When Jesus spoke of the first being last and the last first, he was, as ever, teaching us something about the relationship between God and each individual. Without speaking now about what that lesson is, it should certainly be noted that sayings like this have often been used in the political arena to give ‘Christian/moral’ cover to attempts to eradicate all qualitative differences among individuals.

Differences in intelligence that are obvious from an early age, once thought to require differences in tutorship to accommodate the elevation in capacity and potential, are now largely seen as threats to the self-esteem of those not so gifted, and therefore to be harnessed and stunted. The result is the elevation of harnessed and stunted pursuits like ‘computer engineering’ to the acme of the intellectual life.

And not by coincidence, those sorts of intellectuals are the most useful to the powers that be.

A similar oppression these days awaits those with native artistic ability. Instead of being channeled into disciplined instruction to allow that talent to climb eventually onto the shoulders of those who have labored similarly before, and then reach for new beauty in the yet higher realms, the nascent artists of our age are directed towards self-expression of selves that are still infantile in awareness and experience. The result is a ‘high’ art that speaks to nothing beyond subjectivity, sometimes coupled with puerile ‘philosophy’, or ‘democratic’ art by potentially serious artists absorbed into any of the ponderous and gluttonous entertainment combines, machines that inhale vast amounts of mediocre artistic abilities and spew out bulky products of shaped and bundled blandness, like hay tasty to cattle but to no one else. Thus Hollywood, Broadway, the Best Seller lists.

And not by coincidence, those sorts of artists are the most useful to the powers that be.

Of all the varieties of social arrangement, democracy offers the most opportunities for finding and encouraging exceptional individuals, and yet also the greatest danger of extinguishing them, sadly often under the banner of Christian egalitarianism.

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