The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Christian right-wing politics

I read an article yesterday on the role of Father Richard John Neuhaus in the American right in a recent issue of New Republic Magazine. It was a biased article from a fairly agnostic perspective, but nevertheless it hit some points that I have been thinking about.

First of all, it is very much in vogue among concerned Christians to create a moral hierarchy of issues on which we must all march lock-step. First and formost among these are issues of a sexual nature (abortion, homosexual "marriage", etc.). The problem with this perspective is that we more often than not lose sight of how the Gospel addressed social questions. Who really gets it from Christ in the Gospels? Is it the prostitutes, the lechers, or perverts? Sure, Christ does not endorse their behavior and even condemns it. The only time he gets angry, and really angry, is when sellers cheat the poor in the Temple. And what about Lazarus and Dives? Do we get indignant over the same things Christ gets indignant over? Sure, we might say that economic crimes are wrong, but where is the passion of most concerned Christians when it comes to these isssues?

Secondly, it is the old question of the "sacrum imperium". Is Christianity a recipe for a good, civilized society, or is it a constant challenge to the social order in any society where the Gospel emerges? Like the "self-help" approach of many evangelical Christians, many try and sell the Faith as something that will make us all live in peace and harmony. (Images of "Leave It to Beaver" episodes should be flashing through your head.) Christ, however, said He would bring strife and the sword. So how do we reconcile these things?

Real Christian political theory is almost exclusively prophetic. It knows that you can't fix a hopelessly broken situation, that is, life here amdist fallen human nature. Christianity in society cannot be reduced to a system; indeed, that is the quickest way to kill the Gospel. Simply put, there is no such thing as a "Christian society", there are only Christians living in a fallen world. Our task is to care for the least of our brethren, witness the love of Christ, and cry against injustice when it emerges. This can be done in many ways, but always with the mentality that there are no perfect solutions this side of the Parousia.

Any other approach, no matter how affective it might appear at first, can only lead to the most tragic perversions of the Gospel.


At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've noticed the same thing around the conservative/traddie RC blogosphere-it does seem like there is a party line-a litmus test, if you will-that must be followed if one is to be a member of the neocon/(or rarely) traddie club.

Also, the same thing has been happening in secular politics, most notably with disgruntled (ex) Republicans-the notion, that, in order to be patriotic, conservative, etc. one must pledge absolute loyalty to the GOP party line, as well as the administration.

The blogosphere of course isn't real life, but it does serve as a useful proxy in this case. Sometimes its fun to go to certain websites that are chock full of polemics, and read the comments of some brave souls who have the courage to go against the cybergrain.


Michael King

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

I suppose that is why my blog is not about polemics. I can be all over the map when it comes to just about anything. For me, it is not about pontificating. I really want to acheive a sort of Socratic method when it comes to these issues.

What assumptions are being made and are they true? Do we know what prejudices we are bringing to the table of a certain issue? What are the other complicated factors that we are not taking into account?

Part of the inspiration for this comes from the spirit of ancient philosophy, that is, not a concept of knowledge as power, but as wisdom leading to eternal hapiness. One wants to be right, the other wants to be liberated from what binds us. I hope I can continue to do this, and where I fail I hope people will point it out and I will have the courage to accept that I am wrong.

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:40 AM, Blogger Young fogey emeritus said...


At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diddo on YF's "Ping!" Bingo!


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