“Pursing something for merely material benefits is idolatry, and you will surely be punished for it in this life.”
Readership: Christian Men;
Authorship: This interview was conducted by Stephen L. M. Heiner, and the transcript contained in this post originally appeared on his eponymous blog on 2021 February 25.
Reader’s Note: Key takeaways have been highlighted in blue.
Length: 4,400 words
Reading Time: 17 minutes
- Views and Expectations of Women – Before and After
- On Government
- Self-improvement, the internet, and technology.
- On Conspiracy Theories
- The Effects of the Sexual Revolution on Marriage
- On Nature and Traveling
- On City Living
- On Cultural Shifts
- Some Advice to Secular Men
- Bird Watching
- Overcoming Challenges by Trusting God
- Carrying the Cross
Foreword: I recently had the chance to review an advance copy of American Pilgrim by Roosh Valizideh. He was gracious enough to answer some questions I had after finishing his newest book.
Views and Expectations of Women – Before and After
Stephen: In your introduction, you write, “[Y]et it totally escaped me that I was receiving from women merely what I gave them.” Did you have an inkling of this earlier in the process? That “pickup” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, even as you were succeeding at it?
Roosh: No, I did not see the truth until after I stopped fornicating. While pursuing women for sex, I was deceived into believing I was a “high value” man because of superficial qualities centered around my appearance and personality (but only the traits I would selectively reveal to women), and that I was entitled to a woman who was both sexually appealing like a pornographic actress, since I regularly watched porn, but also traditional with qualities such as honor, loyalty, and dedication. When I did not receive the woman I thought I deserved, one who existed primarily in my mind, I interpreted that as not indicative of my true worth or sense of delusion, since I obviously had “value” from being able to bed so many women; but this was a fault of the women themselves, which is why I spent an inordinate amount of time publicly complaining about their collective flaws and weaknesses.
The reality of what was happening is that I was pursuing harlots and succeeding with them — and them alone — because I mirrored their moral character. We both had no faith and looked to the opposite sex to “save” our miserable lives (from not having God). In other words, I was the harlot I slept with and then publicly criticized. But these women did not save me, and I surely didn’t save any woman, so I would whine endlessly that the world is filled with “sluts” and “whores.” Without Christ, I simply couldn’t see the error of my behavior, and it wasn’t until after repentance that this was clear to me.
Stephen: You said, “If [John] Hancock had known that his signature would be used to promote sodomy, he would not have signed the Declaration of Independence.” But, joking aside, aren’t we looking just as much at the results of a revolutionary government? You say later in the book: “I couldn’t see the founders as supernatural men worthy of worship. They were ambitious, intelligent, conniving… but hadn’t they been seeking their own glory and power? They overthrew the godly authority of the king… to establish a secular nation.” Also: “Americans had no resistance to the evil that encroached on its shores, because from the very beginning, the intention might have been to dethrone God.” America thought it could do its own thing, as the first country in the history of the world without an established religion, and despite a few good decades here and there, John Hancock and others like him helped deliver us to the sodomites…
Roosh: Jesus Christ tells us that no good can be done without Him, so the key question to ask is how much of Him the founding fathers called upon in genuine faith when they established the United States. This is an important historical question because if the founders depended more on their Freemasonic relationships and need for power than even their sola scriptura doctrine, since many were Protestants, we cannot be surprised today that America has become the primary source of Satanic darkness in the world.
The founders did have a strong sense of natural morality that cannot be compared with the average American citizen of modern times, but it took just a couple of generations for that natural morality based on parchment and paper to be eroded into the godless state we have now where little children are being biologically altered into different sexes due to encouragement from the government and major institutions. This is due in part to the founders planting a bad seed with their flavor of democracy. When that seed matured, the United States went on to be de-Christianized without much fuss and effort.
Many Conservatives today proclaim that America is a “Christian nation,” but all we can say with certainty is that most Americans at its founding were Christian in identification. One would have to look to the Byzantine era or possibly Czarist Russia to see what a Christian nation really was like. In my view, to use “Christian nation” and “democracy” in the same sentence is a contradiction in terms. Without a Christian monarch, Satan can make swift work of the country through whipping up the passions of the unruly mob.
Self-improvement, the Internet, and Technology
Stephen: You responded to one of the people you met who was asking about self-improvement: “I think you should work hardest in your relationship with God. Everything else is seeking approval from other people.” Later, “Step by step, I’m addressing my lust, anger, and pride.” This is the wisdom of the Desert Fathers. Do you really think people can hear those words through all the deluge of social media’s likes, followers, and Tik-Tok videos?
Roosh: If their heart desires Christian wisdom, then yes they can be enlightened through Tik-Tok, but it’s surely easier to learn it through books or speaking face-to-face with holy men. I think it has become clear to most Christians that social networking is a tool that Satan uses to distract and corrupt souls, but God can certainly weaponize these platforms for good to exert His will.
After I repented, I harnessed all my online platforms — blog, YouTube, Twitter, email newsletter, forum — to share my faith. Immediately, 30–50% of men dropped out, many in anger. I’m in the process of building an explicitly Christian community from those who remained and the new audience I’m slowly gaining. There still remains a temptation for me in using an app like Twitter, where I can receive instant feedback to a low-effort tweet that spikes my dopamine and keeps me planted at the computer screen instead of performing spiritual labor or reading religious texts, so I must come to the conclusion that no matter how strong my faith gets, it will pale in comparison to those Christians of the past who didn’t have the internet and social networking. In the Book of the Apocalypse, we learn how faith will steadily decrease until the end, causing a great apostasy, and even our Lord Jesus Christ asks if He will find faith on the earth when He returns. Each of us has to make difficult decisions about how much technology to use to share our faith, and then “fast” from it as if it were food to not become overly dependent.
On Conspiracy Theories
Stephen: As I read your discussions with attendees of your talk who work in the military and intelligence services and ponder how much “conspiracy theory” is indeed, “conspiracy fact,” do you wonder if your short story, Jake Ultra, will end up being nonfiction instead?
Roosh: Jake Ultra is about a conservative young man who wants to improve his country by “fighting back.” His actions begin a cascade that drastically changes the country. I wrote this story in my secular days when I believed that might makes right and the only way to “win” is through force. From a spiritual perspective I was wrong — the best way to win is through saving your soul; nothing can spite Satan more than watching you ascend to serve the Father at His right hand upon your death, but how many men in America possess this level of worldly detachment where they can watch their country descend into absolute evil and not fight back with anger? And who would say that that anger is not righteous? Saint John Chrysostom said, “He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but the good to do wrong.” Is this not a good time to fight back when, recently, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, while in the U.S. Capitol, prayed not to God but to “Brahman,” even finishing his blasphemous prayer with “Awoman” instead of “Amen”? I wish I knew the answer.
Our elites believe they can gradually ease us into the prisons of isolation and technological destruction, but the Bible is full of stories, most notably the Tower of Babel, that describe how God makes a fool of the plans of men. A giant metal spring is being compressed through persecution and oppression by the elites and it will eventually be released to cause great turmoil, but how that will happen I do not know. We must also not forget that God can use natural disasters to bring men to repentance (who expected freezing Texas to descend into something resembling the third world this month?). No matter which way you look at our current situation, all empires fall, and the United States is long overdue for such a fall.
The Effects of the Sexual Revolution on Marriage
Stephen: Speaking about some relatives you got to meet for the first time, you noted, “The three of us had zero children, a typical outcome for first-generation Americans. Our parents did not understand that the new country they moved to for opportunity and comfort would render us sterile.” But I would say that’s only recently become a typical outcome. What changed?
Roosh: The sexual revolution went into overdrive after our parents’ time. They may have dated only a little before marriage, but they didn’t make their “sex life” an obsession like many Gen X’ers and Millennials have done. It didn’t help that our generation was able to experience nonstop pornography, cheap international travel, mobile lifestyles due to remote work, and the aggressive cultural propaganda against traditional marriage. I truly believed that marriage was “slavery” because it “shackled” me to a woman who would merely divorce me for no reason. That may very well be the case with secular marriages in which you choose a spouse based on emotional compatibility and how “happy” they make you feel, but that’s not what Christian marriages are built on. I don’t have the actual statistics on hand, but I once read that the divorce rate of a Catholic couple who goes to church every week is less than 5%. That looks like good odds to me.
To serve God through your spouse, however, not only takes faith but maturity, of which I can’t say I ever had before Christ. I was always focused on my own desires and needs, never wanting to make a sacrifice that impeded my pleasures. My narcissism, pride, and self-centeredness were such that I saw myself as a little god with which the world revolved around. Unfortunately, that’s the default outlook of a young person today.
On Nature and Traveling
Stephen: We both went to Yellowstone the same summer, and I was so keen to see the buffalo and wildlife. I only spent two days there but I did appreciate how you pointed out the commoditization of the beauty of nature. “When beauty is roadside, you will attract only the most basic, camera-toting tourists.” I felt that you had those glasses on from They Live and were able to see some of the underlying problems while I was just snapping pictures of elk.
Roosh: As a traveler, I’m jaded. I’ve spent so many years on the road that if I’m simply in proximity with another traveler, I will focus on the negative of the situation because he will remind me of all those years I wasted to seek novelty and women abroad.
I don’t wish to throw away travel completely, especially in a post-coronavirus age in which we spend so much time at home that a little trip may be beneficial for our mental health, but I will focus more on journeys to monasteries or parks that are not nearly as crowded as Yellowstone.
On City Living
Stephen: You also have some harsh critiques for city life, despite the fact that you have lived in cities for most of your life. What would you say to those who are saying that running off to the countryside is a false solution?
Roosh: The New Jerusalem that God has waiting for us is a city. If you strongly desire to only ever live in the countryside, you may be disappointed in Heaven!
The city itself isn’t inherently evil, but when it’s filled with people lacking faith, it becomes a vortex of sin that can make you wonder if hell has been realized on earth, especially in West Coast cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Today I can walk through a European city and genuinely feel God, because its old parks, statues, and architecture were created by God-fearing men centuries ago when faith was stronger, but in America we tend to tear down the old in order for money-hungry capitalists to build yet another sterile glass tower. It’s possible to walk several blocks in an American city and not for a brief moment feel God’s presence. Even urban American churches are covered with the propaganda of the times.
I do hope one day to live in the countryside, but doing so alone can be a recipe for disaster. As Dr. E. Michael Jones told me, I would need a lot of “spiritual firepower” to essentially live as a hermit. I think it would make more sense to live there with a family instead of as a single man. In the meanwhile, the suburbs seem like a reasonable compromise.
On Cultural Shifts
Stephen: I don’t think most people know that a lot of the public libraries are de facto daytime homeless shelters. Did you expect that going into the tour?
Roosh: I did not, since most of the American public libraries I had been to prior to the tour were located in family-oriented neighborhoods. The city libraries have become so bad that they no longer serve their original function to educate the community, and since children’s books are getting more “woke” with all manner of false egalitarian and homosexual messages, I don’t believe libraries are safe places for children anymore. Well, maybe they’re “safe” if you’re a leftist mom who wants her children to be groomed by transexuals during Drag Queen Story Hour. I wouldn’t be surprised if the private library makes a return in our lifetimes, perhaps in a weird mobile form (“Hey kids, here comes the library truck!”).
Stephen: You met up with some people and spent time with their families, people that you could not have met if not for the internet. Do you still think there’s a chance to connect with good people out there or are even those possibilities going to be ruled out by the version of the internet that is coming?
Roosh: The trend I notice is greater isolation and more distrust of your fellow neighbor. I meet families inside my church quite often but besides my priest, none have invited me to their home to break bread. It looks like the modern ideal of family will have to be observed from a distance, or maybe you can read about it in books before embarking on the task yourself and learning through trial and error.
That makes me wonder: what is Christian hospitality? It’s easy to invite your family or friends for a feast, but aren’t we called to invite everyone, including the destitute? Sadly, even inviting friends may be going by the wayside. People of weak faith are so scared of the coronavirus that they don’t want to step foot in other people’s homes. I regularly hold Italian-themed dinners in my home, and my invites have been refused by those who fear infection, and no one else I know is holding dinner parties. I have no doubt that Satan is pleased at our self-imposed isolation.
Some Advice to Secular Men
Stephen: Another key idea you put forward comes out in the quote: “If you marry a secular woman, you will have a secular outcome.” We are so drenched in secularity, particularly in America, that this message might not get through, especially if someone who hears that has no faith. What non-faith argument(s) would you put that quote in?
Roosh: I would tell secular men that you will attract the female version of yourself. Whatever spiritual state you are in, only a woman with a very similar state would embrace you, so if you have no faith, you will only attract a faithless woman. These men have to ask themselves what kind of marriage they will have with such a woman, and if that’s a risk they want to take. Since most men are justifiably not willing to take that risk, they fall back — since they have not God — onto pornography, video games, bodybuilding, casual dating, or other hobbies that feed their narcissism, lust, and pride.
I’m sure I could make convincing arguments to secular men that warn them of leading an excessively materialist lifestyle, but I would have to frame them around receiving benefits in this world, such as getting a “good” wife or being happy with your existing consumer products. Yet that will still fail them. Pursing something for merely material benefits is idolatry, and you will surely be punished for it in this life. I’m learning that it’s only faith-based arguments that are worth making. Otherwise, you are enabling the faithless to remain without faith, and that will cause severe damage to their souls.
Stephen: You’re very triggered by tattoos on women. Why do you think that is?
Roosh: So many women I’ve fornicated with have had tattoos, so I’ve come to associate it with harlotry. Of course I was no better than they at the time, and many tattooed women have repented, but as much as I mourn over my past sins, I don’t want to be reminded of them at every moment with a woman I one day marry, especially if she has a tattoo on her arms or face.
Stephen: You’ve really developed an interest in birds. My bird feeder faces the interior of a courtyard here in Paris, so I don’t get nearly the diversity that you did at your mountain hideout. I’ve got a group of four sparrows that visit the feeder religiously in the late afternoon. Have you always cared for birds? What do you find special about them?
Roosh: I believe God gave me the birds as a healthy hobby upon repentance. I didn’t mind birds in the past but didn’t go out of my way to observe them deeply, let alone learn about individual species. After returning to God, I suddenly began to notice them everywhere. I was utterly fascinated: enchanted by their movements, sounds, and even unique personalities. To observe God’s creatures flying about, singing their hearts out, taking care of their babies, and foraging for food touches me deeply, and I thank God every day for allowing me to see his birds in this way. Just the other day I saw a Northern cardinal singing his heart out, signaling the approach of Spring. My response two days later was to buy birdseed so I could see more of them.
Overcoming Challenges by Trusting God
Stephen: While a good part of the book is a travelogue of sorts, you were also waging battles: you had health challenges, all kinds of temptations, both mental and actual, and the occasional Ortho-on-Ortho argument. Were you worried at any point that you would have to cancel the remaining stops? That you couldn’t make it?
Roosh: Yes it was a constant worry. My mind imagined all ways that the tour would be thwarted, from having car problems to being canceled by hotel venues to being severely tempted or getting ill. There was also the threat of protesters, who came to my Denver talk holding signs but did not hurt the event.
The trip was a good way to start building my trust in God, because I logically knew that the plan for my trip and lectures was so hard that I would need His help to complete it successfully, which — spoiler alert — did happen. Funnily enough, when I had much simpler plans after the tour, I completely failed, so I am beginning to understand how God opens the doors for you to accomplish something if you’re serving His will.
Stephen: Your visit to a Joel Osteen service was interesting: most would never have bothered to venture into such a circus, so thanks for taking one for the team. What percentage of your readers are Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, of no faith, etc.?
Roosh: This is hard to quantify since I haven’t done an official survey, so here is my best estimate based on the interactions I’ve had with readers through social networking, email, and my forum:
Catholics have a strong representation in my readership; it’s possible they outnumber all other groups. If you focus on the differences between Catholics and Orthodox, you can write many volumes, but the similarities are enough to allow both to engage in meaningful Christian fellowship, at least when it comes to describing the evil of this world and then countering it with faith, communal worship, and receiving the sacraments. Once we get into the world of Protestantism, however, which doesn’t have sacraments (outside of a form of baptism) or saints, the differences become more apparent so any fellowship there must be carefully done to not provoke a theological debate which invariably turns ugly.
Since I’m still a spiritual baby (am I a spiritual “toddler” yet?), most of my articles or observations about faith are broad enough that it doesn’t chafe Catholics, but if God wants me to take on the road of theology, like Jay Dyer, then I think that fellowship may be broken. I’ve always been a practical man, whether teaching pickup or sharing faith, so I expect my work to always be helpful to Christians who are not necessarily in my Church.
Carrying the Cross
Stephen: Over the years you’ve picked up an interesting group of readers (and trolls). Has the blowback from the repudiation of PUA died down or do you still deal with it?
Roosh: I still deal with it. Up until the day I die I will be labeled a “pro rape guru”, “pickup artist”, and the like. Google and Wikipedia ensure my past is at the forefront of my being, and I still see comments of men complaining that they miss the “old Roosh”, the one who was spiritually dead and on his way to hell. Just the other week, the CEO of Parler was attacked in the Daily Mail because he once shared with a friend that he liked my pickup work. Of course the article forgot to mention the whole bit about me converting to Christianity, but I suppose that would hurt their narrative of painting me as irredeemable and not deserving of forgiveness for my past misdeeds.
In the end, I deserve all the false allegations and hatred because of how I lived in the past. I’ve hurt a lot of people, both online and off. Those who malign me today remind me of the man I was and must never go back to. They also keep my pride in check, that I’m not perfect or holy just because I’ve had a relatively easy two years as a Christian.
Stephen: Everyone came to you in the book with their own particular situations and I laughed when you said your next book would be entitled Ask God and would have one page with one question: “Have you asked God?” What would you say to those who say, “I’ve asked, and nothing came back” or “I don’t believe in God”?
Roosh: If you don’t believe in God then you will have to use the secular tactic of listing the pros and cons of a particular decision and then choosing a course of action that minimizes your downside while maximizing your upside, without heavy consideration of moral implications. This tactic may work for a time but will fail in the end, because while you’re obsessed with material gain, more of your soul is being controlled by the demons. You will die before you die.
If you asked God for help on the matter, and nothing came back, then you have your answer! I doubt that God created us so that we can pull our hair about deciding which house to live in, whether to sign a loan at so-and-so interest rate, which job to take, or in my case, whether to wear a face mask in Walmart. He is most concerned about our salvation, so I imagine He will not intervene if you’re focusing on inconsequential matters. I’ve asked God for a lot of things, and the feeling I get back from Him is the following: “Make the decision that you believe will best serve Me. If your decision is wrong, I will correct you and teach you why, because when you learn through your mistakes, your faith will become stronger and be able to better endure what is to come.”
The real difficulty is finding a way to be in such strong communion with God that your instinct often becomes the correct one, so instead of praying on specific items, I would argue it’s more important simply to maintain a daily prayer rule, attend church, and read the Bible. The stronger your faith, the less you will have to reach out to God for individual matters.
Stephen: So, what is your next book?
Roosh: I think I’m ready to write a novel, which perhaps is foolhardy in an age where few people read novels, but I believe that is at least partially due to publishing houses putting out woke rubbish. I’m a big fan of Russian literature. If I can write a book with a spiritual theme that is only 10% as good as a Dostoevsky novel, it may have a great impact on people’s faith. I consider American Pilgrim my first true book, so we’ll see what God guides me to create in the future.
Stephen: Thanks for taking the time to answer these, Roosh. Keep on the path.