What battle commander, when wanting to survey the enemy with his own
eyes, would do so from a cave, or behind a hill instead of on the crest?
amat victoria curam
(Victory loves preparation)
Orthodoxy versus Heterodoxy
When surveying battle terrain, real estate or a landscape, we are always
doing so from a position, the actual position of our eyes. This is our
viewpoint, our perspective, and is a given. What is therefore advantageous is to get our
eyes INTO a position where we can see most of the field and note the most
important aspects of what we are looking at, so that we can draw the
best or most valid conclusions. Looking from multiple vantage points is always
desirable, and other people, when they are trustworthy, can serve for this.
When gathering information about an enemy, its activities and territory, there are at
least two important aspects: observation from a distance and spying. Observation of
enemy entrenchment can be done from one's own or from neutral territory. That is the
safest of the two methods, and can be done from different vantage points or with multiple
But mere observation from a distance is limited to what can be implied by what is
seen. Spying is the way to get into the heart of the enemy's domain and learn much more
about what is hidden from sight, the important intangibles such as plans, intentions,
goals, timing, strategy, tactics, vulnerabilities, popular support, etc.
However, what battle commander would trust and listen to a spy that, when sent
out to surveil the enemy, spent all of his time just hiding in his own
side's territory or even behind enemy lines without engaging the enemy
to learn as much as is feasible? He then comes back and has to fabricate a
lie, a false story about what he has learned. Thus, a good spy has to engage
the enemy on an intimate basis WITHIN enemy territory.
What worthy battle commander would pay attention to just one aspect
of the enemy's force, position or potential threat while ignoring equal
or greater important aspects?
What worthy battle commander would assume that in his survey he has
learned EVERYTHING that might have a bearing or come into play, and not
be prepared for the unexpected, some surprises?
Comparison to spiritual terrain
So it is when we consider intangible terrain like the political, social or religious landscape.
As a pejorative, an ideologue is a person that is dogmatic and arrogant, who has
committed himself to a position and primarily wants to defend their
position AND belief rather than challenge, learn, adjust, move to improve or change it.
No one needs to defend their position per se. It is what it is. They may
be legitimate in defending why it is efficacious or advantageous in a
partial or limited way, but it is NOT legitimate to defend it as the
only or even best position to see the truth. Cannot we say with
confidence that, at least with few or rare exceptions, only a person that has learned from different positions
or perspectives is worth listening to? This is an important principle, and
wise men know it.
Social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, politicians and other advocates who want
to improve our social conditions, our politics, our academic disciplines and universities seem
to reflect a general failure to understand that a vantage point or viewpoint
is NOT the same as belief. "Orthodox” means right belief and heterodox would
therefore be tantamount to falsity, confusion and/or disunity.
Heterodoxy is actually not a good state, NEVER something to celebrate, and should be an
embarrassment to our critical thinking faculties. Intelligent, reasonable men of good
will SHOULD be able to agree on things that matter.
What we call "orthodoxy" is simply
"the church that won." - Richard Carrier
Currently, we seem to be stuck on
celebrating our "diversity", which is all right as long as that is JUST
diversity of viewpoint or perspective. We all SHOULD naturally have a
different viewpoint or current position–that part is not only inevitable, not just desirable
but also can be of great advantage. YET there is one truth, and generally only one best
course of action. Shouldn't we strive to arrive at these? Shouldn't we
understand that lacking of unity in belief, purpose and values ALWAYS
engenders trauma and trouble, and is NOT something to celebrate?
On a different foot, orthodox Christianity is so called MERELY
because it is traditional and in a majority, and orthodoxy has sometimes
gotten a bum rap because of this; yet orthodoxy should never be conflated with consensus
or tradition. The ideas fostered on this site are a case in point. The author has
agonized over the issues for many years and taken great pains to be extraordinarily learned and to
be rational, logical, reasonable and intellectually responsible, yet the concepts and conclusions
presented on the site are anything but compatible with so-called "orthodox" Christianity
tradition and consensus
Right belief is determined by the facts, information, logic, and last
but not least, reason; whereas tradition is determined by the past and consensus
is determined by a numerical majority. Let me remind you of a dramatic
illustration. Should we forget that the
Sanhedrin, that august body of 71 ostensibly sensible, seasoned husbands and
fathers with measured judgment that constituted the Great High Court of Israel
at the time of Jesus, were not in the habit of convicting and executing
innocent men. Yet, that is exactly what they did when they unanimously
sentenced Jesus to death because it was expedient to save their religion
from further erosion caused by this itinerant maverick.
After they had been arguing
interminably about the issue for a couple of years, their leader stood up and said something
along the lines of, "You know nothing at all. You do not understand it
is better for one man to die... rather than for the whole nation to
perish." These men were otherwise so scrupulous that they wouldn't put
the thirty pieces of silver returned by Judas into the treasury because it was
blood money. However, when it came to protecting their religion and position they were willing
to do almost anything, which even included crucifying an innocent man..
Furthermore on a somewhat related note, to have a worthy cause or
goal and then bank on passion, good intentions and sincerity without good
philosophy, critical thinking and CLEAR ideological vision or
discernment, is so common, yet so banal and stupid as to be right next to being
obscene. Case in point: Politically, the United States is so awash in zealous narrow
minded factions that neither can nor even desire to see the big picture. The
premise is that the same can legitimately be said about Christianity in our world of today.
Where are the men that can see that something is monstrously wrong with
current belief, that can also never be unmindful of the deplorable human condition?
Where are those that ardently desire to come to better
conclusions and the best beliefs, rather than just protect and defend a false
"orthodoxy" based on tradition and momentum? Where are the few
good men that find the narrow path and come into effective unity?