Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Paul Veyne.

Religions being re-defined: Modern trends

In November 2009, I published an essay “Modern Europe re-defines Christianity“.

From the few extensive comments that I received, I decided it is an opportunity to re-edit the essay and include a few other “monotheist” religions or what I call “mono-idolatry” as the trend is in redefining the ancient religious ideology.

A few years ago, the European Parliament was considering attaching a clause in the Constitution that Christianity is the foundation of Europe’s civilization. It didn’t pass.  Europe saved its modern identity as promoter of human rights and human dignity.

How could a religion (one of the many in Europe), one of the various attributes in the vast matrix of a civilization, be the exclusive characteristics of Europe?  Europe is a heterogeneous society of Nordic, Slavic, and Mediterranean climate and cultures and was dominated intermittently by several Empires.

Modern Europe has extended to its citizens a network of basic human rights.  This respect to human dignity was not the case until late in the 20th century:  Respect of man did not evolve historically as a continuum, but in bounds. Retrospective historical studies tend to discover just the illusion of human respect for rights and dignity.

Europeans claiming Christianity to be the foundation for Europe’s new trend for “mercy, forgiveness, and kindness” (trying to attach these attribute to Europeans) forget that for 10 centuries the strongest faith in Europe was based on violence.

For example, the Inquisition that started in Spain and spread to most Europe, the chasing out of the Moslems and Jews from Spain, the Crusading campaigns, the conquest of overseas lands with the benediction of Papal Rome, the division of the conquered lands among the European monarchs by Papal decrees, the religious mass massacres among the Christian sects and factions with Papal consent, the so many wars in Europe where the Catholic Church was an integral party.

And the worst of all, the Dark Age in Europe that lasted from 400 to the 15th century because the central religious power in Rome was apprehensive of rational thinking and forbade the influx of scientific works that might rob it of its temporal power.

There are Europeans claiming that it was Christianity that set the foundation of the individualistic character in Europe, a non-conformist attitude to the collective norms, rituals, and traditions, the will for self-realization rather than clinging to the behavior of rank and file; these chauvinistic Europeans are also relying on entrenched illusions.

The Christian Church was the personification of harassing free thinkers and burning who defied the Christian central dogma for many centuries. Once baptized as a Christian at birth, you had no other alternatives but to obey the Christian laws.  Christianity was the most exclusive religion among all religions:  It coerced colonized people by force into Christianity.

As “Saint” Augustine wrote “It does not matter the faith of a new convert; what counts is what time and rituals will produce in the long run on him and his descendants.

This is exactly the tactics of western globalization that state: “Promote the consumerism of technological gadgets and the world will acquire faith in the superiority of western civilization

It is paganism that disseminated liberal thinking of individuality.

A pagan could worship any other idol in foreign lands (with different name but with the same potency in his mind, like the god of rain…) and he was never persecuted.

A pagan could switch idols that suited his interest of the period, and his community would not persecute him or ex-communicate him on his God’s preferences.

The modern principle of universality (which means that individuals of all genders, races, colors, and origins have the same mental potentials and capabilities as human and that the differences reside in societies) was never a Christian dogma.

Christianity never had this meaning of universality in its dictionary of laws; a slave was a slave by birth and should accept his condition and offers his miseries and plights as sacrifices to God Jesus who suffered for the entire humanity and forgiveness of the “original sin” that never existed.

The discovery by the Europeans of the universality of mankind was due to the de-colonization process, an implicit discourse on the role of society during the 20th century.

How could equality and fraternity have emerged from Christianity in order to claim that Europe’s roots are Christian?

For example, Lactance wrote in 314:

People are born equal. In societies where people are not considered equal justice is not served.  Yes, within the Christian communities there are rich and poor, masters and slaves by the flesh but they are equal in the spirit.”  What a sweet nonsense!  It is plainly a repeat of St. Paul’s ejaculation that added oil to the machinery of the caste system.

The same meaning was offered by Prophet Muhammad: “We are equal in our religious faith…”

For example, the so-called Gregory “the Great” considered charity what was offered to nobles who were reduced to poverty. Why?

Because of the huge suffering the reduced noblemen felt of being considered within the rank of the poor classes.  Thus, the true poor people by birth were so used to their way of life that they didn’t need much charity to survive.

The Western Christian Churches (Catholic and Protestants) supported and maintained the caste system of nobility and the “others” non-noble classes.  The feudal lord had the right to crush his vassals with all the might he possessed as a father had the rights over his kids.

There are many Europeans who claim that it was Christianity that promoted the separation of the spiritual from the temporal power on the basis of Jesus saying “Give to Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God was is due to God”.   This claim is total nonsense.

Most of the wars in Europe were launched by monarchs against the temporal influence of Papal Rome in state matters.  Neither the Catholic Church nor the various Protestant sects relinquished their temporal “rights”.

It does not mean that the previous sentence of Jesus had no influence in the mind of modern Europe; it does not mean also that Christianity willingly relinquished its temporal influence based on that sentence.

Protestantism had this indirect advantage that it weakened the central power of Papal Rome. Consequently, Islam scientific manuscripts were permitted to enter Europe. This new openness to rational discovery was the main catalyst for the Renaissance period and the qualitative jump into modernity.  

The Prophet Mohammad also urged Moslems to acquire knowledge even from China; it worked for 4 centuries; it does not mean that Moslems remembered that encouragement most of the time.

Current Islamic Wahhabi extremist sects have high-jacked the fundamentally rational thinking of early Islam:  Current Islamic salafists are emulating the way the Mogul and central Asia new Moslem converts in the 11th century understood the Coran: Literally, like those Jehovah witness followers… Actually, their traditional and custom belief system is based on the Hadith (what people remembered of the Prophet’s sayings and behaviors…)

The Arab spring uprising is fundamentally directed at the obscurantist Wahhabi (Saudi Arabia monarchy) sect that infused billion in the last 3 decades to redirect Moslem belief according to their own brand of Islam.

There are Europeans, when pressed to give an identity (other than their State), opt for their religious denomination (with utmost reluctance in Europe) and thus, when a European says that he is Christian it is sort of a family name, the latest in heritage, as cathedrals, old churches, and the paintings, sculptures, and music of the Renaissance period.

Christianity cannot be used as identification because it won’t do: most of the US citizens also claim to be Christians, as is the case with Latin Americans.  Does this means that they could also be considered Europeans or of European civilization roots or their civilization emanate from Greece, as Europe would like us to agree on that nonsense?

Modern Europe is democratic, secular, with laws guaranteeing free religious beliefs, free speech, gathering, and opinions, human rights, sexual liberty, welfare states, open borders and travel.  Modern Europe is anathema to the principles and practices of Christian Churches.  Christianity must be glad that the modern European civilization is giving it not just a mere face lift, but a totally different identity.

I received these comments to my essay: “It is a very interesting argument.  I find that much of what is said in the argument cannot be refuted.  I speak as a Christian. However, much of the religious wars fought in Europe were not “religious” in nature at all.”

“Believe it or not, the wars that were launched by bishops and the clergy of the different belligerent forces in Europe were seeking to preserve their tax base.  If the church loses adherents to the faith, that church also lost taxing power.  Therefore, any opposition power that threatened the tax base of the church had to be answered with war.  These wars were over money and power…

“Additionally, I believe in the separation of church and state.  The state has no business in collecting a tax to support a “state sponsored church” or to determine how the governed should worship their creator.  In fact, the clergy has absolutely no business in collecting taxes from the governed people…”

I contend that liberal capitalism is not just a recent concept or phenomena: The base root of liberal capitalism is the creation of monolithic religions, faith in the power of an absolute monarch to be emanating from a most powerful God…that divided mankind into the deserving 10% richest classes and the slave classes to serve the noble classes…

Note 1: This topic was inspired by the last chapter in the French book “When the world became Christian” by late Paul Veyne.

Note 2:  Barely 10 years ago, Europe was the scene of large genocide; not just between “Christians and Moslems” but among Christians of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox on the basis of “ethnic cleansing” in former Yugoslavia.

Modern Europe re-defines Christianity; (Nov. 5, 2009)

A few years ago, the European Parliament was considering attaching a clause in the Constitution that Christianity is the foundation of Europe’s civilization. It didn’t pass and Europe saved its modern identity as promoter of human rights and human dignity. How could a religion (one of the many in Europe), one of the various attributes in the vast matrix of a civilization be the exclusive characteristics of Europe?  Europe is a heterogeneous society of Nordic, Slavic, and Mediterranean climate and cultures and was dominated intermittently by several Empires.

Modern Europe has extended to its citizens a minimum of human rights.  This respect to human dignity was not the case until late in the 20th century.  Respect of man did not evolve historically as a continuum but in bounds. Retrospective historical studies tend to discover just the illusion of human respect for rights and dignity.

Europeans claiming Christianity to be the foundation for Europe’s new trend for “mercy, forgiveness, and kindness” (trying to attach these attribute to Europeans) forget that for many centuries the strongest faith in Europe was the taste for violence such as in the Inquisition, the chasing out of the Moslems and Jews from Spain, the Crusading campaigns, the conquest of overseas lands with the benediction of Papal Rome, the division of the conquered lands among the European monarchs by Papal decrees, the religious mass massacres among the Christian sects and factions with Papal consent, the so many wars in Europe where the Catholic Church was an integral party, and the worst of all the Dark Age in Europe that lasted from 400 to the 15th century because the central religious power in Rome was apprehensive of rational thinking and forbade the influx of scientific works that might rob it of its temporal power.

There are Europeans claiming that it was Christianity that set the foundation of the individualistic character in Europe, a non-conformist attitude to the collective norms, rituals, and traditions, the will for self-realization rather than clinging to the behavior of rank and file; these chauvinistic Europeans are also relying on entrenched illusions.  The Christian Church was the personification of harassing free thinkers and burning who defied the Christian central dogma for many centuries. Once baptized as a Christian at birth, you had no other alternatives but to obey the Christian laws.  Christianity was the most exclusive religion among all religions:  It coerced colonized people by force into Christianity.  As “Saint” Augustine wrote “It does not matter the faith of a new convert; what counts is what time and rituals will produce in the long run on him and his descendents.”  This is exactly the tactics of western globalization “Promote the consumerism of technological gadgets and the world will acquire faith in the superiority of western civilization”

It is paganism that disseminated liberal thinking of individuality.  A pagan could worship any other idol in foreign lands (with different name but with the same potency in his mind) and he was never persecuted. A pagan could switch idols that suited his interest of the period and his community would not persecute him or ex-communicate him on his God’s preferences.

The modern principle of universality (which means that individuals of all genders, races, colors, and origins have the same mental potentials and capabilities as human and that the differences reside in societies) was never a Christian dogma. Christianity never had this meaning of universality in its dictionary of laws; a slave was a slave by birth and should accept his condition and offers his miseries and plights as sacrifices to God Jesus who suffered for the entire humanity and forgiveness of the “original sin” that never existed. The discovery by the Europeans of the universality of mankind was due to the de-colonization process, an implicit discourse on the role of society during the 20th century.

How could equality and fraternity have emerged from Christianity in order to claim that Europe’s roots are Christian? Lactance in 314 wrote “People are born equal. In societies where people are not considered equal then justice is not served.  Yes, within the Christian communities there are rich and poor, masters and slaves by the flesh but they are equal in the spirit.”  How sweet! Lactance was repeating St. Paul’s ejaculation that added oil to the machinery of the caste system. Gregory “the Great” considered charity what was offered to nobles reduced to poverty because of the huge suffering they felt of being considered within the rank of the poor classes; thus, the true poor people by birth were so used to their way of life that they didn’t need much charity to survive.

The Western Christian Churches (Catholic and Protestants) supported and maintained the caste system of nobility and the “others” non-noble classes.  The feudal lord had the right to crush his vassals with all the might he possessed as a father had the rights over his kids.

There are many Europeans who claim that it was Christianity that promoted the separation of the spiritual off the temporal power on the basis of Jesus saying “Give to Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God was is due to God”;  this is total nonsense.  Most of the wars in Europe were launched by monarchs against the temporal influence of Papal Rome in state matters.  Neither the Catholic Church not the various Protestant sects relinquished their temporal “rights”.

Protestantism had this indirect advantage that it weakened the central power of Papal Rome; thus, Islam scientific manuscripts were permitted to enter Europe; this new openness to rational discovery was the main catalyst for the Renaissance period and the qualitative jump into modernity.  It does not mean that the previous sentence of Jesus had no influence in the mind of modern Europe; it does not mean also that Christianity willingly relinquished its temporal influence based on that sentence.  The Prophet Mohammad also urged Moslems to acquire knowledge even from China; it worked for four centuries; it does not mean that Moslems remembered that encouragement most of the time.

There are Europeans, when pressed to give an identity (other than their State), they might opt for their religious denomination (with utmost reluctance in Europe) and thus, when a European says that he is Christian it is sort of family name, the latest in heritage, as cathedrals, old churches, and the paintings, sculptures, and music of the Renaissance period. Christianity cannot be used as identification because it won’t do: most of the US citizens also claim to be Christians, as is the case with Latin Americans; does this means that they could also be considered Europeans or European civilization roots?

Modern Europe is democratic, secular, with laws guaranteeing free religious beliefs, free speech, gathering, and opinions, human rights, sexual liberty, welfare states, open borders and travel.  Modern Europe is anathema to the principles and practices of Christian Churches.  Christianity must be glad that the modern European civilization is giving it not just a mere face lift but a totally different identity.

Note 1: This topic was inspired by the last chapter in the French book “When the world became Christian” by late Paul Veyne.

Note 2:  Ten years a go, Europe was the scene of large genocide; not just between “Christians and Moslems” but among Christians of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox on the basis of “ethnic cleansing” in former Yugoslavia.

Re-defining histories (December 23, 2008)

I read the French magazine (Des Science Humaines) “In Human Sciences #13” which contained the following excerpts of current books related to history. I have this impression that it is not the content of an essay that is usually analyzed; it is mainly the connotation of the title of the essay that gives us leverage to assume what we want to confirm.

If you had not read the following books then, what could be the main underlying objective of the titles in this new wave for re-thinking history?

 “History does not teach us anything” by Paul Veyne

“Memory of wars versus war of memories” by Benjamin Stora

“The great history of Capitalism” by Eric Hobsbawm

“The conquering West” by Jerome Baschet

“Feudality of the rice fields” by Pierre Souyri

“How Nazism triumphed” by Ian Kershaw

“How to analyze Fascism” by Robert Paxton

“Passions as motor of history” by Marc Ferro

“Silence, we are killing” by Stephane Rouzeau

“A walk in medieval symbolism” by Michel Pastoureau

“Why civilizations die?” by Jared Diamond

 I will attempt a quick summary of a few of these books on history interpretations. It is important to know the symbolism in previous civilizations.

For example, the colors Black, Red, and Gold were the best colors appreciated in antiquity and the bear was the king of the animal world.

In Medieval Europe, the color blue became the dominant color of prestige. When the coat was painted blue then it was classy; yellow and rusty connoted treachery and evil.  When a figure is shown in pictures wearing yellow or shown as a redheaded person or with red beard then, the character represented a bad individual.

The Medieval Christian Church in Europe demoted the bear to the lowest level because this noble animal so cunningly resembled humans.

It is good to know that painters used lamps and candles instead of the well-lighted environment of today so that their strategy for wide pieces was to permit focused attention on a restricted part. Modern alterations for rejuvenating masterpieces are not taking into account the ancient lighting environment or the techniques of the famous painters.

Medieval Europe did not end at the start of the Renaissance period,  but extended its tradition and concepts way till the French Revolution.  For example, the feudal lords did not meddle with the peasants’ jobs in the fields but maintained justice in their domains.

Production doubled as was the case with population, and this combined social and economic re-organization led to expansionist policies due to increased production.

First, increased production paved the way into the successive Crusade campaigns, then the “Reconquista” of Spain from the Moors in Andalusia.

The invasions of India, Brazil, and the Americas with the supervision, planning, and total consent of the Roman Catholic Church opened huge markets.

The conquistadors’ goals were to acquiring fiefdoms in overseas lands as was practiced in their homelands.  When the notion of central State planning was initiated then, the European nations built on the medieval social and political structure until the industrialization era.

Capitalism was on the verge of collapsing several times but was saved in extremism when communism came to power in Russia in 1917 and the second time with the collaboration of the former Soviet Union during WWII against Nazi Germany.

Fascism and Nazism came to power with the help of the conservative political parties and the big industrial businesses.  The majority of the people had no idea that their conservative representatives were about to side with monsters.

These facts are occurring again and again everywhere there is a fascist dictatorial regime. (Conservatism and industrialists are always ready to ally with the devil as long as the movements for human rights and workers rights do not come to power)

Nazism, communism, and Roman Catholic Church have the same structure and the fundamental philosophy based on ecumenism (universal doctrine), symbolism, ex-communications, retaliation when members jump parties, persecuting freedom of expression, and maligning the other believers and ideologies.

Is a unified version of a State history a serious alternative for forcing a national identity?

History is a subjective story for official States’ memory: it relies on a few selective dates, subjective documents, wars and heroes so that States can reconstruct collective and unified memories in order to recuperate a national moral legitimacy after the political and legal recognition by the UN.

We might as well offer a coherent structure for the story and refrain from boasting that we are seeking truth.

Slave trade, colonialism, war of independence, memory of wars, heroism, culture of war, stigmatization of immigrants, reclamation of apologies, and constructing memorial sites, are fundamentally political discussions based on subjective history accounts.

Repentance or public apologies are strategic decisions in the higher up echelons, but resentments in the heart are never closed or experienced closure after centuries.

 Torture has its rules: never to leave traces on the victims’ bodies and thus, executions are done by hanging or immersion in water, rape, and electrocution.

In every revolution, war of independence, expansion campaign, or recent preemptive wars or civil wars the number of victims is never collected accurately. Sort of what if the standard deviation is a hundred thousand in casualties? 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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