12 August 2009

Links in the tradition

[I]n the early fourth century, the christian Church began to change the way it did business. More and more, the encounter with Jesus came not through that deep, timeless opening of the heart but mediated by what might be called "doctrinal mantras" - saying the right things and knowing the right things about Jesus. The fourth century became the era of the great creeds (and the great credal controversies), as Christians attempted to hammer out and precisely nail down (pun intended? -DlaP) their understanding of the Jesus event... Underlying [the Nicene Creed] is [a] troubling message that the correct way to relate to Jesus is to believe and know the right things about him. But this is not how relating to Jesus was done in those earliest days, nor is it ever how it is done when a person actually comes face to face with Wisdom.

Cynthia Bourgeault lays it on the line. Shift "the early fourth century" to "the 1930s", "the Christian Church" to "the Marxist movement", and "Jesus" to "the Russian Revolution", and the story becomes familiar. Practice gives way to theory which gives way to scholasticism which gives way to rank superstition and the sectarian and downright meanness that goes along with it. This is how any tradition with real life and "juice" in it turns into a shambling, withered zombie.

Rev. Cynthia goes on to suggest that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was tapped on the shoulder by Universe Central at the point where mainstream Christianity had definitively turned a corner (marked St Augustine) where it could no longer carry the "juice". Is it too crazy to suggest that Karl Marx was tapped on the shoulder when religion in its totality, as it was known in the 19th century, had reached the same impasse? Is it too crazy to suggest that, in revolutionary situations around the world, real ones where ordinary people break free of the Matrix and begin to reshape their own world, we are seeing the same kind of phenomenon as we did in Galilee under Pontius Pilate, or Arabia in the early seventh century of the common era - the "underground stream" surfacing?

Wisdom is liberation is power for the people and music for the masses. It is the goal of Chaos Marxists to discipline ourselves to the point where we might be fit to be tapped on the shoulder ourselves - and, in the meantime, to at least learn to act as if we actually did hear the Voice of God or the Call of History. But if Marxism means anything at all, it means that the new era is virtually nothing like the old era, and old forms will not suffice.