Monday, May 29, 2006

My Frame of Mind

Everyone, by now, knows that I, The Oracle, am a Futilitarian (© Evan Wilson). They suspect I am also too fond of hierarchical models of the cosmos and believe, not only in monarchy as a preferred form of rule, but in the Divine Right of Kings. That explanation of life(futility) and control of its insults(monarchical government) cries out for a salvation which is only in the Lord Jesus Christ. We Christians cannot speak of our frame of mind without pointing to the God who made it, reframed it, and stands athwart all things as that which our minds contemplate and adore.
Christianity makes me the same as other Christians but some things make me a discrete player in the vision of all others. For the sake of a broad belief in my mental continuity, I give you the list, not including the above, that shaped my adult life. These were written circa 1984 on a scrap of index card measuring perhaps 1.5 inches by 3 inches and pinned to the end of a bookshelf in a Chrsitian bookstore. I was asked what they were and I said, near as I remember, "These fell words, words of portent and dark omen, words of a numinous dread and terrible sublimity, these words, they are my five philosophic bases of life."
He (the annals suggest that t'was Mark Knecht) unto whom I spoke asketh, "Why five?"
I saith "Less than five is shallow and tests the line between man and beast. More is just unwieldy, says less for saying more, and evinces a lack of clarifying thought."
He nodded and murmured, "I gotta get me some of those."
The five words of the Oracle:
1. Imperialism
2. Stoicism
3. Order
4. Realism
5. Northernness

Twenty-two years later I ask you, have I lived it? Have these concepts grown logically into what I am? Do you need any defined?


Matthew N. Petersen said...

What do you mean by "athwart"? From side to side doesn't seem to make sense, but neither does so as to obstruct.

The Oracle said...

# Nautical. Across the course, line, or length of.
In other words, all things that claim our attention and direction of life, Christ stand across that way, much like Apollyon, demanding our view.

thebeloved said...

I would think that an epicurian term would have been added to the list somewhere. Happiness, Pleasure, etc.

Mark said...

Since I've been a friend and co-worker of yours for lo these 20 years and more, I feel that the raw tonnage of minutes spent with you, if nothing else, qualifies me to at least attempt to answer your questions of self-examination. First, I must note that this is a rare opportunity. I might even say a singular one. For, in our travels together I can not recall, though my memory is delightfully failing, a similar instance of vulnerability. So, of course, I leap at the chance:
Imperialism I give you an 8-Whether one calls it a fiefdom, realm, or empire, you have managed to cut a rather wide swath where property lines are considered. Stoicism 10-You pegged the meter here. Not only are you in complete control of your passions, we have come to wonder if you have any. Order 3-Unless one counts marrying into order. Weekly you make carrying a cup of coffee from the urn back to your chair an event to be feared. Realism-I don't remember this one, and I have no idea what you're talking about. Northernness another 10-Not only must one, when entering the Wilson household, turn both the door knobs to the north, you seem to ooze fogginess. There ya go, happy trails.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Excpt on northerness I would say you peg out. Perhaps Mark's point about marrying order is correct, but first, that makes it yours--a good leader delegates; second, it seems to not only be order of house but of thoughts which, whether or not one agrees with you, you have.

But Northerness? I am not sure how one posseses that. As you see it, for something to be northern you have to imagine something vast and terrible from a safe vantage. Safety you have, but I cannot see how immagining something terrible is part of your persona.

Also, I posted a tangential response to a part of this on my blog

Joshua Gibbs said...

Imperialism? For everyone?

Joshua Gibbs said...

Actually, I'll go on a bit further.

If "Imperialism" is meant to suggest what I think it does, and I'm recalling conversations that you and I have had in the past about wars for conquest, then I fail to see how you can stand against Christian Imperialism- which is basically what crappy Reformed theology comes from or leads to...depending on which way you want to slice it. The Kirk seems like an Imperial church if e'er there was one. And if Imperialism in the realm of war and not Christianity, then how has it shaped your personhood? Are there scalps in your basement I'm yet to see (and if there are, can I see them?)

Also, why "Stoicism"?

The Oracle said...

Matt, I'll go read your post and see if it incites my slow typing skills to respond. My comments are always measured thus; how much of a hassle would it be to type?
Mark, of course, is correct regarding order and who I married. Suffice it to say it was one of the reasons I married her.
Josh, by imperialism I mean the expansion of the borders of our law. Of course it is not a good thing in and of itself. If I listed sex as one of my philosophic bases, one could object to all the perversity that is committed in its name. The reformed yayhoos are imperialists (as were their kindred, the Bolsheviks). I don't object to their desire, in either the Commies or Team Presby, to get rule and the morality of its pursuit and advent. I object to how they govern what they have gotten. A young man "conquers" a lady by asking successfully for her hand in marriage. No objection thus far. If he turns out to be some patriarch expecting the wife to bow down before a tyranny inspired by his jockey shorts pulled up in some predestinated wedgie, then I object to his rule. I don't object to marriage. We all want and need to rule. It is our humanity and it is what defines us. That jerks rule defines the jerks as such. The question before us is, how well do I rule over how much that I have? "How well" is understood by how much Peace on how many axis.

Nuallain said...

Dare I ask, and expose my ignorance? Yet it is the place of those around the Oracle to do so, that they might gain knowledge at cost of humbling... What exactly is meant by Northerness?

John Barry said...

Dear Oracle,

Is there merit in one's 50s to toot one's horn about adolescent notions adopted in, and maintained since one's late 20s? Would not "stodginess" or "stagnation" better serve as one of your five words? I, too, once had five words. But I can't for the life of me remember what they were. Cordially, tonkjezail

Joshua Gibbs said...


Well taken, well returned, well received. Thanks.

As for stoicism, though...I'm skpetical (which strikes me like it could have made your list)... Was Christ a stoic? Can you cry tears like blood and be stoic? Can you be seen with a sword coming out of your mouth and be stoic? Do tell.


MrsCranial said...

Northernness is a term from C.S.Lewis that Evan clamped onto way long he told me over 20 years ago while I asked about a Bizantium song he had written. Seems to me that the Oracle's epicurian aspect *is* his northernness. After all, Evan does talk heaps about peace and comfort and the like in his fiefdom. Am I half right on this E.B?

John Barry said...

Is there some significance to the order in which you listed your 5 philosophic bases? They could have been *ordered* such that the first letter of each word spelled another word. To wit, "rosin". Had you used such an acronym, the bow of your philosophic bases would surely glide more smoothly across the strings of our minds.

The Oracle said...

It would seem that my successes in accomplishing my five would amount to a stodginess, if, thankfully, a venerable stodginess.
And MrsCranial is correct that I have dragged this St. Clive concept around most of my life. The definition of Northernness is that of a longing, a severe, cold sublimity that rises in the emotive sense consistent with the mythopoeic attributes of northern latitudes of Europe. Autumn, Siegfried and the Twight of the Gods, moss, grey weather.
Josh, by stoicism I mean, not the wealth of Stoic philosophy though I like them above the other Classical schools, but a greater desire to pursue one's duty above one's desire to avoid pain or feel pleasure. Consequently, Christ's weeping over the cup he had to bear is not a violation of such stoicism but its affirmation. "Not my will but thine be done," said our Lord.

The Oracle said...

I appreciate this help. I am unschooled in the skills that would make any aspect of what I say more palatable to others.
"RINOS" is taken.
"NO SIR" has real possibilities.

I suppose that the five attempt to describe the Oracle rather than evangelize any one else. I wouldn't want any to start their own list with a cool acronym.