Recently, I made an interesting statement that got me to thinking about things. I think it shows an aspect of a current situation. It all began when I said:
“God, I can’t stand the emptiness of this society”
This was said with a number of qualities such as:
- It was said in an all-of-sudden manner, almost without thought
- It was said with great disgust and nausea
- It was said in great seriousness
- It was said with an incredible desire to get away from this society and leave it
- It was said in an attitude of “I can’t stand it anymore”
Sadly, what prompted this statement was after some observations of the younger generation who are often not unlike a machine or automaton and who are often complete and absolute slaves to technology and the media (which is why I often call them the Drone Generations . . . for example, see my article Thoughts on the post cold war generations – some observations . . .). But these observations are really a culmination of a long period of observation. In fact, its a culmination of almost a lifetime of observation living in this society. Its because of this that it had this quality of being a conclusion, as if to say, “this is what I have concluded about this society . . . that it is empty and I can’t stand this emptiness”.
But what is “emptiness”? This is a term that is not that easy to define. Its actually very involved and deals with many subjects, making it a difficult thing to define. Some aspects of it include:
- There is little or no belief
- There is no authority
- There is no culture
- There are no “people” . . . everyone is a “blur of humanity”, as I always say
- Everything revolves around mundane and materialistic things
Its like human society has become a “nothing” . . . its there but not there. If a person lives in it, and believe it, then they become a “nothing” too. This is why I often speak of modern people as the “nothing people”. And that’s what this is really about, a dilemma caused by the modern world.
To me, the modern world is not unlike an inhuman machine. If a person adopts its ways then one becomes an inhuman machine as well. But my observation is that this is not just about modern things: industrialization, radio, TV, automobiles, refrigerators, telephones, computers, consumerism, etc. Its also not about their effects. There’s more to it. There is actually something else that started all that, or so it seems to me.
My personal inquiry, at this point, shows that there is an earlier origin, a “something” that got a ball going that has led to the current situation. To me, it seems to be the Christian conversion . . .
THE CHRISTIAN CONVERSION
The Christian conversion refers to the attempt at converting Europe to Christianity. It caused things such as:
- The devaluation of existing belief
- The forcing of a foreign belief system
- The forcing of foreign ideals and ways
- The altering of existing social structures
- The altering or disruption of authority
- The idea that if one does not follow the new foreign belief then one is damned and doomed to hell
- The idea that this new foreign belief is the savior and answer
These created a condition in which there was a “forced altering of a society”. In other words, it created a condition with qualities such as these:
- People were uprooted from their existing society and belief
- They were forced to follow foreign beliefs and ways
- They were told the new foreign beliefs would save them
- This was all done with threats of damnation
These 4 qualities seem to be the base of the “emptiness” and gives it many of its unique traits.
One thing that is apparent is that “emptiness isn’t really emptiness” but is a condition that consists of many traits and qualities that lead up to a sense of emptiness. In this way, the “emptiness” is more than something like an absence of authority or belief.
Overall, I would describe the “emptiness” as the sense caused when you have discovered you have been tricked out of something. Not only do you find it gone but you feel the “emptiness” of its absence. In many ways, the Christian conversion tricked us out of our belief and society and laid upon us a belief and society that was not all that convincing. But we tend to not be aware of this emptiness because we have been told it will save us and threatened us with damnation if we didn’t believe. As a result, we don’t see it as a loss. Despite this we still feel it deep down and it continues as a “sense”.
This “sense” continues to surface from time to time. I tend to feel that this “sense” played a lot in things like the Protestant Reformation, the attack against Royalty and Nobility, and the various rebellions against society, institutions, and beliefs that took place in European and American history. I would say that even my rebelliousness originates from this “sense”. At the base of all these seem to be a reaction against the loss and “emptiness” caused by the Christian conversion, or so it seems to me.
Interestingly, I tend to think that the whole process of the Christian conversion is not unlike an imitation, really, of the Exodus of Moses. In that event Moses led the People of Israel out of Egyptand out of the control of Pharaoh. Jesus, in imitation of Moses, was doing a similar thing, he was “leading the people out of the control of the Roman Empire”. In this way, the Christian conversion is something like a “forced Exodus” that is forced upon people. In other words, the “emptiness” of modern society has an origin from the Exodus.
In many ways, couldn’t we compare the claims of the modern world to the Exodus in ways such as:
- Isn’t modern society a “freeing us from the bondage of the bad side of life”?
- Isn’t modern society a Moses, or a Jesus, that is supposed to save us?
- Isn’t modern society like the Exodus in that it creates a new society?
- Isn’t modern society like the Exodus as it is an uprooting of people from where and what they are?
- Isn’t modern society like the Exodus in that we have to follow a new law or way of life?
- Isn’t modern society like the Exodus in that it has an image of some idealized new place where we will live in happiness?
To me, a lot of modern society has origin in the Exodus. Though the Exodus is more a reflection of Judaism it was conveyed through Jesus and in Christianity, which is really nothing but a new Exodus.
I’d say that these qualities of the Exodus were not “taught principles” but, rather, attitudes that were passed down from Judaism to Christianity and into European society. This means that it is more conveyed in mannerisms, points of views, etc. and not in dogma, belief systems, and such.
“PARTIAL BELIEF” AND “PARTIAL CHRISTIANITY”
It seems, to me, that these attitudes became particularly prevalent in the general population after the Protestant Reformation. This is when Christianity was turned “personal”. Before a person did what the Catholic church said. With Protestantism it placed belief on the person. In this way, these attitudes became more prevalent in the general population of Europe.
Much of this belief can be described as a “partial belief” meaning that people displayed qualities such as:
- They only believed parts of Christianity
- They really didn’t believe in Jesus
- They mixed the parts of Christianity they believed in with other beliefs
In many ways, one could say that people did not really believe but they followed the attitudes. This created something like a “partial Christianity”, quasi-Christianity, a “half Christianity”, that is only partially Christian. This is one of the unique qualities created by the Christian conversion. In this way, the Christian conversion actually caused a hybrid Christianity and did not cause a conversion to Christianity as it intended. This phenomena would create a whole new style of interpretation . . .
THE “EXODUS-STYLE OF INTERPRETATION”
As time when on these attitudes would be imparted on many things done by the common people: politics, philosophy, science, etc. In these ways, it gave an “Exodus-style of interpretation” to many things. This style of interpretation tended to interpret things with the 4 qualities described above in ways such as:
- A glorification of being uprooted, often glorified as change or progress
- A forcing of points of view and belief, often glorified as new discoveries and ideas
- Being told how it will save us
- Being told that if we don’t do them then we will be miserable
These are many qualities found in modern society.
In particular, this style of interpretation would figure a lot in scientific mentality and point of view and would figure prominently in the development of scientific theory, industrialization, and technology. It affects these things in ways such as:
- How things are interpreted
- How its used
- Its hopes and claims
- The estimation of its value
If one looks closely one can see that a lot of science and technology is really a restatement of the Exodus but in a different way!
What we see, then, is that the attitudes of “partial belief” created the “Exodus-style of interpretation” which was applied to many things creating, in a sense, a whole new society or way of looking at things. Even though they were “new” many of these things maintained the attitudes of the Christian conversion. These attitudes, though, tended to be “hidden” or was disguised with other words. As a result, many of these Christian attitudes would not be recognized as originating in Christian thinking.
THE EFFECTS . . .
The effects of these qualities create a condition, attitude, or mentality the display things such as these:
- A voluntary uprooting
- The taking on of views that we don’t believe
- A blind belief that all this will save us
- An underlying fear or dread
In this way is created a mentality that has a great irony . . . we don’t believe it, but we still follow it because we think its good and because we’re frightened (probably of life). This creates a mentality that “goes nowhere”, a “belief that isn’t a belief” or a “hope that isn’t a hope”. This quality can be described as an “emptiness”.
In this way, we see that the “emptiness” is more than an “emptiness”. Its really a condition of being misdirected or misled, in a way. Its like we’re being led off the trail, walking to nowhere, but we think we’re going somewhere. Its “empty” because we have an “empty direction” and an “empty belief”.
A HISTORICAL PROGRESSION
In these ways, we can see a progression of the attitude:
- The Exodus creates the attitude
- Christianity expands the attitude
- The Christian conversion of Europe forces the attitude on greater society
- The Protestant Reformation makes the attitude “personal”
- The attitude proliferates in many things in the ensuing centuries
- Industry, science, and technology takes the attitude and applies it
- A social system is created as a result . . . the modern world
- We have to live in this social system . . . the “emptiness” of the modern world is created
THE REFLECTING OF A FAILURE OF A SOCIAL SYSTEM
The “emptiness”, I think, shows the failure of this attitude. It shows how ineffective it is. This is because of things such as:
- It is based in a past event
- It is based in the event of another culture
- It is based in an abstract image
- It is based in forcing this image onto conditions that do not reflect it
- It is based in not reacting to the current situation and conditions
More specifically, its a reflection of using this attitude as a basis for a social system. When I say “social system” I mean an overall structuring and ordering of society, belief, motive, etc. that was a result of industrialized, scientific-based, technological society. This primarily began in the 1800’s and were largely a creation of Great Britain. Before that, the attitude was primarily localized to religion and various religious elements in life.
But there were early versions of social systems that tried to make these attitudes as the basis of society. These were primarily more “fanatical” aspects of Christianity, many of them being a result of the Protestant Reformation.
The English Social System
In England, where the social system really got established, there was a group of people generally called “Puritans” which had great impact on the society, particularly in the 1600’s. “Puritan” really reflects a mood in the society, that was particularly prevalent in some people, of creating a more serious and Christian society. During the Napoleonic wars the same attitude would create many more Protestant groups and movements, such as the Evangelical movement and Methodists, that would have great impact on the society of the 1800’s. In this way, these “Puritan” attitudes would be the backdrop to the creation of the English social system in the 1800’s. As a result, they would figure prominently in their development.
As far as I know, all of the “Puritan” groups eventually failed. Its really no surprise that this modern society is failing as well, being that it is based in much of these attitudes. It seems that in these “Puritan” groups they failed because they were too strict. Being a small group there was more control and means of control. In modern society these attitudes are more casual being directed to a greater population. It is failing because its too empty.
The American Social System
Most of the American social system is rooted in the English Social System and descends from it. As a result, it has many qualities with it even down to worshiping technology as a savior.
In fact, the U.S. goes further as the very idea of the U.S. is, in many ways, nothing but a reenactment of the Exodus in ways such as:
- It is a perceived escape from a “bondage”
- The discover of a new place to live
- The implementing of a new “law”
As a result, much of the very interpretation of America reflects the “Exodus interpretation”.
One of the unique qualities of the U.S., though, is that it tends to have an emphasis on the fear or dread aspect of the Christian conversion. This became particularly prevalent after WWII during the Cold War. Much of the hysteria seen during the Cold War was based in the fear and dread created by the Christian conversion. This fear and dread was caused by the Christian idea that we are all sinners doomed to damnation and hell if we didn’t believe in Jesus. As a result, it is rooted in the idea that humanity is inherently evil and, oddly enough, a common theme is the idea that humanity is evil, that everyone hates everyone else, and that humanity wants to war against everyone else. Much of this was aggravated by the horrors of WWII and its aftermath. The effect of this is to create a ridiculous and blind paranoia that is very prevalent in the U.S. Despite what Americans think they act like they are frightened scared children. In response to this is the “other” Christian message: we must love one another. As a result, another segment of the population preaches love and peace . . . Christianity, but stated in a different way. The fear and paranoia is so big in the U.S. that this preaching of love and peace is often done with great self-righteous and pig-headed cause. As a result, we see a remnant of the Christian conversion in American society: on one hand is the fear and dread of a humanity that is evil and on the other hand we must love one another. But even all this has becomes a form of “emptiness”: the fear and paranoia has no basis and we are told that we must love one another, but why? I can see the Christianity in it all and the “emptiness” that the Christian conversion causes.
All this seems to show a number of things:
- That the Christian conversion, in actuality, destroyed belief creating societies that are “empty” of belief
- It shows that Christianity was not the convincing philosophy the Christians thought
- It shows that people only”partially believed” and used a portion of it for their use
- It shows that the Christianity of the Christian conversion is really a hybrid Christianity
- It shows that there were many creations created by this “partial belief” and that the “emptiness” of the Christian conversion carried on down with it as well
Copyright by Mike Michelsen