Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mind of the Bible-Believer (prefatory note)

I never got around to writing a full review, but here's a fragment adapted from a post written 30 June 2007:

[In May 2007] I began reading this weighty, demanding 400-page tome (17 May - 3 June):
Cohen, Edmund D. The Mind of the Bible-Believer. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1986.
It will take some effort to fully digest it. There are several comments on the web, and a couple of mini-reviews from the Christian opposition as well as from liberal Christian semi-sympathizers, but there is only one real full review from the atheist camp (accompanied by the lyrics of a Zappa song), summarizing the Christian techniques of mind control:
"The Mind of "the Bible-Believer": a critique of the book by Edmund D. Cohen (Positive Atheism)
From other people’s criticisms, it seems that these are the main areas in which to evaluate the book:
(1) the schema of mind control techniques
(2) the psychological theories adopted by Cohen
(3) Cohen’s account of the history of Christianity, in general and in the USA
(4) Cohen’s thesis that the founders of Christianity fully intended to engage in mind control.
Cohen’s sympathizers are most sympathetic to (1), and most critical of Cohen’s take on (3) and (4).
My position going into this: I myself am not in a position to judge (3). But I am on the lookout for the incorporation of sociological factors. Psychology in isolation from sociology cannot do the job. Perhaps Cohen’s account of the conditions of the Roman Empire in which Christianity was generated will prove insightful. Perhaps Cohen will have a good explanation, as he purports to, as to why Christianity was so successful in penetrating all different types of cultures.

I still have not evaluated the book after reading it. There’s a heavy-duty Freudian and Jungian preparation, before an immersion into a couple hundred pages on the New Testament’s mind-control techniques. I will return with a more detailed critique.

1 comment:

Sweet Virago said...

I read what you said about Cohen explaining how Christianity spread to so many different cultures then wondered .. what different cultures? I am thinking of back when it started up. Wasn't it all pretty much European culture; each slightly different societally but culturally, but still, fairly much the same? For centuries, some form of paganism ruled the hinterlands and marginal areas; on the African continent prior to Islam, and to this day, animism or some other form of 'paganism' remained. It never caught on well in Asian culture, in the Pacific Islands, or in the circumpolar regions, or in indigenous American culture. To me, I have this mental image in my mind of European-like areas where it started, and circled outwards, but still remaining mainly on the European continent, some of its marginal areas/islands,and then eventually to the US (and wherever missionaries went, taking it in by force or with food, or whatever else they could bargain with). I want to read what Cohen says! Thanks for the ref!