Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only a unanimity of the graveyard.
Justice Robert H. Jackson, 1892-1954
As many regular readers know, almost from day one of the publication of the material on this Website, we have been accused of being a “cult.” I’ve had a lot of trouble dealing with that accusation because every “claim” that we are a “cult” has been a lie, and all of the accusations have been made by individuals who clearly ARE members of REAL CULTS – scary ones, too.
The Oxford English dictionary entry for ‘cult’ states: 1. a system of religious worship, esp. as expressed in ritual. 2. A devotion or homage to a person or thing. 2b. A popular fashion esp. followed by a specific section of society 3. denoting a person or thing popularized in this way.
It is clear that the above description could easily apply to any of the organized religions prevalent today. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism (and others) are replete and indeed founded on ritual and “devotion to a person or thing.” However, they are not generally referred to as ‘cults’.
The term cult, in its modern and widely understood form, is reserved for any group formed under a hierarchical structure, where some form of coercion or manipulation of the group members exists. Generally there is also some focus of worship, be it the group leader(s) or some other outside personage or thing such as Jesus, Jehovah/Yahweh, Allah or the Tooth Fairy.
The issue of justification for worship or allegiance - that is, the coercion and manipulation - is usually tied to the perceived or stated benefits or potential benefits to be derived from belief, worship or allegiance. In other words, promises of heavenly rewards that can never be demonstrated or proven (no one has ever come back to tell us that heaven exists, nor is there any proof), promises of survival of the end of the world – to be the “Chosen People” who rule – or wine bearing houris who minister to the martyr in paradise – are all included in the promises of the main cults that dominate our world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
We, on the other hand, take the approach of a sort of scientific mysticism – where mystical claims are submitted to rational analysis and testing, and the required scientific proofs are modified to allow for the nature of evidence from theorized realms outside our own where ordinary scientific proofs might not apply.
And yet, again and again we have had to address this issue of being labeled a “cult” because the accusations and mud keep flying.
In the beginning, it was very hard for me to understand why – after all, I was just a mother of five kids with a hobby publishing the results of my studies on the Internet and one would think that doing that was allowed in a democratic society – but it became obvious that there are some fairly powerful groups on the planet who must be scared to death of this ordinary housewife as is evident from the extraordinary amount of effort put into trying to shut me up!
So far, when we have tracked the origins and connections of our accusers, we generally end up at powerful Christian or Jewish organizations with covert government or military ties that have a vested interest in maintaining their cultic controls over peoples’ minds. At this point, the Islamic groups haven’t gone after us, but that’s only because we have been pointing out that the Moslems are on the short end of the stick in this go-round.
The fact is, as far as I am concerned, Islam – as a monotheistic religion that promotes an “object of worship” – is no better than Christianity or Judaism – all three of them are, historically speaking, vile, bloody, violent CULTS. What is going on in the Middle East today – this conflict that threatens to blow up the whole planet (and if you don’t know that this is the case, you have NOT been paying attention!), is just more of the same old CULT nonsense that has been playing out for the past two millennia.
I recently received a letter from a member of one of these cults about my series “Who Wrote The Bible?” Since his comments are so typical of the thinking processes of cults, I would like to present his/her remarks with my own comments interlined. He/she begins his remarks as follows:
Wow, what you are describing in your article is the greatest conspiracy since man invented language!
We have all been duped by a number of people throughout histroy to create a religon to engineer social order in their favor.
That seems to be the case. From a historical point of view, the ONLY reality is that of conspiracy. Secrecy, wealth and independence add up to power. …Deception is the key element of warfare, (the tool of power elites), and when winning is all that matters, the conventional morality held by ordinary people becomes an impediment. Secrecy stems from a pervasive and fundamental element of life in our world, that those who are at the top of the heap will always take whatever steps are necessary to maintain the status quo.
And maintaining the “status quo” VIA RELIGION had to be one of the main objectives of the Power Elite.
Note particularly the remark that “Secrecy stems from a pervasive and fundamental element of life in our world…” Boris Mouravieff calls it “World Three,” which operates via the “General Law.” Gurdjieff refers to it as “mechanicalness,” Castaneda refers to it as the “Predator,” and Jesus referred to it as “Satan, the ruler of this world.” Jesus even addressed the elite of his time, the Pharisees, as ” Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44) We often think of it as the gravitational attraction of matter vs. spirit, and scientifically, it is called ENTROPY.
Have you read your own article in full (not looking at each point independently) but the entire article as a whole. Can you see that what you are extrapolating to based on your military advice, is that a group of people conspired through several centuries to create a religion to justify genocide or whatever else was these peoples agenda were or still is.
People around the times when all this conspiracy was bieng planned and developed must have all been very stupid and different from us today to accept (even if forced upon them) the greatest of all lies.
These people (conspirators) must have been a hundred times smarter than all the people who attempted genocoide in history before, and the people living throught these periods must have been a million times dumber than all other people in history.
Again, judging by the response of this writer, the “conspirators” wouldn’t even have to be a hundred times smarter… The evidence is there to collect and assemble.
Nevertheless, when dealing with the possibility of hyperdimensional manipulations, beings that are “a hundred times smarter” and with astonishing technological capabilities that can be used to conceal their activities and manipulate vast numbers of people must be taken as a given.
But, even having said that, considering what we see happening on the planet today, who am I to argue with the assessment that people are a “million times dumber?”
People have a right to justify their own beliefs by disecting a so called propoganda in a seemigly logical way, but it usually fails because it does not truly examines what are the other alternatives for truth.
Seeking truth cannot be one sided as your article is. Itself have so many flaws, even from the begining of the article when you said people are reading the bible from 2000 years ago. Your article has the biggest contradiction of all by making references to text from the bible written way before 2000 years ago. (Oh, but those people were too stupid to read it then) But this mistake is honest, as you just overlooked this contradiction, but this happened due to the fact this foundation is important in defending your own belief (if you have any that is)
I find it interesting that the writer has revealed his/her own cognitive dissonance in the extremely confused wording of the above remarks. First he has accused us of “justifying our own beliefs,” and now he has assumed that we have none.
His own knowledge of the texts he attempts to defend is also abysmally absent, and he has not, apparently, done any extensive studies into the history of the “writing” of the Bible himself. His “legalistic loophole” approach to the subject of the “Bible” fails to realize that the “Bible” as we know it really has not existed for a very long time at all, and that a general figure for the period of time in which the various texts were being read before final assembly, can be averaged to about 2000 years.
I dont have the time to rebut your article because there are two many loopholes even though it appears logical. Please note, that contradictions and differences have two seperate definitions. Example: Me and paul went to the shop. There are several ways to make this statement without a contradiction. 1. I went to the shop 2. Paul went to the shop 3. somebody went to the shop etc… all are different but none is contradictory to the fact that I went to the shop. Based on the examples you use from the bible, I think the better word to describe what you are saying is that there are differences.
It is amazing how “true believers” will repeat the legalistic nonsense to defend their beliefs. It’s the old “have you stopped beating your wife?” argument. The above is, in fact, exactly an example of how Jesus described the Pharisees, those legal hair splitters of Judaic law:
Luke 11:37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. 11:38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. 11:39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
Even more telling is the fact that he “does not have time to rebut your article…” which is just simply saying “I can’t because I don’t know anything about the subject anyway. I’m just a “true believer” with no knowledge of the subject.
Another example: Powell wrote a speech for Bush which he read on CNN. I reported, Bush read a speech on CNN. you reported, Powell speech was read on CNN. Who is telling the BIG LIE? I could go through your article like this and show you alternatives to alot of your points, but I doubt you will even consider my points.
Again: “Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.”
There is a huge difference between lies and lack of information. But this writer apparently does not grasp that point.
You see, you begin your article from your beleif and extrapolated downward.
Again, this writer apparently has not read very much of the site here and – exactly as in the case of his own beliefs – is not even aware of my own background in Fundamentalist Christianity. Indeed, I began from my “beliefs…” and I most desperately wanted to find some evidence that indicated that the Bible was a reliable source for information and religious truth. But I didn’t extrapolate downward, I investigated and tested and studied.
Only after years of gathering information did I even consider “extrapolating” in any direction. I had to face the very hard fact that, as a source document for religious truth, the Bible “wasn’t even wrong,” it was just a mythico/historical mishmash assembled to dupe a particular group of people. And then, I had to ask the even harder question: if this is true, and if there ARE people in authority who know this (which there certainly were) what could possibly be the motive for perpetrating and perpetuating this nonsense?
I am not defending Christianity, but I am appalled at the one-sided article in the name of searching for the truth. But to each his own. Ecc. (Bible) God gave man the curiosity to discover the truth, but never will give him the satisfaction of discovering it. I dont thing you will ever find the truth, if you are not content then with faith, you are fighting a losing battle. But this is just a conspiracy and one big lie! to each his own
Again we see the cognitive dissonance of the individual. He is not “defending Christianity,” but he is certainly advocating the one thing that Christianity (as we know it) teaches as its main tenet: faith. We are all supposed to be “content with faith.”
A fundamentalist not only believes that “with God, all things are possible,” but also that “with the Bible, all interpretations are possible” except, of course, any interpretation that disagrees with church doctrine, or that posits any errors or contradictions in the Bible.
I wonder what he means by “Ecc. (Bible) followed by the lame quote? Does he think that this comes from the Bible? It doesn’t. Not only that, but it is a SICK idea to even suggest that a real “God” would play such games with man. My guess is that he has not only NEVER really read the Bible, he is repeating ideas that he has been hypnotized into believing. It’s amazing how many “true believers” in the Bible have never actually read it all the way through.
As it happens, this little series is exactly about the problem created by “faith.” What does it mean to be “content with faith,” or even consumed by it? As one former believer in one of the Monotheistic cults wrote:
“Deep faith, faith that runs through your veins, that pulses in your forehead and under your skin, is stronger than anyone without it can understand.”
Faith that can “move mountains” is promoted by cults AKA the standard Monotheistic religions as the necessary thing that the “faithful” must cultivate in order to receive the benefits that are promised by the hierarchy.
The example of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, has been trotted out for ages as the supreme example of how one is to approach the “god.” One must be willing to give the god anything and everything! This “Faith” is an essential part of the “covenant” with the god – a sort of “act of trade,” so to say.
The story about the almost sacrifice of Abraham is actually nearly identical to a Vedic story of Manu. These acts of sacrifice were based on what was called sraddha which is related to the words fides, credo, faith, believe and so on.
The word sraddha was, according to religious historians Dumezil and Levi, too hastily understood as “faith” in the Christian sense. Correctly understood, it means something like the trust a workman has in his tools to “shape or create” and techniques of sacrifice were, in the way of tools, similar to acts of magic!
Such “faith” is, therefore, part of a “covenant” wherein the sacrificer knows how to perform a prescribed sacrifice correctly, and who also knows that if he performs the sacrifice correctly, it must produce its effect.
In short, it is an act that is designed to gain control over the forces of life that reside in the god with whom one has made the covenant.
Such gods as make covenants are not “literary ornaments” or abstractions. They are active partners with intelligence, strength, passion, and a tendency to get out of control if the sacrifices are not performed correctly. In this sense, the sacrifice – the “faith” – is simply black magic.
In another sense, the ascetic or “self-sacrificer,” is a person who is striving for release from the bondage and order of nature by the act of attempting to mortify the self, the flesh; testing and increasing the will for the purpose of winning tyrannical powers while still in the world. But again, we see that through this self-sacrifice, he or she seeks mastery of the gods. It is, in short, manipulation and coercion at its most subtle to promote “faith” as the bringer of salvation.
What seems to be so is that it is generally individuals who have been “disenfranchised” or who feel helpless and at the mercy of the forces of life – whether they manifest through other people or random events – are those who are most likely to seek such faith, such a covenant with a god. They feel acutely their own inability to have an effect in the world, and they turn their creativity inward to create and maintain their “faith.”
Fundamentalism of any sort – be it Judaism, Christianity or Islamic – thrives on certain characteristics of human beings. The first characteristic is “absolute certainty.” In this sense, it is a sort of terminal consciousness in which development is stopped because real growth and development includes, of necessity, uncertainty and risk. This point was actually made by Jesus in the parable of the talents.
In this story, Jesus describes “Knowledge” as “money” given to three servants. Two of the servants utilize their talents/gold to obtain even more. In fact, the exact description is that they “invest,” or take a risk by giving up what they have been given – what they know (knowledge of the kingdom) – in order to multiply it. And the servant who clings desperately to his little bit of knowledge/money, burying it in the ground from fear that his Master is hard and demanding, loses even the little that he has. He closed his mind to more knowledge. He assumed that what he had was sufficient and stopped seeking.He denied himself by denying knowledge and the risks entailed in gaining it.
The “absolute certainty” – the burying of the talent – of the Fundamentalist is very similar to what psychologists call the “Right Man Syndrome.” The Right Man lives in a world of fantasy and indulges in grandiose dreams of success (rewards in heaven) without any realistic attempts to make them come true. They rely on their “faith” and their “sacrifices” to the god to ultimately bring them the great “reward.”
The Right Man is generally a person who has a “high need for dominance,” but who repeatedly finds himself in life situations of subordinance. Placed in such situations, they attempt to express their dominance need in the only ways available to them: generally manipulation for power which is, in the end, what faith and sacrifice amount to.
What is crucial to understand is that Fundamentalists are basically “giving their will” away in exchange for promised benefits. This free will is their own power of creativity – their own possibility for growth and development that can only commutate and expand in the process of uncertainty, taking risks, and making free and willing exchanges with others that do NOT include dominance and manipulation.
The “absolute certainty” of the Fundamentalist locks them into Entropy and their creative energy goes to feed a vast system of illusion. These systems are the creation and maintenance of the Idols they worship. Like the paranoid schizophrenic, they devise baroque and ingenious systems of perception and define them as “given by god.” They then spend an enormous amount of energy editing out all impressions that are contrary to their system of illusion.
Of course, this system of being able to find a text for everything in the Bible, and explaining contradictions and errors as just “different points of view” on the same event, ultimately amounts to being able to do exactly as one likes. Many fundamentalists throughout history have excused the most horrific crimes imaginable by quoting the appropriate text from the Bible. The name of Yahweh, Jesus and Allah has been invoked to cover every horror that might satisfy the most degraded of criminals.
Another aspect of the Right Man that manifests in religious beliefs is that Fundamentalists look down on others who do not share their faith. It is, at root, an “us vs. them” system that focuses its ironclad preconceptions so rigidly on “future benefits,” that its adherents simply lose sight of the here and now.
Fundamentalists are more interested in dogma than in actual deeds in the moment. It is extremely important to get others to believe in their illusion in order to confirm its “rightness” even if they claim, on the surface, that “everyone has the right to their own opinion.” The fact is, they cannot tolerate anyone else’s opinion if it is different from their own because it threatens their “rightness.”
This rightness MUST be maintained at all costs because, deep inside, the Right Man (or woman) is usually struggling with horror at their own helplessness. Their rightness is a dam that holds back their worst fears: that they are lost and alone and that there really is no god because how could there be a god who loves them if they have to suffer so much? Their inability to feel truly loved and accepted deep within is, in effect, like being stranded in a nightmare from which they cannot wake up.
As a general rule, Fundamentalists also have a deep distrust of women and this is characterized by the place of women in the three major Monotheistic religions. Certainly, they disguise this distrust in myriads of ways, but they are almost never able to have a healthy relationship with a real woman who they can accept as a living, breathing, human being. For them, women must be either saints or whores and the least flaw in a woman who has been sanctified immediately turns her into a repulsive and reviled degenerate.
Getting back to the issue of FAITH. As I wrote in the previous chapter, there I was, a mother with three little babies, and every Sunday when we went to church, we heard more and more about the coming “End of the World.” Sure, it was promoted as a great blessing for those who were “saved,” but for everyone else, it was hell-fire and damnation.
When I held my babies and rocked them or looked into their sweet, innocent faces – untroubled by the concerns of the world around, certain that Mother would make them safe – I had to ask myself “How can I tell them these things? How can I “break it to them” that this world into which they have been born is so frightening and uncertain and full of traps that not only are their lives in constant danger, their very souls may be in peril?”
How could I tell that to my children???
If it was true, I HAD to tell them. But what if it wasn’t true?
WHAT IF IT WASN’T TRUE?
I knew one thing and one thing only: I wanted more than anything in the world to tell my children the truth, to prepare them for whatever might lie ahead of them in their lives. And the question burned inside me: What if I told those little beings who I loved more than my own life a LIE? What kind of a mother would I be? What kind of “Mother Love” is that?
And so, I began to ask questions. I began to search for answers, and among the many thousands of interesting things I found, none was more shocking to my Christian sensibilities than the following:
“It should bring an end to the myth, the history, the mentality, of the Gospels. But nobody’s going to want to read it!”
Burton L. Mack, until his recent retirement a professor of New Testament at the School of Theology at Claremont, in southern California, and the author of a best-selling book about the origins of Christianity, was talking about the publication of a scholarly document that he believes radically undercuts Christianity’s claim to be the religion of Jesus of Nazareth.
He blames Christianity for contributing to centuries of U.S. wrongdoing, from wars against Native Americans to interventionism abroad. [...]
The roughly 235 parallel verses in Luke and Matthew that scholars have identified as Q material do not include the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, which seem to have come from other sources, written or oral. Therefore Q partisans contend that the authors of Q knew nothing about the way Jesus died or about the stories of an empty tomb — or if they knew, they did not care. Hence there was no atonement doctrine in Q theology. And because belief in Jesus’ resurrection is the core belief of Christianity (even very liberal Christians profess faith in the Easter event, if only as a metaphor for renewal), the people who wrote Q must have been adherents of Jesus’ in Palestine who were not “Christians” — unless, as Robinson and others observe, one stretches the word to include anyone who admires Jesus.
Scholars used to refer to members of the Q community as “Jewish Christians,” a term that can sometimes lead to confusion. The preferred designation nowadays for the group of which they were a part is the “Jesus movement.”
It took decades, Q partisans believe, before the movement was subsumed into a “cult of Christ,” largely gentile and centered on the cross and the resurrection — a cult that became known as Christianity.
In A Myth of Innocence (1988), Mack argued that the Gospel of Mark was responsible for contributing to the American mindset that led to the Vietnam War and to Ronald Reagan’s defense policy.
The Lost Gospel, which has sold 39,000 copies, repeated that theme. Mack’s new book, Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of Christian Myth (1995), blames the Bible for providing justifications for Waco-style apocalyptic violence and the selfish exploitation of natural resources. [The Atlantic Monthly; December 1996; The Search for a No-Frills Jesus; Volume 278, No. 6; pages 51-68.]
It is, of course, not quite that simple and the theories that have been proposed by New Testament Scholars are more varied and complicated than the above quoted segment of a much longer article would have us suppose. What IS important, however, is that it does seem to be generally agreed by the experts that the ideas of “faith” in this or that doctrine came much later and were, effectively, created to establish a base of support for a hierarchical church and priesthood that promoted “cultic devotion” to an object of worship.It certainly seems that there was a political agenda behind the establishment of the control of the Church – via the doctrinal ideas of faith – over the Peoples of Europe.
Historians of ancient times face two constant problems: the scarcity of evidence, and how to fit the evidence that IS known into the larger context of other evidence, not to mention the context of the time to which it belongs. Very often historians have to use what could be described as a more or less “legal method” for deciding which bit of evidence has more or less weight than another. For example, most of what we know about ancient times comes to us in polemics written by adversaries of a particular group or idea. These polemics survived because they were “favored” by the elite rulers or conquerors, and the “inside knowledge” of the group in question is lost because they may have been destroyed along with their material. In this respect, it is much easier to “refute than confirm.” A difference of emphasis can be as telling as a new discovery.
Fortunately, ancient history is not “static” in the sense that we can say we know all there is to know now simply because the subject is about the “past.” For example, the understanding of ancient history of our own fathers and grandfathers was, of necessity, more limited than our own due to the fact that much material has been discovered and come to light in the past two or three generations through archaeology and other historical sciences.
Regarding religion, and most particularly the religions that hold sway over our world such as Christianity born of Judaism, we simply cannot overstress the importance of deep and serious study. We cannot ignore the question of whether or not Christianity and Judaism and Islam are “true,” and if they are NOT, then why have they spread and persisted? And if they are not true, we need to evaluate a proper response to them.
The transition of our world from Pagan to Christian is an interval known as the Dark Ages. We are heirs to the conclusions that were drawn during that period and they have ruled our world in one way or another ever since. I find that to be extraordinarily curious AND frightening.
While Christianity was spreading, many of the pagan gods were already a thousand years old. In the mid-third century, to “pay cultic devotion” to the pagan gods was still practiced, and it was a practice that was predicated on being “under the protection” of that particular god. If one god didn’t come through on his or her promises, there were many others to choose from. Apparently good fortune in those days was pretty much as it is nowadays, it was six of one or half dozen of the other. The Terror of History came to all, and everyone was – then as now – looking for control over the forces of life.
Christianity – as it was formulated during this period – provided a new explanation of misfortune and a new hope for benefits to those who suffered their misfortunes in a “Christian way.” Job became the model of Christian Life and “He who endures to the end is saved.” But what is also curious to me is the fact that Judaism, as we know it now, was also “developed” during this same period. And then, of course, Islam leaped on the stage of history around the same time. So what we are looking at is the fact that the three main monotheistic religions more or less came into being during this “dark age,” even if one of them claims an antiquity that stretches back thousands of years, and the other claims to have received the baton of authority from the other by virtue of default of the covenant.
What we should ask, at this point, is what did these three Monotheistic religions replace? Is it true that the whole world was crying out for salvation and God, in his infinite mercy, gave his son in answer to this prayer? Were the Pagan times really times of moral and ethical degeneracy?
In Pagan times, it seems that many wealthy individuals gave “alms” and rescued the poor on a regular basis. They wanted a nice epitaph that told how many people they had saved, how much food they had provided, how many games they had sponsored and so on. It was for the sake of “remembrance” and bringing honor to their family name and the particular deity to whom they “paid cult” that they gave and engaged in public works. To belong to the class of the wealthy and elite, to be appointed to a civic office, entailed a certain burden of responsibility. Nobody really thought that they would gain anything concrete by such acts – was for the sake of an abstract concept: honor. Today, we might see these motives as “selfish” or “self-centered,” but the end result was that cities were built and maintained, libraries and colleges were established and funded, culture developed and flourished, and what we call the “golden age of Greece and Rome” drew its lifeblood from such patronage.
With the arrival of Christianity, there was a truly bizarre change in views – a new reason for giving alms: gaining salvation for the self as a compensation for pain and suffering on earth. Giving was no longer a glorious act expressing abundance, it was an act of penance. What is even more bizarre is that the system changed from one where pagan officials were required to give materially and otherwise in order to achieve fame and remembrance to a system where Christians, came to power with a facade of poverty which then justified them taking alms from those at the bottom of the hierarchy!
In the beginning, Christianity was the persecuted faith of a minority. Somehow, in the course of a generation – in the mid-300′s – Christianity went from persecution to promotion and patronage throughout the Mediterranean. When Constantine prepared to go to battle against the Persians, he did not put his faith in Athena, but rather engaged a group of Christian priests and assigned them to his army – the first “military chaplains” in history – and set out to destroy his enemy. Eusebius wrote about Constantine’s “religious devotion”:
After he had prayed earnestly to God, he always received some revelation of God’s presence and then, as if divindly inspired, he would leap up from his tent. At once he would set his troops in motion and exhort them not to delay but at that very hour to take up their swords. In a pack, they would fall on the foe and hack them down, beginning with their young men… [Ecclesiastical History]
It is often pointed out by Christian apologists that, just because the early believers in Christ were rather questionable in their motives and methods, it ought not to detract from Christianity as a whole. However, it is the very issue of “faith” that is induced by dogma of a “hierarchy” that was at the root of these “errors” and if we evaluate the “fruit of faith” we find that the “line of force” that runs through the concept bears very bitter fruit indeed.
What is it that a “charismatic leader” utilizes to induce his followers to engage in such violence against other human beings?
This “faith” can be induced by manipulations and promises of heavenly or other rewards, this “rightness” of one’s views, of one’s god, and what the god is supposedly “revealing” to the leader, and this can then be used to manipulate other people to do one’s bidding.
And so it seems that the requirement of “faith” and “worship” of an object of cultic value such as Jehovah, Yahweh, Jesus or Allah is the means by which human beings can be induced to commit atrocities upon other human beings.
We see that the image of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his own son, is not so compelling a picture after all. It merely symbolizes a sort of mindless belief in the orders of someone or something “out there” that certainly may not have the best interests of humanity at heart.
We can perceive, in the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, the Right Man terror of Cain who killed his brother because his sacrifice was not accepted. A god who picks and chooses what sacrifice is “good enough” – setting brother against brother – is certainly a “jealous god,” and such a god is a psychopath.
Getting back to Constantine. The conversion of the Emperor to Christianity certainly couldn’t change the beliefs and practices of most of his subjects. But he could – and did – choose to grant favors and privileges to those whose faith he had accepted. He built churches for them, exempted the priesthood from civic duties and taxes, gave the bishops secular power over judicial affairs, and made them judges against whom there was no appeal.
Sounds like a Fascist regime, eh?
Early Christianity had very distinct and novel ideas that were grafted onto Judaism. Christianity retained and passed on in a virulent way, certain ideals of Judaism which have produced the foundation upon which our present culture is predicated.
The main template of Christianity – received directly from Judaism – is that of SIN.
The history of SIN from that point to now, is a story of its triumph.
Awareness of the nature of SIN led to a growth industry in agencies and techniques for dealing with it. These agencies became centers of economic and military power, as they are today.
Christianity – promoting the ideals of Judaism under a thin veneer of the “New Covenant” – changed the ways in which men and women interacted with one another. It changed the attitude to life’s one certainty: death. It changed the degree of freedom with which people could acceptably choose what to think and believe.
Pagans had been intolerant of the Jews and Christians whose religions tolerated no gods but their own. The rising domination of Christianity created a much sharper conflict between religions, and religious intolerance became the norm, not the exception.
Christianity also brought the open coercion of religious belief. You could even say that, by the modern definition of a cult as a group that uses manipulation and mind control to induce worship, Christianity is the Mother of all Cults – in service to the mysogynistic, fascist ideals of Judaism!
The rising Christian hierarchy of the Dark Ages was quick to mobilize military forces against believers in other gods and most especially, against other Christians who promoted less Fascist systems of belief. This probably included the original Christians and the original teachings.
The change of the Western world from Pagan to Christian effectively changed how people viewed themselves and their interactions with their reality. And we live today with the fruits of those changes: War Without End.