Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Three views ...

... of John Gray's Black Mass. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

  1. Bryan Appleyard's - John Gray's apocalypse.
  2. John Banville's - Rocky Road to utopia.
  3. A.C. Grayling's - Through the looking glass.
I am actually closer to Grayling's views than to Bryan's or John's. Bryan, I know, has said that apocalyptism is simply realism. And that is so in the sense that empires always fall and disasters inevitably occur. Only I don't regard any of that as truly apocalyptic, or at least not apocalyptic in the strict sense. The only apocalypse I place any faith in is the one that will accompany the parousia.
I think Grayling is right when he criticizes Gray for a too broad application of the term religion. but I think Grayling is wrong when he fails to see that it is not religion itself that causes the evils he deplores. It is is when religion is joined with political power. This usually happens because the state finds religion useful as a social adhesive. Moreover, the connection between political power and religious belief seems to have been operative in human affairs from the beginning. Jesus appears to have first formulated a doctrine of separation of the church from the state when he declared, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Which his professed followers probably honored until they had the chance to share in Caesar's power. Lord Acton remains correct: "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Here is some further comment, also courtesy of Dave: Are we making progress?

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