Mr. Parker has constitutional chat with Mr. Roger Sherman
The editor demands context and I don’t blame him. Context implies a full understanding and is most helpful when it is one’s own context. Like Mr. Trapaga calling Chick-fil-A a wholesome restaurant, which it is; clean and well-staffed and unfortunately serving delicious, exorbitantly fattening fried foods. I don’t eat it anymore because I don’t wish to get fat, develop type II diabetes, and die with no feet. But that is my context.
It seems evangelicals are always reaching for context. They even have their own make-believe historian in Texas (David Barton) who invents history as he goes and wants to insert Christianity into every facet of our government. Of course governance is also the power to tax and the tax belongs to Caesar but that doesn’t seem to be in the evangelical context.
They didn’t mind the government reaching into our wallets to conduct an unnecessary war based on false pretenses in Iraq. The context was that the war was the brainchild of another guy who spouted Christian aphorisms at every turn.
One trillion dollars later we have the Persians unleashed because there exists no balancing power in the region; we have Iraqi factions openly hostile to the United States, and we have an Iraq whose future we cannot know because it is one we tried to impose. Most importantly we have 4,488 dead, and 33,184 wounded.
And I don’t believe I wielded Jesus as a rhetorical weapon. I prefer to think, in context, that I was looking at the scope of his life which involved concern for the poor, the children, and the powerless.
It seems to me the Christian right is just fine having Caesar pursue us, sword in hand in order to wield the sword on foreign shores. Ask them to help provide broad based medical care for the poor, the powerless and their children and they search for “context” in their anger at a “wasteful government bureaucracy,” even though this nation spends TWICE per capita than any other nation on earth and leaves 50 million without healthcare.
I had a talk the other day with Roger Sherman while I was in my hometown. He was hanging around his old house on the Town Green, and as he is the only founding father to sign The Contintental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, I thought him a good source for founding father impressions.
Me: Roger. May I call you Roger?
Roger: Absolutely (it came out broad New England ... obsulutely)
Me: What do think of all that has transpired since you served as a Senator?
Roger: Well, that’s a pretty broad question. So much has happened that we, sitting in that little room in Philadelphia could not foresee. Besides, I’m not really up on current events.
Me: Well, Congress passed a law which will have the effect of providing healthcare to essentially all in our nation. There’s a bit of a stink about it.
Roger: I see. Again I’m not up on modern thought but as long as the law was passed in accordance with the established Constitution then you, our progeny should have the wisdom to enact the laws you need.
Me: What do you think was the most important part of the Constitution?
Roger: We worked very hard on the Senate. Importantly we kept the Senate free from the passions of the people with their election by the state legislatures.
Me: Um ... the 17th Amendment provided for direct election of Senators.
Roger: I see. Well, just as important, war is a terrible thing. During our struggle many towns in Connecticut were burned by the enemy which left a lasting impression on me. We wished to ensure that no single man could bring us to war; that Congress only be allowed to levy such a terrible thing. You have not changed that have you?
Me: Well, kinda. We went to war in 1950, 1964, 1991, and 2003 with only congressional resolutions.
Roger’s ghost started to spin, vanished,and that was that.
So to summarize: The bible and Jesus Christ are not guides for democratic government unless. ... we’re talking about school prayer and ensuring gay people can’t enjoy the rights and economic advantages which accrue under legal marriage.
Christian principles are an individual choice which should have no mandatory effect, except perhaps in demanding one’s religious leanings and publishing them for the voters prior to the election.
Christians don’t want to have Caesar propelling them to do good works. They’d rather ignore the plight of people who cannot afford routine medical care much less treatment adequate when confronted with a life-threatening illness.
Maybe that was too sterile. They’d rather the impetus fall on St. Jude’s to cure an adolescent cancer patient of little means than propose a societal solution for families who fall on hard times and are left with nothing when illness strikes.
Christians support government spending for killing people but don’t support government spending for domestic healthcare.
Yeah, so I got all that. Load up the backpacks boys, we’re collecting fondue pots for those indolent swine who refuse to pull themselves from poverty in this great country.
But I agree with Tom Paine: “When the tongue or the pen is let loose in a frenzy of passion, it is the man, and not the subject, that becomes exhausted.”
I’d like to leave you with a quote from Augustine or Moore, but they’re too Catholic. Unfortunately all the Protestant philosophers come armed with sword and noose. So I’ll leave you with a latter day prophet (not an Elmira, N.Y. one)
“And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make” — Paul McCartney.
Timothy J. Parker
Peachtree City, Ga.
CORRECTION: The original headline written by an addled editor conflated two famous "Rogers" of New England, but Mr. Williams predated Mr. Sherman by a century. The editor apologizes for the error.]