Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Via email, my friend Jim Bush-Resko sends me this article from Harper's magazine. A discussion of the temptation story in St. Matthew's Gospel (4:1-10), it ends on an interesting, and relevant, note.
The three tests point to the weaknesses of the human condition, and the prospect that the believer will be led astray by three false paths. The first is a life devoted to material things at the expense of humankind’s spiritual needs, a life which might today best be understood in terms of a careerist rut. The second which balances the first is religious fanaticism which loses sight of all the earthly duties which humans must bear. But the third is the most intriguing, for it points to the great danger of political power to corrupt and pervert he who holds and wields it. A just ruler, it suggests, is one who does not seek power, but holds it as a burden, and then willingly lets go of it. Political power, it suggests, is the most potent and most dangerous of the three temptations.(emphasis added)

I'm not sure that is true. I do think, however, that it is a reminder that we are not saved by political action. As corrupt as all other human activities, no matter how well intentioned or well thought-out, in the end, politics is about power, which in turn is about coercion. The Christian life is about self-sacrifice; the "power of God" revealed in the crucifix is the powerlessness of the one tortured and murdered by political power.

Any thoughts?

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