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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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Moments of Glory

Rot has its own rationale.

Without death and decay, there would be no redemption, no hope of heaven, no fear of hell, and no chance of everlasting life. Without them, life everlasting would have no meaning; all movement would cease, because the earth would be frozen into a meaningless past and an equally meaningless future.

Even our religious beliefs regress to the mean. They get cheapened. They go through cycles—saints and sinners, bulls and bears, never wholly good nor wholly bad, but always subject to influence. And one measure of it is how they lose their own meanings to the slogans of a public spectacle.

Take our own Episcopal Church: First, they rewrote the prayer book. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” said Jesus. They were so eager to make this politically fashionable—by taking out the reference to “men”—that they rewrote it as, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

What that means is a matter of emphasis and diction. “I will make you fish for people” is one thing, in which “fish” is meant as a noun—as in, we will all become catfish. Or, if “make you fish” is taken as a verb—we are forced to fish, as though we were slaves. Or you could put the emphasis on “the people,” in which case we will have to imagine a hook through our jaws.

To be a fisher of men, on the other hand, is to undergo a personal transformation. That is the Christian vision of renewal—not the socialist. A renewal that calls for changing the way we are, first. A ...

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