The Return of Christendom

Well, the Internet is shaking because Anne Rice has left Christianity. Not exactly, however. In her own words, according to her Facebook page, “I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.” For years I have observed decent people “quitting” Christianity because the name has been co-opted by intolerant, bigoted Neo-Cons who more often than not have political agendas in mind. I think the battle has been lost, the trademark name of Christianity must be surrendered to those who claim it most loudly. The meek have disinherited the earth. How many Catholic students have introduced their comments to me with “Christians say…” as if Catholics aren’t part of the club?

There was a perfectly good word for what Neo-Cons are calling themselves. It used to be “Christendom.” Harkening back to the imperial days when Orthodox Christianity ruled the East and Roman Christianity ruled the West, Christendom implied the power and the glory in its very name. Beyond a religion, it was a system of rule. The world was fine as long as everyone stepped in line to a magisterial faith that held the only set of keys to Heaven. Then Islam. Then Reformation. Then Enlightenment. The keys began to jangle amid many others on that divine keyring. Christendom seemed pretentious when there was no military might to back the strappado or red-hot iron. Christianity was but one belief system, deeply fragmented, among others.

Under the vision of James Dobson, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and their minions, Christianity in its Neo-Con armor has once again become a forum for abuse and intolerance. Bearing little resemblance to the ethics and outlook of the carpenter of Nazareth, this religion would find an easy home in imperial Rome or medieval Aragon. As Ms. Rice notes, she is committed to Christ, but not a Christian. Although my impotent voice bears little weight in this overly loud and hyper-productive world-wide web, I would humbly suggest that Christendom be reinstated, instead of Christianity, to describe the Neo-Con religion. Christendom, after all, retains the imperial bearing and absolute authority the movement craves. Those, like Ms. Rice, who prefer to follow the teachings of Jesus might then have use of the traditional term of “Christian” once again.

4 thoughts on “The Return of Christendom

  1. Nazareth?

    I have heard many Catholics express that view. I think the temptation to state your case or align with a body of thought (and I use that term loosely) is overwhelming in the case of new christianity and new atheism.

    From my point of view, believers (as in the case of the previous sentence) walk in the path of Fox Mulder.

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  2. “Under the vision of James Dobson, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and their minions, Christianity in its Neo-Con armor has once again become a forum for abuse and intolerance.”

    Agreed, but please preface with, “In the USA,” thankfully most of the world while not without its demons has been spared such.

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    • Hi Mark.

      “Neo-Con” is as vague as any label is. I use it here in the sense of Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and their ilk. It used to be called the “Religious Right” and “Moral Majority” but the name keeps shifting. It is anyone who uses their narrow understanding of Christianity to try to enforce their private morality on the country/world. It is not so much a matter of who I dislike (I like most people), it is more a matter of behavior that is reprehensible.

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