Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wilhelm Schmidt, S.V.D.

bio; another bio, but in German

David Rooney gives a good summary of Fr. Schmidt's work, The First Religion of Mankind

It is difficult to find his 12 volume Der Ursprung der Gottesidee, The Origin of the Idea of God. His books in English, The Origin and Growth of Religion, High Gods in North America, The Culture Historical Method of Ethnology, and Primitive Revelation are not easy to find in used book circles. I would hope that someone would be interested in reprinting them, but I imagine the number of people who would be interested would be small. (Except, apparently, American creationists.)

One wonders if someone is storing this anthropological data supporting a primitive monotheism; the work of Fr. Schmidt and others can be found in books and in the journal Anthropos, and with the growing incursions of modernity everywhere, I wonder how many of these primitive cultures have been able to maintain themselves in the same state that they were in a century ago, and how many have been lost since then. The data these (mostly Catholic) anthropologists gathered were distrusted by most of their secular and atheist contemporaries--one imagines that the response today would be a quick brushingaside of that the data, which would be considered as outdated. It would also be in the interest of certain people to keep such data unknown to many, since it is of such apologetical value and evidence against an evolutionary understanding of religion, which exists within anthropology and sociology.

While we can know that God exists and is One through natural reason, the beliefs of these primitive cultures have affinities with Divine Revelation, especially of Creation and the Fall. From Sacred Scripture we know God revealed Himself to Adam and Eve; it seems very likely that this first revelation would have been passed on to their descendants and endured to some degree as a testimony to God, though it is understandable that it eventually became corrupted or lost for many.

As for certain atheists and non-monotheists within the "environmentalist" movement and don't believe in Divine Providence--they assume humanity (or a certain part of it) must become masters of their own destiny, and if there is data that the carrying capacity of the world has been surpassed, then various measures should be taken to ensure the survival of the species.

Evidently the gods worshipped by other cultures they hold up as ideal are useless, as are the spirits of the animists. Is this atheistic attitude characteristic of the prominent leaders and thinkers of the environmentalist movement? (Or of those associated with neo-Tribalism or anarcho-primitivism?) I don't know what Daniel Quinn's personal attitude towards religion and God is (even if he takes it upon himself to give his own interpretation of Genesis 2.4, in accordance with his beliefs about the state of the world and what should be done).

It's almost like the "God's in his Heaven; all's right with the world" of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but not quite, since they obviously don't think all's right with the world--however, they think they can bring the Garden of Eden back, and moral evil will be eliminated once that which causes evil, civilization, is destroyed. (And they might not even believe in God, preferring evolution as historical truth.) Is Rousseau an explicit source of some of this?

[I suppose that sentiment of NGE would be closer to a Deism closely linked to the Enlightenment and a certain exaggerated confidence in human progress. In many ways anarcho-primitivism is a reaction against the Enlightenment, though without the consequences of the Enlightenment, it is unlikely that anarcho-primtivism would have gained the intellectual resources necessary to make its critique.]

How much of neo-Tribalism, etc. is an extension and development of Hippie culture?

I suppose that no generalization can be made about the adherents with regards to religion, except a negative generalization, such as they are unlikely to be Christian. I found this book by John Zerzan's Running on Empty:

Zerzan's arguments are as compelling as they are radical. Originally, he writes, there were no signs. People lived without symbols, in a Zen-like mindfulness, existing in the eternal present. As "primitive" hunter-gatherers, we existed in a state of equality, mutual cooperation, and harmony with nature. Then came agriculture and civilization, and inevitably, some people became haves, and other became have-nots. To justify this power imbalance, religion—the art of inventing and manipulating symbols—was invented. All symbols, Zerzan argues, come ultimately from religion, and they all exist to exert power and justify imbalances: God loves me more, so I get all the stuff. There can be no civilization without a priesthood.
So how did they communicate, if not with signs? Can there be the exercise of intelligence without language development? One would think not. (I'd have to ask Fr. Sherwin for his thoughts on this.) As for religion between a justification of power--this sounds almost like something from Marxism. As for "God loves me more, so I get all the stuff"--is this not the critique some have made of Calvinism?

In the revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries, anarchists were closely allied to other groups, especially secret societies, in opposing the government and religion. (See, for example, Emma Goldman, and wikipedia's entry on Anarchism and religion.)

Catholic readers know who the proto-anarchist is.

Links:
website for Anthropos

Jean-Jacques Rousseau page; IEP entry; Rousseau Association

See also New Tribalists, Anarcho-primitivism, The Ishmael Community
Derrick Jensen, Primitivism.com, Insurgent Desire, interview with John Zerzan (wikipedia entry, some writings), neo-Tribalism-tribe.net, the Anthropik Network (I have no idea how Mr. Jason Godesky stumbled across this blog), wildthymehorticulture


"Peak oil and Permaculture", which refers us to "Attack is the best form of defense"

Not necessarily anarcho-primitivists, but their work has been appropriated by them? Jack Forbes, Jared Diamond, Edward Goldsmith (links page), Fredy Perlman
(My post on Jared Diamond's Collapse; a review of his The Third Chimpanzee; Steve Sailer's observations)

Introduction to Permaculture
Permaculture the Earth
Permaculture Research Institute
Permaculture Magazine
International Institute for Ecological Agriculture
UK Permaculture Association
Permaculture Institute
Urban permaculture guild
La'akea Permaculture Gardens/Permaculture in Hawaii
Peak oil and permaculture/David Holmgren

Farmer Scrub's blog

Misc:
Another NGE gallery
www.anipike.com

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