Christians Want Progress

Me Fourfold Root


From Groundhog Days – Intercourse on Time

By Melina Costello & David Arthur Walters

July 19, 2004



Madame Melina,


I am moved to progress with our time-consuming discourse on time although it might appear that we are saying the same thing over and over endlessly because that happens to be our fate. In that event, not enough has been said about the history of the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence. I’m sure thou wilt not blame me for repeating myself.

The doctrine appertaining to the endless and exact repetition of life-cycles was attributed to the Pythagoreans by Eudemas, a pupil of Aristotle. Eudemas, who usually paraphrased Aristotle, wrote a book on physics.

The learned community is uncertain whether or not the scientific faction of the Pythagorean brotherhood actually espoused the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence; perhaps the Doctrine was Aristotle’s notion. We do know that the brotherhood religiously adhered to and developed the Orphic doctrine of metempsychosis, i.e. the transmigration or the crossing over of souls into other bodies, although there is some doubt that Pythagoras himself taught metempsychosis.

The relationship of the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence — which is a rather amoral (some say immoral) doctrine because cycles of relatively good and evil are endlessly repeated — to Metempsychosis — which allows the moral individual who does his duty to escape from vicious cycles — is a matter of some intellectual interest. With that in mind, we quote Eudemas:

“If we are to believe the Pythagoreans,” said Eudemas, “I shall once more gossip among you with this little staff in my hands, and again as now will ye be standing before me, and likewise will it be with all the rest.”

Thus we have an expression of a universal law of identical cyclic successions or circular courses, a theory about what precedes all beginnings and follows all ends; that is, the same thing.

The Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence is similar to other hypotheses derived from the will to live and the wish to survive the obvious death of the body with its simultaneous disappearance of its spirit or breath. Death is similar to sleep, hence one might conjure up a permanent soul, and imagine that, although the dead body apparently does not arise, its soul, the principle of permanence behind apparent change, might awake somewhere else, unseen, in another sort of body, or perhaps in a replication of the body left behind.

Of course some ancient peoples believed that the same body would be resurrected, and even buried the body standing up, for its convenience upon resurrection. Of course modern adherents to the belief in resurrection of the body would not cremate the body. For the same reason, the Chinese ancients abhorred the mutilation or dismemberment of the body, wanting it resurrected whole – the eunuch carried his severed member in a box so he might be rejoined with it upon death.

Notwithstanding those who want the same body resurrected, a person who views the decay and dissolution of a corpse and observes the ebb and flow and transformation of other things on Earth, might be led to imagine that a soul survives the death of its housing, or, if you will, throws off its cloak and migrates from body to body, perhaps in a circular or spiral course, from form to form, until, if he so wishes, it is released from the wheel of birth. And many were those who entertained such a wish, and conceived of the body as the soul’s grave, from which it might escape: the pilgrim could by virtue of the right purification conduct including right faith atone for the original sin of his race and ascend from the hellish muck, to heaven, and join the gods for dinner.

Westerners know very well one old story about the tainting of human nature: Zeus and Persephone begat Zagreus-Dionysus. The Titans wanted to kill the child, so he turned into a bull and fled. The Titans caught up with him, killed and ate him. Athena however rescued his heart for Zeus, who swallowed it, then struck the Titans with a thunderbolt. Mankind arose from their ashes, part Dionysian (good) and part Titanic (evil). The objective of the moral or pure life is to purge the evil part and save the good. The poet Pindar informs us that, after humans die, some of the most distinguished among them are reincarnated after eight years, and become heroes – this assuages Persephone’s grief over the murder of her child. Pindar gives an alternative – a more democratic theory: worlds are places of reward and punishment; those persons who lead three good lives after this world are released from further births.

As for right conduct, the Pythagorean brothers, for example, eschewed beans and meat among other things, and asked themselves three questions before they went to sleep: In what have I failed today? What good have I done today? What did I do today that I should not have done?

But the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence does not allow the soul to inhabit a variety of forms during different life cycles; there is no progress or regress: the same cycle of life is lived over and over again. Welcome to Groundhog Day! Such an endless repetition is not very attractive to human beings who love progress and variety. If people have to live “the same damn life” over and over again, say some, then, may we thank the god of ignorance that we do not know we are stuck in a rut! On the other hand, say others, if that is all there is, an endlessly repeated life, the same is sufficient for anyone who truly loves life, no matter how happy or miserable it might be.

Christians especially demand an alternative to circularity; they want some sort of trajectory. Yes, said the spiritually inclined predecessors to Christianity, there might be a vicious wheel of existence, but the aspiring soul can break the law of cycles; fly off on a progressive tangent; progress to a favored X, or to infinity, or to death. Some of the great escapees might periodically return to save the rest of mankind from time to time, just as heavenly bodies return over immense tracts of time, say, at the end of a great year, a year that might be a century or a thousand centuries according to our world clock. Periodic correspondences between heaven and earth were posited by the astrologers: Conflagrations when the planets are in Cancer; floods when in Capricorn – fire at the summer solstice; water at the winter solstice. Perhaps all the cycles are subject to single, cosmic cycle. Perhaps, as the Stoics supposed, the universe, a sphere surrounded by an infinite void, is burned up by a central fire, then the whole cycle recurs again, exactly as it did before, again and again, ad infinitum.

The Stoics, who did not believe in the transmigration of souls, faced the world as conscientious stalwarts and stoically accepted the fatalistic Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence. A moral man conducts himself morally despite the external circumstances of the world; morality is a human thing originating not in distant stars but in the family, tribe and clan.

As for the amoral (or immoral) Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence, it was not necessarily inferred from astronomical observations of the boring revolution of spheres – life on earth also has it regularities. We should note, if we are to believe Eudemus, that the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence was held by the Pythagoreans, that Chaldean astrology had little known influence on Pythagorism. Theophrastus, fellow-pupil of Eudemus, expressed astonishment as the “sham-science” of Babylon.

We can be certain that Christian theology rejects the transmigration hypotheses. The idea that a man’s soul might take an animal form, say that of a pig or chicken, perhaps because the deceased ate ham sandwiches or chicken salads, is particularly repugnant to meat-eating Christians. They have also rejected the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence, for it postulates not moral progress but rather a simultaneous resurrection of innumerable souls in identical bodies at the death/birth of each one of them. Whatever exists is not good enough for the ascetic spiritualist; he must have something better, something good; and, in time, good requires a pre-existence evil. That is, Christians want personal salvation now if not moral progress on this Earth, that the soul may survive and not perish with the body.

Of course secular or evolutionary progress can be had by virtue of the extinction of individual lives for the progress of the species. Alcamaeon of Croton, the “father of physiology,” opined that man is godlike because he is always moving by virtue of a vital force or spring of life which at once puts both body and mind in constant, progressive motion towards the ultimate goal of individual life: death. Life is not cyclical, observed the ancient physiologist: “Men perish because they are unable to join their beginning to their end.”

Although Christianity rejects metempsychosis, Pythagoras himself was much admired. Ambrose, for instance, believed Pythagoras was a Jew and placed him as a great authority between Moses and Plato.

St. Augustine of Hippo held that cyclic repetition is incompatible with the Christian spirit. He rejected the recurring cycles mentioned by Aristotle, and insisted that creation and salvation are unique, unrepeatable events. Time started with the creation of the universe and is independent of the motion of its bodies hence is not derived from their movement. We might delve into absolute time or time without events elsewhere, since we cannot make much sense of it at the moment.

So it seems that Christians believe in progress, that although they have bemoaned existence on this bitter earth, they are optimistic about the better place funereal ministers speak of, a place where they hope they will wind up as long as they have faith.

Madame, the more I progress in my research on this timely subject, the more I believe history is a mistake, and the more I am gladdened that time moves in one direction, forward.

Your Faithful Groundhog

A Realistic Taste of Reality

Ship of Fools by Bosch
Portion of Ship of Fools by Bosch




From Groundhog Days – Intercourse on Time

By Melina Costello & David Arthur Walters

July 30, 2004



My Dearest Groundhog,

The Groundhog issue is too important to be held hostage to semantics. For instance, Nietzsche put forth that our realities are linguistic creations; that is, we reify through language. Appearances that we appropriate through naming eventually become essences and things. T. Beckman (1995) wrote:

“Nietzsche supposes that there is not much difference between realists and idealists, objectivists and subjectivists, except for linguistic habit. At bottom, all of these stem from origins in our passions, fantasies, and interests.”

Now that’s a sharp slap in the face of our rational underpinnings, or at least what we’ve psychologized of our rational underpinnings. Additionally, if we are to consider anything of Nietzsche’s meditations on the nature of what we call reality, time notwithstanding, then we must also wrap our minds around his denial that we have any organ with which to fix reality and thus are indefinitely subject to untruth. Argh! Furthermore, Beckman writes:

“To the Apollonian [sic] scientist this is unbearable; hence, art is what makes our situation bearable because art, being playful with appearance, gets around its untruth. This is probably the most important aphorism of [Nietzsche’s] Book II and it concludes everything that he has been developing about art.”

Is it not possible that McTaggart, in The Unreality of Time, simply was not being artful, that is, playful enough when asserting his logical contradiction between past, present, and future, and therefore could not escape the tar pit of his own untruths? Is not that the definition of a dunderhead?

And then there is Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence of the Same, which I fear we will not be able to circumvent in our Groundhog musings, so I expect to hear more from you on Nietzsche’s taste for Reality, if that is what it is.

Your Madame Melina

August 15, 2004

Ah, Madame Melina, Time is such a waste of time that I never thought you would ask for another helping, Thank you! Here we go with Nietzsche again.

Nietzsche, despite the disease, rejection and grinding poverty that he suffered over the years, at least verbally accepted nature as it is, and believed that any superior person would embrace life, no matter how good or evil the world appears to one who loves or hates their nature as the source of pleasure and pain.

Even if a miserable life had to be endlessly repeated, Nietzsche would embrace it. And that is at the bottom of his version of the ancient doctrine of eternal recurrence.

He must have known very well that, at least mathematically, the proposition that the cosmos endlessly repeats itself is virtually impossible if not absurd; for, the more complex the universe, the less chance there is of such a repetition, and the universe is almost infinitely complex. Nietzsche’s interest in the doctrine of eternal recurrence was moral. His doctrine was a heuristic or self-teaching device, and was not intended to be a theory of physics. He raised a hypothetical question: If a demon came down and demonstrated to you that, beyond a reasonable doubt, your life as well as everyone else’s would be repeated endlessly, would you rejoice? Or would you despair?

Those who love life would perhaps react joyously and be willing to repeat the cycle time and time again, good and bad; they would stick it out, through thick or thin, for better or worse.

On the other hand, those who deny life would despair. They would probably, in their denial, have resort to the ascetic morality which negates life, the morality that says, “Nothing is good enough, therefore we must have progress, not a cycle, we must be saved from this life, we must have either eternal death of the self, when the body perishes, or we must have an immortal soul that progresses to paradise and eternally perseveres there, providing, of course, that we have blind faith in the god of paradise who booted us from the original paradise because we sinned, and, accordingly deny ourselves in this world, which is ruled by the anti-god,” et cetera.

In the desire for eternal life, or permanent death in contrast to the temporal dynamic life, Nietzsche refers to the religion he despises most of all, Christianity, for which life does not endlessly repeat itself but flies off the earth in a tangent, so to speak, a life that progresses.

For Nietzsche, Christianity is a religion for losers, a pathetic religion, a religion of pity. Pity for him is a disease, and he would have none of it. He wanted to survive in this world, not the next.

The “truths” of Christianity, especially those derived from Plato’s Apollonian idolatry of eternal ideals, which Plato idolizes as real, and the craving for permanent supreme being, which Platonic philosophy identifies with Reality, in fact negate or destroy the actual truth, that of truly sacred life, the real, the dynamic, Dionysian life.

“Plato is boring,” pronounced Nietzsche in The Antichrist. “In reality my distrust of Plato is fundamental. I find him so very much astray from all the deepest instincts of the Hellenes, so steeped in moral prejudices, so pre-existently Christian—the concept ‘good’ is already the highest value with him—that rather than use any other expression I would prefer to designate the whole phenomenon Plato with the hard word, ‘superior bunkum,’ or, if you would like it better, ‘idealism.’

“Christianity has sided with everything weak, low and botched; it has made an ideal out of antagonism towards all the self-preservation instincts of strong of strong life: it has corrupted even the reason of the strongest intellects, by teaching that the highest values of intellectuality are sinful, misleading and full of temptation. The most lamentable example of this was the corruption of Pascal, who believed in the perversion of his reason through original sin, whereas it had only been perverted by Christianity.”

Nietzsche naturally contemned Kant’s moral philosophy, which did not depend on proof of god’s existence but on automatic duty to his Kant’s version of Christianity’s Golden Rule:

“What is there that destroys a man more speedily than to work, to think, feel as an automaton of ‘duty,’ without internal promptings, without a profound personal predilection, without joy? This is the recipe par excellence of decadence and even of idiocy…. Kant became an idiot.”

Nietzsche’s fictional Zarathustra is the epitome of opposition to Christianity, the counter-ideal to the ascetic ideal which amounts to denial of life and a demand for another, imaginary life, which is, for Nietzsche, really nothing, eternal nothingness or death, not temporal life, which is everything. His Superman transcends the ascetic ideal of denial. If life is hellish repetition, he will accept it. Yet he believes there can be a higher life, in this world, not in the next. The superior person reaches higher, but he does not at the same time dehumanize or condemn as sin his origin, the very ground he stands on. He does not destroy the old but presses himself into new forms, new values. His life, then, is an art.

In his 1848 lecture on Wagner, Nietzsche scribbled, “I believed that the world was created from the aesthetic standpoint, as a play, and that as a moral phenomenon it was a deception: on that account I came to the conclusion that the world was only to be justified as an aesthetic phenomenon.”

Havelock Ellis (Dance of Life), during the course of his sympathetic discourse on Gaultier’s philosophy of illusionism, Bovarysm, a philosophy Gaultier derived from a study of Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary, opined, “Our picture of the world, for good or evil, is an idealized picture, a fiction, a waking dream…. But when we idealize the world we begin by first idealizing ourselves.”

Gustave Flaubert, frustrated Romantic yet acclaimed pioneer of modern French realism in literature, personally felt that reality was “shit,” a disgusting thing he put in his mouth to fashion fiction. His family was well endowed, which allowed him to avoid the detested office work which his legal training might have lead, and to withdraw to his family cottage at Rouen and write novels. He was the literary idol of the art for art’s sake school of thought. Whatever art was, it was a way to avoid reality if one could get away with it. It could be easily justified by reversion to the ancient ascetic view that the real world is really an illusion. But this sort of artist would not be an either/or monk in a cell, but would live an aesthetic life in his studio. The aesthetic life has several advantages, one being that artists and those who appreciate art can enjoy things without actually possessing them, just by looking at and not owning them. Of course a starving artist would relish a study of a ham sandwich and bowl of fruit more than a bulging-belly investor or bourgeois patron of the arts.

Would the world not be more beautiful if more people withdrew from the mad competition for the actual possession of things and enjoyed artistic representations of those things at a distance? Better yet for the greedy world if the art was abstract. Such a better world would be a great market for artists to sell their wares. Others, not so inclined to be painters as such, could instead live artfully, could they not? As for the artists, they need not mix with the crowd and try to prove some version of the ‘truth.’ No, the artist should lay aside the ideological arguments, the attempt to make the truth, and simply take up a fragment of existence and reveal its truth. If artists would only focus on their art in solitude, they would pose no danger whatsoever to society, and their creations would greatly benefit a society that could then enjoy beholding things presented or represented rather than possessing the things in themselves.

Alas, as Ice-T screamed of Ozzie and Harriet, “The world is not like that!” Creativity is revolutionary. Arts of all sorts including literary art have a reputation for fomenting rebellion, “corrupting morals” and the like. Furthermore, we admit that reality sometimes tastes like shit, but so does artifice. There is something distasteful in the view that the world is just a stage upon which hypocrites (Gk. ‘actors’) play, that life is just a Machiavellian “game” of power plays.

“What is good?” asked Nietzsche. “All that enhances the feeling of power, the Will to Power, and power itself in man. What is bad? All that proceeds from weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is increasing, that resistance has been overcome.” Wherefore Nietzsche was much admired by the militant Prussian ‘realists’ to whom Germany’s economic prosperity tasted like shit.

Finally, Madame, and I believe you will agree with me, although there is some truth in it, there is something insincere in the perspective that the world, including our perception of time, is phony.

I am, as always,

Eternally Yours,

Mister Groundhog

Pseudo-Persian Epistle to Friend in Allah

Don_Quixote_de_la_Mancha 7
Don Quixote de la Mancha





My Dear Friend Only in Allah,

Thank you for responding.

First of all, I pray that neither you nor your brothers and sisters were unduly offended when I referred to you as a “knight,” a term that I associated with the honorable King Arthur and his noble knights although you appear to be an Anglo-Saxon and not a Celtic warrior. I know why the table was round, but they were still noble knights.

Many of the knights who joined the pre-emptive Crusade against Allah’s people, however, were much less noble than the Arabs. As a careful student of history, you must know that “arab” means “noble.” Although we Persians have our differences with our Arab brothers, we certainly intend no insult when we call them Arabs; that is, “nobles.” Although we ourselves are a humble people, we are proud of our heritage. Our heritage is the foundation of our personalities, which are all not merely biased but faithfully prejudiced in favor of All-Merciful-Allah.

Unlike infidels (may Allah have mercy on their souls) who believe they can take off their personalities like hats under the pretence of searching for the truth, we find our truth within the personal commune. The infidels would too, if only they took to heart the truth revealed by foremost modern Christian philosopher and pope, Karol Wojtyla, in THE ACTING PERSON, a work that I have lately been interpreting for my students.

Indeed, every Christian who sincerely believes that the Prophet Jesus was the son of god – we respectfully do not share that belief – and was and is the same as god but in the form of the Supreme Personality, would esteem the person even higher than we do, and would not pretend to set aside the very personal feelings and prejudices that make him a human being made in the image of his personal god.

Even in the common parlance of your English language, the term ‘person’ is synonymous with an acting human being. Sometimes it is difficult for a people to know themselves through their own eyes, therefore it is useful for other people’s to come to their assistance; in this case, to point out that, no matter how impersonal or objective or detached or scientific a Westerner may think he is, he is still personally motivated and prejudiced, otherwise he would be an inhuman monster.

And, more often than not, when he claims that he is going to set aside his personal biases and feelings in order to speak truly, as you have done in your letter to me, he is about to lie, and is trying to deceive people into thinking he will not conduct himself as usual, most often badly, which if he were honest, he might as well do, that he might be corrected when in error. For the highest Christian truth, what you enjoy capitalizing in English, as Truth, although all truths are one in Allah, is not only personal but is a Person. And this brings me to question that my students are curious about:

How can Christian Americans believe in the Supreme Person while at the same time thinking the person is some sort of dirty thing, a mask that must be set aside in order to tell the truth, which is in effect a lie?

I neglected to pose that question on their behalf in my first epistle to you. I hope you will take it under consideration now while allowing me to address you as a noble person, or “knight,” as it were. For I see that you have proven my thesis true: you have pretended to set aside your personal feelings and biases, but you could not conceal them, wherefore you launched a personal attack on your Muslim cousins.

I assume that, if you are not Semitic by birth, you are, nevertheless, Judeo-Christian by culture if not by faith. Therefore may the All-Compassionate Allah have mercy on your person for the cultivated animosity that you feel for his slaves; may you be forgiven for your defamation of their characters for being Muslims and for mercifully pointing out the hypocrisy of Jewish leaders for their own edification and for surrendering to Allah’s will and following the holy prophets.

Without Allah’s compassion, your groundless hatred of your own kind shall surely work your ruination shortly after Election Day of your Common Era year 2016. Now what have you done, within the context of the Judeo-Christian culture, other than further foment or perpetuate, with your angry accusations, the very preaching of hatred and commission of murder among us that you yourself condemn?

In fact, your speech resembles that of the more “rabid” (as you say) fanatics among our beloved people in Palestine, who are taught to hate their Zionist oppressors in schools. Their teachers fail to make a clear distinction between political Zionism and religious Judaism, a flaw that our Iranian schools are correcting under my direction.

Naturally your personal animosity is due to certain vicious defects in your personal upbringing as well as your public education, which is a political mockery of the meaning “under God” in the idolatrous pledge to a flag of a country instead of a confession of faith in Allah, conditioning all docile students in the confusion of religion with politics, and inciting them to mass murder and organized terrorism.

Naturally religion is the worship of the Absolute Power, while politics is an attempt at its worldly distribution. All peoples have worshipped the Absolute Power, the Eternal Subject of universal religion, the Giver of Life and Death. Fire was the symbol of that Power for my Persian ancestors, as well as for the ancient peoples of Bharat. (Mind you that I capitalize certain nouns as proper without intention of idolizing them).

The Pharaoh of Love looked at the ultimate form of Fire, the Sun, or rather to “the energy within the Sun,” for the solace of the Egyptian people. Our Arab brothers in the deserts preferred the Canopy to the Sun, so they looked to the vast Sky as the one and only, the encompassing deity.

Monotheism was the original religion in our great cradle of religion. But power-hungry politicians worked vainly to variously distribute Allah’s power according to their base, materialistic inclinations, and therefore the number of idols multiplied. Infidels believe that power resides in the ability to manipulate people and to accumulate wealth for their minority interests, and thus do we have the “power elite” that you have mentioned, and we have them even in so called republics and democracies – their abstract idol is money, on which they crave usurious interest.

And it is well worth noting that that both communism and capitalism idolize matter and constitute political instantiations of greed. Your own country, where many immigrants found some fortune relatively small and great because of the vast resources that the invading European barbarians plundered from its natives, is for the most part owned by a neo-barbarian superpower elite that colludes with the money-hungry power elites of its allied infidels to exploit the poor countries of their natural resources.

Your infidel leaders commit this crime against Allah’s desire for peace: that is why we call the barbarian party the Party of War; that is why Iran exports the means for freedom from the perpetual mass terrorism of the infidels.

Now you have mistakenly charged Muslims with the hatred of Jews, when it is actually the Party of War that has perpetrated the persecution of Jews, and has often done so in the name of the Judeo-Christian deity identified under the pagan rubric capitalized, ‘God.’

As a highly educated man, you must surely recall that German philosophers, before and during the Great World War, went so far as to take the Jew out of Jesus by claiming that this holy prophet was Greek, in order to justify their hatred for Jews and greed for their property. Indeed, as the hateful Satan perpetrated a holocaust, just as before the Jews and other Semites had sacrificed enemies (herem) by setting them apart and sacrificing them to their Lord, devout Catholics got on the political stage and gave the Nazi salute (my students have photos of these rallies).

In point of historical fact, Muslims have always treated Jews well in comparison to the barbaric Party of War, and had not the Muslims converted the hordes from the East to tolerant Islam, there would be no remnants of Judah today.

But allow me to return briefly to your confusion in respect to the nature of nations as the native or navel origin of tribe, clan, and folk, and from this origin to the development of diverse populations, via seed-mixing in the harlot cities, into conglomerations subservient to political states that in effect incorporated many nations yet called themselves “nations” – to wit, mongrels – and to your confusion of the political state of Israel with the Semitic tribes, and your mistaken belief that the Israelites or Hebrews before them were the only Semitic people.

You would discover if you took the political course I have laid out for my students, that there is only one god with many names, namely, Allah, and that the hatred you speak of is not the fault of religion but is rather the use of religion by the Party of War as a political excuse to set one individual against another in the name of godless liberty and democracy, to use their mutual fear of one another in their protesting irreligion to organize them into warring parties ruled by the power elite for the accumulation of material wealth via the destruction of the world. The love extolled by the infidel elite is hate-others based self-love. Such is the greed of the Great Satan.

I shall provide you with some scholarly edification on the subject later on, if you wish, but suffice it to say at this juncture that the Great Satan is doomed for his hatred of man. The Great Satan was cast down in the first place because his love for Allah was constituted by his hatred for man. It is this very hatred that is cultivated by the false prophets of Judeo-Christianity, who, on the one hand, profess love for and faith in God in the form of Divine Personality, the God-Man, yet, on the other hand, curl their lips in disdain at humanity and snarl at “humanism” like dogs.

We Muslims do not hate our own kind as infidels do. Allah alone is merciful; therefore, you are our friend only in Allah. No, my noble knight, we do not hate the Jews that you and your commander-in-chief have professed to love. But many of us hate Zionists, for they have forcefully, without a referendum, established an unwanted political state in Muslim country, where nations are anathema.

Your Friend Only In Allah,

Dajen Doomah

School Teacher

Postscript: Incidentally, contrary to your stated opinion, neither kings nor sheiks nor emirs rule Iran. Iran is a holy democratic republic. Lest politicians stray from Allah, we have a council and a supreme holy man to keep it them in line with merciful Allah’s will.

Enthusiasm – The Devil was in the Snot

Wolf on Theresa’s roof in Alaska




The major goal of enthusiasm in the public and private sectors today is growth in production and consumption. The progress has been phenomenal since the industrial revolution. An alien from a spiritually inclined planet would think humans had been fatally possessed by demons after observing our race to produce and consume ever more and our frantic effort to pave over most of the world while cluttering up the rest.

That is, “enthusiasm” is definitely restricted to interests leading to the purchase and possession of mass-produced goods and services. Many people are possessed by their possessions, as if some sorts of spirits resided therein. Yet the power elite denounce those who oppose such demonically inspired gross materialism as the bedeviled and accursed “forces of darkness,” or as mentally ill and in dire need of serotonin reuptake inhibition.

Spirituals disagree with the secular authority’s definition because genuine enthusiasm is about God and nothing less. After all, enthusiasm means “god-possessed,” and not greed-possessed or lust-possessed.

Anyone uneasy with the hyperactive and demented society of consumption may seek solace in one church or the other, hopefully to be possessed by peace if not by the Holy Spirit. Yet that retreat is no sanctuary to the lone wolf who knows that modern churches are contaminated and possessed by the apotheoses of the social disease in question. Wolves are, like humans, hierarchically organized, but they too have their anarchists, the lone wolves. The lone wolf knows his god can only be found in Natural Religion, in a forest under a banyan tree, or perhaps in a desert cave, or at least in an unregulated monastery.

Organized religion does not provide the viable alternative that the lone wolf, who seeks peace in the “solitary death,” unconsciously craves. He knows his freedom is not in a monastery where obedience to church authority is the divine rule. No, he longs for the cave from which he descended eons ago to herd and farm and to found towns. But the town no longer wants the wolf who founded it, except in an iron cage. The church would also cast him out as a heretic, or keep him locked in a dungeon to be periodically tortured by the Iron Maiden.

The lone wolves, who originally founded religions and now threaten them, are for the most part ascetics who forswear production and consumption in order to obtain union (yoga) with their god. They might not make a go of it entirely alone: they might gather together in secluded retreats. Independent individuals and groups were perceived by the Roman Church as a serious threat to its authority, for yoga or direct communion with the deity, enthusiasm or god-possession, takes the individual out the centralized Church’s sphere of authority.

Decentralization, tolerance, plurality of views, religious freedom can be detected in India under the Hindu umbrella religion, but not in the Roman Church. The Church, as it gained power, did everything in its power to bring enthusiasm to heel, to bring monks together in monasteries to support and obey the dictates of the Roman authorities. It encountered many difficulties along the way with heretics, people who had the audacity to “choose” for themselves.

One such curious group of heretics was the Messalians, a sect that supposedly originated in Mesopotamia about 360 A.D. “Messalians” is Syrian for “those who pray.” Our knowledge of their doctrines and practices is derived solely from the discriminatory denunciations of the authorities, wherefore we may examine the behavior of the Messalians in that reflected light, as presented in the works on heresy penned by Theodoret, Timothy Constantinople, and John of Damascus:

Prayer is the only way to salvation. Zealous prayer drives out the indwelling demon each person was born with (including the Apostles) ever since the first parent Adam. Only prayer can root out the indwelling Satan that urges the person do evil.

Messalians jump over demons cast out of their runny noses, or in spit, or sometimes in the forms of fire, smoke or serpents. They shoot at the demons with their fingers as if their fingers were arrows. Constant praying keeps the Messalians from talking as wildly as they are wont to do. When the praying casts out the demon, they achieve Apatheia (apathy), the reception of the Holy Spirit, which is a marriage to the Bridegroom of Heaven, just as a woman receives a man.

Once a Messalian has achieved Apatheia, which he feels and perceives as the Holy Spirit dwelling within, his body is freed from passion and his soul is set free: he needs no further restraint or teaching. Any wantonness or licentiousness thereafter is not sinful because it is done without passion.

The Messalians see things to come. The actually see the invisible Trinity as One. They see the Cross of Light. They foretell the future and engage in fortune-telling frauds.

Manual labor and giving to the needy are anathema to Messalians, for Messalians are the “poor in spirit,” the truly “spiritual” beings. They sleep most of the day, pretending to be in prayer. They sleep to dream, dream to prophecy, and, being deceived, prophecy to deceive.

They do go along with the sacraments from time to time, perhaps to fit in without hypocrisy to their faith, for they believe such things do no harm or good.

John of Damascus said, “Among them they have contempt for the churches and their altars, as it were fitting for ecclesiastical ascetics not to attend synaxes and yet hold prayers in their oratories: for they say that such is the power of their praying that the Holy Spirit appears perceptually to them and those instructed by them….Those who come to them without any fruit of repentance from various sins, without authority of priests, without the stages which are prescribed in the ecclesiastical canons, they promise to take away every sin immediately, only if someone undertakes the prayer which is much spoken among them, and thoughtlessly becomes an initiate of their trickery.” (De Haeresibus)

References in sacred literature were made to the Messalians of Mesopotamia in the 370s, in Asia Minor in the 420s and 430s, and the Council of Ephesus condemned them in 431. Writings about them circulated widely thereafter, playing a key role in the Byzantine monastic revival of the 8th and 9th centuries, and in the Hesychast movement of the 14th century.

The actual identity of the Messalians is controversial. The designation was applied to anyone who was unenthusiastic about manual labor and sacrificial ordinances, anyone who placed emphasis on the experiential, emotional aspects of religion and who believed prayer could make the soul divine and immortal. They reportedly wandered from place to place, slept in the streets, and took up no occupations except their fervent prayer.

So-called Messalians were persecuted. For instance, Letoius, Bishop of Militene, burned monasteries where this form of Quietism was found, “driving the wolves from the sheepfold.” Many suspected Messalians were put to death by the Christian magistrates.

As enthusiastic as we may be about the freedom of our individual spirits, let us bring this ancient example of enthusiasm to a close with a silent prayer for the Messalians In the Name of the Past, the Present, and the Future, as One.



THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, New York: Encyclopedia Press 1911

Columba Stewart, WORKING THE EARTH OF THE HEART, The Messalian Controversy in History, Texts, and Language to AD 431, Oxford: Clarendon: 1991