Is it Time for Intellectuals to Talk about God?
Is a postmodern embarrassment about discussing spiritual matters keeping us stupid and putting us in danger?
Dr. Naomi Wolf is a bestselling author, columnist, and professor; she is a graduate of Yale University and received a doctorate from Oxford. She is cofounder and CEO of DailyClout.io, a successful civic tech company.
Reprinted with permission from NaomiWolf.substack.com.
This is Part I of a 3-Part-Series. Stay tuned for Part 2 in our pages.
I recently spoke at a gathering for medical freedom advocates in a little community center in the Hudson River Valley. I cherish this group of activists: they had steadfastly continued to gather throughout the depths of the “lockdown,” that evil time in history — an evil time not yet behind us — and they kept on gathering in human spaces, undaunted. And by joining their relaxed pot-luck dinners around unidentifiable but delicious salads and chewy homemade breads, I was able to continue to remember what it meant to be part of a sane human community.
Children played — as normal — frolicking around, and speaking and laughing and breathing freely; not suffocating in masks like little zombies, or warned by terrified adults to keep from touching other human children. Dogs were petted. Neighbors spoke to one another at normal ranges, without fear or phobias. Bands played much-loved folk songs or cool little indie rock numbers they had written themselves, and no one, graceful or awkward, feared dancing. People sat on the house’s steps shoulder to shoulder, in human warmth, and chatted over glasses of wine or homemade cider. No one asked anyone personal medical questions.
(While I believe that all decisions about how you live your life vis-a-vis an infectious disease are intensely personal, and I would never recommend to others to assume any specific level of risk or to pursue any specific strategy of risk reduction; I think it’s worth noting, by the way, that to my knowledge, they had gone through the last two years without having lost a soul to COVID.)
Meanwhile, what had been human community outside of that little group, and outside other isolated normal communities — and outside of a handful of normal states in America — became more and more surreal, terrifying and unrecognizable.
The rest of the world, at least on the progressive side in the United States, became increasingly cult-like and insular in its thinking, since March of 2020. As the months passed, friends and colleagues of mine who were highly educated, and who had been lifelong critical thinkers, journalists, editors, researchers, doctors, philanthropists, teachers, psychologists — all began to repeat only talking points from MSNBC and CNN, and soon overtly refused to look at any sources - even peer-reviewed sources in medical journals — even CDC data — that contradicted those talking points. These people literally said to me, “I don’t want to see that; don’t show it to me.” It became clear soon enough that if they absorbed information contradictory to “the narrative” that was consolidating, they risked losing social status, maybe even jobs; doors would close, opportunities would be lost. One well-educated woman told me she did not want to see any unsanctioned information because she was afraid of being disinvited from her bridge group. Hence the refrain: “I don’t want to see that; don’t show it to me.”
Friends and colleagues of mine who had been skeptical their whole adult lives of Big Agriculture — who only shopped at Whole Foods, who would never let their kids eat sugar or processed meat, or ingest a hint of Red Dye No 2 in candy, or eat candy itself for that matter in some cases — these same people lined up to inject into their bodies, and then offered up the bodies of their dependent minor children for the same purpose, an MRNA gene-therapy injection whose trials would not end for two more years. These parents announced on social media proudly that they had done this with their children. When I pointed out gently that the trials would not end til 2023, they yelled at me.
The progressive, right-on part of the ideological world — my people, my tribe, my whole life — became more and more uncritical, less and less able to reason. Friends and colleagues who were wellness-oriented, and who their whole adult lives had known the dangers of Big Pharma — and who would only use Burt’s Bees on their babies’ bottoms and sunscreen with no PABAs on themselves— lined up to take an experimental gene therapy; why not? And worse, it seemed, they crowded around, like the stone throwers in Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery,” to lash out at and to shun anyone who raised the most basic questions about Big Pharma and its highly compensated spokesmodels. Their critical thinking, but worse, their entire knowledge base about that industry, seemed to have evaporated magically into the ether.
Whole belief systems were abandoned painlessly and overnight as if it these communities were in the grip of a collective hallucination, like the witch craze of the 15th to 17th centuries in Northern Europe. Intelligent, informed people suddenly saw things that were not there and were unable to see things that were incontrovertibly before their faces.
Feminist health activists, who surely knew perfectly well the histories of how the pharmaceutical and medical industries had experimented ad nauseam on the bodies of women with disastrous results, lined up to take an injection that by March of 2021 women were reporting was wreaking painful havoc on their menstrual cycles. These same feminist health activists had spoken out earlier, as they should have, about Big Pharma’s and Big Medicine’s colonization of women’s reproductive health processes, and had spoken out about issues ranging from women’s access to safe contraception to abortion rights, to the rights of mothers to a midwifery delivery or to a birthing room, or to the right to labour or the right to store milk at work or the right to breastfeed in public.
But these formerly reliable custodians of well-informed medical skepticism and of women’s health rights, were silent, silent, as such voices as former HHS official Dr Paul Alexander warned that spike protein from MRNA vaccines may accumulate in the ovaries (and testes), and as vaccinated women reported hemorrhagic menses — double digit percentages in a Norwegian study reported heavier bleeding.
Many women also reported blood clotting, and women even reported post-menopausal bleeding — and mothers reported their vaccinated twelve year olds suddenly getting their periods; but it was two periods a month some girls endured.
Almost no one out of the luminaries of feminist health activism who had spent decades speaking out on behalf of women’s health and women’s bodies, raised a peep above the parapet. Those two or three of us who did were very visibly smeared, in some cases threatened, and in many ways silenced.
When I broke this story of menstrual dysregulation post-vaccination on Twitter in Spring of 2021, I was suspended. Matt Gertz works at CNN and Media Matters. The former is a channel on which I had appeared for decades; the latter, a group whose leadership members I’ve known for years, and in one instance, with whom I’ve worked.
In spite of both of his employers having sought out professional association with me, Matt Gertz publicly and repeatedly called me a “pandemic conspiracy theorist” upon my first having reported on menstrual dysregulation, and elsewhere accused me of “crack-pottery”.
Shame on me for doing journalism. I broke the post-vaccination menstrual dysregulation story by doing what I always do: by using the same methodology that I used in writing The Beauty Myth (about eating disorders) and Misconceptions (about obstetrics), and Vagina (about female sexual health): I listened to women, that radical act.
The New York Times just re-broke my story of menstrual dysregulation, ten months later, January 2022, in a different year, after perhaps millions of women readers may have been physically harmed by their lack of decent reporting and their uncritical acceptance of soundbites from captured regulatory authorities. There has been no retraction or apology from Mr Gertz, from The New York Times, or from other news outlets such as DailyMail.co.uk, who all then called me crazy but are now reporting my story as if it is their own — now that it’s clear that, once again, sadly, I was right.
Feminist health advocates who know about routine hysterectomies at menopause, about vaginal mesh that has to be removed, about silicone breasts implants that leaked or burst and had to be recalled or replaced, about Mirena that had to be removed, about Thalidomide that deformed babies’ limbs in utero, about birth control pills at hormonal doses that heightened heart attack risks and stroke risks and that lowered the female libido; about routine c-sections to speed up turnover at hospitals, about the sterilization of low income women and girls and women and girls of color without informed consent — were silent about the unproven nature of MRNA vaccines, and about coercive policies that violated the Nuremberg code and other laws, as a whole generation of young women who have not yet had their babies, was forced to take an MRNA vaccine (and sometimes second vaccine, and booster) with unproven effects on reproductive health, in order simply to return to campus or to get or to keep a job. The Our Bodies Ourselves collective? Nothing on vaccine risks and women’s health as a subject category: NARAL? Where were they? Crickets. Where were all the responsible feminist health activists, in the face of this global, unconsenting, uninforming, illegal experimentation on women’s bodies, and now on children, and soon, on babies?
People who had been up in arms for decades about eating disorders or about the coercive social standards that led to — horrors — leg shaving, were silent about an untested injection that was minting billions for Big Pharma; an injection that entered, according to Moderna’s own press material, every cell in the body, which would thus include involving uterus, ovaries, endometrium.
The sudden amnesia extended to feminist legal theory. Feminist jurists such as Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan debated President Biden’s vaccine mandates on January 7 — as if they had never heard of the legal claims for Roe v Wade: privacy law. As Politico reported of Justice Kagan, “The Supreme Court’s ruling on privacy rights served as a basis for its later decision, Roe v Wade” and as former Sen. Barbara Boxer had stated, “I have no reason to think anything else except that [Kagan] would be a very strong supporter of privacy rights because everyone she worked for held that view.”
Except…now they seemingly don’t, and now Justice Kagan magically doesn’t. With medical mandates, there are no privacy rights for anyone ever.
But Justice Kagan seemed suddenly, after decades of this view, not to see a contradiction. Her career-long philosophical foundation that resulted in a consistent view, when it came to abortion rights, that citizens had a right to physical privacy in medical decision-making — “My body, my choice” — “It is between a woman and her doctor” — vanished, along with her expensive education and all of her knowledge of the Constitution.
Justice Sotomayor, for her part, said, in an article reported on Dec 10 2021, that it was “madness” that the state of Texas wanted to “substantially suspend[ed] a constitutional guarantee: a pregnant woman’s right to control her own body.” Her tone was, rightly, one of high dudgeon at the thought that anyone might override this right. But when it came to Justice Sotomayor’s discussion on Jan 7 2022, less than four weeks later, of President Biden’s vaccine mandates, that clear Constitutional right was now nowhere to be seen; it too had vanished into the ether. A part of Justice Sotomayor’s brain seems to have simply shut down at the word “vaccines” — though it was the same woman in the same Court, with the same Constitution before her, the Justice could no longer manage the Kantian imperative of consistent reasoning.
Lifelong activists for justice and inclusion, for the Constitution and human rights and the rule of law — friends and colleagues of mine who are LGBTQ rights activists; the ACLU itself; activists for racial inclusion and equality; Constitutional lawyers who teach at all the major universities and run the law reviews; activists who argue against excluding anyone from any profession or access based on gender; almost all of them, at least on the progressive side of the spectrum (almost all: hello, Glenn Greenwald) — were silent; as a comprehensive, systematic, cruel, Titanic discrimination society was erected in a matter of months in such cities as New York City, formerly the great melting pot, the great equalizer; and as whole states such as California adopted a system pretty much like the apartheid systems based on other physical characteristics, in regimes that these same proud advocates for equality and inclusion had boycotted in college.
And yet now these former heroes for human rights and for equal justice under law, stood by calmly or even enthusiastically as the massive edifice of discrimination was constructed. And then they colluded. Without even a fight or a murmur.
And they had their “vaccinated-only” parties, and their segregated fashion galas, and their nonprofit-hosted discussions in nice medically-segregated New York City midtown hotels over expensive lunches served by staffers in masks — lunches celebrating luminaries of the civil rights movement or of the LGBTQ rights movement or the immigrants’ rights movement, or the movement to help girls in Afghanistan get access to schools which they had been prevented from attending— invitations which I received, but of which I could not make use, because — because I was prevented from attending.
And these elite justice advocates enjoyed the celebrations of their virtues and of their values, and did not seem to notice that they had become — in less than a year — exactly what they had spent their adult lives professing most to hate.
I could go on and on.
The bottom line, though, is that this infection of the soul, this abandonment of classical Liberalism’s — really, it’s not even partisan; modern civilization’s — most cherished postwar ideals, this sudden dropping of post-Enlightenment norms of critical thinking, this dilution even of parents’ sense of protectiveness over the bodies and futures of their helpless minor children, this acceptance of a world in which people can’t gather to worship, these suddenly-manifested structures themselves that erected this demonic world in less than two years and imposed it on everyone else, these heads of state and heads of the AMA and heads of school boards and these teachers; these heads of unions and these national leaders and the state level leaders and the town hall level functionaries all the way down to the men or woman who disinvite a relative from Thanksgiving due to social pressure, because of a medical status which is no one’s business and which affects no one — this edifice of evil is too massive, too quickly erected, too complex and really, too elegant, to assign to just human awfulness and human inventiveness.
Months before, I had asked a renowned medical freedom activist how he stayed strong in his mission as his name was besmirched and he faced career attacks and social ostracism. He replied with Ephesians 6:12:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
I had thought of that a lot in the intervening time. It made more and more sense to me as the days passed.
I confessed at that gathering in the woods with the health freedom community, that I had started to pray again. This was after many years of thinking that my spiritual life was not that important, and certainly very personal, almost embarrassingly so, and thus it was not something I should mention in public.
I told the group that I was now willing to speak about God publicly, because I had looked at what had descended on us from every angle, using my normal critical training and faculties; and that it was so elaborate in its construction, so comprehensive, and so cruel, with an almost superhuman, flamboyant, baroque imagination made out of the essence of cruelty itself — that I could not see that it had been accomplished by mere humans working on the bumbling human level in the dumb political space.
I felt around us, in the majestic nature of the awfulness of the evil around us, the presence of “principalities and powers” — almost awe-inspiring levels of darkness and of inhuman, anti-human forces. In the policies unfolding around us I saw again and again anti-human outcomes being generated: policies aimed at killing children’s joy; at literally suffocating children, restricting their breath, speech and laughter; at killing school; at killing ties between families and extended families; at killing churches and synagogues and mosques; and, from the highest levels, from the President’s own bully pulpit, demands for people to collude in excluding, rejecting, dismissing, shunning, hating their neighbors and loved ones and friends.
I have seen bad politics all of my life and this drama unfolding around us goes beyond bad politics, which is silly and manageable and not that scary. This — this is scary, metaphysically scary. In contrast to hapless human mismanagement, this darkness has the tinge of the pure, elemental evil that underlay and gave such hideous beauty to the theatrics of Nazism; it is the same nasty glamour that surrounds Leni Riefenstahl films.
In short, I don’t think humans are smart or powerful enough to have come up with this horror all alone.
So I told the group in the woods, that the very impressiveness of evil all around us in all of its new majesty, was leading me to believe in a newly literal and immediate way in the presence, the possibility, the necessity of a countervailing force — that of a God. It was almost a negative proof: an evil this large must mean that there is a God at which it is aiming its malevolence.
And that is a huge leap for me to take, as a classical Liberal writer in a postwar world, — to say these things out loud.
Grounded postmodern intellectuals are not supposed to talk about or believe in spiritual matters — at least not in public. We are supposed to be shy about referencing God Himself, and are certainly are not supposed to talk about evil or the forces of darkness.
As a Jew I come from a tradition in which Hell (or “Gehenom”) is not the Miltonic Hell of the later Western imagination, but rather a quieter interim spiritual place. “The Satan” exists in our literature (in Job for example) but neither is this the Miltonic Satan, that rock star, but a figure more modestly known as “the accuser.”
We who are Jews, though, do have a history and literature that lets us talk about spiritual battle between the forces of God and negative forces that debase, that profane, that seek to ensnare our souls. We have seen this drama before, and not that long ago; about eighty years ago.
Other faith traditions of course also have ways to discuss and understand spiritual battle taking place through humans, and through human leaders, and here on earth.
It was not always the case that Western intellectuals were supposed to keep quiet in public about spiritual wrestling, fears and questions. Indeed in the West, poets and musicians, dramatists and essayists and philosophers, talked about God, and even about evil, for millennia, as being at the core of their understanding of the world and as forming the basis of their art forms and of their intellectual missions. This was the case right through the nineteenth century and into the first quarter of the 20th, a period when some of our greatest intellectuals — from Darwin to Freud to Jung — wrestled often and in public with questions of how the Divine, or its counterpart, manifested in the subjects they examined.
It was not until after World War Two and then the rise of Existentialism — the glorification of a world view in which the true intellectual showed his or her mettle by facing the absence of God and our essential aloneness — that smart people were expected to shut up in public about God.
So - it’s not wacky or eccentric, if you know intellectual history, for intellectuals to talk in public about God, and even about God’s adversary, and to worry about the fate of human souls. Mind and soul are not in fact at odds; and the body is not in fact at odds with either of these. And this acceptance of our three-part, integrated nature is part of our Western heritage. This is a truth only recently obscured or forgotten; a memory of our integrity as human beings that had been, only for the last seventy years or so, under attack.
So — I am going to start talking about God, when I need to do so, and about my spiritual questions in this dark time, along with continuing all of the other reporting and nonfiction analysis I always do. Because I have always told my readers the truth of what I felt and saw. This may be why they have come with me on a journey now of almost forty-three years, and why they keep seeking me out — though I have in the last couple of years — after I wrote a book that described how 19th century pandemics were exploited by the British State to take away everyone’s liberty, hm — been pulped, deplatformed, canceled, re-canceled, deplatformed again, and called insane by dozens of the same news outlets that had commissioned me religiously for decades.
It is time to start talking about spiritual combat again, I personally believe. Because I think that that is what we are in, and the forces of darkness are so big that we need help. Our goal? Perhaps just to keep the light somehow alive - a light of true classical humane values, of reason, of democracy, inclusion, kindness - in this dark time.
What is the object of this spiritual battle?
It seems to be for nothing short of the human soul.
One side seems to be wrestling for the human soul by targeting the human body that houses it; a body made in God’s likeness, so they say; the temple of God.
I am not confident. I don’t have enough faith. Truth is, I am scared to death. I just don’t think just humans alone can solve this one, or can win this one on their own.
I do think we need to call, as Milton did, as Shakespeare did, as Emily Dickinson did, on help from elsewhere; on what could be called angels and archangels, if you will; on higher powers, whatever they may be; on better principalities, on whatever intercessors may hear us, on Divine Providence — whatever you want to call whomever it is you can hope for and imagine. As I often say, I’ll take any faith tradition. I’ll talk to God in any language — I don’t think forms really matter. I think intention is everything.
I can’t say for sure that God and God’s helpers exist; I can’t. Who can?
But I do think we are at an unheard-of moment in human history — globally — in which I personally believe we have no other choice but to ask for assistance from beings — or a Being — better armed to fight true darkness, than ourselves alone. We’ll find out if they exist, if He or She exists, perhaps, if we ask for God’s help.
At least that’s my hope.
Which I guess is a kind of a prayer.