Archive for December 14th, 2009

Wordism, Communism and Calvinism

Jesus said that salvation was “free and without price.” If he had said that in Spain five hundred years later he would have been ripped off of his nice comfy cross and stopped in to fire.

I was listening to a homily from a priest who was describing Jesus’ talk to the rich young man. He said, “The reason the young man was Lost was …” This was a new one to me. Lost? He asked Jesus what he must do to be saved. Jesus asked if he followed the Commandments, and he said he did. Jesus then said, “IF YOU WOULD BY PERFECT, sell all you have and give it to the poor and follow me.”

Christians would be in deep trouble if one had to be PERFECT to avoid being Lost, Damned. But this is understandable if you understandable if you understand institutions. Institutions talk a lot about money and power, because they ARE money and power. No matter what book an institution is based on, they think in money and power terms.

All institutions want sacrifice to be uppermost in their adherents’’ minds. The homily was just another example of how a person who has devoted his life to an institution is going to find the money side the most important.

ALL institutions. A Japanese Buddhist priest charges a fee for his service to be dedicated to a particular person, just as a Catholic Church does for a Mass. Both do it free in some cases, but they regard it as charity.

It would be a little hard to track the behavior of a Buddhist priest in Osaka to that of a Catholic priest in Dublin by their common roots. But both are institutional people. This is called parallel evolution. Saber toothed tigers evolved separately all over the world. They had the same survival challenge and developed the same way. Institutions in different places are so much alike we don’t even notice it.

The young Stalin was a bank robber. But he gave what he robbed to the Communist Party. Some young Communists would marry heiresses specifically to obtain money to support the Party. Like monks, they swore they were against wealth but they spent much or most of their time getting it for the Party, just as monasteries kept starting poor and getting rich from wealthy people’s wills.

One writer referred to Communists as “secular Calvinists.” Calvinist churches became rich by telling their members that salvation was purely a matter of being Chosen before birth. But their members had to show they were part of the Elect of God, and a person who was Elect gave money to his church.

Communists and Calvinist doctrines are alike in that both say that the Triumph of their Truth is inevitable. Oddly enough, Calvinists discovered that this brought in the cash. Communist or Calvinists, being On the Side of a Truth that is Inevitable has the opposite effect one would logically think it would.

You would think that if one were a Communist he would take it easy. Truth will out anyway, so why bother? But that is exactly what people said about Calvinists. But Calvinists churches sprang up like mushrooms, and they got money that often put the Roman Church to shame.

If something owns Inevitability it is the Only True Faith. And people will support the physical institution, the wealth and power, of an institution that promises no reward except Being On the Winning Side, and it does not matter if your side wins long after you are dead.