Monday, January 04, 2016

Democracy, Deocracy and Demoncracy

In trying to type the word "democracy", I made two typos: demoncracy and deocracy. It was interesting that I found that I kept making one or other of these typos in a single document and this has led me to think about the political systems that we have in place, especially after reflecting on the reality of the Powers of Darkness and Light.

In our time, we have a tendency to believe that Democracy is the best system of government that a country can have, after all, many systems have been tried in the past and all have been found wanting in some way. Yet, politicians as great as Sir Winston Churchill have noted that Democracy is not all that it is cracked up to be. He famously says, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

Christians can always appreciate the problems with any form of politics. Man is a fallen being, tugged between Good and Evil by a capricious world, subject to powers beyond his control. Influencing Democracy at the most fundamental level are Demoncracy and Deocracy: the rules of the demons and the rule of God (though I am rather unnerved by such a wicked portmanteau word confusing Greek and Latin in the same way as "television"). Here we see the objectivity of moral values at work. There are principles which are inherently wrong despite a majority voting that they are right. If every single American citizen were to vote that first-born children should be minced alive to appease Molech, that would not stop the practice from being an abhorrent and vile abuse of human lives. If objective moral values exist, then we not only have evidence for the existence of God, but we also have a fundamental problem with democracy in that the majority can vote for something inherently wrong, even on the basis of the very best of intentions.

I will hold my hands up right now and say that I'm not really what one might term a "political animal" in the sense that I have practically no training in political science or political philosophy whatsoever. I rely on those who are more experienced to guide me and pull me up where my thinking goes wrong. However, I do believe in God and that my belief is not only reasonable but justified given how I have experienced the world around me. The more evil I see in the world, paradoxically, the more I worship God because the only recourse I have to the end of that pernicious and pervasive Evil is in the Being of God Himself. I see evil at work in every political system and I do earnestly pray to God for our deliverance.

Reflecting on  something Fr Anthony said to me, I think those who point at the existence of war in the "spiritual realm" have hit upon something profound. St John the Divine reveals to us in the twelfth Chapter of the Apocalypse that:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,   And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.   And the great dragon was cast out , that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.   And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down , which accused them before our God day and night.   And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.   Therefore rejoice , ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
We are therefore faced with the fact that the struggle between Good and Evil is not only real but universal. It is not a theoretical battle, but an actual battle that we must face, each and every one of us in our dealings in this world. Fr Anthony reflects on how the Gnostics view this battle and how their dualism pits the material world against the spiritual world. We Christians know that we are not saved by knowledge in itself save that of the Salvation obtained for us by Our Lord Jesus Christ and that we have to put that knowledge to use in love. We know further that while the will of the flesh is opposed to the will of the spirit, human beings are both flesh and spirit and only receive true unification of the two in the Jesus Christ Who is both God and Man. As the Quicunque Vult states:
For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess : that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds : and Man of the substance of his Mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man : of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead : and inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood; Who, although he be God and Man : yet he is not two, but one Christ; One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh : but by taking of the Manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance : but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man : so God and Man is one Christ;
This is the perfection that He offers us: true union of our flesh and spirit. We should not seek the release from the flesh for then we would simply cease to be, but that we should be conformed and transformed in the same way. I, unashamedly, quote my favourite Biblical verse again:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be : but we know that, when he shall appear , we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (I John iii.2)
However, this continues:
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth * also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.   Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested , that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John ii.3-8)
If our democracy is indeed flawed then there will be things that we vote for that are, in fact, morally wrong despite believing the contrary. This is, essentially, demoncracy, since humanity is imprisoned away from the Good by the Power of Darkness. God's law will therefore seem to be wrong in the eyes of such a democracy. It will seem to be unjust because, from the aspect of Eternity, there are no rights, no entitlements, no privileges, no mitigations that human beings can possess. We lose the right to what happens to our bodies when we die and, if there is no Resurrection, we even lose ourselves at the moment of decease.

If there is no God, then all issues of equality and inequality, of right and responsibility, of truth, justice, right and wrong, all end in the grave. They affect only the living and then only for a short time. Thus the grossest injustice can go unpunished by the one who then blows himself up in a blaze of glory. A Godless society can shriek all that it likes against the suicide bomber, but there can be no justice.

In the presence of God, however, there is only one justice and that lies in the hand of the Divine. It is a justice that comes from the very being of God as being supreme. It will scandalize those who seek to be in control of their justice. One can accuse God of being racist or sexist or elitist or whatever, but to no effect: He is in control. "He shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is terrible to the kings of the earth." (Psalm lxxvi.12)

Human beings as political animals have the choice between demoncracy and deocracy. If they live by their own values then they live arbitrarily without a compass to say that what they believe is truly right or wrong. If they reject the existence of objective moral values then they must accept a majority ruling that runs contrary to their morality even if it scandalizes them at the most basic level. If they accept the existence of objective morals, then they must consider the source which can only be in a being transcendent of human understanding. While there is both demoncracy and deocracy, there is war: a war in Heaven and in Earth. With the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, there is the possibility of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men. However, we must be prepared to be scandalized by God and to wrestle with Him as Jacob did in order to find our identity in Him, to know how our philosophies differ from His and to seek the reconciliation.

As St John says to us, we must seek purity in ourselves. This can only come about through a deeply prayerful and reflective life. We don't have to be erudite scholars because the Kingdom of Heaven is open to any human being that desires it. A prayer life based on the Lord's Prayer and the Mass, an intellectual life based on the study of the Bible  a work life centred around the Beatitudes and the Works of Mercy and an identity based on a life in the Church will bring us ever closer and closer to what is truly Good and that will be God Himself.


Warwickensis said...

Fr Anthony commented, but his comment got lost! I replicate it below:

"I am very heartened to see my own thoughts provoking ideas that prove to be that much more profound and lasting on this ephemeral blogosphere. Referring to salvation by knowledge, methinks, is something like trying to run Windows programmes on a Macintosh. The whole notion of salvation (théôsis) is totally different from western scholastic categories, and it isn't knowledge in the meaning of information or intellectual learning. It isn't even someone else's secret. All the same, your thought is profound. Perhaps you with your penchant for mathematics should see how quantum physics relates to all this. Challenges abound for 2016 - and happy New Year!"

My reply:

"Thank you for taking the trouble to read this, Father. I'm going to have to think and develop some thoughts on this further. Of course, if we take the standard Anglican Catholic stance of no binding doctrinal development after the Seventh Oecumenical Council, then we cannot regard a scholastic view of knowledge as being in anyway dogmatic.

There are two avenues that I might wish to explore here.

(a) Knowledge as in recognition (with the presence of the 'gn' as in gnosis) - to wit, the recognition of our salvation;

(b) Knowledge as something even vaguely approaching the sexual connotation of the word. Salvation as a deeper relationship with God that transcends the intimacy of husband and wife.

As for Quantum Mechanics... hmm... we'll see!"

Auriel Ragmon said...

This means that as an American I can vote for neither Hillary nor Trump. Woe is me. That leaves Bernie!

Jim of Olym

Warwickensis said...

Ouch! American politics always reminds me of trying to answer the question "Have you stopped beating your wife, yet?" with a "yes" or a "no".