In early 16th century Germany, a Blackfriar (Dominican monk) named Johann Tetzel went about selling indulgences. The money was ostensibly to be used for financing the rebuilding of the Sistine Chapel, although it appears that a fair amount went towards the debts the Archbishop of Mainz, Albrecht von Brandenburg, had incurred in ensuring his election to the post.
A Wittenberg parish priest named Martin Luther would hear confession, and upon assigning penance to the penitent, was told that they had already done penance by buying the indulgences. It was even rumored that Tetzel would sell indulgences for future sins — effectively, “get out of Purgatory free” cards.
Luther considered all this religious malpractice at best, and wrote a 95-point refutation of the doctrine of indulgences which on October 31, 1517, he nailed to the door of his church. This event would likely have been forgotten quickly were it not for the invention of the printing press in the previous century: printed copies in Latin and German circulated like wildfire, however, and the Sunday on or before October 31 is marked by German Lutherans to this day as Reformation Sunday.[*]
When the whole business with carbon offsets began, I could not help seeing the parallels between the sale of carbon offsets and the “sale of indulgences”/Ablassverkauf/aflatenverkoop/commerce des indulgences/מכר שטרות מחילה.
And now, we are being treated to what an increasing number of commentators are starting to recognizee as yet another form of indulgences (read the whole thing for each of these):
Don’t ask me, listen to what lefty independent journalist Glenn Greenwald has to say: Big corporations, he writes, are “now deploying woke ideology the way intelligence agencies do: as a disguise.” They run sweatshops and depend on slave labor abroad — many playing footsie with the Chinese government, which is committing genocide against its Uighur population even as many are subjected to forced labor — but they talk “social justice” at home because it helps distract people.
Erick Erickson in Real Clear Politics makes an explicit connection to the sale of indulgences.
And Victor Davis Hanson:
The most privileged CEOs of corporate America—those who sell us everything from soft drinks and sneakers, to professional sports and social media—now jabber to America about its racism, sexism, and assorted sins.
The rules of cynical CEO censure are transparent.
First, the corporation never harangues unless it feels it has more to lose—whether by boycotts, protests, or bad publicity—than it stands to gain in staying neutral and silent.
Second, class concerns are never mentioned. Bastian is paid about $65,000 for each working day of the year. In a sane world, he might seem a ridiculous voice of the oppressed.
Third, CEOs never fear offending the conservative silent majority, who are assumed not to boycott or protest.
The woke revolution is not a grassroots movement. It is powered by a well-connected and guilt-ridden elite. Yet the religion of Wokeness assumes these high priests deserve exemptions. Their wealth, credentials, contacts, and power ensure none are ever subject to the consequences of their own sermons. […]
The richest in America—the families who own and operate Amazon, Apple, Bloomberg, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—are the most likely to voice their derision for its unwoke lower- and middle-classes. […]
So wokeness is medieval. Sin is not given up as much as atoned for—and excused—through loud confessionals.
Self-righteous elites rant about carbon footprints, needless border security, defunding the police, gun control, and charter schools. But they rarely forgo their own private jets, third and fourth homes, estate walls, armed security guards, and prep schools. Apparently to rant about “privilege” means the less you need to worry about your own.
Wokeness is an insurance policy. The louder the damnation of American culture, the more likely a career will be saved or enhanced.
Wokeness is classist and elitist. Those who made or inherited a fortune, got the right degree at the right place, made CEO or four-star rank, live in the right ZIP code, or know the good people, believe they have earned the right to decide what is moral for their inferiors.
So some of them have created an entire vocabulary of deplorables, irredeemables, clingers, dregs, chumps, and Neanderthals—for the peasants and “losers” who must do what they are told.
Wokeness is not really about fairness for minorities, the oppressed, and the poor, past or present. It is mostly a self-confessional cult of anointed bullies, and hypocrites of all races and genders, who seek to flex, and increase, their own privilege and power. Period.
If a Jew may quote the Christian New Testament:
This type of corporatist oligarchic and oligopolistic pseudo-capitalism is in dire need of a modern-day Martin Luther to call out the “woke indulgence sellers” and bring it back to its free-market roots.
[*] J. S. Bach wrote two cantatas for the holiday, Gott der Herr ist Sonne und Schild BWV 79 and Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott BWV 80.