En Garde: Church and State

I have to say that I resonate with the purpose statement that you proposed. It may be vague, but I agree that this suits our goals well, since we want this blog to have flexibility. I have added this statement to our “About” page, which was an embarrassment to our website, since it said nothing. I also think that the short story project is an excellent idea. Not only is it entertaining to read (and write), but it buys us about a month to get prepared for writing more academic posts that will probably require more careful thought and planning, although I found it sufficiently challenging to continue a story that you had started. It will be interesting to see how the process goes for you. Based on the positive feedback that we have already gotten on this Fiction Project (you haven’t been here to actually hear how much people have been talking about it), I think that we will probably find ourselves returning to this kind of project again, probably between topics. We should probably also brainstorm what other kinds of entertainment we can provide to balance out our more wordy threads.

Having scanned over your proposed topics, I think that we should try to start with a topic that is not overwhelmingly large, but more manageable. For this reason, I think that Religion and Politics is fitting, particularly given the upcoming elections and the large role that religion will undoubtedly play in them. This topic will also help stretch me personally, since I have a hard time keeping up with politics. Hopefully it will force me to engage the news more and actually process the information that I receive. This topic also encompasses a field of questions that I have had for the last several years, namely:

  • How should my religious convictions affect the way I vote or participate as a citizen?
  • When presiding over a court case, is a judge supposed to rule with his own personal convictions in mind, or try to interpret the laws and constitution to mean what the authors intended?
  • Generally stated: there are necessary conflicts between being a citizen and being a Christian (or an adherent to any religion), and how does a good citizen reconcile these conflicts?

Anyway, I think that the accessibility, contemporary relevance and general appeal of this topic (Politics & Religion) make it a prime candidate for a starting point. We don’t necessarily have to begin with the group of questions I have listed above. There are plenty of others that we can pursue in this arena:

  • Should a Christian vote for a promising Mormon candidate on common social grounds, despite the enormous disparity in theology?
  • Is it ethical for a presidential candidate to gain popularity simply because of his religious views, turning religion into a selling point?

Those two questions just popped into my head, and I’m sure you have others in mind, since you proposed the topic in the first place.

To the readers: we greatly appreciate the support that we have already gotten from you. It is encouraging to know that someone is actually reading what we are writing. We want to make this blog accessible, entertaining, and highly educational for all of us (by the way, I just used a rhetorical device known as ascending tricolon, or tricolon crescens in Latin; ascending tricolon lists three things of increasing significance and verbal length, which creates a climactic effect–I just had to include that tidbit, since I learned it yesterday).  Bear with us as we are slowly publishing the next two segments of our short story, and gear up for some more thought-provoking material. Also, if there is a particular question that you would like us to address, feel free to post a comment. We don’t just want feedback from each other, but from you as well.

James, the younger brother


10 Responses to En Garde: Church and State

  1. NoPockets says:

    James, I was just wondering if, since you sign ‘the younger brother’, being the younger brother is particularly significant for you?

  2. James says:

    Actually, I hadn’t really thought about it before. I just signed “the younger brother” on my first post, since it was sufficiently descriptive of who I am. With a blog-name like “Consanguinity,” the fact that Matt and I are brothers is really significant. So since there are two of us, it makes sense for me to identify myself as the younger one, particularly since that is fairly informative to people who might not know us (i.e. all that older/younger brother psychology implies).
    On the other hand, now that I think about it, being the younger brother IS significant to me, because it gives definition to basically every part of my relationship with Matt. I am always looking forward to him, and he must be looking back at me, even though we are both grown-up now and are more or less on the same level. I think that there is a lot in this question you asked that I will have to explore. It actually might warrant an entire post, considering how much I have written off the top of my head in just the past few minutes. Anyway, it’s great to have readers who can peer into our own psyches and see things about our motives and intentions that even WE aren’t aware of. That, and it’s kinda creepy.

  3. Carol says:

    I love your discussion or potential discussion on religion and politics. That’s the topic that first prompted early dating discussion with me and John. Maybe John will begin reading and let you see that he is really knowledgeable about this area. I do think that religion should play a strong role in who one votes for. As Christians, I think that we must stand for what we know to be right. For me, and I suspect this is more true for those of us who have been pregnant, given birth, or wanted to do either, abortion is the most important issue. If one truly believes that life begins at conception, then we simply can’t sit idly by while tens of millions of innocent children are being murdered. If you don’t believe that life begins at conception, then perhaps it’s not that big of a deal. While I’ve often made fun of those “greener” members of society, I do think the environment is very important. However, I think it pales in comparison to human life. I’m not sure how I feel about a Mormon in office – – it kinda creeps me out. But is it worse than someone who very much stands against that which is so important to me?
    – – the youngest sister

  4. John says:

    Yes-Carol is pretty much a ‘one-issue’ voter. If the candidate is not pro-life they can kiss her vote good-bye. I’m a little more pragmatic. All this country needs is ONE more Justice on the Supreme Court who believes that Roe v. Wade is bad law and should be overturned, and it will be. That will turn it over to the States that can pass their own laws limiting (or allowing) abortion as much as they want. It also give Congress more power to limit abortion. Therefore, even though it would be painful to do so, I could see myself voting for someone like Rudy Giuliani. He said he is personally pro-choice, but would appoint a Justice “like Thomas, Roberts, Scalia”, etc. who all would vote to overturn Roe. Carol on the other hand in a choice between Giuliani and Clinton (or Obama) would probably vote ‘none of the above’ for the sake of her conscience. We probably won’t have to make that choice, however. I think John McCain has the race locked up (and he has some problems, but he is very pro-life and always has been). Well see.

    Basically, on Christian citizenship I think we should follow Romans 13:1-7 (among other scriptures):
    “1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

    I call this the “Pauline Implied Principles of Government.” It says that 1) God appoints ALL authority, BECAUSE 2) authorities “are a terror not to good conduct, but to bad” and are those “who are an avenger who carry out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” This IMPLIES that the only government that should exist is good government, and that since in a democracy citizens elect their authorites, “one must be in subjection” to that democracy. Therefore, it is the Christian’s duty to vote in a democracy and to vote for those who will be God’s “avenger.” There are several other verses, but I’m getting tired . . .

    By the way Brothers, I have an issue you could talk about that I am currently very interested in. It can be answered by James the Younger or Matthew the Elder.

    Simply this-where did the dinosaurs go?

  5. Ann (Mom) says:

    The more people write, the more excited I get about this whole “blog thing.” I think it may prove to be one of the best things we as a family do together because it is really getting some good thought provoking conversations going on between lots of different family members.
    –the oldest sister (and the mother of the brothers)

  6. Matt says:

    Well, this didn’t take long to spark some discussion. I have to admit that probably my first choice among the topics I listed would have been religion and politics. It’s certainly a complex issue with a lot of current relevance. In the mean time I’ll have to figure out who I’m going to vote for in the primary, which for me is coming up on Feb 5. The passage John quoted from Romans was the first one that popped into my mind as well. Maybe we’ll have to do some analysis and discussion of that text. While the text seems simple in principle, I think it can get really complicated when you try to apply it. For example, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a well-known theologian who was involved in the organized resistance against Hitler) really struggled with whether or not he should be resisting his government.

  7. nopockets says:

    First of all, I wanted to take a moment to point out how many visits you have had to your blog in just three weeks. The number is currently at 526 hits, which is quickly approaching my blog’s 1,607 when you consider that mine has been there for over a year accumulating regular hits. I personally tend to think that it is a combination primarily of 1) the fact that your topics are exponentially (as indicated by aforementioned numbers) more interesting than the things I tend to post about, and 2) that you advertised your site in a different way which warrants more often checking of the site. I also think that another thing played a part in people’s interest which was 3) the consanguineous watching of B20 and the discussions which followed. Kudos to your early success in this project.

    Second of all, I’d like to point out that it is exactly 8:36 in the pm on a Friday night and I am commenting on blogs for my ‘weekend entertainment’. I hope that isn’t really pathetic. If it is, I don’t care ’cause I do plenty of interesting things during the week.

    Most importantly, I would like to say that I was curious as to your being defined in being the younger brother because I have found that I, too, feel somewhat defined by my relationships with my siblings (and other family members to some extent). I for one would greatly enjoy any insight you have to how this plays into your life. I would not have noticed it if I did not relate to what might have caused you to sign as ‘the younger brother’, since most people would probably just see it as a simple way to differentiate between the two of you.

    And to answer John’s question, the dinosaurs died a long time ago (quite how long is yet to be fully known in my opinion) and have since turned into fossils in the ground, some of which have been found fairly intact. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

  8. nopockets says:

    I feel a little better that in the time it took me to write my previous comment, the blog hits number jumped to 530 – meaning that somewhere between one and four persons other than myself are also spending their “exciting” Friday evening looking at blogs. It might not be a sign of a pathetic life after all.

  9. Ann (Mom) says:

    Katie, I’ll admit that I was one of the people who looked at the blog at about that time on Friday night. It was after we returned from Blockbuster without a movie because we couldn’t find anything worthy of watching. After that I curled up with a good book and read until bedtime.

  10. Carol says:

    Well, it is a little on the pathetic side. :) But I think it shows how much our family is alike – – all at home on a Friday night! We went to Blockbuster too, but we rented two movies. An exciting Sponge Bob for the boys and 3:10 to Yuma for us. It was actually pretty good – if you like westerns. Russell Crowe was very good. It’s a remake of an old movie which I think is called Road to Contention.

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