Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Bruce Charlton's "reciprocal antichrist" idea: Beyond worldliness to lunacy

Bruce Charlton's recent post "Beyond Antichrist to the Reciprocal Antichrist" lays out a potentially very important model for the progression of evil in various fields. However, I think his terminology is a bit confusing for the following reasons:

(1) Most people think of "the antichrist" as a single individual, but Bruce instead uses the word to describe various phenomena. He uses such terms as "the antichrist of health" to refer not to any particular person or organization but to a demonic distortion of the idea of health.

(2) Most people think of the Antichrist as being the opposite of Christ and associate it with such blackk-magick standbys as the inverted cross or reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards. Bruce instead takes it in the more strictly biblical sense of someone who pretends to be Christ, but at the same time (as described in my first point) he depersonalizes it. The "antichrist of health," then, means a demonic conception of health masquerading as a Christian one.

(3) Bruce's use of "reciprocal" is also confusing; if we have some relation between a and b (in the paradigm case, the mathematical expression a/b), the reciprocal (b/a) keeps the same terms but reverses the relation. Thus, we would expect a "reciprocal antichrist" phenomenon to be a Christian conception masquerading as a demonic one -- but of course there is no such thing, and that is not what Bruce means.

What does he mean? Let us walk through his primary example of "health" and see if we can come up with some clearer terminology. The progression unfolds as follows:

Phase 1: Physical health is recognized as a good but is subordinated to the primary Good, which is spiritual. This is the truly Christian state of affairs, of which all that follows is a distortion.

Phase 2: Health begins to be overemphasized and treated as the primary good, and this unmooring from the real primary good leads to its being distorted. This is still done within a framework that presents itself as Christian, though, which is what makes Bruce call it the "Antichrist" phase. I think pseudo-Christian would perhaps be a clearer term than antichrist for this sort of thing.

Phase 3: The pseudo-Christian scaffolding is kicked away, and "health" is openly promoted as a primary good ("healthism"). As such, it includes various subordinate goods, such as the prevention and treatment of each particular disease. Due to the lingering effects of Phase 2, many self-identified Christians continue to support this newly-autonomous "healthism," but healthism itself no longer bothers to cast itself in Christian terms or to justify itself using a Christian framework. Rather, healthism is increasingly taken for granted as good-in-itself, and Christianity is increasingly justified in terms of it. A "Copernican revolution" has taken place -- or rather an anti-Copernican one, as a "heliocentric" or God-centered model is replaced with a "geocentric" or this-world-centered one.

Phase 4: Healthism -- originally an "antichrist" distortion of Christianity -- itself gets "antichristed," as one of its subordinate goods is overemphasized and treated as primary, in a way that distorts and undermines "healthism" itself. Obviously Bruce is thinking of the birdemic here, where the monomaniacal focus on one particular disease leads to outcomes that are massively detrimental to health as a whole. This is what he calls the "Reciprocal Antichrist" of health. Going with our "Copernican revolution" metaphor, this phase corresponds to the introduction of a "lunicentric" model in which the Moon -- properly subordinate to the Earth, which is subordinate to the Sun -- is taken as the center. The healthist may rightly be called worldly, but the birdemicist is a lunatic.

I will perhaps expand on this in future posts, but this is my first stab.


Bruce Charlton said...

That's excellent! It's good to see the idea re-described more clearly.

The reason I focused on the Antichrist aspects is that I and other Christians have often discussed these times in terms of both 'the' Antichrist as a specific person, a possible world leader of the future - and also more abstractly in terms of Antichrist 'phenomena' (such as the mass media).

But I had not previously noticed that such discussions have drifted-away from the idea of the Antichrist as deceptively pretending to be either Christ as a person, or his representative, or a Christian leader and revivalist.

But clearly such a person would have little appeal in the world now, because Christ and Christianity have little appeal.

Whereas nowadays the Antichrist term is (I think) being used more abstractly and generically to refer to someone or some phenomenon that pretends to be 'Good' (Good according to modern secular criteria) but which is covertly motivated by evil.

So, something which ticks nine out of ten boxes for Good - but the 'unticked box' (i.e. the not-Good: the evil) is the real one that is driving the entity/ phenomenon.

This lies behind the idea of the Litmus Tests, for example, in relation to the self-identified Christian churches. The communications of such a church may be ninety-something percent Christian in content - but the real and motivating significance is the sentence or two in support of antiracism, birdemic-peck, sexual revolution or the climate change perspective and agenda.

These not-Christian, not-Good, pro-secular-evil elements are (no matter how small a proportion of communications they represent) the heart, motivator and bottom line for the organization.

These are the dogmas that cannot be contradicted without severe sanctions and exclusions, the 'mission statements' which shape organizational strategy and development.

It is this mismatch between the high proportion of of explicit but fake Good, and the core motivator of almost-covert but mastering evil, that makes something an Antichrist phenomenon for me.

William Wildblood said...

What comes after the "lunicentric' model? It would have to be underground, I suppose. Oh, that's Hell.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Note: “Selenocentric” is the proper term, but I thought it seemed a bit obscure!

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