Bruce Charlton is Not a “Gatekeeper.” Nor a “Shill,” Nor a “Glowie,” Nor a “Fed.”

I had not read Giuseppe Filotto until Kristor linked to his denunciation of Bruce Charlton.  I have since read nothing but that denunciation and Filotto’s appended comment that the Orthosphere is a nest of “cretins.”  Filitto accuses Charlton of being a “gatekeeper,” possibly by intention and certainly in effect.  He means what is more properly called a “shill,” since the accusation is that Charlton is aiding the side that he ostensibly opposes.   In culture theory, a “gatekeeper” is a person who can admit or exclude aspirants to some coveted inner ring of the chosen few.  Like St. Peter at the gates of Heaven, a “gatekeeper” can say “welcome to the elect” or “be damned and to Hell with you.”

Charlton is as far as possible from being a “gatekeeper” because he is not himself part of a clique, club, cabal or inner ring.  No one has ever improved his prospects, or advanced his career, by oiling up to Charlton.  And I don’t believe Charlton is accepting applicants to his idiosyncratic church of one.

The truth is that Filotto is “gatekeeping” when he denounces Charlton for acting as a “shill.”  I should perhaps say “insidious fear monger,” since a “shill” fosters false hope.  In its pure sense, a “shill” is a covert salesman who pretends to be a disinterested bystander in order to boost consumer confidence and thereby sell some dubious product.  An “insidious fear monger” is a secret agent of the thing that is feared.  He demoralizes, discourages, and fosters despair.  In the guise of a friend, he spreads despondency and alarm.

I seldom close Bruce Charlton’s Notions with the feeling that that God will very shortly be returned to his Heaven, and that all will very shortly be set right in the world.  This of course proves that he is not a “shill.”  A “shill” would have tricked me into purchasing one of the opiate nostrums that are peddled by the charlatans, mountebanks, and carnival barkers of the Right.  And I don’t think he is an “insidious fear monger” since our danger is really much greater than many good people suppose.

Filotto is grossly unfair when he says Charlton is an “intellectual coward.”  A fair critic could say that Charlton is overly bold, or even rash; that he rushes in where angels fear to tread, bites off more than he can chew, gets in over his head.  I do not say these things myself, but I would not laugh out loud at someone who did.  I do laugh out loud at anyone who says that Charlton is an “intellectual coward.”  The man sacrificed his reputation as a scientist when he came out as “religious,” and then sacrificed his reputation as “religious” when he did not settle comfortably into some collective creed.

Charlton may be a nut, but he most certainly is not a “intellectual coward.”

Towards the end of his post Filotto tells us that Charlton is actually a physical coward because all his wild speculation just excuses  shirking “battles in meatspace.”  Filotto particularly accuses Charlton of the quietist conviction that God’s people should not fight spiritual battles with the weapons of this world because those who handle the weapons of this world will become worldly.  He says,

“Bruce is obviously of the opinion that the Spartans should have just gone quietly into the night, and so too the knights of Malta and everyone who ever picked up a weapon and fought the tyrants and won.  Pathetic, disgusting, black-pilling coward.”

I am not sure that a man as ornery and pugnacious as Charlton should be accused of quietist convictions, but his fear of fighting with the weapons of this world is hardly naïve.  J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a very long book that illustrates the reality and hazards of earthly power, and Charlton has brooded more than most on the lessons contained in Tolkien’s book.  Spartan “freedom” is, I would add, a very ambiguous sort of freedom.

11 thoughts on “Bruce Charlton is Not a “Gatekeeper.” Nor a “Shill,” Nor a “Glowie,” Nor a “Fed.”

  1. Agreed. Filotto is unnecessarily aggressive against Charlton for no good reason. In fact, his screed says more about him than about Charlton. Filotto regularly seeks attention by picking internet fights.

    Ironically, Filotto should feel some affinity with Charlton. Both have been spiritual seekers. Both recognize that many formal religious organizations today are complicit with worldy evil, and both have thought that independent spiritual inquiry (vs unthinking obedience to local church authorities) is more advisable and important than it might have been a century ago.

    A key difference between the two men is that Filotto is convinced that he has already found the final correct answer in Sedevacantism, while Charlton argues that personal spiritual seeking in the form of Romantic Christianity should be an ongoing process.

    Anyway, Bruce Charlton stands unjustly accused and rudely treated. He has certainly been extremely helpful in my own religious thinking. If Filotto could read my mind, he would see that Charlton, far from leading me down the primrose path, has actually brought me closer to Filotto’s ideal Church and God.

    One thought for you: I think you are misunderstanding the term “gatekeeper” in this context. It’s not the culture theory usage here (“admitting or excluding aspirants to a coveted inner ring”), it’s the propaganda theory usage:

    “‘Gatekeeping’ is the act of preventing others from recognizing an important, often vital, truth. The practice of willful gatekeeping is a deceptive and dishonest form of communication; a lie of omission, commission, and/or inference; a kind of disinformation. It typically involves keeping people from seeing the big picture, by withholding or suppressing some vital piece of circumstance-altering information, under the guise of telling people everything there is to know. Ideally, a gatekeeper will keep certain thoughts from ever entering people’s heads.”

    This is what Filotto means by gatekeeping, although even by this alternate definition, it’s an unfair and incorrect accusation against Charlton.

    • I see that the “gatekeeper” metaphor can mean exclusion or diversion, the second “gatekeeper” being adept in the use of “red herrings.” I suppose the second “gatekeeper” is also a species of what the New Testament calls a “false teacher.” I take this to mean more than a teacher who is earnest but wrong. To be really “false,” a “false teacher” must aim to prevent learning. He must lead his students into labyrinths and after chimera simply to addle their minds and waste their time.

  2. Gfilotto is who Gfilotto is.

    Memory’s a little fuzzy but he wrote an article asking Protestantisms fruits were, I replied with the standard, worldwide evangelism and getting the Bible basically everywhere in many, many, many languages, as well as high biblical literacy (I still maintain when you meet a Catholic with high biblical literacy, usually he used to be a Protestant).

    He basically replied back that Protestants don’t read the Bible (of all the charges laid at protestantisms door that’s a new one, like the excessive sobriety of the Irish), and that I shouldn’t come back till I’ve read lots of books.

    I’m not saying this to rehash anything it’s just to illustrate that he’s prone to this type of thing. Charlton has lots he can be criticized on, I’m worried about his ties with Rudolf Steiner, Mormonism, I’m worried about some of his biblical stuff. So I mean, there’s meat to chew on if you want to.

    Charlton is also right to the point of being nearly essential on some things like the complete willful neglect and atrophy of the intuitive sense (Pascal actually starts off the pensees talking about the mathematical and the intuitive mind).

    Plus when it comes to meat space battles, that same biblical literacy in the historical books of the Bible is essential. You don’t go up to fight without thinking that you have God’s go ahead, accepting of course that you might be wrong. Going up to fight without consulting God is a great way to just lose. Shoot you might lose anyway, that happens as well, it appears sometimes God wills His people to fight but not necessarily win in an earthly sense.

    And we know this, to my knowledge, primarily through the intuitive sense, where we’re back to Charlton, who routinely tells people as I recall to just never submit to the litmus tests.

    • “Charlton is also right to the point of being nearly essential on some things like the complete willful neglect and atrophy of the intuitive sense.” Well said! Charlton’s writings on the Litmus Tests are some of the best things I’ve ever read. Even if he’s an imperfect messenger, those truths are indeed essential. And bracing. So many “nice” Christians out there failing the litmus tests.

  3. I have no idea who Gelato is. My criticism of Bruce is that he and the other Romantic Christians are ceding the world to Satan.

      • That’s great when you’re an elderly quietist. For young people who’ve gotten married with a newborn, what then?

        I think the Romantic Christians just end up extinct with the Shakers. This is why Nietzsche no longer seems like a bad guy to me. If Nature is good because she was created by God, why are we supposed to eschew her?

        Christianity, and any other religious creed, will either reconcile with Nature or it will go extinct.

      • I know. The introvert option is open to me, but I have children with their whole lives before them. They need strong Christian communities with pugnacious leaders and if needs be a militant wing.

      • In comparison to modern pious quietist “Christians”, Nietzsche is moderate and sane. At least he wanted humanity to have a future.

        But Charlton is not my enemy at all. He fights, just not in the way some would like. After all, how many have read Charlton and have been encouraged by his ideas to continue resisting evil in their own lives, and in ways which will also help others?

        Re-moralization is immensely valuable.

  4. Fair play to you, antignostic for living up to your name. I don’t think Christ condemned nature. He had no difficulty changing water into one of nature’s most beloved bounties. When He condemned ‘the world’, was He not speaking of those temporary temptations that only apply outside the Kingdom of Heaven, such as material greed, hunger for power and lust for pleasure? Are we not promised that nature itself will be renewed and that the lion will lie down with the lamb, in God’s Kingdom? We need to cling firmly to solid, concrete, good nature, because our enemies are the ones who reject it, even down to their cellular chromosomes.


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