Wednesday, February 22, 2012
REMEMBER YOU ARE DUST AND UNTO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN AND IN KEEPING WITH THAT A REFLECTION FROM "CEMETERY PICNIC"
And for your Ash Wednesday Lenten reflection:
From the new blog, Cemetery Picnic
A blog about things Goth, Legal, Historical, and Catholic
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Obama: A modern-day Emperor Julian the Apostate
I’ve been doing a little research on Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome. Viewing Christians as harmful to Roman society and national security, during his short time as emperor (361-63) he mounted a systematic attack on Christianity in an attempt to restore the pagan religious of the empire. Here is a summary of his campaign by two professors at Emory. The italics are mine.
Soon, Julian became very hostile to Christianity, developing a three-fold strategy effectively to disenfranchise Christians. First, he used legislation to cut off Christians from contact with the mainstream community. Next, he attempted to establish a pagan church structure to rival that of Christianity. Finally, he mounted a philosophical assault on Christianity, trying to show that its belief system was novel and harmful, and also to portray Christians as apostates from Judaism, a much older, more established, and more accepted religion. There is evidence of Julian's attempt to legally disenfranchise Christians both by taking away any special exemptions that they could claim due to their religious beliefs and by prosecuting them for actively advocating their beliefs. A law of the Theodosian Code prohibits decurions from avoiding their compulsory duties on the grounds that they are Christian, and Ammianus spoke of legislation barring Christians from teaching rhetoric and grammar.
Given that progressive collectivism has long advocated and worked to establish a compulsory social welfare system—redistributionist, supported by taxation, and enforeced by the authority of the state—can we not say that this welfare state is a “structure to rival Christianity?”
Next, aren’t adherents of the HHS rule and so-called compromise (including so-called Catholics like Pelosi et al.) arguing that the Catholic “belief system” is “harmful” in allegedly failing to see to women’s health needs (i.e., free contraceptives and abortifacients)?
Thirdly, in refusing to provide any religious waiver and discounting all First Amendment arguments that the HHS rule violates free exercise and compels speech, doesn’t the administration “tak[e] away any special exemptions that [Catholics can] claim due to their religious beliefs and . . . prosecut[e] them for actively advocating their beliefs?” Doesn’t the HHS rule “prohibit[ Catholics] from avoiding their compulsory duties on the grounds that they are Christian?”
As for the oft-repeated secular and administration observations that “98% of Catholics use birth control,” as well as Pelosi claiming to stand with her fellow Catholics against the bishops: this attempt by the administration, those sympathetic to it, and even so-called Catholics to foment dissent within the Church itself is also a tactic that Julian used. Here is a passage from a contemporary of Julian, the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus. Again, the italics are mine.
Although Julian from the earliest days of his childhood had been more inclined towards the worship of the pagan gods, and as he gradually grew up burned with longing to practise it, yet because of his many reasons for anxiety he observed certain of its rites with the greatest possible secrecy. But when his fears were ended, and he saw that the time had come when he could do as he wished, he revealed the secrets of his heart and by plain and formal decrees ordered the temples to be opened, victims brought to the altars, and the worship of the gods restored. And in order to add to the effectiveness of these ordinances, he summoned to the palace the bishops of the Christians, who were of conflicting opinions, [i.e., including Arians and other heretical bishops] and the people, who were also at variance, and politely advised them to lay aside their differences, and each fearlessly and without opposition to observe his own beliefs. On this he took a firm stand, to the end that, as this freedom increased their dissension, he might afterwards have no fear of a united populace, knowing as he did from experience that no wild beasts are such enemies to mankind as are most of the Christians in their deadly hatred of one another.
So, these divide and conquer tactics currently being used by secular authorities to interfere in Church governance and thus neutralize Catholic power go back almost to the days of the martyrs. Given all this, is it unreasonable to say that the Obama administration and its fellow travelers are not deliberately trying to break the power of the Church?
Finally, note Julian’s fear of Christian charity, for fear that it will detract from his own paternalistic activities. Here he is in his own words (my italics):
We must pay especial attention to this point, and by this means effect a cure. For when it came about that the poor were neglected and overlooked by the priests, then I think the impious Galilaeans observed this fact and devoted themselves to philanthropy. And they have gained ascendancy in the worst of their deeds through the credit they win for such practices. For just as those who entice children with a cake, and by throwing it to them two or three times induce them to follow them, and then, when they are far away from their friends cast them on board a ship and sell them as slaves, and that which for the moment seemed sweet, proves to be bitter for all the rest of their lives — by the same method, I say, the Galilaeans also begin with their so-called love-feast, or hospitality, or service of tables, — for they have many ways of carrying it out and hence call it by many names, — and the result is that they have led very many into atheism.
Of course, Julian thought Christians to be atheists. That isn't the problem that the world has with the Catholic Church. Quite the opposite, in fact. But the world very much does want the Church out of the adoption business, and now, it seems, out of the healthcare business as well, if it isn't going to do the will of the state in Catholic hospitals. In fact, the world would be very happy for the Church to just go away completely. What, after all, is the point of the HHS rule, if not to coerce Catholic institutions into acting no differently from secular ones?