Sunday, July 25, 2004

Faith: Bulwark Against Power

As I daydreamed a bit this morning, pondering our current battle against Islamist ideological terror and the presidential race, it struck me that two concepts more than any others clearly identify the inherent incorrectness of the Islamist (not Islamic) ideology and simultaneously counsel the reelection of the President. These two ideas or forces are, on a certain level, why we have governments in the first place -- one because we must erect bulwarks against our own flawed nature with respect to it, the other because we must organize society to encourage and facilitate it, for it leads to human flourshing. Respectively, they are Power (or more precisely, corrupting human greed for it) and Faith.

Both of these concepts also concern the hierarchy of being in this world we know, and in the world of the divine of which our knowledge is not direct. In accordance with Plato's Forms, that hierarchy we establish here amongst ourselves and between ourselves, animals, and God, is a mere shadow, or an imperfect reflection. Faith is our bridge to the divine. We can have a participation in that more eternal knowledge of the inherent rightness of God's ordering and its relation to our imperfect orderings in this world through faith -- and thus faith is the best and perhaps only possible weapon man has against the corruption and tempation of Power in this world, as Power is a corrupt human desire to become something 'higher' than human and therefore to alter the hierarchy of being. The temptation of Power apparently extends beyond this world -- for Christians, Lucifer fell prey to it. Thus, perhaps true salvation belongs to the souls which, when faced with the light of ultimate and final truth after walking over man's final threshold, can know and fully participate in the proper divine order, whatever it may be. Faith in life is indicative of that ability, knowing Truth and God when revealed. But returning to the more mundane, these thoughts counsel that our structural bulwarks against the rise of Power and its corruption may only slow the inevitable, act as a brake on the decline of Democracy into Tyranny that both Plato and Aristotle predicted and that history has proven.

Applying these ideas to the issues of the day, we can see that Islamism (not necessarily Islam) is not a true faith. True faith is a bulwark against Power, not a tool to achieve it. True faith lifts ones sight to higher things, transplants higher values into the places material, earthly values fill. True faith is confidence that God's ordering will come, that seeking Power on earth for one's self is futile silliness in light of the more perfect, divine order of being. Islamism, on the other hand, is nothing but a tool for power. It expressly aims to destroy human goods and usurp all earthly power for itself and its dogma. Its belief does not conform to reason, but flies against it, asking men to do things reasonable people know from the natural law written on their hearts are wrong. And the promised reward, even its purportedly divine component, is inherently selfish -- virgins in heaven, pleasure and power. We must stridently oppose such a corrupt 'faith' (or more properly, dogma).

Second, men of faith being our best bulwark against Power and corruption, they can best lead the charge against corrupt Islamist ideology. While we can never trust ourselves to a rule of men, placing such faithful men in our positions of power reinforces the structures of our government and assists them in their central task, preventing the decline of democracy into tyranny. Men of faith, however, are men that both have faith and act in conformity with it. They are men whose faith supplements reason and leads to fuller knowledge and a more complete morality. These leaders must follow the guidance of their conscience when crafting and executing our laws.

John Kerry refuses to apply his faith to his consideration of laws, and in so doing he renders whatever faith he has impotent, unable to translate higher values into our societal structure, and ineffectual against the corruption of Power. Demonstrating that he is not a man of faith in the way our President is, Mr. Kerry invokes his faith for political gain -- he claims to be against abortion because of his Catholic faith (trying to keep Catholics on his side), but then refuses to act on his conviction for fear of 'imposing' his beliefs on others (such that his pro-choice base is not threatened by his statement to appeal to the Catholic vote). If Kerry is not above using his faith as a political tool, we must question whether his initiatives and policies are primarily aimed at the public good, or his own good -- his own quest for Power. That is not true leadership. And it is certainly not what we need when we face an enemy convinced that the faiths and values of the West must be wiped from the earth.

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