“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

futurepost: March 12, 2084

I have an old Bible on display in my entertainment compound, and a Methodist Hymnal. Frequently, a guest (or a visting avatar) will ask me what they are. I’ll start to explain that the Bible was the Christian sacred text and that Methodists were…but then the guest will interrupt. No, no, he or she will say, I remember what Methodists and Christians were from my online history class. But what is this device the Bible is contained in? And the similar device that stores the hymnal?

So we at least remember Christianity, although we’ve completely forgotten books.

But, though most of us vaguely know, or think we know, what it was, Christianity has long vanished from the Earth. I’ve read in ancient history texts that, as long as 130 years ago in the 1950s, the monk Thomas Merton and the social historian I.F. Stone believed that Americans were practical atheists, living only nominally as Christians. It must have been hard to believe back then, when—against a threat of “Godless” Communism—the old Congress was adding the words “under God” to their Pledge of Allegiance, and with President Eisenhower creating something called a National Prayer Breakfast. But it was probably true, and it was probably equally true when—against a threat of “Islamist” terrorists— millennial Americans shouted Christ from every political event.

But it wasn’t Communism, nor Islam, nor Michael Newdow who brought down Christianity. Christianity was abolished from within. It finally officially disappeared in 2037 after its most powerful CEO called for the faith to be renamed Osteenism during a sermon in Prosperity Church of Irving, Texas. Most people had no problem with this—a dirty, long-haired man with bare feet, healing the sick for free, hardly seemed relevant to their lives. The kicker came when Prosperity Gospel preachers started reminding their congregations that the Christian Bible preached that “the love of money is the root of all evil”. Congregations called for heads. In America, the few who still insisted on calling themselves Christians had their assets frozen, and it didn’t take them long to convert to Osteenism. The offending verse was replaced by the New Golden Rule: Thou shalt ever and always do all thou wilt to make the rich richer.

Some of us wondered at the time whether there should be some morality not based entirely on money. We wondered it especially when we were complaining about the high cost of oxygen, but we didn’t say it out loud, and we don’t believe it anymore. Because if you’re a good person, God will make you rich enough to afford oxygen, and the really rich say that money is the root of all morality.

For awhile, there were a few holdouts in Europe—the Vatican, for example. But the international pressure was intense. The whole world was becoming Prosperous. Few had noticed it at the time, for example, but large numbers of people in former Soviet-bloc countries had joined Prosperity Gospel-believing churches like Hillsong out of Australia during the 1990s.

The Vatican first attempted to respond to the international pressure by naming Osteen a saint, but that wasn’t sufficient and after the Catholic Church was taken over by Exxon in a hostile bid, it became a moot point. Osteenism it was, and Osteenism it would be now be, forever and ever, amen.

spacedark 2084