What Is Business? The Roman Catholic Church, For One

So you’re in “the business”.

Normally, we’d take you for a Jewish diamond dealer or an Italian hitman-for-hire. But it could also mean that you’re the community league hockey coordinator, the parish priest, or the city councillor. 

“But, but…”, you stammer, “how is my church a business? How is my government? How is my volunteer-driven community league??”

If you’re trying to survive, you’re either alive or a business. That’s it. Two choices.

Quite simply, a business is a non-personal construct designed to outlast our mortal coils. It’s primary objective is to exist and it’s secondary objective is to continue doing so. This may entail sales, marketing, expansion, contraction, product development, R&D, hiring staff, firing staff, going public, going private, leasing space, lobbying government, and anything else necessaryi. It doesn’t matter if an operation is a non-profit staffed by volunteers, if it has donations and overhead, it’s a business. If it has a treasurer then it should be pretty fucking obvious. Only purely social and non-monetary arrangements, such as pick-up basketball games and study clubs, are non-businesses. Everything else involving people can be usefully thought of as a business.

Yes, your church is a business, and yes, your government is too. The tools at their disposals varies somewhat, but not significantly, and their objective to perpetuate their own existencesii is thoroughly consistent.

Seen through this lens, religions are the best businesses yet devised by man. They’re the longest lasting, with none lasting longer or more extravagantly than the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, I’m having a hard time thinking of a more successful business in the history of humanity. The Vatican is basically the homo sapien of the non-biological world. Essentially, religions are businesses that we voluntarily agree to do business with and governments are ones that we involuntarily agree to do so with. Religions last longer because they actively try to convert outsidersiii whereas governments come and go because they inevitably become too metastatically bureaucratic to bear their own weight, and begin to emulate the rider of the obese mobility scooter.

Ultimately, businessiv dies without action. Business does not, however, die without talking. Talking, if not a prelude to action, is not business. Coffee shop meetings are not in and of themselves business, and Redditers/Bitcointalkers/social media consultants are under no circumstances to be confused for business.

Surviving is the only business and action is the only way to survive.

With that established, are you still in the Bitcoin business?

Update: One of our readers, who happens to know a thing or two about business, just pointed out that the Hindu and Buddhist Temples of Southeast Asia make the Vatican look like a Swiss McDonald’s. $22 Billion here, a little more there, etc. Being raised in Western Philosophy, even with an understanding of the tenets of Eastern Philosophy, your author hadn’t the slightest clue as to the financial success of the Eastern Churches, though their longevity is plain to see. There, much more ecumenical.


  1. See TPP, Chevron in Ukraine, etc.
  2. Like any other species
  3. Unless we’re talking about Judaism, which is more of a flexible philosophy/worldview, and therefore persists without actively seeking converts
  4. Transparently derived from “busy-ness”

11 thoughts on “What Is Business? The Roman Catholic Church, For One

  1. Nick Jachelson says:

    What action do you recommend? Meetups, IRC, etc are also all a form of talking.

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