Archives For Political Theology

This YouTube post from Lindsay Shepherd is captioned, “I’ve come to the realisation that I am no longer a leftist. Here’s why.” It’s worth sharing because, as one commentator suggested, “it’s not so much that you’ve moved away from the Left; the Left has moved away from you.” I’m not certain that I agree, but the sentiment in that statement describes something that I think is happening to a lot of people who traditionally associated themselves as ideologically progressive.

You might remember that Lindsay was at the epicentre of outrage, when she used a video of Jordan Peterson disagreeing with transgender-ism. Lindsay, a teaching assistant, was attempting to present the opposing side of gender theory in order to open up a broader discussion of the issues.

In true, cult of modern liberalism fashion, Lindsay was brought before a tribunal and punished for doing so. What the University didn’t know at the time, was that Lindsay had secretly recorded the socialist people’s court and their charge of blasphemy against her. The rest is now well documented internet history.

Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. and the professor directly involved have since apologised. This was after Lindsay had been hit with a wave of the all too predictable harassment and abuse, from many who proudly wave Leftist flag/s.

Has the Left moved away from people who have traditionally associated themselves with the Left? It’s a fair question, and if allowed, it’s a question that needs to be asked by those who’ve invested so much into holding the front-line against enemies of the Left, both real and imagined. An offshoot of this question would be, in light of Lindsay’s experience, how much of those enemies of the Left are in fact, real and how much are in fact the product of an overly sensitive imagination.

The coming great awakening may not be as abrupt as Lindsey’s has been. If anything it’s a classic case of Plato’s Cave. The one who is set free, returns to say to those remaining, that life exists outside the chains and the cave; life isn’t the shadows they see bouncing off the walls. Life isn’t lived in the imagination; life exists in the wonder and the investigation into what (and Who) inspires the imagination. The cave dwellers are being called to a fullness of humanity; freedom from the very thing that chains them. Attempting to silence the truth of the freedman, the remaining cave dwellers reject the summons and address. They see the freedman as foolish and refuse to leave because they’ve found the truth that encounters them from outside the cave to be offensive. They are happy in their ignorance.

Sometimes waking up to the slow boiling of the pot, in which some get stuck, takes time. Sadly, more often than not, it doesn’t happen at all.

In Lindsay’s case, I’m not suggesting that she is a prophet or that she’s now a republican, conservative, “christian traditionalist” (whatever that means), who is ready to live out all the negative stereotypes applied to all three groups.

What I am saying is that the significance of this event, and the many that parallel it, such as  recent attack on Chik-Fil-A’s, ‘Christian traditionalist” (whatever that means)  ”creepy invasion of New York“, is that the genuine prophets of our age, who’ve long been lovingly calling out the tragic trajectory of the Left, in it’s post-modern manifestation, are constantly being justified.

Kudos, Lindsay:

Capitalism may be plagued by the sin of greed, a greed that hinders the free market through hoarding and monopolies, but ultimately capitalism creates room for compassion. Laws exist to fortify the free market, so as to protect the free market from the death blows of a greed-is-good culture. Through the referee of small government the free market is nurtured. Through capitalism doors are opened for freedom; for people to be free to be compassionate; free to give out of the abundance of what they have earned; out of the abundance of what they are free to own.

Socialism on the other hand has no checks and balances against greed. Socialism therefore cannot produce a people who are free to be compassionate. Although socialism is viewed as compassion, it doesn’t allow room for compassionate giving because by definition, under a socialist system, there shouldn’t be any need for anyone to have to give compassionately. However, the theory that all needs should be met, does not meet with the reality.

Socialism presupposes that the poor worker will never get rich or rise above his or her poverty. Socialism has to keep people poor in order to justify its own existence. This is because there can be no proletariat, no cause for class war, without keeping the working poor where they are.[i]

Socialism strips the individual of their right to own private property. The individual is left with no amount of abundance to give. Anything given outside the absolute rule of the socialist regime is frowned upon as suspiciously capitalist imperialism. In an exaggerated form, compassionate giving, at least without the state taking its cut, is a crime against the state. To give freely is treasonous because, in theory, under socialism there is no need for people to be compassionate. Every want and need is fulfilled even if the collective has to work for the time being in order to eradicate work entirely. The socialist holds fast to the paradoxical dream of a work-less society.

Unlike compassionate capitalism, compassionate socialism cannot exist. It’s an oxymoron because socialism as absolute economic law only has what it’s taken from the people; it has no capital outside what socialism has taken without compassion; creating no real margin of abundance for individuals to give compassionately from. Therefore the people themselves aren’t free to be compassionate in their giving towards one another.

People are to believe in strict equality, but not fairness. By concessions, the individual under socialism may have the freedom to earn or how they earn it, but they don’t have the freedom to be compassionate with what they earn. They couldn’t, even if they wanted to, because there is no abundance in socialism unless it is awarded to them by the state. The people have what the socialist government gives and nothing more. By default the socialist ruler becomes god, employer, mother and father; in essence the Führer is raised up as savior, because it is believed that he, through the socialist system he controls, knows what’s best for the people of the fatherland.

The Bible does not preach or foster socialism as an absolute economic law or morality. What the Bible does preach is that greed is a sin, that God loves a fair weight; fair trade; that He is a compassionate judge who wills to govern for His people, not govern at the whim and will of His people. The biblical witness as a whole holds fast to fairness and justice within the bounds of a life lived in freedom, under grace, in His Word; Jesus Christ. It is Father God, not führer-as-father who should rule out hearts and guide our minds.

As Paul noted to the Church in Corinth, in 2 Corinthians 8:8-24: give earnestly; give from abundance; give from that which is left over to those in need. Give what you can, when you can, where you can. Trade in fairness, do acts of grace, and do so freely [complete the work you started]. Do so with joy, for this will encourage reciprocal giving. Provide out of abundance in order to bring relief for those experiencing affliction.

Without compassion, capitalism fails. That is why checks and balances exist in order to keep the capitalist system from gorging itself to death with gluttony. Socialism, however, has no room and sees no need for compassion once it holds power. The socialist only sees the capitalist as his or her enemy, upholding socialism religiously, without opposition. Socialism is seen as true compassion and therefore the only compassion anyone truly needs. All who disagree or refuse to fall in line with this are labelled, without compassion, an enemy of it.

Socialism as a paragon of virtue lost its shine a long time ago.The socialist and capitalist can both operate under a “I will take from you to benefit me” rule.

It is, however, the necessary function of compassion that capitalism not only allows, but empowers, that sets capitalism apart from socialism. From this empowerment the individual under capitalism can and is empowered to say, “what can I give you in order to benefit you” as opposed to “what can I take from you to benefit me”.

Compassionate capitalism empowers compassion because it provides enough for people to choose to be compassionate. Socialism doesn’t allow this kind of freedom because it ultimately denies individuals the freedom to give. Whilst allowing the potential for greed, capitalism must eventually give a firm “no” to it, for its own sake. If not, the free market falls victim to the similar kind of totalitarian rule as that of socialism, only in this case, it’s a corporation, not a government left holding the throne without opposition.

‘No constitution or ethic can prevent power from becoming totalitarian. It must discover outside itself, a radical negation. [such as grace; the Divine compassion exhibited in, through and by Jesus Christ].’ (Jacques Ellul, Jesus & Marx. 1988 p.174)

References:

[i] ‘In Marxist dialectic, the oppressed must become the oppressor – the poor person becomes the absolute, a kind of priest – only through him can we meet Jesus and God; through serving him we are sanctified – this horizontal theology [or version of natural theology] returns quite simply to the project of excluding God’ (Jacques Ellul. Jesus & Marx, 1988. pp.42 & 48 parenthesise mine)

Photo credit: Milada Vigerova  ‘Hand, closeup, prayer‘ on Unsplash

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. True freedom, and being able to live out that freedom freely, implies self-restraint and consistency. Blaming guns is shifting the focus onto the object. This blame game takes away from the actions and lack of self-restraint of the subject/s.

When riding a bike, it’s childish to blame and hate that bike, when you hurt yourself or someone else because you weren’t paying close enough attention to where you were going. This blame takes away from the fact that without individuals taking responsibility for their freedom, they will lose their freedom. Beware the untruth of the crowd & beware of the auctioneers who lead them.

More of my thoughts on the gun control debate, can be found here: Gun Ownership, Responsible Border Control, Abortion & Sinless Spheres.

The provocative quote of the week goes to, Charles Spurgeon, “Be a good hater”.

Which in context means: to abhor evil: to regard it with extreme repugnance. [In Latin, “abhor” is Odium: with hostility; “repugnance”: resist, be an adversary of evil.]

Our present age has an almost absolute fear of hate, yet most would agree that “let love be genuine. Hate what is evil, cling to that which is good“, is an admirable thing. One clear example which proves this is the often irrational hatred shown towards Donald Trump.

When discussing hating evil, clinging to the good, Calvin prefers to use the term “turning away”, saying it ‘corresponds better with the opposite clause, where Paul bids us to exercise kindness’ (Commentary on Romans 12:9)

This is displayed in the actions of real social justice advocates [by which I don’t mean the average internet variety, Social Justice Warriors]. Social justice advocates lay their claims against injustice on the very premise that an evil; an injustice; something to be abhorred; something repugnant has taken place.

The problem arises when the basis for those claims are centred on the ever shifting sands of subjective relativism. Akin to the great violation in the garden, that jettisoned God and made humanity the source of knowledge about good and evil; removing the Creator from His rightful place, and putting the creature at the centre of where, what and how that creature derives its definitions and subsequent redefinition’s of what is good and what is evil.

Once fluidity of truth is proclaimed and accepted. Competing truths then seek dominance.

From there lies can hide hatred and gain power behind the facade of truth:

“whoever hates disguises himself with his lips, and harbours deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart though his hatred be covered with deception.”  (Proverbs, 26:24-26)

Under this rule, all hate is justified by personal truths among a plethos (a great number) of personal truths. Tolerance for the hatred of the Marxists, White Power Neo-Nazis or the Islamist who chooses to force faith through fear instead of charity, and well reasoned argument, must unfortunately be allowed.

The ultimate conclusion is a clash of competing untruths, long paraded as truth. The consequences being, that lies and falsehood come to rule, where truth and facts once did.

When accompanied by humility, mercy and justice, hate is not evil. Hate in this sense is restrained pathos or righteous anger. This is pathos seeking to end the cause of pathayma (suffering), which is held within the limits of both ethos and logos.

To hate evil is to cling to that which is good. The negative side to this, of course, is, that any hate which doesn’t cleave to that which is good, leads us towards that which is evil. Thus hating evil is not a sin because the act has a just cause. One grounded in the precedent, criteria and command of God.

Does this justify any and all kinds of hate? No, this doesn’t.

The statement, “be a good hater” is a challenge to resist evil (James[i]). To resist the morality of the tyrant or the ‘crowd which has no hands’ (Kierkegaard, The Crowd is Untruth [ii])

Morality drawn straight from the whims of the human heart is the subjective morality of the tyrant. Subjective morality becomes immorality the further it disconnects itself from the external Word and Spirit of God. This is because morality is held captive to the subjective truth of a tyrannical king, who acting on the mood of the moment bans all unauthorised morality from his or her kingdom. This unauthorised morality is anything other than the one he or she seeks to own, in order to grow their grip on power.

It is, as C.S Lewis wrote, true that ‘hatred obscures all distinctions.’[iii]  What I think C.S Lewis is getting at here is any hatred that exists by itself and of itself, obscures all distinctions.

One way to speak of this could be to say that we need to be open about the things we intensely dislike, otherwise we are just lying to ourselves and others. Again we take Solomon’s words and apply them, ‘the one who conceals hatred has lying lips’ (Proverbs 10:18)

For the Christian, the ultimate grounding for hating evil, isn’t hate, it is love. Love motivates the Christian to speak out and proclaim the salvation brought to both the oppressed and oppressor alike.

This means continuing to act on the gifts that God gives, such as good government, the ability to teach, discern and speak in a gracious way to world hellbent on worshiping insanity. To achieve this we need to gain a better understanding about the close relationship between hating evil and being a “hater”.

Hating hate, and not evil, is the great twisted and misleading double negative of our age.

Nowhere in the bible does God command His people to hate hate. What we read is the imperative to abhor evil and cling to what is good. All of this raises a few more intricate questions that I haven’t got the room here to explore here,

1. How do we hate evil in a world that hates both hate, and hates anyone who proclaims that evil exists?

2. How do we as Christians respond to those who contradict themselves as they promote love, but preach hate against hate?

3. How can we keep the imperative to ‘hate what is evil’ from being misused and abused?

When we apply being a “good hater” to the Nazis, what is meant is that we hate the ideology of Nazism, not the German people who identified as Nazis. What is hated is the evil in the ideology that rules over the person and in the person, as if it were a lord without a Lord. The distinction between the German and the Nazi, if measured by Lewis’ criteria isn’t distorted.

Therefore, Charles Spurgeon’s ‘’be a good hater’’ is someone who acts in Christian love. Since love speaks both a “yes” and a “no”, to hate evil is to cling to the good; standing with, and in, God’s “no” to what is evil.

‘When you hate the man’s sins, you are not to hate him, but to love the sinner, even as Christ loved sinners and came to seek and save them. When you hate a man’s false doctrine, you are still to love the man and hate his doctrine even out of love to his soul, with an earnest desire that he may be reclaimed from his error and brought into the way of truth.’ (Spurgeon, 1858 Righteous Hatred)

It’s right then to conclude, that any Christian who falls in with the ‘untruth of the crowd’ when it comes to Donald Trump, may find themselves falling into hate that is absent of the rule of Christian love.  The Christian in this context fails to see that ‘the sinner hasn’t stopped being God’s creature’ (Karl Barth CD 3:2, p.31)

Grace finds the distinction between the love for the sinner and hatred of the sin, and moves in love towards the sinner with this particular order in mind. Barth again brings home the point, ‘if it does not spring from grace, it does not lead to grace.’ (ibid, p.36)

Grace governs the outcome and reorders, hate the sin, love the sinner[iv]. Love for the sinner is primary. Hatred of sin is secondary[v].

Just as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said:

“Although we are not Christ, if we want to be Christians we must participate in Christ’s own courageous heart by engaging in responsible action that seizes the hour in complete freedom, facing the danger’ (Meditations On The Cross, p.26)

None of this means being slothful in our response to injustice, what it means is letting authentic Christian love, not the untruth of the crowd, govern that response. So it is that we return to the imperative, let love be genuine. Hate what is evil, cling to that which is good.


References:

[i] James 4:7

[ii] Kierkegaard S. 1847 The Crowd is Untruth sourced from CCEL.org

[iii] C.S Lewis, 1955 On Science Fiction in Essay Collection: Literature, Philosophy & Short Stories

[iv] See Bonhoeffer, D. 1954 Life Together p.111

[v] see Barth, K. 1960  Man as a Problem of Dogmatics, CD. 3:2 p.32 Hendrickson Publishers here Barth discusses the primacy of grace and the secondary place of sin in God’s attitude towards man.

Photo Credits: ‘Love Again’ by Kayle Kaupanger & ‘Old Vandalised Building – Vietnam’ by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

Political correctness in its excessive form is the secular equivalent of Shari’a law. It might not have the full judicial weight of Western law behind it yet, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t trying to manipulate the system so as to implement it.

I used to think that the only thing wrong with political correctness was the excesses that went along with it. Take the good, reject the bad. However, the more I learn from those who practice and enforce the ideals of political correctness, the more I arrive at the conclusion that political correctness is the secular version of Shari’a Law. The power base for this is the cult of modern liberalism which currently rules the Left side of politics.

Adherence to political correctness is fanatical. It’s designed to control what and how you think, making sure you comply with the laws outlined by modern liberal overseers. These overseers are most often professionals who say that they don’t believe in absolutes, but issue orders in absolute terms: “You are what we say you are, you will speak and think as we tell you to or else!” Professionals, who have, as we’ve witnessed since Trump was elected, sought to wage a jihad against conservatives and those allied with the concerns of conservatives.

Throughout the years I’ve had three personal encounters with professionals along these lines. Each encounter has given me an insight into how excessive political correctness is having a negative effect on society, trust and relationships as a whole.

The first involved a co-worker who assumed that I was being racist when I used the phrase “these kinds of people’’ in response to being hammered by telemarketers from India. Though it was clear that I was voicing frustration at telemarketers taking up work hours, (called time theft), this didn’t stop my co-worker from trying to find some hidden racism in my quick reply. He was more concerned about my phrasing and what possibly laid behind it, than he was with the complaint that wages were being spent answering unsolicited phone calls unrelated to customer service.

Over the process of an hour and a few email exchanges with management, who had now gotten involved, things were clarified and sensitivities were appeased. Even though my phrasing of “those people” meant unsolicited calls from telemarketers, and not a racist remark towards Indian people, I was, through the event, forced to be anxious about, and super-sensitive with my words.

The second incident involved a foreign-born medical professional on a routine visit. He took a disliking to the fact my wife and I homeschooled. He had no grounds for this, but took it upon himself to hound me for forty minutes about socialisation, ignorance and yes, racism. He proceeded to tell me that kids teach kids, they learn and should learn from one another. He argued that they can only learn about differences between cultures, and religions from being in the education industrial complex.

I was uncomfortably on the defensive. Although I informed him that we have a NSW board of studies representative and are registered with them, he was determined to be right; adamant that I was wrong. Although I made every effort to help him understand that our curriculum was in line with the Australian Curriculum standards, this medical professional assumed that because I was white, and a Christian, we were being prejudiced and teaching our children to not only be ignorant of the world, but to hate those who are different.

The third, most recent incident was when another medical professional lightly scolded me for using the politically incorrect term, “colour blindness”, instead of the politically correct term, “colour vision deficiency”. This professional made a point of telling me, with conviction, that the term “colour blindness” wasn’t “kosher”. Despite the terminology being widely used, it was considered offensive and insensitive for not applying the “authorised version”; the “correct” or allowable terminology.

This, however, begs the question. If I was so wrong, why does Google return 3.91 million hits under the term “colour blindness”? Why is a website, which says its aim is to raise awareness about “colour vision deficiency”, actually called “Colour Blind Awareness”?

My position here isn’t reactionary. It’s an attempt at a well-considered expositional brief of a reactionary position forced on society. I say forced, because it hasn’t arrived by way of democratic consensus, nor has it arrived by scientific reasoning and rigorous debate. It has arrived by way of emotionalism, where feelings come before facts and seeming to be doing is the only thing necessary to prove whether someone is guilty or innocent.

All of this suggests to me that people are making political correctness up as they go. They acquire a form of consensus from like-minded individuals who then punish, or ridicule into submission, those who aren’t aware of the rules. This isn’t science or logic, its law by whim of the ruler; in other words, it’s a regression back into absolute monarchy. The only difference is that the absolute divine right of kings becomes the absolute divine right of the individual, through which the individual is either deified or deifies themselves.[i]

It’s a lot like school. The law of the playground applies. One minute the sports shoe trend is Nike, the next it’s Reebok. After that it’s this band. The next day, it’s another band. Any and all who disagree are ostracised or treated as ignorant and irrelevant for not being up to date on the latest and greatest.

In other words, political correctness isn’t something that has been freely accepted and rationally agreed upon. It’s not in line with common law [ii]. The politically correct are a law unto themselves. As such, the politically correct impose new cultural laws on society, at the whim of those creating them. Everyone is assumed to have been acquainted with these new cultural laws. Anyone found to be unaware of them pays the price by being reeducated, or embarrassed in front of others. They face unnecessary hostility, or ironically, abuse, condescension and some times, insensitive correction.

Political correctness in its excessive form is the secular equivalent of shari’a law. To be outside political correctness is to be outside the religion. Those outside the cult of modern liberalism, that currently rules the Left, are considered “deporable”.  These “deplorables” are insensitively accused of insensitivity. With abuse and disrespect, they are abused and disrespected.

If one is not politically correct, (by politically correct, I mean, living in line with whatever Leftist activists say it is)[ii], then that person isn’t trendy enough to be friends with, to be included in, accepted, respected, tolerated or loved.

In fact, as has been seen since Trump was elected to the presidency in the United States, it’s considered acceptable by the politically correct to hate anyone outside of their religion. “Deplorables” are infidels. The only choices are convert, keep quiet and pay a tax, or die.

Actions speak louder than words. For as long as the politically correct preach from the political narrative of “love trumps hate”, yet continue to unreasonably hate on Trump, responsible Trump voters[iii] and anything they perceive as being a threat to their power; the lip service the politically correct give to love will remain a confusing enigma, fused with dissonance, exclusion, prejudice, deification of self, partisan politics,manipulative propaganda and logical fallacies.

“A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.”
(Roger Scruton, 1994) [iv]

Notes:

[i] For more on this I recommend Jean Bethke Elsthtain’s 2008 publication, ‘Sovereignty: God, State and Self’.

[ii] ‘The goal of the common law is not social engineering but justice in the proper sense of the term, namely the punishment or rectification of unjust actions.’ (Roger Scruton summing up a point made by Friedrich Hayek. Fools, Frauds & Firebrands, 2015)

[iii] This isn’t saying that the far-right don’t do this. Historically we know they do and have done so. However, in the current socio-political climate, the Left dominate this arena with their own vile version of tyranny masked as good intentions. Such as libertarians who believe people should have the freedom to drink and drive.

[iii] By responsible Trump voters I mean those who think before they vote; the average citizen, not the far-right or alt-right.

[iv] Scruton, R. 1994 Modern Philosophy: An Introduction and Survey Bloomsbury Publishing

Photo Credits:

Abuse of Power...’  Samantha Sophia.

Razor Wire‘, Robert Hickerson

The other day I commented on a post put up by a friend, who was applauding the increasing number of people supporting DACA “dreamers”, and gun control in the United States. In the comments section I spoke plainly, saying that abortion has to be part of this debate and that any theologian who  support people screaming, “punch a Nazi”, are hypocrites if they don’t include in their outrage, controls on the systematic slaughter of infants whilst they are still in the womb.

I did this because as has been witnessed in the latter part of this week people have taken to hashtaging their outrage with boycotts, anti-Trump hysteria and clear contempt for any American citizen who wants to keep their constitutional rights sacred. This outrage proves the need to push for a broader dialogue that includes abortion. This is because aspects of the push for gun control begin to look a lot more like one group, using the issue of guns, as a way to dominate and control the other group.

If abortion is left out of this debate, the justifiable outrage at the slaughter of children in a school, becomes a veneer for a far more sinister agenda. The control of one portion of the population by another portion, who, by their well established hostile approach to dialogue and the suppression of it, consider themselves to better than the rest.

The danger of allowing one side to dominate the debate is found in the sinless spheres each side can end up creating for themselves. When society ejects any notion of God, and His claim in Jesus Christ to us, by way of Him saving us from sin, groups within society take it upon themselves to step into the place that God has been ejected from.

Whether acted upon by those on the Right or those on the Left,  what is created is a system whereby the unifying truth in the statement that ‘all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God‘ (Rom. 3:23), becomes, ‘we declare that this group within society has fallen short of what, and who, we now say is God‘.

The sinless sphere is where one group operates as though they had no sin. They operate as though they were God, with the view to operating with the full and unhindered power of God. The reality is, however, that from within this sinless sphere, supposed sinless people encourage each other in their sin. They’re just no longer willing to recognise that sin is unique to all of humanity, including themselves.

It’s too easy then, to operate out of these toxic spheres, cutting down others, in the name of what those subsumed into these sinless spheres, now worship. This self-righteousness turns opponents into enemies of their new religion. This is one reason why I am more and more convinced that Modern Liberalism has become a cult of the Left, and that political correctness is the implementation of a secular shar’ia law. It’s another reason why I agree with the charge of heresy, criticisms of sporadic tyranny and legalism within some conservative strongholds, and its ugly existence within the history of the institutional Church. Such as the German Christian heresy of the 1930’s.

Pride is the enemy of grace. When one group takes action against another group, under the deceptive notion that it is without sin, there tyranny reigns. It is humility that wins, not virtue signalling. It is honesty and responsible vulnerability that reigns, not hiding behind closed doors until its safe to speak out, because it’s in line with the Left, who flood and therefore dominate the public realm, and cast intimidation on all who suggest anything different to their party-line.

On the issues of abortion, responsible gun ownership and responsible border control. All three need to be part of the conversation and concern of those involved in the debate. If not, the conversation becomes dominated by partisan propaganda, only done in order to achieve political advantage.

I raised this in my comment on my friend’s post. That ended, sadly, with this person falsely accusing me of doing my “usual” “grandstanding; posting to seek applause or attention”; of not sticking to the topic; of using abortion as part of a “game“ to dismiss (or distract) from any debate on immigration and gun ownership laws.

The point I was making to them was the need to discuss abortion, responsible gun ownership and responsible border control as a whole, because this draws attention to core issue. That core issue is the value of human life, who gets to determine/control that value, and who gets to determine/control when and where, human life starts and ends. Gun ownership laws are important, as is responsible border control, but abortion is by far the biggest concern among the three. This is because it involves the state sanctioned, celebrity funded, taking of a human life.

Whether society likes it or not, the ideology that underpins current attitudes towards advocacy for abortion, and both the indifferent and fanatical support it has, parallels with the Nazi doctrine of ”life unworthy of life”.

Yet, those who would scream, “punch a Nazi”, and in turn misuse anti-Nazi theologians like Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in order to fuel anti-Trump hysteria, fail to see the parallels between the abortion industrial complex’s killing of babies, and the blood soaked ground that it shares with Nazism. The very same people who would be quick, in protest, to label gun owners “baby killers”,  but fail to protest the actual conveyor belt killing of babies.

Responsible border control, gun ownership and abortion are bipartisan issues, and because of the emotional nature of the debate and the tendency for victims to be used as political footballs, all three need to be kept in the sphere of that debate.

These issues cannot be abstracted from the discussion on the value of all human life, who gets to determine/control that value; and who gets to determine/control when and where, human life starts and ends.

They are issues that need to be discussed as a whole, on the unifying basis that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God‘. It is only through the God who in Jesus Christ unifies, reconciles and inspires, that any holistic resolution can be found. The first step towards this begins with humility and the prayer, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). [i]

You’re welcome to tell me how I’m wrong in trying to keep these issues bipartisan, by not letting the usual side of politics control the debate, as they point to the speck of dust in their brother’s eye, while ignoring the plank in their own. I welcome disagreement, but I will draw a line when false accusations and personal attacks are thrown my way.


References:

[i] Also known as ‘The Jesus Prayer’.

Memes source, The Radiance Foundation.

In a recent article titled ‘Abortion in/as a Consumer Structure’ for Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics, Dr. Matthew Tan, a Lecturer in Theology and Philosophy at Campion College Australia, suggested that the Church needs to assert itself as an ‘alternative public’ in the marketplace.

Matthias Grunewald, ‘The Last Supper’. c.1500 A.D

According to Tan the real battleground where issues like abortion are to be engaged in is the ‘community called “the market”[i],

‘In consumer culture everything is reduced to a commodity and the market is the community’[ii]. He explains that ‘bodies become units of exchange. Greater value is attributed to those with the greater buying power’[iii]

Enter a ‘politics of visibility’ where bodies are:

‘reduced to a blank slate whose sole worth lies in its ability to exalt the logos that hang off it[iv]… Mere existence then becomes ‘dependent on performance and audience. Self itself becomes dependant on visibility’[v]

In response to this the Church needs to engage by seeing through the ‘lens of economic efficiency’. It needs to engage as a ‘public in its own right to challenge to the public circumscribed by state and society’.

This is as opposed to allowing itself to be simply relegated by society and politics to function in a private ancillary role e.g.: ‘chaplaincy’.

How can the Church apply its resources in presenting itself as an alternative?

Tan suggests that the language of the Sacraments meet the language of commerce, ‘in particular the Eucharist’.

Here the Church can assert itself as a direct:

‘counter-structure’ to the consumerist ‘logic of efficiency’ because the Eucharist (communion) ‘undoes the logic of efficiency by challenging the logic of resource scarcity that mandates the need to ensure efficient management. The Eucharist challenges this by positing counter-logic of plenitude where people ‘receive without charge [and] give without charge’
‘The Eucharist can challenge the very foundations on which contemporary socio-political arrangements are grounded. Because of this, the Church’s task of producing its own fields via sacramental practice will ultimately call into question the Church’s own political positioning’
‘This alternative public…contains an alternative structure and is one in which the imperative to consume others is seen as an aberration rather than the norm. If the structure of consumer practice is implicated in the normalisation of abortion, the Church can only comprehensively undercut that normalisation by supplementing its discourse asserting the personhood of the foetus with its own counter-structure.
In so doing the church will need to go beyond making claims that are allegedly recognisable to all endowed with reason. Through its own sacramental economy, it would need to be engaged in the production of practices that declare an allegiance that is contrary to the state/society/market complex’

Even though, they are in fact very political, I am not sure the sacraments (primarily Baptism and Communion – for those us reading Tan who are Protestants) should be employed as a purely political and financial tool. This is because the purposes of the sacraments are firstly about recollection. Secondly, relationship and then, only in a final sense, does it become about transformation.

I wonder though if Tan is in fact talking about marketing the church and its practices better. For example: Does this counter logic advocate that the Church view itself as a corporation and set itself apart from other corporations such as McDonalds, Apple or Microsoft?

If so, are we talking about taking up the very thing only God can do and does? Does this make or lead us to falsely make the sacraments purely transactional, bypassing Jesus Christ, to the point where something akin to the indulgences of the Middle Ages, salvation is taxed by the institution?

For the church the marketing of the message seems to be the evangelical outer workings of the people working with God, whereas the latter marketing of the church appears, at least in an exegetical understanding of scripture, to require and consist of the present participation of the Holy Spirit, in both external and internal evangelical work of God for the children of God.

Would this human effort to commercialise the sacraments then further diminish the transcendent point of reference which appears to be abandoned by modernity’s extreme focus on ‘surface over substance’; i.e.: material gain measuring a persons net worth?

I only ask this because it is my only hesitation in completely agreeing with his point of view. This doesn’t negate the strategic importance of Tan’s thinking here. There is potentially a lot good that can grow from what he is suggesting.

To witness the Church having its task of proclamation really heard and appreciated, on any level in real time, is energising. To engage as a serious alternative to the alternatives, is a privilege of freedom, that none of us in the church ought to remain complacent about or take for granted.


References:

[i] Tan, M. 2014 Abortion in/as a Consumer Structure, Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics: Vol 4: Iss.1, Article 7,p.7

[ii] Ibid, p.11

[iii] Ibid, p.8

[iv] Ibid, p.7

[v] Ibid, p.9

Article originally published April 27, 2014