How could the Christian Church, apparently quite willingly, accommodate this weird megalomaniac [Constantine] in it's theocratic system? Was there a conscious bargain? Which side benefited most form this unseemly marriage between church and state? Or, to put it another way, did the empire surrender to Christianity, or did Christianity prostitute itself to the empire? It is characteristic of the complexities of early Christian history that we cannot give a definite answer to this question.
If Paul brought the first generation of Christians the useful skills of a trained theologian, Origen was the first great philosopher to rethink the new religion from first principles. As his philosophical enemy, the anti-Christian Porphyry, summed it up, he 'introduced Greek ideas to foreign fables' -- that is, gave a barbarous eastern religion the intellectual respectability of a philosophical defense. Origen was also a phenomenon. As Eusebius put it admiringly, 'even the facts from his cradle are worth mentioning'. Origen came from Alexandria, the second city of the empire and then it's intellectual centre; his father's martyrdom left him an orphan at seventeen with six younger brothers. He was a hard working prodigy, at eighteen head of the Catechetical School, and already trained as a literary scholar and teacher. But at this point, probably in 203, he became a religious fanatic and remained one for the next fifty years. He gave up his job and sold his books to concentrate on religion. he slept on the floor, ate no meat, drank no wine, had only one coat and no shoes. He almost certainly castrated himself, in obedience to the notorious text, Matthew 19:12, 'there are some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake.' Origen's learning was massive and it was of a highly original kind: he always went back to the sources and thought through the whole process himself. This he learned Hebrew and, according to Eusebius, 'got into his possession the original writings extant among the Jews in the actual Hebrew character'. These included the discovery of lost texts; in the case of the psalms, Origen collected not only the four known texts but three others unearthed, including 'one he found at Jericho in a jar'. The result was an enormous tome, the , which probably existed in only one manuscript now lost, setting out the seven alternative texts in parallel columns. He applied the same principles of original research to every aspect of Christianity and sacred literature. He seems to have worked all day and though most of the night, and was a compulsive writer. Even the hardy Jerome later complained: 'Has anyone read everything Origen wrote?'<em/>
This was all very well: Columbanus's success indicates the appeal of his mission. But his activities, for the first time, brought the nature of Celtic monasticism firmly to the attention of the Church authorities -- to western bishops in general, and to the Bishop of Rome in particular. The Irish monks were not heretical. But they were plainly unorthodox. They did not look right, to begin with. They had the wrong tonsure. Rome, as was natural, had 'the tonsure of St Peter', that is, a shaven crown. Easterners had the tonsure of St Paul, totally shaven; and if they wished to take up an appointment in the West they had to wait until their rim grew before being invested. But the Celts looked like nothing on earth: they had their hair long at the back and, on the shaven front part, a half-circle of hair from one ear to the other, leaving a band across the forehead.
His (Lenin's)humanitarianism was a very abstract passion. It embraced humanity in general but he seems to have had little love for, or even interest in, humanity in particular. He saw the people with whom he dealt, his comrades, not as individuals but as receptacles for his ideas. On that basis, and no other, they were judged. He judged man not by their moral qualities but by their views, or rather the degree to which they accepted his.
Men are excessively ruthless and cruel not as a rule out of malice but from outraged righteousness. How much more is this true of legally constituted states, invested with all this seeming moral authority of parliaments and congresses and courts of justice! The destructive capacity of an individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and the destructive capacity necessarily expands too. Collective righteousness is far more ungovernable than any individual pursuit of revenge. That was a point well understood by Woodrow Wilson, who warned: 'Once lead this people into war and they'll forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance.
Marx wrote about finance and industry all his life but he only knew two people connected with financial and industrial processes. One was his uncle in Holland, Lion Philips, a successful businessman who created what eventually became the vast Philips Electric Company. Uncle Philips' views on the whole capitalist process would have been well-informed and interesting, had Marx troubled to explore them. But he only once consulted him, on a technical matter of high finance, and though he visited Philips four times, these concerned purely personal mattes of family money. The other knowledgeable man was Engels himself. But Marx declined Engel's invitation to accompany him on a visit to a cotton mill, and so far as we know Marx never set foot in a mill, factory, mine or other industrial workplace in the whole of his life.