< Back to front page Text size +

St. Paul as CEO

Posted by Christopher Shea  March 12, 2009 12:14 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Should we date "the birth of a new kind of God, a God of universal love" not to Jesus's time on Earth but to a slightly later period -- when Paul was evangelizing on behalf of Christianity? And might that doctrinal revolution -- the turn to the notion that humanity was one in the eyes of God -- have been partly an entrepreneurial strategy on the part of Paul, who, after all, had to peddle his message to people of different creeds and ethnicities?

Robert Wright says yes to both propositions. (The Atlantic has excerpted a portion of Wright's forthcoming book, "The Evolution of God.") Some Christians may bridle at his argument. Or his analogies: he casts Paul as the CEO of Christianity in its start-up phase, one who used "the information technology of his time, the epistle." But Wright suggests that Paul's example offers hope for our own times, wracked as they are by ethnic and religious divides:

[E]ven for nonbelievers, the scriptures carry a modestly reassuring message, at least when read in light of the social and political circumstances that shaped them: people are capable of expanding tolerance and understanding in response to facts on the ground; and even mandates from heaven can change in response.
wright.jpg
"The Evolution of God"

(If you were wondering whether "God" or "evolution" moves more books, that book jacket would seem to hint at the answer.)

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

 
About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
contributors
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

archives

Browse this blog

by category