Lent Three – Our modern clergy, secular and religious

In John 2, in Lent Three, Jesus drives the traders out of the temple. In other readings this Lent and throughout the Gospel of Mark in Year B of the Lectionary, the Lord drives demons and alien spirits out of Israel. Access to Christ is free, not for sale. The whole creation is God’s free gift to all; no one should reduce access or charge for access to it. The Lord cuts down all the middle men who have inveigled themselves in and make a living charging the people of Israel for what the Lord makes available of them for free.
How is our own national temple? How is the mechanism of our nation’s economy? How successful is it at allowing formal economic participation and giving hope of prosperity to those at the bottom? How much economic freedom and consequent social mobility does it allow? Who are our intermediaries, and what sort of job are they doing?
First, we need to say something about clergy.
Clergy were those who could read, and were appointed so that the rest of us, who had no bible or could not read, could hear what was written. They would read it, we would learn it, and attempt to learn it off by heart. We preserve our memory of scripture by singing or chanting passages of it. Of these priests not all reserved themselves for the liturgy. Some taught and became teachers and did so in schools and universities. Some dedicated themselves to the care of the sick and so to medicine and became doctors and scientists. Some studied church law, and worked its principles out into secular law and political jurisdiction. They became lawyers who worked in courts of justice and as they oversaw the preservation and transfer of property, they moved into in commerce as contract lawyers. All the members of these professions were once referred to as clergy, the class of the literate, made powerful by the records they studied and added to. All these are our modern secular clergy. We call them public servants or civil servants or accountants, analysists, administrators, managers, financiers and IT people. As they identify new areas of responsibility these professions create sub-divisions, proliferating a thousand career paths. They are all agents and intermediaries. Our forebears used the word ‘priest’ for all such intermediaries. These professionals are the priestly hierarchies of our age. They divide and re-divide resources so that they may be shared as widely as possible. As they offer us this service, each takes their own share just before they pass us our share. They offer us a service, but sometimes the cost is more than the total economy can support. Then when a population has suffered many years of immiseration as a result of these professions and a bloated public sector, it undergoes a spasm in which many of them are thrown off, and the burden on the lowest classes is temporarily lightened enough for them to recover confidence and enter the formal economy again.
The Public Sector and Professions are the clergy of our age, and church clergy are just a small sub group indistinguishable from the rest of the public sector. What is always needed, now as then, is a Reformation, in which all the self-appointed agents, intermediaries and their hierarchies are warned, have the opportunity to make redress, or if not, are cut out from the body of the Church and nation

Slave Club

What is the purpose of Slave Club? The purpose of Slave Club is to prevent anyone escaping Slave Club. The power of Slave Club is the fervour of its slaves. It is every slave’s job to keep everyone else enslaved. Slave loyalty means that no one can be allowed to leave. They all live in fear that someone will escape. If anyone does, it will show that escape is possible, and the power of Slave Club will be broken. But they don’t believe that there is any life for them outside Slave Club. They make their threats in public and in daylight. Six times daily they get into line and murmur ‘Death to those not in the line’. Each demands this demonstration of loyalty from his neighbours just so he can feel sure of the power of Slave Club. If anyone escapes the rest will not know what to do. They fear that they will not even know who they are. If anyone ever did escape Slave Club it would prove the truth that the club is not compulsory. It would show that there is life outside the club. The fear sends them wild. What motivates Slave Club? Fear! What fear is this? Fear of Freedom!
If you are outside Slave Club, you are free. If you are free you are an offence and an enemy of Slave Club. You are proof of the falsity of Slave Club. You are an existential threat to those who impose Slave Club on each other. You show that the power of compulsion that they believe that they are under, is false. Your freedom shows that Slave Club is fear without reason. That’s why you are the one they hate. Obey and conform, they bellow. Your independence of mind must be such a burden to you, they say. Lay it down. Only do as we do, and all will be good. How they hate it when their fear doesn’t work on you. You show that they don’t have to do or to be what Slave Club says. You show that Slave Club is nothing beyond a state of mind, the product of the weak. Your laughter alone can save them

Spencer and Derbyshire on the Religion of Peace

Christianity or Islam: which is the real “religion of peace”?…. Is Christianity’s history really as bloodstained as Islam’s? In Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer not only refutes such charges, but also explains why Americans and Europeans must regain an appreciation of our Christian heritage if we ever hope to defeat Islamic supremacism. In this eye opening work, Spencer reveals:

* The fundamental differences between Islamic and Christian teachings about warfare against other religions: “Love your enemies” vs. “Be ruthless to the unbelievers”
* The myth of Western immorality and Islamic puritanism and why the Islamic world is less moral than the West
* Why the Islamic world has never developed the distinction between religious and secular law that is inherent in Christianity
* Why Christianity has always embraced reason–and Islam has always rejected it
* Why the most determined enemies of Western civilization may not be the jihadists at all, but the leftists who fear their churchgoing neighbors more than Islamic terrorists
* Why Jews, Christians, and peoples of other faiths (or no faith) are equally at risk from militant Islam

Spencer writes not to proselytize, but to state a fact: Christianity is a true “religion of peace,” and on it Western civilization stands. If we are not to perish under Islam’s religion of the sword – with its more than 100 million active jihadists seeking to impose sharia law–we had better defend our own civilization.
Religion of Peace: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isnt

John Derbyshire reviews Spencer’s book

If what he has told us is true — and so far as the present state if Islam is concerned, I think it is — then the West should proscribe Islam, and the sooner the better. We should not allow Muslims into our countries, other than for necessary diplomatic or scholarly purposes. We should revoke the visas and permits of resident aliens who are Muslims, and ensure their departure. We should offer to purchase the citizenship of Muslim citizens, and bribe them to leave. Those who will not leave should be carefully watched by the police, and subjected to social disabilities — they should not, for example, be admitted to the armed forces, or allowed to proselytize in prisons. (Take a religion addled with violence and infused with a hatred of our society, and teach it in prisons to the most violent and antisocial of our people? Have we gone stark raving mad? ) Mosques and madrassahs should be closed, or at the least punitively taxed.