fbpx
Cath-Pilled Shoplifting Theory with Dasha from Red Scare

Dasha Nekrasova is co-host of the podcast Red Scare https://www.patreon.com/RedScare We discussed the One Holy Apostolic Church, Simone Weil, the best and worst drugs, prayer, Pussy Riot, Zizek, shoplifting, abortion, Deleuze, accelerationism, and many other things.

They just shut down Google Hangouts so we're still adjusting to a whole new recording setup — the audio is a little wonky, sorry!

Big thanks to all the patrons who help me keep the lights on.

If you'd like to discuss this podcast with me and others, suggest future guests, or read/watch/listen to more content on these themes, request an invitation here. This conversation was first recorded on August 8, 2019 as a livestream on Youtube. To receive notifications when future livestreams begin, subscribe to my channel with one click, then click the little bell.

Click here to download this episode.

The Cybernetic Trinity

The Trinity is one of the more vexing doctrines in all of the Catholic tradition. God is one, and yet God is three: the father, the son Christ who walked on earth, and the Holy Spirit. To make matters worse, God even has a mother, to whom one prays quite like one prays to God. My understanding of this vexing system is that it encodes the concept of “auto-production” or “bootstrapping,” the paradoxical capacity of systems to generate themselves ex nihilo.

The Trinity provides an impressively intelligent counterpoint to the naïve creationist tendency, in which the Gospels sometimes sound as if some magical kind of person created the universe by himself. There's nothing evil about such a linguistic device, but it is obviously naïve and inadequate technically. Any half-educated atheist can tell you, correctly, that such a model cannot plausibly account for who or what created the conditions for the creator; that such a naive model merely halts an infinite regress by brute force. More realistically, as cybernetics and the study of complex systems have shown, systems can very well bootstrap themselves from random perturbations among a few initial elements or particles. Which particular element or particle moved first is often impossible to determine, for it is their interaction that kicks off the systems’ dynamics. Auto-production is at work in the cosmological model known as the Big Bang, for instance.

The Catholic Trinity, plus the strangely important figure of Mary, is an intuitive approximation of a complex-systems model. God is one, the one name for that which created everything, but the nature of this one is to be a set. It is the circulation and mutual-stimulation of the elements in this one set that is the essential miracle of life.

Virtues of the Desert

Here is Joseph Ratzinger, formerly Pope Benedict, on St. John the Baptist.

He was not ordered to deny Jesus Christ, but was ordered to keep silent about the truth” (cf. Homily 23: CCL 122, 354). And he did not keep silent about the truth and thus died for Christ who is the Truth. Precisely for love of the truth he did not stoop to compromises and did not fear to address strong words to anyone who had strayed from God’s path…

The entire existence of the Forerunner of Jesus was nourished by his relationship with God, particularly the period he spent in desert regions (cf. Lk 1:80). The desert regions are places of temptation but also where man acquires a sense of his own poverty because once deprived of material support and security, he understands that the only steadfast reference point is God himself.  

Martyrdom of St John the Baptist by Benedict XVI

Hat tip to Aria.

Hallow be thy name

To say that one believes in God is to be stupid and wrong by the definition of these words in modern secular culture. And yet I believe that I believe, so how? The word “God” does not mean what modern people mean when they deploy it. The word is ambiguous to the extreme, for good reason. In the Our Father, also known as the Lord’s Prayer, Christians pray to God: “hallowed be thy name…” Hallow — which means to sanctify — is in the passive voice and future tense. The word or name God is supposed to recede from profane access. To say one believes in God is not to advance any mundane empirical claim whatsoever, it is to hallow the name — to push it further and further “off limits” from exactly the mundane political jostling in which modern people intend to ensnare you by asking about it. There is no need for Catholics to affirm the empirical reality of a discrete creator-agent — a guy in the clouds — or any particular image or empirical conception that someone might wish to pin on the name God, so long as one believes in God. Neither am I endorsing pantheism, which also says too much, but in the opposite direction. What the word “God” means is not for me to explain, let alone argue about — to believe is only to believe that it makes sense, somehow, despite one’s admitted incomprehension. Anyone who requires additional affirmations regarding the existence of God, affirmations that are positively inconsistent with scientific rationality, is a heretic who calls for lying.

Religion, guilt, and creativity

One feature of religion a lot of secular people do not understand is that, although religion can make one feel guilty at times, it also prevents one from feeling guilty about trivial matters. Secular people think that by avoiding religion they avoid feeling guilt, but often they end up overwhelmed by guilt, because they attribute to all their mundane earthly projects an inflated moral significance.

One of the best examples is creative or intellectual work. Or career advancement. If I publish a blog post that everyone hates, or if I fail to get a promotion, or one of my silly hypotheses turns out to be wildly wrong, I really don't care because none of these things matter too much for better or worse. I believe they constitute a meaningful and honorable calling, and my dedication to this calling I believe to be Good in the long-run, in a way that matters. But failure on any particular project causes me no shame, because it reflects no sin. Shortcomings on such earthly diversions simply never take a moral tone for me, because they are orthogonal to morality as I know it with the help of my religious tradition. For a good Christian, creative and intellectual work is beyond Good and Evil. But for people who don't believe in sin, for people who think they can simply free themselves from guilt by ignoring it, then a failed writing project or a career setback can feel like a moral failure. It can, and often does, produce feelings of shame, for instance.

If one of my personal intellectual efforts fails, I would never think to bring this to the confessional! Which means I would never experience compunction or shame about it. For the arrogant, modern, secular type who thinks himself too good for the confessional, some little practical shortcoming that hurts nobody can affect their body like a real sin would affect mine. Not only does secular guilt accumulate more heavily (given the frequency of practical shortcomings), but the secular person suffers from guilt far longer than the Catholic, for the secular person admits no mechanism of absolution. This is one of the least understood reasons why modern secular minds are sometimes unable to create, despite deep yearnings to create. And why — when they do create — it is often superficial, instrumental, and ephemeral. They conflate their earthly, mental creations with an eternal, ethical plane they neurotically deny and desire. Finding their finite abilities not up to the task, they decide never to begin, or sell themselves short.

Why no depiction of Hitler is evil enough

Robin Hanson thinks it the result of a signaling spiral, "wherein people strive to show how moral they are by thinking... even more lowly of standard exemplars of bad..." Certainly possible, and plausible.

But there is an alternative explanation: Hitler is the Devil — for Protestant atheists (secular progressives, in the cladistics of Mencius Moldbug). And why Hitler, of all the terrible people who could be elevated to Devil? (Note Hanson's theory does not explain this.)

The theory of Protestant atheism has more explanatory traction here. Democracy and industrialism are arguably the two major dimensions of Modernity, and Modernity is a bargain with the actual Devil. Hitler is perhaps the purest, the least alloyed product of industrialism and democracy, before Modernity evolved its outer armor involving several layers of confusion and obfuscation. Hitler may be a uniquely dramatic embodiment of everything that is wrong with Modernity, but there is no way to say so without endorsing an essentially Christian eschatology. The problem is that people don't want to be Christian; it's pretty much mutually-exclusive with cosmopolitan success via symbol-manipulating careers. However, they still want to say that bad things are bad, and that some things are so bad that they're... really bad. So they must, ultimately, generate a symbol of the Devil. That is, they must eventually believe in the existence of the Devil. And what symbol will they converge on, if not the explicitly theological one that's been on offer for ages? Well, whatever is too much themselves, whatever dramatizes their own bargain too clearly.

1 2 3 5

The content of this website is licensed under a CREATIVE COMMONS ATTRIBUTION 4.0 INTERNATIONAL LICENSE. The Privacy Policy can be found here. This site participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram