Tom Holland – Dominion
To live in a Western country is to live in a society still utterly saturated by Christian concepts and assumptions. (S. XXV)
Who was any mortal, even the Great Kind, to mock the gods of other peoples? (Cyrus, S. 9)
In Homer’s poetry, the word for ‘pray’, euchomai [εὔχομαι], was also a word for ‘boast’. (S. 14)
Aristotle […]: “Such a mob should never rank as citizens.” (S. 22)
His labour of reform completed, Demetrius then settled back and devoted his attention to prostitutes and young boys. (S. 22)
The strong do what they have the power to do, and the weak must suck it up. (Thucydides, S. 23)
This practice, of identifying the gods worshipped in one land with those honoured in another, was a venerable one. For a millennium and more, diplomats had depended upon it to render practicable the very concept of international law. How, after all, were two powers to agree a treaty without invoking gods that both parties could acknowledge as valid witnesses to their covenant? (S. 30)
Nero, by appearing in public as a charioteer or a musician, was riding roughshod over a venerable Roman prejudice: that to entertain the public was to become the lowest of the low. (S. 79)
Contradictions [for Origin] only hinted at hidden truth. (Origen, S. 103)
[Origen]: ‘Whatever men have rightly said, no matter who or where, is the property of us Christians.’ (S. 104)
Christ did not say, “Woe to you who are the evil rich”, but simply, “Woe to you who are rich.” (Pelagius, S. 135, vgl. Luk 6. 24)
Man würde denken Schach Matt.
Indeed, to Augustine, the teaching of Pelagius that Christians might live without sin was not merely fantasy, but a pernicious heresy. (S. 139)
[St.] Martin who in life had shunned the trappings of worldly power, in death hat become the very model of a mighty lord. (S. 140)
No longer, as they had been back in Paul’s day, were ‘Saints’ held to be the living faithful. Now the title was applied to those who, like Martin, had died and gone to join their Saviour. (S. 140)
Es ist wohl zu stressig, mit Heiligen zu Leben.
More vividly than Persians or Jewish scholars had ever done, Christians gave evil an individual face. (S. 147)
So it was that hel, the pagan underworld, where all the dead were believed to dwell, became, in the writings of monks, the abode of the damned. (S. 188)
Wer definiert, regiert.
Without education, they were doomed; without education, they could not be brought to Christ. Correctio, Charlemagne termed his mission: the schooling of his subjects in the authentic knowledge of God. (S. 195)
Darum sind wir also zur Schule gegangen. Oder war es doch, damit wir Soldaten werden können?
Under his leadership, the monastery became a powerhouse of penmanship. Its particular focus was the production of single-volume collections of scripture. Edited by Alcuin himself, these were written to be as user-friendly as possible. No longer did words run into one another. Capital letters were deployed to signal the start of new sentences. For the first time, a single stroke like a lighting-flash was introduced to indicate doubt; the question mark. (~800 n.Chr., S. 195)
Das ist einfach eine super brillante Idee. Großbuchstaben. Man kann das gar nicht wirklich begreifen, wie genial das ist.
Priests, unlike monks, had never been obliged to pledge themselves to celibacy – and yet this, in recent years [~1080 n.Chr.], had become a subject of violent agitation. (S. 207)
Interessant, dass das so spät eingeführt wurde.
How, for instance, were the Christian people to square the rampant inequality between rich and poor with the insistence of numerous Church Fathers that ‘the use of all things should be common to all’? […] By 1200 […] a solution had finally been arrived at […] A starving pauper who stole from a rich man did so, according to a growing number of legal scholars, ure naturalis – ‘in accordance with natural law’. As such, they argued, he could not be reckoned guilty of a crime. Instead, he was merely taking what was properly owed him. It was the wealthy miser, not the starving thief, who was the object of divine disapproval. (S. 223)
Naturrecht, gute Erfindung.
Charity, no longer voluntary, was being rendered a legal obligation. (S. 223)
Kommunismus. Dies das.
That the rich had a duty to give to the poor was, of course, a principle as old as Christianity itself. What no one had thought to argue before, though, was a matching principle: that the poor had an entitlement to the necessities of life. It was […] a human ‘right’. (S. 223)
Entitlement, auch ein christliches Konzept.
[A]t the Fourth Lateran Council , it had been prescribed for the first time that all Christians should make annual and individual confession of their sin. (S. 237)
Sünde, Sünde, Sünde.
[In 1231] a new pop, Gregory IX; authorised Conrad [of Marburg] not merely to preach against heresy, but to devote himself to the search for it – the inquisitio.(S.238)
Sünde muss gefunden werden.
Better to suffer as Christ has suffered, tortured in a place of public execution for a crime that he had not committed, than to suffer eternal damnation. Better to suffer for a few fleeting moments than to burn for all eternity. (S. 239)
Unschuldige Töten ist rational, wenn die Alternative ewige Verdammnis ist. Endlich ist alles zu rechtfertigen.
Christian scholars had traditionally condemned talk of devil worship as superstitious folly. No one with any sense or education took it seriously. (S. 240)
Aber mit Gregory IX wurde das Problem endlich ernstgenommen. [ab 1231]
No couple could be forced into a betrothal, nor into wedlock, nor into a physical coupling. Priests were authorised to join couples without the knowledge of their parents – or even their permission. (S. 267) Inexorably, the rights of the individual were coming to trump those of family. (S.267)
The more attractive a whore, so one of Abelard’s students had argued, the less onerous should be the penance for buying here services. (S.270)
The notion that men and women who slept with people of their own sex were sharing in the same sin, one that obscenely parodied the natural order of things, was a purely Christian one. (S.273)
Dread that the failure to cleanse a city of sodomy might risk the annihilation of its entire population was general across the peninsula. (S 274)
No one committed sin except by choice. (S. 275) Willpower!
Almost fifteen hundred years after Paul, the notion that men or women might be defined sexually by their attraction to people of the same gender remained too novel, too incomprehensible for most to grasp. (S. 275)
[Luther:] ‘For the pope is not above but under the word of God.’ (S 296.)
[Luther:] ‘For whoever has gone astray in the faith may thereafter believe whatever he wants.’ (S.312)
Hier nimmt Luther bereits die Postmodernisten vorweg.
Puritans […] could not entirely deny a lurking paradox: that their rejection of tradition was itself a Christian tradition. (S. 320)
Munitions, and iron, and the bills of exchange that funded the rival armies: all were monopolised by Durch entrepreneurs. [~1620] (S. 325)
Und die Geldzählmaschine macht ratatatatata.
[1550 Bartolomé de las Casas:] ‘All the peoples of the world are humans, and there is only one definition of all humans and of each one, that is that they are rational.’ Every mortal – Christian or not – had right that derived from God. Derechos humanos, las Casas had termed them: ‘human rights’. (S. 331)
The understanding of the cosmos that underpinned the Jesuits’ ability to draw up accurate calendars did nit, it seemed come easily to scholars from a radically different tradition. The Christian inheritance of natural philosophy had revealed itself to be nothing if not Christian through and through. (S. 343)
[For Spinoza] God was ‘nothing other than the whole universe’. […] he was those laws. (S. 360) Miracles did not exist. They were an impossibility. (S. 360)
True Christianity was nothing if it were not progress. (S. 364)
‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.’ (S. 365)
No Christian should feel guilt. Abraham had owned slaves. (S. 366)
[Las Casas] had for many decades backed the importation of Africans to do forced labour. This he had done under the impression that they were convicts, sold as punishment for their crimes. Then, lat in life, he had discovered the terrible truth: that the Africans were unjustly enslaved, and no less the victims of Christian oppression than the Indians. (S. 368)
All of humanity had been created in God’s image; that to argue a hierarchy of races was an offence against the fundamentals of Christ’s teaching. (S. 368)
[Slave-owners:] the enslavement of pagans, and their transportation to Christian lands, was done for the good of their souls. (S. 368) Classic.
journey, away sinfulness towards the light. (S. 369)
[~1762] [Voltaire’s] complaint that the two great reformers had only scotched the papacy, not killed it, echoed any number of Protestant radicals. (S. 375)
‘If there were only one religion in England, there would be danger of tyranny; if there were two, they would cut each others throats; but there are thirty, and they live happily in peace.’ (S.375)
[Voltaire:] ‘Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy, that is the very foolish daughter of a wise and intelligent mother.’ (S. 376)
‘If god did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.’ (S. 377)
Just as English radicals, in the wake of Charles I’s defeat, had hailed Christ as the first Leveller, so were there enthusiasts for the Revolution who saluted him as ‘the first sans-culotte. (S. 383)
That all men had been created equal, and endowed with an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, were not remotely self-evident truth. (S. 384)
The genius of the authors of the United States constitution was to garb in robes of Enlightenment the radical Protestantism that was the prime religious inheritance of their fledgling nation. (S. 385)
Franklin [...] illustrated a truth pregnant with implications for the future: that the surest way to promote Christian teachings as universal was to portray them as deriving from anything other than Christianity. (S. 385)
The concept of human rights […] derived not from ancient Greece of Rome, but from the period of history condemned by all right thinking revolutionaries as a lost millennium, in which any hin of enlightenment had at once been snuffed out by monkish, book-burning fanatics. It was an inheritance from the canon lawyers of the Middle Ages. (S. 385f)
That anything of value might have sprung form the mulch of medieval superstition was a possibility too grotesque even to contemplate. Human rights owed nothing to the flux of Christian history. They were eternal and universal. (S. 386)
The Republic had to be made pure. (S. 388)
It was not individuals who stood condemned, but entire classes. Aristocrats, moderates, counter-revolutionaries of every stripe: all were enemies of the people. To show them mercy was a crime. (S. 388)
‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ (S. 388)
Human rights needed no God to define them. Virtue was its own reward. (S. 389)
Even when the French Republic, mimicking the sombre course of Roman history, succumbed to military dictatorship, the new regime continued to plunder the dressing-up box of classical antiquity. (S. 389)
[de Sade:] ‘ virtue is not a world of priceless worth, it is just a way of behaving that varies according to climate and consequently has nothing real about it.’ (S. 390)
There was only the one timeless language: the language of Power. (de Sade, S. 393)
An age of enlightenment and revolution had served to establish as international law a principle that derived from the depths of the Catholic past. Increasingly, it was in the language of human rights that Europe would proclaim its values to the world. (S. 396)
It was in a very similar spirit that British scholars, confronted by all the manifold riches, complexities and ambivalences of Indian civilisation, set to shaping out of them something that might be recognisable as a religion. (S. 400)
‘Christianity spreads in two ways’, an Indian historian has written: ‘through conversion and through secularisation.’ (S. 404)
A country did not need to become Christian, it turned out, to start seeing itself through Christian eyes. (S. 404)
The great clam of what, in 1846, an English newspaper editor first termed ‘secularism’ was to neutrality. Yet this was a conceit. Secularism was not a neutral concept. The very word came trailing incense clouds of meaning that were irrevocably and venerably Christian. That there existed twin dimensions, the secular and the religious, was an assumption that reached back centuries beyond the Reformation: To Gregory VII, and to Columbanus, and to Augustine. (S. 411)
The laicus had originally been none other than the people of God. (S. 411)
The spirit of the Sunna, it turned out, might after all trump its letter. Insidiously, among elite circles in the Islamic world, a novel understanding of legal properties was coming to be fostered: an understanding that derived ultimately not from Muhammad, nor from any Muslim jurist, bur from Saint Paul. (S. 417)
Here, perhaps, lay the ultimate demonstration of just how effective the attempt by Protestant abolitionists to render their campaign universal had become. […] It did not need missionaries to promote evangelical doctrines around the world. Lawyers and ambassadors might achieve it even more effectively: for they did it, in the main, by stealth. (S. 417f)
A crusade, it turned out, might be more effective for keeping the cross well out of sight. (S. 418)
To read Genesis was to know that [time] did not go round in endless cycles. (S. 420)
Traditionell war Zeit immer zyklisch.
In 1822, when William Buckland, another clergyman, published a paper demonstrating that life on earth, let alone the depositions of rocks, was infinitely older than Noah’s flood, it was his dating of the fossils he had found in a Yorkshire cave that enabled him to demonstrate his point. (S. 420f)
Darwin hat written “[…] but as small consequences of one general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die” (S. 423)
“The Creator creates by… laws.” (Darwin, S. 423) Abelard [~1100] had claimed much the same. (ebd.)
The Origin of Species, had only coyly hinted at what the implication of his theory might be for humanity’s understanding of itself. (S. 425)
Nervousness at the idea that humanity might have evolved from another species was nit bred merely of a snobbery towards monkeys. Something much more was at stake. (S. 425) Jesus […] had set Homo Sapiens upon the downward path to degeneration. For eighteen long centuries, the Christian conviction that all human life was sacred had been underpinned by one doctrine more than any other: that man and woman were created in God’s Image. (S. 425)
[Darwin] dreaded the consequences for the strong of permitting the weak to propagate themselves. ‘No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.’ (S. 426; Darwin, Decent of Man)
The traditional response of a Christian would have been to assert that between two human beings of separate races there was no fundamental difference: both had equally been created in the image of God. To Darwin, however, his theory of natural selection suggested a rather different answer. (S. 427)
[Thomas Henry] Huxley, […t]he same man whose genius as an anatomist enabled him to identify what only now has become almost universally accepted, that modern birds are descended from dinosaurs that once, millions of years ago, were scampering through Jurassic forests, had no problem in believing that ‘science’ hat always existed. (S. 430) Only Christians, with their fanatical hatred for reason and their determination to eradicate pagan learning, had prevented the ancient world being on a path towards steam engines and cotton mills. (ebd.) That nothing in this narrativ was true did not prevent it from becoming a wildly popular myth. (S. 430f)
The portrayal of medieval Christendom as a hellhole of backwardness and bigotry reached all the way back to Luther. (S. 431)
The war between science and religion reflected – at least in part – the claims of both to a common inheritance. (S. 431)
In 1886 […] Richard von Krafft-Ebing published a survey of what he termed ‘pathological fetishism’. (S. 432)
Krafft-Ebing believed ‘homosexuals’ were the victims of an underlying morbid condition. (S. 433)
Homosexuals, he argued, were the creatures of their proclivities. As such – Christian concern for the unfortunate being what it was – they deserved to be treated with generosity and compassion. (ebd.)
he termed – after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, an Austrian nobleman with a taste for being whipped by aristocratic ladies dressed in furs – ‘masochism‘ (ebd.)
Seven hundred years after Elizabeth of Hungary had surrendered herself to the strict ministrations of her confessor, the unsentimental gaze of psychiatry presumed to stare at her as she had never been stared at before. A masochist, Krafft-Ebing ruled, was being the perfect counterpart of a sadist. ‘The parallelism is perfect.’ (ebd.)
Homosexuals, [Krafft-Ebing] declared, might be no less familiar with ‚the noblest inspirations of the heart‘ than any married couple. (S. 434)
Homosexuality […] constituted the seamless union of Christian sin with Christian love. (ebd.)
For two weeks, Lenin and thirty-seven others had been in London to debate how this coming revolution in the affairs of the world might best be expedited – but that laws of evolution made it inevitable none of them doubted. (S. 438)
‚Just as Darwin discovered the law of evolution as it applies to organic matter, so Marx discovered the law of evolution as it applies to human history.‘ Communist could be certain of their cause, […] because it was scientifically proven. (S. 439) Hahaha.
‚From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.‘ Here was slogan with the clarity of a scientific formula. Except, of course, that it was no such thing. Its line of descent was evident to anyone familiar with the Acts of the Apostles. ‚Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to everyone as he had need.‘ (S. 440)
Marx’s interpretation of the world appeared fuelled by certainties that had no obvious source in his model of economics. (S. 441)
For a self-professed materialist, he was oddly prone to seeing the world as the Church Fathers had once done: as a battleground between cosmic forces of good and evil. Communism was a ‚spectre‘: a thing of awful and potent spirit. (ebd.)
If, as he insisted, he offered his followers a liberation from Christianity, then it was one that seemed eerily like a recalibration. (ebd.)
The congress held in London had been exclusively for those of them who defined themselves as Bolsheviks: the ‚Majority‘. (S. 442)
Lenin, who was reputed to admire both the Anabaptists of Münster and Oliver Cromwell, was not entirely contemptuous of the past. […] Capitalism was destined to collapse, and the paradise lost by humanity at the beginning of time to be restored. […] The hour of salvation lay at hand. (S. 442)
‚When one gives up Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet.‘ Nietzsche’s loathing for those who imagined otherwise was intense. Philosophers he scorned as secret priests. Socialists, communist, democrats: all were equally deluded. (S. 448)
’Such phantoms as the dignity of man, the dignity of labour’: these were Christian through and through. (Nietzsche, ebd.)
Charity, in Christendom, had become a means to dominate. (S. 449)
Ein Narrativ, dass sich vor allem bei Progressiven widerspiegelt.
[Nietzsche] admired the Greeks not despite but because of their cruelty. (ebd.)
The unprecedented scale of the violence [WW I] that had bled Europe white did not shock most of its peoples into atheism. On the contrary: it served to confirm them in their faith. (S. 450)
To insist that a church funeral might be a kind of blasphemy was less a repudiation of Christianity than an inadvertent acknowledgement of kinship with it. (S. 453)
‚Apes massacre all fringe elements as alien to their community.‘ Hitler did not hesitate to draw the logical conclusion. ‚What is valid for monkeys must be all the more valid for humans.‘ (S. 457)
‚A cool doctrine of reality based on the most incisive scientific knowledge and its theoretical elucidation.‘ So Hutler had defined National Socialism […] (S. 463)
‚It is the Jew Paul who must be considered as the father of all this, as he, in a very significant way, established the principles of the destruction of a worldview based on blood.‘ (S. 465)
‚They deplore the fact that the Pope does not speak‘, Pius had lamented privately in December 1942. ‚But the Pope cannot speak. If he spoke, things would be worse.‘ (S. 466)
The Nazis, when they portrayed Jews […] The myths that they drew upon were Christian myths. (ebd.)
Elsewhere too, from France to the Balkans, and in the very Vatican itself, Catholics were often induced by their hatred of communism to view Nazis as the lesser of two evils. (S. 467)
Naturally, Sauron’s dread had been that his enemies — whom he knew had found it — would turn it against him. But they did not. Instead, they destroyed the ring. True strength manifested itself not in the exercise of power, but in the willingness to give it up. So Tolkien, as a Christian, believed. (S. 469)
The Beatles did not — as Martin Luther Kind had done— derive their understanding of love as the force that animated the universe from a close reading of scripture. Instead, *they took it for granted.** (S. 476f)
That every human being possessed an equal dignity was not remotely self-evident a truth. A Roman would have laughed at it. (S. 478)
“What are you doing for others?“ (McCartney, S. 480)
Secularism: liberal democracy; the concept of humans rights: these were fit for the whole world to embrace. (S. 489)
Bush, in his assumption that the concept of human rights was a universal one, was perfectly sincere. (S. 491)
‚Islam, as practised by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others.‘ Bush asked to describe his own faith, might well have couched it in similar terms. What bigger compliment, then, could he possibly have paid to Muslims? (ebd.)
To be a Muslim, though, was to know that humans did not have rights. (S. 494)
‚Modern Islam,‘ as the scholar Kecia Ali has put it, ‚is a profoundly Protestant tradition.‘ (S. 495)
Yet the very literalness with which the Islamic State sought to resuscitate the vanished glories of the Arab empire was precisely what rendered it so inauthentic. Of the beauties, of the subtleties, of the sophistication that had always been the hallmark of Islamic civilisation there was not a trace. (S. 496)
[…] but from a bastardised tradition of fundamentalism that was, in its essentials, Protestant. (ebd.)
Muslims who wished to integrate into German society had no choice but to become practitioners of that decidedly Christian concept: a ‚religion‘. Islam — the activity of submission — had to be moulded, and twisted, and transmuted into something very different. (S. 504)
Its progress could be measured by the number of Muslims across the world brought to accept that laws authored by humans might trump those authored by God; that Muhammad’s mission hat been religious rather than political; that the relationship of worshippers to their faith was, in its essentials, something private and personal. (S. 504f)
The West, over the duration of its global hegemony, had become skilled in the art of repackaging Christian concepts for non-Christian audiences. (S. 505)
Merkel, welcoming Muslims to Germany, was inviting them to take their place in a continent that was not remotely neutral in its understanding of religion: a continent in which the division of church and state was absolutely assumed to apply to Islam. (ebd.)
secularism too was founded on a myth. (ebd.)
[Charlie Hebdo’s] true line of inheritance could be traced back instead to a far more rambunctious generation of iconoclasts. (S. 506)
To be enlightened was, in turn, to lay claim to a status as the people of God — the laicus The journalists of Charlie Hebdo, then, were doubly laïc. The tradition in which they stood — of satire, of blasphemy, of desecration — was not a repudiation of Christian history, but its ver essence. (edb.)
The mockery would not cease, so Charlie Hebdo’s editor vowed, until ‚Islam has been rendered as banal as Catholicism.‘ This it was, in a secular society, for Muslims to be treated as equals. Except that they were not being treated as equals. Only those who believed in the foundation myths of secularism […] could possibly have believed that they were. (S. 506)
Yet to ask these questions was, of course, to buy into the core conceit of secularism: that all religions are essentially the same. (S. 507)
Europe had new expectations, new identities, new ideals. None though, was neutral; none was anything other than the fruit of Christian history. (ebd.)
[Bernhard of Claircaux:] ‚To be always with a woman and not to have sexual relations with her is more difficult than to raise the dead.‘ Ja, ja, die Priesterschaft.
The man who treated his wife brutally, forcing himself on her, paying no attention to her pleasure, treating her as he might a prostitute, dishonoured God. Mutual respect was all. (1609, S. 509)
Two thousand years on, and the discovery made by Christ’s earliest followers — that to be a victim might be a source of power — could bring out millions onto the streets. (S. 516)
Just as Nietzsche had foretold, free thinkers who mock the very idea of a god as a dead thing, a sky fairy, an imaginary friend, still piously hold to taboos and morals that derive from Christianity. (S. 521)
The measure of how Christian we as a society remain is that mass murder precipitated by racism tends to be seen as vastly more abhorrent than mass murder precipitated by an ambition to usher in a classless paradise. (S. 524)
Behind the readiness to use ‚fascist‘ as an insult there lurks a numbing fear: of what might happen should it cease to be taken as an insult. (S. 524)
Terror of power was the index of power. That was how it always would be. It was the way of the world. For two thousand years, though, Christians have disputed this. (S. 525)
‚God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.‘ (ebd.; I Kor 1. 27)
Für jeden der seine christliche Konditionierung verstehen will, der sich wundert, warum New Atheism so fade schmeckt und sich für die Geschichte interessiert, ein sehr empfehlenswertes (langes) Buch.