When you say "the teaching" is about love and forgiveness, are you talking about Christianity or Paul? If the former, you'd be the one cherry-picking since there's no one core of Christianity. Eastern Christianity differs from the Western kind on this point, as does Gnosticism from orthodox, catholicized and dumbed-down, exoteric Christianity.

Paul is a proto-Gnostic, which is lost in translation and in the catholic redactions and forgeries.

In any case, you're strawmanning my argument. Instead of assigning guilt by association, I lay out an account of the actual mechanism that transfers Paul's obnoxiousness to the Christian fan of Paul's, which explains the obnoxiousness not of every Christian, but of Protestants like the white conservative Evangelicals and the smug, conservative Catholics. Whoever has their nose constantly in Paul's epistles is liable to have his tone and attitudes rub off on that reader, especially if that Christian has conservative, authoritarian leanings. That's just a general fact about reading the same author over and over again.

That's not just a personal attack on Paul, either. I'm talking about the content of his theology, including his account of double predestination in Romans. Defending a monstrous doctrine as though it were self-evident and all about loving and forgiveness is obnoxious.

Moreover, I don't reject all Christianity. I suspect the perennial mystical tradition had an impact on that religion's development (as it does on all largescale spiritual enterprises), but it was mostly pushed underground in the Gnostic and other heretical movements. Christendom as a whole is a grotesque betrayal of Axial Age universalism and of the subversiveness of Jesus's message. (See the Church's handling of the Cathars for the contrast.)

Indeed, Paul's theology is a replacement for Jesus's radical ethics. Is the idea to be Christlike with saving knowledge (elite Gnosticism) or to submit to Christ with superficial tokens of faith (vulgar, exoteric degradation and forsaking of the human potential).

What I condemn is the Christian error of mistaking the exoteric literalism for the esoteric message which is largely psychological. Eastern Christianity is closer to the truth that was recognized by the early fathers of the church, before the movement was thoroughly Romanized and degraded by the imperial patronage in the fourth century.


Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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