Church and State

Separation of Church and State seems like a linguistic shell game unless that means bona fide separation of ideology from the force to impose ideological uniformity. The more crimes exist for which a state may deprive a person of life or liberty, the more effectively the state may impose ideological conformity. It would appear that the prison population existent in a society represents a reasonably accurate barometer of the actual separation of Church and State, or Ideology and forcible Imposition of Ideologically acceptable behaviors. Politics serves as the established protocol for meddling in other people's lives and businesses, and crime is the State's equivalent term for sin - punishing of sinners as criminals and rewarding of prescribed behavior justify the State's existence.

Crime and punishment, or sin and repentance - forgiveness or acquittal, damnation or indictment - state your preference, if you have one, or take refuge in your refusal. The State seems to leave less room for sanctuary than the Church, and the State has more power to provide sanctuary than the Church. A devilish bargain!

I picture Church and State as one dragon with different cut out clothes and terminological accessories for various tastes and occasions. So many rational people blame religion for the Church's influence that it seems equally rational to blame secularism for the State's influence. A dragon in a dress is still a dragon, and a State with the power to impose ideology is simply a Church operating under a military alias. In order to separate Church and State in my own mind, I look beyond the dragon's new clothes - and naked dragons never look particularly attractive or impressive, they just look like dragons, and all that fancy dress they like to wear tends to conceal the hoards of bullion dragons like to sit on.

Please pardon me while I puke politely. Thank you, I feel somewhat better now. Sorry.

People embrace political convictions with as much evangelical fervor as they embrace a religious faith. Winning converts, recruiting activists, spreading the good news, getting out the vote, chastising sinners, punishing evil doers and criminals, collecting tithes or collecting taxes; the secular language of politics scarcely obscures its religious origins or counterparts. Conversely, the similarities reveal a linguistic connection between the modus operandi of the Church and that of the State. I consider superficial differences in details of outward appearance between the Church and the State relatively immaterial, however dramatically showy outer details may change appearances. Clothes intended to impress seldom wear well… they usually seem like a false front for a human being.

Once I believed patriarchal society was a serious problem, but superiority complexes apparently don't discriminate on the basis of gender. A matriarchal society might do a better job of ruling the world, but a far worse job of letting people live freely. The more political power and influence individual women get, the more determined women seem to play dollhouse with living people. Men prefer to play tin soldiers with living people but when men poke their heads and hands in through house doors or windows to manipulate people at least they don't coo at their victims. Politics created problems with patriarchy, and matriarchal leadership seems to excel at finding new and aggravating ways to abuse political authority. I'm disappointed, but the wiser for my sense of disappointment.

Men do not cause social problems. Women do not cause social problems. People's refusal to relate to each other as human beings causes social problems. Government enables us to accent our differences and magnify our gripes, so according to Cat's theory government never works but it does a damnably good job of accentuating the negative and shirking individual responsibility by passing it around until someone's willing to claim it - like a gag gift that turns up again under the Christmas tree every year.

If anyone has a good recipe for vegetarian crow, please forward it. It feels much better and easier to assign blame than accept responsibility for muddlesome thinking. Gender wars bear all the hallmarks of traditional bogeymen, like the war between Church and State. Make the most of your differences with your earthly neighbors lightly, and you'll never have to concern your thoughts over your weighty similarities with them.

Please pass me the similarities. As I get older, I find I have little appetite for bogeys - and far more tolerance for diversity than I did before I learned to take differences with a grain of salt. If a war on salt is on the table, please don't pass it my way… I'm ready to puke again, and nobody wants a second serving of vomit.

Uh, what's that you say? There is a war on salt? Excuse me, please…

Gaaack.


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