Notes on Christianity
Organised religion supplants (true personal) conscience. With theological metaphysics & structure, ritual, obscure mysteries, moral guidelines and rigorous dictates of faith & exclusion.
The question of Christianity's veracity (ie the True Faith) is nowhere near as interesting or relevant as Why this religion has worked so well for so long. Is it because the formula and tenets of Christianity lend themselves so well to politics? From the first Christian emperors to the popes and the Jesuits and the sectarian parties of today? Or because of its dogma, so flexibly interpreted across Christian sects, churches and sub-denominations? Or because monotheism makes for great religions of war & conquest? For its relative ability to meld power with changing times? And where is the individual in all this? — weak, a sheep, in need of (shep)herding.
I still cannot shake the idea the Christianity as a moral belief system defined itself as the religion of the weak & disenfranchised, that its true access to spirituality in the monologues of (The) Christ have been usurped & petrified by the inherited Church. That Christianity is now more dogma than spirituality. Christianity is fundamentally a prescriptive religion, and all such systems when married to power aspire to social control, forming and fear — under the illusion of shepherding souls. Power exercised through threat of transgression: excommunication, blasphemy, heresy etc; a dogmatic religion whose conformism is openly called Orthodoxy.
I think the politicising of (evangelist) religion in America is the pinnacle of something important. Religion crossing back into the State again. The reduction of personal rights and freedoms according to Christian doctrines as a guide for policy; the teaching of intelligent design (will intelligent design evolve into intelligent conscience?), the regression of a nation for cynical politico-religious ends; and of course a rigorous differentiation of class and discrimination all over again (which in America's case is not the triumph of a new Christianity, but of Republican wealth).
I think the Great Rapture, the index of the End of All that evangelists so fear and desire is nothing more than the last great rattle of Christianity itself, the final twitch of fervent mass-activity. The point where evangelical America realises that We the People are responsible for Bush, that we are responsible for the world around us, ourselves alone, not some failed corruption of an administration that exploits its base supporters and feeds them idiotic myths of being spoken to by God or lead by the Gospels as it destroys the planet. The Rapture then as the last death-rattle of the Christian religion as an exploitable religious tool, bludgeoning the (self)righteous with fear and paranoia and ultimate unresponsibility. After which Christianity may become a personal religion once more, not a politically-minded force on TV playing to conservative instincts, so easily dousing its political ends. It may become a motivator of conscience again. Surely Christianity is not the religion of cronyism; and what would God think about Scooter, DeLay et al?
Funny that, Television is also a corrosive to conscience.
Conformism at its most wilful: when faced with the ineffable. Now that science has diffused the potency of the ineffable, the role of religion has become purely personal. Yet that is how Christianity began: as an ordering of the unexplainable, of the cruel, uneven indifference of events unfolding; an excusing consolation for the continuity of suffering; an offer of salvation and eternal reward. The cruelty of an impossible reward as cover for the harsh necessity of oblivion.
The history of Christianity's power is the history of the Church. Its modern decline is not due to social irrelevance or officious rigidity so much as its no longer being directly indexed to the sources and means of power (hence the Rapture Index, as the delayed expression of hunger for such direct sway again, that last scrap of interpretative power). The decline of Christianity began with the manifold separations of Church and State, but that doesn't mean Christianity hasn't looked to new means like television and personality politics to get its message and system across, or other means to profitability.
One of my problems with Christianity is that when you accept the tenets on faith, and align your idea of Faith with Christian doctrine, then you (should) also accept the evil things done in the name of Christianity over the last two millennia: the slaughters, witch hunts, inquisitions and crusades, the unchristian killings done In the Name Of. And that these are never considered necessary imperfections or acknowledged barbs in its history, necessary to the form & texture and continued growth of the faith. Or that adherence to its dogma implies some degrees of fundamentalism: in conscience, self-righteousness and perceived superiority, in letting certain facts of reality and existence go, in wilfully saying No and drawing strict boundaries of what can be accepted.
Christianity ceased to be relevant when it no longer inspired great parallel movements in art. Or even generate notable scholarship.