October 21, 2006 ©Homer Kizer
Commentary — From the Margins
The Two Legs of Western Culture
Most of what American Christians believe is “natural,” the unalterable behavior of the human species—most of what is believed to be behavior patterns created by God and ordained by God is actually cultural, the social constructs originating from the two legs or strands that support the mental fabric of Western civilization. Social constructs are foundational thought paradigms that begin outside of, or beyond conscious thought. They are the girders of the unconscious mind. The Apostle Paul wrote that disciples prior to conversion followed the course of this world, “following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2); thus, in the theology of the Apostle, social constructs originate with the prince of this world. They are the means through which the prince of this world reigns over a humanity consigned to disobedience (Rom 11:32). And they are in place wherever human beings dwell so it is through having control over these foundational thought paradigms that the prince of this world, the spiritual king of Babylon (Isa 14:4-21), actually rules ‘“the children of men”’ as the prophet Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar how he ruled at the pleasure of God (Dan 2:37-38).
The prince of this world doesn’t reign through human governments; nor is the prince of this world looking to come to power through a new world order or through secret societies. He has been in power since Adam and Eve were driven from the garden of God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Rom 6:16). Adam and Eve presented themselves as servants to disobedience, and were thus consigned to disobedience through becoming the bondservants to that old serpent, Satan the devil, the defeated but still reigning prince of this world. And the children of bondservants are the property of their parents’ master; hence, the child of every descendant of the first Adam has been consigned to disobedience from birth. Only the man Jesus, the only Son of Theos (John 3:16), has been born of woman as a child not consigned from birth to disobedience. Only the man Jesus was unaffected by the foundational paradigms through which the prince of this world rules.
The social paradigms of Western civilization are supported by two legs that have long been identified as Hebrew and Greek, or Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman, but such identifications of these legs are overly simplistic and theoretically wrong from the perspective that Satan rules men wherever they dwell through the constructs that inform society. Therefore, social constructs that would have originated from Christ Jesus cannot support paradigms of disobedience; thus, they must be excluded from the paradigms undergirding this present world, a convoluted way of saying that Christians are in this world but not of this world (John 17:11, 15-16). Christians cannot partake of the things of this world and not succumb to the lure of this world: frankly speaking, Christians cannot participate in the politics of this world without returning to being a part of this world. Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world and not from this world (John 18:36), and indeed, it is not for the social constructs of Christ are alien to all that produces disobedience to the laws of God. The constructs of this world all, without exception, produce disobedience. As such, these constructs can be readily identified regardless of where or the context in which they appear.
While one leg of Western civilization has historically been said to have come from the word or Judeo-Christian thought, the other leg stands on the image or the surface of things. And here is where cultural critics and theorists falter: if a person is of Judaism, the visible world in which human beings live conceals an invisible spiritual reality, whereas if the person is of Christ Jesus, the visible creation reveals an invisible supra-dimensional realm that represents true reality, or what is real, with the visible world even now passing away. Thus, Judeo-Christian thought paradigms focus not on things with edges or on the fluidity of darkness and interiors, but on a reality that is either concealed or revealed by things that have exteriors and interiors, that are of themselves meaningless. For example, the marriage relationship of two becoming one is of far greater significance than male and female biology for this two-to-one relationship reveals the Christological relation of Theos and Theon (John 1:1-2) as seen in the Tetragrammaton YHWH that can now be read as /YH/+/WH/. Elohim equates to [El + ah] + [El + ah], or [Theos + Pneuma] + [Theon + Pneuma]. So Yah or /YH/ = [Theos + Pneuma], and /WH/ = [Theon + Pneuma]. And realizing disciples of Christ Jesus are in the representational position to Him that He held to the Father (they are in the subordinate position) will cause an elevation of the marriage relationship and an equality within human marriages if—and here the disciple reveals whether he or she is of the world or of Christ—the person does not see physical interiors and exteriors but sees the things of God. In the foundational constructs of Christian thought, the fluids of female discharges represent life sloughed away, thereby becoming a metaphor for disobedience [the bloody rag]; and the male gaze represents spiritual blindness.
The other historically identified leg (the Greek strand) of western civilization focuses on objects. This Greek strand began in Egypt where the surface and the interior of objects were co-joined as in honeycombed pyramids that were funeral tombs precisely oriented with celestial bodies, but when this strand was adopted by the Greeks, the surface was separated from the interior, and according to Camille Paglia, this separation was represented by the gods Apollo and Dionysus.
Greek converts to Christianity in Asia Minor fellowships left the Apostle Paul while he yet lived (2 Tim 1:15), and with leaving Paul, these converts left the foundation that is Christ (1 Cor 3:10-11), laid in the heavenly city of Jerusalem by the Apostle. They could not escape the social constructs that informed Hellenist cultures; they could escape being Greek. Yet, it is the practices and writings to these same errant Greek fellowships that left Paul that endtime disciples who practice grammatico-historical exegesis diligently search to determine sound doctrine, a situation that would be comical if the stakes were not loss of spiritual life through the second death. Literally, the stakes for every Christian are everlasting life with Christ Jesus, or eternal damnation, which isn’t separation from God but being tossed into the lake of fire without the perishable body having put on imperishability; without mortality putting on immortality. Jesus said not to be surprised when some disciples (those who have done good) are resurrected to life and some are resurrected to judgment or to damnation (John 5:28-29); therefore, it should not surprise disciples that some will keep the precepts of the law (cf. Rom 2:26; Matt 5:19) while others will continue to practice the same disobedience or lawlessness they had pursued before receiving the Holy Spirit (Matt 7:21-23). Those disciples who continue in disobedience have teachers that today quote from Paul—“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace of lawlessness “ (Rom 6:14)—just as those Greek fellowships that left Paul quoted from his epistles. But what is the context of the Apostle’s quotes:
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their [mortal bodies] passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.… For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Rom 6:12-13, 19)
The person who presents his or her members [the person’s fleshly body] to sin or lawlessness (1 John 3:4) makes him or herself a slave to sin … again, the state of every person descended from Adam is as a slave to sin, for God consigned all to sin so that He could have mercy upon all (Rom 11:32). But this state changes when the Father draws the person from the world (John 6:44, 65) through spiritual birth. The person is set free from sin (Rom 8:2) if the person [the old self] is crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6-7). The old self dies on the cross—but the person who dies on the cross dies slowly from suffocation, and if the old self dies slowly, continuing to live for years in the same tent of flesh as the born of Spirit new self, the infant son of God is “spoiled” by the decay and disbelief of the old self. This son of God will inevitably continue to present his members [the flesh] to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, thereby voluntarily giving to sin what sin had no dominion over.
The liberated person who chooses to transgress the commandments in even one point breaks the law of God and makes this son of God a servant of sin and subject to the lake of fire. This new son of God, still in the womb of Isaac, makes himself into part of the hated son of promise (cf. Gal 4:21-31; Rom 9:6-13; Mal 1:2-3; Gen 25:21-26) against whom sin is not today reckoned because of Grace and the possibility that this yet unborn hated son will repent, cleansing himself from what is dishonorable (2 Tim 2:20-21).
The liberated person who lives by every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4) will, in trying to keep the precepts of the law, accidentally transgress the law, but these transgressions are also covered by Grace, the righteousness of Christ Jesus. This is the beloved son of promise, deceitful by birth but one who prevails with God through wrestling with the laws of God in a society that supports and actually encourages lawlessness. This is, again, the deceitful son of promise that comes to perfection through much striving against the social constructs that inform society.
Returning to the liberated disciple who chooses to transgress the least of the commandments, the Sabbath commandment, the Grace that is today extended to this disciple by he or she presently being in the womb of the last Eve will be withdrawn when the judgment of this disciple is revealed: the disciple who does not attempt to keep the commandments remains under the law and condemned by it, for this person did not present his or her members to God as instruments for righteousness while the disciple physically lived. Thus, to be under Grace when the judgment of the born of Spirit disciple is revealed, the disciple must present his or her members to God as instruments for righteousness, meaning that the disciple must earnestly attempt to keep the precepts of the law. By faith, this disciple must mentally leave spiritual Babylon and journey to spiritual Jerusalem, a city with theological rather than geographical coordinates. And once in the heavenly city, the disciple must remain there as a spiritual Levite, part of the royal priesthood, holy to God (1 Pet 2:9)—the disciple must begin to live as a spiritual Judean.
Spiritual Babylon also does not have geographical coordinates, but is the single kingdom of the world that becomes the Father’s and His Son’s (cf. Rev 11:15; Dan 7:9-14) when Satan is cast from heaven (Rev 12:9-10). So a disciple cannot physically escape from spiritual Babylon, but must mentally leave when liberated by spiritual birth—and as Pharaoh went after Israel to recover his liberated slaves, Satan goes after disciples singularly and collectively to recover his former mental bondservants.
Living by faith as a spiritual Judean means rejecting the Greek social constructs upon which Western culture is built, and here is where the greater Church ran into problems in the middle of the 1st-Century CE: living as a spiritual Judean calls for rejecting what the eye sees. The Apostle John wrote,
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions—is not of the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of the God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
In so doing, John creates a correspondence between desires of the eyes and desires of the flesh, a correspondence similar to the one that Camille Paglia, a contemporary [and very secular] art and literary critic, finds in the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus. The desires of the eyes now corresponds to the surface of things [and people], and to the gaze that transforms people in objects and personifies objects (Sexual Personae 37). In Paglia’s argument for objects and artifacts belonging to Apollo (SP 30), she writes, “There is nothing less erotic than a nudist colony. Desire is intensified by ritual limitations. Hence the mask, harness, and chains of sadomasochism … decadence is a disease of the eye, a sexual intensification of artistic voyeurism” (SP 36) that occurs in the late phase of a culture.
Western civilization doesn’t stand on a Hebrew and on a Greek leg, but on two Greek legs upon which a little Christianity has been tracked as muddy [and bloody] footprints.
Paglia also writes, “Judeo-Christianity has failed to control the pagan western eye. Our thought processes were formed in Greece and inherited by Rome, whose language remains the official voice of the Catholic church. Intellectual inquiry and logic are pagan. Every inquiry is preceded by a roving eye; and once the eye begins to rove, it cannot be morally controlled” (SP 33). And by this criterion, amoral scientific inquiry is high paganism, with scientists the priests of the objectifying gaze. Paglia further writes [same paragraph], “Judaism, due to its fear of the eye, put a taboo on visual representation.… Christianity followed suit, until it drifted into pictorialism to appeal to the pagan masses.” Thus, eye-intense paganism, “based on cultic exhibitionism, in which sex and sadomasochism are joined” extends directly from Roman statuary to Hollywood cinema, a “sexual showing, a pagan flaunting,” the restoration of “pagan antiquity’s cultic exhibitionism. Spectacle is a pagan cult of the eye” (SP 33).
Paglia’s argument is anticipated by the Apostle Paul who writes,
I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians [non-Greek Gentiles], both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.… And since they [upon whom the wrath of God is revealed] did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled will all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanders, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Rom 1:14-15, 28-32)
What Paul lists are the crimes from which Western society provides a slim degree of protection by social contract, relegating these crimes to spectacle on large and small screens. They are the diseased desires of the flesh and of the eye that give birth to “beauty as power and power as beauty” (SP 59), the apt description of female and male relationships in modern America, with the juxtaposition of a feminized nature using her beauty as power against masculine aggression that attempts to contain that which has given him birth producing the observable but irreconcilable differences between the chthonian womb of sexual experience and the erect church spire, a conceptual phallic symbol that has not yet been “softened” and made impudent by the silver screen. Both the spectacle and the spire become pagan extensions of edges and the erect line separated by unbridgeable distance. Thus, when the spire turns to spectacle as in the Left Behind series of books and movies, the crimes from which society provided a degree of protection are incorporated into the mores of the prevailing power, turning the power ugly but also unbelievable. The silver screen spire includes and excludes through cultic ritual controlled by human beings, thereby imbuing personal decisions [making a decision for Christ through praying the sinners’ prayer] with the life and death powers of God, making human utterance the pinnacle of evolutionary nature. Instead of the spire prevailing over nature, the silver screen transformed the castrated spire into the visual image of the invisible God, thus transforming a theology of lawlessness into lawless spectacle. In Evangelical Christianity’s attempt to appeal to [and convert] the pagan masses, it reveals to observers its pagan roots that were somewhat concealed through having made the Books its primary idol in the 16th-Century … Evangelical Christianity is a modern derivative of the ancient Apollonian sky cult that feared the chthonian underworld of fluids, grottos, bowers, and wombs—a fear has continued the 5th-Century CE assignment of personhood to the invisible fluidity of Pneuma ’Agion [the Holy Spirit], an assignment of humanlike characteristics that was an apparently unconscious attempt to confine and contain what is like wind. But Apollonian sky cults can never contain fluids and merriment even though many Evangelical fellowships forbid any consumption of alcoholic beverages and dancing. These stern fellowships, however, have declined in cultural significance as spectacle turned to sporting events and “tailgating parties,” with the annually-played Super Bowl becoming the spectacle successor to feeding Christians to lions in pagan Rome’s Coliseum.
Believing that praying the sinners’ prayer directs the otherwise hell-bound immortal soul skyward to heaven gives to the person imagined control over the person’s fate, and transfers to the person the power to bestow everlasting life onto him or herself, thereby determining ahead of time (before when judgments are revealed [1 Cor 4:5]) what, according to Scripture, cannot be known until Christ Jesus returns as the Messiah. In this pagan belief paradigm, the chthonian underworld is the terrifying default state of every person; it is the woman’s world of pain and fire, the inner hearth upon which every soul that hasn’t uttered the exclusionary prayer roasts forever in flames not quite hot enough to consume and destroy. And God in this belief paradigm is made in man’s image, with His ability to judge constrained by human utterance of the sinners’ prayer; God is no more than Apollo was. In a very real sense, this belief paradigm elevates humankind over God through using Scripture to support God being the servant of men. But God is also the socially comfortable ruling class, blonde with fair-complexion, that allegedly exists to serve the darker featured downtrodden by keeping them from being overcome by the flames of hell. So God becomes the servant that reigns over humanity consigned to disobedience—in this pagan belief paradigm, the prince of the power of the air [the prince of this world] is the deity to whom sinners’ prayers are uttered.
Greek gods were not beasts as were Egyptian and Mesopotamian gods, but intelligent men and women who lived forever in undiminished beauty—they were like Renaissance paintings of the man Jesus, an androgynous image that probably better represents the Adversary than any Jew so ordinary in features that He could disappear into a crowd. The prophet Isaiah wrote concerning the One who would be wounded for Israel’s transgressions, “[H]e had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (53:2). Renaissance artists painted their version of Apollo and called their sky deity Jesus so that the pagans whom they were attempting to convert would adopt the civilizing constructs underpinning a culture based on Greek thought.
When the Apollonian leg of Western civilization asserts itself, androgyny prevails. The form of young boys becomes the pinnacle of beauty. But when the Dionysian leg prevails, transsexual behavior comes out of the closet and begins to appear as spectacle: life becomes performance art, with what had been hidden from, or suppressed by the Apollonian leg gaining not only public acceptable but advocacy with sexual transformation becoming the theatrical merging of nature with what has been man-made.
The cultural dominancy of these separated but once co-joined Greek legs produces a simultaneous repudiation of, and surrender to nature, which bestows upon humankind biological attributes of sex that are physically embraced [Dionysus] and mentally rejected [Apollo]. Homosexuality is the triumph of the mind [the imagination] over nature and as such is of Apollo, whereas transvestism that results in the sexual personae of male lesbianism, an apparent oxymoronic expression once ridiculed by the radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, is nature triumphing over the imagination, thereby imprisoning the male psyche in female experience, and is of Dionysus. Although both the male homosexual and male lesbian will reject all insistence that anything but nature gave to them the sexual persona they enact as biologically contrary performances—both will be correct in their assertions that they were psychologically created as they are—both fail to grasp what humanistic psychology has failed to explain: the mental topology of human beings is the territory over which the asexual prince of this world and his angels reign. Thus, both sexual personae are as natural as is war.
Paglia writes, “Ritual transvestism, then [in ancient Greece] and now, is a drama of female dominance. There are religious meanings to all female impersonation, in nightclubs or bedroom. A woman putting on men’s clothes merely steals social power. But a man putting on woman’s clothes is searching for God” (SP 90). Ritual transvestism has become Christianized in carnival, whether in Rio de Janeiro at Carnival or in New Orleans at Mardi Gras with the high and the low mingling together in temporarily assumed male or female personae. Thus, carnival is a pagan search for God that embraces spectacle while rejecting the word, the invisibly controlled modulations of breath. Carnival is the exhalation of the Dionysian swamp of menstrual discharge—the sloughing away of unfulfilled life—in riotous color and costume before fasting, during which the Apollonian mind rules over the flesh. Carnival is surrender to the decadence that comes from the diseased desires of the eye and the flesh, the decadence that immediately precedes the end of an age, the decadence that existed in Noah’s day and that will exist immediately prior to the seven endtime years of tribulation. Carnival temporarily rejoins the Dionysian with the Apollonian.
Paglia adds, “Chastity is always the triumph of Apollo over Dionysus. It is the sanctity of the object reclaimed from the dank, clingy liquidity of chthonian nature” (SP 94). Therefore—and truly stated—the emergence of spire-driven Christianity from today’s culturally dominant carnivalesque spectacle during the first 220 days of the seven endtime years will not be the Christianity of Christ Jesus asserting itself, but the Christianity of the Apollonian Cross attempting to stave off the total collapse of Western culture as the vast majority of Christians flock like starlings to the belfry of the spire. Western societies, stressed beyond their breaking points by the Second Passover slaughter of firstborns [a slaughter recognized as the work of God], will return to austere chastity, but only a few disciples will return to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The play and protest of environmental activists and war protesters will overnight disappear as knees are bent and heads bowed; individual identities will disappear as people become objects, living or dead. Dionysian emotions will be overwhelmed by the massive loss of life that will occur on the Second Passover, a loss that will transform yesterday’s revelers into cold, hard, Apollonian tyrants intent upon theological perfection. Theirs will be the only acceptable form of worship: Christianity will only consist of the belief paradigms they support. Lines will be drawn. Believers categorized. Heretics will be hunted and slain with such clarity of purpose that if these days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved alive (Matt 24:22).
Greek culture overwhelmed early Christians: the reviled Circumcision Faction consciously resisted Apollonian image-making and objectification of the invisible God, but in doing so, these converted Jews succumbed to the darkness of Dionysian nature that concealed the spiritual things of God from disciples. The Circumcision Faction required disciples to bloody what was most hidden from public view in the ritual mangling of the flesh that fit with the violence of Dionysian sparagmos. The Apostle Paul truly wished that those who caused Hellenistic converts in Galatia to begin to circumcise themselves would mangle their own penises [would castrate themselves] (Gal 5:12).
Today, Apollonian image-making and Dionysian mother cults continue to exert control over the Christianity of the Orthodox and Catholic churches—and somewhat surprisingly, in a moderated form, over the Arian Mormon church, with its temple rituals that only initiates can observe. Secret rituals and secret societies begin in darkness and flourish in darkness: they exist without definition as individuals shrink into faceless groups with influence undefined by boundaries. They are Dionysian; they are socially transvestite organizations, female bodies with male muscles and aggression clad in gray flannel that is transparent in the light of day, leaving nothing to see and nothing that cannot be imagined. And the greater Christian Church is the most secret of all secret societies, for even God cannot be certain who is genuine and who isn’t until He disrobes this woman through empowerment by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the seven endtime years. Then what each Christian is within the person will be revealed by the actions of the liberated disciple. The empowered mind will rule over nature, thus producing a tripart Christological schism represented by the geography of ancient Eden, with Assyria being the domain of Unitarians, Judea the home of Binitarians, and Egypt the land of Trinitarians. The kings of the North [Assyria] and of the South [Egypt] shall battle each other for control of the Promised Land—the king of the North shall prevail until broken by Christ Jesus fighting on a day of battle.
The two legs of Western culture stand on shifting sand: one leg is Apollonian science coupled to the Christianity of icons, images, image-making, and divisions into denominations. The other leg is Dionysian spectacle coupled to secret societies, especially the one that foregrounds reverence for the mother and child cult. The Christianity of the Apostle Paul ceased having a cultural effect before the 1st-Century ended: with Rome sacking Jerusalem (ca 70 CE), burning the temple, and taking Jews into slavery, the so-called Hebraic leg of Western culture was swallowed by asexual and transsexual Greeks. Within a second generation of Christian converts, no Christianity remained: prayers to an invisible God were focused through visible statuary and the fire of lighted candles. In the bowels of early persecution a new religion emerged, one that appropriated the name of Christ and the trappings of paganism. This new religion took Christ to the world, and made sure that the gates of hell would not prevail against a fragile book, seldom read and even more seldom believed. But this new religion was destined for destruction … Christ Jesus is the alpha and omega of the Greek language. His ministry is to the first and to the last of the age. Read the gospels and place the recorded events into their chronological context: the gospels reveal how His ministry began and what happened during the last few days of His ministry. Almost nothing is recorded about what happened during the years between the beginning and the end. Likewise, Christianity started well, with the Apostle Paul laying the foundation for the house of God in the heavenly city of Jerusalem, but as Paul writes to Timothy, all in Asia left him while he was a prisoner in Rome. And Christianity will finish well, with the remnant of today’s Church that keep the commandments and have the spirit of prophecy leading the third part of humankind into the kingdom of God. But in the centuries between Paul in the 1st-Century and Philadelphia in the 21st-Century, the Christian Church has been ruled by the sun-cult’s Apollonian imagery and by the formlessness of Dionysian darkness that sports well-suckled paps from which comes milky sola scriptura.
What apparently cannot be helped is that most Christians—by far the vast majority—will never worship either the Father or the Son in truth, but will continue to worship the trace of Christianity that tracked mud onto the pure paganism of Apollonian and Dionysian cults. These Christians will be accepted by God if they do well, what Elohim told Cain (Gen 4:7); they will be accepted if they keep the precepts of the law by faith. Their hope remains viable, but only so until they are liberated from indwelling sin and death. Then, their present lawlessness will send them into the lake of fire, for they are today the hated son of promise, spiritual Esau, the son who does not value his birthright enough to strive for it against seemingly impossible odds. These odds, however, only pertain to what can be seen by the eye and felt with the hand.
Striving against the social constructs of the world begins with keeping the 7th-day Sabbath.
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Paglia, Camille. Sexual Personae. New York: Vantage, 1990.
"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."