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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Imaginary gods are really immortal - Andrew Brown

If we see politics as essentially a matter of conflict between shifting coalitions, one of the functions of religious argument is to strengthen and enlarge your own coalition in a way that pure politics, with their suggestion of grubby self-interest and compromise, just won't do. Appeals to theology function to make your position inflexible when it needs be, because they are by definition appealing to a supreme value; but they can also have the opposite effect, when surrender becomes inevitable, they have the further advantage over merely political claims that the sacred text can be reinterpreted without losing any of its immemorial authority. Look at the role that Christianity played first in justifying apartheid, and then in proving the need to demolish it.

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