Monday, December 27, 2010

Quote of the day: on the clergy and the army

"My Friend, the Clergy have been in all ages and Countries as dangerous to Liberty as the Army.  Yet I love the Clergy and the Army.  What can we do without them in this wicked world."

- John Adams (1735-1826), Founding Father and second president of the United States, Letter to Benjamin Rush, September 1, 1809, quoted in The Founders on Religion:  A Book of Quotations, edited by James H. Hutson, (Princeton:  2005), pg. 66.

17 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

At least the Army deals with the real world in seeking to bring peace. The clergy seek to sell a bill of goods to those who will "bite".

Pinky said...

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How much you want to bet, Angie?
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
The American military is supporting liberal democracy, or Representative Republic and seeking to support the right to vote to those struggling democratic governments, just getting off the ground.

It is a liberal democracy that allows for individuality in regards to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Of course I am not talking about a miltary State!

Pinky said...

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Hey, Angie!
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Try this one on for size.
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"The American military is working on behalf of the corporatocracy in making the world safe for the multinationals."
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We've been involved in too many depositions of democratically elected officials in other countries for your statement to be correct.
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
I recognize that there are no ideal States, but ours, in its form, is the best, I believe. America is to a balance/separation of power, limited government, and individual liberty.

I read a book awhile back that did disturb me, "The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man". It is the economy, stupid (me)! But, there are just as many dangers on erring on the side of Marxist ideology, as capitalistic investments.

Corruption happens whenever the rule of law is dieregarded for expediency, gain, or revenge. And how can America "save itself" from corruption if/when they do business with those that tempt them from protecting the Constitution and their people?

I am a nave when it comes to world politics. But, I am learning. It is hard to not be cynical about everything, I suppose. The best we can do, is what I keep telling myself...

Mark in Spokane said...

Angie,

Amongst the founders, only Washington and Hamilton favored the establishment of a standing army. Most of the founders thought that standing armies were a serious threat to republican government. For the founders, the power of religion and the power of the military necessitating reducing the ability of the state to deploy the force of either. Thus, the idea of non-establishment and the reluctance to permit standing armies.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Mark,
A friend and I were talking about the "standing army" just the other day. I suggested and she agreed that in today's world, we couldn't do without a standing Army.

I think this is the problem with the START treaty. We have many enemies that are not trustworthy. And the only way is mutual destruction. Didn't our Founders understand human nature enough to want a balance and separation of power in our own government. We can't allow China, Russia, Iran, and N. Korea to run the world, can we?

Pinky said...

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We can't allow China, Russia, Iran, and N. Korea to run the world, can we?
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Who should we "allow ... to run the world," Angie?
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You seem to have put your finger on the main point of interest here. And, your answer could very well lead us in a positive direction here.
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

I have confessed on this blog that I am in the process of becoming more informed regarding international affairs, so, with that in mind....

Certainly, there are those who suggest that America shouldn't be allowed to "run the world". That is why we are having the argument about "cap and trade", the environment, in general. Americans have to pay, while the Chinese don't agree to any form of "discipline". And with other countries not equally supporting and benefitting from U.N negotiations, what will we have? I personally think that any beauracratic form of governing, which the U.N. is, can't help but be corrupted, esp. because the standards of ethical behavior is not "standardized". America suffers because of it. There is no balance and separation of powers here. But, globalized power is about corporate interests, which ends up in the hands of those at the top of the corporatacracy.....as you say, Pinky. and how much power does organized crime hold? I don't really know....

Differences in culture aren't negotiable in some cultures. This is why we have the disagreement about Shari'a law in the West. So, how are we to connect East and West when there are so many differences?

Pinky said...

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Personally, I'd like to get into this with you, Angie. I need to work my thinking out on it as well as does anyone else. I have no "cast in concrete" understanding--that's for sure.
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I personally think that any bureaucratic form of governing, which the U.N. is, can't help but be corrupted, esp. because the standards of ethical behavior is not "standardized". America suffers because of it.
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The U.N. is sort of a republican institution, right? Nothing against the idea of republicanism. But, that is what it is.
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To say that it is corruptible is to admit that any government is vulnerable to the same forces.
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We have a government that has--through some strange twist of events--come to the place where it is able to have general support to operate in secrecy.
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But, there are those people "out there" that are telling us about the corruption and they are showing us facts to prove their data. Wiki-leaks? Yet, there remains massive support for secrecy in high places of government as though anything else is unpatriotic. G.W. Bush and his advisory team (Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, etal) played that one to the hilt. And the present administration doesn't seem to be adverse to the ideas either.
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This recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to make humongous contributions to political campaigns is a high profile point of interest regarding corruption.
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How can we trust the democratic principles of a government that creates rules allowing it to keep secrets from the electorate?
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Why are we in Iraq or any other economic market in the world with our armed forces?
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Pinky said...

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I think we have this problem of thinking that history came to an end with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
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With the greatest respect for the Founders and their genius, we must realize that "time marches on" and--for that reason alone--we can understand that we have not come to a perfect place. Benjamin Franklin gave us the challenge to see if we could keep our form of government. We are not a society on paper; but, we are real people in real times and we need leaders to get us out of the excrement of corruption that we have come to live with during these trying times.
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We cannot defend the past as though it is some how sacrosanct. It is not and we are not involved in the prophetic unfolding of some plan made before the beginning of time.
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Nor can we trust our political leaders as they have been subjected to the threats of the hit men that took the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr. out.
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We live with a generation of vipers.
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
My "intuition" tells me that there are two main categorical views vying for power.

One is the religious. The Roman Church seems to be willing to confess "their sin" regarding holding power, and making mistakes in the past, for the sake of tolerance of the three montheistic religions. The problem, as I see it, is how can we trust that radicals still won't be radical in thier quest for supremacy. And it will mean Shari'a law....which is undemocratic concerning human rights....children, and women.

The other side vying for power is the anit-religious, who want to suppress religion and use it to bring order. Such a "State" would be communisitc and possibly militaristic...

What is the best for humankind? Is religion internalized such that one should leave "well enough alone", or should education benefit these to further the secular vision? And what about the secular vision? How is that view not to trample upon those that don't have the capacity to get beyond their religious identity? and what of ethics when it comes to these two ways of thinking?

So balancing power between the religous and secular views of the world is how we go forward? How do we do that, except by our form of government? Wasn't this what the Foudners had in mind?

Pinky said...

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I don't know the answers to those questions, Angie.
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We are created and we exist in society. We are social beings unlike some lone grizzly bear up in the Alaskan tundra.
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Life is presented to each one of us as a personal reality.
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In the final analysis, we live with our own self and we must be true to that self or we are nothing.
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The power to control the government lies within the people. We need leaders who can connect with us and who are willing to follow up on that connection no matter what the threats are to which they will be exposed.
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You gotta know that our would be leaders are threatened on a daily basis. And, all those who make the threats are crackpots. It is an accepted rule of governance that assassinations work.
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I think Americans need to understand that fact of life.
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The bad guys almost always pose as the good guys....
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Pinky said...

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ERATA
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And, all those who make the threats are crackpots.
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Should have read:

And, all those who make the threats are NOT crackpots.
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
I recognize that not understanding balance of power brings unaccountablity to those in power. I have personal experiences to prove this...

When my children were in a Christian school and there was no budget presented to parents, but a 20% increase in tuition, my husband and I tried to ask questions, but were told not to bring these up in the parent/teacher meeting....why NOT? After sitting there and listening to the hardships brought upon many because of the increase, not incrementally, but at one time, I couldn't help myself but stand up and ask the questions! But, afterwards, was shunned, even by previous "friends"!!! So, I know how power works when it is unaccountable...and one must be willing to pay the costs, I suppose!

Personal reality and self-interest is the real issue that everyone should hold onto...otherwise, again the disempowered do the dirty work, while others "rule" and benefit.

So, in regards to world affairs, it is not wrong for nations to be self-interested. And I think this is where the modern world has worked, as it has been the means of diplomacy and balancing self-interests amongst the nations! And must continue to work in the future.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

As to the bad guys posing as the good guys...isn't this why one is innocent until proven guilty? And isn't a right to trial by jury a protection from the accusor (the "good guy")? And isn't this the VERY REASON that religion errs, because of its absolute claims? And does justice rule where religion rules? I dont' think so!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Where does religion rule?

The Islamic Republic of Iran. Geneva around Calvin's time. Not much else comes to mind. Even the quasi-theocratic Puritans barred clergymen from holding political office!

The historical story, from the Investiture Crises of the Middle Ages, to Henry VIII, to James I using religion in support of "the divine right of kings," has been the state hijacking the church and its moral authority over the minds of men for political purposes.

Not the other way around.

It was King Ferdinand who initiated the Spanish Inquisition, not the church. Amazing how the story has been turned around, eh?