Ultimate Authority Flight From Reality - RR101E09

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: A Valid Epistemology
Course: Course - Epistemology
Subject: Subject:Philosophy
Lesson#: 10
Length: 0:29:20
TapeCode: RR101E10
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Epistemology(9).jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


[Rushdoony] Let us begin with prayer. O Lord, our God who art our sufficiency, and who in all things dost make us more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. We come into Thy presence mindful of the riches of Thy grace. We thank Thee, our God, that in all things Thou dost sustain, bless, and prosper us. We pray, our Father, for Thy blessing upon these Thy servants, that Thou wouldst bless them in their studies, in their ministry, and in their homes, that they may rejoice in Your service, and in all things show forth Thy glory, Thy majesty, and Thy saving truth. Bless us now in our studies, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

We saw yesterday that whereas philosophers claim they follow a scientific method and that theirs is an objective way to a truth that is open to verification and testing by all men, they have nonetheless implicit, a doctrine of infallibility. As we push one system after another to its presuppositions, we find then, very clearly, setting forth somewhere a hidden doctrine of man’s infallible word. We saw in particular that Frothingham, over a century ago (about a century and 20 or 30 years ago) set forth the central tenets of modernism. That the spirit of the age, at any moment, gives the word for the age, and man must be in tune with the existential moment, with the truth of the moment, or he is out of touch with reality. Frothingham held to the infallibility of the historical moment, so that as men gave themselves to the spirit of the age, they gave themselves the truth of spirit. We saw also that Sartre went so far as to say that because infallibility rests with autonomous man and his self-expression, the drunk was beyond criticism in that the drunk who drank himself into a stupor was doing that which was right for him at that moment, and since there was no law or any God beyond himself, he is beyond criticism. Clearly, in all these me we considered, there is a doctrine of infallibility, but a different doctrine from that of Scripture, and this is necessarily so. Humanism has, and it must have of necessity, a “for the moment” infallibility; “for the moment”. And this is why modernism is what it is. It cannot say that here is an unchanging and eternal truth, God, word, what have you. Because then, if there is something here that is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then man as he moves along in the plane of history, of time, is always in every age, under the criticism of the eternal God and the eternal Word. Man therefore loses his infallibility, he loses his own autonomy, he ceases to be his own god. Therefore, the only infallible word for man is a “for the moment” infallibility. If man is to be infallible and ultimate, he must always speak the free word for the moment. [00:05:39]

Now according to von Fersen, F-E-R-S-E-N, I quote,...[edit]

Now according to von Fersen, F-E-R-S-E-N, I quote, “existential philosophy determines the worth of knowledge not in relation to truth but according to its biological value contained in the pure data of consciousness when unaffected by emotions, volitions, and social prejudices. Both the source and the elements of knowledge are sensations as they exist in our consciousness. There is no difference between the external and internal worlds, as there is no natural phenomenon which could not be examined psychologically; it has its existence in states of the mind.” Unquote. In other words, von Ferson says, there is nothing out there that we can examine, every experience we have of the so-called outer world is something that can be examined psychologically, it has its existence in states of the mind. Therefore, he says, existentialism determines the work of a philosophy or a way of life or anything in terms of the fact, does it arise out of the pure biology of the moment? In other words, am I determined not by what my parents taught me, or the church taught me, or school taught me, or what you people think of me, but what my biological needs are for the moment. You should not be surprised then that we are rearing up a generation of barbarians. Whatever you want for the moment, whether it’s food or sex or anything else, you take it. This is why the cynics of Greece, school of philosophy, applied this world by copulating openly in the streets, and indulging in any and every kind of act openly, because they felt that otherwise, they would cease to be philosophically consistent. What the moment required, you did on the moment. This is existentialism as it is logical. Only as man frees himself from all, save the existential moment, can he express the infallible truth of the moment, because there is no infallibility beyond the moment. There is no tie, save to his own being or his own biology. You do therefore your own thing, in terms of whatever your appetites and your lusts dictate, or as Dr. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy put it in a very brilliant book, Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man, a tremendous history of the Western world from a sociological point of view. I knew Dr. Rosenstock-Huessy, he was never an orthodox Christian, although he moved from a position of radicalism to a conservative and semi-Christian point of view, but his thesis was that man was trying to move in the modern age from Christ to Adam, from supernatural man to natural man after Rousseau, and the more he expressed himself naturalistically, in terms of his appetites, his lusts, his sins, the closer he was to being existentially true and infallible. [00:10:03]

As a result, we have seen in modern literature, television...[edit]

As a result, we have seen in modern literature, television and so on, a change in the idea of the hero. The hero was once the great, the noble figure, then he became somebody not quite so noble, someone from the lower classes, then he became someone who was (in terms of old standards) a villain. Then the hero became a convict or a pervert, and in everyday life we’ve followed through on this. We’ve progressively lionized and defended someone going down, down, down on the social scale. As one negro told me once, he said when they finally got around to paying any attention to us it wasn’t to me or any of the likes of me who are Christians and hard-working. The only kind of black man they like is the one that I detest, and he was right. Because, you see, he did not represent the existential spirit. He was being governed by the Protestant work ethic and the Protestant faith, therefore he was the enemy as much as white. The hero for the white liberal and the hero for more and more of his people, was the man who moved in terms of the moment, his existential moment, his biology. And so, we saw the convicts up in New York lionized as revolutionary heroes, and we will go lower and lower as we pursue the whole cause of existentialism in search of our heroes. There’s a book on the sands, paperback, written by a Swedish doctor and psychiatrist, Lars {?}, the thesis of which is we have been so vicious, we have been hostile to all perverts, and so he wants us a society in which all perverts will get a subsidy at the expense of these Christians who have been such nasty people and so prejudiced, so that everyone from the homosexual to the sadist, the masochist, the necrophiliac, every perversion without exception will have a state subsidy to subsidize him in his crimes, and no doubt the next step will be to make us the victims. Now this has been seriously proposed, intensely, passionately proposed, and there is no doubt about his thesis that the enemy is Christianity, it must be destroyed. It stands in way of the existential expression; doing your own thing. [00:13:24]

As a result, you have a new word, a new infallible...[edit]

As a result, you have a new word, a new infallible word, it is the word of flux; flux, change, giving oneself totally to the moment. This is the ‘truth’ of our time. And so it is, every moment, the thing the captures the spirit of the day is the newest, the furthest out. You have a new school of art almost every single year. You have a new hero regularly. For a while, Daniel Bell in the ‘50’s, and then he gave way, and then you have Marcuse, and Marcuse is now fading, and as you read some of the journals, some of the guess work is, who is going to be the new figure, the ‘in’ figure. Some say it is Eliade. Who knows? But it’s a continual word of flux, and the man who comes along and expresses something for the moment that they all feel is the infallible truth of the moment, then he’s passé. Thus, because the word of flux is the new infallible word, the more radically man gives himself to change and to novelty, the more infallible he is, and the closer he is to the word of flux and change, the more he finds a response in the hearts of existential men everywhere. In fact, one of the ironies of our time is that at least in one case, where an artist who was totally dedicated to the word of flux and then committed suicide, made everything that he did twice as popular; much more valuable, because in his life, in his actions, in his philosophy, he was so totally dedicated to flux. He demonstrated it, even in the way he died. Therefore, he was all the more a prophetic figure to very many and his works are very important today. But for us, because we believe in the eternal, the unchanging God, the Word of God is unchanging and it is true for all times and infallibly so, because the God of Scripture is sovereign and unchanging. I am the Lord, I change not. Revelation 4:6 declares that there are no dark corners in the universe; God sees the beginning and the end, every aspect of being, all things are naked and open to His sight. Potentiality and actuality are one in God. His government and His counsel are total. As our Lord said, “are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father, but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10, verses 29 through 31. A God who is sovereign and omnipotent can, as we said on another occasion, only speak infallibly. He has total knowledge and total power, and the only word He can speak is of necessity the infallible word. And this is why only the sovereign God can speak the infallible word. The only alternative to it is to say every word of flux in infallible, in which case you have every existential moment made infallible. The Word of God, therefore, is not only infallible, but it is self-attesting. Van Til has stated this very well, and I quote, “There would be no reasonably reliable method of identifying the Word of God in human history unless human history is controlled by God. The doctrine of Scripture as self-attesting presupposes that whatsoever comes to pass in history does so by virtue of the plan and counsel of the living God. If everything happens by virtue of the plan of God then all created reality, every aspect of it, is inherently revelational of God and of his plan. All facts of history are what they are ultimately because of what God intends and makes them to be. Even that which is accomplished in human history through the instrumentality of men still happens by virtue of the plan of God. God tells the stars by their names. He identifies by complete description. He knows exhaustively. He knows exhaustively because He controls completely. Of such a God it is that the Bible speaks. So it is once again a matter of going about in circles. It is impossible to attain to the idea of such a God by speculation independently of Scripture. It has never been done and is inherently impossible. Such a God must identify himself. Such a God it is, and only such a God, who identifies all the facts of the universe. And in identifying all the facts of the universe he sets these facts in relation to one another.” [00:20:26]

When we come to man’s infallible word...[edit]

When we come to man’s infallible word; the word of flux, it is self-attesting only to man himself. So that, with regard to the word of flux, man can only say well it’s true for me, I believe in what I’m doing, you may not like it but I believe, and I’m going to do my own thing. It is only self-attesting to him for the moment. When that moment passes, it ceases to be self-attesting for him, because while the word for the moment may be I’m going to get drunk, the word for tomorrow morning may be that I have a terrible hangover and why did I do it? Both words are equally infallible for the moment; self-attesting for the moment. And so man is in total absurdity. There’s no wonder that he has to conclude that his only philosophy is a ‘philosophy of the absurd’. It’s a good term which he has coined for himself. Van Til has said, and I quote, “There can therefore be no fact which is ultimately out of accord with the system of truth set forth in Scripture. Every fact in the universe is what it is just because of the place that it has in the system. Moreover, to say that every fact in the world is what it is because of its place in the system of truth set forth in Scripture is to establish the legitimacy of the Christian principle of discontinuity. The system of truth set forth in Scripture cannot be fully understood by the creature. The point here is not that preachers who are sinners are unwilling to believe the truth, the point is that man as finite cannot understand God his Maker in an exhaustive manner. And as he cannot understand God exhaustively, so he cannot understand anything related to God in an exhaustive way. And all things are related to God. The objections against the phenomena of Scripture would therefore be legitimate if those who make them could show the positive foundation on which they stand in making them. Now it is of course true that many of the sciences do not, like theology proper, concern themselves directly with the question of religion. Granting this it remains a matter of great significance that ultimately all the facts of the universe are either what they are because of their relation to the truth set forth in Scripture or they are not. In every discussion about every fact, therefore, it is the two principles, that of the believer in Scripture and that of the non-Christian, that stand over against one another. Both principles are totalitarian. Both claim all the facts. And it is in the light of this point that the relation of the Bible as the infallible word of God and the ‘facts’ of science and history must finally be understood.” The word of flux can do nothing about reality. It cannot account for anything except itself and the existential moment. And precisely the claim we must press forward and bring to the knowledge of epistemological man is the implications of his position. He is trapped in the word of flux. Sartre does see this, von Fersen does see this, but the student and the others who follow this and who repeat and act out his premises are not fully self-consciously aware of it, and we must point to them that they are walking blindfolded to the edge of a precipice. [00:24:53]

Mind in man cannot know mind in God exhaustively, but...[edit]

Mind in man cannot know mind in God exhaustively, but we can know God truly, because God is consistent to Himself. Now as we approach the Word of God from which we have the premises of knowledge, we must realize that certain things characterize Scripture. Van Til has a great deal to say in his book, and you will be reading it yourselves, but just a comment on certain aspects of it. Basic to the doctrine of Scripture is

[Interruption in audio]

[Rushdoony] perspicuity. Now the perspicuity of Scripture is its clarity, and in one sense its simplicity. I hesitate to use the word simplicity, because this idea has been very often misused. The idea of the perspicuity of Scripture is not opposed to the incomprehensibility of God, thus to return to the idea of simplicity, we often hear some preachers say that, well they don’t want to get into any theology or philosophy, all they believe in is the simple Word of God. Now the Word of God has simplicity, but it is not simple. There is a difference. Augustine made the point long ago that the Word of God was shallow enough for a child to wade into and deep enough for an elephant to drown in, and I think that puts it beautifully. There is a simplicity about what it has to say concerning the state of man, the salvation offered by God, the glory, the majesty, the sovereignty of God, the essential statement, the purpose, the plan of God comes through with clarity and simplicity so that he who runs can read and understand. On the other hand, it isn’t simple. Start studying Scripture, and you find well there’s so much here in the law of God that it’s very difficult, it takes a great deal of study and we never exhaust its meaning. Or the prophets, there is a great deal there that is very difficult for us to follow sometimes, and we need intensive study and understanding to be able to penetrate the depths of its meaning. The gospels, I never find that I can read the Sermon on the Mount, which some liberals say that’s all they believe in, just the simple teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, I keep finding that there’s so much about it I don’t know and so much I need to know. And the epistles, well I know one Protestant Church in California that banned the teaching of Romans because they found every time they taught it in the adult Sunday School class, there were so many questions that were asked and so many explosions as it were, and some people were getting all kinds of wild ideas about the sovereign God and about salvation, that they actually, the church board met and said that Romans was not going to be taught anymore unless the pastor chose to teach it and he didn’t choose to teach it. There is a great deal there you see, too, that’s very, very profound. So when we speak about simplicity, it’s different from being sinful. Of course, I haven’t even mentioned Revelation. [00:29:21]

Now the rational, autonomous mind of man, as he deals...[edit]

Now the rational, autonomous mind of man, as he deals with the subject of perspicuity demands a perspicuity in which all reality and whatever gods may be, are totally, exhaustively known by man. So that his idea is indeed that it has to be absolutely simple or it’s not worth understanding. And as a result, as the autonomous mind of man approaches God’s Word and God’s world, he insists that it must be beneath him in his understanding or he rejects it. And it is this kind of attitude that you have when you come to people who want only the simple gospel, and they don’t want any part of the Scripture unless it’s beneath them, you see, it’s so simple that they don’t have to study it. It’s simple in a childish sense, that’s the only kind of ‘word’ that they will accept. They are not much different from the man over here who says since mine is the ultimate authority; my mind, therefore anything that is real is that which my scientific method can grasp, or which my mind finds simple and beneath it as it approaches it. All things, in other words, must be penetrable by the minds of man. This is his rationalism. On the other hand, man is irrational also. He denies that reality is governed by the plan of God, it is brute factuality, it is perpetually open to the new, it is characterized by the dominance of flux. Both in his rationalism and his irrationalism, man is by design anti-God. The idea of a self-contained God and His infallible Word are repellant to fallen man. As a result, wherever, to any extent, the infallible Word of Scripture is denied, to that extent the word of flux and the autonomous mind of man is enthroned. There is a direct correlation. To the degree that the necessity, the authority, and the perspicuity of Scripture are rejected, that degree (like a hidden iceberg) man’s epistemology begins to loom above the surface, because either God is sovereign of man is, and if you tamper with the one, the other appears. Either your knowledge is premised on Scripture, or it is premised on the word of flux, and there could be no compromise between the two, and we must hold that God in His infallible Word has spoken the Word of truth, Thy Word is truth, and that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, that man as he grounds himself (his life and his science) on the Word of God, can indeed have valid knowledge. That having this, he then (because he is in grace) is ready to see the hand of God, the revelation of God in all creation. As the Psalmist said in the first three versus of Psalm 19, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night unto knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” Such a God cannot be hidden, He cries out at all times. And this is why Scripture declares emphatically that the sinner hears Him, but holds down the truth of God in unrighteousness. Or Psalm 139, verses 8 through 10 declares, “If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.” This is why there is no God in Barth, because a hidden god is no god at all, a god who can be totally hidden, totally other, and totally revealed, is either nothing or he is a creature. Thus the issue in epistemology is ultimate authority; is it God or is it man? It is the infallible word of God or of man. When we deal with epistemology, inescapable we deal with ultimate authority and infallibility. We’ll take a little while now for some questions before we go on to another subject, our second will be much briefer. Are there any questions now before we proceed? Yes? [00:35:45]

[Audience member] Would you say that Barth’s view of...[edit]

[Audience member] Would you say that Barth’s view of the Bible from becoming part of the Word of God or becoming the Word of God, is a part of this flux and infallibility?

[Rushdoony] Yes, a very good and perceptive question. Because he is an existentialist to the core, for him, the only infallibility of the Word of God is when it speaks to me when I read it, at the moment. So that if I’m reading the Bible and I feel that I have the word now, then it’s the infallible word at that moment, not because it is here in black and white. Now the logic of this is that if I am reading a Lil Abner, and I feel that at the moment something is spoken to me, it’s the infallible word for me at the moment, now this is the logic of Barth’s position, but he won’t say it that way, because he’s still, he was still in the church and earning money as a theologian, and you can’t get it for saying that God spoke to you through Lil Abner. You just can’t do it, you see.

[Audience member] Do they also hold that, rather, how can someone hold something as infallible as it continues to fluctuate? And also, why is it that fluctuation, you said flux cannot account for the {?}, I didn’t understand the implications of that.

[Rushdoony] First of all, your idea of infallibility is Christian, the existentialist would say. You want something out there above and beyond and always true, age after age, in terms of Calvin, and that’s not valid. Infallibility is only in the existential moment. If I feel like doing something at this moment, that’s the only truth there is, nothing up there. The only thing is the moment, the past is not real, the future is not real. You out there are not real, you’re only an aspect of my experience, the only truth is right here in this instant what I want, it is the infallible word for the moment.

[Audience member] No God?

[Rushdoony] No God, no God.

[Audience member] Thank you. In {?} you said that fluctuation cannot account for reality.

[Rushdoony] Yes, the word of flux cannot account for reality, because in terms of this concept of epistemology, you not only deny that God is out there, but you say the world is only an aspect of my experience. What?

[Audience member] Is that the same philosophy of Descartes?

[Rushdoony] Well, Descartes tried to prove that the world was real, but what Descartes started led, in Hume and Kant, to the belief that the world is only an aspect of my experience, Schopenhauer was very vocal you remember, about stating that. So it cannot account for the world. It just reduces the world to a part of me. Yes? We’ll be dealing with that in a few minutes in a practical aspect.

[Audience member] You mentioned that there was an artist who {?} in his work and then committed suicide, and you never mentioned him by name.

[Rushdoony] Well, what was his name, Jackson Pollock. Anyone else with a question before we go on?

[Audience member] I want to throw in with that point, I know young people have idolized these rock singers who have died because of the drugs.

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes very definitely true. That first started with Jimmy Dean some years ago, when he killed himself in an accident, that made him intensely popular, and the same thing has happened with some of these rock singers. Because you remember Sartre says the full exercise of reality, of freedom is annihilation. So, the thing about Jimmy Dean was that they stressed the fact that he drove so suicidally. And that made it look all the more glamorous, he was always playing with death. Yes? [00:40:50]

[Audience member] You mentioned the other day that...[edit]

[Audience member] You mentioned the other day that there seems to be a fluctuation from one leader to somebody else, isn’t this pretty much what Paul writing in Athens when he says that the philosophers were just trying to see who had something new to say?

[Rushdoony] A very good point, excellent point. For the same reason. Their epistemology had collapsed, so they looked continually for something new, not only in the world, what new fact is there which might indicate what is the next step, for example, in the world of chance, maybe resurrection is the new reality. Or, does he have a new word to give us for the new day? Very good observation, excellent one. Any other comments?

Well now, very briefly, I’m going to touch on some practical aspects of this false epistemology; the flight from reality. I think we’ve already seen something of the significance of epistemology, it’s a very technical, a very difficult field of philosophy, but its concern is a very real one to us. We need to ask, are the philosophers of the modern world, from Descartes on, crazy? And the answer of course is that they are not. First of all, they are able, brilliant man, they are honest to a degree about their intentions and their presuppositions, which are to the core anti-God. We must press their ideas further to bring home not only to them but to their followers the implications of their positions. Second, a failure to appreciate how deeply this philosophy has influenced modern man is a serious thing. Because the man in the street, the children in our Sunday Schools and churches, the man in the pew, anyone who watches television today is a product of this epistemology. We are all influenced by this to a greater degree than we realize, so that even while it may be difficult for us to understand, it has left its mark upon us. Now, as we look back at history we have to say, whatever criticism we make of men in the early medieval era, and whatever else anyone might say in criticism of Reformation man, both saw the universe as a God-created, God-given reality, and they saw the world around them as coming from the hand of God, and they saw themselves as a part of that reality. But I think the point that you’ve undoubtedly grasped by now is that the modern man feels that reality is a part of me. The old Christian position; I am a part of reality, the new position; reality is a part of me. So the world is something that is an aspect of my mind and my imagination. And it’s hard for modern man to think of it as otherwise. [00:44:47]

You all perhaps recall that two years ago, February...[edit]

You all perhaps recall that two years ago, February, I think the 7th or the 9th, we had an earthquake in Los Angeles county. It was quite a rude awakening. I woke up in the morning to hear the tinkling of glass as dishes and windows broke and books tumbling, took me all week to start out and pick up about ten-thousand of my books that were all over the floor, in fact I couldn’t even get into my library room except by going out and crawling through a window because the door was jammed with so many books against it. Now, the thing that interested me in the days and the weeks ahead was this, the reaction of people. Whether you stood in line at a checkout counter or you went into a drugstore, you went to the post office and stood in line or the bank, this is what everybody was talking about. Also, one of the most interesting reactions was, the land-office business that psychiatrists did. In fact, not only were men and women lining up to go to psychiatrists, but they had their children lined up to go. So that psychiatrists were working overtime, it was a gold rush for them, it really was. But, the thing that came through to me was that I kept hearing the same thing over and over again. Expressed with total horror and shock, “I felt so helpless. I felt so helpless. It was if some monster had taken a hold of the house and was shaking it.” You see, man was not in charge. And the wildest part of it was you kept hearing people say; well the government will have to do something about it. And they did believe it, that man was somehow going to pass appropriations and the government was going to do something about stopping all earthquakes. I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow they’ve sneaked through some appropriations, because I’m sure they can get through that sort of thing. You see, there is a flight from reality, if reality is a part of me, rather than me being a part of God’s world, I will react that way. This is why I believe God is going to shake us up in a great many ways in the days ahead. Those of you who have read my Biblical Philosophy of History, in it I state that because I believe were are coming toward the end of an era, God is going to bring judgment, a shaking upon man. And in the fifty years before World War II, there were not as many natural disasters as in the first fifteen years after World War II, and there are more since. Men are going to feel helpless in the days ahead, I do believe that. They’re going to be shaken out of their dream world. Now, as a part of this flight from reality, something happened in the modern age, about the time of the beginnings of this modern epistemology and soon thereafter, which is unique to the history of man; the rise of fiction, the rise of fiction. In the ancient world, you had very little of this, you had a little bit of drama in the big cities but that did not involve itself in the world of fiction and the dream world to the extent that it has now. You had a few novels in Greece of the fairy tale variety, so you had the fairy tales also, you had a certain amount of this, but never, never in the ancient world or in the medieval world, to the extent that we have had from the eighteenth century, when the novel was formed. [00:49:50]

The history of the novel is a very interesting thing...[edit]

The history of the novel is a very interesting thing, there are some very telling books on it. I hesitate to mention one of them, he’s one of the most brilliant here, and yet he’s so Freudian that he is very offensive at many points, but Leslie Fiedler, F-I-E-D-L-E-R, his various books are most rewarding for a Christian after he discounts a good deal of the Freudian garbage. Now, the novel and various other forms of fiction have transformed life. In the medieval era, music was either religious or if it were popular, it dealt with everyday life, the songs had to do with the calendar of man; sowing, harvesting, weddings, they were related to everyday life, or they were a part of the life of the Church. Music since then has become an aspect of the dream world, so that whether it is in the form of classical opera, much of which is heroic plays in origin, or whether it is in the form of television programs, it’s a flight from reality. Especially in the twentieth century, as never before, we have seen the triumph of fiction and escapism. We have seen it not only in the all time popularity of novels, but also in movies, in radio, and in television. Never before in the history of the world, has man more isolated himself from reality. Consider the number of hours the average woman lives in terms of the fiction of television. Or the extent to which the average child is geared to it. When I was a boy, it was bad enough then, but when school was over, the first thing we did after we got home if we could duck out before Mother assigned us a chore, was to head for the nearest lot where we played baseball or football. And that’s all we did until it was dark and sisters were sent out to round up the boys and bring them home, we’d be out there playing baseball until we could barely see the ball and get conked on the head very often because it was getting so dark. But now, that kind of organized play in neighborhoods is gone. Why? Because the idiot box has them in a dream world. Now this is a very significant fact, because we had some fearful eras in the history of the world, fearful eras, but we’ve never had a time when men were more involved in escaping from reality and living in the world of fiction. The popularity of television has only accentuated this problem. [00:53:38]

This does make it difficult, you see, to proclaim the...[edit]

This does make it difficult, you see, to proclaim the Reformed faith. Because the Reformed faith is like, well that sniff of ammonia I was talking about earlier, under the nose of a hysterical woman, it brings them back to reality and people don’t want to come back to reality, they like the dream world. They like to be lulled into a world of dreams, of romance, of fiction, of mock-heroics, and to me it’s very interesting that the cowboy is so great a hero, and that so many television programs center around the cowboy. I lived in cow country a long time, I know a great deal about cow hands, buckaroos. And it’s interesting to me that the sheep-herder has no place in all of this. Why? Well, the sheep-herder is a very responsible man. Do you know that we have a problem and have had for almost two generations in this country, getting sheep-herders for our herds of sheep? Why? It pays very well, as a matter of fact, it pays so well that the sheep-herders we import from Spain (Basques predominantly) and from Greece come over here and work five or ten years and they either get their own ranches in many cases, or they go back to the old country as a rich man. But you see, to be a sheep-herder means that what you must do is to live with those sheep day in and day out, the sheep-herder is out there in a sheep wagon. And incidentally, the sheep wagons were the epitome of orderly, neat house-cleaning. The sheep-herders were good cooks, the bread the baked (sourdough bread) was out of this world, wonderful. And they were good at knitting, as they would watch the sheep they would knit. Well that certainly wouldn’t look heroic in our {?}.

[Audience laughter]

[Rushdoony] And, they were midwives, when the sheep would give birth they’d be out there day and night seeing that ewe through her labor, and with old ewes you really had to work to save the ewe and her lambs. And if the ewe was an old ewe and had twins, for some reason or other the old ewes tend to have more twins than the young ones, what you had to do was to take care and nurse that one, and you had to do something one way or the other to get another ewe, younger one to take a second one, that’s an involved process because she’d smell it and know it wasn’t hers, and you had to bottle feed it if that didn’t work, so you were really a nurse maid to the sheep. You lived right down at their level, you began to smell like one. This certainly is not romantic. But sheep-herders are responsible men. It’s rare for a sheep-herder not to be. There are some who come over here from Spain or from Greece and they after a while they become alcoholics, but most of them are not only responsible men, but after so many years they wind up well-to-do men because they’re well paid for every month of work, and they work around the clock year in and year out, with only a small time off each year from their sheep. During the war, incidentally, it was a problem getting sheep-herders, and wool was very essential for uniforms until the war effort, so you could get {?} if you became a sheep-herder. And I know one young fellow who went out (that was a good way to get {?}) and after about 2-3 months of talking to sheep only, he came back and enlisted. [00:58:24]

[Interruption in audio]...[edit]

[Interruption in audio]

[Rushdoony] of course, and I think you see the point. What does the cowboy do, the buckaroo? He rides on a horse, he’s contemptuous of the sheep, he is not the same kind of responsible person, he takes orders from a man, he doesn’t work on his own, and it’s rare for a cow hand to wind up with anything. More than once I took a cow hand into {?}, Nevada, when he got his pay and had a little time off, and he’d go in with six-hundred or a thousand dollars in his jeans, and incidentally all he would have would be his jeans, his boots, and his jacket, and his wallet, and on Monday or Tuesday I would often pick one or two of these buckaroos and take them back to whichever ranch they were going and all their money would be gone, and they would have been drunk after the first three or four hours, and I actually heard them asking one another, well what did I do after Friday night, and did I have a good time? Irresponsible, you see, totally anarchistic, without any sense of responsibility. It’s no wonder that the cow hand who cannot live in terms of reality and be responsible and save money, is a modern hero, because we have this flight from life. And we have the attitude that well, why worry about tomorrow, if there’s some problems then, the government will do something about it before it happens, or someone will come up with an answer, or hold a good thought, and you see, don’t face up to reality. Man is going to do something some way, so don’t worry, live for the moment. Man is bathed in a dream world, and today a good deal of our religion furthers it. The sexual revolution is based on this flight from reality, and it has these dreams of perpetual youth, of a world without responsibility. Modern man is a product of his epistemology. He lives in a dream world and he believes that reality is what his imagination says it is. This is why fiction, the movies, television, and radio, are so essential to modern man. I think it is very, very interesting that a few years ago when some revolutionaries formulated their plan for taking over this country, and it was published in a book entitled The War of the Flea, they saw themselves as the flea, but as capable of taking over the country. They said all they would have to do would be to destroy the power facilities and a few other things and what would happen? Modern man would sit in front of the television tube waiting for it to come on impatiently while they went ahead and destroyed the country. Maybe they’re right, I hope not. But it indicates that they are aware, these revolutionists, that modern man does want a dream world, he is living in a dream world, he will have an awakening out of it. His awakening will be a rude one and God will be in it. We have just two or three minutes for questions, yes? [01:02:51]

[Audience member] There’s a book that has come out...[edit]

[Audience member] There’s a book that has come out recently called Future Shock in a Material World, things change too fast and man can’t keep up with change, what collation do you see between this and a lot of society and the will to escape?

[Rushdoony] Well, first of all, I think Future Shock is a stupid book, he wants to see the future in terms of the past and in terms of science and so on. I think he is right that modern man doesn’t like too much change, but it’s interesting, if I had time I’d give you quite a bit on the Puritans and their love of change. In the commonwealth period, the thing that is most noticeable is the longing of the cavilers for the old ways. If a thing was old, it was good. But one of the most popular expressions among the Puritans was “sing unto the Lord a new song” and the word “new” was important to them, because they felt that since they were under God, they had a duty to change the world to conform to the Word of God. And therefore, they continually demanded change and delighted in it. This is why, they were the ones who set the pace, whether in the sciences or elsewhere. They had a delight in change. But modern man hates change. Yes?

[Audience member] Do you see in the drug scene a partial expression of this ‘reality is a part of me’?

[Rushdoony] Yes, very good, a very good point. You see, modern man lives in total flux, he wants to be the thing that is totally dedicated to flux, but he wants everything around him to stay constant. You see, in religion, God is unchanging and the world changes. And if you are going to take this position, you say let the world stay constant around me so that it doesn’t disturb me and let me change at will. Now, in the drug world, man seeks to escape from reality and he also seeks, and I have thought of dealing with this in one of the chapels here, but there were too many other things I wanted to cover. The relationship of drugs to the Sabbath, because there’s a very real connection. Modern man wants a Sabbath, man needs a Sabbath, the Sabbath principle is rest. But Scripture says, “There is no rest {?} for the wicked”. So, since modern man cannot rest, he seeks rest through God, you see without God there is no Sabbath possible for man. And so he looks for it in liquor, and he looks for it in drugs. And when you talk to some of them, they do speak of the peace and the rest that drugs give them. I’ve had them tell me that, and they talk just like a Christian should talk about the Sabbath. Yes?

[Audience member] I have a friend of mine who I was talking to about drugs, I wasn’t aware until later on that he was taking them, it was a big surprise to me. And I don’t remember the exact quote in the conversation, but I asked him why he was taking them and I think that he was saying that he was looking for a different and another realm of knowledge other than our normal accepted means of knowing things. He felt that he could know something other than the way, through senses and I guess through presuppositions.

[Rushdoony] Yes, you see a physiological man in this predicament wants to have a deeper awareness of inner reality. He’s going to plumb deeper into his soul, this is the only world of knowledge.

[Audience member] Well, he {?} what he can see.

[Rushdoony] Yes, well with drugs you block out the outside world, this is why you have to have a ground man if you have a group of them taking drugs, to make sure that they don’t jump out of the windows. But you block out the outside world and you concentrate on the real world, on the real god; the inner you. And so you dive deeper down into your own being in order to come up with this tremendous experience of the true reality; yourself.

[End of tape]