8.05.2010

Unnatural Relations III

Today, many are giving their opinions on Judge Walker’s Proposition 8 ruling. Obviously, some are for and some are against it, but my question does not concern itself primarily with either homosexual “marriage” or its apparent legal justification. What I want to know is this:

Can a healthy and unified polity exist which contains citizens who openly disagree about such fundamental matters?

Religion, as even an atheist can admit, has been a principle of cohesion among the peoples of the earth for all of our history. Our foundational myths, stories, beliefs, rituals, practices, moralities, etc. provide us with a framework within which we are able to live a properly communal life with those to whom we are somehow naturally attached. Liberalism, the project of modernity, purports to be able to structure human life in a way that is neutral to all of the differing claims of religion and even culture, but one more question comes to mind whenever this is proposed as a satisfactory answer to my first question:

Why would somebody want to live in this way unless they were not themselves already neutral to the differing claims of all the world’s cultures and ways of life?

In other words, who but a modern man would want to live in a modern world? The only people who actually think that the liberal orthodoxy imposed upon us is, in fact, neutral are people who happen to have no moral objections to the practices in question in the first place. At some level I have no problem with this, for this is just a particular example of the general principle I affirmed above. But our history is not so neat that we can all live in the way we choose, and what we call the “culture war” is really a war between two different cultures that desire to occupy the same seat of power and historical dominance. The only answer I can possibly think of is that we must radically devolve power so much so that no orthodoxy can be imposed so universally and so uniformly that people feel alienated from the very world in which they live. But, then again, the radical devolution of power is itself opposed by the liberal orthodoxy. It seems that we are at an impasse. Let the war resume…

Addendum: I posed this question to Thomas Fleming and here is his response: "The simple answer to the first question is: No, absolutely not. Devolution of power would be the answer, if it were possible, and it would only be possible in conditions of economic, social, and political collapse. The only answer for Christians is to do what they once did: live as Christians. Until they quit listening to and supporting the frauds and quacks who take their money and mount campaigns pretending to challenge a regime they actually support–say, people like Pat Robertson or Bill Donahue or Focus on the Family–even sincere Christians will not only not make any difference, they will not even attempt to lead Christian lives."

2 comments:

  1. If Fleming is correct, which I strongly suspect he is, it would seem that modern man is simply the product of a worldwide effort to socially construct or re-construct human nature. The passive rebellion which Fleming calls for, for Christians to live simply live as as Christians, is exactly that, a passive solution to fight against an ongoing active assault on our fundamental "culture." If the modern world is simply a construction built upon inherently false foundations, are you suggesting that it must inevitably fail and no rebellion (outside of simply living as Christians) is necessary?

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  2. Dr. Fleming is looking to the early Christians of the Roman Empire as a good example of how to live within a polity that is positively hostile to you as a memeber of a religious community. Most of the Roman Christians were decent citizens who were law abiding and loyal to the government inasmuch as it did not ask them to engage in evil acts. Perhaps you bring up a compeling disanalogy in implying that Rome, as a pre-modern state, at least had a political and cultural structure that did not oppose human nature in the way the modern west does. I think Fleming's point, though, still stands. Mass movements are never authentic, and even if they were, the Christian is not obligated to mitigate all evils all of the time. He is, however, expected to fulfill his particular duties as a son, father, neighbor, etc.

    Also, it might be worthwhile to make note of what became of Rome historically speaking. Even though her Christian citizens refrained from mass civil disobedience and open rebellion, somehow the entire Empire picked up its cross and followed Christ. The city itself still stands as the center of true Christendom on earth. I doubt any of the natural machinations of politically acitve men could have brought about such a radical transformation. Better to recognize it for what it was, a miracle form God.

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