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Alternet article on progressive Xtianity

February 28th, 2012 · 3 Comments

Why Progressives Can’t Ignore Religion

Wall or no wall, politics and religion have always been inextricably intertwined, and we won’t win until we recognize and deal with that fact.

Read the article, and consider my remarks later.

I have been critical of the New Atheists, from the left, without promoting religion or accomodationism, but this article at, surprise, Alternet gives space to a ‘Progressive Christian’ perspective. The article requires some thought, so I may comment later. I think that the many calls here for the left to consider their place in relation to the Reformation has born fruit in a reminder of the place that Christianity has played in activist movements.

But it is good to be cautious here: it is true that the Abolitionists were, to start, Christians, but it might help to see this in the context of the eonic effect, and the timing of the emergence of democratic revolution at the Great Divide: it wasn’t really Christian at all, but Quakerism, and riding on revolutionary times. It wasn’t really Christianity that was behind this, but the tide of democratic/liberal/revolutionary energy transforming secular culture in the exact and spooky timing of the eonic effect, ca. the end of the eighteenth century.

The problem, of course, was that much of the politics of secularism was already conservatised (the English Civil War was over a century in the past, as the Malthusian generation attacked the French Revolution), and, further, corrupted by the onset of industrial capitalism, making a stance against slavery problematical. We need hardly mention the muddle of the first Americans with their atrocious compromise.
So it was not really Christianity here, but the mysterious tide of ‘freedom emergence’ that crested with the French Revolution and found a vehicle free of the backshifting undertow.
In general, the mystery of Christianity requires a new understanding on the left, after the failures of atheist humanism in the legacy of Feuerbach. That is not a plea for theism, as such. But the embrace of progressive Christianity is likely to backfire. The image of Jesus as a socialist progressive is probably misleading, and we are embracing an unknown here.

Keep in mind that a figure like Gurdjieff, who claims to be ‘son of the esoteric Christian family’, and many sufis (who revere Jesus), was a super-reactionary, and would enter the equation here to destroy progressive Christian activism, with elusive occult means to which the left is totally blind.
The left, totally blind to occult reaction and its methods, would be a bunch of sitting ducks, with their thumb-sucking socialist Jesus.
These people were part of the occult right of the nineteenth century, as they stoked fascism, and finally nazism. It is not accident that super-reationary troglodytes like Gurdjieff were sent in by rightist sufis to take the measure of the Russian slide into revolution. The occult right is very organized, and will target progessive Christians in ways that would surprise you.
I cannot figure Jesus, despite the obvious hints of a sympathy towards the poor. He is a mystery inside a mystery, and isn’t your pious uncle. Such people are often in a mental fix over the non-dual: the result is an obscure mixture that could never be progressive. Unfair? I don’t know. But, while I disagree with the old left, they knew the dangers of occult penetration, and categorically rejected all religion to prevent that. An extreme that didn’t work, so forget it. But Christians are always open to the strange invultation of spirit that will transform them into conformist conservatives.
A progressive Christianity is, and has been real, but is like trying to walk with a cement block around your ankle. But the result, actually, has been better than the demonic explosion of Bolshevism and its cynical atheism. So progressive Christians with a cement block around their ankles might actually do something.
But the left can do better than solidarity with stale Christianity: they can and should reinvent the whole field, with a genuine stance on spirituality. A tall order, but the Marxist brand has failed, and stepping backward to pre-Kantian Christianity is going to fall in its own way, despite the obvious legacies of success, viz. MLK and the Civil Rights Movement.
Consider Hegel and/or Schopenhauer: the job is almost done. With Kant at the figurehead.
Btw, if you study him, you might discover MLK to be a closet Hegelian!
How explain the rapid shift to the right of the American Christian church? That doesnt’ square with a progressive fantasy of the liberal Jesus.
In fact, we don’t understand Christianity, and I certainly welcome this perspecive one way or the other.
But leftist atheists who embrace a theistic religion for political purposes are likely to miscalculate what they are dealing with.
Why be so negative? This is useful development, and we can see that with the Occupy movement the old Feuerbachian humanism of the nineteenth century is no longer very viable.
My point is not to embrace Christianity, but to note that this regression arises because of the left’s failure to study religion. They have no viable substitute, and after the collapse of the old atheist humanism, and the conservative cast of the New Atheists, need to start from scratch.
The study of Christianity suggested here in this interesting article is a good step to something better.

More on this later. But it is important to note that Protestantism is a secular vehicle. The attempt to complete the Reformation by Kant, Hegel, et al., agree or not, gives a lot of strong hints about a real leftist successor to now slowly crumbling Christian churchs.

But the Jesus riddle is deep, and doubly deep once you factor in the ‘Christ’ factor. This mystery has eluded Christians, so maybe the left can take it up!

I think that something genuinely esoteric (that’s means, unknown…) is involved here, and that the pieces of the puzzle are too fragmentary to figure out the game. But the reductionist materialism that rejects occultism will never have a clue as to this slick piece of work that fooled everyone and stretching over a whole generation and a half, with three (a triad) ‘gurus’, John, Jesus, Paul, in a concerted and super-clever operation that used them like chess pieces, the reason for the increasing sense that Jesus was a real time pawn of the Christ acting in a drama. It seems the game was too tricky for its own good, and nearly derailed, but somehow the confusion crystallized as more or less intended.

My point is that if you are an atheist on the left who wants to manipulate progressive Christianity, you are in for a surprise. The shadowy side of early Christianity is well matched by its later swear words, of which ‘Great Ceasar’s Ghost’ is not the least.
The ghost scene is Hamlet is another fitting exercise for Feuerbachian leftists, and I think that the sudden sense of a ‘spiritual’ (but not supernatural) domain behind Christianity should be elementary.
In any case, the Christians misunderstood their own religion, and an example the the ‘god man’ as Jesus/Christ mythology of still primitive polytheists on the twelve step program, a riddle solved by Hegel in five minutes as the symbolism that it was, and a rich and musical one, lost on the superstitious early Xtians.
I think the left should have a branch of madmen trying to get to the bottom of this for the Feuerbachian hold-outs in the ghost scene. The result could easily be a good contribution to confused Christianity, and a failed religous analysis by the left.

There are many outstanding hints here. Take the doctrine of the Trinity. Isn’t it a hopeless muddle of the Samkhya materialism of triads, from India, turned into the world’s strangest concoction of nonsense by its Christian cadre? Over and over there is a simple way out of the woods on the intractable beliefs of the Christian church (mostly late codifications of empire) that have frozen in place and made change difficult.

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