On Mitt Romney and American Theodemocracy

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood

The Voice of God to Joseph Smith the Prophet
The Doctrine & Covenants, 101:80

Jonathan Chait’s recent essay on the far right takeover of the GOP, informed by readings of recent books by, respectively, Geoffrey Kabaservice and David Frum, considers both the takeover itself and the state of the remnant moderate resistance. Yet there is one thing missing from Chait’s overview, as from the vast majority of contemporary political commentaries: The peculiar function of politicized faith in the rise of the eminent Bishop and High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Massachusetts Governor, 2008 presidential candidate, 2012 Republican Party nominee, Willard Mitt Romney.

Chait like most pundits and polite observers minds the theoretical separation of church and state for which the United States of America has stood, with a certain radically inconsistent consistency, from its beginnings. Though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a teenage convert to Mormonism, has occasionally brought up his and Mitt Romney’s shared faith, observers of American politics have rarely been asked to consider the fact that two of the federal government’s highest positions may soon be held by members of the church. Regarding Romney in particular, rather than venture into the territory of political theology (a journey from which no true pilgrim returns unchanged), Chait repeats the familiar narrative in which a constitutionally moderate technocrat has reluctantly embraced ideologues whose zealotry and rigidity are alien to him, as they are to the vast majority of other outsiders, including all right-thinking left-liberals by definition.

The counter-hypothesis, whose best proof is the Romney candidacy itself, is that Romney’s ascension confirms a studiously unremarked convergence of Mormon, American-evangelical, and rightwing Republican precepts. According to this view of the nominee and of the Republican right, the same view Romney himself adopts, his agreement with fellow members of his coalition is much deeper than policy particulars, as it is also much deeper than the outward forms of religious doctrine. If Mitt Romney as presidential candidate is driven by a religious – indeed, prophetic and messianic – mission too closely held and too easily misunderstood for public words, then its essential convergence with the politics of the Republican right would be of more than biographical, cultural, or esoteric interest: It amounts to the consolidation of a new theo-political establishment waiting only for a mass-electoral mandate.

The Trinary Covenant

For Mitt Romney himself, for the church in whose hierarchy he has held high positions, and for the broad coalition which he currently leads, America is the chosen vehicle for the realization of God’s will on Earth. Less religiously inclined hyperpatriots might explain their personal beliefs differently, but their demurrals will reduce to terminological quibbling. This commitment is defined by the hallowed foundational acts and documents of the American civic religion, and is extended to the American political-economic system as well as to the role of America in world history – seen, in the expressly theo-political phrases famously recycled and re-purposed by Ronald Wilson Reagan, as the “city on a Hill” and “last best hope of man on Earth” (“which… the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless“). A victory this Fall by Romney’s Republicans would validate theological American exceptionalism – “no apology” Americanism – as national official ideology.

From this simultaneously religious and patriotic perspective, which we have previously discussed under the heading of “Americanist Christianity,” American history (or America within world history) from colonial times to global political and economic pre-eminence embodies divine providence at work. This conclusion implies a threefold set of interconnected and mutually reinforcing political-theological commitments: to the American Idea as realized in the American nation-state; to Christianity both as religion and in the form of Christian civilization; and also to Judaism, both the scriptural sources of Judaism in the Old Testament as well as the concrete reality of the modern-day state of Israel.

To be clear, we are discussing structures of belief that at any given historical conjuncture or in any particular social-political context may lead more often to tension, friction, and open conflict than to mutual understanding and cooperation – as between Jews and Christians for much of Medieval and Modern history, or between Mormons and the rest of American society, religious and secular, up to the present day. The argument is not that mere symbolic and terminological appropriations necessarily amount to authentic interconnections, theological or other. From the perspective of American society as a whole, a merging of great religions traditional and civic remains a mainly socio- or theo-political phenomenon, not or not yet a fusion of Christian, Jewish, and American liberal-democratic doctrines in a conventional religious format. Large political movements in a modern mass democracy – even theocratic or, to borrow the Prophet Joseph Smith’s term, “theodemocratic” movements – can neither expect nor enforce doctrinal discipline to any great degree, or do so any more effectively than most religions have.

Still, if the conjoining of Christianity and Judaism is by no means a universally welcomed or authentically achieved (or this-side-of-eternity achievable) synthesis, it still reflects a reversal of nearly two thousands years of general persecution by Christianity of its own parent religion. Conflicting approaches to Christianity’s Judaic roots go back to the life, acts, and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, of course. In modern times, the alternative to “supersessionism” has been a major theme in diverse Christian sectarian movements – especially the Dual Covenant movement within Dispensationalism – but is also observable in the protestantism of the first North American colonists. A tradition of Judaic philosophy, from Moses Maimonides down through Hermann Cohen and Franz Rosenszweig developed the potential from the other side.

At the least ironically, perhaps uncannily, the anti-Zionism of Cohen’s German-Judaic universalism was eclipsed by the events that simultaneously turned American society decisively against anti-semitism and framed the global era of American leadership. The American political-cultural realization of Jewish-Christian rapprochement was prepared by the Holocaust, the defeat of Nazi Germany, and the establishment of the United Nations coincident with the founding of the Jewish state. To legions of would-be interpreters of the Bible, these and related events seemed to resonate with or to fulfill theo-political prophecies from both Testaments, providing a background for further providential interpretation of Israel’s “miraculous” military victories through 1967. The key American political moment may, however, have been the virtually simultaneous birth of “Neo-Conservatism” and “the Moral Majority” during the formation of the Reagan coalition, accompanied by new entries for “Judeo-Christian” in American political lexicons – and, in short order, by the fall of America’s sole acknowledged global rival, the religiously atheistic Soviet Union.

In theo-political terms, one key result can easily be found today, or hardly missed, in the philo-semitism of Christian conservative politicians Rick Perry and Sarah Palin; of popular rightwing evangelists (tele- and other); and of the agitational propagandist Glenn Beck, who happens to be, like Mitt Romney, a Mormon celebrity who rarely or never mentions his religion while sharing his version of the trinary covenant with merely, or merely nominally, political true believers. Among rank and file members of the religious right, the standpoint is typically grounded on Biblical verses taken as explicit instructions to honor and support the Jews and the Jewish state (a common evangelical interpretation especially of Romans: 9-11). This Judeo-Christian-American unity position also makes a susceptibility to one-sided pro-Israeli bias and to crusading Islamophobia much easier to understand, along with the tendency to project an Islamic, or atheist, or collectivist, or nihilist, or Euro-statist, or other treasonous evil (sometimes all at once) onto all who stray even an iota from “true conservatism.”

Brought to the point of armed conflict, as in one way or another it has been continuously since the American Revolution, the standpoint becomes self-validating, because it has to be: No one dies or kills for the sake of merely offering a postulate or proposition or abstract idea for discussion; he dies or kills to prove it, concretely. The cup does not pass from his lips.

Our American Theology

This trinary formation, for the believer a set of three mutually inclusive covenants, also amounts to the essence and structure of Mormonism – Mormonism apart from the particulars of Mormon history and practice. If there is a Church of the Trinary Covenant, it would seem to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That the same structure of belief (or wish) increasingly characterizes the contemporary American religious right may also explain why the widely predicted resistance to a Mormon candidate has never quite materialized. The ideological core of Mormonism and of the contemporary right is identical: Providential Americanism – American Exceptionalism as a political, economic, moral, mytho-poetic, and theological certitude. Under whatever superficially secularized interpolations, the effect re-produces the contemporary moderate-free Republican program:  More pro-Israel than the Israelis, combatively Christian, and assertively American, “real American.”

The early Mormon patriarchs seem to have arrived at a firm grasp of American political theology long before 20th and 21st Century theorists turned their full attention to it. A reciprocally American and prophetic history is central to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, which considers the American Constitution a sacred, divinely inspired document – as made clear in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants (Chapter 101, verses 76-80) as well as in numerous other statements. The Church also developed an extensive theodicy of the American Civil War, and has taught that Native Americans are a Lost Tribe of Ancient Israel, that the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri, and that Jesus Christ will return in the Last Days to the same place.

Adam-ondi-Ahman-Tower, Missouri

The LDS 10th Article of Faith mandates belief “in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes” and insists “that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent.” One might say without the slightest disrespect that, since for Mormons America is Zion, the non-distinction between Israeli and American interests – “no daylight,” not even “an inch of difference” – is utterly second nature for Mitt Romney. There is also something very typically American in Mormon beliefs that evoke science fiction (or Scientology), in the history of Mormon racism, and in the corporatist capitalism of Mormon economics, which pre-figured and by now dovetails with the Christian conservative “prosperity gospel.”

These examples frame a Mormon political praxis whose adaptation to the American ideological ecosystem is masked by an early history of violent persecution and armed conflict, and by notorious lesser elements of Mormon history, belief, and ritual. For now, the effective unity of the social conservative front does not seem to be impaired by stubbornly held doctrinal differences – whether Jews can be “saved” without accepting Jesus Christ, or should expect to be converted; whether the Mosaic or Noahide commandments, or the covenant with Abraham, best defines the Judaic contribution; and for that matter whether Mormonism is the one true religion, a Christian sect, or a non-Christian cult. We can therefore question how significant those difference really are even to their main exponents, at least on most days of the week.

In this special sense, then, neither conventionally religious nor narrowly political, a Romney victory would make Mormons of all of us, or all of us a little more Mormon – or it would perhaps confirm that we have on some level, the one that matters most over the long term, all become Mormons without knowing it.

As We Are He

Even in the event of a 2012 electoral defeat of the main party of our holy materialist trinity, the influence of the underlying political-theological convergence on our national life, and on the state of the world, will likely remain substantial, most evidently in the forced pre-emptive movement of the main alternative in its direction.

Given the sheer weight of American trade, arms, and culture in the world, even small differences in emphasis between the coalition-of-the-trinary-covenant and the coalition-of-the-trinary-covenant-with-reservations-and-additions may turn out to matter greatly for many millions of individuals. If it is the only space for political decision allowed to us, then it is the most important political decision, the decision on decisions and the only clear statement that there is: For the cultivation of those reservations and additions, or against it.

For the same reason, to say that this idea of America – of divine and universal promise incarnated in a national polity – may be problematic would be a vast understatement: Not to suggest a final judgment on Judeo-Christian Americanism, or the ability to declare one, but the notion seems to imply a collective sacrificial career or denouement, sooner or later. Few providentialists have even begun to consider the possibility, except in the leap to End Times prophecy or the resort to crank theodicies (AIDS or the latest hurricane as divine punishment). Instead, our compulsory public pieties of the right and of the left confirm the words of the Christian gospel, as Lee M. has suggested in a related context, regarding the unwelcomeness of the prophet in his own country. Lee M. points to the example of, or the example made of, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Most such names are presumably lost to whichever history in question.

Our politics of the trinary covenant also evokes the tri-phasic, ascending structure of history that, as Eric Voegelin demonstrated, is common to diverse theological as well as nominally secular historical-philosophical systems. On this reading the trinary covenant as historical process – Judaic to Christian to American; Ancient to Medieval to Modern; “I am that I am,” “I am He,” “We are He” – would comprise a form of what Voegelin condemns as gnosticism – “belief that a change in the order of being lies in the realm of human action.” Under Voegelin’s critique, whose leading elements appear across and beyond the left-right spectrum wherever the course of modernity comes radically in question, it appears that every alternative, as all the more the alternative of quietism under the reign of whichever idols, leads to the same place.

How would we as a society or people ever make an authentic choice at all, if the subject remains all but un-discussed? A worldview that cannot be seen for what it is, unconscious because collectively un-cognized, uncriticizeable because under a general taboo, must remain effectively unseen, and simply be seen through.

25 comments on “On Mitt Romney and American Theodemocracy

Commenting at CK MacLeod's

We are determined to encourage thoughtful discussion, so please be respectful to others. We also provide a set of Commenting Options - comment/commenter highlighting and ignoring, and commenter archives that you can access by clicking the commenter options button (). Go to our Commenting Guidelines page for more details, including how to report offensive and spam commenting.

  1. To expand on what I was trying to say on Twitter about Mormonism’s Christian-Jewish fusion, I think the connection is more complex and dubious than you think. To me it seems like Mormons repurposed Zionism to flatter Americanism. Imitation is only winsome flattery before it crosses into cultural appropriation: when Mormons baptise Holocaust victims or call Jews “Gentiles” (ouch!!), there doesn’t seem to be much actual interfacing of the ideologies. That said I knew a handful of “Jewish Mormons” in the S.F. Valley and they got along well with the ward, although they had idiosyncratic doctrinal views and I can’t imagine there were many more than the ones I knew.

    I think you’re wrong that Mormonism represents a Judeo-Christian fusion that threatens heightened Islamophobia. It might be useful for me to talk about the interesting connection between Mormons and Muslims here. Unlike most American right-wing Christian sects, Mormonism is officially neutral on the Israel/Palestine conflict. BYU has an Islamic Studies department that’s very similar to secular I-S departments in its sympathetic treatment of the faith. After Mormons, BYU enrolls more Muslims than members of any other faith group, probably because of the alcohol prohibition and the strict “honor code”. BYU-Hawaii even has a Muslim student president this year. If Romney wins, one of the things I’ll wish for is a rapprochement between Muslims and the Judeo-Christian American military complex. Maybe I’m being too hopeful there, but weirder things have happened.

    • Interesting. If the piece wasn’t already too long, I’d address the Islamic question more thoroughly. However, even if we take it as a given that nothing Romney says today necessarily has any bearing whatsoever on what he’ll do tomorrow, there are few points on which he has been more consistent than his intention to pursue the War on Terror and to support factions in Muslim countries who support “our” values, and to pursue a “no daylight” alliance with Israel. The Islamophobia of the coalition is virtually a given. It is nice to think that Romney despite his public rhetoric and commitments represents the possibility of relaxation of conflict, just as some think that he represents an avenue for actual achievement of elements of the centrist Democrat agenda.

      I’ll probably preserve some of these comments when I go fully “public” on the post, so I’ll just go ahead and argue as well as attend to possible improvements. Am still catching typos and mistakes, but, just in terms of working up the draft for publication, I’m not sure how you missed where I expressly denied that a true theological fusion has been achieved, and acknowledge that it may even be unachievable. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Mormonism appropriates much of the Old Testament, or that the TC is highly philo-semitic and, not necessarily the same thing but obviously connected, overwhelmingly pro-Israel. For political and I believe political-theological rather than doctrinally theological purposes, why wouldn’t that be enough?

      • I saw your express denial, and I could definitely just be being a contrarian ass, but my gut is still skeptical of even the more tenuous connection you claim. Maybe it’s because Mormons’ “continuing revelation” makes Judeo-Christian common scriptures less of a binding agent like it is with Ten Commandments-Christian fundamentalism? I really think Mormonism’s Zionism is a different beast than Judeo-Christian fusionism, whether theological or merely sociopolitical.

        In the Israel/Palestine context, the flipside of Mormonism’s anti-Near-East-Zionism is its legacy of racial theology. The Book of Mormon talks repeatedly about dark skin being a curse from God and being correlated with sin either in the premortal existence or even on this side of the veil, and Romney’s comments about Palestinian GDP dovetailed disturbingly well to this sordid history.

        It’s a really thought-provoking piece, CK. Thanks for letting me push back on it so hard.

        • No ass-ness assumed. I appreciate the pushback and look forward to more, just don’t want to be tripping on the threshold right on to my face.

          Needless to say, anti-“dark” and Islam-friendly stances would be hard to push at the same time.

          May make some adjustments recognizing the contradiction between TC politics and Mormon doctrine or history, but I still think if you’re appropriating the Old Testament in substance and form, and shopping out your foreign policy to Likud, you’re philo-semitic enough for government work.

          Anything else before I proceed to publish?

          • I guess what animates my grumpiness with your connection between Jews and Mormons is that Mormons see themselves as thoroughly Restorationist, which precludes the kind of philosemitism that evangelicals regularly practice. Evangelicals regularly appeal to the practices of ancient Jews when sussing out proper contemporary behavior, while Mormons think they have no need for this because they have a living Prophet of God to clear up doctrinal confusions.

            Other than that, I got nothin’! Thanks for the dialogue, CK; I’m looking forward to more after it’s published.

            • Your discomfort is completely justified – and reminds me very much of the discomfort expressed by liberal Jews with the embrace of Israel offered by evangelicals and fellow travelers – since many in the latter groups believe that the Jews must convert or in the Last Days will be converted to Christianity. For the constitutionally always-besieged Jewish Neo-Conservatives of the Castle Podhoretz, it is or was a bargain with the lesser enemy against a threat to survival. I say “was” because it’s my impression that the millenarian Christians and the secular Zionists have learned to live and die with each other: They may not have started out as Dual Covenant-ists, but by now they are, whether or not they preach it on Saturdays or Sundays.

              As for relations with Islam, there is a theory “out there” that Americanism is essentially Islamism under a transposition of terms: Islam is a democratic prophecy. It is, like Americanism and modern revolutionism more generally (Heaven brought down to Earth), a next step after the Christian revelation, an insistence that the divine truth be realized on Earth, and through force of arms where necessary (where God wills it). Americanism like Islamism is also characterized by hermeneutical obsession with holy founding documents and incessant re-readings of its founding acts and prophetic sayings, and by a transethnic and federative concept of global humanity.

              Needless to say, the Trinary Covenant is very far from acknowledging such parallels. If the potential for Islamophilia or simple acceptance is latent, it’s hard to tell whether it’s also reserved for the very last of the Last Days.

  2. Any evidence of antisemitism among Mormons, a rather persecuted cohort among the greater Christian polity, as opposed to the other faction, where there was an uproar when the mildest statement of support of Israel, was issued, where the head of the party worshipped at a Church that was explicitly committed to Hamas’s eliminationist logic, as the more vocal Islamist faction, of Salafi character had purchase on not only the assault on Benghazi on the 25th Shawwal, but among the security force from the February 17th Martyrs Brigade, the denial of this fact, has helped in part undermine the moderate regime of Gibril and Magarief,
    re the likes of Bel Hadj and Bin Qumu.

  3. This post should be the new bible. If everyone in the country studied it every Sunday morning, we could discuss the un-discussed. I need a few more Sundays to be in on the discussion effectively. But in respect to Romney and the possibility of peace, it always amazes me that people can think they’re following the word of Christ and yet miss the whole pacifist point. The story takes place during an occupation and even so–even though some of the disciples ask Jesus to subdue the Romans–Jesus states quite clearly that he won’t be killing anyone. The weirdest Presidential expression of this incongruity was Nixon. A Quaker. Hello? Quakers are the biggest pacifists of all, and yet Nixon went the way he went. Strange. So, as CK points out, who knows what Romney would do? Anyway, the post is great CK. Unleash it on the world!

    • New Bible? That’s a little bit much.

      Christian pacifism? The whole Christ story, as handed down, is a or perhaps the supremely violent, violence-producing and violence-justifying moral tale.

      The post is already “unleashed.” So far, the world seems to be handling it OK. Thanks for your kind words though.

    • In fact, and I know you don’t like to hear this, but Nixon might be an object lesson in the convertibility of pacifism into its opposite, just as all his Quaker mother’s “thou”‘s and “thee”‘s turn into “[expletive deleted].” It’s dialectically inversive: Absolute life affirmation flips into absolute life negation and back again. Under Christian negation of the meaning of “this life” compared to eternal life, we lose all reason or justification for engaging in violence, but we also devalue the act of violence, especially against the un-believer who’s doomed anyway, and whose mere life on this Earth counts for nothing against the eternity of the saved life. This isn’t a philosophical or speculative observation, but an historical one. You know as well as I do that politicized Christianity has been one of the most warlike forces the world has ever seen, though similar patterns are observable under other religions. Christianity is peculiarly fixed on deliverance through bloody sacrifice and an implication of universal guilt and universal forgiveness: Why should the difficult pacifist logic of “turn the other cheek” more powerfully affect human ideation and behavior than the pre-logical imagery of ultimate pain and ultimate death, or any more powerfully than “Thou shalt not kill” actually inhibited the bloodymindedness of all of the Abrahamic faiths? Thou shalt not kill and turn the other cheek found moral guilt or responsibility, not peace.

      • Yes, that is all true. And I did bring Nixon and Quakerhood up for you to riff on that way. It’s okay. It’s okay because these are all relative-view truthfulness-es. The teacher tells his students to do one thing and they end up doing another. But not because the teacher is wrong or misguided. Students are messed up. That’s why mystic Christians believe that Jesus was only supposed to teach 13 people. They were the only ones ready for his teaching. It was clearly going to backfire for him to teach the masses. The masses were obviously not ready, but being Pure Love itself, Jesus couldn’t help spreading the dharma. Turn the other cheek. That is the high-consciousness instruction. The fact that it backfired should not be rationalized according to Ultimate truth. People just couldn’t handle it. They tried a few times and their ego level engagement of reality then caused them to go back to their old ways–only worse because they added guilt (about failing to stick with the teaching) to the mix. This is why yoga is better. It doesn’t just provide the dharma. It provides the group support and the physical strengthening that gradually bolsters the ego so it can turn the other cheek without ego damage and eventual worse than before blow-back.

        • Well, then, we are in some agreement after all. You’ve made the same political philosophical argument in your own terms that, in my observation (and I have the spiritual bruises to prove it), when I make it in more Westernized terms, you tend to take as too pessimistic about human nature, or maybe too Greek, though at other times you’ve been willing to declare Plato a jnana yogi.

          From a theological perspective, the incapacity of the masses to handle the teaching but the necessity of the teaching anyway implies that a perfect Creator required imperfection, that violence, war, and sin are necessary. Whatever the ultimate truth, whatever the errors in this supposition, they immediately turn back into the necessity or sheer facticity of the same errors, even taken as paradoxes: Defectiveness, guilt, error are a fundamental presumption of life, even if called or understood to be perfect, innocent, and true under the higher conception.

          I’ll put up a post one of these days on political philosophy as discipline that I hope you’ll take in this spirit.

          • If you were really being objective you would have recognized my error instead of jumping on it as opportunity. I was wrong to blame only the students. Jesus made a mistake teaching people who weren’t ready. It caused horrible bloodshed. “Realized” and “enlightened” doesn’t mean perfect. Jesus spoke in parables for a reason. He still slipped up in general, overreaching. So when Jesus said (on the Mount) that “no man’s life has increased by a single unit through effort,” the wrong thinking student takes that to mean he doesn’t have to try. It’s the brain-chatter level of the mind–the left-brain side of brain consciousness–subsuming even right-brain relative positive energetic awareness. Jesus didn’t need to teach high consciousness teachings to people who would misuse it. He made a mistake, and I made a mistake blaming only the students. You should have seen that. Instead, because your mind is functioning on that level of aggression, it jumped at the chance to reinstate Ultimate View logic that this time wasn’t really even Ultimate View. So we have taken a step back. We also have a different perspective on “bruising.” To me, the mind is just the mind. It’s no big deal to learn that our minds have problems. It’s not personal. Minds have problems. Minds left to their own devices–without meditation–have more problems. They get into all kinds of things they shouldn’t get in to. They’re just poor little minds. They bruise easily, yes, but if we link up with the consciousness expanding beyond at least the left-brain to the right-brain then ideas related to violence, war, and sin melt away. If you’re going to value the mind so much at least use both sides and the only way to use both sides once a mind has shifted to left-brain dominance is to do what it takes to change.

            • I was interpreting Christianity from a to me validly Christian perspective: Either Jesus Christ was infallible and the scripture is divinely inspired – free from anything we’re in a position to call mistakes – or Jesus Christ was infallible but the record is flawed and mistake-ridden. The third possibility is, of course, that Jesus Christ was not the perfect man. If you’re going to fault Jesus, then you’re placing yourself outside a Christian theology, no longer dealing with the embodiment of the omniscient, but with a flawed historical individual about whom we don’t really know very much. I won’t offer an opinion as to whether you should treat Jesus Christ as the perfect being or perfect man, but viewing him as “just a man” is a different discussion, meaning among other things that anything he said, or is said to have said, has to stand on its own, that what Jesus had to say about no man’s life being increased is just a point of view, a possible philosophy of life, to be submitted to consideration just like a saying attributed to anyone else. Same for turning the other cheek or any other advice he had to offer. That he may have, according to some stories, been greatly learned doesn’t tell us anything definitive, since we are all familiar with greatly learned people saying or doing things of which we greatly disapprove. So, in your depiction this possibly learned would-be teacher Jesus said a smart thing that a smarter person like one of us might have known not to say, considering all of the harm it caused. One alternative point of view worth considering is that, if it caused harm, then the harm was necessary, or would have happened anyway or worse regardless of what he did or didn’t say.

              • Well, actually, that is a useful comment because I can point out what is and isn’t Ultimate View there. Ultimate View doesn’t connect with whether something was necessary. Ultimate View points to the emptiness-wholeness of all things. There is just no difference between harm and no-harm, necessary and unnecessary. We started there in respect to the issue of people being good or bad. Ultimate View points to no relativity between a murderer and me. We’re both simultaneously empty and whole. So it could be used there in respect to harm and necessity, but since you didn’t use it, in respect to what we’re discussing you’re just presenting an opinion on a relative level. That shouldn’t ruffle my feathers. And, yes, I am outside of exoteric Christian theology. I am inside esoteric Christian theology–the mystic kind. Christ and Buddha were realized men, who made mistakes as humans. They were linked up with Consciousnesses specific to what we can all experience as Christ Consciousness and Buddha Consciousness. The man and the Consciousness are linked, but not the same. Mystic Christian style Ultimate View as I see it is that we all have Christ Consciousness, Buddha Consciousness, and Krishna Consciousness. They are experienced differently, but they are also not separate. They are empty and whole. They are non-existent but purposive. They are Gods and not Gods. They can be referred to as Ishvara and I credit Plato with having practiced jnana yoga because he recognized Knowledge as an accessible Field–as a kind of Ishvara.

  4. I was sending this post to a friend and when I got to the email subject box, I wrote, “I think I’m becoming mormonese…” The complete version is, I think I’m becoming mormonese, I think I’m becoming mormonese, I really think so.”

    • I don’t have the spare brain-space to go back to JED’s post, but I do get the sense that she has a vision for what her kind of conservatism is supposed to mean that, as ever, contradicts the policies she supports. She wants the global role without ever accepting what it actually entails, as though we can commit to patrolling the Straits of Malacca eternally and yet remain commited to a minarchist ideal. I also dislike her tendency, a tic in her writing, to refer to those with whom she disagrees as merely immature.

      BTW, speaking of JED, I stopped by HotAir and noticed that they’ve turned the Green Room into something different, apparently without much ceremony. Their design has also gone from austerely functional to downright ugly.

Commenter Ignore Button by CK's Plug-Ins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *