Radical Agenda S05E029 – Easter Worshippers

I’m not a Christian. Mom tried to do the Catholic thing. Didn’t take.

I spent a lot of years as one of these obnoxiously hostile atheists. I had every anti-religion cliche down pat. I would see news stories about declining religious affiliations, and celebrate mankind’s slow crawl from the dark days of superstition.

Then I became a libertarian, and ultimately, an anarchist. I found so much overlap between the two ideas (or lack thereof, perhaps), that I thought I finally had it all figured out. I thought I was smarter than everybody, and of course, I was, but not for the reasons I had imagined.

Interestingly, it didn’t make me any happier to have these supposed answers. This, I theorized, was because the world around me, and all the people in it, were still stuck in the darkness of superstition. It has been said after all, that it is no measure of mental health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

In recent years, I found my political ideas changing. As the world began to drift away from religion, and away from the order the State imposed, I was shocked to find that matters had not improved. I saw riots become commonplace, violence escalate, sex become less satisfying, and drugs become more painful than magical. Whereas I had once sought only freedom, peace, gratification, and novelty, I now wanted order, meaning, connection, and stability.

During one profoundly dark moment of my own, one which nearly killed me, I got an email from the person who was the subject of that night’s depressive episode. Prior to the tragic dissolution of our romance, she and I had contemplated joining a church for the sake of the children we were planning to have. I was excited by the idea. I thought it would be nice to have that sense of community which I had lost so long ago. I thought it would be helpful in raising our children to be upright and decent people. I romanticized the traditions, and looked forward to reconnecting with an important part of the history of my people.

But strictly speaking, I was no less an atheist. I didn’t believe Christ died for my sins. I didn’t believe that any omnipotent, omniscient, force was guiding mankind, and if one was, he was doing a very poor job, it seemed.

The email I mentioned, contained a link to a video of Jordan Peterson. It was a lengthy interview where he talked about Myth, Truth, Science, and Religion, and it was my first introduction to this now notorious figure of the Alt Lite, or the so called “Intellectual Dark Web”. People raise legitimate concerns about Dr. Peterson, I am aware of these things, and I am not holding him up as a god here, but we’ll spend some time talking about his words, because they are insightful for the purposes of today’s message.

I didn’t watch it at the time, because I was too busy trying to work up the nerve to end my life. I failed, again, sadly, and after a few days of recovery I decided to give it my attention.

He had a very interesting take on Christianity, which ran contrary to my prior atheistic conceptions of it.

For most of my life I had conceptualized all religions as beginning and ending with intentional deception. A giant scam to compel obedience and control the behavior of its unwitting dupes. One which had led to senseless wars, economic catastrophe, torture, rape, and any other social ill one might see fit to add to such a list.

Peterson saw it as pretty much the exact opposite. Truth was the whole entire point of the belief system. I found this to be bizarre, given my long held beliefs, but his manner of speaking made me certain of his superior intelligence, and I was desperate for some comfort, given my recent effort to check on this supposed afterlife. So I listened intently as he explained…

Now, Christianity really starts to play around with exactly what the hell the soul is. And they, you know, the ideas come out in very bizarre ways. And like, one of the most bizarre ways is that Christianity makes the assumption that the word of God that pulls order out of chaos at the beginning of time — so logos– is the thing that’s Christ, you know, so many eons later. They’re the same things.

It’s like, what the hell does that mean?

Well, it’s like, if you embody the immortal soul properly, you’re the thing that generates order from chaos, or sometimes the reverse. You make– you know, you’re the transforming agent that sits at the middle of order and chaos. 

And the Christians figure out that this logos thing is very much associated with articulated truth, articulated truth. 

But one of the things that Jung recognized was that the core doctrine of Christianity, in some sense, is the truth buttresses you most thoroughly against the vicissitudes of being. That’s your salvation, the truth, the spoken truth.

It’s not– So you might say, well, people say– Christians say, well, if you believe in Christ you’re saved. Well, what do you mean by belief exactly? You say Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And you say, I believe that. Just because you say that, doesn’t mean you believe it at all. It has almost no bearing on what you believe. The question is, how do you act? And the fundamental question that’s under all that is, is your speech true? Now, then you might ask well, what does true mean? Well, and the answer to that would be twofold. What are you trying to do with your speech?

There’s two things you can do with it. One is you can manipulate reality so that it does what you want it to do. And that’s the sort of speech that people use when they’re trying to get what they want. The problem with that is that there’s no way that they can actually know what they want. They just hypothesize what it is that they want based on some theory, and then they try to manipulate the world so that they get that. But it’s an unsatisfying venture. And often, when they do get it, it’s not good anyways. So it involves a kind of falsity of speech.

The other way is to try to say what you mean and think and perceive as clearly as you possibly can, always, and see what happens. Now, the story that underlies Christianity– and it’s not only Christianity, but it’s Christianity that I’m most familiar with– is that. The rule is live in accordance with the truth and see what happens. So in the Sermon on the Mount, for example, Christ basically says– set your sights on allegiance to God. It’s like, whatever the highest value is, we’ll say. And act in a manner that’s concordant with that. So that’s your goal. Then pay attention to it here and now, your best strategy for the future.

Then you might say, well, prove that. Well, that that’s when the question starts to become existential. It’s like, well, you can’t prove it. You have to try it.

That’s like Kierkegaard’s leap of faith. You cannot tell if this works unless you do it. And that’s a commitment.

It’s like, those two ways of being, like the manipulative way of being. That’s an adversarial way of being archetypally. It’s Manipulative It’s got the lie at its core. That’s completely different than this path. So it’s a hypothesis. Well, it’s a hypothesis that Jung did a good job of elaborating, although you know, even with Jung it’s not fully articulated. He’s still saturated in image to a large degree. But no wonder– it’s very complicated to make this sort of thing fully articulated.

You read Solzhenitsyn. You think, OK, why did the Soviet Union become the absolute hellhole that it was? Solzhenitsyn says because everyone lied. It’s like, oh, isn’t that interesting? Well, that isn’t a hypothesis that you hear every day.

So then you think about Freud, and you think, well, what’s the major cause of mental illness? Repression. Well, that’s a lie, fundamentally. I mean, Freud’s played around with it to some degree. So it’s sort of like, it’s more like lying by omission actually than lying by commission. But it doesn’t matter. It’s still lying.

Jung says the same thing. It’s like, oh, well, wouldn’t it be interesting if the fundamental root of psychopathology was the lie, the fundamental root of political psychopathology is the lie. It’s like, well, what if that’s what’s demolishing your life? People say, well, people think– especially when they’re nihilistic and they become destructive– that the universe is sort of– it’s an unfair and arbitrary place and it’s basically bent on their random destruction while they suffer. It’s something like that. Yeah. Right. OK. What do you do under those circumstances? That’s the question.

Well, one potential answer is twist the thing so that you can maybe get what you hypothetically want out of it. The other is rely on your perceptions and your capacity for accurate representation. Communicate that. And take your chances. It’s like, who’s right? Well, that’s the battle between good and evil. Who’s right? It’s a continual battle.

Now, I am certain that there are Christians in the audience who are screaming at their devices with complaints of misinterpretation. I was a guest on a libertarian production over the weekend called Questioning Authority, which is definitely worth listening to, if you haven’t already. The host is a Christian, and he objected to my brief summation of this by saying it is not a works based salvation. Take from it what you will, but that’s beyond the scope of what I mean to communicate today.

I mentioned at the beginning that my mother tried her best to raise my brother and I as Catholics. She compelled us to go to church, and a religious study class two days a week. Like I said, it didn’t take. I later found myself in jail, where I spent my 20th birthday, perhaps as a result of that failure.

In jail, I decided to read the bible, cover to cover. I had enough time on my hands, but I found it tedious. I went to church during that stint, and didn’t find much more inspiration there, especially when I realized that most of the inmates in attendance just used it as another avenue to traffic in contraband.

But Peterson’s interpretation spoke to me. The verbal talents which make this production possible have obviously been refined a great deal over the years, but I was not unaware of them in my youth. I could always talk circles around people, and usually outsmart them. Since I saw religion and so much else of the world as fundamentally dishonest things, it didn’t seem like such a problem to lie and cheat. So I would use these talents manipulatively to get what I thought I wanted, which was usually drugs and sex.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this led me to tremendous suffering, and the worst sort of suffering at that. I’ve suffered more recently to be sure, but I felt a certain redemptive quality to those hardships which dulled the sting. I could not say the same, for the horrors I saw in my youth.

Upon my release from the custody of the Suffolk County Corrections system, I couldn’t say I had learned much, and I certainly hadn’t had any sort of religious awakening. I knew I didn’t want to go back to jail though, so even when I did run afoul of the law, which was not uncommon, I did what I could to avoid creating complaining witnesses. I was no poster child for sobriety to be certain, but I abandoned some of the more troublesome and expensive drug habits which had led me to my worst behaviors.

Alcohol, you may have heard, is legal though, and we got better acquainted. I don’t mean to sing the praises of such a caustic substance, but I will credit it with teaching me something important during that time. As I became a more habitual drinker, I found it extremely difficult to keep track of lies. I would blurt out whatever came to my mind, and manipulating people proved more difficult as drinking became a daily habit.

The booze was surely taking a very costly toll on my body and mind, but it was during this time that I attempted to adopt a policy I’d later come to understand as radical honesty. I made a lot of mistakes, I lost a lot of friends, and I ultimately ended up back in jail, this time for drinking and driving, but the one benefit I did get out of this was that the relationships I had which could tolerate my alcoholism were more meaningful and satisfying. People rightly saw me as a flawed individual prone to mistakes, but they knew I was honest, and this made me easier to forgive.

Upon my second release from jail, I tried with limited success to moderate my drinking. I kept the lesson of radical honesty, though. I had discovered libertarianism while studying for my legal defense, and while that school of thought has its flaws, it did lead me to contemplate morality in a way my religious studies never managed to. For the first time, I cared about being righteous.

I found a sort of power in this. I became an activist, and met a lot of truly amazing people. I started a YouTube channel, and later, a blog. Libertarianism, you might say, occupied the space in my mind where religion usually resides. I was an ideologue, and a passionate one at that. I found a better outlet for my talents, in advocating for political and social change.

During that philosophical journey, I found many of my fellow activists to be corrupt and dishonest people. They attacked me relentlessly, and many of these attacks were lacking in merit. This impacted me in many ways, but I refused to change course because popularity wasn’t my goal. I was in search of truth and righteousness.

I was frustrated with my lack of recognition in comparison to so many people I saw as fundamentally corrupt, but as I stubbornly adhered to my course, I slowly but surely built up a base of what could only be described as fanatical support. While others made money through traffic volume and advertising revenue, I found people who believed in me and were willing to make regular contributions to finance my writing and video production.

As time went forward, I watched some of my adversaries get exposed as frauds. Others found more lucrative movements to involve themselves in, and began to advocate for different ideas. I simply continued saying what I perceived to be the truth, and as the days, weeks, months, and years passed by, I gained more support and more financial rewards for my efforts.

I’ll stop short of making this an autobiography, and just say that as I watched the video of Peterson explaining his conceptualization of Christianity, I realized that I had at some point decided to follow the path he described. I said what I believed to be true, even in the face of adversity, and though I suffered, I always managed to find a path forward. Though far from luxurious, this path was far more tolerable than the hell I had created by trying to speak and act manipulatively.

Many of the ideas I had espoused were deeply flawed, to be sure. They had to be revised over time, and through trial end error, listening, reading, and other experiences, I did revise them. I continued to say what I perceived to be true, even if I had to contradict something I had previously said. This was tumultuous at times, but sustainable, and spiritually rewarding.

I lacked words to describe it at the time, but not long ago I heard Jared Howe of So To Speak, proudly syndicated at ChristopherCantwell.com, describe himself a “cultural Christian”. When he said it, that clicked in my mind immediately. “That’s it”, I thought. I might have trouble contorting my worldview to believe in the historical accuracy of Christianity’s religious texts, but I had adopted their forms, and my satisfaction with life improved dramatically as a result.

I found myself in jail once again in 2017, this time in Virginia. While there, I read a book by Rodney Stark titled “God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades”. I’m not sure who sent it to me, but if you’re listening, thank you. “The Crusades” is one of these ridiculous memes the atheists so frequently use to demonize Christians. As I read the book, and learned about the many aggressions the Christians had suffered before finally rising up to fight back the Muslim hordes, I became disgusted by so many of the obnoxious words which had previously fallen from my ignorant mouth.

Another book by the same author was likewise sent to me by one of you. It was titled “How The West Won” and I was amazed by how central to our civilization the Catholic Church had been. In particular, the Catholic theologians, and their devotion to science really stood out to me. I always thought of Christianity, and all other religions, as being fundamentally anti-Science, but put against the backdrop of what I had learned from Jordan Peterson, this made a great deal of sense to me, now that the scales had fallen from my eyes.

I also read a great deal about the Jews while I was in jail. It turns out, they didn’t have the same devotion to the truth as the Christians. That seemed to stand in stark contrast to the myth of “Judeo Christian” culture which dominates so much of our discourse today. Many conservatives had rightly pointed out the incompatibility of Christianity and Islam, and that seems too obvious to need explaining today, but those same conservatives would repeat this “Judeo Christian” phrasing so often, and as I learned more about the Jews I came to hear this as “False Truth”.

Jews were not just people of the Old Testament who hadn’t bothered to read the next chapter. They had a rather lengthy continuation of their religious teachings called the Talmud, and in this text, lying was explicitly endorsed, repeatedly. Jesus was not just denied, but mocked and reviled. Boiled in excrement, as it were. To them, Mary was no virgin, but rather, a whore.

Judeo Christian, indeed. Even as a sin soaked infidel in desperate need of a lengthy confession, I figure I must be more of a Christian than anybody who repeats that revolting phrase.

Through these revelations, so many things came into focus. Jews pushed for separation of church and state, abortion, birth control, homosexuality, the eradication of Christian symbols from all of our society. The Jewish press demonized religious people and institutions. They relentlessly undermined the institution of marriage in so many ways. The hostility came to dwarf that of the “racism” we whites were so often falsely accused of. Their latest assault, transgenderism, makes a mockery of not only religion, but even the most primitive understandings of science.

Why?

Another thoughtful explanation is provided by Peterson in the same video.

You could say that the image of Christ is the West’s attempt to most accurately represent the path of being that constitutes success across an infinite set of dominance hierarchies. That’s essentially– or that’s it that’s at least one way of looking at it. Now, there are figures– hero figures, you know– because Christ is like a hero, but he’s sort of a meta hero, right? He’s the amalgam of many, many, many, many heroes. But the hero has key attributes. Like the hero, for example, is always encountering chaos and defeating it. Well, that’s the human path.

You know, we encounter chaos. It’s often a snake. Well, that also points to its deep evolutionary roots.

So there’s a anthropologist, Lynne Isbell, who wrote a book a while back called The Tree The Serpent In Vision– I think I’ve got that right. And she was interested in why human beings can see so well. Because we can see really well. The only things that can see better than us are birds of prey. And she thought, well, why would a primate like us have such good vision? So she went around the world. She thought– she knew also that we were particularly good at detecting the kind of camouflage patterns that characterize snakes, especially in the lower half of our visual field. And she was kind of curious about that. And then she thought, well, you know, maybe we were preyed upon by snakes. And you know, maybe we had to develop that vision because we were preyed upon by snakes, like, you know, 60 million years ago, way back when we weren’t even people, which is about how old snakes are. It’s like 60 million years or something like that.

So then she went around the world and she correlated the acuity of primate vision with the prevalence of predatory snakes. It’s like, nice correlation. So she thought oh, human beings and snakes co-evolved. Well, so what gives you vision? Snakes. That’s what it says in Genesis.

What else gives you vision? Fruit. That’s also right. That’s why we have color vision. Right? What makes you self-conscious if you’re a man? Women. Right? That’s Eve. So you know, the stories in the Bible, the pre-flood stories, they are really old. We have no idea how old they are. And like they’re extremely old. And you might say, well, in story form, well, like, actual story form– god only knows how well they are– but in terms of behavioral pattern, they could easily be 60 million years old.

It’s like, the thing that defeats the snake gets the women. And you imagine that in tree dwelling primates, say. Well, up comes the snakes. It’s like, the first guy who figured out how to drop a stick on a snake, he was very popular.

So you know, so the snake what’s happened is that religion– so what’s happened as far as I can tell is that the systems that our brain evolved to detect basically rapacious predators. It’s not just snakes, but it be like reptiles with teeth, predators in the dark, things under the water, like crocodiles. That’s like– that’s the lurking anomaly, right? It’s the thing you have to contend with. And it’s actually a monster. People say monsters aren’t real. It’s like, it depends on your time frame. If you add up and average all the predatory monsters across 60 million years, you get a monster. OK. So the amalgam of monster is a representation of the class of predatory stimuli. That might be a way of looking at it.

So we’re very sensitive to that because we were prey animals. OK, then our cortex leapt up our level of abstraction. So then that same system started to detect anomaly as such. It wasn’t just the predatory thing that was outside the dominance hierarchy. It was the abstract thing that was outside the system of ideas. It’s the same thing. And so that became symbolized by the chaos monster.

And we can easily throw that on our enemies. It’s like, well, who are you? You’re outside the hierarchy. Oh, you’re a chaos monster. Well, yes you are. That’s not a arbitrary prejudice. It’s like, you are absolutely a chaos monster. Then the question is what do you do with chaos monsters. One answer is kill them. The other answer is get their gold. That’s a better answer. Because there’s information in chaos. And we’re information scavengers. And that’s our niche. It’s like, outside what we know, there’s information. You might die retrieving it. But if you don’t die, you’re like a major hero. Yeah. That’s right.

Described this way, Christianity is not mere story telling. It describes, in a sense, our survival mechanisms. Perhaps more than that, our advancements, not only culturally, but genetically, right down to our vision, and our ability to detect predators.

The people who attack our religious symbols and institutions, primarily Jews and their pawns, they always feed us this nonsense about being inclusive. Interesting theory. We often reject this, and for good reason, but there is an element of truth to it. They don’t want you to recognize things as being outside the hierarchy. In fact, they don’t want you to have a hierarchy, hence the communism and other egalitarian nonsense. They don’t want you to recognize, the chaos monster, the other, the predator, the enemy.

They are not telling you to move beyond superstition and advance, they are undermining your most primitive survival instincts,

They don’t want you to emulate the hero archetype that succeeds across the myriad dominance hierarchies. They want you to fail, they want you to die, they want you to stop reproducing yourselves, until there are none of you left.

They don’t do this by undermining facts, that’s too difficult. Instead, they undermine our stories.

I’m made to recall a piece from Vice News which I recently referenced in a prior episode, about Natalie Wynn of Contrapoints. Wynn is a transgender YouTuber who aims to “de-radicalize young, right wing men”.

Elle Reeve says to Wynn, “What makes your videos unique is that you are not obsessed with fact-checking every lie told by the President, or by a white supremacist, or a misogynist. That you look at the arguments undergirding their ideas and try to unpack those. Why did you decide to do that?

Wynn responds “Facts don’t matter to people as much as people think they do. People don’t believe because of facts and evidence. They believe things because they’re part of a story that they tell themselves, and so I guess part of what I’m doing is understanding those stories, and understanding psychologically, why are these stories being told?”

Reeve adds in post production: “Who sees themselves as the most rational guys in the room? Often, young white guys. Her primary targets”

Now, you might initially say that it would make sense that a tranny would not care much for facts. Facts are rather inconvenient to such types, after all. But this is a lesson we could afford to learn.

People don’t believe things because of facts. How many times have you laid out absolutely unassailable facts and evidence only to see the person you took the time to educate roll their eyes and cling to some story far more superstitious than anything the bible has to offer? I know I’ve wasted a lot of breath and keystrokes in this fashion. If facts mattered, James Fields would be free.

What this freak said about stories is absolutely true, and that speaks to the success Christianity had for so long. If you tried to explain the benefits of living a truthful life to most people they may or may not have the intellect to understand you, but if you give them a character, and a compelling story, and encourage them to emulate the character, this seems to fit better with the psyche of most people.

Likewise, if you wanted to destroy a people of truth and righteousness, it would not do you much good to tell them to be dishonest and wicked. Rather, you would flood their culture with stories that glorified degeneracy, crime, and deception.

While doing so, you would likely meet a great deal of resistance though. The people who had learned to embody courage, and truth, and decency from an older, better story, would speak out against what you were doing. They might even try to run out of the temple, or worse.

So to fully accomplish your aims, you would also have to exterminate any cultural reference to the archetypal character of their story.

You see that every day. Perhaps, like me, you participated in, and celebrated such efforts. Hopefully you too, see the folly of that today.

Something that really stood out to me this weekend, was how the media and politicians covered a series of terrorist attacks against Christian churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Recall that when Robert Bowers killed 11 Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the entire world seemed to rise and scream in a unified voice against the supposed evils of “anti-Semitism”. The President of the United States called it poison, and called on Americans to destroy those who wanted to destroy the Jewish people.

Recall that when Brenton Tarrant killed 50 people and injured 50 others by shooting up a mosque in New Zealand, the whole world was again mobilized against the “international terrorist threat” of White Nationalism. New Zealand’s female prime minister wore a hijab, and disarmed her countrymen, in the name of the attack. Barack Obama tweeted his support for the “Muslim community” and called on people the world over to stand against hatred.

Yet, when Muslim terrorists cause nine explosions at multiple churches, hotels and other locations in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing nearly 300 people and injuring hundreds more, the response was much more muted. President Trump did not call on Americans to destroy those who wanted to destroy Christians, only that “The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka.” Barack Obama did not express his solidarity with the Christian community, only the “tourists and Easter worshippers” who were attacked.

Ah yes, Easter worshippers. Praise our dear Lord Mr. Easter, and all of his bunnies with their cream filled chocolate eggs which we’ve stashed in the bushes for the children to find. Perhaps we can rename Notre Dame when it is rebuilt, as the Easter and Passover worshipping center, and this Christmas as we worship Santa Clause, we can try to remember the name of the country where this massacre took place. Or not, whatever.

I tried to go back to church in 2017, not long before Charlottesville. I was dating a girl who lived in Maryland at the time. I hadn’t been to church in years, but I had felt a calling to ever since I had discussed it with the love interest I had mentioned earlier. I was excited as we parked the car. I started sweating a little bit if I’m honest with you, and not because of the weather.

We went inside. Sat down in the second row of pews. I felt this flurry of emotions which I really don’t know how to describe, honestly.

When the pastor came out, he was a black man. He spoke with such a thick foreign accent that I could barely understand what the hell he was saying.

That feeling I can describe, using a very recent reference.

It felt a lot like watching Notre Dame burn…

 

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Christopher Cantwell comedian, writer, voice artist, and Patriot.

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