Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

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"Do you understand what I have just done to you?

"I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another's feet". ( John 13:14)

In Jesus' own time, whilst He was still with them, the disciples quarelled with one another about who might have greater authority. In a way, that is entirely to be expected. They were trying to respond to a tremendous experience, the unsettling life of this exceptional figure and the part they might play in furthering His message. It demanded radical changes, a conversion of life, though how, in what way, to what end? And they were still human. Little wonder that the disciples squabbled about their roles.

Christians have a disastrous tendency to come to blows, witnessed to by the tragic fact that within two years of the emperor Constantine converting, and making Christianity  the official religion, Christians started persecuting one another to the death. This happened easily within living memory of Christians themselves being bloodily persecuted by the anti- Christian emperor Diocletian.

When Christianity became the religion of choice for the powerful, the struggle over meaning was compounded by the struggle for authority. The property and possessions that belonged to a now empire- wide institution were at stake. To tap that wealth meant you had to serve the institution, which, it hardly needs saying is not necessarily the same thing as serving the inspiration left by the founder of Christianity, Jesus.

 The vitality of the spirit can readily be confused with the vitality of the organisation, but whereas the former celebrates the virtues of faith, hope and love, the latter will reward abilities to do with management, loyalty and clout. After Constantine, theologians did not seek the spirit so much as patrol the border of belief. By donning the old imperial purple, popes showed that heaven was a place on earth, and they were in charge. (Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials).

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