Wednesday, December 8, 2021

A Brief History of Republics as Germinal Beloved Community (Polis): A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Athenian democracy in 6th-century bce as one fruitful exemplar of a polis, good republic, and then the germinal garden of differing beloved communities perhaps.

I have just published another paper in a series on democracy, history, theology, literature and other music as it resonates and let’s me fly away. In this paper, I discuss these first three things:

  1. For the purpose of setting the stage, an excellent piece of a series by Maria Charlotta Marićon on a new vision and praxis of Christian Democracy in Sweden from my Christian Democracy public community, entitled “The Importance of Natural Communities.”
  2. My discussion of this thesis in the context of the larger, longer and often bewildering history, both beautiful and terrifying, of these natural communities by analogy as the Beloved Communities in first centuries of Christianity and the recurring patterns of their growth and change (see Acts 2: 42-47). I argue these beloved communities correspond to the original “polis” or body public, “res publica,” thus our classical and modern republic that begin in the hills of Greece 8th century bce as small city-states and “something funny happens to them on their way to the forums” and academies of Plato and Aristotle where they are reimagined and made relevant again in the 4th and 3rd centuries bce. [This link is to hilarious movie with Zero Mostel “deconstructing” the august authorities of classical period.]
  3. I then offer a meditation from my spiritual journal dated October 29, 2021 to affirm that I have wrestled with similar concerns and ideas for perhaps far too long: then in the context of our own American Century that we can chose by way of historian’s artistry and privilege as beginning with President McKinley’s decision to extend the Spanish-American War that began in “our Western Hemisphere” of the established Monroe Doctrine into the Philippines. This was considered at the time as a critical violation of our anti-imperialist first principles and pace movements, but so goes the history of republics as I write above.

And thus, these first three things reveal again a certain one eternal and palpable thing, I will leave for you to contemplate and interpret on your own. But this prayer of McKinley may spark a hint:

In 1899, McKinley spoke to the General Missionary Committee of the Methodist Episcopal Church at the White House and described his decision-making process in intervening in the Philippines: “I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight, and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed to Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night it came to me this way — I don’t know how it was, but it came — (1) that we could not give them back to Spain — that would be cowardly and dishonest … (4) there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and christianize them, and by God’s grace to do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died. And then I went to bed, and went to sleep, and slept soundly.”

Please join my new experiment and adventure in privileging everywhere all that is “true, honest, pure and lovely,” every astonishing difference in each and every child, beloved community and people of the epic grandeur of our life together, so that our eternal God impossibly gratefully palpable and prodigiously embracing us in love who is already wherever and whenever I privilege in this way, privileging me back.

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