lord of the flies

“From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.”
Denis Diderot

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”
William Golding, Lord of the Flies


(I used this image back in June, but it fit so well today)

I suppose the reading of certain books during our time spent in high school
lit classes is all a part of the adolescent right of passage.

Most folks my age read such books as Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye,
A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Crucible,
1984 (yes published in 1949 and I read it long before 1984),
The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men…the list goes on and on.

Some books I enjoyed.
Some books I loathed.
Some books left me unsettled.

Lord of the Flies was just one such book.

No happy ending there.

It was a tale that left me terribly unsettled.

Any sort of story showcasing those who are oh so civilized one minute while
quickly falling into barbarism the next,
when all the trappings of modern life suddenly disappear,
leaves me less than happily settled—

Perhaps because it is a blatant reminder of how thin is the veil that separates
modern man from his animalistic alter ego …
and yet that was indeed the author’s intent…
A stalk reminder…..

I was in high school just past those heady days of Woodstock and Flower power.
The early 70’s were to be a time of reemerging.
We were coming up for air from an unpopular war, grave national unrest,
sit-ins, love-ins as a president was preparing to leave office in disgrace…
people wanted to reset and move forward.
Our naiveté was long gone.

Sounds as if I could be talking about today….

We read the works of writers who addressed such feelings..some being current, some
simply ahead of their time.

And it appears as if I am not alone in my recollection of my required reading
of such a tale…

The newly consecrated bishop of the Christian Episcopal Church of Canada and the US,
The Rt. Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, also recalls reading Lord of the Flies.

I found his post Wednesday to be most timely as he touched on an issue I’ve been
referencing in just these past many days…

That being the Nazis and their obsessive need to plunder, loot, and burn millions of books… in an all out attempt to control the thought processes of those they
wished to manipulate and rule while at the same time obliterating an entire
swarth of humanity.

“I can understand why the Nazis burned books.

One book can subvert a whole culture.

Perhaps one of the most subversive books I’ve known was “Lord of the Flies”
by William Golding.
I must have read it when I was 14 or 15.

It tells the story of a group of schoolboys whose plane crashes onto a remote island.
They survive the crash, but descend into violence and chaos and finally murder.
They lose all the trappings of civilisation, inside and out, in a very short time.

This was and is a shocking book.
It called the bluff of moral progress and ethical evolution.
Our civility is just skin deep Golding was saying.
From the moment I finished the book,
I knew that Golding was right and that progressive politics was based on a
misjudgment of human nature.
Our ethical progress was just skin deep, and could be lost in an instant.

I keep on being haunted by images of Nazi book burning and the smashing up of
Jewish shop fronts from Germany in the 1930’s.
Something like a collective madness came on the people of Germany.
It really seemed to erupt almost out of nowhere.
How could such a civilised people, the children of Goethe and Beethoven,
so swiftly become the breeding ground of Nazism, with its book burnings, thuggery
and ultimately the horrifying and very Golding-like final solution?”

The good Bishop goes on to explore the similarites he sees between the current acts of violence taking place on both sides of our collective pond in regards to the
progressive liberal groups and their lack of tolerance, or perhaps allowance would be a better word, with the more conservative and Christian groups over the current battle
lines.

Bishop Ashenden notes in particular a rather nasty incident taking place in Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park when several protesting groups converged.

It seems that a 60 year old feminist sort of protester was punched in the face by a transgendered male dressed as a female type individual,
who after punching said 60 year old woman in the face and knocking her to the ground,
then ran ran off.

Ashenden makes a rather stalk comparison between a now and then sort of moment:
“Mindless thugs beating their opponents in public were not the preserve only of the Brown Shirts in Berlin, of state apparatchiks in Moscow, but it’s odd to find gender activists demonstrating in favour of love, peace, tolerance and inclusion, beating up elderly feminists at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.”

Ashenden goes on…
“A great deal is made by the left that the threat of violence comes from the
‘far Right.’ In fact the press and media don’t bother with the ‘Right’ any more.
Anything less than socialist is called ‘Far-Right, – or Nazi.
There is no near-right, or middle right, or further right; just Far-Right.’

You may read the full post here:

‘Far-Left’ and ‘Far-Right’ need to be replaced by ‘Far-UP’.

The irony of our current thuggery groups behaving so terribly badly while they shout
for rights, proclaim justice, preach love, and of all things, demand tolerance….
all the while commencing to malign and beat to a pulp those who oppose their current
trend of senseless thoughts……

They might do well to reread a book or two from their day’s in lit class.

Barbarism is but a step away from the the civilized…..

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.
He was a murderer from the beginning,
and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.
Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

What is your mission statement?

And I believe that what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me. . .

excerpt from the song Creed
Rich Mullins

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I hold another creed, which no one ever taught me, and which I seldom mention, but in which I delight, and to which I cling, for it extends hope to all; it makes eternity a rest – a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last; with this creed, revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low. I live in calm, looking to the end.”
― Charlotte Brontë

DSC00240
(deer hair caught in a barbed wire fence / Julie Cook / 2015)

It seems as if every business, corporation, agency, assembly, organization, all across the planet, has some sort of mission statement, guiding principle placard or pledge of delivery—some sort of proclamation of purpose, commitment of services rendered or a list of the promises made– ready to be executed by and to both its members and or consumers or customers.

Everyone it seems these days, needs some sort of directional treatise.
A form of purpose-driven compass that is clear, concise, transparent and “consumer friendly”. . .
Nothing hidden
No duplicity
No secret agendas
As in a “it is what it is” sort of realism which seems necessary in which to conduct bushiness, function as a corporation, or basically to serve ones clients, consumers, stakeholders, stockholders–i.e., the general public.

In the year 49AD there was a meeting of the early church fathers–Paul, Barnabas as well as various Bishops and Apostles. The new upstart “religion,” or cult as some leaders of the day observed, those who were continuing to follow the teachings of the Nazarene, were finding their numbers of followers growing exponentially. Direction, teaching and leadership was quickly becoming paramount. The tradition of oral teaching was the norm. The majority of people were not versed in written communication or literacy. Reading and writing had been entrusted to the rabbis, Sanhedrin and Roman prefects.

There had to be some sort of cohesiveness or unifying factor in which all followers could claim, relate to, and use as a basis of their faith.
Yet there was still the conundrum of the importance of the Law of Judaism.
Jesus, a devout Jew himself, had spoken of the importance of the Law. And yet His teachings, His death and subsequent resurrection had turned some of the Law upside down by bringing forth “amendments” to the older Laws of Moses. Not only were there commandments of what not to do such as the forbidding of sexual promiscuity or any unnatural sexual act, the eating of raw uncooked meat, the eating of sacrificial animals and the drinking of animal’s blood, the making and worshiping of idols, the forbidding of stealing, committing murder, infanticide, abortion, etc– there were now commandments of what a believer was to do such as loving and treating others as one would wished to be treated and the belief that all are called to be followers, not just Jew, but Gentile as well, and therefore all that one must do to follow is to be willing to pick up one’s cross and claim as well as live the teachings of Jesus.

It was time for a verbal proclamation of belief to be firmly established.
A specific written treatise which could be held up for all followers and non followers alike to be able to hear, see, read, proclaim, as well as live.
It was to be the cornerstone of the infant Christian church.

The declaration known as the Apostles Creed was born:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Yet as was typical of any new teaching, or in this case a new way of life, there came those who wanted to craft and sculpt the new Church as their own. Allowing ego, pride, misguidance, selfishness, avarice, disbelief, or simple ignorance to filter in and dilute the purity of the given Word. There were those who waged their own agendas against what was considered to be the Truth.
Discord, quarrels, uneasiness, disagreements were becoming rampant.
Heresies began to abound.

In 325 a new council meeting was requested by leading bishops wishing to quell the latest rising of heretic teachings. These were the men of trial and tribulation. Many having endured persecution, torture and often escaping with barely their very lives. Men who were greatly invested in the necessary and correct direction in which to set the future of the Christian faith.
Emperor Constantine, who was the leading Holy Roman Emperor, oversaw the historic meeting.

Three hundred years had past since the first council in Jerusalem.
Bishops, deacons and priests from Rome to Palestine, from Asia Minor to Hispania, from Greece to Gaul, from Georgia to the Danube region, from Armenia to Syria all converged in Nicaea, present day Turkey, in order to silence growing heretical teachings and to finally bring a cohesive understanding to the doctrine of the Trinity. Finally establishing that all Christians would be on the proverbial same page.

Time was also allotted to the sorting out of various directional issues such as deciding on one agreed calculation to be used in order to determine the yearly date for the Easter celebration as well as considering cases of extreme spiritual demonstrations of self denial such as self castration. Extreme directions believers felt compelled to follow as signs of deep devotion and as a way for attaining a higher level of “holiness” which were all more self destructive than spiritually edifying.

The Council was in session for over a month.
Not only were new Church cannons, or laws, established— such as the prohibition of extreme demonstrations of asceticism (i.e. self castration); the establishing of a specific process for the ordination of clergy; the forbidding of young women, while visiting alone, to enter the home or chamber of priests; the forbidding of usury among clergy; a specified “proper” procedure for holy Baptism; as well as the establishing of a new creed.

Enter the Nicene Creed.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The cornerstone and guiding principle of a young church.
A lasting, declaration of belief.
A creed written approximately 1700 years ago, recited and unchanged to this day.
A unifying statement for all Christians–Catholic, Orthodox and the various Protestant denominations to be recited and proclaimed.

And as Rich Mullins so aptly stated. . .
“. . . I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man. . .”

Yes, it is indeed making me. . .