Thursday May 31st 2012 Tim
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
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.