Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The humble cabbage

What the New Atheists Don’t See Theodore Dalrymple
To regret religion is to regret Western civilization.
In fact, one can write the history of anything as a chronicle of crime and folly. Science and technology spoil everything: without trains and IG Farben, no Auschwitz; without transistor radios and mass-produced machetes, no Rwandan genocide. First you decide what you hate, and then you gather evidence for its hatefulness. Since man is a fallen creature (I use the term metaphorically rather than in its religious sense), there is always much to find.
The thinness of the new atheism is evident in its approach to our civilization, which until recently was religious to its core. To regret religion is, in fact, to regret our civilization and its monuments, its achievements, and its legacy. And in my own view, the absence of religious faith, provided that such faith is not murderously intolerant, can have a deleterious effect upon human character and personality. If you empty the world of purpose, make it one of brute fact alone, you empty it (for many people, at any rate) of reasons for gratitude, and a sense of gratitude is necessary for both happiness and decency. For what can soon, and all too easily, replace gratitude is a sense of entitlement. Without gratitude, it is hard to appreciate, or be satisfied with, what you have: and life will become an existential shopping spree that no product satisfies.
A few years back, the National Gallery held an exhibition of Spanish still-life paintings. One of these paintings had a physical effect on the people who sauntered in, stopping them in their tracks; some even gasped. I have never seen an image have such an impact on people. The painting, by Juan Sánchez Cotán, now hangs in the San Diego Museum of Art. It showed four fruits and vegetables, two suspended by string, forming a parabola in a gray stone window.
Even if you did not know that Sánchez Cotán was a seventeenth-century Spanish priest, you could know that the painter was religious: for this picture is a visual testimony of gratitude for the beauty of those things that sustain us. Once you have seen it, and concentrated your attention on it, you will never take the existence of the humble cabbage —or of anything else—quite so much for granted, but will see its beauty and be thankful for it. The painting is a permanent call to contemplation of the meaning of human life, and as such it arrested people who ordinarily were not, I suspect, much given to quiet contemplation. Autumn 2007 Table of Contents


  1. What a hoot.

    A journal which is an unabashed apologist for global capitalism, or more accurately the western anti-"culture" of death, publishing an article lamenting the decline of religion.

    Western civilization was never ever about Real God but the drive to total power and control.

    Lewis Mumford told us all about that in The Pentagon of Power.

    It is also tragically ironic that this nonsense was published in a New York based journal. Why?

    Because New york is the leading edge centre of Western civilization and where the anti-"culture" is most "developed".

    And as if western religion, particularly Christianity, was the totality of religion any way. Even at its best it was only ever half-baked. It never really liked its great Realizers.

    Why do you think "jesus" was killed? He was an offense to the worldly powers of the time.

    Why were the great Illuminated saints nearly always, persecuted, jailed and even murdered? They were an offense to the worldly powers of the time, including the ecclesiastical "authorities".

    The Manhattan Institute (MI) sits squarely within the historical time-line of god-denying worldly powers-- the bottom line money changers.

    The money changers, for which the MI is a full on apoligist, now rule the entire world with devastating effect. Their temples dominate the sky-lines of every city in the world.

    The Process that is True Religion is just as much as an offense to the buttioned down square jawed dreadfully sane left brained talkers that infest the MI as it was to the powers that ruled throughout western his-story.

    Even more so the RADIANT living demonstration of Realized saints, yogis, mystics and sages.

    You find such Realizers anywhere near the MI or any of its "right"-thinking fellow travelling think tanks, or any of the endless left-brained talk-fests that they promote.

  2. When is a cabbage not a cabbage?

    When it has been genetically modified (perhaps with a gene from a Skunk---to drive away pests), and thus patented and thus owned by one of the corporations that subscribes to the Manhattan Institute's world-view. A totally god-less world-view predicated on the drive to total power and control.