Amazed by America

Every act of teaching rests on the implicit or explicit assumption of authority and trust. Student, parent, and community always assume the teacher knows what he is talking about and is therefore trustworthy. When this is not the case, as in every form of coerced schooling, the end cannot be anything other than cynicism.

Such cynicism cannot but put the community at risk for the simple reason that it arises from a failure of authority – a quiet form of tyranny.

The extent of American acceptance of this tyrannical behavior on the part of our governments astounds one who reflects on it. How much longer can we continue without a dictator, rising cynically on the rubble of some state created crisis or another?

9 Responses

  1. Andrew,

    Yes, I have despaired of hoping for leadership of the traditional church, or even the not-so-traditional church, to speak the truth and shepherd its flock in these matters. I guess my wistful comment was a sigh of frustration.

    My own church leadership follows the mantra to “keep the main thing [the Gospel], the main thing,” defining the Gospel pretty narrowly to just salvation. That’s a great thing as far as it goes. And I understand the motives, even the wisdom, behind that. Then, the pastor asked during the last presidential election that church attenders not place any political bumper stickers on their cars. So they wouldn’t be seen in the parking lot and turn people off. Now, I can even stretch a bit to understand that, although I would prefer to live in a world where we can treat others and be treated as adults with opinions, instead of as children who can’t handle it, and not be so paranoid that people won’t park and come in because they see a Republican bumper sticker. After all, that won’t stop the Holy Spirit to get the person inside the building, if indeed, the person is being providentially drawn there in the first place.

    He also asked us to do it in order to preserve church unity. It just seemed so childish to me. If we can’t maintain unity in our church despite different political opinions, having or not not having bumper stickers won’t make any real difference, frankly. The problem isn’t what’s on the car; it’s what in our hearts and minds.

    Besides, when I think about it, how did I throw off the blinders of left-wing political beliefs? ** It was by living around Christians who wore their worldview on their sleeves, who spoke clearly and plainly about the hot-button political topics of the day, and who based it all on God’s Word no matter what the culture around them was saying. **

    If the church, leadership or laity, isn’t doing that, God help us all.

    • If the main thing is my salvation, and if my salvation is a decision, then I suppose we can all become Republicans and be sure not to mention it on our cars.

      I guess I see things differently. The main thing, to my understanding, is Christ exalted in and above all things. Anything else fragments us.

      The notion that the Republican party is Christian or even more Christian seems like an incredibly strong dose of wish-fulfillment thinking too. But now I’ve been heard to say things I didn’t say, so I’ll stop and wait for the blows.

      • I’m not sure what you mean in your post in reply to mine. I am an indepedant and have been even since I was old enough to vote. I have voted for candidates from both parties. I’m not a the-Repub.-party-is-the-only-Christian-party (that has a chance at winning)-Christian. (Did you assume so because of my “left-wing” comment? When I said “left-wing,” I meant just that, not liberal. I meant Marxist, atheist left-wing.)

        Anyway, my point, perhaps ill communicated, was that I wish we could all be grown up about it, be passionate about what we believe in the political realm, and be open about it. We can love and join hands in Christian fellowship with those who have different political beliefs. And I aprpeciate that at our church. We CAN keep the main thing the main thing… without resorting to childish censorship, even if it’s voluntary.

        Robust thinking and talking across political lines is a good thing within the church. But if we’re all too afraid to say anything, we lose the challenge we need from others who see things differently. We lose the opportunity to open others’ eyes to a different point of view. Maybe I’m too idealistic. Maybe this isn’t realistic. I have endured screeds from others who actulaly weren’t interested in dialogue. But I have benefited from honest discourse as well.

        (If you think that I heard things you did not say, please tell me what they are. I don’t want to misinterpret you. This would be more helpful than a general statement (your last line), which I’m not sure what you mean by that, but seems to infer something negative in relation to my last post?? Or maybe you are referring to readers in general reacting poorly to your Repb. party is not Christian comment? More clarity, less wit, please. Some of us just aren’t that sophisticated.

        • Sharaya

          I’m sorry. I did not mean to say you are a Republican or that you were hearing things I wasn’t saying. I was hurling flames at a straw man and you called me out on it.

          In other words, I was creating a reactionary Christian who says you have to vote Republican to be a Christian, then imagining him reading over my shoulder and being inconsiderate of me – as I was of him.

          Thanks for calling me out on it in such a kind way. Having re-read my post I can see even more clearly how it was potentially offensive to you.

          To be more clear, I did not mean that you were suggesting anything about the relationship between Christainity and the Republican party (though your pastor might possibly have been – I don’t know because I don’t know the context of his comments) and I wasn’t meaning to say that you had heard things I didn’t say, but that the imaginary Christian refered to above might have.

          I’m very sorry.


          • Your apology is happily accepted. Now I understand your words. Your honesty and quick reply is much appreciated, even admired. 🙂

            THANK YOU for all you are doing, Andrew, in the classical, Christian education movement and the issues you bring up in such a thoughtful way here on Quiddity. It is one of my very favorite blogs…and I’m pretty picky! You came to give teacher training at my kids’ classical Christian school this past summer. As a parent, I heard the teachers talking about it. It was well received and had a powerful impact.

            The Lord is blessing through you in a great way.

            It is a pleasure to comment with you.

  2. Sharaya,

    That quotation by de Tocqueville expresses it quite nicely. The question, “where are you, oh church?” is wistful.

    The traditional American church isn’t going to help us on this one in any formal way. If it defends the right of to assemble freely and gets hot about that it could help. It could also help just by keeping people away from the intellectuals. Otherwise, I don’t look for much from the leadership.

    What we need if we are to have any hope at all is a continued movement toward decentralization, beginning with where we buy our groceries.

  3. Oh, I forgot to include my asterisk note from above:

    * Leading strings in the 19th century were strings by which children were supported when beginning to walk. To be in leading strings was to be in a state of infancy or dependence, or in pupilage (a ward or minority) under the guidance of others.

  4. Ditto, a la Cloward-Piven.

    However, Americans don’t need a crisis to bend the knee to tyranny. Some of this comes from human nature, which wants both to be free and to be led. The Christian is blessed with the perfect solution in his relationship to His King and Friend. The non-Christian is put into a dilemma for which American democracy offers a solution that appears to be one thing, but is actually another:

    “I have always thought that servitude
    of the regular, quiet and gentle kind
    which I have just described
    might be combined more easily than is commonly believed
    with some of the outward forms of freedom;
    and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.

    Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions;
    they want to be led,
    and they wish to remain free;

    as they cannot destroy either one or the other of these contrary propensities,
    they strive to satisfy them both at once.
    They devise a sole, tutelary [protective, guarding, support-giving], and all-powerful form of government,
    but elected by the people.
    They combine the principle of centralization
    and that of popular sovereignty;

    this gives them a respite;
    they console themselves for being in tutelage
    by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians.

    Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings*
    because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons,
    but the the people at large that holds the end of his chain.

    By this system the people shake off their state of dependence
    just long enough to select their master,
    and then relapse into it again.”

    ~ Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

    So, we don’t necessarily need a despot to be under tyranny. We embrace the chains of “the public” as our master. “The public” is what we perceive what most people think, which is heavily influenced by univ. intellectuals, media and Hollywood… the institutions that have the most “social currency” at the time. (Where are you church?) And “the public” at large is such an easy puppet in the palm of the Evil One.

    And that is a more dangerous, and more likely, form of despotism in America.

  5. I, too, have had these same thoughts. How much longer indeed.

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