29 November 2006

More King of Kings.

On the subject of Christ the King, Anthony Esolen has reflections:

To say that Christ is King -- not duke, not earl, not prince -- has profound political implications, as Pius certainly saw. Most obviously, it limits what a state can legitimately do; and in that sense it frees a people from Nazis, Fascists, Bolsheviks, and intellectual elites. Because a man belongs first and last to Christ, the state may not legitimately abrogate those rights which are inalienable from the very being of a soul made by God and for God. The state may not murder; may not sterilize; may tax, but may not expropriate all the fruits of a man's labor; may not encroach upon the sanctuary of the family, unless to protect the life of the helpless; may not arrogate to itself the absolute right to determine how children shall be educated; may not, in essence, set itself up as a god, with its priesthood of elites, to be honored by the little ones without whose sweat there would be neither state nor elites. You don't have to be Christian to see these implications; Tom Paine, the deist teetering upon atheism, saw them and wrote about them in Common Sense. If Christ is King, then no man, not the dainty sot Louis XIV, nor the generally affable and articulate George III, can claim absolute authority.

It really is pretty simple; but human beings will always fall back into the same old errors, and the state, left to the ambitions of the elites who run it, will always tend to reassume its old place as object of cultic worship and unappealable authority. In the end, we lapse into worship of power: so in Egypt the Pharaoh -- Great House -- is a god, and the embodiment of the state. So the lugash in Babylon becomes a manifestation of Marduk, the tutelary god of the city, and is the embodiment of the state. So the Roman republic is a ceremonial shell after the reforms of Augustus, the First Citizen -- and he, not entirely against his will, is worshiped as a god, and becomes the embodiment of the state. In America too the process is underway. Not that we worship presidents as gods, though we do crave celebrity and honor it. But it may be telling that images of Liberty no longer appear on our coins; rather images of a few great men, a few good but overrated men, an insuffragette, and a faithful Indian guide with her baby.

Here's the whole thing.


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