NICHILISTS: coming soon
CHRISTIANISM: coming soon
CROSS: coming soon
CRUSADE: coming soon
BROTHERS IN THE COMMON LIFE: coming soon
DEVOTIO MODERNA: coming soon
CLERGY: coming soon
CONFESSIONISM: coming soon
CATHOLICISM: coming soon
ECUMENIC MOVEMENT AND RENOWAL OF CHURCH: coming soon
LUTHER: coming soon
CALVIN: coming soon
PROTESTANTISM: coming soon
COLONIALISM: coming soon
ENGLISH AND DUTCH COLONIALISM: coming soon
PROTESTANTISM, THE PHILOSOPHY OF REWARDS FOR SUCCESS (OF THE ELECT): certainly Luther, when he decided to give the Church a shake-up, didn't imagine that, in so doing, a large part of the Church would remain attached to him personally. He, as others beforehand, wanted to reform this Church, not found a new one. But his enterprise was very successful, and, on the other hand, the Catholic Church met him with an attitude of haughty rejection. Many times the Church had to face revolts, heresies, movements of "return to the origins", and every time the Church had come off well, even if with blood-stained hands - but not on this occasion. Unable to accept deep-seated demands for such a far-reaching renewal, the Catholic Church unleashed its full power and influence against the inhabitants of the most socially advanced part of Europe.
Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and King Henry VIII of England had supported the beginning of a new religious and historical movement. The focus, here, is that Protestantism looked at the two spheres of divinity and -humanity, and clearly separated them. God is unaccountable to for men, and operates with absolute liberty; He is absolutely not influenced by men. God decides to offer the salvation to men through Jesus, Jesus was crucified for men, and God save men throught the merits of Jesus Christ. Jesus is thus the only mediator given to humanity. God decides, in an arbitary way, who is destined to be saved and who is to be damned. God gives men the gift of Faith. Men have no say in divine plans, men are and remain sinners. Jesus's act does not modify the sinful nature of men.
Men cannot save themselves through faith in Jesus, but God saves them, or not, on the basis of predestination. Such a conception of God and men leads to a sort of fatalism, in which -- we could think -- men have no means of saving themselves, and so are fully passive. But it is not so, because such a division between the divine and the human spheres, in fact, gives back to men the initiative in this world, the earthly world. Men are sinners and have no power over their ultimate destiny, but have full powers on their fate here on Earth. They cannot pray for their salvation, nor can they count upon any authority, any "rite", or any mediator: if somebody is predestined to salvation, even though he is a sinner, it becomes evident during his Earthly life.
The Elect has faith and leads an
upright life, and believes that Divine Providence, ruling over the world, makes
him successful in his profession, and gives him prosperity.
Conscience is the only judge of individual status; profit and success are
the tangible signs of his salvation. Not only is earthly destiny put
back into the hands of men, but also their reward is evident, in material
terms. The theme of salvation is removed from the Heavenly plane,
and placed into solid, here and now, reality. Such a transposition of
planes is the most powerful lever of the Reformation. The individual man is
selected by God, and has over him no other authority or restraint from
birth. Wealth is the sign of divine favour - the prize in
this world, and not only after death.
Here the voice of the growing middle class is clear, demanding its own legitimation, its own dignity, in the name of economic success, of wealth independent of high birth and feudal privileges, but directly based upon money, commerce, and manufacturing production.
As a result of this clear division between human and divine realms, in fact, Religion on a personal private level ranges from the strongest moral rigours (Puritanism) to the most intimate and mystic sentiment (Pietism). The universal priesthood makes everyday life holy, and transforms men from subjects to citizens - adult and responsible people, who don't need guardians. The Protestant Church, in breaking away from the Catholic Church, also escapes from its political and temporal power. Furthermore, placing the religion on a practice level leads to a process of laicization of human activities. On such a philosophical base some new ideological principles, namely religious liberalism, economic liberalism or free trade, political liberalism (the idea of self-government), the idea of democracy, and modern scientific research will find their support.
Predestination is not evident at birth, it isn't recognizable by any a priori sign; men know who is of the Elect only by results. Anyone can be of the Elect, so that it is not possible for others, or any HUMAN authority, to decide rules on this point. There is no condition at birth that decides upon one state or the other. With such a mentality, individuals are very stimulated to act. It is equally right either to think for oneself or to help other people. There are no connections of dependance between the two things. As divinity is separate from humanity, so the individual person is distinct from other people. Everyone is responsible for himself, everyone lives own his/her own life, everyone is a world, in touch with one's fellow humans, but not responsible for them.
The Protestants, without the shared
curse of original sin, see themselves as individuals with a unique
destiny, and not as a people sharing the same condition. Here are the premises
of economic, political, social, scientific progress that subsequent history
shows us and, also, the premises of the enormous problems damaging the
present world. Such a mentality, arising from the centrality of men in the
world, has incited men to act in the world, and teaches them no longer to honour
the rich man, but wealth itself, and no longer the successful man, but
success itself, no longer the clever and able economic navigator, but
economics itself. It finally honours and serves several
"activities" in the abstract. It has reached a belief that money, the
market, and economics are something over and above people themselves, who
are now to be a mere cog in the economic machine: the "consumer".
CATHOLICISM, THE PHILOSOPHY OF REWARD FOR SACRIFICE: Catholicism, at the time of the Reformation, was a monolithic conservative power, opposed to progress. The Church, deeply hierarchical, like any bureaucracy, operated to preserve its real power. The Catholic clergy, as a professional caste, was worried above all about its survival. Catholicism retained hegemony where feudalism had enough inertial force to continue on its way, where the middle class didn't find the opportunity to grow as a social unifying phenomenon. The clerical hierarchy clung to the nobility, being itself a part of that, both as monarchical institution, or as sovereign of the Papal States. While Protestantism sided with the middle class, and shared its future in the subsequent course of history, Catholicism continued to consider itself as an empire, defending itself against the barbarians. The Church, as its reason for existence, claims the task of mediator in the long run, not una tantum like Jesus for Protestants, between the human and divine dimensions. According to such a concept, the two spheres shall in the long run be connected, and not only on a spiritual level, but in the physical life of Catholics. The Church is a hierarchical institution, which aimed to preserve her monopoly of mediation between men and God. Religion cannot be placed on a private, personal, or individual level, since the clerical authority would lose its power and influence. And, surely, the Church at that time was not so visionary as to renounce its richness, privileges and power.
It is not desirable that the individual layman, should escape the bonds of this tradition, or should understand, become conscious of himself, or responsible for himself. The layman is a subject, his task is to obey. The clergy itself is subject and must obey the various degrees of hierarchy. Clerical power, after all, accepts for itself obedience to a divine mandate. Obedience itself, in its view, is a renunciation of one's own judgement for the good of all, it is i.e. a sacrifice. The Church's power , in that act of obedience, is after all, a sacrifice. The Pope himself sacrifices himself to the common good of all the Catholics, assuming responsibility for the action of mediation with God. It follows that all Catholics can become holy only by a process of humility and obedience, i.e. of renounciation and sacrifice. Authorities make the sacrifice of government, the subjects the sacrifice of labour, with suppression of any personal search for truth and any spirit of criticism. In such a philosophical environment, the theme of original sin - the prime cause of the human condition of guilt and punishment with death, disease, sweated labour, and the agonies of childbirth - applies equally to all people. This is one of the most important and weighty grounds for demanding such obedience from all people.
The traditional distrust of any spirit of independence, the deadly enemy of hierarchical structures, has led the Catholic Church to obstruct personal initiatives in every field. The professional opportunities are typically military, clerical, or a search for some privilege, subject to the authorities. Only wealth resulting from ownership of inherited lands or property, or, in the case of Church, fruit of gifts, is allowed. Wealth resulting from money, trade or from personal enterprise, is a vice in the Catholic mentality, because money handlers evade the law: "you'll work with sweat". In the Catholic mentality, the pursuit of self fulfilment, of material comfort, and of personal happiness, are claims that we have no right to make , and also are of no interest, because only by sacrifice we can obtain the prize of heaven, and the eartly life must be used to reach heaven: heaven is never-ending, while our life ends. We are not allowed to pursue earthly aims in themselves; such aims, without their ultimate dimension, have no value and can make us to lose sight of the real aim. The Catholic individual man himself is not very important, and is encouraged to passivity: the Church is there, concerned to guard him, to lead him, and to help him.
But man has power in the divine sphere; he can contribute to his own and others' salvation in the next world by prayers, good deeds, and penances. The Church gives power to man in spiritual field, while the Saints and Mary can intercede and contribute to save souls, and increase gained merits. The single individual is not spurred to free himself but, on the contrary, is encouraged to honour the authorities, to obey leaders, to delegate his destiny, to think of himself as an incomplete and incompetent person, and to expect support and help from other people. We accustom ourselves to venerate Saints as a way to pay homage to authorities, and to get into the good graces of the Powers that be, and so , in practice, to deserve heaven becomes to reach heaven. The Catholic sees the human condition as condition of guilt, but he has the power to changing this condition by repentance, confession, and penitence. This is the way to arrange matters whether with God or with other men. We come into world in sin, but we are never inexorably culpable, responsibly culpable; we can always try to pay not the full price - we can negotiate. We disdain the commerce of goods and money, but we practise spiritual trade without shame!.
When the Church's power declines, paternalism replaces the authority. Though that enormous abyss between clergy and laymen, between powerful men and subjects is finally over, catholically trained people naturally classify people into two categories:
The idea that most of the people cannot take care of themselves is very deep-rooted. To take care of them is the weight and a responsibility of the better off , or for the authorities. Such an idea has, in Catholic society, the same weight that racialism has in the Protestant mentality: it is mistaken for a "law of nature", it divides people not by colour, or by the "achievements " of their lives, but according to a mysterious a priori "moral quality". Catholicism still sets a high value on obedience and tries to keep control over the lives of the "common" people, deciding that they are never to be adult, and so perpetuating the trend of centuries of subjection. Added to the idea of power as a sacrifice, this trend of service to one's neighbour is so deep-rooted that from the Catholic sphere it passed into laic organizations like political parties and the humanitarian associations of voluntary service, so that they ask their "laymen" for renunciations and sacrifices, and treat them as eternally under age.
In the Catholic environment,
Faith never became a free elaboration of everybody's conscience. It remained a
public and collective show of worship, often becoming mere outward appearance
and time-serving. The Catholic idea is that by one's own engagement it is
possible to redeem other people. This makes human relations appear as a
necessary sharing of the human condition in a earthly world
conceived as transitory, and also dependent upon the divine
sphere, upon which men have more influence than on the human one. For
good and for evil, the collective dimension is very important, so it is
important to sacrifice oneself for the other people and abase oneself
in this world , for the sake of greater benefit of all, in the
next. Unfortunately the collective dimension is so important that it often
leads people also to decide on behalf of other people, what is
for their good, without even asking them. But, within great limits,
this mentality has merit: it gives scope to an idea that, by contrast,
has little weight in the Protestant world: that of sincere, unselfish, human
Solidarity. This is not the charity handed down from an Elect's
great material advantages and possessions , but the ability to share
and to participate.
EBRAISM: coming soon
ISLAM: coming soon
ANARCHISM: coming soon
LIBERTARIANISM: coming soon
PAIN: coming soon
BIOETHICS: coming soon
UTOPIA: coming soon
SOCIALIST AND COMMUNIST UTOPISTS
SAINT-SIMON: coming soon
OWEN: coming soon
FOURIER: coming soon
BABEUF: coming soon