Monday, August 09, 2010

Chapter: The Composition of the Consistory

By John Taylor; 2010 Aug 09, Kamal 08, 167 BE

"Tres unu contudit ictu," -I have cut down three with a single blow.

In the last chapter we talked about an erratically gyrating "raccoon" toy with a built-in wobble. Like this toy, unbalanced individuals tend to tilt organizations every which way. Often they push it towards concentrating power into the hands of a few leaders with stereotyped worldviews. At other times they swing the other way towards huge, clumsy bureaucracies. We cannot trust ourselves. Any institution may sooner or later sink into corruption, injustice, war, rumours of war, revolutions, reaction or upheaval.

The reason we cannot center our balance lies in the Enlightenment project of the 18th Century. Although it openly proclaimed universal human rights, the Enlightenment also witnessed a divorce that tore Homo Universalis into three parts. We now think that belief in God, science and activism are in permanent antipathy to one another. We no longer expect even the most accomplished scholar to balance all three. As a result, it is a rare citizen who has a chance to cultivate a broad outlook or cosmopolitan concern. Worst of all, this bifurcation of human faculties made it impossible to conceive of world government as anything but a nightmare. Even in the face of the decline of the environment and other survival threats by the dozen, the obvious solution of a world government remains out of the question.

A case in point is American newscaster Walter Cronkite. After he retired Cronkite gave a speech to world federalist group where he announced that now that he was out of the public eye he felt he could throw aside his former objective stance and openly side with advocates of world government. In doing so, he was joining the global majority opinion. However, so virulent is the climate of suspicion spread largely by religious reactionaries in his country, that he felt it necessary to declare openly, "If being for world government means sitting at the right hand of Satan, then I am happy to sit right up there next to him." (

Most of the blame for the Enlightenment split lay with petty religious leaders who rejected anything they thought might diminish their parochial sway. They refused to embrace a cosmopolitan outlook, in spite of the fact that most of the world's peoples want world government. In reaction to long standing wars and disagreement among faith leaders, secular thinkers came to think of religion as inherently fractious, and they either excluded or marginalized from the public forum, in spite of the fact that the vast majority believed in God, then and now. The result, the monolithic nationalist state, is a nightmare that can never satisfy the aspirations of most people.

This is why the voice of Comenius rings so true today. He spoke before the great split had taken place, when it was still conceivable to have a world government resting on three equal pillars of science, religion and politics. In order to do this, Comenius proposed that we elect a parliament of religions that he called a "Consistory of Holiness." This interfaith institution would act on behalf of God and all humanity, setting aside sectarian loyalties and implementing the highest spiritual aspirations of all religious groups.

Comenius put a great deal of thought into how each of the three representative institutions should rely upon one another, since all three councils are needed to balance the three aspects of Homo Universalis.

"It is not enough that Man should merely be set beside God by bringing him to his everlasting blessedness; we must have him likened unto God even here on earth. Pythagoras was quite correct in defining philosophy as likeness unto God, but he went too far in giving philosophy the whole credit for a result which it cannot wholly achieve by itself alone. Politics and religion must come to its assistance, playing their part in such a way that philosophy likens Man unto God through the light of his mind, religion through the purity of his heart, and politics through control of his actions. This will come to pass if Man has knowledge of good and evil, and wishes only the good and not the evil, and controls himself in his choice of the good and rejection of the evil with all possible zeal." (Comenius, Panorthosia II, Ch. 10, para 40, pp. 168-169)

In order to involve everybody, each citizen can be enfranchised not with one vote, but three. Thus Homo Universalis would vote in three elections, one for the philosophers of the College of Light, one for politicians whose goal is peace, and one for interfaith representatives on the Consistory of Holiness. Each is an expression of an essential part of the heritage of humanity.

The fact that this Consistory was elected by everybody would give it a higher moral authority than any one faith group, no matter how energetic, including the one whose members are in a large majority. This broader mandate allows it to restrain religious leaders from fractious or fanatical behavior, and from inciting followers to violence, parochialism or even "holier than thou" attitudes.

Not only would world citizens elect the consistory but they would also fund it directly through alms and tithing, that is, both voluntary and obligatory payments. This again makes it dependent directly upon the people, yet not beholden to any particular group, religious or otherwise, including the political wing of the world government.

In Panorthosia, Comenius envisioned Consistories of Holiness at every level of governance, each wholly dependent upon their constituents for votes and funds. That way, no particular religious group, large or small, could gain undue influence. There are consistories everywhere, from the family to the global level. So, beyond paying and voting, this ubiquity permits everyone to participate in some way in at least one consistory. No matter what religion or lack of religion we profess, we all still get an equal say in the deliberations of our consistory.

The only doctrine the Consistory of Holiness would openly profess is belief in God. This naturally is because, as global opinion polls repeatedly show, the vast majority of humans believe in God and hold to certain moral virtues and principles that arise from this reverential conviction.

Otherwise, the consistory cannot favour any single belief, dogma or faith group over any other. It represents everybody and is tasked with upholding the rule of law, especially the divine law of love. Its members are sworn to protect minority rights, even those who deny the convictions of the majority. Its only criterion of a good religion over bad is its ability to promote the Golden Rule, according to the principle that, "By their fruits ye shall know them." If a belief contributes to the Golden Rule and the common good, it is praised and encouraged by the Consistory.

In dealing with corrupt religions, the religious parliament would not be without teeth. It can lay down sanctions to limit the harm of those who would put wrong-headed dogmas into action. Like any other government, it can use licensing to uphold standards, most often using a group's tax exempt status as a condition of compliance.


1 comment:

Ned said...

Hello John, I hadn't seen this bit from Walter Cronkite before. Fascinating! It reminds me of a sentence taken from a speech given by David Rockefeller some years ago (1994) at the UN: "We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the new world order."

Thanks again for your insightful essays and blogging.