Absolute Comfort Corrupts Absolutely
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “The magnanimous is the opposite then of the suffering. The point of the suffering is that it’s to remind you that you will die. I will die. What happens after that? You’re just food for worms, brother. That’s all it is. What’s the difference between you as food for worms and you as not food for worms?” Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: So let me take you here to The Imaginative Conservative, to a guest here on this program, Joseph Pearce. Pearce has nailed it, nailed it. “Absolute Comfort Corrupts Absolutely.”
My men went on and presently met the Lotus-Eaters, nor did these Lotus-Eaters have any thought of destroying our companions, but they only gave them lotus to taste of. But any of them who ate the honey-sweet fruit of lotus was unwilling to take any message back, or to go away, but they wanted to stay there with the lotus-eating people, feeding on lotus, and forget the way home.
Mike: Those of you that are literature fans instantly knew that that was Homer from The Odyssey. You want a sign of the times? Raise your hand out there if you knew where that quotation came from. I can’t see you, most of you whose hands aren’t up, 96 percent of you whose hands aren’t up. I can’t see you. It’s okay. I’m going to read another quote that Pearce puts at the top of his piece. Let’s see how many hands go up. “I have become comfortably numb. It’s the exact opposite number. We had 96 percent not voting on The Odyssey quote and we have 96 percent voting on the Pink Floyd quote. A sign of the times, Spock? Pearce writes:
Shortly after Odysseus and his men leave Troy, heading home after the interminable siege and ultimate destruction of that City, they land on the island of the Lotus-Eaters. After the horrors of war, with its blood-letting and blood lust, these peaceable folk seem very attractive, at least at first gland. They remind us perhaps of proto-hippies, choosing “peace” and “love” over war and hatred. They certainly seem attractive to Odysseus’ war-weary men who, like disillusioned veterans returning from Vietnam, embrace a lifestyle based on the use of soporific drugs. They desire to be “comfortably numb.” The problem with such a lifestyle choice, as the perennially wise Homer reminds us, is that those who choose it “forget the way home.” The problem is not primarily the drug itself, nor is it the apathy that it induces; the problem is that it distracts us from our ultimate purpose, which is to get home. To reiterate, the problem is not principally the drug, nor the drug-induced torpor; it is the distraction.
This point is made clear when we realize that we can substitute all manner of other things for the Lotus-plant. Other natural and synthetic drugs will spring to mind but so will drug-free addictive pursuits, such as pornography or the obsessive-compulsive way in which many of us engage in social media. The things with which we choose to distract ourselves are variable and therefore in the philosophical sense accidental; the thing which is common to all these multifarious means of distraction is the distraction itself, which is therefore, literally and philosophically, of the essence. [Mike: Then he explains this experience that he had in prison, which he explained to us when he was on the show.]
So where is this discourse on distraction leading? Does it have a point or is it nothing more than a distraction itself? The point, to which I hope it points, is Home.
Homer, in his own inimitable way, shows us in the character and voyage of Odysseus an image of homo viator, the man on a journey who experiences the adventure of life as a means of getting Home. To be sure, Homer, as a pagan, does not have the same vision of Home that the Christian has, though his vision of the after-life, as experienced by Odysseus, is much closer to Heaven than many realize and much closer than anything perceived by our own deplorably relativistic Zeitgeist. Odysseus suffers many distractions, including love-lorn goddesses promising him immortality to love-lorn virgins offering him marriage and worldly power, but he ultimately resists and rejects everything that will keep him from his ultimate goal of getting home. Indeed, in an uncanny premonition of the Christian Way of the Cross, Odysseus embraces poverty and humiliation at the hands of the most contemptuous of people as the necessary precondition of his getting Home and claiming his reward.
For the true pagan and the true Christian alike, the way home is paved with the necessity of spurning the transient comforts offered by worldly distraction. [Mike: Basically, Pearce is suggesting that you can secede, withdraw your consent for these worldly distractions.] The choice for all of us is whether to remain comfortably numb, losing our way as we pursue nothing but panem et circenses (bread and circuses), or whether we choose to remain uncomfortably alive, finding our way as we pursue nothing but the Via Crucis and the Via Dolorosa, knowing that the Way of the Cross and the Way of Sorrows is the Way Home.
Mike: This is from yesterday’s Pile of Prep. I think you have to actually read something like that. You can hear me read it to you, but you need the sensory experience of actually reading something like that to have it totally sink in. Audio can’t always transmit everything. Sometimes you have to read. Video can’t always translate. [mocking] “I don’t need to read the book, I’ll watch the movie.” Well, you’ll probably get a lot more out of the book. To read that is, I think, to delve into something that people in Western civilization today — this probably expands all the way into the Near East as well, meaning the Orient — do not experience and refuse to experience.
I read an essay about five or six years ago on this show about how you can see the removal of modern American man from the way of life that his forefathers lived through the advent of substance. What I mean by the advent of substance is, through the advent of medications, all the things you can medicate yourself with. There’s no ailment that an American can suffer that can’t be fixed by some over-the-counter or prescribed remedy. If you’ve got a twitchy leg, we can fix it. If you’ve got a fungus under a toenail, we can fix it. There’s no suffering, yet it is suffering that tempers your mind, your heart, and your soul into reminding you — this is what suffering does. I realize some of this stuff is deep. You may have to listen to this a time or two or just turn it off and go listen to whatever else you like.
Suffering, especially physical suffering — this doesn’t mean you go looking for it, although you can practice mortifications. I do it but that’s just me. Suffering reminds you that you are inside a temporal body. This is a physical body. What’s on Ben Franklin’s tombstone? Something, something, “food for worms.” What happens when you die? Your soul leaves your body. People like to use the word from time to time to describe people that have done heroic things as being magnanimous. If we deconstruct the declensions or conjugations that the Romans put together to create the word magnanimous — it is a Latin word — what is it? Magna, meaning great, super; anima, meaning soul. Someone who’s magnanimous is then what, class? A great soul.
Someone may say: Oh, that was a magnanimous thing to do. Let me give you an example of something that could be magnanimous. You could go to a contest for a charity event. To get people to go to the charity event, they may have offered a prize for the person who won the event.
Say it was a race or something to that effect. You could win the race, win the prize money, take the trophy, and then give the prize money back to the organization that was raising money in the first place. You say: Take it. It’s for the charity. I don’t want it. I don’t need it. They need it more than I. That would be something that would be magnanimous if you did that.
The magnanimous is the opposite then of the suffering. The point of the suffering is that it’s to remind you that you will die. I will die. What happens after that? You’re just food
for worms, brother. That’s all it is. What’s the difference between you as food for worms and you as not food for worms? You as not food for worms, again, magnanimous, there was a soul in there. Where did it go?
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According to some of you, there wasn’t one there to start with and it didn’t go anywhere. According to others, if you did one certain thing, you went straight to the pearly gates. According to the Gospels of St. John, unless certain things were done — or the Gospel of Matthew or the writings of St. Paul — you didn’t pass through the narrow gate. You might have gone to the place in between the narrow gate and hell known as purgatory. If you ponder that thought often enough, I guarantee you you’ll get more out of the rest of your life than you ever will obsessing over who voted for what or whom. Class dismissed.
End Mike Church Show Transcript