Eric Voegelin on Romans Ch.13

A beaut of a little essay on (site with lotsa great links).

Romans Chapter 13, particularly since the time of Luther (first German translation of Bible), read the passage to say “submit to the authorities”–meaning the political authorities. Part of what Luther called the “two swords” theory of political governance. (One Sword for the Church, running its own affairs, one for the Princes to rule the secular sphere).

But according to Voegelin this is a massive misreading of Paul’s text–and lies behind the German idolatry of the state (from Hegel to Hitler). Voegelin:

The language Paul speaks here, in order to clarify the relation to the authorities, as he calls them, is conventional, taken from the Stoic philosophy of politics. The idea is that of a hierarchy of authorities in the cosmos, where God is in the highest place, in the lower places are the authorities in society, in the lowest place is man himself. That is the hierarchy of being in its order. So, whoever fits into this order must submit to the law of the world, which for whatever reasons has provided that there are also orders in society and representatives with the power of punishment, who must take care that men obey the moral law and that its violations are punished.

The presupposition of this entire instruction is naturally that one lives in the Roman Empire at the time when the Stoa had established the ethics of worldly order. That means that the im­perial government, its officials and their administration, in fact obey and sanction the moral law in the Stoic sense. That is the presupposition. There isn’t a word there that one should be subject to any authorities whatsoever, let alone, as we shall then see from the documents the next time, that one should have to be subject to the authorities even when they do evil. Let alone what Kant, for example, following Luther, read into obedience to authorities, that the authorities are holy or anything of the sort. Nothing of this. The passage is quite obviously directed toward persons in the Christian community who misunderstand the freedom of the Christian under God as meaning that one no longer has to obey the ethical order of society, that is to say, it is directed toward those who violate this ethical order. These are admonished that in this aion we find ourselves in, there is also a moral law, the one that will be sanctioned by these higher authorities.

Published in: on January 31, 2008 at 4:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Genesis 17:1

1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.

–The Lord.

The Lord is the Redeemer (God in person, if you like, of Liberator not so much Creator or Sanctifier for the moment).  The Lord here is the Lord of the people of Israel–Abram is the mythic representation of the future people of Israel.

The text also historically is edited in light of the Return of the Exiles from Babylon in the 6th century BCE.  Abram represents the hopes and dreams of the Exiles who must return to the land in which they are now “aliens”–as this chapter later  states.  They used to live in Palestine, but left, and are now in a struggle with the Jews (or Yawhist worshipers if you prefer) for control on the way back.  This text–speaking like Michel Foucault for a second–serves their purposes of power and authority.

–The Lord appeared to him.  When he was 99, just prior to a rounded number of completion. A number of human rational expectation.   We expect something “big” to happen at 100, it’s auspicious in our human made temporal creations.

But the LORD comes when we are 99–even if “he” or us still love you or not at 64 Paul McCartney.  That is the LORD comes when we do not expect such an arrival.  The LORD appears/visits in the moments before we expect it.

–I AM God Almighty.

I AM is already hinting at the name given by the Divine to Moses:  I AM what I AM.

I AM is the space in which God arises.  God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.  God Almighty.  Not some crap half-ass deity.  Not some wannabe.  Not some person thinking s/he is God.  God Almighty.

But God is ever flowing out of I AM, from which God and the Soul both arise.  This is why we do not say anything or anyone in creation is God–for they are not.  Rather there essence (like God’s essence) is Godhead.  But they are not God. God is God. God is God Almighty.  God appears to us.  We are within God.

But both are sourced in Godhead.

It isn’t really right (though not totally wrong I suppose) to worship Godhead.  God is to be worshiped.  In Godhead, there is no real worshiper or one to be worshiped.  Godhead is rather more like opening your mouth and making that pop noise by putting your hand to your mouth, like a mime.  Or a giggle or a shrug of the shoulders.

But not worship, not for Godhead.   Who is there to worship in such a state?

–Walk before me.

And yet Godhead frankly is not enough or perhaps too much.  We are to walk before the LORD on the other side of awakening, normalized like Abram.  Be blameless whatever that means.

To walk before the Lord on the pre-awakening side is to live the life of devotion.  To walk before the LORD on the other side of the shore (which is somehow still this shore) is live with a renewed sense of the Relative, the truly nondual–neither absolute nor relative.

The LORD then reappears after 99 years of Absolute only awakening.  To make covenant, to bring blessing, simple earth-shattering things.  To build actual relationships of justice and love.  Between the divine and human and between human and creation (human-human).

Walking before the LORD is to have the light of the LORD be your rearguard as the Psalms say.  In other words, for humans to receive the light of Truth through your presence, therefore the LORD being very plainly right behind us.  As we walk before the LORD.

Published in: on January 31, 2008 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

mission creep afghanistan

Another article on the “forgotten forgotten war”–sadly not covered in presidential debates.

From Asian Times:

That means added urgency and stress on the work of a 75-man US-North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led Provincial Reconstruction Team – or “PRT”. But while senior US officers see these teams – 12 of them run by the US military – as the “new wave” in non-combat counter-insurgency, in practice their soldiers look a lot like old-school peacekeepers and “nation-builders”, the kind you find across the developing world under the oft-slandered banner of the United Nations.

Ten years ago, the fast-track US colonels and majors who now lead the Afghan mission would have referred to what goes on here in the name of counter-insurgency as “mission creep”; work well beyond the scope of serious American soldiering.

This one has Thomas Barnett’s ideas all over it.

Published in: on January 31, 2008 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  

violence in afghanistan

From the BBC:

The deputy governor of Afghanistan’s Helmand province has been killed in a bomb attack on a mosque, officials say.

Deputy governor Haji Pir Mohammed was one of seven people – including the bomber – killed in the explosion at the start of afternoon prayers.  Eighteen people were also hurt in the suicide bombing in Helmand’s provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, police said.  The Taleban say they carried out the attack. Helmand is a major stronghold of the Taleban. —

Published in: on January 31, 2008 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Realistic Hope (for Obama)

In recent days a few integral bloggers (Joe and Matthew) have both stated they would very likely vote for Obama–though with reservations and disagreements.

One of which–others have as well–is what would he actually be able to do as president, all the beautiful rhetoric aside.

Just thinking here–not at all clear yet he will be the Dem. nominee much less next President–but it is worth some perspective.

One: the economy will be by all indicators in recession when he takes office. Perhaps the worst economic situation since the stagflation of the 70s, perhaps even worse.

The US will be (is already) in the worst foreign policy situation (lowest ebb of power) since the 1970s, since the retreat from Vietnam.

The American moment will officially be over. The failures of George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, and worst by far George W. Bush to have a post Cold War coherent foreign policy will be apparent. (more…)

Published in: on January 30, 2008 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rupert Sheldrake


On Integral Naked with Ken Wilber this week. Great thinker. [Good Anglican Christian too!!! :)]  First month free.

They discuss Rupert’s theory of formative causation.  Sheldrake’s book A New Science of Life blew my mind when I read it 6 years ago.

Here’s a review by Rupert of Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell.


It soon becomes clear that Dennett knows very little about religion, apart from stereotypes about fanaticism and credulity. In this field he is an amateur, not an expert. He admits that his research for this book was hurried because of the “urgency of the message.” His study of religious experience seems to have been limited to discussions with some of his students at a Tufts University seminar in 2004, an unpublished questionnaire survey and “quite a few” interviews...

How can Dennett be so sure? In the end, it all comes down to his own beliefs. Bright memes have infected him and taken over his brain. Those memes are now trying to leap from his brain into yours through the medium of Breaking the Spell.

Published in: on January 30, 2008 at 7:10 pm  Comments (1)  
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Death in Lima, Ohio

A disturbing story out of Lima, Ohio (very similar culturally to where I grew up Cincinnati).  A mother and her baby son shot and killed by police while seeking to arrest her husband on suspicion of drug charges.  The mother and child black, the police white.  Very sad.  What is the reason for our ludicrous drug war?

Published in: on January 30, 2008 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dialectic of Reason

I don’t think I was as clear as I should have been in the last post on the New Atheists.

Reason understood as the dialectic, if you follow it in the Western tradition from Socrates through Plato through Hegel to Kierkegaard  (and the many differences between each of those) is about this and that.  On the one hand…on the other.  It is a flowing movement, dialogical as Habermas would say.

I see this on the one hand on the other missing from New Atheism.  And that leads as I was trying to say to a reverse anti-dogmatic dogmatism, as it were.  More in some of them than others, but I think there (though in varying degrees) in all.

Even if one is open to contemplation (e.g. Sam Harris) or religion as a natural evolutionary phenomenon (Dennett) or “sophisticated” theologians (e.g. Dawkins) who are post or anti-supernaturalistic in their theology, there is still missing a dialectical element.  A movement like tantra that transforms (frees by limits or transcludes and re-shapes in AQAL integral-speak) by taking what is there and then re-imagining it to a more profound degree, unleashing the potential that lies within.

The better response, it would seem to me, is not to overcome irrational mythic religion and experience the evil and hatred that can stem from that crowd (particularly when criticized) by then reversing the operation and being dismissive and thoroughly convinced of one’s rightness in the other direction.

Published in: on January 30, 2008 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

rep primary

Consensus is Giuliani drops out, endorses McCain.

Two questions left:  will Fred Thompson then endorse McCain?

Will Huckabee run in the central Sun Belt states (i.e. Arkansas, Oklahoma) take some votes from Romney, then call Johnny tell him to swap delegates for the VP slot?  Or is McCain unstoppable at this point anyway?

What’s clearer and clearer is that all the rest of the Republican candidates (Rudy, Fred, Huck) despise Romney (with some good reason frankly) and like McCain.  Though strangely the Republican establishment backed Romney so hard.  But Huck and Rudy and even Fred in some ways are kinda heterodox conservatives, so it makes a certain sense.

Plus Romney’s personality really negatively affected his campaign.  As weird as it may sound, I actually think Romney would probably be for the 21st century a better president than McCain–though I agree that McCain is a better general election candidate for the GOP.  McCain is an uber war-hawk and has not learned the lessons of Iraq.  Maybe not even Bosnia frankly with his saber-rattling of Russia.  McCain’s foreign policy scares me–not as much as Rudy–but scary nonetheless.

Though frankly tough to tell which Romney would have shown up to be president.  Whether he would have in fact governed as the guy who was Governor in Mass or the uber-con he tried to make himself out to be (unsuccessfully) in this race.  He would have been much more likely than McCain to initiate some of Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions platform–esp. technologically updating the government which is woefully behind the times.  Romney could have done some very interesting David Frum kinda domestic moderate reformist conservatism on education, health care, and the like.

Sen. Mac doesn’t seem particularly heavy duty into that kinda policy side.

But as an outsider tired of movement conservatism, I do find one joy in McCain pulling ahead and I would have to say, minus some major meltdown, the nominee of the party.  The movement conservatives have created such ideological purity codes, that anyone not totally on board with their theory is a liberal fascist or in John McCain’s case not even a conservative anymore.  They can keep their ideological purity, it will come at the cost of massive electoral losses.  It is too petrified a system right now and grows more so by the day.

Published in: on January 29, 2008 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

anti-dogmatic dogmatism?

C4 has a post up on the question of whether the so-called New Atheists are really against dogma. He quotes from Benjamin O’Donnell (a Sydney lawyer) who writes:

“It seems that the new atheists’ real problem is with dogma, and specifically with the dogma of religious faith – with the belief that it is acceptable, even admirable, to believe propositions without logically sound reasons based on good evidence. They aren’t really the “new atheists” at all, but the “new anti-dogmatists”.”

They are against the belief that it is admirable even acceptable to believe propositions without logically sound reasons based on good evidence—that is except for that proposition itself, which I would argue is not based necessarily (and certainly in all cases) on sound reasons. I would propose that there are times (many instances) and contexts where dogmatism is indeed pernicious and must be countered, just as there are times when dogmas are neutral, and other times when taking certain things on belief (not necessarily traditionally religious) is positive.

In other words I wouldn’t make being against “dogma” a dogma or an absolute, which is what I too often sense from the “New” Atheists (in this regard not sure how “New” they are). (more…)

Published in: on January 29, 2008 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment