Scrutinizing the corporate mottoes variously used by the Western world’s most successful religious franchise, Roman Catholic Christianity
An evolving faith with evolving rhetoric. Roman Catholics, a group that late into the 1960s used to boldly brag that outside their church “there is no salvation”, have in recent decades dialed back their rhetoric to claiming to have within it the “fullness of the truth”. (Whew!) But before examining this fresh shift in boast by the world’s most populace body of Christian believers, I thought we’d briefly explore some of Roman Catholicism’s earlier rhetorical pivots in what they appeal to as the source of their legitimacy.
The “emperor appeal”. Most Roman Catholics I’ve spoken with can’t tell me why the bishopric of Rome (and not say that of Jerusalem) came to be the “Holy See” (in other words “sacred headquarters”) of the Roman Catholic Church—which most of them seem sure is an essential geographical element of their religion. (!) But when asked why this is so, they’re vaguely certain it has something to do with Saint Peter the Apostle, yet by our day most people begrudgingly acknowledge that Saint Peter was never bishop of Rome (maybe because he was too busy being the bishop of Antioch, not to mention having a wife and one presumes children!) if indeed he ever ventured to Rome at all. Despite all of this, some still claim Simon Peter was martyred in Rome, yet that in no way makes the bishops of Rome his successors, since they would have scarcely met him, nor were there cardinals until at least 845 AD! It is at this point in the conversation that I drop the real bombshell. At the time when the Apostles were “sent out” (which is the definition of apostle), there was no central authority over them other than the Holy Spirit, which Jesus sent upon them on the day of Pentecost to underscore the superiority of the Law of the Spirit and Empathy to the Law of the Flesh and Dread that Moses transmitted to Israel. (Nowhere does Jesus suggest that the Twelve should heed Peter; moreover, he is in the habit of correcting Peter in front of them!) The first recognized head of Christianity was the Roman Emperor Constantine and his successors, who moved his seat of power from Old Rome to Constantinople, now Istanbul, leaving behind him the (pagan) curia and other bureaucratic bodies that would in time whomp up a self-reinvention as the Western Catholic Magisterium or teaching body. As a part of this mad scramble to regain lost prestige, the Vatican family forged the Donation of Constantine, a fraudulent letter that uses Constantine’s name to bestow on the Pope of Rome temporal power to make (and break) tetrarchs/kings in the Western Mediterranean/Europe. The Donation of Constantine, and no association with Blessed Peter, was the original and medieval rationale for the Pope of Rome’s claim to be something slightly more than mere Patriarch of the West (as he is known in the East, though the last pope, Benedict XVI, shockingly renounced this title before abdicating the papacy altogether, the first of many symptoms the Vatican has been showing of being an unstable institution of late). It is interesting to note here that, in the Hebrew Scriptures, YHWH the god of Israel (which, funnily enough, is centrally located among the civilizations of its time) never wishes for Israel to have a king, yet it is the Davidic dynasty that gives birth to both organized schools of prophecy and with it the messianic expectation that most mainline Christians believe Jesus of Nazareth fulfills, making him the true (albeit otherworldly) king of the Jews. Similarly, Jesus makes no provision for a Pope who would rule his disciples from Rome (which, funnily enough, is centrally located among those nations it rules over in its time) with Caesarian shaved face and curia—It just sorta happened over the last two millennia, like a gradual erosion, which is exactly what one can expect from a religion whose rulers misinterpret its own supposed founder and discourage its rank-and-file adherents from seeking out gurus, much less individual intuitions, for their time outside those whom their bloated bureaucracy deigns to approve in “God’s” name. As Elaine Pagels points out, the East retains the overtly imperial ecclesiology of “Saint” Constantine paired with an emphasis on God the Father, while the West pivots to an eposicopal ecclesiology paired with an emphasis on God the Son.
The fullness of the truth? Getting back to contemporary Roman Catholic rhetoric, it is true that Roman Catholic teaching, in rather Solomonic fashion, borrows from its neighboring religions and mystery schools those things that it deems best—whether best for the lay faithful or best for the institution’s grip on said lay faithful remains to be seen. (When a Roman Catholic is young, they are told that the Catholic Church is the “Sacrament of Salvation”, yet it is interesting how the clergy, taken as a whole, seem to place a higher premium on saving a culture in which they are the exclusive priesthood, rather than saving souls. The priest doesn’t even seem to adhere to the same type of belief as the parishioner does, and he will shift his language about almost any matter on a dime, just to be taken seriously by the cultural élite, leaving the simple believer scratching their heads while they are fed assurances that the essence of the faith can never really change, to trust Holy Mother Church [“HMC” on discussion fora] even when it seems to their simple minds that change [not to mention takeover] is inescapably afoot.) Being built on the ruins of an empire (albeit one that was far less invasively dogmatic that its successor), the Roman Catholic leadership thinks nothing of lifting a tradition from a tributary culture and claiming it as their own, in order to enhance the illusion of a uniquely “Catholic genius” (juno?). The inherent problem that no one is talking about is of course that when a truth is stolen in such a way that refuses to honor the cultural matrix that nourished it, much of that truth’s meaning is lost and what’s worse is twisted, to the point that a teaching that was once life-giving (often because folksy and non-dogmatic in tone) can become demoralizing and useful for the dark arts of mind control, a thing that anthropologically we often find going hand-in-hand with child molestation—am I in the ballpark? The Roman Catholic Church claims to be “the best in the business” at sifting truth (“orthodoxy”) from falsehood (“heresy”) (supposedly because of divine anointing but really through worldly experience) especially on matters of faith and morals (which conveniently are the two most unfalsifiable, auto-suggestion-based topics there are), yet somehow they just can’t get their story straight on how exactly they came by this authority—none of which speaks well to their expertise in the area of even basic humility or morality, on which they seem so enamored of lecturing the sheeple. So yeah, I’ve a solid hunch that somewhere in this my description of the dynamic the Roman Catholic clergy perpetuate, lies the real answer to how they gain so much control over the minds of men, rather than this “having all truth” tripe, which if God is good he would have rather bestowed on a turnip root than on such obnoxious jellyfish as the clergy. And besides, if this whole “God did it” line failed to distract us from the sound historical context for Jesus’s insights, then why in Dante’s Inferno would it succeed in explaining away the Roman Curia’s uncanny edge in making most folks feel like insignificant idiots? And that brings me to my next fun-filled paragraph:
This imperial decontextualizing of truths was perpetrated on Jesus first. If Jesus was somehow inorganically/machistically infused with all knowledge from his divine nature that connected him to the rest of the Trinity, then that abrogates the need for a faith-filled person to look into the similarities of his words to those of others of his school of which he was one “Hin-Jew guru-yogi-prophet” among many. And yet for those who don’t have the luxury of the theological virtue of gullibility (“faith”), it does not look like a coincidence that Jesus’s teachings are 98% identical to those of Krishna (yes with reincarnation implied in at least three separate passages just within the four canonical gospels alone, that is the ones our friend Constantine left unburned). But even to those still under the heavy yoke of dogmatic faith, let’s just put this bug in your ear that there are more intellectually satisfying explanations for Jesus’s teachings, explanations I might add that make them no less divinely inspired but merely indicate that if you were to look within your hidden self you might find tantamount wisdom. Or let’s put it this way: Jesus is not only our mediator not only with God the Father; he is also our culture broker with the Far East, and the raw power of his words should activate our own best nature, rather than be dampened by the ignoble agenda of a spiritually dead clergy. I mean, if you want to keep the faith and obedience that they preach but don’t practice, that’s fine, but at least remember that there’s more to you and more to Jesus, because neglect that is to miss the whole kingdom of God idea and to wallow in worldliness and ultimate spiritual ruin. The main thing I take away from Jesus’s teachings is that the things that matter are all a question of spirit and intuition not flesh or system, and fools rush to claim authority where angels dare not tread.
Antisocial narcissists (“elitists”) can’t stand being mimicked. One solution I would propose is simply to start imitating these clergy (and all their elitist goombas). Why not? And hey, the good news is that India has the truth, and that truth is that this whole world is a dream, so in effect you’ve been deceiving your own self, but it doesn’t matter because it’ll all be dispelled when you awake from this dream. Stop the Vatican’s lie stampede of dead in its tracks. Dominus vobiscum et namasté!