Review: The Devil’s Pleasure Palace

What is the Christian Response to Cultural marxism? While everyone is morally obligated to fight a war to the death against the Frankfurt School, that doesn’t mean every effort is equally good.  Most, in fact, are not. Walsh’s book is a mixed bag.  He is a professional music critic and when he sticks to that topic, his analyses are always erudite and occasionally insightful.  When he gets into biblical and philosophical issues, he is in trouble.  I will say it another way: he has no clue what he is talking about. 

devil

The pleasure was….not mine

Thesis: the West faces a war against the morality of the epic of Genesis vs. the neo-Marxist cult of critical theory.

Throughout the narrative Walsh will interweave Genesis (which he doesn’t necessarily think is real; he might, but his language is ambiguous), Goethe’s Faust, and Milton to illustrate the satanic seduction. I guess there is a way that can work, but the reader often loses sight of the thesis in the minute discussions of Faust.  Further, Goethe’s own private embodied the very sexual dissolution that Walsh rejects.

Overly Strong claims:

“Art is the gift from God, the sole true medium of truth” (12).   God’s only medium of truth?  Really?

Simply Erroneous Claims

~“And yet, paradoxically, it is her transgression…that makes her, and us, fully human” (19).  I thought it was because God created us human.  Further, Jesus didn’t have any transgressions, yet he is fully (though not merely) human.  Even more, we won’t have transgressions in heaven, yet presumably we will be human.

~Misreads Hegel as a simple thesis/antithesis/synthesis (23, 25).

~”There is no predestination, only free will” (162).  But even Arminians know the word is in the Bible, so there is at least one form of predestination.

Boomercon  Rhetoric

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This is the legendary Lloyd America Johnsonius from Facebook

Says Bush failed to stand up to Vladimir Putin. 

I think this is factually false, as the US engineered the anti-Putin elections in Ukraine in 2004, which resulted in the ousting of Yanukovych.  Further, Bush recognized the heroin/Mafia-state of Kosovo to allow the pipelining of cocaine, heroin, and prostitutes into the West. I think Bush opposed Putin quite often.

Pros

Occasionally neat observations, like where Parcival observes “time become space.” He has a decent analysis of The Eternal Feminine in Faust–none of which actually adds to his argument.

*Good section on Wilhem Reich and the sexual revolution.

* He anticipates meme warfare by noting the Left cannot tolerate being scorned.

Faults

The style is just….bad. And that’s strange given the plethora of literary references.  It reads like a “good ole boy conservative blog” without any of the Southern charm.

If this book were a focus on the musical decadence of the Frankfurt School, it would have been a welcome contribution.  It should have been 100 pages shorter.   As it is, the disconnected analyses on biblical literature, philosophy, and music detract from the scope of the book.

The book also was heavy on loaded language.  True, Critical Theory and Cultural Marxism are demonic and satanic.  True, Herbert Marcuse was a demon in human flesh, but using the epithet “satanic” in every paragraph burdens the reader.

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Analytic Outline, Balthasar’s Cosmic Liturgy

This isn’t an outline of the whole book–only the first half.  That is where Balthasar’s discussion on Person and Nature is.  I first read this book in 2010 when I was new to Maximus the Confessor.  Those were heady days. Maximus_Confessor

  1. the Free mind
    1. Opening up tradition: Maximus undercut Origenism by interpreting Gregory of Nazianzus in Origenist language (35).
    2. Between Emperor and Pope: tore the Greek tradition away from the destructive claws of the Empire.  
  1. Between East and West
    1. Religion and revelation
        1. Asiatic view of One and Many; seeking the Absolute which exists in a state of formlessness
        2. Biblical religion: man and God stand in confrontation, not emanation and decline.
      1. Polarities and Synthesis
        1. Maximus held to the Western view of phusis and logos, which grounds the existence of things.  Western thought also added “personal categories.”
        2. He held to the Eastern religious passion.
      2. Three bodies of material to be synthesized
        1. Origen: subordination is metaphysical; problem for Christology.  Falling away from spirits in a collective unity of God; apakatastis.
        2. Evagrius: silence sensible images and conceptual thought; eliminate form from realm of the spirit.
        3. Alexandrian Christology:
    2. Scholasticism and Mysticism
  2. The synthesis
  3. Divine Unknowing
    1. Lack of knowledge:
    2. The light of God enfolds one beyond the distinction of subject and object (94).
  4. Ideas in God
    1. “The idea of a thing is its truth” (Maximus PG 91, 1085AB).
    2. God’s ideas are not identical with his essence (otherwise I, as an idea of God, would be infinite) nor are they identical with the existence of created entities (HuvB, 118).
    3. Epistemology
      1. Maximus reworks some of Ps. Dionysius’ concepts.  When we approach an idea, or rather, when an idea comes across our consciousness, we first have a general impression of reality (pragma) and gradually grow clearer unity reaches the full knowledge of the individual object.  
      2. “What flashes upon us ‘in an undivided way’ (ameristos) in the first encounter () is not some empty general concept of being–a contradiction in terms–but a revelation concerning the Monad (), the unity of that being that truly is one: a logos that instructs the thinking mind that God and the world are undivided and so makes possible all thought of things different from God (123, see PG 91, 1260D).  
  5. Ideas in the World: A Critique of Origenism
    1. Maximus filtered Origenist spirituality and removed its fangs.
    2. Origen: there once existed an original Henad of beings.  It is a metaphysics of “peira,” of painful necessity (129).

Syntheses of the Cosmos

  1. Being and Movement
    1. The Age.  Finite being is characterized by spatial intervals (diastema), and thereby motion.  
      “To have a beginning, middle, and end is characteristic of things extended in time. One would also be right in adding to this ‘things caught p in the age (aiown).’ For time, whose motion can be measured, is limited by number; the age, however, whose existence is expressed by the category of ‘when,’ also undergoes extension (diastasis), in that its being has a beginning.  But if time and the age are not without beginning, then surely neither ar ethe things that are involved in them” (Centuries on Knowledge, 1.5).
    2. In short, for Origen motion is connected with the fall, while for Maximus it was an ontological expression of created existence (HuvB 141).
    3. Extension:
    4. The definition of every nature is given with the concept of its essential activity (energeia, Ambigua PG 91, 1057B).
      1. The essence of a thing is only truly indicated through the potential for activity that is constitutive of its nature.
      2. A nature is nothing else than organized motion….It is a capacity or plan, a field or system of motion (HuvB 146).
    5. Nature and the Supernatural:
  2. Generality and Particularity
    1. Being in Motion.
    2. The motion of a being is its way of establishing itself as a particular, existent thing (155).
      1. The whole structure of existent things, which are not God, is polar (duas). It is a dynamic relationship between the unity of individuality and the unity of generality (157).
    3. Essence in motion. The essence of all created things is motion–in the manner of expansion (diastole) and contraction (systole).
    4. Balance of contrary motions.

Christ the Synthesis

  1. Synthesis, not confusion, is the first structural principle of all created being (207).
    1. There is no contradiction between divine and finite life.
    2. We do not look for a synthesis on the level of nature and describe it as a synthesis of natural powers (Nestorius) or a natural union (Eutyches).
  2. The terminology
    1. Aristotle: ousia is the highest and most comprehensie of being (216).
      1. The Cappadocians used this as “universal concept
      2. And because Maximus didn’t want to identify God with a universal concept, he places God outside being (Ambigua PG 91, 1036B).
    2. Maximus at times wants to distinguish ousia from this-ousia.
    3. Being (einai). The existential aspect of Being (HuvB 218).
      1. Christ united in his own person “two distinct intelligible structures of being” (logoi tou einai) of his parts.”
    4. Hypokeimenon.  Underlying subject.  Maximus seldom uses this. It denotes the concrete, existent bearer of qualities that determine whata thing is.
      1. It does not mean the same thing as hypostasis. It is more of a point of reference for logical predicates than an existential reality.
    5. Hyparxis. Existence. Used to mean the Being of the Persons of God (tropos tes huparxeos; Cappadocians used this, as did Karl Barth).
    6. Hypostasis. Leontius refined it to mean “being-for-oneself.”  It is what distinguishes a concrete being from others of the same genus (HuvB 223). It is the ontological subject of the ascription of an essence, not the consciousness of such a subject.  
      1. It isn’t merely the contraction (systole) of universal being; it also suggests the “having” of such a being. When the Cappadocian Fathers defined hypostasis as the manner in which each person has his origin, it was to show the reality his having the Godhead.
      2. A nature is the hypostasis’s property (224).
      3. Maximus even suggests that nature is what is according to the image, whereas hypostasis is according to the likeness.  No doubt the Hebrew doesn’t sustain such a reading, but it is interesting that a Greek father would suggest it.
    7. Synthesis
      1. Union (henosis).
      2. Synthetic person.  
    8. Christology of essence.  The act of being is distinct from the actual being of Christ’s human nature. The act of being comes from the divine person, which is why the human nature of Christ isn’t a human person.
  3. Healing as Preservation
    1. The exchange of properties

Terminology:

First Substance (Aristotle): the irreducibleness of a thing.  It has an inner field of meaning and power defined in terms of potency (49).  

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Review: What Sort of Human Nature?

Medieval analytic philosophy gets to the heart of the problem:  If Christ has two natures, one of which he assumed as a human nature, and if he is consubstantial with us in our humanity, yet our nature is sinful, how is Christ not sinful?  Saying he chose not to sin doesn’t answer the question, as merely possessing a human nature tainted by sin makes one guilty. human nature

The short answer to the question is that we only need to show that Christ is fully human, and a tainted human nature is not necessary to the definition of what it means to be human.  Yet this reveals the deep octopus of questions that occurs at the intersection of anthropology and Christology.  Marilyn McCord Adams sets forth several questions on this topic and shows how (and why) the medievals answered the way they did.

Themes

(1) Metaphysical size-gap between God and man.
(2) There is a top-down pressure to regard Christ’s human nature with maximal perfection.
(3) Christ assumes something from each of man’s fourfold states. He has to have something to guide human beings into Beatific glory.

Adams interprets Chalcedon as defining person: Per 451, Person = supposit = individual substance (Adams 8). Other questions that arise: how much did the human soul of Jesus know?  Did it experience defects? If so, what kind?  Was it impeccable?

Anselm denies Christ is born in original sin. If he were, then he would be personally liable.  Anselm says Christ’s human soul was omniscient, yet he doesn’t explain how a finite human mind could have infinite cognitive capacity (17).

Lombard on Christ’s human knowledge: “Once again, Lombard charts a via media: the scope of Christ’s human knowledge matches the Divine, but the created act by which it knows will not be so metaphysically worthy or furnish the maximal clarity of knowledge found in the Divine essence. Even so, it will enable the soul of Christ to contemplate each creature clearly and as present and will include a contemplation of God as well” (21).

Conclusion:

The book admirably serves as a fine example of analytic theology. Adams plumbs the issues and shows the tensions and advantages in each theologian’s position.  I do feel the book’s conclusions were rushed at times, but given that it is actually a lecture and an essay, I suppose that can’t be helped.

 

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Surveying the Conspiracy Blogs

Not all of them are kooky tin foil hats, and after the Wikileaks revelations in 2016, it’s hard to see where they were wrong in the main.  Still, while they are almost always more accurate than CNN, not all conspiracy websites are equal.  I’ve been going through this since 2008, so here is my take.  I am not saying I agree with all of them.

Also the funniest scene in the whole movie

Joseph Farrell.  People laugh at Farrell, but I always tell them (a) he is a D.Phil from Oxford and (b) his conclusions are always judicious and balanced.  And while he does play the Nazi card heavily, he doesn’t see Nazis as the root (and explanation) of every evil event in the world.  His writing style combines analytic precision with profound depth.

Jim Marrs.  I never bought into the Annuki or Reptilians creating us, but Marrs’s stuff on more recent events is pretty good. I definitely recommend his Rise of the Fourth Reich. And he is one of the most natural speakers I’ve ever listened to.

Henry Makow. I came across his blog in 2008.  He does a pretty good job in connecting the dots, though he tends to see the Jews behind everything. He has a brilliant expose of Jeff Rense. I don’t agree with his claim that Putin is working with the New World Order.

Cathy O’Brien.  I’m not sure about her specific claims, but her narrative of CIA mind-control is accurate.

Jay’s Analysis.  Jay is a friend of mine.  I’ve been impressed with how he has come along recently.

Vigilant Citizen.  Some of the early stuff was pretty good, but they have a tendency to see MK-Ultra behind everything.  I also suspect they plagiarized from Jay Dyer.

Hollywood Subliminals. Mostly good.  I think they stretch a lot of images to show the Eye of Horus, but their other stuff is often informative.

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Review: God Incarnate

I’ve gotten to the point that if someone asks me for a basic book on Christology, I point them to Oliver Crisp. Any of his works. I learned more Christology from this book than in my week long Christology course in seminary. Crisp’s stated goal is to use to the tools of analytic theology to focus on key areas in Christology. Show problems and point to solution. He succeeds magnificently.

crisp

try to find the picture where he has a beard

The Election of Jesus Christ

Standard received Reformed view: the sole cause of election is the good pleasure and will of God (Crisp 36). Turretin and others want to deny the claim that Christ’s foreseen merit is the ground of predestination.

Moderate Reformed view: Christ is the ground of election in just one important sense. God decrees election, and he decrees that Christ be one of the ends. Here is where the MRP view points out a tension in the standard treatment: if all of the ad extra works of the Trinity are one, Logos must also be a cause of election, and not just a means.

This section could have done more. I think he pointed out a key insight of the Moderate Reformed group, but he didn’t deal with Bruce McCormack’s reading of Karl Barth (he acknowledged it, though). There is still blood on the ground from the “Companion Controversy.”

Christ and the Embryo

This is where the money is. Chalcedonian Christology demands a pro-life position. If you aren’t willing to use your theology to fight a war to the death against Moloch, then go sit down. This honor isn’t for you. And it gives sometimes strange (yet welcome) implications. For example, human personhood and human nature aren’t the same thing. Christ is fully human, but not a human person.

We need to be clear on this, otherwise we fall prey to Apollinarianism. All humans are created with something like a built-in God-shaped port that the Word can upload himself at the moment of conception. Where this divine upload takes place, the Word prevents the human nature from becoming a human person (107). In other words, if God the Son doesn’t “upload/download” himself into human nature’s hard drive, then personhood begins at conception.

While the demons at Planned Parenthood probably don’t care about Apollinarianism, that line can work well against those who claim a high church conciliar Christology, yet are scared to fight this war. I have in mind the Rachel Held Evans and Calvin College faculty.  If you don’t believe personhood is live at conception (be it divine or human), then you are an Apollinarian.  Now, that should bother the “ancient/liturgy/conciliar” crowd. If you are in that group and you reject the Apollinarian implication, then you probably don’t need to be voting Democrat.  I am not saying you should be Alt Right and posting Crusader memes, but you need to move in that direction.

Materialist Christology

The upshot: not all alternatives to substance dualism are physicalist. Global materialism: the idea that all existing things are essentially material things; there are no immaterial entities. Christian materialists do not necessarily hold this view, as they would acknowledge at least two existing immaterial entities: God and angels.

Global substance dualism: all existing things are composed of matter or spirit (mind), or both matter and spirit. This position can include Christian materialists-about-the-human-person.

The problem in question: can a Christian materialist about the human person hold to Chalcedonian Christology? It initially appears not, as Christ’s has a rational soul? If Christ’s divine mind/soul were to substitute, then Apollinarianism would follow.

Reductive materialists: a human’s mental life can be reduced to some corporeal function.
Non-reductive materialism: the human’s mental life cannot be reduced to some corporeal function.
Property Dualism: a substance that has some properties that are mental and some that are physical.
Substance: a thing of a certain sort that can exist independently of other things of the same sort, has certain causal relations with other substances, and is the bearer of properties (145). A property is an abstract object that either is a universal or functions like one.

Crisp probably should have said why property dualism is false while he was at it.  Nevertheless, a simply grand book.

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Review: Trance-formation

Cathy O’Brien has the unfortunate (though not the most unfortunate thing to ever happen to her) of not being believed by even the conspiracy theory community.  I’m more sympathetic to her story than most, but I will push back on some facts.

Here is the “tl;dr” version.  She was sexually abused by her father from the earliest age and then prostituted out to various high-ranking officials.  During that time the CIA used their MK-Ultra tactics on her.  The mind-control programmed her brain to deliver messages, etc in the guise of sexual favors to diplomats, presidents, and the like.

While the above is evil and satanic, there is nothing of disbelief.  Of course the CIA does stuff like that.  I think what gets most people is when she starts naming names.  Here are the villains, and after each name I will say how believable it is:

  • Ronald Reagan.  I’m not sure on this one.  On one hand, his wife consorted with witches, and O’Brien admits Reagan never personally harmed her and that Reagan himself was outranked by Deep State agents Cheney and George H.W. Bush.
  • Cheney and Bush Sr.  Easily believable.  Only the most Boomercon Neocon thinks Cheney is a good guy.
  • Country Music stars. Undecided.  According to her Merle Haggard was a CIA informant.  Perhaps, but I don’t think he was sober enough to be reliable.  While I have doubts about the actual singers, the country music industry does provide a pipeline of CIA/cocaine activity.   Nashville is a powerful hub.

A Caution

This book is only for the most mature reader, and even then one needs to guard himself with prayer and probably fasting.  I knew going in how evil the CIA is, and I knew what MK-ULTRA involved, but even then I wasn’t prepared.

Now for some basic notes on the book:

Mind-control practices within the occult groups (according to survivors adjudged credible and law enforcement officials) have been accredited with bridging the gap between applied science and Shamanism” (Philips and O’Brien 4).

Some of these were close to home for me.

O’Brien: “Cox demanded I become a Mormon in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This was to “prove” that Satan was everywhere-particularly in the Monroe, Louisiana Mormon church where he led occult ritual” (104)

That’s about 8 minutes from my house.  Another one was where he serial-killer/Satanist Handler lived in Chatham, LA, where a lot of witchcraft activity happens in those swamps (that’s about 25 minutes from my house; that claim is more or less accurate, though the occult activity moved about 60 miles northeast from Chatham since then).

O’Brien mentions that she was forced to participate in the Bohemian Grove.  She doesn’t make as much of it as Alex Jones does.  It happened.  Happens.

Factual Inaccuracies

The only factual problem I had was her claim that La. Senator Bennett Johnson told her he was their on the “Philadelphia Experiment” in 1943.  While I certainly believe the Philadelphia Experiment is real, I don’t think Johnson was there.  Johnson was born in 1932.  This would have made him 11 years old. Unlikely he would be privy to a top-secret project.

Unless he actually went back in time in the experiment, but that raises time-travel paradoxes I don’t want to get into.

Responding to the critics

Critics of the book list several counter-factual problems with O’Brien’s account.  We’ll see which ones hold water:

  1. Why didn’t the government sue them for libel?  My guess is that the Govt probably didn’t need to.  The real evidence was destroyed.  Further, you don’t want this to go to court.  While the govt would win (because the system is rigged), people will start asking questions.
  2. Why didn’t the CIA kill them?  This is a good objection.  As documented the CIA certainly tried.  I suppose by the mid-1990s with Libya, Serbia, and Iraq happening, the CIA had bigger fish to fry.  We had to transport cocaine and jihadis to Bosnia.
  3. Do you have any proof about Reagan et al?  This is the kicker.  The charges against Bush and Cheney are believable, if not common sense.  Reagan is a bit different. I’m undecided.

Yet I wonder….

Numerous children go missing every year in Washington DC.  Some of this is simply human evil.  Yet why is it higher in the Washington DC area?

Everyone wants to quote Ephesians 6 about the nature of our spiritual warfare.  And then they get nervous when I point out the dark patterns in American politicsAnd then they get nervous when I point out the dark patterns in American politics.

Further Research:

Origins and techniques of Monarch Mind Control.

The first famous Mind Control Slave.

 

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Review: De Lubac, Scripture in the Tradition

This is an abridgement of his works on Origen and Medieval exegesis–but don’t let that turn you off. In many ways, this book is much the superior, especially when compared with the latter. It relies on footnotes, not endnotes, and de Lubac’s choice of chapters focuses more on exposition than name-dropping. Further, most of the Latin is translated into English within the text, rather than being relegated to footnotes.

220px-Henri_de_Lubac,_S.J

Sola Revelation

What does the title, Scripture in the Tradition, actually mean? It’s easier to point out what de Lubac is not addressing. He isn’t addressing Protestant vs Roman Catholic/Orthodox polemics on authority. Nor does he get into controversies surrounding liturgy, Marian prayers, and other things placed under the label “tradition.” Rather, he points us back to Jesus. For de Lubac there is one source of revelation, the Incarnate Christ (xvi).

Allegory is a passage from a moment of things under the shadow of law to things under the light of grace. It posits a qualitative difference. While de Lubac doesn’t mention it, in many ways allegory functions like Hegel’s “aufheben,” raising up, sublating a lower concept to a higher one. He notes that the reality “follows upon another, replaces it and assumes it…while at the same time surpassing it and superseding it” (166). Indeed, de Lubac argues that the relationship between OT and NT is one of “dialectical movement” (180). Of course, we do not think de Lubac (or Augustine) was a Hegelian.

Conclusion

This book is clearly superior to his other treatments of exegesis. The citations are kept to a minimum, allowing the thesis to reveal itself. The last chapter is the most important and is quite stirring. Should you buy this book? If you are new to de Lubac, buy this book instead of his Medieval Exegesis. If you have read his works on Medieval Exegesis and Origen, this won’t tell you anything new.

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