Thursday 16 May 2013

Christoyannopoulos' Christian Anarchism - a Rebuttal

Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, Christian Anarchism. A Political Commentary to the Gospel.
Abridged Edition.
Imprint Academic, P.O. Box 200, Exeter EX5 5 YX ₤17-95.
A Rebuttal

Anarchism is a multi-textured movement. Though; strictly speaking the word only means lacking in Archons, a kind of priestly judge who was concerned with the customary ethical code that underlay the law & constitution; Kropotkin showed that throughout the ages people have spontaneously cooperated, and that from the time that the division between rulers & ruled emerged such division has been resisted by the ruled; and that from very ancient times those who engaged in such resistance & such Mutual Aid have been called anarchists. Many who were so called, people like Arnold of Brescia, who presided over small local egalitarian republics, were very far from what we now consider anarchism, but nevertheless there have been periodically in history movements that did not rely on leaders; which modern anarchists normally regard as our forerunners.

Anarchism as a modern political philosophy is generally said to have arisen in the Nineteenth Century; it arose within socialism, which early on divided three ways:

  • Utopianism – which looked for a powerful patron to sponsor or impose a socialist society;

  • Marxism (state socialism) – which rightly said that workers' liberation could only come from the workers themselves, but then went on to say that those workers should create a workers' state, which would in due time be so asserted that it became irrelevant (aufheben), giving way to a free workers' society;

  • Anarchism – which shared Marx's first premise, but argued that for workers to surrender power to any state, however much the government might be recruited from the class, would be to create a new ruling elite, which would

  • inevitably become as exploitative as any other.

    As time has gone the divisions between marxism & anarchism have been modified; on the one hand there are those of our number who become lured by career prospects & join the state socialists; on the other anarchism is constantly refreshed as dissident marxist groups arise, forced by their experience to question the idea of the workers' state, and then gravitate to us. Moreover, two mass movements, syndicalism & council communism, have originated as fusions of marxist & anarchist groupings; curiously, while syndicalism is now universally regarded as a tradition within anarchism, councillism is regarded as marxist. A process of adaptation that will undoubtedly continue. So there is a large overlap, & much of the anarchist case, over the years, has been argued in marxist terms.

    There are definite areas of political activity which were neglected by post-Marx marxists, & which were reintroduced to socialism by the anarchists, notably feminism, war-resistance, libertarian education & psychology, concern for animal welfare (vegetarianism) , & environmental (ecological) concerns. These threads clearly visible as part of the weft of the fabric of anarchism, are interwoven with a warp of resistance & the essential aim of the self-liberation of the mass of exploited peoples, but just as clearly are strands of marxist-derived theories. Bakunin, normally seen as the founding theorist of modern anarchism, was a fiery atheist; & so atheism has always been the dominant trend within anarchism, but there have always been anarchists active within the movement who did not share that attitude. Occasionally also small
    strands that stand outside it – generally the christian socialists who Alasdair MacIntyre once said were heretical christians & wishy washy reformists.

    Intentionally or otherwise this book seems like an attempt to co-opt christian anarchism to the ranks of the Utopians; it is highly selective of those it calls christian anarchists, dogmatically laying down what constitutes christian anarchism on the basis of the views of this selection, &, even then,
    it takes the words of notable militants out of the context of their actions, resulting in much misrepresentation. I should add, to be fair, Christoyannopoulos does in his introduction (p. 10) make clear that he has been at pains to distinguish the current he describes from other forms of
    christian social liberationists; but does not explain why, since many of these others called themselves christian anarchists, he presumes to arrogate to the current he describes the sole right to the term; particularly since the whole weight of the anarchist tradition is against such a selective usage of the term.

    He claims to be the first to write about christian anarchists, saying that they have never previously constituted a coherent current. No doubt if he had chosen a different name for his particular tradition of christian anarchism that would be fair; but let me say at this point for the record, Carl Pinel, in 1965/6, launched the London-based Christian Anarchist Group, because after years of being told that anarchists had to be atheists, he wanted a group that would unite differing traditions of anarchism, would discuss our theories & differences. Because we were spread all over the country he used the minutes of the group's monthly meetings which later became λογοσ to extend the debate to those who could not attend. Carl, as it happens, wanted to cast the net very widely & wasn't entirely happy when the majority of us who joined insisted that it should only be open to christians who were active in the secular anarchist movement & associated campaigns. He subsequently left the Church & became chair of the Manchester branch of the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB).

    No doubt much of the trouble arises from the demands of academia, everything the doctoral student says has to be backed by quotations from written evidence, so, unless there are convenient biographical notes, or unless the student happens to come across reports of demos, campaigns, the launching of cooperative ventures, free schools, . . . . , which are all more difficult to find than opinions; (&, anyway, may be regarded as irrelevant to a thesis centred on opinions;) the views may get taken out of context, & so inevitably distorted. Also, since one needs to conform to a certain length, it is easier if one can narrow the subject of study, so as to be able to study a little in depth, rather than scraping the surface of a large field.

    Moreover, (though with honourable exceptions), the academic mind is almost programmed to dismiss the actions of the educationally unqualified; when a social worker goes into an area of poverty or racial tension, to set up a new facility, that to the academic is right & proper; when the inhabitants of the area do it themselves that is subversion. Anarchism is about just such subversion, whether on a large & flamboyant scale or a small & unnoticed one, it is about ordinary people doing things from themselves. Naturally enough, a student hoping for a doctorate tends not to emphasize this distinction. But I cannot say that I think this wholly excuses the book's faults. I should declare an interest. I am an anarchist who happens also to be a christian. I was indeed an ordinand (candidate for the priesthood) when I first moved from marxism to anarchism. Though I have always been more active in secular anarchist work than in faith-connected; I was, in the early fifties, when the earlier British & Irish contacts of the Catholic Worker movement had given
    up distributing its paper, the main – if not the sole – distributor, then, in 1961, briefly assistant secretary of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship; &, in the late 60s / early 70s, secretary of the then Christian Anarchist Grouping, editing its paper λογοσ, whose subscribers included two archbishops, Tom Roberts S.J., formerly archbishop of Bombay, & Trevor Huddlestone, C.R., of the Seychelles; a third, Michael Ramsay, Cantuar, used to borrow copies from Ken Leech.

    The Introduction

    In the introduction the author sets out a list of those he views as christian anarchists; whether he has only heard of a few or whether he has chosen to exclude the vast majority (not regarding them/us as anarchists, or perhaps not as christians), I obviously cannot say. Either his research must have been fairly limited, or his book is distorted by pre-judgement. He confines himself to modern anarchism & so excludes Winstanley & the Diggers (doesn't even mention the Ranters).

    It's not absolutely clear how he defines “modern”, but he does mention (without including) Godwin (though not Wollstonecraft nor Holyoake). He doesn't see fit to mention that Godwin was a Sandemanian (a small leftist offshoot from calvinism), which excludes his comments on the politics
    of Original Sin. “You say there must be governance because men are not good enough to rule themselves; I say there must be no governance, because no man is good enough to rule others”. Whether the omission is through ignorance, or whether it is because Godwin's views rather conflict
    with the somewhat manichean views attributed to Tolstoi I don't know.

    Exception is almost made for Peter Chelcicky (a contemporary of the anabaptists, like them originating from Huss's (1) followers), but not for the anabaptists themselves; the waldensians & the albigenses are mentioned but only to be excluded, the beghards, beguines, & fraticelli do not get a mention. (Which I suppose at least avoids the problem of whether those Franciscans mentioned by Langland & Froissart, who “taught men of Plato, & proved it by Seneca, that all men were created equal”, were in fact fraticelli). It doesn't include Fr. John Ball: “Things will not go well in England, until all things be held in common”. Nor does it include St Basil: “All a christian man's goods, surplus to his immediate needs, belong, as of right, to his needy brother”. Nor yet many others such.

    When talking about the biblical (& associated) authority for anarchist views he tells us that, except for David Mumford, very few christian anarchists are concerned at all with the Old Testament, which means that he does not cover the Year of Jubilee (every fifty years land was returned to common ownership, all slaves, captives & debtors freed, all debts remitted), nor comment on Prophets who denounced the rich “adding field to field, gold bar to gold bar, & withholding the just wages of the labourer”, nor mention the statement: “To succour the sick & the needy, to visit the captive in his prison, to take arms to defend the widow & the fatherless, this is to know God”. He does, it is true, mention the Epistle of St James; (one might have thought that in this regard he would also mention the Dead Sea scrolls & the Qumran community); he mentions neither umawim nor ebyonim.

    Given that syndicalism (probably the largest single tradition of anarchism) was founded by a melding of marxist & anarchist currents & given that from his writing he appears more at home with American politics than any other, & so presumably has heard of the IWW, & knows something of its origins, his exclusion of all mention of marxist thinking is particularly bizarre.

    Both Connolly & Larkin were active in the States, coming back to Ireland to found socialist industrial unionist parties, which, though marxist, certainly interacted with anarchism. By the same token Christoyannopoulos doesn't include Fr Conrad Noel. He distances christian anarchism from liberation theology & black theology; (going so far as to say that, whereas these make much of the Exodus, christian anarchists do not; had he studied more strands of christian anarchism he would have found this to be untrue); so, the fact that many leading theologians in both liberation & black theology paid tribute to Noel as a fore-runner, & that they corresponded with (&, if visiting London,
    visited Fr Gresham Kirkby, chair of the christian anarchists) is no doubt for him irrelevant. I do not know if it was Headlam, Noel or some other that first called the Exodus “the first brickmakers' strike”, but this term was common currency amongst christian socialists (both anarchist & marxist)
    from before WWI, & was still used in the 1960s (in the late 1940s Fr Stanley Evans – then still a stalinist – incorporated it in a catechism used for christian socialist converts). The founders of liberation theology acknowledged a debt to christian socialist writers adopting a lot of Noel's writings, & their liturgical thoughts owed much to Gresham.

    People, especially Americans, wishing to know more of Conrad Noel or Stewart Headlam will find good biographies written by John Orens, published in the USA. It might also be worth their while to read Fr Hastings Smyth's Manhood into God. Fr Smyth founded the Society of the Catholic Commonwealth, which he modelled on Noel's Catholic Crusade. Our author also doesn't mention Michael Davitt, &, given that Michael Davitt's “Land & Liberty League” was probably the first mass anarchist movement in the United Kingdom, that the sixth issue of the journal Land & Liberty - published in London after the British authorities had forced Michael out of Ireland – has a claim to have been the first anarchist journal to be published in England, that Michael went to visit Latin America where the “Tierra y Libertad” movement then sprang up, so that it is probable that he played a seminal part in his, & that this in turn had an
    influence on Zapata & the present day Zapatistas (also, of course, not mentioned); that too is a little weird.

    Christoyannopoulos doesn't even mention Fr Hegarty, who provided the IWW with its proverbial wheel & incorporated the three stars (the secular trinity “Organization, Education, Agitation”) in the Union's masthead. Hegarty had been in touch with Fr Stewart Headlam, an English Anglican priest, who had had those stars as the masthead of the Guild of St Matthew, a libertarian christian socialist group, centred in his church in Bethnal Green, London, and affiliated to Morris's Socialist League.

    Both Morris & Headlam are also not mentioned. I am aware that Steve Coleman in his biography of Morris claimed he was an atheist, despite his
    involvement in church affairs. It may be that Christoyannopoulos has read this & thought that that meant he was not relevant. Coleman said this on the basis that Morris did not go through with ordination because he had reservations about three of the thirty-nine articles. A somewhat curious definition of atheism, considering that the articles were intended (while dismissing as superstitious the beliefs that were generally accepted only a generation before the articles were written) to steer an orthodox line, avoiding a number of contending heterodox beliefs.

    If I may intrude a personal reminiscence: at eighteen I was taken to a diocesan ordinands' meeting at Farnham Castle. I too then had reservations about three articles, & worried about it. So, when presented to my bishop I duly told him. Learning that I had not yet been to theological college he replied: “Young man, when you have been properly instructed you will question far more than three articles. Personally I doubt if there are three I could endorse without qualification”. Not entirely reassured by this, I was to raise the matter with professors at my then intended theological college (Kelham) & at my CACTM (selection meeting); the former pointed out that the 39 articles are a compromise; like all such they are internally self-contradictory, & said: “anyone who thinks they agree with the lot hasn't bothered to read them”; whilst at CACTM they pointed out that Anglican priests are only asked to give general assent to the broad tenor of the articles; then one commented: “two thirds is a good average”.

    Though Morris resigned from the League (to found the Hammersmith Socialist Society) because he could not go along with the actions of the dominant faction, there is no evidence that he abandoned a belief in the sort of anarchism he describes in News from Nowhere & Dream of John Ball. He remained active in a wider movement, & still financed Commonweal. Then, when this collapsed, the two Rossetti girls (nieces of Dante Gabriel – their father, William, edited the Democratic Review & republished Tom Moore's poetry) used the printing press to publish Torch in parallel to Kropotkin's Freedom, bringing in a wider audience & a number of literary writers,
    amongst whom Oscar Wilde, whose Soul of Man under Socialism was based on Kropotkin's writings. Headlam had resigned before Morris but the Guild of St Matthew had remained a major force for libertarian socialism.

    Simone Weil, who, though she was never finally baptized, was nevertheless regarded in the post WWII years as one of the major catholic theologians of the day, who was one of the editorial group
    of Révolution Prolétarienne & went to Spain to fight for the CNT, is also not mentioned. As she was both a well-known writer, & someone who made major sacrifices for the cause this is extraordinary.

    Fr Hegarty was laicized & he married; it is sometimes suggested that because he was excommunicate he must have been condemned for heresy. No doubt, the hierarchy thought him a nuisance, but he was never accused of theological heterodoxy; similarly, whereas our author implies that Ammon Hennacy, who left the New York Catholic Worker & moved West to launch the Catholic Anarchist, was a non-church christian in that he was excommunicate for remarrying when divorced; he was not in any church, but the name of his paper suggests a desired affiliation; as they say: “the clue's in the name”.

    Christoyannopoulos mentions Thoreau & Mounier as influences on Tolstoi & Maurin, but doesn't apparently feel any compulsion to recount what their views or actions were. True, neither were happy with the term anarchist, nor yet christian anarchist, but nor was Tolstoi. He tells us that William Lloyd Garrison was an anarchist for a few years, but doesn't mention Sojourner Truth, who did not change her views. He says that Berdyayev rejected the association with christian anarchism - in one book he does, but in Freedom and the Spirit he said that anarchism was the nearest approximation to an authentic political expression of christianity. As one comes to expect in this
    book, we are told nothing of Berdyayev's role within the wider political scene, of the fact that despite his early break with bolshewism, despite the stalinist regime's various denunciations of him, he nevertheless inspired Fr Oliver Fielding Clarke & other christians within the post-war British Communist Party, an influence that reached beyond that narrow base & had reflections after Suez-Hungary.

    Christoyannopoulos makes no mention of the fact that Dorothy Day, before she teamed up with Maurin to found the Catholic Worker, was an official of the Socialist Party of America, a party of which she was certainly still a member in the 1950s, no mention that Ammon had been in the IWW (when he moved West he called his new “house of hospitality” the “Joe Hill house of hospitality”). No mention of the fact that Ammon published a book on individual revolutionaries, seeing really genuine state socialists of the stamp of Eugene Debs as being in a very real sense anarchists. No mention that Michael Harrington was simultaneously secretary for the N.Y. Catholic Worker & national secretary of the Independent Socialist League. That coupled with the fact that for obvious reasons of space our author had to be selective about his quotes, means that inevitably their views are only given partially.

    Their involvement in civil disobedience is only given in chapter 6 (the last before the conclusion); certainly it is mentioned before that they played a part at the heart of the peace movement & the black resistance of the 1950s & 1960s; but their role as pioneers of post-war civil disobedience does not come over. Nor do the tensions within their movement over such tactics.

    Though Ploughshares gets several mentions in chapter 6, & one earlier, there is, for instance, no mention of the Berrigans; none of Trident Ploughshares.
    There seems to be a consistent trend to avoid any thinker or thinking which inspired & was reflected in mass movements; thus, though the Catholic Worker gets much mention, & the fact there is now a Mormon Worker modelled on it, no mention is made of the cooperation in the wartime & immediate post-war years with “Liberation”, a grouping round A.J.Muste, drawn primarily from the Fellowship of Reconciliation which largely gave rise to CoRE, which in turn inspired Martin Luther King & the Montgomery bus strike.

    That avoidance coupled with the academic insistence on relying on quotes means that activists who were not by & large writers only get mentioned if our author happens to have come across a biography, which seems to be a rare event. Anarchism &, a fortiori, christian anarchism attracts quite a lot of self-denying individuals who do not necessarily ever put pen to paper to produce a full theoretical statement of their beliefs (may indeed never finally decide on a label, so never call themselves anarchist), but may nevertheless, whether in conversation or as a side-effect of their main work, provide others with theories; & this does not come over. So the book never mentions Fr
    Michael Scott, Will Warren, Oliver Mahler, nor a host of others such whose activities gave Christian anarchism relevance.

    When Christoyannopoulos is talking of Tolstoi he mentions the Quakers & he mentions the Purleigh Community, but he does not mention that a little earlier those who were to found Purleigh – as also those who founded Whiteways – had left the Quakers because the Society of Friends was then dominated by Quaker-industrialists, to form the socialist Brotherhood Church. It was in one of the latter's churches that the Russian socialists held their conference at which they split into bolsheviks and mensheviks. The Brotherhood Church was to split in various ways, one section survived as a commune near Pontefract until very recently, playing a notable part in the wider peace movement & in local social issues; they had shown admirable courage in their refusal to cooperate with the authorities, &, where Tolstoi had defied local authorities using his aristocratic privileges as a count, they did it risking & frequently suffering state penalties.

    Not having mentioned Noel & Headlam it is, I suppose, hardly surprising that he avoided going on to consider Chesterton or Belloc & the Christendom Group, but given that the Chester-Belloc leadership abandoned christian socialism (at first for distributism and later for fascism) at first producing a curious mixture of tolstoian ideas and catholicism, this omission is somewhat
    reprehensible. (Others in the group left rather than follow the rightward trend, but only Gresham Kirkby subsequently played any significant role on the left.)

    Nor was that the only time that Tolstoi's ideas had such a harmful effect. My predecessors – at the end of the 1940s – as distributors of the Catholic Worker had centred round Fred Law; as it happened, though Fred Law abandoned anarchism & verged on the anti-semitic, he drew back from the full expression of this.

    Though at one time Christoyannopoulos refers to one writer as affirming non-resistance, and at another to Thoreau & civil disobedience, he makes no effort to describe (outline) the differences between those who take literally the injunction “Resist not evil” (non-resisters) & those of us (nonviolent
    resisters) who see the Way of the Cross itself as a form of resistance & who would argue that Jesus's life contains examples of a multitude of forms of resistance, so that the (non-resistance) injunction must be modified in the light of these. A lack that has quite a lot of bearing on the current book, since it later deals with the Council of Nicaea & supposed compromise with Caesar on the issue of military service. Also relevant, given, as he rightly says, that Tolstoi was unhappy with the cross as a symbol of christianity. Not only was Tolstoi a non-resister, not a non-violent resister, but he somewhere defined a pacifist as one who would not knock a machine gun out of a lunatic's hands
    in a crowded room. I have only ever met one pacifist who would accept such a definition of pacifism & say that that was a morally sound position. The divide here between Tolstoi's position & that of most pacifists is as deep & wide as that between pacifists & militarists.

    Christoyannopoulos quotes Dave Mumford & Ronald Sampson, but there is no account of their activities. Dave's mother was a leftist, lecturer in theology (he used to bemoan the fact that, whereas others merely had to cope with their parents complaining about their involvement in leftist campaigns, he had a mother who was more radical than himself, & complained if he wasn't involved). He was active in the Committee of 100 while at Oxford, came to the Witney Anarchist Group meetings while at the same time in the University Young Liberals; was one of the founding group of the Christian Anarchists, & it was because of his many contacts that the “Stop the Seventies Tour” campaign first came together. He has constantly remained involved, serving for a time as international secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

    Ronald – though he would have insisted he was a Tolstoian, even to the extent that he eventually distanced himself from most of the contacts he made in the Committee of 100 – was a non-violent resister (active in the Committee of 100 & in local social issues). Certainly, like Tolstoi, he wasn't entirely happy with the term anarchist, indeed viewed anarchists as just another species of powerseekers (he wrote a fiery denunciation of a Freedom editorial, in just those terms), & only called himself a christian anarchist when he was able to state clearly what he meant by the term. But while he insisted that he was Tolstoian he was far more active in the politics of the day than Tolstoi had been. Somewhat more principled I suspect, no doubt he didn't have the option of waving his aristocratic credentials, but he resigned his lectureship not thinking it proper that he should work in a department of government. Younger pacifists who had the chance of studying under him raved about the clarity of his thinking.

    Stephen Hancock & Keith Hebden (founder & reviver of A Pinch of Salt) are listed as christian anarchist thinkers but again no suggestion is made of a role within a wider secular movement. Given that Stephen, while publishing Pinch of Salt, became co-editor of Peace News, & that his circular letter regretfully announcing Pinch's demise, talked of the fact that he was then, by & large,
    sole editor of PN, & the consequent pressure of work, I would have thought that that was relevant.

    Bas Moreel is listed, which must surprise him. Bas is certainly a former christian, at one time preparing for the priesthood, but would insist that, while he is still interested in religion & has written about religious anarchism to counter the much held opinion that anarchism and religion can't go together, he is no longer a believer. There is no mention of Ken Leech, the most prolific christian socialist writer of our day, accepted – despite his revolutionism – as a leading Anglican authority on social issues; Ken is /(was
    when younger) at the boundary between anarchism & trotskyism (a fairly highly populated boundary area), so, no doubt he doesn't meet our author's definition; Ken's biography of Fr Gresham Kirkby published by the Anglo-Catholic History Society, 24 Cloudsley Sq., London N1 0HN, in 2009, is essential reading for any serious student of christian anarchism.

    The pity being that Christoyannopoulos nowhere gives his definition of christian anarchism we cannot see why so many are excluded. There is also no mention of Seamus Cain, whose Minnesota grouping carries on Ammon's fusion of syndicalism with txhe Catholic Worker tradition. Yet, while christian anarchists who are involved in the wider socialist movement are constantly omitted, the book includes several “anarcho-capitalists”. I confess I have never studied “anarchocapitalism”, & so am not really competent to discuss this trend; the only “anarcho-capitalist” I ever met used to publish a paper called Freedom Review; after a few years it announced it had become
    the official paper of the Society for Individual Freedom (a proto-Thatcherite & anti-immigration bunch of hardcore Tories). Its policies certainly reinforced the state (particularly the Secret State).

    Present Prime Minister Cameron's Big Society claims something of the same heritage; & that becomes manifest in that when people wanted to celebrate a royal wedding, he offered to sweep aside bureaucratic impediments; if however workers want to defend themselves with union activities he talks of increasing the already draconian anti-TU legislation. A question of “if you want
    to do what I want you to do I'll make it easy, but don't think of doing what I don't want”. That seems to be a recipe for dictatorship, not anarchism. As I say, I haven't studied other “anarcho-capitalists” but people I trust have, & I am not convinced that any of them have any right to the label anarchist.

    I suppose it was inevitable that Gresham Kirkby is omitted, he was too spiritual for the Church, & too anarchist for the anarchist movement, though, as our author has a few pages on theories of the Kingdom of God, & as the only article(s) Gresham ever completed was/were on the Kingdom, that is a pity (he rewrote the article six times). Those who have read λογοσ will have come across other articles signed by him; they were in fact talks he gave, he then passed me his notes for me to turn them into articles, & I fear my writing is not as inspirational as his talks. Gresham was certainly no major anarchist militant, though it was inspiring to go to a church where it was a commonplace for either Gresham or Fr John Rowe to apologize at the beginning for the absence of the other who was detained in prison following civil disobedience. Prior to Trevor Huddlestone a succession of bishops of Stepney dismissed Gresham as just a drunken slob, & outwardly that was true, but even that had its uses in a Church where people regard their church as a place from which they stay away. People (mainly dockers) from all over a large area of East London knew Gresham – certainly as a priest who liked a pint or six – but I lost count of the number of times that one such, knowing I lodged at St Paul's, would stop me & tell me that, when they had been at a low ebb, they'd walked home with him after closing time, & that he had
    given them a new belief in their own worth, & a reason to carry on with life.

    Other than the Kingdom of God (which for Gresham was a complete form of anarchism) & his involvement in peace, anti-fascist & other socialist issues, Gresham's great interest was in worship & the sort of buildings necessary. I knew when I lodged with him that he was in touch with liturgical experts at San Sulpice (2) (those who created the Missa Normativa), but I assumed he had merely followed their directions; it wasn't till 10 years later when one of these people of San Sulpice happened to be staying with him at the time of our monthly christian anarchist meeting that our guest told me that at least 60% of the work producing the Normativa was Gresham's. I knew
    also, when the church was being built, that its young architect was being acclaimed for its revolutionary design, a design he himself attributed entirely to Gresham. I was there soon after a neighbour called over to Gresham saying “your church looks like a nuclear bomb shelter” & was stunned when Gresham replied: “That's what it's meant to look like”. In an age menaced by the
    Bomb the Church needed to reshape itself to prevent the worst, & it was right & proper that a building should symbolize this.

    Christoyannopoulos does not seem to feel himself constrained to remark on the fact that, apparently, neither Tolstoi's wife nor any of the former peasant-tenants with whom he joined in a commune, seem to have written or said anything that our author wanted to quote. Two of the tenants (I recall) in fact reappeared in other sectors of the Russian left; but the absence of supporting
    testimony for Tolstoi's ideas from those who supposedly shared his libertarian lifestyle is disturbing, suggesting paternalism.

    Even Oneida, despite the controversies amongst its former members, produced supporting accounts. There is not the excuse that the Catholic Worker (& in London, Cable Street, Anglican Franciscans) might have had, that people came to it down & out & needing to sort out their problems (enough of these, in fact, stayed on & wrote).
    I hope I have demonstrated that there is a spectrum of involvement in mass action & theories that is very far from that which Christoyannopoulos recounts; & that the views of those he quotes are often not quite what he suggests. No reason is given for the exclusion of major activists, nor for the
    selective quotes from writers; but nor is that all, for no suggestion is allowed that those who are mentioned may also have had wider affiliations.

    Chapter 1

    Chapter 1 is on the Sermon on the Mount & the shorter Sermon on the Plain. Though our author begins by conceding that all christians view these as the summation of Christ's social & ethical teachings, he then changes tack to claim that they mean something quite different to those he calls
    christian anarchists; & it, of course, hinges on Tolstoi's literal take on “Resist not evil”.
    This is bound up with the belief that the, until then perfect, Church did a deal with Constantine the Great & became corrupted. Christoyannopoulos does not ask why, if the Church was previously perfect, it was prepared to do such a deal; but that was a very common belief amongst 19th & early 20th century leftists. It was taken for granted by atheist writers, & so, for instance, appears in Willie Paul's normally excellent “The State – its Origins & Functions” (Willie Paul. 1917, Socialist Labour Press, page 81).

    The fact is there was no deal. Constantine certainly wanted to do a deal & did ask the Church:
    (1) “Are there occasions when a christian might resist? (not necessarily violently, nor even illegally)
    (2) “And can they therefore serve in my army?“
    In effect he got the answers:
    (1) “The majority of us – on this there is room for two views - believe yes, under certain very clear conditions.
    (2) “No, they can only do it to attain social justice, & that's not what your army is for, but they might resist
    Hardly a deal.
    The conditions included:
    - That more justice should result from the use of coercion than would otherwise maintain;
    - That all less coercive means had been previously tried; (it should be stressed that the coercion mentioned might well be less than violence);
    - That one should only embark on a coercive struggle if there was reasonable certainty it would succeed in a short term;
    - That no non-combatant, nor unwilling combatant, be harmed.

    Our author quite rightly later attributes christian views on war to St Augustine, who watered down the Nicaean rules, to create what is generally now accepted as the Church's rules on the bellum iustum; he does not see that this negates his claims about Constantine (though it should be remembered that even in St Augustine bellum should be translated to cover any struggle, even getting up a petition would have been included, certainly strikes & civil disobedience, so that the reasons for such bellum being iustum are not necessarily those that would appeal to modern politicians. It was, of course, later authorities who went further than St Augustine in turning St Basil's rules upside down, & introducing the provision of “lawful authority”.
    Paradoxically Christoyannopoulos then quotes some of his authorities – mainly those he considers “supportive thinkers” rather than anarchists – who argue that Jesus's illustrations of nonresistance (Matthew V, 38-42) are moral jiu jitsu; they may indeed be, but if they are, the nonresistance command is more nuanced than Tolstoi thought.

    Christoyannopoulos quotes Wink on the proper translation of the Greek word translated as “resist”, & he comes down for the traditional civil disobedience argument, but that, as he partially concedes, is emphatically not what Tolstoi argued.
    Our author rightly points out that Tolstoi is not totally consistent & that other pacifists differ. He might have added that non-resistance is two-edged; there were many conscripts who went to war because they felt refusal would constitute resistance, indeed in many churches, not a few in my communion, priests or pastors did argue in exactly those terms, refusal to go to war when called was ungodly resistance to authority; in effect “if a government compel thee to kill for it one man kill for it twain”.

    Our author retails christian anarchist views on the lex talionis (eye for an eye) as if they were remarkable if not unique, but by & large the interpretations quoted would not be unusual even in the most conservative Church circles. Certainly, all pacifists apply Christian precepts to relations between states, as well as relations between individuals, & this differentiates the pacifist (let alone the anarchist) from conformists; but that hardly merits this treatment. The argument then segues from condemnation of war & violence to that of the state, & the fact that “War is the health of the State” comes over well, as Christoyannopoulos quotes Ammon: “All governments – even the best – were founded on the policeman's club, upon a return of evil for evil, the very opposite of the teaching of Christ”. This is followed by sections on the cycle of violence & on overcoming it with arguments which will be familiar to any Guardian reader, & would hardly surprise a moderately conservative Church wo/man. Few such would deny that the state, & churches that readily co-exist with states, fall short of the Gospel ideal.

    Similarly there are few surprises when it comes to “Judge not that ye be not judged” nor “Swear not at all”. Most people accept that those are the commands, but assume that they are only given for people's personal lives; & when the civil law says otherwise, the “duty to obey” overrides the Sermon. They know that, while they might not keep the commands, Christ has said that they should not condemn their neighbours for this or that transgression. However, conventionally it is assumed that this command does not apply to state or other authorities (just as it is assumed that “thou shalt not kill” only applies to ordinary social relations). Just as all pacifists take the command against killing more literally than is normal, so it is hardly surprising that anyone using the term “anarchist” should deny the state's right to override the command against judgement. Curiously, our author does not mention that several sects – including the Quakers – which would not be described as anarchist, used to forbid their members to take part in trials; & that despite the 39 articles similarly nonanarchist Anglicans have exercised conscientious objection to serving on juries or witnessing on oath. (The articles are not binding on the laity.)

    Again our author takes it that observing that state actions fall short of “loving your enemies” is remarkable. I think he underrates the normal teaching in quite conformist churches & chapels round the world. I was 9 when WWII began. I can remember that virtually all churches had sermons on the matter, & well known churchmen had articles in the papers, though obviously I don't remember, indeed never knew the contents in detail (3). Some no doubt were weasel-worded attempts to say it didn't apply; far more would have said that we had to accept that our country was in part to blame, & that we were not free of that command. Mervyn Stockwood (hardly an anarchist!) was nearly prosecuted for sedition for stopping Bristol traffic for a couple of hours when he preached on the matter in the centre of town; & one Anglican village attempted to burn its church down after its vicar told it that this rule meant that they should pray for Hitler.

    Christoyannopoulos takes the same approach when he comes to the Golden Rule (“Do unto …. as you would have them do unto you”). He rightly says that this is almost universal, found in all the great religions & philosophies. Though curiously he doesn't record the fact that Rabbi Hillel, who lived only a little before Christ, is generally credited with this Jewish form - “do not unto others that which you would not have them do to you”. There's much in the Gospels to suggest Christ was familiar with Hillel's teaching & it surely says something about Christ's thinking – about sins of omission as well as commission – that he rejected the negative form as inadequate. But once again, while it is hardly controversial that states fall short of the moral standards of the Mount, & while no doubt it is incumbent on a christian anarchist to produce a political code that lives up to it it, it is a big leap to say that the Sermon leads immediately to anarchism.

    Our author goes on to have three pages on “Be not angry”; the fact that Tolstoi, like the Hindus, denied the possibility of righteous anger, so damning the OT prophets (if not Christ's own clearing of the Temple) does not come over as clearly as it might in the context of others arguing on meaning - & snippets on “commit no adultery”, “seek no praise”, the Beatitudes, “worry not about security”, & “be the salt & the light”.

    His next topic is fulfilling the Old Law; he does not take it in the spirit of Christ's “to show that the sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the sabbath ...”, but at first he quotes Elliott & Ballou, who seem to have made heavy weather of the matter. We are told that unless the Old Law is abrogated “it would carry us back & bind us hand & foot to Judaism ...”. Then turning to Tolstoi we are told that Tolstoi accuses the Church of deliberately misleading christians by pretending that “fulfilment” should mean that the Law of Moses remains binding. When/If Tolstoi wrote to that effect the Russian Orthodox Church was persecuting a judaizing party within its ranks & that persecution was spilling over to produce mass anti-semitic pogroms. Though less orderly than the Spanish Inquisition it was perhaps even more bloody. So it would have been dishonest, remarkably purblind & insensitive to say that that was what the Church was doing.

    The record on the matter is fairly clear, St Peter at the Council of Jerusalem persuaded the Church to admit gentiles; St Paul, at Antioch, “withstood Peter” & as a result the gentile converts were not expected to fulfil the Mosaic Law, but only the older Noahonic Law; even then there were schisms, the Churches outside the Roman empire retaining the Mosaic Law as a desirable aim, & those within it arguing that this created two tiers of christians & was divisive; then St Cyprian (or by some accounts Novatian) forced through a definite rule that the Mosaic code did not apply; finally the Holy Office in the West, & later the Holy Synod in Russia actually made it heretical to keep any part of the Mosaic code, but certain rules on hygiene & incest were kept.

    Our author from these premises calls the Sermon a manifesto for anarchism; certainly a large section of the 19th century Brotherhood Church so regarded it. Studying it, & contrasting it with what goes for conventional morality must indeed incline any sincere Christian to question the latter. So it is hardly controversial to say it is a manifesto against existing politics. But it is taking a large step on from there when our author begins the next chapter: “Christian anarchists develop their critique of the state primarily from their interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount”; (in fact in my experience most such became libertarian socialists through their understanding of the Trinity, saw that that could only be attained by anarchist rejection of the state, & only then found confirmation of their anarchism, & a strategy (or perhaps criteria for judging strategy) of how to achieve the aim, in the Sermon & elsewhere). Moreover our author doesn't consider that the code he has produced deals solely with sins of commission. Starting from the Sermon might lead (indeed frequently does) to a purely pietist inward turning and not be manifest in positive anarchist activity.

    Chapter 2

    The second chapter turns to other biblical exegesis; while the third is "The State's wickedness & the Church's infidelity”. It is stressed that the author sees such points as purely secondary & believes that such a view is held by all christian anarchists. Our author at the beginning of the second chapter is tripped up by his desire to equate the views of the Catholic Worker with those of a number of people who, though not fundamentalists (since they turn to gnostic & other noncanonical sources), nevertheless insist on a literal reading. This has the danger of leading to (perhaps confirming, since they use gnostic texts) a dualist outlook, setting the morality of Christ against that of JHWH. He appears unaware that most biblical scholars, whether christian or jewish,
    accept that much of the Pentateuch, & some of the rest of the OT, was written before the jews became monotheist (i.e. when they were pagans). The Decalogue decrees “thou shalt have none other God before me”, not “beside me”, & there is abundant evidence in the text that the jews believed other tribes had other gods; see, for instance, the fact that JHWH identifies himself to Moses as the “God of Abraham & of Isaac”; and there is archaeological evidence that at first there was no insistence that temples to Baal be destroyed. No doubt, as the jews became monotheist, they found spiritual worth within those old pagan writings; but the history is that of a pagan people. One has only to read the prophets & look at the Talmud to see that long before Christ the jews were making a distinction between a sound moral law & that history of paganism.

    That said, Christoyannopoulos is very right in showing that, when the jews asked Samuel to give them a king, that was an act of rebellion against God; for in the tribes around them the kings were demi-gods, and their very existence was a mark of paganism. The fact that there was a compromise, & the jews did adopt a monarchy was paralleled by the fact that, to the disgust of the prophets, the worship of Baal existed alongside that of JHWH; there is archaeological evidence that in early days there was an altar to Baal in the very temple of JHWH. However, our author follows Tolstoi in devaluing the Old Testament; and for the most part only mentions his favourite writers' views that this or that OT text supported an anarchist case, in order to say that the case has not been fully made. Not until he comes to Dave Mumford does he concede that any have a serious argument. It is perhaps no accident that, unlike others quoted on the OT, Dave has an history of actual involvement in the movement.

    When his writers cite evidence that the coming of the Messiah was foreseen as a politically revolutionary event, they are hardly saying anything unusual. Certainly, conventional churchmen will say “though it was foreseen as revolutionary & political, Christ disappointed them in that he refused to take the road to power”. That is precisely that he took the anarchist road, rejecting power.
    Our author comes to the Temptation in the Wilderness (Matthew IV). For anyone who thinks about the claims of monotheism (Triune or otherwise) these are temptations that God must have met before time began. Saying God is all-powerful means he/she/… could have made a universe evolve where no-one hungered; he/she/… could (through a series of magician's tricks) have so impressed his creation that all behaved in an exemplary way; he/she/... could have acted as a tyrant using force or trickery; but had that been the case there would have been no free will. Creation – particularly as we know it in human creation – would have been valueless. Whether these pre-Big Bang temptations really were reproduced during the Incarnation or whether Matthew was inspired to take a vision of eternity portray it as if it were in history, we cannot know.

    Our author's chosen writers (he doesn't quote anyone from the Catholic Worker here) however prefer a semi-gnostic interpretation; for them Satan had powers on this earth, independently of the powers of God, & so was able to try to bargain with God. This is no place for a polemic against manichaeans but, however pure the practices of the Cathar-perfecti, the other-worldly implications of gnosticism hardly strike me as anarchist.

    In the next session “Exorcisms & miracle healings” one writer, Myers, is credited with having made a detailed analysis if symbolism, which is, unfortunately, not quoted in sufficient detail for comment. Once again, when it comes to forgiving seven & seventy times seven, our author makes what would seem a conventional discussion about a text read as if it were extremely eccentric.
    Perhaps, when it comes to not judging each other, it is. Conventional morality, as said before when considering judging as a state act, accepts that a literal implementation of this is intended in day to day ordinary life, but takes it for granted that the state is able to override this. When it comes to clearing the Temple our author quotes Michael Elliott as regarding as conservative the view that Jesus was moved to righteous anger at the defiling of the shrine. But this is to accept a conservative view of a distinction between religion & politics; the shrine was the place where a religion that still recalled the Year of Jubilee, where it was still taught that to feed the hungry, to visit the captive & the afflicted, to take arms to defend the widow and the orphan “this is to know God”. To a religious jew the House of God was the House of Social Justice; the fact that the Temple-state made it no longer so suggested usurpation & one has only to read the Qumran documents to put that in context.

    Our author concedes that “for some” christian anarchists “love is confrontational”, against which he instances Dorothy Day, but if, as he says, she opposed this she must have changed since the 1950s. There is the usual discussion as to whether Christ was violent; the APF once published a pamphlet in which it examined the Aramaic text & showed that the “whip” was a somewhat flimsy one which would not have been adequate for use for anything more than token droving, a view which accords with a more robust interpretation than those our author favours.
    Obviously, since our author appears to view anarchism merely as an extreme form of pacifism, (they do, of course, overlap but it must be remembered that not all anarchists are pacifists, any more than all pacifists are anarchists, & that is as true for Christian anarchists as it is for secular ones) he is at great pains to reconcile the instruction to sell cloaks to buy swords with the counterinstructions “put up thy sword”, “those who live by the sword die by the sword”. Whereas one of his writers reasonably points out that when two swords were shown Jesus he said that is enough, & given that that would hardly have sufficed for defence, that is a way of begging the question. Our
    author, however, recomplicates the matter by quoting Tolstoi as re-translating the passage as “get knives”. Needless to say that Tolstoi didn't think Jesus was advocating a proto-Sicari movement, but merely thought that He had not then made up his mind; which hardly tallies with the context. Even Ammon Hennacy is quoted as hiding behind an excuse - “Jesus was tired”, while Ellul argues that it was done just to fulfil a prophecy, which would suggest he thinks Jesus gave into the methodology of the wilderness temptations.

    When it comes to Jesus's trial it apparently does not strike our author nor the authorities he clearly quotes (for though in one of the notes there is a reference to Dave Mumford, there is no actual quote) that having been incarnate, that is having accepted the limitations of being human, Christ would have renounced that human status had he suddenly turned round when condemned by the Temple authorities, & used divine powers to free himself. (Given that the Temple authorities maintained a modicum of Jewish independence under Roman rule, which forced them to subdue any Zealot likely to provoke Rome into tightening its authority, as well as opposing Herodians & others who might be happy to give Rome more power, obviously all opposition had immediate political impact.) But that pales into insignificance beside that “let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt”. The incarnation could only be complete with that acceptance of human power; it is not for nothing that christian Gandhians see civil disobedience as an attempt to follow the Way of the Cross.

    Given that the Greek for “pagan powers”: αρχαι would also serve as the plural of “archon”, & therefore “anarchist” can serve for opposing both it is perhaps not surprising that for Jesus's crucifixion we are once more treated to a mish-mash of gnostic views instead of the plain reading. It may well appeal to New Age terms, since it transfers Jesus's struggles from the earthly political plain to a semi-magical sphere, but it is not anarchism as Kropotkin knew it. Hardly surprising that Christoyannopoulos goes on to say “one struggles to find any mention of the resurrection in Christian anarchist writings”. Since he has disavowed as anarchists all those who actually believe in anarchist social revolution, that may be the case; I would, on the other hand, struggle to find many Christian anarchists who have not said something on the subject, though I must confess it's a topic on which I doubt if I have ever said anything original; it would be difficult to be original on such a matter, but that is testimony to how many others have written on the subject.

    Chapter 3

    Given how states routinely act to channel goods & money from the poor to the rich, given the way that governments (both openly capitalist ones & ones that claim to be socialist) bring in laws to prevent workers standing up for their rights, while turning a blind eye to the tax avoidance of the rich, given that states are always judgemental about the actions of other states saying “we have to go to war to restrain “them”” when the actions of the “them” differ at most in degree from the actions of the “us”, it might not be thought it would need anything much to say why anarchists oppose the state. Then there are enough examples of incidents when the Church has failed to condemn this hypocrisy, indeed examples of Church complicity, that that too could be argued fairly simply. Chapter 3 should be a simple direct statement. What, however, comes over is far from this.

    Christian socialists (anarchist or otherwise) have normally held that the Church is both a divine & a human institution; in the latter respect & in the words of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (“Concerning the service of the Church”) “There was never anything by the wit of man so well devised, or so sure established, which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted”; but in the former respect, as Christ's earthly body, there is that in it which, despite the corruption of the earthly nature of the body, gives it the hope, grace & power to renew; it will never be totally corrupt, though at times it has gone near it; it will not be until the revolution (God's kingdom on earth) totally pure; then, since “in the Kingdom of God there is no need of a Temple”, it will disappear.

    The writers our author likes follow a different tradition; so Chelcicky is quoted as labelling the pope as antichrist and a Church Council as “an assembly of harlots, assassins of righteous men & transgressors of all commandments of God”. Another talks of the Church of Satan, & Tolstoi is quoted as saying the Church contains the greatest enemies of the christianity it professes.
    No doubt, those who have studied the writings of the 17th century puritans will recognize this sort of language. It is curious that our author does not at any time refer to or quote those puritans (ranters or muggletonians, let alone later writers in their image such as Blake) who might arguably be seen as anarchist. Most of the puritans, however, were very far from anarchism, &, as our author doesn't consider the 17th century, he doesn't see a need to discuss what makes for the difference. Nor does he note that another tradition spoke in such terms: those were the descriptions of the cathars, taken up from there by the early free masons, & continuing within masonry – to which Tolstoi adhered; it is not a tradition that one would normally associate with libertarian or egalitarian politics.

    Chapter 4

    Christoyannopoulos comes in chapter 4 to the two quotes most often argued against christian radicals: “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13) & “Render unto Caesar” (Mark 12). In neither case does our author refer to what seem to be the most effective responses. Having neglected to consider Conrad Noel it is, I suppose, unsurprising that our author neglects the most
    significant factors concerning “render to Caesar”, but it is rather surprising that he then confuses the matter by amalgamating the issue with the Temple tax (Matthew 17).

    Conrad Noel had this to say on these statements:
    During St Paul's life more than one, perhaps five, Roman emperors were assassinated, with, at least for a time, the assassins wielding power in their place. Unless God is seen to be remarkably prone to change His/Her/... opinions, it is unlikely that all were there at the will of God. It seems likely that this Paul's advice was a counsel of caution. Paul was writing from prison (where his letters may well have been censored) to a persecuted Church; a modicum of discretion can be expected under such circumstances. As the authorities our author quotes point out, Paul had not always obeyed the powers that were; indeed, he had elsewhere written about how he had defied them. But all this is to take a far too literal approach to Paul.

    Several theological lecturers have pointed out that Paul's Epistles often – if not always – take the form of a rabbinical Pipul. People wrote (indeed still do) to renowned rabbis saying that they have difficulty in deciding what to do in the light of this or that quote from the Torah (OT) or earlier rabbinical decision. In reply the rabbi quotes the text cited and then argues the case taking into consideration context & the wider weight of scripture, frequently reaching conclusions varying widely from the literal interpretation of the quoted passage. Paul had trained as a rabbi, & as such was sent by the Temple authorities to Damascus. Naturally, he would – after the Damascus road conversion – have put that training to the service of the Church; which is why there are many passages in Paul that appear outrageously in conflict with the faith he taught, & which are indeed modified by the rest of the chapters in which they occur.

    1. Devout jews did not carry money with Caesar's image; that was a graven image; to own it at all would be sacrilege; Rome had accepted this for the normal judaic currency, & had issued an especial coinage for Judea, which did not bear Caesar's image.
    2. At about the time of Christ's birth there had been a rising of the jews – led by Rabbi Matthias – when Herod had affixed a Roman eagle to the Temple gates. The Romans & the Herodians had learnt their lesson, & there were strict orders not to repeat the provocation. Pontius Pilate had been rebuked early in his governorship for failing to exercise this caution.
    3. Normal taxes to the tetrarch or governor were paid in this other currency lacking Caesar's image.
    4. There was, however, an additional tax – the Tribute – which was paid by certain very rich people in a few selected trades, trades such as swine-keeping, none of which were permissible under Jewish law.
    5. Even the normal Judaean currency was not supposed to be taken into the Temple; though it didn't have the idolatrous image it was still regarded as impure (no-one, to this day, would carry money with them when they went into the synagogue), which is why there were money-changers in Temple courtyards.

    The questioners asked about paying Tribute to Caesar because it meant using a graven image. The fact that to be liable to pay the Tribute meant that someone was already breaking Jewish law was being ignored by the questioners. Jesus, not being engaged in such business, had never seen the Tribute money. “Show me the Tribute money”. Lo & behold, they were able to produce the money, the graven image, within the Temple! Naturally, Jesus had never previously seen it: “Whose head is this?”. Well, if that is Caesar's head it has no place here, “render” (give back) “to Caesar that which is Caesar's”.
    The message is clear, & bears no relationship either to that which comes in most sermons – even liberal ones – or to the authorities our author quotes: If you are engaged in commerce forbidden to the devout, if you are an idolator ready to defile the Temple, don't come to me for an excuse to avoid the consequences of your actions.

    It hardly seems necessary to say that the issue of the Temple tax was quite different. Whereas no devout Jew would have needed to pay the Tribute, paying to the Temple would be a very different matter. Jesus's mendicantpreacher role might not have equipped him to pay, but there would not have been the same conscientious objection. That said, it is only necessary to refer to the Qumran texts & other Essene writings to see the Sadducee/Zadoccite party was split, so that the Essenes did not recognize the current Temple authorities.

    Christoyannopoulos only then turns to the matter of how to resist the state; having ignored the vast majority of christian anarchists he is down to Eller, who opposes civil disobedience, & others who advocate non-violent direct action; here he makes more of tax refusal, conscientious objection to military service & refusal to go to court than of other matters. Given that most people have taxes deducted before they receive money, tax refusal is generally only an option for the relatively rich; much the same would apply to refusing to go to court. Curiously, when it came to conscientious objection Christoyannopoulos did not go into details as to whether people should go before a Tribunal or, indeed, should register, a matter that used to divide the pacifist movement.
    He makes the large claim “Christian anarchists do not favour any overthrow of government”.
    Given that an anarchist is normally defined as one who works for the overthrow of the system of government without wishing to substitute another, that is a fairly surprising claim. Less surprising but equally inaccurate he says: “Jesus very clearly distanced himself from the Zealots”. Given that of the Twelve the second Simon was described as a Zealot, & that most commentators, noting that Kerioth was an hotbed of the Zealot movement, assume that Judas was also one, the distancing was not as clear as that; certainly – pace Eisenman & others – he almost certainly did not use the methods of the Zealots, probably thought their methods would only result in a new elite rule, but he did not distance himself from the Zealots themselves.

    Fr John Rowe (initially a member of the Society of the Catholic Commonwealth founded by Hastings Smyth, a pioneer of the creation of worker priest communities in Britain, once Gresham Kirkby's curate) pointed out that the division amongst christian socialists between those who supported reformism & revolutionaries usually matched their vision of what happens at the altar at
    Mass. Those who think that this is only symbolic, think society can only be reformed, while those who believe consecration brings the Real Presence of Christ, believe in revolution. They are used to seeing a revolutionary transformation performed by a perfectly ordinary (wo)man, & if that can happen revolution is not as impossible as it may seem.

    Chapters 5 & 6

    Chapters 5 & 6 deal with witness (collective & individual). Though, fortunately, the account is given character by his references to the very courageous work of the Catholic Worker & its various off-shoots & the influence on it of Gandhian thought & methods, this is spoilt where our author
    produces a theory which is a mixture of Tolstoi's utopian desire that rich men should adopt his philosophy and found egalitarian communes (he does at one point admit that where they did they were hardly libertarian) & his gnostic one of constructing a counter-Church.

    The Conclusion

    Perhaps not surprisingly the Conclusion chapter tells us that we shouldn't be calling ourselves christian anarchists, that we shouldn't be actually working for anarchism (whether by non-violent resistance or whatever) but leaving it to God's good-time, i.e. the whole thing should be removed from the human (political) sphere & entrusted to the realm of the miraculous. That for many of us is a denial of the value of the Incarnation.

    (1) Jan Hus (c. 1369 – 1415), often referred to in English as John Hus or John Huss, Czech
    church reformer.
    (2) In the U.K. a usual writing for the Parisian Saint Sulpice.
    (3) Some readers may be surprised that a 9 year old boy had such broad knowledge of what was going on in his country, but Laurens Otter grew up in a family that was keenly interested in what was going on in the country and at major events read a large number of papers.

    Laurens Otter, College farm House, Mill Lane, Wellington, Salop, TF1 1PR, U.K., Autumn 2011.
    Retyped Spring 2013 by Sebastian Moreel with some minor modifications.
    Reworked for publication at this site by AdR