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IRELAND’S APOCALYPTIC PUZZLES

IRELAND AND THE AGES

Ireland enjoys a strange place where the apocalypse is concerned, and it’s not just because of medieval forecasts of the disappearance of the island ahead of the Antichrist’s rule, or St Malachy’s twelfth century forecast of the Popes which, if valid, would render the present Pope the last in line.

Just as distinctive is how it’s now widely thought an Anglo-Irishman, John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), was largely responsible for promotion of a now influential, supposedly unprecedented apocalyptic doctrine, more widely held in America than elsewhere, of the so-called Rapture. This is a disappearance and resurrection of believers prior to the Tribulation period dominated by the Antichrist. Especially a popular religion writer, Dave McPherson, made a name popularizing  theories of  a “Rapture hoax” and  of the Victorian origins of material supporting “Left Behind” fiction etc.

According to respected scholarship, Darby didn’t originate Rapture doctrine per se, though he did eventually include the belief within his general futurist outlook. But it’s of some value to understand what he did believe and why. And there is an odd connection of sorts between medieval Irish end-of-days prophecies and the Darbeyite  notions  that were evolving  at Conferences in the 1830s at Powerscourt House, the imposing Anglo-Irish Ascendency mansion at the edge of the Wicklow mountains. Quite simply it’s a teaching of deliverance and there is a similarity of sorts between the concept of a purely fated Irish deliverance  via catastrophe and a more awaited,  invoked and earned believer’s Rapture, both events avoiding the Antichrist.

CRISIS AND CATASTROPHE

irish-flood

I have touched elsewhere on the Patrick prophecy of Ireland’s submersion (https://wp.me/p2v96G-MR) which is recorded in a seventh century biography of Ireland’s apostle.  A forecast along similar lines is said to be included in a ninth century document  now lost, of St Columba. More recently new agers note a forecast from the (American) spiritualist Edgar Cayce which claimed Ireland will disappear under the waves in an instant.

St Malachy of Armagh’s prophecy of the Popes is concerned with the world, not Ireland, but it obviously belongs to Ireland’s association with apocalyptic prophecy. That Malachy was a prophet even St Bernard who knew him affirmed. We may doubt that his original forecast contained more than the number of the Popes till the Antichrist rather than the latin mottoes attached to each pope. These could have been added in the Renaissance for political and family dynastic reasons within Italy. If the mottoes are authentic and valid they don’t like other forecasts promise deliverance from the Antichrist, only that the last Pope will protect his flock during the persecutions of the Antichrist. This hardly speaks to the current situation. It is admittedly interesting that the last Pope is called “Peter the Roman” and Pope Francis does call himself and behave as bishop of Rome, wandering and shopping in the city like an ordinary citizen. On the other hand, one could hardly regard him as protecting his flock in the times of the Antichrist! Even supposing that person was now present and active, Francis’ protests against the now worldwide persecution of Christians are strangely limited and Chinese Catholics feel he has recently betrayed them into the hands of their atheistic government which is demolishing churches (1).

Regardless, if ours are at all apocalyptic times or approaching them, it might be well to understand some details concerning that and which not least the career and reputation of Derby raises.

ANGLO-IRISH MISSION PROBLEMS

Nelson Darby’s father who inherited a large estate in Ireland’s Offaly county,  intended his son for the law but after an exceptionally distinguished study at Dublin’s Trinity College and some legal training, Darby opted to be a priest of the established Church of Ireland. Like Bishop Bedell in Cavan  who had tried to introduce a Gaelic bible two centuries before him, Derby took his role with unusual seriousness. This included succouring and converting the Irish poor of the Wicklow mountains and living in near poverty himself to do so. He was unexpectedly successful and hundreds converted to Protestant faith. This suddenly stopped when the Church of Ireland’s Archbishop Magee of Dublin intervened to insist upon converts taking oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy to the Crown. To become Protestant was to become English. Darby, who believed in the Irish right to be Irish, was disillusioned and appalled and in the course of a long convalescence following a riding accident, his biblical studies led him towards certain reflections, the first major one in the tract form he often used and called Considerations on the Natural Unity of the Church of Christ” in 1828.

It became clear to Darby that existing “Erastian” views of Christianity (which as in Ireland allowed the  faith be practiced and extended in cooperation with the authorities), was profoundly wrong, albeit high levels of church state relations (and rivalry) had been virtually normative since Constantine established Christianity in the fourth century. Even Protestants, the Lutherans, the Anglicans, the Calvinists, had fallen for the old trap. It therefore had to be that there was a true church within the churches, a church of the Spirit. (The rather gloomy, exacting character of Derby instead of finding his church of the Spirit eventually founded the rather narrow Plymouth Brethren  sect instead – his future career as a religious independent embraced bible translation and much travelling in Europe and America as a missionary for true faith).

MARGARET MCDONALD’S VISION

Darby’s change of mind from 1828 onwards ran parallel to, rather than was directly influenced by, various movements of a revivalist kind in Britain and America with its “Great Awakening”. Something was “in the air” to which Darby indirectly belonged.  A few years after Darby declined from his church’s and Trinity College’s then beliefs (now a subject of scholarly inquiry), a pre-Pentecostal visionary in , Scotland, Margaret MacDonald announced, supposedly under inspiration, an unfamiliar teaching. The true and spiritual church would be protected and taken by God before the persecutions of the Tribulation and the Antichrist. Citing the parable of the ten bridesmaids (Matt 25: 1-13) she asserted that the five admitted to the Marriage of the Lamb are those with the oil of the Spirit. The rest who don’t have oil with them and whom the bridegroom doesn’t know and who are excluded, are those unprepared Christians who, to attain any salvation will need to suffer through the persecutions of the Antichrist.

The assumption that Christians would be persecuted at the end of days seems to have been what numbers of influential early Christians, especially Bishop Irenaeus, assumed all believers would undergo. They associated their final and resurrected redemption not with any Rapture but a “resurrection of the Just” at the end of the seven year rule of the Antichrist. Undeniably a resurrection of those martyred during the Tribulation is referred to in Revelation (Rev 20: 4-6) where moreover it is confusingly called “the first resurrection” though in broad  context it means the first kind of pre Last Judgement resurrection. (At the latter everyone who has ever lived is raised to gain or loss).

Darby would have known something of the proto-charismatic movement though meeting charismatic Irvingites present at the Powerscourt Conferences in the early 1830s. He did   also  once attend a meeting in Glasgow at which MacDonald gave utterances but he didn’t even record what she said and  never showed marked interested in charismatic phenomena. He originally believed in the post-Tribulation picture and only came to pre-tribulation Rapture beliefs nine  years after witnessing MacDonald. The noted Plymouth Brethren theologian F F Bruce finds no likely connection with MacDonald and it is even believed his change of mind was, under the influence of writings of the pre-millennialist  Dominican Jansenist, Bernard Lambert. (2)

DISPENSATIONALISM

All that is certain is that Darby did not invent any pre-tribulation Rapture which constituted a hidden stream of belief in which even some Jesuits may have been involved. What he did pioneer is the “Dispensationalism” into which Rapture doctrine could be most neatly, credibly slotted with this Secret Rapture ending the age of Grace while Christ’s openly manifest return to the world marked the beginning of the next age. Dispensationalism and the related Futurism teaches different ages (basically seven) affecting revelation, laws or covenants, like the Dispensation of the Patriarchs, the Dispensation of Moses, the Millennium under Christ’s rule, but with all these phases of history centred around the Jews.

Darby’s real prophetic originality would lie not in any late accepted Rapture doctrine, but in assuming against all common belief of his times, that Israel had a unique destiny. It would and must be, (as it is today), re-established as a political entity for the promises of God and redemption to be fulfilled – in short, Dispensationalism had affinities with, and may be said to have anticipated,  contemporary Christian Zionism. (To whatever extent feelings about an Irish right  to a separate identity and its links to the practice of faith may have coloured all this, is an open question).

As regards the post-Tribulation redemption doctrine that Darby eventually rejected, there is a simple way of proving this notion, even though accepted in some early Christian quarters, it was always misleading or illogical. What most typically supports Rapture doctrine in Paul’s writings, especially in Thessalonians, refers to a resurrection/transformation that takes place in the air. Christ never leaves the clouds of heaven to touch earth to effect it, it is essentially hidden. This is quite different from all that occurs, including “resurrection of the just”, when he arrives, post-Tribulation, on earth. His feet are then not on the clouds of heaven but on the Mount of Olives and the streets of Jerusalem.

Even if the Rapture idea had gone out of fashion and even memory, it follows that McDonald’s position was no more original than Darby’s broadly similar but later acquired  position.  In the fourth century we read: “For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins” (On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, by Ephraem the Syrian, A.D. 373). Moreover, in speaking of apocalypse, St Paul promises his believers at Thessaloniki they are not “appointed to wrath”. (1 Thess 5:9). This in itself means something rather specific and relevant to the larger picture…

All NT Christian notions of Tribulation are basically identical to the OT’s book of Daniel’s “seventieth week” which gospellers and apostles view in the light of Christian developments. The seven year Tribulation is “the time of Jacob’s trouble” an expression derived from Jeremiah (Jer 30:7) and described in Daniel as  “a time of anguish such as has never occurred” (Dan 12:1). It marks the time of final woe for the world and especially the Jews as the world turns against Israel, although  the nation will be delivered. This dark time’s outpouring of divine wrath (in effect divine absence or withdrawal of protection against events) is what is associated with “the Wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 16:6). This “wrath” is more or less parallel to “the Marriage of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7). The latter, if its imagery can be supposed to bear any relation at all  to traditional Jewish weddings, would last seven days, prophetically seven years. St Paul therefore has to mean that the believing prepared can escape the Tribulation/ Wrath. If you are not “appointed to wrath” (of the Lamb) you can attend the marriage feast (of the Lamb)  because if you are sufficiently aware and ready,  you are able to escape the universal woe in the way the Rapture idea uniquely envisages.

It seems likely that the emphasis placed by some early Christians upon a post-trib “resurrection of the just” as opposed to a pre-trib Rapture of the believing prepared, had an almost more psycho-social than theological basis. In the first, persecuted centuries it would have seemed that the believing community were either already under the rule of the Antichrist (Nero was the first to be seen as a type of Antichrist) or shortly to be so. It might require a period of sustained peace and toleration to even envisage any other fate than martyrdom and restriction. I suggest this situation blinded early understanding to the fact that deliverance could be associated with  an unexpected moment, even a time of pleasure and recreation like that of the bridesmaids awaiting the groom.

THE SHIFTING FOCUS OF PROPHECY

“We see through a glass darkly” admitted St Paul, and on apocalypse the churches may be said to have done just that. Until the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, followers tended to believe Jesus would shortly return. Since however Jesus himself had declared, the gospel must be preached throughout the whole world first, second advent was unlikely to occur very soon and within  in a generation! Jesus had also said the generation that witnessed the budding of the fig tree (arguably the foundation of a new, independent Israel, not one colonized and divided by Rome), would be the generation of the apocalypse. (Matt 24: 33-35). That could be a good time off.

After Jerusalem’s dramatic fall to Rome had partially fulfilled Jesus’ apocalyptic forecasts, it was easier to have recourse to a biblical principle that scriptural reference can be not just linear but cyclical in application (Ecc 1:9). Another apocalyptic attack on Jerusalem and another temple could be involved – had not Jesus forecast a future Antichrist would enter another, evidently new temple?

It also became easier to admit that Jesus had only partially fulfilled messianic prophecy. He had been all of the messiah as Isaiah’s redeeming Suffering Servant, but not David’s ruling, triumphant heir. More attention was paid to this point when towards the end of the first century the book of Revelation portrayed a whole Millennial triumph and earthly rule which would fulfil all the prophecies like those of Ezekiel. This outcome  would moreover allow fulfilment of all the covenants made with those antecedents to the Christians like Abraham whose promised destiny was to own and rule lands never fully possessed by Israel and which he would need to be resurrected and able to enter a Millennial kingdom to see fulfilled.

THE CHILIAST STARTING POINT

The earliest Christians like Justin Martyr were basically Chiliasts or Millennarians, taking a fairly literal position on messianic prophecy and the Millennium. On the basis that biblically a day could often mean a year or something else, they assumed that given a six day creation, there should be a six “day” history of humanity with the Millennium its seventh day, a Sabbath of rest. They of course took the six day creation literally whereas today we might speak of a seven millennium salvation story or priestly history.

And we do need to propose something of the kind, because the seven millennium pattern, however unusual and pre-scientific it sounds today, bears a real connection to something: the pattern and symbols of the ages more celestially, Jesus being born around the dawning of the age of Pisces (effectively St Paul’s ‘age of grace”) . This highlights a fact which symbolically and thematically has all kinds of significance for what biblically preceded Pisces in the ages of Taurus and Aries and should yet succeed it in the Aquarian – the utopianism assumed of the Millennium fits very well with Aquarius. The very concept of a Utopia and the word Utopia derives from the Aquarian Thomas Moore, while the number 7 in biblical numerology is the number of perfection and completion.

At least some false prophecies and misunderstandings about the end times  could have been avoided by merely realizing an aion or age, lasts something about 21000 years. Some early Christians employed a kind of Archbishop Ussher style chronology they deduced from the Genesis genealogies. But due to major discrepancies between the  Hebrew Bible and Greek Septuagint version, the dates and genealogies could be as far  as 1400 years out from four millennia originally assumed to precede Christ. For the Hebrew and Samaritan bibles Adam to Abraham makes 2000 years, whereas in the Septuagint they are 3400 years. As a result no one knew whether they were in or could hope to be inside a millennial Sabbath of not. No matter what a person believes and what precisely will happen, current apocalyptic feeling and expectation at least corresponds neatly to the cuspal situation between the eras of Pisces and Aquarius. Pisces with its Neptunian mysteries can well end in mystery and disappearance much as it began with the hidden birth of Christ, Aquarius with its blatant manifestations could well start with the lightning shock of revelation. Symbolic logic and archetypal pattern attends thinking of the lost or rejected Darbeyite kind.

TOWARDS  A PURELY SYMBOLIC FAITH – AMILENNIALISM

    

Gradually, as Christians and Jews drew ever further apart in the second and third centuries and the ultra-transcendent viewpoint of Greek philosophy influenced theology, there was less and less emphasis upon the literal and historical fulfilment of biblical prophecy – or anything at all. What wasn’t a symbol was almost vulgar which is virtually the snobbish position of the  church father Origen’s who wasn’t beyond despising “ignorant” uneducated Christians. Christianity began to lose contact with history, covenant and any Jewish roots. The mystically unnameable overtook the prophetically nameable. The symbol- driven medieval Catholic synthesis was on the way.

On the ground however, Christianity didn’t lose contact with the course of events at all. Between them, those allies in favour of things Roman, Ss Augustine and Jerome, created a quiet revolution for a church newly established in the fourth century. Jerome didn’t even hesitate to alter the text of even the first known commentary on Revelation to rid it of chiliastic features in favour of amillennialism, dishonestly attributing Victorinus’ changed commentary to the known heretic, Cerinthus. The outlook of these scholar saints compelled them to symbolize so much  that they turned the millennium into a foreshadowing of the present time, the rule of the church over everyone and everything with any promises and covenants to the Jews cancelled out and re-applied to the benefit of Christians.

The effect of what was effectively a replacement theology was and remains devastating. While in fairness to Augustine he lent some support to Jews whereas  in the Greek East St John Chrysostom was declaring against Jews in terms so extreme they would one day gain even Hitler’s approval – by untethering bible and prophecy from history, covenant and the objectively real, the door was opened to both future anti-Semitism and medieval ecclesiastical triumphalism which culminated in Popes declaring they owned the world or even the universe. The Last Judgement would then follow this time of privileged church rule. This is how St Malachy (or his suspect added papal mottoes) sees things because his Last Pope oversees a rule of Antichrist directly followed by the Last Judgement. This is unbiblical – the Last Judgement is for some future time following the earthly millennial rule of Christ the scholar saints had got rid of.

If like Derby you peel away the often Erastian traditions of the churches whose logic and reason are almost more Aristotelian than Hebraic, you are left with a rather Quakerish picture in which personal responsibility and bible take on new dimensions. Both these may appear chaotic, the bible presenting an array of contradictions real or imagined that await resolution. As a scholar and trained lawyer, Darby’s response was to seek to impose order and consistency and not least around the legal issue of covenants. The result was Dispensationalism that was also eminently exportable and that in America would be widely popularized away from Darbey’s heavy style in such works at The Scofield Reference Bible and the chart filled, rather fabulously illustrated Clarence Larkin’s Dispensational Truth (which last nonetheless opted for a mid-Trib Rapture).

Before concluding I will insert why, no matter what you what you believe and make of Rapture doctrine, it does appear to produce the kind of common sense, logical consistency Darby aimed for.

1) In Luke Jesus speaks of a time when one shall be taken and the other left Luk 17:34. This is preceded by mention of people going about their normal business when the event happens. This picture then agrees with the Pauline view that people are talking in terms of “peace and security” (1 Thess 5:3) at the time disaster in the form of apparently Rapture and Tribulation strike. This scenario could hardly occur at the time of the extraordinary, life and death, catastrophic situations associated with the Tribulation period. If anyone finds Luke’s picture at variance with words in Matthew 24 and 25, then almost certainly this should be referred to the fact Matthew’s gospel is the most Jewish one unlike the Gentile one of Luke. Hence reference is to especially the Jews and believers present at the time of Tribulation who see he Temple abominated and so on and are told to flee rather than prepare for any bridegroom’s arrival. That season to the extent it is “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” is not primarily about the persecution of the believing prepared.

2) Any straighforward reading of Revelation surely supports Rapture. Its first chapters are taken up with addresses to seven churches in Greece and Turkey (which may be equally or additionally symbolic for types of churches across history). Following this the seer hears a trumpet which summons him to heaven (as Rapture doctrine assumes) where multitudes are celebrating the enthroned Lord. After this there is nothing more about the redeemed until nearly the end of the book, but there’s much about the misfortunes of the Tribulation era for those on earth. If the church is mentioned at all, it is in a separate visionary section which portrays a woman clothed with the sun giving birth and her child snatched to heaven before a dragon can seize the child from her. We know the early church as represented by Victorianus understood the child to be the church and therefore the woman Israel who originally birthed the church, not as per medieval interpretations, Mary, whose son ascended to heaven, not snatched there from the devil.

3) Already early on In Revelation in the message to Philadelphia, there is a promise of protection: “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole earth” ( Rev 3:10). This is quite plainly a reference to the general apocalyptic Tribulation that much of Revelation is about,  and being able to escape from it.

More could be said but if earlier persons and churches failed to see these simple points just mentioned, they were as blind to them as the first Christians were around issues affecting kosher diet, circumcision and the Gentile world. It is never assumed believers can and will know all Truth all at once. It is said the Spirit will lead into all truth (Joh 16:13). It is accordingly false to dismiss Rapture doctrine and/or elements of Dispensationalism as only and automatically late heretical invention when what it seems to be able to do is to clarify and enlarge upon what, on examination, can be seen as already present in the records.

AN IRISH SPIRITUAL PESSSIMISM?

One could call the intense, depressive, not entirely attractive Derby one of the Irish pessimists. Certainly it was another aspect of his originality that Darby did not follow the Victorian and Darwinian hope of the West for unlimited evolutionary improvement in the world. The world would continue evil and even become more so unless and until purged through the apocalypse and the setting up of Christ’s Millennial kingdom. Paradoxically this made Darby (who preached in England and Europe) popular in “optimistic” America  where as the country grew but away from the legacy of the Pilgrim Fathers, there was a feeling that the future of Christianity was anything but assured.

The element of hope lay chiefly in what preparation and belief towards the last things might obtain in terms of escape from the worst.

Despite Ireland’s reputation for spirituality expression of this is often closer to nameable prophecy than unnameable medieval and international mysticism. Darby is closer to St Malachy than other Irish prophets in anchoring his assumptions in historical development. This is something Ireland has always needed to do and still does if it is not to finish with either anti-Semitic feeling (such as some politicos have recently been accused of) because God is not Lord of any Covenants and history, or a spirituality of only symbols  more or less interchangeable and so as to render the whole Judaeo-Christian tradition disposable.

One historian has recently written on how the Irish became Protestants, by which he means not literally so but rather in the way American Catholics are now half Protestant in their independence of authority and reliance upon personal conscience. There are however limits to how far religious pick and switch can go. The popular new age Irish spiritualist, Lorna Byrne, (she who has angels in her hair!) forecasts Christians will one day be worshipping with Muslims at Mecca. While that may well not be true (though if the Tribulation occurred who knows and anything goes?!) if Irish Christianity cannot now absorb something more biblically and historically grounded in the way Darby’s Dispensationalism and Futurism strove to be, they will only have symbols to deal in and belief may then go just anywhere, even into the hands of the prophet of the Antichrist itself. Sometimes pessimism constitutes wisdom.

Notes

1)  If vision can tell it, the Pope’s fate is more likely the assassination that the Catholic Seeress, the late Jeane Dixon, foresaw years ago for whoever would be the last Pope. It is a forecast Francis may know of since he once stated he hopes he won’t be assassinated. Dixon maintained that after the last pope’s death someone else would be enthroned in the Vatican and institute some kind of global faith. If so such a person existed and did that, he could only be the second beast of Revelation 13, the Antichrist’s prophet who generates belief in the masses. Right now especially conservative Catholics might say their Pope was preparing the way to the false prophet. He has already said atheist unbelievers are saved people of diverse beliefs all worship the same God under different names and claims to relationship with Christ are suspect. With these ideas he undermines Christian purpose and identity.
2) Timothy T. N. Stunt “Influences in the early development of J.N Darby” pp. 44-68
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Posted by on October 18, 2018 in culture, Mysteries, religion

 

“REAL IRISH” AND IRISH REALITY (Symbols, Archetypes, Fate)

CALLING YOURSELF IRISH TODAY

Recently the Dalai Lama found himself in hot water for suggesting that “Europe belongs to the Europeans”. Nowadays it has become trendy to call any defence of borders, any species of national identity, “fascist”, the  obsession of  what  risks being called  “the far right”.

Back in 1972 Paul and Linda McCartney were targets of criticism for singing “Give Ireland back to the Irish”. How might they answer postmodern trolls of the hard left today for the same sentiments? They would probably be assured that – really – there is no such thing as Ireland or the Irish to give or return anything to. As early as 1988 and just ahead of the Celtic Tiger years of a Europeanizing or just borderless Ireland, such was almost but not quite the message of the ground breaking, ultra-scholarly, widely praised R F Foster ‘s Modern Ireland (1600 -1972). This was effectively an economic and statistical history of Ireland. Its chronicle was so dense in its chosen emphasis it sidelined theories about Ireland and the Irish as virtual irrelevance, sometimes “Anglophobia” itself as against the shifting allegiances, regroupings of people and parties, fluctuating economic trends that compose the true picture, the “real” story.

At one level you can’t dispute the truth that across recent centuries, behind all the national myth, dreams, and political rhetoric, grim fact opposed much that was declared and hoped for. But no new and revisionist data can quite alter the fact that, just as a sense of home is natural, every society automatically and from psychological necessity, will define itself, the Irish perhaps especially so. Anciently, the chief deity of the Celts appears to have been a version of Mercury, god of speech and persuasion, who is portrayed taking people captive by his words. Yet even eschewing Mercurial rhetoric, it must be conceded, and ironically so, that in the case of Foster’s new style historiography, the picture finishes Irish of a sort almost despite itself in that it has unintended affinities with the more shape-shifting elements of Celtic myth. And questions can well be asked about that, because myths are revealing for the societies which entertain them.

So I will examine, sometimes from the little explored angle of the symbolic and archetypal, just what “being Irish” means and why both in the past and present it has represented a tenacious ideal but one curiously difficult to define and realize in practical terms. Which also means despite the cultural and psychological importance of what’s involved, any idea of Ireland and Irish identity is threatened anew and increasingly today, not just by the deconstruction of intellectuals but by the current social picture with its controversial patterns of Irish emigration outwards and EU migration inwards.

THE IRISH PSYCHE and THE DREAM FACTOR

Influenced by the writings of Joyce, Freud notoriously maintained you couldn’t psychoanalyse the Irish. Jung was more optimistic he could get to grips with at least the mind of Joyce, and it is by more Jungian means we should progress towards understanding. But of that presently. I will begin with a simple point of basic psychology which some Irish and Celtic people I have discussed this with have found illuminating.

I suggest for that a significant number of Irish (and Celts generally, especially Gaelic Scots) the music of the bagpipe can symbolize something about the psyche itself. Behind the tunes played on the instrument there is a single, one note drone. Visually it can be thought of like a permanent dark screen across which play the light and movement of life as expressed in melody; but it’s the screen is the core reality. That indelible impression is arguably the source of the Celtic dream which has affinities with the Hindu notion of world dream or Maya. The permanence and prominence of the  “screen” as somehow what’s most true, is liable to render everything else relative (or even unreal), more or less a projection only, sometimes futile (extremely so in the case of such as Samuel Beckett) and fit in one’s waking mode for ironic dismissal and satire. The latter is an Irish art form in itself. This negativity or just doubt in the face of the normal course of life and events is often only redeemable by particularly brilliant symbols temporarily overwhelming the dark  like so many deities of light – Yeats’ Cathleen ni Houlihan crossing the stage as though an incarnation of Ireland itself!  This mindset encourages asking with Joyce the questions in Ulysses like: “Signatures of all things I am here to read….Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount Strand?”. I would take the implications of the assumed affirmative response  rather sensationally further.

Unmanaged by mental exercises or mystical teachings, the more fundamental “drone” side of the Celtic mind may be identical with the Hindu notion of the personal atman which is said to be identical (could one but realize it) with Atman of God/Soul in the Upanishads beloved of Yeats. The similarity is quite likely valid and a case of real affinity because there is plenty of evidence that ancient Ireland preserved elements of myth and law with parallels in the Vedic tradition which represents the furthest east expansion of the Indo-European tribes who spread as far as northern India three thousand or so years ago. The physical transformations of the Ulster hero Cuchulainn recall the shape shifting of some Hindu gods and more generally Celtic myth has something of the jungle-like quality of much Indian myth.

AN ISSUE OF RACE?

I would not insist, and have no evidence for a claim, that all Celts experience the drone phenomenon; but I believe they do have some sense of intense transcendence I shall mention later. But keeping to the drone factor, here we immediately run into a major problem. You don’t catch the Celtic dream by infection and only little by cultural assimilation (though Jung might allow anyone could pick up on the spirit of place). It is almost certain that it derives from that mostly forbidden source of anything today, namely race, and with the most unmentionable of reasons too, because isn’t “ Indo-Aryan” race theory what fascism is about?

But even if one can allow a race dimension to the picture, superficially there would anyway seem to be certain practical objections to it. Those Aryans beloved of fascist theory and the early Celts according to Roman report (plus even a few indications from Irish myth), were predominantly blue eyed and blond to order. So how could there be genetic inheritance? And then, as Oliver St John Gogarty once remarked of even Irish nationalist Yeats, despite what the poet claimed, he was English, not Irish anyway. So genetics might seem irrelevant.

Gogarty’s charge is actually rather misleading because whatever intermarriage may or may not have taken place and effected among Yeats’ Anglo-Irish forebears, we do know that the Pollexfens of Yeats’ mother’s side were of Cornish stock. Celtic Cornwall is probably the most dream fed, occult inclined quarter of England and this could explain the Yeatsian mindset at the more “racial” level. Likewise, despite claims to be Irish, Yeats’ own idol, Maud Gonne, may not have been this, but she did have an ancestry in the north of Scotland.. I would judge that – usually –  a strong vein of Celtic feeling can be associated some degree of genetic input.

Round Galway there are many “black” Irish of Mediterranean appearance, almost certainly testimony to intermarriage over the centuries with the merchants from Spain. The very fact most Irish are not blond and blue eyed could actually be because (apart from many Irish Gaels apparently anyway deriving less from Ukraine and Austria than from Galicia in Northern Spain and being perhaps related to the darker Basques) as is well known, blue eyes and blond hair represent recessive genes. Yet we repeatedly hear of Viking and Norman invaders and some English settlers becoming “more Irish than the Irish” within a generation or two following intermarriage. And do we not see the part Irish individual turn out oddly strong-to-type like the Greek-Irish free speech advocate, Milo Yiannopoulos (Hanrahan) whose personality is extravagant enough for Cuchulainn and Irish myth itself. (For the curious or unaware where Milo is concerned, the following YouTube can supply an idea https://goo.gl/GwZ57r ; to be noticed is the refusal to be PC and so attack whatever’s off limits like feminism and Islam etc. There’s a touch of Oscar Wilde’s will to dazzle and shock).

A reasonable inference would be that the mental characteristics of the Celts on the genetic plain are the opposite of recessive. Something genetic goes on. Why did we hear some years ago that rural Cavan is so high in the nation’s academic and IQ stakes? Possibly because, as historicans know, it was the original centre of Irish druidism which produced the main scholars of the society. Sometimes, just occasionally, it can be even fair features and red hair are retained in parts of northern Iran, India and Pakistan and right up to the borders of West China where Celtic type burial relics and custom have been found. Once upon a time Indo-European tribes went very far. (My original interest in this subject was prompted back in the seventies and in the Himalayas when to my astonishment I found myself in front of a Nepalese who might have been Ireland’s Free State leader, Michael Collins).

As a footnote to any search for the Celts since Mil and the Milesians arrived from Spain, it should be noted  that a variety of features in the art, music and even Celtic languages as they differ from the European, point to what DNA research somewhat substantiates. While the Irish are not Arabs they do have traces of North African, Berber/ and Egyptian (Coptic?) Cretan and even Middle Eastern peoples in the mix, all of them able to reach ancient Ireland by sea from Phoenicia, Egypt and Morocco This might shed more light on the builders of dolmens and the mythologizing genealogies which look back to Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia. I find  significance in Bel being a Celtic sun god with Beltaine his feast, because it is widely accepted Bel is or echoes Baal. Arguably a couple like Maeve and Ailill bespeak an ancient Mesopotanian, quasi-matriarchal type, (biblically like King Ahab dominated  by his persecuting queen Jezebel). When not directed at Baal, Israel’s apostasy was in service of Baal’s Asherah denounced by the prophets. This echo of the remote Middle Eastern past is suggestive for the Irish cult of trees in which the Ash was the druid Tree of Life..

The majority Celtic input as regards population and culture cannot be passed over, but questions can well be asked about what looks to be some inconvenient truths in the realm of ethnic inheritance. Whether genetics applies or not, I shall now turn to what I consider one or two enduring features about the Irish.

IRISH “DIFFERENCE”.

It can seem odd to propose, but on examination it seems true enough to state, that almost the most essential character of the Irish is “difference”-in-itself. Difference would appear to be a relative value rather than any fixed and permanent one, but I suggest the Irish, (rather like gays in relation to straights), are definable by precisely a sort of permanent alienated difference from the Other, or Others; they are the eternal variation on a theme, having like Joyce’s Jewish Bloom a sense of being liminal. (What really is more permanent exists at a Platonic, symbolic level that underlies the ninth century philosophy of Erigena. It is a subject in itself and functions sometimes a basis of Irish wit, a sense of the absurd and paradox as ideal and real clash).

The Jews have been called a “feminine” race as being the bride or handmaid of God. The Celts have always liked to travel (but rather less when forced by emigration as the home turf also counts!) because new places present new ideas and possibilities to absorb into whatever the energies of their core being are. In short, their development is dialectical – thesis, antithesis, synthesis. (Arguably Irish history itself progresses in antithetical waves, one generation more revolutionary, another more constitutional). And what prevents movement is bad almost by definition. Joyce’s Dubliners is very much a portrayal and protest against stasis and stagnation. (Even given more opportunity it is unlikely architecture would have been a leading Celtic art if only because of  stone’s  permanence as against the impermanence  of wood said to have been favoured by the druids evidently a touch Buddhist on that point).

Only very recently in the work of the late Brian O’Donohue has as emphasis on the dialectic and other more Mitteleuropa ideas as from Goethe been imported into Irish thinking at the more conscious level (see https://wp.me/p2v96G-126 They have of course long been a principle at more unconscious levels where they have been in suppressed conflict with what was often the straightjacket of Catholic Thomist/Aristotelian values. In fact, the swirling decorations of everything from La Tene art to the Book of Kells bespeak the dialectical impulse further implied by the ancient Celtic obsession with the number 3.

By contrast England would present less a dynamic (in effect extraverted)  contrast such as at least sometimes Italy and Dante, so important to Joyce and Beckett, represent than a wholesale denial.  Those who rather cynically maintain that England was necessary to Ireland’s development, ignore how exceedingly difficult England was to adjust to with it’s almost automatic repression of the possibility of any substantial variation upon itself – it even worked to abolish the native language and laws along with appropriating national land and uprooting whole populations on it  The home turf, natural scenery and nature are something many Celts have been almost mystically attached to but if you believe in tabula rasa minds, that can be ignored..

Despite inevitable cultural  percolation  over time, Shakespeare, Dickens, Shelley (who strongly protested England in Ireland) being prominent at the literary level, more essentially England presented a series of psycho-social  exclusions with values  almost too opposite to ever quite assimilate. Everything from its most representative philosophy, the materialist, Lockean empiricism with its tabula rasa of mind abominated by Yeats, to its social organization in cliques which would permit an empire to expand everywhere but be ruled by a virtual caste system, all was a tough nut to crack. You needed to become English to socially interact at all – in order to shine, Oscar Wilde promptly disposed of his Irish accent upon arriving in England, Yeats never had one. But a century after Irish independence, from his professorial position in Oxford, Foster refers to the voices of historic Irish nationalism as “Anglophobic”.

IRISH RHYTHM

If “difference” was a core value often repressed, less repressible and arguably another genetic feature, is access to a certain unique rhythm which others may appreciate but not quite have in the blood. Some of it is, after all, almost manic, Dionysac. Over the centuries even hostile reports of Ireland conceded the Irish love of and skill with music (albeit liable to be regarded as an aspect of lazy national dolce far niente values!). Within and beyond the music is not infrequently a quite special driving energy, well reflected in the thunder and lightning of the modern Riverdance phenomenon which freed Irish dance from the no arms polker skipping originally imposed by careful priests.

The rhythm points to an ongoing, implicitly eternal energy symbolized in the eternity knots and circles of traditional Irish patterning, and while this can be associated with a quieter, sometimes plaintive, melancholic strain of feeling and music, more essentially (if one wants to make the often meaningful Indian comparisons) it is a dance of Shiva whose Celtic equivalent would appear to be the horned Cernunnos who sits Shiva-like cross-legged on the Gundestrup bowl. (Some scholars regard this figure as the Irish Jupiter, but I doubt it and the fact we don’t know more about this figure at the literary level, is because he was almost certainly a rural, Pan-like deity of the third order or farming class rather than the druid elite).

The rhythm is simply everywhere from the earliest flowing artwork to the lilt of the largely discarded language which still echoes into the English as spoken and which is incidentally oddly distinct from the harsher tones of Ulster accents. The latter accompanies the more “no nonsense”, iconoclastic attitudes of the Scots Irish which, if one reached back far enough, might take one to the blue faced Picts renowned for a bellicosity the English and Romans could never tame and raised a wall against. Ulster was at least notionally the centre of ancient Ireland and associated with the High Kingship. Tudor English policy could hardly have chosen a more sensitive area for Plantation or selected more fortress mentality agents of a colonization away from any Gaelic world. To this day there is intense Ulster resistance to any proposal Irish language might be taught in schools as helping make any bridge between north and south.

CELTIC INTUITION

Last and briefly in this section I would add intuition as a core characteristic. It could hardly be quantified and made a statistic, but it seems fair to say the intuitive function is more used and represented among the Celts than many European peoples. Telepathy, prophetic dreams, water divining, sometimes apparent healing ability, reading symbols and directing “second sight” upon affairs are fairly common.   They are often seen as inherited and running more in some families than others, which if so would again tend to support a rather ethnic as opposed to purely cultural view of the people. The high status originally enjoyed by poetry and the poet in the traditional society was tied to assumptions that the extreme intuition of vision/prophecy was involved. To the extent Yeats laid much emphasis on these factors he is the truest Irish poet within modern times and see re Yeats also under archetypes.

For what the point is worth, those rare people who claim to be able to perceive auras maintain people of Celtic extraction have a strong green ray in the aura, the real basis of Irish green obsession, not just the often electric green of grass in Eire! Whatever is or isn’t involved, it often seems stronger than in many other places. People swear by the gifts of past and present figures like Biddy Early (a witch), Joe Cassidy (a diviner and healer), and Lorna Byrne (a psychic) the latter exceptionally claims to see angels and entities not  now and again but all the time. (See my Joe Cassidy, an Irish phenomenon   https://wp.me/p4kNWg-bA ).   At this point one borders less intuition than something more purely occult and in this connection I suspect  that elements of the St Patrick story, which have him challenging druids claiming to levitate and fly,  may not be pure fancy but reflects conditions and people of an ancient society with something of Alexander David- Neel’s celebrated reports of magic and mystery in traditional Tibet.

PART TWO

ARCHETYPAL AND SYMBOLIC EMPHASIS IN CELTIC THOUGHT

Before turning to what perhaps most neatly describes who and what the Irish are today, I shall turn to the more historical question of archetypes and archetypal emphasis which is always crucial in understanding people psyches. We have a description, of sorts, of Celtic religion from the Romans from Caesar to Lucian. It is thought to be fairly reliable but it remains suspect to the extent it can seem too easy to parallel certain deities with leading Roman ones, like Mars or Mercury when archaeology and art appear to indicate quite a few additional deities. These fit nowhere unless perhaps they belong to the quasi-Hindu “jungle” of much native myth.

I think however the Roman view need not be too distrusted especially not on the basis that the classical world represents centralized stateism whereas Celtic  fluidity of myth reflects nothing but Celtic anarchy.  Given anything like a Jungian concept of a collective unconscious, one will support the notion that in all myth everywhere there will be, or ought to be, and as primary, gods of sun and moon, Mars and Venus types etc, namely archetypes related to the visible planets and which function as trans-cultural, universal symbols. Any  absence of or variation upon this root pattern can be significant and demands explanation.

So….all that can really differ as regards a Celtic pantheon is:

a)  the just mentioned plethora of local deities of hill, stream and wells, these being much like and precursors of later cults of the saints. This is what we might expect of an originally nomadic society which is making sense of things as it goes along. Also a society with often rather fluid tribal boundaries. The tribe itself will have its particular god or gods but these can be changeable following the tribe’s fortunes.

b)  a greater fluidity in definition and function of the major, trans-tribal gods. For example, according to Caesar the chief god of the Celts was Mercury, (Ogmios, Lugos, Lugus, Lugo,.Luga  across Europe and in Ireland Lugh). A confirmation scholars miss for Lugh having to be more essentially Irish Mercury than anything is that he is “Long Arm” and hand and arm are ruled by Mercury/Gemini). While Irish Mercury can function conventionally as the usual symbol/patron of roads, communication, commercial transaction and various arts, he can have a touch of Mars about him too when the category of arts extend to making implements of war. Also when he is sometimes a light and kingship factor merging with the solar god Bel or Belenus (of the Beltaine festival). Lugh, whose festival of Lughnasa fell in August (i.e under the ultra solar sun sign of Leo) Lugh is often regarded as the Irish sun god……It is incidentally my guess, that the lack of Irish cosmology and origins myth as opposed to intricate concern with mythologized genealogies, is involved not simply with clerical editing (monks have recorded and preserved the creation myths of many societies) or even tribalism, than with the native Mercurial  sense of continuous creation and, where possible, identity with, participation in  creative flow rather than any process considered  wholly from outside. Then too,  as perhaps the most dramatically inclined of the known Celtic groups, Irish feeling for interchangeability among the roles of divine figures  could reflect a native desire to assume all roles within the drama of existence.

c) By contrast to the fluidity of the Celtic gods, the chief deity for the Romans was Jupiter who as thunder bearing Taranis is a lesser figure for the Celts. A fairly benign and versatile but not creator father god, The Dagda (the good god), possibly represents a Jupiter figure for Ireland, especially as he controls weather and is a druid, a religious function. Dagda exemplifies a Jupiterian bounty and fortune through especially his famous, (proto grail) magic cauldron. However he is not any powerfully cosmological, philosophical or refined Jupiter but a more Falstaffian, Rabelaisian one. If Rome regarded Mercury as effectively chief god of the Celts. that impression seems right as reflecting the restlessness and general eloquence (“gift of the gab”) of Celtic culture. Also, if we allow possible Indo/European connection, Mercury is the wisdom of the mind. In Hindu religion, rather surprisingly it’s Mercury, not religious and philosophical Jupiter (named Guru in India), is arbiter of wisdom and even of ultimate “enlightenment”. This is because it supports “discrimination” between types and levels of thinking.

While much could be said about Celtic myth and Gaulish custom before and beyond it (all significant for Ireland in its way – the Tain epic has warriors fighting in chariots which happened in Gaul rather than Ireland), the following is what seems distinctive about pagan Celtic religion and thus ruling archetypes psychologically.

1) There is no completely distinct Celtic sun god (it could be Bel or in Ireland Lugh), nor a Mars whose role seems distributed around various deities like power around the tribe.

2) The existence of Angus (Mabon in Wales), a god of love, beauty and youth – like Yeats the Celts can rage against age. This god may or may not be an aspect of youthful Mercury but especially as the child who tricks his illegitimate father, The Dagda,  he gives the impression of being Ireland’s trickster figure. Though he brings couples together and is entranced by a woman, at another level  he may represent a type of the (Uranian) Puer (boy/child) archetype Jung associates with homosexuality. (I use my intuition here which years ago correctly guessed the esoteric secret most Buddhists don’t know, namely that Manjusri/Monju, a rather similar figure, is the gay god). The Ancients did regard the Celts as considerably same sex inclined, something they never ceased to be – report of same sex unions was one of the reasons the only English pope gave England the right to invade medieval Ireland. (It looks as though Ireland accepted “marriages of brethren” along the lines of some eastern churches, Ireland having had more contacts with the East than post Patrick Roman officials cared to admit). If the depiction of depression  is a feature of Irish myth (see below), then Angus could be a kind of redemptive, surprise and change bringing  influence an Eros as against a Thanatos (Death) principle. Insofar however as versatile Lugh, not Angus is Mercury, it is noticeable how much Yeats (himself a Mercurial Gemini) is related to the Lugh archetype. Asteroid Lugh conjuncted his rising moon, while Luga,, a continental variant name, squared his moon at birth).

3) Despite the radiant glamour of some Celtic goddesses and the existence of a few potent, fate ridden  love stories – tragic Deidre anticipates tragic Isolde, Irish princess of Cornish lore – there is no clear Venus/Aphrodite equivalent serving the love principle fully (or very cheerfully!). There are only minor Minerva type figures of wisdom or healing, or goddesses of wells and rivers like Boann (Boyne)  the mother of Angus, and then a goddess of the Sovereignty of Ireland. She herself is a triple goddess, Eriu, Fodla and Banba (or she is Morrigan who might be all three together). Quite simply Irish myth seems more linked to nature than to society and the relation to the goddesses ( who may appear temporarily as hags) could well reflect need, desire and struggle in relation to an originally difficult terrain. Divinity as a smiling or playful Venus is more likely to emerge in sunnier climes as of southern Europe.

4) There are also numbers of Celtic lunar goddesses, some of them again trinities like supremely the Sovereignty of Ireland. There are a variety of goddesses associated with motherhood and/or fertility, chief among them for specifically the Irish, Danu. But as with Mercury’s overlap of functions, goddesses may also be involved in war, death and destruction (Some Celtic women, Amazon-like and like the British Boudicca, did venture into battle and a small minority of Irish women like child abusing nuns or singer Sinead O’Connor’s sadistic mother, can have a very dark side). Such lunar divinities hark back to pre-Venus figures like Babylonian Ishtar who served both eros and war. The mythology suggests matriarchal tendencies at some level, but despite even the apparently woman favourable to permissive Brehon laws, the reality on the ground,  was that women who weren’t wealthy and privileged,  suffered disadvantage – many of St Patrick’s first converts were women because the faith appeared to favour women rather than otherwise.

5) A sort of shadowy, sinister male Trinity group Taranis, Teutates and Esus, a Trinity whom Lucian even regarded as the chief gods of the Celts (though they are not clearly so for the Irish), and who allegedly required human sacrifice.

6) A shadowy Dispater or Pluto figure, “father” of the Celts according to Caesar, and possibly a version of the withdrawn Creator god or “the unknown god” St Paul refers to among the Greeks at Athens. The dark and hidden nature of this Gaulish god with no clear Irish version might have bearing on what I am calling the Celtic atman or drone factor. If there is an Irish equivalent it would perhaps be Midir, a lord of the Underworld and foster father to Angus rather than progenitor of the whole race. But if Midir is a Pluto variant  this could explain his unexpected relation to Angus, especially if the latter is once seen as a Uranian, naturally ascensional,  brightness-surrounded  archetype who would resist age, and any lasting dark and downward motion. Despite his centre of power, where he appears  Midir is not a notably sinister figure like classical Pluto, but merely mysterious, nonetheless,  in his insatiable desire for compensation for an accident occasioned by Angus, there may be suggestions of remorseless, inescapable Plutonic demands and insistence, ultimate fate.

7) An Irish  god of the sea Lir or Ler and his son Manannan mac Lir may equate with Poseidon/Neptune. The archetypal fits are that one of the saddest Irish myths is The Children of Lir, and Neptune (especially in astrology) is sorrow and tears, while Poseidon is a god of horses or perhaps the waves ridden as such and the Irish sea god, associated like Poseidon with horse imagery, leads to the final point.

8) Finally, and in view of what’s mentioned later, I note there is more than one horse goddess (Macha and Epona) and in Gaul a male deity Atepomarus, a healing god with some associations with the classical sun god Apollo but perceived as a great horseman. This has some connection with the otherwise mostly absent or invisible Celtic Jupiter given the ancient and perennial connection of Jupiter with religion and Sagittarius with the horseman.

What if anything might all this point to on the archetypal, psychological plain? To the extent, love and benevolence, even good fortune and material wealth are worldwide associated with Venus and Jupiter, the Celtic emphasis, even though Mercury is commercial, is quasi-ascetical in line with historical fact and self image as in “land of saints and scholars”. Knowledge and self realization have usually counted for more with the Celts than financial success of the more notable kind. And the saying “happy wife, happy life” will not readily apply in this society. We know from earliest myth as of the Tain that it doesn’t. King Ailill and Queen Maeve are not on good terms and Maeve is no Venus but a virago and a bully. However, note she is really a type of lunar goddess since, again suggesting the mystery of Indian affinities, her husband’s 27 window palace is redolent of the 27 lunar mansions of Vedic astronomy/astrology. The druids were reported to be great astronomers.

It remains hard to determine how much in the Irish record of tribal  invasions how much we are reading a mythologized history and something more psychological. It is possible a symbolization of a Celtic war with  depression through figures like the dark Fomorians and Balor; but given that the Celts do appear to have a depressive vein too often :”cured” by alcohol, the psychological dimension, a war between conscious and unconscious, cannot be ruled out and possibly as one of the more distinguishing features of Irish myth for which darkness may not be just something seasonal and wintry, or deathly and irremediable but a sense of defeat and living death.

Weakness of solar emphasis could owe to little more than Irish cloud and rain, but coupled with a “distributed” Mars too, it could favour a degree of matriarchy that hands things over to the lunar factor which like Mercury is changeable. It can be  women who stir the men to Martian activity. Although the Celtic raids to Rome and Delphi were dramatic and long remembered, overall the Celtic impulse has not been imperial unless at the remote beginnings of Indo-European expansion, violence historically having more by way of tribal raids and skirmishes about it. One could almost say Irish Mars is Mars negative, more defensive than offensive; and if that seems a bit  generous in the light of history, it must be recalled, and despite Lucian’s mention of human sacrifice in Gaul, that Ireland is the only country in the world where Christianity managed to be introduced without producing martyrs.

It would be a bold thesis, but I can’t help wondering if what distinguishes and confuses  Irish myth away from many norms, is its intimations of the archetypes now more clearly associated with the outer, previously invisible planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. In modern psychological astrology which emphases the archetypes, these planets register forces more generational and spiritual than the inner planets. Main features of classical mythology rather neatly equate with the visible planets. It would be consistent with both the tribal element of Celtic thought plus a heightened spirituality if there were to be more reflection of outer planets drives and symbolism.

HOME TRUTHS AND FATED FACTS

If he couldn’t fathom a patient and make them speak their problems, Jung would resort to what would disclose the problem and make them talk, namely their horoscope. We shall do the same with the riddle and often hidden facts of (modern) Ireland. I shall take the uniquely fated crossroads moment between past and present when after eight hundred years Ireland (more or less) obtained what it wanted. A return of its land through a divorce from England via achievement of a Republic status. (18th April, 1949, 00. AM . UT , Dublin)

It is remarkable how accurate the picture is. I can only describe salient features of a detailed pattern of huge significance.

The moment in time is shown by asteroid IRELAND in the house of leadership and destiny, conjunct of all things, THE PART OF DIVORCE while several planets fill the opposite fourth house of land, origins and history. The land is what Ireland desires to regain, so this house contains all of Sun, Mars, Venus and the fated nodes in a new beginnings sign, Aries. Since by long tradition Ireland was always represented by home loving, musical and earthy Taurus, which was suitably the sign of the sun at the time of the Easter Rebellion in 1916, there is a message for the future, of which presently, in the strong Aries input for the Republic. However, noteworthy is that the Taurus tradition continues to the extent all-important Mercury  falls in the sign in the creative fifth sector conjunct asteroid YEATES (sound vibe, not spelling, determines asteroid meaning and usage). This is as good as to define Yeats as the truest to tradition for modern Ireland,  something I have always maintained against certain claims to the contrary. See for example: Why Ireland needs Yeats 2015…and more  https://wp.me/p2v96G-xA

FROM THE FLIGHT OF THE EARLS

The crossroads moment also looks back to the past – vividly. There is no Ulster asteroid but I knew if an O’NEILL asteroid existed it would be meaningful. The greater part of Ireland’s problems in recent centuries go back to the fatal Tudor plantation of Ulster and the Flight of the Earls in 1607, especially clan O’Neill and Hugh O’Neill of Irish High King lineage which effectively lost Ireland its ruling elite and with it something of its identity and culture.

I am not a romantic, uncritical admirer of the old clan system which could have used some reform, but deceit and wrong was nonetheless practiced upon O’Neill and the clans. This is clearly shown by asteroid O’NEILL in the house of the land and origins at 12 Aries opposed to a Neptune at 13 Libra in the destiny and rulership house suggestive via this “afflicting” opposition aspect of precisely deceit, theft, and/or suffering imposed. Yet by extension even the new leaders could well confuse or fail to defend past legacies of identity and culture. The marks of the past overshadow present and future.

Ever since the Flight of the Earls, the Irish have had to find their way amid disadvantage as much socio-cultural as economic. It is generalization only, but broadly what would happen is that while the peasant and farmer on the land (Celtic society’s traditional third order) would be symbol and protester of many things and supposed bearer of tradition, power went to a half hidden, town and village based rising commercial middle class. This could only thrive under existing restrictive laws by a degree of shady dealing which become ingrained would compromise the standards of Irish life and politics for generations. Their mouthpiece and deliverer was the rather brash and loose living Daniel O’Connell (it was joked you couldn’t throw a stone over the workhouse wall without hitting one of Dan’s bastards).

Asteroid O’CONNELL from the house of lawyers (he was a lawyer) is tellingly in affliction square the Republic’s would-be socially unifying Venus and exactly square its fatal Saturn in Leo in the house of religion which is the promise of the eventual end of Catholic triumphalism and hegemony in Ireland.

The as, when and how of Catholic Emancipation and its achievement ahead of the catastrophe of the Great Famine, put Catholicism, O’Connell’s class and especially the priests (acting now as a substitute Celtic elite) into power in a way that would subsequently choke national life at every level, worsening relations between north and south. It would identify being Irish almost wholly with being Catholic when ironically a lot of Irish nationalism and modern culture would subsequently derive from Irish Protestant sources – necessarily so as Catholicism would not allow the independence and modernity of thought involved. In the 1930s in shocking betrayal of values and promises of the 1916 revolution, De Valera virtually reduced Ireland legally to an arm of the Vatican and there was a major exodus of Protestants, artists and writers. The emphasis on Aries in the Republic’s chart is, I believe, a key to the fate of the increasingly rejected Catholicism within Ireland as suggested below.

CELESTIAL MARKS OF DIFFERENCE AND STYLE

The theme of Irish “difference” that I have stressed, is superbly shown by the status of Jupiter. This planet is symbol of a person or nation’s philosophy, beliefs and the basis of freedom. Placed. in the second house of personal values (as much as wealth), it is strong on 0 degrees of independent, freedom loving, would-be different Aquarius. This signals emphatic difference, but besides that something of the shocks and surprises of the Celtic Tiger years are anticipated by this additionally wealth-registering factor in an erratic sign in the possessions house.

Although the Celts historically didn’t – consciously – stress any Jupiter deity or factor, this Jupiter is still crucial for defining the (modern) Irish. The planet is theoretically ruler of the whole pattern because Sagittarius, (“ruled” by Jupiter), rises over the horizon at its birth. This rising point will define the body of the people, their persona, temperament and mythos. At one level Sagittarius is the priest, the philosopher, the prophet and pilgrim. At another level it is the sportsman and undeniably Irish sports, especially Gaelic football and hurling, are defining for Ireland and influential  on the international level.  Temperamentally, Sagittarius is the Irish as  ”broth of a boy” or “the wild Irish girl” type who can never have enough of the fun. Except that Ireland can’t quite have all the fun of the fair. 5 degrees of Sagittarius rises, but behind it at 8 degrees rises the planetoid, Chiron, the wounded healer, insuring tears may accompany laughter and melancholy visit the party and never quite be banished.

With the body involved, classic Irish beauty among the women from Maud Gonne, (Yeats’ own Cathleen ni Houlihan) to Edna O’Brien, to singer Sinead O’Connor whose 5 Sagittarius ascendant degree exactly conjuncts Ireland’s, is essentially the Sagittarian one. (Tragic Sinead who now wants to work for the dying, with her Venus and Sun below her ascendant seems to embrace the nation’s suffering, wounded Sagittarian Chiron).  Recall amid all this and bespeaking Sagittarius there were the Irish horse goddesses and that from the Gauls onwards many observers, like Richard Stanihurst in the sixteenth century, have been declaring the Irish make fine horsemen (they needed to be so since the Irish traditionally resisted any use of the saddle!). But Jupiter and Sagittarius transcend so that, even if and when the drone psychology doesn’t apply to them, many Irish, especially men, feel a sort of higher self and wider existence upon them through the racing and riding of horses and national sports generally which are almost a substitute or supplementary religion.

So…the restless Irish who travel, go on pilgrimage or who, through desire for adventure or from economic necessity, emigrate far and wide and who seek fun, all this is covered by shades of Sagittarius. And the horseman is the distance traveller as opposed to the more local one of Gemini and Mercury. But above all, Sagittarius is the sign of belief and organized religion, and of course the Irish are traditionally and typically religious, so unsurprisingly  the rising 5 degrees of Sagittarius positively trines asteroid CHURCH in the ninth house of beliefs and religion. We are now ready to cover those most vexed subjects, religion and sex.

THE IRISH AND SEX

Astrology may suffer misinterpretations but the skies don’t lie and they tell the truth about the Irish and sex. EROS at 5 Aquarius is loosely conjunct expansive Jupiter but in exact favourable aspect to both the image-giving ascendant and the marriage and unions associated descendant. This reflects the Irish mostly reckon to keep sex within bounds (and might even expect of it little short of the alchemical wedding itself!)  but since Aquarius is many ways different/queer, it’s a promise that one day Ireland could accept gay unions as is also the fact that the gay planet, Uranus, is in the nation’s house of marriages.

Sex strictly speaking nevertheless belongs with Ireland’s eighth house which holds Pluto. This can involve very intense sex and, some maintain, it rules pornography. As symbol of transformation generally, Pluto is certainly a promise of profound changes that Ireland can and will undergo regarding sex. With Cancer on the cusp of the house this sector is ruled by the moon.

The Republic’s moon is in Capricorn. This fits for the more familiar side of things, the Ireland set up by De Valera and rather mercilessly portrayed in Patrick Kavanagh’s poem The Great Hunger, with its the cold world of the lonely bachelor, unromantic and frustrated, “married” to his mother and patting his horse for comfort. But if lunar Capricorn at its Saturnian worst risks being this, notoriously it can manifest as its extreme opposite, the libertine like the supposedly life and sex-hating Samuel Beckett who used prostitutes and had marathon sex (some said three days with just intervals to eat and drink) with the nymphomaniac Peggy Guggenheim.

Though these are two extremes, it seems fair to say there aren’t just Italian stallions. Ireland of the horses can be exciting in its way. Within the eighth house Eire has the wow factor of all of CERNUNNOS, SIVA and MAEVA (i.e. Maeve). (Even in the fifth sector of love affairs and romance there’s DIONYSUS!).

All this rather points to huge reserves of raw sexual energy, though I believe MAEVA has a lot to do with bestselling novelist, Maeve Binchy, feminist recorder of an Ireland in social and sexual transition. Binchy regarded herself as a modern mouthpiece of mythic Maeve herself and went annually to Lisdoonvarna, home of Brian Merriman the eighteenth century poet whose Midnight Court poem protests Irish sex repression, to recharge batteries as Maeve’s voice to the modern Irish. However….raw energy can still be dangerous and not everyone really wants or needs it; so I suspect, rather as some rabbis have discovered a few tantric principles to channel sex better for the sometimes insatiable and Freudian-minded Jews, Ireland might use a bit of tantra to achieve especially the full body orgasm that among gays has been found to cure their too frequent and dangerous sex addiction. See article What gays want and need  https://goo.gl/ZVxWR9

As it is, the relations between partners in Ireland remains, as it always has been, a little strange due to its high degree of independence. Husbands and wives rarely seem close and intimate, a characteristic reflected in cool, different and gay-inclined Uranus in the nation’s marriage house, but conjunct PAN. While this combination could again indicate couples might use some tantric relating, if partners seem so self-contained, hardly needing one another, this may be because the Irish are almost pre-wedded to nature or their “soul” function stressed by Brian O’Donoghue and here symbolized by the conjunction to PAN. This incidentally fits my speculation about a real difference between soul and spirit that O’Donoghue’s theology fails to grasp, soul, even among Christians, is always somewhat pagan and nature bound in contrast to Spirit with which he confuses it. See my Ireland’s Old/New Spirituality Problems https://wp.me/p2v96G-126the

THE IRISH AND RELIGION

Finally, what about religion? With the ascendant exactly trine CHURCH, the society was and always will be somewhat church associated, though never to the extent it once was. In the house of religion stands a dangerous Saturn in Leo, a warning within any pattern to any kind for leaders and leading authorities (“Saturn in Leo, king dies” – Hitler had it and eventually lost and died) and since Saturn is order but also restriction, the church could be oppressive of the society and was.

But ultimate spiritual scandal was waiting to bring Irish religion in the Catholic mode down. The late Fr Malachi Martin, once a Vatican insider, shocked many by claiming Satanic rites took place in the higher echelons of the church. I can’t tell if some of the patterns of abuse and cover-up in Ireland that, finally revealed, would almost traumatize the nation, occasioning distrust and lapse from faith, had any such dark and occult meanings However, I do notice something remarkable in the Eire pattern the likes of which I have never found elsewhere before. The asteroid THEOTES (Godhead/Trinity) conjuncts LUCIFER. Conjunctions represent what is either very joined or opposed. The message seems to be that God and devil are in outright spiritual war over Ireland and it could suggest what has been involved in recent scandals is sometimes more than just sexual.

The sun represents the ultimate will, life direction and identity and unless and until the nation formally redefines itself, Aries, the self made man, represents that will. Unless you care to say Aries could represent “the fighting Irish”, as said, a Taurus sun that shone on 1916’s Easter Rising might have better represented the national mind, the “matriarchy” and culture generally and especially the arts; but with Aries, the patriarchal sign, attention shifts towards the more gritty writers like the overrated Seamus Heaney and the nihilist Samuel Beckett and the Judas sympathizing poet Brendan Kennelly see my article, Judas Stopped at Dublin. https://wp.me/p2v96G-Bm  (they were Ariens). Aries tends to be either very evangelical like General Booth of the Salvation Army (and Ulster’s Ian Paisley), or militantly atheistic like America’s Madilyn Murray O’Hare, or both, a sort of “evangelical” atheist like Richard Dawkins.

Here then is the basis for Irish secularization and revolt against Catholicism. It began with the young men of Ireland who refused the mothers of Ireland about going to mass. The priests weren’t worth it. Finish! The only trouble is that – looked at from the Protestant sidelines as I do – what you also get is Rob Doyle’s nihilistic, anarchic, aggressive, Here are the Boys and a considerable breakdown in the society with all the usual chaos of problems, drugs, crime, STDs etc. Even those one time rebels like Edna O’Brien who spoke for a greater freedom, are unhappy with what Ireland has become and is becoming. A dose of secularism may be useful to change a few archaic laws and free a few minorities, but the Celtic world has been consistently and insistently too spiritual and Christian too long to lose faith without losing its compass and suffering harm. Some religious renewal or truce with the spiritual past is needed, and even some truce with the right of people post post modernism  to define themselves – it has anyway been  an Irish obsession and reflex action since at least the times of St Colombanus who was an original in defining Europe too.

The slide from Catholicism when not into indifference into some form of neo-paganism is nonetheless simpler than a surprised world might be imagined. It results from how for too long the Catholic emphasis has been upon symbol and ritual rather than history and theology – biblical literacy and a firm grasp on a Judaeo-Christian tradition is largely absent, a reason an element of anti-Semitism easily finds expression (see below). The individual  slips into a kind of Jungian universe of floating symbols, none more significant than another but some more attractive for the purpose of experiment and new invented rituals. I am not certain if it’s coincidence or not, but with Lora O’Brien one of the more vocal and published writers on an Irish return to the old gods, we see asteroid O’BRIEN opposite that dangerously  over confident, tradition bound Saturn in Leo in Ireland’s house of beliefs. But then didn’t Edna O’Brien, author of A Pagan Place , though not herself finally pagan, question the role of the church in Irish life? Watch those O’Briens!

LUCK OF THE IRISH

Amid its diverse messages it must be admitted the Republic’s chart is not an especially  fortunate one. Under the usual rules it cannot hope to be so when its crucial Part of Fortune exactly conjuncts of all misfortune-registering features, black moon Lilith, (notorious among continental astrologers for trouble), the goddess whom early Irish monks once identified with the Irish Morrigan, figure of death and battle. As I stressed in Ireland’s Old/New Spirituality Problems https://wp.me/p2v96G-126the   refusal, or just inability, to somehow banish or transcend this too central archetypal influence is an element within a haunting side of the national picture that makes for block, for depression and failure . Not to do this, not to understand itself more and so not to be more understood by others, is regrettable because the Irish difference is not just any difference such as might separate Belgium from Holland, Norway from Sweden. It has value as being a real exception (at points almost quasi-Asian) within the West which represents quite other, certainly more this-worldly and matter-of-fact inclinations.

Douglas Murray has written persuasively of The Strange Death of Europe. It might not be inappropriate to speak of a dying Ireland. At any rate it’s hard to be optimistic of much future change either from what one observes is going on or from the telling celestial pattern I have interpreted. Especially if one of Ireland’s prophets, St Malachy of Armagh, is to be believed, we are anyway supposed to inhabit the end of days, the present Pope being the last in his line and hence the appearance of the  Antichrist pending – though an alleged prophecy of St Patrick from a seventh century biography has it Ireland won’t suffer the false prophet’s rule anyway because it will disappear beneath the waves! If Malachy’s prophecy has any validity the new leadership Ireland supposedly wouldn’t see, would automatically entail the kind of attempted New World Order that would abolish all borders and disregard all differences.. But without considering the most drastic of prophecies, Ireland has already lost borders enough, perhaps to the point of no return for a small nation.

It is true that there have been times in its history when Irish society seemed to have been brought to near ban and extinction and it has more or less recovered. It might rally again. But  there are limits and the international outlook is not helpful to any  self assertive and descriptive project. Around one in five people in Ireland are now migrants from wildly different cultural and religious backgrounds. It shouldn’t be called racist to notice that In tourist spots in the West or even in central Dublin, souvenir shops can be incongruously manned by migrants from Asia and around the world. Not necessarily those persons but some new migrants to Ireland are said to have illegally entered the Ireland through the ineffective border of British Ulster. I don’t suggest those in the souvenir shops and elsewhere in Ireland are in any way dishonest or disagreeable as individuals, many are perfectly pleasant and helpful, but that’s not quite the point.

All one can say is that Ireland struggled valiantly for centuries to achieve some degree of independence, borders and the freedom to express a separate culture. This was something many and sometimes reluctant members of the Irish diaspora in America and beyond  looking for a point of reference, a sort of mental homeland, hoped Eire could one day achieve. But within only a few decades the country finishes in virtual rejection of its historic strivings with a more than generous multiculturalism, the price its leaders have paid to have an Ireland of (admittedly needed) motor roads plus some subsidies from the EU and its fanatic, reckless globalists.

Except that like preserving ancient art works it’s important to know the anthropology of people groups, the shape and pattern of traditions, there’s not too much left to say or do about the Irish idea – except as individuals to carry and represent the remains of a culture in, as it were, a portable ark for the interest and enlightenment of whoever it may serve. The reality is that by now a lot more than just the romantic Ireland of O’Leary is in the grave as Yeats lamented; it’s more like Ireland of any description  is in a box on the way to cremation at the hands of Rob Doyle’s out of control, aimless rebel boys (along with a few dubious politicians, some of them as the academic Denis MacEoin has been highlighting,  rather anti-Semitic too ( https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10126/ireland-anti-semitism). It’s a tragic shame, a huge irony, but, as the very un-Irish T.S. Eliot might say, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2018 in culture, current affairs, Mysteries, psychology

 

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GREG SHERIDAN’S “GOD IS GOOD FOR YOU”. A MAJOR BOOK WITH AN ODD FLAW

Greg Sheridan’s God is Good for You: A Defence of Christianity in Troubled Times is for multiple reasons a timely, important book easily recommended to believer and sceptics alike. Critical acclaim has immediately attached to it. I will however dwell chiefly on what I consider to be a hidden flaw that threatens its edifice and entails an error of understanding that ironically contributes to the kind of spiritual impasse for Christianity and the West that Sheridan is exercised about.

The book is the work of a successful Australian political journalist and it’s perhaps only his being well known and highly regarded that apologetic work of his kind could get past publishing within the current climate of opinion.  This climate is well evoked at the book’s outset and in conclusion. Sheridan even goes so far as to characterize Australia as effectively atheist or soon to be so. He regards the media today as almost the enemy (tending to ignore or misrepresent religion) and I won’t enlarge on quite how much I know that scandal to be true.

It is tempting to classify Sheridan’s offering with last year’s more secular bestseller, Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe. Both authors push back against a crisis in western thought and direction, Sheridan being more concerned with the extent of the erosion in faith and the glib dismissals of Christianity by often intolerant elites whose dismissals additionally entail a contempt for western civilisation at a dangerous moment for it. Sheridan demonstrates that this civilisation and often the best in it too, is far more dependent upon the faith than the average reader is likely to have been aware. (Especially Christian readers may finish shocked at how much they haven’t been told, that their leaders haven’t defended and even religious schools haven’t taught).

For many, both with and without faith, God is Good for You could be an education in itself for its range. It’s readably about history, philosophy, theology (including how to enjoy and profit from reading the Old Testament and not just the New), along with  many facts about society and even science you may not know. And there are meetings and interviews with various leaders of Australian society vis- a-vis faith. (The author is Catholic but very fair and open around non Catholic Christianities).

PASSING ON A FAITH

…..But none of this is quite my concern here which is rather with one, almost hidden point. It’s nevertheless a crucial one that opens upon something that potentially undermines, or at least confuses, the apologetic thrust of the whole book and reaches into one the chief reasons Christianity is insufficiently defended or proclaimed, (or is wrongly proclaimed), and either way loses power and adherents after the manner Sheridan regrets and would redress.

St Paul asks “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” (Rom 10:14). Sheridan would reasonably enough answer that a lot of belief is derived from family and school but for various reasons these are not currently vital sources for communicating Christianity and this must be faced. (It’s true many church schools may as well not be such!)

But despite his  quasi-evangelistic call to teach more and better, Sheridan has a surprise for us. Not only is his spouse a Sikh (I don’t wish to be personal but St Paul counsels believers should not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers, 2 Cor 6:14) but more significantly since mixed marriages do inevitably occur,  in consequence it seems his three sons are of the religion too (p.90). This strikes a note more obviously counter to St Paul’s concern with raising one’s children in the instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).

Under elements of neo-Catholicism Sheridan somehow justifies his position, which includes attending Sikh services, by assuming that there can be great divine wisdom in non Christian religions  – theoretically Sikhism is monotheistic. So for Sheridan, while it’s perfectly true that Jesus is the saviour and even saves from hell (which he believes in since there must be “justice”), at the same time other systems can be true.

However reasonable this may sound, the position would for a start ignore that Sikhism, though monotheistic unlike the Hinduism it broke from, still teaches auto-salvation through multiple incarnations. In short, it denies grace, which is so original and radical in Christianity it distinguishes it from all other faiths as C.S. Lewis, one of Sheridan’s influences, affirmed when questioned on world religions. Christianity maintains evil is too engrained in life, nature and humans for anyone to reach perfection by their own efforts alone – and there’s anyway a limitation on the time for even  the best of would-be compensatory good works since we die once only and then is the judgment (Heb 9:27)!

A DISHARMONY OF FAITHS

It may be trendy or multiculturally convenient to maintain all the higher religions are essentially the same,  namely ways to God that make for love and peace. But it’s a far from obvious fact upon honest examination. Insisting upon it  ends in a fair deal of intellectual dishonesty, and that flight from any objective truth (or just the plain obvious) which is a part of the West’s sickness as Sheridan otherwise maintains.

Buddhism is theoretically atheistic and again allows no room for salvation as per Christianity; and the Buddhism of Burma, supposedly the religion’s purest, nearest-to-original form, when it comes to peace and toleration is clearly no paragon. Islam explicitly denies the divinity of Christ and the Koran enjoins execution and/or subjugation of infidels in stark contrast to the original Christian outlook like that of Tertullian, whom Sheridan cites, that though the gods of the pagans are demons, Christians are still to tolerate them in their beliefs. Polytheistic Hinduism is always hailed as a model of inclusiveness, but in its contemporary nationalist form under President Modi is anything but; it is currently turning a blind eye to the persecution of Christianity, the burning down of churches and beating even elderly worshippers senseless. (It belongs to the atheism and decadence of the West that the persecution of Christians outside the West is little reported or protested and concern with feminism enjoys more attention).

Even supposing claims are correct that God has supplied some vision to the higher religions, practically it doesn’t get through. At the grassroots in Asia people will say they are Buddhist or whatever, but  really they are  animists, devotees of local spirit or ancestral cults or gurus and shamans revered as though God (this somewhat happens among the Sikhs with their ten holy gurus).

FINDING THE PRIMORDIAL FAITH

It should be apparent from St Paul’s approach to Athenian paganism (Acts 17)  that he was not so much looking like some modern Christians to “dialogue” with existing faiths as guardians of  supplementary truths, as to uncover the world’s primordial faith, “the unknown god”, the creator who in world myth withdrew from human evil. In my The Great Circle: Asia, David and God Consciousness  https://goo.gl/ZHYQPw  I look into whether Asia, like Greece and the ancient West, ever had or has an unknown god, and the answer is yes. In some cases like the mostly Christian ethnic Karens of Burma (hated and persecuted by Burmese Buddhists),they had heroically waited centuries for the fulfilment of tribal visions that one day some stranger would arrive to bring them news of the true God.

Christianity is not a faith like Islam with a major conquest theme, but it is a religion of mission. Christ’s parting command, the so-called Great Commission, is to go and preach the gospel and to teach (Matt 26:16-20). Teaching rather than just rite and ritual as in most religions, is crucial to the Judaeo-Christian tradition and its notion of spiritual health. Otherwise it’s a case of “My people are destroyed through lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6).

I would certainly agree with Sheridan that Christian religion is hardly being taught today, but would go further and maintain it has compromised its “evangelical” teaching task. It has done so to the point of substituting “the example” of charitable work alone to justify its existence, to cause least offence in a PC world and even perhaps to cover over what some may privately regard as the stigma of what the gospel message actually is, by emphasizing “unconditional love” to the exclusion of all else.

Undeniably Christianity is and teaches many things, but one still needs to be aware how at its core its message is one of deliverance from especially death and, by extension, hell’s destruction. Sheridan believes in hell while admitting to the difficulty most would feel as regards a perdition that’s eternal and/or apparently escaped from by an act of faith alone, two problems that receive astonishingly little treatment today given their controversial status within the whole.

A CORE DIFFICULTY

Actually, there is a perfectly simple, if nothing else logical reason to think of hell as eternal and it’s not, as per the Puritans, because God is so severe in righteous wrath against sinners he can never be appeased of their offence. It’s because, like heaven, hell stands outside of time in an intense eternal present (1).  God authored time which is a function of the (fallen, imperfect) material realm, and there will be a point at which God abolishes time along with the evil it permits. Where you are spiritually at that point fixes your essence into a single direction of will towards or against God.

It can seem reasonable enough to propose, and reassuring to believe, that evil souls will simply be annihilated (the sometimes chaotic contradictions of Pope Francis’ beliefs now countenance this along with atheists in heaven),( 2) , but to the extent God is “Lord/Author of Life” (Acts 3:15), divinity cannot destroy any immortal soul. Otherwise God becomes like Satan who Jesus says was “a murderer from the first” (Joh 8:44). God can only prevent and finish evil  through its exile and quarantine. It would follow the soul must, if need be, remain fixed in its (unregenerate) nature within the “eternity” which is outside time. This state, a very intense now, can well be portrayed as a sub-existence in tormenting “fire”, because everything exists through God and God is (spiritual) fire – albeit a lot more besides. But if God is rejected and separated from, there is only the divine fire left to subsist through, not the other elements which would render the fire creative and liveable rather than consuming and destructive.

Despite everything, Sheridan believes belief matters. It is important because no belief is exclusively rational but involves the will. It follows that for Christians to stress the importance of belief in Jesus is to stress that the will is and must be God-directed. This however allows Sheridan to argue that any talk about the claims of God upon us, or of deity being “jealous” around us, means we must be loyal and devoted to the Good. And this is something non Christians can unconsciously be, like the sheep in the parable of the sheep and the goats of Matt 25 where  the sheep are surprised to learn they had been serving Jesus by their actions all along.

TRUTH AND NAMING

There is truth in this perspective on the biblical picture of our destinies, but if taken too far it potentially undermines Christianity’s leading idea of any specifically “saving” belief and the obligation to  proclaim it.

Sheridan’s  universalist assumption is meaningful to the extent that many across history will never have known anything about Jesus and can hardly be condemned, especially not to hell, for that. As the apostle indicates at Athens, “the times of ignorance God overlooked but now he calls all people to repent”. (Acts 17:30). The statement is harmonious with another of the apostle’s claims that in the Last Judgement the thoughts of those outside the Law may condemn or excuse them before God (Rom 2:15). (And long before Paul Hebrew scripture has God declare: “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy” (Ex 33:19)  – a statement incidentally counter to all post-Thomas Merton trendy Catholic notions that heaven and hell are things we simply choose, not what God chooses or predestines). So there isn’t and never should have been, as per some lunatic medieval teachings, notions of automatic damnation for all except those souls who are baptized and  consciously, deliberately Christian.

But Sheridan’s universalist take on doctrine is misleading to the extent being loyal to what you fancy as good (and which may not even be so) can never automatically amount to the same as being unconsciously devoted to the Christ self-described as “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Joh 14:6). The gospel position is that Truth and Goodness are ultimately a name, not ideas. If you have the opportunity to connect to Christ then you should do so and in disregard of the claims of history, tradition and family upon you, salvation being linked to specifically calling upon the Name and especially in self-critical “repentance” (it means “mind change”). The original teaching  was always “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13) and “there is no other name under heaven….by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

With this emphasis to its doctrines Christianity has always had an edge of urgency about it (which has perhaps affected the drive and engagement of western civilisation) where its “proclamation” is concerned. This is because there is understood to be a real struggle within the mortal time frame which is a theatre for our possible deception or injury by the forces of evil. These forces are seen as ruling this world and are the main source of human suffering and even what principally Christ incarnated to confront (1 Joh 3:8)  So there is this dramatic undercurrent “… night is coming when no one can work” (Joh 9:4) and “today is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2), not your next incarnation or when you agnostically shuffle this mortal coil and find out what’s what!

SUFFERING, EVIL AND HADES

Though the supposedly definitive Nicene creed states, “we believe in all things visible and invisible”, plainly most Christians inhabit modern scientism’s materialist swamp alien to all mystery and don’t so believe. Sheridan rightly says if you can’t accept angels and demons you could have a hard time with Christianity and I agree. Certainly you’ll have a harder time explaining evil in the world (and a few miracles too) and Sheridan himself is weak in this area going little further than rather conventionally  to proclaim suffering a mystery and blaming the necessary existence of freewill which can’t be cancelled at every moment.

Reading him on the suffering theme I incidentally baulked at finding yet again the common error which has Jesus on the cross voicing doubt and despair at divine goodness in a sort of terribly human identification with us and human woes. Will even educated Christians never learn that Jesus was piously reciting from Israel’s death Psalm 22 (though now often seen as prophetic for his death).  This  contains the forsaken cry, but any despair in Jesus’ case is part of the atonement sacrifice which involves temporary separation from the Father as he carries or becomes sin and  as such  undergoes what souls in hell must experience. This is destruction, living death, severance from every source of the Good. Even atheists experience God indirectly in this life through whatever is good within it. Hell by contrast is Dante’s “Abandon hope”, the gospel’s “outer darkness”, final separation from the light – hence the sun itself is seen as dimming at the crucifixion.

Today, those who believe in an afterlife have decided most people just go to whatever or wherever heaven is (Sheridan quotes Australia’s former Prime Minister, the Catholic Tony Abbot, to the effect perhaps only Hitler and Stalin go to hell). But in the world of the New Testament,  the ancient West and arguably some other places like China, belief was that the soul, and just about everyone and everything including Lesbia’s sparrow, went to the prison of Hades and remained there. The gods did not spare or cure death though they might spare a few heroes to Elysian fields. Homer’s view of the afterlife in the Odyssey is particularly ghastly.  Blood alone brings  mournful ancestors to the surface and let’s them speak. Christianity arrived to confront this pessimism but Hades/Hell, though considerably challenged in their power  (Christ is seen as now having the keys to death and Hades) remain in place  and  I think if we are honest with the gospel  record, Hades/Hell is  seen as being – by and large – still the default fate of an unregenerate humanity….unless.

It is possible that if they even think about it at all,  deep down humanity even half believes and expects this negative outcome unless other influences from lively faith intervene. The last poems of D. H. Lawrence, for example, are surprisingly  depressing in this connection. He imagines his soul and that of others embarking for Hades,  but though he hopes “the oblivion god” may lead him to some kind of new dawn (reincarnate him?) it is hardly a strongly felt hope.

RESURRECTION FAITH

My father died some weeks ago and before this he had suddenly informed me as I put him to bed one evening, that this was the end and Jesus had told him he would soon take him to himself. The next day I couldn’t get him up  up or communicate with him, so he was taken to the hospital and passed away, faster than expected, within twenty four hours. Some people do have intimations of an end and some devout Christians might report an angelic message, but by any standards this experience and its claim, which took me off guard, could be considered a bit exceptional. But plainly it seemed downright extreme to those to whom I happened to mention it. I was impressed how much people couldn’t really deal with the subject of death, Jesus or the afterlife. It became clearer to me how little Australians (and probably many others in the West) believe or have any religious feeling. It’s the sort of thing should ring alarm bells for the churches;  but it doesn’t and it won’t because as Sheridan puts it, Christians seem to lack adequate “situational awareness” – some even imagining their society is somehow still Christian – leading to poor strategies(3).

Reading Sheridan I was likewise impressed how little his Christians, even the devout, observant ones, seemed to have any clear notion of what form the afterlife might take and what mean and for whom such as their relatives – the Christian afterlife is supposed to begin as a spirit in “paradise” such as Jesus promised to the penitent thief, which is a waiting place distinct from heaven and preceding the resurrection of the dead which entails the assumption of a new spiritual body akin to that of Christ after the resurrection.

I am not an evangelical, one of whose qualifications to be such would be belief in an inerrant as opposed to an inspired bible. However, when it comes to the afterlife I do sense that evangelicals are nearer to truth than the kind of hazy, confused modern Catholic and Anglican thinking represented by some of Sheridan’s interviewees like Abbot. Beliefs like theirs neither quite help the self nor move the world, certainly represent no kind of gospel hope worth the proclaiming or like early Christians and  persecuted North Korean believers today, risking life and limb for. Abbot regrets that he doesn’t seem to hear from God. Again, I am not an evangelical to suggest such as Abbot should be hearing daily from Jesus (something surely reserved for the few, if any!),  but if he never has a few divine messages and intuitions there might be reasons. Belief should be clear, informed and committed if it isto work for you. There is such a thing as spiritual efficiency.

St Paul suggests that if you don’t believe in the resurrection your faith is futile (1 Cor 15:17); you might as well eat, drink and be merry and tomorrow die. I don’t like, and don’t think it’s quite possible, to go too far in deciding who is a “real” Christian by such standards as they’re highly orthodox, terribly “born again” , very prayerful or whatever. But I am coming to the conclusion that to possess some deep conviction of “the sure and certain hope of resurrection” could well be a litmus test for the definition. Unquestionably it was almost the central, original formula for Christian belief and identity:  “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9).

If nothing else Sheridan’s book can make you think about many things and essential ones. I will always wonder whether his book doesn’t arise from a kind of half unconscious penitential compensation towards society for what the author doesn’t seem to have been convincing his own offspring about in what could be deemed a dereliction of Christian duty. But  this doesn’t detract from the objective importance of the book’s information, statements and remarkable honesty.

NOTES

(1)  Conventional depictions of hell and some NDE accounts (of whatever validity), do seem to include a sense of time along with the possible anachronism  of free roaming, tormenting demons. Time in this case, along with any demonic freedom, would be a property of the pre/ temporal hell which is ultimately thrown into “the lake of fire” (Rev 20:14),at the end of time,  the true hell which is existence through God as “fire” alone.

(2)  I evoke Francis’  contradictions in two satirical poems, Heaven for All  https://wp.me/p2v96G-8y  and Ichabod or Papal Glory Departing, https://wp.me/p4kNWg-6c  (These poems incidentally allow the possibility that some of the issues Sheridan raises are in fact end of era, “end of days” type matters, a fulfilment of Christ’s anticipation of a loss of faith towards the end (Luk 18:8).  

(3) The remarkable blindness of churches  to the spiritual, and even just social situation, is reflected in the way over recent decades they have relentlessly targeted the gay issue, first just opposing the gay minority’s right to exist, then opposing gay marriage as a threat to family and society.  Ironically, if they wanted to criticize and reform society towards more Christian lifestyles, it is the vast un marriage of heterosexuals which should have been their primary concern. It is precisely amid the loosened  or non family friendly structures of a permissive society that children are not raised to any religious beliefs and just pleasure or the convenient become central life values. Yet how often did clergy seriously preach against the drifting, the unattached or the serially divorced? Almost never. It was only gay marriage was unnatural and unholy; and this targeting  of a minority only further alienated society from the churches seen as bastions of arbitrarily undemocratic views. This feature of modern social history is a good illustration of Christ’s words that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light (Luk 16:8). (The previous article entered on this blog, Today’s Christian Image Problem is relevant to the question of lack of “situational awareness”).

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Mysteries, religion

 

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PEACE, JERUSALEM AND A 2018 TURNING POINT

PROPHETIC CONVERGENCE

The subject may be strange, but it’s no longer reasonable  to dismiss outright  all speculation on apocalyptic scenarios. Someone recently did so to me on the basis that “apocalyptic millenarianism” and talk of end times has been doing the rounds for centuries.  Yes,  but it has never been able to do so with anything approaching the striking convergence of relevant factors currently in play, up to and including even the increase in quakes and volcanoes and now the potential mysteries of Israel’s seventieth year.

As only one recent example, Turkey’s president Erdogan who is drawing ever closer into alliance with Russia and Iran and who threatens a war of Crescent with Cross, convened a conference last month (May) of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). He called on members to take back Jerusalem for the Arabs.  The call embraced the Muslim world from Iran (biblical Persia) and Libya to North Sudan, but notably some Arab nations from the Gulf states were absent and apparently not on board with the policy – today they are closer to being allies of Israel against especially the  threat of Iran.

This situation appears to  correspond with remarkable exactitude to alliances envisaged for “the latter days” by  the prophet Ezekiel in especially Ezek 38. In it there is an alliance against Israel of the (now Muslim) regions of Gog and Magog (Turkey), Persia (Iran), Put (Libya) and Ethiopia (North Sudan) and then Rosh to Israel’s far north (Russia) while Sheba and Dedan  – Dedan corresponds to the Saudi/Gulf region –  stand apart from what takes place . They ask if those involved  are seeking spoils – which if modern relevance can be assumed could actually finish the case, since Russia and Turkey are now low on gas and oil and Israel is discovering these in its north and off its coastline.

THE JERUSALEM ISSUE

There is apocalyptic potential in just President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital….or rather the now astonishing levels of international resistance to it. Beyond inevitable Muslim opposition the reaction represents a new, eminently post, non, or anti Christian response since biblically there can be little question about Israel’s well-attested, very ancient claims as regards the city and biblical statements to the effect Jerusalem is where YHWH puts his Name (1 Kings 11:36). America and Trump have not resigned from the UN’s Council for Human RIghts for nothing. It really has become a mouthpiece for too many notoriously unjust regimes which hypocritically pursue Israel relentlessly for the slightest alleged errors.  And  it is now almost  embarrassing when “Christian” nations and even the Pope (who has been so improbably friendly with Erdogan) question or ignore that. Yet that such is the situation  is  nevertheless again redolent of claims for “the latter days’ from prophets Joel and Zechariah that Jerusalem will become a point of contention and obsession, even a cup of staggering for the nations who will be against it. If most Christians don’t  acknowledge this blatantly clear point, it is either because prophetic elements of the bible don’t cross their horizon, or they don’t wish to be “political” and take sides.

But stirrer Trump is keen not only to establish Jerusalem as Israel’s natural, eternal capital  but to link this to “the deal of the century”,  an all-embracing peace treaty for the Middle East. It would indeed be remarkable to achieve that goal, but what would likely follow on its heels would be still more remarkably prophetic….

Israelis are increasingly disposed to regard Trump as a (sort of) “messianic” figure like King Cyrus of Persia whose policies  undid Israel’s Babylonian exile and permitted the building of the second temple. There’s little question it is now hoped and expected that the building of a third temple will soon become possible as a result of the peace treaty. (There are even debates whether the station of a new rail line due to pass near the Temple Mount area should be called Trump Station!). And a new temple would indeed have apocalyptic relevance. Rabbis have even been suggesting Israel’s now disturbed, unusual weather patterns are themselves a signal to messianic imminence.  One prominent rabbi has declared PM Netanyahu will be handing the sceptre to the Messiah soon. Expectation is helped by an understanding that prophecy is not just linear but cyclical (“what has been, will be” as Ecclesiastes puts it) and thus since Jeremiah correctly forecast  that divine favour would return to Israel “after seventy years”, the principle applies.  For modern Israel and its returned exiles, seventy years ran out on May 14th so anything is possible from now on, they believe, and 2018 could prove specially eventful and blessed.

Whether you like or loathe, approve or disapprove him, it’s not mere fantasy to regard Trump as a man of destiny.  At his birth the asteroid Cyrus conjuncted the  messianic planet Jupiter (the Bethlehem Star) and directly, fortunately trined a tenth house (career/destiny/ reputation)  Tempel (sic) asteroid, itself conjunct Uranus (the originality and difference planet). Asteroid Jerusalem looks rather less significant for him until one realizes that its 2 Scorpio position places it for him in dynamic, tension-creating opposition to modern Israel’s natal conjunction of precisely Cyrus with Jerusalem. If it weren’t true all this would seem between improbable and impossible, certainly impossible to make up.  But then too, what is happening arguably belongs to the end of the era.

AN ERA’S END

Many would protest we are not in any “latter days” such as Ezekiel associates with the Gog/Magog war. But quite objectively we are at the end of one definition of an age, the Piscean. We are so even if Christians don’t care to acknowledge this and how it’s the same era whose inauguration was close to  Christ’s birth. The relevant symbolism undeniably fits and joins beliefs in end of era crises. The ruler of Pisces, Neptune, rules disappearances while the  ruler of Aquarius, Uranus, rules shocks and revolutions. Claims that the believing prepared will disappear (at the so-called Rapture, the hidden return of Christ) and that some years later the world will be shocked at the open manifestation of Christ in Jerusalem, could be said to agree with a Neptune/Uranus end and beginning of eras with the Aquarian era then identical with the biblical Millennium.

PEACE and  SECURITY

It was  perhaps coincidental but potentially significant, that President Trump’s Dec 6th speech on the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, included the phrase “peace and security”. Such of course belongs with the new policy’s aim. Trump aspires to changing the whole fraught picture for that region. He may well succeed. He has already troubled the waters in such a way that the result may now be a degree of confusion seeking new solutions or possibly even outright conflict (Iran is already vowing to destroy Israel on account of the Jerusalem claim) following which a new peace deal would be needed to resolve things more rapidly and radically than anything previously. Many American Christians assume their nation, long Israel’s chief ally, will be much involved in achieving the elusive peace and that Trump is now the vehicle for this.

Where fate is concerned, once again there’s an ignored, purely celestial reason supporting America’s belief. It is visible in the way that nation’s founding Venus (the peace factor in any chart), at 3 Cancer conjuncts Israel’s founding Venus at 4 Cancer giving real connection and affinities. Moreover America’s Venus conjuncts its own Jupiter at 5 Cancer.  This reflects  intrinsic optimism, good fortune, not to say  strong religious feeling attending such a venture.

However, reverting to the “peace and security” ideal which is already a mantra among  world leaders and bodies, this  is increasingly cited by prophecy buffs as signalling the end times and a  harbinger of the imminence of the so-called Rapture. This is said to occurs at a time when ‘sudden destruction” surprises “peace and security”. Undeniably the phrase is used by St Paul in Thessalonians (1 Thess 5:3), one of the places in which he refers to the global situation around the time of the sounding of “the Last Trump” (which almost sounds like a pun on the POTUS’ name!). If Trump now pulls off the hat trick of a measure of peace in the Far East with a peace treaty in the Middle East, people will be talking about peace and security.

NOW IN THE COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS: A DISAPPEARANCE

I won’t try to summarize with all its variations Christian end times teaching. Sufficient to say that among those who pursue this line (many Christians discount it), there is a sufficiently large consensus that the Rapture, Transformation or Disappearance of the believing prepared occurs just before or after, but anyway around the time of, an historic peace accord for Israel that an Antichrist or false Messiah figure will subsequently confirm. There is also a broad consensus that the disappearance (itself now almost something in the collective unconscious in everything from New Age  anticipation of ‘The Event” to the mega popular Avengers 111 film with its mass disappearance engineered by an evil rather than a good God), cannot and will not occur unless the Rapture has occurred first. This was the scenario seen way back in 1980 in the alleged vision of the Tribulation period by Ken Peters, who to his visionary credit did see things relating to computers, flat screen TVs and army vehicles that were not relevant or even present back then but are now.

One reason to give the crisis and deliverance expectation some benefit of the doubt is because this time around anticipation rather neatly corresponds to something which those calling themselves “watchmen on the wall” wouldn’t wish to consider.  It is nonetheless ironically one of the strangest and perhaps strongest cases for their expectation which will now either soon be proved true in 2018 or can be safely  put to rest for good.

In 1962 the late Catholic seeress, Jeane Dixon (most apocalyptic interest tends to be Protestant) claimed to have received the most important vision of her life, the point of whatever gifts she had, namely of the birth of ”The Child from the East”. Dixon was however alone in insisting this figure was the biblical Antichrist when  elsewhere in the world many were declaring the unique celestial signs of that time (5.2.1962) augured if not the end of the world, the birth of someone very special, likely a world teacher or avatar.

AN ANTI MESSIAH

For the reported birth Dixon supplied an exact time but no exact place, only “in the Middle East”, This was odd because having been taught astrology by a Jesuit priest, Dixon would know that astrological birth data, distinctly relevant in this instance, require a place. Most likely, as one non-Catholic prophet years later independently had it, again from alleged  vision, the birth was in Syria. (If so, that would suitably make the person like the original Antichrist ante-type, the Syrian, Antiochus Epiphanes, defiler of the Jewish temple in 167 BC). It is in any case a fact that until recent times, descendants of the Davidic line, with which possibly the False Messiah would wish to identify, have lived around Damascus. Dixon subsequently reported her “Child” was early taken to and spent time in Egypt as though in imitation of the infant Jesus, then later was brought by his parents to Italy settling in Rome where he would be influencing especially leaders in religion.

Even without the exact pattern supplied by a place of nativity, there are things that distinguish the birth pattern in a way that sends out warning signals for prophecy and which are far more persuasive than anything attributed to the likes of Obama which America-centric obsessions have somehow managed to make out is the Bible’s own dark figure. (It is of course  possible Obama and others could facilitate such a person’s advance – Dixon saw the US as her Child’s chief promoter when finally he would appear and increasingly subject to an undermining deep state – but if so that’s another matter).

Dixon’s “Child”, showed all the inner or so-called personal planets from moon to Saturn exceptionally gathered in Aquarius, sign of the human, while the outer spiritual, trinitarian planets, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto were not in the sign. Neptune (often today called the Christ planet) was however negatively placed relative to the identity-giving sun but conjunct asteroid Lie . Altogether this could indicate the wholly human wisdom of 666 that never reaches the sacred and completion number 7 and perhaps too the premature appearance of a seemingly futuristic wisdom since the age of Aquarius must soon dawn.

Suggestive too was the way that the “ruler” of the Aquarian sun, Uranus, was highlighted and primed for fame by its powerful conjunction with the fame and influence-favouring fixed star of kings, Regulus, in royal Leo. Regulus also conjuncted an asteroid Achristou which over the years I have found to function as an Antichrist symbol, prominent for those like Aleister Crowley into the dark side

Other technicalities feature such as a negative relation to the pattern for Jesus. I have long claimed to possess this (it continues to work and register for Christ events to this day)  and it should be common knowledge to Christians but if this isn’t that it is much due to a Christian demonizing of astrology as so much forbidden “divination” and devilish occultism as opposed to the study of cycles and symbols that the rabbis would see it as being. (See Testament of the Magi   https://goo.gl/x8KASy  and explanatory blog The Magi at Era’s End https://wp.me/p2v96G-ip

TIME FRAME FOR APPEARANCE AND A TIME OF CRISIS

It is because they fail to study or understand astrology traditional or modern but promote instead an often wide-of-the-mark “Christian astronomy” the ancient Magi would never have recognized, that there have been so many false calls and errors directed recently upon events. Amyway…..Eclipse effect lasts six months (Lunar) to a year (Solar). And one of the signs of last August’s variously significant solar and lunar eclipses was precisely their relevance unnoticed or unstressed to the birth chart of Dixon’s Child.

Though it’s not only eclipses I would consider in this case, last August’s  solar eclipse with its relevance to the US and Israel and upon which many placed much emphasis for various reasons nevertheless functioned in a way that promised something major, possibly even “now or never” in the life of the promised one. If Dixon’s person existed, I felt he needed to appear as despite some previously helpful and suggestive patterns there had never been quite such a strong a call towards power and influence  and obviously too he would  not be getting younger.

I said  things to this effect in a youtube, Signs Rumours and Forecasts of Apocalypse,  ignoring an important timing point of which presently, and also conceding something to those speculations that insist any return of  Christ should be associated with a Jewish feast – the northern autumn’s  Feast of Trumpets  and the Spring/Summer Pentecost feast make  undeniably plausible claims, including that their precise  exact timing in any year carry some dating uncertainties. Biblical declarations about “not knowing the day nor the hour” might be covered by idioms and customs long insufficiently recognized and understood by gentile Christians.

THE LIMITS OF PLAUSIBILITY

However, I have never  been completely convinced about the feasts as necessarily marking the historically one-off, unprecedented, surprise event of anything like a Rapture and/or Anti Messiah’s advent.

As regards those who argue annually for a Pentecost season rapture, strong though their  claims are at the symbolic level (including that this is the most gentile embracing festival and St Paul speaks not just of a last trump but “the Trumpet of God” at Rapture, an expression only ever once used for the first Pentecost  when Moses received the Law), the fact remains that in  2018, and in many years, Pentecost  will never  turn up the necessary celestial signs.  These work with a hierarchy of significance. Neptune, the Christ planet, only goes into its apparent retrograde (a sign of anything or anyone returning) in the second half of the year (mid June onwards). As said, there’s a hierarchy of weight  where signs are concerned, and so despite some oddly suggestive celestial signs, Pentecost 2018’s absent Neptune factor  would by itself cancel out much else.

More to the point for the present article is that when I stated last year that – if he exists – Dixon’s “Child” must appear late 2017 or early this year, I failed to stress how much the eclipses of January (lunar) and February (solar) of 2018 and then even the eclipses of July and August should also count and answer to those of last August and complete any call, thus allowing any full advent to be further delayed.

Perhaps all one really needs to know and see is whether within  2018 Trump, America and Israel have the chance to reach the stage of some degree of treaty or covenant that a messianic figure could confirm. I consider the chances of this quite strong but it will be a struggle  – a possible clue to confirm this being the way that Israel’s and America’s peace factor (Venus) are under stress at the July blood eclipse and the August solar eclipse (see next section). One imagines negotiation will be tough and not please everyone no matter what happens.

THE SEVENTIETH YEAR AND TO PREDICT JUST A LITTLE

2018  is a good year for crises and challenges of all kinds in the world generally, and we know that at May14th Israel passed a major milestone, the 70 years or “generation” of its existence. As  already said, Biblical prophecy (like good astrology!)  is not just linear but cyclical. It is for this reason many Jews set store by Jeremiah’s exile, Cyrus and temple relevant prophecy (Jer  29:10,11)  “after seventy years are completed…. I will visit  you and perform my word towards you……to give you a future and a hope”. In short, theoretically now anything dramatic can happen to Israel and/or the Church. Last February’s solar eclipse (valid up to a year)  and itself so potent to the false Messiah’s chart, also hit almost to the minute of a degree on the Moon/Church conjunction for the Pentecost birth of Christianity.

In terms of celestial signs the 70th year does stand out and perhaps the most important is the most hidden and undiscussed even by most stargazers. Pluto is due to make a rare crossing of the ecliptic southwards. As has been pointed out by at any rate one astrologer, any crossing north or south corresponds to a major shift in power in the world whether the event triggering it is noticed and recognized at the time of not. Thus it corresponded to Caesar crossing the Rubicon which is what led to the end of the Roman Republic in favour of the empire. The last southwards past in 1770 corresponded to the Boston Massacres which seeded the American Revolution. This year it could correspond to a variety of things but possibly Trump’s Peace Plan could be trigger to great change and a NWO under an emerging Antichrist figure. Very precise measurement for the crossing is not possible but it is believed it is around 24th October.

On July 19th precisely, but somewhat throughout the month, in a fairly rare astronomical event, all the planets  fall on one side of the sun where they remain into September – as this could place stress on the earth,  unsurprisingly this has in the past corresponded to an increase in volcanic activity (as though there wasn’t enough in evidence already!….if there is much more volcanic eruption it could begin to darken the sun’s light, another sign of apocalypse).

In the same month on the 27th,  a blue blood moon eclipse, the longest of the century above Jerusalem but visible in most parts of the world,  falls on a minor Jewish festival, Tu B/Av (a sort of Valentine’s day)  which is the beginning of the grape harvest. It gains in significance in falling at the midpoint of the January 2018 and Jan 2019 Jewish Festival of Trees, rendering it rather more closely a 70th year phenomenon  that could be associated with the apocalyptic associated fig tree. This unusual blood moon eclipse is still further highlighted by rather exceptionally falling midpoint two partial solar eclipses in July and August – normally a lunar eclipse simply precedes or succeeds by a fortnight a single solar eclipse. Interestingly too, Mars like the moon itself which will be a supermoon, is closest to the earth at the time. This  by tradition would point to coming tensions and violence but because it is also in its apparent retrograde motion, the symbolism is rather of violence unusual, unexpected  or checked in some fashion; hence something like the peace deal to restrain tensions or even some deception regarding war could be in the picture here.

Undeniably the bible does speak of the moon turning to blood before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Acts 2:20). Since however the moon turned to blood in Hebrew and Talmudic tradition can signify no more than a blood moon eclipse, and lunar eclipses with blood moons are not so rare, it is understandable that  some would dub the July lunar “the apocalypse eclipse” simply because so much attaches to it to make it stand out from the usual run of them.

However, not to be dogmatic and recalling lunar eclipses, though they may disturb the earth temporarily as in quaking, more generally have six month relevance, the Jewish feasts of September (or due to disagreement of calendars some say October)  could just deliver something too.  I feel confident only to say that if by the end of October, when recall there is that major Pluto ecliptic crossing, no one like Dixon’s orgre has begun to appear on the world  stage, then he very likely cannot exist and her vision would seem to have been false. But if he is for real and will appear then, unless majority modern interpretations of the end times are  quite  mistaken, the anti Messiah would not appear unless and until the Rapture has occurred, which is to say that event would need to occur within months possibly even weeks. The idea might seem improbable, but finally here’s one odd possible hint in  the directions of things apocalyptic.

AND  FINALLY, TO FACTOR IN HAWAII

Last September and following the time that some Christians were all worked up about the significance of August’s total eclipse, a devout person I know, a former missionary, while visiting Israel believed they were given the peculiar message from God that “the waters have broken” (The times of  the apocalypse are often depicted as a woman in birth travail and birth pangs increase in frequency and intensity).  The message nonetheless seemed so odd  and unexpected the person was happy and relieved  to discover that in October a group of self-declared prophets had agreed upon being given the same word. It should of course mean the delivery is soon. But it hasn’t yet happened. However it’s important to note that contrary to much belief, births don’t automatically begin with the breaking of the waters but at differing times later and only certainly with the onset of contractions.

So let’s conclude with some symbolism and ask should Hawaii  be factored  into the timetable?  Quakes and volcanic activity  (“blood, pillars of fire and drifting smoke”) are also a harbinger of apocalypse. Starting early May, Hawaii’s Big Island began to erupt and it shows no sign of abating now in June. The island lies approximately at the centre of the Pacific Ring of Fire. In modern medical terminology, especially American, the “Ring of Fire” is the name given to the condition after the waters have broken and just before contractions and the head of the foetus begins to emerge.

Is it possible the Hawaiian flow won’t now stop (or stop only for other volcanoes to take over)  until greater crisis ensues? Is it possible the world itself is telling us the world is indeed close to maximum and apocalyptic crisis? All this is speculation, not prophecy and  date setting, but it is not unreasonable speculation in the circumstances.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2018 in current affairs, Mysteries, religion

 

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BEYOND EASTER DAWNING: A POEM

There is little enough celebration of Easter or any probing of its meaning today in specifically verse..In turn Australia, never the most poetic of nations, has become so  secular (or perhaps multicultural and fearful to offend those like Muslims who deny both the death and resurrection of Christ  occurred), that this year’s Good Friday TV contained not a single programme related  to the day. The following poem thus fills a poetic gap of sorts and is even a small act of  poetic justice in the face of blind secularism/multiculturalism.

Poems of mine can be found throughout this blog, but I have not written any poetry for a while – the last entry was for last September. This latest offering, composed very quickly by my usual standards, came to me (or at least the idea for it did) unexpectedly, while driving my car on the Tuesday of this Easter week. Because it was so quickly written and carries various implications, I may yet edit  the piece. It would nonetheless seem foolish to hold it back at this Easter season simply because I did not consider it as perfect as I could wish. But then, beyond poetry, I don’t think too much of art generally as regards the Resurrection theme (see comment below).

BEYOND EASTER DAWNING

A trembling of the earth alone gave sound
When Life revived. The pre–dawn air was still,
The sky dark amost as the Hades just traversed
And conquered too.

Though present and aware, no seeing angels sang
The moment that gave second birth to earth and soul
And most of all to bodily form, not owning which
Even lasting soul could live as homeless as the damned.

After the earth had moved and shouting soldiers,
Terrified, had fled their watch
The brooding silence had returned and
Lain across the hills of Zion’s troubled land
As though in wait for who at dawn
Might understand and celebrate
The range and heights of mystery.

Beneath the high serene of April sky
Within the second Eden of a garden’s place
What Nature’s Lord, the Morning Star, achieved
A passionate woman was the first to know.
And then the youthful bosom friend, the friend
Of soul. Both these while others talked in fear
Were able to believe if little more than
Joyful fact. Full forty days were needed to absorb
The larger truths and fifty till the Spirit sealed
With fire and tongues the new and growing
Powers now opened to belief on earth.

Though once revealed, the force of resurrection
Grows – the reason earth still travails to its liberty (1)
And still no heavenly choirs have sung the theme
Of life reborn and wholly changed.
Instead, towards the age’s end
And even as belief declines  (2)
They wait, like us, who now and here
See more a light of noon than dawn
A promise of the trumpet’s blast
That raises even those in dust. And thus
On Easter’s morn we feel us sealed
And called beyond as not before.

NOTES

1)  Rom 8:22 …..the whole creation groans and travails

2)  Luk 18::8  ….When he returns will the Son of Man find faith upon earth?

Until I started searching for pictures to accompany this poem, I had not quite taken in how curiously limiting and defective resurrection themed art is. You have little choice apart from archaic, misshapen mostly medieval images  and modern, kitschy, mainly American, emotion based ones, almost none of which suggest the mystery of spiritual, physical and natural power involved. Between ancient and modern Claude Lorrain captures something of the first Sunday mood in its dreamier mystical, peace/shalom aspect, but, though the artist can’t be blamed for it, there is no notable connection to historical detail and setting. Michelangelo’s Renaissance Risen Christ sculpture presents its own problems as discussed by Frank Salmon  ( https://goo.gl/7j36HP )  who points out how vastly more crucifixion than resurrection has engaged art and artists.  I feel faced with one big  artistic distortion, and for the first time have some sympathy for the aniconic position where religion is concerned. Better no image at all if the image can only be inadequate. However, all that is a subject in itself..

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2018 in Mysteries, Poetry, religion

 

IRELAND’S OLD/ NEW SPIRITUALITY PROBLEMS AND JOHN O’DONOHUE’S CONNEMARA MYSTICISM

A NATION AND PEOPLE CHANGED

Recently, one of Ireland’s few exorcists, Fr Pat Collins, has charged that the hierarchy of his church is out of touch with the reality of Irish conditions. Despite or because of the decline of faith (he calls it “apostasy”) there has been an exponential increase in troubled people seeking and not finding deliverance from states they rightly or wrongly believe to be demonic possession. Exorcists and their ministry are lacking. https://goo.gl/owAZN8

There is no question that the whole face of religion in Ireland has changed in the last two to three decades in the wake of the combined effect of disillusioning revelations of severe, often sexual, child abuse among the once revered clerical class and the Celtic Tiger years in which Ireland enjoyed levels of economic prosperity alien to long national experience. Multiculturalism which has brought in a variety of faiths has also added to what can sometimes seem like chaotic change. Who would ever have imagined the day would come that Ireland would be  debating the legality of such as female genital mutilation favoured by some Irish Muslims?

Though many do still attend mass, one in ten no longer adhere to any faith, but what has emerged is less pure secularism than a kind of new ageism or neo-paganism some of which may still be quasi-Catholic in its way. It is very evident in the case of bestselling Lorna Byrne (Angels in my Hair – she sees helping angels everywhere all the time and she forecasts that Christians will eventually worship at Mecca) and Joe Cassidy the much in demand diviner.

Celtic and especially Irish religion is a rare and special phenomenon that takes some understanding, but here I am going to try to diagnose its strange ills. Historically and positively there is no question about the service Ireland and the Celts gave to religion and western civilisation itself which they helped preserve during the early dark ages.

There is no question either that there is some kind of, mystical, psychic and imaginative talent that the Irish bring to religion, but there is also an underlying darkness and repression and now, under western secularism, a new malaise. Can we hope to explain, diagnose and cure this? In one essay obviously not, but I can offer a few pointers and I feel this should be done especially as there is something amid all the change that takes us right back to origins, to the beginning of an era now ending and even the often overlooked contact of St Paul with one version of the Celtic mind and culture.

THE JOHN O’ DONOHUE INPUT

   

One of the classier and for its implications more significant expressions of the new outlook, is found in the bestselling works of onetime priest, philosopher and poet, John O’Donohue (1956-2008). He is most celebrated for Anam Cara (Soul Friend) which I wouldn’t consider his best work but which struck a chord in and out of Ireland, perhaps most for reassuring people there is nothing to fear in death and that much in modern life distracts from essentials.

Raised in the Gaeltacht and the austere landscape of Co Clare’s Burren region that he nevertheless loved, O’Donohue was a pleasing personality with a wonderful Irish voice that graced his poetry and statements with a sort of oracular profundity not always due them. His fluent prose can moreover be more poetic than his poetry.

O’Donohue was almost prototypically Irish, a one man guide to the Celtic mind itself, a reason to explore his work. Significantly too, belatedly he brings German figures, especially Hegel and Goethe, into the orbit of Irish thought where they long needed to be because German culture has a lot to say about development, nature and “culture”, themes with affinity for the Celtic legacy in a way the many Latin influences upon Ireland from Dante to Proust don’t necessarily support.

O’Donohue regards the Celts as a nature people. He himself perceives landscape as “full of soul” and animate which recalls assumptions of the theosophist poet seer of the Irish Renaissance, AE, and even the bible, especially Ezekiel 36, though he doesn’t seem familiar with either source on this. He nevertheless calls landscape “the first born of creation” which seems to be a misremembering of a biblical dictum “Christ is the first born] [or preeminent] of creation” (Col 1:15).

Following seminary and studies at Maynooth, O’Donohue pursued philosophy (especially Hegel’s) at Tubingen perhaps most famous for its liberal theology, Bultmann and “demythologizing”. In some respects O’Donohue is himself a demythologizer of things Catholic but under the influence not of modern scholarship but medieval Meister Eckhart’s quirky, ultimately heretical mysticism beloved of new agers. Eckhart opines and O’ Donohue concurs, that nothing is so like God as silence, a denial of deity as the Creative Word/Logos that calls forth creation. O’Donohue has no real sense of the Creator. It’s worth noting that Ireland’s extensive mythic legacy lacks creation myths.

So…..while O’Donohue has described and expressed many elements of Irish character, its social spontaneity and capacity for solitude, its “wildness and serenity” – what’s Irish emerges if anything as a set of seeming contradictions and paradoxes – one may still question the new age drift of his interpretations and the mystic balm he offers the Irish and many others who nowadays draw inspiration from Celtica.

Although O’Donohue had the right to believe and teach whatever he liked, I still baulk at quite how much from his quasi-Catholic position ( Anam Cara is itself a concept of Early Celtic Christianities) he misreads where religion is concerned. Trained and practicing as a priest for much of his life, he seems more biblically illiterate than laypersons (like Edna O’Brien’s Co Clare mother to gather from O’Brien’s autobiography) and scarcely to have grasped what Christianity was about short of sending out hopefully successful blessings.

He assumes God and Death are probably the same thing and that’s what contemplative mysticism has discovered (DB p, 225) Really?….Whatever happened to “I am the resurrection and the life”? But no; hearing people talk of heaven as a response to death, O’ Donohue thinks it only sounds unrealistic, though he allows souls slip off somewhere but their heaven is more state than place and maintains that eternal life is simply eternal memory (DBy p. 171). By contrast heaven and salvation were what Celtic Christianity, especially the early kind, were almost obsessively about.

Bordering on Christian atheism, O’Donohue’s God is the God of Eckhart “who has no why” and whose intention is simply to be. This gets justified by a misunderstanding of Yahweh’s declaration to Moses of “I am who I am” which was noticeably delivered from the fire which of the elements is the most distancing and unapproachable. A major biblical theme is that even though God fills everything (Jer 23:24) humanity is still separated from God, especially by iniquities (Is 59:2), making barriers hard for both humanity and deity to overcome. (Even in most world myth the Creator withdraws, but recall Irish myth has a significant gap re creation). Given the withdrawal, wisdom accordingly begins with a degree of fear or respect of the Lord who it is advised to fear as a being with power to commit to hell (Luk 12:5), a notion O’Donohue won’t even countenance..

For O’ Donohue there is no barrier between us and whatever constitutes deity. This is one reason why soul knows no fear including of death – he cites the ancient world atheist philosopher, Lucretius to lend support. Accordingly prayer is just sending out your light rather than communing with God, while holiness is hearing your own voice or even being at home. One could go on and on about with the quotes and self-reflective claims, but does any of this matter beyond to say O’Donohue was a trendy writer somewhat apostate from his role of priest? I will suggest a certain pattern emerges with deep roots in the history and complexes of Celtic faith we need to understand.

ST PAUL AND THE CELTS

O’Donohue represents two things. First, and perhaps as long ago anticipated by St Paul, he belongs among those who especially in the last times (we’re necessarily in them if the St Malachy prophecy is to be believed!) will have “a form of godliness but denying the power of it” (2 Tim 3:5), an interesting idea I will return to in citing a few of the philosopher’s more controversial statements. But second and importantly, O’Donohue is an aspect of and clue to the problem of Celtic psychology and religion over the centuries, one that harks right back to, once again, St Paul who appears to have clashed directly with tendencies of the Celtic mind in the realm of spirituality.

Two millennia ago the Celts were still quite strongly represented across Europe from Ireland to modern day Turkey where Galatia was in effect a province of the Gauls or Celts. The Roman poet Catullus identifies himself as one of the Cisalpine Celts of North Italy; and supportive of the ancient view that the Celtic character was uniformly distinctive, his poetry with its violent satire, its Maud Gonne type syndrome around his ill fated love for Lesbia, the rushing hysterical golliambics of Poem LX111, virtually unique in Latin poetry, betray the relevant character. So we may assume Celtic character and attitudes in Galatia and they seem to have been present.

On the positive side the apostle commends the at least originally enthusiastic spirituality he’d witnessed and in what sounds like its visionary nature (Gal 3:1). And it is to the Galatians that Paul declares the famous oneness in Christ that abolishes distinctions of Jew and Greek (Gentile), slave and free, male and female (Gal 3:28). To be realistic about this, in the extremely class ridden, hierarchal, patriarchal society of the Roman empire, it would be those of Celtic culture who would be more open than most to receiving this kind of radical message.

On the negative side Paul has two linked complaints. The Galatians have quickly become obsessed and enchanted with the Jewish Law in a manner that gets in the way of faith and grace itself (Gal 3:2). He also complains of something almost its opposite, a return or submission to elemental spirits (Gal 4:8) and through an obsessive ritualism and observance of festivals, a kind of paganising as opposed to a Judaizing tendency.

Again this is interesting because earliest Irish religion (and plenty existed before and after St Patrick fed by various influences from abroad as far away as Egypt), shows a distinct interest in Jewish law and/or a way of works. The Celtic monk Pelagius, from whence the Pelagian heresy, regarded Christ as the supreme example to follow, but essentially on a path which obtains salvation without his intervention, a way of works without a redeemer.

There is an affinity of sorts between Irish and Jews – James Joyce explored it and the association of Irish and Jews in America gives some evidence of it. Accordingly one might have imagined the liberating and poetic Hebrew prophetic tradition that supports so much in the gospels might have been of greater interest. I can only assume it was the importance of the brehons and the lawyer class that supported a more legalistic trend. There would thus develop St Paul’s two poles: Judaistic tendencies among the elite and paganish ones (holy wells and cults of the saints) among the hoi polloi! Or perhaps women. The Irish American but very Irish radical feminist Mary Daly whose occult voyage I consider in Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency, virtually curses St Paul in her Pure Lust riposte to Galatians and her quest for “The Elemental Powers of Be-ing”. What it seems everyone needs is those elementals.

But we also find something of this in the more rationalist and male O’Donohue who while he airily and academically speaks of “the notion of God”, “the concept of a God”, “the concept of resurrection” not only believes that all our inspirations come from “angels”, but is strangely tolerant of, even favourable to, stories of ghosts and house spirits in western Ireland and not upsetting them.

Perhaps they never got upset enough and are even returning with a vengeance to trouble the likes of Fr Collins. It’s not as though Irish myth and faery lore however dreamily beautiful was ever particularly benign and conducive to living “happily ever after” – even leprechauns can turn nasty. Neo-Pagan author Lora O’Brien admits that while her visualizations for god contacts are almost always safe, if you run into problems there’s always “therapy” can help. Or Fr Collins if he can collect enough experts?

A LEGALISM AND ELEMENTALS CURSE?

St Paul warns there is a curse upon both legalism and what he regards as the paganish “bewitchment” of his Celtic believers, basically because they subject the person to what he calls “the flesh”. As indicated in my last blog, “flesh” is not necessarily, certainly not always, what people imagine. It can mean soul as opposed to organizing spirit whether personal or divine, which last is supposed to be the foundation of true liberation. (O’Donohue is absolutely obsessed with soul but seems in a total muddle when it comes to human spirit and/or Holy Spirit).

I think in effect the apostle is suggesting that to work well or at all, there is a certain technique in accepting even the gospel…..We had better not ask the question whether he meant more and that people who mismanage the gospel destroy themselves and others, since with so many shadows and misfortunes across Irish history one could almost wonder if something like a curse was involved!

Be that as it may, the curse of Celtic legalism soon emerged in the early Irish penitentials. If they prove anything at all, it is that the Irish religious spirit (so busy as in St Patrick’s Breastplate in blessing and protecting itself against sundry ills) was never especially open to ideas and beliefs of the “Amazing Grace” variety such as Paul advocates in Galatians and writes to defend. Instead, believers were required to punish themselves and earn their way to divine forgiveness, favour and salvation. Some of the penances could last years or half a lifetime and highjack all normal existence. (One wonders how much they were actually practiced, but the attitude they express was intimidating and repressive).

It is commonly said Irish Puritanism or “Jansenism” entered with some French priests over two centuries ago. The fact is it was present long before with brutally unforgiving, salvation-earning Irish missionaries to Europe like the efficient but ill tempered St Columbanus who couldn’t bring himself to bless and baptize a child born out of wedlock even if it was royal. Much that has been most typical of western Catholicism in terms of so called priestly power (priestcraft) and penance is a consequence of Irish/ Celtic missions which, regrettably, as much imprisoned Europe as saved its civilisation. (Admittedly Italy’s Pope Gregory the Great has his share in what developed).

Above all the penitentials and their attitude were repressive of the image of deity itself. There were two ways of getting round this: either asking saints and angels to approach the unapproachable God on your behalf…..or subtly dissolving the image of God altogether.

The Irish were expert in and preserved Greek sources and so under the influence of neo-Platonism, perhaps especially Pseudo-Dionysius, the ninth century Irish philosopher John Scotus Erigena developed a whole “negative” philosophy which renders God ultimately unnameable and indescribable unless in precisely negatives. (God is not good because beyond good, not love because above and beyond love and so on). This sort of thing allows you, if you wish, to join Mary Daly in going “Beyond God the Father” if via less magical, occult means then Daly who finishes up with wicca. Erigena’s effort towards salvation got swallowed up in a doctrine of universalism.

A more literalist version of faith overtook Ireland and/or its intellectual class when in the twelfth century the reformist St Malachy of Armagh helped (along with English interventions ) to bring the island under the western Catholic rule to which it had never fully previously adhered. The Catholic change imposed images of a more definable, “masculine” form of deity while with Malachy as friend of the pioneeringly Marian St Bernard – Mary had fed him breast milk – over against God, Mary came increasingly to symbolize the principle of grace and mercy through Christ in a way the St Paul of Galatians would not have recognized.

Interesting, another medieval philosopher the Irish or Scotch, Duns Scotus, spilled much ink in the thirteenth century promoting the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which at the time was not believed or even thought heretical. However, Ireland’s absorption to western Catholicism gradually turned the country, for psychological as much as theological reasons, into a species of one large Legion of Mary that until the twenty first century it would considerably remain. Dia is Muire duit (“God and Mary to you” ) was a common Irish greeting. All this had and has consequences.

MARY AND THE GREAT MOTHER

Attitudes and beliefs as regards Mary have effect, spiritual and/or psychological in a variety of ways, which those like Fr Collins keen to augment Ireland’s exorcism services might need to absorb given that Catholic exorcism falls under Marian patronage. In Italy where exorcism has made a major comeback, rather noticeably as I point out in Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency,   goo.gl/se5qBn  the rite tends to be more like an ongoing therapy session (sometimes across years!) It rarely supplies the outright deliverance the early church was famous for and which find more duplication in some Protestant circles where there is no invocation of Mary, saints or angels but Christ only. (In early Christianity any believer was supposed to be able if necessary to exorcize. There was certainly no need to obtain prior permission from bishops).  There is unavoidably something aggressive in exorcism and even in some elements of Christian proclamation like the original opposition to paganism – as though St Patrick never challenged the druids, O’Donohue imagines Ireland knew no conflict between Christianity and Paganism! Anyway, I andt follows that when Christ is not centre of both grace and power, a measure of aggression falls to the image and role of Mary. The devouring Great Mother may emerge and even while superficially she may be presented as sweet to the point of plaster saint saccharine. There are even quaint Irish appeals to Mary to go box an enemy’s ears, though this oddity is nothing to the so-called wars of Christianity which are effectively wars of Mary. (Shock-jock queer theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid correctly enough defined the conquest of Latin America as something performed for Mary or at her visionary behest) [1]

The Great Mother, or Mary psychologically substituting for her, is a problematic figure for the Celts. The Celtic male risks being drowned or castrated by her and basically because, like O’Donohue, he is so full of “soul” and imagination she attracts and repels as the possibility of an organizing factor upon an artistic receptivity that borders on passivity. Catullus learned her power first by falling for the insatiable Lesbia, a woman apparently older than himself, then fearfully trying to banish her power and influence in his anti Great Mother as Cybele (Poem, LX111). It is a significant piece not notably duplicated elsewhere among the Celts.

CUCHULAINN AND THE PUER ARCHETYPE

  

Although like most ancient peoples Europe’s Celts were  theoretically patriarchal, they were less so than many others and not least in Ireland’s west. It’s from the West’s Connaught region that myth’s clearly matriarchal, Queen Maeve originates and from a place associated with entrance to the Celtic Otherworld. It is Maeve who precipitates the war recounted in the epic The Tain, a war in which Connaught is defeated   by Ulster but chiefly the Ulsterman, Cuchulainn.

The latter is a strange, one of a kind figure, violent, multi-talented, magical youth who can transform in ways recalling hindu gods (possibly reflecting Ireland marks the furthest west, and north India the furthest east, of an Indo-Aryan expansion whose extremities retained the most traditional elements of myth and law). To the extent Cuchulainn reflects human over otherworldly traits, he might today be compared to the explosive but intellectual Milo Yiannopoulos who is actually Milo Hanrahan born in Athens but with some Irish and Jewish blood and arguably more Irish impulse than anything. Regardless, to us today Cuchulainn in his violence will seem as unattractive as Maeve is in her selfish cruelty. That’s if we read the myth very literally and/or as some oblique guide to early Irish life.

If we think more in terms of ruling archetypes and symbols, we may find it unsatisfactory that Cuchulainn’s death is anticipated by the goddess Morrigan alighting on the warrior’s shoulder as in the famous sculpture in Dublin’s Post Office. She is after all, related to, or even part of,the triple goddess of Ireland. She or they (the myth is fluid ) hold its “sovereignty” as beings who meet and give the island to the founder druid Amergin. The latter chants his magical, pantheistic identity with the land in what O’Donohue, who I think misses the point, calls a poetry of presence. But then, though not neo-pagan per se, our philosopher reminds us Ireland was seen as the body of a goddess (AC p.116)…… in which case the goddess will represent nothing so much as what’s fixed and static which could be bad news if the principle involved is unhealthy. Almost everyone would agree that despite its many positives, some traditional Irish culture could be a bit too stuck in a bog traditional altogether.

Morrigan is a dark, death and war (but also land and fertility) associated figure whom at least early Irish monks identified with Lilith, Hebrew myth’s wife of Adam who became an ally of the Satan and queen of the demons. (Lilith retains potent mauvaise reputation to this day. Any continental astrologer will tell you that the Lilith point in the heavens that they  use, is regularly associated with misfortune and upset of all kinds).

WHO OWNS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF IRELAND?

     

What I see in  musing on Irish mythic/cultural themes, is that Cuchulainn and ancient patriarchal Ulster only nominally win the battle. The sovereignty remains with the goddess or goddesses. She is able besides to oversee the death of what or who, archetypally, is less a typical mythic hero or warrior figure than a less predictable, more independent puer type figure, whose sparking, explosive nature symbolizes something within Irish character more generally. There will be problems where this originality-serving aspect of psyche is only suppressed or ignored as I think it has been again and again.

I find some significance, and even an unintended addition to the current spiritual confusion, that Irish paganist Lory O’Brien ( A Practical Guide to Irish Spirituality)  seeks not only to reclaim Maeve who reigned from Cruachan in Roscommon, but the goddess Morrigan from the same region. O’Brien even regards herself as specially devoted to and a priestess of Morrigan whose dwelling was near Maeve’s at Rathcroghan in Roscommon, site of a, or the,  entrance to the Celtic Otherworld and called during medieval times “The Gate of Hell”  (see pic above) which plainly makes the Otherworld to be more an Underworld or Hades. Though O’Brien, who was long a tour guide at Rathcroghan, doesn’t come across like certain female occultists and/or radical feminists a la Daly (she has even described her gender as “plural”), it is still an essentially matriarchal side of the Celtic world she is reclaiming. And this belongs with a larger cultural complex and misreading of the past that any concerned psychologist or exorcist might wish to see banished as surely as (mythically) St Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland and Catullus refused Cybele.

I detect that it concerned even the radical Mary Daly that paganism’s triple goddess risked being insufficiently dynamic as a form of trinity. As maiden, mother and crone there is something passive, nature-subordinate and fate ridden about her – rather, one might say, like Ireland itself that too often seems to accept and/or invoke disaster!

Nature presents us with an oscillating Ying/Yang theoretically equal. However, no amount of feminist reform and egalitarian urges will ever quite abolish the fact that, though not an invariable rule, initiatory action is predominantly Yang while Ying is more action as reaction, a correction and modification of given situations. Problems, resentments and repressions arise where this datum is insufficiently recognized and spirituality encounters difficulty too.

Like it or not, I think it has to be accepted that there is an impulse to religion (and one may find it even in so passive a religion as Buddhism), that is in a broadest sense “phallic”/aspirational/initiatory and that the often negatively applied term “patriarchal” is insufficient to cover. This Yang force is certainly present in Judaism. (I try to suggest this and how in my poem Jeremiah’s Loincloth ) [2] The Yang input does not automatically cancel out the Yin – another prophet Isaiah has God speak as a Mother – but it refuses the Yin a certain primacy for reasons which become clearer as the tradition reveals itself. In short I suggest a lot of spirituality, not least in Judaeo-Christianity is simply not properly lived or understood where Yin leads the way.

ABSENT THE OLD TESTAMENT

One reason Catholicism, but especially its Celtic and Marian expression, can finish at once so saccharine but also violent (one can’t forget some of those remarkably bullying nuns exposed by modern inquiries!) is because it owns and appreciates the Old Testament legacy so little, especially its prophetic traditions, that aspect of the OT I mentioned the Celts seemed to have overlooked in favour of law and tradition from the time of St Paul’s Galatians onwards.

Superficially and sometimes actually, the OT is a violent work, but when that’s so it may need to be worked with and contextually understood. There’s often more than meets the eye and at least some of us would maintain the OT narrative anyway presents the face of God and divine “anger” through the lens of its era, the fiery one of Aries – Yahweh even manifests in a burning bush and a mountain volcano. The age was a militaristic, distinctly patriarchal one but many things begin with fire which is (spiritually and psychologically) the strongest element as O’Brien concedes but O’Donohue in his essays on the four elements doesn’t quite get. It is surely relevant that St Patrick’s conflict with the druids which opens a whole new chapter in the life of the nation, breaks the druid’s power spell over the island over the question of lighting of an Easter fire. Patrick wins and  Ulster subsequently grows to become the centre of an organized, rather political form of Christianity, but arguably Patrick has, like Ulster in the Tain, only partially or politically won. The actual dark sovereignty of Ireland has not been confronted and I would even suggest it never has been.

The New Testament, whose record emerges with the (watery) age of Pisces. is inadequately appreciated without like the first Christians dialoguing with the whole Hebrew legacy, especially prophetic which it varies upon and fulfils. Catholicism only tenuously belongs with the “Judaeo-Christian” tradition due to a one-sidedness, sometimes bordering anti-Semitism where the Hebrew legacy is concerned…… Writer and academic Denis MacEoin is one of those who has been drawing attention to certain recent anti-Semitic strains developing in Irish academic circles  [3] though this also chimes with any Catholicism that follows Pope Francis. This pontiff’s credo is so alien to any prophetic sense of Israel’s destiny and those of our times it even agrees over Jerusalem with Erdogan of Turkey while the latter goes about demolishing the last vestiges of democracy in his country! Churches interested in blessing and being blessed – persons like O’Donohue is obsessed with the subject and devotes a whole book to blessings – might need to be more aware of the rule (Gen 12:3)  that Israel is to be blessed and not cursed.

I find interesting, and it’s almost like some Jungian shadow principle at work, that “unbiblical” Erin should be so long challenged and in conflict with a dour, aggressive Presbyterianism almost a parody of all things Protestant and itself ancestor to some of the odder corners of American religion. Both parties to this struggle have perhaps always needed on the psychological plane some species of suitably symbolic, dreamlike working out of their problems along the lines of Spenser’s flawed, but still important and Irish influenced visioning in The Fairie Queen. (Elizabeth 1 was no good fairy for Erin and Spenser’s recommendation to ban Irish language was execrable, but he offers a masterpiece with insights all the same). 

ABSENT SOMETHING ELSE…FIRE AND PHALLOS?

Even without the complication of Ulster in recent centuries, as already intimated, I should say that what Ireland needs (though it might take many essays to convey the full meaning) is more fire and phallos.  By the latter I mean something more  psychological and spiritual rather than purely sexual. Elements of the current spiritual confusion, the outcome of longstanding untreated conditions, are linked to over-emphasis on, or misreading of, what O’Donohue offers as virtual panacea for Ireland and the world, namely realization and acceptance of a sweetness and light cure-all “soul” life that is still refusing fundamental life energies.

O’Donohue enlarges, lives and breathes within “soul”, spreading it over everything like a druid mist, identifying it with beauty, peace and virtually with God – about the closest he gets to describing God is as an artist, in short an image of O’Donoghue himself! He’s caught in Amergin’s bind. That druid as it were claims all the territory of Ireland mentally by his sense of pantheistic soul presence, but the fate and sovereignty of the land still reside elsewhere; he doesn’t own what he sympathetically imagines which is forever under threat. He and Ireland are left open to whatever death and destruction the gods without the slightest explanation care to send or allow.

If one puts aside for one moment the possible religious meaning of statements like “the soul (Heb Nephesh /animal soul) that sins will surely die (Ez 18:20), one may absorb the more purely psychological implications. It will mean soul as the state of pure being O’Dononue tends to make it, is not autonomous and supreme but rather manageable, even dispensable because life can emanate from elsewhere. Outside, above and beyond it is active organizing spirit. Whether or not specifically religion will mediate organization, fire and in the broadest sense “phallic” consciousness can promote action and place some direction upon existence.

SOUL AND FACE

The more whacky side of O’Donoghue’s message whether humanly or more theologically, is well represented by his claim the face always reveals the soul’; it is where “the divinity of the inner life finds an echo and an image” (A.C. p.53). Always? If at all? The claim will be news to many, while theologically it ignores Yahweh’s rebuke to the prophet Samuel: “Do not look at his appearance…..for the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).

Yet O’Donohue’s weird assertion is key to a whole dimension of his work. It betrays how his faith amounts to a divinization of soul in the anthropology of the self approximating to biblical Hebrew nephesh or animal soul. It is this which as opposed to spirit (i.e. ruach – that O’Donoghue seems to think is a regular OT name of God) is what we share with the animals and which links us to nature and which is creative and sexual. You can tell that esoteric and biblical anthropology’s soul factor is the real focus because O’Donohue even proposes that relaxing into the body is a new prayer (A.C. p.74), that we should re-imagine God as Eros (A.C. p. 56) and that the senses are our guide to the soul (A.C. p.82).

Of course O’Donohue doesn’t realize the identification he is making. If he did he wouldn’t say other biblically illiterate things like animals knowing nothing of Jesus. (A.C.p.79). It happens that the early church and many theologians since have understood appearances of the OT’s mysterious “Angel of the Lord” to be appearances of the pre-existent Christ. In Numbers 22 this figure intervenes against the false prophet Balaam who abuses his ass. The ass, because animals have nephesh, is able to recognize the Angel though Balaam in his spiritual blindness can’t .

There is a Spirit of God and a Soul of God which last we may assume Jesus is., This status renders him among other things a sort of Lord of the Animals. But just as Christ as Soul and in some respects divine Yin – he is called the feminine Sophia/ Wisdom for a reason – will do nothing major until the Spirit falls upon him, so neither can or will human soul that O’Donohue and some mystics divinize at the expense of all else.

The soul without organizing human and/or divine Spirit will accordingly possess, as O’Donohue assumes, no fixed form which means there is no plan to our lives either (AC.p.82). The latter assumption can be questioned on various grounds and not just biblically though it is a decidedly unbiblical idea opposed to statements like “in your book were written all the days that were formed for me (Ps 139:16). Since however our existence still seems at once improbable yet potentially meaningful, O’Donohue is left to assure readers (in what is itself an implicit rejection of any Pauline notions of divine elect predestination), to be born is to be “chosen” ( AC p. 112) whatever that means.

In the end one is left with a soul of sublime or at least artistic potential that dwells in Beauty, whether visible or more invisible as per Pseudo-Dionysius, and this Beauty is then the nearest expression and definition of God. Yet paradoxically (but from hidden psychological necessity which abhors a vacuum and requires there will be an organizing factor) this beauty that we glimpse comes to us not from the spirit and realms above but if anything from below. Celtic myth according to O’Donohue understands that the underworld (where dwell the Irish gods who he believes describe the Celtic psyche) is the world of spirit (AC p. 124).

Since O’Donohue (in DB p.211) even cites the atheist poet Wallace Stevens to the effect death is the Mother of Beauty and associates the world of the spirit with what’s “below” rather than “above”, I feel one is indeed justified to identify O’Donohue’s soul and divinity image with the animal soul (nephesh) that the bible says must die and which belongs in effect and by default to Hades short of divine intervention, election or whatever. It may not be irrelevant that all of Lory O’Brien’s  visualizations in Irish Spirituality, take the practitioner through the blackness, surely an indication that the organization source of power is an underground, a realm of shadows, a species of Hades, which might mean she is seeing more clearly or honestly than O’Donohue for whom theoretically everything would make for light..

I don’t seek to decry the value and insights of Irish “soul” It’s a precious place and all can share in its inspirations and beauties to a degree, (though I agree with Lora O’Brien it’s something ultimately ethnic which you either have or don’t), but I dissent from what O’Donohue has made of it as philosophy of beauty. What this finishes up as is something surruptiously akin to the devotion to elementals among St Paul’s Galatians and still more to end of era “religion denying the power of it” as far as deity is concerned.

O’Donohue’s philosophical meditations are a version of the new age, interfaith vanishing trick in relation to the distinctive claims of many systems, especially Christianity’s today. These systems stand against just making up doctrines as you go along rather as one might compose a painting, at the same time as you call the exercise harmonious and identical with all other paintings (beliefs). It isn’t, but you can make it seem so by focussing on one aspect of being, namely the feeling, life or the imaginative soul as the whole item in an anthropology of the self and map of the psyche.

Despite all I’ve said, I agree with one of O’Donohue’s readers that reading him was like a trip to Ireland itself. He is representative in many respects but not enough and he ignores too many difficulties.

Ireland is a small country with a relatively newly established national independence. Given its comparatively small population now challenged by  high immigration and multicultural values favoured under secularist but Islam shadowed EU globalism, it is questionable whether it can hope to retain much that’s most distinctive about it. But whatever happens, it may still need some input from the likes of the concerned Fr Collins.

St Patrick did light Easter fire at Slane, and centring the spiritual battles of and for Ireland over specifically fire was correct in many ways –  so correct it was even possibly one of the reasons his version of Christianity gained traction over the other versions present in the background which might have suited the culture and people better. But even the saint’s win was not permanent because no victory until apocalypse and the end of time ever is, and in the case of Ireland there is something that St Patrick and Irish Christianity missed. Archetypally it is the great and oppressive ill luck and darkness represented by the so called “sovereignty” of Ireland and the black crow of Morrigan. The darkness is pervasive – even Dublin means Black Pool in Gaelic and modern Irish freedom was achieved there at the Post Office in which a statue commemorates the victory with an image of Cuchulainn but with the black crow on his shoulder. Never ignore the  guide of symbols to spirit and soul. I sense Fr Collins has more than even the out-of-touch attitudes of his Irish hierarchy to think about and more than a few distressed people to exorcise.

         For more on Ireland see “Real Irish” and Irish Reality (Symbols, Archetypes, Fate ) https://wp.me/p2v96G-17D

                                                          On Irish literature, Why Ireland Needs Yeats 2015 and more   https://wp.me/p2v96G-xA

NOTES

[1] On the Virgin and violence in Indecent Theology, pp. 56-61

[2]  Jeremiah’s Loincloth: A Poem of Faith and Phallos.  Explores the prophet’s strange male business or homoerotic given sign  https://wp.me/p2v96G-Hm

[3]  Denis McEoin, Uncorked: Ireland’s Pseudo-Academic AntiIsrael Hate Fest     https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9701/ireland-conference-israel

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2018 in ethics, Mysteries, religion

 

ANOTHER SIDE TO THE CREATION/EVOLUTION DEBATE

 

 WHEN THE ARGUMENT GETS EMBARRASSING

For more than one reason, the much viewed Evolution vs God Movie is worth watching on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0u3-2CGOMQ It’s truly an experience and it does raise questions but by no means always the questions its originator, the NZ born, American resident Ray Comfort might wish and intend.

On the positive side, if we can assume the interviews with the atheistic evolutionists are not rigged but authentic and they probably are, or mostly are, then they seriously – but also sometimes to the point of the hilarious – demonstrate the careless and shallow attitudes of the scientifically minded. Some clearly take the explanations of science to be true fact beyond discussion. They don’t recognize or admit the problems of their position. It’s a rare evolutionary scientist today who like Gerd Miller (not on film) freely admits there are problems with evolution because it can’t explain “complexity”. Scientists are not necessarily thinkers; but whereas thinkers are normally willing to listen to scientists, vice-versa doesn’t automatically apply, though it should.

Blinkered scientific dogmatism (scientism) is a subject in itself and I have said a few things about it in an unusual way in my Raphael and Lucifer mini epic and attached essay http://goo.gl/C32i3H\ …..Before the reader dismisses this as “just” poetry and probably not pertinent, I could mention that one of the few publishers who considers religious/metaphysical poetry today, refused it not because it was poor material – they admitted it was poetry to the highest standard – but because promotion in my case was a near impossibility for someone not already known as a performance poet and living where I did outside Europe. In the matter of poetry I seem to be something of perpetual poete maudit loser….but back to Comfort’s video and how he and it, make themselves losers despite having scored a few points in the first half.

NEEDLING FOR AND EXAGGERATING SIN

Having shown up scientific ignorance, Comfort wants to drive the point evangelically home that all these unbelievers are not  just deluded but going to hell and he does this as some American evangelicals are wont to do in the worst, intrusive and plain embarrassing of ways. (Culturally I believe the  remote origins of the style can be traced back to pugnacious Scottish and Ulster Calvinist emigrants to early America).
At the very least Comfort might have considered his interviewees had given him their time and honest opinions. Instead he seeks to exploit this for their greater good and by proving they have broken all the Ten Commandments in some way  hence need salvation right now to escape hell. They need only have told one lie and they are bound for the eternal flames. They need only have had a lustful thought and they are adulterers awaiting God’s judgement and so on.
We may well cringe or recoil in disbelief at this kind of narrow treatment including because, although the Bible and Jesus undoubtedly do preach hell, ironically what Comfort and those like him are maintaining is exaggerated, unbiblical nonsense…..

TAKING BIBLICAL LIBERTIES

For example, not only do the Ten Commandments forbid “false witness” (disrupting the course of justice by falsehood in effect) rather than simply lies, but the Bible at least implies what most people believe, namely that at least sometimes lies may be appropriate. For example, in Ex 1:19 the midwives deceive Pharaoh but are commended for it. The world of Comfort appears to be the Kantian one of the Categorical Imperative which knows no exceptions. If no one must ever lie, under a repressive regime they could finish up sending people to torture and death in the service of truth!
Likewise people become damnable adulterers if they allow themsleves erotic thoughts. This charge is based on ‘words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount which interiorize the Law. “Whoever looks upon a woman to lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart ” (Matt 5:28) . Probably few verses in the bible have been less well commented, understood  and privately alienated more people from Jesus than this. Forgotten amid its shock value is that one can only commit adultery with a married woman and the meaning (which in the original is almost more to look to do something than to look upon someone) is that if you have imagined and intend to have the person then there’s really no difference from your doing it which sooner or later you may well.
If the true meaning is radically otherwise and to the effect that every man should be blind to thought and feelings for women until they undress them on the marriage night anything else being hell bound fornication, then we might have to dismiss Jesus as the father of repression, the enemy of all classic art, friend to those cultures which seek to cover and banish women from sight, and a cause of homosexuality (especially if you controversially believe, evangelical style, that the orientation is not inborn but acquired by attitudes!). Jesus’ subject is the declared one, adultery’, itself an aspect of the theft and coveting, themselves subjects of other linked commandments. (Jesus is of course dealing in the ideal and we need not explore the possibility that in cases of severe repression and frustration a few lustful thoughts could be plain righteous in comparison with the likes of having women by calculated rape!)
Along the same literalist lines, bad tempered people become murderers. If you want to assert this you can justify it also from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:22) where apparently calling your brother raca and fool risks the hell fire. As observed in my video Jesus and Sexuality, ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OG0odoWqINQ )  this makes almost no sense as people call others fool all the time and it means little. However, it means rather more if we understand raca was a serious Aramaic abuse term suggesting perversion and gross effeminacy. So, that whatever precise form homophobia took in Jesus’ time when homosexuality was not a word, it was cognate with and symbolic for a whole range of racist style hatred for minorities of a kind known to foster violence and sometimes occasion death.

PREACHING HELL TODAY

Damnation is a big subject with a long history not easily summarized. But if you intend like Comfort to preach it today, what might you fairly, logically and honestly claim that’s in some harmony with scripture without making yourself an idiot, fundamentalist style? Or even Jouhandou style? Atheist Existentialist philosopher, Sartre, once mocked Catholic writer Jouhandou and a Christian view of God over his admitted fears that some adolescent masturbation related to homosexual curiosity would send him to eternal flames. What sort of God…..?!
The greater problem is not so much individual sins about which it is often enough wise not to judge (“Judge not that you be not judged”)   as sin – in – itself.  Many early Christians would have also said the curse that Christ came to undo and ransom from. (1 Joh 3:8). It was understood, and there’s enough scriptural basis for it, that all humanity is born into a world and race that until the apocalypse ”belongs” under Satanic rule and which vis a vis God can be considered guilty by association.
If one can limit the obsession with individual deeds, the fact remains, and ”existentially” enough too, that we are all in effect under a death sentence, dying towards our end daily. Whether sinners in a big or small way, rather plainly people are alienated from others, from themselves, from nature and from God, “fallen”and to all intents and purposes victims of “original sin”, no matter precisely how you describe that condition or think about Adam and Eve. Scripture indicates what seems probable and obvious, namely that flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 15:50) and nor will sin – after all if God is perfection, Perfection can’t let heaven be wrecked while imperfect people sort themselves out within realms of the spirit they are not in harmony with or while they maybe refuse to be perfected in necessary ways. And the Asian religions which affirm reincarnation as a means to self rather than saviour overseen perfection, require so long for its achievement the time involved almost equals eternity itself!
It may be conceded that eternal “wrath” (it most essentially indicates separation from God) for the evil of  temporal deeds is hard to take on board. Annihilation would seem more just; but on reflection and logically, there are  problems with this seemingly more “generous” position towards which the present Pope has been said to be inclining. If God can annihilate us (our spirits or root of being in effect), God is not Lord of Life, but rather is partnered with death and this cannot be. God can only quarantine, hold in detention, limit and imprison evil – fallen angels are said to be precisely the spirits “in prison”(1 Pet 3:19) – not fully destroy  because everything exists through God.
Because everything exists through God who is above all light and (spiritual) fire, those who reject God will exist not just in “outer” darkness, i.e. at the furthest point from light, but exist through the core element, fire, without the other elements that make existence pleasant and bearable.

HADES AS DEFAULT DESTINY

Moreover, in the times the gospel was first proclaimed, it was almost universal western belief that with a few exceptions – favoured warriors or the most remarkable darlings of the gods – everyone went at death to the prison darkness of Hades, a version of hell, where they lived as suffering, bodiless spirits. Everyone from Homer and Sappho in Greece to Virgil and Catullus in Rome believed it, though Catullus decides it’s an endless sleep. Hades as the near universal destination  is more or less what the Bible teaches. Everyone has a soul that inhabits the body and leaves it at death (a point that can’t be fully proved or disproved either way though some evidence is emerging), but obviously this soul needs to be joined  with a body to exist meaningfully. The promise of (bodily) resurrection was a novel boon set against a general pessimism which only the democratized, popularized Christianity of recent centuries has gradually modified. The latter now allows most people to RIP although the Bible gives little or no ground for the idea but if anything appears to forecast a body of damnation in hell to parallel that of resurrection in heaven. Why this situation and its distinct pessimism?….

THE LOVE DILEMMA

….Among other things and paradoxically because God is Love. Love depends upon trust and faith and it is said that without faith it’s impossible to please God ( Heb 11:16 ) – which is perhaps another way of saying without love/trust you cannot please or even exist with God. The fallen angels having known God and thus wilfully sinning cannot be redeemed. Humans who haven’t known and seen God and who exist within time rather than eternity, have the opportunity within time to demonstrate a will to love, trust and volunteer (via repentance and the belief which engages will and intellect beyond the heart) to be perfected. Once outside time and into eternity, the same opportunity is not open. Some of the gospel’s urgency, it’s sense of a need to work before night comes, is involved with the limitations and risks of the human situation which is not all “happily ever after”.
It is in this context it always makes sense to preach, as Jesus according to Matthew and Mark begins by doing, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven –  heaven being Matthew’s circumlocution for God – is at hand ” ( Matt 4:17)  “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk: 1:15).
The literal earthly kingdom was not at hand, any political fulfilment was for another era and a second advent, but the kingdom was and is automatically at hand if and whenever God (represented by Jesus) is specially present. There is an obligation to “repent” (change mind and intention) if you want to escape your likely fate.
I say “likely” because while general principles must be established in order to proclaim anything at all, where God is concerned exceptions may always intervene. Practically speaking, the fate of the unbelieving and unrepentant is “Hades/Hell”, but even the sins and sinner-listing St Paul allows that among those who don’t know the gospel, conscience is their judge and it may or may not excuse them on Judgement Day (Rom 2:15).
Though inevitably some cranks and fanatics have taught it, obviously too God was never going to send unbaptised infants to hell (limbo got invented to get round that embarrassment of extreme teachings), nor various kinds of ignorant and abused people scarcely accountable for themselves. Even so it is not inappropriate to have the image of Hades in mind as representing, as it did for the ancients, the default fate for many, the place too easily fallen into by the careless. Jesus refers to lost souls and hell’s torments too many times for the idea to be just ignored and rationalized away.
The fine details of judgement and afterlife need cannot be worked out by us. But the general principle should be honestly admitted and recalled. Today too many die without a thought given to faith or ultimate destination; they are like the rich fool of the parable whose soul is required of him but who has made no preparation (Luk 12:16-21). Christian atheist, Iris Murdoch, decided she did not wish to think of her own or anyone’s death in “Wagnerian” terms. But can one never quite do so? If it’s not oblivion, death is entry to “eternity”, a rather important occasion worth a few cautions and trumpets!

A POST-CHRISTIAN PENDULUM SWING

No matter how little one favours hell fire sermons of which the classic extreme is supplied in James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, it is striking just how much a swing of the pendulum since his time means fundamental declarations about the gospel, about this life and the next are simply not being made today. By way of fodder and appeasement to media and the masses, popes and archbishops will address crowds to appeal for world peace, for harmonious social and religious relations, respect for each others’ traditions and names of God, for the value of recalling “the good news of Jesus”.
This “news”, far from being as in its original form about repentance and reconcilement with God leading to resurrection but  if need be leaving mere family and cultural traditions behind  – leaving “the dead to bury their dead” as Jesus would have it – is instead to the effect we can be loved and included. Love and included, that is, by a church community which if possible would still like to influence society through its laws and according to philosophical formulae from Aristotle and Aquinas like natural law, all an easier option than to actually preach and persuade!
To become a faithful Christian today too often means enlisting to fight not for “lost” souls and for salvation enlightenment like the saints and apostles (that’s much too religious!) but campaigning for a variety of causes, for refugees or  “issues” like “right to life”. The latter (though overall abortion cannot usually be approved) cannot either be biblically defined as murder and  a form of  evil on any exceptionless basis. That the foetus is not infinitely precious and could ve regarded as impure is implied by the way God is quite prepared to kill in the womb ( Hos. 9:16) and such would anyway occur under the law of Jealousy outlined in Numbers 5, and indeed under quite a few capital offences if the relevant laws are taken literally (as opposed to examples that they sometimes are if one takes a more Utopian reading).

FORMULA FAITH

That such contradictions and problems are ignored certifies that, paradoxically enough, Christianity today remains as traditional as possible without being especially biblical. The Catholics for whom the OT is often a closed book, reduce a great deal of the faith to traditions and philosophical formulae that a catechism will represent, while the most biblical Protestants (the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists) read selectively and make no kind of philosophical generalizations in the way  at least sometimes to be practical one must  sometimes do, even if not under the auspices of the pagan Aristotle.
Instead, rather like Ray Comfort, conservative Christians try to corner and close every argument by stressing “the Word of God” says – it might be better to say “scripture says”- and all as though every word were dictated from God. Which it should be obvious can’t be the case. Indeed, if especially the words of Moses were perfect to the last detail under divine inspiration  it would not be possible or licit for the daughters of Zelophehad (Num 27) to have questioned the inheritance laws and had them changed. Fundamentalists never see the wood for the trees, can never hold two often complementary views together. Today they cheerfully declare against “global warming” and “climate change” as some kind of devilish doctrine, untrue because of record cold winters as though the greater heat and greater cold could never be two sides of the same phenomenon. It’s behind the reasoning that fuels the idea that because there were Adam and Eve there could never be any Adam and Steve, God being unable to permit any variation upon any theme, (a situation which could even cancel out the possibility of real music)..
People highly literal with “God’s Word” fail to acknowledge, or just realize, how suggestive and flexible a language Hebrew is, well on the way to the cloudiness of Chinese with its pictograms. Accordingly there  isn’t and shouldn’t ever have been any final dogmatic issues around seven days of creation “Day”and  “hour” have all sorts of different meanings in Hebrew……

THE GENESIS FILM

This brings me back to my starting point in the Creation/Evolution debate from which I have rather strayed. In conclusion I would point out that – possibly and hopefully – a new page is turned with release of the film Genesis:Paradise Lost. The video of this apparently stylish film premiered   last November, is available from February. https://genesismovie.com/ The arguments (including it seems from well qualified scientists) and the evidence for what gets claimed, have been found unexpectedly meaningful and the presentation is generally professional. I have ordered a copy and may get round to a review later.
I just hope after the near comic horror of treatments like Comfort’s, that any facts will be allowed to speak for themselves rather than be exploited to argue for a range of questionable but supposedly biblical beliefs beyond them. If nothing else I find myself in agreement with the makers of the Genesis film that failure to recognize any Creator and the blindness to all things spiritual this can entail is a, perhaps the, major issue for religion today, one cannot lightly and easily give down to popular and common scientific views of reality.Truth is often stranger and more surprising than we can imagine and it is right to keep an open mind.

 

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2018 in ethics, Mysteries, religion

 
 
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