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Friday, September 19, 2008

Politics and Religion HAVE to Mix

In 2002, a world-renowned philosopher, teacher and spiritual father to over 1 billion people wrote the following:

In democratic societies, all proposals are freely discussed and examined. Those who, on the basis of respect for individual conscience, would view the moral duty of Christians to act according to their conscience as something that disqualifies them from political life, denying the legitimacy of their political involvement following from their convictions about the common good, would be guilty of a form of intolerant secularism. Such a position would seek to deny not only any engagement of Christianity in public or political life, but even the possibility of natural ethics itself. Were this the case, the road would be open to moral anarchy, which would be anything but legitimate pluralism. The oppression of the weak by the strong would be the obvious consequence. The marginalization of Christianity, moreover, would not bode well for the future of society or for consensus among peoples; indeed, it would threaten the very spiritual and cultural foundations of civilization.

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Often times the debate that springs forward today regarding the intersection of politics and religion takes place on a plane that seems devoid of real critical thinking application or skill. Instead, it is not unusual for someone to 'shout' a word like "INQUISITION!" as an argument against the normal role of religion in the world of politics. Another argument used is to point to a religion which is not the full embrace of Truth and show how its merging with the governing body of a country has lead to the horrible treatment of members of its citizenry or the aggressive attitude towards its neighbors or even the destruction of century-old art and literature in the name of purity.

What is lacking is a a sense of calm reasoning. Replaced by an almost hysterical demand that one apply one's conscience to the determination of an issue without the 'constraints of Faith', those who seem to fear religion the most forget that a conscience is of no use if it is malformed, or dead.

For many of us today, we have failed to nurture or strengthen our consciences . Rather, we have allowed our own worldly adherence to what sounds good to be our only guide. Rarely do we take the time to truly examine that which we proclaim to be real, for to do so would mean having to make a concious choice to suspend judgement and do actual study.

My opinions have changed radically over the years until today I find myself a member of the counter-culture. My opinions are, of course, partly shaped by my personal experiences. When I found people who claimed to embrace pluralism rejecting my experiences and my feelings, I looked elsewhere for help. To my ever lasting shock, the help I found came from an area I had been told for years would reject me, thought itself better than me, was thoroughly corrupt and really based on prejudice and hate.

And I discovered that was all a lie.

Jesus described Satan as the 'father of lies'. Why? It seems that, incapable of creating on his own, this fallen archangel can only ape that which God creates....and only by convincing us that what is important is the feeling, the emotion, the desire rather than the action, the beliefs and the trust . Satan cannot create. What he can do is convince us that the Creator is keeping us from real happiness by limiting our freedom. What did God tell our first parents? That we could eat of all the trees in the garden, except ONE. Human freedom is vast, but not limitless...for without limits freedom ceases to be freedom and becomes, simply, license.

And how did Satan appeal to our first parents? By telling them that GOD was the liar - that if they disobeyed Him, they would BE LIKE GODS themselves.

In other words: pride

When we start to think that we are the alpha and the omega, the be all and the end all, the spearhead of creation (so to speak) we begin to think that we are the ones who can determine what makes a human being worthy of life. We can give it all kinds of lovely names in order to make ourselves feel better, but the bottom line is we want total control over our own lives because that is just the way we want it...don't tell me what to do, do not judge me, do not insist that some things are good and some things are bad because if you do I may have to consider YOU before I consider ME....

And if I do that.....why, don't I become 'less than'? Will I not start to think less of myself and what I want, need, desire?

OR....will I think about myself LESS....

and start to consider the common good.

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