Author Topic: Symphonia with corporations?  (Read 722 times)

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Offline Minnesotan

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Symphonia with corporations?
« on: June 26, 2015, 09:42:28 PM »
Byzantine-style church-state symphonia is pretty much impossible in this day and age.

I'm wondering if anyone has suggested a variant of symphonia in which one or more major corporations would replace the role of the State? Such an arrangement might seem almost ideal in America given how much power businesses have here. Arguably, it's also morally superior to the original version since corporations don't use coercion or violence (at least not ideally), so the Church is not getting its hands as "dirty" as before.

For example, suppose the leaders of McDonald's all suddenly decided to join a particular jurisdiction, with the CEO becoming a sort of modern-day pinstriped Constantine. The company's mission statement is then amended to include its commitment to that church jurisdiction. McDonald's corporation itself starts contributing money to the construction of new churches, and prayers for the CEO are inserted into the liturgy (much as people prayed for the emperor in the past). We can call this the "McChurch" scenario.

There might be far-reaching effects from something like this. The bishops would initially welcome this since they'd have nearly unlimited resources now. But over time, tensions might develop. No one can deny that there were definite changes resulting from Christianity becoming a state religion, whereas previously Christians had tended to view the state as the antichrist. The Donatists resisted these changes and saw them as apostasy, but Donatism eventually faded into irrelevance. Other times, emperors tried to force ideas on the church that ultimately turned out to be heretical and were repudiated later. On the other hand, the church could help fight corrupt behavior by businesses. A modern-day St. Ambrose could threaten to excommunicate any CEO who behaved in an unethical manner.

It's possible that in a hypothetical future in which McChurch has become a reality, the hierarchs might find themselves under pressure to take certain stances that were "good for business". This might not necessarily be a good thing.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Symphonia with corporations?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2015, 09:56:48 PM »
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Re: Symphonia with corporations?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2015, 12:04:31 PM »
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Offline William T

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Re: Symphonia with corporations?
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2015, 03:05:40 PM »
I think those of us who are Orthodox ChristIan in the West ought to really appreciate the freedom of worship concept, and even the freedom to associate with our ethnic heretige.  I don't think pushing for an ultraevangelical "top down" techniques is a good idea.   I think it's the Orthodox job to pray for all civil authorities, not just the Christian ones.  I don't see anything wrong with praying for a benefactor of a specific church.  If you come from a place where one or two business' are responsible for many parshinors, or even the whole cultural area (state, city, whatever) its good to pray for the business and try and work with it as much as possible ... I'm not too sure if praying for a business is allowed in the liturgical prayer requests, it might be.  Even still, it doesn't hurt to bless any business that is welcome to it.

A businessman who wants to take his Christianity serously, wants his business blessed, or whatever, that's great.  I think many big business men have done that.  I think (?) François Michelin who just died and was the head of the tire company bearing his name was very devote in his Catholicism, and used it in all aspects of his life.

Anyway I think a "Christian" business model would resemble something closer to the red cross or a Christain Hospital or school;  Something that serves everyone, and would hire people who were not necessarily Christian.  I think part of this is implied in the way we usually approach our work.  In order to be a good "Christian Doctor", you have to be good at being a doctor ... you don't come up with some crazy "Christian" system.   Paul was not a "Christain" tent maker, he was a tent maker.

As far as what "symphonia" was and how to contextualize it, that's an interesting topic.  I'm not too sure how well it can translate literally to any modern analogy, nor do I think there is no real reason to try to do any kind of "ultra literal" revival of that concept..it would probably yield very bad results (like maybe Nazi bad).  Many of these "good" concepts tend to have subversive bad side to them.  Maybe if "symphonia" is good, "Ceasaropapism" is the subversive attack on the concept? The modern point to take home is that the church can not be a mouthpiece for secular concerns be it political, business, or otherwise.  That spells Trouble, with a capital "T" for the Church, it always has.  This isn't even a Christain concept though, a quick look at Hebrew scripture shows themail same philosophy..  Heck, pagan writings and myths do it too.   How many pagan kings fell to their hubris in tragedies because they took their secular  authority to be the highest office?

If you push me on it, I would probably say the marriage of Christianity with the Hellenic and Ancient world is a "symphonia " that was secular in temperment.  At least to some degree, the secular world even today, whatever major faults and distortions it may have, still probably reflects "symphonia" (or at least some of the better aspects of it) in a way that reflects the Christian "worldview" reflected from the time of the Apostles, to the Ecumenical Councils, down to the present day.  I think a Christain approach to high political structures is working with the tools you have available, and doing your job well and honestly....that's a kind of "symphonia" too.  There is no reason why a businessman, scientist, president, school, or whatever can't or shouldn't look to Christianity for guidance if it wants, and there is no reason not to expect if they take it seriously there work won't be blessed.

Regardless of all this, if you consider business to be on the same level as civil authority, I think the Orthodox position usually considers that a high office not to trifle lightly with.  King David, Nero,  Czar Nicholas II, Lenin, Gandhi, George Bush, Barak Obama are all "anointed" and God's insturments, that's a serious point to deal with.  If you think symphonia translate to business, that aspect of it is part of the package.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 03:11:36 PM by William T »