A number of years ago I was curious why Christians have such a long track record of vicious brutality. What drives them to mug the Samaritan and leave him for dead by the side of the road? What is the source of this thuggery?
In order to answer the primary research question, I started to look into Christian literature. Augustine of Hippo (nothing to do with the fat river denizen) popped up in a number of texts. That led me to read his memoirs and his magnum opus inspired by the sack of Rome. This was the answer to my research question. Augustine was the source of degradation within the Christian tradition. Further research proved that my first impression was incorrect. Augustine was only one in a long line of charlatans going all the way back to the days of Peter, Paul, and Judas.
Still, Augustine gives us an idea of the degrading mechanisms of charlatan theology. His work is replete with techniques for exploiting people by abusing sacred texts and creating false paradigms. He rightly ridicules Pagans for believing the fabulous stories of criminal deities, but he asserts that the fabulous aspects of Jewish tradition are absolutely true. He recognizes the spherical nature of the Earth, but he abuses Jewish legend in order to rationalize the Church's flat-Earth dogma denying the existence of the Antipodes. He recognizes the existence of figurative meaning in sacred literature, but uses it to buttress literalistic despotism.
One of our students pointed out that the difference between Augustine and Jesus was that the latter learned from Pagans. Augustine expended a great deal of ink in condemning the works of Pagans that could have given him insight into the mission of Jesus. Instead, Augustine became just another Pharisee. It is no wonder that other Christians of his own day considered Augustine to be a crook. He was a con-artist who did a disservice to Jewish culture, the work of Jesus, and especially the people he successfully deceived.
Augustine places his City above the earthly urb. It seems to me that the earthly city deserves more credit. There is a higher polity, but we will not experience it by following the lead of Augustine. His sheepish facade poorly masks his canine features.
After a few hundred years the Vatican eventually recognized the value of Galileo. Do you suppose they will ever recognize the viciousness of Augustine?