Authority

Some general thoughts about authority. Not intended to be comprehensive.

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Human society cannot function without authority. There must be authorities, and the people must, for the most part, respect the authority that the authorities possess.

As an attribute, “authority” means the right to be believed or obeyed. There are authorities who are rulers, and there are authorities who are experts. Real experts, that is.

The right to be believed comes from demonstrated mastery of some field of knowledge. It is defined by the truth, not the person. The right to be obeyed is less easily defined. It is defined by the society in which the authority and his subordinates is embedded. It is partly subjective, because the people will not respect a ruler who appears deficient. It is partly objective, as the rules of the society generally determine who has the right to rule.

There is currently an obvious crisis of authority. In part because the existing higher-level authorities are proving themselves to be unworthy (the higher the level, the less worthy), and in part because of the spread of philosophies which condemn or undermine authority. These are mutually reinforcing trends

But the existing authorities are not completely unworthy, and the people are not completely mistrustful. Without any authority, human society collapses and humans live like animals. Since society has not collapsed, and humans mostly do not live like animals, some authority remains.

But there is a crisis. The main cause of the crisis is the spread of a “democratic” way of thinking. Because of democracy, rulers cannot simply rule. They have to secure the explicit approval of the voters / customers / clients. To do this, they must devote themselves full-time to manipulating and intimidating the people. The people see this and respond with increased distrust, which amplifies the cycle. Continue reading

God Save the Queen! Long Live the Queen!

May the Queen live forever! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, Amen! Alleluia, Amen.

O Lord, succor now thy servant Elizabeth. May thine angels carry her unto thine everlasting rest. May she live forever with thee, in peace and tranquility – aye, and in grand adventure, that thrills her heart even as it comforts her, and quiets, and lo, ever more dignifies.

Thanks be to God for Elizabeth II. Grant now O Lord fit successors to her throne. Long and ever may it increase in power, might, justice, and majesty.

May God save Great Britain. May God save the West.

Amen, Amen; Alleluia, Amen.

And, now, of course: God Save the King! Long Live the King! May the King Live Forever! Amen, Amen.

 

Bend the Knee to an Unjust King

A guest post from our dedicated commenter Scoot and his colleague and interlocutor Hambone:

The virtue everyone loves to hate is obedience. Obedience is easy when it is easy, but there’s a common misconception that having a bad authority exempts us from the duty of obedience. As the late great Zippy Catholic used to say, it is a fallacy of modernity to confuse the question of which authority is just with the question of whether authority in general is just. There’s a fundamental truth hiding behind this misconception that we as fallen humans are often afraid of: That all authority comes from God. Not just good authority – all authority.

If democracy has every man as a king, then the collapse of spiritual authority that snowballed out of the Reformation has every man a Pope. This endlessly fractures the Body of Christ and allows wounds and heresies to fester and spread. “Bad” Popes, Bishops and Priests have been accounted for since the beginning, like their predecessors in the Temple of Jerusalem who did not live up to their offices. How many more such rotten priests might we expect, when every man is a priest untrammelled? The same goes then for political authority: the usurpation of the royal office by the demos is just as unjust as the usurpation of the demotic or familiar offices by the tyrant.

There are three reasons we ought to humble ourselves and bend the knee to unjust men.

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Romantic Christianity versus Christianity Proper

To my recent post about Finding the True Way to Life, Bruce Charlton commented:

@Kristor – I find your post and comments both surprising and confusing! Your post concedes pretty much all the ground to Romantic Christianity; so that you seem to be advocating the same attitude to churches.

Your comment of July 25, 2022 at 4:49 AM suggests that any particular actual or manifest church (including the RCC) is ultimately ‘merely’ (secondarily) helpful or harmful – but never should be regarded as primary or decisive – precisely the Romantic Christian attitude.

And that the individual person’s intuitive knowledge of the mystical/spiritual/immaterial ‘church’ is all that *really* matters at the bottom line (albeit, I cannot distinguish this concept of ‘church’ from knowledge of deity – of God the Father/Jesus Christ/the Holy Ghost).

Most remarkably, you apparently regard the actual, worldly functioning of the Roman Catholic Church to be a matter of ultimate indifference to you! I.e., whether or not the RCC locks its churches; if it ceases to offer the mass, marriage, funerals; and if most of its bishops and priests focus their teachings on defending and endorsing … whatever policies the global totalitarian Establishment are currently pushing – you say:

I am not too troubled by all of this outward and merely formal ecclesial subjection to the tyrannical civil authority.

I suppose the crux is that you regard this as ‘merely’ formal submission. Yet when formal *and informal* RCC discourse overwhelmingly endorses – and indeed instructs – not just submission, but enthusiastic and active participation, over many years and increasingly … Well, I believe you are in error.

Altogether, I don’t [see] you are putting forward a coherent argument here – which may simply mean that you are in a transitional phase.

Indeed I hope so; because I find your casual, dismissive attitude to the RCC enthusiastic-self-shut-down of 2020 (etc.) to be abhorrent!

Like Archbishop Viganò; I regard 2020 as probably the worst disaster in the history of Christianity, an existential catastrophe, the significance of which can hardly be exaggerated.

These are all important points, and it is important that I respond to them cogently, and forthrightly. The first thing that I would say in response is that this latest travesty of the craven responses of the various church hierarchs to the mandates of the civil authorities in respect to the supposed crisis of covid is not our first rodeo of that sort. Things were much, much worse with the Church during the Black Death, a real pandemic:

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On the Reason & Purpose & Intent of the Orthosphere

It is obvious that we can’t go back. We must go forward. The project of the Orthosphere is to limn a cult, a culture, and a society that can work properly for humans after modernism – including the modernist “Church” – has crashed, by dint of exploration of the traditional societies that worked.

Creating a new Christianity that is not the old time religion can’t work. That has already been tried. We are now living in the midst of the results of that experiment. So, one thing we can be pretty sure of is that a properly flourishing Western civilization will have to be founded upon and ordered by – and, in the last analysis, governed by – traditional, orthodox Christianity. Thus one of the main subsidiary projects of the Orthosphere is the explanation of and apology for orthodox Christian doctrine. To the extent that moderns find Christianity incredible or repugnant, it is usually because they misunderstand Christianity. One of our jobs is to do what we can to dispel their confusion.

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Moloch Will Want His Regular Meals: Cave!

The recent decisions of the Supreme Court cheat Moloch of his accustomed cheap comestibles. He’ll have to make do with less. But, as with all natural systems under the orbit of the moon, this is a case of pushing the envelope in one way only to see it bulge out in another. Moloch will be served, adequately, or there’ll be hell to pay, and no pitch hot.

There will be deaths. Not of children in the womb, but of others. Moloch must be fed, by his slaves. Now that he’ll be denied the food of babies from so many “trigger” states, he’ll need to be fed in some other way. His vassals will try to figure out how  to immolate some high profile victims, to sate his hunger and avert his wrath. I suspect they’ll offer up some from among their own company.

It can’t work. It can’t suffice. His wrath shall inevitably consume all his worshippers. There are not victims enough to sate his lust. His servants then are doomed.

Reject him! Serve the Lord of Life! Only thereby might you prevent your own ingestion, and dissolution, in the insatiable maw of Moloch.

The Maximality Test Crushes the Great Heresies

The Maximality Test simply asks which of any two notions of God are greater, along some many dimensions of excellence. It turns out that in practice, the Test straightly demolishes the great Christological and Trinitarian heresies so prevalent in the early Church from AD 33 through AD 2022.

Let’s run through those perennial heresies in alphabetical order (rather than order of their allure, historical importance, foolishness, or wickedness), and see how they fare under the Test. Their descriptions are taken from the Infogalactic article on Trinitarian and Christological heresies.

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The Sacraments are Prior to Everything Else in Mundane Life

Liturgical innovation – e.g., priestesses – is metaphysically obtuse. It presupposes that the sacraments are merely human artifacts, when in fact – the Lamb having been slain from the foundation of the world – they are logically prior to the creation. We are not the masters of the sacraments, any more than we are the masters of the oceans or the skies. Our office is not to deform them, but to reckon and grapple with them, as objective aspects of Reality.

If Reality is Real, then the sacraments in respect thereto, as given ideally, are nowise subject to correction. They are, rather, handed down from on high. There is then nothing we might do about them, or want to do about them, other than to admit them wholly to our lives. Do they want correction? That then is to be had only in their admission to our lives.

Not us, first, but the rite, and of course the obedience in it signified.

What the hell is a ritual for, after all, if in the last analysis it is just meaningless? If a ritual is meaningful, then it must just force us to its formal purposes. In what other way might we be interested to participate in it?

The Lamb Risen from the Foundation of the World

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Revelation 13:8

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium, et invisibilium. Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri: per quem omnia facta sunt. … Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato; passus et sepultus est, et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas, et ascendit in cælum, sedet ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuos, cuius regni non erit finis.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; by whom all things are made. … he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of AD 381

The Lamb is begotten of the Father before all worlds. Then from the foundation of our world is he slain – and, as a necessary forecondition of that sacrifice, is he first incarnate from the foundation of the world (for, what is not already mortal cannot be slain) – and so risen to the right hand of the Father from the foundation of the world. The whole story of Jesus happens from the foundation of the world.

Well, but then that means that Pilate too does what he does in that story from the foundation of the world, no? So do Mary, Joseph, the Apostles, the Romans and Jews, aye and the mosquito resting for a moment on the bark of a sequoia in California in AD 33 as Jesus slept in his tomb.

It *all* happens from the foundation of the world. Everything. Including this moment of your life. Thus must be so; for, worlds are integrities. They cohere. You can’t change a jot of a world without getting a different world than you had before you effected the change. Subtract Jesus from the history of the cosmos and you’d have a different cosmos than the one we have. Ditto for that mosquito, and for the sequoia. And for that itch you felt a moment ago. To constitute a world, it must all agree and hang together perfectly, from one end to the other – not just in space, but in time. Not one item of the thing is dispensable; not one sparrow, not one hair of your head. Everything matters; everything counts; the whole of it depends wholly upon each bit of it.

The whole of the history of our cosmos then happens from the foundation thereof.

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God Weighs In re Virtue Signalling

The virtue of virtue is humility; for, all the virtues derive from a prior proper recollection of the true order of things, in which God is foremost of all. Overweening pride then – such as we indulge whenever we worry about our selves, or their reputations, or form our acts first in respect thereto – is the vice of vice.

As to the ostention of virtue, then:

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:1-4

Humility is social chastity. Humility lies not in a recusal from the assertion of the truth as one sees it, but rather in a refusal to preen.

Also this: alms that cost you nothing are not alms in the first place.