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 Christianity and modernity

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PostSubject: Christianity and modernity   Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:57 am

Christianity seems to be the religion that is most consistently able to coexist with/in modernity. Heads of modern institutions, whether economic or political are easily able to profess to the Christian belief, indeed often must do so. Can this be read only as a historical product of Christianity's prevalence across the modern world?

It seems easy enough to assume this is the case. But a closer look at Islam and Judaism reveals that there is a closer link between Christinanity and modernity than mere accidental historical coincidence. Each of these other religious systems' belief structures adhere more strongly to the mythos of world-man-"God" division as fundamental and impassable. Islam and Judaism, the older forms of the otherwise common monotheistic heritage of Abraham/etc, both cohere within limit-points separating world from man, man from God and world from God. This creates a sort of isolation effect, a compartmentalizing of functional mechanisms within consciousness by providing not only for their separation but also a theoretical-symbolic framework that explains their possible co-relations. Man is separate from world, world is something other than man (e.g. not-soul, not-eternal); God is other than man or world, having created both and existing independently of both.

In terms of valuing activity this separates value from itself, creates distances within the sphere/s of possible valuations and their actualizations. These religious forms afforded the expansion of the entity 'man' in terms of its consciousness because of this effect of inner distancings, divisions and isolations. The mimesis required of the sufficiently self-aware consciousness (e.g. the human) necessitated the creation of images-ideas able to adequately encapsulate mimetic elements toward the end of societal regulation and maintenance. It may be the case the pre-Judaic/Islamic cultures, pagan or hellenistic or tribal, inserted their own inner distances among the conscious (types of) experiences, but never in a way that did away with the essential metaphysical core of these cultures (i.e. the mystical postulate of one-world, the human's essential ability to relate to/with every aspect of this world). An example is that the Underworld of the Greeks was still a part of this world, earth, as was Mount Olympus, and that the human could directly relate to/with these domains and the gods that inhabited them. With the advent of the Abrahamic tradition, this one-worldness was broken.

With Christianity an attempt is made to return to one-worldness, not as a regression but as a progression. Christianity posits the trinity-God that instantiates God directly into the mimetic symbolic relation/s: world-man-God: God as God, God as man (Christ), God as world (Holy Spirit). This latter being the inter-mediary principle filling in the regulatory gap between man-world which is not directly encircled already by man-God. The Christ principle being the inter-mediary between the man-God relation. So if we imagine the Judaic/Islam formulation as an equilateral triangle with three separate points, Christianity functions as an attempt to unite these points through creating new inter-relations.

Not only this, but Christianity instantiates a radical absolute pacifist refusal of violence by exposing the "sacrificial" violence at the heart of culture-society. We might side with Girard in how this violence represents-instantiates the "gap" created by the mimetic necessity for "representation and responsibility" to the human consciousness. These new means of valuation are more subjectively oriented than objectively, they proceed more directly from the subject first and its world-conditions (its being-in-the-world, e.g. its firstly being a condition of its world/s). In this sense Christianity does create the possibility for modernity, for the secularization of the values-relations internal to human conscious self- and social-experiencing. The bridging of the world-man-God relation could only come about after this relation was first explicated (the move from pagan-hellenistic to Abrahamic) and then later internally (re)united within itself through the move from Judaism/Islam to Christianity (e.g. Jesus and his death on the cross, which exposes the violence inherent to culture and posits radical non-violence, pacifistic acceptance as a way forward through this limit.)

So we can possibly see that modernity is a direct product of Christianity - but not just of any Christianity, of one become sufficiently removed from what it came-emerged from. Once enough time passed to allow for the Christian essence to flourish of its own accord, centers of its logics to develop and move into culturally central positions, this internal logic and potentiality of the Christian ideological system allowed for the progressive evolution of culture-society toward and into modernity. We can thus see Christianity as a condition of modernity, and perhaps even of post-modernity (although probably only indirectly). This latter may be due to the philosophical critique (e.g. "God is dead") that represents the limit-end of Christianity. This makes more sense once we see Christianity as the condition of modernity. Thus post-modernity's condition appears as two-fold: philosophical critique of the ideological core of Christianity/all religious thought-form (the attempt to free the subject unto-itself), and scientific objectivism that works directly to undermine the subjective basis of the religious thought-form. Under these two growing influences, of philosophy and science, the one working to free subjectivity and values-activity from externally-imposed and confining forms, the other working to undermine the very basis of subjectivity itself, we move into the truly post-Christian realm and see that the supposedly post-Christian secular modernity represented only a minor deviation from the Christian logic, or rather an originary inception-point indicating what was to come after it.

 

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:34 am

I thin that this is essentially correct, when we strip Christianity of all its dogmas and churches, and see the figure Jesus standing alone amidst his confused and inspired disciples. It is the challenge that Christ poses to those around him, to bear proudly their cross of matter, to be suspended onto the world and accept this world as what God gave them to bear, look to it as a glorious burden, that exceeds the other desert-religions in nobility. That said, I have to say in defense of Judaism that its mystical component of the Tree of Life encompasses this Christ-modus as the center of the microcosm, and explicates further all the factors and realms, higher and lower, that connect to it. I am interested also in where Christianity ends, has its limits -- Christ teaches us only about accepting and embracing, but nothing about exerting power. In kabbalah there stands a realm directly above the Christ or Sun center, called "Daath", knowledge, which is, unlike the stable self-love of divinity, fleeting and situational, requires a more alert mind to attain to, and evokes a very different sentiment -- one more in line with the 'power-lust' suggested by the will to power, but not so much in terms of beating others as to simply make use of opportunities.

This is what is lacking in Christianity by its very definition -- 'politics', the art of constructing a process of successful definitions -- to this end Christ still needed The Father -- he could not himself create the narrative. The kabbalist refuses to leave the narrative of his life entirely to the unknown, the greater, thr transcendental -- he wishes to initiate his consciousness into the realm of the Father, at least to stand between the Son and the Father -- perhaps as the Holy Ghost, if this is what this term means, which I doubt or rather simply do not known -- he draws more of the responsibility of the Father into himself than Jesus does, and finds with this a certain cruelty as well - we can not deny that the Father must have felt a delight in sacrificing his son for the greater good, for the success of the plan. The higher realms of the Tree of Life have much to do with for-seeing, with strategy, with seeing through the veils a normal view of temporality usually shrouds to world to us with.

In order then to move beyond modernity and its Christian roots, or to climb further, man must assume a little bit of this 'malice', which is only a produce of a will to increase responsibility, which in turn is the produce of a greater awareness of what it means to love. Jesus love was still purely blissful, in this sense, passive. The passion of the Christ, his suffering-- this is the result of his passivity. For activity is a great burden, the love of ones neighbors is lost, one is no longer understood -- one truly stands alone, and has to find delight in that.


 

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:05 pm

The problem seems to be how to seat a radical denial/revaluation of the world directly within the world. The appeal to the Father can perhaps be understood as failure to posit/value strongly enough in terms of the self-valuing activity of which one is and is ultimately traced back to and mapped upon the contingencies of the world. This more direct, world-centered valuing activity is not what Christ (directly) advocates, rather Christ adopts the image of the Father, the transcendent Other in which to ground his own revaluation potential, a potential which is nonetheless aimed directly at the world. Regardless of the means employed, Christ's aim is the world, the tangible actual human-world. And we might see that Christ had no choice but to make use of the Father God, the valued other, in order to make possible a new means of valuing. Christ made use of what was available to him and easily accessible to people at the time: the Judaic belief system. Perhaps the "abandonment" or "infidelity" at the heart of Christ's subservience to God the Father was a necessary infidelity. After all, Christ's aim was not his own enlightenment but that of humanity itself. Christ was willing to and did sacrifice his own potential for that of mankind generally.

We can see the God the Father principle as a direct metaphor for self-valuing activity: one gains access to a more "hidden", subterranean realm of valuation by "abandoning" oneself unto God, which is to say, valuing in terms of God, abandoning valuing in its present form for a new type of more "self-less" valuing, one disconnected from "self-focused" (bodily-instinctively speaking) valuing, the carnal animal sort of valuing that was (and still is) taking place naturally among humans, still a huge source of what the human and its world is/becomes. Christ proposed thus the spiritualization of "love" (valuing activity) through subjecting the more natural animal valuing activity to the image of the transcendent Father God, to the possibility of valuing in terms of this elevated other.

Of course this is a continuation of the Platonic movement toward the abstract/universal, toward conception oriented away from particular perceptive (including inner perceptive, the most salient/surface instincts, raw desires and passions toward the concrete experiential) facticity and more toward universalist-general mediation as what underlies the particular manifestation/s of drive/desire/intention. We can see how this moves from "self-focus" (animal environment-reactivity) to "other-focus" (internalized conscious representation mediated by a degree of temporal abstraction, and responsibility for this cosnciousness), which is really just to say that it moves from one sort of valuing, focusing to another. Incidentally this enables the creating of a "community of believers" united by more than mere geographic accident and conquest of war. This is the true ideological community united by faith, by a certain type of valuing. This may bear resemblance to the occult communities and their own sort of extra-societal organization and fidelity, but even if so Christ succeeded in bringing this sort of "esoteric" extra-societal communal-organization principle to the masses of humanity. Thus the threat to the Romans was that Christ made possible an extra-Roman social organization within the Roman culture itself. Christ took what was, before him, essentially a removed/hidden principle of intimate communal organization (a self-valuing formed into potent and potentializing relationships to the self-valuings of others) and made this accessible to mankind as a whole. No wonder Christianity has had such a powerfully transformative impact upon the world and its governing societies/nations/politics.

Christianity is still a powerfully threatening force to nationalistic-community organization, including where instantiated in the familial. Thus we see how modernist societies ally themselves with the Christian principle, watering it down and making themselves a function of it in terms of valuing. This is probably a naturally-arising survival method for society in the face of the radical Christian possibility. Either societies reject the Christian possibility for transformative re-valuation of communal bonds and relations, thus experiencing a reactive regression into their own alternate moves of self-valuation, or societies are unable to do this and thus become internally infected with the Christian ideology which, over time, transforms that society from the inside out, re-making it in light of the Christian possibility. And now that modernity has arisen atop the Christian pillar, we see a new "secular Christianity" as repeating this very activity which original Christianity undertook initially: modern secular society (e.g. secular Christianity) infecting or inspiring resistance to infection in the world's societies/nations. Whereas in the past we had Christian vs non-Christian conflict of war, now we have secular modernity replacing Christianity as the infecting principle either re-making societies from within (e.g. Europe, America) or inspiring radical opposition by societies (e.g. the Middle East). And because modernity (secular Christianity) is a new "negation"/sublimation and transformation of traditional Christianity, we see resistance to the spread of this newer form of modernity even among otherwise Christian nations and their people (e.g. America both acceps and rejects its growing influence/change at the hands of modernity/postmodernity).

Also interesting is a case like China, which still seems focused on resisting the traditional Christian principle while accepting at least in part its more evolved form of modernity. China trying to take a more nuanced approach to modernity by accepting certain aspects but not others, similarly to America but with more "full consciousness" of how and why this is done, whereas America's such reaction seems largely instinctual/unconscious. We can see it is likely that neither America nor China will be, in the end, successful in resisting the infection of modernity because each in its own way organizes only a partial resistance, rather than the more full resistance we see from the Middle East.

 

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"Since the old God has abdicated, I shall rule the world from now on." --Nietzsche

"Do you hold out hope, then?" ... "I hold out dignity." ... "She will need opiates before long, for the pain. She will cease being who she is." ... "Then I will love who she becomes."  --Penny Dreadful
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:51 pm

Where do you perceive the Chinese incorporating anything of the Christian principles at all? Perhaps you connect the notion of spiritual self-valuing more exclusively to Christianity than I would. Whereas I have much respect for the figure of Christ, I see his work more in terms of making the Greek idea(l) of man accessible to the lesser privileged, a means for slaves to come to respect themselves in their own terms. This capacity did exist before Jesus existed, it did in Athens, but also in India, and I would think in China as well, considering the amount of techniques originating in these areas aimed specifically at enhancing experience of the individual as a cosmos unto itself, and approaching the world blissfully and confidently in these terms. It was mostly the crude fate of the slaves of the Roman world that made such a notion impossible, which eventually led to a too great pressure, to end which an artifice was needed, a symbolic means to forge a fresh self-valuing.

In the Middle East of today, especially in the Islamic world, I see a more weak-willed resistance to the Christian -humanist type of human rights than what I perceive in the Chinese -- muslims are in general very much convinced of their human rights, it seems that they have already been 'infected' with Christianity while also wishing to stay true to their own God-form, which, without their knowledge, runs against the principles on which these human rights are based. Human rights can not exist in the mind effectively so as to spread politically when man still has to bow down to a wrathful God and call this God merciful, and hope that his wrath is aimed at others. Of course this description does not only go for muslims, but also for a lot of Christians and Jews, but the muslims seem to live entirely under this type of morality, whereas both jews and Christians are in fact very much capable of valuing this world, and successfully building life affirming industries, institutions and societies in it. I was recently in Israel, went to the wailing wall on Shabbat, and to my great surprise I found no wailing, but a great mass of jubilant, wildly singing and dancing people, all in separate but intermixing, spontaneously arising groups of utterly joyful people. It seems that the Jews have re-found the motto of their King David: "I will sing praise to my God as long as I have my being". In the meantime, they build an empire, create sciences, develop the arts. My esteem for the Jews has risen tremendously during this visit, I found nothing of slavishness in them, only power and a very sharply aware self confidence, and on said occasion, a joy that was cathartic even to behold.

Compared to such religious joy only the black Christians I have seen in the United States can compare a bit, but in them, the obedience to the Preacher is still instrumental, whereas the Jews are just wildly running around with their books, singing and reading and dancing all at once. A sight to behold. Since they have their state, they are truly building, dwelling, thinking -- only the slight snag of having captured this land from another people is a problem, but they seem perfectly capable of living with that problem in a life-affirming manner. I have honestly never seen such powerfully focussed and untroubled men in my lifetime as those strange figures racing through the streets of Jerusalem. It was very surprising. They are well beyond the average westerner in terms of self-valuing and valuing the world in these terms, and even if they require their God, which is to say, their culturally given standard value for this the same can be said of course of the Christian, who requires Christ Jesus.

Only now that we have a completely technical definition of self-valuing, for which no pre-given God or symbol would be required, we may theoretically attain an equally powerful self-valuing without any artifice or myth, but this would require of us that we create myth or symbol to mediate our self-valuing to ourselves in an ascending way. How is this done? In the past it has been done through art, through narrative - as Homer was responsible for Athens, and indirectly for us, so the Hebrew scribes were responsible for the Jews of today and also for us -- and the genius nature which conceived the Christian narrative (and that of Horus, or the other symbolic figures who underwent similar fates as the Jewish-Hellenic Anointed One, the Messiah/Kristos) as well -- To move beyond this is not a modest task. Can we even begin to attain to the imaginative power of materializing such a narrative/symbolism out of our cold theory?


 

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:50 pm

Perhaps Christianity was able to evolve with the turn into the modern world better then others... I see it as having gotten past its Strict-phase that I imagine many religions go through... one that present day islam is now in (it will be interesting to see what happens as it gets over that...if it does) Yet Christianity does seem to have played a role in our ethical evolution it has placed limits on other evolutions, but then is that not one of the primary functions of ethics...

Even if Christianity was and aid or deep influence of the modernity we have now... perhaps what should be asked is if their would have been a Belief System that would have worked better. And perhaps ask if such did exist but were destroyed by Christianity or other forms. in which case Christianity then actually served to be a determent even though it was also an aid...

 

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"Nature herself has imprinted on the minds of all the idea of God." -Cicero
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain an idea without necessarily believing it." -Aristotle
"I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law." -Aristotle
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:04 pm

Fixed Cross wrote:
Where do you perceive the Chinese incorporating anything of the Christian principles at all? Perhaps you connect the notion of spiritual self-valuing more exclusively to Christianity than I would. Whereas I have much respect for the figure of Christ, I see his work more in terms of making the Greek idea(l) of man accessible to the lesser privileged, a means for slaves to come to respect themselves in their own terms. This capacity did exist before Jesus existed, it did in Athens, but also in India, and I would think in China as well, considering the amount of techniques originating in these areas aimed specifically at enhancing experience of the individual as a cosmos unto itself, and approaching the world blissfully and confidently in these terms. It was mostly the crude fate of the slaves of the Roman world that made such a notion impossible, which eventually led to a too great pressure, to end which an artifice was needed, a symbolic means to forge a fresh self-valuing.

In the Middle East of today, especially in the Islamic world, I see a more weak-willed resistance to the Christian -humanist type of human rights than what I perceive in the Chinese -- muslims are in general very much convinced of their human rights, it seems that they have already been 'infected' with Christianity while also wishing to stay true to their own God-form, which, without their knowledge, runs against the principles on which these human rights are based. Human rights can not exist in the mind effectively so as to spread politically when man still has to bow down to a wrathful God and call this God merciful, and hope that his wrath is aimed at others. Of course this description does not only go for muslims, but also for a lot of Christians and Jews, but the muslims seem to live entirely under this type of morality, whereas both jews and Christians are in fact very much capable of valuing this world, and successfully building life affirming industries, institutions and societies in it. I was recently in Israel, went to the wailing wall on Shabbat, and to my great surprise I found no wailing, but a great mass of jubilant, wildly singing and dancing people, all in separate but intermixing, spontaneously arising groups of utterly joyful people. It seems that the Jews have re-found the motto of their King David: "I will sing praise to my God as long as I have my being". In the meantime, they build an empire, create sciences, develop the arts. My esteem for the Jews has risen tremendously during this visit, I found nothing of slavishness in them, only power and a very sharply aware self confidence, and on said occasion, a joy that was cathartic even to behold.

Compared to such religious joy only the black Christians I have seen in the United States can compare a bit, but in them, the obedience to the Preacher is still instrumental, whereas the Jews are just wildly running around with their books, singing and reading and dancing all at once. A sight to behold. Since they have their state, they are truly building, dwelling, thinking -- only the slight snag of having captured this land from another people is a problem, but they seem perfectly capable of living with that problem in a life-affirming manner. I have honestly never seen such powerfully focussed and untroubled men in my lifetime as those strange figures racing through the streets of Jerusalem. It was very surprising. They are well beyond the average westerner in terms of self-valuing and valuing the world in these terms, and even if they require their God, which is to say, their culturally given standard value for this the same can be said of course of the Christian, who requires Christ Jesus.

Only now that we have a completely technical definition of self-valuing, for which no pre-given God or symbol would be required, we may theoretically attain an equally powerful self-valuing without any artifice or myth, but this would require of us that we create myth or symbol to mediate our self-valuing to ourselves in an ascending way. How is this done? In the past it has been done through art, through narrative - as Homer was responsible for Athens, and indirectly for us, so the Hebrew scribes were responsible for the Jews of today and also for us -- and the genius nature which conceived the Christian narrative (and that of Horus, or the other symbolic figures who underwent similar fates as the Jewish-Hellenic Anointed One, the Messiah/Kristos) as well -- To move beyond this is not a modest task. Can we even begin to attain to the imaginative power of materializing such a narrative/symbolism out of our cold theory?


Good points all. To this last question, it may be the case that our "cold theory" is simply incommunicable to a certain type of human being, that only a human which has developed a certain height of capacity for a certain type of consciousness/intention/will might be able to both understand and incorporate value ontology into their being. Value ontology is less a system/theory, of course, and more a method. It does not pre-scribe forms or images the use of which lead to increased valuing activity, but it is quite the opposite of this, and necessarily so, of course. In this way it seems to me as almost impossible to truly "communicate" this insight to others in a direct manner. The religious means adopted by Homer/Christ/Buddha and other visionaries in this realm had to be indirect, had to establish forms and images, narratives and stories that were mechanisms for improved possibility for valuing-relating and for all the implications thereof. Because they truly thought-lived in this sort of symbolic narrative-construction it was probably easy for them to communicate through these languages, and the increase in life-affirming and self-valuing possibilities that resulted was "accidental" or not consciously intended.

Regarding China, this seems a fascinating subject when we apply the lens of value ontology. Certainly China actively resists Christian influence, but at the same time China embraces many aspects of modernity, such as modern technology, international finance and business/economics. The logical principles on which, for example, modern capitalist economics function are very anti-traditional, anti-"old world" values, anti-nationalistic. As capital/money is set as the implicitly supreme value other values are made more or less subservient. China has embraced modernity in economics even more than America, and it is easy to find studies online about how China "does capitalism better than the US". In the sense that Christianity led directly to modernity and to its various manifested forms (capitalist economics, media power, human rights, democracy) China has "embraced" some/many of these. Not so much human rights, of course, but there are now political elections in China, although certainly not "fair" ones.

It does seem like Christ gave the means of personal and direct self-valuing increase to mankind generally, or at least make this later development possible. You are also right that these means already existed elsewhere, and Christianity's relative lack of saturation in Eastern societies could be explained by the already powerful means of grounding/directing self-valuing present in these societies (Hinduism, Buddhism). Christ's work seems necessary perhaps only from the perspective of the already established Abrahamic tradition. Christ seemed to evolve the Abrahamic tradition in an essential way, although this evolution already existed in, for instance, Kabbalah and other esoteric schools, Christ "popularized" this sort of approach, this breaking-down of the old largely regimented/compartmentalized and impotent valuing system by exploding it from within, realizing new relations of value internal to this system, essentially breathing new life into its more public/accepted forms. Christ was probably unnecessary from the perspective of the more esoteric or Eastern traditions.

 

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"Do you hold out hope, then?" ... "I hold out dignity." ... "She will need opiates before long, for the pain. She will cease being who she is." ... "Then I will love who she becomes."  --Penny Dreadful
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:25 pm

Just saying because what you said in the OP made me think you think that islam is older then christianity... Mohammed was born around 600 AD...

 

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"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain an idea without necessarily believing it." -Aristotle
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:10 pm

Abstract wrote:
Just saying because what you said in the OP made me think you think that islam is older then christianity... Mohammed was born around 600 AD...

Yes I probably miswrote that. What I am trying to get at is that Islam shares more in common with Judaism than either do with Christianity, despite the timeline. Islam seems to be a more or less horizontal off-shoot of Judaism, while Christianity seems quite certainly instead a vertical evolution of it.

 

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"Do you hold out hope, then?" ... "I hold out dignity." ... "She will need opiates before long, for the pain. She will cease being who she is." ... "Then I will love who she becomes."  --Penny Dreadful
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:19 pm

Yes You could say that... especially modern Christianity...

 

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:49 am

I disagree with two things: that Islam ad Judaism are more alike to each other than Christianity is to either, and that Christianity must be seen as a factor in modernity when it is considered in terms of capitalism, economics, industry. The root of capitalism and trade as we know it lies in Venice at the eve of the renaissance. To the end of making its dynamic possible, what was of the utmost necessity, in the words of the Doge, were Jews as money lenders (banking, which allows the not wealthy born to invest, which breaks the law of aristocratic heredity of power), and further, the right to free speech in order to make verbal contracts possible, to serve quick adaptive trade.

Ads I see it, Christianity relates to modernity only in terms of morality, by the notion of the individual as a moral authority, but this is not a condition for capitalism or modern industry, I should say. China is better at capitalism because it is Maoist/Stalinist qua state-structure - i.e. communism minus socialism, collectivism minus morality (perhaps alike to Mussolinian fascism?). The state controls the conditions for trade, which is much more convenient than having to care for workers right and basing the direction of production on the whims of the speculative market. They still work as far as I know in Stalinist five-year plans, which actually worked very well for the Soviet Union, transformed it from a primitive agricultural society into the worlds second economy very rapidly.

State-tyranny works, where economy and industry are concerned, it just is not so great in terms of our, western notion of what it means to be human, to have a Self. People subservient to a communist state do not have proper "selves", they are defined as units in a collective, which is not defined in terms of the human, but in terms of "humanity", "the human race", etc -- Great Projects to advance Mankind ar always instigated, at the cost of -- humanity.

I would say that what you, in my eyes correctly, explain as the Christs way of implanting a radical self-valuing is based on the Greek outer ideal (empirical man as Self) and the Jewish inner ideal (transcendent God as Soul, will). What happened to the Greek will is of course Nietzsches concern, this will is completely lost to us, now that will has been made transcendent. The Greek will seems to have existed as the condition of a physical superabundance, a lack of necessity to go inward and yet at the same time a subtlety that made the outward/sensual into a 'spiritual' matter, which could result in art. This seems to be the reason why their art is so fine, pleasant, unobtrusive and yet so enduring. They were able to see their Gods as hostile to them (the unreliable Zeus, the downright hostile Poseidon, etc), and still value them as superior and build splendid temples to them. Where else has this been possible?

I realize I am shooting from here to there in these thoughts - spontaneous reflections, a lot of coffee.



 

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:21 am

Fixed Cross wrote:
I disagree with two things: that Islam ad Judaism are more alike to each other than Christianity is to either, and that Christianity must be seen as a factor in modernity when it is considered in terms of capitalism, economics, industry. The root of capitalism and trade as we know it lies in Venice at the eve of the renaissance. To the end of making its dynamic possible, what was of the utmost necessity, in the words of the Doge, were Jews as money lenders (banking, which allows the not wealthy born to invest, which breaks the law of aristocratic heredity of power), and further, the right to free speech in order to make verbal contracts possible, to serve quick adaptive trade.

I agree, this matches what I have heard about the birth of mercantilism and banking. What I was trying to determine is whether there may be a connection between how this mercantilism/banking has transformed into a global super-national capitalism and to the Christian potentiality for extra-national/State community. For example, Judaism is very closely tied to its own State-hood, the idea that the Jewish people have a state, their own nation. This idea is absent from Christianity. Rather Christianity even in its root core is entirely extra-nationalistic. The fact that America succeeded so well in furthering industrial and technological development seems to coincide with the American ideal of individuality against the State, identity to the nation second and to the self/familly/religion first. This extra-nationalistic sense seems an essential step to freeing the potentiality of capital-relations in the manner we see today in international business and finance. As for Europe, certainly the European nations have long histories with Christianity, but the history of Europe also solidified strong nationalistic sentiment among its people. America seemed to embody a new sort of perspective, a new "will" that made possible (along with other coincidental factors, such as expansive resource availability) the move from market economics to eventually global capitalism. Along with this American influence I find it hard to separate out how Christianity, and America's version/s of it, have been central to this influence on the march toward modernity.

Of course I am not claiming that Americans do not have strong patriotic and nationalistic sense. Certainly many of them do. But there does seem an essential sort of difference here in how Christianity is "free" from the nation-state apparatus, when we look at American vs. Europe. Or perhaps not free rather than providing for truly extra-nationalistic communal relations. I wonder if these sort of Christian extra-national communal relations exist in Europe? I would hazard a guess that Christianity, prior to America, helped make possible the emergence of initial mercantilism and market economy, and then later through American-Christianity the transition of this economy to its present global capitalist form, which then parallels the transition into modernity (and into postmodernity).

The link may be tenuous, it appeared to me and so I explored it, but certainly it is far from solidified yet.

Quote :
Ads I see it, Christianity relates to modernity only in terms of morality, by the notion of the individual as a moral authority, but this is not a condition for capitalism or modern industry, I should say. China is better at capitalism because it is Maoist/Stalinist qua state-structure - i.e. communism minus socialism, collectivism minus morality (perhaps alike to Mussolinian fascism?). The state controls the conditions for trade, which is much more convenient than having to care for workers right and basing the direction of production on the whims of the speculative market. They still work as far as I know in Stalinist five-year plans, which actually worked very well for the Soviet Union, transformed it from a primitive agricultural society into the worlds second economy very rapidly.

State-tyranny works, where economy and industry are concerned, it just is not so great in terms of our, western notion of what it means to be human, to have a Self. People subservient to a communist state do not have proper "selves", they are defined as units in a collective, which is not defined in terms of the human, but in terms of "humanity", "the human race", etc -- Great Projects to advance Mankind ar always instigated, at the cost of -- humanity.

I would say that what you, in my eyes correctly, explain as the Christs way of implanting a radical self-valuing is based on the Greek outer ideal (empirical man as Self) and the Jewish inner ideal (transcendent God as Soul, will). What happened to the Greek will is of course Nietzsches concern, this will is completely lost to us, now that will has been made transcendent. The Greek will seems to have existed as the condition of a physical superabundance, a lack of necessity to go inward and yet at the same time a subtlety that made the outward/sensual into a 'spiritual' matter, which could result in art. This seems to be the reason why their art is so fine, pleasant, unobtrusive and yet so enduring. They were able to see their Gods as hostile to them (the unreliable Zeus, the downright hostile Poseidon, etc), and still value them as superior and build splendid temples to them. Where else has this been possible?

I realize I am shooting from here to there in these thoughts - spontaneous reflections, a lot of coffee.



I am less familiar with Islam and Judaism, the comparison between these and then Christianity here is based only on how these belief systems conceive of and form relations to God. Could you perhaps give a brief outline as to the relevant differences between Islam and Judaism, if you think such differences are indeed relevant here to this analysis? My understanding was that in Islam, along with Judaism, there is One God, and that is it. This God is singular and "transcendent", essentially above man. In Christianity God is divided into three parts, as we know. Not only this, but God becomes man. Then this God-man is sacrificed to allow man direct access to God. As far as I know (again, I am no expert) this sort of relationship and tri-God configuration is absent the other two monotheistic religions.

Islam and Judaism seem more about fidelity to God, regular prayer, fasting, other acts of devotion and subservience. Christianity seems less focused on these sort of acts and more focused on individual relationship with God/jesus/holy spirit that is personally manifest, direct, emotionally-oriented and less structurally submissive. Not only this but it is less mediated through state apparatus or administration (when compared to the Middle East, for instance). I think all of these characteristics can be seen to have had strong influences on factors contributing to the eventual emergence of modernity, factors including morality, economics, politics and media.

 

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity and modernity   Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:48 pm

Capable wrote:
Christianity even in its root core is entirely extra-nationalistic.
True, and this is one of the ways in which C[hristianity] and I[slam] are alike to each other and different from J[udaism].

Quote :
The fact that America succeeded so well in furthering industrial and technological development seems to coincide with the American ideal of individuality against the State, identity to the nation second and to the self/familly/religion first. This extra-nationalistic sense seems an essential step to freeing the potentiality of capital-relations in the manner we see today in international business and finance.
I wonder if this is true, since the Jews operated freely across national boundaries in their exile. Their only constancy in a survival-community sense was economical exploitation of certain high value products, from lenses to diamonds to value currency itself. The latter must have influenced Christianity greatly. Islam remained relatively immune to this due to its understanding of 'usury' as a sin. It could therefore not create societies of state-independent corporate power. All Islamic states are, in a sense, Mussolinean fascist structures.

Quote :
As for Europe, certainly the European nations have long histories with Christianity, but the history of Europe also solidified strong nationalistic sentiment among its people. America seemed to embody a new sort of perspective, a new "will" that made possible (along with other coincidental factors, such as expansive resource availability) the move from market economics to eventually global capitalism. Along with this American influence I find it hard to separate out how Christianity, and America's version/s of it, have been central to this influence on the march toward modernity.
I think that the "image" factor is central here. America facilitated the feeling of power in individuals that Christian-originated individual "god-likeness" always carried as a potential. But this goes mainly for post 19th century America, not for the pilgrims and the frontier-life, where Nationalism was perhaps as much a beacon for settlers as their faith was. Well, the faith and nationalis where as never before intertwined, to be a good American meant to be a good Christian, and vice versa as well. Because they stood for the same values - self-reliance of the individual in moral relation to his others.

The flag of America represents this powerfully differentiated and but disciplined and organized multi-unit-unity well.

Quote :
Of course I am not claiming that Americans do not have strong patriotic and nationalistic sense. Certainly many of them do. But there does seem an essential sort of difference here in how Christianity is "free" from the nation-state apparatus, when we look at American vs. Europe. Or perhaps not free rather than providing for truly extra-nationalistic communal relations. I wonder if these sort of Christian extra-national communal relations exist in Europe?
I would hazard a guess that Christianity, prior to America, helped make possible the emergence of initial mercantilism and market economy, and then later through American-Christianity the transition of this economy to its present global capitalist form, which then parallels the transition into modernity (and into postmodernity).

The link may be tenuous, it appeared to me and so I explored it, but certainly it is far from solidified yet. [/quote]
What's interesting certainly is the means this particular faith provides to from a bond of responsible self- and other-love, or simply respect on a more or less cognitive basis. More so than Islam, Christianity provides a means for communion for rational beings. Less to than Judaism, Christianity requires that one is cognitively prolific to benefit from the infrastructure the faith provides.

A means to elevate the mediocre from animal to man?

Quote :
I am less familiar with Islam and Judaism, the comparison between these and then Christianity here is based only on how these belief systems conceive of and form relations to God. Could you perhaps give a brief outline as to the relevant differences between Islam and Judaism, if you think such differences are indeed relevant here to this analysis? My understanding was that in Islam, along with Judaism, there is One God, and that is it.
As kaballalists read it, the Jewish view of life bestows on mans mind an infinite number of deities, from which man must force the world using his mind in a disciplined manner. These deities are 'Words', 'letters', 'symbols' and all of these fit unfathomably in the living expression of Gods truth. This truth exists only if man, the chosen race of man to be specific, works to uphold this truth. If not, man is not man, but animal.

The myriadness of God is interpreted on ascending and descending levels of categorization, of which the letters of the alphabet are a sort of mediating scale, along with the ten-fold division of the power hierarchy of the universe that finds it expression in the tree of life, the ten names whereby "God" is designated (authoritative as a specific operative function rather than a comprehensive all-being). The intricateness of Talmudic and numerological speculations functions to keep the debate going in what amounts to the Jewish faith - Judaism is primarily intellectual, at least in its effect.

A part of this cognitive nature of religion lives on in Gnosticism, which is the view on Christ I can value as philosophically valuable, and which by its more 'all too human' nature provides perhaps more workable limits in the trinity, rather than the infinitely more complex and demanding 10/22 foldedness of the Jewish vessel for ascending comprehensiveness of self-valuing.

Islam demands no such efforts, as it does not have the structural means provided in the exhibition of its narrative(s) to construct such a tasking. Its highest expression, I believe, is found in its mystic poets, its lyrical genius that once in a while occurs. For the rest it provides the comfort of bowing and offering ones being-unto-oneself up to God. Note that philosophy is officially a sin in Islam. The law has it that the law is to be taken for granted, not attempted to be understood. The point being of course that it is a faith, an activity by which man is a passive pertaining of God, not an ideation, something done by man pertaining to man using "God" - a primary self-valuing - as medium.

Quote :
This God is singular and "transcendent", essentially above man. In Christianity God is divided into three parts, as we know. Not only this, but God becomes man. Then this God-man is sacrificed to allow man direct access to God. As far as I know (again, I am no expert) this sort of relationship and tri-God configuration is absent the other two monotheistic religions.
Yes, and this idea (the Messiah) is taken from Judaism. The difference between Christianity and Judaism is here that the Jews are not satisfied with Jesus as a sufficiently representative form of God.

Quote :
Islam and Judaism seem more about fidelity to God, regular prayer, fasting, other acts of devotion and subservience. Christianity seems less focused on these sort of acts and more focused on individual relationship with God/jesus/holy spirit that is personally manifest, direct, emotionally-oriented and less structurally submissive. Not only this but it is less mediated through state apparatus or administration (when compared to the Middle East, for instance). I think all of these characteristics can be seen to have had strong influences on factors contributing to the eventual emergence of modernity, factors including morality, economics, politics and media.
Christianity and Islam are both emotional religions. Christianity also provides an intellectual God concept, which works as a tool on the emotional self by differentiating it in these three identification modus. Judaism is nor primarily or directly emotional, but fully conceptual. The emotions are not predicated by and prescribed within the practices and narratives of the Jewish faith, but entirely excessive. In other words, the positive emotions, the surplus of passion that we associate with religious experience is not the end to which the religion serves, but a contingency of the discipline of religious awareness-building, which is the primary fruit. Happiness is extra-doctrinal in Judaism, a true surplus. Perhaps therefore it takes on such a-moral, extra-aesthetic, abundantly strange and self-questioning forms of emotional expression, artistic path-making and scientific projecting.

Man makes himself in equal measure free to shape the world as he binds himself to the observation and study of relations 'between God'.

 

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- Thucydides
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