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The West Has Lost Its Sense of Meaning

Please consider the wall hangings in this photo from a remote village in Belarus:

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And please note the plaque over the door in this painting of a home in Delft, in 1658:

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In both of these cases we see people inserting meaning into their lives. This is something very few people do in the modern West, and it illustrates a fundamental change in our civilization.

Consider, as a further illustration, the seemingly mundane issue of naming streets. In the 19th century, new streets were named after great men. By the late 20th century that had changed entirely. Now, streets are named after geographical features: Fox Run, Spring Grove, Forest Ridge, and so on.

While any individual street name may be trivial by itself, a complete change in a naming convention amongst hundreds of millions of people speaks of something deeper. So does the fact that almost no one in the West hangs images and words of personal devotion on their walls any longer. Mainly they hang abstract art.

What Does This Mean?

The lady in the first photo placed images of meaningful people on her walls: beloved progenitors, holy men, and so on. These were “higher than mundane” standards to her: inspiration toward the high and good… and more than that, transcendent human inspirations.

If and when you have a chance, I encourage you to attend a cocktail party or some such gathering and begin to talk about the beauty and genius of mankind. But I also suggest that you be prepared to be insulted, because such talk is heresy in modern circles. Man, it is understood, is dirty, low, and dangerous. And it is because of this that we no longer place images of great women and men on our walls.

There are a few exceptions of course, but they are exceptions, not the norm.

What this means is:

  • We no longer revere humans, except the idols of this year’s election of course. They’re our versions of Rome’s gladiators. We (and I’m using “we” very broadly today) watch as they slash and thrust at each other, cheering for our side, and imagining that the spectacle will somehow improve our lives. But we have lost all sight of great and transcendent men and women. And so we have lost the expectation of ourselves becoming better than we are, save through the muck of politics. But with the transcendent man’s face on our wall, we had an image of someone higher to think about and relate to. These images helped us improve and aspire to higher things.

  • We no longer have an independent standard. Back when the West had Christianity, there was always an outside standard by which to judge the world. The king may have had the power to kill, but his actions were always compared to a higher standard. And because of that he could be roundly condemned. (And often was.) With that standard taken away – and replaced with a gaping void – we’re left with no star to guide by. Within that vacuum, filthy politics has become the god of the age, holding power over all human affairs.

How Did This Happen?

The answer is complex, but I’ll summarize here very briefly:

  1. Christianity was regimented and its implementations were broadly corrupted. Judaism, the other outside standard, was shoved away and violently punished… frequently.

  2. The Enlightenment turned dark about halfway through its run and attacked everything outside itself.

  3. Nation-states consolidated and grew very large, legitimating themselves with democracy rather than Christianity.

  4. Huge wars repetitively decimated the West, bringing death and privation to millions of families and driving dark philosophies to the fore.

  5. As laws, regulations, and agencies multiplied, law was overcome by politics and society was overtaken by the state.

  6. The political left learned to win by endlessly criticizing traditional society, a practice that continues. At the same time, the political right came to believe that state-sanctioned violence was inherently virtuous; by this (and the associated “good guy/bad guy” narrative) the most outgoing branches of Christianity were brought into partnership with the state.

There’s much more to say on this subject (and I refer you to issues #42, 67, and 90 of FMP), but this gives you a general outline. The West has lost its sense that humans can be great. They’ve also lost their view of any outside standard.

These things need to be restored.

* * * * *

As it turns out, history was never too hard to understand; they just told you the wrong story.

Comments from readers:

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“Packed with insights on every page concerning how the world came to be the way it is and what we might expect in the future.”

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

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  • Greg Bower

    When was Christianity broadly corrupted?

    • Paul Rosenberg

      That’s a book-length subject, and while I may write that book some day, it will not be today. (And please note that I wrote “implementations” of Christianity.)

      Let’s just say that by the time of indulgences, implementations of Christianity were seriously awry.

      • Greg Bower

        Understood. I am not looking for a fight. I would agree that Martin Luther had some good points and had he chosen a different path (rather than schism), we wouldn’t have so many variations on what is, quite frankly, the best way to live. I merely want to point out that, in my humble opinion, the writings of the apostles and the Church fathers are my source of inspiration and guidance. Jesus founded one Church and it’s still the Church to which I belong, even if it is run by imperfect humans (and has been since the beginning). After all St. Peter and St. Paul weren’t exactly the type of people I’d have chosen to lead a global movement given their histories…

  • jim stretch

    Possibly one of the reasons Jordan Peterson is now so popular how about men in their twenties is he tells them it’s appropriate to live lives of meaning

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Yes! And I am deeply pleased by that.

  • Ed

    We do have an independent standard. It’s called Universally Preferable Behaviour. People just need to be in the habit of pointing out when it is violated.

    • Paul Rosenberg

      I wouldn’t welcome that as a useful standard for a number of reasons, but I do not want to argue about it.

  • Steve

    The problem is that no matter how hard human beings try to implement our righteous “standards” they will never endure for long. We all like to conveniently fantasize that we will stand up for that which we believe, but when we are eventually looking down the barrel of some aggressive bully’s gun – the vast majority of us will submit to his demands in order to save ourselves no matter how just and righteous is the standard that we previously embraced! Consequently, aggressive bullies with guns will always control this Godforsaken world! We all opine about what should be, but in the end it is the bully with the gun who always gets his way until a bully with a bigger gun comes along and dominates the previous bully!

    • Paul Rosenberg

      No, it’s not that dark. Consider the fact that I’ve been able to run this blog for 5 years, that we possess strong encryption, that Bitcoin exists and thrives, that millions of people are peacefully armed, that politicians are held in dirt-low regard, that humans are less cruel than they were, that humans are more creative than they were, that private space flight is thriving, and much, much more.

      While darkness does sadly remain, light remains too… and it is slowly expanding.

      • Steve

        Before we get to giddy about the future let’s take an honest look at the past! Take an honest look at Alexandria, Athens, Rome, and especially Nazi Germany. At one point Nazi Germany was the most technologically advanced country in the world, then in a few short years is was a pathetic pile of rubble after Hitler and his ruthless band of sociopathic bullies forced their insane vision on the people who trusted them to safeguard their welfare!

        I am sad to say the the sociopathic bullies have slowly been amassing control of the United States until they now have almost complete control and it is just a matter of time until they force their insane vision on naive and gullible Americans! The US government is far more corrupt than most people will allow themselves to accept, but they cannot seem to see it because they have been seduced by all of their fascinating technological distractions!

        When are Americans going to stop ignoring the 20,000 pound elephant in the room? When are we going to stop pretending that everything is fine? When are we going to finally face the truth? When are we going to admit that the Unites States government is turning America into a tyrannical police state that is diametrically opposed to the country that was originally envisioned and established by our brilliant Founding Fathers? When are we going to accept the fact that our beautiful country has been surreptitiously invaded from within, and that it has been conquered more effectively and more efficiently than any external invasion could have ever accomplished? When are we going to admit that the US government has surreptitiously and illegally usurped powers that were never granted to it by our magnificent Constitution, which is the supreme law of America and to which all other laws must conform? When are we going to admit that the US government is now corrupt, criminal, and illegitimate? That it is totally bankrupt both morally and economically? That it is out of control?

        On June 21, 1788 the United States Constitution became the supreme law of the United States. In a concerted effort to preserve and protect the Constitution for posterity from anyone, who would destroy it for their own selfish, diabolical purposes, the Founding Fathers established the requirement that every federal, state and county official would take a solemn oath to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic”. Why can’t we accept the fact that even though every federal, state, and county government official, who has ever held office in America, has been legally required to support and defend the United States Constitution; that the vast majority of these officials (99%) have never read the Constitution, even though it only takes about 15 minutes to do so! Consequently, there is no way that they could possibly know what it actually requires. So how can they possibly obey their solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution? And keep in mind that most of the remaining 1%, who have read the Constitution, don’t actually “support and defend” it, which they are legally, ethically, and morally required to do, because it is nearly impossible to resist the momentum of the corrupt system that now exists!

        Naïve and gullible Americans have conveniently allowed themselves to be deceived into believing that they must follow the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution even though the Constitution has no such requirement. Excuse me but the Constitution was designed to limit the power of the government, yet Americans meekly allow the Supreme Court, which is part of the government, to decide what the government’s limitations should be! This is completely insane! Juries of regular Americans, who live in the real world, are supposed to interpret the Constitution – not the government! History has conclusively and irrefutably proven over and over again that every government, which has been allowed to define its limitations, has eventually degenerated into a ruthless, brutal police state; and that is exactly what is happening in America right now!

        So, even though the US Constitution is technically the supreme law of America, it has been surreptitiously superseded by a system of laws that is almost completely unconstitutional. Nevertheless this unconstitutional legal system is enforced by a renegade government using force and threats of violence! When are these oath-takers going to admit that supporting and defending the Constitution is the very basis for their existence as public servants; that they derive their legal authority from the Constitution; and that they are not obeying their solemn oath? Consequently they have no legal authority! They are operating under the color of law! They are outlaws! They are traitors!
        There is absolutely no valid, legal excuse for not supporting and defending the US Constitution! Let’s finally face the truth, these renegade government officials are liars, cowards, extortionists, terrorists, and traitors! They are criminals of the worst kind! They are domestic enemies of America and its Constitution, and they should be tried for treason and sentenced to long prison terms! The fact that none of them has been prosecuted for treason is irrefutable proof that the US government is corrupt, criminal, illegitimate, morally bankrupt, and out of control.

        It appears that, as long as Americans have “a beer and a ballgame”, or any number of other pleasant but childish distractions to pursue; they couldn’t care less about truth, principles, morality, individual liberty, or the Constitution! They are disgusting and pathetic losers! Does America have to degenerate into a North Korea style police state before these pathetic Americans finally realize what they have so foolishly and irresponsibly squandered? Isn’t it painfully obvious that it will be too late by then? Shame on them!

        Does anyone truly care about America and the revolutionary idea of individual liberty that she was originally established to promote and protect? An idea so powerful that it created the freest, most powerful nation that has ever existed and totally transformed the world into a much better place for everyone to live! Does anyone still care about truth, justice, principles, ethics, morals, and individual liberty, or have we all been corrupted by the neurotic, immature quest for material possessions and the twisted and dangerous delusion of government provided “security”?

        Isn’t it obvious that the “cure” has become far worse than the disease which that cure was supposed to alleviate? If our brilliant founding fathers could see what Americans have done to the beautiful country that these brave founders risked everything to establish, they would vomit! Will America degenerate into an omnipotent police state in which all individual liberty and meaningful human progress has been completely crushed, or is it possible that liberty can somehow still prevail? Wake up America before it is too late! We don’t have much time!

  • Steve

    Paul, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I think that you are a genius, and I believe that this will be obvious to any honest, reasonably intelligent person. Thanks for your insights. I appreciate them very much. But like all other human beings, not all of your insights are correct. As far as I am concerned, that is the point of this forum. It is a place where we can disagree and then politely debate those disagreements until the truth is eventually uncovered. So when I post on this forum, I do it under the assumption that we are seeking the truth.

    However it just occurred to me that truth might not be the objective here. Maybe the objective is to explore only those issues that make us feel good. If so, I understand completely. Each person has the absolute right to pursue their own vision, no matter what it may be, as long as it doesn’t interfere with any other person’s right to do the same. So if this is a “feel good” forum, then please accept my sincerest apologies for “raining on your parade”. And I am not being sarcastic or critical in any way, shape or form. If you desire to focus only on those facts that make you feel good, then please stop reading this message.However, if you care about truth no matter where it takes you, then please read on.

    Regarding my last post, you opined that it was “too dark”. There can be absolutely no doubt that it was dark. While it is debatable as to exactly how dark it was, the important question is “Was it true?” Truth doesn’t care if you like it or not – it is what it is, period the end!

    You probably don’t accept the assertion that America has degenerated into a fascist police state that is akin to Nazi Germany. After all the Nazis were ruthless, brutal killers who purposefully murdered more than 6 million innocent human beings and profited from their deaths. However, if you would take an honest look at reality, you will see that today’s American corporate fascists are busy murdering millions of innocent people and profiting from their deaths just like the Nazis!

    The brutal truth is that this American holocaust has been very cleverly camouflaged, but it is a holocaust nevertheless! While the Nazis had to do their own killing, the American corporate fascists have discovered a deadly killer that cannot be connected to them in any way. That killer is “cancer”. Since war was declared on cancer by Nixon in 1971 more than 10 million Americans have been killed by this horrible, terrifying disease and more than 500 billion taxpayer dollars have been spent on the “War on Cancer”, and yet there still is no officially recognized cure. In fact, more than 600,000 Americans will die from cancer this year alone, which is more than any other year!

    Cancer is a sociopath’s dream. All he and his clever associates have to do is put themselves into position to profit from the deaths of the millions of hapless cancer victims and then prevent anyone from introducing a true cure into mainstream medicine! This can be easily done by making the cost to obtain approval for a cancer cure so astronomically high that nobody could possibly acquire the funds necessary to prove the efficacy of their treatment. That is why it costs over 100 million dollars to conduct a double blind clinical trial!

    Without this proof, the corporate fascists can persecute and prosecute any and all people who would use any sort of “unapproved” cancer cure no matter how effective it might be, and that is exactly what is happening and what has happened for the past 100 years in America! All the while the clever sociopaths can cry their big crocodile tears and moan about the tragedy of the cancer epidemic and how hard they are looking for a cure! Even though they have absolutely no intention of doing so! And there is only one small problem – there already is a cure for cancer! I know this for a fact because my wife used it to put her breast cancer into complete remission, and she is just one of hundreds who have done the same thing! the “War on Cancer” is a complete scam and a fraud – it is nothing less than a holocaust!

    If you have ever heard a doctor tell you or someone you who love that “you have cancer”, you would know the absolutely shocking horror and terror that these words will create in your heart and soul. Believe me, after hearing these words, the last thing that you are interested in is going to Mars, or investing in Bitcoin! All you want to do is somehow survive and that’s all there is to it!

    Believe me when I say that the holocaust is alive and well in America. In fact the Nazis would be green with envy! It is past time for naive and gullible Americans to wake, pull their heads out of their selfish asses, and take a cold, hard look at reality. Then it’s time for them to rip their wealth and freedom from the grasp of the clever sociopathic corporate monsters who will murder them for profit! Thanks for your kind attention.

  • http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/ Ted R. Weiland

    Officially lost in 1787 when a cadre of Enlightenment and Masonic theistic rationalists (aka, the constitutional framers) replaced the early 17th-century Christian Colonial governments of, by, and for God expressly established upon His immutable/unchanging moral law with their own humanistic government of, by, and for the people based upon capricious man-made traditions.

    For more regarding these two polar opposite forms of government, see Chapter 3
    “The Preamble: WE THE PEOPLE vs. YAHWEH” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective” at http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/BlvcOnline/biblelaw-constitutionalism-pt3.html.

    Then find out how much you really know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey at http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/ConstitutionSurvey.html and receive a complimentary copy of a book that examines the Constitution by the Bible.

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