Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What did Jesus say...and do? Or: semantic originalism’s supra-legal and transformative politics as found in the living Gospel

Gospel verses for those Christians obsessed with public prayer in government fora:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” — Matthew 6:5

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” — Matthew 6:6

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” — Mark 1:35

“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” — Luke 5:16

Images: “Christ in the Wilderness,” by the British artist, Stanley Spencer (1891-1959)  


Blogger Manach said...

Thanks so much for a selective and self-serving quotes that completely ignore the 2000 years of foundational framework that is the interplay of religious and political threads that make up the Western civilisation norms. Religious observation is certainly not some minor personal quirk that is to confined to the private sphere, but as St. Augustine intimates, needs to be an exampleur as a shining city on a hill

5/13/2014 8:21 AM  
Blogger Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

Unfortunately, you've made some rather extravagant and unwarranted inferences from this post, which was, in part, a tongue-in-cheek reference to one version of "originalism" and, in part, a reminder of how too many avowed Christians rarely invoke or speak directly to, let alone live in any way remotely close to the letter and spirit of the sayings and parables of Jesus. In any case, the norms of Western civilization are a motley, and it is highly contested as to what counts as a "foundational framework," or if any such notion is conceptually or historically availing, which I doubt. Finally, as prayer is only one facet of the spiritual life (and could take a 'silent' form in government settings that need to show respect for non-Christian and secular worldviews as well), my post said nor implied anything whatsoever about confining religious observation to the private sphere: indeed, it would be refreshing for Christians to put into practice the double love commandments and Golden Rule of their New Testament outside the intimate realm and in ever-widening spheres of personal relations and collective action, including the conventional political arena but encompassing economics and social life more generally. Alas, the temptations to make a "show" of one's religion and to accord undue attention and privilege to some of God's children has proven overwhelming for Christians, as Tolstoy well understood.

5/15/2014 12:10 PM  

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