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Christianity in the Political Sphere
  • Hey folks,




    I generally take an active stance against the discussion of politics in any way. I view it as the futile attempt of man to create order where it cannot last, and to be honest I feel as though it is beneath any self-respecting, intelligent, sentient mind. I purposely make a mockery of ballot slips by voting for obscure figures and ticking two or three candidates on the same sheet and by drawing obscure cartoon figures of the major political candidates (we have compulsory voting in Australia, so its either take 10 mins to vote around the corner or pay a fine). This probably stems from my hatred towards Sophists and all forms of rhetorical speech. I don't tend to make any such generalisations about anything, however from what I have seen from politicians it is quite difficult to refrain from speaking. I will try to express my views in an orderly fashion but I can't promise anything.




    Born and raised in Australia itself raises questions about morality. A convict colony turned federation sounds like an inspiring story but considering that the local indigenous population suffered immensely in the process under the banner of Christianity, it doesn't feel so glamorous. Recently there have been many attempts to correct this which is good but still leaves much to be done. The political spectrum in Australia today seems to be a great debate between centre-right vs. centre-left/left. It doesn't seem so bad when you consider a country like the US.




    I wish to point out that I do not have anything against the American people however they're political process seems absurd beyond anything I've ever seen.


    I wish to reiterate that this is not an attack on the American people in general. A presidential race that takes almost 1.5-2 years seems excessive. It seems to have created an atmosphere where people are defined by whether they are a Republican or a Democrat. I will use the American model as a representative of all western democracies for my argument since it best displays my views.




    My problem with American politics is that it only accommodates for two specific groups of people; Republican, i.e. religious nutcase, believes the universe was created in 6 periods of 24hrs each, wants to shoot everyone who disagrees with them, claims to defend freedom but stifles it at every turn etc. or Democrat, i.e. godless, near-immoral, claims to defend freedom but goes way too far with its erroneous justifications for freedom, etc. I know these might not be entirely true, but at least thats what I understood from the media (wink-wink).




    I will focus on Republicans because they have taken it upon themselves to speak for Christians - a task at which they have no proficiency. It's quite embarrassing. It all started with Constantine declaring Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire - a colossal scar in the history of the church. By defining  Christianity as the status quo he inevitably warranted the persecution of everyone else BY CHRISTIANS.


  • .... CONTINUED FROM ABOVE!!!!

    Last year we had a federal election. There exists in Australia an obscure political party called the One Nation Party. It is the equivalent of the Tea Party although not as widely followed. While their entire ideology is laughably preposterous, one specific candidate stood out with distinction in her sheer idiocy. Her name was Stephanie Banister. Instead of outlining her 'views' I direct you to the following news report:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_1SFf8t-ko



    Now you see what I mean. She has been dubbed 'Australia's Sarah Palin'. 



    She is the equivalent of many 'conservative' figures and views on the American stage and media, such as:


    1. Sarah Palin - 'Water-boarding is how we baptise terrorists'. - I laughed so hard it took me two days to get the orange juice I was drinking out of my nose. I don't know about you but that is just downright heretical. To equate one of the seven mysteries of the church, the mandate for the legitimacy of our church as the true church through the descent of the Holy Spirit with a form of torture is offensive and sinful. I think the Inquisitors during the Papal (roman) Medieval Inquisition and the Spanish Inquisition would be proud of her. 


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7vdAlzh-jo




    2. Ann Coulter -  "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity". Orange juice all over again. I can't find the words to describe her so you'll have to do that on your own, but I don't understand how forcing Christianity on someone through murder is acceptable. The irony is of cosmic proportions.




    3. Gun control - Sorry but your country is almost medieval with its gun policy. I know its just radical right wing crazies supported by big money who are opponents of gun control, but there is no serious opponent to them in the left wing of the political spectrum. In 1996, a shooting occurred in a place called Port Arthur, Australia. You can read details online but it resulted in the Prime Minister at the time, a CONSERVATIVE, to enact strict gun control laws that have been in place since. 




    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pOiOhxujsE


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYbY45rHj8w


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVuspKSjfgA




    Truly brilliant. It is amusing to see such fervour in defence of a constitutional amendment adopted TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY TWO YEARS AGO IN SEVENTEEN NINETY ONE. I would have thought that less guns in public would mean less chance of getting shot therefore removing the necessity for me to carry a weapon.




    BTW. The Spanish Inquisition wasn't abolished till 1834 - food for thought. 




    4. Anti-gay rhetoric - I don't understand why homosexuality is so much more glorified than any regular sin. It seem as though liars, thieves, adulterers are saintly when compared to homosexuals. It was my belief that the Church IS ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BUT NOT ANTI-HOMOSEXUALS. But now the commandment of love to our neighbours and our enemies can be dispensed with when referring to homosexuals because their 'yucky'. Homosexuality is a sin to be repented and confessed as any other sin is to be. They constantly quote the Old Testament about homosexuality and seemingly refuse to quote St. Paul (Roman 1:24-27). This gives liberals the perfect ammunition considering the laws given by God to Israel do not apply to the people of the New Testament.

  • .... CONTINUED FROM ABOVE!!!!

    These are just some of the arguments that prove politicians and people in the political sphere are as clueless as the day is long. It is surprising to compare politicians with the Pharisees. When Christ asked them about the baptism of John the Baptist, they were shrewd enough to weigh the opposing arguments and didn't just blabber anything that came to mind (like that Phil dude from the Jon Stewart Clip).




    In summation, I invite anyone to correct anything I may have foolishly said (SO LONG AS YOU HAVE PROOF), and invite people to share their views with me on this issue.




    In Christ,


    coptic_deacon




    PS. It might not be directly related to the above but in my opinion this clip is the greatest moment of broadcasting history:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROJKEwYEx8Q

  • While I will not justify Sarah Palin's stupidity, nor will I consider her an actual representative of a Christian political party, is it possible that your own prejudices is clouding her message? 

    I think she intended a pun on the word. Baptize has multiple meanings.  The first and most popular is to initiate the ceremony of baptism, or initiate into Christianity. The second meaning is to label or name someone through the ceremony of baptism. The third meaning, not found in English but taken from the original Greek Greek baptizein to dip, baptize, also taken from baptein to dip, dye; This is how we get the Arabic word "ghattas" and "sabegh" The baptizer dips and dyes a person. Palin's comment, as I understood them, says "we are baptizing (labeling) and dying (coloring them proverbially) people as terrorists who through their actions receive (or are dipped) by water (or water boarding)." I don't think her comments necessitate any Christian initiation. I don't think she meant "We make terrorists Christians by water boarding them.". It was a purely political (negative) statement, that has more political reach in the Christian population. Her statement blurs the lines of separation of Church and state. So your interpretation is not far fetched. I think the whole world interpreted it that way. 

    Regarding the rest of your post, it requires a lot of thinking. Suffice it to say that there is danger in comparing American politics to Australian politics. It is comparing apples to oranges. Social and historical events in one country shape political policy and they are not universal (and often seen as absurd) in other countries.
  • I understand where you're coming from, and what you say is certainly true. But, considering she is a Tea Party nut I don't think she meant it any other way. And while she may have meant it as a joke her audience was probably even dumber than she is (if thats possible). Don't forget it was an NRA rally.

    Not to mention she hasn't made any attempt to defend her statement against 'liberal media hippies'.

    And the similarities in political personalities between our countries is more similar than you think, considering most social, cultural and political influences come from US entertainment and we consume the same types of media products.

    I suppose if I were to let go of the fact that it was a joke (if it was), then my attention would be directed towards her use of a Holy Mystery as a rhetorical device. Not just talking about torture but even about anything. I view rhetoric as incompatible with faith, for if your your beliefs are indeed true, no form of rhetoric is required to substantiate any bit of it. I feel as though it insults the faith in some way.

    But hey, that's just me. 
  • @coptic_deacon

    Many Orthodox fathers were skilled in rhetoric and used it to their advantage, e.g. St John Chrysostom, St Paul.  Did they insult the faith?
  • St. Constantine did not make Christianity that official religion; he made Christianity legal and ended the persecution (granted he did get involved into Church doctrinal issues, but in his reign there was a relative, and I stress RELATIVE, freedom of religion).  Emperor Theodosius is the one who made Christianity the official religion, to the point of anyone else second class citizens and any heretic banished.  

    Concerning rhetoric, St. Severus of Antioch was a lawyer and excellent in rhetoric as well.  It's not rhetoric that's the problem, it's the art of saying nothing in embellishments of vocabulary.  So you need to rethink some of the criticisms you have for rhetoric and for Church history.  You cannot compare pre-enlightenment political thinking to post-enlightenment (Medieval Renaissance) period.  Furthermore, one needs to reconsider that all forms of politics really are an evil in and of itself, whether it is democracy or dictatorship, there's no true political "truth", and we as Christians are called to live to transcend the culture and politics of our society while living to serve the society's needs without treason.

    So I sympathize with your aversion to politics.  In my opinion, politics is when men compete in a delusional manner for (in their delusional ways) the well-being of the state, and will say anything (usually say nothing in embellishments of obfuscations) to achieve the power to, what they call, "serve" the state, or rather dictate for what they believe to be for the state's own good.  Most of the time, politics requires a sense of ambition for power mixed with moral flexibility.  There's no exception, even to the greatest political heroes who are considered "relatively righteous" have also fallen for political evils.

    Many people consider politics a "necessary evil".  It needs to be engaged and partaken of to effect a good change for society, even when the means are questionable.  The questionable means is precisely what makes politics in my opinion an "evil", because in true Christian spirit, the means is the most important path to a goal, even if it means the end of your physical well-being, your suffering, your persecution, even your life.  And the lines are blurred when "exceptions" are taught to achieve a political goal, as much as one tries to become "righteous" along that path.

    Nevertheless, we do not judge.  Just as soldiers are necessary to fulfill a sad reality, a necessary evil for bloodshed, politics seems necessary for the fabric of our pluralistic community.  And so I wish, or I desire that in the spirit of canon law, just as soldiers who shed blood are not allowed the place of holy orders, so shouldn't politicians.  Once you choose that life, you must accept the fact that you have chosen a field that can be at odds with Christian morality.  We see this with Old Testament Kings, as well as Byzantine Emperors, and today's so-called "Christian" leaders.  It's perhaps best to consider that one should not view politics as "right or wrong", but as a game for a goal.

    As for the homosexuality debate, in our society, it goes beyond the issue of homosexual actions in the bedroom.  It's about the redefining of a family unit and the tax system concerning marriage and the benefits given.  It is why it became such a contentious debate.  It's not merely about "civil rights".  They're already given the freedom to do as they please privately and publicly within reason of each societal standards.  And while there are sad stories of Christians who practice bigoted ways against homosexual people, there are also sad outcomes where the family unit in the future is completely dissolved and done away with.  One can simply say, marriage is pointless in a pluralistic society.  To me, it's a religious institution, and I hope they don't force churches to grant marriage licenses to those they don't consider "qualified for marriages, as I hear some stories that actually does happen.


    I will be virulently against that, even if I am called maliciously a "homophobe".


Memorial for HH Pope Shenouda

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