the good, the bad, and the secular
by Andrea Elizabeth
To develop this statement about human bestowed logoi from the previous post, I’ll change the good, the bad, and the secular to: the holy, the profane, and the street. First to reiterate, I think people get it wrong when they equate the street, or secular life, with worldly passions. Additionally, I think they also get it wrong when they strive for a theocracy in government and law, which rules the street. I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to secular life. Passions are when our desires and strivings are in a state of imbalance that tilts towards greed. However the objects of those desires and our need for them are not bad. When you say that food, shelter, women, art, money and relationship are bad you have tilted towards gnosticism/dualism.
Monarchies used to rule with the idea that they were divinely appointed to rule in God’s name. Most people scoff at that now, but there are still holdouts. The last Tsar of Holy Russia is very much a dividing figure in that regard. On one hand he is considered to have lived in a bubble where his home life was holy and ideal, but that he was out of touch with the needs of his country. On the other hand he is viewed as a martyred saint.
I like royalty and believe good things can come from that style of government, but not automatically divine things. One reason I don’t like to study western history is that it is usually a documentation of wars, which I don’t believe were holy.
Secularism is the market. Do we need the market? It’s hard to say. From very early times trading was going on. The first instance that comes to mind is Esau trading his birthright for stew, but that is considered bad. He was legitimately hungry though. He chose secularism to holiness. Paul says it’s better not to get married because you will have to be concerned with the world/street/secularism. He did not say it was evil or bad to do so. But is forsaking the word for everyone? Yes, to some extent we are all called to die to ourselves and seek holiness. ‘To some extent’ sounds like a compromising way to say it, but what I’m trying to protect is that family people in particular have to trade in the world to put food on the table. In most monasteries even they do business with the outside world. The only monastics who don’t are desert hermits who are fed directly by God. Is everyone else compromised and unholy? Can’t be because there are non desert hermits who are Saints.
So in the last post I talked about evil government Nazis, and this post about misguided holy theocracies, but haven’t spelled out that the street is basically a neutral trade route. Don’t expect more from that or put it on the same moral grounds as holy church life or evil conspiracies. Don’t get all outraged, nor pietistically bleary eyed. This is why I don’t care if Donald Trump is elected. He seems practical about breadwinning, and that’s it. Ted Cruz is on a holy crusade, and I think that is delusional. And since Obama’s government views itself as the holy church of the down and out and has gotten so self-righteous about it, I don’t care if Trump makes mistakes that cause large parts of it to collapse. It’s better than Sanders making it even holier and more inflated. And Clinton is the most greedy.
So it sounds like I’m advocating a division between church and state. Isn’t this why the emperor was a different person than the patriarch? Charlemagne tried to holify his role too much. Not that an emperor can’t be a saint either. Sts. Justinian and Constantine were, but they protected Orthodoxy and didn’t presume to improve it. I was worried that talking about the morality of laws was going to get me into a quagmire, but it’s already sorted itself out. Since the west split from the Orthodox Church, it’s better that it’s laws be viewed from a street-level, secular/trade oriented standpoint instead of becoming misguided morality policemen. Otherwise the left has to protect the immoral from the right’s misguided, stone throwing self-righteousness.