An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
I'm presently in Reno Nevada visiting family AND buying a truck from my Dad which I will drive home starting tomorrow morning. Your prayers for safe travels are appreciated, I will have on board a collection of AFR podcasts and The Killer Angels audiobook to keep me awake as I plan to kill the nearly 800 miles in one day.
I continue to have deep thoughts born (well, as deep as mine get) from my reading of the book about the Soviet programs against the Church. While so much of what is reported in the book is heart-wrenchingly tragic, many portions are also frightening. The extent to which the Communist Party saw itself as the intellectually elite and sought to "free" the masses from their delusions is sometimes staggering to my little mind. So many policies were debated amidst the party in how to very carefully mount its evolving campaign against religion, always being careful to attack in ways that would not be overly offensive to the sensibilities of the people. They would waver back and forth thus giving the impression of having a variety of official stances toward religion, but in the truth of the matter is that the Party was simply trying to balance their program of destroying religious belief against the people's ability to endure it peacefully. Though sometimes they Party would swing toward a more radical approach and begin outright shooting or imprisoning people. But always the party believed as with Marx and Lenin that religion and socialism could not coexist.
One thing I find a little frightening is how the government under control of the Communist party was stripped of any and all affiliation with religious practices. I was reminded of our own nation in which anything connected with the government must be devoid of even the faintest hint of religious affiliation - even the mention of God is forbidden. If you think about it, it is truly astonishing that our coinage is still allowed to say "In God we Trust." I do expect this will soon be done away with. Anyway, hinging upon the Establishment Clause, the US government - so we are told - must be secular. If one embraces no religion, one is in effect an agnostic, I should think and perhaps an atheist - certainly practically one would be the latter.
This is fine and good and I would not ask that our government embrace Christianity or an other religion for that matter...but consider what happens when we wish to have said agnostic government do more and more for us and engage more and more aspects of our lives. Soviet socialism by its nature and design had the government involved in nearly everything, and as such their official stance of atheism was naturally poured out upon the people has well. Obviously this would be the case in their schools, but also in everyday necessary consumer life. Where could one buy a Christmas Tree if the state, which sold all goods, refused to provide them since that would effectively demonstrate support for a religious practice?
Now, don't get all knee-jerky on me. I'm not suggesting that we are on the road toward a Stalinist state. I simply concern myself with the ongoing secularization of our public offices (does the Establishment Clause really insist on this?) and the effects thereof as we seek to have the government provide more and more for our needs. Is there a place where such provision will bring with it secularism to a degree we are uncomfortable with? For some that point has already been reached in the context of the public schools, no? What exactly is entailed in a secular education? I'm not advocating a point in this regard, but I can certainly relate with those who are concerned about...where will the secularization end?
Well, I've been thinking out loud too much here and I didn't even intend to. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this matter. Where might you see a line being crossed as a secularized (agnostic? atheist?) government knocks at your door and offers to help? As a side...Bush and Obama's faith based initiative is in my mind the most ill-conceived line crossing I could imagine at this point - and it's real.
No time for proof reading...so you must, alas, endure my errors.
"Killer Angels" is a wonderful book. I found it incredibly moving and was delighted a few years ago when one of my son's 8th grade teachers assigned it to the entire class. It sparked a real interest in the Civil War in him. Some of the passage may make you weep. I hope you pull of the road.
I may be off base in terms of government intrusion into my religious practices, but I really don't give it much thought. Most of this country believes in some sort of God, so the odds of the government wanting to tackle my grand delusion is slim to none. I have enough to worry about with my kids, my job, my relationship with my wife, my infirm parents, and so on. If the Supreme Court wants to let gays marry, I don't care. I mean, is that suddenly going to shake the foundations of my marriage. Nope. Roe vs. Wade legalized abortions, but they were certainly happening before then, and they will continue to happen whatever the Supremes happen to do. When Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were campaigning against each other, a rumor was going around that Jefferson was planning to confiscate all of the bibles owned by individuals. It didn't happen then, and it won't happen anytime soon. I guess what I fear in the dark of the night isn't a knock on the door by the religious thought police but rather someone playing god in a private or government sponsored lab and unwittingly (or knowingly) unleashing a plague that will do the kind of thing that many of the over the top greenies pray to Gaia for...the near eradication of all humanity.
Well, if a thoroughly secularized government goes on the offensive and tries to eradicate all religions (probably concentrating on Christianity), what would the Church do? She would go on being the Church and suffer martyrdom. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.
The alternative? Worry about what the godless might do. Live in constant fear, even of things that haven't happened yet. No thanks.
2001 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4. Nice Truck. Made it home with out remotely coming close to nodding off. YES, "TKA" is a wonderful read!
Worry? No, I don't think so...at least not to the degree that one might have sleepless nights. But it would be easier if we had absolutely no say in the matter. As it is, we do - however small - and so such concerns become...well...they become concerns.
Particularly I am concerned about Christians who are looking to the government to act on their behalf in response to what they believe to be their Christian duties. In my simple mind, asking the government to care for the widows and orphans because we have Christ's conviction upon us, is akin to wanting the government to take over our sunday school classes via the public schools.
No, we are not going to see anything like what happened in Russia in the last century...rather what we'll see is the sort of silent indifference - a head nod toward atheism - as the environment of government education programs come home to roost. If we invite them to do so.
Since we do have a modicum of choice here, I guess I'm asking: while looking at the example of the soviet government's official philosophy, which was necessarily carried along with it, as it involved itself in nearly EVERY aspect of the people's life, do we wish to have our government with its necessary (?) agnosticism involving itself in every aspect of our lives? Again, I'm not saying they are going to actively persecute anyone...it will simply be an expansion of the secularized atmospheres we see in schools and in government work environments.
Many evangelicals think that they can change the dominant philosophy of the government ("we are a Christian nation" etc), but I think they are largely wasting their time. The government's mind is going to generally follow the madness we see around us and I don't exactly see that reversing course. So, I think the better route to take may be to seek to reduce the government's power and authority over us as much as possible...frankly, I see this as being far more in keeping with the founding fathers' mindset, too!
Anyway...largely thinking out loud here. Small localized government...states rights...yes, I secretly harbor the wish that Lee would have listened to Longstreet and tried to get around Meade and cut him off from Washington.