Sunday of the Publican & Pharisee 2023

What to do when there’s nothing left to do – I

In both of the spiritual traditions in which I have immersed myself over the last decade – Buddhism and Orthodox Christianity – this spirit of necessary detachment, this sense that to tie yourself too closely to the churning affairs of the world is to invite destruction, is the precursor to the work. To a Buddhist, the ongoing effort to ‘detach’ yourself from created things is the only way to sidestep the first of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths: that ‘to live is to suffer.’ From an Orthodox perspective, to live after the Fall is also to suffer. The work of the Christian who wants to find the way home again is to ‘die to the world’: to rid himself of the ‘passions’ of worldly attachment as the essential prelude to walking the narrow path which leads to theosis: union with God.

The theologies of Zen, Orthodoxy, Mark Anthony and Robinson Jeffers differ wildly, and yet they alight, all of them, on this same reality. So does every other religious tradition I know of. To watch the great fall, to say goodbye to Alexandria, to accept that nothing gold can stay: this is the task of people who find themselves living through the falling years. It is the prelude to doing anything useful with our time. If we spend that time lamenting the fall, or trying to prevent it, or stewing in bitterness at those we believe responsible, we will find ourselves cast into darkness. If we ‘degrade ourselves with empty hopes’ of some form of technological or political salvation yet to come, the darkness will be just as deep.

No: the only way out is through. To dance with the way things are moving. To watch the great fall, accept its reality, and then get on with our work. What that work might be, in the age of the Total system, will differ for each one of us. Rebellion, restoration, protection, the building of new structures: I’m going to explore each of these in coming essays. But before anything can happen, we have first to get our inner house in order.

Paul Kingsnorth, Watch the Great Fall

What to do when there’s nothing left to do – II

The loss of Christendom gives us a joyous opportunity to reclaim the freedom to proclaim the gospel in a way in which we cannot when the main social task of the church is to serve as one among many helpful props for the state.

Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens


Hindus who used words such as religion, or secular, or Hinduism were not merely displaying their fluency in English. They were also adopting a new and alien perspective on their country and turning it to their advantage.

Tom Holland, Dominion

Science & Faith

Coincidentally, as I approached the end of Fr. Christopher C Knight’s Science and the Christian Faith: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Uncommon Knowledge podcast featured Michael Behe, John Lennox, and Steven Meyer arguing for Intelligent Design against Darwin.

It’s astonishing how differently Knight and the Intelligent Design proponents treat Darwin. Knight:

The question of how miracles are to be understood becomes a very different one than that usually assumed if we abandon the notions of the “supernatural” that are now prevalent in discussions about miracles … [M]iraculous events represent, not the “supernatural” action of of an outside agent, but an anticipation of the character of the “world to come.” The state that these events unveil is above nature only in the sense that it is above the subnatural state in which, because of the fall, we now find ourselves. Miracles represent the true nature of the world intended by God in his creation of it.

[O]ur scientific picture of evolution through natural selection arose originally from Charles Darwin’s observations of differences between closely related species and subspecies. It was later reinforced and refined, however, both by fossil evidence and by genetic insights quite unknown to Darwin himself. These genetic insights were themselves later underpinned by biochemical insights that arose through the work that followed the discovery of the structure of DNA, and by technical advances that now enable us to look in detail at the genetic makeup of all living things.

The robustness of the present scientific consensus means that those Christians who insist that their faith is incompatible with that consensus often present an enormous barrier to those who are scientifically literate but who might be willing to explore the Christian view of the world.

Though Darwin’s achievement was a magnificent one, it was only later, through the integration of genetic insights unknown to Darwin himself, that his evolutionary theory could be regarded as robust from a scientific perspective.

In contrast, the ID guys (who I can’t directly quote because it was a podcast, and I wasn’t interested enough to try to write down quotes) all spoke as if accumulating evidence against Darwin is growing more irrefutable every day.

I have no need of that hypothesis.


My attitude is that there is no AI. What is called AI is a mystification, behind which there is the reality of a new kind of social collaboration facilitated by computers. A new way to mash up our writing and art.

I frequently found myself trying to dissuade people from buying NFTs in 2022. They were often working folks without a lot of money to spare. When I would try to explain that only a very few, very early people made those fortunes you hear about, that by now there’s no one left to buy your NFT for more than you paid; when I said those things they looked back at me like cult members, eyes full of hope. Sure, people have been falling for get-rich-quick schemes forever, but this was something more. There was also religion. NFTs were a cross between a lottery and the prosperity gospel, which holds that wealth and godliness are the same thing. When I tried to save people from getting ripped off it was as if I was attacking their religion. They weren’t angry; they pitied me.

Jaron Lanier

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Tradition is a bulwark against the power of commerce and the dissolving acid of money, and by removing these, all revolutions in the modern period have ended up accelerating the commercial and technological shift towards the Machine.

Paul Kingsnorth

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