“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.’”