CHAPTER FIVE

 

After lunch the three guests were invited by Mr Grace to take a stroll with him across some nearby fields and through the surrounding woods.  Only Mrs Grace stayed behind, apparently to take care of the housework and attend to any additional guests or callers who might arrive, as the party of five, including Pauline, set off to savour the warm afternoon sunshine and leisurely traverse the peaceful countryside.

     As previously, Mr Grace, who led the way, devoted most of his conversational attention to Harding, with whom he appeared to have struck-up a good relationship - one doubtless owing something to their mutual knowledge of and concern for art, since it constituted their main topic.  But every now and then, as though for form's sake or to prevent the other two guests from feeling left out, he directed a few words at Carol and Andrew, included them in his discussion of art or probed them about their respective interests.  He seemed especially polite towards Carol, even though she didn't go out of her way to chat with him but remained strangely aloof, as though the walk was all that really mattered to her and the conversation simply a tedious distraction from it.

     However, for Andrew, who found himself accompanied by Pauline, the conversation into which he had drifted before lunch was resumed on a slightly different footing afterwards, as he listened to her quiet but clear voice expressing various opinions on literature, poetry, writing technique, etc., and responded, to the limited extent circumstances allowed him, with his own opinions in due course.  Not that he was particularly keen on listening to what young Miss Grace had to say, nor eager to contradict or question her views.  Quite the contrary, it was rather a bore to him, since the twelve years which separated them, their dissimilar temperaments and unequal experience of writing, rendered intimate, interesting, and educative conversation virtually impossible.  Yet he had to persevere somehow, pretend he wasn't bored, and thus make some effort to grant the young woman the pleasure she evidently acquired from walking and talking with 'a writer'.  Besides, if her conversation, relative to her youth, was somewhat superficial, at least there was the compensation of her physical attractiveness – an attractiveness which Andrew Doyle couldn't help noticing and secretly admiring as they strolled along together, a few yards behind the little group in front.

     Yes, there was indeed something about her physical appearance which gave one pleasure, reminded one of her mother, and caused one to speculate as to whether she had ever had a lover.  No doubt, a pretty creature like her would have attracted men before now, perhaps even older ones.  And not only on account of her classical face or long dark hair, either.  Her body was, to all appearances, by no means lacking in feminine charms, now somewhat paradoxically clothed in a tight-fitting pair of quality denims which amply sufficed to highlight her highly seductive rump and womanly thighs, with the addition of a semi-transparent nylon vest such as could only draw attention to her breasts, nestling snugly in a white brassiere edged with frills.  To be sure, she was by no means a slow developer for her age but, if anything, a shade precocious, suggesting someone of about twenty - a fact which may have owed more than a little, Andrew speculated, to her mother's relative maturity, since Mrs Grace must have been in her late thirties or early forties at the time of Pauline's birth.

     But her body had evidently developed way ahead of her mind, which was very decidedly that of an eighteen-year-old.  And it was to her mind, rather than her attractive body, that Andrew was obliged to give most of his attention, as they trailed along behind the trio in front and continued their predominantly literary conversation.  However, there were periodic breaks in it which enabled him to return to his private thoughts or overhear snippets of conversation from the leading group, snippets which, at times, bordered on the ridiculous, as Harding and his critic friend continued to exchange views on art with a conservatism and reactionary tone which the writer had by now come to expect.  What Carol thought of it all, he couldn't know for sure.  Yet it was becoming sufficiently apparent, from the stand-offish nature of her relationship to the others, that she wasn't particularly impressed.  No doubt, she would have been more a part of the scene had they been discussing models or modelling.  But Mr Grace could hardly be expected to do that!  Beyond the world of art he seemed to know very little and not to care for very much.  His life was dominated by his criticisms, and it was his role as an art critic which made his life bearable.  Without them he would be nothing, reduced in size to the level of an ordinary man, an intellectually insignificant man.  Needless to say, he couldn't afford to forsake them, to run the risk of becoming or appearing ordinary - least of all in front of an artist!  And to take an interest in other matters, to squander too much time on the concerns of other professions, would have been to do just that, to become ordinary, to forsake his role - in short, to become an amateur.  No, Henry Grace had no intentions of sacrificing his professional pride and status for the sake of a young woman who preferred modelling to art!  Besides, bearing in mind Harding's commitment to painting, she was outnumbered 2:1, a fact which spoke eloquently for itself.  Two people's professional self-esteem couldn't possibly be sacrificed for the sake of one person's, particularly when that person was a relatively insignificant model.  Common sense forbade!

     Yes, and it was also common sense which forbade Andrew from launching out, at various times in the afternoon's proceedings, with a defence of modern art, and impressing upon the other two men the antiquated, not to say futile, nature of their opinions.  For if he had, he would almost certainly have compromised himself in his host's eyes, deeply wounded his next-door neighbour, and embarrassed the young woman whose company he was obliged to entertain, with an overriding consequence that the walk would have been thoroughly spoilt.  So he wisely restrained the impulse to champion the cause of abstraction and retained, instead, a discreet silence on the issue which, with better effect, might be broken at some more propitious opportunity.  Like, perhaps, when he was questioned on his own views and obliged to do himself proper justice in consequence.

     It was towards tea-time when, tired and sunburnt, they returned from their country stroll.  Meanwhile Philip Grace, the son of the household, had returned from his morning visit to a neighbouring friend and was on-hand to greet the guests as, once more, they entered the large detached house via its imposing front door.  Unlike his sister, this young Oxford undergraduate had flaxen hair, pale-blue eyes, and a slightly retroussé nose.  He was also a few inches taller, standing just under 5'10", and possessed a build bordering on the muscular.  As Andrew soon discovered, he was keen on sport, particularly cricket and athletics, which he frequently indulged in at university, and liked to go cross-country running at least once a week.  At first sight, one might have taken him for a German or possibly even a Swede, so much did his fair complexion connote with a strongly Nordic strain.  But he was distinctly an Englishman in character and speech, and wouldn't have been flattered by suspicions to the contrary!

     In addition to this athletic and serious-looking young man who, in-between casting shy glances at Carol, endeavoured to strike-up a conversation with Harding, the gathering had also been augmented by the presence of a certain Edwin Ford - a short, stocky, dark-eyed young man who transpired to being the neighbouring friend whom Philip Grace had gone to visit that very day, and who duly introduced himself as a fellow-undergraduate.

     "What subject are you reading?" Andrew politely inquired of him in due course.

     "Philosophy," he replied, with a slightly ingratiating smile.  "I'll soon be in my third year, unlike Philip here, who is due to begin his second shortly.  But we've known each other since we were so high (here he lowered a horizontal hand to the height of about three feet from the floor), and although he's at Oxford and I'm at Cambridge, we still continue to see each other during vacations.  As you probably realize, we're both on vacation at present - at any rate, as far as legitimate absence from college is concerned!"  He smiled anew, as though to provide a visible full-stop to his statement.  Then, by way of changing the subject, asked Andrew whether he was the artist everybody had been talking about?

     "No, I'm a writer actually," the latter confessed, wondering who the 'everybody' could be.  "Of mostly philosophical tendency," he added, in an effort both to preclude the student from asking what type and simultaneously curry favour with him.

     "Oh, how interesting!" Edwin exclaimed.  "Not Marxist, by any chance?"

     "No, not exactly," Andrew replied, a slight embarrassment in the presence of the others taking the place of the weariness he had felt, the moment before, at the prospect of being obliged to go through what he had already gone through with Pauline all over again.

     "In point of fact, he's a socialist and a transcendentalist," the latter suddenly remarked, coming to his rescue.  "A sort of socialistic transcendentalist."

     Andrew Doyle's embarrassment shot up a few degrees, with the reception of this statement, and he automatically cast a furtive glance in the general direction of the other group - for, in effect, two groups had formed - to see if he could detect any visible change in their collective demeanour.  But they seemed not to have heard or, at any rate, been affected by it.

     "A socialist and a transcendentalist?" Edwin duly exclaimed, his loud tone-of-voice betraying a degree of astonishment which caused Andrew further psychological discomfiture as, with less than steady gaze, he noted its effect on the other group - an effect of bemused curiosity which prompted one or two of them to turn their head in his direction, as though to say: 'Well, what's all the fuss about then?'  Oh, how he wished, at this moment, that he hadn't told Pauline so much about himself during the course of their walk that afternoon!  His lack of tact in one context had certainly not compensated him for his excess of it in another.  Quite the contrary!  But it was evident, by the startled expression on the chubby face of the philosophy student before him, that an answer or, at any rate, explanation was expected.

     "Yes," he at length admitted, doing his level best to ignore whatever curiosity certain members of the other group might still be displaying at this point, and looking at the expressive face of the student in question in as calm and collected a manner as possible.  "I happen to subscribe to both."

     "Do you mean to tell me that you subscribe to atheistic socialism and God-bound transcendentalism simultaneously?" Edwin objected, still manifestly incredulous.

     "Of course not!" Andrew retorted, becoming slightly defensive.  "I don't believe, however, that socialism need necessarily be opposed to religion.  On the contrary, I believe that it should eventually serve our spiritual aspirations by complementing Transcendental Meditation."

     "Then you're definitely no Marxist," declared Edwin, suddenly appearing a shade offended.  "For, as you may know, Marx warned his followers to be on their guard against transcendentalism, as constituting a threat to socialism.  Anyone who puts salvation in the sky instead of here on earth, and thereby discounts atheism, is a threat to socialism."

     "Oh, I quite agree," Andrew conceded, too much committed to the argument he had entered into with the philosophy student to be able to pull out or change mental track.  "But, even so, Marx had a rather mundane personality, didn't he?  You couldn't very well expect a man of his corpulent type to think particularly highly of transcendentalism, whatever he considered it to be.  Somehow, he doesn't strike me as the meditating type.  He's much too materialistic and intellectual."

     "Well, that doesn't detract anything from the claims of Marxism, does it?" Edwin hotly retorted, his face betraying signs of impatience, even embarrassment, by a faint colouring of the skin.  "The Marxist viewpoint is still the Marxist viewpoint, whether or not he was too materialistic."

     Andrew nodded vaguely.  "Oh, I quite agree," he repeated.  "But it's a rather limited one, all the same.  After all, just because a fat man of German-Jewish descent proclaims that transcendentalism is something to be guarded against, it doesn't necessarily follow that transcendentalism's bad.  On the contrary, it more than likely indicates that such a man wasn't qualified to either understand or practise it, given the limitations of his predominantly endomorphic temperament and build, in the, er, Sheldonian sense of the term," he added, alluding to one of the American psychologist W.H. Sheldon's principal physiological classifications.

     "But, damn it all! ‘God is dead’" the student, echoing Nietzsche, vigorously objected, "and, in a sense, has been so for some two thousand years.  All this nonsense about transcendentalism, spiritual aspirations, TM, and so on, is irrelevant, out-of-date, passé.  You remind me of Philip when you speak of such things.  Christianity and Christ are inimical to socialism, incompatible with it.  The co-operative society must be atheistic!"

     "Thoroughly mistaken," asseverated Andrew, who had by now cast off his remaining inhibitions and was in a fighting mood.  "And I wasn't alluding to Christ when I spoke of transcendentalism, but to the Holy Ghost."

     "What difference does it make?" Edwin retorted.  "God is God no matter what you call Him."

     Andrew had expected some such mistaken opinion, and sighed in heartfelt exasperation at it.  "Quite wrong!" he averred.  "The God of the pagans, or pre-Christians, was the Father, or whatever you'd like to call their equivalent of the Creator, the so-called Almighty.  The God of the Christians is - or, if you prefer, was - Jesus Christ.  And, finally, the God of the transcendentalists, or post-Christians, will be - and for some already is - the Holy Ghost.  The Blessed Trinity, which Christianity in its wisdom and foresight has bequeathed to us, isn't strictly a simultaneous phenomenon but, rather, a successive one.  It was initiated by Christianity because, as the middle development in Western man's evolution, Christianity was in an historical position to both look back towards the earliest stage of man's religious evolution as well as forward towards the future stage of it - the stage which we, in the West, have already entered upon, though not officially or with unanimous consent, during the course of the past 100-150 years, and most especially in the latter-half of the twentieth century.  In effect, we in the post-industrialized West live in the age of the Holy Ghost, and, if the human kind is to survive any subsequent apocalyptic upheaval, we'll progressively continue to do so, to grow ever more attached to the superconscious as opposed to the ego."

     Edwin Ford was completely taken-aback by this barrage of evolutionary theology from the comparative stranger in front of him.  What was all this nonsense about the superconscious, age of the Holy Ghost, middle development in Western man's evolution, etc?  He hadn't read anything about such things during the course of his studies at Cambridge!  Was this philosophy, too?  He looked at Pauline as though for support, confirmation that he was dealing with a madman or at least a fool.  But she merely stared back at him, as if to say: 'Well, what d'you find strange about all that?'  Even Philip Grace, who had disengaged himself from the other group and come over to join them, showed no signs of being outraged, baffled, or amused.  Quite the contrary, he merely requested Andrew, in a voice which bespoke genuine curiosity, to make some effort to explain, in greater detail, what he meant by 'the superconscious as opposed to the ego', together with certain other related aspects of his philosophy.

     "Yes," Pauline seconded, deferring to her brother. "Enlighten us accordingly!"

     Only too willing to oblige, Andrew cleared his throat before proceeding to deliver the broad outlines of his philosophy concerning the progress of human evolution from the subconscious to the superconscious.  It was something which, to varying extents, affected men everywhere, though the example of Europe, particularly Western Europe, was most apt because relevant to everyone present.  "Beginning in the subconscious, in subservience to sensuous nature," he began, "man's consciousness was relatively dark - the darker the more sensuous the type of nature man found himself surrounded and, to a large extent, dominated by.  One might argue that his ego, or conscious mind, was composed of approximately three-quarters subconscious and one-quarter superconscious, making it decidedly lopsided on the side of the former.  Consequently fear predominated over hope, hate over love, sadness over happiness, pain over pleasure, evil over good, and illusion over truth, so that a religious sense reflecting this negative imbalance necessitated a religion in which God, as 'Creator', was dark and cruel, requiring regular propitiation.  For this act of propitiation blood sacrifices, also dark and cruel, were deemed appropriate - the more prized and important, from a human standpoint, the greater was thought their prospect of success.  Witness the story of Abraham and Isaac from the Old Testament, the record of first-stage man in the Middle East.  Witness the example of the Aztecs in South America.  Think of the Druids in ancient Britain, who are more relevant to us.  Wherever man has been under subconscious domination in subservience to nature, a similar pattern of blood sacrifice, founded on fear of God, has followed suit.  For the subconscious is dark, and it's to 'the dark gods' - which, incidentally, D.H. Lawrence seems to have found so attractive - that it inevitably leads.  One might say that, at this stage of evolution, God is essentially hateful, a power to be feared and, if possible, won over to one's side.  The sacrifice follows as a matter of course.

     "But, fortunately, man doesn't come to a halt, like the beasts, but continues to evolve," Andrew went on, "and through the progress he makes in the expansion of his settlements or villages into towns, he manages to push the sensuous influence of nature away from himself to an extent which makes it possible for him to live in a more balanced psychological condition, and thus relate to a dualistic rather than a pre-dualistic religious framework, a framework manifesting itself in the antithesis between a bad god and a good god which, in Christian terms, is equivalent to the Devil and Christ - the one representative of the sensual, the other of the spiritual.  It's after the transcendent example of Christ, of course, that human evolution tends, and consequently it's the duty of all Christians to live as much as possible in His light, to fight shy of the Devil's darkness.  For Satan, symbolizing the mundane, would drag one back to pre-Christian paganism, which would conflict with one's deepest interests in spiritual salvation.  Willy-nilly, with the Church's guidance, one must follow the example of Christ, the man-god whom allegiance to the psychic balance between the subconscious and superconscious minds had made possible, since that balance constitutes the highpoint of the ego and accordingly entails an anthropomorphic projection perfectly relative to one's self-centredness as man in his prime as man.

     "But Christianity, being dualistic, doesn't stop at the dichotomy between Satan and Christ," Andrew continued, warming to his thesis, "but also, and in another context, divides the Saviour Himself into two tendencies, the evil and the good, so that to some extent - though to a lesser extent than in the pre-Christian context of a god of hate - one must fear Him as well, and thus, by living in His light, avoid the consequences of His wrath at the Last Judgement.  For wrath, on whatever grounds, appertains to the realm of hate, the transmission of negative vibrations through anger, and hate, as we all know, is evil.  But it isn't, however, the same kind of evil as generally manifested in and represented by the Devil, being a spiritual rather than purely sensual evil, and therefore is of less consequence, in the Christian schemata, than the latter.  For the essential dichotomy of Christianity is between the sensual and the spiritual, not between hate and love.  Thus the essence of Christ is His opposition to Satan, and this is what makes Him the spiritual leader of all true Christians.

     "But man, as I've already said, doesn't remain static but continues to evolve," Andrew went on, warming still further to his subject, "and thus his towns gradually expand into cities or, at any rate, some of them do, so that the sensuous influence of nature is at a still-further remove from him and, in accordance with the artificial dictates of his predominantly urban environment, he begins to forsake the balance between the subconscious and superconscious minds in favour of the latter.  Hence the ego, reflecting that former balance, goes into decline as more and more of the light of superconscious allegiance makes its mark on his psychology, and he begins to transcend dualism.  Yes, now one might argue that he's approximately one-quarter subconscious and three-quarters superconscious, decidedly biased in favour of the latter and therefore not in a psychic position to relate to the Christian dichotomy between Devil and God, sensual and spiritual, hate and love, Christ the Banisher and Christ the Redeemer - in short, to anthropomorphism.  No, it's at this third stage of his evolution that he turns, in response to his predominating spirituality in a superconsciously biased psyche, to the creation of a god of love, a god who doesn't require to be propitiated with blood sacrifices or confessions or prayers or charitable deeds, a god who doesn't judge and condemn to eternal torment those who haven't followed his example on earth, a god who doesn't take the form of man, a god who isn't opposed by an evil god of sensuous predilection but, rather, a god who is wholly transcendent, and thus completely beyond the realm of nature.  This god will be the Holy Ghost, the third and highest so-called 'Person' of the Blessed Trinity - though, should you wish to avoid Christian terminology, with its anthropomorphic limitations, you might prefer to follow Teilhard de Chardin's lead and refer to Him or, rather, it as the Omega Point, and thus transcend purely Trinitarian connotations.  The essential thing to remember, however, is that this god, reflecting our growing allegiance to the superconscious, is a god of love and that, because it's non-human, because the projection of human traits, whether physical or psychical, is irrelevant, one doesn't pray to it, as a Christian would pray to Christ, but simply experiences what is potentially it ... as the essential self within the psyche, an intimation of the Infinite which man, in consequence of his superconscious mind, is enabled to experience, a condition of higher awareness wherein all distinctions of good and evil, love and hate, are transcended in an all-embracing peace - the peace that 'surpasses all understanding' and, hence, intellectual ego."

     "Yes, it's essentially the age of the Holy Ghost," Andrew pressed on, oblivious of all but his immediate audience, "the age when man turns away from his former dualism towards the realm of peace, and so draws one stage closer to the culmination of his evolution in transcendent bliss, which is, of course, the condition of Heaven.  Christianity has pointed him towards this culmination for centuries, it has held up to him the dual image of Hell and Heaven, symbolizing the beginnings and endings of evolution, and placed Christ in the middle of this development.  One might say that it is a terribly long journey from the tortuous writhing of the Damned in Hell to the blissful passivity of the Saved in Heaven!  The juxtaposition of the two states in painterly depictions of the Last Judgement doesn't so much signify a simultaneous occurrence - contrary to what one might at first suppose - as the furthest possible remove from such simultaneity.  Strictly speaking, the Saved are no longer human but godly, just as the Damned are not yet human but beastly.  And in-between lies man who, in the long journey from the beastly to the godly, is now closer, when not either dualistic or pre-dualistic, whether on 'neo' or 'classical' terms, to the latter than ever before, more transcendental, and hence spiritual, than ever before, and thus closer to that salvation which resides in the post-human, not to say humanist, Beyond.  An ever-increasing number of us are no longer, from a species point of view, in our prime as men, but are growing progressively lopsided on the side of the godly, ever more spiritual as the decades pass.  This is certainly something to be grateful for, since it indicates that the promise of Christianity is being fulfilled and that it is we, in this post-Christian age, who are the ones actively engaged in fulfilling it.  As far as the more spiritually evolved of us are concerned, the example of Christ has served its day ..."

     "Antichrist!" a voice suddenly erupted from an area of the room to Andrew's left.  It belonged, as the writer quickly and somewhat disconcertingly discovered, to Mr Grace who, together with Robert Harding and Carol Jackson, had also been listening to the impromptu sermon he had delivered to the three young people in front of him.  He blushed perceptibly as the realization of this fact dawned upon him, and turned a rather startled face towards his accuser.  "How dare you come into my house and preach this kind of nonsense to a man who is a Christian and has endeavoured to educate his children accordingly!" Mr Grace protested.  "Who-the-devil d'you think you are?"

     His nerves violently on-edge, Andrew retorted: "If I'm he whom you accuse me of being, then I don't see that you should necessarily regard me with hate and suspicion, as though I were some dangerously evil man set upon destroying the spiritual life and reducing humanity to the level of beasts.  On the contrary, if I express views to the effect that Christianity is no longer relevant to the age in which we live, it isn't because I regard it as a source of goodness which I, ostensibly an evil man, wish to oppose and, if possible, make a contribution towards crushing.  Rather, it's because, as a man very much on the side of goodness, light, truth, the fulfilment of the Christian prophecy, etc., I recognize, in response to the nature of the age, that it is being transcended anyway, and that this is perfectly just, since strictly in accordance with the progress of human evolution towards a higher spirituality founded on the superconscious.  I don't turn against Christ because I am evil, as you, in your antiquated traditionalism, would seem to suppose, but simply because I'm evidently more enlightened than you, a person who is apparently at home with anthropomorphism and the consequent ego-projection of human traits, some of them rather nasty, onto the god you serve."

     "More enlightened than me?" Mr Grace vigorously demurred.  "How dare you say such a thing!  Don't you know that I'm a world-famous critic, a man who deserves respect and deference on account of his status, age, wealth, class, not to mention his role as your host?  Who are you to judge whether you're more enlightened than me?"  It was evident, by this pathetically egocentric outburst, that Henry Grace had lost all sense of restraint, of dignified perseverance, and would have been capable of sinking to almost any level of abusive fury.

     There was a titter of laughter from Edwin Ford, and Andrew noticed that Harding was glaring at him.  But the other people in the room showed no particular emotion at this point, being content merely to await whatever response he should decide upon with a reserved demeanour.

     "I wasn't specifically intending to flatter myself or to criticize you when I spoke like that," the writer at length responded in a pacificatory tone-of-voice.  "I was simply endeavouring to state a fact which would seem to be borne-out by your professed allegiance to Christianity and consequent adherence to dualism rather than to transcendentalism.  In actuality, however, I would wager anything that, like a majority of your kind, you aren't really a Christian at all but more of a Christian transcendentalist, being midway between Christ and the Holy Ghost."

     Mr Grace, however, wasn't to be mollified by such a wager.  "I am a Christian," he asserted, as though to defend himself from some unsavoury accusation.  "I attend church once a week, believe in Christ, and look forward to meeting the Saviour face-to-face in the Afterlife."

     Andrew vaguely nodded his head, as though in weary anticipation of some such admission.  "But do you sincerely believe that Christ is all there is to Western man's concept of God, that Christ is the be-all-and-end-all of human evolution?  Deep down, do you really think one cannot evolve beyond Christ?"

     "Yes, I do," Mr Grace averred, though, perhaps understandably, without much conviction.  He hesitated a moment, then continued: "Of course, I accept the Holy Ghost as the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, but ..."

     "Ah, so you do acknowledge the fact that there's something above Christ," Andrew interposed, with an expression of triumph on his lean face.  "You are prepared to admit to the validity of the Holy Ghost?"

     "By all means," Mr Grace confirmed.  "But I don't see what that has to do with it.  After all, I believe in Christ, the Son of God Who ..."

     "Oh, of course you do!" Andrew interposed again, growing slightly impatient with his host's theological conservatism, the product, no doubt, of a sheep-like acquiescence in what he had been taught many years before and had not bothered to question in the meantime.  "Yet that doesn't mean to say you can't have transcendental sympathies, or that Christianity is the final stage of man's religious evolution.  Quite the reverse, there are a lot of people these days who, just because they attend church once a week and pay lip service to Christ, imagine they're genuine Christians when, if the truth were known, they're incapable of a genuinely Christian faith and attitude to life because closer in reality to being transcendentalists.  They're caught between two worlds, two stages of man's religious evolution, and are consequently less Christian than they may think."

     Mr Grace frowned sullenly, doubtless to distance himself from being implicated in any such ambiguity, but Andrew prevented him from saying anything by raising his hand in mild rebuff and continuing: "Now don't think I'm condemning them for that, since it's only to be expected at this transitional juncture in time that a lot of consciously Christian people should be unconsciously less Christian than they may think, given the fact that they're subject, like most other people, to the anti-natural influence of the artificial environments of our big cities, and therefore aren't quite as finely balanced between the subconscious and the superconscious as a genuine Christian, living in the heyday of Christianity, would be.  And if, for that reason, they're less Christian, well then, they can only be more transcendental, which is a good thing.  For just as a transcendentalist-proper is on a higher level of spiritual evolution than a Christian transcendentalist, so, in a paradoxical sort of way, the latter is on a higher spiritual level than a Christian-proper.  In point of fact, most latter-day Protestant sects are effectively Christian transcendentalist, in contrast to the Catholic Church, which puts more emphasis on the feminine, viz. the Virgin Mary, and on propitiation, viz. confession, and is thereby closer, in essence, to paganism, to what preceded Christianity, even when one discounts the sublimated cannibalism of the Mass, wherein the body and blood of Christ are sacramentally consumed.  One might say that the fundamental difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is to do with a distinction between early Christianity and late Christianity, as between Christianity-proper which, with its beingful deference to the Virgin Mary, is somewhat Buddhist in its accommodation of sentience to the world, and Christian transcendentalism which, with its existential crucifix, transcends the world to some extent, if only materialistically so and, hence, with effect to the intellect primarily.  Thus if you're a Roman Catholic ..."

     "My family and I am Baptist!" declared Henry Grace with solemnity.

     "Well then, you're certainly more transcendental," Andrew rejoined, offering his adversary a confirmatory smile.  "You don't set much store by the Blessed Virgin, and you don't make a point of regularly confessing your sins to a priest.  You have, it seems to me, a more optimistic concept of God, which is exemplified by the fact that you don't go in any great fear of Him.  Why, He might almost be a god of love, the way you trust Him not to punish you for being opposed to confession.  But not quite because, being partly Christian, you still contrive to anthropomorphize God and thus relate, in varying degrees, to Christ.  You still acknowledge a dualistic framework to some extent, though obviously to a lesser extent than the genuine Christian - assuming, for the sake of argument, that there are in fact any such people around these days.  For it goes without saying that if the modern age, with its large-scale industrialization and widespread urbanization, isn't particularly friendly towards Protestantism, it's even less friendly towards Catholicism, which initially flourished in a much-less urban environment - indeed, in a predominantly rural one, and was accordingly more naturalistic.  But all this is slightly beside-the-point, a point I trust I made sufficiently clear to you when I said that our evolution is leading us towards a higher spirituality founded upon the superconscious, and it's therefore right and proper that Christianity, of whatever description, should be left behind as a matter of course.  Thus if you see me as an antichrist, Mr Grace, I'm not in the least ashamed of it, nor in any way conscious that I'm holding back evolutionary progress.  On the contrary, I'm only anti-Christian to the extent that I'm pro-transcendental.  I'm not a Christian but a transcendentalist, a man of the Holy Ghost, as I hope to have made conclusively evident by now."

     Mr Grace refused to comment, but Edwin Ford, who during the course of Andrew's explication had retained a discreet if resentful silence, suddenly reverted to his earlier concern with Marxism and the correlative assertion that a socialist society should be atheistic.  He saw no future, he said, for the type of person Andrew seemed to be so keen on defending, and flatly proclaimed himself in favour of atheistic socialism - not, it might be noted, to the overall pleasure of Henry Grace and Robert Harding who, at this unhappy juncture, simultaneously expressed an implicit disapproval of the subject by reverting to a discussion of their own - one, needless to say, on art.  "The fact is that modern man," Edwin continued, ignoring the disturbance to his right, "is outgrowing the illusions of the past and evolving, in consequence, towards a secular society in which God, however you conceive of Him, has absolutely no place.  Salvation is in our own hands, not in those of an illusory deity, and will only come about when we attain to the communist millennium, having, in the meantime, abolished competitiveness and established a classless society founded on co-operation."

     "Oh, I entirely agree," said Andrew, in enthusiastic response to the latter part of the student's argument.  "It is important to mankind's future welfare that the co-operative ideals of socialism should flourish.  For just as religion passes through three distinct stages, so, too, does politics - beginning with royalism, evolving to liberalism, and culminating in socialism."

     Both Edwin and Philip looked puzzled.  "How d'you mean?" the latter asked.

     "I mean," Andrew confidently replied, "that politics, like religion, corresponds to the nature of the environment in which a given people happen to find themselves, corresponds, if you prefer, to their psychic disposition in relation to it, so that a people predominantly existing in the subconscious will have a different political bias from a people for whom the superconscious has come to play a greater role.  Now if subservience to the subconscious results in royalism, genuine royalism, that is, not the neo-royalism and/or fascism we have seen so much of in recent decades but a pre-democratic authoritarianism which emphasizes differences of rank, wealth, race, intelligence, etc., and is distinctly competitive, then the converse situation ... of allegiance to the superconscious ... results in socialism, in a politics which strives to establish equality, abolishing differences of rank, wealth, race, intelligence, etc., and encouraging co-operation.  Well, just as our spiritual evolution from the beastly to the godly embraces a compromise position in-between paganism and transcendentalism en route which, as Christianity, reflects man in his prime as man, so our material evolution likewise embraces a compromise position in-between royalism and socialism en route which, as liberalism, also reflects man in his dualistic prime.  Now just as Christianity reaches its peak while the dualistic tension is strongest and man is most finely balanced between the subconscious and the superconscious in his ego, so liberalism reaches a peak while the tension between competitiveness and co-operativeness, democratic royalism and democratic socialism, is greatest, and the political battle accordingly most finely balanced.

     "It has been claimed, incidentally, that liberalism is incapable of producing great leaders - a view, if I may say so, which is really quite mistaken," Andrew continued, taking his exposition to a new level.  "For it's certainly capable of producing them while in the ascendant or at its peak, as witness men like Gladstone and Shaftesbury.  But as soon as it begins to decline, the odds are stacked against its doing so.  Now the further it declines, the more liberalism parts company, in other words, with its former dualistic balance and becomes progressively lopsided on the side of the Left, the less chance there is that it will produce great leaders, since they only appear, as a rule, when the battle between the Right and the Left is at its height, not when one doesn't have to exert oneself overmuch because the balance has been tipped so far in one's favour that the sailing, if I may use a sporting analogue, is smoothest.  Political leadership always requires a strong opposition if it's to distinguish itself."

     "Yes, but what does all this have to do with Marxism?" Edwin wanted to know, showing signs of impatience with Andrew's contention.  "I don't doubt that socialism evolves out of liberalism.  What I'm interested in establishing with you is the fact that 'God is dead' and the drive towards the communist millennium accordingly under way."

     Andrew Doyle felt somewhat annoyed with this cocky young Cambridge undergraduate for not having given ground to any appreciable extent on his misguided conviction that socialism and transcendentalism were incompatible, even after all the efforts he had put himself through to describe the three principal stages of religious evolution and to align them, so far as possible, with corresponding political stages.  No doubt, young Ford was of such a distinctly political persuasion as not to be able to abide the thought of religion, or the prospect of spiritual aspirations, still figuring in people's lives.  Like Marx, he put all or most of his eggs in the basket of socialism and left them there.

     But was he wrong?  Yes and no.  Yes, because politics weren't everything and couldn't be expected to bring one to spiritual salvation in transcendent bliss.  No, because he was to a significant extent the victim of his temperament, his physiological type, possibly even his race, and couldn't be expected to properly relate to those of a dissimilar constitution.  The world had need of men who would dedicate most of their energies to politics, who saw salvation largely if not wholly in material terms, if only to ensure that politics weren't ignored.  Likewise, it had need of the opposite kind of men, men who, for a variety of reasons, not least of all temperamental, would dedicate themselves primarily to the cause of spiritual advancement.  Yet it also had need of men like Andrew, who, being more temperamentally balanced between the material and the spiritual, realized that, strictly speaking, the one couldn't exist without the other, and that it was a rash presumption on the part of the temperamentally lopsided to suppose the contrary - namely that only their individual concerns mattered, not those of their opponents.  Taken to extremes, this would lead to mass purges of people who, for a variety of personal reasons, couldn't be expected to share one's views, to abandon their transcendentalism, shall we say, in the name of Marxism, and thus subscribe to a society based solely on politics and/or economics.  Rather than being accepted on their own temperamental standing as a legitimate contribution to the overall welfare of society or, at any rate, to a quite considerable section of it, such people would probably be regarded as fools, if not class enemies, and be liquidated for the good of Marxism.  Which of course would be partly true, since it would be for the good of Marxism.  But not for the good of human progress!  Not as a contributory factor to the culmination of evolution in the subsequent post-human millennium!  It would suit only one section of humanity - people whose mundane temperaments permitted them to regard material concerns as the be-all-and-end-all of mankind's salvation, who conceived of the Millennium solely in terms of economic co-operation, decent wages, council estates, equality of opportunity, freedom from want, etc., with never a thought for the deepest and most important needs of mankind - those of the spirit.  Man, apparently, was to be reduced to a beast who simply required to be well-housed and well-fed, provided with a decent kennel and regular meat.  But could man be so reduced?  Was it likely that progress demanded of man that he became less spiritual than of old, that progress signified a regression to pagan criteria - nay, even a complete elimination of man's spiritual potential?

     It seemed unlikely!  If anything, progress could only mean a refinement on and improvement of his spiritual potential, a better and more sensible way of satisfying it, of encouraging it to develop, according to the capacities of the individual.  Man was not to regress to a level scarcely above the beasts, with never a thought for anything beyond his material well-being and future survival.  On the contrary, he had to progress one stage closer to the godlike.  After all, even 2000 years ago it was acknowledged that man did not live by bread alone.  How much more so was it the case now!  How much more so would it be the case in future!

     No, the Marxist claim certainly had a point so far as outgrowing the Christian god was concerned.  But it was decidedly mistaken if it thought that men should outgrow the concept of spiritual salvation altogether!  If God was dead, it should not be taken to imply that God per se, or the Holy Ghost, was dead (since, in Andrew's view, this God didn't as yet properly exist), but only the Christian way of conceiving of God - the anthropomorphic, relativistic concept of God as Jesus Christ, based on the ego projections of dualistic man, or man balanced between the subconscious and the superconscious during that time he lived in a compromise position between nature and civilization in what has been termed, by philosophers of history like Spengler, a Culture.  But if Western Culture was in decline, as Spengler contended, then modern man was arguably on the rise, up beyond the cultural phase of evolution towards the transcendental phase, in which the superconscious considerably predominated over the subconscious, and the ego, at its height while the dualistic balance still prevailed, declines in proportion to the imbalance in favour of the superconscious.  Thus there is progressively less motivation for anthropomorphic projections, and consequently the Christian god is transcended.

     But not the Holy Ghost, Ultimate Reality, the Omega Point, or whatever one would like to call the true concept of God which takes Christ's place.  There can be no question of one's discarding that!  For it is only through progressive allegiance to that part of the psyche which presages the Infinite that man will eventually attain to his spiritual salvation in transcendent bliss, and thus enter the post-human millennium, that heaven-on-earth where only peace will reign.  The Christian prophecy of salvation will indeed be fulfilled, though not in strictly Christian or symbolical terms, but in post-Christian and hence literal terms, such as are readily acceptable to an age in which truth must increasingly prevail over illusion and ultimately, at the climax to our evolution, completely triumph over the illusory - to whatever pertains, in short, to the subconscious mind, the sensual, and the worldly.  It was closer and closer to the godly that we were heading, not closer to the beastly!  And because of this, the true concept of God was superior to anything which had preceded it.  (Note that one can have a true concept of God without believing in the existence of God, i.e. through refusing to confuse what is potentially this God, in the higher reaches of the superconscious, with what will truly become divine at the climax of evolution, following spiritual transcendence.  One can thus be an atheist and an upholder of God-in-the-process-of-formation at the same time!)

     Yet while the confusions resulting from and attendant upon the transition from one concept or stage of God to another continued to exist, as they would doubtless do until such time as the transition had been officially outgrown, it was understandable, if regrettable, that purely materialistic sentiments took possession of so many people and induced them to suppose that religion was a closed issue.  The fact of Edwin Ford's believing that politics, and politics alone, would suffice to take care of mankind's future welfare ... was by no means an uncommon assumption, since one effectively shared by thousands, if not millions, of fundamentally well-intentioned, though essentially deluded, people who took the gospel of Marx and kindred Socialists too seriously.  Whether or not he liked it, socialism would eventually have to serve transcendentalism, the Commissar, in Koestlerian parlance, would have to subordinate himself to the Yogi, so that, thanks to co-operative well-being on the material plane, man would be in the best possible position to develop his spiritual potential and thereby prepare himself for that long-awaited transformation from the human to the godlike, from man to superman, which would constitute the post-human millennium and, hence, salvation-on-earth.  Such a joyous climax to the long struggle humanity had waged through the ages in the name of progress would not be brought about, however, by the Commissars striving to eliminate the Yogis.  As Koestler suggested, the predominantly political temperaments and their religious counterparts would have to work together for the common good, not battle one another after the fashion of adversaries!  The co-operative society really had to be co-operative, unwilling to tolerate or sanction those divisive dualities out of which, thank goodness, man was slowly evolving.  There could be no question of people abusing one another, like Catholics and Protestants, democratic royalists and democratic socialists, in the transcendental society.  For physical passivity, not conflict, is the key to salvation - a salvation which, as deliverance from dualism, we were now closer to than at any previous time in the history of our race.

     So it was that Andrew strove to impress upon Edwin the limitations of his materialistic viewpoint, agreeing with him where agreement was possible, but strongly repudiating any claims to the effect that socialism should be regarded as an end-in-itself, without recourse to religion.  Clearly, materialistic Marxism had to be superseded, in due course, by a socialist philosophy not hostile to transcendentalism ... if what Andrew liked to think of as third-stage life, the life of post-Christian man, was to get properly off the ground and reasonably integrated (otherwise humanity would arrive at a dead-end in which the spirit suffocated beneath the oppressive consistency of materialistic considerations, cut-off from that higher destiny which alone constituted true salvation).  That this was unlikely to happen in the near future seemed only too obvious.  But eventually, once the world had rid itself of a number of existing conflicts, there could be no reasonable alternative to the establishment of a new socialism, one based not on hostility to Christianity, but on an acceptance of and allegiance to transcendentalism.  The struggle towards the creation of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Grail of religious striving, would have to be acknowledged - else politics was defeating its own ends.

     "Well," said Edwin at the conclusion to Andrew's latest speech, part of which he found attractive and even strangely credible, "what you say may well be true, but I'm damned if I'll submit to any meditation routine in the meantime.  I'd rather stick to my Marxism and concentrate on damning Christianity or, more specifically, bourgeois liberalism, with its parliamentary presumptions."

     "You're perfectly welcome to," Andrew responded, a faint smile of knowing resignation in accompaniment, "since no-one is asking you to wear a coat which doesn't fit.  But I'd be grateful, all the same, if you didn't make the mistake of damning transcendentalism in the process!"

     "Yes, so would I," seconded Philip Grace, breaking the respectful silence he had maintained, in company with his sister, while Andrew was delivering his lengthy and, at times, perplexing harangue.

     "Bah!" ejaculated the Cambridge undergraduate, with a certain cynical relish.  "You can keep your heads in the clouds of idealistic illusion, for all I care!"

     But before he or anyone could say anything else, Mrs Grace appeared on the scene, to announce that tea was ready.  The time had again arrived for them to take care of the body!

 

 

Bookmark and Share