Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Totally Unsubstantiated Parallels to the Church

First of all, the modern Church could not exist without the New Testament (Or New Covenant as it is properly called).  I am fascinated by the Bible as a human artifact.  First off, the Bible is open source.  Think about it.  There was no top down command structure that caused the Bible to be developed on certain lines.  The “design” was open source.   All kinds of people wrote their stories, their advice, their point of view.  The word Gospel means good news, but it doesn’t just mean that in the sense we mean it today.  It was a common way for a traveler to begin a positive story.   The Gospel according to Mark could be changed into the expression “The Big story, according to Joe”.   Tons of people wrote original work, many more people copied the original work and made minor changes.  A lot of the original work was not that great and many of the changes were pointless.   The really good stuff was kept and the not so great stuff discarded. Eventually a certain writing style, presentation, and language developed.  Sound familiar?  The Bible was the original wiki!  (You might consider the Koran the original Linux. The source document was written by one vision, but the most of the Koran is actually inspired commentary on the source.  The inspired commentary was written by experts of the source document in collective, co-operative, and Darwinian manner.)

Then there is the early Church.  The church began with a handful of true believers, profoundly affected by what they had seen.  Each formed his own following, a small group that respected and obeyed him.  In modern middle eastern cell ideology this called the cell ring: the core cells in the center of the org chart that basically independent but lead with a connection to each other.  The churches under them met in houses, this would be the secondary cells.  Rituals began to develop that encouraged a sense of intimacy and family between people who had not previously been related.  (The siblinghood of all man under God and through Christ encouraged this.)  Then, increasing notoriety and public knowledge resulted in increasing religious cleansing. The movement went underground.  The leaders began to die, and the cell structure split into two separate cultures depending on local tradition and local acceptance. One was leaderless resistance movement, where the cell don’t communicate much, but work independently towards the same basic goals. The other movement became more of a top down cell group structure of a Western rather then middle-eastern tradition.  Sound familiar?  It’s the same with every small group of political or philosophical resistance fighters world over.   It is how terrorists organize their cells, how the special forces organize theirs, how the NVA fought in Vietnam, how the Communist fought in China, and so on.  It is the premiere method of organization for asymmetrical warfare.

Then, when the church became accepted, the western style bureaucratic cell structure prevailed, gradually absorbing the leaderless cells, and setting up a chain of command.  There was the individual, the decons, the elders, and a bishop.  Due to the social welfare provided by the church, a geo-political government formed, with a chain of command and hierarchy.   Everyone paid the church (tithes were not voluntary, making them de facto taxes), but not everyone one in leadership.   The church was divided between clergy and laity.  The low level clergy had some say in political issues, and were appointed from the top down.  Because this was a source of wealth and power, becoming part of the clergy was the route to wealth and power.    Sound familiar?  It’s the communist party in Russia.   Just as junior level party members had some power, and high level ones all the power.  The discongruous enormous personal wealth, power, and luxury of senior level party officials was identical to that of senior level Church officials.

Then the Church grew into a machine that took and took.  The message of all the world under one cross was taken to the farthest corners of the world, and the old states of the Roman empire became the Satellite states of the Church.  The Church provided military aid and advice to accomplish it’s goals.  Improper expressions of the Gospel (ie, ones that didn’t pay tithe to Rome or refused to serve the Church’s armies) were viciously eradicated.  Sound familiar? Soviet history anyone?

During this time the Church maintained itself as the world’s first multinational brand, with immediately recognizable franchises in every city of any importance in Europe, and small branch centers is smaller towns and villages.  (Read the history of McDonalds)

Then, the Reformation.  The massive bureaucracy was unable to respond to the new paradigm of freer, more democratic leadership selling a religious experience for the individual rather than the city or village. (IBM vs Apple, Cars vs. Trains, landlines vs. cell phones)

Everything you need to know about business, about management, about wealth, about power, about technology, about organization, about counter culture, about revolution, about change, is all there in the history of the Church.

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April 19, 2009 - Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Linux, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. This is a very big and definitive claim you’re making.
    Let’s hope the religionists respond and comment on this.

    Comment by pochp | April 19, 2009 | Reply

  2. I don’t know if you’d call me a religionist, but, when it comes to how people function in groups, whether religious or otherwise, we do tend to organize ourselves in the same ways. The pattern described shows the human nature of the church, that it is a human institution, no matter what inspired its beginning. Even as a Christian, I wouldn’t expect to discover anything else. Maybe it’s my background in anthropology that helps me see this as “normal”.

    Comment by Cheryl Toliver | April 24, 2009 | Reply

  3. Well…uh…good to know a trained anthropologist sees the same parallels.

    Comment by truthwalker | April 25, 2009 | Reply


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