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03/31/2016

A Brief Comment About Our Political Moment

Some comments are prescient, but some are more prescient than others.

This is a bioethics blog, not a political opinion blog, but the general tenor of the current campaign and the headlines about the role of legal demands or prohibitions to address ethical matters seems to merit a brief general comment.  A political conservative writing some 50 years ago commented that political liberty demands an acknowledgment of a transcendent ground of morality, and I am inclined to wonder about the future of liberty itself.

To expand on it, my wife reminded me of a certain passage.  I imagine many if not most of the readers of this blog are thoughtful evangelicals.  If that describes you, see if you recognize the following:

[T]he central message of biblical Christianity…has secondary results, among them the unusual and wide freedoms which biblical Christianity gave to countries where it supplied the consensus.  When these freedoms are separated from the Christian base, however, they become a force of destruction leading to chaos.  When this happens…then, to quote Eric Hoffer (1902—), “When freedom destroys order, the yearning for order will destroy freedom.”

At this point the words left or right will make no difference. They are only two roads to the same end.  There is no difference between an authoritarian government from the right or the left: the results are the same.  [Emphasis in the original.]  An elite, an authoritarianism as such, will gradually force form on society so that it will not go on to chaos. 

Recognize this yet?  Maybe a bit more of a hint?  The author continued:

And most people will accept it—from the desire for personal peace and affluence, from apathy, and for the yearning for order to assure the functioning of some political system, business, and the affairs of daily life.  That is just what Rome did with Caesar Augustus. 

Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?, 1976, page 245.

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