Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Truth About Christianity, a book review

This fascinating book puts forward an interesting concept about the reason why the Christian religion is one the one hand losing authority and on the other gaining popular support which dovetails well with my studies of history.

It says that Christianity lost spiritual power significantly at the start of the Crusades, when righteousness was equated with violent warfare. The thing that restored Christian values in a much-lessened form was, according to this book, the appropriation of the business values of thrift and enterprise, and a scientific worldview, from the Golden Age of Islam.

The end result? A society that makes a religion out of business, where customers and business people are united by the sacrement of shopping. Science in turn justifies this atomistic and unnatural worldview with physics and the biological vision of survival of the fittest. Social science, a development of Protestantism, is seen as providing economics and accounting by appropriation from Islam (economics) and Judaism (accounting).

This fascinating book does not stop there, however. It suggests that by returning to a holistic, middle-ages-style scientific worldview, we can open our minds to symbiosis instead of survival of the fittest, and Gaia Theory instead of biological determinism. Armed with a restored view of Nature, the book suggests we engage in two processes of growth which in the fine tradition of appropriation from Islam it calls Jihad, the inner war, and Aj-tihad, the external dialog, of culture.

Jihad is waged by reflection and ruthless self-honesty. Thus the business values in the light of self-enquiry are seen as fragile vanities against Divine Justice. The humility of middle-ages businesspeople is seen in a new light, and the market controls of the middle ages are re-assessed for valuable lessons for the modern day. I particularly found insightful the way market controls were linked to religious teachings, so when one was high, the other also waxed strong. Thus virtue and community were the dominant values of the middle ages during those periods. Fascinating stuff!

At-jihad, on the other hand, is a number of questions on different topics. The question and answer format of this section can be challenging to follow. There are a number of subjects addressed:

- A synthesis of Kuhn and Popper's scientific philosophies.
- A discussion of subjectivity, which concludes that scientific objectivity is a fantasy.
- A discussion of cause and effect which reveals the fallacy of simplistic linking together of phenomena.
- A discussion of the marketplace in science, and how science is biased by the limits of the awareness of the practicioner.

Altogether this section asks vital questions which are timely and contentious.

The third section of the book is entitled A Christian Restoration. It discusses in short, bold, almost Zen-like statements the core teachings of Christianity as the author sees it. These include:

- Forgivenness.
- Surrender.
- Tolerance.
- Forebearence.
- Humility.
- Releasing egotism.
- Modesty.
- Lovingkindness.

And a number of other Christian teachings.

This book boldly claims that Christianity has lost its attraction because it has lost its ability to love and support communities to business interests backed up by scientific-sounding falsehoods. In it's bold call for inner jihad and outer aj-tihad (dailog), it trailblazes where other books only meander.

A highly recommended book!


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