An English In Kentucky


















Thursday May 31st 2012    Tim Candler

    I'm still fairly convinced the essential distinctions between religion and politics are small enough not to matter, unless you are so foolish as to believe words are real.  I see both religion and politics as one side of a single coin that devotes itself to describing the future. And on the other side of this coin there is an equally comic relief in the form of phrases like "hard work," "picket fences," "I drive a Bentley" and on it goes into the even more esoteric and wonderfully diverse.

    Those who point to a separation between church and state, should do so with the understanding that an elected body is a consequence of a device that tries to solve the problem of who should be in charge, more than it is a reasonable conclusion.  While passion rages at election time, truth in all its forms dismissed, the men and women who wish to lead are simply vying for votes that can be counted.  And thank God the actual battle ground is a booth with a curtain, rather than a field bloodied and littered with corpses. 

    As for Jesus, years and years ago, he gave his answer, not only by volunteering his life but with the odd phrase that managed somehow to survive censorship by the Synods which would pick and chose the books of  the Bible as they searched for coherence in a body of work most of which has been exorcised.  And here I can think of two surviving phrases which may give comfort to the poor, the lost, and the hopelessly optimistic.  One involves Camels and needles, the other involves the phrase, "render unto Caesar."

    I will say, the Christian Nobles are always very adept at adopting local traditions in their own pursuit of souls, and of meaning, and of territory.  And I'd argue that greed has become one such local tradition.  Which is an argument that travels to the edge of an abyss, and that's not a place anyone wants to be in the golden age of unlimited resources and an endless list of earthly creators protected by God given copyright.

    But as a more distant example of Christian trespassing, the Celts, long before the Christian Mission arrived upon their shore with news of a Gentle Jesus, and long before Saint Stephen was martyred, would  kill Wrens at around the Winter Solstice, so as to rid themselves of the old year, welcome the new, and give the more active young men something to occupy the shortest days.  And of course I agree Wrens can be irritating, and the obvious choice should such a fate be absolutely necessary.  But also, around the Winter Solstice, Celts would thrash with Holly branches the late risers and female servants.  The Welsh called this "Holming."  Which is an equally odd tradition, but nonetheless one I can certainly see Saints approving of so long as thrashing lazy boys and unenfranchised girls could be adapted to suit the purpose of advancement. And always worth remembering that although it was probably hot and humid and his shoes didn't fit, Jesus used some sort of thrashing device to kick the small businessmen out of temple.

    The quarrel, in my view, lies more firmly in the personality of those who choose to wield power over others.  We know such creatures are sadly inevitable.  They always need feeding, they are driven, they are personally ambitious, often agile around fearfulness, they are prone to lying and never should be trusted, and long after they are dead they too are subject to trespass.  But once in charge, my suspicion is, a person who cleaves to the idea that an Almighty is guiding his hand, is more apt to run riot over history and process, do away with thinking through dull deliberation and banish even the appearance of reasonableness. All of which is a lubricant between us and the past, and it gives us our chance to at least try to live generously together, instead of beneath the heal of a nut case who lives behind a brick wall.


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