This post is the fourth part in a series of discussions between James and Lynn on the work of Nassim Taleb, see part 1, part 2, and part 3.
Lynn: Taleb wrote a piece on lent, Easter, and blood sacrifice that I wanted to discuss with you. My thoughts were that the lack of blood sacrifice in Western religious practices is akin to the relinquishment of the individual's responsibility for violence to the State. No bloodshed means no spiritual life. When I read the King James Bible at age 19, one of the few things I was able to gather from it is that worshiping God in the Old Testament meant sacrificing to God. It does not mean singing songs while swaying in the church pew. I grew up going to various super-fun-rock-band churches (that is from Ann Barnhardt, Queen of Crackpots), and the songs just make my skin crawl. I don't mind singing the older hymns though.
So far from requiring blood, or any effort whatsoever, most modern "non-denomenational" Christian churches insist that there is nothing for Christians to do but say a few magic words and accept salvation. It never felt right to me.
James: Lynn, there are so many varieties of new Christian churches that I cannot even address that subject, other than to say that these churches only remain vibrant for the first two generations. There is a constant branching by young Christians, making their own churches, even building them with their hands, in a never ending attempt to correct for the materialism that tends to creep so easily into church life.
My sister left the Catholic Church to join a first-generation church. In the Catholic Church, as a boy, I was exposed to the gay, light-rock, feel-good, hippie version of New Age Catholicism and even at eight, saw it is a phony attempt to make religion cool for kids. There is, in Catholicism, a focus on sacrifice and the symbolism of blood, but the only sacrifice asked by the priest is the donation. I recall my parents being humiliated when their two dollar donations were posted in the church weekly, next to those made by business owners and CEOs. This is where religion always ends up and that is why American Christians have reformed as young churches constantly, for the four centuries of our continually fracturing history.
In the Appalachian and rural piedmont churches I have attended, the notion of sacrifice seems to focus on not taking the many pleasures that the gross world offers—a post monastic form of abstinence that fits well in such a pleasure-saturated society and I think makes a good surrogate for bleeding. The better postmodern churches are, in a sense, fertile monasteries.
Also, there is still a crusading notion among rural Christians who make up the bulk of U.S combatants in its money-grubbing wars, a notion I see as being exploited by the globalists, but is authentic none-the-less in the minds of many, who see themselves as holding back The Caliphate.
The musical orientation of some of the money-focused, feel-good churches you mention reminds me of the black ghetto churches in Baltimore, which manage to concentrate money and sexual access in the person of a store front minister. The only sacrifice being made in these churches is the woman’s giving of her oft-sampled sexual goods to the neighborhood patriarch, who stands as the alternative to the other two patriarchs in the black community: the drug king pin and White Daddy [government].
Traditionally, in American Protestantism, the notion of sacrifice has been Abrahamic, in that sons were sacrificed to the wars of expansion that spread the Gospels among the Heathen and that the lives of the early plantation Congregationalists in New England were literally sunk into the alien soil in their effort to eradicate the native forest ecology and replace it with a grassland. In 1868, Messach Browning recalled that he had done his Christian duty by siring a family of 64 sons, grandsons and great grandsons, who stood ready to fight for his nation—an overtly Christian nation.
Aside from the sacrifice of sons in war and the more heroic sacrifice of one’s self [which has never been the preferred American sacrifice, sons being favored over self], the protestant ethic of toil, or doing what a man can to live a virtuous life on an evil earth is almost Roman in character. The best example of this would be the ploughing scene in Sergeant York, where the hero, played by Gary Cooper is shown working the land, literally attacking the rugged natural environment.
In respect to sacrifice, in American culture, the notion among Catholics has been completely farmed out to the past, of Jesus taking the full burden. The aspects of sacrifice are revered, but they are not for men. This has really caused the guilt-rot to emerge strongly in American Catholicism, with third world immigrants and even Islam—the religion—being embraced as suffering foci for the post-suffering American Catholic. Currently joint Islamic-Catholic services are being held in Baltimore, and old Catholics, like my mother and aunt are being guilted into sitting through Spanish mass next to Mexicans carrying baby dolls in coffins. In this fashion the elder women in my family act out the simpering sacrifice of identity before the altar of their all-erasing God.
I suspect that the above notion of guilt-based sacrificed, of living prosperously as the benefactors of an ancient God’s suffering, lingers even in the secular, ethical construct of American Atheism, wherein a nominally Christian person, secularized beyond redemption, is led to believe that his abstinence from actual sacrifice can be atoned for by sacrificing his unborn children via omission, and stepping aside in sterile old age as the suffering slave class from Latin America and beyond takes the places at the American Table of the Last Supper that might have been occupied by his children.
The turning point for me, is the year of my birth, 1963, and the Yul Brynner movie Kings of the Sun, with Shirley Anne Field and George Chakiris. Brynner plays a proto-Comanche Indian chief who at first opposes, then allies with a fleeing Mayan King and his exiled people. The King, played by Chakiris, at one point overrules the high priest in the matter of sacrifice, noting that this new land was so fertile that no sacrifice need be made. [This is a heavily propagandistic story line aimed at indigenous white America.] In the end, the sacrifice is made on the temple stairs, when the native Chief, played by Brynner, dies defending the refugees from their pursuing enemies on the very stairs of the un-bloodied sacrificial pyramid. In the year of my birth a movie maker was already preaching what the new Christian sacrifice would be in America, the extinguishing of identity and patrimony, in favor of refugees from across the sea.
To get back to your objection to “singing songs and swaying in the church pew” as a form of religious expression that has replaced sacrifice, I might add that available evidence hints at conversion to Christianity of black slaves by their white masters as facilitated more easily by indulging the African penchant [which does, indeed, seem to be genetic] for song and dance. Again, the sacrificial aspect of toil is present, as it was through the entire Middle Ages, when the suffering serf carried the fighting and praying classes on his back in return for the promise that his way to eternal paradise had been assured by the sacrifice of Christ.
In summation, it is my opinion that in the Western World, with all of its indigenous traditions submerged by Christianity and with Christianity itself fighting off cycle after cycle of corruption introduced by the rampant materialism of modernity, that the notion of sacrifice remains three-tiered as it always has: work from the poor, money from the merchant, blood from the powerful and their pawns and offered with words from the ruling class.
The latter has three postmodern manifestations:
1. The powerful, and those of a liberal mind who align themselves with the elite, by and large, sacrifice their bloodline to their post-Christian ideology, by forgoing reproduction and adopting suffering groups and individuals as their children, in this way retaining much of the psychology of sacrifice.
2. The massive, secular edifice of modernity—in its America form—has retained a Christian patina, with mottos such as, “In God We Trust,” and “One Nation Under God,” not yet stricken from the American creed, encouraging predominantly Christian combatants to sacrifice their lives in the “The War on Terror.”
3. Every day, in every mid-sized to large city in America, the thugs of the Black Urban Mob that have risen since 2014, are shedding the blood of those who must bleed and die for the crime of being born white. Among the victims one will see a strong tendency not to blame their attackers, a common aspect of sacrificial victim behavior.
Thank you, Lynn.
(c) 2017 James LaFond and Lynn Lockhart