Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ragnarök: Sodom and Syndrome of the Collapse of Civilization

In thinking of the perennial appeal to youth for a government powerful enough to free us from the consequences of our actions, from natural authority, from societal restrictions... the way it plays on the adolescent feelings of rebellion against parental authority.

John the Baptist was a prophet whose mission was to inspire contrition in a hard-hearted nation. specifically, "to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,” which alludes  to a prophecy from Malachi that in order to prevent a curse from plaguing the country, someone would "restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers."   A disconnect between fathers and children make way for chaos.

Christianity is not the only tradition that links the erosion of natural family bonds to social ruin.  Norse myth describes Ragnarök in this way:
Brothers will fight
and kill each other,
sisters' children
will defile kinship.
It is harsh in the world,
whoredom rife
—an axe age, a sword age
—shields are riven—
a wind age, a wolf age—
before the world goes headlong.
No man will have
mercy on another. [Wiki
Social collapse, erosion of social norms and familial affection, brutality, an economic collapse (an era of vulnerability to wind and wolf).

Various attempts by New Testament authors to describe a similar breakdown in the final days.
Remember that the end times will be perilous. There will arise people who value themselves over all others, value money over all else, lacking humility and full of hubris, abusive and malicious, rejecting parental authority, ungrateful, sacrilegious and profane, loveless and unforgiving, slanderous and immoderate, admiring force and brutality, haters of those who are good, full of betrayal, impulsive, conceited, worshiping pleasure, having a facade of morality without the Spirit that empowers virtue.  Avoid these people.  Out of this group come the creeps that worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, manipulating them into all sorts of self-serving gratifications until they are burdened with sin. Caught in this enchantment, people amass all kinds of knowledge while living in denial of truth.  The reprobates will stand against truth assuredly as Egypt's necromancers withstood Moses,  entertaining depravity in their minds and living in exile from truth.  But they will only do so much harm before the errors of their ways be exposed. [2 Timothy 3]
And also the infamous passage (outlawed in Sweden) deemed hate speech per the New Normal:
From Heaven the judgment of God is made manifest against all manner of perversion and wrongdoing, because that which can be known of God's will is still accessible to everyone, as it has been made evident throughout creation, so that a lack of divine revelation is not an excuse.  For in spite of the truth they had, people turned away from respect and gratitude to the Creator in preference of idle speculations, dimming the lights in their follied hearts.  Claiming these speculations made them wise, they made fools of themselves, and grounded their truth in the material things, basing their idea of perfection on the corrupted natural world (and basing human morality on animal nature) rather that the One that authored it for a purpose.  And so God let them pursue the folly of their desires to its consequence, to the dishonoring of their bodies.  They preferred a delusion to truth, and preferred the creature to the Creator . . . So God left them to the degradation of their passions, so that women's desires were out of accord with the natural function of their bodies, and the men as well, burning in their desire for other men and receiving in their own persons the natural consequence of their error.   And even as this folly led them to deny the role of the Creator more and more, they were given over to a mindset of general depravity, becoming more envious, greedy, deceptive, lacking in understanding, slanderous, contentious, insolent, antitheistic, rejecting parental authority, imaginatively wicked, arrogant, etc.  And even knowing that with the greatest disapprobations in the Torah against these errors, they not only embrace them but applaud those who embody them. [Romans 1]
What a curious syndrome description for a disorder of man's perceived relation to the natural world.  Is there a philosophy (or Weltanschauung) that favors the speculative over the real, is known for its intellectual hubris, preaches envy as economics, is a natural hotbed for antitheism, encourages adolescent narcissism, entertains notions of humans equality to animals while inconsistently defining humans as socially constructed creatures, justifies human behavior based on what is in the animal world, and believes that in order to tolerate an alternative lifestyle you must promote it and celebrate it?

These tendencies have obviously been around for a long time.

Of course, you can't bring any of this up without Sodom and Gomorrah somehow coming into the discussion.  It is a sensitive subject because when it comes up it is often touted as a case of divine judgment upon homosexuality.  But in the account it is only said that the city is in trouble because of complaints raised against it.  There was an "outcry" against these towns.  The truth is that for all the warning it may intend to give us, the Genesis narrative doesn't tell us how these cities became as depraved as they did, or explain the particulars of the culture.

We have only two examples of the culture.  One is that the men of the city show up to give a prison welcome to Lot's guests.  ("No man will have mercy on another.")  It isn't clear whether Lot recognizes these guests as divine emissaries at this point or has simply been trying to protect strangers from certain atrocity.  The narrative up to the point where the guests show that they have divine power is very similar to the circumstances leading up to the Benjamite War (Judges 19), even the warning about spending the night in the town square. The main difference is that the Benjamites settle for a woman (when it was the Levite they really wanted) and the Sodomites would not.  The other tribes of Israel were so outraged by the Benjamites refusal to extradite the attackers that they decimated the tribe of Benjamin.

The second example of Sodomite culture is indirect.  Following the death of their fiances in Sodom, Lot's daughters rape him so that they will not be childless.  Shades of Ragnarök: "sisters' children will defile kinship . . . whoredom rife."

In a town where all the locals know to avoid the town square at night, you wonder what else challenged natural affection.  But Sodom and Gomorrah probably fell apart as their commercial success encouraged decadence, and then the decadence took on a force of its own.  But what philosophies prevailed in this Semitic town that the incest and rape are part of the culture?  What we are told in Genesis is that the God of Abraham has heard an outcry against the horrors of Sodom, presumably in the form of desperate prayers and curses against the townsfolk.

Paul the Apostle probably would have argued that the Sodomites' descent into madness started with presumptious speculations of not being beholden to any absolutes but redefining man's relationship to the divine world and to the natural world, redefining humanity itself.

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