Tag Archives: shortsighted

David Voas and a Nearsighted View of Religion

Spoken like someone who has never taken the time to understand the role of religion in not only human history and progress, but it’s particular importance in the Western Tradition. David Voas, in his talk, demonstrates how no amount of education can guard against vanity, conceit and susceptibility to fashionable intellectual bigotries. The only insurance against these character traps is a healthy sense of dignity–not a proud display of arrogance. And while the popular opinion of religions demise is often seen in the relative infallibility of science and an over-inflated measure of the mental totem–raised at the end of a staff and shaken, voodoo-like, rattling infertile seeds within a gourd–“reason”.

In fact, it seems much more certain that the way to a popular audience–as where the American Civil War and WWII as subject matter for the past 50 years seem to insure a great sale of books–is to offer up the old arguments against religion only with greater certainty, wider venue or the trappings of scholastic credibility which, huckster-like, make the arguments seem more compelling than the arguments in themselves prove to be.

Further, David Voas’ reasoning exhibits exactly the kind of pitfall a lack of faith and religious perspective are precisely a bane against. He looks at immediate trends like a hiker walking through impenetrable fog who hasn’t hit a tree yet so decides he must not still be in a forested wilderness.

What David fails to acknowledge is the reason for religions success, rise and evolution alongside, or rather, in relationship with western society. At every turn in the road where a crisis loomed or was wreaking havoc upon the stability and forward progress of society, religion has stepped onto the front stage of the play with a perspective or innovation which served to carry us forward past the given obstacle. And this is because, counter to the mis-representative bigotries of the challengers of religion, religion is a mental perspective guided by values, selflessness and an awareness of a greater community which reaches not only into the jutted towers of higher education, but right down to where the hands of the lowliest workers meet and toil in the earth and firmament.

When the formula and equation of the Ancient Roman society had reached it’s logical conclusion… when it had outlasted it’s viability… It was Christianity and it’s sense of self and capacity for sacrifice and contribution which carried the society into its next epoch. When the Balkans with it’s warlike princes and micro-states could not justify a Byzantine garrison for its lack of societal wealth and production and yet could deliver veteran armies gathered snowball like out of its cauldron of vanity and warlike strife… it was the system of bishoprics which extended in proto-federal governance as ambassadors of an Empire whose interests were served by peace. And in the decline of populations where a rotting peace, internecine war–where bodies rotted on battlefields too numerous to bury much less shrift giving rise to population explosions of rodents fed upon rotting human flesh, and those diseases which fed upon that flesh–produced an outbreak of disease which wiped out great proportions of the society… it was a resurgence in religious directive, the monastic movement which went out into the wilds of Europe carving out civilization from sheer wilderness with corporate activity which developed new innovations in manufacture of all sorts. And when it was that old enemy of civilization, the worship of power into those seats of power man create, it was a diaspora of religious authority which cleansed the way for old and new religious authorities to take the reigns and lead the societies into a new age of theological discourse and intellectual refinement… with its adherents armed with invigorated enthusiasm for the toil to seek out God’s vision for the sake of man’s dignity.

No other venue susses out or engages in the dialogue for the sake of human dignity like theology and religion… Not accountancy, not law, not business, not athleticism, not aestheticism, and certainly not science. Right now we face a crisis of drug addiction, alcoholism, materialism, warfare, avarice, vanity and power… These are symptoms of meaninglessness. It is the science of human dignity, religion and a meaningful life which can only provide the context and perspective necessary to keep us from sliding forever into more and more debased patterns of slavery and servitude to sensationalism, vanity and power. This is what David Voas doesn’t understand about the Western Tradition. But maybe all he really wants is to fill his classrooms and sell a few books.

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A Rebuke to Charisma on Command


(Video posted on youtube by, Charisma on Command)

Interesting, but shortsighted and caught in a frame from the start. That frame being the quest for power. This is a pagan trap… that is, the worship of power. I agree that in our culture such focus on power is rampant; that we are rife with a juvenile preoccupation with achieving even the appearance of having power over others, but it is a trap. The “game” of power, to use a word in currency, will always betray the user to a more fundamental manifestation of power. Like Elric of Melnibone who wields the sword Stormbringer; Elric fights, but in the midst of that fight Stormbringer kills friend and foe alike despite Elrics desire–Elric becomes the vehicle of the sword rather than the sword being a tool of Elric’s will. But this pattern is true outside of Michael Moorcock’s stories of the eternal champion. The Italian Mafia was born out of a criminal culture which sprung out of a community whose social fabric had broken down. Men joined their criminal efforts like hunters in hunting parties until they consolidated power enough to achieve a sort of established status in which case they were forced to protect themselves from the same culture of criminality which produced they themselves. The most effective method being to acquire such competitors as subservient associates, and later, as such crews achieved success in whatever endeavor they might concoct, so too would the reigning power capability absorb such talent. In this way, success would become the beacon by which the lessor was brought into service of the greater. This pattern still prevails. Attend the court sessions of petty criminals and you will see a great majority of cases dismissed as the penal system is swamped by the societies inability to provide adequate guidance and integration for it’s own citizenry as they cross that bridge from adolescence into technical adulthood. It is this preoccupation with power which traps us all in a failing equation. And though it isn’t appearant to those without the benefit of seeing the pattern unfold for years… the situation isn’t getting better, rather, the useful adherents to the status quo are merely getting younger and less aware of the bigger picture. These plays at power and poses of confidence which you would profess are merely shallow lies which do not deceive but rather benefit those who butter their bread with the rendered fat of the ablest students.


(Video posted on Youtube by, Charisma on Command)

I have to say, the two videos of yours that I have watched are interesting, but I must reiterate… Your videos seem to be concerned more with a shallow preoccupation with power than with truth or substance. I have to add, that you are very good at outlining interactions, but I would question the value of your advice–I say “question”, because such interactions define who we are and if one decides that to appear in control and to dominate in power play interactions is what is most important, well, there it is.

But I would have to point out that what is most championed by Robert Downey Jr. in this example and what is being challenged, even if the interviewer doesn’t fully realize it, is the decorum of this interview. A decorum which, it could be argued, supports an insidious chimera of ill conceived virtue which thinly masks an industry that is not at all concerned with virtue, but the appearance of virtue for the sake of making money.

By championing certain values, even if those values have merit, but from a place of insincerity, it is this insincerity which becomes the active and propelling truth rendering that pose at virtue merely gaslight for the un-savvy or unguarded victim swayed. That by defending virtue badly, you do more harm to the pursuit of such virtue and lead the would be follower “down the garden path”. Even this interviewer, probably more motivated by career ambition than any real virtue, perhaps cannot see the true value in breaking the decorum of this interview–that is to break the illusion of truth, sincerity and seriousness in what Hollywood, with it’s hundreds of billions in effort, produces.

However, one has to wonder, if this interviewer himself were run through the gauntlet of failure and humiliation each one of us must run in order to gain our own understanding of the lay of the land, might he not be provisioned with the fortitude to look Robert Downey Jr. directly in the eye and ask him why his own experiences with the trials and pitfalls of the human condition haven’t informed his choices in how he goes about waging his craft, rather than just adding his significant influence to the production of, at the very least, vacuous cinematic tripe? It’s the difference between desiring to seem to be rather than seeking, simply, to be.