The Eclipse Of Thought — Quote From Ellul’s Propaganda

“(When examining propaganda) we shall stress the dissociation between thought and action, which seems to us one of the most disturbing facts of our time. Nowadays, man acts without thinking, and in turn his thought can no longer be translated into action. Thinking has become a superfluous exercise, without reference to reality; it is purely internal, without compelling force, more or less a game. It is a literature’s domain; and I am not referring solely to ‘intellectual; thought, but to all thought, with concerns work or politics or family life. In sum, thought and reflection have been rendered thoroughly pointless by the circumstances in which modern man lives and acts. He does not need to think in order to act; his action is determined by the techniques he uses and by the sociological conditions. He acts without really wanting to, without ever reflecting on the meaning of or reason for his actions. This situation is the result of the whole evolution of our society. The schools, the press, and the social pragamatism are just as responsible for this as the psychotechnics, the modern political structure, and the obsession with productivity. But the two decisive factors are the mechanization of work and propaganda.

The mechanization of work is based on entirely on dissociation: those who think, establish the schedules, or set the norms, never act — and those who act must do so according to rules, patterns and plans imposed on them from outside. Above all they must not reflect on their actions. They can not do so anyhow, because of the speed with which they work. The modern ideal appears to be a reduction of action to complete automatism. This is considered to be a great benefit to the worker, who can dream or think of ‘other things’ while working. But this dissociation, which lasts eight hours a day, must necessarily affect all the rest of behaviour.

The other element that plays a decisive role in this connection is propaganda. Remember that propaganda seeks to induce action, adherence, and participation — with as little thought as possible. According to progaganda, it is useless, even harnful for man to think; thinking prevents him from acting with the required righteousness and simplicity. Action muct come directly from the depths of the unconcious; it must release tension, become a reflex. This presumes that thought unfolds on an entirely unreal level, that it never engages in political decision. And this is in fact so. No political thought that is at all conherent or distinct can possibly be applied. What man thinks either is totally without effect or must remain unsaid. This is the basic condition of the political organization of the modern world, and progapganda is the instrument to attain this effect. An example that show the radical devaluation of thought is the transformation of words in propaganda; there, language, the instrument of the mind, becomes ‘pure sound,’ a symbol directly evoking feelings and reflexes. This is one of the most serious dissociations that progapanda causes. There is another: the dissociation betwen the verbal universe, in which propaganda makes us live, and reality. Propaganda sometimes deliberately separates from man’s real world the verbal world that it creates; it then tends to destory man’s conscience.”

Jaques Ellul
Propaganda — The Formation Of Men’s Attitudes
pg. 179-181

A Beautiful Quote On What God Pursues As God’s Highest Good

“They (Sundry Philanthropists) say that sin«e disinterestedness is the property of every virtuous act, and selfishness is the hateful root of vice, in all other beings, it would be immoral in God, thus to propose Himself as His own supreme end, and to arrogate to Himself the services of all creatures, exhausting their well-being upon Himself. They urge that this would be selfishness more enormous than that of sinful men, just as its claims are more vast. They exclaim that this scheme makes God the great egotist of the universe. On the contrary, they display their own scheme (their Philanthropy) in enviable contrast for its disinterestedness, as making the welfare of our fellow men the chief end.

These cavils against the Christian law assume that it is intrinsically wrong for a being to direct his aims to his own wellbeing. But this is not true. There is a sense in which self-love is lawful, even for a creature; yea, the absence of it may be positive sin. There is another reason why the selfishness of fallen man is criminal: It is because a question of prior right intervenes. Our Creator puts in claims to the fruits of our existence, which are superior to all others; and therefore it is sin to be supremely selfish, because it robs our Maker of that which we received of Him. But God is indebted to none for His existence and powers. He alone is eternal, uncaused, and independent. Obviously then, it is invalid to reason that, because, in a creature, supreme egotism would be an odious crime, therefore it would ‘be a vice in the uncreated God. That regard for one’s own well-being which, even in the creature, may toe a proper subordinate end, may be in the Creator a most righteous supreme end.

But Christianity can defend itself with more positive arguments upon this point. God, being immutable, is ever actuated by the same motives. But when His eternal purpose of creation and providence subsisted in His mind, “before He had made the highest part of the dust of the earth,” or laid the foundations of the heavens, He must have been self-moved thereto; for the irrefragable reason, that nothing else existed besides Himself, to be a motive. Is it said that creatures, the future recipients of His beneficence, were present in thought, and were the motives of His purpose? The reply is at hand, that they existed as yet, only in His purpose; which purpose was the expression of His own subjective desire and impulse alone, seeing nothing but Himself existed. Hence the very purpose to create creatures to be the recipients of His bounty, was simply the result of self-gratification, because the perfections of nature thereby indulged were infinitely benignant. But whatever was God’s motive in the earliest eternity, is His motive still; for He is without “variableness, or shadow of turning.” When it is remembered that we are creatures, it is easily concluded, that our highest duty is to God. He is the author of our existence, our powers, our happiness, and supporter of our nature. He is our proprietor, in a sense so high that all other forms of ownership almost vanish away, when set beside God’s. He is, moreover, by His own perfections, the properest object of all reverence, homage, and suitable service. So that, manifestly, it is the highest virtue in the creature, that he should offer to God the supreme tribute of his being and service. But if it is obligatory on the creature to offer this, it cannot be wrong in God to accept it.

Hence, we repeat, God’s most proper ultimate end, in all His creation ‘and government, is the gratification of His own adorable perfections in His acting. And the creature’s highest duty is not chiefly to seek his own good, or that »f his fellow creatures; but the glory of God. He is the center, in.’whom originated all beings, and to whom all should tend. His will and glory is the keystone of the whole moral order of the universe. As it was the gratification of His infinite activity which originated all creature existences, with all their powers of doing and enjoying, so it is His self-prompted desire to diffuse His infinite beneficence, which-is the spring of all the well-being in the universe. And here is the conclusive answer to the cavil which we have been discussing: How can it be selfishness in God to make the gratification of His own nature His supreme law, where that nature is infinitely unselfish and benevolent? In this light, the objection is seen to be of a piece with that wretched philosophizing which argues, that, because the loving mother, the sympathizing benefactor, are actuated by their own subjective impulse, in succoring the objects of their kindness, and find pleasure in the act, therefore it is not disinterested. Common sense, as true philosophy, replies: aye, but is not the pleasure itself a pleasure in disinterestedness? What higher definition of a disinterested nature can be given, than to say that its most instinctive pleasure is in doing good?

Thus, as God’s own most suitable end is the satisfaction of His own excellent perfections; so the creature’s chief end is to glorify aod enjoy Him. This benevolent God has, of course, given the duties of benevolence to man a large place in the law which he has enacted for men; but even in our freest acts of beneficence to our fellows, we are required to have a reference supremely to Him whose creatures they are. Love to our neighbor is to be a corollary from love to our God. We are chiefly to seek His glory in their good, as in our own; and these are always in complete harmony. Hence it follows that whenever man makes his own, or his fellows’ good his chief end, he necessarily comes short of that good; and the only way to gain it, is to seek the higher end. Nor is there a paradox, when we thus say, that in order that man may truly attain his own well-being, he must truly prefer something else to it. Is it not a parallel, and an admitted truth, to say, that it is only when the virtuous man prefers some better end than applause, in his actions, that they are truly virtuous and deserving of applause? An instructive instance of this great law of our well-being is found by every one in common life. Who has not experienced this: that the days and the efforts which have been especially devoted to our own enjoyment, have usually disappointed us of enjoyment, while the days, which we devote primarily to duty, are thickly strewn with wayside flowers of unexpected pleasure?

Christian philanthropy’derives its efficiency, no less than its purity, from this, that it all flows from the Christian’s love of his God. He is an object, who never disappoints us, who never changes nor forgets; who never shows Himself forgetful or neglectful of our affectionate service; who never disgusts our efforts by unworthiness; and who has pledged the most generous reward to every true act of humanity. But if we make man our chief end, he usually shews himself, soon, unworthy to be our end. He alienates our love; he disgusts us by the follies and crimes which cruelly counteract our efforts for his good; he renders us indignant by his ingratitude. Such an idol as this can never animate us with a devotion, which will rise to the pure and enduring self-sacrifice of Christian charity. Hence, if for no worse reason, worldly philanthropy is ever feeble, unsteady, evanescent.

R. L. Dabney
Vol. IV — Secular Discussions
The Crimes of Philanthropy — pp. 60-63

The beauty of this includes the idea that God is not only God’s highest good but in the self-giving of God in the Trinitarian communion we also see that God serves as our vision of the most selfless being of all. In the eternal intra-Trinitarian communion each member of the Trinity seeks to selflessly pursue the glory of each of the other member’s of the Trinity. The Fathers resolved to glorify the Son and the Son likewise sought to glorify the Father. The Spirit was sent by the Father and Son to glorify the Son as He glorifies the Father and in accomplishing His work the Spirit glorifies Father and Son who in turn Glorify the Spirit by giving Him as the Church’s inheritance. We see in all of this that God while God is the highest good in all that He pursues, He also is, at the same time, the most self-giving in all that He pursues.

However, in all of this God’s ultimate aim is never the creature. To be sure, the good of God towards the creature (particularly the Elect) is the residue of God’s pursuit in all He does but man always remains God’s penultimate aim and never His ultimate aim. God is eternally satisfied in Himself, and does all He does for His own Glory. Because this is true fallen man has great hope and is called to delight only in what God delights in.

Failure to accept this reasoning is a failure of the modern Church. The modern church fails, in this regard, first of all because we seldom speak about these matters and the reluctance to speak about these matters leaves the stubborn selfishness of man in place. Secondly, as the stubborn selfishness of man is left in place the consequence is that men create whole theologies out of the idea that man is God’s highest good. Man develops systems of thought where Jesus died for men before He died to glorify the Father, and by such “theology,” the good is made the enemy of the best. From here these kinds of theology end up developing the Christian understanding of God’s chief end as one where God exists in order to glorify man and fully enjoy him forever. When this kind of “theology” is given its head it results in man being ensconced as deity and with man viewing God as the great vending machine in the sky, who exists only to give man whatever man wants. God thus is reduced to being the servant of man and anthropology becomes theology. Such “theology,” may be seen in the simple statement, “God loves you and as a wonderful plan for your life,” when perhaps it should be at least understood by people who make such statements that, “God loves God and has ordained a wonderful plan to glorify Himself.”

It may be the case that of all the troubles that roils the modern Church today, the foundational problem is that God’s people, never mind those outside the Church, no longer have this high vision of God. And with this low vision the putatively “saved” man is turned into a even uglier creature then the unsaved man since the putatively “saved” has baptized his self-centeredness and called it Holy.

Great Criminal War Minds Think Alike

“To the petulant and persistent secessionists, why death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better . . . . Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people will cripple their military resources”

William T. Sherman
Quoting Fellman biography,
On Southerners

“You must understand that this war is not against Hitler or National Socialism, but against the strength of the German people, which is to be smashed once and for all, regardless of whether it is in the hands of Hitler or a Jesuit priest… I do not want suggestions as to how we can disable the economy and the machinery of war; what I want are suggestions as to how we can roast the German refugees on their escape from Breslau.”

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill, Emrys Hughes, Winston Churchill – His Career in War and Peace, p. 145; quoted as per: Adrian Preissinger, Von Sachsenhausen bis Buchenwald, p. 23.

Quoted in: Juan Maler, Die Unvollendete, p. 27

Genesis to Revelation In Two Sentences

Like a symphony, Scripture is a unified whole that contains multiple diverse themes that are developed and incased in the narratival canonical plotline.

The OT is the story of God, who progressively reestablishes his new creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit through promise, covenant, and redemption, resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this kingdom and judgment (defeat or exile) for the unfaithful, unto his glory.

The NT heightens and develops the OT score and storyline by giving us Jesus whose life, trials, death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit have launched the fulfillment of the eschatological already — not yet new — creational reign, bestowed by grace alone through faith alone and resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this new-creational reign and resulting in judgment for the unbelieving unto the triune God’s Glory.

Paraphrase of G.K. Beale
A NT Biblical Theology — pg. 16

Now the question for Dr. Beale would be, “Is the worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this new-creational reign a commission that is exhaustive and totalistic touching every area of life?”

It is hard to imagine a new-creational reign that is limited, muted or stunted in what it re-orders.

George Washington … Deist or Christian?

“Washington’s own religious pronouncements as president were basically unitarian with deistic overtones and in keeping with civil religion beliefs. The Rev. Dr. James Abercrombie, rector of St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia where Washington often worshipped when the seat of government was located there, went so far as to affirm that the chief executive was a deist and lax in his attention to the Eucharist. To be sure, Washington was not disrespectful toward the church, but according to testimony from both Abercrombie and Rev. William White, the first Episcopal bishop of Pennsylvania, Washington was not a zealous churchgoer nor was he in the habit of partaking of the sacrament. Moreover, he was notorious for not kneeling to pray in public worship. At the church in Philadelphia, he often attended the pulpit service but left before the observance of the Eucharist, usually leaving the more devout Mrs. Washington behind with the other communicants. When Dr. Abercrombie in a sermon scolded those in places of public trust who set bad examples by turning their backs on the sacrament, Washington was so irked that he never appeared at St. Peter’s on Communion Sunday again. This ambivalence towards orthodoxy characterized Washington’s church-going habits and this attitude toward organized religion in general during his years as president. He attended sporadically, listened courteously, but participated little in the life of the local church. He never spoke of any personal belief in Christ but rather reserved his affirmations of faith in the Supreme Ruler of the Nations for his personal letters or civil religion occasions of the government such as the presidential inaugural.”

Pierard & Linder
“Civil Religion & the Presidency”

Letter from R. J. Rushdoony to Cornelius Van Til,

Dear Dr. Van Til,

This is a hasty note in respect to George Washington. What the history books have to say about him and his biographers is no more trusted than what James Daane has to say about you.

George Washington grew up into the 18th century Rationalism. A basically conservative, land loving man, a part of his conservatism was to accept, without great question, the rationalism of his day. However, the events of the war, led to a somewhat altered perspective, and then the French Revolution, during his presidency, altered his outlook markedly. He strongly opposed the French Revolution. He emphatically affirmed infallibility as the bedrock of the Christian faith as against rationalism. Previously a Mason, he supported Rev. Jeddidiah Morse, leading orthodox Calvinist of the day, in his attack on free-masonry and wrote at least two letters to Morse to underscore with his own testimony the validity of Morse’ attack. It is in terms of this that his 1796 quote is to be understood.

I shared the lecture platform, in Houston Texas recently, with Gregg Singer, who rightfully called attention to the strongly Christian thought in the Constitutional convention by men such as Rutledge, Dickinson, John Jay and others. Certainly, Patrick Henry, nominally, like Washington a Anglican represented, as Singer stated the Reformed faith with intensity. Henry was in his day a “Traveling Monk” in the eyes of some, because of his habit of carrying Reformed literature in his saddle bags to distribute to other lawyers. Even on his death bed, Henry witnessed to the faith to his agnostic Doctor.

Such aspects of American history are anathema to our historians, who, from the early 1800’s, when the Unitarians began to write our history, to the present when relativists have taken over, have worked more systematically to re-make the history and the founding fathers after their own image. In those days, it was necessary to affirm infallibility and the trinity to vote, and what many people forget is that the deistic writings of Franklin and Jefferson were not published in their day but privately written. Jefferson’s unbelief was widely suspected, but he avoided public profession of it.

We are too little aware of how Christian the laws were in all the states. As late as 1912, on state constitution still required that one be a Christian to hold citizenship and vote. Only last Summer did the New Jersey Supreme court strike down an old statute, once universal in all the states, denying the right of atheists to be witnesses in a court of law because of their inability to take the oath honestly and because they lacked citizenship.

Cordially,

R. J. Rushdoony

Hat Tip — Mickey Bolwerk