Saturday, August 19, 2006:
Mundanely, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition, 1994, individualism means the following:
1.a. Belief in the primary importance of the individual and in the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence. b. Acts or an act based on this belief. 2. A doctrine advocating freedom from government regulation in the pursuit of a person's economic or social goals. 3. The doctrine that the interests of the individual should take precedence over the interests of the state or social group. 4.a. The quality of being an individual; individuality. b. An individual characteristic; a quirk.
This is understood when the different connotations are juxtaposed in context.
Taking the dictionary's connotations above, here are some observations for your consideration. Concerning self-reliance, consider that even if one goes out into the natural wilderness, one is still provided for by that environment. One eats what is provided. If one cultivates, one is still dependent. Even if one scientifically masters conjuring up our of seemingly nowhere what is needed for the life of the individual body, one is still provided for and dependent upon that which supplied what seemingly came out of nowhere. In other words, in this context, nowhere does not really exist. What is used by the individual under any circumstances came from somewhere, and that somewhere is ultimately beholden to God.
As for individual freedom from governmental regulation, this depends upon one's definition (the context, the connotation being applied) of government. Coercive government imagines itself on a spectrum running from preventing harm (a supposed good intention; parental intervention) to cruel dominance. Non-coercive government uses appeal that seeks the individual to restrain himself or herself via conscience. Therefore, governmental regulation is good or bad depending upon whether or not it is coercively applied to adults.
This raises the issue of protection from the evil intentions of coercive adults acting as individuals or collectively. In Christ, we find that setting the best example is perfection. This is the golden rule.
The highest example of its application is the new commandment played out in the crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus did not fight but rather appealed, and God did unto Jesus what ought to be done to all who so nobly self-sacrifice under the utmost trustworthy intentions (spirit).
Under these clarifications then, the interests of the individual don't take precedence over the interests of the state or social group but rather are the interests of the state or social group. That is the state of heaven. In that state, everyone knows that pursuing the spirit of the highest example is the best way for each individual to be. It is a unanimously and un-coercively held belief that is also unanimously and un-coercively acted upon always. The errors of selfishness are worked out of the state of being and out of the social group.
To avoid these conclusions is to wallow in half-truth contexts of individualism. This is where one rejects real individualism by either using coercion to force the group's leader's position upon the rest or where one or another group uses coercion to keep others from the error of coercion to dominate. That latter position is the Libertarian position: The lesser of evils on that spectrum to the degree to which the individualist respects his or her neighbors. The former position is that of the tyrant or despot.
In other words, this issue hinges upon coercion, which is selfish in either case. In either case, it is falling short of the highest example and is, therefore, falling short of heaven. In the Libertarian case, the meaning of respect falls short of exercising the spirit of the Good Samaritan whose neighbor is everyman and everywoman and for whom (the Good Samaritan) respect is being wholly unselfish.
Jesus was, and is, the spirit of the Good Samaritan. God was and is also.
The plane must rise. Expectations must be raised vastly higher all the way to the highest. Otherwise, the heart of the merciless despot will not be exorcised. The children must be taught the truth of the evil of coercion and selfishness. The children must be taught the real philosophy and theology of Jesus even though, and on account of, that teaching will undermine the current state.
Shame on one-sided individualism while anyone starves. Shame on selfishness. The conscience of people who hoard needs to burn. They cannot put themselves in the shoes, in many cases the bare feet, of those who are in want on account of the hoarding and greed and exploitation by so-called individualists: Certain blind, uncompassionate, shameful souls.
Government isn't the problem. Bad government is the problem. Good government is the solution, and good government is guided by the well-informed conscience and all the people, not the elite. The best serve and only serve. They serve the unselfish unselfishly.
Bad government is guided by the selfishness of people. It leads people into selfishness.
Bad government seeks to placate the people by creating, stimulating, and channeling the people's hearts toward the endless pursuit of selfish satiation. It doesn't matter whether that government is providing the products and services or is the arm of private elitists profiting from the same. It doesn't matter whether that government is promoting to the masses or is promoting tailor-made rewards for selfishness. It is still speaking to the reptilian, less-evolved, unenlightened portions of the human mind. It is still causing individualism at the total expense of other, and it is costly to the entire planet and ultimately the whole of creation if the disease is left unchecked and allowed to run rampant.
Within certain context, individualism, Platonism, humanism, libertarianism, existentialism, nihilism, hedonism, materialism, relativism, Freudianism, yuppiedom, Reaganism, consumerism, neoliberalism (New Labour), satanism, psychology, psychoanalysis, behaviorism, self actualization, Human Potential Movement (humanistic psychology), EST (Erhard Seminars Training), all appeal, within context, to the pursuit of selfishness. Within that context, all are antichrist.
Within a different context or coming from a different approach, each is a starting place for the conversation that can lead to repentance and the strait gate. It is thecontext itself that is the strait gate. It is the common area of overlap where the conscience can grow and develop into that which ultimately will do no harm. Jesus provided that single context by revealing God, by God revealing God through Jesus.
Using that context then for instance, transpersonal psychology is open to real Christianity. It is open to the truth that God will meet all needs of those with real faith. The spiritual overlaps the material. This is why Abraham Maslow, whose pyramid concept (the Hierarchy of Human Needs), also believed in the transcendent, the spiritual. It is actually the peak experience of humanness, wholeness of self, in Maslow's view. He admitted of this as being one with the universe.
Maslow was close to describing the Christ-mind. He missed the drive to feed the lambs and sheep. He missed the importance of the simultaneous love-hate relationship. He was not a Christian. He was syncretic.
He did not appear to be an unrighteous person on the mundane level. He did not, however, credit Jesus Christ. The extent to which he avoided considering Jesus or did consider Jesus and then rejected him is in God's hands.
You see, in many ways, psychology is an attempt on the part of many Jews to reach for the message of Jesus Christ without having to credit Jesus. We say "many Jews" here, because it certainly doesn't apply to all Jews. The point is that nearly everything Maslow systematized and categories is inherently understood, clearly implied, within Christ's teachings, just as much of Christ's teachings may be found in earlier teachings. The difference though with Christ is that Christ lived his teachings and has not been transcended by any subsequent teaching. In other words, Maslow has revealed nothing and has, in fact, distracted. He did not simply state that real self-actualization is joining Jesus in oneness with God by the means Jesus plainly demonstrated.
Carl Jung was also very open to Christ. He missed him, but he was open. His synchronicity is something that real Christians experience. However, they don't leave their mind in some vague state as to the causality of the occurrences (or rather their perception of them, since they are constant). The real Christian knows it is the Holy Spirit operating directly to inform and direct, to answer, to give, to open the door of perception. It is in line with the miracles of Jesus, only Jesus's spiritual connection is the most highly advance form.
The aspirations of individualism, the real spirit of it rather than the mere mundane letter, are met by the separation and communing with God that informs one of the unity of all within that communing.
There is such a thing as Christian humanism. We aren't talking about Christian humanitarianism, per se. Although, such humanitarianism is a part of that humanism. We aren't talking about the humanism of the so-called Enlightenment or Renaissance. Although, those concepts can be a starting place for the conversation of real enlightenment. We're talking about 1) the value of the humble and 2) the freewill liberty that God gives humans so they may bring forth. That bringing forth is God through humans.
That bringing forth includes, but isn't limited to, working with one's hands naturally endowed with opposable thumbs to emoting things to manifest (fashioning reality).
If the work of the hands and emotions are in sync with the new commandment, that's Christian humanism. It's within the proper context for understanding and gaining wisdom. It isn't against Christ. It's with Christ. It is Christ being further manifested.