Logos Rising by Dr. E. Michael Jones is one of the most anticipated books I’ve read. It offers a complete philosophy of history, chronicling the descent of the world-mind from reason to skepticism to decadence and finally to our current stage, nihilism. Because of the heavy Catholic perspective of Dr. Jones’ analysis, it did create some friction to my Orthodox views, but I nonetheless received great value from the book.
The nature of ultimate reality
Ultimate reality can win without weapons, but weapons cannot win without ultimate reality. Christianity, to get back to Rome, defeated the Roman Empire without firing a shot simply because it had a superior understanding of the ultimate reality.
I must admit that I’m becoming exhausted with Q Anon-type Christians who declare that guns will be needed to defeat evil. I think an understanding of Christian history, of which many Westerners do not have, would dispel the notion of using violence as a first course of action.
Man became pagan to satisfy his worldly desires
India is perhaps the prime example of a culture which could not maintain its hold on the logos of its origins. After viewing monotheism from afar, India descended into the jungles of polytheism never to emerge. Polytheism is synonymous with moral corruption. The transcendent God has no need of man’s sacrifices. Since fallen man wants what he wants, he is willing to create subsidiary deities or demons who are more amendable to ends which the one God would find contemptible, such as the death of enemies, the sexual favors of someone else’s spouse, etc. And so at the root of India’s decline into polytheism, we find moral decline in general and the sin of usury in particular.
While the United States is not officially polytheistic, it has all manner of false idols and beliefs which are harnessed to achieve material desires, and if something like an accidental pregnancy gets in the way, a sacrifice can quickly be made to rid the mother and father of the inconvenience.
What is science?
“Science” is another word for the Jewish hatred of Logos, which takes on new ferocity when combined with the homosexual’s rage against nature.
Darwinism plays a critical role in the administration of the American Empire because it uses “science” to rule out of court any moral objection to the economical exploitation that is an intrinsic part of the oligarchic system known as capitalism. Control means, in the first instance, decertifying any and all forms of logos or rationality which restrict the power of the oligarchs.
The end result of science is the injection of hundreds of millions of people with unproven and unapproved vaccines to render them both harmless and sterile to the power of the world regime.
God’s revelation and plan
The motion which both the unmoved mover and nature share is philia or love, which would only become clear with the arrival of Christianity, which explained that in God there are three Persons who are loving each other. And that love was so powerful it overflowed the bounds of eternity and found expression in creation.
God used the passions of men to bring about His ends, not theirs, in a process which Hegel later described as “the cunning of reason.” Throughout human history, divine providence devised “an inherent logic transcending the conscious intentions of individuals agents”…
Hebrew revelation plus Greek metaphysics
Empedocles had said that the universe was ruled by love and strife, resulting in circular motion, which is another word for a machine, which is how Newton characterized his vision of the universe. St. John simplified things by de-mechanizing the universe and incorporating the motion of history into the static understanding of Logos which he inherited from the Greeks. Logos is God, but since God is Love, Love now manifests itself as motion in history. This means that history is a manifestation of the mind of God every bit as much as the physical universe is. By combining the Hebrew understanding of history with the Greek understanding of Logos, John granted to the Hebrews a new metaphysical understanding of their history, and to the Greeks a new understanding of how the Logos moves through time.
Decline of pagan Rome
When crisis came, the Roman plebs needed more than the old gods could provide. They needed actual communities grounded in beliefs that went deeper than fables based on obviously anthropomorphic gods, hence the rise of Christianity and along with it the rise of other religious-based communities, like the Egyptian cult of Hermes Trismegisthus and the Gnostic Manichean sect that captivated Augustine for a time. Secular culture had gotten too big and too abstract to move the minds and hearts of the people who lived in the cities, which were increasingly lonely and impersonal places. Christianity filled the cultural spaces which the empire could no longer occupy in the minds of the humble and dispossessed…
During the fifth century more and more barbarian tribes found themselves fighting over an ever decreasing financial base of plunder. The idea of empire became increasingly meaningless, primarily because it had been bankrupt for some time, was unable to pay its own troops, and no longer controlled anything of value. Its financial bankruptcy mirrored its cultural bankruptcy. The empire ended because no one derived any benefit from belonging to it any more.
A world without God becomes a playground of the rich
In terms of its covert cosmology, Newtonian physics was a return to the vomit of paganism. Like gravity and inertia in the cosmic drama known as Newtonian physics, the power of the good god was limited by the power of the bad god, as it was in Zoroastrianism. This meant that the good god lacked the power to bring about good. What filled the vacuum in the ancient world which resisted Christianity and the modern world which abandoned it was will. In a world where there was no telos and as a result only what Aristotle called violent motion, human will became the only source of motion in an inert, meaningless universe where everything went around in circles and history had no meaning other than what the rich and powerful imposed on it.
In the Darwinian world of competition and strife, where the strongest is most deserving of rewards, even defrauding or tricking the dumb is considered a form of accepted superiority. We’re forced to use the financial system of the rich, based on usury, which ensures that they get even richer.
The City of God
The City of God is based on love of God to the extinction of self, and the City of Man is based on love of self to the extinction of God. Love is the basis of both. The two cities are the manifestation of two loves: “the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.” Both cities play a role in the often inscrutable providence of God, which distributes earthly kingdoms according to His will, giving the Roman Empire at one point to Constantine, who recognized the Church and at another point to his grandson Julian the Apostate, who persecuted it. Even if the human mind fails at times to understand its workings, that Providence guarantees that there is a logos to human history.
God, who was “the unchangeable Governor as He is the unchangeable Creator of immutable things, orders all events in His providence until the beauty of the completed course of time, of which the component parts are the dispensations adapted to each successive age, shall be finished like the grand melody of some ineffably wise master of song.”
According to St. Augustine, the course of history revolves around a conflict between: “two dynamic principles embodied in two societies and social orders—the City of Man and the City of God, Babylon and Jerusalem, which run their course, side by side, intermingling with one another and sharing the same temporal goods and the same temporal evils, but separate from one another by an infinite spiritual gulf. Thus St. Augustine sees history as the meeting point between time and eternity. History is a unity because the same divine power which shows itself in the order of nature from the stars, down to the feathers of a bird and the leaves of the tree also governs the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires.” [Dawson]
“As the natural force of self-love draws down the world to multiplicity and disorder and death, the supernatural power of the love of God draws it back to unity and order and life.” [Dawson]
It’s not a coincidence that upon my repentance, I wanted to escape from the cities and go into the woods. Perhaps the cities were of God during the Byzantine era, but I don’t need to tell you how they are now. My current life is essentially about creating a little bubble of monasticism in my mother’s living room where I can pray and fast while keeping away from worldly temptations. It’s getting to the point where even a weekly visit to the supermarket is chafing to me because of having to endure the extreme secularity of public spaces.
Persecution is here
During his imprisonment in Pavia, Boethius wrote his masterpiece, The Consolation of Philosophy, the classic lament of the just man persecuted for being just. It is also the lament of the man of philosophical disposition in a decadent age, who looks around him and sees: “the wicked workshops of lawless men overflowing in joy and jubilation; every last degenerate making threats with brand new deceptions and denunciations; good men fallen laid low by their fear of this crisis of mine; every criminal encouraged to dare a crime because he will go unpunished and to commit it because he will be rewarded; and the guiltless deprived not only of their safety but even of their defense.”
Boethius wrote these words in the 6th century. Fifteen centuries later they ring truer than ever, because persecution for the Christian rhymes the same regardless of the era.
Muhammad harnessed political power
Muhammad capitalized on the absence of an Arabic translation of the Bible by creating a new book which summarized Jewish and heretical Christian beliefs in a language which gave the Arab-speaking tribes national unity and, therefore, political power, which the caliphs then projected outward through military conquest. Muhammad was a lot like the German reformer Martin Luther: he had difficulty controlling his passions, and he gave his people a national epic in their own language which assured them that the “Ishmaelites” too were children of Abraham and, therefore, on an equal footing with the Jews but superior to Christians, who could claim Abraham as their father by faith but not by blood.
After Islamic scholars failed to come up with one agreed upon version of the Qur’an, the caliph resolved the issue by force majeure in a move which would have theological implications. God became an exalted caliph, and science became an exercise in reading the mind and predicting the arbitrary will of an all-powerful being who could not make up his mind.
When God gives up a nation
Divine Providence then has “its extreme remedy at hand.” God allows the nation to fall back into the feral condition from which it arose after the Fall. Once a nation becomes corrupted by the “barbarism of reflection,” nothing can save it from the new beastly state of nature that so uncannily resembles the state capitalism in our day. Rome was able to delay this decline by holding firm to religion, marriage, and property as the three bulwarks against Greek skepticism, but even Rome succumbed to the same “power of ideas” that destroyed Athens and ended up being ruled by “dissolute and shameless madmen, like Caligula, Nero, and Domitian.”
To be taken seriously, any philosophy of history must take into account both human freedom and God’s omnipotence. Human history, as a result, implies “a double kind of contingency, on the one hand with respect to the transcendent freedom of God, and on the other hand with respect to human free will as well as to natural accidents and vicissitudes.” If the philosopher of history does not believe in God, he will transfer divine agency to some other principle, like natural selection. Similarly, those who deny human freedom simply transfer that freedom to God alone, as Islam did, in which case it becomes synonymous with fate, or they transfer it to matter, as Marx did, in which case it becomes synonymous with the movement of matter otherwise known as materialism. Materialism becomes, as a result, a philosophy which claims that only atoms have freedom, and that freedom is synonymous with random motion. Either way, both concepts—God’s omnipotence and human free will—are necessary to any understanding of history.
Every successful revolution leads to a civil war. This means that there is no “End of History,” despite Francis Fukuyama’s claim at the end of the Cold War, but it also means that the dialectic always labors in the service of Logos, which is to say, in the service of God’s providence. No matter how messy their activity seems, the mills of history always grind out the truth.
In every age, the forces of Logos confront the forces of anti-Logos, and more often than not the forces of anti-Logos win out, forcing irrepressible Logos to appear ever new yet ever the same in the following generation.
Another man who takes into account human freedom and God’s omnipotence when studying history is Father Seraphim Rose, especially his Orthodox Survival Course.
Logos in human history
…I asked my wife if she would have moved to South Bend if she had known that I was going to be fired a year after we arrived. The answer was, of course, no. No one in his right mind, including me, would have agreed to such a thing, which is why God does not reveal the future. If the option of future knowledge were available to man, he would have to know all of it to make a proper decision, but to know all of the future, man would have to be God, which he is not. Hence, the need for faith. Ever since St. Augustine explicated the meaning of the Incarnation, we know that time has a direction and a purpose and that the name of that purpose as well as the force which makes that purpose happen is Logos. We know that man’s free will allows him to negate that purpose, but no wicked human act, no matter how heinous, not even killing the Logos Incarnate, can thwart God’s plan. As the Crucifixion shows, even deicide, the ultimate wicked act, became the occasion which propelled Logos forward in human history, not because it was evil but because God can take that evil and the freedom that enabled it and turn it into a greater good. That is the meaning of human history. Every single victory has led to failure, but every failure has led to another even more unpredictable victory in the upward spiral of Logos that is the inexorable trajectory of human history.
I do have a couple of critiques of the book. First, I think Dr. Jones is too quick to accept anthropological evidence from scientists, especially when it comes to their flawed methods of historical dating.
During the period following the emergence of Mitochondrial Eve between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago, and Y-chromosomal Adam between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago…
The Egyptian hieroglyph for dog is no more abstract than the pictures of the horse which had been painted on the walls of the caves in Lascaux in France some 30,000 to 40,000 years earlier.
I have no ambivalence in discarding most science outside of physics. If it’s not observable or reproducible, and it is presented as “science,” it’s moreso conjecture or theory. (See more in my article about the age of the earth.)
My second critique, which Dr. Jones may receive as a compliment, is that Logos Rising felt like a Catholic Scholastic work produced through the brain of Thomas Aquinas, who I perceive Dr. Jones sees as the apotheosis of Christianity, an opinion that as an Orthodox Christian I do not share, especially since my Church does not recognize Aquinas’ teachings. I did not make a specific count, but Aquinas is mentioned throughout Dr. Jones’ book.
My last critique concerns Dr. Jones’ suggestion that those closest to God will be more materially successful, especially in war. His assertion is that if a nation has logos, it will have a superior military and be more likely to win battles. I would agree that possessing the logos will bring you closer to the truth of technological advancement that allows you to defend against heathen armies, but God’s favor plays out over huge stretches of time and can’t exactly be pinpointed battle by battle. For example, I would be hesitant to say that the United States defeated Serbia in war because the American nation was closer to God than the Orthodox Serbian nation, but then again, who can measure the spiritual state of a nation and all its people at a specific point in history? My preference would be to agree with Dr. Jones’ assertion on a macro scale, over hundreds of years, instead of micro. Otherwise, a mad ruler could claim justification of a war victory as being blessed by God, when in actuality God may be arranging events for his soon-coming annihilation.
Logos Rising is primarily a philosophical work that traces the logos throughout human history without shying away from dense metaphysical and Catholic theological analysis. While a layman would certainly get value from Logos Rising, especially when it comes to understanding how God approaches human history, I would recommend it more strongly to Catholic brethren who seek a philosophical approach to history in a way that matches their theology. Otherwise, Logos Rising was a monumental undertaking and Dr. Jones should be commended for synthesizing a work that brings us closer to understanding God’s revelation through the ages.
Learn More: Logos Rising on Fidelity Press