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Desire Of The Everlasting Hills


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I have been enjoying Thomas Cahill's Desire of the Everlasting Hills, this week. In essence, it examines the impact of Christ upon the world.

He presents a strong case for the earliest Christianity being a shockingly egalitarian organization, promoting equality between the sexes, an ideal unheard of in that place and time; and its leadership being clearly unhappy with the practice of slavery but not openly calling for its overthrow, as that would have been suicidal on top of the other controversial positions the Church was taking; and of course, extending arms of compassion to the poor and downtrodden.

Isolated New Testament quotes have sadly been wrested through the ages to create a completely different picture of the earliest Christian leadership and organization. Cahill cites Paul's letter to Philemon as one strong rebuttal of such -- a masterful epistle in which all justifications for human slavery are adroitly smashed to pieces.

It is a reminder to me of the pure core of Christianity: Not dogma, not ritual, but voluntary membership in a dynamic brotherhood and sisterhood of equality and love, bound up in the thrill of knowing that life does continue beyond the grave through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. An irresistable message.

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Egalitarianism does not work in the world of mortal economics. It might "work" for the mere rudiments of mankind "in the beginning" but never operates within a civilized society. For one thing, the "outside world" entices the next generation away with offerings of opportunity and materialism. Also, within the egalitarianism is dissatisfaction with the "freeloaders" of which there is always, sooner or later, an overabundance. There is no escape from the effect of the freeloaders. The few scriptures we have promoting/describing egalitarianism "under God" indicate that this prime fault is always the destructive force behind the termination of those mythical societies: "Primitive Christianity" MAY have started out egalitarian, but it surely ceased to be typified by that ideal, just as surely as Christianity fragmented all around the Mediterranean world....

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