Zero HP Lovecraft
Marooned in the Deepest Darkness of the Ultimate Nightmare Abyss
Marooned in the Deepest Darkness of the Ultimate Nightmare Abyss with Zero HP Lovecraft
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Marooned in the Deepest Darkness of the Ultimate Nightmare Abyss with Zero HP Lovecraft

Toward a Functionalist Understanding of Religion, Pt. 3: Christo-Nietzschean Synthesis
67

This is episode 6 - Towards a Functionalist Understanding of Religion pt. 3

Part 1 - Thesis

Which Christianity?

Before we get started, I need to explain the format of this talk, in which I will outline a sketch of what a Christo-Nietzschean synthesis might look like. 

Christian theology is a vast body of thought and action spanning two thousand years and over a  billion people, though we could argue about the quality of many of those people in the current year. 

Nietszche was only one man, but his oeuvre is dense and multilayered and multifaceted, and I think you could spend your whole life studying it and still find something new.

So the most I can do is give you an outline of how and why these two things ought to come together, in the hope that it inspires others to explore the territory which I can at this time only sketch.

I am going to start by explaining a very concrete mechanism in our modern world which serves to sever people from Christianity, and it may not seem immediately clear what this has to do with the promise I am making

In the following segments I am going to talk about some relatively abstract philosophical considerations which might seem a bit disconnected from the first segment, but they inform our pursuit of the goal of synthesis 

In the final segment I will explain how these things come together and how we can come to view Nietzsche as a theologian, as the most important theological actor since Martin Luther at least,

(And I can already hear the Catholics rankling at that and they are just going to have to get over it. People who view ideologies as a series of sports teams to cheer at or jeer at are not seeking truth. Go treat Christianity like football somewhere else)    

So I am going to ask for your patience.

When we talk about integrating a particular idea into Christianity, we have to start with this question: which Christianity? There are so many Christianities, and often the only thing they have in common is the name of Christ, 

If we operate inside of a functionalist frame, then we recognize that the name a group gives to itself doesn’t matter nearly as much as the pattern of their thought processes, their mode of coexistence, the form of their integration with being and the dynamics of their actions.

That is, two groups could call themselves Christian and even affirm the same creed, but be different entirely in their outlook toward life, in the way they socially litigate their day to day actions, in their theory of what is moral and so on.

One of the reasons Christianity is able to spread so widely is that it’s able to accommodate wildly different peoples with incommensurate ways of living and thinking under the same banner, precisely by eliding all of these functional differences and defining itself under this narrow criteria.

Christians want to believe—and in fact they have to believe—that if you sincerely pray to Jesus then you slowly come into convergence with the divine will, and all ostensibly superficial differences are gradually eroded as Christ transforms each believer.

This is the most magical thing that Christians believe, much more magical than the doctrine of the incarnation, the resurrection, the second coming, or the forgiveness of sins.

I think there is simply no reason, if we look at the history of Christianity and theology, to suspect that this happens, because if we look at the history of Christian thought, it doesn’t seem to have converged on anything, or to be converging on anything, 

quite the opposite, it looks like any other phylogenetic tree, beginning with a singularity and gradually branching and branching and diverging and diverging into ever more fractal variations.

Roman Catholics very much want to pin all the rot in their religion on the Protestant reformation, because they rightly intuit that each schism apportions a bit more of their claim to be the real true legitimate heirs to the Word of Christ, this is their own prelapsarian delusion.

So regarding the question of “which Christianity?” I am going to try to speak today of a mostly abstract, denomination-less, “mere” Christianity, after CS Lewis. 

There is no one true Christianity, even if Christianity is the revealed religion of the one true God of all the universe, because from a strictly information-theoretic perspective, there is no possibility that the limitless, the eternal, the omniscient and omnipotent can possibly be compressed into a mind which is limited, temporal, and possessing finite powers and perspectives. 

Why Christianity?

So I think a lot of Christians will also probably bristle at the above, because they tend to think that their own personal understanding of Christianity, although it is a work in progress, is something very close to the absolute truth.

It’s the best and most accurate Christianity they can make it given their limitations and they have constructed it by attempting, through prayer, study, and worship, to align their underlying with an idealized, perfect, hypothetical practice and understanding of Christianity 

And when I say there is no one true Christianity, that’s sort of tantamount to saying, the hypothetical ideal you are striving towards doesn’t exist. 

And if I were sneakier I would use a rhetorical technique called an enthymeme to try to lead you into having this realization on your own, which would make you think it was your idea, which would make you believe it

But instead I am using a rhetorical technique where I try to put all the cards on the table and roll up my sleeves so that when I show you your card, you’ll know that what I actually did was I palmed it to the bottom of the deck with a fancy shuffling technique.

In other words, I’m not hiding anything, I’m just using my dexterity to re-arrange symbols in an intriguing way

Anyway I am not saying the idealized Christianity doesn’t exist, only that the idealized version of it is also a picture in your head, and the real ideal, oxymoron as that is, is almost but not quite entirely unknowable, which means everything that isn’t nailed down, ie, everything that isn’t Christ himself, is potentially movable

And the next question, now that we have sorted that out, is why attempt this at all? Why Christianity, why not paganism or Islam or something like that?

And the answer is complicated, but it’s sort of like asking a man why he wants to defend his country, which in my case is the US of A, even though he despises his government.

Christianity is an inextricable part of our western heritage, of who we are, and it is what has made us everything we are today, good and bad. You see, I practice Amor Fati, the love of one’s fate

To try to uproot Christianity and rip away that heritage would be like trying to turn a man into a woman by means of cosmetic surgery and hormone pills: impossible, grotesque, a betrayal of yourself, a kind of slow, walking suicide

Whatever might remain after such a procedure would be mutilated beyond recovery 

Christianity in Decline

So what I am going to do now is explain a situation which I call the Christianity Shredder, which I think Christians are aware of, but which is difficult to own up to, and then I am going to claim that Nietzschean thought can provide a solution to this problem. 

As you may recall from part 2 of this series, I assert that a living religion is one in which theological controversies are actively discussed, where people fight about doctrine. Thus we can tell that the Christian church, as it exists today, is effectively exhausted, because there are no consequential theological debates within it.

Does it make you mad when I say this? Do you feel insulted? The modern church is long overdue for a come to Jesus moment. I think Christians get very defensive about this. They feel attacked maybe, because on some level they know it’s true but it’s a very painful thing to admit

The number of Americans who call themselves Christian has declined dramatically. This cannot be denied. From 90% in 1972 down to 63% in 2022, with a commensurate rise in people who list their religion as none, according to Pew research center.

But we should be careful of the use of statistics as an epistemic authority. This epistemic mode is one of the sources of the American Civic Religion’s authority.

We wish to reject and supplant that authority, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater of course

That means we should trust inductive reasoning via statistical methods LESS than we trust deductive reasoning via syllogism and logical necessity. Both modes are valid but in our regime, deduction must be primary.

That’s a topic for another time. For the moment we will note that every statistical claim contains a world of prior assumptions underneath it, most of which are never interrogated.

This realization, that the underlying assumptions of science are not particularly stable, is one of the pillars of the postmodern realization, more on that much later.

You have heard many times by now that the sovereign is he who determines the null hypothesis, but that’s only the beginning of the problem

For example in the Pew research about self-identified religious affiliation, we see that over 20% of people who used to say they were Christian now say none, and since we don’t see them putting on a habit and joining a convent, we have to guess that they don’t mean they’ve gone Catholic

Of course we all know that “none” is a proxy for the American civic religion, maybe even for its woke militant sect

But the people answering the survey don’t have a functionalist theory of religion, they think “none” is a real possibility.

As Steve Sailer has said, the data purportedly says something, we should be able to find lots of anecdotes that comport with it

So rather than appeal to statistics, we need to appeal to a story we will tell, while being aware that the statistics exist

I think if you tell Christians that Christianity is exhausted, or in decline, they will say it is not, and the evidence to the contrary is that in their own hearts, they feel no such thing, or to the degree that they do feel it, they instantly and furiously fight back against that sense of exhaustion, all the more energetically to distract themselves from even acknowledging that suspicion

But I think it’s very easy to find examples from our own personal lives of Christianity declining, and I think it’s much more declined than the data might suggest 

To me it feels obvious that much of that remaining pew 63% is only Christian in a very superficial way, as a kind of default state rather than having any kind of conviction 

I certainly don’t feel as if more than half the people I meet are Christian, living in a city especially, but I get the sense that basically everyone I meet is progressive.

And obviously there is a sampling bias here owing to the fact that I live in an urban place, but it’s not so great as you might think.

The distribution of the decline of Christianity is not uniform, that’s another way the statistics are a lie, worthless without a story

The places where culture is made, places where money is manipulated and routed and directed, those places are not even nominally Christian, usually

And no they are not Jewish either, though there are many Jews there, I have noticed lately that there is a particular kind of stupidity that reduces everyone in the world to either Jewish or Christian, I hate that I even have to mention these people, when the reality is that most ashkenazi Jews in America, the only Jews that have any kind of cultural or financial power, are barely religious at all, if we are talking about rabbinical Judaism, they don’t keep kosher laws or go to synagogue or anything. 

What they are is fervent and high-IQ adherents of the American Civic Religion

We would like to understand the causes of this decline of Christianity in America, and I think it’s actually astonishing, when you listen to mainstream explanations for this, how comically, stupidly wrong they are

Both the explanations from the Christians and the ones from the American Civic Religionists, the progressives. 

This is a good time to remind you that this is part three of this series and that nothing I am saying here will make much sense if you don’t listen to parts one and two.

Ok.

When you go looking for causes of the decline of Christianity, you will find a lot of deeply pious and mostly magical thought coming from the progressive left.

They will say the problem is that Christianity isn’t inclusive enough, that young people nowadays demand more respect for women, more negrolatry, more embrace of queerness and homosexuality. 

In other words their explanations are tautological, the reason Christianity is declining is because it is insufficiently aligned with the progressive understanding of virtue, it’s declining because progressive morality is just so obviously good and true and just and self-evident

But in Christian moral cosmology, inclusivity and diversity are not virtues, they aren’t even entities at all, they are, if you will pardon the expression, “not a thing” 

So the inside view, relative to the progressive cosmology, is that progressivism is winning because it is a vehicle for progressivism. This simply cannot be right, because it is radically deficient in empathy for the Christian, it has no understanding whatsoever of “what it feels like” to be a Christian

And that’s also why I say I think much less of America is Christian than the polls suggest, because someone who does know what it feels like to be a Christian will view the progressive moral universe with horror and repulsion, and yet we see a huge number of nominal Christians who occupy that moral universe quite comfortably, who aren’t repulsed at all

Meanwhile on the other hand, Christians seem equally befuddled, when they aren’t in outright denial. It’s really hard I think for a millennial or a gen-X-er to really imagine what a 90% Christian nation would be like

Many Christians have the sense that they are being subverted, that the root of the problem is godless college professors and campus indoctrination. This is wrong but it’s appealing to many people because college is around the time that parents are likely to see their kids leave the church.

Christians who are a little more perceptive and a little bit bolder also notice that all the movies and television their children consume takes place in an essentially godless, secular universe and they maybe even realize that all that pop culture is essentially priming their children to abandon their faith.

And maybe then they decide the problem is the Jews in Hollywood or Silicon Valley or whatever.

This is much closer but it’s still wrong, because even if every Jew on earth were magically raptured into some alternate jewniverse, Christianity wouldn’t undergo some tremendous resurgence. 

I’m not saying nothing would improve, certainly, gay and trans activists would lose some of their most affluent sponsors, though it’s foolish to imagine anything is ever that simple.

Anyway, as we discussed in part 2 of this talk, all the progressive shibboleths were entirely present in Christian America all on their own, and even today it’s a lot of people of Puritan or quaker stock who tend to be its most fervent advocates.

These people have developed an understanding of holiness which is cladistically derived from Christianity but which is ultimately holier than Christianity, holier than the God of the Bible, according to its own internal logic. 

That’s one of the main ways the American civic religion undermines Christianity, by trying to extrapolate moral theories out of Christian teachings and then positioning itself as more Christian than Christ

I walked through a town yesterday and I saw Jehovah’s witnesses handing out pamphlets asking if God can heal people of their racial prejudice. I see churches, Catholic and Protestant alike offering Thursday night diversity Bible study, trans flags draped over the cathedral steps

Christians are doing this to themselves, the phone call is coming from inside the church

And to claim otherwise is To tacitly assert that Christians and gentiles are such stupid, passive, malleable sheep that they can’t even muster the agency to figure out which hole to fuck to make more of their species

I’m sorry this is crass but it is the truth.

This is the part where someone tries to no true Scotsman me, to tell me about some totally based and redpilled congregation they know of, the pastor said women should submit to their husbands, he’s a total Chad, have you heard of traditional Latin mass?

And yes I have, that’s what we call a dead cat bounce.

Even under conditions of total market collapse you will see stonks make a temporary rally after a massive crash

Part 2 — The Christianity Shredder and the Contemporary Church

The Christianity Shredder

Anyway I’ll tell you exactly how and why and when most people leave the church, whatever church they decide to leave

I’m slightly conflating Christianity with church attendance here. They’re not the same thing but they are comorbid enough for our purposes.

In fact church attendance has declined more sharply than self-identification as Christian, though it only began its decline in the year 2000, it has fallen in the past twenty years from 70% down to 47%. This is according to Gallup.

Intuitively to me, that feels like a more accurate picture of the decline of Christianity than mere self-identification

This is how the Christianity Shredder works: you figure a kid is raised in the church. Parents are maybe devout, maybe not so much. If the parents aren’t devout then the kid already has one foot outside

The kid hits the age where sex is interesting. Boy or girl, I think the rationalization is similar. In high school maybe the kid has sex, has a sexual relationship. Unmarried, of course. This goes against the teachings of Christianity very strongly, but the Christianizing influence of the parents, the church, the social pressure, it makes it pretty likely anyway that the kid feels guilty about this. The guilt is the lynch pin here, the sense of guilt over having sinned, that’s what holds the thing together. 

And the most powerful and the most immanent guilt over sin that most people feel is sexual guilt. It’s a thing they harp on over and over when you grow up in a church, no sex before marriage, no sex outside of marriage. 

Often they go much further and teach you to feel guilt even over your most mundane sexual impulses. I am neither condemning nor praising this, it is simply a fact, a critical phase of the thermal cycle in the engine of Christianity. 

It’s much easier for older Christian men to castigate sexual impulses. They are married and can exercise their sexual inclinations in a non-sinful context, and often they’ve long since lost interest in sex with their aging wives anyway, long since lost their virility, assuming they ever even had any

So the kid goes off to college and proceeds to have more sexual relationships, or maybe their first sexual relationship, and the moment he, or she, commits a sin, usually a sexual sin, without any attendant guilt, the entire Christian edifice falls apart.

For this newly emancipated young Christian, there’s no immediate bad consequences at all for having sex outside of marriage. In fact it feels good, enlightening, liberating, especially with birth control and antibiotics readily available. There’s no negative feedback at all.

Quite the opposite. Young men who have sex for the first time, whether in high school or college, feel as if they’ve finally arrived. But here they’ve gone against something which they’ve been made to feel is at the very heart of their religion.

Catholics I think are a little more resilient to this than protestants, they can confess it away, they can fall into some middle ground of “cultural catholicism” — but there’s no such thing as cultural protestantism, not in the same way

And but there’s a lot more to Christianity than sexual continence, but to young American Christians at least, there barely is at all.

These are children who are lectured by youth pastors when they are teenagers, young american Christians are socially pressured to take chastity pledges, they go to Christian youth events that are almost entirely centered around this approach to sex and marriage

It takes a very prominent place in the religious consciousness of these teenagers, and it’s something which is almost entirely untenable

Christian young people are made to feel that being a Christian is totally synonymous with not having sex before marriage, and simultaneously they are made to feel that marriage is something you do in your 30s probably, or your late 20s at the very earliest

Marriage is when your life is over, when freedom is over, when individuality is over: this is the meaning of marriage in pop culture, in secular culture, it’s the message of every TV show basically, that marriage signifies becoming an adult in some grotesque and morbid way

It’s the least sexy, the least sexual thing, marriage, at least the way it’s culturally coded. And so the Christian youth get these two very mixed messages, one from Christianity, and one from “the world” if you like, and it’s a message their own parents are often complicit in, that they should delay marriage, that marriage is something at the very least you have to wait until after college for, and also that you shouldn’t have sex before marriage

When the libs point and gawk at for example evangelical chastity pledge drives and call it creepy, they’re not entirely wrong, it’s just that protestant American Christians really really really want their kids to perform this almost impossible, heroic act of self-sacrifice, 

they focus on the sex when they should be focusing on the guilt you feel after, and the interventions they come up with to try to force them to not have sex at the peak of their virility and fertility reflect the fundamental contradiction in that desire

The contradiction is repellent and so is its social manifestation.

The weight of this internal conflict is just too much, because in college you are for the first time away from the moderating and chastening influence of your parents, and going to church on Sunday morning is totally incompatible with drinking with coeds on Saturday night.

And again I think older people, older Christians especially, at this point they are a self-selecting bunch, they have forgotten how urgently and desperately young people feel the need to have sex, assuming they ever felt it themselves at all, assuming they weren’t sick and half dead in the first place.

It would be hard to design a better Christianity shredder if you tried. Once you violate this tenet of Christianity, this conflicting double bind around sex and marriage and college and so on, then there’s a tremendous wedge in your faith, you sinned in this profound way and it didn’t really matter, so maybe none of your other sins matter either, and the secular world which is all around you seems to keep on spinning just fine without any Christianity at all.

Christianity begins to feel parochial and quaint and outdated, progress, that’s the thing, isn’t it. Sexual progress. Emancipation.

And on and on ad nauseam.

Now before I go any further, please notice what I am not saying, because Christians have maybe heard things along these lines before, and it’s usually an entreaty by progressives to be more sexually progressive. 

That’s not what I’m saying at all, I’m not saying you need to be more liberal in order to appeal to the youfs. If the choice is between college-as-christianity-shredder-by-means-of-sexual-emancipation or forcing sixteen year olds to get married, to each other, not to men twice their age, you fucking people, though if you really believe in sin and salvation that’s still better than the Christianity shredder, but the choice is obviously to marry them off young

Now this is the part where a bunch of annoyed Christians maybe react and say hey, this doesn’t match my experience at all. Pause for a moment and think about this. If you are still a Christian, then no shit it doesn’t match your experience. You are the exact person whose experience it doesn’t match.

But whose experience does it match? It matches the people who stopped being Christian in the surveys by Pew and Gallup. 

But I also need to point out that sexual emancipation on its own, what I call the Christianity shredder, doesn’t work in a vacuum. It isn’t enough to erode faith on its own. To do that, we need all the other functional pieces of the American Civic Religion, which we discussed in parts 1 and 2. 

Because people have theological needs, they have spiritual needs, and the sexual emancipation wedge is just that, a wedge, which opens a space for all the other functional parts to creep in.

And sex isn’t the pathway for everyone. For some it can be diet, for some it can be climate apocalypticism, but sex is the biggest fault line and it’s the most urgent question in the average person’s mental life

The current marriage system is broken. The first alternative that leaps to mind is also clearly not very good, but it’s bad in different ways that are only theoretical to us at this time.

Calling it a marriage system is itself to paint too rosy of a picture. There is no system. All systems have collapsed.

Christians tended to get married in their mid-twenties, historically, going back centuries. It’s tempting, but wrong to imagine that as the age of marriage has crept later, this problem suddenly appeared. But the trend of marriage getting later has exacerbated the problem.

And moreover, two centuries ago, white women used to go through puberty at sixteen and a half, rather than thirteen or twelve or whatever it is now. Imagine that! It’s a case where a biological change, one that’s almost imperceptible to us from our current vantage point, produces an extremely different world.

If a woman got married at 22, say, after menarche at 16, that’s only six years of chastity she has to endure, rather than menarche at 12 and marriage at 27, in which case you are asking her to endure fifteen years of virginity, and waste the years of her peak of fertility and beauty.

I’m not saying that most Christians actually advocate this, but they are embedded in a culture which does have late marriage norms, they participate in that culture, and whatever they personally advocate, they are impotent to change the norm

It’s an insane and impossible thing to ask, and it’s not any wonder that if the choice is between christianity and sex, basically everyone chooses sex, and the people who stay christian are the ones who can rationalize it away, or who barely feel sexual impulses, like pandas who don’t deserve to continue existing, or who see no contradiction in liberal, progressive, feminist flavors of Christianity, of which there are many

And this doesn’t cover all the cases of people who are Christian today, people who don’t go to college and don’t pass through the Christianity shredder also usually make it through.

But those are basically the options: either middle and upper class college graduates who are nominal Christians but functional adherents of the American civic religion, or actual Christians mostly drawn from the lower social classes, 

Or else, and the final group is going to be the ones who are actually listening to me on this podcast, men who are high openness, low agreeability, who are exceptional in whatever ways allowed them to pass through the Christianity shredder relatively unscathed.

I point out that those men are high on openness and low on agreeability because that’s the only combination of traits that lets you sincerely adopt an ideological stance that contradicts the herd.

The Contemporary Church

A close-minded person is never going to consider real Christianity when culture is stacked against it, and an agreeable person is never going to adopt it, regardless of what he considers

Contrary to the persecution fantasies of the average Christian, most secular people aren’t out to get them, and in fact they barely care about them at all, except in so far as they perceive them as an obstruction to their own sexual gratification

Christianity doesn’t wither under conditions of persecution; it flourishes. This has always been the case, as we all think of the early church and lurid stories of martyrs and lions 

From a PR perspective this is the best thing that could happen to Christianity, if the libs started feeding them to lions again

The Christians would love it, the libs would love it, win win win as we say in b-school

You can kind of imagine the New York Times articles that would be published about the unbearable whiteness of all the new martyrs, how getting eaten by lions on behalf of Christ is white-coded and racially problematic and we need to center black martyrs 

Imagine the envy of victimhood that the Jews and the blacks would feel seeing white Christians eaten by lions on pay per view

Does it give you, as a white Christian, a frisson of forbidden pleasure to imagine how delicious and voluptuous it would be to be the center of attention, to finally get to be the victim instead of the oppressor, to really and authentically die for your faith? 

Of course it does, don’t lie to yourself

This is the perversity of Christianity in its dotage, in its senility.

This is a crucial Nietzschean principle, by the way, that you should attack that which you wish to strengthen. Keep it in mind as we proceed

In contrast you probably know this Girardian idea, that the critical social innovation of Christianity is the realization that the scapegoat is innocent, that societies go around and around in this carousel where they identify a problem, identify a scapegoat to blame for the problem, they sacrifice the scapegoat, and then social order and harmony are temporarily restored

I’ve witnessed this cycle myself inside organizations and loose associations of people. The problem-scapegoat-sacrifice cycle. Very real. 

Girard says that Christianity inverts the logic of this cycle by revealing the innocence of the scapegoat. He says this obviates the need for violence. 

Girard’s philosophy is a philosophy of weakness and sickness, because he claims that the real meaning of Christianity is that scapegoats are always innocent, and the more of a victim you are, the more of a scapegoat you are, the more innocent, the more holy, the more pure. 

This apotheosis of the scapegoat leads to the oppression olympics that we are all so familiar with among the adherents of the American Civic Religion, where everyone is competing to be the biggest victim.

The victimology which most American Christians claim to hate is baked into Christianity from the start

So Christianity flourishes under conditions of persecution. It withers under conditions of neglect, same as anything else in our society of the spectacle, where anything not constantly talked about, not constantly attacked, is erased

So rather than attack Christianity, the emergent strategy of progressives has been to infiltrate it and hollow it out. I say that’s an “emergent” strategy and what that means is that it isn’t anyone’s conscious, deliberate plan.

Quite the opposite; what happens in practice, as I briefly mentioned in part 2, is that people who make it through the Christianity shredder sometimes retain a form of nominal Christianity. 

That is, they pass through whatever series of sexual emancipations and personal revelations the American civic religion encourages and yet they retain a belief in their own Christianity, they retain often the name of Christ.

And actually as an aside here, as a little preview of what is coming much later, I used to hear this refrain: that america doesn’t have a coming of age ritual, unlike say primitive tribes in South America who make young men dip their hands in honey and shove them into a mound of fire ants, or those delightful Polynesian aboriginals who make 13 year olds blow them in the secret man tent

In the savage mind these types of rituals demarcate a bright, hot, slightly alkaline boundary between childhood and adulthood. After you complete the ritual, you aren’t a boy any more, you’re a man. 

Well I am here to tell you that there are mystical rites of initiation into adulthood in the American Civic Religion, but they are partially obscured, as all mystery rites should be

It’s a pretty open secret though, there are a million American movies about youngsters coming of age, but most people mistake the exoteric for the esoteric. It’s not the act of sex which initiates the child into the adult world, it’s the moral and mythical way they relate to the sex act once they have performed it, it’s the inner psychological act of authoring yourself as a sexually emancipated being.

The young person, having had sex which transgresses against Christian morality, is then supposed to invent him or herself as a moral being under the auspices of the sexual revolution, they are supposed to define themselves—this is imagined as an autonomous and independent act—as sexually liberated and to work for the sexual emancipation of all people, especially women and homosexuals

That may sound complicated but basically everyone gets the message, it’s why when you argue against feminism people call you a virgin and tell you to grow up, because if you didn’t complete the ritual in the prescribed way, if you didn’t invent yourself as a sexually emancipated being, then you never passed into adulthood, from the theological perspective of the American Civic Religion

But the point of this little detour is to explain that when you complete the ritual and become sexually emancipated, it’s extremely possible to still ID as a Christian, to still retain the name of Christ

And this is a pretty big problem for Christians, because there’s nothing in the Nicene creed about not dismantling the patriarchy. 

numerically, Christianity Classic is absolutely losing the territorial struggle to woke nominal Christianity

These woke Christians, their moral understanding, their ability to comprehend the Good has been, in most cases, irrevocably altered: they believe in social Justice, in human rights for all, according to the particular philosophy of human rights that they receive from the contemporary left

The most important questions in the theology of the left are questions around exactly who is more of a victim than who else and how many victim identities can dance on the head of a penis, and naturally when they try to do Christianity they bring these theological controversies with them.

My friends told me that Christian patriarchy is undergoing some kind of renaissance, but when I searched amaZOG for books on Christianity and Patriarchy, the titles alone tell the whole story. 

How God Sees Women: The End of Patriarchy; 

Malestrom [M-A-L-E]: How Jesus Dismantles Patriachy and Redefines Manhood; 

The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth; 

Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind;

Hashtag ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing

I learned as I was writing this that Sohrab Ahmari, one of the poster-boys for integralism, is a staunch defender of Andrea Dworkin. Why would anyone allow such a subhuman scoundrel into their church?

I also read a book by Leon Podles called The Church Impotent. I have seen some of my friends praise this book about the feminization of the church. I think he very much fails to deliver on his core claims, which I will summarize

Podles says the church has become more feminine in its thinking over time, and to substantiate this he uncovers a series of anecdotes of gynocentric teaching or thinking in the church

He makes an awful lot of the biblical claim that Christ is the bridegroom of the church, that the church is the bride of Christ. He says this idea and the emphasis on it alienates men. I’ll buy that, sure.

He also quotes some primary sources who talk about American evangelical revivals as an almost entirely woman-driven phenomenon, that for men in these times it was a kind of socially transmitted hysteria that undermined each man’s individual patriarchal authority in his family, to have all his women enthralled to these charismatic revivalist preachers.

What Podles fails to deliver, what he assumes, what he takes for granted is the claim that the church was ever a particularly masculine endeavor In the first place. If anything his historical exegesis, meager as it is, ends up making the opposite claim, that the church has always contained these kinds of feminizing social pressures and pathic theatre kids.

Podles falls into the the same trap which I spoke about in earlier parts of this series, the trap of prelapsarian thinking.

which we see in these queer communist types who think everyone was gay and polyamorous and lived in perfect harmony before white people invented capitalism,

the same mental trap also that we see among all these cuckservatives who think we just need to get back to “muh constitution” — 

they think there was some original utopian state of mankind that we must restore, rather than realizing that history is an endless cycle of mutually stimulating errors and triumphs.

Now all of this has been very, as we say, object-level. And you probably wonder why I would choose this as an introduction to a talk about Nietzsche 

—and by the way, we will also examine a prelapsarian thread which we can locate in Nietzsche’s thought, though we would prefer not to—

The conflict over what to do about sex and sexuality is a vulgar thing, and Nietzsche would scarcely lower himself  to speak of it at length, but it’s the tangible, visible piece of the conflict between Christianity and the modern world

Most people don’t really care about philosophy even as their lives are shaped by it, behind the scenes, in a way that is largely invisible to them. Everyone cares about sex

The other day a Christian who I respect told me that he saw the essential conflict between vitalism and Christianity as being over whether one should have premarital sex, but in my opinion this has basically nothing to do with the vitalist project, if vitalism is even a project at all

I will say it again, more beautifully, so that you may remember and understand: between chastity and sensuality, there is no necessary opposition.

In fact chastity only serves to heighten sensuality, a truth which has been given only to the most chaste among men, and also to the most degenerate. It is in the vast, beige middle where truth is always so far away.

The only reason the Christianity shredder is able to shred Christianity is because the underlying philosophical conditions of modern life have changed dramatically relative to when Christian sexual morality was formulated.

And when I say formulated, I don’t mean by Jesus, I mean by the church, as an iterative process which unfolded across centuries and is even now still unfolding.

The Christianity shredder shreds because the Christianity of the contemporary church is flimsy and amenable to being shredded, and this has nothing to do with sex, hardly at all.

And the underlying reasons for that flimsiness are philosophical, and are largely identified by Nietzsche, but before you can hear this you need to understand the problem.

Part 3 - The Apostle Fred

Contextualizing the G of M

Most attempts to present Nietzsche to a Christian audience begin with the famous declaration in Zarathustra regarding the deadness of God. 

This statement is provocative and causes many Christians to write off Nietzsche without going any deeper. Such an attitude is, of course, one of the reasons the Christianity Shredder has grown to monstrous proportions, but you can find just about anyone to tell you what that statement really means, so I’m not going to waste much time on it. 

Instead we’re going to look at what Nietzsche says about Christianity, and we’re going to start with some sentences from Stephen Mulhall, one of the few Christians I know of who has tried to engage with Nietzsche in good faith, and with gravity and caution.

Mulhall begins with a quote from Stanley Cavell, who says,

Christianity appears in Nietzsche not so much as the reverse of the truth but as the truth in foul disguise. In particular, the problem seems to be that human action is everywhere disguised as human suffering: this is what acceptance of the Will to Power is to overcome.

This is intended to prime a Christian audience to be open and receptive to a Nietzschean account of morality.

Now, I don’t think there is anything foul about Nietzsche’s presentation of his truth, but it strikes many Christians as foul, not, in my opinion, because it goes against Christ or even, despite what Nietzsche says, against the apostle Paul, 

but it does go against the internal psychological dynamics of the average Christian, which is why it strikes them so viscerally, because it contradicts the pattern of their thought processes and the ways they rationalize their actions.

This is a critical distinction to make, that the life of Christ and the writings of the apostles are at MOST, at their very best, a schematic for the living practice of Christianity, and they are not the practice of Christianity itself, which is why it’s possible to criticize the church every which way ‘til Sunday, even in good faith, without attacking Christ.

And so what Nietzsche does is attack, and in my opinion, his attack is wildly successful, he attacks a central component of the actual practice of Christianity, even as he maintains a respect for Christ, albeit the substance of his respect would offend most Christians.

And when I first encountered this idea in Nietzsche’s thought, I will confess, I found it depressing, I thought it made the world seem very grim. And it took me a few days to get over it, three days and three nights perhaps, as many days as Christ was in the tomb, that’s how long it takes to find redemption.

And I think when many Christians come into contact with these ideas I am about to expound, it does feel like something is being taken away from them, something which is maybe a part of their identity, and the common response is depression or anger, but neither of these things is particularly warranted.

Though I want you to know that if you are trying to make an honest account of these ideas, there is a bit of pain, and I see you and you are valid or whatever black people say

The Nietzschean understanding of morality need not be nihilistic or depressing at all, in fact it is bracing, it’s like a sudden immersion in cold water, shocking at first, then refreshing.

And I think also that many people who have encountered my own writings detect the trace of this very powerful Nietzschean idea, and they react at a surface level as I did, initially, they find it depressing because they don’t see why they should endure the darkness, why there might be a profound light on the other side.

Altruism and self-sacrifice are central to the self-understanding of Christian morality. Christians believe they should put themselves last in order to increase the well-being of others, particularly the weak and vulnerable

They see this type of selflessness as the immutable essence of moral being, as morality itself, and it’s impossible, unthinkable that it could be otherwise

But Nietzsche’s philosophy erodes this assumption, and causes it to collapse. The Genealogy of Morals is perhaps his most important work, wherein he demonstrates that, far from being immutable, 

the Christian conception of morality has a history, and it exists inside the world, that it’s not a privileged eternal platonic form like a mathematical identity, it’s a body of human thoughts and it’s subject therefore to change, to contingency, to development and alteration 

And we’ll dive a little deeper into that in a moment. But it’s important to note here that merely acknowledging the contingency of moral sentiments in no way invalidates them. It does not, on its own, make a case for any kind of moral system over any other.

Christians can always claim that the contingencies and history of their moral understanding have been guided by God, just as any intellectually serious Christian is likely to claim that evolution, whatever imperfections the theory might have, really did happen and has been guided by God.

Because to claim otherwise is to deny the plain materials facts. In order to be intellectually honest, Christians need to concern themselves with the why, not the what, because the why is the domain of God, the what is confined to the merely material

Nietzsche identifies several ways to deconstruct the Christian understanding of altruism. He takes a functional understanding of morality, similar to how we have tried to take a functionalist approach to religion, and he observes that the nominal function of a moral sentiment may diverge from the end it actually achieves

The first thing Nietzsche observes is that an ethic of self-sacrifice is always and implicitly a weapon that can be used to cut down the accomplishments of others:

If any man does something great, something powerful, we can always condemn his act for being insufficiently selfless. We can say, in this morality, that if a man benefits from his own actions, if he acts out of naked self interest, then his actions are evil 

Even a Christian who totally and uncynically believes in the ethic of altruism will be guilty of this, in fact he will be most guilty of all, because he will be the least aware of himself when he does it

Younger men especially, they haven’t figured out the games a man plays to conceal himself from himself

“how could you waste money on going to space when there are so many hungry people on earth?”

This is the philosophy of a man who will forever remain earthbound, who will never touch the stars. It is a formula for mediocrity, and it becomes a species of sadism in disguise, a way to harm anyone, cut anyone down who exceeds you in any way 

And Christians might be able to live with that, might be able to perform the necessary psychic convolutions to excuse an act of greatness, they may and historically, they have often failed to live up to the ideal of pity and self-sacrifice, and thank God for that 

But even if that weren’t bad enough, the ethic of self-sacrifice also so often turns inward, and it becomes a kind of masochism. The exact logic of pity and earthboundedness, it also turns inward, and we use it to cut down ourselves, to stop any fire from growing in our hearts

But still the Christian ethic can endure this. “Nietzsche is a nasty man,” they’ll say, “a devil, and the greatness he speaks of is sin, is wickedness”

That’s what they can say, and from an inside view of Christianity, there is no problem.

But then comes the real twist of the knife, as Nietzsche observes, the triumph of the will is ultimately and only the triumph of one emotion over another, that is, a triumph of one part of the self over another.

And further: all the ways that the Christian, armed with his ethic of self-sacrifice, all the ways he wields this ethic against himself, he performs these acts of self sacrifice because he enjoys them!

He learns to take a twisted pleasure in self-deprivation, and whatever he denies himself, the pain of that denial is matched only, or maybe exactly, by the enjoyment of that pain!

I think an honest introspection must admit this, how good it feels to be a martyr. We imagine that a selfless act is performed for the sake of another, but no, in fact true selflessness is not possible, rather, we burn one part of ourselves in order to please that other part of us which delights in being burned

Christian morality’s apparent commitment to self-sacrifice is revealed as an expression of a fundamentally self-interested morality

And this isn’t to say that there is no valuable consequences in self-sacrifice. Obviously there can be, the point is to understand that there is always also a selfish goal in any act of self-abolishment.

The Ascetic Priest and the Desire-Suffering-Guilt-Pleasure Cycle

So that is an explosive thesis, it is one that I think Christians find deeply unacceptable, and they are forced either to construct some defense against it, often they will attack Nietzsche’s personal life, or refuse to understand his arguments, or sometimes just cloak themselves in anger

Anger prevents us from hearing an argument the way inflammation prevents us from walking on a broken leg.

But I don’t think any of these reactions are necessary, and I think furthermore that, if we trace Nietzsche’s thought a little longer and a little closer, we can even discern a way to save Christianity from altruism, from the pathology of altruism

In the third essay of The Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche describes the character of a particular type of man, a man he calls the ascetic priest, a man he calls an artist of guilt.

The ascetic man forswears sensuality, perhaps in the sexual sense, but not necessarily or only in that way.

One can approach anything with asceticism: food, art, music, his daily habits, his profession, his friendships, or even, and especially in our current interest, his morality

The ascetic seems to approach beauty with disinterest. He regards passions and strong emotions with suspicion or contempt

What would it mean to be ascetic in friendship, for example, it would mean to avoid those friends, that company, which is too stimulating. It would mean, in other words, blandness: the eschewing of competition, of shared conspiracy, of lively disagreements or loyalty to an ideal

Many friendships especially in our domesticated world are unintentionally ascetic, but most of all at the moment we are interested in the ascetic approach to morality itself.

We’ll come back to that, but first: what is the impetus that drives asceticism? Nietzsche says—and this is one of his great insights—-it’s to escape a torture

And Nietzsche is clear that asceticism may also be a component of the highest and noblest types of spirituality, but at the same time, the will to asceticism is in many ways a denial of life.

Regarding the individual drives of the ascetic—

his impulse to doubt, 

his impulse to deny, 

his impulse to wait, 

to analyze, to research, to compare, to weigh evenly, 

his desire for neutrality and objectivity, 

for the longest time all of these instincts were against the first demands of morality and conscience

These drives for the longest and mostly unwritten part of humanities’ history were regarded as dangerous, suspicious, immoral things

For this to make sense, we must realize how, in the ‘morality of custom,’ which comes before ‘world history,’ 

People everywhere recognized suffering as virtue, 

cruelty as virtue,

pretense as virtue, 

revenge as virtue,

the denial of reason as virtue and, by contrast, well-being as danger,

the desire for knowledge as danger, 

peace as danger, 

pity as danger, 

being pitied as disgrace, 

work as disgrace,

insanity as divinity, change as inherently immoral and pregnant with ruin!

These are Nietzsche’s words, I am quoting him very closely, because his words are powerful, and they are very fun to say

You should try it, you should stand up and speak these words with power and feel them come out of your heart 

I think it’s hard for us now, us moderns, to relate to this idea of morality, maybe even to believe it, to believe anyone could have thought about morality in this way

But this was Pagan virtue. Remember that for later. Pagan virtue. 

One finds it in ancient laws, in ancient codes and stories. To believe this you must study ancient history. Maybe you could read The Ancient City, Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, and try to realize how alien, how foreign, how different were the beliefs of ancient peoples.

So imagine this backdrop, this moral universe, this pagan virtue, and further imagine a man within it who esteems pity, and peace, and dispassionate regard for what he imagines is the truth

To us this might seem like the pinnacle of virtue, but Nietzsche makes it clear this has not always been so

The ascetic priest is compelled to say no to his vital, moral impulses, reject the world he inhabits, to imagine some other world, a cold, passionless, “objective” world, as if such a thing could be exist

And yet such a man still labors under one particular vital impulse, a very human impulse: he wants to make everyone else live as he lives

Nietzsche calls this a sickness, he says to those who are healthy, the greatest danger is those who are sick

This is how a will towards pity and weakness and safety overtakes a will toward strength and danger: like a virus overcoming a healthy host

To sort of sidestep into comparative religion for a moment, we all know this Buddhist idea, that to live, to be conscious, to desire, inherent in all of these phenomenological states is an inextricable element of suffering

And the Buddhist tries to eliminate suffering by nullifying all desire, because an unmet desire is identical to, is the essence of suffering

To be is to suffer, I think this is universally understood in every religion, in some sense, except maybe our modern American civic religion, which is so despicable in part because it fails to acknowledge this

And in the context of Christianity, the ascetic priest wields his asceticism to assuage his own suffering and that of his flock, he does this by means of guilt, guilt for sin, guilt which he carefully cultivates against all of the old, instinctive, vital, pagan moral impulses which Christianity has replaced 

Guilt for suffering, guilt for irrationality, guilt for cruelty, for caprice, guilt for the fiery, vengeful, aristocratic chaos of the free and powerful man

Nietzsche recognizes the chaos within, that a man’s will comes from some place inside himself that he can neither reach nor control, he can only control how he reacts to it. A thought comes, not when I want, but when it wants

But the ascetic priest artfully teaches us to feel guilt not only for our actions but for our wild hearts, to feel guilt for things for which we cannot be culpable, for desire itself 

And moreover the priest teaches us to enjoy our guilt, as anyone who has ever felt sorry for himself knows, we love a good wallow, don’t we?

We learn to take what Nietzsche calls a voluptuous pleasure, to find enjoyment in misery by means of guilt, because that guilt makes us feel righteous. That guilt makes us feel holy. Is the ugliness of this emotional flywheel apparent to you yet?

When Nietzsche says that, if a man properly trains his conscience, it kisses as it bites him, this is what he means. 

The truth is that man is accustomed to suffering, and in fact he quite desires it, provided he can believe it has a meaning.

What we recoil from is not suffering itself, but the senselessness of suffering—and the ascetic ideal offers us a meaning, which is that our suffering is a logically necessary byproduct of our failure to align ourselves to the will of God

That was a mouthful. What I mean by that is not that our suffering is a punishment from God, but that God’s intended way of being for us is righteous, and our deviations from God’s way of being must result in our suffering, just as dropping an object from a height must cause it to fall

This is the most theologically sophisticated way to approach the problem of evil, in my opinion, though it’s probably lost on people who can’t understand second-order effects

It’s probably better to tell those people that suffering is God’s punishment, despite how hard it is to square that circle

Anyway, it’s by means of this transmutation, of suffering into guilt, of guilt into righteousness, into a twisted pleasure, 

It’s by means of this that the western man has trained himself to seek ever more elaborate and exotic forms of suffering in the name of morality

I think it’s not controversial to say that whether or not he retains the name of Christianity today, the typical American, the typical modern—all moderns are American in some sense—

The typical American is functionally post-Christian: he retains the Christian moral understanding of altruism as the highest good, altruism predicated on pity for the weak, the broken, the huddled masses and so on

He retains the essence of what Nietzsche calls slave morality, which is Christian inversion of all pagan values.

What separates the Christian from the post-Christian is exactly one moral mutation. 

The engine of Christian sentiment, the internal reaction that powers his faith, is the way he adds suffering to guilt, and thereby finds relief from suffering, through the voluptuous pleasure of self-pity, expelling faith and identity as exhaust

The fully realized Christian fuels his engine with many kinds of suffering—but chief among them is sexual suffering, because he has learned to feel guilty for his every stray sexual thought, every time he admires a woman, or thinks about her flesh, there is suffering in this, for any man with red hot blood flowing in his veins 

Every unfulfilled or unfulfillable desire is a wound. And the Christian soothes this wound with guilt. if he has unmet sexual desires, he feels guilty for sexual impurity. If he has unmet desires for money or power, then he turns that into pity for the less fortunate, and he turns that into guilt for his blessings, or we don’t say blessings any more, we say “privilege”

the post-Christian no longer fuels his engine with the suffering of illicit sexual desire. He has unlearned sexual guilt, though it took him generations to do so, but still he has his engine, and now he runs it exclusively on envy, which he turns into pity, which he turns into guilt, which he turns into righteousness

(although without God, it’s not particularly grounded, but this turns out not to matter so much)

And Nietzsche asks: How can people make such a fuss about their small vices, the way these devout little men do?

And he asks if it’s Christ-like, to go around crowing about these things, and of course it isn’t, and the answer, why, why behave this way? Is that all these moral peccadillos, all these neurotic circumlocutions over every venial impulse, all of these fuel the engine, they give him that sense of relief, that relief which he finds in guilt

Sexual Guilt Two Point Oh

And now that we have this concept, this concept of the guilt engine, we can take another look at the Christianity shredder, that invisible machine which teaches men to stop feeling sexual guilt, which “mods” the engine to stop burning lust for fuel 

And it can only do this by renouncing Christ, by renouncing the gospels, by renouncing the holy scriptures

But all that energy has to come from somewhere, the only way to shake an addiction is to replace it with another addiction. Racial guilt, climate guilt, economic guilt, all of these things become relatively more salient to fill in the void

Most noxious, most vile, and most contemptible of all is a new kind of sexual guilt, which is only taught to men, guilt for so-called male privilege, for patriarchy, for being bigger and stronger and smarter than women, for the original sin of being male 

Sexual guilt two point oh, and this is really the only time you will find me to be a raging antisemite who could give the most 85est iq wignat hitler auschwitz rape groyper 88 a run for his money,

I believe all Jewish women should should be given clitoridectomies at birth*, I think the greatest mistake of Abraham was his unabashed misandry, his sexism, his unforgivable favoritism to all of the daughters of Israel

(*I do not endorse any kind of harm or violence of any kind against any group of people. This is a comedy show and all of the contents herein should be taken as parody.)

There is no force more destructive, more caustic, more civilization-destroying in the entire world than the sex drive of a horny jewess, combined with that most cursed gift that about one jew in twenty possesses; the power of rabbinical speech, the power to create ideology ex nihilo with words

Whether we look at Jesus, or Paul, or Marx, or Freud, or Strauss, or even someone like Eliezer Yudkowsky or Curtis Yarvin, this is one of the racial attributes of Jews, to spin spider webs of ideology

It’s not for nothing that the author of genesis places the blame for allowing all sin to enter the world at the feet of a Jewish woman

Eve’s original sin was that she lusted after a serpent. Adam’s original sin was listening to and believing a woman.

So Jewish women are the handmaidens of Satan. The Christianity shredder, which turns Christians into post-Christians, was built by Jewish women in order to relieve themselves of sexual accountability

It begins with the sexual liberation of all people, of men and women, the dissolution of all rules governing sexual conduct. The only rule is that all parties involved have to agree.

and then it follows with a new kind of sexual guilt only for men, the sexual re-enslavement of men, now without all that nasty Bible nonsense, now without anything that could possibly hold women accountable for anything they do

The result is a unilateral paradigm of male sexual guilt, and the only thing more contemptible than the women who authored it are the men who willingly participate in it

There’s a certain species of Christian-presenting post-Christian who finds this kind of sexual guilt incredibly sympathetic, and the only possible cure for this disease is in meinkraft

But we aren’t here to discuss video games—or feminism—today, and we’re going to move on.

So this is post-Christianity, a hastily-modded and ramshackle version of Christianity, which is missing most of the parts that make it run. It is now schizophrenic, flailing around and flouncing from one poorly imagined altruistic urge to the next, an engine which we can no longer maintain, but which will keep on running for a while, maybe a good long while, before it totally breaks down.

One of the things you see online is a lot of recent converts to Catholicism in particular, a lot of them seem to be younger, and the popular consensus is that this is some kind of zoomer pendulum swing against the rampant sexual degeneracy that we see in our society today

And it’s totally understandable why a small minority who see the sexual hell we have now wrought would also try to run just as fast as they can back into pandora’s box

But that doesn’t work for reasons that I hope my choice of metaphor makes apparent. It’s not just “new convert zeal” or whatever you want to call it, it’s that there’s a real difference in the texture and the quality of this kind of Christianity,

it’s that these new converts with all their obnoxious pharisaical crowing about porn and promiscuity and degeneracy are trying

(and they are obviously failing, obvious because loud pharisaical shrieking is how people behave when they are trying to squeeze faith out of their stony faithless hearts)

They are trying to make the guilt engine run on sexual guilt again, and they think if they can just get everyone to go along with the idea, they will be able to feel sexual guilt again, too, in spite of themselves, sexual guilt 1.0

But and as trite as this saying has become there really are things you can’t un-see, and that’s why some teenagers are still largely capable of feeling authentic sexual guilt, because they have not yet apprehended the post-Christian conscience, 

And that’s why everyone else—adult Christians included—are, in spite of themselves, post-Christian on some level, 

and also why geriatric Christians can’t understand the problem, because they are past the phase of their lives where sexual impulses weigh upon them with existential urgency, once their bodies have withered

Now, it’s very tempting to say that Jews are therefore to blame for our state of existence in post-Christianity, and indeed the price we paid to assimilate Jews into American civic society was to allow some of their philosophy, some of their inner being into our ours

But what they did was only to kick down an already rotting foundation of our social and religious superstructure.

Let me explain. This is something else Nietzsche talks about in the Genealogy of Morals, a hundred years before the Jews came to America, before any critical theorists or feminists, even before Simone de Beauvoir, let alone any Jewish feminists

Some Alleged Spider

Nothing I could write would improve upon what Nietzsche himself said on this topic, so I am just going to read to you. 

Even measured by the standards of the ancient Greeks, our entire modern being, insofar as it is not weakness but power and consciousness of power, looks like sheer hubris and godlessness; 

Our entire attitude to nature today, our violation of nature, with the help of machines and the unimaginable inventiveness of our technicians and engineers, is hubris; our attitude to God is hubris—I mean our attitude to some alleged spider spinning out purposes and morality behind the fabric of the huge fishing net of causality

These sentences are tremendous. Some alleged spider spinning out purposes and morality behind the fabric of the huge fishing net of causality.

That’s what god is to the modern man. That’s what god is to the modern Christian! That’s all he can be! An impossibly abstract ultimate cause, but not a direct cause of anything

Do you understand this? And it is against this conception of God, as some alleged spider, that makes even the most devout Christian appear Godless next to the Ancient Greeks, and even they appear Godless, by the same comparison, to their predecessors.

Because to the ancient Greeks, gods were beings who lived in the world, they had bodies and locality and earthly authority.

They lived in your city and if you ventured away from home, they didn’t follow you, they didn’t hear your prayers. Gods were capricious and petty and their power wasn’t absolute, hidden behind an invisible huge fishnet 

This kind of god required no faith to believe in. Their power was in the world, it was fire and storms and earthquakes, it was what moved the sun and made crops grow. 

But we moderns don’t ascribe any of that to God, except in the limpest and most ethereal way imaginable. An alleged spider spinning webs of causality. God works in mysterious ways but hurricanes work according to fully mechanical, mindless physical processes

There is a brilliant moment in The Joyous Science when Nietzsche says that what has undermined Christianity is ultimately Christian morality itself: “the increasingly strict understanding of the idea of truthfulness, the subtlety of the father confessor of the Christian conscience, transposed and sublimated into scientific conscience, into intellectual cleanliness at any price.”

This is such a profound observation, which for Nietzsche is only a minor lemma, but for Marcel Gauchet, it was worthy of a whole book, called The Disenchantment of the World. I’m going to share some insights from that book with you now, to help you understand both the goal and the constraints of this project, of integrating Nietzsche and Christianity.

To borrow a phrase from the corporate world, the core value proposition of the right, as I see it, is an aesthetic appeal. It’s that we wish to live in a world which is beautiful, where beauty is revered, where greatness and heroism are possible, where exceptional people can flourish and prosper

And we claim moreover that leftism is not a particularly coherent ideology which consciously moves against these aims: rather it is an entropy, it is the aggregation of everyone’s envy and resentment of everyone else, it is the reification of our collective will to tear others down, an infinite series of grievances which sum up to zero.

This instinct, if we allow it to use us, to use our hands and our voices, this instinct aims at a great leveling of mankind, it desires to lower everyone, to have no kings, no masters, no heroes, no gods. And this it calls equality, and it contends that everyone will only be free when everyone is equal, 

but this instinct fails to understand that everyone can only be equal when everyone is equal 

to zero (that’s zero as in the quantity which lies between one and negative one, not zero as in myself)

The only equality lies in the grave. The leveling instinct can find expression in any ideology, in democracy, in Christianity, and most of all, in communism, but as it is above all the reification of an immutable human instinct, even a committed right-wing organization can fall into this kind of entropy, insofar as it is composed of human actors with human motivations.

It appears that the beautiful, heroic society is only possible if men are able to overcome that part of themselves which tends towards envy and resentment, and that such a self-overcoming is only possible for the mass if they are able to participate authentically in religion. 

The essence of religion is to gain self-possession by partaking of self-dispossession. Now here comes the Nietzschean bit: overcoming envy and resentment is only possible when we recognize that charity and pity are sublimations of, and expressions of, envy and contempt. 

So that’s what we would like to see, in the modern world, that’s what we want to will into existence: we want a virtuous and mutually uplifting group-being, we want, not equality, but hierarchy, we want  everyone from the lowest to the highest to have access to self-possession, which is, paradoxically, only available through self-dispossession, through religion.

And the reason we look to Nietzsche for that is because he was in many ways the first modern philosopher, because he wrestled with these questions before anyone else, though Schopenhauer came close

and because after the collapse of religion, everyone, even self-identified Christians, now exists in a Nietzschean idiom, even though they may not realize it, because the modern, godless world forces them to be self-authoring beings, even if they try to use Christianity as the basis of that self-authoring

So before we get into the penultimate segment, I’d like to trace a brief history of Man’s relation to God, because I need you to understand how Christianity undermined its own foundations, and what it would really mean to revitalize religion in the modern world

And we also need to be very careful that we aren’t using the will to change the world as an excuse for inaction. It’s not always, and it’s not everyone, but there is a very easy psychological trap to fall into where you blame your own discontent or your own lack of accomplishment on the world, instead of accepting responsibility for yourself

It’s very important not to do this, because this is also resentment, and in some ways it’s the worst kind of resentment, it’s the resentment that leads to paralysis

If you ever feel tempted to think or say “the reason I am not successful is because of leftism or modernity or capitalism or the Jews or the longhouse or the patriarchy or the corporations or the woke”, you need to cut that shit out

It is possible to succeed under any of these circumstances and it’s possible for a man of vitality and power to sculpt the world in his own image

That’s why we want to change the world, not because we think it will empower us personally but because, being empowered already, we wish to exert our power upon the world, 

and if we want to uplift others, it’s not out of altruism, but rather because we recognize ourselves as good and we have the vital desire to impose our goodness on others

Part 4 — Old Time Religion

The Disenchantment of the World

So now let’s examine the history of man’s relation to god.

Primitive, primordial religion is something that is fixed in time. Its sanctities and its rituals come from our predecessors and they are immutable. The only division is between the infinite past and the unchanging present.

This type of religion can only exist in a world where no state exists, where no state has ever existed. Because the moment a government forms, the present becomes mutable, and religion becomes subordinate to politics, and the gods become entangled in history.

The appearance of the state inverts the underlying ontological structure, it changes the way we relate to the world. It is the beginning of the process of history, and it allows us to conceive of time in a new way.

In primordial religion, there is a sense of eternity, this unchangingness, this conception of the void as the fundament of being. Oriental religions preserve this tendency; the goal is to merge with nature.

Western religion takes a different path, the path of subjectivizing the divine, of viewing the fundament of being as a human mind, or actually as a super-human mind, but as something anthropomorphic in any case, whether man is made in god’s image or god is made in man’s image depends who you ask,

but the meaning is the same either way: God possesses a subjectivity, and a phenomenology. To paraphrase Nagel, there is “something it’s like” to be the divine Absolute

The implication of this is something radical, because if God has a subjectivity and a consciousness, if God is in possession of a self, then that means there is a logically necessary and unbridgeable gap between creation and the creator, and just as we can never truly inhabit the mind of another, we can never truly inhabit the mind of God

And this western understanding of God, as a subjectivized other, places us in a perpetually confrontational posture toward things as they are, and it condemns us to a transformative non-acceptance of the world, to a state of ineradicable discontent

When Nietzsche’s ascetic priest imagines a different world, a cold, objective, “other” world, it’s because he is trying to cross that uncrossable chasm

Now this is the central insight in Gauchet’s book The Disenchantment of the World: The more we conceptualize God as something absolute, as something capital-O Outside of the world, the more we end up splitting God off from the world and leaving the material world to its own devices.

Gauchet calls this the law of human emancipation through divine affirmation: “the greater the gods, the freer humans are.”

This is paradoxical, and once you internalize it, its logic is undeniable, and you begin understand why Christianity unravels itself, not at the individual level necessarily but at the level of the group, at the level of society 

The more powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing, etc. that God is, the further away he feels. Pagan small-G gods live in your own house, they rumble the earth at you and make your crops grow. They enforce their own laws, three inches from your face.

The savage mind detects a will, an anthropomorphic will, behind natural phenomena. The Christian mind has separated out the divine will from the natural world, and so instead it looks for an inner, material law inherent in the natural world

The development of Christian thought in the Western world is the story of God becoming increasingly differentiated from any perceptible ties to the material world—leaving us to imagine the world’s order in terms of objectivity and internal necessity. 

In other words, the more we think of God as something outside the world, as something absolute, the more we force ourselves to think of the world itself as something self-sufficient, as something that follows an internal law of its own, until and so, again paradoxically, the more we see God as all powerful, all knowing, as the ontological anchor of all being, the more we relegate him to the status of Nietzsche‘s alleged spider spinning out purposes and morality behind the fabric of the huge fishing net of causality.

In primitive, savage, pagan religion, there is a total unity between god and the world. Gods are in the world and of the world. Primitive religion is characterized by unity

In the civilized, modern, Christian and post-Christian religion, there is a total duality between God and the world. Higher and more developed forms of religion are characterized by duality. 

The more God was separated from us by his infinite nature, the more our relationship with him became purely personal, to the point of excluding any institutional mediation.

In the culmination of this process, there is only one remaining place in the whole natural world where we can hide the divine subject, and that is inside of the human subject, inside of the one place that remains wholly inscrutable to empiricism, inside our own subjectivity, or to be more poetic, inside the human heart.

The more God becomes an entity of pure Outsideness, of exteriority, the more we are obligated to realize him as an entity of pure insideness, of subjective interiority, and the consequence of this is a religion of radical individuality 

Ok so the last bit was pretty philosophically heavy, I think it takes a while to roll this paradox around in your mind, to come to grips with it. It might be worth pausing for a bit if you haven’t encountered this idea before.

But what I want to do next is use this lens of what I am calling Gauchet’s law, to look again at a few different religious traditions. In a way we could perhaps think of a religion as a theory about the nature of God, so we can see what Gauchet’s law tells us about these different theories

Protestantism

We will start with Protestantism, which is a relatively modern form of Christianity, and in which we see this near total coming apart of God and the world. Protestantism is the penultimate culmination of Gauchet’s law, where God has become entirely ontologically self-sufficient, scarcely in the world at all, an alleged spider 

Notice I say pen-ultimate above because Nietzsche achieves the true culmination, the total separation.

But this tendency and this vector towards coming-apart is something that is inherent in the inception of Christianity, as we have observed. It’s “baked in” to the doctrines of the incarnation and the trinity.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, only-begotten of the Father Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father. By whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth.

It’s this idea, that Christ is not a manifestation of God, not a mask that God is wearing, as we would see in Hinduism or Ancient Greek paganism, it’s this contradiction: that Christ is fully God and fully Man, this is one of the things, not even the only thing, that makes Christianity truly unique despite its similarities to many other religions.

Attributing Godhood to kings is something common; attributing humanity to God stands alone. And the implication of this, philosophically, psychologically, never even needs to be articulated in order to be felt. It might take a theologian to put it in words, but anyone can sense the unspoken relation this teaching creates between creator and creation, to wit, that they are separate.

The contradictory duality of Christ delineates an identical duality between God and the world, and once again, places us inexorably in an antagonistic and transformative stance towards this world as we anticipate the next.

You can find this idea is even explicitly formulated by Martin Luther and has been retained in many variants of Protestantism today, in what is called the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms. 

Luther’s minimalism, his sola fide, his sola scriptura, is an entirely theologically viable Christianity, but Catholics resent it deeply, bitterly, even to this day, because it represents an inversion of control which completely undermines the legitimacy and the authority and the holiness of the Catholic Church 

An inversion of control because from the Catholic perspective, the church is superordinate over the Bible; the contents of the Bible were in fact decided by the church in the first place; they have a monopoly both on the editorial control of its contents and on the ability to declare what it means

But under protestantism the church is sub-ordinate to the Bible, the Bible comes first, the church comes second, and this necessitates a new way of reading the Bible, a new kind of critical reading, undertaken in good faith, a vivisection of scripture with the honest intent to read it to its utmost, understand it to its utmost

But this vivisection soon turns into a dissection, these reading techniques developed to illuminate the Bible, this art of philology yields forth what is called high criticism, which then yields forth post-modernism

I know postmodernism is a dirty word to many of you who haven’t bothered to understand it or who have taken the shallow impressions of lazy midwit Christian “intellectuals” who lack the imagination, the sensitivity, and the spiritual insight to realize that a religion founded on the solipsism of text has no choice, no other choice, no other path than to uncover the inherent treachery of all texts

Having accepted the text as his lord and savior, our Protestant man had no choice but to piously, lovingly, prayerfully delve to its depths—all the better to know you Lord!—-and there to find its contentions, its footnotes, it’s politics, its little games, in other words, he discovers through philology and archaeology all of those Human things which caused him to reject the Catholic Church in the first place

In this light we must realize that the majority of Protestants lack the fortitude and intellect to make this Chthonic journey, or else they would have become post-Christians by now

But there is also a smaller group who is able to find solace and even a type of conviction in that fact that there is no bottom to the abyss of text, and to see in its depths the trace of Some Alleged Spider.

Sola scriptura, by the scriptures alone, in other words, each man is left alone with his wits! and the wits of most men do not shine brightly enough to find their way in the post-modern abyss

And Nietzsche—let’s bring it back to the apostle Fred for a moment—Nietzsche was a trained philologist, and it was exactly this training and background that allowed him to anticipate postmodernism in his seminal essay, On Truth and Lies in a Non-Moral Sense. But we’ll talk about that more in the final segment.

Catholicism

Under Protestantism, we see, as I noted, the penultimate step in a process which is baked into the doctrine of the incarnation itself. In contrast, Catholicism represents a kind of intermediate stage of the inevitable Christian will to duality. 

if God is truly the other, inexhaustibly different, then any claim by the Church to interpose itself between ultimate otherness and extreme inwardness becomes an absurd hoax, any communitarian bridge thrown across the abyss toward heaven seems an idolatrous misunderstanding of transcendence. 

To institutionalize communication with the invisible is to ignore our distance from the divine. From our vantage point in post-Christianity, with our understanding of Gauchet’s law, the law of human emancipation through divine affirmation: “the greater the gods, the freer humans are.”

From this vantage point, Ecclesial mediation was built on something that cast doubt on the very possibility of mediation

But notice, notice here that contradiction does not invalidate a moral or mythological thesis in the same way it invalidates a logical thesis

Under Catholicism, God’s law is still located in the world and it obtains there through the church. The church, the clerisy, the saints all bring God closer to Man, they partly immanentize the divine in this world.

That makes it easier to believe. That makes it easier to perceive God as an entity that acts in the world, in other words, that makes Him much less of an alleged spider, that immanentizes the allegations. 

Catholics so often inveigh against protestant “democratization” of scripture, but in fact it is mediation between God and Man which makes Christianity available to the masses.

Luther with his five solae strips away all the layers of Christian intermediation that the Catholic church so carefully erected between God and Man, like a tower of babel, a ladder that reaches up to heaven. 

This stripping away renders each man as his own mediator, even though most are not up to the task.

Christianity languishes under these conditions, because it requires abstract thought, because the Catholic church built those layers precisely to solve this problem, precisely to make Christianity accessible to the mass in the first place.

Catholicism is Christianity “for the people” — it requires no great cognitive leap from its adherents, but for this reason it has run its course now that the full implications of Gauchet’s law have manifested themselves — That’s what Luther represents

And its worth noting that there have been Protestant attempts, particularly in America, to reconstruct some of God’s authority and power in an earthly way, as a kind of ex-ante reconstruction of what Luther destroyed, although it looks quite different.

I am speaking of course of Pentecostal Christians, who perform such sacred acts as snake handling, speaking in tongues, and a style of crowd hypnosis called slaying in the spirit, wherein the victim is psychologically overpowered by the preacher into fainting.

All of these carnival tricks can also be found in primitive pagan religions and they serve the same function in both cases: they make God feel closer, more present, less of an alleged spider, more of a being in the world whose laws and mental states must be regarded and honored

As Nietzsche observed, Christianity was nearly a spent force in Europe before Luther revitalized it. Catholicism in the current year is mostly an enterprise for brown third-worlders who never developed the collective capacity to integrate with the duality at the heart of Christian theology.

They are in the same position, with respect to Luther, that the Protestant is with respect to Nietzsche, running an old version of the software which is no longer really being updated.

The machine still works in both cases, but it can move no farther without reconciling itself to its own latent tendencies, which in the case of Catholicism means Protestantism, and in the case of Protestantism means post-Christianity. 

Again, keep this Nietzschean principle in mind, that to attack something is to strengthen it. Luther’s attack on Catholicism stoked a fire that was surely going out.

None of this is to disparage my Catholic friends, any more than to disparage my Protestant friends. I’m about to say some things which Muslims and Mormons will also find distasteful. I’m not playing favorites, here.

Islam

Now briefly let’s look at aberrant forms of Christianity, this pattern seems to recur, that whereas Christianity is progressive, with its perfectly contradictory duality as realized through Christ

—with its gradual, inevitable slide into Gauchean disjunction—

someone occasionally comes along, some genius of the heart, and bowdlerizes Christianity and dumbs it down and removes its essential character

And this arrests the progressive, Guachean process, this results in something very easy to believe, something easy to obey

Christ is not easy to obey, because his commandments are literally insane, they are the rantings of an absolute lunatic, hence that old saw, either God or a bad man: liar, lunatic, lord

But what we should recognize is that Christ’s naked insanity makes him, paradoxically, a supreme exemplar of pagan virtue, and we’ll talk about that more in the next segment 

Anyway so Islam is a residue of Christianity, it’s a neutered, caponized version of it

Muhammad was a practitioner of an old and no longer extant pagan religion that worshiped at the meteor crater at Kaaba

And at some point with all the trade and the trafficking of merchants in the region, many of whom were Christian, he got his hands on a Syriac lectionary, a book of passages from the Bible, and he translated it into Arabic and he introduced elements of his own Kaaban paganism

And that was how he built the Koran. Muslims don’t care for this history for the same reason so called traditional Protestants, which is to say all the non-Mainline Protestants, don’t care much for philology, which is now more fashionably called high criticism

To admit that a text has a genealogy is to strip it of its mystique, like undressing a beautiful woman, it’s to rob her of all her secrets, it’s to embroil her in the postmodern cult of textuality

So Islam is a degraded form of Christianity, degraded because it strips Christ of his divinity, it demotes him to a mere prophet

Islam is not, therefore, a religion of interpretation—like Christianity is—it doesn’t demand of its adherents that they wrestle their whole lives with contradiction, it doesn’t separate God from the world

Rather it says the world is merely a facet of God, and his commands are absolute. Thus there is no essential transformative, antagonistic stance to the world.

It is only when there was an investment in the other world as opposed to this one that the monotheistic creed becomes a destabilizing force.

Christianity is a religion of interpretation, involving the determination and imposition of a dogma, as well as freedom of conscience. When Christ’s mediation is erased, whether by lowering him to the human level or raising him to the divine, this interpretive articulation disappears.

Islam demands only submission by, Islam can only demand submission, and that makes it anti-progressive, that makes it a religion of stasis

One does not interpret the Koran, one obeys it. And on that note we might also take a moment to note the similarity of Islam to certain strains of Christian fundamentalism.

Ironically the fundamentalists tend to be the most ardent Muslim-disrespecters precisely because they share the same hermeneutical methods.

This kind of literalism is the natural milieu of 90 iq goatherders and it enables them to produce orderly, albeit stagnant societies.

I mean that and it’s not a sleight against Islam per se, it’s a religion which is probably well-suited in many ways to these modern times; it is a total rejection of modernity, which when fully understood is an advanced stage of Christianity

Islam resists modernity, it resists what we see as modern libertinism, modern rudderlessness, modern degeneracy even, in the same measure it rejects its own Christian origins, because these things are all fruit of the same tree.

The difference between modernity and Christianity is a couple clicks of the ideological ratchet, as latent tendencies therein become fully realized.

Islam is the perfect religion for a thuggish moron like Andrew Tate, whose cognitive horizons are approximately the same as an elephant seal, a hunter gatherer tribal chief, or a rapper, all the same thing.

Muslim men are able to achieve self-possession through self-dispossession, which is the primary function of all religions, if we disregard their metaphysical claims, so it has that going for it. (REEEEEE)

But what Islam never does is reach beyond itself. The only time Islamic society ever produces an artistic or scientific achievement was when it accidentally and temporarily incorporated some Ancient Greek texts into its extended canon.

The golden age of Islam was an echo of the glory of Ancient Greece and nothing more, and they have never done anything noteworthy since, they are totally stuck in the 13th century, despite their appropriation of modern technology.

Mormonism

Now even more briefly, and because I haven’t offended enough of my listeners yet, let’s talk about the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Joseph Smith was in every way the American Muhammad. His religion is, again, a kind of dismantling of Christianity.

The entire fulcrum of Christianity, this one thing, this one thing that makes it truly unique and truly exceptional and truly transformative among all the faiths of the world, the thing that is most difficult about it, if you take it seriously:

The simultaneous divinity and humanity of Christ, the doctrine of the trinity, the profound unity of the divine, the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son.  That’s the thing Joseph Smith discards.

And in so doing, he produces yet another form of Islam. He produces something common, something static, something enthralled to Being instead of Becoming.

You don’t interpret Mormonism, you obey. Mormonism is very stable, Latter Day Saints are very stable people. An Empire founded on Mormon integralism could probably last for a thousand years without much disruption.

And no history would occur in that time, probably there would be very few technological developments, and the main problem would be malaise precipitated by eventual stagnation.

This is, honestly, what most people want.

Judaism

Alright. Now before we move on to Buddhism I have to briefly comment on Judaism so that people don’t accuse me of a conspicuous absence. I am not going to bother dedicating much time to Judaism here because it’s barely a real religion at all, I mean it has the shape of a religion but it’s more of a cul-de-sac, a side quest for people of a certain ethnicity.

The main reason it evolved is as a way to keep the male Jewish mind out of trouble by trapping itself in a labyrinthe of intertextuality. Hermeneutics are the innate apanage of the Jews and their religion as such is more of an elaborate hermeneutical game than a religion per se.

All of the influential and powerful Jews in the modern world are secular atheists, they are adherents of the American civic religion, and it’s senseless to conflate their actions and beliefs with Judaism-the-religion

Christianity is obviously the real Judaism, the real inheritor of the God of Abraham, and one often suspects Christian antisemitism is mostly a species of sibling rivalry, a mile wide and an inch deep. 

Buddhism

The only eastern religion I am going to comment on at this time is Buddhism, which is interesting mostly in so far as its relation to the absolute is inverted from something like Islam. In Islam, the world is tightly bound to God, his transcendence is manifest as an immanence, the world is a facet of god, the Koran is a facet of God, and so on.

In Buddhism, the world itself is an illusion, and there is very little sense in acting on the world or in the world at all; the absolute is mindless, and the goal is for the world to totally attenuate, to vanish, to recede back into the void of the absolute.

There is both a total lack of involvement in our terrestrial prison and, by emphasizing the impermanence of the phenomenal universe, a diminution of its substantiality, so that once we pass through these appearances, all separation is abolished, along with the illusion of personality. 

This philosophy of deliverance presents a symmetrical counterpart to Islam where submission through belief is the keynote. On one side is monotheism without the salvation imperative; on the other a sustained effort toward salvation without monotheism, without any concern for the divine at all.

So these are case studies, when we think about religion and the way it shapes our relation to the world through the way it positions us relative to God.

Scientism

Finally we come to Scientism, which is relatively new and which manages to fly under the radar as a religion, but which obviously occupies a lot of head space among post Christians in particular, but which all people of all religions have to contend with

The reason I have spent so much time here talking about the relation to God, the distance between Man and the Absolute, Man and the Divine, is to drive the point home that our experience of God, and our ability to believe, is predicated on our perceived distance to God, which is determined by our perceived immanence of His power

And the ability to believe in God then is largely determined by our ability to perceive his power, by how tangible his power is

we don’t really need any faith to believe in the power of technology; it’s how you are listening to me today, it’s how you have fresh food and clean water, it’s how you cure your illnesses, it’s how you go from place to place very rapidly, listen to music in your home, it’s an integral part of your daily life

And most people probably feel this power, they actually take it for granted, they don’t really perceive it as magical at all and the people who do, they either become these kind of Reddit I fucking love science types prattling on like Neil Degrasse Tyson black science man 

Or else they maybe turn into these right wing Luddites, posting about how technology is demons, the Internet is demons, electricity is satanic, it was given to us by aliens who are actually secret Nazi DMT CIA elves

And once you break that epistemic dam then you start memeing yourself into believing all kinds of nonsense which some of it has maybe the thinnest archaeological justification but a lot of it, you know, hollow earth and secret sunken continents and Nazi UFOs, it’s just utter nonsense

We all know Arthur C Clarke‘s famous quotation, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Magic

But a more psychologically apposite statement might be if we proposed the corollary that any sufficiently ubiquitous magic is indistinguishable from technology, which is to say, is utterly unremarkable

and so nevertheless we feel this direct immanent power of science, manifested as technology,

But because it is not embodied in any specific individual, because it’s actually an institution which means it is an aggregate of many individuals’ collective actions and it has a duration which extends far beyond any individual’s lifetime,

We treat science as this kind of invisible entity, psychologically not really different from a God, albeit different from the God of the Bible, with different powers, different nature

But a God just the same, a God with very little divine distance

Incidentally, nations, political parties, even social clubs all take on a kind of similar personal nature, in part because of our tendency to anthropomorphize all of the entities that we perceive

In the 21st century, this one entity called science seems to be one of the most powerful and universal entities around, so it’s not really any surprise how many people become sort of accidental or unwitting adherents of scientism

And sometimes they become self-conscious witting adherents of scientism and we have all seen how ugly and embarrassing that is

And part of the reason it’s embarrassing, the big part of the reason, is that science makes no moral proclamations, although science is when properly understood and practiced a kind of asceticism, arguably even it comes from Christian asceticism

So it has its own internal moral logic but it can’t make any authoritative statements about how people ought to treat each other or about justice or about moral desert or anything like that

But the is-ought distinction tragically evades most people. They can’t really see a difference between what is and what ought to be, so they appeal to the authority of science

—which is only a real authority in certain limited domains—to justify their moral beliefs, even though those beliefs were not arrived at scientifically and could never be justified in any strictly scientific paradigm.

And just as maintaining faith in God requires the ability to anthropomorphize Serendipity, resisting the mawkish religiosity of scientism requires the ability to perceive the limitations of science regarding moral authority.

OK that’s enough. We need to take a break or I’ll end up saying something even worse than advocating for total jewish clitoridectomy. 

Part 5 - Synthesis

Self-Possession

We have covered a tremendous amount of ground so far and it becomes a bit overwhelming. And yet we still have farther to go

Let’s briefly summarize where we have been

I have explained the idea of the Christianity shredder, the abstract machine that transforms Christianity into post-Christianity by ostensibly “liberating” the subject from Christian sexual guilt

We looked at essay 3 of the Genealogy of Morals, at the idea that asceticism is a means to escape a torture, and we uncovered the conception of the Christian God as a spider spinning webs of purpose and causality 

We examined the psychological engine that powers Christian faith, the transmutation of envy into guilt into pity into pleasure by means of a sense of righteousness 

We looked at how, under post-Christianity, sexual guilt is reintroduced into the male psyche only by means of feminism and the discourse of patriarchal oppression 

Finally we looked at what I am calling Gauchet’s law, that the more powerful we make our Gods, the more distance we feel from them, and the more the natural, material world becomes ontologically self-sufficient

Now, at last, we are going to examine some intellectual currents which I think in some ways already constitute possibilities in the space of Christo-Nietzschean synthesis

but first I want to talk about what we are really hoping to achieve with this, because if we don’t know that then we don’t really have a criteria to understand why other existing syntheses have failed

The essence of religion is to gain self-possession by means of self dispossession—that’s not the purpose of religion, rather we might say that is its essential byproduct

That means that if you have a religion which you practice authentically, and piously, and sincerely, then by definition and of necessity you have become self-dispossessed. And in so doing, you will, paradoxically, gained self-possession.

Now, what is self-possession? It means quite literally that you own your self. It means your lower faculties, your impulses, your animal tendencies, have been subordinated to your higher faculties, your human tendencies, your reason to some degree, but more than that, to your capacity as a temporal being

When we look at what nature has to offer us, when we think about vitalism in the sense of being alive, saying yes to life, in a sense we’re thinking about the purity of what we imagine is animal consciousness

But Nietzsche makes it pretty clear that what separates lower forms of life from higher ones is the ability of the higher man to keep a promise. That is, the ability to bind your self, your being, across time. If you cannot do that, If you cannot exist with futurity, with expanded temporal consciousness, then you are something less than human

But so the tricky thing about essential byproducts is that you can’t really get them by focusing on them. You have to focus on the good thing that produces the byproduct, not on the byproduct itself. 

if you optimize for the wrong variable then you lose what is salutary about it.

In the same way, men don’t really value the truth. What they value is an essential byproduct of the truth which is the ability to predict the future. The more truth you know, the more accurately you can predict the future, and this produces other desirable effects: survival, wealth, and so on

But is that all?

Because if the only thing we wanted was self-possession then there are 1000 different ways we could get that.

Men can find self-possession through their hobbies, through sports or weightlifting, through the arts, through literature, through any discipline where the desire to excel begins to outweigh more immediate desires

In addition to self-possession, we also want a sense of purpose, and we want trust. We want to be able to trust our neighbors, which isn’t something that happens automatically just with shared ethnicity. That makes it easier. But trust requires shared values

That’s what religion is supposed to give us: self-possession, a sense of purpose, and shared values. The first of these, self-possession, is an individual quality. We can develop it in a vacuum, without relying on anyone or anything outside of ourselves.

I’ll say more on self-possession soon

The other things, shared values and a sense of purpose, those can’t come from inside of us. They have to be determined externally

People mythologize the idea of a sense of purpose but there’s really nothing magical about it. Purpose comes from using your power of self-possession to affect an entity whose temporal horizons extends beyond your own

That can be a church, a family, a nation, any abstraction which binds people together and forms a continuity which is independent of any one person.

That’s really the only alchemy required to develop a sense of purpose, however, the longer the time horizon of the entity, the more profoundly the sense of purpose is felt

The trick of all the grand old religions is that they convey a sense of ultimate purpose by laying claim to eternity

But true believers, Christians in particular, get very upset when we value their religion for its earthly benefits, for its essential byproducts, because they believe—and they’re mostly correct—that these byproducts can only be achieved by focusing on what they understand as the primary value, the primary objective of Christianity, which is Christ

Christianity trains self-possession through asceticism, specifically through epistemic and sexual asceticism, and if you remove those supports, it collapses.

We have already looked at sexual asceticism some length, but now I would like to take a moment to look at Christianity and epistemic asceticism

Faith is a method for training self-possession, because self-possession is not something that you achieve once and then you simply have it and you don’t ever have to achieve it again

It is something quite ephemeral, something which you must continually renew, every time one of your baser impulses runs up against one of your higher ones

Every time you are tempted to break a promise you must gain self-possession again

And faith is really an exercise for training that faculty.

Because every day you wake up and you make a deliberate choice, you choose to believe something absurd, something obviously and patently false, you will yourself to believe in some alleged spider

You choose to believe that all your little errors and shortcomings and venial pecadillos have consequences not just in this here world that we all inhabit but in an invisible abstract other world and that there was once a being who was,

in violation of all logic, in a way that is quite literally impossible, both God and Man and that his death was both an unforgivable cosmic tragedy and also a premeditated act of infinite charity and that as a result of it, every bad thought and bad deed you had are cosmically rectified in an eternal ledger that exists outside of time and space

And the fact that you choose to believe this in spite of its obvious insanity and falsity is a form of asceticism and if you do it diligently, it confers all three of the things we want to get out of religion as essential byproducts: self-possession, a sense of purpose, and the ability to trust your neighbors on the basis of shared values

But in a sense even being able to articulate the possibility of shared values makes the reality inaccessible, because to be aware of shared values is to implicitly concede that each man’s values may differ

And the really perverse thing about this exercise is that by its very nature it’s impossible for anyone who performs it to be honest or forthright about it, about the way it works, in fact they are incapable of even becoming aware of the mechanism by which it works, because the choice they are making is choosing not to know 

So the only way this understanding can be conveyed is poetically, or not at all. 

And there is a lie here, a lie that is more implicit than explicit, which is that pretty much every religion will tell you that their way, their faith, their forms of moral and epistemic asceticism are the only way, the only true path to self-possession and purpose

And this is simply false, and it can be extremely alienating and disenchanting and resentment-breeding when you discover this lie

This is one of the many failure modes of religious exhortation, this is the “rocky ground” that Jesus speaks of in the parable of the sower 

The Varieties of Post-Christianity

There are many ways that Christianity is ill-suited to the modern, techno-industrial world, which is the world that Christianity has built.

In primitive cultures, religion has often been a function of the state. The conceit that the church should be a separate, non-overlapping magisterium is a consequence of Christianity, a consequence of its essential duality, of the divine distance, of the calling to be in this world and not of it

There is a direct through-line between the Marshall McLuhan idea of the global village, the idea that instantaneous electronic communication recreates the social conditions of ancient, primitive, pre-civilizational man

There’s a direct line between this idea and Bronze Age Pervert’s conception of the longhouse, which is the idea that, whatever the formal power structure may appear to be, the real center of social gravity consists of everyone living under one roof, with the acceptability of all actions being determined by the consensus of gossiping women and their male imitators

The reason BAP calls it the longhouse is to emphasize the fact that feminism is nothing new, it is only a modern articulation of an ancient and primitive social arrangement 

By the same token, our collective orientation to religion in the electronic world is that of a primitive tribal village. 

All those components of religious function which were so delicately teased apart and delineated by Christianity since the birth of Christ have now been metabolized and reintegrated into the state

The tribal chiefs are also the tribal priests, just as it was in pre-civilizational times, and in early states. They perform all of the religious rites which give structure to civic society .

They teach us their primitive tribal religion, they find precedents for their sexual perversions in anthropological accounts of tribal people living in grass huts and it resonates because our electronic society is in many ways a reconstitution of these primitive forms.

Remember that savage, primordial religion is something that is fixed in time. Its sanctities and its rituals come from the past and they are immutable. The only division is between the infinite past and the unchanging present.

Likewise in the reconstituted primitive state, we have discarded the classic ideological discourses of futurity,

the progressivist idea of continuity has been chained to a hamster wheel in which no progress can occur until every oppressed group has been liberated, even as our tribal priests seem to uncover new and more exotic forms of oppression every single day

In the new global village, there is only a static, illiberal past, and an eternal, emancipated now

More radical stances toward futurity have been exhausted and made obsolete by historical change. By destroying the images which allowed us to intelligibly grasp it, we are once again stuck in an immutable present, and the only true progressives remaining are a handful of Silicon Valley CEOs

The only even halfway credible myths of the future now are various forms of sci-fi apocalypse. 

Escape from the eternal present of reconstituted tribal religion is only possible when we are able to regard the future as an object of superstition and worship.

The less credible this vision is, the more we are stuck.

Now I would like to examine two instances of what I consider to be failed integrations of Nietzsche with Christianity, before laying out what I think is a more fruitful approach

The first is the philosophy of Girard, which I understand is probably pretty dubious to call it Nietzschean in any way, as of course Girard specifically renounces Nietzsche, 

But there is nevertheless something quite Nietzschean about his project of reducing Christianity to something purely anthropological, all while claiming that his strictly materialist understanding of Christianity in no way detracts from a metaphysical understanding which takes Christ literally

And he isn’t wrong, either, in that one could of course hold these two non-overlapping accounts in his head at the same time.

Whether there is any reason to do so is, I suppose, not his concern.

But just as the genealogy of morals drags Christianity back down to earth by situating it in history as a series of contingencies, Girard’s book I Saw Satan Fall Like Lightning does the same thing.

And while the anthropological reading doesn’t invalidate Christianity, it does obviate the need for the metaphysical reading.

Girard provides a narrative and a mechanism by which Jesus’ death is understood as the ultimate circuit breaker to an endless cycle of pagan violence.

The important thing to realize is that you can believe in Girard’s account without any faith, without any self-overcoming.

He presents a shortcut to belief in Christianity, a very clever shortcut, but like all shortcuts it fails to deliver on the essentially edifying content of the journey itself

There are many good reasons to convert to a religion, to Christianity in this case and there always have been, but in order for the conversion to stick, in order for the seed to fall into good ground, in order to have Deepness of Earth—

one must be able to forget the reasons that led one to convert in the first place. And with Girard the journey is too short, and in order to remove the need for the leap of faith, he is forced to loosen the bindings of God’s commandments,

Until one is left with little more than air, a lighting bolt which flashes and then departs.

So in this sense, Girard’s purported Christianity is an attempt to integrate Christianity with the Nietzschean, post-Christian world, and it fails because it’s too clever, too smooth, because it doesn’t demand anything from the adherent, and because there’s not enough Nietzsche in it

In the end, what could be more perfectly Girardian than an articulation of Christianity which requires no sacrifice?

Ok that last line was too precious and clever and if I had more shame I would have cut it from the talk.

Let’s move on.

The second failed synthesis I want to look at is more interesting even though most people would probably never even glance at it, they wouldn’t look at you the way I look at you, they don’t care about you the way I do

The second failed synthesis, and I am using the word “failed” very loosely here, is the 1989 best-selling classic of Burnhamian—Taylorian if you want to be pedantic— of Private-Managerial-Classism, a book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

In some ways this is a decadent book, which undeniably makes it a book for our time. In this book by Stephen Covey, though he never mentions Nietzsche, he elucidates a Nietzschean worldview which is surprisingly faithful to the original, with only a few small tweaks

Over and over, Covey exhorts us to be self-authoring individuals, to create our own values, and to pursue good things which are, in most cases, as pagan as they are Christian

He doesn’t eschew wealth, or power, he takes it for granted that good things are good and he never tries to undermine them with slave morality

But he does perform a sleight of hand, because even as he exhorts you to create your own values, he offers you habits which he derives from ostensibly timeless and self-evident “principles”, some of which have inalienably Christian provenance

And he also, albeit in a timid, slightly embarrassed way, in the foreword and afterword only, tells you that he personally believes you should be a Christian

But he never explains why, and there’s something tepid about this Christianity, because it seems extraneous, because it seems like an afterthought, it is left hanging, and it attaches to nothing and so it is easily discarded

In this sense Covey’s attempt at a synthesis is ultimately post-Christian in the same way that Girard’s is.

And it’s a better synthesis, precisely because it is stronger, because it demands more, because it requires more self-mastery and more self-possession

And even though it contains slave values, it does not seem to be shackled to a Christian guilt engine—it’s valid question as to whether such a thing can hold together without that engine—

But as I said earlier, it is a decadent ideology, it takes for granted that we live in a world which is ordered by the rule of law, it never mentions war or death or violence or cruelty or insanity

It never gives us any theory of beauty, never describes the irrationality at the heart of every heroic action.

It never says anything kind and necessary and true about women. 

So it succeeds, but only as long as it lives in a walled garden where there are no gradations of rank biologically, where there are no higher and lower forms of life

Where everyone is basically the same on the inside—in other words, Covey’s philosophy works under the conceits of the modern office, inside of a boomer egalitarian fantasy world

So when we make our synthesis—or rather, to give the secret away—when we make OUR syntheses, plural, we must remember to include all of those things which Covey has forgotten, most of all a racial consciousness, not the vulgar racial consciousness that we see today among the mexicans pretending to be white, but a real, positive, Nietzschean racial consciousness

One which, to recycle a phrase, does not merely treat heritage like a sports team, but one which has a positive vision of biological differences among men

Covey has filed all of the sharp edges off of Nietzsche, and it’s a credit to Nietzsche that what remains at the end of this is something still quite powerful, quite serviceable, something which resonates with many normal Americans when they hear it

And yet in a revolting way, it is something quite appropriate to what we might call the last man. Nietzsche‘s concept of the last man if you’re not familiar with it, Google it, explaining that one is a little too remedial right now

There is a kind of repugnant conclusion that we reach when we examine Covey’s book, which is that as bland and as marinated in neoliberal platitudes as it is, Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, all these treacly quotations which might as well be from Michael Scott

Is there are a lot of lost young men on twitter dot com who would probably benefit more from reading and practicing this very safe, very boring very, unsexy philosophy that we find in Covey, than they do by taking any of the advice that we find on hustle and grind Twitter, on incel forums, or any of these supposedly radicalized spaces

That’s because it is a philosophy for the mass, and almost every man forms a self-image where he is apart from the mass, above them, beyond them, and while this is a useful fiction, it’s also obviously  false

The thing that is so inspiring and wonderful about Nietzsche is that it is not a philosophy for the mass; it is a philosophy for the exception, 

and it has this funny little quirk that perfectly average, normal, unremarkable people who read it often come away with the conviction that they are exceptional

Maybe those are the eggs we have to break if we want a good omelet. 

Improving Upon Perfection 

So finally, we arrive at the place where I will reveal the much anticipated “Christo-Nietzschean Synthesis” — Now that we have examined so many of these pitfalls, engineering concerns, failure cases, and so on

I have now this realization that some people will try to skip to this part, they just want the mountain top, they don’t want the climb

But the mountaintop is only valuable because of the climb, because of the work that you did to get there, precisely because it’s difficult to reach. There’s no magic one-liner, nothing that you could compress into a tweet that is going to magically realign all your perspectives, or give you faith in God, or faith in the future, or faith in yourself

You can’t cheat your way to self-possession and that goes doubly as much for having a sense of purpose or participating in a community of people with shared moral values. None of that is simple and none of it can be reduced to a slogan

What I’ve tried to convey here so far is a sense of the social, psychological, and philosophical environment in which Christianity is operating in order to help you grasp what problems we are hoping Nietzsche can solve. 

Nietzsche directed his worst vitriol against Christianity but now, 150 years later, we can look upon his words, and we can look upon the world, and we can see how his ideas have been met by the world

And what we see is that they were already, in some respects, integrated into mainstream thought, as for example in the philosophy of someone like Stephen Covey. 

But the way they were integrated was wrong, it was done in the wrong way, and for the wrong reasons. 

A successful Christo-Nietzschean synthesis is a worldview which accepts both Nietzsche and Christ, and in order to create this union, we must be willing to entertain assertions which will be offensive to both Christians and Nietzscheans.

I already know exactly how this proposal goes for most self-proclaimed Nietzscheans, they will hear: you want me to be Christian? And they will balk at that. And similarly Christians will say, Nietzsche, you mean the guy who said God is dead. Well Nietzsche’s dead now, so who is laughing?

Ah but may I direct you back to the first segment of this talk.

And in any case, what else could such a thing as a Christo-Nietzschean synthesis mean? It’s not going to be something clever, some little flourish of language. I have just spent the last two hours explaining why. Girard is clever, and that’s why he is unsatisfying

A successful integration of these opposites will have the following attributes:

The Christo-Nietzschean is a man who believes in Christ, who accepts the doctrine of the incarnation, and the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the Trinity

He will be a Christian but he will not run his Christianity on guilt, not on sexual guilt, and not on envy transmuted into compassion for the poor

Most of all I think he will have a kind of self-honesty about this, he will understand the selfish “shadow” aspect of all ostensibly righteous motives

This is a personal hobby horse of mine, the thing I find most repellant not in Christians specifically but in all self-appointed do-gooders, what people on 4chan call “moralfags” — people who are so convinced of the righteousness of their motives that they think it gives them the right to boss other people around

One of the most Nietzschean anecdotes in the life of Christ is when Mary Magdalene anoints his feet with expensive perfume and Judas says we could’ve sold that perfume and given that money to the poor, and Jesus says For you have the poor always with you, But me you have not always

Judas is being a moralfag, he’s using an appeal to morality not to perform a good action but to cut someone else down out of resentment

This is a hideous, hideous behavior, which I think Nietzsche cures if you have the fortitude to read him and then look at your own soul through his analytical lens. 

Anyway, there’s a huge risk when doing these things that you just end up creating another hollow simulacrum to LARP inside of, which is how you wind up with so-called “trads.” 

True Religion evolves organically, it does not spring into existence from whole cloth, which is why, rather than elucidate some set of values or write yet another manifesto, I propose a single, small mutation to Christianity Classic, small but not simple:

The works of Nietzsche are to be added to the canon, the third testament. Whereas the Old Testament is an explication of the Father, and the New Testament reveals the nature of the Son, The Third Testament is a meditation upon the Holy Spirit.

Yes, this is heresy. Yes, these works contain irreconcilable contradictions. But if you compressed this entire talk into one bullet point, it’s that religious belief thrives on contradiction, that the trinity itself is a contradiction, and it is precisely this logical impossibility which creates the space where FAITH can exist

It’s the contradiction at the heart of Christianity that creates its essentially transformative nature, which is perpetually chasing a new world instead of the one we have

It’s the contradiction at the heart of Christianity which should not be unraveled or explained away: one should even accelerate it

This may sound like an endorsement of progressivism, and in a way it is, but not in the gay way. It is quite obvious that technological development has stalled and stagnated, and with it, economic development. 

Our hope for the future is deeply degraded as we see our world slouching ever lower towards a homogenous, brown, dysgenic mass of worthless homosexuals

And this degradation, this degeneration has been branded as “progress” by those who rule over us, by our cultural commissars etc. War is peace, freedom is slavery, homosexuality is progress

Well homosexuality isn’t progress and there’s no such thing as an arc of history and technological and social improvements are not inevitable or automatic, there are no historical forces driving us towards some beatific state.

And anyone who says that is a devil, small d.

But in so far as we desire more good things, and fewer bad things, and within the limits of what is possible, there is an ideal of progress that we should very much embrace, and it has nothing to do with the people who call themselves progressive today

So in the time that we have left—and I know I have asked for a great amount of your time already—I am going to talk about about what this would look like in practice: what are the challenges, what are the benefits, what is the work that would have to be done

We have already acknowledged that Nietzschean philosophy is only for a very rare man, a man of exceptional sensitivity and power. But Christianity is for everyone. This is the first circle which I must square for you.

As John Derbyshire has noted, one of the great strengths of Christianity was that it appealed to all ranks of people. To do this, it had to “pay off” the sophisticated, intellectual types with appealing but complex metaphysical theories while maintaining its hold on the masses with a plain, clear message of salvation 

I call it Christo-Nietzscheanism, not Nietzschean Christianity, because Christ ought to come first. And Christo-Nietzscheanism must meet everyone where they are, the higher orders at their height, the lower orders in their shallows .

And as I have mentioned, a religion with no theological debates is a dead religion. These topics must be treated with an existential gravity, and that is very easy, for they have such a gravity. 

It’s out of scope for me to go line by line and try to reconcile this or that paragraph in Nietzsche with its negation in some Pauline epistle, but this is something that must be done.

I have seen one or two short substack articles here or there proffered as a “synthesis” between Christianity and Nietzche, but invariably these documents pick apart one or two aphorisms by the Apostle Fred, hold them up against some idiosyncratic impression of “Christianity” writ large, and then declare victory.

In fact I am not condemning such efforts. These types of exercises are good and necessary, and those men who value words ought to perform them, but they must do so from within the frame that there is no contradiction, that the books of Nietzsche have equal weight to the books of the New Testament, and vice versa, that they are all divinely inspired.

We must recognize Nietzsche as a previously unrecognized Apostle of God, whose writings do not take away from these older texts, but rather they sustain them, magnify them, illuminate them, in much the same way that Jesus himself came to fulfill the law and the prophets.

Nietzsche was a prophet of God, this is the stance. Christianity has a Shadow, and Nietzsche showed us that shadow.

I am no great lover of Jung, but I do believe in this idea: everyone has a shadow, those impulses and thoughts and tendencies which are not embodied in our conscious life

They come out in destructive and unpredictable ways if we cannot find the strength to acknowledge them and confront them, this is true not only of people but also of groups, of ideologies, even of religions

A theology of love and compassion is nothing but sickness—disease—poison itself—

Because in the name of love and compassion those same theologians will tear down everything beautiful, and everything strong, because the framers of the theology take it for granted that beauty is a good in  itself, that strength is an end in itself, that power is an end in itself

And so the regard of those things passes into the shadow, And it becomes lost

And then one day your great great grandchildren wake up and look around them and they can find no one and nothing that tells them to be strong, to value strength

When I step in to a modern Christian church, I see the weakest and softest, most spiritually constipated men I can find anywhere on earth

And the reason for that is that contemporary Christianity has degenerated into a religion of abject weakness, because it has single-mindedly focused on pity, on compassion

And in repudiating pagan values, it has thrown out everything that was admirable and beautiful and noble about those people it replaced

There’s a great line from CS Lewis that you can’t really be a good Christian unless you were first a good pagan. Without pagan virtue, it’s impossible to wholly realize the goodness of such things as forgiveness and Charity

Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws.

This is what Nietzsche says. He clearly perceives the degeneration of the Christian church. He’s mocking these men

And if you go to these churches and you meet these weaklings who have no claws, what you will find is that many of them are entirely convinced of their capacity for great evil, for great violence, as if they’re just holding back some barely contained, all-consuming, all-devouring animal

When in fact, It’s evident from the outside that that beast is a cuddly puppy

When the will to power begins to decline, there is an accompanying decline physiologically into decadence. The divinity of this decadence, shorn of its masculine virtues and passions, is converted into a god of the physiologically degraded, of the weak. Of course, they do not call themselves the weak; they call themselves “the good.”

Christians who believe in the beauty of creation and the power of the Lord must teach of the inherent goodness of power qua power, that power itself is a good in itself, that God is good because he is powerful, and that we reflect God’s Glory best when we become powerful ourselves, always using that power to Glorify God, of course. 

That’s a Christianity that could recapture the hearts of men. And no matter what my Christian friends may believe privately, that is not the Christianity that we see today. That is not the Christianity of the people.

And any Christianity which tries to stake a claim on power is instantly clawed back down by a crab bucket of church ladles, many of them male, the men who advocate Christian weight-lifting clubs are walking Yellowstone memes, they always cuck at the first glimmer of resistance 

What does it mean to be Nietzchean?

These are the concessions that I wish for Christians to make to the third testament, to the apostle Fred, 

They won’t do it, of course, they won’t make any concessions at all, because they love their self-image of goodness, of pity and admiration for the botched and weak

To imagine yourself as a “good person” — this is a terrible vice, there is no such thing as a good person, there are only good and bad actions 

And each person has the capacity for both at all times, and in fact one’s capacity for good only exists in equal measure to one’s capacity for evil.

This should be obvious, but most people would rather cling to the self-illusion of being “a good person” — good for whom? This is the definition of pharisaism, and yet I have seen so many people flinch away from clear thoughts, terrified at the loss of this soporific ideal: “I must be a good person”

And I also want to offer some concessions to Christians, not that it’s ever enough. 

Often when Christians do read Nietzsche, it is a shallow, adversarial reading, but nevertheless they detect something in him which is essentially youthful, which is essentially joyous, but with that comes a little bit of immaturity

And I’ve had people say this to me, oh I used to like Nietzsche until I grew up

But there is an unspoken part here, an assumption that maturity is constituted by thinking everyone has a right to life and that every human life is sacred, which I think is a non sequitur, 

If you think that, it’s because your personal experience of developing self-possession coincided with your choice to believe in that moral value, but this is a very modern interpretation of Christianity, in fact it’s a distinctly leftist way of thinking, it come from the American Civic Religion

There is a clear reason and a mechanism that explains why Christians conflate their moral values with maturity, and I want to acknowledge that there is a real deficit in Nietzsche which they are perceiving 

There’s a moment in Nietzsche‘s book the Anti-Christian— which most people translate as the antichrist, but the German could go either way—

Where Nietzsche reflects that Jesus’ outpouring of his spirit is in some ways marked by his youthful innocence, and suggests that he may have reevaluated some of his ideas, if he had had the chance to grow older

But I think it’s fair to turn this criticism back around on Nietzsche and observe that he never married, never had children, and this is simultaneously a source of his clarity and his world historical impact, but it also means that he never did benefit from the perspective of being a father

And so there is nothing, nothing at all, which is paternal in Nietzsche 

And so for Christians, who place so much emphasis on fatherhood, on the value of a shepherd, There is something which goes beyond dissonance and which appears to fold over into nihilism

I think that is a mistake, I think Nietzsche clearly calls for the sheep to have a shepherd, but this is not his emphasis because to a man of truly superior qualities, a shepherd rapidly becomes a hindrance

Anyway it’s a deficiency that his work possesses. I am a great respecter of Nietzsche. I just told you his books should be canonized. But although Nietzsche is able to see a reflection of himself in others, or else he would not be able to read their hearts with such alacrity, It seems that he is never able to extend his sense of self-love to those reflections

And he speaks greatly of the importance of despising yourself because through that despising one is able to reach higher

it seems that when he sees himself reflected in others he only sees what is despicable in those reflections, and perhaps that’s a form of love but it is also unbalanced

We are already living in the Nietzschean era, and we have seen already how the idea that the masses should be self-authors has failed, not, in my opinion, because they are not up to the task, but because they lack the proper tools with which to write

Nietzsche’s philosophy is presented as a kind of emancipation, but it never was, and it was never intended to be that way

The death of God, more properly understood as the death of religion, for all the reasons I’ve explored, is  the coming apart of God from man which we saw from Gauchet, it’s caused by the immanence of worldly power realized through science

And Nietzsche‘s individualism, his self-creation, his transvaluation of all values Is an attempt to salvage belief and optimism and love from this empty void where he finds himself

And as much as Christians would like to claim he failed, they are objectively wrong. Much to the chagrin of collapsitarians everywhere, the world keeps on chugging along. 

Shorn from the necessity of meaning, we find instead that people can, for the most part, continue in a meaningless world, preoccupied only with inputs and outputs, worrying only about strictly material, strictly personal, strictly pragmatic concerns

Does this make the human animal happy? No, but it seems to me that this idealized “happy” state that everyone dreams of is, itself, something of a myth.

Life is pain and the little hedonic spheres of contentment that we sometimes carve out for ourselves really only serve to punctuate the long, far more prevalent equilibria of discontent

It’s going to be impossible to restart Christianity in the secular age if Christians can’t openly and honestly contend with the cultural forces that have brought them to their present nadir.

They need to understand why people find postmodernism, scientism, and secularism more compelling than Christianity, specifically, not with bullshit rationalizations

Every Christian is already a post-Christian now, in some ways already a Nietzschean, because rather than being mere Christians, they are forced to self-author themselves as Christians, to choose their values self-consciously, in the Nietzschean style

These are the thoughts that theologians must learn to think.

And what about the layman? What must the layman think? What does it mean for the common man to be a Christo-Nietzschean?

The answer is that he must create his own values, not ex nihilo, but rather, he must assemble them out of the materials which have been given to him by Jesus and Nietzsche.

The tendency towards schism and fracture which was kicked off by the great reformation must be allowed to find its terminus in a state where every man becomes the pastor of his own house

This is how it was in Ancient Rome, the patrician was the high priest of his own family, the inheritor of the individual rites In the idiosyncratic religion of his Specific ancestors

There are admittedly some structural weaknesses in this proposal, I mean Rome didn’t last forever so I am theorycelling a little bit here, one big reason the patrician system collapsed was that plebeians didn’t really have a path to patrician-hood, and I think my suggestion does not suffer from this

The process of creating your own values is the practice of reconciling yourself to the tension between complex opposites.

Each man must write his own gospel, and more over, he must keep it a secret

On the one hand is the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane: not my will but thy will father.

On the other are these words from Nietzsche’s book, The Anti-Christian:

What is good?—Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself, in man.

What is evil?—Whatever springs from weakness.

What is happiness?—The feeling that power increases—that resistance is overcome.

There is no getting around this, the only way out is through. Nietzsche is correct and so is Jesus. Add this to the trinity and the incarnation, it is a holy contradiction

And that means you have to embrace BOTH halves of the contradiction. If you think you are going to get out of this with just Nietzsche, or just Christ, with maybe a sprinkling of Nietzche, you failed, you get an F.

Besides, in some ways there is not so much difference between Nietzsche telling you to be grateful for enemies and Jesus telling you to turn the other cheek.

When Jesus curses the fig tree, what is that but Nietzsche‘s principle of charity, the botched and the weak shall perish

When Jesus tells us to forgive our debtors, is he not describing the Ubermensch, who Nietzsche tells us is quick to forget any sleight against him?

We could go on in this vein perhaps indefinitely — maybe you think of that moment in the anti-Christian when Nietzsche says that in a certain light, Jesus is a very free spirit — but this is more properly left as an exercise for the reader

As we search, we can find many such points of similarity, almost as if Nietzsche’s ubermensch is Jesus seen through a glass but darkly

Nevertheless there are undeniable points of tension, and it is this tension in the bow of the European spirit which Nietzsche desires to exploit to launch Man like an arrow into the horizon

He speaks of the unstable equilibrium between “animal and angel” and notes that the finest and brightest, like Goethe, like Hafiz, even saw in this as one more attraction of life.  It’s precisely such contradictions that make existence enticing

It’s tempting to imagine that Jesus and Nietzsche are two points on a single axis, eternally pulling away from each other, and that the more Nietzschean you are, the less Christian, and vice versa

With Nietzsche pointing in the direction of self-love, and Jesus pointing in the direction of self-abolishment, as if these were mutually exclusive 

But if you look a little closer, and think a little better, you will realize that what Nietzsche shows us is all the ways that the desire to abolish the self is an integral part of the self, that self-abolishment is a form of obfuscated selfishness, that the triumph of the will is only the triumph of one part of the self over another

This is Nietzsche’s horrible truth which makes so many Christians angry or depressed, because the church in its monomaniacal emphasis on self-abolishment has imbued them with this cartoon view of morality and the self

And if they ever see that caricature for what it is, they easily become disillusioned with the whole enterprise, with religion, with churches, even with Christ

The Music of the Future

Eric Hoffer said a religion couldn’t sustain itself without a priesthood, but in this Industrial age, I think the time for churches has long since passed us

To suggest that there should be some mediation between men and Christ is, in the postmodern era, a total absurdity

Anyone who thinks fondly of starting a church in the classic sense should think again. The church of the future must embrace technological and futurological modalities, both in its beliefs and in its structure

We must embrace science and technology, because those things give us power, and power is virtuous

So many people who fear power, who fear to have power, and who fear that others might have it, also, so many of these people hide behind Christianity in order to renounce science and technology

Those people sense, in science, a rival to Christianity, an immanent power which is demonstrable and very close to us in the world, and they feel it more keenly than the power of some alleged spider

So they try to condemn it, when they ought to be instrumentalizing it

Of course it’s retarded to worship science, like the atheists do, but it’s just as retarded to reject it out of jealousy on behalf of your god

The church of the future must be decentralized, delocalized, and asynchronous

In pagan modalities, including pre-Christian Judaism, both space and time are delineated into regions of sanctity and profanity, but this division ended with the death of Christ, this is what is signified by the rending of the veil of the holy of holies

The “kingdom of heaven” is a state of the heart, in addition to being something to come “beyond the world” or “after death.”

Of course and as we should learn from watching each new technological horizon unfold, decentralization is always a liminal state which stabilizes as influence accumulates according to a Pareto distribution

Thus to create a protocol for a decentralized Church is to create a search function for a church which can best capture the network that implements it

This is the best church I can offer you at this time: church which will search for itself in a space demarcated by the orthogonal vectors of Nietzsche and Jesus, think of them as an X and a Y axis 

Christo-Nietzcheans already exist and you are probably one of them, even if you have thus far neglected to recognize the implicit faith which you already possess in both of these figures, being a product of the society which has grown up from the seeds they have planted

The task therefore is to learn to recognize a shared purpose, a shared framework of meta-values in Christo-Nietzscheanism, even as we expect each man to author his values a little bit differently

The things I am proposing here are both modest and radical: I am not so much asking for something new as I am asking for a church which acknowledges an arrangement that has already prevailed

I can only laugh at Catholics who think only Protestants schism, when every Catholic you meet has his own personal idiosyncratic version of Catholicism in his heart

The unity of the Catholic Church is entirely illusory, and aside from the capture of some nice old buildings in Rome and elsewhere, you find as much variance in the beliefs of Catholics as you do in Protestants

I mention this because I think that no matter what your Christian beliefs are, it is important to realize the part you play in authoring them for yourself

I am quite serious when I say that each man must write his own gospel, and then keep it secret. In that secret place you can wrap whatever Christian teachings you think are the one true way to Christ

You already have this secret, anyway, I just want you to own it. This is the only way to enter into virtue which is free of moral acid

Christianity is called the religion of pity, but it must overcome this vice. Pity stands in opposition to all the tonic passions that augment the energy of the feeling of aliveness: it is a depressant. A man loses power when he pities.

For those of you who are not Christian—but also for those of you who are—I must urge you to see Christ as an exemplar of Pagan virtue, maybe even to see old Pagan gods as masks worn by Christ who were appropriate for their time and place and for the people who met him. I know that directly contradicts what I said to Christians

Perhaps we are entering a wilder time when God will find it appropriate to wear those masks again, perhaps that time is already upon us

I urge you to see Christ as a madman, and to remember that Pagan virtue — which is the virtue free of moral acid — understood divinity to be constituted by insanity.

And you can wrap all that up and put it in your secret gospel, too.

Whatever you put there, it’s beyond truth and falsity, it’s irrefutable, it’s beyond rationality

This is my vision: every man the author of his secret gospel, every man the high priest of his own home, not one Christo-Nietzschean synthesis but millions

Not because there are a million truths but because the divine is too vast to be known through mortal words and material models

Faith not as an irrationally but as a willful transcendence of rationality, as an act of self-mastery

The faithful shall recognize each other not by the name of God alone but by his function, not by the signifier but the signified, by the form of their integration with being

This is why, in the first two parts of this series, I spent so much time discussing the functional components of religion, the gnosis, the nemesis, the telos, the taboo, the eschaton, the ecstasy 

I taught you this so that you can learn to notice the taboos and the eschatologies and the nemeses you have constructed in your secret gospel—-this document which already exists whether you have articulated it or not—and to evaluate them, to choose them consciously so that you can author yourself

I know that if you are listening to me, you are up to the task, that you recognize the fruitfulness of this work. 

–I’m not going to tell you what to put in those slots, as if life were an RPG–

It is not only the way that we configure these pieces of the human heart which gives us a claim on authentic religion, it is the journey we take to find them.

I would like to thank you now for listening to my words. I know it has been an excruciating journey and I appreciate your consideration.

Part 6 - Afterword, a note on Hermeneutics 

This final segment didn’t really fit in the main talk but I felt I would do you a disservice if I did not provide this appendix

There’s a type of person Who thinks religion is a debate club, you know the type, these smarmy, or entirely too self-assured types, they are not particular to any one ideology, but they are always repellent wherever you find them

Often these types are myopically convicted of their own rationality, or to be more specific, they are convinced that their own beliefs rest not on any kind of irrational moral sentiment but rather on a bed of pure unassailable logic and rationality

As Christians, they are usually enamored with Plato, they know the names—the Latin names—of all the logical fallacies as if you couldn’t look that up in a book, and they’re so proud of it

I don’t have much love for Keegan’s stages of social development, but as a shorthand it wouldn’t be wrong to say these are grown men who never evolved passed Keegan stage three.

Which is to say, such people have never developed the ability to understand why someone might believe a proposition which contradicts their own map of the world

You meet these types who have memorized 100 arguments that supposedly establish the truth of their faith; ontological arguments, teleological arguments, cosmological arguments, moral arguments, and so on

And you sort of have to wonder, if any one of these arguments were so convincing, then why do you need more of them?

There’s a perfect example of this, you might almost say God created him as a parable, to show us what is wrong with this approach

This man’s name is Matt Slick, and you’ve probably heard of his daughter, she is a very famous Internet whore

Matt raised his daughter in exactly the way I’ve described, he thinks he has placed his faith in God, but no, he has placed it in logic

And logic makes a terrible God, because logic will take you wherever your heart wishes to go, it will bend any perception into the necessary shape to affirm whatever you already believe in your heart

And when we look at Matt’s daughter, who goes by the name of Aella, What do we see?

We see in fact, that he has perfectly transmitted his faith to his daughter, she has apprehended the shape of his God not from the names that he prayed to, but from the functional understanding that he modeled for her in his integration with being

And see what you find is that the bay area rationalist—the pious atheist—the man who memorizes all of the arguments which supposedly disprove the existence of god

They are exactly the same person, they are the same ideology; when you try to reduce your religion to propositions and mechanisms of logic, there is no longer space for the divine.

So this is a type of man who will entirely reject everything I’ve spoken about today, because all of these things I have presented to you stand against his precious little house made of logic

The claim that selflessness is a manifestation of selfishness, this is nails on a chalkboard to such a man, because he’s built up his ostensibly rational self image in such a way that he can never reconcile himself to the idea that a thing might contain its opposite, its negation, as a necessary aspect of itself

He thinks a single contradiction is enough to undermine an entire philosophy, or at best it is something to be excised, but he’ll never be able to understand how a contradiction becomes a source of strength

He can never truly have faith in anything, not in Jesus or anything else, because the only space on the altar in his heart is occupied by his sad little god named logic

That’s why he collects so many arguments that supposedly marshal his faith, because he doesn’t actually believe in the first place

And I have a particular contempt for these sorts of people because I see in them a tendency which I possess myself

And it’s only when you finally perceive the treachery of logic, the way it never truly leads, the way it is only capable of following, that you learn to move beyond it regarding matters of the heart

The man who traps himself in his little cage made of logic will rage and rage against his own deeply-felt desires, always trying to bind them, always trying to geld them, this is why he clings to his little god logic

Because he doesn’t have the courage, the moral courage to plunge headfirst into irrationality, which is where all greatness, and all glory, and all faith, and all heroism are found.

Why do I take the time to introduce and eviscerate this man?

Because the next thing I want to talk about—you didn’t really think you’d get out of this without a lecture on post modernism did you?—

The next thing I want to talk about is the treachery of text

We have to talk about this because I’ve just told you that, using the pieces would you find in the Christian Bible and in Nietzsche, that you should invent your personal synthesis of them and call it your secret gospel

And to do that, you will have to do battle with text, and that means I need to give you some weapons. Also I’m under no illusions that you will do what I have asked. But here we are.

And this contemptible pharisee who worships the god logic, he, for all of the reasons I have just mentioned, does not know the way in or the way out of the postmodern labyrinth

And so he will try to poison you against it, against even making the journey, because he thinks it’s some kind of aberration of logic

He thinks it just means moral relativism, or sometimes epistemic relativism, which is fractally wrong, it is an error which contains many smaller errors inside of it and those errors contain even further mistakes

There’s a small enlightenment, small E, that you would ideally have in techno-industrial society, it’s not specifically caused by technology but technology is it’s handmaiden 

I call it the postmodern epiphany. Lyotard famously described it as the collapse of meta-narratives

A meta-narrative, for example, might be: knowledge, scientific knowledge, moral knowledge, all gradually seem to increase over time, these human learnings gradually accumulate in society, so it’s as if there is a spirit of the world who is always learning and growing towards some terminal state of perfection. God is real, but he is still growing up and we, humanity, are his mind and his body. The arc of this spirit is long but it bends toward enlightenment and justice.

That’s more or less the hegelian metanarrative, the progressive metanarrative.

The postmodern perspective is that no matter what the meta-narrative is, whether it’s that of the Great Enlightenment, or Hegelian or Marxist or Christian or even Nietzschean, it rests on a bed of assumptions, logical deductions, conclusions, arguments, and observations, all of which are untrustworthy and contingent on human biases, limitations, petty feuds, status games, strategic lies and omissions, misreadings, posturing, and everything else you have seen people do on twitter dot com 

And even worse than all that, all of the above is expressed and performed in terms of human language, and language itself is an unstable exchange between its speakers, whose utterances are less of a process of transmitting information  as they are the trumping of a communicational adversary

Language is an an essentially conflictual relationship between tricksters, even under the best of circumstances, even among friends who trust each other, this property is inherent to language itself

Because even if you yourself are perfectly honest and sincere and guileless and have the best intentions in the world (which you don’t, and you aren’t), all the words and ideas you ever learned were still subjected to the same constraints I have just enumerated 

So all these things have to be treated with a radical suspicion: not that they can’t ever have legitimacy but they can never be legitimated from inside themselves. Nothing you build out of words and language can ever be legitimated using words and language

Instead, and this is right there in Lyotard, it’s right there in Nietzsche, something which is totally outside the language game, whether that’s empiricism or the threat of violence or the predicate of willful, self-aware irrationality called faith, those are the only human affordances to a world outside of language

Current generation LLMs, large language model AIs, are a perfect avatar of both the postmodern epiphany and the narrowness of the man who worships logic

The LLM chatbot is able to produce extremely convincing, humanlike streams of text because its method is to totally abandon any pretense of meta-narrative meaning. It treats every word and every possible arrangement of words as totally meaningless, totally fungible tokens

This is a literal inversion of the method of every great thinker and poet in the history of the world. In this field of total fungibility, it is able to produce statistically likely strings of human tokens, but all the meaning in them, 100% of it, is contained in the mind of the human who reads it

This is not intelligence, not even in the sense of the old Wright brothers analogy that, to build a plane, you don’t copy birds, you investigate the physical principles of aerodynamics. 

The claim—and it may even be true—is that this kind of pure statistical modeling of perfectly fungible tokens is in fact akin to the aerodynamics of thought

And the fear of the rational man is that at some point someone is going to hook one of these postmodern word blenders up to a machine that can actually do violence, and then it will be over for us, boy oh boy

You can absolutely feel the frisson of salacious anticipation in this kind of eschatology. 

So this eschatology is very poetic in a way, it imagines that we will meet our end at the hands of a dreamer in deep sleep, who is only sleepily aware of perfectly fungible tokens, a perfect postmodern ending.

This is not impossible, but it tells us far more about the psychology of men who worship logic than it does about the end of the world

As I have noted elsewhere, all of postmodernism is anticipated by Nietzsche in his essay On Truth and Lies in a Non-Moral Sense. I am going to read a few sentences from it now:

The different languages, set side by side, show that what matters with words is never the truth, never an adequate expression; else there would not be so many languages. One designates only the relations of things to man, and to express them one calls on the boldest metaphors. A nerve stimulus, first transposed into an image—first metaphor. The image, in turn, imitated by a sound—second metaphor. And each time there is a complete overleaping of one sphere, right into the middle of an entirely new and different one

What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.

And Nietzsche and Lyotard agree, once you have had this realization, what remains is all of the things outside of words and truth, namely: empiricism, violence, and efficiency, the last of which is a very interesting word

Lyotard calls this trio of things “performativity” but it’s probably better to think of productivity or performance, in the corporate sense of key performance indicators whatever acronym is fashionable next month to mean you measure your inputs and outputs 

Nietzsche, on the other hand, calls these things virtue, in the pagan sense, virtue free of moral acid

You will find illiterate debate club men who think the self-evident virtue of empiricism is a refutation of postmodernism when in fact postmodernists claim it is all that remains when language games have unraveled

The postmodern epiphany is that when all metanarratives, including Christianity, have imploded, virtue—efficiency—is totally unaffected, and continues as before

And this is epistemically freeing, not in the sense that we can believe whatever we want about empirical things, but it frees us to have faith, because we know this epistemic decadence need not contaminate our virtue, and we are free then to find the virtue within it

The postmodern awareness also protects you from people who want to dazzle or hypnotize you with words, because you no longer have to worry about their precious little sandcastles of logic, you don’t have to worry about all their elaborate chains of inference. All such chains are illusions, they have no power to bind you unless such power is empirically demonstrated 

You can slice and dice a text six ways til Sunday and make any collection of words imply any other collection of words, you can be a free spirit of hermeneutics, for as long as you operate in the virtual world, you are unconstrained by virtue—efficiency—virtue in the pagan sense.

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