TBT: The Desperate Search for Meaning IV: Vanity

In the spirit of yesterday’s post, which also dealt with a passage from Ecclesiastes, I thought I’d dust off an old post from my The Desperate Search for Meaning Series, which I completed back in 2019.  A double-shot of Ecclesiastes, and the long-winded (but condensed here) wisdom of Pastor Monday is always a nice treat.

With that very brief introduction, here is October 2019’s “The Desperate Search for Meaning IV: Vanity“:

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Wayback Wednesday: Memorable Monday: Veterans’ Day 2018, Commemoration of the Great War, and Poppies

While preparing a separate post on hymns (which I will likely post Friday), it occurred to me that today is Veterans’ Day in the United States, the observance formerly known as Armistice Day.  I’ve never thrown back to past posts on a Wednesday before, but it seemed fitting to recognize our fallen heroes on the day.

Last year I looked back at a Veterans’ Day post from 2018.  The post itself was originally delivered as remarks to the Florence County (SC) Republican Party, and was the most affecting of my old “Historical Moments” I’ve ever delivered.

It’s hard to believe that the centennial observance of the Great War has already passed, yet we’re still dealing with the fallout from that terrible war just over a century later.  The more I’m learning about the great Baroque, classical, and Romantic composers of Europe, the more the senseless loss and nihilistic destruction of that conflict weighs on me—and that the shimmering, confident civilization that fostered those composers also destroyed itself.

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Lazy Sunday LXXX: Big Ideas

So many of the West’s problems are fundamentally spiritual in nature.  Our politics are no longer the pedestrian, earthy wranglings over how to maintain the roads (clearly not) or what the marginal tax rate should be.  Even the most mundane of political discussions become theological battles about the nature of Truth itself.  It’s ironic given the Left’s wholesale embrace of postmodernism’s rejection of Truth.

As such, it seemed like an opportune time to dedicate a Lazy Sunday to posts about big ideas.  It’s easy to get bogged down in the details—the Devil is in them, after all—but it’s also important to grasp at the makeup of the entire forest, not just its diversity of trees.

With that, here are some of my own stabs at understanding the dark forest in which we moderns find ourselves:

  • What is Conservatism?” & “TBT: What is Conservatism?” – This post kicked off the first run of my History of Conservative Thought Class, in which begin exploring the ideas of Russell Kirk.  So much of what Americans consider to be “conservative” today is really an abstract ideology, whereas Kirk’s conservatism varied from one society to the next.  It did, however, contain some similar elements across cultures.  Kirk is mostly forgotten in conservative circles today, which is unfortunate; it would behoove us to know more of his thought and work.  
  • Resist the Black Pill” – It’s easy to get discouraged with the state of the world at present, especially here in the United States. Even with the efforts of President Trump and his MAGA cadre, there are long-term concerns for the future of our country.  The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett is one sign of hope, though whether or not the Court will return to true constitutionalism is still an open question.  What we can know is that nihilistic despair is a sin, and our hope comes from the Lord.
  • What is Civilization?” – This post dealt with a lively discussion between Milo and a couple of groypers, Steve Franssen and Vincent James, about the future of civilization.  It’s an intriguing debate about whether or not abandoning the cities to progressive destroyers represents an abandonment of civilization itself (my answer would be no).

That’s it for this brief Lazy Sunday.  Here’s hoping these posts give you something to chew over as you head into your week.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Lazy Sunday LIX: The God Pill Series

Two weeks ago, in “Lazy Sunday LVII – Christianity, Part II,” I wrote that my three “God Pill” posts “would make a really good Lazy Sunday… and out of increasing desperation to cobble together compilations, I’ll likely do it one week, with greater detail about each individual post.”  Well, here we are:  the desperation (and my lack of originality) has brought me to this point.

For those unfamiliar with the terminology, the concept of “pilling” someone, or of being “pilled” in some way, ultimately goes back to The Matrix.  Orpheus offered Neo the blue pill, which would allow him to continue living in the simulacrum of our world, a world that was an entirely false but somewhat comforting illusion, or to take the red pill, would which would allow him to peek behind the veil and see Reality for what it truly is.

The edgier corners of the Internet began using the term “red-pilled” some years ago—I don’t know exactly when, but I saw the term used increasingly in during the long and exciting 2015-2016 election season—to refer to those who embraced the hard Truths that the mainstream media and our elites refuse to tell.  They’re those comforting little lies (“Diversity is Our Strength!”) that are hammered into us from an early age at school, in the news, in pop culture, etc.

For some, red-pilling turned to the dreaded Black Pill:  embracing nihilism.  Black Pillers argued that the hard Truths of the Red Pill revealed to them another hard truth:  that Red Pill reform is impossible at this point, as it would require an impossibly massive paradigm shift.  As such, the only option was to acknowledge the Truth—and that no one would ever believe it.  The Black Pillers are nihilistic Cassandras that, knowing they can’t warn the Blue Pill masses about the doom they face, instead decide to go along for the ride, seeing no other options.

But despair is a sin.  Ultimately, some Red and Black Pillers, in their relentless searches for Truth, came upon THE Truth:  Jesus Christ.  Thus, the God Pill.  They came to realize there is more to life than being good with chicks (much of the Red Pill community was centered in the manosphere) and wallowing in hopelessness.

Such was the case of Roosh V, the notorious proprietor of the now-defunct Return of Kings, and a former pick-up artist.  Roosh converted to Christianity after moving through all of the phases above:  Blue Pill chumpitude, Red Pill immorality, and Black Pill despair.  Ultimately, he embraced Christ, and it’s been a remarkable conversion experience.

These posts detail that transformation:

  • The God Pill” (and “TBT: The God Pill“) – This original post in what I’m now dubbing The God Pill series dives into some of the history I detailed above, focusing more on the manosphere itself, and Roosh’s role in it as one of the neo-masculine trinity (alongside the other “R” names:  Rollo and Roissy).  It also talks about Roosh’s conversion, and the concrete changes he made at the time to live a more godly life.
  • The God Pill, Part II” – About a year after his conversion, Roosh decided to unpublish the remainder of his “game” books—books with advice for men about how to meet women.  He’d already unpublished most of his more explicit works, but left his tour de forceGame, available, as he viewed it as an “agnostic tool” that could be used for good or evil—to find a good Christian wife for marriage, or to bed random floozies.
  • The God Pill, Part III” – This post delves a bit more into how Roosh began to see how debased modern society is, and what brought about his ultimate conversion to Christianity.  It also ends with a reminder that “God loves you.  That’s why He sent His Son to die for us.”

The Internet is a frightening place, but there are a lot of folks turning to it to find meaning.  Many of them, sadly, get lost down some dark byways.  But God is working even there.  Roosh’s conversion is just one example of how a thoughtful, flawed individual was brought to a loving knowledge of Christ, and I hope his story will inspire others.

That’s it for this Sunday.  Stay safe!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Nevada Feels the Bern

Well, the Commies and “natural conservatives” in Nevada have spoken, and it looks like Bernie Sanders is going to sweep the state’s caucuses.  That means he’s currently leading in Democratic delegates heading into South Carolina’s primaries this Saturday.

Joe Biden appears to be in second place, somewhat surprisingly, with l’il Pete Buttigieg in third.  That’s going to make South Carolina a big showdown between Sanders and Biden.  Biden is banking on blacks in South Carolina to buoy his flailing campaign.  Buttigieg will likely flame out (no pun intended) in SC, and the rest of the South, because of those same voters—blacks do not like homosexuality.

All that said, Bernie appears to be in the driver’s seat.  While folks are predicting Trump will mop the floor with the ancient socialist, a Sanders nomination is a very dangerous development.

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The Desperate Search for Meaning

Despite this post’s lofty title, the focus is somewhat narrow.  Many Christians and other people of faith believe there is an innate desire in all humans to believe in something higher than themselves—God.  I’ve heard this desire inelegantly (but accurately) described as a “God-hole,” a hole that cannot be filled with anything other than the Divine.

The West today is awash in cynicism and nihilism, and an aggressive form of anti-religious sentiment.  Just witness the amusing, angry lengths to which strident Internet atheists will go to denounce religious (almost always specifically Christian) beliefs.  It’s pedantic to write, but it bears repeating:  atheists ironically fill their “God-hole” with the religion of hating and/or denying God’s Existence.

The net effect of this existential nihilism is manifest in abundant ways:  high suicide rates, debased morality and behavior, the destruction of the family, and spiritual emptiness and confusion.  We overthrew God—or at least, we tried to remove Him from our lives—but the void, the “God-hole,” within us remains.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so something is going to fill that hole.  It was with interest, then, that I read this piece from The Daily Dot that I stumbled upon while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day.  The piece is about a “healer” and lifestyle blogger named Audrey Kitching, who by all accounts is a duplicitous fraud:  she resells cheap Chinese jewelry at a huge markup, billing them as “energy crystals” and the like, and her gullible followers/victims eagerly lap it up.

What caught my attention, though, was not that a woman was trading on her looks and Instagram filters to build an online business, but rather the women who sacrificed their lives and good sense to someone who is, essentially, a bubblegum-haired freak with a penchant for codependent, psychologically abusive relationships.  Kitching convinced one of her employees to sever all ties with her family for a full year, and essentially used the poor, misguided woman as slave labor.

Men seem to succumb to the supposed “logic” of atheism, priding themselves on their assumed intellectual superiority for refusing to believe in anything beyond themselves.  Women, on the other hand, love quasi-spiritual garbage like Kitching’s baubles (it’s humorous reading how allegedly “legitimate” healers are opposed to Kitching for diminishing their corner on the medium/spiritualist market—I guess she’s not in their Scammers Guild).

Kitchings and her ilk—palm readers, dime-store oracles, astrologers, “good witches,” etc.—offer spirituality on the cheap:  all the “feel-good” stuff about loving other people and being part of the Universe, without any of the obligations—forming a family, living chastely and soberly, etc.  In the absence of strong men and strong institutions—namely the Church—and in an age of #MeToo feminism and “you go grrrrrl”-ism, women are easy prey for bubbly charlatans (if you’ve followed Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology, the fourth installment, “New Year, New You,” beautifully satirizes this kind of Instagram-friendly quasi-spirituality—and its horrifying consequences).

Don’t get me wrong:  I don’t discount this stuff out of hand.  Indeed, I believe we’re always struggling against principalities and demonic forces, which is precisely why we should take this seriously.  Witchcraft and its associated branches are a real spiritual threat, and we’re losing a generation of women (and soy-boyish men) to a new wave of New Age spirituality and feel-good bullcrap.  It’s most insidious in the Church (by which I mean broadly all of Christianity, although I think High Protestant churches are particularly susceptible to this kind of infiltration), where its pernicious influence is far more subtle.

But the rise of witchcraft and other forms of knock-off spiritualism represent physical and metaphysical dangers.  Metaphysically, we shouldn’t be messing around with the spiritual world outside of our relationship with Christ.  Just look at what happened to King Saul when he consulted with the witch at Endor.

Physically, men and women are debasing themselves in the name of a “if it feels good, do it” mentality in a desperate attempt to fill their empty “God-holes.”  Women are literally prostituting themselves via Instagram—a terrifying intersection of online media attention-whoring and real-life whoring.  That kind of cheapness only comes in a culture that discourages traditional values and encourages riotousness and spiritual rebellion.

I always warn my students—I’m sure they occasionally roll their eyes—not to mess around with the spiritual world.  Angels are real—but so are demons.  And Satan always comes clothed in light—and shiny Snapchat filters.

The Left’s Cluelessness on Gun Control

As a rule, I don’t write about guns, gun control, or shootings, mainly because I have nothing to add, and because there doesn’t seem to be much to discuss:  either you support gun rights, or you don’t (in other words, you either read the Constitution literally, or you simply want to reinterpret it to fit your ideology more conveniently).

My basic take on the issue is as follows:  the personal right to bear arms is constitutionally safeguarded in the Second Amendment.  That right is necessary for two reasons:  to protect personal property, yourself, and your family; and to protect against an overly oppressive government.  To be clear, I’m not advocating any kind of violent overthrow of or resistance to the government; rather, I’m arguing that the Second Amendment is our last resort against a government that becomes so hostile to our rights, we have no other recourse but to fight it (see also:  the American Revolution).  I do not think we have reached that point, as we still have ample constitutional means to correct and reform the government.

As for shootings, I believe it’s a spiritual and mental issue, not a gun issue.  Godlessness seems to be the real root issue of many of our social maladies, coupled with a nihilism whose logical conclusion is “if everything is meaningless, then I can do whatever I want,” and “if everything is meaningless, then life is worthless.”  Connect the dots, and it’s no surprise we have nihilistic suicides and mass murders.  Add in the grotesque, macabre fame such acts bring in an age of social media, and the sick motivations for violence are further heightened.

Regardless, I couldn’t help notice this piece from Pacific Standard, a far Left rag known (to the extent it is) for its radicalism and overly-earnest headlines.  I get PS‘s daily e-mail of stories, and occasionally read its pieces to see what the other side is thinking (occasionally, they’re actually interesting).

I’ve been sitting on this one for awhile, but here is the context for the piece:  it was written shortly after the shooting last November in California.  Heads collectively exploded when word got out that progressive utopia California, with its robust gun control laws, was the site of a tragic mass shooting.  Without cheapening the deaths of those unfortunate, innocent souls, the question that came to my mind was, “If gun control is so effective, then how could this happen in California?”

Of course, it’s a straw man question:  gun control isn’t effective.  Indeed, arming responsible, law-abiding people is far preferable to disarming them (and, in effect, arming the bad guys, who will break the new gun control laws).  What struck me, then, was the head-exploding of the true believers on the Left.  The subtitle of this piece says it all:  “A quick look at the regulations and numbers doesn’t necessarily suggest the state’s laws are useless.”

In short, pro-gun control Leftists scrambled to explain away this shooting.  For the Left, shootings are never about man’s fallen nature and capacity for sin (unless that man is a white police officer and the person shot is some kind of favored minority), but instead a technocratic problem to be solved with increasing government control—enforced, ironically, with guns.