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.
The political debate at the LOG has been furious as of late. We've decided with the prodding of leadership to fast from the topic. A last shot across each others' bows was however offered and I am including mine here. I don't know why politics become so emotionally divisive...I suspect it is because - though we may not wish to admit it - that we invest too much hope into them. I count it a grievous error on my own account.
I've been watching the HBO series recently...and I highly recommend it. I think they have done a fantastic job - thus far. Showing the struggles of our government in its infancy as it worked its way through really defining itself.
Of particular interest - to me - was the arguments between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. In them one can see the inevitability of the Civil War.
At one point Hamilton says: "The more responsibility a government has, the more authority it will wield."
Hamilton of course saw this as good, whereas Jefferson took this to be a very bad thing. I find myself very much in agreement with Jefferson. I find this debate between Hamilton and Jefferson colors my own decision-making in our election at hand.
Yes, some will argue that there is no difference between the two parties, but I think this naive. None-the-less...my chief concern revolves around which party leans most toward giving our government more and more responsibility over our personal lives...taking care of our needs? THAT government, it seems to me will be the one to in turn demand its due authority in such areas as well. Health care, my children's education, my salary, what I pay for things, my nutrition, what I drive, what I do with my land. These things and more I want left to MY decision. My freedom of "choice."
Thus, it seems quite clear to me which candidate is more the champion of individual freedom and responsibility. Who will give me more choice and freedom in my child's education. Who will keep government officials from getting a say in what I teach my kids or what I eat or whether I choose to smoke my tobacco or not.
This is a rather basic leaning that I have here and by no means does any candidate fulfill it wholly or perfectly - not by a long stretch. However, I've little desire to argue minute details anymore. I know which way the parties lean....Barack Obama wants the government to have greater and greater responsibility over our everyday lives and he candy coats it with Christian terminology of taking care of the widows and the poor. He and his party want the government to be accountable for far too many of our "needs." I reject the very foundation of their ideas with regard to what is the actual role of government.
In my mind, protecting innocent life (wherever it is found) is absolutely within the realm of the government's job. Feeding and clothing people is not. How shall we phrase a law that says it is illegal to be poor?
Sigh. I'm not a die-hard republican by any means. But the fact remains that their general leaning toward individual rights and freedoms coupled NECCESARILY to personal responsibilities seems to me to be more in line with my understanding of the proper role of the federal government - not to mention the proper role of mankind on earth. Yes, that rather naturalistic role (but do not forget the Scripture says many times over that if you do not work, you do not eat) is trumped by love...by who can truly...honestly propose such a legislative bill? We can look out for one another and indeed we should...but the government cannot and should not mandate this. Our conviction should do this, and nothing else.
My faith rest squarely in the Church, Christ, and yes His followers. I have no faith that the US government is going to bring any hint of the "Kingdom"...EXCEPT, that it gives us the freedom...the freedom from its bureaucratic secularism....to manifest it in our own lives and in the lives of the community we can literally reach out and hug and hold accountable.
In that vein of thought...I want to proclaim my love and respect for each of you, even if some of you rarely attend meetings where I could actually hug you...ahem...however, uncomfortable that offer may sound. Whatever will be will be, come November, such that even IF Obama is given opportunity to provide for your varied needs...my door is none-the-less always open to offer whatever meager pints of brotherly affection I can offer. Or we can sit in my foxholes together and wait for the Obamanoid "Hope and Change" patrols to try and infiltrate our compound.
Hmmm...in re-reading this I do think I have been watching too much of this program. So be it, the sentiment and conviction is authentic.
That said...I am encouraged in watching the program to know that even at our founding we did indeed argue over the role of the government. And while those arguments did not extend to the sort of quasi-socialism that we see played with today (Indeed I believe ALL of our founding fathers would be SHOCKED by such notions), it none-the-less does spill over into the overall question of the responsibilty of government. I think it sad that so many people who are rapidly a part of this great debate today have little or no knowledge of the debates in our past. What of tradition?
So, in the past debate, count me on the side of Thomas Jefferson as a "Democratic-Republican."
And something from history we should recall come November: I believe that Jefferson ultimately won his argument with Hamilton, no?
As a side, amidst the fury of the campaign (I give thanks to God everyday that we no longer have TV in our home), it has become apparent to me that there is precious little intelligence or fealty to our history in the ongoing "debates." I am terribly thankful to the much silent Munkee for steering me toward the HBO series "John Adams." I think we as a society would do well to pay closer attention to our past and to our debates in the past. Would it not be a breath of fresh air to hear a hint of serious intelligence in the popular arguments we hear day in and day out. Volumes of minuscule details about the candidates and their programs and their experiences and their plans and their personal lives...on and on it goes. However, when it comes down to it, what I'd really like to know is more basic and foundational stuff: What is the role of government in overseeing 'we the people'? What should government do? What should government NOT do? Some good old 18th century style political philosophy would do my heart good.
To some degree they do this in the policies they recommend, but it is so full of photo-op fluff. It is enough, though as I state above, for me to make a decision I am content with.
Anyway...I think the general tone of our political arguments today probably grant a great condemnation on our society and particularly on our school system. There ought not to be a soul going into the voting booth who does not know what the Jefferson and Hamilton debates were about. My 2 cents.
I really must say that while I certainly appreciate, welcome, and even value your "advice"...it 'twould be better received were it not to come off as such blatant and fiery condescension upon those less enlightened than yourself.
And if we are free to share advice, that sir is mine to you.
GP's condescension aside, perhaps the reason we invest so much energy in political debate is that we don't really have any other way to order our societies?
I mean, if we were all really tuned into the kingdom of heaven, what need for debate would there be? Since we're obviously NOT tuned it, what other option do we have?
Politics then seems to be a consequence of the fall, kinda like work. If you don't work, you don't eat. If you don't engage in politics (broadly defined) at some level then others make the choices for you, for good or ill.
It seems to follow then that since not working is NOT equivalent to fasting (you attain no great virtue from going hungry as a result of your own sloth), so neither should there be any necessary virtue in abstaining from politics.
Virtue then lies in HOW you engage the community around you (or not). Do your actions/ speech reflect the love of God? Are you willing to stand up to them on the day of judgment? If so, then perhaps you're doing politics correctly...
I'm sorry GP, have you suddenly attained the kingdom of heaven and we've not noticed? Of course we have a necessary relationship to all that goes on around us, including the state. The existence of those relationships raises the question of what to do about them. Answering the question(s) can is almost necessarily a political act to someone regardless of what our internal understanding is. If someone's swinging at you, you're in a fight whether you're swinging back or not.
Nope, haven't attained the KOG, but really want to, and won't by getting sidetracked by the Great American Sideshow. I just vote, and that's it.
I'm in no fight that involves political manipulation and machination. If you guys think you can become better men by talking this crap to death and increasing your level of angst, have at it. After all, it's a free country. And as a free citizen of that free country, I'm at liberty to say that you're wasting your time.
Well that is something, isn't it. Some of us choose to wrestle abit more over that vote and to discuss reasoning as to why fellow Christians might opt to vote differently. Not to mention the question that has long intersected Christianity and the secular world: how are the two interlaced. How are we in the world but not of it and how is that expressed practically?
Frankly I waste my time on MANY things, GP...shamefully so...but wrestling with political/social issues isn't scraping the bottom of that ugly barrel in my opinion.
I do agree that people (I) can get far too caught up in it and I take that warning to heart in my own concerns over the whole matter. But neither am I convinced that "just vote and that's it" is the natural and saintly answer to it all. Some would no doubt tell you that you waste your time in even doing that much.
getting sidetracked by the Great American Sideshow.
And if I may: if you assume someone is sidetracking themselves from the Kingdom because they discuss these matters, then you have passed judgment on them that I would think requires your seeing into their hearts.
For my part...I AM sidetracked by many things, not doubt politics from time to time.