Genius is not merely a matter of being bright, there are many exceptionally clever people who are not geniuses. A genius is the person who helps us see the world differenly.
Picasso was a genius, after Les Demoiselles D’Avignon we could never look at things as before. Tracy Emmin is one more in a long line of art school graduates who produce a frisson of excitement amongst intellectual poseurs and a yawn in the other 99.999% of us.
Louis Armstrong was a genius, the opening bars of West End Blues are not just sublime music they make us hear things differently. John Cage is a musical chancer who has made a comfortable living peddling unlistenable compositions, the snake oil salesman of the musical world.
Albert Einstein was a genius, after his theory of general relativity we could no longer think in Newtonian terms about time or space. Richard Dawkins is a biologist who employs predestinarian evolution to demonstrate that he is a superior being and the coolest guy on the planet.
However, no matter how much of an impact the work of a true genius has their ideas are gradually replaced. Even Einstein’s work is no longer sacrosanct but is adjusted, tweaked, even denied. The world moves on, especially the intellectual world.
Karl Marx was a genius, after him our understanding of human relations was totally altered. Since the mid 19th century we see the world in class terms. During the 20th century the concept of class dominated every area of intellectual and other endeavour. From history to comedy, from sociology to sport, Marx ruled. The church, late as usual, got into the act with class based theology; black theology, homosexual theology, feminist theology etc.
Marxism is dead and class is not everything. Margaret Thatcher, arch conservative, gained and kept power not by playing up to the ruling class but by appealing to the legitimate aspirations of the working class. Tony Blair kept Labour in power by appealing to the fears of the English middle class.
What is ignored by class warfare protagonists is that worldview or ideology is more influential. What people believe matters more than what people have. Two families, one of whom is rich and the other poor but both of whom are Christian have more in common than two families both of whom are poor but only one of whom is Christian.
The Occupy protesters, vociferously representing the 99% masses against the activities of the rich 1% are not the class warriors they imagine. They share more with the corporations they demonise than they acknowledge. What they are actually saying is “Greed is bad. I have bills, give me your money.” The protesters share the same outlook as the banks and corporations they rightly decry, that material possession are what matters. They merely disagree with how they are distributed.
The corporations themselves realise this. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream have come out to officially support the protesters, and their support has been welcomed. Who owns the ice cream company? Neither Ben nor Jerry but Unliver plc one of the worlds largest corporate bodies. They realise the protesters and their sympathisers are a significant chunk of their market.
Last Sunday we had the painfully progressive Revd Canon Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, telling the Occupy LSX protestors that they could stay in the forecourt of St Paul’s, and also warning the police off. Unfortunately for Giles St Paul’s is a money making operation dependent on tourist income and tourists don’t want to negotiate the tents of protestors. It is reckoned that St Paul’s income in the last few days has dropped by over half. The protesters have been asked to move on for ‘health and safety’ reasons. The corporation which is St Paul’s must think of the bottom line.
Calvin spoke of the Church as the spearhead of the new creation, not as the last man in the circus parade, the one who comes after the elephants with a bucket and shovel. Even if it does produce marvellous roses aping what goes on in the world is no task for the Church.
The Christian church should be the only classless society on earth Galatians 3:26-29. Unfortunately it isn’t. Marxist influenced progressive theologians are as adulterated by political power as their more conservative predecessors. Christianity has become, to a large extent, a religion of conformity, of integration into the prevailing culture.
Thankfully the Church always contains a current which is hostile to political power, that is revolutionary and truly anarchical inasmuch as it breaks with and challenges institutional power. We constitute the alternative society, the counter culture which the New Testament embodies and the world needs.