Just for fun. . . .
To understand politics and the political, we must first recognize its place in the order of existence and its limitation.
I do fear that, as a whole, western society has come to think of the state (meaning politics and political governance, backed by the coercive power of the police and armed forces, institutionalized education, etc.)—whether in a relatively free republic or in a benign dictatorship—as an almost spiritual entity by which all can be defined, all problems solved, and all persons saved. There’s a left-right spectrum (to use difficult terms) on this matter. Some modern westerners—leftist progressives—think the state can solve things immediately, others—rightest progressives—think it might take several decades or even centuries. But, regardless, left and right, most of us have bought into the idea of “progress.” We rarely define that progress, but we believe it somehow exists, and we believe, with a road bump here or there, that we’re moving toward some historical end. Things will probably be better down the road, we tell ourselves.
As Roman Catholics, however, I believe it essential that we evaluate—at the most fundamental levels—our relationship to the state. It’s worth remembering that the Roman Empire was the number one murderer of Christians until the earliest part of the fourth century. In the days of martyrdom, the Catholic Church grew parallel to, and under, and around, and near, and within the Roman oppression and blood thirst.
[Posted previously at Catholic Vote, Summer 2011]
For what it’s worth–and, given my level of ignorance, perhaps not much–I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the discussion and posts regarding same-sex marriage and the state of New York.
Frankly, my fellow bloggers and those responding have made a number of fine points on what is, to be sure, a delicate issue. From the perspective of Catholic teaching as well as the Natural Law, marriage serves to promote and protect the most fundamental social unit of a society; in Catholic social teaching, the family precedes even the state or community. Marriage, ultimately, serves the purpose of procreation.
That written, I am probably left with more questions than answers regarding this issue, even after reading the numerous posts and comments here at CatholicVote.
First, as Catholics, why do we really care–at a philosophical and theological level–what a government, be it legitimately elected or not, thinks about the issue of marriage?
Why, that is, is marriage even regarded as a political issue? Marriage, fundamentally, is of natural and divine origin, while any given government is merely the creation of some group of persons (or, perhaps, a person) at a given time, claiming some legitimacy with longevity.
I realize there are many issues involved with homosexual unions in terms of practicality and logistics, such as a company, a school, or a voluntary association being forced by law to provide insurance benefits for partners, etc. And, in America, according to Article IV of the U.S. Constitution, one state must recognize the legitimate acts of another through comity.
But, these are material concerns, and they will pass, just as all man-made laws and governments pass. As St. Augustine warned, we should never attach our fortunes to a government. Governments and politics rise and fall, but the Church remains a constant.
Second, as Roman Catholics, should we spend our time worrying about issues such as same-sex marriage when other issues–such as the continuing issue of abortion, or the fact we now are waging three simultaneous wars (none with the consent of the one war-making branch under the Constitution–Congress). These issues are matters of life and death, and we continue each at our own peril as a culture and as a people.
Third, shouldn’t the real response come from the priests, rather than the laypersons? A priest can, with certainty, deny the sacraments to someone involved in a situation acting counter to the spiritual health of the person, the couple, or the community.
Admittedly, my strong libertarian side is probably reacting to some of this, but I still think the best solution to cultural issues such as this is, almost always, cultural persuasion rather than legal and political coercion. Again, the issues of abortion and war are different, as lives are at stake.
Regardless, this is meant to be a “thinking out loud” post. Thanks for reading.
The world needs a new blog.
Well, ok, I need a new blog. I’ve been writing for almost half a decade at a number of different sites, including my own “Stormfields” under the url: http://www.bradleybirzer.com. I’ve never had a large following (nor do I really want to pursue a huge following), so I don’t think switching this around will throw too many folks off. If any of my 15 formal followers at/for http://www.bradleybirzer.com are angry with me, my sincere apologies.
If you like what I write, God bless you. If not, I completely understand. I can be rather cantankerous, especially when I don’t hold my passions in check.
So, why this new blog? First, it’s really a continuation of my previous Stormfields blog–but now with WordPress rather than with Google. I love what Google does in many things, but WordPress is far more flexible than Blogger is.
Second, I have a place for straight politics, straight theology, and straight music, so I want a place where I feel like I can state anything I want without limits.
I often list my great loves as: my wife, my kids, Apple computers and products, cooking and baking, drinking, hiking/walking, Christian Humanism, western civilization, individualism, liberty, Natural Rights, Natural Law, the American West, Mariner Software, Panera, and Hilton properties.
Third, I still feel as I though I want an outlet for my thoughts, whether many folks read them or not.
As I get older, I find myself less and less taken with the adherents of “conservatism” in the U.S. As I’ve come to understand it, modern conservatism–though divided by the small government (paleo) conservatives and the large government/imperial (neo-) conservatives–has slowly systematized.
Whatever I might think of specific views of each, I find them each tending toward rigidity in thought and moving toward becoming ideological entities. Only certain strands of libertarianism and individualism (and all non-socialist anarchy) really promote an a-ideological or anti-ideological vision (or, non vision) of the world. All other political strains of liberalism (especially) and most conservatisms suffer from the oldest sin, pride, believing only a certain vision can save the world. To my mind, such a presumption must inevitably lead to a remolding (or attempted) of the human person.
I believe it, the world needs, first and foremost, to recognize the dignity of the human person. Racism is nothing more than a lazy form of collectivism. Each person–male, female, Greek, Jew, black, white, Asian, or any other variation–is made finitely in the Image of the infinite. Second, the world needs to realize that constructs of power (especially political ones) are always imperial–whether banks, corporations, or governments–and want to remake the world in our image.
So, the words will continue. But, I hope this helps explain why I (if not the world) need a new blog.