The New Priestcraft

“Let the people shake off the shackles with which they are bound by the existing priestcraft . . . and they would soon find teachers enough.” (Editor’s Preface, The Theological Works of Thomas Paine (1830)).

Indeed, wherever Christianity has been abandoned, new teachers have been found, and with these new teachers has come a new and more sinister priestcraft.  From the time of Lucretius, the doctrine of priestcraft has stated that religion is mere hocus pocus, a stupendous fabric of lies and thaumaturgy whereby conniving priests have frightened the peasants and ended each day with a good meal, a soft bed, and a grateful smile from their king.  Thomas Jefferson was a disciple of this doctrine, which he neatly epitomized in this line:

“The riddles of all the priesthoods end in four words: ‘ubi panis, ibi deus.’”   (Letter to John Adams, January 11, 1817)

Wherever there is bread, there is God.  The bread may come as tribute from the people, or as a payoff from the king, but obliging priests will in every case conjure up whatever sort of God (or devil) the customer requires.  In the eyes of a man like Thomas Jefferson, the Christian clergy were just charlatans with a license from the state.

And nowadays our new licensed charlatans are men like Thomas Jefferson, for priestcraft is like the poor in that it will be with us always.  Ubi panis, ibi deus!

Where there is a market for humbug, humbug will be supplied.

These thoughts passed through my mind as I sat this morning in my barber’s chair, listening to the humbug of some priests on one of the morning shows.  Actually, that should be priestesses, since apart from one cowering fellow, all of the humbuggers were gals.  In their televised homilies, these winsome hierophants frightened viewers with hair-raising stories of the snares and wiles of the dark powers.  The dark power of “structural racism” had, for instance, taken possession of a school in suburban Chicago, and there seemed to be nothing the principal or teachers could do to drive it out.  The dark power of “toxic masculinity” was, meanwhile, tormenting women with devils that prevented them from “speaking out” with the abrasive and entitled distain of a man like Brett Kavanaugh.

Whenever one hears the phrase “structural racism,” it seems one also hears the personnel in that racist structure denouncing racism in the strongest possible terms.  By structure, I mean, of course, the policies and procedures of the institution that is said to be possessed by “structural racism” (also known as “institutional racism”).  But since these policies and procedures are the work of human hands, the denouncing personnel are almost always the authors and architects of the structure they find so abhorrent.  It is as if the cooks in a restaurant complained to the customers about the appalling food that came from their kitchen.

It appears that the people who control the school system have very little control over the school system, and this is at first a great riddle.  No one, apparently, knows what policy or procedure causes the “racism,” since if this were known, there is nothing to stop those in control from changing that policy or procedure.  No one is pointing to a reactionary faction within the administration, or among the teachers, and accusing them of defending, or perhaps concealing, the nefarious policy or procedure.  It really does seem like it must be the work of a devil.  Either that or priestcraft.  And,

“the riddles of all the priesthoods end in four words: ‘ubi panis, ibi deus.’”

The homily on toxic masculinity was delivered as a dialogue between two bold and aggressive women, with that cowering chap pretending he was the moderator.  The nub of their argument was that women have been conditioned to meekness, patience and long-suffering, and in laying their argument out, these two women worked themselves into quite a lather.  It is a curious thing to watch a woman on national television give vent to her anger that women are not permitted to give vent to their anger. Both of these shrinking violets wound up shouting that women are given no voice in our culture of toxic masculinity, a peroration that won no nods of agreement from meek and haggard men in that cut-rate barbershop.

Post-Christian America has found its new teachers, but they are not the teachers William Carver imagined when he wrote the Preface to Paine’s Theological Works.  They are priests of Progressivism, and they hound us with their homilies even as barbers trim our nose hairs.  “Priest-ridden” was another favorite phrase of the old freethinkers, but I do not believe that even counter-reformation Italy was so ridden with priests that a man could not be free of them in his barber’s chair.  A pious Styrian peasant under the watchful eye of Rome was not so hag-ridden by superstitious fears of dark powers as are the writhing and wretched victims of the new priestcraft.

ubi panis, ibi deus.’” 

17 thoughts on “The New Priestcraft

  1. Pingback: The New Priestcraft | @the_arv

  2. I have had similar thoughts. The gynocracy where I teach buys into and constantly trumpets the claim that there is an “epidemic of rape on college campuses.” They presumably subsume their own campus under that claim. The “epidemic,” in which “one out of four” coeds will be sexually assaulted, has supposedly been in progress, so to speak, since as long as anyone can remember. If that were so, then the administrators of the university, some of whom have held their posts for a long time, would be criminally negligent in their governance of the institution because apparently they have merely been sitting in their cushy chairs letting the mayhem happen. The mendacity of it makes me sick to my stomach.

  3. Steve Sailer often makes the point that progressives have been running much of the world for a long time, but they have yet to take responsibility for the institutions under their control. The modern university is what Voegelin might have called the “immanentization of progressivism,” so if it has a “rape crisis,” there must be a connection between progressivism and rape. But no, it is the frat houses that really run the university, not the president’s office. I know what Foucault said about capillary power, but I still fail to understand how racism can be powerful if there are no racists in power.

    • My university has invited a spokesperson from the Southern Poverty Law Center to speak on campus this week (on Thursday, I believe). The title of the speech is “Hatred and Extremism: White Nationalism on Campus.” When I read that title, I envision the administrators, all of whom must, by the presumption, be “White Nationalists.”

      Excuse me. The title of the speech is not “Hatred and Extremism…”; it is “Hate and Extremism.” “Hatred and Extremism” would be grammatical; the variant is not.

      I looked up the speech-maker on the SPLC website, which naturally extols her. The blurb declares (I am not making this up) that the person in question “has a degree” from somewhere or other. Yes, “has a degree.”

      The old Gnostics, in Voegelin’s formula, wanted to immanentize the eschaton — that is, build the Kingdom of God in this fallen world. The new Gnostics want to immanentize Hell in this imperfect but morally struggling world so that they can denounce it and drag it further into Hell. Denunciation is the totality of their repertory. (See the Kavanaugh hearings.)

      In defense of the Epicureans — they criticized religion because they identified it with human sacrifice. Lucretius refers early in Book I of his Nature of Things to the sacrifice of Iphigenia at Aulis. Epicureanism is in this way close to Christianity. There is a mystery concerning the Epicureans. They were a dominant school in the first two centuries of the Imperial Age, but after that time they disappear, and rather abruptly. What happened to them? They became Christians. Pater argues this in Marius the Epicurean.

      We are living through the Girardian paradox that Satan delights in expelling Satan.

      • I’m glad I’m not the only one irritated by all the talk about “hate”. To my ear, “hatred” is a noun and “hate” is a verb. I hate it when people accuse me of “spreading hate”. I spread hatred, darn it. Perhaps “hatred” is a bit harder to scream than “hate”. That second syllable is a bit of a let down.

        Exactly. (TFB)

  4. It can be argued that witches necessarily exist within the Christian system. I suppose haters necessarily exist in the SPLC system, even when they do not appear to the senses. Just as the witch-hunters found it necessary to produce a specimen from time to time, so the hater-hunters must perform their sacrifice.

    That’s an interesting theory about the Epicureans, but I’m not sure that I buy it. Epicureanism strikes me as a suicide cult, and this seems to be borne out by the voluntary self-extinction of today’s Epicureans. Judged purely on the rational hedonic scale of Epicureanism, children probably yield a lower return on pleasure than other activities, so an Epicurean generally doesn’t bother. Recruiting new Epicureans is also less enjoyable than reciting poetry in the garden, so the cult dwindles and dies.

    • You are quite right. Epicureanism is a suicide cult. The Epicureans averted suicide by converting to Christianity. They discovered the principle that raising children is supremely gratifying; that in children we overcome death. The suicide rate of parents is much lower than the suicide rate of childless couples. People with children have something to live for.

      “It can be argued that witches necessarily exist within the Christian system.” I.e., college administrators, feminists, multiculturalists, Democrats, and everyone who denounces witches.

      @Bonald. Seconded !

  5. Pingback: The New Priestcraft | Reaction Times

  6. If the “rape culture” on campus were true, one would hear, at a minimum, calls for the return of women-only and men-only dorms. The female students would call for it. The feminist professors and administrators would call for it. The fathers and mothers of the female students would call for it. What father would send his daughter to a school that has a 23% sexual assault rate? As far as I know, no one is calling for it, because they don’t even believe their own propaganda. It’s just another means of proclaiming victimhood and demanding “empowerment” due to victim status.

  7. Just because a school can’t drive out structural racism, doesn’t prove that they have failed or been negligent. It’s not like a vampire where you can find its cause in one evil policy then drive a stake through its heart.

    I think it’s something we co-create with our very thoughts: it happens when a white guy doesn’t message a black woman on a dating site (or maybe he finds black features unattractive). It happens when a teacher or judge treats a black person in a more punitive fashion than they would a white person. It can be measured in the fact that black families have a fraction of the wealth of white families — often living in worse neighborhoods, starting school with less skills in literacy and fewer resources. It happens in the fact that people picture Jesus as white. It happens when a Jewish person won’t even consider marrying a non-Jew. It happens in the fact that Congress is like 80% white and 80% male and 90% Christian in a country whose demographics is not even REMOTELY close to that.

    If I had to say, I think it’s a legacy of colonialism, which never really went away.

    Your argument that that because two women got rowdy on TV, that women are not encouraged to be meek, I can’t even address. That’s like saying that there are two women on TV appear wealthy therefore no woman anywhere is poor.

    I think that toxic masculinity and institutional racism are two strategies by which the wealthy keep us at each other’s throats in a world that isn’t working well for anyone, except the wealthy and even they are miserable, bottomless wells of greed. There may be something more. I spend a lot of time thinking about it, to no real conclusion.

    • When I call these things priestcraft, I don’t deny the phenomena. I deny the explanation and meaning given to these phenomena by progressive priests. If you to showed me a large depression in the soil and told me it was the footprint of a dinosaur, and that we should therefore run away, I could deny your interpretation of the depression without denying the fact of the depression itself.

      I actually agree with your last paragraph, although not with the way you understand it. “Toxic masculinity” and “institutional racism” are instruments of social control, but they do not actually exist. They are boogymen.

      • Well, masculinity exists, and that is “toxic” by (leftist) definition. I sometimes wonder why they even bother adding the qualifier.

      • I would say that men exist, and that certain distinctive properties of men are classified as masculinity. These properties are not evenly distributed, or even universal among males, but they exist only insofar as there are men to bear them. In traditional cultures, these masculine traits are exalted, in our culture they are denigrated. Traditional culture did recognize and condemn excesses of masculinity, so it had a notion that masculinity could be toxic. Traditional culture praised sexual vigor in the male, but it mocked the satyr. It praised boldness in the male, but it deplored rashness. It praised the man who was head of his household, but it condemned the domestic tyrant and martinet.

    • Seth Hall:

      It happens in the fact that Congress is like 80% white and 80% male and 90% Christian in a country whose demographics is not even REMOTELY close to that.

      I think that if you’ll look a little closer at those numbers you’ll find that, for example, “white” is a very broad category when it is convenient to the left. That is why you’ll see sub-categories in certain instances like “non-Hispanic white.” Jews are sometimes counted as whites, other times not. It all depends on what the agenda is.

      Meanwhile, no one in his right mind thinks that Nancy Pelosi and her ilk is a faithful Catholic/Christian, but that doesn’t prevent her from being listed as Catholic/Christian. I could go on and on naming names, but you get the idea.

      There is also the issue of states not being equally represented in the lower house of Congress, which has 435 members. So, for example, in a southern state where blacks make up a relatively large proportion of the (smaller) population vs in a northeastern state where they don’t, then of course the northern state or states is going to overwhelm its southern counterpart with the number of white (vs black) representatives it sends to Congress.

      What I am obviously getting at is that, while the numbers you cite might be perfectly legit in the abstract, you have to look at them closer and take many factors into consideration before forming the conclusions you have formed from them. Otherwise you are, with the common herd, making a huge and fundamental error.

      You might recall the recent teacher’s strikes/walkouts in several of the “red states” at the end of last school year. What was constantly stated in Oklahoma, as the example I’m most familiar with, is that our teachers rank(ed) 49th in compensation (average salary roughly 46K), and we were compared to states like N.Y., where it is said that the state is “very generous” and fair to its teachers by comparison to Oklahoma. What was *never* stated is that Oklahoma is (or was) the third cheapest state in the country to live, and that that fact benefits everyone, including teachers. Hence, one reason (among many) for the lower average salaries. You know, “more bang for the buck,” and all that. What was further *never* stated (except by people like me, who have no real influence) is the relative safety of teachers in Oklahoma compared to other states. I don’t know how you assess a proper value to that, but it worth something. Another factor partially accounting for Oklahoma’s relatively low average teacher pay is the fact that Oklahoma employs roughly 17% of its population in government work, whereas states like Texas (a regional state we were compared to on the issue) only employee 11-12% of its population in government work. Again, I could go on and on about how the teacher’s union in Oklahoma heavily skewered the numbers because they knew the common herd would never look past the 49th ranking and discover for themselves that the ranking means literally nothing in and of itself.

      Bottom line: re-assess what your numbers actually indicate. You might be surprised.

  8. Tyranny cannot exist outside a state of war, and the declaration of war is decried from every television, computer, and phone; then repeated back to us by our friends, family, coworkers, bosses, subordinates, and strangers in the streets. An Otto von Bismarck in every home: while the one contrived to upset the careful balance of turn-of-the-century Europe, these heralds seek to upset the natural balance of civil society. They are actively SEEKING conflict, inviting it upon themselves so as to justify the tyranny they wish to unleash on themselves.

    I remain confident that we’ve got the upper hand, that all their sound and fury will indeed signify nothing. The thing i fear most is reconciliation: All of these poor souls, who are so angry at the “other”, will need to be re-integrated into society when their farce comes undone. Increasingly I have trouble seeing how that will be possible.

    • I’m heartened to learn that someone is confident. As I see it, they are the society, and if anyone will be “reintegrated,” it will be people like you and I being reintegrated into their “farce.” Reeducation was the term the communists used. The men in my barbershop were not cheering for the priests on the television, but neither were they jeering. We are not the voice of a silent majority. We are the voice of a hated minority.

      • In fairness, my worldview is predicated on the one in danger making the most noise. My circle and I are certainly not behaving in a manner consistent with existential threat. The only ones behaving in that way are the one’s on TV and social media, desperately trying to rally anyone to their cause. My worldview is predicated on people being generally good and rational, and anything bad and irrational coming from bad and irrational people; if they can be identified and isolated, then things would make more sense.

        My worldview is predicated on a lot of things that are by no means certain, which is part of why i’m watching so anxiously. I might be obligated to go insane if my worldview was built on sand.

        In any case, I can agree with you when you say We are hated. I think they’d like us to believe we are a minority. We’re certainly not a strong majority, but there’s more people watching and shaking their heads at the new priestcraft than we realize.


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