Friday, June 06, 2008

Relationship of Church and State

Being raised in a rationalist, modernist, secular home (my father was an atheist and an engineer), I never thought much about this problem. But I now see that it is a big (and probably gorwing) part of political rhetoric - from the religious right, from the secular left, and now even from those Christians who believe their leftist politics are not only compatible with their Christian beliefs, they believe that their Christian beliefs demand that they oppose the war and that they work against racism, environmental degradation, and economic exploitation and oppression. And, of course, in bygone eras, the issue was much more on famous thinkers' minds, as one sees in the enormous City of God by Augustine.

So we come, once again, to Dante, whose works are shot through with the problem of how to be a Christian in a secular state, or whether or to what extent the state should be Christianized. And although I haven't thought much on the problem, I see it come up in my rewriting of Dante, like he's guiding the imagery, just because I know his words so well.

So I got to brag on this one image. I have one particularly odious little city official standing near the church - not IN the church, not far away from it, but NEAR it. Maybe TOO NEAR it. So when the church spire collapses, it falls right on him and squishes him. Get it? Too close to the church, close enough to abscond with its authority and corrupt it, but not close enough to get any protection or guidance from it. Man did that work out well!


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