Friday, June 15, 2007

We must become the enemy

During the Cold War, there was a line of reasoning that went something like this:
Capitalist democracies can never compete with the "brutal efficiency" of the totalitarian state. All other things being equal, the Soviet model will always produce more soldiers, more tanks, more bombers, and more missiles, and we therefore will always be at a disadvantage so long as we subscribe to the status quo of radical, even dangerous ideas such as unlimited freedom of speech or assembly. We can't let crucial industries go on strike, nor can we allow civil unrest to go unchecked.
Similarly, during and before WWII, there were more than few people who thought that the only way America, England, and Canada would defeat fascism was to, uh, become fascist states themselves. Some of these people were very rich, and some of them tried to put their plans in motion.

I'm sure this isn't an odd occurrence. Go back to 1683, as the Ottoman Armies were marching on Vienna, and no doubt some of the finest minds in Christendom were talking about the "brutal efficiency" of the Turk and his endless supply of Saracens, and how Christians needed to be more like the Mohammedan. Not actually convert, because that would be absurd, but to just blur the lines so much that it wouldn't matter.

It's an odd impulse, really. Maybe it was understandable in 1683, when your average Christian was just one bad harvest from burning witches for having Congress with the Beast. But we, today, here in North America, have inherited the wealthiest and most advanced society on Earth. The United States in particular is powerful beyond the dreams of any ruler, and wealthier today than ever. (Though with inequalities that Rockefeller would have recognized and approved of!)

Some people seem to think this was an accident. That we defeated the Nazis in spite of our democracy, or that we survived the Cold War in spite of the civil unrest of the 1960s. The idea that we have prospered because of our values -- sometimes honored in the breach more than in the observance, of course -- seems awfully hard for some people to believe.

Which brings me to this. Mike at Rational Reasons has written an eloquent response to some native Christians who, apparently with a straight face, have written:
"A Christian worldview advances the ideas of localism and decentralization...."

"Politicians are still called "ministers" as a continual tribute to the Christian worldview...

"Secular humanist leaders despise equality..."
But then go and write:
The separation of church and state is a glorious Christian doctrine. It is not simply Christian culturally, as though it was simply co-opted and perfected by societies that happened to be significantly Christian. The separation of church and state is a biblical doctrine given to us by God as a gracious provision for the orderly functioning of society. It is an essential component of ordered liberty, the socio-political model given to us by God, and the Christian corrective to the non-Christian tendencies toward anarchy and tyranny.
So I'm pretty confused right about now. Because there's not much in the last paragraph that I disagree with, except for the fact that I'm not a Christian. (Or rather, I'm certainly not what those Christians would call a Christian. That, and "ordered liberty" sounds like an oxymoron to me.)

But of course, the separation of Church and State is not a Canadian tradition -- we've never had the wall that Jefferson called for here. We have state funding for Christian schools, Quebec spent decades with Catholic dogma interfering with the state at every level, and if you see the opening of the Ontario Legislature any time, you'll also see the MPPs in Queen's Park recite the Lord's Prayer.

All that aside, you might guess that the nice language about the separation of Church and State is really just a palate-cleanser for us to get to this:
We need to re-educate ourselves about the morally superior nature of Christianity for law and public policy, as well as for private morality, identifying the ways in which Christianity applies the grace of God in society.
Socialism may have been Godless, but you don't need to be a Maoist Cadre to scare that crap out of me while talking about "re-education." You see, the separation of Church and state (ordained by God, remember!) is actually why Church and state need to be fused. Or something. I don't really understand. Mike calls these people the Christaleban, and if you've got a better name leave it in the comments below.

The point is this: I think it's a good bet that Mr. Bloedow, author of "State vs. Church" is going to find a bigger market for his book on establishing a Christian Theocracy today than he would have in, oh, August of 2001. In a time where the main divisions in the world seem to be theologically-inspired (Israel-Palestine, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan) and when, inexplicably, we are exhorted to be afraid of people who can't work a DVD burner, it's understandable, if misguided, that we might take shelter in our own theology. But it won't work. We didn't win WWII by becoming more fascist, we didn't survive the Cold War by becoming more Stalinist, and we aren't going to come out alive on the far end of whatever you call the mess we're in now by becoming less tolerant, more theocratic, or more loudly exhorting the superiority of Christianity to all other religions.

Christians are, admittedly, in a tight spot when it comes to multiculturalism: their faith requires that they admit no Gods before theirs, and I think the safe bet is to allow no Gods equal to theirs, either. But Canada is not, despite the flourishes here and there, an exclusively Christian country. (And, by a strict definition it never has been.) And we've still managed to build one of the world's best places to live. Mr. Bloedow seems to think that's an accident. I think it's an explanation.


Flinger said...

"Christians are, admittedly, in a tight spot when it comes to multiculturalism: their faith requires that they admit no Gods before theirs"

This presents a fixed and monolithic vision of Christian doctrine. I read everything prior to the gospels as superceded by the one commandment (love god, love neighbors) and everything after the gospels as a bastardization of the message. So I don't see a problem with embracing other visions of god. This, likely, is a dissenting opinion within my faith, but most of my fellow Catholics would probably not call me a non-christian for holding it.

Which I guess proves that we are indeed in a tight spot. Never mind

Mike said...

Thanks for the link John. I normally just shy away from these kinds of silly things, but I saw the same things you did at that site and it only reminded me of how the Taliban works (as aptly explained in "Ghost Wars" by Steve Coll).

So if we are to fight the evil that is the Taliban in Afghanistan, it only seems right to fight the madness here, and before they get a chance to destroy our freedom.