Rules qua rules

   Francis Berger has written a post "What is the Church Now?" in which he quotes Father S. Janos:

    "The core and essential element is the individual Believer within his Family and in the Extended Family, -- the Parish!... Christ teaches: 'Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I am in their midst!' "

    Ingemar has responded to this post saying:

    "I've been going to Traditional Latin Mass almost exclusively in the wake of the Birdemic.  Mainly because traditionalists have been the only ones serious about the necessity of Sacramental grace and because their clergy have been awakened to how Holy Mother Church has been infiltrated and subverted over the past several generations.  

    Naturally, I disagree with you on the notion of Christians outgrowing the need for a visible Church.  I will however point out that taking the Trad pill seems to multiply sorrows rather than alleviate them; and I don't mean this in a pious sense of gaining true sorrow for sins.  

    I mean that New Trads are stricken with the twin spirits of legalism and gnosticism.  In the former case, it seems (at least online) that these sorts of Catholics keep copies of the Catechism of Trent to make sure they aren't sinnig or to prove the post V2 Church is completely illicit, and so forth.  In the latter case, this select knowledge of how things ought to be and how badly Christendom has transgressed leads to a mentality that 'we are the only True Catholics' and either acting like Neo/Morpheus to the wider world or else hoping for an impregnable fortress of Doctrine to keep all the heathens out."    

    Also, today, Bruce Charlton wrote a post "What does God think of human society?" in which he writes: 

    "And further; God would be much more concerned with ensuring that each and every one of his children be maintained with all possibility of salvation and theosis; than that these individuals be coordinated such as optimally to maintain good societies, nations or civilizations - in the abstract and totalizing ways that we so often talk about societies, nations and civilizations. 

Most likely the social-groupings would be generated bottom up, much more as sums-of-their-parts; than as units in their own right. "

   These posts and comment are all worth reading in full.  

    In this post, I want to take this theme as a jumping off point for some similar considerations.  One theme that Bruce Charlton has written about a great deal on his blog is institutions and the need to move past them.  At this point, in the modern West, much of our daily life involves interacting institutions, which I understand as formal means of organizing people.  So a school, a company, a church, etc. are all institutions.  

    One of the biggest problems that we face in the West is that nearly all of our institutions have been co-opted and are now going against the original purpose they were designed for.  To compound this, we have been living a highly institutionalized life for so long, that this is just taken for granted.  The trend over the past two centuries has been for more and more institutions to grow up and for existing institutions to become increasingly formalized, with more and more procedures and rules.  Hence, no one alive today can remember a time before the trend of increasing formalization of life.  

    So, does that mean this trend is just inevitable?  Is the solution to make more institutions and change the rules of existing ones?  This is a popular solution, but I would disagree.  In the above Bruce Charlton post, Gary Bleasdale commented: 

    "However, as has often been pondered about in this blog by Bruce, these radically changing circumstances oblige us to learn new lessons (if we don't want to fall into absurdity) and quite often this also means 'unlearning' the old ones, which now lead astray."

    The lesson we should unlearn is that formalized institutions are necessary.  The key word here is formalized.  An institution is often thought of as something like a free-floating collection of rules and procedures.  Now, if anyone was to say that so explicity, it would be seen to be absurd.  Nonetheless, that is what is believed implicity by many in the modern West.  But in fact, institutions are made of people and that is the fundamental understanding that we must return to.  St. Antony the Hermit said, when people mocked him because he was uneducated: 

    "Answer me: what comes first, mind or letters?  And which is the cause of which?  Does mind come from letters or letters or lettters from the mind?"

    The point is that thought is more fundamental than writing just as people are more fundamental than institutions.   

    For many years, institutions were connected with their original purpose.  An example would be teacher hired by a group of parents to teach their children or a tutor hired for the same purpose.  A similar example would be using a list to help in shopping for groceries.  The list is an aid for memorization just as the teacher or tutor is an aid to parents who want their children educated.  

    At some point, perhaps around the late 1960s, there was an inflection point where institutions became divorced from their original purpose.  But it's bigger than that.  All institutions came from somewhere.  They grew bigger and became more formalized, but the original motive force for the institutions was the group of people who made them and whatever motivated and brought cohesion to those people.  

    So, it isn't the case that rules changed and that's what the problem is.  What happened is the change in rules and behavior of the institution reflected the change from being an expression of a group's purpose to being an arbitrary creation of rules.

    Here is an analogy:  If something thinks they need a list to go grocery shopping, that it can't be done without a list, then the thing to do is not to make them a better list, it's to help them realize that the groceries come first and the list is not necessary. 

    So, the first step is for us to focus on what is fundamental: on people and their real motivations.  Likewise, the Church and human society (taken in the true sense of the words, not as an abstraction) are fundamentally the people who make them up.  They will not be reformed by rules qua rules.  That is to say, the rules came from the faith, understanding, and motivations of individual people.  So, we must focus on those things if we want to do what is worthwhile.  


  1. @NLR - Of course we agree, but it perhaps needs acknowledging that the proposed change would destroy the modern world - and may well lead to some kind of collapse with (inevitably) a great loss of life.

    However, that is going to happen anyway - and is indeed being deliberately implemented.

    So - on the basis that collapse is coming whether we-personally like it or not; these ideas may be more realistic Now than they have been for many decades.

  2. Very interesting line of thought. It seems that the modern institution is narcissism on the group-scale.

    An individual narcissist uses deception, charisma, self-delusion, and psychological warfare to cultivate the illusion that they are omniscient, omnipotent, beyond all criticism etc.

    All modern organizations and institutions do the same thing - take a bunch of mere humans, stick them inside a façade of omniscience and omnipotence, then pretend that their rule is "objective" and "scientific." This might be the reason that social systems seem to be intrinsically of Satan, why the great system of the world is demonic. The structure itself is a deception, a means by which groups of mere humans claim to be more than they really are.

  3. "The structure itself is a deception, a means by which groups of mere humans claim to be more than they really are."

    You make a good point here. Definitely in the modern world, people are encouraged to think that all a person has is given by the System of the world, rather than being intrinsic to the person.

    This post and the comments:

    highlights that, in talking about manufacturing cars as part of a system vs manufacturing as a craftsman.


The real AI agenda

    On a post  by Wm Briggs, about artificial intelligence, a commenter with the monniker "ItsAllBullshit" writes:           "...