+JMJ+ Welcome to part 44 of our weekly series on the soul. Tonight, I’m not talking about a book, though I will link to one in the notes, and also to a video of a brief interview with the author. Politics has been much on everyone’s mind these days, including mine. And religion is always on my mind. So tonight I want to pose a question and offer some thoughts. My views will, of course, have been influenced by others, by what I’ve read or watched, et cetera, but these are my own thoughts, and if I go wrong it’s entirely my own fault.
Now, the question, well, questions. Are religion and politics truly separate with no effect whatsoever on each other? Are the various aspects of ourselves so separate that they can stand alone and not intermingle at all, so that we can say and do things one way in one part of our lives and yet say and do something completely opposite in another? Would this way of living, if we can call it that, not tear us apart and leave us unable to function, like a man trying to walk with each leg trying to go in its own separate and opposite direction?
I suppose that situation—living as if we were two totally different beings, each completely cut off from the other—would only leave us profoundly disturbed if we have enough self-awareness to realize that we were so divided within ouselves, and had enough courage and integrity to admit it. Although, if the disconnection were so profound as to really resemble that poor being trying to walk in two different directions at once, that would be hard not to notice, even for one with very little self-awareness.
Come to think of it, that awareness, unrecognized and unadmitted, might explain at least some of the behaviors we see around us: people desperately trying to pretend that they are perfectly fine, thank you very much, only let them have their drugs and whatever else they use to convince themselves that things are a-okay just the way they are.
That way madness lies.
I don’t know what the answer is. But I do know that the argument that we should keep our politics and our religion completely separated is nonsense. The soul is one substance (in the philosophical sense), not two or three or ten or twenty or as many aspects of our lives as there may be. There is no way to keep one aspect truly isolated from the others.
Politics is one aspect of our lives, and the political, we could say, is one aspect of ourselves (dare I call it the political self?), the part of us that has to do with relating to others in a “we have to find a way to live together and we need some rules so we can have a society and not be just a bunch of people living in close proximity to each other and re-inventing the wheel every day and fighting each other in war without end” way. (I’m sure there is a better way to put that, and I’m sure that I’ll think of it as soon as I post this tonight.)
Politics is about how we live together and the way we go about doing that, and religion is not solely but is also about how we live together and how we go about doing that. If my religion has nothing to do with the way I live, then what good is it? To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, if my religion has nothing to do with the way I live, then to hell with it.
Thank you for visiting and reading. Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss a scintillating post from me. (Okay, I couldn’t keep a straight face while typing that, but I do have some new projects in the works, so maybe you might want to keep up with news about that. Or not. I dunno.) Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy. May the Lord bless and keep you, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Notes and Links
- Christianity and Politics: A Brief Guide to the History, by C. C. Pecknold. Paperback, Kindle. (Affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below.) Verbum, Logos. (Same product, Verbum is the Catholic site, Logos is the non-Catholic site.)
- An interview with the author on BookTV. Sadly, it’s only ten minutes long. If I can find a longer interview about this particular book, I’ll link it.
- I haven’t re-read his book or watched the video in a long time, so don’t blame him for my ideas. I miss Prof. Pecknold’s Twitter class on the City of God, too. #CivDei was a very special project and a unique one, too.
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