It’s really lazy to just post this without too much commentary right now, but a lot has been going on for me. I’m going to try and finish out one of my posts here soon. In the mean time, I read this today and felt it was worth sharing. Still available online for free, Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You is a must-read for Christians of any time. There is plenty to think about here.
Contrast the emphasis on humility, meekness, and surrender to heavenly authority Tolstoy emphasizes here, with the dominionism of the Religious Right and the efforts of politicians to play up their religion; in fact, of all US elected officials (federal that is; senators, representatives, govs, executives etc), only one has ever been an atheist (Stark D-CA), and two Buddhists (Hirono D-HW, Johnson D-GA) and two Muslims (Ellison D-MN, Carson D-ID) have been elected in the last five years. The rest have all professed to be Christians, from demigauge Huey Long, a self-professed baptist that literally controlled Louisiana before he was assassinated, to Presbyterian Andrew Jackson, genocidal maniac who forcibly removed an entire nation of people after butchering them before being elected president. Often times, faith is an important aspect of political communication in relating to constituents, as a way of pandering to their values and culture, and serves as an easy way to gain the respect of people so imbued by religion and not spirit. In a move towards more universal acceptance, Kennedy faced a tough time convincing Protestants he wouldn’t be some sort of papist proxy; of course, he would “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Or at least so much as the establishment would see it.
The notion of Christians seizing control of government is antithetical to Chistianity itself; as Tolstoy begins Chapter X,
“Christianity in its true sense puts an end to government. So it was understood at its very commencement; it was for that cause that Christ was crucified.”
Can a President ever really repent for all the things that happen by their hand? If we are complicit in the sins of our society, surely a leader is in some ways the nexus of those decisions which lead to the death of many, the destruction of lives, the feeding of gluttons and the rich. By some measure they must be the means by which evil and power perpetuates; even if their intentions are noble, by cooperating with the system they have propegated it.
Again, can a president repent? Obama has killed
“708 people in 44 predator attacks targeting the Pakistani tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009. For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by the American drones, 140 civilian Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 percent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were innocent civilians.”
“You can’t make an omlet without breaking a few eggs?” you say? People are not eggs.
Also, what sort of omlet is made up of crappy foreign policy littered with derelict asiatic and mideast nations, with civilian casualties rising and US troop suicides climbing to match? That’s the point where you suggest the cook get out of the kitchen, pronto.
Anyway here’s the text.
Excerpt from Chapter X –
“It may well be that government was necessary and is still necessary for all the advantages which you attribute to it,” says the man who has mastered the Christian theory of life. “I only know that on the one hand, government is no longer necessary for ME, and on the other hand, I can no longer carry out the measures that are necessary to the existence of a government. Settle for yourselves what you need for your life. I cannot prove the need or the harm of governments in general. I know only what I need and do not need, what I can do and what I cannot. I know that I do not need to divide myself off from other nations, and therefore I cannot admit that I belong exclusively to any state or nation, or that I owe allegiance to any government. I know that I do not need all the government institutions organized within the state, and therefore I cannot deprive people who need my labor to give it in the form of taxes to institutions which I do not need, which for all I know may be pernicious. I know that I have no need of the administration or of courts of justice founded upon force, and therefore I can take no part in either. I know that I do not need to attack and slaughter other nations or to defend myself from them with arms, and therefore I can take no part in wars or preparations for wars. It may well be that there are people who cannot help regarding all this as necessary and indispensable. I cannot dispute the question with them, I can only speak for myself; but I can say with absolute certainty that I do not need it, and that I cannot do it. And I do not need this and I cannot do it, not because such is my own, my personal will, but because such is the will of him who sent me into life, and gave me an indubitable law for my conduct through life.”
Whatever arguments may be advanced in support of the contention that the suppression of government authority would be injurious and would lead to great calamities, men who have once outgrown the governmental form of society cannot go back to it again. And all the reasoning in the world cannot make the man who has outgrown the governmental form of society take part in actions disallowed by his conscience, any more than the full-grown bird can be made to return into the egg-shell.
“But even it be so,” say the champions of the existing order of things, “still the suppression of government violence can only be possible and desirable when all men have become Christians. So long as among people nominally Christians there are unchristian wicked men, who for the gratification of their own lusts are ready to do harm to others, the suppression of government authority, far from being a blessing to others, would only increase their miseries. The suppression of the governmental type of society is not only undesirable so long as there is only a minority of true Christians; it would not even be desirable if the whole of a nation were Christians, but among and around them were still unchristian men of other nations. For these unchristian men would rob, outrage, and kill the Christians with impunity and would make their lives miserable. All that would result, would be that the bad would oppress and outrage the good with impunity. And therefore the authority of government must not be suppressed till all the wicked and rapacious people in the world are extinct. And since this will either never be, or at least cannot be for a long time to come, in spite of the efforts of individual Christians to be independent of government authority, it ought to be maintained in the interests of the majority. The champions of government assert that without it the wicked will oppress and outrage the good, and that the power of the government enables the good to resist the wicked.”
But in this assertion the champions of the existing order of things take for granted the proposition they want to prove. When they say that except for the government the bad would oppress the good, they take it for granted that the good are those who at the
present time are in possession of power, and the bad are those who are in subjection to it. But this is just what wants proving. It would only be true if the custom of our society were what is, or rather is supposed to be, the custom in China; that is, that the good always rule, and that directly those at the head of government cease to be better than those they rule over, the citizens are bound to remove them. This is supposed to be the custom in China. In reality it is not so and can never be so. For to remove the heads of a government ruling by force, it is not the right alone, but the power to do so that is needed. So that even in China this is only an imaginary custom. And in our Christian world we do not even suppose such a custom, and we have nothing on which to build up the supposition that it is the good or the superior who are in power; in reality it is those who have seized power and who keep it for their own and their retainers’ benefit.
The good cannot seize power, nor retain it; to do this men must love power. And love of power is inconsistent with goodness; but quite consistent with the very opposite qualities–pride, cunning, cruelty.
Without the aggrandizement of self and the abasement of others, without hypocrisies and deceptions, without prisons, fortresses, executions, and murders, no power can come into existence or be maintained.
“If the power of government is suppressed the more wicked will oppress the less wicked,” say the champions of state authority. But when the Egyptians conquered the Jews, the Romans conquered the Greeks, and the Barbarians conquered the Romans, is it possible that all the conquerors were always better than those they conquered? And the same with the transitions of power within a state from one personage to another: has the power always passed from a worse person to a better one? When Louis XVI. was removed and Robespierre came to power, and afterward Napoleon–who ruled then, a better man or a worse? And when were better men in power, when the Versaillist party or when the Commune was in power? When Charles I. was ruler, or when Cromwell? And when Peter III. was Tzar, or when he was killed and Catherine was Tzaritsa in one-half of Russia and Pougachef ruled the other? Which was bad then, and which was good? All men who happen to be in authority assert that their authority is necessary to keep the bad from oppressing the good, assuming that they themselves are the good PAR EXCELLENCE, who protect other good people from the bad.
But ruling means using force, and using force means doing to him to whom force is used, what he does not like and what he who uses the force would certainly not like done to himself. Consequently ruling means doing to others what we would we would not they should do unto us, that is, doing wrong.
To submit means to prefer suffering to using force. And to prefer suffering to using force means to be good, or at least less wicked than those who do unto others what they would not like themselves.
And therefore, in all probability, not the better but the worse have always ruled and are ruling now. There may be bad men among those who are ruled, but it cannot be that those who are better have generally ruled those who are worse.
It might be possible to suppose this with the inexact heathen definition of good; but with the clear Christian definition of good and evil, it is impossible to imagine it.
If the more or less good, and the more or less bad cannot be distinguished in the heathen world, the Christian conception of good and evil has so clearly defined the characteristics of the good and the wicked, that it is impossible to confound them. According to Christ’s teaching the good are those who are meek and long-suffering, do not resist evil by force, forgive injuries, and love their enemies; those are wicked who exalt themselves, oppress, strive, and use force. Therefore by Christ’s teaching there can be no doubt whether the good are to be found among rulers or ruled, and whether the wicked are among the ruled or the rulers. Indeed it is absurd even to speak of Christians ruling.
(all emphasis added)