torsdag 12 juli 2012

"I am an Objectivist"

Only joking. But why would anyone become an anything-ist when the -ism in question was invented just a few decades ago by an embittered person who had suffered from horrible experiences early in life and never come to terms with them?

Isms invariably have antecedents. Most of the atheist -isms come out of the Enlightenment and a thread can be traced from there back to the re-discovery of ancient Gnostic texts that came to Italy with the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and their subsequent translation into Latin and then into modern languages. Objectivism seems also to have a Calvinist strand, whence comes its particularly repellent individualism. It is not, then, so very new. And why would anyone so close themselves off to further thinking by defining themselves in such a way?

The question raises further ones about -isms in general. When analysed, most of them can be shown to be heresies of orthodox ie Catholic Christianity. Now the defining feature of a heresy is either that it takes one or more component of Catholicism and elevates it above all the others, or that it strongly denies one of those components. Thus all Protestants deny the supremacy of the Pope. Members of the Orthodox churches also question the supremacy of the Pope but that does not make them Protestants, since their formal status is of being schismatic.

Because Anglo-Catholics accept all Catholic doctrines except the supremacy of the Pope, they tended to view the Anglican church as the Catholic church in England - as some kind of English rite Catholic church. Recent events within the Anglican church has brought many Anglo-Catholics to the realisation that if authority is not vested in the Pope, the way is open to all sorts of aberrations such as the defining of doctrine by democratic decision.

Protestants generally take the view that scripture should be interpreted according to individual judgement, whilst, on the way taking scripture and editing it more or less heavily with large chunks being omitted altogether. One way another, hundreds of sects have been spawned in this way: Annabaptists, Mennonites, Seventh Day Adventists, Presbyterians of every hue, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Salvationists, Irvingites, Mormonites, Agapemonites, etc. Even quite respectable sects such as the Quakers have arisen from this movement away from orthodox Christianity.

Before the coming of Protestantism there were other heresies - a spate of them in the first five centuries of Christianity. Arians denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and Arianism eventually gave rise to Islam, which Belloc described as "the great and enduring heresy".

Most sects flare up for a few decades and then fade away, though a few have been more persistent, usually because they have had some wealthy adherents who have fed them with funds.

The ancient Eastern religions are of course not heresies. Whilst orthodox Christians would regard them as being in error in one way or other, and conversely, these are at least well-grounded positions. During the past hundred years, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, for instance, have attracted many followers from the west and have to be regarded as major spiritual paths.

Taking all of this into account, one has to ask, first, why anyone would follow a movement which has not stood the test of time - I mean a millenium or two - and second, why anyone would follow any movement at all without taking a good look at the handful which have demonstrated real staying power over a millennium or two?

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