This post represents the culmination of my thinking on the Western mythology subject to date. I imagine I’ll have more to say that fills in the blanks, but for the moment this is the final broad brushstroke.
Before I get into the meat of my post, a recap, so that the placement of this puzzle piece makes sense to anyone who hasn’t read all the previous material.
Review Of Previous Material
The foundational thesis of my thoughts on this matter is that the Bible is not, and was never intended to be, a universal, abstract, “spiritual” document, but rather a culturally-specific, concrete, mundane document. It describes the foundation of Western civilization only, and preserves all those intangible, worldview-related things that cannot be recorded in material artifacts that are devoid of language. It is the why of our Mesopotamian civilizational heritage, beginning in the late Paleolithic just prior to the advent of agriculture, extending across the millennia to encompass each successive iteration of Western civilization, and predicts the entirely foreseeable, only possible logical conclusion of our Western cultural maladaptive pathology: total global collapse.
As a culturally-specific, mundane document, the Bible is applicable to non-Western cultures and civilizations only to the extent that these adopt Western worldviews and lifeways.
The Bible is a thoroughly Jewish work from beginning to end, and it is written from a Jewish perspective. At the risk of being offensively reductionist, for my purposes here the important factor to remember about this Jewish perspective is that it is one of being an outside observer.
The Bible begins in Genesis, written in the third-person observer perspective, with a quick sketch of Paleolithic horticultural life. “Adam” and “Eve,” representing a specific population somewhere in ancient Mesopotamia, experience everyday life as a vast unity and without any concept of an “other.” They then choose, consciously and deliberately, to adopt an alien worldview in which the universe is divided into self/other, good/evil, etc. In other words, they choose to believe that dualism, and the profound separateness in which it is saturated, is real, true, and correct. In their new state of horrific separateness and aloneness, they retreated into abstraction and became the forebears of those who gave birth to gods, took up agriculture, and erected cities, which in time became empires. I call this civilizational vector the “Mesopotamian strain,” and it includes all the empires that arose from the ashes from previous empires that trace their lineage back to Sumeria, including and especially our own.
From the observer point of view, separateness and its result, empire, are vile corruptions that must and will come to an end because these are devouring cancers — they are unsustainable. I believe there’s an argument to be made that the invention of linear time (as opposed to the cyclical concept of time), widely attributed to the ancient Hebrew culture, may have arisen in response to the knowledge that there was a final end somewhere down the line, which a cyclical concept of time could not accommodate.
The Old Testament is the Jewish Tanakh and much of it is dedicated to the struggle of the ancient Hebrews to remain culturally distinct from the dualist- and agricultural-based empires metastasizing the world around them. The New Testament is written around the person Jesus of Nazareth, who made his appearance at the apex of the Roman Empire — which can also be considered the apex of the Mesopotamian strain depending on one’s criteria. Jesus was a Jew who held fast to the original Hebrew concept of Oneness — expressed in Genesis as Elohim, the first name of God, its roots deep in the Paleolithic — and dedicated his life to calling out both Jew and Gentile from the imperial death machine.
The Roman Empire routinely crucified its radical dissidents and Jesus of Nazareth was no exception. In life he was an unremarkable, marginal freak, but his death gave rise to a very remarkable mythology. This mythology married the linearity, Oneness, and expectant finality of Hebrew culture with the cyclical, agricultural renewal of the Mesopotamian strain. The resulting mythos features the final, inevitable death of the imperial cancer, followed by the anomalous resurrection of a socially complex city that operates based on the principle of Oneness, exists in homeostasis with its environment and not in opposition to it, and is “eternal” — in other words, sustainable. In this way the city as a form of social organization is “born again,” redeemed from the dualist corruption in which it was originally born.
Revelation is the last book of the Bible, and this is where we find the description of this new city, the “New Jerusalem,” preceded by chapter upon horrifying chapter detailing the bloody, cataclysmic death of the Mesopotamian strain — the Apocalypse. One would be forgiven for thinking that the Apocalypse was the sole point of Revelation. Certainly the logical-conclusion global collapse is worthy of much ink; however, the truly fascinating stuff picks up after the Apocalypse, and that is what I want to focus on here.
Apocalypse, Judgment, & A Third Testament
Revelation 20 details the Judgment, in which God judges the Antichrist, the False Prophet, Satan, and all the people who willingly participated with these over the course of time and especially during the “Great Tribulation,” those seven years leading up to the Apocalypse itself. For the sake of brevity I won’t quote the whole chapter, but you can read it here.
I think what Revelation 20 symbolizes is a conscious process of reshaping Western culture, going forward after global collapse, to purge it of its pathology and ground it in sanity. Perhaps something like a culture-wide, civilization-wide 12-step process: We are powerless over our drive to accumulate and our lives have become unmanageable. We came to believe that Elohim (Wakan-Tanka, the Tao, Source, the mind inside of Nature) could restore us to sanity. We made the decision to turn our lives and our will over to the mind inside of Nature, and we made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. And so on.
It makes sense to me that if the point of the Bible is to span the Mesopotamian strain, in anticipation of its demise and subsequent redemption, it should include a record of the actual events of that demise. Moreover, those of us who are here now to witness Apocalypse are the best suited to be its chroniclers, and to lay the foundation for the future judging process or even to begin the process now. And there is also the question of what is worth saving from the Mesopotamian strain? What are the criteria for “worthy” and “unworthy” of the Western civilizational lineage?
I think this content and exploration of these questions should constitute a Third Testament of the Bible. That’s easy to say, but a biblical testament is no small project — it took thousands of years to develop the content of the Old Testament, and it took 325 years to develop and collect the content of the New Testament. A Third Testament would take many people many lifetimes, and would require many other people supporting them in the effort provided the project would continue beyond the point of being able to buy and sell.
For some reason it didn’t occur to me for many weeks of thinking about this that what I am looking at here is a monastic tradition or a monastic project.
Lots of people in the doomosphere have spoken of monastic traditions as being something that could carry at least some people through collapse and preserve what is worthy of being preserved of our culture. Monasteries are by definition, however, spiritual in nature, and no one I’ve seen has proposed anything like a solid spiritual context for collapse in general, let alone for a granular monastery here and there. That kind of communal life will fall apart very quickly without some greater understanding to hold it together.
A Third Testament project would provide everything necessary intellectually and culturally not only for the continuation of one, or even many, monasteries indefinitely; it would also provide a bridge from this side of collapse to whatever comes afterward, no matter how long the ensuing Neo Dark Ages, in just the same way the monasteries of Europe bridged the Dark Ages between the Roman Empire and the Renaissance.
This idea’s been kicking around in my head for some time now. The more I think about it, the more I like it.