Christian Church: a noun and an adjective: sounds simple, if you’re not paying attention, have only a common level of imagination.
It sound unambiguous: unless you start to think about all the different churches, all the difference sects … how many very different heresies have been persecuted over a couple of millennia (that likely blur with heresies persecuted long before than!)
Just taking the adjective, “Christian”: let me point out one enormous ambiguity: who is identifying the Christian as a Christian? the Christian? God? a different god? a priesthood? a priesthood for which god?
If I go to NY, to the bureaucracy, if I say I own Central Park, or 666 Fifth Avenue, do they take my word for it? or should I have a deed?
Please don’t proceed with this far until you’ve digested points I’ve long made about the complexity of “Jesus Christ.” I long ago pointed out that “Jesus” is a given name: like Carl, like Barbara. “Christ” in contrast is a title: like President! like Mahatma! So: you must think like “Joe,” the “Messiah.” More recently I’ve realized that Jesus is itself a title: a redundant title: like “the son … of the man.” Seems also to mean “beloved of God”: very complex. “Barabbas” apparently means very much the same “thing”s! But the word pair, “Jesus Christ,” is an oxymoron: something ordinary, “Joe,” shoved against something magical, impossible: “the Christ.”
So: “Jesus Christ” is an oxymoron, a paradox, a contradiction: I’ll argue, shortly, that there are oxymoronic strata in “Christian Church.”
The sub-questions proliferate: are you one of the Christians compelled to be Christian toward the end of the Fourth Century? Are you one of the Christians who destroyed the Library of Alexandria (for a second time!) earlier in the Fourth Century? Are you one of the Christians who murdered Jews at worship? (gathering places, like schools, are such handy killing grounds!) Are you one of the Christians who murdered Hypatia? stoned her? flayed her? Why? because she was intelligent? literate? imaginative? responsible?
Christians in my experience think that the appellation implies innocence; not if you know a little history!
Thus “Christian” is a complex if not an outright ambiguous concept: shouldn’t “church” be clearer?
Maybe, but only slightly.
I began a scribble on this subject yesterday, HATED what first came out. I’ll rebuild.
2012 07 21 I haven’t yet written this half-way well when already I’m itching to do something parallel on the ambiguity of the concept “teacher”: one the one hand there’s the teacher who gets crucified after turning over the money tables, shunned for seeing a satellite around Jupiter, ridiculed for saying doctor’s should wash their hands between operations … and the societies’ kudzu flowers, potato-vine spuds that state-run education cookie cuts to misinform children.
If the Indian says “This is our land”; the Washington whites can spit out white cookies that say to the white children, and to the subservient immigrants, patiently holding their hands out, “This land is ours.”
They don’t have to say it to the Indian children, the Indian children are segregated, off on reservations.
Are you one of the Christians who’d already persecuted the