“From every angle the competition gets boxed in as Doctor C indoctrinates his doctrine…” – Germaine Williams
People are the center of any group, activity or movement in human history. Analysis that portends human behaviors don’t manifest in ideation, policy and action will always tend to hagiography.
Being objective is a dubious goal for an analyst as objectivity is a myth. The true goal should driving towards a keener understanding of how “people” express their desires for objects, subjectively, and how that shapes our world. Trying to be objective can often lead to one not being aware of when they are the subject of the topic they are studying. Objectivity is a construct, but the question is, who’s is it? What’s objective in a ‘real’ sense since it doesn’t exist? Being objective in many ways is staying inside someone else’s predetermined lines of what’s reasonable based on a myriad of factors, sociological, cultural and even commercial.
Objectivity as a goal is similar to the economic idea that all “market participants” are “rational actors,” and therefore act within “made up” theoretical lines of analysis. Daily life deems this to not be a fact. Those who would chide you for not being “objective” tend to speak from some self determined moral, ethical, or “journalistic” high ground which they and their team decided was the foundation for objectivity.
Question is, what was/is the object they are hoping to define or capture with their parameter of what is considered “objective” analysis?
Question is, were you the subject of their decision?
All those terms (below) imply a ‘lack of feeling’ or personal input. I began this thread opining on “people” as the basis for any group, idea or movement. Removing the human component from analysis will either produce hero-worship or a complete miss of the target.
Science is not objective, its direction is guided. Journalism is not objective, its focus is decided. Politics are never objective, they’re based often in emotions. Laws are not objective, they are created by…people.
In the end cultivating real connections to real people offers more insight into how life works than any academic tome. This is why so much “elite” analysis fails to capture reality. They make reports on reports sitting in cubicles.
Get out in the field, whatever your field is.
Master your subject analysis to avoid becoming the object.
The influential power of narrative story telling throughout human history was a topic I touched upon in the first essay of this series. In the following installments I examined how the Nazi’s methods of mass media communications directly influenced much of what we consider ‘normal’ media relations today. That was followed by an examination of the figures in American Intelligence who spearheaded bringing that style to the American controlled theaters during WWII and throughout the Cold War.
This essay will examine an example of the means by which the e-State went about gathering the data they would use to craft images and narratives that burrowed right to the heart of human cognition. Employing a mixture of advertising, marketing, and psychological warfare techniques the powers that be have raised a Tower of Babel using fiber optics from which it broadcasts its soliloquies 24 hours a day in every direction imaginable.
“The e-State is the transnational collective consisting of powerful financiers, media companies, “mainstream” elite academia, globe spanning political networks and the military industrial complex.”
Key Words: Mass Observation, Sociology, Psychology, Edward Bernays, Ministry of Information, U.K history, US history, Public relations, Public Polling, Gallup, Cold War, WWI, WWII, Mass Media Communications, Propaganda, Narrative history, Media analysis, Social analytics
The overt and covert battle of ideologies known as the Cold War should never be viewed as too far disconnected from the events that gave birth to it which are World I and World War II. This essay, which is part three of a series, Part I, and Part II, explores the backgrounds and thinking of some of the people involved in crafting the US projection of self through narrative after WWII. The last essay in the series made the argument that the Nazi’s methods of mass media communication and indoctrination were utilized by the West after the war. This is an exploration of some of the historical facts which undergird that premise and an examination of the divergence between presentation and reality concerning historical ‘defenders of democracy’.
Key Words:Allen Dulles, James Angleton, Edward Lansdale, Henry Kissinger, Cold War, WWI, WWII, Mass Media Communications, Propaganda, Narrative history
HISTORY IN 4D –
WARLORDS OF THE INFORMATION AGE
Who are spies? Where do they come from? What are some real world implications of what they do?
The gathering of intelligence and production of effective counter-intelligence methods are as ancient as the act of war itself. Cross cultural Information warfare grew in concert with the spread of mass-media communications in the wake of WWI and WWII. The Cold War was fought on every conceivable battleground from the physical to the ideological.
The cultural Cold War that was waged included CIA, MI-6 and KGB funded art, literature, film and other myriad business interests and in many ways was just as impactful as the proxy wars fought all over the world by the two super powers of the era. Utilizing its network of agents the CIA wove itself into the very fabric of US media outlets. High ranking members of the CIA and other US intelligence agencies were already acquaintances, business partners and family members with the doyens of media, finance and industry as the latter largely hailed from the same class of American aristocracy.
One thing that spies spend a lot of time doing that the average person may be unaware of is write. Spies write news, they write movie scripts, consult on television shows and occasionally even have their hand in our music.
Having covered how the Nazi model of mass media psychological indoctrination was studied and applied by the Anglo powers in the last essay, the topic of discussion in this edition will center upon the American spies who had a large influence in the modality of communication by the e-State. These are the architects of the way the history of the 20th century is narrativized in the West to this day.
The e-State is the transnational collective consisting of powerful financiers, media companies, “mainstream” elite academia, globe spanning political networks and the military industrial complex.
Abstract: History in 4D is a series of essays examining the concept of the history of the 20th century as presented through the “public forum,” consisting of literature, film and mass media communications. These essays will investigate, analyze and present observations based on the assumption that in the 20th century the influence of state and corporate sponsored propaganda, government information classification strategies and the influence of the military industrial complex’s on television programming, news, and films has left us with a hologram version of history which they present to us as factual.
Keywords: Narrative history, Philosophy of History, Mass media communications, Media Studies, Narrative History, Literature, Intelligence Community, Military Industrial Complex, Cold War, Stylistics, Psychological Operations, Public Relations
If you had to describe it, what stage of the information age are we in?
Pondering this while running a cursory google search for some quick information served as the impetus for this essay. Following up on something that caught my eye during a documentary I knew that I’d have dig through the results a little bit. The topic was a figure from WWII and some of his exploits after the war. Due to some recent news the searches were only pulling from stories going back to 2015 (within the first 5 pages) and not coming close to stories that provided the information I was seeking. By altering the date settings I eventually found more on the topic. Through this exercise I realized something, Google search is “flattening,” time. Studies show that people don’t often go beyond the first few pages of search results, in fact, Google hopes that your answer is the first result shown to you. With the myriad of articles these days routed through AMP, AP, and Reuters, based on templates, you’ll get literally hundreds of articles based not only on the same topic, but sharing very similar text and story lines.
As a society have we hurtled past the actual desire to know things, and now are in the “utilization or implementation” stage of the Information Age? Never before has the world known as much nor had as much information available to the layman as right now. Yet the signs that, not only are we NOT smarter as a human society, but the wide availability of so much data actually tends to cause people to huddle into information silos. Awash in waves of data, opinions, facts, fake news and alternative realities, the root of all human imagery is the most under attack. That root lies in words. I heard someone say once that “Language is a technology that man uses to trap Time.” Through the act of delineating time via the use of language with terms such as past, present, future, and then planning, wading through and finally arriving at that “time” Man has trapped it, and himself, in language.Breaking time down into vocabulary is actually what created the tableau of time upon which Man measures the past, experiences the present and plans for the future. What is the technology of language being used to do in the Information Age?
I would posit that we are at the realization stage of this Era, where it becomes evident that the Information Age is about one’s ability to discern the true meaning of scenarios and even terms on your own amidst the maelstrom of words and images coming our way with no end in sight.
THE ARCHITECTURE OF MEANING
George Orwell famously wrote, “It’s a beautiful thing the destruction of words.” In this stage of the so-called Information Age that statement rings truer than ever before. Neologisms flood our world and bring with them variants on historical thought, culture and human nature. Intellectualists have always bumped heads with others concerning a perceived elitism regarding intellectual pursuits. One of these pursuits is colloquially referred to as being a “Word or Grammar Nazi.” Such pejoratives are usually deployed to silence the speaker, belittle their point and alienate them from the debate’s observers. However in a language like English the actual definition of a word can not be ignored. The problem is that it can take a quite erudite person to engage and defuse such tactics in open conversations. Part of the Information Age’s effect on language has been the introduction and major of use of terms related to computing, commerce, and political actions. These terms naturally have embedded themselves into the minds of the users and in many ways created tableaus more in line with what the powers that be would like for us all to be thinking and saying.
Languages work in many ways and English is a language where the specific meanings are encoded in specific words. Contrast this with the German language which utilizes compound or multi-syllabic words which communicate a statement. For example, shadenfreude, which is defined as, “is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.” The term is a compound of Schaden ‘damage, harm’ and Freude ‘joy.’ In English we’d probably say the person was evil, a hater, or petty. Yet one can glean from the usage that shadenfreude includes a sense of righteous ‘hating,’ to a degree and that the joy taken from other’s failure is deserved. Therefore it’s akin to celebrating the hubris or arrogance which lead to the failure of a foe.
An example of definitional complexity in English is found in the term, palimpsest, which means “a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, from which the text has been scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused for another document.” Another example would be some walls that contain hieroglyphics in Egypt. Modern scholars have found their prior views to have been misinterpretations of symbols due to the realization that some marks had been scratched out and written over producing designs which our era then mis-read. Walls in ancient Egypt were palimpsests. While you can take the time to describe this concept, if the word is understood by your audience you can save time and space, as well as use the term symbolically and literarily to create further meaning. Colloquial English generally remains divorced from higher level academic and technical English via this mechanism of higher order concepts being encapsulated in advanced ‘terminology.’
HOW WORDS WORK
A study of language in any depth soon uncovers the manner in which all languages continually change and evolve. Slang notwithstanding many terms end up ‘meaning’ something they weren’t intended to. This happens because of the manner in which words and their definitions tend to be treated in our daily lives.
There are three ways in which word meanings are used and understood:
(1) a standard or dictionary meaning,
(2) a colloquial or “average person” meaning and
(3) how the term is used during political or public speaking.
In our times these three layers of meaning are all used quite often due to the high level of media technology and the speed and reach of social media outlets. We are bombarded with a cascade of words and meaning on nearly a minute by minute basis. And while many people today are more aware of media bias, spin and even psychological operations, we can see as the vitriol and debates continue to rise, folks still are not on the same page. Partisanship, especially in the U.S., has promoted further group segmentation, creation of vernacular, and manners of speech meant to connote one’s allegiance to some ideological faction or another. Disturbingly people seem to be more focused on their own lexicon rather than noticing how there has been a national creep towards anti-intellectual discourse.
WORDS HAVE MEANING?
Words have always been weaponized and used as barricades to understanding. A subtle trick of the use of ‘words’ in this stage of the Information Age has been push to use abbreviations of headlines and media speech. This reason this matters is due to the influential part media has to play in colloquial speech these trends invariable become encoded in our language and the catalog of how history is verbally negotiated. Abbreviations serve to communicate a series of words more quickly, yet it also has the effect of minimizing the scope of the matter.
As many a ritual and verbal affirmation across cultures require, the ‘saying of the name,’ the delegating of that action also has an unseen effect. Saying POTUS instead of the President of the United States creates the feeling of big cartoony icon buttons with rounded corners on your iPhone update versus old attempts by Microsoft to look sharp and futuristic with clean straight lines and drab blue and grey default options. OBL just doesn’t sting like Ossama Bin Laden. Watching a journalist or politician say it almost can feel like a comical way of dancing around saying the name of a local bully. These abbreviations and buzz word embed themselves into the architecture of speech and slowly push anti-intellectualism to the fore in our discourse. This happens as the result of simplifying issues and ideas into memes and quips produces very few results, let alone truly enlightening debate or discourse.
At the level below the voices of the media and the State, rival intellectual factions have always had their own code words and vocabularies. In our current age the interplay of social media promotion and cable news networks fanning the flames of partisanship by the winds of gusts they create attempting to keep up with new truth of online news preeminence, coalesce into purposeful Orwellian attempts at word alternation in real time. Certain groups attempt to repurpose invectives from Trump into slogans, terms like “woke” are used by numerous factions both in mocking and duplicitous ways. In addition you’ll notice blatant Orwellianisms like “Patriot Acts,” “Regime Change,” and “Humanitarian Interventions,” applied to legally repugnant legislature, military backed coups, and preemptive wars, funneling into the speech patterns of regular men and women on the street. Once couldn’t ask for a greater infiltration of thought through language than to have someone who claims they are a lover of peace defending one President’s “wars of humanitarian intervention,” as more just than a President’s wars for “regime change,” and “nation building.” Over the years the media has injected evermore terms from the worlds of advertisers, corporate financiers and the military that many of us speak in the voices of the those entities without knowing it. How does one express disagreement with the powers that be when you’ve subtly become to communicating amongst yourselves in their language?
“Digging in the Crates” is a series of posts related to reading done either for research or personal edification taken from texts of the past. Many of these will be refashioned posts created from threads I have posted on Twitter. I’m not sure how others do threads but I tend to make them more ad-hoc than finely tuned, on purpose, which coincides with how I view Twitter as a more immediate and improvisational medium. Not all agree with my view of Twitter but that’s how I see it and use it. In this series I will transpose some of those Twitter threads but also reserve the right to embellish and update the topic matter on this site. The subject matter usually concerns themes which connect the past and the present through various ‘evidences’ of connections I ferret out from my research.
In the course of reading some literature on the occult history of American’s early denizens and founding fathers the name of Sir Francis Bacon is sure to come up again and again. In one text the idea of the knowledge of America pre-“discovery” references Bacon’s work, “The New Atlantis,” as a text worthy of note due to it’s possible coded meanings and description of technologies seemingly far ahead of the author’s time. I procured a copy of the document, read it, and the following is a series of observations I made on the text concerning the ideas of: futurism in Bacon’s works, development of language, literary themes, and occult underpinnings to the “philosophy of America,” in the minds of the architects of the “New World.”
(1) Starting a thread for my reading of “The New Atlantis” by Francis Bacon. Bacon greatly advanced both the vocabulary of the English language and various themes in scientific and occult thought in his adherents across the continent of Europe. Released in 1627, “The New Atlantis,” much like the books of Arthur C. Clarke, has a very self fulfilling sci-fi quality about it.
(2) As he’d have wanted, I’m already learning a few new old words.
(3) One of the fascinating things is how this book reads like an alien encounter of sorts. Tales of technology and hints at modern medicine.
(4) Furthering the close encounter motif the ‘guardians’ refer to a House of Strangers Bacons’ crew is in, and outlines boundaries for them to follow.
(5) Bacon was so prolific there are a class of scholars known as “Baconian.” Within their literature and many discussions in alternative history circles there are many references to idea of the New Atlantis being America.
(6) The imagery used is biblical, futuristic (1627) and ethereal.
(7) There was a messianic fervor related to that time of exploration and expansion. Some thought the Natives were the 13th tribe of Judea. Columbus in his diary at one point claimed to have found the nexus of the four rivers which flowed from the Garden of Eden.
(8) In the text we find the crew adrift east of Peru, Bacon turns up the symbolism with the island named “Bensalem,” as the setting for his utopia: Wisdom, ethics, god.
(9) Reference point on the Biblical relevance of the usage of the term, “salem.”
(10) Bacon’s crew learns of the island’s history, a Noah allegory ensues, and we see a combination of Biblical exegesis mixed with symbolism.
(11) Here the imagery is undeniable and proclaims a direct link to the history told in the Abrahamic faiths. It puts Hebrews, Persians and Indians on this new land found off the coast of Peru.
(12) More of the Close Encounters feeling here. A benevolent group of wise beings, possibly divine, worthy of admiration, sight barely seen, are deemed to be helpful and righteous. Very reminiscent of the benevolent alien theory espoused by many New Agers and UFO buffs during our millennia.
(13) Here the Bensalemites are flat out referred to as magicians and we get a sprinkle of the secret oaths and pledges Bacon was fond of. Bacon is also given credit for advancing not only the sciences but adding great depth to occultism as well. He was a Rosicrucian and some believe he had a hand in altering masonic tenets via his influence in certain circles.
(14) MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Here we have a direct reference to America, the New/Old Atlantis.
(15) The history of Atlantis is described. New and Old World been in contact & war for eons. Natives represent detached relations to Europe?
(16) I present to you: Sir Francis Bacon, ancient alien angel Solomonic Temple theorist.
(17) Moving into the political portion of the work. The island is wary of strangers unworthy of their teachings. China’s castigated.
(18) Published in 1627 Bacon’s allegory is factual. China was a major sea faring power. Going at least as far as Africa in huge ships.
(19) Some had huge plots of soil, animals and produce. Emp Zheng i think. Latter rulers closed the country and scuttled the ships.
(20) Had they wanted China could have “discovered” America or rolled up on Europe’s south western coasts. I pondered this very idea in a paper I wrote on why I feel China didn’t embark on Imperialistic missions in the past. Maybe one day I’ll post that to the site.
(22) Bacon’s idea of inner circles of honor bound members who protect history, wisdom, etc, breach the surface. Heavy Biblical imagery.
(23) Now we discover its a Light bringing secret society whom ‘color themselves under the names of other nations’ during their “research.”
(24) Light as God’s first creature is a cool line. It’s probably scientifically true. Symbolically speaking tho…
(25) In a fascinating turn the crew encounters Jewish inhabitants on the magical island of Bensalem. No love appears lost by Bacon.
(26) Moralizing on utopian versions of chastity as a method by man to become greater. European virtues are cast as not pious enough.
(28) Close Encounters of the 17th century mind:
(29) He’s definitely speaking from a futuristic perspective for his time. And we do have much of these ideas now:
(30) Here is where the story takes off. The protagonist is given some game by the Father of the Solomon House as to their culture.
(31) Descriptions of observatories or wind tunnels. A reference to instructing hermits what to observe. Desalination and wind turbines..1627
(32) A Chamber of Health that qualified the air as proper and good for the cure of diseases…
(33) Bacon is Bacon for a reason: GMO, seedless plants, “species conversion?”, animal testing for later human applications, Bioweapons…
(34) The following passages are filled with references to recuperative and rejuvenating agents, life extension, matter conversions, etc.
(35) With the knowledge in tow that some consider Francis Bacon the actual author of Shakespeare it’s worth noting the language is lush.
(36) Planetariums, theaters, “deceits of the sight,” telescopic ability into space, and powerful microscopes. Presented altruistically..
(37) and even eco-friendly based upon form and function. If you were to dissect this line for line (which many have) you can argue that
(38) Bacon lays out THE “Thought Model Map” for the modern scientific world in this one essay. The inspiration for most things are in here. The Royal Society of Britain was his scion and he advocated a “college” of elite minds, girded by their view of impeccable ethics, tasked with leading society in the right directions. Ideas like these will always get the minds of seekers churning.
(39) Crystalline metallic glass, or ceramic metals (?) Radio and acoustic frequency mastery. Devices which imitate or replicate sounds.
(40) All these ‘things’ or ideas would have been futuristic at the time. But they were a future Reality for someone with the mind of Bacon.
(41)This is the portion where musing over allegorical parallels between the tech of the Solomon House and America would come in.
(42)I got started on this reading something about America: the New Atlantis and connecting it to Bacon. So I hit the primary text.
(43) Bacon was such a heavy hitter that any “literary” or scientific connection to him is worth digging into, if that’s your thing.
(44) Bacon is also referred to as a Godfather or Yoda of Freemasonry and was a known Rosicrucian during his lifetime. Tudor lineage. Here is a link to an article on the subject.
(45) Baconian cypher systems have consumed the lives of many people in the centuries since he made them. He’s also connected to John Dee..
(46) I have to confirm those ties but John Dee was a wild dude himself. He’s was the 1st “007”, a magician, spy, diplomat author etc.
(47) The point being that the possibility of America being a known quantity to people in some capacity before Columbus surfaces here.
(48) While a lot is made of Puritans there were a wide variety of “religious” beliefs in early America. Many would be considered occult.
(49) I’m about half way through this book and Manly P. Hall’s influence was undeniable and he was a Baconite.
(50) A reference by Bacon himself to encoding, ‘occulting’ and hiding information from the eyes of the vulgar. Is New Atlantis code for US?
Naturally, the contemporary mores of society take precedence over the original zeitgeist in which a word or idea was born. It is the contest between context and meaning that rages on through the living pages of history we write with our daily intellectual efforts. The constant supposed evolution of human thought produces a subconscious division between most thinkers: progressive vs. conservative. In this sense these words are divorced from their well known political connotations, while retaining the underlying premise. A progressive thinker in the history of ideas is looking to reframe and reanalyze words and ideas and if possible update them to the current zeitgeist. A conservative thinker is one who tends to funnel their thinking into ‘traditional,’ and or fundamentalist interpretations of words. Conservative’s concerning words will invariably slam headlong into the overarching arbiter and interloper into most thinking in the 20th and 21st century: post modernism.
In this piece I’m referring to post-modernism in a broad fashion as a collection of ideas which tend to disregard tradition, question long held assumptions, and place a lens of subjectivity lens over anything with meaning. This is something that any theologian in the “modern” era will come up against. That tension of ideas plays a part in the origin of the term which inspired this piece, retcon, which is short for Retroactive continuity:
Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.
Due in part to the oversampling of comic book influenced movies, television shows and the rise of video game culture, the term “retcon,” has come to wide spread public knowledge. I had been aware of the term before it became in vogue but it wasn’t until recently that I looked into where it came from. After searching through a paucity of dictionaries I found wiki to be more encompassing in their definitions. According to wikionary.org retcon’s etymology is:
“A blend of retroactive + continuity. The term “retroactive continuity” was popularized by comics writer Roy Thomas, who was known for writing superhero comic books set decades in the past. A situation, in a soap opera or similar serial fiction, in which a new storyline explains or changes a previous event or attaches a new significance to it.”
The debut of the term is triangulated to some time during early to mid-1980s. Wikipedia entry:
“Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.”
The Wikipedia entry is more robust and does a better job of explaining the term closer to its colloquial meaning, especially the portion about breaking continuity. As those of us who watch or read properties where major retcons have taken place know all too well the timeline and many important events along it, are thrown out of position or their original meaning is altered. In the right hands it can be a powerful literary device to employ yet in practice it is often used force some commercial or technical agenda change unto the storyline.
Character arcs can be destroyed or refashioned and sometimes the whole thematic underpinning of an identity can be altered. (Han Solo shot first, as he should have, Han was a pirate).
Changing a portion of a character’s back story takes place in ‘realtime,’ as in when you’re reading or watching the material, yet the effects of the changed need to be re-thought, start to re-finish, in order to realize the true dynamics that had been altered. This will take place in your future, as in after you’ve read the piece or learned of the retcon’s existence. This effect can be seen as a re-unfolding of history, a recycled chronology with edits. In those types of moments is where we experience a retcon in its current colloquial usage.
Digging deeper we uncover where the term literally comes from. In the etymology section of the article we have this:
“The first published use of the phrase “retroactive continuity” is found in theologian E. Frank Tupper’s 1973 book The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg.” Pannenberg’s conception of retroactive continuity ultimately means that history flows fundamentally from the future into the past, that the future is not basically a product of the past.”
The term “retroactive continuity” originally draws its meaning from a theological context and was used to describe the ideas of one Wolfhart Panneberg. I conducted a brief and admittedly shallow survey of the work and life of Pannenberg. He was a German theologian who made an interesting contribution to the field through his vision of the history of the world as a form of revelation centered in space-time on the Resurrection of Christ. In this time-space of Pannenberg’s the the ‘end of the world,’ (the death of Christ) has already taken place and the (future) history of man is a revelation from God leading us back to the point of ending (the past). It may sound like a circle but his presentation of the idea is that of a “backwards revelation.”
Pannenberg sought to use science, history and various forms of dialectic to present a theological model that intersected with the modern world’s criteria for academic discourse. He was greatly influenced by Hegel and was a student of accomplished Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Pannenberg endeavored to show, “… history that demonstrates the deity of God is broadened to include the totality of all events,” by expounding upon a his theories in rounds of debates with scholars of various disciplines. In a paper entitled, “THE ORIGINS AND LIMITATIONS OF PANNENBERG’S ESCHATOLOGY, ” by David Zehnder, the author states:
“Pannenberg always evinced a Hegelian restlessness toward finding absolute truth because he thought that Christianity would too easily become obsolete without this character.While Hegel founded this truth-as-history motif that would later influence Karl Marx, Wilhelm Dilthey, Martin Heidegger, and Hans Georg Gadamer, his approach’s own faults set up his followers’ failures (Marx especially) because Hegel never understood his own philosophy in terms of history’s true whole.”
This drive in Pannenberg undoubtedly had come at the efficacy of post modernist thought in watering down people’s ‘traditional’ religious convictions and the worlds of art and science had been beating that same drum for centuries at this point. Pannenberg therefore sought to engage this new mode of thinking on its terms:
“Contemporary theology, Pannenberg contended, must be debatable in a public forum and therefore must concern history as an objectively accessible arena of inquiry.”
“Pannenberg was thinking of the reconciliation of the world to God as the whole meaning of history. The knowledge of this future is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead: “the coming of the end of time has broken through all conceptions of the promise of God; indeed, in the event of the resurrection it has broken through everything we can conceive of.”Because Jesus manifests the end of history proleptically, provisional judgments about God’s work in time and human knowledge of him are possible.”
Not surprisingly his ideas did change over the course of his life but his goal of expressing his deeply held religious conviction in a way that could be digested and accepted at the academic level as “factual,” is a fascinating turn due largely to the ethos of post-modernist thought. He was attempting to shore up tradition via the use of the tools that were largely being used to dismantle it. Contrasting research on the New Testament’s physical realities and the wars of mankind he altered some of his premises to better encompass the heart of his ideas. Once again from Zehnder:
Pannenberg’s attempt to uphold traditional Christian claims against competing gods and worldviews is, for all of its subtlety of presentation, audacious. But he sees universality as constitutive of theology itself and cannot imagine talk of God—the creator and source of all life—without these absolute claims.
The end of history in Pannenberg’s theology was the death and resurrection of the Christ, which makes it the “beginning” and yet out distant past. An excerpt from a 1974 essay by one Richard Lischer does a succinct job of explaining the idea:
“For Pannenberg, resurrection does not represent a miraculous interruption of nature and history. Only those for whom history is blandly homogenized will say that because resurrections do not happen now, the resurrection of Jesus was a miracle or an intersubjective experience, or else a hoax. Pannenberg rejects all three alternatives. He prefers to call Jesus’ resurrection a unique historical event which, investigated by the usual historical methods, must be accepted like any other event of history: reason sees the fact. Faith, in Pannenberg’s use, awaits the future. Resurrection makes history in the sense that it establishes a goal and an overall meaning for everything that happens. And it answers man’s universal longing for life after death.”
There are no conclusions to be made from this piece as it was an largely an exercise in figuring out where a term came from. As usual when one digs into etymology and the genealogy of ideas they unearth contradictory discoveries. The term we use today to signify events being altered in some fictional realm and affecting the future continuity is ‘retcon,’ which derives from ‘retroactive continuity’, a term coined to describe a theory which implies history runs in reverse from future to past while proving itself to be real and a measure of proof that a celestial God exists guiding history. Man argues over what is natural, what is true, or what is right. Various tools, man made and otherwise are used to attempt to win this argument. Time and time again the tools overlap and become one, only to be broken a-part, examined, and re-assembled in a new fashion. Time is a flat circle. See you on the flip side.
For more on Pannenberg’s ideas you can check any of the following:
Pannenberg: A Post-Enlightenment Theologian PETERJ.A.CooK.