Category Archives: Calvinism/Philosophy

What Ayn Rand Gets Very Right and Christians Get Very Wrong (and why Christian Orthodoxy is Not About Love but Loathing)

The greatest contribution to ethics in the twentieth century I submit is Ayn Rand’s popularization of the Virtue of Selfishness.  Because what she gets so very right, up to the point of being utterly axiomatic (if our ethics are indeed rational), is that one who acts wholly in his own self-interest cannot but help be concomitantly acting in the interest of his neighbor.  Without fully delving into the metaphysics behind this axiom, in the interest of time and context, the root of this perfect ethic is that others are the complete existential equal of the Self.  This means that the default root moral status of all others is existential equality to the Self, and thus when one’s Self is pursued and its interests sought, the interest of the Other is a natural consequence, and manifests to a qualitatively equal degree.

Allow me to explain. And here, understand, is where I will deviate from Rand’s specific metaphysics, and exposit my own defense of virtuous selfishness.  The following exposition very much depends upon a completely different metaphyscial primary than the one subscribed to by Rand (existence).  My primary is Ability, and from this I assert that individual consciousness is a proper and necessary component of any rational metaphysics; and, being the ONLY thing which can develop and apply reason (conceptual consistency), which is how reality and truth is established AT ALL, consciousness, itself, at root, is an ENTIRELY objective manifestation of reality.  Conversely, Rand rejects consciousness as having any particularly necessary function within reality taken holistically, and sees it as intrinsically subjective, as its primary function is, as Objectivism implies, to interpret that (existence) which is fundamentally exclusive of interpretation.

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Every individual human being exists metaphysically as a Self qua Self (YOU (or I) as a function of your SELF…the “you-ness” which IS YOU in the most fundamental sense); and the FACT of that existence is itself the PROOF of the propriety of one’s existence.  In other words, the FACT that one exists is the proof of the de facto NECESSITY of one’s existence—reality NEEDS one’s existence to be, in fact, REAL, you might say.  Reality cannot be absolutely real if its components—e.g. one who exists—are not essential.  For example, it is irrational to assert that one who exists could just as easily not have existed (been born); this means, effectively, that their existence is not fundamentally necessary to reality.  The reason this is irrational is simple.  We have NO frame of reference for the non-existence of what exists, because non-existence and existence are mutually exclusive contexts.  Or, simplified, IS and IS NOT are mutually exclusive frames of reference.  If I AM, then my frame of reference is from the place of WHAT IS (what is real, and exists, period, and absolutely).  Which means that I can ONLY observe and describe what likewise IS.  In order for me to talk of you, for example, not needing to exist, you NEED TO EXIST.  Do you see the contradiction?  I cannot claim that your existence is not necessary since it is necessary that you exist in order for me to make the claim in the first place.  Whatever exists, exists; whatever is real is real.  Period.  The hypothetical thought experiment of “what if X did not exist/had never been born” is INIFINITELY hypothetical.  It is entirely irrelevant to anything, except perhaps, a good science fiction story.  Now, it is quite tempting here to dive into the rabbbit hole of choice and free will, but I have to end this article sometime before retirement, so let’s just leave it at that for now.

As I was saying, the fact that one exists is proof of the de facto necessity of their existence.  And here is where it gets interesting…because here is where metaphysics inexorably incorporates what I call the Morality of the Metaphysical.  What I mean is that metaphysics, in order to mean anything, must have, itself, intrinsic value, and thus cannot be entirely cordoned off from eithcs.  It’s fascinating just how the five categories of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, aesthetics) incorporate and even embody one another so precisely.  Because one’s existence is necessary, one’s existence is necessarily GOOD.  Put generally, existence (or reality…the two are essentially equivalent, metaphysically speaking) is Good, because it MUST BE; and since man exists, he likewise MUST BE, and therefore he is, in his root existence, likewise Good.

Thus, all men being equal in their metaphysical value (Good), and understanding that the Individual Self is that from which and to which all men (being at root Individuals) act, and understanding that the Self is the reference for reality, communicating meaning with other Selves (other men) and drawing a consensus of meaning together, then all men who thus act in service to their own Individual interests will necessarily and concomitantly act in service to the interests of their fellow man.  And this is what is meant by the “virtue of Selfishness”.

For example, if I choose to marry and have children with a woman I note to possess virtues I find valuable, based upon a RATIONAL definition of virtue, then in keeping and fulfilling my wedding vows I am serving my own interests as much as I am serving the interests of my wife and children, who have entered into the relationship voluntarily (the only way a true relationship is possible).  And, yes, I know the children didn’t “choose” to be born, but (without going into metaphysical detail here) it is simply irrational to consider anyone, even children, as someone OBLIGATED to a relationship against their will.  It is my job as a parent to make sure that I provide my children with an environment that reflects their right to the sanctity of their own lives, body and property, with abundant displays of affection and genuine pleasure and privilege with respect to their company, so as to accurately represent the context of what a voluntary relationship should look like.  In short, I am obligated to provide my children with an environment that they could CHOOSE to be in, by all rational standards (love, resources, negotiation, the absence of corporeal punishment,  shared responsibility to whatever degree possible, shared input, respect, rejection of any Authority/Submission dynamic, etc.etc.).

Getting married and devoting resources to having children then is not sacrifice, it is selfishness.  It utterly serves me…and in rationally serving myself, I have served my family.  And this is precisely why there is virtue in selfishness.  If I build a business to serve myself, the corollary is provision of value to my employees and customers.  I never have to think about their needs and desires directly or explicitly.  Their needs are fulfilled as a function of fulfilling my own.  All notions of altruism, sacrifice, charity (in the “giving of one’s self” sense) are entirely superfluous.  Real moral utopia then is not found in sacrifice, but selfishness.  And as scandalizing as this may seem, this is, in fact, the ONLY true and rational morality possible for man.  Period.

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In order to employ virtuous selfishness we must eradicate Self-loathing from ethics entirely.  In other words, we must understand and accept the inherent value of man at his metaphysical root.  Because man is metaphysically Good, he must possess an innate and existential sufficiency to the apprehension of Truth (epistemology), and Truth’s corollary, Good, and then make choices in service to these things.  Man is by his nature able to define and apprehend the distinction between truth and falsehood and good and evil and then make volitional choices based upon that knowledge.  Man possesses AGENCY, which is capable and efficacious, as a function of his very metaphysical IDENTITY.  Man in his natural state is Good, and thus in his epistemology (capacity for knowledge) capable of Truth, and thus in his ethics (capacity for morality) capable of choosing Good, and thus in his politics (capacity for efficacious moral action) capable of manifesting (acting out) Truth and Goodness.  Man’s sufficiency to the knowledge of the true and the good is one with his root nature…it is not bestowed upon him post-conception by some external force, be it God or be it Nature.  Certainly, man is not born knowing…he is not born wise.  This is not what I am saying.  I am saying that man IS born ABLE to know, and ABLE to acquire wisdom.  He learns because he IS.  His abilty to think and do is HIS, from himself, by nature.  It is not given to him…it IS him.  And it is here where my apostasy with respect to orthodox Christianity comes to a fine point.  Orthodox Christianity rejects this metaphysic to the point of war, literally.  And it is why Christianity is an unmitigated disaster by any rational measure: social, emotional, intellectual, psychological, political…it is a shared psychosis that eats humanity from the inside out.  It HATES humanity with a red hot passion…it knows absolutely nothing of love at root.  But we will get to that.

For man to act truly morally, he must accept a root nature that has endemic/intrinsic moral value; and thus, from this, knowing it and knowing its ethical implications, when he acts (necessarily) from and to himself in his own best interest, he concordantly and concomitantly acts in service to the Interests of his fellow man.  This is the reason why those who accept their own natural moral worth are the ones who are the most compassionate.  In almost every case, on the contrary, those who loath themselves prove to be the most insufferable and vile of the species, either explicitly or surreptitiously.  Every narcissist and psychopath in the world operates from the metaphysical principle that declares themselves to possess no root worth, and thus neither does anyone else.  Their occasional sense of grandiosity is a mask for their terminal and inviolable self-hatred.  I submit that this is axiomatic.  There is no way you can despise your fellow man and love yourself, where “man” is defined RATIONALLY.  There is only one rational morality, and it begins with innate Self-worth and bestows that same worth upon others.

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Here then we can begin to see the categorical failure of the orthodox Christian Ethic.  It is an ethic that asserts obedience to Authority (the divine Ideal, the Church, and the State…the unholy trinity of Platonist ethics) as man’s highest moral obligation, not the making of moral choices; asserts punishment, not rational self-inflicted consequence, as the proper outcome for ethical failure; asserts fear, not love, as the primary form of human motivation.  Bear in mind that this is NOT what Christ ACTUALLY teaches, nor what the Bible declares in either of its Testaments (though I will submit that the Apostle Paul’s grip on rational ethics often gets quite tenuous).  But orthodox Christianity has about as much use for Christ as Tiberius.  Christian ethics of the last 1500 years or so is a derivative of pagan gnosticism, with its interpretive lense brought to bear upon Christ’s legacy first by Augustine of Hippo and formally canonized and organized by the Martin Luther and John Calvin.  My point is simply:  don’t blame Christ for the abject failure of Christian ethics.

Orthodox Christianity espouses the metaphysical insufficiency of man.  He is not in his nature Good, but Evil, and therefore utterly incapable of apprehending Truth and choosing Good.  His very IDENTITY is antagonistic to TRUTH.  This is why Christianity asserts that all knowledge and morality must be DICTATED to man.  His natural insufficiency to Truth makes him capable of no real understanding.  He must thus be treated, fundamentally, as one would an animal.  He is to be trained, not taught.  He is to be motivated by threats and violence, and rewarded with condescension.  It is why the concept of “humility” has been bastardized by the Church to mean a rejection of the idea that one possesses an inntate, natural sufficiency to goodness and truth.  To take credit for one’s own success and accomplishments is viewed as “sinful pride”, because anything of true value comes not from within man, but from without.  Any moral behavior exhibited by an individual always occurs in SPITE of his humanity, not because of it.  It is why even “saved” Christians still speak of “needing the gospel”, and explain that they don’t actually do any good thing in and of themselves, but operate entirely “under God’s grace”.  It’s the whole false idea of “but for the grace of God go I”—an Individual making good choices according to his own volition, and reaping the benefits of such choices is anathema to Christian ethics.  In Christianity there is no fundamental difference between the unsaved criminal being marched to the dungeon and the saved Christian spectator observing from afar.  Both are criminals at root, as far as God is concerned, it’s just that by some divine mystery God decided to spare the Christian.  It has nothing to do with the Christian spectator actually CHOOSING to turn away from criminal activity and because of THAT avoiding a date with the iron maiden.  And even if Christianity might equivocate and concede that choice is possible, it is only because God grants one the “grace” to make that choice…so no, it’s not actually man making the choice at all, it’s God.  Left to himself, man will NEVER make the right choice.  And this assertion denies man any REAL choice entirely.

Christians understand, at least implicitly, because the doctrine declares it EXPLICITLY, that there can be no actual justification of or for that (man) which is absolute evil at its existential root.  The whole salvation process is very much an appeal to inexplicable mystical powers which transcend man’s “finite” reality; his intellect and his reasoning.  There are no answers to the paradoxes (rational contradictions) of Christian theology because they are utterly beyond the mind of man…beyond his very existence.  Man is saved, but he cannot say why beyond “grace”, and then a shrug as to what this actually means.  God chooses some people over others, seemingly at random.  There is some plan God has, we are told, but the wherefore and the why…who knows?  Christian metaphysics deny that a thing like salvation is possible, but somehow it happens anyway.  The whole philosophy is a massive boiling cauldron of contradiction simmering into a cosmic soup of “God’s mystery”.  Just take the cup and drink.  Don’t spend any time thinking about it.

So for all the talk of man receiving a “righteousness from God’, or a “new birth/new nature”, or being “Justified by Christ”, Christians implicitly understand that they are still Sin of Sin.  And this is why abject misery is so common in the Church. These aren’t congregations of broken people getting healed, as we are told.  These are execution chambers where people are slowly gassed into a brain dead stupor by contagious conginitve dissonance brought upon by the endlessly wafting sedative of rank mysticism.  The life of a Christian is not the fulfillment of the Self, but the sacrifice of it.  The Christian is not imbued with a sense of empowerment, but is instead entirely disarmed, intellectually, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  He learns not how to take upon himself true responsibility, but to hand off his duties and questions to God, letting “His will be done”, in yet another bastardization of the words of Christ.  The Christian does not learn to take up the mantle of his own cause and pursue his dreams with strength and confidence, but to utterly submit himself to “God’s plan”…outsourcing his brain to the Divine, as though God gave him a mind purely on a lark.  He is not given the freedom to exercise his own intellect, now unfettered by the lies of the world and the devil, in service to his own passions, but is sternly reminded that his greatest moral obligation is to obey Authority.  Once saved, the Christian soon finds himself under the “divine mandate” of the church leadership, who are expecting him to sacrifice his time and reasources in pursuit of not his own interests, but that of the greater Christian Ideal.  Of which, of course, they are in charge.

Thus the Christian, now saved and yet still lacking ANY REAL understanding of his own innate worth, is incapable of Self-love, and thus is likewise incapable of loving his neighbor.  The ONLY real, necessary, and ultimately relevant difference between one who is saved and one who is not is that he who is saved has recognized that the sum and substance of his life’s meaning and purpose is to annihilate himself in service to the Christian Authority placed over him, which is God and his Will as manifest by the ecclesiastical powers of the pulpit.  In other words, he is saved in order to sacrifice himself to the worldly ambitions of other men.  Period.

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According to the ethics of Christian orthodoxy, Self-loathing, not Self-love, is one’s default ethical frame of reference. Through the instruction of accepted orthodox doctrine, consistent in its essence amongst all protestant denominations and Catholicism, man is taught to hate his own existence as an act of his own First Sin (his birth) and thus concomitantly the existence of his neighbor.  He therefore implicitly yearns for the destruction of both.  In other words, as the orthodox Christian proclaims his love for God he implies his disgust for humanity.  The relationship betweeen loving God and hating man is indeed direct.  And this is scarcely surreptitious amongst Christians today, though perhaps not said quite as bluntly.  I have heard it stated this way:  that as one’s recognition of God’s glory (i.e. God’s supreme existential moral superiority) grows, a recognition of one’s own moral insufficiency (i.e. man’s supreme existential worthlessness) likewise grows.  And THIS, it is said, is the mark of a true Christian.  The mark of true salvation is that he continues to grow in the understanding that he HAS NO RIGHT TO EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE, because his very existence at root is an offense to God.  And from this we can extrapolate further to see then the FOUNDATIONAL mark of one’s salvation:  the growing knowledge that he, being evil incarnate, is unable to possess a frame of reference for SALVATION AT ALL.

How is that for a kick in the crotch with irony?

It is this basic orthodox Self-loathing which is the reason Christians are so in love with rules and obsessed with punishment.  Man, being morally defunct in his existence, is insufficient to truth and to moral behavior.  And thus control, not freedom, and dictated behavior, not choice, is how the ethics of one’s salvation are to be worked out.  It is why Christianity has always promoted corporeal punishment for children, and has lusted endlessly after the power monopoly of the State—the Church almost ubiquitously imitates their own brand of absolute power (dictating behavior, punishing rulebreakers and wrongthink), routinely implementing Authority-Submission polity to the greatest extent it can get away with.  It is why churches are so often brothels of the worst kinds of moral degeneracy imaginable, like blackmail, child rape and all other varieties of sexual abomination, extortion, manipulation, deception, indoctrination, intimidation, oppression, theft, and murder.  It is why Christianity holds excommunication over the heads of the laity like the sword of Damocles, and why church schisms occur as often as Communion.  It is impossible to show love to others or one’s self when the metaphysics of one’s philosophy declare man’s very birth an act of moral corruption and a violation of God’s perfect creation.

Love, you see, is the desires and behavior generated by employing rational ethics.  Rational ethics places the Self as the moral frame of reference.  Rational ethics recognizes the legitimacy of man at his natural root, and understands the Self to be the singular essence of each human being, and which is necessarily good, and thus shall not be violated.  It shall be free to exist, not enslaved to Authority.  And since all men are equal Selves at root, making the SELF the reference for truth and morality (virtuous selfishness), it is ensured that an Individual, unfettered by the false chains of Authority, who will thus freely act in service to his own wishes and wants, will necessarily act in service to those of his neighbors in the form of cooperation.  All interactions with one’s fellow man will result in the mutual benefit of value exchange.  But again, notice how this—how this rational love—demands that man have intrinsic natural worth.  It concedes that man’s birth is an act of Divine Expression, not an offense to the Divine.  Since Christianity asserts that the birth of a human being is an expression of one’s natural depravity, and as such is an act of rebellion against God, rendering unto man an existential worthlessness to an infinite degree, love by any measure is simply impossible.  Man possess no frame of reference from which to give love or receive it.  And this is why salvation comes from God to man in SPITE of himself; indeed, all expressions of “love” from God or from others comes to man in spite of himself.  And all his acts of “love” are never done BY him, but THROUGH him, by the Spirit.  In other words, man qua man (man, himSelf) is merely a bystander to love and morality in general.  He is a two-dimensional character in a predetermined bit of theater, written and directed by the Divine Author.  He, himSelf, thus, being wholly unnatural with respect to God’s perfect and perfectly moral reality, doesn’t actually exist at all.

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In order to truly love—that is, in the way that Christians cannot—humanity must accept its own innate natural worth, and reject the satanic notion of innate moral failure.  This is the difference between Self-love and Self-sacrifice (or Self-loathing)…and yes, these are mutually exclusive concepts.  The former always acts in love whilst the latter never does. The former always saves, the latter always murders.

END

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Rethinking Prayer: Asking or telling? (Part TWO)

What do I think prayer is?

Well, this question cannot be answered without discussing what I think God is.  So, both questions will be looked at here, though not necessarily in any particular order…and I cannot say this will be an easy read.  These are complicated subjects, but if you apprehend the essence of what I mean then I’ll consider it a win for both of us.

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Prayer, or more specifically the answer thereto, is the necessary response of reality—specifically its underlying RATIONAL philosophical apparatus, and this apparatus is God.  In other words, God is reality as expressed, and as possible (efficacious), through the objective rational principles which utterly imply it.  Starting with an irreducible metaphysical primary (which can only be Ability, because existence must be active for it to be possible, and all action must be underwritten by the Ability to act), and proceeding through epistemology, ethics, etcetera, etcetera, where all the root philosophical premises (epistemological premise; ethical premise, etc.) proceeding from the metaphysical primary are corollary to promote, affirm, and reinforce the primary (and therefore themselves) thus creating  what I call the Great Corollary…or the Many Truths (the premises) from the One Truth (the metaphysical primary).

Now, I know this explication is pretty abstruse (though less so if you follow my blog) and this is a function of the complexity of the subject.  And the reason, in large part, for this complexity is because the church has spent almost the entirely of its existence avoiding the question.  The substitution of truth by the Church, you see, with equivocation, tarted-up logical fallacy (contradiction explicated as Truth), mysticism, pagan and neo-pagan syncretism, despotic absolutism and collectivist authoritarianism, emotional blackmail and outright blackmail, spiritual manipulation, excuse-mongering, and plain old lying, has made getting to the truth of what God is, and thus what is meant by prayer to God, exceedingly more complicated and enigmatic than it ever needed to be if we could have avoided the past two thousand years of the intellectual error of the sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists and fools who have traditionally comprised Christianity’s ruling (priest) class.

If you have spent any time in the Church you will know, unless you are a child or have the spiritual mind of a child, or are blinded by or thoughtlessly committed to the Platonist propaganda which passes for truth there, that there simply does not exist any actual definition of God anywhere therein whatsoever.  And you will understand that this is precisely why no one in the church really knows what prayer is, means, or how to do it.  Oh, for certain there are some mildly clever attempts to provide a meaningful answer to the question “what is God?”, like “he’s the Creator”, which in reality tells us not what he IS but what he DOES, and this only vaguely and insufficiently; or we might hear “he is the Alpha and the Omega (first and last)”, which only obliquely describes his nature and utterly omits the relevant practical implications of such a claim, and does not describe how such a label has any meaning beyond the mere figurative and/or poetic.  Alpha and Omega implies an infinity of being, which is fine, but what is required, and omitted, is how one reconciles the paradox of an infinite Agent manifesting as somehow distinct (finite) in reality. I am not saying that such a paradox cannot be resolved, just that the church has never done so…and will NEVER do so.

Next, of course, we have the extra-biblical assertion that God is a “Trinity”…the “Three in One”—whatever that means.  And don’t bother asking, because NO ONE knows.  If you do dare put on your hazmat suit and wade into the fetid abyss of Christian apologetics and ask about the “Trinity” you will get a smorgasboard of  equivocation amounting to, in practicality, a big fat shrug.  All explanations of the Trinity are designed to dazzle, not inform, because the church realized some five hundred years ago that explaining a rank contradiction in terms was impossible, even with all the divine clarivoyance of the whole medieval priest class, including the Pope with his magic tin can and string direct to God.  Back then, of course, demurring from the orthodox interpretation of God as Trinity was apt to get one murdered for heresy.  Today, murder is not the church discipline de jure, as much as the modern priest class would ABSOLUTELY embrace that power being that it is entirely consistent with Christianity’s doctrinal premises, however, disagreeing with the unbiblical notion of God as “Three in One” indeed marks you as an outcast and a troublemaker, unsaved and evil, denying even the most basic of God’s “truths”.

And here’s something else about the Trinity, as long as we are on the subject…and this relates to my overall point in the article here anyway.  I submit that the doctrine of the Trinity is a thinly veiled ADMISSION that Christian orthodoxy has absolutely no idea what God is or how to describe his nature.  Thus, a contradiction in terms (Three which is simultaneously One) has become the final word on God’s essence…and it is assumed that  this makes him somehow awesome as opposed to ridiculous.  We are supposed be inspired to literal and figurative prostration at the thought of our Creator as that which man cannot possibly fathom by any cognitive faculty or conceptual framework.

And herein lies the whole damn problem.

In an effort to make God astonishingly vast and complex, and thus to inspire man to worship and tremble at his feet, Christianity has instead made him a farce—an arrant joke—by placing him utterly beyond anything rational, and thus (and most abominable) playing straight into the hands of his those who mock and scorn his existence.  God defined as “Three in One” creates an interpretation of the Father which has been punted beyond man’s cognitive, conceptual, and intellectual frame of reference.  By defining God as a contradiction, Christianity has ensured that man cannot possibly apply the Father’s existence to reality in any way at all, making him utterly irrelevant to man, and exchanging practical and rational theology for mysticism, superstition, spiritual despotism, and willful ignorance; and making these things virtues whilst mocking, condemning, and murdering as heretics those who nurture a pure, holy, innocent, and RATIONAL desire to know him.

And finally, it would do us all well to remember that the madness known as the doctrine of the Trinity saw its Protestant canonization punctuated with murder when the scoundrel and false teacher, John Calvin, had Michael Servitus burned at the stake for rejecting it.  And this is the spiritual primordium from which today’s Christians claim to know God?!  I think not.  Look not to the church, my friends.  God is not known there.  The church has ghosts, but they are not holy.

Needless to say, then, since Christianity contains within all its disputations, catechisms, liturgies, and doctrinal interpretations no description of God which may pass for even a remedial or marginally realistic definition of the the nature of the Almighty, it clearly cannot provide a definition of prayer to him, nor how one should pray, nor what one should pray for, nor when, nor what one may expect with regards to its efficacy and outcomes.

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So what is prayer? Well, I will tell you…understanding that this is a summary.  Giving full attention to such a topic would, I think, necessarily fill volumes.

Prayer is an extension of man’s right not to be governed by deterministic cause and effect (cause and effect being purely an abstract rendering of what is an entirely relative relationship between objects when excluding the presence of the observer).  Prayer is an extension of man’s existence as a function not of abstract natural law, but of reason.  Reason extends beyond the mere physical/ontic parameters of the “laws of physics”, and demands that reality accommodate man’s RATIONAL will.  And this either by man’s physical OR metaphysical extension of himself.  That is, either by his hands or by his rational will—his understanding of his intrinsic right to witness his rational desires BEYOND those hands; that man’s will as it controls the object known as his body may likewise control ALL of that which is rationally obligated to affirm his absolute Self.  And because prayer is an expression of man’s categorical right to his own rational and absolute existence, he need not ask or entreat or beg or bargain with reality.  He commands it.  And then it shall obey.  God, you see, then, is not the worker of the effects of man’s prayer.  MAN, himself, is.  God, however, being an extension of the rational/moral (rationality and morality being corollary) existence of man (or, rendered more allegorically, he is Father and man is Son) is man’s PARTNER in manifesting the outcomes of that which is commanded.

END

Rethinking Prayer: Asking or telling? (Part ONE)

Prayer is both a thing and a concept with which I have struggled for quite some time now.  Probably like you, I have had my share of answered prayers, and also my share of unanswered ones.  And this I think naturally leads one to consider the actual efficacy and legitimacy of prayer.  If we observe that prayer is only inconsistenty answered at best, then how can we not say that perhaps it is the mere cause and effect machinations of normal reality and is nothing of prayer?  I would think this not only reasonable but obvious.  If prayer only inconsistently effects change as we may observe it, then it’s logical to assume that what’s really going on has nothing to do with prayer at all, but is merely a matter of probability.

For example, I have chosen to fly on airplanes dozens of times, and I’ve prayed for each flight, and all have landed safely.  However, to call this an example of “answered prayer” is, in fact, quite a stretch of logic since statistics clearly show that the percentage of flights that crash is so very low relative to how many flights have taken place in history.  This makes “safe flight” much more likely a function of human engineering favorably manipulating the probability of a safe outcome rather than divine intervention.  The safety of the flights may have something to do with answered prayer, but how can one really know? The only way to know even mildly is if one observed that all his prayers were answered all the time…and even this would be logically subjective, but at least it would make a strong circumstantial case. Logically subjective perhaps, unless we are speaking strictly of the miraculous, but certainly compelling.

My thinking on the matter of prayer has  evolved through several iterations.  I went through the neophyte version of God-as-genie when I was a kid…but not quite so disrespectful as that sounds.  My prayers as a young person were never overtly  irrational…I prayed to be ignored by bullies at school—or, as I like to refer to them:  the bastard spawn of the mass dysfunctional family wreckage which hallmarks  the worst generation in history:  the Baby Boomers—to recover from illness, to do well on exams.  That sort of thing.  I remember God being quite gracious back then, but this is perhaps just the positive memories of childhood rising to the top.  Maybe God answered my prayers, but as I had no rational working definition of God back then (most Christians don’t, in fact) I really couldn’t say.

During my fifteen years as a neo-Calvinist in the cult of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) I brushed up against the congnitive dissonance of prayer as it relates to object and abject divine determinism.  This view of prayer makes it merely ritualistic, signifying nothing of any real efficacy, since all things are up to God anyway, so it goes, and he has already decided what to do with everyone, from birth unto hell or heaven, whichever you happen to get.  You’ll never really know until the day God disposes of you into one or the other eternal receptical.

Is that just a peach of a belief?  And yet this is where most Christains today tread water with respect to prayer…in this arrant folly of reason.  And don’t let them tell you they don’t actually believe this.  If you are BORN evil, which is precisely orthodox when it coms to the Christian interpretation of man’s nature, then you are entirely insufficient to any good thing, and this includes knowing the difference between good and evil.  And since this knowledge is the root of ethics (how man values what he knows), and ethics is inexorably tied to epistemology (how man knows what he knows), then the eradication of man’s moral compass by the doctrine of “original sin” completely wrecks man’s ability to know anything at all.  Thus, God must necessarily determine man to his eventual eternal destiny, regardless if he be “saved” or not, because man, once you tease out the doctrine to its logical conclusion, is utterly mindless.  You may go to church and follow all the commandments and abstain from all worldly temptations and throw out your television and excoriate the idea of modern technology as merely the devil’s distraction, but to think that you can know you are saved…that somehow you, who is rotten to core from birth, can know the mind of God and what his grand plan is for you is something that in a different time would have gotten you burned at the stake.

And thus you see the implicit evil behind the notion of prayer as merely a ritual we do because God commands it: salvation is not a thing the church can offer.  It’s a lie.  No one knows where they will end up, be they found in church on Sunday or in a whore house.  The advertisement that there is actual salvation to be gained in the church is the greatest bait-and-switch scam ever perpetrated upon man.

This abysmal version of prayer never really took hold in me.  I always found it terribly specious..and while I paid lip service to it, not wanting to cause a stir (SGM doesn’t take doctrinal disagreement with much levity…regardless of the degree, it’s pretty much stomped out with ferocity), I used to despise it when people would pray for me and top it off with “if it be thy will, Lord”.  Because that presupposed that God had already decided what should happen to me, and that what I wanted and intended was besides the point.  And this is the crux of what I want to talk about in this article.  The notion that what I desire for my life through prayer is infinitely subordinated to an outside will, even God’s, doesn’t sit well with me.  Not because I crave control, or lust sinfully and selfishly after what is God’s power alone, but because it is at root utterly irrational.  If God has predetermined for me my experiences, and possesses the ultimate veto on all my choices, and shall tell me whether or not my prayers contain any merit whatsoever, then what is the point of prayer?  What is the point of my having any ideas at all about anything?  God will do what God will do…my very existence then becomes entirely meaningless.  My mind is an illusion of a mind which cannot actually exist because it’s infinitely irrelevant.  And this is a contradiction in terms.  And I may not know everything about God, but I know this:  He cannot be God if his very existence is utterly incompatible to my own, or vice versa, and if what he asks of his children contradicts itself, thus rendering the very words he uses to communicate himself and his intentions utterly meaningless.

But even more superficial than all of that…I mean, we can get into the root philosophical contradictions, and that’s its own brand of fun, but we can put it in more pedestrian terms:  Would you continue to ask favors of someone who has told you to freely ask him favors if you never knew whether or not your favors would be granted; if there were all these stipulations about what could be asked for and when and how and that it really wasn’t going to be up to you and that you couldn’t be trusted to know what you really wanted or needed, and therefore the asking of favors became this tedious and exasperating task of self-examination and naval gazing and groveling and bemoaning your own infinite existential inadequacy and ignorance, and then when confronted with a desperate circumstance like a child with a terminal illness or the loss of a career or a sexual assault you found yourself groveling and prostrating yourself before this giver-of-favors, wailing and begging him to just this once give you relief; and then to forgive you for thinking what YOU want actually matters?  In other words, you are told to ask favors, but then told that you don’t possess the intrinsic wisdom or foresight to know which favors should be asked for.  So favor-asking becomes this giant farce…a facade of love.  Because the giver of favors is going to do whatever he’s going to do whether you ask for it or not.

Needless to say, most of us, if presented with such a clearly ludicrous waste of time would pass on it, and many of us wouldn’t hesitate to scold the snake oil salesman for his wicked deception.  Nevertheless, this is what prayer has become.  It is nothing more than the dance of a medicine man around the fire of primitive, polytheistic superstition.

So what, at root, is the error?  Okay.  Wait for it.  And prepare to be scandalized.

We ask instead of tell.  We politely request instead of demand an answer to our prayers, which I submit as children of God, with all the responsibilities and complexities and challenges that this implies, is our divine birthright.

Now hold on. Let me explain (in part two). This is not without its reason; it comes with much understanding and responsibility.  I promise, it is not a return to the genie in the bottle.

End (Part ONE)

Debating Most Christians is Basically Pointless

Here’s why debating (orthodox) Christians is so tedious, and virtually impossible to do productively:

[NOTE: When I refer to Christians I am speaking of the orthodox variety, not those like myself who differ categorically with almost every doctrinal premise and Biblical interpretation found in the Church today, from Original Sin to Christ’s Resurrection.]

“Faith” by Christian definition contains no null hypothesis.  What this means is that the doctrinal premises Christians accept and assert are not beholden to any sort of rationally consistent plumb line.  Indeed, I submit that for a Christian to accept that reason is efficacious, or even worse, NECESSARY, to “God’s Truth”, is heresy, at least implicitly.  Faith is beyond reason because God is beyond reason, so it is assumed.

This is of course entirely false, as God is, I would argue, perhaps THE most rational Ideal out there when defined correctly (“correctly” meaning: In a way which does not endemically contradict him). Anyway, the relevance of this is that it is impossible for the rational person to disprove Christian doctrinal assertions or interpretations because proof by definition is a matter of reason…of consistency and non-contradiction.  And reason is mutually exclusive of  “faith”.  Of course this also makes it impossible for the Christian to prove HIS assertions.  The standard of disproof for the critic is also the standard of proof for the Christian (and vice versa).  And this is another reason why debating Christians on matters of doctrine and interpretation is an almost entirely fruitless enterprise.

Here’s the paradox:  In order to truly debate a Christian, the Christian must have first ALREADY rejected the “no null hypothesis” root of their arguments.  And this necessarily means to reject those arguments, in essence, which equals a rejection of the doctrinal premises and interpretations—as these simply do not survive alongside a null hypothesis.  In either case, null hypothesis or none, the debate is pretty much over before it begins.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that debating Christians is a complete and categorical waste of time; there is a lot to be said for the manner in which persons engage one another.  You might be surprised at how successfully you can evangelize a Christian by simply not being a dick about things. (In other words, don’t model your approach after asshats like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whose patronizing and irascible manner could turn off the Devil himself (and they are both completely wrong about everything, by the way…they pat themselves on the back for dismantling the object farce that passes for Biblical doctrine in orthodox Christianity—a task even my 10 year-old can do with facility—and think they are actually dismantling the scriptures, themselves…embarrassing.) But don’t expect to dazzle Christians with logic.  They punted that away a long time ago.

END

Dismantling Christian Orthodoxy in Five Questions

Once you see the rational errors which form the root and body of Christian orthodoxy, it becomes impossible to unsee them.  That is, once you accept the basic and inexorable truth that contradiction is not actually a valid method for drawing doctrinal conclusions, or any other conclusion for that matter, the failure of Christian orthodoxy to satisfy even the most remedial of logical consistency—the 2 + 2 = 4 kind of logic—becomes a punch in the face every time you are exposed to almost any form of Christian theology.  It’s why I had to stop going to church.  Literally everything coming from the pulpit is laced with rational failure.  And it’s more than annoying…it’s offensive.  It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where no matter how hard he tries Jerry can’t get the smell of body odor out of his car after he loans it to a friend.  Once you see it, you can’t unsee it…and once you smell it, it lingers like insuperable body odor around everything and everyone in the church today.

And do not think I do not know from what I speak.  I was a committed evangelical Christian in the spiritual meatgrinder of Sovereign Grace Ministries for ten years, and before that, grew up in the Lutheran Church.  I know the doctrine…I know what Christians believe and how they think and how they preach and how they equivocate their impossible theological claims.  I have lived it, preached it, financed it, lost friends and family over it, and seen the utter ruin it wreaks upon the innocent…children and spouses brought into the cultlike “family” of those who define reality according to “mystery”, and believe that applying heady-sounding labels like “systematic theology” to their proof-texting passes for enlightened and learned scriptural interpretation.  Everything I say in this article is based upon an objective knowledge of exactly what Christians believe, and dismantles those beliefs by pinpointing exactly the fatal weaknesses of their logic. I am still a Christian, by the way, but certainly NOT orthodox.  I categorically reject orthodoxy  and the whole of its interpretive methodology.

To back up my claim that Christianity is a conspicuous offense to the basic rational sensibilities of those of us who have decoded Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist (the unholy doctrinal trinity) doublespeak, I developed a simple exercise of logic, based upon the most prevalent assertion of Christian evangelism.

*

“In order to be saved, you must believe in Jesus.”

“Believe what about him?”

[Note:  The rendering of the first assertion is sometimes “Believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior”, to which my response is “What does that mean?”, which leads to essentially the same answer as “Believe what about him?”, albeit likely in a more explicative form.  That answer is:]

“That he died for your sins.”

“What sins?”

“The ones you have committed…he died for all of them.”

“How do you know I’ve sinned?”

“Because we all sin.  We can’t help it.”

“Why can’t we help it?”

“Because we are born sinners…with a sin nature that makes it impossible not to sin.”

“So…we are born sinners, and thus we must sin.  It’s in our nature…a manifestation of our very existence.  Then…sin is not a choice.  That which my nature demands I must do cannot also be something I choose to do.  And if I do not have a choice whether to sin or not then my sin is not actually sinful.  My sin, having nothing to do with my will, cannot be called an immoral act, and therefore, by definition, it cannot actually be sin.  In the same way I cannot help but to breath, and my heart cannot help but to beat, and I cannot help but to be human, I cannot help but to sin, and therefore only a fool would call my natural sin sinful.  Which means that only a fool would call this sin “sin” at all.  I cannot be born with a sinful nature because I cannot both commit immoral acts by my nature and have a nature which makes immoral action impossible because I have no capacity to choose to commit immoral action in the first place.  You cannot morally judge, Christian, what I cannot help.  If sin is a part of me, of my nature, and is unchosen, and I cannot help it, then you cannot call what I do sin.  In order for sin to be sinful, it must be a choice, and you, because you do not know me, cannot possibly know whether I have chosen to sin.  You do not know the sum and substance of my choices, and if my need for Jesus is predicated on you knowing that I have committed sin, then you cannot reasonably assert that I should believe in him.  So I will ask again, and hope for your sake that you stop mocking the God you claim you serve and provide a less embarrassing answer.  What should I believe about him?”

*

At this point it is inevitable that the Christian will punt his ENTIRE theology into the cosmic abyss of “God’s Mystery”. You have little choice but to walk away.  The Christian has retreated back into the ouroboros of his spiritual echo chamber as quickly as he emerged. And there he will stay…in his own mind, or, perhaps, up his own arse, you might say, until his guilt entices him to venture out and try again. He will eventually learn to avoid the thinkers, grotesquely condemning them as blind and worldy, and will seek out the meek and the helpless and the needy.  But not for the reasons Christ implored. But because the Christian understands that there is no practical difference between gullibility and indigence when it comes to meeting his quota. He has learned that the desperate can be convinced of almost anything.

My next article will deal with the difference between mystery, paradox, and contradiction, to help you to stop falling for the claims that God’s mystery is actually an argument to be considered.

 

 

What is Government?: All you need to know in two brief paragraphs

Government is “legal” violence. And what is “legal” violence? Simple. It is the violence necessary to compel the naturally evil individual into the collective moral code.

This “need” for “legal” (read “moral”) violence is predicated upon a false metaphysic: that individual man does evil by existing at all. In other words, to be man is to be evil. The Christians call this Total or Pervasive Depravity. Most other religions have their own labels, but it’s metaphysically identical.

Non-Specific God is Non-God

Omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, Creator of Everything, even Savior of the World…these are all non-specific and non-contextual terms by definition. Which means that they are irrelevant concepts; which means that they are irrational and meaningless definitions of God.

If you intend to have faith in something, you must be able to define it. Stay away from people who define their objects of faith according to the terms above. These people are blind, and turning in circles, having nothing to offer the living.

Hey Frank, Liars by NATURE Can’t Pretend


Franklin Graham: ‘Men Pretending to Be Women’ Should Not Use Women’s Restrooms”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/04/23/franklin-graham-men-pretending-women-not-use-womens-restrooms/

Well, if humanity is naturally depraved, then (also by nature) they lack the epistemological sufficiency to apprehend truth. In which case, Graham can’t make the argument that transgenders are pretending anything. In fact, since truth is a function of God’s elective revelation (God chooses you; you don’t choose God, so the Protestants teach), then those who act according to their sinful nature do so because God hasn’t caused their enlightenment. In which case, by Graham’s own doctrine, transgenderism and the “evil” it afflicts upon society is really all God’s fault.

Here’s a better tweet:

Stop listening to Pastors who condemn people according to a doctrine which makes such condemnation hypocritical and rationally impossible.

Graham needs to quite his fake job and go do something else. Anything else. I hear California now has a $15 minimum wage.

Enlightenment or Dogma?

It’s not enlightenment to simply parrot an ideology. To simply repeat the spurious assertions of others is to be a merchant of dogma, not truth.

To agree with others is to accept a rationale; and likewise to be enlightened. And to accept a rationale requires the ability to present a reasoned explication of the ideas with which you agree and to which you claim to be enlightened. And a reasoned explication demands rational consistency.

Enlightenment to and agreement with ideas thus goes only as far as rational consistency wil take it. And that is as far as the nearest contradiction.

To claim to believe something and to proceed to preach something that you cannot explain without categorical rational consistency is, again, simply dogma, and any rational and moral person should reject it as such.

To preach dogma is to advertise to the world that you have rejected the sufficiency of your own mind, and by that the sufficiency of your own Self.  You have become a missionary of death worship.

 

The Christian Does Not Die, He Becomes Death: Spiritual Marxism masquerading as the Christian orthodox ideal, Part 17

Discussion Questions:

1.  Have you ever felt like you had insight and clarity into someone else’s poor decision?  Did you say anything?  How did it turn out?

(Community:  Your pathway to progress, pp. 35. North Point Ministries, 2008)

Let’s examine the profound and irrational assumptions/presumptions which form the philosophical roots of this “discussion” question (one of three we will examine), according to the spurious standard of today’s “doctrinally sound” Christian church.  Remember that in this series of articles on spiritual Marxism, using North Point Ministries’ small group booklet as my reference, we have been examining the doctrinal premises–and their ideological spawn–of today’s neo-Calvinist, neo-Reformed church movement, which is quickly becoming, or has become, the Christian movement of the 21st century in America, in general.

What is presented in this essay is based upon the philosophical ideals underwriting Christianity today, some of which we have  discussed in the Spiritual Marxism series already.  However, I believe that it is possible to read this essay without having read the previous ones and not be too terribly confused.  As usual, my penchant for verbosity tends to fill in most of the informational gaps which might otherwise be present in the essay of a more concise writer.

*

Here again is the discussion question:

Have you ever felt like you had insight and clarity into someone else’s poor decision? Did you say anything?  How did it turn out?

What we must understand with respect to the collectivism implicit in Christianity today, particularly of the neo-Reformed/neo-Calvinist type, is that, for these spiritual Marxists, the Group understands the existential context of the individual better than he or she does, at any given moment, and with respect to any issue, and any situation.  This is because “Group”, as I’ve explained before, is the primary metaphysic.  The irreducible ontological state of existence for any human being is not the Self, but the Collective. The individual is a direct function of the group with which he or she affiliates, not the other way around.  The key to existence then is finding the “right”, or the “True” group, and affiliating yourself with it, after which, through the epistemological enlightenment of the group (understanding how you know what you can know), you come to realize that YOU never actually had anything to do with joining, or finding, the group after all.  You became affiliated with the group, not by choice, but because you were determined into it…for determinism is, in fact, the only possible causal source of everything within a universe where Group, or Collective, is the sum and substance of all there is.

In Christianity today, the “Church” is the only ACTUAL, legitimate thing. It is All in All.  And “God” is its essence…which is merely the same thing as saying God IS the Group, the Group is God.  There is no relevant difference.  And what this means–and is the whole point of fabricating a Collectivist metaphysic in the first place–is that those who claim the divine mandate to rule the group, which is correlated to their special revelation/enlightenment, means that they, and no one else, (because God works through them, alone) possess an infinite Authority over everyone else.  This literally enslaves ALL of mankind to the subjective whims of a single person or small group of people, forever and absolutely.  And that, like I said, is precisely what all of the heady-sounding doctrine is all about.

So…back to the determinism which drove you into the “loving” arms of your Collective–the One, True Collective which governs and controls all things via its oneness to the Primary Consciousness.  Or, in this case “God” (and I use “God” in quotes, incidentally, because by no means should we think that these despots in any way have any actual affiliation with the real God…for He forbids such a thing I am convinced, and has nothing, I submit, to do with them in ANY measure according to their doctrine, which denies His truth as thoroughly as it denies yours and mine):

The “Group” as represented by that transcendent and infinite and immaterial Consciousness realized its Will upon your life, and you, helpless to resist because you have no actual will of your own, complied. Therefore, the answer to the question now begged–“What is the TRUE group, as opposed to one of the panoply of impostors?”–is simple:  The Group to which you were determined MUST be the True Group, otherwise you could not be counted among it.  See, since only the True Group has the True Consciousness which can determine all things, you could only ever have chosen to join to the Group to which you now belong.  There was no choice, you might say.  Otherwise, you would not have chosen it.

It is a tautology, you see.  The proof that you were determined to the group is that you chose it.  You chose because you were determined, and you were determined because you chose.  “A is A” is not a law of identity in this instance, it is a tautology, and this is a great example.  Whatever you chose to do you did because you were determined to choose it.  Choice and determinism are equivalent.  Another way of putting it is that choice is A and determinism is A.  A is A.  The Law of Identity is satisfied. Which is, incidentally, why so many smart people fall for this kind of thinking.  (Incidentally, the ease with which Aristotle’s Law of Identity can be conformed to the collectivist metaphysic by applying it to abstract concepts (actions) which are necessarily a function of material objects (concrete existence) is startling.  It is a strong argument for doubting the rationality and veracity of that Law.)

I understand the massive cognitive dissonance that is endemic to this ideology, and the need to suspend disbelief in order to make the rational leap from the discussion question to its answer.  Nevertheless, once we concede, as Christianity today does, that the metaphysical primary is not the Individual, but the Collective–the Group–we understand that this is the only possible answer which is consistent with the premise.

*

In Christianity, the Consciousness of the Group is “God”, naturally, and it is His “Sovereign Will” which “controls all things”.  It is “God” then to whom the fleshly incarnations of Himself, the Pastors (and the lesser deities, the Small Group Leaders) appeal, in order to physically and psychologically compel the unwashed masses into “right thinking” and “right behavior”.  Therefore, God compelled you into the Small Group at North Point Ministries (or whatever other neo-Marxist spiritual trap into which you may have fallen), to be instructed and ultimately governed (forced) in the ways of the One True Collective (the “Church”) by those who claim the authority to do so.  And since those who claim this authority are God’s proxies, which makes them God to you, or God qua God, for all relevant intents and purposes, the answer to this discussion question leveled at us above, “Have you ever felt like you  had insight and clarity into someone else’s poor decision?”, is…

Yes.  And no.  As a group member, yes.  As an individual whose depravity only allows him to view reality from the singularity of Self, no.  I am divine, but I am also wicked.  I am aware, and I am also blind.

Let’s break it down.

Yes, of course.  Of course you’ve felt like you had insight and clarity into someone else’s poor decision. And, as corollary to this, of course you’ve been the one to make a poor decision, and thus have had to defer your will and your mind to another person.  Maybe even the person upon which you are now, ironically, passing judgement even as he simultaneously passes judgement upon you.

This ostensibly contradictory answer is utterly demanded by the acceptance of the Group AS Self metaphysic.  As a member of the one True Group you’ve been given the divine perception afforded to everyone who understands his or her nature as entirely a function of the Church, which really means the Authority of the Pastors and their representatives, the subordinate, lesser deities, which include the Small Group Leaders.  Because you have absorbed the explications, explanations, and presumptions of “Sound Doctrine”, you have the divine, unmitigated, and inerrant authority, bestowed by spiritual osmosis,  to pronounce judgement upon anyone, anywhere, at any time, for anything which does not comply forthrightly with said doctrine, regardless of the presence of contexts or circumstances which you could not possibly understand, and may confidently declare the perpetrator utterly ignorant, morally bankrupt, and insane, worthy of all manner of death and destruction.  The slightest disagreement or inconsistency with what you know must be the infallible “Word of God” simply by being a “Church Member” invites you to offer a thoroughly justified condemnation on behalf of the Group, and a demand (disguised as “counsel”, or “advice”) that thinking and behavior be brought to heel..or else.

(As an aside, please realize that understanding of the “Word of God” doesn’t have anything to do with understanding qua understanding at all.  It merely means that one can, if even in the most remedial of ways, parrot back the presumptions, assertions, premises, axioms, and maxims to which he or she pledges fealty as function of their affiliation with the True Collective.)

In other words, because you go to True Church–one approved by the doctrinal standards of “orthodoxy” (whatever that means)–you know everything.  As the Group knows, you also know.

On the flip side, however, you, being an unremitting and unrepentant sinner by nature, categorically depraved and infinitely insufficient to any moral thing, act, or idea, abstract or concrete, you MUST sin, and sin perpetually, because the very fact that you possess an awareness of SELF, as an individual, demands that the entirely of your observance of the entirety of your existence is false.  And more than false, it is the very archetype of evil.  You can do no good thing; you can think no good thing; you can see, hear, and speak no good thing.  Because you ARE, according to the Fall of Man who is Perpetually Falling, no good thing, and absolutely so.

Thus, in equal measure as the enlightened one, bringing the all-seeing eye of the “Church” to bear upon your fellow man to level judgement and command repentance and recompense, you are also the Sinner.  The Evil One.  The one who will make mistakes, because he IS the mistake.  Therefore, as you give your unsolicited rebukes, condemnations, warnings, exhortations, demands, and absolutes to your fellow man, so you will prostrate yourself before his.

Because according to the extremely loose logic of “sound doctrine”, rooted in the Ethical (moral) primary of “Total Depravity” and the metaphysical primary of Existence through Church Membership, the only real purpose of the discussion question at the top of this essay is to promote the following ideal:

You can judge others, but you cannot judge yourself.  Your awareness proves efficacious only when it is applied to the existence of another; but it is utterly incapable of serving you, because you qua you do not possess by nature the existential sufficiency to awareness.  That is, to Truth.

And this eventually distills down into this very evil premise:

You can be the Group, but you cannot be yourself.  And this is because what a seemingly innocuous and innocent little book on small groups is desperately and yet so surreptitiously demanding is that you accept the ideal that you are Evil Self AND Perfect Group, and the paradoxical distinction denies you a reality of your own, which makes you dependent upon that of the Church leadership.  You have insight, and you lack it.  You speak truth to sin, and you wickedly deny sin.  You receive the truth with grace, and you stubbornly resist and worship Satan.  You are both the dark and the light.  The Is and the Is not.  You are Individual inside Collective.

And now, at last, we arrive at the real answer to the question above.  The only one that matters…and they know it.  It’s not about groups, its not about church, its not about God. It’s about control.  The control which flows from a fabricated reality they create for everyone else.  A reality which convinces you that…

You are you and you are not you.

You are an existential contradiction.  A positive added to a negative.  A zero sum.  A blank.  An infinite everything with a nature of infinite nothingness.  In other words…

You’re worse than dead.  You are Death.