David Hines
Making altarations
By David Hines
December 29, 2013

If you've spent any time at all online, you've surely seen it. Someone declares that if you believe in Christ you will be saved. Then one professed believer flames another, naming him an apostate over a disagreement about a pin's capacity for terpsichorean cherubim. At times and in places throughout history the flames have considerably more than Internet metaphor.

It's the old bait and switch. What was deemed necessary and sufficient becomes moot and inadequate. A profession of belief is expected to result in total agreement with another person's philosophical and political opinions, however rash and ill-informed. It's an example of the dictum expressed by C. S. Lewis: Too few come to Christ seeking the truth of God, and too many come seeking support for their political opinions.

Political parties pursue a similar strategy. Appeal to some of your concerns and bring you into the coalition. Then they expect you to buy into the entire agenda, including things you may adamantly oppose. Fail to play along and take one for the team, and you're branded an apostate. Atheists on the liberal side are as adamant about imposing orthodoxy as are believers on the right, if not even more so.

The resemblance is no accident. In ancient times religion and state were one. A person was expected to worship king and queen as avatars of the state deities. Antiochus killed Jews for not offering the expected sacrifices to the state gods. Christians were similarly prosecuted in Rome for opposing the state religion. The divine right of kings has morphed into the divine right of a democratic (in theory, though not in practice) collective to impose its will at gunpoint.

There are provisions in the US against requiring a religious test to hold public office. The prohibition seems to be unnecessary and redundant. The two parties impose their own religious, or anti-religious, tests upon candidates. Presidential candidates on the right are expected to kowtow to the Christian Coalition and AIPAC. Those on the right won't stand a chance without bowing before Planned Parenthood and, well, AIPAC. Influential lobbyists have a way of posing their own quasi-religious tests.

Despite the parties' sectarian squabbles there is one state religion. All are expected to worship the sacrificial lambs sent abroad to impose imperium. It matters not whether the particular soldier joined for the money, promised future benefits, or because some judge gave the choice between army and prison; they are quasi-religious heroes as a function of wearing the costume.

Lest some consider this too harsh, take a case in point: Bradley/Chelsea Manning. For those who think the guy done wrong, note that although imprisoned he is still in uniform, and thus a de facto hero. For those who think he done good, a lot of other somebodies in uniform are being less than heroic in letting him rot in the brig.

It's heretical to question American exceptionalism – the belief that our government can impose double standards. Nukes, chemical weapons, electoral interference in other nations, and starting wars are forbidden to all but the exceptional one. Despite the sectarian squabbles and the widely perceived dysfunction, one amalgam of politicians on earth must be accepted on faith as being the official representative of the Almighty. Only a heretic could question the holy beneficence of its commands and its bullets. The litany is unequivocal: Accept on faith the war calculations of officials who can't even balance a checkbook, or you're an apostate who is blaming America first.

It's said that one cannot serve both God and Mammon. Both are jealous deities. Those who try to amalgamate them into a duumvirate (or quadrumvirate, if one considers the Trinity) are bound to get on the wrong side of one or the other. Which one would you rather cross?

© David Hines


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David Hines

Note: David Hines passed away on April 1, 2017.

Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)


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