease he means?

MALCOLM:
'Tis called the evil:
A most miraculous work in this good king;
Which often, since my home-remain in England,
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
Himself best knows: but stranegly-visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers; and 'tis spoken,
To the succeeding royalty he leaves 
The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
And sundry blessings hang about his throne,
That speak him full of grace. (Act IV, Scene III)

Shakespeare's perception, as always, is razor sharp here. It isn't so much what Edward did or didn't do as a political leader that counts, but the impression he made on the hearts and minds around him. Something in his person, some quality of his being, spoke to people on a deep and meaningful level, bringing a measure of healing and serenity to those he met. He exuded peace, and by his very presence made others feel close to God. The legends surrounding him grew, therefore, out of this innate spiritual radiance.

Edward was canonised in 1161 and was considered one of England's patron saints until Edward III adopted St. George in 1351. Like ourselves, he lived and acted in challenging and uncertain times. In many ways, however, our situation feels more precipitous. Contemporary England no longer knows or enjoys the protecting, nurturing shelter of a shared faith. The idea of a common good, guaranteed by the monarch, in which everyone has a stake, is fast disappearing. English society is atomised and fragmented. People are losing faith - in God, in their country, in themselves. Politics and culture grow increasingly polarised, while all manner of instability - financial, emotional, intellectual - runs amok across the land.

Let us turn to St. Edward then, today especially, that he may bless our country and pray for her inhabitants, ourselves - that our hurts may be healed, our hearts softened and our minds redirected towards that abiding Truth which animated him in his life and brought such solace and such an indelible sense of the holy to the men and women he encountered.

This is the reorientation our fractured society cries out for - a restoration and restatement of what is eternal and real - the natural pattern, order and harmony of God's creation.

St. Edward the Confessor, pray for us.
St. Edward the Confessor, pray for England.


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

What does Freedom mean?

In a world that is already substantially totalitarian - in terms of the high level of thought-monitoring and thought-control - and where trends are towards more totalitarianism; it is necessary to be clear about the nature and purpose of freedom.

Firstly - what freedom is Not:

Freedom is neither freedom-from; nor is it freedom-to...

Because freedom-from influence is merely what people mean by 'random' - while freedom-to do something refers to this-worldly and material factors, which are always and inevitably constrained.

We need to be clear that freedom is freedom of thought; and freedom of thought means what it says - freedom in thinking (not in doing, which is never free).

And freedom from influence is missing the point - because the point is Not to be free of any influence; but to understand where free thinking comes from: what is its origin?

The origin of free thinking is the self: specifically the real self; and the real self is that which is capable of creating thought. Creation means that thought comes neither as merely a consequence of outside influence, nor randomly, nor a combination of determined and random -- but instead creation is the thinking of a thinking-entity; the thinking of a being capable of creative thought...

So, the real self can be imagined as a complex, coherent, autonomous entity with attributes such as character, motivations, inbuilt knowledge, instincts, a capacity for reason... and so forth. the self is what we find, by introspection , behind everything.

The real self therefore has divine attributes - because this kind of entity is precisely what is meant by a personal deity: a god the origin of purposes.

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So, if this is freedom - then why is freedom good?

The answer is that freedom is not good except for Christians (and even then, only for Christians of a certain kind). For everybody else, freedom is merely a means to an end; and expediency...

Why is freedom a good for Christians, specifically? Because Christianity can only be chosen, and because obedience (law-following) is not enough: Christianity teaches that motivation for action is primary, which entails freedom.

Why is totalitarianism bad? Because (by maximal monitoring and control) it tries to stop freedom of thinking, and thereby tries to stop people being Christian. As well as censoring, and filling the mind, and creating continual distractions; this ultimately aims to induce people to choose inversion of The Good.

Inversion of Good is (mostly) reversal of what might be termed Natural Law - that is the universal, innate, spontaneous ideal morality of mankind (typically, this is asserted even by people who do evil things - they regard their own motivations as good).

*

If we are reasonably clear as to the nature of freedom, and if we subscribe to a transcendental world view (that is, a world view extending beyond emotional gratification during mortal life), and if this view is Christian - then we can understand that totalitarianism is always and necessarily evil.

There cannot be a Christian totalitarianism, therefore all totalitarianisms are anti-Christian (even/ especially when they falsely self-identify as Christian).


Friday, 6 October 2017

Atheists and Believers

The self is a prison from which we all yearn to escape. But at the same time it is also that which frees us from fate and necessity and opens us up to the reality of love. How can we reconcile these two things? There is only one way and that is through God.

What is the difference between the self-hatred of the nihilist and the recognition that he is a sinner of the saint? Both are reacting to the reality of their selfhood and its enclosed nature in different ways, but one reacts from the self itself while the other reacts from awareness of a truth beyond the self.

The difference is that between despair and hope, hatred and love, denial and faith. It is the difference between the refusal to see there is anything more than me of the nihilist and the trust in a higher power of the saint. The nihilist rejects while the sinner accepts. The one is closed and the other is open.

But why even say nihilist and saint, why go to extremes? The exact same contrast exists between the atheist and the believer. When all is said and done, these are the two types of human being and this is the major line of demarcation between human beings.

Whence arises this difference between the two types? The answer is that in the one there is the trace, however small it may be, of humility and love while in the other there is pride and denial. Of course, we all have these contradictory elements within us but it is the side we incline to in our hearts that makes the difference.

So I would say that the atheist denies and rejects because of pride while the believer accepts because of love. Perhaps this sounds too simplistic, and it may well be so, but there is still something to be said for reducing complexities and mixed motivations to their simplest state because then we get down to basic truths and the reality of the heart.

When our teachers assess our spiritual state it is the heart they look at. An open heart is open to God but a closed heart denies God. However moral you may be in the eyes of the world if you deny God your heart is closed. It really is that simple.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Gareth Knight and Experience of the Inner Worlds

Gareth Knight is a highly respected writer on the occult who works, roughly speaking, in the tradition of Dion Fortune, see here and here. His book Experience of the Inner Worlds is an excellent overview of Western esotericism from a Christian perspective and is recommended to readers of this blog who might be interested in such a subject. Those who shy away from the word 'occult' should know that it really just refers to the inner side of creation and is no more concerned with black magic than any other science of which it might be considered a branch. So exploring this path could, potentially, lead you into trouble, especially if pride and ambition are involved, but in itself it is neutral. All depends on purity of intent. That having been said, you could still say that the game is not worth the candle and you could well be right. When it comes down to it only one thing matters and that is, of course, seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven.

The part of the book I want to draw attention to here, though, is purely religious in content. It concerns the stages of ascent on the spiritual path as they are expressed in terms of Sufism, though really they are more or less exactly the same in Christianity. Who influenced whom in this respect is an interesting question and not one I am qualified to answer though I would always point to the Gospels as a primary source for the ideas expressed here. I do believe that the Sufis inherited the idea of love from the Christians since there is not much for them to go on in that regard in their holy book. In my view Islam was a return to Old Testament ideas of religion and thus several steps down in spiritual terms from Christianity and the New Testament, never mind its misunderstanding and rejection of Christ as the Son of God. Sufism was an attempt to correct that and to introduce a mysticism of love to a religion of law. That's why it's still regarded with suspicion within orthodox Muslim circles.

The stages are as follows:

Conversion and repentance. 
This is the necessary first step. It is the acknowledgement that we have not been walking in the light of God and the determination to change our ways. Conversion is not just adopting a new belief system. It means a complete uprooting of our old ways of thinking and doing, and an opening up of the heart and mind to hitherto denied realities. Repentance means a deep and sincere regret of our previous sinful ways based on a real recognition of them and how they are an insult to our Maker. This is not self-hatred for at the same time we accept that we are made in God's image so that when we turn to him we can start to become like him. That is a long journey though. There is no point being deceived on that account and thinking conversion and repentance are anything more than the start of a road that leads uphill and through some very hard terrain before we get to the top of the mountain. Nevertheless the beginning of a journey is in many ways the most important part.

Fear of the Lord.
This is fear in the sense of the overwhelming recognition of the power and glory of the Creator and the appreciation that he is the source of our being. So not fear as in being frightened but a recognition that there is something so far above us as to make our own little ego insignificant. Again, though, this is a matter of insight into reality so it includes the knowledge that we are loved and treasured for ourselves, though not so much for our personality (as we judge it in this world ) but our unique individuality.

Detachment.
This is the understanding that God is reality and this world subsists entirely in him. He should be the focus of our thoughts and desires not anything that lies in the created world and is not him. We do not have to reject creation but we do have to see it as secondary. So detachment means not having idols of any kind, not setting our thoughts or desires on objects which can be physical or mental. We seek the Subject.

Poverty,
This is letting go of worldly concerns and being content with little and sometimes even nothing. It is connected to detachment and it leads to freedom. Ultimately we will find that we have access to everything but to reach that stage we must learn to desire nothing. This word desire sometimes causes misunderstanding. A person quite devoid of desire is dead. Desire is immature love. So enjoyment of God's gifts is not wrong at all, but it should be a non-grasping desire that is able to enjoy spontaneously without seeking to repeat or prolong the experience or reduce it to egotistic self-seeking or satisfaction. 

Patience. 
Patience means acceptance of God's will and knowing that where you are and what you experience is what you need here and now. It is waiting on God's good time and not trying to force his hand. It is being able to live in the moment without trying to turn that into the future. Really it is knowing that God is always with you even if you can't see or feel him, and so all will be well.

Self-surrender.
Give yourself entirely to God.This is the precursor to union. You must let go of self, holding nothing back, and open your heart fully to God, your Creator. It is a kind of self-emptying but not in the sense of an annihilation or denial of self but of a gift of self. You are returning what God gave you to him and he will give it back filled with himself.

Union with God.
The final stage of the spiritual journey. The union of the individual soul with the Universal Soul. But it is not an abstract thing as that might suggest and nor is it an absorption, a 'dewdrop slipping into the shining sea'. Or rather the dewdrop does slip into the sea but it retains its 'dewdropness', and the sea is not a vast cosmic ocean of impersonal life but the living God of love and goodness and truth. Thus the fruits of incarnation and experience of the material world are retained not simply let go and abandoned as though they had never been. The self, purified and transformed, is united with God and the journey from spirit to matter and back to spirit is complete but the individual self remains as a glorified new creation. The end is the beginning but with all the benefits of the journey made between the two. Initial oneness is made more by its transformation into relationship.

Those are the stages in the spiritual journey according to the mystical path of Sufism with my commentaries on them. I would say the Christian way is no different but I would also say that a Christian theology makes more sense of this path of love than the Islamic one and has probably been a strong influence on it.



Sunday, 1 October 2017

What can be done towards awakening Albion?

Christ's troubled sleep by William Blake

This summer I did some travelling in England, keeping aware (as best I could) of the spiritual situation.

My solid impression is that there remain considerable reservoirs of instinctive goodness; but there is near-zero consciousness of the nature of things.

All explicit knowledge is secular, materialistic, and mostly Leftist.

So there is, in Albion, a split between intellect (atheist, materialist, net-evil) and inarticulate gut-feelings (spontaneously pagan supplemented with memories of Christianity) which are the basis of Good.

What is utterly lacking in Albion is precisely what I regard as most necessary: a conscious awareness of the current situation derived from the intuitive knowledge of the heart; a clear, simple, chosen knowledge of how things are and what is (personally) required of each-of-us...

Lacking-which Albion cannot awaken because she cannot repent; and she cannot repent because she does not understand.

She is asleep - drugged, anaesthetised, tranquillised - and in a nightmare; but lacks knowledge of her state, and lacks even the desire to awaken. 

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So, what is to be done? I mean done now, by you and by me - not waiting on some national scheme; not waiting for some kind of organisation or institution.

We are restricted to the mode of 'communication' (by the normal channels, by the senses and by media) because shared direct knowing would require that participants be awake; and Albion is asleep...

Given that The Problem is exactly that the modes of communication - mass media, official channels, public discourse, and increasingly even personal conversations - are all monitored, controlled, and hedged by threats and sanctions... this makes matters difficult. Consequently, there can be no general advice, no standard schemes or systems of how to awaken Albion.

We must await the arrangements initiated by imperceptible divine spiritual beings - and ready for these when they do occur - which is only intermittently; windows of opportunity opening when circumstances have been shaped and put into place. Such alignments of circumstance are potential fruitful because there may be sufficient genuine communication to enable direct sharing of knowledge.

On that basis, individual people of Albion may find themselves confronted with an informed, aware, free choice to discover reality, repent, awaken...

We need to be in readiness for such moments - to develop habits conducive to recognising and living-in such moments - habits of discernment, intuitive awareness, honesty and so on.

There is no formula for making best use of such moments - indeed, what is required is precisely the opposite of a formula. But we may trust that there will be such moments, and be ready for them.