Hotherus: I think Christianity and its proper place and role in European life is the central question. Can it be restored or not? And indeed should it be restored?
One of the biggest problems within Christianity is the place of the Bible. The Protestants main criticism of Catholicism is that its doctrines were not to be found in the Bible. And they were right. What the Protestants didn’t realize is that you can’t have a functioning society based on the Bible, certainly not on the New Testament.
The New Testament presupposes an opposition or at least separation between mainstream society and the Christian religion. Christ called his followers to leave everything to follow him, even to the point of hating father and mother. But obviously that command cannot apply to all of society and at all times.
Christ’s words “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” is very problematic. Didn’t Caesar himself became a god at death? Isn’t he God’s representative on Earth? Isn’t part of rendering to Caesar his due participating in religious sacrifices and pledging loyalty to the state? His claim that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it likewise is unclear. Should the law still be followed or not? And what if one is not Jewish? Did Christ mean he came to fulfill the Jewish law alone, or that he was the fulfillment of all religions?
And Paul’s words “there is no authority except that which god has established,” and he commands one not to rebel against authority. But as I’m sure you know in the ancient world religious and state authority were linked. To not honour Jupiter is to rebel against authority.
There is no clear indication of exactly what the relationship between state and church is supposed to be as there was no consideration of a Christian society. That leaves the Old Testament which does present a society where the two are linked but that results in other problems. This includes the question of how does a Christian interpret the Old Testament, something that still has not been resolved. But more than that, it creates an impression that I find deeply troubling. The Jewish scriptures were written for the Jewish people, to include them as part of the Christian scripture, but not the scriptures of any other earlier culture, give the impression that before the coming of Christ, the Jews and the Jews alone knew the truth, knew God. Everyone else is in error.
About art: I agree that modern methods can be used effectively as a weapon. But I wonder when does the destruction end and the construction begin? Evola was involved in Dadá, but he moved on, when he felt that there was no reason for him to continue with that, I believe when he started to get a better understanding of the world of tradition. Imagine Guénon had been a painter, can you see him being involved in Dadá?
I don’t see anything ludicrous about attempting to revitalize tradition within music, if one is so inclined. Likewise for painting, sculpture, architecture, etc. We must go beyond reading tradition and thinking tradition, to living tradition, being tradition. Tradition encompasses all aspects of life.
For Christianity to revitalize tradition a number of important changes would need to be made. First would be to get the “Bible” out of the vernacular. It’s time to bring back the “Vulgate.” The other option is to end universal literacy. Some would call that cruel, but it really isn’t. The essay “The Bugbear of Literacy” by Coomaraswamy is very good on that topic.
If most people could not read the Bible, it could much more easily be changed. Texts by figures that some saw as predecessors to Christ could be added as the “new” old testament. These could include Plato, Hermes Trismegistus, and Zoroaster.
Sex has always been a major problem for Christianity and that would need to be addressed. While both Christ and Paul do advocate celibacy, they never require it, so the requirement that priests be celibate would need to be dropped, to ensure that high quality individuals that make up the priesthood would continue their family line. The ascetic path of the monk would be recognized as a valid one, but only for the few. The prohibition of birth control and avoiding “deviant” sexual practices (ones not leading to pregnancy) would also need to be dropped. These prohibitions indicate that the sacred character of sexuality was lost in Christianity, if it was ever there. Sexual imagery from the Song of Solomon could be used for paintings and sculptures within churches.
The institutional church should take the attitude toward sexuality and all moral issues that a pagan priest would. That isn’t really his concern. The church’s concern should be that church buildings are maintained, that mass is performed properly, and that people attend. Matters of personal morality are a matter for individual families and the community. Pagan figures including Thor or Herakles could be added as patron saints that individuals could pray to.
Some inner initiatic order, like the Templars, would need to be created to “control” the church whether openly or not.
Adam: I’ll be honest, you appear far more knowledgeable of Christianity than I am. My main criticism would be that it lacks an inner esoteric doctrine, thus the entire faith rests upon the exoteric interpretation of the masses: something unstable and very changeable as history has shown. Any vagueness remains unclarified, history becomes muddled, symbolism is forgotten and the ethos of the entire doctrine declines; it shifts (and has done) from aiming upwards to aiming downwards. I shouldn’t need to provide examples of this.
On Evola’s involvement in Dadá, keep in mind that he was a warrior; he felt a deep inclination to make statements and to externalize his internal side in an aggressive, provocative manner. It was just a part of his personality. Guénon was a scholar and a priest through-and-through, thus he largely had no inclination to externalize himself overmuch with the exception being works of academic value. A far calling from the boisterous involvement Evola had with those turbulent ideologies in the middle-twentieth century. It comes down, again, I think, to intention; to do things in a certain style: Evola was an outward facing warrior, Guénon an inward facing scholar, and the interplay of those two archetypes essentially creates leaders for people like you and I, I’d assume. Personally? I feel I’m more of a scholar, but we are living in times in need of warriors; of leaders.
You are right about tradition, but I’m sticking to my guns as far as what I said before about music. Thinking about it more, tradition manifests in a certain way through classical music, not the other way around. Tradition is a style; an intention; of looking upwards. This can be manifest in multiple fashions, as we have seen through the ages in various cultures; various races; and yet them all being of “tradition.” “Classical music” is one such manifestation of tradition, but it is dead as far as the mainstream goes – and the intention here, as far as I’m aware, is to re-introduce tradition to the masses; to re-implement it back into mainstream society to steer our civilization onto a better course. This is not an aim which is achievable through attempting to regenerate “dead” manifestations. New ones need to appear, I think.
The danger of allowing the Bible/Vulgate to be more easily changed is the question of how to avoid it degenerating further? How can we be sure those who are tasked with reconstructing it, with “correcting” it, will do so in a proper fashion? In the “right” fashion? Questions, questions, questions…
I wholeheartedly agree with you on the creation of a new initiatic order. This is tied with the lack of an inner, esoteric doctrine in the church. The creation of such a thing could definitely steer things in a proper direction, but this would be very difficult to achieve realistically.
Hotherus: Yes, there is a danger with changing the Bible, but it’s been done before, several times. To avoid removing anything, books of lesser spiritual value, such as most of the Torah, could be moved into an expanded apocryphal section. A less satisfactory option would be to include Plato or Asclepius as church fathers of equal stature to Augustine or Aquinas. How this could be done by the right people in the right way, I have no idea, but that’s true of everything I’m discussing here. It simply has to be done. Either Christianity will go through the greatest transformation/reformation in its history or it will lose all relevance for Western man.
The problem with the Bible closely relates to the issue of an inner esoteric doctrine. It’s unclear just what the authors of the New Testament were really trying to say, and to what extend the various authors would have been in agreement. Is it meant to read straight, that is only on the surface, or is there some deeper meaning? It is possible to read much of the Bible esoterically, but one can never be sure if that meaning is really there or not.
What to me does seem clear is that at some point in its history, there have been people in the church who did have a deep spiritual understanding, the almost magical power of medieval art, music, and especially architecture reveal this. However, where or how these individuals obtained this spiritual knowledge may have had nothing to do with the bible.
John Anthony west, the primary interpreter of the work of Rene Schwaller, has talked about the distinct effect that each Egyptian temple has on an occupant. Each temple was designed to “embody” a principle of the universe, which is a god. So at one temple Thoth would be present, Horus at another, and Hathor at another. The medieval cathedrals were the closest thing that Europe produced in modern times to following this same principle.
The sacraments, especially the Eucharist, should be a sort of yoga for the West. That they are not experienced in that way indicates that they are not being performed correctly, or that that were ineffectively designed, perhaps elements of both.
Whether the Bible or orthodox Christianity contains true esoteric wisdom or not, there is such wisdom to be found in the Western tradition, as many Christians themselves have recognized. Most people are not pursuing esoteric wisdom, nor should they be, as they are not inclined that way, and therefore they do not need to be well informed about doctrine and theology. They need only order and structure to their lives, which could be provided by the church. The inner core of the church does need that esoteric wisdom, and they would be far better served in that regard by reading the Corpus Hermeticum than the book of James.
Adam: What you’re suggesting is not something I can find fault in. The only issue here is: how are these things to be done?
I think in the next century or so, Europe could potentially enter another dark age as a result of all the chaotic and subversive elements within the mainstream culminating into a whirlpool of nihilistic destruction. Whether this climaxes in an all-out world war, or the collapse of nation-states, or whatever, is beside the point. The chaos of the internal state of modern man will worsen to a point of absolution which is then reflected into the external culture even more so than it presently is. Cultural Marxism has destroyed literally all roots between individuals with only two exceptions: the desire for material wealth; and the identity of “human being” (the latter is already shaded by some identity politics). Absolute chaos, nihilism; nothingness via everythingness; a drowning of man in a sea of phantasmagorical ideology and desire. This, of course, is not the case for every human being. You, I, and others are essentially free from the spell of bourgeois, modern living. We’re the disillusioned ones who, really, are liberated but alone. Freedom is a lonely place, but someone has to be here; it’s an inevitability.
The issue with focusing on religion or religious doctrine, is that it is a presupposition that there is an external, collective culture within which it can operate and provide the collective with a spiritual basis for life. The contemporary thing which is serving a religious function is a multi-headed hydra; the dragon of modernity (to be poetic) which encompasses:
- A) The political left in its many forms, which is a practical application of an inclusive, mass-orientated worldview centered on bringing existence itself down to the very basest and most common denominator.
- B) Personal freedom, which operates on a purely selfish, hedonistic, ego-serving level devoid of anything above itself. The individual traps his existence within his own capacity for sensual experience; “a man lives a good life when he is happy.” “Happy” of course is synonymous with sensual pleasure and a feeling of euphoria and escapism: liberation on a strictly worldly level.
- C) The articulation of ideology. This is not the same as A) as the latter is a kind of manifestation of tribal populism which ultimately aims at the fulfillment of B) as far as the masses are concerned. The articulation of ideology is elitism: Marxism; progressivism, which are the products of intellectuals. Essentially, intellectuals of this type believe that human society should be ran by a class of hyper-academics who can treat the broad masses of human civilization like a scientist treats a petri dish. The higher capitalists such as bankers are partly of this realm, but they really just wish for more money. A Marxist truly believes himself to be aiding the whole collective in the name of destiny.
There are, of course, fringe elements such as immigrants and asylum seekers who are essentially a part of the masses, but only with the permission of the intellectual class who see them as a tool to further destroy the bonds between Europeans; but the prior three areas are the ones which seem most apparent to me right at this second. I could be wrong, in any case.
Now… How on earth is the Christianity you’re formulating going to be introduced to this scenario? I understand that, on Christianity, we are being hypothetical, but the world to me seems to be in such a case of utter chaos, that any introduction of “order” in any sense will be rejected. Would the Church by dying in Western Europe and the Anglosphere if this wasn’t already the case?
This brings us back to a collapse of Europe. I think after the slate is essentially wiped clean, then there could be a chance at some revival or reintroduction of sorts. Perhaps the chances and implications of this are more worth exploring than group religion at this point? It seems like, in my eyes, we’re putting the cart before the horse.