Sunday, June 11, 2017

New Blog

Now I'm co-authoring at Gene Callahan's blog. So please be diverted over there for more divertissement.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Rendering Unto Caesar: Christianity and the State?

When Christ said "Render unto Caesar what is Caesars and to God's what is God's," he gave a non-answer. For the question for us is "what is Caesar's and what is God's?" But the answer for the religious person is simple: all is God's. So then, what is Caesar's?

In this post, I make an attempt to adumbrate my already hazy vision of Christianity's current relation to the state in the West. So the content of this post is a shadow of a shadow. But this sketch shall serve as a benchmark for my grappling with this enormous issue, a benchmark that should reveal how little I know at the moment.

By state I will restrict myself to what we normally mean by government and the functions it provides. So I speak of laws, the execution of those laws, and the people who execute them.

Christianity in the recent West has largely distanced itself, I believe, from an active role in the shaping of this institution. This is very curious: for religion is bound to law in the strictest sense. Religion and law are about what ought to be proper behavior. The appearance of this curiosity seems to be due to the belief that what is God's is the spiritual; and what is Caesar's is the worldly. These realms are thought to be separate.

To define things as they are thought, it seems to me, further: What is spiritual is soteriological knowledge. What is worldly: everything irrelevant to the salvation of man. Again, the vision of Christ, the correct understanding and rehearsal of Christian doctrine, the fact that our actions demonstrate correct knowledge of these doctrines: all this belongs to the realm of Christianity. And to the world, the realm of government, is delegated the responsibilities that get in the way of this sacred path.

In short, as things seem to be for the majority, Christianity is the rough-beaten path to the sun; Government is the task force that cleans the path, not moving along it.

There have been many thinkers who have challenged this conception; T.S. Eliot and Dostoevsky are the foremost in my mind. And it is with these I currently stand, and it is for the reason I gave in the beginning of this essay; but the answer of where we go is hazy.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

How Do We Better Things?

No one can expect to, by his will alone, effect social change in a group. Each man's will is not the will of any other individual; and so, no one has ultimate power over the direction of a group. It is important at the outset to realize that this is how things are. In order to have any hope of positive change, we must understand what we can change for the better.

But neither can a man expect to effect change in his own will. For how can a will will what it will not? It is a contradiction. Thus, neither our own will nor the will of our neighbor can we change.

What then are we to do? The good news: not everything is will. As conscious persons, we have much in our world that we have to work with besides "self-improvement". In that world, we have a lot to pay attention to. It seems that by paying attention to what we see as good now, leads to the development of good in the future. Conversely, refusing to enjoy the good, we refuse the only thing that will bring happiness to us.

Thus, our attitude toward affecting change should be one of gratitude towards the good we now experience. It is one that cultivates what we have, and it does not seek to go beyond and do things it cannot. We can't give ourselves new material to work with, we have to do with what we've been given. And so we should do what we can: "do whatever our hand finds to do."