Clarence Thomas, The Economy, and Natural Law

Archimedes once claimed that if you gave him a fulcrum he could move the whole world. He understood leverage.

In the last 160 years, but beginning even before that, the world has been moved. We do not live or think as people did 200 years ago. This is not an unmixed curse. Life 200 years ago was not ideal and there were no “giants in the land” in 1809. Or maybe there were – and maybe there are now too.

But the world has been moved. People no longer believe in truth, only in opinions (that which is “true for you”). People no longer believe in goodness, only utility  (“good for you”). And certainly, people don’t believe in beauty, only in what is pleasing to the senses, or at least stimulating.

Nothing, therefore, is subject to a standard beyond the isolated individual. Whatever else you can say of this age, it is an age of despair, quite literally. The common person and the intellectual both deny the possibility of truth, goodness, and beauty and therefore, since these are the food of the soul, they deny the possibility of spiritual and psychological growth.

This cannot last. Nothing unnatural can last.

Which raises the question: how did we get to such an unnatural state?

The answer is intriquing, if not ironic. We came to such an unnatural state by denying nature. In other words, we deny, formally as a culture, the concept of nature – we deny that things have a nature that should be honored, respected, and treated as it is due.

That is the fulcrum on which the world was moved.

Consider, The United States is founded, formally, on a doctrine. That doctrine is or at least contains “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Christians like to spend a lot of time on the word “God” in the declaration, and I suppose that makes sense. But the battle wasn’t lost over the question of God. It was lost over the question of nature.

Our forefathers declared independence because their rulers had violated the laws of nature. There was simply no other justification for the war. The tea tax was not egregious. The amount wasn’t the point.

The point was that it violated the laws of nature.

Now we have, sitting in the chair of the vice president of our United States, a man who mocked a potential Supreme Court Justice during his confirmation hearings. And what did he mock him for? Believing in “natural law.” Clarence Thomas was confirmed, but not without staggering opposition.

We are a country founded on a doctrine we no longer believe in. The world has moved.

If not nature, then what do we ground our national spirit in? For some, a fairy tale past of devout relgious men who developed our constitution because they were so godly. For others, a “way of life” that revolves around consumption of useless goods. (We are dying of consumption). For others, an abstract idea of freedom drawn from whatever impulse dominates at the moment.

When any people forgets the law of nature, written on our hearts by God, discoverable with ease through daily practice and the most modest of observations, that people has pulled out the pins that uphold their souls and communities.

I do not know how deep our current economic crisis will go, but I do believe it is rooted in a rejection of the natural law and that, if this is the day of reckoning, as president Obama has suggested, it may be much deeper and longer and painful than we are willing to admit.

If you want to see the future of the American economy, I might suggest you look at the American school system. With Wall Street, Hollywood, and Washington, DC, our schools are the fortress of the war on nature.

And the Christian schools, while perhaps not aggressive in their opposition, are too often utterly indifferent to this idea. “If it ain’t in the Bible, I don’t believe the sun rises in the morning.” As thought the Bible is at war with the nature of things.

Nature never loses. That’s just the nature of things.

So please, restore this idea to the forefront of your thinking. Think about nature. Think with the idea of nature. Treat things according to their natures. Live according to nature. Follow the natural law. And teach nature to students in a manner consistent with nature. You cannot succeed any other way.

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5 Responses

  1. In order to understand the nature of something, doesn’t one need to build a relationship with it? If one wants to study the nature of an an ant, wouldn’t one have to spend time observing, interacting, and using the senses in order to understand its nature? One would also have to understand one’s own nature to rightly percieve the information. Investing time and contemplation are a must.
    I am thinking that the backbone of the Sciences is the understanding of natures (natural, social, theological) and that understanding can only happen with a right relationship to that which is studied.

    • Becky,

      Exactly.

      WOTH

      Your spirit will take you a long way – and your students too! Keep an eye out for a special pre-conference CD special. I’m hard at work on the program now so hope to have something posted soon.

  2. Regarding the last paragraph~can you help me with how to do this? I’m trying to think of ways. Maybe it’s so obvious I can’t see it, or maybe I really am missing it entirely. Probably the latter. 😉

    • It isn’t necessarily obvious, but you do have to avoid thinking too deeply. Try to figure out what things are and what they are worth. Do that based, not on what you feel about them, but on their natures and how good an example they are of the kind of thing they are.

      Focus on giving honor to everything according as it is due them.

      Think hard and constantly about what a student is and how one should be treated.

      On one level, you can’t think apart from the idea. But in the modern world we try so hard to do so that we are all confused. more than anything, therefore, it is a matter of putting the idea in front of your mind where it belongs and not letting it be taken away.

      I hope that helps. Will you be at our conference this summer? That will be three days of trying to answer your question in more specific ways.

      • I’d love to be at the conference, but alas, I will be unable to attend. The CD’s are inviting, though. 🙂 I’ll ponder what you’ve said above and see how it goes. I’m also pondering what you’ve written about teaching to a child’s soul. I homeschool and also teach a couple outside classes, and I want to make sure I don’t just teach *at* students but that I teach *them* (if that makes sense!).

        Thanks, Andrew!

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