Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Calvinism is like socialism

I was looking at the Koorong Books catalogue again today. Koorong is Australia's major Christian resource retailer. Now owned by the Bible Society, but used to be owned by Paul Boots. It started out of his parents' garage, I understand, in one of the Koorong Aves.

It then moved to a joined up pair of shops in Ryedale Rd West Ryde. I remember helping empty shipping containers of books when they arrived from the USA on a semi-trailer. Now that's the way to move books!

I think those shops used to be used by the 'House of the New World' a hip Christian mission for youth work. One of my High School teachers had been involved with it and I visited there a few times in the early to mid seventies. Happily I decided not to follow either Alinsky's hate or Hirt's delusional aspects (see the picture).

John Hirt, founded House of the New World

I was young, I was in my Calvinist phase. Happily Koorong is no longer a branch office of The Banner of Truth (I visited the HQ in Scotland many years ago...when I was coming out of Calvinism), but the range has other down-sides in my estimation. Too much empty fashionable books, not enough popular hard-thought works.

One thing Calvinism did was it got me into reading serious tomes about theology and faith. I read a ton of them. I even had Calvin's commentary -- the full set -- and used it to prepare Bible studies.

Calvinism in a way is like socialism. It's a something for the headstrong young, but good to grow out of.

I was a socialist too when young. Uni indoctrinates one into its attractive but superfical beneficence. But I went further. I joined Action for World Development, an organisation with some links to the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, but more links, I think to 'liberation' theologians. It was to the left of Che Gauvara. I met some great people in that group, and some wild ones. I experienced my first house party with co-ed dorms! That was...a little confronting!

I sought books at the Sydney Black Rose bookshop. I read Bakunin, Murray Bookchin and Ursuala LeGuin (her book set on an anarchist planet) and a few other anarchists. I subscribed to the New Internationalist, I read The Guardian.

Then I woke up, and afterwards awoke from Calvinism too.

I had also realised the New Internationalist was a people-hating marxist rag, I realised the only thing going for The Guardian was its tissue paper stock, and that now because it was easy to dispose of: like toilet paper is.

I recently picked up my old Bible marked up with Calvinist prooftexts, but started to read it en genre: that is, like history, poetry, letters, mission accounts (the gospels). I no longer could read the Bible in the arid stoicist style of Calvinists.

Finally, I was full of regret: all the time I'd wasted reading too much Calvinism and too much socialism! Oh that I had read Mises instead of Bookchin. Friedman instead of Bakunin.

But...all under the bridge now.

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