Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Quote of the Day
In light of the comments to this morning's post, the quote with which Lewis Lapham heads his "Notebook" column in the current Harper's seems like a fine candidate for QotD. It's Edward Gibbon, writing in his monumental Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire: "The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful."

This seems to speak nicely to the pitfalls of ecumenism, especially of the Christian variety. If the people consider all variations of Christianity equally true--and as we noted earlier today, many mainstreamers certainly seem to consider each denomination as legitimate as the others, be they traditional or loony--that's certainly useful to the magistrate. The magistrate can rely on the ecumenical impulses of mainstream religions to give cover to the extreme flavors of religion--which is an especially useful function when the magistrate is collectively beholden to those same extremists, if not entirely colonized by them.

As for the philosopher, he's left scratching his head--or banging it against the desk. But he's used to that.

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