Jul 152013
 
 July 15, 2013  Posted by at 1:28 pm Finance
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Detroit Publishing Co. Trinity Church and office buildings, New York 1915

French President Hollande declared on TV on his nation's national holiday that the recession in France is over. You can just see the discussions in the Elysee Palace: we can't say that!, well, we have some graphs that show a little recovery, we just need to hide the ones that don't, and the president desperately needs a positive message to look presidential on Quatorze Juillet, so why don't we just go for it, instruct the interviewers not to push too hard; what's important is not whether it's true or not, but whether or not we can make people believe what he says, if only for the day. And so it was decided: the emperor would have clothes for a few hours.

In that vein, why don't I try and tackle a subject so grand in a few hundred words that if you were to write a book about it would still be unsatisfactory in every imaginable regard, and risk coming out looking like a fool? I guess because some subjects can't be ignored, and you might as well start somewhere. The intersection of money (or economics) and religion (faith) so obvious in Hollande's claim is a topic I've touched upon numerous times in the past from several different angles, and I'd like to see if I can bring some of them together in a more or less coherent way; either that or fail horribly, and state beforehand I have no illusion of being comprehensive, just posing questions and don't shoot the piano player.

My renewed interest in addressing the topic was triggered by Joris Luyendijk, the Dutch anthropologist turned journalist slash banking blogger for the Guardian, whom I talked about recently, and who also writes a column in Dutch newspaper NRC, in which he discussed religion and banking last week.

Joris describes that a finance veteran he knows talks over tea, prior to a seminar in the City on "standards" (which play a prominent role in aviation but not finance), about how Thatcher's 1986 "Big Bang" deregulation changed 'everything'; before, most people worked at a bank for decades, but after, they change employer much more often. The "American thinking" – mindset – took over, and on the side of both employers and employees, "loyalty has been traded in for liquidity". Add giga-profits, opaque financial instruments and too big to fail banks, and you got your recipe for the next crisis.

Once the actual seminar, which turns out to be very boring as usual, gets under way, Joris starts looking out the window, sees a church spire, and ponders how churches, once the tallest buildings in a city, are now dwarfed by the glistening high-rises of investment banks' headquarters.

On his phone he looks up the seven christian virtues: Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Fortitude, Faith, Hope, and Charity. He wonders what a medieval monk would have thought of today's world of high finance with its monster bonuses, hyper risks, after-me-the-deluge attitude, £1000 champagne bottles and stripclubs. The monk would think this is the work of the devil. Of the seven deadly sins, Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, the only one bankers cannot be accused of is Sloth.

Joris concludes the problem in the banking sector is "passive compliance": people obey the letter of the law without having any affinity with the spirit in which the letter was written. More rules won't solve this, but what will? He doesn't want to return to a time where religious figures dictate what he can and cannot do, but he wouldn't be surprised if the next, even bigger and "economically fatal" crisis were followed by a religious revival.

Interesting thoughts, and in my book Joris Luyendijk is a very good writer. Plus I mostly agree with his conclusions. Both Nicole Foss and I have repeatedly mentioned at The Automatic Earth that the next crisis, or rather the next step in the present crisis, will risk a resurgence of political extremes and religions old and new. When confronted with sudden and life-altering change, people habitually flee into whatever makes them feel safer, and this time will be no different.

But I still would go a step or two further than Luyendijk does. I think what we might be looking at when the real depth of the crisis hits will be a change of religion, rather than a revival of religion. Religion never went away or diminished, it just – temporarily – put on a different hat. Even in times of plenty, people never lose their need for religion; they just switch to different beliefs, namely the ones they think provided the plenty.

Those church spires haven't just been dwarfed by the banks' high-rises, they have been outright replaced by them as both religious symbols and as symbols of power. Which are more or less the same to begin with. The tallest, strongest, most expensive, most enduring structures of any culture that has built them, have always been symbols of both. Even a king's castle would reflect the notion that the inhabitant had been elected to his position through divine intervention.

If you want to talk religion in the western world, in the face of a financial crisis like the one we're presently living through, you can't really ignore the biblical stories of Mammon, one of the seven princes of hell (he represents Greed). Christianity overflows with warnings about adulation of this "false god", but apparently that doesn't sufficiently warn us away. Given the historic display of greed and wealth and lust for power by the Catholic church, perhaps that shouldn't be too surprising; how can you be expected to follow rules that your leaders do not?

The “American mindset" that the trader in Joris's story mentions, seems to make it possible for people to chase Mammon, and still label themselves Christians. It takes a bit of interpretative rule bending, but if and when what you do is accepted as normal by a majority of those around you, who are you to question it, and why would you? A prime example: there is no doubt about what is meant in the US by looking out for no. 1; it's not Jesus, and once he is seen as no. 2 by a nation's entire population, that's it, no matter how differently this was and is viewed in different times and different places. In the end all is relative.

The Christian warnings about the worship of Mammon have of course had one major effect: nobody sees themselves as money worshipers. "Greed is good" has taken a firm hold on western societies, but no-one will admit to believing in it, in money, in the religious sense of the word. For one thing, you don't go to a bank, or to your corporate job, to do penance (if there is such a place in greed-is-good, it's probably the IRS, or a favorite charity). As an aside, one might be forgiven for wondering why the Catholic church has never resorted to building worship skyscrapers in the City, or lower Manhattan, or Hong Kong. Intriguing question?!

In the religion of greed a.k.a. Mammon, the priests work in banks, governments, economics faculties and media, preaching eternal growth like their Christian peers preach eternal life. There are various kinds of high priests (the distinctions can be blurry) : those who make billions of dollars a year (which must be because they are superior people), those who spend trillions of dollars of their inferiors' wealth creating those conditions that should without a shadow of a doubt facilitate and accelerate eternal growth (also requires superior intelligence), and those who develop and teach theories designed to prove the logic, inevitability, infallibility and overall blessings of eternal growth.

All make sure they both work and reside in structures fit for their status, lest the people can see on a daily basis who are the most important members of their societies. A status confirmed, on an increasingly frequent basis, by the media, playing the role once, in the times of Luyendijk's medieval monk, reserved for church bells and town criers. Now, as then, a monotonous drone of identical messages intended to subdue the populace into submission and unquestioning faith.

There are different factions, for sure, but they concern differences in opinion on how best to reach the stated goal, not whether the goal is attainable – or even desirable – in the first place. You got your Keynesians, monetarists, neo-monetarists and so on, all claiming that their ideas for achieving more growth, faster, are superior and the others' are a sure path to damnation. Their debate, however, leaves no space for questioning the validity of the ultimate goal.

Now, obviously, we need to be careful with the term "American mindset": it may describe an origin, but it has evolved into what can better be described as an Anglo-Saxon mindset, and even that may fall short, since the whole of western Europe, plus many Asian countries, if not most of the rest of the world, have adopted it and made it their own, each of them perhaps in their slightly different versions, but still.

And that makes me think about another apparent paradox. Not only have we created a way of thinking – a western mindset – that has us convinced we can chase maximum profit and still serve our deity of choice (in the west, principally the "Lord"), even if the chase causes us to do great harm to the planet he is claimed to have created (for one thing, we can simply state that this, too, is his will). We also, and the US is once again in the vanguard of this, have built highly militarized societies that invest huge amounts of the fruits of our daily labor in armies and weaponry.

Which seems hard to blend in with the very clear message of peace that the man who gave his name to Christianity has so -seemingly – successfully spread around the world. It fits quite well, however, with money as a religion, and with the accumulation and defense of accumulated wealth. Of course you can say that Jesus didn't want you to be overrun by your enemies, but then again, Martin Luther King was very much a Christian.

In the American mindset, being successful means making lots of money, accumulating substantial wealth. Without money, you will not be considered successful. You can do things that will tempt the media in particular to – all too eagerly, albeit just for a day – label you a hero, you can save countless lives, you can alleviate an ocean of pain or facilitate millions of people to blossom who otherwise couldn't have, but unless you're rich to begin with or make a lot of money in the process, you will not be considered successful in the eyes of society at large.

In a society where success is directly linked to the amount of money one makes or possesses, it's not surprising that many who strive for immortality, which in other places and times might be sought through good deeds, seek to do so through the accumulation of wealth. Even though it is written in their very own holy book that wealth makes it much harder for them to pass through the eye of a needle.

There are of course many people who simply call themselves non-religious, though that's not a very common notion stateside, you see that much more in western Europe. And perhaps, though I'd have to think about it, that's somehow linked to the fact that Europeans tend to put less emphasis on money as a deciding factor for success as a label. In large parts of Europe, you can still be considered a successful writer or doctor or nurse or philosopher without any direct connection to your bank account.

I could write a lot more about this, and you could find a lot more faults with it, but I wasn't going to write a book. The underlying idea is already clear. In my view, we haven't so much lost religion, we've exchanged one for the other even as we try to incorporate both into our life philosophies.

And however you see all this, there is no denying that we have given money and wealth increasingly prominent positions in our lives and our societies. So much so that we see it as an almost divine right to have our houses and cars and gadgets and far-away holidays and pension plans, and we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves if all that fell away one day. Indeed, our societies would collapse without all of the (ever increasing) accumulated wealth. Even if we as individuals would say we have enough, our societies would still demand growth, or else; it's how we built them. There is no denying, either, that this comes painfully close to the biblical story of Mammon (I've left out the Golden Calf), and even if you don't call yourself a Christian, you can still understand what the intrinsic meaning is of that story.

As a result of his two-year+ intensive contacts with the inner workings of the banking world in London, Joris Luyendijk concludes that a next big financial crisis – or the next step in the present one – is all but inevitable, simply because that world operates the way it does. But we won't just have a financial crisis, we'll have a crisis of faith as well. Which will lead to many people turning their backs on the Mammon religion they will continue to claim they were never card carrying members of, simply because it failed to deliver on its promises. These people will seek another belief, another faith, certainly when times get much harder then they've ever seen. That's human nature. Whether they choose one of the many Christian factions, or perhaps an eastern religion, is hard to predict. And I think it's perhaps not the most relevant issue either.

What is, is that we begin to recognize how close to a religion our pursuit of material wealth has become, replete with its own versions of temples and high priests and holy books and all the other symbols and symbolism. That to an extent, we can all be said to have traded in loyalty for liquidity.

 


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July 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm #8370

Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Detroit Publishing Co. Trinity Church and office buildings, New York 1915 French President Hollande declared on TV on his nation's national holida
[See the full post at: Money. Religion. Power.]

July 15, 2013 at 9:09 pm #7963

gurusid

Hi Folks,

A last shout for those interested in giving feedback on how the site ‘looks and feels’ please go to this thread:

TAE 3.0: What do you want to see?

Thanks,

L,
Sid.

July 15, 2013 at 9:18 pm #7964

ashvin

Very true. ALL worldviews involve philosophical presupposition, established dogma and faith, whether they are “religious” or “non-religious”, which are terms representing a dualistic mindset that has only recently (relative to human history) started to make any “sense” to even think and talk about.

The Judeo-Christian tradition is rather unique in that it does not attempt to make any artificial distinction between money, politics, etc. and faith, but rather explain how the former is inextricably linked to the latter. Where we put our faith is a question of vital importance in all spheres of human society.

Personally, I think it neither fair nor logically coherent to talk about Christianity in terms of anything other than the teachings of Christ. But that’s what a large segment of Western society does, such as the politicians, bankers, etc. who call themselves Christian and simultaneously promote the Church and grandiose symbols of wealth. In the end analysis, they are simply using the former as a means to embrace the latter, and that is decidedly UN-biblical and ANTI-Christian.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

July 15, 2013 at 9:39 pm #7965

p01

gurusid post=7693 wrote: TAE 3.0: What do you want to see?

A “delete profile” function.

Thanks.

July 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm #7967

Basseterre Kitona

It’s just my opinion, of course, but I don’t think religion will make a full comeback anytime soon because there are just too many people who have specifically rejected it at present. Given a few generations for struggle, however, and we might start to see people creating religions for fragments of whatever is left, what they can find from the past, and whatever their imaginations might simply make up.

Should the Dark Ages 2.0 hit, I suspect that the most celebrated value will be resourcefulness but who knows if that can be the basis for any type of cohesive religion amongst disparate and fragmented peoples.

July 16, 2013 at 4:45 am #7970

Viscount St. Albans

Ballpark love.

Two outs, bottom of the ninth, bases are loaded and the home team is down by 3. Three balls and Two strikes. The tubby, aging slugger, fast-on-the-fade digs into the batter’s box. Here’s the pitch: Crack! It’s a sharp line drive to center field; He’s going back, back, at the warning track. That ball is outtah here!

My sweaty bottom leaves the seat. Feet in the air, I’m in love with 35000 people. For this moment, we’re brothers and sisters sharing a communal exorcism of grunting, growling, sputtering and howling. The fever is universal and ephemeral. Soon they’ll all be assholes, clogging the exits and making too much noise. I’ll want my gold, my barbed wire, my watchtowers stocked with flamethrowers. But not yet. Let’s can this moment and store it next to the dried beans.

July 16, 2013 at 6:47 am #7972

rapier

rapier post=7702 wrote: American itself is an integral part of American Christianity. It is hardly unique that a nation sees itself in some way as playing a special role in let’s call it God’s plan. The very first kings did it, all kings in all places have always held that their station and authority were conferred by God. The Lutheran church as Nazism arose in Germany found common ground with them in advancing the power of The Nation.

The civic religion that is America was always closely entwined with it’s dominant branches of Protestantism to some degree. The melding of religion and The Nation have only accelerated the last 40 years to the benefit of the Republican party and ministers and preachers some of who have gained great wealth and power from the marriage. Even as religion faded away in European socialites and politics.

All elites here, even corporate, where nary an executive committee member in any of its largest corporations is religious to any degree much less a Christian fundamentalist, are perfectly happy to claim belief in America as a secular religion. Always claiming what’s good for them is good for The Nation.

Oddly the most religious citizens buy it. The now endless reproachmont between nativist, fundamentalist Christians and even the financiers of Wall Street is a sharp break from the past. In the 1890′s populism and fundamentalism met in the person of William Jennings Bryan who ran for President twice essentially as a Socialist, and came semi close to winning once and he and his followers hated Wall Street. Times have change. The denizens of the lavish parties now going on in the Hampton’s where wrenched excess abounds find common cause with the Tea Party and the Southern Baptist Convention. Both willing and now eager to insure a growing underclass and a desire to control if not crush them. The leaders of the opposition joining in semi reluctantly, seemingly, but join in they do.

July 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm #7974

gurusid

Hi Folks,

Of the seven deadly sins, Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, the only one bankers cannot be accused of is Sloth.

Actually that is the very one that they are most guilty of. As in the original meaning and context of the word in the ‘religious’ sense: of being spiritually lazy – the materialistic slant of just being physically lazy and ‘good for nothing’ came from the rise of Mammon itself in order to instil the ‘work ethic’ and thus a tighter control over others for personal gain. The fact that the word itself comes from the Latin religio-onis meaning bond or obligation should be a give away.

“Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool” — Mark Twain

This pseudo-spirituality of some force ‘out there’ or ‘in the future’ (salvation anyone? Heaven? How about growth or ‘better’ living standards?) is a mask all religions use to hide their real raison d’etre which is one of control and subjugation which is but a function of civilisation itself especially in the form of Empire. It is no coincidence that the rise of all major religions coincided with the rise of empire: Brahmanism (Hinduism) with its caste system (the most blatant and open of control systems – your position in society is down to your previous life…) Ashoka, Emperor of the Mauryan Empire who converted to Buddhism (the core teaching amazingly survived); Christianity which was ‘Remodelled’ by Emporer Constantine (it evolved from a cult of Mithras’ that was popular with the ‘military’) and turned the fading secular Empire into the reborn ‘Holy Roman Empire’; and not forgetting Islam, itself the product of the rise of the Arab Nation in the 7th Century as Persia and Rome’s influence declined.

The ‘fact’ that ‘money’ should be the fetishistic token of choice in a contractarian/materialistic society, with its [strike]economists[/strike] priests expounding the myths of eternal progress and growth while metaphorically buggering the children (literally in terms of their future) in the inner temple should come as no surprise. This is the Religeo-onis, the ‘obligation’ forced upon us by the ruling elite.

True spirituality which all religion to some extent corrupts is an internal path; the closest ‘traditions’ to get to it were perhaps the Daoists with the ‘canonical’ statement to the effect of ‘the Dao that can be spoken is not the True Dao’, and the ‘Hopi Indians where the conflict between the sacred inner life and outward material development could not be more critical.

Its all happened before even if not on such a large scale:

Lao Tzu believed that people are inherently good-hearted, and to maintain this state they need personal freedom, intellectual independence, and most importantly, a life that is free from interference from authority. When authority becomes oppressive, people will no longer fear death as they reach for freedom.
Oppressive leaders inevitably hurt themselves in the end. (74)
Self Destructive Leadership
“People are hungry because those above consume too much in taxes. So it is that people are hungry.”
“People are difficult to lead because those above interfere with them. So it is that people are difficult to lead.”
“People make light of death because those above crave survival. So it is that people make light of death.”
Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching during a period of great political instability. Observing the rulers of the various states and the lives of their subjects, he concluded that when leaders are insecure in their position they develop a deep fear of losing their position that they then identify with the interests of the organisation.
As a result they become very defensive, taking desperate measures to protect the organisation. They impose oppressive regulations to restrict the livelihood of the people.
The people, paying for their leaders fear, do not get enough to eat. They become inured to the killing of human beings and develop a growing contempt for their leader. Such an organisation cannot endure for long. (75)

Maybe Zerzan was right. The current civilisations ‘religion’ of purely material focus and gain that sees nature as something ‘nasty and brutish’ to be controlled and manipulated for the ‘true good’ of profit will, with the wholesale destruction of the environment lead inexorably to a ‘nasty and brutish’ end. The only option we have is to each individually re-make the connection with the Earth and re-birth our relationship with that which ultimately supports us and thereby to see the nakedness of all our Emperors.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

– Aldo Leopold

From a window box to a field to a forest garden we can all start to make that re-connection right now, all it takes is that subtle recognition inside ourselves. :)

L,
Sid.
(‘Tae Summary’ will have a field day with this subject! :whistle: )

July 16, 2013 at 6:26 pm #7975

Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Sid et al,

In the end, I think Hazel Henderson defined economics best (and religion in the same vein, since economics is religion):

The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise … economics is a form of brain damage.

No, not all religion is economics, true. But all religion very much IS politics. Not in its purest core, perhaps, but certainly as soon as it gets organized.

July 16, 2013 at 7:43 pm #7976

davefairtex

Ilargi -

To generalize your statement even further, I’d say that any organization – because it is comprised of people – is inherently political. Politics seems to happen as soon as you have more than 2 people in one place.

And so even though churches start from a spiritual basis, because they are earthly organizations comprised of people, they instantly start morphing into political organizations.

After enough time, you get Borgia Popes and the Spanish Inquisition.

July 16, 2013 at 8:04 pm #7977

ashvin

Politics in its broadest sense is simply decisions on how relationships of power should be structured and how power should be allocated among people. You can have politics among friends and family, and certainly among a Church or Temple as well.

gurusid wrote: This pseudo-spirituality of some force ‘out there’ or ‘in the future’ (salvation anyone? Heaven? How about growth or ‘better’ living standards?) is a mask all religions use to hide their real raison d’etre which is one of control and subjugation which is but a function of civilisation itself especially in the form of Empire. It is no coincidence that the rise of all major religions coincided with the rise of empire: Brahmanism (Hinduism) with its caste system (the most blatant and open of control systems – your position in society is down to your previous life…) Ashoka, Emperor of the Mauryan Empire who converted to Buddhism (the core teaching amazingly survived); Christianity which was ‘Remodelled’ by Emporer Constantine (it evolved from a cult of Mithras’ that was popular with the ‘military’) and turned the fading secular Empire into the reborn ‘Holy Roman Empire’; and not forgetting Islam, itself the product of the rise of the Arab Nation in the 7th Century as Persia and Rome’s influence declined. – See more at: http://theautomaticearth.com/index.php?option=com_kunena&func=post&do=reply&catid=15&id=7705&Itemid=96#sthash.dDFoT2CN.dpuf

How about Judaism?

This is why I say we cannot separation Christianity from Christ. The term “Christian” itself was a derogatory label placed onto people who confessed absolute loyalty to and worship of Jesus, as they were heavily persecuted by the Empire.

Most scholars agree the entirety of the New Testament canon was complete before the end of the 1st century, and there is solid evidence for even earlier dating than that which is generally accepted. These are the writings which give us our knowledge about Jesus and who he claimed to be (the Christ and, moreover, God himself). They also expound on the theological implications of such a claim arising out of a Jewish context.

Jesus and the early apostles/disciples were smack dab in the middle of a Pharisaical perversion of Judaism on the one hand, and an imperial Caesar cult on the other. Far from being “secular”, the Caesars claimed to have divine authority, with Nero Caesar the most divinely deluded of them all and perhaps the most brutal source of persecution for early Christians. We have to remember these early Christians came from and operated in a Jewish context.

Typical Jewish “revolutionaries” of that time, as in recent times, would be those who organized and used force to fight off the pagan imperial hordes and reestablish dominance in Judea, and God willing, the entire world. The ideal was very much enmeshed in religious justifications for materialistic dominance, just as we have seen in atheistic justifications for similar dominance by “Marxist” or “socialist” revolutionaries. In STARK contrast, Jesus told his disciple Simon Peter to put DOWN his sword when he attempted to attack the Roman soldiers who were there to arrest his Master.

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthew 26:52

He was counter-cultural, counter-religious and counter-”revolutionary” in so many ways. His early followers very much continued on in that legacy. So like I said earlier, I don’t think it is fair or coherent to lump Christianity, in any meaningful sense of that word, into the camp of all other religions (I prefer the term “spiritual worldviews”). It was only at the end of the 4th century that Roman “Christianity” became the official state religion, under the reign of the last emperor to rule over an undivided Empire.

July 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm #7978

jal

…Christianity which was [strike]‘Remodelled’[/strike] standardized by Emperor Constantine http://www.peter.ca/article38.html (it evolved from a cult of Mithras’ that was popular with the ‘military’) http://www.peter.ca/article37.html and turned the fading secular Empire into the reborn ‘Holy Roman Empire’;…

Fixed it for you.

But the Christian Bible, written from around 100 CE to 323 CE then further censored and modified by the First Council of Nicaea and subsequent Councils)

Meetings of bishops in the Roman empire are known from the mid-third century and already numbered twenty by the time of the famous meeting at Nicaea (325)
Constantine turned to summoning a synod at Nicaea, inviting “the most eminent men of the churches in every country”
I’m going to look deeper into the background of these writers.
Maybe, starting at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf202.iii.vi.xvii.html

The ‘Empire” was in decline, just like now, and the writers included much of their knowledge/messages into their writings.

They are dead. Their knowledge, twisted and misrepresented as it is, has survived.

Lessons, from the past, about Money. Religion. Power. can be found in all the ancient writings.

July 17, 2013 at 2:06 am #7979

jal

Hummm!

http://www.ccel.org/index/author

It looks like I would need another life time to do a research into the wisdom found in the bible and who wrote what and when.

I do get the impression that the authors were part of the elite class.

They also manager to build their doomsteads as a place to gather and pass on their knowledge.

http://www.google.com/search?gs_rn=21&gs_ri=psy-ab&pq=medieval+monasteries&cp=0&gs_id=h&xhr=t&q=monasteries&client=safari&rls=en&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&biw=1087&bih=1090&bs=1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=ra_lUbbVGaOLiwKy94GIAw

July 17, 2013 at 3:26 am #7980

ashvin

[quote=jal post=7710]

…Christianity which was
But the Christian Bible, written from around 100 CE to 323 CE then further censored and modified by the First Council of Nicaea and subsequent Councils)

Hey jal,

This claim is not supported by the evidence. The Council of Nicaea had nothing to do with the Biblical canon, and a lot to do with the nature of the Trinity, i.e. is Jesus co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father or a divine, yet created being?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea#Biblical_canon
A number of erroneous views have been stated regarding the council’s role in establishing the biblical canon. In fact, there is no record of any discussion of the biblical canon at the council at all.[67] The development of the biblical canon took centuries, and was nearly complete (with exceptions known as the Antilegomena, written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed) by the time the Muratorian fragment was written.[68]

In terms of when the NT was actually written, we know for sure that John’s gospel, generally considered the latest NT writing, was no later than the early 2nd century, most likely the late 1st century.

July 17, 2013 at 8:09 am #7981

scott

ilargi and ash are correct, religion and economics are perverted human versions of underlying realities. Politics (greed and ego) has screwed up free market trade .Politics and fear of self-actualization (accepting our mortality) has perverted religion. True Christianity is not a religion, it’s a reality,historically.

July 17, 2013 at 11:23 pm #7982

ted

I think that this latest article is a bit off topic and a stretch at best…What I want to know is why is the dollar to Euro not fluctuating much…Nicole said that the U. S would be the last horse in the glue factory…why aren’t people dumping their Euros for dollars and Swiss francs? And for that matter what about the Japanese yen?

July 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm #7985

gurusid

Hi Ashvin,

How about Judaism?

I was making the point of how ‘Empires’ – that is structures of power and politics (as Ilargi has alluded to above) usurp the ‘spiritual’ impulse (which is internal) to its own ends which is dominion over the external manifest material world and increasingly throughout history the internal world as well. Judaism was not to my knowledge usurped by an Empire as its own doctrine, unless you want to include ‘international banking’ :dry:

[strike]Your ‘focus’ on someone called ‘Jesus’ and ‘His’ – ‘His-story’ misses entirely the deeper points about the internal spiritual path. You might as well join Viscount at the ballpark. Don’t get me wrong, I am not questioning your faith, just where it is focused.[/strike] – (Edit see below.)

Bernadette Roberts is a modern mystic who IMHO exemplifies the internal path that is the same for all humans, even if it has different ‘histories’ and frameworks:


Here’s a very interesting interview with Bernadette Roberts, a modern Christian contemplative who spoke about her experience of moving from the ‘I AM’ stage to the insight of the Nondual nature which she calls “No-Self”, which is different from the egoless state of I AM . It is the Thusness’s Stage 4 experience.

However she has tendency to speak about the experience of No-Self as a stage rather than as the everpresent nature of reality, a dharma seal… even though she knows experientially that nondual is pathless without entry and exit.

“Bernadette: That occurred unexpectedly some 25 years after the transforming process. The divine center – the coin, or “true self” – suddenly disappeared, and without center or circumference there is no self, and no divine.”

Initially, when I looked into Buddhism, I did not find the experience of no-self there either; yet I intuited that it had to be there. The falling away of the ego is common to both Hinduism and Buddhism. Therefore, it would not account for the fact that Buddhism became a separate religion, nor would it account for the Buddhist’s insistence on no eternal Self – be it divine, individual or the two in one. I felt that the key difference between these two religions was the no-self experience, the falling away of the true Self, Atman-Brahman.

Unfortunately, what most Buddhist authors define as the no-self experience is actually the no-ego experience. The cessation of clinging, craving, desire, the passions, etc., and the ensuing state of imperturbable peace and joy articulates the egoless state of oneness; it does not, however, articulate the no-self experience or the dimension beyond. Unless we clearly distinguish between these two very different experiences, we only confuse them, with the inevitable result that the true no-self experience becomes lost. If we think the falling away of the ego, with its ensuing transformation and oneness, is the no-self experience, then what shall we call the much further experience when this egoless oneness falls away? In actual experience there is only one thing to call it, the “no-self experience”; it lends itself to no other possible articulation.

Initially, I gave up looking for this experience in the Buddhist literature. Four years later, however, I came across two lines attributed to Buddha describing his enlightenment experience. Referring to self as a house, he said, “All thy rafters are broken now, the ridgepole is destroyed.” And there it was – the disappearance of the center, the ridgepole; without it, there can be no house, no self. When I read these lines, it was as if an arrow launched at the beginning of time had suddenly hit a bulls-eye. It was a remarkable find. These lines are not a piece of philosophy, but an experiential account, and without the experiential account we really have nothing to go on. In the same verse he says, “Again a house thou shall not build,” clearly distinguishing this experience from the falling away of the ego-center, after which a new, transformed self is built around a “true center,” a sturdy, balanced ridgepole.

etc.

Her new book The Real Christ I think is well worth investigating, and I will be ordering a copy soon.
This from a review:

…Bernadette Roberts (author of The Experience of No-Self) has just made available a new book, The Real Christ (October 2012)— a most profound theological correction of wrong views of Christ and the Trinity. The Real Christ effectively demonstrates how an anthropomorphic view of the Trinity as “Father, Son, Spirit” obscures the splendid truth of the divine, and has stymied a true understanding of our spiritual journey of transformation into Christ. Bernadette does indeed affirm the Trinity is ultimate reality, and accurately described as “Transcendent, Logos, Spirit.” She compelling shows how the view of God as “Transcendent, Logos, Spirit” is true to the mystical theology of early Fathers of the Christianity. She shows how Christ, too, is only truly understood in terms of the Trinity as “Transcendent, Logos, Spirit.” An egregious mistake was made by theology when it identified Christ as the human person Jesus (who is the historical icon of Christ), for Christ is beyond all distinctions of personhood, even Jesus’ personhood. Christ is the revelation of man, of the alpha and omega of universal human destiny— not the revelation of the single man, Jesus.

And her freinds page is interesting too.

Again there is that IMHO deliberate obfuscation by the ‘religious’ mechanism.

The ‘mythology’ is just that, it is an allegorical framework for the internal path to the divine – it was never meant to be taken as a material factuality – it is a spiritual ‘eternality’, the ‘stories’ may change but the ‘song’ always is the same.

The point is that modern economics and finance are so totally removed from any consideration of selflessness and the common good, yet alone the spiritual inner path that it is a joke when members of this ‘caste’ babble on about philanthropy (Gates Foundation anyone? In the future you won’t own your food, just the ‘right to use it’, and ‘we’ will upgrade it without prior notification – aka the Microsoft model writ large). Their whole world revolves around the ‘ego’. Truly it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into heaven… :dry:

L,
Sid.

July 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm #7986

ashvin

gurusid post=7717 wrote: Hi Ashvin,

I was making the point of how ‘Empires’ – that is structures of power and politics (as Ilargi has alluded to above) usurp the ‘spiritual’ impulse (which is internal) to its own ends which is dominion over the external manifest material world and increasingly throughout history the internal world as well. Judaism was not to my knowledge usurped by an Empire as its own doctrine, unless you want to include ‘international banking’ :dry:

Yes, but you implied the formation of empire and “usurpation” occurred around the same time these major spiritual worldviews formed, which also implies there is a connection there. I pointed out that, even if that holds true for other spiritual worldviews (debatable), the Judeo-Christian tradition is unique in this regard. They both formed independently and in stark contrast to the ruling powers of their day. We know that because of another unique aspect of Judeo-Christian theology, it’s heavy reliance on historical reality (more on that below)

Your ‘focus’ on someone called ‘Jesus’ and ‘His’ – ‘His-story’ misses entirely the deeper points about the internal spiritual path. You might as well join Viscount at the ballpark. Don’t get me wrong, I am not questioning your faith, just where it is focused.

I understand, and I am questioning your misguided (IMO) theological perspective of Christianity, in which an artificial congruency with Eastern philosophy/religion is imposed on it. A Christian theology that doesn’t focus on Jesus as a historical human being, what he said and did, his death and Resurrection, is COMPLETELY missing the point. In fact, we are told by Paul that if Jesus has not been raised, the entire faith is meaningless. This is a common theme of both Judaism and Christianity – theological reliance on historical events. The exodus, for ex, is a major point of intersection for the former and the latter. But there are obviously many more examples.

Bernadette Roberts is a modern mystic who IMHO exemplifies the internal path that is the same for all humans, even if it has different ‘histories’ and frameworks:

This is a case in point of how badly we can misconceive Christianity as a worldview when we ignore the person of Jesus and the historical reality surrounding him. Her view is contrary to most of the objective evidence we have about what Jesus taught to his disciples. He was a Jew who came from an orthodox Jewish tradition and claimed to be the Messianic fulfillment of the Jewish prophets and law. He constantly references the clearly monotheistic Old Testament in his discourses, but never once references any Eastern philosophical or religious traditions. He does teach a “no-ego” ethic, as did the Jewish tradition before him, but he never once teaches a “no-self” perspective. Instead, he constantly makes distinctions between people and reinforces the concept of personhood, even WITHIN the Godhead.

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty familiar with mystical perspectives on Christianity, since they are so commonly used as a critique of the historical Christian faith… not a single one stacks up against the objective evidence we have supporting a traditional perspective of Christian theology within the early Church. And, in the modern era, the discovery of new manuscripts, advances in the fields of history, archaeology, science, etc. have only improved the historical reliability of these so-called “myths” or “allegories” found in the Bible.

And her freinds page is interesting too.

The point is that modern economics and finance are so totally removed from any consideration of selflessness and the common good, yet alone the spiritual inner path that it is a joke when members of this ‘caste’ babble on about philanthropy (Gates Foundation anyone? In the future you won’t own your food, just the ‘right to use it’, and ‘we’ will upgrade it without prior notification – aka the Microsoft model writ large). Their whole world revolves around the ‘ego’. Truly it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into heaven… :dry:

L,
Sid.

That is true, but it is the historical reality of Jesus that really stresses this point and makes it meaningful in the Christian faith. If his life, ministry, death and Resurrection were just more fanciful stories aimed at making some larger, abstract metaphysical point, we would be justified is dismissing the whole thing as dishonest, misleading and flat out wrong. If not, then we see a powerful and moving example of a real human being who was completely selfless and faithful to moral virtues, and through his love and grace created the potential for all human beings to truly transform the world.

July 19, 2013 at 7:50 pm #7988

Anonymous

For those who are interested, an extensive discussion of this issue can be found at The Archdruid Report (long-form blog).

July 22, 2013 at 3:49 am #7990

gurusid

Hi Ashvin,

What ever works for you – that’s the way it has to be for everyone. Forgive me if I sounded trite – it was foolish of me to question your faith in the way I did, and for that I am truly sorry. :oops:

L,
Sid.

July 22, 2013 at 6:52 am #7991

ashvin

Well, I called JMG out on his irresponsible caricature of conservative Christians as “anti-science” and his blind dogmatic faith in neo-Darwinian evolution.

He responded by saying I was using “dubious stunts”, then by comparing me to Richard Dawkins (?) and finally banned me for telling him to remember the spirit of Matthew 7:5 (don’t hypocritically judge others). Never once did I get a response from him containing a hint of substance or a genuine desire to dialogue with those who would dare question his arguments.

That forum is the quintessential breeding ground for egotistical groupthink…

July 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm #8028

gurusid

Hi Ashvin,

I understand, and I am questioning your misguided (IMO) theological perspective of Christianity, in which an artificial congruency with Eastern philosophy/religion is imposed on it.

I beg to differ. Bernadette Roberts was a Christian contemplative:

A cloistered nun for nine years, Roberts reports that she returned to the world after experiencing the “unitive state”, the state of oneness with God, in order to share what she had learned and to take on the problems and experience of others. In the years that followed she completed a graduate degree in education, married, raised four children, and taught at the pre-school, high school, and junior college levels; at the same time she continued her contemplative practice. Then, quite unexpectedly, some 20 years after leaving the convent, Roberts reportedly experienced the dropping away of the unitive state itself and came upon what she calls “the experience of no-self” – an experience for which the Christian literature, she says, gave her no clear road maps or guideposts.

In her own words, she could not find any reference to this experience anywhere, not even initially in Buddhism:

Actually, I met up with Buddhism only at the end of my journey, after the no-self experience. Since I knew that this experience was not articulated in [b]our contemplative literature[/b], I went to the library to see if it could be found in the Eastern Religions. It did not take me long to realize that I would not find it in the Hindu tradition, where, as I see it, the final state is equivalent to the Christian experience of oneness or transforming union. If a Hindu had what I call the no-self experience, it would be the sudden, unexpected disappearance of the Atman-Brahman, the divine Self in the “cave of the heart”, and the disappearance of the cave as well. It would be the ending of God-consciousness, or transcendental consciousness – that seemingly bottomless experience of “being”, “consciousness”, and “bliss” that articulates the state of oneness. To regard this ending as the falling away of the ego is a grave error; ego must fall away before the state of oneness can be realized. The no-self experience is the falling away of this previously realized transcendent state.

Initially, when I looked into Buddhism, I did not find the experience of no-self there either; yet I intuited that it had to be there. The falling away of the ego is common to both Hinduism and Buddhism. Therefore, it would not account for the fact that Buddhism became a separate religion, nor would it account for the Buddhist’s insistence on no eternal Self – be it divine, individual or the two in one. I felt that the key difference between these two religions was the no-self experience, the falling away of the true Self, Atman-Brahman. Unfortunately, what most Buddhist authors define as the no-self experience is actually the no-ego experience. The cessation of clinging, craving, desire, the passions, etc., and the ensuing state of imperturbable peace and joy articulates the egoless state of oneness; it does not, however, articulate the no-self experience or the dimension beyond. Unless we clearly distinguish between these two very different experiences, we only confuse them, with the inevitable result that the true no-self experience becomes lost. If we think the falling away of the ego, with its ensuing transformation and oneness, is the no-self experience, then what shall we call the much further experience when this egoless oneness falls away? In actual experience there is only one thing to call it, the “no-self experience”; it lends itself to no other possible articulation.

Initially, I gave up looking for this experience in the Buddhist literature. Four years later, however, I came across two lines attributed to Buddha describing his enlightenment experience. Referring to self as a house, he said, “All thy rafters are broken now, the ridgepole is destroyed.” And there it was – the disappearance of the center, the ridgepole; without it, there can be no house, no self. When I read these lines, it was as if an arrow launched at the beginning of time had suddenly hit a bulls-eye. It was a remarkable find. These lines are not a piece of philosophy, but an experiential account, and without the experiential account we really have nothing to go on. In the same verse he says, “Again a house thou shall not build,” clearly distinguishing this experience from the falling away of the ego-center, after which a new, transformed self is built around a “true center,” a sturdy, balanced ridgepole.

(bold added)

This actually parallels the economic position of TAE; they are using an experiential account of an economic reality i.e. Predatory Elitism and Deflationary Depression that the Churches of economics have no description of. This is why it is so difficult to explain to the majority of economists, and to a larger extent the rest of the current economic church going public. :woohoo:

L,
Sid.

July 25, 2013 at 8:19 pm #8031

ashvin

OK, well I’m happy to see Roberts say Christian literature does not teach a “no-self” understanding.

In opposition to the Buddha’s saying, we get this from Paul:

1Corinthians3 wrote: By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

We don’t eliminate the “foundation” and “house” that are our lives, but we BUILD upon the foundation that Christ has laid.

gurusid wrote: This actually parallels the economic position of TAE; they are using an experiential account of an economic reality i.e. Predatory Elitism and Deflationary Depression that the Churches of economics have no description of.

I guess you could say that. Although, TAE relies heavily on the academic work of Dr. Keen and his analysis of the debt deflationary theories of Irving Fisher, John Keynes and Hyman Minsky. Sometimes, “experiential accounts” are not enough… and we need to get into the raw hard data.

July 25, 2013 at 11:08 pm #8033

gurusid

Hi Ashvin,

Well to me IMHO:

It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

As I see it this is describing two states of being and sounds metaphorically like:

I came across two lines attributed to Buddha describing his enlightenment experience. Referring to self as a house, he said, “All thy rafters are broken now, the ridgepole is destroyed.” And there it was – the disappearance of the center, the ridgepole; without it, there can be no house, no self. When I read these lines, it was as if an arrow launched at the beginning of time had suddenly hit a bulls-eye. It was a remarkable find. These lines are not a piece of philosophy, but an experiential account, and without the experiential account we really have nothing to go on. In the same verse he says, “Again a house thou shall not build,” clearly distinguishing this experience from the falling away of the ego-center, after which a new, transformed self is built around a “true center,” a sturdy, balanced ridgepole.

Thus “if what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward” which is the “oneness” union with God, where as “If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet be saved – even though only as one escaping through flames” equates to the state of no-self being left at all – but still the body is ‘saved’.
As far as Ilargi and Stoneliegh go, I get the distinct impression that they are coming from their own experiential positions in terms of their knowledge and learning which I think if anything is informed be previous historical “raw hard data”. Perhaps they would like to comment?

Still at the end of the day, no one can accuse us of being slothful eh!. ;)

L,
Sid.

July 26, 2013 at 4:12 am #8034

ashvin

Sid (short for Siddhartha?),

I don’t see how Paul’s teaching and the Buddha’s (as quoted by Roberts) can be equated. If anything, they seem to be the exact opposite.

Roberts is contrasting the “no-ego” perspective (destroying the old house of “ego” and building a new house) from the no-self perspective (destroying the old house and not building anything new, but just experiencing existence without a house, so to speak). Paul’s teaching is very much in line with the no-ego, new self perspective rather than the no-ego, no-self one.

Roberts wrote: In the same verse he says, “Again a house thou shall not build,” clearly distinguishing this experience from the falling away of the ego-center, after which a new, transformed self is built around a “true center,” a sturdy, balanced ridgepole.

So Paul is teaching a new, transformed self, which can be clearly distinguished from the Buddha’s “a house thou shall not build” teaching. Our old house is broken down by God’s grace, and the new house is established with Christ as its foundation (by faith). Then, although we are saved, we should attempt to build upon that foundation with righteous works, which will be “tested by fire” to reveal what they truly are. If they are merely superficial works, then we are only saved as one “escaping through the flames”.

July 26, 2013 at 4:19 pm #8036

gurusid

Hi Ashvin,

Our old house is broken down by God’s grace, and the new house is established with Christ as its foundation (by faith). Then, although we are saved, we should attempt to build upon that foundation with righteous works, which will be “tested by fire” to reveal what they truly are. If they are merely superficial works, then we are only saved as one “escaping through the flames”.

Now that I like! :)

“In My Father’s House There Are Many Rooms.” (John 14:2)

Many non-Catholic denominations have referred to this passage in their argument that everyone who has faith in Jesus, they are saved no matter what religions they belong to.

…n’est pas? Yes I know it refers to the ‘saving only of parishioners’ who specifically follow Christ, but IMHO that is the same ‘elitism’ that is involved with the current economic crisis. I prefer the interpretation that everyone who turns in their heart to the principles of Christ’s teaching will automatically be saved. :woohoo:

Sid (short for Siddhartha?)

No, just vicious, as in the Sex Pistols… :whistle: The ‘L’ stands for LOVE every time! :lol:

L,
Sid.

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