Sunday, May 17, 2009

"The Contested Public Square"--Book Review

Forster, Greg; The Contested Public Square (The Crisis Of Christianity And Politics);IVP; University Press, Downers Grove, Illinois; 2008;ISBN 978-0-8308-2880-7

After reading a column noting Mr. Greg Forster's The Contested Public Square, I did buy and read (Study?) it. To anyone who has done so and finds it an "easy book" I bow before their vastly superior knowledge of Theology and Political Philosophy! It was a difficult and challenging "read" for me; But, it did hold my attention by the high quality of its organization and presentation, as well as the usefulness of its content in understanding our social, political and religious world. In fact, it was sometimes very difficult to put this excellent book down.

Most specially I obtained a much better (First?) understanding of St. Augustine's "City Of God" VS "City Of Man" dichotomy. To my untrained mind it appears that the USA's "separation of church and state" (But, only in its original configuration) is a natural, logical and necessary development of Western Christian thought and such early, shining, shining examples as that in Cleves (Germany) as noted by the author and the "freedom of religions" (NOT "freedom from religions") which has, since 1789, boiled and frothed in the USA---Until the artificial "wall of separation" began to end the necessary transfers between the goals of the "City Of God" and the real and political world in which we daily function. I think there is little doubt that the sword of judicial activism has led, since 1948, to a worsening of both public and private morality through the cutting off of a common (Yes, Judeo-Christian) provision for the reality of "right" and "wrong".

The author's analysis might have been extended to what occurs when "The City Of God" is divorced from secular governments. This divorce appears, generally out of the West, to result in various forms of socialism (Nazism, other Fascist movements, Marxism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc.) and generates a true worship of the State as God, often in the persona of such "Glorious Leaders" as Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Castro, Kim Il Jung and others of that ill-favored ilk. In less murderous and more "democratic" states (eg Sweden and the UK) the nameless bureaucrats provide all of the tyranny needed to grind down that spark of the divine which makes us truly and fully human.

Living in the USA of today, I fear for the like future of my nation.

Islam offers a special case example of the reverse results of no separation between the cities of God and of man by its appeals to the basest (Please see note #5 below) and most horrid of inhuman desires with its approval or encouragement, if not commands, to use murder, rape, genocide, enslavement, robbery and perpetual war to further its collective goals and the pathological power and sexual desires of its followers. This degeneration flowed from a gross misunderstanding and Mohammed's personal misuse of the Judeo-Christian teachings to the selfish divorce from any real application of Natural Law to those outside of the believers' view of Islam.

In the East only the Sikhs appear to have the key to that application. In Shinto everything of Japan is holy and nothing and no-one outside of it is of worth. Other Eastern religions appear to be focused on a drive towards an ultimate goal of nothingness that the value of the Divine is lost to them in as to the human world. and worth (Unless I grossly misunderstand these philosophies),

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Viewing eastern religion as the search for nothingness is a very simplistic and quite frankly ignorant way of viewing them. (eastern religion covers a broad range of faiths from Sikhs to mongolian shamanists) As for shinto, it should be pointed out that Shinto in the form that you describe has not been practiced in japan since WWII, and that roughly 80% of Japanese chose to not affiliate thselves with a particular religion.