What We Are Trying To Do Here

cropped-screen-shot-2014-02-23-at-6-41-07-pm4.pngA book about the Beatitudes, and Matthew chapter 5.  The idea is  this: the Beatitudes and the verses that follow set out the pattern of growth into healing and wholeness.  Far from being a jumble of impossible-to-achieve character traits, Matthew 5 is  how-to guide, a hand book for growing into holiness.  Do you want to be holy?  Do you want to see what growth in holiness looks like, step-by-step?  Jesus’ words are a very bracing challenge, but absolutely encouraging.

This  is a place where we can talk about that idea, and other things, as well.

My first book, How the West Was Lost, presented the idea that Western civilization came to an end with the dawn of the 21st century.   It said that we are no longer a post-Christian civilization–we are a post-post Christian  civilization.  That is, in the last quarter of the 20th century, everyone who was alive and of age could remember that the West used to hold to Christian morality as the anchor that in the midst of the storm kept the ship of culture from smashing against the rocks.  We knew that things were going wrong, because we remembered what right looked like.

That’s not the case today.  We don’t remember what right looks like.  People growing up today don’t have that cultural-genetic memory: they have been born into a different civilization, as different from the West as the West was from Rome in the year AD 400.

This book, The Stairway to Heaven, is the antidote to the troubling implications of such a sad prospect.

What then shall we do?, people asked me, after reading the first book.  Well, here it is, my answer.  We can’t change the civilizational replacement, but we can change ourselves.  And experience joy, whatever the troubles we observe around us.

17 thoughts on “What We Are Trying To Do Here

  1. Patrick,
    I read How the West was Lost. New Civ is a good name because the lack of “civilization” in this place would preclude the whole word from being used. The West is gone, and that is what America gets for kicking God out, but to me it feels like the New Civ is already circling the drain too. Or was it just designed to accommodate and morph itself to fit the tyranny we face? Anyway, I liked the book. I have felt like something is wrong with the world for a long time, but given my belief in Jesus, how could it go any other way, eh?. Looking forward to Stairway.

    • Thanks Rich, for your thoughts. Things are indeed moving faster and faster. Take this Eich fellow, who was forced out of the company he founded because he wrote a check to help keep marriage from being redefined–six years ago, when even a wild, communistic radical like Obama publicly agreed. If you are right that the New Civ is only a brief, interim state, this would be evidence. With the dramatic speed of the social landscape’s change, it is hard to make predictions.

      That’s why I wrote the book, of course. To have a handle on the fact that this is not “normal.” It is new and anyone paying attention needs an anchor in that storm.

      It’s also why I love the Memory Hole Blog, where the false flag events and the hoaxes are examined as they unfold.

      • The new civ tells me every day that right is wrong and wrong is right, and it is gaining ground quickly. I remember when I was in the USAF sometime around ’91; we were all forced to attend some kind of diversity training. I recall the instructor telling us that no matter how open minded a person is, we were operating at an advantage and could never make up for the wrongs that we and our forefathers had committed against all minorities, it was simply built into us. The word anger does not do justice to what I felt. All I could remember was starting my working life at nine years old in 1976 dragging a bag of newspapers(that weighed as much as me) through the freezing New York mornings, and two feet of snow at 5am. Over privileged brat eh? Whatever. I bet a parent would be charged with child abuse for making a kid do that in this weird new civ.
        I also got a taste of dhimmitude in ’93 in Saudi Arabia. The locals drove terribly, and were always smashing into us with their Mercedes Benz’. A Saudi could intentionally T-bone us, and it would be our fault automatically. The USAF told us it was some backward cultural thing , but never really explained to us that the people we were defending thought of us as slimy dogs. I found nothing in my stay there that the world could not live without… except maybe oil.
        Terrible shame on this country when people lose their life’s work for simply encouraging morality like Eich. I read that Chic-filet had a big year in 2013. I wonder if that actually means anything.
        And yes, MHB has some sharp people that dig up a lot of great material. I just wish people would realize how the Professor operates. We dig up the dirt, sling theories, and discuss right and wrong. The Prof on the other hand deals in facts only, which is why the new civ is not able to dispense with him. He is a disciplined man to say the least.

  2. Hi Patrick! I read stairway a couple of times, but I’m not done with it. I hope to take notes on it next time I go through. Maybe it will answer some questions for me, and if not I will shoot them to you here. I hadn’t done much more than simply read the beatitudes since Sunday school and think “yeah, yeah that’s nice”. It never even occurred to me that they are all the same person on the same journey. I wonder about the rewards(only word I can think of), inherit the earth, see God, sons of God, and if they are not meant to be revealed until the end.
    Interesting comment on the state of human sexuality you made on MHB as well. The things that have become “normal”, the real purpose of feminism, these things are the real war on women, and men for that matter. I just caught a headline about some school girl raising a stink about not being able to wear short shorts at school and being discriminated against and then I got bored with it and stopped reading. Anyway she said something like “it shouldn’t matter what girls wear, boys should be taught not to look at girls like sex objects”. Definition of New Civ feminism: I can walk around naked, but you cannot get aroused. I’m sure you could do at least a 27 part series on it.

    • You understand my thought well, Rich, and I really appreciate it.

      I made the Stairway book small, and in bite-sized pieces. I wanted people to be able to rest after a short chapter, and contemplate. To actually think through the story Jesus is telling in Matthew 5, for the first time after having read it a million times.

      And then to really want to read it all again, once the fresh outlook on a familiar, boring cliche has been birthed in their minds. What you have said here is exactly what I was hoping for. Thanks!

      The problem with writing philosophical books is getting people to see philosophy as fun. MHB has proven to be, for me, a fantastic place to interact with a self-selected group of smart people who care about writing their thoughts well, and who like to think about deep things. Still, I have to hold back, for one thing because it’s not my site, and I would never intrude and cause Tracy trouble, if I can avoid it.

      That being said, I have been a little bold over there, sometimes, as you noticed, when warranted. It is wonderful when people like yourself, lophatt and musings reply and develop a conversation that is genuine philosophy, topics most people have no capacity to take on, much less desire. (Incidentally, I laughed out loud when I read your recent back-and-forth with fishandroaches. That guy is sharp, and funny, and you too.)

      So thanks for everything Rich. It’s great to share ideas with people who understand them.

      I know that in two places the way I force the reader to look at the strange and difficult challenge Jesus sets out for us will be hard (gehenna and sexuality) for people in our time. My whole approach might be troubling for some, but those two things especially so. But it shouldn’t be.

      Throughout the Bible, the hand represents our works, and the eye is the window of the soul, our use of the mind. When Jesus says we must take control of these things piecemeal, lest He do it to us all at once in “gehenna,” it should not be so hard to comprehend. I’ve gone through plenty of gehenna, trying to clean up my act in life. It is Hell on Earth–but worth it.

      Likewise with the idea that we are all expected to have “sex lives,” that having a girlfriend or boyfriend is by definition a question of sexual behavior; that celibacy is unnatural. All our media simply assume this. It seems in this era insane to question that assumption–but that is exactly what Jesus is doing. Do we take him at face value, or just assume that he isn’t up with the times, which are by definition better than those dusty old days? But Romans were sodomizing anything with a lower social status, all the time, when Jesus lived. (The HBO series Rome portrayed the pre-christian morality perfectly, if you have the stomach for such depictions. I watched the whole thing on DVD, via Netflix.) They might not have invented sex-change operations, those Romans, but they were pretty up on all the rest of the range of perversion. “Dusty old days,” indeed.

      To see the Beatitudes as a process, a stairway, is important, but I also argue that we are growing on each of the “steps” forever. So the promises that come with each of them are also things we attain here and now, but also grow into continuously–unless we refuse to do the work, that is, volunteer for little bits of gehenna this side of Eternity, all the time–for our own good. And in this New Civilization, where we are all entitled to comfort and security, from cradle to grave, that’s simply unthinkable.

      That’s our great challenge, and in a sense my greatest challenge in spreading the word about the book: it’s awfully hard, this work that “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild” demands of us. Meek and Mild, my ass! His yoke might turn out to be easy, as He claims, but first you have to put it on!

      Of course, I can’t talk about all of these things at MHB, so I’m glad you visited here, Rich, for this other kind of chat.

  3. Thanks. I can’t hang with the MHB top tier philosophers, but I am there to learn. Some of your exchanges are quite hysterical. For some reason when I read them, they are so dripping with an old world civility that my inner reading voice slips into a British accent and I can almost picture the object of your reply getting slapped across the face with the back of a glove, while you take a pinch of snuff of course. Ha! Quite an imagination. By the way, I noticed the map of Ireland behind you on the Avatar. Have you been to the motherland? Just thinking about the place makes my mouth water for some bacon and cabbage, or beef and guiness stew. Traveling to the Burren you can see the thousands of stone walls built for lack of anything else to do(so I was told) during the famine. Did you know the population of Ireland never recovered from the famine, and the transportation? I have some Irish in me, and an Irish name, so I had to go. The place calls out to your DNA you know. I had a trip planned whilst stationed in England, but the war festivities of the early 90’s had other plans. It took me 13 years to get back and a week just wasn’t enough.
    Anyway, back to reality. Jesus as meek, and mild. This was the image I was taught my whole life. Its really a crock isn’t it? All the movies show him like that, and speaking so Godly. Did God come here in the form of a man, so he could act like a God? Of course there were the miracles, but I think the writers like Mathew wrote to get the point across, of course we don’t get every word Jesus said in three years. He certainly didn’t just speak when he had something extremely profound to say. Writing was either done on what? papyrus or copper, clay tablet?. Not a lot of time or space to get every word down, but being Gods word we must have all we need. I guess we will find out his true demeanor soon enough.

    • I have been to Ireland, a long time ago, and it is everything you say. I would love to return, and as you say, a week is not enough. It is a sad history you feel there, but a joyful place; they feel the loss of those who fled, but are proud of the influence their exiles have had all over the world.

      You are quite correct that Jesus was a friendly human being, even though He was also God. He made friends. Friendly people laugh, tell jokes, tease, make funny faces, roll around on the floor with the dog, tickle the little kids until they squeal. Why has Christianity never portrayed Him like that? Everyone loved Him. If He were this austere, cold fellow the paintings depict, one wonders how He could have attracted crowds. Yet, as Bivin does such a good job at explaining in Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, there were lots and lots of itinerant teachers in those days. If you wanted to follow a teacher, it was a matter of committing your life, and the Author of life itself certainly would embody all the joy of living the original creation envisioned, even while being very tough in terms of moral requirements of how to live life He had built into the fabric of that creation. The combination would be infectious. He’d be attractive and a joy to be around while at the same time being scary in His authoritativeness.

      This ties in to your idea about all His words not being written. Biven argues that teachers in those days repeated their lessons to their disciples repeatedly, for years, until they remembered. Also, everyone had memories we in our day would regard as impossibly good. They all remembered His lessons, and when it came time to write them down, they could use poetic license to tell the truth of what He was teaching, and get it just right, for the audience they were writing to. Of course, that audience is us, too, and the Holy Spirit guided those choices.

      It’s all really fun to know about, and I feel sorry for those who never learned about these things, or don’t care to know.

      • What also amazes me is the presence one must have felt around Jesus. How could he turn off being God? I don’t think he could. How could the rich man who would not sell his fortune and give it away not feel, or see it, nor the Pharisees. I can only surmise that it must be part of the stairway as you would call it. I think we all must be born with it(the ability to see as I said), but it is beaten out of us by the life we chose. I wonder if it is true that even slaves sang in the fields, since they did not chose their slavery, but chose to be happy regardless. I find it interesting that some of the poorest people on earth are always smiling in pictures. I remember when I was a kid, I would smile, even if sheepishly when someone familiar approached. It was nothing I could control, and at some point, that just stopped. That must have been when I was finally free. I took off the yoke of my parents, but failed to put on the yoke of Christ. I like the idea in the book of this purification, whether forced, or voluntary. It stands to reason that one could not exist in eternity with all of this baggage. It would be offensive to God. Pack light for Gehenna, and hope you have a real smile on I guess.
        I cannot for the life of me understand these transhumanists who would want to live in this state forever. I am not looking to check out early myself, but thousands of years of this could only lead to lunacy. The long lifespans of Genesis must have been a result of traveling light through life. Same with all the lies we discuss on the other blog, they weigh heavy sometimes.

  4. Dear Patrick,

    I did not see another way to contact you so I hope that you’ll see this. Plus, I didn’t want to leave this comment there since I was concerned it was off-topic and might derail the conversation there.

    First, I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your participation at Prof Tracy’s blog. You always bring up the conversation a few notches. Second, thank you, thank you for the response to “Mark”. I discovered him about a year ago commenting on the blog, “A Different Perspective”. I know it’s the same person because he played the same notes there.

    In regards to the subject of education, I thought I would share a blog with you (although you may already know of it). It’s http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/
    She is a lawyer who started digging in to Common Core and its roots. Talk about an eye opener. You can start reading at any point and then click to links she provides to begin filling in the details. I once sent this link to someone who said “it looks interesting but it’s so detailed and complicated”. (facepalm). Common Core is diabolical and it’s been a long time in planning and it’s been “defeated” once during Slick Willy’s tenure. But, as very few of us understand, evil is patient and thinks long-term. I hope you’ll take a look there. I think you might like to participate there also.

    Finally, I bought your book, “The Stairway to Heaven” a few weeks ago. I have not read it yet as I had just before that begun reading Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones’ two volume set on the Beatitudes.

    • Thank you, Gwen, for all your kind words. I hope my amateur, layman’s interpretation of Matthew 5 does not strike you as absurd after finishing the work of a trained expert. I fly by the seat of my pants much of the time.

      About Mark, I almost always bite my tongue, and remain silent, but sometimes I feel that the other readers need someone to place him in perspective. I’m glad when people like you say they appreciate that. Thanks.

      There are so many subjects to keep up with. Thanks for the web site link. I did not know of it. I live in Indianapolis, and am acquainted with Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle, who worked so hard to overturn Common Core in this state, and became nationally known because of it. They are just suburban Moms who were blindsided by this, but fought through all the facepalms as they tried to awaken people to what is happening. You’d love them. Michelle Malkin has written about their effort, glowingly.

      I spend a lot of effort over at Dr. Tracy’s site because it is so valuable, and such a high quality of conversation, and I want it to be as good as it can be, so I try to comment in a way that does what you say: bring it up a few notches. It is always lovely to have someone notice, and say so. Thank you. He has such a lively crowd that I spend more time adding to that place than tending this one.

      All the best!

  5. Now I don’t like to sound paranoid, but I have watched this smartphone saturation of the last few years with great disdain, and have resisted. Yesterday I was perusing the phones on verizons website thinking that my 4 year old Samsung convoy would not last forever(logged into my account), but feeling lucky that it was still working fine. Today, much to my surprise while mid text that very phone blinked out(full charge on the batt) as if a switch had been turned, and with it I will text no more.

    I can’t help but know that these phones will be used as a primary tool in our enslavement, and to transmit my whereabouts 24/7, and will be our front row seat to the coming deception. Why else would I see people everywhere for the last three or four years who have no job, money, even a car, be allowed to have such a wonderful gadget? What really irks me is that I actually have to pay the extra $480 per year to have it, but the government just creates more money with the stroke of the keys to pay for the 92 million people not in the workforce. Verizon only has eight, count’em eight non smart phones left for purchase. So anyway, I took the free Iphone. What the hell, I can’t stop what’s coming anyway.

    Its been a little boring over at MHB with little more than the communists, and of course the never ending assault on the blonde race. Maybe you could drum up some real fire and brimstone over here, maybe talk about what those chemtrails are really for. By the way, I saw a James Tracy article reposted over on HenryMakow.com(formerly save the males). Kind of surprised me. Not much feedback on it over there. I like some of Henry’s articles, just some mind you.

    • I agree with you, Rich, that the MHB world has slowed down. And annoying commenters are indeed seeming to dominate, or at least fill the space more than I’d like. Tracy has generally done a good job keeping it interesting in the past. Speaking of the past, the columns of mine he has published there he has always asked me to write. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote one unsolicited, and asked him if he’d like to print it. I will print it here, now, for you, in case he does not wish to do so himself.

      As for me making this place of my own vibrant, I really want to, but time is so troubling a problem. I just don’t have enough of it. It bothers me. I keep thinking about it, though.

  6. Patrick,
    I woke up this morning with my mind drifting to a place I no longer want to be. It then hit me that I was drifting again. I wasn’t praying, I was going it alone. So I prayed, and then I said the Lords prayer, and I stumbled, thinking I had missed something and it was too short. I consulted my bible, but it was all there, I hadn’t missed anything(Heck, I have known it since I was a little kid). I kept on reading down through the verses as often happens and hit the brakes very soon at Mathew 6, 22-23. I can’t quote scripture chapter and verse, neither will I lie and say I have read the whole bible, let alone understand it all, but I don’t believe it was an accident.
    Mathew 6, 22: The light of the body is the eye: If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body be full of light. 23: But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

    Another version replaces single with sound? Is Jesus talking about thoughts when He talks about the “eye” in this passage? The whole thing took me back to “Stairway” and your thoughts on Mathew 5, 27-30.

    • God can always use our random thoughts, and our specific pleadings too, to get our thoughts about one verse that is nagging us to connect with a different one, and build a theory that actually works even if the specifics of the original impulse are not quite what we thought. It is the brilliance of how He talks to us.

      This may be the case in your example of Matt 6:22.

      In the Stairway book I reference the great work of David Bivin, Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus. Since I’m completely uneducated about the subject, I can only take the book at face value, and it sounds true to me. He says that the almost impossible to understand verses in the New Testament only sound that way because they ARE. The reason for this, he says, is because those books weren’t written in Greek, but in Hebrew, and we never received the original source manuscripts. So he back-engineered the Greek text to a literal word-for-word version of a Hebrew text, and the impossible to understand verses came to be easy–because they are well known Hebrew idioms.

      In this case, while the “eye” thing makes no sense in Greek–and thus the English translators had no idea what to make of it–it was as natural to a Hebrew speaker at the time as when we ourselves talk about someone “kicking the bucket.” The translators have always been left holding an empty bag, which they tried to fill with something that might make sense to their own way of thinking.

      I use the NASB, which renders it “If your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” The King James guys, having no idea what was going on with the Greek verse, grasped around desperately, and settled on “single.” The NAS guys had the same desperation, and came up with “clear.” Does either one make any sense? Both sets of translators were really smart. Experts. It’s the “original” Greek where the problem lies: it makes no sense in the context. The paragraph has to do with what our priorities are. Laying up “treasures.” The translators tried to shoehorn meaning into a meaningless verse, helping God to get it right.

      But if the verse was originally written in Hebrew, it would have said: “If you are generous,” which makes perfect sense, in the context.

      Likewise, verse 23. The KJV says “evil,” the NASB says “bad,” but any Hebrew reader would have heard the verse telling them, “If you are miserly…”.

      Old people don’t go around kicking buckets, but they DO “kick the bucket.” You just have to know it’s an idiom.

      We live in a time unlike any other, where answers like these are easy for anyone to find, if they can be bothered to do it. It is truly a tragedy that so few use the internet for the search for truth.

      Thanks, Rich, for your conversation.

  7. I have been asking questions to search engines all these years and never thought to simply type in chapter and verse. A virtual waterfall of interpretation. I however, appreciate your astute answer. Thank you.
    When I saw the word single, I tried to think in the old English, and came up with focus(ed), or even single minded, as in focus on the reward in heaven, as opposed to evil, or not focused (too concerned with the rewards of this world). I don’t think I was too far off. Perhaps this is case of being pregnant with meaning as you mentioned in How the West was Lost. However, you’re example of generous and miserly is not lost on me either. As my day unfolded I have found the meaning of the verses. Again, thanks for the response, and the help.

    On a side note, did you ever watch “Deadwood”. I really liked some of the dialogue in that show. It took a while to get on the same page with language in that show. I think they had to have some pretty intelligent actors to keep up with the script.

    • I loved that show, and hated that they cancelled it. I watched many of the commentary features (I don’t watch TV, only discs of shows I wish to see, via Netflix), and one in particular shows the writer, David Milch, actually composing dialogue. He was thinking out loud, and his staff was typing it into a computer as he did it. He was sprawled on the floor, reviewing the words he’d just come up with, on a big screen. He’d change them. Over and over. All in the strange dialect for these reprobate people he was depicting; very flowery and long, then equally flowery but briefer; always vile and filled with piss and vinegar. Finally, we’d see the scene as it was televised–and it was all the way stripped down. He’d gotten it exactly right by the end. He could think like those horrible people thought–but not capture the idea perfectly the first time out of the box. That’s why the language was so wonderful, even if we can’t approve of people talking that way. It was just right, to capture the time and place.

      It’s why I love Boardwalk Empire, in a slightly different way. Capturing a time and place, even if evil, is helpful, I think, depending on our motivation in doing so.

      I could talk about that show all day.

  8. I often wondered if Milch was trying to combine Victorian propriety with a frontier rawness. At any rate, it was different, and different is good. I never watched commentary as I had to return the discs to my Dad so he could loan them to another family member. I no longer have pay TV and stick with the streaming Netflix, and rent discs occasionally. It must be tough for a guy like Ian McShane, how do you ever top Al Swearingen? I also always wondered if Daniel Day Lewis created that incredibly spellbinding early New York Accent in Gangs of New York, or if he was directed to do so. It makes me wonder what the accent was like in old NY in a young USA. Language, and dialect can change quickly I would bet. I can still hear the New York in my Fathers voice after 25 years in the west, while I would bet mine only surfaces occasionally.

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