Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Dominion by Tom Holland

No less than any other aspect of culture and society, beliefs are presumed to be of mortal origin and shaped by the passage of time.

This month I hope to begin a review of the chapters of Dominion by Tom Holland. He shows how even the secular west is saturated with the assumptions of Christianity regardless of religious framework. His book explores what it was that made Christianity so subversive and disruptive; how completely it came to saturate the mindset of Latin Christendom; and why, in the west that is often doubtful of religions claims, so many of its instincts remain - for good and ill- thoroughly Christian.

There are 21 chapters and I feel I must reread them. They provide a survey of western thought that certainly touched many of my thoughts about what is important. In my own study, I have concentrated on what I discovered about the character of the God who is, who was, and who is to come, called by the letters, i-h-v-h. See for instance the essay here including my emphasis on Psalms 146.

Holland in his preface traces the origin of crucifixion and its use by Rome till the third century CE.

Sparta and Rome, retain their glamour as Apex predators. ... And yet giant carnivores, however wondrous, are by their nature terrifying. ...

To paraphrase quickly: Sparta practiced eugenics and Rome killed millions. We don’t consider today that either of these examples is a good example of civilization. We have a sense that the poor and the weak have significant intrinsic value. Where did this come from? (And the apex predators were destroyed - though some remain as birds for cleaning up our garbage.)

Holland concludes his comment on this assumption with this: It is the incomplete revolutions which are remembered; the fate of those which triumph is to be taken for granted.

We may not take for granted that there is a God - but we have been changed to care for the poor and the marginalized. Will we continue in this tradition?

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