Thursday, July 19, 2007

Van Dyke on Moore, and the Hindu Chaplain:

Great comment by Tom Van Dyke on Roy Moore and the Hindu Chaplain.

As a matter of housekeeping, may I point out that you’ll find that Hinduism has many sects, and they’re all over the map re polytheism. Adams was not an honest inquirer as he searched other religious traditions for a (one) God Who conformed to his. He found isolated things he liked, and ran with them.

In fact, it’s safely said that the non-orthodox Christian Founding class who worked that vein were positively Panglossian re comparative theology. If Providence, redemption, and karma are theologically or philosophically reconcilable, a plain reading of the Founders’ letters shows reconciling them was beyond their ability.

But look, I’m glad that Roy Moore has been consigned to the “Where Are They Now” file at WND, but there is some truth in what he says, the problem being that he doesn’t know why or where, which makes him easy pickings for the sophisticated and unsympathetic.

And let’s also praise Rajan Zed, the Hindu chaplain, whose benediction and invocation of the Almighty sought and found the common ground between his tradition, the Founding tradition, and the 80+% of Americans who remain nominally Christian. They’re all in attendance—the individual, Chesterton’s “democracy of the dead,” and we the living, we the people.

It’s quite clear that there were two universally held beliefs among the Founders, one that Providence smiled on the birth of this nation, and second that the right to freedom that the Almighty endowed us with must be tempered with respect in dealing with one another.

Between Rajan Zed and Roy Moore, I’d say it’s the Hindu guy who understands better what this here America is all about: Zed left Moore’s own beliefs plenty of room; Moore leaves Zed’s none at all.

And so, Zed is free to say a blessing for the congress, and Moore is free to rage on his World Net Daily street corner. Justice is done, the republic abides…

…enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter — with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people?—Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address

What Adams did in "finding" his monotheistic God in Hinduism parallels what Whig thinkers in general did with their ideas in other contexts. The notion of Enlightenment suggests that certain things are true every where every time and that all reasonable men see such. "Republicanism" was *the* "enlightened" form of government. As such they took Whig ideas that had fully germinated in the 18th Century and projected them onto all sorts cultures and contexts, that really weren't examples of enlightened republics at all. For instance, some preachers absurdly argued that Ancient Israel had a "republic." The Greeks and Romans did have ancient democracies and republics. But the Whigs' interpretation of such viewed them as more like 18th Century republics than in reality they were.

I remember a big fuss a few years ago about the notion that the idea of modern republican government traces to Native Americans. Some 20th Century multiculturalists were trying to run with this. Apparently the multiculturalists got this notion from Ben Franklin's writings. After studying Whig propaganda for the last few years, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Franklin argued the Indians, like the Ancients Israelites and Greco-Romans, really had a enlighted republic much like the one they were trying to establish. Because after all, such is the government of all "reasonable" men in all times and places. (In reality, the American Indians no more had a republic than the Ancient Israelites did.)

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