Reply To: Suggestions of how discussions might be framed

  • Whit Blauvelt

    April 13, 2023 at 3:49 am

    Agree that The Gnostic Gospels is great. It’s been a few decades since I read it; it was a great pleasure to discover it back when.

    To some high degree, as the Ohio Players sang, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” Values have always been obviously real for me, along with incomprehension of how so many are taken in by ways of turning away from them, and explaining them away. If we grant that they are, then there’s the question of how to have social leadership which embodies them. There are examples from the edges of history of greatly differently constituted societies. The Dawn of Everything is a good recent book on that vast variation.

    I’m in New England for the last 20 years, in Vermont, where people are on average more kind, more honest, more tuned to nature and beauty than across much of America. Vermont is also the least religious state in the nation, in terms of subscribing to congregations. Yet it’s a culture descended from Puritanism. McGilchrist condemns Puritans, after praising pragmatism as well as Milton (and I do love Milton). But Milton was the chief propagandist for Cromwell’s Puritan government; and the New England pragmatists had prominent among them Emerson, who was from a long line of Puritan preachers, not so divergent from them. Do these paradoxes flag a closeness to truth?

    Those who want Trump as king I suspect want a sort of feudalism. So do some of the billionaires who are funding right-wing groups in America seeking to end democracy here, or hollow it out, so that those same billionaires can become true feudal lords — if they aren’t virtually so already.

    Seeing as I 98% agree with McGilchrist’s lines of thought, it’s perhaps too easy to go to the spots of disagreement. I see the Enlightenment in, well, a more positive light — any many of those he so well quotes as being in various branches of it. Does form of government matter most, or is the primary challenge some new turn of enlightenment, a retuning of the hemispheres? If we can find more ways to enlighten people in the rediscovery, and reintegration of values, will our civilization(s) find new, better paths and forms?