One of the vilest monsters in the modernist bestiary is The Exploitative Priest. This character is abhorred because he preys on ignorance and superstition, holding the simple enthralled by his claim to be able to interpret signs and omens, and even to foretell the future. His wickedness is exhibited in his swiftness to command compliance or risk ostracism and excommunication. To those who are pliant to his will and learn his doctrine, he holds out the hope of clemency and salvation, but those who doubt his word or question his teachings are damned as infidels or heretics.
Human nature being what it is, there have certainly been such clerics in history, though not as many as the modernists would like to believe. Furthermore, the Gospel of Christ, when properly understood and preached, is quite different than most religions in human history. The Exploitative Priest is found more widely in paganism, as Daniel 14:1-21 testifies.
Modernists assume that the presence of The Exploitative Priest is due solely to the conniving, scheming, and political skulduggery of The Religious Party. If they'd just leave the simple people alone, they could live their lives in peace. But I think the situation is more complex than that. In fact, looking around this postmodern world, it seems to me that people need a priest figure, even if all he does is exploit them. Furthermore, if there isn't one, they'll seek until they find one.
I don't know why this is. Maybe it is because people want to be connected to something greater than themselves. Maybe it is because they cannot escape the guilt within their breasts, and if they deny the path that God has provided to excise that, they'll find some other path to assuage it. But whatever the reason, it seems that people clamor for a guilt trip, and won't settle until they get one.
As Exhibit A of this hypothesis, I offer the modern Global Warming / Climate Change hysteria. It has all the trappings of the Exploitative Priest scenario: the prophets of doom (led by their Elijah, Al Gore), the guilt, the apocalyptic vision, the path to salvation, the sacrifices and offerings, the interpretation of the omens and foretelling of the future, damnation - the whole smash is there. There's even the transcendent reality of The Earth - a semi-mystical concept that differs quite sharply from the physical reality. A true scientist would be amazed that this unproven mythology has seized the popular imagination so strongly on the basis of such threadbare and contradictory evidence. The fact that it has seems to me strong evidence that people need to feel guilty, and if they deny guilt in one arena of life, they'll have to expiate it somewhere else.
The real mystery is why people not only tolerate exploitation, but seek it out. Perhaps their hearts know that justice will demand something of them for their sins, and want to pay it in the way they prefer. Whatever the reason, I find it cruelly ironic that the modern world that went to such pains to demonize all religion as being simply the product of the Exploitative Priest has turned around and created an even more exploitative priesthood of their own.
C'mon back, guys. It's much simpler than that.
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