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Xian is a 2008 non-fiction book by Sylvia La Some. The book mixes a critical evaluation of world religion and history with a kind of combined planning document and manifesto for La Some's cult-religion Xianity.
Xian recapitulates several themes from SRL's earlier works, including a critical examination of "Western exceptionalism" (apparently as canonified in "The Gambler", and even as she argues in favour of a kind of hyper-individualism in which society is responsible for uncovering and fostering the "unique nature" of each of its citizens) and a vigorous denunciation of "Infinite Punishment" (and in particular the "logical calisthenics" required to justify being happy in Heaven with loved-ones in Hell).
The book includes three main volumes:
1. Who's Civilisation?
SRL makes a "rational assessment" of "Christendom" and "Daralislam" along eumetic lines (including a controversial verse-by-verse comparison of the Qur'an and both the Old and New Testaments assessing content which violated modern International Human Rights Law), concluding that she could more readily trust "the future of the planet" to the latter. (La Some formally accepted the Sufi faith in August 2007, eight months before Xian was published.) She does, however, praise the Jefferson Bible.
2. The Ethics of Eumetics
3. Blueprint for a Faith
Using the conclusions from the first section and the techniques from the second, SRL proceeds to draw up a blueprint for a "eumetic religion". This volume provides much of the canon dogma of the religion.
Christianity as Eumetic Religion
La Some proposes that Christianity is a failed world-scale eumetic religion, designed by Constantine to consolidate Roman power. She cites the "deification of the prophet" as a distinction from other faiths (analogising Roman customs of king-worship), and attacks the doctrine of eternal reward.
Controversially, in her discussions of her doctrine of "the personal god", she suggests the use of a focus for worship, regardless of the Xianist's "public faith". Despite the fact that La Some teaches that the focus should not be regarded as in any sense divine, but merely a channel for worship, these practices have been described by Xianism's critics as being very close to classical idolatry.
Quotes from the text
- "In the current milieu, it is clear that adopting a 'Socialist economic system' will negatively impact on an economy. Thus, a different approach is the only one which can ever be successful."
- "The extra-judicial proclamation of the Waite court in Santa_Clara_County_v._Southern_Pacific_Railroad represents perhaps the greatest challenge to collective activity ever presented."
- Representative democracy
- SRL critiques Western democratic tradition, favours "bureaucratic governance". Nods to China's "potential".
- Specific criticism of Abraham Lincoln
- Critiques the setting of a precedent for the expansion of executive power (eg. blockading of ports, freeing the slaves, implementing the draft), as well as for "engineering a holy war which cost three quarters of a million lives". Presents argument that isolated Confederate slavery would have lasted less time and caused less pain than the Jim Crow period did.
- "Adhimmi and the Rule of Law"
- "Self-directed magical thinking."
- "You're not a snake riding a monkey, not the fairy magic animating Pinnochio; you are your body — even if Jimminy Cricket doesn't seem to get it."
- "Humour is the failure of empathetic comprehension. It's often the outsider's misconstrued (or contrived) observation which makes us laugh: embarrassed that we hadn't thought of that ourselves, and that we might appear that way to others."
- The Market
- "The market is, like violence, a last resort for incompetents. Competitionism is a religion built by those who were unable to believe anyone could do a better job of anything than they could."
- "Belief in The Long Boom and similar fundamental shifts in the cyclical movement of the stock market is essentially eschatological."
- Value Sinks
- Although widely regarded as naive, La Some's economic analysis in Xian is oft-quoted. Her lengthy discourse on the concept of collectible goods as "value sinks" is reiterated in the use of art auctions and trade in virtual goods in her fiction.
- Eternal Reward and Punishment
- "Designed as a tool of Statehood, the meringue in the sky, "best thing you could ever imagine times infinity" hand-waving vagueness of Christian Heaven — which has justified thousands of millions of pointless, joyless lives — is fundamentally anti-individual. Were it the case that accepting the Rule of Gold guaranteed Heaven, what's going to have to happen to our psyches to allow us to bathe in the eternal sunshine of the baby Jesus while people we've loved, or even people we've never met, are in Hell? Will it actually be us in Heaven, or some kind of re-created, mindwashed angelthing cavorting ecstatically before His Throne while parents, children, siblings, lovers and friends writhe and vainly beg mercy, far below?
- see also Apocatastasis
- "As such, rather than relying on the antique customs of punishment and reward, a modern eumetic religion must justify itself from within."
- Free Will
- And how do we justify millennia, generations, countless millions of lifetimes of relentless suffering? Free will; karma; fate? If God is Omniscient and perfectly Good, that's blame-the-victim hate speech. But maybe it's all somehow a test — like Mengele at Auschwitz. Or is this Hell?
- La Some discusses the Logia as possibly giving rise to "It is Better to Give than to Receive".
- Note Marcionism and discussion of idea that OT God was incompatible with NT Jesus