23 February 2011

It's All Coming Together

From Paul Zweig's The Heresy of Self-Love:
The Pax Romana had made the Empire into what Gibbon described as a vast prison, with no escape for those who resisted its authority. It was a prison as vast as the world; and this is recognized in the religious terminology of the Neoplatonists, the Christians, and especially the Gnostics, for whom "this world" was literally a prison, enclosing each citizen in his own isolated predicament. But if the world was a prison, then the only appeal could be "out of this world," away from its authority and toward some new authority whose main evidence lay not in laws, no matter how brilliantly codified, but in a certain quality of experience. Such was the atmosphere in which Christianity first gained its strength, rejecting the legalistic aspect of Judaism, along with the authority of the Empire, while it appealed, in the writings of St. Paul, to spiritual conviction as individual as that of "grace."

Yet from the very first the Christians moderated this Pauline "individualism," limiting its mystical bias with a shrewd sense of organization and earthly responsibility. Already during the first and second centuries the new Church showed signs of an absolutist tendency. In each city of the Empire, the Christians assembled under the authority of a bishop, whose word was spiritual law. Their religion made them citizens in the City of God, but it also made them members of a strict, increasingly organized community. The Christians owed their success as much to this organizational shrewdness as to the richness of their doctrine. [bold text mine]

Here we have the basis of our current politics of religion and our current conservative ideology, but more importantly we have an explanation for the strength of the combination.

Kochs, Religion, Institutional Corruption--an inverted trinity of material greed.

[As an aside, take a gander at preponderance of programs in HR and Organizational Behavior at those institutions proclaiming an adherence to and promulgation of Christian principles as part of their educational mission.]

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